The answers lie in rural British Columbia

I

’m glad the Liberal leadership race is over; maybe we can get back to governing now, starting with a real budget as soon as possible.

I wish premier-designate Clark well and am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

I’m eager to see the details of her agenda, and, just as importantly, how she develops it; especially three of her key priorities: democratic reform, support for middle class families and an aggressive focus on rural B.C.

Reforming the legislature and increasing the role of cabinet and MLAs will go a long way toward giving us a government that is more able to address a wider range of issues simultaneously than an autocratic approach allows.

B.C.’s middle class also desperately needs government to champion its issues as BC has the worst poverty rates, highest household debt, and some of the lowest job creation numbers in Canada.

One way to accomplish both democratic reform and improve the lot of the middle class is to deliver on the promise of a more aggressive and focused agenda for rural British Columbia.

Rural MLAs must be given more say in the governance of our province.

While we represent the minority of the population, we come from the ridings which generate the wealth that still underpins B.C.’s economy.

But, our issues and needs are different than those of the Lower Mainland; a difference which must be taken into account when government programs are developed, funded, and delivered.

Cuts to gaming grants impact our communities more deeply and broadly.

Underfunding the school system can cause some of our smaller communities to die.

 

Centralizing health care delivery limits rural

economic development opportunities, stalling the growth potential of the province’s economy.

 

Failing to fund rural infrastructure needs undermines our ability to stabilize our population and attract the workforce we need to maximize the potential of BC’s natural resource wealth and its contribution to the government’s revenues.

If we want to reduce poverty, get people back to work in “family supporting” jobs, increase government revenues to pay for improved public services, and diversify the B.C. economy in a sustainable manner, then the answer lies in rural B.C.

Rural MLAs must, therefore, play a major role in helping Victoria understand how to best capitalize on rural BC’s potential to help address the majority of the government’s priorities.

Bob Simpson, MLA Cariboo North