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VIEW: Change the fixed election date for 2017, indie MLAs plea

[Editor's note: The Tyee received this open letter to B.C. MLAs signed by independent MLAs Vicki Huntington, Bob Simpson and John van Donge, and we offer it for your consideration. During the election season, we'll post various perspectives as we receive them on The Tyee's Election Hook, labelled clearly as "VIEW."]

March 6, 2013

An open letter to all BC MLAs,

Time is running short to make a meaningful change in this legislative session that will address some of the public's cynicism, as well as our own, about pre-election budgets. Together, let's change the fixed election date to the fall, beginning in 2017.

In addition to feeding public cynicism, not passing the budget every fourth year means government and government-dependent agencies do not get spending authorization or know what their real budgets are until late summer. This type of financial uncertainty is indefensible, and it does not meet the public's need for us to provide stable government every year.

We've proposed the first Tuesday of October as the new date for the 2017 election, which is the fairest way to make this change. Historically, governments were elected to a mandate of no more than five years. In order to facilitate four-year fixed-terms with fall elections, a four-and-a-half year mandate for the next government is both reasonable and fair.

We owe it to British Columbians to address this issue. We all know the change needs to happen, so let's put partisanship aside and make the change now, in advance of the May election. This is the fairest time to change future election dates, because it negates any criticism that the date is being moved by the governing party for selfish reasons.

We respectfully ask you to lobby your leadership to change the fixed election date law in this session by bringing the issue up in your caucus and asserting your right as MLAs to shape the agenda of the legislature. With the agreement of both parties and the Independents, by leave of the House we can quickly pass through all three readings of the bill and make the date change in no time at all.

Let's do the right thing and make this necessary change so we can assure British Columbians that after the May 14 election their government will always operate on a budget that has met the test of Opposition scrutiny and a vote in the legislature.


Vicki, Bob, and John

P.S.: Please read John Ibbitson's Globe and Mail article, "MPs, want to be relevant again? Be courageous." His comments are applicable to our role as MLAs.

Vicki Huntington is the MLA for Delta South. Bob Simpson is the MLA for Cariboo North. John van Dongen is the MLA for Abbotsford South.

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