Legislative Assembly

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY is the supreme law-making body in BC. Its members, Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), are elected from constituencies throughout the province. The legislature is required to meet annually. It has become customary to convene a session in mid-Mar and continue sitting into June, but the time frame is flexible. The assembly meets in the LEGISLATIVE BUILDINGS overlooking the inner harbour in downtown VICTORIA. The first assembly in 1871 consisted of 25 MLAs; in the 2001 election voters selected 79 members. Terms are for up to 5 years. Party distinctions have existed in the legislature since 1903. The party electing the most MLAs forms the government; the party with the next largest number of seats is the official opposition.

Legislation is devised in CABINET and the civil service, then debated and approved in the assembly. Proceedings are directed by the Speaker of the House, who is chosen by members in a secret vote. BC added a daily question period to assembly proceedings in 1973; it was the last province to do so. A written Hansard was introduced in 1970, and sessions have been televised since 1989. Six officers report directly to the assembly: the AUDITOR GENERAL; the chief electoral officer; the POLICE COMPLAINTS COMMISSIONER; the CONFLICT OF INTEREST COMMISSIONER; the information and privacy commissioner; and the OMBUDSMAN. See also COLONIAL GOVERNMENT; ELECTORAL SYSTEM.