Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An issue BC needs to address

This is from yesterday's Daily Townsman in Cranbrook, it meshes well with the recent blog piece by MLA Bob Simpson.   BC is very dependent on rural BC for general economic well being and for a lot of tax dollars.   Without excess of government revenues collected in rural BC versus the service provided, BC would have at least a 10% budget deficit, I have not finished crunching the numbers.

The urban-rural divide
MARCH 1, 2011
During the recent (B.C. Liberal) and ongoing (NDP) party leadership races in B.C., candidates of all stripes have referred to the so-called rural-urban divide and a related disconnect between the people and government as serious issues that must be addressed. Not to question anyone's sincerity … but don't hold your breath.
Since human beings first started moving out of the hills, forests and fields and into urban centres, cities have always had the economic and political clout. This is not to attribute a prejudice towards large urban centres on the part of our leaders but to acknowledge a fundamental aspect of civilization. Industry always trumps agriculture, so to speak. Great drifts of population concentrated in one place, more diversified economies, locations of seats of power - no wonder great cities and the rural hinterlands have always enjoyed an empire-colony status. 
To continue this metaphor, here in the East Kootenay we've often felt as if we exist in some limboland between two empires - the Lower Mainland (Vancouver/Victoria) far, far to the west, and powerful Calgary, just over the mountains. Often we feel alternately plundered and ignored by these respective empires. And not to mention our federal government, practically situated on another continent. We are, quite literally, the hewers of wood and the drawers of water for the nearest cosmopolites. 
Our new premier elect in B.C., Christy Clark, has talked the talk about bridging this divide. We're sure she's sincere. But it's to be expected that in B.C. the economic and political power centres will always be located in the Lower Mainland. What we in the far-flung regions should expect and demand is recognition that the basis of urban economic and political power rests upon the combined contribution of the regions, the body without which the head cannot survive. Vancouver could not survive as a city state.
Therefore, it behooves Ms. Clark to ensure the regions are well represented in her cabinet. And should the NDP form a government in 2013, or before, whoever is then premier should ensure likewise.
The rural-urban divide, with all its different and often conflicting issues, is indeed a real issue and problem, and with us to stay. But greater inclusiveness in the regions' representation in government would go a long way to easing the sense of disconnect, and thus narrowing that divide.
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