1982 Legislative Session: 4th Session, 32nd Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 1982
[ Page 7111 ]
Distribution of lottery tickets. Mr. Hall –– 7111
Travels of general manager of liquor distribution branch. Mr. Barnes –– 7112
Federal sanctions against Argentinean goods. Mr. Barrett –– 7113
Orders of the Day
Mr. Barnes –– 7113
Hon. Mr. Smith –– 7117
Mr. D'Arcy –– 7119
Mr. Davis –– 7123
Mr. Hanson –– 7125
Mr. Ritchie –– 7129
Mrs. Wallace –– 7133
Ombudsman of B.C., special report No 4. Mr. Speaker –– 7134
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 1982
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. BARNES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction. It's my honour and privilege to introduce two black southern African residents who are in the gallery this afternoon. Ms. Pashukemi Shoombe and Rev. Erastus Haikale are citizens of Namibia. Ms. Shoombe represents the South West Africa People's Organization — SWAPO, which is a women's council. Her home is a refugee camp in neighbouring Angola. Rev. Haikale is an Anglican priest and a chaplain for thousands of refugees from Namibia living in refugee camps, and he is from Zambia. Both Ms. Shoombe and Rev. Haikale attended a public meeting in Victoria last night on their national tour, leading to a Canadian solidarity conference in Ottawa from May 7 to May 9 to protest South African apartheid and the enslavement of millions of black nationals in that country and its protectorate of South West Africa.
Attending with them, Mr. Speaker, are four local residents: Mr. John Graham, board director of Victoria South African Action Coalition; Ms. Joyce Stewart, Ms. Peggie Munro and Mr. Louis Tremblay, members of Victoria South African Action Coalition; and Mr. Phil Fawcett, Victoria Interchurch World Development Education Committee. I ask the House to join me in making them welcome.
HON. MR. WOLFE: Could I also introduce Estelle Inman, a teacher from Camosun College, who is here today in the gallery with three of her students: Victor Menzies from Prince Rupert, Roderick Shuttleworth and Laura Sody. I ask the House to welcome these visitors.
MR. COCKE: Visiting us in the gallery today we have Ms. Sophie Weremchuk from that far-flung riding of Dewdney. Accompanying Miss Weremchuk is Miss Nell Joostema. I would ask the House to welcome those two guests.
HON. MR. HEWITT: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery we have with us today Colonel David Lightburn, who is currently stationed with the B.C. area headquarters in Vancouver. In July of this year Colonel Lightburn goes to Brussels as a military adviser to the Canadian ambassador to NATO. I ask the House to welcome him and wish him well in his trip to Brussels.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, a parliamentarian is your guest today. He is Mr. David Arblaster, a member of the House in New South Wales.
MR. HOWARD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to rise on a question of privilege.
MR. SPEAKER: Please state the matter briefly.
MR. HOWARD: It relates to a letter to the editor in today's Vancouver Province. Naturally, this is the earliest opportunity I have had to raise this matter. The letter appears to be under the name of or signed by the MLA for Richmond, the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Nielsen). It relates to a subject matter set down for consideration by this House, notice of motion thereof having been given by the government House Leader last week. Motion 21 on the order paper is the subject matter of that.
The question of privilege which exists is that the government, once having set down a notice of motion and leaving it sit there, thus enabling it to be a threat against theVancouver Province, does not then have the opportunity, I submit, to go outside and engage in public controversy and debate about matters that are set down for consideration in this House.
I say further, Mr. Speaker, that if such action were to continue, it could easily tend to bring the position of Your Honour and the Chair into greater disrepute, and that I consider….
MR. BARRETT: Settle it here. Call the motion.
MR. HOWARD: The motion, I submit, should have been called. That's the course of action that should have been taken, not to go outside the House and engage others in further controversy about this subject matter.
I'll table the paper in its full, as I'm required to do, Mr. Speaker. I would move a motion if Your Honour finds that I do have a prima facie case of privilege.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is prepared.
MR. HOWARD: The motion would be that the minister stand in his place to be admonished by Mr. Speaker for contemptuous action.
MR. SPEAKER: We'll take the matter under consideration, hon. member, and return a decision.
DISTRIBUTION OF LOTTERY TICKETS
MR. HALL: My question is to the Provincial Secretary, Mr. Speaker. It was announced by Mr. Barry Kelsey of the Ministry of Provincial Secretary that the provincial government is going to confiscate the lottery distribution network established by individual non-profit societies throughout the province. Did the minister authorize Mr. Kelsey's announcement?
HON. MR. WOLFE: Mr. Speaker, the member might appreciate me explaining that the sale and distribution of lottery tickets is under the administration of the Western Canada Lottery Foundation, of which the four western provinces are members. It has become necessary for this organization to change its distribution system in western Canada. The prime reason for this change has been the fact that the banks, through their many branches throughout the province here, in Saskatchewan and other places, are no longer prepared to handle the storage, control and distribution of these tickets. So it became a matter of obligation on behalf of the Western Canada Lottery Foundation that we had to devise some new method of distributing the tickets for the benefit of maximum coverage.
I can say by way of explanation that this has been under discussion at many meetings with the current distributors during the course of this week, and I'm sure that a full statement and information is going to be put out very shortly by the Lottery Foundation. In other words, the matter is really under the administration of the Western Canada Lottery Foundation. I'd just like to add, for the benefit of members of the House who may hear of this matter from other distribu-
[ Page 7112 ]
tors, that they need not have any fear about them deriving the income they've previously had in the coming year by virtue of the control and distribution of their lottery sales.
What is happening is that they have been guaranteed for the ensuing year the same net proceeds which have been the average across the province for all distributors in the past. In other words, the distributors receive about 10 percent of the sale price of the tickets, of which they're obliged to spend no more than 4 percent on administration. The balance is used for a variety of charitable projects that they might have. So they're guaranteed the maintenance of those net revenues through the course of this new procedure that is just being introduced. There will be a full statement put out on this by the Lottery Foundation in the very near future. I suggest that the member might want to consider having a look at that before he addresses the matter further.
MR. HALL: I know about the Western Canada Lottery Foundation, as I was the minister at the time who brought in the legislation and set up the Western Canada Lottery Foundation. Was the minister aware, when he authorized Mr. Kelsey's announcement, that that announcement cut across pledges made by three successive Provincial Secretaries, covering two administrations, including his own, that that distribution network would always be in the hands of non-profit organizations?
MR. SPEAKER: Is there a question there? There's a question there, I'm sure.
MR. HALL: I asked him if he was aware of anything his predecessors — namely three Provincial Secretaries, starting out with myself, followed by his seatmate in Little Mountain (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy), followed by the member for Saanich (Hon. Mr. Curtis) — had done in that regard.
HON. MR. WOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I am very aware of the entire background on how this matter developed and also of the current situation in terms of distributors in British Columbia and their problems. I can assure you and the member that they need not feel threatened in terms of the revenues which will ensue to them for worthwhile purposes. There will be full information put out by the Lottery Foundation in the near future. The member knows that the western provinces all were in accord with the use of non-profit agencies for distribution, and I might say that other provinces, including Saskatchewan, have been faced with the same need to make a change.
MR. HALL: The minister just mentioned Saskatchewan. Is the minister aware, for instance, that the formula for Saskatchewan is very different from the formula he has just read out to this assembly, in that Saskatchewan gives at least 50 percent and is going to continue for more than one year?
The minister is obviously not aware of that. May I ask the minister one final question? Is the minister aware, and will he confirm, that any compensation for this confiscation is only for one year?
HON. MR. WOLFE: I am very aware of the situation in Saskatchewan. The member said I was not aware of it. They have had to make this change before British Columbia has. Their commitment is not, as members indicated, for an indefinite period in the future. I can say that the commitment is that their revenues for the coming year, while the matter is reviewed and the distribution system is put in place, are secure.
TRAVELS OF GENERAL MANAGER
OF LIQUOR DISTRIBUTION BRANCH
MR. BARNES: Has the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs or anyone in his department instructed Mr. Bob Wallace, general manager of the liquor distribution branch, not to provide information as to the cost of his recent trip to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa?
HON. MR. HYNDMAN: The answer is no, Mr. Speaker.
MR. BARNES: We will deal with that later. I have several I'd like to ask, so I won't interrogate the minister at this point.
The Liquor Distribution Act provides, in section 17, that the general manager or any liquor distribution branch employee "shall not solicit or receive, directly or indirectly, a commission, remuneration or gift from a person who has sold, is selling or is offering for sale liquor or other products or services offered for purchase or purchased by the branch."
Has the minister decided to investigate the general manager of the liquor distribution branch, Mr. Bob Wallace, for accepting an invitation from the Cape Wine and Spirits Exporters Association of South Africa as its guest, contrary to section 17 of the Liquor Distribution Act?
HON MR. HYNDMAN: Could I open by observing that the member's question contains an assumption which is wholly incorrect. I believe the member knows that Mr. Robert Wallace, the general manager of our liquor distribution branch, is a long-standing and experienced career professional public servant in this country. Mr. Wallace has served with distinction the government of Manitoba, the government of Canada and this government.
As the member well knows, it was my decision that Mr. Wallace, in keeping with the practice of virtually every other liquor commission in this country, should undertake some visits to foreign-country suppliers. With respect to Mr. Wallace's recent visit to three countries — Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, which countries have products representing 70 of our listings — Mr. Wallace was very clear to see that all regulations and legalities have been observed.
MR. BARNES: The minister has advised that the general manager was to "promote the sale of B.C. wines" on his trip to South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Which wineries requested that Mr. Wallace do so?
HON. MR. HYNDMAN: As the member well knows, having regard to the statement I made on the day of the member's press conference some months ago, the chief reason the chief executive of our liquor commission, in keeping with the practice, for example, of liquor commissions of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, undertakes foreign-supply visits is primarily to provide the best value and choice for our citizens. As the member well knows, in addition to seeking out in competitive international markets the best buys for our British Columbia customers and consumers, in the case of the British Columbia liquor distribution branch, our general manager also uses his travels as a chance to promote the British Columbia wine industry generally.
MR. BARNES: The minister claims the liquor distribution branch bore the cost of the general manager's trip. Has he
[ Page 7113 ]
decided to table the detailed vouchers — the general manager's expenses for the trip — from the date of departure to the date of return?
HON. MR. HYNDMAN: I'm obviously surprised that the member, who made such an issue at a press conference in Vancouver four weeks ago about this, apparently hasn't had the time or interest to read my response, in which I clearly said publicly that I intend to and shall be happy to table that information with this House when it's available.
MR. BARNES: The Republic of South Africa is the only country in the world that has legislated racial bigotry into its social, political and economic system. Is the minister now prepared to justify allowing a senior public servant to travel to that country officially representing British Columbia?
HON. MR. HYNDMAN: The member should be aware that British Columbians choose to spend about $250 million a year in their liquor stores on the products of foreign country suppliers. The liquor branch, being the largest retail organization in the province, feels it has an obligation on a reasonable basis to have its chief executive officer in the foreign market seeking out the best values and best selections for our customers. In the course of those travels, South Africa has been visited.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
[Mr. Speaker rose.]
MR. SPEAKER: The first member for Vancouver Centre will come to order.
[Mr. Speaker resumed his seat.]
HON. MR. HYNDMAN: In this province no citizen is forced to buy a certain country's products in our liquor stores. This government believes that our citizens have the right and the maturity to make their voluntary choice of what products they choose to buy or choose not to buy. This government does not think it appropriate for Big Brother government to dictate a political shopping list to its citizens. The member might do well to check with his colleagues in Manitoba. I understand South African products are still available in liquor stores there.
AGAINST ARGENTINEAN GOODS
MR. BARRETT: I'd like to ask the Minister of Consumer Affairs if it's the government's intention to comply with the current sanctions against Argentina?
HON. MR. HYNDMAN: Mr. Speaker, it would seem that that question deals substantially with a matter of federal external relations policy. I should be happy to take the question as notice and, should it be the case that the opposition leader's question does have some provincial political relevance, I would be happy to provide an answer.
MR. BARRETT: The minister stated that his government does not wish to interfere with the freedom of choice of citizens, regardless of political nature. Sanctions have been placed against Argentina, yet a shipment of apple juice concentrate was allowed into the province of British Columbia contrary to the position of the federal government. Would the minister tell us whether or not his government supports the position of the federal government and the government of Great Britain in sanctions against Argentina because of its aggressive action in the Falkland Islands?
HON. MR. HYNDMAN: I am not aware of apple juice concentrate having been listed on the shelves of the LDB, but I shall be happy to take the question as notice and, again, should the opposition leader's question have some relevance to this portfolio, provide a reply in due course.
HON. MR. HEWITT: In order to clarify the situation for the….
[Mr. Speaker rose.]
(Mr. Speaker resumed his seat.]
HON. MR. HEWITT: If I may make a ministerial statement, which is what I was attempting to do when the noise came from across the chamber. I would just like to make the Leader of the Opposition aware that that shipment of apple juice concentrate was cleared by the federal government because it had been ordered and was, I believe, en route prior to the sanctions being put in place. I am sure he would be pleased to hear that.
MR. BARRETT: I am pleased to respond under the standing rules of response to a ministerial statement. I welcome the minister's explanation that the apple juice concentrate was ordered before the embargo. I am now pleased to understand — as I read into it — that the government will be supporting federal government sanctions against Argentina and that it will deny the people of British Columbia the freedom of choice of buying Argentinean goods, a decision by the provincial government in concurrence with the federal government.
In response to the ministerial statement, having established the principle that governments on occasion do sanction goods, I say there is no moral force or reason on the face of this earth to deny goods from South Africa other than the fact that they are a fascist administration that has entrenched legislation against human rights unlike any other country in the world, unparalleled since the defeat of Nazi Germany. I would expect the same reasons that apply to Argentina would also apply to South Africa, in all good conscience.
Orders of the Day
ON THE BUDGET
MR. BARNES: I'm a little bit upset at the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Hon. Mr. Hyndman), having respected this minister for so many years — at least since he's been in the House — and knowing him to be a socially conscious person. We've worked together throughout the community. I recall recently when we discussed the closing of the East Hastings liquor store. The minister was good enough to consult me on a number of questions respecting the democratic right of those citizens living in the downtown east side who were being subjected to a vote respecting whether the liquor store should be closed, mainly because of certain social consequences and problems because of people overindulging in the product available at that store. But in the final analysis the minister exercised his authority as chief administrator of liquor distribution in the province and ordered that the liquor store be closed temporarily and, I believe, he ultimately decided to leave it closed indefinitely.
[ Page 7114 ]
Just to set the record straight, those of us who are interested in the consistency of the government with respect to issues of conscience and morality should keep in mind that that minister was playing politics at that particular time, and not so much concerned about the legal or democratic rights of those citizens to self-determination; in other words, the right to have their liquor store, which was convenient to most of them. As you know, there was considerable protest by several people who were using that facility. My whole point is that when it's convenient to the minister, he plays politics. That of course is his profession, but he should be honest about it.
When the former Attorney-General was in charge of liquor administration he once responded to us on this side of the House, when we asked him about removing South African products, that it was a case of selective ethics. That would imply to me that political considerations are very much the order of the day with that government. I think that in this instance we've demonstrated very clearly that the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs is a politician very adept at skating and dancing around issues. However, I must say he is consistent, because he has at all times said that he is not going to honour the commitment on the part of his country, Canada, in signing United Nations declarations against South Africa and condemning that country for its racist policies and other atrocious actions against humanity.
