“There has always been, and there is now, a profound conflict of interest between the people and the government…” ~ Howard Zinn

theyworkforusOn the eve of what is most likely going to be a change in government in this province, one would think that I would be exceptionally excited about all of it. After all, I’ve spent many years researching and writing stories on the current Liberal government, holding them to account.

Sadly, over the last two years I’ve come to the realization that electoral change is desperately needed for any form of real democracy to exist in this province, and a big part of that change must come from with the parties themselves.

As we near the date of the upcoming election when voters will go to the polls to choose the candidate they believe will represent them in the legislature, I wonder: do they consider how well that person will be able to do that? Do they consider whether or not the party that candidate is a part of, truly allows each MLA a free vote?

Do they think about how they would feel if they discovered their MLA voted in favour of something that was not in the interests of their riding…because if he didn’t he might be disciplined for it? Or perhaps even worse, politically shunned and ignored, in essence persona non grata?

As I sat and watched the new documentary Whipped, by Sean Holman, where he speaks with several former MLA’s about their experiences with party discipline, at one point I actually found myself in tears. I can’t explain it. They just started rolling down my cheeks. I was just so mad, so disappointed, so disillusioned.. and I felt very bad for the many voters who were cheated of representation because of it. I wondered how those same voters would feel, watching their former MLA speak so honestly, and with remorse, about not being able to represent them the way they deserved.

It’s a fact that many political parties will discipline those MLA’s who do not vote with the party line. Sean Holman addressed this in an open letter he wrote to first time political candidates, published on the Huffington Post:

As you may have heard, MLAs belonging to both the BC NDP and the BC Liberal Party are usually required to vote the party line.

In fact, I’ve discovered, out of the 32,328 votes cast between June 2001 and April 2012, just 80 or 0.25 percent were cast by MLAs voting against their own party.

That means a party with a majority can essentially do whatever it wants in the legislature — so much so that last time a government bill was defeated was 1953, the same year Joseph Stalin died. But those numbers also suggest, as one former MLA told me, “There’s got to be times — random chance if nothing else — that some of us actually disagree with what we’re voting on.”

It’s a position, if you’re elected, you could find yourself in.

The reason that’s tolerated is MLAs are supposed to have a chance to discuss the public’s business in private before coming out with a position each has agreed to uphold. But, because of cabinet and caucus confidentiality, British Columbians really don’t know if those secret debates are actually taking place.

Your party leaders and campaign handlers, of course, would know. They might not feel comfortable talking to you about this subject. But if you come to the première of my documentary, you’ll discover such discussions sometimes don’t take place.

For example, another former MLA told me he found out about a major government decision just 45 minutes before it was announced. That decision went against the interests of his constituents. Nevertheless, he said, “I have to be there in the legislature, pounding on my desk, smiling.”

” … the decision went against the interests of his constituents.”  It makes you wonder what you were elected for when you can’t speak up without consequence for the interests of your  constituents. It is, without a doubt, a profound conflict of interest between the people and the government.

When I first wrote about the première of Whipped,it was clear by the discussion that followed in the comment section, that it’s a very contentious issue that many people in the Liberal and NDP party don’t want to talk about… or want to change. But it’s a discussion that needs to be had and this moment is the perfect time to start the dialogue, as you consider your choices at the polls. There will be many things you might consider when making your choice at the polls- this is definitely one of items I will be considering.  Solid,independent candidates are becoming an increasingly attractive choice for many voters who are tired of party politics.

Remember the HST? Those Liberal MLA’s who supported the HST – and their party – over their own constituents demands, may pay the price for towing the party line in a few short days. Would your MLA stand up for you? Would you even know it, if he or she did not?

Whipped is replete with self-reflection and regrets, and a testament to the illusion of democracy as we perceive it. When you consider that 99.75% of votes cast in the BC legislature followed the party line.. it might be time to do some self-reflection of your own right now… to avoid having your own regrets later on.

