Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MLA Norm Letnick. Photo: Capital News files

Liberal MLA questions B.C.’s new rural political party

Proportional representation may draw out more fringe political parties

An Okanagan MLA is drawing a connection between a new provincial political party geared to rural voters being unveiled last week and the pending referendum on proportional representation.

Norm Letnick, Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country, says while he welcomes the new Rural B.C. Party into the political fray, he questions what another party brings to the debate that the more than 20 existing political entities don’t already cover.

“I think if proportional representation passes, you will see many more parties like this start up and we believe that is going to reduce local representation for constituents. You won’t be electing an MLA, but rather one will be appointed for your area,” Letnick said.

“Compared to current first to the post system, that reduces the current level of accountability. Depending on what form of proportional representation might potentially be adopted, you end up with an MLA you didn’t even vote for by a majority in your area.”

Letnick said while he waits to see the B.C. Rural Party’s policy platform outlined in greater detail, he noted that both the party’s leader, Houston municipal councillor Jonathan Van Barneveld, and executive core team member Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen, currently on medical leave from his civic duties, have provincial NDP connections.

Letnick pointed out Van Barneveld is a past president of the NDP provincial youth wing of the party, while Regen was an active supporter of Premier John Horgan’s election campaign.

“I’m not sure what that says, but if they are disgruntled with the NDP, I would encourage them to join the Liberals,” Letnick said.

Related: New B.C. party looks to represent rural voters

The B.C. Rural Party advocates for greater economic diversification opportunities for smaller rural communities in B.C. and reduce a reliance on mounting infrastructure debts.

The party gained official electoral status in February and hopes to field candidates in 23 ridings including Vernon-Monashee and Boundary-Similkameen within the Okanagan in the next provincial election. All their candidates would run in constituencies outside the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria regions.

Letnick doesn’t see rural B.C. taxpayers losing out to the interests of the higher populated areas of B.C. because their MLAs must strive to bring economic and cultural benefits to their constituencies.

“If they don’t do that, voters have the opportunity to give the job to someone else. When you are elected, you are the representative for all constituents in your riding, not just the people who voted for you.”

Enderby Mayor Greg McCune said he’s not sure how the B.C. Rural Party would benefit his community.

“I have not really heard much about them,” said McCune, contacted at this week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler.

“You can analyze the urban-rural split to death, but key for me is that our provincial representation is from our area and not someone appointed from another area who we don’t know.”

Like Letnick, he too made the connection of a new party as perhaps a sign of things to come should the proportional representation referendum pass.

“I think when it comes to taxpayer dollars being spent, a lot of the taxes they pay in the Lower Mainland end up contributing to transportation and other infrastructure projects that benefit our rural communities, so there is a give and take there in where the influence lies.”

Get ready for B.C. electoral reform referendum

Elections BC is encouraging eligible voters to get ready for the 2018 referendum on electoral reform by registering to vote or updating their voter information.

“If your voter information is current, you will get a referendum voting package in the mail this fall,” said Anton Boegman, BC Chief Electoral Officer.

Voters can register or update their voter information online at www.elections.bc.ca/ovr or by calling 1-800-661-8683 on Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Between now and the end of September, a Referendum Information Card will be mailed to every household in the province to raise awareness of the referendum. Referendum voting packages will be distributed between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2.

For more information, visit www.elections.bc.ca/referendum.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Born and raised Revelstokian launching an NGO to help children in Kenya

Deanne Berarducci has been volunteering abroad since 2012

Liam’s Lowdown: it’s the little things that get you

At first, the name of my column was going to be Liam’s Lament

Despite brief shut downs Revelstoke’s Downie Timber weathering the storm

The forestry industry is taking a hit across the province

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Aug. 21

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Aug. 21

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

Man shot near Coalmont airlifted to hospital

A man was shot near Coalmont B.C. Saturday afternoon. The victim was… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Renter of torched Okanagan home a British Army veteran, new Canadian

Owen Wilson was just beginning to settle into life in Canada when the blaze occurred

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Most Read