Bell & Boone Weigh in on Throne Speech
Prince George, B.C. – Some local reaction to today’s throne speech in Victoria.
As 250News reported earlier today, it includes increased spending – for instance $1-billion over four years to create 60,000 child care spaces, a ban on corporate and union donations, and a referendum on electoral reform (for a full list click here).
Many of the promises were absent from the BC Liberals election platform this spring but added after Premier Christy Clark said she had “listened” to British Columbians after May 9.
“I think there may be some criticism that the Liberals have moved too far to the left, but at the same time, I think they’ve tried to maintain a balance of economic strength and move to support the social issues that have been identified by communities,” says Pat Bell, a former Liberal MLA and cabinet minister.
“So, significantly more spending in education, a poverty reduction plan is something that we’ve heard about for years but not delivered. An increased carbon tax. Those are three initiatives that really move more towards the social side.”
On the other hand, he says there’s a renewed commitment to go forward with construction of Site C – albeit with more consultation – and a commitment to maintain a revenue neutral carbon tax.
“This is a point of difference between the NDP and the Liberals. The NDP intend to use that money to supplement transportation and other social programs whereas the BC Liberals – my read of it is they will reduce individual taxes to reflect and maintain an overall zero increase in the tax burden on individuals.”
He says all eyes will now be on BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver.
“I think the question for Andrew Weaver now will be do you vote against this throne speech that offers many of the same sorts of things that they’ve been looking for that the NDP will promise? Or do you support this government?”
What does Lois Boone – ex-NDP MLA and cabinet minister – make of the speech?
“It makes me laugh a little bit because Christy Clark suddenly cares about all the things that we talked about during the election,” she says.
“And I may sound a bit cynical but I think the rest of the public are also pretty cynical about this as well. She suddenly decided that we need to take big money out of elections? Six times the NDP brought this up in the previous government and they voted it down.”
She says the same goes for her new promises to increase welfare rates and child-care spaces.
“Suddenly Christy Clark has found a heart? I don’t think she has and I don’t think people really trust that she’s going to do any of these things that she talks about.”
Boone likens the policy reversal to a desperate attempt to hold onto power.
“I think she will do and say anything to stay in power. And right now, that’s exactly what she’s trying to do.”