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B.C. legislature likely silent until spring, says de Jong

Finance Minister Mike de Jong tables his post-election budget in June. - Canadian Press pool
Finance Minister Mike de Jong tables his post-election budget in June.
— image credit: Canadian Press pool

VICTORIA – The B.C. government is not planning to recall the legislature for a fall session, Finance Minister Mike de Jong said Tuesday.

That could change if a labour dispute shuts down public schools, with contracts expired since spring for teachers and school support staff. The government could call an emergency sitting to impose a settlement if the school year is disrupted by strike action.

But de Jong, the B.C. Liberal house leader, confirmed that the scheduled session from October through November will not be held, as has become routine for the B.C. Liberal government.

"The house sat through the summer in the aftermath of the election, and the government wants to take the time to prepare for a robust spring legislative session," de Jong told reporters Tuesday.

After a brief session to table a pre-election budget in February, the government adjourned in March to begin the campaign, then recalled the legislature in July to debate the budget and ministry spending estimates. Meeting those minimum requirements took 36 sitting days.

NDP house leader John Horgan said Premier Christy Clark apparently prefers "running the government out of a Vancouver office building," with an agenda almost entirely devoted to liquefied natural gas exports to Asia.

Even if the government isn't ready to present its taxation plan for LNG, there are issues such as power and water use and greenhouse gas emissions that should be debated, Horgan said.

De Jong said he hopes to have a gas export tax plan ready for public view by the end of 2013.

Barring an emergency session, the legislature will resume next February with a throne speech describing the government's priorities and a new budget for 2013-14.

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