Delta-South MLA 'committed' to being an independent
Watching Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen cross the floor of the provincial legislature to join the B.C. Conservatives on Monday (March 26) hasn't inspired Delta-South MLA Vicki Huntington to change her allegiance.
"Right now I am absolutely committed to being independent," Huntington told the Leader the day following the dramatic turn of events in Victoria. "Being independent has meant that my allegiance is to my constituency, not to a party."
Van Dongen announced Monday he was resigning from the B.C. Liberal caucus and becoming the only sitting member of the B.C. Conservative Party.
He told the legislature there are still serious unanswered questions regarding the writing off of $6 million in legal fees in the BC Rail case, and cited the cancellation of a $35 million naming rights agreement with Telus as "another example of failed leadership."
"There have been other lapses in proper accountability and I expect more to come. When more and more decisions are being made for the wrong reasons, then you have an organization that is heading for failure," he said.
For now, van Dongen will have to sit as an independent MLA since the Conservatives do not have party status.
Huntington called van Dongen's move "extremely courageous" and said it is an indicator of the integrity he feels he must live up to.
"Mr. Van Dongen has been a loyal Liberal cabinet minister and MLA for over 17 years," she said. "This was not an easy decision, I can assure you."
She expects people who have thought about voting Conservative will be far more convinced to do so at this point.
"It really is time to take a good hard look at what kind of government we have and what kind of government we want right now," she said.
With byelections coming up in Port Moody-Coquitlam and Chilliwack-Hope, and Conservative candidate John Martin thought to stand a good chance of winning the latter riding, Huntington believes the Conservative party is gaining momentum.
But she's not ready to speculate on whether other MLAs are prepared to cross the floor.
"You hear rumblings that there are some who are very unhappy, and I know of a couple who have not been particularly happy, especially with the leadership," she said, "but there's no indication that any are so disgruntled that they would step aside. And I really think that's going to be up to an individual's very deep conscience."