Last week, the BC Liberal government brought to second reading the bill entitled Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, 2014. This proposed legislation, spearheaded by East Kootenay MLA and Minister of Energy and Mines and CORE Review Bill Bennett, will change the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act ensuring there will be no loss of rural seats in the East and West Kootenays, Columbia River Revelstoke, Nelson/Creston, the Cariboo-Thompson and the North.
The Electoral Boundaries Act requires that every second election a Commission is set up to assess provincial electoral boundaries and this typically results in the loss of rural constituencies. The last Commission in 2006 stated there would be no way to avoid the loss of rural seats in 2014 unless the Act is changed and in response to this and with the intent of protecting B.C. rural interests, the BC Liberals have made this a priority on the legislative slate. Without this change, the Commission will be in a position to create constituencies that are impossible for an MLA to represent and could lead to what MLA Bennett called a “tyranny of the majority,” meaning political decisions for the province will be centered in the urban areas, completely ignoring the needs and the values of those of us living in rural B.C. As an example, combining the two Peace Country ridings will result in a riding the size of France represented by one MLA. Make any sense to you? I am thinking not!
Yet the NDP are speaking against this important Bill and this decision is nothing short of a betrayal of rural voters. How the NDP can even consider not supporting this legislation is mind boggling when they know that it means our rural communities will have less representation in Victoria? Equally concerning is the fact that nowhere in the Hansard records does it have Columbia River-Revelstoke NDP MLA Norm Macdonald standing to defend the rights of his own rural constituents. In fact, Mr. Macdonald stated that, “even at the most superficial level, this legislation is ridiculous.”
Driven by the passion and commitment of not only BC Liberal rural MLAs but those from urban centres, rural British Columbians can rest easy knowing the BC Liberal majority will pass this legislation that will prevent the loss of 17 rural seats and will prevent the addition of anymore than the existing 85 seats in the B.C. Legislature.
In the end, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Macdonald has the courage to break from NDP party line and fight for the democratic rights of his rural Columbia River-Revelstoke constituents by voting for this bill. We will soon know.
Fairmont Hot Springs