He is suggesting quite clearly that the members on that side of the House do not recognize this country's commitment to try to improve the world condition, to make, if nothing else, symbolic gestures that would respect the rights of peoples in other jurisdictions, countries and communities and of different political persuasions — whatever their problems or circumstances may be. I think this is really the crux, Mr. Speaker, of what I have to say today.
I realize we're discussing the budget, and the budget was condemned by the hon. Leader of the Opposition when he moved a motion which essentially suggested that the budget neglected to mobilize human and natural resources toward a strategy of full employment, embracing manufacturing and other secondary industries; failed to establish policies helpful to small business, and also made no attempt to relieve citizens of the heavy burden of spiralling tax increases.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The House has spoken on that question.
MR. BARNES: That's true, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to put things into perspective, because we are dealing with an administration — perhaps a more appropriate expression would be a regime of political opportunists…. I don't like throwing too many adjectives around, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the hon. members in this Legislature, because I think we all would like to feel that this is one place where the load and the responsibility we carry on behalf of our constituents is far too great for us to be frivolous and careless in our behaviour, manner and concern about the issues before us. So I take myself under advisement when I begin to use expressions of degradation or slight insult about those members on that side of the House. But I would just like to say that the people of British Columbia are justifiably angry, justifiably concerned and justifiably cynical because of the kinds of initiatives that we've witnessed by one and all on that side of the House.
Mr. Speaker, the budget speech, to quote the Minister of Finance when he referred to Mr. Walt Kelly…. I don't know how many of you recall, but the minister quoted Mr. Walt Kelly in his remarks. Mr. Kelly apparently made a famous statement when he said: "We have met the enemy, and he is us." This is a remark quoted by the Minister of Finance in his budget speech.
The minister continued to admonish British Columbians by telling them that they are victims of their own prosperity. Can you imagine that, Mr. Speaker? The Minister of Finance telling the people of British Columbia, who are suffering from the worst inflationary conditions in the history of their province…. Unemployment is at an all-time record high, people are unable to manage their affairs, and he is telling them that they are victims of their own prosperity. He says: "We have allowed ourselves the luxury of drift. A missing ingredient has been leadership — economic leadership." Then he goes on to wrap up his incredible pitch by suggesting: "In a rising sea of conflicting currents we need a steady hand at the tiller — not at the till, aimlessly taking more and giving less."
Well, that's cynicism par excellence, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Finance, who himself has one of the largest expense accounts among all the ministers for travel and propaganda on behalf of his ministry, has the gall to talk to the people about having had luxurious excesses and now being the time to pay up, and the gall to tell them that we've all got to begin to pull together. I don't recall any efforts on the part of any members on the government side to call together advisers in the community who have economic expertise — be it in the labour movement, in the educational field, in the private sector or whatever — and ask for some advice with respect to economic initiatives that this government might undertake, especially at a time of extreme economic depression, when things are so bleak as far as the future is concerned that we're going to have to ask them to restrain themselves. In other words, we're going to be asking them to impose economic restraint upon themselves in order to help the government overcome some of its faulty fiscal concepts about how to manage the province.
For instance, government travel increased 22 percent. It was $47 million in 1981-82, and the government expects to spend $57 million during this fiscal year, 1982-83. What could $57 million buy? I would like to know what kind of travelling those cabinet ministers are going to be doing. What's going to be happening that's going to justify us spending $57 million — a 22 percent increase, far in excess of what they suggested the communities spend on any matter. This is travel. Where are you travelling to, and on whose behalf? Are you going first class, second class or third class for $57 million?
HON. MR. CHABOT: Fifty-seven million dollars?
MR. BARNES: Yes, and it is all probably going to the Minister of Housing, who hasn't built a unit since he's been in office.
Government ads — this is a propaganda machine, probably excluding the productions of Mr. Douglas Heal — has gone up $2.5 million to $22,030,000.
Employment opportunities in 1981 was $24 million and produced 16,000 jobs. In 1982-83 it has been reduced to $20 million and will produce 11,000 jobs. These are not student jobs; this is the overall government plan to provide 11,000 jobs — down 6,000 from last year. The budget has been cut by another $4 million.
[ Page 7115 ]
The point is, Mr. Speaker, these are hard times, especially for young students who are attempting to take advantage of our expensive educational institutions but are unable to do so because the government has turned its back on the future. In fact, it is so critical that it is suggested that we'll have to import people to work in our technical industries, because we haven't had the foresight, the imagination or planning to coordinate our educational and training programs with the aspiring young people who wish to fit into the workforce.
What we've done, Mr. Speaker, is the 12-month boom-and-bust concept with no planning, Now we are having to pay for this kind of lack of imagination and understanding on the part of the government with respect to how to plan and how to encourage the public with a plan to restrain and give them a kind of direction, so that they can see the benefits that they are going to receive as a result of imposing upon themselves the harshness of doing without. Why should anyone believe, Mr. Speaker, that the government has a plan or a concept? It is known for its ad hockery, for its short-term and shortsighted views with respect to planning. I think the budget fails on all of these counts to inspire cooperation and enthusiasm that the minister spoke of when he suggested that we'd have to pull together.
I think the Minister of Finance had no right to admonish the public for what he calls excesses, because really the only excess has been his lack of appreciation for the turning of events within the economic community of British Columbia and to recognize the kinds of options that are open to him with respect to trusting the private sector and the interests in the community who have the most to lose.
Mr. Speaker, the horror story goes on. The government has attempted to undermine most of the people programs — the social programs and the kinds of programs that maintain the confidence and the spirit within the community; the sense of enthusiasm that is needed; the sense of determination to work on behalf of the future. It has taken $25 million from the downtown revitalization program — a program that helps to maintain the level of enthusiasm, the level of confidence and a sense of high spirits, as we like to call it. The government has coined their own phrase; they call it "the B.C. spirit." You need this kind of enthusiasm in any community in order to have that feeling of togetherness; and taking $25 million out of a program that helps to give people the feeling their city is not crumbling around them is hardly a way to encourage people that doom and gloom is not, in fact, upon them. The same thing happened with the Energy Development Fund, where $8 million was confiscated by the government under the guise of needing the money to balance the books. Two and a half million dollars was wiped out of the Provincial Computerization of Libraries Fund.
All of these are programs that the government considers to be frills. In times of restraint, stop feeding the children, cut back on education, cut out the cultural programs and begin to talk about hard times in such a way as to encourage people to degrade themselves, to lose a sense of dignity, a sense of pride. The troops, too, have to have their heads up. They have to be able to feel they can stay healthy, especially when they see so many people spending so much money on frivolous things, when they see a government that consists primarily of ministers, perhaps with second incomes. Many of them are probably independently wealthy; many of them probably do not require their MLA salaries at all as far as day-to-day living is concerned. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that if you were to canvass those cabinet ministers you would probably find that most of them are very well off, are independently wealthy.
MR. BARNES: We may have a few but I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that there certainly are not very many. Certainly this hon. member wouldn't be counted among them.
The point is that they don't have the sensitivity, the pressing needs. Perhaps they should be forgiven, because reality is where you yourself are at. We all understand that very well. As difficult as it is to try to show compassion and understanding for someone else who is in need or someone else who is hard pressed, it takes quite a bit of effort and concentration for well-off people to really understand, no matter how hard they try. Those people over there, I think, have demonstrated this by the document they've submitted on behalf of the people of British Columbia as the spending estimates for the next fiscal year: $7.7 billion does not reflect their concern in any real way.
Another example is that the Drug, Alcohol and Cigarette Education, Prevention and Rehabilitation Fund, a perpetual fund of $18 million, has been wiped out. This $18 million fund provided annually a return of a few million dollars to maintain educational programs for people who perhaps purchase more of these debilitating substances, cigarettes and alcohol, which is obviously one of the major sources of revenue for the government. They've wiped out the programs that try to enlighten people, that try to encourage them to restrain themselves from trying to anesthetize their frustrations and fears about the hard times in the economy by overindulging in alcohol and other poisonous substances.
In 1979, the government realized $206.2 million revenue from the sale of alcohol. In 1980, it realized $222.5 million; in 1981, $274.6 million. Its revised total for 1982 is $319 million, and it is estimating $365 million for this present fiscal year. They cancel a perpetual fund of $18 million that was providing a very small percentage, probably $5 million a year — I haven't got the exact figure — which was a return directed to those people who are affected by various complications as a result of their overindulgence in the use of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, etc. That's another act of cynicism. Is cutting out on educational programs that are going to maintain the public good health a way to restrain? I would suggest that it's retrogressive; it is a disincentive; and it's cynical in every respect. It suggests to the people that they are on their own, as the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Hon. Mr. Hyndman) quite eloquently put it this afternoon when he suggested that people do not have to drink. Mr. Speaker, you and I know full well that we live in a society of commercial exploitation in high-pressure sales, and we know that we have conditioned most of our citizens in such a way that they're not always aware of how they are being induced and seduced to behave in ways which are not beneficial to themselves in very many ways.
So the government, rightly or wrongly — because I don't believe that particular administration was the first government to exploit the use of the revenues that they get from the sale of alcohol and cigarettes — certainly have come to rely on these large sums of money through the sale of spirits as a regular and necessary part of their revenue. In fact, as you can see, the revenue in liquor sales alone has almost doubled
[ Page 7116 ]
in just three years. I think that is very indicative of a trend. The government no longer recognizes the need for restraint with respect to its moral commitment to the public, and instead has not only begun to promote and project greater revenues from the sale of alcohol but has began to exploit the sale of lotteries even further. The government has begun to take advantage of the inclination that people have to think that they can find a quick buck, and they do all they can by promoting on television and radio and in the newspapers with very cleverly designed devices that will encourage people to take a chance. Mr. Speaker, we know the odds of winning any of those big prizes are probably about as good as you, sir, being struck by lightening in your chair.
However, the government feels that the public can make up its own mind whether it wants to or doesn't want to buy lottery tickets or whether it wants to or doesn't want to purchase liquor. The government feels no moral responsibility whatsoever, which is evidenced by the removal of this very small perpetual fund that was providing educational information to help people make rational and reasonable decisions with respect to their health. I'm not impressed with the incentives in the budget.
Mr. Speaker, let's take the housing problem. We've got unemployment and high interest rates and there are many problems that we discussed, but the housing problem is the one that I would just like to spend a moment or two on. Social Credit opposes government involvement in housing. There's no question about it. In 1976, soon after the Social Credit government took office, the present Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Curtis), who at that time was the Minister of Municipal Affairs, took it upon himself to dismantle one of the public's house-building corporations, the Housing Corporation of B.C. That corporation had been land-banking, purchasing multiple rental dwellings and had been constructing some as well on a rational plan basis with a view to keeping the private sector developers honest. It restricted its activities to constructing homes within the moderate- to medium-price range to ensure that affordable housing options were available to people who found themselves in the crunch due to circumstances beyond their control, especially people on fixed incomes and so forth.
The government with its doctrinaire, arrogant attitudes about so-called laissez-faire, freedom of choice and all of these concepts which in practical terms mean nothing….
You and I know that, Mr. Speaker. We don't care whether you call it free enterprise, socialism or what. We want action; we want benefits; we want returns. This is what a modern contemporary political organization should be concerned about — not slogans. But the government stands on its hind legs and says that the government has no place in social housing, no responsibility whatsoever, and is not going to get involved. It wiped out a perfectly legitimate and effective program of construction on behalf of the people of British Columbia so it could take its rightful place in the competitive market. Who has a better right to compete in their own marketplace than the people of the province? Why should it be that the public themselves cannot collectively compete through their government in the so-called free marketplace? Why do they have to be denied this right? By what reason? For what purpose — to satisfy a concept? What about reality?
I think the government has been criminally negligent with respect to its attitude on fiscal policies. The message is clear, and it will speak for itself as time goes along; certainly at the next election, I'm sure.
The B.C. Housing Management Commission has hundreds and hundreds of applicants who have been waiting for years — single parents, young families and people who are on fixed incomes. People who are locked into economic hard times are in no position to do very much for themselves. They are asking the government to provide housing for them. We do in fact have a corporation. It is an administrative body that was set up to manage the units that had been constructed by the Housing Corporation of B.C. But when the Housing Corporation of B.C. was dismantled, there were no new units coming on stream which the B.C. Housing Management Commission would administer on behalf of these people on the waiting list. They are waiting today with no hope. Why doesn't the government tell them honestly: "Look, you're on a waiting list, and you're not going to get any unit"? But the government hasn't got the courage to close down that expensive administrative organization. It has no new units. I'm sure that the staff are thoroughly embarrassed by having to turn people away day in and day out, with no hope of doing anything for them.
Consider the thinking of the government when it comes to housing. They did create one corporation but they got rid of another. They got rid of the Public Works department. It was another public organization that was doing something economically on behalf of the people, where the cash flow was turned back into the economy.
The B.C. Buildings Corporation is a Social Credit invention. That's their answer to the Housing Corporation of B.C. The only difference is that they went out and hired a private entrepreneur, who was already a millionaire, to manage it on behalf of the people of B.C. He proceeded to engage in activity with the private sector, who are all speculators, real estate brokers and so forth, and now the government rents facilities from that organization, instead of from itself, at additional expense and God only knows what else. It's hard to get an up-to-date account of just what really happened in that particular branch of the public sector.
It's just a matter of public morality, what you consider to be the public's right and what the government takes from the public by decree. It's some kind of special privilege, I suppose, that politicians feel they have once they get elected. But it's a very difficult concept for me to understand when I think of 57 people here on behalf of the nearly three million people who are out there and who we are going to have to go to pretty soon. We are going to have to turn in our report cards, and we're going to have to tell them what we're doing on their behalf. Those poor voters are going to have to try to make decisions based on information that has proven to be faulty and incomplete. They have no right to access to information; they can't get the facts. We get stonewalled by the politicians in power.
The government gives the illusion of being concerned by creating a number of standing committees that are going to look into public affairs. But those committees don't sit. And when they do, the information isn't available, and there's no way that we can get any information. We have cabinet ministers sitting on committees judging themselves with respect to what accounts will or will not be reviewed. When we object, we get overruled or outvoted by the heavy hand of the Social Credit majority. So the public has every reason to be concerned and cynical about this budget.
We find that the government has represented itself as having balanced the budget. And then we find that all they've done is borrow money between 1982 and 1983 to pay 1981 and 1982.
[ Page 7117 ]
The northeast coal deal is just one example. This has happened to all kinds of programs through transfers and very clever, new, so-called accrual accounting procedures. You can't quite figure out what is going on.
I would suggest one other thing, Mr. Speaker. Normally we at least get a first-class book for the estimates — all well bound and on a par with some of those glossy government news publications that go out from various ministries. But this year we got a computer printout on pulp. After having to fight for it, we receive it late. In other words, no details whatsoever. These are the kinds of things that make us wonder if the government is really sincere in its desire to cooperate — not only with the opposition but also with the people of British Columbia.
Speaking of housing, there is another program that the government decided not to pursue any further, and that is the co-sponsored federal-provincial rental aid program, which provided some 850 units. They did so in order to save $3.5 million that the government had to pay as part of its share to subsidize these units which contained people on fixed incomes, senior citizens, the handicapped and so forth. This is a program that was in place. They didn't create it, but they began to look upon that as an excess and eliminated that program as well.
