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March 18, 2009

Stalled Recognition Act Yields 8 More QPs

Gordon Campbell's mishandling of the proposed "Recognition Act" has probably given the NDP an extra eight question periods before the Legislature is adjourned for the election.

In 2005 the Campbell government adjourned the Legislature on March 10th even though the Parliamentary calendar called for it to continue to sit, and the 2005 election wasn't until the second Tuesday in May. This year, according to Vaughn Palmer, Campbell promised first nations that legislation recognizing aboriginal title would be passed before adjournment for the election. Palmer quoted Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mike de Jong calling the proposed legislation: "Unprecedented" and "Change on a seismic scale."

Having upset the business community and his caucus, Campbell has backed off until after the election, but he didn't do so until after the Legislature recessed for the week of spring break. Had he known that his pet legislation was going to meet such a backlash, he might have used closure to ram his Supply Bill (authority to spend $14 billion without debate of ministerial estimates) through with closure and shut the Legislature down as he did in 2005. As it is, adjournment is expected on April 2nd, giving the opposition eight more question periods, during which Stonewally Oppal will continue to shield Campbell because scandal is before the court; it doesn't matter what scandal - political insiders or B.C. Rail corruption.

While minds turn to the election, ordinary people might pause to consider what surprise Campbell has in store if he is re-elected. His conversion on aboriginal rights is breathtaking. He went into the 2001 election while in court fighting the Nisqa'a treaty. In 2002 he held a referendum on treaty negotiations that was roundly condemned. In 2009 he is on the verge of granting veto power over land use decisions to first nations. He should be in hospital with whiplash. If that is the scale of the surprise he has in store for British Columbians if given a third mandate, don't you think he should provide the details of his Recognition Act before the May 12th vote?


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