MLA Q+A: Vicki Huntington

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MLA Q+A is a new feature by BC Vote. Five questions will be presented to each of the 85 MLAs in the British Columbia Legislature. Three of these questions will be identical and two will be directed to the MLA and the issues in their riding. This week, we speak to Vicki Huntington, independent MLA for Delta South.

What inspires Vicki Huntington?

I am inspired by the beauty of the surrounding area. We are blessed with the beauty of the mountains, the magnificence of the ocean and the fertile farmlands of the Fraser River delta. This area is truly a jewel and I can understand why people travel here from all over the world, just to see what we are able to enjoy every day.

What are three things you love about Delta South?

1.) The people of Delta South – this community is blessed with more than its share of passionate, caring and involved citizens. On many occasions, in the past few years, people have responded to the trials and issues of our community (and there have been many – the Power lines, the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR), Port expansion, Ladner harbour dredging) by stepping up and working together to propose solutions that we can live with. I am grateful for this passion and this dedication as my successful election is a testament to people not settling for the status quo when they believe that there is a better way.

2.) Delta South is the part of the Pacific Flyway, where every year millions of birds visit on their Northern and Southern migrations. A field covered in snow geese, a blue heron perched by the road side, or a majestic eagle flying from its nest high in our cedars – these are common sites. We are fortunate to have Burns Bog, OWL and Reifel Bird Sanctuary contributing to the preservation of these amazing birds.

3.) The diversity of the community – Delta is made up of several distinct communities: the vital and exciting towns of Tsawwassen and Ladner, the farming community, the fishing community, and Tilbury Industrial park. Ladner is a lovely historic town with a history of fishing and farming. The small harbour which gives way to the Fraser River, is home to active fisherman. Surrounding Ladner on all sides, are acres of fertile farmland – fields of corn, potatoes, cabbage, beans, strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries; green houses filled with cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers; and ranches of dairy cows, llamas and sheep. Tsawwassen is a vital, exciting community that sits on the US border and at the entrance to the Lower Mainland via the Ferries. Tilbury is a productive and high growth industrial park, bordering the Fraser River. We have something here for everyone!

If you could change one thing about the way democracy functions in British Columbia what would it be?

I believe that there are actually three broken elements in our way of doing politics here in BC. One is the centralization of power and influence and the resulting failure to respond to and respect the people; a second is the manner in which the legislature does its business; and the third is the structure of the party system itself. I think that all three need to be dealt with if we are to hope for a change in the way our government works.

The first one, however, is the area where democracy has surely lost its grip. The real power in BC has been in the cabinet and in the Premier’s office. The majority of MLA’s cannot really represent their constituency if the views of the constituency are out of line with the government’s position. We saw this clearly illustrated with the HST movement. In a democracy, we have not only the right to express our opinions but also the right to disagree. It is no longer a democracy if our voice is not heard.

You’re an independent MLA. Critics would argue that an independent MLA has no ability to serve constituents and is unable to influence affairs in the Legislature. How would you respond to those critics?

I have heard this criticism and I must say it is proving to be untrue. Many government backbenchers may be well-meaning, but they are unwilling to step outside their party structure. What they are told is what they believe. They toe the party line. In some ways I am more effective in representing my riding, even though I don’t have the power to move mountains. I can ask the tough questions and raise issues on behalf of my constituents – and still keep to my principals. I’m in office today because the B.C. government failed to listen to the people of Delta South on some very significant issues.

Your father Ron Huntington was elected to the Canadian House of Commons three times as a Progressive Conservative, in 1974, 1979, and 1980, representing the electoral district of Capilano. In 1979, he served as minister of state for small business in the government of Joe Clark. Do politics run in your family?

You could say that. I admired my father a great deal. He was a member of Canada’s Parliament for 10 years and represented the people of North Vancouver diligently and passionately. That dedication and his hard work definitely inspired me to pursue my career.

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