1976 Legislative Session: 1st Session, 31st Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 1976
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Government Reorganization Act (Bill 59) Second reading.
On the amendment to defer second reading of the bill for six months.
Hon. Mr. Mair — 2987
Mr. Gibson — 2987
Mr. Stupich — 2989
Division on the amendment — 2990
Mr. Barnes — 2990
Hon. Mrs. McCarthy — 3002
Points of order.
Mr. Lea — 3007
Hon. Mr. McClelland — 3008
Ms. Brown — 3008
Mr. Lea — 3008
Division on second reading — 3009
-Committee of Supply: Department of Mines and Petroleum Resources estimates
On vote 130.
Mr. Cocke — 3009
Division on a motion to rise and report progress — 3011
Mr. Gibson — 3011
The House met at 10 a.m.
Orders of the day
HON. G.M. McCARTHY (Provincial Secretary): Mr. Speaker, by leave, second reading of Bill 59.
GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION ACT
On the amendment.
HON. K.R. MAIR (Minister of Consumer Services): What an unkind cut to start the day!
Mr. Speaker, when I closed debate last night it occurred to me that the amendment proposed by the Provincial Secretary to the bill itself obviously eliminates the need for the motion which is before the House right now, and it seems equally obvious that, in view of the jovial mood that the House is in today, given the opportunity they will immediately defeat this motion and get on with the people's business. I therefore
AN HON. MEMBER: Now that they're here.
HON. MR. MAIR: Now that they're here, right. It is very nice to see everybody this morning. That being the case, Mr. Speaker, there would seem to be no need to discuss this any further and delay the business of the House. I would therefore suggest that the House get down to the business of defeating this motion and passing the bill and completing the people's business.
AN HON. MEMBER: Do we get copies of that?
MR. SPEAKER: Is the hon. member for North Vancouver-Capilano on a point of order?
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): No, I'm standing up to speak, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, my indication, according to the notes I have, is that you have already spoken to the amendment.
MR. GIBSON: If I may speak on that as a point of order, I will explain. If you recall, I was on my feet
MR. GIBSON: No, I think I have a right to speak
MR. SPEAKER: That is correct, Hon. Member.
MR. GIBSON: But I will be brief, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps at the outset I might express my appreciation to the hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) and the hon. Conservative leader (Mr. Wallace) for rising on points of order last night to help to preserve my right to speak.
HON. MR. MAIR: It wasn't necessary.
MR. GIBSON: No, I appreciate that, Mr. Minister, but I did want to express appreciation in any event. I think the Minister of Consumer Services is perhaps a trifle optimistic as to the way the vote may go when the time comes to vote on this hoist amendment.
The language deleted by the hon. Provincial Secretary in her amendment presented last night was certainly some of the objectionable language in the bill. The suggestion that the Legislature shall have been conclusively deemed to do something that it did not in fact do would have to be objectionable to all of us in this House. I congratulate the government for removing those words.
Nevertheless, there remains under section 1 in this bill, which is mainly the section of contention, the ability of the government to create and to disestablish executive departments within the government. As anyone who studies these things knows, Mr. Speaker, an executive department is of itself a very important thing as to whether it exists or not.
Let me come back again to the example of the Department of Environment. The Minister of Environment, up until March 31 of this year — in other words, the last fiscal year — was administering votes made by this House the previous spring, not made at all in contemplation of the fact that there would be a Department of Environment to spend it. I think it is self-evident that a new department, such as Environment, has a new kind of orientation, I think probably an orientation that most members of this House would agree with. Nevertheless, it is an orientation that was not contemplated at the time that these funds were originally voted.
Therefore given the tremendous discretion of the minister in spending money, even with particular subheads, let alone a general area of expenditure, it's clear that a new department with new orientation might spend those funds in very different ways than parliament had originally suggested. Therefore it seems to me there's still an important measure of
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control lost by this Legislature through the suggestion of this Act that the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council could "establish, vary or disestablish a department or ministry."
Now I just have two other brief topics to cover before I sit down. The first relates to the remarks of the hon. member for Boundary-Similkameen (Mr. Hewitt) on which I had been commenting when debate was adjourned the other night. He had been suggesting that the right to transfer between departments, particularly new departments, was something that was ordinary enough. I was attempting to give him citations from May which indicated that in the Mother of Parliaments and, indeed, in most of the parliaments in this country, the right to make transfers of this kind is very heavily circumscribed — much more so than this bill would do.
I'm quoting again from May, 18th edition, page 702, where the other night we described the fact there was a part I and part II to the estimate headings in Great Britain. I read the first part of the citation — now the second part:
"Part I is the operative part of the estimate. It shows the sum which is voted separately by the House and afterwards appropriated by the Appropriation Act and states the services for which the sum is granted in general terms which define the 'ambit' within which the details set out in the subheads and items of Part II must fall. From the point of view of parliamentary control" — which is what we're talking about — "the purpose of Part II is explanatory and has no statutory significance (except the receipts, if any, set out in it are afterwards appropriated in aid by the vote of the Appropriation Act), through the subheads of Part II indicate a further measure of Treasury control over the departments which cannot independently vary the allocation of sums between different subheads."
In other words, Mr. Speaker, the control of parliament is much closer in the situation in Great Britain, and they go even further requiring Treasury Board control over votes between subheads, but that need not concern us in this debate.
The practice in Great Britain, with respect to expenditures which might be anticipated but are not known with any clarity, is to insert minor votes — token votes — and subheads to retain parliamentary control over things which might be foreseen but the magnitude of which cannot be predicted.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, there seems to be such a high volume of chatter going on, other than by the hon. member for North Vancouver-Capilano who has possession of the floor, that I would appreciate it if you would keep the volume down so we can hear the hon. member who has possession of the floor.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker is attacking the speaker. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, that particular question of token votes is covered at page 703, for any members who want to look it up.
Finally, and as a further illustrative citation, May has something to say about revised estimates, where again a different practice is followed than this bill would suggest.
This bill would suggest that you can make material changes in who is spending the money, or the direction in which it might be spent by order-in-council. Let me quote the practice in the British House: "If it proves to be necessary to vary the terms of a vote so as to alter the ambit of the vote, or even to alter materially the description of a subhead, or to reduce the amount demanded, the original estimate is withdrawn and a revised estimate presented."
So, Mr. Speaker, they go a great deal further than us: they require that any material change shall be approved by parliament, and that's titled in our existing law. This new law, this Bill 59, would loosen the reins of parliamentary control one step further; therefore I think it must still be opposed.
One final item I would deal with before sitting down. The Minister of Transport and Communications gave as a reason for not supporting this particular motion, which is a motion to hoist the bill for six months, the argument that the British Columbia ferry system needed the authority conferred under this bill in section 6, I think it was, to obtain a financing within the next week, and that therefore it would be irresponsible of this House to move to hoist this bill for six months.
I asked the Minister of Transport and Communications if he would be kind enough to table the documents, which he kindly did. Having examined them, I would suggest to him that there are, indeed, alternate ways of going ahead. For example, we have on the order paper and having passed second reading Bill 24, the British Columbia Ferry Corporation Act. If the government were to proceed with that bill in short order I think the minister would find that the necessary powers are available thereunder.
Alternately, he might bring in a separate bill which could certainly solve the question, I would say, by leave in 10 minutes.
Alternately, if he proposed not to proceed by legislation in any way, it might well be possible, subject to legal advice, to cancel the existing contract with the shipbuilders, to obtain a refund of the money and have the contract with the shipbuilders transferred to the financing company, in which case
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there would never have been a change in ownership from the original usage of the vessel, which is the requirement under the accelerated 33 per cent depreciation clause that the province hopes to obtain — and which is a good thing to do, incidentally.
I think there are other ways around that problem. The Minister of Transport and Communications brought it up; it's a good point. But I think there are ways around it, and I think this House need not be persuaded by that argument to vote against this particular motion.
All of those things said, Mr. Speaker, and with the dangers that I see for the powers of this Legislature, vis-a-vis the executive branch and the need for further public examination of this bill — which interestingly is just starting to surface in a consequential manner now in the press and on the talk shows and so on — I think time is needed for this further examination, and therefore certainly I propose to vote for the six-month motion to hoist.
MR. D.D. STUPICH (Nanaimo): Mr. Speaker, for some time now the House has been debating the advisability of hoisting this bill for six months. I think one of the arguments in favour of that would be the response from the Provincial Secretary yesterday evening when she indicated an amendment that may be on the order paper by now, which is some indication that the government itself realizes that it made a mistake in drafting this bill in the form in which it is before us — some recognition of that — but I think further recognition is needed.
We are concerned about this authority that it does give the government, and that point has been made over and over. We are concerned that the bill is not presented to us in a form the government itself feels comfortable with, and for that reason we think it should take the opportunity of leaving this bill for six months, during which time it might get a better reaction from the community as to how the community itself feels about this, and have an opportunity to change the bill so it reads in the way the government intends to use it.
The Premier himself, interviewed on this, said that we didn't intend to do that, Although the legislation does give the government wide authority, the Premier indicated he has no intention of using the authority that is present in the legislation. Surely, Mr. Speaker, if the government has no need for this power, no intention of using it, then it's not wise to put that kind of legislation into the law books of the province.
The first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Macdonald), speaking yesterday evening, presented a point that was not covered in the amendment introduced by the hon. Provincial Secretary. Even the amendment from the Provincial Secretary, the one proposed, does leave something wanting. While it does remove the words, some of the most offensive words, where the legislation suggests that anything done by the cabinet in line with this legislation would be conclusively deemed to have been authorized by the Legislature, while it takes that out, nevertheless it still gives the government the same authority to create new departments, to wipe out departments or to change departments. The Provincial Secretary in speaking on this — and I may not have taken her words down accurately, and I haven't had an opportunity to check the Blues — did say that it's not unusual or, as I have it: "Moneys have always been transferred from one vote to another."
MR. STUPICH: That wasn't....
MR. STUPICH: Votes have been transferred — that's different; I took it as moneys transferred from one vote to another. Votes can be moved.
Mr. Speaker, another amendment is coming in and has been offered to the Clerks by the first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Macdonald), an amendment that would not stop the government from wanting to do the business — that is, to the extent of doing the kind of reorganization that they have been talking about, not the reorganization in the bill — of reorganization that the government says it wants to be able to do without waiting for an opportunity to present these proposals in the Legislature. We had the same problems, Mr. Speaker, when we were in government. We had a different way of dealing with them; we set up ministers without portfolio until there was opportunity for the Legislature itself to discuss the advisability of setting up new departments. Only after the Legislature had made its decision was the new department established. That's one way of dealing with it; however, the government feels that's inefficient and it wants to be efficient.
There is another way of dealing with this, Mr. Speaker, and that is to give the Legislature an opportunity to debate these actions after the cabinet has done them. At least then it is not taking out of the hands of the members of the House the opportunity to debate the establishment of new departments or the changing of departments. That kind of amendment is going in and we hope that the government will accept that amendment. It's still not what we would want, but at least it would seem to meet the objectives of the government in being able to manage affairs efficiently, as they say, and yet would still give the members of the Legislature the opportunity to deal with these matters after they have done them. It would provide for any actions such as these to be ratified by motion at the next session of the Legislative Assembly. That would seem
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to give some satisfaction to both points of view in discussing this legislation.
The hon. Provincial Secretary yesterday evening recognized one of the problems with this bill; I've touched on it already. The hon. first member for Vancouver East touched on another one, which is not covered in the amendment offered by the Provincial Secretary. That is the one that would insert a new section 12A into the Constitution Act which reads "... notwithstanding any Act." Regardless of what legislation is already on the books, regardless of what legislation may be put on the books, if this section goes into the Constitution Act in that form, the cabinet can do anything alone the lines of this legislation and never have to be answerable to the Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, there can be only one reason for putting those kinds of words, for putting that kind of instruction into the Constitution Act, and that is that the government is afraid to bring these Acts before the Legislature. In bringing these things before the Legislature what they are doing is offering them up to public scrutiny — much more so than is done by simply passing an order-in-council.
Certainly orders-in-council can be made public, but people have to look for them; the press has to look for them; they have to find something in them that they feel is newsworthy before they will be reported. So many things could be done; so many things might be done that would never reach the light of day and could not be debated in this Legislature, because this legislation gives the government the authority to do them without referring the matter to the Legislature in any way at all.
The amendment proposed by the opposition would protect the members of the House, would protect the public generally, from that kind of thing happening. It would provide that any orders-in-council passed in line with this Government Reorganization Act would have to come back into this House, would have to be debated, would have to be approved by the House, before they would become ratified. That, Mr. Speaker, would give us the opportunity to hold them up to public scrutiny, would give us the opportunity to discuss them — the whys, the wherefores, the reasons for doing them, the reasons for not doing them — to discuss them fully in the House, and would give us an opportunity to inform the public generally and fully as to exactly what the government had done in the case of the reorganization and why it wanted to go the route that it was going.
Mr. Speaker, I don't think the government would really want to accept the amendment in the form that it is before us right now with the notice that has been given and with the time that we've spent in debating this bill already. I would urge, Mr. Speaker...I can't think of anything that is so important that it can only be handled by this bill. I think the government should be concerned with the reaction from the opposition — all of the opposition — from the public generally, as is being reported in the papers, radio and television, and from the editorial writers.
I think the government should be concerned about the reaction to this legislation; it should take the opportunity of this amendment that is before us right now and accept this motion to leave the bill for six months so that it will have an opportunity to correct the drafting of this legislation. In that way, they will put a bill property before us that will improve the efficiency of government without destroying the authority of the Legislature to protect the interests of the minority in this House and the minority in the province. Mr. Speaker, I urge the government to accept this amendment.
MR. D.G. COCKE (New Westminster): Hear, hear!
Amendment negatived on the following division:
YEAS — 14
NAYS — 30
Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
MR. E.O. BARNES (Vancouver Centre): Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to be on my feet again after having unsuccessfully attempted to have the bill hoisted in order to have sufficient time to peruse very carefully some of the serious implications that are being suggested that the Legislature pass. I would like to request that you....
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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. second member for Vancouver Centre has the floor.
MR. BARNES: You know, Mr. Speaker, it's really too bad that certain members of the House don't see the wisdom of listening to the hon. second member for Vancouver Centre at this time. They seem to have preoccupations in other spheres. But they should be reminded that when the hon. second member for Victoria (Mr. Barber) stood in the House making his initial address, he tried to indicate the need for proper decorum in the House, respect for the Chair and so forth — cooperation and attention — as the various members would stand on their feet from time to time and try and represent the constituents to whom they are forever indebted for the opportunity to come forward and bring the various messages they have been requested to bring. So I am hoping that today will be an awakening for everyone.
MR. SPEAKER: Have no fear, Hon. Member. I will protect you from other members.
MR. BARNES: Thank you. I promise you that I shall do my best to assist you at any time to maintain your seat in the chair.
AN HON. MEMBER: Order! Order!
MR. BARNES: Because you have proven over the months to be a friend of every member in this House. I am sure that you will continue to do so. You can count on my vote. Although I didn't see the light initially when you were nominated by the Premier, I have come to appreciate that his intentions were well founded and that you very diligently stayed with it under some very arduous times lately.
Bill 59 is really a request on behalf of the Provincial Secretary, through you, Mr. Speaker, for this Legislature to provide carte blanche the right and authority to carry on the people's very important business related to fiscal matters behind the closed doors of the cabinet and immediately associated officials. I suppose that from one perspective that would be a most understandable approach to carrying on the activities of such a large organization as the provincial government except for one little factor. The government is here on behalf of the people of the province and not vice versa. Therefore we must not alienate the main source from which we receive direction — the people. Simple as it may sound, Mr. Speaker, from time to time many of us in our exuberance and desire to get on with what we consider to be the most important objectives of our mandate forget what the most important things really are.
I am deeply concerned about the ease with which certain programmes have been presented to the Legislature by the government in its zeal, perhaps, to deal efficiently and in a businesslike way and with managerial responsibility and so forth that it has professed to be quite competent at, because in so doing it has been hasty with some of our most treasured values, certain freedoms that we have all enjoyed and have felt to be essential to the security and future of a democratic society. I think we, at all costs, should be concerned at any indication that certain of these democratic tenets, that we all know very well, are abrogated in any way by expedient measures such as have been proposed in this new government reorganization bill. I must say to you that I am not in any way attempting to be facetious when I say that what has happened in this.... What we see when we read this bill very carefully is an indication of an attitude that I feel pervades almost without exception all of the departments of this present coalition administration in its handling of the people's affairs.
I think that when you look carefully at the suggestions that are being made in the Legislature, you get the feeling that the ministers would like very much to simply eliminate the arduous process of having to come to the Legislature and debate every single step of the way the activities that will have long-lasting effect upon the activities of this province. What they would really like to do is literally turn the debating activities into a charade of no consequence and to have executive power of such dimensions that, regardless of what happened in the Legislature, they will in no way be impaired or scrutinized as far as the programmes they feel must be carried on.
But thankfully we haven't reached that stage yet and the bill that is before us, to use one of the phrases of a former President of the United States.... I think it was Harry Truman who said: "The buck stops here." Well, the bill stops here, and I certainly have no intention of voting for a bill that would provide the authority whereby there would be no future need for the government to have to come to this Legislature for authorization or ratification of its acts of the most consequential and important nature. That is the handling of the fiscal and the financial matters of the province, the spending of funds through the various departments and the changing of direction in terms of priorities and generally being able to, in fact, remove some of the responsibility that perhaps the minister himself, or herself, may have been charged with.
In the bill, not only are they asking for the right to change at will one department to another, transfer funds from one department to another, back and forth wherever, earmark a department's spending estimates that was voted for one purpose to another, but they're also asking for the right to delegate certain responsibilities to officials within those departments which, in my view, could become pretty
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complicated depending on the politics from time to time and who's going to be answerable to what.
When you consider the kinds of protection the members have within the Legislature and the kind of games that could be played, I'd like to have it quite clearly defined to me just what kind of situations would be necessary for the minister to put in writing that he is now delegating certain responsibilities to another official that he as an elected member should be assuming responsibility for himself. Because we all know that as elected officials we have political considerations and most of the people who perhaps are working in the various departments are public servants, and if they are not they are appointed and they also have political considerations to keep in mind.
When we talk about delegating responsibility in writing, I wonder just what the government has in mind. But the bill, Mr. Speaker, is fraught with similar kinds of implications, and one wonders why the need to bring in such a massive change to the constitution of British Columbia.
Over the years one had to be tested on their ability — their political mastery — and that meant that you respected the British parliamentary system as being an instrument by which you could manage the people's affairs within certain guidelines and certain limits. Over the years after they have been tested we know that they are substantially beneficial to all parties and all people from time to time. Once you start to use it you realize that it isn't something you want to destroy, not willy-nilly, not without serious consideration as to the complications that you may create, and certainly you wouldn't want to change the constitution without going back to the people, and perhaps a major change to the constitution should require a new mandate. To change the constitution in the way this government wishes to change it should be an election issue.
It should not be something that they expect to be able to change as just housekeeping legislation which they will bring to the Legislature and say: "This is really only for administrative purposes; would you please give us the authority to make these minor changes so that we can get on with the efficient operation of the people's business?" But this is...
MR. J.J. KEMPF (Omineca): Is that what you did yesterday morning?
MR. BARNES: ...a major change in the constitution, Mr. Member for Omineca, through you, Mr. Speaker.
I am surprised that this government that spoke from one end of the province to the next about the socialist hordes and the pinkos and so forth were coming to take over and the secret police and all the things that they claim that we were going to do to the people of British Columbia — taking away their rights, going to take away your homes.... Bill 42 meant that you would no longer be able to own any land. We were going to clean up, wipe the people out — totalitarian state and so forth, all those things that this now government said when it was in the opposition. Now all of a sudden they see the light and they think, well, it's not such a bad idea to have a totalitarian state. It's not such a bad idea to take control, to put all the power in the hands of the executive...
MR. BARNES: ...put all the power in the hands of the executive council, Mr. Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) .
MR. BARNES: All my people are diligently studying so they can come back and give you their point of view. They are consulting with their constituents.
But as I said earlier, the frightening part is that the government would have introduced this piece of legislation. The good news, although frightening, is that the buck stops here. Fortunately we still have a Legislature and we still have Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, of which I am pleased to be a member. Here we have Bill 59 being presented to us for debate. I hope that it will continue to be this way for a long time to come. If the time ever comes when there is no longer a need for us to debate major changes to the constitution such as this bill suggests, then I hope that it will be an election issue.
If we're going to have a revolution, it won't just be in the House behind closed doors. It will be out there where the people are. We will take it to the people. We will tell them: do you want to make these changes? Do you really feel that things would be more efficiently operated if we took away your right to give your elected member certain information and positions that you would like taken through the Legislature and debated?
Get rid of that. Elect a government. Allow them to pick their leader and their cabinet and to go behind closed doors and carry on the people's business without any further reference to anyone except the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council and themselves and perhaps their friends, to whom I am sure they will be very, very careful to keep under close wraps in the future after the bungling they have had in the past in having them read over their legislation before it comes through as a message from the Lieutenant-Governor. I am sure that will become more and more difficult as time goes on.
But in any event, these consultations will
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continue, but they will continue outside of the Legislature, not inside the Legislature. This just isn't good enough. This is why the hon. first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Macdonald) has made an additional proposed amendment, not a counter-amendment, to the one that was presented by the hon. Provincial Secretary, who, in suggesting that we can delete a section from the bill that she felt was contentious.... She was suggesting that under section 1, the 18th line, we simply delete"... and shall be conclusively deemed to have been authorized by the Legislature to be so paid and applied." Just delete that. She says that is contentious; I agree.
When someone talks about "shall be conclusively deemed," that's asking for a lot of power. It means that there will be no need to come back here, because we will make the action and it shall be as though you had made it, as though you had participated. Now can you imagine signing a contract on that basis where you are supposed to participate? Someone is going to tell you: "We will make all the decisions but we will have it so we have got your signature on a blank cheque. We've got your signature on a piece of paper. We can write in whatever we want to write in and you will agree with it." I am sure some of you business people do understand that. That's one of the things about business. You have to learn fast or you don't survive.
But I am telling you, my friends, let's not run the government entirely as a business, although we must use some of our expertise that our learned friends who have fought in the business wars over the years bring to this Legislature. But they only bring part of the story. They know well human nature too, because that's how they survive. They know the weakness; they know the Achilles heel of every segment of the population — the 25-and-unders particularly when it comes to ICBC and automobile insurance. They know the difference between marrieds and singles when it comes to telling them how to survive within the benefits of the new ICBC rates.
All of this is necessary to be a politician. You've got to understand how to appreciate how people think and what they do. But do you see why, at the same time, you can manipulate the masses? There are certain doctrines which we have all been endowed with, certain things we've inherited over the years.
The hon. second member for Vancouver East (Mr. Barrett) was speaking the other night about the Magna Carta. He went back to 1215, King John. You know, we still have it some 761 years later; we still have it. We still have the concept. We're still talking about the law for the people — not the people being available to a government for the sake of the government, but the other way around. There are certain things that we have by right, and we have come to respect and appreciate the British parliamentary system within our society, our free society, as being our right. We don't want it abrogated by someone who wants to bring in a measure like Bill 59 as an expedient means of carrying on the people's business for the short term that they will have of some three or four years. They are going to destroy the system.
Oh, let's say that they have no intention personally of misusing the system, but what guarantees do they have that someone, some group in the future, will not misuse the system? That's the danger. Everybody, let's say, means well, but we have a duty to guard against the odd person who may not mean well.
Can you imagine what would happen if this legislation went through without any future reference to the Legislature, as has been suggested by the government side who say that it doesn't have all these powers that we are afraid of — that the Lieutenant-Governor is able to restructure the executive government, is able to establish new portfolios, establish, merge or separate government departments, transfer powers, and do this under any circumstances, as he sees fit, from one member of the executive to the other? He can authorize an executive member of council to delegate certain functions to a member of his own department and riding — and that "riding" part, I would like to know why — and empower the executive member to make agreements with other governments and other bodies, and on and on and on. None of this comes back to the Legislature. None of it!
Why do they want that power? When you read the bill a little closer, you see where they want to merge the Department of Highways with the Department of Public Works; they want to merge the Department of Recreation and Conservation with Travel Industry; and they want to create the new Department of Environment, and so forth. But why didn't you in the first place come to the Legislature and ask for interim approval to do what you have done? You've already done it now, and you want to come in and make it legal with Bill 59.
Everything you've already done since you took office last December 11 you are now asking, in Bill 59, to make legal, but you've already done it. You already have a Department of Environment, but there's nothing in any legislation that I can see where there is such a department. You've shown your ability to go ahead and do this. Now why do you want to have it in this? If you do it in this, why can't it just be on the basis that if there are going to be any future changes we'll be back again? Why do you want it to be etched in stone that the executive council will be free and clear once and forever from the Legislative Assembly. You want to be free and clear forever.
You say: "We are coming to you this one last time and we promise not to bother you again. Just let us
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handle it this one time, and that's the last you're going to see of us. We'll come in and visit with you from time to time and discuss a few things, but as far as you having any real clout, that'll be over. We will have fixed you really good."
Now you realize, of course, that that may be okay for you for three years, but what are you going to do when you are over here in the opposition the next time? What are you going to do when you are over here in the opposition? Are you then going to say, "well, maybe we made a mistake; we think you were right and we would now like to change it back to a good old democratic society."? You see, this is the risk that they are running, Mr. Speaker. This is the risk that we face when people try and expedite democracy.
Democracy is not meant to be forced and pushed. It is a process that involves participation, that involves education, that involves people having an opportunity to be informed. In fact, a good executive would insist that people have the necessary information and all of the facts before any action was taken. You would feel that it was your duty to go to the people, not to assume that the people are disinterested. People are creatures of habit. People can be conditioned, and they have been conditioned not to participate. They've been conditioned to be used to politicians playing games and therefore it is hopeless and therefore why bother to try and find out because they aren't going to tell you anyway because they don't have any faith in us and it is just a waste of time.
Now I would like to feel that this government would be interested in reversing that, Mr. Speaker, and indicating its sincerity and its understanding of the democratic process and how it functions and the importance of making it possible for people to participate. If it is not proper for them to participate, then they'll do what comes next. They'll condition themselves just as the Premier said he was going to condition the opposition. And he had hoped to do it as fast as he trained his dogs, Mr. Member for Omineca. You recall the Premier saying that he was going to train the opposition.
AN HON. MEMBER: No, no, he trained them.
MR. BARNES: Oh, he trained the back bench. Well, perhaps he had something going for him there because the system as it's presently constituted doesn't allow the back bench into the cabinet to find out what's going on. Is that not right? So you're in trouble from the start.
Now if you have a government that's not interested in democracy, it won't even inform you. I'm sure that many of you have never read this bill, have no idea what is going on — and there you all are, like seals flapping your tails and saying: "Fine, we're in favour of it."
MR. BARNES: I know the problem. I'm trying to protect you, and you should be glad that I'm standing up here, Mr. Member in the government back bench, speaking on behalf of the people of the province of British Columbia and including you, because you, too, need defending against that executive. Next thing you know they'll be eliminating the back bench.
MR. BARNES: Don't laugh; it'll happen. Those guys get pretty ambitious when they get power, you know. They get all that power and start going around saying: "Well, we'll just eliminate everybody." Isn't that right, Madam Member, the Provincial Secretary? That's true, isn't it? You know that's true, that's right.
You see, the thing is that from time to time we all slip; we're only human. This is why I'm trying to be fair and reasonably understanding to the government. I don't want to give the impression that I'm insensitive and cannot appreciate the difficulties the government faces in trying to carry on the massive task it has before it in carrying on under the face of difficult times and the international problems we are having.
The whole world today is faced with the need for strong leadership, for responsible leadership, for knowledgeable and informed leadership, and committed leadership. It's in need of the right kind of people who can look beyond themselves, look into tomorrow and be prepared to pay some prices, and not make sacrifices that cannot be reversed, like giving up the democratic process. Because once you give it up, you're going to have a hard time getting it back — we all know that. We- know how it is with power; once you open a little crack it just widens and widens and widens. Let's not start opening up any cracks in this system.
MR. BARNES: Go back to the people and ask permission? Do you want to have a general election on it? Fine. We'll go back to the people and see if they're prepared to amend the constitution to eliminate the executive and eliminate the Legislative Assembly having any real role in the changes that take place within the executive council. That's what you're saying.
AN HON. MEMBER: Don't get carried away.
[ Page 2995 ]
MR. BARNES: You should be carried away. Remember, when you are defeated in three or four years you may be over here and you'll want to have some protection, you will want some for yourself and for your children and for generations from now. You have a duty to protect them, not to make it easy for yourselves today.
Sure, it will be easy for you today to make all your regulations and carry on your business, but then you've weakened your base, and we don't want that to happen. That's why I'm quite prepared to support the amendment that will be coming in when we are in committee stage on this bill that the hon. Provincial Secretary suggested by asking that we delete lines 18 and 19 under the first section of the bill which deals with the powers that you require being approved, but that they not be deemed to be conclusive regardless of any other thinking of the members of this Legislative Assembly — and that that would be going one step too far.
MR. BARNES: They're listening. The spirit is there; it reaches far and wide, my friend. I'm sure we'll communicate — just as you fellows are. You see, we're all together and I know you are going to stand with me and support these amendments that the hon. first member for Vancouver East has suggested, and the one that the Provincial Secretary has suggested. Ours is in two parts, which is one, and then she has one, so there are two amendments, and when these amendments are passed, then we will have restored our faith and our ability to move from a previous position to another position. This is the kind of encouragement we need — to know that there is hope for change, and that we can become enlightened.
Although we may have come in with a very stiff position, when we hear the light, when information is put before us, then we're quite prepared to recognize it. I must say, despite some of you members of the back bench who have argued in support of this bill without amendment, that I must give respect where it is due: the hon. Provincial Secretary did come forward with an amendment indicating that she has been listening, that she has not turned a deaf ear to the opposition, and she has shown her willingness to try and resolve any difficulties or conflicts we may have on the acceptability of the proposal that is presented in Bill 59.
She should go a little step further, perhaps, and deal with the amendment that will be put forward as well by the first member for Vancouver East, which is asking that there be no provisos whatsoever respecting the right of the executive council to operate without referring back to the Legislative Assembly, that there be guarantees that the executive council will not be able to carry on any activities of major change other than the ordinary administrative ones that have been practised traditionally in the government and that if there are going to be changes that will diminish the opportunity for us, as representatives of constituents throughout this province, to participate and to have absolute ability to scrutinize all of the activities as they occur, then this would not be satisfactory and we would have to oppose it.
So I'm asking, Mr. Speaker — myself being, I believe, the last speaker to make some remarks respecting the main motion before second reading is completed — that when we go into committee stage, I'm quite prepared to support the Provincial Secretary's motion. But there will be an addendum to her part in adding some extra words assuring that there is no confusion as to what we expect in the way of the safeguards against the executive getting out of hand. If she is prepared to support those amendments then there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to get unanimous approval of this bill which would indicate, I would hope, the kind of confidence that the government wants to achieve on all of its legislation. It takes a little more time. The process is not always simplistic. It can be very complicated. It takes more time.
There are some advantages to moving fast. We appreciate that. When the time comes if you come and present a good case to us and say, "well, this is critical, this is urgent, don't play politics, don't drag your feet, don't be obstructionists, allow us to move on," and you've got a good case, bring it to the Legislature, and I'm sure that in the interest of democracy and good government you'll get full support from the opposition. But if you attempt to come in with some kind of disguised programme calling the bill a housekeeping bill of no real significance, just an administrative bill, and we find that the thing is covering up some of the major cornerstones of this free democratic society, then we're going to be worried, and this is a dangerous thing.
I would just like to say, though, before taking my seat that we may as well understand one thing. I realize it's going to be a long hard job convincing the government that people really matter and it's also going to be a long hard job for the opposition to educate the government. Because I sincerely believe, although there are many members on the government side who have succeeded in their chosen professions and various interests and careers, that there is a certain lack of respect and integrity for human beings. There's a certain lack of confidence, Mr. Member for Coquitlam (Mr. Kerster) . There's a certain lack of confidence, and it's manifest in your legislation.
[ Page 2996 ]
MR. BARNES: Don't say that I know better. I don't know better. All I know is what I read and what I see and how you behave. Now do you want to challenge me?
MR. BARNES: You want to challenge it. I'll tell you what we'll do. Let's take a look at your legislation. Let me ask you one simple question. If you really are that concerned about democracy and about participation on the local level and are concerned about involving people so they can have some understanding about the workings of government and some confidence in the credibility of government, why did you close down the community resource boards when you had people out there working as volunteers giving up all kinds of time managing their local activities, making recommendations to the minister, feeling some sense of importance...
AN HON. MEMBER: Order.
MR. BARNES: ...at no cost, at virtually no cost? You're saying that you closed those down, Mr. Speaker, and they're going to tell me that I'm being oversensitive. Come on!
What about the community information centres, one of the most vital things that we need in a democracy where people can find out what's going on? You closed them down. You say, "Well, we're only going to permit a couple of major centres," when these things are vital in a democracy. They're a vital means of communication to avoid people becoming alienated and apathetic and disinterested.
Don't tell me that I'm being oversensitive when I say that I don't trust you and I don't believe when you say that you care about people, that you don't mean it. Because I'm telling you that the way you behave you're totally insensitive and irresponsible. Do you want to go a step further?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the hon. member please address the Chair?
MR. BARNES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. But, you know, I was going fine until that Member for Coquitlam (Mr. Kerster).... I was trying to be kind to the government.
But, you know, invariably I get upset when I think about the things that have happened in the last six months. I was just about to sit down. Now you've upset me.
Now I'm worried about the social service tax.
MR. BARNES: You've got me worried about the 40 per cent increase you did to those people from 5 to 7 per cent. You say: "Okay, we love people; so we're going to get everything we can from them. We're going to treat them like beasts of burden. We're going to ride them all over the place." Grind them down to the ground, that's what you're going to do.
MR. BARNES: "Double up, double up! Triple up! Quadruple up! Take them for a ride because we are here to govern and they are here to see that we stay here." It was supposed to be the other way around. I didn't want to get into a caustic kind of casting aspersions on the government, because I know they mean well and they're only trying to carry on the people's business. But all I said in the first place is that I don't think they really understand human nature or care that much. Furthermore, they don't have a whole lot of confidence in people. People are willing to pay their own share, are willing to participate, but those people would like to feel some sense of belonging and some sense of interest in what's going on.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, may I draw your attention to the fact that you're on your final two minutes?
MR. BARNES: Yes, thank you. No, I'm a designated speaker, Mr. Speaker, and I can stay here forever. (Laughter.) You didn't know that. I'm sorry. I just bring that to your attention. I'm sorry I didn't inform you of that, but I could stay here on this stand as long as the hon. member for South Peace River (Hon. Mr. Phillips) did. He stayed here for 14 hours one time. Remember that? It was on Bill 42. We were trying to bring out some legislation that we felt would assist the people, Mr. Speaker, and he stood up here....
MR. BARNES: Oh, well, you see, but I got the word. I got the word. (Laughter.) His voice went far and wide — almost as far as the Provincial Secretary's (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy's) voice.
MR. BARNES: I was here. You bet I was here.
MR. BARNES: I suffered like you did over here as a Liberal. You were a Liberal over here. You sat here as a Liberal and you were just as mad as I was,
[ Page 2997 ]
standing up there fighting and waving at the gallery, saying: "What do you mean?" And now look at you! You're defending the position of that member who was at one time trying to tear us to pieces.
Which side are you on, Mr. Attorney-General? (Laughter.) Oh, Mr. Attorney-General, I'm telling you, you confuse me. You know, you've caused a lot of trouble for the member for North Vancouver-Capilano (Mr. Gibson) too. He's upset. And that Minister of Housing (Hon. Mr. Curtis) hasn't done any good for our friend, the member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) . Look what you've done to him — he's all alone. You deserted him. Where's your sensitivity? Where's your concern for humanity? This man is left alone. I wouldn't be surprised if he quit!
AN HON. MEMBER: Speak up, Emery! (Laughter.)
MR. BARNES: I'll tell you, he wouldn't know where to go, because he doesn't like anybody for now. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. member please return to the principle of the bill?
MR. BARNES: I withdraw those remarks if there's been any indication that I am trying to demean the integrity of anyone in the House, because I'm sure everyone is concerned. Everyone has their own orientation, but the problem is that they're all different. We're trying to pull ourselves together, Mr. Speaker. I'm trying to suggest that the ultimate goal and the virtue of the members of this House should be to have a House completely together and undivided — undivided. That's what we should be trying to pursue.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. BARNES: Now I think you guys are playing politics, quite frankly, and I don't trust them for a minute. (Laughter.)
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. BARNES: Not for a minute. I'll tell you why....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the hon. member for Burnaby-Edmonds (Mr. Loewen) return to his own seat if he insists on interjecting.
MR. BARNES: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you right now that the thing that bothers me the most about those members on the other side is the way they play with the political opportunities that are open to them. Now they have said on a number of occasions that they would like to assure everyone that they want complete unanimity in certain things, like the ombudsman and the auditor-general, but when it comes to other things, they say: "Well, we'll deal with that ourselves." Why don't they be consistent? I'm suggesting that we have the House undivided and that we get consensus — 100 per cent — on things that are important. They should want that; there should be no question.
They just finished defeating an amendment to a bill that has caused as much debate as any bill in this House, an amendment to hoist the bill for six months — they defeated it. Now we gave all the reasons and excuses that they needed, but they've shown no sensitivity whatsoever. This is what I mean. I don't think they really care. If you cared, then why don't you demonstrate your willingness to cooperate with us? Give us some encouragement and then maybe you would find that we would reciprocate.
MR. LEA: Everybody likes a pat on the back once in a while.
MR. BARNES: We would reciprocate. But what do we get? We get all this tugging and tossing and everybody playing their own games, and absolutely no indication that we are prepared to work collectively and set the kind of example that the people in the community have been looking for and would like to see demonstrated by those of us who are elected to carry on their activities.
As I was saying, just before getting ready to take my place, I have no intention, Mr. Speaker, of delaying the passage of second reading of this bill, because I think that the hon. Provincial Secretary is very anxious to get this to committee stage, whenever that happens. I'm sure she will also be very anxious to accept the amendment of the hon. first member for Vancouver East along with the amendments that she's put forward, and that we are going to have unanimous support and this bill will go through without any fears. Although it will be amending the constitution, in effect it will be as though it had not been presented in the first place.
All we want to do is assure that the House does not lose its position in terms of carrying on the people's business. What will happen, in effect, if we succeed in carrying these amendments, is that we will have mechanically done in reverse what could have been done the other way. In other words, you could have gone for an interim approval to set up the departments that you want, we would have debated them, they would have carried on, and you wouldn't have had any need to bring in this smokescreen
[ Page 2998 ]
talking about administration.
What you're doing in fact is trying to make a major change in the constitution and take a step backwards for democracy. It's a very serious thing you are doing, and we won't accept it.
So before I sit down, I want to say to you, and I think you should listen, earlier I charged the government with perhaps lack of understanding as opposed to malicious, because I don't believe that you sincerely are malicious or that you could have been elected had you not attempted to indicate to the people out there that you cared. I believe the people believed you, as they should, because they are desperately looking for leadership, for compassion and sensitivity in the political arena. They are looking. And you people obviously are masters at at least displaying your abilities politically. Now what we want you to do is deliver in fact, to carry out what you have been showing.
If you do that, then I'll be the first one to sit down and admit that I have perhaps overreacted to how you appear to be, because in fact your actions will be different to what I have seen. But that has to be seen. I'm not convinced yet.
Remember when I was going down the list of activities you introduced, particularly the GAIN legislation — and not only the GAIN bill which wiped out everything we had given the people as a right, and now you're saying they've got to qualify to get it.... But okay — that's one of your games.
But the other main thing is the attitude, the attitude of that Minister of Human Resources who is restricting people's movement, restricting people's ability to move in their society — telling people that if they live here they can't be on welfare, or if they are over there, they qualify for this, or we're going to say that you've got.... There are 175 different areas where they claim people cannot stay in and live in. Now where have you heard of that in a democracy when you tell people... ? That's a contravention of the Bill of Rights. And if it is not, it should be!
MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. member please get back to the principle of this bill?
MR. LEA: That's the man who calls a spade a shovel.
MR. BARNES: I'll tell you, when it comes to that, Mr. Speaker, what about the quality of life, what about the feeling of... ? What's so great about living in a democracy where you've got to have everything so tight that no one can feel free? We should be encouraging people to enjoy the quality of life. The opportunity to be alive is a wonderful thing, but let's let them enjoy it; let's make them feel that we want to see them happy in their lifetime, not in some existentialist kind of situation where it's in the abstract, under the ground or next year or some other time of the second coming or something. Right now! Right now is what people want.
I want to see the senior citizens, the young people and all of them encouraged to live and to feel good. We should be saying: "Live wherever you want to live. We will find a way to accommodate you. We will encourage you to live in this beautiful province of ours — all over."
AN HON. MEMBER: It's called the money tree!
MR. BARNES: It's not always money, man! It's not always money! That's your trouble — you are locked into money! Haven't you ever heard of cooperation? Haven't you ever heard of people participating without having to be remunerated for everything they do? I don't believe you understand. No, you don't! Look at him shaking his head. He does not understand! Are you going to tell me that those people who are...
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member....
MR. BARNES: ...on the community resource boards who are not being paid...? I can tell you that there are four or five...
MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. member...?
MR. BARNES: ...who are not getting a dime! They don't want any money.
MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. member please return...?
MR. BARNES: They have made representation to the Minister of Human Resources, and he refused to listen. They said: "We don't want to get paid; we just want to have the right to continue operating." And he took it away from them. He said: "You don't have any authority to operate."
AN HON. MEMBER: But he ran for a resource board.
MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. member please return to...?
MR. BARNES: So that man over there was a member of a resource board, and started to deny it because he doesn't understand; he thinks there's something wrong with participating with people who work for the love of working, for cooperation and for belief in a system which they want to see survive — and they don't have to be paid.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member....
[ Page 2999 ]
MR. BARNES: Mr. Speaker, what's the problem? (Laughter.) Do you want me to take my seat?
[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, the Chair has granted you great latitude in the material you have delivered in the debate on second reading. Now I think you understand the rules of the House as well as anyone, and the Chair must remind you to return to the principle of the bill.
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat.]
MR. BARNES: Mr. Speaker and former Whip.... As you know, the Speaker and I at one time were colleagues suffering together trying to deal with our respective leaders, and we did have our problems. (Laughter.) I think they want to know that, you know, I've extended that same concern and compassion for you in your new role, and that I'm not going to in any way aggravate the difficult task you have before you. I will move immediately to try and find the principle of this bill. (Laughter.) Don't be discouraged; I'm about to take my seat.
The only way I'm going to be able to do this calmly, as I've tried to do all along, is if I'm not disturbed by these members on the government side who seem to feel that I have been speaking in generalities without getting down to some of the things that are really essential.
But the thing is, I think they need a course in human nature and in things like structures that are important in the environment in which people live, and the kind of atmosphere that's necessary in order for them to be motivated and stimulated in a constructive way to participate.
These are the kinds of things you people seem to be totally oblivious to. You think you can operate in a vacuum. You think you can get a bill passed like this and go into closed doors in the chamber for the executive council and there'd be no problem. But you've got to come out of there and talk to the people. It's important that you talk to the people; it's not important that you pass all this legislation with no communication. If you do, then the people haven't been sufficiently informed. They don't understand what's going on. We don't understand what's going on. We haven't had a chance to represent the people. They are asking us questions we can't answer. You are saying: "Forget it. We'll take care of everything." It's a heck of a mess. We can't have that. You've got to participate.
The most important thing in a democracy is to participate, to have time to let the process take its course. You say it's awkward, it's inconvenient, it's cumbersome, we've got to get on with the people's business. But the people's business is participation. If it means one-fifth the speed at which you are travelling, it is more important in the long run than going through it and having everybody confused. This is what I am trying to tell you. You don't understand. You do not understand.
Now listen, you don't understand. If you think I am kidding, you will find that in the next election the people are going to be on you. I'm trying to help you. (Laughter.) I would like to see you understand in time because believe me, despite my...
MR. BARNES: ...political affiliations, I am more than willing to see you do right. If you do right so well that I can't make any distinction between what I am trying to do and what you're doing, then I would be the first to admit it. Mind you, you have more or less obliterated all of the other parties, because mostly we thought you were different but we find you are all the same. Scotty Wallace — pardon me, the member for Oak Bay — still believes there is a difference and that's why he is standing here. But look what happened to the Minister of Housing (Hon. Mr. Curtis) . He saw the light. He said there is no difference. The Attorney-General said there's no difference. The Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. Williams) said: "There's no difference. Let's go over there and get those guys out of government. They understand people. You can't have that."
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member...
MR. BARNES: Pardon me, Mr. Speaker. I am coming back to the....
MR. SPEAKER: ...you are straying from the principle of the bill.
MR. BARNES: I'm still trying to find the principle of it. (Laughter.)
Okay. I've tried to put the things into perspective — that's all. I've tried to put things into perspective, because this government would like us to believe that things are isolated and separate, but in their respect they are all the same. It doesn't make any difference whether you are talking about Bill 59, Bill 57, Bill 28. The point is, it is the authors of those bills that I am concerned about. I am always worried when I see no indication that the people on that side of the House have any sensitivity or concern for the effects of what they are doing on the people — the effects. Talk about administrative responsibility, fiscal responsibility — you've got to be kidding. What would you have done to Vancouver Island and other places as far as their economies are concerned?
[ Page 3000 ]
MR. BARNES: Wiped them right out. This Minister of Travel Industry (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) says: "Oh, I am concerned about tourism. We want to see the people come to the province." I bet you there won't be very many on Vancouver Island. If they do, you haven't made many friends. Because the kind of things that you have been doing, the kind of things that that Minister of Transport and Communications (Hon. Mr. Davis) has been doing and will be doing in the future, plus muzzling the people, the ones you are getting later in the public service.... You're going to lock the door on them. You're going to back up on them.
So don't start telling me that you care about people. You don't. This bill is just one more treachery to alienate them even further. It's a dirty rotten trick. It's serious; it's an amendment to the constitution of British Columbia. It should go back to the people. We should be having an election on it. It's that kind of a bill as far as I am concerned. You shouldn't be making changes like that without going to the people.
Talk about getting a majority vote on major changes — in most institutions and corporations and what not we have a board of directors. They go and they say: "We want a two-thirds vote." This government doesn't even have a two-thirds majority. They're short. I know, Mr. Speaker, you tried to correct me the other day. You said: "No, you're wrong. We have got it." You haven't got it. I think you are a couple of people short — at least half a person short. But in this case you should want 100 per cent support; 100 per cent is what you should want. You don't want a simple majority of a two-thirds majority. You want 100 percent support. You are making a major change. If we go through this....
Okay, fine. The Provincial Secretary said: "We will eliminate that section that is contentious. We will eliminate '...and shall be conclusively deemed to have been authorized by the Legislature to be so paid and applied.'" She said: "We will eliminate that and then everything should be all right." That's like when someone sticks a gun in my head and he didn't know that I knew a little bit about karate or something. He pulled it fast and I took the gun away from him. He says: "Okay, okay, I'm going to take it away. I will take it away if I have a second chance." I said: "No, but I got it on you now. You tell me you're going to take it away. You would have taken it away. Pardon me, you would have." Well, the thing is now you're going to say: "Fine, we're going to take it away." But why did you put it in there in the first place? We should debate that.
What was your plan about putting it there in the first place? Let's talk about that. When you stand up, you tell us why you thought it was necessary to do it in the first place. I'm worried about your motivation; I'm worried about all of you. I think you have a conspiracy and you're going to pull something fast. There is no reason in the world why I should sit here and let you tell me you're going to amend it when you brought it in in the first place. I'd be some kind of a dummy. I never would have gotten to be the age I am now, I'll tell you, if I had believed that people will come in and tell me something and change their mind. You don't get that many changes; you don't get that many opportunities.
You have already indicated to me, as far as I am concerned, your intentions as many of the other ones have. You have been changing too many things too fast. You've got a plan and your plan is to run people out of this province like myself. I found that out about the Minister of Human Resources when he started saying: "Stop those young people from coming across the border! Don't let them in! Habitat is on. We've got to show a lot of understanding for the people, encourage them, hospitality, but we din't want anybody here, especially those young ones who come in with that long hair and not enough money — they're going to cause problems." That's the attitude you have.
It's not that you don't have a point. It's true that we're not the money tree, but your attitude bothers me; I don't trust you. I would like to trust you, but you're going to have to demonstrate more your ability to carry on with some compassion and sensitivity for the people and for the common decency, for the rights of people and democracy, and the kinds of things we all believe should be uppermost in our minds, the kinds of things we feel will make this a qualitative place to live, a place where people can enjoy with pleasure some of the freedoms and the luxuries that have been left for the elite, the exclusive rights that you feel are for those who have achieved certain merit and certain status in life. You have set this up as an elitist society, a society of classism, and you continue to try and perpetrate this myth upon the people — you exploit them and tell them that they are lucky to be here.
These people have rights. You know as a business people — those of you have been in business — that you have to have something to exploit before you can accumulate. So what do you do? You con them into thinking that they've got to go and participate in a game in which you've got the cards stacked against them. And you have no intention of ever letting up, because it is fundamentally the way you operate; it's the way you build your system.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. BARNES: You believe that everybody should participate. This is why I get excited, Mr. Speaker, when I see things like this. I will tell you that I will not rest easy — I will not rest easy even after they
[ Page 3001 ]
have accepted the amendment which the hon. first member for Vancouver East will be bringing in, and approve the one the Provincial Secretary will be bringing in, or even if they perhaps withdraw the bill. Even if they withdraw it there is no reason for me to feel, all of a sudden, that they are now angels. Remember, they brought it in. They brought it in, and if they bring it in, it tells you something about them. Mr. Speaker, you know that!
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I'm sure you are aware of the fact that all members of the House know that the bill is before us for debate in second reading, which is the principle of the bill. All I'm trying to do is assist you in keeping your points relative to the principle of the bill, Hon. Member.
MR. BARNES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I needed the rest. I always like these interruptions at a time when I am becoming redundant and repetitive, and people are probably getting bored and saying: "Why doesn't he sit down? He knows it only takes one statement for us to understand." But there is one thing I've learned about human nature — and I'm sure the Premier knows this too, and that's why he said he'll have us trained, like he did his dogs, in two weeks. He knows that you can condition people. He knows that, Mr. Speaker, and I know it.
I realize that it depends on what your objectives are. You can convince them to behave in a way in which they can feel that life is beautiful and worth living and participating in — and that would be a message to the member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf), because he probably thinks that if they do that they are going to deceive you, that something is going to go wrong. He has no delusion of people's common motive to be happy, to want to live and to share. People want to love. Even Trudeau found that out — through Margaret.
All I'm trying to say is that we are going to have a new perspective on life, Mr. Premier, and Mr. Minister....
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, while I appreciate a philosophical discussion as much as you do....
MR. BARNES: Yes, I know you do.
MR. SPEAKER: I'm afraid it has nothing to do with the principle of this bill. Unless you relate it to the principle of the bill....
MR. BARNES: Oh, I have to disagree.
MR. SPEAKER: I must ask you to confine your remarks to the principle of the bill.
MR. BARNES: I'll tell you what I'll do: let's have a conference with the member for South Peace River (Hon. Mr. Phillips) and see what he thinks about principles of bills. Do you remember how he talked about the Land Commission Act, Bill 42, two or three years ago? Remember that?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, Hon. Member.
MR. BARNES: I'll tell you, at that time all he could talk about was freedom!
HON. D.M. PHILLIPS (Minister of Agriculture): Shame on you!
MR. BARNES: Freedom, freedom, freedom — of the people — losing their homes, losing their land. That's what he was talking about, and now I'm on the same thing; we have a common interest. But why is it that whenever he talks about it it is all right, but when I talk about it, it is not all right? I'm concerned about the same things that every member on this side of the House is concerned about. They've said it....
MR. D. BARRETT (Leader of the Opposition): She said we were going to have a secret police force.
MR. BARNES: Right! She was trying to get rid of it; she was scared there might be one. She hadn't seen it, and we haven't found it yet. We asked the Attorney-General to help us find it, too. He hasn't been able to find one, but we're all looking.
AN HON. MEMBER: It's a real secret police force. (Laughter.)
MR. BARNES: We know that she may have some illusions, but she is trying to find a danger to democracy; we are trying to do the same thing. Now why can't we all work together.
MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): Except that this bill would allow them to have a secret police force.
MR. BARRETT: That's right — they could set up a secret police force.
MR. BARNES: That's right.
Well, you know, me being inexperienced in the details of drafting bills and so forth, I had to read a few lines to see that there is a game going on, and I just put the thing down. You know, I had to see what was going on. I mean, if a person means well, you trust them and you don't worry about details. You know, it's like my solicitor — I have to have one to protect myself. (Laughter.) He comes and says: "Here I am; sign this." Scribble, scribble, and it's done. But he has never put the screws to me — yet. (Laughter.) If he does, I'm not going to go for that any more.
[ Page 3002 ]
Now we are asked to sign this bill. They almost slipped it through, but I said: "Wait a minute, wait a minute — there might be something that is contentious." It's too late! You were trying to do it to us in the first place and now we are worried. Now we've really got to go through this thing very carefully because you almost got us.
You see, that's what I mean, you know. And that's what's going to be happening, I'm sure, for the next few years. We'll have to watch every step of the way because they have a plan, and the plan is to wipe us out. Right? Come on! When we first came in here — I'm an elected member just the same as you are — I remember many of you saying: "That's right, you shouldn't be here. You have no right to be here."
MR. BARNES: Who didn't say that? Come on, stand up and give us a speech on freedom and democracy. I'd love to have someone stand up.... We'll have leave of the House, even though you have all participated. No, in fact none of you have. Have you? (Laughter.) Now that I think about it....
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member....
MR. BARNES: You've shown great latitude, Mr. Speaker. I promise you, you'll have no cause to interrupt again.
MR. SPEAKER: I must caution you to stay with the principle of the bill.
MR. BARNES: Okay, Mr. Speaker.
I think that I've made my points, and I realize that I'll have an opportunity to recapitulate many of them again in committee. (Laughter.) Perhaps by that time they will be somewhat refined and pulled together and we'll want to be anxiously getting on to the amendments, and particularly the one that the first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Macdonald) is proposing.
What he is in effect saying is: "We want you to have all the authority you need to carry on the people's business without any feeling of restrictions that are undue and unnecessary. But we don't want to have you burdened with the responsibility of having to decide whether or not you are within the law. So we are going to eliminate that possibility by telling you that the law will not be changed, that the constitution must remain intact, that the rights of the people must prevail, and that you're not going to do that unless you want to go back to the people and get their permission out there in a general election."
I for one would never, in any way, diminish the right, the hard-fought right that we all enjoy in this House as representatives of the people in this province, to stand here on their behalf and know that we can scrutinize every step of the way what goes on in this government. We won't have that right if this bill passes unamended, and it won't pass if it's only amended the way the Provincial Secretary suggested. It's got to be amended the way the member for Vancouver East suggested, not the way that the member for Vancouver–Little Mountain (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) suggests.
So with that, I'm quite willing to take my seat, and I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your indulgence. I think you've been most courteous and I think that you should be reminded from time to time and encouraged to stay with it, because not each day is easy, as you know. I want to let you know that I have compassion for you, and I know that your role is one of impartiality and as you sit there as a person who, by virtue of the choice of your colleagues for you to do so, although it wasn't unanimous...that you nonetheless are there and that you are burdened with duties that can be fun one day and extremely hazardous the next.
MR. BARNES: But, you know, that's the strength of our system. If you weren't doing that, who would be doing it? If you didn't take all the heat, you know, who would take it?
I'll tell you, we may be out on the streets if it wasn't for you, so don't get discouraged. (Laughter.) You know, people can get pretty nasty, but the British parliamentary system protects us as long as it's not emasculated — as long as it's not ripped apart carelessly by people who are playing games with it by expediency and carrying on for the few short years they'll be in office. You see, we're getting beyond that. I want to thank you and we'll be seeing you in a very little while, perhaps tomorrow, on the committee stage, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. minister closes the debate.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'd just like to say, in replying to the last speaker and remarking on his address to the House, that I think he spent a great deal of the time, especially in the last few minutes, giving great credit to you, sir, for the difficult job that you have. Considering that the debate has wandered so far from the principle of the bill, I certainly have to agree with that member that you certainly have had a difficult time.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: May I just say this too, Mr. Speaker, that the reverse of the truth could not
[ Page 3003 ]
have been said with such exact precision and with such feigned emotion as has gone on during this debate?
MR. BARRETT: Oh, you read the wrong page.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: The opposition has not talked to the principle of this bill...
AN HON. MEMBER: One more strike for you.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: ...because all the emotional hogwash that has accompanied this debate shows they have not read nor understood this legislation.
AN HON. MEMBER: And now you're amending it.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: It's a political ploy, Mr. Speaker...
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: ...but I'll say this: when I went through this province, and I did....
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: ...within the last three and a half years....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: When I commented on the NDP legislation of the last three and a half years...
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: ...I never had to make it up, Mr. Speaker. I never had to fabricate it.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: I've never had to fabricate the case...
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: ...for power centred in the former NDP government. The pious statements of power being taken away from this Legislature made by the same people who set up all-powerful boards and commissions taking all the power out of this Legislature and putting it into non-elected hands....
AN HON. MEMBER: Name one!
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: The amendments to the Revenue Act that the Finance minister, the then Premier of the province....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Where were you when that debate took place, Mr. Member?
MR. A.B. MACDONALD (Vancouver East): Just name one.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: I just named one.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: That is one I am bound to say this government has taken out of the hands of the Finance minister, because we don't want power in the hands of our Finance minister, nor do we want the power of that kind that was taken unto himself by the former Premier, in the hands of any member of a Social Credit government or any government to follow.
You could do anything you wanted with the Revenue Act, and not only that, you did; you gambled with the people's money. You gambled on the stock market and everywhere else.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: They tied to this bill the threat that this Legislature has no power over the spending of moneys — completely untrue, Mr. Speaker. Every single vote that is passed by this Legislature, every single dollar is guarded over by this Legislature and still will be with the passage of this bill.
The only difference, and I repeat what I said in my opening remarks to the introduction of this bill, the only difference is not the change of dollars from one place to another, but the difference in letting the vote move, the vote complete with its total amount of money passed by this Legislature to perhaps be placed in a different department, just changing the functions of the particular department.
MR. BARRETT: Now you see it, now you don't.
[ Page 3004 ]
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Well, we all saw you, Mr. Member. The people of British Columbia saw you and read you and saw through you.
Now, Mr. Speaker, the question has been asked by members of the NDP, it has been asked by the hon. Liberal leader (Mr. Gibson) and the hon. Conservative leader (Mr. Wallace). What would this House say? Would you like the NDP to have this power? The question has been asked by almost every speaker that has come before in this debate, by the NDP particularly. I'm going to say, Mr. Speaker, that the answer is no, but it was not given by us. That answer was given, the answer to "Would you like us to have that power?" was given by the people of British Columbia on December 11.
The people said: "We don't want you to have any power," and that answer was very clearly given: no power at all to the socialists of the province. That power that you — that all-hungry power...why, the member for Vancouver-Burrard (Ms. Brown) said at a speech in Terrace, "Power is the name of the game," she said, the second member for Vancouver-Burrard.
You're the socialists that talk about power, and yet they are saying in speeches in Terrace — not before this Legislature, Mr. Speaker, not before this House — but she's saying: "Politics is the only route to power." I'm quoting Rosemary Brown — "and power is the name of the game" — speaking in Terrace Saturday at a conference on women's changing role.
Mr. Speaker, there have also been comments made during the debate on this bill that the former NDP government moved to ratify and kept ministers without portfolio. But I want to refer again to the member for Prince — Rupert (Mr. Lea) who referred to a former member of this House, the member for Cowichan-Malahat (Mr. Strachan), who served this House as a Minister of Highways.
He served this House and was sworn in after Minister of Highways as Minister of Commercial Transport and Communications on May 18, 1973. On July 13,1973, as he was still....
MR. LEA: What about May 25?
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: As he was still.... May 18.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: He was still the Minister of Commercial Transport and Communications.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
AN HON. MEMBER: Order!
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could bring that unruly member to order. I gave him my full attention when he was speaking in this debate.
MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. members please allow the hon. minister to proceed in debate on this bill?
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Following that action, on July 13, 1973, just two months later....
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, I know that the hon. Provincial Secretary does not intentionally or any other way plan to mislead this House, and I would ask her if she's going back to that July 13 order-in-council, before that to refer to May 25. Because if she goes to July, it's a complete misleading of this House.
MR. SPEAKER: Order!
[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, this was not a point of order in the proper manner that you're making. Any hon. member has the privilege and the prerogative of referring to statements, documents, transcripts — whatever — in debate. Every member take full responsibility for what they say in and outside of this House, and for you to bring a matter of that nature up as a point of order was not a legitimate point of order, Hon. Member.
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat.]
MR. LEA. Mr. Speaker, I accept your correction, and I will raise it under section 42 at the end of her statement.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, let me go back. The Minister of Highways, the then member for Cowichan-Malahat (Hon. Mr. Strachan) and the then Minister of Highways, was sworn in as Minister of Commercial Transport and Communications on May 18, 1973. By order-in-council, May 25, 1973, the Hon. Robert Martin Strachan was designated Minister of Commercial Transport and Communications and was at that point in time given by that order jurisdiction over many areas, again many departments, and I'll name some of them: the motor-vehicle branch, which was then in the Department of Highways, the data processing centre, which was then in the Premier's office, the B.C.
[ Page 3005 ]
Ferries, provincial aircraft which was then in the Department of the Provincial Secretary — and I may stand corrected on that, I'm not quite sure of that one, but I think it was — telephones and communications, again in the hands of the Provincial Secretary, and the motor carrier branch, which I believe at that time was in the hands of the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Macdonald). It is just suing the same argument.
I will say this, Mr. Speaker, that on July 13, 1973, again following the point that the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea) was trying to make, two months later in an order-in-council transferred all of these various departments to the new minister. It did not have any reference to this Legislature.
I'd like you to know, Mr. Speaker, that it was not until November 29, 1973, by order-in-council number 3958 that he was designated as the executive council member charged with the administration of the Department of Transport and Communications Act.
Mr. Speaker, the point that the hon. member for Prince Rupert was trying to make in that respect was that what the NDP government did in that time was all so different than what we are trying to do through this Act. It's not so different. It's just the same thing except they did it without the authority, and this Act is giving the authority of the Legislature to transfer functions from one department to another.
I would like to also address my remarks to the hon. first member for Vancouver East, and I believe that his wording last evening just at the close of the debate on the amendment was that he never had seen anything anywhere in any legislature that had the words "notwithstanding any act of the Legislature." I think he said it was unprecedented. I believe that was the phraseology, "unprecedented legislation," Mr. Speaker.
AN HON. MEMBER: He never read it.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, let me quote from the Manitoba Executive Act.
MS. R. BROWN (Vancouver-Burrard): I did that!
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: I'm looking at the organization of the executive government:
"Notwithstanding any act of the Legislature, the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council may determine the organization of the executive government, and of the various departments thereof, and for that purpose may (a) establish, vary, or disestablish any department, (b) determine or vary the duties and functions of any department and transfer any duties and functions from one department to another, and (c) determine or change the name of any department."
Mr. Speaker, that is taken from the Manitoba 1970 statutes.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Could I say this to you, Mr. Speaker? I agree with the hon. Conservative leader of the House (Mr. Wallace) when he says that just because it is being done by a Manitoba or Saskatchewan government — and by the way, I haven't quoted Saskatchewan, but it is. It is done by Alberta and it is done by Saskatchewan. It is done by Manitoba, and I agree with the hon. member for Oak Bay.
Just because this is compared and copied from those jurisdictions, that is absolutely no reason why this Legislature should take on any kind of legislation simply because it was done by the NDP government or the Conservative government in Alberta. However, I draw that to your attention because I want you to also know of the remarks by the Premier of the Province of Manitoba when he introduced this Act: April 30, 1970, in the presentation of Bill No. 40, the Executive Government Organization Act for second reading.
"Mr. Schreyer: Mr. Speaker, perhaps it would be in order if I were to give some brief explanation of this legislation, this proposed legislation, although I suspect that not too much is required by hon. members opposite inasmuch as they had something to do with the drafting of it initially, and there have been no substantive changes made in the draft."
And as an aside and not quoting Mr. Schreyer, Mr. Speaker, I refer then to you that that was the Conservative government prior to the Schreyer government that he was suggesting. To go on to quote Mr. Schreyer:
"I think it can be said in a few words, Mr. Speaker, that the main effect of this legislation is to formalize the number of practices already in use and to provide, generally speaking, for greater flexibility in the executive branch of government.
"Quite a number of the sections in this bill are really in many ways a repetition or a restating of sections, provisions in the present Act, that is to say, in the Executive Council Act.
"The important new provisions are to be found in sections 7 and 8 whereby there is authorization given for the establishment of committees of cabinet to carry out certain functions and purposes. The great flexibility proposed here in section 8 would empower the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council to determine with greater ease the organization of the executive arm of government rather than have
[ Page 3006 ]
departmental Acts for each and every department. It would empower the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council to rearrange the executive arm as is found most expeditious and most efficient in the judgment of members of the executive council.
"There is also provision in the bill for the delegation of powers, the kind of delegation of powers that is frequently found in statutes. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that other specific clauses in this bill are more of a routine nature."
I would like to just now quote for the benefit particularly of the member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) from the reply to Mr. Schreyer. It was by the then Leader of the Opposition and the member in the Conservative camp who held the government just prior to this bill being introduced.
"Mr. Walter Weir, Leader of the Opposition (Minnedosa): Well, Mr. Speaker, I haven't yet had an opportunity to go over the bill in detail but I have the First Minister's indication that it is substantially the same bill that was being worked on. May I say that I agree with it wholeheartedly? I think that the government of the day and the changes that take place in an economy like ours are such that the executive council should have reasonable flexibility so they can put into effect any efficiencies that may be dictated by current trend of the times.
"So with just these few words and with the indication that I agree with the principle that is contained in the bill, Mr. Speaker, and indicating that I haven't yet checked the clauses, I am prepared to allow it to go to committee. If there are any questions in detail I am prepared to deal with it at that time and not hold up for further discussion here."
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to refer the House to the federal Act — I will quote from chapter 14, No. 29 — which says under "transitional"....
AN HON. MEMBER: Your straw man is failing down.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: "The powers, duties and functions of the minister shall be applied to such classifications of the public service within the department as the Governor-in-Council may determine." I would also like to refer you to statutes in Saskatchewan that give the same powers. I won't take the time of the House to quote the bill, but the same powers are given in Saskatchewan. Again, Mr. Speaker, the opposition has taken a technical, organizational Act of this government and is attempting to feign ignorance, going overboard in trying to place an aura of suspicion just over a technical change.
What they are really saying, these members of the opposition, is that they do not understand the power of the Legislature. They don't understand the power that we have. These 55 elected people in this House have supreme power. That is where the power is centred in British Columbia; that is where it is going to remain.
Mr. Speaker, this Legislature, these 55 members have complete jurisdiction over every penny, over every dime, over every dollar. If they do not know their boundaries — if they do not understand their role — if they do not know that, then they should not be here. They should not be here. It's their responsibility to understand that. Where were they...?
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Where were they in the debate on the Revenue Act in the former government? Where were those pious members?
