1977 Legislative Session: 2nd Session, 31st Parliament

The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.

Official Report of



MONDAY, JUNE 13, 1977

Afternoon Sitting

[ Page 2653 ]


Routine proceedings

Evidence Amendment Act, 1977 (Bill 2) Hon. Mr. Gardom.

Introduction and first reading –– 2653

Skagit Valley Lands Repeal Act (Bill 61) Hon. Mr. Nielsen.

Introduction and first reading –– 2653


Attire of members in the chamber. Mr. Wallace –– 2653

Message to the Queen. Hon. Mr. Bennett –– 2653

Routine proceedings

Tabling documents

Ministry of Agriculture annual report, 1976. Hon. Mr. Hewitt –– 2653

British Columbia Marketing Board annual report, 1976. Hon. Mr. Hewitt –– 2653

Report of a commission of inquiry concerning the education and training of practical nurses and related hospital personnel, and in the matter of A.E.

Filmer and G.D. McKinnon. Hon. Mrs. McCarthy –– 2654

Oral questions

Dease Lake rail extension. Mr. Lauk –– 2654

Equalization payments to Quebec. Mr. Gibson –– 2655

Provincial price-monitoring board. Mr. Wallace –– 2655

Northern railway agreement funding. Mr. Stupich –– 2656

Status of Railwest operations. Mr. Lauk –– 2656

Matter of urgent public importance

Use of herbicides in Okanagan Lake system. Mr. Gibson –– 2657

Routine proceedings

Independent Schools Support Act (Bill 33) Second reading.

Hon. Mr. McGeer –– 2658

Mr. Barrett –– 2660

On the amendment.

Mr. Cocke –– 2663

Mr. Gibson –– 2665

Mrs. Dailly –– 2666

Mr. Macdonald –– 2668

Mr. Stupich –– 2669

Hon. Mr. McGeer –– 2670

Mr. Lauk –– 2672

Division on the amendment –– 2674

Mr. Cocke –– 2674

Mr. Gibson –– 2674

On the amendment.

Mr. Gibson –– 2677

Mr. Wallace –– 2677

Hon. Mr. McGeer –– 2678

Division on the amendment –– 2678

Hon. Mr. Bennett –– 2679

Mr. Wallace –– 2680

Presenting reports

Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills fourth report.

Mr. Mussallem –– 2681

Forest Service annual report, 1976. Hon. Mr. Waterland –– 2681

Racing Commission annual report, 1976. Hon. Mr. Gardom –– 2681

Corrections branch annual report, 1976. Hon. Mr. Gardom –– 2681

Appendix –– 2682

The House met at 2 p.m.


HON. H.A. CURTIS (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Mr. Speaker, in the House today observing our deliberations are students - eight in number - from Sevenoaks School in Saanich constituency, accompanied by their teacher, Mrs. Robin Wilton.

MR. E.O. BARNES (Vancouver Centre): Mr. Speaker, in the galleries this afternoon is a delegation in support of the anti-Trident motion on the order paper. I'd like to ask the House to join me in welcoming the following people: Mr. Harry Alder, New Westminster Labour Council; Dr. Peter Walford, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility; Alice Coppard, B.C. executive, Vancouver Voice of Women and SPEC; Taiko Miwa, Greenpeace Foundation; Carl Lehan, B.C. Peace Council; Herb Gilbert, Earthling Survival Movement; Martin Osberg and Dr. Linda Green of the Pacific Life Community in Victoria; Madge Clark, Victoria Voice of Women; Bert Ogden, United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union; and, finally, Marg Reilly of the B.C. Inter-Church Committee for World Development.

MS. K.E. SANFORD (Comox): I would like to introduce to the House today Johanna den Hertog, who is the newly appointed legislative and research director for the B.C. Federation of Labour.

Introduction of bills.


On a motion by Hon. Mr. Gardom, Bill 2, Evidence Amendment Act, 1977, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.



Hon. Mr. Nielsen presents a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Skagit Valley Lands Repeal Act.

Bill 61 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to move a motion dealing with the attire of members in the chamber during the summer months.

Leave not granted.


MR. D.G. COCKE: (New Westminster): You don't want the members to wear anything!

HON. W.R. BENNETT (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to move a motion, seconded by the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Leave granted.

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to move that the following message be forwarded to Her Majesty, the Queen:

"The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, Most Gracious Sovereign, upon reconvening the second session of the 31st parliament, we, the members of the Legislative Assembly of the province of British Columbia, beg to offer our sincere congratulations on the 25th anniversary of your reign.

"On the occasion of the Silver Jubilee celebrations the people of British Columbia are proud to join other members of the Commonwealth in paying tribute to Your Majesty's guidance and devotion to duty and to reaffirm our continuing loyalty and respect.

"The citizens of British Columbia recall with great pleasure the visit to our province of Your Majesty, His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and other members of the Royal Family, since your accession to the Throne. We pray that Your Majesty will continue to reign in peace, health and happiness for many years to come."

Motion approved.

MR. W.S. KING (Revelstoke-Slocan): Mr. Speaker, one of the government members said "no."

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, if I had heard a "no, " I would have put the question again.

HON. J.J. HEWITT (Minister of Agriculture): Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to submit the annual report for the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture for the year ended December 31,1976.

Leave granted.

HON. MR. HEWITT: Second report, Mr. Speaker - I beg leave to submit the annual report for the British Columbia Marketing Board for the year ended

[ Page 2654 ]

December 31,1976.

Leave granted.

HON. G.M. McCARTHY (Provincial Secretary): Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to file the report of a commission of inquiry concerning the education and training of practical nurses and related hospital personnel, pursuant to the Public Inquiries Act, and, in addition, the Public Inquiries Act in the matter of A.E. Filmer and G.D. McKinnon.

Leave granted.

Oral questions.


MR. G.V. LAUK (Vancouver Centre): Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy, Transport and Communications. He attended a press conference on April 5 together with the Premier, and at this press conference the Premier said that no considerations were made to the federal government to obtain the $81 million northern railway loan. Sworn testimony from the chairman of B.C. Rail, Mr. Fraine, at the McKenzie commission hearings completely conflicts with this statement of the Premier's. Mr. Fraine said that the consideration for the $81 million loan was a promise by the government to terminate the Dease Lake line.

The question to the minister is: can the minister confirm that Mr. Fraine's testimony was accurate?

HON. J. DAVIS (Minister of Energy, Transport and Communications): Mr. Speaker, this is a matter which is before a provincial royal commission.

MR. C. BARBER (Victoria): Was he telling the truth?

HON. MR. DAVIS: My department has been asked to appear before that commission later this month. I'm sure questions of that nature will be put to us at that time, and we'll endeavour to answer them then.

MR. LAUK: I have a supplementary to the same minister, Mr. Speaker. The B.C. Railway officials testified at the McKenzie commission that up to February, 1977, they were convinced they could have completed the Dease Lake extension for $117 million, the federal contribution negotiated by the former administration. The question is: why did the government therefore accept $81 million and agree to terminate the Dease Lake line?

HON. MR. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, this is another question which I will endeavour to answer before the royal commission later this month.

MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): You're before the highest commission in the province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. LAUK: Mr. Speaker, these questions are to be answered in this House during oral question period. I raise that as a point of order, Mr. Speaker, because of the objections of the minister to answer these questions. He's entitled not to answer, he's entitled to take it as notice, but he's not entitled to hide behind a royal commission.

I have a further supplementary to the minister. Is the minister prepared to commit the government to complete the B.C. Railway Dease Lake extension, to open up the area of the north and provide employment to that area which has the highest unemployment of most areas of the country?

HON. MR. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, speaking as an individual minister, I can't commit the government to that. But I can assure the hon. member that it is the government's intention, the moment the economic prospects of that area justify the extension of the railway, that, in fact, the extension work will commence again.

MR. LAUK: On a supplementary, I don't know what economic justification means. Does that mean 30 per cent unemployment? Mr. Speaker, does this government need 30 per cent unemployment in that area before they'll build a line to create economic expansion?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. member please state his question?

MR. LAUK: I'd ask the question of the Premier, who was also at the same press conference, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you used to be vice-president of the railway?

MR. LAUK: This is to the Premier: in view of the fact that the member for North Peace River (Hon. Mr. Smith) made a public commitment on behalf of the government on June 2 that regardless of any decision by the McKenzie royal commission the government is firmly committed to maintaining and operating the B.C. Rail extension from Fort St. John to Fort Nelson, can the Premier confirm that this is government policy? I

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, the policy of

[ Page 2655 ]

the government was stated quite clearly at the press conference where the government's position on the Dease Lake extension was outlined, when, for the first time, a member of the opposition crashed a press conference of the government. Very bad taste.


HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I would have hoped that member would have listened to the press conference because it's the same member who is asking questions today, but I'll get a further copy of the release of that time to help the member out.

MR. R.E. SKELLY (Alberni): It was about Fort Nelson, not Dease Lake.

MR. LAUK: I have a supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. D. BARRETT (Leader of the Opposition): Don't anybody show up at his press conferences.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. LAUK: On a supplementary, Mr. Speaker, at that press conference the Premier stated that there were no considerations made to the federal government to obtain $81 million in northern railway loans. The sworn testimony of the chairman of the B.C. Railway - which is alleged not to have any political interference involved in its deliberations -was that the consideration for $81 million loan was a promise by the government to terminate the Dease Lake line. Who is telling the truth?

MR. BARRETT: True or false? You don't know who's telling the truth?

MR. SPEAKER: It's a repetition, hon. member, of the question that you asked originally of the Minister of Transport and Communications.

MR. LAUK: Mr. Speaker, is the Premier telling the truth or is Mr. Fraine, a long-standing executive in railways?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BARRETT: Well, who's telling the truth?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. LAUK: Who is telling the truth?

MR. SPEAKER: It's a repetition of a question that was already asked in this question period of another minister.


MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier as well. When he was up in Courtenay, around the end of May, he was questioned by a student and the Premier's Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Gardom) was guilty of what the student called "inflammatory conduct" in suggesting that equalization payments to Quebec should be withheld to make Quebeckers more aware of outside contributions to that province's economy. The Premier replied, Mr. Speaker: "I take no offence at inflammatory statements coming out of Quebec." I'd ask the Premier: do I take that as a confirmation that he considers the Attorney-General's statement out of British Columbia was inflammatory?


MR. BARRETT: Who is telling the truth?

MR. GIBSON: On a supplementary, Mr. Speaker, will the Premier repudiate the suggestion of the Attorney-General that equalization payments to Quebec should be withheld pending certain actions by that province?

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, as the member for North Vancouver-Capilano realizes, or should realize, the province has no ability to withhold equalization payments, as it is part of the capital raised by the federal government, although the money is raised in this province. In my detailed answer to that student - seeing the member is following my speeches so closely - he would understand that this province doesn't have the ability to withhold payments to the province of Quebec.

MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, on a supplementary, I think the Premier misunderstood my question. I asked him if he supported or will repudiate the policy suggestion made by the Attorney-General that equalization payments for the province of Quebec should be withheld pending certain actions by that province. Does he confirm that, support it, or repudiate it?

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, the member for North Vancouver-Capilano is wrong when he says the Attorney-General was stating policy.

MR. GIBSON: He wasn't stating policy? Okay, you repudiate it.


MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to pose a question to the Premier. In the light of the

[ Page 2656 ]

government's announcement on June 10 that a prices review and monitoring board would be set up to replace the federal Anti-Inflation Board, I'd like the Premier to tell the House whether or not his government has been informed of the date at which the federal government proposes to withdraw controls federally.

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to correct the member for Oak Bay. The government is not setting up the price review board to replace the Anti-Inflation Board, but to further protect the people of the province during the period in which it may be phased out by the government of Canada. The fact that we were not able to develop or announce an official starting date was because we do not know at this time what the plans of the federal government are for the termination or the phase-out of the programme.

MR. WALLACE: I'm very pleased to have the correction, Mr. Speaker. In regard to whatever mechanism is set up provincially, I wonder if the Premier could also tell us whether with regard to wage increases, and in view of the fact that it has been stated there will be no new legislation brought before the House in regard to provincial controls, there will be a mechanism of appeal for wage-earners and retailers when it is considered that price increases which have been introduced are "unwarranted, " to use the government's word.

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, this is a price monitoring board that's been announced - a price monitoring board.

MR. WALLACE: On a supplementary, Mr. Speaker, that leads us to the crux of the matter. If it is only a monitoring board, can the minister confirm that in fact there will be no power whatever in the government's review or monitoring of prices to roll back prices or wages or to nullify collective agreements?

HON. MR. BENNETT: As the member knows, Mr. Speaker, this House has legislation under the anti-inflation programme which allows the government, for the first time, legally to freeze prices in British Columbia. That legislation and that authority are with us to the end of the programme. As the member knows, this price-monitoring agency was set up to be in effect to the end of what was the original end of the anti-inflation programme.

MR. WALLACE: A final supplementary: can I then ask the Premier if, in fact, the only option he's announcing is the option to freeze wages and prices, rather than have the mechanism whereby agreements can be rolled back?

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, the member's wrong again. It has nothing to do with wages.



MR. D.D. STUPICH (Nanaimo): A question of the Premier: has the government received any money under the northern railway agreement from the federal government?

HON. MR. BENNETT: I'll take that as notice.

MR. BARRETT: You know all the details. Don't you know what's going on in the economy? Just $4 million bucks? Aren't you on the Treasury Board? And you don't know?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. STUPICH: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to be clear as to exactly what the Premier is taking as notice. He did understand the question and he doesn't know at this point whether or not the money has been received. Is that... ?

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I took the question as notice.


MR. LAUK: A question for the Premier, Mr. Speaker: has the government received a request from the chairman, Mr. Justice McKenzie, of the McKenzie commission to continue the operation of the Railwest plant, and has the government decided to comply with this request?

HON. MR. BENNETT: To this date, I have not received an official request.

MR. LAUK: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier: on what date did the B.C. Railway board make the decision to abandon the Railwest boxcar plant and was the Minister of Economic Development present at this meeting, or was the Premier?

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, the member must know that I'm not a member of the board of directors of the B.C. Rail, and, as such, I am not privy to their meetings or present at their meetings at any time.

MR. LAUK: To the Premier, Mr. Speaker: B.C. Rail officials have said that they will be leasing boxcars. Where are these cars manufactured if they're

[ Page 2657 ]

intending to lease them and from whom are they being leased? Will the Premier table the minutes of the BCR board in dealing with all Railwest matters, so that this Legislature can deal with them?

