With the end of the legislative session this week, 23 MLAs said goodbye for good to the grand pile of granite and marble that is the B.C. Legislature. In their farewell speeches on Thursday afternoon, in between the obligatory thanks to their family and support staff, we learned something of what they think of their opponents, their own team members, and the vexing ban on coffee in the House.
Among those who have packed their bags:
Kevin Falcon (BC Liberal, Surrey-Cloverdale)
"I also want to thank Gordon Campbell. You know, Gordon was a former premier that I worked with for the vast majority of my time in public life. I want to say that I admire him and continue to admire him. I think history will judge him as one of the great premiers of our province. I think he will be in the pantheon of great premiers that I have admired – some you may be surprised at. W.A.C. Bennett, of course, because of the dams and because of B.C. Ferries. Both were very controversial decisions at the time. Bill Bennett, with the restraint program – very difficult to do but well ahead of governments around the world, recognizing that government had to live within its means – and the Coquihalla Highway, of course – extremely controversial but key to opening up the interior of the province, recognizing that the province is bigger than the Lower Mainland and Victoria. Dave Barrett, because Dave Barrett was also bold and visionary in his own way."
Randy Hawes (BC Liberal, Abbotsford-Mission)
"People have been talking about what we should do in this House. The first thing we should do is… For Pete's sake, why can't we drink coffee in the House?
And I do have to say this too. Sometimes in this House, when a party line gets in the way of your conscience, really, to everyone, follow your conscience. You're always right if you do that. Sometimes that might get you in trouble… My quote will be from Pogo: 'I've seen the enemy, and it's us.' "
Dawn Black (BC NDP, New Westminster)
"My journey in political life has not been a traditional one. Not once, as a girl growing up in Vancouver, did I consider a role in politics.… It was not something girls of my generation saw as an option for themselves.
When we speak of women in the legislature, it's important to also recognize the Premier, the member for Vancouver-Point Grey. She stepped in to seek the leadership of her party at a very challenging time. She's shown courage, determination and a desire to serve our province, and I'm sure she would agree it's a role with many, many very difficult and challenging moments.
I know how important it is for girls and young women to see the face of a woman in leadership roles so that girls like my five granddaughters can grow up seeing a reflection of themselves in the legislature, seeing women making a commitment to public life. It is important.
When I left the House of Commons, I asked a very learned friend to calculate for me how long it would take, considering the rate of progress women have made in Parliament, to achieve gender parity. The answer astounded even me. It will take until December of 2100 – almost a century. We must all do better."
Blair Lekstrom (BC Liberal, Peace River South)
"I think all of us, as individuals – not as legislators but as British Columbians – always want more and always want to pay less. And there is a reality, ladies and gentlemen, that that just isn't possible in today's world.… Mandatory voting is something I think about often. Men and women fought and died for our right, all of our right, to live in a free and democratic society. It hurts me greatly when I see the numbers that go out to vote in our province and in this country, in local elections as well. Somehow we have to solve that.… We live in one of the greatest democracies in the world. Let us work every day to make it work, and let us never take it for granted."