Giving them the finger

Your humble organ has spilled much ink reporting on the appointment of provincial Liberal supporter Louise Burgart to the electoral boundaries commission. After all, this is supposed to be a non-partisan body. But don't take our word for it. In his final report, Judge Thomas Fisher - who headed the 1988 Royal Commission on Electoral Boundaries for British Columbia - stressed that, in the future, "a successful boundary commission must be completely open and non-partisan. Only if those principles are followed will there be complete confidence in the fairness of the proposals for needed boundary changes." This statement coming from Premier Bill Vander Zalm's former personal lawyer.

That recommendation was made in the wake of the controversial 1977 electoral boundaries commission. At the time, it was alleged Vancouver-Little Mountain MLA Grace McCarthy influenced the boundaries commissioner to transfer a piece of Socred-friendly real estate (subsequently known as Gracie's Finger) from Vancouver-Point Grey to her riding. And who was that commissioner, you may wonder? Well, in addition to being a judge, Larry Eckardt unsuccessfully ran as a Socred candidate in the 1966 election.

Mr. Fisher's recommendation was acted on a year later with the introduction of the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act, which established an "independent, non-partisan Electoral Boundaries Commission to regularly review electoral boundaries so that they will continue to reflect the basic principles of fair and balanced representation for all British Columbians." By appointing Ms. Burgart to this commission, Speaker of the Legislature Bill Barisoff is corrupting the intent of that legislation. And New Democrat leader Carole James, who okayed that appointment, is fascilitating that corruption by not speaking out on this issue.

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