On June 12, all New Democratic Party members of British Columbia’s legislative assembly were sworn in as the official Opposition to B.C.’s government. I am honoured to continue serving as your MLA and take my place among the 85 members serving today and the over 900 members who have served since 1871 when B.C. became a province of Canada.
I will admit, though, that the ceremonies were bittersweet. It is wonderful to continue the work I love no matter where I sit in the House, yet I wouldn’t be honest if I said it didn’t matter to me where I sat. I was hoping to move over to the government side with Adrian Dix as premier and a mandate to implement the strong platform we put forward that would have brought positive changes for our local economy, healthcare, education and environment. However, that was not the outcome on May 14.
Many of you have approached me with congratulations in the last month, followed by the question, “What happened?” The pollsters and pundits were declaring the NDP a winner long before the ballots were counted, so the final results were a shock to many in this area regardless of political stripe.
But elections belong to the voters, not the pollsters, and they have spoken. The NDP will conduct our review and learn from our mistakes. Most importantly, we will get on with the job we were elected to do: representing our constituents and holding the government accountable as the official Opposition.
As I said, I am grateful to do this work. Shortly after the swearing-in ceremony, the NDP shadow cabinet was announced, and I have a new role as the Opposition critic for social development. Along with my duties as MLA for Nelson-Creston and chair of the Opposition women’s caucus, I will be taking the lead on issues of poverty, equality, social assistance and community resources for the New Democrat Opposition.
For example, I will be calling on the Liberal government to join with the majority of provinces to implement a poverty reduction plan to address B.C.’s high poverty rates. Tackling poverty in a strategic, co-ordinated way has proven effective in other jurisdictions, yet the Liberals have been resistant to moving ahead with this best practice. That needs to change for the betterment of every single community in B.C., including right here in the Creston Valley.
I am also looking forward to working on our local issues. Keeping Jumbo wild and respecting the cultural and spiritual history of local First Nations is immediate on the agenda as I heard daily on the campaign trail. Stay up to date with this major regional issue by friending me on Facebook or signing-up to my monthly e-newsletter at www.michellemungall.ca. Standing up for democracy, local economy and our environment is going to take all of us, and after 20 years of speaking out for a Jumbo wild, the vast majority of Kootenay residents will not be ignored on this issue any longer.
We are a passionate and caring people in this region. Thank you for electing me to continue bringing that passion to B.C.’s legislature.
Michelle Mungall is the MLA for the Nelson-Creston provincial riding.