Last night, on Public Eye Radio, Malaspina University College political science professor Allan Warnke declared that recently appointed electoral boundary commissioner Louise Burgart's partisan background (specifically the letter she wrote to the Prince George Citizen praising the Campbell administration) "really should eliminate her as a prospect for serving on the commission. Because the commission has to be perceived as being non-partisan. And, if anyone wants to say we've had commissioners before who've had their connections to the government...I'd say, 'Yeah, but we're trying to get away from that" and have been since 1999.
Prof. Warnke also warned Ms. Burgart wouldn't just be responsible for recommending changes to British Columbia's constituencies. She wouild also be immediately involved in the hiring of those staffing (and, therefore, advising) the commission. And the former legislator is also worried Ms. Burgart's presence could make it easier for party loyalists to be appointed to the commission in the future. For example, if former cabinet minister Christy Clark got the nod next time, "people may raise a stink about it. But it could be said, 'Well, no. Actually a partisan was selected in the last commission. Therefore, what's wrong with selecting a partisan in this particular commission.' That's the problem," said Prof. Warnke.
But it's not the only one. In an interview with your humble organ, Ms. Burgart said one of the reasons Speaker of the Legislature Bill Barisoff appointed her was because she could "represent rural British Columbia." And that statement concerns Prof. Warnke. "She has to have a perspective of the province as a whole - taking into account all population and regions. She is not to be an advocate. Her role is not to be an advocate. So when she makes a statement like that, that bothers me a little bit too because it tells me she does not understand specifically her role."