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Clark defends cancellation of fall legislative session

B.C. Premier Christy Clark talks with construction workers in West Kelowna, July 11, 2013.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

B.C. Premier Christy Clark, under fire as her government cancelled the fall sitting of the legislature, tried Tuesday to cast the move as a populist effort to reach out to voters by escaping the provincial capital.

"There are two ways you can go about running government. One of them is to close yourself off in Victoria, figure out what legislation is going to look like and impose it on people without talking to them," she said. "I'm not going to be that kind of premier."

Ms. Clark said there was a summer session after the May provincial election, but it's now time for government MLAs to talk to voters about how they are going to fulfill their campaign promises. The Premier said the House does not have to sit for government to deal with such issues as a referendum on how to fund Lower Mainland transit development, and planned liquor law reforms, among other issues.

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The Liberal decision means the House will not resume until February with a Throne Speech and budget.

Government House Leader Mike de Jong announced the decision on the session on Tuesday. He said the "ultimate" accountability for MLAs was provided through the spring election.

"As a legislator, I like to sit in the House but I also understand the duties of MLAs don't begin and end in the legislative chamber," he said.

However, opposition New Democrats were sharply critical of the Liberals' announcement. "I think it offends people, it certainly offends me," said NDP House Leader John Horgan.

Mr. Horgan said that when he put his name forward for office, he expected he would come to Victoria to represent the views of voters – an aspiration he assumed other MLAs shared.

"You don't do that by running government out of a Vancouver office building," he said, "and that's apparently what Ms. Clark wants to do."

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