Maple Ridge MLAs surprised as any by throne speech day

Maple Ridge MLAs surprised as any by throne speech day

New government buys time as Liberal serves as speaker

Bob D’Eith was surprised as much as the rest of B.C. when he learned that Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas would be named speaker of the B.C. legislature.

“No idea,” D’Eith, the NDP MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission, said of the development. “We’re very excited about that. I found out about that this morning.”

With Plecas, MLA for Abbotsford South, as speaker, the Liberals and governing NDP currently have 41 seats each in the legislature following last May’s squeaker of an election.

The Green party, which is supporting the NDP, holds the balance of power with three votes.

“It basically allows a litte more breathing room,” D’Eith said Friday during the throne speech reception.

Several issues, from rental assistance to eliminating union and political contributions were covered in the throne speech with details to come later.

With a non-NDPer serving as speaker, the government, for now, has less chance of losing a confidence vote. “We have an opportunity to actually roll out all the things we said in the campaign,” D’Eith said.

“We’re committed to getting rid of union and corporate donations. We’re committed to doing things. But these things are going to take some time.”

D’Eith mentioned changes to the Residential Tenancy Act, a housing strategy, increased education funding, and the opioid crisis as other topics in the speech.

“There are so many highlights,” said NDP Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA and Tourism Minister Lisa Beare. Affordable housing, bus passes for people with disabilities, “there’s a lot of great things in there that will make life more affordable for people in our community and get us access to the services we need, so it’s a great speech.”

Beare was also suprised by announcement of a Liberal as speaker of the house. “We found out this morning. I think it’s fantastic news.”

She said her party is looking forward to working with the Liberals, Greens and indigeneous groups. “It’s a great opportunity for us to move forward, together.”