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: They are tying the debate to dollars. They bring up the "not a dime without debate." Believe me, Mr. Speaker, this side of the House believes that there should never be a dime spent — not a penny — in this House without debate.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, the present structure of government has served us well, but with the passage of time society changes and its demands on government change.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Government structure must change too if it is to effectively meet the public needs. This Government Reorganization Act is part of an ongoing programme by this administration to bring government into the 20th century, to ensure that its services are aligned with the aspirations and technology of the day and to do it in such a way that the authority of this Legislative Assembly remains paramount.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: No one is happy with the continuing trend for governments at all levels, Mr. Speaker, to cost the taxpayer more and more and ever more. It is our responsibility, therefore, to continually review our programmes and constantly review our services and the manner in which they are delivered to the citizens of this province. The Government Reorganization Act is part of that
[ Page 3007 ]
I want to say it again because it bears repeating in this House: this bill does not allow the cabinet to determine any powers, any duties, any functions, only to change those from one department to another. Votes have always been changed, Mr. Speaker, without explicit authority, from one department to another. This Act, Mr. Speaker, will give such flexibility. That is all it does.
Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.
MR. LEA: Under rule 42, Mr. Speaker — the hon. Provincial Secretary, when closing debate on Bill 59, referred to a statement that I had made in the House. To me it's obvious that she misunderstood what I had to say. Under rule 42, I have the option of correcting that misunderstanding.
MR. SPEAKER: If you have been misquoted or misunderstood, that is correct, Hon. Member.
MR. LEA: When I was speaking during the debate on Bill 59, I went into the history surrounding the fact that Bob Strachan had been appointed as the Minister of Commercial Transport and Communications and how it had all been handled within the law — under the constitutional law of this province. The Provincial Secretary has said that it was not. I would like to, for the House, so they can understand what I said, and the Provincial Secretary, go over what I said so there's no misunderstanding.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I must draw to your attention that in the use of rule 42 you may make a brief statement of correction, but you cannot engage again in debate upon the matter. It's just a matter of a brief statement of correction.
MR. LEA: I understand that, Mr. Speaker. The Provincial Secretary, when speaking, said that I had said it had all been lawful and she said it had not. I would just like to briefly point out to the Provincial Secretary and to the House where it is indeed lawful, as I described it.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Order!
MR. KEMPF: You'll never learn.
MR. SPEAKER: There's no debate, Hon. Member. It's not, Hon. Member, recanvassing it or entering into a debate. If you have been misquoted, that's one thing that you can bring to the attention of the floor, but you have an opinion which is perhaps different from the Provincial Secretary. That is not something which you can bring into debate at the moment. What you can do is refer to something she has said which has been a misquote of yours or she has misunderstood, but you cannot enter into a debate, Hon. Member.
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to enter into a debate, but rule 42 clearly says that if there has been, in the member's opinion, a misunderstanding of what I have said, then I have the option, under rule 42, to clear up what I consider to be that misunderstanding of what I said in the Legislature. It's obvious to me, Mr. Speaker, that for the Provincial Secretary to say what she did in her closing of the debate she had to have misunderstood what I said. I would like the opportunity under rule 42 to clear that up.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Order! Order!
MR. SPEAKER: One moment, please. We can't have two points of order on the floor of the House at the same time. It's now my understanding that the hon. member for Prince Rupert was on his feet on a point of order.
HON. R.H. McCLELLAND (Minister of Health): Could I just comment on the point of order that's already on the floor?
MR. SPEAKER: Not while the member for Prince Rupert is in possession of the floor under rule 42. I must caution you, it must be very brief and cannot be argumentative.
MR. LEA: It is not. The misunderstanding seems to be, Mr. Speaker...and I suppose it was my fault that I didn't indicate that when Mr. Strachan was appointed to Commercial Transport there was already a portfolio in existence that he was appointed to. I would like to file with the House, to clear up the misunderstanding, Mr. Speaker, an order-in-council dated May 25, 1973, which I believe will clear up the misunderstanding — that in fact, what happened in those days when we were the administration was handled according to law. I would like to file with the House this order-in-council.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. Minister of Health on a point of order.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: This is just a point of
[ Page 3008 ]
MR. SPEAKER: One moment. Before I can take your point of order, the hon. member for Prince Rupert wishes to file a document with the House. Shall leave be granted?
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think this whole debate has been out of order. The member obviously wasn't misquoted and had nothing to stand up to correct. I'd just like to point out that there's nothing in our rule book which insists that anybody in the House must understand the statements that that member makes. If there was, I would suggest that that would be cruel and unusual punishment, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: There is a rule in our House that if a member feels that he has been misquoted or misunderstood, that hon. member can make a brief explanation.
MR. LEA: Where's your rule book?
MS. BROWN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I too would like to raise, under section 42, a misquote by the hon. Provincial Secretary.
MR. SPEAKER: Is this in relation to a remark made on the floor of the House?
MS. BROWN: In closing her debate on the floor of the House she read from a speech given by me in Terrace in the newspaper.
First of all, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to assure the House that I was flattered to find out that the hon. Provincial Secretary keeps a clipping file on me, but I want to set the record straight if you would allow me, Mr. Speaker, please — under section 42.
[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: Would you take your seat?
Rule 42, hon. members, can only be used where one hon. member has misquoted another member of the House. You must then relate your remarks to something that you said in this debate on the floor of the House which she has misquoted.
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat.]
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, maybe you should make your explanation to the Premier. He doesn't seem to understand what section 42 means.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MS. BROWN: In closing debate the hon. Provincial Secretary read a quote which quite frankly I wish I had said. I wish I could have been given credit for that quote, but in fact, Mr. Speaker, if I may be permitted to conclude, what the hon. Provincial Secretary was reading was a quote which must be credited to the Hon. Shirley Chisholm, who is the person who said those words.
I certainly agree with them, and I know the Provincial Secretary does because she certainly is involved in the pursuit of power herself. That is one thing that we share in common.
[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: It is not fair to the Chair or to the members of this House to use points of order and rules of the House in an improper manner. That's all I wish to bring to the member's attention.
The question is....
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat.]
MR. LEA: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker....
MR. SPEAKER: I'm putting the question, Hon. Member, but if you have a point of order I will listen to it.
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, I would like to read to you rule 42, because I don't....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! It is not necessary. We all have rule books and we can all read them.
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, it is necessary because I interpret rule 42 differently, obviously, than you do. I would like to have some clarification of rule 42.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The rules are there, Hon. Member....
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, I'm asking the Chair for clarification of the rule that is in our standing orders. If you feel that is frivolous and you should not deal with that, then I believe you have no idea of what your role is in that chair. I'm asking you for advice, Mr. Speaker, and you're refusing to give it!
[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, may I make two points. All members of this House have copies of the rule book.
MR. SPEAKER: One moment, please!
[ Page 3009 ]
MR. SPEAKER: All members of the House have copies of the rules of this House. The rules are there for all of us to read and it's not a matter of taking the time of the House in debate on particular interpretations of the rules. If the hon. member is concerned about rule 42 or the interpretation of it he has ample opportunity outside of the chambers to come to the offices of the Speaker or the Clerks or engage in discussion on the particular matter.
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat.]
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, you need to clarify the rule publicly in this House.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
The question is second reading of Bill 59, Government Reorganization Act.
Motion approved on the following division:
YEAS — 30
NAYS — 15
|Wallace, B.B.||Gibson||Wallace, G.S.|
Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
Bill 59, Government Reorganization Act, read a second time and referred to Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, Committee of Supply.
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member for North
Vancouver-Capilano on a point of order.
MR. GIBSON: I'm just a little puzzled here, sir. We've been advised by the government Whip that we were now carrying on with Bills 81 and 82, and I wonder what we're doing.
MR. SPEAKER: Will the hon. House Leader reply to the hon. member?
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, it is true that the Whips had an agreement to go to 81 and 82, and we would have been pleased so to do, but I understand that the opposition's speaker is not in the building and cannot be until after lunch, so we are going to put that over, if we may, until after lunch unless you'd like....
MR. SPEAKER: Perhaps the other hon. members would like to participate first in the debate.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: If they are ready, I would be pleased to call it.
AN HON. MEMBER: You don't want it called!
MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, just to keep the record straight I think that since we're going backwards on the order paper in this protracted session, we should ask for leave.
MR. SPEAKER: Committee of Supply, by leave. Shall leave be granted?
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.
MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, so nice to have you back. We've discussed the Department of Mines and the Minister of Mines for some time, but it was a little while ago. Just in case we need our memories refreshed, I thought that I might review one or two of the thoughts that occurred to me at the time of the discussion of that ministry.
First we found a department minister who indicated publicly that he could only spend 20 per cent of his time in the mine shaft and, Mr. Chairman,
[ Page 3010 ]
we found every evidence that less than 20 per cent of his attention was spent in the area of mines.
MR. BARRETT: And only 60 per cent of the normal relationship of anybody else's attention.
MR. COCKE: The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) is making a pronouncement with which I agree, but it's so complicated that I'm not going to try to put it forward this afternoon.
Mr. Chairman, it was because of this lack of attention to a very important process in this province that the opposition moved an amendment. That amendment has been resolved at this point, but that amendment, I think, showed that there was a real concern on this side of the House over the way that there has not been enough attention to detail and attention to principle and attention to policy in the mining resource sector of this province.
We found a minister who felt that the mining industry in B.C. needed a face uplift and so, in order to encourage that this be done, his executive assistant's son was commissioned to assist in this regard. We say that was a miserable mistake, Mr. Chairman, and that minister when interviewed on television rather agreed that he had made a mistake. You know, some of us were a little bit encouraged at that time. We thought, well, the minister has made a mistake. He's promoted something that should have been quite without his sphere of influence, but he admitted publicly that he thought possibly he had overstepped the bounds — and I'm paraphrasing, of course, what he said.
But then, Mr. Chairman, the minister confounded us. We thought that possibly at that point he's learned his lesson, but he confounded us by making further mistakes which have been alluded to in our debate.
Mr. Chairman, I believe that the Minister of Mines, despite the fact that he has said that he's only spent a very small portion of his time in this area, has been very much overworked, even with that 20 per cent, or somewhat less, if we are to use the Leader of the Opposition's point of view in calculating worth along with time spent.
Mr. Chairman, we have a province that has been totally confused. On one hand, we have a province that has been told by the government of the day that now is the time to participate. Now is the time to tighten up the belt. Then on the other hand, we've got a mining minister who has told that industry: "Friends, " — and I say friends, using the term in a political way — "Friends, you don't have to tighten your belts; you can loosen your belts right off."
Now that inconsistency hasn't quite escaped the opposition — the inconsistency of saying to the people of our province, "Tighten your belts, pay more taxes, pay more for insurance," and at the same time, saying to the mining industry, which admits that the problem isn't the royalties, the problem isn't anything other than terrible world markets, a world recession — a recession that's driving our present Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Wolfe) grey.
I say as an aside that I'm worried about it — look at him. Have you ever seen a man age to the extent he has in so few months? He really is. He's aging; he's grey.
MR. BARRETT: That's the Minister Without Portfolio who can pass as the aging Minister of Health redone by the Minister of Education. (Laughter.)
MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, the inconsistency with which this province has been treated...first by the government and then by the Minister of Mines, saying: "All is well out there and we want to see to it that you people don't tighten your belt; you loosen your belt."
Mr. Chairman, we certainly know that he had a lot of help in making those kinds of statements of that kind of policy to the mining industry. He's been very close to it over the years. I'm sure that his position in the past was one that, if one isn't terribly careful — and this is what I'm trying to lead to — could lead to conflict-of-interest situations developing because of friendships that develop over the years.
