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EDITORIAL – Maybe working from home should be permanent for Legislature

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 mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7843 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Maybe working from home should be permanent for Legislature

  1. John Noakes // June 23, 2020 at 6:23 AM // Reply

    It might be time for Pete and others like him to cool things a bit and pay a bit more attention to Dr. Henry and the bigger picture she is trying to paint.
    Dr. Henry must be able to compare what we have in BC and a lot of other places in the world because of the Covid-19 pandemic. She knew going into this, and the decisions she has made, there would be a lot of hardship for people, a lot of sacrifice and huge life changes. It beats overwhelming our medical system. It beats digging mass graves.
    I wasn’t sure how to feel about Mr. Dix as he stepped into the situation of dealing with the pandemic. He has shown a lot of personal strength by parking his ego and following the lead of Dr. Henry. In a similar way, Mr. Horgan has also shown a level of leadership by ‘giving up’ something of the traditional role shown by Premiers in the past.
    In short, the best outcome from this mess is going to be seen if politicians in Victoria grow up.
    Some of us get tired of hearing from people like Mr. Milobar who think they are going to make some political mileage from the present situation through their bombastic personality.

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