The B.C. legislature will resume on Friday with a speech from the Throne. This will be the first session of the legislature since the New Democrats and the Green Party combined to topple the minority Liberals after 16 years. Following a confidence vote, NDP Leader John Horgan was sworn in as the new premier after former premier Christy Clark resigned. Victoria resident Germaine Williamson receives just over $1000 a month in disability benefits. She makes herself a cup of coffee in her rent-subsidized apartment that she pays $320 a month for.
She is hoping tomorrow’s Throne Speech will be kind to those on disability. “I’m hoping that the bus pass will be, the original bus pass, will be re-established,” Williamson said. “For 45 dollars a year.” During the provincial election, then NDP leader John Horgan promised to reinstate the $45 annual bus pass, and make life more affordable for British Columbians. University of Victoria political scientist Michael Prince said the theme of this Throne Speech will be different from the previous Liberal government. “We’ll see that theme of affordability. Already the things that have been announced, improving the welfare rates, and disability rates, tuition fees, the toll bridges,” Prince said. “There’ll be that theme of the things that the Liberals nickeled and dimed you to death on over the last ten or fifteen years. We’re starting to ease that financial pressure.” The NDP promised to get big money out of politics, a key election platform made by Horgan. “We’re going to be tabling legislation to end union and corporate donations as soon as the legislature returns in September,” Horgan said on March 13th. But a $525 a plate NDP party fundraiser is going ahead in Vancouver at the Fairmont Hotel September 22nd. “The optics don’t look good. Clearly this is something that led the NDP to the success they achieved in this election,” Prince said. “The Liberals really got hurt on that cash-for-access.
Big money, big politics with the big friends of Christie Clark.” The new government also has to deal with housing affordability, and the fentanyl crisis. Forestry in the interior is going to take a hit with this years’ wildfires, and more than a million hectacres burned. But Prince says the government will want to ensure they are sending a message of competent financial managers. “I think they want to be sure to convey a sense of competence. That they are not just going to be tax and spend socialists,” Prince said. “That old criticism of the NDP.” Back in her apartment, Germaine Williamson just wants a better future. “I’m hoping that things will be a little better for people all the way around.” READ MORE: John Horgan was sworn in as British Columbia?s 36th premier A new speaker will be elected on Friday, a task that has been made easier after Clark’s resignation, which left the NDP and Green Party with two more seats than the Liberals. Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon will deliver the throne speech in the afternoon setting out the new NDP government’s plans and priorities. The throne speech is expected to include bills that will ban union and corporate donations, increase penalties for lobbying violations and change the timing of general elections. The NDP government will be providing a budget update on Monday. With files from The Canadian Press