Ionce had a boss who was fond of saying "All you find in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead skunks."
I disagree. There's a lot of common sense in the middle of the road, which is where you will find the majority of small businesses - and many, many voters, too.
The middle wants budget deficits eliminated as soon as possible. The middle likes the idea of paying off debt. The middle thinks taxes are high enough. The middle knows regulations should focus on the most important health and safety issues. Red tape, including unfriendly and unhelpful government service, should be minimized.
When the small business "middle" thrives, the entire middle class thrives.
So where is the middle when it comes to the B.C. government's current policy priorities? Preliminary results from a pre-budget small business survey show strong support for the overall government vision of "a strong economy and a secure tomorrow."
Not surprisingly, balancing the budget and paying down debt receive strong support. The middle knows today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes and tomorrow's taxes eat away their children's standard of living.
Reducing red tape is on the minds of many business owners, with concern running high over the administrative problems with returning to the PST. Business owners need answers to how they are expected to apply sales-tax rules and they need those answers to be in plain English rather than bureaucratese.
Beyond the problems with administering the PST, we will be recommending that Finance Minister Mike de Jong develop a plan to remove PST from machinery, equipment, software and other business inputs that are important for increasing the productivity of a business.
Taxing these inputs makes no sense and goes against the vision of a strong economy. Business owners tell us they would do three things if these taxes were lower - invest in new equipment, pay down debt and increase employee compensation.
Looming on the horizon are some big questions about natural resource development in this province. Where is the middle? They are squarely in support of further developing B.C.'s resources as long as appropriate environmental protection is in place.
As far as pipelines go, support is strong as long as Premier Christy Clark's five conditions, which include worldleading water and spill response, are met.
There is also majority support for increasing the exports of liquefied natural gas. As debates over pipelines heat up, it will be important that the middle is included.
These aren't just big-business, big government, big-environment policy decisions. The middle wants its voice heard.
The B.C. election was won earlier this year by the party that talked best to the middle.
Now it is getting into the business of governing - where it's easy to lose track of important priorities as they get drowned out by a cacophony from the fringes.
But unlike my old boss, I think all we find on the side of the road is broken down cars and overgrown bushes. Govern for the middle and the province will thrive.
Laura Jones is executive vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
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