Monday April 16, 2012

2012 By-Election

Seven-Up

O'Mahony and Martin respond to Integrity BC's non-partisan questions

Released by Dermod Travis, Integrity BC

 

wo weeks ago, Integrity BC sent out a set of seven questions to local riding candidates and we are pleased that Gwen O'Mahony and John Martin took the time out of their busy schedules to respond. Thanks to Integrity BC for posing the questions and for their interest in the Chilliwack-Hope by-election.

Gwen O'Mahony, NDP

1. As one possible way to address public cynicism towards politicians, how would you conduct yourself differently from former MLA Barry Penner?

I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Penner, for the office he held, and the work he did for his constituents.

Just as Iíve been on the doorstep since before this campaign began, if I am elected I will be accessible to my constituents after the election is over, to listen to their concerns and their ideas for solutions to the problems we face.

And I will work hard to make change in Chilliwack-Hope and across BC. Iíll work to make life more affordable, to improve health care in our community, and to address the crisis in our court system. Like Adrian Dix, I want to get solutions that cross party lines and I don't believe we have seen nearly enough of that from this government.

2. Do you believe that a broader range of political voices should be heard in the legislature and, if so, what proposals would you put forward to reform BC's electoral system?

In past few years we have had two referendums on electoral reform and the Citizens Assembly process that was part of that. In the end, the referendums were not successful. (We advocated for including the Mixed Member proportional representation system on the ballot).  

Despite the defeat of the referendums, we in the NDP would be willing as government to continue to dialogue with organizations and individuals on this topic. While we do not believe this a really high priority for most citizens at this time, so soon after the recent referendums, we certainly would not close the door on the topic if we were to form the next government.

3. Do you have any specific ideas for enhancing public engagement in policy development? Would the processes you imagine using be open to, respectful of and responsive to citizens who do not support your political views and/or party?

We can see from the falling voter turnout in BC and across Canada that fewer and fewer people are engaged in our political system, particularly young voters. And I believe part of that stems from cynicism about whether one personís input can have any effect on what eventually happens in the Legislature. I want to show people and especially young people, that an individual's input can affect change. As MLA I want to motive people's input to help me make change.

Currently, our MLAs are doing a lot of public meetings and tours on topics such as forestry, seniors, and skills training and I support that effort to get out of Victoria and encourage direct public input.

4. Do you support legislative amendments to prohibit both corporate and union funding of B.C. political parties and financial contributions from contributors located or residing outside B.C.? Would you support capping individual contributions and, if so, what do you propose the individual limit should be?

BC New Democrats have long supported Ė and continue to support Ė campaign finance reform, which would ensure that only individuals are able to donate to political parties. We believe this is fundamental to building trust and confidence in our political system and institutions.

In addition to prohibiting organizations from donating, private members bills introduced by the NDP Caucus have called for a public review, led by the Chief Electoral Officer, to examine the campaign finance system and make further recommendations on issues such as limits on donations.

5. Attached is a copy of the 2010 Report of the Local Government Elections Task Force. Do you support implementing the recommendations contained in this report? Notwithstanding the task force's silence on the issue, would you support additional amendments to prohibit both corporate and union funding of local candidates and financial contributions from contributors located or residing outside B.C.?

Yes, the BC NDP supports the implementation of the recommendations in the report which improve campaign finance rules and increase transparency. We are disappointed that the BC Liberal government has delayed acting on this and are waiting to see whether legislation to enact the recommendations will be introduced in this spring session of the Legislature.

As you know, we strongly support campaign finance reform at the provincial level that only allows individuals to contribute to political parties. Some local governments, such as the City of Vancouver, have expressed their support for this reform at the local level. We look forward to having a conversation with them, and other local governments, about how we can move this idea forward.

6. How would you propose to address the public's ongoing concerns and suspicions over events leading to the sale of BC Rail?

The sale of BC Rail by the BC Liberal government remains one of the most critical breaches of trust in the history of BC politics.

BC New Democrats have long called for a public inquiry into the sale of BC Rail to ensure the public learns the full truth of what happened in the BC Rail scandal.  If we are elected, that inquiry will be launched. We will also continue to press the BC Liberal government on why they paid $6 million in legal fees for two of their political staffers who pled guilty to several charges.

7. B.C.'s Auditor General was recently forced to file a lawsuit against the B.C. government to to gain access to government records related to the BC Rail case. What changes do you propose to improve public access to and reporting under B.C.'s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act?

The BC Liberals have a poor record when it comes to making government records and information accessible to journalists, the opposition, and the public.

BC New Democrats are committed to restoring a high standard for public access to information and as government we will require faster turn-around on Freedom-of-Information requests.

We have proposed several specific reforms to improve the governmentís response to FOI requests, including shortening response times, returning the definition of "day" to its ordinary meaning, and addressing the excessive fees that have been levied by the BC Liberal government in order to make information more readily available to the public. We are also concerned about the BC Liberal government improperly using exemptions to restrict access to information and will implement recommendations of the all-party legislative committee to fix this.

We have also supported expanding the scope of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to include information from quasi-public bodies in order to preserve public access to information concerning bodies that are performing governmental functions.


John Martin, BC Conservative Party

1. As one possible way to address public cynicism towards politicians, how would you conduct yourself differently from former MLA Barry Penner?

No matter who the predecessor was, we have specific messages for the public that they are voting for when they vote for John Martin - scrapping the carbon tax, stopping the Liberal garbage incinerator, and fixing the "catch and release" justice system.  People that vote for us know they will be taking those three messages to Victoria.

2. Do you believe that a broader range of political voices should be heard in the legislature and, if so, what proposals would you put forward to reform BC's electoral system?

It is the voters that decide which political voice they want to represent them.  Whether they choose a range of voices or not is ultimately up to them.  As small "c" conservatives, we support competition, not just in the market place, but also in the political arena and welcome a diversity of perspectives for voters to choose from.

3. Do you have any specific ideas for enhancing public engagement in policy development? Would the processes you imagine using be open to, respectful of and responsive to citizens who do not support your political views and/or party?

In Chilliwack-Hope, we have listened to the constituents and their feedback has formed part of our message during this by-election campaign.  We are respectful of those that do not agree with us, but we let the voters decide for themselves who they want to represent themselves.

4. Do you support legislative amendments to prohibit both corporate and union funding of B.C. political parties and financial contributions from contributors located or residing outside B.C.? Would you support capping individual contributions and, if so, what do you propose the individual limit should be?

We support prohibiting political donations from unions and corporations.  We have not yet made a decision on the other question regarding individual donation limits.

5. Attached is a copy of the 2010 Report of the Local Government Elections Task Force. Do you support implementing the recommendations contained in this report? Notwithstanding the task force's silence on the issue, would you support additional amendments to prohibit both corporate and union funding of local candidates and financial contributions from contributors located or residing outside B.C.?

We have no comment on the Local Government Elections Task Force Report.  Provincial / local government relations are something that our party will be addressing during the general election.

6. How would you propose to address the public's ongoing concerns and suspicions over events leading to the sale of BC Rail?

We would want to call an inquiry on the BC Rail sale and more importantly, determine why $6 million was paid for the legal fees of two people that pled guilty (Basi and Virk) to criminal charges on the matter.

7. B.C.'s Auditor General was recently forced to file a lawsuit against the B.C. government to to gain access to government records related to the BC Rail case. What changes do you propose to improve public access to and reporting under B.C.'s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act?

Specific measures relating to transparency and accountability will be addressed during the general election.

 

 

For more information, visit: www.integritybc.ca

 

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