OPINION: Horgan takes a pass on the Cariboo

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

After two and a half years of being in government, Premier John Horgan is set to take his very first official tour of northern British Columbia starting this Thursday.

As you may have noticed, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House are not on the list of designated stops.

This is too bad because this week would have been Horgan’s real first opportunity to see how bad the forest industry really is in this province.

Since 2017 however, Horgan and his political handlers have been focused primarily on the lower mainland where the NDP managed to gain most of their new seats in the last election.

Only four of the NDP’s 41 seats at the Legislature are from rural British Columbia, and it shows by their list of priorities.

Ride-hailing, eliminating bridge tolls and replacement of the George Massey Tunnel confirms that just about anything related to Metro Vancouver is the NDP’s primary focus. Everything else is secondary, and it shows.

Horgan stood by and did nothing for the better part of the year while our forest industry collapsed. When the NDP finally got around to putting together some kind of package to assist displaced forestry workers, it was later discovered that Horgan cancelled the $25 million Rural Dividend Fund in order to come up with the money.

The whole purpose of the Rural Dividend Fund was to provide local governments with funding to help diversify local economies.

Now we are hearing that money for another program, Innovate BC, is also drying up at a time when the government should be trying to bring high tech opportunities to rural communities.

I would love to show the Premier just how important the forest industry is to British Columbia, not just in rural B.C. but the whole province. Unfortunately, Horgan and his political handlers do not consider this a priority.

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