VANDERHOOF (July 26, 2019) – Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad, the BC Liberal Forestry Critic, is calling on John Horgan to replace the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development after MLA Ravi Kahlon was assigned as Parliamentary Secretary to the file today.
“John Horgan has assigned a former NDP political director to babysit his ineffective forestry minister just two weeks after demoting him by removing his responsibility for wildfire recovery,” said Rustad. “That demotion didn’t go far enough, as Minister Donaldson has dragged his feet for two years, unable to help British Columbians that rely on the forestry sector. He has to go.”
MLA Rustad agrees with the Vancouver Sun’s assertion that Donaldson’s removal from the disaster recovery file was “fraught with unintended irony, given that Donaldson has himself been a bit of a disaster as a minister.”
The NDP announced today that Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon was appointed to the role of Parliamentary Secretary for forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development and will assist the Minister “in working with communities and stakeholders in the Interior as the forest industry faces significant challenges.” This isn’t the first time Horgan has been forced to seek assistance elsewhere. When Donaldson fumbled the controversial caribou recovery file, Horgan had to reach out to former BC Liberal MLA Blair Lekstrom to bail him out.
“Following the demotion and Kahlon’s appointment, it is clear that John Horgan has no confidence in his forestry minister,” added Rustad. “John Horgan’s reluctance to fire this Minister is an insult to forestry-dependent communities who are in crisis across our province. The Premier needs to own his mistake and replace the forestry minister immediately.”
Earlier this month, the BC Liberals unveiled a 5-point recovery plan for British Columbia’s struggling forestry sector which has already seen 119 weeks of operational downtime announced at various mills as well as seven permanent and indefinite closures this year.
“Forestry-dependent communities lost 6,600 direct jobs in 2018,” concluded Rustad. “Appointing a Parliamentary Secretary to the file is the first job John Horgan has created in the forestry sector since coming to power two years ago.”
Below: Forestry Sector in Crisis under NDP backgrounder attached.