Speeches equal zero benefits for North Island

While the North Island’s NDP MLA said the recent throne speech by Premier Christy Clark lacked “substance,” Claire Trevena saved her harshest criticism for Clark’s recently announced job plan

While the North Island’s NDP MLA said the recent throne speech by Premier Christy Clark lacked “substance,” Claire Trevena saved her harshest criticism for Clark’s recently announced job plan.

“For the North Island it’s a huge disappointment, there’s no question,” said Trevena.

“First off, the job plan ignores Vancouver Island completely — it seems to start in Vancouver and forgets the Island,” she said.

“And for the North Island it’s effectively looking at how we can export jobs, rather than create jobs.”

The Liberal premier’s plan emphasizes long-term trade with Asia to create resource-industry jobs across B.C. “We’re facing the future of B.C. and of Canada, and I’m optimistic about the future we have,” Clark said, Sept. 19 from Prince Rupert.

“Because from here we are two or three days closer to Asia than any other port on the North American continent,” she said.

“It’s not just an opportunity for B.C., its an opportunity for Canada, and it begins right here, at this port in Prince Rupert.”

True, said Trevena, if one is talking about shipping our goods.

“On forestry (the job plan is) talking solely about the export market, it’s not talking anywhere about any value added,” she said.

Trevena said the plan doesn’t address tourism.

“And on education it’s talking about how we can get foreign students in rather than how we can make sure our students in and remote communities can access education,” she said.

“Instead of looking at new and innovative ways of creating jobs and what our communities really need, it’s just saying: ‘We’re going to ship out all our natural resources to Asia and hopefully bring in lots of Asian students and that will be our Nirvana’ and really ignoring the needs of our communities.’

“There are broad brushstrokes about how the province likes tourism and how we can attract Chinese tourists, but it’s not looking at the specific concerns I’ve heard from tourism operators,” said Trevena.

“Whether it’s the high cost of ferries that’s putting people off, or for encouraging the growth of the tourism sector — unless you start creating the economic base, it’s a downward spiral.”

Clark disagrees.

“My recipe is we grow a thriving private sector, because when we have a thriving private sector and people and paying taxes, that money goes to the provincial treasury, and that’s how we support things like healthcare and education,” said Clark.

—with files from Tom Fletcher