1976 Legislative Session: 1st Session, 31st Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
THURSDAY, JUNE 10, 1976
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Members of the Legislative Assembly Superannuation Amendment Act, 1976 (Bill
72) Hon. Mrs. McCarthy
Introduction and first reading — 2513
Strata Titles Amendment Act, 1976 (Bill 73) Hon. Mrs. McCarthy
Introduction and first reading — 2513
Gas export prices. Hon. Mr. Bennett — 2513
Mr. King — 2514
Mr. Gibson — 2514
Mr. Wallace — 2514
Mr. King — 2514
Education minister's trip to England. Mr. Lea — 2515
Educational services for communicatively impaired children. Mr. Gibson — 2516
Habitat cost-sharing arrangement. Mr. Wallace 2517
Mount Stephen property. Mr. Barber — 2517
Lie detector tests for ICBC claimants.
Hon. Mr. McGeer answers — 2518
Motor-vehicle inspection notices. Hon. Mr. McGeer answers — 2518
Delays in ICBC refunds. Hon. Mr. McGeer answers — 2518
Appointment of Brian Palmer. Hon. Mrs. McCarthy answers — 2518
Government borrowing. Hon. Mr. Wolfe answers — 2518
New Opportunities volunteer group. Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm answers — 2519
Attorney-General Statutes Amendment Act, 1976 (Bill 75) . Hon. Mr. Gardom
Introduction and first reading — 2519
Law enforcement in Kitimat. Hon. Mr. Gardom — 2519
Mr. King — 2520
Mr. Gibson — 2520
Mr. Wallace — 2520
Motor-vehicle Act Amendment Act, 1976 (Bill 32) Second reading.
Hon. Mr. Gardom moves adjournment — 2522
Freedom of Information Act (Bill 33) Second reading
Division on adjournment — 2522
Change of Name Act Amendment Act, 1976 (Bill 34) Second reading
Division on adjournment — 2523
BikeWays Development Act (Bill 36) Second reading
Mr. Barber — 2523
Mr. Speaker rules out of order — 2524
Division on Mr. Speaker's ruling — 2525
Land Registry Amendment Act, 1976 (Bill 37)
Mr. Barber moves adjournment — 2525
Public Officials and Employees Disclosure Act Amendment Act, 1976 (Bill 38) .
Mr. Barber moves adjournment — 2525
Community of Property Act (Bill 39) Second reading
Ms. Brown — 2525
THURSDAY, JUNE 10, 1976
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. G.H. KERSTER (Coquitlam): Mr. Speaker, in the gallery today are three very good friends, Mr. Brian McLoughlin, a prominent Vancouver barrister, Mr. Rick Hockey, a director of the Coquitlam Social Credit constituency association, and Mr. Ken Hutchison, another hard-working Social Crediter. I ask the House to join me in making them welcome today.
HON. W.N. VANDER ZALM (Minister of Human Resources): Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to the House a very dear friend from the constituency of Coquitlam, Mrs. Ina Watson, Miss Jean MacKenzie, visiting here from Kincardine-on-Fife, Scotland, my daughter Lucia, my nephew from Holland, Joss Van Haage, and my flower, my wife Lillian.
MR. W. DAVIDSON (Delta): Mr. Speaker, in the gallery this afternoon are a group of students from Dellview Junior Secondary School in Delta and their teacher, Mr. Bellamy. I would ask the House to make them welcome.
Introduction of bills.
MEMBERS OF THE
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY SUPERANNUATION
AMENDMENT ACT, 1976
Hon. Mrs. McCarthy presents a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Members of the Legislative Assembly Superannuation
Amendment Act, 1976.
Bill 72 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
AMENDMENT ACT, 1976
Hon. Mr. Curtis presents a message from the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Strata Titles Amendment Act, 1976.
Bill 73 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on
orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House
HON. G.M. McCARTHY (Provincial Secretary): I would like to make a statement to the House regarding House business. I'd like to advise all members of the House, Mr. Speaker, that the House will not be sitting tomorrow, Friday, in order to accommodate a meeting of the NDP convention. I believe it is taking place in Penticton.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, I understand the member for Burrard (Ms. Brown) hasn't been invited (laughter), but let me tell her that there is an NDP convention tomorrow in Penticton and all members of the House recognize that the NDP is very anxious to be there.
I would also like to say, Mr. Speaker, that I hope that all sides and all parties in the House will recognize that, with the very heavy legislative programme that we have before us, there is a responsibility on each and every one of us to move the House business. In addressing ourselves to the House business we hope that all of us can move it along and do the people's business.
The few hours that we will miss tomorrow we hope we can make up in good cooperation next week. I'm sure that the members of the NDP will feel that that would be the best way to accommodate the House and the best service to the citizens of the province.
MR. W.S. KING (Leader of the Opposition): I want to extend the thanks of the official opposition to the government for their benevolent gesture today. However, I want to indicate that in light of the fact that the indication of the government's cooperation only came at this hour of the day preceding our convention, many of us were unable to make any advance plans under those circumstances. We're quite prepared to do the people's business now and in the future. That is our first obligation; we recognize that without question, and I trust that the government will always provide adequate time for deliberation to the opposition so the people's business can be conducted carefully, with the proper scrutiny from he official opposition and, indeed, all opposition members in the House.
GAS EXPORT PRICES
HON. W.R. BENNETT (Premier): After that gracious response, I'd like to make a statement to the House.
I'd like to advise the House that today the Hon. Alastair Gillespie will be announcing the new export prices for gas at the border. These prices affect British Columbia. As you know, our province, as part of our policy of full value for energy, made representations to the National Energy Board on the export price of gas. We had asked for a price approximately $2 per mcf at the border, and today the minister has announced, as a result of our submission before the
[ Page 2514 ]
National Energy Board, that the price, which is presently $1.60 per mcf at the border, will rise to $1.80 on September 10, 1976, and to $1.94 on January 1, 1977. These prices will reflect the two-stage increase that the government has allowed for the domestic price.
I can only say that we're pleased that the arguments put forward by the province were listened to so carefully by the National Energy Board and we welcome the higher prices. I want to assure the House that the full increase in price passes through to the Province of British Columbia at this time, and none of the increase passes through to the producer. Those prices will only change as recommendations come from the B.C. energy board to reflect higher exploration costs or to reflect greater exploration.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Vancouver East (Mr. Macdonald), had indicated on previous occasions that our party opposes and finds reprehensible the government's solicitation to increase the price of gas to the world price. We believe, and I want to reiterate and re-emphasize, that this inevitably results in higher cost to the consumers of British Columbia to the advantage and benefit alone of the foreign corporations who are doing the oil development in this province. I find it absolutely amazing, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier takes any solace...
MR. KING: ...in announcing that...
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor.
MR. KING: ...yet other cost burdens are going to be heaped on the long-suffering consumers and citizens of this province. If the Premier of this province expects any gracious responses in light of the punitive measures that are constantly being taken against the citizens of this province, then he's looking in the wrong direction if he's viewing the official opposition.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver–Capilano): To the extent that this announcement refers to export gas, certainly I would welcome this increase in price, and I hope and trust that the government will continue to get the best price for our gas at all times. I would assume that in a good-neighbour fashion the Premier, during his talks with Governor Evans, had advised him that this would be coming along, so it won't be any surprise to our customers in Washington. The Premier noted that all of the increases will adhere to the province at the moment and none be passed through to the producers.
I think he will find that he should quickly seek recommendations from the B.C. Energy Commission on this, because at the moment the Alberta net-back, in terms of both old and new gas, is already 50 per cent higher than in British Columbia. If we want to encourage the kind of exploration that we need in this province, we are going to have to increase the netback, so I hope that he will seek those recommendations quickly and implement them quickly. In the meantime, I welcome this announcement.
HON. MR. BENNETT: I'm glad someone understood over there.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, I completely support the concept of getting fair value for our resources which we export, whatever these resources be — gas, oil, minerals or any other resource. The Premier, when he spoke on television introducing the Clarkson Gordon report, made it plain that too much revenue was coming from people and not enough from resources. Although the budget contradicted what he said on that occasion, I keep hoping that with this kind of evidence we will derive more income and revenue from resources and that perhaps the serious effects on the recent budget can be minimized.
I would be very interested to ask the Premier if any provision was made in drawing up the budget for this kind of increase which he anticipated, and presumably this brings in so many more millions of dollars of revenue as of September 10, 1976. I would be very interested to know if that sum of money was included and calculated as revenue for the current fiscal year. If not, it means there is a little cushion there which would again, in my view, provide for some of the money that might create employment this summer.
So I think it's very encouraging that we are getting the best value we can for our resources which we export and that we have federal cooperation in this regard. But right here on our own doorstep, with unemployment as it is, I would ask again, if this is an additional source of revenue that was not included in the budget, that the Premier reconsider the urgency of a supplementary budget.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, if I may, just for the purposes of correction, I would offer my apologies to the Premier. I misunderstood the gist of his comments. I thought he was referring to petroleum products rather than natural gas, and I want to completely withdraw the comments that I made and join with the other members of the House in welcoming the news. I apologize for the
[ Page 2515 ]
HON. MR. BENNETT: With all graciousness, I accept your apology. (Laughter.)
MR. KING: A distinct change. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: With everyone in such a good mood, Hon. Members....
MR. WALLACE: It won't last!
EDUCATION MINISTER'S TRIP TO ENGLAND
MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. Yesterday when I asked the minister about his recent trip to Europe, he told the House that (1) he did not take vacation time on the trip, and (2) he would be more than happy to table correspondence showing the necessity for the trip.
He has now said outside the House that (1) he did take vacation time in Italy, and (2) he has no correspondence to table.
Question (1): can the minister now tell the House the truth about these two specific issues?
HON. P.L. McGEER (Minister of Education): Mr. Speaker, I'd be delighted to table the correspondence between the insurance corporation and myself. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: The minister tables correspondence.
HON. MR. McGEER: With that correspondence, Mr. Speaker, is a complete itinerary of my time away from the province of British Columbia, which included not only visits by myself and three senior members of the corporation to our reinsurers in London, but two scientific conferences which I attended as a representative of Canada and as a guest of the Italian government, the University of Cagliari, Italy, and the Italian Brain Research Organization. It involved extremely hard work on my part, Mr. Speaker — I would like to think that the Government of Canada would be able to sponsor some of the international scientific conferences — but it certainly didn't involve any vacation.
MR. LEA: On a supplemental....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. member for Prince Rupert has the floor.
MR. LEA: I would assume that being a minister of the Crown in the province of British Columbia is a full-time job and that it was not part of that job to be in Italy.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame!
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. member for Prince Rupert has the floor.
MR. LEA: Under dictionary terms, the minister did take a two-day vacation in Italy. Yesterday when I asked, he said that the only vacation he took was to visit B.C. House and the Agent-General, Mr. Strachan.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the ministers listen to their questions?
MR. LEA: I wonder, Mr. Speaker, whether the minister could table in the House the expenses for that trip — the total cost and a breakdown of the expenses, along with the itinerary.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, a list of the expenses has already been tabled — that is, to how they were divided among the various agencies. Naturally as a guest of the Italian Brain Research Organization and the Italian government, the expenses of two trips from London, one to Cagliari and the other to Milan, were paid for by the Italian government.
Mr. Speaker, I might add that I may from time to time attend scientific congresses at the invitation of people who want to know what's going on in Canadian science in Canada. But never will I visit the Great Wall of China at public expense, nor will I play rugby in Japan at public expense.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. LEA: If I may, another supplemental during applause period? That took up more time than the question.
I wonder if the minister would also table with this House the correspondence between the officers of ICBC and himself requesting that he make the trip to London.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, I have already done that. (Laughter.)
AN HON. MEMBER: That'll fix you, Graham.
[ Page 2516 ]
MR. LEA: I don't think so.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I wonder, if the Minister of Education
was the subject of brain research in Italy, if he could notify the
House of one abnormality the researchers found. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: That is not the type of a statement that's permissible.
MR. SPEAKER: One moment, please.
MR. SPEAKER: That is not an admissible question, hon. minister, and there's no need for you to reply to it.
MR. SPEAKER: Okay. Well, the hon. minister can do so if desired.
HON. MR. McGEER: I certainly wouldn't invite them to watch the antics
of the opposition, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter.)
EDUCATIONAL SERVICES FOR
COMMUNICATIVELY IMPAIRED CHILDREN
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, another question to the Minister of Education. In a recent statement regarding Jericho Hill School, the minister stated that acting upon the best professional advice, and in accordance with all available studies and needs of children, the department is preparing a major thrust towards providing suitable educational services for every communicatively impaired child in British Columbia in the school district in which his parents reside.
My question is: in view of the fact that many of the parents are yet to be convinced that this change is a in the best interest of their children, can the minister inform the House as to which professionals and which studies he is referring, and will he table with the House the documents from which his officials took advice in making their decisions?
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, I'd be delighted to table the documents. I think I should tell the member that the leading person in establishing s the ongoing policy with regard to decentralization of the education of the communicatively impaired is Mr. John Walsh of the Department of Education, himself a former superintendent of Jericho School, and more knowledgeable on this subject than anyone else in British Columbia.
