Throne speech filling – or lacking?

B.C.’s Throne Speech included ‘welcome news’ or was it ‘pretty thin gruel’

This week’s Speech from the Throne by Premier Christy Clark was “pretty thin gruel,” says NDP MLA Scott Fraser.

The representative for the Alberni-Pacific Rim constituency said he was underwhelmed by the speech — and he doesn’t think he was alone.

“The Liberals were sleeping in the front row,” he said. “I’m not kidding. They were nodding off.”

Fraser said the biggest news of the speech, that British Columbians will get a new statutory holiday called Family Day, was little more than crass electioneering.

“The timing is the interesting part,” Fraser said. “We’re not going to have a Family Day until, gee, just before the next election in 2013.

“I don’t want to be too cynical, but it’s pretty crass partisanship to create a new holiday with the sweep of a pen right before the next election.”

Fraser said many of the announcements in the speech were mere reiterations of initiatives that had already been announced.

“They’ve clearly run out of ideas,” he said. “There are announcements of stuff that was announced many times by Gordon Campbell. There’s nothing for families, nothing for the middle class and nothing for the Island.”

Fraser added some of the announcements, such as the cutting off of parking fees in provincial parks and the restoration of some gaming grants stand as admissions of failed policy.

“They’re talking about restoring gaming grants, but they were the ones who removed them and many community groups didn’t survive,” he said. “They had one announcement that had significant dollars to it, $24 million over two years to eliminate the backlog of permitting for resource tenures,” Fraser said. “But this is the government that decimated all those dirt ministries and dismantled them to the point where there’s a massive backlog in permitting.”

One initiative that got Fraser’s support was the news that the government plans to create an off-reserve aboriginal action plan. As the critic for aboriginal affairs, Fraser said that while there has been no budget announced for the initiative, it is at least one step in the right direction.

Liberal MLA Ron Cantelon was more upbeat, calling it a good Throne Speech.

“We are facing challenging times and we have to view this as an opportunity,” he said. “Family Day is nice and there’s $30 million for communities for recreational infrastructure. As well, the review of BC Ferries will be welcome news.”

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