Last week, a YouTube video surfaced of a closed-door meeting between North Island MLA Claire Trevena and frustrated constituents from struggling Vancouver Island logging communities. It showed several heated exchanges between Transportation Minister Trevena and forestry sector workers in Campbell River, who have been left feeling abandoned by Premier John Horgan and the NDP.
Those forestry workers aren’t the only ones feeling abandoned. As we enter the holiday season many are left out of work and have been provided nothing in terms of relief from the NDP government.
Instead, as the forestry crisis is worsening, news broke that Premier Horgan has created a relief fund for illegal cannabis growers in the Kootenays.
Think about that — at a time when the forestry industry is imploding and thousands of workers are unemployed across the province, this government is providing taxpayer dollars to illegal cannabis growers.
The Cannabis Business Transition Initiative was quietly announced last month and gives $675,000 to help existing illegal cannabis growers in the Kootenays “overcome the barrier to operation in the legal economy” as they transition out of the black market.
Conveniently, the Kootenay region receiving the funding happens to be home to two NDP MLA cabinet ministers.
It’s understandable to want to support an emerging industry, but it flies in the face of common sense to put taxpayer dollars in the hands of previously illegal enterprises, meanwhile claiming there is no money left to support the industry that grew this province.
Last month, B.C. lost a staggering 25,800 private-sector jobs, with natural resources and agriculture jobs the hardest hit sectors amidst the downturn.
People are being pushed to the brink financially, paycheques have disappeared, creditors and bankers are looming, vehicles and equipment are being repossessed. Will the message ever sink in at the cabinet table in Victoria?
One forestry worker let Trevena hear it during the heated meeting in Campbell River last week stating: “Victoria is its own economy. They don’t even feel what's happening here, but the accountants, lawyers and politicians are all getting paid full time, full bore, on the back of all of us.”
To date, there have been more than 10,000 job losses in B.C.’s forestry sector this year alone and zero new funding available for the forestry industry.
You would hope that a government who cares about hardworking British Columbians would prioritize supporting a struggling industry over supporting black market pot growers.
Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.