This was not the way Premier John Horgan wanted to end the fall session of the Legislature.
Our Premier would have liked to boast about how many bills were passed and showcase all of his government’s big-spending announcements. Instead, British Columbians are left wondering: just what the heck is going on in Victoria? The spectacle involving House Speaker Darryl Plecas and his controversial removal of senior management at the Legislature has shaken Horgan’s government right to the core.
The controversy has also dominated the airwaves and squeezed out any good news media attention. And that may not be such a bad thing because the wheels are beginning to fall off some of the government’s most anticipated promises.
The failure of Transportation Minister Claire Trevena to deliver on a campaign commitment to put ride sharing in place by December 2017 is a prime example. The excuse, according to Trevena, is because the government wanted to "get ride sharing right" by the fall of 2018 – but this, of course, didn’t happen.
That’s too bad because ride sharing could be a big part of the solution to filling the void left by the departure of Greyhound, especially in northern and rural areas where conventional bus transportation may not be viable, but ridesharing could be. Instead, Horgan and Trevena are too afraid of offending the taxi industry – particularly in vote rich Surrey -- and are doing everything they can to delay ride sharing to the fall of 2019 (we’ve heard that one before), perhaps 2020, or maybe never.
In response, my colleague Jordan Study, official Opposition critic for transportation, introduced a bill that would see ride sharing in place by Valentine’s Day. Trevena rejected this outright because she still needs time to sweat out more details that will essentially turn ride sharing into just another form of the taxi industry.
With a giant cloud hanging over the Legislature, I am pretty sure the Premier is looking forward to a fresh start in the New Year, but the Plecas controversy is guaranteed to follow him for months, if not years to come.
I will be doing another column next week reviewing the last session of the legislature. Don’t forget to get your referendum ballots in to Service BC by this Friday, December 7, at 4:30 p.m. Our democracy depends on it!
Dan Davies is MLA for Peace River North.