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Disgusted public will elect independent MLAs: Huntington

It is a good time in British Columbia to be an independent political candidate, says Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington.

“In the political culture today they can sure get elected,” said Huntington, who was the only MLA to run as an independent in the 2009 election and win. “The people are disgusted with the system.”

She made the comment Dec. 8 as Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson announced his intention to remain an independent and to run as one in the next provincial election. He said he's made that decision even though NDP leader Carole James, who kicked him out of the NDP caucus, has said she's quitting.

Voters elect politicians to represent them in Victoria, but the party system often subverts that promise, said Huntington. “It places the party before the public.”

Changing how politics work in B.C. would require doing things to give individual MLAs more input, such as through committees that are taken more seriously than they now are, she said. “You may as well not go to those committee meetings,” she said. “This system will only change with the leaders' commitments on both sides of the fence.”

Simpson called on all MLAs to support changing the voting system, banning union and corporate political donations, capping individual donations and getting MLAs involved in making laws.

“Voter turnout has been steadily declining, people who are voting state they are unhappy with the limited choices they’re offered,” he said. “Mistrust and cynicism toward politicians runs deep and too many people are simply not engaging in their democracy as a result. Based on my experience in party politics, I’ve concluded that the party system itself is to blame for much of this unhappiness and lack of participation.”

In the 2009 B.C. election, just over 50 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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