Hit-and-run victim discharged without treatment

Mary Stewart

0927 - 

Health officials are apologizing after a woman who suffered severe injuries in a hit-and-run was discharged from hospital without treatment. 

Mary Stewart was struck while crossing the street on a rainy night in Chilliwack earlier this month, leaving her with fractures in her hip, femur and knee, a dislocated pelvis, a crushed ankle and head injuries. For a while, the 55-year-old feared she wouldn't survive.

"I have eight children, and they seen their mother on her death bed," said Stewart, who described the vehicle that struck her as a semi-truck.


Grade 6 boys to begin getting HPV vaccinations

For the first time in British Columbia, boys in Grade 6 will be receiving free vaccinations for the Human Papillomavirus.

HPV is one of the most commonly sexually transmitted infections and B.C. health authorities say three out of four sexually active people will get it at some point in their lives.


Liberal leadership race – enter Mike de Jong

Mike de Jong

Mike de Jong brings a more impressive resume to his second run for leadership of the B.C. Liberal Party, as a finance minister with the best track record in the country.

That string of balanced budgets and growing surpluses may be his biggest asset, and also a liability with party members who are still recovering from the party’s slow-motion fall from power over the summer. Legendary for his frugality, the Abbotsford West MLA was too frugal for some voters, leading to lost seats in Metro Vancouver and a lost grip on power as the NDP and B.C. Greens teamed up to form a minority government that could last for years to come.


Government seeks input on marijuana distribution

0926 - The B.C. government has begun a public engagement process regarding how legalized marijuana will be sold throughout the province.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said starting until Nov. 1, people can go to this website to share their views about the province's approach to marijuana legalization and how the province can "keep young people, neighbourhoods and roads safe."

Under the federal government's new laws, province and territories have the power to regulate the distribution and retail sales of non-medical marijuana. Provinces can also decide on enforcement for marijuana-impaired drivers.


B.C. VIEWS: Politicians loot public treasury

By Tom Fletcher
Black Press

0925 - It is astonishing how badly Premier John Horgan mishandled his sudden announcement that after a decade of crusading against “big money” in B.C. politics, he was reversing his often-stated position and moving to siphon millions from the provincial treasury to prop up established political parties.

For someone who can’t stop bragging about leading a new government for “the people” instead of special interests, Horgan’s decision to lavishly reward his own special interest, and to do it while totally misreading the public mood, is difficult to understand. He’s been premier for two whole months and he’s already lost touch.


Wilkinson weighs in for B.C. Liberal leadership

He’s been a rural doctor, a big-city lawyer and president of the B.C. Liberal Party, and now he wants to take over the leadership.

Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson on Monday announced his bid to succeed Christy Clark. He listed a lineup of caucus support from around the province.


Bernier confirms Liberal leadership bid

Mike Bernie

0925 - Mike Bernier wants to be the next premier of British Columbia. 

The South Peace MLA said he will officially seek the Liberal leadership after a BC Liberal AGM Saturday in Dawson Creek.

“I will be running.”

He says the vibe throughout the province has been infectious about the potential for him as the leader of the Liberal party.



Weather could carve into pumpkin harvests

CTV Vancouver Island photo

0924 - B.C. pumpkin growers are sounding the alarm saying this year’s pumpkin supply has taken a hit due to the dry and hot summer.

The owner of Galey Farms in Saanich says the supply at his pumpkin patch is down 20 per cent.

“We do have a less amount of the pumpkins and some of the sizes are down quite a bit this year,” farmer Rob Galey said.

The dry summer caused some complications in the pumpkin growing process.



Watts, Sullivan enter B.C. Liberal leadership race

Dianne Watts

0924 - Conservative MP Dianne Watts has thrown her hat into the BC Liberal Party leadership race. 

In a much-hyped announcement in Surrey on Sunday afternoon, Watts told an invitation-only room of supporters that it was time to “bring our province back from a coalition government that is not only unstable, but determined to raise taxes, gut our natural resource sector and drive jobs and investment out of this province.”

– – – –

MLA Sam Sullivan was the first person to announce plans to run for the leadership in a news release on Thurday.

Sullivan, a former Vancouver mayor who was first elected to the legislature in 2012, says in a news release Thursday he had formally filed his application for the party’s leadership race and vows to bring more urban and youth support to the party.

Man tells bears to 'please leave' his yard

0923 - A video of a Sooke man’s polite encounter with a family of black bears on his property has gone viral, with many praising his perfectly Canadian response.

When Jordan Cote heard his tenant’s dog barking outside on Monday, he walked out onto his deck to find a black bear with two young cubs just metres away.

“I didn’t even realize what was going on until I walked around the corner and the two cubs were attached to the mama bear’s leg,” he said. “[The dog] didn’t leave the deck area and the bears never approached her. They kept their distance.”


