Huntington gives election date bill second attempt

Private member’s bill will require approval from majority to become law

Independent MLA Vicki Huntington

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington may be the only independent representative left in the legislature but her goal of election reform hasn’t changed.

Huntington reintroduced legislation Wednesday (July 3) that would move B.C.’s fixed election date to the fall so as to prevent the budget process from being influenced by the election cycle.

“Every four years, British Columbia goes into an election without passing the budget for the coming fiscal year,” said Huntington as she introduced her bill in the legislature. “There is a temptation to use the budget for partisan campaign purposes.”

As a result, Huntington said there can be significant changes between pre-election and post-election budgets.

“I am proposing a practical change to B.C.’s fixed election date that would prevent the budget from being misused and disrupted every four years as an electioneering tool,” said Huntington in a following press release.

Huntington’s proposal comes as B.C.’s legislators are set to debate the 2014 budget, which she said is a resurrection of the budget introduced last fall but wasn’t subjected to legislative oversight because of the May election.

The Fall Fixed Election Amendment Act was previously introduced by former independent MLA Bob Simpson as part of a six-piece democratic reform agenda issued by Huntington, Simpson and independent MLA John van Dongen last February. The bill died—as all private member bills do—when the 2013 election was called.

Although Simpson and van Dongen are no longer MLAs, Huntington has said she will continue with democratic reform.

“This is one problem with an easy solution,” said Huntington. “Moving the election date to the fall would ensure our budgets receive the debate and oversight they need.”

A private member’s bill can be issued by any sitting member of the legislature, but unlike a government bill it cannot pass into law without the support of a majority of members, which is currently held by the governing BC Liberal Party.

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