We do have, in addition to this, two thorough reports on this matter, both of which I will be pleased o table in the House, hopefully later on today, but as soon as I can be supplied them by the Department of Education.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that for those parents who wish to continue the education of their children at Jericho Hill School we've made it clear from the very beginning that that school would remain open and that those people would continue to be permitted to educate their children in that environment. The fact remains, Mr. Speaker, that the majority of the deaf children in British Columbia are now being educated in their own communities, and the results from that type of education, in the opinion of all the experts that we've been able to marshal to bear on this problem, are better. Now what we cannot guarantee is that jobs will continue to exist for all of the staff members who are now at Jericho, in view of the declining population of that school. I think the member must bear that in mind.
MR. GIBSON: On a supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that the minister quoted Mr. Walsh as a former superintendent of the school, but he will realize as well that the most recent superintendent has just resigned from that position on the basis of differing with the government policy.
I would want to nail down something he just said. Will he guarantee that any parent who wishes their child to continue in the Jericho Hill School setting will be permitted to do so as a matter of right?
HON. MR. McGEER: I don't think as a matter of right. No, Mr. Speaker. But as a matter of preference — we've already made that indication.
MR. GIBSON: A further supplementary. Mr. Speaker, I'm afraid I don't understand this distinction between a matter of right and a matter of preference. Will a child who should, in the view of the parent, continue in Jericho Hill school be permitted to do so, assuming that the child remains eligible for the school in terms of being communicatively impaired and of the proper age and requiring the education and so on, as a matter of right?
HON. MR. McGEER: The answer is no, Mr. Speaker, not as a matter of right.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, I have a final supplementary, if I may, Mr. Speaker. Have the school districts received lists of students from Jericho that they will be expected to absorb next year?
HON. MR. McGEER: I'll have to take that question as notice, Mr. Speaker.
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HABITAT COST-SHARING ARRANGEMENT
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to welcome back the Minister of Municipal Affairs from Habitat and ask him what cost-sharing arrangements there were with the provincial government and the city of Vancouver in meeting the costs of Habitat.
HON. H.A. CURTIS (Minister of Municipal Affairs): Mr. Speaker, rather than take considerable time in question period to give a detailed answer, I would be happy at a later date to provide members of this House with a breakdown. The provincial involvement or costs did involve a number of departments: the Attorney-General's department, certainly the Department of Municipal Affairs, the Provincial Secretary's department and so on. I have a ball-park figure, and I would be happy to doublecheck that and provide it to the member who asked the question and other members later.
MR. WALLACE: Supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. Could I ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs whether, at a time when the Attorney-General informed us that the federal government was providing liquor at cost to visiting delegates, there were any specific instructions which suggested that Canadian delegates should not avail themselves of these bargain-basement prices?
HON. MR. CURTIS: Mr. Speaker, as a consumer of alcoholic beverages, I simply transported myself to a nearby government liquor outlet and — not at government expense but at personal expense — brought in those provisions I felt were necessary for the conference. I'm not aware of any arrangements that were made other than the fact that duty-free liquor was available, and I heard in a very roundabout way that it did not apply to Canadian residents who were attending the conference. This may be, in fact, a pattern which is appropriate for international conferences around the world. Inasmuch as this is the first I've attended, I have no further information.
MR. WALLACE: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Could I confirm the fact then that there was no specific instruction from the Attorney-General of this province to any Canadian attending as a delegate that they could not purchase these supplies at the cost price?
HON. MR. CURTIS: I'm not aware, Mr. Speaker, of any such instruction. The question, perhaps, should be directed more properly to the Attorney-General — and I realize that he's not in his seat at the moment. But I have no knowledge of any specific instructions, written or oral, with respect to the situation.
MOUNT STEPHEN PROPERTY
MR. C. BARBER (Victoria): Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
In September of 1974, the city of Victoria sold to the Department of Housing, for the sum of $190,000, 4.36 acres of land known as the Mount Stephen property. Can the minister confirm that he wrote a letter on May 18 to the Mount Stephen Housing cooperative withdrawing the use of this land for cooperative housing development?
HON. MR. CURTIS: Mr. Speaker, to the hon. member, the question suggests that the property has been withdrawn irrevocably and that is not the case. I'll take the balance of the question as notice.
MR. BARBER: Mr. Speaker, I have the letter here. It is dated May 18....
MR. BARBER: In order to ask the next: can the minister confirm that the Department of Housing now intends to sell the land, which the city conveyed to the department for the express purpose of a low-cost cooperative housing development, to private developers?
HON. MR. CURTIS: Mr. Speaker, we expect that the site, which is an important one in the city of Victoria, will be made available for affordable housing. I indicated earlier that I would take the balance of the question as notice, and I think that is appropriate with respect to the supplementary as well.
MR. BARBER: Mr. Speaker, the minister has taken part of the question as notice and has agreed to answer another part.
MR. SPEAKER: He's taken that as notice also.
AN HON. MEMBER: No, no.
MR. BARBER: Well, will you let me ask it, and perhaps the minister might...? Can the minister confirm that the land purchased from the city for $190,000, with the understanding that it be used for low-cost cooperative housing development, will now be sold to private interests for $600,000?
HON. MR. CURTIS: Mr. Speaker, I take the question as notice.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
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HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, I took three questions as notice yesterday, and I would like to respond to them now.
LIE DETECTOR TESTS
FOR ICBC CLAIMANTS
One came from the member for Vancouver East (Mr. Macdonald) with regard to lie-detector tests at ICBC. In mid-1975, Mr. Speaker, approximately a year ago, at a time when the minister was part of government, a lie-detector test was undertaken in Surrey by an adjuster without authority who asked a claimant to take this test. As a result of this situation, which took place under the NDP a year ago, a policy on lie-detector tests was established, and the present policy is that claimants are not requested to take a lie-detector test, and this is not the basis upon which a claim is issued.
Now I'll just file a memorandum, without reading it in detail, with the House. But that was a policy of the former government and not our government.
MOTOR-VEHICLE INSPECTION NOTICES
Mr. Speaker, with regard to the vehicle inspection notice the member for Cowichan-Malahat (Mrs. Wallace) asked about yesterday, the corporation....
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Where is she?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. MR. McGEER: I can't answer that question. (Laughter.)
But, Mr. Speaker, the insurance corporation does issue at weekly intervals, as a service to the motor-vehicle inspection division, notices to have their vehicles reinspected.
DELAYS IN ICBC REFUNDS
Now in regard to the question asked by the member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) with regard to refunds.
MR. WALLACE: I'm here! (Laughter.)
HON. MR. McGEER: The corporation is behind in refunds, and, Mr. Member, it's because the corporation has been behind in processing the instalment plan so that they are not sure in some cases whether the person who is claiming the refund is on the instalment plan or not. They say that they will be up to date by the end of June. I apologize for the delay.
This is the principal explanation. There may be some other reasons why they are behind, but if the member knows of specific cases, they can be processed manually immediately, and I would be prepared personally to take those on and see that the refunds are given.
MR. WALLACE: Will you pay interest?
HON. MR. McGEER: We'll make no promise to pay interest, Mr. Member, because again it creates just another administrative nightmare....
MR. WALLACE: It's bad for the customer.
HON. MR. McGEER: I know it's bad for the customer, and I quite agree, and I'm told that the situation will be cleared up by the end of June, which is only two weeks away.
MR. SPEAKER: That terminates the question period, hon. members.
APPOINTMENT OF MR. BRIAN PALMER
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to answer a question that was given in the House yesterday, and it was a question regarding order-in-council 1531, Mr. Brian Palmer, administrative assistant to the Speaker's office.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Palmer was appointed upon a recommendation of your office. The position is provided for in vote 1. Mr. Speaker is responsible for the assignment of Mr. Palmer's duties, which I am informed will include duties in the North Peace constituency and in the city of Victoria.
HON. E.M. WOLFE (Minister of Finance): Mr. Speaker, I would also like to respond to a question asked two days ago by the member for Cowichan-Malahat (Mrs. Wallace) .
The question was: "Inasmuch as the government has been granted borrowing authority up to an amount of $400 million, and inasmuch as the House has been made aware that the government has borrowed $181 million, can the minister tell me whether or not any further borrowings have been made to date?"
Mr. Speaker, the answer is no, there have not been any further borrowings to date by the provincial government.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, with leave I would like to reply to an allegation which was made several times yesterday regarding a programme sponsored by a company in Vancouver, called "The New Opportunities Volunteer Group."
[ Page 2519 ]
NEW OPPORTUNITIES VOLUNTEER GROUP
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: The allegations were, Mr. Speaker — and I think perhaps in fairness they should be explained now — that in fact this particular group was exploiting the handicapped, and these allegations were made several times. The information has been provided me by my deputy, upon the advice of the VRB — the Vancouver Resource Board — and their manager.
This company has operated in Canada in Toronto and Edmonton and now in Vancouver for the last 10 years. Its advent to Vancouver has been within the past month. The operator of the Vancouver company is Mr. Herb Matthews, who comes from Decatur, Georgia.
The purpose of the company is to sell Philips light bulbs, which are the long-burning variety and carry a guarantee. The employees are handicapped persons and are certified as such by their own doctor. The VRB has made no referrals to the group but has contacted the firm on June 9, 1976. The sales are by telephone and the pay is $3 per hour. The remuneration is not on a commission basis.
As far as can be ascertained, an employee who was recently let go.... Since the employee has been let go the company has received inquiries from outside sources regarding its operation. The VRB and its members feel that the company is giving an opportunity for work for handicapped persons and that their labour practices, with rest periods, et cetera, are quite in order.
HON. G.B. GARDOM (Attorney-General): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a message from the Lieutenant-Governor.
MR. SPEAKER: One moment, please!
AN HON. MEMBER: It's a message bill.
MR. E.O. BARNES (Vancouver Centre): I would like to reply.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. member, you'll have to ask leave if....
MR. SPEAKER: Shall leave be granted?
SOME HON. MEMBERS: No!
MR. SPEAKER: I hear a no, Hon. Member.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye! Aye!
MR. SPEAKER: I'll try it again.
MR. SPEAKER: Shall leave be granted?
MR. BARNES: Mr. Speaker, just to clarify the minister's remarks, I don't believe I made allegations. I was inquiring of the minister if his department would look into the matter. I appreciate his report back.
My other question at this time is: did he also check the spiel that the handicapped people were giving over the telephone? In other words, were they required to state as part of the job condition that they were handicapped?
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I am sure that this is something that you can take up with the minister himself.
MR. BARNES: It was on the basis of the exploitation of the fact that the person was handicapped that I raised it, because that was a question of subjecting these people to subhuman conditions. They are expecting them to exploit their physical handicap in order to have the job. That's all I was asking the minister — if he would say whether or not that was the case.
Introduction of bills.
AMENDMENT ACT, 1976
Hon. Mr. Gardom presents a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Attorney-General Statutes Amendment Act, 1976.
Bill 75 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
LAW ENFORCEMENT IN KITIMAT
HON. MR. GARDOM: Mr. Speaker, with leave of the House I would like to make a statement.
HON. MR. GARDOM: Mr. Speaker, the representatives in this House are exactly what that name means — representatives of the people of this province and all of the people of the province. The
[ Page 2520 ]
people of this province, whatever their faith, race, sex or political direction may be, are law-abiding people and peaceful people. They believe in and they subscribe to and lead a life that is guided by and under the rule of law. Without such a rule, Mr. Speaker, society cannot function, people cannot live together as neighbours; without such a rule, retaliation and chaos can become the order of the day.
Neither this government nor, I am sure, any other representatives of the people in this House can sanction anything but observance of those principles.
Some espouse that, depending upon the fervour of the cause, an illegal means is a satisfactory method of arriving at an acceptable end. But that, Mr. Speaker, is a denigration of the democratic process. As the Hon. Bora Laskin, the Chief Justice of Canada, stated: "We must not elevate demonstrations and protests above the law but rather have them subservient to the law."
Kitimat, Mr. Speaker, is a potentially dangerous situation. Officials from my department have had discussions with union leaders and rank-and-file, and management and rank-and-file, with citizens and with local leaders. Resolution of their problem is not by breaches of the law, but hopefully by further discussion between the parties.
I am today requesting that a provincial court judge make his way to Kitimat to be available for whatever processes may come before him — I do, indeed, hope none.
I have instructed the law-enforcement authorities to ensure that there are not any violations of the Criminal Code, and, if there are, they will have to be dealt with at the scene.
This, Mr. Speaker, is what any citizen in British Columbia would expect and is entitled to. I would indeed hope and expect that this would also be a fair expression of the views of all the parties to that unfortunate dispute in Kitimat. No one wishes damages to property or person, and I would expect, Mr. Speaker, that all of the citizens of Kitimat would agree with that, as any law-abiding citizen would, and that they, indeed, are looking to and I hope are pressing forward for a peaceful and lawful resolution of their present difficulty.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Attorney-General for his statement to the House and I certainly want to join, as I'm sure all the members in this assembly would, in an appeal to all of those people involved in an industrial relations dispute at Kitimat to take the legal course and to respect the law.
I do want to say, however, Mr. Speaker, that the Attorney-General, I am sure, is cognizant of the fact that laws must seem to be equitable before the complete support of the entire community can be available for the observance of such laws. That's part and parcel, I think, of the concepts of justice, which the Attorney-General knows a great deal more about than I do. However, I think I am well experienced in human relations, and I know that it's important that a law be perceived to be equitable and fair if that law is to be strong and workable and acceptable to the community. In other debates in the past and others to come before this House, Mr. Speaker, we will unquestionably have more to say about that proposition.
