We want our independents
We really need to elect a few more independents.
That is likely the only way some of the suggestions put forward this week on democratic reform will actually get passed.
Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson, Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington, and Abbotsford South MLA John Van Dongen outlined several suggestions they will be bringing forward in the Legislature this spring that, they feel, will help politicians become less political while making them more representative of, and accountable to, the people who send them there.
Their recommendations include:
• Move the fixed election date to the fall so governments don’t have to pass an “election budget.”
• Ban corporate and union donations and allow only B.C. residents to donate to political parties and candidates.
Currently the Liberals are the only holdout on banning corporate and union donations, however, both main parties go out-of-province to raise funds.
• Party leadership contests should be run by Elections BC. “The leader of any political party can become B.C.’s premier,” they say. “We need assurances that the leadership process within political parties is conducted in a transparent and democratic manner.”
• Change the existing select standing committees to permanent standing committees that meet year-round and act independently. These committees should reflect all public policy fields.
The reasoning being that legislative committees have little power and rarely meet. Empowering committees empowers the MLAs, which is why we elect them in the first place.
• Relax party discipline so that MLAs can cast free votes in the Legislature on non-confidence matters, without fear of repercussions.
A no-brainer to everyone outside the realm of party discipline.
• Enforce the existing rules for electing the speaker by secret ballot to ensure all MLAs have a vote and that the speaker’s office is a function of the Legislative Assembly, not government.
The suggestions put forward by the three independent MLAs are all great. Some might even suggest that even further measures be taken. These suggestions would be a good start.
The only problem is that it takes the political will of those in power to enact such change. The real problem with our system is that it heavily favours the party in power, and the leader of that party. Once in office there is little impetus to change the system, which is now stacked in their favour.
Electing a few more independents to government would give them some clout in the Legislature, akin to a minority government, which is when issues that don’t directly favour the party in power can be acted upon.