Former federal Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn was approached to run for the provincial Liberals, Public Eye has exclusively learned. Mr. Lunn, a lawyer, would help the Clark administration bolster its Tory credentials and be a potential attorney general. He also lives in the same riding as Saanich North and the Islands Liberal backbencher Murray Coell, who is widely expected not to seek re-election.
"I told British Columbians back in January or February that I would do this and my hope was that we would be able to do it for this coming year. But, since then, we've seen the economy deteriorate very significantly. No one predicted we would be where we are now internationally. So we are doing it for 2013 instead because it's my hope that, by then, the economy will have improved significantly." That's what Premier Christy Clark said yesterday when asked about business community concerns surrounding her promise to create a Family Day holiday starting on February 19, 2013. But Ms. Clark is incorrect when she claims no one could have predicted an economic downturn when she first made that promise during her campaign for the Liberal leadership.
It was the Clark administration's first speech from the throne. But, during a news conference tightly controlled by press secretary Chris Olsen, Premier Christy Clarkspent just over eight minutes answering media questions about its contents. By comparison, her embattled predecessor Gordon Campbell spent almost 11 minutes taking questions following his administration's last throne speech - and that was back when he wasn't particularly enthusiastic about being scrummed by the press gallery.
He was one of Premier Gordon Campbell's most loyal cabinet ministers. He then went on to co-chair the BC Liberal Party's 2009 election campaign, before registering as a lobbyist for a Fortis Inc. subsidiary. That registration has long since been terminated, with his work for Fortis Pacific Holdings Inc. having ended on September 7, 2010. Nevertheless, we find it noteworthy retired MLA Rick Thorpe paid a visit to the legislature today to listen to the Clark administration's first speech from the throne.
Premier Christy Clark's government is dusting off a two-year old commitment by her predecessor Gordon Campbell. In today's throne speech, it was announced the Clark administration will follow-up on its review of BC Hydro with a "similarly hard look at all Crown corporations, starting in January." But readers may remember the 2009 throne speech promised "Health Authorities, Boards of Education and Crown corporations" would be subject to similar reviews "in the year ahead." But those agencies - with the exception of BC Hydro, British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. and the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority - have so far remained unscrutinized.
Premier Christy Clark is pushing back against those who have accused her Families First messaging of being exclusionary. For example, the Times Colonist's Dave Obee recently questioned why a government news release about the opening of a trail in North Vancouver only emphasized its use by families. "What about single people? Does this mean you can't walk the trail unless you have a toddler in tow?" In response, Ms. Clark has been attempting to broaden the definition of a Families First family. And today's throne speech is an example of that. In it, the government states "families can extend beyond bloodlines, to one's support network of friends and mentors. How we define them is a personal choice." But it remains to be seen whether British Columbians will buy that messaging.
The government has announced it is considering "innovative next steps" in its work with British Columbia's non-profit organizations - an initiative that will be politically led by caucus chair and former children and family development minister Gordon Hogg. In today's throne speech, the government announced those steps will be considered at a "summit on social innovation in November." That announcement follows Mr. Hogg's earlier appointment as the parliamentary secretary for non-profit partnerships. This isn't the first time the upper echelons of government have looked at the province's relationship with non-profits. In 2007, the premier's then deputy minister Jessica McDonald travelled across the Atlantic to speak with a senior British mandarin about "the role of the non-profit sector in the delivery of public services."
The Liberals like to think of themselves as good money managers - or at least better than the New Democratic Party. So they often remind voters of the NDP's fast ferries project, which went 120 percent over-budget. But it's not as if the Liberals haven't had any cost overruns. For example, on Friday, BC Place was re-opened following a revitalization program that cost 55 percent more than its initial estimate. The Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project cost 78 percent more than expected and the Port Mann/Highway 1 Improvement Project will likely cost 121 percent more when the final price tag is in - including interest charges and project management costs. Which, coincidentally, makes it comparable to the NDP's fast ferries project. So, when British Columbians next go to the polls, you can be sure New Democrat leader Adrian Dix will be reminding voters of those failings.