OPINION: Horgan refuses to act on forestry

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett’s regular column for the 100 Mile Free Press

Fed up with inaction on the part of John Horgan and the NDP, forest workers on Vancouver Island converged on the B.C. Legislature last week to demonstrate the need for government to do something to prevent the industry from further collapse.

Hundreds of workers arrived from small, remote island communities dependent on forestry. They wanted to express the same level of frustration that workers in the Cariboo have with a government that appears frozen like a deer in the headlights.

Three thousand have been off the job for almost six months in what is turning out to be the province’s longest forestry strike ever between Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers.

Gathered in protest at the Legislature, and within earshot of a cabinet meeting in progress, one after another, forestry workers asked why the government is refusing to intervene in a strike that is harming communities up and down the island and the coast.

The demonstration followed a viral YouTube video of a meeting that I wrote about last week between North Island MLA Claire Trevena, and her constituents who have pretty much reached their limit with this government’s stalling tactics.

Up until now, the provincial government has largely ignored the forestry crisis in rural and northern B.C. because the NDP has few seats outside of Metro Vancouver.

The strike at Western Forest Products is different, however, as the NDP holds eight of the twelve seats on Vancouver Island, yet Horgan still won’t act.

That’s because United Steelworkers are the NDP’s biggest financial supporter and Horgan refuses to help end the strike.

But there comes a time when government can’t take sides in a labour dispute and must take action when two parties are too far apart.

There is some hope that a settlement may be reached before Christmas, but not thanks to a premier unwilling to step up to the plate.

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