Rules for Government
All political parties promise accountability, responsibility and transparency. After each election, these promises appear conspicuous only by their absence. The question that should be asked is: What actions by government would illustrate that these promises will be followed?
The BC Refederation Party, commonly known as BC Refed, is laying out a set of sensible rules for its own candidates and for all governments to implement.
More important, BC Refed is committed to political change that will prevent other governments from returning to old habits without the consent of the electorate.
Upon the election of a BC Refed MLA, the MLA will have agreed to be bound to these BC Refederation Party rules.
Upon the election of a BC Refed government, the first action taken on the first day the legislature is open and available, will be a bill containing the following rules for debate and implementation for all governments of British Columbia.
A BC Refed government will move immediately to implement the following three principles of democracy which will hold government accountable to the vote of the majority of voting citizens of BC.
1. BC Refed will present a bill to amend Bill 1, An Act to Ensure the Supremacy of Parliament, Read which is introduced prior to each Throne Speech. This BC Refed bill will give the supremacy of the BC legislature to the Majority of British Columbia Citizens.
This Act has its roots in the 1600’s when the general public would not have had broad knowledge about either the Crown or parliament. Today, education and accessibility to communication are readily available to the general public. The public is at least somewhat informed through non-government publications and other technological communication, as well as advocacy and freedom of speech.
It is now time for the public to engage in political debate and take responsibility for how we are governed.
2. BC Refed will present a bill for a new Referendum Act which will be more workable, effective, and binding on the government. Read current Referendum Act.
3. BC Refed will present a bill which will allow free votes in the legislature on any motion, amendment, or bill placed before it. The vote will pass or defeat the motion, but will not risk the fall of the government.
Each MLA will vote his/her conscience while considering the wishes of the majority of voters in the respective electoral district the MLA represents.
If the voters feel the views and wishes of the majority have not been respected, or that the proposed legislation is not in the best interest of the citizens of the electoral district or the province, a workable, effective, and binding referendum can be initiated.
Establishing Rules for the Sitting of the Legislature
In 2013,the BC Legislature sat thirty-six (36) days.
In 2014, the BC Legislature is scheduled to sit for seventy-one (71) days. See Parliamentary Calendar.
The legislature is scheduled to sit in six of the twelve months of 2014.Of these six months, five months will have a one-week break during the sitting session. This means that MLAs, who are out of commuting distance between their homes and the legislature in Victoria will incur additional and unnecessary travel expenses during these weekly breaks. See here for information on travel expenses.
BC Refed MLAs will work to have all future governments eliminate deliberate and wasteful scheduling for the legislature.
A BC Refed government will schedule the legislature for maximum efficiency for the benefit of BC citizens at the least expense to taxpayers.
Duties of the Legislature
In 2014, the BC Legislature is scheduled to be closed for four (4) consecutive months. BC Refed considers this unacceptable.
A BC Refed government will seek to establish a minimum number of days the legislature is required to sit in each year.
BC Refed recommends the legislature be in session a minimum of one hundred twenty (120) days in each calendar year. This would include at least one week in each of January and December.
The BC legislature can be closed only two consecutive months in the year during the months of July and August.
MLAs will be required to be present at all sessions of the legislature.
Limits of the Legislature
A BC Refed government will limit its activity to presenting and debating bills intended for the benefit of all British Columbia residents.
If, in the view of the public, a bill and/or its content is not in the best interest of the majority of British Columbians, the government can choose to recall the bill or submit it to referendum.
A BC Refed government will limit the right of the legislature to introduce or pass any bill without full disclosure to the public and a full debate in the legislature except in cases of extreme emergencies.
A BC Refed government will introduce a bill to effectively disallow the use of orders-In-council except in the case of an emergency which requires immediate mitigation by the government at a time when the legislature is not in session. In such circumstances, the measure will be introduced at the first possible sitting, or it will contain an end-of-use date as the emergency requires.
A BC Refed government will establish an independent body whose duty will be to limit the government’s ability to establish pay rates, travel expenses, living allowances and any other money paid to government personnel. The group will review and recommend alternatives to establish financial responsibility to the taxpayers.
Duties of MLAs
MLAs are elected to represent the will of their constituents. An MLA who wishes to change parties or become an Independent is free to do so. However, if the MLA wishes to continue sitting in the legislature as an independent, or wishes to join another party, he/she must have majority support of the electoral district through the by-election process.
All MLAs must be in the legislature when it is in session.
MLAs must request approval for absence from the legislature.
Yet to be established are conditions under which MLAs may be excused from the legislature.
Responsibility of MLAs
All MLAs and government personnel will be held responsible for their conduct, work ethic and all activity within a portfolio.
An example of responsibility in the social services department might include the death of a child in care. The minister assigned would bear responsibility for any findings of neglect to investigate, or neglect to act upon previous warning of trouble, etc.
An example of responsibility in the healthcare department might include the death of a patient who was not properly cared for or released without regard for the person’s ability to independently survive and/or be safe.
An example of responsibility in the forestry department might include the neglect of logging companies to replant logged areas, the stability of infrastructure or removal of same, management of potential slide areas etc.
An example of responsibility in the department of the environment might include oil spills, the regulation and/or failure of vessels or pipelines, contamination of waterways by neglect or lack of regulation and/or inspections.
MLAs and other government staff may be held responsible for negligence or failure to serve. Parliamentary privilege may be denied. See Parliamentary Privilege.
Responsibility of Government
The BC government will be held responsible for protection of natural resources from contamination, pillage and excessive exploitation.
The BC government will be held responsible for identifying risks to fauna and flora throughout the province.
The BC government will be held responsible for identification and protection of agricultural land and aquacultural waters.
The BC government will be held responsible for the construction of roads, bridges, ferries, etc. and maintenance of same for the needs and use of BC residents and visitors.
A BC Refed government will establish an independent body whose sole responsibility will be to record and store all functions, meetings and correspondence for future reference.
All minutes, documents, records, and evidence belonging to or generated by government will remain complete and in their original state and stored for future reference.
Changes to legislation can only be made after full disclosure and debate open to the public.
Changes to legislation for the purpose of protection of persons or property can only be made after full disclosure and debate open to the public.
Full disclosure will be required when government expends legal support to any public servant. If, under the penalty for an offence, the public servant is found guilty, the government will proceed to recover the expense of support.