The following statement is made on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) to clarify the role that the SBOT plays in Surrey, British Columbia, and Canada:
Since the late 1600s, Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce around the world have advocated for the interests of the business community. At times, this means that these organizations may not always agree with positions taken by various levels of government if these government positions are deemed detrimental to business. Val Litwin, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, summarizes this concept well: “Job number one for a chamber is to listen to its members. Once a chamber knows what’s keeping businesses ‘up at night’ they take those insights to government to drive change.”
The key role of the Board of Directors of the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) is to consult with our owners (who we have defined as our business members) and create goals that our CEO, Anita Huberman, and the organization must achieve. The global objective that the SBOT exists to achieve is that “its members and the wider community have a business climate conducive to their success,” and the Board has given further direction to the CEO by creating a sub-goal that “Government decision-makers have information on current and emerging issues and how their decisions impact business.”
These mission policies, developed by the Board of Directors through consultations with our owners, demonstrate our expectation that the CEO and SBOT will advocate on behalf of our membership and the wider community on issues that impact them. The SBOT is a political organization, as we do work that “relates to the government and the public affairs of our country.” We are not, however, a partisan organization. The SBOT acts in the best interest of our members, irrespective of which political party or persons are in power. It is the expectation of the Board that this nonpartisan approach always be upheld. While the SBOT’s positions may not always fully align with politicians of the day, SBOT’s mandate is to work cooperatively, wherever possible, to achieve mutual benefit for business, city, province and country. Perrin Beatty, former federal politician and current President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, describes this relationship: “I spent 21 years in Parliament and ran seven different departments. I didn’t always like what I heard from Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade but I knew that the advice they gave was invaluable. When elected officials listen to the businesses that invest in communities, employ people and provide a major portion of the tax base, they make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes. Everyone benefits.” Perrin understands that, despite occasional disagreements, governments and Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce must work together to achieve their mandates wherever possible for the benefit of their members and citizens in general. This is a sentiment that the SBOT fully supports as the voice for the concerns of our 6,000 business contacts with all levels of government.
The Board of the SBOT mandates our CEO, Anita Huberman, to enact our full vision and philosophy. Ms. Huberman has undertaken this responsibility with a high degree of integrity and success, advocating for the best interests of our business members while raising the profile of the City of Surrey as “British Columbia’s opportunity city.” The city building work that the SBOT does is appreciated in our city, our province, and our country. In fact, in 2019, the SBOT was recognized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce as one of the top three Boards of Trade in Canada for its leadership in government advocacy. Perrin Beatty reinforces this with his description of the work done by the Surrey Board of Trade: “Of the 450 Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade in our network, none works harder or contributes more constructively to public policy nationally, provincially and locally than the Surrey Board of Trade. They are truly first-rate.”
The expectation of the Board of Directors of the SBOT, as defined in the policies created by our board and motions we consider, is that our CEO and the SBOT will continue to be a strong, unbiased, independent voice for business and the wider community in Surrey and across Canada.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Board Chair, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Surrey Board of Trade