Noted B.C. economist Jock Finlayson was our keynote speaker at the recent Open Shop Leaders Forum, and the Journal of Commerce caught up with him to talk about the global economy. Here is their interview:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
The Concerned Construction Companies of Kamloops are running BC election radio ads in the Kamloops and Merritt area. This week, they asked ICBA President Chris Gardner to voice one. Here’s Chris’s ad:
John Horgan and the NDP just can’t help themselves – their big union funders want to strip workers of their democratic right to a secret ballot, so Horgan says, “Okey-dokey.” From an interview with The Vancouver Sun and Province:
Why do the unions want this so bad? Because evidence shows that sometimes, union support drops when people get to vote in secret. From a Manning Centre analysis:
British Columbia labour laws require a union to file signed cards for at least 45% of employees in a proposed bargaining to trigger a secret ballot vote administered by neutral government officials…
it was possible to obtain the percentages of employees who voted in favour of union certification for the years 2009- 2015. During that period, the data shows there were at least 34 instances where the percentage of employees who voted in favour of a union dropped by at least 15 percentage points (from the threshold of 45% of cards required to obtain a secret ballot vote).
During the 2009-2015 period, there were four instances where a union filed cards for at least 45% of employees (again, the exact percentages aren’t available due to cost considerations), yet, when it came time to vote in favour of joining a union, 0% actually supported unionization.
For more on why the secret ballot is important, click HERE for a video by ICBA President Chris Gardner.
ICBA President Chris Gardner was a guest on The Jim Harrison Show on Radio NL in Kamloops Wednesday, and Chris made the case on why John Horgan’s plan to scrap the secret ballot in union votes is such a bad idea.
It’s just common sense: taking away someone’s secret ballot takes away an individual’s fundamental democratic right. It opens the process of joining a union, changing unions, or leaving a union, to intense pressure and intimidation from all sides. Let the people vote – and let them cast their ballot in secret.
Listen to the full interview HERE:
The BC Liberal Party’s plan to overturn the City of Vancouver’s natural gas ban is good news for both Vancouver residents and the thousands of people who work in BC’s oil and gas industry, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of British Columbia said today.
“By using regulation and legislation to ban natural gas, Gregor Robertson is not only increasing heating costs for both renters and homeowners, but also, he is putting good jobs across BC at risk,” said Chris Gardner, President, ICBA. “This is an important provincial issue that all parties should take a position on. Vancouverites deserve to know who cares about energy affordability, and natural gas workers in the north deserve to know who supports their jobs.”
Earlier this year, the ICBA merged with Energy Services BC, the largest oil and gas industry association in BC. Supporting responsible resource development and growing BC’s natural gas industry is an important focus for the ICBA and its members.
“British Columbians need leaders who are committed to getting to “yes” on job-creating infrastructure and energy projects, not ones looking to mothball clean, viable natural gas and put roadblocks in the of the kind of investment our province needs to grow,” said Gardner.