After British Columbians gave us a mandate in May, I knew we had to get to work right away. Voters expect us to focus on growing the economy, control spending, and invest for the future. In other words, build a strong economy and secure tomorrow.
That’s why we called the legislature back in June. We had to pass our balanced budget, because controlling government spending is the foundation. It sends the right message to international investors that B.C. remains a safe harbour – you don’t have to look very far to find examples of governments that have spent themselves into disaster. But fundamentally, it’s simply the right thing to do.
Governments don’t have the right to knowingly spend a penny more than the taxpayer gives them. I feel strongly about that not only as Premier, but also as your MLA. Earning the trust of Westside-Kelowna voters is a privilege, one I’m very grateful for.
To keep that privilege, I’m always looking to protect your tax dollars, always looking for ways make sure local issues stay on the map. That’s why I made sure my first announcement as MLA addressed the single most important local issue, upgrading Westside Road. I also worked with the District of West Kelowna to help the residents of McDougall Creek find flood protection solutions, and to extend RapidBus service into West Kelowna.
One of the best ways to ensure local issues get the attention they need is having local stakeholders explain them in person. There’s just no substitute for face-to-face meetings. That’s why I’m proud to bring my cabinet to Kelowna next week. There are direct economic benefits that come with bringing cabinet to town, such as money spent on hotels, facilities, meals, and so on. But there’s a longer-lasting benefit that comes with face-to-face meetings with local stakeholders.
Cabinet ministers have to balance sometimes differing regional wants and interests, to arrive at policies that benefit the province as a whole. But in a province as diverse as British Columbia, those differing interests can be very different indeed. It’s absolutely vital to get out there – to visit as much of the province as possible, talk to as many people as possible, and learn firsthand what matters on the ground.
To do just that, my cabinet and I will meet with mayors, district representatives, the Westbank and District Chamber of Commerce, and others.
We won’t be able to say “yes” to every request, but we will walk away with a better understanding of the issues, and hopefully a way forward. That’s why in the coming weeks and months, you’ll see more news on LNG, on securing new markets and customers in Asia – and on more investments in the Central Okanagan.
In the weeks and months to come, I’m looking forward to using this space to tell you about those announcements and initiatives we’re working on. I’m also looking forward to hearing from you – to make your issues get and stay on the map.
Christy Clark is the premier of B.C. and the Liberal MLA for Westside-Kelowna.