1975 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 30th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes
The printed version remains the official version.
TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 1975
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Oral questions Beacon auto body shop purchase. Mr. Bennett — 1807
Alcohol and drug information guide. Mr. L.A. Williams — 1807
Late ferry sailings. Mr. Wallace — 1807
Transfer of young offender between jails. Mr. Curtis — 1808
Refurnishing of judge's office. Mr. Fraser — 1808
Empty government buildings. Mr. Gibson — 1808
Purchase of Blue Gables Motel for minimum security institution. Mr. Smith — 1809
Transfer of Haney inmates. Mr. McClelland — 1809
Farm income assurance plan for greenhouse growers. '. Curtis — 1809
Review of ICBC payments to retired persons. Hon. Mr. Strachan answers — 1809
Regular review of sentences for violent crimes. Mr. LA Williams — 1810
Air-sea rescue and medical services for herring fleet. Mr. Wallace — 1810
Committee of Supply: Department of Minister Without Portfolio estimates On vote 269. Hon. Mr. Nunweiler — 1810
Division on vote 269 — 1831
Department of Education estimates. On the amendment to vote 38. Mr. Schroeder — 1832
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I'd like the House to welcome two distinguished gentlemen who are present on the floor of the House today, Dr. Leon Bagramov of the Soviet Academy of Science, accompanied by his Canadian guide, Dr. J. Rae.
MR. D. F. LOCKSTEAD (Mackenzie): Mr. Speaker, we have in the gallery five grade 12 students from Bella Coola, accompanied by their teacher, Mr. Ed Nash. I ask the House to join me in welcoming them.
MS. K. SANFORD (Comox): Mr. Speaker, seated in the gallery today are high school students from around the province who are participating in a UN seminar. The students are here today to find out how a provincial assembly works. Some of them will then go on to watch the federal House of Commons in operation. From there, a few of them will go down to see the world assembly at work in New York. They are accompanied today by the executive secretary to the United Nations here in British Columbia, Lydia Sayle. I wish the House would make them welcome this afternoon.
MR. H.A. CURTIS (Saanich and the Islands): Mr. Speaker, there is a group of students from Parkland Secondary School in North Saanich in the gallery today accompanied by Mrs. Isobel Inglis. This isn't the usual school tour. These students are embarked on a rather detailed study of the legislative process. They are Gary Bland, Mike Bushby, Tevis DeLarge, Louise Herlinveaux, Maureen Love, June Maffoot, Debbie Harris and Sheila McKinnon. Perhaps the House would welcome them
HON. A.B. MACDONALD (Attorney-General): Mr. Speaker, I'd like to bring to the attention of the House that one of the members of our press gallery, Candide Temple, has won the Louis St. Laurent fellowship in legal journalism. She will be able to take a course at either Queen's or Laval University, with a little stipend attached to it. I think it attests to her ability and to the quality and depth of the whole press gallery. (Laughter.)
MR. E.O. BARNES (Vancouver Centre): Mr. Speaker, I'd like the House to welcome three members of Vancouver Centre, Marilyn Sarti, Margaret Birrell and Sharon Johnston.
BEACON AUTO BODY SHOP PURCHASE
MR. W.R. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Transport and Communications. Could the Minister advise if the purchase price of $422,000 that he announced yesterday that ICBC paid for Beacon auto body in Surrey was for the shares only?
HON. R.M. STRACHAN (Minister of Transport and Communications): We didn't purchase shares; we purchased the total assets, That's my information.
MR. BENNETT: Supplementary, then. Did ICBC assume any first mortgages, second mortgages and chattel mortgages that were on the equipment or the buildings or the property, in addition to the $422,000?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: My understanding is that the total cost to ICBC is and will be $422,000.
MR. BENNETT: A further supplementary. Will the Minister advise the name of the outside appraisal firm that did the appraisal for ICBC to establish the price?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: You check on it and get the information.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver–Howe Sound): Mr. Speaker, a question to the Hon. Minister of Education. Yesterday Members had available to them a professional guide to alcohol and drug information, produced by the education department of the Alcohol and Drug Commission. I wonder if the Minister could advise whether the curriculum branch or any other section of her department has vetted this professional guide.
HON. E.E. DAILLY (Minister of Education): No, I can't. I'll have to take that question as notice.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Supplemental, then. Perhaps the Minister could also, when responding to that question, advise the House whether or not this professional guide has been distributed to the school teachers of the province and, if so, what extent the distribution has taken.
LATE FERRY SAILINGS
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Transport and Communications. With regard to Sunday's interrupted ferry schedule and the
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late sailings that were put on as late as 1:30 in the morning, does this represent a change in basic policy by the department to the effect that late ferries will always be put on in such circumstances?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: No, I wouldn't say that it was a change of policy. We look at the situation as it exists.
MR. WALLACE: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Has the department made any decision regarding late night ferries on a regular basis, particularly during the holiday season?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: We've been looking at it carefully for a considerable length of time, as you know. I've never ruled the possibility out in my own mind. That, I think, will have to wait until the restructuring and rescheduling of all routes after we get the three new ships which are due off line a little more than a year from now.
MR. WALLACE: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. In other words, there can be little chance of extended ferry service for the summer months this year. The chances of that being available are unlikely, I take it.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Yes.
TRANSFER OF YOUNG
OFFENDER BETWEEN JAILS
MR. CURTIS: To the Hon. Attorney-General. Several days ago I gave the Minister written information concerning an 18-year-old youth who has been bounced around a variety of jails and correctional centres in recent weeks. My latest information, incidentally, Mr. Speaker, is that this person is now in Oakalla. Has the Minister requested and received a report on this case?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Requested but not received. I'll look into it right away.
MR. CURTIS: I wonder if the Minister would indicate if he will direct that arrangements be made to put this 18-year-old in a facility more suitable than Oakalla, which is where he is, as I say, at the present time.
REFURNISHING OF JUDGE'S OFFICE
MR. A.V. FRASER (Cariboo): A question to the Attorney-General. Will the Attorney-General advise the House if his department had difficulty with the purchasing commission with respect to furniture provided to the office of Provincial Judge Stewart McMorran at Prince George in the amount of $34,421?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, some of the purchases of necessary courthouse equipment sometimes originate from sources outside of the — let's face it — regular channels. In this case it was at the instance of the judge that certain things were felt necessary, but the matter is now settled satisfactorily and it was necessary equipment.
MR. FRASER: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Could the Minister investigate and report to the House whether or not this furniture has been on rental from Van Hoy Stationers Ltd. of Williams Lake at a monthly rental of $4,029, and could the Minister at the same time advise the House whether or not the rental for a period of six months will be credited to the full purchase price?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: I'll look that up, Mr. Speaker.
EMPTY GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Public Works, who just arrived. With respect to the provincial government leased building which has been standing empty on 137 A Street in Surrey, Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Minister if he or his department was approached by the municipality of Surrey last fall for the use of those premises in welfare administration.
HON. W.L. HARTLEY (Minister of Public Works): Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware that we were, but I would be more than pleased to take that as notice and check it out and report back to you.
MR. GIBSON: On a supplementary, Mr. Speaker, perhaps he could also inquire whether his department was aware that as a result of their actions the taxpayers of Surrey and British Columbia are paying $3,000 a month more than they should be in having to rent alternate space.
MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Public Works. Can the Minister confirm that his department leased, effective April 1, 1974, 10,000 square feet at $3.25 a square foot located in the 4400 block of Juneau Street in Burnaby?
HON. MR. HARTLEY: If we were able to get space at $3 a foot, that's certainly a very good rate and certainly indicated that our property division is doing a first-class job. You've made mistakes in getting addresses before and tried to have us leasing
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fried chicken joints, so we'll check this out. I'll take it as notice, Mr. Speaker.
MR. BENNETT: While the Minister, who has been hiding from the House lately, is back and while he is taking that as notice, would he check why this building is still standing empty a year later for an approximate waste of $34,000 spent on rent while it sat empty during this last year?
HON. MR. HARTLEY: As always, I'd be pleased to give this Legislature a full report.
MR. BENNETT: We're still waiting.
PURCHASE OF BLUE GABLES MOTEL
FOR MINIMUM SECURITY INSTITUTION
MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): My question is to the Attorney-General.
Would the Attorney-General inform the House if the purchase of the Blue Gables Motel in Terrace, at a purchase price of $ 195,000, was for the benefit of his department to be used as a minimum security institution in that location?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: We're interested in the area, but whether that has been completed is something I will have to take on notice.
MR. SMITH: Supplemental question. Is it the intention of your department to use the Blue Gables Motel, when the transaction is completed, as a minimum security institution?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Well, as I recollect — and I'll take it basically on notice — we are looking for community correctional centres and that is the object of the exercise of exploring possibilities in Terrace.
TRANSFER OF HANEY INMATES
R.H. McCLELLAND (Langley): Supplemental to the Attorney-General, related to the same idea. With the announcement that some of the inmates at the Haney Correctional Centre will be sent to Oakalla — and one, as has been related earlier, is already there — can the Attorney-General explain to the House how that relates to the stated intention of the government to rehabilitate offenders? That would seem to be a backward step rather than a forward step.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Yes, I entirely agree that the presence of young people in Oakalla is to be avoided at all costs. We do have, of course, very successful operating forestry camps. The bulk of the people, in Haney Correctional will be able to be moved a very short distance. There's Pine Ridge with an operating sawmill, Boulder Bay back on the lake, Stave Lake camp back on the lake, and other facilities. This is basically the move we're making. I agree with you about young people in Oakalla.
MR. McCLELLAND: Could the Attorney-General tell us the urgency? What caused the urgency to close down Haney Correctional until subsequent facilities are available?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: The facilities are available; we'll have the placements by July 1. I have no reason to believe the statement of intention we have made with respect to Haney cannot be successfully completed with successful placement by July 1.
MR. McCLELLAND: But some in Oakalla?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Yes. I mentioned older people.
FARM INCOME ASSURANCE PLAN
FOR GREENHOUSE GROWERS
MR. CURTIS: To the Minister of Agriculture. I wonder if the Minister is in a position now to report any resolution to the problem relating to approximately 130 greenhouse growers on the lower mainland and southern Vancouver Island who thought they had a firm farm income assurance plan. This has been the subject of considerable concern in recent days. Is the Minister working on it? Is it solved?
HON. D.D. STUPICH (Minister of Agriculture): I'm trying to decide which of the questions to answer. I think I'll try the one: "Is the Minister working on it?" Yes, the Minister is working on it and hopes to be able to announce an agreement very soon.
MR. CURTIS: Is this likely to be within a matter of days?
HON. MR. STUPICH: I hope by the end of this week.
REVIEW OF ICBC
PAYMENTS TO RETIRED PERSONS
HON. MR. STRACHAN: In reply to a question asked of me by the Member for North Okanagan (Mrs. Jordan) a week or so ago regarding a letter I received April 12 from the Federated Council of Elder Citizens of British Columbia regarding ICBC payments to retired persons, I want to assure that Member that the matter is being given very serious
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review with the objective mind of correcting that situation.
MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): Would the Minister give assurance to the House that, while this matter is under review for senior citizens, the review will also include widows and others receiving pensions from government sources for physical reasons?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: We'll take a look at it.
REGULAR REVIEW OF
SENTENCES FOR VIOLENT CRIMES
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: A question to the Attorney-General. With respect to appeals from sentences for murder and other violent crimes, does the Attorney-General have a section of his department which reviews the sentences on a regular basis and makes decisions with regard to whether an appeal should be taken or not?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Yes, of course. In the case of capital murder, the appeal is automatic. In the case of other appeals, it would be the criminal officers in my department.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Do I understand that on a regular basis sentences are reviewed and the question of Crown appeals are considered?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Yes, I think the director of criminal law would have that as part of his duties. To give the Hon. Member in more depth as to the procedure — how they find about what's current, when they have decisions, when they rely on the local prosecutor and when they make the decision here in Victoria — I'll be glad to make further enquiries.
AND MEDICAL SERVICES FOR HERRING FLEET
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the recent sinkings of herring fish boats and the resolution which he received from the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union regarding improved air-sea rescue services, I understand the Minister of Health wrote to the federal Minister of National Health and Welfare, Marc Lalonde. I wonder if there has been any productive response from that letter?
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, we have an agreement with the Department of National Defence and there is a rescue co-ordination service in the area. It's not as adequate as we would like to see it.
However, this year I'd like to say again that we will be having medical care to the fishing fleet beginning, I believe, within the next month and during the course of the heavy, heavy fishing period along the west coast.
MR. WALLACE: I take it, then, there has been no suggestion from the federal authorities for any increased facilities or personnel to deal with the increasing number of boats during the tourist season and the summer months.
HON. MR. COCKE: I'm not aware of that, Mr. Member. I am aware, however, that the Department of National Defence is now beginning to bill us for our air-sea rescues and our emergency service calls that they are making. We have had a rather large bill recently.
Orders of the day.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Dent in the chair.
ESTIMATES: DEPARTMENT OF
MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO
On vote 269: Minister Without Portfolio, $402,657.
HON. A.A. NUNWEILER (Minister Without Portfolio): It is indeed an honour and a privilege to be able to debate my estimates for the forthcoming year. I want to congratulate our government for the recognition they have given to the special needs of the people in northern British Columbia whom I've had the honour of representing since my appointment last July. In addition, of course, I'm also a member of the Environment and Land Use Committee and a director of our provincial British Columbia Railway.
As a point of information, Mr. Chairman, I'd just like to mention that the region of concern I am involved in is from the Queen Charlotte Islands through to the Alberta border up near Jasper, and also from the Cariboo through to the Yukon and North West Territories boundary — a population of 200,000 and approximately 500,000 square miles. It's an area that is unique in this province, both geographically and climatically. The people in the region, including the native people who live there, have a deep affection for their area and do enjoy their way of life.
But in spite of this, Mr. Chairman, recognition of northern British Columbia and its unique features has often been very slow in coming along. Although the former government made many great statements and plans for developing the north with its railway and with its hydro-electric dam project, the unfortunate fact has been that this project merely served to
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increase rather than to reduce the amount of dependency northern people had on business and government agencies located hundreds of miles to the south. Too often, it seems, the result of industrial developments that went ahead with the....
MR. W.R. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): On a point of order. Mr. Chairman, the other day you made a ruling where you said Ministers were allowed to quote from a prepared text for accuracy but were not allowed to read speeches in Committee of Supply. This Minister, of course, appears to be reading a prepared text which has already been distributed to the press gallery.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Already.
MR. BENNETT: Now, I would also like to find out the....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I think I get the Hon....
MR. BENNETT: I have a further point of order relating to the parameters of the discussion of this portfolio. It says: "Minister Without Portfolio." I would like to know, when there's a Minister of nothing, if that means we have to question him on nothing? The Minister has ascribed duties to a portfolio that have never been authorized by this House. He has ascribed duties that have something to do with an area he has defined that have never been authorized by this House in a portfolio of the central interior or the south or....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Rather than making a point of order, the Hon. Leader of the Opposition should ask a question of the Minister as to what his duties are.
MR. BENNETT: Well, I'm questioning two things: the reading of his speech and the parameters of the discussion in estimates.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The point of order in regard to the reading of the speech: that point is well taken in the respect that no Member should read his speech but rather should simply refer to any written notes and speak extemporaneously, so far as this is possible.
On the second point of order that was made: I think that the Minister is indicating what his assignment is in the Cabinet or what his responsibilities are; or he may do this. Therefore I think we should listen to find out what he indicates his responsibilities are.
MR. BENNETT: Well, a further point about the distribution to the press.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I have no control over any Member distributing any comments to the press. This is not a matter for the committee.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver–Howe Sound): Mr. Chairman, on the same point of order. Perhaps it would be appropriate if you could direct the Minister to distribute the speech so that we could tell if he is reading it accurately. (Laughter.)
