Today, BC Green Party interim leader Adam Olsen addressed the delegates at the 2015 Union of BC Municipalities Convention in Vancouver. Here is what he had to say:
It is with a sense of pride and accomplishment that I stand here today as the Interim-Leader of the B.C. Green Party. This will be my last speech to you in this role. This time next year I will be here but I will be gearing up for the 2017 general election.
I would like to thank everyone at the Union of B.C. Municipalities for providing this opportunity for the B.C. Greens to connect with you, to share a message of gratitude to you for the work that you do on behalf of our communities.
Before I go much further I must acknowledge that we gather today on the unceded territory of my Coast Salish relatives, Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish.
It is important to acknowledge some of the many success stories from all across our province. Whether it is Mayor Windsor & Councillors of Central Saanich in WSANEC, Mayor Brain & Councillors of Prince Rupert at the centre of five First Nations territories or Mayor MacDougall and Councillors of Fort St. James, our collective challenges and opportunities today are more complex than they were yesterday.
Local government is the most important level of government to build enduring, resilient relationships with First Nations. As a kid who grew up on WJOLELP in WSANEC who went on sit as one of your colleagues in Central Saanich, the relationship you have with the provincial government is similar to the relationship First Nations Councils have with the federal government.
I heard many stories this week of community leaders who have taken responsibility for these relationships to the benefit of us all. They are your strongest allies, and also your biggest competitors and only in coming together for the shared benefit of our communities can we all prosper.
I encourage you to create legacy relationships that continue long after your service to your community. View them not as a drain on municipal resources but instead your most important investment. Connect your CAO with the First Nation administrator, connect your director of finance, public works, planning development offices with their First Nations counterparts.
The B.C. Green Party is committed to learning from and reconciling our past, in order to build a province that will be leaders in the 21st century. We will be your partner and we will work with you to do what is required, and to build strong, resilient relationships along all our borders.
For too many years only two parties have been represented in the BC Legislature, and we can see what the cost of that has been. Decision making has become highly polarized. The B.C. Greens are proud to provide you and your communities another channel into the provincial policy making and we are here to listen to your opportunities and challenges and to work with you to move them forward.
There are a lot assumptions made about the B.C. Green Party. I want to dispel one today. We support resource development in our districts, villages, towns and cities. Our natural resources are the lifeblood of many of our communities. I think the current government has forgotten one important thing. They are OUR natural resources. My colleagues and I have been listening hard for the last couple days. What we have heard is that we are not doing enough to ensure that the value for these resources stay in the communities they come from. We must stop hollowing out our province and start investing in it.
The B.C. Green Party values your contribution to our great province and we will continue to work with you to ensure that we look after our natural resources to ensure that British Columbians reap the benefits of our labour.
We are now 15 years into the 21st century and we are falling behind. British Columbia should be leaders in North America and the world. While we will never abandon our resource economy, we will never put our province into a situation where we have sacrificed negotiating position for the sake of political promises, such as the current government has done with LNG.
We have an incredible opportunity to diversify our economy. Nowhere else in the world has access to water, fibre and renewable energy like we do! Our businesses have access to an educated workforce and there is no better place in the world to live than British Columbia.
Our provincial government needs to do a far better job of helping communities develop resilient local economies, that don’t rise and fall on the price of a single resource. We need to be innovative and seek out partnerships that ensure that our communities are the first to benefit from our natural resources.
We believe we must empower local governments through sharing financial resources. Too much responsibility is being downloaded without the adequate resources to support solutions. We are committed to solving problems that actually exist and move away from the tired narrative of left vs. right. If you are interested in building a strong, balanced voice for British Columbians, I invite you to get to know the B.C. Green Party.