British Columbia

Reconciliation, climate action, daylight time: Welcome to the fall session

The NDP will crown UNDRIP as its cornerstone legislation, the Greens will champion the Climate Accountability Act, and the Liberals will continue to poke holes in the government's handling of the forestry file and ICBC.

Party leaders lay out their priorities ahead of the next sitting of the B.C. Legislature

The NDP will introduce Indigenous rights legislation, the Greens will champion the Climate Accountability Act, and the Liberals will continue to poke holes in the government's handling of the forestry file and ICBC. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Provincial politicians will descend on the B.C. Legislature for the start of the fall session Monday.

CBC spoke with each of the three party leaders to find out what their priorities will be.

Here's a glimpse of where they'll be focusing their attention over the next two months: 

NDP heralds Indigenous rights as centrepiece legislation

"It's long overdue," said Premier John Horgan, revealing that his government's marquee move will be implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). 

The NDP will table legislation this fall, and if passed, B.C. will become the first province in Canada to legislate its endorsement of the declaration.

UNDRIP is a framework including 46 articles meant to affirm the rights of Indigenous Peoples to language, culture, self-determination and traditional lands.

Horgan said its implementation will provide more clarity on how to proceed with environmental assessments, children and family issues, and land-use planning.

"We're excited about that," he said. It's not just about Indigenous peoples; it's about how British Columbia goes forward, acknowledging that we have serious stains in our past."

B.C. Premier John Horgan reveals UNDRIP and time-change legislation will be key priorities for his government in the upcoming session. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

 

We will pass legislation this fall — but will we not turn our clocks back this fall? That remains to be seen.- Premier John Horgan

 

Arguably the most populist piece of legislation will be centred around daylight time. 

The premier has made it clear he wants to put an end to the biannual ritual of changing the clocks. But he's also made it clear he wants to move in sync with other jurisdictions on the West Coast. 

He has support from his counterparts in the Yukon, Washington, Oregon and California. Stateside, legislation has already passed, but still needs congressional approval. 

It's unclear when those states might get the green light from Washington, D.C. In the meantime, Horgan confirms B.C. will go ahead and pass its own provincial legislation.

"Will we decide as a group collectively here in British Columbia to not turn back our clocks this fall? I don't know," he said. "But we will pass legislation so we can ensure that next year we can stay on permanent daylight saving time."

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver is holding up the Climate Accountability Act as a critical piece of legislation to be introduced this fall. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Greens champion Climate Accountability Act

"I'm really excited about the fall agenda," beamed Green Leader Andrew Weaver, immediately pointing to the Climate Accountability Act to be introduced during the fall session. 

His party helped craft a framework modelled after the U.K.'s system, intended to hold government to account on environmental promises that they've made. 

"Ministers come and go, Opposition leaders come and go...  Accountability legislation ensures there's a pathway that continues forward beyond one government and forward into the next," said Weaver. 

"There's an ongoing process of reporting and accountability that will ensure the public knows what you're doing and why you're doing it — and if you haven't done it, why you haven't done it." 

Weaver added the Greens are also eagerly awaiting the Emerging Economy Task Force report as well as the Basic Income Committee report, both expected in the coming weeks.

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says his party will primarily be questioning the government's handling of ICBC and the forestry file. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Liberals hammer ICBC and forestry file

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson opened with a familiar refrain: "It's accountability time for this government because they've been coasting for two years." 

He made it clear which two NDP sore spots the official opposition will be zeroing in on this session. 

"They have totally dropped the ball on the forestry file and people in the Interior are furious about it," said Wilkinson. "On ICBC, they're making more enemies every day as people get their invoices in the mail and say, 'How can this be?'" 

When asked what should be done to help the struggling forestry sector, he repeated his party's position to slash stumpage fees. The Liberals have also called on the government to cut the carbon tax for the industry. 

As for the new insurance rates that kicked in last month, Wilkinson called ICBC a "state-run monopoly" and said the government's new policy has left drivers — primarily young drivers — "equally discriminated against" across B.C.

About the Author

Provincial Affairs Reporter covering the B.C. Legislature. Anything political: tanya.fletcher@cbc.ca

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