Rob Shaw and Judith Lavoie
Times Colonist

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will address B.C.’s legislature today, but it’s unlikely he’ll be anywhere near the numerous protesters expected to gather outside.

Harper is scheduled to address the legislative assembly at 1:30 p.m. He’s not set to make a dramatic entrance to the building using the front steps, like the lieutenant-governor, instead choosing a mostly sheltered walk from inside the premier’s office in the building’s west annex.

Inside, he’ll make a speech to B.C.’s 85 MLAs that is expected to thank British Columbians for their work organizing the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

The federal Opposition Liberals sent out a list of questions yesterday that they hoped B.C. MLAs would ask the prime minister during his visit, because Harper has prorogued parliament in Ottawa.

But B.C.’s Opposition NDP Leader Carole James said she’ll keep the criticism of Harper confined to activities outside the legislative chamber.

“If the prime minister wants to speak, we will be polite,” said James. “Then we’ll ask our tough questions outside [the House].” She acknowledged it’s unlikely MLAs will get any time to ask questions.

Outside the legislature, protesters of every variety will be hoping to catch Harper’s eye.

The Victoria Chapter of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament has sent out a Facebook message calling for a flash rally.

“Has Stephen Harper lost his way to the federal parliament in Ottawa? Join us as we point him in the right direction,” it says.

The anti-proroguing group will gather at 1:30 p.m. on the legislature lawn, but others, such as environmental and anti-poverty groups, arts organizations, the Jordan River Steering Committee and Raging Grannies will be gathering about 1 p.m.

There are fears that protesters will not be allowed near the legislature, said Vicky Husband of the Jordan River Steering Committee.

“If that’s the case, we are going to parade along the waterfront,” she said.

The earliest action of the day will come from the B.C. All Chiefs Task Force, who will hold an 11 a.m. news conference on the legislature steps.

The group wants Harper to call a public inquiry into murdered and missing women in Canada. “If the prime minister wants to lecture the world about maternal and child health, he should start by looking in his own backyard,” said Penelakut First Nation Chief Lisa Shaver.