Gov't MLA doesn't necessarily pay dividends for constituents

The major issue in the 2009 provincial election for Delta South was whether the riding would be better represented by a Liberal MLA and cabinet minister, or by an independent. The Liberal protagonists argued that a Liberal backbencher or cabinet member would be more effective and influential in promoting and protecting the interests of the riding.

In a Liberal advertisement in the Optimist, Coun. Bruce McDonald stated: "I can tell you from experience that the benefits of having a cabinet minister representing Delta are enormous."

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However, Vicki Huntingdon defeated Wally Oppal because the voters concluded the premise of influence was not true.

Liberal Val Roddick won the 2001 election with 67 per cent of the vote, which was certainly a measure of faith and trust in a Liberal MLA. Shortly afterward, on Jan. 17, 2002, Roddick and the Fraser Health Authority convened a public meeting to announce a plan to turn Delta Hospital into a nursing station, declaring that full-service medical care in South Delta was "unsustainable."

Roddick's action was so self-evidently contrary to the welfare of South Deltans that she barely survived a recall vote in 2003.

Later, the Liberal government proposed to upgrade the power lines through Tsawwassen. This project had no benefit to the community, and residents near the power line had a reasonable apprehension of potential health risk.

Roddick remained completely silent on the issue, while Oppal stated that he contacted then energy minister Richard Neufeld about the project but could not convince the government to modify it. This likely cost him the election in 2009.

In an interview published in the Optimist just before the 2009 election, Roddick stated she was disappointed she had been ineffective at influencing the alignment of the South Fraser Perimeter Road. The Liberals replaced Roddick with Oppal, who promised to be more effective.

On May 6, 2009, there was a photo on the front page of the Optimist of Wally Oppal, Gordon Campbell and Bobby Lenarduzzi. The associated story said they were in the riding "to announce that, if re-elected, a Liberal government would pour $17.5 million into the development of a world-class soccer training facility at John Oliver Park in East Delta."

The Liberal government was re-elected, but the soccer facility campaign promise made by Oppal and the premier didn't come true.

Campbell and Oppal could have made a more serious commitment to use some of the $17.5 million to restore full services to Delta Hospital, which is located in the Delta South riding.

Recent history indicates that a Liberal MLA and a cabinet minister who resided in the riding did not have the inclination or influence to effectively stop or modify bad government policies and projects in our riding.

The argument that a Liberal MLA would better represent the riding has been demonstrated to be false. The best MLA for South Delta is one that will work for, and look out for, South Deltans.

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