Councillors as MLAs

The Tri-City News November 27 editorial “Political ambition beats commitment in Coquitlam” harshly criticizes Coquitlam Councillors Linda Reimer and Selina Robinson for their stated intentions to run in the forthcoming provincial general election — alleging opportunism, and abandonment of the citizens who elected them to their current offices.

For many, dare I say most, municipalities in BC, councillor roles are part-time; poorly paid for the hours required, but still, part time.  People, by and large, do not do this for the money, and councillors often have regular jobs as well to pay the bills.  Yet, I hear no complaint nor outrage that this implies some categorical deficiency or bad faith in their commitment or dedication to their elected roles. Why so with MLAs?

The law does not require mayors or councillors to step down in order to be MLAs;  there’s nothing cast in stone that they cannot finish out their terms, or even stand again while MLAs.  Having said that, depending upon what their new roles, if elected, finally entail, there might be inordinate scheduling or other conflicts that prevail upon them to step down as councillors, again — exactly as for any other job.

I can find no fault with this.  We should, rather, all thank Ms Reimer and Ms Robinson, and indeed those many others, for their service, and their commitment and dedication already demonstrated, and not revile or rebuke them for their willingness to leverage their experience and take on more.

The underlying thesis here, however, is that no-one should stand for an elected office while they hold another one.  It’s an impractical, excessive, standard, particularly given how municipal, provincial, and federal general and by-election cycles overlap.

It is not at all reasonable, nor in the public interest, to ask someone who has something to offer to sit it out from one role on the off chance that something else might turn-up, or that they might secure a nomination for some different role somewhere down the road.  We already have too few people willing to step in, subject themselves to churlish and unfair criticism of this kind, and pour their souls into their jobs for us.

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