46 thoughts on ““There has always been, and there is now, a profound conflict of interest between the people and the government…” ~ Howard Zinn

  1. Hi Laila, this works both ways and people haven’t figured that out yet, What if your unwhipped MLA votes against the party policy, say on choice on abortion? What if the majority of them do and the party policy is defeated? This is especially dangerous on issues like this one (and it isn’t the only one), because people are so often motivated by their own opnion not their constituents best interests. Several Greens including Adam Olsen in Saanich North and the Islands and Elizabeth May herself have stated that party policy is pro-choice, but that they do not believe in it themselves. So what if they and others voted against the policy? You can say that they will be punished at the next election if people are upset, but in the meantime women die. You cannot guarantee that people will not have a sudden change of mind or heart and vote against the very party policy they ran on.

    What if you can’t get any work done because people are voting out of vengeance (back-stabbing a party leader or Minister they don’t like) or because they have been bought (Quebec construction payola scandal)?

    There is no perfect system only the good faith of men and women. There is no magic bullet that can make a system work better if the people who do the voting aren’t paying close attention to who they elect. Some parties/leaders use whipping to the point of total control (Harper for example) and some use it, but mostly sparingly (the NDP).

    One of the problems with the documentary Whipped is that the research is very shallow. We need to know what parties use it and HOW OFTEN (sorry I don’t know how to make bold and italics in this space) and why they used it in each instance. We need to know what the usage is like in other parliamentary democracies and how they handle controversy within their caucuses..

    This is a much more complex topic than it is shown to be in this film.


    1. You make some excellent points Sue, all of which make a compelling argument for finding,supporting and voting for more independent candidates – some balance in the legislature to keep the Libs and the NDP on their toes is exactly what this province needs in my opinion. 🙂

      I really enjoyed the documentary and found it to be quite well done. While I and many others clearly know how party internal politics work, many don’t and this is a good introduction for them. For me, hearing the former MLA’s speak,hearing their clear regrets in some cases, was the real impact.

      Here is some more data relating to the documentary on the voting records of MLAS http://partydiscipline.ca/the-data/


  2. How old are we, like “doh?”

    I’m sorry, however IF this is NEWS to anyone, I’m more SADDENED by the LACK of good faith, PERSONALLY as well.

    And it should come as NO surprise.
    All activists’ are not conspiracy nuts, “shell” a few and find out.

    Don’t STOMP on what you have NO comprehension of.
    Let alone taking it out of context, and into ‘ego.’
    NOT ‘good journalism.’

    btw ‘thanks for all the fish’ too. they where ‘past date.’ And if crocodile tears are your thing, wait till the 15th. It’s the GOVERNMENT stupid .. srsly.


  3. Sadly I do not think many believe MLA’s WILL actually represent them. I heard Brian Lilley on Battleground the other day asking, “Are MLA supposed to represent their party to us — or us to their party?”

    I challenged both him and David Akin, asking why the media seem to ignore the fact that there is a party with that as one of its main tenets — namely the BC Conservatives … as well as a number of individual candidates running for that very reason; accountability to voters..

    I know it’s NOT up to the media to promote any party over another … that said, if they (the media) ask the question, it seems to me they should be prepared to look to see if there’s an answer to it.

    Just sayin’ … because it makes sense to me.


    1. I am a fiscal conservative, a social liberal and a Greenie through and through. But a number of years ago I tried for the nomination for the Canadian Alliance. I did so because they, too, had that same plank in their platform: “the MP can vote his/her conscience first, party second.” But when I was in CA candidate school (where they teach you how to talk and act like they want you to), they said “Forget that crap! You do and say what Stockwell Day tells you to do and say.” Sadly, as much as I admire John Cummins courage and even much of what he says, I have personal experience with the party he came from. I am pretty sure we will be told to forget all that crap and do what the leader says.


