City delegation on 11-day sister cities visit to Asia
A City of Burnaby delegation is currently on an 11-day visit to sister and friendship cities in China and Taiwan.
And while Burnaby council approved $30,900 in city funding to cover the costs of the trip for Mayor Derek Corrigan and three councillors, Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan will be paying her own way.
"I'm paying my own way so I'm not there as a representative of government," said Kathy. "I simply applied for a leave within my own [New Democrat] caucus."
She stressed the importance of such trade missions in paving the way for improved business relationships. A representative of a major manufacturing plant in B.C. with customers in China, who she declined to name, told her recently that when in that country, "it's much easier—in fact necessary—to have government-to-government relationships to accompany or predate the business-to-business relationship," she said.
"He was hoping that if [the NDP] happen to be in government that we would ensure these type of missions take place because he saw it as critical to opening up the Chinese market."
As for the City of Burnaby's official overseas trip, which runs Sept. 20 to 30, the mayor and three councillors will be joined by representatives from the Burnaby Board of Trade (BBOT) and the Taiwan Chamber of Commerce.
They'll be visiting Burnaby's sister city Zhongshan, China and Taipei and Taichung, Taiwan, with which it has signed friendship agreements. Also on the itinerary are Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and two cities in China—Zhuhai, which has an economic trade agreement with the BBOT, and Shenzhen, where they will visit a light-emitting diode (LED) manufacturing plant "to explore the possibility of using a more sustainable source of energy in the City of Burnaby infrastructure," according to a city staff report.
As for Kathy Corrigan, she noted that it's a city delegation and that the mayor's position would rank somewhat higher than that of a provincial MLA in opposition.
"I think the way I'll actually be introduced is probably as Mrs. Corrigan, and then it'll be mentioned that I'm MLA for Burnaby-Deer Lake and they may or may not have any idea what that represents until I talk to them about it," she said.
"My primary role will be as spouse of the mayor. That role is also important ... I am an MLA but I am not there on behalf of the provincial government."