1975 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 30th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes
The printed version remains the official version.
TUESDAY, MAY 13, 1975
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Government entry into liquor production. Mr. Morrison — 2277
Survey of children with learning disabilities. Mr. D.A. Anderson — 2277
Juvenile delinquency in Surrey. Mr. Wallace — 2278
Output of railcars at Squamish. Mr. Chabot — 2278
Complaints about Horizon Corp., El Paso, Texas. Mr. McClelland — 2279
Columbia River inquiry personnel. Mr. Gibson — 2279
Delay in voucher payments. Mr. Phillips — 2279
Remarks on hotline broadcast. Mrs. Jordan — 2280
Investigation of Chinese herbal pills. Mr. Wallace — 2280
Point of order Clarification of Hansard Blues. Mr. Phillips — 2280
Point of order Clarification on procedure in Committee of Supply. Mr. Speaker — 2282
Committee of Supply: Department of Agriculture estimates.
On vote 9. Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 2286
Division on motion that the committee rise and report progress — 2286
Securities Amendment Act, 1975 (Bill 20). Second reading. Mr. Phillips — 2286
Police Amendment Act, 1975 (Bill 46). Second reading. Hon. Mr. Macdonald — 2291
Mortgage Brokers Amendment Act, 1975 (Bill 48). Second reading. Hon. Mr. Macdonald — 2293
Fair Sales Practices Amendment Act, 197 5 (Bill 10). Second reading. Hon. Ms. Young — 2293
Community Care Facilities Licensing Amendment Act, 1975 (Bill 71). Second reading. Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2295
Medical Services Amendment Act, 1975 (Bill 72). Second reading. Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2298
Bee Act (Bill 45). Second reading. Hon. Mr. Stupich — 2299
Farm Products Industry Improvement Amendment Act, 1975 (Bill 65). Second reading. Hon. Mr. Stupich — 2302
Pacific North Coast Native Co-operative Loan Amendment Act, 1975 (Bill 19). Second reading. Hon. Mr. Levi — 2305
Status of Men and Women Amendment Act (Bill 75). Second reading. Hon. Mr. Macdonald — 2308
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of some good friends and visitors from Ontario, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Turner. I would ask the House to make them welcome.
MR. E.O. BARNES (Vancouver-Centre): Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Second Member for Vancouver Centre (Hon. Mr. Lauk) and myself would like to welcome some special friends of ours from the riding. They are Luigi and Noreen Steffanucci, August and Yoli Carasini, and their friends from Rochester, New York, Pearl and Antoni Renalletta, and another friend of ours, Mrs. Doris Mutch. May the House join us in welcoming them.
MR. H.W. SCHROEDER (Chilliwack): Mr. Speaker, I hope that the House will welcome today 28 students from Mt. Newton Junior Secondary School who will be arriving at 3 o'clock today. Members of their student government are here with their Prime Minister, Mr. Cliff Leachman; their Minister of Finance, Minister of Student Information, Minister of Records, and so forth, and also Minister Without Portfolio soon to be designated Minister of Consumer Services whose name is also Ms. Young.
INTO LIQUOR PRODUCTION
MR. N.R. MORRISON (Victoria): My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Would the Minister describe as without basis and fact statements contained in a column by Jack Wasserman in today's edition of The Vancouver Sun detailing the government's plan to enter into the liquor business, specifically the right to produce alcoholic spirits in various forms for consumption?
HON. A.B. MACDONALD (Attorney-General): Mr. Speaker, this is a rumour which, unfortunately, is not true. But some of the best rumours are untrue, you know, and they help to create discussion about problems, and they are good. I have an appointment with Ben Ginter next week. While he will be telling me a tale of woe, and I have laid in a supply of Kleenex, (laughter) I don't think he will ever come to the point of asking us to run his brewery or his winery. So that is not true.
MR. MORRISON: Could I ask a supplemental, then? Is the government reviewing or making any studies at this time to determine the feasibility of either developing or purchasing alcoholic production facilities?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: The answer is no, Mr. Speaker.
SURVEY OF CHILDREN WITH
MR. D.A. ANDERSON (Victoria): To the Minister of Education, Mr. Speaker. Has the Department of Education completed the survey of school district programmes for the testing and treatment of children with learning disabilities?
HON. E.E. DAILLY (Minister of Education): I'm not quite sure which particular test you're talking about, Mr. Member.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, I understand from correspondence between the Minister and Mrs. Madson, the former head of the B.C. School Trustees Association, that the department was carrying out a survey of the various school districts to determine their ability to test and treat children with learning disabilities. I wonder if that survey has been carried out and whether or not she is now in a position to indicate what steps will be taken to implement the recommendations.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: I think I can follow you now. The word "testing" threw me off there. It was basically a survey of the present programmes in each school district for children with special needs. That survey has been completed. The officials in my department have visited every school district in the province and have prepared guidelines for those districts. Yes, the first survey is complete. They visited all districts and from that they will be giving out the guidelines for future work in that area and will continue with the regional workshops to assist them.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Can I ask the Minister, then, Mr. Speaker, whether or not increased funds will be available so that regardless of where a child with learning disabilities might live he will have the same opportunity to receive counselling and special educational help?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Well, of course it has always been our intent to try and assure that all children receive help. But I'm sure that the Hon. Member is aware that one of the problems often is personnel. Because of the geographical situation,
[ Page 2278 ]
sometimes it's not possible to get that specialized service in. But our department is working with all school boards to assist them in doing this.
Also, I want to point out that it isn't only the amount of money that is being spent that we're looking at; it's how it is presently being spent.
JUVENILE DELINQUENCY IN SURREY
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, with respect to the continuing incidence of juvenile delinquency in Surrey — particularly the burning of a building to the ground and the vandalizing of a resident's home at the weekend — and in view of citizen response, which is mentioning vigilante action, could I ask the Attorney-General whether he has received a specific request for help in policing Surrey, either from the residents or the Surrey council?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, not having been in my office this morning, I can't answer with certainty, but I don't recall a specific request for help. I would, of course, deplore vigilante action which would create its own kind of counter-violence.
MR. WALLACE: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, in that this is a subject that's been raised previously. At that time the Minister mentioned that he was keeping a close eye on the situation. Can he tell the House if any steps have been taken in recent weeks by his department in co-operation with the Surrey police department to prevent the kind of incidents that seem to be continuing to occur in that municipality?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think I know what the Hon. Member is referring to — I could be wrong. In that case, it's a matter of very close police co-operation. It's at that level.
OUTPUT OF RAILCARS AT SQUAMISH
MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Economic Development as executive vice-president of B.C. Railway. Regarding the much-delayed opening of the B.C. railcar manufacturing facilities at Squamish, which eventually opened on March 25 anticipating production of four railcars per day, could the Minister tell me how many railcars have been manufactured since its opening?
HON. G.V. LAUK (Minister of Economic Development): Mr. Speaker, as you know, in the Province of British Columbia we have no indigenous supply of steel and some difficulties are involved in getting a good, reasonably priced supply of steel.
HON. MR. LAUK: We hope that this June the cars will be running off the production line at Rail West in Squamish and that we'll be able to provide cars not only to the BCR but the Canadian National Railway, the CPR and maybe the American lines as well.
MR. CHABOT: A supplementary question — I should say the basic question. How many cars have been produced since the car plant opened on March 25, which has a capacity, so we're told, of manufacturing four cars per day? Has the Minister been able to use the rusty steel that has been hanging around Squamish for the last two years?
MR. CHABOT: No answers. They haven't made one car.
MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. Member for Langley is next.
MR. R.H. McCLELLAND (Langley): The Member had a supplementary question, the Member for....
MR. SPEAKER: I'm sure the Minister must have heard the question.
MR. McCLELLAND: Well, there was another supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Supplementary to the Minister. Could I ask the Minister what suppliers have failed to deliver steel and to honour contracts to deliver steel, which would have led to the delay as he described it?
HON. MR. LAUK: I don't want to mislead the House, Mr. Speaker. I didn't mean to indicate that it was a supply of steel delayed.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MR. LAUK: Mr. Speaker, if the Hon. Members listen carefully, and I think they should — it's a nice, sunny afternoon but take your time and listen carefully — what I said was a "supply of reasonably priced steel."
Now we have, because of the recent downturn in the economy across the country, a redesigning of our car plant to produce different types of cars. But I've been assured by the management of the B.C. Rail, who are operating this plant, that they'll be in production by June. I or the president of the railroad
[ Page 2279 ]
will keep you up to date as these events occur.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: In the light of the Minister's latest statement, may we take it that the decision to delay production was one of government in the light of changed steel prices, and there was no delay whatsoever from any supplier of steel contracted for?
HON. MR. LAUK: I didn't indicate that there was a delay because of supply of steel; I said. "reasonably priced steel."
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: You're waiting for prices to drop?
HORIZON CORP., EL PASO, TEXAS
MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Consumer Services. She, I understand, has had several requests or complaints from people who have been dealing with the Horizon Corp. of El Paso, Texas. After having contracted to buy property, they are now having trouble getting cancellation of that property purchase agreement. I wonder if the Minister has investigated this problem and what the results have been.
HON. P.F. YOUNG (Minister of Consumer Services): Mr. Speaker, I'll take the question as notice and report back to the Hon. Member.
COLUMBIA RIVER INQUIRY PERSONNEL
MR. G. F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources: I wonder if the Minister could explain to the House why he's having so much difficulty in finding personnel for the Columbia River inquiry that he promised to the House almost two and a half months ago?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS (Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources): It's not a matter of difficulty, Mr. Speaker.
MR. GIBSON: On a supplementary, could the Minister undertake to this House that that inquiry will be appointed some time before the next election?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
DELAY IN VOUCHER PAYMENTS
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): Mr. Speaker, I'd like to direct my question to the Minister of Highways. I'd like to ask the Minister if the supply of funds to the Department of Highways has been cut off by Treasury Board or by the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Barrett) because there seems to be a great delay in paying some vouchers, I have two, both of which are over three months old, and the comptroller of expenditure says he's unable to determine the reason in one case; in the other case he says that he's not sure why the account was not paid.
HON. G.R. LEA (Minister of Highways): Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House and the Hon. Member that the supply of funds has not been cut off. But it would seem to me that if the Member were really interested in getting those vouchers paid he would have come to see me personally so that I could have looked after it, instead of bringing it up in a political way in the House.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Speaker, just by way of clarification: I have written letters in both instances to the comptroller of expenditure, which you advised me to do, Mr. Minister of Highways. You advised me to take it up with your comptroller. Don't you get political with me in this Legislature! (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: Order! Would the Hon. Member keep his voice down to a shout?
MR. PHILLIPS: Yes. I just wanted to explain to you, Mr. Speaker, that I did exactly as the Minister of Highways advised me to do: take it up with his comptroller, which I did. And I have received letters from his comptroller with no reasonable explanation.
HON. MR. LEA: On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I don't think I can leave this like this. I told him that if he didn't get satisfaction there to see me. And I didn't mean in the House during question period; I meant seriously, so I could work on it.
MR. PHILLIPS: The question I asked the Minister of Highways was: is it mismanagement in his department or is the supply of funds cut off? Will the Minister look into it to find out why these vouchers are not being paid? In one instance it's a sum of nearly $4,000 to a little tire shop in Smithers... over four months. He probably only made about 8 per cent. Is the Minister going to pay interest on this overdue account?
HON. MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, it concerns me — and I believe the Hon. Member that there are people waiting for their money for some length of time — but it would seem to me that if there is mismanagement, it is not on this side of the House. I
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would like to get to the bottom of this. Even now if that Member will come and see me, we'll try and push it through.
MR. PHILLIPS: Well, Mr. Speaker, I have to say again that I did take it up with the Minister and he advised me to see his comptroller, and to write letters to his comptroller, which I did.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I don't think that is a question. The Hon. Member for North Okanagan was seeking the floor, and she hasn't had a question.
MR. PHILLIPS: I just didn't want you to be misled, Mr. Speaker, that I didn't do exactly as the Minister of Highways advised me to do.
REMARKS ON HOTLINE BROADCAST
MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): Mr. Speaker, I would like to address my question to the Hon. Attorney-General and ask him, in relation to his statements on the Jack Webster programme this morning, if he really believes that the House has been in session nearly four months this session; if he really believes that confiscation in Bill 61 doesn't mean confiscation; and if he really believes that there is nowhere in the Act where property can be taken without compensation.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the first: it seems like four months. (Laughter.)
MRS. JORDAN: Is the Minister directing his statement that....
HON. MR. MACDONALD: In answer to the second and third, which are really the same question: as I read the bill — and all bills can be improved, I've no doubt about that — I would think no property could be taken without the settling of the price of arbitration.
MRS. JORDAN: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Am I assuming, then, that the Minister is correct in the statement that he made...?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think the Hon. Member really, in effect, is asking about a bill which is already on the order paper and would not be proper for question period.
MRS. JORDAN: One last question that's not about the bill. Would the Attorney-General please advise the House which Minister is known as Big Ernie? (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. A highly improper question.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Who's Big Pat? (Laughter.)
INVESTIGATION OF CHINESE HERBAL PILLS
MR. WALLACE: That's what equality of the sexes is all about, Mr. A-G. (Laughter.)
To the Minister of Health. In view of the fact that physicians in the Victoria area have attributed deaths to the continued use of illegal Chinese herbal pills, could I ask the Minister if any decision has been made to carry out an investigation of the cases quoted by the president of the Victoria Medical Society, who quoted something of the order of four deaths?
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, at the present time, the whole question of the Chinese herbal drugs is under investigation by the federal Department of Health. We didn't feel there was much point in our duplicating because they've been very heavy about this whole question. Members of my department are maintaining a watching brief and certainly will co-operate in every way with the Department.... Well, actually, it's under investigation by the pure foods people, I presume.
MR. PHILLIPS: I have a point of order I'd like to bring up with regard to the Blues, page....
MR. SPEAKER: I'm not sure it's a point of order until I know what we're talking about.
MR. PHILLIPS: Well, a point of privilege?
MR. SPEAKER: Let's find out what it's about and then we'll see what it is.
MR. PHILLIPS: Thank you for your indulgence, Mr. Speaker.
Page 188-2-jbr, dated Monday, May 12, 1975, afternoon sitting, which I believe was yesterday afternoon's sitting. Part way down the page it says: "HON. MRS. DAILLY: I move that the committee rise, report resolution" — which is penciled in by the Hansard staff; the typewritten copy says "report progress" — "and ask leave to sit again." I'm just wondering which....
You did correct it? Is it to be "report resolution"?
MR. PHILLIPS: Well, you said "progress" and now it's penciled in as "resolution." I'm just wondering which it's to be and which is going to appear in the official Hansard, because if the corrected copy of Hansard says "report resolution, "
[ Page 2281 ]
that would mean that vote 9, Provincial Land Commission, in the amount of $580,510, was passed.
MR. SPEAKER: I think the Hon. Member, if he looks further in the Blues, will see where all that was clarified, I believe.
MR. PHILLIPS: That's what really bothers me, Mr. Speaker, because down later it says: "MR. CHAIRMAN: (restating the motion) The motion is that the committee rise, report..." — and there the "resolution" is erased and "progress" is.... They don't coincide with one another, and I'm just wondering how they're going to appear. I would like Your Grace to check into this to make sure that in the official black and white copies, Mr. Speaker, it is correct, because it's somewhat confusing.
MR. SPEAKER: Well, I'll certainly look into it, and we'll all pray together. (Laughter.)
