Last week Premier Christy Clark rolled out her “jobs plan” for BC. labelled “Canada Starts Here,” the plan starts out stating B.C. is Canada’s “westernmost province” and “the first port of call for people and goods that come to Canada.” I’m pretty sure there are other provinces with ports, railways, roads and airports where people and goods can come into Canada.
It reminds me of Gordon Campbell’s arrogant claim that B.C. is the “greatest place on Earth” at the time we were “welcoming the world” for the Olympic games.
The grandest of pronouncements, of course, are the promises politicians make about the economic benefits that will occur as a direct result of their plans.
Remember the NDP’s “jobs and timber accord” with its promise of 40,000 new jobs? Or the Campbell government’s “forest revitalization strategy” with its claim it would attract billions of dollars in new investments and create thousands of new jobs in the forest industry? Those jobs strategies were also accompanied with much fanfare and grand rhetoric, but neither of them produced any of the promised economic benefits and jobs. That might be one reason why Clark avoided making specific jobs claims in her strategy last week, but she did pronounce that B.C. will see eight new mines opened, nine more expanded and 10 new, non-treaty agreements with First Nations. Never mind that new mines must get federal government approval, are dependent on global commodity prices and currency exchange rates, and will require the co-operation of First Nations, something the premier best not take for granted.
In order to introduce more realism and honesty into the pronouncements of political leaders perhaps we need to look at an independent office of the legislature to assess the merits of politicians’ promises and report, independently, on their achievement. This could include an appraisal of party platforms during elections, so voters are given an opportunity to judge each party leader’s promises before they decide how they’ll vote.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.