CALL it one of those rare occasions of cooperation between opposing political parties.
Renovators were hard at work last week freshening up the Terrace office of Skeena BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross.
And to the surprise of some, it’s the same space occupied until recently by Robin Austin, who served 12 years as the NDP MLA for Skeena before deciding not to run again in the May provincial election.
But it came down to good old-fashioned pragmatism between the former MLA and the new one.
The location is not only familiar for constituents looking to speak to their MLA but furnishing it was also less complicated.
“We did each other a favour,” explained Ross of the arrangement which included furniture.
Austin would otherwise have to jump through government hoops to get rid of the furniture which was bought through the legislative assembly and Ross would have had to go through similar hoops to buy furniture.
“Neither of us really wanted the hassle, so this works fine,” said Ross of the furniture arrangement.
His office will be ready this week, just in time to act as a local base for his constituency duties because Ross’s short-lived career as the provincial natural gas development and housing minister ended yesterday when the new NDP government was sworn in.
Ross was appointed in June along with other BC Liberal cabinet ministers in what was mostly a caretaker role pending the NDP taking power after defeating the BC Liberals in the legislature the end of June.
And now, as a member of the official opposition hemmed in by an NDP MLA to the west and an NDP MLA to the east, Ross says he’ll be working on issues directly related to the Skeena riding.
“I’ve already been meeting with groups asking them specifically for information, what specifically they are trying to achieve I can take forward,” he said.
“Show me some numbers and show me some facts,” said Ross of his approach to dealing with local issues.
He said it’s a similar approach to dealing with companies during his tenure as Haisla Nation chief councillor.
“Yes. I learned to ask a lot of questions,” Ross continued.
One top item on his to-do list is the replacement for Mills Memorial Hospital, something promised by the former BC Liberal government in February during a visit here by then-finance minister Mike de Jong and affirmed in its campaign platform for the May provincial election.
Premier John Horgan, when opposition leader, also promised a new Mills during a visit here last August.
“And with the NDP, seeing if it’s in their budget, that’s going to be my job,” said Ross.
He hopes the NDP calls the legislature back before its scheduled September date.