1975 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 30th
The following electronic version is for informational
The printed version remains the official version.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 1975
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Government Computer Privacy Act (Bill 21). Mr. Curtis.
Introduction and first reading — 69
Purchase of Casa Loma Apartments. Mr. Bennett — 69
Problems related to Casa Loma building. Mr. D.A. Anderson — 69
Financial dealings of Casa Loma principal. Mr. Wallace — 70
Coquitlam land-use contract. Mr. Phillips — 70
Answers to BCR questions. Hon. Mr. Barrett — 72
Throne speech debate (amendment)
Mr. D.A. Anderson — 73
Mr. Fraser — 76
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 79
Mrs. Jordan — 81
Mr. Dent — 84
Mr. Gibson — 85
Hon. Mr. Barrett — 90
Mr. Phillips — 92
Hon. Mr. Lauk — 95
Division on amendment — 97
Mr. D.A. Anderson — 97
Mr. D.A. Anderson (amendment) — 102
Mr. McGeer — 106
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 1975
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. H.D. DENT (Skeena): I would ask the other Members of the House to join me in welcoming 35 political science students from the Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, together with their professor, Mr. Donald G. Balmer.
MR. H.A. CURTIS (Saanich and the Islands): Mr. Speaker, may I ask the House to welcome a group of students from Claremont Senior Secondary School in School District 63 on the Saanich peninsula, accompanied by their teacher, Mrs. Fukushima.
Introduction of bills.
GOVERNMENT COMPUTER PRIVACY ACT
On a motion by Mr. Curtis, Bill 21, Government Computer Privacy 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.
CASA LOMA APARTMENTS
MR. W.R. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Housing. This question relates to the purchase of Casa Loma apartments by the Crown corporation, Dunhill Development. Have all or any of the purchase moneys yet been paid to the vendors?
HON. L. NICOLSON (Minister of Housing): Mr. Speaker, I'll be making a complete statement on this tomorrow, and I'll take the question as notice.
MR. BENNETT: I would just like a further question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister. Can the Minister please outline to the House the steps he has taken to ensure a protective hold-back of the purchase moneys so as to protect workers and suppliers on the project and any other parties having a claim against it, especially in view of the Supreme Court action launched this morning, alleging fraud and fraudulent representation in connection with the project?
MR. SPEAKER: I imagine you are carrying that as a supplementary you'd like him to look into when he makes his statement. Is that right?
MR. BENNETT: No, it's a separate question.
MR. SPEAKER: Well, that is not taken as supplementary, in your view. What does the Minister of Housing propose to do about the second question?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: I'll take it as notice, Mr. Speaker.
PROBLEMS RELATED TO
CASA LOMA BUILDING
MR. D.A. ANDERSON (Victoria): To the Attorney-General, Mr. Speaker. Did the Attorney-General receive a letter dated September 9, 1974, from Mr. Neville Barnard of Enby Electric outlining some of the problems related to the building of the Casa Loma apartment motel and seeking an investigation?
HON. A.B. MACDONALD (Attorney-General): The answer is yes. Do you want me to save time just to say what followed from that?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Sure.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: I replied saying that I couldn't intervene in that case, — and this is a summary of the reply — that I was looking into the whole question of the mechanics' lien and law generally which, I might tell the House, is in a very bad state...
AN HON. MEMBER: And has been for some time.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: ...and has been. We've had a report in 1972, which really wasn't satisfactory, so we sent it back to look at the Australia experience.
When people ask me to intervene — and they often do — in a civil case, even though it's very complicated, I have to, in view of the office I hold, advise them, in effect, that I am not a law office for private parties in a situation that really has to be resolved, if it proceeds that far, in court. And I can't intervene. I can't even give advice to private people. I can't suggest that the sub-trades, owners or main contractors may or may not follow this or that course of action. So in this case I can't, where the resolution is in court, introduce what would be a political solution. The solution is a court solution. If anyone wants to proceed through there.... These people had the benefit of a meeting with a Mr. Bruce MacDonald of Buell Ellis, who is a very capable man in this field, and I didn't feel that I should or could intervene.
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MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Without going into the aspects that are obviously irrelevant to the Attorney-General, did he advise any other Minister of the Crown of this request for an inquiry, in particular the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Cocke), who received a copy of the letter that went to him, or the Minister of Housing (Hon. Mr. Nicolson)? And did any other official of his department contact any official of Dunhill Developments regarding this request for an inquiry into the practices of the Casa Loma Motels Ltd.?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: No. Of course, one other Minister received the letter. There was no suggestion to me that the government was in any way involved. There was a suggestion that the Casa Loma, at that time in the letter that came from this gentleman, might be sold to Block Bros. for a big profit to the owners, but I was not aware of any involvement by any other department.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Supplementary to the Minister of Housing, Mr. Speaker. May I ask him whether his department or Dunhill has purchased any other land, specifically land on Burke Mountain, from any of the Casa Loma principals?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: The answer is no.
FINANCIAL DEALINGS OF
CASA LOMA PRINCIPAL
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, could I ask the Attorney-General with regard to a lawyer by the name of Mr. Virani and his wife, who own Mahal West Resorts Ltd., a health spa which went out of business after two months and left many creditors, and who happens to be a principal in Casa Loma...? Could I ask the Attorney-General whether he has received complaints from the public in regard to the financial dealings of this particular person? In light of the various questions being asked, will he order his department to carry out an inquiry?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: I don't know of any at the moment.
COQUITLAM LAND-USE CONTRACT
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): Mr. Speaker, I would like to address my question to the Minister of Housing. I would like to ask the Minister whether the Department of Housing at any time exercised any pressure whatsoever on the mayor or aldermen in the District of Coquitlam in an effort to have the original land-use contract, which was given to North Road Housing Company Limited, changed in order that the government's Dunhill Development Corporation, could effect the purchase from North Road at greatly increased cost to the government?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: No undue pressure was put on to any municipality of which I am aware.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. D. BARRETT (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I have waited patiently for the inquiry by the opposition on the railcars. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if we could allow the Member for South Peace River to ask a supplementary.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Can't I answer the questions which they thought were an emergency two days ago?
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Speaker, the Premier today is exercising...
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. PHILLIPS: ...more of his great performance as a performer. I said before that he should be in Hollywood. He's trying to interrupt the Member for South Peace.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. PHILLIPS: He's not allowing me to ask my supplementary question, on the premise that I don't want the answers, Mr. Speaker. I don't buy that from the Premier. Now a supplementary question on the same subject to the Minister of Housing.
I would like to know why Dunhill Development Corp. asked the mayor and the deputy planning director of the District of Coquitlam, in a letter to them on September 23, 1974, to keep the information regarding the increased cost of the project in confidence, with a specific request that the details of the cost information not be circulated to the aldermen of the District of Coquitlam.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MR. NICOLSON: In the first place, you were asking me about whatever pressure might have come from the Department of Housing; now you're talking about Dunhill Development. I don't know
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why they would ask that it be confidential, because that's rather naive to expect anything to remain confidential if you send it to a municipality.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MR. NICOLSON: But I would point out....
AN HON. MEMBER: What an attack!
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Well, when you grow up, you know, you'll find out the facts of life.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Mr. Speaker, the acquisition from North Road Development — I believe that's the name — of the Meadowbrook property....
MR. PHILLIPS: North Road Housing Corp.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Housing corporation — okay.
MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): Don't you know the name of it?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: That acquisition, the original land-use contract, was set up under very stringent price controls. It would have meant that it would have stopped after the first phase, that the project would not have gone ahead. But the purchase price that we have paid can be certainly defended by any quantity survey or any other yardstick that one wishes to measure by. It could not have gone ahead at the cost that had originally been written into the land-use contract. I think I've been questioned about that by The Columbian before. This is not any new information.
MR. PHILLIPS: I'm not The Columbian.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Pardon?
MR. PHILLIPS: I am not The Columbian.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Okay. Well, this has been public. It hasn't been greatly secret.
MR. PHILLIPS: A final supplementary question, Mr. Speaker, since the first two weren't answered. There was not undue pressure, which leads me to believe that there was pressure.
The letter from Dunhill to the mayor and the deputy planning commissioner in the District of Coquitlam specifically points out that this information was to be kept a secret and not circulated....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. What is your question?
MR. PHILLIPS: My final question is: why did Dunhill Development assume the role of justifying the increased cost in the project when the terms of the original land-use contract clearly stated in black and white, unequivocally stated, that North Road Housing Ltd. was basically responsible to deal with the District of Coquitlam in substantiating any revised values or costs for the Meadowbrook project? Clearly stated.
Now why did Dunhill intercede? Why did Dunhill ask that the whole matter be kept quiet? Why did this little people's government exercise pressure on the mayor and the aldermen in the District of Coquitlam? I'd like to know. I think we're dealing with $7 million of the public's money here — the taxpayers' money.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. PHILLIPS: Seven million dollars.
AN HON. MEMBER: Did you have a secret meeting on this?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: It's not a hard one to answer, really. You have said "pressure." I'd like to know what form of pressure has been exerted.
MR. PHILLIPS: You're the one who said "pressure"; I didn't.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: You said pressure. What did we do? Did we threaten? What did we threaten to do? What kind of pressure?
MR. PHILLIPS: You said undue pressure.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: I don't know of any pressure.
MR. PHILLIPS: What was it you just said a minute ago?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Since you've tried to confuse this as much as possible, Mr. Speaker, I should clarify this for the House: the original land-use contract was signed between the North Road Housing Ltd. and the Corporation of the District of Coquitlam.
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It was under construction. The first phase was well toward completion, and it was at that time that they encountered financial difficulties, which meant that this project, which had been subjected to the most rigorous land-use contract, I would dare say, in the province — and I don't say that there was anything wrong with that, but it was the subject of a very thorough use of the land-use concept — it stipulated fixed prices, which could only be released by mutual agreement or by the municipality.
It was at this time that it was in financial difficulty. It had had all of the approvals, was into construction, but would have been stopped and the majority of the units would not have been built until that financial situation, which was really an impossible situation, could have been rectified. It would never have been rectified unless there was some adjustment made to the land-use contract.
Coquitlam went along with allowing some increase in price. And they always held the trump card because they held the trump card in that land-use contract — if you wish to read it. I don't know if you have a copy of the land-use contract. I'll make that available to you.
MR. PHILLIPS: Yes, I have.
MR. SPEAKER: May I ask the Premier, who has also been waiting, to answer a question that was asked the other day?
MR. H.A. CURTIS (Saanich and the Islands): Table it.
HON. MR. BARRETT: No, no, no! They've got a right to question now.
MR. CURTIS: Table it! Table it!
HON. MR. BARRETT: No, no, no! You can't come in this House and ask for answers, and then say "Table them." You'd be accused of playing politics if you did that.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I've been asked a number of questions.
AN HON. MEMBER: Point of order.
MR. SPEAKER: I'm sorry, I must draw one set of questions to an end sooner or later to get on to other Members' questions.
HON. MR. BARRETT: For two days he asked me for the answer.
MR. SPEAKER: Would you kindly make one supplemental so we can get on with the subject?
MR. CURTIS: It will be very brief, Mr. Speaker, on the same subject.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I had the floor until the point of order was called.
MR. SPEAKER: Quite right. You did have the floor. Would you kindly proceed?
HON. MR. BARRETT: I was recognized!
MR. CURTIS: You didn't have the floor.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. MR. BARRETT: I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker.
AN HON. MEMBER: Supplementary questions.
MR. SPEAKER: I think there has to come an end to these additional supplementals. It's getting to a stage in which no one else can ask a question of any other Minister.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, may I ask leave to give the House information that was requested?
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, last week I was asked some emergency questions on the operation of the B.C. Railway. I got the answers on the emergency, and I know that the opposition wanted them in an emergency.
Question 1. A general question by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett) re the shortage of lumber cars.
Answer from the B.C. Railway: British Columbia Railway has adequate boxcars on line to satisfy all lumber shippers. However, there is a shortage of open cars, log flats, and/or bulkhead flats. Orders for open cars have been placed with our connecting carriers, and we are receiving cars every day — however, not sufficient to meet our everyday needs. We have had our initial off-line surge of British Columbia Rail line cars after the strike, which has resulted in a slow cycle of returning cars.
Question 2: Mr. Bennett, the Leader of the Opposition, asked re John Ernst Lumber Co.
Answer: Since February 10, the maximum order
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from John Ernst Lumber Co. was a request for four flatcars per day. With the exception of two days, this order was at least partially filled.
Question 3: When will the car shortage be alleviated?
Answer: The shortage of flatcars will be remedied within the next two weeks.
Question 4: By Mr. Curtis, present Member for Saanich and the Islands, who formerly sat over there.
AN HON. MEMBER: Don't you know the rules of the House?
HON. MR. BARRETT: Well, I identified him. Do you want the answer or don't you?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. MR. BARRETT: British Columbia Railway has 1,940 bulkhead flatcars under lease, of which 70 are still to be delivered. British Columbia Railway owns 1,335 boxcars, leasing 650 boxcars for lumber loading. British Columbia Railway also has 500 more boxcars which they supplied under leasing arrangements during the last quarter of 1975. Also, the lumber shippers of British Columbia Railway have 1,450 closed and open cars under individual lease to handle lumber off line.
MR. PHILLIPS: You spend money in a hurry.
HON. MR. BARRETT: This amounts to 5,375 cars available now, and a balance of 500 to come at the end of the year.
Question 6: The Member for South Peace River (Mr. Phillips) questioned re status of cars from Hawker-Siddeley.
Answer: The railway leases and subleases 1,822 bulkheaded flatcars which have been supplied by Hawker-Siddeley of Trenton, Nova Scotia. No principal changes have been made in the original terms of the lease of purchase. British Columbia Railway acquired 1,000 freight cars from Hawker-Siddeley of Trenton, Nova Scotia, under leverage leases financed in the United States. Of the total purchase price, 36.3 per cent was provided by way of equity, and 63.5 per cent by way of interim financing on a floating rate of U.S. prime rate plus 1.5 percentage points.
Question 7: From the Member for Saanich and the Islands: How many cars and locomotives are out of service?
Answer: Three locomotives are out of service for scheduled major overhauls. The only other units out of service are undergoing normal monthly inspections. From time to time, however, units are temporarily out of service with minor running repairs.
Question 8: From the Member for South Peace River: Peace Wood Products' shortage of chip cars.
Answer: Availability of chip cars is dependent upon unloading by the B.C. Forest Products pulp mill at Mackenzie. Daily production of chips from mills serviced by B.C. Forest Products is 17.5 cars. B.C. Forest Products' unloading record from February 10 to February 25, 1975, averaged 14 cars. Therefore, shippers were short 3.5 cars per day on daily production.
Question 9: From the Member for Cariboo, P&T Williams Lake order for 22 cars. P&T have ordered as high as seven flatcars per day. The order was partially filled each day, except for two days. We hope to clear that up within two weeks.
Mr. Speaker, those are, in detail, the answers to all the questions which I noted.
MR. D.F. SMITH (North Peace River): Point of order. May I suggest to the Hon. Premier that the question regarding Peace Wood Products was asked by the Member for North Peace River? I'm sure you wouldn't want to mislead the House.
HON. MR. BARRETT: No, Mr. Member. I was writing the questions down so quickly I couldn't tell the difference in the voices.
Orders of the day.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
On the amendment.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON (Victoria): Mr. Speaker, when we were discussing this on Friday, we were discussing the problem of unemployment in the province and the rise in the unemployment figures in just about every category but, in particular, the rise in the 14- to 19- and 20- to 24-year-old group, the worst group being affected being, of course, the unskilled in those areas.
I've been looking through some of the previous speeches and some of the previous statements by the Premier, even before he was Premier, when he was Leader of the Opposition. He has made some very fine statements about employment and unemployment over the last little while. He talked in January of '73 about the great changes that were going to be made in industrial development, trade and commerce and what great improvements there were going to be there. Yet we see in the Speech from the Throne only a reference to some $5 million of new, allegedly new sales as a result of the efforts of that department. Nothing in terms of the future. Nothing, as was mentioned earlier, in terms of new industry coming into the province, which the Premier talked about time after time in past years.
The fact is, as has been outlined a number of
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times, the unemployment in the province is up substantially. The Premier has constantly used the argument to date: "Give us time, give us time; trust us; it's not our fault yet; it's previous policies." Yet the one area on which the NDP put tremendous emphasis, which was industrial development, secondary industry, we see virtually not a word in the throne speech.
Mr. Barrett said — and I'm quoting the press clipping — the Premier said back in '72:
"The B.C. government is creating the best training pool of unemployed of anywhere in the western world."
To continue with the quote:
"Provincial NDP leader, Mr. Barrett, said here (which is Williams Lake) Tuesday night, 'A government with ideas and imagination could draw world attention by putting young, trained people to work on such problems as rapid transit methods, electric-powered automobiles to help solve the pollution crisis and reclamation projects to boost tourism.' "
Well, we have been waiting for three years now. We have waited, as the Premier indicated to us. We have waited for these bold programmes that he's bringing forward; we're waiting for improvements in the electric car field, rapid transit field, and others, and we are getting absolutely nothing.