Legal pot tops agenda at municipal conference

0923 - Municipalities in British Columbia are clamouring to have a say in the marijuana policies they believe will fall largely on their shoulders to enforce when pot becomes legal next summer.

Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang, who is also the city's point person on marijuana, said municipalities have largely been ignored by the federal government, which has so far taken a "father-knows-best approach." "It's a bit of snobbery or haughtiness on the part of the federal government," Jang said.

"The rubber hits the road with us. We'll be the ones having to regulate, enforce whatever the federal laws are through our police, through our zoning, through our business licence processing."


Parksville RCMP focussing on prolific offenders

0922 - Prolific offenders are unwelcome in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, and the Oceanside RCMP is making sure they know it.

Staff Stg. Marc Pelletier, commander of the local detachment, presented an incident report update to Parksville’s city council at its regular meeting Monday, Sept. 18. The report highlighted the detachment’s efforts to combat property crime by repeat offenders and transient troublemakers, and also spotlighted the need for more help in tracking down traffic violators.


Parksville Qualicum Beach food drive nets 5,700 pounds

0921 - Residents and sponsors in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area have again shown their overwhelming support for the local edition of the B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive (BCTFD).

The annual event, held Sept. 16 drew more than 20 volunteers who went door-to-door and collected more than 5,700 pounds of non-perishable food for the Mount Arrowsmith Food Bank.


Victoria parts company with its city manager

Jason Johnson

0921 - Victoria is parting ways with its city manager three-and-a-half years after he took up the job.

The city announced Friday that it has “decided to make a change to the City Manager position” and current manager Jason Johnson will be leaving the job this week.

Johnson was hired in February 2014 and played a key role in bringing the city’s financial planning process up-to-date and by overseeing major projects like the Johnson Street Bridge replacement, said Mayor Lisa Helps.

Saliva tests likely for marijuana-impaired driving

Mike Farnworth
Public Safety Minister

0921 - The federal government is offering provinces help with the task of enforcing marijuana-impaired driving by the time recreational use is legalized across Canada on July 1, 2018.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said  enforcement was a main focus of his meetings with other provincial ministers and federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould last week.

The federal parliament is considering Bill C-46, the Justin Trudeau government’s proposed crackdown on impaired driving. The legislation gives police new powers to demand breath samples for alcohol and saliva samples for drug impairment, and it was introduced this spring along with the legislation to legalize recreational marijuana sales.

Lightning strike forces plane into emergency landing

0919 - A lightning strike forced a plane originating from Comox to perform an emergency landing in Vancouver on Sept. 18.

Shortly before 7:30 p.m. Monday night, Pacific Coastal Airlines flight 713 was hit by lightning, about 20 minutes outside of Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Twenty-seven passengers and three crew members were aboard the flight, which departed from Comox Valley Airport (YQQ) at 7:07 p.m.

“An aircraft declared emergency landing. Has landed safely. No impact to airport operations,” tweeted Vancouver Airport following the incident.

It's a different story after the election – we pay

Mike Smyth
The Province

0919 - When Premier John Horgan was asked during the election campaign if B.C. taxpayers would be forced to finance political parties, his answer was plain enough.

“Just to be clear,” CHNL radio host Shane Woodford asked Horgan. “There is going to be nothing in there about taxpayers having to fund political parties?”

“That’s correct,” Horgan responded.

Now that the electionis over, it's a different story.

Mike Smyth in THE PROVINCE


Hydro will be 'burned' if Site C is suspended or cancelled

Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun

0919 - B.C. Hydro would face payouts of more than $1 billion to cancel or suspend the Site C project, according to an independent review for the B.C. Utilities Commission.

The Crown corporation would also have to discount or write off the more than $2 billion already spent building the giant hydroelectric dam on the Peace River, before starting from scratch to seek alternatives.


Taxpayers to get the tab for political campaigns

By Tom Fletcher
Black Press

0917 - Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby began delivering on their often-promised restrictions on donations to political parties Monday.

Eby introduced a bill in the legislature that limits individual donations to $1,200 a year, the second-lowest limit in Canada, and bans union and corporate donations. Any prohibited donations collected since the May 2017 election can’t be used in a future election.

The legislation also includes a “transitional annual allowance” for political parties with a minimum number of votes, amounting to $2.50 per vote received next year. That amount diminishes to $2.25 per vote in 2019, $2 in 2020 and and $1.75 in 2021 and 2022.

Field of prospective Liberal leadership candidates is growing

Rich Coleman
Interim Leaders

The interim leader of the B.C. Liberal Party says while no one has officially declared they will seek the party’s top job, several high profile candidates appear interested.

Rich Coleman says Mike Bernier, Todd Stone, Mike de Jong and Andrew Wilkinson, all former cabinet ministers in B.C.’s previous Liberal government, have been considering their chances.

