MP’s budget meetings popular in Queen Charlotte, Masset

  • Feb. 20, 2009 11:00 a.m.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen held his final budget consultation meetings this week, meeting with about 12 people in Queen Charlotte Wednesday and another 18 in Masset Thursday. The MP said the meetings were to give residents a chance to have some input on the federal budget, recently passed, since the federal government almost never consults rural areas at budget time. In Masset, the MP focused discussions on six areas of the budget, taxes, bailouts, infrastructure, spending cuts, the social safety net and the environment. He then broke the large group into two, to make discussion easier. “This whole economic collapse to me was black and white for many years. Why did everybody miss what was so obvious,” Tim Fennell of Port Clements asked.”It’s always about growth,” Chris Ashurst of Tow Hill Road, asking if there’s such a thing as a sustainable level in the economy where growth is not needed or important. Meredith Adams talked about energy. She said even with BC Hydro paying a higher price for locally generated electricity, “it still makes it illogical” as the selling price still doesn’t cover the cost of production. She also spoke in favour of the government offering a rebate for installing ecologically-sensitive energy production equipment. Other concerns expressed included the fish waste problem and Employment Insurance. After an hour’s discussion, the two groups were reassembled.Reporting for the group he headed, Art Lew of Masset said people felt that the social safety net needs improvement. He noted that Employment Insurance doesn’t respond to people who are in extreme crisis, and as well, small business owners cannot contribute to nor draw EI benefits.Mr. Lew said his group was concerned that infrastructure projects on the island should use at least some local materials and labour, and he said that because the way the islands are losing population, attention needs to be paid to infrastructure items such as recreation, education, health care and better broadband internet service. Mr. Lew’s group agreed that taxes are too high given what we receive and “everybody is against bailouts”, he said. Mr. Cullen reported to the full group on discussions in his smaller one. He suggested full cost accounting is an important concept, where the cost of disposing of packaging, for example, needs to be reflected in an item’s cost. The concept was applied to food, treated wood (a current issue in Port) and the fishery. Mr. Cullen said his group had discussed the fish waste disposal issue, and thought that a good approach would be creating fertilizer out of the offal, for use in the forest and gardens, but only if a solid, full business case could be made, meaning no one wanted to see the solution subsidized. Group members also agreed they’d like to see more possibilities for local businesses to bid on government contracts to benefit the local economy. On bailouts, “we didn’t like them either”, Mr. Cullen said, adding “why not invest in where the economy is going to be, not where the economy was.” Towards the end, Mr. Cullen said he was pleased with the input islanders gave him. “Some of the ideas I got out of you tonight, I would never have got out of the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce,” he said. Those attending appreciated him as well. “You are the best,” Chris Ashurst said, “you are the most engaged MP I have ever seen.”Mr. Cullen plans to do three things with a synopsis of what residents expressed;. mail copies to everyone on the islands. combine islanders’ comments in a larger document which also contains comments from the other eight communities visited and mail a copy to everyone in the riding. give a copy of the final report to the Minister of Finance and all other major federal players in the riding, including Western Diversification, Indian and Northern Affairs, and DFO.

Just Posted

Grim situation in coming year for northwest, B.C. fisheries

Annual post-season review in Prince Rupert informs DFO on how to manage 2019 fishing season

Another windstorm expected Monday, causing ferry delay

With another windstorm expected to hit Haida Gwaii on Monday afternoon, BC… Continue reading

Jason Alsop, Gaagwiis, elected Haida Nation president

Jason Alsop, Gaagwiis, is the newly elected president of the Council of… Continue reading

On the Wing: Small birds and berries

By Margo Hearne Into the chill. The Christmas Bird Counts will be… Continue reading

Saturday storm to hit Haida Gwaii with 80 to 100 km/h winds

A strong southeast storm is expected to hit coastal areas of Haida… Continue reading

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

Out of the doghouse: B.C. city lifts ban on pup who barked too much at dog park

Cameron the Shetland sheepdog is allowed back into Uplands off-leash dog park under some conditions.

No flood of extremist returnees to Canada expected, federal report says

The report says some 190 people with connections to Canada are suspected of terrorist activity abroad

Canada-China relations turn icy over arrest of Chinese exec

The Huawei case has threatened to complicate U.S.-China efforts to resolve a bitter trade dispute.

Prosecutor signs off on former B.C. Liberal government’s quick-wins probe

David Butcher said in a statement released Monday that the RCMP recommended charges under the Elections Act

Canadian physicist who won Nobel Prize touts science for the sake of science

Donna Strickland, 59, said securing the field’s highest honour has given her a significant new platform

Too many die in heavy truck crashes, B.C. auditor says

Province has no mandatory driver training for commercial vehicles

B.C. city considers scrapping funds for Christmas decorations

Victoria city coun. Ben Isitt doesn’t think the government should pay for any religious symbols

Most Read