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BC Liberals playing 'crass politics' with interim supply timing: MLA

British Columbia's four independent MLAs are condemning the BC Liberal government for playing politics with a key bill that allows the government to operate.

"It is pure bullshit partisan politics," said Bob Simpson, the MLA for Cariboo North. "This is the crassest of crass politics."

At issue is the interim supply bill, which allows the government to spend money and function until the budget is passed. In previous election years, the BC Liberals passed longer interim supply bills, said Simpson. They gave themselves five months in 2009 and six months in 2005.

But this year, headed into an election they expect to lose, the Liberals under Premier Christy Clark are preparing to pass an interim supply bill that will be good for only three months, said Simpson.

"This is absolutely predicated on the fact they believe the NDP are going to win and they're going to jam Adrian right out of the gate," he said. "Basically they're creating a worst case scenario for the new government to come in."

The election is scheduled for May 14, and the budget presented yesterday will not be passed before then. When interim supply ends, whoever forms the government will have to swear in a cabinet, recall the legislature, deliver a throne speech and present a budget in a hurry.

An NDP government will have few options and the Liberals are stacking the deck so they can accuse the NDP of not being ready to govern, said Simpson.

A finance ministry spokesperson did not immediately return a call. Nor did NDP house leader John Horgan.

Simpson said he and the other three independents, Vicki Huntington and former Liberals John Slater and John van Dongen, are set to release a statement calling on the government to extend the interim supply bill to six months and to move the date for future elections to the fall to avoid this problem.

"It's just bad governance," said Simpson.

Update: Government house leader and finance minister Mike de Jong confirmed the interim supply bill will cover "between three and six months" and the government is still making the decision.

"The appropriate call for the government is six months," said the NDP's Horgan. "After two years of campaigning, to leave the future government in disarray is irresponsible ... Give the new government the summer to assess the real fiscal picture, look at this bogus (budget) document, and find something we can put before the people in September."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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