British Columbia

B.C. premier delivers talk show 'throne speech'

B.C. Premier Christy Clark returned to her roots as a radio talk show host to announce her government's priorities — a day before the start of the spring legislative session on Tuesday.
B.C.'s Christy Clark delivered her agenda on the radio, instead of in a throne speech 3:15

B.C. Premier Christy Clark returned to her roots as a radio talk show host to announce her government's priorities on Monday morning — ahead of the start of the spring legislative session on Tuesday. 

During the 90-minute appearance on a private radio station in Vancouver where Clark once hosted a show before she became premier, she emphasized her government would be sticking with its policies of fiscal restraint, job creation and economic growth.

Clark said it will mean a lot of tough decisions, but the government still wants to balance the budget by the 2013-14 fiscal year.

"British Columbians want us to balance it," she said. "They do not want us to burden their children with mountains of debt.  And so we're going to balance," she said.

Clark said there would be no wage increase for B.C.'s teachers, and she was not optimistic that the continuing job action would be solved with a negotiated settlement.

She also said she will outline a seniors agenda in the next few days, but did not release any details. Nor did she say when she would call two upcoming byelections in the ridings of Port Moody-Coquitlam and Chilliwack-Hope.

Radio appearance questioned

Clark's decision to introduce her agenda on private radio raised questions among politicians and political pundits.

The move was announced last week in an email sent to press gallery members from Clark's deputy press secretary and communications officer Rebecca Scott.

"In place of a formal throne speech, the premier will be appearing on CKNW’s Bill Good Show to outline the government’s agenda for the spring session," said the email.

Officially there is no throne speech required at the start of this spring legislative session because it is a continuation of the fall session when Clark did have a throne speech in the legislature.

But New Democrat house leader John Horgan questioned the premier's choice of venue to introduce her government's agenda.

"I'm a bit concerned that she has selected one media outlet to put forward her ideas today. She has every opportunity as premier to stand in the legislature at any time and give the people of B.C. her view in the legislature, which as you know was constructed for that purpose," said Horgan.

B.C. Conservative Party Leader John Cummins called it a communications stunt designed to avoid debate in the legislature.

Norman Ruff, a retired political science professor, said setting out the government agenda on private radio rather than in the legislature is demeaning and suggests a contempt for the legislature, and only adds to the appearance that her government is light on policy.

The upcoming session is expected to be busy for Clark, with the budget due next week. Other issues facing the B.C. Liberals are an overburdened justice system, programs to revitalize Burns Lake after the loss of that community's sawmill and two upcoming byelections.

With files from The Canadian Press