B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)

B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)

B.C. Liberal leadership contest will wait for election post-mortem

Interim leader set to face NDP on payments for COVID-19

The B.C. Liberal Party is going to “take some time to look back” at the setbacks of the October election before launching into a leadership contest, interim leader Shirley Bond says.

Meanwhile, the 19-year veteran MLA for Prince George-Valemount is urging Premier John Horgan to continue working with opposition parties on the response to COVID-19 when the B.C. legislature convenes Dec. 7 for a session expected to last no more than two weeks.

The main business of the brief post-election sitting will be voting on spending authority for about $1.4 billion to send out COVID-19 aid payments to individuals and households with income up to $125,000 a year. Speaking reporters in a video conference Nov. 24, a day after being elected interim leader by the 28-member caucus, Bond declined so say if the B.C. Liberals will support payments of up to $1,000 for households and $500 for individuals, whether they have lost income due to the pandemic or not.

MLAs are being sworn in this week for jobs that currently pay $111,000 a year, which would make some of them eligible for the payments that were a key election promise from Horgan. With the province’s deficit already expected to be nearly $13 billion, B.C. Liberals must decide if they will vote against the measure, a formality as they face a 57-seat NDP majority.

They also will consider if they will take the money themselves, a subject Bond expects will generate “vigorous debate” in private.

“We are going to ask for specific details as the issue is presented, and I don’t think it’s something we should expect will simply be marched into the house and marched out the door,” Bond said. “When you’re talking about spending at that magnitude, let me be clear. We want to support British Columbians as well, we want to make sure that resources are provided to families and businesses that needs them, but there needs to be transparency, accountability, and that’s the kind of discussion we’ll have in the caucus room.”

RELATED: B.C. legislature resuming to vote on COVID-19 payments

RELATED: Latest COVID-19 restrictions ‘starting to show results’

On the pandemic response, Bond said the latest business restrictions announced by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s are an example of what the opposition needs to get to work on.

“We have restaurants concerned, we have churches that are concerned, we have live theatre companies that are concerned, and much of that relates to confusion,” Bond said. “This isn’t about criticism of Dr. Henry. We admire the work that she’s done, and certainly [health minister] Adrian Dix has done a capable job. Having said that, we have a role to play. I hope we can do that in a respectful but probing way, and I think you’ll see that emerge in the days ahead.”

Horgan’s cabinet is to be sworn in Nov. 26, as MLAs take their oaths of office, mostly by remote video conference. B.C. Green MLAs Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen were sworn in in person Monday, with strict limits on the number of people in attendance.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
South Columbia Search and Rescue called in the Nelson Search and Rescue and Kootenay Valley Helicopters to provide a long line rescue. Photo: BCSAR submitted.
Long-line rescue needed for injured hiker near Trail

Members of South Columbia and Nelson SAR and Kootenay Valley Helicopters did a long-line evacuation

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Caleb Wykes, Jade Daniel and Alicia Dennis celebrate Australia Day at the Fernie Hotel and Pub. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Fernie Hotel celebrates the land down under

Sausages sizzled and Vegemite was spread as The Fernie Hotel celebrated Australia Day on Jan. 26.

Teck today announced the development of a new centralized office building in Sparwood, B.C. File photo
What’s in a brand? Sparwood logo turns 10

The five-point star and branding has adorned the district’s properties since 2011

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kamloops hospital grows to 66 cases

A majority of cases remain among staff at Royal Inland Hospital

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

Health officials planning new measures to ensure people verify where they live before inoculation

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

Most Read