Press Pass: NDP MLAs sweep the podium in Weaver’s heckle rankings

HECKLE RATINGS — Green MLA Andrew Weaver took it upon himself to judge the heckling in the house last week and listed the top three he heard from the Opposition benches.

His bronze medal heckle award went to NDP MLA Doug Routley, who, during an argument about the slumping Port Mann Bridge toll revenue, suggested they adopt the B.C. Ferries approach “close a lane and double the fee.”

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Silver went to NDP MLA Scott Fraser, for offering “bridge financing” on the same topic.

NDP MLA Nick Simons topped Weaver’s list, for suggesting during an argument over liquor price hikes that they change Happy Hour to Melancholy Hour.

(If Press Pass had any say in the awards, we would have noted the contribution of Finance Minister Mike de Jong during the liquor argument, when he accused the NDP of “beer-mongering.”)

 

BEER WATCH — Speaking of liquor, NDP MLA David Eby’s Twitter feed @Dave_Eby has become the go-to site for the latest in liquor pricing.

As of Friday, Eby was taking requests from the public for how the new wholesale pricing system will affect their favourite beverage as of April 1.

 

RUTA THE PROBLEM? — NDP Leader John Horgan got off a good one last week about the controversy swirling around Basia Ruta, the auditor general for local government. Ruta has produced just one audit after more than two years of work, and now her staff are complaining about waste, confusion and sagging morale in their own office.

“Everybody’s now got a lawyer,” Horgan noted. “We’re doing a review of the people that are supposed to audit the people that were auditing the people that needed the audits. That’s where we’ve got to.”

 

FLY ME TO THE MOON — Premier Christy Clark and assorted cabinet ministers racked up $776,000 in travel costs last year on assorted trade missions. The top three were Clark’s trips to India, Southeast Asia and New York for a total of $362,000. International Trade Minister Teresa Wat’s Asian tour cost $140,000, while Forests Minister Steve Thomson led a delegation to the Pacific Rim that cost $102,000.

Numerous news releases were rolled out as the trips proceeded last year about what was being accomplished. But the final costs were posted rather quietly Friday afternoon. And the importance was once again stressed — “top priority” markets where officials signed co-operation agreements and “attended high-level meetings” with multiple levels of government and promoted B.C. goods at events and receptions.

The government said Friday that Petronas’s statement in December, confirming that B.C.’s LNG policy framework provided the certainty to move forward with development, was “as a result” of Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman’s $22,000 trip to Malaysia in November.

But there was a bit more to the December statement. The company carried on to say the economics aren’t right, so it was deferring the project.

 

FIGHT FOR $15 — The B.C. Federation of Labour continues its push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage with rallies today in Vancouver, New Westminster, Sechelt, Nanaimo and Penticton.

On Monday, the battle moves to Victoria, where members will hand out wallet cards downtown and collect petition signatures.

Federation president Irene Lanzinger and B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker will be on hand at 12:45 p.m. at Douglas and Fort streets.

The government decided last week to increase the minimum wage by 20 cents to $10.45 an hour in September and tie future increases to the Consumer Price Index. Lanzinger said that move essentially “guarantees poverty wages for years to come.”

— With files from Les Leyne and Lindsay Kines

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