I'm not sure who really qualifies for the renter's rebate. It's another very small item in the whole housing problem. In order to get anything back, you've got to be on the poverty line. But, Mr. Speaker, you and I know that if you're on the poverty line, you can't afford to buy or rent housing at market rates. So who is benefiting? It's just another piece of cheap propaganda about the government being interested in helping those in need when, in fact, it's another shell game.
I want to say a few things about rent controls, Mr. Speaker. In 1975, rent controls had become a way of life. In 1972 the New Democratic Party assessed the very critical housing situation, in which unconscionable rental-market exploiters were rent-gouging. People were flipping properties and carrying on a number of activities that resulted in the tenants being placed at a disadvantage with respect to being able to have a place to live.
In December 1975, during that election, people were very frightened about losing rent controls. All the politicians of the day were asked point blank: "What are you going to do about rent controls?" I remember that the now Premier, Bill Bennett, who was leading the opposition at the time, took out a full-page ad in the major newspapers, with a big picture of himself saying: "Rent controls will stay, and that's a promise and a commitment." I'll say one thing about the Premier: if he can possibly find a way to have his cake and eat it too — or give the illusion that he can — he will try. So he instructed his Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Mr. Rafe Mair, who is no longer with us, to proceed to undermine the controls. He said: "Do not remove them, because it is a very hard time for the government. What we'll do is create some loopholes." They came out with a revised Residential Tenancy Act, which today is a very useless document with respect to protecting the rights of either tenant or landlord. It's just a shambles, and the rentalsman has been faced with an impossible task of trying to administer a document that would find him in court more than out in trying to deal with these disputes.
So the rent controls are no longer effective. But the political scenario with respect to rent controls is a paradox. We have one faction in the community — I suppose they call themselves friends of the government, the developers — who are saying: "Remove rent controls so we can get on with constructing homes and solving the housing problem." Those people are going to do so at such high cost that it will not benefit the people who really need them. They say they're not going to construct low-rental housing unless they're subsidized. They want the people who are going to rent from them to do the paying in advance and put up the front money. So somewhere in between, probably about 70 percent or 80 percent of the units already on stream are getting the best of both worlds.
If rent controls were removed, you can be sure that a large majority of the units out there today would go up, but not all the way up. They would not go up high enough to bail out those people who would like to have rent controls removed so they can justify having overextended themselves in speculative housing in the hope that they'd be able to gouge tenants. They would still be stuck, because that large majority of units in the middle would rise just enough to keep the pressure on the top, but the guy in the middle would be hurting even more, This is one of the problems that we find ourselves in.
This is where doctrinaire politics and philosophy are no longer applicable. The government has to recognize its responsibility and go into the housing field and begin to construct units. People are being victimized by the government's policies with respect to constructing rental housing. I tried to emphasize this one problem, but as you know, the document is hardly relevant with respect to high interest rates, the cost of living and a host of other problems facing the community.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to close by suggesting to you that I and the members on this side of the House will certainly be voting in opposition to this budget. I will be looking forward to speaking to those ministers directly when the ministry estimates are before the House for debate.
By the way, Mr. Speaker, I think just you and I and a few New Democrats are here.
HON. MR. SMITH: At the outset, I'm going to add on the record an acknowledgement that others have made of the events that occurred in the nation's capital on the weekend, namely the patriation of the Canadian constitution and the proclamation by the Queen of the Canada Bill, including a charter of rights. Millions of Canadians saw that serene lady sign the proclamation and address the crowds at a moment in which rain clouds formed over the Ottawa River and burst and loosed a spring downpour on the audience. Some there might have wished that that downpour had occurred at the time of some of the earlier speakers on the occasion. But everyone listened with a great deal of pleasure to the words of the Queen, and neither gloomy weather nor dire economic circumstances could dampen her spirit.
Some members may think that it was an ominous sign that while the rain still drizzled and the ceremony concluded the Queen left the stage to carry out other duties, including unveiling a plaque in the East Block in Ottawa, escorted by the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Finance. Were she other than her dignified self, she might have asked him during that soggy stroll if he had anything in his budget for such a rainy day.
I will try to address my remarks to the budget before us at this….
[ Page 7118 ]
HON. MR. SMITH: I'm glad. You're the only one listening, Rosemary.
I should also on this occasion pay tribute to the contribution made by both the Premier and the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations (Hon. Mr. Gardom) in achieving a peaceful settlement of the constitutional debate with the consent of nine of the provinces. Would that it had been with the consent of the tenth.
Unlike the federal budget, which did not provide rainy day relief, this budget brought in by our Minister of Finance points the way to sunnier skies.
We've had some good addresses in this chamber which I've enjoyed, both on the amendment and on the main motion. I congratulate the member for Kootenay (Mr. Segarty), the member for Prince George South (Mr. Strachan) and the member for Kamloops (Mr. Richmond) as just a few of those who delivered excellent speeches. I also enjoyed the remarks of some of the members opposite, particularly the fiery address of the member for Burnaby-Willingdon (Mr. Lorimer), and I'm sorry that he's not here today.
The member for Vancouver Centre also made a very amusing speech on education, which will no doubt be reproduced in National Lampoon. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I would much rather be his haberdasher than his speechwriter. The former at least has a sense of tidiness, of dash and of proportion; the latter — his speechwriter — I think needs more study and perhaps the attention to detail that comes from those who peruse racing forms. In the debate on my bill and on the estimates I will be dealing in some detail with his less outrageous remarks.
Basically, Mr. Speaker, the Finance minister deserves strong congratulation. For months during the Christmas season, when the rest of us were shopping, making lists and doing family things, he agonized and wrestled over the problems of a sagging economy, depleted revenues, and the soaring costs and rising aspirations that some people have come to expect from endless government services. I'm pleased with the budget result for a number of reasons. I'm sure the member for New Westminster (Mr. Cocke), the member for Burnaby-Willingdon (Mr. Lorimer) and some others, including the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm), will agree with me that the budget is acceptable because the tax on pipe tobacco did not increase.
Seriously, the Finance minister faced a number of difficult options. His first option, and one that he no doubt seriously considered, was whether to deficit-finance, mortgage the future and commit the province to a pattern of paying for operating services out of borrowed money. That is the approach some other jurisdictions have taken in this country — one which is a tantalizing one to follow in a year of depleted revenues, but one which has disastrous ongoing consequences. Another option that he had was simply to cut expenditures and starve services. That has happened in many of the states to the south; it has happened in the United Kingdom, and it happened in other places. His third option was to bring in a balanced budget, restrain government spending and balance that restraint with wage guidelines that would prevent massive layoffs and cutbacks in the public service and allow most of the essential social services to continue. The minister wisely chose the third course.
In supporting the budget motion, therefore, I am supporting a minister who has been steadfast and dutiful and who has displayed courage. This budget is being applauded not only in this province but across the country. Many times during the past weekend I heard the refrain: "Your Premier and your government have shown leadership in balancing the budget and reducing public expenditure. If only other governments would do the same thing."
[Mr. Davidson in the chair.]
I realize that no budget will please everyone, and this budget came at a particularly difficult time. But the budget includes no major tax increases, with the exception of the increase in the capital tax on banks. It is a budget also that preserves thousands of jobs in the public sector, with the wage-restraint program supporting it. It is also a budget that has a proposal to sell housing and employment development bonds to stimulate investment in housing; it is a budget as well which contains new money for school tax reform this year and next year — an additional quarter of a billion dollars over a period of two years to reduce school tax, specifically, and redistribute burdens. It also is a budget, Mr. Speaker, which contains and provides for growth in services for the elderly, for those on income assistance and for families with children.
It is an economic recovery budget. It is not a budget of castor oil; it is not the kind of budget that Washington state, the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions have gone through, where cutbacks actually mean 10 percent or 15 percent fewer dollars being spent on a program this year than last year. In other words, what it really is is a moderate application of the brakes in this province in a period when reductions in revenue have been met with modest restraints on government spending and a reasonable assumption of social services.
I want very gently to observe some of the positions the official opposition seem to have been taking on this budget to try to put together some kind of logical position which they are advancing in opposition to the budget. The first proposition that I seem to deduce is that the government is to blame for the economy. The second proposition, Mr. Speaker, is that they exhort us publicly to be frugal and not to spend money, to be very careful; they express a great deal of concern about the need for restraint; but in almost every specific field in which they are interested, approached or lobbied they ask us to spend more money.
They have never told us whether they're in favour of a deficit budget or not, whether they would have borrowed for the future. They've never told us whether they support the restraint program, or whether they would cancel it. They have never given us concrete, realistic methods of creating more jobs besides their usual solution of hiring more public servants. They have never told us which of the projects that they like to refer to derisively as megaprojects they would cancel.
During the past few weeks, Mr. Speaker, a number of interest groups have come to the Legislature concerned with expenditure in the health and education fields. Those groups have had meetings with members on both sides of the House. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if you were a fly on the wall in the offices of the members opposite, or in their caucus room, what they've told these groups. Have they told them that there is indeed a need for restraint this year? Have they told them that they support the restraint program? I think it's a pretty fair bet that they have encouraged these groups to believe that if they will just remain calm and patient and enrol as poll captains, in the future the restraint program won't be around,
[ Page 7119 ]
the lid will be off and the money will start to roll out of the wheelbarrow again, and everything will be the way it used to be: spend, spend, spend. I'm sure that's what they've told them, Mr. Speaker; but they won't tell us in this House, and they won't say on the hustings, whether they're in favour of the restraint program or a balanced budget.
Will they abolish northeast coal? I believe that they probably will — that they're committed to abolishing northeast coal. But they're a bit ambiguous on that. Will they cancel the work on B.C. Place? The member for North Island (Mr. Gabelmann), in his usual candid way, indicates that in his view that should be postponed for a year, and I respect him for saying that. But I have never heard of an official position from his party that they would cancel or delay the work on B.C. Place. Will they also oppose, and will they not go ahead with plans for, Expo and the convention centre?
We have from them a lot of posturing and criticism, portents of gloom and all sorts of encouragement for every interest group in this province who feel that they're not getting enough money into their programs. But they have no clear position that they are prepared to enunciate on the platform, or in this Legislature, as to whether they're in favour of these projects or in favour of the restrained budget.
In the area of education, Mr. Speaker, they are even more prone to use innuendos, inaccuracies and portents of gloom and doom. Instead of applauding this government's initiative in putting in an additional quarter of a billion dollars in the next two years into the reduction of school taxes, they quote alarmist figures indicating, quite inaccurately, that residential property tax is going to soar. They know from the figures that the new finance formula highlighted in this budget will provide tax relief to 50 school districts, which will pay less under this system than under the previous system. In 15 school districts in this province taxpayers will actually pay less tax this year in actual dollars than last year on an average home. They know that, Mr. Speaker, but they are not saying it. They don't intend to give this government credit for taking the first major step in redressing property tax burdens.
Another thing that they are not saying in this house, Mr. Speaker, is that they would have assumed the industrial commercial tax base as a provincial resource, and that they didn't have the courage to to do that and they would have done that a long time ago. They privately applaud that measure, and they're entirely in support of it in their private views.
We get the usual old chestnuts from them, Mr. Speaker, about how the school system is an elitist school system. The first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk), having returned from his tailor, referred to the school system as elitist, saying there were massive rises in the funding of independent schools and that the government had a higher commitment to the independent school system than to the public school system. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that this government has a commitment to keeping both systems operating. It is not elitism to fund independent schools and to give parents in this province a choice in their children's education. Nor is it elitism to provide major increases in the quality of education in this province during the past five or six years, which this government has done, and to put major new sums of money into the education system in the next two years under the budget.
As well, it is interesting to know their position on funding independent schools. I always hear the examples when they're decrying that there isn't enough money being spent on education; that somehow the grants to independent schools are going up. I take that as being their own unrevised and unrepentant doctrinairism coming up. They can't bear to see a nickel of public money going into the independent school system so as to allow parents to have that kind of choice.
We know what they would do if — heaven preserve us — they were ever again in the treasury benches. We know what they'd do to the independent school system. They'd ultimately stop the funding for the independent school system, and if they didn't stop it immediately, they would exact such centralized control over everything that system did, that most independent schools would opt out.
Another one of the old saws that they raise, and one that is fashionably raised in certain circles of the B.C. Teachers Federation central executive, is to make little comments on the subject of consumer education. If ever there was a time in the economy of our nation when a course was necessary and overdue to ensure that graduates are not only literate in the English language, but also literate economically, that time is now.
Mr. Speaker, they speak about collective bargaining for teachers, and the first member for Vancouver Centre speaks about the need for more freedom in the field of collective bargaining. What they're really saying, and what they're saying privately to the B.C. Teachers Federation executive, is: "Boys, we support the right to strike in education. We don't think there's anything wrong with the strike weapon. We think there should be free, collective bargaining, totally, in education. We don't think that there's going to be a problem if schools are closed, and we believe that even though 58 percent of the teachers of this province voted against that approach in a referendum." They're just as out of touch with the teachers of this province as they are with the public of this province.
To return to this budget, the budget points the way to a recovery, to a better future. The incentives are there. The minister has taken a responsible approach in balancing the budget; he has produced restraints mixed with incentives. He has also, in an era when this government has been able to cooperate with the federal government in a major way, produced major project development in the north and in the lower mainland, which is going to guarantee a major and more rapid recovery in this province than in many other parts of North America. The minister is to be applauded, and I, as one hon. member, will be voting for the motion in support of the budget.
MR. D'ARCY: I'm pleased, Mr. Speaker, to see that the member who just spoke actually did get around to education at some point in his discourse.
I'd like to talk about the budget and the general policies of government, in particular how they relate to my constituents in the southwestern part of the Kootenay region of B.C.
I'd like to point out that it won't be much of a problem to address you, Mr. Speaker, in this debate, because there are really very few people on the other side of the House who seem to be interested this afternoon.
Last December the government, in an attempt to pay up the revenues, which they had severely underestimated in March of last year, arbitrarily increased licence fees for hydroelectric purposes in this province. That was a cruel blow to industry, employment and retail trade in my constituency.
[ Page 7120 ]
MR. D'ARCY: The major employer in my riding — as the person chirping over in the corner well knows, as Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland); he used to be involved in the mining industry — is involved in the smelting and refining of ores. We don't mine in our area, but we do have a major smelting and refining operation which, along with the Sullivan mine in Kimberley, employs roughly 6,300 people.
The only reason why that operation is in Trail is because of low-cost hydroelectric power. In fact, they are there for the same reason that Alcan is in Kitimat. It's not because of the proximity to ore and it's not because of the proximity to market; it's certainly not for topographical reasons, transportation costs or geotechnical reasons. It's there for only one reason: low-cost hydroelectric power, which that company has put into place at its own expense, by its own investment over the years. In every other aspect of that operation the reality of the marketplace militates against having that operation in the West Kootenay or probably any place in British Columbia at all.
The one reason it was there — low-cost hydroelectric power — was severely undermined by an arbitrary action of this government in quadrupling the licence fee charged for water going through the plants on the Kootenay and Pend-d'Oreille Rivers, which supply electricity to this operation. One year later, the doubling of those same licence fees has resulted in a cost increase by a factor of ten to that company. This has had an influence — I'm not going to suggest it's the only influence, but it was one of the factors — in that company making a decision this spring to close its operation for a minimum of five weeks. It is the first shutdown that that company has seen in Trail in over three-quarters of a century. I would like to point out that we're not just talking about the closure of the production part of the operation; we are talking about a complete shutdown of the secondary and tertiary operations of Cominco. As I think some people in this House know, all of that company's engineering operations from around the world are done in Trail. In addition, they contract out their expertise in mining and smelting technology to firms around the world; it is indeed a secondary professional industry, based in Trail and operating on a worldwide basis. This is being shut down. The foundry operation, which to some degree serves the smelter, is basically a separate operation; it is also being shut down.
