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Northern B.C. balks at employing migrating welfare recipients

Snow covered logs are seen outside the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake, B.C. Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012.

Jonathan Hayward/ The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward/ The Canadian Press

A pilot project by the B.C. government to fly welfare recipients to the North and house, clothe and train them for jobs in the bustling resource sector is "ridiculous," says the Burns Lake Lakes District News in Burns Lake. The scathing editorial urges government to offer the same opportunities to those on welfare in Northern communities. "It seems a little unfair to offer 'exclusive' employment and retraining initiatives to people based entirely on their postcode doesn't it?," the newspaper says. "Once again it seems that those in the Lower Mainland are going to benefit, while those in the North go unnoticed. It seems the old saying 'there is no hope past Hope' is ringing true again."


"Why is Premier Christy Clark opposed to an inquiry into the B.C. Rail political scandal and the payments of $6-million to cover the legal fees of two men who pleaded guilty to breach of trust," asks Kamloops This Week. The case stemmed from an investigation into allegations of bribery of government officials by lobbyists seeking access to secret documents relating to the sale of government-owned B.C. Rail. "Why would taxpayers foot the bill for two men who admitted their roles in a bribery scandal," the newspaper says. "It doesn't make sense." Yet, Premier Christy Clark – who was deputy premier at the time of the scandal in 2003 – rejects calls for a public inquiry. "Shouldn't the premier – who has professed innocence in the case and, indeed, who was long ago cleared of any wrongdoing employed by [David]Basi and [Bob]Virk – want to know why the B.C. Liberal government of the day agreed to pay the legal bills of two men who admitted guilt? The fact this government refuses to divulge such information to those who paid the tab is astonishing," the newspaper says.

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The Campbell River Mirror says former Liberal MLA John van Dongen was justified in raising the B.C. Rail case when he quit the B.C. Liberal Party last month to join the B.C. Conservatives. The newspaper says the case is a mystery. "[Ms]Clark was at least peripherally involved in the sale of the Crown corporation back in 2003, and definitely had very strong ties to several of the central figures. The extent of her involvement in the sale remains a mystery, and denials aren't the same as actual proof," the paper says. "What adds intrigue to the B.C. Rail case was the government decision to pay the legal fees of the two former aides . . . just as former finance minister Gary Collins was about to testify." Mr. van Dongen has merely stated what many others are thinking, the paper says, adding that Mr. van Dongen has just given Liberals a good reason to at least take another look at voting for an alternative.


Government approval of the controversial $1-billion Jumbo ski resort in the Kootenays was soundly condemned in an editorial in the Creston Valley Advance. "The Jumbo Glacier Resort is a dumb idea that has been embraced by a desperate government that measures its future only as far as the next election," says Lorne Eckersley, the newspaper's publisher. The government for two decades did not give the go-ahead to the project. "I wonder what the current brain trust believes has changed?" the publisher writes. "Why would a government that, from all appearances is on shaky ground come the next election, choose to pick a fight with the Ktunaxa Nation, which considers Jumbo to be sacred ground and vows to anything it takes to stop the project? Have Premier Clark and her cabinet decided its only hope lies with the urban vote, one that is more likely to ignore the obvious environmental impact of the development and to dismiss the clear – the polls I found all found Kootenay residents to be at least 65 per cent against it – sentiments of Kootenay residents?," the paper says. "Or maybe it was just as simple as a ruling party seeing an opportunity to deep-six MLA Bill Bennett, a constant thorn in its side, for once and for all."


Meanwhile in federal politics, The Comox Valley Record says the controversy over fraudulent robo-calls in the federal riding of Vancouver Island North is just the most recent issue that leads to Canadians bypassing polling stations even when they know where they're located. "No investigation has been conducted and no wrongdoing proved, let alone discovering how robo-callers might know which voters to target. Still, it would not be a shock to learn that some ethically challenged person tried to tip the scales. For some people in a hurry, the old-fashioned method of finding a worthy candidate, crafting a platform that appeals to voters, then running a hard but clean campaign might be too – old-fashioned," the newspaper says. "Besides following U.S. parties in using robo-calls to promote their candidates, our politicians have taken to savaging opponents (i.e. the Stephen Harper Tories discrediting Michael Ignatieff) with slick attack ads." Add to that fraudulent robo-calls, and is it any wonder Canadians are not showing up at the polls, the newspaper says.

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