Islanders who attended Friday’s ASK Salt Spring session would have seen and heard something a little out of the ordinary when it comes to the political realm.
For one thing, the two provincial MLAs who attended do not sit on the same side of the B.C. Legislature. Mike Farnworth, who is B.C.’s Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General (as well as Deputy Premier) in an NDP majority government, came to the island on the suggestion of local Green MLA Adam Olsen. Anyone who pays attention to provincial politics or attends Olsen’s ASK appearances will know that Olsen holds the government’s feet to the fire with the best of them. Yet Olsen and Farnworth obviously share a profound mutual respect, which came through in the ASK Salt Spring gathering attended by more than 50 people at the Ganges Fire Hall.
They also talked about the positive strides taken by all parties to craft new legislation lately, and that the reality of governance at the provincial level contrasts with the acrimony that comes through in Question Period (QP), which is often the only part of the political process the public sees. Olsen estimated that 90 per cent of the work done by provincial government MLAs is “collaborative.”
Farnworth and Olsen were not the only ones who made that kind of observation last week. CHEK News political correspondent Rob Shaw posted a Twitter thread about the work of several specific NDP, Green and Liberal MLAs, describing “some of the positive impressive work” he was seeing, “instead of just the QP controversy criticism stuff all the time.”
Institutions of a civil society, such as democratically elected governments, have been taking a beating in recent years through toxic online discourse and the actions it instigates. The visit by Olsen and Farnworth and the legislative progress they work together to achieve shows the system does work when quality people are elected.
Olsen will also be holding a series of community meetings on all Gulf Islands and in North Saanich as part of his program called The Public Circle from March 10 to 18, where more questions will be welcomed. Dates, times and places can be found at saanichnorthandtheislands.com/events.