Coleman also says Conservative member of Parliament Dianne Watts, two-term Liberal MLA Sam Sullivan and newly elected Vancouver-Langara Liberal Michael Lee are all mulling leadership bids.


Political donation restrictions coming today

Premier John Horgan

0918 - Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby are delivering on their often-promised restrictions on donations to political parties today.

Horgan and Eby both indicated last week that legislation was imminent to rein in fund-raising that came to a peak before the last election, with the B.C. Liberal Party piling up millions from corporations and the NDP taking the biggest single donation in B.C. history from the U.S.-based United Steelworkers.

Eby indicated last week that the new rules will be retroactive to the May election, so 2017 will be the last B.C. election to benefit from lax rules that permit foreign donations and have no limits.
TOM FLETCHER has the deails

Sager is all in for BC Liberal leadership race

Lucy Sager

0917 - While some party heavyweights and potential star candidates play coy about their intentions, one B.C. Liberal leadership hopeful has already jumped into the contest feet first.

Lucy Sager, 38, believes she’s the outsider the party needs to get the party back in power and put the province back on track.

A resident of Terrace, she toyed with “North of Hope” for a campaign slogan, before settling on “Bringing British Columbia Together.”



End of tolls boosts traffic on bridges

0916 - It turns out, the experts were right. More drivers are using the Port Mann bridge since tolls were eliminated on Sept 1 by the new NDP government and that's creating some new headaches for drivers.

In the week of Sept. 4 from Monday to Friday, nearly 150,000 more trips were taken on the Port Mann, compared to the same five-day period last year — an increase of 25.58 per cent.

The Golden Ears Bridge saw an even greater increase of 28.25 per cent. 


BUDGET – some will save, some will pay more

Hon. Carole James

0911 - The B.C. government is going ahead with a 50 per cent cut to Medical Services Plan premiums at the start of 2018, and the application process is being scrapped to make it easier for individuals and employers.

Finance Minister Carole James said the B.C. Liberal plan to cut the rate only for families earning up to $120,000 a year was “unworkable,” requiring people to share their tax information and employers to manage the private information.



BUDGET – The winners and the losers

British Columbia’s minority NDP government has released an update of its budget before a full budget is tabled in February. Here are some highlights:

— Carbon tax rate increased by $5 a tonne on April 1, 2018, as climate action tax credit increased for low- and middle-class families but the carbon tax will no longer be revenue neutral.

— $208 million for construction of 1,700 affordable rental housing units.

— $291 million for construction of 2,000 modular housing units for the homeless, with $170 million over three years for round-the-clock staff and support services.

— 50 per cent cut in Medical Services Plan premiums for all British Columbians as a step toward eliminating them over four years.

— Up to 3,500 new teachers; $681 million increase for kindergarten-to-Grade 12 education over three years.

— $100-per-month increase for income and disability assistance.

— $200-a-month increase to earnings exemptions for income and disability assistance recipients to connect to jobs.

— Reduction in small business corporate income tax rate to two per cent, from 2.5 per cent.

— $19 million for restoration of free adult basic education and English-language learning in both the kindergarten- to Grade 12 and post-secondary sectors.

— $15 million over three years for the Healthy Kids Program to provide hearing assistance benefits and improved rates for dental services.

— Personal income tax rate of 16.8 per cent on taxable income over $150,000, up from 14.7 per cent.

— Increase in corporate income tax to 12 per cent, from 11 per cent.

— $290 million for the Health Ministry and to establishment Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions in supporting prevention, early intervention and treatment involving illicit opioids and overdoses; $32 million for law enforcement and coroners’ service.


Students and teachers: The government announced $681 million over three years for the education system, including hiring 3,500 teachers and ensuring smaller classrooms. The NDP government is also providing capital funding of $50 million to address space requirements.

Renters and the homeless: An investment of $208 million over four years will support the construction of more than 1,700 new units of affordable rental housing in communities across B.C. Another $291 million will be spent building 2,000 modular supportive housing units for the homeless and $172 million over three years will go toward operating them and providing 24-7 staffing and supports.

Parents: The budget increased provincial funding for early childhood development and child care to $330 million this fiscal year to support up to 4,100 new child care spaces. It did not mention $10-a-day child care, which was a key promise of the NDP campaign, but it said the government will work over the next few months to develop a long-term plan for universal child care.

Small business owners: Sales tax on electricity purchases by businesses is being phased out and the small business corporate income tax rate is being lowered to 2 per cent from 2.5 per cent.

Medical services premium payers: Premiums will be cut by 50 per cent effective Jan. 1, 2018, and the income threshold at which households are fully exempt is increased by $2,000.


Corporate businesses: The general corporate income tax rate will rise to 12 per cent from 11 per cent. Jock Finlayson, B.C. Business Council vice president, said the business community expected the tax changes as they were part of the NDP’s election platform, but “this budget isn’t going to create a lot of new investment.”

