Harbouring doubts

Rob Hutchins's provincial Liberal candidacy wasn't the reason the Ladysmith mayor was featured in a government announcement made just five days before the writ was dropped. This, according to Agriculture and Land Minister Ron Cantelon.

At issue: on April 9, Minister Cantelon said the Campbell administration would be making $1.8 million available to clean up brownfield sites. Ladysmith hasn't been awarded any of that money because the deadline to apply for those funds is June 15. But Mr. Hutchins - who was acclaimed as the party's candidate in Nanaimo-North Cowichan on February 26 - was at the announcement and quoted its accompanying news release.

Mr. Cantelon said that's because Ladysmith recently used provincial funds to remove derelict docks and barges from its harbour and it wants to continue that clean-up process.

But couldn't it be said the government had a vested interest in featuring Mr. Hutchins? "Well, some may say that. And I guess that's always that risk when you do that kind of event," allowed Mr. Cantelon. "I didn't refer to him, of course, as a candidate. Nor did we talk about anything related to the upcoming campaign."

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