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'Outrageous': B.C. premier slams Conservative leader's first question in legislature

VICTORIA -

If the first question period is any indication, it’s going to be a fiery fall session at the B.C. legislature.

The province’s normally reserved premier became heated Tuesday responding to a question from Conservative Leader John Rustad, who called the sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) program in schools an assault on parents and teachers..

“It is outrageous that he would stand here and do this,” said David Eby. “He sees political advantage in picking on kids and families and teachers and schools who are just trying to do their best for kids who are at risk of suicide, honourable chair. Choose another question.”

Eby’s rebuke drew a 32-second standing ovation in the chamber, including from many members of the official opposition, BC United, forced to their feet to applaud the premier.

“If we’re ever going to join with the NDP, it will be to make sure vulnerable children aren’t being exploited for political partisan purposes,” said BC United Leader Kevin Falcon.

Following question period, Rustad was defiant.

“Certainly, its not my intention to be feisty, but I do intend to hold this government to account and ask hard questions, and I will not be intimidated by this government,”Rustad said.

It’s the first time in decades there are four official parties represented in the legislature. The BC Conservatives and BC Greens, now with two MLAs each, get to weigh in every questing period, pushing their priorities and the buttons of their opponents. For the Conservatives, those opponents include the also right-of-centre BC United.

Tuesday’s questioning by Rustad was part of that strategy, said Hamish Telford, a poltical science professor at the University of the Fraser Valley.

“Clearly, John Rustad and the BC Conservatives are picking wedge issues that they think will work to their advantage – and make life difficult for BC United,” observed Telford

Asked what he expects over the course of the next seven weeks of the fall session, Rustad said he plans to continue asking tough questions.

“The NDP, the Green party and the BC United party are all on the left – and three lefts don’t make it right,” he said.

With two parties now vying for right-of-centre votes one year away from an election, it's clear that fireworks at the capital won't be reserved for Canada Day. 

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