Members, we gather for the first time since British Columbians sent you here following an unprecedented outcome in the May election.
British Columbians want a stable government, and in sending us this result they expect us to listen and find a way to work together. They expect us to collaborate, while respecting the dignity, rules, and traditions that govern our constitutional monarchy, our democracy, and this legislature.
British Columbians voted for parties that spoke to the importance of economic growth and jobs, strengthening our social programs, and protecting our environment. They have told us to find a better balance to move forward on all these priorities.
The election result also exposed a growing gap in understanding between rural and urban B.C. We have an obligation to do everything we can to bridge that gap, because urban and rural communities cannot succeed without one another.
With that in mind, instead of focusing on areas of disagreement, we should reflect on who it is that we are, and what we share in common.
We are fortunate to reside in a part of the world that is unmatched in many ways. We have:
- Canada’s most diverse population of First Nations and Indigenous peoples, whose cultures have shaped our province, and with whom we seek justice, reconciliation, and partnerships in economic growth;
- An abundance of natural resources, the bedrock of British Columbia’s economic success;
- A system of clean, transformational power that is the envy of the world, created by previous generations, with the opportunity to transform our economy into the cleanest in the world;
- A super, natural, and biodiverse environment, that we enjoy today and must protect for future generations;
- A diverse population that is open-minded, independent, and prepared to embrace change;
- A place where we have the freedom to be ourselves;
- Thriving urban communities, and strong rural communities that connect us to our land and wildlife;
- A province built on hard work, leading in jobs and economic growth, and with a financial foundation that is the envy of North America.
Your government worked diligently to create jobs and economic growth in the province. And thanks to that effort, your government will confirm a higher than expected surplus at Public Accounts in July.
This unanticipated surplus provides reason to consider moving our fixed election date to the fall, to ensure British Columbians are fully informed of our province’s fiscal position before a General Election.
While other provinces have created structural deficits, B.C.’s unmatched record of five successive balanced budgets has created a structural surplus that puts us in an enviable position.
This moves up the anticipated elimination of our operating debt to 2020, one year ahead of schedule – an accomplishment not achieved since 1976.
Growing surpluses allow us to return dividends to British Columbians, but our sound fiscal management must be nurtured and not taken for granted.
Your government recognizes the importance of labour stability in the province and will continue to share the dividends of economic growth in public sector labour agreements. Over the past decade, most labour issues have ended without disruption. This is a sign that the Labour Code is fair and, as such, no further changes are contemplated by your government.
We reside on what was once considered the far edge of North America, and today we are quickly becoming a central focus for the world. With that comes vast opportunity, and pressure on our legislature to deliver a bright future for all, not just for those who already enjoy advantages.
The stresses from our growth are unprecedented. We must be unafraid to grasp change and harness growth through purposeful decisions. If we do not shape growth, it will shape us.
Members, your government presides in this chamber as the party with the most seats, but not a working majority. It has a duty to present an agenda for consideration and seek the confidence of this House.
Your government has listened and is presenting an agenda not exclusive to one party, but one that includes ideas from all British Columbians that members from all three parties carry into this place.
With the confidence of this House, your government will pursue an agenda that seeks the balance British Columbians have told us to find between economic, social, and environmental priorities.