Below the Radar Transcript

Episode 236: Glen Clark: Main Street vs. Howe Street — with Glen Clark

Speakers: Samantha Walters, Am Johal, Glen Clark

[theme music]

Samantha Walters  0:04 
Hello listeners! I’m Sam with Below the Radar, a knowledge democracy podcast. Below the Radar is recorded on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.  On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal is joined by Glen Clark, who was formerly premier of British Columbia, as well as president and chief operating officer of the Jim Pattison Group in Vancouver. Glen discusses his political career, from his time in labour movements to the legislative assembly, and further on to how he exited politics and got into working with corporate titan Jim Pattison . Enjoy the episode! .

Am Johal  0:46 
Hello, welcome to Below the Radar, delighted that you could join us again this week. We have a very special guest here right in our 312 Main studios. We have Glen Clark, welcome, Glen. 

Glen Clark  0:57 
Great, thanks. Nice to be here.

Am Johal  0:58 
Well, why don't we start with you introducing yourself a little bit?

Glen Clark  1:02 
Well, I'm Glen Clark. I think people, some people know who I am anyway. I grew up in East Vancouver and I'm still living there. 

Am Johal  1:08 
Well, I think some people would say you've had a pretty legendary BC life, from union organizer, to premier to corporate leader and now recently... I mean, you don't seem like the retirement type. But officially, that's there. I'm wondering, I think for a number of people, our listeners, they might not have been around BC in the 90s when you were premier—

Glen Clark  1:28 
Are you saying I'm old, Am? 

Am Johal  1:29 
No, no, no, not at all. I mean, I was around. I'm old, you're not old. You're younger than Joe Biden. You're younger than Joe Biden. 

Glen Clark  1:37 
Yeah as everybody else is.

Am Johal  1:38 
Yeah, I'm wondering if we can maybe start with you, you know, before you got your entry into politics, as a young person becoming politically aware at university, how you kind of started to get interested in politics. I'm around a lot of people who are, you know, thinking about doing various types of social change work or contributing back in various ways and politics might be one stream that people go through. I'm around a lot of students at SFU and other places, but take us back to Glen as a student?

Glen Clark  2:06 
Well, first of all, my dad was a business agent for the painters union. And so I'm from Scotland, my mother's from Scotland. And so very political in terms of labour, right? Labour supporter. And so I think, as a young child, I dropped leaflets for COPE in Vancouver, which, and I also did some work for the NDP. My parents, or my dad made me. If you will. He'd agree to drop leaflets, and then I would, or the kids would do it. I have three sisters. We grew up on Renfrew Street. And so I started early on active in a political family, if you will, with a labour perspective. My father was not necessarily as much an NDP supporter as he was a labour supporter. So he would, he wasn't a big fan of the 1974 NDP government sending people back to work. And so he was more, a little bit more militant than that. And so as I went to university on my own, if you will, after sort of that indoctrination, if you will, and doing leaflets, you know, I just found that everything I learned in university reinforced the correctness of my father's view, by and large. And so, got active in the NDP, both federally in Vancouver Kingsway, and provincially in Vancouver East. And there was a bunch of us around the same age group. And we had a lot of fun. And Bob Williams was the MLA for a while and or came back to becoming the MLA. And Bob was very supportive and interesting intellectually, for those of us who are interested. So I didn't always agree with Bob, but he was provocative and interesting. And so the meetings in East Vancouver, which you don't see I think as much today, there's a lot of policy discussion, substantive policy discussion. And then we would all go for a beer after every meeting. And so we were quite a big crowd of us, actually. And that's how I got, you know, I was active in East Van. And then, when I was going University, and partly through the NDP, I got a summer job as an iron worker working in a steel fabrication shop out in Richmond. And then the union offered me a job helping to organize, so I was a union organizer for a while, while I was doing my Masters in planning, and my Masters, that's why I took five years to do my Masters, did two years of program work, two years of coursework, if you will, and then I worked as a union organizer for a couple of years. And then I finally finished my thesis and got my degree.

Am Johal  4:30 
Now, Bob's been a guest on our show. Bob's over 90 now. And wonder if you can talk a little bit about the Bob Williams of that period that you worked for. I mean, he's quite a legend in his own right.

Glen Clark  4:44 
Certainly. And, you know, well, Bob has, you know, more ideas in his pinky than I'll ever have in my lifetime probably. You know,  he just generates a lot of interesting ideas. You know, some of them I think, probably don't work. Some of them are, well, most of them are visionary in some respects, but they're always thought provoking. Here's what I really like about Bob Williams, Bob Williams came from the same part of town as me. And one of the things he sort of taught you either by example, or in reality, was that you didn't have to take a backseat to anybody. So just because you have money, just because you're a business person does not make you smarter. And I still think today, a lot of people on the left, don't really understand that concept. They think that when it comes to business, you know, oh, these business people are smarter, or when it— you know, if they've got this much money, they must be smart, at least subconsciously, they think that. And whereas Bob had that, maybe you could call it arrogance, but he had the temerity to say no, people from lower income neighborhoods are just as smart, maybe smarter than all these other people. And so that was a very big influence on people like me, because, you know, we'd come from a pretty low income background. And it's not, it's easy to be intimidated by people with money or business people or people who are viewed as successful. And the truth is, there's just no reason to be intimidated. They're not any smarter. In many cases, I can name lots of longshoremen who are a lot smarter than some captains of industry. So I think Bob really gave us that sense of confidence that we could make a difference. And it didn't matter where we started in terms of our life.

Am Johal  6:26 
When you first got elected into opposition in '86. As a relatively young person, I mean that, take us back to that time period a little bit. Bill Bennett had been in operation solidarity in '83. Expo '86 coming through, Bob Skelly was the leader of the NDP in that election, a very tight election that went back and forth. Yeah, briefly. That's right. But you got elected with a bunch of, you know, young— take Moe Sihota, Dan Miller, a bunch of people who really made it like, you guys made hay in opposition seemed like you were also having a really great time doing it.

