There’s nothing like inching along in the Colwood Crawl to give a Mainland politician a new perspective on traffic on the West Shore.
Last week while on the campaign trail, B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Mike de Jong had a pit stop in Langford and admitted he has a new appreciation for transportation issues in Greater Victoria.
De Jong gave less overt promises than his colleague, rival and former transportation minister Kevin Falcon on finding solutions to ease traffic congestion between the West Shore and Victoria.
“Growth happens here so quickly. Being stuck in the crawl is the best way to appreciate the problem,” de Jong said after giving a talk to the West Shore Developers Association. “This is a good thing though. A leadership campaign gives individual candidates and government a chance to reengage with communities.”
De Jong admitted that over the past decade, the B.C. Liberal government has become detached and arrogant in its approach to devising policy.
“I think you always have to be on guard of slipping from leadership to arrogance,” he said. “This exercise is about giving people a chance to say what is important to them. When you stop doing that, you are in trouble.”
Despite strong NDP support in the Juan de Fuca riding, de Jong said he holds up Langford as a model for other communities across the province. Encouraging development and private enterprise to help fund public amenities is what is needed in B.C., he said.
“What this community has done is tremendous. When I travel the province I talk about what happens here,” he said. “The community has sound leadership and fiscal management and tax reductions. That’s no accident. The people have the vision to plan ahead and invest.”
On the harmonized sales tax, de Jong said the government “screwed up” how the controversial tax was rolled out to the public and that as a senior member of cabinet, he shares responsibility.
Speaking to B.C. Liberal supporters, de Jong said people also need to focus on positive aspects of government policy, such as low business taxes and a healthy investment climate.
“We’ve got to renew ourselves as a government that believes in a strong private sector and responsible fiscal management.”