The Legislature is back in session for the fall, with two months of debate ahead of us. Sadly we have fallen quickly back into routine with us, the official Opposition, challenging the government while they play politics.
We are faced with fundamentally serious issues in BC but we have a government that refuses to take responsibility. This was crystallized in the sad death of an 18 year old boy in government care; left on his own in a hotel, he fell from a fourth floor window. A government with any respect for the people they work for or for the institution of parliament would have seen resignations: responsibility stops with the Minister and ultimately the Premier. The Minister is still in her job and the Premier accused the agency under whose care the boy fell as being to blame. We continued to challenge the government on this throughout the week but all we – and the people of BC – received were platitudes.
Instead, of taking on serious problems facing our province the BC Liberals used this first week back to have a debate about the Site C dam and to introduce some redundant legislation. The motion about Site C had been introduced by the Energy Minister in May but was only tabled this week, well after construction has begun. It was wordy but effectively said that Site C would be “the most affordable way” to produce energy for the province. We argued that at a starting price of $8 billion this was hardly affordable, and questioned why the BC Liberals had avoided putting the project before the independent regulator, the BC Utilities Commission. Site C will devastate farmland and will create energy at a huge cost that we simply don’t need. Much more effective and labour intensive are the smaller scale, new, green technologies (hydro, with its dependence on water is, of course, an environmentally friendly) such as solar and wind powered electricity generation.
The BC Liberals also brought in the “Red Tape Reduction Day Act”. Since the cabinet shuffle in the summer, BC now has a Minister responsible for cutting bureaucracy. This is strange as we have already seen a huge number of regulations and so-called “red tape” being slashed in the last 14 years of the BC Liberals at a huge cost to our society. Regulations are put in place for public protection – whether the protection of workers, of the environment or individuals – and the determined erosion of regulations leaves many areas and people vulnerable. From workplace accidents to degradation of our land base, we have seen very clearly what “red tape reduction” really means to the BC Liberals.
The government also brought in legislation which will change the way the much derided Auditor General for Local Government operates. The creation of this office was a pledge by Christy Clark when she was running for leadership. The reality has been a dismal failure with almost no audits completed and millions of dollars spent. Under the government’s new proposal the allegedly independent office comes directly under ministerial control. We continue to argue, along with municipalities and regional districts, that an auditor general specific to local government is unnecessary. BC already has an auditor general who is more than able to investigate local authorities if needed.
I have written to the Minister of Health and the CEO of Island Health (link to news release) urging that parking remain free when our new hospital opens in Campbell River. I am very concerned about the imposition of fees. It adds cost to accessing care, stress to families and is an anomaly in Campbell River where there is almost no paid parking.
I also spoke in the Legislature about Port Hardy’s move to be a Bear Smart community. (tues 2 min) After the issue came under the spotlight this summer when a problem bear was killed leaving two cubs the town is looking at ways to safeguard against any repetitions.
In September, I was appointed to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, an all-party committee that hears from individuals and organizations on what they would like to see in the provincial budget. Usually the committee travels around the province through September but with the Legislature back in session that has been limited. We did meet several times this week in Victoria with people participating by teleconference and Skype. Submissions to the committee can be made (in writing, in audio or video) until October 15th. Details of how to participate can be found at: http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/finance/budget-consultations.asp
This weekend sees me back in the constituency. I have the pleasure of addressing a class at Discovery Passage Elementary in Campbell River on Friday. Then on Sunday, I head back to Victoria for another week in the Legislature. But I can always be reached by email at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone in Campbell River on 250 287 5100, in Port Hardy on 250 949 9473 or toll free at 1 866 387 5100. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @clairetrevena or check out my web page www.clairetrevena.ca.