Trust at centre of Kootenay West forum

Much to consider as second round of advance voting opens Wednesday

Words and “Trust” matter.

Especially during election time.

In a “she said, he said” story line following the Nakusp candidates forum on April 25, voters in the Kootenay West have likely heard the NDP’s commentary about Jim Postnikoff’s response regarding Columbia Basin Trust.

During the first advance voting opportunity this weekend, a burning headline was the orange party’s, “Liberals planning to strip benefits out of Columbia Basin Trust.”

Katrine Conroy, NDP candidate for Kootenay West stated via Facebook, that her Liberal opponent, Jim Postnikoff “told the citizens at the Nakusp All Candidates Forum that we should take the money out of Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) to fund the Liberal platform. The CBT was created to invest in the citizens of this region. It is used by community groups, environmental groups, seniors, kids, and non profit organizations. It is appalling to think that the Liberal Party would damage the Columbia Basin with this action.”

Seeking clarity to such a jarring statement, the Trail Times contacted Postnikoff at his home on Monday.

Postnikoff emphasized his words were taken out of context.

“It came out of left field .. it just shows the desperation going on,” he said.

“The Liberal party and myself support the status quo with the Columbia Basin Trust,” Postnikoff continued. “The Liberal party has zero interest in removing any benefits from the CBT, comments were taken and twisted out of context.”

He recalls the forum questions being about services needed in the region.

“It was really just as blank as that,” he reiterated. “This is a reckless and desperate attempt to deliberately mislead the public by the NDP campaign.

“I recognize that the CBT is a wonderful asset to the people of the Columbia Basin and I recognize this asset is well deserved,” Postnikoff added. “The people of Columbia Basin can rest easy.”

The Trust was implemented in the 1990s to return benefits to regions devastated by the Columbia River Treaty, which was signed in the 1960s.

The CBT fund was never intended to be included in general revenue, and certainly not to plug holes in the BC Liberal financial plan, says the NDP.

“The Columbia Basin Trust is a model for community development and it assures that the regions who own the resources benefit from those resources,” said Conroy. “It’s incredible to think that Christy Clark’s Liberals want to take those benefits away from this region.”

In late afternoon, the minister responsible for Columbia Basin Trust replied in an email to the Trail Times.

“In all my years in politics, I have never seen a more dishonest, reckless and desperate attempt to mislead the public,” said Minister Bill Bennett.

“The NDP news release about the Columbia Basin Trust is sickening and is a clear indication of just how desperate the NDP is to gain power again in B.C.

“I am still minister in charge of the CBT and I can say with absolute certainty that the BC Liberal Party has zero interest in removing any benefits from the CBT. My colleagues recognize that the CBT is a wonderful asset to the people of the Columbia Basin, and we recognize this asset is well deserved after the flooding caused by the Columbia River dams built decades ago,” he added.

“The people of the Columbia Basin can rest easy that the CBT is strong today and that the BC Liberal Party supports the status quo with the Trust. After this debacle, voters in the Kootenays will know for certain that the NDP cannot be trusted.”

Postnikoff says his response alluded to CBT’s mandate, “to support the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin … the Trust is here to offer experience and support to all Basin residents.”

“The Liberal party has zero interest in removing it,” he said.

During the first advance voting opportunities on the weekend, 977 ballots were cast Saturday in the Kootenay West District, confirmed District Electoral Officer Don Vinish. (Sunday’s count was not available by press time)

Vinish reminds Kootenay West constituents that advance voting opens again Wednesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legions in Trail, Castlegar and Nakusp.

On General Voting Day, which is Tuesday May 9, polling stations will be open 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall, Glenmerry Elementary School, Trail Memorial Centre and the Trail Legion. Additionally, ballots can be cast at the Warfield Community Hall, the Oasis Community Hall and at the Rossland Legion.

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