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Throne speech: New "family day" in February, cameras in riot courtrooms

The British Columbia government is pushing to have TV cameras and radio microphones allowed into all criminal trials related to the Stanley Cup riot.

The British Columbia government is pushing to have TV cameras and radio microphones allowed into all criminal trials related to the Stanley Cup riot.

The announcement came Monday during a speech from the throne, which marked the first day of the legislature's fall sitting.

"The actions of rioters were disgraceful, particularly in contrast to the community spirit exhibited by thousands of citizens who helped the city recover in the days and weeks that followed," said the speech, read by Lt.-Gov. Steven Point.

"This breakdown in civil order requires that justice be done, and that it also be seen to be done."

The speech said government has called on Crown Counsel to "advocate" for radio and television access during all relevant cases.

In the speech, the government also promised to ease delays in the province's court system, by reappointing retired judges to provide so-called "surge capacity."

In a wide ranging speech, the government of Premier Christy Clark confirmed its plans to introduce a statutory holiday in February, but said the first one wouldn't come until 2013.

"Given our economic circumstances, B.C. employers will need time to adjust to this new statutory holiday," said the speech.

"Therefore, the first B.C. Family Day will fall on Feb. 18, 2013."

The government also signaled an intention to back off its hard-line stance on wage freezes during the next round of negotiations with public sector unions.

"Though taxpayer-funded public sector wage increases will be challenging to achieve, and must fit within the fiscal plan, your government understands that public servants need to be treated fairly," said the speech.

"The government will facilitate a process for collective agreement improvements by working with ministries and employer groups to find savings through cooperative gains."

Under the current "net zero" negotiating mandate, public sector workers could only receive wage increases if other savings were found within their specific contracts.

The speech Monday appears to indicate raises could result in the next round of bargaining from savings found within the system at large.

The speech also promised a "hard look at all crown corporations", similar to what it just did with BC Hydro. It said these reviews will begin in January "to ensure taxpayers and families are protected and the interests of all British Columbians are well served."

A recent review of BC Hydro identified recommendations to reduce planned rate hikes by 50 per cent.

On education, the government promised funding to address the issues of class composition in the province.

It also said it would expand anti-bullying policies in schools, improve protection for students against teachers who abuse their positions of trust and that it would "introduce a series of important changes to improve the skills of our current teachers."

The speech said this is all in an attempt to "modernize" education.

"Students need skills that will allow the to adapt to a world that is changing more quickly than ever before," it said.

"These skills can be taught by our teachers, but not using a 20th century curriculum with 20th century teaching methods."

The government also signaled it may be open to using carbon tax revenues for projects that promote environmental sustainability.

"All funds collected through the carbon tax are returned to British Columbians -- citizens and businesses -- through a range of tax relief," said the speech.

"As we look beyond 2012, we will consider next steps in our clean energy and environmental strategies, in partnership with communities, industry, First Nations, non-government organizations and, most importantly, citizens."

The speech, which is traditionally used to lay out the priorities for a coming legislative session, also promised a new Family Law Act during the coming Fall session, new legislation to streamline the dispute-resolution process for traffic fines and significant changes to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.