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IN THE NEWS: ICBA Opposes Plan for More Red Tape at NEB

The Trudeau Liberals are pondering what to do with the National Energy Board, and are asking for public comment on some recommendations from a panel.

Bluntly, these recommendations would add years, countless staff and acres of red tape to the already difficult process of getting a responsible resource development approved. The solution to bureaucracy is NOT more bureaucracy. While the rest of the world rockets ahead on oil and gas deals, Canadians are navel-gazing and bogging the process down.

ICBA President Chris Gardner addressed some of these concerns in a recent Daily Commercial News article:

“This is definitely a concern,” said Independent Contractors and Businesses Association president Chris Gardner.

His fear is that the changes will make a long, complex process even longer and more complex, which would have a chilling effect on the economy and investment. He noted that the approval process for the Site C Dam project took eight years and the process for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion has been going on for around five years.

“We need to ensure that when projects are fairly and appropriately reviewed, and they have been approved, they move forward,” he said. “And if not, we need to say ‘no’ and move on.”

He added that moving the process closer to Ottawa was confusing as it implies that an agency in Vancouver or Regina or somewhere else wouldn’t be equipped to make a decision the same way those physically closer to the federal government could.

NEW PODCAST: ICBA Cast #2 Talks Proportional Rep & Party Messages

ICBA President Chris Gardner and Director of Communications Jordan Bateman are back for episode 2 of the ICBA Cast. The two talk about the pitfalls of proportional representation, as proposed by Andrew Weaver and the B.C. Green Party, and the fact politicians are in an innate conflict of interest when it comes to voting system reform. They also break down the core messages of the three parties in the campaign, as we all wait for next week’s recounts.

Available as a free download in the iTunes podcast store, or listen below:

ICBA CAST: ICBA Launches New Podcast with Chris Gardner & Jordan Bateman

Big news here at ICBA, as we have launched our first ever podcast. ICBA President Chris Gardner and Communications Director Jordan Bateman will talk weekly about B.C. politics and its effect on construction, responsible resource development, business, and taxpayers. It’s a free flowing, political chat with a distinctly free enterprise point-of-view.

Before coming to ICBA, Chris helped build successful companies in the private sector, managed several winning election campaigns, and served as principal secretary to the Premier of British Columbia. Jordan is a former two-term Langley Township Councillor, has run communications on several winning election campaign teams, and is a well-known taxfighter. Between the two of them, the ICBA Cast will offer plenty of analysis and maybe a few old war stories.

You can download (free!) and subscribe to the ICBA Cast through the iTunes store HERE, or search for ICBA Cast in your favorite podcatcher. Or, if you prefer, listen to episode 1 below:

IN THE NEWS: Government Relations Session at the Open Shop Leaders Forum

Last week, the ICBA was a co-sponsor of the Open Shop Leaders Forum in Whistler, where various companies and open shop advocacy groups gathered to talk about the state of the construction industry. The Journal of Commerce reported on one of the sessions, a deep dive into the world of government relations. From their story:

“By understanding the decision-making process, you can identify opportunities to push for policy priorities,” he said.

Questions to ask, he said, include identifying if an issue is on the government’s radar and who is responsible for the final decision. It’s also important to keep the timeline for the decision in mind, he said, as well as who can influence the decision, both in government and in opposition.

“Pick and choose your spots,” Moors said. “The level of lobbying should match the priority of the issue. Policy development is often a game of give and take.

“Persistence pays off, follow up is crucial, and government’s slow pace has to be matched by an organization’s advocacy efforts,” he added.

IN THE NEWS: ICBA President Chris Gardner Breaks Down Election Effect on Economy

As British Columbia waits for the final 10 per cent of ballots to be counted, with the BC Liberals still clinging to a very faint hope of a 44-seat majority, we are all pondering what the result means.

ICBA celebrates our merger with Energy Services BC, representing key responsible resource development jobs in Fort St. John.
ICBA celebrates our merger with Energy Services BC, representing key responsible resource development jobs in Fort St. John.

In The Province, Mike Smyth ponders what an NDP-Green alliance would look like. It isn’t pretty. From his piece:

But others don’t feel so good about the possibility of an NDP-Green government seizing power — especially the B.C. Liberals’ business backers.

“The economy is at risk,” said Chris Gardner, president of the B.C. Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.

“The NDP and Greens both came out very strongly against the Kinder Morgan pipeline and liquefied natural gas development and the Site C dam and the bridge to replace to the George Massey Tunnel.

“That’s a lot of construction jobs and a lot of pink slips they would be handing out. We’re extremely concerned.”

In a follow-up piece, Province editor Gord Clark points out what’s at stake for British Columbians who live outside the NDP-Green strongholds of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island:

Clark’s pro-industry and jobs message sells well in the Interior, where people see it boosting the economy. The same message is viewed with hostility in the Lower Mainland, where many public-sector workers and urban environmentalists only view resource extraction as outdated and planet-destroying, failing through economic illiteracy to understand that public funds only exist thanks to taxation of industry.

With environmentalists in the NDP and Greens blocking virtually all significant job-creating projects in the Interior, it should surprise no one that the Green party received zero votes in four Interior ridings — Peace River North, Peace River South, Skeena and Stikine.

University of Victoria political scientist Norman Ruff, discussing the urban-rural divide with a Postmedia reporter last week, said something, ironically, that displays the problem. “While one lags behind in its continued dependence on a dwindling natural-resource-based economy, and in a sense still looks backward for its future, the other continues an exponential growth in diversity and enjoys a transition to an entirely new economy.”

