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

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Confusion surrounds terms of RCMP withdrawal from pipeline construction area

B.C. Deputy Commissioner clarifies terms of agreement following minister’s statements

Stop checks, searches of Wet’suwet’en pipeline opposers unlawful: Watchdog

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs file complaint

Wet’suwet’en pipeline supporters speak up

“Protesters get one side of the story and they stand up with their fists in the air.”

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Petition slams Victoria councillor who chastised police after Wetsuweten protest

Ben Isitt calls effort to get him suspended is not a ‘reliable barometer of public opinion’

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Most Read