Press Pass: Did ‘Betty from Sooke’ deliver for Horgan?

BETTY’S NOT HERE, MAN — Premier John Horgan talked himself into a weird space in a media scrum about cannabis legislation that enveloped the line between reality and hypothetical situations in a … haze.

He said provincial law will change over time “as people become familiar with whether it’s just in standalone liquor distribution outlets, or standalone [marijuana] dispensaries, or, what happens to my friend Betty, who used to serve me very well, not me, but I’m saying hypothetically, Betty from Sooke, who used to be able to get me something on a weekend if I needed it … I prefer to support Betty rather than, you know, Shopper’s Drug Mart, or the dispensary X or Y.”

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Reporters were just processing the fact that he seemed to be speaking hypothetically, when he carried on: “These are real-life issues that people will be dealing with … There are going to be people who are going to hold fast to their traditional ways. Others are going to rejoice in the fact they’ll have certainty and quality … and knowing that any excess revenues are going to programs that are going to help communities, rather than Betty down the street.”

Whether she’s real or not, within the hour she had a Twitter account (@BettyfromSooke).

SPEAKING OF PIPES — Albertan politicians are getting increasingly agitated about B.C.’s anti-pipeline stance, to the point where they’re bringing up other pipeline issues. Like, the one that’s been spilling Victoria’s untreated sewage into the ocean for generations.

Victoria’s sewage shame was dragged onto the floor of the Edmonton legislature this past week as the cross-border bickering over the oil pipeline expansion continued.

Opposition member Todd Loewen (Grand Prairie-Smoky) asked during question period: “Given that the city of Victoria pumps raw sewage into the ocean, including the area of Victoria that is represented by the Green Party leader, and given that the Green Party leader has joined forces with the B.C. NDP to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline, does anyone else see the hypocrisy of these actions, and did the premier raise this at the failed Sunday meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Horgan?”

The Alberta government and Opposition are more or less aligned on the need for the pipeline, and the need to fight B.C. over it. But the question was too much for NDP house leader Brian Mason.

He said the Opposition was wasting time and doing a very poor job of defending Alberta’s interests.

They’re “more interested in trying some sort of weird guilt by association. Well, it’s not going to work.”

FANTASTICALLY WRONG — Attorney General David Eby provided an elaborate explanation in answering a question about a bill.

After another question, he said: “I thought I provided a pretty fantastic answer on the last one. The problem with that is that sometimes you can provide a great answer and it might not be right.”

After he took another run at it, he said: “That’s a better answer because it actually is correct.”

OFF THE RECORD — Sometimes an email is the smoking gun. Sometimes the absence of any emails can be the same thing.

Opposition critic Steve Thomson asked Citizens Services Minister Jinny Sims why there’s no record of any emails or text messages being sent by two officials in the premier’s office at any time in the past four months.

The Opposition routinely makes freedom of information requests for emails and got back nothing when it asked about any from the premier’s assistant deputy minister and the director of liaison and co-ordination.

“It seems to me that there’s a pattern here,” Thomson said. “It really surprises me — I think it would surprise most people — that in respect to those offices, those positions, not a single sent email would be kept or documented for freedom of information purposes.”

Sims said government policy is clear, and continued indefinite retention of sent emails would create challenges and “would be a contradiction to records management best practice.”

Thomson remained surprised.

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