De Jong Delivers…Leadership

ABBOTSFORD – Re-energising B.C.’s free-enterprise coalition will be job-one for the next leader of the BC Liberal Party. In declaring his candidacy today, Abbotsford-West MLA Michael de Jong emphasised the importance of the task ahead.

“By bringing together an expanded and diverse team of new supporters, we can develop an exciting vision for our province’s future that builds upon our record of having established B.C. as Canada’s leading economy,” de Jong said.

“It starts with responsible fiscal management and free-enterprise values, to lead a competitive economy that lets British Columbians thrive. Only by securing that sound fiscal basis can we lay the foundation for a strong society: to ensure every child has the opportunity for an education, every person has the dignity of a home, and all people can gain the tools for their independence and success,” de Jong said.

De Jong’s support includes current and former caucus members, as well as party members and private British Columbians concerned about the direction the NDP government is taking since it took power.

“I have seen the high value Mike de Jong places on diversity, and he will stand to lead with free-market values that emphasize openness to the world and the knowledge that B.C. can be proud of its people and ideas, energy and resources,” said Teresa Wat, MLA Richmond North Centre. “His accomplishments as a minister, his strong ties to communities, and his passion for a prosperous and successful British Columbia make him a leader who can draw on our province’s diversity to strike a bold vision for a prosperous future.”

Chilliwack MLA John Martin and Abbotsford-Mission MLA Simon Gibson have also confirmed their support for de Jong as BC Liberal leader.

“Mike offers pragmatic leadership that is ready both for today—as we stand up to the NDP government—and for tomorrow, when we offer B.C. voters a compelling alternative that delivers for hardworking British Columbians,” Martin said.

“I have worked closely with Mike both locally and in government, and I’ve seen the commitment and strength he offers both to the people of the community, and the people of the province,” Gibson said. “I have no doubt de Jong will deliver strong leadership today, and a vision for our province’s future that will attract growing support.”

The NDP have already begun to dismantle the building blocks of B.C.’s economic success by raising taxes and chasing away jobs and investment. Limiting the damage they inflict will require an opposition leader with strength and experience who can hold John Horgan to account.

“Mike de Jong has the leadership qualities to invigorate current supporters and attract new ones, and he is the best person to forge an opposition team that will stand up to John Horgan’s government on behalf of hard-working, taxpaying British Columbians,” said Pat Bell, former-MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie and former minister. “He is a leader with the strength and ability to stand up to the say-anything, spend-anything NDP—a government determined to dismantle the formula for success that made B.C.’s economy the strongest in Canada.”

“I am humbled and gratified by the support I’ve received from caucus colleagues, members, and people from across the province urging me to consider seeking the leadership,” de Jong said. “British Columbia wins when we have a strong team that values the diversity of our province and wants to work hard for the people in our province. I look forward to a conversation with British Columbians, so that together we can build a team that reflects the values of British Columbians and can help people achieve their aspirations.”

Michael de Jong was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in 1994, and most recently served in government as Minister of Finance (2012-2017). As finance minister he introduced five consecutive balanced budgets, the only province to do so following the global economic recession, and protected B.C.’s triple-A credit rating—the only province to retain triple-As with all three major international credit rating agencies.

Since 2001, he has served as Minister of Health, Attorney General, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Minister of Labour and Citizens' Services, and Minister of Forests. In addition, he also served as Government House Leader.

The BC Liberal party will hold a leadership convention to announce the new leader on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018.

 

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Editors: Biography and backgrounder follows.


 

Biography – Michael de Jong, QC – MLA Abbotsford West

Michael de Jong was re-elected in 2017 as the MLA for Abbotsford West, an area he has represented since first being elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in a 1994 by-election.

The seven-term MLA has served as Minister of Finance, Minister of Health, Attorney General, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Minister of Labour and Citizens' Services, and Minister of Forests. In addition, he also served as Government House Leader.

