bc government

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Tuesday’s BC budget, which Finance Minister Michael de Jong called boring, balanced, should have set out an ambitious agenda for the next four years.


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While Premier Christy Clark aims “to create an environment where growth and investment can flourish,” little has been achieved since last year’s electoral victory. If Premier Clark is to help British Columbians obtain the desired prosperity and jobs, her top economic priority should be to make BC the most investment-friendly jurisdiction in Canada.

Here’s what’s needed.


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When Christy Clark recently asserted British Columbia didn’t need the federal government and also said “we don't need Alberta,” the B.C. premier demonstrated why Canada’s founding fathers were concerned about provincial politicians: when they think in isolation, such premiers harm the interests of all Canadians.

The context of Clark’s election-time remark was how BC could become an energy superpower if more natural gas was developed and delivered through pipelines, as opposed to “allowing” oil pipelines to crisscross British Columbia more than they already do.


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The BC Liberals and particularly Premier Christy Clark deserve the praise they’re receiving for their surprise electoral victory. After all, the Liberals reversed a double-digit deficit in the polls and ended up securing a majority government. This moment of jubilation for the Liberals and their supporters will be short-lived however, as the reality of governing in difficult times takes hold. The litmus test for the success of this government, which they themselves established, is the success of the economy and in particular, jobs.


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In 2011, most economic forecasters began the year rather optimistic. British Columbia had rebounded nicely from the 2009 recession and saw its economy grow at 3.0% in 2010, robust growth most forecasters thought would continue. Indeed, the BC government’s Economic Forecast Council, a group of private-sector economists, predicted growth of 2.7% in 2011 and 3.0% for 2012.

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What a difference a year and a half makes. In May 2009, Gordon Campbell had just won an historic third term as premier of British Columbia. Now a recent opinion poll not only puts him as Canada’s most unpopular premier, but also the least popular premier in B.C.’s history.

Has he really done that bad a job?


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With BC facing a recession, the provincial government had good reason to re-focus on the economy in its 2009 budget. Unfortunately, the government did not make the tough decisions required to make British Columbia more competitive and attractive for investment and business development.

For starters, little was done to improve incentives to work, invest and take entrepreneurial risks. Reduced personal income and business taxes would have improved these incentives and provided a stronger foundation for wealth creation now and in the future.