Three decades of throne-speech disruptions

Protesters outside the legislature claimed a victory Tuesday, saying: “The Crown has been forced to cancel its ceremonial proceedings for the speech from the throne for the first time in British Columbia’s history.”

The outdoor ceremonies — including the arrival of the lieutenant-governor on the red carpet and a 15-gun salute — were cancelled and the traditional end of the last session inside the house was delayed.

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But it’s not the only time that the outdoor ceremony has not gone ahead — last year, a snowstorm prompted a cancellation of events.

It’s also not the first time the throne speech has attracted protesters. While the past few years have been relatively quiet, protests on throne-speech day are not unusual.

In 2007, environmentalists upset about logging and spotted owls joined parents upset about reduced child-care funding to protest outside the legislature.

About 2,500 seniors and post-secondary students hit the legislature lawn in 2003 to protest changes to PharmaCare and tuition hikes. Some in the crowd wore grass skirts and leis to protest then-premier Gordon Campbell’s drunk-driving episode in Maui.

In 2002, the crowd was smaller but stayed longer: A few dozen protesters who had pitched their tents on the legislature lawn a week earlier used their vantage point to heckle the premier.

The protesters expressed concerns ranging from Indigenous issues to tuition fees and homelessness as they spoke from a makeshift podium.

The most notorious throne-speech protest came in 1993, when the NDP was in power, and logging in Clayoquot Sound was the issue. Protesters rushed the steps of the legislature and pushed through the main doors, fracturing the pelvis of a 62-year-old security officer and breaking a stained-glass window.

— Times Colonist

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