In the meantime, I certainly most sincerely hope that the parties will perceive that their remedies are not through defiance of the law, but rather through legislative action, or political action, or whatever they consider to be necessary under the democratic rights that citizens hold in this province in terms of finding laws and finding procedures which are equitable and fair to them and their causes.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, certainly I would wish to associate myself with the statement of the Attorney-General, which I think was wisely circumspect and conciliatory. It sets out a high expectation and at the same time notes that there is back-stop machinery if for any unhappy reason those expectations aren't fulfilled. The maintenance of law and order and the upholding of the Criminal Code are vital to our society; there can be no question of that.
I'm glad that the Attorney-General mentioned his hope that some of the underlying problems might be resolved by further discussion between the parties, because I personally believe it is going to take that. There are very understandable grievances and I think that the company should take a very serious look at that.
The Attorney-General did not mention what steps, if any, he might have to take in respect of the labour dispute now being before the court, but perhaps it is as wise not to go into that at this time.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, I completely support the Attorney-General's statement and particularly his emphasis that our whole society depends on respect and adherence to the law, regardless of some of the inequities that may be seen to exist in the present law.
I had prepared some questions for the Attorney-General for question period and they are not intended to be any negative approach, but I do want to know and I would like to leave with the Attorney-General the question that I'm sure many people are asking: for as long as this present very sensitive and explosive situation exists, is the Attorney-General satisfied that he has the police available to protect life, limb and property if, in fact, his optimism of a peaceful solution does not occur?
In particular, I was amazed to find that
[ Page 2521 ]
management are trapped inside the plant, even having difficulty obtaining food supplies, and I was wondering if either outside the House or in some other statement the Attorney-General would answer some of these questions. It's quite obvious that the longer that kind of situation is allowed to continue, the more inflammatory and less responsible might be the subsequent actions of the parties involved.
I very much appreciate the Attorney-General's initiatives, the speed with which he has sent representatives to find out facts from the scene of the problem and the speed with which he's reported back to this House. In this instance, I think the Attorney-General has accomplished a very creditable first.
HON. L.A. WILLIAMS (Minister of Labour): You're his friend, Scotty.
Orders of the day.
HON. G.M. McCARTHY (Provincial Secretary): Second reading of Bill 58, by leave.
MR. SPEAKER: Shall leave be granted? Second reading of Bill 58.
MR. W.S. KING (Leader of the Opposition): I will have to save no to that leave, Mr. Speaker. I would like to observe to the House Leader of the government that this bill was only introduced late last night. It's a profound bill, it's a lengthy one and it deals with long-term implications affecting a large sector of the province's citizens. We would like to have more time to study this bill before going into debate on it.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. House Leader of the Opposition, I must apologize. I did not hear a "no", and that is why I proceeded to call second reading of the bill. If you in fact said "no" that means that unanimous leave has not been granted.
The Leader of the Opposition says he has said "no", Mr. Premier. It must be unanimous and leave is not granted.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, Committee of Supply.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Schroeder in the chair.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Chairman, I move the committee rise, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
Motion approved on the following division:
YEAS — 30
NAYS — 11
Hon. Mr. Bennett requests that leave be asked to record the division in the Journals of the House.
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 did occur in committee, and asks leave to have it recorded in the Journals of the House.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, I would ask leave of the House to move to public bills and orders.
MR. SPEAKER: Shall leave be granted?
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!
SOME HON. MEMBERS: No!
MR. SPEAKER: I hear a "no", hon. members.
HON. W.R. BENNETT (Premier): Mr. Speaker, would you call it again?
MR. SPEAKER: I do not think it's necessary to call again for leave. The Speaker did hear a "no".
HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I heard no "no" last time and you had a member rise in his place and record a rather late "no". Can we have the call again?
MR. KING: Quit trying to direct the Speaker!
[ Page 2522 ]
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I suggest to members from all quarters of the House that it's not unusual to call a second time if there's some discrepancy or if it's not clear or apparent that a "no" is being issued by one of the hon. members, and it's not unusual for someone to ask me to put the question again if they themselves did not hear a "no". Now once more, shall leave be granted?
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!
SOME HON. MEMBERS: No!
MR. SPEAKER: I hear a "no".
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, was that unanimous?
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, I understand there is confusion as to whether there were "ayes". I'd like to tell Mr. Speaker that I said aye.
MR. SPEAKER: I think the matter has been settled, Hon. Provincial Secretary, in that it only takes one, "no" to refuse unanimous consent to move into other orders of business. That "no" was heard distinctly by the Speaker.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to go into committee.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: On what?
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: I'll repeat, Mr. Speaker: I ask leave to go into committee on bills.
MR. SPEAKER: Shall leave be granted?
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. House Leader, I hear a no.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! I am trying to ascertain what the hon. first member for Vancouver-Burrard wishes to say.
MS. R. BROWN (Vancouver-Burrard): Well, Mr. Speaker, the government seems to be in a state of confusion. I am wondering if they could get their act together. They are confusing the House. They don't know what they're doing over there!
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MS. BROWN: Inept!
HON. MR. BENNETT: Don't be so sanctimonious.
MS. BROWN: Withdraw!
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members. Order, please!
[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: There seems to be an increasing tendency for members to try to gain the floor by no means other than to stand and say "Mr. Speaker." It's customary to gain the floor if you have a point of order to raise, and this is done by members on all sides of the House. It's irregular to try to gain the floor or divert the attention of the Speaker, the Chair or the House Leader by rising, just saying "Mr. Speaker" and having no point of order to make in the House.
Now I would hope that all members will take that in the vein which it is intended, and that is as advice to all members of the House, because when you do these things it does impose an abuse on rules of the House and all members of the House.
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat. ]
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, adjourned debate on second reading of Bill 32.
MOTOR-VEHICLE ACT AMENDMENT ACT, 1976
Hon. Mr. Gardom moves adjournment of the debate.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, adjourned debate on second reading of Bill 33.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
Hon. Mr. Gardom moves adjournment of the debate.
Motion approved on the following division:
YEAS — 30
[ Page 2523 ]
NAYS — 11
Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Second reading of Bill 34, Mr. Speaker.
CHANGE OF NAME ACT
AMENDMENT ACT, 1976
Hon. Mr. McClelland moves adjournment of the debate.
Motion approved on the following division:
YEAS — 31
NAYS — 11
Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Second reading of Bill 36, Mr. Speaker.
BIKEWAYS DEVELOPMENT ACT
MR. C. BARBER (Victoria): Talking about bicycles in the presence of steamrollers might not be such a wise idea...
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
MR. BARBER: ...but I'm happy all the same for the opportunity to discuss this private member's bill.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. member for Victoria has the floor.
MR. BARBER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
As you will observe from reading the bill, passage of this legislation would require the government to exercise some initiative and some imagination and to employ some new ideas and some new thinking in the provision of transportation for the people of this province.
Many people on both sides of the House, Mr. Speaker, are persuaded that in the great cities of North America the private automobile has no longer any future at all and that, indeed, beyond the year 2000 in most of those great cities the private automobile will be illegal. All we will see in the place of it will be ambulances, fire trucks, other emergency equipment and major trucking vehicles.
What this bill recognizes, Mr. Speaker, is what thousands upon thousands of Canadians have recognized, and it is this: the bicycle as a means of transport is cheap, it is efficient, it is healthy, and it's an opportunity to abandon an unhealthy and a degrading way of life, a way of life which, because of the presence of the automobile in its extraordinary numbers, damages the environment, damages the land and damages our own future as a species.
The Bikeways Development Act calls, Mr. Speaker, for acts of leadership on the part of this government to examine opportunities to provide alternatives to the automobile, to provide alternatives to the kinds of transportation systems we have now which simply will not serve us in the future.
As the Attorney-General himself noted one evening in debate in this House, Mr. Speaker, in civilized nations in Europe, in civilized nations around the world, the bicycle is a way of life.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. BARBER: It's used for transport; it's used for pleasure; it's used for recreation....
MR. BARBER: And there are bicycles built for two and three, and those are used for other things as well, all of which I support.
I think what we have here, Mr. Speaker, is an opportunity for this government to show that imagination, to act on the advice, and I presume the experience, of the Attorney-General, and to provide opportunities throughout the province for the
[ Page 2524 ]
construction of bicycle paths, recreational and commuter.
I think what we see, Mr. Speaker, is that from the experience....
MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
MR. R.E. SKELLY (Alberni): Stifling debate!
MS. BROWN: Heavy hand!
MR. CHABOT: On a point of order, I was listening very attentively to the second member for Victoria to see whether his bill was in order. I just noticed he suggested that the government become involved in the building of bicycle paths, which really incurs a monetary obligation on the Crown and which, in turn, clearly makes his bill out of order. On that basis, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that you have a responsibility to examine the point I have raised and so rule.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, speaking to the point of order which has been brought to my attention, the rules of debate and the rules of bills, particularly private members' bills...one of the paramount rules, hon. member, is that you cannot create an impost on the Crown. For that reason I must rule that your bill is out of order in that it contemplates in section 5 a grant from the consolidated revenue funds of the Crown. That is an impost, clearly, on the Crown and a prerogative of government and not of private members. So I must therefore rule that the bill is out of order.
MR. BARBER: Mr. Speaker, if I may reply very briefly, would you permit for purposes of debate on what I believe is a progressive and far-sighted bill an amendment which would remove...
MR. BARBER: ...from the bill itself any thoughts of an impost against the Crown?
MR. L.B. KAHL (Esquimalt): You can't amend something that's out of order.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry, Hon. Member, the bill is clearly out of order. It has been brought to my attention on a point of order. I must rule that it is out of order.
MR. BARBER: We are well aware — we needn't trick one another — that there is a larger debate going on here today. In view of it, I must challenge the ruling of the Chair.
MS. BROWN: You don't have to hate bicycles because you sell cars.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. SPEAKER: The Chair's ruling has been challenged; there is no debate.
MR. SPEAKER: Order!
MR. BARBER: Don't try and push the bill through.
MR. SPEAKER: The ruling of the Chair has been challenged; there is no debate on the challenge. Shall the ruling of the Chair be sustained?
AN HON. MEMBER: Division.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker has no intention of asking a Clerk of this House to subject himself to the embarrassment of trying to read a list of how the vote went when there is this continual chatter going on back and forth across the floor. If everyone in this House wishes to disrupt the business of the House and proceed with nothing, that's exactly what will be accomplished this afternoon. But I have no intention, as Speaker of this House, to ask one of the Clerks of this assembly to read the list of the way that members voted until we have the attention and the respect that the Clerks deserve.
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat.]
Mr. Speaker's ruling sustained on the following division:
[ Page 2525 ]
YEAS — 33
NAYS — 9
Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, if I may indulge on the House, I would suggest to the House Leader (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) that we have no objection to going to public bills provided the House leader is willing to give us time to study Bill 58. If the government has no intention of introducing that bill for second reading this afternoon, we would be prepared to move to public bills and orders.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Second reading of Bill 37.
LAND REGISTRY AMENDMENT ACT, 1976
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member for Comox (Ms. Sanford) .
MR. BARBER: The hon. member for Comox is absent, and I rise to move adjournment of this debate until the next sitting of the House.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, second reading of Bill 38.
PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES
DISCLOSURE ACT AMENDMENT ACT, 1976
Mr. Barber moves adjournment of the debate.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Second reading of Bill 39.
COMMUNITY OF PROPERTY ACT
MS. R. BROWN (Vancouver-Burrard): I am very pleased to rise in support of this legislation, and I would like to inform the House that there is no impost on the Crown. It does not call for any expenditure. I know the member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot) is checking this very carefully. This bill is completely and totally in order, and it has to do with a philosophy and a concept which I certainly hope every side of the House agrees with.
Mr. Speaker, the previous government, as you know, introduced the royal commission — Mr. Justice Berger's commission on the family and children's law — and at that time the commission looked very carefully into the whole area of community of property as it is presently on the books in this province. The commission sat a number of days, submissions were made by individuals as well as by groups, and precedents and the laws in other provinces as well as in other countries around the world were taken into account before Mr. Justice Berger brought down his recommendation.
This piece of legislation which I have drafted and which I certainly hope is going to get the complete consent of the government and of all members of the House was based on the recommendation of Mr. Justice Berger and his commission.
Mr. Speaker, because I take this matter very, very seriously, I consulted with a number of legal minds to ensure that when the bill is introduced it would be completely and totally in order so that no condition or no excuse could be used to rule it out of order, but that in fact it would receive the attention of every member of this House, and everyone in fact would participate in the debate to ensure that a traditional and historical wrong which has existed in this province and in this country since the beginning of time could be set right.
I'm very disappointed to see that the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Gardom) is not in his seat, Mr. Speaker. Oh, the Attorney-General is back. In fact it is the Attorney-General who would be responsible for the implementation of this legislation. I would appreciate it also if the Attorney-General would read this bill, Bill 39, very carefully and find it within his jurisdiction and within his power to support it.
Mr. Speaker, I want to just give a couple of examples of things that have happened to various people in the Canadian community as a result of the fact that this kind of legislation is not presently in existence.
I am sure the whole House is familiar with the case of Murdoch v. Murdoch. I know all of the legal minds certainly are, and I know all of the women in the House certainly are because it was precedent-setting, it was a historical decision which was brought
[ Page 2526 ]
down by the Supreme Court of Canada.
What that decision said, Mr. Speaker, was that the two people involved in a marriage were not equal partners, that in fact any assets accrued during the lifetime of that marriage, whether it was property or whatever, was in the sole ownership of the husband, that in fact the wife was not an equal partner despite the fact that she worked continually throughout the duration of that marriage, and even if she contributed money to the accumulation of assets in that marriage.
