MLA Report by Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald
The Fall sitting of the BC Legislature finished this past week. The government brought forward nearly 20 pieces of legislation, some were well crafted but others were very poorly thought through.
Bill 16, the Family Law Act, was an example of good law making, and I was pleased to be able to support it. In an unusually bi-partisan way, the opposition critic for the Attorney General, Leonard Krog, was included in the development of the legislation. Krog, MLA for Nanaimo, and a lawyer by profession, was given the opportunity to provide feedback before the legislation was presented to the house, and I believe that resulted in a better outcome.
This is a way to make laws effectively, using not only the expertise and experience of legislators in the government side, but also those who are elected to the opposition side.
There were also a number of bills that were simply not supportable. For instance, this government has been known for consistently putting forward bills that are essentially enabling legislation; legislation that allows a Minister to fill in the details later, without the oversight of the Legislature. When too many key questions about legislation are left unanswered, I feel that it is my responsibility to vote against the passage of the bill.
I also feel strongly that I have a duty to vote against legislation that is passed using closure, the practice of stopping debate and forcing legislation through by ending a legislative session. I was pleased to see that the government has chosen to allow debate on some bills to be carried over to the next legislative session rather than using closure as they have done in the past.
Over the last number of months, I have had the opportunity to hold the government to account on many issues using daily question period. It is a useful tool for putting pressure on government to do the right thing, and the media coverage of question period has resulted in a number of changes to government policy.
For instance, the opposition questioned the government relentlessly about the failures of Community Living BC (CLBC) to meet the needs of adults with developmental delays. If we had not been able to keep that story at the top of the nightly news, the BC Liberals would still be saying that there was nothing to worry about at CLBC.
Throughout the session I also had the opportunity to meet personally with a number of ministers about specific concerns in my constituency. Everything from land use issues, health concerns, wildlife management and transportation problems have been resolved through face-to-face discussions.
Each year my constituency office receives more than 2000 contacts from constituents and there are multiple ways that my staff and I can assist. Our role is to ensure that you are getting what you need from your provincial government.