As we begin to prepare for the upcoming election, voters across the province are asking what kind of British Columbia they want to live in. For many, a sustainable economy is their most important issue. As I travel throughout the province in my role as Opposition Critic for Forest, Lands and Natural Resources, meeting with representatives of the industry, there is one theme I hear more often than any other: businesses operating in British Columbia need consistency and competence from government. Over the last four years, businesses in British Columbia have lived in a near constant state of uncertainty. The BC Liberal government has reeled from one idea to another, leaving businesses struggling to keep up. Just one example is the implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Business owners asked all political parties ahead of the 2009 election for their position on the HST. The BC Liberals promised in writing that they would not implement the HST. And, in large part, those business owners felt comfortable electing a BC Liberal government based on that promise. This tax change had profound implications on many local businesses. Some are still reeling from the business losses caused by the increased costs to their customers. And now, with the re-introduction of the PST, businesses are reeling again. But the HST is not the only example of inconsistency and incompetence with this government. When I speak to the people who are leaders in this province’s top industries, I hear, again and again, that they have lost faith in the basic functions of this government. This is not a slight on the individual government workers within the bureaucracy; this is a comment on the ability of Ministers of the Crown to manage their ministries in a manner that inspires confidence. And while headlines across the province and the country tell stories of one BC Liberal scandal after another, perception of this province’s ability to be a safe and secure environment to run a business suffers. Every day, I’m told that it is time for a change. Major corporations, and small and medium-sized business owners, are looking for that change. They are looking for competent, thoughtful and consistent government; something that has been lacking in British Columbia for far too long.
Norm Macdonald serves as the MLA for the Columbia River – Revelstoke riding.