Skeena MLA Ellis Ross (centre) chats with Mark Doratti, Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce second vice-president from (left) Claudia Blair, executive director, Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and director Vanessa Riplinger at the Tourism Discovery Centre Thursday. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Skeena MLA visits Williams Lake

The Official Opposition Critic for Natural Gas and Petroleum Resources toured Williams Lake and met with the local chamber Thursday

Non-Canadian decisions are influencing elections and resource development in B.C., said BC Liberal Skeena MLA Ellis Ross during a stop in Williams Lake Thursday.

“I thought at first it was a conspiracy theory to think that way, but the more I read in terms of the facts and what’s been happening, the more I realize that someone has to speak up about this,” he told the Tribune.

Lately Ross has been making it his mission to raise his concerns and as the BC Liberals’ Official Opposition Critic for Natural Gas and Petroleum Resources, he’s got the perfect platform.

“Take oil and gas for instance,” Ross explained. “The thoughts out there about the industry are not our own thoughts, it’s part of a larger campaign that is hell-bent on stopping oil and gas product from Canada reaching Asia. I can’t be silent about this.”

Ross addressed the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce during its regular luncheon and toured the city with Cariboo Chilcoltin MLA Donna Barnett who he said has been “relentlessly” inviting him to come to the Cariboo.

“Williams Lake is busy and I see so much going on here,” Ross said. “The parking lots are full — I kind of envy you guys.”

In his community of Kitimaat Village on B.C.’s North Coast, Ross served the Haisla Nation Council from 2003 to 2011, and was elected chief in 2011.

He resigned to run in the provincial election last May.

Through his time on council he was involved with oil and gas projects and said when the first project came before council it was for an import facility.

“We actually helped convince them to change it to an export facility,” Ross said, noting people in his region support LNG. “If anything there’s only one spot along the pipeline route between Prince George and Kitimat where they are having difficulty finding a route.”

Ross said in his election campaign he promised he would fight for the area’s economy, which embraces Terrace south to Kitimaat, north to the Nass Valley and Alice Arm, east to Cedarvale and west about half way to Prince Rupert.

When asked if he’s enjoying being an MLA, he chuckled.

“It is a strange position to be in, given where I came from,” he explained. “I came from a reserve, with no future, no dreams, no plan to get anywhere.”

As a teenager he fell into using drugs and hanging around, he said.

One night when he was standing in front of the fire hall in his village, watching people, he had an epiphany and decided to become a basketball player.

He credits getting into the game and the nudging of a high school English teacher who encouraged him to work harder at school for turning his life around.

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