BCBusiness Report Card: GDP slows, drones and Vancouver Granville heat up

We assess how different people/things and, of course, businesses fared this week.

Credit: City of Victoria Fire Department via InDro Robotics

Drone photo of a fire in Victoria

We assess how different people/things and, of course, businesses fared this week

We’re almost two months away from the 2019 federal election in Canada and—not sure if you noticed—the first major blow was dealt in what is sure to be a particularly nasty election campaign.

Canada’s ethics commissioner, Mario Dion, found that Trudeau violated ethics rules when he tried to pressure former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to drop criminal charges against Quebec infrastructure giant SNC-Lavalin.

Trudeau said he wouldn’t apologize for “standing up for jobs,” but it’s quite clear that this is just the start of the nastiness. And while you’re likely going to be up to your elbows in election coverage over the next two months, we can’t wait.

We gave you a bit of a reprieve here, only dedicating one slot to the upcoming contest. But—fair warning—that’s probably going to change soon.

Here’s what made the grade this week (and what didn’t).

Being stubborn

Grade: A

The provincial government stuck to its ride-hailing legislation guns and, as a result, appears to have bent the will of at least one high-profile company.

Lyft announced plans to launch in Vancouver when ride-hailing services officially become legal later this year. The company’s main competitor in the space, Uber, has so far been silent about the issue.

Of course, though Lyft is going along with the plan, it’s making clear that it doesn’t agree with the province’s decision to require that ride-hailing drivers carry Class 4 licences.

“Ninety-one per cent of the drivers on our platform drive less than 20 hours a week. These are people like single moms, students in school and people trying to supplement their incomes. As soon as you introduce that Class 4 commercial licence, these people tend not to apply for that type of work,” managing director of Lyft in Canada Aaron Zifkin said in a statement.

This story obviously isn’t over. But, for now, it appears that the provincial government steadfastly refusing to change its mind has reaped some benefits.


Grade: B+

Time to talk about something less divisive.

Just kidding!

A recent report from Saltspring Island-based drone technology leader InDro Robotics found that the devices have been “invaluable” in aiding the efforts of the Victoria Fire Department.

Granted, there’s clearly a fair amount of back-patting here, but consider this quote from Victoria FD deputy chief Daniel Atkinson:

“It allowed us to have a higher level of confidence in the decisions we were making. There was a sense of clarity there, because we knew whether or not our tactics were being effective. 

Clearly, there is a purpose for drones above and beyond being creepy or filming cool sequences in movies and TV. Who knew?

GDP growth

Grade: C

Vancouver-based credit union and financial research firm Central 1 reported that real GDP growth for B.C. is down to 2.2 percent from 2.4—the slowest pace since 2015.

Central 1 chalks that up to a few factors, including “trade deterioration, retrenchment in the forestry sector, and reduced consumer spending.”

The report also notes that the province’s very low unemployment rate has some similarities to levels prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

Worksafe BC

Grade: C–

On Wednesday, 46 business organizations (including the BC Chamber of Commerce) announced that they were ceasing participation in the formal government review process of the Workers’ Compensation System.

The organizations expressed discontent with the “scope, transparency and impartiality of the process.”

In a word: yikes.

It doesn’t bode well for the sometimes strained relationship the NDP government has had with the business community in the province, and it’ll be interesting to see if Premier John Horgan or Labour Minister Harry Bains respond to this in any way, shape or form.

Credit: Nathan Caddell

Jody Wilson-Raybould will be hard to unseat in Vancouver Granville

Non-Jody Wilson-Raybould candidates in Vancouver Granville

Grade: D

Sorry, tech entrepreneur Taleeb Noormohamed. Tough luck, Dunbar Theatre owner Ken Charko. Thanks for coming out, Yvonne Hanson!

Independents are almost always in tough, sure. But everyone loves an underdog. And everyone especially loves an underdog that fights for what they believe in their hearts is right. 

As a sitting Independent in the House of Commons without a corrupt bone in her body, Jody Wilson-Raybould has a resumé that’ll be real hard for any contender to come after (even with the backing of a large party).

Good luck, kids. But it’s Jody Wilson-Raybould’s race to lose. And who’s betting against her at this point?

Got something that needs to be graded? Email ncaddell@canadawide.com