British Columbia

B.C. Liberals cancel fall session of legislature

The B.C. Liberals have cancelled the fall sitting of the provincial legislature, sparking outrage from the opposition NDP.

The B.C. Liberals have cancelled the fall sitting of the provincial legislature, sparking outrage from the opposition NDP.

Liberal house leader Mike de Jong confirmed Wednesday that the legislature wouldn't be recalled until February, when Premier Gordon Campbell's Liberals will introduce a throne speech followed by the provincial budget.

The final legislative sitting for the current government was to have begun on Oct. 6, before the provincial election already set for May 2009.

Liberal house leader Mike de Jong said there is no need for an additional session to deal with any extraordinary legislation, even though the opposition New Democrats have been calling for a fall session to debate the carbon tax and double-digit pay-raises granted to some high-level bureaucrats.

NDP Leader Carole James said the move amounts to the Campbell government cancelling the democratic process.

"I find it extraordinary that this is a government that continues to want to govern behind closed doors and, if the government doesn't have an agenda, we do. We have a list of issues that could be talked about in the legislature," James said on Wednesday.

Dennis Pilon, a political scientist at the University of Victoria, said the decision will not be viewed kindly by voters who want to see the government being held to account.

"The legislature is the place where accountability is supposed to happen," said Pilon.

"At least we get this tiny, small window where the people with power have to stand in front of everyone else, and the elected opponents of them, and justify the policies that they make.

"This is fundamentally undemocratic. This is wrong. We should live up to the standards of a modern democracy. Having one session that goes from the spring into the summer and then shutting things down, there's no other workers in this province who get that kind of sweet deal."

This is the second time the Campbell government has cancelled a legislative sitting since it was elected nearly four years earlier.

Campbell also has yet to announce the dates for byelections in two Vancouver ridings left vacant after former New Democrat Gregor Robertson quit to run for the mayor of Vancouver and Liberal Lorne Mayencourt decided to seek a Conservative nomination in the current federal election campaign.

With files from the Canadian Press