The government of B.C. — not just the area — will lose a significant amount of revenue in income taxes, sales taxes and in all the multiplier effects thereto because of the shutdown. In part, it has been influenced by an arbitrary action of government without consultation with anyone in industry. There are 6,300 jobs, Mr. Speaker.
Before I leave the question of hydroelectric power in the West Kootenay, as Mr. Speaker is well aware, over six years ago Cominco and West Kootenay Power applied to the former energy board for the opportunity to separate the operations of West Kootenay Power and Cominco Ltd. After a significant amount of time and cost to the company and to the taxpayer, the energy board and the company came up with an accommodation. Agreement was reached; it was sent over here to Victoria for ratification by cabinet, and the cabinet, without a reason given, turned it down. The same process was gone through again last summer and last fall with the new Utilities Commission.
We in the West Kootenay, and indeed all people in the southern part of the province, including the South Okanagan, who rely on West Kootenay power for electricity, are wondering what is going to happen to the plant facilities and their transmission system — a system of electric power which has been very low cost to industry and consumers but is badly in need of upgrading. It is old. It needs significant investment to bring it into the 1980s, and that investment is not available and cannot be made available until the Utilities Commission makes a decision on this application — a decision which I submit is long overdue.
Mr. Speaker, we did hear the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. Smith) talk to some degree about school taxes. The arbitrary decision of government to seize control of commercial property on the industrial tax base has savaged my constituency in terms of cost to all property taxpayers and particularly residential taxpayers. In school district 11 alone, a preliminary estimate is that everybody's taxes are going to go up on the average of $85 this year as a result of this action.
One of the advantages of living in a resource-based community, a manufacturing community…. Some people in the province would say: "Well, who would want to live there with a smelter in the middle of town?" or "Who would want to live in a town such as Castlegar, which has a pulpmill on the edge of town?" The fact is that one of the benefits that people who have lived in manufacturing communities have enjoyed is a reduction of property taxes due to the fact that they have a significant industrial operation in the community. If someone chose, for whatever reason, to live in Oak Bay, where the Minister of Education lives, or in West Vancouver, which have zoning laws and regulations that prevent and discourage industry from moving in, they paid the price, and the price was higher than average property taxes for school purposes. I see it as direct thievery on the part of the government to remove from my constituency, from a number of constituencies held by members on the other side of the House, from the constituency of my colleague, the member for North Island (Mr. Gabelmann), and indeed from all of the constituencies with a concentration of industrial activity…to rob that money in order to reduce the taxes in constituencies such as West Vancouver and Oak Bay. Mr. Speaker, I consider that a most irresponsible and unfair action of government.
It's quite true that the school tax formula needs overhauling, but a little bit in this direction is totally inconsistent and, in my view, makes it more inequitable and worse, in fact, than it was before.
Another word on property taxes, Mr. Speaker. In my constituency, assessments have gone up this year by roughly 40 percent on average. The budget arbitrarily increases the taxes in rural areas by another 20 percent. This means that apart from the school tax increase I just mentioned, gross taxes in rural parts of my riding are going to go up at least 50 percent before the change in the school tax formula.
A few years ago I had to laugh at the antics of Howard Jarvis and his property tax revolt in California. Mr. Speaker, I guarantee you that when the tax notices are mailed out by municipal and regional district governments in June of this year, we could see a similar agitation for a similar kind of revolt, particularly in my riding and, I suspect, in other ridings as well. The government may well think that the people out there who own real property are going to blame their school board, the municipal government, CUPE or the BCTF, but they're not going to blame those organizations.
[ Page 7121 ]
They're going to know why they've had a tax increase, and one of the reasons they're going to know it's the provincial government that has done it to them and done it to them arbitrarily is because the school boards, the hospital boards, the municipal councils and the regional district councils are going to tell them so. They're going to tell them so because those people out there who are appointed to those boards, including college councils, are angry at the way the rules arbitrarily have been changed in the fourth quarter by the provincial government.
When I moved to Castlegar in 1960 we had a terrible, substandard, heavily travelled highway going into Trail. Between 1962 and 1975 the W.A.C. Bennett government and the Barrett government rebuilt all but one mile of that highway to modern highway standards. The most heavily travelled mile, though, is the mile through the Cominco smelter. Nothing has happened on that since 1975. The engineering, the contract documents, the agreement with the federal government and indeed a pledge of a million dollars for the removal of railway crossings have been in place now for six months.
Part of the $700 million reinvestment that Cominco is making in Trail depends on the relocation of that highway. The government, though, sits month after month and twiddles its thumbs. The multiplier effect of that kind of highway investment, apart from the need of the public from a safety and travelling point of view, gets more severe every day. I ask the government to move with much more than deliberate speed immediately. Those contract documents are ready, the engineering is done, the agreement with the federal government is in place and the federal money is available. There are no excuses. We have a major investment in secondary and tertiary industry, job-intensive industries, high technology industry — the kind that the member for Vancouver–Point Grey loves to talk about — waiting on this highway expenditure.
I'm going to dwell on that member for Vancouver–Point Grey. He talked a great deal in his speech in the budget debate about what he thought was going to be a gallium arsenide mountain. We have lots of mountains in Trail already. I hope he's correct about that. I want to go back to my earlier remarks. One of the reasons we have a high technology investment related to the mining industry in Trail is the lowcost hydroelectric power. On the one hand the government brags about this taking place in B.C., and yet on the other hand they pull the rug out from under the private company that made the decision to put those operations in B.C. and not in some other part of the country or world, which they may well have done. Many other Canadian companies have done just that. I find it hard to accept the fact that this government has any business expertise or acumen whatsoever. They advocate one thing and make it as difficult and discouraging as possible for those persons and companies in B.C. who attempt to do what the government is advocating.
Other persons on this side of the House have talked in great detail, I think, about the general economic conditions in their ridings, especially those from outside the lower mainland and greater Victoria. In the West Kootenay I unfortunately have to report that Stats Canada and UIC report that we have 16 percent unemployed. We have 80 percent more applicants for unemployment insurance in the Trail office than we had a year ago. The Ministry of Human Resources reports a similar increase in applicants for assistance. They also report a strain on staff. They report that they have asked Victoria, through their regional office, for more caseworkers because they have whole new caseloads coming on stream. Of course I'm concerned about that. I think everyone in the House is concerned about that sort of thing.
I would like to talk about some specific proposals that I and community leaders in my constituency, along with my colleague for Nelson-Creston (Mr. Nicolson) and the MP for the area, have discussed with numerous people that we feel involve a minimum amount of action by government. They not only have a high return in economic, and hence social, benefit to my riding, but also would have a significant return in revenue to the provincial government. I would reiterate, as has been said before in this House, that any spending in this province returns at least 30 cents on the dollar to the provincial government and the creatures of the provincial government: school districts, hospitals and municipal governments out in the province. There's an immediate return and an immediate multiplier effect.
The Minister of Education has bragged about his new special restraint program. The immediate effect of educational cutbacks in my constituency is that special needs programs are being scrapped by the school districts — special needs programs for children with learning disabilities and also for gifted children. We're really getting back to the core curriculum and the three Rs, because the school boards don't have any money to do anything else.
We know very well what the social costs are going to be later on, because individual children are not getting the opportunities that they should be getting — not because the school boards are hard-hearted and callous, but because they are doing their best to conform with arbitrary decisions that have taken place here in Victoria — once again without consultation with the public.
Mr. Speaker, I have two school districts. One of them, the Castlegar district, has been one of the most efficiently run in the province on a cost-per-student basis. Their reward for their efficiency is to be chopped back by the same percentage as everybody else. Nice guys have finished last once again. And students — children — in my constituency are suffering because of it.
We see major capital programs and occupational training programs through Selkirk College in Trail and Castlegar being cancelled or delayed because of the cutbacks in the funding for community colleges. These cutbacks — in terms of operation — are primarily in occupational training. We once again saw an arbitrary decision last September when the provincial government just wiped out the mining school in Rossland. Again, Mr. Speaker, this was occupational training; it was not elitist university training or trades training. It was training people who were not employable so that they were employable in the mining industry in British Columbia. They were also trained to operate heavy equipment in other fields, including the trucking industry, mining, forestry and heavy-duty contracting. It was arbitrarily hacked up by the government.
In the budget we see the youth-employment program taken out. This was of tremendous assistance, not just to the students involved but to the small businesses who hired these kids and to the non-profit societies such as the Rossland mining museum — a museum which is nearly as elaborate as the Britannia mining museum. Unlike the Britannia mining museum, which has had large infusions of public funds and operates at public expense, the Rossland museum has been provided for by contributions from individuals and industry
[ Page 7122 ]
and has been operated on a non-profit basis without the assistance of the provincial government. That was cut out. Now non-profit societies such as that, which used to rely on staffing from the youth employment program during the tourist season, are not going to be able to operate in the way that they have before. We know that last year, of course, the youth program in parks — a program that has been in place for many years in B.C. — was arbitrarily ended.
Mr. Speaker, we have that rare thing in my riding, a popular hydroelectric project. We have a hydroelectric project which the community — environmentalists, trade unionists, the chamber of commerce, everyone agrees — wants to go ahead. That project is the installation of a generating station in the Keenleyside Dam in Castlegar; it used to be called the High Arrow Dam. That dam has been in operation for 14 years now and it's never generated a single kilowatt of power. There is a proposal by B.C. Hydro now to install a 144-megawatt generating station there. There is a desire that this proceed as soon as possible. I would hope that if B.C. Hydro makes a decision to go ahead, the government and its agencies will put no obstacles in the way of this project going ahead as soon as possible.
I would ask that the government immediately contact the federal government and ask for a new allocation of funds for the TIDSA program. I've no idea whether anyone in your constituency of Delta has taken advantage of this program, but I'd like to say that the TIDSA program — under the federal-provincial agreement — is one of the outstanding initiatives of government that I have seen in the ten years that I have been in this Legislature. It has indeed had a tremendously positive effect on the tourism industry and on maximizing the benefit from the great natural resources that we have in B.C., with no danger to any other use of those resources. It has helped the private sector, it has helped municipal government, and it has helped non-profit societies. In the ski industry it has really had an effect. I'm sure that the money that has been invested by the provincial and the federal government in B.C. tourism has already been returned in tax revenue and in economic activity out there in the private sector. The fund is out of money right now, but the program is still in place. What we need is a new infusion of funds. I want to emphasize that we're talking about seed money here. We're not talking about make-work programs that would be taking advantage of individuals out there in the communities.
Mr. Speaker, we've had a lot of discussion about what the budget does or doesn't do to the forest industry. I would have two proposals that I would relate directly to my riding; they also relate to the rest of the province relative to the forest industry. The first one is that we should have a road-building program go into place immediately. What's happened traditionally in the forest industry is that the loggers themselves build roads, usually in a hurry, especially in times like this. They do just the bare minimum that's required; the companies can't afford to do anything more elaborate. The cost the roads is charged against stumpage and because the roads are hastily built and substandard, once the logging has been completed — and sometimes even before — the roads wash out. They cause silting in creeks and erosion problems, and government or some other agency has to go back in and clean it up.
What I suggest, Mr. Speaker, is that the roads that will be needed over the next few years — the Forest Service and the companies know where they're going to be logging over the next few years — be built now, be built properly and be built at government expense, and that those costs, plus interest, be charged back to loggers when they go in to log those areas. The equipment is available, the technology is available, the skilled operators are available. It should be done now in advance of the need, and done properly. Once again, the partial return to government of this money that it would cost to build these roads would be immediate, and over the years the investment would be more than repaid.
Regarding seedlings, Mr. Speaker, that's the other item relative to the forest industry. I have been astonished to find out that while the government allows the private production of seedlings — this is supposed to be a free-enterprise government — you have to be, in effect, a mega-corporation to get a licence to do it. A cottage industry or a cottage operator with whatever number of acres who wants to produce seedlings — and, by the way, the government can make sure that they are quality seedlings — is not allowed to produce those seedlings, and we have a shortage of seedlings in this province, Mr. Speaker, as we heard in this House. We are not going to have the tree-planting program which we could have, because of a shortage of seedlings. Here we have a business opportunity; we have an employment opportunity; we have an opportunity to reinvest a small amount of money for a big return in a renewable resource. A stupid, arbitrary rule, which in fact militates against the small and even medium-sized entrepreneur, is holding that kind of program back. I consider this kind of arbitrary action by government complete business insanity, if not political insanity as well.
We have had a proposal put forward in the Kootenays — not by a politician such as myself, but it's a good proposal, so I'm going to repeat it here. It's a proposal put forward by a Selkirk College board. The Selkirk College board, as you probably are aware, like other community colleges, is partly elected and partly appointed by government. They have suggested, in cooperation and consultation with private firms and on the model and initiative that we've seen with the discovery parks in B.C., that we have a discovery park in the Kootenays, and that this be related particularly to the mining and forestry industries. Mr. Speaker, when a college council approves that kind of a program, you'd think that the government would listen. I would have hoped that at least the Minister of Universities, Science and Communications (Hon. Mr. McGeer) would have listened, especially when you consider the fact that we have some of the technology that I mentioned earlier already in place in the West Kootenay in the high-technology industry related directly to the mining industry. But that proposal has been turned down by the provincial government. Once again, that's something that would involve the private sector but not a great deal of government money; it would involve a proposal which private firms and a college council have already made.
Mr. Speaker, over the period of the six or seven years that the present government has been in, we have seen the size of government increase each and every year. The second member for Surrey (Mr. Hall) has already talked about this in this debate. We have seen a government that said that governments should be economic, that they should be small and that they should stay out of people's lives…. We have seen a growth, an escalation in the size of government, relative to the gross provincial product that has increased at a faster rate than we've ever seen in the history of the province.
In addition, we have also seen the indebtedness, which each British Columbia citizen has to underwrite through the
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Crown corporations, grow at a far faster rate, relative to inflation — in other words, in real dollars — than we have ever seen before in the province of British Columbia.
We've heard people say on that side of the House that the government should be operated as a business. Most businesses that I know of have to work in some sort of a marketplace. I don't see any concern about the reality of the economy of B.C., the reality of the marketplace which we as a province all find ourselves in, which is a reality of world markets. I don't see any concern or acknowledgement of that by government at all. They're simply saying: "We want to increase rates. We're not going to call it tax increases. We're just going to increase water licence fees and user fees for all kinds of services by several hundred percent. We're going to get our bucks, and we don't care how we do it."
Some of the increases and the impositions have been what I would call bizarre. Probably the most bizarre recently are the fees that have been established for health inspection. Here is a service designed to protect the public. The restaurateur doesn't particularly want to be inspected by the health inspector. He is inspected — as are grocery stores, persons installing septic tanks and things like that — as a service to the public to protect the public's health. Now this essential service is being charged for. I suspect it's because of opposition from the inspectors themselves, who I guess didn't want to have to walk around with change dispensers on their belts like they were working in a beer parlour or on a bus or something, that these fees are going to be collected by Victoria. They're not going to be collected at the time. So someone is going to be inspected, and in a little while they're going to get a bill from Victoria for a service which they never requested in the first place.
