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B.C. Conservative Party leader listens to Ladysmith marina group

John Rustad says a B.C. Conservative government would take a different approach to reconciliation
B.C. Conservative Party leader John Rustad, alongside Ladysmith Maritime Society president Marnie Craig, speaks near Oyster Bay Marina on Tuesday, July 2.

Summertime campaigning brought the leader of the B.C. Conservatives to Ladysmith's waterfront today.

John Rustad met with members of the Ladysmith Maritime Society on Tuesday, July 2, near Oyster Bay Marina, and said a Conservative B.C. government would take a different approach to economic reconciliation.

The former Ladysmith Community Marina's water lot was transferred to the Stz'uminus First Nation's Coast Salish Development Corporation on Jan. 1 after the Town of Ladysmith abandoned its lease. The marina is now called Oyster Bay Marina and LMS no longer operates there.

"People have put decades into the society … and for it to transfer over like this without the engagement or discussion, to me that's just the wrong way that things should be done," Rustad said.

B.C.'s former minister of aboriginal relations said when it comes to reconciliation both in Ladysmith and provincewide, a Conservative government would try to work at a "people-to-people" level.

"It can't be about transferring from one group to another," Rustad said. "It has to be about how we add and how we build out those opportunities for people to be engaged in."

He cautioned the maritime society members that "legal obligations" around the transfer of the water lot may limit the next government's ability to change what's been done.

"But what I want to be able to do is make sure that we take whatever's in place, park it, and get down to what we need to be doing at a community-to-community level so that it's working for both communities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous," he said.

Rustad was introduced by LMS president Marnie Craig, who suggested that the politician's visit energized her group during what has been a long dispute.

"It's very difficult to be in a position where you are the one that is trying to make something happen, you are the one that is inviting people to talk to you, you are the one that is inviting people to come and see what it is you've lost and there's just a blank. No one gives you any kind of response," she said.

Also at Tuesday's visit, Rustad introduced Ladysmith-Oceanside candidate Brett Fee and said the Conservatives consider Vancouver Island a potential "battleground" in this coming fall's election.

About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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