1973 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 30th Parliament

The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.

Official Report of




Afternoon Sitting

[ Page I ]


Routine proceedings

Speech from the Throne. Hon. W.S. Owen — 1

Married Persons Equality Act (Bill No. 1) Hon. Mr. Macdonald.

Introduction and first reading — 3

Motion Adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of public importance.

Mr. Chabot — 3

Hon. Mr. Barrett — 3

Mr. Speaker's ruling — 4


The House met at 3 p.m.

This being the first day of the third session of the 30th Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia for the dispatch of business, pursuant to a proclamation of the Hon. Walter Stewart Owen, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, dated July 31, 1973, Hon. Members took their seats.


His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor having entered the House and being seated upon the throne, was pleased to deliver the following gracious speech.

HON. W.S. OWEN (Lieutenant-Governor): Mr. Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly, although I officiated at the closing of the Spring Session of the Legislative Assembly, this is the first time that I have had occasion as Lieutenant-Governor to address you on opening day. I express the earnest hope that the wise counsel of my Ministers, and the support of the Legislature, will result in continued progress and development for our Province during my term of office.

I desire to express at this time, on your behalf and on that of all British Columbia, our gratitude to my predecessor, Colonel the Hon. John R. Nicholson, for his unselfish and devoted service to the people of our province.

Last May I was pleased to administer the oaths of office to the Hon. Graham Richard Lea, Minister of Highways; the Hon. Gary Vernon Lauk, Minister of Industrial Development, Trade, and Commerce; the Hon. Jack Radford, Minister of Recreation and Conservation; the Hon. Lorne Nicolson, Member of the Executive Council Without Portfolio; and to the Hon. Phyllis Florence Young, Member of the Executive Council Without Portfolio.

During the past year our province welcomed a number of distinguished visitors. I note that in April the Right Hon. E.G. Whitlam, Prime Minister of Australia, was in Vancouver, and was welcomed to the province by the Hon. the Premier. On June 23 and June 24, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, visited Vancouver and Victoria and was a guest at our Government House. In August the Right Hon. Lord Mais, the Lord Mayor of London, and the Lady Mais, spent several days in the province as guests of the provincial government and they were most impressed with our scenery and with the warmth of the welcome extended to them by all with whom they came into contact. We were also honoured on August 13 with a visit to Victoria by the Right Hon. Norman E. Kirk, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Mrs. Kirk.

It is my pleasure to welcome, among others, to the assembly this afternoon two distinguished citizens of British Columbia, Chief and Mrs. William Matthews of the Haida nation of the Queen Charlotte Islands.

In August, British Columbia hosted, in New Westminster and Burnaby, the second Canada Summer Games. Thousands of athletes from all the provinces and the Territories competed and the games were an outstanding success. I am pleased to observe that our own province did remarkably well in the games and were declared the winners.

The death occurred on July 25, 1973, of the Right Hon. Louis Stephen St. Laurent. Mr. St. Laurent served as Prime Minister of Canada from November 15, 1948, until June 21, 1957. We all remember the distinguished service that he rendered to Canada and we mourn his passing.

William James Asselstine, who was a former Minister of Mines, Minister of Trade and Industry, and Minister of Labour, died on August 21, 1973. Mr. Asselstine was elected from the Atlin Electoral District and served the province well.

Last June the Hon. William Andrew Cecil Bennett resigned as Member for the South Okanagan Electoral District in the legislative assembly. Mr. Bennett served the province for many years as a Member of the Legislative Assembly and for 20 years as Premier of the province. At this time I would like to pay a special tribute to Mr. Bennett for the great contributions he made to this province, and to wish him well.

At the by-election held last week, William Richards Bennett was elected to represent the South Okanagan Electoral District. I extend best wishes to the newly elected Member who will take his place shortly in the House.