The NDP made much in the campaign literature, which is entitled: "Dave Barrett, a Message to People." It talked about the need for new development and the new jobs which are being lost. It is curious now that they have been in power getting on for little over two and a half years, getting on for three years, that we have seen so little in terms of new job creation.
Much was made of the need for a new, aggressive Minister of trade and industrial development. We have seen, indeed, two Ministers: one the former Attorney-General, now a new Minister with nothing else on his plate but this. Yet even the throne speech could boast very little indeed about what had been done.
AN HON. MEMBER: We need a new one.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Perhaps we need a new one, as has been suggested. But whatever we need, we need some effort put into this department, either by a new one or by the present Minister, because, clearly, very little has been done and no jobs have been developed to any degree, except, of course, in-house, within his own civil service.
The argument has been put forward that, well, the budget follows and the throne speech is not really the thing which will indicate where the jobs will come from. Well, that may not be, but the fact of the matter is that in most throne speeches in most parts of the world, certainly in the British Commonwealth jurisdictions, you do get some indication of economic thrust and development from the throne speech, and we are certainly not getting it from this government here.
The programmes that we have seen or that we have heard about have essentially been stop-gap. It has been suggested that we are going to get some employment opportunity or employment-increasing programme in the forest industry, our major industry. Indeed, it strikes me as being curious that a government which talked in opposition, and after taking government in '72, time after time about the need to develop jobs and secondary industry, finally when faced with the problem, comes right back and says: "Well, we are going to go to our primary industry, our forest industry, the one that already produces more than 50 cents in every dollar in British Columbia, because that's the only place we can think of to raise employment."
It is curious that the new programmes that were talked about — not only the electric car plants, not only the Japanese automobile manufacturing plant, not only the steel mills, copper smelters, and all those other great new things in the secondary industrial field — instead of all that, we see the throne speech going right back to square one. It appears that the government does not have any policies for secondary industry; no policies whatsoever for developing employment in some of the areas which they have talked about so often as being the ones which require effort and energy.
Perhaps, as has been suggested, it's just a question of having a Ministerial change. I don't think so. I can't see much in the way of improvement of any prospective Ministers to the present one. It's not just a change of Minister which I think will do something. It's an opportunity, perhaps, for the government to go out and change its whole direction and start dealing with the problem instead of simply, as it has done for three years, talking about it.
The Premier waxed very angry back in '72 about the welfare programmes and unemployment. He talked of the working poor in British Columbia. He talked about the deplorable record of housing in British Columbia at that time. It is worse now, under this new Minister. He talked about a large number of programmes which could be used for expanding employment. Yet, given two and a half years to do something, very little appears to have been done at all. The only suggestion we get in the throne speech is an employment programme through the forest industry.
What about the opportunities for housing? The Minister responsible, despite much boasting, discovered that the actual number of housing starts is declining and has gone down since he took office.
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He's discovered that despite much boasting; indeed, in terms of financing, we discover that most of the financing is not from his department at all. It is funnelled through it, but most, indeed, still comes from CMHC. His own contribution and the government's contribution are minimal.
Mr. Speaker, I'd just like to quote from the Pacific Region Labour Market Bulletin of the Department of Manpower and Immigration, and indicate to you some of the problems we're facing at the present time. The total number in the labour force at the present time is 1,064,000, of whom only 962,000 are employed. In other words, according to the figures here for January of '75, we have 102,000 unemployed in the Province of British Columbia. Compare that to the previous month, and you will discover that in that period there were 79,000 unemployed.
I have no wish to question the figures put forward by the Member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot), the former Minister of Labour....
MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): Those are November figures, though, from the Department of Labour — they're that far behind.
MR. CHABOT: 76,000 in November. We're in February.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: We're in February, and the most recent figures, as my hon. friend from Columbia River is, I think, trying to point out...are you trying to point that out?
MR. CHABOT: Yes.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Good. (Laughter.) What he's trying hard to point out without a great deal of success is, of course, this little two-page document I have in my hand, the Pacific Region Labour Market Bulletin issued in February, 1975. There you get the actual figures for January of this year.
AN HON. MEMBER: But not for August.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, I can go back and give you figures for November, December, January of last year, December of last year, December of '73.... Anyway, let me just give you the January figures for this last month — January 1975: 1,064,000 in the labour force, only 962,000 employed. That's 102,000 people unemployed, looking for work, unable to get it. That, of course, works out to an effective rate of approximately 10 per cent.
We're not dealing with minimal figures of 5, 6 or 7; we're talking of double-digit unemployment, and it's something which I think the government certainly should pay some attention to, and should not try and evade, as did the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. King), by quoting out-of-date figures indicating elsewhere.
Let me carry on, Mr. Speaker. In those figures we have 372,000 women in the labour force, and 345,000 with work. So you're getting down there where you have approximately 27,000 women unemployed, the rest, of course, being men.
But let's look at the age breakdown, because that's the most critical thing. In December of '74 we had 102,000 young people between the ages of 14 and 19 in the labour force. Today we have 88,000. There's been a 14,000 drop in employment in that particular age group, and that's a direct drop, regardless of the number unemployed previously.
In terms of your 20- to 24-year-olds, you have 128,000 currently employed, as opposed to 139,000 only one month before. So as you can see, the trend is steadily downward. As you get a little older, it evens out a bit more, but in terms of the young people in the province, the picture is absolutely disastrous.
There was a decline, as has been mentioned, in the total number of people in the labour force in the period: 16,000 dropped out. The female labour force declined by 2.4 per cent, the male by 2.8, but there has been a total of 11,000 out of that 16,000 who withdrew from the labour force in the 14-to-19 age group. So we've had a tremendous loss of jobs for the unskilled and youngest people in the labour market. And in terms of what this means in social consequences, to have these people unemployed, to have them doing nothing in those particular ages, I think this government, indeed, should start checking very closely into what they're doing and into their record. We simply do not have employment possibilities for young people who don't have specialized skill or specialized training.
The result is, of course, that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose again from 7.1 in December to 7.5 in January, which is consistent with a seven-month trend that we've had, and the actual unemployment level has reached a record high. As I've mentioned, it's 102,000, which is a record high.
There are 50 per cent more males unemployed than a year ago, and 35 per cent more women.
Mr. Speaker, I give these figures to point out that we do have at the present time a crisis of severe proportions in British Columbia. It doesn't do much good to try and pass the buck to any other level of government or to pass the buck to previous programmes. But I think it is really necessary for this government to realize that the problem is with us and with us now. Rhetoric from the Minister of Labour, quoting out-of-date statistics, is not going to make the problem go away.
The problem, as indicated, needs some long-term
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and consistent thought and planning from the government, which we haven't seen and of which there is no indication in the throne speech. I just trust that in the near future, perhaps in the budget and certainly in the estimates of the Ministers concerned, we're going to see something in the nature of concrete programmes.
When this was discussed a couple of years ago, we had the Premier coming in here, waving his arms and saying that we were going to have a merchant marine. It was going to create shipbuilding; it was going to create enormous numbers of jobs. That was going to be that, and that would solve it.
We then heard stories about a copper smelter; we then heard stories about a steel mill. We have heard stories of industry after industry, and all of them have come to nothing. The only suggestion, as I mentioned, is to go back, as put forward in the throne speech, to the tried-and-true woods industry to try to find some employment there. I'm not knocking it; I think that at least there is some virtue in trying that. But certainly, in terms of new policies and programmes, particularly in the secondary industry area, we have had virtually nothing at all from this government.
Mr. Speaker, the programmes that the government has put before us, in particular the programmes of the Department of Economic Development, have been extremely weak. We have seen the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Stupich) attempt to increase employment in the agricultural industry. We welcome that. We have seen increases elsewhere by specific Ministers, and I mention the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams). We welcome that. But as far as an overall and consistent policy or strategy of industrial development and job creation goes, we have nothing at all.
It makes sad reading to go back and look at the speeches of 1972 by the present Premier. At that time he was full of ideas. At that time he could pull out of a hat a Japanese automobile plant, a steel plant — whatever. Now that he's in power, now that he has put a Minister responsible for nothing else but industrial development, it seems that all the ideas have come to an end. The amendment to the motion we are debating is a very serious one. It's not something which lends itself to putting forward detailed policy proposals; those will come forward, of course, in the estimates debate. But it is one which I urge every Member of the House, in particular the government backbenchers, to look at particularly closely. How can they take any pride whatsoever in this government which talks so often about its ability to create jobs and the fact that it is people-oriented? How can the Members of the government look with any satisfaction at having the worst rate of all time — 102,000 unemployed? How can they look with any satisfaction at all upon the increase between this year and last: up 50 per cent for males in the work force and up 35 per cent for women?
The resolution we are voting on regrets that the speech did not deal with these subjects. Any Member of this House who votes in favour of the government on this particular issue would be blind indeed.
The problem is there, and the Speech from the Throne makes no effort whatsoever to deal with it. We know why. We know that this has been coming up. I mentioned that this is the seventh month in a row that the rate has gone up. We know why: there has been a general slowdown in world markets. But, in addition, the actions of this government have slowed down both the mining and the forest sectors. We know that it takes time for this to hit all the secondary and subordinate industries which support our primary resource industries — and that's pretty well what has happened. The problems of last summer, the problems of last spring and the problems of the fall are catching up with us now as, month by month, we discover the chain reaction taking place, and more and more and more people become unemployed.
About the only positive proposal was that of the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Levi), who is in the chamber now. I commend him for at least trying to find work, for those who wanted it, in Alberta. It at least indicated his recognition of the fact that there was not work available for people in B.C. and that government policies made it unlikely that there would be work in the immediate future. I commend him for at least trying to find work for the people concerned. The Government of Alberta has apparently terminated the programme, and I'm sorry for that. We're all sorry that we would have to send British Columbians elsewhere to find work. Nevertheless, at least an effort was made by the Minister of Human Resources to find them work in another province.
Unless we can get away from the general business decline — much of which is tied in with construction and with capital investment — and reverse things, this trend in likely to continue.
The motion, as I mentioned, is a fairly modest one. It simply regrets that the government in its Speech from the Throne does so little and says so little about the problem of unemployment. In those terms, I think it is worthy of support from every Member of this House.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
MR. A.V. FRASER (Cariboo): I am pleased to join in this debate on the amendment here today and to say that I certainly support the amendment, because of the inadequacy of this government's programmes to provide jobs for, as the last speaker
[ Page 77 ]
said,100,000 unemployed people.
I would like, Mr. Speaker, for a few moments to point out to you that this government has not only not created opportunities to reduce employment and increase employment but they are, through their policies, causing unemployment. I refer, of course, to the mineral legislation that was passed last year, and we now have the mining industry in its difficult circumstances. Where we should have new mines coming on stream, I believe at least, we haven't any. The existing mines that we have are cutting back. I refer there to Gibraltar mines in the Cariboo who have cut back 100 employees since January, 1975. Just this weekend we have Lornex Mines out of Ashcroft and Kamloops cutting back — 100-odd. This really has a bad influence on the smaller communities that are close to these existing mines.
Apart from this, we have had figures here that show that exploration has practically come to a stop, and this is indicative of the mining legislation that has passed here. I'm aware of the fact that world copper prices have declined, but I am of the opinion that that would not have reduced the existing work forces if it hadn't been also for the overriding provincial legislation that was made law here in this Legislature last year. I refer to Bill 31, the mineral royalties legislation. Certainly the one level of royalty at 2.5 per cent and 5 per cent — probably there's nothing wrong with it.
When you get into the super-royalty, what is the point of large mining companies continuing on at the low prices — waiting for the prices to advance — and have it all taken away by the super-royalty provisions that are in that bill? I would say that not only are world metal prices part of the cause, but the mining industry in the province is also afflicted with an affliction that I'd like to name "Nimsickitis." I think that the sooner we have a change at the head of the mining portfolio in the province, the better it will be for jobs and everybody else in that industry.
As far as the forest industry is concerned, they have had their difficulties for quite some time now. It is my observation, Mr. Speaker, that we will not see any advancement in the forest industry in this province, because of the insecurity that anybody investing in large forest enterprises has under the atmosphere that exists with this government. They want to hammer everybody that's in business, whether big or small, and it certainly applies to the forest industry.
'Mere has been no major investment in the forest industry since 1972, other than that done by the government themselves. It's certainly standing still and, if anything, going backwards, apart from all the marketing problems they have.
The main thing that I would like to point out in this short debate, Mr. Speaker, on the subject of causing unemployment, is again getting back to the British Columbia Railway and what has happened to that very vital link to the economy and job creation in this province, referring to the central and northern part and lower mainland.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, we had a work stoppage on this line late last fall that culminated in a work stoppage of seven weeks. In my opinion, this work stoppage should never have lasted seven weeks, and I want to relate to this House why it shouldn't have lasted seven weeks, causing all the hardship that it did cause, not only on the employees of the railroad that were locked out from the work stoppage, but also with the indirect result to the main industry in the interior forestry and, secondly, the mining industry. It had a direct effect on them. They had to lay off employees because of no adequate link to get their products to market.
As I said, Mr. Speaker, this work stoppage could have been settled in a lot shorter period than seven weeks. I want to reiterate this to the House today to show that, in my opinion, the work stoppage shouldn't have lasted any more than, say, three and a half weeks, half the period of time that it took.
I want to relate to you why this is. Under section 122 of the Labour Code that we passed in the fall of 1973 in this Legislature, it provides that the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. King) can set up an industrial inquiry commission. I think the main point in section 122 is this: the Minister may either, upon application or on his own motion, set up an industrial inquiry commission.
The facts of this work stoppage on the railroad, which commenced in the latter part of November, are this: the Minister of Labour refused to appoint an industrial inquiry commission and took the stand that he would not do so unless asked to by both disputing parties.
I might say that this party recommended early in the dispute that the Minister take this action without asking the two disputing parties. He consistently refused to do so and continued to procrastinate. Finally, of course, he got the request from the two disputing parties. Shortly after, this dispute ended.
For that reason he caused no end of economic hardship on innocent people in the central and northern parts of the province and, I might say, right during the holiday season. People were even afraid to buy their Christmas turkeys as they had no idea when they were going back to work. I don't think any of that was necessary at all because the strike could have been settled prior to the Christmas holidays instead of at the last day of the first week in January 1975.
We are still paying for that strike, Mr. Speaker. I will just give you one example: the timber bill that we passed here last fall that gave the government authority to raise the price of wood chips. What good is that when they have no transportation link to get
[ Page 78 ]
this commodity to a market to take advantage of that price? It is, of course, still continuing.
I might point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that maybe there was a conflict of interest here, because this Minister is also the vice-president of the British Columbia Railway. Maybe he felt that he was protecting the railroad to the degree that he didn't want to cooperate. I am sure that it is showing a substantial loss, and less operations and less of a payroll to be made could reduce that deficit.
So I repeat that the Minister of Labour, whether he did it intentionally or not, certainly created unemployment when it was not necessary to have this at all.
AN HON. MEMBER: Railroaded the whole thing.
MR. FRASER: Correct. Railroaded the whole thing.
It is still having drastic effects on the interior in this dispute. We have on the board of directors three elected persons: the Premier is the president of the railroad; the Minister of Labour is the vice-president; and the Minister Without Portfolio, the Member for Fort George (Hon. A.A. Nunweiler), the Minister in charge of northern affairs. I think they should take a more serious look than they have in the past on the operation of this public railroad.
We have always looked at this transportation link with the interior and the central part of the north as a reliable form of transportation. I might say, Mr. Speaker, that we no longer look at it that way because you can never tell when it is going to operate and when it is not going to operate.
So I say to the elected Members that I would like them to show a lot more interest in this line than they have in the past. Get these problems ironed out because there are definitely a lot of problems there, and they are still there.
The morale of that railroad is at an all-time low with the employees. If that is not resolved, we certainly haven't seen the end of disruptions of rail service to the interior, and they just can't afford much more.
AN HON. MEMBER: It's an action by hotheads.
MR. FRASER: I don't really think the board of directors realized that when you can't get cars because of a work stoppage or for other reasons, merchandise in the sawmill industry has to be stockpiled. To stockpile it means that industry has to borrow large sums of money to finance the stockpiling. And at interest rates today of 10 and 11 per cent, they just cannot afford to go on this way much longer.
They have had difficulty in the central interior and in the north with this railroad for about a year. It has been going on now a whole year with intermittent service on this railroad. A year ago now we had a railcar shortage that was certainly the blame of the BCR and other lines. At that time the market was excellent and they couldn't get their products out. It seems the only time that this railroad does operate efficiently is when there is no market for the product that they manufacture. I'm referring to the forest industry in the interior. Then the railcars come from all directions.