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I'll take the question as notice for the Minister of Economic Development.

MR. STUPICH: Mr. Speaker, some of the questions are being asked of the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Wolfe) and the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Phillips) . I wonder if the Premier could tell us when we might be graced with the presence of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, they'll be here during the session. The Minister of Economic Development is at a meeting - which I attended this morning - with the foreign minister from the government of Japan. He is attending meetings with the Minister of External Affairs, the Hon. Don Jamieson, which are very important meetings to the future of British Columbia. I'm sure that that member would not want such important meetings to this province not to take place. Those ministers will be here to take their place in the House, but from time to time they will be involved in very important meetings such as this.

AN HON. MEMBER: You're letting them talk to somebody important from another country?

MR. GIBSON: I would ask leave to make a motion for the adjournment of the House under standing order 35, to debate a matter of urgent and definite public importance.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, hon. member. Would you state the matter?



MR. GIBSON: In a press release dated June 6, the Ministry of the Environment announced a programme of attack on Eurasian milfoil weed in the Okanagan involving, among other things, the deployment of 2, 4-D herbicide in Okanagan and Skaha Lakes, as well as others in the Okanagan system. Most of these lakes are used for both domestic water and irrigation purposes. The B.C. Medical Association, individual health officers and many Okanagan groups have made vigorous protests against these plans because of dangers to public health. The preferred compound, Aqua-Kleen, has already been tested in the lake system. The Aqua-Kleen label includes a caution that the weed killer must not be applied to waters used for irrigation or domestic water supply.

The federal Pest Products Control Act regulations 44 (l) state: "No product shall be used contrary to label instructions." In view of the minister's press release and the complex technical and other questions involved, this matter should be urgently debated by the Legislature before further action is taken.

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. member, there are two immediate thoughts that come to my mind as I read your request for adjournment of the House. The first is that you base your argument on a press release, which is perhaps not necessarily the type of document that we can allow an emergency debate on.

But the other, and perhaps more important point, is that the matter you refer to would appear to me to be a matter which comes under the ordinary administration of the minister in performing his duties as Minister of the Environment. Therefore it would appear that there is not a well-founded basis for your request for a motion of urgent debate at this time. However, I'll take the matter under advisement and consider it more fully during the remainder of this afternoon and will get back to the House with a decision before the 6 o'clock adjournment.

MR. BARRETT: The reason for an emergency debate is to deal with a subject that comes to the immediate attention of the House. It has been a practice by yourself, Mr. Speaker, to accept these motions and then defer your decision on them while time goes by. Although I'm sure that you prefer the option of having more time to study it, the purpose and the intensity of emergency debates is to have a ruling in the House at the time they're raised. In this instance, or in future instances, if we establish a pattern that hours go by before a ruling is given to the House, then the hours that go by may indeed be the hours that allow the subject matter to be debated in this House. They go by the board and the action takes place. I think it's a mistake to fall into the pattern of delaying a decision on emergency debates to the end of the day's sitting.

MR. SPEAKER: I appreciate the comments of the Leader of the Opposition, but I would like to draw to his attention the fact that in reading decisions not only of this House but of many other jurisdictions, it is in fact a matter of practice in many jurisdictions to take a matter raised under standing order 35, or a similar standing order which requires urgent public debate, under advisement, particularly where no advance notice has been given to the House or to the Speaker. In this case I am following a practice that doesn't set a precedent, but it is one that I think is well advised where there has been no advance notice. It certainly doesn't prejudice the position of the

[ Page 2658 ]

member who wishes to move the motion. As I have said, I will be back to the House with a report on his request for this motion as soon as possible.

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to point out that there is no requirement for notice to the Speaker or the House before an emergency motion. It wouldn't be an emergency motion if there was notice before it.

MR. SPEAKER: There are practices of the House and traditions.

MR. BARRETT: Well, make a ruling!

Orders of the day.

HON. G.B. GARDOM (Attorney-General): Mr. Speaker, I ask leave of the House to proceed to public bills and orders.

Leave granted.

HON. MR. GARDOM: Mr. Speaker, second reading of Bill 33.


HON. P.L. McGEER (Minister of Education): Mr. Speaker, we've been waiting 105 years for this day. I know that the members. of this House will seek swift passage of this bill, despite its somewhat tardy introduction. I say that because of the statements which leading members of this House have had to make with regard to the support for independent schools.

Just a couple of months ago the leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. Gibson) was asking in question period in a most solicitous way where the funds were for support of independent schools this year. I explained to him at that time, Mr. Speaker, that it was necessary first for the Legislature to do its job in providing a vehicle through which these funds could be voted. So this vehicle is up for debate today, and that member will have his opportunity soon to give his enthusiastic support.

I know the leader of the Conservative Party (Mr. Wallace) too, who also was anxiously questioning about the support of independent schools, will be taking his place urging the rapid passage.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we come to the official opposition, and here the situation is a little less clear. But I want you to know that what the government is doing is following through on the policies the Leader of the Opposition enunciated during the election campaign. During the election campaign, on November 25,1975 - that was near the peak of the electioneering - the Leader of the Opposition said.

"It is our belief that it is the government's responsibility to provide basic services to all children regardless of where these children are being educated." He promised action would be forthcoming on so-called basic services to all children, including those in independent schools. Mr. Speaker, this bill provides those basic services.

Now we've got some different statements being made from the official opposition and I wonder just where the truth lies when it's unmasked by a bill or when the Leader of the Opposition makes his statements in the height of an election campaign. We'll have an opportunity to learn of the sincerity of the NDP during debate of this bill.

MR. A.B. MACDONALD (Vancouver East): It's just a political speech.

HON. MR. McGEER: No. The former Attorney-General will be interested because he's been such a champion of human rights in his time here in the Legislature, a champion of the declaration in Article 26, the Declaration of Human Rights, specified in the United Nations, to which Canada subscribes: "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children." It's part of the United Nations Charter; Canada subscribes to that. Mr. Speaker, until this time that declaration was backed up in every province in Canada by the willingness of the government to fund these independent schools. Only in British Columbia has discrimination been practised, contrary to the spirit of that declaration of human rights sponsored by the United Nations and supported by our country.

Parents in this province have set up schools outside the school system supported by our universal taxation system. These schools have adhered to the basic subject matter taught in our public schools, but hitherto they have received no recognition of this in a financial way except for the provision of textbooks and busing. This is hardly, Mr. Speaker, meeting the basic service criteria so sincerely stated by the Leader of the Opposition during his election campaign.

The government is moving to inaugurate a careful plan of financial assistance to independent schools, and its purpose is to remove the discrimination which has characterized our approach to the financing of education for the first 105 years of this province's existence.

So by the introduction of this Act today, we're removing this discriminatory practice. I would think no one, Mt. Speaker, should be more proud of this move than the former Attorney-General of the province, who prides himself on his dedication to equality, to opportunity and to human rights in every sense of the word.

This Act will provide independent schools with the

[ Page 2659 ]

opportunity for funding at three levels of support. They're spelled out in the bill: Group 1 classification is for non-instructional support; Group 2 classification, a higher level of financial aid, provides instructional support; Group 3, still higher, provides for local support grants. Our requirements must be met by the independent school at each preceding level before the independent school authority may apply for the next higher level of support.

An independent school will be able to apply, therefore, for assistance under this new Act at each of these levels in addition to the assistance it may now be receiving under the Public Schools Act for busing and textbooks. Of course, the independent school is under no obligation to apply. At this stage we really cannot determine how many of the 150 or so independent schools who are eligible for support will actually apply, nor can we tell what level of support they shall be seeking.

If they are to apply, they must meet three basic requirements. The first condition requires that the philosophy of the school must not promote or foster racial or ethnic superiority, religious intolerance or persecution, or social change through violent action. Clearly, such philosophies are counter-productive to the public good of the province.


HON. MR. McGEER: The leader of the Liberal Party asked: "What about Social Credit?" Well, I don't know the leader of the Liberal Party's ideas of what constitutes public good in this province. But I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that in the last two years a lot of public good has come out of Social Credit in British Columbia.


HON. MR. McGEER: I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the public of British Columbia didn't need to go to independent schools to discover that.

But clearly, philosophies of that kind are counter to the public good and are sufficient to disqualify that school - if any such exist in British Columbia -from receiving public support.

The second requirement is that the school's buildings be adequate.

The third is that the school has been in operation for at least five years. I've heard some extravagant statements by members of. the opposition that suddenly schools will mushroom all over British Columbia, that the costs will run out of hand. The former Minister of Education, herself once a public school teacher - they are opposed to this bill, we understand - said that this was a "sleeping tiger, " as though suddenly schools would mushroom tomorrow all over the province outside the system and deprive all these public school teachers of their livelihood. What nonsense, Mr. Speaker! What utter nonsense! If she had studied the bill, she would realize that this is utter nonsense. But I know that if she hasn't studied the bill, she's heard this now; so that sleeping tiger -which is really rather toothless - can be put to rest.

Now about the levels of funding. The first level of funding - non-instructional support - is designed to cover the operating costs in the non-teaching area. In our public schools this is about 20 per cent of the total operating cost.

The second level of funding is for instructional support. In our public school system, of course, this pays for the salaries of our teachers. That's what this second level of support for the independent schools is designed to do. The requirements a school must meet to achieve this second level of funding are to follow the required curriculum; to have teacher certification to take place; and to have an evaluation of the progress of that teaching programme.

The third level of support is the local grant. This grant will permit the locally elected school board to authorize the provincial government to pay a percentage of the per-pupil operating cost of the independent school if they've received Group 2 classification. The intention of this level of support is to promote and improve upon something which already exists in our school system - that is, a spirit of good feeling and co-operation between the independent schools and the public school system.

The suggestion has been made that this bill will be divisive but, Mr. Speaker, what else is that doing but actively attempting to promote division - a division that doesn't exist? If you examine the operation of these independent schools around the province you find, by and large, a very happy and co-operative arrangement. They share in busing. Very often the independent school takes the public school student who, for one reason or another, is having difficulty adjusting. They participate with each other in sports and other activities. I find no evidence, Mr. Speaker, of ill will between the independent schools and the public schools and I know that this bill is going to promote even better will in the future.

I resent, Mr. Speaker, those who are attempting to create divisiveness in a happy system for political purposes, because they have to explain where the division is now, where the problems are now. Are there too many in independent schools? If more will create a problem that doesn't now exist, how many more should be there in the independent schools before the division begins? Where are the problems, Mr. Speaker? Are they real, or are they just being imagined for political purposes?

Now it may be asked, Mr. Speaker, will all independent schools be required to join the scheme? The answer to that question is no, an independent school may refuse all aid from government. It may

[ Page 2660 ]

choose to continue receiving aid, if it does so now under the Public Schools Act, for busing and for books, or it may choose to participate in any of the levels of funding that will be provided by Bill 33.

It has been suggested, Mr. Speaker, by some of the more fanatical opponents of this bill that because some independent schools enroll people from outside British Columbia, British Columbia taxpayers will be paying for the education of children from other parts of the world. They haven't read the Act, Mr. Speaker. It's not a very long bill, it's easy to understand, and it specifically spells out that a requirement for funding and for support for a pupil is this residency in British Columbia.

Some have wondered whether the independent schools would be required to provide the same quality of education as we find in our public school system. The answer to that question is yes, Mr. Speaker. The inspector of public schools, or the inspector of independent schools, will be charged within the Act with the responsibility for approving all applications for support. He'll have the power to establish external evaluation committees that will examine the curriculum and the performance of independent schools which are applying for aid. All schools receiving instructional support will be required to participate in the core curriculum, in the learning assessment programme, and, Mr. Speaker, in any testing programme established by the local school board of the area.

Now the question has been asked, Mr. Speaker: will independent schools applying for support be fully funded? The answer to that question is no. It's not the intention of the government to provide 100 per cent support. There will still be that extra advantage provided to the public schools of this province. We don't know yet what the exact dollar amount will be for each level of support, but it's not the intention of the government to fund the independent schools in a fashion which is richer than the funding which goes to the public schools. We will insist that equivalent academic standards be met; that equivalent testing and curriculum, be applied and given in these independent schools, so we will be assured of their academic performance and we will be assured that the financial level of support is remaining within what we fund for our public schools.

We estimate that there are perhaps 150 independent schools out of the something like 1,800 public schools in the province. It's a small percentage of the total. There are about 20,000 students in the independent school system as opposed to about 540,000 in the public school system. In quantitative terms the numbers are small: less than 4 per cent of the total. But, Mr. Speaker, it costs the taxpayers of British Columbia approximately $1,500 per student for education in the primary and secondary system per year, so those who send their children to independent schools are saving the taxpayers of British Columbia over $30 million annually in operating costs. So this small percentage of the people in the province of British Columbia are saving the taxpayers something between $35 million and $40 million a year.

So what this bill does, Mr. Speaker, is that it removes this kind of discrimination. This is what the people are saving us, and what are they getting in return? They're getting nothing except a little bit of busing, a few textbooks and a word of encouragement from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) during election campaigns - only during election campaigns.

Mr. Speaker, that's not good enough. This bill is not only sound economic policy, as you can see, because to have these schools disappear would throw this extra $35 million or $40 million burden on the taxpayers of British Columbia. I can assure the opposition that the cost of this bill will be nowhere near what the people who send their youngsters to independent schools are saving the public of British Columbia.

I hear again and again from the opposition the snobby suggestion that people who go to independent schools are somehow wealthy. Yet if you examine these schools, they come from the low-income and middle-income groups, and it's the low-income people and the middle-income people who are paying this statutory.... The NDP, in their pious support of the little man, are discriminating against the little man in the matter of his education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

HON. MR. McGEER: This is what Social Credit always does, Mr. Speaker. It doesn't talk about supporting the little man; it does something about it.

So this is a bill which is sound economic policy, putting money where it is required. It's sound educational policy, providing this alternative system with the benefits it's already brought British Columbia, and it's sound philosophy based on human rights and the United Nations Charter. Mr. Speaker, it isn't very often that a bill comes before this House -which we've been waiting for so long to have in this province - which combines economic philosophy, educational performance and human rights. That's what this bill does, Mr. Speaker, and I'm proud to move second reading.

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his remarks. I have a couple of personal comments to make about them and some earlier remarks, and then I have some other remarks to make addressed to some of his statements.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I regret the course he chose to follow in introducing this bill. He couldn't

[ Page 2661 ]

refrain from digging around with a little bit of politics in the discussion of this very important matter. Once he went into the area of politics, of course, he became a little bit inconsistent and somewhat bordering on being hypocritical. The very debate that we hoped would be avoided was entered into by this spokesperson for the new Social Credit Party with the vigour and gusto with which he used to deliver that position when he was a Liberal. I remember the vituperative attacks that he gave to the former Social Credit administration, based on his point of view, as to their reticence in following his particular line of thinking.

First, we must deal with the twists that that member is skilled at, considering his own political performance in history. The New Democratic Party did indeed pledge that there was a need for services to the children attending independent schools and I make absolutely no apology for that. We followed through on that in the area of free textbooks, human resources and health services and the educational department information services and material. There had been the absurd situation under the former Social Credit administration under transportation, that children going to separate schools were being bypassed by the public school bus and, of course, that had to be eliminated as well.

But at no time has our party ever made a commitment that there will be a cash transfer to separate schools. I made that clear time after time after time, and for this member to leave the twisted impression that somehow that had indeed been the commitment of our party is to take this debate into the political arena which this debate needs to be out of more than any other.

I find it interesting, too, that that member makes such a defence of the Declaration of Human Rights -the declaration of the rights of individuals - when in this very House, the Liberal leader (Mr. Gibson) and the Conservative leader (Mr. Wallace) can't even get on the agricultural committee. To wrap the mantle of such a righteous human rights declaration onto the role of the independent schools or of the separate schools in this Province by saying that he is a champion of free speech and free participation, when he has never yet got out publicly and lamented the fact this his own political group won't let the leaders of two other political parties go on a committee of this House, borders on hypocrisy, Mr. Speaker. I wouldn't come right out and say it's hypocritical, but I think it borders on hypocrisy. The declaration of human rights when it serves the minister's purpose.... But when a declaration of human rights is applicable to actions in this House, that's another thing.

The other personal comment I wish to make - and I'm glad the minister's staying in the House - is related to his response to my call for a referendum.

Perhaps the voice that I heard on the radio clip, Mr. Chairman, was incorrect. Perhaps the radio broadcast people had made a mistake in identifying the voice that attributed the words to that minister. The minister is alleged to have said on the radio broadcast that I heard - and I did hear the voice; I was unable to identify it so perhaps an apology is not due, but perhaps he can blame it on the press - that the Leader of the Opposition is prejudiced.

Now I find that a remarkable statement, and perhaps if the minister would indicate to me that he was misquoted and that he did not say that I was prejudiced, then I will not push the matter any further. If the minister would indicate to me and to the House that he did not allege that I was prejudiced, I would not push the matter further. However, his silence indicates that he indeed indulged in that particular definition of a position around a referendum through a personal attack, unnecessarily, upon myself, by saying to me and to the public of this province that I was prejudiced. If you care to deny that you made the statement or apologize for it, I won't carry it any further. Do you care to apologize for that?

Well, Mr. Speaker, he was prepared to go to the lengths of name-calling on this debate by calling the Leader of the Opposition prejudiced for having an opinion that was contrary to his. And rather than dealing with the substance of the proposal I made, he made a personal attack for which, had it taken place in this House, he would have been, by rule of this House, ordered to apologize. I feel highly insulted and incensed that he has not the decency to withdraw that remark in relation to me and the placing of my acts and true conscience as a human being. To suggest, sir, that I am prejudiced, is to deny the fact of my own political record and my own personal accumulation of experience in life. I happen to have benefited - yes, enjoyed - the experience of going to a sectarian school for six years. At no time have I repudiated that experience. On the contrary, even though it was a sectarian school that was different from the religion into which I was born, it is one that I have praised on numerous occasions publicly. At no time have I ever given any indication by vote, deed or speech, through you, Mr. Speaker, that I have not desired to accept the point of view of all human beings, regardless of their station of birth, race, creed or faith. The very choice of the party that I belong to and its demonstration of its commitment to civil liberties and human rights attests to that position further, Mr. Speaker.

Contrary to the Liberal Party, which ordered the Japanese out of this province, my party stood up against that prejudiced move. Contrary to the emotional moves in the House of Commons denying civil liberties to the people of this country through the War Measures Act, my party voted against that.

[ Page 2662 ]

And when the Jehovah's Witnesses were pressed by a Union Nationale administration in the province of Quebec, it was a leading socialist lawyer who fought their case and won their case on behalf of the Jehovah's Witnesses in this country.

If I rise to any level of anger, Mr. Speaker, it is because I truly feel a sense of insensitive attack by that minister around this issue on me personally. I hoped he would have had the decency to withdraw that.

Nonetheless, Mr. Speaker, I personally will make that as a measure of the sincerity of that minister's position. I don't care how anyone else judges it in this province. I personally have made that a measure of his sincerity around a position on this issue. The fact that he would not apologize, the fact that he would stoop to that kind of name-calling around an issue as important as this is a measure that the public of this province has to make upon him. Today he gave the impression that everybody who came before him in this chamber was not broad-minded. By saying that 105 years had gone by without this particular point of view prevailing in this Legislature, he went on to indicate, through words, that everybody who had preceded had been somehow less than honourable in being fair related to human rights. I find that a post-fact judgment on the honourable people who have been in this House, regardless of political party. One of them was the former Premier, W.A.C. Bennett, who took the position clearly and in good conscience. That was a matter that was public knowledge. For the minister to say that the former Premier and other colleagues around him were not being fair, or were somehow being prejudiced, is an absurd situation.

The former Premier said: "All around the world today the question is integration or segregation." He held this opinion clearly and openly, and he was entitled to it. "If the people want segregation, that is their right, but the government's policy is integration." Are you saying, sir, that the former Premier, in making these remarks, was also a prejudiced person?

What we're discussing today is not a simple matter of economics; not a simple matter of strong, passionate viewpoints around a matter of politics. What we are discussing today is a matter that in the past, at the present, and in the future, will be the subject of a hopeful, mature discussion in this province.

Two months ago, when I gave that press release, I said that years ago in this province even debating this issue would have led to traditional emotional rhetoric. I felt that this province was now calm, mature and rational enough to make this decision on a more mature, rational and logical basis than through insults. I still hold that view. I still believe that. I still believe that despite the minister's point of view that anyone who opposes him is prejudiced, there are people who do have strong feelings against this bill, as well as those who have strong feelings for it.

This is not just another money bill. This is a bill dealing with fundamental change in the social structure of this province. It is true that we have had, generally, in comparison with other jurisdictions, peace and tranquillity, on the whole, between religious groups and groups with different ethnic backgrounds. It has not always been so in this province and, perhaps in the future, we will have outbreaks that cause great concern and alarm among all of us, regardless of our creed, our race or our own political affiliation.

The fact is that when you make a dramatic change in the social structure of any community, if it is the will of the government to pursue that dramatic change, it should take this kind of issue directly to every single community in this province and every single person in this province and have the fullest, widest possible debate on this issue.

MR. J.J. KEMPF (Omineca): We did that in 1975.

MR. BARRETT: If you think that by coming back after two months' holiday from this House and cramming this bill through will somehow end the debate, or placate or satisfy all citizens who have a point of view on this issue ' you are sorely mistaken. What is really at battle here today is not just the issue itself, but the method of bringing this issue to public focus and, in fact, into being.

You have politically taken this issue as a political device, given a political speech today, and intend to twist political statements around this issue which, of all the issues I've dealt with in this House, should be outside a narrow, partisan, political view.

There are rare occasions in the legislative workings of us human beings that present us with this opportunity of saying to the total community: "Here is a proposition that there are points of view about, that once changed will alter a philosophy that has indeed been in place for 105 years." Right or wrong, the point is that the best decision made regarding that kind of dramatic change is made when the total opportunity has taken place in this province for every citizen to participate in the right of choice. Yes, the right of choice; this is a matter of right of choice. It is a matter for every citizen of this province to say that they too wish to participate in the right of choice as to what kind of educational system will be available and what options will be available.

You talk about the United Nations declaration. The United Nations declaration applies to all the people, and in this instance all the people of this province. We are attempting to make a declaration to participate in a decision that will indeed affect the social structure of this province. Perhaps the effect

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will be positive; hopefully, it will not be negative. But to ensure the success of any change as dramatic as this change, the maximum participation by every citizen should take place through a referendum so that all points of view can be heard -throughout this province.

I find it almost as distasteful as a political trick that the first item on the agenda after a two-month holiday is an item that this government wishes to push through as quickly as possible. In your haste you may indeed be not answering questions, or even raising the kind of bitterness that we hope would have been put aside many years ago in the kind of whispered comments that we all know exist around an issue like this.

Mr. Speaker, I say to you and I say to all the citizens of this province that there is absolutely nothing to fear from a wide-ranging public debate on this issue. The government has indicated that it wishes to pursue the matter in any event, and that money will not be in place for 18 months in any event. So the government and the people of this province can only be better served in any event by holding off and letting the total community participate in this decision in a mature and thoughtful way.

What is wrong with a referendum? What is wrong with testing opinions and attitudes and - yes, indeed - commitments of the citizens of this province? Absolutely nothing. I have infinite faith in the people of this province to have some input and some wisdom and transpose that into social action in an electoral choice that's in front of them, I'm not afraid of democracy. I'm not afraid of facing people with their responsibility and their rights of freedom of choice to make a decision around this issue by going around this province and giving people - yes, in your party, and this party, and all the constituencies of this province - an opportunity to influence, one way or another, the direction of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot do otherwise but urge the government to hoist this bill for a while, take it to the people, show that they are an open government and let the people have a voice. Let the people have a right of freedom of choice; let freedom have its full sway in this province; let people determine for themselves where they want their tax moneys to go, how they should be spent on an item like this in terms of the basic social structure of this province. Whatever the people decide, that is the course we can follow in terms of a democratic structure.

Mr. Speaker, because of that, and because of the government's own reticence, fear and unwillingness to participate over a period of time in a rational public debate so that people have the right and freedom of choice, I move that the word "now" be struck out in this motion, and the words "six months hence" be added.

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, the amendment to the motion which is before us which is being proposed by the hon. Leader of the Opposition, which would remove the word "now" and in its place add the words "six months hence, " is in order as far as an amendment is concerned. It takes the place of the main motion, as you know, until it is disposed of and it is therefore the motion that we will debate.

I would say this, prior to accepting anyone or recognizing them in debate: the debate has to be confined at this point to the reason why the matter before us should be hoisted for six months. In other words, it's not the free-flowing debate that will take place in a second reading, but it is a definite matter that can be debated at this time and the remarks should be confined to the reasons for reading the bill six months hence.

MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, along with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) , I was disappointed in that once-Liberal member, then Liberal leader, then Liberal member, then Socred member-minister - and, yes, I missed out the Independent. Mr. Speaker, the minister has shown signs of being a chameleon. He certainly showed signs of being a political chameleon today by turning what should be a thoughtful discussion of a very significant and important matter into a political speech on the floor of the House, thereby showing his total lack of real concern over the thrust or the direction of things to come in this particular issue.

Mr. Speaker, he said that we have been waiting 105 years for this day. What we're suggesting, Mr. Speaker, particularly when the minister indicated that there won't be any funding till 1978 - which means that there won't be any funding for likely 12 or 14 months.... But it strikes me that waiting a few days, a few weeks and getting the public involved in this very serious matter is not too much to ask.

Mr. Speaker, the people want to know some answers. The people want to know those answers before, not after, the legislation has been approved, and it strikes me that the people are not going to know the answers that they seek if the minister already plays politics with this issue. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that we should pity the community and pity those directly involved in the education process - be it independent, be it private, be it secular or be it public. This kind of an approach can almost suggest that one could predict that he will continue to play politics with the matter after the bill has been in force.

Mr. Speaker, there are many ways that the government can open this question up. Ask questions. There is no indication whatsoever that the government would be prepared to put it before the Health, Education and Human Resources committee. As a matter of fact there is no indication at all that

[ Page 2664 ]

that committee will ever be called. This freedom-fighting government that talked in terms of all of the freedoms that there were going to open up when they became government has shown no signs of letting freedom reign. I say, Mr. Speaker, that this is an opportunity for them, because it is a significant change and one that is so deep that people should have an opportunity....

HON. J.R. CHABOT (Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources): Like Panco Poultry.

MR. COCKE: You know, Mr. Speaker, I'm just going to depart from this little message that I'm trying to put across. Now the Minister of Mines says "like Panco Poultry." You know, his depth cannot even be read by a micrometer. He is so shallow, Mr. Speaker, that there would be no way of perceiving his depth. Not in science today have we anything that could find that depth. Even with the metric system, Mr. Speaker, we fail.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe in a vacuum tube. (Laughter.)

MR. COCKE: Does this indicate the depth of thinking that's gone into this whole question? I suspect that it does. The government, I believe, can do a better job if they'll stop downgrading the education community. The minister did it again today. He downgraded the Teacher's Federation; he said that all they're worrying about is their own tenure.

What rubbish! These are people who spend their entire life in education. Should we tear them apart when they have no defence? Why not go out there, Mr. Minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, talk to them and let them have some input into this question? Let's talk to parents; let's talk to school trustees.

You know, I didn't notice the minister tearing strips off the school trustees, but they took a position at their recent convention. The minister didn't allude to that. These are people directly involved in education. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that the minister is afraid to debate, afraid of his position, maybe, or just afraid, period, to take a few months out, let freedom reign with respect to this bill and let people have some input.

MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): If you lose it, you can change political parties. There's nothing to it.

MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, the minister has absolute confidence at this time. The leader ... or the Liberal ... or at least, the minister - whatever he happens to be this moment - has confidence ...

AN HON. MEMBER: It's hard to keep up with!

MR. COCKE: ... that he will be able to ram this through the House. Thirty-four votes - no problem at all. No problem - 35, 36, who knows?

But, Mr. Speaker, why did the minister react so negatively? Not only that, his equal partner - the Premier - reacted virtually as negatively when we asked that this question be discussed. The reason that we waited 105 years for this situation to occur is because there are so many doubts in people's minds. Now if the government is confident that they can allay those fears without ramrodding like they're doing, then I say to you, Mr. Speaker, they should have courage enough to get up and allay those fears. Do a job; put some committees to work; give the people an opportunity. And if you have real courage, give them an opportunity to vote on the issue.

There are so many things that people are asking about. Separate school people are asking me a question. They are saying that bill has more "mays" in it than 15 years of calendars. That bill has more "mays" when it comes to anything that the government might do. There are no commitments there, which makes it a little political, if you don't mind my saying so, Mr. Leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. Gibson) .

I notice, on the other hand, however, there are , 'musts" when it goes the other way - when it's what the private schools have to do, et cetera, et cetera. So I suspect that there are people who would like some input into this thing before it gets off the ground. There are people on both sides of the issue. There are people who ask the question: What about the elitist aspect of this bill? What about the fact that those schools that are very wealthy are the ones that are easiest to fund?

There is a Catch-22, they say. The Catch-22 is those lean and hungry private schools, particularly the religious schools that have been worked for years by some groups. It is those that are going to have some great difficulty.

So, Mr. Speaker, there are many sides to this issue. We ask this government to be thoughtful; we ask the backbenchers to be thoughtful. We ask them to say: "Let's give freedom an opportunity to really work in this province." This present government that used to accuse the former government that shall go unnamed of asking for broad, sweeping powers has suddenly become the mastermind of creating a new universe.

It's time they came to their senses. They had real difficulty getting back to the House by June 13, imagine! We broke for an Easter recess on April 6 and finally got back here on June 13. That's a nice long break. But, Mr. Speaker, it just shows that they would way rather reign from their cabinet than get things out in public debate.

So I would ask people to take into consideration a group that's asking questions right now - the Teachers' Federation that the minister just finished

[ Page 2665 ]

lambasting. I can't understand why one would lambaste one's own constituency; maybe the minister feels it's a good political thing to do. But he has to work with those people, unless he resigns. There are many who would go on some party if that occurred. But, Mr. Speaker, instead of lambasting them, why not listen to them? They're out there looking for facts. As a matter of fact, just recently they acquired the services of Canadian Facts, a polling service - and a polling service, incidentally, that has a pretty good reputation.

AN HON. MEMBER: I wish I could afford them.

MR. COCKE: And so do we.

Mr. Speaker, the figures on this particular poll are going to be made public if they are not already public now. There's no point in me going through the poll or what it says, but it does say that a number of people were contacted. It tells me in question after question after question that what is out there is confusion.

The Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. McClelland) , I'm sure in jest, suggested that the referendum was taken on December 11,1975.


MR. COCKE: Oh, yes. If you noticed the vote at that time, Mr. Minister without peer, it's about the same as the vote in 1972, except that you collared a bunch of colleagues there to jump across the floor. So you really didn't make that much of a victory. As a matter of fact, the percentage vote was virtually the same if not a little bit better in 1975 than it was in 1972. Why don't you go and check the facts? But that minister has never seen fit to check the facts yet, so I'm not too optimistic that he's going to apply himself at this late stage in his political life.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to everyone to have a look at what people are saying all across the province. This was a poll done across the province. It suggests to me that there's confusion, that they really don't know what the government is doing. There are ifs, ands and buts about this that I say to you would demand that you do a better job about informing and that you do a better job in getting people reacting, interacting and giving an opportunity for people to show what their decisions would be.


MR. COCKE: Teachers Federation. It was done by a polling company by the name of Canadian Facts, and they're a very prestigious firm. They don't Mickey Mouse around with polls. As I said, I don't want to take the time of the House ... I thought at first I would. But I think everybody has access to it. If they don't, the press will have access to this information, and I think it's important that people get the understanding of just exactly what people are saying and people are thinking and how people are feeling, because it's obvious to me that they need some help in understanding. The government is not giving them that help.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the government now show signs of really being democratic, show signs of really taking an interest in getting people's response by voting with the Leader of the Opposition and those of us on this side who are in favour of hoisting this bill for six months and giving an opportunity for that interaction to take place.

MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, I'll be very brief at this stage of the bill. The strict language of the amendment we are considering is that the bill should be hoisted for six months. In moving that amendment, the Leader of the Opposition stated that funds would not become available under the terms of this bill to independent schools for about 18 months. Now if that is indeed the case, then one could not well in logic object to a six-month hoist.

Mr. Minister, when I say funds applied.... I realize they're paid a fiscal year later, but when does the time of application start? What I'm asking the minister to do - and I believe he has a chance again to speak on this amendment, Mr. Speaker - is to confirm to the House that under this bill and under the intentions of the government, the time of application of the funds starts at the beginning of the next school year if it passes and if that is the case, Mr. Speaker. I think the minister should put that on the record in this debate.

HON. MR. McGEER: It's on the record, but I'll put it on the record again.

MR. GIBSON: Thank you, Mr. Minister. If that is the case, I can't support a six-month hoist, because as so many speakers have said, this question has been debated for 105 years. It's gone around the mulberry bush many times in this province. I don't want to see the independent school system, in my opinion, go one more year in the inequitable financial circumstances that have been perpetrated upon them for that 105 years.

I would not in any way object to, and in fact I would like to see, a study of this particular bill, but a study done quickly and not in such a way as to make it impossible for it to take effect from the beginning of the next school year. I think that could be done by, say, 30 days in the Health, Education and Human Resources committee.

Then there would be a chance to canvass the questions as raised by the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Cocke) with respect to the poll taken by the BCTF, which I think did reveal a great

[ Page 2666 ]

deal of confusion in the public mind on this issue and far from unanimous support. It would give time to canvass the official views of the BCTF itself, which I happen to know has studied this issue very carefully and has a well-thought-out position. It is not one with which I personally happen to agree, but it is a well-researched and well-thought-out position and there should be an opportunity for members of this Legislature, or at least a committee of this Legislature, to hear representations in that regard.

The BCSTA has pronounced itself in convention as being against this concept. The press report that I saw suggested that their reticence related largely to financial concerns, but nevertheless, they too might wish to put forward further arguments.

So I would welcome a commitment by the minister to not proceed with second reading now, but rather to refer the subject matter to a committee of the House to hold hearings for 30 days. I say refer the subject matter, Mr. Speaker, rather than the bill itself, to committee because referring the bill to committee after second reading no longer admits of major changes, and I know that the representations that, for example, the BCTF would wish to make - I don't want to put words in their mouth - which I suspect they would wish to make would relate to major changes. So now, at the second reading stage, is the correct time to refer it.

Just one other comment before I sit down, and that is on the comment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) on the suitability for this particular issue for a referendum in the province. I am a believer in referenda and plebiscites, Mr. Speaker, but I personally don't feel that this bill is suitable for that process because I don't believe that the public views are that strong or that well focused on it at the moment and I don't think that the referendum is a political instrument that is well suited to the protection of minority rights. I think in this particular case we are talking about the protection of minority rights. But that's just my point of view.

We should have in this province a law that allows the citizens of this province, when they feel so inclined on any subject - when they feel sufficiently strongly - by a certain number of signatures to force a referendum on any piece of legislation. That would be a good democratic instrument. Unfortunately, we don't have it.

The conclusion I come to on this particular amendment, Mr. Speaker, is that I personally could not support a delay of six months, given the fact that it is the intention of the government to start reimbursing the independent schools of this province that are approved under the language of this bill if it is passed from the beginning of the school year next September. I would not wish to see that opportunity and that remedy of an injustice pass by for yet one more year. I would, however, certainly support an initiative by the government and recommend an initiative by the government that the subject matter of this bill be sent to committee for at least 30 days of hearings and representations from interested parties.

MRS. E.E. DAILLY (Burnaby North): I rise to support the motion to hoist this bill. If anyone had had any doubts, Mr. Speaker, about the recommendation and the motion by the Leader of the Opposition, I'm sure after listening to the very shallow interpretation of the bill given to us by the Minister of Education, any of those doubts would certainly be erased.

We are faced with a bill, Mr. Speaker, which is going to bring about the most major change in education in a whole century in this province. As a matter of fact, it would be the most major change since the establishment of the first public schools in the province of British Columbia. Yet we have a government and a Minister of Education who really have made no attempt - which is their responsibility - to inform the public of B.C. just what this bill is all about.

Basically, they are trying to keep it in a simplistic form, and it is not a simple bill. It has many ramifications which should be explained to the public. Then, after proper public discussion, surely we can have an understanding from the public of B.C. - the majority of our citizens - as to whether they are indeed in favour of what is a very significant major change in education in this province. That is simply what we are asking for. Whether or not one has personal feelings for or against the bill ... and I don't mind saying right here in this Legislature that I personally am opposed to the bill. But I also have a great respect for the feelings of the public on this matter. That is why I support the move to allow the public of B.C. to be informed of what this bill really is all about, and then let them inform the government how they feel about it. Then we, as members of this Legislature, will have to do our duty, irrespective of our own personal feelings.

It's most interesting that the Minister of Education has spent the last year sending out pamphlets, having public discussions initiated on the whole matter of the core curriculum. Yet important as a discussion on the core curriculum may be, here we are faced with a far more major educational change in this province. Yet he has not seen fit to inform the public of just exactly what this bill entails. I consider that an abrogation of his duty as Minister of Education, and of his government's.

It is interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that in 1864 the first mayor of Victoria, Tom Harris, called a meeting here in Victoria. Five hundred people attended - probably close to the whole population at that time - and they voted overwhelmingly in favour

[ Page 2667 ]

of a free non-sectarian school open to all classes in the community. That was in 1864. The result of that public meeting was that it was discussed and the people of the area at that time most closely involved were given an opportunity to know the pros and cons of the situation. Following that, the Vancouver Island Legislature in 1865 - conceding to popular demand - passed the province's first Public Schools Act in which it was stated by the leading legislators at that time: "We are not disposed to be concerned with the imperfections of the bill so long as two great principles - free schools and non-sectarian systems of education - are enunciated in this province."

Now, well over 100 years later, we have a Minister of Education who from the time I've sat in this Legislature - over the last 11 years - has made it quite clear that he personally is committed to this major change. Certainly he has a right to that commitment to change the system into direct financial aid to private schools. I think I also have a right to state that I am opposed to it. But we both have a responsibility - and all of us here, Mr. Speaker - to talk to the public about this issue and not just to make a very superficial speech in this House which is not giving the public the proper information. I know that on a hoist bill one must speak to the hoist, so I'm not going to spend very long at this time. But I do want to explain why I consider the hoist so necessary, because there are so many points which have not been brought to the attention of the people of B.C. to make their decision.

HON. MR. McGEER: Name them.

MRS. DAILLY: I will start to name them, as the Minister has just suggested. I'm always ready to accede to any query from the minister across the floor when we're discussing this very, very important matter.

I think that the public should be informed that once this legislation is in place and passed by this Legislature, it is very doubtful that it can be rescinded. There is a possibility that you would have to go through appeal procedures - and we do know what happened to the government of Manitoba years ago when they were faced with this problem. It is very, very difficult. I think that the minister owes it to the public of B.C. to point out that once this is brought in, there is a possibility that it cannot be reversed without a great deal of difficulty for the people involved - not only in the Legislature but those involved and who are getting aid at the time.

HON. MR. McGEER: You don't understand the constitution.

MRS. DAILLY: The minister says we don't understand the constitution. We've checked carefully, Mr. Speaker, and we understand there are mixed opinions on this, and I concede that. But I don't think, with the mixed opinion, that the minister has any priority at this time over which is the correct one any more than I do. But I do think he owes it to the public to point out that this is a concern.

Other questions should be brought up for the public to decide, and if they are not concerned with these factors in the bill, then so be it. They have spoken and the majority have acceded to the points. But let me repeat again and again: level with the public of British Columbia, Mr. Minister of Education, with some of the points which you have failed to bring up today in this bill.

For example, I think the majority of the citizens of British Columbia should be told quite clearly that, for the first time in the history of our province, direct aid is being given to private schools. They should also be informed, for their reaction, as to whether they will accede to the fact that under this bill the separate schools which receive aid will be allowed to set their own admission policies. In other words, there is not open accessibility under this bill to the separate schools of this province. According to this bill, they can reserve their right to accept whom they wish.

Now perhaps the public of B.C. is willing to have their tax dollars go in this direction and they may not be concerned but, Mr. Speaker, again I say the minister is abrogating his responsibility in not bringing this very crucial point to the attention of the citizens of B.C. Not once have I heard the minister discuss this very important aspect of the bill.

He refers to other provinces of Canada. It is quite different from other provinces of Canada. It's a wide-open bill, Mr. Speaker, and the public should be informed of this to see if they are willing to accept this. When I say wide open, it means that any school can apply. Of course, the public should also be made aware of the fact that there is no accountability. Now the minister, Mr. Speaker, asked about the questions and I was hoping that he would listen.

As far as the private schools go in this province under this bill, I think the public should be informed that there is no accountability to the public for the moneys which they receive. There is nothing in this bill which requires the public school boards of this province to have the private schools be accountable for their spending. The taxpayers of British Columbia, who are asked to support this bill, have no way of being elected to whatever structure may be set up to have a voice in checking on the budgets of these private schools, as every other taxpayer does through his or her elected school boards, and yet they will be asked to finance them.

Now I want to reiterate that perhaps the public of B.C. is not concerned about this but, Mr. Speaker, at least the minister has a responsibility to tell them about these facets of the bill. In other words, there's

[ Page 2668 ]

no budget control over the moneys which will be given to these private schools, as is required under the Public Schools Act.

I think, from the private schools' point of v1 w' they must have some questions, too, about Weir independence. I wonder if they're happy with the power which this bill invests in one person - an inspector. His power is considerable, Mr. Speaker. This inspector can decide who gets the money, who is certifying, which schools have adequate facilities, and who sits on the independent schools committee which, to date, is the only structure we see that is being set up. I want to reiterate - the minister doesn't choose to do so, and I think the public should know - that they who are going to be subsidizing these schools will have no opportunity to sit there and question the budget and no opportunity to be elected to these boards. Now maybe they don't care, but at least we have a duty to find out.

Is the public concerned, at a time when we're all concerned about separatism, that this could lead to a multiplicity of school systems within this province? Would the public be concerned, and all the immigrants who are coming into British Columbia who wish to integrate, will they be concerned that moneys now will be going to continue a separate type of school system instead of bringing them together?

The minister points out to the citizens of British Columbia, over and over again, that this bill is "new money." I think we all have to remind the minister that we'd really like to know what new money is. All the money belongs to the people of B.C. The government themselves have not produced the money; the money is generated by the people of B.C. This is at a time when we have the public school system suffering from a lack of funds, particularly in the area of English second-language training for immigrants, and at a time when there are children with learning disabilities. I know the enormous drain it is on the ministry, having been the former minister, to try and meet all these demands for children with learning disabilities, but it is so important to meet them, Mr. Speaker.

Now the public should be made aware that once you start taking money away or giving money to a new branch or a new sector, it obviously is going to have to have some effect on priorities of government. There is no question that the public should be made aware that these moneys which will be given to set up separate schools and finance them in the province of B.C. will obviously have to be taken from somewhere else.

The senior citizens of this province should be made aware that their taxation will now be going not only for the school taxes. I know that for years they have had a right to say they no longer have children in school: "Why should we be paying?" We know that our government was moving in the direction of removal. We have heard that the new government is planning to, but we don't see too much evidence of it. Surely the senior citizens of this province should have a voice in another impost of taxation.

Now maybe the senior citizens of this province do not object to their taxes going to private schools, but again I repeat, Mr. Speaker, we are asking for this hoist so that some of these points which the minister and the government which he belongs to have very, very carefully almost put a blanket of secrecy over.... They have avoided pointing out to the public of B.C. just what a major change is taking place. Surely they have a responsibility in bringing in a bill of such portent to explain to the public in detail all of the ramifications of it.

Now the minister referred, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that I had suggested at some speech that it was a sleeping tiger. I happen to feel that it is. Now many people disagree with me on that; that is my own personal feeling. Therefore, the minister went on to suggest that there is no sleeping tiger there. All I'm saying to him is if there is no sleeping tiger there, why are the minister and his government afraid to take it out and have a good, open, frank discussion with the people of B.C.? If there is no sleeping tiger, what are you afraid of?

There are so many points in this bill which concern me personally but which I really feel the public of British Columbia should have the opportunity to have laid before them. I want to reiterate, Mr. Speaker, that this is the most major change that has ever taken place in the public school system in our province. Yet we are asked on the first day back here to start debating this bill with the hope, I think, that somehow or other the thing will get through before the real questions start being asked. The B.C. School Trustees, the B.C. Teachers Federation, the United Church of Canada and other church groups have, I know, already informed the Minister of Education and the Premier of this province that they are vitally concerned with what this bill will do. Yet there doesn't seem to be any response from the government to their queries.

I'm simply going to conclude, Mr. Speaker, by saying in all sincerity that despite my own personal feelings on this, I feel that this government should not move in this major change in education in this province without giving the public of B.C. the full ramifications and letting them be the judge of the value of this bill and whether it should ever be passed in this House.

MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion for a hoist for six months. I do not discuss the merits of the bill under that motion. I think it has been called today on the first day of this rather strange session after a totally unnecessary recess, when we could have been discussing estimates

[ Page 2669 ]

and legislation, not because the discussions that are going on in our communities on this bill are over, but because they are just beginning.

Certainly the flow of letters into my office, and I am just one MLA, has now reached 300 or 400, most of them supporting the bill, I may say, at this stage, but all of them thoughtful. That flow is continuing, and I do not want to be, Mr. Speaker, in the position as an MLA of replying to the continuing letters that will be coming to me by saying, "I'm sorry this bill was sprung on the first day of this session - totally unnecessarily sprung at this time - and you are too late to make representations, however thoughtful, however concerned or anxious they may be. It is a fait accompli.- I do not think I should be put in that position.

As the speaker who preceded me said, there are very grave implications to this bill. It's a very momentous change. I do not know the answer to all of the questions that occur, but that they are great questions, as great questions as have ever been debated in the province of British Columbia, is very clear.

The questions in my mind are: will the independent schools be any longer independent?

Secondly, I ask myself whether or not we are setting up two distinct school systems, if not constitutionally, as a practical matter for all times.

I ask myself: will the burden upon the parents who elect to send their children into the separate schools be greater or less as a result of this bill if, as I would expect, the separate system would grow and expand under the terms of this bill?

I ask myself whether we are pointing in the direction of social harmony or divisiveness. I like to scan and I like to hear about the experience in that respect of other countries.

So, Mr. Speaker, these are not little questions. And the discussions that are going on throughout the length and breadth of British Columbia at the present time are not bigoted or prejudiced; they are principled, they are concerned, they are anxious and they are tolerant. But I do not want to see by the presentation of this bill today - which I am convinced in my own mind is a matter of political tactics rather than any social need or democratic requirement - the democratic process aborted by the speedy passage of this bill and a fait accompli made on this day, June 13.

I support an appeal for the government members to support what is a very reasonable thing in view of the fact that the bill will not be implemented in the near future in any case. It is a very reasonable appeal that the government hoist this debate for a period of six months.

[Mr. Schroeder in the chair.]

MR. STUPICH: Mr. Speaker, I notice the minister wants to take part in this debate. I suppose I could have heard from him without risking his having closed it. But I would like to add something to the pleas that have already been heard from this side of the House for a hoist for some time for the whole community to consider this bill before the government proceeds with passing it.

During the course of his opening remarks in second reading, the minister did say that we have a policy that has been in effect in the province for some 105 years, and today we have an opportunity to change that. I think that very statement in itself gives rise to the question: if we have had that policy for 105 years, why is it so urgent that we rush to pass it on June 13? Why not give the public some opportunity to consider changing a policy that has served the people of this province for 105 years? It not necessarily has served them well. But can we really sit in this chamber today and decide for the people of this province and for the people of the future whether or not the system that has been in effect for 105 years has been a good system, whether this is a change that should be made to improve it, whether there should be any change at all or whether there should be different changes? Why the need to change something that has been in effect in this province, as the minister has told us today, for 105 years?

He did say during the course of his opening remarks that it's important to change it because it's a way of protecting the rights of the minorities. Mr. Speaker, he didn't really convince us. He didn't really convince some of us that this bill in itself is going to be the way to protect the rights of minorities or, indeed, that it will do anything for the majority of the province.

It has a significant departure; he has admitted that himself. It sets up some new machinery - or something that could be construed as new machinery at least - that will be under the direct and complete control of this particular minister, the minister who has on previous occasions indicated his arrogance to people and to people's opinions, the minister who on one occasion said that if people can't afford to pay insurance premiums they should sell their cars. That is the kind of person who is going to be protecting the rights of the minorities in the province?

Mr. Speaker, I question whether the minority groups can really feel - with inspectors who report directly to this minister and whose rulings may be appealed to this minister whose word will be the final say with no further appeal - that the machinery proposed in this legislation before us today is going to do anything to protect minority groups or will do anything to make sure that the majority will have an opportunity for better education than they have had in the past.

[ Page 2670 ]

Why not let the people of the province consider, in the six-month period proposed - and preferably by referendum - whether or not this legislation should be proceeded with, whether or not they feel that this particular minister will guarantee the rights of anyone in the province?

Mr. Speaker, by this proposal that is before us now, we are told that there will be new money to promote a better educational system, one that will give alternatives to promote the private school system. Where is that new money coming from? We haven't heard that kind of discussion yet. I know that it's not in order at this particular time. But I think it is in order to ask questions as to whether or not the rights of the majority will be protected when this new money is funnelled into this particular kind of education. I think that is a discussion that the people of this province should have an opportunity to participate in. Is this new money some of the money that the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) boasts about having saved by not wasting it on the handicapped, the senior citizens and families that have problems? Is that where the new money is coming from? I think the people of the province should have some right to hear something about that discussion and to participate in that kind of discussion before we proceed with this particular legislation today.

Mr. Speaker, I know it's easy for the minister himself to vote on this today. Certainly his opinion with respect to this kind of legislation has been well known. He's been voicing it ever since he has been a member of this Legislature - not for 105 years, but certainly during the whole of his time in this Legislature. Mr. Speaker, it will be just as easy for me to vote on this, because I too had been voicing my opinion long before I entered this Legislature as to whether or not I think I should be voting for money to be going into an educational system to provide funds for schools that will say to me: "Although you're helping to pay the cost of maintaining this school in operation, we have the right to decide whether or not your children will be admitted to this school. We have the right to decide whether children from your constituency will be admitted."

It's easy for me to say that I will vote to deny any of my funds going into that kind of separate school education. It's just as easy for the minister to vote the other way, because he feels just as strongly about it as I do.

Our point, Mr. Speaker, is that there should be some opportunity for the rest of the people in the province to discuss this, to ask questions, to get some reassurance that there will be some protection for the rights of the majority and to get some reassurance if they want it - and we don't know whether they do or not. But we do think they should have that opportunity to get some reassurance that the rights of the minorities, which the minister has talked about so much, really will be protected by this kind of legislation before us.

Mr. Speaker, I can only join with my colleagues in urging the government not to rush into changing something which the minister himself has said we have lived with for 105 years. Surely, if we have lived with it for 105 years, we could live with it for another six months while the people of the province have an opportunity to consider whether or not they want to make this fundamental change in the financing of education in the province of British Columbia.


HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, I had thought that those who wished to speak to the debate had done so and this would be a summation. I can wait until the debate is completed.

MR. WALLACE: This is an amendment we're on, Pat.

HON. MR. McGEER: Yes, I understand, but nevertheless, you speak once to the amendment. Do I understand that correctly, Mr. Speaker - that there is an opportunity... ?


HON. MR. McGEER: Well, no matter. The NDP, Mr. Speaker, after a good opportunity to sound public opinion in their own constituencies, an opportunity to hold extensive caucus meetings and develop a firm position, have come back to this House and the very first bill we debate they want to delay. More than that, Mr. Speaker, the suggestion of the opposition is to do something which they wouldn't have contemplated ever themselves as government - namely, to send a piece of legislation out for a plebiscite. Was that done, Mr. Speaker, when the Premier of the province decided to double his salary and become the highest-paid politician in Canada? Was it done when the Minister of Mines and his colleagues brought in anti-mining legislation which caused the virtual disappearance of an industry? Was it done when nearly all of British Columbia was locked away in a land freeze?

Did we have plebiscites about those things? These were not issues, Mr. Speaker, that would affect a minority, as the Leader of the Opposition well pointed out in his recent speech. These were not things that involved minority rights. These were issues that involved every single citizen in British Columbia. Where was the NDP and their policy of plebiscite at that time? Nowhere to be found, Mr. Speaker. But when it comes to a matter of minority rights, who's

[ Page 2671 ]

asking for a plebiscite but the former Attorney-General (Mr. Macdonald) ? Now I ask you, Mr. Speaker: is that being consistent? Is it being fair? Is it championing individual rights as that member at other times will tell us he does?

Or is it just an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to try and obscure what has been the NDP policy from the very beginning - to deny these rights? And it was very difficult, Mr. Speaker, to discover that when they were in opposition. They never had very much to say. It was all kind of obscure. It was difficult to discover it, Mr. Speaker, when they were government, because this matter always came up at conventions and the Premier was always making some kind of an encouraging statement. He wasn't really for it, but he wasn't against it and he only came out firmly in favour of public funding of these independent schools in the height of an election campaign. But then, when the time came to actually do something about it, we find an entirely different attitude on the part of the NDP. It all becomes unmasked, Mr. Speaker, and we get down to what their true feelings have been all the way along. It wasn't any secret that the government would bring this in as legislation. It was passed at a Social Credit convention. It was stated as part of the platform. It came out as policy in the throne speech. There's nothing mysterious about it. If the people had been so against this policy, why was the government returned? It's not slipping something by the public or the NDP. This has been, from the very beginning, the policy of the present Social Credit government. So the NDP has had plenty of opportunity to thoroughly research this issue in their own ridings and to test what the opinion really is. Don't come in and ask for delay or plebiscites or some other manner of avoiding getting right down to the critical issue. Are you, as socialists, for or against this? I think, Mr. Speaker, we're going to discover that the socialists really are against it.

Mr. Speaker, the former Minister of Education, the member for Burnaby North (Mrs. Dailly) , has talked about all the secret and hidden meaning behind this bill. There's no secret or hidden meaning. It's just simply funding at well-defined levels of support the 150 or so independent schools of this province, if they should apply, with a small amount of public money which will only be a fraction of the amount of money that these people are presently saving the treasury of British Columbia. The savings these people are bringing to the public are between $35 million and $40 million, and we'll be giving back nowhere near the amount that they annually give, by this method of sending their children to independent schools, to the treasury of this province.

Mr. Speaker, the constitutional issue that has been raised by the brother of the former Minister of Education - several radio shows, letters to the newspapers and so on - is not a valid issue. The fact is that he does not understand the constitution, and this bill carries with it no constitutional obligation for future Legislatures of British Columbia. So the bill, Mr. Speaker, I suppose, could be rescinded by a future NDP government should they choose to do so. But I can tell you it won't be rescinded by a Social Credit government. We believe this is fair. We believe it gets to the little man, and that's what we intend to do.


HON. MR. McGEER: The former Minister of Education talked about how much more critical this was than the core curriculum where we did consult widely with the people of British Columbia. But that was about material that would be taught in all our schools because there wasn't this uniformity in the way of curriculum that we felt was necessary. We felt it was an obligation of the Ministry of Education to see that this standard was reached. The former minister participated in initiating the study on the core curriculum. That affects public and independent schools. It affects every single youngster in British Columbia. This great issue that these people are talking about is neither a constitutional issue nor is it a large financial issue in relation to the budget for schooling in British Columbia. It's a small thing. But it's important to those low-income people who are discriminated against to a serious degree by the current policies which are going to be changed.

Now finally, Mr. Speaker, you ask why we must do it now. Why can't we go out and test public opinion and learn whether people are for or against it? We've done it already, and I want to show you the result. Here it is. This is what's coming to the minister's office.

MR. LAUK: Why don't you pay them?

HON. MR. McGEER: They're from all over British Columbia.


HON. MR. McGEER: Do you want us to read them all to you? This is the mail in favour of Bill 33, right there, and that's what we've received in the last two months. There's the mail against it. You can have it.

Mr. Speaker, we've done the plebiscite. We know what the people of this province are prepared to support. This mail isn't just coming into my office; it's coming into their offices as well. They know what the public sentiment is over this particular issue. It's very important to those people in British Columbia who want to send their youngsters to independent schools as is their right, but who lack the personal

[ Page 2672 ]

finances to be able to do so. That's what this bill is intended to address.

Why now? The leader of the Liberal Party explained why, Mr. Speaker. It's because if we're to provide this funding, which will commence in September of this year with the willingness of the Legislature, we have to inspect all these schools. There are 150 of them. We have to receive the applications. We have to set up an administrative structure. We have to do counts of the pupils who are going to the schools. This isn't something that you can do in two weeks. It's going to require a great deal of work on the part of the ministry, and we have to get on with it. That's why, Mr. Speaker, we're not prepared to spend more time doing something which already has been done. The NDP has lots of opportunity to undertake a plebiscite if they thought it was so important when they were the government. But instead, only when we come to do something about it, only when Social Credit comes to fulfil a campaign promise and end 105 years of discrimination, only then does the NDP get interested. What is their interest? Delay even longer. That's not an answer, Mr. Speaker. It's time for the Legislature to do something about it. That's what this bill intends to do. We don't intend to delay. We want to get on with the inspection of the schools and we want to get on with the job.

MR. LAUK: I rise to support the amendment. I don't think it's unreasonable for us to ask that the Legislature delay the second reading of this bill for at least a period of six months. I am disappointed by the remarks of the Minister of Education in this House today and his remarks prior to the House reconvening today with respect to Bill 33. He's a very eloquent and articulate man, very well educated himself, and more uncharitable people in our society have described him as an academic elitist. I am not one of those - today!

But I have seen by the way in which he has conducted his debate with respect to Bill 33 that he is very able - probably the most able person - to lower the tone of debate so eloquently. I don't know why the minister insists on such a low political level of debate on such an important issue. I don't know why he insists on doing that. Does he feel that's where his greatest constituency of support is? I don't think that's true, but maybe he thinks that.

He states that the bill has already had wide circulation and that public opinion is coming in. I think he also knows it's true - or he should know -that public opinion is confused. If this minister took the same pains - I might say, with government funds - to hype up his core curriculum pet, and provide some real concrete information using some of those government funds with respect to Bill 33, we could have informed opinion.

He says that no Social Credit government will rescind this bill. Well, having regard for his political career and the various colourings of his political career, no Socred government may rescind the bill, but a government with which he may be associated would rescind the bill. Who knows? Who knows where that minister will be in some subsequent parliament?

Mr. Speaker, in support of this amendment, I wish to state clearly that I have had vast experience in parochial schools. It was a good thing for me; I thought it was a good thing.


MR. LAUK: No, I don't share your views about parochial schools. I think that they are a good thing, Mr. Speaker. I think that they add and provide something that the public education system does not. They add a certain spirituality and creativity to the individual that, for whatever reason, may not be available in the public education system, which comes under a vast bureaucracy.

I should say categorically and make this confession, Mr. Speaker, that I dislike bureaucracies. I don't like them. I think that they invariably start out to be a good thing and end up invariably a bad thing. I think that bureaucracies are what we're facing as a real problem in this community and in this country of ours. It's bureaucrats who bother me. I don't think that the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Chabot) enjoys bureaucracies any more than I do.

MR. GIBSON: Except to give jobs.

MR. LAUK: But, Mr. Speaker, what is being set up here is not just the usual government bureaucracy. What we want by a six-month delay is to have the people of British Columbia informed of what's going to happen to the independence of independent schools. That's what is essential when I speak about the good feeling and respect that I have for that spirituality, that quality of private education that sometimes is available to those who wish to take advantage of it.

These are delicate things. They are so delicate that they cannot withstand the slightest bureaucratic interference for fear of their peril, for fear that such a fundamental change would destroy those qualities and would destroy the independence of that private education. The very thing that I sought out as a child and that my parents sought for me in a private education, which I received in part, was those qualities that are now in the face of this statute - or at least could be - endangered.

I am sorry that the minister.... Oh, the minister is still here.

I am worried about a bureaucrat, Mr. Speaker,

[ Page 2673 ]

making judgments about the kind of education that is received in religious schools. I am really concerned about that kind of bureaucratic interference. This bill, rather than settling those concerns for me, rather than comforting me and those who are supporting independent schools, has heightened our concern. There is a grave danger that this government, which has brought in an Act called the Government Reorganization Act, which is a direct affront to the legislative process, this government which believes in Star Chamber decisions in the privacy of the cabinet room, is now entering into the private education system in this province in a real and sweeping way.

Many of us are very concerned about the inspector - and what a word that is, Mr. Speaker - of private schools. It smacks of other countries and of other less fortunate political times. It also gives rise to the spectre of the Minister of Information and Propaganda.

What is this inspector to do? Read the Act, Mr. Speaker. This is what we want in six months - for people to read this statute, and understand the grave implications which it's calling for. The inspector will make judgments. And on the face of it, the statement in the statute seems perfectly reasonable. It states that the inspector must satisfy himself that "no programme is in existence or is proposed at the school that would, in theory or in practice. . . ." There are, I think, 75 volumes in the English language specifically dealing with those two words, in fine print, covering the remarks of philosophers going back many hundreds of years as to what they think theory and practice mean.

But let's go on. ". . . theory or in practice, promote or foster doctrines of racial or ethnic superiority." Mr. Speaker, there are many of us in this place who've had our speeches and our words so misinterpreted with respect to that kind of a statement and we have suffered dearly in the public forum for it. It's very, very critical that we view the power given to an inspector to make judgments with respect to it.

"Religious intolerance or persecution" - I wonder who's calling the shots. What is religious intolerance? I recall as a youngster reading the statements of Duplessis when he was attacking the Jehovah's Witnesses.

HON. MR. CHABOT: The Padlock Law.

MR. LAUK: The Padlock Law. I recall his statements. He couched his words in such a way as to give rise to the feeling that it was Jehovah's Witnesses who were attacking the Catholics. Thank God those days are gone forever.

It depends on whose point of view it is, Mr. Speaker. The inspector's? A bureaucrat's going to make that kind of a judgment? "Social change through violent action." What is the violent action about closing down Woodlands School and throwing retarded people out into the streets, in the disguise of saying, "oh, that's giving the opportunity to the community to handle retarded children"? That's an excuse, but it's couched in that language.

The Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) says: "Put retarded children where they belong, into the streets." That's what he's saying. That's violent action. What do you call violent action? Are we going to ask a bureaucrat to make that decision? We are asking a bureaucrat to make decisions on fundamental human rights. And I say that when we provide that kind of sweeping power to one bureaucrat - the inspector of private schools -there is a very attack on freedom of religion and independence of religion in this great province of ours.

Now I'm providing that point of view. I'm not saying that an inspector will do that. I'm not saying that the attack will occur. I'm saying the attack is now made possible, and that this discussion should be had throughout the province so that the people of this province and independent schools and those who enjoy the public school system can be fully aware of what this statute is going to do, or make available, in the way of powers to the bureaucracy.

In addition, the Act is permissive in the sense that the government may provide so much funding, depending upon reports of the inspector. With that permissiveness in the statute, you are taking what is constitutionally a fundamental right in most democratic systems and making it permissive in the hands of the government itself. In other words, they can choose, Mr. Speaker. And who's to say whether, without the proper, strict guidelines and entrenchment of rights, an inspector some way along the line will not, through his own prejudice, fund some schools and not others?

This Act is not drafted well, to put it mildly. This Act is hasty. This Act is not considerate. This Act is not democratic. It is a bureaucratic response. This Minister of Education, Mr. Speaker, has not provided the kind of information that the public should have, and he has good reason for it, I say, Mr. Speaker. I say he's trying to ram this statute down the throats of people in British Columbia without adequate consideration by them.

I rise to support the amendment on the basis of civil rights and I will not lower the tone of the debate, as the Minister of Education has done, and attack this side of the House as being against human rights by not wishing to hastily support this bill. But it's fundamentally because of human rights that we hesitate to vote on this bill today, and we ask that consideration be given to have this bill explained and discussed in the widest public forum. And then if the decision is yea, so be it.

[ Page 2674 ]

The government has been strangely quiet since we adjourned in this session. It had almost three months to provide the public forum with information about Bill 33, and it's unseemly and unsavoury for them to trot this bill out at 2 p.m. on the first day we reconvene with no public discussion having taken place. There is confusion about the kinds of powers which are incorporated in this statute, and this House has a responsibility to make sure that that confusion is allayed and the fears of those who support independent schools about the independence of their schools, and their very philosophies, will not be attacked by the public bureaucracy.

DEPUTY SPEAKER: The question is that the word "now" be struck from the motion made by the Minister of Education and the words "six months hence" be added.

Amendment negatived on the following division:

YEAS - 17

Lauk Lea Cocke
Dailly Stupich King
Barrett Macdonald Levi
Sanford Skelly D'Arcy
Lockstead Barnes Brown
Barber Wallace, B.B.

NAYS - 31

Waterland Davis Hewitt
McClelland Williams Bawlf
Nielsen Vander Zalm Davidson
Haddad Kahl Kempf
Kerster Lloyd McCarthy
Gardom Bennett McGeer
Chabot Curtis Fraser
Calder Shelford Jordan
Bawtree Rogers Mussallem
Loewen Strongman Wallace, G.S.

Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.

MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, we are forced, through unusual circumstances, to take what I would consider to be an unusual step in this House. We find the ramrod approach where there's been no government debate whatsoever on this bill....


MR. COCKE: The minister only has defended the bill. We see this as a facade, a ramrod. Mr. Speaker, we have no choice but to boycott second reading.

That's what we'll do.

HON. MR. BENNETT: Cowards!

You're not afraid to say where you stand, are you, Scotty?


DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GIBSON: In the crowd on this side of the House I was afraid you wouldn't notice me. (Laughter.)

HON. MR. BENNETT: It's called "See how they run. "

MR. GIBSON: I almost have the feeling that I'm speaking largely to the converted on this particular piece of legislation.

HON. MR. BENNETT: You should go and speak to those who are afraid to stay.

MR. GIBSON: But I do want to say something about it because it's one of the most significant in recent years, as far as I'm concerned. I have some reservations as to the details. I have some reservations as to the rushed timing. But I support it personally; my party has supported it for many years.

There are two basic issues and they're quite simple. Publicly funded independent schools: are they a plus or a minus for education and are they a proper thing in terms of equity in this province? In terms of equity, Mr. Speaker, I have not the slightest doubt. This has been an unfair thing in this province for 105 years whereby people - mostly ordinary folk - in this province have been scrimping and saving and have been paying twice in order to achieve for their children an education of a sort that they think proper and that conforms in every way to the educational standards of the public system of this province. Yet they've had to pay twice for that privilege. So on grounds of equity I see no argument at all against this legislation. Some may argue that there are greater causes, greater social questions than individual or group equity. I'm willing to address the question: is it a good thing for education in this province?

Let's look at two aspects of education. One aspect relates to education as it pertains to the individual and the other is education as it relates to social purposes.

In the education of the individual what we look for in our system is the greatest reaching of potential of every human being. Individuals are different; they require different kinds of education. We recognize that in our special programmes for children with learning disabilities, in our special programmes for

[ Page 2675 ]

gifted children; and even for the average child we recognize it in experimentation of different teaching techniques. I know, for example, Handsworth School in my own constituency is one that uses a so-called modular scheme with a great deal more left up to the initiative of the individual child. Who knows? It is not a proven thing as yet that one or another of these types of systems are better.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that with all of the professional study among the teachers of this province, and with all the work the Ministry of Education has tried to do, we are by no means sure of the answers in the teaching field in this province or in this world. There are better ways to do some things that we're doing in our school systems. Therefore, we can ill afford to cast the entirety of our educational system into one rigid mould and say that that is the way it's going to be and there's not going to be any more experimentation than is presently permitted under the public school system. That gives some latitude - I admit that at once - but in my view, not as much latitude as a publicly funded independent school system will do.

So for the individual, on the basis of the greater choice that is available if there's an independently funded school system, and on the basis of a testing of various ways of approaching the teaching needs of any given child, I think that we are better off with variety. I think that variety is more likely to be vigorous and maintained if some fair share of public funding is directed to the independent system.

It may be objected that parents are not suitably skilled to choose whether to send their children to the public school system or the independent school system. But, Mr. Speaker, I know of no other way compatible with freedoms in our society than to allow parents that choice. I would say as well that under this legislation, publicly funded independent schools will be accredited and therefore will have to meet minimum standards. Others may say it's not fair to have experimentation in the school system. I think it is important to have experimentation, at the same time again protecting basic standards as will be done through the inspection of the Ministry of Education.

Others may argue against the independent school system and its public funding on the grounds of a "fractionation" of the socializing purposes of the school system. This is one of the things that our school system does. In addition to individual values, it inculcates in our children social values, cultural values, behaviour norms. Another social purpose of the school system is productivity preparation, but socialization is the main question.

There's no doubt that with a vigorous independent school system, one of the forces for homogeneity in our society will have been somewhat weakened. I have to say that doesn't bother me. We have far stronger forces pulling us down to a lower common denominator, such as the tremendous impact of television in our society, so I think a little more vigour and colour and diversity in our school system cannot but add to the strength of our society.

Diversity is valuable. Mr. Speaker, in education as in every other area, as long as it is regulated, competition is a vital force. It is a force which goes to improve the product in the end. By moving towards the public funding of the independent school system, we move as well towards competition in the school system.

People can be reassured that no public money will go to any institution that is terribly far off the norm. I don't think they have to worry that the independent school system, insofar as it is publicly funded, will be subversive of the foundations of our society. So I conclude in general that this legislation will lead to an advancement of the social purpose of the educational system as well.

I think, Mr. Speaker, we should understand that we are not just going into a separate school system. This bill potentially goes far beyond anything in Canada, in theory almost as far as a voucher system where parents are given a voucher worth one year of education for one child and told: "Go spend it as you like." It doesn't go quite that far, but it goes much farther in that direction than any other system in Canada. I think it's good. Other people will think it's bad, but let's realize that's what it's doing. It is not a separate school system.

The Group 1 schools, for example, needn't meet quite a few criteria. They needn't meet criteria as to teacher qualification, as to curriculum content, as to effectiveness of operation and as to impartiality of admission. Even the Group 2 schools, which are apparently somewhat upgraded, needn't meet the criterion of full public school teacher standards, which may not always and at all times be the correct standards to enforce in any event, and they need not meet the test of impartiality of admission.

What we in Canada are used to calling separate schools do have to meet these criteria. For example, the separate school system in the province of Ontario has to accept any child of the particular denomination who comes along and says: "I want to go to this school." They have no choice.

The independent school situation in British Columbia, after the passage of this Act - as, indeed, it has now - will continue to have that choice, but will thereby become publicly funded. This is something different. It's something that's brand new in Canada, and we have to understand and be prepared for the fact that it is likely, in the course of time, to create considerable diversity. It's not going to be immediate. There is a five-year clause that says any independent school must be in existence for five years without public funding before it can have it, and that's good. There is an approval requirement by

[ Page 2676 ]

the minister, and that's good. There is no provision for capital contributions and I suspect the operating contributions will be only partial, so there are some definite checks and balances under this legislation, but there is a definite possibility of a more vigorous educational system.

I want to put forward a couple of warnings and ask a couple of questions. I am concerned with this legislation at the lack of any kind of a council with an elected membership to stand between the minister and the operating schools. I think it's important to have elected people there, Mr. Speaker, because they have some kind of moral authority from their constituency to exercise their own judgment as to the expenditure of funds, to comment on them, and to act as a watchdog on them. This is against the day when some minister - and I speak not of this minister of this government - or an inspector may wish to exercise his or her discretion improperly against the school system. As the members of the independent school association are well aware, one of the things that makes you independent is not relying on anyone else for your money. As that reliance for money becomes- built-in over the years, the independent schools will potentially lose their independence unless they have some kind of a voice that can get to the public, some kind of an elected group with stature that, when need be, can stand up against the minister and his inspector.

I would like to ask the minister when he closes second reading - and if he declines to say it, then it will certainly be asked again at committee stage -what percentage of operating funding will be available to each group, Group 1 and Group 2, or failing that figure, at least some overall figure as to what will be provided for the school year starting on September I of next year so that those responsible for the financial planning of independent schools can have some rough benchmark. In this way they can say to themselves, "roughly now, if we are in Group 2, how will our budget look perhaps if we are lucky?" or "conservatively, it might look like this." The independent schools need some guidance from the minister if he tells us this is going to become applicable in September, as it should.

Next, because of what I see as the potential vigour of the independent school system under this legislation, I want to make this caution: we have a tremendous amount invested in the concept of our existing public school system, and in the simple dollars of our existing public school system. If the new law shows any signs of doing significant injury to that system, as some of the opponents have predicted - I do not agree with their predictions, but they have been made - if any such signs of injury materialize, then this new law must be immediately reassessed. I say to the minister that, as a part of the implementation of this new programme, there should be a provision for educational research and study of the comparative effectiveness of the different types of educational programmes which will be brought forth in British Columbia as a result of this funding.

Then referring to the question of non-impartial -if I could put it that way - admission criteria, the independent schools largely have a selection process in which they say: "I will take you and I will not take you." As public money starts going in that direction, we have to look at that selection process. It must be monitored to ensure that it is not having an adverse effect on the public school system - for example, through too much high-grading of students by the independent school system - and that it is not having an adverse effect on the students in the independent schools through the system becoming too inbred or unbalanced in other ways. If this selection process is shown to be posing any threats, then amendments must be made and independent schools must understand that this is one of the things that comes with public funds. These kinds of things will have to be studied.

Mr. Speaker, I would say there is no point in kidding people. This money may be new money this year, but it's not going to be in years to come. The government is now going to have to set aside so much for education which will, from this next year on, when this legislation is passed, include 23,000 students who haven't been included in the past. The educational budget is going to have to grow by that much right away and then, after that, the normal inflationary increases will have to be applied.

Mr. Speaker, with these reservations and conditions, I support this bill in principle. I am, however, concerned about the timing and about the fact that here we are on the first day of the new session - and quite a surprise, I think, to the people most intimately concerned with this bill in the public sector - debating this bill on second reading before many people have had a chance to put their views forward. Every MLA will have a chance in this debate, but many others in the public have not had a chance. Where they are talking about the principle of the bill, committee stage is too late. On the other hand, I don't want to delay this past the next school year.

To try and find some compromise between those two principles and to give the BCTF and the BCSTA and all the school boards and any others who are interested in making representations on this very important piece of legislation, I would propose - Mr. Minister, just before you leave - on Bill 33, second reading, this reasoned amendment, so-called, that we strike out all of the words after "that" and add "the subject matter of the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Health, Education and Human Resources, which committee shall be empowered to hold hearings and report back to the House within

[ Page 2677 ]

one month."

For the benefit of the Clerks, I think that this type of amendment is covered in May, 18th edition, page 487, category 3.

DEPUTY SPEAKER: With permission of the House, we'll just take a moment to review the amendment.

Hon. members, the amendment appears to be in order, with perhaps one question. That is, there appear to be two separate questions inherent in the proposition itself, one being that the bill be referred to the committee and, secondly, that the committee be requested to report in a certain length of time. Unless there is objection by any member of the House, basically the amendment is in order.

MR. GIBSON: Just speaking very briefly for a couple of seconds to the amendment, Mr. Speaker, I've made it clear that this bill has my very strong support and that I personally wish to see it passed before the opening of the next school year and would not wish to do anything to delay that.

On the other hand, it is a question of such major importance that I think it is critical that the various voices in British Columbia on this subject should be heard, and heard in such a timely fashion that the House can then make its decision pro or con well in advance of the next school year. That is what this amendment seeks to achieve.

MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, since I find it very difficult to take such distinct pro and con views on this particular issue, I've listened very carefully for most of the afternoon. Regardless of whether one is for the bill or against it, there certainly has been enough expression of different opinions to the effect that the public of British Columbia would benefit by having some opportunity for a greater range of public debate than will occur simply in this chamber. I just would emphasize that the Liberal leader (Mr. Gibson) in no way made me party or told me of his amendment. I'm responding to the amendment within the few minutes that it's been made available to the House.

While I did not speak on the motion to hoist the bill for six months, since I felt that that was unreasonable for a variety of reasons we needn't go into, I do feel that the Liberal leader's proposal is indeed a very thoughtful compromise between the government position that we will deal with it as the first bill after a two-month adjournment and what I consider to be the unreasonable attitude of the official opposition that when they don't get their own way they take their marbles and walk away.

[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]

Apart from these two far-apart points of view, Mr. Speaker, it does seem to me that the Liberal leader's proposal is indeed a very apt compromise wherein much of the issue could be aired before the standing committee of the House on education. And the various groups who have expressed opposition to the bill, such as the B.C. Teachers Federation, the trustees' association and others, would have their day in court.

It's been this government's commitment to promise accessibility by people in groups and interested parties to their legislators. And since it seems to be agreed by all in the House that this is a momentous bill that represents a very substantial change in the philosophy of the government of the day as to how diversity in education should be provided in this province, it is not a step which should be taken lightly.

I have listened to the argument that this government went to the polls and obtained a mandate on its platform, which included a commitment to funding independent schools. I recognize that. But there were a mass of other things in that same platform which were of far more telling significance in getting this government elected than the issue of independent schools. In the light of the economic circumstances which were outlined in this province in the last election, many people are far more concerned about being able to earn a wage and pay their bills and not see the province go broke than they ever were about the issue of funding independent schools.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would urge the government not to oversell its position by saying that simply because it did make an election commitment, it has to push ahead at this speed with this particular bill.

It seems to me that there is a very substantial diversity of opinion in the province, as witnessed by speakers this afternoon and by my own mail and telephone calls. And if this government really believes in the commitment it has given to be accessible at all times to the individual and to interested groups on important public issues, there is no real reason to be resistant to the idea of delay of one month during which time the standing committee on education could provide the public and the groups I've mentioned with a very fair, reasonable and sensible opportunity to be heard.

It would be my prediction that this government would proceed at any rate. But the essence of democracy is for everyone to have their say - not for everyone to be right or for everyone to win. Much the contrary, Mr. Speaker: the essence of democracy is consensus. And what should be determined to a greater degree than we are doing in this debate on the first day after a two-month adjournment is to press ahead as though there were some very pressing urgency which would prevent this further debate in the public arena through the forum of the Select

[ Page 2678 ]

Standing Committee on Education?

I would like to make a few more comments on second reading, Mr. Chairman, but I think that the Liberal leader has brought forth what to all reasonable minds, I would suggest, represents a very apt compromise. I would hope that the government would ponder this very carefully and approve the amendment.

HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party has put forward a very interesting proposition which is supported by the leader of the Conservative Party. Imaginative as it is, I regretfully must say that the government can't support that suggestion.

MR. WALLACE: What would you lose?

HON. MR. McGEER: Well, the most important thing to recognize, I think, is that we've got a very heavy legislative schedule here. We've got a heavy programme for individual legislative committees. While referring matters to a special committee of the Legislature has the advantage of giving some members very wide exposure to a particular issue, it's not reasonable to do that and then come into the very same debate all over again in the House. We've got to recognize that every party, at the time it's elected, goes to the public with its programme to implement, as did Social Credit. The public accepts or rejects that platform at the time they put that government into power. The expectation is that we'll follow through on our platform. If the platform is wrong, if the programmes are wrong, or if they work out badly, then, of course, the public should be quite properly selecting another group to govern in British Columbia. But we've had adequate notice that this bill would come forward. It was part of the platform, part of the throne speech and part of repeated promises made by the government that such a bill would come forward. The bill has been introduced and made available to the Leader of the Opposition, to the leader of the Liberal Party and to the leader of the Conservative Party. For two months now, we've had a great opportunity to hear from the school trustees, the B.C. Teachers Federation and the public. I've been on many open-line shows myself. Every MLA has got far more mail on this particular issue than you would get on normal issues. So you have great opportunity to know how the public feels just from your mail alone.

Mr. Speaker, there comes a time for all MLAs when they simply have to stand up and be counted. This is not a new issue in the House. It is not a new concept. It's not something new that this government thought of last week. This is something which has been here for 105 years. It's been vigorously debated in the House. The Leader of the Opposition, when he was Premier, repeatedly referred to this particular issue. Yet finally - today - when the time comes for him and his party to stand up and be counted, one way or another, they run out of the House.

Mr. Speaker, we want to have people state in principle whether they are for or against this bill. If people have been elected all this time, had all this mail and all this notice and they still can't decide whether they're for or against a matter of this simplicity and importance, then they should not be sitting in this House. After this decision has been made - that we're either for or against this in principle - then we should be entertaining, as we properly do in this House, all the suggestions that come from professionals, from the public and from everyone who thinks that the bill might be improved in some way or other. But we don't need to go into exhaustive consultation to make a decision as to whether it's correct or incorrect in principle. Unfortunately, the leader of the Liberal Party is asking us to postpone making a decision of that kind. I don't believe any purpose can be served by that postponement. So obviously, Mr. Speaker, once the decision has been made in principle then we do wish to entertain - and to give the members of the House ample opportunity to consider - all of the individual provisions, and to give the public ample opportunity to make all the suggestions they can as to how to make such a bill work, if, indeed, it passes. But the principle is simple and it should be decided forthwith.

MR. SPEAKER: Are you ready for the question on the amendment?

MR. WALLACE: His aye for the amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: The amendment is that Bill 33 be amended by striking out all of the words after "that" and adding: "the subject matter of the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Health, Education and Human Resources, which committee shall be empowered to hold hearings and report back to the House within one month."

Amendment negatived on the following division:

YEAS - 2

Wallace, G.S. Gibson

NAYS - 28

Waterland Davis Hewitt
Bawlf Nielsen Vander Zalm
Davidson Haddad Kahl
Kempf Kerster Lloyd
McCarthy Gardom Bennett
McGeer Chabot Curtis

[ Page 2679 ]

Fraser Calder Shelford
Jordan Schroeder Bawtree
Rogers Mussallem Loewen

Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.

HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support Bill 33. I rise to support it not in a new-found conviction to this lengthy debate that has raged in British Columbia; I rise to support it in a conviction I developed over many years of equity and equality among our children and among our taxpayers and their rights to the best possible education of their choice. I rise to support it because there has not been equality for many parents and many students in this province. I rise to support it because I believe that our educational system could stand the test of some comparison with other alternative approaches to teaching the same curriculum.

I believe that many parents - myself among them - and many students question our education system and the value they receive; the value as taxpayers; the value of the money we send to government to provide a state or central education; but mostly the value that they receive in an educational content that prepares these young people to face the world and help to build our province.

The BCTF should have nothing to fear from such a comparison. Such a comparison could only aid educational excellence in our province. Really, what we are fighting for is a better educational opportunity for all our children - one which doesn't commit us to the status quo, one that doesn't commit us to a single approach to education, but one that will allow alternatives and a broader approach to education so that our children - the ones we should be talking about - will be the eventual winners.

All of us in British Columbia who have gone through raising children and putting them through the public school system, as I have, question from time to time. I know it might be questioned that anyone who is a child of mine may have difficulty with the system. But beyond that, many parents would like the opportunity of choice to evaluate whether their child is indeed receiving the best approach to education. Allowing parents this right of choice without penalizing them in a monetary way, as we have, will indeed make for a better and stronger educational system in our province in the future. As I say, the children in our province will be the real winners.

When this question has been before British Columbians and British Columbia for many years.... I cannot understand, when this same subject has been discussed in this Legislature before by many of the members who are here today and have been for many years, and who have at those times, Mr. Speaker, had strong opinions, why today in the light of finally having to stand up and be counted, to finally get off the fence and speak out for where they stand.... I cannot understand how a whole group of legislators, elected to represent a body of opinion in this province, could abrogate that responsibility and leave the House. I cannot understand how any responsible party could condone such action. It proves, Mr. Speaker, what they meant when they tied the word "waffle" on to the NDP from their Waffle Manifesto, because today they've waffled unlike any party I've ever seen before.

This Legislature for years has heard how individual members afraid to make their vote known have run from a single vote. I know of no such member, but I've heard the stories. But in the history of our Legislature we've never had a whole party run before, Mr. Speaker. It's political cowardice.

The NDP is bankrupt of conviction and philosophy as they attempt only to find on which side of the fence they can fall so they can get the most votes. They keep referring to polls that have been taken so that they can side with the majority. Their concern with coming back and achieving power in this province is more important to them than coming down on the side of right and what they believe. For a party that is the official opposition and that wants the opportunity to return to government, they show no quality or no ability of leadership in this Legislature today.

As I say, there was a great debate in this Legislature earlier this year about full-time MLAs having an opportunity to not only meet in this Legislature but to represent their constituencies. I find it impossible that MLAs who are committed to the concept of full-time MLAs, having been presented with a bill over two months ago in this Legislature and been given the opportunity to go back to their constituencies and talk to their constituents and travel around the province, have not done so. And they come crawling into the Legislature today whining that they haven't had an opportunity for the people to discuss the bill.

Is it true then, Mr. Speaker, that those members who walked out took two month's holidays and didn't talk to their constituents? Can it be true that the sanctimonious mouthings of the Leader of the Opposition and his party, when he talked about being a full-time MLA, were merely of the moment and not of conviction and definitely not of practice? Can it be that they have ignored their constituencies specifically and the broader constituency of British Columbia during these two months?