Glen Clark  7:00 
We did have a good time doing it. Again, Bob provided a lot of leadership there. Because again, in the legislature, you need to have a strong sense of ideology, I think, to be effective in politics, right or left, right. Because some people get into politics because they want to be nice people, and they want to participate and contribute. And I don't take anything away from that. But it's such a conservative, you know, the status quo is such a powerful influence in everything, that if you really want to make change, you have to really be confident and assert your view. And your, and it helps to have a healthy dislike for those in power. And so when we were in opposition, you know, we weren't going to sit around and wait for decorum. We weren't going to sit around and wait for you know, 20 years, we weren't happy being in opposition. We wanted to beat the government, we wanted to defeat the government. And we worked extremely hard. And we were, I'd say fearless, about trying to go about doing it. And some of the older guys been in opposition for a while, older people, and they were, they were very capable people, but they're a bit more laid back than we were. We weren't, we were impatient to try to make change. So I think we had an impact in the world. Different time, you know, the media played a bigger role, I think the mainstream media. And so, you know, we catered to that in a way to try to get attention out, you know. I remember once talking to Grace McKinnis, that's going way back. I did a fourth year political economy course, I did an interview, the whole course was me just doing an interview with Grace McKinnis in her elderly years. And she said something really interesting, which was actually kind of silly. But in hindsight, I think at the time, quite perceptive. She said, too many politicians should come back to their constituency, they go to Ottawa, and then they come back all the time. And it's exhausting. She said, You make more impact getting on television, and making a difference than you will coming back and meeting with three or four people. And that sounds almost elitist, in a way. Right. But I think it was actually quite perceptive. Especially we're talking now in the, in the 60s, right, and the 70s. And so she, and so she basically said, look, use the media to get your message out, and really try hard to sort of popularize issues using popular media. And don't think because you're a community activist and just you know, you're down and fighting in the trenches, that that will change the world. It's important to do that. But if you're an elected, you really need to find a way to popularize progressive views. And so it's an unlikely source, probably to come from that inspiration, but I really think she's right. You know that you need the community activism, but to win, and again, the ultimate goal of politics is to actually win and make change. And to win, you need to convince the broader public of your progressive vision for the province, for the country. And the best way to do that is to communicate through mass media

Am Johal  10:07 
In that period in the late 80s or early 90s. And eventually Harcourt became leader and came in through the election. But that was such a strange, you know, the Bill Vander Zalm years were pretty insane in a bunch of ways even by contemporary standards, the kind of social conservatism issues around abortion that kind of came forward as well that were sort of pushed back. But since there'll be a lot of poli sci and history students listening to this and wondering if you can share anything about that, what you remember as significant around the 1991 election. Change of government a change of the guard, change in generations in a way? 

Glen Clark  10:42 
Well, actually, remember in 1991, Bill Vander Zalm had stepped down. And Bill Vander Zalm was a much better politician than I think people realize. Better in a populist way. I remember when he first got elected, just to tell you a few stories. He first got elected. There was somebody who's complaining about BC Hydro working outside their house, he was on the radio, and someone phoned in and said, look, I got this BC Hydro and they're pounding in my front street. Every day, I can't, and I'm a graveyard shift. I can't sleep. This is just a normal working class person phoning in. And he said, Okay, I'll fix that. And he did. And people said, oh, outrageous that he would intervene in BC Hydro to make life better for that one person. That doesn't make any sense. And I always thought, boy, there was kind of magic to that, right. Like he was not afraid to use power to help people. Now, you might not agree with his version of help, right? But, there's a small example. I'll give you one other example. There was a big First Nations protest in the rotunda, no— outside the legislature. A big, in those days, you know, maybe there's 200 First Nations people there, and they're chanting outside the ro— outside the legislature. And it was after hours, and the media had gone home, and they were chanting, and I went out there as an opposition member, and just stood there kind of in solidarity with them. And suddenly I saw the premier of British Columbia, Bill Vander Zalm, leave his office. By himself, no staff, and he walked all the way over. And I thought, my god, you know, people were really angry, I thought this might be a confrontation, an altercation. And he walked right into the middle of the First Nations crowd. And he said, Who's the leader here? You know, who? And they said, there's two or three people. He said, Well, why don't you come with me. And he took them into the, into his office, and they sat there for two hours, had a meeting and course of the demonstration— he did that without TV cameras there. He did that at some, you know, which is unusual, you know, in a lot of ways. And now, did he solve the problem? No. Did he do anything? Frankly, no. But on that file? Probably not. But he was he was fearless about people. He had a real sense of people, and a very good politician. What got him in trouble, only really, was the social issues. He felt so strongly about, you know, the abortion question as a very, almost fundamentalist Catholic, he really struggled with or not struggled with, he really has had strong views on that. I mean, he had other issues, you know, that were with money and his business getting mixed up and all that stuff. But what got him in trouble with the mainstream public was his minority view on some of these social issues. And ultimately, he stepped down over as, you know, a scandal. But frankly, I would have been much more afraid of him running than what happened, because he stepped down and then the social credit party was kind of a mess. And, and they elected a woman named Rita Johnson who ran and she was not that strong candidate, as it turned out. And actually quite a very strong and very good cabinet minister, actually, but not very good leader at the time. And of course, the liberals came up and, and Mike Harcourt who had been, you know, a successful City of Vancouver mayor, and I think very successful for a whole bunch of reasons, one of which was, he was really confident in his skin, you know, like he was comfortable being a leader as he was in the city. And he was comfortable in, in a general sense, running for the NDP. So I think, of course, we didn't win by very much. But, you know, Mike helped sort of mainstream the NDP. Bill Vander Zalm helped to sort of marginalize the social credit party on social issues. And between the two of them we had a nice victory. 

Am Johal  14:32 
Now, you had a number of senior cabinet positions in the Harcourt government. Wondering if you can speak to the parts that you remember, the parts that you're proud of. 

Glen Clark  14:42 
Proud of all of it pretty well, but I got elected at 28. And then I was Minister of Finance at 32. And I raised taxes, as you probably know on, more than anybody had ever raised taxes on the wealthy. I got in a bit of trouble by putting a tax on houses over a million dollars, which, you know, I guess by today's standards would be probably like about 2 or 3 million dollar houses. So, and there was a big protest at Oakridge Shopping Center and I had 10,000 people came out to protest— 

Am Johal  15:11 
The tax revolt. 

Glen Clark  15:12 
Yeah, my tax. And I said something which wasn't very smart. I said, Well, just think how many people would have been there if they had valet parking. And I got in a lot of trouble for that. Although I was very proud. They did, the media did a man in the street kind of interview in my constituency. And they interviewed five people and all five of them supported me. They just said, you know what, go sell some jewelry, if you can't pay for it, or something, one guy said. So. Anyway, Mike Harcourt felt the heat as the media, of course, and the establishment were just furious at that version of a tax. And so he asked me to climb down from it, which I did. And then I think at the first opportunity, he wanted to move me out of finance, which is his perogative. At the time, it's interesting because I'd started a bunch of stuff outside the mainstream, right, I did the bank at Main and Hastings with Jim Green, I hired Jim Green, Steven Larry, a bunch of people to work on some stuff. I was finance minister, remember. So I was trying to find a finance angle to try to make a difference. And I remember when they were talking about shuffling about of finance, I was sort of negotiating with the Premier's office as to what position to take and Jim Green and I were actually just— we had an office down here and we were sort of going back and forth on what to ask for. And as it turned out, it was really a good decision for me actually, because I ended up being economic development. I had responsibility for BC transit, BC Ferries, BC Hydro, all capital construction for the government, and economic development. And turns out, that was a lot more fun than being finance minister in the end. And I had a good time. And I managed to keep, I kept the Downtown Eastside, the Jim Green unit, the community agreement, we created Blade Runners at that time, and a few other programs, mostly under the leadership of Jim Green, frankly, and with my sponsorship, if you will, inside government. And then we worked on the four pillars. The original four pillars project, which we just started to implement, just as I was— with Jenny Kwan was an MLA at the time. And just as I was becoming Premier.

