Protecting rural constituents

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says she always stands up for the people in her riding and rural British Columbians.

I always stand up for the people of the Cariboo-Chilcotin and rural British Columbians. The government brought forward Bill 2 — known as the Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, 2014, so I am standing firm in support for the protection of our rural northern B.C. constituencies.

That is my job as your MLA; however when rural New Democrat opposition MLAs decide to put the interests of their party leadership above the interests of rural British Columbians, it disappoints me. More than ever, rural British Columbians need to be heard and need a stronger voice in the Legislature.

While many critics say that our voice counts more than in big cities, that is simply not true. Consider the fact that in Vancouver-West End the MLA could walk from one end of the constituency to the other in approximately thirty minutes. In Delta-South, it would only take a half hour drive to visit a constituent.

Therefore, if the opposition wishes were granted to take the steps to significantly diminish the number of seats in rural and northern B.C., your voice will surely not count as much as theirs. It already takes hours to visit some towns and settlements in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. If our riding was to be larger merging our constituency with Cariboo North and Nechako Lakes it would take days, at least.

When it comes to local issues such as the issues surrounding the New Prosperity Project, I was right there standing up for you. If the constituency was significantly larger, the issue might not have received the attention it deserved.

Also consider without this special protection we would see the vast majority of MLAs come from Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, Victoria, and Kelowna; while rural B.C. no matter how our regions would vote, we would always be in a minority status.

You can count on me to fight for the protection of our rural constituencies so that we are building a stronger rural B.C.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.