Christy Clark government a lame duck
By Bruce A Stewart
All across this country, elected representatives are making their way to capitals for the fall sessions.
Ottawa’s Macdonald-Cartier Airport is humming with arriving MPs as Parliament reopens tomorrow. Halifax, St. John’s, Winnipeg, you name it: it’s time to get back to work.
Ontario, of course, has been at work since late August.
But in Victoria, the candles gutter low and go out. Once again a BC Liberal Government has decided the province actually doesn’t have any pressing business and so the fall session of the BC Legislature has been cancelled.
MLAs can stay home. Forty-eight days of doing the job voters elected them to do is apparently enough for 2012.
Mind you, it’s not like any money will be saved. All the staff still get paid. All the members still get paid. The cleaners will still vacuum, dust, polish daily.
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So why has Christy Clark followed in Gordon Campbell’s footsteps and once again said “no fall session required”?
The BC Liberals have no legislation to debate. No proposals to air. No agenda eight months before election day.
If the legislature sits, of course, there will be business. But Clark wants none of what to happen.
Small things like Question Period, where she and her remaining ministers would have to answer questions about public policy and decisions they’ve taken.
Small things like committees, which, when the government doesn’t have bills pending, can set their own agendas, call their own inquiries, hold a government’s feet to the fire.
Small things like opposition days, where control of the debate passes to the other side of the aisle, and the press feed can’t be totally stage-managed.
Of course, the one big thing: the Speaker calling the House to order, saying “Madam Premier”, and getting the answer back: “Mr. Speaker, I’ve got bupkis.”
It’s not like British Columbia doesn’t have things its legislators ought to be talking about, after all.
Perhaps they should be debating the broader issue of energy transport in the province: not just one pipeline proposal or another, but actually debating a framework for thinking about the issue so that “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone” doesn’t become the default driver of the agenda.
Perhaps they might spend some time debating the hows of austerity (since the province is in deficit), so that it doesn’t just default to service cutbacks, management buyouts and wage freezes but in fact a real debate on what needs investment, how balance is to be achieved, and so on takes place.
Perhaps legislators might like to discuss the philosophy of public ownership, privatization and partnerships, before the bidding to grab the BC Liquor Distribution Branch is finalized, and before another BC Rail giveaway or BC Ferries conundrum takes place.
Perhaps the legislature would like to take time to debate the imbalance between rural and urban seats in its composition, now that the 2011 census data is there (and since BC is getting new seats federally, which would make citizens living in the places those seats are going ask about their provincial representation, too).
Who knows? Maybe the new ministers in Clark’s cabinet — appointed to fill the holes left by the recent exodus of top BC Liberals names — might like the opportunity to establish themselves in the public’s mind. Maybe they have ideas to bring to the table.
Good heavens, maybe there’s a backbencher or two who has a private member’s bill they’d like to find legislative time to debate, eh?
Well, we can’t have any of that. Clark’s hair might get mussed by the cut and thrust of other voices. It would interfere with her ability to do the talk show circuits on CKNW, CFAX, etc. if she had to maintain scheduled appearances in the chamber.
My word, she’d have to go to Victoria instead of being able to remain comfortably in Vancouver.
This is an old, tired, useless government. This fall was its opportunity to demonstrate to British Columbians that despite it all it still has vitality and should be given power again next year.
Well, thank goodness Christy Clark has to face the voters regardless. Let’s hope she does so to a resounding chorus of “chicken!”