MLAs head back to work as B.C. legislature recalled

The opposition New Democrats are expecting the Liberal government to table 10 to 11 new bills, but no throne speech is planned.

Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan doesn’t know what to expect as the B.C. legislature returns to work today.

The opposition New Democrats are expecting the Liberal government to table 10 to 11 new bills, but no throne speech is planned.

“I have no idea what the agenda is for the fall,” Horgan said, adding there have been few discussion between house leaders.

Horgan, leader of the Opposition, is hoping the government will move off its fixation with LNG, and look at other economic issues facing the province, such as log exports and social housing.

“The important part of us coming back we get, as Opposition, to question the government on their policies and the issues of the day and that benefits everyone,” Horgan said.

“The government needs to be sharp, it has to be responsive and can’t just pretend the issue will go away in the next news cycle.”

There are hints the Liberals will likely deal with increasing penalties for distracted driving and careless smoking.

The B.C. government has signalled its intention to increase penalties in both areas. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton announced preliminary results of public consultation on distracted driving penalties at the end of June, with 90 per cent of respondents calling for stiffer penalties for using smartphones while driving.

Anton said the current $167 ticket for distracted drivers is not sufficient for repeat offenders, who could have their vehicles impounded.

After dry conditions sparked an early start to the B.C. forest fire season, Forests Minister Steve Thomson announced a review of penalties for violating campfire bans and tossing lit cigarettes.

Thomson appointed Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris, a former RCMP superintendent, to lead a similar review of those penalties. Morris said he was considering the vehicle impoundment option for careless tossing of cigarette butts, and prohibiting people from camping in provincial parks if they violate campfire restrictions.

The fall session will complete an unusually busy year for the B.C. legislature, which was recalled in July to authorize a project development agreement for the Pacific Northwest LNG gas export project proposed for Prince Rupert.