Norm Macdonald first Opposition MLA to respond to the Speech from the Throne

Following the presentation of the BC Liberal Throne Speech on Tuesday, Feb. 9, Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald was the first Opposition member to respond.  Each member of the House has thirty minutes to respond to the Throne Speech and to speak specifically about how the government’s agenda relates to their local communities.

Excerpts from Macdonald’s speech, Feb. 10, 2010, Afternoon:

Three broken Liberal promises mar rhetoric of Throne Speech

Macdonald: “All too often the disconnect between what is promised and what is actually delivered is massive.

“The BC Liberals’ promised in writing not to implement the HST.  Today they are stating the exact opposite.

“The BC Liberals’ promised the deficit would be limited to less than $500 million.  In fact, it’s six, seven times that amount.

“The BC Liberals’ promised to protect public services.  Very clearly, that hasn’t happened either.”

The Opposition is committed to local decision-making

Macdonald: “The philosophy I have is that the wisdom of this province sits within the communities and with people on the ground, and our job is to take that wisdom and bring it into this House and generate policy that is going to reflect the wider wisdom of the people in British Columbia.”

This government is all about removing the ability of local people to make decisions about the land-base

Macdonald: “Much of what is described as a green energy plan is about taking public wealth and putting it in private hands.

“With the implementation of independent power projects the ability of local government to have a say has been taken away, very deliberately.

“The government has taken a series of actions which remove people from the ability to move on the solutions that they know need to be put forward and put into policy.

“The BC Liberal government is beholden to and serves a very narrow corporate interest very often to the detriment of the wider public interest.”

Macdonald stated his commitment to the protection of the commons

Macdonald: “We must take seriously the need to protect the commons; these things that the public hold as a common wealth, which have generated wealth for us and for the people of this province for a long time.

“We are unique as a jurisdiction in that so much of the land in this province is Crown land, owned and controlled by the Province.  That’s something that is highly valued and understood by people from Kimberley on through Canal Flats, Invermere, Golden and Revelstoke.

“A government should be protecting those common lands, not giving them away, should be respecting what people in the area have to say, not ignoring it or trying to work through, behind closed doors, an objective that doesn’t suit the wider public good.”

If private river-diversion projects on local rivers made sense, the government would come to your community and make that case

Macdonald: “There is no community that knows more about hydro development than Revelstoke.  Revelstoke understands the trade offs, but they also know whether it’s a good deal or not.  But we’ve been removed by government from the decision-making because the people can tell whether or not it’s a good deal.

“If these projects were a good deal, you could come to Revelstoke or Golden and you could convince people to move ahead with the project.  By choosing not to, the government has admitted that they are compromising the common land that we hold as a public trust.”

Quality public education is a great equalizer

Macdonald: “One of the great equalizers is education.  The BC Liberal government talks about it, but the fact is that each and every British Columbian who knows anything about the education system knows that there are problems.

“There are serious problems with how the system is being funded, and it does not help for the government to use spin to try to deny those problems are there.”

Tuition fees from students will soon outstrip corporate taxes in providing revenue to provincial coffers

Macdonald: “I think the wider public would be surprised to know that based on projected budgets, amounts collected from students in tuition fees will provide more money into provincial coffers than the total of all corporate taxes collected.  So, 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds somehow can afford more than Telus, Teck Cominco and others.  It seems out of balance because it is out of balance.”

Democracy and the HST

Macdonald: “Where this government has gone completely wrong is in running for office promising not to bring in the HST, and turning around in a very cynical move and bringing it in.  It is wrong.

“If you truly believe that this is the right thing, you should take it to the electorate and earn the mandate to bring HST forward.”

A video clip of Macdonald’s response to the Throne Speech is available: Feb. 10, 2010 – Response to Throne Speech – Norm Macdonald, MLA Columbia River-Revelstoke