Excerpt from a speech by NDP leader John Horgan during Debate on the Throne Speech, Wednesday, June 28, 2017.
Horgan: … We’ve heard over the past number of days — and we heard in the throne speech, as I listened to it — things that we’ve all said during the election campaign. In fact, I remarked to my spouse last Thursday when I went home and she asked me how the throne speech went…. I said: “Well, I recall saying much of what came out of the Lieutenant-Governor’s mouth.” It was refreshing to know that what we ran on, what we committed to in our platform and in our election campaign was reflected in that document.
But it did give us pause. Fifty-seven percent of those who cast ballots cast ballots for parties not represented by the B.C. Liberals. And for us, that strikes a disconnect with what the government is saying about what they heard and what we actually physically heard and saw on the election campaign….
For me, when I hear people talk about public education, I’m reminded of a 16-year battle between the government, on that side, and teachers and children and parents, administrators and trustees. That was my reality. That’s the reality that we heard when we knocked on doors. That’s the reality that we heard when the Supreme Court ruled in less than 20 minutes that the government had violated the rights of a class of citizens.
So when we hear the government say, “We’re listening,” we’re wondering where you were for the past 16 years. Why weren’t you listening in 2005 and in 2009 and in 2013? And why is it only now, when you no longer command a majority of members in the House, that you decide that the ideas on this side are now relevant to the broader population?
I heard the Premier say today to the hon. member for Maple Ridge–Mission that he should represent all members of his constituency. I am confident that he will, and I’m confident that every single person in this House will represent all of their constituents. But we have a broader obligation when we come and take up our seats here. The party, the group of members, with the majority of support are to take over the government and deliver the services that people want. The majority of support in this Legislature will be the government of the day. I expect some time tomorrow that’s going to happen.
That does not diminish the enthusiasm and the intent and the values of the people on the other side of the House. It’s a numeric reality, and it’s a reality that is a result of 16 years, in my opinion, of ignoring critical issues by those on that side of the House, the government represented by those on that side of the House.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
Medical services premiums are now topical. The member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head and people on this side of the House in the last session railed against the government about doubling medical services premiums on the most vulnerable. Many people in this province had to pay a hidden tax, when no other citizens in Canada had to pay. If you made $40,000 a year or made $400,000 a year, you paid the same amount of medical services premiums. We on this side of the House felt that was wrong. It was not fair, and we campaigned against it.
The government is now including it in their throne speech. Although they did mention it in their budget, they said we were going to do something next year.
We on this side of the House campaigned to do something right now, and we intend to do something right now when we’re given the opportunity.
Tuition fees have tripled. Hydro rates have gone up 87 percent since 2001. That’s a hidden tax. That’s a cost for people that they cannot absorb…. That’s why British Columbians are saying it’s time for change….
The writing is on the wall. We expected the B.C. Liberal Party, which I have been sitting across from for the past decade and a bit, to stand and to deliver a throne speech that represented the values that they have put forward in election after election after election and have stood in this place and defended in throne speech after throne speech after throne speech. Instead, we had the bizarre phenomenon of hearing Green platform planks being put forward and New Democrat platform planks being put forward as if they were now all of a sudden the best ideas that the government could find.
Well, I agree. They were the best ideas the government could find, but they’re not their ideas.
I know there are many members on that side of the House who find it anathema to be sitting and listening to an NDP and Greens throne speech being delivered, and I know there are many outside of this House that are exercised that the party that they felt stood for a certain set of values has somehow abandoned those values for one fundamental principle, and that was clinging to power. It doesn’t sit well on you, hon. Members. It doesn’t sit well on this place.
The challenge we all have now is that there is a genuine desire to work together. We must work together, all 87 of us, and again, a quarter of us representing their community for the first time….
I want to make a commitment here and now that, going forward, I believe all 87 of us should be valued members of this House. That has not been my personal experience over the past decade and a bit. I want to make a commitment to the ten new Liberals and, absolutely, to the 14 New Democrats and the two Green MLAs who are here for the first time that a new government will work with everyone to bring forward the best of ideas.
Because although I feel passionately about what I ran on, when it is part of a government package, I think we can all find the parts that we want to support. And if we disagree, it will not be — and it should not be — the end of the world. Because as you know, families sometimes disagree. I oftentimes have to grapple with the remote control to make sure that I can watch Big Bang Theory because my spouse can’t stand Sheldon, but we work it out
We work it out. I appreciate that’s a small issue for many people, but that is, I think, representative of the challenges that we all face. We’re not always going to agree. There have been times when the member for Victoria–Beacon Hill and I have disagreed. I like a dipped cone, and she doesn’t. These are the differences we have.
But sometimes in this place, there are going to be heated exchanges, and that’s a good thing. We need to be passionate about our values, wherever we come from. But we also have to remember that at the end of the day, we were all sent here to do the best we can to make this province as best as we possibly can. A better B.C. — that’s what I campaigned on. That’s what I want to deliver in this House….
This has been a bizarre week for all of us. It’s going to be a bizarre tomorrow. I want to thank you for indulging me today, to have the opportunity to speak to the Legislature for the first time in this session. I am deeply honoured to be here. I am deeply honoured to have a team as fine and diverse as that on this side of the House.
Look at them all, smiling away, happy, ready to go, ready to roll up our sleeves and meet the commitments that we made to British Columbians seven long weeks ago.
We want to make life more affordable for British Columbians. We want to make sure they’re getting the services that they depend on, and we want the economy to work for everybody. At all times, we’re going to be focused on making life better for British Columbians.
With that, I would like to move:
Be it resolved that the motion “We, Her Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in Session assembled, beg leave to thank Your Honour for the gracious Speech which Your Honour has addressed to us at the opening of the present Session,” be amended by adding the following:
“but Her Honour’s present government does not have the confidence of this House.”]
I move that motion with the sincere hope that we can have a peaceful and just transition to a government that’s going to work for all British Columbians.
Mr. Speaker: The amendment is in order. Debate continues on the amendment.
Source: Draft transcript, B.C. Hansard.