1987 Legislative Session: 1st Session, 34th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 1987
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Insurance (Captive Company) Act (Bill 21). Hon. Mr. Couvelier
Introduction and first reading –– 515
Lunch program in schools. Mr. Cashore –– 515
Medication cards for seniors. Ms. A. Hagen –– 516
Pharmacy dispensing fees. Ms. A. Hagen –– 517
Protest on Legislature lawn. Mr. Sihota –– 517
Ministry of Highways subcontractors. Hon. Mr. Michael replies to question –– 517
Tabling Documents –– 518
Industrial Relations Reform Act, 1987 (Bill 19). Second reading
On the amendment
Mr. Lovick –– 518
Mr. Vant –– 527
Ms. A. Hagen –– 530
Mr. Chalmers –– 532
Mr. Jones –– 534
Hon. Mr. Parker –– 537
The House met at 2:08 p.m.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: As one who was born in Holland, and like many other Canadians who became citizens by choice, I still of course take great pride in my heritage and roots. Therefore it gives me extreme pleasure today to introduce to the House His Excellency Jan Breman, Ambassador of the Netherlands, and Mrs. Breman, and also Mr. Theo van den Muijsenberg, consul-general of the Netherlands from Vancouver. I would ask the House to welcome them.
Also visiting in the House today, from the constituency of Surrey-Newton, are a long-time friend and good supporter, Mrs. Darlene Thornhill, and her grandson, Michael Spiglic, who is here to see the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and also to have a short visit after.
MR. CLARK: Mr. Speaker, on the floor of the House today we have a special visitor, my predecessor, a former dean of this Legislature, Alex Macdonald. I'd like the House to wish him a warm welcome.
HON. MR. DAVIS: In the gallery today we have Ian Bailey, Richard McRae, Don McKay and Bob Wiens, three fantastic North Vancouver–Seymour constituents. Would the House please make them welcome.
MR. KEMPF: Somewhere in the galleries this afternoon is a long-time friend of mine, another old logger from Omineca, Mr. Archie Strimbold. Accompanying Archie this afternoon is Mr. Cyril Shelford. I'd ask the House to make them both welcome.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: On behalf of the government benches, may I associate myself with the comments from the second member for Vancouver East in welcoming our beloved and dear friend Alex Macdonald.
MR. ROSE: Mr. Speaker, I take pleasure in welcoming to the Legislature Alderman Mike Farnworth of Port Coquitlam, a very diligent and enlightened alderman who works very hard for his citizens and for me.
MR. PELTON: On your behalf, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the House to welcome Mr. Richard Strachan of West Vancouver and his son Alex Strachan, who is a political science student at Simon Fraser University.
MS. EDWARDS: I would like to welcome two members from Kootenay riding, from the Femie District Teachers' Association: the president, Pat Robertson, and a member of the executive, Cliff Paluck, who is also the president of the Elk Valley Health and Safety Protection Association. I hope the House will join me in making them welcome.
MR. CASHORE: In the precincts today and in the Speaker's gallery are 18 members of the outreach school, which is an alternative school for native Indian young people, operated by the Vancouver School Board. Some of these young people were here a few weeks ago, but they have returned today. This morning they presented me with a wall hanging made in the tradition of a button blanket, indicating that this ancient craft is alive and well among these young people. I very deeply appreciate this presentation, and ask all of you to join me in making them feel welcome here in our vicinity today.
MR. SIHOTA: I'd like to ask the members of the Legislature to join me in welcoming in the gallery today my constituency assistant, a resident of my riding, Sheila McFarlane.
MR. REE: Today I'd like to ask the House to welcome to Victoria and to this chamber a good friend of mine, a good supporter from North Vancouver-Capilano, and one of the renowned barristers and solicitors of the city of Vancouver. Would the House please welcome Robert MacKay of the firm MacKay and Dwor.
MR. GABELMANN: I'd like the House to welcome a good friend of mine, Mr. Butch Leslie.
MR. LONG: I would like the House to welcome two distinguished people from my riding: Mayor Diane Strom of Gibsons and Mayor Bud Koch from Sechelt.
Introduction of Bills
INSURANCE (CAPTIVE COMPANY) ACT
Hon. Mr. Couvelier presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Insurance (Captive Company) Act.
HON. MR. COUVELIER: This bill, the first of its kind in Canada, will have the effect of allowing the incorporation of private captive insurance companies, which will, we believe, add to the financial community's infrastructure in the province. It is a facility; captive insurance companies are organizations which have traditionally been licensed offshore in tax-free havens elsewhere in the world. By virtue of recent national government taxation changes, the tax incentive through location in offshore shelters is no longer as paramount as it used to be. As a consequence, it is possible for British Columbia to introduce this act to allow the incorporation of these facilities, without at the same time imposing any burden on the taxpayer in a general sense.
I'm very pleased to offer this bill for the House's consideration.
Bill 21 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
LUNCH PROGRAM IN SCHOOLS
MR. CASHORE: My question is for the Minister of Social Services and Housing (Hon. Mr. Richmond). On Monday the minister said, during debate on his estimates, that the problem of hungry children is restricted to schools in east Vancouver and does not appear to be surfacing
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elsewhere. Will the minister table the data on which he bases that assertion?
HON. MR. RICHMOND: I base that statement on the fact that the only cases that have come to the attention of my ministry are from that area of the province. To date we haven't had, to my knowledge, any complaints of that problem surfacing elsewhere. I hasten to add that we have been on top of the problem for several days now, and the ministry is monitoring it and reporting to me on a daily basis.
MR. CASHORE: Thank you for that answer. This supplementary is to the Premier. We have been doing some checking, and our checking indicates that the problem is endemic provincewide. Principals in Vancouver Centre, Surrey-Guildford-Whalley and Esquimalt–Port Renfrew and in Port Moody assure us that hundreds of children are hungry in our schools. Eighty thousand children in B.C. are part of families receiving social assistance. Will the Premier promise to include in his investigation of this matter a comprehensive review of how many B.C. children are in fact going without breakfasts and lunches on a provincewide basis?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the member would like to provide this information to me in writing, and I will have it then for the record. Also, if there are complaints from principals at various schools, certainly we would appreciate hearing from them. I think perhaps it is incumbent on them to make this information known to the nearest office of our Ministry of Social Services, because obviously we have concerned, caring and able social workers who would very quickly attend to these matters. If in fact we see in an area that there is an excessive amount of such, or that it's chronically so, then obviously that office would report it to the ministry as well, and the ministry would similarly attend to the matter.
MR. CASHORE: Supplementary. I'm sure that we also have caring and able principals who are fulfilling their responsibilities thoroughly throughout the province. The Premier told the media yesterday that this is not a problem of inadequate welfare rates, but that there may be an alcoholic problem involved. Why has the Premier chosen to impugn in this way the reputation of the thousands and thousands of loving parents who are struggling hard to feed their children?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Well, I think how governments provide for people in need is definitely not only a reflection on government; it's also a reflection on the people. I think that to suggest that all of this is somehow the fault of inadequate welfare, or that somehow we all share a part of t this, is not totally accurate. There are other reasons, as the principal I spoke to pointed out, and as I think most knowledgeable people involved with such matters would similarly confirm. There are social problems. Oftentimes it's other than just a lack of money, and obviously this is where our very good offices and social workers can fulfill an important function by not waiting for some proposals such as we've seen here, which would then in turn be considered by government and may lead to some programs.
I think it's incumbent on all of us — the members, the principals, the social workers — to immediately follow through on such situations and attend to those individual circumstances. To simply give a blanket reason of inadequate welfare being the cause of it all is not accurate. I don't think it's fair to suggest that. It may be that such situations exist for a variety of reasons, not only in British Columbia but elsewhere in Canada, in the U.S.A. and in other countries throughout the world. We often see these sorts of problems, and they are there for a variety of reasons. I am sure....
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: We can program all things to death. But certainly this needs to be looked at, and it's being looked at very carefully by the ministry. I am pleased that we're getting such good cooperation from principals, from social workers and from the members across the way as well as the members on this side.
