B.C.’s Liberal government limped out of a short legislative session Thursday and into its election campaign, battered and bruised by a series of scandals but having passed most of its legislation.
A plan to pool registered pensions for the self-employed failed to pass, as did the government’s balanced budget and a plan to elect federal senators.
Nonetheless, it was a “very productive session given what some of the predictions might have been,” said Liberal house leader Mike de Jong.
The government passed “significant legislation” during the 19-day session, de Jong said, including a Tla’amin treaty agreement, a seniors advocate, sanctions on troublesome properties, justice reforms and term limits for the auditor general.
One bill expanded the powers of B.C.’s child and youth advocate to include young adults, while another loosened laws to allow donated liquor to be auctioned for charity.
Those victories were largely overshadowed by scandals that hit the government, most recently a multicultural outreach plan that resulted in several resignations.
De Jong said those were difficult times for the government, but that it also distinguished itself by tabling a balanced budget.
“It takes time, though, for some of the accomplishments and the legislative changes that have been proposed and passed here to become more widely known,” de Jong said.
“That will become part of our task going forward as we move into an election campaign.”
The Opposition NDP said the only real thing accomplished was a bill to reintroduce the provincial sales tax on April 1, after the harmonized sales tax was defeated in a provincewide referendum in 2011.
“That would be the singular accomplishment of this session,” said NDP house leader John Horgan.
“We have a seniors advocate bill that’s inadequate. We have a Senate nomination bill that won’t be proceeded with.”
Horgan said he expected more from the government after it cancelled the fall 2012 legislature session.
“You’d think if you spend eight months thinking of a legislative session, they’d be able to do better than they did here.”
B.C. voters head to the polls on May 14.
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