1981 Legislative Session: 4th Session, 32nd Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 1981
[ Page 6693 ]
Reading and Receiving Petitions
Clerk-Assistant –– 6693
Orders of the Day
Speech from the Throne
On the amendment
Hon. Mr. McGeer –– 6693
On the main motion
Mr. Macdonald –– 6697
Mr. Kempf –– 6701
Mr. Stupich –– 6703
Hon. Mr. Hewitt –– 6707
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 1981
The House met at 10 a.m.
MR. KEMPF: Mr. Speaker, if not in the gallery, in the precinct this morning is a group of people I would like to acknowledge and have the House welcome. It is the small but very hard-working staff of the Committee on Crown Corporations: our acting director, Colin MacPherson; Yves LaRue and Ken Bayne, our corporate analysts; and Pat Dexter, our administrative secretary. I'd like the House to make them welcome.
Reading and Receiving Petitions
CLERK-ASSISTANT: In the matter of the petition presented to the House on November 26, 1981, by the hon. member for Burnaby-Edmonds (Ms. Brown), said petition is irregular in the following respects: namely, the form thereof does not comply with the standing orders of the House. Although it is endorsed by the hon. member, it does not bear the signatures of the petitioners and does not contain a prayer.
All of which is respectfully submitted,
Ian M. Horne, QC, Clerk of the House.
Orders of the Day
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
On the amendment.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, good morning. I might say how pleased I am that the Leader of the Opposition has made the time available in his schedule to attend the debates of the House. I would commend to him to study Hansard with care so that he can become familiar with the policies expressed by his elected members.
AN HON. MEMBER: Name two.
HON. MR. McGEER: Well, I'm going to name a number, Mr. Speaker, because I think the Leader of the Opposition should perhaps give some account of the policies of his party. I can recall — being very long in the tooth in this House — the debates that took place many years ago, prior to the 1972 election, that disastrous election for the people of British Columbia in which the NDP gave a clear indication of what they would do if they came to power. The only trouble was that the public of British Columbia never knew that. They weren't being told what the NDP said in this House.
What I want to see done now, while there is still time, is for the story put forth by the NDP to be told to the public of British Columbia. You see, Mr. Speaker, many of the people who should have been telling the story didn't want it to get out, because they went to work for the NDP. I can remember John Mika when he was president of the press gallery. He wasn't telling the public of British Columbia what the NDP was saying. He went to work for the NDP, and his contribution was to help run ICBC and bring it to a $185 million loss in its first two years. Peter McNelly was a columnist for the Vancouver Province. He wasn't telling the story either. He went to work as the financial adviser to the then Premier of the day, Mr. Barrett, and brought financial disaster to this province.
I want to tell you, I read today about how the NDP has learned its lesson, how they're moving to the middle of the road, how the Leader of the Opposition wears three-piece, pin-stripe suits. I want to tell you, when you come on to the floor of this chamber and hear what the NDP has to say, their story hasn't changed one bit. They're honest, Mr. Speaker. They tell you what they're going to do, and then — God help us — they do it. I want the public of British Columbia to realize that all of that experimentation, the messing with the levers of power, the damage that was done, is going to be repeated, because they're saying right now, over here during the debate this week….
MR. BARRETT: On a point of order, I want the member to realize that he's accusing the opposition of telling the truth.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I doubt whether this is a point of order.
MR. BARRETT: Well, coming from him, Mr. Speaker, it's a point of order.
MR. SPEAKER. Order, please. Hon. members, it is not only disorderly but unruly to interrupt a member while he is speaking, and to raise a point of order which could be called a fraudulent point of order is grossly disorderly. The minister has the floor.
HON. MR. McGEER: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm just pleading through this Legislature to the public of British Columbia to listen to what these people are saying, because they didn't listen before and the public had to pay the penalty. They've learned no lesson. They've not reformed. They've not moved to the middle. They've not come up with any sensible policies for the future. In debate this week, they have come up with a formula for disaster.
May I explain that the mover of this non-confidence motion, which any sensible person would reject, the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea), said that he was against any kind of development of our natural gas industry. He doesn't want a liquefied natural gas plant here. He doesn't want to make use of that resource. He wants to leave it in the ground. Isn't that right, Mr. Member? You don't want a petrochemical complex in British Columbia. You said you were against it in debate. He was against the liquid natural gas plant.
MR. LEA: I'm against that.
HON. MR. McGEER: You're against that. Fine. Put that down on the record. The NDP is against it.
Then there was the member for Atlin (Mr. Passarell). He hasn't been back in the chamber since he gave his speech, but he said he was against dams in the north. He was against damming the Stikine River and the Iskut River and the Laird River.
AN HON. MEMBER: That's right.
HON. MR. McGEER: The member for Prince Rupert says it. The member for Atlin says it, and let's have the Leader of the Opposition say it.
[ Page 6694 ]
HON. MR. WOLFE: I'm making a list.
HON. MR. McGEER: Make a list.
Then we have heard the NDP say they're against the Hat Creek power plant. Isn't that correct? When the Leader of the Opposition was the Premier, he said: "We're not going to build any damn dams." He'll recall that. I don't want any more talk about that.
Mr. Speaker, I know there are some people in British Columbia who believe that the electricity in their home comes somewhere out of the atmosphere and if you just plug in there will be 110 volts. I expect a lot of those people would vote NDP, because that's the only way they're going to get power if this group here ever gets into office.
At the present time we are building an enormous dam on the Revelstoke Canyon.
AN HON. MEMBER: Who started it?
HON. MR. McGEER: Not the NDP. They were against it. But any of you who've been up there will see that, as with the other power projects of the past, the dimensions of it are truly awesome. That project will last British Columbia for exactly two years in terms of growth. If you're going to supply the power to this province, you're going to have to do it by taking the two-thirds of the inherent water power in this province that is now wasted and harness it for our utilization, or you're going to have to develop some alternative.
It could be thermo-electric power plants or nuclear power, but it has to be something. If you're against nuclear power, thermo-electric plants and hydro-electric dams, then please explain to the people of British Columbia how they're going to get 110 volts when they plug in their electric light cord and how the industry of this province is to obtain the power that it needs to operate. And don't say wind power from your debates here in the legislative chamber. Come up with your program for power development in this province and let the public of British Columbia know how you're going to do it.
Many times in this House I've criticized the things that we did in the name of power development in British Columbia, because we could have made all of the projects that have been developed in the past an enhancement to our environment rather than a detriment. That could have been done, but wasn't done. It must be done in the future. But to take the attitude that the New Democratic Party have taken — that we shouldn't build this, and we shouldn't build that, and we shouldn't build the other thing, because damage has been done in the past — is simply to bury your head in the sand and leave British Columbia helpless on the ropes.
When you were in power, you destroyed the mining industry in British Columbia.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: And the petroleum industry.
HON. MR. McGEER: And the petroleum industry.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: And the forest industry.
HON. MR. McGEER: And the forest industry.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: And the manufacturing industry.
HON. MR. McGEER: And manufacturing. Yes, all those things are true. Mr. Speaker, if the policies that the NDP are now advocating in this particular non-confidence motion are brought forward in this province, you will destroy not just one or two or three industries, you'll destroy everything. That's the consequence of the policies you're advocating. I say to all the people of British Columbia: don't let it come as any surprise, because the things that you did when you got into power in 1972 didn't come out of the blue; they were stated right here on the floor of the chamber, and the people who should have been listening weren't listening. Some didn't care to listen, and some didn't want to believe. But it's all there: all of the irresponsibility that the NDP ever presented to the people of British Columbia is there to listen to now, the things that caused the NDP to be rejected in 1933, rejected in 1937, rejected in 1941, rejected in 1945, rejected in 1949, rejected in 1952, rejected in 1956, rejected in 1963, 1966, 1969; and then that horrible mistake was made in 1972.
AN HON. MEMBER: Never again.
HON. MR. McGEER: Never again. The people of British Columbia let down their guard in 1972. All I can say to the people of British Columbia is: do not let your guard down again. Listen carefully to what these people have to say. Do not believe all of the myths, all of the false stories that have been perpetrated.
AN HON. MEMBER: The image-making.
HON. MR. McGEER: All the image-making. It's false. We learned our lesson. No, you haven't learned your lesson. We wear three-piece suits now — you don't wear three-piece suits. The red underwear is still there.
Mr. Speaker, in rejecting this motion, as it surely must be rejected, we should do so not merely on the basis of the irresponsibility of the arguments that the New Democratic Party has once more put forward in defence of the non-confidence motion, but to give some thought as to what our status here in British Columbia will be in the future and why we find ourselves today in the unhappy circumstance of having almost one-quarter of all of our forest workers laid off, with many of the industries upon which we count for our prosperity running at less than full capacity….
MR. BARRETT: Social Credit!
HON. MR. McGEER: The NDP is very quick to blame Social Credit.
MR. BARRETT: Well, you were quick to blame us in the same situation.
HON. MR. McGEER: Yes, because I can't say it any better, Mr. Speaker, than my former colleague in the House, Gordon Gibson, once said it: the New Democratic Party when they were in power had pulled off a miracle. The miracle was that in a time of record mineral prices in the world the NDP had managed to create despair in the mining industry in British Columbia.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Record demand and record prices both.
[ Page 6695 ]
HON. MR. McGEER: With record demand and record prices, they produced despair in the mining industry — a miracle of politics. Now when that kind of thing happens….
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the hon. minister just pause for half a minute until we restore order in the House.
I think it is time we remind members of the practice. An occasional outburst is tolerated perhaps, but if it becomes an interruption, it must be controlled. Hon. members, the minister has the floor. We shall not interrupt him. Please proceed.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, the lesson of that circumstance of the New Democratic Party, which they should surely have learned by now, and which all of British Columbia should understand, is that we are not an island in the world of economics — we live by international trade. We do not operate our own currency; we must compete for investment just as we compete for the goods which we sell abroad. Those are mandatory terms of reference for any government that holds power in British Columbia. If we manage our affairs well, as we are doing today, then we fare better than our cousins across Canada and our counterparts in other areas of the world.