I was pleased with the report the Premier, as president, gave us today about the current situation, but I would like to just expand on that for a minute, that we have unemployment going on in the central interior right today. Employees of sawmills and plywood plants in the interior are being advised not to come to work this very day because there are no railcars to load the product into. So again, this is creating unemployment, right on this very day, all along this line. Here we have these companies struggling with this situation for a year, and I am afraid of some bankruptcies happening in the sawmill complexes and plywood plants that exist, because no business can stand paying the cost of this stockpiling and see no end to it in sight.
As far as chips are concerned, I don't believe the Premier, as president of the railroad, said much about chip cars in his report, but there is a dire shortage of chip cars right on this present day. Again, we go back to the legislation passed last fall, which appeared to be helpful to the industry, but how can it be helpful when there are no cars to rail the chips to the various pulp mills?
I would just like to conclude by mentioning the northwest development. When it was originally announced, I believe in 1973, it would appear that if anything has been done along that line, which has been going on for two years now, we might see some new jobs being created. But I really feel that all that was was a major press release, and I'm sure that the people who live in the northwest feel the same way. All they have seen is no end of task forces, committees and then committees to investigate the task forces, but very few, if any, new jobs.
Certainly the northwest development is just a bunch of talk, and I believe up there, again, they feel that they have "task force-itis" up in the northwest interior.
Among all the things that were to happen under the northwest development, rail expansion and industry expansion, there was one part that I would like to hear from the government — where they think they are going, and get something done on this. But we have a major rail link which was included in this — I refer to the rail link of the BCR to link up between a point south of Clinton over to the mainline railroads somewhere down the Thompson Valley. Everybody in that part of the country is waiting to
[ Page 79 ]
see some construction. I don't think any agreement is even signed.
I think it's time this government told these people that they had better not exist and stay there waiting on employment from the construction of this rail link or the jobs that will follow with industries following when it happens, because absolutely nothing has happened.
I just say again, Mr. Speaker, that I certainly support this amendment because of the lack in the throne speech of the creation of any new jobs or planning employment for — I believe the figure used by the Second Member for Victoria (Mr. D.A. Anderson) — the figure of 102,000 people who are presently unemployed, and I am afraid that's going to get higher before it gets lower.
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker...
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): Pray for unemployment.
HON. MR. COCKE: ...it's been interesting, particularly interesting, these stories that have come forward from the Social Credit Party in this House.
I have a great deal of sympathy for the Liberal position, from a person who's just come out from Ottawa, citing all the great things that he would do. We work a great deal with some of his old colleagues down east, however, and have had some difficulty in conferring and making his old colleagues understand some of the difficulties in B.C.
You know, he says that there are more unemployed in B.C. than there were a year ago. Isn't that interesting? Isn't that something new? Across the entire world there are more unemployed than there were a year ago — and this little island with its 7.6 per cent unemployed.
I'm going to deal with just what it was like before, when we had a recession nothing like this one now. Mr. Speaker, this province isn't suffering today like it did then, by virtue of the fact that there are some bold programmes. There is rapid transit growing. Young people for the first time have had consideration — two in a row — $30 million programmes from a government that, for the first time, cares. I didn't see any $30 million programmes coming from your daddy, since you're the one that wants to respond.
The fact of the matter is, this government has a responsibility to young people, to the old people, and the middle-aged folk in this province, and for the first time something is being done about it, Mr. Speaker.
HON. MR. COCKE: We still have that same old problem that the former Premier (Hon. Mr. Bennett) used to talk about — the problem of a far higher increase in immigration. It's still 3.3 per cent — they're moving in here. And there was criticism of the fact that if Alberta has jobs, then that's where they should go. The fact of the matter is....
HON. MR. COCKE: The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that that's precisely what the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Levi) did — indicate where there are jobs, identifiable jobs. That's where the people would go if, in fact, they have a sense of responsibility, and many have done that.
But, Mr. Speaker, there are more jobs in this province on a percentage basis than there have ever been before in a tough, recessive situation like we have now. And, Mr. Speaker, the old carry-the-can on the copper prices — why do they point their finger at my colleague, the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Nimsick), when every time there has been a decrease in copper prices, identically the same thing has happened in this province to right now — every time, Mr. Member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot)? I remember, in 1966 when the price of copper went down, that the Minister of Transport and Communications (Hon. Mr. Strachan), at that time the Leader of the Opposition, had to put the heat on the Jordan River Mine people for the back wages that were never paid.
This government — at that time Socred government — didn't even care. It had to be the Leader of the Opposition. They close down every time, or they reduce their staff, every time there's a reduction in price. And what are we supposed to do — build world prices, Mr. Speaker?
MR. PHILLIPS: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
HON. MR. COCKE: Since we've been....
MR. SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
MR. PHILLIPS: I'd like to know if there is a recession in copper prices in the Yukon where...?
MR. SPEAKER: Order! That is not the point of the order.
MR. PHILLIPS: ...has increased by 100 percent.
HON. L.T. NIMSICK (Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources): The price has gone down all over the world. (Laughter.)
[ Page 80 ]
MR. SPEAKER: Order!
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, since we've been government, many of the opposition have demanded attention to unemployment. It's strange, Mr. Speaker. It's strange to me, for those who cared so little now care so much. But, worse, Mr. Speaker, they can't see what's going on around them. This is the only government this province has had in recent history — in the last 20 or 30 years — that has paid attention to the need for jobs. And every time.... (Laughter.)
HON. MR. COCKE: That's right. And every time, Mr. Speaker, we move to assist in this area, however, the opposition screams to high heaven.
Did they support Can-Cel, Mr. Speaker?
HON. D. BARRETT (Premier): No.
HON. MR. COCKE: Did they support those thousands of jobs that were retained by virtue of the fact that this little government cared enough? No, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, no, they did not, despite the fact that it maintained all those jobs...
HON. MR. BARRETT: They supported Commonwealth Trust.
HON. MR. COCKE: ...in the plants, and all of the related jobs in the area. No, they did not, Mr. Speaker. Likewise, did they support Ocean Falls? In this House they spoke against it, Mr. Speaker, in identically the same terms, because they saw across the aisle in this House an enemy by virtue of the fact we were doing things for the first time for the people who matter in this province, Mr. Speaker — those people who are working for the growth of B.C.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, the list goes on. And we all know their voting records. Mr. Speaker, where did they stand on ICBC? Where did they stand on ICBC? Most of those insurance jobs were going on in Bay Street and New York and London. There are 1,800 jobs right here, directly, in all of the related jobs and all of the possible jobs because there are 1,800 people in ICBC.
AN HON. MEMBER: What's the turnover rate in those 1,800 jobs?
HON. MR. COCKE: If they had wit they would be a real opposition, but, Mr. Speaker, they're half an opposition.
MR. CHABOT: Stick with the mental health.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker; they're critical of an adequate civil service. The Leader of the opposition says he would cut off half their heads if he had an opportunity.
HON. MR. COCKE: That's right — the pro tem leader, the pro tem Leader of the Opposition.
MR, SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. MR. COCKE: He knows it's balderdash, a great deal of it. There is an increase, and I'll deal with some of it. But many of that number, Mr. Speaker, have, for the first time in 20 years working for the civil service, got a full-time permanent status. They've been classified as temporary for 20 years, many of them — civil servants in this province. What an absolutely shameful, disgraceful way to look after the people about whom they so dearly love to talk.
HON. E. HALL (Provincial Secretary): They were there 20 years temporarily.
HON. MR. COCKE: Twenty years of temporary, Mr. Speaker. How many years do you have to be working? They were there 20 years temporarily, and most people who have any knowledge of politics hope that that's all they'll ever get.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, who is in favour of fair play? There have been additions. I can give you a couple of hundred in public health — a little more than that. And the constituencies of each one of you are still asking for more public health nurses. Yet the way you talk, you want us to lay off the ones we added, who were badly needed. That's precisely what you're saying: that we're loading the public service.
Mr. Speaker, for the first time a public servant in this province can do a job, knowing full well that he's got a little bit of help. There has been a cry for more health workers, and I can remember it in opposition. We've tried as best we could to respond to that cry, but we still haven't enough from the standpoint of the union boards of health in each one of your constituencies.
[ Page 81 ]
MR. CHABOT: What have you done in mine?
HON. MR. COCKE: We have added public health nurses, public health inspectors and public health people across this province to the tune of something in the order of close to 300. You all know it. You're getting a better time now than you ever had before.
HON. MR. COCKE: Yes, it's jobs they want, they say. But what do our constructive friends do when we do something about jobs? They tear their hair out. Is it any wonder that this group is in favour of everything that's backwards? Turn the calendar back; turn the clock back.
Mr. Speaker, let me tell you how they used to operate.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, in 1961....
MR. CHABOT: You weren't even here. You don't know what you're talking about.
HON. MR. COCKE: In 1960 and 1961, there was a real recession in this province, but not as bad as the one we have now. At that time, what was the magnitude of unemployment? These are the real figures, Mr. Speaker: December, 1960, 9.8 per cent. There it is: B.C. Jobless rate the highest in Canada; a tenth of the working force idle as of November. A tenth, Mr. Speaker.
What did they do about it, those magnanimous Members of the Social Credit Party of that day? Did they add to the civil service? No, they did not. As a matter of fact, it got worse the next month, in January. In January it was 10.9.
So on January 20, 1961, the welfare Minister, Wesley Black, took the jobless medical aid and cut it off. That was his answer to unemployment. He cut off the jobless employable from medical aid. We had to repair that damage a year and a half ago by making available, on an instant's notice, medical care to those who have a low income or no income. Mr. Speaker, that's the way they responded. Cut them off medical aid. I'm sorry for that group, and I know how they yen.
HON. W.S. KING (Minister of Labour): Haunted by the sins of the past.
HON. MR. COCKE: But, Mr. Speaker, I hope that the people in British Columbia understand that large corporate-based group, who are manipulated every day of their lives by the millions of dollars they are attracting from their friends.
Mr. Speaker, I was just in California, and don't you start telling me about B.C. being in dire shape. Almost 12 per cent of the people in that state are unemployed at the present time. I was up in northern California. You think it's bad in the Cariboo; you think that it's bad in the forests in British Columbia. It's infinitely worse down there.
MR. PHILLIPS: What has that got to do with it?
HON. MR. COCKE: It's got to do with the fact that the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams) responded to the needs of the forest companies in this province and stopped crying about it. A government that responds is something those people don't understand.
Across the States it's over 8 per cent, higher than it is in the Province of British Columbia. Yet in spite of the arguments that you hear from over there, our economy is in a better state now than what could ever have been hoped for in the past.
HON. MR. COCKE: You know, I'm sorry for your people in Cariboo, because they have such negative thoughts now because of their Member who daily sows the seed of doom and gloom and utter.... You know, he's got everybody up there so depressed they don't even bother going to work any more. And he doesn't even stick around for any answers.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, the whole question is ridiculous, and it's more ridiculous because of the hypocrisy of this kind of a resolution that's been put forward before this House. I utterly reject it, and certainly I reject the spirit in which it was put forward.
MR. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): Mr. Speaker, I guess if anyone feels sorry for anyone in this chamber, it's the chamber for the Minister of Health, who just spoke. I found it extraordinary that the expansion and vision of his job-creating abilities and thinking, as he was expressing it for the government, went so far as to start and stop at the civil service — the only alternative.
Then he backed this up by parading the problems of California before us. Well, Mr. Speaker, if that Minister's ideal for his administration is the State of California, then we're in more dire shape than we though we were, and most of British Columbia knows we're in great difficulties now. California, Mr. Minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, didn't have a cash surplus of $90 million when it came into office two and a half years ago which could have been
[ Page 82 ]
properly invested and which could have been used in part to meet the needs of today, to act as a buffer, to have had a government that would show prudence and wisdom in creating jobs and in putting investment in the proper places in the economy, to stimulate jobs not in the civil service forever but in the private sector, small businesses.
AN HON. MEMBER: They gambled it away.
MRS. JORDAN: Yes, as I said, they gambled it away and threw it around in gold filigree. That's great comfort to the jobless people of this province today — over $ 100 million. Don't baby me.
I found it interesting, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Health got up and said that he found the fact that there are 100,000 people in the Province of British Columbia unemployed as "interesting" — not overly interesting, not concerning, just interesting. I guess if you're sitting on your fat stats for $40,000-odd a year and trips to China, you probably do glance at these figures and find them mildly interesting.
Then he told us about depression, and the only truth that comes out of that is that the Minister never admitted on behalf of his government that he and his government have led this province into a state of depression. He talks about a $30 million programme. That didn't indicate in any way the long-term jobs that that $30 million is creating. All that it indicated to this House and to the public is that the Minister, like the rest of his colleagues, feels that the higher the bill, the more you've spent, the better the job must be. Thirty million dollars, Mr. Speaker, should be providing a lot of jobs, and if you look at the figures, it isn't.
Where is the high unemployment rate, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister? It's not in New Westminster; it's in the non-metropolitan areas of this province. You know, he talked about Jordan River, and cast comments about the past. I find it extraordinary that he would use Jordan River as an example of their government's policy because, Mr. Speaker, the Jordan River mine today is not even operating. There is not one job there, and those miners were forced, under this government, just before Christmas when they were picketing this building, to go on welfare; and that was the advice they got from the government. It was just at that point the Minister of Consumer Services (Hon. Ms. Young) looked up and said, "Who's the ding-a-ling?" And she was right.
AN HON. MEMBER: Explain!
MRS. JORDAN: If the Minister wants to know about the mines that could be developed and stimulated into production, there are some potential coal mines in British Columbia.
AN HON. MEMBER: Is there a market for it?
MRS. JORDAN: There's a market. I don't pretend to know all the details, but in case he doesn't know, I'll give him some names. And instead of parading Jordan River before this House as a market success in their job-creating abilities, I suggest he gets together with the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Nimsick) and looks at these potentials: Coalition Mining Co. in the Peace River, Chetwynd, one of the areas where the unemployment is at 10 per cent; Crows Nest Industries, Natal. That should interest the Minister of Mines. You might be able to help the people in your area, Mr. Minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, who are suffering from unemployment today as a result of your legislation.
HON. MR. NIMSICK: You come up to my office and I'll tell you all about the coal mines.
MRS. JORDAN: Mr. Minister, I haven't time to go to your office. I need to get out and help try and create some confidence in this economy so that there can be jobs for people. There's a whole list of them: Rio Algoma Mines Ltd.; Flathead, Fernie; Utah Mines Ltd.; Crows Nest, Fernie; Denison Mines Ltd. — all in the parts of the province where the need to stimulate employment is necessary.
Mr. Speaker, the whole reason for this amendment to the Speech from the Throne is an effort, an attempt to try and wake up this government, to try and make them understand and help them to realize that the unemployment figures in British Columbia that they find "interesting," that the Minister of Labour says aren't too bad, are absolutely unacceptable. It is to try and bring to their attention some of the problems that this unemployment is creating for the people of this province, the families of this province — whether they are men, women or children, or students who want to take a semester off at this time of the year and work, and can't get a job.
The amendment in our debate is trying to bring to the attention of this government that the unemployment figures show a geographic location of the highest unemployment, a problem that is not easily rectified. It is to try and point out to them that an unemployment figure this high, and for the reasons we have it in British Columbia — the world situation as well as the disastrous results of this government's legislation — demands that there needs to be a response from the government, and it is going to take a long time for a recovery to take place.
We are trying to point out in this amendment the responsibility the provincial government has in this area — not just to find the figures and the
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unemployed people — but they obviously consider unemployed people as figures — interesting. We have outlined in earlier debates on our part, suggestions, and we will do so in the future.
But it has become quite evident, Mr. Speaker, in this debate — both from the attitude of the cabinet, the lack of attendance of the NDP in the House during this most important debate, from the Speech from the Throne itself and from the debate of the two Ministers — that the concerns of the people of British Columbia and the concerns of the opposition in this House are certainly not the concerns of this government.
In fact, as we review the debate we find that they are so unconcerned and that they have, or appear to have, in fact, become so blasé in office that the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. King), once the amendment had been moved, could hardly wait to get on his feet. Not only did he make it clear that the government does not consider the rising unemployment figures, which are accompanied by high unemployment insurance costs to the taxpayers and high welfare costs for the employable unemployed, not worthy of mention in the Speech from the Throne, but they don't want to listen to any suggestions that would emanate from this debate.
I ask you, Mr. Speaker: what conclusion can the people of this province and the official opposition draw from this attitude, both through the lack of the mention of this vital subject in the throne speech and through the efforts of the government to curtail as much as possible the debate on this subject?
I suggest there can be one of three charges — perhaps all. First, it could be charged that the cabinet have become so comfortably entrenched in their new-found luxuries of office — the goodies of the office, the high-flying trips, the so-called fringe benefits — that in two and a half years they have become so old and isolated from the people of this province, and as reflected in this debate and in the Speech from the Throne, simply don't care about the problems of British Columbia that are being made worse by their own legislation, their own actions and their own attitudes. And unemployment at this time is one of those paramount results.
