My EIGHT commitments
I’ll never forget meeting true northern grit and passion for the first time.
When I became CEO of the BC Chamber in 2016, a perky but dead-serious “welcome wagon” of northeastern-chamber members cornered me at our Annual General Meeting.
“We’d like a word,” they said.
The chamber executives from Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge sat me down:
“Listen up, Litwin. The north matters.”
That frank but friendly conversation – and their urgent call to action to advocate for the north – kicked off a long, impactful and wonderful working relationship.
In four short years, we would do things our BC Chamber network had never done before.
We led a contingent of northern Chamber Executives to Victoria to meet with multiple ministers and demand action on everything from rail connectivity and forestry, to healthcare
We landed cover stories in BC’s biggest business publications, like this one which amplified northern voices and caused waves in Victoria
We fought hard for resource projects and landed major wins
We launched BC’s annual and definitive resource survey that proved British Columbians are proud of their primary sectors and want to see them grow, helping to update old media narratives
All this hard work culminated in day-long policy discussions with 12 Deputy Ministers (and Assistant DMs) and our members in Fort St. John, in the fall of 2019.
Victoria has never been in the habit of flying that many senior civil servants to the north. Northerners know what I’m saying.
And we took that same road show all over BC, elevating all regions and all sectors.
How did we manage all this?
We worked as a team.
And I had internalized that THE NORTH MATTERS.
If elected leader of the BC Liberal party, the north will matter in Victoria and Ottawa again. Our interconnectedness up-and-down and across the province, will matter again.
And when we win in 2024, here are my EIGHT COMMITMENTS:
Visiting out-of-province businesses will start following local tax laws. We will create and enforce a level playing field for businesses in the northeast so they’re not competing with their PST-free neighbors in Alberta.
We will start building a new Taylor Bridge. We won’t “investigate” the need to build a new bridge …we’ll start building it.
We will work in partnership with Indigenous communities and municipalities to ensure there’s a rising tide for all.
We will start to invest in local community amenities and healthcare supports so people in the north don’t have to wonder if they can raise a family or get the urgent attention they need when health and other key issues arise. Fully-resourced communities attract and keep people – and can provide the workforces needed to keep fly-in-fly-out workers at bay.
We will roll out new, enhanced funding agreements to ensure local municipalities have the dollars to build and protect resilient, diverse and safe communities.
In specific communities, the province will fund Project Procurement Officers through local business associations to specifically facilitate, track, and report-out-on local procurement opportunities when larger projects are under development. This will help ensure there’s a rising tide for communities close to major resource and infrastructure investments.
We will support and accelerate existing investments in fiber connectivity (and redundancy) in the north. But – just as importantly – we will invest in a significant emergency fiber stockpile to ensure we have enough supply to quickly repair breaks, and create more resiliency and reliability in the system
And the province will be a true, committed partner for the north in Ottawa, and around key issues like rail connectivity where a team approach is essential.
The north matters to me; I’ve proven it.
And I can’t wait to do it again.
PS. I will be visiting Fort St. John on Monday, January 24th. Join us at The Lido Theatre to hear more about my plan to revitalize the north.