Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mr. Campbell’s not inclined to report in until February

In what seems to be part of the Liberal policy on government procedures of late, the British Columbia Legislature will once again take an unscheduled break from debate, as the Gordon Campbell government cancels the fall session.

Advising that they had no legislation in the works to pass, there was apparently no need to gather and discuss. Of course, not going back to a Legislative session also enables the Liberals to avoid having to discuss those contentious issues of the last session, things like ferries, carbon taxes and those rather rich pay increases to both cabinet and bureaucrats, surely we haven't forgotten about all of those after our summer of fun!

The Premier's message bearer for their plan to keep clear of the Leg, was Mike de Jong, who announced today that the regularly scheduled return to business in the Legislature set for October was now off, with the next session of this provinces elected debating club not now planned until February.

Exactly when isn’t clear as the Legislature website only offers up details until the end of 2008, a process that now has become rather easy to maintain.

Opposition leader Carole James was quick to express her disappointment in the lack of a desire to let the fall session go ahead, concerns that de Jong seemed to dismiss with little interest or any great concern.

The latest cancellation, follows a recent trend of the Campbell Liberals to eliminate those pesky Legislative sessions, leaving the Legislature chamber clear for Seniors Bingo or some other functions we suspect.

At least we hope they’re renting the place out, considering that they’ve decided it has no place in the day to day governing of the province and their rather peculiar grasp on participatory democracy.

The move to cancel the fall session come as a bookend to the rush to end the spring one, as the Liberals rammed through the necessary bills with limited debate and cleared out of the Legislature by the end of May. Now that they’ve cancelled the fall session, our elected MLA’s will not gather in communal debate until February, unless of course that proves to be too inconvenient for the Liberals.

That means that in 2008, our MLA's will have taken their seats in the Legislature for but 47 days, harshly jammed between the months of February and May. Just a reminder for those that have misplaced their home calendars, there are 365 days in a year. This is clearly great work if you can get it.

This is not the first fall session that Campbell has cancelled, the Fall session in 2006, also came to a similar fate, with the government determining that it then also had no pressing matters to take to the people’s talking chamber.

As can be seen from some of our previous Podunkian postings on the topic, rushing back to work just doesn't seem to be the Liberal way.

We’re beginning to get the feeling that the Premier and his cabinet (and the backbenchers too), don't particularly like the necessary evil of checks and balances that debate can bring to the machinations of government.

The Liberals of course say that just because they’re not debating doesn’t mean that democracy isn’t flourishing, in fact they suggest that they’ll be busy dealing with the concerns of constituents during their sabbaticals from the Legislative thrust and parry of debate. Perhaps they’ll indeed have more time on their hands to do their work, what without the need to be examined for any of their decisions or any of their departments.

It also gives them the opportunity to prepare their Budget plans for 2008 which of course will provide the backdrop of the upcoming Provincial election in May. Not that it seems there is an actual need to send anyone to Victoria to represent us, considering the lack desire to have an form of actual accountability in the Legislature.

While not quite embracing the concept of honest debate in Victoria over the important issues of the day, we’re sure we will be brought up to date on all of their plans, with any number of TV clips, home mailers and of course website advertorials saluting the latest great achievements, of the governing party in the best place on earth.

It won't make for the accountability of a full fledged debating chamber or the need to stand up for your decisions to an elected opposition, but for this government it seems that to provide leadership all that’s required is for you to smile and wave for the cameras…

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