Or, is it to be charged, Mr. Speaker, that after two and a half years the blinkers of socialism are still on? The government, with its blinkers on, is blind to the fact that ideology does not put food on the table and feed the baby, that blind ideology does not respond to the people and their human needs — in this instance, jobs. Blind ideology does not respond to human or economic times, and if it responds at all, it responds solely to itself. Or, Mr. Speaker, should it be charged that the government is deliberately trying to hide the facts from the people of this province, to hide the fact that unemployment in British Columbia is worse than it should be, because of this government's mismanagement?
Are they trying to hide behind a smokescreen of recycled backpatting that we saw in the Speech from the Throne, and cooked-up arguments and battles with other jurisdictions, whether it's the federal government or other provinces, or clerks within offices or other departments? Are the Premier and his cabinet trying to sweep under the carpet and hide from the public the real problems of the day in British Columbia? Unemployment. Mismanagement. Certainly the evidence suggests that the cabinet, the Premier and the Members of this government are guilty on all three counts.
If there is no guilt, why don't we hear from the Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources (Hon. Mr. Nimsick) in this debate? His legislation has been one of the most devastating and important factors in the rising unemployment in this province.
Why don't we have words of wisdom from the Minister of Housing (Hon. Mr. Nicolson), who can't even answer a question in question period, Mr. Speaker? He draws a high salary, goes on television and doesn't even know anything about his own department. He cannot give proof to this House whether millions of dollars that he spent in this province in the last year created jobs for people, jobs for British Columbians. Why don't we hear from that Minister, whose own riding has one of the higher unemployment figures in this province?
Why don't we hear from the Member for Kamloops (Mr. G.H. Anderson)? He's not hearing, but, Mr. Speaker, I'm hearing. This weekend I had a number of calls from Kamloops. His constituents were asking if I knew why their Member wasn't up in this House trying to point out to his own government how their mismanagement and legislation was hurting his own constituents: the closure of mines, the lack of jobs in the allied service industry, the fact that Kamloops is an industrial core in British Columbia. What did the Member for Kamloops do? When you bring it to his attention, he doesn't stand up and speak, and try and point out to the government, and fight for his constituents. He walks across the floor. He walks the other way.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. King) paraded the figures of women in the workforce before this debate. But nowhere did he indicate why these women were working, what type of jobs they had, whether they had gone to work because their husbands had been laid off. In this instance, they usually settle for lower-paying jobs — jobs they should be better able to pass up.
In the Speech from the Throne there is a whole section on International Women's Year. They say, "Policies will be implemented to continue to improve employment opportunities for women in the British Columbia public service Now, isn't that great?
Their philosophy is to change "home service" for
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"civil service" for women. I suggest that any labour policy or any opportunity that the Minister of Labour outlines for women in this province should not be among the first laid off in this high unemployment period.
There was no policy for education of women in International Women's Year so that women would have the opportunity, whether they were 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60, to gain some training so that they would have an opportunity for a good-paying job. Even if they do train, there is no indication from the Minister of Labour that those jobs would be available. That is another reason for the amendment.
In fact, in the whole area of job opportunities for women, it could be said that this government is a complete bust.
Mr. Speaker, other Members have pointed out the statistics, and I don't have any intention of repeating them. But I would like to suggest that there is an opportunity for job creation that should have been mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, in the whole field of agriculture.
Consistently over the last two years this industry has stated that the most serious problem they have is getting labour. Their most serious competitors are the welfare rolls and the high moneys that are paid to unemployed employables who find it easier to get a sun tan on the beach than working in the fields or the orchards. Even in your income assurance, the allowable amount for labour of various ages still does not allow them to compete against the industries in their surrounding areas.
I feel that the government should have pointed out in the Speech from the Throne a great interest in trying, through a cooperative effort with the agriculture industry on a scale not just of 100 jobs or 128 jobs but on a major scale, to help the producers to help in the unemployment picture by creating a programme which would encourage people to work in the agricultural industry. And this also would be a help to agriculture.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to appeal at this point to the backbenchers, if not the cabinet, of this government to recognize how the lack of responsibility, the lack of planning, the lack of sensitivity, and the comfortable style in which they are living has blinded their cabinet and the leaders of their government to the growing problems of the people in this province, and to show that they are, in fact, still very much in touch with the people of this province in their own constituents, and to stand up and vote in support of this amendment so that they, together with us, as the official opposition, and the public of this province can make clear to the government what their errors are and how they can correct them. If we all do this, the people who will benefit most will be the people of the province, most particularly the unemployed.
MR. H.D. DENT (Skeena): I'd like to, Mr. Speaker, in effect give an account of two mills — you might say the tale of two mills — in Terrace, which I think illustrates why I would vote against this amendment.
The two sawmills in question are just across the road from each other. One is Pohle Lumber, owned by Canadian Cellulose. The other mill is Skeena Forest Products, which is now owned by — well, it was owned by Price Brothers of Quebec and is now owned by Abitibi. These two mills, as I said, are roughly equal in size. They are across the road from each other, each employing approximately 200 to 400 employees.
Well, today Pohle Lumber is continuing to operate; there is a payroll coming out of that mill. Skeena Forest Products closed down early in December, and there is no indication at the present time when that mill will reopen. Those men are mostly on unemployment insurance, or else they have had to move out and find employment elsewhere.
This illustrates, I think, very much the difference in the way that we operate. Canadian Cellulose has been responsive to the social responsibilities that all companies should be responsive to — that is, they have a responsibility to the community to try to avoid hardships and, wherever possible, try to keep people employed. So the situation, obviously very simple, is that these men are getting their pay cheques right now. They are still drawing their money, they are at work, because of the influence of this government in the way in which they could exercise influence — similarly at Kitwinga Lumber, near the Indian reserve at Kitwinga.
The other mill, Skeena Forest Products, now owned by Abitibi, the biggest pulp and paper empire in the world, is closed down, and the men are out on the street.
This is the difference, and as far as I'm concerned, that illustrates it perfectly. I could give you other examples of the way in which government expenditures are going forward.
The Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Cocke) was on his feet a few minutes ago, and the opposition leader criticized the Minister of Health and more or less suggested that they were not going ahead with hospital construction. I couldn't believe my ears — because Smithers just got a brand-new hospital built at a cost of about $3 million; there was about a $1 million addition built on the Kitimat hospital; there is the Hazelton hospital, on which construction is to begin in April. A new hospital in Terrace should begin as well this summer, and there is also another major health facility that should be underway fairly soon. I see nothing but progress and good news when it comes to hospital construction in my constituency. So I am very surprised at the comments made.
I think these two things, the difference between
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Pohle and Skeena, and the fact that school and hospital construction is proceeding as normal, shows the kind of policy this government is following. They are attempting to keep things moving, to keep the economy going, and to keep people employed.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): Mr. Speaker, following up the logic of the previous speaker in this debate, it would seem to suggest that the economy of British Columbia would be in good shape if the government owned everything.
I'm interested to see the positive response to that comment from across the way, Mr. Speaker.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): They're working at it.
MR. GIBSON: They are indeed working at it, as the Hon. Member for Oak Bay said.
But I would suggest to the Members of the government that if the government did own everything in this province we would be a great deal poorer than we are now, and it is only the rest of the economy, an economy that was relatively healthy when they took over, that allows them to go ahead with their spending schemes, some of which are excellent — spending on all these kinds of things is very good, but the point I want to make is that that revenue must come from somewhere.
The New Democratic Party — though I disagree with many of their policies — is very good at concentrating on the distribution of wealth. But they are no good at all on the subject of the creation of wealth, and it is the creation of wealth that is exactly the subject of this part of the throne debate.
I couldn't believe my ears when I heard the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. King) stand up and attempt to convince us that 9.6 per cent unemployment in British Columbia was really not such a bad figure and that we should be relatively content with it. Then I heard the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Cocke) tell us that Bill 31 and the policies of the government had nothing to do with the mining situation in this province, and that the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams) responded to the problem in the forest industry, and that's why we're so fortunate in the forest industry now — only 16,000 men out of work. That was some response that the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources had. He brought down the stumpage far too late.
We apparently have some kind of vague employment programme coming up in the forest industry that we suggested three or four months ago, and should have been in place three or four months ago, for the building of capital facilities, roads and that kind of thing that could use the men and the equipment that are otherwise idle and should have been going on over this winter instead of just coming along to dress up a throne speech, and in vague detail at that.
What the government doesn't understand, Mr., Speaker, is, as I say, this question of production. If we don't have it, none of the things they want to do can be done. We aren't going to have it, the way things are going along now. We have 9.6 per cent unemployment, as I said, but worse than that, we have a trend of falling capital expenditure that is not going to develop new jobs in the future in British Columbia. The Premier says that's not so, Mr. Speaker, but as a matter of fact, it is so. I hope he talks in this debate, or I hope he says something about it in the budget speech, but the fact of the matter is....
HON. MR. BARRETT: Up 18 per cent last year.
MR. GIBSON: Eighteen per cent up last year, says the Premier, after inflation zero up last year, and you know it, Mr. Premier. You know that costs in construction are going up at least that fast.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Eighteen per cent per year.
MR. GIBSON: There hasn't been a mine put into production in this province for over two years, and there are lots of good prospects. You know it, and it's been exactly because of the policies of your government. There hasn't been a new pulp mill put on stream in this province for, what is it, more than two years.
HON. MR. NIMSICK: Be careful, or I'll get up and speak.
MR. GIBSON: The Minister of Mines has threatened to speak, Mr. Speaker. I hope he does. I hope he tells us all he knows, and we'll give him all the time he needs....
MR. PHILLIPS: That will be five minutes.
MR. GIBSON: ...because that policy of his needs a lot of explanation.
MR. PHILLIPS: Take five minutes and tell us all you know.
MR. GIBSON: When was the last pulp mill built in British Columbia?
We heard at the truck loggers' association....
MR. GIBSON: It was 1972, says the Member for Cariboo (Mr. Fraser).
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At the truck loggers' association we heard the head of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce say that there's enough timber for six more mills in this province, There's certainly not one on the drawing board, Mr. Speaker.
[Mr. Dent in the chair]
MR. GIBSON: The president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce said that.
AN HON. MEMBER: That's where you get all your information, I'll bet.
MR. GIBSON: Some of the government Members find that amusing, Mr. Speaker, that among other things, Members of this House should listen to the president of the chamber of commerce. Isn't that a shocking thing? I listen to the president of the B.C. Federation of Labour too. I listen to anybody with good advice as to how the economy of this province can be made better.
Getting back to the forest industry, I saw a study done by the Pulp and Paper Association of Canada of 12 new paper machines around the world installed in 1973 and 1974, and not one in British Columbia. This was the original home of this kind of investment, Mr. Speaker. So, as I say, it pains me a little bit and it puzzles me to see Members of the government, who should be wanting this kind of production to make possible their programmes, claiming that things are all rosy in British Columbia.
The difficulty, in large part, lies in the government's philosophy about the way our economic system ought to work. The government believes that the political system, rather than the market system, is the right way to set prices and allocate resources in a much broader area of our economy than is the case at the moment. The government, and the party represented in the government, believes that profits are too high, that they tend to give inappropriate economic signals which encourage people to rip off the consumer and rape resources and that kind of thing, They think that profits are particularly despicable in otherwise useful things like health care and housing. They think that production in this province is automatic and that they've inherited a kind of money machine.
This government, Mr. Speaker, particularly in the area of resources, believes that British Columbia is in the driver's seat in this world. They think that we are so resource-rich that we can put any kind of rules at all on the resource operations and they'll continue to crank out money and jobs for British Columbia. It's just not true, Mr. Speaker. Take our largest industry, the forest industry. We have good wood, but it does not regenerate at anything like the cycle of other parts of the world: around 80 years in British Columbia; around a quarter of that in the southern United States and New Zealand; and around a sixth of that in countries like Brazil. So we have to say, well, perhaps our resources have been developed because we have good technology and good workmen and we've had the capital investment at the right time and good marketing programmes, and maybe we have to husband that kind of thing along and encourage it rather than try and throttle it and lose the jobs at the same time.
Look at our mining industry. We're sure not in the driver's seat there.
MR. D.T. KELLY (Omineca): The biggest profits in history last year.
MR. GIBSON: The grade of copper ore in our province that's being exploited runs under 0.5 per cent in many of our big mines. You go a couple of thousand miles down south into Arizona and New Mexico, and it's up to 0.8 per cent. A little further south you get into Peru and it's up to 1 per cent. A little further south, down to Chile, it's up to 2 per cent — and so on, around to the Philippines.
In that whole mining area of the world we're mining the lowest-grade ore. The reason we are able to do that and provide jobs out of doing that is because there has been a favourable government environment which has made possible the development of these resources, and which has cut off the development of these resources in the last couple of years.
Another belief of this government is that state capitalism gives economies of scale and economic yardsticks, so they believe, to better manage the economy. That is why they get into things like Can-Cel — not Columbia Cellulose as they called it in the throne speech in that curious misprint — and then run Can-Cel through the various economic levers available to the government: the rates on the BCR, the stumpage payable, the right to direct chips from other operators, tax incentives of various kinds.
They run Can-Cel in a way which gives it a profit but doesn't do very nice things for its suppliers, a couple of them having gone bankrupt recently. And Can-Cel had the record up until this fall, when the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams) got a little embarrassed, of paying the lowest chip prices to any independent operator of any pulp mill in this province.
I don't think the government's record with Can-Cel is something to brag about that much.
This is a government that believes they have better answers than the private sector and therefore ought to actively operate and own industry in this province — everything in this province — rather than just
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setting the rules. This is a government that believes that so much that it puts its directors on the boards of Crown corporations which ought to be at arm's length.
So who's really running Can-Cel? It's the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources, and he's really running Ocean Falls, and he's really running B.C. Hydro. He's probably really running Dunhill Development and half the government too. That's the man who seems to be in charge.
Government Ministers should be away from these things so that they can honestly regulate the economy and keep it healthy, rather than saying: "What is the narrow interest of our Crown corporation, and how do we make it look profitable so that we look like wise business managers and so we can say that we beat the capitalists at their own game? Aren't we smart?"
That's the whole effect of what the government is doing. That's why we see the Minister of Labour as the executive vice-president of the British Columbia Railway. Therefore, what could he do about that strike when it came along? He had to take the management position, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Labour: a tool of management. Can you believe that, Mr. Speaker? But that's what happened in the British Columbia Railway strike. That's why Ministers shouldn't be on the boards of Crown corporations.
So what are the results of all these kinds of socialist tenets about the economy? More and more economic decisions are made by people who know less and less about them and were chosen for reasons that have nothing to do with the ability to make economic decisions. And that's certainly true of the gentlemen and ladies opposite.
More and more economic decisions are made by people who are removed from both economic information and the consequences of their decisions. If a government manager makes a decision about some sector of the economy and it goes sour, that's no problem — you just raise taxes, and you get another secretary and bring in another electric typewriter, redecorate your office and the world goes on fine. That's what happens if a government manager makes a bad decision. That's not what happens in the private sector.
You get more and more economic decisions made on the basis of theories rather than facts. As you get more government power in the economy, you get the inevitable corruption that that power brings. You get a continuation of uncertainty....
MR. KELLY: You're not speaking to the amendment.
MR. GIBSON: I am speaking exactly to the amendment, Mr. Member, because I'm talking now about uncertainty and what that has done to the investment climate of this province. It has destroyed the investment climate of this province, and it has slowed down greatly the creation of jobs.
The Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Cocke) was trying to tell this House that the problems in the mining industry come about from the fact that world copper prices are down. Mr. Speaker, world copper prices are down — let's start with that basis. No question about it — very low.
So let's talk about gold. World gold prices aren't down; they're at an all-time high.
Here's a little article from the Bridge River-Lillooet News of February 13, 1975, very appropriately titled: "Bill 31 Strikes Again."
HON. MR. NIMSICK: I've got two copies of that.
MR. GIBSON: You've got two copies of that, Mr. Minister? I hope you read it twice and it really sinks in the second time.
Listen to this, Mr. Speaker.
"Bralorne Resources will not be reopening the mine at Bralorne this year. Mr. Norman C. Croome, who is vice-president of mining for the company, explained that the super-royalty imposed by Barrett's government makes it impossible to operate the mine."
And that's gold at almost $200 an ounce.
"According to Mr. Croome, Bralorne Resources Ltd. has already spent approximately $2 million on renovations at Bralorne, and there would be a further $2 million to $2.5 million to finish the work."
In other words, Mr. Speaker, they're talking about walking away from $2 million they just spent, even though Mr. Croome believes that gold prices will remain high, even go higher. The super-royalties see to it that the mine is simply not a viable entity at this time and cannot reopen until some relief is obtained from the royalties. Without the super-royalty, Bralorne Resources would be making every effort to reopen the mine on a scale of about 10,000 tons a month, or 120,000 tons per year.
So where's the Minister of Health to listen to that little story, Mr. Speaker? It has nothing to do with copper.
MR. GIBSON: The Minister says that he didn't say it would definitely open. Mr. Minister, they just spent $2 million renovating the thing. Don't you think they'd like to open it if there were some way they could make a profit and your legislation permitted it? Of course they would. What do you know about the industry anyway? I can't believe a statement like that.