If we manage our affairs badly, as we did from 1972 to 1975, then we fare worse. In difficult times good management can make us do slightly better; bad management at any time can leave us far worse off. That's what we faced with the NDP. But when the Leader of the Opposition tries to blame a world recession on Social Credit, all he's doing is saying: what a pity it is that everywhere in the world there aren't governments like the one here in British Columbia, so that we could avoid the global problems that we have today.
MR. BARRETT: Are you bragging?
HON. MR. McGEER: We have got something to brag about, Mr. Member.
The world is facing difficult times, but British Columbia is still, despite all the harshness of today, and all the poverty and all the suffering, doing far better than most jurisdictions. In a sense, British Columbia is the Detroit of the housing world, because it's here that the 2-by-4s are made that form the basis of the housing market in North America and to an increasing extent in some other parts of the world. Just as when the purchasing of cars goes down Detroit does badly, so when the purchasing of homes goes down British Columbia industry suffers.
So what has happened in the world today that has led to record inflation and the uncertainty that plagues British Columbia, Canada and the United States? In my view, the major contributor to world inflation today is OPEC. They are the ones who have produced this enormous imbalance in world trade, where we have one nation, Saudi Arabia, with less than seven million people taking $110 billion a year from the Western world — money which cannot be managed in their economy, or even passed before the noses of their people without causing a great deal of social unrest. That money is cycled back into Western Europe, some of it from Canada.
Canada contributes some $4 billion a year to that global OPEC pool. If you wish to prorate that across the country, you can say that the taxpayers of British Columbia are forking out, each year, about $400 million to satisfy the greed of OPEC. It's a tax for which we get nothing in return, except exhaust fumes at the end of the year.
As you accumulate that tax or contribution which goes from western nations into the pockets of OPEC, you run somewhere over $300 billion a year, of which Saudi Arabia receives a loan of over $100 billion. That money does not come cycling back to our country. It doesn't come to the United States again; it doesn't come to Canada; it rests with the great banks in Europe as Eurodollars, or Euro-Canadian dollars. Now there are Euroyen and Euromarks, if you can manage all those terms. The world's currency is no longer under any nation's or any central banking control. While the Federal Reserve in the United States or the Bank of Canada may set rules for our domestic banks, that money which goes out to OPEC is entirely outside of anything that those banks can control. As a consequence, paper money around the world is multiplying at a rate which inevitably leads to inflation and cannot be curbed until we begin to withdraw the payments that are currently going to OPEC.
It's a global problem. It's one that we suffer from in British Columbia. So what moves are some nations making to compensate for that? One of these is being undertaken in the United States, where record interest rates mandated by the United States government are being put forward to draw that capital back into the United States. As it does so, it draws capital out of Canada; it draws capital out of Western Europe. It places it in the United States, but at a penalty. That penalty is the high interest rates which now put homes, which now put automobiles and which now put the expansion of many businesses beyond the means of the people who are expected to make the wheels of industry turn. Of course, as that happens it takes away the markets for our basic goods — just like it takes away the markets of the automobile manufacturers. We have to attempt to weather that particular storm while economists of the world begin to try to understand what has happened to the paper money of the world which is suddenly out of control as a result of unilateral actions taken by OPEC.
I personally do not believe that the world's currencies will be brought into balance again until these payments to OPEC are halted. They cannot be halted until the world begins to find alternative energy sources to operate our transportation fleet in North America. There is only one source of fuel that can be used to replace OPEC oil; that source of fuel is methane, or natural gas. This is why we are embarking in British Columbia on a program of substituting oil with compressed natural gas to operate our automobile fleet.
MR. BARRETT: And then sell it to Japan.
HON. MR. McGEER. Certainly we can sell it to Japan, because we've got much more than we can possibly use now and into the future.
MR. MACDONALD: Burn it all up.
HON. MR. McGEER: Now we're getting right down to the NDP policy. We're getting right down to the point where we can separate that party from this party.
[ Page 6696 ]
MR. SPEAKER: Order!
HON. MR. McGEER: I want the people of British Columbia to listen to the nonsense that's coming from the Leader of the Opposition and his lawyer friend sitting to the right. Since they do not understand our sources of supply, they're going to lead British Columbia into ruin. It's because of the counterparts of the Leader of the Opposition in other governments around the world that we've got a world monetary system today that's in difficulty.
Yes, we have adequate supplies in British Columbia and Canada. There are thousands and thousands of gas wells capped, to the point where there is no longer any purpose in looking for new gas, because we can't sell what we've got. Sometime, centuries down the way, if we do run out of all that gas, we can still make it cheaper from coal than you can now buy OPEC oil. We've got at least 25 billion tonnes of that coal in British Columbia. But the NDP doesn't want to develop that coal. They don't want to sell the coal. They're against the northeast coal development. Are you not against the northeast coal development?
HON. MR. McGEER: The member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea) shakes his head. The member for Prince Rupert is in favour of northeast coal. Is there anyone else in your party that is? Tell it to Mr. Leggatt, the member for Coquitlam; he's against northeast coal. Tell it to your former industry critic, the member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) ; he's against northeast coal. You're against the coal development and you're against the power development and you're against natural gas development, yet you want more money for all of the services that the member for Burnaby-Edmonds (Ms. Brown) wants to put forward — asking for more money every day. Where's it going to come from if you're against all industrial development in British Columbia? It's not going to fall out of the air and it's not going to be brought….
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, I'll never finish my speech in time, with all these interruptions.
I want to say that we in British Columbia are not in a secure energy position, because we, like others in North America, are still dependent upon OPEC oil. You may think that there will never be a disruption in the Middle East and that the flow of oil will continue indefinitely into the future, even at the extortionist prices of today. If there is a sudden cutoff of that OPEC oil, not only will we face gas rationing in British Columbia, but within the next few years we will face power shortages as well, because we have not got enough power to substitute for all of the oil we're burning. Our transportation fleet is dependent upon that oil. So take warning: we in British Columbia and in Canada, as in the United States, are dependent upon OPEC, with no choice but to pay these extortionist prices. And as we pay these prices we contribute to the very world inflation that makes the prices of meat, eggs and butter go up in the grocery stores in British Columbia and places the ownership of a home beyond the average citizen. It's a curse upon the world. Yet the policies of these people would put us in bondage to OPEC, because you do not have the imagination or the courage to develop what British Columbia has within its own boundaries. That's the whole point. It's the difference between Social Credit and the NDP. So we can only hope that our substitution program will take full effect in time. We can only hope that the rest of Canada and the rest of North America too come to their senses in time. If they do, not only may we get a grip on our energy future, but we may, as well, get a grip upon galloping inflation, which exists today because there is no world currency and no method by which any of the strong currencies in the world can be protected by their own reserve banks.
These are perilous times, not times when any nation or any province within a nation can indulge in nonsense or negative policies. We are not secure enough. We are richly endowed; we enjoy a very privileged standard of living. Our purpose and our position is being undermined by circumstances around the world. If we manage our affairs well, we will do better than most, if not all. But if we manage our affairs badly, if we believe the false prophets on the other side, if we're careless enough not to pay attention to what they say, if we leave them in the state of their abysmal ignorance about the development of the economy of British Columbia — as they stay today — then we are inviting disaster for our province.
So I say to British Columbians: wake up, listen to what your opposition is saying, think about the future of our province, and continue with the wisdom you have shown in the past — stay with Social Credit.
HON. MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, may I have leave to make an introduction?
HON. MR. SMITH: In the gallery this morning, Mr. Speaker, are seven students from the Executive Secretarial College in Victoria, together with their principal, Ms. Debbie Jelich. They are: Alex Bentley, Patrice Wagher, LeighAnn Arscott, Shelley Moen, Lisa Mulhuren, Cherrie Gokey and Marsha Gray. I'd ask the Legislature to make them welcome.
Amendment negatived on the following division:
NAYS — 30
[ Page 6697 ]
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning on a very serious point of order. I feel that this House has just committed a very great mistake. We allowed this amendment to be defeated without giving the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to support the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea) by speaking in support of that frivolous amendment.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, hon. member. This is not a point of order, but is perhaps a speech which would have been in order under the amendment itself.
On the main motion.
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I disagree with you. I think that was a great point of order of the Minister of Industry and Small Business Development. It was much better than the speech he gave the other day. It had far more content and thought, and was factually correct. But you have a rival, Mr. Minister, in the member for Point Grey, the Minister of Universities, Science and Communications (Hon. Mr. McGeer), who competes with you in demagoguery in this House. What happened to the longest exhaust pipe in the world that was going to come…? What's the next slightly hare-brained thing that's floating through the mind of the scientist from Point Grey? Running cars on methane and coal would be next, eh? Using an irreplaceable precious natural resource to have those cars racing like little beetles through the streets, and at the same time talking about increasing that traffic fleet and denying public transit funds which would do something serious about the OPEC threat — to the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm).
We're back in the throne speech debate, and I have to say it's the most threadbare throne speech that's ever been produced in this House. How can we criticize that government? They're not doing anything. What are we here for today in the late fall, having a throne speech debate, when there is no legislation and no proposals to deal with unemployment or the suffering or the housing crisis that is in this province of British Columbia? There is none of that. Here we are on this Friday morning debating an empty throne speech, which puts you almost in mind of the little circle that was sitting around in the mental asylum. One of them finally says: "Why are we all here?" And another one replies to that after a moment's reflection: "Because we're not all there."
Mr. Speaker, I suppose we should welcome these people from Ontario because they're our fellow Canadians — the guys from the Big Blue Machine of Premier Bill Davis. All the lollapaluzas of the Big Blue Machine that won in Conservative Ontario are coming out to British Columbia to brainwash the people of this nice province on the other side of the Rockies. They're going to move in, and the ministers sitting over there will have nothing to say about their portfolios. If what's-his-name Kinsella tells the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) to shut up about her convention centre, she shuts up.
