Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Rustad working to 'bring closure' to Babine victims, families

Peter JAMES / Prince George Citizen

Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad said something is in the works to bring closure to the victims of the explosion at Babine Forest Products and their families.

Rustad didn't disclose precisely what is planned or when it would be announced, but he said after consulting with victims, their families and First Nations leaders from the area, the government is preparing to announce something.

"I've had some discussions with some of the First Nations leaders around a project of some kind that could help [bring closure]," he said on a conference call with regional media on Friday. "It's in the early stages of discussion so I'm hopeful to have more details about that in the near future."

In January 2012 two workers, Carl Charlie and Robert Luggi, were killed and 20 others injured when Babine Forest Products near Burns Lake exploded. Families of the victims have been calling for a public inquiry both into what happened and why Crown counsel determined that evidence collected by WorkSafeBC might not hold up in court. A report commissioned by Premier Christy Clark and conducted by public servant John Dyble was also critical of how WorkSafe handled the investigation.

Rustad said he thinks an upcoming coroner's inquest into the blast will be "very helpful" but defended his government's decision to forego a full public inquiry despite pressure from the opposition New Democrats to call one.

"One of the things a public inquiry could not do is change the decision that has been made by the Crown prosecutors," Rustad said. "There are some questions that need to be answered and I think the reports point in that direction, but I'm hopeful that we can find some ways to bring answers and bring closure for the families."  

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