Liberals should release trade mission targets and results

VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberals need to release the detailed objectives of their planned trade missions this fall, say New Democrats.

In the legislature, International Trade Minister Teresa Wat noted that $750,000 had been allocated for a trade mission to Asia in the fall – a marked increase from the $614,000 spent on the 2011 mission to China and India. Wat also told reporters last weekend that she planned to lead another trade delegation to China before the end of the year.

“At a time of alleged restraint, we are seeing a dramatic increase in the budget for this fall’s trade mission, and the minister has yet to give British Columbians any details on where exactly these trade missions will be going, and what they are hoping to accomplish once they get there,” said New Democrat international trade critic Bruce Ralston. “The Liberal government is spending hundreds of thousands of public dollars without telling the public exactly what they’re doing.”

Ralston is calling on the government to commit to releasing detailed information about the objectives and results of the planned trips, noting that the public never did receive a full account of the measurable results of the 2011 trade mission.

“Asia is a critically important trading partner with British Columbia, but there are many ways to promote international trade. Trade missions are only one, and to be successful, they should be based on measurable targets – and those plans should be made available to the public,” said Ralston.

“This is a time when the government is making uncaring cuts to critical mental health services, and even burdening seniors with a wheelchair tax. At a time like this, it is only responsible to look critically at all spending decisions, particularly trade missions that come with a steep price tag.”

As a strong and principled opposition, New Democrats will continue to fight for accountability from the B.C. Liberal government.