A foreign affair

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.

15 Comments

If it helps investment in BC, I say that its a great thing.

Foreign investment can aid our economy in wonderful ways.

Cheers
Newman

We're all for investment in British Columbia, but give us a break. If this was such a good idea, why wasn't it done before there was an election looming and when they want to buy votes. This is so transparent! (WOW, finally some transparency!!) (And they're going to encourage you to eat your vegetables too!)

Actually, we are all going to get off our fat asses and excercise. Gordon Campbell, the hero, will be our example. Seriously, if Gordo can do it, why can't we?

the truth may hurt:

Any government can only do so much in a single term. Most people who do not support this governmenty would argue that they have done too much!

I think most British Columbians expect the BC Liberals to lay out a plan for the next four years people can decide who to vote for. Unfortunately, Chicken Carol has been talked into hiding her platform until the election by her brilliant team of advisors (David Shrek, Paul Ramsey et al.).

Unfortunately for her, no one has bothered to inform her that this tactic only works for political parties who have a big lead over their opponents and are playing prevent defense. Not the case for the NDP. Carol is making the exact same mistake that the BC Liberals did in 1996 - sitting back while the government takes the initiative in the 90 days before the election.

Hey this is my job. I just want to say the economy is going great guns right now. When do I start?

MEMO TO JOHN ENGLISH: Who is the backrooom genius who decided to make "eating more vegetables" a Throne Speech promise? Tell me it wasn't Rachel Marsden, whom you have secretly hired now that she is no longer getting any income from Gurmant Grewal. It looks like the right wing spin doctors have come full circle from the late 1980s, when they coached George H. W. Bush to tell people that he didn't like brocolli, but did like pork rinds.

I don't work for the government Budd. Just as I'm sure you don't work for the NDP. Smart move to try and invent a rumour about Rachel Marsden. Not sure how many people are going to buy it.

Given that escalating health care costs are a problem for governments of all political stripes, I'm sure you can see the wisdom of government devoting effort and resources to prevention and wellness.

As I understand it, much of what was in the Throne Speech is patterned after a program successfully introduced by the Blair government in the UK. I realize that bit of information may make it more difficult for you to ridicule it. If so, I apologize:)

The Prevention and wellness goals announced in the Throne Speech make sense and would be good to see programming and dollars to get them in place.

Unfortunately when this government announces something, thats the end of it. Remember Crystal Meth. They announced with much fanfare a plan.

The problem with the plan, one today most people don't know we have one, and second there was no money for the plan.

Good luck on this bigger Prevention plan. Better luck getting the Liberals to fund efforts beyond 15 minutes of fame each program receives.

Rick:

Agreed. We'll see what flesh is put on the bones in the budget. Keep making comments like that however and you may force me to bring up the NDP's Mental Health Plan!

They're telling us all to 'eat our vegeteables' in a throne speech! If that isn't laughable ...

I'm just wondering if more foreign investment is wise, just now. Not to say that I don't think there's a place for it in a capitalist system (and until I take over, looks like that's what we have), but has the government drawn up a plan for exactly how much of our economy they want owned domestically and how much they're willing to sell? When we don't control our own economy, we won't control anything in our province, and I have to say, the idea of unfettered foreign ownership bothers me.

On the other hand, their gonna incent me to eat my vegetables? Great, because I eat loads more than I have to. Actually, I would have thought that it would be eating less of everything that they should be focusing on. Are there any stats on how BCers are eating too few veggies and that this is causing us to be obese and unhealthly?

SECOND MEMO TO JOHN ENGLISH: I have considerable difficulty believing that any one as sophisticated as Tony Blair would have produced a Throne Speech lecturing voters to eat more vegetables. Had he done so, it would have been ridiculed by media commentators and comedians around the planet. Of course, one of the protections that a Canadian provincial politician has is a degree of obscurity that can sometimes be a blessing in disguise!

Since you don't work for the BC Liberal Govt, we can no doubt take your denial that Rachel Marsden is now on the payroll as ... what? ... authoritative? How does this game work, John? Since you don't work for the Govt, you say you don't know who put the veggies in the Throne Speech. But now you say you do know for sure who they have, or have not, hired. It sounds like a variation on the Fed Lib/Prov Lib game, where the voter or reporter is variously told that there either is, or is not, a connection between the two parties depending on what's expedient at the moment.

I don't see why building trade with Asia necessarily means focussing on foreign investment. If we want to build our own economy we should be focussing on helping BC businesses increase trade not selling off resources.

Establishing BC missions in foreign cities sounds a bit like pork barrel to me, but either using local consultants or better federal offices sounds like a good direction.

Both the trade idea and the eating vegetables seem to be taken from the Feds. Martin's been promoting diversifying trade since he got into office and Health Canada's been pushing the Canadian Food Guide for a good long time. Although I think the provincial government could help build trade, I think eating vegetables should be a federal Liberal responsibility. They seem to have excellent contacts in the advertising industry.

I think the Federal government should publish a $100,000,000 "Don't run with scissors guide" - bilingual of course - and published by a Liberal friendly ad agency.

Plans ,forecasts,throne speeches,so much not done but to be done.I want deeds done ,balanced fiscal past not future maybe,running a campaign on how this party views itself,not how it has created a environment for real estate appreciation.Yes ,i want true open gov't. but don't pretend transparency with a closed meeting before the public meeting,how unrewarding this can be when campigns relie on vaguely promised future deeds.
Easy to say that's not what i meant by that!
YES,votes on election day are the only thing that counts,that's a given,but how about stewardship of the taxpayer's funds collected ,who gets what,full disclosure of intentions is not enough.

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