On a day when the B.C. legislature was to have reconvened for a fall sitting, New Democrats accused the Liberal government of dodging accountability by skipping the session.
Premier Christy Clark cancelled the sitting last month, saying that it’s a chance to reach out to voters rather than governing remotely from the capital.
As a result, the legislature will sit for only 36 days this year. Clark cancelled last year’s fall sitting as well.
“If the house reopened today, the Liberals would be facing questions about why hydro ratepayers are facing double-digit rate hikes after Premier Clark promised stable rates before and during the election,” NDP Leader Adrian Dix said in a new release.
The session would also provide an opportunity to end lavish raises for ferry executives and appoint an independent seniors advocate, while holding the government accountable for not formally apologizing to the Chinese community for historic wrongs or answering for the effects of the budget, he said.
Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone said the NDP’s criticisms are more showmanship than substance.
“I think it’s a lot to do about nothing, frankly. The ultimate test of a government is an election and we just won one in which we were provided with a larger mandate than going in,” Stone said.
Post-election, the legislature resumed sitting in order for the government to pass its budget as promised.
“And now we’re out there governing,” he added. “While the NDP might want far more time for all of us to be in Victoria, much of what takes place there is a lot of lightning and theatrics.”
He challenged anyone to consult Hansard from the last session and find questions of substance from the Opposition about the economy or K-to-12 education.
“They have no interest in talking about the LNG opportunities in front of us.”
Stone listed a tax regime around the new energy industry, finance committee consultations with the public over the next budget and modernization of the Water Act as some of the current focuses.
“The government’s very much hard at work.”
Dix and energy critic John Horgan noted that debating and reviewing the new LNG tax regime was on their fall agenda. They also pointed to other priorities — implementing the recommendations of the missing women’s inquiry and preventing a justice system crisis they blame on cuts to legal aid services.