Jackie Tegart was sworn in, remotely, to her third term as MLA for Fraser-Nicola on Nov. 27.
In a snap election during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Tegart campaigned on staying safe and looking forward to economic recovery for businesses hard hit by the economic fallout from COVID-19 in B.C. And in the swing riding of Fraser-Nicola, Tegart gained her seat by a narrow 282-vote margin ahead of BC NDP candidate and former chief of the Lower Nicola Indian Band Aaron Sumexheltza.
In the BC Liberal Party’s efforts to form government in the B.C. legislature, Tegart also announced infrastructure investment promises during the short campaign. This included a promise to fully fund the rehabilitation of Othello Road, to the tune of $6 million, should the BC Liberals form government. This did not come to fruition, as the BC NDP won 57 of the legislature’s 87 seats, followed by the Liberals’ 28 and the BC Green Party’s two seats.
The confirmation of Tegart’s win was delayed by several weeks as mail-in ballots, a record 660,000 received across the province, were counted by Elections BC.
“The work begins today to hold the government to account and ensure investment in our communities,” Tegart said in a Nov. 27 statement. Coming into her third term as MLA, Tegart told The Hope Standard that the focus looking into the new year is on the budget, one of the most important budgets the province will deliver, and what that budget contains for small businesses and others hard-hit by the pandemic.
Another focus is COVID-19 relief and recovery “programs that are actually accessible,” she said, making sure that the stated aims of the programs live up to what they actually deliver and don’t involve multiple hoops to jump through.
As Tegart said the province will likely be deficit spending for quite some time, having shovel-ready infrastructure projects in Fraser-Nicola communities will be top of mind. “What I want to do is make sure that the priority projects in the riding are on the top of the list, that we’re given serious consideration and that we see some success in receiving dollars from the provincial government,” she said. This includes her promise to continue lobbying to fund the rehabilitation of Othello Road.
In the Nov. 27 statement, interim leader of the official opposition Shirley Bond, said now is a “critical time for BC” and a strong opposition is needed at this time. “British Columbians are facing a crisis like no other in our recent memory. Parents are scared, seniors are lonely, small businesses are struggling, and frustration is mounting. We have an impressive team of MLAs, some new and some returning, who all have the passion, dedication, and expertise to make sure these issues are addressed by John Horgan and the NDP,” she stated.
A day prior, on Nov. 26, Premier John Horgan announced the formation of his government’s new cabinet. The team includes Vancouver-Kingsway MLA Adrian Dix staying on as health minister, as well as Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth as minister of public safety as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
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