There will be no fall sitting of the B.C. legislature this year, and Tri-Cities MLAs are completely divided on the subject.
Newly elected NDP MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville Selina Robinson says the Liberals putting off the next sitting of the legislature until the spring prevents her and her party from voicing their opinions on policy.
“I signed up for this job so I can get to work and make some good policy decisions for the province,” she told the Tri-Cities NOW. “Now I don’t get the opportunity to do that, and I have questions.”
Premier Christy Clark has said there is no rule in place demanding a fall legislature and they will continue in the spring.
On top of that, she said they sat in the summer, even when they didn’t need to.
But Robinson isn’t buying it.
“All we did this summer, all we did was the budget,” she said. “Which they had to do. Is that all we’re ever going to do? This is the job.”
Clark also reasoned the Liberal government would be instead spending the fall speaking directly with British Columbians to come up with how they will deliver on campaign promises.
“You’re always talking to British Columbians,” Robinson said. “And you sit in the legislature and do the work. That was the job.”
Local Liberal MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain Douglas Horne said his job doesn’t begin and end in the legislature and time spent away from Victoria this fall is going to be valuable.
“There’s a lot of issues I’m focusing on this fall,” he said. “There’s a new school at Burke Mountain, the Evergreen Line is moving forward and there’s some issues around that,” he said.
He’s also concentrating on reviewing the province’s liquor laws and updating them to the 21st century.
“One of the things I think many people don’t fully appreciate or understand is, as an MLA, far more work for the community that I do gets done when the House isn’t in session, than what gets done when the House is in session.”
He says he understands the frustration from his opposition’s standpoint, but the legislature will resume in the spring for that to happen.
“It doesn’t allow them to be in the House and to be embarrassing the government on a daily basis, but I’m not sure that’s what we’re here to do,” he said.
NDP MLA for Port Coquitlam Mike Farnworth said there are too many issues being pushed back to the spring, and he doesn’t think there will be enough time to discuss them all now.
“It’s appalling,” he said. “We have a legislative calendar, and people expect us to be doing business.
“There’s a ton of issues we should be dealing with and legislation we should be dealing with, but now we’re jamming everything into the spring and we’re not going to be able to scrutinize them the way it should be,” he said.
The spring session is focused on the budget, so finding the time to speak on things Farnworth’s interested in like skill training, health care, environment, education and transportation issues are going to fall by the wayside, he said.
“Instead we should be having a fall session, there should be legislation up for debate and discussion, and the government should be there to be held accountable,” he said.
Farnworth is now going to be spending the fall on the finance committee, travelling the province to gather input for the budget to be discussed this spring.
Members of the B.C. legislature sat for a total of 36 days this year.
© Copyright 2013