Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall. (Hansard TV)

B.C. legislature declares kids no longer ’strangers’ in chamber

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B.C. Energy Minister Michelle Mungall was moved to tears as she rose to support an all-party motion to allow children in the B.C. legislature.

“I look forward to bringing the little one into this house,” said Mungall, who is expecting her first child later this year.

MLAs of all parties voted unanimously Thursday to change the standing rules of the legislature, which currently include children among “strangers” who are not allowed to enter the chamber when it is in session.

Mungall and other MLAs paid tribute to Richmond South Centre MLA Linda Reid, who as Speaker for the previous four years introduced several women-friendly changes to the hidebound traditions of the legislature. Mungall said she is grateful to Reid for making maternity benefits and baby change rooms available.

Reid herself credited the pioneering efforts of former MLAs Christy Clark, Jenny Kwan and Judi Tyabji, all of whom became mothers when serving as MLAs. Reid also dealt with the competing demands of new motherhood and the demands of provincial office.

Langley MLA Mary Polak noted that the new rule will apply to fathers as well.

Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau said the change is welcome, and an important step to convincing younger people that they have an opportunity to serve in the legislature.

Speaker Darryl Plecas said the logistics of the change still need to be worked out through the legislature management committee.

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