MR. ROSE: The Premier has suggested that because the problem is widespread there is perhaps no solution to it, and that maybe we might....
AN HON. MEMBER: He didn't.
MR. ROSE: Well, that's what he implied to me. I wonder if the minister is aware of such things as the Head Start program in the United States, a positive response to the problem of poverty. Has he ever considered that one of the ways you can solve some of the problems of poverty is to throw some money at it? Has he considered a food stamp program or a Head Start program or a school nutrition program?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: I did not confirm in any way that there is an epidemic, that we have a massive problem across the province. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't make such a statement unless I was absolutely sure of it. I wouldn't even suggest there was that sort of problem unless I was absolutely sure. To create that impression for those who are visiting, and for those who follow the debates in the legislative chambers.... I think it is irresponsible to create the impression that in this wonderful province we have this massive problem without knowing whether in fact it exists. To suggest, as is being suggested across the floor now, that there are hundreds and hundreds of cases, and not being able to document such or the reason and without having the information from our Ministry of Social Services or the offices throughout the province, I think, is irresponsible.
I'm aware of other programs. I'm aware that programs do exist in different places, some perhaps more effective than others. Definitely the whole of it is being looked at by the ministry and if they perceive there to be a serious problem hat can't be addressed from the local offices, then the minister will report back to government.
MEDICATION CARDS FOR SENIORS
MS. A. HAGEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is about poverty and seniors. What instructions has the Premier given to his Minister of Social Services and Housing and the Minister of Health regarding "safe" cards — cards to ensure that no senior citizens go without the medication that they require for their essential health care?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, we in this great province of British Columbia are very fortunate to have
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one of the best health care programs anywhere in the world. Not only do we have one of the best health care programs anywhere in the world, but our people are also very fortunate to have perhaps one of the best pharmacare programs in existence anywhere in North America and possibly a model for places throughout the world.
All programs, regardless of how well they operate or of how proud we are or what services they provide to our people, obviously need to be reviewed from time to time. The recent review that took place with respect to the Pharmacare program has no doubt made the program more responsible and accountable to all people in British Columbia and at the same time has provided the necessary protection to those who are on very limited incomes in their senior years. We've provided the best of both. We've provided a greater degree of accountability and the program has become more responsible in turn. Therefore it's a much safer and more secure program, At the same time, we've provided this protection for people at the lowest income in this senior group. I think we should look at this very positively and all take great pride in the wonderful programs we provide to British Columbians.
PHARMACY DISPENSING FEES
MS. A. HAGEN: To the Minister of Social Services and Housing. Yesterday a diabetic senior, a person not on GAIN but with a limited income, was unable to pay the new Pharmacare fee at a New Westminster pharmacy. Social Services officials were contacted and were unable to help. Has the minister decided to empower his officials in his ministry offices throughout the province with the ability to assist seniors in these sorts of emergencies when they require medication essential for their life and well-being?
HON. MR. RICHMOND: Mr. Speaker, we give a great deal of autonomy to the people in the local offices in this ministry; in fact, we pride ourselves on having a very decentralized ministry. If the member would give me the name of the person involved, I will give her my pledge to look into it, and to verify that the information is correct. This ministry never turns away anybody who is truly in need. So I would appreciate it if the member would give me the name and the office that the person went to. I will personally verify the situation and give her a report back.
PROTEST ON LEGISLATURE LAWN
MR. SIHOTA: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The measure of a free and democratic society is, of course, the extent to which we allow people to protest. Will the Premier today instruct the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Veitch) to withdraw his instructions to remove the person who is fasting in front of the Legislature in protest of the government's uranium policies?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, I've watched the tents on the lawns of the parliament buildings for, I think, the last ten days to two weeks. I've been out there three times. I've spoken to the people, I've sat on the grass in front of their tent, I've listened to them, and I know that their presentations Certainly they're not only entitled to them, but also I respect them for that. They've got the message out. There comes a time, however — and I think we've been extremely reasonable — when we need to consider that British Columbians, not only in Victoria but regardless of where they live, have a respect not only for law and that which is required of people municipally as well as provincially but also for these beautiful buildings, the lawns and the gardens, which are beautifully maintained at some considerable cost to the taxpayer. They have pride in this; it represents the province to them. To them it's the government, and it's certainly very important.
It's a question of respect. It's a question of dignity. And I think British Columbians everywhere would agree that those beautiful lawns were not intended to be tent city or a campground. You know, we'll have a lot of tourists and visitors here, and frankly, I think they should not be faced with that. Nor should they be permitted to camp there, of course. So I think that I have to say, on behalf of British Columbians, that we've been very reasonable and patient. The message is out, and certainly they have had that opportunity, but now the time has come that we tell British Columbians: it is your property, it is a place of respect and a place of dignity, and we won't allow the lawns of the Parliament Buildings to be turned into a tent city.
MR. SPEAKER: Question period is over. The opposition House Leader on a point of order.
MR. ROSE: Mr. Speaker, a couple of times today I think that the questions from the opposition were brief and succinct, and the responses, frustrating the rules, tended to be rather lengthy. I think that we could do with more precise answers and fewer peregrinations on the part of our Premier. When he is asked a specific question, and he launches into some sort of foggy diatribe, it offends the rules of the House.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is incumbent upon Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to recognize that if they have a specific question of a specific ministry, which they did in all cases today, they ask the question of the minister. A question asked to the Premier will be bound to bring some latitude.
MR. SPEAKER: I might suggest to both sides, as I have in the past, that they read standing order 47A (b), which calls for not only answers but questions to be brief, precise, without argument and without opinion. I think if all members read that standing order, we may not have the same problem tomorrow.
MINISTRY OF HIGHWAYS SUBCONTRACTORS
HON. MR. MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to a question which I took as notice earlier this week. The question was from the member for Surrey-Guildford-Whalley (Ms. Smallwood), and contained the following sentence: "Article 49 of the minister's standard construction agreement limits the value of subcontracting work to 35 percent."
I would like to read into the record a paragraph from section 49: "Generally approval will not be given to subcontract more than 35 percent of the money value of the original contract, except when the specialty items and/or truck haul may constitute more than 35 percent of the money value of the contract." I would ask the member to take note of
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that paragraph and the words "except when the specialty items and/or truck haul."
Hon. Mr. Savage tabled the annual report of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for the year 1985.
Hon. B.R. Smith tabled the annual report of the corrections branch.
Orders of the Day
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Mr. Speaker, adjourned debate on the amendment to second reading of Bill 19. I believe the second member for Nanaimo adjourned debate.
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS REFORM ACT, 1987
MR. SPEAKER: The second member for Nanaimo has one hour and 29 minutes remaining.
MR. LOVICK: 1 believe, Mr. Speaker, that I now have one hour and 28 minutes. That ought to be not quite enough time to delineate the problems that are demonstrated clearly in the bill before us, and to try to convince even the most intransigent members sitting opposite that they ought to perhaps reconsider their course of action.
I want to start my remarks by picking up on something that was alluded to by the Premier in response to a question a few minutes ago, namely a reference to what –– I believe I'm quoting –– was called "tent city." I thought it might be appropriate now for me to give a little sense of history of tent cities in British Columbia, especially because it is so completely and totally relevant to the motion we are now debating. We are, after all, asking the government to hoist this motion, to put it on the back burner for six months, because we suggest this motion has the effect of waving a red flag in front of the labour movement in this province.
The point I want to make, and it's a rather elaborate argument, is that we have got to guard against government being perceived as taking sides in the debate. Sadly, it is the case that the government is perceived as doing precisely that.
1 want to give a rather detailed history lecture –– and I use my words "history lecture" advisedly to the members opposite –– so they become clearly aware of why it is the labour movement in this province looks upon government, especially that government, with suspicion.