MR. PHILLIPS: One other point, Mr. Speaker. On page 193-4, where the Chairman returned to the chair, there is nothing in the Hansard Blues to indicate that a division had been called. At that point I tried to raise a point of order. The microphones were certainly not cut off, because the Speaker didn't even motion to leave his chair and stand up until he started running from the chair. It's not recorded and I would like to request....
MR. SPEAKER: I'll look at the Blues on those two points to make sure that corrections that were made were properly made at the time in the House, or the Committee of the Whole House, whichever they occurred in. I'll also listen to tapes and I'll probably invite the Hon. Member to go down and listen to them with me so that we can find out what occurred in committee.
MR. PHILLIPS: I'd appreciate that, yes, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: The other thing I would point out is that this matter was raised yesterday about the question of calling a division in the Committee of the Whole House and leave being given, asked for in the House by the Hon. Premier, that the Committee of the Whole House return to have that division. Now, of course, the Speaker, quite properly, must ask leave of the House when that request is made by an Hon. Member.
MR. PHILLIPS: Granted.
MR. SPEAKER: I did so, and I felt rather hurt later to be criticized for doing my job in asking the House for that leave.
MR. PHILLIPS: Well, I didn't see any criticism in the Blues.
MR. SPEAKER: I hope there wasn't any in the Blues, but I felt that I was doing the correct thing in asking leave of the House. The House did go back into Committee of the Whole House, and the thing that you had been asking for was done.
In the meantime, until I've studied the matter more thoroughly, I would suggest that whenever such an event occurs where there is a great deal of noise in committee, for example, and you can't be heard properly — although I have my reservations on whether you couldn't be heard anywhere — then I suggest that you ask leave of the House to return to committee for that division. I'm sure all persons in the House would agree to that being done.
MR. PHILLIPS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I certainly won't take that as a slur against my voice.
MR. SPEAKER: Of course not.
MR. PHILLIPS: And I know you'll correct it in your usual unbiased manner, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Absolutely.
MR. PHILLIPS: Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: It was in the most jocular fashion that it was intended.
MR. PHILLIPS: Yes. Thank you for your indulgence, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: That's about as near as I can get to being jocular.
MR. CHABOT: A supplemental and on a point of order on the same matter, Mr. Speaker. In the question period yesterday — and I am sure that Hansard is trying to assist me in getting the proper titles to various government ventures — I asked the question of the Attorney-General in charge of the liquor administration board, and the word "administration" is scrubbed out and the word "control" is in its place. I was attempting to be current with what takes place, and I see that there has been a change here.
MR. SPEAKER: Did Hansard try to correct it to what they thought it was? Is that what it appears to be?
MR. CHABOT: Yes.
MR. SPEAKER: And it should be the way you
[ Page 2282 ]
MR. CHABOT: That's right.
MR. SPEAKER: Well, I'll certainly take that up too. As a matter of fact, the Hon. Member knows that he should correct his own statements where they are in error in Hansard.
MR. CHABOT: How do I get them, Mr. Speaker?
MR. SPEAKER: Aren't there copies delivered to you?
MR. CHABOT: No. This copy was delivered to me after great prodding to receive it. It wasn't received until 1:45.
MR. SPEAKER: I don't always get mine on time either. They are pretty busy.
MR. CHABOT: It's difficult. Of course these things aren't....
MR. SPEAKER: I will certainly look into that, but I think that the Hon. Member can make that correction himself because he knows more certainly what he did say than I do.
MR. CHABOT: Yes. I want to thank Hansard for trying to put me straight on what the proper title is anyway.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.
There was one other question, besides that question of division, raised yesterday that I was asked to look at, but merely for the purpose of giving an opinion. I point out that yesterday the House itself made a decision which, in effect, is a judgment of the House. I was asked to look at this decision, though, and comment on the decision of the committee on estimates yesterday, and the Chair accepting a motion that it rise and report progress when a vote had been presented and withdrawn from the committee without the question put on the vote.
This abrupt practice has been in common usage for many years to meet the requirements of the sessional order that is adopted each session: "...that this House will at its next sitting resolve itself into a committee to consider the supply to be granted to Her Majesty and that this order have precedence over all other business except introduction of bills until disposed of." Such motion was adopted in this House last February 27.
Whether the House stays in committee or not appears to rest on whether other matters deserve the consideration of the House. Where the government wishes to postpone consideration of estimates, it has in such cases in the past complied with the precedence order by rising without debate or question put on any money vote, and the House Leader moving that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Last Friday the matter of standing order 45A was raised, and it being the conclusion of the 45th sitting, contemplated by the new rule adopted last year, and also the hour of adjournment under standing orders — being after 1 o'clock — the committee rose. I was asked in the House whether the questions still remaining to be put to the Committee of the Whole House should have been put. I stated that since the rules of the House prevail when we are in the House: "the House will carry on its normal business of adjournment."
I stated further, in reference, to the precedence order for Committee of Supply: "that unless there has been a substantive change, this House will resolve itself into Committee of Supply so that on the next sitting after today, whenever that is appointed by this House, that committee will be called again until all its business is disposed of or until it rises" — now that is very important as that is what I said on Friday — "and is called again on a subsequent day."
When you try to find precedents for this matter, looking in the present May is not much help because the present British practice upon interruption by the adjournment hour is that all questions may be put unless there is an objection, in which case the Chairman leaves the chair and the House can, however, deal with exempted business — but that is not controversial business. That is not our case here. Looking at British practice as it was prior to that standing order in the present rules in Britain, May's 13th edition, at page 349 and page 350, deals with precedence orders of the House which prescribe the times at which and the proceedings by which the remaining part, or the whole of the committee stage, the report stage, the committee in report stages, et cetera, should be disposed of. Analogous to our situation, May states at page 350 of that edition:
"When the time appointed for its conclusion is reached, such questions as may be necessary to dispose of that stage or portion shall be put forthwith from the Chair as soon as the question which is under discussion at the appointed time, and which is then to be put forthwith, shall have been disposed of."
May then goes on to state:
"On days on which proceedings under the order are to be brought to a conclusion" — which was the case in standing order 45A — "or in some cases on any allotted day, dilatory motions, or that the Chairman report progress or leave the Chair, are forbidden unless moved by the government when the question thereon is to be put without amendment or debate."
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It makes an exception for the government on the business of the time coming to its close on the appointed day, where the Chairman is to leave the chair on the motion of the government.
It appears that the decision of the House yesterday supporting the Chairman's ruling seems consonant with that statement of the practice in May, and that such a motion may be accepted by the Chair in committee, despite the word "forthwith."
Obviously the priority motion is a government motion which it can invoke or postpone as it has always done over the years. This is the way it appears to me. Now it is only my opinion. I cannot say it is a ruling of the Chair. You asked my opinion and that's all it is, but as it stands now that appears to be all I can find on the subject.
MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): I would suggest to Mr. Speaker that in the words he has delivered to us this afternoon and the advice that he's brought down there is one other point that I think you should consider at your leisure, and that is the fact that the traditional motion which is put at the beginning of the Committee of Supply....
MR. SPEAKER: The precedence motion.
MR. SMITH: The precedence motion that we must enter into Committee of Supply until disposed of, with the exception that the introduction of bills has precedence over Committee of Supply, did not contemplate at any time in the past the rules as they exist today.
MR. SPEAKER: You mean standing order 45?
MR. SMITH: Under standing order 45. So we now have another rule that is on our books that was not there during previous sessions of the Legislature.
I would suggest to the Speaker that the matter of Committee of Supply and the adjournment of debate of Committee of Supply or the motion to rise and report progress should be viewed within the context of rule 45, which sets out a definitive time limit for the number of days or the number of hours of Committee of Supply.
MR. SPEAKER: I think the Hon. Member realizes, from what I have quoted, that the question of a definite time at which, being the allotted day, the appointed time at which the question is then put forthwith, was true in the British practice prior to our standing order 45A years ago in their practice, and that they could postpone it if it was a motion by the government that the Chairman go out of the Committee of Whole. Therefore, it really isn't analogous to the problem of "forthwith" as defined in 45A.
MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in order to assist the House in the matter that we have before us, and that is the undisposed business in a number of portfolios, I ask leave to move a motion without notice under standing order 49. The motion is this: that the now existing standing order with respect to Committee of Supply be suspended, and the following substituted therefore:
"The proceedings in Committee of Supply shall not be limited unless and until debate has been completed on each estimate by the Members of the Legislative Assembly."
I ask leave under standing order 49 to move such a motion.
MR. SPEAKER: Shall leave be granted?
Leave not granted.
MR. SPEAKER: It must be unanimous to change standing orders.
MRS. JORDAN: Who said no? The Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Macdonald)? The defender of justice?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. GIBSON: I'm speaking further to the point of order raised by the Hon. Member for North Peace River (Mr. Smith), Mr. Speaker, and supporting his suggestion that Your Honour might wish to review this once again.
I think the usefulness of the British practice, as reflected in May, is only to the extent that it is not superseded by the clear language of our own standing orders, and, further, would have to be read in conjunction with the then existing British standing orders, which aren't in front of this House. I don't know exactly how it would relate and why it should be that a dilatory motion was, in that instance, allowed. But I would suggest that whether it was or not in those circumstances in Britain, it is different here because of the clear language of the word "forthwith." I would suggest, Your Honour, that "forthwith" means "immediate," as it does in the dictionary at the foot of your desk there, and that in fact the Chair has no right to recognize any Hon. Member under the terms of standing order 45 at that time, other than for the purpose of a point of order or point of privilege.
MR. SPEAKER: I think the Hon. Member mistook what I said. I said, and I quoted from May, that on some occasion on any allotted date, dilatory motions, or that the Chairman report progress or leave the Chair, are forbidden.
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MR. GIBSON: Yes, that's right.
MR. SPEAKER: Unless moved by the government.
MR. GIBSON: Unless the government moves it. But I would suggest, Your Honour, that under the language of our standing order they are forbidden flatly and absolutely, whether moved by the government or any private Member in the House.
MR. SPEAKER: Well, you see, I have this problem. As I said, the House has already made a decision on the matter yesterday. I can only give some advice on the subject.
But, really, to change it the House would have to change either standing orders to clarify the point or take some other method of adopting what you want.
MR. GIBSON: Well, perhaps Your Honour could enlighten me, but I had always thought that unless standing orders had explicitly been changed, they take precedence over any supposed decision of the House on a particular point. As long as the standing order is there, it must be enforced. I suggest, Your Honour, that that's what that standing order means.
MR. SPEAKER: I don't think that submission could be adopted — that the House could alter it in that fashion.
MR. GIBSON: Well, that's what I am saying, that the House....
MR. SPEAKER: The House has made the decision on what the meaning of the standing order was, in effect, standing order 45A, that the Chairman can accept a motion from the government .... This is also true in England, prior to the present standing order 1; they could accept a motion from the government. After all, the question of supply and its precedence was asked for by the government. They are the ones concerned that their motion be invoked from time to time, and the opposition is entitled, except for the final day, to make motions that the committee rise and report progress, for example. But on the final day, under the British practice, apparently the government can make that motion.
MR. GIBSON: But, Mr. Speaker, you leave me with some confusion here because what you suggest is that the House may interpret standing orders in any way they wish, no matter what the language of the standing order is. That would suggest, for example, that for standing order 3, the hour of 6 o'clock, the House could interpret it that it means 7 o'clock, 8 o'clock, 9 o'clock or 10 o'clock. But what I am asking you is: if the plain language says something else, how are we to have any order in this House unless that plain language is followed? It is not being followed in this case.
MR. SPEAKER: Well, the word "forthwith" was used in the British practice. Nonetheless, it still gave to the government the option not to proceed with the particular matter despite the wording of priority and the word "forthwith."
MR. GIBSON: That has to be read in conjunction with....
MR. SPEAKER: What it means to me as I see it now, and what I tried to say on Friday, is this: once you get into Committee of Supply, you must carry out the votes as required under standing order 45A forthwith. But there is the provision for the committee to rise and report progress; and only the government, according to May, could make that motion.
MR. GIBSON: That's nowhere in our standing orders. Nowhere.
MR. SPEAKER: Much of our standing orders are according to custom, usages as adopted under standing order 1. Therefore, when we are silent on something or where our rule is not clear, we look to whatever advice we can get both from the British rules and from other decisions of Speakers in this or other jurisdictions.
MR. GIBSON: But I suggest with respect, Your Honour, that our rules are not silent on it and they are not unclear. They are very clear. The vote shall be called forthwith and....
MR. SPEAKER: Well, I would have thought that the decision of the House in the matter really settled it. I cannot overcome the rule of the House regardless of what you and I say.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, a further point of order.
MR. SPEAKER: May I point out, before we go on to that, something in Beauchesne, 4th edition, page 10? "In the interpretation of the rules as standing orders, the House is generally guided not so much by the literal construction of the orders themselves as by the consideration of what has been the practice of the House with respect to them."
MR. SPEAKER: Of course I agree with you. There's no precedent for standing order 45A other than the decision of the House yesterday, which is, of
[ Page 2285 ]
course, more than a precedent. But, beyond that, the use of words and how they are considered and treated by the British House have always been a matter of interpretation that we must be guided by too. I have indicated a case where the word "forthwith" was used when all votes must be placed forthwith in the British practice; yet, nonetheless, a government could make a motion that the committee rise and report progress. That is precisely, as I understand it, what happened yesterday, Monday.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: I noticed that you quoted from May and I would like to know what edition. I have the 18th and 19th.
MR. SPEAKER: Oh, I said the 13th edition because, you see, the 18th edition has a totally different standing order 1.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Thank you. Yes, certainly the 18th edition, which is the one we normally use, is totally different and I would refer you to general rule 1 to which you referred us earlier.
MR. SPEAKER: I just pointed out that that rule has nothing to do with either this House or with the rule as it was at the time we adopted our rules in 1871.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, we did not adopt rule 45 in 1971. (Laughter.) We adopted it in 1974 over the protest of the entire opposition. It's a rotten rule. I agree with you. It's something the government and yourself would dearly like to get out of, but it exists there and it's perfectly clear....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Are you suggesting that I've done anything else other than what you requested me to do?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I agree with you, and I agree with the government, as they have now discovered — and even the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Hall) maybe has now discovered — that this rule is simply not a good one.
MR. SPEAKER: Then the proper course for you is to put a motion on the order paper with due notice to change standing order 45A.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: We've tried that and we've tried hard, Mr. Speaker, and made every effort to have rule 45A changed, and the government refuses. They want to have it both ways. They want to keep the rule there and yet not use it.
Well, they can't do that under the terms of the wording of rule 45A(3). They can't do it because it is mandatory under the wording — under the clear understanding of those of us here that "shall forthwith" means "will immediately" go ahead.
MR. SPEAKER: I think we're arguing at no purpose because neither of us can change what has already been said and done in this House and in Committee of the Whole House. The House has made a decision which I cannot, of course, overrule.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm not suggesting anyone should overrule any decision taken yesterday.
MR. SPEAKER: Then let's get on with the business.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: It's simply that in the future the same mistake should not be repeated.
MR. BENNETT: Like today.
Orders of the day.
HON. E.E. DAILLY (Minister of Education): Mr. Speaker, I ask leave of the House to proceed to public bills and orders.