[ Page 88 ]
AN HON. MEMBER: What is the feasibility on the thing?
MR. GIBSON: Now the Member over here, who's interjecting quite a bit.... The other day, during the debate, somebody mentioned Granduc, and that particular Member said: "Tell the whole Granduc story." I think the Granduc story should be told a little bit, Mr. Speaker. Do you think it's a ripoff operation, Mr. Member?
MR. GIBSON: You tell us your version of the story.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. Will the Hon. Member address the Chair, please?
MR. GIBSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Sometimes that Member gets me a little exercised, that's all. We get along well. (Laughter.)
Granduc has over $145 million invested in that particular property. It is the mainstay....
HON. G.V. LAUK (Minister of Economic Development): Where do you get your facts?
MR. GIBSON: You stand up and contradict them, Mr. Minister, if you don't like them; they're better than your facts, generally. On these particular facts I had a study made. I made a study myself, as a matter of fact. Yes, I got them from several sources; I like to check them.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. The Hon. Member for North Vancouver-Capilano has the floor.
MR. GIBSON: Now the situation at the moment is that Granduc has a high operating cost. Granduc's operating cost is so high that the profitability point is above the point where the super-royalty cuts in. Now what does that mean in simple language? What that means in simple language is that they never have a chance to get any of that money back at all under present legislation, period. Once the super-royalty cuts in, as the Minister should know, for every extra dollar you take in, as the Minister should know, for every extra dollar you take in, you pay out $1.04 in taxes. Do you realize that, Mr. Minister?
MR. GIBSON: Don't you understand that, Mr. Minister?
MR. R.H. McCLELLAND (Langley): Hart never told him that.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, if I can paraphrase the Minister, he said: "You fell for that same line." Mr. Minister, that's not a line — that's a fact. Don't you understand it? Would you please go back to your officials and have them carefully, maybe just in one page, go through a little mining operation of maybe 100 tons a day.
MR. GIBSON: Gosh, Mr. Minister, if only you could understand that, because it's true.
So, if you're paying out 104 cents in taxes for every 100 cents that is coming in, then obviously you have no chance of ever getting anything back. Then they're surprised that there is no mining investment in British Columbia.
Mr. Speaker, it's bad enough that there are 1,500 men already laid off in the mining industry in British Columbia. Let's be completely charitable — let's say that's 100 per cent due to the world copper market. But that's not the end of the story by far. How about the several thousand people, 4,000 or 5,000 people probably, in the exploration field who aren't exploring this year?
How about the fact that claim-staking in the first nine months of 1974 was down over three-quarters from the equivalent period in '71-'72?
MR. GIBSON: They're all in the Yukon, the Member says, in the Northwest Territories. The Yukon is now staking more claims than British Columbia, which is an unbelievable thing, and related clearly to provincial legislation. It can't be anything else.
HON. MR. NIMSICK: They pay a royalty of 10 per cent up there.
MR. GIBSON: The copper prices are the same in the Yukon as they are in British Columbia, but staking is going on there. And what's going on up there is that there's a little bit more certainty than there is down here. The complete, arbitrary discretion of this Minister makes investment, perhaps, not impossible but unwise.
MR. GIBSON: I don't have the figures on how much copper they produced in the Yukon last year, Mr. Member, but I do know that the Yukon production grew a great deal more quickly than
[ Page 89 ]
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the Hon. Member to address the Chair, please.
MR. GIBSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, but this Hon. Member was addressing me, so I just wanted to try and be helpful to him. Let's see. Here we are: Yukon Territory production was 145 million in '73 and went up to 185 million in '74. Let's see, what's that? A little over a 30 per cent raise, which isn't bad. Better than British Columbia, '74 over '73. That's in production, and I'm talking about the staking of claims specifically, and that's what's really escalating, and that's the future in the mining industry, as that Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Lauk) would know, Mr. Speaker, if he studied his subjects a little more closely.
The fact of the matter is that in British Columbia, even at 9.6 per cent, the only reason we've got an unemployment figures less than 10 or 15 per cent is because we're living off capital. We're living on the momentum of the past; we're living on resources in secondary industry that were developed in the past, and we're living on the escalation of services, which is taking in each other's laundry — which is a good thing to do, but it doesn't produce new wealth for this province.
I'd like that Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Lauk), Mr. Speaker, to stand up and tell us how much increase there has been in secondary manufacturing in this province in the last year.
MR. GIBSON: You do it after I conclude my remarks, thanks, Mr. Minister.
MR. GIBSON: The only growth industry in this province, Mr. Speaker, is government and retirement.
MR. CHABOT: Not one job!
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, a man who has the opportunity and duty of travelling around the world quite a bit and talking to financial people a couple of weeks ago said something to me which quite alarmed me, but I fear it may be true. He said that in the financial capitals of the world British Columbia is red-circled. That was the word he used. There is a red circle drawn around the province, which means: If you are thinking about creating jobs, watch out for that place, because Lord knows what's going to happen to you if you go in there.
MR. GIBSON: We've got to encourage our own companies. These figures I cited before are such a disgrace — the new newsprint machines going in all over the world and not in British Columbia, the pulp mills going in all over the world but not in British Columbia at the time of a very good pulp market and with additional timber here available for it.
Now the oil and natural gas picture, of course, is perhaps as discouraging as any.
MR. GIBSON: The Premier says "Bull!" The Premier went to Ottawa, and he came back with empty hands, Mr. Speaker. Empty hands and a bag of wind. That's all he got in Ottawa, just a bag of wind.
HON. MR. BARRETT: That's right.
MR. GIBSON: A bag of gas, Mr. Speaker.
HON. MR. BARRETT: That's all I got from Ottawa.
MR. GIBSON: Is that the way you fight the fight for British Columbia, Mr. Premier?
Mr. Speaker, the Premier called a press conference. This is the way you negotiate if you want to get somewhere. I want you to listen to this. The Premier called a press conference on all British Columbia radio networks, and he said: "This is what we are going to get." He said that, not having any commitments, he could, in fact, raise the price to the United States. So what did he do?
MR. GIBSON: I'll answer that question in a moment, Mr. Premier. You just let me make my point now.
What happened by the Premier doing that? He didn't get one extra cent for British Columbia, not one out of the Americans, but he did get us a lot of enemies — enemies among a group of people we are trying to persuade not to raise the Skagit Dam and whom we are trying to persuade not to bring tankers through the channel.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. GIBSON: What did you do? You alienated them.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please.
[ Page 90 ]
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. Will the Hon. Member address himself to the amendment, please?
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier said the Government of Oregon supports him. The people of British Columbia don't support him, and the people of Washington who buy our gas we have made enemies of for no reason.
Now if you want to say we'll get more money for our gas, that's fine. We should get more money for our gas, Mr. Premier, and it should be done as soon as is possible and fair. I would like you to stand up and tell us when you think it is possible and fair, and I would like you to be more straight ahead than when you told the people of British Columbia that gas was being sold in the United States for $1.93 per thousand, and you led the people to believe that that was the usual price for gas in the United States, when you should know that the price in Washington State is 42 cents per thousand, and the maximum permitted in interstate commerce is 51 cents. It was a straight misleading statement.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I said $1.35 from Louisiana. It should be $1.93 right now. It is $1.63 for 50 million cubic feet daily from Alberta right now. Right now.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the Hon. Member for North Vancouver-Capilano to address himself to the amendment.
MR. GIBSON: But Mr. Speaker, I am addressing myself to the amendment, because this is the kind of thing which is destroying employment in this province. As far as the $1.93 goes, that's what was reported in the newspaper, and I can't take responsibility for that, but that was the quote.
So what's the situation? We got past the drilling time — there's virtually no natural gas drilling this year in this province. So we have the situation where the chairman of the B.C. Petroleum Corp. tells us with great regret that it appears that there is not enough gas in British Columbia right now for the petrochemical industry that he's been talking about, and which the government has been talking about, because the drilling hasn't been going on.
AN HON. MEMBER: Good old Jimmy Rhodes.
MR. GIBSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think at that point that's all I have to say on this particular motion.
I remind the government again that they should not be surprised when investment goes down and when jobs which they had been hoping for do not materialize, when their policies are such as to scare people. That is indeed the case, and we have a case of the government seeking desperately to maximize their revenue at the expense of jobs in this province. Therefore, I reluctantly come to the conclusion that they should be censured in this regard on this throne speech.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief, but I think we should make some comment on a philosophical basis and on the basis of interpretation of facts. I appreciate that as a part of the debate, rather than a continuation of what I think of a somewhat limited degree of personal insults from the official opposition.
The Member wants to talk about the relationship between private investment and public investment. I will be detailing in the budget on Friday just how much investment has gone up in this province, much to the disappointment of those who cry doom and gloom because we do have a democratic socialist government in this province.
It is a fact that we are different philosophically, and I am proud of that fact. We have had an opportunity in the last two years or more to demonstrate our approach to the economy, different and distinct from the approaches of traditional free enterprise governments in this province. And I must say that history will prove, perhaps — if one wants to see it — that aside from some more liberal approaches of people like Duff Pattullo and a few others, there's really difference between the Socreds, that he forgot all his speeches attacking them. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. BARRETT: I must say, Mr. Member, that we have to have a review based on Liberal performance, and I want to make a couple of comments about Duff Pattullo first. Duff Pattullo was the Liberal premier of this province who had the guts to go ahead and try with some exploration for oil and gas in this province on his own.
Duff Pattullo should go down in the history of this province as one of the most fighting premiers this province ever had when it came to understanding the importance of natural resources. He was 300 feet short from reaching the first oil well in this province and, God willing, if he had reached it, we would have had publicly owned oil and gas in this province under the Liberals in 1936 — in 1936 Duff Pattullo had the foresight.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Now, we'll come to your yapping in a minute, because we'll deal with how you gave away natural gas to Washington state....
MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): Get your
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HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Member, there is no way that I would ever join the Liberal party based simply on their own record of giveaways to private corporations and their own record of public investment in failure after failure after failure.
Do I need some examples? This government is attacked because it invested publicly. When we invest we've made money. Let us talk about the ship that they brought from Scotland — the Liberals bought. It was a submarine. It only had one flaw, a terrible flaw, a fatal flaw for a submarine, nonetheless. It only had one flaw. It leaked. (Laughter).
Mr. Speaker, that was a purchase by the Liberal government. Now that's pretty wise going, to buy a leaky submarine. But let's go further. They built a ship. They thought they would develop a private industry on the east coast, the Liberal government, and it was supposed to be hydrofoil. It had a crack. Eleven million dollars for the leak, $55 million for the crack. (Laughter).
Now to continue their record, they built a heavy water plant in Nova Scotia — Truro, Nova Scotia. Just last night I saw on television another outbreak of animosity among the workers at Truro. They haven't got that heavy-water plant going yet. They put in over $100 million in that one. Eleven million dollars for a leak, $55 million for a crack and over $100 million for heavy water. What a record! What a record!
Then they come into this House and say that the government shouldn't get involved in industry. What is our record? What would they have done for Ocean Falls and unemployment?
There is the Member for Mackenzie. You go up to Mackenzie and tell them what Social Credit was ready to do. They were ready to close Ocean Falls down. That's their approach to jobs. We kept it open and they're working. I'll tell the people of Ocean Falls what you intend to do — sell it out.
You talk about investment in pulp and paper mills. We had the Can-Cel directors in my office wringing their hands and crying because they lost $80 million. They couldn't make a go of it in Prince Rupert and Castlegar. What the heck? Celanese Corp. of America, from your blue book, my friend — that is "par excellence." An MBA from Harvard knows that Columbia Cellulose has got to be all right.
They were going down 80 million bucks, but an MBA would be able to rationalize that. But an MSW says: "No, we'll keep the jobs here in British Columbia" — and that's what they did.
I note that the Liberal Leader said that they have all the degrees. Well, he was incorrect then, but the kind of degrees they got have locked their heads in one direction, the academic Dodo birds that look upon private enterprise as the be-all and the answer to all the needs of unemployment. I tell you, if a free enterprise government was in office in this province, considering world conditions today, unemployment would be up another six points from where it is right now.
The length and breadth of this province have depended entirely on the whims of corporate decisions made in New York and London and on Bay Street. There was no opportunity for the people of this province to have a direct say in the development of their own economy until we were elected. We're elected and that's what we've done with the resources, and I'm proud of it, Mr. Speaker. Proud of it.
Now the Member talks about natural gas. When we came to power, that dodo group bird over there, that bird group dodo, or whatever you want to describe them as, had locked us into a 15-year stupid contract for the export of over 500 million cubic feet a day of natural gas — up to 804 million cubic feet a day.
What kind of thinking goes into the export of our raw materials to that tune? It certainly doesn't take much of a genius to figure out. You know that yourself, Mr. Member, that that commitment of 800 million cubic feet a day is disastrous to the long-term development of our own petrochemical industry in this province. And what were they selling it for? Thirty-two cents per 1,000 cubic feet. Less than that. You're absolutely right.
Mr. Member, we have raised the price twice. We raised it to 57 cents. We wanted to go to 99 cents, but you talk about alienating our friends and making enemies; when we were negotiating for 99 cents, and all we wanted was 99 cents, the federal Minister of Energy (Hon. Mr. Macdonald) imposed $1. That's what he did to the Americans — a penny more than we wanted. I had to send a telegram down, saying: "A penny for your thoughts." (Laughter.)
You know why it went up that penny? Because we applied to the National Energy Board for $1.35. If we had gone to the National Energy Board, there would have been public hearings. If we had had public hearings, the people of this province, and the people of this country, would have found out that Louisiana gas is selling for $1.35 for 1,000 cubic feet.
I was amused at the editorials that were blowing their own gas, Mr. Speaker, the day after I had the press conference and I said that the price should go to $1.35, then up to $1.93. One of the editorials was saying: "Oh, nasty, nasty! Asking for too much." The day after that editorial appeared — the next day — the Idaho court authorized the import of 50 million cubic feet of Alberta gas, privately owned, for $1.63 per 1,000 cubic feet. Ours is still $1.00 — and it's too cheap. There is not one American politician, if he were standing here in my place today, who would defend the $1 price, because
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we have to fight for our own jurisdiction and our own people. I will be damned politically if I will ever, ever, cave in to pressure from private oil companies or a foreign country saying that we sell our gas for less than what we should be getting for it.
Mr. Speaker, I tell you this: when I go to Ottawa in April, I will ask that we go to $1.35 and then to $1.93. I will brook no interference from the federal government. I will not have them force money down the throats of the oil companies out of the pockets of the people of British Columbia.
MR. CHABOT: There it is. There it is.
HON. MR. BARRETT: I want to tell you this. I want to tell you that when you signed the Syncrude deal, the federal Liberals gave away an opportunity for economic security in this country that would have provided jobs for the next three generations, guaranteed for Canadians right down the line.
I didn't mean to speak this long in this debate. I didn't want to speak on this subamendment. But when I hear the claptrap from the Liberal Party saying that public investments can't make a profit, then I ask them: "What about the money that the workers of this province created through our purchase of Can-Cel — $50 million profit?" And who did it? The working people of this Province — that's who did it.
Do you know what they're crying about?
HON. MR. BARRETT: There it is, Mr. Speaker. Now they're all crying, saying: "Oh, what have you done? You dumbbells! You've upset the pattern in Canada. Crown corporations are making money in British Columbia. We have always lost money in the federal government. You know that Crown corporations can't run right. You know that publicly owned things can't make money. What are you guys doing in British Columbia?" We're proving the lie to the argument that government can't run things, and only private industry can.
Columbia Cellulose lost $80 million before we bought it. We bought it for $1 down and a $79 million mortgage. The first year we made $12 million; the next year, $50 million. And we're being attacked for that. Come on, Mr. Member, get off it. Every single investment that's been made by this government has been a step forward to better economy, better employment and better return to the people of British Columbia.
You show me where they had any money coming back from natural gas. All we got was a picture of Frank McMahon down there in Florida with his horses. I'll never forget that article. It had: "How to have your cake and eat it too: living in Florida off the profits of natural gas signed by the former Premier. The doom and gloom announced by those people over there when we brought in the petroleum corporation...go back to Hansard and read their speeches. Oh, Chicken Little, the sky is coming down!
Now you wait. When the budget comes down, they'll say: "Oh, well, we didn't really mean it." You wait for Chicken Little and their dance come Friday. I don't want to threaten the Members with anything other than the facts, but that ought to be enough to scare them, Mr. Speaker.
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): The Premier has given us another tirade of his usual performance of trying to tell the people of B.C. how the previous government gave away the resources of this province, trying to mislead the people of this province. Then he goes and does the sermon on the mount. He tells the students at Simon Fraser University that we gave away the resources of this province.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that I am certainly glad all of his backbenchers do not believe the Premier in that regard. They realize that it was the development of the natural resources in this province which has allowed that Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Barrett) to go ahead and squander millions and millions of dollars which were left in his Finance department when he took over as Minister of Finance.
MR. CHABOT: Where is it now?