The example of a tent city in the summer of 1938 is a not-very-well-known phenomenon. It was called, believe it or not, the On to Victoria Trek. Most Canadians know all about the On to Ottawa Trek of 1935. They don't know, however, that we had our own variant and version of that in this province. It began in the city of Vancouver by the single unemployed, the transient unemployed who had, frankly, been kicked around from one end of this country to the other, and who were always given the same message by government: "We can perhaps do something for families, but we can't do anything for single unemployables." Most of these people called themselves "trade unionists." The government's response, of course, was to suggest that they should spend their time in relief camps, that they should become the 20-cents-a-day people. A number of those people did that for a number of years. Finally, however, the frustration and the hostility built up to such a point that there was the On to Ottawa Trek, which, as we know, ended in Regina with the riots in the city of Regina, with the RCMP on horseback clubbing people. We know that's what happened there, but the movement didn't die in 1935. It carried on in the province of B.C.
What happened was that a group of people occupied some public buildings in the city of Vancouver: a hotel, a post office and the art gallery. Eventually they were forcibly evicted from those buildings and, once again, blood spilled in the streets. In our civilized, free, democratic society we had behaviour on the part of the authorities that, quite simply, by all objective measurements, was brutal. It also was unprovoked. The record bears that out as well.
What happened thereupon is that those unemployed workers took to the streets, began to get organized and eventually found some flop-house hotels in the city of Vancouver. There they organized a campaign....
MR. SPEAKER: The Attorney-General on a point of order
HON. B.R. SMITH: I'm certainly enjoying the history lesson. I wonder when the member is going to touch upon the founding of the Grange movement, which seems to me to be equally relevant to the bill that he is speaking on. I just don't find quite the relevance to the hoist motion. It's a very interesting speech, though –– very interesting.
MR. LOVICK: I appreciate the compliments from the Attorney-General. I think it's marvelous to find out that he does indeed listen on occasion. Time permitting, I am perfectly qualified and capable of dealing with the Grange movement as well. Please, I don't want to appear to be facetious, because I am indeed trying to build a case that I think is an important case.
I want to suggest to you just this point, namely that the history and the evidence in the province of British Columbia has led workers to the inescapable conclusion that government has taken sides –– is not the honest broker; is not the man on the street that I referred to yesterday. I am sure, with the patience and the forbearance of the members opposite, I will indeed be able to demonstrate in very clear and concise terms as I proceed.
I was suggesting that what happened is that the workers in Vancouver eventually decided that the only remedy they had was to take their protest to Victoria. What they did then was to launch a very elaborate campaign, part of which involved my constituency of Nanaimo, because they sent the workers –– their army of the unemployed –– over on the ferry and on the Princess boats at the time, over to Nanaimo and there, from that point, I should say, they marched down the island to Victoria. It was called the On to Victoria Trek.
The Premier at the time refused to meet them. The only way they were able to get any action was to take their protest to Beacon Hill Park, and there they established a tent city. They established a tent city simply because the province had effectively told them: "We have nowhere else for you." The point, in case the Premier has missed it –– and I hope he's listening on a squawk box somewhere –– is that that is precisely what will happen when any group of individuals feels that its protest is not being heard.
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That's what happened in 1938. That's what will happen on the legislative lawn, because those individuals protesting the imposition of uranium mining in B.C. are arguing that they will not otherwise be heard. That's the lesson to be drawn: tent city alive and well in 1987, it would seem.
I want to begin my substantive comments, the comments that I had planned on this hoist motion, by doing what I think is absolutely necessary and appropriate: namely, reminding the House of the nature of the amendment on the one hand and, on the other hand, the purpose in moving the amendment.
The nature of the amendment is not, I would emphasize, to ask the government to give up its plans for a major overhaul of the Code; rather, it is to ask the government to sit back and let people examine that document very clearly for a period of six months. It's a request for the government to be reasonable, to be accommodating, to be considerate of other opinions. That is all it is. Our purpose on this side of the House in moving this hoist motion is not to be obstructionist, not to be obdurate, uncooperative or any such thing. Rather, our purpose is to draw the attention of this government to a crisis that is growing out there, outside this Legislature.
People are concerned. People are meeting everywhere throughout this province to say: "We will not tolerate this legislation. We will not put up with what we perceive the government is attempting to do to us." We are suggesting to this government that here is an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you are in fact listening, that you are in fact paying attention to the concerns of the people of this province. So I want to emphasize again, then, that our purpose is very upfront; we make no apologies for it. Indeed, a hoist motion is a venerable and ancient practice in any House of Parliament in the western world.
It's nothing for anybody to treat cynically or cavalierly; rather it's something that ought to be treated with respect. Sadly, it would seem that most members opposite have decided some time ago that they no longer need to listen to any of the debate, and I fear that is a bad practice. I certainly hope that this is aberrant rather than typical.
I want, then, to start by reiterating the central points I was making last time in the short period I had available to me, and I think it is appropriate to restate the three or four main points I was making.
The first one, as I've already touched on in my reference to the On To Victoria Trek of 1938, is the fact that government is being perceived as having taken sides. The crucial point to remember is that the development of the western democracies, the western industrial societies, has been one inexorably moving towards an accommodation, where there were two recognized, legitimate players in the so-called industrial relations system whose actions would be overseen and mediated on by a third party called government. It necessarily follows, if we are talking about a mediator, if we are talking about a third party that does indeed oversee, that that party not be perceived to be taking sides. If the party is perceived to be taking sides, then the entire model self-destructs thereupon.
Our history, as I have touched on, albeit briefly, demonstrates that workers throughout this country have very good reason to be suspicious. From the beginning, trade unions were regarded as criminal conspiracies. They were simply considered to be incompatible with any kind of free enterprise society. The stakes played were considered too high to allow workers to organize, and the matters were held to be too important to take chances on gentle remedies. The result, therefore, was a bloody and violent history.
Let me give you just a couple of examples of that. One of the most famous is from my own constituency, Nanaimo, 1912 to 1914, when we had a problem in the coal-mines –– a problem to do more than anything else with safety. A gas inspection committee, legally entitled to exist by the provincial mine regulation act, when it reported gas in the mines was suddenly dismissed. The obvious conclusion the workers drew was that the two people on the committee had been dismissed because they were union organizers.
My point is that even if the government had right and reason to dismiss those people, which as we know now it did not, the government did not.... I should say that the Dunsmuir interest, the coal company interest, had no difficulty whatsoever in getting the ear of government. In fact, let me jump ahead. A very famous Canadian historian by the name of Des Morton, who used to teach in the history department at Royal Roads in Victoria and is now at the University of Toronto.... One of Morton's early works, before he wrote some of his absolutely classic works on Canadian labour, was something called "Aid to the Civil Power." That's a phrase in law, or at least in an earlier period of law, that referred to the power of civil authorities to call for the government militia or the armed forces or the police. What Morton demonstrated very clearly in this early work was that government had never, in the history of this country, refused to grant police or military help to any company that wanted to put an end to a strike. I would suggest that that is a devastating indictment of our industrial relations system in this country.
Morton's essay held valid until World War II. Thank heaven, thank common sense and thank sanity that we have got –– we thought –– beyond that point. We have come rather to an accommodation, Mr. Speaker, in which everybody assumes the two parties have a right to exist as legitimate entities, as dignified beings. But now, sadly, it seems that those rights are once again being called into question. That is certainly being perceived by growing numbers of people in the province, and that is the danger we are trying to guard against in moving the hoist motion.
Nanaimo, then, was one example of government taking sides demonstrably on one side rather than the other. A little further on, not many years later.... I want to reassure all members opposite that I am not going to take you on a decade-by-decade stroll through Canadian history, but there are a number of important, significant events you should be aware of. Take the next major battle in Canadian history: Winnipeg, 1919, the first general strike, called the Winnipeg General Strike. I'm sure you all know the details, and I needn't sketch them out at any length. Instead, what I want to do is again return to the theme. The theme I am sketching out is that government was anything but that policeman on the corner that John Stuart Mill so eloquently said government should be. Instead, it was a player in the game.
What happened in Winnipeg in 1919 is that the citizens' committee, which today we would call the local chamber of commerce, simply went and asked for the support of the RCMP and the militia and of course was granted that right and was also given –– again to demonstrate my point –– another kind of power. Another group of people were given special constable rights, and guess who they were. They were the people paid for by Timothy Eaton's stores. The government provided some troops and Timothy Eaton provided
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some other troops, and that's how we dealt with that particular labour dispute. There is no way, by any stretch of the imagination by any fair-minded, rational, reasonable person, that one can look at that event in our history and say: "Here is government being the mediator between the two sides, the honest broker who will adjudicate the respective claims of the two sides." Sadly, our history gives us examples of quite the opposite. Estevan, Saskatchewan, 1931: the same thing repeats itself.
As I say, Des Morton's case clearly demonstrated that there were in excess of 30-odd cases, in each and every one of which government simply responded to the wishes of the owners of the mine or the mill or the factory or the logging show, or whatever it may have been. There is a residue of bitterness in this country, in short, that the trade union movement still carries, still knows about. We as government today then surely must recognize that our responsibility, perhaps above all else, is to show that we are not taking sides, that we are impartial, that we will indeed play the role as mediator between the two interest groups. Sadly, we have not done that. Sadly, what the bill before us would seem to indicate is that we are not prepared to show that that government will take upon itself that clear, honest responsibility that it ought to take on.
The second major reason which I sketched briefly last time had to do with the simple fact that one of the major actors in the play called industrial relations in this province is bound and determined and resolved to fight. Those players will not quietly accept what is being done to them.
I seem to be getting a signal of sorts.
MS. CAMPBELL: Mr. Speaker, I request leave to make an introduction.
MS. CAMPBELL: Before I make the introduction, I'd like to express my appreciation to the second member for Nanaimo for interrupting his speech and allowing me to make this introduction. I'd like to draw to the attention of the people sitting in the gallery, as well as of the members, that this represents the very highest parliamentary tradition in courtesy in this House.
I've been asked to make an introduction on behalf of the members from Vancouver South, neither of whom is able to be in the chamber today, and to ask the House to welcome a delegation of grade 11 students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver and their teacher, Mr. Goddard.
MR. LOVICK: Mr. Speaker, I want also to thank the first member for Vancouver–Point Grey for providing me that opportunity to have a drink of water.
I left off at the point of introducing another major argument in support of this hoist motion which I alluded to only briefly in my remarks yesterday, and that was the simple contention that we cannot fairly, in all honesty and conscience, proceed with this kind of significant legislative initiative if one of the major players in the game is totally disenchanted and indeed angry. That's just bad politics, if nothing else. That's rather like trying to start a relationship between man and woman that begins from the assumption that one of them will forever be a slave to the other. It doesn't work. It effectively undercuts and undermines and challenges the dignity of at least one, if not both, of the partners. I would argue both of the partners in the example I gave.
What government has done with this particular piece of legislation –– which it is apparently bound and determined to push through, come hell or high water or other such stuff –– is simply confirm the suspicions of so many. If the newly created B.C. Federation of Labour, which prides itself on being reasonable and rational and cooperative, and if the new government, which prides itself on being open and consultative and cooperative and reasonable and rational –– if those two entities cannot be friends, cannot have some kind of amicable relationship, what chance then does any kind of legislation directly impacting on and affecting those two parties have of succeeding? The answer –– I think it's pretty clear –– is not very much.
I don't necessarily want to try to suggest sinister motives on the part of the government in being so convinced that it must proceed with this legislative initiative; rather, what I want to suggest is that the government has perhaps got itself into a position where any deviation, any departure, from the predetermined and the assigned course will be perceived by its members as a sign of weakness. And what a terribly sad development for this province if that should be the case.
If we are in fact going to declare war –– and certainly that's the perception –– on organized labour, if we are in fact going to say to organized labour, "You may be taking to the streets; you may be talking about protest rallies and even, lord help us, general strikes and all of that stuff; you may be telling us you can't live with that, but we're not hearing; we're not responding to that, " if we respond, if we behave that way, if we don't listen to what those people are actually telling us, how then can we possibly have a harmonious labour climate after this issue has settled itself, has shaken down?
The point clearly is that you can't use the heavy hand of legislation to tell people to be reasonable one to another. You simply can't do it. Look at the evidence we have. Look at what happened for instance in a place such as Australia when we decided to outlaw strikes. We said: "The problem we've got here, friends, mates" –– thought I'd just give you a little bit of 'stralian in passing, mates –– "is that there is too much dissent and it's bad for the investment climate, and all that litany of sins that we hear from the right. So what we'll do, how we'll solve the problem, is we'll simply outlaw strikes." Well, guess what happened, of course? When that was done, the level and the intensity of discord and strife increased.
Look what happens in a statist kind of society such as Poland when we decide that the trade union movement is flexing its muscles too much and is taking more power unto itself than it ought to have. Well, look what happens: you have the apparatus of the state police, the army, the law and the entire society behind you, but nevertheless the popular will, the will of the people, says: "We will not be abused; we will not be mistreated; we will fight back." Look then what happens in terms of the efficiency of the economy and the happiness of the society.
There is surely a point all of us must recognize when we know and accept without question that government's duty is to be conciliator. This government began with a marvelous pretence, at least, a marvelous perhaps open and genuine effort to talk about consultation, but look what has happened the moment that the pro forma part of the consultation is over.
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The moment that that has ended and the legislation comes down and one of the major players in the game says, "This is not what we had in mind; this is not what we discussed. We feel betrayed; we feel stabbed in the back, " what does government say instead of: "All right, we understand your predicament; we understand your situation; we will at least talk about that"? Instead, government says: "No, we are bound and determined to carry on with this legislation."
I submit –– and I've used the metaphor before –– that that is analogous to waving the red flag in front of the bull. It's unnecessary; it's a kind of macho version of politics: "Well, we'll show you guys who's tough, boy. We'll make sure we know who's running the affairs of this province." And the point is: all that does is exacerbate and worsen the tensions between the two sides. Most significantly, it's not necessary. It's just not necessary.
[Mrs. Gran in the chair.]
As I mentioned in my comments the other day, we are dealing with a period in our history when all of the players in the labour-management industrial relations game have recognized that we must all get rid of our stylized, historical posturing. We know that things have changed, and we know that we must change our roles accordingly. But instead, then, of being consonant and consistent with the plan to have a new approach, to have consultation and open government, the moment one of the players asks for the consultation, asks for a demonstration of the government's good will, the rug is literally pulled out from under them; they're met with a rejection. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that is also not good politics. That's simply not smart, among other things.
The third reason that I touched on in my remarks last time had to do with confusion. I know that I must have appeared to have been facetious indeed in my various comments and in the quiz that I presented to members of the government, asking them if anybody could indeed tell me what was meant by the changes to the technological-change clause. But as with all facetious comments, as with all ironic utterances, there is some truth behind my observations and my questions.
I fear, with all due deference and respect to the minister, to other cabinet ministers and to other members of this government, that most people do not indeed understand the details of the bill sufficiently to push it through right now. It is a complex and difficult piece of work, one that requires considerable study for one to make much sense of. It is also a document that appears to have within it the capacity to, redraft the entire labour map of this province. Surely, given the correctness of that assumption, it is not at all unreasonable for us to say: "Wait a minute, let's slow down the merry-go-round a little bit. Let's stop, or at least slow down, the parade somewhat so we can have an opportunity to find out what the bill actually means."
I give an example of what I mean by the confusion that I think is indeed out there concerning what this bill actually means. I want to quote a friend of Her Majesty's government, who is a good trade unionist, one who is usually regarded –– indeed, I would venture to say universally regarded –– as intelligent, well-informed, sophisticated, moderate, reasonable, credible, respectable, all of those things; a person who has been appointed by this government to sit on two very important commissions: (1) the Public Service Commission, and (2) the board of governors of the British Columbia Institute of Technology. I'm referring to Mr. Fred Randall, who is the business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 115.
Mr. Randall is clearly –– and I think there's not much doubt or question of this –– one of the most knowledgeable people in labour relations in this province. Everybody regards and recognizes him as being one of the "professionals" in the field, although he is not a lawyer. I see the first member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Ms. Campbell) revealing a certain amazement at that point, that one can be a professional and knowledgeable even if one is not a lawyer ––interesting to note.
Mr. Randall, in a letter to all elected representatives in this province, says, I think very eloquently and effectively and certainly passionately, that the problem is the complexity of the legislation. I assure you, Madam Speaker, I'm not going to fall into the trap of simply reading great chunks of material into the record; I will not do that. But what I would like to do is to quote you just a paragraph of this. He says:
"As the elected business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 115, rep resenting 10,000 members in the province, I have some serious concerns regarding the recently introduced legislation. First of all, no one understands it, including the press who feed the information to the public. The legislation should be put on hold until it is fully understood by the public, the legislators who will vote on it, and the elected representatives of the workers."
This is not some fringe person; this is not some kook. This is a person whose bona fides, whose right to speak and to participate in this discussion, is absolutely impeccable, beyond question, beyond challenge.
The main contention of this submission –– which, I note in passing, is quite lengthy and quite detailed and in fact could probably be made to last 20 minutes if I wanted to read it all, Madam Speaker –– is simply the problem I quoted to you. Nobody understands it, and I think we on this side of the House have demonstrated it in our few questions thus far –– that indeed nobody understands it, or if anybody does understand it, they certainly are not answering any questions that indicate they understand it. So I think that is a good argument as to why we should put this bill on hold; why we should support this motion to hoist it for six months.
Having touched on the need for a six-month period, I come to the fourth point that I had just begun to elaborate on in my remarks yesterday. That point is the indelicate –– some would say indecent –– haste with which this bill is being presented to us. Yesterday the question I challenged government members to answer was: why this rush? Where is the current crisis? Show us, please, what is on the horizon threatening to engulf us all and destroy our precious bodily essences or some such thing.
That reference, I should explain for everyone's sake, that was the line used by the maniac general in Doctor Strangelove, who was convinced that above all there was a world conspiracy to destroy his precious bodily essence. That is why I used that term.
The question is, where is the conspiracy? Where is the problem? The only answers we get from the other side –– somewhat muted, I would note –– are two.
The first one is that we have got to do something to encourage investment in this province. Well, let me tell you a little bit about investment. If we are talking about investment, and we are talking about the climate where repressive
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labour legislation puts the clamps on trade unions, at least in such a way as trade unions perceive they are being so threatened –– if we are talking about regimes that do that, then we can certainly find all kinds of them in the world that are going to be more attractive to investors. The investment community is not looking for some kind of Third World entity, some kind of primitive society in which we have one class of owners and one class of powerful people, and the rest a kind of servant population.
Above all, in every study I have ever encountered about the investment climate in international terms, what determines investment is the attractiveness of a location, given of course the availability of the resources to begin with, which is the starting point to consider in making investment decisions. But given the resource, they talk about the attractiveness of the place to be. Do you want to live there? Is it nice? Needless to say, we in British Columbia have a tremendous advantage in that regard.
Why do you think California became one of the great boom areas in the United States? Partly because it is a nice place to live. Let's not forget that. So it is with Florida, incidentally.
The first point, then, is simply a place that is nice to live. But beyond that –– and, many would argue, more important and much beyond that –– is the business of stability, What stability is defined as in industrial relations textbooks, by those who know anything about the field, is above all an environment in which we all know what the rules are, We all know how the game is played, and we can plan accordingly, because we recognize that this is, for example, a highly unionized sector, and investors recognized long ago that there may be some downsides for investors in putting their money in a highly organized state or society or province, but there are also some tremendous advantages. If you are producing goods in a highly organized sector, what you do thereby is give yourself a comparative advantage to sell those goods to other places that have highly organized sectors.
Workers are not stupid. Workers know full well that the ideal situation for any trade unionist is an international organization of workers, so money and capital investment in goods cannot fly to one place where they can get a better deal than another place. The solution is to have international solidarity. Workers know that. They know that they need to protect each other's interests, and they will therefore lobby passionately to ensure that the goods and services they produce and the equipment they buy to produce their own goods and services will come from other sectors which are organized. So there's some basic hardball economics in this too. We're not just talking about warm, fuzzy feelings and bleeding-heartism. We're also talking about some good old-fashioned economic self-interest.
The predicament, as I say, would seem to be that we have manufactured some argument about the crisis in investment dollars. I don't claim to be knowledgeable about everything that's been written about the B.C. economy, but I do read a little bit and know a little bit, and everything I've ever looked at in the last five years tells me that we do not have a capital shortage in B.C. We don't have an investment-dollar crisis. The dollars aren't necessarily rushing elsewhere, with none left here. Rather, what we have done, what seems to be the case –– and I think I'm basing this example on something I read recently in the Central Credit Union newsletter –– is that most of those dollars are going into the merger and conglomeration process. That's where the higher rate of return is.
MR. CLARK: Corporate concentration.
MR. LOVICK: Corporate concentration, as my colleague from Vancouver East correctly points out. The issue, then, is not some kind of mythical notion that, "By heaven, we must tighten up our labour legislation or else we won't get those investment dollars, because those investment dollars have gone elsewhere." That is simply so much twaddle. The fact of the matter is that the dollars are here. They're just being directed into different sectors. So there isn't that kind of crisis.
The second reason adduced as to why we need, apparently, to have this haste, why we must act on this bill right now, is something called the public interest. Madam Speaker, as I reflect on that phrase, "the public interest, " I am reminded of other phrases, such as "the national interest" or "national security." If there has ever been a phrase to conjure with, if there has ever been a phrase which has hidden more sins and more abuses of human rights and more violations of human dignity, I do not know what the phrase might be. The public interest tends, sadly, to be construed to be whatever the individual saying it says it is. The public interest will be cited by the enemies of trade unions, who will say absolutely nothing about the flight of capital from this province, if capital decides to go on strike. If, in fact, interest rates in this province go down low enough, and American interest rates are 2 percent higher, I would suggest to you that we will be confronted with a problem that makes a general strike of labour look like child's play, because then we will see a flight of capital from this province. I would bet dollars to doughnuts, as sure as I'm standing here before this House, that nobody on the other side of the House is going to talk about a crisis challenging the public interest. The public interest, sadly, seems to mean an interest that threatens my own interest. If I am wrong in that argument, if I am in fact being unfair, then I give this open, frank and entirely ingenuous invitation to my colleagues on the other side of the House to demonstrate that to me. I have a hunch there will not be any responses.
There are occasions when all of us are frustrated and feel that we aren't accomplishing as much as we would like to, and we feel that the solution to our problem is somehow action. Frankly, it doesn't matter very much what the action is, but we'll take action, and that way we'll look as if we're in charge and know what we're doing. It is more difficult, of course, on occasion to do nothing –– much more difficult. The pressures, indeed, tend to be towards action, not to stall. There are times, in short, when caution and care and circumspection are the only reasonable course of activity.
The line that comes to mind from Shakespeare, who is known to have the odd interesting observation to present, of course, was one from Romeo and Juliet, if my memory serves me. It is curious to me that I am using it in a miscontext because it is so blatantly out of context. The line in Romeo and Juliet –– and the suspense is building, I detect, right? I can see members on the other side fidgeting.
The line comes from Romeo and Juliet in which Friar Lawrence, who is a kind of mediator father-confessor to the two young lovers, is trying to tell them, "Cool it kids, you'll live to regret this, " and he offers them some advice which, needless to say, they don't want to listen to because they
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obviously have their minds and bodies on other things. What happens, though, is that Friar Lawrence offers them this great bit of political advice. He says, and it's something we could live by, certainly in this context.... Suspense, right? We've built to the point now where we are all indeed ready to appreciate a little Shakespeare, All right, he says to them, "Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast." [Applause.]
I hope Hansard will show that Shakespeare received applause.
