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COLUMN: Our MLAs must take lead no matter who wins

Representation from south of the Fraser needed in new provincial cabinet

As uncertainty continues over which political party or combination will form the next provincial government, it’s worth contemplating how Surrey and White Rock will be represented.

Of course, there needs to be local MLAs in the cabinet. There also needs to be a strong commitment to work towards resolving issues affecting communities south of the Fraser River.

If the BC Liberals remain in power, two ministers from Surrey from the last cabinet won’t be there. Peter Fassbender, minister responsible for TransLink, lost his Surrey-Fleetwood seat. Amrik Virk, minister of technology, lost Surrey-Guildford.

They need to be replaced. Most importantly, Surrey must have strong representation in the cabinet. Not only is it the second-largest city in B.C., it is a crucial electoral battleground in which the BC Liberals must do better if they wish to win another term when this parliament dissolves.

That may be much sooner than four years from now.

Stephanie Cadieux, who won the new Surrey South seat, is the longtime minister of children and family development. It is a thankless post, with enormous challenges. She is likely due for a change and would be suited to a position directly related to some of Surrey’s biggest challenges – education, health or a transportation post.

New Surrey-White Rock MLA Tracy Redies, former CEO of Coast Capital Savings, should also be in line for an important post. Some sort of economic portfolio would fit.

Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Marvin Hunt, elected for a second term, also merits additional responsibilities. He is a former chair of Metro Vancouver and served on Surrey council and school board.

The current education minister, Mike Bernier, was re-elected in Peace River South.

He has recently come around to understand that Surrey has unique classroom-space challenges, magnified by the settlement with the BC Teachers Federation. It would be best for Surrey if he stays in his post.

The most critical post relating to Surrey may be the one Fassbender held. There aren’t a huge number of BC Liberal MLAs from Metro Vancouver. One is needed who can mend fences and get transportation improvements moving along.

If the NDP form government, new premier John Horgan will have more local talent available to him for cabinet.

Longtime Surrey-Whalley MLA Bruce Ralston, a former city councillor, would fit any number of positions from attorney-general to minister of finance. He has been critic for trade, natural gas development, multiculturalism, oil and gas and the softwood-lumber dispute.

Harry Bains, Surrey-Newton MLA since 2005, has been critic for forests, lands and natural resources and human rights. He had been transportation critic and could take over from Fassbender in dealing directly with Lower Mainland issues.

Jagrup Brar, who defeated Fassbender, has legislative experience and would deserving of a cabinet post. New Surrey-Panorama MLA Jinny Sims is a former BCTF president and could also play an important role.

The NDP, if it forms government, will have to move quickly to deal with many hot-button issues.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News.