Orders made in Ontario: we don't want them in this province. We don't want the latest political techniques practised on the people of this province. Take a poll before you take a position about anything. Show no leadership. Find out what people want. Analyze them psychologically with the latest political techniques. Improve the Premier's image through these grey-flannels from Ontario working throughout this government. It's a Herculean task, but that's what they've embarked on.
You know, there's a serious aspect to it, Mr. Speaker. It used to be that we could say, with confidence, that our deputy ministers were not politically motivated. But then we had one who went to a Social Credit convention at Harrison Hot Springs, and the crumbling of that kind of an independent public service was already underway when Doug Heal went to Harrison.
In the Vancouver Sun, welcoming Pat Kinsella with a picture of Bill Davis and the Big Blue Machine, it says this: "Pat Kinsella Hired by Bill Bennett to Organize Social Credit Campaign."
Now if you had said that about any other deputy minister for the past few years in the public service of British Columbia, there would be a very considerable complaint from that public servant. But what was being said there was true and the complaint was never heard. That's a kind of corruption in the politics and in the government of British Columbia. They're spending public money on hiring political operatives within the government. It's totally wrong. I say send them all packing back to Ontario and back to Bill Davis. We don't want "made in Ontario" politics in the province of British Columbia.
I have a number of things I wanted to say, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to refer to something that means a lot in Vancouver East: we've got the PNE there. It sits in the middle of a residential area and every year the traffic congestion is creeping up. The fair itself is becoming more of a honky-tonk, commercialized, asphalt-covered area. The management of it, under Erwin Swangard, who was appointed by this government, has simply gone to pot, to the extent that in the natural fairground of that kind, where we had hundreds of children playing minor hockey and being off the streets and being taken by their parents, early in the morning sometimes and in the evenings, to learn a physical sport instead of acting up on street corners…. Everything was good about it. But what went? Minor hockey was ousted from the Forum to be replaced by trade exhibits. Increasingly, we're seeing commercialism creep over that PNE.
I say the time has come to scrap the board and begin planning to tear up some of that asphalt and tear down some of those old decrepit buildings and create there the kind of Tivoli Gardens experience that in Copenhagen means that families use it. They "walk abroad and recreate themselves," as Shakespeare once said. Then it becomes a family-community asset once again — a playground that would be appreciated.
I'm going to say just a word or two about housing, because the contrasts in the society in which we all live are sometimes appalling. People think I have money to invest. They look at my new suit, and they say: "Well, we'll send this little prospectus to Macdonald." I get a MURB prospectus through the mail — here's somebody with an opportunity which I didn't take advantage of, Mr. Speaker. I'm bringing this up because the Housing minister (Hon. Mr. Chabot) and all the ministers over there think this is pretty good. These are tax shelters for the very rich. This fellow shows an example of a 62 percent tax rate, which is considerably above mine, and he's buying this apartment for $108,000. He pays $31,000 over four years — about $10,000 each year — but when he's done that, with what he saves on his tax he has in his pocket $26,000 in cash. The first year he saved $1,400 and so on from his tax that didn't go into the public treasury of the people of Canada, and he ends up with cash in his pocket of S26,000 and he owns the condominium, and there is some
[ Page 6698 ]
tenant there who is paying the rest of it out of the rent. He owns a $108,000 condominium, and the capital appreciation doesn't go back to the people of Canada, who did most of the workhorse financing through CHMC. This kind of tax benefit to the rich is so terribly wrong today, particularly when this government is cutting down the allowances of mothers bringing up children in a period of raging inflation. Mother-bashing is the other side of it; that's the other thing that's going on in a very ugly, capitalistic society that has to be replaced by something that has some measure of humanity, equity and fair play.
They once had a royal commission in Ottawa — they have so many and they never do anything about them back there. The Carter commission on taxation said: "A buck is a buck." If it's a buck earned by a workingman in a sawmill on an edger, it should be taxed; and if it's a buck earned by a professional it should be taxed — not all these tax loopholes and so forth.
Is that the way to build housing? Are there no other ways in which to build housing? The experience of other countries belies such a proposition. Of course there are other ways.
One of them was the B.C. Housing Corporation, a corporation such as all of the provinces of Canada and every European country have, which was killed in its infancy — a brawling, bustling baby that was beginning to assemble land, clear it, service it and make available by sale or lease or otherwise condominiums, apartments and houses for the people of the province. It was killed off by this government. It could have broken to some extent the rise in rents and interest rates that has taken place in this province — not solved it completely, but made a very useful contribution. I say this Minister of Housing we have over here, that do-nothing minister, is worse than this nice minister from Ottawa, Cosgrove. When Paul Cosgrove, a disaster item in himself, comes out here and helps our Minister of Housing to get something off the ground, we are in trouble.
So we don't agree with this kind of society where in so many of the programs of government we're rewarding the rich and destroying any kind of principle in our society. I put it down in a ditty form here. I don't know how it works in right now as a little verse, but I'll read it anyway, Mr. Speaker. This is the way they operate across on the government benches:
We're not against the truly needy;
Throw them a crumb, for goodness' sake,
But don't forget the truly greedy,
And give us cake.
That's what's happening ever since they repealed those succession duties and contributed to their wealthy friends, their estates and families. How much? In some cases $1 million, sometimes only $500,000, sometimes $2 million or $3 million, while this other thing is going on in the dark spaces of our society. "Give us cake," cry the rich, and it is answered by this government.
The Minister of Universities, Science and communications (Hon. Mr. McGeer) talked about good management, and we agree with that — you know, in your megaprojects.
MR. MACDONALD: Well, now let's just see. That is the problem, and I just want to run through some of the bad management, which is what we're against in these so-called megaprojects. We're not against the development of coal in the northeast, We're not even against sports stadiums or convention centres and so forth. But the kind of megamania that is being practised by this government is marked by one thing consistently, and that is poor management. You wonder whether anybody is really minding the store, whether there is any business sense there, or whether all the ministers are off in their own little comers with their particular little megaprojects, just working away with no coordination, no planning and no idea what the costs are going to be.
Take B.C. Place. On the best information I can get — there's nothing wrong with B.C. Place, properly planned — it will be 1986 before the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) will have a demonstration ALRT line on Terminal Avenue. In the meantime, you will have traffic congestion piling up. It's unbelievable now in the city of Vancouver, all around that downtown area. If there was planning and good management, you would put in the necessary public services. The necessary public infrastructure would be a first priority, not a last priority. That's the story of B.C. Place.
The convention centre is being placed at the foot of Granville and Howe in the most inaccessible part of Vancouver. Already the roads are choked. There's no way further buses can be moved in that area, because buses are already filling the streets. Yet that area is picked by the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) for a convention centre. If you had the planning that would put in the transportation services first — as you have, say, in the city of Montreal, where you have a Metro that everybody should be proud of, where the people can come and go, and sometimes they never come up and see the sun if it's a rainy day…. If you had that kind of planning, there's nothing wrong with the convention centre there.
What has happened in all of these things is that there is no idea of the costs. The convention centre is very obviously the little plum of the Minister of Human Resources. When she lost Tourism — and she was in quite a huff for a few days about losing Tourism and being put into Human Resources, like poor Gaglardi was, as a punishment, years ago — the Minister of Human Resources said to the Premier: "I want to keep that convention centre. I'll go, I'll take my punishment, but I'm going to have my convention centre, even if the pips squeak" — so far as the taxpayers of this province are concerned. That's what's happened.
She's running around with that nice old Gordon Shrum nice old couple — bustling around, trying to put this thing together with a different cost estimate every day. They write a letter saying, "If the feds will give us this much money, then that's all we'll ask for," and six months later they're back bashing the feds and saying, "Why don't you give us more?" It's one of the great comic little experiences we've had in British Columbia, but it's costly.
Transpo '86. These junketing ministers, who spend so much time on jet planes to Europe and China and France and all these other places junketeering, go off to Paris and bid for Transpo '86 with not the faintest idea of what it's going to cost. Then when they have the land for it and B.C. Place, the Premier says: "I'm going to sell off that land and make a quick cash profit on the land of B.C. Place" — and there's not even a site for Transpo '86. The federal government, who are blunderers in their own right, are rubbing their eyes when they look at this bunch of ministers. They can't believe it.
The Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (Hon. Mr. McClelland) gets up and says: "There will be no
[ Page 6699 ]
hearings before my new utility board, but there will be a natural gas pipeline to Vancouver Island." He's all bustle — all muscle in his head and bustle when he speaks. Well, that thing was never there. The cost estimates have never been done. It's dead. You know it's dead.
MR. BARRETT: Not the minister.
MR. MACDONALD: No, the minister's not dead, but the pipeline is dead. It was never planned, never thought out. So when some of the real facts of the thing begin coming through, it's postponed for a year — but it's clearly finished.
I want to say just a couple of words about northeast coal. I think the key that we're talking about is good planning and good management. The BCR suffered one of the worst disasters of any railway anywhere in something called the Dease Lake extension. When W.A.C. Bennett decided he would win one more election against the NDP, and he announced this line that was to go, there were no surveys as to what freight might be carried by the railway on that line. There was no consideration that you were running through an Indian reservation and apt to get scalped because they had never had a settlement for their claims; it just happened to them. There was no idea of the costs. In fact, there were court cases that found that the government had fraudulently misrepresented the costs. So what you really had was a political decision instead of economic planning. That's the characteristic of the old government, and it's the characteristic of the government we see opposite us right now.
