Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen came for some face to face time in Fort St. James last week.
Cullen, also house leader for the official opposition, had meetings with the District of Fort St. James, RCMP, Mt. Milligan and others while in town for the day.
Cullen took a bit of time out of his busy day to chat with The Courier about some of what was on his mind and say a few words on some issues.
On Mt. Milligan:
Cullen said he is “trying to get as much benefit as humanly possible for this community” from the project. While he thinks the company has done a good job with training (for which he also credits the Fort St. James College of New Caledonia) and the environment, he said he would like to see them do better on their promise to have more people live here.
Housing issues in the community make this difficult, and while Mt. Milligan owns lots which could be developed, this is not happening.
Cullen said Mt. Milligan is one of the first companies to have to go through what he called “the new reality” in terms of expectations from communities to leave a legacy.
“I want to see this town prosper.”
On energy and energy projects:
“We need a map,” said Cullen, who wants to see a “polluter pay” system at the heart of a national energy policy.
“These resources, you only get to do them once, so do them well.”
Cullen said industry, the provinces and First Nations are all calling for a national energy strategy and he called the huge numbers of proposed projects in the region a “wild west” with little forethought.
He said with the large number of proposed liquified natural gas pipelines and projects being looked at to take the natural gas from northern B.C. and Alberta, there is still no plan for a corridor for the pipelines to go across the province in order to minimize the overall impact. Included in these is the impact to forestry as each one would require clearing a large area over the length of a pipeline.
Cullen likens the role of government in these situations to a referee managing competing teams.
“You protect the integrity.”
On the proposed referendum on the decriminalization of marijuana in B.C.:
“The Conservatives are locked into a tough on crime mantra,” he said. “Even when the policy has been a failure.” While Cullen’s party’s official position is decriminalization of marijuana possession under certain amounts, Cullen said he’s not necessarily convinced the public is ready for the drug to be legalized, but he also doesn’t think what is currently in place is effective.
“The status quo is terrible.”
On Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau:
While he admits Trudeau gets a lot of attention for his name and celebrity status, Cullen doesn’t think Trudeau will necessarily lead the Liberal Party back to official opposition status.
“We’re interested in celebrity, I think that’s natural.”
“Some of his first and only real policies have not been really thoughtful,” said Cullen, using Trudeau’s support of unlimited Chinese ownership of Canadian companies as an example.
On The KEY Resource centre:
Cullen was very excited about the potential impact of the new centre in downtown and applauded the College of New Caledonia’s efforts in making it happen.
But he also said he also understands why people would be concerned when a large company like Enbridge is providing financial support for projects and the potential for concerns over the motivation or possible strings.
“It forces us to figure out what we’re about,” he said, adding community’s need to think about what they are willing to do for the funding.