MR. H.A. CURTIS (Saanich and the Islands): On the same point of order. I think the committee has been offended this afternoon with a speech which has been, as others indicate, distributed outside this House. I sit here and nothing has come to my desk from the Minister Without Portfolio. Surely the Chair has an opinion on that and not just what takes place outside the House. I speak, Mr. Chairman, of what takes place inside the House. We have nothing in front of us — which apparently has been distributed widely elsewhere.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. On the point of order, there is no point of order. The Chair has no control over what any Member may distribute outside this chamber. This is not necessarily any connection between what he has distributed and what he is going to say now. Perhaps we can hear the Minister of Northern Affairs and find out what he is going to say.
MR. BENNETT: Well, Mr. Chairman, you just made the same mistake of referring to the Minister Without Portfolio as the Minister of Northern Affairs. I know of no such portfolio.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Thank you for drawing that to my attention. The Minister Without Portfolio will continue his remarks.
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): Mr. Chairman, on a point of order. The point of order is that the opposition are trying their normal delaying tactics. They are forgetting the fact that they had four Ministers Without Portfolio in the former government. Now they are just trying to insult this new Minister. Mr. Chairman, I would hope that they will just contain themselves until the end of his speech. And as far as delivering what he has to say to the press, that's his perfect right, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I believe, on the Hon. Minister's point of order, that there is no point of order.
Would the Hon. Minister Without Portfolio continue his remarks about the wonderful north?
[ Page 1812 ]
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I must say I do enjoy every minute of this, but I am rather concerned about the objections raised against my trying to give the emphasis to the people of northern British Columbia. Really, I do feel that this is rather unfortunate. I would hope that the whole House would also share that concern. I am sure that most of them do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: He's a good friend of mine, too, as a matter of fact.
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: That's true.
I should also mention that I did not take the opportunity to interject yesterday when I saw one of my neighbours, the Member for South Peace River (Mr. Phillips), reading his speech. I wouldn't care to do that. However, let us deal with my estimates. I would appreciate it if you could give me the opportunity to try and present some comments here, and I would be very happy to respond to your questions later. I think that this should be the procedure today as it has been in the past.
Mr. Chairman, there are many people in government and business who looked only at the final figure at the bottom of the right-hand column in development — the balance sheet, the black ink that was at the bottom of the right-hand column — assuming that everything was okay.
Really, Mr. Chairman, everything wasn't okay. The people who live in the north resented the traditional way of handling the development in their community. The election of this government some three years ago was partly due to that resentment. Therefore it has been a basic policy of this government to provide meaningful recognition of the right of the people living outside the population centres of this province to determine their own needs and to be a part of the development of their area.
You know, last week I was really quite proud to attend a function in the community of Burns Lake to witness the first 100 graduates of the Andrews Bay logging school accept their diplomas. Some of my colleagues were there, too. That was really a remarkable difference that has been brought about, Mr. Chairman. It is undeniably due to the faith this government has in the people in the north and the native people in our communities in the north being able to develop their own future. I predict that we're going to see similar situations throughout the region. I also predict: that in Babine Forest Products, when it goes into operation, the local people of Burns Lake for the first time will be sharing an experience to run their own industry in their own community.
Clinton is another area where the people asked us to come in and take a look at their situation, their difficulties, because they believed there were enough resources in their area to expand their industry to deal with their unemployment problem. But they couldn't get the industry off the ground. With some fine cooperation from the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Lauk) and his department, and the Minister of Lands and Forests (Hon. R.A. Williams) and his department, Ainsworth Lumber at Clinton is now under construction. We're looking forward to its opening and operation in the near future.
Since then, Mr. Chairman, my small staff and I have been involved.... (Laughter.)
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: Very few. We've been involved in trying to identify and to document the many, many needs that exist out there, many needs that have built up in the north because of past neglect, past problems, and to try and come up with possible solutions to some of them.
We found in many instances a complete lack of background in the way of information, information that this government was not able to acquire when it came to office because it just wasn't there. We as a government have been really and sincerely committed to the principle of involving local people in making a decision in their own community in going through this process.
The second point has meant that we have spent more time talking to local people than talking to the so-called experts from the south. Of course, this means that we have to get ourselves out of our offices and out into the communities to talk to the people themselves. The format we have used, which we call "community workshops," has proven to be a model for any government. It truly means what it says; it says it wants to consult the local people.
We're here to examine and report on the level of all services to people in the community and direct possible changes to policy and to put programmes into operation to make them more responsive to the needs of the people of the north. To date we have met with some 125 groups and probably three times that many people in many communities throughout the whole region since we started this community workshop programme in December of last year.
We've met with municipal councils, school boards, resource boards, teachers' groups, labour groups, business groups, chambers of commerce, resource and recreation groups, native people, industrial representatives, sportsmen, the general public, and we have plans to visit almost every northern community throughout the forthcoming year. We plan tentatively to appear in the Peace River region next.
[ Page 1813 ]
These demands fall basically in various categories. Each community is quite different. Some have severe unemployment problems, some have severe housing problems, some need a thrust in economic development — it goes on and on and on. Many communities have a combination of all, particularly in those communities that have a high degree of native people.
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): Who wrote that for you — a social planner?
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: We've talked to many people who have pointed out to us that it was the first time anyone in any government had actually come out and asked them for an opinion about anything except at election time.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: They were truly amazed that this was even possible, that it could even be considered by a government. When this government promised to consult the people of the north....
MR. PHILLIPS: Next election we're going to make you a one-timer.
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: The real intent is that this government has gone out to consult the people of the north before making decisions on alternatives on their behalf. You can imagine, Mr. Chairman, that this has had a positive effect on these communities. There is discussion, there is controversy and there are some plain and simple demands. Those demands fall basically into two categories: first, that the government do something to solve the problem of northern people being isolated from essential services, from health services, schooling, housing, dental care — it goes on and on. Do you realize, for instance, that even in my own riding, which is more or less considered the Vancouver of the north, you need to wait about six months before you can get an appointment for non-emergency dental care.
Recreation is another factor. You can't go for a comfortable walk in the park at 20 below zero Fahrenheit. With television reception not being what it is down here, Mr. Chairman, there is a greater need for community recreational facilities in the north. I am pleased that, among other things, our work has achieved to date the recognition of the fact by the Minister of Recreation and Conservation (Hon. Mr. Radford). I wish to thank him for that right here today. Because of the recognition of the special needs of the north have begun to feel a little less isolated now from the good things of life that many other people in British Columbia take as a matter of course.
Mr. Minister of Recreation and Conservation, the people of the north also thank you for it and they will continue to.
There is still a serious lack of communication, however, among various government agencies, not just among provincial agencies but also between the province and the federal government and the various Crown corporations as well.
MR. PHILLIPS: What have you done for them?
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: I haven't been here for 20 years, sir, yet.
MR. PHILLIPS: You never will be either. Have you ever thought of that?
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: I'm not here to point accusing fingers at anyone nor to dish out blame for that situation. I just want to state that it is a fact of life in that region that something about the distance and climate seems to work against effective communication over such a large area. It is creating a hardship — in some cases, a serious hardship — for the people throughout the north. They would like to see some of that changed. They recognize that only local contact with an agency that is both responsible for and based in the north can do a job like that.
As I have seen described in an article in a northern newspaper recently...
MR. PHILLIPS: Which one?
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: ..."If someone is required to work in a cold office, he is more likely to fix the furnace." That was in the Queen Charlotte Islands Observer.
On the question of future development of the north, we have found through our community workshops that there is a wide diversity of opinion on the direction development should take. There are those who want a full-speed-ahead approach to industrial development with an after-the-fact consideration of social planning and environmental impact. There are those who don't want to see any kind of development at all. We have both extremes.
Obviously, though, most people are somewhere in between those two approaches. Almost everyone has told us that they want more information and consultation before seeing anything go ahead, before being asked to make a clear decision on specific alternatives throughout their communities. They do not want instant solutions cooked up in their absence by people who, however well-meaning, are not acquainted with the local conditions. We have seen too many examples of that in the past, Mr. Chairman; too many examples of the equation that goes like this: instant town + instant industry = instant
[ Page 1814 ]
disaster. It is only the disaster that has a tendency to stick around a long time after the planners have gone off back to Vancouver.
On the other hand, Mr. Chairman, everyone in the north recognizes that you will only obtain better social services by creating an increase in the industrial base. This is a common thing in most communities: development of one sort or another is inevitable. But it is this one sort or another that causes a lot of controversy. People want to know what the alternatives are and they want to be able to have their views known and considered. I think they should. We accept that principle whole heartedly. We are committed to the goal of trying to ensure that social and industrial programmes for the north do in fact work and are providing the people there with the necessary tools to establish permanent communities with proper services.
We are absolutely opposed to the return of the old philosophy of just building industry and letting the community look after itself. It just doesn't work to decide where railroads and pulp mills will go by putting dots on the map and letting the people just live under those dots without asking those who will live under those dots whether they will like it or not.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I point out that we have been getting a fair amount of criticism, but we do welcome this kind of criticism. No one from whom we have heard who doesn't know anything about the north has understood. No one from whom we have heard who knows anything about the north really disagrees with either the concept or the need for an emphasis on the north through a ministry.
The criticism we have received, Mr. Chairman, even from those opposition Members for the north, is not that the job is unnecessary, but that we have to do more to perform it properly. My response to that is that considering the job that needs to be done and the very short length of time my office has existed — less than a year, of course — we've accomplished far more than anyone believed possible. We've made more progress in that time than was ever made before towards righting some of the wrongs that were done by shortsighted policies of the past.
I would like to hasten to add that I would agree with other critics that there is still a long way to go, and I would ask them to bear in mind that British Columbia has been very slow in recognizing the needs of the people in the north. Other western provinces are far ahead of us in terms of northern affairs, and spend far more of their annual budget on the north than we do — or will do if these estimates get passed. In fact, I would challenge anyone who believes that northern affairs are an unnecessary expense to the taxpayer to come up north with me and try and sell that notion to the people who actually live there.
Try and sell it to the rod and gun club in Terrace, which I talked to recently. They told me that they were getting pretty annoyed at the way the hunting and fishing regulations kept coming out after the season had already started. Things really reached rock bottom once last year when they got a set of regulations that restricted fishing in their most favoured stream. The regulations, actually, had come out retroactively. You can imagine the fish they caught six weeks ago all of a sudden finding out that it wasn't supposed to be caught retroactively. He'd certainly be grateful to hear that.
Or sell it to the people in other areas of the north who sat at home at night wishing that there was some better television. I know some people might consider that a minor point or a funny point, but I'd like to assure you there are hundreds of former northern residents crowding the lower mainland who left the north for just the simple reason of poor television reception. Long winters can do that to you, Mr. Chairman.
You could ask the community of Terrace, as well, Mr. Chairman, which is sitting there today watching its lumber industry get more and more hard pressed for logs while less than 20 miles away, in the valley towards Kitimat, prime timber is being stripped bare by the huge southern forest companies, taken out and dropped into the salt chuck and moved down to the south, when at the same time the industry in the community is starving for timber. This has been going on for years. A real resource disaster committed against Terrace by an agreement which we have inherited.
Terrace is actually now within five to 10 years of running out of timber because the former government decided to over-log the area rather than force the timber companies to build a new road. They doubled the annual allowable cut being taken out of what was supposed to have been a sustained-yield area.
Rather than face and resolve the Nishga land claim, they combined this area with the existing area and doubled the cut on the adjacent area to Terrace just to prevent that type of problem and also to prevent having logging companies build roads into the distant area. Consequently Terrace is practically running out of timber. I would like to assure you, Mr. Chairman, we are at work now to make sure that they are not going to run out of timber, and I believe that is in your riding, Mr. Chairman.
Speaking of resources, our government has adopted the principle of integrated resource management as a basic formula throughout the north. Through close cooperation with the Environment and Land Use Committee, of which I am a member, we are currently conducting a full examination of resource potential in the north, including recreational, park, fish and wildlife values. This is something that has never been done before, and it is absolutely vital. If we are to proceed rationally with any kind of programme of development of resources
[ Page 1815 ]
in the area, we must take these values into careful consideration.
By the end of this year we will already have begun to receive the first returns from these examinations, and we will be talking to people in various communities to discuss the direction we should proceed from there.
We have been working on the problem of upgrading facilities and services on the British Columbia Railway in northern areas, where so often our former government tried to get away with the cheapest solution possible — a policy, I might add, that we are now finding is resulting in three times the cost to try and upgrade them. Everything now seems to cost three times as much as it would have if it had been right in the first place.
Another example. I am involved in a negotiation with the Stuart-Trembleur native band to try and reach a just settlement of their claim on the British Columbia Railway right-of-way that cuts through 13 reserves near Fort St. James. This is a prime example of the slap-dash, after-the-fact methods that were applied by the former government in dealing with northern people, particularly native people. There was the attitude that goes: "Industry comes first; people can fend for themselves." They put the railway through all 13 reserves with no fixed agreement for compensation to the native bands, almost ruined the local environment in the construction process and caused terrible difficulties among those natives who are trying to maintain their traditional way of life. We have now inherited the responsibility, although I want to say that I welcome that opportunity, and also the responsibility. We've already made some initial progress and hopefully we can reach a satisfactory solution to such a disgraceful injustice.
This is not to say that everything in the north is either frozen solid or bad. There are many wonderful things in the north. There's a wonderful environment.
There are many things that people there are proud of and enjoy very much. Our fishing and our hunting, our winter sports, the high spirits of our people and their willingness to share with others are very precious things. But we want to make sure that our natural resources will work to our benefit up there as well as benefit people from elsewhere. We are determined not to return to the careless laissez-faire attitude that wasted so much of our precious north country in a blind pursuit of riches, riches that too often turned out to be imaginary.
With this budget we intend to take another step toward ensuring that the people of the north are more real partners in the wealth and enjoyment this province is giving to so many citizens who live elsewhere. I look at it as an investment in the future of this province, a future that we in the north intend to share in both a meaningful and a lasting way.
MR. W.R. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): Once again we have the Minister Without Portfolio trying, with his illusions of grandeur, to masquerade as the Minister from the north. Now I've been to the north, and nobody up there considers that he represents their concerns. The strong case he made for calling himself the Minister for northern affairs was that they had a weak MLA in Skeena and the Skeena Rod and Gun Club were concerned because the local MLA wasn't representing them, that the MLA from Prince Rupert was incompetent and that the MLA from Omineca wasn't representing his area. And I agree. I've just visited those areas, and he's right.
MR. D.E. LEWIS (Shuswap): You should hear what they're saying about you.
MR. BENNETT: Now here we have a very good reason put forth by the Minister Without Portfolio for a Minister from the north, someone who could cover up for weak MLAs. But the people in those constituencies, really, are making their own decisions on how to make up for the inadequacies of their local representatives, and they're going to replace them at the next election. That's what they're going to do. They don't need the Minister Without Portfolio from Fort George, and a $400,000 budget, whose sole function is to be the NDP public relations man for the weak northern seats because the local Members haven't been able to solve the problems or overcome the programmes and the initiatives that have hurt the north by this present government.
The Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources (Hon. Mr. Nimsick), and his Bill 31, has hurt the north. The people in Stewart and the people in Smithers will remember this Minister and this government, and they're not going to be swayed by the fact that the government has made a Minister Without Portfolio from Fort George. They resent the fact that $400,000 of the taxpayers' money is used for the simple expediency of being a public relations effort for a crumbling government that hasn't solved the problems. We have mounting unemployment.
I was in Terrace two weeks ago: empty houses; houses they can't build; people complaining about being laid off; no jobs.
MR. PHILLIPS: Empty office space.
MR. BENNETT: People with families wondering how they're going to educate their families, or clothe them, or feed them, and they're not going to be satisfied with the type of presentation made by that Minister Without Portfolio in this Legislature today, trying to justify this further waste of public money.
[ Page 1816 ]
This government will do anything, and spend any amount, to try and get re-elected. It's a disgrace and it's a misuse of public funds, and that Minister in identifying the problem is saying that the Member for Skeena (Mr. Dent), who gets $24,000 a year, and the Member for Omineca (Mr. Kelly) and the Member for Prince Rupert (Hon. Mr. Lea), who's also a cabinet Minister, don't have the ability to represent the area.
