A prime minister or premier is not the same entity as the government in which she or he holds a leading office. That is why Christy Clark, the Premier of British Columbia, adopted a dubious idea when she decided to replace the Speech from the Throne for the B.C. Legislature’s spring session with a statement on Monday during her 90-minute appearance on a radio phone-in program, The Bill Good Show, at the station where she herself was a talk-show host.
The Liberals and the New Democrats had agreed – mistakenly – to dispense with a Throne Speech. Nonetheless, the NDP was taken aback by the change of venue.
This irregular course is somewhat like that of Ernie Eves, a former premier of Ontario, who in 2003 presented the province’s budget, not in the Legislature, but at the training centre of Magna International Inc., an auto-parts manufacturer. The Speaker ruled that there was a prima facie case for contempt of the Legislature; there had been violation of a convention of the constitution.
Ms. Clark will not suffer that ignominy. The fall session had not ended in a prorogation; strictly speaking, that session is not over. If, however, a fresh statement of the government’s program was required, a new session, with the customary reading of the Speech from the Throne, by the Lieutenant-Governor, Steven Point, would have been a symbolic reassertion of the fact the government is more than this or that political personality.