Reason over emotion: Resource Works marks five years of fact-based activism – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – March 20, 2019)

One sign of encouragement for British Columbia’s embattled resource industries came in the province’s February throne speech, when the New Democratic Party government declared that B.C.’s “traditional industries—forestry and mining, oil and gas, fisheries and farming, and renewable electricity—power our economy and form the bedrock of our communities.”

Many saw the statement as a long-overdue acknowledgment, but Stewart Muir also sensed evidence of his organization’s success. “A few years ago people weren’t saying that,” the executive director of Resource Works points out. “People were saying, ‘We want a tech economy, we want to get Facebook and Microsoft jobs, because that’s our future.’”

If public awareness has shifted, he and his group can take considerable credit. As Muir looks back on five years of activity, he can contrast then and now. The genesis was actually 2013, when a provincial election campaign seemingly made an NDP government certain.

That brought fears of another “dismal decade” like the NDP administration of 1991 to 2001, when B.C.’s economy sank despite robust performance in other parts of Canada. A group of people connected with resources looked for ways to express their industries’ message in the face of the official indifference, if not outright hostility, that they anticipated.

They recruited Muir, a journalist and historian who was then-director of The Nature Trust of British Columbia, and put together a board and advisory council. Resource Works formally began operations in April 2014 with the publication of its first economic study. The NDP victory, surprisingly, didn’t happen until May 2017. And that was a minority government propped up by the Greens. Nevertheless the last throne speech clearly sounded a positive note, much to Muir’s delight and the industries’ relief.

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