Axe meets the grinder?

Earlier, we quoted electoral boundary commissioner Louise Burgart as saying that Speaker of the Legislature Bill Barisoff appointed her to that position, in part, because she "could represent rural British Columbia." Malaspina University College political science professor Allan Warnke blasted that rationale on Public Eye Radio saying, "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." But the fact Mr. Barisoff wanted a rural representative on the commission shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows how to search Hansard.

Back when he was an Opposition member, Mr. Barisoff expressed dissatisfaction over the way rural constituencies were treated by the last boundaries commission which "chopped up" his riding - even going so far as to vote against its recommendations. Speaking in the legislature in June 1999, Mr. Barisoff grumbled, "We have to look at a different (electoral boundary) process that allows the rural people of British Columbia to be represented in a fair manner."

And, during the same speech, the then Okanagan-Boundary MLA also complained the borders of his riding were changed despite the fact 37 out of the 38 submissions to the commission from his constituency opposed any alteration. The only one in favour - according to Mr. Barisoff - was from Gary Gattrel "president of the Okanagan-Boundary NDP constituency (association) and the executive member of the NDP for the central interior of the Okanagan."


Hey, at least NDP constituencies are allowed in the Okanagan now. Seriously, Bill has a point, and wait until you see the dog's breakfast that STV map is going to create in the rural areas. Nobody cares about them any more.

I have strong ties to Keremeos and I can tell you that Barisoff has good reason to stand up for rural British Columbia. Keremeos, Cawston and Olalla are all just over 20 minutes drive from Penticton and most every resident does this commute daily. Despite this fact, and as Holman?s research correctly points out, 37 submissions were made to the former electoral boundaries commission pleading to stay within the easy to access Penticton riding. Despite this, the former electoral boundary commission completely ignored all 37 submissions and said screw you to this area and attached them to Merritt anyways.

In doing so they ensured that rural residents in this region were forced into one of the worst two hours drives in British Columbia. Either backtracking from Hope or back roading from Princeton into Merritt, either way a crappy and dangerous drive. I wonder how residents of Sidney would feel if they were forced to have to travel the Malahat into Nanaimo for political representation whenever the need arose.

I dont know Louise Burgart from a hole in the ground, however someone who is willing to listen and not ignore people like the last group did is good news in my books. Hats off to Carole James for having enough common sense to recognize and support the same thing.

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