How Andrew Wilkinson helped a campaign donor devastate Prince Rupert’s economy

As a senior civil servant in 2005, Andrew Wilkinson facilitated a deal between the City of Prince Rupert and a China-based company called Sun Wave Forest Products to reopen a shuttered pulp mill.

When Sun Wave reneged on the deal and left Prince Rupert in the lurch years later, Wilkinson represented the company in a lawsuit against the city. The legal fight between Sun Wave and Prince Rupert cost the city millions in legal fees and hampered the local economy as the court battle dragged on for years:

  • When Wilkinson was Deputy Minister of Economic Development in 2005 and 2006, he facilitated the sale of the closed Skeena Cellulose Pulp Mill in Prince Rupert to Sun Wave Forest Products.
  • That company received a 25-year property tax holiday from the city in return for a promise to re-open the mill by December 31, 2007.
  • When Sun Wave broke its promise and owed millions in back taxes, the City of Prince Rupert took back the site and sought to find a new owner and use for it.
  • Despite his previous role in government on the file, Wilkinson represented Sun Wave when the company sued Prince Rupert between 2010 and 2012.
  • The protracted legal proceedings with Sun Wave cost the City of Prince Rupert $3.5 million and prevented the city from finding another use for the site during the dispute.

Nathan Cullen, Stikine BC NDP candidate:
“When Sun Wave backed out of the bad deal Wilkinson put together, he cashed in and helped the company sue the taxpayers of Prince Rupert. He looked out for himself and BC Liberal donors, and the people of Prince Rupert paid the price.”

Jennifer Rice, North Coast BC NDP candidate:
“Andrew Wilkinson should have walked away from this given his role putting this deal together. He knew exactly how much our town was struggling. Instead, he helped a company devastate our community when we were vulnerable.”

Joy Thorkelson, former Prince Rupert councillor:
“Sun Wave filed lawsuit after lawsuit against our town. It cost us millions and impacted services and taxes. They treated the mill workers and the people of our town like they were nothing. And Andrew Wilkinson helped them.”

Timeline:

2003: Andrew Wilkinson is appointed Deputy Minister of Economic Development (LinkedIn)

2005: Discussions begin with the City of Prince Rupert, Sun Wave and the government of BC on Sun Wave Forest Products on the acquisition of the closed Skeena Pulp Mill in Prince Rupert. (The Globe and Mail)

2005: In his capacity as Deputy Minister, Wilkinson writes a detailed five-page letter to Sun Wave Forest Products. That letter provides information to the company on a number of topics including property taxes, forestry matters and environmental issues related to Sun Wave’s purchase.  “The government of British Columbia welcomes your ideas for restarting the Prince Rupert pulp mill, and we will do our best to provide you with clear answers to your various questions.”  (The Globe and Mail)

2005-2007: Companies involved with the Sun Wave project donate nearly $15,000 to the BC Liberals (Elections BC: Sun Wave & CGR Investments)

2005: Wilkinson indicates that he is involved in forthcoming submission to Treasury Board and Cabinet on the issue. (The Globe and Mail)

2005-2006: Sun Wave Forest Products purchases the mill site and equipment (Urbas.ca)

2006: Prince Rupert agrees to give Sun Wave a 25-year municipal tax holiday in return for reopening the mill by December 31, 2007 (BiV)

2008: After the mill does not open as promised, Prince Rupert moves to acquire the site in return for back taxes. (Black Press)

2010-2012: Now working in the private sector as a corporate lawyer, Andrew Wilkinson represents Sun Wave in a lawsuit over equipment that delays the city’s occupation of the site. (Statement of Claim)

2012: Wilkinson wins the BC Liberal candidate nomination in Vancouver-Quilchena. Bill Belsey, the former BC Liberal MLA for North Coast, takes over the case from Wilkinson. (Black Press)

2012: Jobs Minister Pat Bell provides internal government emails to Belsey about the issue. (Victoria Times-Colonist)

2013-14: Belsey investigated is found guilty of breaking two sections of the Lobbyists Registration Act for not registering as a lobbyist. He appeals the decision but it is upheld. (The Tyee)

2010-2017: The dispute drags on, costing Prince Rupert $3.5 million dollars in legal costs. (The Northern View)

2017: The City finds a tenant for the site, Pembina Pipeline Corporation. (The Northern View)

John Horgan to make life easier for renters

Even before the pandemic, people were struggling to rent and live — and the pressures created by COVID-19 have only made it harder. Many are dealing with reduced hours or work or even the loss of their income altogether. We need to keep helping renters get through the pandemic and make life more affordable over the long term, says John Horgan.

Andrew Wilkinson has no plan to help renters. He voted against capping rent hikes. He plans to scrap the speculation tax. And he would give a $200 million tax break to people with homes worth more than $3 million. We can’t afford Mr. Wilkinson’s plan to put speculators and multi-millionaires before renters. Especially not right now.

