1975 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 30th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes
The printed version remains the official version.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1975
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Afternoon sitting Statement Clarification of prorogation procedure. Mr. Speaker — 31
Mr. Bennett — 33
Mr. Speaker — 33
British Columbia Recycling Corporation Act (Bill 13). Mr. Steves.
Introduction and first reading. — 33
British Columbia Coastal Zone Commission Act (Bill 14). Mr. Steves
Introduction and first reading. — 33
BCR railcar shortage report. Mr. Phillips — 33
Purchase of Casa Loma property. Mr. D.A. Anderson — 34
Loan to BCR. Mr. Bennett — 35
CBC reference to Hydro committee. Hon. R.A. Williams — 35
Loan to BCR. Mr. Smith — 36
Negotiations for ferry purchase. Mr. Wallace — 36
Shortage of BCR railcars. Mr. Fraser — 36
Loan to BCR. Mr. McClelland — 36
Review of film classification. Mr. Wallace — 37
Safety in BCR car shop. Mr. Phillips — 37
Throne speech debate. Mr. Bennett — 37
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. D.E. LEWIS (Shuswap): Mr. Speaker, in the Speaker's gallery today, seated with my good wife, is one of the more progressive cooperative leaders in municipal government in this province, His Worship, the mayor of Salmon Arm, Martin Budziak.
MR. R.E. SKELLY (Alberni): Also in the gallery today are a group of students from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. It's a political science class who have come up to see how our system operates. They are under the direction of Mr. Matthew Smith. I would like the House to make them welcome.
HON. L.T. NIMSICK (Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources): Mr. Speaker, in the gallery today, along with my very good wife, are two very important people, my niece and nephew, Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Collier from Nelson.
MR. C. LIDEN (Delta): Mr. Speaker, we have a group of grade 10 students from Burnsview School in Delta in the gallery today. They had a very exciting trip on the ferry this morning when the storm blew a window in and covered the cafeteria with glass. They are here with their teachers, Raymond Hole and John Pateman. I ask the Members to make them welcome.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, in view of a patent misunderstanding of the constitutional procedure of prorogation which was evidenced on the part of some Members on Monday, and statements that have appeared in the press by one particular writer, I propose to mention the authority upon which prorogation takes place.
It was obvious to me that, perhaps without realizing it and the consequences involved for His Honour, the leader of the official opposition (Mr. Bennett) attempted, while the Sergeant-at-Arms with the mace was going to meet His Honour, to embark upon the routine proceedings of the House.
Last November 26 this House resolved that the House, at its rising, do stand adjourned until Mr. Speaker may be advised by the government that it is desired to prorogue the fourth session of the 30th parliament of the Province of British Columbia. The resolution adds that Mr. Speaker may give notice that he has been so advised, and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice and shall transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time.
I was advised by the Deputy Provincial Secretary on January 9 last that it was the desire of the government to prorogue the fourth session of the 30th parliament of British Columbia at 2 p.m. on February 17, 1975. Any communications from His Honour or the executive, as defined in sections 3 and 8 of the Constitution Act, are conveyed to the Speaker as a representative of the assembly from the Deputy Provincial Secretary who acts on the instruction of the executive council.
Under the British North America Act, section 9, the executive government and authority of and over Canada is declared to continue and be vested in the Queen, and the royal prerogatives continue under our Constitution Act.
In section 17, the royal prerogative is declared as follows — that is, in our Act: "Nothing in the last preceding section alters or abridges the power of the Crown to prorogue or dissolve the Legislative Assembly."
At the same time, the Lieutenant-Governor by proclamation summoned the fifth session of the 30th parliament.
Now Redlich's Procedure of the House of Commons, volume 2, at page 66 states:
"Prorogation is a solemn act of the Crown, putting a legal end to the proceedings of both houses of parliament. The immediate effect is to put an end to the sittings, to extinguish all the powers given by the House to its committees and to annul all the legislative stages of a bill which has not yet passed both houses and received royal assent."
I'm sure that you may not want to know, but I assure you that when the House and the Speaker is challenged as to the conformity that he has with the procedure of the constitution, I propose to inform the Members of that constitution. I would not have it said that I defied the constitution of this province.
