02/06/2013 06:51 EST | Updated 04/08/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C.'s Independent MLAs Seek Legislature Changes


Three of B.C.'s four independent MLAs are proposing a number of changes they say could make the legislature more open and accountable.

Vicki Huntington, Bob Simpson and John van Dongen say they will propose changing the fixed provincial election date from May to October starting in 2017.

The MLAs say moving the election to the fall would allow the provincial budget to be fully audited before politicians use the numbers in their campaigns. Budgets are currently brought down in February or March.

Among their other proposed innovations, the group wants to eliminate union and corporate political donations.

“It's no secret that people feel that [these donations] leave government and opposition open to widespread criticism of influence from corporate and union bodies,” Huntington said.

She said 60 per cent of the 2011 B.C. Liberal Party operating budget is from corporate donations while more than 20 per cent of the B.C. NDP’s budget comes from union donations.

Power to backbenchers

The independents also are recommending giving Elections B.C. oversight over party leadership votes and providing bigger roles for backbench MLAs.

Simpson said those members not in cabinet are relegated to being mere political operatives for their party.

He said their role is reduced to "table-pounding, heckling in question period, giving partisan speeches on bills and then having to adhere to whipped votes on legislation that they didn't have any input into."

The legislature’s fourth independent MLA, John Slater, who recently resigned from the Liberals, has not joined his fellow non-aligned MLAs because he is not running again.

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