Friday, January 23, 2009

Dan Veniez: From the editorial pages to the briefing room

Having shared his thoughts on radio and in the editorial pages of Canada’s newspapers, Dan Veniez has now caught the ear of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mr. Veniez, currently Chairman of Ridley Terminals, and the former head man of New Skeena forest products at Watson Island, offered up his views to the Prime Minister as part of a group of Canadian industrialists and financial observers last week, outlining the issues that he believes the government needs to concentrate on to strengthen Canada’s economy.

Over the years since New Skeena accepted its fate and shut down, Mr. Veniez has been a frequent contributor to such papers as the Globe and Mail and Vancouver Sun, appeared on the province's most listened to radio station and was profiled in detail nationally, for his work in Northwest BC during those tumultuous New Skeena days.

It’s not surprising that he would be tapped by the Prime Minister for his consultations, as this Globe and Mail profile outlines; he was a prominent participant in Conservative circles during the Brian Mulroney days of governance. And he certainly hasn’t hurt his chances of staying on with the program with his effusive praise of the job the Prime Minister has done so far.

For some that might be reassuring, for others a tad horrifying, regardless, at the moment Mr. Veniez seems to have some political capital to spend in the nation’s capital, it will be interesting to see if any of his suggestions or recommendations bear any fruit for the Northwest.

Former mill boss on PM’s think tank
The Daily News
January 22, 2209
Pages one and five

Some of the most important figures in Canadian finances met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week to discuss the future of Canada's economy.

Included in that group was former pulp mill boss and Rupert Terminals Inc. Chairman Dan Veniez, who said he flew the Northwest flag in terms of getting increased infrastructure and attention from Ottawa.

Of the recommendations Veniez said he made, one of the most compelling was advising Harper that a major change in the Indian Act was necessary if the country was to have proper growth through much of the Canadian heartland.

"It is a blight on Canada and prevents any economic growth and development. (We) need to open up investment flow to rural Canada," said Veniez.

He mentioned that the Gitxsan's proposal to maintain land title that was defended in court and affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Delgamuukw decision in 1997.

The Gitxsan claim that titleholders are the Gitxsan House groups and the representative titleholders continue to be the Chiefs that govern the lands and resources as they have since time immemorial.

The Supreme Court of Canada directed the Gitxsan to reconcile their pre-existence with Crown title.

But these instructions did not include forfeiting title to the Crown.

"They have made a ground-breaking proposal to federal and provincial negotiators to do precisely that.

"I strongly encouraged the Prime Minister to use his good offices to further that process," said Veniez.

Veniez was joined by Jim Pattison, former provincial minister of Finance Carole Taylor, West Fraser Timber's Hank Ketchum, Teck Cominco's Don Lindsay (Tech Cominco), BC Business Council Virginia Greene, and retail magnet

Other topics that were thrown around the table were investing in infrastructure, incentives to small business and the need for the often defensive Prime Minister to communicate with Canadians on a regular basis.

Veniez added he was happy that Harper was the man in charge during the country's turbulent ride through the economic downturn. He said he was impressed with the Prime Minister's intelligence.

"My question was what to do to prepare the country to be stronger than ever coming out of the cycle? Times call for bold action and leadership."

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