Rob Fleming

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The Honourable
Rob Fleming
MLA
Rob Fleming.jpg
Minister of Education of British Columbia
Assumed office
July 18, 2017
Preceded by Mike Bernier
Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly
for Victoria-Swan Lake
Victoria-Hillside (2005-2009)
Assumed office
May 17, 2005
Preceded by Sheila Orr
Personal details
Born (1971-11-11) November 11, 1971 (age 45)
Windsor, Ontario
Political party New Democrat
Spouse(s) Maura Parte
Children Rory, Jack
Residence Victoria, British Columbia
Profession Communications consulting

Rob Fleming is a Canadian politician who represents the riding of Victoria-Swan Lake in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. Fleming was elected the British Columbia New Democratic Party Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the district of Victoria-Hillside in the 2005 British Columbia general election, defeating incumbent British Columbia Liberal Party MLA Sheila Orr. He was re-elected on May 12, 2009 in the renamed constituency of Victoria-Swan Lake. In the 38th Parliament Fleming was the New Democrat critic for Advanced Education, sat on the Select Standing Committee on Education, and introduced two education-related private member bills: the Private Post-Secondary Accountability and Student Protection Act, 2007 and the Restoring Credibility to Universities Act, 2008. He was also assigned to the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts and introduced the Payday Lending Act, 2006 which sought to regulate the conditions of payday loans and led to the government adopting the Business Practices and Consumer Protection (Payday Loans) Amendment Act a year later.

In the 39th Parliament Fleming became the NDP's environment critic. He introduced the Cosmetic Pesticide and Carcinogen Control Act and sat on the subsequent Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides which investigated potential bans or regulations on pesticides used for cosmetic purposes. Fleming also introduced the Species at Risk Protection Act, after the government delayed a promise to review its species-at-risk legislation, and the Sustainable Development Indicators and Reporting Act, 2011 which sought to create a Sustainable Development Board to report on provincial sustainability-related indicators. Fleming sat on the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives which considered the petition seeking the repeal of the Harmonized Sales Tax.

In the 40th Parliament Fleming was appointed to be the NDP's education critic. He introduced the private member bill Youth Voter Registration Act that would have allowed provisional voter registration of people between the ages of 16 and 18.

Background[edit]

Before attending the University of Victoria, Fleming spent two years (1993–95) at Camosun College which later awarded him the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award.[1] At the University of Victoria he was elected the president of the UVic Students' Society. He was active in acquiring a universal access to BC Transit for students through a U-Pass system.[2] Fleming graduated with a bachelor of arts with a major in history. Following graduation, he started work with a communication consulting business. He stood as a candidate for Victoria City Council in the 1999 municipal elections as a member of the Victoria Civic Electors which ran a joint slate of seven candidates with the Green Party. Fleming finished third in voting, securing him a seat on the eight-member council.[3] Fleming was re-elected to the council in 2002 election. He traveled to El Salvador, in 2004, as part of a 13-member delegation of election observers to monitor the presidential election.[4]

While on Victoria City Council, Fleming gained a reputation for being a "fiscally prudent democratic socialist".[5] He supported the legalization of secondary suites,[6] the construction of the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (but voted against the option to have it privately operated),[7] and amendments to bylaws to target aggressive panhandling.[8] As a director on the board of the Capital Regional District, Fleming was vice-chair of the CRD Housing Corporation where he advocated for an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.[9] He sat on the Victoria Regional Transit Commission and has advocated for transit service expansion and light rail in the Capital Region. He was a member of the Provincial Capital Commission and was the only member to vote against, due to concerns with the long-term lease agreement and risks involved, replacing the plant and animal conservatory Crystal Gardens with the multi-media tourist attraction, The B.C. Experience, which filed for bankruptcy protection three months after opening.[10]

Provincial politics[edit]

