An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IF STEALING someone else’s thunder was against the law, the BC Liberals could be charged with theft.
As expected, today’s Speech from the Throne included several NDP and Green policies but there were a few surprises, too.
Admitting that “more should have been done sooner” on campaign finance reform, the speech read by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon said the Liberals will put forward new regulations banning not only corporate, union and third-party campaign donations, but also banning donations from outside B.C., including foreign.
The existing practice on the latter brought a particular heap of bad publicity on the Liberals prior to the election, which they ignored until now.
During the campaign, the NDP and Greens made proportional representation an election issue, while the Liberals pointed out British Columbians have already turned it down in two referendums.
Now, the Clark Liberals are willing to go to a third referendum. So are the NDP and the Greens, though Green leader Andrew Weaver initially wanted prop rep implemented without benefit of a public vote.
And those tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges? NDP leader John Horgan gained important Lower Mainland votes by campaigning to remove them. Now the Liberals will take them off “as quickly as possible.”
Not only that but if they hold on to power they’ll dramatically increase rapid transit in the Lower Mainland, even looking at a high-speed rail link between Vancouver and Seattle.
Health funding — one of the Opposition’s main targets — will go up too. A new Minister of State for Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery will be created, wait times reduced, 112 more GPs trained, access to MRIs accelerated, and the MSP eliminated.
More housing for middle-income families, bridging the urban-rural divide, raising the carbon tax, reviewing school funding — it’s all there.
One thing the government didn’t back down on — Site C. It’s needed to transition the economy away from carbon and provide “an abundance of clean energy,” the Speech said.
Kamloops got a couple of mentions, once in a vague reference about the need for more transit, and again in a promise to build new engineering schools here and in Prince George.
The program laid out in the Speech is all about “a better balance” between economic, social and environmental priorities, according to Clark.
None of it will go anywhere, of course, except after the NDP-Green alliance takes over. Then, the Liberals will be in the position of having to support much of the new government’s program.
The New Democrats and Greens were naturally dismissive of the Speech. Andrew Weaver said the Liberals are simply adopting a lot of B.C. Green policies. Kamloops-North Thompson NDP president Michael Crawford said it’s “time for the Legislature to defeat the Christy Clark Liberals.”
Doesn’t sound like Clark is going to gain the proverbial confidence of the Legislature she would need to hold on to power.