Ajax should have full federal panel review to create confidence: NDP leadership candidate


NEWS/ POLITICS — Regardless of the fact he grew up on Vancouver Island and is not affected by the outcome of the proposed Ajax open-pit copper mine outside of Kamloops, the aspiring head of the B.C. New Democrats is siding with those calling for a full federal panel review of the project.

John Horgan speaks to Kamloops crowd tonight.

John Horgan speaks to Kamloops crowd tonight.

John Horgan, who is counting down the days to be acclaimed as the party’s new leader at 5 p.m. on May 1, believes the federal panel review is needed to create certainty around the decision of whether Ajax proceeds.

“The full panel is required because the public needs full confidence,” said Horgan, who has worked in a pulp mill and favours resource development — if science determines it’s a good proposal.

“The process has to be legitimate in the public mind.”

Horgan criticized the two Liberal representatives for Kamloops — Terry Lake and Todd Stone — for not getting that panel review for citizens who have been demanding it. He said Lake especially, as former environment minister and now as health minister, should have concerns about Ajax in view of those two portfolios.

While he hasn’t been to the mine site himself, his colleague Rob Flemming has and explained to Horgan it’s 1.5 kilometres from a school and homes — a proximity that doesn’t make sense. However, he said, the company should have the right to go through the process — even though Horgan said he’d commit to backing the community.

“I will stand with you through this process. It’s what I’ve been asked to do.”

Horgan spoke to a room of about 65 party faithful at Desert Gardens tonight (Tuesday), many wearing anti-Ajax buttons. Among those gathered were three candidates in the last provincial election that the NDP were supposed to win as easily as taking candy from a baby: Kamloops South’s Tom Friedman, Kamloops North’s Kathy Kendall and Fraser-Nicola’s Harry Lali.

Relaxed, joking and obviously enjoying his tour of B.C. without having to go after another leadership candidate, Horgan didn’t back away from contentious issues that have plagued the NDP. Even the fast ferry fiasco got a mention and a few pokes as Horgan teased that his handlers didn’t want him to mention the overspending scandal.

But he also threw in the B.C. Liberals’ own over-budget projects such as the Port Mann Bridge and the B.C. Place roof, and Crown corporations, which Horgan described as being in crisis. He named the B.C. Lottery Corp., B.C. Ferries, B.C. Hydro and ICBC.

As the NDP’s energy critic, Horgan has put B.C. Hydro’s plans for the Site C dam under the microscope. He said the Crown corporation’s huge losses are due to overproduction and that’s prompting a rise in rates. Horgan is conflicted about the dam; on the one hand, the Peace River already houses two other dams. On the other, there’s no need for the power at this time and there are impacts.

It’s too complicated to give a simple yes or no to, he said.

The lack of leadership challengers has created a quiet tour rather than a raucous round of debate, but Horgan doesn’t mind. While he loves a good debate — he laughed as he talked about some of his moments debating Kevin Krueger in the legislature — he also realizes a leadership battle can create division in-house.

Friedman supported Horgan as leader in 2009 because of his candour and “that certain something,” he said.

“He listens and that’s so critical.”

Lali is a Horgan fan, too.

“He’s very honest, passionate about life and politics,” he said.

Horgan isn’t afraid to go after the Liberals and their actions, nor is he afraid to tackle the tough issues, he said.

“John deals with things and moves on.”

About Mel Rothenburger (9367 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on Ajax should have full federal panel review to create confidence: NDP leadership candidate

  1. The BC NDP has become like a bad Broadway musical. They keep changing the star due to poor attendance, bad reviews and mistake filled performances. Failing to see the true problem is the cast and crew aren’t doing their jobs.

    While the party establishment has rallied to Horgan’s side to ensure their places and fiefdoms. The BC Liberals are licking their lips, as once again the party power brokers picked their favourite. Look for them to zero in on the severance cheque that he signed for Dix and to lure him into gaffes. Horgan is very gaffe prone and will do so at least once every 3-4 months.

    Looks like Clark will be the Premier for sometime to come.

  2. Thank you, John Horgan.

    He is the first senior politician to publicly push for Federal Panel Review. The vast majority of residents have been asking for it from the beginning. Those opposed are afraid Ajax will fail to pass public scrutiny – so don’t go there.

    Terry Lake, Tod Stone, and Krueger failed to represent their constituents. Kathy McLeod is comfortable with her gov’ts decision to deny residents a proper review. Mayor Milobar is providing zero leadership in the most important concern to face Kamloops in it’s history – pathetic display of cowardice.

    The BC EAO process is seriously flawed. Our Minister of Mines (Bennett) even tries to disrupt the Panel’s report on Prosperity (shows how much respect he has for environmental assessments). Kamloops residents deserve the best review available, and that is what we must have – we should settle for nothing less.

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