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Smithers rally supports resource jobs and pipeline

About 45 gathered at Main St and Hwy 16 in support of resource jobs and Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Several generations at what was dubbed a jobs rally in Smithers. Chris Gareau photo

A rally was held last Saturday in Smithers to show support for resource jobs and, more specifically, the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta to B.C.’s south coast.

Kinder Morgan has become a point of contention between the two provinces’ NDP premiers, with B.C. Premier John Horgan adamant that he is protecting the coast from potential catastrophe, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley suggesting the fuel taps may be turned off to show how oil and gas are still a much-used commodity in B.C. and overseas customers who want to buy Alberta product.

The rally saw about 45 people converge on Gordon L. Williams Rotary Park at Main Street and Highway 16. Speakers included organizer Dennis Mackay, former Telkwa Mayor Carmen Graf, current Telkwa councillor Brad Layton, and Kitimat electrician and business owner David Johnston. He designs, installs and maintains gym equipment.

Johnston felt it was important to drive all the way to Smithers so he could make his views known. He added he was, “honoured to be asked.”

“What’s important to me is fighting to see my neighbours succeeding, and seeing the town that I’m in flourish,” Johnston told the crowd gathered.

“So in order to have these jobs happen, we need to be louder than the protestors,” he continued, adding he sees all industries succedding as important.

Johnston has organized a group based in Kitimat using the social media hashtag #TheNorthMatters. He said people are considering opening branches in Smithers and Prince Rupert.

“If we want these opportunities, we have to come out and fight for them. I’ll tell you right now, from my observations, career politicians aren’t going to fight for us; they’re going to fight for votes. If that means shutting these projects down to get votes, that’s what they’ll do,” he said.

Some local politicians were there, however. Telkwa Coun. Brad Layton said he did not see environmentalists protesting the Kinder Morgan projects as the biggest problem.

“They are a problem; they are radicals. But our biggest problem is our bureaucracy and our politicians. There’s an attitude [by them] that the working person in British Columbia is too stupid to be a part of the decisions that are made in this province,” he told the crowd.

“And the other part is the way the government is set up back when Canada became a country or federation, was we elected representatives who took our concerns and our needs to the government body so we can get things done that we couldn’t do locally because of funding, like hospitals and schools. And that’s changed. They don’t listen to us anymore.”

Layton pointed to what he called “the war of the woods” in the 90s, where groups were created to support resource jobs.

“We are the silent majority, so a little bit of time from each and every person can add up to a very big movement that we can start turning things around,” he said.

Telkwa Coun. Brad Layton. (Chris Gareau photo)
Rally organizer Dennis Mackay. (Chris Gareau photo)
Former Telkwa Mayor Carmen Graf. (Chris Gareau photo)
A rally attendee leaves a sign at Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson’s Smithers office. (Chris Gareau photo)