With an election campaign underway during the UBCM convention this week, all three of the province's main political party leaders used their allotted speaking time to tailor some of their campaign messages to the audience of municipal leaders viewing in online.
The convention which wrapped up yesterday was an online event this year, the usual on site convention atmosphere replaced by a collection of zoom sessions and policy work keeping the province's elected officials and senior staff home based but busy, though without tapping much of the travel budget for 2020.
BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson used his time on Wednesday to explore the challenges that businesses are finding during COVID and the impact of deferred taxation on communities.
As part of his presentation he also touched on what will be the themes for a Liberal action plan on employment, drug addiction, public safety and housing supply.
He also used the UBCM forum to challenge the reasoning for an election campaign during the COVID pandemic, referring to the move by Premier Horgan as an "unethical power grab".
Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau shared the final day of UBCM with Premier Horgan, with the Greens's offered the morning slot in the daylong festival of speechifying.
Her take on the election call was to note that "it takes a kind of arrogance to think that it is better to work alone" a reference to the decision to seek a majority mandate, despite the working arrangement that the NDP had with the Greens prior to the Monday election call.
Not surprisingly, climate change made for the major focus for Ms. Furstenau, who observed for the delegates that while local governments have been effective in navigating and adapting to climate change, provincial and federal decisions have run counter to such efforts.
Premier Horgan's contribution to the event, was as with tradition, the final speech of the convention and he brought the curtain down on UBCM 2020, highlighting the importance he found of travelling across BC and having built relationships with community leaders since taking office.
Noting for the legion of community representatives viewing from all corners of BC as to how “Local governments are the catalyst of change ... If we are not listening to the voices of communities, we are not connecting with people”.
Much of his conversation was akin to a campaign event, with Mr. Horgan knocking off a list of government achievements since taking office in 2014, from the creation of shelters and supportive housing to public transit and the launch of the province's ReStart program to rebuild the economy.
Keeping his focus back on the municipal themes, the Premier also noted that there was a need to look beyond the current times and address the longer term infrastructure needs for municipalities, noting for the delegates as to how he "will be delighted to lead a delegation to Ottawa of UBCM members to accelerate the delivery of critical infrastructure. If it involves more resources from the province, we are prepared to do that.”
The UBCM have provided a Coles Notes version of the presentations from each leader, which you can review below.
You can also find more background on how their hour in the spotlight of UBCM went through our political Blog D'Arcy McGee.
For more notes related to the 2020 edition of UBCM see our archive page here.