Campbell’s farewell in throne speech

The Sergeant-at-Arms leads speaker Bill Barisoff into the chamber Monday

VICTORIA – The artillery roared and the honour guard was inspected as usual Monday, to mark the start of a brief and unusual session at the B.C. legislature.

A speech from the throne usually sets the agenda for the year, but Premier Gordon Campbell’s last speech consisted mainly of highlights of his government’s achievements in the past 10 years. Monday’s speech and Tuesday’s budget must be presented to meet legal requirements, but no new policies will be undertaken until a new premier is sworn in early in March.

Finance Minister Colin Hansen dispensed with the ritual of a new pair of shoes as he prepared to deliver his budget Tuesday. The government won’t pass the budget in its four-day legislative session this week, but instead will vote on an interim measure to finance government programs for the next three months.

Campbell said his last throne speech is a chance to look back and also set the stage for a new premier and leader of the opposition.

“I hope that it reflects the fact that I hope everyone will raise the level of public debate and the kind of discourse we have, because I think it’s really important to the long-term future of the province,” Campbell said. “I think the government and the opposition can both do a lot to reflect that in how they handle the challenges ahead, because there are lots of challenges ahead for British Columbia.”

“New leadership, new vision and new ideas will urge us forward as we enter the second decade of the 21st Century,” Lieutenant Governor Steven Point said in delivering the throne speech.

Highlights in the speech included the 2010 Olympics, the government’s efforts to create a new relationship with aboriginal people, expansion of parks and protected areas and the development of clean energy policies.

On Thursday, speakers from both parties will pay tribute to Campbell and NDP leader Carole James, who will be replaced by a new party leader in a vote scheduled for April.

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