Tag Archives: BC Legislature

Spring Legislative Session – Costs Up, Jobs Down, Promises Broken

The B.C. Liberal government rises from the spring legislative session today after driving up families’ costs, shedding more B.C. jobs and breaking key election promises.

“While too many British Columbians are struggling to find family-supporting jobs, the B.C. Liberals choose to pile on new costs,” said New Democrat leader John Horgan.

Statistics Canada data shows B.C. had the worst jobs record in Canada this past year, suffering a net loss of 4,400 jobs.

Instead of helping the now nearly 150,000 unemployed British Columbians, the B.C. Liberals opened the session by imposing new increases to MSP fees, ferry fares and hydro rates. Since the B.C. Liberals were first elected, they have increased average MSP fees 92 per cent, ferry fares 63–­88 per cent and hydro rates 64 per cent. The government also refused to end the punitive clawback of child support payments for single parents on disability and other income supports, reinforcing B.C.’s country-worst child poverty rate.

“The B.C. Liberals not only ignore the needs of B.C. families, they ignore their own slogans,” added Horgan. “They broke their promise to protect our food supply and broke their promise to bring stability to B.C.’s schools.”

After promising to protect agricultural land during the 2013 election, the government is set to ram through a law without public consultation by the end of Thursday, stripping protection from 90 per cent of BC’s farmland.

And after promising to bring labour peace with B.C. teachers, the premier escalated tensions during bargaining by publicly accusing teachers of making negotiations “all about money… never about quality of education,” despite leading a government that took away the right for teachers to negotiate class size and composition to improve quality.

“British Columbians deserve a government that listens and makes their lives easier, not harder,” said Horgan. “It’s clear the B.C. Liberals aren’t interested in being that government, so I plan on spending the summer talking to British Columbians about how New Democrats can make their lives better.”

B.C. New Democrats Introduce Legislation to Ensure Fall Sitting

New Democrats continued to push for legislative reform by introducing legislation that would ensure there is a fall sitting every year.

“The B.C. Liberal government has consistently chosen to invoke time limits and closure on key pieces of legislation to avoid a fall session and duck accountability,” said New Democrat House Leader John Horgan. “It’s clear that without firm rules in place, the B.C. Liberals will choose to hide from the public, rather than ensuring we are passing the best legislation, and they are being accountable for their actions.”

This bill has been introduced twice before by members of the Opposition after the government chose to cancel the fall session. The B.C. legislature only sat for a total of 36 days in 2013, the fewest number of days in any year since 2001.

In addition to the Parliamentary Calendar Act introduced Thursday, Horgan also put forward the Standing Committee Reform Act on Feb. 27 that would see an increase in the number of legislative committees, expand their mandates, set minimum standards for meeting, and have them report directly to the legislature.

“It’s wrong to rush through legislation, and drop the ball on important issues just so the government can hide from tough questions,” said Horgan. “The public deserves better – and New Democrats will continue to make constructive suggestions that will improve democracy for British Columbians.”

Tour of the BC Legislature Building

Over the weekend I was on assignment in our provincial capital, the lovely city of Victoria. Seeing as I was there I thought it behooved me to take a tour of the building in which our legislative assembly sits on rare occasions.

Approaching the BC Legislature

Approaching the BC Legislature

As you approach the building, the grand entrance looms majestically above. And then you see the chain across the grand entrance barring all but the Queen and her representative from entering through these doors. Us proletarians are forced to use the small door to the left of the grand entrance.

Just like the guards who stand on guard of Buckingham Palace, there is a rent-a-cop leisurely standing by the entrance to our legislature. His uniform and hat are not nearly as majestic as the Buckingham Palace guards but he does have his arms crossed and scowl on his face pretty well all the time. His face, like the faces of the Buckingham Palace guards was unchanging.

However, once inside the building you can turn to the left and there is a pleasant young lady sitting there who can tell you when the next public tour will be held. Or you can turn to your left and find more of the scowling security types who would rather you go away and leave them to watch their YouTube videos of new weaponry (as they were doing when I approached).

Once I told them that I was in their office on official government business, they took me a little more seriously. I told them I was there to see Adrian Dix. Adrian may not like to hear this but they had no idea who he is. He needs to work a little harder closer to home I think.

I said maybe they know Eric from Adrian’s office. No better. I suggested they call Adrian’s office, seeing as they were expecting me and all…so they did.

I was confirmed as a guest. Handed over my driver’s license in exchange for a cool little security pass that you pass in front of a thing beside a door and presto, the doors open. Cool. They told me to go through the rotunda, down the hall, up the stairs, past the sign saying the dining room is downstairs and then along a hallway to the…the reality is I couldn’t even find my way out of their office.

Eric from Adrian’s office promptly arrived and took me on the “behind the scenes” tour I wanted. Of course there were areas even he is not allowed to go into. Like the BC Liberal wing of the building. I thought that was pretty cool. When I tried to slide out the side door to get into the BC Lib wing I was denied access by young Eric.

No Access

No Access

I was taken to the Legislature Library. That building is spectacular beyond belief. The marble columns and floor were truly breath-taking. The young librarian sitting at the desk seemed quite nonplussed by here environment but it was spectacular.

Legislature Library

Legislature Library

As were walking through the hallways I did see some of the stuff that the public cannot see. For example, I saw the hallway that leads to where Joy McPhail and Jenny Kwan had their offices while they were the only two elected NDP members.

Entrance to Joy McPhail's Old Office

Entrance to Joy McPhail's Old Office

I also saw the legislative press gallery. This part of the building looked the most lived in of all of the building that I saw. Quite comfortable looking.

The dining room was not busy. Apparently they are open for business even though the legislature only sat for four days out of the last 260-some days. When I asked about coming in for lunch the following day the lady in the dining room was quite concerned that I was not going to make reservations.

Speaking of the legislature only sitting for a few days a year, I believe I now understand why.

Lock on Legislature

Lock on Legislature

This massive pad lock holds the gates of the legislature shut. I overheard two guys in coveralls talking about the lock. Apparently the keys to this lock have been misplaced and nobody wants to say so publicly. It is quite embarrassing for the government.

Even though we are unable to get inside the legislative chamber, we could peer inside over the locked gates. The thing that struck me about the hall is how really small it is. It is nowhere near as spacious as I thought it would be.

Also, up above the MLA’s seats, you can see the visitor’s gallery. One seat in the upper row had some papers strewn about and a coffee cup on the arm of the chair. Rumour has it that this is the seat that Premier Christy Clark has chosen.

Legislature

Legislature

My tour was abruptly cut off at that point when the security people realized that my tour guide had gone back to work and left me on the public tour. The story gets a bit muddled here but let’s just say that there will be no legal action taken by either party as long as I do not return to the Legislature with my roller blades. It really was a bit of confusion…as they say, no harm no foul.

Security Coming

Security Coming

And finally, I was only trying make pleasant conversation when I asked the security dude if he carrying a sidearm. I suggest you not ask.