Am Johal  17:17 
In that Harcourt period, there was a lot of land use planning that was going on and taking a look at some of the kind of bigger projects. As a planner yourself, like, some of the kind of bigger policy agendas that got moved during that time.

Glen Clark  17:29 
Well, the big agenda was under... When we got elected, we wanted to double the park land of the province. So we we wanted to do what the United Nations, you know, Gro Harlem Brundtland said that we should try to preserve— I think it was, I don't know what her target was, but our target was 12% and 6% of the province was covered by parks. So we wanted to double the park land. And some of that's not that hard in a giant province with a lot of rocks and mountains. But to try to, what we tried to do was establish these tables where we can negotiate with industry and the communities and environmentalists and to really try to drive this land use planning process. Bob was involved in that by the way, early days in terms of design and how we went about doing it, and I think with, I think was a huge success frankly, because we've doubled the amount of park land, we managed to get a lot of consensus in a lot of areas, some of which were really challenging, and some of which were relatively easy. And then, when I was Premier, we just sort of kind of concluded that process, I managed to get involved in a bunch of stuff, including the Muskwa-Kechika, which is the biggest park about the size of Switzerland and north one but you know, we did you know, we'd made a lot of compromises. We, for example, we allowed the guide outfitters to stay and hunt in the park, in what would be the park. We allowed the jet boats to continue to use the rivers because local people wanted it. We allowed horizontal drilling, was the first time to allow, we didn't allow any, obviously exploitation of minerals or, or natural gas in the park or forestry. But we did allow some horizontal drilling to tap into natural resources underneath the park, which is actually happening. And of course, we created protected areas and a park, it was a bit of a broader stretch. But it was a very interesting process, very challenging in lots of parts of BC, but we really managed to make progress. You know, I've never been a huge supporter of process. But actually, this is where the process really and this, you know, certainly Mike Harcourt's style, but also where the process really benefited because it really forced people to make trade offs to get— to advance the cause of land preservation, conservation. I think something the current government can learn from actually.

Am Johal  19:44 
You know, a lot of people who get into the political side, they don't necessarily know the civil service side or how you make change in a governmental context, working with Deputy Ministers and others along— so that interplay between bureaucracy and politics. And wondering if you could just speak to that dynamic. These are big bureaucratic institutions that are slow moving, they have their own processes and logic. And for a political animal such as yourself, it'll seem like this thing is getting in my way. And so how do you think around that? Or how do you still figure out a way to make that change? 

Glen Clark  20:18 
Well, first of all, we, unlike the current government, you know, we changed the number of deputies. So we brought in more sympathetic deputies, which I think is absolutely number one most important thing you should do, if you're trying to make change, because the system is inherently conservative. And again, the other... The challenge with the bureaucracy is— not that they're not bad people or, or they're left or right. They're basically busy working extremely hard on existing programs, which means almost, by definition, the defenders of the status quo, you know, if you're in the social services side, and you're giving out social service programs, you know, your job is, if you will, to administer that program, not to think of innovative or creative ways to do it. So I found very little, like almost none but very little really creative, interesting proposals coming up from the sort of bowels of the bureaucracy. And again, it wasn't necessarily that  those bureaucrats didn't have ideas, it's just that they're not encouraged to and they're busy, and they have lives. And so they're busy running and administering the existing programs. So that's why in our case, we had the Crown Corporation Secretariat, we had this central agency, Bob Williams was involved in that, we had a bunch of really smart people involved in that, progressive people that we'd brought into it. To really sort of take the innovation, if you will, away from the bureaucracy directly, and create another arm of the bureaucracy that was thinking of new ideas. And some of them, you know, most of them were quite successful, some of them didn't work. But again, you know, if you think about it, this is one example. So we did the commuter rail, or I was involved in doing commuter rail from Vancouver to Mission. Well, that wasn't on anybody's radar. That certainly wasn't Translink or anybody or predecessor of TransLink. Nobody, and people didn't think it could be done. And, you know, we managed to just do it, right. And we did a bunch of stuff like that. So, yeah, the bureaucracy is not a place that's easy for innovation. There might be micro innovation, I think inside the system. But I think as an entity, it's very hard. But by the way, in the private sector, same way, big giant bureaucracies, private sector, bureaucracy, you know, banks and these places, they're not exactly, you know, brimming with innovation, either. So it's, you know, you need to have, you need to set up, I think, dedicated sort of innovation teams that are not from the— or either from the system, but not with line responsibility, to really think through how to how to go ahead about these things. I mean, we were really, I think, lucky or smart. You know, we brought in some really good thinkers like MacArthur and some other people from other governments to think about how to set up these process because we also set up the treaty process, right, which was another huge undertaking with Andrew Petter and very involved in that. So all— Gary Waters— all these people we brought in and combined with the politicians to try to design processes to get to where we wanted to see it go, right. And to try, I think, to try, the trick is to try not to be as prescriptive about where you want to go as much as you need to be flexible about where you can, how you get there. And I think, you know, we did a pretty good job on that, again, lots of failures, I'm sure, but it was an exciting time for that. And we'd made lots of change. And we managed to, broadly speaking, I think, maintain a fair amount of consensus in doing so. I mean, if you were in a mining company, you weren't going to be happy with the government. If you're a forestry, you probably weren't happy. If you were any of the industrial users of the land base. You might not be happy because we were driving for big creation of park land, if you will, or conservation areas. And so in a way you're, inherently, there's an inherent conflict of interest between the two. So that wasn't easy, but we managed to get some uneasy, if you will, agreements with most, in most places in the province with most people.

Am Johal  24:14 
I want to talk a little bit about the '96 election, which in BC is kind of, it's a legendary one because it was so close. It was a come from behind, it really could have gone either way. The NDP was probably somewhere in the 20s in the polls, I think, when you first came in as leader, but wondering if you can sort of walk us through that period, like first of all, you coming in to become leader, post Harcourt, and then there was the few month period before the election. I was up in Williams Lake that summer after university. I was helping out on David Zirnhelt's campaign. It was like a razor thin. He barely got through. But yeah, it's such a, it's a very interesting one for students, I think in particular.

