B.C. Liberals to promise major policy changes in upcoming throne speech
'For sure, it's about getting votes, but it's about connecting with people,' says MLA Sam Sullivan
In an effort to win back urban voters, Premier Christy Clark is expected to change course on several contentious issues in the upcoming speech from the throne.
CBC News has learned the Liberals — during the throne speech later this week — will promise to ban union and corporate donations to political campaigns, and to increase social assistance rates by $100 per month.
During the recent election the party was criticized for not moving to ban union and corporate campaign donations, something promised by both the NDP and the Greens. The NDP has also long called for increases to welfare rates, which have been frozen for nearly a decade under the Liberals.
The throne speech is also expected to promise an increase to disability rates by tying the rate hikes to the consumer price index. The Liberals are also expected to propose a new program to help low-income single working parents access skills training.
The changes in policy direction are not the first promised by the party since the election. Clark also recently reversed her longstanding position that any changes to municipal transit funding in Metro Vancouver would first need to be passed in a referendum.
According to a statement released by the Liberals last night, the policy changes are being proposed because, "since the election the premier and our MLA's have been listening to the message voters sent us."
But the party recently lost its majority in the legislature in the May 2017 election and it's expected the B.C. Liberals will be defeated by the NDP-Green alliance next Monday in a confidence vote.
'It's about getting votes'
Liberal MLA and former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan said Monday the promises are part of "a big push" to win back urban voters after the recent election.
"For sure, it's about getting votes, but it's about connecting with people," said Sullivan on CBC Radio.
"We have really recognized how we didn't do well in the urban area. We did really well in the Interior, the North, the suburbs, etc, but we were unable to connect with urban voters," said Sullivan.
But the promises are also an attempt to show the NDP and the Greens there are alternatives to defeating the government in the confidence vote expected early next week, he said.
NDP house leader and MLA Mike Farnworth, also speaking on CBC Radio, was quick to dismiss that option.
"Absolutely we will be voting against the throne speech," said Farnworth. "The Liberals had 16 years to address a number of these issues."
"Now all of a sudden when they face the prospect of going to the opposition benches, they say, 'No, no, no, wait, wait. Please forgive us.'"
Green MLA Sonia Furstenau also confirmed the three Green MLAs, who hold the balance of power in the legislature, plan to vote down the Liberals, despite the new promises.
"Good government ... doesn't just mean getting votes, and saying whatever you need to get votes," said Furstenau.