By: Elliott Smith
Washington State has a new Governor. Jay Inslee was sworn in in Olympia on 17 Jan 2013. What can British Columbia expect from the new governor, and what does it mean for the BC/Washington relationship and cross-border trade?
Inslee has called for a partnership between BC Ferries and Washington State Ferries (WSF). In a campaign policy brief, Inslee said “WSF can also improve coordination with our nearest neighboring fleet, BC Ferries. With the right leadership, BC Ferries and WSF could develop a relationship that shares best practices, as well as explores ways to take joint responsibility over shared boats or runs to drive down costs.” How exactly this partnership might play out remains to be seen, but the idea of sharing information across the Salish Sea and helping to reduce costs is promising.
Prior to being elected Governor, Inslee served in Congress from 1993-1995 and again from 1999-2012. Inslee’s congressional record has very little to say about how he might interact with Canada.
One of the few times Jay Inslee went on record as a congressman in relation to Canada was in 1993 raising concerns about trade implications related to Canadian wheat imports. This decades-old issue is unlikely to have significant ramifications on his gubernatorial role or stance towards BC and trade with Canada.
Inslee voted in favor of the Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2006, strengthening penalties for those caught building smuggling tunnels across the border. As far-fetched as the idea sounds, don’t forget the famous 2005 incident when authorities caught a trio of Surrey, BC residents attempting to build a drug-smuggling tunnel just east of the Lynden/Aldergrove Border Crossing. While an interesting footnote in cross-border history, this is also unlikely to have relevance in his role as Governor.
Inslee campaigned on a pro-trade platform, saying that if elected he would “Prioritize infrastructure improvements and freight mobility projects that expedite commerce and trade throughout the state, through our ports and beyond, over the long-term.”
Inslee’s campaign also vowed to create a new office focused on trade, saying the new Governor would “Establish a new Economic Competitiveness and Development Office to provide economic development and trade execution”
Governor’s Statement on BC/WA Relations:
Trade Tips Blog reached out to Governor Inslee’s office for comment on BC/WA relations and received this statement:
“Governor Inslee recognizes the importance and value of the historic relationship between Washington State and British Columbia and the role it plays in the larger relationship between the United States and Canada. He is committed to working on mutually beneficial policies and strengthening our ties to B.C. We will soon reach out to the Premier’s office to talk about how best to do that.”
In conclusion, it remains to be seen what exactly the new Governor of Washington State will mean for British Columbia and BC/Washington trade, but there are positive signs. While his record in Congress tells us little about his inclination towards Canada, Governor Inslee has called for cooperation between the state and provincial ferry systems, an innovative idea that could produce synergy, and his general inclination appears to be pro-trade. Trade Tips Blog will continue to monitor the Inslee Administration’s statements and actions as they relate to BC/Washington relations and trade and post future updates as developments occur.