End the ‘sick’ culture

MLA Bob Simpson, in his column, discusses democracy and the legislature.

It’s Democracy Week in Canada, so it’s fitting that British Columbians have been debating the premier’s decision not to recall the legislature this fall.

My blog post earlier this week was entitled “The Legislature shouldn’t be recalled until it’s reformed” to get people thinking about the changes we need to make B.C.’s legislature more effective when it does sit, rather than simply demanding we sit during October and November.

A story in the National Post this week revealed the premier’s disdain for the workings of the legislature and gave some insight as to why she may have chosen not to have a fall session. She referred to the culture of the legislature as “sick,” and said she wasn’t going back but would instead tour the province talking to “real,” ordinary voters.

I can empathize with the premier’s sentiments about how surreal it can be within the legislative precinct, and with her conclusion that the people advising her (and the NDP) all too often have a distorted view of reality that sees the world through a partisan lens. However, the premier is in the best position to lead the process of change that would reconnect what happens in B.C.’s capital to the needs of the people we’re supposed to serve. Instead of running away from this challenge, the premier should choose instead to stand and fight the battle for democratic reform she claimed she would champion when she ran for the leadership of the BC Liberal Party.

Rather than being given an opportunity to join the premier at a contrived photo-op somewhere outside Victoria, “real” voters would be better served if the premier chose to radically reform our legislative democracy and legitimize the role of every MLA in the legislature.

After all, real governance can only occur in the legislature, so the premier will have to return to that “sick” culture before the end of her term. If she’s serious about wanting a second term, she might as well try to diagnose that sickness now and start treating it immediately.

Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.

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