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General News · 10th October 2014
Claire Trevena
We returned to the Legislature this week for the start of a two month fall session. Although we are supposed to sit every October and November, it has been the exception rather than the rule as the government continually tries to avoid accountability.
Unfortunately, it also manages to do that while we are in session by determinedly not answering direct questions in Question Period and engineering debate to suit its needs.
That engineering is transparent and it is dangerous. I have written time after time about the fact that the BC Liberals shut down discussion on bills at the end of the session – as they did at the end of May – even though it was almost certain we’d be back in the fall.
And now, instead of just starting off on Monday morning as though it was a normal, Legislative week, the House was prorogued, the Lieutenant Governor called in, and a Throne Speech read.
It wasn’t much of a Throne Speech: little more than 16 minutes long in delivery or a five minute read. But that’s really not surprising as the BC Liberals had introduced their very limited priorities for the year back at the traditional start of the session in February.
It was, also unsurprisingly, all about liquefied natural gas (LNG). But the earlier grandiose claims of hundreds of thousands of jobs, a prosperity fund, debt free BC and even a clean BC environment had disappeared as if up in smoke.
It was flimsy; it was vacuous; it was embarrassing. In my response to it I spoke about the way this, and other neo-Liberal governments, manipulate the system to suit their own ends. Whether it is refusing to answer questions or restricting debate and participation, it is playing a dangerous game. Our Legislature, like our Parliament in Ottawa, is a foundation for our civil society; undermining it for such blatant partisan purposes puts our democracy and our society at risk.
I also spoke of the government’s lack of commitment to our economic wellbeing. While the BC Liberals are focused on LNG development they neglect our infrastructure, whether that’s our ferries, our transit systems or our roads.
As a cover for the thin Throne Speech, the Minister of Transportation launched the 10 year transportation plan. It had initially been announced in the February Throne Speech and a document described as a Discussion Guide and Survey was issued on Tuesday. Vancouver Island residents have already been warned that they have had their consultations when, last month, mayors, regional directors and some business organizations were invited to closed door meetings. And of course we had last year’s pitiful charade of a so-called consultation in many communities about cuts to BC Ferries, which is why, we are told, there is no reference to ferries in a province-wide transportation plan.
However there is an online survey for anyone to complete. It is comprised of three sets of simplistic questions asking whether you Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Somewhat Disagree or Strongly Disagree to motherhood statements. For instance, it asks how strongly do you agree that “Keeping highways, bridges and side roads in good condition” contributes to “moving people and goods safely.” That is what the BC Liberals think is consultation.
And even in this bogus process, there is an LNG focus, with one of the questions in what is supposed to be a survey about transportation asks whether “supporting the development of LNG and other resource development” is a strategy for “growing the economy.”
The BC Liberals are keeping to their message no matter what the cost to our transportation infrastructure or the rest of the economy. We highlighted that in Question Period pointing out that, in spite of mill closures and mine closures, the Premier still claims all will be well, because of LNG.
I was able to pay tribute to two of our community leaders who died too young: former Port Hardy Mayor, Bev Parnham and former Zeballos Mayor, Ted Lewis. They both gave so much to their respective communities and as we head to local elections their loss is sorely felt.
It is good to see so many people running for elected office in the upcoming local elections. It is extremely healthy to have honest and open debates about priorities for our communities at the local level and elections provide ideal venues for such debates.
While we have only just returned to Victoria we will be back in our constituencies for the Thanksgiving week. Among my commitments is the reopening of the Lifeguard station in Port Hardy on Tuesday. I’ll be around other communities through the week.
I can always be reached by phone at my Campbell River office: 250 287 5100 or toll free at 1 866 387 5100. The Port Hardy office will reopen the week of October 20th and can be reached on 250 949 9473. Feel free to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter clairetrevena.
I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and best regards,
Claire