[UPDATED] The B.C. legislature begins sitting again today with the government outlining its goals in a speech from the throne.
Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon is scheduled to arrive at the legislature at 1:30 p.m. and will be greeted by a 15-gun salute. She will begin reading the speech from the throne at 2:15 p.m.
The legislative session, lasting 19 days, comes three months before the provincial election on May 14.
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B.C. politicians return to the legislature Tuesday for a short session jammed full of legislation, but it will serve mostly as the unofficial start of the provincial election campaign.
Premier Christy Clark will unveil her government’s throne speech, outlining her priorities for the 19-day legislative session — and present a vision for the province that she will campaign on until the May 14 election.
“It will be a busy session,” said Liberal house leader and Finance Minister Mike de Jong.
The government is expected to table a bill that sets up Senate elections, similar to what are held in some provinces, including Alberta.
Long-awaited plans to create a B.C. seniors advocate are also expected to be introduced in the house.
The premier promised legislation last month to reform the independent watchdog job of auditor general into a single eight-year term. The move came after a legislative committee refused to grant auditor general John Doyle a second six-year term, sparking a political backlash against Clark’s government and Doyle’s departure for a job in Australia.
B.C.’s harmonized sales tax will also continue toward its demise, with a final piece of legislation outlining the transition to the provincial sales tax on April 1. The government has already released a draft version of the PST terms.
“There are some other pieces that will reveal themselves both in the throne speech and budget,” de Jong said. “The government clearly has an agenda designed around jobs and families, and there will be legislation associated with that. Given the amount of time involved, it won’t be an overwhelming number of bills.”
NDP house leader John Horgan said the Opposition wants to closely examine the HST-PST bill and hopes the government will address issues affecting developmentally disabled adults and cosmetic pesticides. Ordinary people don’t seem to care about Senate elections, he said.
Tuesday’s throne speech will be followed a week later by the provincial budget.
De Jong admitted there’s an element of politicking and election messaging in the session, but said the budget won’t be a grab bag of goodies for the campaign trail.
“This will not be a traditional pre-election budget where governments are doling out promises in the billions of dollars,” he said. “The money simply isn’t there.”
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