After housing prices skyrocketed under the BC Liberals, John Horgan brought in a speculation tax. Now, 11,000 previously empty condos are being used for long-term rentals. After the BC Liberals let rents increase beyond the cost of living, John capped rent hikes at inflation, saving renters over $300 on average. When the pandemic hit, he banned evictions and stopped rent increases.

John and his team have been making progress. But there are still a lot of people struggling. We need to keep helping them. That’s why a re-elected BC NDP government will extend our rent freeze until the end of 2021 and pass legislation to cap increases at inflation after that. He will also provide a renter’s rebate of $400 a year for households earning up to $80,000 a year.

These commitments will help renters get through the pandemic and put more money back in their pockets as we build an economic recovery for everyone.

“Mr. Wilkinson has called renting a ‘wacky time of life’ and his candidate in this riding wants to get rid of rent increase limits entirely,” said Brenda Bailey, the BC NDP candidate for Vancouver-False Creek. “They just don’t get it. If the BC Liberals were in power, they would let rents go through the roof and speculation would go unchecked – turning 11,000 homes back into empty condos.”

“We can’t afford Mr. Wilkinson and his plan to put speculators and multi-millionaires before renters, especially right now when so many are already struggling with loss of income or reduced hours of work,” said Horgan.

 

Schools for Kamloops and BC

Instead of building schools, Andrew Wilkinson and the BC Liberals spent over a decade fighting with parents, taking teachers to court and chronically underfunding school capital budgets. Between 2002-2017, Andrew Wilkinson and the BC Liberals closed 267 schools, killing jobs while leaving overcrowded classes in their wake.

The BC NDP understands that a strong public education system is key to a healthy society and have made a historic $2 billion investment into public education over the last three years, leading to a record 102 new school projects approved across the province, including several in Kamloops. Schools are often the heart of a community; a new school can serve as the community hub families need.

John Horgan’s progress on education:

  • Hired 4,200 new teachers
  • Smallest class sizes in a decade
  • Built 141 new playgrounds so parents don’t have to fundraise

Wilkinson desperate to cover up his Surrey Hospital land sale

SURREY – Last time Andrew Wilkinson was in charge of the Surrey Hospital, he sold the land it was supposed to be built on.

Now Wilkinson is frantically papering over his Surrey Hospital past and playing politics with people’s health care in Surrey.

Under the BC NDP, Surrey’s new hospital is full steam ahead with a tremendous amount of work already completed:

  • An architectural firm has been hired:
    • On July 30, 2020, Fraser Health awarded a $1.2M contract to IBI Group Architects (Canada) Inc. for design services for the hospital.
    • It says that “The NSH (New Surrey Hospital) Project will be located on a greenfield site in the Cloverdale area in Surrey.”
  • Clinical service planning is underway:
  • John Horgan’s BC NDP government owns the land at 5500 180 St., which is the site of the new Hospital and added a cancer centre to the plans.
  • The project has an estimated budget of $1-2 billion, and is in the BC NDP’s $23M capital plan from Budget 2020.
  • The concept plan has been approved and the business plan is being finalized, which will be followed by procurement and construction.
  • Construction is expected to start by the end of 2021.

Wilkinson’s own candidate says it was “wrong” for Wilkinson to sell the land, and Surrey didn’t get “full respect” under the BC Liberals. We can’t let Andrew Wilkinson set us back.

Jinny Sims, BC NDP candidate for Surrey – Panorama:

“The last time we trusted Andrew Wilkinson to build a hospital for Surrey, he sold the land at a discount and left us with nothing. The BC Liberals spent 16 years cutting taxes to the wealthiest British Columbians and neglecting health care. Andrew Wilkinson sold out Surrey once and he will do it again. We can’t afford that risk.”

10 year cancer care plan will build on progress made: Horgan

VANCOUVER — John Horgan says a re-elected BC NDP government will work with BC Cancer and health authorities to launch a 10-year cancer action plan. His plan will add new cancer centres in both Nanaimo and Kamloops, bringing care closer to home for people in the Interior and on Vancouver Island.

“A cancer diagnosis has touched nearly every family, including my own,” said Horgan. “Under our plan, British Columbians will receive better care that’s closer to home as they go through their cancer journey.”

Horgan’s plan will ensure patients get care when they need it, where they need it. It will invest in dedicated teams providing a full continuum of care, and new equipment to deliver leading-edge prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment services. Horgan warned investments like this would be at risk under the BC Liberal plan.

“Andrew Wilkinson would hand tax breaks to big businesses and people buying a yacht or a Lexus,” said Horgan. “Those tax giveaways would mean less resources for things we count on the most right now, like better health care.”

The 10-year plan builds off of work Horgan’s government has begun to improve cancer care in BC, including Canada’s first lung cancer early detection screening program and adding regional cancer centres in Surrey and Burnaby.

