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

Rio Tinto donates $50K for Shames Mountain chairlift upgrades

The money was used to purchase the chairlift’s bull wheel replacement last summer

Broken axle caused New Hazelton train derailment: TSB

It could happen again without a different way to inspect trains

Cullen remains uncertain about political future

Says he’ll make decision in early March

Spring fishery closures mulled for south coast

Fewer fish are returning to rivers and more conservation needed, say feds

Terrace resident’s bill banning single-use plastics introduced in Ottawa

MP Nathan Cullen’s presented Ben Korving’s private member’s bill Wednesday

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Most Read