As my first MLA report for some time, I would like to thank people in the North Island for giving me the opportunity to continue to represent them in Victoria. It is a privilege and honour to stand up and give voice to people across the North Island.
The Legislature was called back earlier than usual, because of the need to pass the budget. With the election this spring the budget was put on hold and now we are going to be faced with a new set of figures next week.
This week was the official opening of the Legislature in which the government set out its plans for the coming session.
It is pretty frightening. The Throne Speech brought with it the spectre of massive cuts to services, the determined move to the industrialisation of our rivers and, of course, the push to bring in the 12 percent HST.
There was little in it which could be interpreted as good news for people in the North Island. The government says that the HST will help revitalise our forest industry, but just how that will happen is unclear.
It says the tax will help businesses but my office has been inundated with letters from businesses who are aware that they will be adversely affected with this new tax. People who run restaurants, bed and breakfasts and resorts know this tax is not good for their businesses.
Seniors and others on fixed incomes will find that they will be paying more for their home heating, for hydro and for other goods are very worried – they received no answers from the government on how they are supposed to deal with this reality when it’s introduced next year.
The HST is just one aspect of a speech which provides nothing for rural communities or for forest dependent communities. Instead there are red flags about cuts to health care and education. Perhaps the speech should be looked at by its omissions: nothing about job creation, about homelessness, about poverty or about child care.
While an election gives a government a mandate, it does not give a government the right to act in a high handed manner. People concerned about the sell off of our rivers, in particular the proposal to industrialise Bute Inlet, should shudder at the line in the Throne Speech which says the BC Utilities Commission will be given “specific direction”. The BCUC recently ruled that the proposals such as that for Bute were not in the public interest; it looks like that will now be overturned.
While I have not yet given my response to the throne speech, I was able to talk about Bute
at the beginning of the session.
I have also been elected to a new role within the Legislature. I was very honoured to get the unanimous support of the house to be elected one of two Deputy Speakers. The role of speaker is to ensure that our parliamentary democratic system works every day. It is, as you can imagine, a challenge in BC.
Claire Trevena, MLA
Phone: 250-287-5100 or 866-387-5100