The Legislative Assembly follows the laws and customs of the United Kingdom parliaments, so far as they are applicable. The prerogatives of the Crown are set out by our procedural guides, who are Erskine May, 18th edition, at page 255 and 256:
"The prorogation of Parliament is a prerogative act of the Crown. Just as parliament can only commence its deliberation at the time appointed by the Queen, so it cannot continue them any longer than she pleases." See also page 57.
It must be repeated: prorogation is a prerogative act of the Crown. The Crown, as we know, is a legal entity.
Wade and Phillips, Constitutional Law, sixth edition, at page 160 states:
"The term, the Crown, represents a sum total of governmental powers and is synonymous with the executive. In the exercise
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of some of the powers of the Crown, the sovereign may be called upon to exercise a personal discretion; others are exercised by the sovereign on the sole responsibility of Ministers."
The Queen and the Queen-in-council could, so far as prorogation is concerned, exercise the power through and on the advice of the Privy Council in England.
Dawson states in Democratic Government in Canada, fourth edition, at page 55: "The executive......
MR. H.A. CURTIS (Saanich and the Islands): Point of order.
MR. SPEAKER: I am speaking as the Speaker complaining about a breach of privilege.
MR. CURTIS: I wondered if you were the designated speaker on this item, Sir.
MR. SPEAKER: Would the Hon. Member be seated?
When the Speaker is likened to a dictator in regard to whether he obeyed the constitution on Monday, I think it is of some importance to the records, if nothing else, that the matter be straightened out because there are many thousands of people who gained the impression that I had disobeyed the constitution and this House, and I don't propose to sit further in this chair under such a cloud.
Dawson states in Democratic Government in Canada fourth edition, at page 55: "The executive, through the Governor-General, and sometimes on the initiative of the Prime Minister alone, summons, prorogues and dissolves the House."
See also: Anson's Law and Customs of the Constitution, part 1, pages 68 and 09; O.H. Phillips' Constitutional and Administrative Law, page 103; Keith's sixth edition of Ridges' Constitutional Law of England, page 43; Cheffins' Constitutional Process in Canada, page 98.
The prerogative power to prorogue is, as Cheffins points out, contained in the letters patent emanating from the Monarch given to Canada and to British Columbia. When Her Majesty is present at the prorogation of parliament, wherever that is, her command is signified by the Lord Chancellor or Speaker of the House of Lords.
As May states at page 57:
"The effect of prorogation is at once to suspend all business until parliament shall be summoned again. Not only are the sittings of parliament at an end, but all proceedings pending at the time are quashed."
Here in British Columbia in our unicameral House, the Lieutenant-Governor's purpose was indicated by message on January 9 last to the Speaker from the government, and that command was discharged by the Speaker calling Members together for the purpose of proroguing. The presence of His Honour was signalled last Monday at 2:08 p.m. No delay by the House could impede the due compliance with the command forthwith.
That a Member supposed he could delay His Honour at his own pleasure does not accord with our concepts of constitutional monarchy. The government, to be constitutionally correct, is the Queen and her advisers. Here it is the Lieutenant-Governor and the executive council together. It is presumptuous to assume that when the advice given to the Speaker is "from the government," this means other than the Crown and its advisers. The House resolution of November 26 last refers to the government.
The Speaker in the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster must terminate all proceedings when the House is signalled by Black Rod of the entry of the sovereign into parliament. For example, at Westminster on April 13, 1960, Black Rod called when the House was engaged in heated questioning of the Minister of Defence. It was a most unwelcome interruption, and uproar ensued. The Speaker, nonetheless, repaired to the bar of the House of Lords forthwith on a signal from Black Rod.
As Wade and Phillips say at page 173: "The prerogative powers of the Crown are, with very rare exceptions — for example, choice of a Prime Minister — today exercised by the government of the day." Also, at page 175 "...by virtue of the prerogative of the sovereign summons, prorogues and dissolves parliament."