In terms of northeast coal, I would just like to give a very brief review of what we're in for financially. Knowing that, you'll have a better chance perhaps to decide what should be done and when it should be done. If you look at the Tumbler branch line, to be built by the BCR, it's obviously the most expensive item. The Crown corporations committee's excellent staff, some of whom are with us in the gallery today, have come up with pretty good cost estimates — something I've never heard from that minister with the loud voice and the bluff manner over there.
The costs of that line in 1981 dollars, I think it is, is $423 million, but the interim financing for it is $70 million. So you're looking at $500 million. The interest on that money — let's say 16 percent; it may be a little less or more — is $80 million a year. The surcharge, with Quintette paying $2.50 and $3 and Teck paying $2.50 for the first five years, brings in a revenue against that interest charge of about $19 million. In other words, in current carrying charges, based on that 7.7 million tonnes, we have a financial haemorrhage of about $60 million a year, without beginning to consider repaying the province for the $500 million they're going to put up and take preference shares for from the BCR.
So the very serious financial costs there….
AN HON. MEMBER: They wouldn't have supported that in the old days.
MR. MACDONALD: Look at BCR struggling with a debt load of $800 or $900 million now. The rate that they said we must have to get that coal moved along the new Anzac spurline was $4.88 a tonne. But it wasn't good enough for Teck and it wasn't good enough for Denison, so they gave a special developmental discount. They're going to haul it for $3.88 for the first five years, and they're going to lose money. They can't possibly do it on that basis. So in addition to what the province is pouring in there…. I haven't mentioned the townsite, and I haven't mentioned the hydro line. Those things can sometimes pay for themselves if the townsite is there. I haven't mentioned the cost of the road down from Chetwynd. I've mentioned the railway, the $500 million we're putting in, how much it costs just to service that kind of a debt and what we get back. What it adds up to is a tremendous burden on the finances of this province.
You say it's a great development, and it certainly is. The NDP would say it is. We shipped out the first test shipment from the Sukunka fields back in 1974 to British Steel, and it was fine metallurgical coal, as good as any in the world. But the fact of the matter is that right now there is no chance of increasing the sales in the foreseeable future — by which I only mean three or four years — much beyond that 7.7 million tonnes. You would need at least three or four times that much of a shipment to begin to pay the carrying costs on your money.
[Mr. Davidson in the chair].
In the meantime, you're competing with the fields in the southeast of the province of British Columbia and in Hinton, Alberta, which have the same kind of coal and the same kind of market. B.C. Coal Co. is now moving into the Greenhills project, and Alberta is expanding as well. The result is that the intervention in the northeast in this vast public way has suppressed and brought down the cost of the coal in the southeast. It's made it more difficult for them to sell it and get a better price. The public, under this kind of harum-scarum planning of this government, is taking almost all of the risks of the project and getting none of the equity when the coal finally becomes valuable on the markets of the world. All of the risk and none of the equity. Teck and Denison get all of the equity. The taxpayer shoulders all of the financial burden, and it's the public's coal. So I say we're not against it, but I would think that a realistic look at that thing would be that it was being brought onstream before its time.
I have no doubt that the time will come when coal will be king again in the markets of the world; the prices will increase and this will be a good financial, businesslike venture, but not now. It's totally unplanned and has not been thought out in the smallest of particulars.
I should complete what I was saying about coal by bringing the House up to date on what's happening in Prince Rupert. Again, what is happening is kind of funny. It's not quite as comic as the Pier B-C convention centre — the longest seagull landing strip in the world — where they tore the sheds down. Do you know it's about three years while all this has been going on, without any idea of the cost. At Prince Rupert there's no deal on the handling charges in the new Port Authority. You will remember February 10, 1981, when the Minister of Industry and Small Business Development (Hon. Mr. Phillips) stood up and said: "We have a contract for the sale of our coal to Japan. It's the greatest thing that ever happened to the province of British Columbia, and much the biggest export of resources of any province anywhere." It was going to be this and it was going to be all that. There was no contract; they hadn't settled the handling charges then. The minister was misleading the House. Maybe he believed what he was saying. Even today the companies haven't signed the contracts. There's a letter of intent, signed last February; that's all. So you now have this picture: the BCR — under their good president, Mac Norris, and under orders
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from this government — is going ahead with the construction of the Anzac spur, with $53 million in contracts already out, and no contract. The $3 handling charge at Prince Rupert is only for the first five years; after that, the companies, very reasonably, say: "Well, we must know what the future is." Here again, as in B.C. Place, are all these other blunders that this government so ill-planned, like the natural-gas pipeline — I'm glad to see the minister in his place — that you announced with such confidence, until you got the facts. When you got the facts, you had to shoot it down. He got shot down. It never was there. Blunder, blunder, blunder! Bad management, bad management, bad management! Waste of millions on megamania. You just don't know what you're doing over there on that side of the House.
MR. MACDONALD: Never mind whether there were public hearings. You just didn't know what you were doing. You had no idea of the costs. You were shot down by your own colleagues in the cabinet. When the facts came in, the minister was exposed as not knowing what he was doing. It's just as simple as that. What's one more blunder from that government! That one never got off the ground, so it didn't cost nearly as much as some of these other things that have been going on.
In the northeast coalfields what has happened is that the order has come to halt, even though there is $53 million in contracts. There are no more tunnelling contracts to be let until they try and sort this thing out. That is harum-scarum planning. That is bad management. It is something that is of great financial concern to this province. There should be proper, businesslike planning; we see no exhibition of that whatsoever from the government benches.
I want to say something about the necessity of a code of public ethics in the province of British Columbia. I don't want to be sanctimonious about this. I think there is a serious erosion of the confidence of people in the credibility of politicians and the political process. I think that's a very dangerous thing. Once people feel that governments are putting something over on them, are up to tricks and are helping themselves, then they begin to drift away and they never again rebuild that confidence in democratic processes. It becomes very serious. I think politicians today are in ill repute. They were in King Lear's time too, it's true. He questioned their sincerity, when he said on the blasted heath: "Get thee glass eyes, and, like a scurvy politician, seem to see the things thou dost not." Today politicians are in ill repute; lawyers are too — deservedly, in many cases. They've got an awful lot to do.
Very quickly I can tell you about a case of some young fellow who was a boat person from Vietnam. He got into a domestic case through the courts. I'm saying it very quickly: custody of one child, separation, and how much he should pay his wife. He was a working guy, making not a bad salary of $20,000 or $30,000. He ended up with a 14-day trial over those two simple propositions in the Supreme Court of British Columbia and a bill from his own lawyer for $45,000. He's broke.and his child and wife are starving. The legal system is far worse than any problem that had to be addressed. The remedy was far worse than any disease.
The medical profession. I feel sorry for the good doctors that I run into throughout the province of British Columbia. When guys like Dr. Ray March, no matter how privileged they may be, ask for more, whine, complain, when there are other equally deserving people in this province, they should recognize that to some extent they have a position of privilege. The leaders of the B.C. Medical Association are giving a lot of very good doctors throughout this province a bad name. I get tired of hearing them complain.
So what should a code of this kind contain? I would say the first point is that we have to…. Sometimes it requires a law, and sometimes just a rule of conduct. But the first one I would say that we should address ourselves to is rules that would check the use of public money for partisan purposes of the government party.
That B.C. Government News that was issued with overtime and the special printers and everything just at the time of the last election in April 1979 was an example of what I'm saying. The current one, which I won't go through, is politics, full of the cabinet tour in the Kootenays and the Okanagan. The free meals — since when is it legitimate for a government to use taxpayers' money to feed and to give drinks to their friends at large luncheons and political gatherings?
I know that when a government provides information services it is not always easy to draw the line as to what is legitimate public information and what is subliminally and very often deliberately political propaganda paid for by the taxpayer. But obviously we've got to find that line and we've got to draw it.
Second, there should be control of patronage in the public service, apart from the ministerial assistants, who are political, and we recognize that. But the public service competitions are becoming a bit of a joke. Merit is not being considered in government appointments. Increasingly, politics is the criterion. I recognize that any minister, if he's got a social program to carry out, should have somebody sympathetic to that program. But the real test has to be merit as well as willingness to work through that program.
Third, there should be impartial bodies in open hearings in place of closed appeals to political friends. I refer to what has happened in the case of neighbourhood pubs, where a political appeal was allowed so that the friends of the government could be rewarded with neighbourhood pub licences after they had been turned down by the impartial tribunal known as the liquor control administration. I've given those examples and I'll give them again. I refer to the politics that was allowed to creep into the agricultural land reserve so that releases can be obtained by friends of the government, and always wealthy friends, through the political process, by going to their friends in cabinet. That is wrong. We've seen land slip out of :that for partisan political purposes, as a reward. The Minister of Energy (Hon. Mr. McClelland) — who made that fine speech on behalf of Gloucester and then suddenly got very pure and said, "but I'm not going to vote," after counting the committee and seeing that his vote wasn't necessary — is one of the worst offenders.
Point number four is freedom of information: to guarantee by law public access to public documents. I don't believe that should be accomplished with a large office of government set up in a bureaucracy. I think it should be a simple law that enables somebody in a disputed case to go and make a simple court application to see whether or not that information should be released. Some of the suppressed documents of this government, of which I suspect volume two of the coal report by Armstrong is by far the most significant, have had terrible effects in terms of the economy.
[ Page 6701 ]
You know, that report, with its recommendations, was suppressed, and then the reserve was taken off the issuing of coal leases, and on an over-the-counter basis without any bidding, in a period of two months 500 square miles of the coal lands of British Columbia were alienated forever — mostly to great international oil companies from foreign parts — and volume two of the coal report was suppressed, with its recommendations as to how we should have acted in that situation to protect the equity of the people of the province of British Columbia.
Thirdly, electoral boundaries should be set by known rules, impartially, with judicial review where requested. It makes me laugh, as we look at the comic scene…. One minute. I've got to do this quickly. When Eckardt takes the fifth amendment, something is rotten in the state of British Columbia. Did he give the ombudsman his name? All he's ever said about his report is that the worms are coming out of the woodwork.