The story of Mrs. Murdoch, of course, is that when she married Mr. Murdoch she took into the marriage a section of land. She was the person; it was her land that went into the marriage. During the more than 25 years of that marriage she worked equally with him as a farm wife, and all of the farmers in this House know that the wife of the farmer is not an appendage; she is a hard-working equal partner in the marriage. For more than 25 years Mrs. Murdoch worked as an equal partner in this marriage.
She did more than that, Mr. Speaker, because it was not a farm that was self-sustaining, and to ensure that there was sufficient income for the family to live on, Mr. Murdoch had to leave the farm every summer and go into the city to work.
During that period, the busiest time on the farm, Mrs. Murdoch remained and was solely responsible for the running of that farm. During the summer months, which again all the farmers will agree is the busiest time on the farm, the person who remained on the farm and who worked on the farm, was not Mr. Murdoch; it was Mrs. Murdoch.
After more than 25 years of marriage the marriage came to an end. It's not necessary for me, Mr. Speaker, to go into the details except to say that on one occasion after she had been severely beaten by Mr. Murdoch and thrown out of the house she decided to file for divorce.
The settlement which she was allowed by the courts was $200 a month. After 25 years of marriage, after going into the marriage with a section of land, after working full time on the farm to the point where at the end of the marriage there were now three sections of land, the courts of this land, Mr. Speaker, awarded her support payments of $200 a month; and she also had a spoon which, at the time she was thrown out of the House by Mr. Murdoch, she had in her hand. She was allowed to keep the spoon — $200 a month and a spoon, after more than 25 years of marriage, rearing the children, working full time on the farm and, again I repeat, going into the marriage initially with a section of land which was hers.
This decision was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada because this was a decision which was brought down by a court in Alberta. This decision was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Supreme Court of Canada, Mr. Speaker, upheld this decision. The Supreme Court upheld this decision on the grounds that what Mrs. Murdoch had done during those more than 25 years of marriage was no more or no less than is expected of any wife in this country during the duration of a marriage. So the Supreme Court of Canada upheld that her settlement should be $200 a month, and again they agreed that she should be allowed to keep the spoon.
There was, Mr. Speaker, a dissenting opinion. Let the record show to his credit that Mr. Bora Laskin, our Chief Justice of Canada, registered a dissenting opinion to that judgment. Nonetheless, that was not sufficient to overrule the decision, and to this day, Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Murdoch still is receiving $200 a month in support payments from her husband. He has complete and total and unchallenged ownership of the three sections of land which she worked so hard to make possible for both of them to acquire.
Mr. Speaker, everyone agreed at the time when that decision was brought down that it was unjust and that it was unfair, but everyone agreed that it was legal. In fact, as the law is now written, as the law now stands on the books, the decision was legal because in this country, and indeed in this province, a wife is not deemed to be an equal partner in a marriage. A wife is not deemed to be an equal partner in a marriage, and it makes absolutely no difference how long she may work or how hard she may work. As the law is presently written she is without any rights except those awarded her through the generosity of the courts.
There is a further injustice, Mr. Speaker, if I can quote another case, and that is of another marriage which lasted more than 30 years. During the period of that time, Mr. Speaker, the wife involved in that marriage built up a savings account. But she had never worked. When the decision was made at her divorce hearing that, in fact, the divorce should be allowed, the husband petitioned for the assets in her savings account on the grounds that he had transferred these funds to her account, that it was his money which he had transferred to her account as a tax shelter.
The courts accepted his statement because, as the law now stands, for a woman in this country who has never worked at any time during the duration of a marriage, everything that she has is deemed to be a gift from her husband and as such can be taken back by him at any time. Everyone agrees that this is unfair and unjust. There is no question about that, Mr. Speaker. But everyone also says that that is the law. Mr. Attorney-General, that is the law as it now stands on the books.
I wouldn't like to create the impression that every time a marriage is dissolved the fault is entirely either on one partner or another because, in fact, it takes two people to make a marriage work, and it often takes two people to make it not work — most often. So really what we're talking about is taking the
[ Page 2527 ]
concept of adversary out of the dissolution of marriage. I see the Attorney-General listening intently, and I know that he knows Judge Bowker and the work that she has been doing in Edmonton in terms of this whole concept of no fault being placed either at the steps of one partner or the other when the marriage comes into account.
Now if we're going to accept the concept of no fault, if we are going to take the adversary concept out of marriage, then we certainly have to start out by assuming that both partners involved are equal.
Mr. Speaker, I hope that you are not overworking yourself in an attempt to find that this little bill is out of order, because I can assure you that it is not. I have worked very hard to ensure that this bill is in order, and I would appreciate it, Mr. Speaker, if you would stop working so hard to try and find that it is out of order, because it is not out of order.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Member. Because I happen to be conferring with the rules of the House does not mean that I am looking to try and find a way of ruling your bill out of order.
MS. BROWN: Oh, thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: It just might be that I am looking at some of the other bills that may come up this afternoon.
MS. BROWN: I stand reassured, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: I am sure you do.
MS. BROWN: I stand reassured.
AN HON. MEMBER: You're a little oversensitive.
MS. BROWN: Yes, but I'm not oversensitive about the Speaker. I know that the Speaker can see the injustice in the law as it presently stands, and really most of my remarks are directed almost exclusively, though not entirely, to the Attorney-General, who has been Attorney-General of this province for five months and has permitted this injustice to go on for that length of time.
HON. G.B. GARDOM (Attorney-General): Oh! (Laughter.)
MS. BROWN: Shame, Mr. Attorney-General!
HON. MR. GARDOM: Please put the laugh in.
MS. BROWN: Sure, let the record show that the Attorney-General smiled — that I chuckled and he smiled.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I guess it must have been in 1971 that the Law Reform Commission of British Columbia was first given the responsibility to look at the whole concept of community of property in the province. Now the Attorney-General can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it was either 1970 or 1971.
At that time, members of the Vancouver Status of Women council, and other women's groups in Vancouver and around the province, met with Mr. Richard Goss, who was then the chairperson of the Law Reform Commission. A couple of issues were raised in terms of the fairness of making community of property equal in a union. The concern was that some poor, unsuspecting male with a lot of property could be swept off his feet by some scheming female with a lot of brain but no property, and then....
MS. BROWN: Right. Happy the day — true. And then, Mr. Speaker, the marriage would be dissolved within 24 hours, or, as with Bill 58, within 16 hours, and then she would be entitled to half of all of the property.
Now we took that into account and we agreed that would have been as unfair as the bill is as it now stands, namely that absolutely nothing that she does is considered as part of the assets accrued. So the recommendation we made at that time to the Law Reform Commission was that only what was accrued after the marriage should be considered as equal property between the two members. In other words, if she went — as Mrs. Murdoch did — into the marriage with a section of land, and she wanted to share that equally, fine, she had the right to do that. If, on the other hand, she wanted not to share it....
MR. H.W. SCHROEDER (Chilliwack): How about equal earnings?
MS. BROWN: Just a minute — I'll get around to that. I'm designated speaker, so I've got a few hours to go. I'll get around to all the questions.
AN HON. MEMBER: How about the lady who sleeps every afternoon?
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, the member is heckling me.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, hon. members. The hon. first member for Vancouver-Burrard has the floor.
MS. BROWN: As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, before I was being attacked, any property brought into the
[ Page 2528 ]
marriage by either of the members of the union — whether it be the male involved or the female — that partner would have the right to decide whether that property should be designated as common property, or if it should be retained as being solely owned by one partner in the marriage. However, any property accrued after the marriage would have to be designated as common property.
The member for Burnaby asked what about the wife who sleeps every afternoon. Mr. Speaker, a study was done in one of the universities in the United States. This study tried to measure the work ability and the work capacity of various men. It compared the work capacity of single men with that of married men; it compared that of single women with that of married women. In each instance the report showed that of the married people involved, the work level was higher. In fact, marriage enhanced the ability of both the female and the male to accrue property, or to indulge themselves in the form of work they happened to be involved in at that time.
As a result of this, Mr. Speaker, it must be very clear, even to the member for Burnaby....
MS. BROWN: I'm going to get around to your wife who sleeps every afternoon, Mr. Member.
What I'm trying to say, Mr. Speaker, if that member would just allow me to get my position across, is that in fact it takes two people to work together in terms of whatever is accrued after the marriage.
MS. BROWN: It's much more enjoyable, I agree. Nonetheless, we're talking about marriage, Mr. Member.
But in fact, Mr. Speaker, what we're also talking about is the fact that both people work together in a marriage to acquire whatever is acquired by them in every way. Both people work together, Mr. Speaker, in a marriage in terms of parenting. It is not the responsibility of either one partner or the other but both. Both people work together to turn a house into a home. It takes both people to do that, and when the law says, as it presently does, that only that work which is done outside of the home is deemed to be valuable, then the law is wrong. The law is very clearly wrong, Mr. Attorney-General.
All the bill is asking is that the law should recognize as work of equal value that work done within the home as well as that work done outside of the home. What the bill is saying is that it should not even be necessary for the partner who chooses to remain at home, whether the partner is female or the partner is male, to have done some work outside of the home, that in fact the work that's done in the home is as valuable to society as a whole, and cannot even be measured in dollars and cents.
Surely the Minister of Health, who stood on his feet and spoke about the cost to the community of delinquency and alcoholism, agrees that the role of the partner who remains at home is as valuable to society as the role of the partner who works outside of the home. How then can you as a government tolerate legislation which very clearly penalizes the partner who remains at home? How then can you as a government tolerate legislation that very clearly says that the partner who remains at home is making no contribution whatsoever to any assets being accrued by that particular union? This is what this bill is going to give the government an opportunity to set right, Mr. Speaker. What this bill addresses itself to is the concept of the importance of the partner who remains at home.
I want to digress here for a minute to point out that it's becoming increasingly true that often the partner who remains at home is the male. More and more men, Mr. Speaker, are opting for the homemaker role. It's true. The member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot) shakes his head, but it's an incredible phenomenon which, Mr. Speaker, is happening all over North America — that more and more men are opting for the role of homemaker and full-time parent in the home, even on a temporary basis. We are finding more and more unions where they take turns while the children are small, Mr. Speaker, working outside of the home, and both parents take turns being at home, dealing with the parenting.
Despite this, the law still very clearly shows a bias which states that the work done by the partner who remains at home is deemed not to be of value, and any assets accrued within that union go to one partner only, unless that person hires a lawyer who goes through the courts and fights for that person's rights.
This brings me to my other point, Mr. Speaker, and that is the bias which so often is displayed by the legal profession in dealing with the division of property at the dissolution of a marriage. I can quote again the case of a woman which was brought to me no more than three days ago. At the age of 55 she now finds that her husband has decided to trade her in on a newer model, Mr. Speaker. The children are grown and they've left home, and he's decided that it's time...and his exact words to her were "you go and do your thing, and I'll go and do mine" — not taking into account that her thing is staying at home and continuing to be the wife and mother, which she had been for nearly 30 years.
She went to her lawyer, Mr. Speaker — an excellent lawyer who was recommended to her by a friend — and said to the lawyer that she would like to
[ Page 2529 ]
retain ownership of the family home, that at 55 she did not want to pull up roots. They had lived in this home since their marriage, her three children had been born there — and this is very unusual in this very transient day and age of ours. They had grown and gone to university, and the last one had married and left home. She did not want to leave this home.
However, Mr. Speaker, over the years they had mortgaged and remortgaged and remortgaged the home. At this time, the home still has a mortgage on it which calls for payments of nearly $300 a month. When she went to her lawyer she said: "Rather than maintenance, I would like to retain possession of this home if my husband, or ex-husband as he will be, will continue to meet the mortgage payments of nearly $300 a month." What she was suggesting doing at age 55 was that she could probably go out and do babysitting or whatever until she was old enough to become eligible for Mincome, because she anticipated that Mincome would still be in existence at the time.
Her lawyer said to her — this is her lawyer, Mr. Speaker, who is going to be paid to go through the courts and file her divorce for her — that he thought that she was being unreasonable, that in fact she had been kept by this husband for nearly 30 years and that to ask him to continue to keep her in this house and meet the mortgage payments was unreasonable. He absolutely denigrated the nearly 30 years of work that that woman had put into this union, and did not and would not support her case that she should be at least allowed to keep the family home and that the mortgage payments should be made on the home so that that would be possible and that she would try to support herself in other ways.
His suggestion was that she should get $300 a month and that was it, that in fact the home had been bought by the husband, which is true. There is no question that the initial down payment on the house had been made by the husband. His argument was that that being the case, the husband should have the home and she should settle for $300 a month and try to pick up some money in other ways and continue until she was eligible either for Mincome or died or whatever it is that happens.
The first point is, Mr. Speaker, that at 55 years of age, male or female, there are very few jobs open to you to try and get into the labour market. The truth also is that it is more difficult for a woman to find a job at 55 years of age than at other times. The fact is that the only thing that she was equipped to do, and the only experience which this woman had to take into the labour market, were her home-making experiences. She had been a full-time wife and mother for nearly 30 years. She was a complete and total expert at parenting; she was an expert at being a wife; she was an expert at taking care of the family home and all the kinds of skills that that calls for — skills in accounting, skills in budgeting, skills in decision-making — the kinds of skills that go with keeping the family home running smoothly and getting everyone in it to where they have to be successfully on time.
[Mr. Schroeder in the chair.]