I cannot see how any of these things are helping the body politic, economy or people of B.C. cope with these difficult times. The worst thing against us right now, I would say, is a lack of confidence and faith in the future. I believe government should be leading and not discouraging investment, business and small individuals with agricultural land who would like to be in the business of growing seedlings, expanding the tourist industry or of surviving in these very difficult times.
We in this province have a great deal of faith in the B.C. economy, the people of B.C. and in the resources that we have here. I would hope that at some point this spring or summer the people either get an opportunity to deal with the amount of confidence that they have in the government or that the government itself will come to its senses and show a little positive leadership that will indeed improve the economy of B.C. so that individuals here can make a return on what they have invested in time and money and take a little pride in their province once more.
MR. BARNES: Mr. Speaker, may I have leave to make an introduction.
MR. BARNES: I want to introduce Mr. Carlos Charles, who is here visiting in the assembly this afternoon. He is from the Solicitor-General's Ministry of the federal government. Mr. Charles is an associate regional consultant with that ministry. I would like to ask the House to make him welcome.
MR. DAVIS: I'm mightily concerned about the state of our economy. I'm concerned about it nationally and I'm concerned about it provincially. It's weak and it's apparently getting weaker. We're going to see more unemployment and more belt-tightening before things pick up again. Our economy is certainly weak nationally, and it's also getting weaker. Consumerism and welfare statism are doing it in, it seems. Ottawa, having spent much of our substance on people programs, doesn't have the will or indeed the wherewithal to launch new job-producing projects on any scale. It's too busy paying old debts and fretting about federal-provincial relations to do anything positive about unemployment on the one hand, and nation-building on the other.
[Mr. Strachan in the chair.]
Government at both levels, federal and provincial, have tied their hands financially in a number of ways. For instance, 85 percent of the federal budget is contractual or fixed, in the sense that it makes regular monthly or quarterly payments. It has to make these periodic payments directly to people or indirectly to other governments and agencies across the country serving people. It can't avoid these regular commitments. It has to keep paying. It has to make payments on the national debt at regular intervals. It has to pay old-age pensions regularly, unemployment insurance regularly; health and welfare subsidies to the provinces at least on a quarterly basis; finance fiscal transfers to the have-not parts of Canada; fund Indian Affairs regularly, and so on.
Its obligations are not only overwhelming but they are contractual and fixed; they are not easily changeable. Hence, our federal government has little room for financial manoeuvrability. It has less than 5 percent of its income, only 5 percent, which it can use to build real things like harbours, airports or vocational training centres. Defence is miniscule in Canada today, and communications are expensive. It's sad, but our national government is now so heavily committed financially in the people-program area, an area which common sense and the British North America Act say falls largely within provincial jurisdiction, that it can't do much about unemployment these days.
Our national government has been profligate for years. Since the early 1970s it has been running a deficit of substantial proportions. It has been spending much more money than it has been taking in in taxes. Now it has reached the ridiculous. Outgo equals 120 percent of income; $5 goes out from Ottawa for every $4 taken in by the federal government in taxation. The result: we have the largest financial shortfall, the largest deficit, relatively speaking, of any nation in the western world. We're running a 20-percent deficit, as compared to 10 percent in the United States and 5 percent in the United Kingdom.
Federally, we're on a spending binge where people programs are concerned. We're turning over most of our tax dollars to people for consumption, and doing little if anything to improve our national infrastructure — transportation, communications, factories, plants for producing goods and services of all kinds. Worse than that, we're deluding our people by keeping prices down internally: subsidizing the use of high-cost foreign oil, for example; refusing to let producers charge a proper market price that will cover their costs; discriminating against foreign investors, with the result that they're abandoning their losing operations — losing because of this government discrimination — and going elsewhere.
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What happens in one's own private affairs when one continually spends more than he or she earns, largely on consumer goods? What happens when he or she has to borrow more and more? Their bankers tighten up on their line of credit; interest rates go up against them; they're a bad risk, at least until they mend their ways. So it is with Canada at large. Our country, being sloppily and sometimes wilfully mismanaged, has a poor credit rating. No wonder our interest rates are high. We haven't learned to control inflation and we're falling down as producers. We're making faces, believe it or not, at foreign investors, savers in other parts of the world who could come to our rescue but whose capital is apparently not wanted here these days.
Yesterday the Prime Minister said he didn't want to step down from his high office as long as unemployment was high and inflation had the nation by the throat. He didn't tell us that one out of every ten Canadians of working age is now out of work, a post–World War II high. He didn't say that our inflation rate of 12 percent was running ahead of that of most countries in the western world. It's now getting on to double that of the United States. It's much higher than inflation rates in western Europe, certainly higher than inflation rates in countries like Japan. He didn't tell us how he was going to trim his budget and at the same time create more jobs. He didn't say how he was going to cut Ottawa's oil bill and keep our cost of living from going up more rapidly in the immediate future.
Yes, our national economy, with its 20 percent federal deficit, with no federal money or very little federal money for make-work projects, with energy and other price increases still having to work their way through the system, and with foreign capital looking elsewhere, is in difficulties. We're on a slippery slope. A business turnaround — even if it occurs in the United States and western Europe later this year — isn't going to rescue most Canadians in 1982. It's going to be 1983 at the earliest before foreign markets put our resource industry employees back to work, before our dipping Canadian dollar gives our Canadian manufacturers some elbow-room and before Canadians themselves can muster enough savings to get construction moving in central Canada and the Atlantic provinces, and moving with some confidence out here in the west.
Prime Minister Trudeau is a genius in some things, but he also has his faults. He likes a fight, and his timing isn't always the best. Now that we're short on capital, now that we need the savings of others to supplement our own, he's stressing nationalism as a policy above all other policies. He's insisting that our oil industry be Canadianized virtually overnight. He's giving federal grants in lieu of depreciation to Canadian companies only. And he's insisting through the Foreign Investment Review Agency that foreign investors take a back seat if there's any possibility that Canadian firms can take over their ideas and do the job here at home.
Mr. Speaker, we're all for more Canadian ownership and control; certainly I am. I'm for Canadians having every opportunity to invest in their own country, especially in resource industries where the resources essentially belong to the people. But to deliberately curtail resource and other industrial development when our own economy is short of essential commodities like oil, when we have so much unemployment and when a healthy economy is itself the best guarantee that Canadians will be able to save and be able to buy into and to control their own industry, makes no sense to me. Move in some areas. Move gradually, but above all move fairly, and don't discriminate unduly. And use the free play of market forces wherever possible. This is the only safe and reasonable way not only to self-determination but also to full employment and financial stability, particularly financial health in the long run.
Our British Columbia scene is better, certainly, than the Canadian one by comparison. We of course have the federal overlay. We're facing a measure of inflation buttressed by high interest rates which are, in large part, Ottawa-induced. We cannot attract foreign capital the way we used to. Ours is therefore seen by outsiders as a provincial economy which, while it has a tremendous resource potential and is a good bet, is a good bet not in the short term but only in the longer term: not next year or in the next year or two when we're trying so hard to get our own costs well under control, but in the longer run, when saner policies will, I hope, be in effect from one coast to another.
Make no mistake about it, Mr. Speaker, we're as inflation-prone as the rest of Canada, if not more so. We've got militant unions and a public service with the bit in its teeth. Restraint is needed, especially in the public sector where wages and salaries are generally the highest in Canada. So I for one endorse the government's restraint program, modest as it is, reasonable as it is, given the fact that one out of every ten British Columbians will be unemployed this year, that private incomes in total are tending to level off and that our own expanding people program — which now takes up 75 percent of our total budget — will call for a provincial government level of expenditure which is high or nearly as high, relatively speaking, as it was during the giddy NDP years.
Back in the days of the former premier, W.A.C. Bennett, the provincial government spent about 12 percent of the gross provincial product on goods and services. The present Leader of the Opposition, when he was Premier, drove the 12 percent figure up to 18 percent between 1972 and 1975. This 18 percent figure dropped a point or two in the late 1970s. But now, with its tax revenues faltering and expenses continuing on an upward march, we are heading towards an 18 percent figure again. I know the budget makes it look like 17 percent or less, but if one allows fully for northeast coal and likely cost overruns in health, we're going to be up there in the rarefied atmosphere approaching 18 percent — especially if the housing market doesn't pick up briskly in the United States this fall, or if our mining industry doesn't get a shot in the arm from rising metal prices soon and high interest rates continue to make it difficult for our construction industry, especially housing, for another 12 months at least. Whereas our provincial government was generating a surplus, an excess of income over expenditure from 1976 through 1980, whereas it developed a $1 billion contingency fund in the interim, we are now having to draw heavily on that fund. This year it looks as if we will be able to spend 5 percent more than our current tax intake and still stay in the black. Ours, therefore, is not really a balanced budget, at least on an annual basis. But it's balanced if you take one year with the next. It's important to say that we have stayed in the black because we put something aside in the good years, enough at least to look after the bad years, including 1982.
I'm worried, nevertheless. I'm worried about our ability to live with the budget, which we will be voting for. Certainly I'll be voting for it tomorrow night. I'm worried about income — that it may not be enough. I'm worried about outgo, including additional health costs and the as yet to be
[ Page 7125 ]
identified way of financing the Tumbler Ridge branch line to B.C. Rail. Income, in other words, could be overestimated. Outgo, meanwhile, could be underestimated. This would be a new thing for B.C., because traditionally — and I know the official opposition has always said this — it was the opposite. Incomes tended to be underestimated and expenditures inflated. We are perhaps moving from a safe position in the black to a tenuous position from a budget-balancing point of view. I say this mainly because I'm personally pessimistic about the business upturn. How quickly it will occur, not only generally in Canada but also in B.C…. It may be further away — say, well into 1983 — than most of us like to think.
The greatest uncertainty as I see it is on the income side, and particularly in relation to resource development — revenues, for instance, from our forest industries, mining, and the energy sector. Take natural gas. Why would anyone bid for new gas acreage in northeastern B.C. when the chance of marketing their new-found resource is limited for some years an hen the wellhead price, or netback, in B.C. is depressed, and when the B.C. government is unable to match the royalty and other tax cuts that Alberta is offering to prospective developers on the prairies? Last fall Premier Lougheed gave half a billion dollars of relief to small oil and gas companies with shut-in reserves. That was to help them over a difficult cash-flow situation. Now he's announced a much bigger program — a $5 billion program to get drilling going again on a larger scale, in respect to both oil and gas. Tax cuts on his part mean more money in the industry's pocket, more money for exploration and development. Drilling rigs may not be leaving Alberta at the rate they were last year, but that doesn't mean they won't be thinking twice about B.C.
Petrochemicals have been Alberta's ace in the hole in the last couple of years. A number of big plants have been built and others are under construction in our sister province now. Again, they get important tax breaks. They can buy cheap Alberta gas in the field if necessary. Any transportation problems they face are also being overcome with special government assistance or tax breaks. Why look to B.C. when our government has set its face sternly against giving any B.C. user, even of B.C. gas, any price break whatsoever. It will be interesting to see how Ocelot Industries does at Kitimat. It'll be interesting to see whether we eventually get a petrochemical industry at Powell River, courtesy of an expensive pipeline to Vancouver Island. They'll be test cases. If they make money, that's great; but it will be in the late 1980s before we see any rush to B.C. insofar as petrochemicals based on natural gas are concerned.
There are a few other comments I have about our current provincial budget. One has to do with natural gas again. I noticed the comment in the budget papers that the implicit subsidy — and that's the term used in the papers — to B.C. consumers is an estimated $166 million in 1982. Are we going to continue to subsidize the use of natural gas in this province? Are we going to copy the federal government and hide the true cost of energy from our people? Why shouldn't we face up to true costs and price all our products in this province — certainly those which are wasting resources, like natural gas — at least at a break-even figure? I've ever been in favour of hiding those kinds of costs. I don't favour subsidizing the use of energy of any kind, especially depleting resources like the petroleum fuels. So the sooner the province picks up this $166 million the better — adds, in other words, $166 million to the income side of the budget. This would add, in effect, another 2 percent to the income of the government at the provincial level, and it would help to put us on a sounder basis insofar as energy production and consumption in B.C. are concerned.
Over to electricity. I think the provincial government did the right thing in raising its fee for water used in the generation of hydroelectric power. As the Minister of Finance said when he introduced this budget, B.C. Hydro pays no profits tax or corporation capital tax. Also, most of its dams are exempt from property taxes for school purposes. In other words, it doesn't have to pay the same kinds of taxes nor anything like as much tax as private investor–owned utilities do. It doesn't pay the same kinds of taxes you and I do, Mr. Speaker. So it should make a contribution to our provincial economy in another way. The water-use tax makes a lot of sense in this context. It can help B.C. Hydro pay its own way in this province. By making a contribution of between $100 million and $150 million a year to the income side of our budget, it will help firm up the total contributions made by our natural resource industries in 1982.
The leader of the official opposition and others on the opposite side of the House have wept some crocodile tears about Cominco having to pay more tax to the province in the form of water-use fees. It is a big bite, of course. It is a sudden one. But since when did the NDP worry about the CPR and its subsidiaries. I am sure they would have imposed this tax or some similar tax in order to strip off the so-called resource rent created by operations of this kind. We have heard a lot from Bob Williams and others in the NDP on this subject in the past. They, of course, would have gone further. They would have taken a much bigger bite out of the Comincos and the Alcans in this province, and in jig time they would have been saying that the provincial water or rental fee still isn't high enough.
So much for saying one thing and meaning another. I would like to hear how they would deal with the real issues, the bigger issues in this budget: how to curtail spending and how to increase income in ways which are consistent with more jobs and lower interest rates. So far they haven't given us any ideas as to how we can keep our B.C. economy on an even keel while the federal government stumbles from one lash-up budget to another It is a challenge, I admit, but it is a challenge which an official opposition should also do its best to meet. Otherwise it is not being a loyal opposition at all.
There are several other matters which concern me. I will try to deal with them at another time. I am still very much opposed to a capital tax on any kind of business whatsoever. I am still opposed to a school tax on machinery and equipment in industrial and commercial establishments. I hope we manage to avoid that kind of impost in this province. It is not common in other provincial jurisdictions across Canada; it is not known in the states of the U.S.A. I hope we don't fall into that trap.
I think my time is drawing to a close, Mr. Speaker, so I will finish my remarks.
MR. HANSON: I take my place on the main motion. I have no trouble voting against this government's budget. There is a very interesting line in the conclusion of the budget speech on page 19, where it says: "This is not a budget of illusions." This is a budget of illusions, Mr. Speaker, and I am going to address myself to the illusion and reality of the present economy of my riding and Vancouver Island. This government has actively impaired the economy of my con-
[ Page 7126 ]
stituency and Vancouver Island over the last few years. I am just going to explain to you what I mean by that.
I've been involved, trying to bring to the attention of this government, the error of their ways in terms of funding and financing energy, ferries and support of small business on Vancouver Island, and it's always been like talking to a stump. They have not listened; they have not heeded. I'd like to detail a number of examples.
MR. HANSON: The extras of "Quest for Fire" are a little unruly today, Mr. Speaker.
MR. KEMPF: You're from the "Minority All-Stars."
