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November 23, 2015
In This Issue
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

Mixed results for BC Government as Legislature adjourns

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.

BC Federation of Labour targets Union growth
The BC Federation of Labour met in Vancouver this week, bringing together activists from across the province to discuss ways to strengthen the labour movement and more effectively participate in the democratic process.
A key focus of the meetings was union density, which the latest StatsCan figures reveal has fallen to 31.5% from 34.5% in 1997. Growing union ranks is seen as crucial to the BC Federation of Labour’s efforts to influence government policy and achieve social change.
Policy focus areas the BC Federation of Labour is pursuing includes a $15 minimum wage for the province’s workers.

Alberta Government set to unveil new Climate Change Plan
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is expected to keep one of her key election promises this weekend, when she will reveal the province’s new climate change plan. The centerpiece is expected to be the accelerated phase-out of Alberta’s coal-fired electricity generation plants, which account for 85% of the total emissions from the province’s electricity sector. An increase to the province’s carbon levy, government support for renewable energy, and an energy efficiency retrofit program are also under
consideration. Premier Notley is expected to bring the plan to climate meetings with Prime Minister Trudeau and other premiers in Ottawa on Monday, and to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, which starts on November 30.