    1. The simple act of ‘hiring’ or appointing a representative separates that agent from the people. It’s inherent. Don’t you wonder why anyone would hire a lawyer to plead guilty? Or even innocent, for that matter. Wazzamatter? Cat got your tongue? My point: we appoint so as to delegate. We don’t want the work. So we hire it out. We contract it out. And, like many contracts, there is a chasm between the parties on the scope of the work, the terms and conditions. And the price to be paid for it. That is the basic reason for the disconnect.


  4. Laila,
    I think this arguement about MLA’s ( or federal MP’s for that matter) being “whipped” to vote a certain way is a moot point. Its always been this way.
    The Parliamentary system would have to be changed to allow for a sitting govt( be it provincial or federal) to be defeated in one of its own bills.
    The current system demands an election if a govt fails to pass a bill it has tabled.
    So, if we dont “whip” our MLA’s or MP’s to ensure a bill “passes” then we will be calling elections every 6 to 12 months. Cant you imagine the circus that would ensue? People are sick of politicians now!
    I for one dont like the idea of an Italian style political system ( 40 leaders in 50 years!) where its a total free for all.
    Perhaps more referendums are the answer. Let the people themselves vote for contencious issues. That way the govt doesnt fall on a vote. But only after prolonged, serious debate by our MLA’s/MP’s ( can you imagine an intelligent debate for 1 month about the HST in the Provincial Legislature by eveyone involved and then a referendum BY the people?). Debates that are not funded by lobbyists for either big business or big unions
    Winston Chruchill hated referendums . He once stated if he had allowed public opinion to sway his govt., England would have been like the US at the beginning of WWII and sat on the sidelines. Hilter would have won.

    The system needs an enema, because it has been taken over by lobbyists, big money and the politically correct crowd. . Politicians try to be everything to everyone. It doesnt work. Its failing everyone and driving our province and our country to bankruptcy.
    We as taxpayers deserve better but due to our total disgust and avoidance of the current political system.
    We get what we deserve by not informing ourselves, by allowing the media to whore themselves out to the highest bidder, and most importantly of all. By not voting.

    Change the system. Hang up the whips.

    Rant over.


    1. The tradition is for the government to step down if a “confidence” bill is defeated. That leaves many many other bills that can be defeated without bring down the government. But then Harper has shown such contempt for tradition (prorogue is now a common word) so where are we now?


        1. I have general knowledge not legal knowledge so do your own research too. I understand that the difference is based on tradition where a confidence bill is one the government itself declares to be one that if the bill is defeated then they are defeated. All other bills are regular and it any of these fail to pass there is no obligation for the government to step down. By convention all bills related to revenue and spending are deemed to be “confidence” bills.
          What this means is a government could present many laws as non-confidence bills and have open votes. But, in the sad case of our Harper Government they tend to create the huge omni-bus bills that radically change our country and include them in the “budget”.


        2. “Money bills” such as tax measures or fines are confidence bills. A bill to change, say, the colour of the flag, is not a confidence matter.

          Remember “No Taxation Without Representation”. It stems from the English Bill of Rights passed in 1688 (in the calendar of the day—1689 in our adjusted calendar). Essentially the parliament of the “Commons” was created and added to the parliament of the Lords (the equivalent of the Senate) so’s to represent the commoners in a popular assembly on matters of taxes and fines since these were being levied from the commoners. The institution created to address commoner’s interests on money matters evolved to include all manner of topics. It remains in the Westminster parliamentary system, the one we adopted, that confidence of the House is required on money bills but not on other bills.

          As I understand it, the Prime Minister may deem any bill a confidence matter as a way of emphasizing its importance or of compelling his or her caucus to support it. The loss of confidence is of course an existential crisis for all members of a parliament because it most often precipitates an election, one they might not win, one they might not secure the nomination from their preferred party leader.


    2. Voting is like playing a game of darts. We are the dart board. We don’t like being hit by darts but we keep giving them back to be thrown at us again. When are we going to grab the darts and stop the game?


    3. Quite frankly I agree with most of it, but I do think change can and must happen. This discussion is all part of finding solutions that work but it’s getting the discussions started that is sometimes the hardest part of all. But the result of not having these often heated discussions is more of the same old, same old.


