Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon today delivered the BC Liberal Government’s Speech from the Throne outlining the government’s priorities for the first full legislative session since last year’s election. Next week (Tuesday, February 18) Finance Minister Mike de Jong will table the provincial budget.
Not surprisingly, the Throne Speech re-iterated the core themes the government emphasized to secure its election win last May: jobs, the economy, and fiscal responsibility. Core to that agenda remains the development of a liquefied natural gas industry with a new framework for LNG development; efforts to control spending and reduce the size of government through a Core Review of government services; and a focus on developing BC’s natural resources to create jobs.
The Speech also directly stated the government’s belief that growing the economy means “getting to yes.” It’s clear that economic development will continue to take priority over the environment, a signal reinforced by the government’s commitment to further reduce red tape.
If policy continuity is the major take-away from this Throne Speech, there were some notable highlights that add substance to the BC Liberals’ plan. For example, the government promised to develop a ten-year transportation plan “that will identify the areas of greatest need for investment in the next decade.” It also committed to a new strategy to grow BC’s technology sector and to re-engineer our secondary and post-secondary institutions to match skills to jobs. And finally, it highlighted promised legislation to modernize BC’s antiquated liquor policies and introduce a new Water Sustainability Act.
Reaction to the Throne Speech from the Official Opposition was predictably negative. NDP Leader Adrian Dix said the government’s agenda is empty and the speech failed to mention issues like child poverty and equality. In immediate aftermath of the speech, the media is remarking on its lack of substance (always the case in a Throne Speech) but has zeroed in on promises such as the commitment to re-engineer post-secondary education.
The BC Legislature will now sit Monday to Thursday with Finance Minister Mike de Jong tabling the government’s budget next Tuesday. The Legislature is scheduled to sit until May 29, and then return October 6. Due to the heavy legislative workload being planned, the government has already signalled that it will sit for a fall session of the legislature.