04/14/2015 04:11 EDT | Updated 06/22/2015 01:59 EDT

Recall petitions for 2 Liberal MLAs approved for signature collection

Two recall petitions targeting Liberal MLAs have been approved in principle by Elections B.C., clearing the way for organizers to start collecting signatures.

One recall petition targeting Liberal MLA for Burnaby North Richard Lee was submitted by resident Loren Letourneau because she felt Lee was not representing the needs of the community.

"I believe in a political system where the will and needs of a large group of people are represented in government by an elected official. In this, I feel RTL [Richard T. Lee] has failed," she wrote in her application.

"Our hospital is under-funded and overdue for seismic upgrading. He has been silent on the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion proposal, other than to echo Victoria's talking points. And he has continued, since 2001, to be paid for the privilege of being our voice in the legislature."

Maple Ridge MLA also targeted

The second recall petition targeting Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton was filed by resident Yvonne Hale.

Hale said she filed the petition after Dalton announced his plans to sit as an independent while running for nomination as the federal Conservative candidate.

"It is my feeling that Mr. Dalton has turned his back on his constituents, while seeking to achieve his own self-interest and agenda of gaining a federal position. Mr. Dalton should resign his MLA position if he wishes to run federally," wrote Hale in the application.

"He should also spend his time working for his constituents instead of for his career as a politician. We have many issues that he does not seem to bother to tackle. Some examples are our under-funded, short-staffed hospital, our closed youth centre, sinking homes and so many more."

60 days to collect signatures

Elections B.C. Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer says the petition and registered canvassers will have 60 days, starting Wednesday, April 15, to collect more than 40 per cent of valid signatures from eligible voters.

At least 16,494 signatures will be required to recall Lee and at least 15,410 signatures will be needed to recall Dalton.

If, when the petition is returned to the officer, enough signatures have been collected and all requirements are met, the recall petition is verified, the recalled member's seat becomes vacant and a byelection must be called within 90 days.

The recalled member can run as a candidate in the byelection.

The Chief Electoral Officer has approved 24 recall petitions since the Recall and Initiative Act came into force in 1995, but only six of those petitions were returned to Elections B.C. for verification.

Of the six, five did not have enough valid signatures and one — for the MLA for Parksville-Qualicum Paul Reitsma— was halted during the verification process because Reitsma resigned.

In Canada, the recall process is unique to B.C. – no other province or territory has a system in place for removing elected representatives from office between elections.