I would like to talk more about that, but I think it's disgraceful that we appoint a public servant and he fights to be able to refuse to say what went on in his commission and hires a lawyer and takes the fifth amendment. It's disgraceful.
The sixth — because I'm running out of time — is laws to limit and disclose campaign contributions so elections can't be bought and so that corrupt influence would not be brought to bear on government.
So I'm throwing these things out, and I'd appreciate consideration of them from all members on all sides of the House and from the public. I think there should be certain basic rules of conduct — again, trying not to be sanctimonious about it — where an individual could say: "I will not be part of a government that doesn't live up to these simple rules." What I'm suggesting is that we embark on consideration so that we can begin the process of restoring confidence in the integrity of government, politicians and the democratic process.
MR. KEMPF: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how I'll follow the act that we've just seen on the floor of this House, but I'll try. I don't very often agree with the second member for Vancouver East, but I certainly must agree — and I know we're not debating the justice system here this morning — with that member when he says we have problems in this country and this province with the justice system. I'd just like to read into the record a little quote that I keep close at hand and read from time to time when I read of certain circumstances that have happened in our courts: "Sometimes the failure of justice is worse than the crime itself." Mr. Speaker, I certainly believe that a lot of that is happening in our society in Canada here today.
It is once again my great pleasure and, certainly, my privilege to stand in my place in this House and speak on behalf of the people of Omineca. It is a privilege because the people whom I represent are proud, hard-working people. They are proudly Canadian and proudly British Columbian, believing, without question, in the right of the individual, whether or not that individual be male or female, Indian or white and, certainly, whether or not that right be enshrined in a constitution and whether or not that constitution be lodged in London or Ottawa.
Mr. Speaker, charters of rights do not rest in legislation alone or in a constitution but rather lie in the hearts and minds of all people. In this country, no act, pact, treaty or organization can hope to preserve human rights without wholehearted support and commitment from all of the people of Canada.
The people of Omineca believe without question in the democratic process, the system within which we all here in the chamber are given the responsibility to speak for our constituents in a democratic way and in a Canadian way, not believing in the way in which, all around us today, we see that very democratic process abused, our freedoms eroded, our very individual rights placed in serious jeopardy by irresponsible groups in our society out to get their way, irrespective of anyone else's rights and by whatever means necessary.
The citizens whom I represent abhor that kind of action. It's dangerous, not only to the rights of the individual, but also to the very foundation of the democratic system itself. I've said that the people of Omineca are proud people, and they are. I'm proud to represent people who have such a philosophy and who are generally not looking for government handouts. They are, rather, a people who wish to be left alone to their own devices, with as little government intervention into their everyday lives as is possible, asking only for the right, which in my mind is the primary, basic human right, to be able to live in an atmosphere in which they as the citizens of this province may have the right to choose whether or not they can make it on their own. They ask the government to provide only the basics: a fair and equitable justice system, and we talked about that earlier this morning; good health facilities; programs to take care of the elderly and the handicapped; a proper, well-kept transportation system. As I mentioned previously, it’s an atmosphere in which individual enterprise and initiative can be shown.
Mr. Speaker, in His Honour's opening speech of last Monday, he speaks of these kinds of initiatives, steps to assist those with a little of their own personal initiative to own their own home. That's another basic human right: the right of ownership — not government ownership, as philosophized by some of the members opposite — not all of them, but some of them — but the right to personal ownership.
His Honour's speech spoke of optimism on the part of this province and this government about the future of British Columbia. It spoke not of doom and gloom, as some would have everyone believe, but rather of optimism. We should be optimistic. In fact, Mr. Speaker, we should be jubilant in British Columbia, for we have everything going for us in this province.
Certainly there is at present a downturn in our economy. There is all over the world. However, we in British Columbia can be very thankful at this point in time for having had a fiscally responsible government in office for the past six years. We are most fortunate indeed, for we find ourselves, because of forethought, planning and fiscal responsibility, in a very enviable position, not only in North America but all over the world. Yes, our mining and lumber industries are hurting. But were it not for the stability which we have seen under this government in this province for the last six years, and the upgrading, retooling and reinvestment…. They set an atmosphere for those industries to embark upon. Had it not been for that, those companies which operate today…. Yes, some of them have cut back to four days a week, but had it not been for the economic stability that we've seen in the past six years, they would have been shut down now. Had it not been for the vision of this administration, we would not at this time have had the jobs created by a strong private sector to carry us over the difficult times. Had it not been for brave, forward planning by this government,
[ Page 6702 ]
we would not at this time have to take up some of the slack created by a worldwide economic downturn.
Projects such as northeast coal, B.C. Place and many others are creating thousands of jobs all over British Columbia in times of worldwide economic downturn, enhancing not only the gross provincial product but, as well, the gross national product as well. Had it not been for fiscal responsibility in the province of British Columbia for the past six years, what would the provincial treasury look like? Where would the money come from for these kinds of job-producing projects? Yes, government has to provide seed money for such projects, but they're job-producing projects.
I found it funny when I listened to the NDP this morning speaking against ploughing government money into job creating projects. I thought that was their philosophy. They don't ever care whether they're going to get a return, but I thought it was the philosophy to plough the money in. I find it difficult to believe the kind of debate that I hear from that side of the House this morning.
What would this provincial treasury look like today had it not been for that kind of forward thinking? What if we had spent like drunken sailors, as we have seen others do while government in this province? Where would the people of this province of ours be now under those circumstances? I think those are interesting questions, not only to ask in this chamber but to ask all over this province. We have much to be thankful for, but all we can hear from the official opposition is doom and gloom.
When things get a little tougher in the north, we just dig in and work a little harder. Work, Mr. Speaker — it's never hurt anyone. In fact, it gives one an awful lot more to be proud of.
His Honour's speech talks of self-sufficiency in food production in British Columbia. I certainly support that philosophy. We have a solid agricultural industry in Omineca. I'm particularly proud of those engaged in that way of life, for they are true individual enterprisers. Self-sufficiency in food — a commendable goal in British Columbia. In order to attain that goal, every effort must be made to protect and retain bona fide farmland. Just in passing — and as you know, I couldn't pass up the opportunity — I must once again remind this House of the many thousands of acres of land, which will never be farmland, never contribute to the self-sufficiency in food which we seek, land that is still locked within an archaic, ill-conceived agricultural land reserve brought in by a former government of this province not as a tool to protect farmland, but rather as a means of land control in an effort, to carry out their philosophy of total government ownership. Land which is not farmland and which never will be farmland must be removed from this reserve, eliminating a fictitious land shortage facing the people of British Columbia and eliminating as well a fictitiously high price of land in this province.
Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to see in His Honour's speech mention of the appointment of our colleague, Hon. Stephen Rogers, to the Cabinet Committee on Planning and Priorities. This could be a positive step in ensuring the people of the Nechako Valley that the proposed Kemano completion project gets the scrutiny it so justly deserves.
The Aluminum Company of Canada recently embarked upon a province-wide, multithousand-dollar advertising campaign, designed for no other reason than to brainwash the people of British Columbia as to the merits of their proposed smelter project prior to providing the people who live along the Nechako River answers to three simple questions, which I would like to get into the record here this morning:
1. How much water do you have, given your outdated water licence?
2. How much water do you want to satisfy your total needs?
3. How much water will remain in the Nechako River on a daily basis after Kemano Completion?
These three simple questions are not yet answered by the Aluminum Company of Canada. It's a brainwashing campaign, Mr. Speaker, prior to giving the people in the area concerned the answers to those three simple questions, and prior to clearing any further hurdles here in Victoria or going to the people in public hearings.
I beseech the minister as a member of that committee to remember that Kemano Completion is no ordinary hydroelectric project, no ordinary development. It calls for the diversion of waters from one watershed to another, and in the same process, the possible devastation of a total river system.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
I see proposed in His Honour's speech new legislation to deal with the protection and preservation of our wildlife and waterfowl. On behalf of sportsmen, ranchers and anyone else in this province who truly loves and understands the outdoors, I applaud such a positive step, a step which must be taken — and taken soon — if we are to even retain the wildlife which we presently enjoy in British Columbia. Unless this is done and unless that legislation is drafted to include a positive predator-control program, we will have no wildlife in this province. Unless we as legislators have enough intestinal fortitude to do what must be done, we will have no wildlife to protect in this province. A proper predator-control program is an integral part of good, sound wildlife management. Unless we have the courage of our convictions, unless we are prepared to do a complete job, we need not take wildlife management as our goal, because we will have no wildlife to manage. Logic and truth must prevail if we seriously believe in protecting our wildlife heritage.
That same logic and truth, and not prejudice, must prevail in relation to the trapping industry in British Columbia. I realize, Mr. Speaker, that I would be out of order to dwell at length on this subject in this debate, and I'll address the subject later in the right form. We in this chamber must tread carefully with any policy which would bring about the loss of an entire industry in our province. That is the ground on which we tread when we look to the elimination of a device used effectively — and as humanely as devices suggested to take its place — for some 200 years in our country. Eliminating that device before a usable alternative is found — that is the ground on which we tread when we talk of banning the leghold trap in this province. Mr. Speaker, I'll have more to say about that in the future.
There are many other positive moves which I see in His Honour's speech. The continued vigorous highway construction and maintenance program. Increased emphasis on health-care facilities. Tougher laws for the drivers of this province, in order to curb the terrible carnage now taking place on our highways. Still more emphasis on programs for our elderly and mentally handicapped. Pension reform. Electoral reform. Further emphasis on the arts and sports and recreation. These are positive moves for a positive province, a province on the move, in spite of the economic downturn which is worldwide — positive moves which I can support on behalf of those whom I represent here in this House.