The past few months since I prorogued the House on April 18 last have been eventful, but no single action of my government will have more importance than its participation in the Western Opportunities Conference in Calgary last July. This meeting of the First Ministers of Canada and the Western Provinces was significant, not only for the precedent that was set, but for the clear and unmistakable start to a new role in the Confederation for the West. Canada, the West, and our province in particular, should feel proud of the role my Ministers played in that Conference and we are confident that this new stance, this new togetherness, augurs well for our nation.

Supporting this new thrust I am pleased to praise formally a number of British Columbians who have made significant donations of land to the Crown. These actions from these pioneer families speak highly of their love for the province, and as we see this return of the land to the people, my government is hopeful that this will become a practice and that other British Columbians will emulate this selfless

[ Page 2 ]

action and increase our natural heritage through our growing parks system. I am therefore pleased to express our gratitude to John and Caroline Bergenham, Mrs. R.W. Starratt, Truman Dagnus Locheed, Clifford A. and Dorothy A. Gorby, Henry Gordon Ruckle, Mrs. Margaret Jane Pearse, and an anonymous donor who gave several acres of land near Hope.

Recently, my government has seen fit to raise the Mincome level of the province, to make provision for a programme of free prescription drugs for the elderly, and to extend the benefits of an income guarantee to many of our citizens between 60 and 65. We trust that these unprecedented moves will be recognized by our sister provinces and Canada and that our social security and health programmes will be fully supported.

In Ottawa last May, my Premier, addressing his first Federal-Provincial Conference, forecast my government's concern and interest by directing all Canadians' attention to these social security and health problems. Whatever may have been the inadequacies of the past, my government desires to bring a new direction for British Columbia inside the Canadian Confederation and looks forward to open lines of communication with the federal government and provincial governments to ensure the cooperation and understanding which is necessary to meet the challenges of the day. In many cases these can best be met without undue regard to hard and fast jurisdictional lines so as to develop and execute national and provincial goals and policies designed to build a better Canada and provide a more meaningful life for all Canadians. Two of these national programmes which require a joint commitment by both levels of government and a high degree of federal-provincial cooperation are the social security system in Canada and health care.

Since the close of the second session many of the standing committees of the House have been very active and the results of their labours will be before you shortly, I am confident that their work and advice, based on a real dialogue with our citizens, will provide an excellent base for legislative action.

In this session you will be asked to direct your attention firstly to the urgent problems of agriculture and labour. My government has undertaken considerable study and evaluation of this province's agriculture industry. The very real problems of world food shortages and rising food costs, coupled with high investment costs and low farm income, are most apparent, and positive measures must be taken to strengthen and expand this vital food industry. The significance of the British Columbia agriculture and food industry to the ever-changing economy of this province cannot be overlooked, and action must be prompt to ease the problems involved.

Therefore, you will be asked to consider legislation designed to rationalize credit systems of primary agriculture, and to encourage secondary and tertiary agriculture industries.

The government intends to join with producers to minimize the effect of price fluctuation at the market place, and to provide means of achieving some stabilization of farm income.

New measures will be introduced which will provide for debt protection for the family farm under certain distress circumstances, due to natural calamities such as adverse weather. More control over the possible introduction and spread of infectious and contagious animal diseases will be considered.

These measures and others are to be presented for your consideration for the specific intent of providing incentive and encouragement to the agriculture industry of this province.

You will be asked to consider a new labour code for British Columbia which will establish an improved framework of collective bargaining and dispute settlement. Industrial relations is essentially a term descriptive of human relations in the work environment. Healthy cooperative human relationships cannot be built on punitive concepts, distrust, or an unyielding bureaucracy, and remain compatible with a free society.

The legislation, combining many statutes, will offer a variety of positive aids to collective bargaining which will be conciliatory in nature. Similarly, more effective machinery will be established to ensure that settlement of disputes will occur in a just and expeditious manner, free from disruption to the economy. Completely new concepts are to be put .forward in an effort to improve the industrial relations climate in the province.

The legislation will also recognize the sanctity of individual religious beliefs. A spirit of cooperation will be required by all those dedicated to free collective bargaining to match this new thrust and the legislation will contain a real and positive challenge to all sectors of our community to see these objectives attained.

As my predecessor said on the occasion of the opening of the second session of the 30th parliament in January, we are mindful of the high level of expectations that our citizens have from governments across the nation. To meet these expectations various announcements of government plans have been made since that time. Accordingly, in two important fields, namely consumer affairs and housing, you will be asked to consider departmental Acts and powers during these next few weeks.

In addition, there will be an extensive legislative programme from the Department of Mines, and further amendments to both the Public Schools Act and the Municipal Act. Pension legislation will again be offered for amendment to provide. Improved ' ed benefits for widows of superannuants. The public

[ Page 3 ]

service labour relations bill introduced in the last session will be brought forward again for your consideration.

These bills, together with others that will be forthcoming, reflect the growing complexities and burdens of government in these challenging times. Your advice will be required more frequently, as predicted last January. Your work, together with the important work of the standing committees of the House, must produce the solutions to ease the pressures and problems that our citizens have and, as well, must ensure that the voices of all our citizens are heard loud and clear through their legislators.

The keen awareness and desire of all our people to protect our province when and wherever environmental damage may occur is a continuing and pressing force on all our endeavours. The public's growing understanding of the importance of ecological matters demands that the fullest investigation and dialogue take place well before any proposed event. Accordingly, the government has made plans to commence a full dialogue on energy sources. At the end of this year a seminar will start this dialogue and my government has ensured that in this first event all points of view on nuclear power are represented.

The government has invited Professor Hannes Alfven, Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Plasma Physics, Stockholm, Sweden; J.L. Gray, president, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Ottawa; and Dr. John Gofman, cardiodynamics, Vida Medical Systems, Dublin, California, to attend this seminar on nuclear power — its advantages, dangers, costs, and alternate sources of energy. All citizens will have access to these meetings. It is my government's hope that this process will be the beginning of a new method of ensuring and facilitating citizen participation.

Mr. Speaker and Hon. Members, I leave you now. I pray that divine guidance will attend your labours.

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, in order to prevent mistakes, I have obtained a copy of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor's speech.


Hon. A.B. Macdonald moves introduction and first reading of Bill No. 1 intituled the Married Persons Equality Act.

Motion approved.

Bill No. 1 read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): Mr. Speaker, it has long been a British parliamentary practice to allow the introduction of Bill No. I prior to dealing with the people's business.

I would now like to introduce a matter of major public importance. I therefore move, Mr. Speaker, seconded by the Member for Cariboo (Mr. Fraser), adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of urgent public importance. I have accompanying this motion a very brief statement dealing with a subject matter which I would like to read to you, Mr. Speaker, and make a copy available to you as well. It's the threatened B.C. Railway strike, scheduled for 8 p.m. today.

It will have drastic economic effects on central and northeastern British Columbia as well as for farmers in the lower mainland, dependent upon feed grains moving on this railway. In view of the foregoing, it is imperative that immediate action be taken to avert this shutdown.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I would like to consider the matter.

HON. D. BARRETT (Premier): Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my friend who is trying to help the people of British Columbia, I find it difficult to deal with a problem that is not yet here. As a matter of fact, deliberations are going on at this very moment, and negotiations between the railway and the unions are still going on.

It is presumptuous, perhaps — I hope not hopeful on the Member's part — to believe that there is a strike. I don't see how we can deal with an event that has not yet taken place and, hopefully, will not take place.

MR. CHABOT: Just on that point, Mr. Speaker: the Premier is the president of the B.C. Railway; is he suggesting that the wage increase being demanded by the UTU will be met? Is that what he's suggesting? Because the UTU…

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, please.

MR. CHABOT: …has said at 1 p.m. this afternoon….

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Would the Hon. Member be seated for a minute? We're not to indulge in debate…

MR. CHABOT: No, no.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to point out to Hon. Members that I've looked at the question raised by the Hon. Member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot). It appears, first of all, that he's anticipating something that he says may happen or may not

[ Page 4 ]

happen. We do not know that at this particular moment. The urgency of it will probably be clearer sometime within the next few days.

