bc-100211-harper-legislature

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the B.C. legislature Thursday that the Olympics were a "tremendous accomplishment." ((B.C. Electronic Hansard))

Stephen Harper became Canada's first prime minister to address the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Thursday afternoon, and as expected, he saluted Vancouver, Whistler and B.C. for putting on the Winter Olympics.

"The 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games have been an unparalleled organizational and logistical undertaking. They will be simply the most ambitious sporting event ever held on Canadian soil," Harper told the MLAs.

"Like the earlier Expo, this is a tremendous accomplishment. I also want to tell you that all Canadians are proud to be partners in these Games," he said.

'They will be simply the most ambitious sporting event ever held on Canadian soil.' —Prime Minister Stephen Harper

"Because, while Vancouver and Whistler may be the staging grounds of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, let there be no doubt, as Premier [Gordon] Campbell said himself in December when we welcomed the Olympic flame to Parliament Hill, 'These Games are Canada's Games,'" said Harper.

"And we will let our flag wave here in British Columbia — beautiful British Columbia — over the podium of the 2010 Winter Games. This truly is British Columbia's golden moment. And it is also Canada's time to shine," he said.

Protesters greet him outside

And while the mood in the legislature was welcoming, outside on the lawn, a wide range of protesters had gathered to voice their concerns about Harper's leadership.

Among the assembled protesters were environmentalists, Raging Grannies, unhappy voters opposing the prorogation of Parliament, and a delegation of First Nations chiefs calling for an inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.

Before the speech, the opposition members in Ottawa were already heckling Harper's appearance.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff urged opposition members to pepper him with questions about national issues since the Grits can't do it themselves because Harper suspended the federal Parliament until March.

But B.C. New Democrat Leader Carole James brushed off Ignatieff's request, saying her opposition members can think of their own questions.

Ignatieff also jokingly warned the B.C. representatives that Harper might try to prorogue their legislature, too.

On Wednesday, Harper's visit to the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver was delayed after protesters locked more than 100 people in the building by putting chains on the doors.

The locks were eventually cut by police, and the prime minister made it into the centre after the protesters dispersed.

With files from The Canadian Press