With the 2005 BC general election still a year away, Fleming declared his interest in seeking the NDP nomination in the Victoria-Hillside riding.[11] Within a few months, former-MLA Steve Orcherton, who had won the riding in 1996 but lost in 2001, declared his candidacy for the NDP nomination. The primary was billed as a contest between the hard line "old-school union man" Orcherton versus the "new wave" moderate Fleming which was seen as the symbolic struggle that was occurring throughout the party.[12] Fleming won the NDP nomination in January and began campaigning in April for the general election. Fleming was one of five candidates across the province who were endorsed by the Conservation Voters of British Columbia.[13] In the May general election Fleming defeated the incumbent BC Liberal Sheila Orr and Green Party candidate and small business owner Steve Filipovic. Fleming resigned from his position as Victoria city councillor to become a New Democrat Member of the Legislative Assembly, as part of the Official Opposition.

38th Parliament[edit]

In the 38th Parliament, Fleming and chaired the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts and part way through the 2nd session he was assigned to the Select Standing Committee on Education which focused on adult literacy. He introduced several pieces of legislation, including the Payday Lending Act, 2006, which sought to license payday lenders and regulate the conditions of payday loans, including plain language rules, rights to cancellation, signage requirements.[14][15][16] While Solicitor General John Les stated he was in favour of many of the regulations, he felt the bill was premature and that changes to the federal Criminal Code were required before proceeding with such regulations, despite other provinces already having passed similar legislation.[17] The bill was granted first reading on May 8, 2006 but without the government support the bill was not adopted. However, a year later, a similar bill, introduced by Les, the Business Practices and Consumer Protection (Payday Loans) Amendment Act, 2007 was introduced and adopted concurrent with federal amendments to the Criminal Code.[18]

Fleming was assigned the role of critic for advanced education. He introduced the Private Post-Secondary Accountability and Student Protection Act, 2007 which was intended to increase the accountability of private career training institutions and increasing the enforcement abilities of the Degree Quality Assessment Board.[19] He spoke out against deregulation that allowed diploma mills like Rutherford University and Kingston College which advertised to foreign students.[20][21][22] He introduced the Restoring Credibility to Universities Act, 2008 which sought to repeal the World Trade University Canada Establishment Act and portions of the 2007 Education Statutes Amendment Act concerning private post-secondary institutions.[23] Fleming also took on the role as the NDP tourism critic and objected to Tourism Minister Bill Bennett's decision not to participate in the National Vigil Project (a light display honouring Canadians killed World War One) due to costs[24] and, in response to funding cuts to Tourism BC, he criticized government self-promotional advertising.[25]

39th Parliament[edit]

While his riding was re-aligned to create Victoria-Swan Lake, Fleming easily won re-election facing no opposition for the NDP nomination[26] and receiving 61% of the votes in the May 2009 general election. In the 39th Parliament, his party once again formed the Official Opposition to a BC Liberal majority government. Party leader Carole James assigned him the role of environment critic with the intent of re-casting the party's image on environmental issues following the party's negatively received campaign plank of repealing the carbon tax.[27] Fleming, and the party, stopped calling for a repeal of the carbon tax and instead emphasized a more nuanced position in providing alternatives which would improve the tax.[28] He linked planned increases in transit fares to global warming and spoke out against fee increases at provincial park campsites.[29][30]

In November 2009, and again in April 2010, he introduced the Cosmetic Pesticide and Carcinogen Control Act (Bill M-203) which would have prohibited the sale or use of cosmetic pesticides, other than those deemed low-risk.[31][32] The Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides was struck, with Fleming as deputy chair, to investigate the potential for regulating or banning the use or sale of pesticides used for cosmetic purposes. They first convened in July 2011 and reported in 2012.

In the August 2009 Throne Speech the BC government committed to striking a task force on the topic of species-at-risk, but with no action since then, Fleming introduced his own Species at Risk Protection Act (Bill M-207) in May 2010, based on similar legislation in Ontario.[33][34] The Minister of Environment Barry Penner responded in June by striking a ten member species-at-risk task force consisting of academics and representatives of industry and non-profit organizations, who were told to make recommendations to directly cabinet.[35] The task force report was submitted in January 2011 but, with the government not making the report public, Fleming re-introduced his legislation (Bill M-211) in June 2011 (the report was made public less than a month later).

