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BC MLAs unlikely to return to sit in legislature this fall

The British Columbia legislature is unlikely to sit this fall, government house leader Mike de Jong said today.

"Absent an unforeseen event . . . it is unlikely the house will sit this fall," de Jong told reporters at a press conference where as finance minister he was delivering the province's first quarterly budget report.

A seven-week fall sitting of the province's MLAs had been scheduled, but last week Premier Christy Clark and de Jong each said they had to discuss whether to cancel the session.

"We've got a new cabinet, new ministers in virtually every portfolio," said de Jong. "The government will be preoccupied over the next number of months in terms of the preparation of the budget blueprint and continuing what began in the summer, reaching out to British Columbians."

"I think that's a mistake for the government not to come back to the legislature," said NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston.

The government had pledged to use the spring session for budget debates and hold fall sessions to pass legislation, he said. Instead they jammed through legislation last spring and have decided to avoid the accountability that comes with sitting in the house and taking questions in question period, he said.

Ralston said he was disappointed, but added, "Frankly I'm not surprised."

A provincial election is scheduled for May 14, 2013. An Angus Reid poll released yesterday showed the NDP continuing to lead with 46 percent support to 25 percent for the BC Liberals and 19 percent for the BC Conservatives, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

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

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