He has chaired the Treasury Board and the Legislative Review Committee, and was a member of the Cabinet Working Group on Labour, the Priorities and Planning Committee, and the Cabinet Working Group on Core Review.

Before his election as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in 1994, de Jong served two terms as the youngest elected school trustee for Abbotsford School District 34, and was a practising lawyer with his own Abbotsford firm. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton University in Ottawa and a law degree from the University of Alberta.

De Jong has also been involved with the Abbotsford-Matsqui Arts Council, the Matsqui Youth Commission and holds the rank of Captain in the Canadian Armed Forces Air Force Reserve.

Still an avid hockey player, in his teen years Michael was a member of the Abbotsford Pilots Junior B hockey team. He attended Mouat Secondary School and still lives on the Matsqui Prairie farm where he grew up.

 

Backgrounder

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Good fiscal management

  • Delivered five consecutive balanced budgets (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017).
  • Maintained BC’s triple-A credit rating through the global recession – B.C. is rated triple-A by the three international credit rating agencies—Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fisk.
  • Ensured BC’s balanced budgets paid down government’s direct operating debt, reducing it from more than $10.2 billion in 2013-14 (after the world-wide financial collapse) to a projected elimination in 2019-20.
  • Reduced the taxpayer-supported debt to GDP ratio from 18.2% in 2013-14 to 15.8% in 2017. Within two months, the new government’s debt-to-GDP ratio jumped back up to 16.4%.
  • Between 2005-08, government spending grew at about 6% per year. In Mike’s budgets: spending grew at an annual average of 3%. Yet within that modest growth, government was still investing growing and record amounts in K-12 education, health care, post-secondary schools, and the infrastructure we need to deliver services to our communities.
  • Established the commission on tax competitiveness that proposed new ways to make our economy more productive and support good jobs.

 

Supports for families, communities, and businesses

  • Established the B.C. Early Childhood Tax Benefit, which provides 80,000 B.C. families up to $660 a year for each child under the age of six, to build on other federal and provincial programs that help with the cost of child care.
  • Established the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant, which contributes $1,200 to RESPs for B.C. children born in 2006 or later to help more parents and families save early for their child’s education.
  • Negotiated a balanced approach to Canada Pension Plan changes to sustain future retirement income of Canadian workers, while remaining affordable for businesses.
  • Established a new tax structure for the LNG industry to ensure that the people of British Columbia would benefit from these large private sector investments by establishing a stable, competitive regime to attract the new industry.
  • Supported the B.C. aerospace industry to develop a more unified aerospace industry cluster in B.C., helping attract investment and integrated contract sourcing from aerospace global firms, and supporting innovative, skilled jobs.
  • Concluded the first modern treaty under the B.C. treaty process with the Tsawwassen First Nation.

  

Better government, transparency, and accountability

  • In 2013 as health minister, established B.C.’s First Nations Health Authority — the first provincewide health authority of its kind in Canada. The First Nations health governing structure works in partnership with B.C. First Nations to improve the health and well-being of First Nations and Aboriginal people in British Columbia.
  • Overhauled the province’s freedom of information system to improve transparency and disclosure. Government now routinely releases ministers’ calendars and travel receipts, contract summaries, direct award contracts, and more.
  • Established tough new rules to control the pay, perks, and benefits of public sector CEOs and senior executives. These rules eliminated bonuses, stopped pay increases, and ensured that new executives would earn at least 10% less than the people they replaced.
  • Improved data collection in real estate transactions to help make more informed decisions.
  • Established and funded a new joint policing unit to target money laundering and illegal gaming in BC.
  • Introduced the innovative “Economic Stability Dividend” for public sector labour contracts, ensuring that public sector workers would benefit from faster than expected economic growth.
    • 310,000 unionized provincial public-sector employees covered by agreements settled under government’s Economic Stability Mandate received additional pay increases of 0.8%, in addition to the 5.5% general wage increases negotiated as part of the mandate.
    • Under the mandate that established this dividend, 178 agreements covering almost 310,000 employees were been ratified under the B.C. Liberal Government.