Coons comments on caucus kerfuffle

  • Oct. 25, 2010 6:00 p.m.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons says that while he supports party leader Carole James, he’s looking forward to the day when former NDPer Bob Simpson is allowed back into the caucus. Ms James booted Mr. Simpson from the ranks of NDP MLAs a few weeks ago after he made negative comments about her speech to local government representatives at the Union of BC Municipalities conference. “It was a decision made in the leader’s office and I respect that decision,” Mr. Coons said. “But I personally believe there should have been more input.” Mr. Simpson was a valuable member of the party, Mr. Coons said. An expert in forestry and rural communities, he came to Haida Gwaii a few years ago with Mr. Coons to hear the concerns of forest workers. “Bob was an integral part of our caucus,” Mr. Coons said. “I look forward to Bob getting back in the caucus and continuing the work that he’s done.” Meanwhile, despite the Simpson episode, the NDP are doing extremely well in the opinion polls, while Liberal popularity continues to plummet. “Due to Gordon Campbell and the Liberal self-destruction and their arrogance, it’s not looking too bad for our party,” he said. However, popularity can only go so low, and it will be a while until voters go to the polls. “It’s two and a half years until the next election and I would hope people judge us by the policies we’ve been pushing for.” Mr. Coons is planning to visit Haida Gwaii in November, although he’s not yet sure of the dates. Right now, he’s still busy dealing with the aftermath of the huge flood that hit the Bella Coola valley this fall. “I spent six days down in Bella Coola with my boots on, going into houses,” he said. “It’s absolutely devastated.” The community has lost livestock, fencing, equipment, tools, seeds, fruit trees, market gardens and more than 270 tonnes of winter feed. Local farms are not eligible for help through the Provincial Emergency Program, he said, because most Bella Coola-area farmers also work at other jobs and don’t get all their income from farm business. Meanwhile, the community is desperately searching for money to buy hay so farm animals won’t go hungry this winter, he explained. Mr. Coons said he’s been trying to find assistance, and that the province should consider changes to how it helps communities that experience disasters like this in the future.

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