Saturday, February 18, 2017

MLA's week: February 13-16, 2017

After an extended break that included the entire fall and through the Christmas and New Years period, the province's MLA's returned to their desks at the Legislature this week, answering the call of the start of the Spring Session.

With their return of Tuesday, the lengthy period of absence from the Legislature chamber for MLA's totalled close to six and half months A flipping of calendar pages which started with their last day of work in the Chamber of July 28th, 2016.

The significant gap between Summer and Spring sessions making for a timetable of employment related duties that we imagine many in the province only dream of having.

And even though they are back to the Legislature, we probably shouldn't get too used to seeing our MLA's at work.

With an election just over the horizon, it's anticipated that the Spring session won't be much of a marathon.  For a number of political observers in the province the suggestion is that the calendar will be a short one for MLA's, many of whom will be anxious to get out on the campaign trail as the May election date gets closer.

As for the work at hand, the Spring session opened on Tuesday with the Speech from the Throne, the document which provides the blue print that the Liberals have to share.

Much of that preview of the Liberal agenda for the Spring seemed very much designed with an election campaign on their minds.

Legislature back in session with election premonitions relayed through Throne Speech

Up next is the Provincial budget which arrives next week, a document that many believe will be very voter friendly and will most likely set the tone for the upcoming election campaign.

As for the work week that just concluded, our review of the notes related to the North Coast can be found below:

On the week, Ms Rice was listed three times in the accounts of the sessions of the Legislature from February 14-16

On Wednesday afternoon, the North Coast MLA offered welcome to representatives from Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams who were in the gallery.

She also made note of representatives from the Prince Rupert Port Authority who were in attendance on the day and delivered a statement related to Prince Rupert's  Fairview Terminal and its importance to the North Coast economy.

Fairview Terminal the focus for early North Coast campaign

The opening of the Thursday afternoon session found the North Coast MLA paying tribute to the work of George Westwood, who provides volunteer undertaker duties on Haida Gwaii.

Thursday afternoon also found the MLA providing the Legislature with a note of recognition towards the work of the organizers of the Women's Vigil that was held in Prince Rupert on February 14th.

MLA Rice pays tribute to Prince Rupert Women's Vigil of Valentine's Day

Ms. Rice is also a member of the Committee on Children and Youth, however that Committee did not meet during the course of the last week.

Outside of the MLA's two contributions, the North Coast did feature into much of the debate related to the Speech from the Throne. Setting the tone on economic development was Rich Coleman, British Columbia's Deputy Premier and Minister for LNG Development who used a good portion of the Thursday comment period to review some of the opportunities that could be available to area First Nations as part of the Liberal's LNG plans.

Speaking in response to a number of observations from the NDP's Doug Routley who represents a Vancouver Island riding, Mr. Coleman called attention to the recent signing of Benefits agreements between the provincial government and both Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla and the anticipation of change that comes with it.

Along with those notes, the Minister also expanded on the Liberal's goals for engagement with First Nations, as well as to note the differences between the Liberals and the NDP when it comes to development in Northern region.

You can review his full statement  from the Legislature Hansard page, Mr. Coleman's discussion points are reviewed at the 16:30 mark of the Thursday House session.

You can also watch the exchange from the House Video starting at the 2:28:00 point on the video player.

More background related to the Benefits Agreement that was signed on Wednesday can be found below:

BC's Liberal Government signs LNG agreements with Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla First Nation

The Legislature will return to its work on Monday morning, February 20.

There is more background on the North Coast MLA available from our MLA's Week Archive as well as our General Archive on the Legislature.

The Spring Session is taking place as the run up to the May election looms on the horizon, you can review some of the campaign themes that are developing on the North Coast from our North Coast Votes Archive page here.

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