Almost seven weeks after the election, the Legislature finally returned for the Throne Speech and the next stage of an engaging time in BC politics. (It is interesting to note that in Britain this month the House of Commons resumed sitting within days of an election which too left a hung parliament.)
The session started with the election of a Speaker: Steve Thomson, BC Liberal MLA and former Minister of Forests stood unopposed and will work through the machinations of the coming week and if he chooses to stay, beyond.
The Throne Speech, as I always say, is the government’s vision. This time it was a BC Liberal conversion of epic proportions, in fact it was almost all of the NDP’s platform. The promises made ranged from investments in child care through increasing welfare rates to campaign finance reform and proportional representation. These are changes that we in the NDP have been demanding for years. We have tabled countless private members’ bills on them in the Legislature and all have been roundly rejected by the BC Liberals.
None of these promises made Thursday were in the BC Liberal budget of February nor were they in the platform they ran on in the election just two months ago. Indeed they have had 16 years to act, but only with the prospect of being ousted did they do anything.
It was in reality nothing more than a last ditch cynical attempt by Christy Clark and the BC Liberals to stay in power.
We will be back in the House next week for the debate. The Opposition will be bringing in a motion of no confidence in the government, which should be voted on next Thursday. If that is successful, the future lies in the lap of the Lieutenant Governor who will have to decide whether to ask John Horgan to form government or whether we should have another election.
In the hiatus between the election and the resumption of the Legislature I was able to turn my attention to some constituency issues.
Of particular note are developments at the new Campbell River Hospital. As most people are aware, parking meters have been installed at the site; I have been in conversation with Island Health reminding them of the NDP campaign promise that if we form government we would not allow paid parking at hospitals where it did not exist before.
The other serious concern is the helipad. It appears that while the public private partnership (P3) contract demanded a helipad rated by Transport Canada as H2, what was built was to a lower (H1) standard. This would significantly limit its use. I have taken this up with Island Health as has the Regional Hospital Board. While the current hospital has not had a helipad through construction, building one of high standard was part of the contract and is important for emergency transfers. Our hospital will be serving rural and remote areas with resource industries where air ambulance access can be vital.
I was very pleased to learn that work is soon to start on removing the diversion dam on the Salmon River. I raised the need for this last year with the then Minister responsible for BC Hydro as well as BC Hydro’s CEO; plans successfully passed the BC Utilities Commission and the removal will be in time for this year’s salmon run – soon to be unimpeded for 40km. This would not have happened without those who fight for salmon habitat in and around Campbell River and have long been campaigning for this decommissioning.
I will be back in the constituency for the weekend ahead of another week in Victoria. I can always be contacted by email at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 250 287 5100 in Campbell River, 250 949 9473 in Port Hardy or toll free at 1 866 387 5100. I’m also on Facebook, and sometimes on Twitter @clairetrevena.