Know your audience

Earlier, we reported on then Minister of State for Mining Bill Bennett's private display of affection toward Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc.'s Gething Coal Project, which included talking to the federal government about the company's controversial plan to staff the proposed mine with workers from China. But the Campbell administration doesn't seem to be nearly as enthusiastic about such plans when communicating to its opponents.

Back in May, International Transport Workers Federation-Canada national coordinator Peter Lahay wrote Economic Development Minister Colin Hansen requesting the province "not support the application of this (sic) Chinese controlled companies request to import some 400 Chinese coal miners."

Minister Hansen's response: "The Ministry understands at this point in time, the project is only a proposal and has not been approved to proceed with either construction or operation…All requests for temporary foreign workers are the responsibility of the federal government, and all companies requesting foreign workers must demonstrate they have attempted to hire from within British Columbia and Canada at a reasonable wage rate, or their requests will be denied. Ministry staff are monitoring the situation and are in frequent contact with their federal counterparts regarding foreign worker applications."

Indeed. Asked for comment on the matter, New Democrat energy, mines and petroleum development critic John Horgan said, "It's absolutely inappropriate for a provincial minister to say to a proponent in another country that he will lobby on behalf of that proponent to bring foreign workers to British Columbia. At the same time, it should be the role and function of the minister of economic development to be forthright about the intentions of this government with those who are communicating with it. And that apparently is not the case." The following is an edited copy of the aforementioned letters.

***

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Lahay
Sent: Monday, May 28, 2007 2:30 PM
To: Hansen.MLA, Colin
Subject: Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc.

Dear Minister Hansen

I urgently write to you today respectfully requesting your Government not support the application of this Chinese controlled companies request to import some 400 Chinese coal miners.

I refer for your information today's newspaper story from Globe and Mail's Report on Business. Clearly there are significant issues that need to be addressed.

I understand that the BC Federation of Labour has come out opposed to this plan and you have dismissed their concerns through the use of old school politics that have worn thin.

It would be my opinion that the Government should heed those concerns, because this could be the issue that brings home so many other issues that have not been in the interest of BC communitties, citizens, workers nor the environment.

Clearly your Government does not give a damn about anything except corporate interests. So much so that you are willing to poison us with emissions through your Gateway project.

I am sure that this email is easy for you to dismiss. However, when people such as myself have had enough and decide to dig in it does not bode well for your Government.

Please reconsider your position on this matter.

Best regards,
Peter Lahay

Peter Lahay
National Coordinator
Intl. Transport Workers Federation-Canada

***

-----Original Message-----
From: Minister, ECDV ECDV:EX
Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 3:26 PM
To: Peter Lahay
Subject: FW: Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc.

Mr. Peter Lahay
National Coordinator
Intl. Transport Workers Federation-Canada

Dear Mr. Lahay:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding Canadian Dehua International's mining interests in British Columbia and your concerns on the proposed importation of Chinese mine workers.

The Ministry understands at this point in time, the project is only a proposal and has not been approved to proceed with either construction or operation.

While the company has an office established in Vancouver and a presence in Chetwynd, the project is still at the pre-application stage of the Environmental Assessment process. The Environmental Assessment process will require the proponent to meet the regulatory requirements in terms of environmental impact of the project, including socio-economic, community and First Nations impacts.

The Ministry also understands while Dehua Canada International recently issued a press release announcing its intention to hire 400 underground miners from China, no such application has been received by Service Canada. All requests for temporary foreign workers are the responsibility of the federal government, and all companies requesting foreign workers must demonstrate they have attempted to hire from within

British Columbia and Canada at a reasonable wage rate, or their requests will be denied.

Ministry staff are monitoring the situation and are in frequent contact with their federal counterparts regarding foreign worker applications.

Thank you again for outlining your concerns on this matter.

Yours truly,

Colin Hansen
Minister
Ref: 69548

cc: Honourable Richard Neufeld
Minister of Energy and Mines

Mr. John Horgan, MLA
Malahat - Juan de Fuca

9 Comments

Nice email from Lahay. You would think a person in his position might have the ability to display a tad more professionalism and diplomacy. Small wonder nobody wants to hire the loonies in organized labor with that kind of representation.

Larsen, nice way to avoid the issue. I take it you believe its reasonable and responsible (not to mention, professional and diplomatic) for Bennett to be lobbying the Federal Government (see Sean's previous post) to bring in foreign workers to mine this resource. Is there a Dunsmuir in your ancestory?

Larson, we get it, you hate unions. Your axe-grinding is really getting stale

can't wait to get a job there

Just think,

I'd be like the first Canadian
"legally" employed ,,,
by the RED-CHINEESE government...!

------- ted... -------

Ps,

wonder what price these guys would ask for,
when selling their own moma's ...?

(or what price they got for their soul...)

Underground coal miners?!?! Did I read that right? If so, this will be the first modern underground coal operation in B.C., and even if we overlook the entire issue of foreign workers there is still a substantial safety regulation issue here. When is the last time any official of WorkSafeBC saw an underground coal operation?

And yes, Kevin Larsen is on the case, predictably overlooking any real issues around wages and working conditions and instead focusing on the politics of smearing organized labour. Perhaps Kevin can explain to us why he thinks that labour representatives need to write their letters of complaint to B.C. Liberal Government Ministers in a supplicating tone of voice?

Budd, I think Larsen simply does not wish trade unionists using the same tone as he does when Larsen discusses trade unions.

The point I was trying to make is that instead of ranting like a 12 year old schoolboy and launching on some half baked union gibberish style attack why not instead provide some references to Union locals that have skilled workers up to the tasks of doing the job and have enough members looking for work to be available for hire to get the job done.

In other words, how about providing some factual information and a justifiable alternative that would demonstrate the redundancy of bringing in Chinese workers. Is this such a difficult concept to fathom? Should that not be one of the job responsibilities of any person on the Union payroll to find new job opportunities for the bothers and sisters ? Or are they simply being paid to launch lame partisan attacks against government ? The kind of attacks guaranteed to make you and your Union look like a bunch of poorly represented hacks?

When I read the rants of people like Lahay to a Government Minister, I can understand why Organized Labor numbers in this province continues to decline I am surprised some of you lefties in here do not see the value in more constructive communications.

Nice duck on the issue, Larsen. I see you are also ignorant of how labour relations are structured in Canada have no fundamental understanding of the difference between craft and industrial organisations.

If there is a skill set that is unavailable (which I do not believe given underground mining is not unknown in this fair land), then you TRAIN people. It's partly a cost of doing business and partly a public responsibility.

I hope Lahay's email and his rather mild language did get the attention of the Province, but I doubt it. They are severely myopic in how they address issues and have proven that dialoguing with citizens who don't wear business suits is not a part of their method of operating (as the Supreme Court of Canada recently noted).

What's the problem here? Even if Bill Bennet did lobby for this, it seems Minister Hansen shot him down?

Where's the issue?

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