British Columbia MLAs are returning home this week after a Legislative session that was supposed to be low-key and focused on international trade and the LNG agenda, but was largely overshadowed by tough questions about child welfare and the public’s right to access information.
A trade mission to China and positive developments around the FortisBC Tilbury LNG expansion and a new Tsawwassen First Nation proposal for an LNG facility at Roberts Bank highlighted Premier Christy Clark’s continuing efforts to advance her agenda of growing the economy and expanding trade. Debates about government secrecy and the treatment of at-risk children dominated the agenda, with Leader of the Opposition John Horgan and the BC NDP scoring points against the government in one of their most effective performances since the last provincial election.
The government now faces a police investigation and internal review of the ‘Triple Delete affair’, after BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner released a report saying that political staff in Premier Christy Clark and other Ministry offices have been violating the province’s access to information law by deleting emails in government email accounts. It also faces a joint review by the province’s child and welfare advocate and the Ministry of Children and Family Development into the placement of foster children in hotels, after the death of an 18 year-old in the government’s care.
The Legislature will return in February. Finance Minister Mike de Jong hinted that next year will see another balanced budget for British Columbia – good news for a government that positions itself as a strong and effective manager of the economy and the provincial treasury.