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On the positive side, Clark easily outperformed Dix in her reply to questions posed by Vote Mining. To a large extent she took credit for industry success, reiterated her record and made future projections that might be more sales pitch than policy. But hers was far more specific than Dix’s largely platitudinous response.
Mining might have played a role in the re-election of at least one of two BC Liberal MLAs in Kamloops, a small city in central B.C. A controversial issue was the Ajax mine, KGHM International’s proposed $795-million copper-gold open pit partly within the town boundaries. One of the two NDP candidates opposed the project.
Not that everyone in mining supports the BC Liberals. Stephen Hunt, western Canada director of the United Steelworkers, says his union represents about 7,000 to 8,000 B.C. mining workers, depending on industry activity. The USW endorsed the NDP. “I think an NDP victory would be beneficial because then we could stop talking about permitting mines and actually do it,” Hunt told ResourceClips on May 10. Dix had proposed a 55-day turnaround time for notice of work permits, compared to the 60-day objective set by the BC Liberals in February.
Dix also said he would press the federal government to resolve aboriginal treaties. Hunt sounded less optimistic about such a goal but said, “I think the NDP may have a bit of a lead because of their approach to things. They’re a little more respectful to the environment, a little more respectful to first nations…. If you look at the debacle with HD Mining, no one even thought of employing first nations people.”
Before the polls closed, Mining Association of B.C. president/CEO Karina Briño told ResourceClips, “Regardless of the election results, our priorities do not change.” She said the industry requires “a climate which will allow for continued growth. That means clear process, clear timelines, transparency when it comes to requirements when submitting an application for an approval, a permit or an environmental assessment certificate. It means skilled people in the government running the process, it means clear investment opportunities as well in terms of taxation, infrastructure, access to power, access to water, etc.”
She added, “We’re looking forward to working with the government to make sure our priorities and our contributions to the economy of the province are well understood.”
Relief notwithstanding, uncertainty prevails over the BC Liberals’ leadership. At press time Clark was trailing her own riding by 360 votes. She’s known to be unpopular among her caucus, some of whom were reportedly ready to dump her. Will the party’s astonishing victory cause a change of heart? Or will the knives come out anyway?
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