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In closing, I would make reference to a few words in His Honour's speech which may have gone unnoticed by many, and which I believe enunciate a policy which if instigated, would be most significant, most beneficial to the people of this province. They are the words, few in number but large in meaning, which allude to the privatization of some government activities. Big government is not necessarily good government, and any move to reduce the size of government will receive my wholehearted support, my undivided support, my total support. We must, particularly now, get serious about reducing the size of government, and any move in that direction is certainly a positive one.
Mr. Speaker, before taking my place, I wish to quote a few words written by two well-known authors and economists. I heard the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea) mention one of them the other day, and I know that, because of the member's philosophy, he cannot ever agree with Milton and Rose Friedman's philosophy. I know the Friedmans are correct in their philosophy, and I pray that in this quotation, which I take directly from one of their books, their sense of timing is correct also.
"Fortunately we are waking up. We are again recognizing the dangers of an overgoverned society and are coming to understand that good objectives can be perverted by bad means. Reliance on the freedom of people to control their own lives in accordance with their own values is the surest way to achieve the full potential of a great society. Fortunately also we are, as a people, still free to choose which way we should go, whether to continue along the road we have been following to ever-bigger government or to call a halt and change direction."
MR. STUPICH: Earlier today in the gallery there was a group of 11 students from Woodlands Junior Secondary School in Nanaimo, led by their teacher Peter Crest. I was hoping to get an opportunity to welcome them when I rose to speak, but they have gone, I believe. I would simply like to recognize the fact that they were here, and hope that they learned something from the exchange so far today — not as much as then would have learned had they stayed a little longer.
Briefly I would like to comment with respect to one issue raised by the hon. member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf). It's a favourite topic of his. Certainly he's in line with the thoughts of the Premier on this subject. Unfortunately, he's in line with the thoughts of the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Hewitt), and, prior to that, with the Minister of Environment (Hon. Mr. Rogers) — that is, with respect to the agricultural land reserve policy. It's okay, Mr. Minister, you've heard me before. You know how I feel about it, and I know how you feel about it.
The hon. member for Omineca talks about taking out of the agricultural land reserve land that has no business being in there and will never be of any use in food production. He applauds the fact that I am recalling his words in the way he intended them to be heard. He wasn't in the House when we had the long debate and discussions on bringing in the legislation.
MR. KEMPF: No, but I was out there.
MR. STUPICH: He was out there where the work was being done in the field. He may have been aware at the time that when the land was first frozen the only land included within the boundaries of the so-called land freeze was land that had been previously zoned as agricultural land by local government, or land on which individuals had been paying taxes at the farmer rate of tax because they claimed it was good farmland. Those were the only areas included within the boundaries of the original freeze.
He may recall that when the reserve boundaries were first proposed by the Department of Agriculture and sent out, they went first to the regional districts. In almost every case, the regional districts cut back the boundaries from those originally proposed. Even his regional districts had this opportunity to do so. He may recall that every municipality was persuaded to exclude from the proposed agricultural land reserves enough land to provide for five years of in-filling. He may recall that; he may not. He may recall that there were public hearings sponsored by every regional district. There was the opportunity for people to come and put their case to the regional district. When the boundaries were presented to the Land Commission, they were much smaller than were the original boundaries sent to those regional districts by the Department of Agriculture. He may recall that in almost every instance the Land Commission itself cut those boundaries back even farther, because it was aware of developments that were not always well known in the regional districts. He may recall that when it finally went to the Environment and Land Use Committee, in most cases there were further cutbacks,
I don't deny the fact that in some instances there is land in the agricultural land reserve that shouldn't be there. But for him to suggest that when the total arable land in the province is something less than 4 percent of our total area and that by excluding from the existing land reserve boundaries the land that shouldn't be in those land reserve boundaries we would then have enough land for the housing needs in the province and enough land available that the price of land would decrease, is simply closing his eyes and his ears and his mind to all the facts that are known by everyone else in the province.
If the total percentage of land in the agricultural land reserves were released, even land that anyone would consider unsuitable for agricultural production, it would have no effect on land prices and no real effect on the amount of land available for housing. He knows these things, Mr. Speaker. The Premier knows them and the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Hon. Mr. Hewitt) knows them. Yet they keep talking about the opportunities to remove that land from agricultural land reserves. When they talk about those opportunities, they don't talk about the Gloucester estates land removal. They don't talk about the Spetifore land removal. They don't talk about those large areas of top-grade agricultural land that can be removed.
The hon. member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) said the land is locked in. Mr. Speaker, you know and he knows that all he has to do if he has a bit of land that he wants taken out is get the ear of the cabinet minister and have him put it through by order-in-council. It's just that simple. If he's a friend of a cabinet minister or if he has a friend left in cabinet, he can go to him and have that land removed. It's just that easy. Unfortunately, the land is not locked in. I would that it were locked in. The member for Omineca knows this as well as everyone else and prefers to talk about the agricultural land reserves in the hope that the government of the day will eventually have the courage of its own convictions and do away with that land protection completely — go back to the days when first-
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come, first-served covered up developed agricultural land for so-called higher uses, get rid of the problem and get rid of the problems of serving the agricultural industry as well.
The Minister of Universities, Science and Communications (Hon. Mr. McGeer), spoke earlier in the debate today. I made a note of one of the questions he put to us. "If you are against nuclear power…." Well, there's certainly no question where we stand on that. We are against it. But I wonder where he stands now. There has been some doubt in the past about that particular minister — well, not too much doubt, I guess. I think as far as he's concerned, he is in favour of nuclear power. He's not saying too much about it these days, but certainly when he puts the question to us there's a unanimous voice from this side of the House. We are against nuclear power development in the province of British Columbia. We make that very clear. There's no question about it.
He spoke of his former colleague, Gordon Gibson. Well might he call him his former colleague. I think that Gordon Gibson would not be so proud to speak of the Minister of Universities, Science and Communications as his former colleague. He probably would prefer to forget that they were colleagues at one time, in view of that minister's record in politics. But at least one can say that Gordon Gibson did stay true to his political colours when he left office. He still represented the same party that he did when he came into office, and to the best of my knowledge he still supports that party even though he quarrels with some of the decisions taken by that party.
MR. STUPICH: You say he changed? Did he join another one?
MR. STUPICH: There speaks one who was once very prominent in the Conservative Party, when there used to be a Conservative Party in the province of British Columbia. Then a politically opportunistic opportunity arose, and that member suddenly found that his convictions had changed. So easy to drop one jacket and change colour, and now he calls himself a Social Crediter. Are you really a Social Crediter? Mr. Speaker, I should be talking to you, not to him.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Let's return to the debate.
MR. STUPICH: I seem to have touched a nerve there, Mr. Speaker. I feel for some of those people who once had political principles and chose to shed them for political opportunism.
The Minister of Universities, Science and Communications said a curious thing to me about running out of natural gas centuries down the road. If he really thinks our supplies of natural gas are going to last for centuries, then certainly he's much more optimistic about the long-range possibilities of natural gas than anyone else that I've ever seen or heard from. I've heard people talk optimistically about several decades — to the turn of the century, or something like that. That's just twenty years away, but he talks about natural gas in B.C. lasting for centuries. He's basing B.C.'s future energy requirements on that and planning how we're going to drive our automobiles and drive our industry? His belief is that we have practically inexhaustible supplies of natural gas. Mr. Speaker, is that really what he meant to say? I hope later in the debate there'll be an opportunity for him to tell us if that is really what he meant. I can't believe that anyone would believe that we have centuries of supply of natural gas.
In the throne speech itself, I suppose I could come back to agriculture as one of the examples of industry that has been let down by this present government. I'm thinking particularly of a plant that is just on the verge of closing completely. I know there have been a lot of jokes in the house about the acquisition of Panco Poultry. Mr. Speaker, when we acquired Panco Poultry for a price of $4.1 million, we acquired an asset that was worth on the market, even in those days, in excess of $10 million. It was a good purchase for the people of British Columbia. We maintained in operation a processing plant that would have closed down had we stood idly by. We maintained employment. The plant was operating; the people were working. This government came into office and started its policy of privatization, as I think it's called in the throne speech, and was determined to sell Panco Poultry and did, for a net gain to the people of British Columbia of some $13 million with no strings. That great American company, that benefactor of B.C. agriculture, came in with apparently no strings at all and bought the processing plant and the hatchery and is now selling out and closing down. So we're losing the employment, we're losing the processing facility, and how much money is Cargill going to make out of this deal that it made with the government of British Columbia? People lose work. The processing facility is lost. The government made money on the deal and has blown it since. Cargill, no doubt, will make a lot of money out of the deal, but B.C. is the loser.
That's the kind of help that this government is prepared to offer industry in the province of British Columbia. Agriculture is only one example of it. There are others, but that's the one that comes to mind right now, with those people, some of them with 18 years' experience in that one processing plant…. Where are they going to go to find work? It doesn't really matter to this government; they're not concerned. The loss of the processing plant is not important to them. The only thing that matters is that a deal that we got into for $4 million, they were able to get out of for $14 million; turn a handsome profit and they're out of it. There's no responsibility at all for the poultry industry and no responsibility at all for the people who were working there. Some of them are still working there, but they've all been told they'll be finished by January 15.
MR. RITCHIE: You bungled up the industry.
MR. STUPICH: While I was there, Panco Poultry continued operating — at a profit. The people in the industry were making a living. They were offered and accepted farm income insurance. The agricultural industry was doing much better in those days than it's doing today. Certainly, coming from the agriculture committee, as you do, you know that the agricultural industry was doing much better under the NDP administration than it is under the lack of assistance from the present administration.
I want to get on with perhaps one of the main areas of promise in the throne speech, and that is to do with something that I think everyone would agree is the most serious problem
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in the province right now: the lack of affordable housing. I would think there's more reference to that one problem in the throne speech than there is to any other problem. There's not really that much promise of what's going to happen, but a lot of vague hints, and that's not unusual for a throne speech. I'm not being critical on that point.
What I had hoped, Mr. Speaker — and I've made this point in other debates — is that sometime during the throne speech debate, possibly sometime during the budget debate, the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing (Hon. Mr. Chabot) would take time to embark upon an immersion course with whoever it is that has drawn up these ideas about housing, so that he will have some idea as to what he is supposed to be talking about in housing and so he can come into the House and tell us, so that we'll all know and so that the public will know just what the government has in mind.
It would appear from newspaper accounts of a special press conference he called to explain the program that he had forgotten to be briefed before he went into that press conference. He couldn't explain the program, didn't know what it was all about, and really admitted that, unless Ottawa was prepared to carry the ball, little would be accomplished in the programs hinted at in this speech.
The government is concerned about the shortage of money to get going on these programs. The hon. member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) mentioned the reference to the highway program — continued emphasis on highway programs. Just this morning I saw in the paper that the Minister of Transportation and Highways (Hon. Mr. Fraser) was saying that he could cut back on highway and bridge construction. They can cut back on those programs. They can cut back on housing programs. They can cut back minimally in Health. The Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) said that he could cut back on urban transit development. There is some reference in the throne speech to the importance of proceeding with this urban transit.
There is also this vague reference in the throne speech to "privatization" — read that word and see just exactly what it is — of select government activities. One wonders whether this has something to do with highway construction, house construction or any of the other programs that the government would like to embark upon but finds itself too financially strapped to do so. This government has been in office for some six years during a period of unparalleled prosperity. During this period of time B.C.'s budget has more than doubled. The total revenue collected in the year ending March 31, 1976, was just short of $3 billion. We don't have the actual figures for 1981-82, but the estimate for the year ending March 1982 — and it isn't going to be far short of that — is $6.6 billion. That's an increase of almost two and a quarter times.
They've had all this money to work with, and now because there is a turndown in the forest industry they have to talk about curtailing government activities, cutting back on programs and withdrawing services, urging the ministers to come in with recommendations as to what services can be pulled back completely and which can be cut down — all of which is going to cost the people of the province something. They talk about the optimism. They talk about the medium-term security, how well the province is endowed with natural resources and how bright the future is. Yet because there is a turndown in this one year, they come here and admit that in the last six years, having collected over $30 billion, they are in no position to keep the economy moving until the forest industry turns around, and they expect that to happen next year. Having taken in all that money, they can't keep the economy going for less than a year until it turns around, as they expect it will.
They talk about a balanced budget, but they have absolutely no hesitation in borrowing if they borrow it out of the other pocket. If they borrow it in the name of one of the Crown corporations, that's a different matter. They talk about privatization. Are we to see the Highways ministry turned over to a Crown corporation so that they can then borrow money? It won't mean going into debt. That won't be deficit financing. They create the Crown corporation and then they can borrow and add to the contingent liabilities. Are they going to do that with some of the other government services? Are they going to privatize health care so that they can borrow fantastic amounts of money there and still run a break-even budget? What does that mean? No one on the government side of the House has bothered to explain this. Why put it in there if it doesn't mean anything? Why put it in there if no one on that side of the House is prepared to stand up and tell us what it means?
Contingent liability to the province — that is the money borrowed out of the other pocket — on March 31, 1976, stood at $4.5 billion. Just six years later, by March 31, 1982, the government tells us that the figure will be just short of $10 billion — again, more than doubled. An additional $5.5 billion was borrowed in this six years under the name of Crown corporations. It would seem as though the total is unlimited as long as it is done in the name of some Crown corporation rather than in the name of a government program. Is that what the government means by privatization? Apart from wiping out special funds, apart from drawing down on other special funds, apart from calling on Crown corporations to make grants or to repay loans or whatever, the government is also going to privatize something or other.
It seems to me the government has a responsibility to tell us just what is meant by these things that are thrown into the throne speech. What is meant by privatization? What is meant by the housing program that the minister had to admit he couldn't understand, couldn't explain, didn't know about, hadn't had an opportunity to find out about? What do they mean by these programs" What's the point of putting them in the throne speech and then having cabinet minister after cabinet minister stand up and make political speeches without elaborating on the words that they have had included in the throne speech?
Was the whole of the throne speech written by the experts of Ontario? Was there no dialogue between the ministers and those experts — or whatever you want to call them? Some of them, it would appear, are not as expert as they were thought to be. Surely there was some opportunity for dialogue between the various ministers and the people writing the speech. Surely there was some opportunity for them to get to know what the speech means. If the ministers themselves don't know enough about it, aren't convinced about the announcements in the throne speech and aren't able to stand up and explain to the members of the House just what is going on — and those outside experts don't have an opportunity to stand in the House — when are we going to find out what this government has in mind for the people of British Columbia to deal with the problems that are facing us? Certainly housing is the most important problem, but we don't have any answers. After reading the throne speech, and having heard from those various cabinet members who have stood so far in
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this debate and from the hon. member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf), all we have are more questions as to exactly what the government has in mind.
Certainly we have questions about the future of industry, finances and development in the province, but we're not getting the answers. All of us have questions about our own ridings. The Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) was in Nanaimo and promised help for downtown development, and I'd like to think that that minister will deliver that help when the city of Nanaimo comes to him with detailed plans. But having heard of the memo which the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Curtis) sent out, I wonder whether, in spite of his best intentions, there just won't be any money.
I'm wondering about the road development plans that the Minister of Highways (Hon. Mr. Fraser) has been discussing with the people from Nanaimo. Does it mean, when the plans are ready, that the Minister of Finance will say there's no money for that? I'm sure every member in the House has concerns about what isn't going on in his own riding that needs to be done. And yet we're told that there will be no money.
Yesterday we were talking about forestry and the fact that some 20 percent of the IWA workforce is unemployed right now. I'm sure they'll be encouraged to read in the throne speech that there are going to be a lot of jobs in coal production in the Peace River — 6,000 jobs in the construction period, 5,000 permanent jobs thereafter. Every announcement I've seen scares me, because they say that when those jobs are opened we won't have the trained people in the province of British Columbia ready to take those jobs. We're going to have to import the workers. At the same time as the IWA members are unemployed, we're going to be looking around the world for people to take these permanent jobs that are being offered in the northeast. Why aren't we training those people? The government admits that they're going to be short of the skilled workers necessary for that northeast coal development.
. There's been no denial that the contracts have not yet been signed. We're spending all that money — and who knows whether or not we'll ever get anything out of it? Who knows whether we will ever recover the subsidies that are going into that northeast coal development? We just don't know at this point. The government hasn't seen fit to give the details of that discussion to the people of the province. The people of the province are being told that they're going to have to subsidize it to the extent of…how many billion? We aren't even told that. I think the budget speech said in the spring of this year that it was in excess of $1 billion; but one wonders just how much we are going to pay to create 5,000 permanent jobs in the Peace River. How much are we going to pay so that the Japanese will be able to buy our coal cheaper than they'll be able to buy somebody else's? Now that's great for the economy.
We've said over and over that we're not opposed to northeast coal development, but we are opposed to paying anyone to buy our coal. We are opposed to creating jobs for people when we don't have the people to work in those jobs, and at the same time doing nothing to create jobs for the people who are able, willing and anxious to go to work in this province.
The Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland) admits that there are things that he's doing right now and that he could be doing further than he's doing if he had more money. A couple of years ago a range and forest improvement fund was set up. I believe it was $140 million. Now, when there are unemployed IWA members who could work thinning trees, limbing trees, preparing land for planting trees and all of the work that could be done in the forest, the minister has that money sitting, ready and available. Is he going to wait until the economy turns around and we get into another boom and then start spending that fund? Or has he spent it already? We've heard nothing from the Minister of Forests as to exactly what he's doing.
HON. MR. WATERLAND: Come to the Legislature.
MR. STUPICH: The minister invites me to come to the Legislature. Mr. Speaker, I'll come to the Legislature, and when I'm not able to be present, I'll keep an eye on what the Minister of Forests is saying. And when he does speak, I'll be interested in seeing what he has to say about putting the unemployed 20 percent of IWA members to work at useful projects in the province of British Columbia at a time when the forest industry has turned down to the extent that it has.
I have faith in the future of the forest industry of this province. I'm satisfied that markets will develop and that they'll want our product. We shouldn't close our eyes to that situation and say we're going to wait until everybody goes to work, and then we're going to compete for those workers to put them to work in the forest. Now is the time to be putting those unemployed people back to work doing the kind of work that has been neglected in this province for decades. We speeded up the process during the short time we were in office and more has happened since during the six years that this minister has been in office, but if there is any honesty in him, he will have to admit that much more remains to be done. He is in a position now to be able to do something about that problem — about the thousands of acres of forest land that have not been satisfactorily restocked, about the various programs that could be gone into in forestry and about the $100-odd million I hope he has left in that fund that could be used for some of these projects. But what is he doing? Is that money being saved for northeast coal as well or for some of the other megaprojects?
Mr. Speaker, the government seems to be determined to sit back and wait for the economy to improve before it does anything, to urge people to cut back and urge restraint, at the same time as the budget increases. As I pointed out, over $30 billion has been collected in the last six years, and what do they have to show for it? With all of that money having come in, the moment the economy turns down the government has to tighten the screws and start urging the cutback of programs. Mr. Speaker, they have let down the people of this province. They've let down the employers of this province, let down industry and let down the workers — they've let down British Columbia. While they've been arguing about the constitution in Ottawa, people in British Columbia have been suffering. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (Hon. Mr. McClelland) yawns about it; he is not at all concerned.
MR. STUPICH: He's yawning at me? I am pleased, Mr. Speaker, that he has something to contribute to this debate, even if it's just a yawn at me. I think that's about all he will have to contribute to the debate. I don't recall him making
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any contribution at any other time. I'd like to hear him say something about the natural gas pipeline to Vancouver Island, to bring us up to date. However, I expect that will bring forward another yawn, Mr. Speaker. In yawning, he is saying as eloquently as anything else can say everything that this government is prepared to do to improve the economy, to provide jobs and to provide affordable housing in the province of British Columbia. All we can expect from that minister, from his fellow ministers and from this government is one big yawn.