In addition, Fleming participated in two committees. In the first two sessions he was deputy chair of the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills, which met once in each session to review private bills. He was member of the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives, the committee that only met twice, both times in September 2010, to deal with a petition seeking the repeal of the Harmonized Sales Tax; Fleming and the three other New Democratic Party members voted to recommend introducing the draft HST Extinguishment Act into the Legislative Assembly, while the five BC Liberal members voted to initiate the British Columbia sales tax referendum, 2011. During the BC NDP leadership election to replace Carole James, Fleming supported Mike Farnworth,[36] though Adrian Dix eventually won. Dix kept Fleming as the critic for Environment. When Parliament re-convened for a fourth session Fleming introduced another private member bill, the Sustainable Development Indicators and Reporting Act, 2011 (Bill M-207) which sought to create a Sustainable Development Board to measure and report on indicators of BC's economic, environmental and social sustainability.

40th Parliament[edit]

With the May 2013 election approaching, the 41 year old Fleming sought re-election in the Victoria-Swan Lake riding. He defeated the BC Liberal candidate, small-business owner Christina Bates, and the BC Green candidate Spencer Malthouse.[37] Despite his win and favourable polling, Fleming's party lost the general election and, again, formed the official opposition. Fleming was critical of party leader Adrian Dix's positive-only campaigning during the election, partly blamed for the upset loss, saying that it allowed their opponents to define who they were and then attack that without response.[38] Dix appointed Fleming to the role of education critic, moving his previous role of environment critic to Spencer Chandra Herbert.[39] Upon Dix, resignation as leader of the BC NDP, Fleming was considered as a potential candidate[40][41] and actively considered seeking the role.[42] However, after both John Horgan and Mike Farnworth announced their intention run, Fleming decided he would not.[43] Fleming later endorsed Horgan's candidacy.[44] Horgan went on to become the leader and kept Fleming in his education critic role.[45] In December 2015, Fleming fired his constituency assistant who was subsequently arrested, in July 2016, for defrauding the Victoria-Swan Lake constituency office of $120,420 since March 2009.[46]

Fleming sponsored the private member bill Youth Voter Registration Act, 2015 (Bill M-205) which sought allow provisional voter registration of people between the ages or 16 and 18, one of the recommendations of a 2011 report by the Chief Electoral Officer.[47] The bill was not advanced and he re-introduced it in February 2017 as the Election (Increasing Youth Participation) Amendment Act, 2017 (Bill M-218).

41st Parliament[edit]

For the 2017 general election Fleming was challenged by digital media management consultant Stacey Piercey for the BC Liberal Party, Vancouver medical researcher Chris Maxwell for the Green Party, and David Costigane for the Vancouver Island Party.[48]

Electoral history[edit]

British Columbia general election, 2017: Victoria-Swan Lake
** Preliminary results — Not yet official **
Party Candidate Votes %
New Democratic Rob Fleming 12,181 53.36
Green Christopher Alan Maxwell 6,826 29.90
Liberal Stacey Piercey 3,642 15.95
Vancouver Island Party David Costigane 181 0.79
Total valid votes 22,830 100.00
Source: Elections BC[49]
British Columbia general election, 2013: Victoria-Swan Lake
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
New Democratic Rob Fleming 12350 54.49 $82,519
Green Spencer Alexander Malthouse 5260 23.21 $5,028
Liberal Christina Bates 5055 22.30 $36,719
Total valid votes 22665 100.00
Total rejected ballots 143 0.63
Turnout 22808 58.07
Source: Elections BC[50]
British Columbia general election, 2009: Victoria-Swan Lake
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
New Democratic Rob Fleming 13,119 61 +4 $75,655
Liberal Jesse McClinton 5,754 27 −2 $36,875
Green David Wright 2,628 12 0 $760
Refederation Bob Savage 174 0.8 n/a $750
Total Valid Votes 21,675 100
Total Rejected Ballots 153 0.7
Turnout 21,828 57
British Columbia general election, 2005: Victoria-Hillside
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
New Democratic Rob Fleming 13,926 57 $72,755
Liberal Sheila Orr 7,042 29 $117,576
Green Steve Filipovic 2,934 12 $4,899
Democratic Reform Jim McDermott 363 1.5 $5,652
Work Less Katrina Jean Herriot 167 0.7 $100
Total Valid Votes 24,432 100
Total Rejected Ballots 216 0.9
Turnout 24,648 63