Leave not granted.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Dent in the chair.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON (Victoria): A point of order.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The Hon. Second Member for Victoria on a point of order.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Chairman, I would like to draw your attention to rule 45A(3) on page 18, which refers to the fact that the Chairman of the Committee of Supply "shall forthwith put all questions necessary to carry every vote and item." Having drawn your attention to this, Mr. Chairman, I'm sure it will be unnecessary for you to do otherwise than follow the rules.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That's not a point of order. The Hon. House Leader.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Vote 9, Department of Agriculture.
ESTIMATES: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
On vote 9: Provincial Land Commission, $580,510 — continued.
[ Page 2286 ]
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Chairman, I move the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The Hon. Member for North Vancouver-Capilano on a point of order.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): A few words on vote 9, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: There is a motion before the committee. We'll dispose of the motion first.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. CHAIRMAN: The motion is that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Motion approved on the following division:
YEAS — 30
NAYS — 13
|Gibson||Anderson, D.A.||Williams, L.A.|
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): Mr. Chairman, when reporting to the Speaker, would you advise that a division took place in committee and ask leave to have it recorded in the Journals of the House.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Agreed.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Speaker, the committee reports progress and asks leave to sit again, and further reports that a division took place in committee and asks that the division be recorded in the Journals of the House.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Adjourned debate on second reading of Bill 20.
SECURITIES AMENDMENT ACT, 1975
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Speaker, I was just having a few words about the government's own insider trading practices and conflicts of interest last evening when we adjourned. Just to further make my point possibly a little clearer, I checked into the 1974 annual report of the Westcoast Transmission, and I was interested in looking at some of the operating revenues of that company. I want to recall again to the House how our Premier and Minister of Finance condemned this particular company when in opposition a few short years ago as ripping off the people of British Columbia, making excessive profits off the backs of the residents of British Columbia. I remember him talking about them stealing the natural gas and making excessive profits. But what happens when the government buys shares in Westcoast Transmission??
Let's just take a look at their profit over a 10-year period. For instance, their total operating revenue for the year 1966 was $60,895,000. In 1969, it had gone up to $84,675,000. In 1971, it had gone to $101,575,000. But then the government moved in and they bought some shares on behalf of the taxpayers of British Columbia, and the operating revenue in 1974 went to $226,600,000.
What I'm saying here is that there is a possibility — I'm not saying it's happened, but there's a possibility — that if the government is loose, which they have been in the past on many instances with their statements about what they're going to do in the stock market, there is a great possibility that them being an insider, knowing what they're going to do, persons close to the government could move in and pick up the shares in a company that the government might state an intention to buy shares in. Once the government has control of X number of shares in one of the companies, then, through their manipulation through the awesome powers which they have, which I mentioned yesterday afternoon, either through the Revenue Act, or through the British Columbia Petroleum Corp., or through the Timber Products Stabilization Act, they can have a definite control over the value of the shares in that company.
If you want to take a look at the net income, which is applicable to the common shares of that company, the same trend has happened. We don't really see the large profits that this company was making during the time the Premier was speaking about it. As a matter of fact, the net income went from $2,350,000 in 1966 to $9,230,000 in 1971. But in the last two years, since the provincial government, through their B.C. Petroleum Corp., has been able to
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manipulate the price of natural gas, the net profit for Westcoast Transmission has gone from $9,230,000 in 1971 to $25,172,000 in 1974. As I say, anybody who knew what the government's intentions were in this matter would be able to pick up shares. It is the government because of their power and their inside knowledge of being able to control these markets through the power which they have that....
I want to give you another instance where the entire opposite has happened — this would be in the case of MacMillan Bloedel. I'd just like to read you a short statement by the chairman of the board. His comments on it are, I think, very applicable to this bill, where he says:
" 'The New Democratic Party in power in Victoria cannot brush off this week's warning that its policies are inhibiting the investment of capital to create new jobs in British Columbia, nor can it ignore an allied statement that the ability of the forest industry to preserve existing jobs will be jeopardized unless there is relief from new and onerous costs imposed by the provincial government.'
"These fundamental issues were bluntly expressed by George B. Currie, chairman of MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. at the company's annual meeting on Wednesday. Mr. Currie also had the unpleasant duty to tell the shareholders that declining earnings have forced a reduction in their dividends for the second quarter of this year to 15 cents a share from 50 cents."
So here we have the entire opposite happening.
When the government buys shares in a particular company — we can witness what happened to Can-Cel — through the powers they have through the Timber Products Stabilization Act, they can ensure that their policies are going to see that the shares of the companies in which they have an interest are going to appreciate, whereas if they wish to use these same powers to depress the shares of any particular company, they can do that.
What we need is not only the bill we have before us but also a conflict-of-interest bill to prevent the government from having these conflicts of interests, and to keep the government out of the marketplace. The Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Macdonald) knows this — that the government has left itself wide open to the criticism I am giving it here today.
The Canadian Development Corp. Is a horse of a different colour. It's going to be owned totally by the people of Canada and the government.
MR. PHILLIPS: Yes, but the Canadian Development Corp. and the shares they buy... they don't have the power to manipulate and they're not going to manipulate all the industries in Canada because you control the natural resources. But here in British Columbia you have a different situation, an entirely different situation. It's on a much narrower scale. You have that power. We told you that you were taking that awesome power when you passed the legislation, Mr. Attorney-General. You have that power already granted to the cabinet and to the Ministers to control these natural resources.
By being able to do that you can manipulate whether these companies will make a profit or not. You have definite conflict of interests. You have conflict of interests, particularly with Westcoast Transmission, owning shares in it, because you control the resource that they make a profit on. As I stated yesterday, this government, the government that used to criticize Westcoast Transmission for making what they called a few short years ago "rip-off profits," now makes three times the amount of profit in a short two and a half years than they did in 1971.
Mr. Speaker, this is what can happen; this is what is happening.
HON. A.B. MACDONALD (Attorney-General): They were depressed.
MR. PHILLIPS: They were depressed? Well, you were the government that condemned Westcoast Transmission for making such tremendous rip-off profits.
Yet since 1971, in your manipulation and because you own shares in that company, you have allowed the profits to triple. You have changed their rate of return from 9.5 to a guaranteed 10 per cent. There are many companies, Mr. Speaker. Is this going to be the standard?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: We are under the national Energy Act.
MR. PHILLIPS: Is this going to be the standard for rate of return on investment in British Columbia?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: They are regulated by Ottawa.
MR. PHILLIPS: You set the price of natural gas. You made the deal with Westcoast Transmission as to how much profit it shall make for handling and distributing the gas in British Columbia. You made that deal, Mr. Attorney-General, through the British Columbia Petroleum Corp., and don't say that you didn't. Therefore you control the entire situation. You have within your grasp the power, through the British Columbia Petroleum Corp., to say exactly how much profit Westcoast Transmission shall make. You have that power because you say what they shall buy the gas for and you say what they shall sell the gas for.
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HON. MR. MACDONALD: They don't buy and sell. They just have carrying....
MR. PHILLIPS: Well, all right. So that the general public can understand it, I am putting it in easy terms.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: They don't buy.
MR. PHILLIPS: But you still regulate how much profit they shall make, Mr. Speaker. The Attorney-General does through his British Columbia Petroleum Corp.
MR. PHILLIPS: You regulate the profit. You have the power to regulate the profit.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: The federal government has the overseeing power there — the National Energy Board.
MR. PHILLIPS: We've set a precedent here, Mr. Speaker. If Westcoast Transmission.... I would suggest that maybe because the interest rates are down they are probably getting a return of closer to 10 to 15 per cent — 10 to 15 percent.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Oh, no.
MR. PHILLIPS: Well, work it out. Have you worked it out, Mr. Attorney-General? We have set a precedent, because this is going to be the standard for the return on natural resource industries in British Columbia. If it is, are you going to allow a rate of return to the mining companies? Are you going to guarantee them, Mr. Speaker, a rate of return of 10 per cent guaranteed? Is there a double standard in the Province of British Columbia where some natural resource industries are going to be guaranteed a rate of return? Are you going to guarantee them? Why don't we treat all natural resource industries on an equal basis? Why are we killing the mining industry?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: We're getting a little bit away from this bill, aren't we?
MR. PHILLIPS: Well, Mr. Speaker, what I am talking about is the amount of power and the conflict of interest. What I am saying is that if the government wants to bring in conflict-of-interest legislation to control the stock market, they are the biggest user of the stock market in British Columbia and they have a conflict of interest. They will be the inside traders. They will manipulate the stock market. What I am saying is that if it is good for one group of people, it should be good for the government, because you definitely will be an insider in trading in the stock market. You definitely will be an insider. You definitely have more information than certainly any other insider might have because you make the rules and you are not unknown to change them in the middle of the game.
I would suggest, on the converse, that the government has cost the taxpayers of this province many, many thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars lost in the stock market by those people who held mining shares. The reverse there is possible. This government has a conflict of interest and should pass legislation to let the sun shine in.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Into every company a little ray must fall.
MR. PHILLIPS: The trouble is, Mr. Speaker, that the Attorney-General and his government have let a lot of rain fall on one of the natural resource industries; I refer to the mining industry. They have let nothing but sunshine in because they have a pecuniary interest in the petroleum industry in British Columbia. We have the same situation occurring where the government is now going to bring in incentives for the petroleum industry to drill for oil and gas.
I remember speaking my heart out along with the Member for North Peace River (Mr. Smith) in this Legislature in 1973 and in 1974, imploring the government to do something to save.... And after the horse is out of the barn, now you are going to have to use twice as many oats to get it back in as you would had you fed it while it was in the barn. But after the horse has run away, you are going to try and lure it back. As I say, you are going to need twice as many oats. You will probably have to give the petroleum industry more incentives now than you would have had they remained in the province. But you wouldn't listen to common sense.
I remember the Attorney-General standing on the floor of the Legislature saying that he wanted to prop up the petroleum industry, wanted to prop it up with taxpayers' money. "Give away the gas. Give away the oil." What are we doing now? The Attorney-General is faced with a dilemma. He wants the petroleum industry back in. He wants to hear the sound of those drilling rigs once again.
The Peace River area and the great oil and gas fields are in silence today, Mr. Speaker, in silence. But the Attorney-General wants to hear those diesel engines once more turning those powerful drills in search of that black gold. Oh, he wants to hear it and he's got his hand out with them. And there's going to be money in the palm of his hand. "Come back." He'll be on bended knee. "Come back." And they're going to say: "Sweeten the kitty a little more."
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MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): And he will.
MR. PHILLIPS: They hold the upper hand now, Mr. Speaker, because he drove them out. And they're going to be hard to bargain with. He's going to have to use more of the taxpayers' money than he would have had to use before had he treated them just with respect when they were here. But many of those drilling rigs have gone in search of richer land. You won't get them back that easily because the cost of transporting a drilling rig is in the thousands and thousands of dollars. He's going to have to entice them back. But anyway, I might be straying slightly from the point.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Oh, no, no!
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Speaker, I certainly didn't want to do that. No. I didn't want to do that. I certainly didn't want to do that.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: No, he wouldn't do that.
MR. PHILLIPS: But I do want to, in closing, Mr. Speaker, say that this government has left itself wide open to make errors. I'm not going to say that they're going to make these errors intentionally — but you've left your rear guard open. You're going to make these errors because you have too much power.
You've taken this power unto yourself, Mr. Attorney-General; you've taken this power unto yourself. You now have the combination to the safe, and if there's anything missing you're going to be responsible. Any errors made, and the Attorney-General's going to be responsible. I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, I don't trust that Attorney-General! I don't trust his ability to handle this situation he's in. I hate to see him with his back against the wall.
Already in this short period of time we have seen three, four instances where the government has made errors. I refer to Dunhill; I refer to Can-Cel; I refer to Westcoast Transmission; I refer to B.C. Tel, where the government has moved in, backed off, moved in again, backed off, made errors and manipulated the stock market. This is what's going to happen time and time again.
All I'm saying, Mr. Speaker, is that I plead with the Attorney-General to bring in some legislation which will prevent the government from getting itself in this position where by a slip of the tongue, by misplaced statement, you can cost individual shareholders thousands and thousands of dollars. Or, by the same token, you can, by a slip of the tongue, let somebody in a government position or even outside of the government — friends of the government — know that you're going to move into a particular company, know full well that you have the power to increase the earning capacity of that company so that they can move in if they know. Then they will be the insiders — just by a slip of the tongue.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Mum's the word!
MR. PHILLIPS: Well, you haven't had mum's the word. We've already had two cases where mum wasn't the word; it was open-mouthed government. I'm not going to go back over the cases again, but it was open-mouthed government where you have directly affected the stock market, directly affected the price of shares that have been trading on the stock market.
We can see that if you really want to make a bonanza, keep your ear tuned to the government — find out in what direction they're moving, what industries they're going to take over and buy when the price is low. Because once this government gets hold of the shares of that company, through their great awesome powers they will manipulate the resources to ensure success of that company and that the shares will have great earning capacity.
We want to watch the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Nimsick) because he's ready to move into the mining industry. I wouldn't want to tell anybody here today to go buy mining shares. But the Minister is ready to strike and, as soon as he moves in, the price of those shares will go up because he'll continue to give the natural resources away because he wants to make good showing and that he's made the right deal.
So, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to close on the note that I wouldn't want to be in the Attorney-General's position.
MR. PHILLIPS: I wouldn't want to be in your position of having all that awesome power, being able to manipulate the stock market, but bringing in a little piece of patchwork legislation to prevent insider trading within the stock market. You are the greatest insider trader in the whole of the stock market in British Columbia! You are open to a conflict of interest. I wouldn't want to be in your position, Mr. Attorney-General.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Your speech has depressed the market.
MR. PHILLIPS: I wouldn't want to be in your position, for you've depressed the whole Province of British Columbia and all of the taxpayers in the Province of British Columbia. You've depressed them all. Never before in the province will there be such complete depression as when the tax notices go out. There will be complete depression. They're on their
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way. There will be despondency.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that's not under my estimates.
MR. PHILLIPS: Yes, well, I'll resume my seat on that very depressing note.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver–Howe Sound): Mr. Speaker, if I may, with the Attorney-General's permission, return to the principle of Bill 20, which I believe the Attorney-General indicated is to be found in section 8.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: One of the principles.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: But this is one of the main and important items that the Attorney-General is trying to correct in the law as it stands today.
There is no question that people who, by their relationship with companies, have private access to information which they can use to their own private advantage should have some restraints cast upon them. I would, however, appreciate it if the Attorney-General can settle one matter that is of concern to me in the bill as it presently stands.
I appreciate that there is now to be a penal provision of considerable consequence. I appreciate that the insider who uses confidential information for his own advantage is liable to account to the corporation and, I assume, hence pay to the corporation the amount of his gain. That's implicit in the language.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: That was in the bill before.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: That's right. But now there is a provision whereby any person who suffers direct loss is also liable to be compensated by the insider. I am concerned to know in what way the Attorney-General would possibly perceive that an individual might suffer a loss by reason of someone else making a profit. I assume it is that direct loss which would be the responsibility of that person to prove in a court of law.
What most often happens, Mr. Speaker, is that by reason of the insider having private, confidential information, he is able to move to his own advantage, and someone else who is a shareholder in that particular company is unable to make an assessment of what he or she should do, either to buy or to sell the securities. Therefore, I don't see that what the Attorney-General is attempting here is going to be of any significant value to the many people who are the owners of securities in companies.
You are penalizing the insider for his gain, but you are not really assisting the other owner of securities to receive redress for the misfortune which he may suffer. Indeed, it may not be a direct loss. It may be somehow or other the inability to realize a gain, and I don't think that the Attorney-General would include that latter set of circumstances within the definition of "direct loss." Therefore, it seems that some greater consideration must be given to these provisions to ensure that confidential information which affects the value of securities is not withheld from the people who are the owners of securities.