High-income earners: The government has increased the individual income tax rate to 16.8 per cent from 14.7 per cent on taxable income over $150,000.

Fossil fuel-dependent businesses and individuals: Starting April 1, 2018, carbon tax rates will increase by $5 per tonne annually until rates are equal to $50 per tonne on April 1, 2021. The requirement that the tax be revenue-neutral will also be removed, allowing the government to spend revenues on measures that reduce emissions.

BC Hydro ratepayers: The NDP promised during its election campaign to freeze BC Hydro rates, a pledge reiterated in the premier’s mandate letter to Energy Minister Michelle Mungall, but there was no mention of a freeze in the budget tabled Monday.

Ferry users: The NDP’s election platform called for the freezing of fares on major routes, a 15 per cent reduction of fares on minor routes and promised that seniors would again travel free again during the week. The commitments were not included in the budget.

The Canadian Press

Plecas taints an already-shabby B.C. political scene

By Tom Fletcher
Black Press

0910 - During the past summer of political uncertainty in B.C., there was a lot of earnest talk about protecting the integrity of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

The legislature website describes the role this way: “The Speaker is neutral, responsible for making sure that all MLAs, no matter what party they belong to, are treated fairly and impartially.”

This claim has taken a beating this year, notably on March 16, in the last question period before the spring election. NDP leader John Horgan was pressing then-premier Christy Clark on huge corporate donations to the B.C. Liberal Party, amid loud and ugly heckling, even by B.C.’s coarse standards.


Plecas defects from Liberals to take Speaker's job

Plecas (right) after being named Speaker

0908 - B.C. Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas turned on his own party Friday to become the legislature’s new Speaker, an act the interim Liberal leader called a betrayal.

His decision means the NDP, governing with a razor-thin majority with help from the three Green MLAs,  is far more likely to survive votes in the split legislature.

Plecas was the only candidate to put his name forward Friday morning, which indicates his move was planned with the New Democrat government, who did not offer one of their own MLAs for the job.


Govt taking a new look at Agricultural Land Reserve

By Tom Fletcher
Black Press

0906 -Getting rid of the two-zone Agricultural Land Reserve is just one of the changes in the works for the NDP government, along with serving B.C. produce in hospitals and restoring a province-wide Buy B.C. marketing program.

The second zone of the land reserve to allow additional land uses outside the development-intensive areas of the Lower Mainland, southern Vancouver Island and the Okanagan is a failed experiment, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham told Black Press in an interview.

Get the whole story HERE.

Free tuition for young people aging out of foster care

Post-secondary institutions around B.C. will follow the lead of Vancouver Island University with implementation of a program waiving tuition for young adults leaving foster care.

The university was the first in B.C. to implement the waiver program, followed by 11 other institutions. The program will cover tuition fees for students provided they are from B.C., between 19 and 26 years old and have been care for at least two years meaning all 25 institutions will have the program. Qualifying students who have already paid tuition for the upcoming semester will be refunded.


Liberals set Feburary leadership vote

0829 - The B.C. Liberal Party is holding a province-wide vote Feb. 2-4 to select a new leader.

The vote retains many of the rules of the 2011 contest that chose former premier Christy Clark, with every member getting a weighted vote that ensures the decision doesn’t favour urban constituencies with more population and members. 

Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong announced this week he is considering a second run at the leadership, with the release of a poll finding him likeliest to challenge NDP Premier John Horgan. Another poll gave former Surrey mayor and now South Surrey-White Rock MLA Dianne Watts the edge in public opinion.

B.C.Liberals prepare for leadership convention

British Columbia’s Liberal party has taken the first step towards the election of a new leader.

The party executive has appointed a committee to develop the rules and procedures for a contest to replace Christy Clark, who stepped down last month after the Liberal government was defeated on a confidence motion following May’s election. 

There is no date for a leadership contest.

The executive says the rules committee will seek feedback from riding association presidents and caucus members.

When she stepped down, Clark said her departure would give the Liberal party a chance to renew itself and prepare for the Opposition benches after 16 years in power.

She said the timing of her exit is good for both her and the party because she doesn’t believe there will be an election in the fall.

The Canadian Press

Green leader calls for ride-share legislation

By Tom Fletcher
Black Press

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is calling on the NDP government to move ahead with regulation of ride sharing services by the end of the year.

“I think they need to be pushed in that direction,” Weaver said Monday, noting that an unregulated service is already operating in Vancouver using the China-based social network WeChat.


Minimum wage going up in September to $11.35

Harry Bains

B.C.’s minimum wage is going up 50 cents next month as part of a plan to hit $15 per hour by 2021.

