I recently attended a national real estate conference in Toronto and had the pleasure of sitting with Gordon Campbell, former High Commissioner to the UK and a former B.C. Premier. I have met Premier Campbell many times when I was at UBC so I thought it would be interesting to see how he has changed after this latest and very high profile stint as Canada’s representative in London. With his same predictable passion for citizen involvement in politics and community building he described the past 6 years in London and his impressions of the economic and political change sweeping across the EU. Questions soon started coming in from developers, commercial real estate brokers and anyone who cared about the Canadian real estate market or worried about similar effects on the Canadian economy. As I am from B.C. I particularly wanted to hear how that market was performing now that the provincial government had implemented a hastily assembled tax on non-resident property owners. What might the political appetite be here in Ontario to do the same thing and what might the triggers be to force government intervention as was done in B.C.?
Campbell’s comments, measured carefully to avoid federal and provincial political entanglement was that investors, the world over want 3 things: Predictable, uncorrupt and well run markets that offer reliable results to market risk takers. He went on to mention political leaders need to be smart and avoid bouts of popular vote stupidity citing some recent examples. While describing his front row seat with Brexit, the Euro instability factors of France and Greece, and the US leadership change implications the audience quieted, waiting for his advice. He didn’t fail to deliver. To the economists and market players in attendance, it was to stick with long term planning, conduct good research, determine the facts around a potential purchase or change and to be decisive. His advice to leaders both public and private: be consistent, embrace the changes being made in the world today as they are not temporary, and finally, be genuinely optimistic about the future. He offered this style up as joining the “smart team”. The alternative, as very binary default – to join the stupid team. There is no attractive middle ground out there.
by David Rankin
Operations & Project Management
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