This has been a week in which some of politics’ dirty secrets have been laid bare: the fundraising tactics used by Premier Christy Clark and her inner council. While other jurisdictions have been embarrassed into changing the laws governing fundraising for politics, BC’s premier has steadfastly stuck to private fundraising, effectively selling access to herself and her ministers.
John Horgan, the leader of the Opposition, this week introduced a bill for the fifth time in as many years, which would ban corporate and union donations to political parties and ensure a cap on individual donations. Private members bills rarely get debated in the BC Legislature so we tried to get the bill considered by moving it through the committee system. This demanded a vote of all members.
Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the BC Liberals voted No, so the bill has effectively stalled leaving BC alone in allowing our politics to be paid for by corporations and lobbyists. This should not be a partisan issue but Christy Clark and the BC Liberals make it so. This is a question of public trust. People need to have every confidence that their politics and their democracy is not being bought.
Our focus in Question Period was the care and support of our seniors. Once again we saw Christy Clark laugh and joke with her colleagues as we asked serious questions about the care vulnerable seniors receive. The government’s own Seniors’ Advocate has said 232 publicly-funded care homes do not meet the government’s own staffing guidelines which means 80 percent of the government-funded care homes are understaffed, and seniors are paying the price.
I asked a number of questions of the Minister of Energy and Mines about environmental safety at Myra Falls and Quinsam coal mines in light of their shutdowns. I had written to the Minister in November about oversight of the tailings pond at Myra Falls and had not received a response. While he was not able to tell me the number of times there have been inspections of the site in the last months, the minister assured me that those tailing ponds will be secure and there should not be a concern for Campbell River’s drinking water. Likewise he has little concern about conditions at Quinsam. I will keep monitoring both of these.
We also debated the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Amendment Act. This waters down the already weak bill passed two years ago which allows LNG producers to avoid greenhouse gas emission targets. It puts BC even further behind in trying to reach any climate and emissions targets but again, all BC Liberals stood together to vote for it.
And we debated a bill which creates a new park in the interior of BC as well as extending a number of existing parks, including Tweedsmuir, part of which is in the North Island constituency. I spoke in favour of the bill but underlined the need to back this, and other fine statements about parks, with money. I also spoke about the need to look at the ecosystem as a whole. While designating area of land as a park is significant, that is seriously undermined if the neighbouring land mass is widely logged. Anyone who lives and works in the North Island knows our environment is interconnected. If we want good hunting, good fishing, good logging, good camping and good hiking we have to look at our land base in its entirety.
Those around the constituency who have noticed the large new signs about reporting wildfires may be interested in a forestry act debated this week which increases fines for failing to report a fire to $383 and for ignoring a fire ban to $1,150.
On Wednesday I spoke about Campbell River’s 20th Walk Away from Racism, a wonderful event which shows the inclusive nature of the city.
This Friday sees me in Campbell River: I’ll be meeting with the Campbell River Environmental Council and visiting Uplands to talk about the company’s plans for its landfill. I’ll also be checking in on the “tent-in” at Campbell River City Hall.
I’m back at the Legislature next week but will be heading back to Campbell River for the Community Builder Recognition dinner: a chance to honour those who have made the city the place it is.
I can always be reached in Campbell River on 250 287 5100 and in Port Hardy on 250 949 9473 or toll free on 866 387 5100. My email is Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org and I am on Facebook and @clairetrevena on Twitter.