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New Democrats push for inquiry into sawmill deaths 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

BC NDP leader Adrian Dix. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

BC NDP leader Adrian Dix. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

The BC New Democrats say they’ve had an expert conclude there should be a public inquiry into the deaths of sawmill workers at Babine Forest Products in 2012.

BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix said his party took it upon themselves to examine the possibility of an inquiry after Premier Christy Clark said in the legislature earlier this month an inquiry wouldn’t produce any new answers.

He said on Monday lawyer David Crossin reviewed B.C.’s Public Inquiry Act and vetted a list of terms of reference — which the NDP says would establish an effective inquiry — developed by Burns Lake families and workers.

Two workers died and dozens more were injured in the Burns Lake sawmill explosion that was in part fuelled by sawdust accumulation.

Clark, through her Deputy Minister John Dyble, found by way of a government report in February that WorkSafeBC hadn’t paid enough attention to gather evidence for prosecution — the Crown has determined no charges would be laid.

Dix said there are many questions that could be answered in a public inquiry to prevent similar tragedies.

“There’s a host of questions to ask about the company’s conduct, about WorkSafe’s conduct, principally about the way we prevent these kinds of industrial accidents,” he said on Monday.

“The reality is no one is taking any responsibility and no one has been held accountable in this industrial explosion and fire.”

However, Dix said, it’s ultimately up to the provincial government to order such an inquiry.

“Premier Clark, in the days after this explosion, went up to Burns Lake and promised justice. And four days before the election she went up to Burns Lake and had a photo op,” he said.

“But when she announced she wasn’t going to proceed with the inquiry after her government had botched this matter, she made the announcement in her Vancouver office.”

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