According to our monthly Business Barometer survey, B.C. small business confidence grew substantially this year. In February, B.C. ranked in sixth place among Canada's 10 provinces -- but by the end of November, we were sitting solidly in second place. With the New Year almost upon us, it is worthwhile to take a moment to reflect upon 2013's high and low points for small business.
Premier Christy Clark set out five conditions for pipeline development in British Columbia. The Premier has been firm on these conditions and has repeated many times that pipeline projects will not be allowed in British Columbia if her conditions are not met. So, why is Kinder Morgan dilbit currently being transported through the Salish Sea? And why hasn't the provincial government stepped in to stop it?
It's an all-too-regular occurrence in this province. Government employees, whipped up by their union leaders, marching against whatever economic development opportunity is being proposed. Pipelines to the coast? Opposed. Gas exploration? Opposed. Companies creating investment revenue for pensions? Opposed. New mine? Opposed. Coal exports? Opposed. But what if government employees had a direct financial stake in the economy doing better than expected? Would they be more willing to consider ways to grow the economy? It's an interesting premise, and one the B.C. government will test in the next round of collective bargaining.
TransLink -- everyone's favourite whipping boy in the Lower Mainland -- is about to be put to the electoral test and it promises not to be pretty. The fate of TransLink's future funding will be decided in the midst of the introduction of the Compass card, and Lower Mainland residents know full well how that initiative has been going as of late. It doesn't bode well for the vote.
Goods don't flow in only one direction. It turns out that a great deal of British Columbia's trade revenues come from the delivery of goods and services to provinces east of Alberta -- and one assumes most of those exports went through Alberta by truck and train.
There are moments in history when it becomes clear that our leaders are failing us. They are the moments when people from all walks of life need to dust off those placards, stand up and speak out. This is one of those moments. Canada is failing as a country to curb climate pollution. Under the Harper Conservatives, our country's climate performance has become the worst in the Western world. We cannot sit by and let them put our coast and our country at risk. On November 16, communities from across Canada will stand up to remind our elected officials that they work for us and not just the oil patch.
Just this morning, BC Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Allison Redford have announced that they have penned a deal to ram a pipeline from Nor...
The carbon tax lobby was practically giddy this month, as newspaper headlines touting a B.C. climate change agreement with three U.S. states blared, "Washington and Oregon follow B.C.'s lead on carbon tax system," and "Washington, Oregon plan to emulate B.C.'s carbon tax." Fortunately for American taxpayers, the headlines just aren't true.
If TransLink is as broke as it claims to be, why are taxpayers so grossly overpaying its chief executive officer? Ian Jarvis received $394,730 in salary, incentives and taxable benefits in 2012, plus another $32,552 in taxpayer-funded petition contributions. On top of that, Jarvis took $11,418 in "other" benefits, including a "Wellness Allowance" that apparently only the CEO is eligible for. That's a total compensation package of $438,700. Jarvis made $140,000 more last year than the province's deputy transportation minister, Grant Main. He made $200,000 more than Premier Christy Clark. Clark wasn't alone; Jarvis out earned Prime Minister Stephen Harper by nearly $75,000.
The expanded pipeline will mean more oil tankers than ever in Vancouver's harbor area and it is a ridiculously short-sighted idea. The math is simple: the more tankers, the more risk of spills and a spill in Vancouver's Burrard inlet, or anywhere on our coast for that matter, puts at jeopardy our thriving multi-billion dollar tourism industry and other coastal economies. Imagine the Seawall around Stanley Park lapping in oil. We would likely have to get rid of the "Beautiful BC" on our license plates.
Whether BC Liberal or NDP, governments have grown reliant on the cash flowing from ICBC and BC Hydro ratepayers. Any suggestion of reduction is met with ministerial shrugs and the talking point: "How would we fund health and other services without that money? Should we raise taxes?" Yet, the ignored solution can be found in another cliché: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Dear Premier Clark: I applaud the fact that your government has been consistent in requiring five conditions to be met before you will support enhanced heavy oil tanker traffic off our coast. Consistency is important in providing certainty to the public, business and investors alike. It is for this reason that I am writing to you to seek some further clarification on the second and third of your five conditions.
There has never been an independent analysis of InSite, yet, if you base your knowledge on Vancouver media reports, the case is closed. InSite is a success and should be copied nationwide for the benefit of humanity. Tangential links to declining overdose rates are swallowed whole. Thomas Kerr's claims of reduced "public disorder" in the neighbourhood go unchallenged, despite other mitigating factors such as police activity and community initiative. Journalists note Onsite, the so-called "treatment program" above the injection site, ignoring Onsite's reputation among neighbourhood residents as a spit-shined flophouse of momentary sobriety.
Christy Clark has weighed into Quebec's not-yet-debated, not-yet-modified, not-yet-voted, not-yet-implemented or enforced charter. B.C. has come a long way from the 1907 race riots. Many are proud of B.C.'s rich diversity, but there is still work to do. There have been sporadic deplorable acts of intolerance in B.C. during the Premier's tenure. Curiously, she wasn't compelled to comment on issues occurring in her own province: Indigenous slurs, neo-Nazi enclaves, racial profiling...
British Columbia currently faces a perfect storm of fossil fuel extraction and export projects colliding with the realities of a changing climate and rising inequality. Recent years have also been a time that has seen the emergence of mass social movements that are re-defining societies and challenging some of the most entrenched powers on our planet. From the Arab Spring to Idle No More, we are witnessing the rebirth of people power. Here in B.C., whispers of change have grown into a steady hum of organizing and mobilization as communities have come together to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline, but now we are in need of growing this movement like never before. Here's why.
When was the last time you called in sick? Was it just a case of the sniffles? Were you flat on your back? Or did you go golfing and not want to use a vacation day? Did you feel guilty about leaving your co-workers to cover for you? Did you take as few days as possible, knowing someone else had to pick up the slack in your absence? Chances are if you work in the private sector, your answers are very different from those of some government employees.