Debate in the Legislature during Question Period on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, the last day of the Second Session, 41st Parliament, between interim Opposition Leader Rich Coleman, and Premier John Horgan:
R. Coleman: This is a government of reviews, avoiding decisions and broken promises. From housing to transportation to hydro rates and taxpayer-funded political parties, the Premier has found it very difficult to keep his promises.
When he was asked about his broken promise on taxpayer-subsidized political parties, he had this to say: “I would call it an amended promise.” I don’t know when the promise was made during the election that said, “I have the right to amend all my promises in the future and break them through an amendment,” but that’s what’s going on.
You make a commitment, then you break it, then you call it amended. Can the Premier tell this House why he decided to break — oh, I mean, amend — his promise and award millions of taxpayers’ dollars to political parties?
Hon. J. Horgan: I just want to comment on the member from Langley moustache. I’ll be sad to see it go, as will I be sad to see the one on the member beside him go at the end of November — not going to happen.
It is the last day of question period, as you know, and I’m delighted to stand and respond to the member’s question. He asked about the commitments and promises that this side of the House made during the election campaign, and I’m very, very pleased to say that on the question of reducing MSP premiums by half, we’ve delivered on that.
I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to say when it comes to increasing disability rates and income assistance rates for the first time in a decade, we’ve delivered that promise.
I’m very, very pleased to say that we’ve reinvested in public education and thousands of teachers have been hired so that we’ve class size and composition rules and regulations that make it easier to learn and easier to teach.
And although we only have a half hour and I have a very long list, I’ll leave the member another opportunity to ask a question.
R. Coleman: For the reduction of MSP premiums you’re doing on January 1 that we were doing anyway, you’re welcome, Premier.
Unfortunately for British Columbians, the NDP and the Premier are fine with amending, bending and, in actual fact, breaking his promises. Here’s what he said when he was asked about giving British Columbians a choice of a yes-or-no question on a referendum on electoral reform. His answer was: “Yeah, exactly.” What the media probably didn’t hear, “but I have the right to amend it later if I want to” — sounds pretty clear to me.
We’re finding that the Premier is fine with amending his promises and not actually keeping them.
Mr. Speaker: Members, we shall hear the question.
R. Coleman: Surely, the Premier realizes that he has said one thing and done another again. Can the Premier tell British Columbians why he chose to break his promise — oh, amend his promise — on a matter that is so important that it seeks to change the way elections are held in British Columbia?
Hon. J. Horgan: Again, I thank the member for his question about how we elect representatives to this place.
Of course, we’re very, very proud on this side of the House that one of the first bills that we put in this House was banning big money and getting union and corporate donations out of B.C. politics.
I’m also very pleased that we committed to electoral reform, and there is a bill before the House today that will be passed — I am confident by the end the day — that will allow the citizens of British Columbia to vote on a new way of electing representatives in this great institution. I’m excited about that. We’re excited about that.
I’m hopeful based on the comments from many of the members about electoral reform — the member from False Creek, who said it was high time. The member for Kamloops–South Thompson said that he was committed to enabling a third referendum. I know he’ll be voting in favour of our bill today. The member for Richmond-Steveston: “The discussion around electoral reform is a key facet of our democracy, and renewing a healthy debate of our system is important.” I know he agrees with me. I know he agrees with my colleagues and will be supporting our bill at the end of the day.
Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Official Opposition on a second supplemental.
R. Coleman: You know, British Columbians deserve a Premier and a government who take responsibility for the promises they make and follow through on them in the way they’ve done them.
He and his Green partners have broken the promise — oh, I mean amended the promise — on taxpayer-funded political parties. He’s broken his promise — or, I’m sorry; amended the promise — for a simple referendum for electoral reform, which was going to be a yes-or-no question. He’s broken his promises — I mean, amended his housing promises — on housing that have evaporated in some amended aspirational goal, which means it will never happen.
He’s cancelled the Massey Tunnel replacement project. He’s still dragging out the Site C decision until Christmas, which could affect 3,000 people working in the site.
My question to the Premier: How can British Columbians have any faith in this Premier when he clearly breaks — I mean, amends — his promise at a whim, politically, rather than delivering to the people of British Columbia?
Hon. J. Horgan: I’m pleased that the member, who has a good depth of knowledge on housing files, raised the housing issue, because we have already, in 16 weeks, invested in 1,700 new affordable housing units as well as 2,000 modular units.
Mr. Speaker: Members, if we may hear the response, please.
Hon. J. Horgan: The member who asked the question will also know that there used to be a big loophole about fixed-term leases. He said year after year after year that he was going to get to it, but it was complicated. It didn’t take us very long. We closed that loophole.
While I have the floor — and I appreciate I only have a half an hour — I want to pay tribute to the member opposite, the Leader of the Opposition. This will be his last day as Leader of the Opposition as the opposite party selects a new leader.
Twenty-one-and-a-half years…. He corrected me. Twenty-one-and-a-half years of service to this institution. We have disagreed almost every day of our time together, but I do hold the member in very high regard. He knows that. I’m grateful for the work that he did to step up and assist the opposition in what was a difficult transition for them. He has, in his own way, made it a little bit more difficult for me — but not today. [Applause.]
Source: BC Hansard (draft transcript)