As part of the Campbell administration's new Asia-Pacific Gateway Strategy, the provincial government is promising to open "a network of B.C. Trade and Cultural Centres in key international markets that will work to make B.C.'s products available to the world" - possibly in partnership with the private sector. That would significantly increase the province's official trade representation abroad, which is currently limited to Michael Craddock, a consultant in Taiwan. But what you may not not know is this experiment was tried once before.
During the Vander Zalm administration, the government opened a number of economic and investment offices abroad. The Harcourt New Democrats continued that policy, giving British Columbia trade representation in California, Washington State, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
But there was always some debate as to whether those offices were effective at drumming up investment opportunties. So it came as no surprise when many were shutdown during the mid-nineties. And, by the time the Campbellites came to power, the only ones still open were those in London, Taipei and Tokyo.
By 2002 though, the government had also gutted London and Tokyo, leaving behind Mr. Craddock in Taipei. So now, on the eve of an election, it looks as if the Liberals are either taking a lesson from the past or failing to learn from a past mistake.