When the sovereign sends Black Rod, the Speaker does not defy the command, but complies with the constitutional imperatives. Not having a Black Rod or a senate or upper chamber, the vice-regal representative enters our chamber to deliver his closing speech forthwith, escorted by the mace. I draw your attention to the fact that the mace was not on the desk. On every occasion in the past when the presence of His Honour has been announced to me, I have forthwith complied with the constitutional practice. To be criticized so unjustly by one with so little rudimentary knowledge of good manners or propriety can only be regarded as deserving of psychiatric treatment, rather than...
MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): Shame!
MR. SPEAKER: ...contempt proceedings.
In conclusion, if anyone proposes to abolish or ignore the constitution with respect to our Constitution Act, section 17, let him do it by
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constitutional means and put an amendment to the Constitution Act on the order paper.
MR. W.R. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, just on your ruling, or your explanation of your ruling of the other day, I'd like to comment that one of the most significant things the Speaker says on assuming the chair is:
May it please Your Honour, the House of Assembly have elected me as their Speaker, though I am but little able to fulfil the important duties thus assigned to me. If in the performance of those duties I should at any time fall into error, I pray that the faults be imputed to me and not to the Assembly whose servant I am, and who, through me, the better to enable them to discharge their duty to the Queen and to the country, humbly claim all their undoubted rights and privileges. Especially that they may have the freedom of speech in their debates, access to Your Honour's person at all seasonable times and that their proceedings may receive from Your Honour the most favourable interpretation.
I appreciate your comments, Mr. Speaker, but I, too, had no reason to embarrass His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor the other day. But raising a point in this House, in this assembly which is separate from the Crown, was indeed disturbing to me. But having been acknowledged by the Speaker, as I was — the door was not barred; it was left open, and no direction came from the Speaker's chair that the door be closed.... There is a separation; as the Speaker has said for many years.... He mentioned in accepting his own position as Speaker how many Speakers were killed preserving the rights of the House and of the assembly's rights against the Crown, that in this assembly, no matter if it's a point of order, once a Member has been recognized, that door must remain closed.
MR. SPEAKER: Not when the mace has left the table and is going to escort His Honour to this chamber.
MR. SPEAKER: Because as a matter of courtesy I wanted to know what you were raising your voice for. But that courtesy was obviously out of order, as the Hon. Member realizes. But I point out to the Hon. Member that if the constitution, as it exists, is accepted by you as being the truth — what I've told you today — then you cannot raise it as a point of order unless you are prepared to change the constitution and take away from the government the power to prorogue the House. If you wish to do that, say so; but if you accept the law as it is, then I think you should acknowledge that it is the law. You put me in an untenable position in this House if it is to be believed in the country that I have violated the constitution of British Columbia.
Introduction of bills.
RECYCLING CORPORATION ACT
On a motion by Mr. Steves, Bill 13, British Columbia Recycling Corporation Act, introduced, 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.
COASTAL ZONE COMMISSION ACT
On a motion by Mr. Steves, Bill 14, British Columbia Coastal Zone Commission Act, introduced, 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.
HON. L. NICOLSON (Minister of Housing): Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to file a report.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 1974 annual report of the Dunhill Development Corp. Ltd.
BCR RAILCAR SHORTAGE REPORT
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, could we have the report so it won't take up the time of the question period from the Premier and president of the railway (Hon. Mr. Barrett)? He said that today he would have a report on all the cars we have leased and all the cars we have purchased for the British Columbia Railway. Could we have that report before the question period?
HON. D. BARRETT (Premier): I took the question as notice. I have instructed the B.C. Rail to prepare such a report. I would ask that the Members give me in further detail all the questions they have on the cars; so that could be included. I do have some information that there was indeed a car shortage for a couple of days last week, but I've been told over the phone that that's been corrected. A detailed report of leased cars will be available by Monday, I've been instructed by the railway.
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Speaker, on the same point....
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MR. SPEAKER: Well, are you on question period now? I assume you are.
MR. PHILLIPS: No, on the same point.
MR. SPEAKER: Well, I'm sorry, but question period started at 2:26.
MR. PHILLIPS: The Premier said yesterday — it's here in Hansard: "I will give you a report tomorrow..."
HON. MR. BARRETT: Okay.
MR. PHILLIPS: "...of all the cars we have leased and all we have purchased." That's today.
HON. MR. BARRETT: I just gave you the report.
MR. PHILLIPS: Some report! Is that the way you run the railroad?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON (Victoria): To the Minister of Housing, Mr. Speaker. Has the Minister commenced an inquiry into the fact that the price...?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Hon. Members, I just recognized the Second Member for Victoria because he was the next person standing. He caught my eye.
MR. SPEAKER: I just indicated that question period started at 2:26.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: To the Minister of Housing....
MR. SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me. Was the Hon. Member for South Peace River (Mr. Phillips) on a point of order?
MR. R.H. McCLELLAND (Langley): Of course he was on a point of order.
MR. SPEAKER: I didn't get that impression.
MR. McClelland: Well, he was on a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: I would undertake to allow the Hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett) to be recognized next after the person I had already recognized, and who now has the floor.
MR. SPEAKER: I don't see that there is a point of order in this case.
MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. Member for South Peace River did not rise on a point of order.
MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. Member for Victoria has the floor on question period. It started at 2:26. We'll give a couple of minutes for all the interruptions in the sound.
PURCHASE OF CASA LOMA
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister
of Housing. Has the Minister commenced an inquiry into the fact
that the price Dunhill Development negotiated for the purchase
of the property on Kingsway owned by Casa Loma Motels Ltd. is
substantially above — approximately $1 million above — the
price that was asked for the same property a few months before
the negotiations with Dunhill commenced?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: No, I have not launched an inquiry.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. Is the Minister aware that this windfall profit was given to the owners of the property?
MR. SPEAKER: May I point out to the Hon. Members that the microphones throughout the House are not working?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: That's why I'm shouting, Mr. Speaker.
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MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, I'd like to ask whether the Minister is aware that this windfall profit was given to the owners of the property despite the fact that the tradesmen and subcontractors who built the building were forced to settle their claims for work done at 40 cents on the dollar on this project.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Mr. Speaker, all liens were settled before Dunhill Development purchased the Casa Loma project.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: As the Minister, Mr. Speaker, apparently knows something about this deal, could he tell us whether he was aware that the liens that were settled were settled at 40 cents on the dollar, and the people who received the purchase price and the substantial profit there from were those who originally owned the building and originally owed money on those particular contracts with subcontractors?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: I was aware that the purchase took place after all liens and settlements had been cleared from the title.
MR. BENNETT: Are we in question period, Mr. Speaker?
MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we are on question period. Either the Clerk or the Speaker can announce question period.
LOAN TO BCR
MR. BENNETT: My question is to the Premier as president of the railway. Yesterday the Premier said the $15 million is a short-term loan to the railroad to make up for the loss of revenue during the period of the work shortage. Could the Premier advise the term of the loan and the interest rate?
HON. MR. BARRETT: The terms are in the order-in-council.
MR. BENNETT: Because the Premier's answer was at variance with the order-in-council, which called it a grant, I was asking the terms and conditions of the loan that the Premier described in his answer yesterday.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, it is a loan which is repayable with no interest to the Crown.
MR. PHILLIPS: The order-in-council states specifically that this $15 million is a grant. Now, the Premier and president of the railway changed the terms of that grant in this Legislature yesterday afternoon to a loan. Mr. Speaker, in the dictionary I have, a grant is a gift or bestowal given by one having authority over it. There is no interest rate on a grant; a grant does not have to be repaid.
The president of the railway and Minister of Finance in this Legislature yesterday changed the terms of this order-in-council. I want to know, Mr. Speaker, if it's going to be a loan, what interest rate the British Columbia Railway is going to pay on this $15 million, when the loan will be repaid, and under what terms.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! You cannot ask for the answering of a question which has been answered twice already, yesterday and today.
MR. PHILLIPS: But the question hasn't been answered.
MR. BENNETT: Perhaps, then, if the Premier doesn't understand the difference between a grant and a loan, he may wish to change his answer of yesterday.
HON. MR. BARRETT: In answer to a question about the $15 million, it is a grant by way of a loan. It will be repaid. There is no interest.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, if that's not clear to the opposition, then that's their difficulty.