Really what I am urging, Mr. Speaker, is for the government to consider requiring companies to make the fullest disclosure of information from time to time which has the effect of improving or depressing the value of their own securities, so that the owners of those securities can make a proper judgment.
With regard to the insider himself, would the Attorney-General also, in closing this debate, indicate the restrictions that this places upon the normal dealings of an insider who, by reason of his position, knows probably better than anybody else matters which affect the future of the company in respect of which he is an insider? Is he thereby limited from disposing of any securities he may control? Is he precluded until such time as that confidential information is generally known? Suppose it never becomes generally known. Suppose a circumstance arises and it comes to the attention of a director of a company that something is going to happen within the next few months and it is going to depress the value of those securities. Must he wait until that occurs before he can engage in a securities transaction?
I think that while we all recognize that improper use of information should be precluded, and that the general movement, the general trading of securities by people who happen to be in positions of an inside relationship with the company, shouldn't be precluded, I would like to be assured that people who find themselves in that position are not, by this amendment, going to find themselves in a more difficult position.
Companies, in order to survive, need skilled advice; they need people who must place themselves in the relationship of insiders in order to function. If by that they are somehow or other handicapped from what is a normal commercial transaction, then I think it may bring about a result which is not in the best interests of companies generally and of our economy.
MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. Attorney-General closes the debate.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that such a little bill can generate such a good discussion over such a wide-ranging field.
Returning quickly to the bill, the Hon. First Member for Vancouver-Point Grey (Mr. McGeer) was
[ Page 2291 ]
a little disappointed in some of the things we have done, and he's been reading some of my old speeches. But we're doing the public governor thing, in terms of the Vancouver Stock Exchange, and we've done the Corporate and Financial Services Commission, an appellant body which has already listened, I think, to the first five stock complaint cases. It is a new avenue for people to complain, without expense to themselves, if they feel they have been unfairly treated, contrary to law in the marketplace with regard to securities.
In addition, the policy board of CLEU held a meeting in Victoria, I think it was — their last meeting was about a week to 10 days ago — and they made a recommendation, which I have accepted, that they should continue and return, as it were, to the study of commercial fraud — white-collar bilking of people in the Province of B.C. That is continuing. There are some other matters in the CLEU report but I'm staying right within the four corners of this bill. I will be glad to say them at some other time.
In answer to the Hon. Member for South Peace River (Mr. Phillips), governments have to be careful today. I agree. For an example, we have the Hon. Minister of Finance in Ottawa (Hon. Mr. Turner); and I say this seriously: what he does in a budget can affect the value of equities in companies on which the Canadian Development Corp. may be picking up the shares. That's the kind of responsibility that's laid upon government in a kind of a difficult age. As the people become the shareholder, many interests are affected. I think the people should become the shareholder.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: No, the people were never the shareholder of Westcoast, Pacific Pete or B.C. Tel; these were largely foreign-owned concerns. We are returning an equity in some of those concerns to the people in this province. But it requires that we are careful not to manipulate any markets — of course it does — and not release insider information. If there's going to be an acquisition of shares in anything, that has to be kept very confidential, and we have to act just as a private company would in acquiring another company. You know, the regular rules should apply to government just as they apply to those companies, and they should apply very fairly. In answer to the Hon. Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams), while this bill just deals with penalty, there is a requirement — I think it's section 111 of the present Securities Act — that the director who has inside information that's either going to enhance or depress the price of the shares of the company has a positive duty to disclose that to people interested; and breach of that duty is subject to sanctions under the Securities Act.
Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.
Bill 20, Securities Amendment Act, 1975, read a second time and referred to Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Second reading of Bill 46, Mr. Speaker.
POLICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1975
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Our main Act with respect to police services in the Province of B.C., of course, came in during 1974. This Act is merely to make minor amendments to effectuate the operation of the existing legislation. For example, there's a minor amendment in the area of citizen complaint, because we do now have a code where if somebody feels they have been abused by police action — or police officers themselves can launch a grievance, as it were — that grievance would be ventilated at open hearings. We just wanted to make it clear that that procedure applies to complaints even against the commission or the commissioner.
We have also some time ago published our code of police internal discipline. We have abstracted from the labour relations area the things that should not be there. This code has met with approval not only prior to its being made law but subsequently, because I have had no complaints of police services throughout the province, whether they are municipal or RCMP. I appreciate that because our police commission, under Dr. John Hogarth, has, if nothing else, moved in terms of consultation. He's taken a long time with, say, the police code.
Because he has consulted deeply, he has won consensus of agreement as he has gone along not only with the police services but also with the civil liberties union. It is very important in the kind of times in which we live that we have good police services and they are accepted and understood by the community.
So, for this little housekeeping bill I would now make the motion of second reading.
MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): Speaking to this bill, I agree somewhat with the comments of the Attorney-General that apparently this bill has met with a favourable reception by members of the police service throughout the Province of British Columbia.
One of the points that often occurs to me in bills like this which really become amendments to existing legislation that has been passed through the House, either at a prior session or some years ago.... I wonder if the Attorney-General, in closing debate, would indicate to the House what procedure his
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department follows to make sure that the parties who would be most interested and affected by the legislation, or the proposed amendments, receive copies of those amendments prior to the debate on second reading in the House. Is there any particular route march that your department follows in this respect?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: We use leaks. Leaks are the best way to get it around. (Laughter.)
MR. SMITH: I'm not suggesting that leaks do not occur, Mr. Attorney-General. I am suggesting that after the bill has been introduced to the House, particularly a bill of this nature which is an amendment to an existing Act, it seems to me that it would be fair to the public at large, and particularly to the people who are most vitally involved and concerned, if some procedure were to be set up where those people involved and concerned would be guaranteed receipt of the amendments proposed. Too often, not only with this bill but with others, I have found that the people most intimately affected really knew very little about the fact that amendments had been proposed, particularly if they are sometimes minor in nature and the press does not report them widely. They know nothing about it until the bill is so far advanced that it's practically a matter of complete approval. I do believe that in bills of this nature and others which come before the House — perhaps outside of your department, but we can't deal with that in this particular amendment to your Act — there should be a provision set up within government to make sure that the people most intimately involved will receive copies of the bill.
Unfortunately, on too many occasions — and this may be because of work; I'm not suggesting that anybody does it purposely — we go to the office of the Sergeant-at-Arms to obtain substantial numbers of copies — sometimes not substantial numbers; sometimes just a few copies — of the amendments proposed or new legislation proposed in its entirety, and we find that the bills are not available in any great number for distribution.
So I would hope that the Attorney-General, who is chief law enforcement officer of the province, keeps this in mind not only for his own bills but also others of like nature which come before this House.
MR. SPEAKER: May I point out before we go on, Hon. Member, that bills are printed by the House, not by the government, on order to the Queen's Printer. If you need more copies, make application to the Speaker's office, and we'll see what we can do.
MR. SMITH: If I might speak to that for a moment,, Mr. Speaker, I realize that, but, as you know, the pressure is on the Queen's Printer at the time the House is in session. If there's some reason that your office has not been able to foresee the demand, then we back up, perhaps, for 30, 60 or 75 days.
MR. SPEAKER: Well, we'd better get on. Would you send it to me in a letter so I can deal with it?
MR. P.C. ROLSTON (Dewdney): Just as a backbencher I rise to say that I support this amendment which I think is very crucial. I know this reflects very competent work by the police commission and their staff. Also in consultation even out in my area.... I know that in discussing this and in fact in working quite regularly with the two officers in charge — the one in Mission and the one in Maple Ridge — there are some really, I think, excellent intentions in this.
If I can just digress for a second, Mr. Speaker, this is a very difficult time in history to be a policeman or policewoman. I think the police sincerely...and here — I guess in my experience I am talking about the RCMP in my riding - there is that fine line of just how far you go in.... You don't want your actions as a police person to be in contradiction to the kind of example or response you expect to get, whether it's from a young person, some person or some group maybe that many people in the community find are delinquent and are causing security problems.
I'm delighted to see these amendments, the disciplinary authority. This authority, of course, is protecting the public, but also, Mr. Speaker, I remind you that the police really haven't had much protection. This, I think, now sets a complaint procedure. It helps protect both the policeman and the policewoman as well as the public.
I just want to go on record in emphasizing that this is a very difficult time in history — I bet an awful lot more so than a decade ago — to be a law enforcement officer but also to be an example, to try to elicit a positive response. Every MLA, I'm sure, goes out with real feelings to the people who are trying to carry out this.
I know that at times there are young constables who maybe with their enthusiasm have made the occasional indiscretion. That is, as we say, a cross to carry by the officer in charge. I am very impressed with the kind of leadership and with the kind of counselling that we are now seeing from senior staff in the RCMP, which, of course, our police college will also try to develop in a greater way — this whole administrative ability and counselling ability of the senior staff.
I want to say the obvious, that I think this House really commends this legislation, but also, I feel, has a real responsibility, in a time where we're seeing polarizations on all kind of issues, to go out there and support the increasingly better work of our police.
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MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. Attorney-General closes the debate.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the words about consultation. Our consultants are basically our B.C. Police Commission — Dr. John Hogarth, Rev. Robert Burrows and Geoff Mortimer, the last addition to the police commission. I want to pay them a compliment. They consult with the union of chiefs, the B.C. Federation of Police Officers, the RCMP and, as I say, the Civil Liberties Association usually represented by Jack Bryan.
Taking up what was said just briefly by the Member for Dewdney (Mr. Rolston), it is a very difficult time. I want to pay tribute right now to what happened last weekend at the Pacific Centre, — which was a difficult situation — first to my Deputy, Dave Vickers, who lost his weekend, John Hogarth, the Vancouver police commission at the local level, and the Vancouver police in preventing what could have been an ugly incident which would have exacerbated events this year.
Finally, in concluding that, let me say that the answer was that they went to the leaders of the Indian organizations — Bill Wilson, Deme Rae and through their offices some understanding was gained of how the matter could be peacefully resolved. So I've paid compliments, especially to the last two, for the assistance they gave.
I move second reading.
Bill 46, Police Amendment Act, 1975, read a second time and referred to Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, second reading of Bill 48.
AMENDMENT ACT, 1975
HON. MR, MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, these amendments to the Mortgage Brokers Act basically provide for the appeal to the Corporate and Financial Services Commission, which I think I referred to before.
Secondly, they also provide that the people who are in the real estate business and who engage in mortgage transactions which fall within the meaning of this Act are deemed to be licensed. So if they are trading in mortgages and there is some suggestion from somebody that they are breaching the Act in terms of fair play, then they can be investigated as would a registered broker, and are thereby subject to the Act to that extent. Otherwise the amendments are of a minor nature.
I move second reading.
Bill 48, Mortgage Brokers Amendment Act, 1975, read a second time and referred to the Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting of the House after today.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, second reading of Bill 10.
FAIR SALES PRACTICES
AMENDMENT ACT, 1975
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HON. P.F. YOUNG (Minister of Consumer Services): Mr. Speaker, in speaking to the second reading of this amendment Act, I would like to point out that the legislation has been on the books now for two years. Such legislation is new in Canada. In that two years we, as a province, and I'm sure other jurisdictions throughout the country, have gained from the experience we have received under this particular piece of legislation.
It was quite effective in stopping, for the most part, the despicable pyramid schemes that were very prevalent in the province to this time. However, unfortunately the people involved in such schemes have found a few ways to get around the Act, and this is to plug up some of the loopholes that they managed to create. I feel that there was a creation on their part and it certainly wasn't intended.
We are also asking the House to change the title of the legislation to more clearly reflect the essence of the legislation, which is to deal with pyramid schemes.
In addition, there has been some confusion in the public mind between the title of this Act, the Fair Sales Practices Act, and the Trade Practices Act, so by changing the name we would clear up this confusion in the public mind.
One of the loopholes that the ingenious pyramiders discovered, found or created was to create affiliated companies and spin off part of the investment that an individual might make in a pyramid scheme into an associate company for "warehousing purposes" or for "training purposes" or something other than the purported case of an investment in a pyramid scheme. This amendment will go toward eliminating that loophole: the affiliates and the associated companies will also be liable, under the legislation, as well as the parent company. The parent company can no longer use this as a shell.
In the original Act, although the implication was there that a consumer could take action, it was not spelled out. This is going to be spelled out in the legislation. It gives the consumer the right to seek redress in the courts.
We have found also another device that the pyramiders used in order to escape the section that required a participant to sell 10 times the amount of his investment before he was able to recruit further participants. We found they were using a technique whereby they blitzed; they aided the participant to blitz a sale on one weekend. In other words, they would be able to inveigle the person into investing $25 and, with the assistance of other people, they would immediately blitz an area on a weekend and in that time would sell $250 worth of merchandise. By this device the participant was able to go out and become a distributor again. So that was defeating the purpose and the intent of the legislation. Now we have put in a time limit on this that will eliminate this problem, in our view.
That is essentially what is in the legislation, Mr. Speaker, and I move second reading.
MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): We appreciate very much the clarification to the original legislation that we find in this bill and that the Minister has outlined for us in the introduction of second reading, I believe that we are all aware of some of the practices that have taken place under pyramid selling, and I can't resist saying that if the people who promoted pyramid selling had exercised as much energy in a more legitimate fashion they would have been legally honest today and not facing the problems they are, and would have been very successful. When one examines the ingenious methods that they use to literally con very responsible people into falling for their systems, one has to be impressed — not with the fact that very responsible people fell for the system but that they virtually hypnotize people through seduction with words. I am sure the Minister is aware, as many of us are, of responsible people such as teachers, people who have been in business before, going to these meetings and falling under this hypnotic process that had been perfected to the finest line and finding themselves giving up well-paying and very responsible careers and taking part in a system which virtually ripped off people financially, emotionally and morally.
Our party agrees with the Minister that the change of name has been an excellent move. There has been a lot of confusion. I think that by adopting the name Pyramid Distributors Act, this will also draw the public's attention to the whole system that is involved. It is quite complicated when you first hear about it. I think the public are frequently confused as to what is going on and did not appreciate that there was some coverage in the Fair Sales Practices Act for them and that the areas where they weren't covered weren't reflected in that Act. I offer encouragement to the Minister in this area.
I think, as far as detailed discussion goes, Mr. Speaker, that this can take place in a clause-by-clause debate. We just offer our support to the Minister for bringing in this particular Act.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, this party also strongly supports the Minister's action in trying to close various loopholes. In the greater Victoria area, many consumers in recent years have been subjected to all the evils of the pyramid sales system, We can't support strongly enough any measures that will control this situation.
Hopefully, by making control very stringent and, if not eliminating it, reducing it to a minimum, the particular amendment which I think is of most value is the time factor which the Minister has placed at the end. We will talk about it in committee reading. But the fact that it isn't just a question of cramming a whole sales pitch into a weekend on one area but having it at least over a period of time to show some consistency in sales rather than some frantic energetic effort over a limited period of time.... For that and many other reasons, which the Minister has explained very clearly, I might say, and which we appreciate, we will give this bill our strongest support.
MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. Minister closes the debate.
HON. MS. YOUNG: Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the previous speakers. The Member for North Okanagan (Mrs. Jordan) couldn't have put it better when she said that if these people put their ingenuity to work in legal and constructive ways, they would probably be billionaires today. I don't know what kind of minds it takes for them to spend all their time and energy trying to wheel and deal the law, but they do it. She is perfectly right in that regard.
