Election result crucial for northwestern B.C. businesses

Uncertainty in the business environment reduces access to and/or increases the cost of capital

By Steve Smyth

It’s time for our provincial quadrennial excursion into democracy and for the business community and for us who manage our own businesses, it can be an uneasy time.

People open businesses because they have a passion for something and to sustain that passion businesses need stability and certainty – both fiscal and regulatory. If they are to grow their businesses they need to know that the foundations in which they are rooted are secure.

Traditionally, Liberal candidates tend to have a background related to business or administration, while the NDP usually selects more academics, activists and government employees. BC Liberal’s are champions of free enterprise and while free enterprise isn’t free, it’s certainly easier when you feel that the people making the decisions have some experience in the market economy.

The Liberals have always been seen as more business friendly than the more left leaning NDP. Businesses respond to this knowing that their investments and their future should be more secure. It is not that they are against the social policies championed by the NDP; it is because they know that everything, sooner or later, must be paid for.

Although our town is small, like it or not, we all rely on the global market place and what affects us the most is whether or not global money feels secure enough to invest in B.C. and the northwest. Global investors, just like small town businesses, are reassured by a secure and financially stable government, rather than one who may be held hostage by internal activism.

Uncertainty in the business environment reduces access to and/or increases the cost of capital. Uncertainty stifles the passion to invest in your business, to expand it, to seek out opportunities of growth and hire more employees.

Businesses have to know that the regulatory regime will be pragmatic and not created out of an unrealistic idealism.

Locally, log exports are a critical issue. Urban NDPers remain vehemently opposed while the current Liberals recognized that it was a better option than shutting down the forest industry completely. They’ve allowed log exports which have kept our forest infrastructure and logging companies viable. While it’s hard to support shipping some jobs overseas, these exports have more than helped this town survive the past decade. The election of any party that threatens to stop these exports should cause a ripple of fear.

Each party brings a different management style of governance and fiscal prudence. On May 9 businesses in Terrace and the people of B.C. must choose carefully and plan for their future.

Terrace resident Steve Smyth is a past director of the Terrace-Kitimat Airport Society and a current board member of the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce.

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