Bureaucrats defend Campbell's "last bad decision"

Gordon Campbell's 2010 reorganization of the province's natural resource ministries has been called, according to The Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer, the premier's "last bad decision." But senior bureaucrats staunchly defended that decision in a backgrounder prepared for his successor Christy Clark, stating that complaints about it are coming from those who lost personal power as a result of the reorganization.

That overhaul created a one-stop-shop super ministry for the regulation, authorization and permitting of natural resource development - a responsibility that was formerly shared by several disparate departments. But natural resource policy making remained the prevue of those other ministries.

The wisdom of that separation - and the confusion the reorganization created - was criticized by everyone from then energy minister Blll Bennett to members of the environmental community.

Nevertheless, a backgrounder submitted to Ms. Clark's transition team by the head of the public service lobbied for the ministry of natural resource operations's continued existence.

The backgrounder acknowledged the "transition to the new model has been predictably challenging." But it has been viewed "very positively by staff and most stakeholders."

As for those who haven't viewed it positively, the backgrounder stated "a correlation exists between those resistant to the restructuring and a perceived loss of traditional stature."

In addition, "concerns by some industry players that the restructuring would increase delays in permitting have not borne out." As a result, the backgrounder urged Ms. Clark not to reverse Mr. Campbell's last bad decision, pointing out the necessity of having "one decision maker" who can "assign and move government resources to address the highest priorities; standardize processes; and make decisions on the land while understanding cumulative effects."

Moreover, the backgrounder argued "a reversal will create a significant morale issue in a workforce of >5000 staff. The hard to quantify cost to government in terms of lost productivity would be high."

Since then, Ms. Clark has appeared to back away from some aspects of Mr. Campbell's reorganization - combining the ministry of natural resource operations with the ministry of forests and land. But the future of that structure is uncertain, with MLA Randy Hawes being appointed by the premier to review it.

The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned backgrounder.

Background to the restructuring of the natural resource sector

2 Comments

Another of the BC Liberals' bad organization decisions continues and it is the fragmentation of responsibility for legislation affecting strata owners: strata manager licensing and developer regulation remains under Finance (Kevin Falcon) , the Strata property Act is strangely under Energy & Mines (Rich Coleman),while consumer protection is under yet another Ministry. A long time ago some other provinces figured out the need to consolidate responsibility for condo policy. BC's currently confused structure seems like it is set up more to serve the real estate industry than the 520,000 strata owners in the province.

I would be curious to know who the "head of the public service" is who made this recommendation to the transition team. It sounds like somebody likes greasing the wheels for developers and investors or at least avoiding all the scrutiny that use to be commonplace to protect the public's interest.

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