MONDAY THE B.C. LEGISLATURE will be back in session. So what will be coming out of this new session?
For the BC Green Party, interim leader Adam Olsen informed me that they have provided the NDP government of Premier John Horgan with a document outlining a comprehensive list of policy initiatives, which they say will … encompass a green recovery to the economic crisis we face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Generally, those initiatives included but are not limited to:
- Using CleanBC as a guiding strategy for B.C.’s economic recovery, with a focus on recovery policies that help us reach legislated emission reduction targets;
- Prioritizing economic stimulus initiatives that advance the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) and address the structural elements that limit Indigenous self determination;
- Strengthening made-in-B.C. supply chains, to create more jobs in B.C. and make our economy more resilient to future shocks
- Ending fossil fuel subsidies and instead investing into strategic sectors with long term sustainable growth potential … and …
- Ensuring that any “shovel ready” projects that receive funding are also “shovel worthy” projects.
Olsen went on to say they want to see government creating immediate employment opportunities across B.C., especially for young people, through environmental remediation projects, tree planting and rewilding projects. Further on the forestry side, the Green Party will be looking to see the development of a truly sustainable forestry industry that emphasizes value-added manufacturing and does not rely on logging the last remaining old growth to be viable.
Olsen observed, “As a caucus we are meeting with experts and stakeholders to ensure that we have the strongest policies and solutions to offer. We are constantly working to convince our BC NDP partners in our minority government of the urgency of adopting an ambitious green recovery.
“British Columbians have endured significant hardships from COVID-19. We must learn from our past and have the courage to take bold action to do better. Governments across all jurisdictions must prioritize long-term planning in our recovery and build a stronger and more prosperous province for our children to inherit,” he continued.
Referring back to initiatives they hope to see put in place, Greens will be looking to see the Emerging Economy Task Force and Innovation Commissioner reports as roadmaps to harness innovation across all sectors of B.C.’s economy so that the provinces remains competitive, and provides a high quality of life.
While all of those things impact the people of B.C. directly and indirectly, Greens are also looking to see increasing social supports like mental health programs — and affordable housing — in conjunction with safe supply to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
While they don’t have a seat in the Legislature, the Conservatives in B.C. have their own thoughts about what needs to be discussed in the new session of the legislature.
Speaking to me the other night, the Conservative leader, Trevor Bolin, stated that the party is “… hoping Victoria has an effective restart plan, keeping in mind the B.C. forest industry was struggling before COVID-19 … and long term plans for forestry, mining, energy and agriculture need to be included so all regions of BC can emerge stronger.”
Bolin continued, “We would support a reduction – or removal – of PST on hotels, restaurants and fuel, and a removal of the carbon tax to encourage a rebound in tourism and help all British Columbians.
“Once Dr. Bonnie Henry gives us the okay to open the province up, to more tourism, the old adage of ‘B.C.’ equals ‘Bring Cash’ needs to end. Punitive taxes have been milking tourists for years.”
As for British Columbians themselves?
“We are suffering death by a thousand punitive taxes … all consumption taxes are regressive, and,” he continued, “they impact the poor more than the wealthy.”
Meantime, over the past couple of weeks the BC Liberals, led by Andrew Wilkinson, have been busy outlining a number of things which the NDP, in their estimation, have been neglecting.
They called on the NDP government to reverse their funding cut to Independent Distributed Learning (IDL) schools. According to a Liberal media release, IDL schools were blindsided when Education Minister Rob Fleming abruptly informed them that a funding cut equal to almost $800 per student enrolled would take place — this after most IDL schools had already made their staffing and budgetary decisions.
Earlier in the week Kamloops South Thompson MLA Todd Stone came out swinging at the provincial government over inaction on skyrocketing costs for strata owners.
“The government cannot delay action on this issue any longer,” said Stone. “When I introduced The Strata Property Amendment Act in February, it was clear that strata insurance was a serious and growing issue, but after months of government inaction, it has only worsened.
“It is time to see the government take real steps to improve this situation and provide much-needed relief for condo and townhome owners around the province.”
They have also been calling on the government to take stronger action after a record number of opioid deaths … and to take action on the ever-increasing number of job losses in the forestry sector.
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson is also calling for the NDP government to immediately provide a budget update that gives British Columbians an accurate picture of the state of the province’s finances.
“The NDP’s budget from earlier this year isn’t accurate anymore – people deserve the truth about this budget,” said Wilkinson. “The NDP added $5 billion in extra spending in April to deal with the pandemic. Where did that money go? As we continue to reopen, people need to know where and how their money is being spent by the NDP. We don’t need more surveys – we need more certainty and answers.”
As for the NDP themselves, and what we should expect from them? Repeated requests regarding plans for Monday’s resumption of the legislature went unanswered.
I’ll leave the last word to Green Party Interim leader Adam Olsen, who commented to me, “We are excited to get back ‘in the legislature’ and do our work as members of the opposition.”
Let’s hope ‘all’ members, regardless of their political affiliation, will feel the same way.
Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident and former member of the Reform Party of Canada and the B.C. Reform Party, and a past and current member of the BC Conservative Party. His blog is My Thoughts on Politics and More.