On Nov. 18, David Eby was sworn in as the 37th premier of British Columbia.
The change comes following the resignation of John Horgan and the ensuing leadership event that raised many questions for MLAs and British Columbians alike.
Frankly, this change in leadership disrupted a chaotic fall legislative session, one plagued by a mismanaged agenda and a government that chose to shut down debate by shortening the session by a full week.
There is a troubling pattern developing with this BC NDP government. Like last fall, they continue to table important bills with just a few weeks left in the sitting, leaving little time for opposition members to do our job of scrutinizing them on behalf of all British Columbians.
Last year they shut down debate on structural changes to the freedom of information and forestry laws. Again, with only a few days remaining in this fall session, they tabled the largest bill in recent history, and among a half-dozen others, a bill with long-awaited changes to Indigenous child welfare.
These bills include important amendments. It is inappropriate to shorten the democratic process simply because the BC NDP can’t get their act together. Premier Eby’s decision to shorten the session by a week is either a deliberate attempt to curb deep analysis, or an inability to competently manage the legislative agenda.
Put simply, the BC NDP has consistently shown a lack of respect for democratic debate. They have limited the Opposition’s job to critique the government and the laws that govern our province. It’s important to note that is not unusual for those Opposition critiques to result in government amendments that improve the laws.
As Premier Eby outlined in his first press conference, there are many pressing issues that need the full attention of a competent government. He has stated he is going to hit the ground running, working to address a variety of critical and timely issues facing our province.
My constituents have raised concerns about the decimation of our equitable, universal health-care system, a lack of affordable housing, the dramatic increases in the cost of living, challenges in finding affordable childcare, the climate emergency, and the BC NDP’s continued use of taxpayer money to subsidize multinational oil and gas corporations who are simultaneously recording billion-dollar profits.
The promise of the BC NDP government was to make life more affordable. However, on so many fronts they are failing to proactively address the core issues.
The inability to manage a legislative agenda, frantically tabling legislation in the last week of a fall sitting and paying no respect to democratic processes that have evolved over decades to ensure the opposition, media, and public can engage in informed debate, is indicative of a government that has no plan or purpose and cannot properly manage their affairs.
My hope is that Premier Eby’s administration is far more organized than his predecessor. We desperately need a government that is prepared to address the intersecting challenges we all face in a proactive and coordinated way.
Adam Olsen is the MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.