These skills are not appreciated outside of the some. If at age 55, Mr. Speaker, you should find yourself as a woman going out onto the labour market and saying, "I am looking for a job and I have early 30 years of home-making skills, " you will find at it is a very, very difficult thing indeed to secure employment at that time.
On my recommendation, this woman went to see the ombudservice of the Vancouver Status of Women council. Now one of the really valuable services that the Status of Women council delivers is that it keeps in hand a roster of lawyers who are competent and skilled in the area of family law, because there aren't many lawyers around who are competent and skilled in the area of family law. I am really pleased that the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) is sitting here, Mr. Speaker, because you realize that the Vancouver Status of Women council depends on the generosity of the Provincial Secretary for their continued funding.
However, the ombudservice of the Vancouver Status of Women council took this woman's case into account and referred her to another lawyer who did not demonstrate the bias of her first lawyer. She is going to be represented by someone who is more sympathetic and, indeed, more understanding of the whole area of family law.
Despite this, Mr. Speaker, because of the law as it presently is on the books, there is a very good chance hat this woman is not going to be permitted to keep the family home, that the mortgage payments are not going to be paid and that, in fact, Mrs. Murdoch may end up with support payments of $200 a month or $250 a month, depending on the decision of the courts at the time and that is all.
If this bill, Bill 39 which I am introducing to the House today in second reading, was accepted by the government and made law, women like that woman would be protected, Mr. Speaker, from the very sure poverty which is her lot. She is going to end up having nothing or very close to nothing. She is going to end up spending the last years of her life, be they 10, 15 or 20, as close to poverty as it is possible to be after investing willingly nearly 30 years of her time and her energy.
She did it willingly. Nobody is forced into a marriage in this country. So, Mr. Speaker, please don't get me wrong. She did it willingly. But after nearly 30 years of that, because of the injustice in the law as it applies to matrimonial property — in this province and in this country, this woman and many
[ Page 2530 ]
other women like her will end up in their senior years in poverty — in poverty, Mr. Speaker.
The government is interested in saving money. Does the government have any idea what it would save in terms of its Mincome payments and its s payments to women over the age of 60 and 65 if there was a just community of property law enforced in this province? Have you any idea how many women there are collecting welfare? Now I am not speaking about our senior citizens. I am speaking about younger women in their 40s. How many younger women are there — in their 30s? There are even younger women with small children who are collecting welfare but who would not need to if we had a fair community of property law enforced in this province.
What are the reasons, Mr. Speaker, aside from the traditional and historical ones that go back to the beginning of time when laws said that married women were incompetent and therefore should not be allowed to make any sort of decisions, that they needed to be cared for, first of all, by their fathers and that they went from their father's house into their husband's house and that they needed to be cared for by their husbands and if they had no husband, a guardian was assigned to them — a brother, cousin or whatever? There were laws made in the 1800s, 1700s and 1600s that clearly stated that married women were incompetent. In fact, it's on the books.
MS. BROWN: Some of those laws are still on the books. There are still laws on the books, federal laws on the books, brought down from the beginning of English justice that say that this law applies except in the case of children, married women and lunatics.
Because what that law presumes, first of all, is that no woman in her right mind would get married. Therefore she has to be classed with lunatics. No mature woman would get married. Therefore she must be classed with kids. If an immature, mad woman got married, then it made sense that she must be considered incompetent.
Hundreds of years have gone by and that concept of the married woman still stands. Is it going to stand through until the 21st century and the 22nd century and the 23rd century, Mr. Speaker? When is that historical and traditional stereotype going to be confronted and changed? When?
Okay. The previous government got it started, Mr. Speaker, when it established the Berger commission on family law. The present government inherited a very comprehensive report — report No. 6 on matrimonial property. I am sure that there are members in the government who have read this report from cover to cover and have seen the learned words of Mr. Justice Berger, have read the recommendations, have read the petitions put forward and agree that there is a way to deal with this iniquitous legislation that is presently on the books, to set the record straight, to clean up and remove this terrible stereotype that has followed married women down through the ages, this terrible scar that depicts us as being lunatics, incompetents and childlike.
This is the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, which this bill, Bill 39, offers to the government. Again, I must say, and with regret, that I'm sorry the Attorney-General is not here because in fact the Attorney-General holds the fate of all married women in this province in his hand.
AN HON. MEMBER: God help them!
MS. BROWN: Did somebody say "God help them"? Yes. Let the record show.
AN HON. MEMBER: God help him.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, the Attorney-General holds in his hand the fate of all married women in this province. He has it within his reach to undo hundreds of years of injustice. He has it within his reach to set right a wrong that has lived with us for too long. He also has it within his reach to save the government money, as I pointed out to you earlier.
I notice that the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm), under his jurisdiction, is going to establish a bureau which is going to go and seek out husbands who are not paying their maintenance, and collect their maintenance for them, that he's establishing a bureau that will have relationships with other provinces and other parts of the world so that, indeed, husbands who leave the province and go to other provinces, or husbands who go to other countries, can be tracked down and their maintenance payments be collected.
That would not be necessary if the law did not hold that the male and the female in a marriage were not equal. If the law established right at the very beginning that the marriage is between two equal partners throughout the duration of the marriage, through to the dissolution of that marriage, then at the time the marriage is dissolved or terminated, instead of talking about one partner maintaining another, or one partner being maintained by another, what we would deal with is an equal division of assets accrued during the duration of that marriage.
There's another point too, Mr. Speaker. Did you realize that many of the insults and injustices which married women face when they try to get loans from banks or financial institutions, when they try to acquire credit cards of credit in their own name, when they try to get mortgages, or whatever...do you realize that the difficulties married women have
[ Page 2531 ]
in those areas can be traced back to the fact that within the marriage they are not considered to have anything — to have any property, to have any collateral?
When you go into the bank to negotiate a loan, if you are a married women, the bank demands that your husband come in and co-sign for your loan because the banks recognize that according to the laws of this land everything you have you are really just holding in trust for your husband, and he can say that it was a gift which was given to you and he has now decided he would like to recapture that gift.
Therefore you cannot put it up as collateral because the husband has
first call on that gift. Therefore they cannot do business with you;
they cannot negotiate a loan with you because they do not have first
call on any collateral you might put up.
Do you realize that this is the same thinking that goes into the refusal of many large department stores to give a women a credit card in her own name?
True, pressure has been put on a lot of the department stores; they recognize that it makes no difference who earns the money, that in fact it's usually the woman who spends it. So as a PR gesture, nowadays when you apply for a credit card in your name, most of the larger department stores will give you that credit card in your name. But when you look at the form that you have to fill out, it is very clearly stated there that the person who is going to be held responsible for any other debts that you accrue under that credit card is not going to be you, the married woman; it's going to be the husband, because again the department stores recognize the law as it stands on the books, namely that you are an appendage. You are owned and operated by your husband; you have what he deems you should have, and at any time you can be traded in or be disenfranchised, or whatever, at his whim and at his fancy.
Do you realize, Mr. Speaker, that that is also at the root of the difficulty of some women to be able to negotiate mortgages in their own name, despite the fact that the money being used to purchase the property, or whatever, may be money which that woman herself owns?
Do you realize that when the decision is made to give her the mortgage, that a percentage — only a percentage — of her income is taken into account, that the entire income is never taken into account, again for these very basic reasons?
In fact, Mr. Speaker, the reality of the situation is s that the concept of property is at the base of all financial and economic negotiations that go on in this I country. Property is at the basis of it. When a women is denied the right to share in the property accrued in t her marriage, you have removed from her a very basic right indeed.
I can't speak too strongly in support of this bill, Mr. Speaker. I can't go into too much detail on it, because I really believe that if we could set the record straight in this one particular issue, we would have gone more than halfway to dealing with so many of he basic inequities in our society that entrap women in poverty and keep them poor for all the days of their lives.
That's what poverty's all about — it's not having anything. It's not only not having anything but never even having the option to have anything. Because the law very clearly states that during those 25 or 30 years or 35 or 40 years or whatever that you remain at home discharging your duties as wife and mother, what you do is not considered to be of value. It's not counted in the GNP anywhere in the world.
In this province, Mr. Speaker, when I wanted to speak on the debate on the budget which was brought down, I contacted the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Phillips), and I said to him — not directly but through someone in his department — I would like in round figures some indication of the financial worth in terms of the economy of married women in this province. Have you ever measured it in terms of even if they are paid the minimum wage?
I was told by that department that it was not possible for them to give me that figure and that I should try the bureau of statistics in Ottawa. Because surely if anyone had it, Ottawa would have it.
So I contacted Ottawa, Mr. Speaker. It just happened that I was on my way to Ottawa to a meeting which was to establish the setting up of a national research on women, you know, the national research on women. While I was there I met with some people from the bureau of statistics, and they didn't have it. They'd never done any research or any study on it, because it had never been considered important.
AN HON. MEMBER: Research on what?
MS. BROWN: The input of women into the GNP — and I'm referring to not women who work outside of the home but women who work within the home.
MS. BROWN: Oh, yes. But, you know, I'm not going to do that member's research for him because, I know that as a backbencher he's got a lot of time on his hands, Mr. Speaker. You know, I'm part of a very small opposition, and we work very hard over here. If that member needs information, he's got lots of time.
I think he should get his research done himself. But what he's trying to do is keep me from saying that the government of Canada has never been interested in our input, the input of women who remain in the home into the GNP.
They're not unusual in this, because when I
[ Page 2532 ]
tried.... When I wrote letters off to the United States to see if I could get information from them about the input of the American women who remain in the home into the GNP, it wasn't measured there either. Nobody measures it, because nobody has ever considered it to be that important. It's never been considered to be important.
Yet you will agree, Mr. Speaker, because I know I you are a gentleman of many
years of marriage, that in terms of the work done in the home, the women who
work in the home would never meet any of the Labour Code regulations.
You know, the member for Burnaby talks about the wife who sleeps in the afternoon. He doesn't mention the wife who gets up in the morning and gets the house warm and the food ready so when he gets out of bed, he says, "Good morning, darling," and he sits down and it's all there on the table, you know, a little rosebud in the vase and everything. All he has to do is eat it, get up and say "Thank you, darling, " and he's gone. You know, and the work is all there.
MR. CHABOT: Does he eat the rosebud?
MS. BROWN: He eats the rosebud, yes.
You know, Mr. Speaker, he complains about the wife who sleeps in the afternoon. He doesn't tell you about the....
MR. R.L. LOEWEN (Burnaby-Willingdon): Objection!
MS. BROWN: Oh, I'm sorry. Didn't you complain about your wife sleeping in the afternoons?
AN HON. MEMBER: No!
MS. BROWN: Oh, someone else's wife sleeps in the afternoon? (Laughter.)
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. Would you please address the Chair?
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry. I mean, I wouldn't want one word to get out that the member was referring to his wife sleeping in the afternoon if he meant it was someone else's wife he was talking about.
AN HON. MEMBER: Name names!
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, it's interesting that the hon. member never talks about the wife who will sit up all night with a sick child, with sick children, or with a sick husband, or a sick neighbour, or a sick friend, or whatever. The hon. member never talks bout the fact that the average woman who works in the home puts in a 17-hour day in many instances.
MR. LOEWEN: Mine does — 18 hours.
MS. BROWN: His wife puts in 18 hours. Let the record show that that member works his wife 18 hours a day, Mr. Speaker. He said it himself, the member for Burnaby — 18 hours a day. Yet the law is very clear that there is no value attached to that work. Neither during the duration of that marriage nor at the time of its dissolution is the concept of the value of that work ever taken into account.
What we hear about when the marriage is over is maintenance — maintenance. That is an insulting word, maintenance. That's very insulting, to talk about maintaining a person who has put in a number of years, who has earned her share — her equal share, and sometimes more than her share — and then to be told that she's being maintained by her husband at the time that the marriage is over.
This is what this legislation deals with, and I think that it is of value for us to see.... Oh, someone pointed out to me, Mr. Speaker, that women do laundry and change the beds. I'm not quite sure.
AN HON. MEMBER: In hotel operations.
MS. BROWN: Oh, in hotel operations and business ventures, Mr. Speaker. Well, that's true, but I think it would do well to read into the record, certainly, Mr. Justice Berger's introduction. He says that what he is doing is proposing "a significant change" — and I think that that's the crucial word there that we're dealing with — "a significant change in the law affecting the property rights of married couples," and he takes both partners into account.
I have been speaking specifically on behalf of the women as the ones who are deprived under the existing legislation, but Mr. Justice Berger said both people involved. He said: "While this proposed change to community of property may be seen as a fundamental departure from the existing law of separate property, it is felt that the notion of community of property more adequately reflects the way both partners intend their married life to be ordered."
As a minister of the church, Mr. Speaker, I know that you agree that when both people come before you — if you still marry people; I'm not sure whether you do or not — but when both partners come before you, certainly in the eye of the church anyway, they come as equals. They stand before you as equals, I hope. Do they stand before you as equals? Yes, they stand before you as equals.
MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): They don't leave that way. (Laughter.)
[ Page 2533 ]
MS. BROWN: In fact, Mr. Speaker, the law of the church sees them as equals, and what I'm suggesting in this legislation is that maybe the law of the land, Mr. Member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot), maybe the law of the land should see them as equal too. By accepting this legislation you are doing what Mr. Justice Berger suggested, and that is allowing both of the partners to participate in their relationship as equals.
Mr. Speaker, I'm really glad to be able to talk on this community of property legislation because, for one thing, aside from fighting for the rights of married women in this province, it gives the members of the opposition an opportunity to read Bill 58 so that we will be able to discuss it more intelligently when the time comes.
