Fall is clearly upon us, but as is usually the case in BC politics, there is no autumn session of the Legislature. Each time the Premier, Christy Clark, cancels a session saying we have no need to meet she undermines our democratic system. It is extraordinarily arrogant of her to think that she alone knows what is best for the province and doesn’t need to even consider all those elected to represent people and communities across the province.
Instead, she makes announcements which are clearly designed to win votes in next May’s election. The most blatant, and really cynical, piece of electioneering is the relaunch of the Port Hardy to Bella Coola ferry. Just three years ago the BC Liberals axed the route, saying it was losing money and replaced a vessel that had $18m in public money spent on upgrades (and was later sold to a ferry operator in Fiji for cents on the dollar) with the 16 vehicle Nimpkish.
The outcry was huge from Port Hardy. Bella Bella, Bella Coola and all the way up to Williams Lake as First Nations, tourist businesses and communities effectively lost their highway. The Minister of Transportation – responsible for inland and coastal ferries – said nothing could be done. That is until the Premier realized the loss of the route was bleeding votes in the two Cariboo constituencies the BC Liberals want to hold in next year’s election. So sidelining her minister, she came out, stating how important that ferry route is and a new high-end service will be reintroduced in 2018. That is a year after the election and effectively still starving those who depend on the route for two more years, but she is clearly confident this will be an election winner.
Do not expect similar announcements for all the other areas where ferry service has been cut. The reality is the BC Liberals do not care about ferry reliant communities on the coast and ignore the needs of our marine highway. If they did care, fares would be reduced, service increased and BC Ferries would be truly a responsibility of the Crown, rather than the quasi-private operation it is at the moment.
As Official Opposition we are also making announcements to foreshadow what we would do if we form government. Obviously our full platform will not be released until next spring, but our leader, John Horgan, has been talking about areas of importance – from investing in transit to bringing in a $15 an hour minimum wage and ending MSP payments.
While people might ask: “What is the difference between the Opposition making announcements and the government?” It is that this government has been in power for 15 years and could have already acted.
Having no fall session of the Legislature does allow me to work both in the constituency and on my Ministry of Transportation critic portfolio. For the last 10 days I have been on the road (primarily Highway 3) talking with people to explore the needs of their communities when it comes to transit, trucking and the pavement itself.
Next week takes me to Victoria for the annual meeting of the Union of BC Municipalities at which I’ll be working with North Island communities as well as meeting with representatives of other municipalities which have concerns about transportation. And at the end of that week I have the pleasure of attending the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce Business of Distinction awards.
I’ll be heading up Island when the bi-partisan Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services meets in Port Hardy in early October. Having sat on the committee I know how seriously its members take submissions from individuals and organizations and it is a great opportunity to have issues heard. Details of how to participate can be found here.
And in the coming weeks I will be holding Town Hall meetings in communities around the North Island constituency to hear directly from you about your concerns and ideas. A full itinerary will be advertised in the local media as well as on my webpage (www.clairetrevena.ca) and on my Facebook page.
I can always be reached by email too: Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 250 287 5100 in Campbell River and 250 949 9473 and toll free at 1 866 387 5100.