I have always been a regular voter, but I used to be an apathetic one. Somehow I felt that from a regular citizen’s perspective, it never really mattered who sat as my MLA.
Around 2007 a friend convinced me to get involved in the Cariboo North NDP riding association. As the riding association president, I quickly became aware of the chokehold that the leader’s office and internal party leaders have on the voice (or lack thereof) that
our MLAs bring to Victoria.
I watched as our then-NDP MLA, Bob Simpson, was directed on how to vote, told which functions he could (or could not) attend, and instructed on what issues he was allowed to speak about with the media. The lack of freedom to represent his constituents and raise issues in the media and the house was stressful and frustrating for Bob and two sentences of criticism of the leadership got him kicked out of the party.
Since then I have seen Bob hold the government’s feet to the fire on issues like the Pacific Carbon Trust, forest policy reform and fracking, long before the opposition has taken a position on the subject.
I don’t have issues with either of the party candidates, but I speak from experience when I say that the only candidate that will have an unfettered voice and a free vote in the legislature is the Independent candidate, Bob Simpson.