CBC REFERENCE TO
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS (Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources): Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was asked in question period by the Hon. Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams) with respect to a secret committee within the B.C. Hydro and Power Authority. He referred to that committee being referred to in a previous CBC programme of last Sunday.
I should like to confirm to the House that, yes, there was a secret committee of senior officials within B.C. Hydro...
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: ...that worked over a period of two years on the question of re-allocating costs with respect to the Columbia River treaty projects.
I have not had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to review the data which I have just now received with
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the Hon. Premier. I should like to do so and report back to the House further.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver–Howe Sound): Supplemental to the question to which the Minister has responded: is the Minister in a position to name the committee at this time?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: I think the minutes of the committee and its activities should be tabled in the House, Mr. Speaker, but I have not had the opportunity to review it, as I indicated.
LOAN TO BCR
MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): A question to the Hon. Premier with respect to the B.C. Railway. He indicated that $15 million went to B.C. Rail by some arrangement which he doesn't seem to be too sure of as to whether it was a loan or an outright grant. But in replying yesterday, he indicated that the money would be used to make up for revenue lost during a work stoppage, plus other smaller items as detailed.
Is the Minister prepared to file a detailed list of these other smaller items or give us a breakdown as to what amount of the $15 million refers to loss of revenue from work stoppage and other small detailed items?
HON. MR. BARRETT: I will inform the House of the details of all of the accounts of B.C. Rail under a new accounting service as soon as the annual report is available. The information asked for yesterday will be tabled as soon as I receive it from the railway.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, could I ask the Minister of Transport and Communications whether, in fact, the government has made a commitment to buy the Princess Marguerite ferry?
HON. R.M. STRACHAN (Minister of Transport and Communications): I am not in a position to make any statement publicly at this time. I'll take the question as notice and the House will be kept fully informed of any developments that may take place.
SHORTAGE OF BCR
MR. A.V. FRASER (Cariboo): A question to the Premier as president of the railroad. He announced earlier in the question period that there was not a shortage of cars on the BCR as of last week. I have been informed as of today that there is a severe shortage and has been all this week. I'd like you to investigate this further because it's quite serious.
HON. MR. BARRETT: My advice by phone this morning was that there was a shortage last week, as I have already said in the House.
MR. FRASER: The firm, this morning, ordered 22 cars and did not receive a car. The firm was P & T Sawmills, Williams Lake.
MR. SMITH: As of today, Peace Wood Products, Taylor, British Columbia, have a shortage of chip cars to move 250 cars of chips to Mackenzie. They're receiving five cars a day. This does not keep up to their production, let alone take care of their 250 cars accumulated during the time the railway was on strike.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I have been advised one way; the Member is advising me another way. I will attempt to correct the information in terms of what they're saying and what the railway is saying. But it pleases me to note that there is an economic recovery in the province, especially in the forest industry.
LOAN TO BCR
MR. McCLELLAND: I would like to ask the Premier a question, too, with regard to the $15 million loan or grant. I wonder if the Premier could advise the House as to what the borrowing limits are of the British Columbia Railway...
MR. McCLELLAND: ...and whether or not this $15 million, which now appears to be a loan, exceeds those borrowing limits. If so, what legislative authority does the government have to make such a loan?
HON. MR. BARRETT: The legislative authority exists through the order-in-council. The borrowing power of B.C. Rail was set by statute in this House.
MR. McCLELLAND: Does the $15 million, which is now set as a loan, exceed that borrowing authority?
HON. MR. BARRETT: It is public information, and you can look it right up there in the legislation.
HON. MR. BARRETT: I'm not going to do your homework for you. Do a little bit of thinking and get
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it together over there.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the Attorney-General....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. WALLACE: I'd like to ask the Attorney-General, in view of the violence that he's concerned about in our society and the current showing of a movie in Victoria, entitled "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," described by the director of film classification — and I have the clipping, Mr. Attorney-General — as "an extremely gruesome, disgusting picture," has the Attorney-General's office received any complaints from the public regarding this film and does the Attorney-General have any periodic review of film classification?
