A central theme to this week in the Legislature was unaffordability. During the daily, half-hourly ritual of Question Period the focus was the problems in the Lower Mainland because of housing costs. And during the Premier’s estimates debate – in which Opposition Leader John Horgan has the opportunity to ask questions of the Christy Clark for several hours – the rapidly escalating costs of hydro, ferries, ICBC and MSP were on the table.
Much of the time on the floor of the House was spent in the budget estimates debates with the ministries of health, natural gas, justice and the Premier’s office being questioned. There were few answers and much fantasy in response. Three years ago everyone was promised a debt free BC and tens of thousands of people working in the LNG industry. None of it has come true, it is a fantasy, but Christy Clark and her ministers continue to talk as if it is real.
People get tired of political spin and want honest answers to their real problems. But even when the government is supposed to be providing people with information about services through advertising, that too becomes political. This is why we introduced a bill this week to end the use of millions of dollars of public money for thinly veiled partisan propaganda. We want the Auditor General to vet all advertising to make sure it truly was in the public interest.
Unfortunately bills introduced by the Opposition usually do not get debated but the BC Liberals do occasionally adopt our bills, amended them slightly and bring them in as their own.
It is unlikely that will happen with the Safe Blood for BC Act, a bill that is intended to ban the private sale of plasma. Despite the terrible Canadian experience with tainted blood, the BC Liberals have refused to prevent private companies from buying blood and blood products. These companies tend to operate in poor neighbourhoods, near payday loan shops and pawn shops, literally capitalizing on those in financial need.
Nor are the BC Liberals likely to support our bill which protects owners of manufactured homes. This bill would protect those owners when the land on which their home is located is slated for redevelopment. It would ensure owners receive a year’s notice as well as financial assistance in relocation. We have introduced this bill many times in the last decade allowing the government chances to review it and adopt it any time. It hasn’t happened.
Likewise we introduced a bill to protect renters from “renovictions” – that is being evicted when the apartment blocks in which they live are being renovated. This is usually done so the owner can increase the rent and bring in new tenants. This is not only a problem in the Lower Mainland, it can happen anywhere. Again we saw no appetite on the BC Liberal side to adopt or debate the bill.
I spoke of an historic collaboration in Nootka Sound, with the vision statement jointly signed by the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, the Village of Gold River and the Village of Tahsis. The document talks about mutual respect and collaboration for the good of all people living and working in those communities as well as for the benefit of the natural environment.
I have also written to the Minister for Jobs about the situation at the mill in Port Alice. It has been shutdown for more than a year now and the company has said it won’t restart this year. People are uncertain what that will mean for the long term outlook for the mill and obviously for the community and the whole North Island. I’ve asked the Minister to meet with the union and the Village as well as myself to see whether we can work together to get clarity for the community
We have just one week remaining in the spring Legislative session. I can always be reached by email at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone on 250 287 5100 in Campbell River, 250 949 9473 in Port Hardy or 866 387 5100 toll free. I’m also on Facebook and on Twitter @clairetrevena.