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MLA Simpson blasts politicians for seeking photo-op glory with business owners

It's one thing to hear that politicians shouldn't be hogging the spotlight when businesses create new jobs. It's another thing to hear that from a politician. But Bob Simpson, independent MLA for Cariboo North in British Columbia, is saying just that on his website.

In a posting headlined "Photo-ops and PR," Simpson ruminates on the selective art of the photo-op in his region, noting "the recent photo of a group of politicians (replete with hard hats and big smiles) that graced the front page of the Williams Lake Tribune when West Fraser Timber announced that they would be investing in their planer mill there. The politicians crowed that West Fraser's announcement is proof that the forest industry in the Cariboo is facing a bright future.

"Where was the photo of those same politicians when Tolko announced last week that it has decided to permanently shut down its Creekside sawmill in Williams Lake?" asks Simpson. "Using the political logic that private investment means a 'bright future,' should we interpret the Creekside closure as a sign that our forest sector is facing a 'dismal future'?"

Simpson also marvels at politicians' ability to stay well clear of bad news: "Enbridge’s recent and grossly under-reported announcement that it will mothball Phase 1 of its nearly-completed natural gas processing plant in the North Peace is a classic case in point. The brand new multi-million dollar facility will now sit idle, having never processed any gas, because the natural gas market has collapsed."

Simpson finds it "funny that no politicians have commented on this corporate decision and its implications for the natural gas industry in B.C."

So is Simpson calling for an absolute end to ribbon cuttings and other photogenic high-fives between business owners and the government officials who wish to appear friendly to their aims? Yes he is.

"Politicians should not be involved in private sector announcements, positive or negative. Having politicians involved in the PR of private corporations only adds to the public's concern about the already too-close relationship between corporations and government, and it simply feeds the cynicism voters have toward politicians and the political process."

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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