Liberal government criticized for lack of debate in legislature

NANAIMO - Members of the opposition party in B.C. are not happy that there won't be a fall legislature session.

With last week’s announcement that there won’t be a fall sitting of the B.C. legislature, members of the Opposition from Nanaimo are expressing displeasure.

B.C. NDP MLAs Leonard Krog (Nanaimo), and Doug Routley (Nanaimo-Cowichan) said there are many issues to deal with and the B.C. Liberals should be held to account.

“There are lots of things we could’ve dealt with; a new water act, we could’ve dealt with the pay hikes at B.C. Ferries – get their bonuses under control – a plan to deal with liquid natural gas and clearly, the changes necessary for municipal financing and elections – spending limits and those kinds of things. They’ve been promised for the last three years and nothing’s happening,” said Krog.

Routley highlighted education, noting that the province has slipped to having the lowest per-student funding in the country and learning conditions and support in classrooms, particularly for vulnerable students, has become diluted and reduced.

He also noted that members of the legislative assembly in B.C. have only sat in the legislature for 36 days so far.

“We feel it’s a real insult to the people of B.C. to imply that there’s no business that needs to be done. Obviously there are huge issues facing our communities, including in Nanaimo, school issues that are driven by a lack of funding and a lack of attention from the government,” Routley said.

B.C. Liberal member and Parksville-Qualicum representative Michelle Stilwell said the provincial government recalled the legislature immediately after the election, delivered a throne speech, reintroduced and passed a budget, conducted ministry estimates and had question period.

She said there isn’t always a fall session and this year, the provincial Liberals want to focus on preparing for the February session and a new budget.

“MLAs do most of their work in their constituencies,” Stilwell said. “We have an open line to the ministers and to say that we’re not working when the legislature is not sitting is simply wrong. I think there’s important work to be done and MLAs are busy engaging British Columbians.”

Stilwell pointed to the development of a new taxation structure for the liquified natural gas industry as something that the government will be working on.

“MLAs around the province will be working very hard over the course of the next few months and the only thing we won’t be doing is passing more laws in Victoria,” she said.