Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Campbell steps into Ralph Klein's boots; James says Libs 'abandoned' forest towns

WILLIAMS LAKE – British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell took his first step into New Democratic Party-held territory Saturday while wearing a pair of cowboy boots supplied by former Alberta premier Ralph Klein.

Campbell, who usually sports city-slicker dress shoes, stepped off a campaign bus to supporters' chants of "Four more years."

But NDP supporters shouted "No more years," as Campbell headed into the 19th annual Williams Lake indoor rodeo.

Campbell said his brown cowboy boots were a gift from Alberta's former premier to mark that province's 100th birthday.

The mood at the rodeo was celebratory, but the underlying feeling in the Cariboo region is anything but that as residents struggle during tough economic times in the B.C. economy.

Forestry, mining and ranching are mainstays of the area, and many people are hurting. The area's forests have also been devastated by the mountain pine beetle.

The acting mayor of Williams Lake said the presence of NDP supporters at a Liberal campaign stop is a sign of healthy democracy in the region. Surinderpal Rathor said the ranching, mining and forestry town has been pummelled by the economic downturn and people are looking to government for help.

New Democrat Charlie Wyse won the Williams Lake seat in 2005 by a handful of votes. Rathor said his year's race between the NDP and Liberals is too close to call.

"Your guess is as good as mine," Rathor said.

While visiting a huge log-home building site, Campbell said he's aware of the struggles people are facing because of the troubled forest industry. But he said the province must take better advantage of huge potential markets in China and the United States to pull the province out of its problems.

"We actually have to be willing to take a look at how we take advantage of the markets that are in front of us," he said.

As Campbell was campaigning in the Cariboo, NDP Leader Carole James spent the day in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island before heading north to Prince George.

But she began her day in the premier's Vancouver riding, which overlooks the Fraser River via which raw logs are exported out of B.C.

"This government has abandoned the major industry that built this province and you can see the effects of it right in Gordon Campbell's riding," she told The Canadian Press.

James said the number of logs being exported has doubled since the Liberals took office in 2001 and that has led to 3,000 forestry workers losing their jobs. But the Liberal party disputed that, saying log exports from Crown lands have actually decreased by 25 per cent since the party came into power.

"The forest industry is always cyclical," James said. "You'll always have market issues, you'll have border issues, you'll have dollar issues. Governments can't control those outside factors. But their job is to help the industry whether there's tough times, and this government has abandoned the industry."

James said people in the Comox Valley have suffered huge job losses in the last two years alone, and that she met with one man who was laid off last October. "(He and his wife) talked about the impact on the number of families in their little cul-de-sac. Five of the six houses were owned by people who worked in the industry and those families have left town."

Dirk Meissner reports for The Canadian Press.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus