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 17, 1976
[ Page 2719 ]
Williston appointment Mr. Lea — 2719
Richmond Private Hospital closure. Mr. Wallace — 2720
Designation of Jericho Hill School site. Mr. Gibson — 2720
Embarrassment to Speaker by Social Credit telegram. Mr. Kahl — 2721
Mr. Barrett — 2721
Mr. Gibson — 2722
Mr. Barrett — 2722
Mr. King — 2722
Mr. Speaker — 2722
Mr. Barrett — 2723
Committee of Supply: Department of Mines and Petroleum Resources estimates.
On the motion to reduce the minister's salary.
Mr. Lauk — 2723
Hon. Mr. McGeer — 2724
Mr. Lauk — 2727
Point of order
Suspension of Mr. Lauk from the service of the House — 2729
Committee of Supply: Department of Mines and Petroleum Resources estimates.
On the motion to reduce the minister's salary.
Mr.Cocke — 2730
Hon. Mr. Phillips — 2731
Mr. King — 2735
Hon. Mr. Mair — 2740
Mr. Lea — 2742
Mr. Davidson — 2746
Mr. Hewitt — 2747
Mr. Gibson — 2748
Hon. Mr. Waterland — 2750
Mr. Barrett — 2752
Mr. Wallace — 2753
Mr. Levi — 2755
THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 1976
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): Mr. Speaker, a question to the Premier. In view of the public statements made by the Premier and other cabinet ministers to the effect that political appointments would not be made to Crown-owned operations, can the Premier explain to the House the appointment of a defeated Social Credit cabinet minister, Mr. Williston, as president of B.C. Cellulose?
HON. W.R. BENNETT (Premier): Mr. Speaker, we've said that the B.C. Railway would not be operated politically from within the government and that it was our intention for Crown corporations as quickly as possible to remove cabinet ministers and the direct influence of government, and that cabinet ministers would only be associated with Crown corporations to report back to the Legislature. This is the political involvement that we talked about.
In the selection of personnel to run Crown corporations, they're not selected on a political basis — in fact, a non-political basis. Nobody is penalized if they have been a cabinet minister just as much as it's...necessary to have been one to be selected as a head of a Crown corporation or even to serve the province.
I would expect that most people in British Columbia, those who aren't interested in political attacks and motivation, will applaud the appointment of Ray Williston as the new head of the B.C. Cellulose Corp. I think regardless of which political party you're a member of.... His service to this province as a minister for 20 years has been praised by many. His service beyond that to New Brunswick and the fact that he was recognized by the United Nations, in being sent to other areas to help them with their forestry problems, certainly indicates that the respect with which they hold him should be felt, and is indeed felt, here in British Columbia.
I don't have to defend that appointment. I would say that that is one of the best appointments this government has made.
MR. LEA: Even after that long defence of something that was not going to be defended, I would like to ask the Premier a supplementary.
Could he confirm that there has been a commitment to another former Social Credit cabinet minister, namely Wesley Black, that he will head up the new Crown corporation, British Columbia Building Corp.?
HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no.
MR. LEA: No what — that he will not confirm it? What is the no to? I would like to know if the Premier is confirming that he will not be appointed to that board, or whether he's confirming.... What is he doing?
HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to help the member remember the phrasing in his question. He asked if a commitment has been made to any former cabinet minister — and he particularly named one, Mr. Wesley Black — that he would head a particular Crown corporation. I said no.
MR. LEA: Will the Premier then inform the House whether any ex-MLA or cabinet minister will be appointed to head up the British Columbia Building Corp.?
HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member that at the present time no one has been considered for the job, be he MLA or ex-cabinet minister, because the job has not yet been identified. Now I would also say that at the present time none of our members are considering resigning for a sum of $80,000 to make way for anyone in the private sector to take a seat in the Legislature.
MR. W.S. KING (Revelstoke-Slocan): Mr. Speaker, on a supplementary to the Premier: is it true that the government is planning the imminent announcement of Mr. Phil Gaglardi as the provincial ombudsman for British Columbia? (Laughter.)
HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I hate to keep correcting the opposition but, as they know, the bill has not yet been called for debate, and as they should well know, and as the member for Revelstoke-Slocan should know....
MR. D. BARRETT (Leader of the Opposition): Bring in Phil.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. MR. BENNETT: If the new second member for Vancouver East can contain himself in his excitement at being back on the payroll...
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MR. BENNETT: ...I'd like to explain to him, as well as the member for Revelstoke-Slocan,
[ Page 2720 ]
that the bill specifically states that the new ombudsman would be selected by an all-party parliamentary committee.
HON. MR. BENNETT: It's tragic that they haven't read the legislation, a piece of legislation we are proud to have introduced, and which should have been brought in before, a piece of legislation that, among other reforms, was never brought in by that tragedy that served this province the last three and a half years.
MR. KING: Further supplemental, Mr. Speaker: I just wonder why the Premier's got such a high, hysterical pitch to his voice today.
HON. MR. BENNETT: If it is, it's only in trying to emulate the former Premier, whose high notes set a record in this province. (Laughter.)
MR. BARRETT: I've never been hysterical in my whole life.
RICHMOND PRIVATE HOSPITAL CLOSURE
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, a non-musical question to the Minister of Human Resources: with regard to the further closure of another intermediate-care facility, namely Richmond Private Hospital, and the fact that the closure is caused by inadequate per-diem rates to cover the cost of operation, and since closure will seriously disrupt the lives of 81 patients, several of whom are in their 80s and 90s, will it be possible for the minister to alter his earlier decision to meet with the hospital owners after the current session and instead arrange an urgent meeting in the very near future?
HON. W.N. VANDER ZALM (Minister of Human Resources): Mr. Speaker, we certainly are distressed at the fact that this hospital has announced a possible closure on July 15 and in fact has advised the residents there that this will be so.
We've had continued correspondence with the owners of the hospital. We have suggested they should await the outcome of the review which is presently taking place between Health and Human Resources to establish not only an equitable rate, but a formula which might be used in place of the ad hoc methods that were in place previously with respect to dealing with the rates. We cannot deal with this one hospital because, certainly, if we deal with this hospital while the review is going on, we'll be faced with every hospital taking a similar action.
I can assure you, however, that we are still corresponding and communicating with the hospital. The suggestion was made that we purchase this facility. I have asked that he make a proposal giving a price or whatever other information he can give us. We have not received this as yet — however, the request was only recently made. And we will find alternate accommodation should the closure take place.
MR. WALLACE: Supplementary question: since this is an urgent, immediate situation, does the minister have contingency plans for the relocation of the 45 patients receiving social assistance? In that relocation what distances are involved in moving the patients from Richmond Private Hospital to their new location?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Yes, we have definite plans, Mr. Speaker, and the distance will not be great. It will be a short distance.
DESIGNATION OF JERICHO HILL
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): I have a question to the Minister of Education with respect to the decision to decentralize Jericho Hill School. Does the minister agree with Frances Fleming, who is assistant superintendent of integrated and support services, when she explained in The Columbian of May 31 that the reason for lack of consultation with parents, staff and the adult deaf community was: "We wanted to stay away from involving people with vested interests"?
MR. P.L. McGEER (Minister of Education): Mr. Speaker, I think that what the member says is absolutely correct. We do want to stay away from following policies of those with vested interests. We are interested in pursuing policies that will be helpful to the communicatively impaired.
Perhaps while I am on my feet I could answer the question which I took as notice from the hon. member yesterday with regard to Jericho Hill School. He asked about the terms of reference for Mr. Anderson, who is the co-ordinator there. His terms of reference are: first of all, to serve in the capacity of co-ordinator; secondly, to form a committee of teachers of the deaf to work with him in this capacity; and thirdly, to consult every parent of a profoundly deaf child presently attending Jericho Hill School to discuss the alternatives that are open — which are to board at Jericho Hill and attend a class there, to board at Jericho Hill and attend classes elsewhere, to board at home and attend classes at Jericho Hill, or to board at home and to attend classes elsewhere than at Jericho. The fourth term of
[ Page 2721 ]
reference is that no single parent will be forced to accept a placement with which they do not agree. Fifth, looking beyond the present situation, Mr. Anderson and his staff were instructed to evaluate every class for the profoundly deaf in the province to assist with the upgrading of services by making Jericho Hill a resource available throughout British Columbia.
Secondly the member asked whether there was a maximum number of beds or positions that would remain open at the Jericho Hill campus. It's a leading question, Mr. Chairman, because it does speak on behalf of the vested interests of those who are desirous of taking children who can do better outside the Jericho Hill milieu and, despite that, seeing that encouragement is given them to attend that institution. At the present time, Mr. Speaker, Tyler House has 42 students in residence and there are 20 empty beds in that one particular hall. Lawrence Hall, another of-the currently occupied residences, has 39 students and there's availability there for a further 11. Blake Hall for the blind has 30 students in residence and there are beds at the present time for another 40. In other words, in addition to the five buildings which are currently in surplus at Jericho, there are a total of 71 beds, that are empty. I repeat again, Mr. Speaker: the majority of the deaf children in British Columbia now are being taught, and taught successfully — more successfully than at Jericho — in their own communities. The objective of the Department of Education is to do the best thing possible for the communicatively impaired in the province of British Columbia.
MR. GIBSON: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I am surprised the minister doesn't consider parents and deaf as legitimate vested interests in this particular case. He mentioned again today in this House that there were five buildings at Jericho Hill School that are currently unused. Is the minister aware that one building is unused because it's the original school that is now condemned and until recently was to be demolished, and that another is the old gymnasium, not suitable for other uses? Individuals familiar with the schoolgrounds don't know what the other three buildings could possibly be. Could he tell us specifically the buildings he has in mind, in addition to the two I have quoted?
HON. MR. McGEER: I would be happy to provide the member with a map of Jericho Hill School and show him the surplus areas. I myself have toured the facility, and I must strongly disagree with the member, who I am not sure has toured that facility. The two buildings which he says are unusable might well be put to very good use for the people of British Columbia and save expensive facilities that might have to be built elsewhere instead.
MR. GIBSON: A final supplementary: First of all, I want to assure the minister that I have toured the site, and I didn't say those buildings were unusable. I was questioning his saying there were five unused. I would like to know when the terms of reference were issued for the Anderson committee.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, this is a matter that's been in the hands of the administrative officials in the department. I'll have to get the exact date for the member, but I will be pleased to do that. I would think it was about two or three months ago but I'll have to check.
MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry, Hon. Member, but the question period was terminated by the bell.
EMBARRASSMENT TO SPEAKER
BY SOCIAL CREDIT TELEGRAM
MR. L.B. KAHL (Esquimalt): Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to make a statement and file same with the House.
MR. KAHL: Mr. Speaker, on June 10 a telegram was sent to various municipal officials in northern British Columbia criticizing the role of the opposition in relation to Bill 58. This telegram was sent in the name of the Premier and those government MLAs from the northern constituencies. It has come to my attention, as government deputy caucus chairman, that the name of the Speaker of the House, the Hon. D. Edward Smith, was listed among those MLAs, in error. I want to assure this House and the hon. Speaker that the hon. Speaker took no part in the sending of this telegram and has obviously been embarrassed by this mistake because of the letter I received as deputy caucus chairman from you.
The error was one of inadvertence, and on behalf of the government caucus, I want to take this opportunity to correct any misapprehensions which may have resulted, convey my apologies to the House, and particularly to you, Mr. Speaker. I've apologized in writing to you on behalf of the Social Credit caucus.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, in response to the statement, I would like to know who has the authority on the government side to sign telegrams without checking with the MLAs who they're signing for. I would like to know who has been delegated authority and how that authority was delegated for one MLA to sign for another MLA without checking with the MLA before such signature appears. If that is the practice, it may spread to other parts of the House where telegrams are sent without checking
[ Page 2722 ]
with the MLA. I'd like to know whether or not any MLA gave up their right to be consulted before their name was put on any telegram or message. I think we need to know that, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the apology, but I want to know who had the authority to put a name on a telegram of another MLA without checking with the MLA first.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, this is a most important statement that the member for Esquimalt (Mr. Kahl) has made, and it clears up one problem but leads to another. I want to quote from May, where he says:
"Confidence in the impartiality of the Speaker is an indispensable condition of the successful working of procedure, and many conventions exist which have as their object not only to ensure the impartiality but also to ensure that his impartiality is generally recognized."
Mr. Speaker, this telegram of which the hon. member speaks, which was sent to numerous mayors along the British Columbia Railway line and a purportedly signed by Your Honour, among other MLAs, was exactly such an attack on the impartiality of the Speaker. I suggest to you, sir, that it is important to the integrity of your office, and to the impartiality, that an investigation be launched to determine exactly how it was that your signature came to be affixed and, in effect, forged by someone without your consent. I think it most important that such an investigation be undertaken by an appropriate committee of this House. I would ask Your Honour to so rule.
MR. SPEAKER: I'll take the matter under advisement, Hon. Member.
AN HON. MEMBER: A forgery. It's a forgery! He said it was a forgery. That's what it is.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. BARRETT: While taking the matter under advisement, could you please report back to the House whether or not you gave authority to anyone to use your name and if there is a system that is working in the House that allows MLAs to use other MLAs' names as signators without their permission?
As a further matter of privilege in your report, would you please inform us if this was initiated by another MLA or by a press secretary or a press release without checking with the MLAs concerned? I think it's very important, not only for the Speaker but for all of us. I believe that the sanctity of our signatures should be directly related to our authority to use those signatures, and I hope that there is no system whereby this has been going on.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, I just wish to add my expression of concern that this happened and that it's important the House know in more detail, by whatever mechanism, how it happened. I feel personally concerned since I played a role on opening day in challenging the election of the Speaker on the kind of grounds which are now being resurrected by the impact of this telegram. It therefore is a responsibility particularly, I think, on behalf of those of us who challenged the election of the Speaker and who have since taken no further part in perpetuating such kind of criticism. But now it is being raised again as a consequence of this particular telegram, and therefore I would certainly respect your judgment as to how you investigate this matter, but I say with great feeling that it is not adequate, in my view, that the House should accept the explanation that has just been given by the deputy caucus chairman.
MR. SPEAKER: I appreciate your words, Hon. Member, and they'll be taken into consideration in due course.
MR. KING: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think it's highly important that you, sir, in taking this matter under advisement, notify the House whether or not you were aware that your name had been attached to this telegram before the member for Esquimalt (Mr. Kahl) rose and gave the indication to the House this afternoon, and if so, why Mr. Speaker did not draw it to the attention of the House.
MR. SPEAKER: I'll take the matter under consideration, Hon. Member, in the reply that I bring back. I think you'll be satisfied that when I became aware of a telegram going out without my permission I took the necessary steps, as Speaker, to reprimand the Social Credit caucus.
MR. BARRETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's not a question of....
MR. SPEAKER: It's under advisement, Hon. Member, and you've already spoken twice to the matter.
[ Page 2723 ]
MR. BARRETT: You made a statement that you reprimanded Social Credit, and the matter is this, Mr. Speaker: if you were aware, you should have drawn the House's attention to it, not the Social Credit caucus. You are responsible to this House, Mr. Speaker, and we need an explanation of why you didn't bring it to the attention of the House but just to Social Credit.
We're all members of this House, not that caucus over there.
AN HON. MEMBER: Your voice is getting high.
MR. BARRETT: Absolutely shocking!
Orders of the day.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Schroeder in the chair.
ESTIMATES: DEPARTMENT OF MINES
AND PETROLEUM RESOURCES
On vote 130: minister's office, $80,964 — continued.
On the amendment.
MR. G.V. LAUK (Vancouver Centre): Mr. Chairman, yesterday, after extensive cross-examination of the minister and his estimates it was made clear that....
MR. LAUK: Not in estimates, my friend.
It was made clear that the minister was waffling, that the minister would not answer the questions that were clearly put to the minister, and I have heard from some people — who I don't necessarily agree with — that the minister was not intelligent enough to know what the proper procedure was for a minister under the circumstances.
Well, I say I don't agree that the minister is dumb, and I would not suggest that for a moment. I do not agree with those who say he is naive. I think that he might pretend sometimes to be naive, Mr. Chairman, but he's not naive.
He understands the conflict of interest involved in getting Mr. Lau to draft a giveaway mining bill. That's why, when he first talked about the committee that drafted the mining legislation — and this is to the press, The Vancouver Sun, June 5, page 32 — he called Mr. Lau a lawyer. He forgot all about the mining expertise which he was so fulsome in describing to this House yesterday.
That's why he would not introduce his bill, Mr. Chairman, written by his bosses in the mining industry, until after the by-election in Vancouver East. He knew the conflict of interest existed, and the Premier knew the conflict of interest existed, and they knew the public would know the conflict prior to that election.
The day after the election he tabled the bill. That's why he joined backbenchers yesterday in denying that he himself owns active B.C. mining stock. That in itself, Mr. Chairman, is proof that he understands there's a conflict. He said to this House yesterday, and I quote: "My only holding in the mining industry is a dog, " he said.
AN HON. MEMBER: A mongrel!
MR. LAUK: "It has a small silver prospect in the Yukon territory and absolutely no mining interest in British Columbia" — it's 890-1 of the Blues.
That was a defence, Mr. Chairman, but not a good one — a defence nevertheless — a defence which, by the way, acknowledges the guilt of those who do own stocks in B.C. mining companies who sit in this Legislature, and that's why, after telling the press on June 5.... I quote: "A committee of four, three from outside the Mines department, drafted the mining legislation." He said "drafted," Mr. Chairman. They were Jim Fyles, Deputy Minister of Mines, Jurgen Lau, lawyer, et cetera.
He told this House yesterday — page 890-2 of the Blues — and I quote: "That member well knows...." He's referring to me, Mr. Chairman.
"That member well knows that legislation is drafted by legislative counsel. Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation. Mr. Lau and the other people who worked on that committee presented a report to me; this report was then discussed at our planning and priorities committee in our cabinet. The levels of taxation were decided. This information was given to legislative counsel, and that is where the bill was drafted."
That is where the bill was drafted. And I repeat: "Mr. Lau," he says, "had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation."
In saying that, he called none other than Mr. Jurgen Lau a liar, for Mr. Lau has said — and let me be accurate in quoting what he said — The Vancouver Province, page 1, today: "Of course I saw it. I was assisting in drafting it. If you assist in drafting it, you can't help but see it."
I want to ask the minister now. I want to give him the opportunity to stand in this House and clarify his statement made in the Legislature as an MLA and minister of the Crown. Under oath to Her Majesty, as minister of the Crown, he said, Mr. Chairman, that
[ Page 2724 ]
Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation. I ask the minister now to stand in his place in this House and say that that was not a correct statement. I want him to admit that he knew — which he did know — that Mr. Lau did draft the legislation.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The Minister of Education.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! Let him speak for himself.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order! Order, please.
AN HON. MEMBER: The minister of war.
AN HON. MEMBER: The defence mechanism.
AN HON. MEMBER: The Henry Kissinger of the government.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. May we have order on both sides?
AN HON. MEMBER: Let's have the dirt.
HON. P.L. McGEER (Minister of Education): Mr. Chairman, it had not been my intention to speak on this amendment....
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
AN HON. MEMBER: But you couldn't contain yourself.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
HON. MR. McGEER: I reviewed some of the news — the things that were said by the member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) in the Blues, which constitute a maligning not only of myself but of other members of the House. The member, Mr. Chairman, suggested that somehow I was guilty of an improper position in this House — and other members, too — on account of holding mining stock in this province and therefore profiting, theoretically, from a change in policy on the part of this government, whose intention it is to put back on its feet an industry that was virtually destroyed by the irresponsibility of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett), the member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) and the Attorney-General and other cabinet members of the former New Democratic government.
HON. MR. McGEER: One of the measures brought in by the former Attorney-General — a measure that I support, Mr. Chairman — was the public officials disclosure Act. I voted for that piece of legislation, and I thought that the Attorney-General....
MR. LAUK: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Order, please. Your point of order?
MR. LAUK: Mr. Chairman, when I raised the question first off at estimates today, in committee, I asked the question of the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Waterland). I suggested that he lied. I suggested that that lie must be admitted here today in an apology to the committee. In the meantime, the Minister of Education has interrupted these proceedings with a red herring of an argument. That is not in the parliamentary conventions of this committee or this House.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Let me take this opportunity, Mr. Minister, to remind all hon. members that that is not a legitimate point of order. The proper procedure — although I did not wish to interrupt you — is to wait until the end of the speech and, if there are any inaccuracies or any corrections to be made, then that is the time to make them.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, at the time that bill was brought forward, there was a considerable outcry on the part of many reasonable people who held public office in British Columbia, many of them at the local level of government, who, while agreeing in principle with that legislation, were worried that in the hands of irresponsible individuals at some future time they might be unjustly maligned by publicity that was totally unjustified and unfair being brought forward by a person who lacked principle.
AN HON. MEMBER: Right on!
HON. MR. McGEER: Now, Mr. Chairman, we're in precisely that position with respect to the statements made by the member for Vancouver Centre yesterday.
AN HON. MEMBER: Right on!
[ Page 2725 ]
HON. MR. McGEER: He has done a disservice to the people of British Columbia, to many members of this House, to a piece of legislation that may have been well-conceived but which had this fatal error in it, which could be exploited by a person lacking principle.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I don't own any mining stock in British Columbia.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) on a point of order. State your point of order.
MR. LAUK: The Minister of Education attacks me by saying that I am without principle. I demand that he withdraw any imputation of my character.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. LAUK: Mr. Chairman, the point of order is this: he is imputing that I lack principle in bringing to public view...
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!
MR. LAUK: ...this behind-the-scenes coverup behind this legislation.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Order, please. May I ask the hon. minister if he was imputing any improper motive to the first member for Vancouver Centre?
HON. MR. McGEER: Well, I suppose, Mr. Chairman, that within his standards...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
HON. MR. McGEER: ...he is not guilty of any improper motives.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Withdraw.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! I have to ask the hon. minister: were you imputing any improper motives?
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, I will....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! May I ask the hon. minister: were you imputing any improper motives to the first member for Vancouver Centre?
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, I will with pleasure withdraw and ask the member, following my remarks, to search his conscience. Is that fair?
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. He withdraws.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, the implication was clearly made in the statements by the member for Vancouver Centre, and repeated in the press yesterday, that I, as one member of this House, owned mining stock in British Columbia and therefore might profit by the bill brought down by the hon. Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Waterland). The point I wish to make is that I own no mining shares in British Columbia. I have two certificates of folly, one a mining corporation that went out of business some 20 years ago in the province of Ontario, and never held any claims in British Columbia and never had any pretensions to hold any claims.
MR. LAUK: Are you sure?
HON. MR. McGEER: The stock is worthless. I would be happy to give it to the hon. member, Mr. Chairman, as a gift.
I also, Mr. Chairman....
MR. LAUK: Are you sure?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
HON. MR. McGEER: I also, Mr. Chairman, would be pleased to give as a gift to the hon. member for Vancouver Centre the other certificate of folly, which is for a non-existent or defunct copper property in the Yukon Territories. Other members may have mining stock in other provinces and British Columbia. I hope for their sake that they are not certificates of folly, as are mine.
The point, Mr. Chairman, is simply this: that information was available to the member who raised this issue on the floor of the House, trying to draw an improper imputation to myself, to other members of this House and to the minister. He failed to determine whether or not the information he was presenting to this House was false or true. He failed to act in a responsible fashion. The reason why.... People who refused to run for public office at the time the Attorney-General brought that bill down were people who anticipated that elected to public life in British Columbia would be people of the calibre of the member for Vancouver Centre.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, I think in this
[ Page 2726 ]
respect it is worthwhile for the former Attorney-General to review his position, because it was the former Attorney-General who sponsored this bill, enthusiastically supported by the NDP caucus, with the idea it would let sunshine in, in the affairs of the province of British Columbia.
MR. A.B. MACDONALD (Vancouver East): So it has, and you know it!
HON. MR. McGEER: "So it has," said the former Attorney-General. Yet who was the man who first hired Mr. Lau, who was so severely criticized by the member for Vancouver Centre at the time he demanded that the Minister of Mines resign? Mr. Chairman, it was the Attorney-General who first hired that consultant. And what did he hire the consultant to do? The former Attorney-General hired that consultant to draft mining legislation for the province of British Columbia and for the NDP government.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, what were those bills that this man worked on — this man who the member for Vancouver Centre has demanded that the Minister of Mines resign on account of? He worked for the Attorney-General on the drafting of Bill 44; he worked for the Attorney-General drafting Bill 101; he worked for the Attorney-General drafting Bill 92, the Coal Act. In each of these cases the bills were message bills. But that consultant was paid and hired by the Attorney-General.
Mr. Chairman, we don't say that that is wrong, but by the NDP's own standards, why was it that the Attorney-General, at the time he hired that consultant, did not disclose to this House and to the people of British Columbia the mining interests of the man he engaged?
Why didn't he do that? Why was it, Mr. Chairman, that that member sat as a backbencher during those years and didn't demand the resignation of the Attorney-General, as he demanded the resignation of the Minister of Mines? Where were his standards then? Where were they? Where was his conscience then?
HON. MR. McGEER: Is this the minister who was so unsure of himself when he left office that he had to take his files with him? — and which the government may have to move to attempt to recover.
AN HON. MEMBER: The people's files.
HON. MR. McGEER: Did the member for Vancouver Centre complain about...? Did he sell mining stocks short after he drafted those bills? Did he make a profit on it, Mr. Chairman?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. LAUK: The hon. Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer) has just accused me of breaching the law. He's dropped an innuendo — did I sell mining stocks short?
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, no!
MR. LAUK: It's a breach of the law, Mr. Chairman. Ask him to withdraw that remark.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!
We can clear the matter just by asking the minister: were you imputing any improper motive to this member for Vancouver Centre?
HON. MR. McGEER: No, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The answer is?
HON. MR. McGEER: No, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
HON. MR. McGEER: The member is agitated, Mr. Chairman, and he's not listening to what was said. I said, did Mr. Lau make money by selling mining stocks short?
HON. MR. McGEER: It certainly is, Mr. Chairman. Because if he did, then he would have violated the code of ethics that he has as a member of the bar and he should be disbarred.
Mr. Chairman, if the member for Vancouver Centre thinks that took place at the time he was a consultant to the NDP drafting their legislation or at the time he acted as consultant to the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Waterland) drafting this legislation, then he should step outside the House and make that accusation so the member can defend himself. I'm talking about Mr. Lau.
Mr. Chairman, let the member for Vancouver Centre put his honour where his mouth is outside in the corridor and make that charge. If he has neither the courage not the honour to do that, then let him
[ Page 2727 ]
resign for conflict of interest right here in this House. Mr. Chairman, I find it very interesting that the Leader of the Opposition has suddenly left this chamber. Because he knows, just as the former Attorney-General (Mr. Macdonald), the former Premier (Mr. Barrett) and the former Minister of Mines know perfectly well, that in the fall of 1973 this same consultant was called over to a meeting here in Victoria and was shown the Mineral Royalties Act before it was brought into this House as a message bill. I'm saying the people who were present at that meeting were the former Premier, the former Attorney-General, the Deputy Attorney-General and the senior counsel for drafting that legislation.
Mr. Chairman, if that was so wrong, why didn't the Attorney-General, who sponsored this conflict-of-interest legislation, declare that before the House? Why didn't the Premier who was yesterday demanding the resignation of the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Waterland)...?
AN HON. MEMBER: Former Premier.
HON. MR. McGEER: Former Premier, and never again to be Premier...
HON. MR. McGEER: ...and never again to be Attorney-General, and never again to be a minister of the Crown. Why? Because of this double standard — they were expecting something of someone else that they wouldn't live up to themselves, demanding a resignation of this minister, and yet they initiated a procedure such as this. Far more guilty than ever this minister, they refused to make the declaration for the House and stand behind the legislation that they themselves introduced.
Mr. Chairman, I heard part of the debate yesterday demanding to know why the Minister of Mines didn't instantly answer the question about the meeting that Mr. Lau was present at. Why couldn't he answer immediately, Mr. Chairman? Because he wasn't at the meeting, that's why. Yes, the Attorney-General was at the meeting when Mr. Lau was present, when the Mineral Royalties Act was discussed. The former Premier, who was demanding his resignation, was at a meeting where that gentleman was at.
Mr. Chairman, what are we supposed to have in this province — one standard for the NDP when they're in office? Is that what we're supposed to live by in this province? We're told over here to abide by one set of rules that they themselves totally ignored when they were in office.
Mr. Chairman, the member for Vancouver Centre isn't worthy to sit in this House. This particular amendment is the most hypocritical amendment I've ever seen presented to this Legislature in 14 years. It's a disgrace, and I'm going to vote against it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Order, please!
MR. S. BAWLF: (Victoria): Mr. Chairman, I would just like to call to the attention of the House the advice given to the House yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please, hon. member.
MR. BAWLF: ...which was a point of order itself. I just would wish to repeat it, Mr. Chairman. When an hon. member of this House is on his feet and a matter is raised which is objectionable to him, he should wait until the hon. member who is addressing the House has taken his place — has sat down.
It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that the hon. first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) has failed to heed the advice even of his own leader in that regard.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for helping us try to enforce the standing orders.
MR. LAUK: Mr. Chairman, I attempted, at the beginning of the Minister of Education's — or the minister of defence's — remarks, to interrupt him and ask him to withdraw remarks that would impute improper motives on my part toward the last part of his comments. I just did not bother to do so. He continued to dishonour me in this House, saying that I was not worthy to sit in this House, simply because I had made an honest attempt to expose to public view...
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. LAUK: ...the underhanded, backroom activities of their government in the drafting of a giveaway bill.
He said that the statements I made yesterday with respect to the holdings of 16 government MLAs...he imputed that I didn't find out whether it was true or false. I got the information from their own personal signed and sworn declarations.
Now if I can't rely on their own word, and that's why he's suggesting.... He is suggesting that I cannot rely on his word; I cannot rely on the member for Victoria's (Mr. Bawlf's) word and the Minister of Economic Development's (Hon. Mr. Phillips') word. He said that I didn't bother to find out whether they're true or false. He's suggesting that the declarations could either be true or false. He's bringing dishonour on the members of this House to whom I referred yesterday as holding shares in mining
[ Page 2728 ]
companies. So that bunch of claptrap is just simply that.
Secondly, he states that Mr. Lau was hired by the former administration, and so on and so forth. I had charged, and I have charged again, two things: one that Mr. Lau drafted the legislation that was tabled in this House. The minister denied it. Mr. Lau said he did. Mr. Lau, whenever he was retained by the previous administration, I'm told — I wasn't in the cabinet.... And I might point out that I was in the cabinet when the mineral royalties legislation came down, but I never met Mr. Lau.
MR. LAUK: But I should tell you, Mr. Chairman, that to my information, Mr. Lau never saw a draft of the legislation before this committee. He never saw a draft until....
HON. D.M. PHILLIPS (Minister of Agriculture): Are you saying he didn't?
MR. LAUK: That's the information I have.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Hon. members, order, please.
MR. LAUK: The charge that I'm making is that Mr. Lau drafted the bill before this House. The minister deliberately lied to this House yesterday and said that he did not. I have given the minister the opportunity on two different occasions to qualify his remark. He will not.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. LAUK: I repeat again....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! May I ask the hon. first member for Vancouver Centre to withdraw the remark "he lied to the House"? You've been a member long enough to know that we can't have that in here.
MR. LAUK: Mr. Chairman....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Please withdraw.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Order, please!
MR. L. NICOLSON (Nelson-Creston): Point of order, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The first member for Vancouver Centre has the floor.
MR. NICOLSON: I thought I had risen on a point of order.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, and we are on a point of order. May I ask the hon. member for Nelson-Creston to please release the floor until we have resolved the last point of order?
MR. NICOLSON: Well, you've already allowed his thing to go on all afternoon. I'm wondering why it's becoming an issue now.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. NICOLSON: You have obviously tacitly implied that the minister has lied to this House.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please! You are out of order.
MR. NICOLSON: He said it before and you never stopped it; why should you stop it now? It's as true now as it was them.
[Mr. Chairman rises.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Hon. members, the Chair was listening to a point of order which had not yet been resolved since the Chair had clearly asked the hon. first member for Vancouver Centre to withdraw a statement that was unparliamentary. When we have completed that point of order, the Chair would be very happy to entertain a second point of order from the member for Nelson-Creston.
Now, please, can we have order in this House?
The first member for Vancouver Centre, would you please withdraw the remarks "he lied to the house"?
[Mr. Chairman resumes his seat.]
MR. LAUK: Mr. Chairman, I pointed out yesterday...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. LAUK: ...that the minister had said that Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation.
[ Page 2729 ]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order! We are not interested in what happened yesterday.
MR. LAUK: I've asked the minister....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order!
MR. LAUK: I've asked the.minister to clarify his remarks. He has not done so.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. CHAIRMAN: I ask the hon. member the second time: will you withdraw the remark that he lied to the House?
MR. LAUK: Mr. Chairman, yesterday I pointed out....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. LAUK: Today I pointed out that the minister has told an untruth to this House....
[Mr. Chairman rises.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! May I ask the hon. first member for Vancouver Centre the third time: will he withdraw the remark that he lied to the House?
[Mr. Chairman resumes his seat.]
MR. LAUK: Mr. Chairman, the minister has committed a dishonourable act by refusing to stand in this House and clarify his position.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. first member for Vancouver Centre leaves the Chair no alternative but to now order him to withdraw the remark that the minister lied to the House. Does the member withdraw?
AN HON. MEMBER: Headline hunter!
AN HON. MEMBER: Throw him out!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Does the hon. member withdraw?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Can we maintain order in the House while the Speaker is approaching the chamber?
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Speaker, in Committee of Supply, while we were debating an amendment to vote 130, a statement was made by the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) that the minister whose vote we are debating — the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Waterland) — lied to the House. I asked him on three separate occasions to withdraw the remark, and he refused. Furthermore, I had to order the hon. member to withdraw the remark, and he still refused.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, the Chairman has reported to the Speaker that in the course of debate you have accused the minister of lying to the House. I think the member is fully aware that to allege that a minister has lied to the House is unparliamentary and, therefore, must be withdrawn. I would ask you, as an hon. member, because you fully understand the rules of the House, to withdraw any allegation that the minister lied to the House. Will the hon. member do so?
MR. LAUK: Mr. Speaker, I have great respect for the rules of parliament, but I have my own integrity. For me to withdraw the charge now would be dishonourable on my part, in my own estimation of what I have just done. I am so compelled by that sense of honour — the higher one, in my view, which is "to your own self be true" — that I cannot withdraw the remark.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I must then order you to withdraw the offensive statement. I so order, Hon. Member. Will the hon. member obey the decision of the Chair?
In that case, Hon. Member, I have no recourse according to the standing rules of our own House, which you understand and which I must uphold. I order you to withdraw from the chamber for the remainder of today's sitting.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Schroeder in the chair.
MR. NICOLSON: On a point of order, Mr.
[ Page 2730 ]
Chairman, I would like to report three things with which I am not...and I'm being somewhat critical here....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. We must have the point of order.
MR. NICOLSON: The point of order is that.... I'd like to deal with two different points of order, but one, the more serious, was the fact that you allowed the same accusation of lying to go by unnoticed earlier. I think you didn't fulfil the responsibility of the Chair; and I think Hansard will show that...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. NICOLSON: ...the same accusation of lying was said earlier.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. That's not a point of order.
MR. NICOLSON: Well, Mr. Chairman, not dealing with it at the first available opportunity has perhaps led to the situation which has developed here this afternoon.
The other point of order is that the hon. first member for Victoria (Mr. Bawlf) rose objecting to someone drawing immediate attention to the fact that something unparliamentary was being said. He was confusing it with standing order 43, which enables an hon. member to get up and be recognized out of turn when some misinformation has been raised, but nothing that imputes improper motives. There is a difference there, and I would hope that in the interests of decorum you would maybe take the time — although I recognize that you're trying to expedite debate — but it might in the long run expedite debate if you were to fully explain that rule to the member so that he wouldn't be labouring under any misapprehension.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I appreciate your good advice.
MR. D.G. COCKE (New Westminster): Mr. Chairman, in the House in the past hour — less than an hour....
MR. CHAIRMAN: We're now on the amendment.
MR. COCKE: On the amendment, Mr. Chairman, and following the great speech by the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer), that minister told the House that the NDP — in his words — destroyed mining industry jobs in this province.
Mr. Chairman, just to disorganize the totally disoriented member, I would like to let him know hat his colleague, the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Waterland) , let slip an interesting fact during his speech on second reading of a bill that is before the House, when he said: "Directly in this province there are some 16,000 to 17,000 people employed by the mining industry." That's today, Mr. Chairman. Now his revelation gives the lie to the myth that the Socreds have tried to spread through the media so strenuously to justify the admitted huge tax concessions that they're giving to the industry because of their open financial support at the last election. Their own words prove that thousands of jobs were created during this period, because statistics from the industry itself, as published by Price Waterhouse, on the mining in B.C. show that direct mining employment was 14,500 in 1972 when the NDP took power.
The irrelevancies uttered in defence of a defenceless situation by the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Education, show again that in order to justify what they're doing, in order to justify what they're saying, in order to justify their direction, they use premises that can best be described as false premises. I suggest that where there's been an increase in the work force during those years, how can that group, that coalition calling themselves government, come out with an argument by a so-called senior minister — a minister vested with all sorts of responsibilities on the government side — how can he come out and make a statement like he did today and go unchallenged? Their very words show that his statement was based in non-fact.
Mr. Chairman, I think we should all regard the carrying on that has taken place as something that we are not, any of us, too happy with. We recognize that the Minister of Mines had a very difficult responsibility and a difficult portfolio to fill because of all the wild statements that had been made by former candidates, now ministers and now MLAs. How could he live in a climate with all those promises, with all those statements? So naturally he has been very confused.
I say, Mr. Chairman, in speaking to this amendment, how can we but support the amendment when the minister has fallen into trap after trap set by his colleagues and set by himself? We all feel that this House had better recognize that if we are to achieve the kind of proper direction for this province, we have to have proper leadership. We have been afforded very little leadership from this government that has been taking us from crisis to crisis, sad situation to sad situation. Then, as almost the epitome, to provide the kind of evidence in support of this minister who is doing his best to reward his friends...
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
[ Page 2731 ]
MR.COCKE: ...the government's friends!
HON. K.R. MAIR (Minister of Consumer Services): Shame! Shame!
MR. COCKE: Shame all you like. Shame all you like.
MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, I can say no more but to say that we can do nothing other than support the amendment before the House.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, I rise this afternoon to speak against this amendment. I must say that I am disappointed that in the last little while we have seen the return of the type of sewer-pipe debate that used to be prevalent in this House. Mr. Chairman, we have only seen that return to the sewer-pipe debate since the return of the ex-Premier, the now second member for Vancouver East (Mr. Barrett).
AN HON. MEMBER: Right on!
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: He was responsible for this type of debate when he led that party in opposition for a long number of years. He was responsible for that gutter type of debate in this Legislature while he was Premier of this province, and now we have a return.
Mr. Chairman, I want to say that during the period of time when the member for Revelstoke-Slocan (Mr. King) was acting leader of the NDP, we noted that the debate in this Legislature was on a very high plane. While that member for Revelstoke-Slocan led that party, they started to gain some respect from the House, from the voting public of this province and indeed from the business community of this province.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Now that that leader has returned — that political opportunist who was on hire to the party as a leader for a grand a month while he ran to gain election in Vancouver East — now that he is back in the House, Mr. Chairman, some of his blind followers are taking up the same type of gutter debate that he has been responsible for, for so many years in this House. I am sad to say, Mr. Chairman....
MR. CHAIRMAN: May I interrupt the hon. minister just long enough to remind you that we are on the amendment...
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: ...which talks about a reduction in salary? The debate must be held very closely to the amendment.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I am well aware of that. It is the type of debate that I am referring to that has led to this amendment being tabled on the floor of this Legislature. I am just sorry to say, Mr. Chairman, that some of the blind followers in the party opposite, the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea), the member who was just relieved of his seat and asked to retire from this Legislature — degrading all the members of this Legislature, I might say.
Mr. Chairman, it is bitterness on the part of that group that brings in amendments of this type that we have to debate here today. That's the reason we have this type of debate, because that party.... We would not be debating this amendment if it were not for the bitterness that that group over there has in their hearts because they lost the last election. They are trying to still fight the battles of the last election, while we on this side are trying to give leadership and to restore a sound, basic economy to this province.
Mr. Chairman, I had no intention of entering this debate. I had no intention of speaking against this debate and trying to point out to the members of this Legislature why they should vote against this particular amendment, of bringing up any of the mistakes that that group over there made while they were in government. I think that because of the type of debate that we are having in this House, Mr. Chairman, so that the new members of the House will know and be able to vote intelligently on this debate, I must mention just a few of those mistakes.
I had entirely forgotten about them, but when the debate lowers in the Legislature.... As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) has said, "Remember, Mr. Chairman," he said, and I heard him say it during his raving speech yesterday, "you can't have it both ways." So in order that members of the House, both on this side and on that side of the Legislature, may be informed, I would like to inform the House, Mr. Chairman, about some of the sweetheart deals that were made, because in speaking against this amendment, Mr. Chairman....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. You'll have to relate the remarks to the amendment.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Well, in speaking against this amendment I want to point out that there were sweetheart deals made by the member who was just asked to leave this House — the first member for Vancouver Centre, (Mr. Lauk). I want to say that all members should stand and vote against this salary reduction amendment, because I want them to realize, Mr. Chairman, that there were sweetheart
[ Page 2732 ]
deals made by that member, who stood so piously in this House....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The Leader of the Opposition on a point of order.
MR. D. BARRETT (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Chairman, is it appropriate for the member to make accusations with such words as "sweetheart agreements" against a member who cannot be with us during this debate? And is it related at all to the amendment to the main motion that we're dealing with?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Your point is well taken. I will ask the Minister of Economic Development to relate his remarks to the amendment. I say for the second time that the amendment reads that the salary of the minister in vote 130 be reduced by $1. All remarks made must relate to the amendment.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Well, Mr. Chairman, I am relating my remarks to the amendment. I am trying to say why I am voting against it and to advise members of this House why they should vote against it.
With regard, Mr. Chairman, to the point that the Leader of the Opposition brought up — that the member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) can no longer protect himself because he is not in this Legislature — let me suggest to you, Mr. Chairman, that that member for Vancouver Centre probably had some inkling of what I was going to bring up and wanted to be removed from this Legislature...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Back to the amendment.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, I am just answering the Leader of the Opposition's point.
...instead of staying in his place and listening to what I had to say this afternoon.
Mr. Chairman, we're talking about reducing the salary of the Minister of Mines. That minister's salary is being reduced because he's being accused of certain things which to date have been unfounded. Mr. Chairman, I accuse the member for Vancouver Centre, a man who supports this amendment, of making a sweetheart deal outside of this Legislature with a particular mining company.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I must ask you again, hon. Minister....
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, we're talking about the salary of the Minister of Mines, and I am pointing out to you that this is very relevant to the motion before us.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Please speak to the amendment.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: This whole thing centres around a piece of legislation that was tabled in this House, and the whole gutter debate that has been brought on yesterday centres around this motion, Mr. Chairman. I say to you that it is very relevant, because there was a sweetheart deal made. Mr. Chairman, to back up my statement, I would just like to quote to you from a letter which was dated October 17, 1975, signed by the Hon. Gary V. Lauk, the member for Vancouver Centre, who at that time, Mr. Chairman, was the Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources. I want you to pay particular attention, Mr. Chairman, to the dating of this letter.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. On a point of order, the first member for Vancouver East.
MR. MACDONALD: I think there are two points involved here, Mr. Chairman. One is that you don't attack somebody who is not able to defend himself, because that would indicate moral qualities which the member would quickly think better of, if he thought about it at all. The other point is that this discussion is obviously irrelevant to the debate, which is a reduction in the salary of the Minister of Mines. It has nothing to do with the member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk); it is the reduction in salary of the Minister of Mines by the sum of $1.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
MR. CHAIRMAN: The point is well taken. I would ask the hon. minister to show his remarks are relevant. Hon. members of the House are aware of the fact that sometimes the member takes a little longer than some other members to get to the relevancy, and so I have been as patient as I know how. Hon. Minister, once again I must ask you to keep your remarks strictly relevant to the amendment.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, as I said before, the member for Vancouver Centre chose not to be in the House because he knew that I was probably going to bring this up. It is so relevant that he wanted to have himself fired from this Legislature instead of standing here and facing the music.
I would suggest to you, Mr. Chairman, that the opposition are very, very nervous this afternoon, but I would suggest to you that this is very relevant to the amendment which we have before us, because the true meaning of the amendment is a complete loss of faith in the present Minister of Mines. That's really what it intends to do. I want to relate to you in my remarks this afternoon, because certain people's characters have been put on the line in the gutter
[ Page 2733 ]
type of debate, Mr. Chairman, that we had yesterday afternoon, and this is all very relevant.
We're talking about the developing of mining legislation. It was the debate about the mining legislation and the development of mining legislation that created this amendment. Therefore I want to talk to you about creation of mining legislation by the then Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources, the member for Vancouver Centre, who had himself evicted from this Legislature this afternoon rather I than stay here and face the music.
MR. MACDONALD: You wouldn't say that if he was here.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Yes, I'd say that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! The Minister of Economic Development has the floor.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: I can understand him being so nervous, and I can certainly understand the then Attorney-General (Mr. Macdonald) being so nervous today.
MR. MACDONALD: He won't attack me — I'm here.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Your time will come, Mr. Attorney-General.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: But if they'd allow me to carry on, Mr. Chairman.... And they know as well as you know and the rest of the House knows that I am perfectly in order.
This letter, Mr. Chairman, that I've referred to was probably in the missing files which are buried in the member's basement, which the now Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett), who was then Premier, instructed civil servants to have removed from my office. This is a letter, Mr. Chairman, that would have been in those files had they remained in my office. I can see why the files were removed, because they also contain, Mr. Chairman, mining legislation which that government was going to bring in had they been re-elected last December.
Just to prove how right I am, Mr. Chairman, I would like to quote from this letter. It goes to Dr. N.B. Keeble, Jr., Teck Corp. Everybody in the House knows that Teck Corp. is one of the largest mining companies in Canada.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Minister, may I interrupt you just once again, with great respect? Perhaps the line of debate that you are now embarking on might better be discussed under the proper vote. We are now on an amendment which really narrows the debate strictly to the reduction of the salary of the minister. I make that suggestion to you with great respect.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, what we're debating is the loss of confidence by the opposition in this minister. This is very relevant, because it deals with proposed mining legislation by the now opposition. It's very relevant, and I wish to point out to you and the members of this House, Mr. Chairman, why we should vote against this amendment. This is very relevant. I realize that the opposition are very touchy about this point, Mr. Chairman, but this happens to be dead on the relevancy to this amendment.
AN HON. MEMBER: Order!
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, I wish to prove to the House this afternoon, so that they can vote against this amendment, that the first member for Vancouver Centre made a sweetheart deal promising legislation with a company, with no legislation to back it up. The House was not even sitting, and he made this sweetheart deal with Teck Corp., Mr. Chairman, and yet he is the one who is supporting this amendment.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I'd like you to weigh some of the facts....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MRS. E.E. DAILLY (Burnaby North): Mr. Chairman, I wonder if you would explain for the House's benefit just what the limitations of debate are on the matter of dealing with a motion of non-confidence in the minister.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Any time an amendment is introduced to a main motion, it restricts the scope of debate to a great degree. As a matter of fact, May outlines for us the fact that the debate on an amendment must be strictly related to the amendment itself, and perhaps debate that would relate to a broader scope might better be reserved until the amendment is dealt with and the main motion returns to the floor. I've made that suggestion to the minister with great respect.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, what I will say is: can that minister ever be accused of writing a letter to a mining corporation and stating these words? Can he be accused of that? Can he ever be accused of writing a letter to a private corporation before legislation was introduced, Mr. Chairman? Can
[ Page 2734 ]
he ever be accused of stating these words? Has he ever written a letter like this, Mr. Chairman? Did he ever say to a mining company: "You are aware that we have under review a series of studies which may well lead to new incentives for industrial development and employment opportunities within the province"?
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Have you ever written a letter, Mr. Chairman?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Hon. Minister, I have been waiting for you to demonstrate that the line of reasoning that you are now following is not necessarily relevant to the minister's estimates but relevant to this particular amendment. I must ask you now, Hon. Minister, to show, perhaps by following a different line of reasoning, that you intend to speak to the amendment itself. I am sorry that I must restrict you in this manner but the standing orders and May insist that I do.
AN HON. MEMBER: Follow the great Root Bear.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Well, Mr. Chairman, I don't wish to....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. On a point of order, the Minister of Consumer Services.
HON. MR. MAIR: Mr. Chairman, on the point that you have raised, if I may, it seems to me that if we're going to pass judgment on a minister by reducing his salary, perhaps by $1, we have to have something by which to judge it. The Minister of Economic Development is giving the standard by which Ministers of Mines are judged. I suggest to the Chair that that is very relevant. It is the only relevant thing that has been said in this chamber thus far, except what was said by the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer) .
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. On a point of order, the Leader of the Opposition.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Chairman, we're dealing with an amendment to reduce the minister's salary by $1. The argument is related to points whether or not we agree on whether that minister's salary should be reduced by $1 or not. It has absolutely nothing to do with any other member of this chamber. To use the spurious argument that some other cabinet minister now sitting might buy a ticket to the moon but this minister is too rational to do that has nothing to do with the argument. The behaviour, the attitudes or the performance of anyone else is not what this amendment deals with. It is the behaviour, the performance and the attitudes of that minister, and all the fogging and all the devious means of avoiding that amendment will not deter from the fact that you must vote, sooner or later, simply on the amendment, which is in order, and confine yourselves to dealing with the sitting minister.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. The point of order is well taken.
MR. G. MUSSALLEM (Dewdney): On a real point of order, I wish you'd keep order here, because all the time the hon. minister was speaking the Leader of the Opposition was intoning something. I call for order because we expect in this House to be able to hear what the minister or anybody else is saying. If that opposition will continue to intone sounds, I can't hear down here what he was saying. That's a point of order, and I am sure you heard it. I wish you'd call him to order.
AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, on a proper point of order....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! We can't move from one point of order to another point of order without first resolving the previous point of order. I want to thank the member for Dewdney, who wishes to have standing order 17(2) enforced more strictly. I shall do that.
MR. BARRETT: If you can't hear me, come out in the corridor and I'll repeat it for you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Is the Leader of the Opposition on a point of order?
MR. BARRETT: No, I am just trying to clarify....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Son of a gun.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, I regret all of the
interruptions, so I'll carry on. I would suggest that we should vote
against this amendment because this minister has never made any
sweetheart deals with any mining company. This minister has not written
letters to any mining company promising new legislation. This minister
has never written letters to any mining company promising royalties on
copper. This minister has not written to any mining companies
reassuring them that there would be mining legislation introduced in
the fall, assuring them that he would recommend to this Legislature
certain mining legislation by which those companies would go ahead and
build a multi-million-dollar smelter.
[ Page 2735 ]
I would suggest to you, Mr. Chairman, that we should vote against this. The new Leader of the Opposition, who has brought the debate in this Legislature back to the gutter type that it was while he was Leader of the Opposition, says you can't have it both ways, Mr. Chairman. I want to tell you sincerely, Mr. Chairman, that I had no intention of getting into this debate.
MR. BARRETT: You haven't yet. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, that's the type of remark that comes from that man. He has never stood up and made a positive statement in this House as Premier or as Leader of the Opposition. That's the type of garbage that you get from that member, and the people of the province will recognize it. He's bitter because he was government and they threw him out! After trying to become government for 12 years, he led this province down the garden path, and now he's bitter because the people of this province threw him out. He'll remain over there in opposition year after year after year because....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Hon. Member, to the amendment.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: I urge the members of this House, Mr. Chairman, to vote against this amendment.
MR. W.S. KING (Revelstoke-Slocan): I was interested in many of the epithets used by the previous speaker in debating this amendment, Mr. Chairman. Quite frankly, I felt the debate was a rational one in the House yesterday when we talked about the performance of the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Waterland), where we talked about the tradition of parliament in terms of ministerial responsibility, in terms of the proper security for bills that are introduced by message, bills that have the effect of imposing taxation or changing revenue — dealing with revenue in any way. It's a longstanding tradition and one that is taken very seriously by all parliaments and, indeed, I had thought heretofore, by all parliamentarians.
That is the issue, Mr. Chairman, that is before the House, and all of the wild, emotional diatribes, like that indulged in by the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Phillips) in launching personal attacks on the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) and upon the mover of the motion, will not sidetrack the issue that is before this House.
The Minister of Economic Development seems to know a great deal about gutter pipes and garbage.
AN HON. MEMBER: Settling pools, septic tanks.
MR. KING: He seems to be an authority in those areas — settling pools, septic tanks, and so on. And let him have his realm, his sphere of interest, Mr. Chairman; I have no objection to that — no objection whatsoever. But the Minister of Mines is responsible for something more crucial to the economy of British Columbia, something far more valuable, and that is the minerals and the ores, and the wise administration and the wise custody of those resources on behalf of he people of the province of British Columbia.
MR. KING: The question is, then: has the Minister of Mines performed his duties as a cabinet minister in conformity with parliamentary tradition? Has he exercised those duties well on behalf of the people of British Columbia, with proper respect for the wise husbandry of our resources...
AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.
MR. KING: ...or has he breached the rules of parliament and the common rules of good conduct that should be expected of any cabinet minister?
Mr. Chairman, I want to say to you that it's interesting to took at some of the material put out by the Mining Association of British Columbia. They put out a letter last November, during the election campaign, and they indicated that a copy of this letter was sent to all candidates in that provincial election. This one is addressed to me, and in the third paragraph of that letter they state, very clearly: "We believe that taxes should be related to profits." In other words, they object to the royalty principle in terms of minerals. They conclude with: "If you wish further detail, will you please contact me, and I will be happy to provide whatever you need."
The real issue here, Mr. Chairman, is: should the mining industry be allowed to write their own ticket in terms of the price that they pay for the resources of British Columbia? Should they be allowed to do this? Should the fox be let into the chicken coop by the minister who is supposed to be...?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! On a point of order, the Minister of Consumer Services.
HON. MR. MAIR: Well, Mr. Chairman, I'm very much pained to rise, particularly in light of the injunction of the hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) yesterday that we should only rise at the end of a speech. However, since he has done it twice today and all the opposition have continued to do it....
[ Page 2736 ]
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Order!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Are you on a point of order?
HON. MR. MAIR: Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that if the hon. Minister of Economic Development was out of order a moment ago, then the member for Revelstoke-Slocan is three times out of order right now. I ask the Chair to bring him to order.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The same rules to both sides of the House. Would the hon. member for Revelstoke-Slocan continue and keep his remarks strictly relevant to the amendment?
MR. KING: I certainly shall, Mr. Chairman. I have great respect for the wisdom of Mr. Chairman, and I know that he will be very diligent in making sure that I am held to order.
Mr. Chairman, what I am talking about is the Minister of Mines and
Forests' responsibility, his jurisdiction, his area of purview as a
minister. I am attempting to show that through his conduct he does not
deserve the confidence of this House, and therefore the motion, which
is one of tradition and one of censure which would reduce his salary by
$1, is well justified in this House.
He seems to have heeded the call of the mining industry. He has brought in a bill in which he admits a person who was in a position of some conflict in terms of his profession and in terms of his relationship with large mining corporations was involved in the drafting — a bill that has the precise effect of delivering to the mining industry precisely what they called for during the last election campaign, in November and December of 1975.
AN HON. MEMBER: You hired him.
MR. KING: And further, Mr. Chairman, when that Minister of Mines was questioned in the House yesterday, he was very reticent to give information to the House regarding the discharge of his duties as Minister of Mines.
He was constantly questioned, both by the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) as to whether or not some individual, precisely Mr. Jurgen Lau, had been privy to a draft of a message bill prior to its presentation to this House, and that is the issue.
That is the issue, Mr. Chairman, and all of the diversions by
various ministers of defence will not change that question that lies
before this House — and indeed, whether or not any past minister was
remiss, a question which no body of proof has been submitted to
support, is irrelevant in any event.
We are dealing with the conduct of issues before this House now. We are dealing with the ministerial responsibility of the Minister of Mines — a minister of the Crown responsible for an extremely wealthy area in this province, that realm of metals and ore.
As I said, Mr. Chairman, the minister yesterday was most reticent to answer the legitimate question put to him by members of this House. At one point it as reported by Hansard in the Blues, Mr. Chairman, on page 890-2 of the Blues, the minister finally did answer and he said, and I quote a portion of his response:
"Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation. Mr. Lau and the other people who worked on that committee presented a report to this minister. This report was then discussed in our planning and priorities committee. In our cabinet the levels of taxation were decided, this information was given to legislative counsel, and that is where the bill was drafted."
Now, Mr. Chairman, there is an unequivocal denial that Mr. Jurgen Lau had anything to do either with the drafting of the legislation or indeed was privy to the contents of that legislation.
Later on, apparently after members of the press gallery had hurried out of the House and contacted Mr. Jurgen Lau by telephone, the minister was again queried....
MR. KING: Well, there's the Minister of Highways (Hon. Mr. Fraser) now apparently ready to conduct a vendetta against one member of the press gallery who had had the temerity to question, in the best investigative reporting fashion, the veracity of charges that were made in this House. Is that some kind of ominous threat from the treasury benches, now that members of the press might be sanctioned and might be victimized in some way for reporting something that was adverse to the government? It wouldn't be the first time. It wouldn't be the first time.
MR. CHAIRMAN: And now to the amendment.
MR. KING: Mr. Chairman, after that enterprising reporter — and I'm not aware who it was; quite frankly I'm not aware who that reporter was, but I congratulate them for their ingenuity — after that reporter came back to this House and apparently told someone that, in fact, Mr. Jurgen Lau had admitted drafting and viewing the message bill before it was introduced to this House, a bill which provided vast new sources of revenue to the mining industry, millions of dollars, through the elimination of royalties, the hon. Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Waterland) found his tongue.
He came alive, that reticent little minister who had sat there all afternoon with florid features and
[ Page 2737 ]
refused to comment. He has this to say in response to the question by the first member for Vancouver Centre, when the first member for Vancouver Centre said: "Mr. Chairman, Mr. Lau did see a draft of that legislation." The hon. Minister of Mines rose and said: "Mr. Lau did see a draft of that legislation. He drafted it."
Now, Mr. Chairman, I know what is acceptable in terms of parliamentary language in this House, but I must say I empathize with the first member for Vancouver Centre with evidence like this in the official record of this House showing that grave conflict that exists between two statements from the Minister of Mines. One is an unequivocal: "No, Mr. Lau had nothing to do with drafting of the legislation," page 890-2. And the last quote was at page 892-1, and just as unequivocally, the Minister of Mines then found his memory refreshing and came in and said: "Yes, indeed, Mr. Lau did see a draft of that legislation. He drafted it."
AN HON. MEMBER: What was the first reference?
MR. KING: ...890-2. The second page 1've quoted is 892-1, and I imagine the Minister of Mines will be saying "Dash Hansard!" for preserving for posterity the great conflict that resides between statements he made to this House.
I would say, Mr. Chairman, that I'm very aware of and very sensitive to the permissible parliamentary language in this chamber, but I think in good conscience and if the traditions of parliament are to be preserved and respected, then that minister, Mr. Chairman, has some obligation. He has some obligation to come up with an explanation that will justify that conflict, that absolute turn-around in terms of the information he gave to this House.
Really, there's only one conclusion that can be drawn from that kind of direct conflict between statements a minister of the Crown made to this House, only one conclusion, and the minister knows it. If he is a man of good faith, if he is a man of good conscience, and if he has the kind of integrity that those government benches were talking about, he knows what the correct thing to do would be. It's been done before in the best tradition of parliament, and it should be done again in this case.
Finally, for the edification, Mr. Chairman, of the Minister of Consumer Affairs (Hon. Mr. Mair)....
HON. MR. MAIR: Services.
MR. KING: I quote again from page 893 of the Blues, the Hansard verbatim record of the debates in this House, and the question was, and this was a question by the Leader of the Opposition: "Did he see the draft of the present bill, yes or no?" The hon. Minister of Mines finally answered: "While Mr. Lau did draft the Coal Act, he did not draft the Mineral Resources Tax Act."
Clear, unequivocal misinformation to the House, Mr. Chairman, which the same minister later agreed, after Mr. Lau had blown the whistle on him, was false — false information to the House. That is the issue that's before this House in terms of the motion of non-confidence in the Minister of Mines.
I'm sure the Minister of Mines wants to have the respect of all members of this House and the respect of the public in the province of British Columbia, because it's my firm belief that no minister can function effectively and discharge his duties to this province unless he has the respect and the support of the community as well as this House for his integrity, his candour and frankness.
I say in all good faith to the Minister of Mines, and above all to the Premier, Mr. Chairman, that there is no way, while this cloud of suspicion resides on the record as a result of remarks and statements the minister made in this House, that he could ever be trusted again, not only with current legislation but with all of the administrative responsibilities that reside in his department.
I find it curious, Mr. Chairman, that while a matter as important as this — and this goes to the very fundamental roots of parliamentary conduct — I find it curious that the Premier has been conspicuous by his absence almost from the moment this matter was brought to the attention of the House.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): He's embarrassed.
HON. A.V. FRASER (Minister of Highways and Public Works): Where's the Leader of the Opposition?
MR. KING: He may well be embarrassed, but I want to tell you, Mr. Chairman, that the Premier of this province bears a larger responsibility than anyone else in this House.
He appointed that minister, and it's up to him to ensure that the ministers conduct themselves in a proper manner. When they do not, there is a heavier duty of responsibility on the Premier's shoulders to take appropriate action than resides anywhere else.
If the minister does not recognize, either through inexperience or thorough some other inability, whether it relates to his moral appraisal or not, then it is up to the Premier to explain to him and demand of him that he conduct himself and his department in a manner that is beyond reproach, and that he address himself to questions in this House in a manner which is candid and frank, in a manner which does not seek to hide, to fail to provide full information and full disclosure to this House.
What is the responsibility of a minister of the Crown with respect to appearing before parliament
[ Page 2738 ]
and accounting for his administrative duties, his legislative duties, and indeed the ordinary procedures of the House, such as question period?
Mr. Chairman, if this case is allowed to go without proper redress, all of those basic fundamental institutions of parliament whereby the opposition, as the public watchdog, elicits information from government to ensure that they are conducting themselves in appropriate and honest manners...more and more, those institutions will be eroded.
Question period and the debate in this House will become nothing more than a game, a game where the ministers share with the House and the opposition and the public only parts and portions of the conduct of public business. I say that kind of tendency — that kind of trend — is one that threatens parliament in this province. It shouldn't be tolerated and should not be undertaken and supported by any of the government people — and certainly not the Premier. The Premier is the one above all who is responsible to demand of his ministers proper, honest and frank conduct or to replace them with other people who can be frank and honest in terms of accounting for and in terms of accepting responsibility for both their administrative responsibility and their legislative responsibility.
Yet we see here in the records of this House unequivocal evidence — unquestioned evidence — the absolute bald statements made by that minister which are completely at variance with the facts, statements that were repudiated within an hour, after the correct information was obtained from another source. Are we to assume, Mr. Chairman, that any question put to the Minister of Mines from this point on will have to be checked out by going outside this House and phoning someone in the business community, someone in the legal profession, some underling in the Department of Mines? If we are to conclude, as we almost must from the events of yesterday afternoon and today, we have nothing to conclude except that the information, the advice and the candour of that minister in terms of information to this House are not complete — certainly not complete. I say that that is a shocking development in this Legislature. It is one that should not be tolerated.
I think in good conscience the minister should tender his resignation. I think in good conscience that every member of this House, whether you represent the treasury benches or whether you represent the government back bench — in good conscience, if you believe that you have an obligation to this province beyond your narrow political partisanship to that party — you will support this motion. Because the proof positive is before you; the proof positive is before you.
This man gave inadequate and conflicting advice to this House which he himself repudiated about an hour later. Your constituents are going to want to know if you can justify and support this kind of conduct by a cabinet minister even though he is in your same party. When will you stand up?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Please address the Chair.
MR. KING: When will you stand up, through you, Mr. Chairman, and expose impropriety or questionable conduct by a cabinet minister or by your government? They are valid questions.
The proposition has been put forward by the Minister of Mines himself that because some of the people involved in this breach of ministerial responsibility were of a professional background, they are safe and that their professional code of ethics protects the public interest. Mr. Chairman, without casting any reflection upon the particular people involved, because I do not know them, I want to say to you that there is no alternative to responsibility to parliament — no alternative, not reliance on professional ethics. Because how well did professional ethics serve the people of America in the Watergate shemozzle? Not very well — there was a whole litany of professionals involved in all of the questionable tactics used in that tremendous scandal.
Mr. Chairman, again, I am not trying to draw a parallel or a comparison between this situation and that one. But I want to say to you that the analogy is only this: it is never safe for the public interest to rely solely upon the professional ethics of any individual. That's why we have a democratic parliament. That's why we require that ministers of the Crown be responsible in answering to parliament for their conduct. That's why, in my view, we have a stronger political system, a stronger political structure and tradition in this nation than in others, where questionable things have occurred to the detriment of the interest of all citizens. These are the issues that are before this House, and they are extremely serious ones.
I raised the point yesterday, Mr. Chairman. I want all government members to search their conscience and tell me what you would have thought when I was Minister of Labour in the previous administration if I had had a trade unionist draft the Labour Code of British Columbia. What would you have thought? You would have said, each and every one of you, you would have been on your platforms all through this province saying: "King has sold out to the trade union movement. It's one-sided legislation. They're gaining advantage over management."
I want to say that I would have to agree, and that those circumstances are not nearly as serious as this, because under those circumstances we were dealing with impartiality in terms of administration. In this case we are not only dealing with impartiality in terms of administration. We are dealing with taxation
[ Page 2739 ]
laws which amount to millions and millions of dollars in this province, because the bill is partly retroactive and certainly deals with years to come. The reward and the temptation and the bonus for those people being privy to the information contained in that legislation and the temptation for those people to share that knowledge with close friends and business associates is something that no responsible minister should expect even of a professional. It's an absolute dereliction of duty.
That Minister of Mines, Mr. Chairman, rather than forcing the House to debate this motion of non-confidence all afternoon, if he were more experienced and if he took his responsibilities and the rules of parliament more seriously, would do the decent thing and he would resign from the cabinet.
[Mr. Veitch in the chair.]
That is his obligation, and it's clear. There have been resignations from parliaments in the British system on grounds much less serious than this one, much less serious, and when we start to look, Mr. Chairman, at the record of this administration over a short six months in office, I find it absolutely alarming and scandalous that for the second time in that term of office we are dealing with impropriety in terms of keeping confidential taxation bills and monetary matters through which advance knowledge could give benefit to private entrepreneurs and private people.
It happened with respect to the budget, when someone not sworn to the oath of secrecy was made privy to that budget. We had mute defiance from ministers of the Crown, Mr. Chairman, who would not answer to this House, and again we have the same thing.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, I believe that this is irrelevant. Would you kindly get back to the amendment?
MR. KING: I'm glad you believe it, Mr. Chairman, because it is true. You see, even the Chairman believes me. All I'm trying to do is make the rest of the government benches believe me too. They know in their hearts it is right.
HON. J.A. NIELSEN (Minister of Environment): Oh, oh! Grow up a little bit!
MR. KING: Grow up? Well, we'll see how grown up the members on that side are when the vote comes, because this is an extremely serious matter. It is an extremely serious matter. Perhaps some of the neophytes over there, Mr. Chairman, who are facing their first term as ministers of the Crown, take their duties a bit too lightly. This is an extremely serious matter, a matter in which advance knowledge would allow certain individuals in the private sector to profiteer to the tune of millions of dollars. That's the issue, and I say, for the second time in the short tenure of this government, that we find a question as to the security, as to even the understanding of this principle of parliamentary rules. We find a real question as to whether or not bills of that nature were treated with the proper safeguards and the proper confidentiality that parliamentary rule demands.
That is true of the budget, Mr. Chairman, and it's certainly true of the conduct with which the minister performed his duties surrounding introduction of the bill that provoked this debate.
I want to conclude by saying to the minister that in many areas, all a politician has left when he leaves public life, really, is the integrity that he performed his duties with. It's a thankless job in many ways, being a minister of the Crown and a politician. One receives great criticism from the media, from constituents and from other politicians, but in the final analysis, when all of the public philosophy is divided and separated and ended, and when you no longer bear the responsibility which the media is interested in, we are all remembered in this province for the role we played. It is important to me to be remembered as one who played the game fairly and was viewed as honest and conducted the rules impartially.
MR. KING: Well, if the lawyer and the Minister of Consumer Services from Kamloops (Hon. Mr. Mair) doesn't have any more regard for the law than what he displays here, he should have been disbarred long ago, Mr. Chairman, because this is a serious matter and one that he shouldn't play with.
I want to say to the minister, if he has respect for his future and his integrity, that he knows what the honourable thing to do is. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: On a point of order or privilege, Hon. Member?
HON. MR. MAIR: No, I rose to speak in this debate, Mr. Chairman.
MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): A point of order. I think the Chairman has made an error. What happened is that I stood first, and you were about to recognize me when you noticed the minister standing....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, you took your seat, and I thought that....
[ Page 2740 ]
MR. LEA: No, you thought he was on a point of order, as I did. It turned out that he wasn't. I mean, you obviously were going to him because you thought he was on a point of order.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, you were both on your feet at the same time, and when you took your chair — after I asked you if it was a point of order — I thought you were going to remain seated. The hon. minister.
HON. MR. MAIR: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, I'm sure that the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea) will have ample time to speak, and will no doubt attract the attention of the House when he does.
I first of all would.... I'm sorry to see the member for Revelstoke-Slocan (Mr. King) leaving, because I wanted to assure my friends on the government back benches that during the years when the member for Revelstoke-Slocan was in office there were statutes drawn — two particularly, the Public Service Act and Public Service Labour Relations Act. Guess who was involved in the drafting of them? Mr. Ron Johnson, office of the B.C. Federation of Labour.
HON. MR. NIELSEN: Shocking!
HON. MR. MAIR: Now, Mr. Chairman, I'm not going to get into the argument of semantics, which has gone on for the last two days here, as to what a draft of legislation is, what a galley is, and when it becomes a bill, or what Mr. Lau saw or did not see, because I'm sure that my colleague, the Minister of Mines, will address the House on that point in due course.
MR. LEA: You hope!
HON. MR. MAIR: I'm sure he will.
I would like to speak for a moment, however, on the question that I thought got everybody all agitated yesterday — it certainly got the member for North Vancouver-Capilano (Mr. Gibson) agitated — and that's the question of a conflict of interest.
Now we're dealing with the hiring by a department — as I understand what was said yesterday — for some purpose or other of a man who had served the government of British Columbia for five years, a Mr. Jurgen Lau, who was hired by the NDP government when they were in power because he was not only a lawyer skilled in mining matters but also a geologist. This man established a pattern of dealing with the government and advising government, and advised the NDP government on at least three, if not four, bills. Now this man is not only a geologist, Mr. Chairman, but this man is a barrister and solicitor and took a very solemn oath. He took an oath which, if violated, would call for his disbarment.
MR. GIBSON: He didn't take an oath with the government.
HON. MR. MAIR: He took an oath which would have had consequences, Mr. Member, every bit as serious as violating any oath that he might take for the government.
HON. MR. MAIR: Every bit as serious.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Kindly address the Chair, Hon. Member.
HON. MR. MAIR: The oath he took, and an oath I'm proud to say I took, and the late-departed member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) took, is one which would call for disbarment and criminal proceedings if violated.
I have no doubt, Mr. Chairman, that on each and every occasion that Mr. Jurgen Lau served this government, regardless of the party in power, he did so admirably and honourably. I'm sure that when he was consulted — as my colleague, I am sure, will delineate in a moment — by this government he behaved honourably again.
Mr. Chairman, the question of conflict of interest is always interesting because the possibility of a conflict of interest always exists. It might be said that the lawyer who assisted in drafting the original Mining Royalties Act was guilty of misconduct by not going out and selling shares short, prior to its passage. He might be guilty of not buying shares. There are all sorts of things which could give rise to suspicion, but the question that we must address ourselves to is whether under these circumstances, these particular circumstances, there was any misconduct of any nature or kind whatsoever.
AN HON. MEMBER: Or potential conflict.
HON. MR. MAIR: No. No, that's not so, Mr. Member, because potential conflict of interest always exists. Whenever you go to anyone for advice, you have that potential of conflict. The question to be resolved here is whether or not Mr. Jurgen Lau was a man upon whom my colleague could rely. And he relied upon him, no doubt upon the advice of his staff, and his staff no doubt gave that advice because Mr. Lau had proved himself to be reliable to two different governments on four or five different occasions.
Mr. Chairman, if we are going to judge ministers of the Crown by their using people for advice who may,
[ Page 2741 ]
under certain circumstances, possibly have a conflict of interest, then there's going to be nobody left to advise the government.
Mr. Jurgen Lau has said that he did not see the legislation, as I understand it, before it went to this House. That he saw information that made up the legislation is probably so. What he saw is something my colleague, no doubt, will tell this House.
HON. MR. MAIR: Of course not!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
HON. MR. MAIR: I do not argue with the member for North Vancouver-Capilano (Mr. Gibson) who, in his seat, is tossing a few little lobs at me right at this particular time. I don't disagree with you at all, Mr. Member. No question about that at all. But the fact to be determined here — and it is a question of fact — is whether or not under these circumstances there was anything improper in the Minister of Mines dealing with Mr. Jurgen Lau. And I suggest that the evidence is clear: there was absolutely nothing wrong with it at all.
There is one more thing that I must bring to the House's attention, if I may, Mr. Chairman. The member who yesterday chose not to remain in his seat was today unceremoniously thrown out by the Chair — and rightly so. That member accused a number of people in this House, and on this side of the House, of having a conflict of interest. He did so by a flagrant abuse of the public disclosures Act — a flagrant abuse!
I want, and I think I have the right and privilege to do so, to correct any misapprehension the House may have about my own situation.
MR. KING: Confession!
HON. MR. MAIR: I do not have any beneficial interest in any share, in any company in British Columbia or anywhere else at this point in time. Everything I own is held in trust and has been held in trust for some three or four months. Now this goes to show, Mr. Chairman, the reason that my colleague, the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer), made the remarks he did that that fine Act, the public disclosures Act — and I commend the former Attorney-General (Mr. Macdonald) for the Act — but it shows how it can be abused and how people who do not wish to listen to their own principles but prefer to use the moment for political advantage can use that Act, and can use it unceremoniously and use it in an unprincipled way and use it in a manner to bring disrepute to this House and to its members.
Mr. Chairman, we have heard a lot of things in the last two days that I don't think this House ought to have heard. I listened with great care to the pontificating, unctuous member for Victoria when he gave his speeches a week or two ago.
MS. R. BROWN (Vancouver-Burrard): Are you saying that about Bawlf?
HON. MR. MAIR: No, the second member (Mr. Barber). The first member (Mr. Bawlf) is a wise man, Madam Member, a wise man.
MR. C. BARBER (Victoria): You're a rude man.
HON. MR. MAIR: Of course I'm a rude man. I have to be to survive in this jungle. (Laughter.)
MR. KING: Contempt! (Laughter.)
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
HON. MR. MAIR: Beneath contempt, Mr. Member.
MR. KING: Yes, you are.
HON. MR. MAIR: You. I've listened to these speeches of piety and, you know, it's an amazing thing, Mr. Chairman, that these speeches of piety only seem to relate to this side of the House. When that side of the House starts this nonsense, we don't hear from that member. We never hear a word — not a word. How come we don't see you stand up and talk to your own members?
MR. KING: What are you attacking him for? He hasn't even spoken on this amendment.
HON. MR. MAIR: That doesn't matter.
MR. KING: Stop trying to confuse us. Speak to the amendment.
HON. MR. MAIR: Speak to the amendment? If I did that I'd violate an honoured tradition of the day; I'd be the first person to do it. (Laughter.)
MR. CHAIRMAN: That's very good advice. Could you speak to the amendment, please?
HON. MR. MAIR: Mr. Chairman, I'll close these remarks by saying that this amendment is not worthy of the support of anyone. It is conceived by a lack of principle.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
[ Page 2742 ]
HON. MR. MAIR: It is accusatory in an unjustified manner, and it has brought this House into disrepute.
HON. MR. MAIR: If the cap fits, wear it. You're the person who stood in his place a moment ago and accused me of conduct that would give rise to disbarment.
MR. KING: Right!
MS. K.E. SANFORD (Comox): Read Hansard.
HON. MR. MAIR: Withdraw! (Laughter.)
Mr. Chairman, perhaps the time has come, at the end of almost two days of debate on this issue, to get on with the business of the House, get on with the business of the people, and stop this acrimonious nonsense.
MR. KING: Mr. Chairman, I just want to correct a statement which the minister made where he accused me of having one Ron Johnson assist in the drafting of labour legislation. That is absolutely unfounded, false and untrue, and I wish to make that correction, Mr. Chairman. It's completely without foundation in fact.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for the correction.
HON. MR. MAIR: I don't wish to belabour this point. I did not mean to imply that the member for Revelstoke-Slocan (Mr. King) personally did. I merely said that this man assisted in the drafting of the legislation.
MR. KING: Not mine.
MR. KING: I wish to clarify and say that Ron Johnson — or no other trade unionist in this province — was never privy to a bill that I brought into this Legislature. I received submissions from management and labour prior to drafting legislation, but no one ever assisted in drafting legislation in my department.
HON. G.M. McCARTHY (Provincial Secretary): Mr. Chairman, I would just like to concur with the Leader of the Opposition, who has....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Is this a point of order?
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: A point of order, yes. I would be pleased to clarify that Mr. Ron Johnson did not draft legislation for the former Labour minister but for the former Provincial Secretary (Mr. Hall) on the Public Service Labour Relations Act.
MR. KING: That's a different matter, then.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for the clarification.
MR. LEA: Mr. Chairman, on speaking in favour of this amendment....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The hon. member has the floor.
MR. LEA: On speaking in favour of this amendment, I would first of all like to remind the House, after listening to the last speaker, that at one time one cabinet minister said that consumers in this province should be kicked in the ass. I would like to remind you that if that was reciprocated, it would have been a pompous one that their foot would have reached. (Laughter.)
Now the thing that probably bothers the opposition more than anything else, Mr. Chairman, is that the Minister of Mines does not understand what conflict of interest is. At one point, in another situation, the minister quite frankly admitted that he had been remiss and apologized not only to the House but to the people in this province. I think everyone applauded that minister for that action. They said: "There's an honest person, and not only that; he's obviously learned his lesson."
I think everyone in this province had a sigh of relief when that happened, Mr. Chairman. Regardless of party affiliation, I believe that everyone in this province said "thank goodness" because it was so obvious there had been a conflict of interest that the minister didn't seem to understand. When it was pointed out, he said: "Yes, I guess there was. I was remiss. I'm sorry." Everyone accepted that.
MR. GIBSON: They said "good show."
MR. LEA: Good show — that's right. Then later on we have this conflict of interest, and hence the amendment that we are debating today.
MR. GIBSON: Bad show!
MR. LEA: Bad show! Thanks! (Laughter.)
Now the Minister of Consumer Services (Hon. Mr. Mair) would have us believe that there is no conflict of interest unless conflict of interest did, in fact, take place — which is, of course, untrue. In other words, he is saying that if no one made any money out of a conflict of interest situation then it was not conflict of interest.
[ Page 2743 ]
Last night when the Minister of Mines was interviewed, he stated the same philosophy. He said: "If no money was made, then it isn't a conflict of interest." That is where we disagree. It must not only have no conflict of interest, but it must appear that there is no conflict of interest.
The minister said that the worst must happen — that there has been money made or the possibility of money being made before there is a conflict of interest. Mr. Chairman, we now have proof that the very thing the minister said had to happen before there was conflict of interest has happened. Today Mr. Jurgen Lau has admitted what the minister said had to happen before there was a conflict of interest. In today's Victoria Times — and here's an excerpt from today's story on this matter: "During the telephone interview Lau said he had talked to Reynolds about the tax legislation. 'The members of the committee went to interview various representatives of mining companies,' he said."
In other words, Mr. Lau has now said that in the course of his duties in drafting this legislation he went and talked to Bethlehem Copper — to Bethlehem Copper — about the legislation. So what the minister feared may happen has happened. In other words, people who were on that committee who are not under oath of secrecy to government and the people of British Columbia did go to mining companies and discuss this legislation. So we clearly have a case of conflict of interest. Clearly.
But we didn't need that kind of proof when we are talking about this kind of situation. What the government doesn't seem to understand is that if there is a possibility of someone using the information they are privy to and are not under oath of secrecy, then there is a conflict of interest. There is a conflict of interest, and that situation should not be allowed.
A motion of non-confidence against the minister: I believe that it's too bad that this amendment is in front of this Legislature, because we had hoped, as I pointed out earlier, that once bitten, twice shy. I think that people were willing to forgive because of the manner in which the minister handled the first conflict-of-interest situation he found himself in. People were willing to forgive.
The members of this House said: "He's new, not only as a minister, but he's new to politics and new to this Legislature and new to the rules." Everyone was willing to forget that and to forgive.
But here we have a situation where we would not be doing our duties to the people of this province if we were to forget and to forgive, because we do not have it within our power to forgive; and we cannot forget, because we do not represent ourselves, but we represent the people of this province, as we all do.
When the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer) was defending the fact, in speaking to this amendment, he was defending the fact that he had mining shares and therefore...and the mining shares were "a dog." They like that expression, Mr. Chairman — they talk about all their stock as being dogs. Now the Minister of Education said that yes, he did have some shares but it was "a dog." But again he failed to tell all of the story, because the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) said that the Minister of Education had shares in Stanrock. The Minister of Education took his place in this House and said: "Yes, but it's a dog, and they're not worth anything."
What the Minister of Education failed to point out was that in 1973 Stanrock was amalgamated with Denison Mines on a share-for-share basis. Can anyone in this Legislature call Denison Mines a dog in terms of what that company is worth and in terms of what those shares are worth in Denison Mines?
Denison Mines amalgamated in 1973 — Stanrock with Denison Mines on a share-for-share basis. Again we weren't told everything by that Minister of Education — only what he thought would be palatable to the House, to the media and to the people of this province.
What are we looking at here today, Mr. Chairman? Twice — twice since this parliament has sat, questions have been asked of ministers. They have stood up in this House and said one thing; then memoranda were produced, and they changed their story. Once with the Minister of Environment (Hon. Mr. Nielsen) and now with the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Waterland) — twice that has happened in this House, Mr. Chairman.
Are we to assume that, unless the operation produces a memorandum on every occasion a question is asked a minister in this House, they will not tell us the whole story? We have to have a memorandum before we can get the whole story — that's what happened with the Minister of Mines, and that is why this amendment is in front of us today. That is why.
For an hour he sat in this House and stuck with one story. A memo was brought to light in this House, and he changed his story. The Minister of Environment stuck with his story. A memo was produced; he changed his story. How do we know...?
AN HON. MEMBER: Who stole the document?
MR. LEA: I stole nothing! The only thing you can do is attack the messenger. That's all you can do. They don't say: "We did wrong."
"You shouldn't have had the memo," they say. "Why did you have the memo? How did you get the memo?" Stand damned by the memo!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, we are dealing
[ Page 2744 ]
with this amendment, please.
HON. MR. NIELSEN: Who stole the memo?
MR. LEA: Mr. Chairman, I would ask the Minister of Environment to withdraw that I stole the memo.
HON. MR. NIELSEN: I said: "Who stole the memo?"
MR. LEA: I would ask the minister to withdraw. He said: "You stole the memo."
MR. LEA: He said "You stole the memo." The records will show that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, I heard the words "Who stole?" — That was a question: "Who stole the memo?" I was listening very closely. "Who stole the memo?"
MR. LEA: That's a good question. That is a good question, and if I were you, I'd look rather closer to home.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would you kindly proceed with the amendment, Hon. Member?
HON. MR. NIELSEN: Have you got the guts to answer?
MR. LEA: Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. LEA: The same person who stole the briefcase during the election — that's who did it.
HON. MR. NIELSEN: Who was that?
MR. LEA: A nondescript person, carrying a brown manila envelope, who delivered it to me in a motel room in Vancouver at the same time that you received the memo that was stolen during the election campaign.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, will you kindly turn to the amendment, and can we kindly have order in the House?
MR. LEA: That's who.
MR. LEA: Sure.
AN HON. MEMBER: Show us.
MR. LEA: This was no one sharing the information.
HON. MR. NIELSEN: Who gave the memo?
MR. LEA: It's none of your business.
AN HON. MEMBER: Order!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please, hon. member.
MR. LEA: If you let him say that, let me say this: all you have to do is stand up and deny that what was in the memo was true, which you cannot do.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. LEA: Don't attack the messenger.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would members on both sides of the House kindly deal with the amendment?
MR. LEA: You lied to the House — now live with it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, will you kindly return to the amendment, please?
MR. LEA: Right. I'll return to the amendment.
HON. MR. NIELSEN: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order, I would ask the member for Prince Rupert to withdraw his remark that I lied to the House.
MR. LEA: Then call motion No. 9 on the order paper. Call motion No. 9! Get it on the floor of this House. Let's find out. Call motion No. 9.
HON. MR. NIELSEN: Mr. Chairman....
MR. LEA: Call motion No. 9! Call it!
[Mr. Chairman rises.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. member, order, please! Will you kindly withdraw? Thank you. Will you kindly return to the amendment?
[Mr. Chairman resumes his seat.]
MR. LEA: Now we have one minister standing up in this House — the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer) — saying that his stock is a dog; then we find out it was traded share-for-share with Denison Mines,
[ Page 2745 ]
which we also know is not a dog. That's what we know.
We know that we have a minister who will not answer questions until a memorandum is produced. The only answers he gave were in direct contradiction not only to the memorandum that was produced but also in direct contradiction to the words of Mr. Lau when speaking to reporters.
