British Columbia

MLA Pat Pimm's apology rejected by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is calling email comments made by former minister of agriculture Pat Pimm "reprehensible."
Peace River MLA Pat Pimm has apologized for comments he made about First Nations two years ago in an email.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is calling email comments made by former minister of agriculture and appointed member of the Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs Pat Pimm "reprehensible."

In the July 2012 email exchange, Liberal MLA Pat Pimm questions who's running the province, and says that opportunities to make changes are being ignored while First Nations get government money.

"Here is an opportunity to actually muster up some support for our team, but instead we will ignore it and go out and find some ways to give the Indians more money, which doesn't get me one vote!" the Peace River North MLA wrote.

Pimm, who is recovering from cancer surgery and has since been replaced by Norm Letnick as minister of agriculture, has apologized for his remarks, calling them "inappropriate and wrong."

But Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the apology does not go far enough, and he wants Premier Christy Clarke to remove Pimm from the Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says the apology from Pimm is not enough. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

"We feel that in order to move towards reconciliation, there has to be some action attached to their apologies," said Phillip.

"I don't think there's any place for someone with those types of attitudes to be part of the Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs."

Phillip says the comments are inaccurate, and contribute to the spread of misinformation about indigenous citizens in B.C.

He believes this will hurt the government's efforts to work with aboriginal communities on various resource projects.

Emails show ALR targeted by Liberals, says NDP     

Meanwhile the opposition NDP says the two-year-old email shows just how long the Liberals have been planning to make changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The email thread, which was leaked to the Globe and Mail newspaper, includes communication between Pimm, Energy Minister Bill Bennett and other Liberal MLAs.

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan says the emails also show how the Liberals were targeting the ALR for changes before the May 2013 election. (CBC)

NDP Leader John Horgan says Clark placed Pimm in a position of power, knowing he favoured making changes to the ALR.

Horgan says the email thread shows the Liberals were pushing the chair of the Agricultural Land Commission to approve changes to farmland.

In one email, Pimm complains about the commission's chair not responding to requests for a meeting.

The Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, which will divide the land reserve into two zones, is slated to become law Thursday, following weeks of contentious debate in the legislature.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett responded to the leaked email earlier this week.

"I'm distressed to see it. I'd forgotten that he said that, and I am distressed to see it in print," said Bennett on Wednesday.

"I understand that he's apologized and he should. Through my ministry I worked very closely with First Nations' leadership and I think it's very unfortunate."

Engergy Minister Bill Bennett said he was surprised to see Pimm's comments in the media two years later.

When asked about the remarks, Clark responded by saying her government is working on new relationships with First Nations.

"We have an opportunity as a generation, with a huge chance for resource development, with liquefied natural gas in particular, to lift First Nations up," she said.

"That's by sharing resources with them. It's by making sure that First Nations are full beneficiaries and participants in resource development projects. That is the direction of our government."

With files from Stephen Smart and Lisa Cordasco


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