Opinion

Waters: Why waste time on a budget that won’t see the light of day?

The wacky world of B.C. politics

got a little wackier this week with a throne speech that looked back instead of ahead and a budget that isn’t expected to be passed or last long enough for the first government cheques to be written.

With B.C. Liberal Party members

scheduled to select a new leader and B.C. premier Feb. 26, yesterday’s budget was simply a place holder.

Under provincial law, a budget has be introduced every year on the second Tuesday in February. So MLAs dutifully trotted back into the legislature—somewhere they had not met since last June—and listened to Finance Minister Colin Hansen offer up the status quo.

It was a pomp and ceremony waste of time.

With all five Liberal leadership contenders offering their own vision of the province’s future, a second 2011 budget, likely coming sooner rather than later, is an almost certain bet.

The budget announced yesterday is not even going to be passed. Instead, special borrowing and spending powers will be approved to allow the government to keep operating for the next three months.

As for Monday’s Throne Speech, it too was a non-event.

Normally the opportunity for the ruling party to lay out an agenda for the coming year, the speech delivered by the lieutenant- governor was simply a lesson in recent Liberal history.

A swan song for outgoing Premier Gordon Campbell, it looked back to last year’s Olympic Games and was a rehash of what his party has done during its 10 years in power.

Any planning for the future is being left to whoever grabs the reins of power after Campbell leaves.

So while B.C. has had a lame duck leader since before Christmas, its now appears to have a lame duck government too—at least for the next couple of weeks.

Last fall the Liberals dispatched a committee to tour the province, gathering ideas for the budget Hansen presented yesterday. But given the fact a 2011 budget version 2.0 is coming, the Liberals would do well to hold onto those ideas.

Local MLA Norm Letnick was part of the touring panel and he believes several good ideas were collected. But given the fact that Tuesday’s budget was simply an exercise in housekeeping, it would be a pity to loose them in the paper shuffle.

B.C.’s elected representatives are also back in Victoria for another two reasons— to eulogize the outgoing leaders of the Liberal and New Democratic Parties.

Campbell and Carol James will no doubt be praised for the work they have done and both deserve credit, and blame, for B.C.’s for the fortunes and misfortunes of their respective parties. But do we need a legislative session for that?

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.

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