By PETER MILOBAR
MLA, Kamloops-North Thompson
THE SPRING LEGISLATIVE SESSION has come to an end, and John Horgan and the NDP will no doubt be scrambling to explain their many failures over the past few months.
One of the main disappointments for me has been watching the premier fumble and bumble his way through the issue of skyrocketing gas prices. A year ago, he told British Columbians he had options in mind for providing relief at the pumps but didn’t act on any of them, leading to the situation we find ourselves in today. While our Official Opposition called on him to lower some of the provincial taxes applied to gas prices, he chose not to do anything.
Now, he’s going to the B.C. Utilities Commission to “get answers” on B.C.’s high gas prices, but has told the commission it’s not allowed to look at government policy or taxation in its analysis. It makes you wonder how serious he truly is about getting to the bottom of this issue and relieving the pressure on your pocketbook.
When it comes to the Trans Mountain pipeline, the B.C. Court of Appeal recently ruled unanimously against the NDP plan to regulate pipeline contents. The courts were clear: the province had no case and the NDP was ‘disingenuous.
This was simply a political exercise by Premier Horgan to appease his activist friends. But instead of moving forward and trying to work productively with the rest of the country, we see Horgan and Attorney General David Eby vowing to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada which will likely prove to be another waste of taxpayer dollars.
This session has also seen Premier Horgan and the NDP introduce a number of pieces of flawed legislation that trample on people’s rights — with no consultation preceding it. Bill 15 removes a farmer’s right to apply directly to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to request an exclusion of their own property from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
Additionally, they will no longer be asked for their consent when the commission wants to exclude their land from the ALR. The NDP is stripping away the fundamental rights of landowners and effectively taking control of agricultural land with these heavy-handed moves.
The NDP has also plowed ahead with a draft plan on caribou recovery without property consulting the local governments, stakeholders and outdoor enthusiasts who would be most affected. The Official Opposition has tabled two petitions with a combined number of nearly 30,000 signatures by concerned citizens, who are calling for greater transparency in a process that will have tremendous economic and social consequences for the rural communities involved.
Meanwhile, discriminatory practices have also flourished under this government. Their Community Benefits Agreement requires workers to join a union to be eligible to work on major public infrastructure initiatives, such as the Highway 1 transportation improvement projects from Kamloops to the Alberta border.
The NDP is taking away the fundamental right of workers to choose not to unionize and, more specifically, have set out 19 select, hand-picked unions for them to join — conveniently, unions that are friendly to the NDP. It’s also worth noting the first of the Highway 1 projects, the Illecillewaet four-laning east of Revelstoke, is already 35 per cent over budget.
Another NDP measure affects about 17,000 community care workers in our province. Recent government announcements with respect to wage redress are now creating further disparity between private sector employees and unionized employees who are providing exactly the same level of care, for the same level of work. A significant wage increase will go to the unionized employees and not the private sector ones.
The NDP has also chosen to move 4,000 private home support workers back into government. Existing contracts with the private care providers will not be renewed, and these workers will be forced to join a health authority — in other words, become unionized.
These are just a few examples of how ideology and activism are woven through everything the NDP does. They are more concerned with pleasing their loyal supporters and friends than protecting the interests of British Columbians.
It will be interesting to see how things unfold over the coming months, as the NDP’s 19 new or increased taxes slow down our economy and cause further damage to our province. After two years in office, it is apparent John Horgan still has no plans to address these serious issues or make life any more affordable for you and your family.
Peter Milobar is the MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson.