From the pulpit

A former electoral boundary commissioner is calling for the removal of a Liberal supporter who was recently appointed to do the same supposedly non-partisan job. In an exclusive interview, Katherine Hough, an Anglican priest, also said it was "inappropriate" for Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Bill Barisoff to have made that appointment because he received campaign donations from the new commissioner's company. Ms. Hough, who noted Mr. Barisoff was upset when her 1999 boundary commission chopped up his riding, explained "the legislation calls for a non-partisan appointment to do that work. And (the Liberals) have discovered they have erred in that. So they need to take the high road, rescind the appointment and get someone who fits the criteria...Or, better yet, (Louise Burgart) should withdraw once she realizes that this is a non-partisan appointment."

Ms. Hough, who has worked as a provincial criminal prosecutor, found it surprising Ms. Burgart wasn't screened out of the boundary commissioner selection process. The reason: when Ms. Hough was approached about becoming a commissioner, she was specifically told "that the appointment for someone who had no affiliation with any political party. And that was one of the criteria they were looking for. And I was able to...assure them of that. Whereas, it appears those were not questions that were addressed to her."

Ms. Hough added it was important for Ms. Burgart to step down to avoid any possibility or perceived possibility of gerrymandering - manipulating riding boundaries to favour one party over another. And Ms. Hough worried the appointment of Liberal campaigner to the commission would set a precedent for future partisan appointments. "You would get larger vehicles being driven through that particular hole until the term non-partisan becomes meaningless," she said.

5 Comments

Good thing that the intrepid Carole James and her caucus have beat everyone to the punch in criticizing the appointment...

Right...?

Oh yes... the only thing they'd be first for is a buffet line up...

What do the papers and radio stations in Barisoff's riding say? I'll be they don't think there's any problem here at all.

I have posted on this before as I have an aunt and uncle that retired to Keremeos. Katherine Hough is the woman who was more than happy to ignore the 37 submissions from residents pleading not to be forced into a riding that required a two drive over the Hope-Princeton when Oliver and Penticton are just over 20 minutes away.

It was Hough that screwed rural BC over and I will pass on a rare credit to Carole James for supporting a person that she knew from personal experience to be a good listener and not some appointed lawyer hack who looks down on these rural communities from her high horse in obvious ignorance.

Kevin, without suggesting for one moment that the concerns of rural areas are unimportant, I would like to remind you that redistribution of federal or provincial ridings is never entirely easy or painless. Consider that the choice of boundary lines can be pretty awkward in urban and metropolitan areas as well, in terms of what neighborhoods to put together, where the main highways and bus routes are, and so forth.

But there is a larger principle here, one of non-partisanship. Given that some hard choices must be made and that something has to give somewhere, there needs to be a guarantee that those judgement calls will at least not be motivated by some electoral considerations favouring one party or the other.

Just because you're not happy with Hough's recommendations regarding some Okanagan area seat in the last redistribution exercise, doesn't mean that those recommendations where necessarily wrong. No one seat is the issue in a redistribution, because you cannot change that seat without necessarily altering all of the surrounding ridings, and then all of the ridings next to those, and so on. It's the overall package that is ultimately the issue.

I take a differing view Budd. As I past stated would residents of Sidney tolerate being forced to travel over the Malahat just to see their MLA?. Would that even be feasible for those most in need? Let?s face facts that would never happen in an urban area.

Yet in a rural area, where there is no major public transport whatsoever, people are forced to drive several hours over a nasty chunk of Hope Princeton. For seniors like my aunt and uncle that is a drive they will not dare do, and for people with no car at all they are screwed. By drawing up this riding when both Oliver and Penticton are just 20 minutes away you essentially deprive these people of representation. I suppose for the elitist Urban folk, as long as the person who screws the rural area over is teflon clean in the political porcelain bowl all is well.

Think about how many small communities would even bother to make 37 submissions on this topic and still Hough ignored each and every one of them. Something in my books has to give. Carole James has a rural background, and from what Hollman tells us, so does this Burgart lady. James apparently knows Burgart personally and well enough to agree that she was a good person to do the job.

So until some big labor leader dictates otherwise to Carole and she has yet another sudden change of mind, I think she did the right thing here from a rural perspective.

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