NDP labour minister Harry Bains made the announcement on Tuesday, saying the rate will go up by 50 cents, to $11.35 an hour, in September. The liquor servers’ wage will go up by the same amount to $10.10 per hour.

The previous BC Liberal government had pledged to boost the minimum wage by 50 cents in February, but Bains panned what he called their slow and unpredictable approach.


Government to ban grizzly bear hunting by year end

Killing grizzly bears for trophy will come to an end in British Columbia, but not before hunters get one more shot this season.

Natural Resource Operations Minister Doug Donaldson said the province is moving to ban trophy hunting for grizzly bears and will complete ban the hunt of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest as of Nov. 30.


Minister apologizes for slamming Wilson

B.C.’s jobs minister is taking back what he says were inaccurate statements about a former advocate for the province’s liquefied natural gas program.

Minister Bruce Ralston has released a retraction, saying statements he made about Gordon Wilson were based on incorrect information.

Wilson was hired by the previous Liberal government to advocate for the LNG Buy BC program in 2013. He was fired from the post early this month, with Ralston saying the government could not find any reports by Wilson about what he had done to earn his salary.


Gordon Wilson threatens to sue Premier Horgan

Premier John Horgan

(0807) Former B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Wilson is threatening to sue Premier John Horgan over comments Horgan made about Wilson’s work for the vanquished Liberal government. The government fired Wilson last week as the province’s $150,000-a-year “LNG Buy B.C. Advocate.”

Jobs Minister Bruce Ralston said the new government did a review of Wilson’s work and couldn’t find any written reports he produced. “It’s very difficult to see that he accomplished anything other than to cash his cheques,” Ralston said.


Coleman names opposition critics, noting NDP omissions

Rich Coleman

(0806) Opposition Leader Rich Coleman has assigned critic roles to his Liberal caucus while noting “two glaring omissions from the NDP cabinet,” small business and the rural economy. 

“Both heavily contribute to the backbone of our province’s economy so our shadow cabinet features critics who will ensure these issues are front and centre,” Coleman, who takes over as the interim Liberal leader on Friday, said in a news release. “We will make the NDP remember the importance of small business and the economy to all British Columbians.”


NDP fund raiser under 'old rules" tees off Green leader

John Horgan

0804 - Premier John Horgan, who has promised to get big money out of B.C. politics, is hosting a $500-a-head fundraising event at Bear Mountain Resort this month that will accept union and corporate donations.

The NDP is billing the event as the “Leader’s Golf Tournament” and inviting people to join Horgan and MLA Rob Fleming for a round of golf and a dinner reception on Thursday, Aug. 24.

The NDP is charging $2,000 for a foursome of golfers and confirmed Thursday that the event will operate under “existing rules” — meaning that corporations and unions are free to buy tickets.

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, who helped Horgan defeat the Liberal government, blasted the NDP for continuing to hold such events, while at the same time promising to ban union and corporate donations to political parties.


B.C. government orders review of Site C dam project

0803 -British Columbia’s New Democrat government has requested an independent review of the $8.8-billion Site C dam, threatening thousands of construction jobs on what was a signature megaproject for former premier Christy Clark.

The government has asked the B.C. Utilities Commission to determine the economic viability of the massive hydroelectric dam on the Peace River. The review will begin Aug. 9, with interim findings six weeks later and a final report by Nov. 1.

The NDP campaigned on having the project reviewed by the commission, a practice that was once standard in B.C., before the previous Liberal government’s clean-energy laws allowed some projects to bypass the regulatory agency.



New minister says she's reviewing housing tax programs

0802 - British Columbia’s new housing minister is reviewing the tax on foreign buyers of Vancouver real estate and the province’s interest-free loan program to first-time homebuyers.

Selina Robinson said she and Finance Minister Carole James are analyzing whether those measures brought in by the previous Liberal government were effective in stabilizing Vancouver’s housing market and improving affordability.

Before they won the May election, the NDP promised to bring in an annual two per cent tax on vacant properties, but Robinson says that too is under review.

A year ago, the Liberal government implemented a 15 per cent tax on foreign nationals purchasing property in Metro Vancouver in an effort to cool skyrocketing house prices.


Clark says she's done with public life

Christy Clark

Christy Clark is done – with public life, with politics and with cameras.

The outgoing premier spoke publicly for the first time on Monday since she announced her resignation from the BC Liberal party leadership and as an MLA on Friday.

Clark, whose party won the election in May, lost a confidence vote in June to an NDP-Green partnership.

 MORE - including video

Krog not surprised at Clark's departure

Leonard Krog, MLA

The resignation of B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark creates more stability in the legislature, says the NDP caucus chairman.

Clark announced on Friday her intention to resign both as her party’s leader and as MLA for Kelowna West. Rich Coleman was announced as interim party leader.

Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog wasn’t entirely surprised, saying he expected Clark’s resignation would come sooner rather than later.


