You may not recognize the face, but chances are pretty good that at some time or another in the past 15 years, you’ve at least had the occasion to speak with Dianne Lineker.
As the constituency assistant to MLA Don McRae – and Stan Hagen before him – Dianne has been on the “front line” of local politics for the past decade and a half.
For all intents and purposes, she’s the screening process – the one who filters out the calls, prior to them getting into Don’s voicemail in-box.
Dianne will start her 16th year in the position on September 11, and she says there’s rarely been a dull moment in the first 15 years.
“It’s a very diverse job – you never know what somebody is going to phone the MLA office for. It could be anything from having trouble with Medical Services Plan, to having trouble with zoning… all kinds of things.”
And all kinds of characters.
There have been many lively protests outside the Fifth Street office, none any more original than when a group of farmers got together to voice concerns regarding Bill 24 – the Agriculture Land Commission Act. The farmers bombarded the MLA’s office, live chickens in hand.
“They were very passionate. Don had a good conversation with them and tried to assure them that things weren’t going to be as bad as they anticipated…”
The politicians help when they can, but sometimes, people just want to vent – and that’s when Dianne offers an empathetic ear.
“We have to be very open to that. A lot of people will phone the office and go on and on about a lot of things that are causing stress in their life, and they feel the government is responsible for. But they seem more relieved after they can just tell someone what their problems are.”
She said she has never had a protest get out of hand, but there are some safeguards in place, should anyone get unruly.
She has an emergency button she can press – a hotline that goes directly to the RCMP.
She said in her 15 years, she’s only had to use it twice.
With an election looming, and particularly with McRae already declaring his intention to resign at the end of this term, Dianne’s future is in limbo.
“Well, hopefully, as the case was when I went from Stan to Don, they can see the experience that I bring to the job, and the continuity. And hopefully, if it’s a BC Liberal that wins, they’ll want to take me on next time.”
Of course, there is another option. Dianne became a grandmother for the ninth time earlier this month.
“Retirement is certainly an option. I’ve gone into the grandparenting business, from 2005 on… and that is the best job in the whole wide world.”
Her current career could rank second.
“Being able to work for two great men, in both Stan and Don, has been very rewarding.”