British Columbia·Analysis

Tough act to follow: slow and steady B.C. NDP throne speech overshadowed by Darryl Plecas

Document offers few surprises compared to the B.C. Liberals failed June throne speech, while the new Speaker of the legislature became the revelation of the day.

New Speaker steals the day with move that draws ire of B.C. Liberal colleagues

B.C. Premier John Horgan responded to reporter's questions about his party's speech from the throne in Victoria on Friday, September 8, 2017. (Simon Charland-Faucher/CBC)

There was very little B.C. Premier John Horgan wasn't smiling about as he walked down into the rose garden on the grounds of the B.C. Legislature Friday afternoon to take questions about the speech from the throne.

He was happy with it. Fellow B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver was happy with it, and the B.C. Liberals were too disgruntled with a former caucus member becoming the new Speaker of Legislature to zero in on any perceived short comings.

The short 11-page document that lays out Horgan and his party's plan for governing the province stuck very closely to the NDP's election campaign platform and the agreement made between his party and the B.C. Greens.

Horgan called the throne speech his roadmap, and even when questioned on vague language in it around policies like the  $10-a-day daycare, was able to happily defer details to Monday's budget update or a later date in the session.

He focused instead on a new era of co-operation that he wants in the legislature. 

"We now have to demonstrate to the public that we can work together, Liberals, Democrats, Greens, Conservatives to ensure that we can move forward on issues that matter to people," he said.

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says some of the language from his party's platform was included in the NDP speech from the throne. (Chad Pawson/CBC)

Horgan's mandate and co-operative motto was buoyed earlier in the day by the surprise that Darryl Plecas, the only B.C. Liberal to openly criticize Christy Clark's leadership, would be the new Speaker.

B.C.Liberal interim leader Rich Coleman called the decision a betrayal, prompting Andrew Weaver to pounce on the former governing party.

"Mr. Coleman's speech was so out of line," he said. "The Speaker doesn't need a lecture. So, I thought the Liberals did themselves a lot of damage in the public eye today ... almost a pick up my baseball bat and go home kind of approach.

"They should act like the opposition, not like a bunch of high school kids throwing a temper tantrum, because one of their former caucus members saw it as his duty to stand up and represent us."

'Good faith and no surprises'

Meanwhile, Weaver glowed about the speech from the throne.

"We have an agreement on good faith and no surprises," said Weaver about the NDP. "We were pleased ... that some of the language [in the speech] ... was taken from us. We were really thrilled with the way this worked out.

"A throne speech like this was long overdue."

B.C. Liberal MLA Jas Johal says his party wants to know how the NDP intends to pay for its policies laid out in the speech from the throne.

Indeed, it was a lot more predictable than the B.C. Liberal speech in June, which included 30 initiatives not in that party's election campaign.

Meanwhile, B.C. Liberal MLA Jas Johal did not respond to Weaver's comments about Plecas's reaction when he, instead of Coleman, was put forward to take questions about the day.

He spoke to reporters in the rose garden for less than three minutes.

"I heard a lot of fuzzy words today, ambiguity," he said. "There was very little mention of the economy that pays for all of this spending."

The opposition will get a chance to rally on Monday, when the NDP will provide a budget update using Liberal numbers to start implementing its own changes.

That means the NDP should be able to continue to deflect any criticism, until its first full budget, which is due in February.

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