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andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

When the BC Legislature’s Aboriginal Affairs Committee last met in 2003 for three minutes and it’s Education Committee last met in 2005 for a total of 12 minutes you know things have to change.

Yesterday, Vicki Huntington, Independent MLA for Delta South and I submitted a letter to the House Leaders of both the BC Liberals and the BCNDP calling for a renewed dialogue on how we can meaningfully improve the committee system in BC. This letter followed up on previous commitments from the government to begin a discussion on this topic.

A properly functioning committee can play an important role of scrutiny and oversight and provide a valuable role for backbench MLAs. Too often legislation is brought  forward without the time taken to gather input from MLAs and the wider public. One simple way we can ensure that our politicians are receiving the best possible information on the issues of greatest concern to British Columbians is through a reformed committee process.

There is hope that this conversation may amount to more than just words. Both the NDP House Leader and the Premier have expressed an interest in the previous fall sitting for a dialogue about reforming how our committee system operates.

The lack of committees was recently highlighted when the Official Opposition formed its own Opposition Standing Committee on Agriculture and Food, in absence of one actually sitting in the legislature. Vicki Huntington will act as the vice chair for this opposition led committee.

I think this highlights how broken the system is. We need to see a more collaborative and less confrontational approach to governance in British Columbia.

Please see below for MLA Huntington and my letter to the House Leaders.


February 5, 2015

Dear Minister de Jong and Mr. Farnworth:

Re: Meeting on committee reform

We are writing to arrange a meeting between the House Leaders and Independent MLAs to discuss mutually agreeable opportunities for committee reform. Due to scheduling difficulties we were unable to arrange such a meeting during the fall, but we are hopeful that the spring session will afford us with an opportunity to work together to improve our legislative committee system.

For your records, we have outlined a brief timeline of last year’s events relating to committee reform, and attached the relevant documents and transcripts:

  • February 3, 2014: The Member from Delta South writes to the House Leaders to outline proposals for committee reform and suggest the House work together to find agreeable improvements.
  • February 27, 2014: The Member from Juan de Fuca introduces the Standing Committee Reform Act, 2014.
  • May 29, 2014: During estimates debate, the Member from Delta South asks the Premier to refer the issue of committee reform to the Parliamentary Reform committee. The Premier says she will consider the request in consultation with the House Leaders.
  • June 13, 2014: The Member from Delta South writes to the Premier to follow up on her estimates request.
  • July 30, 2014: The Premier says she has asked the Government House Leader to canvass the opposition “for input on areas for potential reform.”
  • October 17, 2014: The Member from Delta South writes to the Government House Leader regarding a potential agenda for a meeting with the House Leaders and the Member from Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

We believe that all Members would like to improve our committee system. While we understand that the immediate interest of the House Leaders is on changing the estimates process, we urge consideration and discussion of the broader issue. We look forward to working with you both on this issue when the House resumes.

Sincerely,

Andrew Weaver, MLA
Oak Bay – Gordon Head

Vicki Huntington, MLA
Delta South

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