Local USW Activists Protest at the Office of Liberal MLA Bill Bennett

Local USW Activists Protest at the Office of Liberal MLA Bill Bennett

Ron McKenzie – Trail BC

A peaceful protest rally was held today, Nov. 21st, on the doorstep of BC Liberal MLA Bill Bennett’s office in Cranbrook, BC.  USW members from across the East and West Kootenay’s  came together to show their collective disgust over the conduct of the BC Liberal government in the temporary foreign worker scandal unfolding in BC coal mines.

Organized by Local 9346 out of Sparwood, the event was intended to keep public attention focused on the theft of resources, good Canadian jobs, and the cloud of abuse and disaster that hangs over the Chinese coal mining industry.  As well as, to confront those in our government who are bringing this cloud to us.

Bennett was called out to explain his rational and to engage in a public debate over the issues being brought forth in his riding.  However, he did not come out to meet with the crowd that gathered and his office remained locked and shuttered though a sign on the door stated it was to be open at the time.

Even though the Liberal MLA didn’t show his face, many members of the Cranbrook public were there to hear the message and their support was clear.  Traffic passing on the busy street honked and waved in support of the protesters with many stopping to talk about the issues with USW members, who where handing out leaflets and sharing information with passers by.  Even the local RCMP joined in the peaceful protest, chatting with protesters about the issues and ensuring the safety of both protesters and motorists on the busy road as the gathering took place.

A rousing speech was given by Local 9346 President, Alex Hansen, who tore into Bennett’s lack of concern for unemployed Canadians and turning a blind eye to obvious human rights, safety and economic concerns with the companies they are getting into bed with, even giving a eulogy to the BC economy.   The speech gave a clear picture of the serious and frightening issues facing workers in all sectors, while maintaining a positive atmosphere among-st the protesters and public who attended.

Fed up with antics and lack of public engagement from Bennett, Hansen placed an eviction notice on the MLA’s door.  Expressing area USW members intent to, “evict him from office” and replace him with a candidate that will fight for the best interests of constituents in the area.

While, not likely to make it into mainstream media due to the lack of business disruption or violence.  The protest was very effective at building support in the area, for the ever growing majority of people, sickened by the policies of Bennett and the BC liberals.

As well, this protest event was very successful in keeping the message in the public arena that:

1.The process, which is allowing temporary foreign workers to be brought to the Murray River mine project near Tumbler Ridge, is wrong.

2. This type of action by the current government is short sighted, it endangers the future of the BC job market, the future of our local economies and endangers the lives and human rights of workers in our province.

3. Only those who stand to profit from this abuse of power seem able to tolerate it for long.

Listen to an CBC Daybreak interview with Stephen Hunt on this subject (Click Here)