Fiscal responsibility was a core value of Clark’s government. As Premier, Clark set out a plan for the province that included hard goals and deadlines for each Ministry. She monitored progress and demanded regular reporting to Cabinet and Committees she chaired. She held her government accountable and earned a well-deserved reputation as a consensus builder both within the Cabinet and outside it. A tireless and critical thinker, Clark evaluated opportunities and mitigated risks throughout her tenure. In her first year in office, she managed a $1.2B deficit, originally inherited from the previous government. She was relentless in her bold vision for growth by reducing government spending to the lowest rate per capita in Canada while maintaining the best health and education outcomes in the country. When Clark sought re-election in 2017, she was the only Premier in the country to be able to boast five balanced budgets in a row. BIV: Christy Clark is Canada’s best fiscal manager, according to Fraser Institute
BC JOBS PLAN
Job creation and employment opportunities became a central focus of Clark’s government, through the BC Jobs Plan. Careful economic analysis revealed opportunities and barriers to growth in eight critical areas including: Forestry, Mining, Oil and Gas, International Education, Technology, Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Tourism. Clark offered robust solutions for each of these sectors, such as training and employment programs, apprenticeships, and incentives. Her plan also tackled red-tape, permitting, and skill-shortages. Underpinned by a sharp focus on disciplined fiscal management, historically large investments in infrastructure, and a single-minded effort to open new markets for BC goods in Asia, Clark is credited for having taken BC’s jobs growth from ninth in the country to first.
FIRST NATIONS RECONCILIATION
With a deep commitment to reconcile with First Nations throughout the province, Clark’s government delivered on many of its commitments. Her government successfully negotiated over 500 agreements with Indigenous communities throughout BC, including revenue sharing, LNG resource benefit, and reconciliation agreements. She sought to take bold steps by partnering with First Nations on many resource projects. In particular, she proactively partnered with each of the First Nations communities hosting LNG projects. Clark’s government successfully negotiated 63 deals related to LNG, worth over $150 million, benefiting more than 30 Indigenous communities.
British Columbia possesses some of the world’s richest unconventional gas resources in the world. In keeping with her ambitious plans to attract new markets for BC’s natural resources, Clark set out to create a new opportunity for liquefied natural gas (LNG). Clark’s government carefully built meaningful relationships with all of the players needed to make significant economic progress for the province, including industry, other levels of government, First Nations, environmental groups and regulatory bodies. Using her BC Jobs Plan, she mobilized a workforce preparation strategy, which received strong support from industry and the business community. Following numerous foreign trade missions, Clark’s government attracted billions in foreign direct investment.
Clark retired from political life in 2017 as the longest serving female Premier in Canadian history and the only woman in Canada ever to be re-elected. Clark is the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards, most notably the YWCA Women of Distinction Award, in recognition of her work in the anti-bullying movement. In November, 2018 she was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN). She has also been inducted into the WXN Hall of Fame.
Through incentives and tax credits, Clark’s government grew BC’s tech sector overall by 16%. While in office BC’s tech sector went from 5% to 7% of the province’s overall GDP. The flow of venture capital into the province grew from $226M to over $420M during her tenure. Clark successfully recruited and retained tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, SAP, Facebook and Alibaba, all establishing major operations in BC’s Lower Mainland. Amazon most recently established a central headquarters in downtown Vancouver with over 3000 new jobs. Similarly, Sony Imageworks Studios, one of Hollywood’s key visual effects and animation studios, moved most of their operation to Vancouver to support BC’s growing film and television industries. Under Clark’s leadership, BC was the first province in Canada to require that every student be literate in coding, (starting as early as grade 6) by the time they graduated from high school.
Throughout her time in office, Clark led a total of 7 international trade missions, entrenching BC as one of North America’s crucial gateways to the Asian market. Clark led trade missions to China, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. These missions attracted global talent and companies, and resulted in billions of investment in infrastructure and resource projects. At the time of her departure from government, BC’s trade with China had grown by 27.7% to $6.1B, and BC’s dependence on the US market, (50%) was reduced to the lowest level in Canada, well below the average dependency (75%-92%) of all other Canadian provinces.
Being passionate about families, Clark understood they need a break to unwind and spend time together. This is why one of her first actions as Premier of British Columbia was to create a statutory holiday for residents. Going 111 days from New Year’s to Easter without a break was unacceptable and on (date) she made it a provincial statutory holiday. To date this was one of the largest and most comprehensive engagement processes in BC’s history – over 30,000 British Columbians voted to choose the date on which Family Day would be held every year. Under Clark’s leadership, BC was the first province in Canada to require that every student be literate in coding, (starting as early as grade 6) by the time they graduated from high school.
GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST
Clark’s government was recognized by the Queen’s Canopy Initiative for the landmark agreement to protect the Great Bear Rainforest – an area the size of Ireland. This agreement protected the Great Bear Rainforest, a UNESCO heritage site, from becoming a largely industrial logging site.
PINK SHIRT DAY
While hosting her 980AM CKNW program, Clark was inspired by two young students from Nova Scotia who stood up for a fellow student. The student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Clark brought the Pink Shirt Day campaign to British Columbia first through her radio program, raising awareness for BC’s anti-bullying campaign, the work and school environments safer for children and adults. Clark used her passion and commitment to eradicate bullying in her community part of political agenda. As premier she established the anti-bullying platform“Pink Shirt Day,” which encourage students, individuals and private business to wear pink to support the campaign to end bullying. Throughout the province of BC and the rest of the world, the cause has helped to raise money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of BC and other similar non-profits around the world.
SINGLE PARENT EMPLOYMENT INITIATIVE
Clark introduced and championed a unique program to B.C., the Single Parent Employment Initiative. It was the first of its kind, a government-funded program in Canada designed to reduce barriers to employment for single parents living on income assistance. The program helped to close the province’s poverty gap, provide education and training opportunities, and assist single parents in establishing a better livelihood for themselves and their children. Through training and employment programs, single-parents were able to learn new skills, apply for better paying jobs, with some ultimately escaping generational poverty and income assistance entirely. The program remains unique in Canada.