How can coming to see for yourself be inappropriate?

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
August 31, 2017 - 4:59am

KAMLOOPS — Environment Minister George Heyman’s refusal to come to Kamloops to talk about Ajax defies the normal bounds of logic, but politics is only occasionally logical.

Heyman says in a letter to City council through Acting Major Arjun Singh: “it would be inappropriate for Ministers to engage in discussions with parties regarding the Ajax project and the forthcoming environmental assessment decision at this stage of the process.”

Let’s get back to that in a minute. Heyman goes on at some length telling the City things it already knows, much better than Heyman does, in fact.

When a cabinet minister puts in writing that “I understand that this report” and “I am told that” in reference to the joint federal-provincial report that is at the root of the City’s concerns, there’s reason to worry.

It’s that very report that the minister is supposed to read and understand as the basis for making the decision on Ajax.

He then goes on with a lot of blah blah about the comment period and, of all things, encourages council to read the joint assessment report and draft provincial summary assessment report, even directing council to a section beginning on page 13 that mentions concerns about the project.

Those reports are exactly what council is worried about — after reading them. How can coming to Kamloops to discuss the content of a crucial report that will play a major role in Heyman’s decision be in any way inappropriate? How could coming to see the mine site for himself and to appreciate firsthand how huge it will be and how close to a major B.C. city be inappropriate?

The process, he reassures council, is designed to “ensure the process is fully transparent.” Not enough for him to come see for himself, obviously.

Council members had quite the discussion Tuesday about “poking” politicians on Ajax. Singh is of the view that the best approach is to play Mr./Ms. Nice Guy. Others on council are all for doing some poking. They’re deadlocked at 3-3 on the approach.

Council played the Nice Guy role for six years. That’s what got us to where we are now — an environment minister who hasn’t yet read the report or come for a look-see giving the town the brush-off.