Opinion » Editorial


Pardon me if this sounds a little cynical, but of the dozens and dozens of announcements and government initiatives Premier Glen Clark has unveiled in the two months since he became premier, Monday’s press release on a new tourism board was one of the few that didn’t promise to spend more money. Instead, it promised to save $4 million over three years "by utilizing private sector resources in partnership with government." Nothing wrong with that, but it just seems that at the same time the government moans about the reduction in transfer payments it announces new money for everything from Canada’s first Bureau of Legal Dentistry ($500,000) to funding for registered midwives (amount to be determined at the time of the provincial budget). Most of the announcements that involve spending more money fall under one of Clark’s three main themes: health care, education and getting tough on crime. And who can argue that there shouldn’t be more money spent on these things? But you have to wonder if some of it isn’t because midwives, for example, are a tighter group with a single goal and a simple message. Tourism, perhaps to its credit and to its detriment, is a loose collection of largely entrepreneurial people, often too busy trying to earn a living to lobby for government and media attention. Not that tourism needs substantial government handouts — although it certainly relies on some government money for marketing programs — but it gets discouraging when the province tries to take credit for what people in the industry have done themselves. I refer to Clark’s announcement Monday that the new partnership between the government and the tourism industry "will help create 23,000 new jobs across the province by the year 2001." Sorry, but those jobs were already projected prior to the announcement. They are based on things like the hotels and lodges being built by private money at Whistler, Sun Peaks, Big White and other areas across the province; the Open Skies airline agreement; the expansion of the Vancouver airport and opening of the third runway.

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