What we cannot understand on this side of the House, Mr. Chairman, is why the minister cannot see that the amendment which is before this House, and is in order for this committee...why he can't see that it is a conflict of interest. It is a conflict of interest. You don't write taxation legislation that is going to give the mining companies a free ride by using people who are involved in the mining industry.
Now they have tried to throw in a red herring, Mr. Chairman, They have tried to say: "Well, you people did it when you were in government." Okay, let's examine it in two different ways.
If we had done it when we were in government, and it was wrong, as they are implying, then it implies that they are wrong and he should resign. But that is not the case. The case is that the legislation we brought in taxed the mining companies. The mining legislation they've brought in gives the mining companies in this province a free ride. And why now? Because the mining companies paid a great deal of money to get the Social Credit elected.
And guess what. Lo and behold, one of the candidates running for the Social Credit just happened to be a mining engineer. And guess what? He just ended up being Minister of Mines. And guess what? Mining people drafted his legislation. Guess what. The legislation gives the mining companies in this province a free ride like they never had, not even under the old Social Credit government. A complete free ride.
They say: "Tax the non-profit." Everybody knows that when they get finished with the federal legislation allowing for tax loopholes there aren't any profits. Seventeen and a half per cent of what? Why not make it 300 per cent? Why not make it 500 per cent? Because 500 per cent of nothing is the same as 17.5 per cent of nothing.
A free ride, that's what it is. That's bad enough; if he'd have thought it up on his own, or within his department, or with people under the oath of secrecy, and wanted to give them a free ride, that's bad. But to have them draft their own legislation giving themselves a free ride at the expense of the people of this province is a moral sin, along with being a breach of parliamentary law.
He knows it; that minister knows it. Everyone knows that it's not a good thing for one's personal sense of pride to be a minister for a few short months and then have to resign under a dark cloud. But that's what this action calls for. It calls for the resignation of a man who made not only one mistake but two mistakes.
The first one everybody said: "We'll forgive and we'll forget." But when he makes another mistake along the exact same lines as the first one a short while later, and then doesn't tell all in this House the second time, the people of this province have the right to demand a resignation from that minister; and if he doesn't do the honourable thing and resign on his own accord, the Premier of this province has the solemn duty to fire that minister.
But he knows if he does that it's kiss goodbye to the money from the mining companies for the next campaign. That's what it boils down to. That minister has got a safe job. That minister's job is safe forever because he is the mining companies' boy.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. member, you appear to be imputing improper motives.
MR. LEA: Not unless you draw that inference. I don't.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Are you imputing improper motives?
MR. LEA: No, I'm just laying it out as I see the facts. I'm not doing what you suggest at all.
In conclusion, and I need no help from the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy)....
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Chairman, I would ask on behalf of the integrity of this House that the hon. member would withdraw a remark that he has called the mines minister, "the mining companies' boy."
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. member, will you withdraw that?
MR. LEA: No, I won't. It's not out of order.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Just one moment, hon. member, just one moment.
AN HON. MEMBER: What kind of game are we playing here?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. member, the term itself is not unparliamentary, but if you were imputing
[ Page 2746 ]
anything improper to the minister, then you must withdraw. Are you imputing anything improper?
MR. LEA: Mr. Chairman, I'd already done that before the hon. Provincial Secretary took her place. On a point of order, I've already done that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Are you imputing anything improper?
MR. LEA: No, of course not.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, hon. member.
MR. LEA: In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, it's interesting to see the look of outrage on the face of some of the cabinet ministers, especially on the Minister of Environment's (Hon. Mr. Nielsen's) face. Would he have treated this lightly had he still been an open mouth on a radio station? Or would he have been out yelling about the very thing that we're yelling about? But now he has his nice cushy job. What is he doing over there? When was the last time anybody heard from that minister on anything even resembling morality? When was he last heard to be speaking about upholding the rights of people in this province?
He has come into this Legislature and said virtually very little since he arrived, and if you contrast that with his record when he was a "hotliner" on CJOR, it's a rather startling revelation to find out there's lots to say out there, but very little to say in here. If he wants to defend the minister of the government, stand up and do it; don't just smile. Stand up and put your mouth where it always was up until December 11 — open.
MR. W. DAVIDSON (Delta): Mr. Chairman, there has been a great deal of rhetoric surrounding this debate, but I think quite possibly the hon. leader of the Liberal Party had a good point to make when he said yesterday, and I quote from a copy of the Blues:
"Hon. members in this House may disagree as to the usefulness of this bill or not, but that is not what is in question today. What is in question today is whether anyone outside of the government was privy to the probable form of the new mining tax legislation as to any important particulars which would in any way give them any sort of financial advantage..."
MR. LEA: Thank you, Dan Campbell.
"...even potential financial advantage, through the use of that knowledge. Were there any persons who were privy to such information...?"
Mr. Chairman, I would like now in speaking against the particular motion to enlarge just a little bit on that and just who was privy to such information. I was privy to such information, as were thousands and thousands and thousands of British Columbians. This is a particular piece of Social Credit information which was circulated prior to the election.
MR. LEA: What percentage did it mention?
MR. DAVIDSON: I would point out on point number 11, Mr. Chairman, "repeal of the Mineral Royalties Act" that it was well known that the repeal of the Mineral Royalties Act was, in fact, a strong base of this party's programme. I would also point out in our colour brochure which was also circulated to almost every person in this province: "Create more jobs in mining by ending punitive legislation."
I would point out as well, Mr. Chairman, under Tuesday, December 14, from the Colonist list of Social Credit promises, first on the list, "Change the Mineral Royalties Act and tax profits of mining companies."
[Mr. Schroeder in the chair.]
MR. N. LEVI: What about the Mincome promise?
MR. DAVIDSON: Mr. Chairman, in addition, from The Daily Colonist of Thursday, January 15, directly relating to the matter before this House:
"Vancouver — Mineral Royalties To Be Replaced. Mines minister Thomas Waterland promised British Columbia and Yukon Chamber of Mines Tuesday that he will replace royalties on metallic minerals with a profit-based tax."
"Waterland said, however, that before royalties are replaced the government will determine what level of taxation will assure a healthy industry."
Further, Mr. Chairman, from the Vancouver Province, January 20, 1976:
"Socred resource minister Tom Waterland has announced that royalties on metallic minerals will be replaced by a profit-based tax and NDP mining legislation will be amended accordingly."
Mr. Chairman, I respectfully suggest that a great many people in this province, if not almost everyone, was fully aware of the intention of this government to replace the super-royalty, to amend the Mineral Royalties Act and that the arguments put forward by the opposition in the motion before this House are totally without foundation, are nothing but a cheap political ploy trying to embarrass one of the finest
[ Page 2747 ]
ministers that this government has ever seen.
MR. J.J. HEWITT (Boundary-Similkameen): Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak against the amendment. As a new member in this House, I must admit that sometimes I get a little shocked and a little dismayed in regard to the antics of the opposition.
MR. LEA: You should have been here when they were opposition.
MR. HEWITT: The first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk), whom I can only assume is a very astute lawyer, knows full well the effect of an innuendo. Last night he implied in this House that 16 members of the Social Credit Party were going to benefit in some way in regard to the legislation that has gone through and the fact that they have invested in mining stock.
He has been corrected on several instances, at which he usually replies some cute phrase. But he has been corrected, and I would just like to correct him also again. He mentioned that I own shares in Cominco mining stocks. I was very pleased to hear that for a short period of time, because unfortunately, I don't own any shares in that company. But that's not the point, Mr. Chairman, that's not the point.
The point really is the tactics that are used by the member for Vancouver Centre. I've got to get the pronunciation of this.
AN HON. MEMBER: Innuendo.
MR. HEWITT: Innuendo — is that correct? (Laughter.)
MR. HEWITT: No, the hon. leader...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order!
MR. HEWITT: ...of the Liberal Party (Mr. Gibson) sent me this note. I don't know whether it is a racist note or not. (Laughter.)
AN HON. MEMBER: No, you were right. It's innuendo.
MR. HEWITT: Innuendo — how does that sound?
MR. HEWITT: But, Mr. Chairman, those are the tactics that are used, the implying of something that is not done properly.
The Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer) this afternoon stood up in his place and pointed out, I think, very clearly in this House....
MR. BARRETT: All you Liberals stick together.
MR. HEWITT: Mr. Chairman, as a new member, I'd ask the opposition to show a little respect. Maybe you could tell them to be kind to the poor member for Boundary-Similkameen.
Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Education pointed out very clearly in the House the involvement of the former Premier (Mr. Barrett) and the A-G (Mr. Macdonald) with Mr. Lau when the coal bill was drafted. He pointed that out to them. I don't hear any denials of that fact.
MR. BARRETT: Of course not.
MR. HEWITT: The hon. Leader of the Opposition says "of course not," so he's in agreement. I guess that nothing was wrong with regard to getting professional help in drafting the bill. He agrees with that. He has stated in this House that he agrees with that. I think that's very fair of the Leader of the Opposition.
AN HON. MEMBER: Double-standard Dave.
MR. HEWITT: Someone mentioned "double-standard Dave." I don't know whether that's correct or not, but, Mr. Chairman, this opposition has delayed this House on several occasions, and as a new member I am somewhat saddened by this. Last Thursday we sat and listened to the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard (Ms. Brown) for two and a half hours. I think the order came from Penticton, where the hon. Leader of the Opposition was, to hold on till he could get back into the House to participate.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, please....
MR. HEWITT: Mr. Chairman, I will go straight to the amendment, if you wish.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, return, please, to the amendment.
MR. HEWITT: Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would you like me to read it again?
MR. HEWITT: No. I fully understand the amendment.
Yesterday, Mr. Chairman, we went through this harangue, this debate, innuendo, implication; we went through all this, and we're going through it
[ Page 2748 ]
again today. I could probably relate to the hon. member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea) another instance where a memo arrived in his possession. He made a great to-do about the memo, but he never stood up and said how he got that memo. The fact that it was an original memo....
MR. HEWITT: Yes, it was original, but I wonder how honourable the hon. member from Prince Rupert is in acquiring such a document?
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, back to the amendment.
MR. HEWITT: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I'm sorry. I will relate to the amendment.
MR. LEA: I returned the memo.
MR. HEWITT: Mr. Chairman, the people of this province recognize the frailty of that opposition over there.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Members, order! May I remind you again of 17(2), whereby any member standing in his place has the floor and shall not be interrupted. Thank you so much for your assistance.
MR. HEWITT: I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman. They were getting unruly over there.
Mr. Chairman, I think the people of the province will recognize the frailty of the opposition. They're clutching at straws. The question is: why? They know that this Minister of Mines can and will get the mining industry on its feet again.
AN HON. MEMBER: I'll say they will!
MR. HEWITT: They're frightened. They know the effect; they know the benefits of Bills 30 and 57 to this province. They're frightened, they're nervous, and they're ashamed of what they've done in the mining industry while they were in office. They can only deal in things that imply poor conduct on the part of members of the government who happen to invest in the province of B.C. in shares and companies, who are trying to create employment. They can only deal in innuendoes. I would ask the more sensible members in that opposition — such as the second member for Victoria (Mr. Barber), who stood up in this House and commented on the conduct in this House — to stand up and defeat this amendment in order that we can get on with the business of this province.
MS. BROWN: Let's hear from the minister.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Chairman, I don't know if I'm going to answer the previous speaker's prayer for a sensible member of the opposition, but I am going to give him my opinion on how members of this House should vote on this very serious matter. Every member, Mr. Chairman, is going to have to search his conscience, and is going to have to decide whether to support the government on the one hand, or whether to support the facts and the parliamentary system on the other. I think it comes down to about that kind of question. That's why I call it a serious question.
All the evidence we need is before us. There are two questions. The first question relates to the propriety of an unsworn consultant being privy to measures of a budgetary nature in advance of their revelation to the House.
I thank the hon. member for Delta (Mr. Davidson) for quoting me at length, based on what I said on this yesterday. Perhaps he will allow the author to explain that what I meant was not quite what the hon. member for Delta said. The fact that the Social Credit Party had revealed, in its campaign literature and during the spring, that Bill 31 was to be repealed was not really the question of substance that was important here. What was important was the nature of the tax legislation.
Without impinging on the content of the particular bill, it was a question of what the rate of the tax was to be, exactly how the various mines were to be assessed, depletion, calculation of capital cost allowance — all of these kinds of things which are extraordinarily important in determining the profitability of mining operations, and the kind of information that, once one knows its nature in detail, allows one, either themselves or working through colleagues, to potentially profit thereby. With great respect to the Minister of Consumer Services, who intervened in the debate and said that an actual conflict of interest had to be proven, I would disagree with him. I would agree that it would be a useful thing if an investigation were to be undertaken to see if there were, indeed, an actual conflict of interest. That would be useful. But that's a separate question.
A potential conflict of interest is entirely sufficient to justify a severe parliamentary injunction upon the minister who has allowed such a conflict of interest to occur. Hon. members will all be familiar with the Minister of Finance in the British House of Commons who, just a few minutes before entering the House during the budget debate, tossed off a remark to a waiting reporter about a taxation change that was going to be made, a relatively minor taxation change. I think it had something to do with the price of cigarettes or something like that. There was no way that the reporter could have made any money on that information, but nevertheless a budgetary secret
[ Page 2749 ]
had been revealed. A taxation bill had been revealed, and the Minister of Finance resigned.
Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, he didn't need any coaching by members of the House of Commons that he should resign. He knew well and of himself that what he had done was wrong. It was inadvertent, but he was a man of honour, and he resigned.
MR. DAVIDSON: He's a socialist, and he wanted out.
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, come on!
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Chairman, there can be no doubt that in the instant case there has been an unsworn consultant used in the specific drafting of legislation in a very way which had made him privy to details of that legislation and, thereby, raised a potential conflict of interest.
That to me is an open-and-shut case. There's no doubt about it, and that, of itself, is sufficient to call for everyone in this House to examine their conscience and vote for this amendment.
One of the difficulties of the parliamentary system, as opposed to the congressional system — and there is no doubt about this — is the fact that because what the government introduces it almost always passes, it means that these kind of financial measures have to be kept secret.
It would be a lovely thing, as the federal Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Macdonald) has recently said, if there were ways of consulting in specific detail with interest groups in our society in advance of a budget, to say: "What would you think of exactly that change?" But those ways haven't been found yet, and it's not up to any minister to breach that principle until those ways have been found.
So what's the government's defence on this question No. 1 this afternoon, Mr. Chairman? The government defence has been very simple. They have been pointing to the former government and have been saying: "You guys did it, so it's okay if we did it too." That's not good enough. Don't you realize that the former government was dealt with by the people on December 11? It's not the estimates of the former government that are up here today. It's the estimates of the current government, and that's what we are dealing with, and that is what this vote is all about.
MR. GIBSON: Is this new government going to follow all the policies of the former government and say: "They did it, so we are going to, too"? Of course, they're not. They're just using that justification this time because they find it convenient.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. GIBSON: It may be convenient, Mr. Chairman, but it doesn't wash.
Now, Mr. Chairman, the second question is one related to the minister himself — to the integrity and to the competence and perhaps to the naivete of the minister. I think the Minister's naivete was somewhat demonstrated in an earlier conflict-of-interest case when, members may recall, he put up $1,000 for a gentleman to develop an advertising programme for the mining industry. In order to demonstrate the naivete a little, I would like to show the House some of the product of that campaign.
I'll just show a couple of slogans. These were presented to a meeting of mining people, and I heard that a chuckle or two came back. There are two slogans here. The first one says: "It's All in the Mined." (Laughter.) These are slogans for the mining industry, members will recall. The second one I particularly like, worth particularly $500, and it says: "You Save Mines — We'll Save Yours." (Laughter.)
SOME HON. MEMBERS: More, more!
MR. GIBSON: So that, if you like, Mr. Chairman, was a little $1,000 grace note.
AN HON. MEMBER: That's $500 apiece.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. GIBSON: But now we have a more serious case before the House, Mr. Chairman, and that is an attempt by the minister not to react in a free and open way to a question made in this House — as the parliamentary system requires, because ministers must be open and above board with this House — but, rather, to attempt to hide something over a certain course of debate which stretched yesterday in this House for, if memory serves me, more than a hour and a half.
The case opened with the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) raising the case of Mr. Lau and suggesting that Mr. Lau had had something to do with the drafting of the mineral resources tax legislation. The minister, in his first response to the member for Vancouver Centre, was very specific. He said: "Mr. Lau had nothing to do with that legislation." Very specific and definite.
Just one page later on the minister said: "While Mr. Lau did draft the Coal Act, he did not draft the Mineral Resources Tax Act."
The debate ebbed and flowed, and the minister was asked a little later whether Mr. Lau had seen a draft of the legislation before it was introduced by message in this Legislature. The minister, at that time, entered a reply in the proceedings that I can only
[ Page 2750 ]
characterize as evasive. He said: "Mr. Chairman, when this legislation was drafted, it was a message bill. Two copies were presented to me, both of which stayed in my custody until such time as they were introduced into this House." To me, that's a clear evasion of the question, a question which hon. members opposite had every right to ask, a question that touches very much the parliamentary responsibility of the minister for a taxation bill.
