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Greater Victoria, BC News


Date ArticleType
6/1/2013 Published Article
What a Liberal Win Means for Greater Victoria

Many congratulations to Christy Clark, the first woman premier chosen by BC voters. Last month’s election proved to be a landslide win for the BC Liberals, though Vancouver Island elected predominantly oppositional MLAs. This shift will mean that non-partisan organizations like The Chamber will have to work with local leaders to champion Greater Victoria’s cause to the provincial leadership.

I am confident that the government will represent and support the entire province fairly in their dealings. The highly partisan nature of the election process does not continue beyond Election Day in Canada. Property taxes, income taxes, and health benefits do not change based on who you voted for in the election. Nor does the continued expansion of our resource industries. When we approach the government to propose new programs or subscribe to programs which are often oversubscribed, such as those to support infrastructure, we will need a strong advocate in our corner. The lack of a Greater Victoria voice at the government caucus table or in cabinet will put us at a disadvantage.

The Chamber, with our partner organizations, will have to work hard to ensure our proposals are well prepared and presented to government. It will be our job to develop allies who will be in our corner when we compete for the scarce financial resources available to support our local economy. We will of course turn to our island MLAs for assistance and I am confident they will be tremendous island advocates. We will have to call upon respected business leaders and municipal politicians to champion proposals we have asked our government MLAs to represent in the past.

Having solely opposition representation doesn’t mean that the Liberal government will refrain from investing in projects they have already committed to such as BC Transit. Yet their position on projects that they have already declined funding for, like the Johnson Street Bridge or an airport runway extension in Victoria, will likely not change. It is hard to tell whether the province will support future projects like the proposed harbour pathway in Victoria; support will depend on the weight of other projects and if someone will be able to purposefully champion them on Greater Victoria’s behalf.

The Chamber will need to do more work to ensure that Greater Victoria is extremely well represented to the staff and Ministers in BC. We will need to continue to appropriately and aggressively work with the municipal leaders who have the access to and existing relationships with higher levels of government. The municipal leaders who are committed to remaining non-partisan, much like the Chamber, will have an advantage over those who side with a particular party.

The role of non-partisan, representational organizations like The Chamber and Tourism Victoria will become ever more important with the loss of Greater Victoria’s local voice within the government caucus. The changing political landscape will mean we have a great deal of work ahead of us, to ensure Greater Victoria’s message is heard and understood.

By Bruce Carter
CEO, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce

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