There is a nasty edge to proceedings as the B.C. legislature session winds down this week, with the 2017 election campaign already effectively underway.
Premier Christy Clark and B.C. Liberal ministers have been under attack over their links to big corporate donors, which will be a major theme for the NDP in the next year. You’ll hear more about forest companies West Fraser and Canfor, which escaped without fines after a 2014 audit found they over-cut their northern timber licences by close to one million cubic metres.
NDP MLA David Eby, who knocked Clark out of her Vancouver-Point Grey seat even as she was winning a fourth straight B.C. Liberal majority in 2013, has put the media focus on her posh fundraisers.
Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett was indignant at the suggestion corporations were getting lenient treatment in exchange for political cash. He is adept at needling the NDP, reminding them that mining giant Teck Resources donated almost $60,000 to them.
One of the traditional highlights of the spring session is the premier’s spending estimates, where the opposition gets several hours to grill the premier on political staff, private jets and anything else they want.
Horgan kicked this off last week with his familiar list of criticisms on increased BC Hydro and medical services premiums, soaring house prices in Metro Vancouver and the state of seniors’ care, plus a lengthy examination of Clark’s recent trip to Haida Gwaii.
Clark treated the exercise mainly as an extension of question period, firing back at Horgan on his apparent inability to lead his own caucus.
Horgan abruptly threw in the towel at the end of the first of what had been scheduled to be two days, and fled to Whistler for meetings that were suddenly more important than his legislature duties.
Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @tomfletcherbc