Glen Clark  24:53 
Yeah, we were I think, I don't know, 20, 25 points behind when I took over but here's my fundamental belief. I believed that the Mike Harcourt government had done a lot of good things and was, and shouldn't have been unpopular. You know, it wasn't, the economy wasn't bad. We'd accomplished a lot. And so why was it the public had lost confidence in the government, according to the polls, and my thought was that we just didn't have done a good job of reconnecting. Because what happens with incumbent governments you see this now, particularly with the federal Liberal government, right? They get kind of inured, they get detached from the public, right? You know, the Trudeau goes on this fancy vacation paid for by some wealthy guy, you know, without thinking that most people can't go to vacation at all, let alone go to some fancy resort. That's out of touch. And I think we had kind of lost touch with people, we're too busy, sort of trying to run the government and do good things that we got kind of bureaucratic. So I felt strongly that if we reconnected with people, fundamentally, they weren't that unhappy with the government, we just needed to show that we were reconnecting. So as you probably remember, at the time, I froze tuition fees, for example, which I don't know if this is public, probably not public knowledge, but the overwhelming majority of cabinet was against that. And they were against it because they thought it was, they prefer the notion of high tuition fees and grants for poor people. That's the debate, I guess. And I felt strongly that tuition fees were a symbol, and an impediment to getting access to both any post secondary education, if you're from a poor background. I know for sure, in my case, I would never have gone to university if it hadn't been for the ease of access that took place for me in the 70s, late 70s and early 80s, where university access was easier. So I froze tuition fees on post secondary institutions, I froze BC Hydro rates, I froze ICBC rates, and I remember at the time of freezing ICBC rates, the board, the NDP board of directors of ICBC was going to resign over it. And I always felt strongly that if you have a Crown Corporation, you know, it has to be seen differently than than a private corporation. Otherwise, why have it, might as well just privatize it. That's the thing. So I always really wanted to use the crowns to try to make a difference. So I did a series of initiatives like that, which showed people that A, there was a new person in charge, B, we weren't doing anything— It wasn't particularly radical, but it was reconnecting with working class voters in British Columbia. And we did a whole bunch of other stuff, too. And I, you know, many many... lot of stuff. But we managed to sort of turn the momentum. And then of course, I polarize the electorate. And I polarize it in a way that we've not seen before in Canada, which by the way, made it harder to govern after we won. But, you know, I ran explicitly in favor of a tax increase on the wealthy. And so I just made it us versus them. You know, the slogan was on your side. We ran it hard against the wealthy people. And I made one errant thing, if I were, in hindsight, which I criticize myself for, I actually named specific business leaders that we were going to tax more because we had public information, what they made. And that was a bit more, too much of an ad hominem attack on my part, I shouldn't have done that, I think in hindsight. At the time, it was quite lots of fun. And so we, so we quite deliberately set about A, reconnecting with our voters and polarizing electorate so that people knew, as they say, you don't have to be the best in politics, you just have to be better than the other guy. And the other guy, I felt strongly, wasn't very good, or at least wasn't anything I would support. And so. So that was the key. We did really well, I think we would have won relatively handily, except for Gordon Wilson, who ran for the Liberal Party, who, I didn't think he ran a particularly effective campaign. But I think he did a broadcast, he paid advertising three days before the election campaign started. And it was a professional 30 minute show on television that he bought. They didn't do much advertising, there's just one big kind of piece. And he managed to peel off about 5 or 6% of the vote. And it pretty well all came from us, from the NDP. And I think if it, if he hadn't done that, if we had a few more days, we might have lost actually, because he really took some votes away from us, which is why I worked hard to try to convince him to cross the floor at one point. 

Am Johal  29:16 
Yeah, so you came in at a very polarizing time. And the media was quite critical of the NDP. It was also I think, a different time around running deficits and those types of things, was very present. But there was also some groundbreaking legislation, the Nisga'a agreement happened during that time period. But wonder if you can speak a little bit to the kinds of things that got done.

Glen Clark  29:36 
Yeah, well the Nisga'a treaty, of course, is a great legacy. I'm disappointed that we haven't seen many more, Tsawwassen I guess, but we haven't, because I really thought... I liked the treaty approach because I wanted to, I thought it would make a difference. But I also thought, from the non Aboriginal point of view, it was a settlement right? As opposed to more incrementality that we've seen since then, which, all which has really made a difference and including UNDRIP and everything. Remember, this was a different time, I guess, right. So there's— that's not a criticism at all of what's happening now. But at the time, I was hoping this would be a template that we could roll through. But we worked hard on that, it was the first, you know, modern treaty since I think 18... Can't remember the— 1858 I think, actually. So we managed to make a difference there. I think we did a number of things that I was very proud of, some of which were rolled back by the government, but you know, I abolished tuition fees for people wanting to go back and get a high school education. That was one of my most moving announcements, actually, because of the people who were either in college getting their high school education. These were really disadvantaged people who are going back trying to make a difference, and they were being charged tuition fees. So we abolished that, it was a very powerful and positive thing to do for that cohort of people. And so that was fun. We did lots of stuff we did, as you said, commuter rail, we did the SkyTrain down Lougheed highway, you know, we made a difference on parks, we did forest renewal, we did fisheries renewal, trying to put money back into the resource to try to keep resource jobs. At the same time we were preserving, you know, park land. So yeah, we did a lot of healthcare innovation, some worked, some didn't. But we really were a pretty, I would say, it's hard to describe our govern— my, the government I was part of— as not being an activist government, we were very active.

Am Johal  31:32 
Of course, in politics, in that kind of public life, you have your good days and your popular moments, becoming leader. But you definitely saw the other side of that, which is a matter of public record, from the fast ferries to, you know, all the other criminal charges, all of that stuff. To being like quite hated, in fact, probably the most hated person at that moment, if you say, for a period of time, I'm sure. 

Glen Clark  31:53 
For sure.

Am Johal  31:54 
But reflecting back on it now, from this vantage point, when you reflect back on that time now, what do you sort of think about, like, the broadly, the spectacle of media and politics and the kind of scrutiny that people in public life go through? 

