A Kaslo man was at the receiving end of one of Kootenay East Liberal MLA Bill Bennett’s infamous explosive emails last week.
William Wells, a former longtime councillor of the Kootenay-Boundary branch of the BC Institute of Agologists, wrote Bennett to criticize a decision not to recommend a ban on cosmetic pesticides.
Bennett, chair of the Special Committee of Cosmetic Pesticides, respond to the email saying: “I am pleased to hear that you can read and encourage you to put your skill to work reading the Special Committee’s Report. Perhaps even an old dog can learn a new trick!”
Wells emailed Bennett a second time to say indeed he had read the report and felt the findings relied too heavily on studies from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency rather than considering the views of industry professions such as himself.
To that, Bennett retorted: “Sorry, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’ll take the 350 scientists at Health Canada over the politically motivated left wing conspiracy theorists any day.”
Wells sent a copy of his correspondence with Bennett to Nelson-Creston NDP MLA Michelle Mungall who says the emails confirm Bennett is biased in his support of cosmetic pesticides and the findings of his committee should be rejected.
“Moving forward, the ball is in Premier Christy Clark’s court,” Mungall said. “Is she going to reject the report citing Bill Bennett’s clear bias? … Is she also going to enact further dicipline on him for this continued behaviour of disrespecting British Columbians?”
In 2007 Bennett resigned from a position as Minister of Mines after sending a harshly worded email to the president of the Fernie Rod and Gun Club. Then in 2009, as Minister of Tourism, he called the owner of a Fernie cat skiing operation “narrow minded and bigoted” in an email.
He remained in cabinet until November 2010 when he publicly criticized then-premier Gordon Campbell.
Mungall said this is the first time Bennett’s wrath has been directed at one of her constituents.
“This is completely unacceptable behaviour for any elected representative,” Mungall said.
But Wells said he has thick skin and wasn’t bothered too much by Bennett’s emails.
“At least it shows he actually read them,” Wells said. “When I write to [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper, all I get in response is a generic response message thanking me for my suggestion.”
Wells said he remains concerned about cosmetic pesticides being used in his community.
While Nelson is one of 40 BC municipalities with bylaws preventing use of cosmetic pesticides on private property, Kaslo has not followed suit.
Meanwhile, the NDP has reintroduced a private member’s bill for a province-wide ban cosmetic pesticide use for the fourth time.
The BC Union of Municipalities have twice called on the province to support such a ban, with motions in 2008 and 2010. Dozens of health organizations are also advocating for a ban, including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Public Health Association of BC.
Mungall blames Bennett for the legislation not being passed.
“One MLA’s bias is stopping and an entire province from moving forward on an issue,” she said.
Calls from the Star requesting comment from Bennett were not returned by press time.