Protecting the integrity of democracy in British Columbia

Feb 24, 2022 | 42-3, Blog, Governance, Legislature, Statement, Video | 0 comments

Over the last few sessions it has been increasingly apparent that the BC NDP government is serving their own partisan interests rather than the people we all represent! 150 years ago the colonial government of British Columbia tried to join Canada without a responsible government. The Canadian government wouldn’t allow it. It is because the tools of accountability of our democratically elected governments must be protected and it is the job of the Members of the opposition to use those tools or they are eroded and undermined.

[Transcript]

One hundred and fifty-one years ago, a delegation from British Columbia went to Ottawa to negotiate the terms of our province joining Canada. A few years earlier, Amor De Cosmos created the Confederation League. A key goal was to join Canada and to establish, in our province, responsible government, meaning where the cabinet or the executive is responsible to the people through an elected assembly.

While the form of representative government existed in the colonies, the greatest opponents to the efforts of the Confederation League came from powerful, unelected members of the colonial government. They debated the idea of Confederation and, ignoring opposition, decided to attempt to join Canada without responsible government. The federal government disagreed. Instead, they insisted that we have responsible government here in this province and enticed the B.C. delegation with pensions for those unelected members who would lose their jobs.

One hundred and fifty-one years later, we must be mindful that our responsibility is to British Columbians. When question period becomes little more than theatre and second reading debates are a performance, questions go unanswered at committee stage, bills are designed to give regulatory powers to ministries and ministers to fill in the blanks behind closed doors, time allocation limits the democratic duty for deep inquiry, private members’ motions are never voted on, private members’ bills languish on the order papers with no debate, standing committees have no members and recommendations on committee reports collect dust, we, in this House, must demand better.

The power plays in this chamber do little to serve the constituents who elect us to this democratic institution. They are indeed as self-serving and self-indulgent as our colonial predecessors were. A responsible government respects the processes and protocols of this institution. When this assembly abuses power, undermining and eroding the dignity and integrity of this democratic institution, we find ourselves in a very dangerous spot.

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