Glen Clark  32:08 
Well, the challenge at the time, I think, and there's a kind of a terrible lesson to learn, I think, or not a positive lesson. But when you run against the wealthy, and you run explicitly against the wealthy, and you're not supposed to win, and you win, and then you know, some people, which I won't name, you know, wouldn't even shake my hand, they were so hostile. So you, when you take the business community, and almost universally have this incredible hostility, it's harder to govern. And what happened was, of course, then we had a bit of a recession come in, and we were running a deficit. And so, you just felt the weight of the establishment, you know, just grinding away, trying to defeat you really. Doing anything they could to defeat you, they would be, you know, cheering for a bad economy so they could, so you could get throw the guys out, right? It was the days before finance reform. So millions and millions of dollars poured into the opposition to try to defeat me and the NDP government. So that made it, it was very challenging. And that's the lesson and I guess a further lesson is, you know, you need grassroots support, right. What happens when you're in government, at least when we were there, is we took a lot of activists, you know, and we put them right in the government. But what we didn't have then was an extra parliamentary interest groups advocating for the government, you know, we had brought everybody inside the government. So we didn't have as much I think we missed, or we didn't do a very good job of, of nurturing grassroots activism in support for the government's objectives, like working with the grassroots in a way. So that left you vulnerable to the media and the money and the establishment. Because to fight that you need people. And then when you start losing the people, you lose popular support, which governments do and you make some difficult decisions, and you're less popular, it becomes a kind of a cascading effect. Becomes very challenging to fight back. You have the power of the state, which is the good news. And you can actually make a difference in people's lives. And we continue to try to do that right up until we were defeated. You know, we really worked hard at not, trying to ignore all the noise and try to make a difference in people's lives. But fundamentally, we lost the debate if you will, we lost the... we lost the room as I'd say, in a sports analogy.

Am Johal  34:28 
Now after finishing your term you were a backbench MLA for a while and wondering how you spent your time there because I want to get into talking about your rise up the corporate ladder after that so.

Glen Clark  34:39 
Well I, when I stepped down as Premier and I had, you know, eight, I think it was eight criminal charges were about to be leveled against me. But I actually needed a job, right? Because I got elected young and I had a family and I had a mortgage to pay. So I stayed as a backbencher. I thought I was only going to stay for a few months because I thought, I assumed that the government would call an election. And Mr. Dosanjh didn't call an election, he run the string, ran the string out for a whole year. So I was a backbench government member for about a year. But I had some fun, you know, I brought in some private member's bills to, to end the grizzly bear hunt, which was a bit controversial, at the time. I brought in a private member's bill, which, of course, didn't go anywhere, but I brought it in, I brought in a private member's bill to allow people to have pets in their apartments. Because I think personally, this is just my view, you know, if you're a backbench member of the government, you know, it doesn't mean you have to shut up and stick your hand up whenever the government wants you to. Obviously, your parliamentary system, you're gonna support the government. But I think there's a bit of latitude to actually speak. And I don't hear as much of that anymore. But so I wasn't, it didn't bother me to, to speak on issues. And I would, they would get mad at me because they wanted me to go away, probably. But I even asked some questions in question period, which you're allowed to do. But you know, you could weigh in on on issues. So I did that for a while. I started, of course, looking for a job right away. And I didn't get any offers from anybody. Except for— 

Am Johal  36:08 
Your popularity. 

Glen Clark  36:09 
Yeah. Yeah. But including on the left, right. There was not exactly anybody in the trade union, or anybody who would give me a job. Now, I wasn't overly fearful of that. I figured, you know, I'll just get a job like a normal person. Just, it's not a, it's not like I was looking for a high paying job. I just wanted a job. So anyway, Jimmy Patterson phoned me, and that was really organized by Dave Barrett. People don't know, I don't know if that's ever been public, but... So Dave Barrett phoned me. And I said, Look, I need a job. And so Dave phoned Jimmy. And Jimmy phoned me and said, I hear you need a job. And so yeah, so then I came downtown, and he gave me a job. 

Am Johal  36:48 
Yeah. And your first one. So it's interesting is that the business community was very hostile towards you. And also now you're working for one of the sort of titans of BC industry, which— you were at the sign shop first?

Glen Clark  36:59 
Yeah, so Jimmy gave me a job that wasn't senior management, it wasn't even middle management, I was a branch manager of a relatively small company, the Electric Sign Company. And they had about 10 employees. And I was, of course, then I had the trial. My trial was eight months long, roughly, and so, on and off. And, you know, the system's kind of crazy, you know, they only work for a few hours a day, and they take time off and calendars, but it, the whole length of it was about eight months, the actual wasn't every day or anything. But, so when it was on, in the courthouse, you know, I would try to go to the office at around 6:30 or 6 in the morning, and then about 8:30 have to go down to the courthouse and I do a few hours in court, then I come back to the office and work til late at night. And I worked on Saturdays, as well. Yeah, it was, it was good for me, Jimmy was great for me, because he would also come in sometimes on Saturdays. So I had to learn, you know, what it was to be in business and how it worked and how the system worked. And it was really great for me, it was fun, I actually enjoyed it. And he ended up making me, vice president, after I won the case, I became vice president of the sign company for Western Canada. And then he made me president of a different company after that, which I didn't want to do, because I really felt good about the sign company, I was just making changes, we were having fun. And so he moved me to another operation. And then ultimately, then became vice president of the whole group and then had these companies reporting to me, and then president of the group and then Chief Operating Officer for the last seven or eight years.

Am Johal  38:30 
Coming from your background as a former union organizer, working inside of politics at very senior levels, to step into a business context, there are some things that translate, I suppose. And there's probably some things that you had to learn completely new? 

Glen Clark  38:45 
Sure, I think, well, what translates is, it's all about people, right? It's the same. We're on the business of people. So leadership, and people and I think good politicians, in my view, they learn the details of a file, say, they really, really have to master the details of the file, but then they have to step back from that, and paint the bigger picture of where you're going and have a vision of where you're going. Right. So you have to do both, like vision without actually understanding the details of the problem is a problem and understanding the details is not sufficient to show leadership. And in business it's the same way. Right? If you don't, if you just understand the details, that's what you might call management. But if you understand the details, and then you can put it in a context that people can understand, and a vision that people can understand, then that's more of leadership role. So I think that part translates quite well. In business, it's simpler than government, right? Government, you're in a way, you're management, right? It's when you're in government and you're a cabinet minister, you're running. And I say that advisedly because you're not but you're, at least you're the titular head of a big organization that's delivering programs or services. And so, you do have a lot of the same response, it's similar to running a business in that respect only that there's a bunch of people that need, you know, the direction and where they're going. In business, it's simpler, because the rules are clear. You have to make money. If you don't make money, you go out of business. If you're in business, you have to make money. How do you make money? You have to raise revenue, or cut costs, or both. And it's kind of simple rule. It's a bit Darwinian. But it's, that's just the reality in our market based capitalist economy, you just run it, and you have to make money. So even if you have to fire people, which is horrible, there's a reason for it, usually, because you, you know, you need to make money. You can't, you know, you don't have any options. Whereas in government it's usually multi layered. I mean, that's the fun of government. But it's also, everything's multi layered. So if you have a Crown Corporation, should the Crown Corporation also be a better employer? Like, for example, we were working on a bunch of projects, we created Blade Runners to try to say, Okay, well, we're going to spend this money on this infrastructure, how can we use that idea and the spending on infrastructure to create more jobs for disadvantaged people? Well, they need to, they need a very specific program that can help do that. How can we get more, can we use this government spending on this initiative to create more apprenticeships? So we did the Island Highway, which was a big project that I was very proud of, that I was involved with. And during that, you know, we had more apprentices working than any government project in history with more women working, more First Nations people working, than any government project in history, and we did it consciously and deliberately to try to leave a legacy. So the goal was to build the highway. If you're a business, that would be your only goal. But in government, you try to say, Okay, well, can we use that to accomplish other social goals at the same time, and so it's much more complex. And of course, the other thing in government is, there's often no right answer, like literally no right answer. Gee, if we do this, this is horrible. We do this. This is also horrible. We have to do one or the other, which one is least horrible, or which one is least offensive. And so you're always making decisions, that might not be optimum decisions. You're trying to, of course, make optimal decisions. But there's no, there's no obvious right answer. In business, there often is an obvious right answer. You might not like it, but it's obvious.