MR. KAHL: I thought you were talking on behalf of the women, not your people who didn't do their research.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I really hope that one of these days that member for Esquimalt will stand on his feet in this House and say something of value instead of sitting in his chair and just heckling across the floor. Esquimalt deserves better than that, believe me, and Esquimalt used to have better than that. It really saddens me, because one of the people....
MS. BROWN: That's right. One of the people, Mr. Speaker, who supported this concept of community of property was the former member for Esquimalt (Mr. Gorst). That's right — the former member for Esquimalt.
I stand before you, Mr. Speaker, dealing with a very serious matter affecting more than 50 per cent of the people who live in his riding, and instead of listening and making a commitment to them, he's heckling me.
I guess this is a Victoria phenomenon, because now the first member for Victoria (Mr. Bawlf) is heckling me too.
AN HON. MEMBER: Answer my question then. How come you didn't bring it in?
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to start from the beginning again and explain it to the first member for Victoria because he was not in his seat when I said that in the interest of doing the job properly and thoroughly, the previous government started out by constituting a family law commission under Mr. Justice Berger — I made it very clear, Mr. First Member for Victoria (Mr. Bawlf) — and that the report was brought down and the present government now has at its disposal all of the recommendations.
If you will notice, Mr. Speaker, he asks a question and then he doesn't listen, and so he's going to ask the question again and force me to explain again to him. You know, Victoria deserves better than that.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Back to the principle of the bill.
MS. BROWN: Back to the principle of the bill, Mr. Speaker.
The basic principle of the bill is that all people in this province should be considered as equals under the law, and as the law is presently constituted, this is not so.
In fact, married women in this province are not considered as equals under the law, and that really is the basic principle of this bill.
We have legislation — the Human Rights Act — which says everybody in this province should be treated equally regardless of their race, sex, creed, or whatever, yet we still have on the books a bill which defies Bill 100, our human rights legislation. The property laws of this province actually go against the human rights legislation of this province. In fact, if married women wanted to be frivolous — I don't know whether it's true because I'm not a legal person — they could challenge, using the Human Rights Code, Bill 100, discrimination of their right to equal property. I don't know if that's possible, but it should be.
We should be able to file with the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. Williams) under Bill 100 for discrimination on the grounds of our right to equal property in the marriage. Nobody's ever done it, and I don't think it should be necessary, because we have right here a report that lays it out very clearly.
It practically writes the legislation, Mr. Speaker. All that the Attorney-General's department has to do is accept the concept of equality before the law of all people, including married women. All that the Attorney-General has to do is to deny the traditional law, the historical law which says that married women are not equal, that married women are incompetent, that they should be in the same category as children and lunatics.
Really, after 2,000 years of having lived on this earth, Mr. Speaker, surely we have demonstrated that we are equal. We have demonstrated our right to equal treatment under the law, yet we find today, in the year 1976, that on the books of this province...and I'm not blaming the province alone, because it's on the books of Canada, too. The national government discriminates against married women. But we have the opportunity here in this
[ Page 2534 ]
province, in this Legislature, to do something about it. We have that opportunity.
I'm a firm believer in changing things where you are. Charity begins at home. You start where you are. Before you go rushing off to change things somewhere else, you make sure your own house is in order. Our house is not in order. Your government, Mr. Speaker — this province's government, because you're a member of this province — is permitting to sit on the books legislation that very clearly penalizes us and penalizes all women who dare to marry. It's as simple as that. It's a penalty that you have to pay. At the same time that we are being honoured on Mother's Day, at the same time that songs are being written about the wonders of our role as mothers and parents, at the same time when we are continually being told — and we believe — that the most valuable contribution that we can make to society is in the home, we're being penalized for this.
Does that make any sense to you? It doesn't make any sense to me. It makes sense to the lawyers, but then a lot of things make sense to the lawyers that don't make sense to anyone else. I withdraw that. That was unkind, but it's true nonetheless.
When I introduced this legislation, Mr. Speaker, I did it in all sincerity, because I thought that the Attorney-General would have requested that I withdraw Bill 39 so that he could introduce community-of-property legislation.
Yesterday when I sat in this House, Mr. Speaker, and witnessed 16 bills, 16 messages from the Lieutenant-Governor.... Surely the Lieutenant-Governor could have taken the time to write one more message, maybe one more message dealing with the community of property. Surely the Lieutenant-Governor could have done that, Mr. Member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot), who I know agrees with every word I'm saying at this time.
It's a very basic principle. It's a very basic concept which everyone agrees with yet nobody does anything about. Nobody does anything about it, Mr. Speaker. How long are we going to have to wait? Isn't 2,000 years long enough, Mr. Member for Delta, (Mr. Davidson), through you, Mr. Speaker? We've been waiting 2,000 years for married women to be treated as equals before the law, in the same way that other people are. How much longer do we have to wait?
It should have been the first piece of legislation dealt with by that government, which is so concerned about the rights of the individual that it has brought down some really good pieces of legislation — the ombudsperson. It has a sexist title. They call it an ombudsman but I know they mean ombudsperson. I'm going to move an amendment when the time comes, because I'm sure that they're not suggesting that only men should apply for that $52,000-a-year job. I'm sure that that is not what they are saying when they call the bill an ombudsman bill. I'm sure they recognize that on this earth, walking the face of this earth, there are others than men, right?
There is the auditor-general bill which we supported, basic legislation dealing with the rights of individuals. Why haven't the rights of the married women of this province been taken into account? How do you explain that, Mr. Speaker? And I'm using the "you" collectively because, of course, you represent all of the people of this province as you sit in that chair, not just as the representative of Chilliwack, or even of yourself as a person, but you represent all of us when you sit in that chair. So when I put a question to you, Mr. Speaker, I'm putting it to our government, to your government, to the government of this entire province.
Why was this bill permitted to sit on the books as a private member's bill when everyone knows full well that the tradition of the land is that private member's bills are not allowed to become law? Why? Why didn't the Attorney-General introduce legislation dealing with the whole area of community of property as an indication that, during his tenure of office anyway, all people in this province were going to be deemed to be equal before the law? Can you answer that question, Mr. Speaker? You can't. Neither can I and neither can any of the women married or unmarried, in this province who have failed to understand why, despite all of their protestations, their submissions, all of the contributions that they've made to this province and to this country, they're still being penalized.
Tell me something, Mr. Speaker. Is marriage legal or is it illegal? When a woman gets married, does she commit an illegal act? It's legal. Then if it is legal, why is she punished for it?
This is why I hoped the Attorney-General would have been here, so he could have explained to the House and to us why it is that after Mr. Justice Berger has carried through his deliberations, has accepted briefs and submissions from individuals as well as groups, including some of the churches, including some legal bodies, why when the bar association of B.C. has come out in support of his recommendations, why when various groups, including all the women's groups in this province, have written to him, individually and collectively, why it is when he was lobbied on March 22 by representatives from the women's groups around the province, all in support of this piece of legislation, he has still made no attempt, no effort to introduce into this province, to put on the books of this province, a law that would right this historical and traditional wrong.
You see, Mr. Justice Berger says that he believes it is possible that in recommending the adoption of full and immediate community of property as a system of matrimonial property for this province...that in doing this he is acknowledging the equality of men
[ Page 2535 ]
and women within the institution of marriage. That's Mr. Justice Berger.
Then he says: "Finally, it is a system which, upon the breakdown, divides the community of property on the basis that it was in fact shared equally while the marriage was intact." In fact we accept that; you accepted it when I told you the story about Mrs. Murdoch — that during the duration of that marriage she shared and worked equally within it. Why is it then that the law will accept that during the marriage things are shared equally, but at the dissolution of the marriage suddenly they all belong to just one partner, and none of it belongs to the other?
We go back to this whole adversary system where she has to hire a lawyer, he has to hire a lawyer and then the battle is joined over who shall get what, who acquired what, who contributed what and why. Again, I repeat that it accepts the concept of the system which, upon the breakdown, divides the community of property on the basis that it was in fact shared equally while the marriage was intact; therefore it is just and equitable that the division be made final when the marriage dissolves.
Now there isn't anyone in this House who can question the fairness of Mr. Justice Berger. He is surely a member of the bench, like so many members of our bench, of whom we are all very proud. There isn't anyone who has ever questioned the makeup of the family law commission; no one has ever questioned that. There is no one who questions the way in which the commission conducted itself. In fact the hearings were all held in a way to ensure that everyone who wanted to participate could participate. Why then are we questioning, or why have we failed to act on the recommendations?
You know, Mr. Speaker, the recommendations are so fair they even take into account that one party to the marriage may win the Western Lottery, or the $1 million lottery, and that it wouldn't be fair if one partner invested $10 and won $1 million that then both partners should say that half a million of that is mine. The recommendation even takes into account that windfalls, inheritances and other things that may acquire to one member of the marriage during the duration of the marriage need not be considered community of property.
It really has been very well researched; it has been very well studied. He has looked at California, he has looked at Washington, he has looked at Great Britain and a number of places around the world.
AN HON. MEMBER: And it's been very well ignored, too.
MS. BROWN: And it's been very well ignored. He's looked at Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, the federal government, Great Britain — and I said the United States, including Washington, California and other areas.
Think of a possibility that could happen, Mr. Speaker. He talks about capital gains for those people who play the stock market. He talks about pensions, because it is still possible in this province that as a married man you can take out a pension on your life that stops the day you die. Do you know that? There have been instances — and it is still possible — that two people who have been sharing a pension, his pension, and that has been their means of support, can suddenly find that on the death of the husband that woman has nothing.
Do you realize, Mr. Speaker, that there are still men in this province who will contribute to that kind of pension scheme, and that it's okay? It's the law; it's legal. You can be supported one day by your husband's pension — the two of you — and then he dies and you wake up the following morning and not only have you lost him; you've lost the pension too.
How can we permit those kinds of injustices? We can do it as long as we can say that we didn't know, that we had no idea these kinds of things were happening. But we can't say that now. We can't say that any more, because Mr. Justice Berger's report has exposed to the entire world these injustices — the world including the government. The government now knows about those unjust pension and superannuation schemes; the government now knows about the laws on the books that penalize a woman the moment she becomes married, about those unjust insurance schemes and everything else. The government has even had an opportunity to compare the way in which it has been handled in other parts of the world with the way in which it has been handling it to date. The facts are there.
Mr. Speaker, if this is too thick and it is too long, an abridged version has been put out by the commission — a very short one for people who haven't got the time to read the whole thing — which has the preamble and the recommendations. It covers the contracting out of community of property, the transition, the taxation, what happens to the matrimonial home, pensions, everything. It's right here.
Oh, the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Gardom) is back. I am so pleased, Mr. Speaker, that the Attorney-General is back.
MS. BROWN: Before you leave, Mr. Attorney-General, I pointed out to the House in your absence that the fate of all the married women in this province is in your hands.
AN HON. MEMBER: And God help them! (Laughter.)
[ Page 2536 ]
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
MS. BROWN: Yes. I hope you have big hands, Mr. Attorney-General; I hope you have big hands. But most of all, I hope you have a very open mind on this issue of the....
HON. MR. GARDOM: What about all the married men?
MS. BROWN: No, the married men, Mr. Speaker, have been taken care of by the laws of this land. The married men have been very well taken care of by the laws of this land.
MS. BROWN: Oh, I am glad that the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) is back because I was talking about the office you have set up....
MS. BROWN: No, no, I was speaking about the member for Burnaby's (Mr. Loewen's) wife. There was some misunderstanding about her sleeping every afternoon.
MS. BROWN: That's right; that's true. Your wife is a married woman, in which event I am fighting her case too, certainly.
MS. BROWN: In a sense, Mr. Speaker.... Are you caught up in this strange thing that is going on here — that I am trying to get the members of the government to bring in legislation which will benefit their own wives? It is strange, isn't it? You are not fighting for your wives; I am fighting for your wives.
MS. BROWN: Yes. You haven't got a wife. Let the record show that the member for Delta (Mr. Davidson) has no wife, Mr. Speaker.
HON. H.A. CURTIS (Minister of Municipal Affairs): My wife doesn't want you fighting for her.
MS. BROWN: Okay, the member for Saanich and the Islands (Hon. Mr. Curtis), his wife does not want me to fight for her. She doesn't want her share of his property.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I want to make my position absolutely clear, that the....
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I want to make my position clear that I am certainly not speaking on behalf of the wives of any of the members who would prefer that I not, quite frankly. If the member for Saanich and the Islands has been delegated by his wife the right to stand in this House and make speeches on her behalf...
MS. BROWN: Delegated, not designated.
...to say that she is not interested in community of property, I accept that. Certainly I wouldn't say that the law should be compulsory and that any wife, who doesn't want to avail herself of the bill should be forced to do so.
But, Mr. Speaker, I think there is something very ironic, quite frankly, about the fact that all of the members, with the exception of the member for Delta, have wives who are being penalized under this law — penalized under the law as it presently stands on the books — and yet they have been strangely silent.
MR. SPEAKER: May I suggest to you, Hon. Member, that the laws that are on the books are not the subject of the principle? It is the subject of the principle that we are supposed to be debating, the Community of Property Act, which is now before the House.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I appreciate your statement.
MR. CHABOT: Can I speak on it now?
MS. BROWN: Sure, as soon as I am through, you will have your turn. But I want to point out to the Speaker....
MR. CHABOT: You said we were strangely silent. I want to speak on the bill. Are you going to give me a chance?
MR. LEA: You're stranger when you're not silent.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker...
