B.C. Minister Bill Bennett Walks Back Comments About Trudeau

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VANCOUVER — British Columbia's mines minister is clarifying his position on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's remarks about Canada's natural-resource economy.

Bill Bennett said the meaning behind a comment he made Tuesday was not that Trudeau might come to regret remarks he made in a speech overseas, but that the media may have misquoted the prime minister.

Speaking last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trudeau said his predecessor wanted Canada to be known for its resources, but he wants it known for its resourcefulness.

Canada amounts to not just the resources under Canadians' feet but rather what lies between their ears, the prime minister said in his keynote address.

bill bennett
B.C. Minister of Mines and Energy Bill Bennett pictured in 2014. (Photo: CP)

Bennett originally told reporters that Trudeau may regret the statement after being asked about the quotes at a mineral-exploration conference in Vancouver.

"I've been quoted many, many times in my 15-year career and regretted some of the things that I've said, and just the context that I said them in, so perhaps there's some element of that here.''

Bennett said Canada's resource sector is one of the most technologically advanced in the world and that its workers are well trained and well educated.

He acknowledged the flagging state of the natural-resources economy but insisted the world still needs Canada's resources and that global commodity prices will eventually rebound.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

But Bennett clarified his comments later Tuesday in a phone interview.

"It was in no way a disrespectful comment about the new prime minister,'' he said.

"I'm actually proud of the fact that the guy is over there representing Canada, and doing a pretty damn good job.''

Bennett was at the conference to help unveil the first phase of results coming out of a $2.4-million project from Geoscience B.C. The organization is using airborne magnetic surveying technology to map mineral exploration data within a 6,700-square-kilometre expanse in west-central British Columbia.

It's the first such survey conducted for many areas in that region of the province since the 1960s.

"I'm actually proud of the fact that the guy is over there representing Canada, and doing a pretty damn good job.''

"Finding mineral deposits is a metaphorical hunt for a needle in a haystack. With vast tracks of under-explored terrain, knowing where to start is a major challenge. There are endless haystacks,'' said Bruce Madu, Geoscience B.C.'s vice-president for minerals and mining.

"Good geoscience helps explorers narrow their focus and get into the right haystacks.''

Airborne surveys detect concentrations of magnetic minerals below the surface of the Earth, which is especially helpful for resource exploration when the land is covered with trees and sediment.

The region mapped is located between the communities of Smithers, Terrace and Kitimat.

— Follow @gwomand on Twitter

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