Protestors were unable to prevent Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett from attending Tuesday’s throne speech.
Barnett said she was inside legislature before Wet’suwet’en protestors blocked all the entrances into the building.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful, disgusting,” she said. “It is happening now all across Canada and there needs to be law and order. I have never seen anything like this and people are disgusted and fed up and it has to stop and there has to be leadership from the top. I know they got all the excuses in the world; go see the judge, go see the police, no. Legislation is made in these houses and the leadership of this province has to start showing leadership.”
Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes said she has experienced peaceful protests in her time in elected office and has always respected that right, however, what she experienced in her multiple attempts to get access was not peaceful.
Oakes said her last attempt was with her colleague MLA Michelle Stilwell who uses a wheelchair, and that because people had locked arms they could not push their way through with security.
A second protest is planned to take place Thursday in Williams Lake in front of the RCMP detachment at noon.
As for the throne speech, Barnett said there is nothing in it for rural British Columbia except more taxes.
“They have increased the cost of living,” Barnett said. “You talk about a health tax and people don’t pay it anymore, ya they do. The cost of buying a hamburger has gone up, your fuel has gone up, the cost of your house has gone up. Your cost of living this gets passed on now and pretty near a million people didn’t pay it before anyway because they were lower-income or they paid a little bit.”
“They are gouging business,” she added. “They are sending business out of British Columbia.”
Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin said the John Horgan-led NDP government continues to do its part in trying to make life more affordable for the province’s lowest-paid workers.
“In June of 2020 BC’s minimum wage will go up to $14.60 an hour, in June of 2021, it will reach $15.20 an hour fulfilling this government’s commitment to our lowest-paid workers,” she said.
Austin added since the B.C. overdose crisis began, at least 4,700 deaths have been averted, thanks to expanded harm reduction and treatment options.
She said since July 2017, the government has moved forward on 13 hospital projects and opened 12 urgent and primary care clinics.
“Five hip and knee replacement programs are up and running with 14 more on the way,” she said.
(With files from Brendan Pawliw, MyPGNow)