[ Page 2537 ]
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard has the floor.
MS. BROWN: ...he is trying to muzzle me! The member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot) is challenging my democratic right to stand on the floor of this House.
MS. BROWN: You are trying to muzzle me. You are trying to muzzle me, Mr. Member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot) . Please defend me, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: I am sure, Hon. Member, that if that appears to be occurring the Chair will protect you.
MS. BROWN: Thank you. I feel good when the Chair protects me. I appreciate it. I know I am really being protected when the Chair is protecting me, Mr. Speaker.
But what I wanted to point out to you is that, in fact, in speaking to the principle of this Community of Property Act, Bill 39, one has to recognize that the principle of the bill is dealing with historical and traditional wrongs of bills presently in existence in the province of British Columbia. So it's not possible to talk about introducing this kind of legislation without some reflection on the bills which have been in existence for such a very long time — ever since our inception, quite frankly, as a province — which penalize and punish those women who dare to marry in this province.
Mr. Speaker, the other area which is of great concern to a number of people has to do with damages for personal injury, damages for medical expenses, lost earnings and all of these things. Again the recommendation included in the sixth report on matrimonial property brought down by Mr. Justice Berger deals with this. He says that where damages are paid for permanent disability, the court in the winding up of the community will have power to restore all or part of the damages to the disabled spouse. I really don't think it's possible for us to think of anything that hasn't been covered in this very excellent report or any area that hasn't been covered by Mr. Justice Berger and his commission in looking into the whole area of matrimonial property.
I also want to point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that this is just the end of a very long and arduous task which was began many years ago. In fact, in 1967 when the Royal Commission on the Status of Women was tabled in the federal House, recommendation 105 of that report asked for the concept of equality of both partners in marriage — in 1967.
Now we are well on our way to being 10 years since that report was tabled in the House and it is to our shame, quite frankly, and to our disgrace that the recommendation has not been implemented. No attempt has been made on the part of the federal government to deal with recommendation 105. The previous government tried. The previous government tried to deal with it in a learned and scholarly way to be sure that it was absolutely fair and that no one was penalized as a result of it.
I do not believe in the concept and my government did not believe in the concept of substituting one wrong with another. You don't stop penalizing married women by penalizing married men. But in fact what we were talking about was treating them both as equals before the law.
Now, we are just as concerned about protecting the rights of men in marriage as we are concerned about protecting the rights of women. This is the reason why — and the first member for Victoria (Mr. Bawlf) who asked the question is not here — the decision was made that rather than introduce a piece of legislation into the House, everyone could be heard who was concerned about this issue. Everyone could have input who was interested in this issue. Finally, Mr. Speaker, that commission submitted its recommendations to this House.
Now I recognize that it's quite possible that the present government may not agree with all of the recommendations. That's not the point. I accept that, certainly, the government has the right to interpret the recommendations as it sees fit and I realize that they may not agree with all the recommendations. But if they did not agree with all the recommendations, at least the Attorney-General could have referred the recommendations, or indeed the entire report, either to a special committee, as is being done in terms of looking for an auditor-general, or to one of the legislative committees which have been duly constituted in this House. Some indication should have been made or could have been made that the government took the recommendations seriously and was seriously concerned about them and wanted to move in a direction, one way or the other, on this issue.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, nothing has happened, and when the women's rally took place on March 22, a number of women who lobbied the Attorney-General, who, I am very happy to see, is back in the House, discussed with him the possibility of the government introducing legislation which would deal with the concept of community of property.
I waited to see what the Attorney-General would do. I waited to see what impact that lobby had on him. I waited to see what would result from the fact that a large number of letters had been written to the Attorney-General about this particular report No. 6 of the Family and Children's Law Commission, and nothing happened.
[ Page 2538 ]
It wasn't until I realized that the government was not about to move on those recommendations. It wasn't until I realized that the government had no intention either of introducing legislation on community of poverty, or of setting up a special committee to look into Mr. Justice Berger's recommendation, or indeed of referring it to one of the legislative committees — either the one on health, education and human resources or the committee on labour and justice, or any committee of his choosing. It was not until I realized that that the decision was made by me to introduce a private member's bill.
I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I recognized at the time of the introduction of this bill that it would not be accepted as law, because tradition stands. I respect tradition when it doesn't penalize people. I respect tradition. Tradition stands that private members' bills are not accepted as law. I know it's possible to break tradition and it's possible to do things differently, but what I had really hoped was, as a last resort, that seeing this bill on the books the Attorney-General would have been exercised and would have been moved to take seriously and to start doing something about the report No. 6 of the Berger commission and the recommendations enclosed therein.
I had hoped that the Attorney-General would have asked me to withdraw Bill 39 and would have himself, on behalf of his government, introduced legislation dealing with this very, very vital matter to all of us as people in this province.
Surely it has been as important as the other pieces of legislation brought down by the government. I cannot accept, Mr. Speaker, that the minister has not had enough time. As I brought to your attention, yesterday 16 pieces of legislation were introduced into this House. Today there were an additional three or four pieces of legislation. We have to date — I don't know — 30 or 40 bills brought into this House.
Surely, Mr. Speaker, a very basic principle such as equality of human beings before the law is as important as some of the other bills introduced by that government. Surely it is as important. That is really the crux of this debate and that is the principle involved in this bill: that all persons — it didn't say all men, and it didn't say all women, but all persons — shall have equal protection under the law.
I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that married women in this province do not have equal protection under the law. The Attorney-General agrees with that. He admits that. He accepts that. He knows that to be true. If no one else in his government does, he certainly knows that to be true. Isn't that as important as a cigarette and tobacco tax amendment Act, Mr. Speaker? Isn't the question of equality before the law as important as a cigarette and tobacco tax amendment Act? Isn't it, Mr. Speaker?
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, to discuss principles of other bills before the House when we're not on those bills is improper in debate.
MS. BROWN: Sure.
MR. SPEAKER: So I would suggest to you that you return to the principle of the bill which is presently under discussion.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry — there's a misunderstanding. I was not discussing the principle of the Cigarette and Tobacco Tax Amendment Act. I was merely using the name and saying that surely the concept of equality before the law is a more basic concept to this province and this country than one involved in a tobacco and cigarette amendment act.
As one of my colleagues just pointed out to me, 58 government bills have been introduced since the beginning of this session — 58 government bills. As I've pointed out, those included some very important bills dealing with equality and justice before the law, such as the ornbudsperson legislation and the auditor-general one, if I may be permitted to call those by name without discussing the principle. But none of the others deal with the principle of equal protection under the law that this Bill 39 does.
In the five months since its inception as government, for the entire period of that time with this report at its disposal, surely the government, surely the Attorney-General, could have taken some time to indicate one way or another its intention of moving on the recommendations brought down by this report.
Mr. Speaker, it's very difficult for me to stand up here and flail away at the government of the province for something that not even the federal government has seen fit to do at this point. But again I want to repeat....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It happens that the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard has the floor at the moment, and not the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. King) or the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Gardom).
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I thought the Attorney-General was indicating that he's accepting this piece of legislation. No, he's turned a deaf ear, once again, to the married women of this province. Or even if he would use the cards given to the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Phillips), Mr. Speaker, and say yes or no on this, the basic principle.
The other principle has to do with property. I know how important property is to all people, that nobody gives it up willingly. But the principle is that
[ Page 2539 ]
no one person in a marriage acquires it; it's the two people working equally as partners that result in the acquisition.
When I talk about property, I'm not just talking about land. You realize, Mr. Speaker, that I'm using property in its existential form. I'm not just talking about land; I'm talking about all the assets acquired by those two people during the lifetime of that marriage.
I'm also talking about the concept of equality being accepted during the marriage — not just waiting until the dissolution of the marriage, but during the entire duration of the marriage, from the moment that those two people come together and are pronounced as man and wife — that the concept of everything accrued as of that point should be seen to be acquired jointly, to be shared equally and to belong to both of them as equal partners in the marriage.
At the end of the marriage, Mr. Speaker — in the very sad event that it should be necessary for the marriage to be dissolved — at that point, the extension of that concept would come into being — that, in fact, just as Mr. Justice Berger said, in the same way that we accepted that they shared it equally during marriage, at the end of it this should be shared equally.
Now this is not a one-sided thing either in every instance. There have been instances, on very rare occasions, when the person in the marriage who acquired most of the assets was the woman. There have been those very rare occasions, Mr. Speaker. But again, if one used both partners as equal in terms of what happens after the marriage comes into being, then fairness will prevail, even to the very end.
So I want it understood that when I'm speaking, although I speak primarily of married women, I recognize the right of married men too. The only reason I've not laid as much stress on what happens in the event it is reversed and it is the woman who has most of the property, and the man is petitioning for a share of it, is because this is a very rare exception. It is not the rule. But I think that if we deal with the rule, the exception will take care of itself.
Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important that the concept of equality must exist during the lifetime of the marriage. It is not good enough for the government or for the law to say that we will discuss equality at the dissolution of the marriage. The examples I gave you before, in terms of acquiring credit, building up some form of credit rating, in trying to purchase property, negotiate loans, or mortgages or whatever, are dependent on this concept of both people in the marriage being equal owners and being equal partners in the ownership of the assets that presently constitute the property inside the marriage.
I know that in Ontario, for example, the concept of equality comes into force at the dissolution of the marriage. Mr. Justice Berger's position, and the position of his commission, is much more enlightened than that, and takes into account the concept of equality throughout the entire duration of the marriage. What this means is that no one partner, for example, can sell the family home without the consent of the other partner.
There are a number of very tragic stories, Mr. Speaker, which can be related, of women finding themselves with the family home being sold without their even having any knowledge about it until the deed was completed. That kind of injustice would be prevented if this bill were the government's bill, and if this legislation were the law of this province.
I don't want to have to go back again, Mr. Speaker, and talk about the inequities that exist in the insurance and pension schemes, and in the other assets that the man who works outside of the home can continue to acquire and accrue and build up, while the woman who remains inside the home, working and contributing — whether the law chooses to accept that or not — working and contributing as an equal partner, is deprived of any of these.
As I said, it also takes into account that should any one partner be so lucky as to have a windfall, as to suddenly come into an inheritance — a rich uncle should die or something, or to find that they've won the Western Canada Lottery, or whatever — this would not be considered as property accrued, because no one worked for it. It was as the result of the investment of one person or the great good fortune of one person. But the right would be there — if they wanted to interpret it as joint property they could, but the law would not demand that it should be so.
The other thing is, Mr. Speaker, that in the division of property — I'm talking of dissolution — there should not be discrimination against either of the partners involved because of the role assumed by that particular partner in the marriage. This goes right back to my statement about the contribution that women make which is not deemed to be valuable in terms of the gross national product, or in terms of the economy of the province.
I'm glad to see that the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Phillips) is sitting in his seat because, you know, this is something again which I'm going to be asking his department to measure, because unfortunately we live in a society in which most things are measured in terms of dollars and cents. So many women involved in the struggle for equality before the law, and after, are beginning to find that when you're dealing with governments, or any other institution for that matter, unless you can put down a measurement in terms of dollars and cents of your contribution or of your work, it is not taken seriously, and it is not deemed to be important.
So I certainly hope that the Department of
[ Page 2540 ]
Economic Development is taking into account the input — the economic and financial input — of the married woman in this province into the financial strand of the province as a whole. I notice the minister is writing, so I hope that he's taking down notes on that.
But, you know, Mr. Speaker, this business of the role of people in a marriage is very important. The role of the husband and the role of the woman in the marriage have been so set down by society, and so entrenched, that it's almost impossible to change them.
I have with me, and I want to recommend to the House, a very interesting book which was written by a man about the role of the male, not just in society but certainly in the marriage and the family as a whole. It's called "The Male Machine." I really would like to recommend it very highly to both the males and females in the House.
"The Male Machine" by Mark Fasteau deals with the real difficulty that men have in terms of breaking out of the stereotype and the role that society has laid upon them. A lot of studies have been done, a lot of work has been done, about the role of women in society, about the stereotypes that we are locked into, and about the almost impossibility in terms of changing these roles and moving out of them, expanding them, widening them and building on them. But very little study has been given to the entrapment of men by their roles and by their stereotypes, which result in this kind of iniquitous legislation, Mr. Speaker, sitting on the books of this province for its more than 100 years of existence, and certainly of the western world for all of its years of existence. So I think it should be made compulsory reading. Maybe instead of reading Orders of the Day sometime, the Clerks could read into the record every day a paragraph or a chapter from this book "The Male Machine."
AN HON. MEMBER: Just a paragraph.
MS. BROWN: Just a paragraph or two, Mr. Speaker. I won't let it hamper the principle of the bill.
If I may be allowed to read the dedication, it says: "For Brenda, who showed me what it means to love another person."
So you see it starts out really well, Mr. Speaker, but the introduction to the book was written by Gloria Steinem, and deals specifically with how important it is to us as human beings to finally have a definitive study done about the real oppression of men by the stereotypes of society and the rules which they have been locked into. That's what we're trying to break. That's what I'm trying to break with this piece of legislation: the stereotype that says that the man has to take care of the woman all the days of her life. That's the kind of stereotype that this piece of legislation confronts, Mr. Speaker, and deals with: the stereotype that says that he is strong, and he's capable, and he's competent, and she is not any of these things and has to be taken care of for all the days of her life.
