Read more with local MLA and new Minister Doug Donaldson in the July 26 edition of The Interior News.
Stikine’s MLA is in the new B.C. NDP government’s cabinet.
Doug Donaldson was sworn in as Minister for Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development last week. The Rural Development part of the portfolio was added by the new government.
He could be the busiest new Minister — the wildfire situation falls under his jurisdiction.
Donaldson was on his way to visit evacuees sent to Prince George when he spoke to The Interior News last Friday and had yet to be briefed by the deputy minister on his portfolio because of his criss-crossing the province dealing with the emergency situation.
“The immediate issue on my plate of course is the public safety issue around the wildfire situation and evacuees, and making sure that people are safe and their livestock and their pets are safe, and that they get back into their homes,” said Donaldson.
The Red Cross is providing $600 every 14 days to help each evacuee household.
“It’s pretty unprecedented because normally 14 days is a long enough period for that $600 payment, but what we’re hearing and anticipating is that some people are going to be out of their home for longer than 14 days,” said Donaldson.
He was set to meet with the mayor of Prince George and federal Defence Minister Harijit Sajjan and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough, who is from B.C.
Meeting with the federal ministers Saturday was an opportunity to talk about the next big issue on Donaldson’s plate: softwood lumber.
“We need to have the most significant voice at those negotiations between the federal government and the U.S.,” he said.
“[Meeting with the federal ministers] is another opportunity to bend their ear and make sure they know what our major desires are.”
Premier John Horgan was also on his way this week to Ottawa and then Washington.
In the longer term, Donaldson hopes to help the forest industry innovate to create more jobs in a sustainable way. He also pointed out that wildlife management is in his new portfolio. He said moose is top of mind.
Another issue that covers is banning grizzly trophy hunting.
“That’s something we’ll be looking at legislative and regulatory mechanisms to enact. But first we’ll be doing further consultation with all impacted groups. My approach is always to talk to people most affected first and hear their opinions, and then incorporate that into how we enact commitments,” said Donaldson.
Despite having such a busy new job, Donaldson insists he will not forget his first job: MLA for Stikine.
He pointed out the Kispiox Music Festival this weekend was likely going to be the first public event he was visiting as Minister.