The Legislative session ended in a way which perhaps reflects the last 15 years of the BC Liberal government. A special prosecutor charged a former government employee, Brian Bonney, with breach of trust.
This stems from what became known as the Quick Wins scandal in which Christy Clark’s BC Liberal government was allegedly using public money, government databases and staff for highly partisan, pre-election, activities three years ago.
On the same day as the breach of trust charge was brought, Mr Bonney and a colleague pleaded guilty to violating the Elections Act. In arguments the special prosecutor made before the judge the special prosecutor said these violations were part of a broader scheme, not an inadvertent error. Yet, under repeated questioning in the Legislature by Official Opposition leader John Horgan, the Attorney General refused to talk about that bigger scheme. Nor would she say whether the government is paying his legal fees.
As unofficial campaigning starts for next year’s provincial election, the special prosecutor’s report and the charges laid are a timely reminder that Ms Clark will do almost anything to hold on to power, And this spring session of the legislature has shown that the present government is focused on that rather than making BC a better place for people to live and work.
That’s why we in the Official Opposition have been emphasizing the importance of integrity and transparency in government. We brought in two debates to the floor of the house this week which were about ending the acceptance of big money in BC politics and about increasing openness in government. We want to ban big money from our system to remove the possibility of influence-peddling. That would mean that no party would be able to accept donations from labour unions or corporations and the size of individual donations would be limited.
Sadly, it was also in this session that we uncovered the ‘triple delete” scandal in which the government was found to be completely erasing records of their decision making on issues affecting us all. This is not healthy for either good government or democracy.
I asked the Minister of Education about the decision making process in handing out grants. The Premier happily gave $150,000 to the school on the Old Massett reserve in Haida Gwaii, even though this is a federal jurisdiction. But when I asked for some support for internet access for the band school on the Tsulquate reserve, near Port Hardy, at a tenth of the cost, the Minister’s answer was bizarre: he talked about the fruit and vegetable program for schools.
What the session showed was Christy Clark and the BC Liberals are oblivious to what is happening in the province, blinkered to the problems they have created whether in education, in healthcare, or in the environment. To the final day of the session they defended the clawback of transit passes for people on disability assistance. And they seem unaware of affordability crisis that is the common theme of conversation when I talk with constituents. Whether it is the continuing high cost of hydro, of ferries or of MSP the government did not engage.
It did however establish a fantasy fund which it labled a prosperity fund. This was to be filled with the fantasy wealth from the still fantasy LNG industry. Instead it has been primed by money from the increase in our MSP.
We are not yet sure whether the Legislature will be called back for its scheduled fall session. With the BC Liberals it is usually a decision of political expediency rather than legislative necessity.
In the meantime the summer will see me around the constituency, as well as around the province on the transportation file. In the short term, I will be in the Campbell River office for much of the coming week. On Wednesday I have the pleasure of joining opposition leader John Horgan for a public meeting about concerns facing seniors. That’s from 3.30 pm in the Campbell River Seniors Centre in Ironwood Mall.
I will be taking a break in early June, but can always be reached by email at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and on Twitter @clairetrevena. Or you can call me at 250 287 5100 in Campbell River, 250 949 9473 in Port Hardy or 1866 387 5100 toll free.