This piece of legislation says that that is not true, that in the same way that they were born into this world as equal human beings at birth, they have developed as equal human beings, and that when the law says that that is not so, then it is the law that is wrong, and it is the law that must be changed. This legislation, Mr. Speaker, gives the government an opportunity to deal legally — through the law — with some of those institutions and roles and stereotypes that enslave and entrap and oppress men in the same way that they enslave and trap and oppress women.
Mr. Speaker, it's frightening, isn't it? Any change is frightening. Nobody likes to change anything. Even the role of being oppressed can be comfortable once you've learned to live with it. Even the role of being an oppressor can become very comfortable once you've learned how to use it — and abuse it.
In the final analysis, Mr. Speaker, all of us are the losers. When that kind of law is allowed to continue unchallenged or unchanged, none of us really benefit. Men don't benefit from the burdens placed on them to support a partner alone all of the days of their lives. Women don't benefit from being deprived of the right to own, to control, or to make decisions affecting their lives. What this piece of legislation does is to — challenge those stereotypes and to challenge those institutionalized roles which society has placed upon us.
That, Mr. Speaker, is the real reason why it's taken so long for this kind of legislation to be debated in this House — or in any House, for that matter. That is the real reason why the federal government has not moved on recommendations 105-107 of the royal commission report on the status of women. What those recommendations do, as this bill does, is to challenge those stereotypes, challenge those institutionalized roles, and say that it is time that they were changed. It's time for us to change them.
Mr. Speaker, everyone agrees that something is unfair. Everyone agrees that the decision handed down on the Murdoch v. Murdoch case was almost unjust. In the spiritual sense of the word it was unjust. It was not unjust in the legal sense of the word, because, of course, the law is very clear on that. Yet no one is really prepared to take on the risk of changing that. No government is prepared to deal with the risk of changing that.
We were prepared to deal with that risk, Mr. Speaker, and because we recognized the risk, we established the commission to go into all the details, look for all the pitfalls, and be sure that in trying to deal with one form of oppression we were not going
[ Page 2541 ]
to be institutionalizing another and that in trying to deal with one type of discrimination we were not going to be introducing a new form of discrimination ourselves.
I think we've done that, but I am willing to accept that there are some people, including the Attorney-General and the government, who may not be sure that we've done that. I'm willing to accept that the Attorney-General may question that, and that is the reason why, Mr. Speaker, it is so important that the recommendations laid down in this sixth report be dealt with, Mr. Attorney-General, through you, Mr. Speaker. Call a special committee. Ask them to check through in detail, look at it page by page, line by line, word for word or whatever.
HON. MR. GARDOM: Do you agree that it requires more input?
MS. BROWN: This is what I've been saying, Mr. Attorney-General, when you were out of the House. I am saying that I am willing to accept....
MS. BROWN: No, no, no. Mr. Speaker, if I may respond to the Attorney-General, I believe that there has been enough input. Since 1967 we've been looking at this business of matrimonial property. It's been nearly 10 years, and anyone who had anything to say or wanted to say anything, Mr. Speaker, has had the opportunity to say so. But I also accept that the Attorney-General and the government may feel that there is need for some more input. I accept that, and this is why I'm saying that if the Attorney-General had called a special committee together and referred this report to them and said to them — "Please, an analysis, an assessment. What is your recommendation?" — we would have been willing to accept that, or if the Attorney-General had referred this to one of the legislative committees. The Attorney-General, I think, himself is on the committee of labour and justice. I'm not sure, but I believe he is a member of the committee on labour and justice. Aren't you?
If the Attorney-General had referred this report to any of the legislative committees and asked them to do an assessment, asked them to do a study of it, we would have been willing to accept that. The women of the province would have been willing to accept that. All persons who are concerned about the injustice of the existing legislation would have been willing to accept that. But this has not been done, Mr. Speaker.
Now it is quite possible that there is some top secret work going on with this report. If that is so, I think it's only fair that the Attorney-General should reassure us, should stand up and reassure the House and say: "A study is being done, but it's a secret. A committee is looking into the report, but it's secret." Or: "There is a plan that it is going to be referred to a special committee. I am trying to get input from other jurisdictions or from other groups in the community." But the Attorney-General and the government have been very strangely silent on all of the recommendations and all of the reports brought down by Mr. Justice Berger's commission.
The Attorney-General introduced today — and I'm not reflecting on existing legislation — a statutes amendment Act. I asked him whether that included amendments to the Change of Name Act, another piece of legislation which was studied by Mr. Justice Berger, another report which was brought down. It is such a simple amendment. I was forced to introduce it myself again and it embarrasses me, Mr. Attorney-General, because I have tremendous respect for you and for your concern for all humankind. I really do.
HON. MR. GARDOM: You covered that already.
MS. BROWN: Yes, but what I'm saying is: what have you done about that?
MS. BROWN: You've given me a guarantee, okay.
MS. BROWN: The Attorney-General would like the record to show that he said he guarantees to look into the Change of Name Act.
Mr. Speaker, the real guarantee that I'm dealing with at this point has to do with community of property, has to do with the recommendations brought down in the sixth report of the royal commission on family and children's law, which was chaired by Mr. Justice Berger. That commitment from the Attorney-General on that would be deeply appreciated.
Mr. Speaker, it's probably not allowed, is it, for me to ask the Attorney-General a question through you? It's not allowed. That's too bad, because what I wanted to do was ask the Attorney-General through you whether he had read Bill 39 or not.
MS. BROWN: You have read Bill 39? Fine. Well, I certainly appreciate the record showing that at least the Attorney-General has read Bill 39, that the Attorney-General recognizes....
[ Page 2542 ]
MS. BROWN: Oh, the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. McClelland) has too. Very good. I appreciate that. So the members recognize that the principle involved here is that all persons shall have equal protection under the law.
HON. MR. GARDOM: Did Leo Nimsick draft this?
MS. BROWN: No, Mr. Speaker. This is not mining legislation and that's probably the reason that it hasn't been dealt with. This is not mining legislation. This deals with people, Mr. Consumer Services. This legislation deals with people, who I hesitate even to refer to as a resource. I know in some parts of the world people are referred to as a resource, but I hesitate even to use that term, because I certainly see them as being even more valuable than a resource.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, the member for Kamloops (Hon. Mr. Mair) tells me that I come to this bill well prepared. I want the member to know that I've been prepared since birth. Since the beginning of time, Mr. Minister of Consumer Services, I've been prepared for this legislation. It hasn't been necessary for me to read any books, although I have. It hasn't been necessary for me to do any research, although I have.
MS. BROWN: I got their message, Mr. Speaker, and they're all saying the same thing, because I know that every single member of that government has received letters dealing with this bill, Every one of them has received letters dealing with the report on matrimonial property. In five months when they've managed to bring down 58 pieces of legislation, including legislation dealing with tobacco and cigarettes and alcohol and everything else, they have not found the time to bring down legislation dealing with this very vital area of the lives of the married women of this province.
Mr. Speaker, the priorities are clear. That government has demonstrated its priorities very clearly in these 58 pieces of legislation which dealt with everything from mining to consumer services to tobacco to cigarettes to....
MR. E.N. VEITCH (Burnaby-Willingdon): Bicycles.
MS. BROWN: To everything. But nobody found the time to deal with this very basic concept of all persons being treated as equal and receiving equal protection under the law, Mr. Speaker, and that's a very, very sad statement to have to make about the people who are supposed to govern this province for the next couple of years. It's a very sad statement. I feel very sorry for the women of this province, married or unmarried.. One almost feels moved to recommend that no woman in this province should get married until this inequity has been dealt with. The member for Kamloops is supporting that recommendation. One almost feels moved to recommend as long as this inequity exists, as long as this injustice exists and this penalty on marriage exists, no woman in this province should get married.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, he's missed the point. The Minister of Consumer Services (Hon. Mr. Mair) has missed the point. The law as it exists does not penalize the man, Mr. Speaker — not the matrimonial or property law. I'm referring specifically to the matrimonial property legislation. The Minister of Consumer Services is a lawyer. The minister knows that the laws on the books dealing with the matrimonial property are weighted in favour of the males of the marriage. That spouse who chooses to work outside of the home is what I've been talking about, Mr. Speaker, for the last couple of minutes, since I got up to move second reading of this piece of legislation.
I am talking about the unfair treatment of women under the matrimonial property legislation in this province, under this separate legislation in this province. That's what I'm talking about, Mr. Minister. Do you agree with me?
MS. BROWN: No, just sit and listen. This is too serious a matter to trifle with. Why are you people always offering a deal? "If you sit down I'll do this; if you stand up I'll do this; if you turn around I'll do this." There are no deals. This is a serious matter, whether I stand up or sit down or turn around or whatever. There should be a commitment from the first member for Victoria (Mr. Bawlf), as well as from everyone that's over there, that this very serious business of equal protection under the law is a commitment that they're prepared to make. Who supports the bill?
MS. BROWN: Yes, but he's not the Attorney-General, Mr. Member. That's the person who has to bring this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I had a very important point to make and I've been interrupted so many times that....
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MR. J.J. HEWITT (Boundary-Similkameen): I have a headache.
MS. BROWN: Who has a headache? You would. A serious matter like this would give you a headache. That's for sure. I can accept that. The member for Boundary-Similkameen stood on his feet and spoke in impassioned tones of wine, Mr. Speaker. Wine has brought him to his feet. Grapes brought him to his feet. We couldn't get him to sit down when someone dared to suggest that the grapes being grown in the Boundary-Similkameen valley were not making first-class wine.
MR. SPEAKER: Grapes are not a matter of principle of this bill.
MS. BROWN: No, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member for Boundary-Similkameen (Mr. Hewitt) does not have the floor. You do. Now would you please address yourself to the bill?
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, the member for Boundary-Similkameen indicated to this House that he had a severe headache as a result of the fact that we are dealing with the serious matter of the rights of married women for equal protection under the law with everyone else. I was merely digressing for an instant to point out that the time when the member for Boundary-Similkameen leaped to his feet without a headache in this House was when the wine and grapes were being discussed. Now I am dealing with the rights of women and dealing with the rights of people and that member gets a headache. I am calling on the member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) to deal with that member's headache, as the only practising physician in this House. (Laughter.)
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): For a fee!
MS. BROWN: I think that will be covered.
Mr. Speaker, the Attorney-General pointed out in an aside across the floor of the House that he felt that the recommendations of the Berger commission needed further study. I am hoping that when the Attorney-General rises to speak in support of this bill and when the other members of the House — the member for Delta (Mr. Davidson), who has left, who indicated he would be speaking in support of the bill, and the first member for Victoria (Mr. Bawlf) — they will indicate to the House at least a plan for getting this further — input which the Attorney-General feels the government needs, and indicate to us that this report is going to be acted upon, that in fact there is a commitment from the government, through the Attorney-General, to see to the injustice which the persons in this province who are female and who are married have had to suffer down through the years.
I am not placing the blame on this present Social Credit government, Mr. Speaker, because in fact the legislation that penalizes us for being married in this province has been in existence for a long time. In fact it's legislation which was inherited. It's British law which has never been amended. So I think the blame has to be shared. The blame has to be shared with past governments. The blame has to be shared, quite frankly, by the women themselves in this province who, down through the ages, have not fought as hard as we should have fought to have the legislation changed in this area. We have not apprised ourselves of the facts. We have not made ourselves knowledgeable of the matrimonial property law or the law dealing with separate property that was in existence.
We have been content to fight each case as an individual when it applied to us and did not take the more global view of saying, "It's not good enough that I'll find a good lawyer to fight my case but, in fact, it is a law that should be changed so that other women wouldn't have to go through the kind of indignities that I have had to go through — and the kind of indignity that Mrs. Murdoch went through in her case and the kind of inequity and injustice."
I think all of us accept our share of the blame. But that is all behind us now, Mr. Speaker. The lack of evidence, the lack of knowledge, the lack of understanding can no longer be seen as an excuse. It's been researched; the facts are here. They are here in complete form. They're here in abridged form for those people who do not want to read.
MS. BROWN: Right. Like the budget. In abridged form for those members who do not want to read the entire report. So lack of information and lack of knowledge cannot any more be used as an excuse for the continuation of legislation which everyone accepts is clearly unjust and unfair. Nobody has disputed that fact. Not even the Attorney-General! None of the members, including the one with the headache from Boundary-Similkameen, has disputed that fact. The law as it stands on the books is very clearly unfair. Mr. Speaker. It is very clearly unfair! We all accept that. We all accept that the law must be changed. The government can change it willingly or the government can continue to sit there....
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I am being distracted again.
The government is going to sit there and be fought continually by this opposition and by the women's
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groups and by those other groups in this community. We are not going to give up, Mr. Speaker, and the Attorney-General may as well accept that fact. He is going to change that legislation sooner or later. The sooner he changes it the better for all of us, because I am sure there is no one in this House who wants to sit through me making this speech again — no one.
Mr. Speaker, there is only one way to ensure that I never have to make this speech again and that is for the Attorney-General and the government to introduce legislation that deals with the inequities presently in existence under the matrimonial property and separate property legislation in this province.
The only alternative is for the government to accept Bill 39, Mr. Speaker, and make it the law of this province. By doing so the government would have achieved two historic milestones in one day. It would have broken with tradition and accepted a private member's bill, which despite all of the breeze which the government brought to bear, including that of the member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot), would not be ruled out of order. It could break with tradition and accept the bill; they should accept it as clearly in order.
It could break with tradition, Mr. Speaker, and introduce legislation in this province which would ensure that all persons have equal protection under the laws of this province.
Ms. Brown moves adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Mrs. McCarthy moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.