Did premier Christy Clark cross a line and politicize former premier Bill Bennett’s memorial in Kelowna last weekend?
Former CKNW broadcaster, and minister in Bennett’s cabinet, Rafe Mair thinks she did, and he’s angry about it.
At the centre of the storm, the premier’s comments on the controversial Site C dam as she spoke at the memorial:
“Premier Bennett, you got it started and I will get it finished. I will get it past the point of no return.”
It prompted Mair to pen an scathing editorial, writing:
“Not only was this terrible timing, it was a ghastly distortion of the truth.”
Question of etiquette
Mair joined Drex tonight to unpack his column.
He says what really got his blood boiling was that this was an inappropriate time to be talking politics.
“A memorial service is not necessarily a solemn affair. People often recall amusing things about the person and all the rest of it. but you don’t as the premier of the province get into the number one political controversy of the province, and then at the same time attribute the beginning to Bill Bennett, which is simply so far from the truth as to be unbelievable.”
He says he thinks the premier should apologize – both to Bennett’s friends and family, for bringing politics to the event, and to the people of B.C., who she was there representing.
The dam history
But while Mair says he feels bringing politics to a wake is wrong, he says he was even more offended that Clark “accused” Bennett of being the architect of the Site C project itself.
Mair says site C was concieved as an “airey fairey” dream by B.C. Hydro engineers when they built the first two Peace River dams, but was never seriously considered until recently.
“Site C was a proposal of BC Hyudro. It never was a government of British Colubmia project, in any of the administrations. Socred, NDP, or any of the others.”
He says the proposal, which would require provincial approval to move forward crossed the desk of – and was rejected by – every premier from Bennett on down, until the Campbell Liberals were elected.
“The approval of Site C is entirely in the hands of this liberal government – and not in the hands of Bill Bennett or [former premeir] Dave Barrett or anybody before.”
He says it’s simply wrong to claim Site C is Bennett’s legacy – something he says now belongs 100% to Clark.