An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE B.C. LEGISLATURE went back to work Monday, albeit in somewhat truncated form, with some members being present in Victoria and others joining in from their homes.
Other than one interruption of a few minutes, it went swimmingly from a technology perspective. There were no other obvious hiccups, with MLAs who were participating remotely able to vote along with those present in the chamber with no problem.
Likewise, debate took place as it would have with a full physical presence. Even without the normal level of heckling, Question Period was the usual delightfully confrontational circus.
Much of the grilling had to do with the government’s response to COVID-19, with Premier John Horgan displaying his usual short fuse when under pressure from the opposition, who blasted away at what they called “inaction” on the COVID-19 file.
Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar was there, sporting a Trudeau-like stubble, demanding answers from the premier on layoff limits. After one attempt at answering Milobar resulted in a stubborn supplementary question, Horgan threw up his hands in frustration — figuratively speaking, at least — and said if Milobar didn’t like the answer he could ask a different question.
Opinions might vary on how productive the day was, but that’s a common question even in normal times. Given the technological success of the proceedings, however, one must ask whether this should become a regular thing even after the pandemic.
Meeting in person is obviously the ideal way to do the public’s business but the Legislature is an expensive way of doing it due to the distance its members must travel, racking up handsome expenses for food and accommodation, not to mention gasoline and airfare.
If, say, half its daily sittings were done with half the MLAs physically present and half at home, and the other half of the sittings done with all members in the Ledge, the savings would be substantial without encumbering effectiveness.
Let’s call it the half-and-half formula. Something to think about from the Armchair Mayor.Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.