Sunday, May 4, 2014

BC Liberal Government deflects NDP's Highway of Tears transportation issue

The subject of a shuttle bus transit system for the Highway of Tears has been a frequent topic of interest for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, with the MLA making the issue her top priority since her arrival in Victoria one year ago.

Over the Easter break of the Legislature, Ms. Rice along with NDP MLA's  Maurine Karagiannis and Carole James, did a tour of Northern British Columbia.

A trip designed to highlight the potential dangers for women, that travel the Highway 16 corridor, also known as the Highway of Tears.

MLA's call for action along Highway of Tears
NDP Tour calls for a bus
NDP MLA's to travel B. C. Highway of Tears
Highway of Tears cries out for public shuttle bus
NDP Tour Highway of Tears, Demanding Shuttle Service Along Route
MLA's highway road trip hopes to help end the tears
NDP MLA's Tour Highway 16 calling for better transportation (video)

The trio took their concerns to the Legislature on Tuesday morning, providing a short review of their trip along the highway and their desire to see the Provincial Government act on recommendations from the Oppal Commission regarding the transportation situation in the North.

MLA Rice offered up some of her past themes to the conversation, as well, she offered up a passionate and gripping account of the dangers that can be associated with travel along the highway for women.

I would agree that the northern connections bus is a great service for health appointments. But if I had a counselling appointment, that bus won't take me to see my psychiatrist. If I had a court date that would determine whether I would keep my children or not, that bus won't get me to court. Whether I could get groceries or not — that bus does not get me to do groceries. It does not allow me to do groceries. 

Last week I drove Highway 16 from Prince Rupert to Prince George with some of my colleagues. We listened to the people along the highway. They told us a shuttle bus would make a difference in their communities and in their lives. One of the people we met was Marlene Swift. Marlene experienced terrible violence on this highway. She was abducted, she was raped, and she was beaten and only managed to escape by crawling through the woods to safety. She told us: "If it saves one person, it is worth the cost." 

Will the Minister of Justice show that she agrees by committing to bringing shuttle bus service to communities along Highway 16?

For the Government's part of the discussion, the Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton, recounted some of the steps taken by the Provincial Government in the way of Transit funding, as well as the option of the Northern Health Connections bus.

In addition to those observations, Ms. Anton reviewed the private transportation options that are available by bus and rail. Suggesting that conditions were considerably safer than they were fifteen years ago.

Those were answers that didn't resonate particularly well with the opposition members who took the Minister to task for some of her observations, highlighting for her that the Government's actions thus far as well as the current transportation options don't quite meet the recommendations of Justice Oppal's Commission.

You can review the full debate from the Legislature Archives for Tuesday morning, the discussion starts at the 1030 mark in the index and continues on until 1045.

You can also view the debate from the Video Archive for the Tuesday Morning session.
The conversation starts at the thirty one minute mark of the Video player.

The discussion in the Legislature was featured by the Prince George Citizen last week:

 Highways 'safer' than in the past: BC Liberals

For more items on the work in the Legislature see our Archive page.

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