There is no question that it has been - and continues to be - an interesting time in politics. I offer my congratulations to John Duncan, re-elected as the MP for Vancouver Island North, and I look forward to working with him to deal with problems of the North Island. I also congratulate all the other candidates who ran in the Federal election and hope they will continue with their involvement in politics and public service.
There is a great amount of speculation about when the provincial election will be held. With the fixed date election cycle we are due to go to the polls in May 2013. But the new Premier has regularly talked about bringing that date forward. Independent MLA, Bob Simpson, introduced a private member’s Bill into the Legislature this week, suggesting the fixed date be moved to October 2012. I think the speculation will continue to swirl for some months to come.
We returned to the Legislature last week, after, except for a mere 4 days in February, almost 10 months of the Liberal government refusing of calling the Legislature into session. This is not accountable governance in my view. We are finally back and debating the budget that was tabled in February. Then it was described as a “status quo budget” by all commentators. The new premier has reorganised government, reducing the number of ministries, but has not tabled a new budget. Instead we have been presented with the effectively a cut and paste job - the same numbers but now reconfigured to match the new ministries and is still budgeting widespread cuts.
We only have a few weeks in Victoria, a time that will be used to go through each ministry’s expenditures line by line, to find out just where those cuts are, and who is going to be effected.
We have been raising the human cost of some of those cuts in question period. Money has been taken out of Community Living BC, leaving some of the most vulnerable people in our society without any supports. Group homes have closed and programmes have been shut leaving people at times isolated and without the supports needed to help them take part in the community.
The new Clark Liberal government has taken on some of the causes of the official opposition. On Thursday, opposition Leader Adrian Dix introduced a bill to ban cosmetic pesticides - and the government said that it was a good idea. Likewise, after years of us in the opposition pushing for access to provincial parks be made affordable again, the Clark Liberals agreed to remove parking meters. While these moves are welcomed, what we really need is a comprehensive strategy to protect our environment and real investment in the parks service.
Unfortunately the government does not seem willing to address the issue of ferries in the same way; neither by dealing with the outrageous escalation in fees, nor moving them back under the Ministry of Transportation. I challenged the Minister on this in Question Period
but got the usual platitudes which do nothing to ensure our coastal highway remains affordable or administered in the public interest.
The question of maintaining a viable shellfish industry also came up in Question Period; I was able to question the Minister of Agriculture about the impacts of the proposed Raven Coal Mine in the Comox Valley on the Baynes Sound shellfish farms
As always it is a pleasure to talk about constituency events in the Legislature. On April 1st a historic First Nations treaty came into effect and I described the scene to MLAs in the House
. Last week I used the private members time to raise concerns about autism.
As some of you know, I have been appointed by Opposition Leader Adrian Dix to the Shadow Cabinet and am honoured to take on the role of critic of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. This ministry plays a vital role for many across the province and in the constituency and deserves close scrutiny.
I will be in the constituency this weekend and back in Victoria next week. I can always be contacted at Claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca, in my Campbell River office at 250 287 5100, in Port Hardy at 250 902 0325, or toll free at 1 866 387 5100.