VICTORIA (November 23, 2021) – Following weeks of criticism over a controversial Freedom of Information (FOI) bill and little time to debate or thoroughly review a substantial 80-page forestry bill, the NDP government has moved to silence debate and ram through all legislation this week.
“This is a heavy-handed push by the NDP to limit the voices of Opposition and push through their agenda. British Columbians expect their elected officials to thoughtfully review and debate all legislation. What we saw from the government today is disrespectful to people in every corner of our province,” said MLA Peter Milobar, BC Liberal House Leader. “Last month, this government spent weeks essentially filibustering their own miscellaneous stats bills because they had no serious legislative agenda. Then all of a sudden they’ve dropped large, substantive bills, and decided to ram them through without proper democratic reviews. It’s an outrageous and shameful political stunt.”
The time allocation invoked by the NDP to force through their bills has previously been criticized by members of their own Caucus, including MLA Nathan Cullen who stated in 2018 when he was an NDP Member of Parliament, that it is a process used to “ram it [government legislation] through parliament,” and that government would be wise to “…just don’t use your total power to shut off peoples’ conversations because that is a way to only encourage more suspicion.”
“First Nations, stakeholders, industry, and forestry-dependent communities have not had their fair chance to be consulted on two important forestry bills, which were being simultaneously debated, that this NDP government is now fast-tracking without proper review,” added Milobar. “John Horgan and the NDP are looking to stifle debate and shutdown the Legislature this week until February, all while rubber stamping an FOI bill that further erodes democracy in our province imposing new fees and barriers to access government information. It’s unacceptable and British Columbians deserve so much better.”
The BC Liberals have introduced a last-minute motion to delay the forestry bill by six months to ensure time for proper scrutiny and force the NDP to consult with impacted First Nations, stakeholders, and forestry-dependent communities.