MR. PHILLIPS: But he continues to work on that myth. He can't support his own policies; he can't tell about economic development; he can't tell of his own policies to provide jobs in this province. So he brings out the old smokescreen and tries to mislead the taxpayers of this province and tag a giveaway of natural resources.
Mr. Speaker, the Premier, in his little tirade a moment ago, referred to Commotion Creek in the Peace River area. Commotion Creek: a disaster in public ownership and public enterprise, a complete disaster.
AN HON. MEMBER: He was proud of it.
MR. PHILLIPS: And the Premier says he was proud of it. Commotion Creek should go down in history as the most infamous coverup and squandering of public funds in the history of the Province of British Columbia. If that Minister of Finance wants to associate his ventures into public enterprise and public ownership and public use of spending money with Commotion Creek, this province is in for utter disaster.
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Commotion Creek was a public scandal and a glaring example of the misuse of millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers' money in this province, a prime example when people who do not know the ins and outs of the industry will not take the advice of those who know the industry, their own experts, to stop drilling. Commotion Creek was drilled.... The Premier is leaving the room because he doesn't want to hear the facts on Commotion Creek. He says he's proud of Commotion Creek. What is the true story of Commotion Creek? What is the true story of Commotion Creek, Mr. Speaker?
The experts told the government of the day under Pattullo that drilling at Commotion Creek should stop months before it actually did. They told the government of the day that there was no gas at Commotion Creek, and there's no gas at Commotion Creek today. I don't know where the Premier gets the idea that there's gas flowing out of Commotion Creek.
The government of the day was told to stop drilling at Commotion Creek. But because of an impending election, the government and the Premier of the day did not want to advise the taxpayers of the province of the millions of dollars that had been wasted in this venture. So to cover up the fiasco and the waste at Commotion Creek, drilling carried on until after the election, wasting millions of dollars of taxpayers' money when services were greatly in demand by the people of the province of the day. That's why the government of the day went down to defeat.
It was Premier John Hart who I have to give full credit to, Mr. Speaker. He had the courage and the guts under the coalition government to tell the people of the province what had been going on at Commotion Creek and to demand that drilling at Commotion Creek cease.
Now if our Premier and Minister of Finance and the strong man of that government condones that type of operation, that type of squandering of taxpayers' dollars.... Is it going on today? I have to ask you, Mr. Speaker: is that same type of squandering of taxpayers' money going on today? Is the taxpayers' money being wasted in a lot of these ventures? And are we not getting the facts because of an impending election? Is the coverup going on today?
I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, if the Premier condones that and looks on it as an example for public ownership of enterprise, then he certainly must condone the same thing in his government today. He certainly must condone it because he stood in this Legislature and said it was one of the greatest examples of public ownership and public enterprise that he had ever seen. So he certainly is condoning the squandering of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money in a time when the budget was only approximately $4 million to $5 million.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the Hon. Member to relate his remarks to the....
MR. PHILLIPS: I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, I'm relating my remarks to statements made in this Legislature, where the Premier and Minister of Finance of this province stood in this Legislature and condoned one of the greatest fiascos and squandering of public funds in all the province's history. He was proud of it and said it was a fine example.
I know, Mr. Speaker, that you certainly don't condone these facts.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to take just a few moments to support this amendment because there are those in this province, and many of them, who are jobless. There are others in this province who realize that the only reason they have employment is because of money and development that took place in the years before this government came to power. Those who are unemployed in this province today are intelligent enough to realize that jobs could be provided were it not for the policies of this government.
There is the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams) chuckling away.
This government, Mr. Speaker, has been a first-rate, prime example of incompetence. But the sorry part about it is that they think they're doing a good job. They think that by hiring 14,000 people into the civil service they are actually relieving unemployment.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know how much increase in the output of this province there is from an increased civil service. How much does it add to the output of industry? How much does it add to the output of our natural resources? The Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Barrett) has depleted the Treasury, a Treasury that was full of hundreds of millions of dollars that could have been used as a buffer against just such times as this. That money could have been employed today to lead the way for private investment to come into the northern part of this province, for instance. But what do we find? We find that in a short two and one half years, Mr. Speaker, the Treasury has been depleted. Now this same government that talks about its great ability to run this province is going to unknown sources to borrow money...
MR. SMITH: High interest rates.
MR. PHILLIPS: ...at the highest interest rates in the history of North America.
Further, Mr. Speaker, this government has taken away the initiative of the people in this province to create jobs. That is the saddest part of this whole government philosophy: they have taken away the
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initiative from the people of this province.
To me the initiative of the people in any country, any state, any province — the initiative of the people — is really the greatest resource that province has. It is this government, through their policies, who have killed that initiative.
I was aghast, Mr. Speaker, to listen on Friday morning last to the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. King) stand in this Legislature and actually be proud of the unemployment figures in this province. He was actually proud. He said that they are not so high as they are in other places. "We're proud of our unemployment record."
What did he do when the Jordan River mine was going to close down? What did he do? Where did he tell those miners to go? He told them to go to Alberta.
The Minister of Labour said, "Well, there are no jobs here because we're not developing our natural resources; go to Manitoba, go to Alberta. They have jobs." This is our Minister of Labour speaking, in a province that is endowed with natural resources.
The other thing that set me aghast, Mr. Speaker, was the fact that our Premier refused to recognize the true unemployment statistics in the Province of British Columbia.
Now I wonder what happened to those who used to care about the unemployed in this province, because here I have a clipping from The Province, Wednesday, October 11, 1972 — about two and a half years ago. The headline is, "Spank Liberal Party Over Jobs." Who is the author of that saying, Mr. Speaker? It's no less than our present Premier — Premier Dave Barrett.
I quote from the article:
"Premier Dave Barrett said Tuesday, 'Federal economic policies are responsible for the high rate of unemployment across the country.'
"Commenting on the Statistics Canada figures which showed Canada's unemployment rate rose to a seasonally adjusted figure of 7.1..."
Less than what it is here in British Columbia.
"...7.1 per cent of the labour force in September, he said 'The federal Liberal Party is no friend of the worker. I would think the people of Canada would very, very seriously consider how they're going to vote in this federal election campaign."'
Here is the Premier of the province blaming unemployment on the federal government. But at least, Mr. Speaker, after being Premier for some three months, he was still concerned about those who were unemployed in this province.
I wonder what happened to those who used to care? I wonder why the Premier changed his attitude. He always cared when he was in opposition. But today the Premier's attitude towards those who are unemployed in this province seems to be somewhat different.
What did the Premier say back in 1971? August 3, 1971:
"The government must lay out its plans to deal with unemployment."
Opposition leader David Barrett.
But yet in the present throne speech, the only words I could find that dealt with unemployment, out of an eight-page throne speech, were 18 words:
"To create...employment, my government is planning the introduction of an employment programme in the forest industry."
His concern about unemployment is diminishing.
Mr. Speaker, on September 24, 1971:
"NDP leader Dave Barrett called Wednesday on the provincial government to put $75
million into winter works programmes in three key municipalities"
The Province, September 24, 1971. The Premier's attitude has changed somewhat dramatically now that he is in a position to do something about unemployment.
July 24, 1972, just before the provincial election:
"Jobs will be the most important election issue."
Opposition leader Dave Barrett.
It's amazing to me, Mr. Speaker, and I was somewhat dumbfounded when the Premier of this province, just a few short days ago, refused to recognize the fact that there are many, many thousands of people unemployed.
What did our Premier say when he was in opposition, Mr. Speaker? I remember it well. What was his cliché that he was spouting about the province at that time? "Wages, not welfare." That was the cliché of our present Premier: "Wages, not welfare." Today it's changed, because it's welfare and not wages.
MR. PHILLIPS: Wasted welfare? Well, what's $100 million? In the last fiscal year we had in this province not only an increase in unemployment but a 16 per cent increase in the number of people receiving social allowance. Where is the cliché of the Premier now — "Wages, not welfare"?
What did the now Minister of Transport and Communications (Hon. Mr. Strachan) say on March 21, 1972? What did he say about welfare, now that he is one of the big powers in the executive cabinet and has the opportunity to do something about welfare and something about providing jobs for the citizens of British Columbia? What did he say then? I quote from Hansard, March 21:
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MR. R.M. STRACHAN (Cowichan-Malahat): I think we can all agree that we are all concerned about the welfare situation in the Province of British Columbia. Certainly in my constituency the people have been very concerned at the rising numbers of people who find themselves on social welfare. I said in an earlier debate the fact that we do have able-bodied, capable men and women drawing social welfare in this province in 1972 is a reflection of the failure of this government in its economic policies and its failure to develop jobs in terms of industries in British Columbia.
Where is that Minister today? Where are the wages instead of welfare? Never before in the history of British Columbia has there been in one year a 16 per cent increase in the number of people drawing social assistance. Not only do we have high unemployment but a 16 per cent increase in those drawing social welfare. In a world that is crying for our natural resources, our Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Nimsick) brings in policies to drive the mining industries and investment capital out of this province.
I wonder how those people who are unemployed today in the mining industry view the policies of this government. I wonder if they believe the Minister's clichés. No, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, it is the policies of this government that are contributing the most to unemployment today.
I want to say, in supporting this motion, that anyone on that side of the House who votes against this amendment doesn't want to do anything about unemployment in this province. Anyone on that side of the House, backbenchers included, who votes against this amendment is voting for unemployment in this province.
Anyone who votes against this amendment is voting for the continuation of an increase in those on social welfare.
Any one of the backbenchers who has unemployment and who has seen industry flee from his constituency and doesn't support this amendment is voting for a continuation of that policy — is voting to see families, the breadwinners who used to bring in good wages, now on unemployment insurance, eking out a mere existence.
Does this live up to the Premier's promises of looking after the little people — of being concerned about the breadwinners in this province? No.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to support this motion. I hope that those people who are going to vote very shortly will think deep and vote with their conscience and not with their leader who condones this policy in this province.
HON. G.V. LAUK (Minister of Industrial Development): Mr. Speaker, I've sat patiently listening to the frothings of the opposition.
MR. McCLELLAND: Stand up when you speak.
HON. MR. LAUK: The Hon. Member for Langley wants me to stand up. (Laughter) Would you get together over there? I always enjoy seeing the Hon. Member for Langley in his seat, Mr. Speaker, because he's got such a cheerful attitude. He's by far the brightest member of the back bench over there, and he should have been leader of that party, except that he doesn't have the proper family connection.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the Hon. Minister confine his remarks to the amendment?
HON. MR. LAUK: This is directly appropriate to the amendment, because I can't believe that if he were leader of the opposition, Mr. Speaker, he would raise such a spurious amendment to the motion to accept the Speech from the Throne.
Now I know the opposition — the Social Credit Party — Mr. Speaker, are very, very concerned about unemployment.
Witness Dan Campbell — now there was an example of preventing someone going on unemployment insurance. He was a former cabinet Minister, Mr. Speaker, and now he is there. Last year he attempted to write a few speeches, and now I understand by reading the Toronto Globe and Mail that he has now turned into a beautician. He has got his little razor and his powder in his desk ready for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett), I'm sure the Hon. Member for Langley would like the Leader of the Opposition to take a powder more often.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
HON. MR. LAUK: Now dealing with the economy, many statements have been made, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the economy. Most of them just fear-mongering, rumour-mongering, the kind of thing that we get from the opposition — carping criticism, no constructive suggestions for this government — just carping criticism. That's all we get. They're going to be sitting over there doing that forever.
HON. MR. LAUK: Their numbers will diminish, but they will continue to do that.
The recent developments in the economy are of significance. When I made remarks earlier in the year, I was criticized for being overly optimistic because I said things like: "The interest rates are coming down." I said things like: "The federal administration in Washington, D.C., will make efforts to have a deficit budget to increase the amount of spending and the housing expenditures in the United States." I was told that that was optimistic. But it's happened. It will continue to happen. I think we should be more
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positive about the economy in British Columbia, Mr. Speaker. We should be more positive about what's happening.
Now what is the government doing to alleviate unemployment? For 20 years in this province, Mr. Speaker, the previous administration were begged by the opposition parties to bring in a development corporation. They were begged. There was just a back-of-the-hand treatment from the former Premier over there. He just said: "No, we're not going to have these giveaway programmes." Now we have the son telling us that we should have giveaway programmes. I'll tell you, Mr. Member, that so long as I'm Minister in charge of the development corporation, we won't give money to your friends in your riding.
MR. W.R. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): You don't listen. You don't listen.
HON. MR. LAUK: We won't accede to your requests. We will make loans on the basis of sound criteria because our Crown corporations make money. We don't lose money.
Now we have had several loans in your area, Mr. Member, and if you think that the BCDC is a disaster, as you describe, you're calling the board of directors, which are some of the finest industrialists and entrepreneurs in this province, a disaster.
I won't tell them, Mr. Member. But I'll tell you. And I won't tell the people in your riding that are getting the benefits of the BCDC loan programme. I won't tell the people in all your opposition ridings who are getting the benefit of the seminars and subsidized business education programmes that are going down, or the industrial land programmes. I won't tell them.
You can sit there and you can carp and you can criticize, but you don't have anything constructive to say. Nothing! As a matter of fact, you're confused, Mr. Leader of the Opposition. On one day you say you want rental controls, and then on the other day you say you don't want rental controls.
MR. BENNETT: I never said I wanted rental controls.
HON. MR. LAUK: Yes, you did. And I'll tell you another thing ....
MR. BENNETT: When? When?
HON. MR. LAUK: It depends on who you talked to last, Mr. Leader.
MR. BENNETT: When?
HON. MR. LAUK: Whoever you talked to last: that's what your policy is.
HON. MR. LAUK: In his speech, when he moved the amendment to this motion, Mr. Speaker, he talked about private enterprise producing the wealth in this province. Well, nobody's going to disagree. But then he said there should be no government interference. "Private enterprise knows how to do it." And then he said, at the end of his speech, that he would bring about a housing corporation that would build houses for the people of British Columbia.
I don't think he knows his backside from second base, Mr. Speaker. On the one hand he says "private enterprise can do it"; on the other he says that it can't. But that's all we get: inconsistencies and carping criticism from the Leader of the Opposition. But once he took to his feet, Mr. Speaker, I was....
MR. CHABOT: How many jobs have you created? Zilch! Zilch!
HON. MR. LAUK: There is one job in Columbia River we should see eliminated, Mr. Speaker. The people of Columbia River would be only too happy. You know, the other day there was a chap from Columbia River who said to me: "We don't see much of our MLA anymore." And I said "No, I suppose it's because we have two sittings." He says: "Well, don't change that, will you?
Another comment made by one of the Members in the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, was on the DREE programme. Do you know, when we took office, Mr. Speaker, there was no basic economic information in this entire province? They had a small staff of statisticians who were kept in the closet by a tyranny of an administration in 20 years. We couldn't get any basic information. We didn't even know what copper we had unless we asked the Japanese.
HON. MR. LAUK: There was nothing going on in the administration in Victoria. And now, soon, Mr. Member, I'll be going up in opposition ridings, and we will show that we govern for all the people in this province. We will sign an agreement bringing benefits of the provincial and federal governments to your areas. We will do that because we govern for all the people in this province...
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Where? Where?
HON. MR. LAUK: ...and irrespective of the carping criticism that we've been hearing. Well now that the Leader of the Opposition has risen to his feet finally, since he became leader — and made a speech, he sat down too soon, Mr. Speaker.
He held a press conference a few weeks ago, and he promised a great new deal from a new Social
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Credit administration. He states clearly that the sins of the father should not be visited on the son. Well, I ask the Leader of the Opposition to remain on his feet. Tell the whole story, because the people of this province aren't convinced.
It's just another lullaby of promises to put the people of the province to sleep. A lullaby of promises unfulfilled. He wants us to forget about the 20 years of outrageous neglect, in the lack of provision of social services and industrial development in this province. A deathbed repentance, Mr. Speaker. It falls too closely in time to the harsh reality of the 20 years of tyranny of his father. Remain on your feet, Mr. Leader of the Opposition, and give us the rest of the story. We're waiting for the other shoe to drop.
What would you do? Every time you're asked, it's just: "Well, I support the NDP policy." Well, who needs you if you support us? Just another lullaby of promises unfulfilled. And just like his father, Mr. Speaker, he will never fulfil a promise, because that'll ruin it for the next election.
MR. BENNETT: No way do I support you.
HON. MR. LAUK: I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, we all hear from the Leader of the Opposition now about what he would do, if he were Premier of this province. God forbid! And you never will. You never will. You'll never be put in this position, thank God, to prove that you can't fulfil your promises. Because, you know, the man seldom fulfils the promises that the boy has made.
Now, with respect to the economy in the future, Mr. Speaker, in this province we've had a fantastic growth, and we are insulated, insofar as any jurisdiction in the world can be insulated, from the present recessionary trend, because of a strong resource position and because of the enlightened management of our resources brought about since 1972 by this administration. There is clearly a sensible husbandry of our resources taking place in this province. There is clearly a new, planned approach to the economy to even out the boom-and-busts of the small towns of the interior of this province that that administration ignored for years: pulling people up from their roots, destroying their families and their communities. We are bringing an end. We can't do it overnight.
