Finance Minister Mike de Jong's reasons why a fall sitting of the legislature isn't necessary don't really add up.
He said the government is engaged in "the preparation of the budget." But they engage in that work every year. The budget is still six months away and governments have managed in the past to squeeze fall sittings into the calendar.
He also said they're working on "some pretty significant projects like the development of a taxation regime for liquefied natural gas."
But that was the main reason for a fall session in the first place. B.C. was expected to send a solid signal to all the proponents of LNG projects about how it was all supposed to work.
Not recalling the legislature because the government is still working on an LNG tax system implies that they're falling behind schedule. Premier Christy Clark later confirmed that's the case.
He also said they want to "take the time to prepare for a robust spring session." As if sitting in the fall for a few weeks would leave the B.C. Liberals too depleted and exhausted to come back in the spring.
The B.C. Liberals have once again left themselves wide open to charges that they are dodging the legislature. The one valid defence de Jong offered was the fact it's an election year. The campaign was the ultimate accountability measure, and the Liberals obviously passed that test easily.
People who believe the measure of success is how many days the house sits will always be offended when the government curtails the calendar, he said. But he said others will ask: "How many more laws do I need to be governed by?"
Legislature sittings usually work to the benefit of the Opposition. But this one could have been designed to expose some of the uncertainties on the NDP side. Leader Adrian Dix will make his plans known any day, and not many people expect the status quo to hold.
It looks simply as if the B.C. Liberals don't feel the need, and couldn't be bothered.
In place of a legislated LNG tax system, de Jong offered the idea that a framework or outline will be public by the end of the year. "It's urgent because of the measure of import that we have assigned to getting on with the development of the industry."
The tax regime is just one of the many moving parts that have to be fitted together in the next few years before the first ship full of LNG sails for Asia.
The exact job is to secure a fair return for taxpayers from companies that get the rights to access and develop the resource. B.C. has to be competitive internationally and make the proposition attractive to companies that have international options if they don't like what B.C. offers.
"You've got to find that sweet spot."
De Jong made the comments while delivering a budget update that showed when it comes to giving the economy a boost, LNG can't come soon enough.
Liberals went into the election campaign forecasting a thin surplus of $197 million. When they updated the number after the election, the margin shrank to $153 million. On Tuesday, it was whittled down further, to $136 million.
NDP finance critic Mike Farnworth heaped more doubt on the idea that this year's budget will balance. But the NDP campaigned on the notion that an NDP government wouldn't balance it either, which tends to invalidate the point.
Les Leyne covers the legislature for the Victoria Times Colonist. Email: