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Presenting Reports –– 130
Therapeutic abortions. Mrs. Boone –– 131
Logging of South Moresby Island. Ms. Smallwood –– 131
Student financial assistance. Ms. A. Hagen –– 131
Museum artifacts. Mr. Rabbitt –– 131
Student financial assistance. Ms. A. Hagen –– 132
Price of natural gas. Mr. Clark –– 132
Milk quotas. Mr. Bruce –– 132
Expo Corporation accounting. Ms. Marzari –– 132
Food banks. Mr. Lovick –– 132
Throne speech debate
Mr. Rose –– 133
Mr. B. Smith –– 136
Mr. Stupich –– 139
Mr. Jacobsen –– 144
Mr. Williams –– 147
Mr. Serwa –– 150
Mr. Blencoe –– 153
The House met at 2:04 p.m.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to introduce this afternoon a gentleman whose company is representative of the sort of international interest that continues to be shown in British Columbia.
With us today is Mr. Ryoei Saito, chairman of Daishowa Paper Mfg. Co. of Japan. Here in British Columbia, their joint ventures in Cariboo Pulp and Paper and Quesnel River Pulp provide more than 500 direct jobs and an equal number of jobs in the forest and service sectors. Together, these two mills generate more than $300 million in export sales. It is this sort of business investment that's keeping our pulp and paper industry at the leading edge of technology and a leader in world markets. Mr. Saito is more than just a business investor; he is also a good friend of British Columbia and has done a great deal to assist our province in further developing trade links with Japan.
With Mr. Saito this afternoon are Mr. Ray Nakakura, vice-president of Daishowa; Mr. Koichi Kitagawa, vice-president and general manager for Canada; Mr. Terry Takeda, treasurer of Daishowa Canada Limited; and Mr. Henry Wakabayashi, president of Pacific Liaicon. They are joined this afternoon by our Deputy Minister of Forests and Lands, Mr. Bob Flitton, and, from the Ministry of Economic Development, Mr. Steve Hollett. I would ask that the House join me in giving a big welcome to our distinguished guests.
Also with us this afternoon, Mr. Speaker, from the other side of the globe, is the President of Granada, Spain, Señor Juan Hertudo Gallardo, and Señor Angel Puerta, coordinator of the World Tourism Organization located in Granada. These gentlemen have traveled halfway around the world to accept possession of the United Nations Pavilion at Expo 86. The building will be moved to Spain, where it will become a tourism conference centre, a most fitting new home for a pavilion that helped British Columbia welcome the world to Expo 86. Yesterday President Gallardo accepted the pavilion and helped our Economic Development minister, the Hon. Grace McCarthy, begin the dismantling of the pavilion. They were joined by members of our province's Spanish community, which helped give the pavilion a rousing send-off as it prepares to move to Spain.
I would ask the House to join me in welcoming our distinguished visitors from Spain, and to wish- them well as they help to promote world tourism.
MR. ROSE: On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I'd like to respond and offer our share of welcome to our distinguished and friendly visitors, and I hope that their stay in Canada is enjoyable and profitable.
I would congratulate the Premier on how he made his introductions and would direct him to practice recommendation No –– 2 on page 37 of our new rules and welcome him to have a look. I enjoyed his introductions, but I thought there might have been a few promotions in there — just a touch. But it's all in good fun, because it brings investment and jobs to British Columbia.
HON. S. HAGEN: It is my distinct privilege this afternoon to have some very good friends in the House. I'd like the House to make welcome with me a gentleman, with his wife and two children, who first inspired me to run for politics back in 1972. As a result of his encouragement I ran and was successful in being elected to the school board in School District 71. His name is Stuart Gardner, his wife is Donna, and his children are Adam and Erin. Please make them welcome.
MR. BARNES: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the honour of introducing a group of students and their instructor from the Native Outreach Alternative School, which is in my constituency. The instructor, Miss Angie Todd-Dennis, is a dedicated educator. She has with her some students I'd like the House to acknowledge: Candace Jones, Dennis Geddes, Herbie Hanuse, Gordon Rufus, Richard Nelson and David Dennis. I should say in closing that that school is in its eleventh year of operation, and I think because of its instructor is one of the examples of what should happen in alternative schools in this province.
HON. L. HANSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to advise the House that in the precincts are two very influential and important gentlemen in the labour field in British Columbia: Mr. Ken Georgetti, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour; and Mr. Cliff Andstein, secretary of the Federation of Labour. As Minister of Labour I have had many fruitful and productive meetings with these two gentlemen, and I'm sure that that relationship will continue. I would ask the House to recognize those two gentlemen.
MS. MARZARI: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to introduce to the House Mr. John Ippen, who is a grade 11 teacher at Kitsilano Secondary School, and his grade 11 class who have come to the House today to watch democracy in action.
HON. MR. ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, at this time of the year we have a number of children who are visiting during their spring break and make it part of their educational system. There are three children in the gallery today who have a special place in this House. They are the children of the late member for Atlin, Al Passarell: Rocky, Natasha and Jackelynn. On behalf of the House and the members and yourself, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to tell them that they're not only welcome here today but are welcome any time they want to come and watch the proceedings.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Hon. members, it gives me great pleasure to introduce on behalf of our Speaker guests from West Vancouver-Howe Sound. Would you please welcome Dave and Margaret Klassen, Bob and Renee Kuhn, Janie Robinson, Trudy MacKinnon, Chain MacKinnon, Erin Robinson and Shane Robinson.
MS. SMALLWOOD: I'd like the House to join me in welcoming my youngest sister and staunch supporter, Barbara Hackett; along with her is her husband Pat Hackett from Burnaby.
HON. MR. SAVAGE: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to introduce to the House today from my constituency Mr. and Mrs. Robert Remple, their son Tony and their daughter Terri. Would you please welcome them.
MR. PARKER: In the gallery today visiting from Terrace are Alderman Bob Cooper and the economic development
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commissioner for the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, John Pousette. Would the House bid them welcome, please.
MR. KEMPF: With us in the gallery this afternoon from those beautiful Queen Charlotte Islands, from the village of Masset, are His Worship Mayor Penna, Bob Wylie and Herb Riddall. I'd ask the House to make them welcome.
MR. VANT: It gives me a great deal of privilege to introduce a Cariboo constituent to the House today, Mr. Kevan Bracewell, a young entrepreneur with an expanding business. He's a guide-outfitter from the West Chilcotin, at Tatlayoko Lake, which is 160 miles west of Williams Lake. He's one of our constituents who do travel over gravel and some dirt roads. I join the hon. Premier in also welcoming all the representatives from Daishowa of Canada; they have made considerable investments in the Cariboo. I know the House welcomes Kevan Bracewell and all of them.
MRS. GRAN: In the gallery today are some good friends of mine from the constituency of Langley, Mr. and Mrs. Gene MacDonald, their three children, Shannon, Gene and Angus, and friend Miss Sasha Willcox. Gene MacDonald is a principal of Poppy Secondary in Langley and an alderman in the city of Langley. I would ask the House to make them welcome.
On behalf of the government office, I am proud to introduce to the House today the four interns assigned to the Social Credit caucus during the current legislative session: Robin Bayley from the constituency of Victoria, Kathleen Bednard from Vancouver South, Nancy Carter from Okanagan South and Michael Haberl from Vancouver-Little Mountain. Mr. Speaker, we have been very fortunate to have had many bright, capable and energetic individuals assigned to work in our caucus each year since the legislative internship program was started in 1976. Since Robin, Kathleen, Nancy and Michael joined us March 2, they have approached their tasks with hard work and dedication. We look forward to having them with us until the end of June. Would the House please welcome them.
HON. B.R. SMITH: I would like to introduce Mr. Rene Dufleit and two members of the Twelfth Garry Oak Scout Troop in Oak Bay. These members are working on their merit badge. Scouting, I think generally in Canada, is making a strong comeback at last, after some rather difficult years, but this troop is alive and well and three of their representatives are in the gallery.
MR. CHALMERS: Today I have two of my strongest supporters from the great constituency of Okanagan South in the Speaker's gallery. I would like the House to make welcome my two daughters, Jennifer and Nicole Chalmers.
MR. SERWA: Mr. Speaker, today I have the pleasure of having two of my strong supporters in the House. They are very special people in my life. I'd like to ask the House to make welcome my wife Lois and my youngest son David.
MR. DIRKS: I would ask this House to welcome the publisher and general manager of the Creston Valley Advance, Mr. and Mrs. White.
MR. B. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery today I would like the House to welcome, from Kamloops, my friend, companion and wife, Daphne Smith.
MR. BARNES: With the House's indulgence, in introducing the native students at the Outreach school I forgot to say In the absence of the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Harcourt) and the member for Maillardville Coquitlam (Mr. Cashore), who was a minister at the time the school was being introduced, I neglected to associate him with the introduction. I really think that for the record it should be known that that member was very much involved in a successful program.
MR. JACOBSEN: Mr. Speaker, I would like the House to welcome my wife Launi, our son Tori, our daughter Heidi, our good friend Ema Steyrer from Dewdney and my good friend Michael Allen.
HON. MR. VEITCH: Mr. Speaker, this could conceivably include everyone in the precincts. This being the 17th of Ireland, I would like to give the very best wishes on behalf of the government to all those who are Irish or all those who wish they were Irish.
MS. MARZARI: I ask leave of the House to make a personal statement.
MS. MARZARI: I wish to record an apology today to Peter Brown for remarks I made yesterday which I realize now could have impugned his character. It is important to me that this unqualified apology be made today for remarks in the House and outside the House, as I have no intention in my career in this House to hide behind my privilege here to cast aspersions on private individuals.
I am aware of the voluntary effort Mr. Brown has offered over the years to Expo, and I am aware that he is continuing to offer his services.
Such a practice as I engaged in yesterday impugns not only his character but my own integrity. So I apologize.
HON. MR. VEITCH: On September 24, 1986, at the request of the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council, a regulation was passed dealing with absentee voters. This is the first time that absentee voting was allowed in the province of British Columbia. This regulation is pursuant to section 196 of the Election Act and so must be tabled under section 198 of the same act. With great respect, sir, I am pleased to lay this matter before the Legislature.
Hon. B.R. Smith tabled the 1985-86 annual report under the Criminal Injury Compensation Act, the 1985-86 annual report of the Legal Services Society of British Columbia, the 1985-86 annual report of the Ministry of Attorney-General, the 1985-86 annual report of the Justice Institute of British Columbia, and the 1985-86 annual report of the B.C. Board of Parole.
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MRS. BOONE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. In Vernon there have been no abortions approved by a hospital committee. This community's health is placed at risk by the domination of this hospital board by a single-issue group. Has the minister taken steps to ensure that therapeutic abortion committees will function and that women are assured of their rights under the federal law?
HON. MR. DUECK: The hon. member may know that hospitals are operated by boards duly elected from the community and those people who have in fact joined the society. As far as the ministry is concerned, we have said in the past that if the board or that society wishes to take that further and to have an election of board members from the community at large, we would then look at it. Thus far no request has come forward.
As far as the abortion issue is concerned, it's a federal statute, and as long as those hospitals comply with that particular statute, there is nothing the Ministry of Health would do or could do other than to keep monitoring the situation, making sure it complies in every way to the federal law.
I might also say that there have been incidents where one issue boards have been elected. However, in reply to that, you can also have a one-issue board from the other side where people join the society and overrule. So because historically they have been elected from a society, at this time we have nothing to report other than that it is functioning the way that is meant by the federal statute.
MRS. BOONE: Is the minister prepared, as his predecessor was, to remove stonewalling boards and replace them with boards willing to carry out the laws of the land?
HON. MR. DUECK: 1, as the Minister of Health, would intervene if there was any risk to health. Thus far, there is no evidence of that occurring.
MR. MILLER: The statement by a doctor in that community — I believe in the community of Kamloops — was that patients' health was at risk as a result of the actions taken by the board. The question to the minister is that there are citizens of this province who are not allowed to avail themselves of medical services that should be their right. What steps is the minister going to take to make sure that those people have those opportunities?
HON. MR. DUECK: If the hon. member would like to mention names and dates and other information that may clear up this matter, I would look into that particular question. Thus far, nothing has come to me that would indicate other than what I read in the paper, and many times what I read in the paper is not necessarily accurate.
LOGGING OF SOUTH MORESBY ISLAND
MS. SMALLWOOD: My question is to the Minister of Environment. There has been a series of negotiations between the federal and provincial environment ministers over the fate of South Moresby. At one stage, the negotiations had almost reached a point where the resource could finally be protected. However, your immediate predecessor failed miserably in the final negotiation. My question, then, is: when will the new minister meet with the federal environment minister, and will he meet before the area is completely logged?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I think the comment from the former minister was appropriate with respect to the preamble. With respect to the question which finally came out, I have had discussions with the hon. Mr. McMillan. He has addressed some correspondence to me which the ministry and myself are reviewing now, and that's all I can advance at this point.
MS. SMALLWOOD: We understand that the federal Minister of Environment has money and is prepared to negotiate now. I reiterate my question: when will the minister meet?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I'll meet with the minister any time he wants to come to British Columbia, and he's aware of that.
STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
MS. A. HAGEN: I have a question for the Minister of Advanced Education and Job Training. The minister struck an advisory committee to review student financial assistance. Was the scholarship credit plan, which was announced in the throne speech, one of the recommendations of the student aid task force?
HON. S. HAGEN: Mr. Speaker, it's an honour for me to reply to the member for New Westminster — my hometown — who has a great last name, which is similar to mine. You're right, the committee was struck back in the beginning of December. The instructions to the committee were to look at the whole question of student financial assistance and to come up with an answer to the questions and also to the request from the Premier to deal with that matter. I'm pleased to say that the report has come in. It has been finalized, and I have presented it to the Premier.
MR. RABBITT: I direct this question to the Minister of Tourism, Recreation and Culture. Is the government aware that an effort is being made to export culturally significant artifacts? Is the government prepared to identify these artifacts and their potential? Is the government prepared to take action to see that these artifacts in fact are not exported but remain in the province of British Columbia for the benefit of future generations?
HON. MR. REID: I thank the member for the question. I read the article in the paper this morning and asked my staff of the museum to investigate the so-called artifacts and to question whether in fact they should remain in the province of British Columbia.
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STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
MS. A. HAGEN: I'd like to thank the minister for the lack of an answer to the previous question and pose another question to the Minister of Advanced Education and Job Training. Could the minister confirm that the student aid task force, whose report he indicates is now finalized, recommended a restoration of student grants, and that this recommendation was not accepted by the government?
HON. S. HAGEN: Mr. Speaker, again I'd like to thank the member for the question. It's an excellent question. Unfortunately it deals with future government policy, so I'm unable to address it.
MS. A. HAGEN: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Is the reason . ?
MR. SPEAKER: You can't ask a supplementary, hon. member. But you can rephrase your question.
MRS. A. HAGEN: Is the reason that the interim and final reports of the student task force have been kept secret that the government and the minister have decided that they represent an exception to the government's stated policy of open government?
HON. S. HAGEN: No.
PRICE OF NATURAL GAS
MR. CLARK: I have a question to the Minister of Energy. Under deregulation the minister claimed that the price of natural gas to homeowners would go down by up to 30 percent. Now Inland Natural Gas has decided not to reduce it but in fact wants to raise the price to homeowners — residential and commercial — by 5 percent. My question is, what happened? How does the minister explain the obvious contradiction between his promise and the reality?
HON. MR. DAVIS: The matter of gas rates in the interior is presently before the Utilities Commission, and it will decide what happens to the rates.
MR. CLARK: The reason Inland wants to raise the price to homeowners is that it wants to give fire-sale prices to industry. What has the minister decided to do to protect the average homeowner in the region?
HON. MR. DAVIS: The Utilities Commission operates within the law as passed by this Legislature. The rates basically reflect the cost of each service. So the rates will reflect the facts of cost and not a whim on the part of any of us.
MR. CLARK: The minister knows, or ought to know, that deregulation benefits those with market power — big corporations who can bargain the price down. Surely the role of government is to protect the residential consumer. Has the minister decided to intervene to ensure that residential consumers get the same benefits from deregulation, that industry gets?
HON. MR. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, I think the legislation which the Utilities Commission must follow carefully will ensure that all categories of user are protected. They all receive rates which reflect the cost of their service — no more, no less.
MR. CLARK: The minister knows that it was B.C. Petroleum Corporation that has a differential rate structure for industry and consumers. That's the cause of the price, and that's the reason why industry is getting a dramatic reduction in gas prices and not homeowners. Is the minister prepared to intervene to ensure that consumers get the same price that industry gets in this province?
HON. MR. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, the B.C. Petroleum Corporation was set up by a previous government. It did intervene in certain ways, but it is no longer in a position to intervene in favour of one particular class of user as opposed to another. I will repeat: the rates will reflect the costs, and in instances where industries have been paying more than costs of service, they will receive reduced rates; but the same would apply to residential and commercial users.
MR. BRUCE: A question to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. In Cowichan-Malahat, a small group of people is attempting to put together a cheese factory. They've gone through all the different procedures — location of a plant, utilization of buildings that are in place, the zoning and so on — and now find themselves in the position that although industrial milk is available for the utilization of cottage cheese, they are unable to get the quota necessary to move into production.
Can the minister tell me what he is doing to rectify this situation or what can be done in the short run to assist these individuals?
HON. MR. SAVAGE: Mr. Speaker, as you may not be well aware — but as the Premier and myself and my colleagues in cabinet are well aware — the supply of industrial milk has been an ongoing problem of agriculture in this province. British Columbia has been allocated 3.7 percent of the total industrial supply sector within Canada, but we have 11. 64 percent of the population of Canada.
We are being unjustly allocated in the industrial pooling of milk. On March 301 will be going to Ottawa to further our cause to get a greater share of that industrial supply for our producers.
EXPO CORPORATION ACCOUNTING
MS. MARZARI: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Premier when we can expect a full public accounting for the Expo books and the B.C. Place books, in line with the standards set out in the yet unproclaimed Financial Information Act. When will the public see these books?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, I will take the question as notice.
MR. LOVICK: I have a question also for the Premier, a more delicate one that probably won't require notice. The question concerns food banks and statements attributed to the
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Premier of the province; namely that we would continue to have food banks in the province of British Columbia. I'm wondering whether the Premier would tell me whether his government is prepared to pay a salary, then, to those individuals who currently, by volunteer labour alone, are manning those food banks.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, historically people everywhere have oftentimes been very generous in volunteering their time and in making contributions of food or other necessities on very short notice, wherever. I suppose we can go back to the days of the monasteries, when in fact the churches were providing much of that help. We didn't call them food banks, but it was certainly somebody who, for whatever reason, was down and out or hungry, going to the back of a church or a monastery or whatever, and asking for a sandwich or some food. As I said, we didn't call them food banks, but it was a generous act on the part of a particular group or some individual.
I think to somehow assume that we as people in government could do away with this type of generosity and replace it with some government program where people are paid is not only illogical but certainly pays little respect for and to the generosity of individuals and groups within society. I'm hoping that economic development within our province will be such that we will see a diminishing need for this sort of help, but I don't assume for a moment that the need will at any time totally disappear. I hope and trust that there will always be generous British Columbians who will make this help available.
Orders of the Day
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
HON. MR. STRACHAN: The member for Cowichan Malahat had a couple of minutes left if he wanted, but I am advised that he will defer today to the loyal opposition.
MR. ROSE: This is my maiden speech.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. ROSE: Well, I'm kind of an elderly maiden.
I would like to congratulate the Premier first, for learning how to answer questions just like the first member for Vancouver-Little Mountain (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) — an expert at learning, almost as skillfully as the member for Little Mountain and Minister of Economic Development, how to eat the clock right out of the question period. I also congratulate the Premier on his election, his amiability and his.... I'm saying some nice things about him and he's not even listening. I was congratulating the Premier on his election, his amiability, his ability to spin out the clock on questions and answers and that sort of thing — but seriously, for bringing a new tone to this Legislature.
Some observers have indicated — over my right shoulder here — that this place is not as lively as it once was and that it's kind of a love-in around here and we've sort of lost our touch. I'd like to tell the House that I don't see any contradiction between members treating one another civilly, and good, tough, adversarial fights that deal with issues and not people. I hope that we can maintain that kind of tone and level and not degenerate into the kind of squalling cockpit this place has been over the years. We have a whole new cast of characters around here. We have a new Speaker — congratulations to you, sir. I was wondering, when the government House Leader (Hon. Mr. Strachan) and I went to get you the other day at your seat to lead you to the Chair, whether or not you'd beat us to it. I wondered if it was possible for you to outrun us, but perhaps you could drag us along anyway. So I congratulate you too.
I congratulate the government House Leader and the Deputy Speaker, and I note that all of them — the opposition House Leader, the government House Leader and the deputy House Leader — are, or were, musicians. While we may be blowing our horn a little bit in here, the results should be harmonious — I hope. I promise you, though, that I won't be singing.
Since there are some students here, I'd like to address a few remarks to them as well. Democracy, in this kind of legislature, only works where there is an element of trust between members on both sides. That's why they're called honourable members sometimes, and most of the time they are honourable, and despite the polls that indicate the contrary.... I regret that, because I think most politicians are very interested in providing a service to their constituents and doing a job. When we get squalling with one another and calling each other crooks or liars and that sort of thing across the floor, even though we might fudge just a little bit once in a while and maybe sort of put our own best foot — or is it feet? — forward, I think that the bulk of the people who come here that I've associated with over a long period, both here and in the House of Commons in Ottawa, are generally honourable men and women, and that's the way it should be.
Something else I'd like to say to the new members is that I've been very impressed with some of their speeches. I hope they'll be similarly impressed with mine. I'm rather anxious to hear what I'm going to say, because I haven't prepared very much.
MR. ROSE: Stop that; you're using up my time.
What I would like to say to them is that I've really enjoyed their contributions, their speeches. It's difficult in the beginning, I think, for some, and some people sort of fall right into it. Some people love it here; they love talking, yacking and quarrelling, and they're called House of Commons men or parliamentary men. They wouldn't know what to do if they had to do anything else. I wouldn't want ever to lose this job, because I might have to go to work or something, and that would be awful.
Seriously though, if you do your work around here, it's probably among the hardest work that anybody can do in anybody's community, so I don't want to be frivolous about this. But it's easy to be contemptuous of those who may be not as highly verbal as others are or experienced here. An old parliamentarian in Ottawa told me one time that everybody who comes here has got something, and don't put anybody down because he hasn't got a Phd). Education doesn't make you smart. Education merely gives you a facade and an ability to express yourself and maybe prevents you from being too dumb. But I don't think anybody should feel that because they haven't had an advanced degree from Harvard or some other place, they cannot make a contribution here,
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because good common sense doesn't have a PhD or an MA, or whatever it is, attached to it.
I think what I'd like to tell them is this, and I've reached the age now where I can give advice; everybody will take it, I'm sure, although my kids never did. You might find a role model in here that you would like to be like. I would advise you against that. I would advise you against modeling yourself on anyone.
A man who is now dead but who made a great contribution to Canada in the House of Commons was Max Saltsman. Max Saltsman was the member from Waterloo and recently died of cancer at a relatively young age. He said: "You know, the first three years that I was in the House of Commons I wasted my time." I said: "How did you do that?" He said: "Because I was trying to be Doug Fisher." Now Doug Fisher was a hammer. We don't have any of those around anymore, any tough guys, because we're all nice and polite and cooperative and stuff like that. But I guess the point is that you have got to be yourself around here — even if it isn't very pleasant! Try and be yourself. This is another tradition.
Mr. Speaker, I'm afraid by the time I get finished my introduction the clock will have run out, so I hope you'll be as generous as you were with the second member for Nanaimo (Mr. Lovick). I thought you were going to have to take a shepherd's crook to him to get him off. He was good but long, good and long, so I would like to pay tribute to him.
I would like to say something that is traditional, and that is that everyone thanks their constituents. I would like to thank them for their support and their innate intelligence; they have sent me to Victoria once again. They sent me to Ottawa for a great number of years, four or five times; one year they didn't. Now they've sent me to Victoria and I'm beginning to get the feeling that they prefer it if I were out of town. I don't know about that.
Coquitlam-Moody is, as everybody says, the most beautiful riding in all of British Columbia — just like everybody else's riding — and that's another thing that's kind of traditional. But let me tell you just a little bit about it. It is bounded on the east by Dewdney and the Pitt River. If you want to know where that is, there's a big business on the edge of the Pitt called the Wild Duck Inn. I don't know whether a Fifi is showing there tonight or not, but if you're ever going to see the member for Dewdney, you might want to pop in there. You might not too.
Beautiful Indian Arm and Belcarra and all that salt water bounds it really on the north. On the west it's really Burnaby, I guess, and part of Coquitlam; and on the south is the Fraser River. So my riding really is an island except for one side where, it appends itself to Burnaby. Someone else used the term microcosm. A lot of people who go to school use big words like microcosm. Jean-Luc Pepin said one time in a speech that the reason that he used those big words all the time was that they cost him a lot of money so he might as well use them. He went to university for a long time.
My riding is a microcosm. It's got a seaport; it's got a declining rural population; it's got burgeoning suburbia and that's why we've got declining farmland. We've got all the problems associated with the railhead, suburbia. Again we're losing on secondary manufacturing and that kind of thing. We have transit problems; we've got lots of problems.
I have a list of Christmas presents that I'd like to give to each of those units of my riding — four municipalities and one regional district. For Port Moody, a commuter rail system over the CPR tracks. In Port Moody, there are 2, 400 cars per hour in the rush hour in the morning, and that's a high ozone layer, a thermal occlusion layer — if the scientists don't correct me about that. It's a bad scene. It's polluted; it needs a good deal of help in terms of transportation, and so do the people there.
Beautiful Belcarra needs better police protection. They've got a large regional park there and Mayor Drew tells me they've gone from six person-years in policing down to three. The park already gets half a million visitors per year. It's now expected that when it and Buntzen Lake are completed, it's going to increase to a million. So we need that kind of help for that area as well. We need police help.
Unorganized Anmore, which is up on the hillside above Port Moody, wants to preserve its rural lifestyle. We want help exploring a way that they might do that, through zoning, through whatever options may be available. They want to have their own destiny.
In Port Coquitlam, we're very pleased with the Mary Hill bypass. I'd like to congratulate the former Minister of Highways — I understand he's seriously ill — for completing that bypass. I don't want to be greedy, but if you need to give something to Port Coquitlam for Christmas, it would be something like this: instead of getting rid of that old, Bailey bridge to Mary Hill, we would like a whole bypass or abridge that goes right over for highways; right over the railway, right over the Coquitlam River.
The district of Coquitlam is also in my riding, but I now share it with my hon. friend. They've already had a Christmas present. They elected my colleague over here, the new member for Maillardville-Coquitlam (Mr. Cashore). So maybe they don't need anything else, but just to throw in a little something, why not send SkyTrain out to Coquitlam Centre? It's gone everywhere else. I know we can't afford it, but we couldn't afford to send it to Surrey either. It may be in desperate straits; it might cost $19 per ride, but if you can do it for Surrey you can send it to Coquitlam Centre. You know why? Because currently, if someone who is working at Woodlands starts at Coquitlam Centre and takes the bus, they get the sightseeing tour of the hills of Port Moody. It takes an hour by bus to get from Coquitlam Centre to work at Woodlands. That is shameful in a modem society with bus routes and rail. It's just unacceptable. So, Mr. Premier, we're going to need that.
All of these things are important, and if I had my druthers.... I'm sorry the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (Hon. Mr. Savage) isn't here. We've got beautiful Colony Farm. I think it was sacrificed. It was sold off in another sort of sell-off mania; sometimes it's called privatization. Anyway, it was shut down. It was attached to Riverview Hospital. It's been up for sale for three or four years. You know what I'm afraid of? Somebody is going to buy it for a racetrack, or for a golf course.
MR. WILLIAMS: Don't give them ideas.
MR. ROSE: They've got those ideas already. What do you mean, I'm giving them ideas?
I want to make certain that it remains in agriculture, and it seems to me that under the new scheme, with the B.C. Building Corporation merged with the other corporation, maybe we should spring Colony Farm and put it, as other farms are, under the department of Agriculture. That's what I would like to see.
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Since most throne speeches tend to be hodgepodges of critic roles — my riding is beautiful and here are a few problems — I won't depart from that tradition. I would like to comment about a few things.
I don't see how I can make a speech without talking a little bit about education. We're pleased that the Premier has seen fit to appoint a royal commission into education. We can quibble about the time span and the terms of reference, but education is going to have to be looked at. Barry Sullivan, as far as I know, is an intelligent, compassionate man, and I certainly raise no objection to Mr. Sullivan. But Mr. Sullivan is a prosecutor. I'm quite sure he's used to picking jurors. Now if I were picking a commissioner of education, I'd want to know a lot about his biases, just like Mr. Sullivan would want to know a lot about the biases of a juror. So I'd like to know a little bit more about Mr. Sullivan.
I hope he has a feeling for public education, you know. I hope he can approach his task objectively. He's not going to come up with the perfect education system, because there isn't one in the world, but I hope he has a serious look at what people have been saying about our education system, and sees that it indeed does need reorganization. But beyond that it needs some nourishment. Nearly half a billion dollars has been taken out of education over the last four years of restraint. Now you can say: "Well, you can't solve anything by throwing money at things." Well, you can solve poverty. Throw a little money at poverty and you'd be surprised how you can solve it. You can solve educational underfunding by funding, and that's the only way you're going to solve it.
Anyway, Mr. Speaker, the other thing I'd like to say is that I'd like to congratulate the choice of Mr. Tom Fisher on electoral reform. Mr. Tom Fisher is a New Westminster former lawyer, and he's also a former school trustee. He's going to look after electoral reform, and Barry Sullivan is going to look after education. Now what I want to know is why Tom Fisher didn't get the job of looking into education. What was the matter? Did he know something about it? Is that why he wasn't chosen? Did he have public education biases when you want to.... ? You know,"Ready, guys, let's privatize! " I think that's really a very important thing that we should look at.
Let me say a few other things about the throne speech. The first thing that I'd like to talk about in the throne speech is the matter of electoral reform. Now there must be something wrong with our present electoral laws if we need to reform them. If there was nothing wrong with a system that, by the way, belched all you gentlemen up into this Legislature.... If there's nothing wrong with that
MR. ROSE: No, of course you wouldn't think there was anything wrong with the system. Why should there be? It was free enterprise that elected you. Don't you believe it. Let me know the next time you think ideology ever elected anybody. As a matter of fact, you guys didn't even get 50 percent of the vote. So most people didn't even want you here.
MR. ROSE: They never have.
The whole business of the electoral map was based on a gerrymandered Eckardt report in the first place. That's how it happened. Ask the member for Kamloops: when things got a little tight.... Well, not the member for Kamloops. He might have; as a matter of fact maybe he did say: "Well, we'll fix that. We'll add 12 ridings." You know how they added 12 ridings? They added 12 ridings not on the basis of population at all but by definition. If you are urban-rural with a certain population, you got an extra member. If you were suburban, you didn't.
So here are a few questions I'd like to ask you: each designation was given a base population, and when that population grew by 60 percent above the prescribed base, an extra seat would be added, making it a dual-member riding. We're going to get rid of dual-member ridings, and I'll tell you why. An urban-rural constituency base was determined at 38,000-odd, with a suburban base designated at 42,000odd. It takes 4,000 fewer people to achieve the required 60 percent than the figure for urban-rural, so that's why definitions were crucial. For instance, what kind of logic determined that Coquitlam-Moody — my riding — a riding containing 432 square miles of rocks and Christmas trees, was declared suburban, while Central Fraser Valley, with only 160 square miles, was urban-rural? That's where you got your 11 new members, and we got one in Nanaimo.
Now the whole thing is an affront to democracy. It's an affront to one-man, one-vote, and it shouldn't be tolerated. I know there's a lot of ethics on the other side and people over there are very committed to various ideologies and religions. But to me, to put it crassly, some people would call that kind of fiddling with the riding boundaries cheating. That's what it was.
I want to leave that now. I was going to commit the maximum of egotistical practices and quote myself from an earlier speech, but decided to abandon it in favour of pressing on. I think I've probably got about five minutes left. Have 1, Mr. Speaker? He nods. That should go in Hansard, that he in fact nodded.
I hope that....
MR. ROSE: My colleague from Nanaimo said: "When are you going to start your speech?" Well, I think it's so good that I'll save it for the budget, because I'm obviously not going to get it done here.
I want you and members of the House, and also members in the gallery, to understand that my motto was stated first by Sydney Smith in the seventeenth century. He was an English essayist. He said: "Do not think me foolish because I am facetious, and I'll not think you are wise because you are grave." I'm serious about what I'm talking about, but I don't think you have to be sombre. It helps if you're sober, but you don't have to be sombre.
I'm sorry it happened this way, but I intended to give a lengthy analysis and critique of our hounding after free trade, because I think it is the greatest mistake we could make right now. I know what you're going to say. He was waiting for this speech. Well, it must be an important topic. If the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Savage) were here, he'd get up on a question of privilege. But we were told last week that the government here was prepared to abandon supply management boards before the studies were in, in order to support free trade.
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MR. ROSE: He did. Read Hansard.
The Premier also told us that he was prepared to have coal being hauled on U.S. rail lines and putting our people out of work in order not to irritate the Americans at that particular time.
You think I'm exaggerating? Of course I'm exaggerating. But that's what he said. I'm exaggerating it for emphasis.
What I object to in free trade is that you don't know its boundaries. I would like to have had time to go into it, and I will go into it another time. I'm really concerned about it. You see, it's the greatest invasion of our sovereignty and our possible independence as a nation that we could encounter.
What are we going to trade, anyway? That's the question. Is the auto pact on the table? That's the biggest contributor to our exports. Is that on the table? Well, Mulroney says it isn't. I don't believe him. I think the safeguards are going to be on the table. Is agriculture on the table? Well, Carney says no, agriculture is not on the table. I don't believe Pat Carney either when she tells me that; some of agriculture's going to be on the table. Is broadcasting on the table? That's our own public and private networks. Are we going to have more penetration by American programming? We don't know about that. Are social programs on the table? Are they going to make us change our workmen's compensation? Are they going to make us change the Canada Pension Plan? Is that a subsidy? Are our social security and our various unemployment insurance schemes too rich? Are they subsidies? What about our service industries? What about all the other kinds of industries? What about banking? What about rail, air transportation, communications, storage and retrieval? Are they all on the table? We don't know. The whole thing is a foggy mess.
The Prime Minister of Canada said yesterday: "Well, we can't give away all our bargaining chips." Brother, unless he tells us, how are we ever going to know? Have there been studies that show there's going to be a net benefit to B.C. or anywhere else? No, not that we know of. Why are we doing these things? We're always told there'll be hell to pay if we don't. That's what we're told. We were told yesterday it means the prosperity of the west will be at stake. My God! Is the Mulroney government so bereft of any kind of policies or industrial strategy that we've got to depend on Ronald Reagan? This is nutty! We've got to have the studies. We've got to make sure that we've got our own country.
That really concerns me. You can't solve it like a bunch of cavemen running around a fire chanting incantations — little litanies such as: "Ready, guys, let's privatize." That's one you can shout when you go around the campfire. Another one is: "Unions are a mild unpleasance; we'd much prefer to hire peasants." Is that another thing that you shout when you go around? "Well, shave my tail; I've got the right to fail." That's another. It's all litany. You guys are true believers, and the whole thing is a crock because we live in a mixed economy. We have for the past 100 years, and we're going to continue.
That may be your religion. It's not up to me to quarrel with your religion. If as a religion you believe that the only way to salvation is to somehow privatize and sell off everything in sight, that defies our own history. That is an American republican attitude; it is not a British conservative attitude. That is what you are being asked to do. You are being asked to turn Canada into a fifty-first state, because unless we conform to all their laws, you know what they're going to do? They're going to ring up another countervail.
When we were in the House here a year or so ago, and the softwood lumber was a problem, they said: "If there is any kind of evidence for free trade, it's what we're going through right now." We've got to have an agreement, or we're going to have more countervails. We had it on potash; we're going to have it on fish. They can get rid of all the tariffs they like. It's the non-tariff barriers that they will impose, you know, like slowing us up on the border. They'll say they can't take our hogs because they've got some sort of antibiotics in them, or they'll do something like that. But seriously, it is un-Canadian.
We are importing a foreign ideology. Our country and its economy is an embarrassment to neo-classical economists. The fact we work so well made them wrong. The successful economies today are not United States. As its deficit goes up, its imports go up in order to pay for those imports. Its deficit is rising. I can give you all kinds of figures to show how that is occurring.
I don't, think that I want that. If we want a model, why don't we look in the mirror? Why don't we look at our own tradition? The CNR, Air Canada, the CBC, where we work together in a public and private way to build an economy and build a Canada which is independent. If you don't want to look in the mirror, look at Japan. We welcome some Japanese investors in here. I don't know what their subsidies are up there in those places, but nevertheless we welcome them here. So we welcome them here, and we're pleased that they're there. But look at what they do. They don't consider governments being on the backs of people. That's only an English-speaking attitude. It doesn't occur in West Germany. We've got a sausage manufacturer from West Germany who wants to start a sausage mill here.
Governments and unions and companies cooperate with a national, industrial strategy. They don't say: "Oh, I'm sorry, we can't do anything. Let's join the States." Love the Americans. I've got to say this, it's pro-Canadian, my speech; it's not anti-American. The model is wrong. Their economies, compared to West Germany, Japan and all the places where they have a cooperative kind of organization with government and industry and labour, those economies are growing. Those people have virtually full employment while we languish with a 14.3 percent unemployment.
Mr. Speaker, now that I have finished my introduction, thank you for being so tolerant and for the very courteous listening given to me by the House.
MR. B. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is with considerable humility and pride and a profound sense of privilege and the parallel responsibility granted to me by the people of Kamloops that I take my place today in the throne speech and rise for the first time in this magnificent chamber and institution of democracy, debate and duty.
I owe my constituents much gratitude and in thanking them, give my assurance that I will serve always to the extent of my ability. Mr. Speaker,, may it be my reward for serving here that in some small way I can contribute with decency and purpose to the improvement of this province and the extraordinary constituency of Kamloops.
To you, Mr. Speaker, congratulations for accepting our call to serve this institution and its members, and to the first member for Dewdney (Mr. Pelton), you too are to be thanked for agreeing to serve as the Deputy Speaker of this House. My congratulations go to our Premier, who has shown by the example he sets that the expectations citizens have about their
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leaders — as the second member for Nanaimo (Mr. Lovick) this morning discussed — can and will be met. The people admire that quality of leadership, and when given the opportunity will demonstrate their admiration and confidence by doing what they did on October 22 last, namely once again electing a government that is committed to individual enterprise, to excellence, to human decency, and to challenging the future with confidence, vigour and a deep sense of purpose.
Mr. Speaker, all members are to be congratulated for their commitment to maintain our democratic tradition by assuming the responsibility to serve this democracy. Let us never forget that while there are some 200 nation-like entities on this earth, fewer than 25 of them can truly be called democracies. Democracy is a fragile entity which requires each of us to love it, to respect it, to support it and, above all else, to work to enhance it.
Mr. Speaker, working together to serve, to support and to enhance both the Legislature and the constituency of Kamloops is my privilege to undertake, alongside my colleague, my friend and my fellow servant of the people, the first member for Kamloops and Minister of Social Services and Housing (Hon. Mr. Richmond), a person who as he enters the House serves the House, the province and our constituency with consistency, with understanding, and with the success that comes from being seen to be, and in fact being, a firstclass representative of the people.
Kamloops in many senses is a mirror image of British Columbia. Within our constituency we encounter all of the challenges of larger urban centres, while benefiting from contributions which come only through the uniquely creative sense of community shared by people whose lifestyle and values have been tempered with the geographic realities of rural British Columbia. Dean McLean, a Kamloops resident and student of our area's history, has noted the linkage between our development and the historic uses of that geographic reality, as we have sought to fulfil our mission as a centre for the distribution of goods, services, skills, health care, knowledge, and supplies. With each succeeding improvement of our transportation capacity has come a period of growth and development.
It was 175 years ago, in May 1812, that Alexander Ross built Fort Kamloops on behalf of the American Fur Co., from Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia, which company was to be bought out by the North West Co. a year later and ultimately swallowed up by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821. Indeed, when one sees the takeover fever that is running amok in Canada today, one is reminded that the more things seem to change, the more they in fact remain the same.
Even though Kamloops never produced many furs, it grew to become one of the most important strategic points for the whole interior fur trade. Thus the area has grown as a supplier of meat and produce to the Cariboo gold rush; as a shipment point for cattle, this year marking the sixty-ninth anniversary of that industry's very successful annual bull sale; a major railroad division point; as the place where residue produced at lumber mills for miles around is centrally collected and manufactured into one of the world's great pulps; as a staging area for mineral exploration throughout B.C., with the supply of drilling, staking, geotechnical and engineering service; as the preferred living area for hundreds of skilled tradesmen who have built the great dams and roads and hydro lines that have opened up the potential of this province; as the crossroads for tourists traveling the Fraser Canyon, the Yellowhead No. 5, the Rogers Pass, and the Coquihalla; as the place to which more and more are attending for training and education at Cariboo College; as the place where people in need of medical treatment come to that outstanding regional institution, Royal Inland Hospital; and the centre for day-to-day commercial activity from all over the south central interior of B.C. Our vision of the future sees us building upon that great geographic advantage as we challenge the opportunities before us and seize the advantages that are ours. Today, throughout the constituency, there is a growing manufacturing base building most often upon local success and reaching out to new and larger markets to support expansion and growth.
Completion of the Coquihalla stage 2 into Kamloops this year means that the 4.5 million people living in the Seattle Tacoma-greater Vancouver corridor are within four to four and a half hours of our city and our area. That fact alone has inspired many to begin reassessing their plans for growth and the market area they ought to be assuming when developing their plans for business expansion. A potential market area increase of that magnitude will spur the entrepreneurial juices of almost any business person.
That new road, Mr. Speaker, will also carry thousands of tourists to the many almost untouched recreation wonders in this constituency. Wells Gray Park, with its incredible falls, volcanic treasures, lakes and wilderness vistas, becomes an important destination, stimulating activity in Clearwater and Blue River as entrance points to that park. Our fishing camp operators see much potential in accessing this untapped population now made possible by that highway. The Barriere lakes, the Bonaparte Plateau and the Adams basin all will have new opportunity. Winter recreation, be it ice-fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or downhill skiing, will enjoy the opportunity for growth as the highway begins to fulfil its potential.
Perhaps even larger than the tourist potential is the potential to develop as an inland port. The strategic position of Kamloops within the intersection of all major highway networks, the intersection of both national railroads, and the new proximity, time-wise, to tidewater give great promise for the area to develop that opportunity. As the so-called leaders of all the groups at the port of Vancouver continue to send business to Seattle and Bellingham, all in the name of preserving local jobs, we have been drawing together a number of local, national and international groups, including transportation companies, union leaders, shipping interests and political leaders, for the purpose of exploring ways to develop more Canadian jobs by unstuffing containers in Canada at Kamloops using Canadian workers.
Mr. Speaker, I am confident we'll be able to report much more about this to this House later in the session, but as the people of Kamloops, together with their fellow citizens across B.C., contemplate how best to seize the opportunities that now challenge us, there are a number of issues emerging that I'm pleased to see have been raised in the throne speech and will be addressed by members of this Legislature. While, time permitting, it would be opportune to address matters relating to reforestation policy, the Pacific Rim Institute of Tourism, support for a trade agreement between Canada and the United States, reform of federal institutions, recommendations to stimulate and preserve the mining industry, sale of surplus electricity — be it generated from hydro, or thermal energy sources — development of trading corporations and
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the emphasis placed properly upon expanding our education and research capacity.... While all of those initiatives invite discussion and support, I want to confine myself to the need for greater equity investment in small- and medium sized business, with changes contemplated for the laws and institutions that govern the industrial relations community, and the question of Crown corporation privatization.
Recently, Mr. Speaker, a group of Kamloops professionals and business people organized a day-long seminar dealing with innovative ways to provide equity financing for small-and medium-sized business. The common message from that session was the clear and pressing need to harness our capital resources and encourage their investment as equity, rather than debt financing. It was therefore encouraging to see in the throne speech a commitment to provide greater opportunities for employee participation and investment in the private sector. Mr. Speaker, the venture capital corporation program now developing in B.C. Is an important vehicle for such participation and investment. However, Mr. Speaker, it is a vehicle which needs to have its guidelines broadened and expanded to include businesses with larger numbers of employees than presently allowed and, perhaps more importantly, to include businesses now excluded because they are so-called service industries.
Mr. Speaker, as governments everywhere grapple with the competing needs to stimulate growth while maintaining control of an increasing burden of public debt, it may be timely to note that there is increasing evidence to support the notion that, as public sector debt has increased, there has occurred a parallel increase in the amount of private sector savings and a like amount of decrease in private sector capital investment. Mr. Speaker, our local businesses need measures to increase equity investment and they welcome the initiatives that will expand the powers of our provincially regulated trust companies, credit unions and insurance companies. Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, these measures, developed as the package they are, will include the opportunity to initiate a stock ownership program, modelled perhaps upon the successful Quebec experience.
Mr. Speaker, our economy, especially in communities like we have in the Kamloops constituency, is being hindered in its opportunity to grow, to expand and to diversify, in part because of an apparent inability of our traditional financial institutions to respond to the needs of a new economy requiring innovative techniques for financial support. Mr. Speaker, we look forward to the specific measures flowing from the throne speech which will allow the vast capital resources now in savings accounts across this province to be released and to be reoriented towards the stimulation and growth of job creation in the private sector.
We in Kamloops constituency are pleased to learn the government contemplates changes to the laws and institutions that govern our industrial relations community. Especially are we concerned about the institutions, or to be more specific, the Labour Relations Board.
During debate the hon. member for Prince Rupert stated he rejected the notion that workers' democratic rights have been eroded in this province. Well, Mr. Speaker, we in Kamloops think that he may be wrong in that regard, but let me cite two examples to make my point.
The first is the case of Lowell Moore et al. v. IWA Local 1417 and Balco Industries. It is a case worthy of Dickens' Bleak House involving 90 plywood workers who had their separate seniority sold out for $10,000 through an agreement between the company and the union. That agreement was at first denied under oath by the IWA leadership, later to be admitted by other IWA leaders and the company negotiator. The 90 men, Mr. Speaker, applied under section 7 of the Code for redress. That was in 1983. They still await the pleasure of the Labour Relations Board. The LRB, by its own policy statement issued in June of 1985 over the signature of its chairman, delineates more eloquently than can any critic just how incapable, and I suggest unwilling, is that body to deal with section 7 complaints, the section of our code, Mr. Speaker, that especially ensures or supposedly ensures that workers' democratic rights are fairly dealt with by their union.
The process for dealing with issues such as those of the Balcony 90 is fundamentally flawed. It has become unfair to the workers, and preservation of the system's status quo has become the hallmark decision rationale for the Labour Relations Board when hearing such cases.
The second case, Mr. Speaker, involves Inland Glass and its unionized workers who, just within the last two weeks, were decertified without a hearing upon the application by their union, for the reason that they refused to let their employer sign the standard industry agreement, preferring instead to exercise their democratic rights unanimously within their company bargaining unit to operate under an agreement that has enabled them to maintain employment on union jobs for the past two and one-half years.
Mr. Speaker, in both these cases, as I will relate in much more detail further on in this session, the workers have been denied basic democratic rights and simple common sense by the action of the labour board, which as an institution has become increasingly removed from the reality of British Columbia, and which uses procedures that inhibit its ability to be seen to render fair decisions, and which has become the private preserve of a small clique of labour professionals who appear to be more concerned with preserving their cottage industry than with wisely managing our labour relations community.
While the present legislation may need significant changes, may I suggest a more important need for change is to be found at the LRB. Should anyone doubt that view, all they need do is compare the will of this House as expressed in the Code changes of 1984 with the decisions that have been taken by that board in interpreting those Code changes. We trust that any changes to the Code will be tempered with the knowledge that legislation alone is rarely able to regulate human behaviour. It is as complex as labour management relations.,
We hope therefore that any changes are underpinned by three guiding principles: that they result in fairness to both parties, both perceived and real; that they tend to place the onus to settle more heavily on the parties involved and less heavily upon third-party interveners, especially including government; and that they result in greater procedural clarity for all parties involved in the process. The maturity with which all members in this House approach the need to improve the laws and institutions governing industrial relations in this province may prove to be the measure of how truly committed we are to maintaining any sense of cooperation and a regimen of civility within this chamber and beyond.
More importantly, Mr. Speaker, the people of Kamloops — and, indeed, the people throughout British Columbia — will judge us all on the success we have in making changes
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that are beneficial, that are pragmatic and that are understandable to those most directly affected by our deliberation. Let us ensure we seek to advance the work being done by Ken Georgetti and others to enhance industrial relations as we begin and receive the opportunity to debate the means for dealing with industrial relations in this province.
Even after noting that Kamloops constituency has a heavy contingent of Crown corporations, the privatization proposals set out in the speech are welcome and, I believe, timely. It was encouraging to note the second member for Vancouver-Point Grey (Ms. Marzari) state in this House that the NDP is not in principle opposed to the notion of privatization. After hearing that member and noting the physical reaction of the first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Williams), I want to confirm for the second member for Vancouver-Point Grey that there is no truth to the rumour that her colleague for Vancouver East is arranging to have her garbed in a cloth cap and sent to Winnipeg for ideological rehabilitation.
However, I do understand he is sending that member the paperbound speech of Donald Scott, the NDP MLA for Inkster in Manitoba, who was recently banished from a conclave of socialists in Brandon for urging a reassessment of the philosophy and sympathetic faith in Crown corporations. No doubt the mere mention of privatization will bring predictable knee-jerk howls of both pain and joy from the usual quarters and for the usual reasons. That ideology from wherever it is derived must devour rationality if we're to have any fun at all in this highly polarized and politicized province of ours.
[Mr. Pelton in the chair.]
Nonetheless, I think from time to time we ought to look at how we deliver services and through what vehicle. So let us look at one of the easier targets for privatization. Let us look at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. Doubtless there will be those who will have a sense of maternity about ICBC and will rail at the thought of doing it differently. On the other side, some might even offer the view that 1CBC was always a part of the plot to send each of us to our collective reward. However — and somehow, Mr. Speaker — I suspect that upon examination we will find that ICBC came about for good sound reasons of public policy; that since 1976 it has been managed sanely; that it serves the public well; and that it may be time to unleash its vast capital, expertise and potential from the apron strings of monopoly government control. I say all that, because when one examines ICBC, it came about because eastern-based monopolistic insurers refused to respect the needs of this province.
Since 1976 that corporation, enjoying the benefits of, among other things, freedom from paying premium and income taxes, has managed to accumulate vast sums of capital which could be used to develop, in concert with the financial centre we are nurturing, an insurance entity that would be among the largest in North America and which would begin to grow, develop and compete not only within the province but beyond our borders as well. And all of that can be done, if we think about it, without rendering void the only unique aspect of ICBC, which is the Autoplan package. We can still maintain Autoplan — which after all is merely another insurance product, when all else is said and done — and allow ICBC to be sprung loose into the private sector through an ownership scheme analogous, shall we say, to the large policyholder mutuals such as the Wawanesa.
But we should look at privatization, not for reasons of ideology but for reasons of service delivery and, perhaps most importantly, to find ways to use our own collective provincial purchasing power to develop the private sector strength we need to break away from the impact of the growing concentration of power and capital now taking place across this land, but often ending up headquartered outside of British Columbia.
Mr. Speaker, as I conclude may I once again thank the voters of Kamloops for suffering me here in this place to serve them, and say a special thank you to the campaign team that worked so hard and so well, all as volunteers, during the writ period. My wife is here with me today, as she has been and as the family has been throughout the last months and years, giving support, contributing in whatever way they can, and being part of the challenges that we've shared together and enjoyed together.
As the people of Kamloops look ahead to having their constituency divided into single-member entities, they do so in the knowledge that their present dual-member riding began as the old three-member riding of Yale, which was created in 1871 and made into a single-member riding in 1902, from which a man who served our area and province with distinction — Frederick John Fulton — was first elected to this House in 1903. Since 1903, 11 others have represented this constituency. While those 11 have between them represented all five political organizations to govern this province this century, it is the case that Kamloops has been and remains the bell-wether riding in B.C., for in each election the people have always returned a member of the government side and not a member of the opposition.
To review recent history, that is why in 1933, 1937, 1941 and 1945 the people of Kamloops, Savona, Birch Island, Wire Cache and Avola said yes to Bob Carson and rejected the option of socialism. It's how Syd Smith earned the people's trust in 1949 when they said no to our friends opposite. The folks painted the slopes of Mount Paul with the words,"Go, go, Gaglardi" in 1952, '53, '56, '60, 463, '66 and'69. And yes, Mr. Speaker, in 1972 they responded to the first socialist they'd ever met who had the deceptive appearance of a good sense of humour, and they sent to this House my good friend Gerry Anderson. Even a hard worker like Gerry Anderson could not stop the people from pulling their hands out of the hot embers of statism in 1975, when they said yes to Rafe Mair, and did again in 1979. On my birthday in 1981 the people said "no thanks" to our friends and "you betcha" to the first member for Kamloops (Hon. Mr. Richmond), who they returned in 1983 and last fall as well. Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that with the kind of positive leadership shown by the throne speech and by our Premier, Kamloops will continue to be a bellwether riding for the re-election of freedom loving entrepreneurs well beyond the year 2000.
MR. STUPICH: May I start in the time-honoured tradition of congratulating the Speaker on being elected to that position, the Deputy Speaker, the MLAs who were elected to serve on behalf of their constituents — all 69 of them — and perhaps talk a little bit about the past, as the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations (Hon. ML Rogers) did.
I'd like to refer to his remarks briefly. As he said, it used to be the custom to describe this place as being a very exclusive club, and he seemed to want to move away from
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that description. But almost two million people went to the polls in October, and from their number selected some 69. The membership is very fixed. There can be only 69 members the way the rules are right now. We can change that from time to time; we have in the past several times during my career in the House, and probably we will again. But it is exclusive in that sense: you have to be elected to get here. There are a very limited number that can be in the House. Of course, as he went on to say, the task of getting re-elected is not always an easy one.
One of the things he said that caught my attention was something to the effect that we should not believe that once we're here we're here to stay; we should not be arrogant. I'm not sure that he used that word, but that's really what he said. I was surprised to hear it coming from him, because up until that point I thought he was one of the most arrogant members in the House. It made me think that maybe we should all sit back or stand up and look in a mirror, and wish, I suppose — if I'm going to say it in English, not in Scottish — that some power would give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us.
I wonder what kind of results we'd get — and I'm not going to do it; I'm a little afraid myself — if the opposition members put a questionnaire out to be answered by the government members, rating us with respect to arrogance from one to ten, if you like, and the government members sent their questionnaires over here asking us to rate them. Certainly, as I say, Mr. Speaker, up until that point I thought that that particular member would be the last one to talk about arrogance, so obviously he doesn't see it that way. I'm interested in seeing ourselves as others see us.
Mr. Speaker, there's another tradition that's been stretched since I arrived after the election in 1963, and I'm going to talk about it: this business of introductions at the beginning of the session. I think nobody is interested except me, but I noticed today it was 14:23 — 23 minutes after 2 — when we finished the introductions. It used to be that the Speaker would frown if you went beyond very fixed limits. If you had a group of school students attending, then you could say that there were a group of school students attending from Nanaimo, and ask the House to bid them welcome. Perhaps you might even say that they were here with their teacher, and give the teacher's name. But that kind of thing was reserved for people who had some particular importance beyond their own constituency. It was reserved for groups of school students or other groups that might be attending on occasion; particularly on the occasion of a maiden speech, a member would be excused for introducing his spouse or his mother or something like that. But introductions took up very little time.
The grey hair.... I'm going back 24 years, so things have changed. I feel not for the better in that regard, but nevertheless some of us may feel that it adds something to the House to have these introduction periods. They seem to be getting longer and longer and longer, and taking away from the time of the House, if you like. But, as I say, one man's meat is perhaps another man's poison.
There has been some comment about the attitude of the members on one side of the House as opposed to those on the other side. It was serious in the days of W.A.C. Bennett — we all took our work very seriously — but there wasn't the personal animosity that there was between the two government leaders, and there wasn't the animosity between the members of the two groups. W.A.C. Bennett used to fight with Robert Strachan on the floor of the House and disagree with him and call him "that wild man from the Hebrides." He called him all kinds of things in the House. Outside of the House they weren't social friends, but certainly they greeted each other pleasantly in the member's dining room and that sort of thing, as did other members.
It was the custom in those days for the Speaker to have lunches once a week when he would have members from both sides of the House. I would welcome that kind of thing now. I'm not sure, it may be starting; something happened that I'm not sure of. I would certainly welcome it now, because I see some of the members opposite — on my own side I have learned the 13 new ones and know who they are — and they smile at me in the dining room, and I wonder, are they from Nanaimo or where have I seen them before? They look vaguely familiar, and it is taking me some time to try to identify the members on the government side of the House. There are so many of them, Mr. Speaker; that is another unfortunate thing about the last election.
I remember discussing this animosity and the fact that I felt that this was bad for government and bad for British Columbia with one of the important — and I say that because he had a particular position — members of the government caucus. He said that it was unfortunate, but it would be that way until both parties changed their leader. After our 1984 convention, I went to that same person and said: "Well, our leader has been changed. Now what about yours?" And he said: "It's coming." Well, it did come. Certainly sooner than I expected, but it came. I think that that's part of the reason: to a large extent the pattern is set by the leaders and the feeling they have for each other. I like to think that the feeling between the two leaders now is not one of personal animosity. It seems that we're going to have a new leader after the middle of April, and I would like to think that that would continue. Certainly there will be the contest between them, but not the personal animosity. I am looking forward to that.
I would like to talk a little bit about the throne speech itself, and once again I am going to say that tradition has changed and certainly the throne speech has changed. I have seen a lot of them since 1963. Always throne speeches used to be full of a lot of words about publicly important people who had visited the province during the past year or notable public people within the province who had passed away during the past year. Large paragraphs. And then some more large paragraphs that hinted vaguely at what different ministers were doing in their ministries, and there might even be some hints as to what they might do, but certainly nothing into which you could get your teeth.
This one is different, Mr. Speaker. I don't know whether you noticed, but I did take the trouble of going through it. There were only two paragraphs that have four lines in them. Every other paragraph has less than four lines, and it is big print. Now that certainly is a departure. There's none of the stuff that used to take up so much space and time and that contributed nothing to the debate in the House. One could enter into a debate on almost every one of the one or two lines in this throne speech, and indeed many of the members who have spoken.... And I want to congratulate them all, particularly the ones who are speaking in this place for the first time. I can vaguely remember that happening to me, and it was a tough day. I have lived through it and have been around since, but it was tough. I found it very difficult, and some of them told me afterwards that they found it difficult. I
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got the appearance from very few of them that they had any difficulty at all.
Naturally, Mr. Speaker, if you have listened with an unbiased ear to both sides, you will agree with me that the better speakers are on the opposition side of the House — there are some exceptions on the government side — and I say that that's not just an accident. The fact is that our people, the members on this side of the House, have come up through a pretty tough party. They've had to excel to be recognized within their constituencies. They've had to excel at conventions to be recognized by the chairman of the convention. They've had a pretty tough upbringing before they ever get to this point of being an MLA. It's not the start of their political career; it's just one of the steps. Whereas many of the people on the government side of the House probably appeared at their very first political convention when they watched the Social Credit leadership convention on TV. That was probably their first experience with any kind of a convention, so they haven't had that kind of hard.... What did they used to call it with our gang, the kids, the street fighting? They haven't had that experience of street fighting that our members have. So naturally ours are better, and I am sure they will go on to prove that for the rest of the session.
There are some things that I wanted to comment on in the throne speech — some pluses that I'm looking forward to hearing the details of, and issues about which I have questions. It has already been mentioned that approval of the idea that.... Welfare rates for those who need it most will be increased, particularly for families and single parents. Well, Mr. Speaker, we've talked about this — and you and I have been here for the past five years — and we recognize there has been no increase in welfare rates in the past six years, and that in some instances there have actually been decreases. The cost of living in B.C. has gone up some 35 percent in that period. So all these people — it talks about who needs it; they all need it or they wouldn't be on welfare — could receive a 35 percent increase without getting any increase at all over the level at which they were the last time rates were increased. So the time for that is long overdue. We're pleased that it's happening. We're anxious to see the budget to see to just what extent it's happening.
There is a line in here — we can all agree with it, but again, we wonder what the government is going to do — about education being the bedrock on which we must build our new economy. Certainly on this side of the House, ever since that infamous day in July of 1983, we've been arguing that education is the bedrock upon which we must build our economy, and ever since then the government has been tightening more and more the screws on education at all levels. Of course, part of the reason for our bad economic condition in B.C., as contrasted to the rest of Canada, is that we have cut back so much on education at all levels, from kindergarten to research beyond university days. We're suffering for it.
A royal commission on education is being proposed, and I suppose I must follow the party line and say I welcome that. I recall the former leader of this House, Robert Strachan — and I mentioned his name already — saying on several occasions that a royal commission is a government's excuse for doing nothing. Now that's one concern I have about royal commissions. This government has studied education under three or four separate ministers in the past six years. They are always doing another study, and nothing good ever comes of it. As well as saying that the royal commission is going to start sitting very soon, they say in here that several things are going to be done, presumably immediately or very soon. Perhaps they provision for it in the budget. If I were being asked to head a royal commission on education and at the same time the government told me about various changes that they were in the process of making, I would say: "Well, why don't you wait until you've made those changes, then ask me to start my work" or "Hold off the changes until I've had an opportunity to study what is happening right now." Don't say,"I want you to study it and I want you to bring in recommendations" and, on the other hand, proceed to make changes that may be completely out of step with anything that the royal commissioner may recommend. So I wonder, when I see that, when the government has specific proposals to make with respect to education, if they really intend that the royal commission on education will simply be an excuse for inaction.
Post-secondary funding will be increased to ensure colleges and universities are a full partner in the process. We all welcome that, but we have to wonder where it is coming from. What is going to suffer? What area of government activity is going to suffer? How is it going to be financed? That's only a question mark, because we certainly welcome the increased attention to education.
There is one that, I think, no one has mentioned — at least, I haven't noticed it. It's been a very real problem, or at least, people anticipate it will be a very real problem. It is that action will also be taken to improve provisions related to insurance liability for municipalities. The municipalities have been crying for this. Not just municipalities, but many other people have been expressing concern about the cost or their inability to get liability insurance coverage. I'm pleased that the government is moving on this. I don't know how that fits in with privatization, about which I intend to say more later. Whatever they're going to do, I'm pleased that action is coming and I am waiting to see the form of the action.
A fund will be set up to make our province a world leader in forestry research and to encourage the development of new technologies to make our industry even more productive. Well, I heard this speech read in the House on Monday. I sat through a provincial council meeting of the NDP on the Saturday and Sunday before that, and the same paragraph could have been lifted word for word out of the policy statement with respect to forestry that we were discussing. I am not sure that it was, but it certainly could have been lifted right out of that document. We couldn't agree more about the need for doing this. We couldn't agree more about the need for making it a substantial fund and making it really work. Again, I am in favour of it. We have to wait to see what kind of action the government proposes or will enact.
I am pleased to see the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Dueck) in his seat at the moment, Mr. Speaker. There's an announcement here about the development of a centre for victims of brain injuries in cooperation with ICBC and the WCB and the University of B.C. Health Sciences Centre. It's going to be somewhere on Vancouver Island.
Mr. Speaker, I would think that a great place to have it would be Nanaimo. It's a close as any point on Vancouver Island to UBC and to WCB, so it's really in that sort of ambit of all those agencies. The Nanaimo Regional District Hospital is becoming more and more a health institution. One day I want to ask the Minister of Health one or more questions about what's happening. It has the land and it has the facilities. I would like to see it in Nanaimo partly because of the additional health benefits that will accrue to the citizens of
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Vancouver Island, at least north of the Malahat. Any expansion of health facilities in that area will attract to it other health facilities, other health services, and I think it's something that's sorely needed on Vancouver Island north of the Malahat. So I'd put in a plea, since this is going to happen — the throne speech tells us — for the minister to give strong consideration to locating that centre somewhere within Nanaimo city, or Nanaimo community, at least.
Mr. Speaker, some of my concerns. One line here reads: "provide more just and equitable expropriation procedures for all British Columbians." Mr. Speaker, you've been here long enough to have seen that in several throne speeches. I saw it in the very first throne speech that I saw, and that was in 1964. The minister of the day was promising to do exactly this, and he promised it just after there had been a royal commission on the subject — I believe it was the Clyne commission — spelling out exactly why and how the government could go about improving expropriation procedures. Well, Mr. Speaker, that speech was first read in this House, I believe, 23 years ago. We're still waiting. It's promised again. Let's hope that this time we get something more than promise — that we'll actually have legislation before us that will be passed by this Legislature.
"End dual constituencies." Mr. Speaker, I agree with ending dual constituencies, but not simply by drawing a line through the middle of them now and cutting them in half. That isn't good enough. In my own particular constituency I can see that line cutting through Nanaimo city. There's no need to cut Nanaimo city in half. I think what we need is a popular redefining of the boundaries in this province. To the best of my knowledge, every time that has been done there has been criticism of it being politically inspired.
I can recall when Nanaimo and the Islands was first created. It was in 1944, I think, and the criticism at the time was that Nanaimo and the Islands took Nanaimo city barely — and it was a very small city geographically in those days — and the islands clear down to Resthaven, which is an island at high tide not far from here. It took every island down to there. When the commissioner said to the MLAs who were in the committee discussing this proposal and other riding proposals that there were economic reasons, there were geographic reasons and there were cultural reasons for having the boundaries as they are, the member for Comox, Colin Cameron, asked the commissioner to explain the proposed riding boundaries for Nanaimo and the Islands in line with the criteria he had already described. The commissioner could only say: "Sometimes there are other considerations."
Mr. Speaker, that has been the case with every redistribution to my knowledge. Everybody has an answer, I suppose. I don't always agree with what the federal government does in this respect, but I think generally they have a reasonably good way of dealing with the problem. I think they goofed on Vancouver-Little Mountain in the process — the fact that there weren't the public hearings that were promised — but I think they have a reasonably good process. My recommendation would simply be — this is not a party recommendation; it's mine — that we take the federal boundaries, which are redrawn every ten years to take population changes into account, and divide them into two provincial ridings each. There are some very large rural ridings where it's impossible to get around. In those cases I would say three members and in some cases even four, but generally, Mr. Speaker, two provincial constituencies for each federal riding. People would know the riding in which they lived. They'd know who their MLA and who their MP was. They could keep track of them, and if the boundaries changed every time there was a federal redefining, then I think that would be the best route to go. As I say, perhaps out of 69 members we could get at least 70 proposals as to how it could be done better, but that's my own recommendation.
MR. ROSE: That's a good one.
MR. STUPICH: Thank you, Mark.
My concern, Mr. Speaker, about the apparent move of the government to put more money into an independent school system.... Sometime today one of the members who was speaking — I've forgotten which one now — said that people should have a choice; they should be able to go to the independent school of their choice. Mr. Speaker, I mentioned earlier the lunches that the Speaker used to arrange with members from both sides. I was at one of those lunches once and the Premier was also at the lunch, W.A.C. Bennett. We talked at that luncheon about independent schools, and he very firmly and unequivocally said: "Public money for public education, private money for private schools." There was a Catholic member of the cabinet at the time — a practising, sincere Catholic, Frank Richter — who said he agreed totally that there should not be public funding for independent schools. Yes, send your children to any independent school you want to, but be prepared to pay the cost of maintaining a separate institution that, if it chooses, may go out of the business tomorrow. They have no legislation that obliges them to provide education, as the School Act obliges the public school system.
You can recall, Mr. Speaker, coming from where you do — I think it was in Surrey — when a number of private schools got together and decided they would blackmail the government and threaten to close the private schools if the government didn't give them some particular help that they wanted at the time. The public school system, to their credit, said: "Go ahead and close. We'll accommodate those students; we're legally bound to accommodate them." The private schools did close then, and the public school system did look after the educational needs of all those students, accommodated them somehow. It wasn't easy, but at least they did it. The public school system was obliged to legally; the private schools could close any time they wanted to at the whim of the directors. Public money for public education, private money for private schools — my attitude is the attitude of the opposition.
I'm just looking for the next question here. Free trade has already been mentioned by the member for Coquitlam Moody (Mr. Rose).
There's one reference in here that concerned me, and I think perhaps it wasn't meant to come out the way it did. "My government will act early in this session to bring about longterm stability in labour relations" — not "labour-management relations" but "labour relations," which suggests to me.... The connotation seems to be that the writer believed that labour was at fault, totally wrong, and that all he had to do was do something about labour and then we'd have labour-management peace in the province. I can remember once the President of the United States taking on a very strong union and strong union leader, and losing the fight to John L. Lewis.
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I want to talk, perhaps, about privatization. I remember reading a document quite some time ago about the reasons for public ownership. What are the criteria that you would use if you were questioning whether or not a certain enterprise should be privately owned or publicly owned? The case for public ownership was based on three criteria. One of them was that if you were dealing with a natural monopoly where the enterprise, by virtue of its monopoly, had the authority to set prices or else had to be totally controlled by government, then there was a strong case to be made for public ownership — such as with B.C. Hydro. We can't have two systems, two organizations, two corporations selling us electricity in the city of Victoria or in the city of Nanaimo or in Dewdney. It just won't work. If that were privately owned — as some parts of the system are, and I'm afraid we may be losing ownership of some more — then you have to start controlling them, and if you're going to spend all your time policing an organization, then why not bring it into the public ambit to start with?
So there is a case to be made for public ownership if you're dealing with a natural monopoly. There's a case to be made for public ownership when you're dealing with a people service: the delivery of welfare services, the delivery of health services, the delivery of education services. Whatever you do by way of privatization, to a large extent those services will continue to be delivered, provided by the public service in some way. There's just no way of providing those services practically or efficiently unless they are under the public, and certainly the public is paying the price, so the public should control the way in which those services are provided.
The third one is if you have something in the public service that's making money, then it helps pay for some of the public services, such as liquor profits. Why let someone else in on that, Mr. Speaker, when the government is providing the services that are needed to some extent because of the consumption of liquor in the first place? If the government's going to have to pay for the hospitals, if the government's going to have to pay for the alcohol education, if the government's going to have to police the highways to pick up impaired drivers and that sort of thing, then why not get the province into liquor distribution as well? So I think the system is working not too badly as it is, and that's, as I say, the third criterion. If there's something that'll make money and the government can use that money and not have to raise taxes, so much the better.
Going from public ownership to private ownership is not always a fortuitous step, Mr. Speaker. The Social Credit government — not this one, the previous one or three governments ago, I guess — tried an experiment in privatization that did not do anything for the people of B. C. It did a lot to them but certainly didn't do anything for them, because that attempt at privatization sold off or transferred to private ownership a number of entities which were making profits, and the profits were coming to the shareholders which to some extent were the people of British Columbia through the government.
Every one of them, or not every one but most of those corporations that were transferred to BCRIC were moneymakers; the money was coming in to the government and the government was using that money to provide services. They were turned over to private ownership, and look what private ownership did to them, Mr. Speaker. How many of them are left, even in BCRIC? BCRIC ran that downhill. Corporations that were working and providing employment in their communities, that were making profits to help pay for government services — the government gave them to BCRIC. It gave them; it didn't make them pay but gave them, and even when they were given $500 million worth of assets, private ownership couldn't run them successfully.
Now you might say that the directors were the wrong ones. They were picked by the Premier, so he made a bad choice in directors. But it's not just that. Public ownership was working. Private ownership failed the people of British Columbia miserably. So it is not always a panacea. It is not always something that is going to work.
Beyond that, it's a cop-out.
AN HON. MEMBER: It's a commandment.
MR. STUPICH: It's not a commandment. It's a commandment, okay, but it is a cop-out as well. The government of British Columbia is by far many fold times larger than the biggest corporation in the province of British Columbia if you include everything under the ambit and control of government. Government, all of the Crown corporations, all of the schools, all the hospitals, you add it all up and it is a tremendously big enterprise. And it is working. It is providing all of those things. You might say inefficiently, and I say well, look at BCRIC. The government was running BCRIC a lot better than the private enterprise directors were. But it is doing that.
Mr. Speaker, if that tremendous enterprise conveys any kind of a message to the private sector, whether it be one of hope and optimism for the future or whether it be one of despair and despondency, the community reacts. When the government in the budget of 1993 said: "We're going to slash 20 percent out of all of the employees in the public sector" — and it added up to 75,000 people because there were almost 400,000 people working for government in one way or another throughout the province — well, that sent a message to the rest of the community that things are really bad. So the private sector started the same kind of slashing.
So instead of having people working and earning wages or earning salaries, whatever, these people were getting unemployment insurance, those that could, and some of them went on welfare. We've never recovered from that. The biggest enterprise in the province, by far the biggest enterprise, sent a message out to the community: "Things are tough, you have got to cut back; it's terrible in B.C." And the province listened, to our sorrow, Mr. Speaker.
Now if we diminish the size of that, if we say,"We're not taking any responsibility for the economic future of the province. It's up to the private sector, and if the private sector wants to buy some of the government activities and carry them on, good luck to them. We can't handle them properly; we're not doing a good job. You take them over," what kind of message is that going to give to the people of the province, Mr. Speaker?
What kind of fear will there be about the level of service that will be available in health services; the level of service that will be available in education; the level of service that will be available in ICBC? The second member for Kamloops put out a pitchfork, privatization of ICBC. Well, goodness' sakes, Mr. Speaker, that's how we got here in the first place. Private industry was not doing the job.
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I can remember the then Attorney-General Robert Bonner saying to the private industries involved in auto insurance: "If you don't clean up your act, if you don't provide a better service at a lower cost, the government is going to be forced to go into the auto insurance business." Kicking and screaming, they didn't want to. But that was under the W.A.C. Bennett regime. They were threatened then that if they didn't do something better, the government was going to set up an auto insurance business.
The government didn't do it. The private industry didn't do it, so government did it after the election in 1972. Now you're going to give it back to private enterprise to screw it up again? Mr. Speaker, I listened and it's a good throne speech. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and there will be opportunity to discuss all of these issues about which I have spoken briefly at greater length sometime between now and next June, July, August, September.
MR. JACOBSEN: It is indeed an honour and a pleasure to stand and address this House for the first time as a member of this government. I want to begin by congratulating the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker on your appointments to your distinguished positions within this Legislature. I know you will carry out your duties to the highest standard of parliament in providing all members with equal rights and privileges.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the people of Dewdney for allowing me the privilege of representing them in this Legislature. I know the challenge and responsibility that that mandate entails, and though I am aware that I have much to learn about the process and workings of government, I welcome the challenge and dedicate myself to positive service on behalf of my constituency. I would also like to thank the campaign workers in the riding for their fine work. I would especially like to thank the campaign manager for the riding, Mr. Peter Rose.
At this time I would like to offer my congratulations and best wishes to our Premier, not only for the office he holds but also for the leadership he provides. His call for a fresh start for British Columbia has done much to lift the hopes and aspirations of the people of this province. His emphasis on achieving new economic growth has given the hope of meaningful work to the unemployed, the picture of a brighter future for our young people and the prospect of fresh opportunity for the small business sector of our economy. But the Premier has also provided leadership in another and at least equally important way: his public recognition of the importance and sanctity of the family unit in our society. His concern with the moral issues is truly a breath of fresh air for many British Columbians. They hold to the hope that the influence of government will be used for the good purpose of protecting moral values and strengthening the social fibre of society.
Mr. Speaker, I want to express my sincere best wishes to every member of this Legislature. I know that each one has come here sharing my aspiration of fulfilling the dual purpose of providing the best possible service to our constituents and, at the same time, contributing in a meaningful way to the quality of life in our province. I wish each one much success and personal fulfilment in that endeavour, and I look forward to working with each member in the months and years ahead as together we participate in the responsibility of governing this great province. No one, I believe, should accept lightly the privilege of representing others in public office nor should we view with arrogance the fact that we've been chosen to this position of responsibility; rather, we should serve with humility.
When Mother Teresa, the patron saint of the gutter, as they call her in Calcutta, was awarded the Nobel prize for her work among the deprived people of that area, she was asked how it felt to spend her life among the sick and the dying and the have-nots of the world. Her answer was this: "God has not called me to be successful but rather to be faithful." There's a difference, you see. Each one of us here needs to dedicate ourselves towards being faithful rather than towards personal success. It is not as important that we be great parliamentarians as it is that we be true humanitarians. It is not really so necessary for us to hear the applause of our supporters as it is to hear the call of those who may be hurting within our society.
As elected representatives, we must remember that our first and foremost duty is to serve the people of this great province. We must be sensitive to the needs of the people. While all of us have equal rights, not all of us have equal abilities. We must make provision to provide for those who, for one reason or another, must rely on others. I believe that our goal as a government is not to have power for the sake of power but to advance the good of all citizens of British Columbia.
Mr. Speaker, I believe the throne speech reflects our government's concern for British Columbians. I wholeheartedly agree with the themes in the throne speech which indicate that we must invest in people, our most valuable resource. Quality education, job-training opportunities, recreational facilities for our youth, housing facilities for our seniors, first-class health care and balanced social services are all part of that investment. Our government is dedicated to making this kind of investment, and I'm glad to say that the throne speech reflects that commitment. Support programs for single mothers, more day-care facilities, provisions to ensure timely support and maintenance payments by spouses, a renewed commitment to education, increased post-secondary funding, support programs for crime victims, increased welfare rates for those most in need, and so on — I could continue for a long time listing the people oriented areas this government is dedicated to and will work hard to improve.
Dewdney has a proud history of representation in this House. For many years it was ably represented by my good friend Mr. George Mussallem. His ability to serve with dignity and courtesy earned him the respect of all people in government regardless of political affiliation. In more recent times Dewdney has been represented by another member who has distinguished himself in service to this province and now occupies the position of Deputy Speaker. I consider it a privilege to share the representation of Dewdney with him, and his advice and support are sincerely appreciated.
Mr. Speaker, as the second member for Dewdney I would like to spend a few minutes describing to you our constituency. Dewdney is located on the north side of the Fraser River. It encompasses an area that includes three municipalities: Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Mission, and the Dewdney-Alouette Regional District. Dewdney is a riding with a sense of community, a strong commitment to family values, and a belief in individual initiative and the work ethic. Dewdney offers some of the best and most reasonably priced residential property in the Fraser Valley, and as a result we
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have attracted many people who work outside the constituency but who wish to own their own homes and enjoy the quality of life that Dewdney provides.
Dewdney has perhaps the greatest reserve of attractive residential property to be found in the lower mainland. It is important to note that this land does not in any way attract from the agricultural land reserve. Due to this attraction, Mr. Speaker, the population of the west end of the riding has increased substantially since 1983. The population growth rate of Pitt Meadows has consistently exceeded the provincial average since 1981. For instance, in Pitt Meadows in 1985 the number of dwelling starts rose by 48.6 percent from the previous year, while in Maple Ridge dwelling starts increased by a rate 142.5 percent higher than the provincial average. Along with this residential growth has come some small business development. In Maple Ridge, for example, the number of business incorporations grew by 40 percent from 1984 to 1985. This is almost four times the provincial average.
But we are still far short of the economic development necessary to provide the jobs my constituency needs. Mr. Speaker, as one of the representatives from Dewdney I must point out that one of my major goals as an MLA will be to increase employment opportunities for the residents of that riding. It is important that residents of Dewdney have the option of employment in their own community. Forestry and agriculture are major economic activities in the riding; lumber mills along the Fraser provide the bulk of forest industry employment, but logging is also quite extensive in the eastern part. In recent years the development of industrial sites has attracted new industry to the western section of my riding, namely Maple Ridge. However, if we are to provide more jobs we must attract additional industry to the area. In Dewdney we are committed to making this happen, but we need the cooperation of our government.
To attract new industry into the area it is essential that our transportation link with the lower mainland be improved. A first-class transportation system is the key to economic growth. Since the 1950s the Social Credit government has worked hard to build first-class roads and railways which have opened up the province for economic development for everyone's benefit. We are committed to ensuring that B.C. transportation systems provide the network to achieve this goal. There have been some transportation improvements that have benefited Dewdney: the completion of the Mary Hill bypass in Coquitlam, for example. However, for Dewdney to reach its full potential, it's imperative that the widening of Highway 7, better known as the Lougheed Highway, be completed as soon as possible.
This is my number one issue. Mission's economic survival depends on the implementation of a four-lane highway system. By improving our access to markets in the lower mainland, we would be able to attract additional industry to the area. The improvement of transportation routes to Dewdney would undoubtedly serve to make our riding an even more attractive community for people to live, work and relax in.
The widening of Highway 7 was first proposed in the throne speech in 1972. While we appreciate the small portions of the road that have been increased from two to four lanes, the residents of our riding are especially anxious to see the portion of Highway 7 from Albion to Mission widened. In spite of past frustrations, my constituents are optimistic, because they believe that this government won't simply promise them the new road, they will build it.
Another means of transportation which I believe should be implemented is a commuter rail system which would extend to Mission. I'm glad to see that our Premier is open to re-examining the feasibility of such a system. The idea of a commuter rail system has been discussed and reported in great detail over the past decade. For instance, the proposal for an integrated commuter transit system for the lower mainland written by the Urban Transit Authority in May 1981 recommended that there should be a two-phase completion of a commuter rail system from Granville station in Vancouver to Mission, using the existing CP Rail facilities. It further suggested that such a transportation system would be of great economic benefit to the communities on the north side of the Fraser River. I urge the reconsideration and implementation of such a system, to connect the constituency of Dewdney with the lower mainland.
There are a number of impressive cost-saving, cost-effective commuter rail systems that could be considered as models for the northern corridor of the Fraser Valley. For instance, the GO Transit system in Ontario is set up to operate a commuter rail system for the Toronto area and relieve pressure on the surrounding highway routes. This system has been highly successful in moving people quickly, safely and efficiently. At the end of its first year of operation in 1967 the system had carried 2.5 million passengers. By 1986 this had increased to a total of 26 million passengers. A commuter rail system on the north side of the Fraser River would be equally effective, providing benefits to all of the lower mainland.
Improved transportation routes would be of major benefit to our tourist industry. Dewdney is a haven for those who like the outdoors. For example, our riding is the home of the Golden Ears Provincial Park, one of the most scenic and popular parks in all the province. Due to Dewdney's proximity to major population areas, the area has immense tourist potential. I will be working hard to increase tourism in the riding. I strongly support our government's tourist initiative as stated in the throne speech.
In my constituency, as in most areas of British Columbia, forestry is of great importance. It's an industry with a colourful past and, I believe, the potential for a very bright future. It was the logger more than anyone else who helped bring British Columbia from the rugged undeveloped territory it was into the high-tech society of today. Our busy, thriving seaports, Vancouver's impressive skyline and our modem transportation and communications systems would be simply dreams were it not for the wealth that has been produced from our forest industry. A vibrant province was created by the selfless, hard-working efforts made by the pioneer loggers. I applaud the contribution to British Columbia by the people involved in the industry, be they loggers, mill workers or foresters.
But forestry in British Columbia is not a story of the past. It is also a story of the present. Today our forest industry provides 78,000 direct jobs. Approximately one in four British Columbians depends directly or indirectly on our forests for their employment. It is the economic life of thousands of families and countless communities across this province, and it can continue to grow in importance in the years ahead. Forestry is not a sunset industry. I share the positive view expressed in the throne speech that we have the potential to be world leaders in forestry, and that our forest industry offers
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untapped potential for fresh economic growth. I'm especially pleased to see that our government will set up a fund to encourage the development of new technologies related to forestry. Whether it be forest education, silviculture, harvesting or product manufacturing and research, we should strive for excellence. We have the potential to be the best, and we should not settle for less.
Our target must be that British Columbia will be the number one forest centre in the world. It is time now to follow the example of those early pioneers and work hard to establish a secure future for our young people. I am delighted to see that a sound reforestation policy remains an important priority for our government. This policy is vital to ensuring the future health of our number one industry. Working with the private sector, we will make sure that more trees are planted than are harvested or lost to fire and infestation.
We can, with careful management, have the benefits of our forest resource today and still leave a resource to future generations that in many ways will be more valuable than when we found it. As a logger, I am aware of the need for the forest industry and all industries in the province to produce and deliver quality products on time and at fair prices as a means of increasing and keeping our markets. To achieve this it is essential that there be cooperation and consultation between all concerned, and that brings us to the question of labour relations. I am more than pleased to see that our government is committed to taking measures to improve industrial labour relations in all sectors of our economy, including the forest industry.
The throne speech statement that our government will make important changes to the laws regulating industrial relations in B.C., including the protection of the democratic rights of individuals in the workplace, is an important one. However, at the same time, I respect the rights of unions. I believe that government's responsibility is to protect the rights of all members without interfering with the union's ability to function as an effective collective bargaining agent for its members. As an employer in the forest industry with union employees, I recognize the need for a balanced approach to labour relations.
Settling labour disputes is clearly the responsibility of the parties involved. These parties have received at their own request the right to represent their respective members, and therefore it is their responsibility to make the dispute-resolution process work. Only when a dispute becomes too large and causes undue suffering to the outside parties should the government intervene.
As an MLA and a parent, I am pleased to see that our government is moving to increase educational opportunities for our youth and for those wishing to further their postsecondary education. The implementation of a scholarship credit plan for high-school students is a welcome move. By investing in education, we are investing in the future. It is vital that our youth be equipped with the required skills that they can use to successfully meet the challenges of tomorrow. Our Premier's decision to establish a royal commission into education is indeed a welcome move.
By reviewing the state of education we, as the leaders of today, will be able to provide the best possible education opportunities for the leaders of tomorrow. The new economy will demand new skills, and I am pleased to see that our government will move to provide the necessary educational programs to acquire those skills. The educational opportunities that we provide for our youth are, in fact, investments in this province's economy. In regard to economy, I am pleased to see that our government has recognized the important role of the private sector.
The track record of small- and medium-sized businesses in job creation is proven. I fully support our government's commitment to providing marketing- and managing-skill supports to those British Columbians who wish to operate cottage industries at the local level. As well, I am pleased to see that our government will open doors so more employees can invest and participate in the important sector of our economy. By taking measures to increase the role of small-and medium-sized business, our province's economy will undoubtedly prosper. By financing private sector expansion through privately run venture funds, we are putting economic decision-making back into the marketplace where it belongs. Government can provide a climate of investment to attract entrepreneurs; government itself cannot be the entrepreneurs. I am very happy that our government has emphasized this and will take the appropriate measures to establish a climate of investment.
By helping such industries as agriculture and our food and beverage industry capitalize on domestic and foreign market opportunities, our government will provide benefits for the entire Fraser Valley region. I believe it's important to encourage initiatives such as these which turn our raw agricultural resources into marketable finished products and in turn add value to products that might otherwise be exported.
Our government's decision to establish a task force to work on privatizing Crown corporations is a positive step. While government involvement is necessary in some areas, there are other areas where the private sector can provide the same if not better service in a less costly manner.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that our government will introduce a major employment and job training program for the employable welfare recipients. Not only will this serve to provide much-needed employment, but more importantly it will provide the sense of self-esteem and pride to those who have been forced to depend on social assistance. In today's highly competitive and demanding society we must remember that not everyone is capable of being completely self-supporting.
I am pleased that our government is taking measures to ensure that people receive adequate support. We are not a government which believes in unnecessary handouts that rob people of their sense of initiative and self-reliance. However, we recognize that there are times when people end up in difficult situations, often created by circumstances beyond their control, where they must depend on outside assistance. I believe that it's our responsibility to support such British Columbians for as long as necessary and in whatever way may be required: financial supplements, education, job skills, training, medical services, housing and so on.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to close today by reiterating that this throne speech indicates clearly that we are on a new road that leads to economic success and a more secure future for all British Columbians. Our challenge is to ensure that our great province reaches its fullest potential. We must remember that we are here as the servants of the public, and that our first priority must be the well-being of the citizens of this province. By looking to the needs of people and listening to the concerns, we can be sure that we are properly doing our jobs as representatives and legislators.
As the second member for Dewdney, I look forward to a spirited and productive session. I see this as a tremendous
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opportunity. I hope I live up to the trust and responsibility that has been placed in me by my constituents, because they deserve good representation. I believe that we have set realistic objectives, which I am sure we will obtain. Ours will be a government of accomplishment.
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to join in this debate again. I'm proud to represent the great riding of Vancouver East, and I won't spend as much time describing it as some of the members on the other side. It's a riding that has an outstanding record in terms of who they want to represent them across this land, in Ottawa and in Victoria. They've had a consistent pattern of believing that in this society we can indeed be better off, that there can indeed be a better system, and that we need not put up with the levels of unemployment and the kind of human tragedy that all too often is the result of the kind of administrations we've had from the people on the other side. They're a special breed, and I'm proud to represent them.
I'm proud to have heard the kind of speeches that I've heard in this throne debate in this new House, because this is a kind of watershed session in a lot of ways. The people in this chamber don't change that often, if you look at the modem history of the province, but this election was a watershed in terms of the new people who were brought forth. And the ones that I've seen on my side in this group have impressed me immensely in terms of the richness of representation that they are. The member for Esquimalt-Port Renfrew (Mr. Sihota), an Indo-Canadian, is the first of his ethnic background to sit in the Legislature in this province. I was proud and excited to hear him talk about social justice, and social justice for his people in this province over this century, and how he wants to move and continue to move in that way.
I was proud of my new colleague from Vancouver East (Mr. Clark), who talked about the moral and ethical questions of work, and how proper it is that all people should have work because of its importance. He referred to the Catholic bishops and their statements about a moral and ethical economy. Maybe the people over there don't think about the economy in those terms, as a moral question. But friends, it is. And I hope that some of you who deal with moral questions in other territory think about it in terms of economic justice for a change.
I'm proud of my colleague from Prince Rupert (Mr. Miller) — and the Queen Charlottes — who talked strongly about the people of the north and the importance for working people of building a better society. I'm impressed by them all.
I can't help but compare it to some extent with what I heard over there. I'm pleased with what I heard from the member for Dewdney just now. He clearly sees being a member as a significant obligation. I'm sure we all do. But just hearing about how many square kilometres you have in your riding.... . We've heard that echoed in this chamber again and again and again in throne speech debates. The question of where we want to direct this wealthy, important province is the fundamental question. That hasn't come through at all. So I'm impressed by one of the members from the Okanagan who went so far in congratulating the government that he congratulated the Premier on his choice of cabinet. Well, the member isn't in the cabinet. So it's nice to see that kind of self-effacing thing. It would have been encouraging to have heard that from the far reaches of the back benches, from the first member for Vancouver-Point Grey (Ms. Campbell) and one of the members from Kamloops, who are as far back in the back bench as you can get in this House. But at least we got it from the member for Okanagan South.
But you know, in a sense, listening to those speeches on the other side.... The real world never entered in terms of the number of people who are unemployed, seeking work, wanting a decent life. Did we hear about that from the new members? No, we didn't. It just doesn't happen. We're hurting in this province because we had a lost decade under Bill Bennett. We don't hear about Bill Bennett from many of you, but it was a lost decade. We could have been moving ahead far, far more than we have. But we haven't. It's been a lost decade.
Nothing important has really changed. For the jobless nothing has changed. Vancouver — the great city of Vancouver — is the worst-off major city in the country under this administration. I had a look at the Vancouver Sun last Friday. How many jobs are there in the want ads on a Friday in the Sun? The answer is: two and a half pages, and you've got to take out the horoscope and the gardening column. I went and had a look at the Toronto Star for the same Friday last week. Look at the bundle. It looks like the full Vancouver Sun: 23 pages of jobs in Toronto — and good jobs, decent jobs. You look at the jobs in the Vancouver Sun. They're caretakers in apartments, part-time gas jockeys in gas stations — service jobs, low-paying jobs. That's the kind of economy you people are building in this province.
It's not just me saying it. The latest report from the B.C. Central Credit Union,"Economic Analysis, March 1987," sums it all up. What do they say? They say that residents of British Columbia are worse off in the mid-80s than they were in the mid-70s. When have we been able to say that in the modem era in this province? Only as a result of the Bill Bennett decade can we say that. Only in the thirties was that the case before. Every new generation could think about a better life and a better standard of living for their children — until you people had the last decade. It's confirmed by the studies of B. C. Central. We're worse off now than we were in the seventies. It's been a lost decade.
[Mrs. Gran in the chair.]
Young people are almost the lost generation in terms of the 25 percent of people under 25 who don't have work in this province. Why? What's been the pattern? B.C. Central Credit Union economists say: "Why, of course, it's consistent high unemployment." Sure, that's a serious problem — not addressed yet by this administration. There are new low paying service jobs — that's the pattern in new jobs — and low-wage settlements, and a loss of the good-paying jobs. What's the pattern in good-paying jobs lost in this province? This is again from B. C. Central's economist. Since'79 we've lost, under this administration,5,583 resource sector jobs, 27,083 manufacturing jobs, 7, 334 construction jobs,500 transport jobs. That's 40,500 good-paying jobs lost, replaced by lower-paying jobs essentially in the service industry. That's the pattern under this administration.
They point to the fact that if you spend money on education, generally people get better jobs. It's not a profound idea but it has been part of the modem world, at least in the last 40,50 years. What's the pattern in British Columbia in that kind of thing? Since 1980, minus 16 percent in spending on
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universities. The graphs are all clear: in real dollars, a constant decline in what we spend on high schools and that side of education. It's 11 percent less in secondary schools in that period since '80, and 16 percent less in the universities. We're spending less in the universities than we get from the feds. No wonder we're a poorer society now than we were in the seventies.
But the old ship Socred has a new face on the front up at the bridge. Is a new face going to turn the ship around? I wanted to think so, but the signs are not encouraging. I don't think the new man has spent one full week in Victoria since he has become Premier. Maybe somebody can correct me; maybe he has spent a full week in Victoria once, but I don't think so. He's been to Washington. He's been to Amsterdam — and we certainly read about that. He's been to California. He's been to London. He's been to West Germany. He's been to Ottawa again and again and again. He should have run for Parliament, Madam Speaker, he's gone to Ottawa so many times, thinking all of our problems can be solved elsewhere.
The problems in British Columbia are to be solved in British Columbia. With the kind of wealth we have, this economy can be turned around if you do the homework, if you stay here in Victoria and see the opportunities and seize them. Where is he off to now? He's going to California again next month, and he's going off to Asia next month as well. The travel industry is going to do well by this Premier, if nobody else; I'd like to know who his travel agent is. At the same time, the family business has been carried on at Fantasy Gardens in Richmond, so we've had the spectacle of the Premier riding Coevorden Castle on a barge down to Richmond. We've had the spectacle of the Sinterklaas film. We've had the spectacle on tape of singing in Amsterdam. At one point when he was in Europe I think the Premier even referred to this as his "dumb" job, he was enjoying the showbiz side of things so much.
I wish he was here, because I'd like to say: Mr. Premier, the job, like all jobs, is what you make it. Getting a new business underway is not easy. I've done that — yes, here on this side — in terms of building a business. In the first couple of years you really have to give your all to the job at hand to make the business work; I'm sure most people here realize that. Similarly, the first six or eight months of an administration are critical in getting things underway when you do the long-term planning. But trying to do both things, a new business and a new administration, is impossible.
I think you cheat yourself and you cheat the people of British Columbia when those two activities are underway. I think it shows in things that aren't tackled in the province. Northeast coal: this $3 billion project is ready to crash in on itself. The 57 banks are nearly ready to pull the plug. The whole question of negotiating, with the Japanese, a decent contract in maintaining volume is critical. There is no evidence whatsoever that this Premier or this administration is dealing with those problems, dealing with the Japanese and sitting at the bargaining table. The Forests ministry is decimated at the higher levels now. The RCMP is going on fishing trips with respect to the former minister. And the industry itself, in directing this ministry, just isn't happening at all.
It's not reassuring when you see will-of-the-wisp tours in Europe of meatpacking plants, and all the rest of it. It all starts taking on a slightly flakey look, this range of activities. It's all too clear that nobody's really running the shop, and that's especially clear in the Forests ministry. We were lucky in dealing with the Americans. We have achieved at least $400 million in new revenue out of that exercise, and for that I think the government can be commended in terms of dealing with the miserable problems out of the decade of Mr. Bennett when these concerns were not faced up to by that administration.
But we haven't pursued it. We haven't gone further and looked at the question of if we weren't collecting proper revenue for timber going to the United States, then I guess we are not collecting proper revenue for timber going to Asia, for timber going to Europe or timber sold in Canada. Essentially what you agreed to was the fact that stumpage was not being properly collected with respect to timber, and you had to deal with the American problem. But that is only part of the timber we harvest in British Columbia.
So we still face those problems, and they are pretty real, Madam Speaker. But I would extend it into another area that I would like to look at specifically right now, again involving the forest sector, and that is this whole business of scaling and measuring Crown timber. It is very clear that you have admitted that we weren't getting proper revenue in terms of our public timber, and we aren't, haven't been, haven't done for decades under this administration. Currently it is about minus $200 million that we get for our trees in British Columbia. It costs us about $350 million plus plus plus to run the Forest Service and do reforestation, and our revenues are $100 million, $150 million. It leaves a net of minus $200 million. No wonder the Americans were furious at us, and we're ready to bring in the tariff. But even when it comes to measuring the volume of timber, we have not done that adequately or properly, Madam Speaker.
The timber we sell to the majors, in this regard particularly with respect to B.C. Forest Products and Shoal Island; I think some review is necessary at this time. Some of you may recall the Shoal Island story. I am sure the Attorney-General (Hon. B.R. Smith) does because the Attorney-General is still the same Attorney-General who stonewalled the issue all along and frustrated the former ombudsman with respect to his research in this area. The former ombudsman, Dr. Friedmann, certainly remembers it. He was fired, I suggest, primarily because of the report on Shoal Island. The charges were laid by logging contractors that there was a consistent under-scaling at Shoal Island, a short measure. Shoal Island is near Crofton. It is a BCFP dry land log sort.
The charges were from Traer and Mahood and other logging contractors, and the member for Dewdney, I am sure, is concerned about the plight of logging contractors that face improper or inadequate scaling problems. Mr. Mahood has a long and fine history in this province. He has been president of the Truck Loggers' Association, if my memory serves me right, and he was a forester with H.R. MacMillan in the MacMillan company at an earlier stage.
These people were convinced that they were being short measured at Shoal Island, so they hired their own check scaler to have a look at what was happening, and B.C. Forest Products didn't know that the check scaler was going in. They found consistent short measure varying from 10 percent to 12 percent when that was done, so they submitted a damage claim in November 1972 to the Ministry of Forests.
A deputy minister, Mr. Apsey....
AN HON. MEMBER:'In 1972?
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MR. WILLIAMS: No, I'm sorry, in 1982. We didn't have these problems in 1972, I assure you, because the revenues between 1972 and 1975 were greater than at any other time, despite inflation.
Mr. Apsey was the deputy minister for a decade under Mr. Waterland, who has gone on to greener pastures. Mr. Apsey was COFI's man. He was their economist previously. He left, he became the deputy minister and a decade later went home again. But he turned them down. Out of frustration, the contractors who had been cheated, as had been the Crown, went to the ombudsman, and Mr. Friedmann viewed the problem seriously and carefully. He brought in scalers and legal experts and looked at this and concluded after some studies that the contractors and the Crown had indeed been cheated on a consistent basis at Shoal Island. He argued for reassessment under section 87 of the Forest Act, and that was never done.
After Mr. Apsey derailed him, the ombudsman then dealt with the Attorney-General, and then he dealt with the Premier, and he was ignored. He was ignored on a clear issue of cheating the Crown of its rightful income from public timber, as were the contractors. Shoal Island was one of five major dry land sorts on the coast at the time, and BCFP was the main innovator in terms of this kind of exercise. It was a major issue and it was ignored by the government.
The ombudsman as a result reported to the Legislature because nobody was listening in government. The A-G continued to smokescreen and frustrate the situation. The district forester for Vancouver was asked to review it. He turned out a whitewash report. I said at the time it was a whitewash report. He was the guy who was responsible in the first place, so he had to carry out an investigation of himself and his own responsibilities. The contractors then had no choice but to go to court, Madam Speaker. That's a very costly business in our society, particularly for people like this and in complex cases like this.
But the handwriting was on the wall for the Forests ministry players. What happened to the various Forests ministry players involved in this exercise in terms of inadequate measure and scaling? Mr. Whittaker, superintendent of scaling, took early retirement once this thing headed for the courts; Mr. Grant, the author of the whitewash report responsible for the Vancouver district, took early retirement as soon as the issue went before the courts; Mr. Al MacPherson, the ADM responsible, took early retirement as soon as the matter went before the courts; and Mr. Apsey is back at COFI where he belongs.
So it went to court. But we didn't get a full-blown court case, where we should have been able to have these public servants and Mr. Apsey cross-examined. Instead they had what they now call a pretrial conference, chaired by Chief Justice Allan McEachern. The chief justice produced a report which included his opinion of the likely outcome of the case, should it come before the full court. That report is now complete, Madam Speaker, but it has not been made public.
What did the chief justice conclude? He concluded that Dr. Friedmann, the ombudsman, was correct. He concluded that there had indeed been a consistent under-scale at Shoal Island. He concluded that the ombudsman's numbers were correct; he concluded that contractors should be compensated; he concluded that the Crown had been cheated, because it was our timber. That meant millions in compensation for the contractors. It's now, clear that there was cheating and under-measure on a grand scale at Shoal Island. Who knows how many contractors in this province have been cheated in a similar manner? Who knows how many millions the Crown has been cheated of, in terms of proper measure for public timber, in this past decade? Because under Mr. Apsey and under Mr. Waterland, they had what they called " sympathetic administration." In other words, you don't have to abide by the rules under sympathetic administration. You can mess around, you can leave debris, you can carry on outside administrative rules and statutes. That's what was going on, for five years at least, under those two senior people, Mr. Waterland and Mr. Apsey.
Those contractors were never helped by the Attorney-General of this province; indeed, it was just the opposite. These citizens were frustrated, stonewalled and harassed, in fact, by the Attorney-General's office, again and again. The Attorney-General should have been the very first person to want the truth; he was not. This is a major scandal, Madam Speaker, and it only saw the light of day because one or two contractors were tough enough and had the resources to follow it through. Mr. Mahood, one of the contractors, fortunately had the guts and the bucks to follow through. He's got some compensation now, at long last, for the consistent 12 percent shortfall that he and the Crown suffered at Shoal Island.
HON. MR. VEITCH: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, I am unsure as to whether or not the hon. member is casting aspersions against the hon. member of this House who happens to occupy the seat of Attorney-General. If he is, I would ask him to withdraw any suggestion that the Attorney-General (Hon. B.R. Smith) was not truthful in any way. If that is the case, I would ask, for the decorum of this House and for proper procedure, that that be withdrawn.
MR. WILLIAMS: I did not suggest, Madam Speaker, that the Attorney-General was untruthful, and I would certainly withdraw any statement of that nature. I think it's clear from what I said.
That under-measure was suffered for three and a half years at Shoal Island. There was only one check-scale by this administration in half a dozen years at Shoal Island — only one. The head man for scaling said he'd only been there once, and it was at a cocktail party for the opening of the facility. That's all, and that's in the examination for discovery.
You've got to be strong and have a lot of money if you want to deal with the captains of the forest industry who now monopolize our public timberlands. Fortunately, this contractor or a couple of contractors did, and they had to take on the might of government, if you will, and they had to take on the might of these major corporations that have monopolized our forests in recent years. The players — well, the Forest Service man took early retirement; the ombudsman is not in his job any more, because he was doing it too well; Mr. Mahood, I suggest, given the nature of this forest industry and the monopoly control that the giant corporations have, faces blacklisting within the industry, in terms of a solid future in the industry, because he was determined that he should be dealt with thoroughly and that he should get proper measure with respect to his work. What a reasonable idea in a free society. I suggest that's not going to be the pattern at all.
But what about you and me — the rest of us in British Columbia? We're the owners of the trees. If he was cheated for short measure, and now the highest judge in this province
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says 12 percent shortfall consistently for three and one-half years.... If these contractors were cheated, then we were cheated as well. Has anybody ever sent B.C. Forest Products a bill? Is the Attorney-General going to send them a bill for all that cheating, with interest on top of it? Let's wait and see. We'll try to find out in question period maybe tomorrow or the next day. Is the Minister of Forests going to send them a bill? The Chief Justice has now said there was a consistent pattern of under-measure at Shoal Island, and millions have now been paid to those contractors who were cheated. Millions have been paid to the contractors; similarly, millions should be paid to the Crown, Madam Speaker.
We've had this period of so-called sympathetic administration for five or six years. We've paid a very high price for it indeed. A small measure of it is this exercise at Shoal Island that involved a few contractors and B.C. Forests Products. The new minister, the member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf), carried out a study, a Ministry of Forests review with respect to policy questions. It was just released in the last couple of months. What was suggested there? They suggested a crew system — not a scaling system, but count the trees in the forest in the future. Maybe that's the way we should do it. It seems to me it's a lot easier to count the trees when they come in on a truck or when they're towed into the harbour — certainly very easy to count them when they come in on a truck — compared to counting the trees out in the forest. That's the suggestion, and that strikes me as another step backward in terms of dealing with the real problems and beginning to get what this province should get out of its natural resources.
You know, because things are so desperate for so many people out there — the unemployed and the people on welfare in this society in British Columbia — there's a feeling among all too many that we are a poor province. With our unemployment level, you would think we were like Newfoundland or New Brunswick or someplace like that, but we are not. We are a province with a great city, the major city of the province; we're a province with natural resources that exceed anything that the people of Newfoundland or New Brunswick ever dreamed of. Yet here we are. It takes incredible skill to mismanage a province as abundant and wealthy as British Columbia, but this government has that skill.
I would just like to conclude by saying that we are not a poor province; we are simply a poorly managed province. That's what has to be changed, and you're not going to achieve it by traipsing off to Asia, by going to California, or any of these other trips the Premier is enjoying these days. The job is to be done right here at home. We need jobs made in British Columbia, by the people of British Columbia, for the people of British Columbia. Let's get on with it.
MR. SERWA: Madam Speaker, fellow members of the Legislature of British Columbia, ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed an honour for me to be here with you today and to have a chance, for the very first time, to speak to this distinguished House. I am proud to be here as one of the members with the privilege of representing the constituency of Okanagan South. It is with pride, with anticipation and with hope that I join our strong Social Credit team in the government of this province. I am committed to participating in the legislative process with dedication, diligence and integrity. I believe that all of us are here today because we really are determined to find better ways to meet the challenges which all the people of our province must face. Those of us who are new to this
Legislature bring new ideas and new energy to the forum. Others of us here bring the invaluable strength and experience which previous years in the Legislature have granted, but in essence we are all here because we believe in democracy. I believe we can make extraordinary things happen for British Columbia.
I wish to congratulate the hon. member for West Vancouver-Howe Sound (Hon. Mr. Reynolds) on his appointment as Speaker of the House, and the first member for Dewdney (Mr. Pelton) on being chosen to be Deputy Speaker, and the first member for Langley (Mrs. Gran), chosen to be assistant Deputy Speaker. I am certain that their abilities as moderators will enable the proceedings of this House to be executed effectively
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate Premier Vander Zalm on his strong leadership and his commitment to a new style of government that has given new hope and confidence to all British Columbians. The people of this province have shown that they support the Social Credit government's objectives by giving us a strong majority in this House. I am proud to be a part of this team and a part of this new leadership.
My constituency, Okanagan South, is a good constituency, and I believe a good constituency deserves strong representation. I am honoured and pleased to share the representation of our constituency with the second member for Okanagan South (Mr. Chalmers). I would also like to thank him for his assistance and tireless efforts throughout the campaign. I am determined to work with him and with all of my colleagues to the very best of my abilities.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family and my campaign workers for their devotion, energy and spirit.
I would like to extend my gratitude and respect to former premier Bill Bennett, my MLA predecessor. Our region is very fortunate in having been very ably served by two generations of Bennetts — by the founder of our Social Credit Party of British Columbia and former premier, W.A.C. Bennett, from 1952 to 1972; and by former MLA and premier Bill Bennett from 1975 to 1986. We were indeed well blessed to have had the Premier representing our constituency for 34 years. On behalf of my constituents, I would like to express my deepest thanks for the fine and honourable service which these men provided to our constituency of Okanagan South for 45 years, and for their relentless work in the shaping of our beautiful province.
Most of all, I would like to thank the constituents of Okanagan South. They have given me their confidence, and in exchange I pledge to work hard on their behalf I believe that the constituency of Okanagan South is the finest area in Canada in which to live. Its climate, charm, scenic beauty and especially its people are outstanding. I have lived in the Okanagan for over 40 years, and I believe that I know its strengths, but more importantly I know its potential. While my constituency covers a relatively small area, it includes a wide variety of assets, interests and concerns. We have a diversified economy, with agriculture, mining, forestry, secondary manufacturing, trade, tourism and service industries being the main employers. Our outstanding climate, scenic beauty, excellent social service, cultural activities and recreational opportunities are attracting many new residents. These include many people from throughout Canada, the United States and Europe who are coming here to spend their retired
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years. This is reflected in residential growth. We foresee a strong future in our region if we can continue to promote and preserve our natural assets while enhancing the quality of life for our citizens.
We also know that a positive future cannot just happen. We need to work hard to ensure long-term success and strength. I see the issues facing Okanagan South as being very similar to the issues facing all regions of our province.. economic growth, job creation and sound resource management. We must face and conquer these challenges.
We in the constituency of Okanagan South are already witnessing a renewed optimism in the future of our province. Light manufacturing is rapidly expanding in the Okanagan, and this sector must be encouraged to expand even more. Between 1984 and 1985, business incorporations increased 19 percent in Kelowna, almost twice the provincial average of 10. 9 percent. The increase in the rate of dwelling starts in Kelowna was 35.2 percent in 1985 over 1984, more than three times the provincial average of 11. I percent.
Clearly, more and more British Columbians are finding that Okanagan South is a great place to live. Our recreational facilities are outstanding. We are a four-seasons playground. I have great respect for our environment, and I am committed to preserving the quality of our environment, particularly our parks, and to encouraging prudence in the use of our resources. We are proud to have 31 of the most scenic provincial parks in British Columbia. People who live in the Okanagan cherish their lakes and have a great respect for the quality of water which we have in our constituency.
The Okanagan is an environmentally sensitive area, and we are committed to preserving the Okanagan Basin as an attractive and healthy location for recreation, tourism and residential living. I am very pleased that our government is working with Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and other Okanagan communities to help develop advanced waste-treatment facilities in order to prevent water quality deterioration. We are proud of our clean beaches and enjoy all kinds of water related activities such as sailing, boating and water-skiing.
Our main lake offers excellent fishing for Kokanee, Kamloops trout and ling cod. Hunting is also a popular activity. We have a large variety of game, including black and grizzly bear, white-tail and mule deer, moose, goat, elk, cougar and California bighorn sheep. Migratory and upland game birds abound. There are exciting hiking trails, campsites, picnic sites and out-of-the-way places to explore. The wide range of flora and fauna provide a virtual Valhalla for the naturalist.
Big White ski area is an excellent destination resort, offering some of the finest skiing in the world. Last Mountain offers enjoyable skiing for the entire family. As well, our area offers six excellent golf courses, the finest curling rink in western Canada and numerous indoor and outdoor recreational facilities. We have resorts which house up to 1, 200 people for the convention trade.
To really appreciate the beauty of our spring, come to the Okanagan when the fruit trees are in bloom, or come during the summer and fall and enjoy the bounty of cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, prunes, apples and grapes. Okanagan South wineries offer tours and an opportunity for visitors to sample the excellent products of a rich soil and mild climate. A good time to come to sample wines is during the Okanagan Wine Festival in October.
Okanagan South is able to offer cultural events year-round. As part of our tourism package we invite everyone to come and share in their enjoyment. I believe that cultural events are a most welcome attraction to tourists.
Madam Speaker, our constituency offers excellent cultural services and facilities. The Kelowna and District Arts Council serves as the umbrella organization for almost 200 individual and group members who foster interest and pride in the cultural heritage of our community.
The people of Okanagan South support the performing arts. The professional Sunshine Theatre, the Kiwanis Music Festival Society, the Kelowna International Dancers and the Okanagan Symphony are only a few of the organizations that delight tourists and residents alike. The art gallery, the Centennial Museum and the historic Father Pandosy Mission are also points of interest.
The eighty-first annual Kelowna International Regatta will be celebrated in our city July 23 to July 26. This is the province's outstanding water show, and it has become an exciting event for tourists and residents alike. West Side Days in Westbank, Rutland's May Days and Kelowna's Snowfest are fun-filled community events.
These attractions, combined with exciting scenery and favourable climate, are responsible for the success of tourism in the Okanagan. The Kelowna Charriber of Commerce received 26, 881 inquiries in 1986. This represented an increase of 2 percent over 1985 inquiries. Tourism presently contributes many millions of dollars annually to the economy of our area in direct and indirect benefits. Our region receives almost 13 percent of the visitors who come to British Columbia. Hotel and motel occupancy in our area is on the increase. We enjoy extending our hospitality to visitors, and are especially proud of being an excellent place for families to vacation together. We expect these positive trends to continue, and we anxiously await the construction of the Okanagan connector to help bring even greater numbers of tourists. The connector will also encourage and assist in the development of secondary manufacturing in our area.
Madam Speaker, Okanagan South is a strong, diverse constituency which values its resources and its people. Over the years I have had the pleasure and the opportunity of meeting many of these people. I have been and continue to be very involved in community affairs. I have had many years of experience in business and economic development. I understand that the goals of economic growth, economic stability and the creation of jobs are important to all British Columbians.
I also appreciate that in order to do this we must realize our full economic potential. This means making the most of our environment and the natural assets with which British Columbia is so richly endowed. Our lands and our trees must be carefully managed in order to provide the greatest number of benefits to the most people now and in the long term.
For several years now, I have had the opportunity to farm hay, grain and cattle. I have found farming to be an enterprise requiring knowledge, dedication, perseverance and a fair bit of hard work. Agriculture provides many primary and secondary jobs in my constituency. The Okanagan's tree-fruit industry is experiencing a significant degree of instability. Comprehensive measures must be taken to help our farm community.
The Speech from the Throne stressed that our government will work with the private sector to turn more of our raw agricultural resources into marketable finished and packaged products. It also mentioned that we are going to encourage growth in the agricultural, food and beverage industries by
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helping them capitalize on domestic and foreign market opportunities. I firmly believe that we must emphasize quality of production and employ aggressive, innovative marketing techniques. Agriculture has a great future, and I intend to work with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (Hon. Mr. Savage) to address the problems faced by our farm industry.
Our forest industry also needs support. In Okanagan South, we welcome Premier Vander Zalm's pledge to increase silviculture initiatives. Logging and sawmilling have played a strong role in our region. From the primitive, steam powered sawmill set up in the early 1900s in Okanagan Mission to the state-of-the-art, computer-controlled facilities that produce lumber and plywood for world markets, forestry continues to fuel our local economy. Be it as a labourer, a businessman, a farmer, a community worker, I have always enjoyed the satisfaction that comes from hard work and personal achievement.
I am ready and willing to direct my ideas and my energies to this newest challenge, that of being a member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, so that I can act effectively and responsibly on behalf of my constituents. I hope and expect to accomplish much during my tenure as a member of this House. In this respect, I would like to propose some specific initiatives for Okanagan South which I feel will benefit my region.
Firstly, I would like to see health care services expanded in our area. Kelowna General Hospital is playing an increasing role as a regional referral hospital. Last August, our government recognized this role by allocating $2.6 million for an additional 22 acute-care beds, bringing the hospital's capacity to 303 beds. The high calibre of medical personnel who work at Kelowna General is one of the reasons why Kelowna is becoming a regional referral hospital. The new CAT scanner and the renal dialysis unit which were added last year are also enabling the hospital to better serve patients from throughout the interior.
Even with the addition of new beds, I believe that Kelowna General Hospital is short of both acute- and extendedcare beds by Ministry of Health standards. The occupancy rate averages 97 percent; it has gone as high as 105 percent. The waiting-list for surgery is very long. Until new facilities are developed, the situation could become critical in the very near future. I will work hard to see the hospital's budget increased to enable it to increase its role as a regional referral centre and to provide valuable services which are presently lacking in the Okanagan: a high-tech diagnostic and treatment centre, cancer clinic and a facility to offer cardiac surgery. Our population is growing, and we must ensure that adequate facilities are planned and provided for. It is especially crucial that Kelowna be able to provide proper and advanced medical facilities, in light of our growing number of senior residents in the region. Over 20 percent of our population is 60 years of age or older, and the retirement industry is becoming a very positive segment of our economy.
This brings me to my second goal. I have already mentioned that retirement is a good industry, and I would like to see Kelowna recognized as a major retirement centre for Canada. We have good services and we will work hard to make them better. We want our seniors to enjoy the highest possible level of independence and dignity so that they can spend their retirement years in comfort and in security.
Homemaker services, home nursing care and innovative housing will assist in seniors' self-reliance.
Finally, I come to my third goal: that of improving the accessibility and quality of education in our province. As was stated so eloquently in the throne speech, education is the bedrock on which we must build our new economy I am pleased and proud that a Social Credit government will introduce a range of initiatives throughout British Columbia's educational system. The royal commission on education which the Premier announced during the throne speech will certainly play an invaluable role in helping us to investigate, evaluate and further strengthen our present educational system. The new scholarship credit plan will provide both the incentive for academic excellence in our province's secondary institutions and the means by which attendance at our colleges and universities can increase while preserving high standards. In addition, post-secondary funding will be increased so that these institutions, which are so important in shaping our people for a bright future, can continue their crucial work.
In light of these new initiatives, we can expect enrolments in our colleges and universities to increase steadily in the future. Now seems to be a better time than ever for our government to begin planning for the expansion of our postsecondary institutions. A major aspect of any proposed expansion should be, I believe, the installation of a university in the Okanagan region. Okanagan College, Kelowna campus, now offers a wide variety of programs and attracts students from across the southern interior, but presently the college does not grant degrees, and students are forced to leave Okanagan College if they wish to continue their education. This means incurring added expense and personal hardship.
The status of Okanagan College, Kelowna campus, needs to be upgraded. The two mainland universities and the University of Victoria have fine facilities, but it seems both sensible and feasible to begin the process of creating a fourth university to serve the southern interior. It is time to decentralize post-secondary education and to make it more accessible to citizens outside the lower mainland. Okanagan College, Kelowna campus, should be given degree-granting status and gradually be supported and encouraged to evolve as a full-fledged university in its own right.
The university could offer degrees in the arts and sciences and fine arts. The Macdonald report of 1962 on higher education in British Columbia stated: "The dearth of educational opportunity in the interior of the province means that an important stimulus is missing, which should be attracting all the ablest students to college or university." Almost 16 years later the issue is still before us. Perhaps now is the appropriate time to address it.
Madam Speaker, another issue in the area of education which I feel must urgently be addressed is the provision of better and more comprehensive opportunities for the learning-disabled persons of our province. Our government is presently working within the school system to ensure a fair and adequate education for these children, but much can and must still be done to enable learning-disabled persons to succeed in all their future endeavours. The field of learning disabilities is admittedly a large and complex one, not an easy one to tackle by any means. There are different degrees of learning disabilities, and thus there are requirements for a range of different remedial strategies.
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Social justice and equality of treatment, good educational and health care systems and steady work: these are the hallmarks of a fair society. These are the goals which British Columbians share, and this is the essence of good government.
As Premier Vander Zalm has said, we must uphold the principle of equal opportunity for all and special privileges for none. Madam Speaker, as a member of one of the many ethnic groups who comprise this beautiful province, I would like to mention how proud I am to be in a country and a province that actively promotes multiculturalism. The citizens of this province are of various religious, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds. The richness of culture that each and every ethnic group has contributed to this province has immensely added to the quality of our lives and helped make this province a very special place in which to live.
British Columbia is a great land of opportunity. The spirit of entrepreneurship and free enterprise must be encouraged in all of our people. Our young citizens must be exposed to this spirit in their homes, their schools and in the workplace. Recognition has been given to the fact that small business will be the sector which will create the greatest number of jobs. Government must lead the way by providing the climate whereby the private sector and its entrepreneurs build on our strengths, namely our natural resources and our people.
We want to encourage more private ventures such as Western Star Trucks to invest in British Columbia. This company employs 500 direct employees, has produced 30,000 trucks since it opened and spends over $62 million annually in British Columbia. Western Star is an outstanding corporate citizen and an excellent example of entrepreneurship that is 100 percent Canadian. A group of young people in Kelowna are working together with space age technology. Northern Airborne Technology is a firm that has an exciting future, filled with opportunities and vision, and secured by the will to work hard to achieve a goal.
The best in education is important. We have an enviable standard of facilities and educators in British Columbia. Our public and private school systems, our vocational schools, technical institutes and colleges and universities produce outstanding graduates. Those graduates, armed with the spirit of entrepreneurship, are the key to the long-term future of British Columbia. It is the mandate of government and the responsibility of each and every member of the Legislative Assembly to address all of the elements that formulate the policies of good government. Good government requires all issues to be considered as they relate to one another, and the interrelationship of social and economic elements must be recognized.
This is exactly what the Premier has done in treating a very serious problem, that of the high unemployment levels in British Columbia. Unemployment is not a single issue; rather it is webbed with many other concerns. I am pleased that job creation will be examined by committees on economic development, transportation and municipal affairs, since employment is inextricably linked with economic recovery and the growth of business and trade in our province.
I would like to say a word about two issues: uranium mining and the sale of West Kootenay Power and Light. I believe the issue of lifting the uranium moratorium requires a spirit of cooperation. We must continue to determine the facts surrounding uranium mining, to discuss them in an open and frank manner, to promote public education and ultimately to achieve a result that will be acceptable and of benefit to the people of Okanagan South and all British Columbia. The Premier has assured me that this government is a big government, and a big government is always ready to take a second look and review government policies. I have a number of ideas on the issue and will continue to work with my colleagues to raise the awareness and understanding of uranium mining, both in this Legislature and in the public, through education.
Another topic that I must address on behalf of my constituents is the proposed sale of the West Kootenay Power and Light Co. to UtiliCorp United Inc., a United States-based company. The best opportunity for the economic future of the southern interior and the Kootenays, in the opinion of many of my constituents, lies in West Kootenay Power being a private company with widely held public shares. As a Canadian, and with the realization that the concerns of the new board of directors will be UtiliCorp's, I feel that it would be in the very best interests of the region if ownership could be accommodated by the consumers.
It is clear that British Columbians want our Social Credit team in government. We have a government dedicated to making British Columbia realize its full potential for success and prosperity and to helping each and every British Columbian achieve the best possible quality of life. We understand that the only way to do this is to encourage and reward personal initiative and financial independence wherever possible, and when and where citizens need special assistance we are prepared and equipped to provide help through soundly managed programs that ensure that all British Columbians will get the best value for their tax dollars.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to reaffirm to my constituents my pledge to do the utmost to provide Okanagan South with the best possible representation here in the Legislature. I thank them again for giving me their support and their trust, Mr. Premier, thank you for the vision, strength and strong leadership which you are constantly providing to ensure that our Social Credit government remains a government dedicated to the best interests of all British Columbians, now and for the future.
MR. BLENCOE: Mr. Speaker, before we adjourn the House this afternoon, I would like, on behalf of my colleague the first member for Victoria, to welcome all the MLAs elected, new, veterans, used — some more used than others perhaps — to Victoria. I know for many of you it may be the first time you've had the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in this community, but we certainly wish you a happy time in Victoria and hope you will enjoy this beautiful city until the next election. If any member of this House has any trouble with government policy, the first member and the second member for Victoria run a community office down on Blanshard Street and we will be glad to help you with any kind of problem you may have with government. I'll talk to the mayor.
So, Mr. Speaker, in that tone of conviviality, I move adjournment of this debate until the next sitting of the House.
Hon. Mr. Veitch moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5:44 p.m.