Sunday, October 25, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday, October 23, 2009

Familiar names are on the ballots at Lax Kw'alaams, the window is closed for letters to Canpotex and the SPCA Shelter closes due to a virus outbreak, some of the items of note for the Friday news gathering sessions.

Daily News, Front page, headline story
ELECTION FOR CHIEF COUNCILLOR KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY-- Sampson family lines dominate the race for the Chief Councillor of Lax Kw'alaams, with two brothers and a brother in law putting up a challenge for incumbent John Helin and Gary Reece the other high profile participant in the five person race, which culminates with Novembers election. (story provided below)

The first word from Canpotex reached the Daily News for Friday's edition, as the potash giant from Saskatchewan suggested that Prince Rupert is still in the running for their planned development of a potash terminal, either here or in Vancouver. In a bid to reinforce this communities desire to see them locate here, the Chamber of Commerce is urging local residents to show their enthusiasm for the project with letters of support. Though by the time the Daily News had hit local front doors and mailboxes with the details on the letter writing campaign, the deadline for those submissions was almost up, expiring on the same day as the Friday edition came out. (Story provided below)

Friday morning's surprise early morning blackout for most of the city was good news for McDonald's which did some gold rush like business on Friday morning, but the power outage was not such good news for local businesses and services in the downtown core who were without power until 9:30 am. BC Hydro reports that a faulty breaker at the city's substation was responsible for the five and half hour outage which struck at 3:47 am Friday morning.

Figure skating and Grade 8 volleyball were the featured attractions in the Friday sports section.

(All posted Daily News Archive Articles for October 22, 2009 )
Northern View
Virus outbreak forces temporary closure of Prince Rupert SPCA-- The Prince Rupert Animal Shelter at the SPCA is closed for at least the next week after an outbreak of Canine parvovirus was discovered at the east side shelter(see story here)

Daily News, front page, headline story
Election for Chief Councillor, keeping it in the family
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, October 23, 2009

It seems for Lax Kw’alaams, band council elections are a family affair.

But one family, the Sampsons, have entered four brothers into the campaign with the hope is one of them can knock off incumbent John Helin and the person considered his main competitor, Gary Reece.

“We can’t rely on Gary Reece and John Helin to run this community forever. There are other people who can do just as good,” said chief councillor candidate Malcolm Sampson.

Former Chief Councillor, Reece - who sat in the top political seat in Port Simpson for nine years - will be running against first time incumbent and long-time election rival, Chief Councillor Helin.

But there are five candidates in total for the position of chief councillor once Stan Dennis is included, and perhaps the most intriguing part of the election is the sibling rivalry, which pits two brothers, Malcolm and Tom Sampson, and their brother in law, Reece against each other.

“People have been telling me to stay in the race and that makes me believe that I have a legitimate shot at winning,” said Malcolm.

His older brother concurred.

“We don’t always agree on the same thing, but if [Malcolm] wants to run for Chief, all the power to him,” said older brother Tom Sampson.

While family affairs might seem trivial, when it comes to election time it relates to band council and can play a significant factor.

CBC once described Lax Kw’alaams as “a community at the end of the forgotten road”, where unemployment was rampant, the community was facing a suicide rate that if experienced in Vancouver, would have been a national disaster and it had no work, no play, and what looked like no future.

Tough times have not entirely turned around and there has been concern about employment opportunities in the land of roses.

Reece, who lost by 21 votes two years ago, said that it’s the economic issues that need to drive this election.

“We thought we were going to get production for our fish plant this year, but that didn’t happen and it had a huge affect on our community. Our people are going to be looking for employment and that is something I want to put in place,” said Reece.

Malcolm Sampson, a business owner for 30 years, said that for real economic success to begin in the area there needs to be real educational success first.

“The kids that go to post-secondary school only go to school for three years here and that is not long enough,” said Malcolm. “School funding is only offered for three years and some of our kids in Rupert will tell me that when they are just about finished their welding programs their funding is cut off.”

Education is an issue that Malcom and Tom both share as priorities and there is concern that two brothers running could siphon-off votes for either one and give a clear advantage to Helin, Dennis and Reece.

Malcolm Sampson said he isn’t concerned about that and he believes that because both have differing points of view that voters should pay attention to their platforms and not their bloodlines.

One of the economic drivers for the community is the fish cannery in Port Simpson, but 2008 was not the best year for salmon and 2009 was for many fisherman and shoreworkers even more difficult. Both Sampsons would like to see the cannery diversify the kinds of fish meat product running through the facility.

“I’d like to put a plan together – to have a plan for this cannery that doesn’t seem to work,” said Malcolm.

He added he would like to see the community move forward with planning for wind power projects near Dundas Island and create job opportunities that way.

There is also the unresolved issue that is an official agreement with the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

The PRPA and Lax Kw’alaams band council have been unable to finalize any kind of an agreement.

Reece said an agreement is close, but it was also considered close this time last year.

“That’s going to make a huge difference for members living in Prince Rupert, to have an opportunity to get work there, provided they have the training for it.”

Lax Kw’alaams politics has been coloured by Reece running against Helin for years. And having both return to run is not an uncommon event on the North Coast - where defeated politicians have often made one more go of it.

Prince Rupert’s mayoral race last November saw two former mayors run again for the City’s top spot, Jack Mussallem and Don Scott – and it was a close one.

Malcolm Sampson told the Daily News he fully expected this year’s chief council race to be airtight.

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