Now we have a cabinet Minister from Prince Rupert. This Minister Without Portfolio has suggested that they can't represent their area. I agree — they don't represent the area, and the further spending of $400,000 on the Minister of nothing is not doing anything for the taxpayers.
MR. PHILLIPS: He doesn't represent our area.
MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chairman, I was hoping that this Minister would be able to identify something that this portfolio does.
MR. PHILLIPS: I'll tell you, he doesn't represent your area either.
HON. MR. COCKE: Tell us about your $4 million, Bill.
MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chairman, I was hoping this Minister would say that as Minister Without Portfolio he fulfils a function, even if it's building no houses such as the Minister of no housing doesn't, or if it's messing up the education system, like the Minister of Education. But he didn't identify any single series of programmes except that he wants to travel, he wants to spend money, he wants to act as an alternative to the local MLAs who are not doing their job in the areas of Skeena and Omineca and Prince Rupert, and I think the public, who have identified this as just another waste of public funds in the north, are correct when they say that not only those MLAs but also the Minister for Fort George (Hon. Mr. Nunweiler) and every Minister and every Member of the NDP from the interior of this province will disappear after the next election.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON (Victoria): Mr. Chairman, we listened with great interest to that prepared text circulated to the press, the title on it being, of course, "Notes for the Estimates Speech." It was indeed that — nothing to do really with estimates, but it was a speech.
I'd like to ask the Minister a few questions. He has an enormous staff at the present time, some $400,000 worth of staff. He made this speech, which was prepared carefully, and he was quite unable to indicate what all these people really were doing. In fact, he just simply didn't do it.
I've checked through some of the press releases that have been handed out by this Minister and I can tell you what one person happens to be doing — the public liaison officer — just by quoting from the press releases. This one is dated April 14; it is un-numbered, but that's the date. It talks almost exclusively about the previous government and it runs down the previous government. Let me quote just a few of the things: "Former resource Minister Ray Williston decided instead to combine two TFLs into one unit, et cetera, and wrecked the principle of sustained yield over an entire area." It goes on to talk about "the previous government's shortsighted policy in the region" and it talks about "the policy of expediency followed by the previous government" in allocating timber rights. I could read the whole thing — it's all along that line — but this adds in how this government is determined to protect the economy, et cetera.
I'd like to know what a public servant, paid for with public money, is doing writing political press releases. That is nothing but a political press release and when they put at the bottom of it the standard line, which is, "for further information, please contact Derry McDonell, Public Liaison Officer, 562-8131, Local 350," 1 wonder what this Minister's office is being financed for. Straight propaganda coming out at public expense.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Dunsky could do it cheaper.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Yes, Dunsky could probably do the whole business cheaper. I know Mr. McDonell is obviously working under instructions. It's not his fault; it's the direct fault of this Minister for having an office set up with public money simply for propaganda purposes.
I'd like to just quote another choice little item that attracted my eye. This is another news release, April 3. And here's our friend, the Minister of northern affairs — or the Minister Without Portfolio responsible for northern affairs — saying what a great thing it would be if Prince George got a steel mill. The title of it is: "Prince George Considered for Steel Mill." I'd just like to quote one paragraph for you to indicate the depth that this matter is dealt with in this press release. I'm quoting the centre of page 2: "'It appears likely that the major portion of the international market will have to be reached by ship,' said Nunweiler, 'and this puts Prince George in an awkward position."'
Now I don't know what they're going to do, whether or not they're going to put a canal along the railway line in from Prince Rupert and wipe out Prince Rupert as a port. But I would like to agree with our friend from Prince George. Indeed, if a tunnel won't do it, a canal might, and if he's going to try and overcome this awkward position that Prince
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George finds itself in, he's going to have to spend a great deal more money.
That's just an example of just how great these press releases are that are coming out at public expense. They really are, Mr. Chairman, an absolute disgrace. We are spending $400,000 plus — I think it's $402,000-odd — and we are getting that type of statement, namely that Prince George is in an awkward position for shipping facilities. I don't think we're getting our money's worth when that's the type of result from this vast empire which is being established under the heading of this Minister.
Now I'd like to say a word or two, Mr. Chairman, about the B.C. Rail contracts and the B.C. Rail extensions that were talked about by this Minister.
The fact is that much of the construction has been done since this government came to power. It's not all something that you can hand over to the previous government, as he attempted to do in his speech. The previous government left office getting on to three years ago; much of this construction has taken place since then. If this Minister knew his stuff as a railroad man and as a politician, surely it would have been possible to make some variation in those plans so that we would not have had the continuation of construction in areas which this Minister indicates it should not have gone into.
I'd like to refer to an article from September 26, 1974, The Vancouver Sun, page 95, by Moira Farrow. She was in Smithers at the time. It says: "Dateline: Smithers." She is interviewing a guide by the name of Tommy Walker. Here's a quotation from what the man said:
"'I think the public should be made aware of the ruthless destruction of the natural environment and especially some of our most beautiful wilderness timber land,' said Walker.
"Walker, 70 years old, said that he is astonished that the railway extension runs through the very deep snow country where the snow often lingers on until June. 'The railway seems to go nowhere. It feeds nothing,' he stated. 'They have wrecked the country with no justification, but people don't seem to realize that."'
That is a quote, as I mentioned, from this article by Moira Farrow in September, 1974, more than two years after the election that defeated the previous government. So, Mr. Chairman, I would just like to inform the Minister that we were very unimpressed by his statements regarding the faults and problems of the north being simply those of the previous administration.
Let me state that the previous government did not live up to its commitments to the north. That is, I think, why their Members were defeated.
Bob McConnell, the editor of The Province, in May 25, 1974, had an article entitled: "NDP Northern Vision Faces Moment of Truth." He pointed out that the previous government's Members were lost up there because they had not lived up to their promises. He goes on to point out that the idea that the north, and the northwest in particular, is to become the focus of B.C.'s economic growth simply isn't a likely thing. He quotes Alastair Crerar, the director of the government's Environment and Land Use Committee secretariat, who told a group of economists: "Northwestern B.C. really hasn't the answer to any economic problems but its own." Mr. Crerar mentioned that the growth in the area, mainly in primary industries, "won't do anything more than keep pace with the natural increase of the present population."
The article in turn talks of Alcan, which we know has one of the more developed communities in that area. The labour turnover there is 70 per cent and rising. Clearly the government has no solution even in a town which has been planned very carefully and with plenty of social services. Clearly the government has had no solution to the problem of people leaving and moving to other communities. It's not just a question, Mr. Minister, as you seem to indicate, of the faint-hearted wanting to get better television reception and a slightly easier winter.
We haven't heard much from you on this. In your speech you simply didn't give any details of what bold new steps you are able to take to make sure there isn't this enormous labour turnover. Surely if this happens at Kitimat, the problem is infinitely worse in smaller communities, in particular, mining communities — what mining communities there are left in the north.
One other point I would like to mention is that alluded to by the Minister when he talked about the protection of the environment in the north. I've mentioned the railway. I'd like to point out that the government's own people, the Recreation and Conservation people of the government in the north, feel that things are moving at the present time and last year so fast that they can't really keep up with what's going on despite the increases in manpower which the Minister of Recreation and Conservation (Hon. Mr. Radford) boasted about in the House a short time ago.
Again, a quotation from Moira Farrow, a day before the article I mentioned a moment ago. She was interviewing members of the Department of Recreation and Conservation. On page 6 we find this quotation.
"'For instance, we have had one man working almost entirely on the BCR construction but he can't be in more than one place at a time, Hatler said. 'The BCR is a sore point with us because it's going through some of the finest game country in the province without adequate information about the
[ Page 1818 ]
wildlife that is being affected. I believe the railway could have been better routed, but the government just tells us it has to go along the originally planned route because so much money has already been spent on planning. There are ill-placed culverts, slides in the rivers, all kinds of things like that. It isn't a very nice operation. You can go to the railway and slap the wrists of the contractor or subcontractor, but the point is, we shouldn't have to slap wrists in the first place'."
That, I think, puts paid to the idea that somehow or another all of these problems are those of the previous administration. Sure money was spent on planning, but this government and the Members of this government from the north came down here and we heard them, particularly in the first budgets and throne speeches, talking about how much they knew about the north.
Surely if they knew anything about the problems of the area they could have diverted the construction or changed the plans or ameliorated the problem that has been discussed in the articles that I have quoted. The fact is that the government proceeded just as blindly in implementing these plans as the previous government did in drawing up those plans. In fact, I think that the previous Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources, Mr. Williston, probably would have been able to implement the existing plans as of 1972 a great deal better and with a great deal less environmental damage than the present Member for Fort George.
Mr. Chairman, the other question is the Indian lands question in northern B.C. Today's newspaper, The Province, the 29th of this month, has this little item: "Indians Blockade BCR Line."
"Stewart Lake — Indian unrest over the white man's government..."
That's the way they describe the NDP: white man's government.
"...broke out anew Monday when natives blockaded the British Columbia Railway line from Fort St. James north to the end of steel.
"Members of the Stewart-Trembleur band said the blockade would stay until the provincial government is ready to talk with band members over land settlement claims.
"Edward John, district councillor for the band at Tache Village on the shores of Stewart Lake, 100 miles north of Prince George, said that seven years ago the government said it would negotiate a three-for-one land swap for right-of-way through band lands and a $6 million cash settlement.
"Since then, John said in a telephone interview Monday night, the government has broken its promises and has failed to send representatives to talk with the Indians.
"Nunweiler (Minister Without Portfolio) in charge
of northern affairs for the B.C. Government) was supposed to be here today,'
John said. 'He didn't show up but sent two of his flunkeys. We don't want to
talk to flunkeys. We want to talk to someone with some authority,' John said.
'Until we get some, satisfaction the blockade will stay.'"
He didn't realize, of course, that this Minister has no authority, but he will find that out once he starts dealing with this Minister.
The article goes on to say:
"When asked how many trains pass over this section of the BCR, John said: 'Too damned many, but usually two a week each way.'"
A final line:
"Officials of BCR in Vancouver would not comment Monday night."
Well, you bet they won't comment They know this is a policy decision of the government to proceed, regardless, on Indian land claims. They know this government has had virtually three years to make some changes and hasn't done it.
So the Stewart-Trembleur band has no option but to blockade the BCR to try and bring this problem to the attention of a government which seems to believe that if it doesn't acknowledge a problem exists then the problem doesn't exist.
[Mr. Lockstead in the chair.]
This Minister was set up — or his department — or I shouldn't say department — this northern affairs group that he's got going, which he hopes will be a department, was set up precisely to deal with problems of that nature. If it was set up for any purpose whatsoever except the glorification of the Minister and the attempt to win one seat in northern B.C., it was set up precisely to cut across jurisdictional boundaries of different Ministries and go right to the heart of the problem. Here in today's paper we have classic proof that at least as far as the Indians are concerned, at least as far as the B.C. Rail is concerned, the department is doing nothing whatsoever. The only thing we're getting out of it are press releases giving us such factual information as the fact that Prince George is not on tidewater. I think that if we're going to spend $402,000 we should do a great deal more.
Mr. Chairman, I'm sure this Minister is very busy. I'm sure that with this extensive staff of his, these many people, he's having a lot of trouble keeping them all busy and running after them and attempting to do things to try and keep them all going. I'm sure they're working. But we're in the old situation, Mr. Chairman, where the less there is to do the harder they are trying to find work to justify their existence. And that's precisely what is happening now. That's
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why we're inundated with press releases; that's why the staff has all the time in the world to prepare, word for word, the estimates speech of this particular Minister, which I don't believe even anybody else has come forward with in such detail.
They're keeping themselves busy, they're trying to earn their pay, but the fact is they aren't doing it because they do not know what their objectives are and because the amount of authority given this Minister is close to zero. We have absolutely nothing for last year, and yet this year we've got $247,657 worth of salary — straight hiring of approximately one dozen people to churn out press releases as absurd as the one that I read out to you, Mr. Chairman.
In addition they've got office expenses of $25,000, travel expenses of $40,000, printing and publications of $25,000, an advertising budge t of $5,000 and consulting fees and expenses of $50,000.
Well, Mr. Chairman, if we judge by the press releases that have come out, if we judge by the Minister's statement to this House, this money is totally wasted and we certainly should not grant this Minister this vote.
MR. H.D. DENT (Skeena): Mr. Chairman, I wasn't sure whether I was going to speak or not until I heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett).
However, after I heard that line of drivel from the Leader of the Opposition, I just had to get up and say a few words. I also noticed the somewhat nervous laugh of the Hon. Member for South Peace River (Mr. Phillips) — that was unmistakable. He lives up there and he has been around a bit and he appreciates a little bit of the impact the Minister Without Portfolio responsible for northern affairs is having.
I have to laugh...the Socreds have really been setting the country on fire up there. At a meeting in Smithers the other day, I think about 30-odd people turned out to hear the Hon. Member for South Peace River. Some of our NDP members went along to heckle him, but they felt so sorry for him that they decided to applaud him politely to show the Smithers hospitality.
Also, the Hon. the Leader of the Opposition was in Terrace. Yes, he was. I think he had almost 150 people out. Almost 150 in Terrace — drawing from Terrace and Kitimat. The Premier was there some time ago, and he invariably draws upward of 500.
Again, some of our Members left our own party that we were having and decided to go over and listen for a while. They sat in on the meeting and they were not impressed. They were a little worried before they went. They thought, "Well, you know, maybe the Socreds are really coming to life," et cetera, et cetera. But when they got there, they realized that there wasn't too much to worry about.
MR. PHILLIPS: We've got you worried.
MR. DENT: I wanted to talk a little bit about the record in Skeena, just in passing. The Socreds, for the 20 years they were in power, were great ones for promises. They promised many things in Skeena. They promised a bridge across the river in Terrace. They promised that bridge every election for 20 years. I think they promised a few other things, like a new hospital in Hazelton. They promised maybe a new secondary school for Thornhill. They had a few things they promised, but they never delivered. There were very, very few things delivered.
I just want to give a very brief list of the things that have been delivered by this government since 1972.
There was $20 million of highway construction.
MR. A.V. FRASER (Cariboo): How are you coming with the tunnel?
MR. DENT: Every bridge west of Terrace has been replaced by concrete-and-steel bridges; every single bridge has been replaced, not just before an election but as a matter of an ongoing highway construction programme.
MR. FRASER: Get back in the chair.
MR. DENT: That is just one item. There was $4.5 million for one bridge alone in Terrace. I noticed Scotty Wallace noticed that bridge under construction. It is not an election-promise bridge. It is being built. It is actually being built.
MR. DENT: It will be finished, Mr. Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace), by Christmas. You come up at Christmas and you can drive across that new bridge costing $4.5 million, built by this government. Yet the Hon. Leader of the Opposition said that this MLA and this government have not done anything for Skeena.
We've replaced every single one of the bridges. There is a bridge at Kitwanga, another $3 million structure that is scheduled to be finished this fall.
Now we can just move to hospitals. There is not a single hospital in Skeena constituency that hasn't either been rebuilt or is in the process of being rebuilt or greatly improved. A new hospital in Smithers is now completed. I have the honour of opening that bridge on May 10.
MR. FRASER: Bridge?
MR. DENT: Oh, pardon me, hospital — a $2.5 million or $3 million hospital, a new one for
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Smithers. And a new hospital in Hazelton is now under construction, just started. A $1 million addition was made to the Kitimat hospital. An entire floor that was a shell has now been completely refurbished. We expect that the hospital in Terrace will soon be under construction. Skeena View Hospital is now scheduled to be replaced with a new 150-bed unit. The thing is now in the works. All the hospitals, every single hospital in Skeena, is either now being rebuilt, about to be rebuilt or in the works. Yet they say that this government is not doing anything. The Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Cocke) has done more for that riding of Skeena than any previous Minister of Health ever dreamed of.
MR. FRASER: Order! You're out of order.
MR. DENT: I am coming to the Minister Without Portfolio in a minute, and you will see what he has done.