In the matter of what the Hon. Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) said, one other point I would like to bring out is this blitzing business. The supplier or the pyramid distributor had a cute habit of assigning personnel to the participant to help him sell all this merchandise very, very rapidly and, of course, giving him all sorts of expectations and then sucking him in to a second and a much larger investment. That is what was going on. As you so rightly suggest, putting that one-year limit in there precludes that possibility. In other words, somebody is going to have 363 days to cool off.
I move second reading, Mr. Speaker.
Bill 10, Fair Sales Practices Amendment Act, 1975, read a second time and referred to Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
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HON. E. HALL (Provincial Secretary): Mr. Speaker, second reading of Bill 71, Community Care Facilities Licensing Amendment Act, 1975, which will be followed by the second reading of Bill 72, Medical Services Amendment Act, 1975.
COMMUNITY CARE FACILITIES
LICENSING AMENDMENT ACT, 1975
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, Bill 71, I think, will help us a great deal in separating the two areas of community care facilities. Heretofore we have always had a dichotomy that has been produced as a result of the different ways that must be used in handling children's and senior citizen's facilities and, of course, the residents thereof. In the past, by virtue of the fact that we have had regulations and legislation that referred to both of the groups and a board that dealt with both of the groups, oftentimes there were areas where one or the other of the groups suffered to some extent by virtue of the way you had to treat them both. Some were caught in the middle. So, really, what the first part of the Community Care Facilities Licensing Amendment Act, 1975, does is to separate the two areas, providing us with an opportunity to create two boards — one board for the children and one board for the adult facilities.
Mr. Speaker, as was the case, to each board three persons will be appointed by my Ministry" three persons by the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Levi); and two persons by the Minister of Education (Hon. Mrs. Dailly). These are the three areas of government that are most involved in community care facilities, and, of course, each will develop its own regulations which will be more compatible with the areas of their own specific concern. In other words, the regulations government children's facilities won't necessarily be those regulations that govern adult care facilities.
There are other areas in this bill where there have been some changes made. Incidentally, a good portion of the bill, from sections 3 to 5, really just complement section 2 in that it creates the changes that are necessary in order to see to it that the Act is complementary.
[Mr. G.H. Anderson in the chair.]
There is another area we have been quite concerned about, and you'll find that area later on in the Act. This is the question where some community care facilities tend to indicate very strongly that one way you can get in would be giving a major donation, or some sort of a donation to the facility. We don't think that is justifiable. Therefore the section dealing with that aspect in this amendment will make it unlawful for any community care licensing facility to require as a condition of admission that one makes a donation to that facility. I feel that this is just purely the way to go properly, and I think that is long overdue.
The last part of the bill deals with another rather anomalous situation — that some of the facilities tend to be very restrictive in their whole attitude towards potential residents. For instance, a facility may say that you may come and live in this residence but you may not smoke. I'm not suggesting that people should smoke, but at the same time if a person, say, 80 years old has had a lifelong habit of smoking, it would be, in my view, a rather harsh way of treating that person in suggesting that he would be better off out in the cold as a result of the regulations that the particular community care facility has.
So, Mr. Speaker, what we're suggesting in the latter part of that bill is, as it's outlined in the bill, is proscribing and limiting the conditions of admission that a licensee may require of an applicant for admission to a community care licensing facility, and the restrictions that a licensee may impose on the person cared for in the community care facility.
So we're saying that those very tight restrictions are sometimes quite injurious. This has been found by people who have long experience in the whole area of community care, and they were very strongly recommended because of situations that have occurred in the past where people found themselves on the street, so to speak, because of rather tight little islands that were created as the result of certain people's biases. Sometimes they were biases against a very innocent kind of situation — for instance, even as far as playing solitaire. Now that's pretty inhibiting, Mr. Speaker.
I suggest that the amendments to this Act are in keeping with 1975 and I would therefore move second reading.
MR. R.H. McCLELLAND (Langley): Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the amendments to the Community Care Facilities Licensing Act. Many of them have come after we've talked about them in this House on a number of occasions since 1972.
I'm particularly happy to see the provision in this Act which requires that an applicant for a licence under this Act will be tested not only for his financial condition and his qualifications but also for his or her personality and temperament, I think that's something that's been missing over the years. We've seen in many instances people get licences to run these types of facilities who are totally unqualified from a mental and psychological point of view to be in that kind of business. Prior to now we have had no way of knowing or testing or requiring that those people do meet these kinds of qualifications. It's high time that we had some kind of method by which we can decide.
I hope that when the Minister is setting up the two
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boards he will give some concern, as I have mentioned in the House before, to making sure that there is as much local input to the licensing of these facilities as possible. While the two boards, I am sure, will do a better job than one board could have done in this regard, you still need that local input — the input from the people on the health teams and the human resources teams in the community who might sometimes have some background information which isn't available to the people in Victoria. I think it's very important that we put the licensing onto the local level as much as possible.
I hope, too, that the boards will set up a better system of inspecting these facilities than is in effect now. I know that the public health inspectors have a tough job on their hands at the moment. There is a lot of work they must do in addition to the inspection of community care facilities. Nevertheless, the inspections in some communities seem to take on an air of routine so that the people come to expect the inspectors and are therefore able to prepare for them on a basis which is not proper or correct. So I hope that those inspections will be upgraded to a large degree. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I have heard of occasions where the inspectors have phoned before they came, which allowed the operators, if they were operating any kind of a poor facility, to upgrade for that day so they would look good when the inspector came.
Another area, Mr. Speaker, that I think should be looked at in this whole licensing procedure is that we should make sure that the people are financially capable of keeping that operation going once they have received licences. I find that this becomes a problem in many instances when a facility changes hands and perhaps get a re-mortgage with a low down-payment for the purchase of the facility, a re-mortgage with very high monthly payments, to keep that facility going. I've noticed on several occasions where facilities have changed hands that after three or four months the people simply are not able to keep up those mortgages. Therefore the services have to fall; so the patients or the people who are in those community facilities suffer because of that. A higher degree of enthusiasm must be pursued in making sure that whoever is taking over a community care facility licensed by the provincial government is able to financially withstand the mortgage payments on that facility and isn't going to find himself or herself in trouble later on and find that they have to cut back on services in order to make the payments.
I welcome, too, the proposal — I don't know how widespread it was; perhaps the Minister could enlighten us — that we don't see any facility operators blackmailing their patients with extra payments or extra considerations in order to get into that facility. I hope the Minister would show some concern as well, Mr. Speaker, for the mention he made about the controls on admission at the provincial level. There may be, in fact, a case where a community facility on an autonomous basis and on a democratic vote or a consensus of the people who are in that facility might like to impose some kind of conditions. The Minister used "no smoking." Perhaps every patient in that community facility might like to say: "We don't want smoking in this facility." So signs are put up and when people come to apply for admission, the operator might say: "Look, everybody in this facility has said that we don't want any smoking in here. So if you want to come in, we'd like you to abide by that." Now if that's not approved because of provincial regulations, then that can no longer happen. It might be on a local, democratic basis that that kind of regulation was imposed.
At the same time, there might be in many community facilities, perhaps in my area, a requirement for some kind of religious study or, at least, appearance at religious gatherings by a democratic consensus of the people with in the facility. Now if we rule against that at the provincial level, then we are doing away with some of the autonomy of the community facility. I am not against this section, Mr. Speaker. But I think it holds some dangers out. It holds some possibilities that local autonomy again and the autonomy and democratic right of the people who are in the facilities may be eroded somewhat if we aren't very careful in the kind of regulations we impose at the provincial level. But other than those few comments, these changes in the Act are very welcome by the official opposition.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, this kind of legislation is particularly welcome in the greater Victoria area because of the high percentage of elderly citizens who depend greatly on the availability of rest homes and similar community care facilities. Therefore any measure the Minister takes to try and enhance and improve the overall supervision of such facilities, I think, is very welcome. I would agree that there seems to be a lot of sense in separating the supervising function of such facilities for children as compared to facilities for the senior citizens. I personally am more experienced in dealing with the senior citizen in these facilities.
If I had to voice any reservation on these amendments, it would just simply be to say that I sincerely hope that the eight persons appointed to these boards will not fall into the well-intentioned trap, perhaps, of trying to make this Act and these amendments function right down to the letter of the law. This is not an appeal for slipshod supervision or, as the Member for Langley (Mr. McClelland) said: "inadequate inspection." I'm not suggesting that for a moment. I think inspection is very important, and
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supervision and enthusiasm by the eight people who will be on these two boards is to be encouraged. But it's been my experience that there can be a tendency to fail to see the wood for the trees by ensuring that every regulation is obeyed right down to the letter of the law, and some elderly citizen falls the victim, in effect, of a substantial amount of bureaucracy and red tape.
I've just had an experience with one constituent in Oak Bay, whose son and daughter-in-law have just had an endless amount of negotiation and discussion and exchange of letters and goodness knows what over a relatively simple situation where technically the building was licensed for 10 people, as stated in the Act. There were 11 people in the building and one moved out. The 11th person was occupying a basement suite, which technically was not approved within the licence to that facility. I don't want to make a long story out of this because it's rather trivial, but it shows to me....
Certainly if anybody in this House wanted to talk to the son and daughter-in-law, who are entirely happy with the location of their mother in this suite, and the old lady was entirely happy.... But you wouldn't believe the bureaucracy that's been involved in the last several weeks, because there was a real threat that she would have to be moved, even though she was perfectly happy. To take a specific example, she was at or below ground level as far as escape in case of fire and so on was concerned. She was in a much safer situation than she would be if she was two floors up in the house and had to get down the stairs.
So, in setting up these boards, I can well imagine the Minister's good intention and I certainly support it. I would just say that this can be sometimes a problem, that the people take the job too conscientiously, perhaps, and start forgetting that we're dealing with human beings and that some of these regulations and amendments are drawn up in good faith but are required to be interpreted with some reasonable flexibility. This recent case that I have referred to really.... I thought to myself: my goodness, if this happens with any kind of frequency, not only have we got too many bureaucrats spending too much time splitting hairs but we have elderly human beings being harassed and their relatives put to some difficulty, which really is quite unnecessary.
This case that I'm quoting might be an exception to the rule; I rather hope it is. But it's not the first one that's come to my attention in the last several years. I just think that when we're dealing with something as important as the actual residential surroundings of elderly citizens, we should remember, as the Minister himself has said, that they may have long habits of many years, or they may have certain likes or dislikes. Surely the least we can do is try to cater to their preferences, likes and dislikes in their later years. Where we have perhaps a minimal deviation from the regulations, I hope that the people on these boards will not literally throw the book at the residents.
The other point in mentioning these amendments stems from the findings we had with the standing committee of the Legislature which studied this subject two years ago. That relates again to the real danger that in these community facilities where owners or potential owners want to create such a facility, the mere technicality of the situation is overstressed: there have to be so many square feet of windows at a certain height from the ground, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Once again I would like to just mention, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister, that if in setting up the board we could again just get the well-meaning message across that there is a shortage of these facilities, that every reasonable encouragement should be given to people who are willing to enter into the operating of such facilities and that we shouldn't again get hung up on very stringent building codes and splitting the letter of the law in relation to regulations to the number of square feet of space, position and distance and size of windows, et cetera, et cetera. We got the impression on the standing committee hearings that this could be a problem.
It may be that as the Minister continues to review this whole bill from year to year, these boards he's now set up under these amendments could perhaps take a look at whether or not there's too much attention to physical detail and not enough attention to the really important human elements that go to make up a home for these people rather than just an institution.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Hon. Minister closes the debate.
HON. MR. COCKE: I'm pleased that the official opposition and the opposition Members are in favour of this bill. I do think that it meets many of the needs that have been demonstrated over the past few years.
Setting up the two boards, incidentally, means that we're setting up the two provincial boards, but they'll be complementary community boards. We amended the Act last year to permit the local.... So locally there will be complementary boards so that the community input, which the Member for Langley (Mr. McClelland) asked for, should be available.
Really and truly, the senior board will be more of a policy-setting court-of-last-resort type of situation. Hopefully, most of the province can be dealt with locally. Naturally, some of the inspections that are required — health inspections, and so on, particularly in some areas — will be outside the boards' sphere of influence. Naturally, the facilities have to meet the requirements of the Health Act, as with any other
[ Page 2298 ]
public place. But there should be community input.
The Member for Langley discussed the applicant test; that is, the humanistic kind of thing. I think that is really an excellent change from what's happened heretofore. We've been far too mechanical around that area. Also, you'll notice that the corporations will have to designate somebody so that that somebody can be looked at — not as in the past where it was sort of meet the facility standards and the criteria for staffing, and you are away to the races. That won't be the case in the future.
It's going to be up to those community review boards to be careful not to become biased in one way or biased in another direction. In other words, they should really truly reflect the needs of the people they are serving.
I agree with the Member when he talks about re-mortgaging of private facilities. I would say probably most of the community care facilities are non-profit now. Certainly it's getting in that direction anyway. But there are many facilities still in the private sector and will be for years and years to come, particularly when you think in terms of rest homes and so on. I do know that that is a problem because, after all, the new guy buys and he puts on a new mortgage at a higher interest rate. Somehow or other he has to pay that off and it's reflected in the per diem costs to the patients or, in many instances, to the government where we're picking up the tab. It is a situation that, hopefully, can be dealt with in a sort of diplomatic way because it's very difficult to say to the private sector: "You can't do it". You can't say that. Hopefully, we can persuade people to more closely meet the needs than they do under those circumstances. I agree with the Member that it is a mitigating force.
As far as the question of the donations, I certainly agree that that has to be dealt with. We are worried about the other controls, as the Member says, where a group of people democratically take a vote. I presume that that can happen within the institution, and it might be that they are going to vote to say that nobody smokes in this room, that room or maybe most rooms. But I would hope that a group of people wouldn't have rules so tight that other people would be totally discomforted. I think, particularly in terms of some of.... Again, the communities will be watching this; there isn't going to be that kind of hard-line dealing with these people. We want to encourage community care facilities as best we can. That's one of the reasons we are separating the two areas by virtue of the fact that we think we can better reflect the needs of the community.
The Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) discussed the question of the number of elderly citizens in this area. He also recognizes that there are many areas in the Capital Regional District where there are a great number of children who are being served by the community care facilities, so persons attracted to the board, I don't think, are going to be all that tied up in trying to red tape themselves or the junior boards to death. I really think what they want to do, or will want to do, particularly when you consider the fact that they're going to be representing three departments with all of those needs that will be naturally in the forefront... it seems to me that those people will want to obviate as much of the red tape, and not be careless in that regard or callous in that regard.
Naturally we have to have rules, and people have to stay within reasonable distance of those rules. The rules will come later — under the regulations.
One of the reasons we want these two boards is so that policy material can be fed into the hoppers so that the regulations can more closely reflect the needs of the two separate groups.
As far as encouraging new facilities, we think that this is one of the ways we can do that. We think this is one of the ways we can talk to the two separate areas and say: "Okay, what is it you want? What can we do to help you?" You have got to have two boards to do it.
So, Mr. Speaker, with that and the endorsation, I would therefore move second reading of Bill 71.
Bill 71, Community Care Facilities Licensing Amendment Act, 1975, read a second time and referred to Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
HON. MR. HALL: Second reading of Bill 72, Mr. Speaker.
[ Page 2299 ]
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, Bill 72 contains nothing new. That's a nice little rhyme to start the debate on this far-reaching bill. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. COCKE: Yes, you would think so. I noticed that an Act that was a duplicate caught a little bit of flak the last few days.
