New premier needs to follow through on promises of action

New premier's work cut out

David Eby became the leader of the NDP last week, and thus the Premier Delegate for our province.

So while we may have to wait a couple of weeks for Eby to be sworn in, he has already launched his 100-day-plan for his first months in office.

I was eager to see what would be in this plan, as Eby only released a housing policy platform in his leadership bid.

Anjali Appadurai, his disqualified environmental activist opponent (in the NDP leadership race), released far more policy announcements than Eby during the race, with well flushed out plans and ideas on healthcare, the environment, housing and mental health.

Appadurai and I would not necessarily be aligned on issues, however I greatly admire her temerity in engagement, as she gave the residents of B.C. an idea of who she is, what she stands for and how she was going to fix the issues British Columbians face daily.

Eby did not.

So there was much anticipation for his 100-day plan. During his press conference, Eby (after officially becoming leader) he spoke of three major priorities—healthcare, housing and safety. He also mentioned climate change and the cost of living.

I think most would agree with that list, but there were no details of any actions that would work to solve these issues for British Columbians.

Based on what little was in his plan, I don’t know that his policies and direction will differ from the trajectory of the government under Premier John Horgan.

Take prolific offenders for an example.

For more than a year, as our cities’ crime rates skyrocket, the Urban Mayors’ Caucus asked for meetings with the former attorney general, and begged for action.

Its members wrote letters detailing crime in their communities and the small number of prolific offenders responsible for these crimes. In the Legislative Assembly, the B.C. Liberals put forward solutions that could be taken immediately, including MLA Mike Morris asking for dedicated Crown counsel for prolific offenders.

Numerous times, I asked for complex care facilities, which would serve those with mental health and addiction issues. And I debated the former attorney general during estimates, asking for municipal funding for those facilities.

The B.C. Liberal caucus, through MLA Mike de Jong, suggested the use of a specific directive to Crown counsel. That directive would have Crown counsel asking the courts to hold prolific offenders in custody until their court date, instead of releasing them into the community, where they are likely to re-offend.

Instead of considering these suggested solutions, and meeting with the Urban Mayors’ Caucus, then Eby, as then attorney general, commissioned a report that took four and a half months to be completed.

Each day, on average, four people are attacked by strangers in downtown Vancouver. That number doesn’t include what happens on our streets in Kelowna or other municipalities around the province. It means, that while Eby commissioned a report and chose inaction, more than 1,000 people were assaulted. And that while our future premier defended his “catch-and-release” program.

So will we see shifts or changes in policy or direction on public safety with this new premier? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Eby has been the Minister of Housing and the Attorney General for the last two years and six years respectively. He has been the minister in charge of two of the three areas where he promises dramatic action. I hope he brings that dramatic action.

British Columbia needs and deserves action on these, and so many other issues.

My question to you this week is:

What would you like to see included in the 100-day plan of the new premier?

I love hearing from you. Please email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC Liberal MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for the Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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