Jobs plan key to Clark's 'family-first' agenda
The ever beaming, upbeat Premier Christy Clark is the perfect foil for some jaded, cynical journalists. Every pronouncement earns their opprobrium, each sentence scrutinized for spin.
To be sure, it is the job of the fourth estate to serve as a public watchdog, expose wrongdoing and condemn corruption. But on those rare occasions when politicians deliver on a campaign promise, hit the right policy note, or give substance to a slogan, their accomplishments should be acknowledged.
Some scribes ridiculed Clark's "family-first" agenda as empty rhetoric, but she put meat on the bones by raising the minimum wage, scaling back BC Hydro rate increases and vigorously pursuing a jobs action plan.
Recognizing the obvious fact that households in which one or more members are employed are far less likely to face poverty than where no one is working, Clark has made creating and retaining jobs a top priority.
Two weeks ago, Clark was in Prince George to attend the B.C. Natural Resources Forum, where she announced that an expansion of the Huckleberry copper/molybdenum mine near Smithers had received a permit to proceed, which will extend the mine's life to 2021. It had been scheduled to shut down in 2014.
Sure enough, many in the media dismissed the event as a "re-announcement" and said Clark was simply "touting" the project to earn political points.
But Clark explained the significance of maintaining 230 jobs at the mine for the next nine years, and the creation of 70 jobs, in terms that working people can relate to.
"It's important to translate it to your own personal circumstances, to put yourself in someone else's shoes and think about if you went home tonight and if you've been worried about whether or not you were going to have a job in a year or two and you were able to say to your husband or your wife or your kids, 'Guess what, sweetheart, I have a great-paying job for another nine years,'" Clark said, according to local news reports. "That's the difference that an announcement like this makes."
Over the life of the mine, Huckleberry Mines will pay $254.4 million in wages and benefits. Do the math and you can see these indeed are well-paid jobs.
Clark hopes to maintain the job-creation momentum with a commitment to open eight new mines by 2015. In order to achieve that, the government has introduced incentives, including a 20-per-cent refundable tax credit for exploration, and a mine allowance that will give companies that start or expand production before 2016 a 133-per-cent deduction on start-up costs. She has also pledged to dramatically reduce a large backlog of applications for permits related to mines and other natural resource development projects by beefing up the bureaucracy.
The B.C. Jobs Plan is about more than mining. It involves investment in upgrading the Deltaport container terminal, including the rail link near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, part of a $200-million development, as well as an expansion of the Ridley Island bulk commodity port at Prince Rupert. Then there's the ambitious plan to have a liquefied natural gas plant operating by 2015 and three up and running by 2020.
The premier seems to understand that job creation flows from economic growth and investment, improving productivity and expanding markets for B.C.'s goods and services. She has also recognized that reasonable regulation, low taxes and fiscal prudence are an important part of any job-creation plan.
Her government has noted the critical role small business plays in job creation and retention, and we trust it will take further measures to eliminate bureaucratic obstacles for entrepreneurs.
It is encouraging to see Clark's discipline in keeping her eye on the economy and sticking to her jobs plan. She will need that focus to successfully steer B.C. through the current cycle of global sluggishness. Jobs and incomes are key to a families-first agenda. The premier gets it.
Source: Vancouver Sun, January 28, 2012