Legislature spring session ends

A report by contributor and MLA Claire Trevena about the end of the spring session in the Legislature

This report marks the end of the spring session in the Legislature. The session left the perception it had been driven by a government bereft of ideas but desperate to stay in control.  The last few days of debate in the Legislature are a microcosm of the manipulation of the parliamentary system by the BC Liberals.

An example of the BC Liberal’s manipulation of the system for their own ends was the discussion around the Government Information Act. The first iteration it was so badly drafted that the government itself tabled pages of amendments to be debated at the committee stage. Even the title of the bill was amended to the Information Management Act. We were opposed to the Act – which allows for an increasingly oral approach in government business, in other words leaving no traceable records. The legislation does not mandate a duty for the government to keep written records, which means it is impossible to trace information. We had seven amendments of our own which were defeated. In the end, the committee stage, during which all these changes were introduced and debated and the bill supposedly analyzed, lasted a mere 50 minutes.

We spent a couple of Question Periods asking about needed changes to the system for children in government care who “age out” at 19, leaving them on their own with no family or other supports. This came into shocking perspective when a young woman who had been in government care nearly her whole life, who had moved 50 times and who had been abused, killed herself after she left care. Neither the Premier nor the minister responsible would commit to making any changes to prevent such cases happening again.

The debates on bills finished early and the final two days were given over to the budget estimates of the office of the Premier. This seems like a fruitless exercise as the Premier uses every opportunity either to spin or simply avoid answering. For example, when John Horgan, the leader of the opposition asked about why she did not confirm George Abbott as head of the Treaty Commission, she started to talk about her “aspirational goals” on LNG and job creation. He asked that direct question four times and never got an answer.

I was able to recognize School District 84’s Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement in the Legislature. It was an honour to attend the event in Zeballos and to share with other MLAs the District’s achievement.

I have been appointed to the Special Committee to Appoint a Merit Commissioner which will entail some extra work back in Victoria. The Merit Commissioner’s job is to ensure that all public service appointments are based on ability; reading some of the reports from previous years it is clear this was not always the case.

We are not sure when the Legislature will resume sitting. We are supposed to have a session in the fall for two months which might happen. The government has indicated it wants to move on some legislation to speed up the sell-off of LNG to foreign companies.

With the summer recess I will be busy both in the constituency and through my critic portfolio, working on ways to try to improve our transportation infrastructure and make BC Ferries work for us.  I can always be reached by email Claire.trevena.mla@leg.bc.ca, by phone in Campbell River on 250 287 5100, in Port Hardy on 250 949 9473 or 1 866 387 5100 toll free. Feel free to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @clairetrevena.