As first reported by The Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer, expelled provincial New Democrat Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson "has decided to formally register as an Independent member of the legislature." That will happen today. In an email sent out last night to supporters - and obtained by Public Eye - Mr. Simpson explained, "My experience with party politics has not been a positive or productive one. An experience, unfortunately, that is shared by the majority of British Columbians who either do not vote, or who feel they have to hold their nose when they vote."
"With Carole's resignation, some have asked me to remain within the NDP and join those who will be using this as an opportunity to renew the party," he continued. "These thoughtful and well intentioned requests have caused to me reflect again on my decision to sit as an Independent and to re-confirm that decision."
However, "I believe that directing my energies toward the internal fight within the NDP is the not best and most productive way to serve my constituents or to drive a public call for true democratic reform leading to good governance."
The following is an edited copy of that email.
I've been pondering this decision for some time and it is with regret that I inform you I will be resigning from the NDP and will sit as a true Independent in the BC Legislature.
My regret does not come from my decision, but because I know how much all of you have supported me as your NDP candidate and MLA and how my decision will hurt some of you. You stood with me throughout the turmoil created by my ejection from Caucus and I know some of you were hopeful that now Carole has resigned I would stay with the NDP.
However, my experience with party politics has not been a positive or productive one. An experience, unfortunately, that is shared by the majority of British Columbians who either do not vote, or who feel they have to hold their nose when they vote.
Political parties were meant to be organizing tools, not ends in themselves. They were meant to allow like-minded people to come together to organize for elections and then work together in the Legislature with all of the other elected members to provide good government.
Today, the prospects of the "Party" overshadow the needs of the electorate. Petty partisanship and one-upmanship create a cycle of perpetual electioneering which prevents our Legislature from being used to address the critical issues we are confronted with as a species and a society. Scandals and rumours of scandals are the fodder of Question Period, not issues of substance. Debate in the House has become an exercise in vitriol and an opportunity to discredit the other party as unworthy of the public's trust at the next election rather than an opportunity for informed debate leading to good governance.
Voters want MLAs to put citizen interests over the interests of the party. They want their elected officials to speak the truth, act with integrity, and always put the public interest ahead of their own or the interest of their political party. But this is almost impossible to achieve within the current system where MLAs are muzzled and retribution for the slightest criticism is swift and draconian.
I believe that having more Independents in the legislature will provide an opportunity to create a climate for democratic reform. As an Independent, I will be free to raise issues of sustainability, social justice, and progressive economics in a proactive manner which will challenge both parties to address these issues rather than simply fight with each other.
With Carole's resignation, some have asked me to remain within the NDP and join those who will be using this as an opportunity to renew the party. These thoughtful and well intentioned requests have caused to me reflect again on my decision to sit as an Independent and to re-confirm that decision.
I believe that directing my energies toward the internal fight within the NDP is the not best and most productive way to serve my constituents or to drive a public call for true democratic reform leading to good governance.
Once again, I would be dragged into an internal battle that may or may not result in a progressive outcome with a progressive leader. It would also mean being muzzled again under the guise of "Caucus discipline" and agreeing to limit myself to whatever internal structure the Caucus decides to employ under an interim leader.
Finally, I have always maintained, and firmly believe, that as long as Moe Sihota is Party President I cannot have confidence I will be able to play a constructive role and that any process within the party will be fair (and) transparent.
I will be setting up an Independent Riding Association soon and will be looking for people to support me in preparing to run in the next election as an Independent.
In the meantime, I've asked our constituency President to speak with the Executive about holding an AGM in early January so that the NDP Riding Association membership can address my departure. With respect, I ask that members of the Executive continue in their positions until the elections at the AGM so that the Riding Association can remain whole and the transition to a new Executive can take place at that time.
Please know that I will continue to do my utmost to represent Cariboo North to the best of my ability and to advocate for good governance and a sustainable and just society.