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. Would all hon. members please come to order.
MR. KEMPF: You don't even know what work is!
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order!
MR. HANSON: The B.C. Ferries routes 1 and 2 from the island to the mainland are our highways. There are some interesting figures when you analyze the financing of the B.C. Ferry Corporation. What we have developing now is a situation where not only did this government sell the ferries to eastern financial institutions where we leased them back, but now the government will not even provide an adequate amount of money so that those lease agreements can be properly met.
It says in the annual report of the Ministry of Highways: "The highway equivalent subsidy for the ferries is a vote to provide for the annual highway equivalent subsidy to the B.C. Ferry Corporation and the lease payments and related administrative costs for ferries subleased to and operated by the corporation." In this annual report of 1980-81, the total budget of the Ministry of Transportation and Highways was $515 million. The subsidy was roughly 10 percent of that, or $52 million. That subsidy is really our portion of the Highways budget. If you analyze the electoral districts of Vancouver Island, you find nine ridings and ten seats. Victoria, in terms of the 1980-81 annual report, received $522 out of $515 million. That's not unusual, because it's a municipal area like Vancouver, and it doesn't get the Highways budget.
However, if you add up the electoral districts on Vancouver Island you find that the budget of 1980-81 came to $52 million. As I pointed out, that was roughly 10 percent of the entire Ministry of Transportation and Highways budget. However, we have about 20 percent of the population. In other words, we don't get our share of that budget per se, but where we do make it up….
MR. HANSON: Well, it goes to goat trails in the Cariboo.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. I'll ask the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland), the member for Mackenzie (Mr. Lockstead) and the member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) to please come to order.
MR. HANSON: They don't like logic on that side of the House. They don't like substantive and empirical data being brought to the House, where we can have a rational debate.
What I'm pointing out is that our portion of the Ministry of Transportation and Highways budget of the province of British Columbia comes in the form of that highway subsidy. In 1980 it was roughly 10 percent. In 1981 it was roughly 10 percent. However, in this budget not only do we not have an increase to match inflation, but we actually have a reduction of 25 percent in the amount of money that was made available from last year. So our portion of the actual Ministry of Transportation and Highways budget, rather than being about 10 percent, which is half of our population, is now 7.4 percent. That increase, which is going to have to be recovered by the fare box and curtailment of sailings, is going to have a direct negative impact on the economy of Vancouver Island. There is no doubt about it. Mr. Speaker, you may be aware that that 25 percent slash in the provincial government share to the Ferry Corporation doesn't allow the corporation to adequately cover its lease costs paid to the financial institutions in eastern Canada that own our ferries. They have also had to collapse the peak period where they put on extra vessels to handle the increased seasonal load. They've had to collapse that period by about six weeks, so the small tourist-related businesses on Vancouver Island and in my own riding are going to suffer a negative impact, which is a direct policy of your government. I would have thought that the Minister of Tourism (Hon. Mrs. Jordan) would be one of the first on her feet in this House to object to such usurious rates.
So we have a government that is not really a government at all; it's a kind of grandiose tax-collection agency. They established a large number of Crown corporations, and they've tried to make them the black hats in the old cowboy movie. They make them put the squeeze on the public. It's such narrow economics.
That highway system which happens to be on water is our lifeline. Last November this government increased the commercial rate, through their people on the corporation, by roughly 25 percent. So for every bit of goods that comes across from the mainland to Vancouver Island and back, two dollars a foot must be added to the cost of living and the cost of doing business on Vancouver Island. That is absolutely ridiculous. If small businesses are to be competitive and are to survive on Vancouver Island, and in my own electoral area, there has to be a conceptual change by the government. They have to view that highway system on water as a public service and not a toll booth for their own collection agency.
Now we're faced with a slash of 25 percent in that subsidy. We're getting fewer and fewer sailings, the turnaround time is going to be longer and we're going to have longer lineups. The over-height vessel has moved to route 2 between Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay. So the recreationists, the people who want to come to Vancouver Island for holidays because they haven't got enough money to make a long journey — we want them to spend their money here in British Columbia — will have nothing to face but long lineups. It's unfair; it's discriminatory; it's bad business; it's narrow business; it's just a tax-collector government form of business.
Mr. Speaker, there are bucks unlimited for the projects that they want, but when it comes to services required for the social and economic well-being, no way at all.
AN HON. MEMBER: Where does the money come from?
[ Page 7127 ]
MR. HANSON: The money comes from the taxpayers of Vancouver Island, who are not getting their fair share of the transportation budget.
So that's the transportation situation. The government actually impairs the economy of Vancouver Island because they're unwilling to maintain a decent transportation system back and forth to give the people of Vancouver Island their fair share of the transportation dollar.
Energy. In greater Victoria many small businesses and about 5,000 residences rely on air butane for their energy needs. Air butane is a synthetic gas. Because we don't have a pipeline linked to the mainland, we burn this synthetic gas, which is transported from the mainland and put into a pipeline system here in Victoria.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
MR. HANSON: Why don't you get on your feet when it's your time and make some sense yourself?
This air-butane system has been a closed system for a number of years, but the important fact is that people on Vancouver Island are going to be asked to pay four times the amount that people on the mainland pay for natural gas. We already pay three times as much, and now we're going to pay four times. We're going to pay $1.30 per billing unit, whereas on the mainland they're going to pay about 30 cents. Now is that an impediment to small business? Is that an impediment to small drycleaners, to restaurants, hotels, residences? Of course it is. Again, it's a discriminatory tax on the people of greater Victoria. They discriminate in transportation, in energy; they discriminate in the fact that they don't pay enough attention to the actual basic needs of this area. They're lazy.
They don't do the job; they're not a government. This is the message that the community has got to understand. They're just a tax collection agency. Crown corporations do the tax collecting. They indexed all the other taxes — gasoline, tobacco. It's all indexed. They're trying to make the Legislature redundant, Mr. Speaker. They don't like the Legislature; they don't like the light shining in at all.
There are about six hundred reasons why I'm voting against this budget. I'm going to talk about just a few. One of them is the ferries; another is that air butane. I'm hoping the B.C. Utilities Commission is going to do the fair thing and make a ruling that the people of Vancouver Island should pay the same amount for their gas as the people on the mainland. That would remove a serious impediment to small business, and I know the members on that side of the House want to see small business on Vancouver Island thrive.
MR. BRUMMET: Where does the subsidy come from? From us.
MR. HANSON: We have a postage-stamp policy in this province for energy, for electrical and gas. No matter where you live, you pay the same amount — except in Victoria. That's discrimination, Mr. Member.
MR. BRUMMET: How much subsidy do you want? For everything?
MR. HANSON: We just want what you get in your own riding. That's all.
MR. BRUMMET: We produce it.
MR. SPEAKER: — Order, please. The member for North Peace River will come to order.
MR. HANSON: The member for North Peace River has asked me what kind of a subsidy the people of Victoria want. They just want their fair share, Mr. Speaker. They want nothing more and nothing less: they just want to pay exactly what people on the mainland pay, not four times more.
I think one of the crucial reasons for voting against the Social Credit government's budget is the impact it's going to have on health care, as we've already seen in the last few days. Here in Victoria we have a hospital system called Juan de Fuca Hospitals. It has seven units and serves a particular need, an extended-care need. They are elderly people; they need full-time care and they have to be in an extended-care hospital. They are very important hospitals because they are relieving the congestion in our regular hospitals, in the acute-care hospitals.
Anyone who has tried to get into a B.C. hospital in the last year or so knows there are fantastically long waiting lists for elective surgery. Why is that? Because a large number of beds in all of'the hospitals of British Columbia are occupied by people who have no place to go other than that bed. There have to be extended-care and intermediate-care facilities to relieve that congestion, to free up our acute-care hospitals.
As a result of this budget, the government has underfunded the extended-care hospitals, the Juan de Fuca Hospitals system here in Victoria, by roughly 5 percent. The impact of that reduction has been that the board is meeting now to close beds. They are going to leave the extended-care beds in these hospitals empty because they cannot service them. Rather than jeopardizing the quality of care that's given to the patients in those seven hospitals, with 75 people in each one, those beds, as each is freed up by a person's dying or going into acute care, or going into some other facility, as each is vacated it will not be filled by someone coming from an acute-care facility — because of underfunding.
Isn't that about the most rotten thing you could imagine? It's an insane policy. It flies in the face of all statements in the budget that there will be no curtailment of the quality of health care and services. It's appearing before us every day in the newspapers. As the Juan de Fuca Hospital Society reduces its bed count from 75 to somewhere near 60 in each facility over the next four to six months, and as they lay off 128 casual, on-call health-care workers — nurses, nursing aides, cooks, orderlies, etc. — in these extended-care hospitals, the pressure on the acute-care hospitals is going to build again.
To make matters worse, the acute-care hospitals already have an enormous waiting list. I'd like to tell you something about that. Currently the waiting lists for elective surgery…. Elective surgery is not life-or-death surgery, but it is the kind of surgery that could keep a person off work; it could be extremely painful; it could be something that's aggravated over time into a more serious condition.
Let me just tell you: at the Royal Jubilee the average waiting list for 1982 has ranged between 900 and 1,300 people. There are 350 urgent cases. In the minds of the public, urgent means right away: "Doctor, when do I get into that bed?" In Victoria if you go to the doctor today and he says that you have an urgent need for surgery, you are going to wait two and a quarter months. Victoria General has
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between 800 and 900 elective surgery people waiting to get in — that's a wait of seven to nine months. If you need a hernia operation, cataract operation or minor surgery to get you back to work, it's a seven- to nine-month wait. There's a staff shortage at the Jubilee.
The long-term care beds that I was telling you about, that log-jam in the acute-care hospitals…. The Royal Jubilee has between 108 and 180 long-term care patients occupying acute-care beds. The Victoria General has between 60 and 85 beds locked up, while we have this great log-jam waiting list. Saanich has between eight and nine beds. Construction of the new Helmcken Road Hospital has been delayed; it will not open until next year, as announced by the minister. This current crisis in the health-care system is going to persist, and it's aggravated by this budget. That's why we have to vote against it on this side of the House.
Hospital care is not a luxury; it is a basic right in a civilized society. The basics are quality health care, quality education, shelter, food, etc. These are the areas that this government pays no attention to whatsoever. They're negligent; they're deficient. They should go to the people. Give the people a chance to decide what they want to do.
I mentioned earlier how the government had actively impaired the economy of Vancouver Island through their policies or their inaction. I'd like to tell you about a couple of examples where they could have acted. They could have shown some leadership and they didn't. Everyone knows that Victoria is an administrative centre. It's a government administrative centre; it's a tourist centre; and it has a relatively small amount of manufacturing. There has been an exodus of manufacturing over the last few years. In terms of administration, the federal government said to the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Williams): "We want to take the headquarters of the RCMP away from Victoria; we want to take those 150 jobs, with a payroll of $7 million a year, and all the ancillary services that go with it and move it to the mainland." They wanted to move this important administrative centre out of the capital.
They said: "We know this situation only exists in one other province, in Quebec, but we think we can get away with it with you because you're patsys in terms of negotiations. You don't dig in." When the federal government says "roll" they roll. There were 150 jobs including the clerical backup, and all the support services that go with that transferred out of Victoria. When you take a payroll of $5 million to $7 million and yank it out of Victoria and add to the exodus resulting from high energy and high transportation costs on the Island, it is a serious impairment to the economy. That was one. The federal government got away with it. The Attorney-General put up no fight whatsoever; he just rolled over. Take it. It's a big plum. Old softie — that's what they call him down there on the hill.
Next is Labatt Breweries. Up until very recently there was one remaining brewery on Vancouver Island; there had been many. Even in Victoria there had been seven breweries. Recently they had all collapsed and there was one left, Labatt Breweries up on Douglas Street. Last summer they employed 130 people. They had 47 percent of the market share on Vancouver Island. Forty-seven percent of all the people who bought bottled beer on Vancouver Island bought beer from this particular Labatt brewery here and kept 130 people going on a shift. They produced 6,000 dozen packaged beer and umpteen thousand gallons of draft beer, serving only Vancouver Island. They had their own union and bargained collectively right here on Vancouver Island for their own contract with their own employer. It was an excellent situation all the way around. What happened? Labatt made an announcement one day: "We're closing." Two days later they started their last draft run and gave walking papers to 130 jobs. Some of them got jobs as a result of the seniority list over in their plant in New Westminster. Some of them didn't get jobs. There was a $5 million payroll — goodbye. We say to Labatt: "Why?" They said: "Because we can make more profit by serving Vancouver Island from New Westminster." Even though this Labatt plant here made money, was not a losing operation but was a viable operation….
Did the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Hon. Mr. Hyndman) sit down with Labatt and say: "Look here, there are more criteria to your operation in Victoria than just increasing your profit margin on your beer operation, and you'll have to tell your friends at the head office in Toronto that we want that operation. In terms of our criteria and your corporate citizenship, that operation is a viable operation and we want you to stay. We know you make a lot of money on your wine operation and on your Laura Secord operations and your condominium operations in the United States, but for the social and economic well-being of Victoria, we want that brewery to keep going." With it went bottle-collection jobs. All of the remaining material that is left over from the brewing operation went up into Saanich and was feed for cattle. There were labelling and all sorts of jobs that went with that brewery. It wasn't just that building on Douglas Street. Did this government talk tough to Labatt? No way. It was the old softie routine again. They rolled over, goodbye, and now Labatt wants to demolish the building. It is incredible. There is no economic leadership at all from the government, none whatsoever.
Let me give you another example in the food industry. Everybody on Vancouver Island knows that we are becoming too reliant on the mainland. We have the high ferry cost for commercial rates. Every time you buy something it costs $2 a foot just for the transportation of that commodity. It is in our interest to be more self-reliant and try to develop our own economic strengths. One of them is land-base food in terms of Saanich Peninsula, etc., but the primary one is our food fishery. Here in Victoria we have the newest cannery on Vancouver Island. It is seven years old. It is called Oakland Fisheries. At its peak it employed 300 people. There were 250 trollers that came into Oakland. I don't know how much you know of the fishery of that particular operation, but it was set up primarily as a fresh troll fishery where they would fillet and so on. But it's an interesting cannery, because it's extremely flexible and well adapted to a lot of different functions. It can do fresh fishery, fresh filleting, canning, salting, pickling, smoking, etc. It's right here in Victoria. It employed 300 people at peak time and maybe 75 in off periods, custom-jarring, smoking, salting, etc.
It's owned by the Marubeni Corp. and the Hoko Fishing Co. of Japan. They decide what species are harvested. They want only salmon and herring, so the plant operates when the salmon and herring are running. They've decided they want out. They have a bigger, more modern plant over in Richmond called the Cassiar cannery. They're pulling out of Victoria; a seven-year-old cannery closed down. Most people in Victoria don't even know where it is. It's right beside Laurel Point Inn. There's no smell, and you can't see it from the highway. Along with the fleet comes all the marine technology, the ship-chandlery, the electronics, the stores, the ice, etc.
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Since Oakland has announced its intention to close…. Let me point out that this is under provincial authority; the province gives them the licence to process the fish. Did the government sit down with them and say: "You're making money here. You're not utilizing this plant to its maximum. You're not harvesting groundfish. You're not feeding fresh fish into the restaurants or the local markets. You're not exporting. You're not sending it to Alberta. You're not utilizing this facility properly. Get on with it or you'll lose your licence in Vancouver, Namu, or somewhere else." Did they say that to them? No way. They said: "Bye."
