McIntyre appointed to cabinet 

West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA to take on intergovernmental relations

The Sea to Sky corridor’s representative in Victoria is celebrating her first appointment to the provincial cabinet.

Joan McIntyre, the MLA for West Vancouver-Garibaldi, was appointed Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations on June 23 as Premier Gordon Campbell shuffled his cabinet in preparation for the next provincial election on May 12, 2009.

“It’s a thrill and very exciting, but at the same time very humbling,” she said in an interview on June 24.

McIntyre was first elected to the legislature in 2005, when the Liberals took a second majority government. Before her time in politics she co-founded the polling firm McIntyre and Mustel Research Associates Ltd, which does marketing and public opinion research. McIntyre sold her stake in the firm in 1996, and it now operates solely as Mustel Group and does research for the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

After leaving the firm, McIntyre was a strong pusher for the 2010 Olympic bid. In 2002 she was appointed to a communications advisory committee for the bid and was in Prague for the winning announcement.

Now taking on her first cabinet duty, she’ll be in charge of a department that oversees relations with federal and provincial governments. One of her goals is to find “common ground” with other governments to help “advance our common causes and agenda.”

One of the areas she expects to tackle is the U.S.-Canada border.

“The premier’s been working very hard to keep the border secure, but also to keep it open to trade and travel,” she said. “So it’s very important, and certainly for the (Sea to Sky) corridor, our tourism is affected very much by the border.”

Beyond the border, it will be her job to “further and build” a relationship with the federal government, a relationship with billions of dollars at stake.

“It’s important that we have a positive relationship with Ottawa,” McIntyre said. “When you build those relationships, have those common grounds, it can’t help but benefit the general populace.”

Federal relations with B.C. became strained in 2007 when that year’s federal budget came out with a so-called “equalization program” that aimed to fix what the government called a “fiscal imbalance” among the provinces.

The equalization program was intended to provide poorer provinces with federal funds that would allow them to have “public services” that were comparable to those in other provinces, according to the Department of Finance. The program sent more than $7 billion to Quebec, bringing its total federal transfer payments to more than $18 billion in the 2007-08 fiscal year.

British Columbia, meanwhile, got no equalization payments, and received less than $7 billion in total transfer payments during that period.

Asked how she plans to deal with issues such as transfer payments, McIntyre said: “I guess the same thing, by building positive relationships, it helps to deal with the thornier sides.”

McIntyre said she was chosen for the position because her experience as an MLA makes her a good fit.

Outside cabinet she has served in numerous capacities, notably as a delegate to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER), a regional planning organization with representatives from governments in Alaska, Washington and Alberta, among other places. She has also sat as co-chair of PNWER’s environment working group.

She has also served on numerous bodies including the Treasury Board, the Cabinet Committee on Climate Action and as vice-chair of the Government Caucus Committee on Social Development.

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