  5. The changes are coming, the movement is afoot. People have just plain had enough. Politicians and politics are dirty words, the mention of either is tantamount to uttering an obscenity. The BC Conservatives only have a partial answer; they talk about reforming electoral financing – that’s only part of the answer.

    The prevailing conditions in BC (in fact all) politics are such that many separate groups are forming to bring in direct democracy. There is the national NDP, with Nathan Cullen leading the charge on that matter, the federal Liberals are starting to talk about required changes. Then there is the
    Lead Now movement at http://leadnow.ca/ , the Party X effort at http://partyx.ca/ , BC First Party at http://www.bcfirst.ca/ , the Direct Democracy BC at http://ddbc.ca/ , the Refed Party at http://www.refedbc.com/ and there are probably a few more that I don’t know about. These are so prolific that they’ve got a large portion of the voting public splintered all over the place. Last summer, a well known person tried to get all these people to cooperate for 1 election but it never happened because everybody thinks that they are the only one with a good idea. They just can’t see the forest for the trees.

    We are plagued by a combination of people that just prefer to leave the driving to anybody else, and those that think they have the best way of doing things but can’t figure out that they’ll never get anywhere.
    We’re stuck with having a province that’s run by 50% (decreasing) of qualified voters actually voting.
    There’s only one way out of this morass – it’s when people are pissed-off enough to start marching with the pitch forks. It’s sad to say but we will not see changes until people are actually at the point of revolt. …And it’s coming sooner than we like to think.


    1. hmmmmm, “the voting public splintered all over the place’ …..reminds me of Italian politics. A complete fiasco.


    2. I have been reminded by a BC First Party member that:
      “…. BC First being the only political party calling (for) direct democracy to take a stand when voters go to the polls on Tuesday May 14, 2013. It’s in our principles. … BC First is a movement more so than a political party except for the fact that we can issue tax receipts anytime from only individuals, which is always what we have espoused.

      As for myself, not having a BCF candidate in my constituency, I have 4 choices; the two evils, the Marijuana Party, and a very despicable independent that I don’t like at all.
      I’ve considered not voting at all but it goes against everything I stand for. Again, I’ll have to hold my nose and vote. I guess that this time it’ll be that #@#%*&# independent. I am wishing for a better choice of independents the next time.


  6. If representing constituents truly comes first, the MLA should vote accordingly with a statement that justifies his position or if the issue is minor alternatively protest the forced vote and abstain. If discipline is applied when an MLA in good conscience counters the party whip, the issue should be aired in the house and then if the discipline is sustained the MLA should have the courage to in good faith then leave the Party and sit as an independent. Too many BC Liberal MLA’s put their own self interest ahead of their electorate and many simply endorse whatever comes along on the order paper because they really don’t give a damn about a large segment of voters who are then rendered truly powerless and vulnerable. Others are just nasty self-centered people who pander to powerful lobbies and exclude certain societal groups as unworthy of consideration. As my own Liberal MLA once told me “I can’t support people that make bad financial decisions and many of my constituents don’t want to pay for them either” – we were discussing the high rate of Child Poverty in BC – Yikes!


  7. the government has done a good job re-educating people with a fear of freedom. So many people are just willing to allow this because it “means less elections” ya sounds awesome. I would prefer my MLA to represent me 100% of the time then the party 100% of the time. One of the main reasons people don’t vote anymore is Partisan party politics. NDP/Liberal coalition against free votes be warned, the people are just starting to wake up to this, and they are PISSED OFF. We are coming for your seats. the thirst for independent voices is astounding and when people lose their fear (put in by the main line parties) of “wasting” their vote on an independent or green or conservative or other fringe party, you 2 will finally get the boot you deserve.


