Not “gloomy” just hoping to hear a vision for a modern economy

Not “gloomy” just hoping to hear a vision for a modern economy


Mr. Speaker: Saanich North and the Islands. A. Olsen: We’re coming to the end of a decade,
and when we return back to this House, it will be 2020. It’s with this context that
as we turn the corner, I believe we need to be more deliberate in how we tackle the wicked
problem of our generation, climate change. CleanBC is a good start, one that we celebrate
together. However, to reach our targets, government is going to have to challenge business as
usual and recalibrate our trajectory. There is lots of talk about the new economy,
but when we look around, we are still harvesting natural resources at unsustainable levels,
still justifying logging old growth and still subsidizing multinational fossil fuel companies
with taxpayers’ money. It’s not only about having the vision of a more prosperous, sustainable
and resilient economy; it’s about having a plan and the political will to bring all the
stakeholders to the table — the people, the invested industries and advocacy organizations
— to have an honest conversation about where we’re at and where we need to go. To the hon. Premier, we’ve seen a very similar
approach to engaging industry as we’ve seen with the last government. We react to threats
and limit our ambition. Why are we still lowering the bar for industries that are trying to
protect the profits they extract through maintaining the status quo? Mr. Speaker: Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Hon. G. Heyman: Thank you to the member for the question. As the member knows, we have one of the most,
if not the most, ambitious climate change emission reduction strategies in North America
that we have coupled with an ambitious economic plan to reduce emissions in our traditional
resource industries and to promote technological innovations to reduce emissions further and
market products. I respectfully disagree with the member that
we react to complaints from any one sector. We, in fact, consult broadly. In the Climate
Change Accountability Amendment Act amendments that we passed a couple of weeks ago, we have
set up and will be establishing a council that is broadly based of all British Columbia
society, including labour, academia, local governments, Indigenous people, business,
environmental organizations and people who live out of the mainly populated areas of
southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. We are intent on continuing our leadership
in North America, but we know that you cannot have a climate plan that captures the imagination
of British Columbians if we’re shedding jobs or hurting the economy. We need to couple
climate action with diversified economic growth and protecting jobs in communities around
B.C. That’s exactly what we’re doing. Mr. Speaker: The member for Saanich North
and the Islands on a supplemental. A. Olsen: Thank you to the minister for his
response. It’s exactly where I’m going with this supplemental question, because having
a steady hand managing the status quo is not good enough anymore. We can see clearer than ever that ours is
a province and an economy that is in transition. While we boast about a strong economy, we
can see the underlying signs of trouble. The province is experiencing a deep affordability
crisis in urban British Columbia and a dramatic need for restoration in our resource communities.
People are looking to the provincial government for a sophisticated response to complex challenges
that we face. An affordability crisis in housing, labour unrest, rural and remote resource economies
in collapse, health care and public education budgets bursting and climate change are largely
problems that have been inherited or, in some cases, covered up by the previous government.
But that doesn’t change the fact that more of the same will only get us more of the same. My question is to the hon. Premier. Does the
Premier agree that we must take steps now to become less reliant on exploiting non-renewable
resources and receiving resource rents and instead focus our energies on innovation and building new economic sectors for the province and the people? Mr. Speaker: Premier. Hon. J. Horgan: I appreciate the question from the member from the Third Party, although
I don’t have as gloomy an outlook as he does and I don’t think British Columbians do. There
are over 100,000 people working in the innovative sector today and more to come. You mentioned labour strife. I don’t know
if you read the paper this morning, but free, collective bargaining has allowed the transit
situation to be resolved. If we had listened to the people on the other side, well, that
might not have happened. The best deal, as we all know, is a deal that’s reached collectively,
cooperatively between the two parties. When I see union leaders coming out and saying,
“We got a good deal for our members,” and I see the employer coming out and saying:
“I got a good deal for the bottom line,” that’s a benefit to everyone. Now, I appreciate the member from Saanich
North and the Islands wants to have a gloomy view as we leave this place, but I’d like
to think that we’ve done extraordinary things here. Working in cooperation with the Green
Party and all members of this House, we passed the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous
peoples in this Legislature. I appreciate that the member from Saanich
North and the Gulf Islands would prefer that we eradicate the challenges of climate change
in less than 12 months, but five million souls in British Columbia, doing the best they can
and leading North America, is what we’ve been doing. I know you agree with that statement,
hon. Member. We have an innovative economy. We have a dynamic
community, and we have hope and optimism for a very, very bright future for British Columbians.

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