Indigenous Peoples cannot veto pipelines: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has confirmed that Indigenous nations do not have the right to veto resource development projects. This is the upshot of two separate rulings released Wednesday.

That is good news for proponents of oil and gas pipelines such as the controversial Kinder Morgan project in British Columbia.

It is bad news for those who had hoped that Indigenous resistance would be sufficient to derail such projects, including pipelines designed to move heavy oil from Alberta to tidewater.


Softwood lumber deal getting close, says Horgan

Premier John Horgan

0728 - British Columbia Premier John Horgan says Canada and the United States are close to reaching a softwood lumber trade deal that could come as early as next month.

Horgan made the comments Thursday during a conference call from Washington, D.C., following two days of meetings with trade officials from President Donald Trump’s administration and Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. 

Horgan said talks between Canada’s Foreign Affairs  
Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross are ongoing and it appears they are close to reaching a market-share agreement.

“There have been intense negotiations between Mr. Ross and Minister Freeland, and they’re very close to an agreement but there are challenges with the representatives on the (U.S. Lumber) Coalition that brought the dispute to a head,” Horgan said.



Christy Clark resigns as Liberal Party leader

Christy Clark

0728 - Former premier Christy Clark is stepping down as leader of the B.C. Liberal Party, effective Aug. 4, and is leaving politics.

The announcement comes just 10 days after B.C. NDP leader John Horgan was sworn in as B.C.premier, having formed a historic alliance with the B.C. Green Party following a tumultuous provincial election.

"Serving as premier and serving the people of British Columbia for the past six and a half years has been an incredible honour and privilege," Clark said in a statement. "I am so proud of everything our B.C. Liberal team has accomplished.


New govt won't delay Trans Mountain Pipeline permits

0726 - B.C.’s attorney general says the NDP government will not artificially delay permits for the Trans Mountain pipeline, despite the premier’s vow to use every available tool to stop the project.

David Eby said he’s been tasked by Premier John Horgan to identify options to halt Kinder Morgan Canada’s $7.4-billion expansion of its Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline, which has already been approved by Ottawa and the previous B.C. government.

Eby said the province cannot deliberately stall on permits without risking a costly lawsuit, but it can ensure that permits require that construction be done in a way that minimizes spills, protects the environment and ensures appropriate cleanup.


Blaming market for LNG retreat convenient for political critics

Vaughn Palmer

0726 - When news broke Tuesday that Malaysia’s Petronas was walking away from the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project here in B.C., the New Democrats were quick to absolve themselves of any part in the demise of the $36 billion project.

“The company was very clear — this was a decision they are making because of the economic challenges in the global energy marketplace,” said newly appointed Energy Minister Michelle Mungall, reading from a prepared statement.

This isn’t about anything else other than Petronas looking at that long-term reality in the international market,” she told reporters.


Liberal dream for LNG runs out of gas

0726 - Pacific NorthWest LNG says it will not be proceeding with the $36-billion liquefied natural gas megaproject it had planned to build in British Columbia.

The consortium says the announcement by Petronas and its partners comes after a careful review of changes in market conditions.

Anuar Taib, executive vice-president and CEO (upstream) for Petronas, says prolonged depressed prices and shifts in the energy industry made the decision necessary.


Horgan's 100-day plan is ambitious, aggressive

Mr. Horgan goes to Washington

0725 - Premier John Horgan heads to Ottawa and Washington, D.C., this week to make B.C.’s case on the softwood lumber dispute with the Americans while pressing our federal government for money and assistance at home.

It’s part of an aggressive agenda for the new NDP government that will unfold in the coming days and weeks in a busy 100-day plan for the province.


Changes under way at B.C. Hyrdo – McDonald is out

0723 - BC Hydro confirms it has had a change in leadership, but few details have been released.

A Hydro spokeswoman says its president and chief executive officer Jessica McDonald is no longer with the company – a decision the provincial government says would have been made by the corporation's board of directors.

Chris O'Riley, who was BC Hydro's deputy CEO, has now been appointed president in McDonald's place, but he is not filling the role of chief executive officer.


Report says ICBC is in a terrible mess, rate hikes coming

0723 -The finger pointing is underway in earnest after a leaked report warned B.C. motorists will get hit with auto insurance rate hikes of almost 30 per cent in the next two years if the government doesn’t massively overhaul ICBC’s basic insurance system.

The 203-page report by Ernst & Young says drastic measures are needed that could include capping payouts for pain and suffering for minor injuries, re-introducing photo radar, changing red-light cameras so they also catch speeders, boosting police efforts to catch distracted and impaired drivers, and making high-risk drivers pay more for insurance.

The report was commissioned by ICBC’s board earlier this year while the Liberal government was in power, but was not made public.


