VICTORIA – Two coveted political goals of the NDP and Greens were defeated Monday in the British Columbia legislature as the opposition parties resolved no bills should be considered until a confidence vote is held on the province’s Liberal government.The NDP and Greens combined to reject legislation from the minority Liberal government that would have reformed political party financing and given the Greens official party status in the legislature.NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver said the opposition parties are focused on Thursday’s vote that is expected to defeat Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals.“Let’s decide the election, seven weeks after the fact,” Horgan said in the legislature.The Liberals have been in power for 16 years and won 43 seats in the 87-seat legislature last month. The NDP have 41 seats and the Greens three.The two opposition parties have agreed to defeat the Liberals and attempt to form a minority NDP government.Weaver said the Greens are committed to the confidence vote, even if it means rejecting Liberal reforms that his party supports.“In my view, it’s not appropriate for us to be debating government business until such time as the confidence has been tested,” he said.Attorney General Andrew Wilkinson said he was disappointed the opposition parties voted against government bills that all three parties now support, including banning corporate and union money from party financing and capping individual donations at $2,500.“It’s a bit baffling that the Green party, which asked for exactly these changes, has decided to vote against even looking at it,” said Wilkinson.Liberal house leader Mike de Jong said the proposed law, which the Liberals opposed in last month’s election campaign, could have passed in the coming days.“There seems to be a convergence of opinion in favour of doing this,” he said. “This government has been told repeatedly by the Opposition it’s something that can be done in a day, and they are willing to do it in a day, so OK, let’s test that proposition.”De Jong said the party financing law was not a delay tactic because the Liberals still expect the confidence vote on Thursday. The government wanted the law in place in the event of snap election, he added.“We’re also alive to the fact that there is a possibility, with a parliament configured the way this one is, we could be into an election at any point,” said de Jong. “The sooner the rules are in place, the new rules are in place, the sooner they can be understood.”The New Democrats have called for finance reform for more than a decade. The Greens do not accept donations from unions or corporations.“For 16 years, the Liberals have had the opportunity to reform our outrageously lax campaign finance laws, which have been subject to international scrutiny,” Weaver said in a statement. “For 16 years they have failed to act while continuing to accept millions in corporate donations.”Premier Christy Clark urged members of the legislature to vote in favour of the throne speech.“The road to stability is not to defeat the throne speech and to risk an election. The road to stability and the road to being able to make sure that government, working together in this legislature, can get on with the business in this house.”Clark said her government made every effort with its changes from the throne speech last February to ensure that all members of the house could support the speech.
TORONTO – Rain and unwavering efforts by firefighters have led to progress in the battle against forest fires in northern Ontario.The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources said Tuesday there has been a slight decrease in the number of fires raging across the province and the biggest fire in the northeast is no longer out of control.Fire information officer Shayne McCool said as of Tuesday afternoon there are 120 active fires, including 76 in the northwest region and 44 in the northeast.McCool said the largest fire in the northeast, known as “North Bay 72” and burning about 30 kilometres west of Temiskaming Shores, is no longer out of control.He said the blaze hasn’t grown and is now classified as “being held” which McCool said means the fire is one classification away from being under control.“It’s at the step between not under control and under control essentially,” he said. “This is certainly very good progress for us.”The blaze began on July 8 and covers about 272 square kilometres. McCool said the rain and lack of wind will help contain the blaze.Another large fire, dubbed “Parry Sound 33,” is about 113 square kilometres and remains out of control. However, the ministry said crews now have hose lines around the perimeter of the fire.An evacuation order for residents of several communities in the French River area remains in effect and as do numerous travel restrictions.“We’ve had some good news in recent days, but it’s still a very busy fire season. I want to remind the public, especially people living near active fires, to stay alert and always keep safety in mind,” Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Jeff Yurek said in a statement.The ministry says almost 1,000 firefighters from Ontario are attacking fires from the air and on the ground, aided by about 480 firefighters from out province and support staff, along with aircraft.The ministry says there have been 918 forest fires so far this year compared to 354 in 2017.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said the largest fire in the northeast was the “Parry Sound 33” fire.