Am Johal  42:21 
A couple more questions on the Pattison period. One, I heard this story that when Pattison, when Jimmy first hired you, that people were so grumpy, they ripped up their Save On Foods loyalty cards, and he phoned them all up. And my second question is just, you know, any stories around companies that you were involved in turning around? And ideas that you have around that? 

Glen Clark  42:40 
Well, yeah, 400 people resigned, as I recall, from Save On Foods loyalty cards, 400 people, because they're so angry at Jimmy hiring me, even in a junior role. And Jimmy phoned them all. And he phoned, he did that, you know, I don't know if any of your listeners ever canvass or anything else. But 400 people's a lot of people too call ,like, you know, call 10 people, that's a lot of people. So Jimmy, I think no matter where he was in the world, he would just phone 10 or 15 people every night, until he got through everybody. And he managed to convince, I believe all of them, to rejoin. And so yeah, no, he went out of his way to help. And he also, you know, obviously, it was his business as well. And he was defending, but he did a, was terrific. There's lots of examples, you know, at any given time, Jimmy has a lot of companies. At any given time, one or two of them's not doing well. And that's, that's the nature of this market economy we have. So, you know, sometimes if the business is not doing well, because of a secular concern, if I can put it that way, then that's more difficult. And you, maybe you sell it or close it or something, because it's got the market itself is not big enough to justify it, or the markets changed, you know. Bell closing all those radio stations. I'm not defending Bell, particularly, but there's a secular change, people aren't listening to their radio stations like they were before and they're not as effective. So they chose to close them. And clearly, their first option would be to sell them, clearly there was no buyer. So they ended up closing them. Usually a leadership issue, right? And it's again, it's, you know, different leaders for different times, right, sometimes, you need a leader who's a cost cutter, because for whatever reason, it's very competitive, it's a tough environment, you have to make sure you're just as lean as he possibly can be. That's an accountant kind of mindset to try to drive costs out of your business. Other times you need a leader who's kind of a wartime general who's gonna say, Okay, we're gonna go and take everybody on, we're gonna grow this business. And that means we have to take market away from other people. So I think in Jimmy's world, you know, he's very smart about that, is certain times he needs certain type of leaders and other times you need other types of leaders, right? And that's probably true in all walks of life.

Am Johal  44:49 
I was going to talk just a little bit around the pandemic period, the challenges you might have encountered in business because I guess in some ways, we're still lingering outside of that time period. A lot of lingering challenges that come out of that. But what are the some of the things that you faced during that period? 

Glen Clark  45:04 
It's really interesting. I mean, first of all, it's hard. It was horrible personally, as you can imagine, because in my role as the Chief Operating Officer of the Jim Patterson group, we had all these divisions with their own management, I wasn't running the companies directly. But they were sort of reporting to me. I couldn't travel. And I really, really, and again, something I probably learned more from Jimmy, but, you know, Jimmy would visit every company, or every group of companies every quarter. And we would never make them come to Vancouver, we would go there, wherever there was. And so for a period of time there, we couldn't do that. And so that was just... so you know, they used to, some people call it management by walking around. But when you go to a factory, and you walk around with the local management, you get a pretty good feel for well, are the people happy? Do they respect the leadership? Is there any problems and if there's problems, people will either tell you or signal you in some way, right. But if you're doing it on a zoom call, you're not interacting with the people on the shop floor. And that's really hard. And so some companies, at least from my point of view, as a sort of senior person in the office, I felt less connected to the companies than I would normally be or liked to be. But the other thing that was so weird about the pandemic, which we're still living with today is how weird the unintended consequences of various actions right. For example, the car business has never been this good, the automobile business. Now, I would have thought car business, oh, maybe that'll go slow down, people are moving to electric cars, there's less parts in electric cars, the business model may have to change. Well, who would have predicted, at least I wouldn't have predicted that, you know, there's these mass shortages of parts. Nobody's making cars. So the price of cars goes sky high, the margin goes up, because there's shortage of people. So the business is extremely profitable. And this is not the Jim Pattison business. Everybody in the car business is the most profitable, probably in history, all car businesses, because of the consequences of, you know, shutting factories down for a couple of years. And then a shortage of used cars. This is the worst time, for your listeners, don't, if you can help it don't buy a car or a used car today, because the prices are really high, relative to history. Because there's been this shortage of supply. Other businesses, the grocery business for us was quite good. And I think true for full service groceries. Your listeners might understand this, but I didn't at the time, realize that people often go to four or five grocery stores in one weekend, because they're looking for a deal on this or a shop sale on that, sale on this. Well during the pandemic, they just wanted to go to one place and get all the groceries. And so the discounters and the, you know, the lousier assortments stores but might be cheaper, they lost out and the companies that had grocery stores with full service, you can buy everything there. So the Safeways, the Save Ons, the Sobeys did better relatively speaking during the pandemic, which I wouldn't have predicted that. Now right now it's kind of swinging back, I think, I'm not there. But you know, the discounters are back in business and probably on the rise. But, during the pandemic, the full service grocery stores did better. The media outlets, billboards, radio stations, well, if businesses close, they're not advertising. And so those businesses were really hard hit by the recession. We, the packaging businesses did well because of takeout, because everybody was doing the home delivery and takeout. So all these kind of unpredictable consequences. And we're still living with them today. And they're still interesting. Save On Foods, I think, it's not public information, but I don't know what the numbers so, I won't be accurate anyway. But say 8% of their sales ended up being home delivery, you know, and whereas typically in North America, it's more like 3%. But during the pandemic, people took home delivery. And so some of those trends have continued, you know, the work from home, you know, the hybrid work from home now, all that stuff has sort of, some of that has accelerated the trend that was happening anyway, in terms of technology. And others have kind of just reverted back to where it was before the pandemic, and, you know, the restaurant business, all that business has been sort of severely hit. The one thing that I still am puzzled by, really puzzled by, is the shortage of labor. Like, you know, what happened? How's that? How's it possible that suddenly there's no people for anything? Not anything, but, you know, restaurants can't get people and businesses can't get people. Where did the people go, you know, I mean, obviously, lots been written about this. And, you know, some of its, you know, took early retirement, some people decided to upgrade their skills to other things, took, you know, people took the opportunity or people decided, in some cases that, you know what? This is a rat race, wasn't worth the effort, you know, working three jobs and both parents, you know, maybe we should slow down a little bit and live on less. So whatever the reason is, there's a surprising labor market impact, which we're seeing today. And the Jim Pattison group owns a waterslide park, a Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara falls, right? And of course, you forget that, you know, they have lifeguards required by law. Well, for two years, there's just no lifeguards trained in the world, if you will, right. So you go okay, now we can open. But where do we get the lifeguards from? And then you gotta go back and train people. And people go, Well, why should I do that when I got other options, you know, with my life. So this kind of train we were on, we just get this abrupt breaks, you know, from the pandemic, which has had these interesting and sometimes positive and sometimes weird consequences, which I think we're still living with today. Healthcare is a good, other example. 

