Questions and cuts were common themes in North Island MLA Claire Trevena’s most recent reports to her constituents.
“People often repeat the line that ‘it is Question Period but not answer period’ to shrug off the fact that Christy Clark and the BC Liberals don’t answer our questions in the Legislature,” Trevena wrote in her March 11 MLA report. “However, in a healthy democracy, there has to be accountability and that means not just asking questions but also getting honest and full responses.”
Trevena says the premier continues to refuse to answer questions about the health researchers who were summarily dismissed without justification four years ago.
And she says the attorney general is no better at answering questions. Last week, that happened on International Women’s Day (March 8), when the Opposition asked about provincial access to rape kits and resources in the Ministry of Justice to ensure reports of sexual assault are dealt with quickly.
“Instead of taking the question, she let the minister of health respond,” wrote Trevena. “Cabinet ministers sit with large binders on their desks ready to flick to the relevant section when we in the Opposition ask a question. In the binder are briefing notes and speaking points crafted by their back-room political team, which is why, so often, the answer has little or nothing to do with the question and everything to do with some political message being promoted.”
John Horgan, the Leader of the Opposition, introduced the Hydro Affordability Act last week, which Trevena says would offer “real choice” to people worried about whether they can afford to heat their homes and get food on the table.
“The bill would protect such people from skyrocketing hydro rates by offering a ‘lifeline rate,’” she wrote. “It is similar to the special protection industry receives and with hydro rates surging upwards, it would provide real assistance to those needing it.”
The NDP have also re-introduced a bill which would ensure the government had a duty to document.
“It would prohibit triple deleting emails, which was found to be the BC Liberal practice, by making it an offence to destroy government records,” wrote Trevena. “It would also ensure greater access to records by the public. This is part of a wider package of democratic reforms that we have been bringing to the Legislature for the last few years in an effort to make what is the people’s house more accountable and representative.”
Trevena says the loss of transit passes for people on provincial disability was central to debate in the Legislature the week of Feb. 29 to March 4.
“We have been raising this injustice daily in Question Period, in debate on legislation and even from the steps of the Legislature at a rally,” she wrote in a recent report. “I have heard from many people who can see their lives being diminished by this callous cut.”
Cuts to public education have also been a concern for Trevena.
“I asked the minister of education about the ongoing cuts to the education budget, which is having a significant effect on School District 72 (SD72),” she wrote. “The sad irony is that the cuts SD72 is having to make as a result of government policy are just over $1 million; the savings from closing two schools is just under $1 million.”