Friday, January 16, 2009

MLA’s to meet over the weekend, but few will be able to talk.

While the City of Vancouver prepares yet another final pay cheque for one of their financial people, the growing problem of Olympic financing is moving to the Legislature.

Vancouver has seen two high profile members of its financial staff leave their offices in the last few months, the most recent one being deputy city manager Jody Andrews who left unexpectedly Thursday, in the wake of revelations that Vancouver may be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, as financing for the Olympic Village project becomes in peril.

While Vancouver shortens the staff directory, pays out the departing and scares the hell out of its taxpayer base, the Provincial Liberals will bring together the legislature on Saturday to examine the situation.

The Campbell Government had previously stated that the need for a winter session of the Legislature was a frivolous thing, such they said was the smooth state of affairs that the need to actually debate the issues in BC over the winter seemed pointless.

Now, with the Olympic fiscal balloon starting to stretch to the popping point, they’ve chosen to look over the books so to speak, the only catch being that by calling the session for a weekend they can invoke a little known covenant of the legislative process that advises that sessions on the weekend are not required to feature debate or questions from the opposition.

As Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer explained on CKNW’s Philip Till show this morning (Select 7 to 8 am hour for Friday in the audio vault fast forward to 750am for the story) the procedure was last used by the NDP government of Glen Clark back in the 1990’s to push through legislation over a weekend without a question period, a legislative device proposed by Adrian Dix the political strategist for Clark at the time, the same Adrian Dix who now leads the charge most days on behalf of the NDP in the Legislature.

You can almost see from Prince Rupert, the smirks from the government benches as they ponder the prospect of serving up what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

While that internal political drama plays out however, the taxpayers of the province might wonder what the eventual fall out from this Olympic financing fiasco is going to cost them. Since it now seems that Vancouver won’t be left to dangle on the Olympic financing hook, it would appear that the pain is going to be shared across the province.

It might be nice if those of us with MLA’s from outside of Vancouver had a say in all of that, but if we get to have one, it apparently won’t be this weekend, that while the government looks in the desk for those rubber stamps they keep handy.

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