Jaime Webbe: Leadership means planning ahead

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      For more than a decade now I have worked for the United Nations and the World Bank on sustainable development.

      I have seen Russia develop a world-class field school for northern indigenous people. I have seen Brazil make their environment minister, an activist for conservation in the Amazon, one of the strongest and most respected voices in the government. I have seen Norway direct millions from their oil and gas revenues to reforestation projects in developing countries.

      None of these efforts have occurred over night—all took vision, long-term planning, and sustained implementation over many years. But most of all they required leadership that was proactive not reactive.

      I am running as an independent candidate in the North Vancouver-Seymour riding because proactive leadership has been replaced, in B.C., by partisanship, party politics, and political infighting. Our leaders have systemically chosen tactics at the expense of strategy.

      B.C. has seven billion trees, gross mining revenues in 2011 reached $9.9 billion, estimated gross domestic product from the “green sector” could reach $27 million by 2020, and there are almost 18,000 tourism-related companies operating in the province.

      By all measures B.C. should be a case study on how to develop a strong economy and a sustainable future for our children, but we’re not there yet.

      Danone (the yogurt company) is investing heavily in the conservation of rivers and wetlands because they recognize that climate change may impact the water availability to the thousands of dairy farms they contract. This is just one example of proactive planning from the private sector because companies realize that to succeed in the future you need to plan for the future.

      Successive B.C. governments have fallen into the bad habit of waiting to see what happens next when it comes to balancing the economy and the environment.

      When asked about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, both the Liberals and NDP have told us that they will wait and see what the full proposal contains. Neither our government nor our official Opposition has taken a proactive approach to our economic future and engaged with industry to plan for sustainable growth. All we are doing is deciding whether or not to take what’s offered.

      Neither party has shown a commitment to make sustainable economic development in B.C. a demand-driven process. We need a government that plans for long-term profitability without mortgaging the future of our children.

      We need to provide more support for the participation of B.C.-based companies in industry-led global sustainability efforts such as the Cement Sustainability Initiative and the Forest Solutions Group.

      Education is the foundation upon which B.C.’s long-term economic success will be built, and yet tactics once again trump strategy. Educating a child takes almost two decades, but successive B.C. governments have only planned as far as the next budget cycle.

      The quality of education and resources available to educate our children, including children with special needs, shouldn’t fluctuate with the economy. Education should not be funded by an endless cycle of parent-led fundraisers.

      We should expect more from our government; no one else will. We should expect a vision based on evidence that goes not just to the next election cycle, but to the next generation. We should expect our government to listen to the voices of British Columbians who demand leadership that strives for a strong, sustainable economy.

      Let’s expect more.