Well Mr. Premier, you and your band of merry Ministers must be pleased with yourselves having finished off this session of the Legislative Assembly with your signature blend of arrogance, partisan pomposity, and your obvious distain for accepted parliamentary procedure.
But talk about efficient! You and the gang rammed through third reading on seven bills in just 75 minutes! And big bills too! At this rate, you could actually compress all of the work of the Legislative Assembly into a couple of weeks and free you and your colleagues up to travel more. I hear you enjoyed your recent visit to China. Maybe next time when you go, you could actually take a bit of financial information with you so when you’re asked how much of the $14 million that was spent on the British Columbia pavilion in Beijing was from BC taxpayers, you could come up with a better answer than “well, you do the math.”
But back to the Legislature and the imperial use of closure to restrain debate on some very significant directional changes initiated by your government. There was Bill 21, the Medicare Protection Act, which enshrines sustainability in law and is, in theory, intended to ensure health expenditures are within taxpayers’ ability to pay. (Why does this remind me of the HMO setup in the States?) Gord, I must admit, when a government uses the term “sustainability,” I get queasy. And when a government (especially yours) enshrines in law that health expenditures must be within the taxpayers’ ability to pay, I wonder why it doesn’t also allude to the fact that it’s the government that decides how to spend the dollars collected via taxation? Kind of takes it out of the ol’ taxpayers’ hands now doesn’t it Gord?
Then there was Bill 32, the Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement Implementation Act, which removes trade barriers between B.C. and Alberta. (You’ll recall the significant and non-partisan opposition to this bill over the past year, based on the fact that it gives business interests precedence over the rights of citizens.) You know Gord, when your government is accused of having the best interest of corporate BC at heart, this kind of thing could be one of the reasons.
Your speedy approach also passed Bill 37, the Carbon Tax Act, which imposes a tax on gasoline of 2.4 cents a litre, effective July 1, to help fund programs to fight climate change, Although the idea behind this Act is laudable, the manner in which your government has structured this Bill does not acknowledge the significant differences between various parts of the province, and doesn’t really help out people who are strained financially to heat their houses or even cook their meals. It will also likely mean an increase in wood burning to heat homes this winter, and that will mean an increase in carbon emissions. This tax will also mean an increase in food costs and every other commodity that is transported. Might have been a good idea to leave some room for discussion on this one Gord. Not all good ideas flow from just one side of the House. And by the way, thanks for the $100 to help cope with these increased costs. That’s a tad over 27 cents a day. Such largesse. Truly I was hoping you’d use those apparently extra tax dollars to do something about child poverty or the minumum wage. Perhaps a bit more debate might have helped here too.
The other significant bill rammed through was Bill 42, the Election Amendment Act, (affectionally known as the “gag law”) which places a $150,000 cap on spending on election advertising by advocacy groups during the 60 days before the start of a campaign and the 28 days of the campaign. Now this is interesting Gord. I do recall a few years ago when the previous government introduced a similar but less totalitarian piece of legislation into the Legislative Assembly, you were on both feet protesting the outrageousness of such an undemocratic approach. It was nice to see that in response to public outcry, the intial four month time frame was reduced to a two month period of repression of free speech. I hope that this constraint also applies to the government in power, restricting them from spending public tax dollars to say what a great job they’re doing. Duff Connacher, the Coordinator of Democracy Watch said: “The limit will skew B.C. elections even further in favour of wealthy individuals and corporations.”
Well Mr. Premier, enjoy your summer. It’s obvious you appreciate being out of the Legislature and away from all those uncomfortable questions from the other side and the press. I’m looking forward to the Fall sitting – assuming of course you decide to have one this year.
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