Under the Minister of Education (Hon. Mrs. Dailly), a brand new auditorium was used for the first time for the music festival last week, a beautiful auditorium costing nearly $1 million. All of the big shots in Terrace were out. I did get an invitation to attend, but unfortunately, we didn't have too much control over that. That is okay. I sat in the back row in my little corner seat, happy as can be that the people of Terrace have this beautiful auditorium now that they can use for fine arts and other purposes in conjunction with the senior secondary school.
A new secondary school has been built in Thornhill and is now in use, having the biggest gymnasium now in the north. This is for the kids. Some of the kids in Thornhill aren't too well off. They really feel proud of that new school.
A new secondary school is scheduled for Hazelton this summer and an addition to a new secondary school in Smithers. The former government only said: "We don't have the money, we've got to cut back, we can't do this, we can't do that." The result was that there was a tremendous shortage of school construction. This Minister of Education has made up that lack, and it has been done very adequately for Skeena.
Let's move on to the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams).
MR. FRASER: You're out of order.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, we should be discussing the administrative responsibilities of the Minister.
MR. DENT: The point is well taken. I was only using this as a prelude to the work done by this Minister. However, the point is well taken. I could go on for hours bragging out of order, but everything has been done in Skeena. I resent the words of the Hon. Leader of the Opposition in this respect.
The Minister of Northern Affairs....
MR. FRASER: He's not the Minister of Northern Affairs!
MR. DENT: The Minister Without Portfolio responsible for northern affairs. I thank the Hon. Member for Cariboo for making this very important distinction.
This Minister has been working very, very effectively, and very quietly, right through the north, and certainly in my constituency. I will just give you one example of the kind of work he has done.
We have in our part of the country, in the Kispiox Valley, probably an example of what we face in the whole province. There are the old-timers living in the Kispiox Valley, there are two Indian reserves, there are the newcomers — you might say the young generation trying to get away from the big cities in the United States and coming up to settle. Some people call them hippies; I say they are just new settlers. They are really no different from the old settlers except they have just arrived. They are in a group, more or less — not by themselves, but they came together as a group. Then there are the industries in Hazelton which depend on the valley to some extent for their source of raw material for the mill and so on.
So we have a fairly typical situation there. You have the developmentalists versus the anti-developmentalists, and a confrontation type of situation where there is no quarter taken. Some are full-steam ahead, and the others are full-steam stop.
The Minister of northern affairs came into this situation, and there was a meeting held in the Kispiox Hall, and he had some members of the staff with him. Very quietly and very calmly he allowed everybody to say their piece. They tried to explain things that the government was doing. The result was that by the end of the meeting people were actually talking to each other. They were actually beginning to talk over ideas on their merits rather than on a confrontation approach. Instead of saying: "I'm for development," or "I'm against development," they were beginning to say: "Let's talk about it in terms of the best interests of this community, and of the whole province." They were not only thinking of their own valley; they were thinking of the needs of the province as a whole and the north as a whole.
That's what that Minister did. That's the kind of thing he inspired, with this group: a realistic discussion about what should be done, rather than a confrontation. The old government thrived on confrontations; they promoted confrontations. Every
[ Page 1821 ]
time they could set up something to attack, they would do it. They set up the working man as a target and blamed everything on the trade unionists, blamed everything on the protesters, blamed everything on this, set up confrontations.
This government, through this Minister, is attempting to undo that sort of thing in the north and create a new atmosphere of consultation, ensuring that everyone gets adequate information, that they pull together in the north and that they realize the responsibilities to the rest of the province, but the south also has to realize its responsibility to the north.
I think the job this Minister has done is excellent along that line.
MR. FRASER: Mr. Chairman, that was quite a discourse we just got from the Member for Skeena about all the wonderful things this Minister has done.
I don't happen to share his views.
One thing he didn't say anything about was the tunnel he's building from Vancouver to Terrace, or Prince Rupert. He should have got that in there as well.
Yes, Mr. Chairman, the people of the province are certainly concerned about this Minister Without having a budget of $402,657 to do nothing, as he has no specific duties. The salary is $45,000, and the travelling expense, Mr. Chairman, is $40,000 for this Minister. Believe me, they are concerned.
Dealing with the other appointments he has, he announced today that he is chairman of the Environment and Land Use Committee, and then took that back and said he is going to be the chairman, but right now he's just an ordinary member of it, but he is also a director of the British Columbia Railroad.
The reason I don't think he is very effective, just mentioning the British Columbia Railroad while we are on the subject, is that we had a serious work stoppage on that railroad from November 26, 1974, until January 7, 1975. The whole central-northern interior was upset and concerned, and a lot of the mayors of the communities involved and hit by this work stoppage came to Victoria to meet, but you couldn't find the Minister Without — you couldn't find him anywhere. He wasn't available. He was here the day before and left. If you think that is doing his duty as a BCR director, I certainly don't. I was here. We had to end up seeing the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. King), who got fired for the way he handled the work stoppage. So I would like to hear from the Minister Without on what he has to say about that. There was certainly no activity from his point where there should have been in that serious stoppage that affected his riding and a lot of other ridings in the central interior, and still is.
I want to ask this Minister a question or two. We've made it quite clear in this House that he is the Minister Without Portfolio. Mr. Chairman, I've got a letter here on his stationery that says on the heading of the letter: "Minister Without Portfolio, Northern Affairs." That's on the mast of the letterhead. But on the back in the signing of the letter appears the signature of the Minister, "Mr. A.A. Nunweiler" and typed below that, "Minister for Northern Affairs". I think this Minister owes this House an apology, and also for any letters that have gone out under that signature, because he is definitely deceiving the people he is writing to. And he writes hundreds and hundreds of letters, believe me. None of the letters have any content in them except the fact to distort the portfolio. He should apologize to this House. We've never voted money for the Minister of northern affairs and he's signing himself the "Minister for Northern Affairs." I take strong exception to that. I would like him to apologize and tell this House that he's going to desist from signing his letters in that way.
He mentioned the boundaries of his jurisdiction. I think he mentioned the boundary of Cariboo. Well, Mr. Chairman, Cariboo is quite happy with their presentation. We don't particularly need any of our consulting staff and so on, so just move your boundary up to your own riding. You can deal with the rest of them, but stay out of Cariboo.
He mentioned, apparently when I was out of the house, that this government saw that Ainsworth sawmills established in or near Clinton. Let's get the record straight here. It just happens that Ainsworth sawmills are one of the best independent operators in the northern or central interior, and Ainsworth sawmills are the ones who went in there and invested all the money. There's no government money or anything else involved in it, if that's the message he as trying to put over.
The other thing this Minister is noted for: he's the man who has instituted task force-it is in the central and northern interior. You, Mr. Chairman, when you were there speaking on behalf of this Minister, certainly pointed that out. There are meetings after meetings but nothing is ever resolved; you can go to meetings but nothing ever gets resolved.
Something else this Minister hasn't been doing — I take exception to that — his attendance in this House is about 30 per cent of sitting time. I have to assume that he's up in his Prince George office, but I ponder whether he is. Maybe he would have something to say about that. His attendance is not better, I would guess, than 35 per cent of the sittings that we've had.
He gets up there to put over the impression that everything was terrible under the 20 years of the prior government. You know, the Prince George citizens that he represents will be sure happy to hear that. I would just like to show you the other side of
[ Page 1822 ]
the coin. In 1952 the great big city of Prince George in his Fort George riding had a population of 10,000 people. It's a thriving community, and it's done exceptionally well. The former MLA was the man who made sure that happened. Don't ever forget it for one minute. Don't give us your old socialist bunk about all the failures.... There are lots of failures in this outfit. This administration has had more failures in government policy in two and a half years than the prior 10 administrations in British Columbia.
MR. LEWIS: Oh, you're kidding. You're kidding.
[Mr. Dent in the chair.]
MR. FRASER: The Member for Omineca (Mr. Kelly) — I want to have a word or two with him. He's so happy with this Minister. They're so upset with this Member for Omineca that they had an indignation meeting up there. The Member showed up — I'll give him credit for that — but his response was: "If you're so upset with me, get up a petition and I'll resign." Do you know what happened? They got a petition up. In the last election he got 2,600 votes to win that riding. Do you know how many signed the petitions? There were 3,200. Nobody knows what happened to the Member for Omineca and his petition, but he got more names on the petition asking him to get out than he got votes in the 1972 election. This Member....
MR. FRASER: He should have quit and gone back to Fraser Lake.
MR. FRASER: Yes, Mr. Chairman, this is just a waste of public funds — the $402,000. He has no authority, he can't achieve anything, and I certainly won't be voting for this salary vote.
HON. G.R. LEA (Minister of Highways): Mr. Chairman, first of all, I'd like to ask a question. Is it permissible to talk about the Minister of northern affairs or the department of northern affairs now? I was wondering, because I know that for the last two years the Hon. Member for South Peace River (Mr. Phillips) had a bill presented in this House asking for us to do that. It's not on this year, eh?
MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): You wouldn't accept it.
HON. MR. LEA: I just wondered. Have you changed your policies — the Social Credit, Mr. Chairman — of whether or not we should have the north represented by a Minister? When they didn't think we were going to do it, Mr. Chairman, they were sure calling for us to do it; now we've done it, they say: "We don't like it. We don't like it anymore." You can't have it both ways.
HON. MR. LEA: The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett) mentioned that the people in the north are dissatisfied with the MLAs who represent them. Well, in the north we ran as a group, a group of NDPers in the last election, saying that the north had been neglected for 20 years, that we should vote them out and put someone in who will pay some attention to them. And guess what? The people in the north felt that they were neglected. Otherwise, they wouldn't have voted us in and the Social Credit out. But they did do that. They were not satisfied with what was happening — or, rather, satisfied with what wasn't happening.
MR. FRASER: They'll never repeat that mistake, I'll tell you that.
HON. MR. LEA: No, they probably won't. They'll keep government in.
What has been happening in the north? Through the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Lorimer).... I'd like to mention that all of these programmes that are going on in the north now under the Minister of Lands, Forest and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams), under Highways, under Economic Development, and under Municipal Affairs are all being co-ordinated by the Minister Without Portfolio, every one of them. Other provinces did that prior to 1972, but we only had a chance to do it once we were elected government, which we did do. The north does have special problems, does need special co-ordination, and that's exactly the kind of leadership that the Minister is giving. They know it, too, or they wouldn't be so worried. They know.
MR. PHILLIPS: You're the biggest problem.
HON. MR; LEA: Now I'd like to go into some specifics, especially for my riding. Is the north getting a better break under this government with a Minister Without Portfolio, who is nevertheless responsible for co-ordinating the affairs of the north and has had a great input into cabinet and to caucus on some of the problems that are facing specifically the people of the north?
Now we've know that for some time there have been inequities between the southern parts of this province and the northern part, and I think that other Members of other parties who have come from the north will go along with me and say that that's true.
[ Page 1823 ]
You can't even belong to a fraternal lodge in the north without knowing that people in the south are getting a better break than those in the north. It happens in every part of living in the north. They haven't had a break up there. They're getting it now.
Just to give you an example, one of the areas of criticism the official opposition was talking about was that the north, or generally the municipalities and the smaller areas — which basically is the north — were not getting an even break in terms of the taxpayers' money that's being spent by this government for those small municipalities in the north. Well, I have some figures here of bills that have been passed to aid smaller communities in the north, and also policies of this government that have been so designed to aid northern communities and, consequently, people in the north. I'd like to speak about areas I'm closest to. So I'll speak about my own riding and the three municipalities in my own riding, and the kind of breaks they've had because this government, through that Minister, has taken pride in the north and been concerned with the north.
Masset is the only municipality that is incorporated on the Queen Charlotte Islands. Over and above the $34 per capita grant, because this government is here, they are receiving a per capita amount of money of $80.70. That's over and above the $34 per capita grant. You can't sneeze at that, can you, Mr. Member for Cariboo (Mr. Fraser)?
MR. FRASER: Yes, but how many figures did you use twice?
HON. MR. LEA: No figures used twice. I'll send it over.
MR. FRASER: I'd like to see it.
HON. MR. LEA: I'll give it to you.
Now Port Edwards, another municipality that's incorporated, with a population of 1,000, is receiving over and above the per capita grant of $34 another per capita amount of $67.50. You'll notice that as the communities get larger, the amount of aid goes down. That's probably only just, because those other smaller communities have to catch up.
Prince Rupert, with a population of 17,500, over and above the per capita grant of $34 now receive a per capita amount of $24.16.
Now if you'd like to add on the amounts of $34 to each one of these amounts, in the case of Masset you get $114.70 per capita going to that community; to Port Edward, $101.50; and to Prince Rupert, $58.16.
Now is that the kind of aid you people want to stop to the small communities in the north? Are those the kind of programmes that your government, when you were government, brought in? They certainly aren't. If you believe that you can go through the north in your southern way — and I'm not talking about the northern Members but the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett) — and talk that kind of hooey to those down-to-earth kind of people and have them believe it, well then, you've got another think coming.
The people in the north know where it's at. When they start looking at the kind of benefits they're getting by having that Minister and by having this government, your 20 years of neglect look pretty glaring in the eyes of those people in the north.
You can use all the rhetoric you want, when they go down to a style of living which is a lot better than was provided by you people, they're going to remember who did it for them and they're going to remember who didn't do it for them.
You know those "seven safe seats," as you used to call them? That's what the former Premier used to say: "The seven safe seats in the north." Well, in 1972 he lost the lot of them. Do you think those people are going to go back to the Social Credit government, Mr. Chairman? Well, let's look at all those new faces that are creeping up in the Social Credit Party: Grace McCarthy, Robert Bonner — a long list of new faces.
Those people in the north know very well that there's a brand new policy in the Social Credit government. All of a sudden they're progressive; all of a sudden they're concerned about people; all of a sudden they're concerned about municipalities; all of a sudden they're concerned about the north. But the big shadow from Kelowna still floats over that party, and you're not going to live that down because, in fact, you haven't changed. Look at you. You haven't changed and the people in the north know it.
MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): Speaking of shadows floating over the province, I think we've just seen the biggest and windiest shadow. It talks about the voice from the south. I think he said: "The voice from the south speaking in the north." I would suggest that the Member for South Okanagan (Mr. Bennett) is more in contact with the people of the north than the Member who has just spoken, who tends to make his travel through the north in helicopters rather than in a people-oriented manner such as car or walking or even talking. The people of the north know the cost of that helicopter and they know that this Minister has become infatuated with the fattest government. He has put in the place of people and concerns of people a strong tendency to enjoy the benefits of his office and entertain this House with rhetoric rather than with fact.
We just have to look at the administration of his portfolio to see the potholes in this province, to see the neglect of the highways in this province and to see that, in fact, the highways in this province, which were once of the safest and highest quality of any
[ Page 1824 ]
province of this type of difficult terrain and jurisdiction, are now in a state of unsafe conditions. In fact, the truck drivers of this province....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Will the Hon. Member talk about the roads in the north, or at least talk about the north?
MRS. JORDAN: I find it amazing, Mr. Chairman, that this Minister Without Portfolio, who is in charge of $402,657 for the taxpayers of this province, has under these estimates made one prepared statement and has made no other effort to make any presentation to this House. He is so confident in his own portfolio that he's had to have three Members of the government speak for him.
I should correct myself; he hasn't got a portfolio. Of course, this is one of the core problems of the debate: $402,657 for a non-portfolio's inactivity.
Mr. Chairman, we heard from the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Cocke) who gave a very flimsy defence of this Minister. He tried to defend the Minister by attacking the former administration. I have no intention of defending the former administration, but I would suggest that those who stand up in this House with a record of inactivity on their part must have all the gall in the world to suggest that in 20 years nothing was done in British Columbia. If it hadn't been for the strength and the administration and the capabilities of the former administration, these Members wouldn't even be sitting in this House today because British Columbia wouldn't have grown. As a large membership within that party are recent immigrants to Canada and to British Columbia — and very welcome, I might say, but certainly they came here within the last 20 years — they wouldn't have been attracted to British Columbia if it hadn't been a province of prosperity. If it hadn't been a province of progress and if it hadn't been a province oriented to people, they certainly couldn't afford their fat salaries that they're getting today. This MLA, this excessive MLA, wouldn't be able to receive his $45,000 a year plus travelling expenses that he's getting.