Mr. Chairman, with all the respect I can muster for the Premier — and sometimes I find it difficult — but with all the respect I can muster for the Premier, wasn't it a terrible mistake that he should appoint that member for Yale-Lillooet Minister of Mines? Should he not have looked around in his potential cabinet for someone who did not have those kinds of connections, for someone who might very well have looked at the mining process, the mining resource industry, with a clear view?
No, Mr. Chairman, instead of that, the first minister of our province decided to appoint a person who was clearly identified with the mining industry, a person who had been on the hustings during the election crying out: "You're safe in the arms of the coalition."
I'm using something that I think the Chairman of our House would wonder why I would use that particular line, but I thought it was appropriate. "Safe in the arms of the coalition" — that verse was written by the now Minister of Mines.
Is it any wonder this side of the House looks at that Minister of Mines with a great deal of apprehension over the future? Not only are we looking at him in that way, but forest industry looks at it that way too. They say if he's only spending 20 per cent of his time in Mines, what's he doing with the other 80 per cent, because he sure isn't doing anything over there.
That member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) — and we
[ Page 3011 ]
shouldn't dub him the member for Northwood, should we? That wouldn't be fair to talk about his connections. He's running back to his chair; he's going to challenge that. Mr. Chairman, while he's making his way across the floor, let me continue.
The Minister of Mines is devoting 20 per cent of his time to Mines, and that 20 per cent has been mis-spent for the most part, as I think we've clearly identified over the last short while.
Mr. Chairman, his other 80 per cent is not being spent where it should be, according to the forest industry. They are asking the question: "Where is he? What's he doing for our industry?" I suggest to you that while the forest industry cried out with concern over the previous Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Mr. Williams), oh, how they would love to have him back! You see, the only concern they had over that former minister was the fact that they weren't quite sure what he was thinking. Of course, you know, he wasn't quite sure what they were thinking either, so it was kind of tit for tat. But we know that the minister now isn't thinking at all.
Mr. Chairman, we've identified a weak link across the way. We've identified a minister who really is not paying attention to what he is doing, and when he does he makes mistakes, because he was all rolled up in those mistakes from the outset. He made promises; he's tried to deliver but those were bad promises.
Mr. Chairman, I'm so concerned about that minister and his strength.... I'm very concerned about his strength. I feel that he looks a little bit weak now.
It could be that in order to answer some of the questions that have been raised, he should have something to eat, some sustenance. So in order to afford him that opportunity, I move that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Motion negatived on the following division:
YEAS — 15
|Wallace, B.B.||Gibson||Wallace, G.S.|
NAYS — 29
Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Chairman, I just have a few questions for the Minister of Mines at this time. I would like to ask him first of all about his plans for what I see as one of the greatest potentials for the B.C. mining industry, a frontier area into which it is going to have to move because of the declining rate of return on our land-based mining enterprises. Of course I am talking about the potential of undersea mining for British Columbia, particularly in the Pacific Ocean.
Just to lay the foundation for that a little bit, I would like to tell the House something about the rate of return in the industry in British Columbia and in Canada generally in recent years.
From 1967 to 1975 in British Columbia the composite return on investment was 10.4 per cent — hardly the kind of thing, Mr. Chairman, that is generally thought of as a bonanza industry. As a matter of fact, when it is ranked among the various industries of this nation, it is not very impressive at all.
There was one very good year during that period, an extraordinary year — 1973 — where the return on investment was 24 per cent in British Columbia. I will come back to that year later. From there on it was nosedived: in 1974 it was 12.7 per cent; in 1975 back to about that long-term average, 10.6 per cent. I should say, Mr. Chairman, that without coal in 1975 — in other words, the metallic mineral section, which is what many people think of as "mining" when they use the word — the rate of return on investment was only 2.2 per cent. It was disastrously low.
We have reached the point where the senior economist for the Royal Bank of Canada had this to say. In a conference devoted to the mining industry sponsored by the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce that the minister attended and I attended as well for a period of time, Mr. Ralph Sultan said that his long-term forecast for the province is a British Columbia without mines. We call it our second industry, and it is. Here is a senior economist for the Royal Bank calling it a province without mines in the long-term future. He says that the trend of the last four years aren't reversed.
Listen to some of these statements. I am quoting Dr. Sultan here as he was reported in The Province of May 31 of this year. He said: "The estimated return on capital for the metal mining industry last year was only 5.8 per cent — one-half of the rate achieved in 1974." Now that is a national figure, Mr. Chairman, which is lower than British Columbia, it is true, but
[ Page 3012 ]
much higher than the British Columbia metal-mining sector, which is what I am particularly concerned with at the moment.
"Needless to say, there are no exciting profit vistas in these numbers for the mining investor. The Royal Bank will give you much more than 5.8 per cent if you invest your money in a risk-free insured savings account."
I guess inasmuch as he is an economist for the Royal Bank he thought he'd get that commercial in.
He went on to say:
"It may also be noted that the metal mining industry in 1975 stands close to the bottom of the list in terms of profit performance being outdone in its dismal profit return only by the rubber industry and textiles."
This is the industry, Mr. Chairman, that many people in this province think is a goose that is full of golden eggs. You can pluck all the feathers off it and pay the budget of the province of British Columbia, but you just can't. There is a very serious return-on-investment problem here.
Dr. Sultan went on to say how we reached the ridiculous taxation state that we are in today and will be in until certain legislation before this House is passed — even then it won't be entirely satisfactory. He said that with hindsight the problem developed during those days of the enormous commodity prices in 1973 and early 1974. I am quoting him again because that didn't last too long. He says:
"For the price bubble was pretty soon pricked. Profits were squeezed and, worst of all, there was set into motion a train of logic which demanded that any windfall profits be taxed away. Ironically, although food and fibre commodity prices were run up even higher and faster than metal prices, there was no parallel outcry to tax away monopoly rents in those industries. Clearly special human emotions are aroused by activities which evolve in digging ore out of the ground, pumping oil out of the ground and taking it away. So we stumbled into the nightmare which even today is Canadian mining law, particularly here in the west."
And I end my quotation of Dr. Sultan at that point. But that's a good capsule history of how we got into some of the trouble that we are in right now.
Now given those facts, Mr. Chairman, and given the geological facts of life of British Columbia...which are that what has been our historically greatest metal, copper, is very low grade in this province. Our large deposits tend to run under 0.5 per cent compared to 1 per cent in the southwest United States and getting up to 2 per cent in South America and around through the Philippines and the Guineas.
When you look at those kind of international comparisons, our long-term international competitive advantage is not good in its prospects. The reason we have done so well is because we developed first and because we put in large infusions of capital and technology and we were able to keep our costs down. But other countries are coming up with those same ingredients now and our competitive edge is slipping off.
So what can we do? Where can we go? Where can we expand, particularly given the fact that there was a hiatus there of about three years where we lost our momentum in the British Columbia mining industry?
Mr. Chairman, there is in the Pacific Ocean, between British Columbia and Hawaii in the largest terms of concentration — but really all through the Pacific Ocean — an enormous supply of copper. It's been calculated by various geologists as being 800 years supply of copper at current consumption in the so-called manganese nodules lying on the floor of the sea.
Mr. Chairman, the grade in these nodules is comparable to that of British Columbia copper deposits. It runs around 0.5 per cent. There are also amounts of nickel, large amounts of cobalt and manganese — far more than the world market requires — and other minerals in these undersea deposits. These deposits have attracted the attention of nations and multinational corporations throughout the world. Extensive work is being done on their exploitation.
There is, at the current moment, no law which says exactly how they shall be administered in the international affairs of the world or exactly who the ownership will be, but it appears we may be moving towards some sort of arrangement where the United Nations will get a percentage of whatever the proceeds may be to the owners who, presumably, are the people of the world, unless they are to be divided perhaps among the developing nations in some disproportionate share according to their needs.
But whatever the legal regime may eventually turn out to be with respect to these undersea resources.... Undersea deposits is certainly the technically correct word for them because they have been gradually deposited and precipitated out of the seawater over the thousands of years in ways that we don't really fully understand at this moment, but, interestingly enough, one year's depositation is sufficient to supply us with one year's copper requirements in this world as time goes by. So it is virtually a renewable resource in this aspect.
One thing is certain: whatever the legal regime may be, as in so many cases, occupation or possession of the field will tend to be nine points of the law. It is therefore, in my view, essential that British Columbia expand her mining frontiers to the area which logically challenges us now, which is the Pacific Ocean. While we still have extensive land-based resources open for development, we must look to the
[ Page 3013 ]
We are not talking about anything that is going to materialize in the next five years, Mr. Chairman, but we have to plan now for things that are going to materialize in 10 years or 15 years. Now I suggest that we have these kinds of assets in British Columbia to go after this opportunity. We have some of the world's most prominent mining expertise and technology here in British Columbia. We have some of the world's best undersea technology. By a very happy circumstance for this province, much of it is located on Vancouver's North Shore, North Vancouver. Two of the most famous firms are International Hydrodynamics and Horton Maritime Explorations, both of them operating submersibles which are capable of doing exactly the kind of work that is required for undersea mining.
We have the multinational mining corporations in Canada and active here in British Columbia, who are capable, at least operating as a consortium if not individually, of financing this kind of effort, and we have some of the academic expertise that has to be fed into the whole mix in order to make sure that what comes out of the other end is a system of undersea mining that works and works economically.
Now to me, Mr. Chairman, the challenge is to say, how do we get all these things together in British Columbia? Some of our larger mining firms, as the minister is perhaps aware, have made some tentative plans and steps in this direction within their own corporate organization, but the challenge is such that in my view it is going to dwarf the resources of any individual outfit.
I think that there is going to have to be a getting together of many of the companies to meet this undersea opportunity and challenge, and I think that there is going to have to be some blessing and perhaps some participation by the Government of British Columbia to make certain that this getting together and moving forward happens in both a timely and acceptable fashion.
There may be some money required, some seed money required from the people of British Columbia to make sure that we, in this corner of Canada, operating off our foothold on the Pacific Ocean, realize our opportunity to extend our mining industry, which has been developed over so many years, to extend that to the frontier of the future which is the bottom of the sea. It's a tremendously important thing for British Columbia's future.
I say again: not next year, not the year after, but perhaps five or ten years down the road this is going to mean a lot of employment in this province, which, God knows, is going to have enough employment problems in that time as we gradually lose our competitive advantage in existing land-based industries.
Mr. Chairman, I will leave that with the minister to mull over during the luncheon hour.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
The committee, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again and the division was ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, if you intend to bring in a ruling, I would suggest that 2 p.m. would be more appropriate.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I think that it will only take me a few moments to read this.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I think it would be more appropriate, considering the fact that there will be time to discuss this. I was aware that it would take a little longer to prepare it — I understood that — and there needs to be time to discuss it. I am suggesting, as a courtesy to the House, that it would be more appropriate at 2 p.m. The members have been sitting since 10 a.m. and we only have an hour until we come back to the House again.
MR. BARRETT: Look, we only have an hour — that's all — and we'll be back. We've extended the time to prepare it and I'm saying, as a matter of courtesy, that it would be more appropriate at 2 p.m.
MR. SPEAKER: I'm quite prepared to give my ruling at 2 p.m. as well as at this particular moment, but I do want the hon. members to know that the Speaker was prepared at this adjournment to give a ruling.
MR. BARRETT: That's fine.
Hon. Mrs. McCarthy moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 1:02 p.m.