BY BOB ZIMMER
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP
We just want a seat at the table.
From the very beginning, that is what many of us who have expressed concern about how the province has handled proposed caribou recovery plans have said.
When Premier John Horgan travelled to the region in April he promised to change how he and his government communicated with our communities and acknowledged that more needed to be done to include local leaders in these discussions.
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
The Peace River Regional District recently released a letter they had written to the premier expressing their extreme disappointment in not receiving an invitation to participate in the Leaders’ Table regarding the draft Intergovernmental Partnership Agreement for the Conservation of the Central Group of the Southern Mountain Caribou.
It seems the premier forgot to invite the same local government that served as his backdrop during the press conference in April when he promised to do better.
It is unacceptable that local leaders like the Peace River Regional District, our local Members of Legislative Assembly and the local Member of Parliament were not invited to participate in these important discussions.
I have written to Premier Horgan expressing my concern that local leaders continue to be shut out of the process and urged him to ensure that all key stakeholders are included in any future meetings.
While I am pleased to hear that since writing that letter it was announced that a Peace River Regional District representative will now be a part of the Leaders’ Table, it’s unfortunate that the district had to write to the premier in the first place and there still doesn’t seem to be a place for provincial and federal elected officials.
There is no doubt that all of us want the caribou to survive, however these decisions must be based on science and include local leaders who can provide vital information on how these decisions will affect our communities.
To exclude those who can provide valuable insight into how to make caribou recovery work in our region will only continue to undermine public confidence in the consultation process.
If the premier is serious about changing the way his government is handling caribou recovery, he will ensure we all have a seat at the table.