The Member for South Peace River (Mr. Phillips), Mr. Speaker, says that we were left with a bank account. But we were left with a heck of a lot of bills to pay, too. And we're paying. We're paying.
This amendment is an insult to the progressive programmes of this little government over the past two years. (Laughter.) There are no constructive suggestions on that side of the floor, none whatsoever. So I, like many others today in British Columbia, Mr. Speaker, am asking the Leader of the Opposition to go and take another powder.
Amendment negatived on the following division:
YEAS — 17
|Anderson, D.A.||Williams, L.A.||Gardom|
NAYS — 32
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, now that we've dealt with this specific question about employment and now that the government is on record as supporting policies which have given us 9.6 unemployment in the province and 102,000 people unemployed, perhaps we could return to the other parts of the opening speech of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.
We've all noticed that there are very little new things in this document. There is the promise of a financial institution; there is a promise of electoral reform and financing disclosures; there is the promise of a study of the Legislature to investigate the terms of reference of another study into tenure in the forest industry. Those seem to be the three things which can be considered to be meat in the eight pages of the throne speech.
As a result of this, I and my colleagues decided that we would go through it with the objective of trying to put down some of the substantive things we think should be in such a speech. I should point out that, as you know, in the past six or seven years, the First Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. McGeer) has put forward an alternate budget every session where a budget was brought forward. To date, his record is perfect in being more accurate than the government, be the government Social Credit or NDP.
Today we're putting forward an alternate to the throne speech. The first thing we'd like to turn to is Bill 31, on which you've heard the Member for North Vancouver–Capilano (Mr. Gibson) mention our views on a number of occasions. I'll be brief on this. In view of the problems that this Bill 31 and the NDP
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legislation on mining has brought forward, the throne speech, in our view, should have announced the repeal of that piece of legislation. It's an ill-advised piece of legislation; it has resulted in a severe decline of mineral exploration and development in British Columbia. This province cannot afford this decline in the revenues from one of our most important resource industries nor can it afford the decline in employment. But that was dealt with earlier.
The throne speech, in our view, should have included provisions which would have repealed Bill 31 and replaced it by a measure providing for taxation of profit.
The second point where we feel the throne speech missed was rent control. We should have been told in this throne speech that the rent control provisions contained in the interim rent stabilization Act and the Landlord and Tenant Act were to be repealed. There's no point in treating symptoms instead of the disease and causes. Treating the symptoms of rising rents instead of encouraging building has simply aggravated the problem of rental housing in the Province of British Columbia. Government measures have resulted in a drying up of rental construction in this province and an extreme shortage of accommodation. There's little point in having rent controls when you fail to have the apartments to control the rents of.
The third point is government investment in the private sector. We were disappointed that the throne speech did not deal with this in the way we would have liked. A Liberal government would repeal legislation which provides the Crown with unlimited powers to invest in the private sector. These powers, we feel, are not appropriate to the government. They result in a conflict of interest which makes it impossible for governments to regulate in a fearless manner to protect the public interest in cases such as Casa Loma, Can-Cel and others which come to mind. How can a government regulate a public utility like a company, a telephone company or a hydro company, if it knows that an adverse ruling might result in a decrease in the public value of the shareholders' earnings? Today, indeed, we've heard time after time government Members proud of profits of Crown corporations — precisely the type of thing that I am warning against at this time.
No one would allow individual Ministers to hold shares of this kind on his own, and quite rightly so. But the same problem occurs when governments and Ministers of governments purchase shares on behalf of the Crown. They get a vested interest in their profitability, and the result is a conflict of interest which cannot be resolved.
I'd like to turn now to the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia Act should be amended to return competition in insurance to this province. I oppose monopolies or oligopolies, whether they be public or private. I believe we should give the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia some six months to a year to shape up. If it cannot meet competition, we should close it down. Government has a role to play in the insurance field, but a tax-supported monopoly is not in the public interest, and ICBC has become just that.
Mr. Speaker, the subject I would like to touch on now is exemptions of Crown agencies from the application of the law, and we heard the Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams), and the Second Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. Gardom) frequently refer to this in specific terms during debates in this Legislature.
In our view, Mr. Speaker, this House should have been asked to undertake a careful examination of legislation passed by this and previous governments with a view to removing provisions which exclude the Crown and its agencies from the application of the law. Now there are plenty of recent examples of exemptions of Crown corporations in the government from the law. ICBC is exempt of the Insurance Act. Crown corporations, like Can-Cel, are exempt of the Companies Act. Other corporations and agencies are exempted from land-use provisions. This type of thing, we feel, is inappropriate, and should be repealed.
Mr. Speaker, the throne speech should also have included positive steps with respect to an ombudsman and an auditor-general, and once more I refer you to private Members' bills that have been put forward in the past by the Second Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. Gardom) and will be put forward in the future.
We were very distressed that, once again, no mention was made of legislation to establish an ombudsman or an auditor-general in the Province of British Columbia. This government should have given a high priority to such measures and, as the NDP has not done so, we will once more be reintroducing private Members' bills to achieve those objectives.
Mr. Speaker, we were pleased that the NDP speech, His Honour's speech, made reference to changes in expropriation laws. We were amused that it referred to an Act not in existence, but nevertheless we would like to see expropriation legislation tidied up. We have called for these changes repeatedly, because the rights of ordinary property owners must be protected. There is much material on this, Mr. Speaker. There's a lengthy report dealing with expropriation, the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Macdonald), who is in the chamber at the present time, knows it well. We would like to see his provisions brought into law and, once more, failing the government doing that, we will be introducing legislation of our own for that purpose.
I trust the changes that will be made include wiping out the iniquitous provision presently found
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in the Municipalities Enabling and Validating Act which allows certain municipalities to seize land — not expropriate, Mr. Speaker, but to seize — without any compensation whatsoever.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Attorney-General, the purpose may be diking, but there is absolutely no reason to have legislation of that nature on the books, and you know it well. You know well the problem that occurred last year with respect to a certain individual in this area. It's not so much that the legislation is used, Mr. Attorney-General, used directly, but it's used as a threat. It's a threat by which you can get any agreement you like from just about any landowner you like in the area affected.
Mr. Speaker, another area which is particularly important, we feel — and I am glad the Member for Atlin (Mr. Calder) is in the room — is that of Indian land claims. The throne speech, we had hoped, would refer to the settlement, or at least the beginning of the settlement, of Indian land-claim questions. We saw nothing in the throne speech whatsoever dealing with land claims, and it was a matter of real regret. Until we get a firm commitment by this government, by the federal government, and firm agreement by the status and non-status Indian associations to settle the whole question of land claims and territorial claims of British Columbia's native peoples, we will find little progress in what is generally termed "Indian problems."
The present federal government is willing to start in this area, is willing to negotiate; the status Indians are willing to negotiate; the non-status Indians are willing to negotiate, but the government, which has the ownership of 95 per cent of all the land in the province, is not. We find that a tragic omission. It's an omission which we have regretted for all the years of this government, but for it to continue to be ignored is, indeed, a disgrace.
In the field of housing, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal throne speech would have reintroduced private initiative into the housing marketplace. It has been shown, and I think it's been shown in this province, that governments cannot produce housing as quickly or, indeed, as cheaply as the private sector. Anyone who checks Dunhill's prices will see what we mean. The expectation of normal profits should be returned to the private housing sector because government intervention, unless on a massive scale well beyond the means of this province, is no substitute for private investment and private initiative. Direct government building programmes are a last resort and should be used only for specific groups in society who cannot be taken care of through market mechanisms. The housing industry should be encouraged to provide a modest product and, indeed, at a modest price. The problem we have now, of excess capacity in this field and at the same time a crying need for people to get housing, is a disgrace.
Mr. Speaker, one of the weakest sections of the throne speech is that dealing with education. It is dealt with in approximately nine lines of the throne speech. It says virtually nothing. It says only that $91 million of new capital construction took place last year, not all of which, of course, came from the provincial government: $91 million for public school facilities, $12 million for community colleges and $3 million for vocational and technical training.
In the field of education we feel there is a need for some vigorous change. Education policies, Mr. Speaker, as you well know, dominated the '72 election campaign. They contributed substantially; I think they were the major contributing factors in the fall of the previous government. But, unfortunately, since this government has come to power we have seen nothing but indecision. Some sort of record has been set as both the school trustees and the teachers have expressed a lack of confidence in the present Minister's ability to handle her portfolio.
The White Paper that was brought forward by this government was nothing more than an oversimplified preface to a basic text on the subject, and indeed, Mr. Speaker, it was only after questioning in the House that we realized that this was the paper upon which the government had pinned so many hopes. It was clearly irrelevant to the quality of education which will be required in this province in the late '70s.
Now, Mr. Speaker, we have had in-House investigations, and they've failed. The government has tried that route twice and failed twice. I think perhaps they have failed because of the inability or unwillingness to follow through.
We feel the throne speech should have announced the appointment of a royal commission of inquiry, headed by a distinguished British Columbian, to investigate problems of both educational policy and of educational financing. This commission should have been empowered to pursue its investigations free of political interference. Its terms of reference should have contained specific instructions to work out means by which the province's independent schools could be funded within the publicly supported educational system. For too long the independent schools have been a political football, bounced around by governments, and nothing has been done to deal with this system, which provides education for some 23,000 British Columbian children.
We feel the Public Schools Act should be amended. We feel that the throne speech should have mentioned amending the Public Schools Act, which limits school trustees to a maximum stipend of $2,000. This is a totally insufficient sum, particularly in the larger districts of this province, where the
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school trustees handle many, many tens of millions of dollars. Trustees are ultimately responsible for their local electorate, and I believe they should be able to seek compensation commensurate with their duties and responsibilities, just, indeed, as we do, just as city council do, just as federal Members do. If they ask for too much, the electorate can change that. If they ask for too little, it's their tough luck. But to restrict them as we presently do is patently absurd.
In the field of Health, Mr. Speaker, we again were disappointed by the throne speech. We feel that the government should have moved immediately to encourage the building of extended-care treatment facilities for senior citizens in this province. The present situation that we have now is just appalling. Under the late and unlamented administration of Social Credit, this field was left exclusively to private enterprise. Private citizens were at the mercy of high-cost facilities, and families could watch their life savings wiped out by the need for prolonged chronic care of one or other member of the family.
We viewed the arrival of this government with some hope; we thought there would be change. We were severely disappointed. This government has allowed an ideological principle, the belief that profits have no place in health care, to stalemate and delay the provision of facilities for chronic care. Indeed, in one celebrated case in my own constituency the government's action has led to the closure of private facilities so that a different government agency could take over the building.
Our throne speech would have announced subsidies to encourage private development in the extended-care field, generally along the lines of that in place at the present time in Alberta — provisions which would have allowed choice by the patients, which would allow fraternal organizations, cities, government to build, maintain and run extended-care or chronic-care facilities, but would allow choice by the patient as to where they would go, with some funding from the government itself.
Also in the health-care field....
HON. MR. COCKE: We're not in a position to do that.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, I wish you would do something, Mr. Minister, because nothing at all has been done to date, and you have had three years to do it.
What I am suggesting to you is that you could have both non-profit and, indeed, in some cases, profit operations, and the ordinary citizen who needs that facility would have the choice as to where they would go.
Also in the health-care field, Mr. Speaker, we thought there should have been something in this throne speech foreshadowing the adoption of a bill to control smoking in public places, a subject often raised by the First Member for Vancouver-Point Grey (Mr. McGeer). We feel that preservation of the rights of non-smokers in our society is long overdue.
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other bills which we feel should have been referred to in the throne speech in the health field. We feel there should have been a medical complaints procedures Act; we feel there should have been an Act to relieve persons from liability in respect of voluntary emergency medical and first aid services. We feel there should have been an Act to establish on a voluntary basis a medical data bank, so if someone were injured they would not have to track down the doctor and medical records of the person concerned, but a centralized computer system could provide the information required for the emergency services that might take place in a hospital or by a medical practitioner many miles from the home of the patient concerned.
Once more, as I mentioned, this would be a voluntary proposal whereby if you wished you could have your medical data stored in a computer available to medical practitioners in case of need, but something which would not be compulsory.
On municipal affairs, Mr. Speaker, we feel the time is overdue for putting the municipalities and municipal financing on a rational basis which reflects the importance of this level of government. We feel that a responsible throne speech would have contained a real commitment to new legislation in this field.
We feel the time has come to institute a new tax-sharing formula which will guarantee both the autonomy of the local government and some equality in the provision of services. The present situation of municipalities suffering from an acute lack of cash, and of municipal councils and mayors spending most of their time trying to weasel money out of senior levels of government, is clearly unsatisfactory, uneconomic and a waste of everybody's time and money.
In the economic sphere generally, Mr. Speaker, it is our view that the government has been leading this province down a very ill-advised path. Not only has it refused to recognize the need to ensure the normal expectation of returns, and thereby dried up investment, it has also taken steps to give the government an equity interest in production, and we believe this to be short-sighted and foolish.
Our fundamental objection to the state's direction and direct participation in the marketplace is clear. We feel this sort of activity results in a conflict of interest which places the public at a disadvantage. We have seen that in the last few weeks from the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams) and now the Minister of Housing (Hon. Mr. Nicolson) in the last few days.
We think the throne speech should have contained
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a commitment to return to private hands most of the business operations which have been purchased by the government. There is little or no purpose to be served by investing public money when capital is available from private sources instead. Such investment, we feel, is a misapplication of public funds which could better go for social purposes.
We feel that this divesting of interest would have to be done, obviously, in a way that would minimize economic dislocation. These enterprises which the government now owns could be stripped off, could be sold outright or else their shares offered to the public.
Public ownership can be a useful tool. But Crown corporations should operate at arm's length and compete in the normal way and not, as suggested by the Member for North Vancouver-Capilano (Mr. Gibson) earlier today, in a way where you have sweetheart deals with government departments.
State capitalism of the sort practised by this government results in nothing more than an exploitation of individuals by publicly owned corporations which Ministers are unable to regulate properly because, as we have seen recently, they are concerned about the firm's profitability.
We feel that legislation should exist to ensure that no civil servant or Minister sits on the board of directors on any corporation — public or private. It is the government's responsibility to ensure that individuals are not ripped off either by corporations which are public or private.
In the environment, Mr. Speaker, we see that the government has again neglected to take any concrete steps towards the creation of an effective guardian department of the environment. We believe there should have been legislative plans for a department of the environment in this throne speech. Its creation is long overdue, and it's needed to ensure adequate public examination of proposals for such things as steel mills and petrochemical complexes and refineries in this province — particularly if these facilities are to be publicly owned.
The environmental record of publicly owned firms in this province is poor — and adequate safeguards for the future are required.
On the same topic, Mr. Speaker, under the environment, the Second Member for Point Grey (Mr. Gardom) will be again introducing a private Member's bill dealing with the leg-hold trap, and we will be proposing legislation which will ban this cruelty from this province.
Once again on the economy, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to say a word or two about such things as steel mills and petrochemical and refining complexes.
We find it curious that we learn only from newspaper accounts about the steel mill — its siting either at Big Qualicum or at Roberts Bank or elsewhere in the province — where the raw materials for this mill would have to be imported. The capital for this mill would have be to imported, and the product of this mill would in very large measure have to be exported.
The British Columbia mill would be the last, obviously, in the area. It would be subjected to the greatest of economic fluctuations. We see many questions in such a mill, and yet we find that government departments — acting without consultation with the public and without public knowledge of the Members of the Legislature — are indeed at the stage of looking at sites for such a development.
Well, Mr. Speaker, the advantages of such a mill are very questionable. Indeed, in my view, given what we know at the present time, they are negative — there are no advantages. I would hope that the government, which believes — or has claimed to believe — in open government, would come clean and tell us what their objectives are.
The steel mill, in our mind, is not at the present time desirable in British Columbia. If there is evidence to suggest that it is, we would hope that such evidence would come forward.
Similarly, with refining and a petrochemical complex, Mr. Speaker, I attended a meeting in Surrey not so long ago and there were 350-odd people there, all concerned about the possible location of a refining and petrochemical complex in their area.
The questions that arise, Mr. Speaker, are numerous. First and foremost, where would the crude oil come from? Alberta has served notice that we will receive no oil from Alberta for any new major refinery. British Columbia at the present time produces only 40 to 50 per cent of the oil which we use in our current refinery.
Offshore oil is the only hope for such a major government refinery. The choices are limited. The choices are: first, Alaska, which you can rule out for American security reasons. The other choices, of course, are offshore suppliers such as Indonesia, Mexico or Venezuela — all very risky suppliers in the light of their most recent history.
We feel that a petrochemical complex based upon foreign crude is unlikely to be successful. We feel that it will be subjected to enormous variations, and we feel that logic indicates that the best, most secure, cheapest and least environmentally damaging source of gasoline and other petroleum products would be through some agreement with the Province of Alberta. There is no real alternative to that, as we see it at the present time, unless we are willing to take risks which, in my mind, are unacceptable.
