Politician Bob Simpson slams peers for private-sector business photo-ops
The independent MLA for Cariboo North, Bob Simpson, has called for an end to politicians participating in private-sector business announcements.
In a commentary that appears on Straight.com, Simpson argued that when elected officials link themselves to companies’ public-relations efforts, this “only adds to the public’s concern about the already too-close relationship between corporations and government, and it simply feeds the cynicism voters have toward politicians and the political process”.
“It’s always fascinating how politicians jump at the opportunity to get their photos taken when private companies make investment announcements,” Simpson stated in his article. “However, they’re nowhere to be seen when those same companies announce mill closures or cancel previous investment announcements.”
He cited the example of a recent photo-op at a West Fraser Timber mill, in which B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Steve Thomson, B.C. Liberal MLA Donna Barnett, and Williams Lake mayor Kerry Cook joined company officials.
“The politicians crowed that West Fraser’s announcement is proof that the forest industry in the Cariboo is facing a bright future,” Simpson wrote. “Where was the photo of those same politicians when Tolko announced last week that it has decided to permanently shut down its Creekside sawmill in Williams Lake? Using the political logic that private investment means a ‘bright future’, should we interpret the Creekside closure as a sign that our forest sector is facing a ‘dismal future’?”
He pointed out that when a company declares its intention to invest, it doesn’t always follow through on that pledge. “Enbridge’s recent and grossly underreported announcement that it will mothball Phase 1 of its nearly-completed natural-gas processing plant in the North Peace is a classic case in point,” he noted. “The brand new multimillion dollar facility will now sit idle, having never processed any gas, because the natural-gas market has collapsed.”