|Kelowna West Liberal MLA Ben Stewart introduced
a private members statement on Monday putting the focus
on the importance of trade for British Columbia
The importance of British Columbia in the role as Canada's Pacific Gateway made for the theme of discussion as Monday's session of the British Columbia Legislature got underway, with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice serving as the government's tour guide when it comes to the level of trade that transits through the province's ports.
The theme of British Columbia's place as a trade gateway was introduced by Kelowna West Liberal MLA Ben Stewart, a former provincial trade representative to the Asia Pacific, a position he was appointed to in 2013 after he had stepped aside to provide for a seat for former Premier Christy Clark
He returned to the Legislature in February, reclaiming his seat for the Liberals in a byelection that was held on February 14th.
On Monday Stewart paid tribute to the ground work that was put in place decades ago by then Premier Bill Bennet, tracing the growth of trade through the decades that followed and the range of initiatives that were introduced through those years to build British Columbia's image around the Asian basin.
Taking up the narrative, Ms. Rice outlined some of the more recent initiatives that the NDP government has taken on when it comes to enhancing trade and building relationships with the Asia Pacific Region, while also offering up some partisan observations related to the previous Liberal government's focus on LNG development.
That is why our government is committed to creating strong, sustainable relationships with Asia. In January, our Premier and Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Technology; Minister of Tourism; and Minister of State for Trade went on trade missions to China, Korea and Japan — our second-, third- and fourth-largest trading partners. During these meetings, our government promoted many sectors of B.C.'s economy, such as tourism, wineries, wood products and our tech sector.
These meetings included several bilateral discussions with the goal of deepening existing relationships. The former government put all its eggs in the LNG basket while ignoring other sectors of our economy, but by building strong relationships with our partners abroad, we're supporting a growing, diverse economy with good-paying jobs here in B.C. and connecting B.C. businesses to new markets abroad.
Included in her review, was a short mention of the growth of the Port of Prince Rupert and the partners that have contributed to its success.
In my riding, the Port of Prince Rupert recently unveiled its expanded terminal. We've had over $1 billion worth of investment in the last year in the Port of Prince Rupert. Multiple partners, including the province, also contributed to improving the road-rail utility corridor that serves the port.
Ms. Rice highlighted her portion of the discussion through her Facebook page on Monday evening.
For his part, MLA Stewart, who had introduced the topic through a Private Member's Statement, also had some kind words to share on the status of the North Coast gateway to the world, making note of the dramatic growth of the port over the years.
I just want to thank the member for North Coast for her remarks and recognition of the value in international trade to British Columbia and even her riding, where the Port of Prince Rupert is.
These numbers…. I mean, I lived in Kitimat, just south of her riding, a number of years ago, and I can relate to the fact that the Port of Prince Rupert has changed dramatically and is a key part of Canada's success in receiving and shipping goods into Asia.
The Kelowna MLA's notes on trade, were framed as part of the Liberal's focus on the growing uncertainty and messages from the NDP government related to the Kinder Morgan controversy and the growing animosity between the governments of Alberta and British Columbia.
The Liberal MLA and many others in the Liberal caucus have been making note that the uncertainty and approach that the BC NDP have taken towards the Kinder Morgan issue could put the province's reputation as a trading gateway in jeopardy.
You can review the full discussion from Monday's session as part of the Legislature Archive here, starting at the 10:10 AM mark.
To get the wider overview of the discussion on trade, the full video review can be found from the Legislature's video archive from Monday morning here, like the transcript, the exchange begins at the 10:10 AM point.
For more items related to the work of the British Columbia Legislature can be found on from our Legislature archive page here.
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