B.C. Lt. Governor Janet Austin presides over opening ceremonies at the B.C. legislature, reading the government’s speech from the throne. (Hansard TV)

B.C. touts Indigenous reconciliation in protest-delayed throne speech

Gas pipeline protesters block MLAs, staff from B.C. legislature

Premier John Horgan’s throne speech to open the spring session of the B.C. legislature recounts his NDP government’s efforts to lead Canada in Indigenous reconciliation, from adopting a United Nations declaration to sharing billions of dollars in lottery and casino funds.

Tuesday’s speech was marred by hundreds of loud, chanting protesters rejecting reconciliation, a natural gas pipeline across northern B.C. and Canada itself as a colonial invader to the province. Students and other supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs trying to stop the Coastal Gaslink pipeline surrounded the legislature, blocking MLAs, staff and reporters from entering Tuesday.

One TV reporter was cursed and pelted with debris as he attempted to report on the unfolding situation. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham was turned away by protesters as she tried to enter the building, one of several MLAs who decided to stay away for the first day of a session that is scheduled to last until the end of May.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth wouldn’t comment on the protest tactics, saying only that legislature security was working with the Victoria police and he respects peaceful protest.

RELATED: Pipeline protesters block MLAs from B.C. legislature

RELATED: B.C. NDP vows to be first in Canada to enact UN rights

Lt. Gov. Janet Austin managed to make it inside the building, after the traditional 15-gun salute and inspection of military, police and firefighters was cancelled due to the large tent camp, campfire and protest rally at the main entrance.

Austin’s reading of the government’s speech referred to more than two years of work on reconciliation.

“It has made major investments in Indigenous priorities like language revitalization, funding for aboriginal friendship centres, culturally appropriate health care and mental-health supports, and Indigenous housing on and off reserve,” the speech says. “Last year, B.C. transferred the first two years of funding, as part of a commitment that will see $3 billion in provincial gaming revenues shared with first nations over 25 years.”

The speech, a traditional preview of government plans for the coming year, was heavy on political rhetoric about the previous B.C. Liberal government and re-announcements of NDP government plans. One of those is implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with a framework bill passed in November that now requires amendments to many existing laws.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said Horgan’s refusal to speak to reporters after the speech is a sign he can’t defend it.

“It could have been last year’s throne speech because there is no agenda whatsoever,” Wilkinson said. “We see the premier falling asleep in his chair while the protesters are being heard shouting in the chamber.”

The speech reiterates the NDP government’s pledge from last week to overhaul legislation governing the Insurance Corporation of B.C. and court rules, to remove most injury cases from courts to a civil resolution tribunal.

Other initiatives include a “plastics action plan” to reduce plastic pollution, likely a provincial ban on point-of-sale plastic bags and other single-use containers that end up in landfills.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

MP Morrison touts non-partisan effort to provide relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government has announced a slew of economic initiatives for those impacted by the pandemic

Local business provides first responders with 22 bottles of hand-sanitizer amid shortages

By: Jesse Heinrichs A hand-sanitizer shortage has hit some of the people… Continue reading

Veterinary clinics considered essential services, continue to help animals

The B.C. government recently released an official list of businesses that are… Continue reading

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

Frontline workers receiving COVID-19 isolation exemptions prompt concerns

Provincial Health Authority staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel

Most Read