It's the hottest issue in Kamloops but the leader of the provincial New Democrats won't say what side of Ajax he is on, or even when the party will take a stand on the proposed mine.
Questioned in Kamloops Thursday by reporters about the contrast between the NDP's strong stance against Enbridge's Northern Gateway — which, like Ajax, is in the midst of environmental reviews — and lack of position on Ajax, Adrian Dix did little to clear the record.
"It's a huge issue locally and that's why I'm listening to what people have to say," Dix said, in response to a direct question on whether the party supports or opposes the mine.
"People expect you to look at the evidence and consult people locally."
The only commitment Dix gave was, after looking at evidence and consulting with people here, "We'll give a thoughtful answer."
Will it come before the May election next year?
"I expect you'll hear from me," he replied.
Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger said Dix is correct to hold off on taking a stand on Ajax — unlike what the Opposition is doing on Northern Gateway.
"It's not only irresponsible to flat out reject a big proposal, it sends a destructive message to investors and job creators worldwide."
By coming out again against Northern Gateway before the environmental facts are in, the NDP is turning away possible economic benefits, jobs and taxes for political gain, Krueger said.
Similarly "the NDP should keep their powder dry on Ajax."
The New Democrats have strong supporters both within the environmental community and in labour. Labour itself in Kamloops has been divided on Ajax, with the Kamloops District Labour Council coming out against the project.
That caused a United Steelworkers local to withdraw from the labour council.
"We're not torn up about it," Dix said of conflicting labour, environmental and neighbourhood views within the party on the proposed open-pit copper mine in the backyard of Aberdeen and Pineview Valley.
"These issues are all difficult issues."