BC LIBERAL candidate Carol Leclerc brought up a representative from B.C.’s best known political family last week as the provincial election campaign began to take shape.
Brad Bennett, son of former Social Credit premier Bill Bennett and grandson of premier W.A.C. Bennett, who forged the Social Credit party into a decades-long political powerhouse, accompanied Leclerc on several stops in Kitimat and in Terrace.
“There’s a great feeling,” said Bennett after a visit to Kitimat where Rio Tinto Alcan is replacing its aging aluminum smelter and where several LNG projects are slated to go ahead.
“The key is to get to the ‘yes’ and to get the best benefits deal for everybody,” he said.
Part of ensuring benefits from large industrial projects are widespread is the recognition that First Nations must be involved, said Bennett.
“You have to negotiate impact benefits agreements. They have defined economic benefit aspects,” he added.
Bennett urged local governments in the northwest to work together on region-wide benefits agreements.
“With everything that is going on here, there are vast opportunities to make things happen,” he said. “Our resources are now in great demand and there is a great opportunity for this province that can be seized.”
Although his father and grandfather were politicians, Bennett said he stayed out of politics until now.
“I care about what’s going on here and around the province and I’ve agreed to dedicate my time to the premier and the BC Liberal party right to the end of the campaign,” he said.
Bennett added that only premier Christy Clark and her government can bring the kind of leadership needed to capitalize on a growing resource sector.
“I’m just not convinced that an NDP government can get to ‘yes’ because of its special interests. You have environmentalists who oppose development and big labour who want development. They can’t get to the ‘yes’.”
Bennett was also in Smithers where the BC Liberal candidate for the Stikine riding is former Telkwa mayor Sharon Hartwell.
And he went to Prince Rupert to take in the nomination meeting for Judy Fraser who will represent the BC Liberals in the North Coast riding.
Bennett is a developer in his hometown of Kelowna and sits on a number of boards, including BC Hydro and Kal Tire.
He is also the vice-chairman of the Fraser Institute and the chair of an organization called MITACS which combines private and public sector money to place graduate and post-doctoral university students with businesses for real-world research and development opportunities.