John Horgan’s 10 year cancer plan will deliver results in just five years:

  • Patients will have one point of contact across their cancer care journey.
  • New clinicians will be hired to meet demand.
  • Entire families will be offered genomic testing.
  • Better patient outcomes from more uptake of innovative prevention & treatment services.
  • Improved access to care in rural communities.
  • Existing cancer centres will be renovated and upgraded.

NDP releases its election platform

• Under John’s plan, workers and small businesses are put at the front of
our economic recovery—not the wealthy and well-connected.
• While Andrew Wilkinson promises tax cuts for those who need them
least, John’s plan focuses on people who need help the most.

The platform promises:

• Direct support to British Columbians through the pandemic
with a one-time $1,000 recovery benefit for families, $500 for individuals.
• Improved public health care with a new medical school to train more
doctors and nurses, as well as a 10 year cancer plan.
• Making life more affordable for renters by freezing rents until the end
of 2021 and capping increases after that.
• Helping families with kids by expanding $10 a day childcare and
delivering free transit for kids up to age 12.
• Creating jobs and rebuilding BC with a new Recovery Investment Fund
to provide an additional $3 billion a year over three years to build new
schools, hospitals and more — creating 18,000 new jobs a year.

You can view the full platform here: https://kamloopsndp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/BCNDP_Platform_2020_FINAL-1.pdf

Horgan commits to provide free COVID-19 vaccine

VANCOUVER — At his Keep BC Moving Forward virtual town hall, John Horgan committed to provide a free COVID-19 vaccine to any British Columbian who wants one—once a vaccine is approved and available.

“We have worked hard to keep people healthy and safe through the pandemic,” said Horgan. “The difficult times are not over yet, because the virus will be with us for the foreseeable future. But once there is a safe and approved vaccine, we will ensure every British Columbian can get one.”

Horgan’s commitment builds on the BC NDP’s recently announced $1.6 billion pandemic preparedness plan. The plan will boost availability of the flu vaccine and see thousands of health care workers hired to work in long term care, giving new opportunities and training to people who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

“If this challenging year has shown us anything, it’s the positive strides our province can take when we all work together,” said Horgan. “The last thing we should do now is go back to a government that puts the wealthy and well-connected before the needs of people. Putting people first has been at the heart of our pandemic response and it will continue to be if our team is re-elected.”

John Horgan’s pandemic preparedness plan also includes:

  • 2 million doses of flu vaccine doses made available for this influenza season.
  • 45,000 high dose influenza immunizations that will be made available to all long-term care and assisted living residents.
  • 7,000 new front-line health care workers in long-term care and assisted living.
  • A new Hospital at Home program so patients can get safe care while in the comfort of their homes and take pressure off hospitals.

An economic recovery that includes everyone—not just those at the top

We are two weeks into the election campaign, and the choice before British Columbians could not be clearer.

Andrew Wilkinson has doubled down on his support for over $3 billion in giveaways to big businesses and wealthy speculators. His plan hands the biggest benefits to those who need it least and makes ordinary people pay for it. Either with higher costs for car insurance, rent, medical premiums, hydro, and tuition fees. Or with cuts to the services we rely on more than ever, like health care.

We can’t afford to go back to the old BC Liberal way. Not right now.

John Horgan has a different plan. He will continue helping people and families get through the pandemic and build an economic recovery that includes everyone—not just those at the top. Over the last few weeks, John has laid out just some of the ways he will keep BC moving forward:

  • Delivering better health care, closer to home, with new hospitals and urgent primary care centres in every corner of BC.
  • Improving long-term care and home care to keep seniors healthy, safe and living with the dignity they deserve.
  • Making life more affordable with more support for students and ensuring MSP fees never come back.

John understands that British Columbians are worried about their health and their livelihoods as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, he will host a virtual town hall with hundreds of supporters from across BC and make an important announcement to keep people healthy and safe in the future.

John Horgan to expand home care

This has been a challenging time for all of us, but it has been particularly hard on seniors who have been most at risk from COVID-19. Seniors helped to build our province. They deserve to live with dignity—and receive quality care as close to home as possible—in their retirement years. 
 
A decade and a half of privatization and layoffs in seniors care left huge problems to fix. Access to home support in BC for those aged 75 and older fell by 30% under the BC Liberals, forcing thousands of seniors into long-term care who could have been living safely at home. Now Andrew Wilkinson is promising tax cuts to those who need it least—instead of helping our seniors who need it the most. We can’t afford that risk.
 
Before COVID-19, John Horgan and our BC NDP team had completed the largest two-year increase in home and community care hours in BC history. We also brought private home care contracts back into the public system. When the pandemic hit, we worked with the United Way to provide extra support for seniors living at home.
 
We’re proud of the progress we’ve made, but there is much more to do. That’s why John Horgan is in the Comox Valley today to announce the next steps a BC NDP government will take to expand home care access to more seniors. With John’s plan, we move BC forward, not for those at the top, but for everyone—including our seniors.