Mr. Speaker, in Bill 72 what we have done is actually repeal the Medical Grant Act, and we've included it in the Medical Services Act. It was rather ridiculous to have two Acts, one being a companion, so we have just taken the sections our of the Medical Grant Act, not changed them in any way, shape or form, and included them in the Medical Services Act. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, with that I would move second reading.
Bill 72, Medical Services Amendment Act, 1975, read a second time and referred to Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
HON. MR. HALL: Second reading of Bill 45, Mr. Speaker.
HON. D.D. STUPICH (Minister of Agriculture): Mr. Speaker, I suppose with the combination of the getting-back-to-the-land movement and with the rapidly increasing cost of sugar, there has been a tremendous increase in beekeeping in the province. In 1973 the number of registered apiaries was 1,784. In 1974 it had increased up to 2,802. In the last six months there has been 550 new registrations, so the total right now is 3,352. This doesn't include the number of out-yards that a registered apiarist might have. One man alone in the province has 220 such registered out-yards.
So, with this tremendous increase in the number of beekeepers in the province and additional interest on the part of the department, particularly to control the spread of disease, the legislation has been rewritten. It was formerly called the Apiaries Act; it is now called the Bee Act. I don't know just exactly why we changed that. Nevertheless, the emphasis in the rewritten legislation is on the control of disease.
Formerly, the legislation controlled particularly bees themselves — maybe I had better not get too far into that now. In any case, in the new legislation the emphasis is not only on the bees but also the equipment so that a person even storing equipment and not having any bees is still required to register that they have such equipment because the equipment can carry some of the diseases for years, long after the bees themselves have been using it.
So, it is to provide for more effective control so that we will be able to protect the producers, protect the bee industry in the province and, hopefully, to increase even further the growth of our honey production in B.C.
I move second reading.
MRS. JORDAN: I'm glad the Minister stopped short of suggesting anything more for the bees. They've been to the point now of licensing birds, and now it looks like we might be unionizing bees. We don't want too much interruption in the bird-and-bee business in this province.
We appreciate that there has been some concern on the part of apiarists for some legislation. We also appreciate very much the need for certain controls in order to ensure a disease-free or, as much as possible, a disease-free industry.
But again we must express our concern that what should be a good Act, and, in essence, is really an upgrading of the former Act, still has a strong NDP mark with it.
I must say, Mr. Speaker, that the legislative counsel working for this government have a very easy rule to follow when they are drafting legislation. The recipe for their legislation is quite simple: you place wider discretion in the cabinet, you make room for more party hacks on appointed boards, you diminish or delete appeal procedures, you fix authority in the statutes to go far beyond the stated intent in the bill, and you centralize the maximum amount of authority in Victoria. You take spending powers outside the control of the Legislature, and you thread the statute through with compulsory features. It is a quick mix, Mr. Speaker, which I don't feel is necessary. It tends to make one very wary of what should otherwise be a very good Act.
In discussing this Act with the various apiarists and other Members, I find they feel a little concern that it recognizes virtually every bee in the province. I guess that they are a little concerned, as we are a little concerned, that the bill may be going far beyond the stated intent of the Minister, which is disease control. There is a great danger that every bee is being brought into the honey pot of the government. The danger here is that it looks sweet but by the time it comes into full force, it may create a very sticky situation for the beekeepers in this province.
MRS. JORDAN: You are right on, Mr. Minister of Finance. The apiarists are a little concerned that they may get stung by an Act which they really want to welcome and which we want to welcome. I thank you for the encouragement of that line.
HON. D. BARRETT (Premier): That really wasn't any encouragement at all.
MRS. JORDAN: Without going into all the details, one of our objections would have to be in the Act that it, as I mentioned before, vests tremendous powers in the Minister, again without any reference, really, to cabinet. There have been instances in the past where Ministers have viewed problems from far too narrow a point of view, and discussion with their cabinet colleagues and consent of their cabinet colleagues might well have proved in the better interests of the public and those whom the Minister was trying to help. This authority to virtually touch every section of the beekeeping business, whether it is a hobby or a professional business in the province, is here.
It makes one a little concerned when one sees the
[ Page 2300 ]
powers that are vested in the inspectors. I recognize that the inspectors must have authority to act, but should the inspectors act and should an apiarist wish to appeal their decision or the destruction of their hives or their beekeeping equipment falsely, the appeal procedure is completely controlled by the Minister. He has the authority to appoint the head of the apiary culture branch, which will be a new branch, as I understand it, and another person appointed by the Minister from among the elected officials of the British Columbia Honey Producers Association. We certainly agree with that, but it is another person appointed by the Minister. I believe it would be much more in the interests of the apiarists if they, through their membership at large, were even allowed the opportunity to make a recommendation to the Minister and then be formally appointed by the Minister.
It is almost an incestuous circle, Mr. Speaker, and I suggest it is too much power in the hands of the Minister. There should be an opportunity, particularly with the appeal procedure, for there to be an assurance to the apiarists of this province that they are going to get not only a fair hearing and a non-partisan hearing but a knowledgeable hearing. There is the danger, based on previous appointments made by this government, that these will be partisan appointments, with the exception of those appointed from the association. The Minister may have trouble finding a party member in that association. We don't want a partisan beekeeping industry in this province. It is an industry that has been enjoyed by many individuals — heaven knows what their party faith or affiliation, if they have any, is — and it shouldn't enter into this type of an industry.
It concerns us with these tremendous powers in the bill, again with the appeal procedure very limited and the appointment of the appeal board open to such question, that when you combine that with another section of the bill where the Minister has the authority to suggest the size of colonies and the radius in which colonies may operate for pollination purposes, this may extend itself to the Minister in fact having the power and exercising the power to virtually say who can be in the beekeeping business and who can't and to not only allotting pollination areas but also to allotting marketing areas.
It is common knowledge, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you are aware, with the number of honeybees that you have in your area, that the increase in beekeeping is not only in the commercial basis but it's on a hobby basis. Those who are professional apiarists do not fear competition in their business. They don't fear fair competition. They have expressed to me a desire to remain free from the marketing board or marketing controls other than protection from the dumping of honey on our B.C. market or what could be considered unfair marketing practices by those outside the province.
I hope the Minister will make very clear that there is no intention of using the powers in this Act to subtlety or openly force the apiarists in this province into any form of greater organization than they themselves choose by a good majority — a 60 per cent majority — to undertake, and that part of this Act will not have behind its statements the intention of the Minister to set up controlled marketing areas. My understanding is that this is not the wish to those in the business; they, in fact, fear this type of intrusion by the government.
I must say, in speaking to the principle of the bill, which the Minister said is designed to not only control the disease factor, which we do laud, but also to offer protection to the apiarists in British Columbia, that there's no effort on his part in this bill or through any other legislation or through any other order-in-council to offer to them the one assistance that they have asked for: some financial assistance to build chain-link fences to protect their hives. I brought this up under the Minister's estimates and I was not satisfied with his light dismissal of the whole subject by suggesting that the chain-link fences were not necessarily that unsatisfactory. I pose to him that they are the most satisfactory means known to apiarists at this time. The Minister's estimates made no indication of any concentrated effort on the part of the department of financial assistance to the apiarists themselves to establish a better method of protecting their colonies from the intrusion of bears.
We know through the newspaper as well as discussions in various part of the province that the bears in this province, if they are not on the increase, are certainly feeling the effects of the spring, are very active and are indeed posing a severe menace to the beekeepers when they put their colonies into the various crop areas, whether it's alfalfa, in the fruit orchards or wherever they choose to put them for pollination purposes. They are unprotected and a bear can wipe out a whole colony in a very short period of time. There is no insurance for this type of loss, and I would suggest that the cost to the Crown would be very minimal in entering into such a programme as we see in Alberta or Manitoba, both of which offer some help to the apiarists in terms of protecting their livelihood — their whole capital investment — from intrusion by the bears.
Again, I would suggest that we would like to see — we will debate this further when we are discussing the bill section by section — broader controls on the Minister from making perhaps unintentional mistakes. We would like to see broader representation in the appointment of the board of appeal. Also we would like to see some form of provision in the bill for compensation for producers who are offended unjustly by inspectors or any of the Minister's representatives. It's not beyond the realm of reason
[ Page 2301 ]
to suspect that a new inspector or perhaps improperly trained inspector might make a mistake in his decision to have a colony destroyed or hives destroyed or equipment destroyed unnecessarily. While this might not happen very often, we feel there should be protection for the apiarists from any misjudgment on the part of government representatives.
I also would ask the Minister to clarify what liberties he intends to take in appointing inspectors. If I understand correctly, the inspectors are appointed. Most should be apiarists, but in fact they don't have to be. I would hope that there would be protection within the Act that anyone appointed as an inspector would have a very strong knowledge of the industry itself.
I also would like to express some concern about how large this department is going to be. Let me put it this way: I'd like to express some interest. There are a great number of duties entailed in this Act which for one reason or another have not been enforced before, even though they were in the former Act, and there are new duties contained within this Act. I'd like the Minister, if he would be so kind, to outline very clearly who is going to carry out these duties, how many inspectors he intends to establish in the province and on what basis. Also, does he intend to enlarge the staff within the Victoria buildings?
The Minister might be aware — it not, I wish to draw it to his attention — that there has been some concern that while it has been necessary to require a permit for interprovincial trucking of colonies and bees, this regulation has not been enforced very strictly, Rather than hiring inspectors who might be working on a piecemeal basis, I would suggest to the Minister that he consider training people in the weigh scales in such a manner that they would be capable of carrying out an inspection at the weigh scale. It is common knowledge that people have been trucking bees illegally around the province and that there have been bees coming in from outside the province. They have been reporting at the weigh scales but there's been no effort to enforce the regulations and to have them registered.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Hon. Minister closes the debate.
HON. MR. STUPICH: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member for North Okanagan (Mrs. Jordan) had some reasonable questions about the legislation; she also had some political strawmen that she set up and invited me to blow down.
As far as the board, the political board, is concerned, there's no suggestion in this legislation that there would be a political board or a non-political board of any kind set up to keep a constant vigil on the beekeeping industry. The only mention of a board at all is an appeal board, and this is a new provision in the legislation that would, for the first time, provide an avenue of appeal for the beekeepers. I think this is, if you like, improving the legislation rather than increasing the authority that this authoritative government is trying to take onto itself.
As far as the area of the yards is concerned, there have been instances of beekeepers in the province who have tried to take control of a much larger area than they are able to supply with bees — to take advantage of this situation and to try to hold it for themselves. What we're hoping with this legislation is that the inspectors will be able to determine whether one is abusing this right, if you like, to control bee territory for his own personal advantage.
The marketing board, Mr. Speaker: it's fairly common knowledge, I think, that this particular administration has not established one marketing board in the two years and eight months it has been in office. All the marketing boards we have were established by previous administrations. And even the previous administration, the immediately preceding administration, to the best of my knowledge, as bad as it was, never imposed a marketing board on anyone, but did establish marketing boards when the producers asked for them. There's certainly no intention, no suggestion, that can possibly be read into this legislation that anybody would be considering establishing a marketing board. It would come under different legislation entirely. There's no suggestion that this government is thinking of imposing marketing boards on anyone.
Estimates? Well, this was discussed; the bear control was discussed in estimates. While the Hon. Member might think we're not going far enough, I did point out that the money allotted for this programme is something like 10 times what it was last year. While this may not be enough — and nothing would be enough — nevertheless I think it is a commendable increase over last year and shows that we are expressing some concern about the need for a better programme.
Compensation for mistakes? Well, Mr. Speaker, I think it would be fairly easy to put a section in saying that a beekeeper would be compensated in the event that his bees or his beekeeping equipment were destroyed in error. I don't know how anyone would ever establish that it was done in error after they had been burned; so it wouldn't mean very much to put that in. But it could be done, I suppose. I just don't feel it's worthwhile putting it in the legislation. It would be so meaningless.
Inspectors must be knowledgeable. I think the words used were "a great degree of knowledge" or something like that. The beemaster certificate is the certificate that we would use as was provided for in the previous legislation. It may be that as time goes
[ Page 2302 ]
on and as the number of diseases increases — as the number of diseases that are recognized increases — perhaps the course and the certificate would have to be more difficult to attain. But it is the only measure we have of the competence of the person involved. I think it's not necessary that it be a beekeeper. To the best of my knowledge, in practice they always are, because those are the people who are knowledgeable, who are working with them. But I don't know that it's necessary to include that in the legislation.
As far as the number of staff is concerned, we did discuss that in estimates. The number of full-time staff members in the department now, as before, is two members. There's no suggestion that we would need any more than that number of full-time people. There will be an increasing number of part-time inspectors and, as the number of beekeepers and the number of hives increases, there will be necessity to have more part-time inspectors. But it's very seasonal, just as is the transportation of bees a seasonal thing. It's not a case of having people trained to watch for this thing on a year-round basis, because the movement of bees happens at times that are easily identified. I think the best way is to have the inspectors available at those times.
As far as the number of staff in Victoria is concerned, there's no one on staff in Victoria now who is specializing in bees, and there's no suggestion that anyone would be.
Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill 45.
MR. PHILLIPS: You'll want to control the birds next.
HON. MR. BARRETT: We're for the bees; you're for the birds.
Bill 45, Bee Act, read a second time and referred to Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Second reading of Bill 65, Mr. Speaker.
FARM PRODUCTS INDUSTRY
IMPROVEMENT AMENDMENT ACT, 1975
HON. MR. STUPICH: Mr. Speaker....
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please, Hon. Members. The Minister of Agriculture has the floor.
HON. MR. STUPICH: Mr. Speaker will recall that one of the three pieces of legislation we introduced in the fall of 1973 — as a way of living up to our promise of helping the agricultural industry, after passing Bill 42, the land preservation Act in the spring session — was the Farm Products Industry Improvement Act. At the time we had no idea just how well this Act would be received in the community — how many agricultural industries would want to take advantage of the provisions — but we provided a maximum total guarantee of $20 million in that legislation in the fall of 1973. This has proven to be adequate for what we have done up to this point, but we are today within $150,000 of having used up the total $20 million guarantee. In the legislation before us, while it has a number of changes that are really housekeeping, essentially the change is to increase the $20 million limit on total guarantees up to $50 million.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Members, we've debated the child care bill under the Minister of Health. Would the Hon. Minister continue?
HON. MR. STUPICH: The other changes in the legislation might better be discussed in committee, and I move second reading of Bill 65.
MRS. JORDAN: Oh, dear, are we trying to force closure again? The Member for Shuswap (Mr. Lewis) is afraid we are going to talk about the poultry processing plant and his vested interest in this business — speaking of birds.
Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the Minister that a good deal of the debate should take place in second reading when we are onto clause-by-clause discussion, but I would wish to make one or two overviews, if I may.
The first is that the Minister stated that they have virtually used up the $20 million that was previously allotted by the legislation....
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Hon. Member for North Okanagan has the floor. Would the other Members please refrain themselves?
MRS. JORDAN: I think the other Members are terribly anxious to know whether the Minister of Finance and Premier (Hon. Mr. Barrett), the upholder of honesty, has signed the document.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: I'll try once again. Hon. Members, will you please keep order while the Hon. Member for North Okanagan makes her speech?
