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BC Premier Clark 'making up' scheduling conflict, says NDP's Horgan

Premier Christy Clark has repeatedly blamed missing the Western Premiers' Conference this week on a conflict with the debate on her office's budget.

But NDP House Leader John Horgan says the estimates were never scheduled in conflict with the meeting and Clark is "making it up".

"The reason I’m not going to the Western Premiers’ Conference is because I’m doing my estimates in the legislature," she told reporters on Monday, a day before the meeting in Edmonton was scheduled to happen.

Then on Tuesday, as the meeting went ahead without her, she said, "We have to negotiate with the NDP to schedule the estimates and the original plan was to have them today, so that was why. That changed at the last minute and that's something I'm not in control of."

The debate on her budget's office is not, however, scheduled to start until this evening, more than a day after the meeting ended. Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell, who attended the premiers' meeting in Clark's place, was back in B.C. and at the legislature by this afternoon.

Moreover, NDP house leader John Horgan said the premier's office estimates have been scheduled for months.

The schedule, which the NDP provided a copy of by email, sets out the number of hours to be spent on the debate for each ministry's budget. The premier's office is the only one with specific dates attached: May 30 and 31.

"That was a document that was given to me by the government house leader (Rich Coleman) in February," said Horgan. "From February the premier's estimates . . . have been locked down as May 30 and 31."

There has been no change to the schedule for the premier's debate since then, and no suggestion from the government that there should be, so it's bewildering Clark is saying they moved, he said.

"When I heard she'd made that assertion I was gobsmacked," said Horgan. "She's making it up. Simple as that."

A call to the premier's director of communications asking about the schedule was not returned by publication time.

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

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