I have to admit I had fun during this short session — even though I thought it was unproductive overall. I felt that as an Independent I was able to rise above the partisan fray, get lots done for my constituents, and propose public policy that would make a difference in B.C.
Under the new premier, ministers appear to have more freedom to manage their portfolios and seem more interested in learning about ways to address real issues.
I also worked closely with Opposition critics on both estimates and legislation debates, allowing me to make substantive proposals that were generally well received by both the ministers and critics. Some of these proposals related to the Pacific Carbon Trust, seniors care, predator control, placer mining, water management in the Peace region, and the softwood-lumber dispute with the U.S.
The changes I proposed to the Pacific Carbon Trust would immediately benefit the public sector, and the finance minister committed to following up with me on this once the Trust submits its annual report to his office.
I wrote to the premier and the leader of the Opposition asking them to show leadership on the bio-economy so B.C. doesn’t miss out on a golden opportunity to re-invigorate its forest economy. The premier indicated she was interested in pursuing it further.
Vicki Huntington, the other sitting Independent, and I called on the premier to strike a special committee of the legislature to investigate the use of hydraulic fracturing (fraccing) in B.C. Twenty-one organizations and individuals supported us on this call.
I proposed three Private Members bills. One proposed that the fixed election date should be switched from May to October every four years. The second that candidates and political parties should report their donations during an election so voters can see who is funding candidates and political parties before they cast their ballot. The third proposed that only registered B.C. voters would be eligible to donate to political parties and candidates to a maximum of $1,000 per year. I also have to admit, I was a little tired at the end of the session.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.