No fall session nothing new, says Maple Ridge MLA Sather

But B.C. premier still not thinking before she speaks

Fall sessions of the legislature have been cancelled before, but MLA Michael Sather would have at least liked a brief sitting.

“Definitely we should have had a couple weeks to go at it,” the NDP member for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows said following Premier Christy Clark’s scrapping of the session.

A fixed calendar ensures spring sessions end by May 31, but there was supposed to be a fall session, as well, Sather said Thursday.

Clark, though, could be trying to avoid the spotlight for a while, Sather added.

“She wants to avoid scrutiny. It hasn’t seem to have gone too well for her in that regard. She’s trying to stay away from prying eyes, and ears and mouths.”

Sather, who steps down in April, said he remembers Clark in the 1990s as an effective as Opposition member.

“As leader … she doesn’t seem to consider ahead of time what she’s going to say. And so she continually says things that don’t serve her well,” Sather said.

“That’s not a good skill for a leader. You have to be more considered than that.

“There were the Ralph Kleins of the world – but in Alberta you can get away with that.

“Generally speaking, it doesn’t work too well in politics to be always speaking off the cuff.”

Sather said the economy and the Harmonized Sales Tax, as well as the B.C. Rail scandal are areas in which the government could be taken to task.

He expects the government to fulfill its promise to reinstate the provincial sales tax as it was before July 2010, when it was combined with the federal Goods and Services Tax to form the HST.

“I can’t imagine they won’t do it.”

Liberal MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission Marc Dalton, though, said the government is going to reinstate the PST, except with a few changes in the filing dates.

“It’s going back to the way it was before.”

The government wanted to do it sooner, but there had to be a transition period for business.

“It’s been very complicated, but it’s going to change April 1.”

Dalton said the Liberals have some work to do with the election looming next May and low polling numbers.

He pointed out that the 47 days the legislature sat this spring is only one day short of the provincial average across Canada and

that there’s only a spring session about half the time.

“It’s not a surprise, it’s the worst-kept secret,” he said of the cancellation.

In the meantime, Dalton is busy in his new job as parliamentary secretary for independent schools. The former teacher was named to that job following Clark’s recent cabinet shuffle.

Dalton is also on the finance committee and is in the middle of a province-wide budget consultation tour to hear from voters about their fiscal priorities, as work begins on next year’s budget.

During the stops in B.C. towns, Dalton is also checking out independent schools.

Pitt Meadows Coun. Doug Bing, who plans to seek the Liberal nomination in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, said the reason Clark could be skipping the session is to give her newly appointed cabinet ministers a chance to get up to speed with their portfolios.

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