[ Page 2303 ]
MRS. JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Back to before the interruptions — the whole matter of the increase in allotment of funds for the Farm Products Industry Improvement Amendment Act, 1975. The Minister stated that they had used up the previously allotted $20 million, and this is why I would suggest to the Minister that one of the severe criticisms of his administration of this Act must be that to the best of my knowledge there is no comprehensive statement from his department or from himself....
MRS. JORDAN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I might as well as talk to the ceiling. The Minister is running around talking to the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Lauk) and all the other Members on the floor.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Will Members on both sides of the House please be quiet while the Hon. Member for North Okanagan makes her speech? Please observe the rules of decorum.
MRS. JORDAN: There has been $20 million administered by this Minister to assist the development of processing industries in the Province of British Columbia, as they relate to agriculture. But to the best of my knowledge there is no comprehensive statement from this Minister or from his department as to where this money has gone, who the shareholders really are, what equity position the government holds and how much money is invested by the government in terms of insuring of loans and in terms of capital input into the various business they have entered into.
There is also, to my knowledge, no comprehensive report of who the shareholders are in some of these businesses, what integration, vertically or otherwise, there may be through some of these shareholders and directors, or what shares the various directors hold. I bring this to your attention because I believe it's vital, and this party believes it is vital.
First of all, if the government is going to back private loans, and, secondly, if the government itself is going to impose itself as a partner in public business, there must be complete accountability, and this is not forthcoming in this particular bill we are talking about. I would cite as an example the report from this Minister on the B.C. Land Commission. I relate it strictly to this bill because it did put out an annual report but, as an example of an annual report, it must be a complete and utter farce because it has a lot of pretty pictures in it and a few flowery statements but no accounting whatsoever for the land purchased, what was paid, who they were purchased from, or various reasons. In fact, there is a fuller account in Country Life in British Columbia magazine of February, 1975, than there is in the report from the Land Commission.
To my knowledge, there is not even this much of an accounting from the Minister on these $20 million that he has invested or earmarked as security for bank loans. I would again reiterate that we think it is essential that the Minister should file a report before the sitting of the Legislature in order that Members can properly debate the handling of these moneys in order that the public know exactly where these moneys are going, to whom and why.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
There have been veiled suggestions of conflict of interest in the Panco situation. The Minister's own integrity is very much under question because of his conduct in the courts of British Columbia. The interference in a supposedly independent marketing board of this province, and the charges of lying both to the Legislature and to the media on this....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the Hon. Member speak to the vote and not indulge in personalities?
MRS. JORDAN: I'm not indulging in personalities, Mr. Speaker. I am bringing to your attention the importance of an audited and public statement by this Minister on the administration of this bill for the reasons I just mentioned. There are too many clouds floating around both the Minister and the Minister of Finance. If there is no truth to them and the Minister would make a public accounting, a properly certified accounting of these expenditures, he would free himself from any suspicion or concern on the part of the public. I would ask that he make a commitment to the Legislature in amending this Act that such a comprehensive reporting of investments will be brought to the House forthwith and in future brought to the House, certainly within the first two weeks of sitting of every annual spring session.
There is concern, Mr. Speaker, in this bill that some of the powers are still very extensive, but there is also some response on the part of the Minister to the debate and suggestions of the official opposition during the initial introduction of the bill and the amendment that was put forth last year. Again, we will discuss those when we are in clause-by-clause debate.
I would suggest that this might be a good time for the Minister to give the House a full accounting of the interior poultry processing plant. Again, under his estimates, we asked a number of questions which haven't been satisfactorily answered. We pointed out that the Minister is investing a fair amount of money. I assume some of the $20 million that has been expended is for the interior processing plant. Perhaps
[ Page 2304 ]
the Minister would make clear if this is to come out of the additional funds. But there has been no assurance to the public about that plant.
There have been some confused statements from the Minister. He advises us that the operation is not going to balance its books for a minimum of three years. He advises us that in fact the annual production of this plant will equal the amount of poultry currently in storage at this time for which there is a very lagging market. We feel, in asking for the extension of moneys to invest in various plants, that the Minister should file in this House the feasibility study that the department did in order that we may understand what he is predicating this investment on. He vaguely talks about an interior market and building an interior market. We want to know how much interior market he estimates can be built per year during the first three years of operation of the interior poultry processing plant. We want to know how the Minister intends to increase the sales of poultry within the Province of British Columbia, as is necessary in order to utilize the poultry that is currently in storage. We want to know what he bases those estimates of sales upon. Mr. Speaker, if some of this $20 million is to be exceeded in terms of subsidy in light of the commitment originally made by the Minister in the agreement, then the public must know this.
We have seen ICBC, an infant of this government, where the Minister of Finance said not one penny of public money would subsidize that Crown corporation; yet we have seen it running a $36 million deficit in its first year of operation. Now, Mr. Speaker, if the interior processing plant, as one example, is to have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in it initially through shares and through the backing of loans and there is still going to be a capital deficit or an operating deficit, it is the responsibility of this Minister to make clear what he estimates that deficit will be.
The Member for Shuswap (Mr. Lewis) has been cackling away: "Are you against the plan? Are you against the plan?" — which only points out the narrowness of that Member's vision, the narrowness of his ability to appreciate the problems of business. If he's been an unsuccessful chicken operator, then I suggest that's the reason. He doesn't understand business. Mr. Member, through you, Mr. Speaker. If a business is going to operate at a deficit, then those operating it should know when that deficit is likely to be and why. If one is going to establish a business, and perhaps if the Member has failed so miserably in his chicken business, then one should be sure of where their market area is going to be before investing thousands of dollars in a business for which there may be no use for the product.
MRS. JORDAN: It doesn't mean to say that you are against or for, or running around the bush. It's simple business practice, which that Member obviously doesn't understand. If he is a successful chicken operator, and he has hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of assets in his operation, then I suggest that he's trying to hoodwink the people in the Okanagan and the people of this Legislature and, in fact, the people of British Columbia by refusing to acknowledge that even Crown corporations, even businesses that hard-earned public dollars, tax dollars, are invested in should be based on a business basis.
Now don't, Mr. Member, have one standard for yourself and one for the public. Don't attack other Hon. Members for trying to get responsible answers from a Minister who is handling millions, now up to $50 million, of taxpayers' money to invest in private business ventures in this province.
I hope, when the Minister is closing the debate, that he will make clear and will assure this House that he will file the feasibility studies for the interior processing plant and make clear answers to the questions that we must know.
I would just on that point suggest that if the Minister is not satisfied with the study done internally by the department, which is quite an acceptable position to take because they are not business people, then I would urge him to have a feasibility study at the time he is selecting a site for the interior processing plant in order that the public will fully understand why he is selecting that site, on what business basis he's investing the money and what the subsidy is going to be. If he's establishing the plant for a philosophical reason, then it is his right to make that decision. But make clear to the public what that is going to cost. It may even help sell chickens in the interior.
MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. Minister closes the debate.
HON. MR. STUPICH: Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member for North Okanagan (Mrs. Jordan) suggests that the statements from the Minister are confused. I would just like to say, Mr. Speaker, that if the Minister is confused, it is because of the arguments put forward by the Hon. Member for North Okanagan, who, in a discussion of an amendment to the Farm Products Industry Improvement Act, throws in such extraneous material as a discussion of ICBC, a court case that is long since over, and includes a personal attack on the Hon. Member for Shuswap (Mr. Lewis).
If there are clouds — and she did say there are clouds in this legislation — then I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the clouds are in her own mind rather than in the legislation or in the presentation of it.
As far as the IOK plant is concerned, we discussed
[ Page 2305 ]
this in estimates. I did undertake, in response to a question from the Hon. Member for Langley (Mr. McClelland), to table certain reports in the House, and I will do so very soon.
With respect to a report, the annual report, I had hoped it would have been ready before this date. It is in the printers and I had hoped it would be ready by the middle of April. We are still waiting for that report. It will include a report on the activity of the finance branch and on the activity, in particular, of everything we have done under the Farm Products Industry Improvement Act.
However, Mr. Speaker, in that it is not as up to date as the discussion of this legislation, when we come to discuss this legislation in committee stage, and when we get to section 5, I will have with me figures that are complete up to date, and I will answer any of the questions that were asked today in general about any of the industries in which we have invested or have guaranteed financing. I will be prepared at that time to answer any of these questions in detail.
HON. MR. STUPICH: Mr. Speaker, I've been asked to file it now, and I'm not sure what to file now. So many things have been said and so much extraneous material has been introduced in the debate; but if questions are put on the order paper, I will answer those. I have answered questions as they come on the order paper. There are still some that are unanswered, but they will be answered just as soon as the information is available.
With respect to "file it now," if the Member will make it perfectly clear as to what she wants filed now, then I will get that material ready, as I have done in response to questions on the order paper, as I have done in response to questions asked during question period, and as I will do when it comes to discussing questions in committee stage of the discussion of this legislation.
The report will be in the annual report. Completely up-to-date information will be available when we get to committee stage. The material on the IOK plant will be filed in the House. I have the first report on the disease thing which I'll file today if I have the opportunity. With that, Mr. Speaker, I now move second reading.
Bill 65, Farm Products Industry Improvement Amendment Act, 1975, read a second time and referred to Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
MRS. JORDAN: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
The Minister, when he was closing the debate, advised that if we would make known what we wanted to know in relation to the $20 million, he would make it available. With your permission, I would like to advise him that we would like to know: the complete listing of the investment of the $20 million; in what companies they are; and what number of shares the government holds in each company....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Hon. Member knows that this is not the time to ask those questions. I would ask the Hon. Member to list them and send a note to the Minister if she expects that type of answer. She can't do it at this stage on a point of order.
MRS. JORDAN: I feel that the Minister knows very well what we want, and it would be a courtesy for him to file an answer.
MR. SPEAKER: I am sure you will make it known to the Hon. Minister.
HON. MR. HALL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to call Bill 19.
PACIFIC NORTH COAST NATIVE CO-OPERATIVE
LOAN AMENDMENT ACT, 1975.
HON. N. LEVI (Minister of Human Resources): The intent of the legislation is to enable us to guarantee a loan to the Pacific North Coast Cannery for their operating expenses. Now that the cannery is operating — it's just gone through a very successful season in the herring season and, in preparation for the salmon season, it is necessary for us to.... We have met with them to discuss their operating needs for the salmon season, and it is important that we are able to assist them by guaranteeing a loan, in this case up to $1.5 million.
The earlier intent of the legislation was that we would also get into the purchasing of a fleet for the cannery — a core fleet — and this we have done to the extent of some 20 boats — 19 gillnetters and a seiner as well as a packet.
HON. MR. LEVI: Yes, it is regulated by Ottawa.
Because of the cost of the licences, what we have been discussing is that we still have some $1.2 million of the $3 million — we have purchased boats to the value of $1.8 million - and we could use this money better by instead of purchasing the actual boats, buying out the indebtedness of some of the Indian fishermen from the companies, and this would make the boats available to the core fleet. So really there are two points here that we want to stress: one is to
[ Page 2306 ]
assist in buying out the indebtedness, and also to guarantee the loans.
HON. MR. LEVI: No, it's only changed in the sense that because of the high cost of purchasing the licences.... You know, at one stage the tonnage for licences was up around $3,000 a ton. It's now down to about $1,800. So we were into fairly expensive outlays in terms of the purchasing of the boats, and we now feel that with the $1.2 million which is left what we really should do is apply that to the indebtedness of individual fishermen, thereby having the boats and also having them out of the indebtedness to the companies and able to fish for the cannery. The money will be much better spent in that sense because we're not going to be able to buy very many boats for $1.2 million — perhaps 2 or 3 more, certainly if we're into the purchasing of seiners.
The other important part is, of course, that we guarantee loans for the operation. I might say that in the herring season, which is being completed now, the total value of the fish taken in was just over $2 million. There was an employment of 180 people — most of them are still employed in wrapping up the operation. All of these people, of course, are native Indian people who normally would have been on welfare, and the total salaries paid just to the shore workers — this does not include the boat operators — was almost $700,000.
That's basically the intent of the Act and, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.
MR. McCLELLAND: Obviously, you support this bill, but I'd like some clarification as well, particularly on this mention about buying out the indebtedness. I don't quite understand it. Perhaps the Minister could clarify a little more.
The one question I had: is there any danger, once we have bought out the indebtedness on these boats, there would be a possibility that, as the boats get older, the licence either gets lowered in rating or lost. Perhaps the Minister could explain to us the licensing procedure. I don't know whether that could happen once the province had guaranteed this indebtedness. Is there a possibility that a licence could in fact be taken away by the federal Fisheries department?
Secondly, will the Indians own these boats outright on their own or will they belong to the corporation?
HON. MR. LEVI: On the second question, first....
MR. SPEAKER: Would the Hon. Minister defer? You otherwise would be winding up the debate.
The Hon. Second Member for Victoria first.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: I would like to suggest that by unanimous consent the Minister answer the question and then come back and terminate the debate later.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wish we would stick to the rules of debate. The Hon. Minister can answer any questions you wish to put without then going into another round of statements and speeches.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I will go on and carry on in the formal manner if that is your wish.
MR. SPEAKER: This is really for committee. It's not my wish; it is the rules. In committee debate you can ask questions.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: On the question of indebtedness, buying the indebtedness rather than purchasing the boat, my memory suggests to me that we put $3 million aside previously for the purchase of Indian boats — boats owned by Indians — which would then be in turn turned over to the co-operative, owned by the co-operative and, in turn, in a manner not described at the time we passed the original legislation, handed back to the people from whom the boats had been purchased. Then they go out and fish, if they ever escape from the intricacies of this great financial manoeuvering.
I gather that now the ownership of the boats will no longer revert to the co-operative because the coo-perative will not be in turn purchasing the boats from the Indian fishermen. What they will do is buy out the indebtedness from the Indian fisherman so that he is therefore freed of his obligations, which otherwise would exist, of fishing for Nelson Bros., for Canada Packers or anyone else. The Minister nods his head. Great. Now we have managed to answer the question which we could have done in some other way.
AN HON. MEMBER: Thank very much.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: I will go on to suggest that this bill certainly is a major improvement over the last one, which was one of those open-ended bills where the Minister could do what he pleased, regardless of any objectives or anything stated in the Legislature. He simply could proceed with unlimited discretion to grant virtually unlimited moneys without any securities or anything else. I think this definitely is an improvement.
However, Mr. Speaker, as a matter of policy and principle we would like to make sure that when you are dealing with financial matters, loans and things of
[ Page 2307 ]
that nature, the legislation spells out as best it can what the financial terms will be. I don't like the words "Loans... shall be secured and repaid by the co-operative in such manner, and subject to such terms and conditions as the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council may from time to time prescribe." I think it would be possible, as we seem to be amending this bill every year, to put it down in writing, and we would agree with that.
When the Minister terminates the debate by speaking a second time, I trust he will give us more details of that very successful season he talked of. This co-operative has been in operation now for some time. Perhaps he would like to indicate to Members financial statements of which we could avail ourselves to become aware of exactly what is meant by "a very successful operation." I don't know whether he can, off the top of his head, tell us whether we are just talking about herring and whether in that limited area, just herring, it is successful but elsewhere it is not. His words could be interpreted that way. Perhaps he will expand and be less restrictive about just herring.
Are we doing all right on the packing of salmon? How about that deal with the Alaska canners, which memory again suggests to me was a major part of this whole operation, whereby this co-operative would pack the excess pack of those Alaska canners in Bristol Bay who didn't have the facilities up there during times of peak runs? How has that worked out? If we are going to talk about $3 million, if we are going to substantially alter the structure, I think a little more comment from the Minister would be in order.
