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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.

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in the Lower Mainland, where many public-sector workers and urban environmentalists only view resource extraction as outdated and planet-destroying, failing through economic illiteracy to understand that public funds only exist thanks to taxation of industry.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, 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.

ANALYSIS: Secret Ballots Protect Workers’ Democratic Rights

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.

In the News: Chris Gardner talk Secret Ballot with Radio NL

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:


BC Liberals Right to Overturn Vancouver’s Natural Gas Ban

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.

Same Old NDP: More Debt, Fewer Jobs, and Numbers that Don’t Add Up

Chris Gardner, President, ICBA

In this special issue of the BC Construction Monitor, we return to the choices before British Columbians in a provincial election now just days away. The NDP’s budget plan is dangerous and deceptive. Wildly optimistic even if its many omissions and faulty assumptions are overlooked, the platform in fact represents a multi-billion dollar setback to BC’s hard-earned status as a well-managed province that spends your hard-earned tax dollars carefully. Even the NDP acknowledges that while it “aims to balance the budget in every year as government”, it will not do so “at the expense” of its spending plans.

Clearly, they have no plan to do so at all. Instead the NDP will be responsible for soaring debt, higher taxes, a weaker construction sector, and uncertainty in the future of our province. Analyses of the most significant costing errors and accounting deficiencies in the NDP plan, highlighted in this Monitor, make that clear. As for the Green Party, the positions it’s taken would be equally damaging to our province. The Green voice for “No” to responsible resource and infrastructure projects is as resoundingly loud as that of the NDP. With the potential for a minority government, the Greens are not a harmless place to park a vote.

The party platforms reinforce the urgency of re-electing a BC Liberal government. It is the only party with a program designed to grow rather than sideline our province – an economy that is continuing to out-perform the rest of Canada. In our view, a vote for the BC Liberals is a vote for a healthy construction sector, jobs and opportunity for young people, and a stronger British Columbia.


The NDP Debt Disaster: Reckless Spending Mortgages our Future

Elimination of bridge tolls, construction of more than 100,000 new housing units and other NDP measures would result in a roughly $18 billion increase in taxpayer- supported debt over four years. And the consequence of that would be credit downgrades, higher interest costs and higher taxes.

Source: BC Liberal Party analysis, BC Budget.

NDP Bureaucracy and Barriers

Platform commitments like these are tailor-made to choke off growth and construction jobs, and will plunge BC further into red ink.

  • “Use every tool in our toolbox to stop Kinder Morgan from going ahead.”
  • “Renew” environmental assessment legislation and processes, and review natural gas fracking – likely stopping a proven technology and costing us jobs and investment in the North.
  • Put new conditions on LNG development – including an NDP-designed environmental assessment process that will scare away new investment in BC.
  • Implement a “roadmap for the future of BC energy” – a plan reminiscent of government actions in Ontario that have driven energy prices sky high for consumers and small businesses.
  • End the principle of revenue-neutrality for the carbon tax, with proceeds instead to be directed to rebate cheques and government-determined “climate change solutions”.

For the construction sector, one particularly worrying NDP commitment is to mandate ratios of apprentices to journeypersons on government-funded projects. This government intervention in project management has been done before, and creates inefficiencies and higher costs, and limits access to entry-level construction jobs for young workers. Union-only procurement is a short step away.

Source: NDP Platform.


Union-Only Construction – The Ontario Experience

Union-only tendering on major public projects would likely return to BC under an NDP government. In Ontario and other jurisdictions where this exists, privileged-access for unions to taxpayer-funded work reduces competition, drives up costs, and denies work to small construction companies.

Source: Merit Canada, Ontario MPPs, Hamilton Spectator, Cardus.

Independent Experts Weigh in on NDP Plan

Non-partisan experts agree on the dangers of the NDP budget plan, as these highlights from an independent analysis by senior economists show. Their conclusion: The NDP won’t be able to sustain its plan “without a major reduction in political promises, and additional tax revenues”.

1. Eliminate MSP fee, freeze BC Hydro rates, freeze ICBC rates; impact is of full implementation.
Sources: Fiscal Assessment of the 2017 NDP Election Platform; C. Scott Clark and Peter T. Devries; April 2017 –

Green Party Platform – Construction Jobs Will Suffer

The Greens are unequivocal in saying “No” to opportunities for responsible resource development and to badly needed major infrastructure upgrades (see next page).




The Greens propose to boost spending by $3.2 billion annually on average, in what the Vancouver Sun calls “one of the most expensive platforms ever presented”. They rely on contingencies, growth and questionable assumptions to balance the budget over four years – but still plan tax increases cumulatively totaling more than $9 billion.



From a “tax system that is structured to meet spending needs”, to the appointment of various new oversight bodies such as a Fair Wages Commission, the Greens want government to be much more involved in the day-to-day lives of British Columbians.



Source: Green Party Platform

Getting to YES on the Responsible Resource Development Projects BC Needs

Responsible resource development and major infrastructure projects are vital to prosperity and to quality of life. Polls show that most British Columbians understand this and want these projects to proceed. Several especially large and important ones are either underway or on the cusp of seeing shovels in the ground. But the opposition parties are set to bring every one of them to a grinding halt.

Join ICBA’s #Get2Yes Campaign and support responsible resource development. Sign-up at
And on Tuesday, May 9, vote for responsible development. Find your polling station: general-election/

ICBA hires taxfighter Bateman to head communications

Jordan Bateman, Director of Marketing and Communications

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of British Columbia (ICBA) announced today that Jordan Bateman will start May 1 as the organization’s new Director of Marketing and Communications. Bateman comes to the ICBA after six years as the B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

“Jordan Bateman is a very strong addition to our team,” said Chris Gardner, President, ICBA. “He has a demonstrated track record of standing up for issues that are important to the ICBA – free enterprise, low taxes, less regulation, and investments in our province that will create jobs and opportunities for people working in the construction sector.”

At the CTF he raised the organization’s profile while helping shape significant public policy debates on important issues, including the Lower Mainland referendum campaign against the TransLink regional sales tax, working to eliminate Medical Services Premiums, and fighting for the dismantling of the Pacific Carbon Trust. Read more

ICBA supports Site C and responsible resource development

(Burnaby, April 18, 2017) Today’s message from Premier Christy Clark about the benefits the Site C Clean Energy Project will provide is important as British Columbians choose which party will lead the province for the next four years.

With our population expected to grow by another million British Columbians in the next 20 years, the demand for clean power will increase 40 per cent. The Site C Clean Energy Project will provide the power needed for 100 years and provide thousands of construction and operations jobs.

“The stakes are high in this election for construction workers and all British Columbians. Both the NDP and the Green Party have expressed hostility to these kinds of responsible resource developments and major infrastructure projects, and that creates a risk to our economy,” says Chris Gardner, President of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).Site C, as well as the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Pacific NorthWest LNG and the George Massey Tunnel replacement will mean thousands of jobs in BC. We need leadership that will get to ‘yes’ on these kinds of developments.”
For more information and interviews, contact:
Trevor Pancoust