As politicians we all have a duty to be accountable to our constituents and more generally to the people of the province. We should be able to account for our actions honestly and openly.
Which is why I am always saddened by the way Question Period unfolds. We know that there is a great deal of theatre in the daily half hour in which we in the opposition press cabinet ministers and the Premier for answers. Usually the ministers respond using prepared talking points, circling around the subject but almost never directly answering.
And then there are times of complete avoidance. This week, on one of the Premier’s rare appearances in the Legislature, we asked her a number of questions about commitments she’d made to people at the scene of local disasters. After a mill explosion and after the breach of the Mount Polley tailings pond she said she would be there for those affected. But she has not been back and her government has done nothing for the people with whom she had her photo taken. When we asked her about this photo-op politics, she let her ministers take the questions. The Premier simply refused to stand and be accountable to the Legislature or the people of BC.
Once again she showed she will basically say anything; she knows what people want to hear but she doesn’t deliver.
It’s the same with her commitments to BC having the “cleanest LNG in the world”. This has always been her slogan but the legislation on emissions control in the LNG industry shows it is an empty promise. We continued to debate the bill which effectively ends the pretense that the government has any desire to combat climate change; effectively giving the nascent LNG industry a free ride on emissions. I spoke about the failure of leadership and the need to put real controls in place to combat greenhouse gases.
In an earlier debate we argued that it is not only possible to have both a vibrant economy and protect our land, air and water, but that it is vital. I said that they go hand-in-hand and that in communities such as ours in the North Island know that a healthy resource economy requires good stewardship of those resources.
In the continuing quest to have the BC ferry system recognized as an integral part of our public infrastructure I raised questions about the impact to the economy that the cuts have wrought . We all know how badly business is hurting in ferry dependent communities and that the fare increases have cost the province $2.3bn. But the Minister once again ignored concerns and claims everything is fine.
Under the Coastal Ferry Act, BC Ferries runs on 4 year cycles, known as performance terms. The next one – PT4—starts in 2016 but now is the chance to have some input into that. This is where long range route planning is done, as well as fare increases (also known as price caps) are decided. The BC Ferry Commissioner is looking for input and the submissions can be found at: http://www.bcferrycommission.com/reports-press/whats-new/submission-for-pt4-10-year-capital-plan-and-efficiency-plan-for-pt4-and-beyond/
The trucking industry is getting its own commissioner, to manage licenses, rates and general flow of trucks at Port Metro Vancouver. This comes out of legislation we are debating at the moment. As Transportation spokesperson for the Opposition, I voiced my concerns about the independence of that commissioner in light of the the government’s continued meddling in the ferry system, despite the existence of an independent ferries commissioner.
I’ve been working with various organisations and taxi companies to find ways to ensure safety for users of taxis and a level playing field for those operating cabs and rideshares. There’s a growing concern that app-based services in our larger communities won’t follow the existing rules which help protect cab users. http://bcndpcaucus.ca/news/horgan-calls-protection-passengers-fairness-taxi-industry/
It was a pleasure to introduce two well known constituents to the Legislature this week. Campbell River’s Chris Black and her husband Bill are passionate and ardent advocates for Cystic Fibrosis and were in Victoria as part of a lobby campaign, raising awareness of the disease among MLAs and meeting with the Health Minister.
We have one more week in the Legislature before we a constituency week, around Remembrance Day. I can always be reached by phone at my Campbell River office: 250 287 5100 or toll free at 1 866 387 5100 or in Port Hardy on 250 949 9473. My email is: Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org and feel free to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @clairetrevena.