I would like to have him also answer the question about the core fleet. I understand that we have 20 boats. If my arithmetic is correct, it costs $1.8 million to buy 20 boats. Is that right? Then we are handing them right back to the same people from whom they were purchased to go out and fish again. It appears that that is the case. We purchased from the Indian fishermen 20 boats at a cost of $1.8 million....
HON. MR. LEVI: No, that's not the case.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Oh, I see. Well, I'm wrong. These boats then were presumably purchased from elsewhere.
HON. MR. LEVI: Elsewhere and ...
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Other fishermen.
HON. MR. LEVI: ...now they belong to the co-op.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: They now belong to the co-op, and previously they were not engaged in this particular fishery and now owned by Indians. That's good. It would indicate, then, that there's a net increase in the number of boats fishing, and the $1.8 million so far spent has done this and now we are swinging to purchase Indian-owned boats or, at least, to clear indebtedness on Indian-owned boats instead of purchasing boats from those of another racial origin which we have been doing up until now with the $1.8 million. So, perhaps, a word or two from the Minister about the core fleet — what type of boats they will be. I don't know how many will be set up for herring fishery; he said that 19 were gillnetters. I don't know if they are engaged in herring fishery or not....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think that kind of subject matter is much too concentrated for debate on the general principles of the bill. It really properly needs to be raised in....
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, I have a peculiar interest in fishery. Perhaps my detailed questions are too much, Mr. Speaker, and you may well be right. But I hope we do get a few more details from the Minister in terms of what's happening in this co-operative.
MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. Minister closes the debate.
HON. MR. LEVI: When the idea for the co-op was first conceived, the question of the core fleet loomed rather large and there was a $3 million loan made in order to purchase the core fleet. As I said earlier, when we were purchasing....
HON. MR. LEVI: I'm sorry, what?
HON. MR. LEVI: Basically it was hoped to build up the core fleet to about 30 boats because of the cost of the acquisition of the 20 boats — I think there are actually 21, I will have to get my notes to the committee to be more specific. Those boats are owned by the co-op. They are part of the co-op assets. Then came the question of further purchasing or assisting fishermen in their indebtedness. This was the subject of the discussion we had with their board in November when I was in Prince Rupert and we agreed to go that way because it seemed to make more sense in terms of the money that we had.
The other thing is in terms of the herring. Of course, the co-op people were able to get to the herring grounds a lot earlier than the rest of the
[ Page 2308 ]
fishermen because there was a strike going on and they were able to get out as they were not covered by the strike so obviously they were able to get there first with the most, and they did extremely well.
You made reference earlier to the Alaska cannery which is, presumably, the Peter Pan Co. you were referring to. They are not involved in any of the canning operations. The canning operations are done by a Canadian company. The extent of the operation last August when they got in enabled them to build up an inventory of just over $200,000 of fish. They actually canned some 1,100 cases last year which is part of the inventory which is now being disposed of.
On the other more detailed questions, Mr. Member, I can certainly get into them in committee.
Mr. Speaker, I move that the....
MR. SPEAKER: Bill be read a second time?
HON. MR. LEVI: Yes, that the bill be read a second time.
Bill 19, Pacific North Coast Native Co-operative Loan Amendment Act, 1975, read a second time and referred to Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
HON. MR. HALL: Mr. Speaker, Bill 75.
STATUS OF MEN AND WOMEN AMENDMENT ACT
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this bill is a measure for sex equality before the law. It is a measure that will eliminate many of the insults to women that are found in our statutes such that I am not even going to repeat them to Members of the House, although I do advise Hon. Members they can be found in the explanatory notes.
It is not really a bill with substantive measures, and I would be the last to suggest that it is a movement towards the equality of women in their status except in a legal sense. The main movements, of course, have to take place in society, in education, in a change of our habits, in a basic attitudinal change for which I would hope society is becoming increasingly ready.
There are some substantive changes. Women can work underground under this bill without the consent of the inspector of mines, without the consent of the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Nimsick). Women now have achieved the right to be called out for fire service under the Forestry Act as a result of this bill. So, as the individual sections can speak for themselves, I will say no more, and hopefully look for that support that I confidently expect from the Second Member for Vancouver-Burrard (Ms. Brown).
I move second reading.
MRS. D. WEBSTER (Vancouver South): Mr. Speaker, I hope that if this bill diffuses all discrimination between men and women, it will also consider, for instance, public restrooms. When women go into most public restrooms they have to pay a dime. I don't think that men have to pay a dime; at least, I've never heard of it. I would like that sort of discrimination also removed.
AN HON. MEMBER: Right on!
MRS. WEBSTER: I think it's about time that we gave more consideration to women in these areas. For instance, it's usually the woman who is responsible for the children during the daytime. If she takes her children with her shopping or to a restaurant to have lunch and then comes into the washroom because the children have to go, she finds that there is a little lock on the door and the only thing that will open that lock is 10 cents. I've known of some places where there is also an attendant sitting there to see that no two people use the same toilet facilities one right after the other on the same dime — they have to put in a second dime. I think that's total discrimination against women. I would like to see in hotels, in restaurants and in all public places that these facilities become free.
MRS. JORDAN: Mr. Chairman, after listening to the Member for Burrard I can just see myself going into the washroom or standing outside the washroom flipping a coin to go into "person" or "person" — I won't know which person I'm going in with.
MS. R. BROWN (Vancouver-Burrard): A point of order. It was the Member for Vancouver South.
MRS. JORDAN: Pardon me.
MR. SPEAKER: Yes, and I'm the Speaker, not the Chairman. Let's get it right for Hansard.
MRS. JORDAN: I'm going to speak on the problem; I don't want the Hon. Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Hall) to enhance my identity crisis. I must lament the passage of the words "wife" and "husband." I question seriously the benefits to be derived by society from a wife no longer being able to consider herself a wife, nor to be referred to in any document she may choose to be a "wife," or a husband to refer to himself as a husband and have the right in a legal document to refer to himself as a husband.
If I understand the bill correctly, if one is listing
[ Page 2309 ]
oneself as a wife, she now will be a "spouse," and if one intends to refer to himself as a "husband" in a legal document, it now must be "spouse." Mr. Speaker, I'm sure that even you will feel somewhat strange at a cocktail party or in a business meeting when you introduce someone to "my spouse, Mrs. Dowding." It seems to me that it's not casting any dispersions on a husband or a wife to be introduced by their partner as "my husband or wife."
Some Hon. Members might suggest that it's a miracle — I'm quite proud to be the wife of my husband, and I assume that he is very proud to be my husband. Frankly, we don't want to lose our identity as that. We don't feel that we detract from each other's personalities, independence or individual identity. I would hope that where it is so wished we may still refer to the time-honoured terms — perhaps the hallowed terms — of "wife" and "husband."
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak in favour of the principle of this bill, and also speak against the principle of those who don't have a dime discriminated against regardless of whether they be male or female. It's an iniquitous provision that the Hon. Member has pointed out. I don't think, however, that her experience in this matter is perhaps the same as mine; mine certainly isn't the same as hers. (Laughter.)
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: I won't say I wait with enthusiasm.
MR. SPEAKER: I hope the Hon. Member can wait. It's not in this bill.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: I'll send my dime over to the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Hall).
Mr. Speaker, we note one or two things in this which essentially come up under the clause-by-clause. Apparently it will no longer be an offence or libel, indeed, when "words spoken and published which impute unchastity or adultery to any woman...." Well, that's not to be changed to "any person;" it's simply being struck out.
We notice that the Taxation Act, which I have in front of me, which allows for exemption from taxation for any institution for the reformation of fallen women will be altered; again, not changed to the form "fallen people."
It appears to be a useful bill to wipe out areas of discrimination based on sex. We would hope, however, that it would only be the first, minor step because the government has a very, very long way to go in fully implementing the equality of the sexes in B.C.
This Act appears to wipe out a number of either trivial or ignored, or simple points overtaken by time rather than really going to the root cause of many of our problems dealing with the discrimination against females in our society. So we hope that it is just the first of a number of bills because this one really doesn't get to the root of the problem.
MS. R. BROWN: I too would like to rise in support of this bill and to agree with the Second Member for Victoria that I hope it really is just the beginning of great things to come.
In response to the statement from the Member for North Okanagan (Mrs. Jordan) about the death of the word "wife" and the death of the word "husband," certainly if all that the bill did was to erase the word "wife" or erase the word "husband," everyone would certainly agree with her. In fact, what the bill tries to do is to wipe out discrimination against wives. By substituting the word "spouse," it means that whether it is the husband who dies first or it is the wife who dies first — for example, in the Pension Act — the coverage will remain the same. There is no attempt, as far as I can see in the bill, to prevent anyone from being introduced at a cocktail party as so-and-so's wife or so-and-so's husband. Really, what we are trying to say — or certainly what I see the bill trying to say — is that one should not be treated differently because one is a widow rather than a widower. In that respect, I think it is a very good amendment.
I am also very pleased to see that we have been taken out of the category of infants and lunatics. There are a lot of people, Mr. Attorney-General, who would suggest that women who marry are lunatics and certainly of unsound mind. (Laughter.) Nonetheless, I am glad to see that you do not agree with that and that you have eliminated that section.
What the bill does, of course, is to deal with a lot of the little irritations that married women certainly, and women generally, have had to live under for a long time. As you quite rightly said, it is not going to bring an end to all discrimination, but what it does is remove the roadblocks and make it possible for us to go on and work for our own changes in attitude and for our own equality in other areas. I would like to suggest that this is the kind of way in which we like to see International Women's Year being celebrated, rather than with "Why not?" buttons and with radio ads asking us "Why not?" - why we not this and why we not that.
Certainly I hope that this is the beginning of many more changes that are to come. You seem to have dealt with more of the bills that have been on the statutes for a number of years, that are very, very old, that are not really that useful to us, such as the Curfew Act and those others, but, in particular, ones
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that have to do with mining. The Minister says he can't imagine any women being so silly as to want to work underground. I am glad that we no longer need his permission to do that. Maybe, when women start working underground, we will find that there will be a serious attempt to deal with things like silicosis and asbestosis and so many of those diseases that have been killing the men for so long who work underground and which really haven't been dealt with seriously by society at large. Hopefully, that is one area in which women, by coming involved, will hasten the kind of concern that we should have with that.
I am very pleased with this piece of legislation. It has taken us a long time to get here and a lot of hard work. I am glad that we finally achieved this first step and I support the bill very strongly. Thanks very much.
MR. McCLELLAND: Just a brief comment in support of the bill as well. I certainly support as well the Member for Vancouver South's (Mrs. Webster) comments on the pay toilets, because it certainly is discrimination. Perhaps the Attorney-General should have added a clause to that bill to change that famous old song to "Person, Can You Spare a Dime?"
I think there is a danger in this kind of legislation, Mr. Speaker, of developing an attitude within government of tokenism. This is a good bill and it does some things that are necessary. But there have been some other moves that have been made that see women appointed to various studies and various departments of government and nothing ever coming out at the other end. I am just afraid that the government may be making these kinds of appointments in order that it doesn't have to do anything, so it can shove the problem off to the side and give the appearance of doing something rather than actually getting down to the business of eliminating some of the discrimination and making available the possibility of job opportunities on an equal basis for women. After prodding for a couple of years, I am happy to see that the Attorney-General has finally seen the light and has a couple of women working in liquor stores.
MR. McCLELLAND: Well, a few, not very many.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: More than two.
MR. McCLELLAND: You have got to travel around quite a lot before you ever find a woman in a liquor store, but there are a few now finally....
MR. McCLELLAND: Working, Mr. Member, working. (Laughter.) That is really a small step. I think there are many other areas in which the government could advance itself as a champion of equal opportunity for women. I hope that the government doesn't get bogged down in this kind of tokenism by showing us this kind of bill and saying that they are doing something when really what's happening is that the problem is just being shunted to one side in order that the government doesn't have to act. That's the concern I have, but I certainly support this bill.
MR. WALLACE: Well, Mr. Speaker, just in case the title of the party that I represent should leave the impression that we're not interested in equality for women, I would just like to make the very general statement that this party supports the Minister's efforts in this bill. Maybe it is just another short step in a long road, but nevertheless it does make a lot of sense to spell out in legislation the intent and the purpose of treating men and women equally before the law.
I would be very disappointed if the lady Member's — the member for Vancouver-Burrard (Ms. Brown) — comment about silicosis and so on means that we're only going to get progress and research and action just because women might go underground. She might be right in this, that the added involvement of women in the mines will expedite some of the work that's long overdue in recognizing the problems that can exist in the mines, particularly in relation to the diseases she mentioned and specifically, while not possibly underground... but the mining of asbestos is a danger which is still not fully recognized in the western world. Because the disease occurs years after the exposure, there's a feeling of it being not truly related to the symptoms that the person develops.
So I hope that we're not still so slow in our thinking we will only start to think of disease and occupational disease because women are becoming involved in certain occupations in which they formerly were not involved. It would be sad to think that that's the only kind of stimulus that will result in more detailed and more enlightened investigation of some of these health problems. But with that comment, which distresses me, if that's as far along the road as we are, I would say that the general principle of this bill is sound, and I hope the Minister will continue to bring in legislation of this nature — perhaps not just in International Women's Year, but every year.
HON. L.T. NIMSICK (Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources): Mr. Speaker, I agree with many parts of this bill and I'm not going to say, in regard to mining.... While I've got no objection to women having the privilege of going down in the mines, I still say that I cannot see women going
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underground. I don't think that they'd be foolish enough to go to the face of a mine and have to wield the huge machines that men have to lift.
HON. MR. NIMSICK: They're not doing it. Yes, driving the mules and taking advantage of them.... And that's the reason we did pass laws preventing women from going underground — to protect them. That's why the first laws were brought in. I've got nothing against them....
HON. MR. NIMSICK: But when you go underground and you talk about silicosis and asbestosis and those things — the men have worked hard to correct these situations through the Workers' Compensation Act and other methods. Listen, men were the first to smoke. Today, women... it didn't stop the women from smoking. They're worse than men today.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MR. NIMSICK: They're increasing. Don't think that I'm against these things. Don't think that this is the end-all and the be-all of these things, because I don't think that this change is that good.
You talk about women working in the mines! In some places they probably have to work in the mines. But I wouldn't appreciate my wife having to go down in a mine, knowing what the mine is and knowing what you've got to put up with down there.
HON. MR. NIMSICK: That's one thing; you've probably never been in a mine. Nevertheless, I still think that there's no place in the mine, really, down underground — except maybe in certain instances — where women can compete. They're not physically built the same as men. And thank God for that! (Laughter.)
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I would have thought that the Minister of Mines would have told us how he knew. (Laughter.)
Very briefly, Mr. Speaker, I think this is one small step for persons and one giant step for personkind. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Langley (Mr. McClelland) is quite right: the real areas of equality are in such areas as employment opportunity. I don't agree with my good friend here that women should have the privilege of working underground. They should have a right to the employment opportunity if they're suited to it.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: I don't enter into the question of which is the smarter of the two sexes.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Hon. Attorney-General has the last word.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: That is the last word.
We have made a major change, really, though in employment opportunities for women in the police force. Even in the RCMP — I think we now have 17 women officers in the RCMP in British Columbia. In the municipal forces it's going on. I could go on and on, but I ask that the question be now put.
Bill 75, Status of Men and Women Amendment Act, read a second time and referred to the Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
Hon. Mrs. Dailly moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5:46 p.m.