VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark took her seat in the B.C. legislature Monday, to square off with the NDP opposition for the first time since being selected as leader of the B.C. Liberal Party.
With the spring legislative session set to end on Thursday, Clark and her government have a packed agenda for the week. MLAs began debate a government motion to reduce the harmonized sales tax by two percentage points over the next three years, in preparation for a mail-in ballot on the tax that begins in June.
Clark must also defend the budget for the premier's office in the coming year, and is taking part in question period for the first time since she resigned from provincial politics in 2004.
The NDP opposition devoted its entire question period Monday to demanding the government fund lawyers for advocacy groups in an inquiry into the handling of missing and murdered women in East Vancouver.
Clark said afterward she agreed with inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal's decision to open up the inquiry to people who don't have lawyers and are not subject to cross-examination.
Clark said she appreciated the lack of heckling that accompanied her debut, and she wasn't too surprised that the NDP avoided pressing her on the issue of the HST.
"It's hard for them to argue on the HST when they're supporting a 12-per-cent tax and the government's supporting a 10-per-cent tax," she said.
NDP leader Adrian Dix said the HST debate will be prominent in the last days of the legislative session, and he expects the government to use its majority to push through its HST changes this week.