There is a different atmosphere in the Legislature these days as our new government starts making changes that will help to build a better BC. Unfortunately, there is one new negative element: with the roles reversed and the BC Liberals now in opposition, the atmosphere of Question Period has become more raucous and nasty.
It was a huge privilege to stand and vote in favour of our bill to take big money out of politics. This is landmark legislation which bans corporate and union donations and will cap the amount any one person can donate to a political party at $1,200 a year. This is the second lowest level in Canada: only Quebec has a lower limit at $100. The legislation also reduces the amount political parties can spend on elections which, hopefully, will help to clean up the electoral system. We were not surprised to see the BC Liberals vote against the bill.
Our package of democratic reforms continued when we introduced a bill that may lead the way to proportional representation (PR). A referendum on changing the electoral system will be held by November next year. If it is decided to make the shift to PR, discussions would then be held on what sort of PR to adopt.
We’re also changing the fixed election date from May to a Saturday in October. This will mean that people will go to the polls after the budget has been debated and the true financial state of the province revealed.
It’s also good to be part of a government that is trying to reintroduce fairness for people. People receiving disability assistance will receive a supplement which can be used for an annual bus passes, HandyDart or to pay family or friends for transportation.
Through the last 16 years as opposition we often described “professional reliance” in environmental assessment and monitoring as “the fox watching the chicken house”. Our Minister for Environment and Climate Change Strategy has announced a review of this model to ensure the highest professional, ethical and technical standards are being used when it comes to resource management.
I have been answering many questions from the opposition in Question Period about transportation issues, many of which stem from the time they were government. I am happy to defend our – short at this time – record and explain any decision I have made on the file.
I am also happy to work collaboratively with members of the opposition where possible. For instance, I met with a number of MLAs whose constituents will be badly affected by the potential withdrawal of Greyhound bus service in their communities.
At the end of last month, I spent a week at the Union of BC Municipalities conference. The time was filled with discussions about highways, transit and ferries with regional districts and municipalities around the province. In all, I had about 70 meetings at UBCM as well as participating on a Government panel about the economy.
The coming week also will be busy even though we are not in session because of the Thanksgiving break. I am joining the Premier, and Ministers of Agriculture and Indigenous Affairs in Alert Bay for a meeting in the Big House about aquaculture in the area. I’ll then be on the road with meetings in Vancouver ahead of a tour of the Trans Canada Highway between Golden and Kamloops.
Feel free to contact me through the constituency office on 250 287 5100 in Campbell River, or 250 949 9473 in Port Hardy. You can also reach me by email at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org.