John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan
Leader of the B.C. New Democrats

There is so much we could be doing in the legislature right now, if Christy Clark hadn’t cancelled the fall session so she could spend time fundraising for her party.

People across this province are struggling to afford a place to live, and struggling to pay the bills. They’re struggling to get the health care they need and the services they count on. But for years, the Clark government has been looking the other way, denying the mounting problems in this province, and making them worse.

We should be in the legislature for the fall session, doing the people’s business, but Christy Clark cancelled the session. She would rather focus on photo-ops and fundraisers than on solving the problems her government created.

It just shows that while Christy Clark and her government like to say they care about regular families, the reality is just the opposite. If she really cared about our families and the challenges we are facing, she would be in the legislature right now, fixing her mistakes, and working to make lives better.

But either she doesn’t know how many challenges people in our province face and the negative effect her government’s decisions have had, or she doesn’t care.

​New Democrat MLAs are talking to people across the province every day, and we know that the challenges we’re seeing today need action, not stalling, excuses, distraction and delays. That’s why we want to be in the legislature, fighting for change, and doing the job we were elected to do.

There are dozens of issues we could be addressing today in the legislature.

We could finally take action to ban pill presses in this province. We are facing a fentanyl crisis, but Christy Clark has refused to take this simple action to help reduce illegally manufactured drugs on the streets. We proposed a private member’s bill that would do just that – if we were in the legislature today, the B.C. Liberals could pass it.

We could take action to close the fixed-term lease loophole. Renters in this province have been hit hard by our housing crisis. The B.C. Liberals introduced legislation in 2002 that created a loophole for unscrupulous landlords – at the end of a fixed-term lease that has a vacancy clause, landlords can raise the rent any amount they choose, and tenants either have to pay or get out. For years, it has created nightmares for renters, as landlords use the loophole to raise rents every year by an amount more than the legal limit. Renters face either exploitation or eviction, where they face a vacancy rate of nearly zero per cent in many regions of this province.

New Democrats have proposed legislation to protect renters, but despite knowing about this loophole for years, the B.C. Liberals are refusing to finally take action and close it. They could fix that today if we were in the legislature.

We could finally adopt a poverty action plan. Our province is the last in Canada without a plan, despite the fact that more than half of British Columbians are living paycheque to paycheque, and one quarter of children are living below the poverty line. Local governments across this province are calling for a plan. New Democrats are calling for a plan. Advocacy groups have seen the rise of tent cities and the disappearance of affordable housing, and they know we need a plan. Just about the only person in this province who doesn’t think a plan is necessary is Christy Clark.

If we were in the legislature, the premier and her government could end their shameful record of ignoring and denying the shameful levels of poverty in our province.

In the spring, the B.C. Liberals promised the second part of a report into child protection in this province. It also promised a report by Grand Chief Ed John on Aboriginal children in care would arrive this summer. Neither report has been released. A recent damning report from the Representative of Children and Youth, which showed the failure of the province to protect the children in its care from sexualized violence – citing at least 233 cases of sexualized violence against young people in care since 2011 – shows how urgently we need to see change in our province’s child welfare system.

If the legislature was in session today, we could press the B.C. Liberals to finally make these reports public.

There are so many more problems we could be addressing.

We could help to restore faith in our democracy by finally getting big money out of politics. New Democrats have proposed a ban on union and corporate donations, but the B.C. Liberals have refused to pass it. They could put that right today.

We could finally take direct action to combat foreign speculation in our housing market. New Democrats have introduced legislation that would ensure that those who treat B.C. homes purely as safety deposit boxes for their wealth, without living or paying taxes in our province, pay a premium every year to do so. Instead, the B.C. Liberals have penalized homebuyers for their citizenship, disregarding whether they are here to build a life in this province. That was the wrong approach, and they could fix their mistake today if the legislature was in session. ​

We should be in the legislature today, working on the problems facing our province. If Christy Clark has so few ideas about how to make life better in our province, or so little inclination to do so, it’s clearly time she step aside and let New Democrats lead our province forward.