Fall sitting could have done good work

Accountability to the electorate is only part of the reason why the legislature sits.

Premier Christy Clark’s comments about the so-called sick culture of Victoria have been rightly criticized.

I take Ms. Clark at her word that she wasn’t referring to area residents, but to a sometime insular political culture in our capital. No one disagrees politicians must get out of the legislature to talk to their constituents.

But surely constituency work is complemented by the important business of the legislature. Especially when, as under the Liberals, it convenes for just seven weeks. The need to get out of Victoria is no excuse for calling off the fall session, particularly by Ms. Clark who during her leadership campaign promised more open, accountable government.

Accountability to the electorate is only part of the reason why the legislature sits. As the name of the place implies, it is also to pass important laws that further the public interest.

Consider the recent sawmill explosions killing several workers, causing hundreds of millions in property damage and crippling local economies. It appears the Workmen’s Compensation Board did not follow up on inspections revealing dangerous levels of dust, despite smaller, possibly dust-related explosions at facilities throughout B.C. Also, the provincial Office of the Fire Commissioner made recommendations in 2009 to strengthen the monitoring and enforcement of fire safety in industrial facilities — recommendations ignored by this government.

Given the history of tragic events, legislation on this issue that likely would have been supported by all MLAs should have been a priority for the fall session, now cancelled by Ms. Clark.

Some believe, partly due to the occasional bad behavior of MLAs, that nothing important happens in the legislature.

The last person who should be promoting this superficial stereotype is the Premier of our province.

Gary Holman, provincial NDP candidate, Saanich North and the Islands

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