In his own words
J. van Dongen: For almost 17 years I have risen in this chamber to represent the best interests of my constituents and the best interests of all British Columbians. I have done so as a member of the official opposition for six years, as a member of cabinet for eight years and as a private member for three years.
Throughout that time I have been keenly aware of the privilege and the responsibility that comes with being an elected member of this assembly. I have always tried to conduct myself in a manner consistent with the expectations of those who entrusted me with this office. I am by no means a flawless individual but have strived for personal and political integrity. I’ve always taken ownership of my own shortcomings.
I had hoped that there would have been renewal in my party and in government, but in the last 12 months I feel that has not happened. Indeed, every week constituents question government actions and issues that I am not able to defend.
What I believe people expect from political leadership are core values that include integrity and a genuine commitment to public service. Integrity includes honesty, ethics and personal character. Integrity is non-negotiable. It is foundational for a strong organization, and most importantly, integrity includes full accountability.
To this day, there are still serious unanswered questions regarding the writing off of $6 million in legal fees in the B.C. Rail case, contrary to government policy — questions I have been asking for a year and a half, and questions the Auditor General is seeking answers to through the courts. Most recently, the unexplainable cancellation of a $35 million naming rights agreement with TELUS is, in my view, another example of failed leadership. There have been other lapses in proper accountability, and I expect more to come.
When more and more decisions are being made for the wrong reasons, then you have an organization that is heading for failure.
Today I rise because I can no longer carry on with my duties as a member of government. I have decided to resign as a member of the B.C. Liberal government caucus, and I’m cancelling my membership with the B.C. Liberal Party.
I believe the people of B.C. deserve a government that will look in the mirror and honestly contemplate what it sees, a government that people have trust and confidence in, a government that models true accountability for its actions.
To my colleagues in the government caucus as well as those in opposition and those who sit as independent MLAs, I celebrate each of you and your willingness to serve the people of British Columbia. This is not an easy job, so to all of you who continue to strive for excellence, I applaud your efforts.
To my constituents, in the coming days and weeks I look forward to speaking with you and further discussing the decision I have made. Indeed, I do have much to share and will in the coming weeks make it clear that while this was not an easy decision, it was the only decision I could arrive at in good conscience.
To the government caucus staff, constituency assistants and party staff, it has been a privilege to work with you. And to all those public servants who I have had the honour of working with, rest assured that my work with you to accomplish the goals and policies that were right for all British Columbians have been one of the most meaningful aspects of my time in public office.
To my family and friends, thank you for standing by me through some difficult times. In particular I wish to thank Sherry and Lucas for their continued love and support.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, looking forward, I will do what I have done for the past 17 years. I will put my time, energy and talents to serve my constituents and the party that I believe can best provide British Columbians with a broadly based, credible free enterprise option in the next provincial election. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that I will now be sitting in this House as a member of the B.C. Conservative Party.
I look forward to continuing to work for all of my constituents in Abbotsford South and for all British Columbians.
I am pleased to announce that I will now be sitting in this House as a member of the B.C. Conservative Party. I look forward to continuing to work for all my constituents in Abbotsford South and for all British Columbians.
Thank you, hon. Speaker, and thank you, Members.