Am Johal  50:56 
Yeah, was going to talk a little bit in your role, Jimmy Pattison group, you weren't probably directly dealing with labour relations or labour unions. But in terms of your trajectory from being a labour organizer, to being on the corporate side, your dealings with with labor unions.

Glen Clark  51:10 
I did, I did deal with labour unions quite a bit. I mean, the Jim Pattison Group is just sort of not by definition, sort of anti union, made of union companies and non union companies. They just, you know, they take what is probably the correct position, which is, you know, how do we make money and, you know, how do we deal with, and so you deal with the— you deal with it whether the people organized or not. And I dealt with it, usually not a direct across the table bargaining, but usually to try to give advice to management about how best to approach it. You know, I used to give speeches to the management group of the whole company. And I would really emphasize that if you have trust, like, if people trust you, as a manager, then you can do anything. I mean, when I say do anything, you can accomplish stuff. Because if the workers and the unions, and the management, if they trust the leadership of the company, and you're open and honest with them, then you can usually accommodate, you know, their wishes. Where you get a problem is if they don't, if they lose trust in management, or management loses trust in the union. I took over one company where, you know, the union was always viewed as the problem. When I got there, I realized, well, yeah, the union is difficult, but boy, the management's horrible. So they kind of get what they deserve. So then fixing the management, you still had a challenging union, because the union had been conditioned by the management to not trust the company, and it was sort of understandable. And we managed to sort of, mostly fix it as we went forward. Over time, you can build that credibility up again. But, you know, I think, again, it's the same if you're transparent, and honest, and fair, and you treat people with dignity and respect. And they believe, you know, and you're not phony about it. You know, even if you get into fights over legitimate demands for more, share the spoils, if you will, or more of the share the profits, you can usually accomplish, can usually solve these problems, because we come at it from mutual respect.

Am Johal  53:10 
Glen, I want to turn now to kind of current BC politics, you're still a student and keen watcher of the political sphere, lotta new challenges in government, but wondering if you could maybe give your assessment of, you know, what's needed out of BC politics, or the government, or your assessment of the current government? I do want to move on to some of the Crown Corporations and those kinds of things. But your take sort of.

Glen Clark  53:33 
I'm not going to trash the current government, is that what you're asking me to do?

Am Johal  53:36 
No, I'm not asking you to do that, I'm asking to give your assessment.

Glen Clark  53:40 
Look it, we all— the thing is, you're right, it's a different time, right? And different challenges. So I don't really, you know, we're all creatures of our history, right? We all come at these things with their own biases and your own things that happened to you. You're, you know, it's so natural to reflect on that. But so I'm not really equipped to say how they're dealing with this stuff today very well. I think in general, it's been a solid, you know, progressive government. That's not, it's not beating on people or taking away rights or, or doing any of the horrible things that we've seen, certainly south of the border or elsewhere. So you know, they're doing fine. You know, I think I would say if I were critical, I think some of the land based stuff. I don't know if I like. In the sense that I don't think, there's not enough, funny coming from me, but not enough process, I think, in terms of trying to affect change. In other words, there's, when you declare the UNDRIP. You know, when you do the United Nations Declaration, which I have no problem with, and you announce that and try to bring it into law, you need to bring along people with it. Again, it sounds a bit funny from me, having been unsuccessful in bringing people along to the stuff I was supporting. But I think I worry that there's a sense of distrust of government, not this particular government, governments. That you see Pierre Poilievre capitalize on. I remember that Pierre Poilievre's a good example, because he talks about the country being broken. And I thought, Boy, that's a pretty extreme thing, that's different than saying, you know, there's problems in the country or the government's terrible. This is saying, the country is broken. And, you know, I've come to view, you look at these pollings, and he keep saying it, that there obviously, is a big chunk of the population that feels that way. And if you were a forestry worker in British Columbia, and you know, you're closing sawmills because, by the way, for a bunch of reasons, most of which are not the government's fault. But you know, you're closing your job, your livelihood is out of work. You know, you get pretty angry and blame somebody. And blaming is, you know, a lack of trust that the government is making a decision based on a whole bunch of factors. And I do worry that we're, certainly in rural Canada, there's an anger building, that you feel. And I think, if so, if I were saying to the provincial government. You know, they have to go extra— This sounds like a very sort of liberal thing to say, but you do need to kind of get that sweet spot where you're making decisions, but you're listening to everybody at the same time. And so that means more than just listening and doing what you want to do anyway. It means it's actually engaging, in so the decisions that you make, even if people disagree with them, they feel a certain understanding that the government has worked hard to try to accommodate their views. And I think that's federally and provincially, I think there's a bit of, I have a bit of concern about that. I think social cohesion is a problem, right? If you start to get that, you get that kind of Trump thing, you're seeing the United States. You know, the thing, to dwell in United States, but I, you know, go down there and you go to these towns that used to be prosperous union towns, and the downtown's all boarded up, and people are living in, you know, very poor environments. And there's drugs and all kinds of issues around associated with it. And they're voting for Trump. And so you say, well, that's voting against their interest, how can they vote for this con man, you know, multimillionaire, who just wants to serve the rich? Well, it's because the current system is not working for them, clearly not working for them. And I worry a little bit about that. And we're not the same in Canada. But there's bits of that, that I see sort of in Canada, where people have that kind of legitimate criticism, that the system isn't working for them. And so how they respond to that, I think, I think on the left, you know, we need to be aware of that, you know,

Am Johal  57:29 
BC's, you know, traditionally had a very kind of polarized context for over a century, maybe longer. But in some of the intractable issues that we see today, affordable housing, transit, climate change versus, you know, rural jobs, development, these kinds of impasses. The government has made, the provincial government's put forward policies around densification on lots like those types of things and wondering, yeah, just your ideas on how to fast track affordable housing and some of your takes on some of the things that governments put forward.

