On Tuesday, Feb. 11—the day after B.C.’s second-ever Family Day—members of the Legislative Assembly returned to Victoria for the start of session.
When the house returns, it does so with pomp and pageantry. When the Lieutenant-Governor arrives, a Canadian Forces ceremonial guard is there waiting. Their 15-gun salute uses real field artillery pieces. They don’t use live ammunition, but trust me, the blanks are loud enough.
Shortly after her arrival to the building, the legislative session formally begins with the Speech from the Throne.
Aside from Question Period, the Throne Speech is perhaps the best-known part of session.
First and foremost, the Throne Speech is about vision. It describes the government’s plans for the session, but it goes much further, literally and figuratively. There’s the plan for the upcoming session, which includes bills to be introduced, debated and eventually made into law. But perhaps more importantly, there’s also the plan for the future—our plan to continue growing a strong economy and create a secure tomorrow.
That plan has five points.
First, to control spending and remain committed to fiscal responsibility. That’s why this week, Finance Minister Mike de Jong will introduce his second consecutive balanced budget.
Second, to open new markets and attract new investment. We’re continuing to build on connections across the Pacific, which has resulted in record export numbers to China and we’re continuing to attract multinationals looking to establish regional headquarters in Vancouver.
Third, to leverage our existing strengths. For example, consider the technology sector. It’s increasingly a big part of Kelowna’s economy and already B.C.’s third-largest industry. But it has by no means reached its potential. That’s why I made Andrew Wilkinson Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizen’s Services, with a mandate to grow the sector.
Fourth, to realize the opportunity of LNG. The scope is incredible: 100,000 new jobs and enough revenue to eliminate our provincial debt. We’re working every day to lay the overall framework to bring this singular opportunity home.
And fifth, to prepare British Columbians to be first-in-line for job opportunities through skills training. That’s why we’re developing a 10-year skills training action plan.
In discussing the government’s vision, the Throne Speech is a chance to articulate the values that underpin our plan—control spending, take care of those who need it and create more opportunities for the next generation.
It’s one thing to say that and quite another to do. As the Lieutenant-Governor said, economic development is about creating more opportunities for everyone, lifting people out of poverty and allowing all citizens to reach their enormous potential.
It’s an ambitious agenda. This session promises to be a lot of hard work. But as every British Columbian knows, that’s what it takes.