B.C. Chamber CEO John Winter addresses crowd.

B.C. Chamber CEO John Winter addresses crowd.

Business must challenge government policy: CEO

Provincial chamber leader speaks at local luncheon

The business community has got to do a better job of selling itself as a vital contributor to B.C.’s economic health and stability – and has a responsibility to advocate to government for sound fiscal policies in the wake of B.C.’s rejection of the HST.

That was the message delivered to members of the South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce by B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO John Winter at a lunch meeting Wednesday.

Winter, who repeatedly emphasized the potential political clout of chamber organizations locally and on the provincial level – the B.C. Chamber represents some 32,000 businesses province-wide, he noted – said it is all the more important to speak with a strong, unified voice in the current political climate.

Business has the power to affect policy decisions which could ultimately steer the province back toward a more competitive tax structure, and a more diverse and sustainable economy, he said.

The referendum decision to dump the HST and go back to the GST/PST tax structure, he added, made it “clear to us all that B.C. has returned to its historic level of craziness politically – with (former Socred premier) Bill Vander Zalm reinventing himself as an opponent of taxes, when he is the one who introduced the property transfer tax.”

Winter, whose past business background includes many years as a senior executive with Molson Breweries, added that while many had thought the “politics of division” was a thing of the past, the recent HST debate had seen the return of “language that creates terror and conflict.”

“The HST lost because business was seen by many as the bad guy,” he said. “And for too long the business community has been its own worst enemy in this process.”

It’s a myth, Winter said, that the introduction of the HST represented big business versus small business.

“Big business will not only employ people, but it will give out contracts, and those, in turn, will support the little businesses,” he said, adding that people “lost sight of the connectivity during the HST debate.

“We need to remove the politics and get to providing facts to the public so that they can make informed decisions,” he said.

“We should challenge the government and the opposition parties to discuss their economic plans and policies.”

Following the meeting, Winter told Peace Arch News he has no doubt the province will face a tough transitional period for the at least a year, before the old PST/GST structure is reinstated.

“There are going to be a lot of ‘told you sos,’” he said, citing forecasts that predict the B.C. will slow down from a 2.2 per cent growth rate to 1.2 per cent,  or “practically a standstill.”

But he said he believes the will exists in the business community to push government for tax reform once the HST has been dismantled.

“I think this will happen the moment we get back to the old taxes,” he said.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building for 1485 Fir St. (Contributed rendering)
Majority voice support for 80-unit rental redevelopment in White Rock

Resident fearful of being priced out of the city, council told at public hearing

A tow truck works to pull a dump truck from a ditch at 176 Street and 40 Avenue, following a two-vehicle incident Tuesday (Jan. 19) afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: Dump truck, car collide in South Surrey

Intersection – 176 Street and 40 Avenue – was site of 2019 fatal collision

An electric vehicle charging station in front of Hope’s municipal hall, district hall. (Photo: Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
40 electric vehicle charging stations planned for Surrey

Funding coming from all three levels of government

Guildford Seniors Village, located in Surrey. (Image: Google Maps)
Fraser Health declares COVID-19 outbreaks over at 2 Surrey care homes

Outbreaks over at The Emerald at Elim Village, Guildford Seniors Village

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Flags line the National Mall towards the Capitol Building as events get underway for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Joe Biden arrives at U.S. Capitol for inauguration

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

Cumberland photographer Sara Kemper recently took the top spot in a Canadian Geographic photography contest. Photo by Sara Kemper
B.C. photographer takes top Canadian Geographic photo prize

Sara Kemper shows what home means to her in Comox Valley photo

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

Most Read