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B.C. throne speech short on substance: Okanagan MLAs

‘Talk is cheap, action is everything’
B.C. Lt. Governor Janet Austin (red jacket) enters the legislature to present the government’s throne speech, Feb. 8, 2022. (Hansard TV)

Kelowna’s three Liberal MLAs were not impressed with this week’s provincial throne speech.

“Talk is cheap, action is everything,” said Renee Merrifield, Kelowna-Mission MLA.

On Tuesday, B.C. Premier John Horgan presented a 2022 throne speech with a few new commitments for the coming legislative session, including a post-pandemic economic plan and a focus on skills training to meet a coming labour shortage.

“We saw a lot of recycled language, a lot of recycled ideas, a lot of promises the NDP have not actually delivered on. The time for flowery language and false hope is over.”

Merrifield questioned the NDP’s promise of an economic plan.

“We’re five years down the road with this government and again we’re being promised an economic plan,” she added. “We should have had this five years ago.”

In speaking with her constituents Merrifield said she’s hearing they want serious action.

“They want housing affordability which has only skyrocketed under the NDP,” she said. “They want real action in dealing with the opioid crisis that is plaguing our province, and they want a jobs plan that is going to address labour shortages and build back the massive number of private-sector jobs that have been lost.”

Merrifield felt the throne speech barely addressed a plan for getting out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Which I found very interesting,” she said. “More was said about COVID and coming out of COVID in last year’s speech. We’re looking for a plan forward. We’re looking for timelines. I think British Columbians deserve that certainty.”

Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart said he found there are a lot of promises from previous throne speeches that weren’t mentioned this time.

“For instance the homeowners grant,” said Stewart. “That was a big promise in the 2017 election and repeated in the 2020 election unless it’s in the budget. It’s things like that, about making life more affordable that I don’t see in the throne speech.”

Stewart added he would have liked to have seen a focus on creating jobs, helping businesses, economic recovery and a plan for dealing with the housing crisis.

“I don’t supply (housing) has been addressed in the big picture,” he said. “In my opinion we’ll need 10 years at 1140,000 units to catch up and make life more affordable, having accommodation for workers who want to come to the Okanagan, let alone the students who are coming here because of the success of UBCO and Okanagan College.”

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, who has sat through more than a dozen throne speeches, was not impressed either.

“Every time there is a throne speech or budget I have a piece of paper on my desk in the legislature and I make notes as I hear new initiatives,” said Letnick. “The speech was also most over and my page was still blank.”

Letnick pointed out the throne speech is meant to identify new challenges and how the government is going to address them, as well as highlight new programs and initiatives.

“It was disappointing in that sense,” he added.

Read More: Skills development, spending promised in B.C.’s throne speech

Read More: B.C. opposition parties take aim after NDP’s throne speech


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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