Tuesday, November 22, 2022

David Eby era starts off with flurry of progressive moves as NDP leader looks to make early mark as Premier

Premier David Eby making his Question Period debut on Monday

It's been a busy few days for British Columbia's 37th Premier, David Eby who took his oath of office on Friday has been rolling out a stream of announcements in recent days, staring with his opening minutes of Friday and two initiatives to help British Columbians take on challenging financial times.

As we noted on Friday those will come with a BC Hydro rebate and an opportunity to keep a bit more of your household income at tax time.

Sunday, the new Premier was launching his program to address crime and safety in British Columbia communities, the legislation the NDP's response to a rise in repeat violent offences which they have linked to impacts of Federal law changes and Supreme Court Decisions.

“Being compassionate, concerned and taking action on mental-health and addiction issues does not mean that we have to accept repeated criminal behaviour or violence. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community. 

We are making changes to bring key groups together to keep people and communities safe – ensuring those who commit violent acts face consequences, and creating as many opportunities as possible for them to address mental-health and addiction issues to break the cycle of a life in and out of jail.” -- Premier David Eby.

From their Sunday announcement it was noted how the Safer Communities Action Plan lays out concrete steps at the provincial level to make communities safer under two tracks: enforcement, and intervention services. 

Each initiative is structured to improve co-ordination between law enforcement, community service organizations, justice system actors, health providers and people who are recovering from addiction and mental-health challenges in a collaborative, co-ordinated approach to address the issues people are seeing in their communities. 

The new legislation features six key elements, a look at those and the full scope of what the NDP have in mind can be reviewed here

Monday made for the roll out of what is shaping up as an ambitious housing policy, but one that could see the province run into some opposition from municipal government when it comes to final decision making over the types of housing to be created.

That is discussion for the days ahead, Monday it was all about the housing supply act and how Premier Eby will look to address the housing crisis in the province.

“B.C.’s housing crisis is stressing out and hurting people while it holds back our economy As a first step in my 100-day plan, we are making changes to deliver more homes for British Columbians, faster. We will work with municipalities to set housing targets and make sure the homes people need get built. For those searching for a home today, there's good news. 

We're making it possible for thousands of condos that are vacant to be rented out as soon as these new laws pass. For those worried about the future, we're setting out a new way to co-ordinate the efforts of our cities and the Province to build the homes people need quickly.” -- BC Premier David Eby

Towards the legislation, in their announcement of Monday, the BC NDP government offered up this glimpse towards the path forward.

The Province will monitor progress and work with municipalities to help address barriers to meeting housing targets and to support the increased community needs associated with targeted growth. The act enables compliance options as a last resort, should municipalities with the highest need struggle to create the conditions that are necessary to ensure housing gets built. 

 If passed, the housing supply act is scheduled to be brought into force in mid-2023. To support implementation, the Province will continue to help local governments speed up local approval processes through the continued implementation of the Development Approvals Process Review and work underway to accelerate provincial approvals.

The legislation will also provide for amendments to the Strata Property Act that will end all strata rental restoration bylaws, allowing for only restrictions when it comes to Seniors housing through the 55 and over rule.

The full scope of the Housing themes can be explored here.

The Premier received a welcome from the BC Liberal Opposition Leader Kevin Falcon on Monday afternoon prior to Question Period, but the salutations quickly gave way to some pointed questions and a sample of what is ahead as he settles into office. 

Mr. Falcon's rhetoric in his opening salvo earning a rebuke from the Speaker and call to withdraw one element of his commentary as an unparliamentary observation of comparison towards the Premier.

The main thrust of the BC Liberal's first line of questions  one that asked why the NDP government had to wait until the end of their leadership process to introduce many measures that the Opposition had been calling for over the last few years.

"I'd like to start by, first of all, welcoming the new Premier to his new role and recognizing and understanding the significant responsibilities that come along with that role. 

Now, having said that, the Premier has also been and had responsibilities as the Attorney General for the past five years. And in that role he was the architect of a failed catch-and-release policy that was responsible for an explosion of violent repeat offenders being immediately released back into communities. 

For the better part of a year, mayors, communities and this opposition have been calling for specific actions only to have the Premier first deny that there was even a problem and then spending months ignoring these very calls for some action. 

Under pressure, he announced in the spring that he would hire two consultants to spend  4 1/2 months to figure out how he should do his own job. 

Then, when he realized that the issued report was, in fact, a damning indictment of the job he had done as Attorney General, he quietly released it on the Saturday of a long weekend. But, during that time and those delays, for no other reason than a cynical political reason to delay having to make a decision until he became Premier, over 900 British Columbians became victims of violent random attacks in Vancouver alone ... 

 To the new Premier is why on earth should anyone trust that, after all this time, he has finally decided that, in fact, his government can do something to protect victims of random violent attacks?"-- BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon in the Legislature Monday afternoon

The full back and forth of Mr. Eby's debut can be found from Monday's Legislature Archive and the Question Period Video.

The Legislature is in for some long days and nights this week, this is the last week for the Fall session and to move some of the initiative forward, the legislature day has been extended with yesterday's proceedings not wrapping up until just before 9PM.

The members have three more days ahead before the end of the Fall session, which will make for a break through Christmas and into the New Year before a return to the Chamber for MLAs.

More notes on the work of the Northwest MLA's can be reviewed from our archive page.

A look at yesterday's news out of Victoria can be found as part of our political blog D'Arcy McGee and our Victoria Viewpoints feature.

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