The Minister of Health mentioned the three former Ministers Without Portfolio. I'm glad he brought up the subject. Just for the record, I'd like to read in what they cost the taxpayers of British Columbia. In 1970-71 the total vote was $46,079; in 1971-72, $47,121; and in 1972-73, $61,790. I don't propose to defend their contribution to British Columbia, but there are many people in this province who will. There are many people in services to people in this province who will stand up and defend the actions of those former Ministers and their efforts.
In 1973-74, under the NDP administration, the cost of Ministers Without Portfolio — then only one — went to $118,672. Today we see a Minister Without Portfolio doing nothing and saying nothing for $402,657. No wonder the Ministers in this House have to get up and try and defend him.
Isn't it interesting that the confidence of this government in this MLA was reflected only yesterday when there was an emergency situation in the northern part of the province where there's been a tidal wave or flood.
This government dispatched a Member of this House to observe this emergency situation and to make recommendations to the cabinet. Was it the Minister Without Portfolio from Fort George, the man who is receiving this large sum of money we are discussing now? No, indeed not. The government didn't have the confidence they should have had in him. They sent the Member for Skeena (Mr. Dent).
You can't suggest there was a matter of his possible estimates coming on because everyone knows the schedule of estimates in this House at this time of selective closure. Besides, this matter was attended to yesterday and the government has 10 planes at its disposal, including three jets.
I might suggest that if they had the confidence in him that these Ministers of defence are trying to imply, it would have been this person's responsibility to make that recommendation to cabinet.
One wonders why, at this time when these estimates are considered so important, the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Stupich) is doing his income tax. Surely, if the government's concern was as these speakers are trying to outline, then indeed he would be more interested, and other Ministers would be more interested.
With all due respect, this person is a nice person, but I suggest that he has become the pretty boy of the NDP package and that he is dressed in expensive frills of $400,000-odd, and that this is a luxury the people of British Columbia cannot afford. It is a luxury the people of the north cannot afford.
They want action, not image. This is a Member with no official title. This is a Member with no official capacity in terms of what he is claiming on his letterhead and in his presentation to people in this province. This is a Member who is without the confidence of his colleagues, as witnessed by their actions in relation to his responsibilities. He is a poor excuse for the government's concerns for the north, a non-Minister with a non-title and with no confidence.
As I mentioned, this is a party package, an expensive party package of the NDP which the people of British Columbia cannot afford and are concerned about. It is the people of the north who are the most concerned and who say: "Don't give us expensive image; don't give us expensive propaganda. Give us interest, give us concern and give us action."
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): I agree that this is a somewhat difficult vote to debate, because it is
[ Page 1825 ]
the Minister Without Portfolio. If we have to discuss northern development, it seems to have such an overlap from the responsibilities of many other Ministers. I presume we have a fair amount of latitude, Mr. Chairman, to touch on a variety of subjects.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The Chair is simply ruling that you must relate it in some way to his administrative responsibilities within the cabinet. So use your judgment and discretion in this matter.
MR. WALLACE: I always use my good judgment in this House, Mr. Chairman. Everybody doesn't agree that it is good judgment.
The Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. King) is acting as the cabinet support for the Minister Without Portfolio.
In thinking about northern development, I have to say that whether the rules of the House are suitable for the debate or not, inevitably it is a subject that involves everything from roads to resources to housing to schools to health to human resources. When we talk about northern development, the image that is conjured up in the minds of most people is the opening up of new areas and the development of new town sites and the moving of substantial numbers of people into an area previously at least underdeveloped, if not undeveloped. I feel, first of all, that we should perhaps realize or ask the Minister to what extent and within what time frame this kind of general, rather simple picture of northern development I have tried to define is going to come about.
I was very interested in a speech given last year in May by one of the government's senior civil servants, Mr. Crerar, the provincial director of the environment and land use secretariat. He was addressing a meeting of the Association of Professional Economists. I think it is interesting to put into the record on this debate what this very highly skilled and experienced adviser to this government said about northern development. He said: "Let's look at its economic history" — talking about the northern part of the province — "which shows that it has always been a marginal area at the best. It is on the fringe of the market area, has a poor climate and has always been classified as a high-cost area."
He told the meeting: "The area now has enough work for 4,500 people, mostly connected with the forest industry." He forecast that during the next 20 years, there may be about 1,000 new job opportunities.
That very mild and limited outline of the potential for development as Mr. Crerar saw it is something which I think is very much at variance with the general image which this government has promoted and, indeed, must be at variance with the fact that the government has appointed a Minister Without Portfolio and gone on to state that his specific area of particular concern should be northern development. When one looks back to the moment when the Minister was appointed, the report of that occasion makes it quite plain that the Minister himself was not quite clear exactly what his responsibilities would be, although I think he put one point clearly in context when he is quoted as saying that: "The northern regions just haven't had a squeaky wheel in Victoria." That's a quote from the Minister from The Vancouver Sun of that date.
What I would like to ask the Minister, first of all in general terms, is whether the government does have some kind of long-range, overall game plan, if that is not too loose a use of the phrase "game plan." In other words, is there some overall plan or is the government just deciding that there is potential for northern development and that it will go ahead in some kind of piecemeal fashion, a bit here and a bit there, depending on how hard the residents scream and shout either for or against government proposals? That would be my first question.
My second question would be related to the fact that while the Minister has held meetings in the north, and has listened, my information from people in places like Terrace and Dawson Creek is that they really are no further forward in knowing what, if any, specific plans the government has up to this point in time and the degree to which they are in a position to modify or alter these plans. There is certainly a feeling that any development that does take place should certainly take recognition — and perhaps it has not been recognized in the past — of the essential human factor and the fact that it isn't just a question of a job or a new industry or a new mill without all the attendant social and health and environmental requirements to justify making such a new project in any one of these areas.
The third question I would like to ask is the degree to which there is some well-defined plan for transportation programmes in the northern part of the province. We hear a great deal about cooperation with the federal government in the development of railways, and we hear about very large sums of money being committed over the next five or 10 years particularly designed to establish better transportation of resources, particularly to Prince Rupert, which is destined to become a larger port than at present. It seems to me, the few years I've been in this House, we've heard that talk all the time I've been here. It is always promises or grandiose outlines of plans as to what is going to happen. But, as far as I am aware, there has been no very fundamental improvement or enhancement of railway transportation facilities.
To take another specific example, the people in Dawson Creek, I gather, are not very much impressed
[ Page 1826 ]
by the suggestion that there is to be a lot of northern development. It certainly does not seem to have involved them in any great amount of discussion. When we talk about transportation, the question is asked: what, if anything, is this government doing in cooperation with the federal government on paving the remainder of the Alaska Highway? With all the exploratory developments going on for oil and natural gas and minerals in the Yukon and North West Territories, I understand there is a constant increase in the use of the Alaska Highway. Certainly the feeling of many people in the Dawson Creek area is that the government could enhance and improve not only the highway, but also provide the kind of stimulus to the economy that a greater use of the highway would result in.
The whole question of secondary industry in the Dawson Creek area is another subject about which I would like to ask the Minister. This government at least did go ahead with the alfalfa cubing plant which was turned down by the former administration. So I give recognition to the cooperation of people like the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Stupich) and others in developing that plant in Dawson Creek. But the feeling of many people there is that that is just an example of many other types of clean secondary industry that could be developed.
My next question to the Minister would be: is his main interest in northwest B.C. or does he have some real desire to help the people in the northeastern part of the province? I can tell you they feel that they are pretty well being neglected at this present time.
The other general impression that I get from that area is the overlooking of the tremendous tourist potential that there is in the various parts of the province. As the Minister mentioned earlier on this afternoon, when governments talk about development, so many of the people in the area only think in terms of industrial development, pollution, and undesirable consequences. But on the other hand, many of these people in the northern areas, as one of them said to me, if they want to travel for recreation or even in the summertime, they have considerable distances to travel.
Some areas, such as the Monkman area with its alpine areas, have been looked upon by visitors from other countries, such as Austria and Switzerland, as having just fantastic potential for development. It has already been visited, I gather, by mountain climbers of some world renown who claim that it has the kind of attraction to them that is equal to almost any other part of the world, both in terms of its interest as a climbing area and its natural beauty.
What is being done in terms of development of our tourist and recreational industry in these areas?
The main general complaint, of course, which we find when you travel in the north country, almost unanimously, is that the people living in these areas are sitting on valuable resources which are cut or mined or shipped from their area. They have the distinct impression that they never get back, in terms of government-funded services, the kind of value which was taken out of their area in the first place.
They feel that some of the difficulties of northern living are certainly not recognized by we southerners, that the whole problem of cost of transportation, for example, to get to a metropolitan centre or to get to some of the areas of culture and recreation and entertainment, are not appreciated, and that there has to be some greater effort by government in the northern areas to recycle some of that very substantial revenue that comes from resources in the north country.
I think, Mr. Chairman, that the last question I would ask is on the whole transportation problem involving development in northern B.C., and the degree to which this government is presently in communication or in discussion with the federal government and the American government regarding the Alaska Highway. What was the latest discussion on that subject, and where is it at the present time? Or is it, in fact, a dead issue — that there is no plan whatever to tackle the road part of the transportation problem? I had asked about the railways, for which we have had numerous announcements, off and on, and I am still unable to see any tangible evidence of what has always been promised. What is the position with the Alaska Highway?
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: I would like to make one or two comments here with respect to some of the questions that were raised. I might mention that the area itself, as I had mentioned initially, covers northern British Columbia as a whole, and not just one particular sector of it, like the Member had wondered about.
In Dawson Creek...we are going to be in the Peace River sometime in the near future and will be determining some of the local concerns on these subjects that you have been raising. There is some potential with respect to Sukunka coal, which we are going to take a look at, and there is not anything specific I can mention at this time. That will be of interest to the Peace River region, particularly, I suspect, Chetwynd and Dawson Creek.
I might mention, on your questions on transportation itself, that the very nature of that region is primarily to a large degree a resource- and transportation-oriented region throughout the entire north. Natural resources, particularly timber that is, are the lifeblood of the economy throughout, pretty well. In order to be able to get the value out of that resource and to have the industrial activity economic, it requires transportation corridors to be able to achieve that. That requires roads and railways, of course.
[ Page 1827 ]
We have got a main railway, We've got a potential for a major port in Prince Rupert, which is also part of the transportation system. But without going into the detail, let's start out with the general picture on transportation.
We have got a railway going from eastern Canada right through to the west coast. It's got a junction at Jasper. Jasper to Vancouver is the south line and that is the one that has very intensive traffic flows at this time, almost operating to capacity. The projection down that route is approximately 10 per cent increase per year. With that railway operating at capacity, it would be necessary to double that track. When we think in terms of 10 per cent a year, that's 100 per cent in 10 years. That volume would require double-tracking to be able to handle future potential traffic volume. It's almost impossible, economically and otherwise, to double-track the Fraser Canyon.
At the same time, we have found that there are bottlenecks in Vancouver harbour — Vancouver terminals. We have been advised from time to time that it takes, for example, up to two weeks to load one ship in Vancouver harbour compared to two days in Seattle. So there are major problems in that respect on occasion.
The only real conclusion we can come to is that there is going to be a major spillover of tonnage from eastern Canada through to the Prince Rupert-Kitimat area because of that situation. Knowing that this is going to occur on a more increasing basis as we go along over the forthcoming years, we need to get prepared and adapt facilities to be able to handle that.
With that being the national picture — that is, a national consideration — this then will require further opportunities in the communities along the way from Jasper through to Prince Rupert for the local communities to be able to take advantage of a potential major port to channel the resource products into that port rather than having them carted the long route through to the Vancouver terminals. This is going to create some major opportunities for the communities along the way that are depending upon a livelihood from natural resources, primarily the timber and pulp.
In order to be able, in addition to that, to tie onto that main trunk railway, we've got to put in place traffic corridors into the resource areas which are predominant throughout the north. This requires railway planning, so we do have the British Columbia Railway in the area. The Canadian National Railway is also planning a railway into that area to be able to fit in with this whole general concept of transportation.
The government responsibility, of course, is resource planning, resource allocation and to help get the transportation corridors into place — to get the wood flow into the respective communities — the industries that are going to need it. It requires a great deal of work and a great deal of co-ordination not only on a local government level, but also with the provincial government, with the federal government and the various departments that need to work in unison to try and work together and achieve this. So we've got to improve our relationships within departments and within the government so we can serve the public interests in the best possible way.
We do have the Environment and Land Use Committee — the secretariat staff — which has been doing an excellent job to try and examine these situations and put proposals together in order to lay the groundwork for the future of the region and of the respective communities. This requires roads and railways.
The impact on the communities: the Member had indicated that there was an anticipation of 1,000 jobs per year over the next 20 years, which is approximately, I figure, about 21,000 jobs, which is considered to be the natural increase of people, based on children leaving school every year to get into the labour market. This is what the projection is at this time.
These communities, along with the industrial planning, the resource planning, the transportation planning communities that do have an economic disparity want to have an additional economic development, Also there are communities that have to have more housing, more educational facilities, health care and so on. This question of northern development ties in with the general skeleton — the transportation corridors, the tributaries that will fit into it, the wood flows, the resource flows that will be planned for the communities to take advantage of to improve their facilities and get more wealth out of the natural resources of our northern part of the province, not only for people outside of the north but also for the people of the north to get a larger share of the wealth of this great province that we have here.
My involvement, of course, is within this framework, and I am involved with the Environment and Land Use Committee to do this planning and this programming. It will take some qualified staff to be able to help co-ordinate this and try and lay the groundwork for so many of the things that the community needs.
I might mention, getting away from that for a moment, that I have been hearing comments about the Minister Without Portfolio. I'm really not concerned with what you call me. I note the former administration had three Ministers Without Portfolio, and I've been trying to find out what their responsibilities were and nobody can, to this day, tell me what they were. They've been telling me that it was nothing. Well, I don't care what you call me but I'm interested in the job that I'm required to do. The
[ Page 1828 ]
Premier, when he appointed me and approached me on this — and I was very happy to accept the challenge — made it clear at the time there was a job to be done out in northern British Columbia for the people up there. Under no circumstances am I going to accept a job that would do nothing. We've got a great job to do for the people of the north and that's what I'm out here to do.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): Mr. Chairman, whatever this Minister's called, I gather he has some responsibility for the British Columbia Railway as a director; and he was using a lot of the good phrases in his remarks just concluded.
He was talking about "traffic corridors into resource areas," "railway planning," "getting people into the labour market." I just want to ask this Minister a little bit about his thoughts on the B.C. Rail extension up to Dease Lake which is now going on. I want to ask him about the traffic that's going to be going on that line. I want to ask him about the policies of his government that has ended for the foreseeable future any hope of the most significant traffic on that line.
I want to ask the Minister if he's aware of the Stikine copper deposit and the Liard Copper Mines Ltd., both in that area? One a projected 30,000-ton-per-day mill; another one a projected 50,000-ton-per-day mill; $450 million capital investment. A couple of thousand jobs in the construction process. Over 1,000 jobs in the operating process. Not unimportant to the northern part of our province.
AN HON. MEMBER: What does he think of Bill 31?
MR. GIBSON: That's just what I'm going to ask him, Mr. Member. What has been the impact of the outrageous Bill 31 on the development of these mines, and on the traffic that would justify the extension of that railroad?
AN HON. MEMBER: Have you joined the Liberals, Alex?
MR. GIBSON: Does the Minister have any idea, Mr. Chairman, how much a ton-mile of copper concentrate generates? And just how many tons per year of copper concentrate are being foregone by that railway extension because of Bill 3 I ?
MR. FRASER: Did he vote for Bill 31?
MR. GIBSON: "Did he vote for Bill 31?" says the Hon. Member for Cariboo. That's a good question. I'd like the Minister to stand up and advise this House. We could look back in the Journals, but he could save us looking that up and it would certainly help his constituents judge his performance a lot if they knew how he voted for Bill 31. But they know how the government voted on Bill 31, so that's really immaterial.
