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Legislature is a 'sideshow' to real governing: retiring MLA Chudnovsky

On the final day of the legislative session earlier this week, both Liberal deputy premier Shirley Bond and NDP leader Carole James thanked retiring MLAs, but at least one departing MLA was dubious about what the house accomplishes.

“Thank you for your commitment to the people of British Columbia,” said James speaking in the legislature.

And as Bond put it, “We want to extend our thanks for all of the hard work that MLAs do every single day and especially to thank the members who have served so well and have now chosen to move on to another path in their life. On behalf of the government, thank you and good luck as you move on.”

Bond called serving the province in the legislature an “incredible honour”.

On his final day in the house, Vancouver-Kensington MLA David Chudnovsky was skeptical about that honour. “I thought that what happened in the legislative chamber itself should be both meaningful and have attached to it some level of ethics,” he said speaking in the hallway. “They think they can get away with not answering completely legitimate questions, and the thought that maybe they can is horrifying.”

The legislature is a sideshow and the “real governing” happens elsewhere with the premier and his aides making all the decisions, he said. “Maybe I'm just an old softy and a naive kind of guy, but I expect, and I think the people who elect us all expect, that this kind of silliness, this kind of disrespect, contempt for the democratic process isn't going to happen, and yet it does.”

The farce is a big part of why he's leaving, he said, adding he'll continue his political work outside the house. “I've been an activist here for 45 years. I'm not going to stop now.”

On the Liberal side, those who are not returning include Claude Richmond, Sindi Hawkins, Rick Thorpe, Olga Illich, Val Roddick and Dan Jarvis. Carole Taylor, Richard Neufeld and Lorne Mayencourt also left within the last year, and Stan Hagen died in January.

Among the NDP, Chudnovsky, Corky Evans, David Cubberley and Chuck Puchmayr have said they won't run, and Gregor Robertson left to become mayor of Vancouver in October.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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