Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Olympics will be great, government in fiscal trouble: throne speech

The British Columbia government's Speech from the Throne today opened by promoting the opportunity the Olympics bring and closed by saying British Columbians should expect less from the government.

Along the way the speech, delivered by Lieutenant Governor Steven Point on behalf of the government, reiterated numerous past promises and ongoing initiatives while making several new announcements.

Highlights included:

* a moratorium on mining, oil, gas and coalbed methane extraction in the Flathead Valley;

* families with children under the age of 18 who own property will be allowed to defer their municipal property taxes much as seniors are already allowed;

* “Legislation will be introduced enabling our universities to remove themselves from the government reporting entity,” the speech said. “We cannot let accounting policy stand in the way of our students' interests or hold our universities back from pursuing their unique areas of excellence in partnership with others”;

* a committee on municipal property tax reform “will identify specific steps to make property taxes more conducive to investment while assuring municipal services are fairly provided for all taxpayers”;

* the government will “take a fresh look at B.C.'s regulatory regimes,” it said, including the BC Utilities Commission, the BC Ferry Commission, TransLink and others;

* it hinted that the government may soon act on reccomendations made by the comptroller general in the fall: “New accountability and transparency will be brought to BC Ferries as it continues improving services with new ferries, terminals and amenities”;

* the government will pursue more public-private partnerships in “transportation, health delivery, education support services, systems management and more”;

* Emily Carr University of Art and Design will get a new cmapus near the Centre for Digital Media at the Great Northern Way Campus;

* “New partnerships with the private sector and parents will enable the establishment of neighbourhood preschools for four-year-olds and three-year-olds within communities over the next five years.”

The speech also repeated past promises to harmonize provincial and federal environmental assessments for major projects, a call it said was made more urgent by the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the Red Chris mine.

“The government will work with other provinces and the federal government to establish one process for one project,” the speech said. “Multiple governmental reviews replicate work, add cost, increase uncertainty, delay decisions, reduce investment and ultimately cost jobs.”

Changes particularly need to be made to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, it said. “Currently, over $3 billion in provincially-approved projects are stranded in the mire of federal process and delay. This is unacceptable.”

The speech, which bragged of the government's record of cutting taxes, said British Columbians should prepare for more cuts to services.

“Stemming the unaffordable growth in health costs is essential in meeting our obligation to rebalance the budget by 2013,” the speech said. “As long as we are spending more money to pay for our services than we are generating in revenue, we are living beyond our means.”

It added, “We must curtail expectations of government and look for new ways of meeting our needs within the substantial spending increases already provided.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus