Clark: B.C. priorities for the incoming Trudeau government

I’ve already reached out to Trudeau about our most urgent priority: A new agreement with the United States on softwood lumber.

After the longest federal election campaign in living memory, I hope all the candidates in the Kelowna area, and across the province, took a day or two off with their families.

Putting your name forward and stepping into the often tough world of politics isn’t easy, but our democratic system relies on good people doing just that. Win or lose, they all deserve our thanks and respect.

In particular, I want to congratulate Justin Trudeau, and local MPs Dan Albas, Mel Arnold, Richard Cannings, and Stephen Fuhr. And I want to thank Ron Cannan for his service to Kelowna-Lake Country. Regardless of party affiliation, my job as premier is to work with all federal parties to ensure the federal government understands our priorities. That means supporting our strong, growing and diverse economy, creating the conditions for new jobs, opening new markets in Asia, and investing in critical services and infrastructure.

The results are clear: British Columbia is one of the last few net contributors to confederation. While other provinces struggle to control spending and balance their budgets, we have three consecutive balanced budgets in a row, with a fourth coming next year, and in four years, we’ll eliminate B.C.’s operating debt for the first time in 40 years.

Thanks to your hard work, B.C. is projected to lead Canada in economic growth this year and for years to come; placing our province in an enviable position in Canada. It also means we have the ability to build upon our world-leading education, health care and post-secondary systems. Those are the things we can control—but like any province, British Columbia needs a strong federal partner.

I’ve already reached out to Trudeau about our most urgent priority: A new agreement with the United States on softwood lumber. The now-expired 2006 agreement saw $2.4 billion in duties returned to B.C. companies—a huge boost for one of B.C.’s largest and most significant economic engines.

Forestry is responsible for more than 145,000 direct and indirect jobs. While we’ve made great strides diversifying our export markets, particularly in Asia, the U.S. isn’t going anywhere—it will always be a crucial market. It’s critical to have a stable agreement with our largest softwood trading partner.

We also need a federal partner to support a once-in-a-generation opportunity in liquefied natural gas. The Pacific NorthWest LNG project, currently under review by the federal government, represents a US$36-billion investment, 330 direct operational long-term jobs, 300 local spin-off jobs, up to 4,500 jobs at peak construction, as well as contract, supply, and other economic opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses across the province.

I look forward to working with Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure B.C. can continue to contribute to this country like never before.