Truly independent investigation needed into botched government handling of Babine sawmill explosion

VANCOUVER — The Premier must act in the public interest and appoint a truly independent investigation into botched probes into the tragic and preventable Babine Forest Products mill explosion, say New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix and WorkSafeBC critic Harry Bains.

“The premier’s response, whenever her government gets into trouble, is to call on her own deputy minister to investigate,” said Dix. “That’s simply not good enough, especially when two of her cabinet ministers were found to have squelched a BC Safety Authority report into the explosion prior to the election.

“The families of the victims deserve better, as do all British Columbians who want assurances that their government takes workplace safety and accountability seriously. If the premier is serious about justice not only being done, but being seen to be done, then a genuinely independent investigation must be held.”

Crown Counsel recently announced that no charges would be laid as a result of the explosion, in large part due to problems of co-ordination between government agencies investigating the explosion.

“Under the B.C. Liberals, workplace safety has been gradually undermined through neglect and cuts, especially in WorkSafeBC’s capacity to enforce safety requirements,” said Bains. “Workers are the ones who pay the price, as we have seen in the tragic explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George that claimed four lives, injured 42 workers and scarred communities.

“British Columbians need to have confidence that their government has nothing to hide and genuinely wants to get to the bottom of what went wrong. Appointing her own deputy minister, who serves at the premier’s pleasure, is simply not good enough.”