Pressure on B.C.’s minister of jobs

Pat Bell's latest assignment is simple. As Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, all he has to do is take B.C.'s success in reaching out to Asia for forest products, extend it to the rest of the economy, and make Premier Christy Clark's jobs plan work.

Jobs

VICTORIA – Pat Bell’s latest assignment is simple. As Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, all he has to do is take B.C.’s success in reaching out to Asia for forest products, extend it to the rest of the economy, and make Premier Christy Clark’s jobs plan work.

Bell is typically upbeat in an interview in his legislature office, offering a sample of tasty baked vegetable snacks. A Chinese company is considering a farm and processing plant for export to the U.S., and one of Bell’s duties is to secure that kind of new investment.

“I often find out that an investor has been over here looking for a specific opportunity, and they’ve gone back empty-handed,” Bell said. “And I know there’s an opportunity in, say, Houston B.C. for that investor. But I didn’t know they were coming, so I couldn’t coordinate it.”

He’s working to fix that, with a better inventory of land and other resources for every community. And he’s establishing a major investments office, to help B.C. land the rare big fish that come swimming by with a billion to invest in a large industry like mining or liquefied natural gas.

As lands minister, Bell signed sweeping land use agreements with coastal first nations and environmental groups. As forests minister, he worked with industry to develop the Chinese lumber market. Now he hopes to use the same principles for tourism, mines, energy, and if the market is there, vegetable snacks.

“The principles behind this are exactly the same as what we did in forestry,” Bell said. “Collaborate with all of the different key partners. Build a market, don’t compete with each other. Make a significant investment in what you’re trying to do, focus your efforts and be consistent.”

As Clark and Bell get set for a national trade mission to China, a reciprocal effort is underway. Bell said Minister of State for Multiculturalism Harry Bloy is developing a hosting program for visits here, working with the consulates for China, Japan, Korea and India.

Bell credits two texts with influencing the jobs plan. One is David Baxter’s 2002 report for the Urban Development Institute, which coined the term “first dollar” for industries such as international education and tourism that bring new money into an economy.

The other is Good to Great, the bestselling book by U.S. management guru Jim Collins that describes how great companies focus only on areas where they have a strategic advantage.

Recent U.S. calls for an import duty on shipping containers from Canada suggests that B.C.’s ports may have that kind of strategic advantage.

Another big task is to meet Clark’s goals for new resource agreements with aboriginal communities. That means building a working relationship on projects, as B.C. did with the Haida Nation after many years of hostile relations, Bell said.

“So that when these projects come ahead, instead of the first call the First Nation makes being to a rights and title lawyer, it’s to their economic advisor, saying how do we make this happen?”

Just Posted

Rossland’s farmer’s market is wilting, but organizers hope to spur new growth

12-year-old market considered taking a year off, says manager

Police investigating man’s death in Winlaw

Foul play not established, but major crimes unit is investigating

Rossland Legion supports Skool Aid

Skool Aid assists low-income families in the Lower Columbia

Bilingual child care spaces coming to Castlegar

New daycare opening this summer will teach kids French and English

Motion calls on Rossland city council to recognize ‘climate crisis’

Andy Morel wants to raise awareness of urgent need for action by higher levels of government

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Kootenay man arrested and charged in 2015 murder

Nathaniel Jessup 32 of Creston has been charged with the second-degree murder of Katherine McAdam and offering an indignity to a body.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

GALLERY: First responders in Fernie return baby owl to its nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Most Read