Jan 6/08: Translink Democracy Derailed...
Political Appointees to Replace Elected Reps ...
The B.C. Liberal government used its majority to pass a bill Nov.
29 that replaces TransLink's democratically-elected board with one
composed of political appointees. The governance change could be in
place as soon as Jan. 1.
The attack on democracy had transportation groups, unions and the NDP
hammering on the "Stop Requested" button. As the NDP's Norm Macdonald,
the MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke, put it during the debate in the
legislature Thursday, "What every person who sits in here should
believe is that proper decisions are made in the open. They are made
by democratically-elected representatives of the people, and those
representatives are held directly accountable to the people whose
money they take and spend." The Greater Vancouver Transportation
Authority Amendment Act, 2007, will reduce TransLink's accountability,
Speaking for the government, Langley MLA Mary Polak argued that in her
time in public life she's heard nothing but complaints from people
about TransLink. "They've said things like, 'What a mess,' and 'Oh,
please blow it up,'" she said. "To speak now about this new governance
model and address it as being somehow less accountable than the
TransLink that currently exists is absolutely laughable for anyone who
lives in the Lower Mainland."
TransLink might have issues, responded the NDP's David Chudnovsky, MLA
for Vancouver-Kensington, but all that "bickering" as Polak called it
is democracy in motion. "Those folks found a way, despite the fact
that they came from a whole number of municipalities," he said, "to
figure out a transportation plan for the Lower Mainland."
And it's not just the official opposition who dislike the government's
plan. A Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) news
release compared the new TransLink board to Chinese-style
dictatorship. "There has been a groundswell of opposition to the
changes to TransLink," says the release. "Groups ranging from SPEC,
Western Canada Wilderness Committee, Gatewaysucks.org,
Keeptranslinkpublic.ca and the Council of Canadians have all lined up
against Bill 43."
A Facebook group of people opposed to the move has attracted over
2,300 members. Liberal Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon almost
certainly isn't one of them.