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General · 26th April 2010
Claire Trevena
HST has been the focus of debate throughout the week – as should be the case with such a major change in tax policy.

The BC Liberals still have not been able to justify why they gave no notice to the people of BC ahead of the election that they would be introducing the 7 percent flat tax just weeks after last year’s vote.

The NDP has spent the week trying to instil some reason into the debate and get away from the rhetoric. We introduced a motion which would refer the Bill to the Select Standing Committee on Finance. This is the bipartisan committee of the Legislature that hears submissions from around the province ahead of the Budget process and, as such, would be the ideal vehicle to take this bill out to people and hear just what they have to say about it. Committee hearings are such that individuals, organisations and experts would be able to participate. In my speech on the referral, I pointed out how important it is to use the tools of our Parliamentary system to engage people and to examine policy.

Unfortunately when we come to a vote on the motion it is unlikely to pass as the BC Liberals are speaking with one voice: they want the HST and they don’t want to hear from people or business adversely impacted by it.

The government has been trying to deflect anger about the HST and so announced the start of the assessment process for the Site C dam. We are opposed to the dam as hugely damaging to the environment: and regard it as a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem. It was interesting to see that in the government spin about the alleged benefits of the dam, was an acknowledgement by the BC Liberals that the private power projects industrialising our inlets will only provide power in the spring, when it is least needed. This is something people protesting plans for Bute and other rivers have known for a long time.

Question period meanwhile has been dominated with questions about the ongoing cuts to education, which are having a major impact on school boards across the province.

We also had the opportunity to raise serious health care concerns for everyone in the north island: the loss of 18 acute care beds at St Joseph’s Hospital in Comox. Carole James, NDP Leader, led the question period attack on the Health Minister, Kevin Falcon. The Minister’s response was not comforting for the patients who need the care, staff losing their jobs and families concerned with accessible health care across the north island. I will be at the Town Hall meeting about the cuts, in Courtenay, on Saturday

I was able to recognise environmentalist, activist and biologist Alexandra Morton in a statement in the Legislature to mark the start of her walk from the North Island down to Victoria. I will be joining her for the first leg of that walk on Friday: from the ferry terminal in Port McNeill down to the Nimpkish River.

Alexandra’s walk starts on Earth Day and this weekend sees various environmental activities around the north island. I will be with neighbours on Quadra in the Sierra Club’s annual beach clean up before heading back to another week in the Legislature.

On a Federal issue: the Senate is examining the future of our lighthouses and is looking for submissions. If you want to ensure that we maintain manned lighthouses around the North Island, please send your letter to:
Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A4
Phone: 1-800-267-7362
Fax: 613-947-2104

I can always be reached on any issue at or by phone on 240 287 5100 in Campbell River, 250 902 0325 in Port Hardy and 1 866 387 5100 toll free.