The question is: does the Minister appreciate that that legislation has cancelled the possibility of 900,000 tons per year of copper concentrate coming down that line? And does he appreciate that the published BCR tariffs for moving copper concentrate down from Gibraltar, which is 345 miles, is around $ 5.10 a ton, which works out at about 1.5 cents per ton mile? This means that because of the direct actions of the government in the mineral resource policy in this province that rail line, costing the taxpayers of this province millions of dollars, will be foregoing revenue of something in excess of $6 million per year because those mines won't be operating.
Would the Minister kindly tell us? They won't be operating, Mr. Minister of Mines, and you should know that just better than anyone else in this province. They won't be operating because of your legislation. You can see the evidence all over this province right now.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. GIBSON: I would have thought that you would surely understand.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! I would ask the Hon. Member for North Vancouver-Capilano if he is offering arguments in support of this bill — number 49 on the order paper?
MR. GIBSON: Goodness gracious no, Mr. Chairman! No, indeed. No, indeed. I'm asking this Minister of northern affairs where he is going to get the revenue. And there's the president of the railroad; maybe he knows where they're going to get the revenue.
MR. FRASER: He doesn't even know where the railroad runs.
MR. GIBSON: Where are they going to get the revenue to replace this over $6 million per year which has been put right down the drain by the mineral policies of this government? And over 1,000 jobs a year for northern British Columbia at a time when this province has over 100,000 people unemployed; how is he going to replace that?
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: Mr. Chairman...
[ Page 1829 ]
AN HON. MEMBER: There's no Minister of Northern Affairs.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: ...with respect to the British Columbia Railway question that the Member had raised: there is a bill on the order paper and I c would expect that there will be a report filed in this House before the end of the session to answer a lot of the questions that the Member has raised with respect to the British Columbia Railway — the situation, the traffic projection, the economics and some of the other background.
With respect to copper, I would like to mention that it has not been very long ago that there was a statement made by a major mining company and other sources that I've read. It explained that the price on the international copper market is down and the stockpile is up. It makes it difficult to sell copper if there's already too much in the world stockpile at this time. If there are 400,000 tons of copper on the international stockpile, the price generally maintains a natural, economic, fairly stable level. If it drops down to about 200,000 ions, then the price escalates very rapidly and skyrockets. But the international stockpile of copper today is approximately 850,000 tons. As it has been explained, that is the reason why the price has dropped to the degree that it has.
In the future we're going to find the turnaround: the stockpile will be eroded to a normal level and the demand is going to increase. That copper sitting in the ground will serve at least as one future copper source in this province. So that is the picture behind the copper. The potential is there, and when the market requires it it will fall into place.
Certainly, the railway is in the area. I might point out that it's really not on the railway; it's quite a ways off. If you're acquainted with the geography there, there's some tough terrain to be able to get into that area. Nevertheless, that's a problem that needs to be overcome in due course.
The matter with development generally. We take the position of planning development in a gradual manner, not in a gigantic, instant manner like some suggestions that have been made. This has a lot better effect in the growth of community planning and providing the social needs along with it, rather than dumping an industrial complex in overnight and then hoping that the social patterns will fall into place. You just can't build an industry and plunk a beer parlour down on the corner and think all the social problems will be solved. Generally it is the position to plan not only industrial development but also the social and community development to be able to accommodate that.
MR. GIBSON: I have just one brief question. I was delighted that the Minister saw fit to give this House a lecture on the economics of copper supply and demand and how the prices go up and down, depending on the size of the inventory. I'd just ask him to buttress his position with one further figure, and I'll give him a gold star if he gets within 10 per cent of it: what's the annual world consumption of copper?
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: Well, it's on record; I'm sure it is, Mr. Member. If you're a walking encyclopedia, I congratulate you for it. I didn't hear you say what it is.
I would point out another factor. We're talking about serving the people of the north. I hear some people are opposed to that; they're opposed to this government giving special emphasis to the needs of northern British Columbia. We've heard the Leader of he Opposition coming up north and lecturing the people: on why it's such a terrible thing to do. But I can honestly say that the people up north just do not agree with him. They need a special emphasis to deal with the backlog of needs that have built up over the years.
I would perhaps point out how far behind we are with other provinces in dealing with northern affairs. We can take, for example, the Province of Manitoba which has a department of northern affairs. The percentage of the northern affairs budget is 1.2 per cent of the provincial budget. Saskatchewan is the same; the northern affairs budget is about 3.5 per cent of the provincial budget. For the Minister Without Portfolio in Alberta, last year the record shows that the percentage of the budget was 0.11 per cent of the Alberta budget.
In British Columbia, do you know what percentage our budget is?
MR. FRASER: Whatever it is, it's too much!
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: 0.0013.
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: I can understand, Mr. Chairman, why so many people are opposed to a Minister Without Portfolio being placed in a position to serve the special needs of the north. It has been taken for granted for years that a Minister Without Portfolio — in fact, they used to have three of them — should do nothing. But we have changed things. For the first time we have a Minister Without Portfolio who is committed to do some work and to do a job out there. People have even gotten used to thinking they should do nothing. When we think in terms of what some of the comments are that have been made, they seem to think that we, the people up north, should be a colony of the south down here. People up
[ Page 1830 ]
north are tired of being a colony up there.
MR. FRASER: Rubbish!
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: These people here who oppose the special interests of the north are going to have to think about this. We are just tired of being a colony of the lower mainland.
Vancouver is in British Columbia, but many people seem to think that British Columbia is in Vancouver. It is the other way around, Mr. Chairman.
MR. FRASER: Are you against Vancouver?
HON. MR. NUNWEILER: We are no longer a colony of British Columbia. We want to share a little more of the good things that this province has with the people in our region.
MR. FRASER: I believe this Minister has answered one question. I want him to answer the question that I asked earlier: is he going to desist from signing his letters as the "Minister for Northern Affairs"? I think the House is entitled to that answer because he is not the Minister of Northern Affairs, he is the Minister Without!
MR. D.T. KELLY: Just a few words from the Member for Omineca.
MR. FRASER: Where is that petition?
MR. KELLY: I have been listening to the discussion this afternoon. I didn't expect much different. As far as we've heard so far, there hasn't really been any real criticism. They have been shooting at the name of his department, as if it really mattered what the name of his department is.
I didn't get up to defend the Minister. He doesn't need defending. The job that he has been doing in the last few months shows for itself. The people of the north are there and will prove it because of the response that they have given at the time that he held his resource meetings in different areas of the northern region. I attended about four of those meetings, the ones that were held in my riding, and one in the riding of Skeena. I can tell you that as far as I was concerned, I couldn't believe the amount of interest that was being shown by the public at large and the number of topics that were brought up concerning not only the development of the northwest, but other social problems that are in existence.
These problems have been there for years. We didn't invent the poor social conditions that exist in the north. They have been there for years. About the highways — those rotten highways were built by the last administration. We didn't build them — we are just trying to keep them in shape.
MR. FRASER: You can't even patch the potholes!
MR. KELLY: When I moved to my particular region, there was a sign on the road that said, "Sorry for the inconvenience." That was 10 years ago. I just had the good fortune here only a few months ago to go and open that little wee bridge across the Stellako River — 10 years later. If you are going to put up a sign like that, I think you should do something before it becomes embarrassing.
Mr. Chairman, the roads in Omineca are in darn good shape. You know, even in areas where the existing roads are bad, we are getting action there too. For example, there is a pretty precarious position on the highway just west of Endako. There is going to have to be considerable expenditure in that area, but the contracts are called. Those roads are going to be built.
Now back to the northern situation.
MR. BENNETT: Nobody is that qualified to talk for a nothing hour.
MR. KELLY: There have never in the past been groups, no matter who they might be, trying to collect information on what should happen, whether it be environmentally, socially or economically.
MR. BENNETT: You're filibustering the estimates.
MR. KELLY: No, we're not.
MR. BENNETT: You're filibustering.
MR. KELLY: I say that for the first time in many years we have an agency into which all this information will be channeled and will be consolidated. At least we will know in what direction we are going.
MR. FRASER: Then file it.
MR. KELLY: No, it won't be filed, Mr. Member, because I think if you can remember just a few years back, even in Cariboo you didn't have much chance of getting anything done in that day of your government. Only pressure groups got anything done.
MR. FRASER: Balderdash!
MR. KELLY: The previous Member for Omineca, even being a cabinet Minister, had tried to do certain programmes, but he was shot down by the past administration. You know what eventually happened: he went as all good politicians do; they finally get
[ Page 1831 ]
MR. FRASER: That's where you're going in the next election.
MR. KELLY: I may do so, Mr. Member, but at least not without putting up some kind of a fight to do something for my constituency.
There's no doubt about it, we have a lot of programmes that need a lot of research before they come into being. I think that if we could have had some way of unwinding that clock, of winding history back, a lot of things would have changed. That includes the placing of the present B.C. Railway and even the building of existing highways. They were built through sheer haste at a great expense just to accommodate the day.
Now we've come to a situation where the world markets are down and there is a depression. The depression certainly doesn't exist only in British Columbia. In fact, we're in pretty good shape in this province. When you go across into Washington or Oregon and see the economics of those two states, I think we're in a pretty darn good spot here in British Columbia.
With those few words, Mr. Chairman, I would certainly endorse the Minister's vote. Thank you very much.
Vote 269 approved on the following division:
YEAS — 28
NAYS — 14
|Schroeder||Anderson, D.A.||Williams, L.A.|
*Subsequently corrected to GIBSON (April 30 sitting).
ESTIMATES: DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
On vote 38: Minister's office, $124,447 — continued.
On the amendment.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Is there any indication from the government about procedures and plans? Are we dealing with Education out of the blue? Are we dealing with another...?
HON. E.E. DAILLY (Minister of Education): I don't know if the Hon. Liberal leader was present or not, but when I adjourned the House last evening I announced exactly what order it was. Each party was asked to present to us, the Whip and myself, an order of preference. One letter we received from the official opposition did suggest only that perhaps we could move into Education and Housing. It was the only one received specifically, apart from the Member for the Conservative Party (Mr. Wallace). But we received nothing specific from the Liberal Party.
HON. D. BARRETT (Premier): Did you write me a letter?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: The point is that it is quite clear what our desire is: to keep with the original system or to take up the discussions, as requested by the Premier, on which we sent him a lengthy and detailed letter. But to simply deal with Minister after Minister.... We understand that the official opposition did not indicate any department as being one of preference.
HON. MR. BARRETT: What do you want to call? What do you want to call?
MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): On a point of order, I think that perhaps it would be well to inform the whole House what I did say in connection with the letter I wrote yesterday to the government Whip. I said:
"Regarding the debate on estimates, I re-emphasize that we are opposed to the arbitrary manner used to impose selective closure on the most important part of the legislative process; that is, granting supply. We are equally opposed to the 135-hour total time limit, and restate our recommendation for its withdrawal.
"As to the order of debate beyond tomorrow, it is your prerogative to continue as you dictate. However, I would remind you that two Ministers have non-confidence motions hanging over their heads."
MR. CHAIRMAN: The Hon. Member for Chilliwack (Mr. Schroeder) on the amendment. I'll read the amendment: "That the salary of the Hon. Minister of Education as provided for in vote 38 be reduced by $1."
[ Page 1832 ]
MR. H.W. SCHROEDER (Chilliwack): On the amendment.
In a recent speech the Minister made to the convention of the British Columbia Teachers Federation, in the final paragraph she cited the major dilemma that exists in the education system. In citing the dilemma, she also should be able to see the answer to the dilemma.
This is what she said, Mr. Chairman: "We are faced with the dilemma of maintaining a common public school system in a diverse, pluralistic society." I would like to suggest to the Minister that I cannot understand how she could not see the very simple answer to a most complex problem. If society is pluralistic, then it follows naturally that a monolithic public school system would create a dilemma.
I'm asking whether the Minister won't be prepared today to state that there will be a change in policy in the Department of Education which will provide for a pluralistic school system which could more readily be adapted to a pluralistic society. It seems to me that one follows the other and that one would suggest the need for the other.
If the dilemma is the maintenance of a monolithic public school system in a pluralistic society, then I suggest that the answer is to change the monolithic approach to education and make it a pluralistic approach so that it will fit the society.
There have been many, many alternatives that have been suggested by writers and by other Members of this Legislature, but I would like to ask the Minister again today whether she doesn't consider it entirely rational and entirely reasonable and entirely logical that our system should provide for the alternatives that our society demands. I'm wondering whether or not the Minister wouldn't like to acknowledge today the existence of some of those alternatives: the fact that the independent schools do exist; the fact that there are over 135 of them in existence; the fact that they serve some 23,000 students; the fact that their pupil-teacher ratio is less than 17; the fact that an ever-increasing number of parents are seeking enrolment in this kind of school; the fact that people all around the province are asking for alternatives. Would she not today like to acknowledge the existence of an alternate school system which would assist her in alleviating the dilemma which she finds and which she spoke of to the teachers not too long ago?
There is a basic responsibility that we have in education. It doesn't appear that we can bring these objectives about through the one-school system. To the Minister, through you, Mr. Chairman, I think that we have given it the college try; I think that we have tried to make the one-school system work. I know that the previous administration over a period of 20 years was dedicated to making the one-school system work. Yet if we were to take a logical look at the conclusion, we have to say that the school system answered only a part of the needs of the public. What about the percentage that has already found an alternative in independent schools? What about that great percentage that is still looking and crying for alternatives?
I know the Minister is aware of alternatives that are being developed within the public school system. But I'm wondering whether the Minister wouldn't buy the suggestion that education originally was the responsibility of parents and that, as such, while the responsibility was being cared for by the parents, it allowed for the greatest pluralism in education approach.
When parents decided to combine their efforts and to delegate their responsibility to teaching to a conclave or a conglomerate or a community and created the school, immediately that the centralization process began the pluralistic approach to education also was minimized. I'm wondering whether the Minister wouldn't consider delegating the responsibility of education beyond a certain point to a council or conclave of parents surrounding a school — not a school district, but a school in itself. Perhaps that school would represent a community not with physical boundaries, but a community.... It could be an ethnic community, it could be a religious community, but let the community attach itself to a school and delegate the responsibility beyond a certain point, I say, for educational responsibilities to that individual school. It would provide the greatest — the maximum — flexibility within the school system.
This would mean that a central educational department would be responsible for the design and for the distribution of the basic education core — the basic curriculum core.
Then beyond this basic core, together with all of its evaluation processes, the council of parents would be attached to the school, and could exercise their discretion in the curriculum beyond the basic curriculum. What it would provide is not only a flexibility in curriculum but perhaps a flexibility in education approach. We could have different kinds of classrooms. We could have the open-class area — I'm talking about physical openness. Then we could have the open approach to education; this is the teaching approach which would be open.
Can you imagine the various alternatives that would be possible? Can you imagine the flexibility which we would have within the system? Could you then imagine how much greater would be our answer to the needs that the people have in education? You could have structured classrooms and non-structured. You could have restricted disciplines and non-disciplines. You could have permissiveness if you so desired. You could have traditional approaches to education or the progressive approach. You could
[ Page 1833 ]
have the competitive approach; you could have non-aggressive. You could have academic approach and perhaps vocational alternatives. All of these would be possible within a small geographical area, answering the needs of the parents who would be attached to that particular school.
There are some problems with the monolithic system, with the single public school system, which have been recognized both by other educators and by our Minister as well. There are historical failures of a public school system.
One of them is that they have a tendency to mould all people, and a tendency to mould all people to be almost exactly alike. They put them all in little boxes, as the song says, and they all look just the same. This is the tendency. I wouldn't dare to say that they come out 100 per cent pure and they all look the same, but, nonetheless, there is this tendency to have people not only look the same but think the same. This is the tendency in the public school system.