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Camosun grads to be feted tonight". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. June 13, 2008. p. A5. 
  2. ^ "U-Pass early birds get free two weeks from Transit". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. August 17, 1999. p. D6. 
  3. ^ Harnett, Cindy (November 21, 1999). "Lowe sweeps to win". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. A3. 
  4. ^ Curtis, Malcolm (April 4, 2004). "El Salvador elections calm, says observer from Victoria". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. B2. 
  5. ^ Harnett, Cindy (November 29, 2000). "Backroom Boys: They're young, idealistic and worked the election from left, right and centre". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. A5. 
  6. ^ Harnett, Cindy (March 6, 2000). "Poverty fight needs better strategies, experts say". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. C3. 
  7. ^ Harnett, Cindy (December 14, 2001). "Council gives green light to privately operated arena". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. B3. 
  8. ^ Cleverley, Bill (August 16, 2002). "Panhandling bylaw change beaten". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. C2. 
  9. ^ Cleverley, Bill (April 24, 2003). "Voters could be polled on housing levy in election". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. B4. 
  10. ^ Curtis, Malcolm (June 17, 2004). "Councillor slams Garden decision". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. B1. 
  11. ^ Curtis, Malcolm (July 23, 2004). "Councillor seeks provincial NDP nomination". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. B2. 
  12. ^ Smyth, Michael (July 23, 2004). "Can comeback kids shake off their hardline past?". The Province. Vancouver. p. A10. 
  13. ^ Curtis, Malcolm (May 18, 2005). "A return to NDP roots". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. B3. 
  14. ^ Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (2006). Bill M 206 — 2006 Payday Lending Act, 2006. Queen's Printer, Victoria, BC. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  15. ^ Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (2007). Bill M 209 — 2007 Payday Lending Act, 2007. Queen's Printer, Victoria, BC. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  16. ^ Bermingham, John (May 9, 2006). "Changes eyed for payday loans". The Province. Vancouver. p. A28. 
  17. ^ Rud, Jeff; Lindsay Kines (May 9, 2006). "Regulate payday loans, NDP tells government". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. A4. 
  18. ^ "Payday lenders targeted". Victoria News. April 25, 2007. p. 6. 
  19. ^ Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (2007). Bill M 217 — 2007 Private Post-Secondary Accountability and Student Protection Act, 2007. Queen's Printer, Victoria, BC. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  20. ^ Steffenhagen, Janet (January 10, 2007). "B.C. 'will protect' foreign students from scams". The Vancouver Sun. p. B5. 
  21. ^ Steffenhagen, Janet (February 21, 2007). "NDP calls for tough action against owner of closed private post- secondary schools". The Vancouver Sun. p. B3. 
  22. ^ Steffenhagen, Janet (June 11, 2008). "B.C. blacklists private university". The Vancouver Sun. p. B1. 
  23. ^ Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (2008). Bill M 225 — 2008 Restoring Credibility to Universities Act, 2008. Queen's Printer, Victoria, BC. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  24. ^ "B.C. balks at international tribute to WW1 soldiers". The Province. Vancouver. November 9, 2008. p. A18. Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  25. ^ Kines, Lindsay (December 29, 2008). "Tourism agencies brace for cuts". The Vancouver Sun. p. A2. 
  26. ^ "Fleming receives NDP nod again". Victoria News. February 16, 2009. p. 1. 
  27. ^ Shaw, Rob (June 12, 2009). "Few changes in NDP's critic shuffle". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. A3. 