So we lose the cannery. We lost the RCMP headquarters. We lost Labatt's brewery. We lost the fish cannery. We lost the bakeries. When does it end? Does it happen out of nothing? It happens because of the deficient energy, transportation and taxation policies of the government. You've impaired the economy of Vancouver Island and of greater Victoria.
It's like talking to a stump. Here we are in Victoria with the highest unemployment rate….
MR. HANSON: They're all happy because they've just got QCs, and they can charge 40 percent more on their legal bills. That's the only reason they're smiling today.
Victoria has 11.7 percent unemployment. It's the highest unemployment west of St. Catharines, Ontario.
MR. HANSON: There's a clutch of lawyers down there, Mr. Speaker — in a coven.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. HANSON: I'm trying to get the attention of the government for them to understand that 11.7 percent unemployment in Victoria, the highest of any urban centre west of St. Catharines, Ontario, is a totally unacceptable figure. Vancouver Island has 13.4 percent unemployment.
The youth unemployment — those are the people between 15 and 24 years of age — is just a shade under 20 percent. Just one of the 611 reasons why I'm voting against this budget is that they cut out the youth employment program for this summer. Those employment figures are going to almost double. There is no hope whatsoever for young people who want to work in the summer to finance their own education. Every year between 1972 and 1975 there was a youth employment program. There was work in government and all sorts of useful projects all over the province, and they cut it out. We recently announced a program where if we were government, we would create 10,000 jobs for students in British Columbia right now.
MR. KEMPF: What doing?
MR. HANSON: What doing? The member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) doesn't believe that students in this province should work.
MR. KEMPF: I never said that at all.
MR. HANSON: Mr. Speaker, there's a very disturbing statistic….
MR. SPEAKER: The member for Omineca will return to his own seat. This is the second warning.
MR. HANSON: The number of UIC claimants for the month of March in Victoria was 10,000. The importance of that statistic, Mr. Speaker, is that it is a 50 percent increase over March of last year. Let me recount a number of other similar figures: Port Alberni — the increase there in UIC claims over March of last year was 223 percent; Campbell River was up by 87.8 percent; Port Hardy by 160.8 percent; Nanaimo, by 57.4 percent; Courtenay by 61.1 percent. These figures are based on the active claims, Mr. Speaker. They do not include those on temporary layoff, those on sickness, maternity or seasonal fishing claims, or disentitled claimants such as those unavailable for work or those receiving WCB benefits, Isn't that amazing?
In this budget, the money to create new jobs is almost infinitesimal. There's nothing there. This is not, as outlined in the conclusions of the budget speech, a stimulus to the economy; it's a drag on the economy. Those hundreds of user increases and fee increases have been a drag on the economy. Those ferry increases on commercial rates, the air butane and the high energy costs, the lack of diversity in our forest industry, secondary processing, etc., letting things like secondary processing of our fish products and our manufacturing that could be there in our food industry…. These people are blind to it, Mr. Speaker.
I want to conclude by saying that this government is just a tax-collection agency. Either they're totally inactive as a non-interventionist force in the economy, or they actively aid and abet in impairing the economy with shortsighted, narrow policies. They cripple it with transportation rates and high interest rates. There is not one innovative thing that I can recall, Mr. Speaker, that they've done since taking office in 1976. It is just adding insult to injury in damaging health care and education and all of the basics that they should be attending to, to pour money into capital sinkholes, their own pet projects in downtown Vancouver and northeast coal, to the detriment of the economic and social well-being of all British Columbia and Vancouver Island in particular.
MR. RITCHIE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to defend this great budget. But before doing so I would like to say that it's sad indeed that someone so young and healthy, who could have a good political future if only he could get out of that dismal, gloomy, dark attitude that he has…. It's a typical speech by someone who has spent most of his adult life at the public trough. Mr. Speaker, he considers the health care of this province….
MR. HANSON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I find that remark by the member for Central Fraser Valley extremely offensive, and I would ask him to withdraw, please.
MR. SPEAKER: The only phrases or statements that the Chair can require withdrawal of are those which are determined as unparliamentary. However, this may be a good opportunity for me to quote from section 128 of Beauchesne's fourth edition:
"A personal attack by one member upon another is an offence against the House, in the person of one of its members, which on account of respect due from every member to the character and dignity of the House, as well as the importance of preserving reg-
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ularity of debates, calls for the interference of the Speaker in order that any irregularity into which a member may have been betrayed in the warmth of debate may be rectified and that any expressions which may be disrespectful to the House, or painful to the feelings of individual members, may be explained and apologized for."
I would recommend section 128 to all members.
MR. RITCHIE: I will be very pleased to withdraw that remark should it offend the member. Mr. Speaker, there are a few remarks in his speech that had somewhat the same effect on me; however, I'm used to hearing that. He called our health care in this province rotten — the best health care in North America. He talks about logic; he talks about the problem they have on Vancouver Island.
MR. HANSON: On a point of order, the member has made a comment which I find offensive, and he is misleading the House. Those were not my remarks.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. member, now we have used a phrase which cannot be condoned in the House. I must ask the member to withdraw the statement that the member is misleading the House. Would the member please withdraw that accusation. Then we can deal with the other point.
MR. HANSON: Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to withdraw that. The member must be correct in his attribution of my comments.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, you've heard the Chair say frequently that every member must accept the responsibility for statements made in this House. The accuracy or inaccuracy of the same cannot be determined by the Chair; therefore every member must accept responsibility. If exception is taken to its accuracy, then the time to make that correction is perhaps in debate or upon conclusion of that member's speech. It is irregular and certainly out of order to interrupt a member's speech in order to make that kind of correction.
The member for Central Fraser Valley, with temperate language, continues his speech.
MR. RITCHIE: Mr. Speaker, I was merely repeating what I thought I heard. However, the Blues will prove me right or wrong.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to comment on the remarks he made about the problem he apparently believes this government is creating on Vancouver Island. My friend, I would say that you have to be the greatest problem that Vancouver Island has.
MR. SPEAKER: Address the Chair, please.
MR. RITCHIE: Mr. Speaker, any member of this Legislature who would stand up and chase tourists away by claiming that there are going to be terrible, long lineups at our ferries is very misleading indeed. But you should remember that things don't work better when you continue to throw money at them. That is something he has obviously not learned yet. Governments can do things better without spending more and more of the taxpayer's money.
Mr. Speaker, he also called us lazy. I think it is very refreshing indeed that their new slogan is "Let's get to work." I think it is going to be refreshing indeed that they should decide at long last that they're going to get to work. You are going to find, Mr. Speaker, that getting to work they'll also get lucky. They'll find too that the harder they work the luckier they are going to get. I just wonder what those unemployed auto workers back east are thinking, or would think, if they knew that these stickers that say "Let's get to work" are carried on the burnpers of Renaults and Mercedes Benz and other foreign-made cars.
Mr. Speaker, he mentioned the question of economic leadership. As I stand here I want to tell you that I'm extremely excited about the economic leadership provided by this government. I'm terribly disappointed in theirs. The member for Vancouver–Little Mountain (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) said yesterday that she had about 40,000 good reasons for supporting this budget. I have 50,000 or more; and each reason, of course, is a job.
I can think of all the jobs that are being created by northeast coal, by B.C. Place, light rapid transit and the stadium. One disappointment we have, however, is one project that has failed to produce the jobs that were supposed to materialize. This is where we're going to touch a little bit on the economic leadership of one party versus the other. You see, one party so strictly adheres to their philosophical type of economic leadership that it leads them down the garden path.
Last Friday I had the privilege and the honour of being invited to speak in the great city of Nanaimo to the Croation people — wonderful people. I understand there were about 500 people there. After the formal part of the meeting and visiting around I had an opportunity to talk with some of the local people who were expressing their concern about the failure of the major hotel complex that was planned for Nanaimo and who further explained the disappointment of the city, which was, I believe, fully contemplating a major parking-lot development adjacent to it. Through their economic leadership we today have a large gaping hole in a prime spot of that fine city, which is not only an eyesore and a disappointment to those who were anticipating jobs, but also a great and, I think, a costly disappointment to the city. If they had not been led along the garden path by that economic leadership, they would have had the type of parking facility for the people that they were desirous of having, rather than what is now a project that has not even started and will cost considerably more than it would have cost had it gone ahead in the first place.
MRS. WALLACE: Where was your meeting? In the Commonwealth Centre?
MR. RITCHIE: No, I checked the Commonwealth Centre too, and that was another project, I believe, of your organization, the NDP, and a project that demonstrated their economic leadership. It is a very fine-looking centre, but I believe that 80 percent and possibly more of it is empty. I noticed the member for Nanaimo (Ms. Stupich) has his office there, and next door is a pub. I am not sure what else is there, because it was getting on in the evening and I didn't have time to look around. But I was extremely concerned about the way in which they tried to develop that hotel complex that was going to create jobs in Nanaimo. Having listened to the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea) last week, I would like
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to suggest to the economic leaders over there that what they should possibly do is consult with the small business specialists of that special committee of the NDP which travels around advising people how to be successful in business. I have a few members of the NDP in my constituency. They have talked to me about this particular project and they were very disturbed about it for two reasons: first, the financial involvement and, second, the question of the party indirectly getting itself involved with some international hotel chain. They are very disturbed at that. So you have very disappointed and upset members of your own party, plus a number of very disappointed people who were hoping to get work.
In this budget debate I am going to say some pretty radical things. I think it is only fair to warn you in advance that when I say "radical" I don't mean that in the arm-waving or dung-throwing sense. Rather, I mean that in the original sense of the word "radical": getting to the root of the problems facing our society and doing something about them. Before I get into these proposals, though, I'd like to make a brief comment on the alternative to the current budget which comes through from the other side. Above all it is a politically dishonest alternative — dishonest in the sense that it never owns up to the true costs of all the spending it proposes; it doesn't even come close. They talk about getting up a new financial institution for mortgage lending, and, with a feat of dazzling rhetoric, they say it could be done with the stroke of a pen. Some pen! I guess it's the same pen that created ICBC out of thin air. But that is an example of the awesome irresponsibility of the opposition. Either they have no concept of the cost of setting up a new financial institute or, what is worse, they know and they just won't tell the people because the people will be paying the bills. Would it cost $20 million or would it cost $200 million? Who knows? And they say: "Who cares? What's $200 million?" It used to be $100 million, but that was before inflation.
It's an insult to the credit union movement of this province and to the intelligence of the public. The bottom line with the opposition is that they don't want the people to know the true price of their proposals. They want a steel mill; they want secondary industry. But secondary industry is power-intensive, and they oppose every realistic low-cost power alternative. They want secondary industry on terms that would guarantee massive losses being subsidized by the taxpayer. They're great experimenters, but I don't really think that the people of British Columbia are in need of their kinds of experiments. We can do without the world's first test-tube white elephant.
It would be bad enough if they had all their facts together, but they don't. For years they've blamed the big corporations, and now they want to subsidize them to build a copper smelter. The member for Alberni (Mr. Skelly) has been so eloquent over the years in demanding higher fees from big companies that use our natural resources to reflect the hidden cost of development to the environment and the community. The member for Rossland-Trail (Mr. D'Arcy), on the other hand, is furious because he thinks we're overcharging Cominco for its water. Perhaps they could have a chat, if you could get them in the same room. Instead of sound analysis, they resort to distortion, scare tactics, and even bigotry.
The member for Burnaby-Edmonds (Ms. Brown) was recently renominated, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) was there talking about the government being taken by people with kimonos. If that had been my remark, the member for Burnaby-Edmonds would be calling me a racist, and the member for Skeena (Mr. Howard) would probably file a complaint with the ombudsman. Welcome to the wonderful world of the double standard. It's all right to toddle off with the Socialist International and talk about Nicaragua and brotherly love, but when you're at home, never miss a cheap shot at the Americans or Japanese. It's good politics; attack the Klan and damn the foreigners. You know where the vast majority of contracts are going — northeast coal. But if you go offshore, they just can't pass up the cheap shot.
I think that's enough depressing talk about that depressing opposition. Perhaps the next time they produce a policy paper on the economy they will take a hint from the ombudsman and include cartoons. It would certainly be in keeping with the level of their proposals.
This year, I believe, marks a decisive turning point in the history of British Columbia. I say that because of the emergence of a new philosophy in our budget which has the potential to capture the imagination of our people and to mobilize their creativity and drive in a way unheard of before. In British Columbia we have ample precedent for doing the impossible. Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see we are going to do it again. I'm referring to the housing and employment development bond. It is my personal belief that we are adopting an incentive approach, and this initiative may serve as a prototype for a totally new approach to government involvement in the economy. As members of this House will know, I have been involved in business, particularly relating to agriculture, for many years. On the basis of that experience and my time in government, I have come to some very basic conclusions about the way government deals with business, and I'd like to share some of them with you.
To begin with, I totally disagree with the concept in general that government benefits society by subsidizing everyday business operations of firms competing in the marketplace. Generally speaking, a business that needs a handout doesn't belong in business. There will be exceptions, of course, in the case of developing new technologies or new markets. In cases of abnormal risk or cost, government involvement can be justified provided some overall future benefit to the community can be demonstrated.
There's a big difference, however, between capturing new market opportunities or developing new technologies and passing out goodies to private firms. That road can only lead to two sure conclusions: inefficiency and charges of favouritism. The simple fact is that no government agency knows or can ever know business better than businesspeople and their customers. Any program of massive state intervention is doomed to failure by democracy — the democracy of the marketplace, in which everyone participates in economic planning which the socialists would restrict to a tiny elite.
In my view, basic Social Credit philosophy says it best: whatever is desirable and physically possible should be made financially possible. In essence, the need of business is for three things: a set of rules which ensure fair dealing and enforcement of contracts fairly arrived at; a climate of opportunity which permits growth…
MR. SPEAKER: The first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) will come to order — second asking.
MR. RITCHIE: …by keeping the level of taxation and regulation at a manageable levels; and, finally, sources of
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medium- and long-term capital at a reasonable price to allow those businesses both the stability and the flexibility they need to grow and prosper in our rapidly changing world. I see this new bond program as a step in this vital direction, and I'd like to see it shaped into a three-pronged tool for investment growth. Mr. Speaker, if I may be permitted a farm analogy — you may understand this one — it says: There is a lot of hay in the province for everyone; we just need a pitchfork to get it moving. The three prongs I have in mind would be three prongs aimed at the key targets of new capital for business development, for new housing stock and for agricultural development.
I'd like to see us target our direct assistance to business, as I have indicated, on a strategic market and technological development, and I'd like to eliminate general business subsidies or grants in favour of this investment fund approach, with loans based on tax-free returns to provide five- to ten -year money to B.C. businesses. Mr. Speaker, there would have to be guidelines, of course: the size of the loan would have to be limited; the business would have to meet criteria of viability, cash flow, and the number of employees hired; the business would have to be B.C.-owned and -operated; and the fund would require some contingency reserve or other backup against defaults. But the vital point is this: this fund could be set up and operate through existing institutions to everyone's benefit at a minimum cost.
There is no need, Mr. Speaker, to put the credit unions out of business, as would happen under the NDP plan. I do not think we need another bank in this province — certainly not one whose enormous startup costs would be borne by the taxpayer before one red penny of help went to anyone. I am hopeful, too, that this fund could be directed away from the asset basis from credit and surely look at earning capacity. Much has been done by large corporations in the case of the federal income debenture. The asset approach to financing reeks to me of the philosophy that says: "We will set you up today so that we can take you over tomorrow." That's the last thing I have in mind.
