Amending and Subamending the Throne Speech

Over the course of the last two days, MLAs have been debating the Speech from the Throne. As I noted on Tuesday after the 4th session of the 40th parliament of the Province of British Columbia was opened, I am of the view that despite mounting challenges facing families in British Columbia, the Throne Speech advanced no new ideas about how to grow the economy or help those who are most in need. I will be offering my response in the Legislature on Monday.

Today, Selina Robinson NDP MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville moved an amendment to the throne speech:

[Be it resolved that the motion “We, Her Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, in session assembled, beg leave to thank Your Honour for the gracious Speech which Your Honour has addressed to us at the opening of the present session,” be amended by adding the following:

“and that the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia regrets that the families in the province have seen their wages fall as they pay more for their basic services, while the government gives a break to the highest two per cent of income earners; regrets that the government has failed to meet its commitment that all British Columbians will have access to a general practitioner by 2015; regrets that seniors still do not have flexible options for home care or assisted living; regrets that young people in the province face uncertain job prospects as the government has bet on one sector rather than working with businesses and workers across B.C. to reach their potential; and regrets that the government will not fulfill its commitment for at least one LNG pipeline and terminal online in B.C. by 2015.”]

I subsequently rose to table a sub-amendment.

[To sub-amend the amendment by striking out the word “period” after 2015 and inserting the words “and recognizes that leadership in government requires a commitment to seek out and incorporate ideas from others, while leadership in opposition requires a commitment to offering solutions, and hence calls on this House to collaborate on the development of a new vision for British Columbia that builds on the good ideas of all members, regardless of their party affiliation.”]

Prior to moving my sub-amendment I offered the following preamble:

The role of government is to offer British Columbians a vision. The role of opposition, if they do not like the vision government is offering, is to offer a counter-vision. Unfortunately, the amendment before us does not offer a counter-vision. All it does is simply hurl abuse, hurl negativity on the government’s vision.

Now, I agree with what was said in the actual amendment. That is, I agree that the government did promise to give every British Columbian a general practitioner by 2015. In fact, in Victoria, the region I am in, there is not a single general practitioner accepting new patients south of Mill Bay. That’s more than 350,000 people.

I agree that seniors do not have flexible options for home care. I agree that young people in the province face uncertain job prospects, in particular in light of the fact that we’re re-engineering our education system for a hypothetical industry that I’ve been saying for two years now — not one, not two, actually more than two years now — is not supported by the economic reality that the world is oversupplied with natural gas and ours is expensive.

There are many other reasons that I agree with the amendment. However, it is our responsibility as opposition, when we don’t agree with government’s vision, to offer a vision that we could hang our hats on.

Next week, I hope to offer British Columbians such a vision. And I look forward to voting in favour of both the amendment and sub-amendment.

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