Unlike former premier Gordon Campbell when we never knew if the legislature would sit, Premier Christy Clark has posted the full legislative calendar for this year and it shows we’ll have full spring and fall legislative sessions.
Since we did not prorogue the last fall session, Clark’s throne speech from the fall carries over and so does some of the outstanding legislation from that session, particularly the Local Government Auditor General Act that has been called into question by the Union of B.C. Municipalities. The most interesting aspect of this spring session (which starts on Feb. 14) will be the budget, which we’ll see on Feb. 21. The government continues to send out mixed messages about whether it will be able to balance the budget in 2013 as currently required by law. If the budget does show a deficit beyond 2012 then we’ll have to see a bill this spring giving the government yet another reprieve from balancing the books (it’ll be their third time). Balanced-budget legislation is simply political smoke-and-mirrors as it hasn’t been adhered to in any jurisdiction that has it. I’ll be calling on the government to repeal the legislation.
There seems to be pressure to get the Resource Roads Act tabled this spring or fall session; however, the government failed to successfully table this act once before and I’m hearing there’s still considerable push back against the current attempt. Likewise, we may see changes affecting log exports and land-use plans (particularly for the Interior to allow access to the mid-term timber supply that’s locked up in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Land Use Plan). In my estimation, the work on forest policy is being done without sufficient public consultation. If the any natural resource legislation is brought forward my office will get as many people involved as possible in scrutinizing it and calling the government to task if it favours corporate interests over those of the public who own these resources. Prior to Feb. 14, I’ll be travelling throughout the riding to hear from constituents about their priorities so I can continue to represent this riding’s interests in Victoria.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.