Pat Pimm will be facing some competition in his run for MLA of Peace River North.
Arthur Hadland, Area C director for the Peace River Regional District, has announced that he will be running as an independent in the 2013 provincial election. He received 31.3 per cent of the vote in the last election, despite announcing his independent candidacy late in the race.
“There’s no future in those parties,” said Hadland, explaining his reasons for running as an independent.
“They become subservient to the party structure and the constituents become second in the process.”
Karen Goodings, chair of the Regional District, says that Hadland is a determined advocate for the North.
“He has worked very hard (for the PRRD) and he does have some definite issues that come to the forefront, like the HST and agriculture, that are very important to him.
“He will carry the message forward if he is given the opportunity,” Goodings said, adding that her vote remains undecided.
Blair Lekstrom, MLA for Peace River South, says that being an independent MLA in Victoria is a difficult job.
“It’s tough, as an independent, to be productive in the sense of being able to get work done in Victoria regardless of who the government is … but Arthur always works hard,” said Lekstrom.
He added that he thinks Pat Pimm has and, if given the chance, will continue to serve Peace River North well.
Goodings said that one of Hadland’s main motivations is to ensure that the province uses its natural resource endowment in a responsible manner.
“His biggest concern is one of removing our oil and gas resources and shipping them offshore rather than doing something with the resources that would be a benefit,” Goodings said.
Hadland points to the controversy over the Liberal government’s sale of BC Rail as a demonstration of where the interests of the public were undermined by what he sees as the endemic corruption and mismanagement that plagues Victoria.
“They gave away British Columbia Rail (BCR) for $1-billion, which was nothing. It was really an absolute giveaway. BCR was starting to make money but that wasn’t the real purpose of BCR.
“BCR was to stimulate growth and commerce in all sectors of British Columbia from Fort Nelson all the way down to the Lower Mainland and it was doing that,” Hadland said, noting that BCR had also provided some competitive balance to CN and CP railways.
As an independent voice representing the interests of Peace River North, Hadland says that he won’t hesitate to speak up on the issues.
“I think we need openness and transparency – however we do it. We’ve got to have real honest public debate and we’ve got to somehow strengthen the governance structure so that it can’t be run as a dictatorship. There’s got to be more checks and balances in there,” Hadland said.
Hadland is in favour of eliminating the carbon tax because he thinks that it mainly benefits the petrochemical industry and puts B.C. at a competitive disadvantage.
“We have a strong petrochemical industry who run the whole economy. What I think we have to do is take a different tact and start trying to figure out how we can create efficiencies in using these carbons,” Hadland said.
He is also in favour of scrapping the Clean Energy Act, which he says is a hypocritical document.
“When they put that in place they wanted to construct another dam on the Peace River [Site C] which up until now had been turned down twice by the B.C. Utilities Commission,” Hadland said.
The reasons for the Site C proposal have shifted over the past couple years from heating 450,000 new homes, to powering the extraction of natural gas from the Horn River Basin, to providing energy for the proposed LNG plants on B.C.’s coast, he said.
“Here they’re asking the taxpayers of British Columbia to subsidize industry for the purpose of pumping a raw product overseas,” Hadland said.
“Our river valleys are finite and we have so many other sources of energy that are available. So why would you ruin a resource laden piece of our real estate, which is a tremendous wildlife site, and has Class 1 agricultural land?”
The potential for cost overruns on the proposed $8-billion project also figure into his opposition.
“They could build an equivalent natural gas power generating site for about one fifth the cost. Any of the other dams that they’ve built in the last decade or so, the overruns have been 40 to 50 per cent of the actual estimate given to begin with” Hadland said.
He is opposed to shipping raw resources overseas and would rather see refining or other value-added services, which he says create jobs, done in B.C.
“Like most British Columbians, we’d like to see an infrastructure where we employ our own people and get the best benefit from the secondary and tertiary uses of that energy,” Hadland said.
“We have to have a strategy for our natural gas and how we’re going to use it long-term. If there really is 150 to 200 years [of natural gas] here, let’s come up with a long-term strategy to benefit people and benefit the public coffers.”
Blair Lekstrom does not agree with many of the policies advocated by Hadland but gives him credit for announcing his candidacy.
“We see politics differently, not on every issue but a number of issues,” said Lekstrom.
“Anybody willing to put their name forward if they think they’ll be able to build a stronger province, I give them credit.”
Pat Pimm, MLA for Peace North, was unavailable for comment.