The free legislator

After reviewing her experience as an independent MLA in British Columbia, Vicki Huntington considers the potential for more unaffiliated representatives.

Despite my experience I would not suggest that everyone run as independent. It is a very hard row to hoe. Nevertheless I do think we are going to see more and more independents in politics. People are dissatisfied. It is not even necessarily with parties; it is with how government is operating. By and large, members can no longer influence government. You can tell people that debate in a caucus – as my father used to say – is probably the essence of democracy, but people need to hear their elected representatives making a difference. People do not know what was said in caucus. Outside of caucus, the message is very controlled. The representative of a party is delegated to say what the government wants the media and the public to hear. Party members do not have a voice because as party representatives they cannot criticize publicly. But people want to hear that unfiltered voice.

There will not be a rash of independents for a number of reasons. The party system is too entrenched. The establishment within a community will have nothing to do with you once you become an independent. Fund-raising is difficult.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.