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Former BC Energy Minister Bill Bennett BC Legislature in Victoria on the day he was fired from cabinet. Nov. 17, 2010 (Deddeda Stemler for the Globe and Mail/Deddeda Stemler for the Globe and Mail)
Former BC Energy Minister Bill Bennett BC Legislature in Victoria on the day he was fired from cabinet. Nov. 17, 2010 (Deddeda Stemler for the Globe and Mail/Deddeda Stemler for the Globe and Mail)

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Bill Bennett's surprise, the unelected Premier and the NDP on business and BC Rail Add to ...

How you know you are listening to New Democrats and not Liberals competing in a leadership race:

NDP leadership contender John Horgan (Juan de Fuca) says he is prepared to break contracts with private companies signed by the provincial government if he leads the NDP to victory in the next provincial election, reports the Williams Lake Tribune.

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Referring to contracts with private firms or public-private partnerships, Mr. Horgan told about 60 people in Williams Lake that he would "open contracts and ensure they were in the public interest - if not, they will be broken," the newspaper reported.

Mr. Horgan also said he supported a moratorium on run-of-river projects and more government regulation. "Self regulation is not working too well," he said. "The wealth is slipping through our fingers."



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New Democrats outside the leadership race were also drawing attention to how they differ from Premier Christy Clark's Liberals. NDP MLA Norm Macdonald (Columbia River-Revelstoke) called for a full public inquiry into the government sell-off of BC Rail - something that has been ruled out by Ms. Clark - in his MLA report in the Golden Star in Golden, B.C. and in the Revelstoke Times Review.

The six-million dollar payout to cover legal fees for two men convicted of breach of trust was one of several issues to be investigated, he wrote. B.C. was told the railway company must be sold because it was losing money but this turned out to be an inaccurate assertion, Mr. Macdonald says. B.C. was told BC Rail would be leased, not sold, but who believes a 1,000- year lease is not a sale? Third, the people were told the bidding process would be fair.

But top level BC Liberal political operatives received bribes to provide inside information to potential bidders, hecontinued. "While this close connection to the BC Rail scandal must be a strong disincentive for Premier Christy Clark to investigate any further, it is clear that all British Columbians deserve to know what really happened."



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Ken Alexander, the editor of the Free Press in 100 Mile House, was willing to hold his pen a bit longer before offering comment about B.C.'s new premier.

"It's time for Christy Clark and her hand-picked inner circle to get down to the business of running the province," he wrote in a signed editorial that highlighted the HST as the top issue.

"Hey, it's early and like former NDP Premier Glen Clark said, 'Give me a little wriggle room,' Mr. Alexander wrote, without elaborating on the cryptic quote.

Mr. Clark made the remark in defence of significant revisions in budget figures after his victory in the 1996 election. The so-called fudge-it, budget turned out to be based on political choices that most financial experts could not substantiate.



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Independent MLA Bill Bennett (Kootenay East) is probably still perplexed why he is not in Premier Christy Clark's cabinet. Before she announced her choices, Mr. Bennett in the Fernie Free Press sounded pretty confident that he would be part of the inner circle.

"I think frankly she's going to need somebody like me, to help her understand rural British Columbia," the MLA who was banished from the Liberal caucus for criticizing former premier Gordon Campbell told the newspaper.

Mr. Bennett reassured readers he did not intend to sell out his principles for a cabinet post. "If I go back into government, I'll know in the first six months, whether we're going to be able to represent the rural constituents in her government," he said.

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Meanwhile Independent MLA Bob Simpson (Cariboo North), who was expelled from the NDP for criticism of his party leader, Carole James, was celebrating his independence.

"We now allow political parties to exercise too much control over our legislative system," he wrote in a column about the unelected premier of B.C. in the Williams Lake Tribune.

The first B.C. election fought along party lines was held in 1903, but it was not until 1940 that candidates were required to declare their political affiliation on official ballots, he wrote. Party discipline was non-existent until the 1950s, he says.

"In short, we have an unelected premier today because our legislative system was not designed with political parties in mind," Mr. Simpson says. "Its founders never imagined the possibility that British Columbians would ever allow an unelected person to become premier simply because they were the leader of a political party."



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Meanwhile in federal politics:











Federal Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, (Kamloops-Thomson-Cariboo) linked the the flare-up in Parliament that could lead to a federal election being called later this week to the longevity of the minority Conservative government.

She told the Free Press in 100 Mile House that she was not surprised by the historic rulings by House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken on the refusal of the Conservative government to provide sufficient details to the Commons of its crime bill and corporate tax cuts.

The Speaker also decided that International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda had given inconsistent testimony to a Common's committee.

Ms. McLeod told the paper that Parliament was not used to working with a long-term minority government. "So this is not surprising, at least in my mind, that we've had some challenges that the Speaker has had to rule on," she said.



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