B.C. Lt. Governor Janet Austin presides over opening ceremonies at the B.C. legislature, reading the government’s speech from the throne. (Hansard TV)

B.C. touts Indigenous reconciliation in protest-delayed throne speech

Gas pipeline protesters block MLAs, staff from B.C. legislature

Premier John Horgan’s throne speech to open the spring session of the B.C. legislature recounts his NDP government’s efforts to lead Canada in Indigenous reconciliation, from adopting a United Nations declaration to sharing billions of dollars in lottery and casino funds.

Tuesday’s speech was marred by hundreds of loud, chanting protesters rejecting reconciliation, a natural gas pipeline across northern B.C. and Canada itself as a colonial invader to the province. Students and other supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs trying to stop the Coastal Gaslink pipeline surrounded the legislature, blocking MLAs, staff and reporters from entering Tuesday.

One TV reporter was cursed and pelted with debris as he attempted to report on the unfolding situation. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham was turned away by protesters as she tried to enter the building, one of several MLAs who decided to stay away for the first day of a session that is scheduled to last until the end of May.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth wouldn’t comment on the protest tactics, saying only that legislature security was working with the Victoria police and he respects peaceful protest.

RELATED: Pipeline protesters block MLAs from B.C. legislature

RELATED: B.C. NDP vows to be first in Canada to enact UN rights

Lt. Gov. Janet Austin managed to make it inside the building, after the traditional 15-gun salute and inspection of military, police and firefighters was cancelled due to the large tent camp, campfire and protest rally at the main entrance.

Austin’s reading of the government’s speech referred to more than two years of work on reconciliation.

“It has made major investments in Indigenous priorities like language revitalization, funding for aboriginal friendship centres, culturally appropriate health care and mental-health supports, and Indigenous housing on and off reserve,” the speech says. “Last year, B.C. transferred the first two years of funding, as part of a commitment that will see $3 billion in provincial gaming revenues shared with first nations over 25 years.”

The speech, a traditional preview of government plans for the coming year, was heavy on political rhetoric about the previous B.C. Liberal government and re-announcements of NDP government plans. One of those is implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with a framework bill passed in November that now requires amendments to many existing laws.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said Horgan’s refusal to speak to reporters after the speech is a sign he can’t defend it.

“It could have been last year’s throne speech because there is no agenda whatsoever,” Wilkinson said. “We see the premier falling asleep in his chair while the protesters are being heard shouting in the chamber.”

The speech reiterates the NDP government’s pledge from last week to overhaul legislation governing the Insurance Corporation of B.C. and court rules, to remove most injury cases from courts to a civil resolution tribunal.

Other initiatives include a “plastics action plan” to reduce plastic pollution, likely a provincial ban on point-of-sale plastic bags and other single-use containers that end up in landfills.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Williams Lake establishes $100K emergency fund in response to COVID-19

Emergency fund will enable City to provide assistance during pandemic

Williams Lake Garden Club creates new community seed library

For now residents can request seeds for pick up or delivery due to COVID-19 precautions

COVID-19: City of Williams Lake issues reminder for residents to keep socially distant

The City has imposed a special regulation at the tennis courts

Warmer temperatures in the forecast for Cariboo Chilcotin, nights still cool

We checked in about winter with four women living in four directions of Williams Lake

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

Most Read