HON. A.B. MACDONALD (Attorney-General): Mr. Speaker, the government's responsibility is set out in the Act; the policy has been formulated by a legislative committee. I will check to see if there are any complaints about this particular show. I'm not aware of one at the present time. Ray MacDonald is the classification officer, really, not really a censor. But I will check and see if there are complaints.
MR. WALLACE: In the light of the Minister's answer, is he then saying that the terms of reference of the director will be brought under review?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: No.
SAFETY IN BCR
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Speaker, a question to the president of the railway and Premier of the province. On the afternoon of February 7, 1975, three men narrowly escaped death in the new car shop which the British Columbia Railway is building in Squamish. Evidently there was a car pushed into the car shop which crushed and damaged beyond repair a $2,000 welding machine before running into another car which three men were working on.
Are these safety meetings which were held once a month in the car shop being continued? Does the general car shop foreman give the employees regular safety instructions? What action will be taken by the British Columbia Railway and the general car shop foreman to alleviate and see that this type of accident does not occur again?
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased that the Member has asked the question. Prior to our election as government, there was no Workers' Compensation Board protection for the workers of B.C. Rail. Since we've been elected we've afforded them that protection.
MR. PHILLIPS: There was no car shop. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I know the opposition has it all together and they want the answers. As for the specific accident, I will take it as notice.
Orders of the day.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
MR. W.R. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to take my position in this debate. In doing so, I too would like to pass along the regrets of this side of the House, the British Columbia Social Credit Party, on the passing of the former Clerk of the Legislature, the late E.K. (Ned) DeBeck, and also on the passing of the late Senator Arthur Laing, who served in this House as leader of the Liberal Party so well and served this province in so many ways. The record of Mr. DeBeck as Clerk and his knowledge will be appreciated by all, and, of course, Senator Laing's record of service to the province will always be there to guide and direct all of us in our continuing commitment to our province and our country.
I also noticed in the throne speech and am aware that 1975 was proclaimed by the UN as International Women's Year. We in the British Columbia Social Credit Party join all others in the pursuit of any action to promote equality and eliminate discrimination to achieve the end of equality for women, not only in this province or in this country but in the world.
In moving the Speech from the Throne yesterday, the Member for Alberni (Mr. Skelly), if one closed his eyes, sounded almost like the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams). In fact, as I watched the television late last night and watched the Minister being questioned on "Hourglass," I realized that there were almost the same slogans, the same phrases, the same speech. Indeed, yesterday we had the Charlie McCarthy to the Minister's Edgar Bergen giving us the same old slogans against the companies or against anyone, as long as they didn't accept blame for this government
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for their own actions in the forest industry and dealing with the resource industries of this province.
I think perhaps the Member for Alberni should have taken a leaf from the book of the Member for Dewdney (Mr. Rolston), who was not quite prepared to speak to this Speech from the Throne. He rode as far away as he could from the speech on a Trident missile — anything to divert attention from what wasn't in this Speech from the Throne and what actions weren't promised for the people of British Columbia in these trying times of 1975.
But I appreciated the Member for Dewdney's comments. Indeed, he has continued, as has been a tradition in this House, a concern for events beyond the provincial boundary, a concern for international events about which all people should be concerned. I share his concern and so do those of my party and so do all of those citizens of British Columbia who must take note of the buildup of missiles and weapons internationally in this world of ours.
I commend him for his speech, and I commend him for also staying away from the provincial issues and the defence of this government, which is really indefensible.
I've noticed in the past that this Legislature has taken some action on international events. It was just a few years ago that the Member for Alberni, then Dr. McDiarmid, no longer in this House, passed a resolution dealing with oil tankers.
MR. SPEAKER: The microphones are not working very well. Are they recording anything at Hansard? Yes, they appear to be recording. I'm sorry, something appears wrong with them.
MR. BENNETT: Dr. McDiarmid at that time, Mr. Speaker, introduced a resolution which was endorsed by all of the House that we go against oil tankers plying off the coast of British Columbia.
