The chairman of a Crown-owned B.C. coal-handling company blames politics for his firing by Ottawa.
Daniel Veniez, a former forestry executive and well-known figure in northern B.C., said he and his board have worked hard to turn Prince Rupert-based Ridley Terminals Inc. into a well-run corporation.
However, he claims changes at the shipping company have upset two federal cabinet ministers — House leader Jay Hill and Federal Transport Minister Rob Merrifield.
"[They] didn't like the idea that we were asking people who have relationships with them, the coal producers, for example … to raise their prices."
CBC News left messages requesting interviews with both Jay Hill and Rob Merrifield, but neither replied.
Veniez said he received his termination letter Friday, just days after Merrifield refused Veniez's offer to resign.
Veniez said Ottawa told him he was being terminated because he was acting outside his role as chairman.
"I was specifically engaged in public discussion on debating options for Ridley's future. That is not in keeping of their expectations for my role," Veniez said.
As chairman of Ridley Terminals Inc., he had been vocal about the need for changes to the company, ranging from more government funding to full privatization.
Veniez told CBC News three companies are interested in bidding for Ridley, but denied he specifically advocated privatization.
Veniez insisted the real reason he was fired is because some coal companies were unhappy he forced them to pay market rates for shipping.