Friday, February 15, 2019

Quiet week for Northwest MLA's as Legislature returns

A new session of the British Columbia Legislature was opened
with the Speech from the Throne on Tuesday

The British Columbia Legislature returned from its extended holiday period break on Tuesday, with MLA's gathering to bring an end to the fall session and receive the Speech from the Throne from Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin.

For the most part, the work of both North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and Skeena's Ellis Ross appears to have been done outside of the Legislature Chamber, with neither of the northwest members appearing in the minutes of the Legislature sessions from Tuesday to Thursday.

In an update for Prince Rupert residents, Mayor Lee Brain did make note of some  discussions that he had with the MLA and Premier Horgan as part of the Legislature opening.

The focus for the week was the Speech from the Throne, which is basically the blue print that the NDP Government has laid out for the approach that they plan to take as the work of the legislature continues through the spring and summer.

Among some of the themes that the Premier and his cabinet intend to follow up on this year are more initiatives for affordable housing, a freeze on ferry fares as well as reforms for ICBC as that agency faces some significant losses on its operations.

The provincial government has also indicated its plans to continue on with its Clean BC Plan as well as to celebrate the province's rich history and culture including the establishment of a Chinese Canadian museum to honour the contributions of the Chinese community to British Columbia.

Relations with Indigenous residents will also claim a major portion of the provincial agenda this year, with the province planning to build on plans to share gaming revenues and forge stronger partnerships with First Nations.

As part of that focus, the Premier has outlined that B.C. will become the first province in Canada to legislate implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

You can review some background notes on the Speech from the Throne here.

You can watch the full speech from the Lieutenant Governor from the Legislature Video Archive here.

The fist week back to work for MLA's featured a rather bizarre incident at mid week, with an abrupt end to the call for discussion on the Speech from the Throne on Wednesday afternoon.

The usual pattern for the week following the Speech is for opposition members to outline their concerns on the document, while government members spend much of their allotted time praising their own creation.

On Wednesday, the discussion stopped dead when no NDP members were available to provide for the continuation of their commentary on the document; at which point a call for a vote to receive the Speech was issued (that in itself a mini controversy over how the Speaker handled it), making for a scramble to get the required amount of MLA's into the chamber before the vote took place.

Suspicious delay after bells ring takes a toll on trust in BC legislature
NDP squeaks out narrow victory on Speech from the Throne after high drama

It was a rare procedural mis-step for the governing NDP and while it did not threaten the fate of the government, the mix up served notice that the government best not take anything for granted.

The other underlying theme for the return of the Legislature was the fallout of the drama of last fall when the Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas had two senior members of the Legislature removed from their posts, with an RCMP investigation now underway related to a range of findings that the Speaker compiled on the operations of the Legislature.

How that investigation proceeds is another element of the new session that will be worth watching as we move into the Spring and summer.

For a look at the latest notes out of Victoria see our archive pages below:

North Coast

You can also keep up with some of the breaking news and key discussion themes from the Legislature through our political portal D'Arcy McGee.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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