Why couldn't the minister be open about it? Why didn't he say: "Well, this kind of thing may have happened. I don't know. I'll go get the evidence." Why did he try and hide it? Later on, after the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) had asked whether or not Mr. Lau had met in room 223 on May 13 with certain officers in order to draft the taxation bill, the minister said: "I do not know whether Mr. Lau met in room 223 on May 13. I cannot confirm that."
Then sometime later, after the minister had been under very serious pressure, he was able to come up with the information. "The information which the former Minister of Mines has, a memo describing the meeting on May 13 in room 223, in which he states that Mr. G. Cross, director of civil law of the Attorney-General's department, Mr. Peter Myers, departmental solicitor for the Department of Mines, and Mr. W. Wood, of the legislative counsel, discussed this draft legislation with members of the tax committee, is a fact."
Finally, under very heavy pressure, and after the passage of well over an hour, the minister was forced to admit something which he has very explicitly denied at the beginning of that time. What had changed his mind in that period of over an hour? He hadn't left this chamber, Mr. Chairman. I don't believe that either of his officials had left the chamber, and yet all of a sudden he seemed to have new knowledge, knowledge which came to him curiously, after the revelation by the member for Vancouver Centre that he had a piece of hard-copy evidence in front of him. He had a memorandum there which said that that meeting had taken place.
To return to the argument of the hon. member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea), is this House to be in a position where we can't get candid admissions out of ministers unless we can produce hard, documentary evidence? Are we not to be entitled to ask questions and be entitled to replies — open and frank replies — to those questions?
This House has to function on trust, Mr. Chairman. That is why we have strictures about the use of certain language being unparliamentary, because the use of that language seems to deny the existence of that basic trust we must have. And yet that parliamentary institution and requirement of trust can be undermined just as effectively by actions which make it apparent that trust is not warranted as it can by overt words, and it is just as reprehensible and just as much to be condemned by this House.
That is why this motion is correct. That is why the most serious remedies are required. This is neither the first nor last time that a cover-up has been attempted in this chamber. It is a sad thing, because I think it is perhaps something into which the minister stumbled inadvertently, as he did that first piece of naivete. I hope that he and every other member, every other minister on the treasury benches opposite, will say, no matter how much it hurts at the start: "We'll always do better to tell the truth when we're asked embarrassing questions rather than try and hide something." Anything else is dangerous to parliament, Mr. Chairman.
That, as I said, is why the most serious remedies are required. The vote to reduce the minister's salary by $1 — I guess it won't cripple him financially — but it means a lot to confidence. It means that if it passes....
MR. DAVIDSON: It won't!
MR. GIBSON: I'll come back to that in a moment, Mr. Member.
It means that if it passes, the minister must resign, and that's not a bad thing. Ministers have resigned before and spent a time in the wilderness — and the minister tells us he came from the bush — and returned with honour. It's not a bad thing.
But now we've heard the hon. member for Delta (Mr. Davidson) interject across the floor that it won't pass. I think he means to use his crushing government majority on us, Mr. Chairman. I think he means to say that irrespective of the merits of this motion, irrespective of the clear evidence which is before us on these two questions, the first one being the use of an unsworn consultant in sensitive taxation budgetary-type information, and the second, being the attempt to hide and cover up for over an hour the responsibility of the minister in this case — both those documented in this chamber, both of those documented in the minister's words — I think the member says he intends to examine his conscience and support the government instead of the facts and the parliamentary system. Because that's what any kind of vote against this motion will mean.
The evidence is very clear, Mr. Chairman, and I intend to support it.
HON. T.M. WATERLAND (Minister of Petroleum Resources): In January, three men were selected to form a tax committee to work with my deputy minister, Dr. FyIes, to investigate the taxation of mining in British Columbia. This group worked together for a period of time and came up with a
[ Page 2751 ]
report entitled "Mineral Resources Taxation in British Columbia."
MR. BARRETT: Will you file that?
HON. MR. WATERLAND: Now this report, Mr. Chairman, was given to legislative counsel, and they were asked to draft legislation to bring into effect the recommendations in this report. I was aware of the fact that legislative counsel had, from time to time, asked members of this committee to come to Victoria to consult with them regarding the drafting of the legislation. I was not aware of the fact that these men were actually involved in the drafting with legislative counsel. I was not aware of that yesterday, and I could not answer the question which was posed to me yesterday. Legislative counsel had gone beyond the point of simple consultation, and they had, in fact, had these men assist them in drafting the report, which apparently is quite in order because it has been done many, many times in the past on tax measures and on non-tax measures, on many message bills.
Mr. Chairman, I did not have the information at hand; I could not answer it. I was hoping that perhaps someone would come to me with the information of whether or not these fellows had worked in the actual drafting of the report. That did not happen. I was not aware until the former Minister of Mines, the member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk), read the memo. He could have saved a great deal of time if he had, in fact, read the memo to start with, because I was in no way attempting to cover up or keep anything from this House, and I never shall.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
HON. MR. WATERLAND: I have today looked into this matter quite extensively, obviously, and I find that during the actual drafting, quite frequently, the three members who are on this committee did, in fact, sit down with legislative counsel on more than a consultation basis. They actually did work on the drafting, as has been done for many years in the past.
Now we come to the thing of breach of professional ethics, of people being privy to information, and about Mr. Lau discussing the fact he was working on a mining and tax report with the mining industry. This was what was required. We told the committee: "When you are gathering information to determine the proper level of taxation for mines in British Columbia you must go to the mining industry; you must go to the people in accounting who deal with the mining industry; you must go to the universities; you must go to the federal government." And they did this. They met with many, many mining companies, not just Bethlehem Copper.
Mr. Chairman, when the previous government was drafting their mineral royalties legislation, they said, "We will consult with the industry," and I assumed that they had. But apparently they didn't. We did consult with the industry — very extensively — because it was necessary to come up with proper mining tax legislation, which we have done.
[Mr. Rogers in the chair.]
Now Mr. Lau is a man who has, as has been pointed out, dealt with the government on many occasions. He was asked for his advice on Bill 31 from the previous government, the mineral royalties taxation. He gave his opinion. His opinion wasn't what the government wanted to hear, but nevertheless, they asked his opinion, and he gave it. He was privy to that information. If a person wanted to make money by misusing privileged information, the chances of making money when that legislation was introduced by selling short on the stock market were infinite.
Now since this mining taxation bill has been introduced there has been very, very little effect, if any, on the stock market, on the prices of mining companies in British Columbia.
MR. GIBSON: There could have been.
HON. MR. WATERLAND: They say that the taxation level is too high — and I hope it's not — but it's in an area where our judgment feels it should be. This whole business, Mr. Chairman, I think is actually uncalled for. There's no conflict of interest. The normal, proper procedures have been carried out. I did not know how much involved in the preparation of legislation these consultants got with legislative counsel. Legislative counsel was quite in order in doing it, apparently, because it is done all the time.
MR. KING: You said you had charge of the bills.
HON. MR. WATERLAND: I said the final draft of the bill — and, as a matter of fact, the galley proof of the bill — was not seen by any person outside of my office. Mr. Lau did not see the bill. He saw the drafts of it; he did not see the galley proof, or whatever you call it. He did not see it. I was in contact with Mr. Lau today, and he said most emphatically: "No, I did not." Of course, until the final bill is brought forward, no one knows what is in it, except those who set the type, I would guess.
Mr. Lau, Mr. Stekl and Mr. Bell worked with legislative counsel, as I learned yesterday, in order to draft it. They were aware of what was being drafted, and I guess they could quite logically assume that the final draft they saw was going to be very close to what came out. In fact, there was one minor change
[ Page 2752 ]
made after that.
MR. LEA: When did you find out?
HON. MR. WATERLAND: Mr. Chairman, I am not guilty of any attempt to deliberately mislead this House. This bill was drafted in normal fashion, following accepted and established procedures. I urge the members to vote against this amendment.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Chairman, the more the minister speaks, the more he gets in the shaft — if I may use his department's own analogy. I have to quote back statements that have been made, and then the statements that you've just made now.
Yesterday you told this House, after hours of silence, and I quote from the Hansard: "Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation."
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, please address the Chair.
MR. BARRETT: Yes, Mr. Chairman. That's what the minister told the Chair and the rest of us: "Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation."
Now I understand what you are saying: I think the Liberal leader (Mr. Gibson) understood what you said; I think the Conservative leader (Mr. Wallace) understood what you said; and, frankly, I think your backbenchers understand what this means. The minister's words were: "Mr Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation."
MR. KING: He's pulling a W.A.C. Bennett; he turns his back.
MR. BARRETT: Now, Mr. Chairman....
MR. KING: Face the music!
MR. BARRETT: What else was said, now? What was said was, "I was hoping that someone would come forward with the information," and: "I did not know until the member read the memo to me."
For over an hour and a half we asked the minister the specific question: "Did Mr. Lau have access to a draft of that bill?" For an hour and a half we had silence. Now, 24 hours later, he stands up and says: "I was hoping someone would come forward with the information."
Mr. Minister, you are the one to come forward with the information when you are asked a question — not someone else. If you don't have that information, that's why your deputy sits next to you. I ask you this question: during that hour and a half, did you ask your deputy whether or not Mr. Lau was involved in seeing the legislation?
You did not stand up in this House during that hour and a half and say: "I have now sent out for the information to answer your question." You gave no indication to anyone in this House that you had taken the question and were seeking the information. Today you piously stand up and say: "I was waiting for someone to come forward with the information." You never asked your own deputy! You sat there for an hour and a half, and now you get up and piously say, "I was waiting for someone to come forward with the information," after you made the statement.
MR. BARRETT: After you made this statement in the House that Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, please address the Chair.
MR. BARRETT: Yes, Mr. Chairman. I hate to have to address the Chair in such circumstances — a neophyte member in the chair shouldn't be subject to this kind of debate, because it will dampen your whole impression of responsibility of legislators.
AN HON. MEMBER: Poor, tender ears!
MR. BARRETT: It's true. I know it's true; none of you backbenchers ever thought you'd be placed in this situation of having to defend such a weak case.
MR. DAVIDSON: Garbage!
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Chairman, the minister said to this House yesterday: "Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation." I ask the minister: were you telling the truth at that time, or were you telling a lie at that time?
I ask the minister to answer this question: when you made this statement yesterday in the House, "Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation," were you telling the truth or were you telling a lie? It has to be one way or the other, because today you've told us that you didn't know, when yesterday you made a statement that indicated you knew something. You've just said within the last 10 minutes: "I was not aware of the fact." Why would you say Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation yesterday and then say today: "I was not aware"?
Now what is going on here? You can't wash away in 24 hours one position with protesting to another position.
Mr. Chairman, through you, I want to know from the minister — when he makes a statement, as he did within the last 10 minutes: "I was hoping someone
[ Page 2753 ]
would come forward with the information" — whether or not he asked his deputy for the information before or after, or indeed at all, he made the statement: "Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation."
The member for Dewdney (Mr. Mussallem), who has difficulty in hearing at the best of times, Mr. Chairman, is not the minister's deputy. And then to have the pious hope, through you, Mr. Chairman, that someone would feel sympathy for the line: "I was hoping someone would come forward with the information" and then saying that the Vancouver Centre MLA finally gave him the information after he made the statement: "Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation...."
Through you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Minister, the more you talk, the more you dig yourself in. The more you stand up on your feet trying to evade and dodge and dive from your position yesterday of an hour and a half of silence after making this statement, the more you get yourself dug in.
MR. KING: Then he blames his staff.
MR. BARRETT: Then to say wistfully in front of this House, that "I hoped that someone would come forward with the information"!
Mr. Chairman, I know you agree that you cannot within 24 hours switch and turn and change your position, after having said yesterday Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation, to say: "I was hoping someone would come forward with the information." You had your deputy with you for an hour and a half, Mr. Chairman, and today you say that you are not aware of the fact.
Are you saying, Mr. Chairman, that your deputy did not know? Did you ask your deputy? We provide chairs on the floor of this House for the information to be available directly to the minister. Mr. Chairman, the people's business is done openly and in public here in this chamber, and information is what the minister should be giving this House. He should not be asking the opposition to provide him with information he should be providing this House.
After an hour and a half, Mr. Chairman, we had to tell him that Mr. Lau had seen a draft of the bill, after he had said Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation. Through you, Mr. Chairman, don't ask us to come in here and vote any other way than against the minister who in 24 hours would change his position. Those who understand that most are those who have had the honour of presenting an opposition position for Her Majesty in their brief years both in the Conservative Party and in the Social Credit Party, and they know what their honour-bound duty is on this kind of evidence in front of them. I know that even switching parties doesn't contain shifts in conscience. I know that even the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Curtis) knows how to add 2 and 2 and get 5.
Mr. Chairman, the minister has been wrong. You have been wrong, through you, Mr. Chairman, to tell this House that Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of that legislation. If today your position is that you didn't know, why did you say that yesterday?
Why did you say yesterday that Mr. Lau had nothing to do with the drafting of the legislation when you say today, through you, Mr. Chairman, you didn't know?
Would you like to make a note of the questions, or is it necessary for me to repeat them, through you, Mr. Chairman?
The next question: You say you were hoping someone would come through with information. Through you, Mr. Chairman, did you ask your deputy yesterday during that hour and a half for that information? Yes or no.
Those are two questions now that have to be asked in light of what you said yesterday and what you're trying to piously peddle today. Lord knows what change we'd have if we wait another 24 hours. We wouldn't know what position we'd be dealing with. The more you speak, Mr. Chairman, the more questions you raise than the ones you answer.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Chairman, I have no wish to greatly lengthen this debate, but I think there are two questions that have arisen. It is not in any way the kind of debate that I enjoy in this House, despite the importance of the debate on a point of principle; nor is it right that any member of the opposition should stand up and vote on this issue without standing in the House to explain very clearly his position.
As I see it there are two very clear issues. The question is: was there a conflict of interest? I might say in passing that it does not depend on the degree to which somebody might have made money or not made money. The question is: was there the real possibility of a conflict of interest? I think the answer unquestionably is yes.
The second point is even more important to the content of this amendment, and that is: regardless of the conflict of interest, does the opposition have the right, even when leaning backwards, to feel happy at the inept performance of the minister in the light of the issue that was raised, regardless of who was right or wrong? The manner in which the minister has dealt — or perhaps I should say failed to deal — quickly, responsibly, and with any measure of confidence in answering the opposition questions really, to me, is the essence of this debate.
There are contradictions which other members of the opposition have demonstrated as being obvious in the minister's responses. The minister didn't seem to
[ Page 2754 ]
know who had seen what, and then, being confronted with this very
serious challenge from the opposition, did not take the immediate
action of finding out, as was his prime responsibility as minister, and
didn't take the trouble right then to say to the people around
him: "Look, what is going on, or what did go is on?"
Either he did ask that question and got an answer which he didn't
like and then proceeded to try and sit tight, hoping that things
couldn't get any worse.... But, Mr. Chairman, the roof has fallen in on this minister on this issue.
Unfortunately, it has fallen in not because of the primary question that was
asked — because this conflict-of-interest matter has largely been the pot
calling the kettle black. Because the former government perhaps was less than
prudent, so much of this government's defence has rested on trying to
say "because these guys did it, it was all right for us to do it."
That's an incredibly inept, weak and pitiful, pathetic, transparent kind
God help this province if this government is going to try and
defend its mistakes on the basis of what these guys down there did.
You were elected to do a whole lot better. That's why you got elected,
not to make your own mistakes and then, when they're found out, turn
round and say: "Well, actually, that's just what those other guys
did." What an incredible attempt at defence!
We should rename the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer) "Smokey" because his smokescreen was just incredibly inept for the person apparently chosen by the government to bail them out of this mess.
So conflict of interest, in my opinion, did exist in this particular case. The degree to which it existed is debatable, but we are discussing a principle, not measurements of the amount of the mistake.
What really has disappointed me and what seems to have provoked this
lengthy debate is the fact that had the minister let it all hang out
when he was first asked.... I think all of us on this side of the House
are not suggesting that ministers, any more than any other human
beings, are infallible. But for goodness' sake, when you make a mistake
or when you are ignorant or when you
need help from your advisers, that's what they're paid $40,000 a year
to tell the minister.
Whether the minister in this case, Mr. Chairman, likes it or not,
that's where the buck stops — on the minister's desk. If your
assistants or your deputies get you into a box, what you do with them
in private is one thing, but your clear responsibility on the floor of
this House is to come clean.
I have said many times that my concern in this session of the Legislature has been the refighting of the election over and over again. Now we come to a situation where this minister.... I'm sure the mistake has been made completely innocently. I have not accused this minister of any wilful way, nor do I now suggest that he went out of his way or was even aware of some of the implications of his actions.
But when is this minister going to realize that in the very responsible position that he holds, whether it's Mines or Highways or Health or anything else, his is the ultimate responsibility. When mistakes occur, he is the captain of the ship. He is the one who takes whatever blame there is when the ship runs aground, even if it's somebody asleep at the wheel.
It's a question of responsibility and the manner in which the minister, having made a mistake, has failed to rise to that kind of expectation which people have of very senior leaders — political leaders and any other kind of leader.
In my view, that's what leadership is all about. When you make a mistake and you are found out, it makes no sense to try and provide convoluted explanations or to plead ignorance. When you are a leader politically or any other way, you're the responsible person. How you deal with the mistakes in your own camp that have caused you to get into this fix is another matter for your choosing.
But what has been so disappointing is that instead of just saying: "I didn't really know who saw what. I was not clear in my own mind that I ran the risk of creating a conflict of interest. I am a new minister...." God knows, I think those of us on this side of the House are willing to recognize the tremendous strain it must be to come into this House and right off the bat become a minister of the Crown. I recognize that.
