No longer a member of the Liberals’ Victoria inner circle and expelled from the caucus, independent MLA Paul Nettleton says his voice on northern issues during the next legislative session will be louder than ever before.
“I’ll be focusing on certain issues, in particular transportation issues,” said Nettleton, as he settled into his new office in the legislature on Monday. “The transportation issues, and those things that are unique to northern and rural B.C., those are the issues my constituents are most concerned about.”
Nettleton was expelled from caucus in November when he criticized what he saw as the Liberals’ move to sell out BC Hydro. But he sees the expulsion not as an impediment. For Nettleton, this is a time of opportunity, when he can speak openly and honestly without party politics getting in the way. And he’s looking forward to having his say.
“For the first time in several years as an MLA, I am really excited about this session,” said Nettleton. “The government-issue duct tape has been peeled from my mouth. I will be able to speak openly and freely for the benefit of constituents, northern residents and the many British Columbians that favour a much more compassionate, thoughtful and planned way of governing.”
Instead of forging ahead with cuts, Nettleton wants to see that all service or program cuts are considered on their full impact, including how they will affect the people in northern B.C. For some legislature members, Nettleton says the prospect of cutting is a task almost enjoyed, rather than one that is dreaded.
“I remember hearing from one member Give me the red meat – cut deeper, be harder, faster. Let’s be aggressive and tough. Well I find that kind of talk objectionable.”
A kinder, gentler Liberal government, one that weighed the effects of service and program cuts on people, is the kind of government Nettleton wants to see operating in Victoria.
But they won’t be there long. Nettleton says he’s very disappointed in the tentative calendar proposed for the legislature. With 11, four-day weeks scheduled for this next session, Nettleton says the session could be finished by the end of May. In summer’s past, Nettleton said the session easily ran through July before dismissal. For the independent MLA, the speedy session schedule does not indicate a thorough approach to governing.