Today marks the end of the third day that MLAs have debated a motion to support the changes to electoral boundaries proposed by the British Columbia Electoral Boundaries Commission. As I discussed in an earlier post, approval of this motion is a necessary step on the path towards enabling the recommendations of the Commission through legislation. Every single MLA has spoken in favour of supporting the recommendations, so at some point, one has to ask oneself why are we spending so much time debating this?
It’s pretty clear to me that the government has no agenda following the monumental collapse of their reckless venture into LNG. We’ve spent several days discussing the introduction of Red Tape Reduction Day; we’ve debated, what I’ve termed, the Comma and Spellchecker Act; we’ve debated a motion regarding the merits of the Site C dam project almost a year after the government decided to proceed with it, and we’ve even been offered a bizarre motion to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership despite the fact that the text has yet to be released publicly.
Of course, there have been a few bills that have received unanimous support in the house and so have passed quickly through the legislature during this fall session. These include: Property Taxation (Exemptions) Statutes Amendment Act, 2015; Family Maintenance Enforcement Amendment Act, 2015; Motion Picture Amendment Act, 2015; Auditor General for Local Government Amendment Act, 2015; Franchises Act, 2015. But the reality is, we are now just filling the time.
I understand why the official opposition feels the need to speak to the electoral boundaries commission motion at such great length. The government needs to be held to account for their actions and Question Period provides the official opposition a chance to probe some of the Liberal shenanigans, the latest of which concerns the culture of cover-up exposed by the Office of Information and Privacy Commission. If the debates end, there will be no more Question Periods. Nevertheless, surely we could be debating more substantive issues?
Today I took my place in the speaking order to support the opposition by speaking extensively to the electoral boundary motion. However, I took the opportunity to offer British Columbians a few ideas of what we should be debating instead of what we are debating. Below are the snippets of the video and text of my speech where I addressed these ideas.
We’re talking about the electoral process, the foundation of our democracy. We’re talking about jigging boundaries. We all support this.
But what we’re not talking about are the issues that matter to the people in our electoral boundaries. I did not get a single e-mail from any constituent at any time over any aspect of this report. My constituents did not care.
Now, I recognize it’s a much more important issue for other jurisdictions, perhaps rural areas where there are rather large changes in the area. But my constituents said nothing. I didn’t get a phone call. I didn’t get an e-mail. I didn’t get a “hey, stop” in the grocery store. “What do you think about the electoral boundary? It’s really important to us to discuss that shift from Foul Bay to Richmond. This is an issue that keeps us awake at night.”
No, what they wanted to talk about is why this government promised 100,000 jobs, a $100 billion prosperity fund, a $1 trillion hit to the GDP. They wanted to know where this so-called Petronas deal…. They wanted to know why this government is not standing up and apologizing to British Columbians for misleading them — yes, hon. Speaker, misleading them — in the lead up to the last election with promises of an LNG industry that was nothing but a pipedream.
That is what the constituents wanted to talk about, not this electoral boundary issue.
There were many other things that they raised, which I could discuss here. I recognize that the Minister of Health is trying to keep me on the motion. But this is relevant to the motion, because the boundaries that we are discussing — the boundaries here today, in this riding — are changing.
We will spend four days — we’ve spent three so far — discussing this. And each and every one of us has agreed to this.
We haven’t discussed the failed attempts of this government to deliver on its promises. We’ve discussed this resolution here. We haven’t discussed the desperate attempt of the government to try to rebrand itself now as the party of small business. No, we’re discussing the boundaries here of the electoral ridings around the province of British Columbia. We haven’t discussed the issue of education and underfunding of education. No.
We’ve discussed shifting Foul Bay to Richmond.