Occasionally, a person who is not a member of a political party is elected as an MLA, becoming an Independent Member. Independent Members act on behalf of their constituents independent of any party affiliation. An Independent Member may also sit as an independent Member with a party affiliation.
An Independent Member is not bound by
party discipline and may raise issues that party members may not. However, they do not receive the same benefits as those MLAs who belong to a party with official status. They do not necessarily receive priority recognition during
Question Period, funding for research support, or the right to reply to ministerial statements.
Sometimes an MLA changes political party affiliation. They may choose to sit as an independent or as a member of a different party. This is known as "crossing the floor."
DID YOU KNOW?
Since the emergence of political parties in B.C., there have been nine Independent Members elected to the Legislative Assembly. The first was
Mary Ellen Smith, elected in a 1918 by-election to represent the constituency of Vancouver City. The most recent was Vicki Huntington, elected in 2009 and again in 2013 to represent the constituency of Delta South. The last time before this was in 1949, when James Mowat was elected to represent the constituency of Alberni.