NDP throne speech long on rhetoric but short on details

Obviously the ruling party’s first full budget will provide the devil in the details

John Horgan delivered the throne speech on Tuesday.                                File photo

John Horgan delivered the throne speech on Tuesday. File photo

Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon read the throne speech in the legislature on Feb. 13.

It’s the NDP government’s blueprint, or preview, of the upcoming budget for what’s going to happen in the next year.

It appeared to be long on promises but very short on details.

The Horgan government is promising its largest investments in child care and affordable housing, but it didn’t provide insight on the scope of the programs and their costs.

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes said she was a bit surprised with the throne speech.

“I thought they would have announced more of the things they promised during the 2017 election campaign.

“First budget, I would have thought we would have heard more about the $10-a-day child care program.”

After the throne speech, Horgan said that was a slogan put together by child-care providers and academics, and the NDP merely embraced it as a goal.

Oakes noted that during the campaign the NDP said they were going to build 114,000 housing spaces, but in the throne speech, they said it’s going to be 1,700.

“They promised a renters rebate, but that wasn’t in the throne speech.

“The importance of capital around education and portables and all that, but again, I didn’t hear any of that in the throne speech – specifically the rural side of the equation.

“They talked lots about making the insurance fair and equitable more investing in rural communities multiple times.”

Then they talked about connectivity, the local MLA said, but the connectivity was all on Victoria, Vancouver Island and on the Coast. There was nothing for the Interior, she adds.

“It’s one thing to say you’re here for rural British Columbia, but we didn’t see any of the announcements leading up to this throne speech.

“I guess we’re going to have to wait to see what they do in the budget.”

Oakes said there were a lot of positive announcements you’ll hear from some of the business organizations – talking about eliminating Medical Services Plan premiums, reducing student loan rates, adding engineering seats at UNBC – “Those were already items in the B.C. Liberal budget.”

The local MLA said seeing where the dollars are allocated in the Budget will be the next “big thing.”

“If the throne speech is supposed to be the NDP blueprint, I think there are going to be a lot of disappointed NDP voters out there.”

Meanwhile, B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said he had “cautious optimism” about the speech.

“We have some concerns about the lack of substance in terms of the depth of some of the arguments. There’s a lot of rhetoric and we’re looking forward to the gory details we’ll see emerge.”

B.C. Liberal Opposition leader Andrew Wilkinson said the throne speech was an indication the NDP doesn’t intend to follow through with their election promises.

“This is a government that doesn’t have the stomach to govern because they made promises they cannot deliver on.

“The throne speech is so completely lacking in substance that we are now concerned they are saving the rude surprises for the budget, where they are likely to raise taxes.”

MLAs from all three parties won’t have long to wait, as NDP Finance Minister Carole James will deliver the NDP’s first full budget on Feb. 20, which will be debated in the legislature.