Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer’s Wednesday piece quoted from a leaked transcript of a September conference call involving the NDP’s provincial executive. The politicos were discussing recall strategy, among other things. No wonder there. Perhaps odd that Palmer has transcripts of private meetings but, with the refractory opposition party, not surprising. Some NDP members look fondly at agitation in the Liberal Party and are aiming for a revolt in their own playground.
In the meeting, party president Moe Sihota laid out the importance of recall to NDP fortunes but he noted that members could participate in the signature gathering efforts only as individuals, not as representatives of the party. Clearly, Sihota wanted the targets of recall to be sitting in ridings where the NDP stood a good chance of winning. Of course, an objective other than that would be nonsense. Again, no surprise.
However, what does amaze is Palmer’s shift to a tone of indignation over NDP interest in recall:
…this game-show debasement of the process—“give us what we want NOW or we’ll shoot this MLA,” rhetorically speaking—does raise the question of whether recall was ever intended to be used in such a fashion.
Oh, really? Had Palmer turned to Paul Willcock’s blog Paying Attention, he would have been enlightened by reading this:
[First recall target Ida Chong said] the NDP was playing a big behind-the-scenes recall role (likely true) and the effort was an abuse of the recall legislation. Recall was supposed to be used against MLAs who acted unethically, Chong said.
That’s just untrue. The successful referendum on recall, which led to the legislation, asked if British Columbians should have the right to remove their MLA between elections. Voters would decide what constituted grounds for dismissal.
Willcocks nails the issue accurately because the actual referendum question, framed by Socred Premier Rita Johnson, was this:
Should the voters be given the right, by legislation, to vote between elections for the removal of their member of the Legislative Assembly?
This simple question did not provide for any restriction in reasons for recall. There were no fair or unfair motivations. Whatever voters held to be a valid reason was a valid reason for recall. Today’s BC Liberals and Vaughn Palmer would prefer the referendum and the resulting legislation said something different. Well, boys and girls. Get over it; it is what it is.
By the way, the result of that vote, held October 17, 1991, was YES, with 81% of the ballots cast.