But there is one thing I am not prepared to recognize from this minister or anybody else. They can be stupid; they can be inept; they can be neophytes. But when they are asked a fair, honest, open question to which the minister knows the answer, I am not prepared to take from this minister or anybody else the kind of perambulation around the facts and the smokescreen and then the air of affront when the opposition, as it is entitled to do, criticizes the minister for his lack of responsibility.
I think the mistake he made was not a serious one in the circumstances. But unfortunately, it's not the first one he's made based on the same awareness of the responsibility of a minister of the Crown. The kind of mistake that was made earlier on, I think, and the degree to which it was raised, answered and dropped by the opposition shows that the opposition is prepared to not go to great lengths to castigate a minister for an innocent mistake.
But here again, a second mistake was made. Instead of the minister taking an open and reasonable position in responding, the whole thing has been dragged out, and a whole afternoon in the House has been taken up — which really, I'm sure, would have evaporated in a pretty small puff of smoke yesterday if, in fact, we had got down to the basic facts right there and then.
[ Page 2755 ]
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
MR. WALLACE: I am not going to be smart alec and say "I told you so." But there are examples all through the last several years that I've been in the House where the more the minister tries to hide behind his mistakes, the more tenacious becomes the opposition. Time is taken up, and usually if the facts had been readily admitted at the start, we wouldn't have half the trouble and acrimony we have in this House. And I can think back to a certain minister who perambulated all around the facts and finished up before a committee on privilege and took up hours and hours and hours of the time of this House.
All I'm saying is, for goodness sake, can we not all be a little more reasonable? We're not stupid over here, and we know you're not that dumb over there either. But when the facts start to unfold...and we don't need to look beyond the federal level to see some of the boxes that federal ministers get into simply because they won't answer questions. They seem to go on living in the hope that, somehow or other, facts that can be dug out will remain uncovered.
If this debate's done nothing else, I would like to think that all the ministers on that side of the House would follow the kind of example that we've had from two of the particular ministers. I won't beat about the bush. I'm saying the Attorney-General and the Minister of Labour have set an example to the cabinet of the value and the maturity and the progressive attitude of taking the initiative and telling this House things rather than waiting to have it dragged out of them to the possible advantage of the opposition.
MR. KING: You need more Liberals, Bill.
MR. WALLACE: And so I just don't want to take a completely negative position in castigating this particular minister. I'm just hoping that all of us can learn from the mistakes of the past and maybe also learn from some of the very positive attributes of your colleagues. There's no doubt in my mind that this minister's performance is very disappointing. I hope he's learned from his second mistake. But I have no option but to support the amendment for the reasons I've outlined.
MR. N. LEVI (Vancouver-Burrard): Mr. Chairman, some of the backbenchers may wonder why we've taken so much time in dealing with this minister's estimates and also in terms of this amendment. I would remind the backbenchers that some years ago in this House we spent over three days trying to get information out of a minister in relation to what was then known as the Commonwealth Trust thing. It took us three days to get some of the answers. In fact, it finally came so quick and fast that that table you're sitting on was literally full of papers. But it took three days. And that minister seems to be following the pattern with other ministers. If they get into a jam, they're blaming their civil servants. He's following the Minister of Health's line. That's what seems to be happening — that he's got to blame the civil servants. I found it incredible that he gets up this afternoon...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The second member for Vancouver-Burrard has the floor.
MR. LEVI: ...and in explanation he makes himself appear as though he was a little boy who got his hand caught in the cookie jar and that he's sorry for it. But, you know, it's becoming more complex, Mr. Chairman.
Yesterday he told us that Mr. Lau wasn't involved. Now we find out that Mr. Lau is involved and that there's no conflict of interest. Then today — and perhaps the minister, if he listens, could perhaps tell us this — in the Sun there's a statement by Mr. Lau. Lau said he "informed Waterland, the minister, of his connection with Barrier but said the minister 'didn't say anything'." He went on to say he has acted as a consultant for other mining companies, as has at least one other committee member working on the bill, but he declined to name him. Now perhaps the minister will tell us what other member of that committee is connected with the mining industry? Because he didn't want to tell us. That's what Mr. Lau said.
You know, there's a suggestion made by the member for Delta (Mr. Davidson) that because, in the propaganda put out by the Social Credit Party, they were going to repeal the mining legislation, somehow that's okay — that anything goes, that you can just talk to all sorts of people.
You know, I'm curious about the statement made by Mr. Reynolds from Bethlehem. He's quoted in the Thursday, May 20, edition of The Province, in which he said: "On the prospects for the current year, Reynolds said anticipated increases in the price of copper and expected reductions in company tax structure should result in better earnings." Well, we know about Bethlehem because, you know, Bethlehem suffered so badly under the NDP — they had a terrible time — so badly that at the end of December, 1975, they had over $60 million in the bank. And they had such a terrible time because of the NDP.
MR. LEVI: You know, Mr. Chairman, that three years ago we had a great debate in this House about the takeover of Can-Cel, and some of those people
[ Page 2756 ]
over there, including the Premier (Hon. Mr. Bennett), said that there was some inside knowledge about stocks and shares, and maybe members of the then cabinet were involved. They made a great to-do on this side of the House about that. They demanded an inquiry. They wanted to know whether any of the cabinet ministers had advance knowledge and did they make any money on the stock market. And they got pretty exercised about that.
Okay, they made their argument, and the former Attorney-General (Mr. Macdonald) instituted an inquiry.
MR. LEVI: Exactly — 300 hours of inquiry and not one shred of evidence, no basis whatsoever. But this is not Can-Cel. This is something entirely different. Yesterday we reported it to the House.
MR. LEVI: Oh, yes, you were so upset about it that you used it in the campaign, didn't you? You started with nothing, and that's what the inquiry produced — nothing. But in this one you get up and tell us that you're prepared to have an inquiry on this one, and that nobody made any money in respect to what is going on here, because the more we talk to that minister, the more we begin to find out.
Yesterday all of his cabinet colleagues deserted him. Why, this afternoon there were only three cabinet ministers in the House. He was kind of like a pariah: he'd made the classical mistake — he'd been found out. Who coached him? Who told him to get up and confess?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, are you going to relate this to the amendment?
MR. LEVI: Oh, I'm relating this to the amendment, Mr. Chairman. We're talking about whether he should get his salary, minus $1.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
MR. LEVI: All of the information that we have in this House and the more that keeps coming out suggests he's entitled to have his salary reduced by $1. There is no question of that.
AN HON. MEMBER: To $1!
MR. LEVI: To $1 or by $1 — the amendment said by $1. It should be to $1. He's not worth it. He sat there all day yesterday. Nobody gave him any advice. Nobody sidled up to him and said to him: "Look, tell them what happened." He probably said: "Well, I don't know what happened." So somebody must have said to him: "Well, ask your deputy." I guess he didn't want us to be embarrassed by the fact that he didn't know. All of the people over there in the cabinet and people over here who have been cabinet ministers know that it's a dangerous thing to walk into this House and not know what the facts are. It's dangerous.
[Mr. Schroeder in the chair.]
We've got the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer) sailing up and down laying down all sorts of smoke. It's got nothing at all to do with what we were talking about.
If we were to stay in here another two days, God knows what we would find out. What else would we find out? What amazes me about this minister, Mr. Chairman, is that he knows about the workings of his department. He used to work for that department. Mind you, he was down the line apiece, but the people who are down the line apiece usually know what is going on.
Why is it that he couldn't turn to his deputy and say: "Hey, what the heck are these people talking about?" I appreciate that the amount of time this minister spends on mining must be very upsetting to the mining industry, because he was quoted as saying when he was on "Capital Comment" that he spent 80 per cent of his time on forests. He admitted he didn't know anything about forestry either, except that he'd lived in the bush. So he spent 20 per cent of his time on the mining industry. No wonder he doesn't know what's going on in the department.
Perhaps this minister will tell us when he gets up to reply. We don't want any more confessionals. He made a mistake; he's been caught out, and he'd better learn from his mistake.
I want to quote what Mr. Lau said today in The Vancouver Sun. He said that he informed the minister that he was involved with Barrier. Maybe the minister will comment about that and about whether he had any concern that this man was involved in a company that was active on the stock exchange.
He also mentioned that one of the other members of the committee was also actively involved. Who is that member? Who was it? Is the minister prepared to tell us?
MR. KING: Ask your deputy!
MR. LEVI: Yes, that's what he should do, Mr. Member for Revelstoke-Slocan. Before he gets up he'd better whisper into the ear of his deputy and say: "Now, who are we talking about? I have a very big portfolio, and I have to cover about six Crown corporations. I've got to worry about the forest industry, I've got to worry about mining, and now
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the members in the House tell me I've got to worry about myself." Well, he's got an awful lot on his plate. Who is the other member of the committee who is involved in the mining industry in an active way? Who else has got shares?
Yesterday we had confessionals from all sorts of people popping up one after the other saying: "Yes, I own a little bit of stock here, and I own a little bit of stock there." The Minister of Consumer Services (Hon. Mr. Mair) was so busy getting up and telling us about his mining stock. Why don't you pay attention to your riding? Mr. Chairman, yesterday there was a hearing by the Land Commission, and the city of Kamloops didn't even know about it. That's the minister sitting there — the one who said he was underemployed. Yes, he is underemployed, and if he is underemployed we must get the Premier to send him to the Minister of Mines and to use the splendid knowledge that this man has and say: "You can use one of my ears. If you need to know anything...." He sits right next to him.
Yesterday, when that fellow was in the glue, it was like he had some kind of contagious disease, because nobody was around him.
MR. LEVI: You were siting down there. You never said a word to him. That poor guy sat there yesterday and took more flack than anybody else in that cabinet. And all afternoon today he sat there completely deserted, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: And now on to the amendment.
MR. LEVI: Well, I'm trying to lay out, Mr. Chairman, the sad picture that that minister really shows us. I mean, after all, he's there; he's deserted; he's in trouble, and then he finally gets up and confesses. He confesses that he made a mistake. You know, if this House had sat right through till 6 o'clock this morning one would have expected that the minister would have been sitting there waiting for somebody to walk through the door and give him the information. He's lucky we adjourned, because if we hadn't adjourned, he wouldn't have found out anything.
AN HON. MEMBER: He wouldn't have read the papers.
MR. LEVI: Well, that's part of it, too.
I ask the minister: who is the other member of the committee who is actively involved in the mining industry? Who is it? Does he recall when Mr. Lau said to him: "I am active; I have interests in Barrier; I have connections with Barrier"? But the minister didn't say anything. Why didn't he say anything? He just kind of shrugged his shoulders. What about the other member? Are you prepared to tell us that? Who is the other member who was involved in the committee? Come clean with us; tell us exactly what went on. That's the important thing. You've got to tell us. Is the minister, Mr. Chairman, prepared to get up? Can you look over there? He's writing an awful lot; it looks like he is writing his memoirs.
MR. KING: He's writing his resignation.
MR. LEVI: Unfortunately we don't have the News of the World over here.
HON. W.R. BENNETT (Premier): The voters wrote your resignation.
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, very good!
HON. MR. BENNETT: That was the best thing that ever happened.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The second member for Vancouver-Burrard, please proceed.
MR. LEVI: One other thing, Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask, through you to the minister, if he doesn't think that because of the atmosphere, an atmosphere of mistrust which is out there.... Some of you may recall that about six weeks ago one of the people at the University of Victoria did some surveys, and one of the survey questions dealt with trust. They asked a number of questions around this province, and the trust related to: do you trust the government? Sixty per cent of the people said: no, we do not trust the government. Why not? Because the implication is, Mr. Minister, that the things they said they would do they have not done. And in this case, because it was there this morning...it was there this morning in the newspapers, and people are asking questions out there. They remember the ads that were in the paper during the election, signed by the friends of the mining companies. They even had an ad, Mr. Chairman, that said: "...from the wives of the members of the mining companies."
MR. LEA: Do you trust your wife?
MR. LEVI: Exactly. Do you trust your wife? Do you trust the mining industry? Do you trust the minister? Well, what we've got to do is get the person who took the poll to take the poll now and find out whether the percentage has gone even higher because of that minister and the way he handled himself yesterday.
He has made all the classical mistakes a minister can make in this House: he comes into his estimates;
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he is not prepared; he has no basic understanding of the fact of his department. He came in the other night and made a prepared speech about forestry which came out of a report. When you are a minister and you come into this House, you have to be well prepared. That minister was not well prepared. But the other thing is, he has to know how to use his staff, and he evidently doesn't know how to do that. That's a great pity. That's a great pity because....
MR. LEVI: That's what he does — he blames his staff. Well, that's a technique they've all got over there. You know, we had the incident of blaming staff with the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy), with her $17,000 programme for breast cancer. "Well, somehow it slipped by me, and I wasn't sure." It slipped by one of her staff.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. LEVI: We're on the amendment, Mr. Chairman. The minister, as the member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) said, is the ultimate responsible person all the time. It's far easier, as he did previously in the so-called Fothergill episode where he finally got trapped into confessing right on television that he made a mistake.... Well, one would have thought that he would have learned something from that episode and realized that it's far easier in the beginning to be very frank and say, "I made a mistake. These are the facts," and that was it. But instead we've been here two days. Why? Because his failure to be frank with the House creates the kind of atmosphere that we've had. The people want to know. We want to know.
I can remember in this House, when we were the government and you people were sitting over here, when there were great debates. I can remember when the former Minister of Education (Mrs. Dailly) was five days on a non-confidence motion, because those were serious issues. If there are serious issues to deal with, then you debate them.
HON. MR. BENNETT: How long was the chicken-and-egg war?
MR. LEVI: Oh, the chicken-and-egg war. Yes. Well, you weren't here for most of it. The important thing is that that minister of the Crown is under attack, and his leader has not once got up to defend him.
MR. KING: He's embarrassed.
MR. LEVI: He's spent the whole afternoon out. He was out most of this afternoon. When is he going to get up, and when is he going to defend his minister?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. LEVI: Mr. Chairman, it's interesting now, if you look — the back rows are very interested now; there's lots of discussion going on with the minister — because, after all, that's what you have to have in a cabinet, the herding instinct. You have to be able to support one another. Well, he's been without support for almost two days.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. LEVI: The important thing is that when the minister gets up to answer the questions....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Members, the noise level in the House is such that we can hardly hear the man who has the floor.
MR. LEVI: Mr. Chairman, that's because of the engines of the sloop. The smoke-layer just walked in and he's chattering up and down the front row. That's him.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! I had hoped that the member who has the floor would assist us in maintaining....
MR. LEVI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I will. The smokescreen has now taken his place. We can get on with the debate.
Will the minister get up and explain to us who this other member is of the committee that has connections with the mining industry? Would he tell us, in his opinion, if he doesn't think that there should be an inquiry, an inquiry that could be instituted by the Attorney-General as to whether there was any conflict of interest in this particular issue?
He looks very tired, Mr. Chairman, so I think what I'd like to do is to move adjournment of this debate until the next sitting. Oh, I'm sorry, we're in committee. I move the committee rise, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
[ Page 2759 ]
The committee, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
HON. P.L. McGEER (Minister of Education): Mr. Speaker, I'm told this afternoon that someone on the opposition side, I'm not sure who, made the allegation that I owned Denison shares. I would like to make the correction for Hansard that that's utterly false. But I would like to say to the member, or anyone else, that if people would like to give me Denison shares, I'd be happy to receive them.
MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): I am the member the minister was referring to, and I did not say that the minister owned Denison shares. I said that he owned Stanrock, which was amalgamated with Denison Mines in 1973, share-for-share basis.
HON. MR. McGEER: I just wish to repeat what I said before. The allegation is there. It's utterly false, and it's more muck-raking on the part of the member for Prince Rupert.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. LEA: On a point of order, I would ask the minister to withdraw that. I explained that I did not make that allegation.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. LEA: I would ask the minister to withdraw that it was muck-raking, when it was, in point of fact, fact.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The hon. minister and the hon. member for Prince Rupert have both made their statements.
MR. L. NICOLSON (Nelson-Creston): An hon. member has been accused of muck-raking as a member of this House. It's an offence to all members of this House, and I ask you to discharge your duties. Ask that member to withdraw, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, if you are offended by the word "muck-raking," I feel that the man who has been offended could ask to have it withdrawn. But if we're to rule out the word "muck-raking" in this House, then I'll suggest that there are many, many other words that are far more serious an offence which have been permitted on the floor of this House.
MR. LEA: Well, could you just tell me whether that's on your list that you passed out?
MR. SPEAKER: To the hon. member for Prince Rupert. Is the hon. member offended by the term "muck-raking"? If so, he can ask the hon. minister to withdraw the term.
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, the manner in which a word is used is what can be offensive. He said that I had muck-raked...because I had spoken the truth.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Was the hon. member offended by the use of that word? If he was, he can ask the minister to withdraw it.
MR. LEA: Well, I've already done that.
MR. SPEAKER: Okay, sorry. Hon. Minister, you've been asked to withdraw the word "muck-raking," as it was offensive to the member for Prince Rupert. Would you do so?
HON. MR. McGEER: I never wished to offend the member, Mr. Speaker. I only wished to tell the truth.
MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. minister withdraw the word, please?
HON. MR. McGEER: Yes, I just did.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.
Hon. Mrs. McCarthy moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 6:01 p.m.