Michael Sather says his temporary suspension from the New Democrat caucus will "factor in" when he thinks about running for re-election. In an interview with Public Eye over the weekend, the first-term MLA - who was suspended after refusing support the Tsawassen First Nation Treaty in the legislature - also questioned New Democrat leader Carole James's decision to not allow a free vote on the issue.
"I think she got worried about the media perception of her about being indecisive or changing her mind. So she thought that she was going to be showing herself to be strong on this issue. But the problem is we're putting all our eggs in the treaty basket and no eggs in the ALR basket. And that doesn't work for this party," said Mr. Sather.
And he also raised concerns about the notion of caucus solidarity. "I understand fully the reasons for caucus solidarity," he stated. "Obviously, if the caucus is singing two different tunes you do leave yourself open to criticism by the media. On the other hand, I'm thinking that the people at large - our population, our citizenry - is getting fed up with the lack openness in politics in general. And certainly one of the strongest things I heard from people (before being suspended) was, 'Good for you Michael for standing up for the ALR. That's important.'"
"But, even more sigificantly, they believe by not having a free vote that it's undemocratic. So they don't understand or perhaps subscribe to the belief that everyone has to vote in a monolithic fashion. So I think that's something for politicians to take note of. You know, if you notice with the climate change issue, politicians were behind the public all over the place. And maybe they're behind the public too when it comes to openness and democracy in our political system."
That being said, Mr. Sather doesn't hold out much hope for change. "I never say impossible. But I'm certainly not holding my breath for it to happen that's for sure. It's an ingrained system. And it really is difficult to operate in another fashion. But a lot of things are difficult. Challenging global warming is difficult. But we have to come to terms with some of these issues. And I think the political system needs to be improved markedly."