News Views: Hide and seek

The theme among politicians here is accountability, or lack thereof.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing was on a plane returning from a vacation in Iceland when protesters wanted to talk to him about the teachers’ strike at his constituency office earlier this week.

The protesters, concerned parents and some of their children, wanted to voice their concerns and ask some questions, but were perturbed that the MLA’s office doors were locked and that no one from Bing’s staff acknowledged them.

Bing did not respond to media inquires that day either. He did on Wednesday, after shaming media reports about the shunned protestors the night before on Twitter.

Interestingly, Premier Christy Clark passed on the B.C. Teacher Federation’s invitation to join the union at the bargaining table last weekend, then took to social media to spread more government propaganda about the strike and ‘unfair’ demands.

The theme here is accountability, or lack thereof.

The premier doesn’t have to respond to questions  from teachers, protestors or journalists when she communicates through social media. She can write whatever she wants; no filter; no context; no balance.

Teachers can do the same, and they are.

But they are not elected officials.

Taxpayers voted for Bing. Their money pays his salary, and that of his staff, and for his office. So if they have some questions about a strike that affects their children’s education, which they also pay for, the MLA or his staff should make an effort to answer them.

Bing did that, and promptly after returning from vacation. He explained that his office doors are always locked to control potential confrontations, and that constituents have to use an intercom to enter. But a temporary staff person did not let them in on Tuesday.

Coincidentally, Liberal MLA for Maple Ridge Mission, Marc Dalton, has not responded to media inquiries about the teachers’ strike.

And before Bing could be asked about it Wednesday, he ended the conversation, saying he had to catch a ferry.

Conveniently, Education Minister Peter Fassbender was also not at his Surrey constituency office on Tuesday, when a large rally took place.

But anyone can walk up to a teacher on one of the many picket lines and have their questions answered.

Teachers aren’t running away.

We don’t expect our politicians to hide. They need to stand up to criticism, defend their position, and be accountable to those who elected them.

– The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News