Skimpy appetizers for B.C. jobs plan

Premier Christy Clark paid a short visit to Kamloops on Tuesday to talk about her plan for "creating and defending jobs" in B.C. There actually wasn't much to talk about, since she's withholding full details of the plan until Thursday when she'll hold another announcement event in Vancouver.

Presumably, this drum-roll approach to announcements is designed to spin out the story for as many days as possible and garner as much media hype as she can get.

The premier began the week in Prince Rupert, where she said in a speech that "Defending and creating jobs is the primary mission of my government."

She used the line again, several times, here in Kamloops, so we can take from that it will now take the place of her "families first" mantra introduced during her run-up to the leadership of the B.C. Liberal party.

Yesterday's continuation of the jobs road show was set at Thompson Rivers University in front of a few dozen community leaders and academics, but there wasn't much meat in the sandwich.

Clark offered praise to TRU World, the university arm responsible for negotiating contracts with overseas schools and recruiting students and teachers from foreign countries to come to Kamloops. And she said it was a model that should be used across the province.

She promised $21 million for skills training but when asked who would get the money she replied, "I imagine some ends up at this university, particularly because this university is so nimble."

That's not exactly money in the pocket for this community, so the whole thing was high on style and low on substance. And the prospect of other educational institutions being encouraged or even financed into the competitive world of foreign-student recruitment isn't likely to be great news for TRU, which got in early and has been a leader in corralling a market that helps subsidize B.C. students.

However, one can't fault Clark's enthusiasm in the face of what could be challenging times for the provincial economy. She intends to do a lot of selling across the ocean on behalf of B.C. businesses, and that can't hurt, especially since many southeast Asian business people put a lot of stock in personal connections made with politicians.

But let's hope the real plan - called Canada Starts Here: The B.C. Jobs Plan - has a lot more going for it than the rather skimpy appetizers the premier has been dishing out so far this week.

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