The second fund should be specifically aimed at providing affordable long-term money to the bona fide individual who wants to get into farming or to acquire additional land or buildings to improve their operations.
MR. SPEAKER: Would the first member for Victoria (Mr. Barber) please return to his seat.
MR. RITCHIE: They are not bothering me at all, Mr. Speaker. They wouldn't understand.
I believe we would be talking about up-to-30-year money here, with some sort of periodic adjustment — say, every five years — to maintain a satisfactory relationship to the prime rate. We are not talking about hobby farms. From time to time various governments in different jurisdictions have one way or another ended up subsidizing hobby farmers. I think that is always a mistake. The sad fact is that a lot of our people are hobby farmers without intending to be. As the cost of everything the farmer uses has risen in excess of farm revenue, the minimum size of a viable unit has gone up and the cost of land and money needed to buy it have led the pack. It is precisely this sort of concern that such a fund could address. We speak today of this green and that green. I can guarantee that if we can bring the price of green — that is, the interest rate — down, we can keep the farmer green and we can keep the province green for the rest of us.
Nowhere is this approach needed more than in housing. We have many housing programs and the intention is good. But the underlying approach, to my mind, is quite wrong. The massive failure of the U.S. public housing and urban renewal schemes is living proof that you do not solve any problem by merely throwing money at it. The grants and second mortgages we hand out to first-home buyers are, I believe, quite an ineffective way to encourage home ownership. They make relatively little difference, but they are costly to hand out and to administer. The kind of mortgage fund I have in mind could make a very substantial difference and save virtually the entire housing component of the ministry's budget. It has been proven recently that in economies already suffering under a high tax structure government revenues may actually increase as a result of a tax rate reduction. This happened two years ago in Puerto Rico, where the financial officials found that new economic activity encouraged by tax cuts more than compensated the treasury for the lower rates.
By the same token, if we could get the government out of housing handouts and into housing initiatives and incentives, I'm absolutely confident that the response of the housing construction market would be terrific. We have evidence of the response to the last-minute MURB extension which has reversed the apartment vacancy situation in many communities.
We often hear from members opposite that the market doesn't work. If that were true, why do the socialists want to make so many laws to stop it from working? The mortgage for first-time home-buyers, once again operating through our existing institutions at an established and fair administration cost, would make far more sense and do far more good than a Ministry of Housing or a housing bureaucracy component within the present ministry. The same thing applies to public and social housing. Governments have no expertise in building houses that people really want.
I remember a few years back when CMHC dynamited one project in Prince George rather than take the loss on completing it. I've seen public housing in Britain. It's sometimes hard to tell if it's been dynamited or not. If not, government housing usually looks like it should be. But that's the brave new world the opposition is offering our people — to be tenants in grey ghettos. Some future. I say no thanks, and so does anyone who has seen socialist housing up close. The alternative is an investment fund to track through the usurious interest rate policy, to give investors and builders the green light to build real housing that people want, and to maintain and improve income support programs such as SAFER, which give real housing choices to those people who don't want to live in a grey ghetto, or any other kind of state institution. The bond established in the budget is a great move, Mr. Speaker, but it should not be viewed in isolation, as it goes hand in hand with a very crucial move towards global treatment of government as a whole — and that is a vital reaffirmation of the Social Credit philosophy which believes in bigger people and smaller government.
The opposition will never trust the marketplace, Mr. Speaker, and yet they proclaim loudly that they are democrats. No system is more democratic than a free and fair market. When I and my friend, the member for North Island (Mr. Gabelmann), go to vote, we do so knowing that both of us will not be able to get the government we want at the same time. We accept that. We abide by the result. That is a kind of democracy. But when we both go to the supermarket, the
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member for North Island can buy beets while I can buy cabbage. That is a marvellous system. It has its limitations, however, and I must have some money to be able to make use of it.
I really wish that my friends in the opposition would recognize how marvelously democratic that system is. Perhaps they could understand why I think we should use it more to provide the things we want for society. It is, within its constraints, the ultimate in democratic planning — planning to give people what they truly want, rather than what some self-appointed expert says they should get. I have often wondered about the pervasive hatred of free enterprise which exists in our society among so many people whose whole standard of living depends on it. I think, at last, that I can understand: the market is really a mirror of what people want. And being a true reflection, it is frequently a source of embarrassment and consequently unpopular — particularly for those who have the tastes and interests of the intellectual and cultural elite. Far better to seek out in every way how the advantages of the market system can be brought to government, both to make our planning more democratic and to reduce the enormous cost of government.
The three funds I spoke of would provide real insurance against inflation for the people of British Columbia in business, agriculture and housing. But in the long run the best insurance we can have against inflation is a determination to trim government and, whenever possible, to find the most efficient and lowest-cost route for meeting the social needs. This means first and foremost reversing the iron law of bureaucracy which creates incentives for empire building at every level of administration. This rule is not unique to government; far from it. But in business it is somewhat constrained by competition for scarce dollars. In politics it is magnified by competition for scarce votes.
As that proportion of our population which is elderly continues to grow, so inevitably do the costs of many of our social programs, health care and pensions. All of this creates an enormous pressure on our working-age population to produce. So too does the rise of industrial competition from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other expanding Asian economies. I have spoken many times of the need in our country to re-learn the number one lesson of economics: the need to produce efficiently in the world economy. Profit-sharing is a route which we must continue to press for. So, too, is the development of trade-off arrangements as are used in Japan to guarantee employment security for workers in exchange for cooperation with management, improving production standards, introducing new technologies and so on.
The fundamental change, however, must be one of attitude. Today we see much of our industrial relations run as if they were war games. When we hear of a decision to give employees time off to organize their strike, we really have to shake our heads in disbelief at the near-lunatic mentality that pervades the whole field of labour relations. Our government gives awards now to cost-savers. This is a small step, but this is the direction we must start to pursue if we are to have any hope of maintaining a high standard of living and of social services.
Let us look at a new approach. Let us create a vested interest in keeping government lean and effective. If this means redesigning the system, so be it. Profit-sharing works in business. Surely some variation of it could work in government and the savings we make could go into stimulation through the inflation insurance of the kind of three-pronged investment fund I described.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I think that this budget is a tremendous testimony to this government and to the free enterprise system. Again, I want to extend my congratulations, and those of many people in my constituency, to the Minister of Finance for an excellent job. I fully support this budget, and now I say, let's put it to work for all of us.
MR. SPEAKER: The member for Cowichan-Malahat. [Applause.
MRS. WALLACE: I think by that applause they may be trying to tell me that I should move the adjournment of the debate. I'm quite prepared to carry on, but I just didn't want to upset the plans of the members opposite. When they applaud a member from this side of the House, there's usually some rather strange and peculiar reason for it.
It's always very interesting to follow the member for Central Fraser Valley (Mr. Ritchie). It's not as interesting now as it used to be, though, because when he first came into this House, before he came familiar with the rules of debate, he used to spend a lot of his time talking about the farm community and the days when he and I had some occasion to meet relative to the agricultural industry. I must say that it was always much more interesting, much more lively and much more like that member when he made those kinds of remarks than when he reads a prepared speech. He told us it was going to be a radical speech by some dictionary definition, but nothing I could hear in that speech sounded very radical to me, by Oxford, Webster or any dictionary definition. It sounded like the same old line of parroting praise for what this government is purporting to put on the people of British Columbia.
AN HON. MEMBER: He had 1,200 supporters out last night.
MRS, WALLACE: Well, maybe that's what affected his speech.
His remarks relative to the health-care system were interesting. It has just occurred to me that perhaps one of the ways this government is deciding that it can save some money on the health-care program is to cut back on the nurses' training. This is an announcement we've been hearing today on radio and in the press. Of course, if there are no nurses around to staff the hospital floors, this is a good excuse for closing down some of the hospital beds that are so badly needed in this province. The point I'm trying to make is that one cutback leads to another cutback. It's going to exaggerate a situation that's already very bad.
So here we are starting with cutting back on nurses' training, with the effect that's going to have on universities, BCIT and the places that train those nurses who are geared to provide those classes. If the money is not available for those courses and we don't have the nurses, then we're going to find ourselves in the position of not having staff to deal with the existing facilities, which are already very minimal. That's a point I just wanted to mention in passing. That's a concern that affects me. When I hear people talking about the great health-care system of this government, I certainly am concerned.
We have had a very strange budget presented to us. It's a budget that at first blush persuaded a few people that there were some good things coming out of this government, but it didn't take long until not just this opposition party here in the
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Legislature but people generally around the province began to recognize that the budget was not telling the whole story. In my remarks in this debate I want to deal with some of those items that are not included in the budget. They're very extensive and I assure you it's going to take me my full allotted time. Rather than break into the stream of thought when I do deal with it, I would move adjournment of this debate until the next sitting of the House.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, before we proceed, I have the honour of tabling special report No. 4 of the ombudsman of British Columbia.
On Monday last, the Leader of the Opposition rose on a point of privilege and alleged that the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Curtis) had misled the House by making two conflicting statements. One statement was referred to as having been being made — and I quote — "to the House on budget day and to be found on page 40." I have checked the Hansard report for April 5, 1982, and cannot find the statement referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. Nor can I find that any document containing this statement referred to has been tabled in the House.
The second statement referred to by the Leader of the Opposition was contained in answers to questions given in the oral question period during last Monday's sitting. The Blues read this way:
MR. BARRETT: I have a question for the Minister of Finance. Has the government decided that the long-term borrowing for B.C. Railway will be used to fund interim borrowing during 1981-82 and 1982-83 for construction of the Tumbler Ridge branch line?
HON. MR. CURTIS: There are a number of matters with respect to funding of British Columbia Rail activities which are still in the developmental stage insofar as the government is concerned, and I am afraid I cannot assist the member further on that particular point. It is a matter of developing policy.
MR. BARRETT: Would it be incorrect, based on your answer, for any member of this House to state flatly that the government has decided that the long-term borrowing forecast for B.C. Railway will be used to fund interim borrowing during 1981-82 and 1982-83 for construction of the Tumbler Ridge branch line?
HON. MR. CURTIS: Mr. Speaker, I can give the member no guidance on that particular question at this point.
On Monday, when the complaint was raised, I noted that the Minister of Finance was not in the House to answer the complaint. Traditionally, before making a complaint against a member, it is correct practice to give him notice so that he may be present — or in the case of a document to present the same so that it may be read.
The sixteenth edition of Sir Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice states: "It is a contempt of parliament to deliberately mislead the House." The same text indicates that a complaint founded upon a document — or publication may only be heard where the complaining party lays upon the table the document or publication complained of.
On February 19, 1974, Mr. Speaker ruled that proceedings on a point of privilege could not be entertained unless the publication was before the House. In the case at hand, no document has been filed with the House. In the absence of the document complained of, the Chair cannot consider its contents, nor can it compare them with the answers complained of. Accordingly, if the member wishes to pursue the matter further it will be necessary to use the order paper.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I seek the floor for your direction. I quoted from a document that states: "Delivered in the Legislative Assembly Monday, April 5." I table this document for you to determine, sir, whether or not the minister has released documents that have a false statement that it was delivered in the House. It has been distributed throughout the province of British Columbia with this description as having been delivered in the House on Monday, April 5. If the minister has not delivered this document, a false document….
HON. MR. GARDOM: What are you looking up for? Guidance?
MR. BARRETT: No, I'm not looking for guidance. I'm a little bit surprised. We didn't have a budget at all and yet this document has been distributed. Mr. Speaker, on the basis of the same action taken by the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations (Hon. Mr. Gardom) last week, I move now that this House is of the opinion that the two conflicting statements of the Minister of Finance to this House regarding funding of the British Columbia Railway's Tumbler Ridge branch line….
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Hon. member, I don't know of any standing order by which a member can stand to move a motion which is of a substantive nature. Perhaps this can be taken as notice of motion and put on the order paper for consideration at the appropriate time.
MR. BARRETT: Then I give notice verbally that I intend to put on the order paper the following motion….
MR. SPEAKER: I also don't know of any vehicle that we can employ at the present moment to do what the member is attempting to do. However, the table is open, and notice of motion can be filed.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I want to refer you to April 15, 1982, when Mr. Gardom stood up in this House and gave notice and read the motion just last week. I ask the same privilege that the minister had.
MR. SPEAKER: I am sure that with leave what the member is attempting to do is possible.
MR. BARRETT: I draw to your attention that on April 15, 1982, the Hon. Mr. Gardom stood in this House and presented a motion without leave and read the motion. No leave was asked for, and I am asking for the same privilege that that minister had.
MR. COCKE: Fair is fair.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, hon. members. I've just inquired again of the practice of the House, and leave would be required to make such a notice. In the absence of objection, leave could be presumed, but there was objection and so leave….
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
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MR. SPEAKER: Order.
MR. BARRETT: Can I give you the sequence of events on this one, Mr. Speaker?
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, I have no knowledge on what basis the member seeks….
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, you've given me a ruling which I am trying to relate to an incident that happened here. On April 15, 1982, Mr. Gardom rose in his place, read the motion, and then asked for leave and was granted leave. I am asking for exactly the same privilege, and secondly, Mr. Speaker, if I might have the leave to make the introduction. Now, what took place was that he was allowed to read the motion and then ask for leave. That's all I'm asking for — for the same privilege.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Hon. members, we can resolve the situation immediately by simply asking leave to read the motion.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: No!
MR. SPEAKER: Order!
MR. BARRETT: I'm not asking for a resolution of whether or not I can ask for leave. I'm asking for the same privilege — to state the motion and then ask for leave — as was granted the minister.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, just to review the practice of the House — and this is a bit of a dilemma…. If it goes just past 6 o'clock, I hope I can be excused. The practice is simply this: if a member stands on the floor of this House to ask leave to do something that is extraordinary, then the House, not being knowledgeable, cannot intelligently grant leave. So by practice, what is done is that the content of the motion or action is read to the House so that the House can give an intelligent answer. and that's the practice we can follow again this evening. Then I will review the matter and perhaps bring something definitive to the House so that we don't get hung up again on this thing in the future.
MR. BARRETT: Before I proceed, I want to point out a further error, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, Your Honour, there was no leave asked at all for the motion. The leave was asked by the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations to introduce guests, and leave was granted. No leave was granted to present the motion, or no request or leave granted for the dropping of notice of motion.
MR. SPEAKER: I'll review that as well.
MR. BARRETT: I just want the same privilege without asking for leave.
Mr. Speaker, I move that this House is of the opinion that the two conflicting statements of the Minister of Finance to this House regarding funding of the British Columbia Railway Company's Tumbler Ridge branch line, one in the budget speech of April 5, 1982, and as stated and delivered in the Legislative Assembly, Monday, April 5, 1982, by Hon. Mr. Curtis, Minister of Finance, and the other in response to a question of April 19, 1982, show a lack of honesty on the part of the minister in dealing with the subject and, thus, should lead to his removal as Minister of Finance.
MR. SPEAKER: Is this being tabled as notice of motion?
MR. BARRETT: That is correct, Mr. Speaker. I'm tabling it as notice of motion without leave.
MR. SPEAKER: Leave is not required for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Gardom moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 6:03 p.m.