This week Independent MLAs Vicki Huntington, John Van Dongen and I called on the leaders of BC’s major political parties to commit to a reform agenda that would go a long way to making B.C. politics more democratic and more effective after the May election.
We’ll introduce legislation this session to move the next fixed election date after May 2013 to the fall, beginning in 2017. We can’t continue to have a political budget every four years that isn’t properly scrutinized or passed into law before people go to the ballot box.
We’re also calling on the government and opposition to support our upcoming bill to ban corporate and union political donations and impose a B.C. residency requirement for individual donors. These changes would be in place for the next election.
Party leadership contests are also in need of reform, and we’re writing to the Chief Electoral Officer for advice on how Elections BC could provide oversight for leadership races. Party leaders can become premiers, so the public must have confidence that the selection process is beyond reproach. We’re also demanding the re-instatement of the secret ballot process to elect the Speaker of the House. The current practice allows the governing party to designate the Speaker, which diminishes the office’s direct accountability to all MLAs. We’ll also be introducing a motion to change the nature of legislative committees. Currently B.C.’s legislative committees rarely meet, if at all, but some simple changes will allow every MLA to have a legitimate and effective role. Finally, we’re calling on the leaders of all political parties to allow their representatives to vote in the best interests of their constituents, rather than forcing MLAs to vote along party lines. As an Independent, my votes are always free votes, and party MLAs should enjoy similar freedoms. Together these reforms represent practical and achievable steps to start reforming our legislature and restore our representative democracy. I urge you to visit my webpage at bobsimpsonmla.ca to learn more. Contact our political party leaders and ask them to support reform in BC politics.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.