There's also the risk in a public school system of the cultural break between parents and children. I think that this perhaps is one of the most damaging results of the public school system: the cultural break between parents and children. Because of the values at school, because of the concepts being disseminated by the teachers, students are taught to question perhaps the traditional cultural values that have been passed onto them by their parents. Lo and behold, this comes as a cultural shock and causes a break between the parents and the children which, I think, anyone in the room, anyone in my hearing will admit is not a good thing. Our society is dependent upon the family unit, and the family unit only exists as there is mutual appreciation, parents for children and children for parents. I'm not saying that those values which the parents hold should be beyond question, but I'm saying that the public school system has a tendency for this shock to occur just by virtue of its existence.
Then there's another problem. In the public school system, we have been unable to come to any real agreement on values which should be taught in the schools. As a matter of fact, there are many proponents of the concept that says that values ought not to be taught in the schools. But the minute we perpetuate the concept that values should not be taught, we are already teaching another concept: the concept that there are no values. As a result, this is one of the problems of the public school system. Can you not see that if we allowed the flexibility of independence in the school system, you could have value schools? You could have a conclave of parents who have perhaps similar values, and allow those values to be taught in those schools.
Another one of the failures is the conflict between the actions which are taught in the schools and those actions which the child learns at home. That is another one of the cultural shocks that the child has trouble in resolving. These are just some of the areas of problem.
I would like to suggest that there are fantastic benefits to going to an independent system, and I would again ask the Minister to recognize the fact that some of these benefits already exist by virtue of the few independent schools that are in existence.
Here are some of the benefits. If you allow different schools to have different sets of values, you are contributing to the teaching of tolerance within our society. There is a tolerance that needs to be learned. We see it in our culture; we see it in the culture to the south of us. An absence of this tolerance has a tendency to cloisterism and to segregation, and I believe that the single — or public school — system, has a tendency to enhance this segregationist rather than to be a proponent of tolerance.
We would have improved the communication within the school community, and we would have not only the knowledge that education exists but we would have a knowledge that other forms of education exist. We would have appreciation; we would have a competitiveness between the two, or certainly a comparison. We would have different evaluation processes, and these evaluations would lead us to some proper conclusions as to which form of education is more profitable.
It would teach a wider sense of responsibility for parents because they would be involved in the decision-making process surrounding their school. There would be a more supportive public attitude towards schools in general, rather than something that concerned me the other day — a report from students out of our own high school that considered school to be just some place where parents can put students for the daytime so they don't have to care for them themselves. This isn't something I have conjured up in my mind; this is a statement that came out of a school in the Chilliwack area.
The support for the existence of the school is not there in the parents. Therefore, if we could establish those school councils surrounding an individual school, it would not only teach a greater responsibility and encourage a wider assumption of that responsibility, but we'd have an entirely different supportive attitude for schools. Not only that, but it would increase the respect for other values than our own. Rather than thinking ours are the only ones, we would have evidence within the system and within the community itself of values other than our own, and I believe that this would be healthy for society.
I believe that the state would still carry the responsibility for central funding and that funding would be collected through an equitable tax system
[ Page 1834 ]
through the very people whose children were being educated. I'm not here to say that property tax is the best way to collect those taxes. Perhaps income taxes are a better way. Perhaps a sharing of the resource revenues of the province is a better way. Nonetheless, I believe that the funding should remain central so that the individual council could be concerned primarily — more than primarily, almost exclusively — with the questions of education.
I'd like to suggest to the Minister today that if she wishes to, and if she cares to, she could take a look at the independent schools that already do exist, and see the flexibility that there is there. Some of them are based on ethnic values for sure. Many of them, in fact the first and perhaps still the majority, are attached to some religious faith or some church organization. That in itself already tells you or shows you the flexibility that is possible. Here's a school whose values are ethnic and cultural; here's another school whose values are religious. See the possibilities there already: the co-existence of those two different values with the rather stringent monolithic public schools approach.
I would like to hear what the Minister has to say as to whether or not, on a cool and rational basis, having had an opportunity to think it through, the independent schools don't have something to offer to our province.
Why couldn't we learn something from them and have them learn something from us, provide the flexibility for which parents are asking, and give the answer to the educational dilemma first mentioned by the Minister? I couldn't agree more that the dilemma is maintaining a common public school system in a pluralistic society. I would like to hear what the Minister has to say.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I presume the Hon. Member was speaking for the amendment.
MR. SCHROEDER: That's right.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Chairman, I found the Hon. Member's remarks very interesting. Basically, I don't think we are too far apart. When you suggest the breaking down of the monolithic system, it is just how far you want to go to do this compared to where at this time we are prepared to or believe is desirable.
I agree with you that it is a monolithic system and that is why, since I have become Minister, I have been attempting to encourage community involvement throughout various areas of this province so that the parents and the teachers and the students can have some input into the kind of programming they want in their schools.
I think that where we break down, of course, is that we believe that you can provide those alternatives within the framework of the public school system. As long as you maintain a public school system, there must be certain regulations by which one must abide. As you know, at this moment in time we believe in a non-sectarian system. You are suggesting, of course, that the public taxes would then go to support sectarian systems, which I think is a basic difference. However, as you know, our government has stated that they are intending to look into the whole matter of the provision of basic services to children who are not within the public school system.
To get back to the original point you were making, I do agree with you that we must try and break down the system, but within the system, within certain guidelines. Your suggestion of the council of parents is most interesting. The only point which I think you and I could perhaps debate at considerable length is just what terms of reference they would have, how far their authority and responsibility would go, and where the board of school trustees fits into this picture. Finally, where does the Minister of Education fit in? There has to be some sort of relationship.
Also, when you suggest that each community would be able to develop their values, I think this is one of the points I was making in my speech to the teachers — that it really isn't that simple. That is one of the problems we face. There are so many people with so many different ideas and values on what they want for their children...
MR. SCHROEDER: Let the same ones get together.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: ...but you were talking about developing this concept around a core school. I think if we think that through, it would be almost impossible to develop that in one particular geographical area spontaneously. In a large city like Vancouver, I can see it would create many problems.
However, I do agree with you that all governments involved today are very concerned. I know, after talking to other Ministers of Education across Canada, that even the ones who do have separate school systems are concerned about making sure that within those systems, whether they are in the separate school system or the public one, there is flexibility and parent input. I don't think it naturally follows that all independent schools have this flexibility. Some do, some don't. It is the same with our public schools: some have this flexibility and some don't. All I can say to you, Mr. Member, is that I enjoyed the points you made. I don't think we are too far apart except for that one specific point on aid to sectarian schools.
MR. P.C. ROLSTON (Dewdney): I'm sure the Member for Chilliwack wouldn't be commenting,
[ Page 1835 ]
when he is talking about the school system not always having the alternatives and leaving the impression that maybe it is bland and isn't instilling values, on his own high school. I think there are two high schools in Chilliwack. One of them, where I think Mr. Halcrow is the principal, I went to. I think the Member has been there quite a few times.
In fact, I spoke in one class about two months ago where his daughter was there and I was really impressed with that programme in Chilliwack Senior Secondary where there really are shingles, if you can use that word. You go up into this very large school and there are literally shingles. As you walk down the hallway, there is the humanities shingle and there is a whole section of the school dealing with humanities. In my day, I don't remember that. We had Social Studies 10, 20, 30; History 91. It was a pretty sterile approach 20 years ago in my experience. But here you have options: you look at the politics and economics, you look at the social studies and geography, you have the shingle for science and environmental studies. In that school, you have a shingle for linguistic studies — not just French and English, but a much greater option. In this senior secondary school in Chilliwack, I remember that there was an area for arts. There was one on literature. I remember a meeting later on in the staff room of that school, which I thought was a very wholesome school.
I congratulate that senior secondary school because I am sure there are many that are really trying to provide a variety to meet the needs of those students, where the staff are sincerely — I'm thinking of Vic Gunter, who we both know — trying to see that this system not be a monolith, that really begin to help kids face the dynamics of politics, the dynamics of getting a job, the dynamics of surviving in a family or in a marriage in a very realistic way rather than just in a somewhat "take it as read" kind of thing that we got in our day in high school.
I see that as an alternative. I certainly echo the Minister and the Member for Chilliwack (Mr. Schroeder) calling that there be values. There must be values. Any teacher out there who thinks that he teaches in a valueless or in an apolitical climate in the classroom — that's really a contradiction. I would hope that political, spiritual — certainly spiritual and religious — ethnic and other values are shared. Students in senior high school are able by that time, surely, to begin to formulate some of their own varieties.
I vote against this motion if it is suggesting that the Minister and the department aren't trying to stand up and admit that there is a tapestry of values in this province. The Minister and the Education committee went to have dinner with the Doukhobor community last September in Castlegar. We say that that was an educational experience. We remember having breakfast with a leader who is an educator in the Doukhobor community. I'm not quite sure which school he was from, but he was concerned that Russian, that value system, and the culture of the Doukhobor people be inculcated — that this be important. I think our system is really trying to meet those. I guess I am not at this time convinced that we need to in a formal, full financial way support the independent system. I certainly think there's a great deal, certainly.... Obviously school busing — it's unbelievable that that isn't supported. We are now supporting textbooks. I guess I have difficulty understanding why the independents can't be legally recognized.
If I can take that thought just a little further, has the Minister now received a letter from Mr. Faulkner, the federal Minister, regarding just how much more money the province, the provincial Treasury and you as Minister, are going to get under the fiscal arrangements Act? We could list many projects in post-secondary education at the academic and especially the technical level where we are really going to be shortchanged in this province. You told us about 10 days ago that the fiscal arrangements Act was only going to increase 15 per cent over last year's sharing. The House knows that we'll starve on that, because your budgets for your community colleges are coming in at really alarming price tags. I think that all MLAs need to realize that it looks pretty dark, unless you got an answer from Mr. Faulkner on accelerated sharing under the fiscal arrangements Act.
We could go into various projects we would like to see as new projects. I guess there's no way we can add to the roster of post-secondary institutions. The Member for Chilliwack (Mr. Schroeder) and I, for instance, have a new college. How can you fund a new college when you're only getting 15 per cent on last year's funding, which didn't include that new college?
Can I ask the Minister an administrative question? I think it's a very important question. I'm thinking of Douglas College and the principal of the Fraser Valley College, who, in fact, will be here in Victoria tonight — Dr. Blake. How can I put it? Is there a tendency not to go full out in the junior colleges in the technical training programme? Douglas really doesn't have the shops; it's largely a classroom thing. It's still an academic thing. Maybe there's some skill training, some vocational training, but you can't really say that there is the equipment to do the job in the whole variety of skill training. I'm thinking of welding, millwrighting, mechanics, even sewing. We are very short in Maple Ridge — just a tiny illustration — of people to work in the industry that makes hospital garments for the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. I was in that place yesterday and they just aren't producing them. That requires a pretty big capital
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outlay. Do we leave it to B.C. Vocational and BVI? Will the colleges as they meet the community needs really be able, with considerable capital now, to get into the shops, the woodwork, the millwrighting and the obviously very heavy things?
Of course, I think that in Abbotsford we're kind of.... I think it's quite responsible that we're using the capital that's already available to Matsqui institution, and that's considerable. That's one question I just....
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would remind the Hon. Member that we are dealing with the amendment. If he has general questions to the Minister, they should really wait until the amendment has been disposed of.
MR. ROLSTON: Okay, fine. I'm asking that really in support of the Minister and her work.
I guess really what I'm trying to say is that I think the department is trying to, along with other departments, really meet the needs of the students.
I think there is a lot of confusion as to, you know, some neat little rule in education, but, believe me, I think that there is the leadership. I have spent a lot of time talking to teachers. There are exciting programmes happening. I'm sure that there will be more and when we get on with later votes there will be, I think a lot of support for where the Minister is going.
MR, L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver–Howe Sound): Mr. Chairman, I would like to address myself, for a few moments, to this particular problem and to indicate to the committee that, perhaps with some regret, I have to support this amendment.
This is the third time, Mr. Chairman, that we have had occasion to debate the financial estimates for the Department of Education since this Minister assumed her present position. It would seem to me that by now this Minister would have come to grips with some of the problems she recognized when she was in the opposition, and which were obvious to all those who had looked at the Department of Education when she assumed that responsibility.
I find it startling, when the Minister spoke to the B.C. Teachers Federation at their annual meeting in March of this year, that she asked certain questions of them after having been the Minister for almost three years. All the attempts that she has made, all the discussions about reform, all the talk about change brings us to a situation where she is still posing these questions. I might say what she said in raising this particular part of her remarks. She said: "If we are going to bring about educational reform, there are certain questions which must be answered in a positive manner first." I can only assume that after almost three years as Minister she has not yet been able to bring about positive answers to these questions.
First question: "Can you as a teacher approach your principal when you have valid concerns about how the operation of your school is affecting your work with your students? Can you get a receptive and responsive hearing?"
Do you mean that after 30 months, Madam Minister, the teachers of the Province of British Columbia are still having difficulty getting receptive and responsive hearings?
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: The Minister says across the floor to me, Mr. Chairman, that you can't change people overnight. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that these changes take place? Are you suggesting that in the year 1975 the attitude between the principals and the teachers is still so antiquated that there is not the possibility to get receptive and responsive hearings?
"Can the principal, in turn, approach his superiors in the administrative staff of the school board and get a similar hearing?" Are we still in 1975 having the Minister suggest that principals cannot approach the senior administrative staff of the school board and discuss the problems that affect the principals? I just don't believe it. Is it any wonder that the people of British Columbia, the parents of the children who are in our schools, have concern as to where education is going under this government and under this Minister when she publicly, to the teachers of this province at their annual meeting, indicates that this is still the situation? I'm not sure, Mr. Chairman, that it is the situation. I happen to know that in the school districts in my constituency that's not the case.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: On a point of order, the speaker is completely misquoting the article. I think he should read the section where I state that those are concerns that I mentioned. If he quotes from the article properly, he should read on to where it states that I am not accusing all teachers or principals of the province of this happening. I do think you should be a little more fair in your use of your quotes from any speech made by anyone in this House.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the comments of the Minister and I certainly will read what she said after she posed these questions, which is not a positive response to these matters at, all but instead an admission that these things are going on in the Province of British Columbia and that progress is not being made. It's her responsibility.
If I might disagree, Mr. Chairman, she points out also earlier in her remarks that it is her responsibility as Minister of Education. She doesn't shrug the
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Next question: "Can the school board officials approach the Department of Education with the knowledge that they will get response and action where the concerns expressed have been valid?" Mr. Chairman, you don't have to travel around the province to get the answer to that question. The answer to that question rests right in the offices of the Minister of Education and of her Deputy. But I'll deal more with that particular aspect in a few moments.
"Can the student in your classroom approach you as a teacher and have a responsive hearing?" Does the Minister suggest that that's not possible in the Province of British Columbia? "And can the parent of the child in your classroom approach you and get a similar hearing?" Does the Minister suggest to the teachers in their annual meeting that this is not possible in the Province of British Columbia? What positive steps is the Minister taking to remedy that tragic situation if such is the case? If this is going on in school districts in British Columbia, no wonder the parents and the students are fed up with the educational system that we have in this province at tremendous expense.
Are all these groups and individuals referred to not only receptive, but flexible and broad-minded enough to accept a cry for help and a cry for change that is valid, and to take action on it? Does the Minister suggest that the school system in British Columbia is not responsive to a cry for help? Is this what she's telling the teachers?
Now I'll go on. After having posed these questions, the Minister did deal with the matter — and listen very carefully to what she says: "If the answer to these questions is negative, and there is no response and no action where deemed necessary, then we will continue in a constant state of frustration and struggle." Now she doesn't indicate in that sentence that she's brought about any change, that these questions are not proper questions, and that the answers are in the negative. Then she says: "From my own experience in the areas which I have visited, which seemed to be moving in an orderly, rational, progressive way toward educational reform, I have found that this receptivity and responsiveness are, in fact, being generated throughout the school and the community."
Why raise the questions if she finds in her travels that the questions are being answered in the affirmative? In what areas are the answers not in the affirmative? Those are the areas that are this Minister's responsibility to cure and correct. What areas are the questions still answered in the negative — all school districts; some school districts? What action is this Minister taking to ensure that if the answers are in the negative, they will turn to the positive answers — what steps?
