B.C. premier, cabinet members sworn in, head straight to first meeting

VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark moved quickly Monday from an official swearing-in ceremony at Victoria’s government house to the legislature where her new cabinet gathered for its first working meeting.

“Let’s sit down and get down to work,” said Clark as she and her 19 new ministers held their first meeting.

Clark announced her new cabinet Friday in Vancouver, but she and her cabinet members were officially sworn in Monday. The remaining Liberal, Opposition New Democrat and Independent MLAs will be sworn in later this week.

“Welcome back to those of you who are returning and congratulations to those of you who are joining us here at this table for the very first time. We have a lot of work ahead of us. So, let’s get it done,” said Clark at the start of the cabinet meeting.

The media was briefly allowed into the cabinet meeting to hear Clark’s opening remarks.

Clark has scheduled a news conference for this afternoon where she is expected to announce a recall of the house, allowing the government to debate and pass the budget introduced in February.

The premier said last week she wants to return to the legislature as soon as possible even though she can’t sit on the front benches with her ministers.

She must run in a byelection after being defeated on election night in her Vancouver-Point Grey riding.

Clark has decided to run in Westside-Kelowna after Liberal Ben Stewart stepped aside in the safe Liberal riding, although a date for the byelection has not yet been announced.

A small group of protesters wearing clown costumes gathered outside of government house during Clark’s swearing in ceremony.

Protester Rob Duncan said B.C. has the second highest rate of child poverty in Canada, but the issue is not getting enough attention from the government.

“One in seven children living in poverty is a crisis and nobody seems to realize that,” said Duncan, who represents Victoria’s Social Environmental Alliance. “I don’t understand why it’s not the No. 1 topic in the news.”

Duncan handed out leaflets that said 38 per cent of food bank users are children and in 1989, Canada’s politicians voted to end child poverty by the year 2000, but it has been increasing instead.

The protesters said they decided to wear the clown costumes to attract attention.