It is with very mixed emotions that I announce that I will not be seeking re-election.
By the time the election rolls around next May, I will have served as the MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena for 17 years. I have enjoyed each of those years.
The first five years were as a member of the Official Opposition. In the critic roles that I had, which included Employment and Investment, Labour and Health, it was an incredible learning experience and I thank the hundreds of people who offered their advice and experience over this time
The ten years in served in Cabinet could be described as “intense,” both in terms of the pace at which things had to be addressed and the 24/7 demands. Cabinet and the rest of Caucus worked amazingly well together and, while we made mistakes like every government does, there is a record of success that has transformed British Columbia and has made it a better place.
The last year and a half have been equally as fulfilling. After the all-consuming responsibilities of the various Cabinet posts, it was great to have time to be proactive on public policy issues that someone needed to champion. One example is the policies and practices around access to health data by responsible researchers and I was pleased to play a role in bringing that issue to the forefront of policy discussions.
As a member of the BC Liberal team, I am also proud of what has been accomplished under the leadership of Premier Christy Clark. During this time, B.C. has been a leader in Canada in job creation and on the economic development agenda. This includes the massive LNG expansion, which is a blueprint for even more jobs to be created in the future.
As I think back over the past decade, there are many accomplishments of this government that I am proud to have been a part of:
Ministry of Health:
- The 2002 reorganization of Health Authorities has led to cumulative savings in administration costs that are now in the billions of dollars.
- Introduction of the Fair Pharmacare program meant that thousands of lower income families would pay less out of pocket for their needed medications.
- A shift to more prevention, including the Chronic Disease Management Program that has been copied across Canada. The result has been better health which, in turn, results in lower cost.
Ministry of Economic Development:
- In 2005, we launched the Asia Pacific Initiative which saw new B.C. Trade and Investment Offices opened in key Asian cities. That Initiative is now a big part of the economic success our province is having in Asia.
- In 2005, we signed the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) with Alberta which broke down most of the interprovincial trade barriers between our two provinces. Subsequently, this has led to Saskatchewan joining under the New West Partnership.
- In 2008, British Columbia led the national efforts that resulted in all provinces and territories agreeing to full interprovincial labour mobility.
- Between 2005 and 2008 we faced the most challenging years in building for the success of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Programs were put in place to ensure that B.C. got the maximum benefit from hosting the Games.
Ministry of Finance:
- Over the past decade, B.C. earned a Triple-A credit rating and, just as importantly, from 2008 onward during incredibly difficult economic times, our province has been able to maintain this top standard.
- Total cumulated taxes paid by families are now the second lowest of any province (second only to Alberta) and personal income tax is now the lowest of all provinces for incomes up to $120,000.
- Despite the world economic challenges, the budgets for education and health care are now significantly higher than a decade ago.
With regards to the HST issue, we did not do an adequate job in how decisions were made and how they were implemented and, as the Minister of Finance at the time, I take the responsibility for that.
Many became convinced that we had planned the HST from before the election and that we had explicitly promised during the election that it would not be introduced. Neither of these perceptions is true and I accept responsibility for not being able to correct the public perception.
In the months between now and the May election, I will do everything I can to ensure the re-election of Christy Clark and the BC Liberal team. I have agreed to take on the role of Deputy Campaign Chair for the BC Liberal campaign and I am looking forward to special responsibilities working with the very talented new candidates that are being nominated throughout the province.
I will also continue to serve the constituents of Vancouver-Quilchena from now until the election. It has been an honour to serve as their MLA and I am sure they will be well served by whoever they elect to succeed me.
I am grateful to the many individuals who have helped me and supported me over these years. Without them, I would not have been able to accomplish anything.
Colin Hansen, MLA