We've had her take two attempts at major reform of education in British Columbia, both of them with disastrous consequences not only to education itself, but also to the individuals who have been involved in the exercise — first, Mr. Bremer; second, Dr. Knight and the group who were associated with him — disastrous consequences.
Within the matter of improving the pupil-teacher ratio, strong initial steps were taken by the department and the Minister assured the teachers and the community that it would continue, but the financial wherewithal is not being made available by this government for that purpose. Therefore, it is going to have disastrous consequences. School boards are being faced with the proposition from this government that the government is in favour of the reduction of the pupil-teacher ratio but the government is not prepared to finance the cost, the incredible cost, of such reduction.
Now the Minister, as part of her exercise I assume, is reorganizing the department, and the Minister, or someone, was good enough to provide Members with organizational charts for the various divisions in the department. It's all very beautifully put out how the department is broken down: first of all, the Deputy Minister's office; division of administrative services; division of communications; educational programmes, schools; educational programmes, post-secondary; division of field personnel; division of financial services; integrated and supportive services. Not all the positions indicated are filled.
What is lacking in this whole organizational chart is the relationship of all of the personnel in the Department of Education with the people who count — the students. We're not operating the Department of Education for the benefit of the Deputy Minister, the superintendents and all the staff of the department. They're only there to serve the educational system, and it is only there to serve the student. But at no place in this organizational chart does it indicate to the Members where the department meets with the school boards, with the teachers, and therefore make its impact upon the student. It's the student who's suffering as a consequence.
I don't intend to repeat the debates which have been raised on the floor of this House with respect to language problems, and we aren't alone, Mr. Chairman, in this particular matter. But it is of consequence to the students and it interferes with the functioning of the school system and the educational process. It's only one of the areas.
The Minister spoke to the teachers about the great interest the government has in the student with special needs and the great encouragement that is being given to this. Well, let me say that in the West Vancouver school district they have one staff member, male, whose responsibility it is to concern
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himself with the emotional problems of students in the primary grades. One male only. He's only equipped to deal with the male students in the school district. Only one person. For the special needs of the children who have emotional problems, even if they are recognized by the teachers in the schoolroom, there's only one person in that whole school district who can handle these emotional problems. Well, Mr. Chairman, it doesn't seem to me that that qualifies as much interest so far as students with special needs are concerned.
The difficulty that this creates for the students and the parents is that the inactivity of the department in approaching the problems of education in British Columbia is tending to downgrade the support of the educational system in this province. Taxpayers, whether they are parents or not, see the cost of education rising each year at the provincial and local levels.
If I may pause there, Mr. Chairman, it's absolutely astounding to look at the prospective mill rate increases for some school districts in the Province of British Columbia: Cranbrook up 44 per cent; Abbotsford up 47 per cent; Nechako up 40 per cent; Saanich up 27 per cent; Kamloops up 30 per cent; Central Okanagan up 34 per cent.
The taxpayer sees mounting costs of education but the productivity of the system is not obvious to him. This message the Minister has not been able to get across to the taxpayer and the parent. I've come to the conclusion that it's not from an unwillingness to communicate but from the fact that this Minister has nothing to communicate.
Students in our schools are still being turned off by the educational programme. The community is not seeing from our school system the student equipped to meet modern needs. Even in our own government service, Mr. Chairman, Minister after Minister is confronted with a situation where he can't get the staff he needs in order to make his department function. Our educational system is not producing the people with experience and skill. So we have the parents and the taxpayers dissatisfied and disappointed; we have the students dissatisfied and disappointed. We have the total community, which needs intelligent young minds, trained by an educational system to take their place in society, also disappointed.
This was a situation which obtained when the Minister came to her office. It still obtains; there hasn't been the improvement. Nothing that the Minister has said in the House in earlier debates, nothing she said to the B.C. Teachers Federation in her carefully prepared remarks to them, satisfies me that she's making any progress to end the disappointment and turn the educational system in British Columbia into something to which we can all be proud.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Chairman, I've always had a great respect for the Member who just took his seat. He has sat in this House, I think, going on nine years now. But I must say that that was one of the most shallow speeches I've ever heard the Hon. Member make. That speech showed a complete lack of understanding of the educational system in this province.
He showed complete lack of empathy with the students and the taxpayers and the parents of this province. He made astounding statements. In one point he would state: "Do you really think if the system is that bad I would have the audacity to question teachers about their responsiveness? It can't be that bad." Then later on he concludes by saying that the system is a disaster.
I would like to ask the Hon. Member, if he had the opportunity, when he actually last made an in-depth tour of some of the classrooms of this province, when he actually talked to the young people, starting from grade 1 right through to grade 12, when he last talked to the teachers. I think if he had done that he certainly would not have displayed his obvious lack of understanding of what is going on in our schools today.
In referring to my speech, he very carefully picked out a rhetorical question with reference to the responsiveness of teachers and all of us to the people in the system whom we serve. That was laying on a message of concern. As far as I am concerned, if there is just one parent in this province who goes to a school and cannot get a responsive hearing, this must be brought to the attention of those responsible.
On the whole, I pointed out that there are some very responsive situations in the province. But I don't want to repeat that, simply to say that he missed the whole point of the speech. He very carefully omitted bothering to read the very positive accomplishments during the last three years under my Ministry in this department. He completely eliminated that. Of course, that is understandable. After all, he had to find some way to back up the amendment, which he obviously is going to support.
I do think that if he visited the schools, he would find, as I do, that no one is ever completely happy with the state of education. None of us can be. There are many changes still to be made. But, by and large, when we go and look at the situation in the schools today, compared to what existed back in 1972, I doubt you would find one teacher, parent or student who would say to you that the situation has got worse and is bad, bad, bad.
I just talked to a group of students today. We had a very interesting discussion. By and large, they were excited about their learning conditions. Some of them said they were not happy with everything, and we had an open discussion on that.
I just toured northern Vancouver Island, and I was
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delighted to see the good learning experiences going on in the classrooms of the province. I was pleased to see the marked decrease in the class enrolment and the class sizes. To suggest that we have gone back on this.... I have made it quite clear that at this time we have said we are slowing down the reduction. Even yet, when you walk into classrooms next September you will still see a reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio.
Education change. If the Member would take time to again read the budget speech and the other speeches which I have given him the opportunity to read, he will see some very excellent educational changes in this province.
I really can't go on any further, Mr. Chairman. Because there was no substance to his speech, I have very little substance to reply to.
MR. WALLACE: My comments on the amendment can be brief, Mr. Chairman. There are many other areas of Education I'd like to debate after we dispose of the amendment.
I somewhat regretfully have to support the amendment also, and I want to put my position very clearly but briefly.
HON. A.B. MACDONALD (Attorney-General): You'll never make the cabinet that way. (Laughter.)
MR. WALLACE: One would think that my chances aren't very bright at the best of times, but that isn't the primary goal I have in life.
The Minister produced the White Paper originally, and I think it is fair to say that I'm on record at that time as saying it was a very motherhood type of outline of what education is, and what the system is, what the goals should be, and what some of the basic requirements are to improve the educational system. I still believe that that rather thin document was somewhat inadequate in really trying to get the people of the province and the parents and the students in the right direction towards educational change. It was supposed to ask the questions, and there was supposed to be dialogue and involvement to come up with some of the answers to these propositions. I won't use time to quote the four or five basic propositions — what must be changed, the authority and responsibility, the programme and so on.
Just this weekend, I have been to Powell River. The people in Powell River say to me: "Whatever happened to all that exciting adventure we had in precipitating dialogue among teachers, students, trustees and pupils?" I gather that when the project was undertaken to start this dialogue with the people most concerned about the educational system, there were some exciting meetings. There was a very large turnout of the community in Powell River.
Then, as we know, the person involved was relieved of that position. Subsequently, following on that, a different group of individuals were appointed by the Minister of Education to further continue the kind of dialogue that was sought in the White Paper.
Again, without going into all the details of that, this group of individuals has also been relieved. We have a third professor with three or four other people trying to find out what is the appropriate vehicle or mechanism to undertake the kind of studies that are going to come up with the answers as to the changes that are desired.
The Minister is shaking her head, and she will obviously want to correct me. I am speaking from what I hear as the general impression of many people in the street. The average person is wondering what on earth is going on within the educational system. They see this well-intended White Paper asking very simple questions. They see the Minister saying that certain studies and dialogue will be set up to try and come up with some of the answers as to how these five main areas can best be improved. Yet all the public sees is a large expenditure of money on education.
In this third year in office by the Minister, there is very little to show for all the speeches and the expense and the effort of suggesting that certain definitive changes and certain areas of education are desirable. That is my impression, without repeating a lot of debate that went on earlier a week or two ago. The Minister has shown an intransigence rather than taking definitive action to come up with some of these answers.
My question would simply be: how much longer should we be expected to wait before the Minister of Education comes up with something positive? In other words, if I have misinterpreted the function of Dr. Petersen and his committee, and if I have misinterpreted Dr. Knight and his committee, and if I have misinterpreted Mr. John Bremer, would somebody please tell us in this House who is doing the necessary dialogue with the students, the trustees, the teachers and the parents in order to make the Minister aware of the changes which that group of society feel is desirable?
All I hear is that the public realize that there is a pile of money being spent on education. The Minister has said from the outset that there are certain desirable changes. There have been a series of mechanisms set up to try and find out what changes would be desirable. Most of these vehicles have disappeared. It is the impression and many people have that here we are, two and a half years or three years later, no further forward. I think that unless that can be disproved, the opposition has every right to suggest that they have less than 100 per cent confidence in the Minister of Education.
The Minister has already crossed the floor of the
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House, shaking her head at some of the statements I have made. I will sit down and listen to her side of the argument.
MRS. JORDAN: Is the Minister going to answer the Hon. Member's questions?
MRS. JORDAN: It seems that the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. King) is more interested in listening than the Minister of Education. I must say, before going into some of the points that I want to, that I was most surprised at the Minister of Education's response to the comments made by the Hon. Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams).
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): Oh, has he become a friend of yours?
MRS. JORDAN: She said that he lacked empathy in his presentation, that he was shallow, and a number of other criticisms. She was quite hostile. I think — not that it is my place to defend that Member; he is quite capable of defending himself — that his presentation was very reasonable. I think his presentation reflected, along with the presentations of the Members earlier in the day, the very serious concerns of the teachers and the parents and the students in this province about this Minister's educational policies and her administration. It is the very reason for why these expressions are being made on the floor of this House, and why there is a motion of non-confidence on the floor at this time which has been hanging over this Minister's head for some two weeks now. Certainly there has been no conduct on the part of the Minister that would incline anyone to not support the motion.
I think the Minister's reaction is very typical of this problem and her problems when she was so hostile and showed terrific hostility to the questions being posed to her. She does, unfortunately, become hostile to criticism that is posed about her administration. This Minister does become hostile in terms of constructive suggestions that are made, not only on the floor of this House but also from the teachers themselves and from the trustees in the province as well as the parents.
Madam Minister, in listening to your response, we must suggest that you emulate and have emulated the worst attitudes that we presently criticize in young people, the attitudes that we deplore in the classrooms, the attitudes that are reflected in those somewhat puerile questions that you asked that were previously read out: lack of communication, lack of willingness to listen, lack of willingness to act on constructive criticism.
This is one of the complaints of the teachers in the school system today: the lack of willingness on the part of students to listen; the lack of willingness on the part of students to take responsibility and, conversely, Mr. Chairman, it's the criticism of the students, to a large degree, of some of the teachers. It's a lack of willingness on the part of some of the teachers to listen and a lack of willingness on the part of some of the teachers to act on constructive criticism. It's a situation in which teachers, who are very frustrated in their classroom situation because of the lack of direction, because of the confusion that there is in the educational system, the lack of ability for them to give a concrete answer, in their frustration at times lash out. And the students interpret this as hostility.
My concern is that the Minister herself has on many occasions conducted herself in this manner and is setting an example of hostility and, as I mentioned, a lack of willingness to listen to people's concerns. Surely the Minister, of all people, should be conscious of the type of example she sets?
Madam Minister, the frustration reflected in the classroom is to a large degree the result of the lack of leadership that is going on in this province. It is due to the loss of dignity in the classroom and to the lack of any respect for responsibility and authority in the classroom. The Minister in her confusion and her inability to offer leadership, has been unable to offer any type of concrete solution to this problem.
Madam Minister, there is concern that the few times you have struck out and taken a positive step are in unrelated areas, and that there tends to be a blindness on the part of the Minister. I want to speak about this, because certainly in the area of family life there is considerable concern.
The Minister says, in one of the examples of this striking out blindly and emotionally with her attitude on discipline in the schools.... If the Minister wished to remove authority from the classroom she should have prepared an alternate, not after the fact but before the fact so that the classroom was not left in the position of confusion that the Minister herself enjoys. The Minister says that her non-policies are the result of consultation with parents' groups. And yet, Madam Minister, through you, Mr. Chairman, there are many parents in this province who are deeply concerned about what parents' groups the Minister is consulting with. They acknowledge the existence and excellent work done by some of the lower mainland groups, but they also recognize that there are a vast number of parents around this province who are not enjoying the opportunity of consultation that the Minister claims is taking place and who have, in fact, not had any input into some of the decisions that the Minister made. One, as I mentioned, is in relation to authority in the classroom.
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The Minister advises this House and the public that one or two of the few decisions she has made have been on consultation with principals. Yet, on examination, the principals around this province advise us that the Minister is using only a select group to advise her. They have no objection to her listening to those opinions. But, Mr. Chairman, they wish that she would listen to the opinions of some of the other principals around the province, the majority of the principals.
It's the same way in relation to some of the advice she's had and then said that it has resulted from consultation with teachers. If the Minister is travelling around the province as much as she says she is, she would know that the teachers of this province in the majority are wondering who she is getting her advice from in relation to their concerns. They tell us, Mr. Chairman, that much of the advice she is getting does not represent the majority of the views.
The school boards, Mr. Chairman, are wondering who the Minister is getting her advice from. When the Minister....
MRS. JORDAN: The Minister keeps saying that this decision or that decision, of the few that she's made, is based on advice from the school boards, the school trustees of the province. Yet the trustees themselves are saying that that is not what they agreed to, that is not what they asked for and that is not what represents the majority view in this province. They want to know, Mr. Chairman, who the Minister is getting her advice from.
One of the most serious complaints of the school trustees and many of the teachers is that this Minister did have indeed all the answers or a majority of the answers when sitting in opposition and when taking office. No one expects her to work miracles or to have all the answers, but one does expect, after two and a half years, when you go to the Minister she listens carefully, but is completely incapable of making a decision. The delegations find out some weeks later that while she listens carefully, she writes back and advises that her advice from her staff and advisers is that this is not possible.
Madam Minister, if they wanted to talk to your Deputy Minister or if they wanted to talk to the staff, they would. They want to talk to a Minister who is capable of leadership and direction.
AN HON. MEMBER:. They've got one.
MRS, JORDAN: No, they have not got one, and that's why there is a motion of non-confidence on this Minister on the floor of this House that has been hanging over her head and over the head of the educational system of this province for over two weeks — a motion that the Premier of this province was afraid to have debated and is trying to defuse the debate through split debate.
MRS. JORDAN: Does the Minister wish to withdraw the vote, because I have a number of things wish to cover?
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Speaker, the committee reports resolutions and asks leave to sit again.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we proceed, I would ask Members to kindly wait until we finish the first motion. Then you can ask about the order of business, but do not talk in the middle of the motion, please. I'd appreciate that.
MR. N.R. MORRISON (Victoria): Did the Chairman report a motion this afternoon and a division and ask that it be recorded?
MR. SPEAKER: No.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. You must not question any Member's motives.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to further report that a division took place in the committee and request that this be recorded in the Journals of the House.
MRS. JORDAN: I ask leave to withdraw Bill 42, standing in my name on the order paper.
Hon. Mrs. Dailly moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 6: 01 p.m.