I’m concerned that many British Columbians are more focused on “change” for the sake of change rather than electing the party most likely to foster job creation and financial stability. Our province’s resource endowment has always been a mainstay of both jobs and the generation of revenues needed to fund social programs. From what I have seen and heard, an NDP government would rev-up spending while stymieing resource development through endless environmental reviews and or by just saying “no,” driving investment to other provinces and other countries. We need new mines and gas fields, pipelines, refineries, ports and processing plants to replace jobs lost by tech change and by events like the pine beetle catastrophe.
Protection of the environment and economic development are not mutually exclusive. Yes, we must be good stewards of our beautiful province, but we do have the technology to move the economy forward in an environmentally responsible manner. Saying no to new projects will mean job losses for currently employed and no opportunity for young people looking to join the work force.
We also need to focus on balancing the provincial budget, rather than taking money away from social programs to fund rising interest costs. Forty years of experience in business has taught me that too much debt is crippling. It scares me that the NDP has rolled out billions of dollars in new spending during this campaign, and their “every dollar is accounted for” rhetoric just isn’t credible because their anti-development attitude will reduce revenue at the same time as spending rises.
There is truth to the adage, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The NDP came to power in 1991 and governed the rest of that decade. Investment dried up and economic growth trailed the rest of Canada. A low point came when the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce thanked the B.C. government for driving growth investment in Alberta. Glenn Clark’s 1996-1999 tenure was arguably the most disastrous for B.C. and with Adrian Dix, Premier Clark’s former Chief of staff leading the province, I’d be very worried about history repeating itself.
It took many years for the Liberals to repair the damage. During their time in government, North America suffered through a major recession and yet we now have a triple-A credit rating, higher than the U.S. government, allowing B.C. taxpayers the lowest possible interest rates.
Have the Liberals done everything right? Certainly not. The introduction of the HST by the Campbell government was badly handled. There have been other gaffes and ill thought out policies. And while there is a natural inclination for people to vote to change long governing parties, it’s important not to let the NDP sleepwalk to victory without thinking about which party is likely to create jobs and not burden today’s young people with a mountain of debt.
I’m not asking that you agree with me, only that you think through the full consequences of your choice carefully. And then get out and vote on May 14.
Gwyn Morgan is the former chair of SNC Lavalin, and is a director on the boards of several other large corporations including EnCana Corporation. He has served as an advisor to Christy Clark.