The provincial New Democrat's decision to temporarily suspend MLA Michael Sather from caucus is raising larger concerns about the state of democracy in British Columbia. In an email to Public Eye, former cabinet minister Tom Perry said, "I think the NDP harms itself and its credibility with voters by insiting on uniformity. This is one reason why the Eastern European regimes failed. After all, they started out with largely good intentions."
"I think the legislature ought to have meaningful insight of important and irreversible legislation," he continued. "If (legislators) don't exercise (their right to vote), why do we need a legislature at all? Why not just use a presidential/arch-ruler system, where we vote every four years for a very limited choice and do what we are told? The approach that "father knows best (where) we are not allowed to ask questions other than, 'When do we get some more candy?' demeans the legislature, the electors who select it and guarantees that we get decisions and policies that are less good than they might be if scrutinized more carefully."
That being said, Dr. Perry says he doesn't "fault (New Democrat leader) Carole James" for the situation "nor am I critical of her overall leadership. I'm not impressed with her advisers on this issue, as the suspension by the leader of one MLA does not strike me as consistent with the style she announced in 2003 or 2005. I fault the caucus for going along with an archaic and bullying approach to differences of opinion."