Technician tests equipment for opening of the B.C. legislature, which begins with the NDP government’s inaugural throne speech Friday. (Legislative Assembly of B.C./Twitter)

NDP government sets new course for B.C.

First change of government in 16 years begins

The last time there was a change of government in the B.C. legislature, the 9/11 terrorist attack was four months in the future, computers sat on desks, Jean Chretien was in his eighth year as prime minister, and the B.C. NDP had fallen from a decade of majority government to two seats in East Vancouver.

Now Premier John Horgan begins his first legislature term without a majority, depending on the support of three B.C. Green Party MLAs who have a list of demands for the new NDP government to deliver.

The legislature that opens with a speech from the throne Friday is a delicate balance for the NDP, whose “confidence and supply agreement” with the Greens has forced them to consult in detail on Finance Minister Carole James’ budget and all major legislation.

The agreement required the legislature to be recalled within 30 days of the defeat of the B.C. Liberals and prevents the NDP from calling an election for the next four years, unless the party loses a vote of confidence. The legislature session is also needed to prevent the $40-billion-a-year provincial government operation from running out of money later this month.

B.C. Liberal interim leader Rich Coleman said Thursday his team is ready to go in their opposition critic roles, including likely leadership candidates Todd Stone from Kamloops, Mike Bernier from Dawson Creek and Andrew Wilkinson from Vancouver. The B.C. Liberals have more than 30,000 members who will select a new leader in February, Coleman said.

The resignation of former premier Christy Clark from the Kelowna West seat gives the NDP-Greens one more vote, 44 to 42, but a by-election must be called by next February in a seat likely to be won by former B.C. Liberal MLA Ben Stewart.

The Green-NDP agreement requires a series of legislative changes to be introduced in the weeks to come. They include:

• Elections Act changes to ban corporate and union donations to political parties and limit personal contributions. The B.C. Liberal government supported that in its last-minute throne speech before being defeated in July, and intended to extend it to local government elections as well.

• A framework for a province-wide referendum on proportional representation, to be held in the fall of 2018. Both the NDP and Greens are to campaign for the adoption of proportional representation, using a yet-to-be determined formula that gives parties seats to reflect their share of the popular vote.

• An overhaul of the Lobbyists Registration Act to increase penalties and extend the prohibition period for former senior public office holders to lobby the B.C. government on behalf of special interests.

• Moving the date of the next B.C. election from May 2021 to the fall, potentially giving the NDP-Green minority government an extra six months in power before going back to voters.

The agreement also requires spring and fall sessions of the legislature every year. The session beginning Sept. 8 is expected to continue until Nov. 30.

Just Posted

Trail officially launches Community Safety Task Force

Terms of Reference (mandates) for both the new groups are available on the city’s website

Last of southern Selkirk caribou relocated to Revelstoke area

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

Nelson police warn of counterfeit money in city

The department says it has received multiple reports of fake Canadian and U.S. cash

Support for Blanket Warming Station at KBRH

Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital is currently undergoing a $19+ million Emergency Department reno

Trail and area artists eligible for arts training grant

Grant to support learning for visual and performance artists

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Former welfare clients still owed money, B.C. Ombudsperson says

Investigation found 2,600 people docked illegally for earning income

Prince George could get province’s second BC Cannabis Store

The first brick-and-mortar government retail location opened in Kamloops on Oct. 17

B.C. chowdery caught up in ‘rat-in-soup’ scandal to close

Crab Park Chowdery will be shutting down Jan. 20

Teen vaping is an epidemic: US government

E-cigarettes are now the top high-risk substance used by teenagers, outpacing cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana

Vancouver councillors unanimously approve motion declaring climate emergency

Vancouver joins cities like Los Angeles and London

‘I never said there was no collusion,’ Trump lawyer says

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he has ‘never said there was no collusion’

Winter weather advisory issued for East Kootenay

Up to 5cm of snow expected by the end of the weekend and up to 15cm over the next week

Body of Canadian miner found after African kidnapping

Kirk Woodman’s body was discovered 100 kilometres from the site where he worked for Progress Mineral Mining Company in Burkina Faso

Most Read