But once again, here is an area where the government's information, as put forward to the public, is slight. The sites are being looked at, apparently. Land is being assembled, and yet nothing is known by the people who might be affected. If we in this Legislature know so little about these two
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major industrial projects, you can be sure that the general public knows even less.
Mr. Speaker, also on the subject of the environment, the Second Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. Gardom) will be putting in an environmental Bill of Rights and also an Act to Amend the Pollution Control Act, both of which we feel the government itself should have done.
Mr. Speaker, there is a final subject I would like to discuss, and that is the question about integrity in government. It's a great disappointment, Mr. Speaker, that this speech was read to a House which we feel is led by a man whose personal reputation is under a cloud. While the words, of course, were read by his Honour, they were written and approved by the Premier of the province, whose credibility has been in question.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! I think the Hon. Member knows that it is not permissible in debate to make allegations against another Member of a discreditable nature, and I refer the Hon. Member to many instances that I sent last year to the Members from the decisions of the House of Commons.
But to make it more certain to the Member, I'll read for him page 361 of May, 18th edition, where it says: "Certain matters cannot be debated save upon a substantive motion which admits of a distinct vote of the House." Among these are the conduct of the sovereign, the heir to the throne or other members of the royal family, the governors-general and so on, down to the Speaker, the Chairman of Ways and Means and Members of either House of Parliament.
And it goes on to say: "These matters cannot, therefore, be questioned by way of amendment or upon any motion for adjournment, or in any way in regard to this debate."
Consequently, the Member would be out of order to pursue this line as he did in the previous session. I would therefore urge upon the Hon. Member that he discontinue what appears to be a long-standing pursuit of allegations of a personal nature against another Hon. Member.
AN HON. MEMBER: He does very well at it.
MR. R.T. CUMMINGS (Vancouver–Little Mountain): The Hon. Second Member for Victoria also mentioned an attack on Hansard, and he suggested that the Premier edits Hansard. I think he should have to withdraw this. Because he said the judge read the report in the House.
MR. SPEAKER: I don't quite.... I don't think that is germane to this particular question. The Hon. Member, I think, realizes that it would be out of order to make either mention or in any way to deal with the conduct of another Member except by precise, substantive motion dealing with a question, in which it would then be a matter of privilege to be determined by the House, in the event that such a motion were forthcoming in a proper manner. It does not include at this time, which is not the first occasion. It would have to be done at an earlier occasion in any event, so it would be out of order on that ground alone to discuss such a matter of your dispute over facts or allegations that you are challenging the Premier upon, and upon which you question his integrity.
I say that the matter would be out of order in this debate. It would be out of order in any event without it having come by a proper motion, a notice on the order paper in the usual fashion set out in page 361 and 362 of May, 18th edition.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your comments. But I would like to point out that the situation in which we are at the present time, and particularly in light of judicial decisions recently, makes the position of a Member extremely difficult. The fact is that we have had statements made, affidavits sworn and testimony taken in court that contradict statements made in the House. The possibility of a Member of the opposition getting such a motion forward is, as you know, remote to the point of being impossible.
MR. SPEAKER: That doesn't mean we can change the rules that were set out in May.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: I would then like to move an amendment to the motion: that this House regrets that His Honour's speech fails to refer to the problems of marketing agricultural products, quotas and marketing boards. In this way we could discuss those subjects.
MR. SPEAKER: That would be in order.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: The motion is seconded by the First Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. McGeer).
MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. Member will deal with his amendment in his speech. Then that would preclude his part of the throne speech debate, as I understand it.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: That's correct.
Mr. Speaker, the amendment reads: "This House regrets that His Honour's speech fails to refer to the problems of marketing of agricultural products, quotas and marketing boards."
The most recent development in this particular area, which has been canvassed at other times in this House, is, of course, a judgment dated January 31,
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1975, in the registry of the Vancouver court house in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The judgment is given in some detail, dealing with the dispute which took place between certain people and the Egg Marketing Board: namely the British Columbia Egg Marketing Board and Savo Kovachich; the British Columbia Egg Marketing Board and William H. Sutherland; the British Columbia Egg Marketing Board and Chilako Farms Ltd.; and the British Columbia Egg Marketing Board and Hans Egli.
The statement of claims and the argument that went back and forth were essentially on whether or not there were indeed agreements by certain northern producers arranged by the Premier of the Province of British Columbia in his office on October 27, 1972.
"The northern interior producers sought a larger share of the local market by expanding their operations to meet the market as it grew."
We have, in that trial, some dispute as to fact. But there were some findings of fact which were most interesting. According to the judgment on page 6, the northern producers indicated that the Premier indicated that he had instructed the board to implement the demands set forth in the document that had been prepared on behalf of the northern interior producers on October 27, 1972.
HON. A.B. MACDONALD (Attorney-General): When?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Attorney-General, you will be involved in something a little bit later, which I will discuss at a later time.
"At trial" — quoting again from the document — "Mr. Stupich did not recall the direction of Mr. Barrett in the terms in which it was stated by the defendants." Once again, Mr. Speaker, I'm quoting from the judge. Then, he goes on to say: "I accept the testimony of the defendants that it occurred as described by them."
So despite the amnesia of the absent Minister of Agriculture, we have a situation in which the defendants — people I listed earlier: Kovachich, Sutherland, Chilako Farms, Hans Egli — indeed did support affidavits sworn earlier by people such as Mr. William Brunsden, copies of which were tabled in this House.
On page 18 the judge goes on to say: "It was as the result of the intervention of the Premier that the board entered into the agreement of November 1, 1972, with Kovachich." Another date for the Attorney-General.
We go back to look at what happened in previous years, or at least in previous debate in this Legislature, and we have those statements denied.
It becomes necessary for us, we feel, in the light of this judgment by Mr. Justice Hinkson, to decide what is going to be done about it. If the Attorney-General was right in his statements of last year that there was no such agreement and nothing happened, clearly the judgment is based upon some fallacious evidence — a belief, in fact, which the Attorney-General knows to be untrue — and the judgment should be overturned. The Attorney-General should take steps to do that. If, on the other hand, the judgment is correct, if follows conclusively that the affidavits sworn earlier were also correct.
Now, Mr. Speaker, what we clearly have here is a dispute which we canvassed well in the House last year, a dispute that went on for some time and on which we now have a judicial decision based very much on the evidence that was put forward previously.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: The Attorney-General quickly says not so, but what steps has been taken to overturn it if he, in turn, believed that the affidavits earlier were inaccurate? He has taken no steps whatsoever.
The Attorney-General also says "nonsense." Well, Mr. Attorney-General, I daresay you were relying upon the statement made by the Premier to the effect that the judgment somehow supports him because in the judgment it is stated, I believe on page 18, that there was no legal agreement made in the Premier's office. Well, Mr. Attorney-General, if you will cast your mind back to the original affidavits, never was it claimed that the Premier had the right to make a legal agreement. Indeed, the reason that the people were called into his office, the reason that he threatened to kick the, whatever it was, out of them, was because he had no ability to insist upon them changing the agreement they had negotiated with Mr. Kovachich.
So we have a situation where new evidence has come forward on the whole question of marketing of agricultural products, on quotas, on marketing boards. We have a situation which, in our minds, requires this whole matter to be properly examined.
Casting your minds back, Mr. Speaker, you will remember that the thrust of the opposition request, day after day in this legislature, was for an inquiry on the truthfulness or the accuracy or otherwise of affidavits put forward in statements made. Casting your mind back, you will remember that day after day, after day, we asked for a non-partisan, impartial inquiry. Indeed, a judicial inquiry, we felt, would have been the proper way of handling this conflict.
Mr. Speaker, since then there has been substantial new evidence produced in this court case. Since then the testimony, not only of the court case itself plus the judgment, has indicated that the judge believed a number of people, all of whom supported the testimony of one Mr. Brunsden in his affidavit. I believe this is immensely serious, and once more I call
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for a proper judicial inquiry into the whole matter.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, we are all granted immunity from slander and libel for what we say in this House. There are a few people also in the federal House granted the same immunity, a few people from British Columbia. Occasionally, royal commissioners and judges are in the same position, It is granted for a very specific reason. It is granted so that when we come across matters which we believe to be true, we can pursue them fearlessly without worry about any prosecution to prevent us from carrying out our duties. But the corollary of this is, of course, that this right that we have should not be abused.
Mr. Speaker, when affidavits are sworn and then denied, you are essentially accusing the people who swore the affidavits of perjury. When that is done in the Legislature of British Columbia, and ordinary, private, small citizens, such as egg producers or chicken farmers....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Hon. Member is straying again over to allegations against another Hon. Member, which he cannot do. I point out that it's one thing to make allegations about someone who has not been in a court and who has not given evidence, and to blithely cast aspersions on that Hon. Member. What you are seeking to do, you can't do indirectly.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I am calling for an inquiry as a result of a legal decision. I fail to see how a quotation from a judicial decision constitutes an attack on a Member. You may; I don't.
MR. SPEAKER: I think it's a non sequitur to presume that because certain people give certain evidence you have thereby tested the matter in your statements about another Member.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Not at all. I simply point out the need for an inquiry. I'm not here making a decision as to who is right. I am here once more asking for an inquiry on this matter.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: We have had new information, Mr. Speaker. We have had a judge examine witnesses, put them on oath. We have had a judge look at these people. If he is wrong and, indeed, if what took place in this Legislature is right, well, then it's incumbent upon us to make sure that judge's decision is overturned, because obviously it would not be fair and proper for the judge to base his decision on false information.
But if, on the other hand, it does indicate that there is a discrepancy between what happened in the lawsuit and what was said in the House, the need for a judicial inquiry becomes all the more compelling.
It's no question, Mr. Speaker, of being here imputing anything wrongful to any Member. I want to make sure that in this unfortunate matter, which has gone on too long, in this unfortunate matter where a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia has come to a judgment, which indeed supports affidavits filed in this House, I want to make sure that this matter is cleared up and that the names of those who are under a cloud are indeed cleared. It's no criticism of mine to any particular individual that I would request that this be done. So we're back to the situation that we have at the present time.
The fact is that there is no way, in this particular judgment, that we can reconcile statements made in this House and affidavits filed in this House.
MR. SPEAKER: May I point out again that the Hon. Member is now speaking irrelevantly to his own motion? In it he says: "This House regrets that His Honour's speech fails to refer to the problems of marketing of agricultural products, quotas and marketing boards," which is really not the subject that you are embarked upon at this time. I wonder if you would get back to the amendment you yourself proposed.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, the whole situation stems out of the difficulty of amending quotas for egg producers, which I believe you may recollect. The difficulty stems from the fact that the board was acting, in its view, properly. The Premier and the Minister of Agriculture apparently believed differently, and there was indeed no way, apparently, of getting this thing settled through the proper instructions from on high to down below, and this is precisely the subject which we are discussing.
How do you regulate the question of quotas? Should it be done by people being called into the Premier's office? Should it be done by some other mechanism? And, indeed, when it was done by people called into the Premier's office, was it correctly done? I can think of few things which are more directly germane to the problems of marketing of agricultural products, quotas and marketing boards. It is a question of reallocation of quotas.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we get back to the point that I was making a short time ago. We have had the judgment. If the judgment is right, we obviously need a proper inquiry in this House. If, indeed, the judgment was wrong, it is incumbent upon the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Macdonald) and the other Members of the Legislature to make sure it is overturned, because you cannot have it both ways.
The judge, in his judgment, accepts testimony supporting affidavits which were filed in this House. These affidavits were denied in this House. They were denied directly during questioning and, therefore, Mr.
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Speaker, we have a problem of credibility, which we feel is a worthy subject to be brought up in a throne speech debate.
MR. SPEAKER: May I interrupt the Hon. Member again? Page 142 of Beauchesne says, in paragraph 170, subsection 1: "A general debate may take place on the address, but when an amendment is proposed, the discussion should be strictly confined to the subject matter of the amendment." I'm afraid the Hon. Member is going far beyond the subject matter of the amendment because, from his own words, it is evident a court has decided that there is no way you can amend a marketing board scheme — and that is not a problem of a marketing board amending it by any meetings held anywhere else — than by order-in-council, as he sets out in that judgment.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, there is no question that in the Speech from the Throne we can discuss such matters as marketing boards and schemes for marketing produce. When it appeared that there was no legal means of getting the recently elected government's wishes accepted by a marketing board, they resorted to tactics which were referred to in this judgment. It is a question, Mr. Speaker, that if there is pressure, if there is, as has been suggested, bully-boy stuff, if there is kicking that takes place, if people are being kicked around, well then, it is a worthy subject of discussion, because apparently the legal procedures, the administrative procedures that we have, are inadequate.
The judge, in his judgment, Mr. Speaker, you will recollect, as you've apparently read it, indicates that he did admire some of the people for opposing the bully-boy tactics, and one of the people that he felt had been a little too tough was Morgan. You will remember that part.
The question we now come back to is the discrepancy between the statements made in the House, in terms of the affidavits, and the statements made by the defendants here which were accepted by the judge.
MR. SPEAKER: I thought I said just a minute ago that that was the area which had nothing to do with your amendment, because your amendment deals with the problems of agricultural products, marketing them, quotas and marketing boards, not the question of what the judge and you are both referring to in a judgment.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the judge and I both refer to the same thing, namely the meeting in the Premier's office which led to certain decisions.
MR. SPEAKER: We concluded that that has nothing to do with marketing boards.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, I would like to know what has, when this was to overrule a marketing board, Mr. Speaker. The whole purpose of the meeting was to overrule a marketing board, and no one has ever denied that.
MR. SPEAKER: I really find it difficult to convince you that to discuss that which he has ruled is not the function of marketing boards in the manner that you suggest is in any way related to the subject of your amendment. I can't see how I can tell you that, but it seems to be that you have missed the point.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, perhaps I missed the point, but the point is too fine. The fact is that I find it difficult to discuss the marketing board procedures, ways to have the marketing board adjust quotas, when you don't discuss the major way that you have to have marketing boards change quotas which, according to Mr. Sy Kovachich, is to call up your good friend Alf, get a meeting in the Premier's office, and then have the threats that the censored will be kicked out of anybody who doesn't agree and, furthermore, laws will be changed to make sure it happens.
Ah, the judgment, Mr. Attorney-General, the judgment, if you'll look at it closely, will support the affidavits filed in this Legislature. You can shake your head just as long as you like, but I can remember you happily telling us in this House about all those provisions for appeal in the Land Commission Act, and they didn't exist, even though you said they did. The same thing is true here.
The fact is that if you had your office before you, Mr. Attorney-General, you'd realize that you couldn't accept a judgment of this nature if you accept the statements made last year in this Legislature, because there's an obvious injustice, if the Brunsden affidavits are incorrect, if indeed the Sutherland testimony is incorrect, if the Chilako Farms testimony is incorrect, if the Hans Egli testimony is incorrect — all of which has been accepted by the judge. So if you really believe that you're right, then you'll make sure that this judgment is overturned. But you've done nothing of the kind to date. You're relying upon semantics to attempt....
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Those affidavits weren't before the courts anyhow, as far as I know. I read the judgment.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Sure, you've read the judgment. Have you read any of the testimony? Well, perhaps you should, because that's the next thing that comes up. I'm not going to go into it at this
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time; we'll have plenty of opportunity for going into it during your estimates, Mr. Attorney-General. But you should check the type of material which was accepted by the judge in the Kovachich case.
MR. P.L. McGEER (Vancouver–Point Grey): He doesn't even read the bills before they are brought in.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, back where we were before the Attorney-General interrupted. We feel there's enough contradiction in these two areas, and it appears that the House has not had an opportunity of proper examination of the affidavits filed in this House. There's been no opportunity to cross-examine the people concerned, whose veracity was denied by the Attorney-General and Premier. We feel that a judicial inquiry at this stage is absolutely essential.
There is enough in the Kovachich judgment to provide corroboration of the affidavits.
The Premier and the Attorney-General realize that by denying the affidavits in the Legislature, they indeed have accused the people who swore them of perjury, and they're doing that behind the protection that this Legislature provides. We feel there is no way that this type of situation should continue.
Mr. Speaker, I move the following amendment and urge upon the government a proper judicial inquiry by a non-partisan judge of the whole question of the veracity of the Brunsden affidavits, the testimony in the Kovachich case and, obviously, the veracity of the Premier and the Attorney-General, as well as the Minister of Agriculture.
MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, I must say I thought that the Liberal leader was right on the point with his amendment...
MR. D.E. LEWIS (Shuswap): On his head. (Laughter.)
MR. McGEER: ...because the issue of integrity in government is one that definitely is part of this throne debate. Before dealing with the problems of the Egg Marketing Board and the Premier and the Attorney-General and the Minister of Agriculture, there are a few other items that I'd like to be able to deal with. Since it's very near the dinner hour, I wonder if the government would entertain an adjournment of this debate until the next sitting of the House. If the government's agreeable, I will so move.
Hon Mr. Hall moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5:55 p.m.