MR. CRANDALL: You remember it was Shakespeare.
MR. LOVICK: Well put.
I'm wondering, Madam Speaker, about whether we do, indeed, have a quorum here. We do have a quorum?
MR. LOVICK: All right, I shall simply carry on then. Do you know, I have just looked at the clock and I discover that I have used a rather large chunk of my allotted time, and I have thus far, I am afraid, only summarized the points I was referring to yesterday. There are, I would like to point out, however, some very compelling and powerful and persuasive arguments yet to be adduced, and I would like to introduce some of those now.
The first of those arguments is that the decision to push forward with this bill, in opposition to our hoist motion, in opposition to that growing chorus of opinion against this bill, will not only cause the government problems with its own constituents but will also do something else that is very sad and scary too: namely, it will exacerbate and worsen the tension in this legislative chamber. I think that there is something very, very serious for us to note there. We, on this side of the House, have listened again and again to references to "fresh start," "new beginnings," "we are not the same old gang; rather we want to talk; we want to consult; we want, in short, to be colleagues in the legislative enterprise. We want to work together; we want to do all of those good things."
Think about this. First of all, guess what we on this side of the House are likely to say if we perceive that in every single situation where we have suggested or recommended an amendment or a change of course by the government the response has been the same –– instantly, peremptorily, dramatically no. This is a government that has not listened to any amendments; indeed, has refused to debate all the amendments we have presented thus far in this session. This is a government that has made light of most of the comments and criticisms we have offered, rather than dealing with the substance of our allegations, the substance of our arguments.
This is a government, in short, whose words we begin to question and wonder if they actually mean anything. The words we are hearing are that yes, we want to consult, yes, we want to talk, yes, we want to invite you to engage in this dialogue with us. But the moment we ask for that statement to be given form, given shape, given substance, then the words disappear.
Let me dwell a little bit more on that argument. The business of exacerbating the tension in this House is something about which, I know, people in the gallery may well say: "Oh, yes, here we are. We can see theatre here. We know that that gentleman standing there speaking –– the second member for Nanaimo –– doesn't really mean that. Instead, he's just playing a game to try to embarrass this government." I want to suggest to those in the gallery, Madam Speaker, plus all members assembled here, that a very serious case is being presented right now. I want to stress that. The point is that none of us in this chamber, I am sure, wants to live in an acrimonious environment. Rather we would like to cooperate. We would like to work on the assumption that while, to be sure, it is government's right and job to govern, the government, by definition, also consists of an opposition –– an opposition that ought to be consulted, and yes, perish the thought, even listened to sometimes.
However, what has happened in this Legislature thus far is that there has not been any evidence in fact, in substance, that this government is indeed prepared to do that listening. Rather, all we get are great protestations, great declarations that yes, we want to consult with you; but when we ask, suddenly those protestations, those declarations disappear like the morning dew.
I want to touch on another reason I think this hoist motion deserves support. This reason is simply that contrary, again, to what the minister has said, there has not been any kind of full, frank, open consultation. He has gone through the motions. He has conducted hearings throughout the province. He has invited submissions from various interest groups throughout the province. I commend the minister for that approach. The problem, however, is that just when the mouse was about to bite the cheese, Mr. Minister, the cheese was pulled away. Just when we were prepared to say, "Right, we've had this consultation, we've had this discussion, let's now see what that actually means," it was a chimera –– it disappeared. The cheese was gone. The point of all that, of course, is just that once again we have given reason to those people who are becoming cynical, skeptical and disenchanted, to feel the way they do. They are just beginning to wonder if in fact the words mean anything. How many times, after all, can we be told that this is consultation, can we be told that this is a fresh start, before we suddenly say, please demonstrate to us that there is some substance here? I'm suggesting to you that the people of this province are getting perilously close to that point, Madam Speaker.
MR. SKELLY: I'm rising on a question of privilege, Madam Speaker.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of privilege?
MR. SKELLY: Madam Speaker, a few minutes ago I witnessed people being forcibly removed from the lawns of the parliament building by Sergeant-at-Arms staff. Their property was taken from them –– tents, brief-cases, personal property. On what authority was the Sergeant-at-Arms staff operating, and who gave authority for the staff to use physical force?
DEPUTY SPEAKER: I'll take your point of privilege on notice and reserve my decision.
MR. SKELLY: Madam Speaker, this is an urgent matter, and a matter which reflects on the privileges of all members of this House and all people in the province who use the precincts in the parliament buildings and the grounds around the buildings.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
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If these people were loaned to the police force, then we should know that, because this action reflects on all of the people in this Legislature and on the institution of Parliament itself. We need to know immediately under whose authority these people acted and who granted them authority to use physical force.
MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank the hon. Leader of the Opposition for bringing this matter before the House. The Speaker asked for a full report from the Sergeant-at-Arms when this matter was brought to his attention by the member just a short time ago, and I will be prepared to bring back a reply. The member did not make a motion, but I will certainly report to the House at the earliest possible time.
MR. SKELLY: I appreciate the Speaker's action. I did discuss the matter with the Speaker, and I believe this is something that should be dealt with by the Legislature and by the Speaker's office as quickly as possible. I do not have a motion, but perhaps out of the Speaker's investigation we will make a motion that will make sure that incidents like this, which reflect on the traditions of this Parliament and the dignity and privileges of members, will never happen in the future.
MR. ROSE: I'm prepared to move the motion that the matter be referred to the appropriate committee. Speaking just briefly to the motion, I think today's incident undermines the whole respect for civil rights, the rights of individuals, the rights of property, the right of protection against massive force, the rights of their own private property and the dignity of this institution. I hope that the appropriate committee –– Standing Orders, if that's the one, or the one that's most appropriate to deal with the matter –– will make recommendations that will confirm once and for all the line of authority in this Legislature. In most legislatures it stems from the Speaker, down through the precincts and the four comers of the property upon which the legislature sits.
I would just like to add that I feel that in a democratic society such mass abuse of force, the confiscation of private property, is completely unacceptable and belongs in other than a democratic state.
MR. SPEAKER: It's not appropriate to move the motion yet, hon. member, but once the Speaker has ruled on the question of privilege made by the Leader of the Opposition, the member may then want to put his motion. The Speaker will attempt to answer the question of privilege as quickly as possible.
The second member for Nanaimo is still on the hoist motion.
On the amendment.
MR. LOVICK: How painfully and sadly ironic, Mr. Speaker, when I have for some 90 minutes now been suggesting to this government that what you are doing is helping to create that residue of bitterness, helping to exacerbate the tension in the province, helping, in fact, to make people feel that government is not an honest broker but is rather taking sides, that this kind of thing should intervene to once again further convince those people and inflame those feelings.
[Mrs. Gran in the chair.]
I find it difficult to pick up precisely where I left off, Madam Speaker, after hearing that news. I do indeed look forward to a speedy resolution of that question, as I'm sure must everybody else in this House.
I was talking, prior to the interruption, about the lack of consultation and suggesting that what made that lack of consultation all the more poignant and painful and significant was the fact that we had the claims on the one hand that this was a government that was going to be different, that was going to listen, that was going to consult; and on the other hand, we then had evidence that this was not indeed the case. That's what makes the lack of consultation so bitter and so painful to the people who are now protesting this legislation.
You know, Madam Speaker, 1 haven't touched on just how large that protest has become. I returned to my constituency of Nanaimo last night, for example, and discovered that there was a meeting in my community, almost spontaneous, of some 600-plus teachers. Teachers in my community are frankly an apolitical group for the most part. They don't go out to meetings. They, however, in response to another bill before this Legislature –– which they see by the way as a companion piece to Bill 19 –– felt the need to get together and to talk about their concerns. They are upset.
I also learned last night that there is a plan already afoot for a major rally in my community to protest what is happening under the activities of Bill 19. And do you know –– this is perhaps a significant point, certainly relevant to the hoist motion –– what's important I think for us to recognize is that the enunciated reason for the rally is to demonstrate to the government that we are indeed unhappy because government's response thus far has been to say that it is only the leaders of organized labour who are unhappy; it's only the opposition in the Legislature who's unhappy.
