Local MLA Pat Pimm was one of only two men in the room, an idea Premier Clark says came from her visits to Asia when she realized the only women at the events she attended were servers.
“I realized that the nature of this job is such, that if I don’t spend time trying to meet with women, I spend a lot of time meeting with men,” she says. “I realized half of the population isn’t well represented in being able to speak to the premier.”
She also says in her experience, that although women don’t necessarily have different concerns from men, but they come at them from a different perspective and they speak differently when it’s just women in the room. In addition to acknowledging how northeast B.C. is driving the province’s economy, she also emphasized how important family is, telling a story about her mother when she was sick with cancer.
“I learned that there are all those things that families do for each other, that the government can never do,” she says. “When your son or daughter comes home from school and they’ve been bullied, and they need somebody to love them and open their arms for them, the government will not do that for you; you do that, and that’s the importance of family.”
She argues that instead, the government needs to support families by making sure the economy is growing and strong and people have jobs so they can look after their loved ones.
Following her speech, Premier Clark opened up the floor to questions from the women. The questions spanned a variety of topics, but the common thread throughout was how our community can benefit from and stay safe during natural resources development. One woman suggested using the potential riches from liquefied natural gas to fund better education and arts programming, while another suggested that women are wary from moving up north because of the potential dangers of a community with so many transient workers.
“When we think about rich,” answered Clark, “When I talk about $2 billion going into the provincial treasury, what I mean is, $2 billion going in to make sure that we have access to the best education system in the world, that we maintain the best healthcare system in the world when a third of the people in this room are going to be in wheelchairs. That’s what rich is.”
She explains that comes from a balance of growing the economy, and protecting the things we love at the same time.
Clark later visited Fort St. John’s Northern Lights College to announce new skills training equipment, as although she boasts that B.C. has the best environmental standards for the extraction of natural gas, “that does not mean that we can’t be even better than we already are.”