The recall campaign against Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton is over and the first-term politician can now focus his energy on representing the two communities.
Organizers who led the Done With Dalton campaign had 60 days to collect 14,882 names of people who were on the 2009 voters list by May 9, but abandoned the effort after the provincial government announced a June 24 mail-in vote on the HST last week. The original referendum date was in September.
“The anti-HST petition got us the referendum and a new premier. The recalls helped us get an expedited referendum date and a promise of equal funding. Now we need to focus our energies on using truth to counter the lobbying of the Liberals and big business,” campaign organizer Corisa Bell said in a Sunday news release.
Dalton said he didn't take the recall personally because he knows what he has done for Mission and Maple Ridge, but notes it has taken time away from his work.
Recall supporters have accused Dalton of not fighting for his communities and has allowed health care cuts to continue, particularly at Mission Memorial Hospital.
The former teacher insists he has been advocating for the hospital in other ways, like having discussions with the health minister and the health authority.
"There's ongoing discussions about how to utilize MMH," said Dalton. "Some people have the notion of a general hospital doing all things, but that's not the most efficient way."
Dalton adds it is in a patient's best interest to have hospitals specialize in certain areas, such as cardiac care.
The work of an MLA ranges from influencing government decisions to making a simple phone call to help a constituent, explained Dalton who finds all of it is rewarding, regardless of the outcome.
And while Dalton hasn't been put in charge of a ministry, he says that's a good thing because he can advocate for a range of issues, instead of focusing on one.
He's met with the minister of transportation to talk about four-laning Lougheed Highway from Maple Ridge to Mission, worked with local governments and aboriginal groups to improve the environment and create Experience the Fraser, a trail and tourism project spanning all the communities along the waterway. He has also spoken to law enforcement agencies about civil forfeiture, in addition to criminal seizures, to deal with marijuana grow operations and other criminal activities.
It has been in use since 1996, and police are only now becoming more familiar with it, said Dalton, noting the civil process is easier and quicker than criminal forfeiture.
As an MLA, Dalton is also involved with committees and internal committee work. There's a lot of work to do, he said.
"I don't work for five days and have two days off."
It doesn't matter which side of the fence people are on, they can always come talk to me, said Dalton.
• The question asked in the mail-in ballot will be the same as that set for the referendum: “Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and reinstating the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) in conjunction with the GST (Goods and Services Tax)? Yes/No.” Voting will be supervised by Elections B.C.
A simple majority result will be considered binding on the government.