The domed top of the BC Parliament Building

Top of the BC Parliament Building / Image via John O’Sullivan from Flicker

As much as we would love it if choosing our MLAs for the upcoming provincial election was as easy as choosing a character for a game of Super Smash Bros., it’s an often confusing process—and some may not even know what an MLA is.

The legislature of British Columbia is made up of the Lieutenant Government and 87 elected members of the Legislative Assembly. The 87 elected members represent each electoral district around the province. The Legislative Assembly is made up of members of the governing party, members of the oppositions, and independent members.

The key role of a member comes in when the House is sitting to consider, debate, and vote on new bills that have been introduced by cabinet ministers or a private member.

In the Chamber, each member is able to raise concerns during debates and ask the government to take action on a particular issue affecting their riding or the province. Each member has the chance to exercise oversight by asking certain questions about the government’s plans and by taking part in debates. Some members perform special roles in the Chamber as presiding officers or as caucus officers.

Another major role of an MLA is to approve or deny proposed government spending and tax changes.

In caucus, MLAs meet with their colleagues from the same party frequently throughout the year. At the caucuses, members can discuss House strategies and develop caucus positions on the subjects that are debated in the House.

For a provincial election, instead of voting for which premier you would want in power, you will vote for the MLA candidates in your district. Although the three major parties for BC are the BC Greens, BC Liberal, and BC NDP, some districts have candidates for parties such as the Christian Heritage Party of BC, the BC Conservative Party, and Independent.

Each winning candidate will receive a seat in the Legislature Assembly, which will be counted towards the party the MLA is representing. The party with the most seats will win the election.

Mark your calendars—Election Day is October 24.


Lauryn is a fourth-year Digital Media Studies student. She has had her work featured in the Powell River Peak, Portal Magazine, and The Discourse. When she’s not looking up fun facts about bees, she’s probably fantasying about Portland, Oregon.

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