Press Pass: A Smart move out of the gallery

SMARTY PANTS — CBC reporter Stephen Smart announced his departure from the Legislature Press Gallery last week. He’s moving to Vancouver to make a career change.

In the legislature, Finance Minister Mike de Jong wished him well, but couldn’t resist an outrageous, defamatory slur on those left behind: “Much about Stephen is a contradiction. He is a journalist, and his name is Smart.”

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BABY ON BOARD — NDP MLA David Eby’s excuse for not running for the party’s leadership earlier this year checks out. He bowed out because he said his partner was pregnant. Last week he brought the proof to the legislature — his wife, Cailey, and baby, Ezra.

“This is his first question period … so everyone, if you could be on your best behaviour — a very impressionable age.”

FUR TRADER WANTED — If you’re looking to get away from the stresses of urban life, the government has an opportunity for you. Bids close this week on a registered trapline on East Thurlow Island in the Johnstone Strait. It’s a 107-square-kilometre opportunity to get into the fur trade, or what’s left of it.

The fine print in the offer on B.C. Bid says there’s a $500 minimum, and a minimum annual take of pelts — 50 pelts or $200 value.

FUN FOR THE FAMILY — Transportation Minister Todd Stone continued to insist in the house that the MV Nimpkish “is getting the job done.” This summer, he subbed the smallest boat in the B.C. Ferries fleet into service from Bella Bella to Bella Coola as part of a service cutback. Tourist operators are fuming and have pages of complaints from visitors about the open-deck ferry.

But Stone said it was the highlight of his family’s circle tour holiday from the Interior and up the coast. “As many of the passengers indicated to me, they really felt that this journey was an adventure,” he said.

“To those who criticize the decisions that were made and those who say that the Nimpkish will not work and that the Nimpkish will not enable this to be a good tourism product: If my wife and I can take three little girls on this ferry and enjoy the journey and survive, anybody can.”

IN RETROSPECT… — New Democratic Party MLA Bill Routley has apologized for slurring the local chamber of commerce in his riding.

In the legislature on Thursday morning, he referred to chamber members as “snobs” and “clowns” and said they should be hiring more First Nations people “"instead of this whining about whatever problem they have.”

He said he attended a chamber dinner, “but I’ve got to tell you, I sure didn’t feel among my people sitting there with a bunch of snobs.”

Routley also urged Liberal MLAs to tweet his remarks, adding: “You wouldn’t believe the letter I received from some of them clowns.”

He issued a statement on Friday to some Cowichan Valley media outlets saying he deeply regrets the remarks and apologizing for them. He plans to repeat the apology in the legislature when the house resumes sitting.

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