  8. Since when is Parliamentary rules written in stone? Can’t we change the criteria that determines what bills defeated mean an election is required. I really see only 2 votes that should bring down a government, a non-confidence vote and the budget vote. Those would be the only two to cause parliament to be dissolved, none other. That would leave the MLA’s and MP’s to vote as representatives of their constituents. Also, a list of the most contentious bills should be given to the MLS prior to the summer and Christmas breaks to allow MLA’s and MP’s to take them back to the constituents and voted on at the constituency level. The result of that vote should determine the Representatives vote in the Legislature and Parliament. That way we can have free votes without fear of causing an election and getting whipped by the party whip.


  9. Laila, stop the crocodile tears. There are more urgent, dire things happening to people right under your nose that you could do something about, but that you choose not to or refuse to do.

    Bloggers — just like their mainstream corporate media big brothers — censure and suppress stories they don’t want the pubic to know about. You’ve done it; others have done it. So please don’t cloak yourself in the mantle of “holier than thou”, weeping over the latest political talk-fad when there are fellow British Columbians who are being horribly abused by those in charge, and thoroughly ignored by those who have the ability to do something to stop it, including our two political parties, our courts and the media (bloggers like yourself included).

    Weeping over political party whipping??? If you weep at that, I could tell you stories that would probably make your heart stop beating or your mind stop functioning… if only you and the other left-leaning bloggers would listen. I’m left-leaning myself, so this isn’t an insult from a right-leaner.

    Also, your naiveté is showing. If “whipping” was stopped tomorrow, the corruption of those in positions of power and influence would still remain firmly entrenched. If Sean thought about it for a bit, he’d realize that too. But I understand he has to focus on a single, simple issue to catch people’s interest. Anything more than that, people don’t want to be bothered.

    Read some history. Pick any country. Parties are simply another power structure on the path to power and dominance. Just like the endless streams of regulatory, oversight and watchdog agencies and boards we’re drowning in here in BC, political parties are simply a vehicle for gaining and maintaining power, with the aid of complicit friends of whatever the ruling party happens to be, plunked into these lucrative appointed positions of authority. Won’t be any different under a majority NDP govt than under a majority Liberal govt. Both are run with a thuggish iron-hand behind the scenes.

    The best and most immediately available solution is to elect independent MLAs.

    Bob Simpson and Vicki Huntington are stellar examples of what we need: capable, ethical MLAs who answer only to their constituents. Don’t have any independents to vote for? Encourage and support an ethical, highly respected person in your community to run in your riding next time.


    1. Tracy, with all respect,don’t mock my emotions or reactions. Holier than thou? Wow. Take that bitter attitude somewhere else please. You have no idea of the horrific stories I have been sent by people looking for help,or coverage or just an ear. It’s absolutely horrific the abuses that are going on not only in our province and elsewhere, and I fully know that. I can’t fix everything that is wrong in this damn province. I wish I could.

      I can’t even come close to making a dent in the endless list of stories that come my way every single day.I can’t.And it would probably kill me to deal with it, because as hard as your particular stories might be I can bet you that I’ve seen many more just as bad if not worse.

      But stating that I’m not doing a story because I am trying to “cover it up” or “censor” it, or simply don’t care is absolutely the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a long time.

      What people like yourself refuse to understand is that independent writers like myself do not have exhaustive resources, $$ or legal teams. It’s physically impossible to write every single story that comes my way and it’s the same for other bloggers.It’s emotionally, physically and financially draining.

      Are you going to pay my legal bills? Pay for my expenses while I do nothing but write?Pay for the fee’s for Freedom of Information requests? Because I don’t see anyone stepping up to support writers like myself – Sean Holman tried to make it work but in the end, while people want to see the stories and the truth, they don’t back that up with reliable funding to do so. Sad fact,we all need to eat and live and this blog is done in my spare time.

      If you have a solution so that I can do this fulltime, lets hear it then shall we, instead of resorting to vitriolic attacks on my character. Otherwise you are part of the problem you are bitching about.


      1. Ooooh…..I love that stuff. Fightin’ back and all. Not debate level but still good in a primitive kind of way. The politically correct professional rarely let’s her rip. So good on ya. But you should also know that I (and I am pretty sure most) did not give Tracy any cred. Your readers can see the ‘nastiness’ of his/her cynical response. As much as I appreciate the humanity and the honesty of your backlash, you really didn’t need to. Not this time, anyway. Still, stay plucky!


