Vancouver, BC – Until John Horgan attended a recent meeting of the membership of IAM District Lodge 250, Machinist support for the NDP in the upcoming provincial election on May 9th was less than Luke warm.
As far as the rank and file were concerned, there were too many unknowns about exactly where the NDP stood on issues like pipeline construction, environmental regulations, jobs, hydro-electric dam projects, and more. “We put out an invitation to NDP leader John Horgan to come and talk to the membership,” explained IAM District Lodge 250 Directing Business Representative Walter Gerlach. “We made it clear, if you want our support then you’ll have to explain your policies and that means face to face. To his credit, John came to our meeting and I think he cleared the air, dispelling the myths that were worrying our membership.”
Pipelines have become a major battleground across the province and the NDP policy has concerned many Machinist members in BC. Horgan for example has taken a strong stance against the controversial Pacific Northwest LNG project proposed for northwestern B.C., and has told reporters that if certain conditions were attached to it, the NDP might change its mind. He went further at his meeting with Machinists stating pipelines are good as long as you place a refinery at the end of them to create more jobs in BC. He wants to stop the practice of raw logs exports without a financial return for British Columbia.
Regarding the Site C hydro-electric dam project, Horgan was very critical of the ruling Liberal government under Premier Christy Clark. He told IAM members that no dam has even been built in British Columbia without a regulatory process which includes a commissioned report on the project. The Site C was allowed without a commission, without a trade labour agreement and with no agreement on apprentices. Horgan said he would enforce a labour trade agreement on the project if possible.
“Did he win the members over, that’s hard to gauge, I would like to think so but time will tell,” said Gerlach. “He wants our support, now the members have to decide.”