Asia-Pacific Heartlands Economic Gateway Strategy

One of the principle promises in today's throne speech was an Asia-Pacific Gateway Strategy. From a policy and political standpoint that strategy makes sense. The region's economic importance cannot be denied. According to Industry Canada, trade exports from British Columbia to Asia were worth $7 billion - the highest among the provinces. So it pays to pay attention to the region. And, by focusing on an issue that matters to British Columbia's Asian community, the Liberals have an excuse to hobnob with them - winning vital votes for the upcoming election. Unfortunately, past experience indicates this strategy could become little more than a poorly-managed public relations exercise.

Cast your mind back to the government's February 2003 throne speech. The Liberals announce a Heartlands Economic Strategy to "open up new opportunties for economic growth" in the Interior. That strategy also made sense from a policy and political standpoint. Structural economic problems in the region needed (and still need) to be addressed. And the Liberals were anxious to shore up their support in the Interior. After all, just a month later, Ipsos-Reid Corp. polling showed just 37 percent of area residents would vote for the Liberals - compared with 44 percent provincewide.

But what started out as a good, if underdeveloped, idea quickly became little more than a brand name attached to any funding announcement rolled out in the Interior. And, if the Liberals aren't careful, their Asia-Pacific Gateway Strategy could suffer the same fate.

8 Comments

Yeah,

I have to agree the whole heartlands thing got old real fast.

Luckily it seems the BC Libs are talking it up anymore.

I hope that the BC Libs will do better with the Asian Gateway thing.

It seems more of an investment idea so perhaps the follow through will be better.

For the heartlands, it seemed to be just a "brand" name and little more.

The way the BC Libs need to win seats outside urban areas is to actually push local issues and initatives that matter to people in the heartlands, other wise the heartlands will be the hurtlands for my preferred BC Lib government.

Cheers
Newman

If the Lieberals want to keep any rural seats, they'd best start by getting down on their knees and crawling from door to door, publicly apologizing for the last 4 years of vicious, vindictive, and heartless attacks on rural communities and the poor. Not that it would do any good: you'd be hard pressed to find anyone outside the 604 area who would believe a single thing they say now. If a Liberal said it, it's a lie until proven otherwise.

relayer:

What pap! Unemployment has dropped substantially in every region of the province. Economic improvements are being felt everywhere. Take a look at Kamloops for instance. Their unemployment rate in 2001 was over 13%. Now it is in the 7% range.

People vote with their pocketbooks and most people in the 250 are better off now then they were four years ago. Carol James vow to shut down the aquaculture industry and re-introduce the NDP's harmful policies on the mining and forest sectors should give everyone in rural BC pause.

It's the NDP that have no clue what drives the economy in rural BC. They think the solution is to put people out of work and then provide generous welfare benefits. Folks in the 250 have more pride than that.

John English is back in business! When did Carole James threaten to shut down the aquaculture industry? Or did she say she didn't want any more licences until the contamination problems have been satisfactorily resolved? What timber and mining policies are you talking about? Why do you continue to make things up?

As for unemployment coming down all across BC, you're right, it has. Because of low interest rates and higher commodity prices, not because of BC Govt policies.

John English is back in business! When did James threaten to close down the aquaculture industry? What mining and timber policies are you talking about?

As for unemployment coming down, it has, you're right about that. It's come down because migration to BC has remained low, and with modest job creation and essentially stable participation, the rate of joblessness has fallen. The housing boom, pushed by low interest rates, is largely responsible. The other big factor is higher commodity prices and, at least till now, good lumber demand in the US, which has to a degree offset the tariff impact. It's certainly not because of BC Govt policies.

Budd Campbell:

Ah yes, I see you are parroting the NDP's "autopilot" economic theory. You know, the one that completely ignores the fact that BC actually has to compete with the rest of the world for investment dollars.

The mining industry is re-investing in BC, not because of low interest rates or high commodity prices. They can choose to invest in any number of other jurisdictions. They are investing here because the current government appears to have actually asked them what they need to invest in BC and then has done it.

During the 1990's BC missed out on one the most sustained economic boom periods of the modern age. This occurred because BC was not competitive.

What you ought to realize Budd, is by parroting this "autopilot" view of the economy you are reinforcing the stereotype that New Democrats fundamentally misunderstand how the eocnomy works. Obviously you have not learned anything since the Glen Clark days.

Carol James has said on CKNW radio that she supports a boycott of BC farmed salmon. She has also stated that all fish farms should be moved onto land. That is uneconomic. Its a little like saying that everyone in BC should be forced to buy a fuel cell car even though the per unit cost is currently $800,000 each.

James has also criticized every aspect of the BC Liberal's forestry and mining changes. Either she intends to reverse all of these policies or - like she is on tax cuts - she's a gigantic hypocrite. Criticize them unceasingly and then state that she won't reverse them. Chicken Carol strikes again!

John while Budd doesn't want to give any credit to the Liberals for the improving BC economy I am sure he will give the NDP the credit for the $1.5 billion surplus back in 2000 which was the result of conditions in another part of the world that had little to do with domestic policy.
Isn't there still some $300 million still owed to the taxpayers from the sale of export power.

If the mining industry is investing in BC it's because of improved demand. But tell me, where are these investements, John? Besides the expansion to the Kemess Mine, which the federal DFO opposes becasue of its polution impact on a lake and freshwater fishery, where are all these new mines you are falsely advertising?

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