General News · 20th April 2012
It’s been another busy week in the Legislature in which we’ve been questioning the government on their approach to our land base, specifically agriculture and food security, the environment and our forest sector.
We raised some serious concerns that deals have been done to move some of the best agricultural land in the province into a development near Delta, which is backed by a prominent Liberal donor. And we expressed our dismay with the Minister of Environment that, with federal government cuts, the command centre for an oil spill cleanup off the coast of BC is in Montreal. The minister of environment said blithely, not to worry, which of course creates a concern in itself, particularly with the threat of tanker traffic. This from a government that claimed to be a friend of the environment.
I raised some of these concerns, as well as questioning the continuing lack of vision for forestry from the BC Liberals, when speaking to Bill 26. This is an amendment to some sections of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Statutes Act. It is unfortunate that instead of looking at our amazing public resource - our forests on our lands - and working innovatively to maximise their use for everyone, the government simply tinkers with small amendments. Our caucus committee forestry tour has been finding great support for a reinvestment in the land base and forest health as well as finding a balance which does not entail the massive export of raw logs at the cost of processing jobs in BC. The opportunities are great for our vast land base and our communities, but have been squandered with 11 years of BC Liberal government mishandling and indifference.
Likewise I addressed the misguided public policy direction over the introduction of smart meters by BC Hydro. Instead of allowing the BC Utilities Commission to do its job and assess the $1 billion programme, the government forced our public utility, BC Hydro, to push ahead with the scheme. The fallout continues with people facing massive spikes in their bills as well as the continuing concern about safety and privacy. Institutions such as BCUC are there for a purpose; overriding them is yet another sign of a blinkered arrogant government.
As critic for children and families I asked the Minister of Children and Family Development in question period how she could guarantee child safety when social workers are facing overwhelming caseloads. I am also asking her a number of detailed questions about her budget and plans for the Ministry as part of the budget estimates process. I started by looking at the many changes the Ministry has undergone over the last few years and the impact some many changes in a relatively short time have on service delivery. And I began questioning the government’s poverty strategy: Port Hardy has been designated by the Ministry for a pilot project it yet appears it won’t be getting any resources from the provincial government. There is a fundamental problem with the BC Liberal one-off approach to poverty reduction: it does not tackle the systemic issues which cause and entrench poverty.
I also tabled a motion urging the Legislature to ensure that the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child is taken into account when considering all legislation. Canada is a signatory to the Convention but in BC we fall far behind on many of the standards, making a mockery of any attempt to say there is a “families first” approach.
I found out some more details about the pilot jobs plan which the government has been promoting for Campbell River. It appears that most of the work is being devolved to Rivercorp, which has an active and engaged board, but it turns out the government is not investing directly in the project. There is no question that the government hopes to see results ahead of the next general election. I strongly endorse that hope; indeed it is the desire of the whole of the North Island that, as fast is possible, we create employment to keep our communities strong. A follow-up meeting in Campbell River with the Minister will be held in the late spring or early summer.
I had the chance to tell the Legislature about the good work being done by the Campbell River Head Injury Support Society and to urge continued support as the Society starts to work on expanding its supported housing.
Outside the Legislature I had a meeting with the Ministry about high speed internet connectivity across the North Island. There is some short term good news, with increased bandwidth coming for Port Alice, Port Hardy and Quadra Island which should help ease some of the problems. However this still does not meet the needs of all our communities and I will continue negotiations to increase access.
I’m in the Campbell River constituency office on Friday, at the AGM of the North Island Woodlot Association on Saturday, and taking part in Earth Day activities on Sunday.
I can always be reached at claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca or by phone at 1 250 287 5100 in Campbell River, 1 250 949 9473 in Port Hardy, or 1 866 387 5100 toll free; or you can friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter clairetrevena.