Since that time, without the Legislature, I understand the government, through its executive branch and direction of the Crown corporations or the Liquor Control Board, has made its own move into international affairs and banned South African wines. I think that we should go further in this House, while we're concerned with international action and international positions, and pass a resolution at some time during this sitting of the Legislature stating that for all moneys borrowed into B.C. the lenders must identify themselves and be identified to British Columbians.
Many of us are aware that there is international money available that would not be acceptable to the people of British Columbia. There are always stories of Mafia money, international gangster money, and I believe it is the duty of this House that while it has always been traditional in most Legislatures and by all public bodies that they announce to their citizens from whom they are borrowing and what the amounts are and the terms of repayment, it is interesting that recently there have been loans in which this information was not disclosed.
I think this House should express an opinion, Mr. Speaker, on whether the citizens of British Columbia are going to have some say with whom we deal with financially on the international level, and that all loans in future shall be made public to the people of British Columbia for whom this money is supposedly being borrowed.
This throne speech, Mr. Speaker, really didn't give us a very good outline of the plans of this government for the coming year. What was missing from this speech was three key words which I think express the concern of all the citizens of the Province of British Columbia in this year, 1975. The three words are "unemployment," "inflation" and "restraint" because, Mr. Speaker, the big issues facing British Columbia are just those issues.
Unemployment, while it may be amusing to some people who haven't suffered unemployment, and some who may be here in the best job they've ever had, and some people with fat salaries, luxurious offices and the opportunity to travel to faraway places, is very real to those well over 100,000 people that cannot find work in this Province of British Columbia. It's a very real problem to them, and it isn't very reassuring to them that some make light of it, and some may smirk and some may laugh. I'm sure they will remember it when they have the only opportunity that they will get to express their disfavour at the polls of this province.
The Dominion Bureau of Statistics figures released for January on unemployment in British Columbia are 9.1 per cent. Seasonally adjusted to lower the impact of such a figure, there is still a whopping 7.5 per cent, Mr. Speaker — not the 7.1 per cent, as given in this Legislature yesterday by the Premier that he threw out as the unemployment figure for this province yesterday in this Legislature. It appears that his lack of knowledge of the railway also extends to the percentage of the number of the unemployed in this province, a lack of concern that I'm sure they are noting in the response he made to this Legislature.
The Dominion Bureau of Statistics states that the rate is 9.1 per cent, seasonally adjusted to 7.5 per cent, and they go on further, Mr. Speaker, because this is where I got my information. As of yesterday, DBS commented that unemployment outside the metro Vancouver area for the month of January was in excess of 10 per cent. Unemployment in the greater Vancouver area was less than 9.1 per cent, but for a very great area of this province the unemployment rate is over the 10 per cent that I quoted in the Legislature yesterday. That percentage figure becomes even more alarming when you add it to the numbers of individuals that it represents.
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One person desiring work and seeking it is not desirable — one person who wants to work in this province. But when you take the official figures of 81,000 unemployed, add to that those people who are normally self-employed who do not qualify for unemployment insurance benefits but who are unemployed at this particular time due to the slowdown in the British Columbia economy, particularly in the interior, add to that those figures that have been quoted in the speeches to the throne before by the former Leader of the Opposition — what he called the hidden unemployed on the welfare rolls — add those people to the 81,000 figure and you come up with well over 100,000 British Columbians unemployed. Mr. Speaker, 100,000 is an unacceptable amount of people in British Columbia, which has had a history of trying to create jobs for Canadians desiring to live in this most favoured part of Canada.
Then we see even more disturbing news in the Vancouver Sun of Monday where it says "Alberta Drops B.C. Job Plan," and Alberta is no longer going to pick up the unemployment slack that the Human Resources Minister of British Columbia (Hon. Mr. Levi) has asked them to do to take care of the unemployed from this province, that our province, our government and our Ministers say they are incapable of solving.
Alberta is going to stop picking up the marbles for the fumbles of the British Columbia government of the day, and that's unfortunate because the people of British Columbia are looking for hope and they're looking for leadership and they're looking for a plan of action. They just want the opportunity to work in the province. They do not want to go on welfare; they do not want to be wards of the state. They want to make a contribution.
