This week in the legislature
After a brief summer session, the legislature is adjourned.
Despite the Liberals’ promise of fixed sitting dates, whether the house returns for its scheduled eight-week fall session is a mystery and will be at the discretion of the premier.
Throughout the summer session, the New Democrat opposition caucus held the government to account on several key issues crucial to British Columbians.
Led by Adrian Dix, the opposition raised issues surrounding Champix, a smoking cessation drug championed by the premier. Despite concerns around sometimes lethal side effects, leaked emails show the health ministry adamantly refused to turn the approval of the drug over to the internationally respected independent Therapeutics Initiative. The emails show the decisions were made for political reasons, rather than out of concern for patient health.
Opposition MLAs also revisited the Quick Wins scandal. Documents withheld until after the election show that senior staff in the premier’s office – with the blessing of former minister John Yap – discussed the possibility of offering a job or money to a former contract employee to suppress information potentially damaging to the premier.
And the opposition continued to highlight the heartlessness of some government decisions. While the government has money to spend on self-serving ads and pre-election festivals like the Bollywood film awards in April, they are charging some seniors in residential care homes a fee for the use of a wheelchair.
The Liberal record of holding fall sittings is not good, but if the government does decide to recall the legislature later this year, the opposition caucus will continue to raise issues of importance to British Columbians.