Mr. Speaker, this party and our members have not dodged that responsibility. In fact, as a cabinet and as a government we have gone out to the people and

[ Page 2680 ]

held cabinet meetings where we can get direct intervention from the people, should they be concerned on this issue and others that are before this House. We feel that as a government - and I feel as a member - we have achieved the pulse of the public and that every member of the public in my constituency of South Okanagan and those areas where we've traveled have had an opportunity to make their feelings known on Bill 33. This legislation was well canvassed in the public long before its introduction. But there's been ample opportunity for the members that should be opposite, those members that have stayed opposite and our own members to have canvassed all of their constituencies during the two months that they have had to prove, indeed, that they were full-time MLAs, Mr. Speaker, and not just MLAs of convenience, when it's convenient to them.

The people of British Columbia have an opportunity to judge by this action more than where this NDP does or does not stand on Bill 33. They have a chance to judge individually members who would disregard their greater responsibility to carry a body of opinion into this Legislature, not only to speak up but to make their voices heard. That party, as they are proud of saying, achieved about 39 per cent of the vote in the last election. That party owes it to that body of the electorate to make their voices heard. If they don't and if they continue this boycott of the Legislature and of this bill and of the principle they are asked to vote upon, then, indeed, that party will stand naked before the people of this province as being barren of any strong philosophical commitment. They will stand before the people of B.C. as a party concerned only with achieving power. That apparently is what they put as a higher priority than making their voice heard today.

They know full well, Mr. Speaker, that if they disagree with this Act, then the NDP, if they could, by broadening their membership, changing the selection of candidates, changing their leader, and establishing some principles, have an opportunity of perhaps being re-elected in this province. They have the opportunity, if they disagree with the principle of this legislation, to repeal it, as all governments have. But the action they've taken today only lets us know that that party perhaps has no future in this province.

I disagree with those members who say that certain legislation is more important in their minds and can be shelved for a month or diverted to an all-party committee while debate is held up. I say that is only selective on the part of those members and we're not here to selectively say what's more important to us, but what's important to the people out there. I find that the people of B.C. want this voted on. They've waited a long time. They're prepared to have it dealt with in this Legislature, just as all the other bills, many of them just as important or more important to some body of the electorate, have come before this Legislature. The people's business is being done.

I find it strange that a party and a leader, such as the NDP and the Leader of the Opposition, who cried about being locked out of the Legislature, walk out on their very first opportunity to make their views known. Could it be that that, like their speeches about being full-time MLAs, Mr. Speaker, was merely for public political consumption? Could it be that that party reacts in a most political way and not in-a way of commitment? If ever a party tried to pretend that they were the sole saviour of the minority in this province, and the minorities in Canadian society, it is that party.

The legislation we have before us deals with a minority that has not been justly dealt with and, Mr. Speaker, they won't stay to debate, they won't stay to speak up for that minority, and they won't stay to have their vote recorded. They are selective in their principles; selective in the way they choose to represent British Columbians.

Today, indeed, is a sad day for a proud party. The CCF, founded by J.S. Woodsworth, is a party that has made a great contribution to Canadian political life in the tradition of the Woodsworths, and Harold Winch and his father, who sat in this Legislature. I'm sure that many early members of the CCF today are saddened with what is the final death knell of a once-proud party as they run for cover and as they leave their responsibility and as they hide quaking in their caucus rooms afraid to answer the bell.

MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, it was very interesting to hear the Premier say the NDP has no future in British Columbia. I thought that privilege was reserved for the Conservatives. (Laughter.) At least if I were to listen to many of the armchair political pundits in this province that would probably be the conclusion I would have to draw.

I would just wonder whether the House Leader would welcome an adjournment of this debate until the next sitting of the House. I've got more than 10 minutes to speak. You can take it now or later. You know, it's just like getting your muffler fixed. (Laughter.)

MR. GIBSON: Scotty Muffler King.

MR. WALLACE: Fix it now or pay me later.

AN HON. MEMBER: How long are you going to be?

MR. WALLACE: Oh, about half an hour.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious bill and I don't wish to start upon it on any note of levity. I do believe that the ramifications of this bill go much further that simply saying whether or not public

[ Page 2681 ]

funding should be made available to independent schools.

It is a complex issue, and the pros and the cons are not as distinctly drawn as perhaps the debate this afternoon would indicate. I've listened very carefully to both sides of the argument because fundamentally I am in favour of the bill, but I have some very serious concerns about the way in which the bill appears to be trying to implement what I think is a just principle.

I want to make it very plain that neither Scott Wallace nor any of his children have ever been near a private school, nor probably will they ever be. I would even perhaps recognize that in my upbringing in Scotland I am somewhat biased against private schools for reasons that are not really relevant to this debate, but I'm willing to recognize that I've had to give a great deal of thought to this bill, and to this whole principle.


MR. WALLACE: Well, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the co-operation of the government but I have a few comments that I really feel are worth making and they would take longer than the 6 o'clock adjournment.

Mr. Wallace moves adjournment of the debate.

Motion approved.

Hon. Mrs. McCarthy files answers to questions.

Mr. Mussallem from the Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills presented the committee's fourth report, which was read as follows and received.

CLERK ASSISTANT: Mr. Speaker, your Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills begs leave to report as follows: that the preambles of the following bills have been proved and the bills ordered to be reported without amendments: Bill 401, intituled An Act to Amend the Vancouver Stock Exchange Act, 1907; Bill 403, intituled Society of Industrial Accountants of British Columbia Act, 1977.

All of which is respectfully submitted. G. Mussallem, Chairman.

MR. MUSSALLEM: I move that the rules be suspended and the report be adopted.

Motion approved.

Hon. Mr. Waterland presents the 1976 annual report of the British Columbia Forest Service.

Hon. Mr. Gardom presents the annual report of the B.C. Racing Commission for 1976.

Hon. Mr. Gardom presents the annual report of the corrections branch for the calendar year 1976.

HON. MR. GARDOM: I ask leave to present two reports of the Law Reform Commission of B.C.: the first one deals with waiver of conditions, precedents and contracts; the other one deals with the report of proof of marriage in civil proceedings.

Leave granted.

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, I've been asked to bring to the attention of all members of this House the death of a former member who occupied a seat in this House and served as a member of the 22nd parliament, sitting in the Liberal benches from 1950 to 1952. I refer to Maurice Patrick Finnerty from the city of Penticton, who passed away Saturday, June 11. Funeral services for this late member of the Legislature will be held June 15,1977.

Mr. Finnerty was a former mayor of the city of Penticton and a freeman of the city.

I'm sure that all the hon. members of the Legislature would like to send a note expressing our concern and regret to the family. If it's the desire of the Legislature I will see that such goes forth on our behalf. Thank you, hon. members.

I have one other matter before adjournment. Hon. members, before giving my reserved decision on the request by the hon. member for North Vancouver-Capilano (Mr. Gibson) to move adjournment of the House under standing order 35, I would like to comment on the objection of the second member for Vancouver East (Mr. Barrett) to judgment being reserved in accordance with the established practice of the House.

The British practice is that a member wishing to move such a motion must inform the Speaker of his intention. Even with notice, the Speaker may defer his decision till a stated time. I refer you to May 18th edition, at page 334: "The advantage in giving the Chair prior notice is obvious and may assist the Chair in some instances in giving an immediate ruling." However, as I indicated, the practice in this House and other Houses has been to give the matter raised the fullest consideration before ruling to ensure that all of the many rules applicable to standing order 35 have been fully considered.

In examining the statement of the matter submitted by the hon. member for North Vancouver-Capilano (Mr. Gibson) I am of the opinion that the matter does not qualify so as to enable the motion to be moved without notice. The statement refers to the "complex technical and public questions involved, " and further suggests that a federal

[ Page 2682 ]

statutory regulation may be contravened. Accordingly, the rules that the matter raised must be a single, specific matter and must involve more than the ordinary administration of the law have not been complied with. The statement also imports or implies argument which is not permitted in a statement of the matter. Any relevant argument must follow as a matter of debate in the event of the motion being successfully moved. The reference is May, 17th edition, at pages 364 and 366.

It is my opinion, therefore, that the matter raised by the hon. member for North Vancouver-Capilano does not qualify under standing order 35.

Hon. Mr. Gardom moves adjournment of the House.

Motion approved.

The House adjourned at 5:58 p.m.


62 Mr. Gibson asked the Hon. the Provincial Secretary the following questions:

1. How many staff members are employed in (a) the offices of the Ministers of the Crown, (b) the Premier's office, (c) the offices of the Government Caucus, and (d) the office of Inter-Governmental Relations?

2. In each case, how many were hired (a) under the authority of an Order in Council and (b) under other authorities?

3. What is the salary of each position in question?

The Hon. Grace McCarthy replied as follows:

1. (a) Provincial Secretary and Ministry of Travel Industry 5
  Ministry of Health 4
  Ministry of Attorney-General 5
  Ministry of Recreation and Conservation 4
  Ministry of Highways and Public Works 5
  Ministry of Energy, Transport and Communications 5
  Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing 5
  Ministry of Human Resources 6
  Ministry of Agriculture 4
  Ministry of Education 5
  Ministry of Economic Development 3
  Ministry of Forests 4
  Ministry of Finance 4
  Ministry of the Environment 5
  Ministry of Mines and Petroleum Resources 3
  Ministry of Labour 6
  Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs 6
(b) Premier's Office 14
(c) Government Caucus 13
(d) Inter-Governmental Relations 8


2. Provincial Secretary and Ministry of Travel Industry
     (a) Order in Council 4
     (b) Other 1
  Ministry of Health  
     (a) Order in Council 2
     (b) Other 2
  Premier's Office  
     (a) Order in Council 12
     (b) Other 2
  Government Caucus  
     (a) Order in Council 8
     (b) Other 5
  Inter-Government Relations  
     (a) Order in Council 8
     (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of the Attorney-General  
     (a) Order in Council 3
     (b) Other 2
  Ministry of Recreation and Conservation  
     (a) Order in Council 4
     (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Highways and Public  
     (a) Order in Council 3
     (b) Other 2
  Ministry of Energy, Transport and Communications  
     (a) Order in Council 2
     (b) Other 3
  Ministry of Municipal Affairs and  
     (a) Order in Council 5
     (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Human Resources  
     (a) Order in Council 2
     (b) Other 4
  Ministry of Agriculture  
     (a) Order in Council 4
     (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Education  
     (a) Order in Council 3
     (b) Other 2
  Ministry of Economic Development  
     (a) Order in Council 3
     (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Forests  
     (a) Order in Council 4
     (b) Other Nil

[ Page 2683 ]

  Ministry of Finance  
     (a) Order in Council 2
     (b) Other 2
  Ministry of the Environment  
     (a) Order in Council 3
     (b) Other 2
  Ministry of the Environment  
     (a) Order in Council 3
     (b) Other 2
  Ministry of Mines and Petroleum Resources  
     (a) Order in Council 3
     (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Labour  
     (a) Order in Council 3
     (b) Other 3
  Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs  
     (a) Order in Council 4
     (b) Other 2


3. Provincial Secretary and Ministry of Travel Industry  
  (a) Order in Council  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 953
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 912
  (b) Other (1)  
     (1) Temporary/Limited Clerk 1 785
  Ministry of Health  
  (a) Order in Council (2)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 2,732
     (1) Secretary 1,312
  (b) Other (2)  
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,054
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 976
  Premier's Office  
  (a) Order in Council (12)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 2,732
     (1) Administrative Assistant 1,583
     (1) Communications Planning Adviser 2,732
     (1) Research Officer 1 1,192
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 915
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 2 9153
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 2 869
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 1 815
     (2) Clerk 1 785
  (b) Other (2)  
     (1) Administrative Officer 2 1,572
     (1) Program Manager 2 2,164
  Government Caucus  
  (a) Order in Council (8)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Research Assistant 1,202
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 5 1,106
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,054
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,026
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 976
     (1) Clerk-Typist 1 815
  (b) Other (5)  
     (4) Temporary Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,054
     (1) Temporary Clerk-Stenographer 4 976
  Inter-Governmental Relations  
  (a) Order in Council  
     (1) Director 2,732
     (1) Research Officer 5 2,141
     (1) Research Officer 4 1,954
     (1) Research Officer 4 1,783
     (1) Administrative Assistant 1,375
     (1) Administrative Officer 1 1,309
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 953
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 912
  (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of the Attorney-General  
  (a) Order in Council  
     (1) Special Projects Assistant 1,916
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Stenographer 4 951
  (b) Other (2)  
     (1) Clerk-Typist 2 850
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 1 815
  Ministry of Recreation and Conservation  
  (a) Order in Council (4)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,054
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 976
  (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Highways and Public Works  
  (a) Order in Council (3)  
     (1) Executive Secretary 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,026
  (b) Other (2)  
     (1) Clerk Typist 1 799
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 976
  Ministry of Energy, Transport and Coummincations  
  (a) Order in Council (2)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
  (b) Other (3)  
     (2) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,054
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 2 869
  Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing  
  (a) Order in Council (5)  
     (2) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,075
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,026
  (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Human Resources  
  (a) Order in Council (2)  
     (1) Co-ordinator of Programs 1,850
     (1) Secretary 1,312
  (b) Other (4)  
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 953
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 1,001
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 2 869
     (1) Clerk 2 831

[ Page 2684 ]

  Ministry of Agriculture  
  (a) Order in Council (4)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 953
     (1) Clerk Typist 1 815
  (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Education  
  (a) Order in Council (3)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 953
  (b) Other (2)  
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 976
     (1) Clerk Typist 1 799
  Ministry of Economic Development  
  (a) Order in Council (3)  
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 953
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 912
  (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Forests  
  (a) Order in Council (4)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,026
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 1,001
  (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Finance  
  (a) Order in Council (2)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
  (b) Other (2)  
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,001
     (1) Clerk 1 785
  Ministry of the Environment  
  (a) Order in Council (3)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Administrative Officer 2 1,412
     (1) Secretary 1,312
  (b) Other (2)  
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,026
     (1) Clerk-Typist 2 869
  Ministry of Mines and Petroleum Resources  
  (a) Order in Council (3)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 953
  (b) Other Nil
  Ministry of Labour  
  (a) Order in Council (3)  
     (1) Program Manager 1 2,035
     (1) Executive Secretary 2 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 5 1,054
  (b) Other (3)  
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 1,054
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 2 889
     (1) Clerk 2 831
  Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs  
  (a) Order in Council (4)  
     (1) Executive Assistant 1,625
     (1) Secretary 1,312
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 3 932
     (1) Clerk-Stenographer 4 953
  (b) Other (2)  
     (1) Clerk-Typist 2 850
     (1) Clerk-Typist 2 912