With respect, with comments like that, can Ruff and others with similar views be actually confused why, gee, the dumb Interior knuckle-draggers might not embrace the leftist political notions of NDP- and Green-voting urban eco-elitists?

Interior residents don’t care if Vancouver or Victoria want to install bike lanes everywhere or promote “new-economy” digital businesses. What they can’t stand is when urbanites sneeringly look down their noses at them as backwards and make holier-than-thou careers out of destroying their livelihoods. If there is a political divide in B.C., that’s why.

Gord is right. The NDP-Greens are more than happy to put tens of thousands out of work to accomplish their brave, new, Tides Foundation-endorsed world. But much of B.C.’s wealth flows from these resource jobs. If they disappear, B.C. will suffer greatly.

IN THE NEWS: ICBA’s Gardner Talks BC Election Results

They are still counting votes in the BC election, and one of three outcomes could happen:

  • The BC Liberals could flip an NDP seat, such as Courtenay-Comox, and form a bare majority government
  • The BC Liberals could hang on to a minority
  • The BC NDP could flip a BCLP seat or two and form a minority government

At any rate, it’s worth noting that nearly 10% of the ballots in BC have yet to be counted. Absentee ballots are counted May 22-24, so all eyes will be on those results.

Meanwhile, the Journal of Commerce is digging into what it all means for construction and responsible resource development:

Chris Gardner being interviewed, via the phone, by a reporter.
Chris Gardner being interviewed, via the phone, by a reporter.

Chris Gardner, head of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of British Columbia (ICBA), was excited about some of the new blood the Liberals brought into B.C. politics through the election, but he felt the uncertainty ahead could be bad for the construction industry.

“If this result holds, that would inject a level of uncertainty in terms of government policy and government priorities that we haven’t seen in a long time,” said Gardner. “It would throw doubt into a number of projects and initiatives.”

During the election, the ICBA supported the Liberals, touting their five straight balanced budgets, a top-level credit rating, low personal income taxes, the near-elimination of operating debt and the 220,000 new jobs created since 2011. They also were pleased with Clark’s efforts to get major energy and infrastructure projects started.

The George Massey Tunnel Replacement project, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline and Pacific Northwest LNG, were just some of the massive, multi-billion dollar projects Gardner said could now be at risk.

Despite this, Gardner praised some new faces in the Liberal Party, including Jas Johal, Tracy Redies and Ellis Ross.

“Those three are all new and the BC Liberals have done a good job of attracting new candidates,” he said.

ICBA OP/ED: Time to build BC and invest in our future

A healthy construction sector means jobs and opportunity for young people, says Chris Gardner

Today, across British Columbia, over 200,000 people are working on construction projects. Some are highly skilled and supporting families while others are young people just starting their careers or enrolled in a construction trade training program. For young people making career choices, working in construction or learning a trade is a pathway to job security, healthy wages and benefits, and exciting opportunities for their career.

But the May 9th provincial election puts that future in jeopardy.

Our organization is the single largest sponsor of apprentices in BC and trains over 2,500 people every year. We feel a deep sense of responsibility to make sure that young people and those supporting their families by working in construction can count on the jobs that come from a strong economy.

The list of BC Liberal achievements has become almost cliché, but they are true: five straight balanced budgets, a top-level credit rating, low personal income taxes, the near-elimination of operating debt, and 220,000 new jobs – more than 90 per cent of them full time – created since 2011.

In addition, several of the largest energy and infrastructure developments in our history are underway or on the cusp of being greenlighted. These are significant accomplishments, and only come when political leaders focus on smart fiscal policy, cutting red tape, and put jobs at the top of their agenda.

The policies of the NDP and Green Party will deliver the opposite and rather than growing, the BC economy will shrink and we will lose jobs.

Independent economists have scrutinized the NDP plan and rendered a clear verdict. The precise magnitude may be debatable, but the New Democrats – whether negligently or willfully – have under-estimated the costs of their promises by billions of dollars.

The NDP has been equally derelict regarding the provincial debt. Their plan would hike debt by $18 billion over the four-year term of an NDP government. Credit downgrades would be inevitable, with the higher interest costs becoming yet another extra expense the NDP has no plan to cover.

The NDP’s budget plan also demands tax increases averaging $630 million per year. That’s a frighteningly large amount, and given the NDP’s incomplete and faulty budgeting, it’s no more than the ominous tip of an iceberg-sized package of tax hikes.

The NDP’s assumptions for economic growth are completely unrealistic given the higher taxes, larger government, overregulation, deficit budgets and higher interest costs the NDP plan will trigger.

A change in government would include a hard stop to some or all of the major energy and infrastructure projects now moving through final approval and early development around the province.

The NDP and the Green Party are unequivocally against both the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion and Pacific NorthWest LNG, and they’re at best hostile to the Site C Clean Energy and George Massey Tunnel Replacement projects. If any of these projects were cancelled, the direct loss in jobs, investment, and spinoff economic activity would be massive.

Further, let’s not forget that so much of the wealth generated in BC comes from responsible resource development outside of the Lower Mainland. It’s hard to be premier of our province if you’re not prepared to invest in the future of the north and the families who live there.

With no real vision to build the infrastructure our province needs to grow or a willingness to support responsible resource development, the future for construction workers under either the NDP or the Greens would be bleak indeed. Whether it’s roads, bridges, transit, hospitals, schools or projects in the energy and resource sectors, we need to maintain a strong focus on building British Columbia.

Let’s not risk a costly setback to people working in construction and to young people just starting out. Instead, let’s re-elect the only party with a plan to build our province: the BC Liberals.

Chris Gardner is the new president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA). Representing more than 2,000 companies and clients, ICBA is the single largest sponsor of construction apprentices in British Columbia.