EDITORIAL: 85 seats enough

The decision by both Liberal and NDP MLAs to accept an 85-member provincial legislature is understandable, but it should be the last time the house grows.

Instead, what is needed is new provincial law that will allow for ridings to have smaller populations when they take in some of the vast remote areas of B.C.

We don’t need 85 MLAs in the legislature. The MLAs who really count are those in cabinet, or those in prominent opposition critic roles. Other MLAs, while hard-working and sincere representatives of their constituents, simply show up and vote the way they are told to. That’s the way parliamentary democracy works under the party system.

The legislature is being enlarged by six members because neither party wants to eliminate rural seats. They are correct in their perspective – people outside the Lower Mainland, southern Vancouver Island and the Okanagan have less clout in Victoria, simply because those are the three areas of the province that are growing.

Yet people in Prince George, Cranbrook, Terrace and Fort St. John need to be properly represented. The fact that they live a long way from Victoria doesn’t make it any easier for them – and provincial laws and regulations often have a more pronounced impact on their lives than they do in urban areas.

Court rulings have forced recent electoral boundary redistribution efforts to try and make each riding roughly equal in population. This is patently absurd when ridings that take up to one-sixth of the province are deemed too small (in population). It is obvious that a riding that size is more than enough for an MLA to handle.

The government needs to bring in legislation that will allow smaller population counts in the largest and most remote ridings. Very few B.C. residents who truly understand the vastness of this province will object, even if a few lawyers and do-gooders try to challenge such a law.

However, let’s try and limit the legislature to 85 MLAs. That’s more than enough.

– Langley Times (Black Press)

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