'Concerned Citizens' make their point
Oct 13, 2012 / 2:16 pm
At a time when social media has provided a platform to reach thousands of people, a group of politically motivated citizens is taking a more traditional approach to reach out and spread their message to the people of BC.
This fall, the Concerned Citizens of BC will be conducting a series of town hall meetings in an effort to promote their view of the province's political landscape.
The organization is spearheaded by Jim Shepard, the Chairman and CEO of Finning before retiring in 2000, only to be lured out of retirement by BC billionaire Jim Pattison to take over as CEO of Canfor.
At the time, the company was in trouble and bleeding money.
"We managed to lose $750 million in the first two years I was there," says Shepard. Two years later, Canfor had been restored to profitability and so in 2010, he decided to step down again
"It was just around the time that Christy (Clark) had become Premier...and I went down to her office to congratulate her and before I left her office she had me signing on to be her senior policy adviser for a dollar a year."
"I really wasn't needed very much, she was just so astute in so many ways. I was extremely impressed with her performance and yet I was reading in the paper about what a 'dufus' we have for a premier. I couldn't figure it out. If the public could see what I saw, they would sing her praises to the heavens."
It was from that motivation that Shepard formed Concerned Citizens of BC after stepping down from his position in Victoria on June 6, 2012.
Shepard draws on his 20 years of experience in the boardrooms and corner offices of some of the province's biggest companies, when he says Christy Clark is the best person to run BC.
"Premier Christy Clark is a very accomplished and competent executive and I wouldn't have hesitated to hire her. So I just came out to share my reading about (her) for whatever it's worth."
The message from Shepard is two-pronged.
First, he says, BC is in great shape economically.
"We've got a very good economy going on in British Columbia today. We've got the best job growth in the country, (and) we're one of the leaders in venture capital coming into the province. Plus we've managed to achieve and maintain a AAA credit rating, which even the US lost."
Shepard says there is around $80 billion in investment coming into the province thanks to the current economic climate.
His second message takes aim at the NDP, accusing them of mismanaging the province during their previous time in power.
"What we want to go out and say is, 'do we really want to take a risk with what we've got today by trying out the NDP alternative approach, which we tried out in BC for 10 years...and they tried their best, but it didn't work."
Needless to say, the NDP disagrees.
"Certainly Mr. Shepard is entitled to his opinion and I respect his time as a business leader," says NDP House leader and Juan De Fuca MLA John Horgan.
He also serves as Opposition Critic for Energy and Mines.
"I think if he took a real honest look at the economic situation in the 1990s, and put it up against the economic situation today, he would have to conclude as others have, that economic development in the 90s was higher than it is over the Liberal period. I think Mr. Shepard is a partisan and he is making partisan statements."
Horgan challenged Shepard to put his name forward as a candidate in order to have his voice heard instead of working behind the scenes.
"These so-called captains of industry would prefer to protect their preferred position with the BC Liberals, rather than have to make the case that their point of view is in the public interest."
Horgan also argued that Clark has not been good for the economy.
"What I hear from industry is a desire for certainty. There is no certainty in BC right now. I think what industry wants and what the people want is a government that is attuned to their needs...and not one just desperately trying to cling to power."
The Concerned Citizens group will be meeting in Kelowna on October 25.
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