  28. ^ Fowlie, Jonathan (June 30, 2009). "Carbon tax to rise by 50 per cent". The Vancouver Sun. p. C2. 
  29. ^ Fleming, Rob (October 31, 2009). "Higher transit fares promote global warming". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. A15. 
  30. ^ Shaw, Rob (March 20, 2010). "Fee increases follow 2 years of park cuts". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. A3. 
  31. ^ Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (2009). Bill M 206 — 2009 Cosmetic Pesticide and Carcinogen Control Act, 2009. Queen's Printer, Victoria, BC. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  32. ^ Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (2010). Bill M 203 — 2010 Cosmetic Pesticide and Carcinogen Control Act, 2010. Queen's Printer, Victoria, BC. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  33. ^ Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (2010). Bill M 207 — 2010 Species at Risk Protection Act, 2010. Queen's Printer, Victoria, BC. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  34. ^ Lavoie, Judith (June 1, 2010). "Species-at-risk bill introduced; Victoria NDP MLA Fleming hopeful Liberals will support his initiative". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. A4. 
  35. ^ Lavoie, Judith (June 11, 2010). "Species-at-risk task force appointed". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. A4. 
  36. ^ Slavin, Kyle (March 16, 2011). "Saanich NDP MLAs support Farnworth for party leader". Saanich News. Saanich, British Columbia. Retrieved June 10, 2015. 
  37. ^ Arrais, Pedro (May 15, 2013). "Fleming keeps his riding in NDP column once again". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. B4. 
  38. ^ Bailey, Ian (September 20, 2013). "Dix insists nice guys finish first". The Globe and Mail. p. S1. 
  39. ^ Palmer, Vaughn (June 15, 2013). "New Democrats settle back into role of opposing government; Liberals provide ready-made material for the opposition in the form of staff pay hikes and wheelchair fees". The Vancouver Sun. p. A5. 
  40. ^ Wells, Kyle (September 23, 2013). "Victoria MLAs eye NDP leadership". Victoria News. Victoria, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  41. ^ Meissner, Dirk (December 24, 2013). "NDP leader race to heat up in 2014". The Globe and Mail. p. S2. 
  42. ^ Slavin, Kyle (January 21, 2014). "Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Fleming considering NDP leadership". Victoria News. Victoria, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  43. ^ DeRosa, Katie (March 23, 2014). "Rob Fleming decides not to run for NDP leadership". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. A2. 
  44. ^ "Greater Victoria MLAs, MPs line up behind Horgan in B.C. NDP leadership bid". Victoria News. Victoria, British Columbia. April 17, 2014. p. 1. 
  45. ^ Palmer, Vaughn (July 24, 2014). "The Opposition prepares to join legislative fray; Portfolio shuffle". The Vancouver Sun. p. B6. 
  46. ^ Dickson, Louise (March 16, 2017). "Ex-constituency aide gets house arrest; Stole $120,420.61 from office of NDP MLA Rob Fleming". Times-Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. A3. 
  47. ^ "Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on Recommendations for Legislative Change" (PDF). Elections BC. November 2011. ISBN 9780772665416. Retrieved April 26, 2017. 
  48. ^ "Meet The Candidates; Election May 9". Times Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. April 30, 2017. p. D1. 
  49. ^ "2017 Provincial General Election Preliminary Voting Results". Elections BC. Retrieved 11 May 2017. 
  50. ^ "Statement of Votes - 40th Provincial General Election" (PDF). Elections BC. Retrieved 17 May 2017. 

External links[edit]

Provincial Government of John Horgan
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Mike Bernier Minister of Education
July 18, 2017–
Incumbent