Thursday, July 23, 2015

With a Facebook note, the Mystery of the Missing MLA is solved

MLA Rice explains her
absence from the Legislature
For those thinking of taking out milk cartons with pictures of North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, some good news, the MLA who was absent from Tuesday's vote on the LNG Agreement in the Legislature has popped back up on her Facebook page.

As we outlined on the blog on Tuesday, the North Coast MLA was not in the Legislature on Monday and Tuesday, leaving her vote un-recorded in the final tally on the debate related to the LNG Agreement between the Province

Making use of her Facebook page over the last few days, the MLA provided a bit of an itinerary of her travels to the community of Wuikinuxv, known to many as Rivers Inlet, offering up an explanation regarding her absence of this week from legislative duties in Victoria.

In a post to her social media platform on Wednesday Ms. Rice noted that she had been invited to the community to attend their General Assembly, an invitation that she had accepted prior to the summer session of the Legislature.

" I was attending an important event in Wuiknuxv on the central coast. A commitment I made long before the Premier called the rushed LNG legislation. I made my views known in the legislature the week before" -- North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, offering up her first comments regarding her absence from the Legislature this week.

While it's honourable that the MLA is inclined to honour her pre arranged commitments, there are times when a politician has to send his or her regrets to such events, and the Tuesday vote on the LNG agreement probably should have been one of those moments for the North Coast MLA.

We imagine that the people of Wuikinuxv, would have understood the need for her to be in her seat at the Legislature, standing ready to provide representation for all of the North Coast and to have her final vote on the LNG agreement recorded for the history books.

Particularly since she was so passionate one week previous with her commentary, a twenty minute presentation to the Legislature that outlined why she was going to vote No when it comes to the agreement, well that is, if she had actually been there to vote.

The LNG Agreement is perhaps one of the more defining pieces of legislation that could have an affect on the riding that she represents.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice's
name was missing at the final vote
on the LNG Agreement
The prospect of development of an LNG Terminal on Lelu Island is one that has proven to be a somewhat divisive topic in the community, the proposed terminal one that Ms. Rice herself has long been in opposition towards.

And while the outcome of the vote in the Legislature was probably never in doubt, it was an exercise in governance and representation that the elected MLA for the North Coast should have been in place for when it came time to count the votes.

Instead, she chose to be far from Victoria at that moment, leaving the riding that is the focus of LNG Terminal development silent and for the most part unrepresented in that process.

There are always going to be priorities for politicians when it comes to how they choose to vote on controversial issues in their community.

In the case of the LNG Agreement, if she had voted as she had indicated, her priorities would have found favour with some in the riding and would also have been at the opposite end of the political scale for others.

Such is the nature of politics, at any given point someone is not going to be happy with the way they are represented.

Yet, from her decision of this week, Ms. Rice  seems to be missing the main reason that we participate in elections and send representatives to Victoria, it is to be our advocate and witness to events in the Legislature.

There are times when we allow those we elect some latitude on their time in the House, as has happened many times int he past, MLA's can at times, pick and choose when they feel the need to be in attendance for votes.

For instance had Tuesday's exercise of democracy been one to consider some legislation for the Kootenay region, well, probably her participation would not have been required and her absence would surely not have been noticed.

However, in the case of a vote on a key piece of legislation, one that directly impacts on the riding that launched her political career on the provincial scene, Ms. Rice made the wrong decision that found her away from Victoria this week.

Explaining to those that she represents the reasons behind her decision, will require a little more effort on her behalf, than just a simple note on her Facebook page.

For a review of the events related to the discussion on the LNG Agreement, see our Legislature archive page here.

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