MLAs upset over legislative closure

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OCTOBER 2, 2013 12:00 AM

There will be no fall sitting of the B.C. legislature this year, and Tri-Cities MLAs are completely divided on the subject.

Rookie NDP MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville, Selina Robinson, says the Liberals’ decision to put off the next sitting of the legislature until the spring prevents her and her party from voicing their opinions on policy. “I signed up for this job so I can get to work and make some good policy decisions for the province,” she told the Tri-Cities NOW. “Now I don’t get the opportunity to do that, and I have questions.”

Premier Christy Clark has said there is no rule in place demanding a fall legislature and MLAs will continue in the spring. On top of that, she said they sat in the summer, even when they didn’t need to.

But Robinson isn’t buying it.

“All we did this summer – all we did was the budget,” she said. “Which they had to do. Is that all we’re ever going to do? This is the job.”

Clark also said the Liberal government will spend the fall speaking directly with British Columbians to come up with a plan to deliver on campaign promises.

“You’re always talking to British Columbians,” Robinson said. “And you sit in the legislature and do the work. That was the job.”

However, Doug Horne, the Liberal MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain , said his job doesn’t begin and end in the legislature and time spent away from Victoria this fall is going to be valuable.

“There’s a lot of issues I’m focusing on this fall,” he said. “There’s a new school at Burke Mountain, the Evergreen Line is moving forward and there’s some issues around that,” he said.

He’s also concentrating on reviewing and updating the province’s liquor laws.

“One of the things I think many people don’t fully appreciate or understand is, as an MLA, far more work for the community that I do gets done when the house isn’t in session, than what gets done when the house is in session.”

He says he understands the frustration from his opposition’s standpoint. “It doesn’t allow them to be in the house and to be embarrassing the government on a daily basis, but I’m not sure that’s what we’re here to do,” he said.

Mike Farnwor th, the NDP MLA for PoCo, said there are too many issues being pushed back to the spring, and he doesn’t think there will be enough time to discuss them all.

“It’s appalling,” he said.

“We have a legislative calendar, and people expect us to be doing business.

“There’s a ton of issues we should be dealing with and legislation we should be dealing with, but now we’re jamming everything into the spring and we’re not going to be able to scrutinize them the way it should be,” he said.

The spring session is focused on the budget, so finding the time to discuss issues like skills training, health care, the environment, education and transportation is going to fall by the wayside, he said.

“Instead, we should be having a fall session. There should be legislation up for debate and discussion, and the government should be there to be held accountable,” he said.

The legislature sat for 36 days this year.

© Tri-Cities Now

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