Don't you see, Madam Speaker, or don't the members opposite see that what this government is doing is inviting a kind of mass reaction, another kind of mass protest, because the people perceive, and sadly they have reason to perceive, that this government is not going to be convinced by anything we on this side of the House say, is not going to be convinced by anything that the officers of the B. C. Federation of Labour say, and therefore the conclusion understandably, logically, will be drawn by those people that they must then take their protest to the streets.
What an awful admission. We who have evolved over time a marvelous society and a marvelous system of government that provides us with the mechanism to prevent that kind of behaviour are nonetheless thrown back to that kind of behaviour. And it needn't be so. That's the tragedy of it; that's the sad, sad irony of it.
I want to now touch on another reason why 1 think this hoist motion is appropriate. The hoist motion, again, I would remind everybody, is simply asking the government to hold up that legislation for a period of some six months so that people can indeed be given an opportunity to review and examine it. That's all it's asking.
Another reason, I think, why we want to suggest that that is the appropriate response, the appropriate course of action, is just that the government has not yet given any explanation of why this bill. There has been no detailed explanation or statement about what the rationale is for this bill.
I listened very carefully, Madam Speaker, to the minister in the House the other day outlining the ostensible rationale for the bill, and I have some training in listening ––you know, I'm not totally unadept at doing that, and also listening
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fairly carefully and following complex argument. And I listened very carefully, but again with all due deference, Madam Speaker, I didn't hear anything that clarifies for me why this legislation, why now.
What is the reason we are talking about redrawing the industrial relations map of this province? Why are we doing that? I've heard some clichés; I've heard some lines to conjure with, some incantations. I've heard all that kind of stuff, but I haven't heard much in the way of substantive, solid argument. And certainly –– again I say this more with regret and sadness than ire, Madam Speaker –– I've heard nothing on the other side in the course of the debate to suggest: "These are the reasons, and you people are missing the point" –– "you people" meaning we on this side. I just haven't heard that. I think that any government in any state in any society at any time has a clear obligation, a moral obligation, if you will, to make perfectly clear –– I sound like Nixon, don't I, when I use that line, Madam Speaker? –– why this legislation and why this legislation now. That's what the rationale that accompanies any bill introduced in this Legislature ought necessarily to provide. Unfortunately, this one did not.
The problem, of course, is that if the legislation does not provide us with that kind of rationale or that kind of clear and particular statement, then –– and it's no great surprise –– all of us begin to ask: "Why didn't it?" All of us become suspicious. All of us become wary. All of us begin to wonder whether in fact there is another agenda, whether there is another set of reasons that animates and motivates the government. That is a reasonable response. You don't have to be a cynic to respond that way. Given that there is no good explanation that makes sense, and given that most of us believe that people are causal beings and that we do things for reasons, then obviously people are going to conclude that there must be a reason. "You're not telling me the reason; what, then is the reason?" That's bound to happen. So you can't blame the people who are suspicious. You can't blame the people who are speculating and offering other hypotheses to explain the behaviour.
For example, is this haste –– what I've referred to earlier as this indecent haste –– to push this bill through merely a matter of strategy and tactics? Is this an effort to take advantage of the fact that I and so many of my colleagues on this side of the House are relatively inexperienced, and therefore perhaps will not be as astute and wise and ept as we ought to be in examining that legislation?
MR. ROSE: I never heard of the word "ept."
MR. LOVICK: Somebody obviously has not heard of the word "ept." It is indeed the shorter form of "inept." On this side we should never question what inept means, Madam Speaker. Clearly we know about ept; we have lots of evidence of inept, indeed.
This legislation, as I suggest, perhaps has another motive behind it. Think about the horrible set of possibilities. For one: "What we want to do" –– says the government, in this hypothesis I am building –– "is get this legislation through, because we'll take advantage of those young punks over there who do not comprehend the niceties of legalese, who don't know how to read bills, who don't know all the parliamentary tricks. Therefore we'll catch them napping."
MR. WILLIAMS: I think you should withdraw that.
MR. LOVICK: That's an hypothesis and, frankly, one that on the basis of what we've seen thus far doesn't seem to hold up very well, but may indeed have been the case.
Look at some others. Is it the case that this is a bill that the more we see, the more frightened of we will become, the closer we look, the more ugly we will perceive to be? Is that why we are saying: "Let us get this through before there is close examination out there, outside this House, by people who are accustomed to working with such legislation, who know about the cut and thrust of labour-management relations" ? Why are we trying to push it through without letting those people have an opportunity to talk about it? Why? Again I suggest that the reasons for people being suspicious are indeed valid. Their suspicions may be groundless, but their reasons for being suspicious are very legitimate indeed.
I'm tempted, Madam Speaker, to try to come up with a half a dozen other possible speculations as to what the real agenda for this bill is. However, I think that would be, to coin a phrase, eating the clock, and I will therefore not engage in such stuff. Instead, I want to turn to another good, solid, reasonable argument why I think this hoist motion is appropriate and necessary at this time. The reason is so simple that it amazes me, frankly, that I have to enunciate it here today. The reason is simply that the opportunity to study and to examine a controversial piece of legislation is always a guarantee that the legislation will be improved thereby.
This is a complex area. We're not talking about providing a better sewer to Mrs. McGillicuddy. We're talking here about a complex issue. We're talking about the lives and hopes and aspirations and means to survival of a very significant portion of our population. It's an issue that literally is close to home, that cuts to the bone and to the quick. It is an area, then, that necessarily will generate powerful strong feelings. It is an area, then, that surely we owe it to all of those people out there to examine closely, carefully and painstakingly. It is not a time to fall into some foolish false dichotomy and trap that says: "You've got to do it now or else." There is no "or else." Six months, frankly, will not make any significant difference as far as any of us on this side of the House can see. Certainly we have had no evidence adduced to suggest that it would.
There are certainly possibilities to fix up bits and pieces of the legislation that this six-month period would provide us –– bits and pieces of the legislation that right now, sadly, Madam Speaker, we aren't even looking at. The reason we are not even looking at them is that everyone is so preoccupied with the forest that we haven't had a chance yet to look at the trees. Because we recognize that the aggregate, the whole thing, is sufficiently scary, sufficiently problematic, and has potential enough in itself to cause us anguish, worry and concern, we have not yet taken a look at the elementary, simple, mechanical things within the bill; and more importantly, perhaps, nor does it appear that we will be given an opportunity to.
Let's face it. If your House is burning down, that's not the time, as you are trying to get out of the place, to suddenly worry about whether it is cheque 311 or 312 in your chequebook. Our problem is that what we are doing now is asking us all to deal with what we perceive to be a fire of serious proportion, and we haven't had an opportunity yet to check all those other things that are also as important, though not as clear and pressing and urgent. That is another problem
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with this legislation, and is why, I think, we would do well to again support this hoist motion.
Six months isn't really a lot of time in the world we live in.
MR. LOVICK: Somebody says I could perhaps speak for six months. I certainly hope not.
The last area I want to touch on is the economic effects. Isn't it interesting that in this province at this time, given this government and all the talk about a new economy, about the need to start a new system, to grapple with "the realities of living in the 1980s" –– I think I am quoting a chunk of the throne speech there, Madam Speaker –– given that background, given that context, in the explanation of this bill we didn't hear anything about an economic impact study? We didn't hear anything about what this is going to mean. What does this translate into?
We are talking about what I would fairly call radical legislation, because "radical" is defined as any significant departure from the status quo, any major move away from a course of action, from a plan, from a means of functioning that has been deemed to be adequate and acceptable in the past. When you suddenly change the rules, when you suddenly say in this instance that we are no longer going to have something called a labour relations board, despite the fact that it has served us very well for some 12 years or more.... When you suddenly say that, then you have engaged in radical politics.