Yet, Mr. Speaker, the dignity of employment is denied them. The opportunity of employment is denied them. It may be that they just don't qualify under the peculiar set of rules that apply in British Columbia for employment with the civil service these days and these people want a chance for gainful employment in this Province of British Columbia. Over 100,000 unemployed. It is shocking; it's disgraceful and in British Columbia it needn't happen.
The second word that was left out of this throne speech was "inflation." What of inflation? Well, Mr. Speaker, that's the cruelest tax of all on the purchasing power of the citizens of this province. All of the increases in pension, all of the increases in wages mean nothing, absolutely nothing, if the inflation rate proceeds at the galloping rate that it has in British Columbia.
All of our citizens, and particularly those in need, those citizens who are on fixed incomes, those citizens who are on pensions, those young families, young parents raising a family...yet the cost of the necessities of life have escalated beyond their ability to buy them out of their current salary, if they are lucky enough to be employed in British Columbia, or perhaps even eroding those savings that they have effected during years when inflation was not the problem that it was.
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (North Peace River): The Premier told them to spend their savings. "Take a trip," he said. "Take a trip."
MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): Become wards of the state — starve.
MR. PHILLIPS: Sure, spend it. "Don't save it, we'll look after you. Trust us."
MR. BENNETT: Inflation, Mr. Speaker, is the cruelest tax of all; yet while we have inflation for our citizens this government gets the benefit of record revenues, record revenues to waste from inflation — revenues which soared to over $2 billion last year. Our people were poor because of inflation — worse than ever before, but the government coffers in 1973...and the budget was there to spend willy-nilly and waste, none of it solving the real problems of people in this province because that spending hasn't created jobs and it hasn't helped inflation.
Our British Columbia citizens are concerned over those two words because food prices, with inflation, are worse in B.C. than in any other part of Canada. This does become a provincial problem. It does become a problem of this Legislature. Recent studies conducted by one of the federal Ministers indicate that food prices are higher in British Columbia than any other part of Canada: yet no mention of the word "inflation" in this Speech from the Throne.
The third word I would like to discuss that was left out of this speech is "restraint." How loudly must the word "restraint" be shouted, Mr. Speaker, for governments to hear and for people to hear and recognize that in this difficult time in British Columbia in 1975 restraint is not only desirable but a necessity?
But nowhere in this speech is there a mention of restraint from a government that has overruns in all departments, self-confessed overruns: overruns in a single department of $100 million, overruns from lack of restraint that this government seems proud of. It was defended in the moving and seconding of the Speech from the Throne yesterday. The government Members publicly declared they were proud of the overruns. They were proud of the lack of restraint.
MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me, Hon. Member, I wonder if you could try the next microphone on your right. Hansard, would you activate the next
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microphone, please? I don't know where the fault lies in this particular matter.
MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the Hansard desk would try to activate the second microphone, which normally belongs to the Member for North Peace River (Mr. Smith).
HON. D. BARRETT (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest a five-minute adjournment.
MR. SPEAKER: I don't know that we can clear it that quickly, but we can try.
I declare a short recess.
The House took recess at 3:03 p.m.
The House resumed at 4 p.m.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, the problems with the sound system are going to take perhaps overnight to cure, by reason of the printed circuits that have to be checked in the cabinet, down in the equipment itself. In view of this, it's rather impractical, very impractical, to count on the sound system working, as you've just seen demonstrated. Therefore, I have proposed to the party leaders, in meeting with me, that we adjourn the House, and this debate by the Hon. Leader of the Opposition, until tomorrow. They've agreed to that proposal, and this would not prejudice the times that were set under the rules under standing order 45(a). In other words, this time today that has been taken will not....
MR. SPEAKER: I'm not saying anything as far as his speech is concerned. But the length of time of six days for this address and reply will not be prejudiced by the fact of this unhappy circumstance.
I would ask the Hon. Leader of the Opposition, in view of that, if he would adjourn this debate. I would ask first if the House will agree to this proposal.
Mr. Bennett moves adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Mrs. Dailly moves adjournment of the House Motion approved.
The House adjourned at 4:04 p.m.