Hugs, kisses not in cards for Valentine’s Day start at B.C. legislature

No love at start of B.C.'s spring sitting

VICTORIA — Romance is not in the cards for British Columbia’s politicians who return to the legislature Valentine’s Day for a throne speech that sets the stage for a provincial budget and a scrappy spring election, say political experts.

Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals are coming back rattled over a website hacking affair of their own making, while the New Democrats are looking to raise the profile of their leader, John Horgan, say political scientists Hamish Telford and Michael Prince.

Green party leader Andrew Weaver is expected to continue offering his party as the alternative to the feuding Liberals and New Democrats.

“I don’t know who’s going to get roses or chocolates,” said Prince, a public policy expert at University of Victoria. “This brouhaha of this (past) week is just an example of the kind of edge people are on.”

Clark apologized to Horgan for alleging the New Democrats illegally hacked a Liberal party website.

She made the apology Friday after Vicki Huntington, an Independent member of the legislature, said she and her staff easily accessed personal information of people who responded to a party survey on the website.

The dust-up could cloud Liberal plans to highlight the government’s economic and policy agenda, which culminates with its budget on Feb. 21, said Prince.

The budget is widely expected to be the government’s fifth consecutive balanced budget.

Ministry of Finance quarterly reports tracking the province’s bottom line point towards a budget surplus in the range of $2 billion.

Prince said the government has money to spend but remains vulnerable on issues connected to education, homelessness and low-income residents.

“Maybe there’s a fiscal surplus, but has there been a compassion surplus?” he said. “Some people I’ve talked to on the left think they could be vulnerable on what might be called compassion or meanness issues.” 

Prince said the government has been slow to respond to issues on housing, education and poverty, moving only when pushed by the courts or public mood. He pointed to the Supreme Court of Canada decision on public education funding and B.C. Supreme Court decisions on homeless camps.

Telford, who teaches political science at the University of the Fraser Valley, said he expects the throne speech to highlight the government’s successful focus on fiscal management which has kept B.C.’s economy growing. But weaknesses are showing, he said.

Joblessness is rising in B.C.’s Interior and the government’s promise of jobs from the liquefied natural gas sector have not materialized, said Telford.

“If the election is going to turn on issues, it’s going to turn mostly on economic issues, particularly jobs for the Interior,” Telford said.

He said the Liberals, who have been in government since 2001, could face concerns about their best-before date. The Liberals are looking to win their fifth consecutive election in May and their longevity and political success could become a vulnerability, said Telford.

“In most Canadian jurisdictions, at that point in time, people start to get an innate sense that it’s time for a change,” Telford said.

Clark said the Liberals plan to stick to fundamental issues of jobs, homes and schools in the throne speech, session and election.

“Our vision will talk about some basic fundamental things that make B.C. better,” she said.

Horgan said the New Democrats want to talk about affordability for British Columbians, which includes the party’s proposals for a $15-per-hour minimum wage and $10-a-day daycare.

Prince said the Clark-Horgan website hacking standoff just days before the start of the session signals the parties are gearing up for a rough election campaign.

“It’s a bit of a hint of how we’re going to have a scrappy campaign,” he said. “This is not going to be the sweetness and light of (former NDP leader) Adrian Dix from the last go around.”

During the 2013 election campaign, the NDP limited personal attacks and lost despite entering the race with a 20-point lead in the polls.

 

 

 

 

  

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Kelowna Rockets ready to evaluate rookies

Rookie camp goes Aug 20, with team’s main training camp set to start Aug. 24

Kelowna actor featured in TV series

Tristan Huff is competing in The Whole Package, which airs Oct. 11

Kelowna judge who cried during a victim statement to rule on recusing herself

The judge will decide if she’ll disqualify herself from sentencing a man for sexual assault

Okanagan water board seeks mussels funding

Okanagan Basin Water Board sends request to new federal fisheries minister

Kelowna Drag King rocks out into the spotlight

Suiting up in leather and spikes, to compete alongside the Queens

Happy birthday Boler: An anniversary gathering of the cutest campers in Winnipeg

Hundreds of the unique trailers in Winnipeg to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Manitoba invention

Tim Hortons says its China expansion will include menu with congee, matcha

Coffee chain plans to open 1,500 stores in Asia over the next decade

How to help B.C. wildfire victims

Donations being taken by many organizations, BC Hydro waiving bills

Whole city of Kimberley on an evacuation alert due to wildfires

Residents woke up Friday morning being told to get ready to leave any moment

Feds to allow charities to engage in political, but not partisan, activity

The plan is to allow charities to pursue political activities

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault on the job

Toronto photographer says he was attacked while covering a protest

Publication ban lifted on details about Fredericton shooting that killed 4

Judge lifts publication ban on court documents related to the Fredericton shooting

Snowy Mountain fire travelling away from communities

The Snowy Mountain fire near Keremeos remains at 13,359 hectares in size

Most Read