Once again, we were denied a year-end interview with the Premier.
Every year, the Premier schedules customary – but not obligatory – year-end interviews with members of the legislative press gallery.
I asked last year, and was denied. I accepted the given explanation on face value, and said so here.
This year, I asked once more, and was denied. Again.
The Premier’s Office apologized, citing time constraints – but also confirmed that of all the members of the Press Gallery to request a year-end interview with the Premier, I was the only one denied.
Let me digress a little here, because this is odd.
I’d be shocked if this was the Premier’s personal doing, for two reasons. First, it’s too small an issue to warrant his intervening. Second, it would be out of character. In press conferences, Horgan accepts and responds to my questions. Our interactions are always fair and respectful – friendly, even – and acknowledged by him and his staff as such.
We have even socialized.
Alas. I will ask again next year.
In the meantime, respectfully, I submit this should not become the new normal. The tradition of granting interviews to the press gallery is about accessibility and accountability. If the Premier’s staff are worried he might have faced hard questions…well, yeah. They’re right. It’s not like he gets easy questions from everyone else.
Below are the questions I would have liked to ask him. I regret that I won’t get to hear his answers. I’m sure they would have been thoughtful.
Once again, this is what I would have asked the Premier.
Your government has made great progress on LNG. How have you been able to move ahead further than previous governments?
In two years, the surplus has gone from $2.5 billion to $149 million. Are you worried about the possibility of heading into the next election with a deficit?
Recently, I wrote that I believe the NDP may have peaked electorally. Other pundits have made similar observations. Presuming you disagree, where do you think your party can make gains in the next election?
Let’s talk about Community Benefits Agreements. I think it’s fair to call this one of the signature policy statements of your government, yet not all infrastructure projects are subject to project labour agreements. If CBAs are an unvarnished good, why not apply them across the board?
I’m sure by now you’ve seen the video of North Island MLA Claire Trevena with frustrated forestry workers in her riding. She said she’d be taking their concerns back to Cabinet – but as one of them says, surely your government can’t still be in the intelligence gathering stage. What more can you do to help BC’s crippled forestry sector and the communities that depend on it? (Editor’s note – since this was written, Horgan has been much more vocal on this file, vowing aid for idle loggers and an end to the six month strike.)
You have a good relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Obviously it’s preferable that the Premier and Prime Minister are on good terms – can you point to an example where that’s been beneficial?
Despite some obvious (and big) policy disagreements, you also seem to get along well with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. What common ground have you been able to find with him?
Construction has begun on the Trans Mountain expansion project. Has “every tool in the toolbox” to oppose it been exhausted?
Jinny Sims resigned from cabinet because of an active police investigation. Should she also have stepped out of caucus?
You and I have discussed heckling and civility in the legislature before. Do you think that has improved, stayed the same, or gotten worse over the past year?
There is still no contract with the BCTF. From the outside, it appears both the BCTF and NDP thought the other would take it easier. But as you well know, the BCTF have always been strident and difficult negotiators regardless of the party in power. In fact, there has never been a negotiated agreement between the BCTF and an NDP government. Once again, the two sides appear very far apart – what’s going to be different this time?
Maclean Kay is Editor-in-Chief of The Orca