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Wilkinson, Furstenau take aim at NDP forestry policies as campaign enters final week

Wilkinson, Furstenau take aim at NDP forestry policies as campaign enters final week
Canada
The final week of British Columbia’s election campaign got underway Saturday as NDP Leader John Horgan promised better cancer treatment options, while his rivals took aim at the New Democrats’ forestry policies.

During a campaign stop in Metchosin on Vancouver Island, Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said the NDP have not substantially changed the status quo of forestry management despite promising to do things differently. “Over the last 3.5 years, the cutting of old growth has continued as fast as it did under the B.C. Liberals,” she said, reading from the party’s platform.

Furstenau reiterated the Greens’ commitment to fully implementing the recommendations of the provincially appointed review panel on managing old growth forests, promising to work in partnership with First Nations and to put an immediate stop to old growth logging in high risk ecosystems.

“We cannot continue to liquidate our natural resources for the benefit of shareholders of massive corporations while continuing to shed local jobs in communities across B.C. as mills close.”

Furstenau, who is running for re-election in Cowichan Valley, was joined by south island candidates Andy MacKinnon and Gord Baird.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson also took his campaign to Vancouver Island, where he visited Campbell River. He was joined by North and Mid-Island candidates Helen Poon and Norm Facey.

New Democrat incumbents Clair Trevena and Scott Fraser are not seeking re-election, heating up competition in the two ridings.

Wilkinson accused Trevena of doing nothing to support forestry communities during an eight-month long strike that ended in February.

“There’s a very strong sense here of being fed up with the NDP,” he said. “We can address that because we’re proud of the forest industry and we will support them on the island and throughout British Columbia.”

The Liberals’ platform points to 45 full or partial mill closures since the start of last year, affecting more than 10,000 workers, while the NDP says previous Liberal governments oversaw a 40 per cent drop in the number of coastal forestry jobs.

Horgan, meanwhile, started the day in Kamloops, where he discussed the party’s plans for a new cancer treatment centre in the city.

He said the centre is part of the party’s proposed 10-year cancer treatment plan that would receive $450 million in funding in the first three years.

It would “not just be doing treatment, in terms of chemotherapy and radiation, but it’ll also be there for diagnostics and other genetic work that will be transformative,” he said.

Horgan promised the services would be delivered within the mandate of the next government if the NDP is re-elected next Saturday.

He was joined in Kamloops by Anna Thomas, Sadie Thomas and Aaron Sumexheltza before making stops in Merritt, Penticton and Oliver.

Another NDP candidate, Nathan Cullen, faced criticism on Saturday for comments overheard at a recent all candidates’ debate.

In a video posted online, Cullen can be heard poking fun at the Liberal candidate for North Coast, who is Haida. He said Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial isn’t well liked in his community before laughing at his nickname.

The high-profile candidate for Stikine responded on Twitter, writing, “I apologize unreservedly for my comments and have done so personally to Roy. I need to, and will, do better.”
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