Submitted. British Columbia’s three Independents seeking re-election say that they can offer more effective representation to voters than MLAs who are “whipped” and muzzled by political parties. John van Dongen (Abbotsford South), Vicki Huntington (Delta South), and Bob Simpson (Cariboo North) fielded questions during a Twitter town hall on Tuesday about their role in BC’s democracy and their stance on provincial issues using the hashtag #indies4bc.
“One question we get all the time is, ‘what can an Independent do?’” said van Dongen. “Having served in opposition, as a government backbencher, and as a cabinet minister, I can say firsthand that Independent MLAs are in a unique position to work effectively with all parties, including the government and opposition. In my experience, backbench MLAs have the most limited role in the Legislature.”
The Independent candidates all point to an increased ability to represent their constituents both inside and outside the Legislature because they don’t have to toe the party line. “Bureaucrats are willing to sit with us because our motives are not in question,” said Huntington. “Independents are accountable only to their constituents, and everyone knows that’s the case.”
Huntington says voters across BC have lost faith in party politics, and people in her riding are looking for someone that can speak out on issues ranging from interprovincial discrimination against BC businesses to industrial speculation on local ALR farmland. “When government won’t listen, the only way you can effect change is to publicly demand action,” she said, “something no backbencher is permitted to do.” “We’re able to provide better local representation,” said Simpson, “and we have the luxury to pursue provincial issues where both major parties are silent or not acting in the public interest.”
Simpson referenced his work on the Pacific Carbon Trust and his ability to force the Liberal government to vote against its own tenure reform legislation as examples of how Independents can be highly effective parliamentarians. Simpson said he’s been approached by both government and opposition members asking him to raise issues in the House because their parties won’t give them the same freedom.
“Party politicians are very limited in the representation they can offer,” said van Dongen. “It takes an Independent to ask the tough questions and hold the parties to account.” “We’re proud to offer voters an effective alternative this May,” said Huntington.
“Independent candidates have the potential to fundamentally change our representative democracy for the better.”