I point out further that under our rules today is a day which deals with pro forma matters and we do not enter upon the ordinary daily routine of business today. Standing order 35 deals with that point, as you'll note in subsection 1; after daily ordinary routine business this motion is usually made.

Secondly, his Honour has just delivered the throne speech, which will be given immediate consideration under the rules of parliament. This means that each Member is entitled, upon entering that debate, to deal with any urgent matter that affects the province within the next few days. Consequently, I cannot see that this falls within the rule of urgency of debate because that urgency of debate is available to the Members almost immediately following today's pro forma proceedings.

MR. CHABOT: At 1 p.m. this afternoon the union spokesman stated that unless there is a substantial increase in the…

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Order, order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Hon. Member is seeking to negotiate an agreement on the floor of this House. I would suggest that I've made a ruling to the Hon. Members that this matter can be debated in the next few days and therefore it does not comply with the urgency of debate under which the Member seeks to bring it. And I so rule.

MR. CHABOT: I would like very much to avert a strike of the B.C. Railway; there have been statements made this morning…

Interjections by some Hon. Members.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, please. Would the Hon. Member be seated?

MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): Speaking to your decision, I would suggest, Sir, that the matter is urgent and it meets the test of rule 35, in that we are complying with the first opportunity to raise this matter before the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the Hon. Member please be seated?

MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me a minute; you are ~making a point of order on what? There's nothing before the House. Which one?

MRS. JORDAN: On your statement regarding the matter that was brought up, you mentioned that you…

MR. SPEAKER: I'm sorry, I've already ruled on the question. Would the Hon. Member be seated?

HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I move that the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, be taken into consideration at the next sitting of the House, and that this order have precedence over all other business, except introduction of bills, until disposed of.

Motion approved.

HON. E. HALL (Provincial Secretary): Mr. Speaker, I move that the Votes and Proceedings of this House be printed, being first perused by Mr. Speaker, and that he do appoint the printing thereof, and that no person but such as he shall appoint should presume to print the same.

Motion approved.

HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I move that the select standing committees of this House, as provided in standing order 68(l), be appointed for the present session, which said committees shall severally be empowered to examine and inquire into all such matters and things that shall be referred to them by this House and to report from time to time their observations and opinions thereon, with power to send for persons, papers and records; and that a special committee be appointed to prepare and report with all convenient speed lists of Members to compose the select standing committees of this House under standing order 68(l), said committee to be composed of the Hon. A.B. Macdonald, the Hon. R.M. Strachan, Messrs. Dent, Richter and D.A. Anderson, provided that the members of the standing committee on Agriculture, on Forestry and Fisheries, on Municipal Affairs and on Social Welfare and Education be named after the said committees appointed at the last session shall have severally made their respective reports to the House.

Motion approved.

MRS. D. WEBSTER (Vancouver South): Mr. Speaker, I move that Mr. Hartley Douglas Dent, Member for Skeena Electoral District, be appointed Deputy Speaker for this session of the Legislative Assembly.

Motion approved.

HON. MR. BARRETT: I ask leave of the House to

[ Page 5 ]

table reports, Mr. Speaker.

Leave granted.

HON. MR. BARRETT: I hereby table the report on the abridged Public Accounts of British Columbia for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1973; the Report on Engineering Methods and Contract Administration, British Columbia Railway, August, 1973; a review of the financial reporting and control practices of the British Columbia Railway, August, 1973; the report on the status and management controls and organization of British Columbia Railway, June, 1973.

Mr. Speaker, I move that Report No. 9 of the Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills adopted by this House on February 27, 1973, relating to oral questions be adopted by this House for the present session.

Motion approved.

HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I move that on each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this session there shall be two distinct sittings on each day — one from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and one from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and on each Friday there shall be one sitting from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., unless otherwise ordered.

Motion approved.

Hon. Mr. Barrett moves adjournment of the House.

Motion approved.

The House adjourned at 3:41 p.m.