        1. I think sometimes, yes, it does need to be done.I’m always very happy to hear from readers and critics alike, but often I get stories that can’t be told for one of a variety of reasons, whether its a privacy issue,an evidence or liability issue,or quite simply,its too expensive to do the FOI’s or too extensive of a story to be done well with only one person. Unfortunately when I tell people I cant do the story, often this kind of thing is the result. It’s good to realize the vast majority of bloggers or writers are not independently wealthy with investments etc… but working hard to make ends meet, or retired or whatever. It does limit what we can do sometimes.


        2. Just to be clear: I agree with Tracy’s message re the ‘system’. I just don’t agree that he or she attacking one of the few (you) trying to do anything about it is reasonable or constructive. I think that a legislature made up of independents would coalesce around good ideas and deals and partnerships would be formed and reformed. Tracy ain’t all bad – just lashing out blindly and indiscriminately, it seems.


  10. We should remember that if a reformed parliament means a pro-rep one, then we’ll see more whips and more whips used more often because with pro-rep you increase the number of parties elected, increasing the likelihood of a hung parliament, increasing the likelihood of losing a confidence vote.

    Pro-rep does not make parliament more representative if by “representative” you mean more “free votes”, less whipping and strict, “mirror” representation without compromise.

    The idea that pro-rep parliaments would be more co-operative makes no sense. The smaller, more numerous parties that pro-rep ostensibly celebrates are, after all, narrower of interest and less compromising within each party. It puzzles me why or how such parties would become more co-operative, more compromising in parliament when they do not cultivate these talents within their own group.


    1. It shouldn’t puzzle you. Self interest seems to prevail most of the time. But with independents or numerous small parties, the interests become more diverse. Harper’s anti-everything, non-economic Draconian-type thinking and acting would not fly. And few, if any, would agree to uber-Draconian omnibus bills. So what if law-making takes more time? I think we would still see quick moves in the event of real threats or disasters and much slow (if any) moves when it comes to pork-barreling. To me, that would be a good thing.


  11. I agree with Ron S., and I’d like to explain why. I attended the all-candidates debate in my community, and the last question from the audience was, “If elected, will you vote on a legislative bill according to your party’s wishes, your own conscience, or the wishes of your constituents?”

    It was obviously a question none of the candidates were comfortable with…….except the one independent, who immediately responded by stating that he would vote according to his constituents’ wishes. The others tried to tap-dance around the question with the usual political bafflegab.

    That debate almost became a vote-changer for me because of the answers to that one question. In the end, I voted the way I had decided before the debate, because the answer I wanted to hear, the one where a candidate would have said, “I would vote according to my constituents’ wishes if I had a chance to poll them before the particular vote.” didn’t materialize.


      1. In a riding where there is bound to be conflicting opinions on different issues (legalization of marijuana, for instance), how does the MLA decide which of his constituents to side with unless he has time to poll them somehow?


        1. Even tho I would hope that the MLA puts his/her constituents first, we are also voting for a good person. We are trusting them to do the right thing. They have to be able to be free of strings and chains so that they can do it. We have elections in case they don’t. And we pay them a helluva lot ot do the research. It is a tough job if they are allowed to do it, easy if they are told what to do.


  12. First off, an excellent article, I can wish I would have been able to watch that video, and I still do want to see it. I completely relate to what you are saying about becoming a shipwreck of emotions when you see just how bacterized our democracy has become.

    When on the one hand you see what goes on in the Legislature, and when you see its consequences in the streets. I agree we need to work together to find change, but it does not always mean change will be perfect, so we need to refine it, one step at a time.

    On the topic of independents, there is as much that I do like, as I also fear. Can you imagine how much money will be spent in BC’s North, when a house full of independents, mostly from the lower mainland vote on how the money will be spent, or who will pay the bills of the province?

