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Babies in the house: B.C. MLA’s vote to allow small children on the legislature floor

WATCH: Politicians are known, on occasion, to act childish. Now children are going to be part of the B.C. legislature. The assembly changed the rules on Thursday to allow MLA’s to bring their babies, aged from newborn to two-years-old, into the chamber.   British Columbia and Alberta are now the only two legislatures in the country that allows children in the chambers while the house is sitting. Many members on all sides say it’s a long time coming.  Mary Griffin reports.

Question period in B.C. can be rowdy with lots of yelling. It's often compared to a playground.

And soon, children will be allowed on the floor of the chamber. On Thursday, provincial politicians took more than just a baby step forward into the 21st century as House Leader Mike Farnworth introduced Motion 5, Amendment to Standing Orders to Allow the Presence of Infants.

This motion allows babies, aged from newborn to two-years-old, to be with their parents in the legislature during a sitting for the first time.

As the first B.C. cabinet minister to have a baby, in 2001, Christy Clark brought her son Hamish to the work, but not into the chamber.

"It's important to me." Liberal MLA Linda Reid said. She had little time off during the birth of her first child and fought for change.

"We didn't have maternity leave. We were back here when my daughter was five days old."

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall is pregnant, and after she gives birth, and returns to work, intends to have her baby with her. "I'm sorry I'm getting a little emotional," she said.

She added the support of her colleagues on all sides of the house was reassuring. "It's really been such a wonderful and amazing experience. Whether it's my colleagues in caucus and cabinet, opposition colleagues, or stakeholders that I meet with regularly, everyone is excited to have a baby in the room," Mungall said.

 

The legislature approved the change, and can expect to see bundles of joy, as well as their parents, in the future.  Mungall made sure to thank her colleagues for their support.

"Thank you so much, everybody, for supporting this motion. I look forward to bringing the little one into this house."

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