The role of an official Opposition critic

Holding feet to the fire

Last week, the new premier of B.C. (David Eby) announced his cabinet, with additional cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

The larger (cabinet) means 84% of NDP MLAs now have ministerial titles and are paid more than their base (MLA) salaries.

The leader of the official Opposition B.C. Liberals, Kevin Falcon, also changed a few of the portfolios and gave shadow cabinet positions to members of our caucus. I remain Environment and Climate Change critic, as well as critic for Gender Equity and Inclusion.

So what does a (critic) do? In my role, I seek to address the pressing issues of environmental protection and the need to combat climate change. I am responsible for holding the government accountable for its actions and policies related to these issues, and for offering alternatives and solutions to the problems facing the environment and the planet.

I also act as a voice for those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment and the need to take urgent action.

How does one accomplish that?

It can involve working with other politicians, environmental organizations, industry and members of the public to push for the implementation of policies that support the transition to a low-carbon economy and the protection of natural habitats.

I am also responsible for scrutinizing the government's policies and actions related to the environment and climate change. That can include reviewing legislation, attending parliamentary debates, scrutinizing the budget, and holding the government to account for any failures or shortcomings in its approach to those issues.

For instance,recently the Climate Change Accountability Report 2022 was released.

It is my job as critic to draw attention to the fact we will not make our next emission targets.

The report states: “The latest modelling on our progress to targets is showing a small gap in meeting our 2030 target”.

Why did we miss the target? And what is the plan to meet future targets?

My job as critic is to draw attention to the fact that this government is spending money without the results of emission reductions.

In my role, I may also offer alternative policies and proposals, drawing on the latest scientific evidence and expert advice, to show how the government could do better in addressing environmental and climate challenges.

In addition, I also play a role in campaigning and advocacy outside of the Legislature. That can include participating in public debates and discussions, speaking at events and working with environmental organizations and other groups to raise awareness about the need for action on climate change and environmental protection.

Overall, the role of the Environment and Climate Change critic is crucial in holding the government accountable for its actions and policies related to the environment and climate change, and in promoting solutions and alternatives that support the transition to a sustainable future.

My question to you is:

Where would you like to see more change on BC’s environmental policies?

I love hearing from you. Please email me at [email protected] or call my 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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