B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)

B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)

B.C. Liberal leadership contest will wait for election post-mortem

Interim leader set to face NDP on payments for COVID-19

The B.C. Liberal Party is going to “take some time to look back” at the setbacks of the October election before launching into a leadership contest, interim leader Shirley Bond says.

Meanwhile, the 19-year veteran MLA for Prince George-Valemount is urging Premier John Horgan to continue working with opposition parties on the response to COVID-19 when the B.C. legislature convenes Dec. 7 for a session expected to last no more than two weeks.

The main business of the brief post-election sitting will be voting on spending authority for about $1.4 billion to send out COVID-19 aid payments to individuals and households with income up to $125,000 a year. Speaking reporters in a video conference Nov. 24, a day after being elected interim leader by the 28-member caucus, Bond declined so say if the B.C. Liberals will support payments of up to $1,000 for households and $500 for individuals, whether they have lost income due to the pandemic or not.

MLAs are being sworn in this week for jobs that currently pay $111,000 a year, which would make some of them eligible for the payments that were a key election promise from Horgan. With the province’s deficit already expected to be nearly $13 billion, B.C. Liberals must decide if they will vote against the measure, a formality as they face a 57-seat NDP majority.

They also will consider if they will take the money themselves, a subject Bond expects will generate “vigorous debate” in private.

“We are going to ask for specific details as the issue is presented, and I don’t think it’s something we should expect will simply be marched into the house and marched out the door,” Bond said. “When you’re talking about spending at that magnitude, let me be clear. We want to support British Columbians as well, we want to make sure that resources are provided to families and businesses that needs them, but there needs to be transparency, accountability, and that’s the kind of discussion we’ll have in the caucus room.”

RELATED: B.C. legislature resuming to vote on COVID-19 payments

RELATED: Latest COVID-19 restrictions ‘starting to show results’

On the pandemic response, Bond said the latest business restrictions announced by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s are an example of what the opposition needs to get to work on.

“We have restaurants concerned, we have churches that are concerned, we have live theatre companies that are concerned, and much of that relates to confusion,” Bond said. “This isn’t about criticism of Dr. Henry. We admire the work that she’s done, and certainly [health minister] Adrian Dix has done a capable job. Having said that, we have a role to play. I hope we can do that in a respectful but probing way, and I think you’ll see that emerge in the days ahead.”

Horgan’s cabinet is to be sworn in Nov. 26, as MLAs take their oaths of office, mostly by remote video conference. B.C. Green MLAs Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen were sworn in in person Monday, with strict limits on the number of people in attendance.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
RDN Transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Peter Crema and Harmony Gray (from left), past participants of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teen art group, at work in ArtLab in 2019. The NAG will be expanding the space thanks to a $75,000 arts infrastructure program grant. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre receive new arts infrastructure funding

Province announces recipients of funding through B.C. Arts Council program

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help Nanaimo’s new baseball team look picture-perfect

NightOwls announce partnership with Angela Waldick of Nightengales Photography

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a hatchback and a taxi minivan at the intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets on Friday afternoon. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver hurt as taxi and hatchback crash in Nanaimo

Collision happened Friday at intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets

A person experiencing homelessness in downtown Nanaimo last week. (News Bulletin photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Change approach to combatting homelessness

Letter writers express frustration with status quo

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Nanaimo City Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo councillors like new sustainable buying policy

Finance and audit committee recommends council approve new procurement policy

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

FOI records provided to the News Bulletin from the City of Nanaimo in 2018. (News Bulletin file photo)
Samra’s numerous FOI requests to City of Nanaimo aren’t ‘vexatious,’ privacy commissioner decides

Former CAO says records will assist her in a future B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Most Read