Liberal MLAs reject premier’s directive to give up double duty in municipalities

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B.C. Liberal MLAs who have refused to give up their municipal positions – and in one case their second paycheque – after the May election need to stop double-dipping and start serving the British Columbians who elected them, says the NDP.

Following the May election, Premier Christy Clark said of MLAs who held municipal positions: “They can take an unpaid leave of absence, and then submit their formal resignation in January when it wouldn’t likely cause a byelection.”

But some new Liberal MLAs have refused to follow the premier’s directive.

West Vancouver Sea-to-Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy: Sturdy has not only continued to serve as mayor of Pemberton after being elected to the legislature in May, he has also continued to collect his mayoral salary until resigning this month.

Asked about whether he should have stepped aside or taken an unpaid leave instead, Sturdy defended his performance, noting “I think the two roles are complementary.”

Surrey-Panorama MLA Marvin Hunt: Hunt will continue to serve on Surrey council despite the premier’s suggestion that MLAs who didn’t immediately resign their municipal positions would do so this month.

Hunt seemed to characterize both jobs as simply matters of appointment-keeping, telling media: “Well, right now, the meeting on Monday night – I can make the meeting on Monday night. I’ve read my council package for tomorrow night’s meeting, and I don’t have something that calls me into Victoria for tomorrow night, so why shouldn’t I be there?”

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing: Despite a promise to step down in January, Bing will continue to serve on Pitt Meadows council as well as serving as MLA.

“I’m going to stick to my guns,” he told reporters when asked about the change of heart, noting that he didn’t think it would be a burden to do both jobs.

Delta North MLA Scott Hamilton: Hamilton is still attending Delta council meetings, and has not discussed plans to resign.

New Democrat Local Government Critic Selina Robinson said on Tuesday: “The Liberal MLAs that are holding on to their municipal positions are not serving the people who elected them. The several members of the Liberal caucus who have resigned these positions in recognition of their new job can tell them that.

“Not only is there potential for conflict of interest on both sides, this reluctance demonstrates a disturbing lack of focus on the job they are being paid by British Columbians to do.”