HON. MR. HEWITT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place today to support the throne speech. In the few minutes we have left I'd like to touch on a number of issues that come to mind after hearing the people across the way make certain comments.
For example, the member for Nanaimo raised the question about the agricultural land reserve. Just a few days ago I was in Cranbrook where I guess some people may say I took a little heat. But I have to tell you that at one point in time, Mr. Speaker, I sat behind the member for Nanaimo, who was in the audience. He should have been here, of course, because the House was called, but he was up there in the audience at the convention. The Leader of the Opposition was holding forth in his usual manner.
The Leader of the Opposition is quite a performer. But I have never seen — and I hope I don't see again — a politician get on a hook that he couldn't get off. First of all, he didn't have too much to say but, secondly, what he did say only got him into deeper water. He commented on what they had done when they were in office, and he made the comment about the agricultural land reserves. He was expounding in his usual manner and then he stated at one point in his address: "The people came out and they marched on the lawns of the Legislature. All those real estate farmers came down on the lawns of the Legislature and yelled and screamed." Well, I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the member for Nanaimo who was sitting in front of me just shuddered. He took off his glasses and put his head down. I'm sure he said to himself: "What has this man done now? Why did he bother showing up in Cranbrook?" The statement that the Leader of the Opposition made to the assembly of farmers who were sitting there…. I'd suggest that probably 50 percent or 75 percent of those people sitting in that room were down here on the lawns of the Legislature at that time. They were the same people, the bona fide hard-working farmers of this province, and the Leader of the Opposition calls them real estate farmers. They told him, because when they asked him questions at the end of his speech, they were mad. Those people questioned the Leader of the Opposition. They said he'd made a nice speech, but how could he stand up there and call them real estate farmers, when these are the people who provide our food in this province? That's what the Leader of the Opposition thinks of them. They're farming real estate. I think that's shameful, and he should apologize to the Federation of Agriculture of this province.
They went on to point out to him and to the former Minister of Agriculture, I'm sure…. I think he shuddered again when he heard the name Tilbury Island, because this morning he talked about the comments that were made by the member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) about land that is in the agricultural land reserve that shouldn't be. But a colleague of that former Minister of Agriculture, the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk), who was the minister of economic undevelopment at that time, took Tilbury Island out of the reserve — class 1 land — and converted it into an industrial area. Yet they're standing up there, and this member across the way and his leader said: "We preserve the good farmland forever and a day." They took out class 1 land at Tilbury Island. The farmers at Cranbrook let them know that they took that property out. There are other cases — Milner Valley and others. My colleagues around me are giving me all sorts of names.
So they talk one way, Mr. Speaker, but they certainly act another when they are in a position of power. I think the people of this province should recognize that.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to spend a few minutes on Panco Poultry, because I think it's important that I make a few comments at this particular time. The member for Nanaimo is correct that Panco Poultry is, at the present time, cutting down production. If there isn't a purchaser, it will close down. One of the problems we've had in the agricultural sector, particularly in the production and processing of poultry, is that we basically have had three processing plants when we should have had two and a half, and that makes it very difficult. When Cargill determined that they could not continue to operate after they had spent about $2 million in capital expenditures and, since they purchased the plant, I believe, had suffered a loss of about $2.5 million, we met with them — when I say "we," I mean I and the ministry staff, the marketing boards involved, the poultry associations and Cargill — to discuss whether or not Panco could continue and, secondly, if not, what our plan was to take up the slack with regard to processing facilities in this province. We met two months ago. We've developed a plan for the worst case, which is: if there is not a purchaser for that plant, then we will be moving to absorb that production into the remaining two plants. If in the long term the plant is not purchased and does close down, then we will be making moves to ensure that we can handle that production by improved lines, additional equipment, etc. in the remaining two plants.
MR. STUPICH: By January 15?
HON. MR. HEWITT: The member for Nanaimo shouts across the floor: "By January 15?" Well, I can tell the member for Nanaimo that in the discussions we've had in the past and in the work that's been going on, we identified the worst case first of all. We identified the short-term problem, which was how to handle that production, and then we identified the long-term solution — if Panco Poultry does in fact close its doors. We are working with the industry on this. It's not like the NDP walking in, purchasing a plant, and then getting involved politically. I don't have to tell you that. The NDP talked about jobs: "We bought the plant to protect jobs." Then in 1975 they turned around and used those same employees…. Do you remember when the member for Surrey used those employees, and basically said: "If that Social Credit government gets elected, you're going to be out of a job." That's what he said.
MR. COCKE: That's exactly what happened.
HON. MR. HEWITT: Can you believe that it's six years after the fact, and the member for New Westminster is still saying that's exactly what happened? That was the forecast that the man who was running in Surrey attempted to put across, using people. I think there was a lesson to be learned. I know the people from Surrey recognized just what he was saying, and they said: "We don't want that kind of politician in our area. We don't want him." So they turfed him out, and
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brought in the now Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm), who has been here since 1975. The only reason that the other member got back into the House is that there happened to be two seats in Surrey, which allowed him to get in. Then they criticized us for changing the number of seats in the House, and redistribution and all that, and one of their members snuck in the back door. Why did we do that? The member for New Westminster says that's exactly what happened. What he doesn't say is that government interference in the economic community, which they haven't understood yet…. The member for New Westminster, when he was involved in ICBC and got the government influence right in there in the works, said to everybody: "You can have car insurance for $25." Then he literally watched that organization go zoom, zoom, zoom all the way down to where, when we came in, the now Minister of Universities, Science and Communications (Hon. Mr. McGeer) had to go in there and clean up a mess of a magnitude never before known in the insurance business.
He, who calls me a bookkeeper from time to time, bless his heart — he's supposed to be an insurance man, a knowledgeable man in insurance. I don't know where they get their education from. For some reason or other they think that governments should automatically go in and prop up every business around — or if not prop it up, buy it. It's true; I want to show you. I've got it here somewhere. Here it is: "NDP Will Buy the Mills." Now this is what the Leader of the Opposition said because we had a mill closing down on Vancouver Island. Very unfortunate, but closing down.
HON. MR. GARDOM: When did he say that?
HON. MR. HEWITT: Oh, not too long ago: November 4, 1981, as a matter of fact. He said: "We'll buy the mills." So he's going to take the taxpayers' money from an economy that's got to generate revenues to provide taxes for services to people, such as health, education, and human resources; he'll take that money and go out and buy a mill. If another one fails, he'll buy that one. If another one fails, he'll buy that one. He'll buy them all, but where's he going to get the money? Tinkertoy economics. He doesn't recognize the fact that there just isn't an endless supply of money.
You know what the Leader of the Opposition said in Cranbrook? I'll tell you what he said. He said to the farmers, when they asked him what his policy would be…. I wish I had the exact quote. I have a tape of the speech, by the way; I should bring it in. He said they would buy the farmland. One of the farmers came to me afterwards and said: "I appreciate that, because I know now where I can sell the property. I don't want to work any more, and I can't find a buyer for my property, but I can sell it to the government." He said: "I've got a problem, though. If they get back in again, they won't have money to buy anything. So I lose it if they get in and, the way the economic system is at the present time because of the federal government's fiscal policy, I'm losing now because of high interest rates and increased costs."
MR. SPEAKER: Will the member for New Westminster (Mr. Cocke) please come to order? Please proceed.
HON. MR. HEWITT: Mr. Speaker, I just want to close on a light note because it's Friday afternoon. [Applause.] They may not clap after this.
This is called "The Birdwatcher's Guide to Parliament Hill," and it identifies the various birds:
"Endee Peewee (socialistus creeponus). Habitat: this tiny, fierce bird is found in small numbers everywhere in Canada. Its loud voice, startling in so diminutive a creature, makes it seem more numerous than it really is. Markings: ranges from light pink to deep red. Diet: for many years this carnivorous bird has subsisted largely on old crow. Song: 'nationalize, nationalize, nationalize,' sung shrilly. Some observers believe the bird to be weak in the head."
Mr. Speaker, on that humorous comment I would move adjournment of debate until the next sitting of the House.
Hon. Mr. Gardom moved adjournment of the House.
MR. SPEAKER: Before we adjourn, hon. members, yesterday the member for Burnaby-Edmonds (Ms. Brown) sought to move adjournment of the House under standing order 35 to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely ratification by the federal government of the United Nations convention on the elimination of discrimination against women and requirements of ratification by the provinces.
The power under standing order 35 to set aside the regular daily business of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance has only been exercised under strict controls, as by its very nature it involves an interference with the assigned business of the House. Sir Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, seventeenth edition, page 365, indicates that the matter must be urgent, of recent occurrence and raised without delay. It says: "The fact that a grievance is continuing is not sufficient if it is not of recent occurrence. The fact that new information has been received regarding a matter that has been continuing for some time does not in itself make the matter one of urgency."
The member, in her statement, which I have gleaned from the Hansard transcript, stated that the province has not ratified an agreement, thereby indicating an ongoing situation which has the effect of taking the matter outside of the scope of standing order 35.
I would point out also for all hon. members that it is necessary under the standing order to hand a written statement of the matter to the Chair. I note in this case that the only document received by the Speaker was the proposed motion of adjournment.
MS. BROWN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say that I accept your ruling, because discrimination against women is certainly not a recent occurrence. It has been going on for many generations.
HON. MR. GARDOM: You're out of order. The whole time the government had done it, and you knew it. It was a spurious motion on your part.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MS. BROWN: You don't like that, do you? Imagine not ratifying equal pay for work of equal value. You're a disgrace.
MR. SPEAKER: Would the member please come to order.
HON. MR. GARDOM: I move the House do now adjourn.
The House adjourned at 12:40 p.m.