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Oppal: 'The Premier listens to me'

LADNER – Attorney-general Wally Oppal said Independent heavyweight Vicki Huntingon would have zero sway if elected to represent Delta South.

“The governing party makes the rules with the assent of the legislature,” he said. “There’s no possible way that any independent could have any influence on that.”

Oppal’s comments came at the first all-candidates debate in what’s set to be one of the most hotly contested races in the province. Huntington may pose a formidable challenge to the attorney-general. The five-term Delta councillor lost to BC Liberal Val Roddick by less than 1,100 votes in 2005.

“How disgusting for them to say that an elected representative of any stripe would have no influence,” Huntington said, battling jabs from Oppal and New Democratic Party challenger Dileep Athaide.

“It is a statement that shows the true colours of the opinion they have of democracy.”

The debate was supposed to be about education, but frequently went off topic as residents voiced passionate concerns. Chief among them was a controversial decision to run high voltage power lines through Tsawwassen.

Locals fought an unsuccessful court battle against the project, which they worried could be harmful to their health. The B.C. government approved the transmission lines last month and anger still simmers – possibly enough to reject a major Liberal official such as Oppal.

The attorney-general played to the sense of helplessness created by Victoria’s decision. He said Delta South residents would be privileged to have a powerful representative like himself in the B.C. Legislature.

“The premier listens to me. Other members of my cabinet listen to me,” he said. “That’s always been the case.”

Huntington countered political parties put limits on how MLAs vote in the legislature, limiting their ability to represent constituents.

“It’s a system that no longer works for the benefit of the people,” she said.

Geoff Dembicki is a staff reporter for The Tyee.

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