    The party system has the best checks and balances against regional abuse, it’s bad enough that the East (Canada) mils the west, just as they do in the USA. Why would people in the north feel like they counted when they will be grossly outnumbered in a house of independents?

    As I said a bit back, we need to collaborate to get the junk out of politics, and make it work for the people.


  13. Really enjoy your commenatry, when I was on the Citizen Assembly for Electoral Reform the public made it loud and clear what they wanted to see, this wouldn’t have been the cure for all ills but definetly a step in the right direction, if the NDP want to truly be “different” make electoral change happen, to push it aside is a step in the “same old same old” direction…


  14. I think the premise of “Whipped” and your reaction somewhat places the focus in the wrong place. How one votes should be a reflection of a process. In one example, the elected politicians are dictated to by the party boss (reflected by the Stephen Harper model of government). That, I would agree, is problematic; however, it does not have to be that way. Think of a model where the government caucus works to achieve consensus on an issue before moving to the stage of taking a vote. Having achieved consensus through a reasonable and agreed upon process I then believe that it is appropriate to insist that the elected officials vote according to the consensus.

    I have spent some considerable time speaking to some current NDP caucus members and some NDP candidates. What I am impressed by is the way they try to work together through consensus. The current NDP platform is a good example, far from being dictated by the leader, the platform was achieved through a process that sought input from those both inside and outside the NDP caucus. This was not, I am told, a simple process and therefore required a commitment of time and energy. It would be much simpler to have the leader, possibly with some assistance, to simply create a platform for all to follow.

    I am impressed and hopeful that a new NDP government can change the way that they operate; however, if you only examine voting patterns it may not reveal the truth behind the process. It is said that to see democracy only as the act of voting is to miss the point, true democracy has to be a process that requires our ongoing participation. I am ever hopeful that a new government will make change for the better, as their campaign slogan promises.


  15. More pro-rep voting systems is always a good thing. And, I really like the Swiss systems of citizen initiated referendums; in other words, if there is a law or bill we don’t like, we should be able to table a referendum on it, in which we have the power to veto it. Or, if there’s a bill we would like to introduce, then the politicians should be forced to vote on it, given we collect enough signatures. More power to the people. Bigger cages, longer chains!


  16. I was surprised but not shocked when the NDP lost the election. As I told friends before the election I did not have great hopes for the NDP if elected. Two of the NDP MLA’s I supported most, Michael Sather and Guy Gentner, chose not to run again rather than being “whipped”. Corky Evans had left earlier. As a former NDP MLA I joined Michael Sather in the legislature when he was suspended from caucus when he voted against taking 318 acres out of the ALR for Gateway port expansion at Roberts Bank under the guise of treaty negotiations. After 35 years of protecting Delta farmland that vote broke the back of the Agricultural Land Reserve. It lead to the loss of 240 acres to the South Fraser Perimiter Road and, if the port has its way, an additional 2,600 acres of farmland for port expansion. On election day both Sathers’ and Gentners’ ridings went Liberal. It was the NDP that was “whipped”.

    Incidentally, Dave Barrett had a different attitude when I was MLA. I voted against the government three times. When asked by the press if he was approving “free votes” Barrett replied. “In the NDP every vote is a free vote.” How times change.


    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful commentary Harold,I am a very big admirer of yours.In fact last weekend I took the kids for a walk out at Deltaport along the dyke and it’s appalling what is going on there… and even moreso because of the stories I’ve done, Debbie has done on the land optioning going on out there on that farmland.Much of it has already been filled over and concrete, waste material is on top of it.Actually makes my heart hurt to see it.

      One can hope this election was a wake up call to the members in the party who I suggest make their unhappiness known and do not back down.It is not the leader nor the executive that drive the heart of a party, it is the people.


      1. Probably not, Laila. They will merely choose a sheeple style MLA. An MLA who will want to grab the golden pension and networking contacts. The days of Harold and many like him fighting for and protecting the future seemed to be gone because most citizens don’t want to back them up.


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