It has been a shameful week in the Legislature. Day after day, Christy Clark and her Minister for Children and Family Development refused to answer our questions about the tragic deaths of young people who had been in the care of the government. They obfuscated, they avoided, they evaded. They did not take responsibility and they never apologized.
In addition, at a time of crisis for children in the care of the BC government, the Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth abruptly cancelled its scheduled meetings. It won’t be able to hear from the Children’s Representative or look at some of the real problems facing the Ministry and, as a result, kids in care, The Liberal side says there’s a “conflict” of timing – despite these meetings having being scheduled for weeks. In reality it’s a shameful cover-up.
And during this time, when we are asking questions, trying to get answers for still grieving families, the Premier chatted and laughed with her cabinet colleagues.
Question Period is the flashpoint and often the focus for the Legislature. It gives us in the Opposition the opportunity to shine a spotlight on a broad range of issues that are important to people. I raised the prospect of increased fares for public transit (Monday qp). Victoria is looking at raising fares which would have a huge impact on seniors and students. But the government has frozen funding for BC Transit across the province so it’s likely that many communities will have to raise their fares as well.
Outside Question Period we started to debate a number of bills. Much time was spent on the changes to the Office of Auditor General for Local Government. I spoke (Monday pm) about Campbell River’s experience with the office, which was problematic. The government has now tied the Municipal Auditor’s office to the office of the Minister responsible for local government and thereby eliminating any semblance of independence. We continue to argue that there is no need for an auditor specifically for local government; BC’s own independent Auditor General is more than capable of examining the work of municipalities and regional districts.
The BC Liberal government has clearly run out of ideas after 14 years in power. The positive part of that is that it is adopting ideas we, as Opposition, have introduced into the Legislature. This week we debated a bill we first introduced as a private member’s bill last year and again this spring: the Franchises Act. It provides legal rights and remedies to BC based business owners who operate or are looking to operate a franchise. It ensures franchisees have all the relevant business information before they invest and provides certainty and consistency.
If this continues perhaps the BC Liberals will adopt our poverty reduction plan, bills to improve the working of our democracy, and the provincial shipbuilding strategy I have introduced to the Legislature several times.
As part of the Finance Committee, I have continued to hear presentations from organisations around the province. This week people in Fort Nelson, Quesnel and Cranbrook provided submissions. We will be meeting for two days in the Lower Mainland (Surrey and Richmond) next week. If you have anything you believe should be included in the provincial budget, feel free to participate by October 15th: http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/finance/budget-consultations.asp
And young people who are interested in getting a first-hand taste of the Legislature and democracy have the opportunity to participate in the BC Youth Parliament this December. This is open to people aged between 16 and 21. Financial aid is available to those not able to pay the $300 registration fee. For more information contact www.bcyp.org
This weekend sees me back in the constituency. I’ll be in Campbell River on Friday and at the celebration at the Nuyumbalees cultural centre at Cape Mudge on Saturday to mark the return of Chief Billy Assu’s historic house polls from a museum in Ottawa.
Next week the Legislature is not sitting, however I will be out of the constituency for a few days, for the Finance Committee and for critic work. 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.