Ferry fare promises to come into effect in next few weeks

0721 - Three key promises in the NDP campaign platform regarding B.C. Ferries are set to come into effect in the next few weeks.

The NDP platform specified that fares on the major routes will be frozen, fares on minor routes will be rolled back 15 per cent and seniors will once again travel free during the week.

"We are absolutely committed to making sure that life is more affordable for people. And that includes dealing with ferry fares. They were out of control over the last 16 years when the liberal government just walked away from the island communities," says Trevena.


NDP starts house cleaning in crown corporations

0721 - Premier John Horgan is moving quickly to put the New Democratic Party stamp on the province's Crown corporations and government organizations.

A news release from the premier's office says four appointments have been made aimed at delivering on government commitments to offer relief for families on hydro rates, auto insurance costs and housing affordability.

Former NDP finance minister, deputy premier and health minister Joy MacPhail has been appointed chair of the Insurance Corp. of B.C., while Cathy McLay, chief financial officer and executive vice-president of TransLink, will serve as a director of the auto insurance corporation. 


Province hikes disability and welfare rates

Premier Horgan

0721 - Premier John Horgan has announced an increase in income assistance and disability rates by $100 a month effective Sept. 20. This is the first time the welfare rate has increased in a decade.

“Raising the rates is only the beginning,” Horgan said in a statement Thursday. “Our government is committed to bring forward a comprehensive poverty-reduction plan to lift children and families out of poverty.”


Clark opens the purse for children and families

Christy Clark

Today’s Speech from the Throne will include some big spending promises from the BC Liberals. Premier Christy Clark announced Wednesday $1 billion in spending over four years for early childcare and development in B.C., during a Liberal women’s luncheon in Vancouver.

The funds are a part of a”renewed” budget that Clark says will be announced in further detail during the speech in the legislature.


Liberals promise to raise welfare rates

Hon. Michelle Stilwell

June 19 - There will be a promise to raise welfare rates in British Columbia by $100-a-month in the government’s throne speech on Thursday, which is expected to set in motion the defeat of the Liberals after more than 16 years in office.

Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell said Monday the government wants to raise rates after freezing them for more than a decade.

Stilwell did not provide details about the increase other than to say it would take effect either in September or January. A single person on welfare in B.C. currently receives $610 a month.

An official in Premier Christy Clark’s government, who did not want to be named, confirmed the monthly $100 increase, estimated to cost almost $107 million over three years.


NDP-Green climate change plan could cost you $600 per year

John Horgan

0614 -A NDP and Green Party team leading B.C. will cost the average person $594 more in taxes each year, says a new study released Wednesday.

The Fraser Institute says most of that increase would come from fuel and carbon dioxide taxes.

“The NDP-Green agreement states that an NDP-Green government would implement an increase in the carbon-dioxide tax by $5 per tonne per year,” the report reads. “There is no commitment to make the tax increases revenue neutral.”

Families in the $20,000-$50,000 annual income bracket will likely be protected from that tax hike by the proposed climate action rebate, according to the study.

At the top end of the scale, it suggests families earning between $150,000 and $250,000 can expect to pay just over $1,000 more each year in taxes.


Horgan, Weaver cry foul over speaker selection process

By Tom Fletcher

0614 - 

Premier Christy Clark is stalling and hanging onto power by refusing to keep a legislature speaker in place after her government is defeated, NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver say.

The NDP-Green alliance would sacrifice its one-seat advantage once the B.C. Liberal minority government is defeated, expected to take place by June 29 or shortly after.

Horgan worked out a deal with Weaver after the May 9 election to vote down the upcoming B.C. Liberal throne speech and support an NDP government on key votes.

The plot thickens at Victoria castle


The sudden instability of the minority provincial government has generated interest in the ancient machinery of the B.C. legislature, its roots deep in British parliamentary tradition.

It’s shaping up like a lost seventh season of Downton Abbey, where the servant class finally takes over upstairs. Christy Clark, the Duchess of Dunbar, might have to don the apron of opposition leader. The coming weeks will be a live-action drama on how the B.C. government works, or doesn’t work.

I had a mix of responses to last week’s column, which described how Clark’s B.C. Liberals technically won the election and remain the government. By the second half of June this will be demonstrated, and the people who said I was (to put it politely) wrong will have a chance to learn more about the process that is now underway.



Clark gives Horgan, Weaver a deadline on Site C decision

Premier Christy Clark

June 6, 2017 - Premier Christy Clark has given the B.C. NDP and the B.C. Greens four days to decide whether to issue a “tools down” order to workers and halt the construction of the $9-billion Site C dam.

That June 10 deadline came in a pair of nearly identical letters sent by Clark to NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver to defend her party’s decision to approve the project and to warn of what she suggests could be a $600-million, one-year delay in the project’s timeline.

