Friday, May 08, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Premier comes a calling, Lax Kw'alaams makes a decision and the Queen of the North may just stay where she is, some of the items of note in the Thursday edition of the Daily News.

CAMPBELL MAKES A PIT-STOP IN PRINCE RUPERT-- As we outlined on this very blog on Wednesday afternoon, Premier Campbell made a pit stop in Podunk, in a hopeful bid to boost the chances of his candidate in Tuesday's Provincial election.

With Liberal candidate Herb Pond by his side the Premier made a number of appearances around the city highlighting his support for phase two of the Fairview container port, and as though to compliment his interest in the north, he could conveniently point towards the harbour and focus our gaze on the new BC Ferry the Northern Expedition.

Both of those talking points provided for a wonderful photo backdrop for candidate and Premier, the Daily provided some details on the morning visit as their front page, headline story in Thursday's paper. (Full headline article can be found below)

Elsewhere in the Thursday paper, the folks in Lax Kw'alaams have come to a decision on their place in the great Northern Gateway debate, with the band council of that community rejecting any support for the proposal which would ship oil from the Alberta tar sands, through a terminal at Kitimat and on to markets in the USA and Asia.

The Lax Kw'alaams taking a cue from the Exxon Valdez incident of years ago, decided that they could not lend their support to the project as it has been outlined, expressing many concerns over environmental matters, they join a small but growing list of First Nation communities that have also expressed opposition to the project. Enbridge has reached agreements with a number of First Nation communities along the pipeline path, but seem to be running into the most opposition the further west they go.

Zero chance of removal, that seems to be the opinion of BC Ferries CEO and President David Hahn, who outlined his thoughts of the fate of the ill fated Queen of the North currently resting at the bottom of the ocean off the shores of Hartley Bay.

It's an opinion, if not a decision, that won't sit well with the residents of the isolated community, who fear that fuel and other chemicals from the wreck will have long term consequences of the environment of that area of the BC coast.

Two young basketball talents from the local high schools were featured in the sports page on Thursday, as the Daily News outlined the path ahead for Celina Guadagni and Brittany Moore who both will represent Prince Rupert on a Northwest basketball team for under 14 girls.

The Daily also took a look at the upcoming KISL softball season which recently got under way.

Total pages in Thursday's paper (14)

Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Page one

The demolition of the Inlander hotel wasn't the only thing - or person - drawing attention in Prince Rupert Wednesday.

British Columbia incumbent premier Gordon Campbell paid a visit to the City of Rainbows in to talk to tour local facilities and drum up support for his candidate on the North Coast, former Mayor Herb Pond.

Campbell, on the campaign trail as he pushes toward a third-term in B.C., was looking to make the North Coast riding a key battle ground for Tuesday as voters head to the poll.

“We simply cannot take a chance on the NDP,” said Campbell.

Campbell spoke about how business leaders have said that 20'09 was not the year to take a risk in the province, that in a time of economic recession his party was the only party that could lead the province to better times.

"We are going through a real challenging time and you have already gone through that time in Prince Rupert," said Campbell.

Campbell made his comments at the Museum of Northern B.C. where the party had fastened a large Herb Pond sign to the front of the building and had parked a ferry in nearby Atlin terminals a reminder to Rupertites of the success the B.C. Liberals have brought to Prince Rupert.

Prince Rupert is also home to one of the, province's highest level of unemployment at 12.9 per cent compared to the provincial average of six per cent. Both candidates in the riding have used such facts to lever an advantage, as Pond has suggested he'll bring jobs to Prince Rupert, while incumbent BC NDP Gary Coons said the, numbers show that the provincial government has failed Rupertites.

One project that would help alleviate the unemployment concerns is phase two of the Fairview Container Terminal.

The B.C. Liberals have come under criticism for not prioritizing the planned growth, but Campbell said his party is fully committed.

"The port will be one of the fastest growing ports in North America," said Campbell to a supportive crowd.

"We are going to build phase two and get this port to two million TEU."

When asked about the money spent on South Delta Port compared to the Port of Prince Rupert ($2.5 billion versus $30 million) Campbell said he didn't know who was raising the questions.

"The fact of the matter is the vast majority of investments being made in the port are being made by the port," said Campbell.

"They are not provincial investments, they are port investments. I don't think there are very many people here - who know about the history of the container port - that would say that I haven't been one of the strongest advocates of that."

He added that phase two financing would not get underway until there was a business model in place, but that he expected growth in the Chinese market would deliver four million TEU's by 2015.

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