Glen Clark  58:02 
Yeah, it's a different time. You know, climate change, for example, is clearly, you know, a problem of the world that needs to be addressed and actually wasn't even talked about when I was there, you know, so these are big, big, giant intractable issues. I think, that the government hasn't, governments generally, haven't used the state enough, you know, we kind of lost our ability to intervene directly. So now, that tends to be, you know, let's give money to people to do this or give nonprofits etc. I prefer to see a bit more statist approach, right, like, build housing. You know, I read somewhere that—I don't know if it's true or not—but the, you know, there's obviously a huge shortage of affordable housing. But the number one waiting list is for seniors housing, in British Columbia. I thought, Well, my goodness, governments just go build some seniors housing, own it, build it, run it. But we don't, we seem to have lost that, that direct service delivery thing. And so that we're always using the private sector now for different programs, including social programs in the Downtown Eastside and elsewhere. We're using nonprofits. And I'm not against that, you need all of the above. But I'd like to see governments actually build some things themselves, and maybe run some things themselves. If nothing else, so they understand better the consequences, how hard it is to run some of these programs. To be a low barrier housing. I can't think of anything more challenging than that. To actually run a low barrier housing project. And it'd be great if the government would build one and run it with their own staff and really understand the costs and what is involved in running it so that they can better provide the resources necessary for nonprofits. And I think we've kind of, for some reason, the last 20, 30 years, we've gotten away from direct government actions, so we're always trying to, it's kind of like pushing on a string, right? You're trying to give people money to do certain things, rather than just doing it yourself. And, you know, obviously, it's such a big problem. You need to do all of the above, but I think it'd be be nice to see some more direct government action, I think.

Am Johal  1:00:05 
As a minister who was responsible for BC Hydro, ICBC... The Crown Corps, in particular in BC have been both a source of pride and a source of derision. 

Glen Clark  1:00:16 
Yeah. Yup.

Am Johal  1:00:17 
And when you think about coming from the business perspective as well, like, what is the future for these Crown corporations look like? 

Glen Clark  1:00:24 
Yeah, it's a really good question. I mean...

Am Johal  1:00:26 
We, in fact, imported hydro last year. With the drought this year, it'll be a very similar situation. 

Glen Clark  1:00:31 
Well I think we've lost our way a little bit here in the sense that if the Crown Corporation is not going to be more responsive to the political needs of the people of the province, then it might as well be private. You know, I'm not saying they should privatize it. I'm saying rather reverse they... So I don't see as much innovation in the Crown Corporation as could be. ICBC obviously made the big change in terms of no fault. That's benefited people. So they're, they're on their way. Ferries obviously is challenge for— I don't understand it, but it's really challenging, and hydro and others are as well. But you know, I think we always have to remind ourselves, what's the purpose of these Crown Corporations? And why did, why were they created? Sometimes I think these big Crowns end up just kind of being a law unto themselves, running away. Again, back to my earlier statement, big bureaucracy, they're doing the best they can, they have a job to do. They're doing it and they're doing it fine. But there's not a lot of innovation coming out of it nor direction.

Am Johal  1:01:33 
Wondering if you can speak just... We do have a provincial election coming up and a federal election. Any— I know, you don't want to wade too far into the political arena, but your sort of take on what the political party should be thinking about going into this fall and the spring? 

Glen Clark  1:01:48 
That's a good question. I mean, I think that federally, for sure, you know, the conservative rise is really dramatic. And again, I think it comes from that dissatisfaction and disaffection of so many people, particularly in rural Canada. And I think things like the housing crisis, you know, I think people are just lashing out at the system, it doesn't work for them. And so, I mean, the trick for a progressive government and an NDP government would be to capitalize on that anger to drive change, as opposed to, you know, where it looks like it's going. I mean, I think, look, it's a different time. So I'm probably the wrong guy, but I don't like, you know, identity politics can take you so far. But I think you— I'd prefer to see it get back a little bit more to a class, political environment where people really are talking about how can we make a difference in people's lives in a day to day basis, particularly on the economic front? So I think we're going to need to spend a bit more time on rural economic development and economic development generally, in a way that we haven't in the past, you know, say decade, where we've had surplus budgets, and we've been working on social programs. We need to, I think we're gonna have to get back into distribution. And also, you know, sort of wealth distribution and also economic development. So in both cases, I mean, in BC, it'll be interesting to see what happens. Clearly, the conservatives have a lot of momentum. Provincially as well. And I could see them coming second. Or even winning, actually, depending on how much momentum they get. I don't know about the United Party, they seem to be floundering. Which is fine with me, by the way.

Am Johal  1:03:31 
And my final question to you is just since you have been spending a lot of time in the States, working in business, your take on the upcoming American election. Which is a whole other ball game.

Glen Clark  1:03:41 
Yeah, it's a good question. I am surprised that Trump is ahead of Biden. I was down there just last week, and talking to people who used to work for me, and they're pretty well, most management are Republicans, right? Just as a general proposition. And most of the people who worked for me were voting Republican, and most of them are not voting for Trump. I mean, they're, they're not, they're not happy. They're not happy with that choice. I don't think they're gonna vote for me. They told me they weren't gonna vote for him. So it appears to me he's less popular than he was four years ago. But that's not what the polls are reflecting. So I, I have to be optimistic that that's not the case. I think Biden, you know, has an image problem. And it stems probably from his age. And that's, that's not— the problem with that problem is you can't fix it. Like, you just can't fix it. It's just a fact. So that's a challenge for the Democrats. But again, back to my old maxim, you don't have to be that good, just better the other guy. And I tend to have hope that Trump will fizzle out in that process.

Am Johal  1:04:42 
Yeah. Glen, always fascinating speaking with you. Thank you so much for joining us at 312 Main for Below the Radar. 

Glen Clark  1:04:50 
Thanks. Great to be here.

Samantha Walters  1:04:56 
Below the Radar is a knowledge democracy podcast created by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Thanks for listening to our conversation with Glen Clark. If you would like to support our podcast, you can donate at the link in the description below. Your generous donation will help support the podcast's activities and associated public events with SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll catch you next time on Below the Radar.

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Transcript auto-generated by and edited by the Below the Radar team.
March 05, 2024

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