Clark’s letter follows one sent by Horgan last week to Jessica McDonald, head of B.C. Hydro. In his letter, Horgan had put forward a request for the Crown corporation to hold off on finalizing any deals without a penalty-free cancellation clause.


Speaker may cause a constitutional issue

By Brian Peckford

June 6, 2017 - Recent election results have 43 Liberals elected, and 44 NDP and Greens elected. The NDP/Greens have formed an alliance for the Greens of 3 to support the NDP of 41. 

Problem. Speaker. By convention/custom (important in Canada and the British Commonwelth) a speaker is chosen in the legislature and usually acts in a neutral fashion, only voting in the rare occasion of a tie. And if it is a confidence issue usually votes with the Government to keep stability.

Well, here we have a sitiuation that the Liberals who seem to want to hold power are in no hurry to nominate one of their own for speaker and then reduce their numbers to 42 , and the NDP/Greens, if they nominate one of their number would cause a tie if the speaker upheld the convention of being neutral. And even if convention was broken and the NDP nominee became speaker (voting for him or herself) the new Speaker would most likely have to vote on every motion brought before the Legislature. Somewhat unusual. Of course. If the NDP/Greens nominee does not vote then there is a likely tie.

Experts are looking for examples in history . Well, my native Province( Country) has one .

When Newfoundland was a Dominion , the election of November 1908 was tied –18 to 18. The leader of the opposition, Morris , was asked to form a Government. He proposed a speaker, legislator Warren. The legislature voted to oppose 18 to 17 with Warren not voting. The Prime Minister, Robert Bond, then proposed a speaker , legislator Ellis–the vote was 18 to 18. After wrangling and advice from the Colonial Office in London, an election was called by the Governor for May, 1909, with Morris gaining a healthy majority 26 to 10.

Weaver Wheeling and dealing

Andrew Weaver

The BC Green Party says it has made significant progress in negotiations with both the BC NDP and BC Liberals, but has yet to announce a formal deal with either party as British Columbians wait to see who will govern the province.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver, with MLA-elect for Saanich North and the Islands Adam Olsen, said the party would have an announcement to make mid-week next week on how it will operate in the Legislature when the house resumes.
“We recognize so many are waiting for a decision,” said Weaver. “I want to emphasize this is incredibly complex. It isn’t just about picking the BC NDP or BC Liberals, it’s about trying to ensure we have stability.”



Disproportionate representation not what we need

By Merv Unger

May 24, 2017 - Since the election wound up in a virtual tie, there’s something the Liberals and NDP could do to solve the problem; get their heads out of their own butts and form a coalition between the two parties. They could come to an agreement to put politics aside for, say, two years and simply go about the task of running the government in the best interests of the people. What a novel concept!

Just think about the possibility. Christy Clark could put aside the arrogance she exudes at every turn and John Horgan could shelve his bully goon impersonation. Instead of constantly harping at each other, they could actually focus on doing what’s best for the people of the province. That alone makes this idea worth considering..

Proportional representation is on the front burner as the electoral machinery continues to sort out the hung verdict on the election.

Perhaps that is fortuitous, giving us an example of how such a system might work. The Green Party, which is the main push behind such a scheme, is in the situation where it can virtually control the legislature, even with only three seats. Depending on which party they side with on particular issues, the Greens have a disproportionate amount of clout. In round numbers, the Green Party wound up with less than 20 per cent of the popular vote, but due to the sawoff between the Liberals and the NDP, they will likely have the final say on just about anything.

If they want to turf the Liberals from power, they can do that by forming a coalition with the NDP, giving that new group one more seat than the Liberals. Or they can keep their powder dry and extract whatever they want, from either party, on specific issues.

The Greens are in a position now where they can oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline project all they want, it won’t make any difference – it’s a federal issue, not one where they can save or kill a government. They can genuflect all they want without toppling a government.

Party status is an important issue for the Greens since that would give them considerable support services and funding in the Legislature. That is something either the Liberals or NDP could give them.

Then there’s the Site C power project.

The Green Party’s influence under the present scenario demonstrates how proportional representation could influence decision-making in the Legislature, a small, appointed group could have a disproportionate level of influence.

There are various concepts of proportional representation, but the most-commonly thought-of idea is that we would elect a predetermined number of MLAs as we do now, but add more by appointment, based on a party’s popular vote. For instance, with 20 per cent of the popular vote, they would get to choose 20 per cent of the appointed members of the Legislature.

That raises the question of how that can be democratic, if people can be appointed rather than elected. It’s also an issue of who gets the power to appoint the non-elected representatives of each party, particularly the fringe parties.

We’ve had two referenda on the topic, defeated both times. We don’t need to go there again. In other words, if it ain’t broke don’t mess with it.

We’d be much better off with a Liberal-NDP coalition. But don't hold your breath, they don't care for the good of the province that much.