The political future of the province is still wide open, but incumbent Premier and BC Liberal party leader Christy Clark has fired the first slavo in what looms — for B.C. — as an unprecedented political chess match, by reconvening the legislature and delivering her throne speech last week – a throne speech that local Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier Doug Clovechok had a hand — as a member of cabinet — in crafting.
The speech came on Thursday, June 22nd and immediately attracted commentary on policies and spending promised in it that seemed borrowed from the NDP and Greens.
“It has a bold vision, and reflects the priorities of all of B.C,” Clovechok told the Echo. “There is an ongoing schism between urban B.C. and rural B.C. and I think this throne speech is an honest, humble attempt to bridge these differences. It’s (the rural-urban divide) a stark lesson from the last election.”
Clovechok added he feels the BC Liberals have not co-opted other parties’ platforms just to hang on to power (the Greens and NDP combined have more seats in the legislature than the Liberals and, as of press time, seemed poised to vote against the throne speech and topple the new Liberal government).
“Just because you are an NDP’er doesn’t mean you have bad ideas. You just can’t figure out how to pay for them. We can. Did we innovate on ideas from others? You bet. We have heard what people said in the last election, we’ve listened, we’ve learned, and we can work across party lines for benefit of B.C.,” he said. “We didn’t change highways, we just changed lanes. We will still stick to our strategic core values of sound fiscal management, growing the economy and creating jobs.”
Some prominent former BC Liberals, however, expressed things somewhat differently, with former Kootenay East MLA and longtime BC Liberal cabinet minister Bill Bennett telling the Vancouver Sun on the day of the throne speech that the new promises outlined in the throne speech could place pressure on the BC Liberals coalition of centre-left liberals and right-wing conservatives, saying “I think there’s likely to be some real angst today on the part of business and fiscal conservatives.”
Clovechok said during the caucus meeting on the throne speech, he and new Kootenay East Liberal MLA Tom Shypitka advocated heavily for several items of importance to both ridings (Kootenay East is immediately to the south of Columbia River-Revelstoke), and that they were glad to see them included in the throne speech, including stronger efforts to deal with opioid addiction, a new wildlife management process, and finally getting a new conservation officer for Revelstoke.
“In terms of the opioid issue, although we don’t see it on the street like you do on the coast, it is a reality in our riding. I heard that during the elections. We’re going to get new addictive treatment programs implemented and grow the ones we already have,” said Clovechok. “We are looking at getting more RCMP officers, more police out in the communities to put more teeth into the law. If you’re a bad guy, and you’re dealing drugs you know are laced with fentanyl to our kids, knowing it could kill them, we’re coming for you.”
As of press time, on Monday, June 26th, the NDP were vowing to introduce a throne speech confidence motion soon, with a potential vote scheduled for Thursday, June 29th.