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B.C. has become the first foreign government to issue a Masala bond in India. Essentially, B.C. took on $97.5 million in debt and immediately reinvested that money not in B.C. infrastructure or something that would help B.C. taxpayers, but in the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) Limited of India.
During 10 days of public meetings, special interest groups demanded $18.6 billion from the provincial government. It's 40 per cent of the province's annual budget. It's more than B.C. spends on health care. It's a ridiculous amount of money.
B.C.'s economy -- already facing what seems like the perfect economic storm of stagnant job growth, an acute skills shortage, and the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision on First Nation land title claims -- can now add one more low pressure system into that mix: the Mount Polley mine disaster.
Despite the fact that the Tsilhqot'in and Secwepemc are opposed to the New Prosperity mine, the B.C. Liberal government continues to support the project. This is both profoundly troubling and inconsistent with their commitments to First Nations.
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.