That is what this legislation is. It is radical legislation. I think there ought to be some kind of formula, almost a mathematical theorem, that says that the speed with which you approach legislation ought to be directly –– perhaps inversely –– proportional to the seriousness of that legislation. I think that is probably not a bad idea.
MR. WILLIAMS: Lovick's law.
MR. LOVICK: I like that –– Lovick's law, as the member for Vancouver East says.
I think it is probably not, as I said, a bad idea, if in fact we are talking about legislation that affects thousands and thousands of people and has the capacity to literally redraw the social and the economic map of this province, then surely, by all that's holy and all that's commonsensical, we ought not to be so precipitate, we ought not to be rushing. There isn't a case there, or at least there's certainly not one I've heard.
I would like to know a little bit about the economics of this case. I would like to know, for example, what the impact is on the average wage packet if we introduce legislation of this kind. We probably do have models for this legislation elsewhere –– I hope. Good Lord, is it...? I suddenly had this terrible flash, Madam Speaker, this insight, this fear: is it possible that this kind of legislation has not been tried elsewhere? Is it possible that we are simply experimenting and that the people of British Columbia will become the white rats of the world, that we're going to test it out to see if it works? Have there in fact been any studies? Have there been any indications that these kinds of policies will (1) work as we anticipate and suggest they will; and (2) not have deleterious, devastating and debilitating effects? Is that in fact the case? Have we demonstrated that? Certainly I haven't heard anything like that in any of the so-called defences of the bill. I would like to know that.
1 would also like to know what this kind of legislation –– if in fact it is the case that the B.C. Federation of Labour decides to say, "We boycott this, we protest passionately and bitterly what you've done" –– is going to do to our trading relationship with other provinces. Is it not possible perhaps that we will discover that British Columbia has become the pariah of the country, the place considered to be the absolutely hands-off, bad place to deal with in this country, not to mention other jurisdictions? I don't know whether the government has any answers to that kind of question, but it seems to me that it has an obligation to know the answers, and again, I have certainly seen no evidence that it has in fact conducted any of those kinds of studies.
[Mr. Pelton in the chair.]
Mr. Speaker, may I ask how much time I have left? Ten? Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I think I will try to simply summarize this argument. I think I have enunciated a number of different points, but they have perhaps got lost in the shuffle. I will proceed sufficiently slowly, Mr. Speaker, that members opposite can take notes, should they wish. I am being facetious. I think that goes with the turf after one has been on one's feet for a while. I'm sure that is the case, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I must apologize for my difficulty in articulating the phrase "Mr. Speaker." It's just that for the past hour there has been another person in the chair, and I had finally become accustomed to saying "Madam Speaker." So I hope I will indeed learn to say "Mr. Speaker" again.
Let me, as I say, very quickly.... They are good arguments, you know. We're not talking silly stuff; we're talking good arguments.
The first argument I would present is that what has happened here is that the government has clearly appeared to violate the covenant, the social contract, whereby government stands above or outside the participants in a dispute –– as a mediator, as an honest broker. Government appears to have decided that that is not its role. Rather, its role is to take sides, and that, I suggest, is a regressive step, a step backwards.
The second argument I would present –– and I don't know why I'm suddenly rushing through this, Mr. Speaker –– is that it is simply bad politics, bad strategy, to try to push something through when one of the major players in the game has already given notice tantamount to: "Over our bruised and bleeding bodies, you will." When we've been told that this means war, that this is a policy they find offensive and insulting, one that violates the contract they thought they had with this government.... Given those signals, Mr. Speaker, any government ought to know that's the time to be a little bit circumspect, a little bit clever, and pull back a little from the threshold. I hope, for heaven's sake, that we are not deciding to have a new kind of B.C. brinkmanship or some such thing. That would seem to me a very bad step.
The point again, in case it got lost in that brief outpouring, is that we are dealing with a government that is bound, it seems, to push it through despite the fact that roughly 50 percent of its constituency is saying: "Don't do it."
The third reason why I think the hoist motion is appropriate is simply that there is indeed confusion surrounding just
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what this bill means, what it asks for. Yesterday I had some fun posing my little quiz for parliamentarians, Unfortunately I didn't get any answers to the quiz, which leads me to conclude –– protests of the members opposite notwithstanding –– that they didn't have the answers, and didn't know what was in the bill. Sadly, again I have had no evidence whatsoever presented to me to move me to reconsider that position or rethink that conclusion.
The fourth reason is what I have referred to as the indecent haste of all of this, and the failure of this government to provide us with reasons why it has to be now. Why now? I called it before the Chicken Little syndrome, the argument that the sky is falling. There has been no evidence or no willingness, at least, to share with us on this side of the House the evidence that's there, which leads me to believe there isn't any evidence –– but nevertheless to say we must take these radical, draconian steps to deal with this problem. I fear that we are dealing rather with something that is a self-created mythology, and that's the reason. It's a reason that doesn't have substance. That's why the haste.
I also suggest some other reasons. My fifth reason, if anyone is keeping score, is that the pushing forward of this bill now, rather than giving us a little time –– some six months to consider, to weigh, to examine, to reconsider –– will exacerbate the tension that is starting to build between the two sides of this House. We would like to have an era of cooperation, consultation and harmony between us, whatever our disagreements. If, however, we are once more given the evidence that the government is merely going through the motions of listening to us, doesn't really pay any attention to our concerns, and doesn't apparently much care that there are people out there who have become convinced that what the government is doing is wrong - if indeed that's the case, then clearly we on this side will perceive the government as not quite what it said it would be. Rather, we will conclude that they are indeed the same old gang with the same old approaches, attitudes and, dare I say, disrespect for this side of the House.
That kind of tension, that kind of incipient hostility, I think, does not serve the people of this province well. I don't think it does any of us any good. Unfortunately, however, the government seems minded to encourage and abet that kind of attitude. How sad.
The next reason I presented I called simply lack of real, meaningful consultation. To be sure, we went through the motions; to be sure, it looked as if we were actually interested in finding out what people thought. I commended the minister for this in my remarks earlier; I would do so again. But it becomes extremely difficult to commend the minister for that kind of behaviour if we discover that the consultation process is only a charade, that we put the report together as if we had never consulted with anybody. That seems to be the conclusion, given what we are hearing from people such as the teachers and the B.C. Federation of Labour, because they have both concluded that the government didn't listen to us; it did precisely the opposite of what we wanted it to do.
The next reason is that there has been no public explanation of why. We got, rather, some muted and, frankly, not very explicit statements from the minister in the House the other day when the bill was introduced, telling us why this bill had to be introduced. But those statements, sadly, do not bear up to any kind of close scrutiny or examination. And we don't find any good reasons as to why.
I think I'm almost out of time, I understand, Mr. Speaker.
If I could summarize –– I have just a couple of other arguments very quickly. My penultimate argument was that this legislation would benefit from the delay. If you want to create a better industrial relations climate in this province, then for heaven's sake, I would suggest, be smart enough to take advantage of the opportunity that all the players in the game are giving you. We on this side of the House, the B.C. Federation of Labour, the teachers and everybody else are saying: "We're not declaring war; just talk to us, for heaven's sake. Just talk to us." And it seems to me, frankly, not very bright not to do that.
The last argument, of course, Mr. Speaker: economic effects –– no examination, no evaluation, no explanation. All things considered then, it seems to me the arguments are eminently reasonable, fair and rational as to why this hoist motion should be supported. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. VANT: Mr. Speaker, I speak against this motion to hoist Bill 19, the Labour Relations Reform Act of 1987, but I do recognize that the members opposite probably wish to have this in 1988 or 1989.
I wish to compliment the minister on this Bill 19, which definitely should not be hoisted at this time. I believe it will bring a new degree of stability in industrial relations in our province. It will issue in a new era of labour relations in British Columbia. Indeed, I'm sure it will be a benchmark, a landmark in this province, and it will bring a positive and a peaceful era.
It is the product of open consultation. It was not sprung, as some of the hon. members opposite say, on the people of this province. Indeed, there were engraved invitations inviting briefs, and as the Hon. minister said, he received over 700 briefs.
Also, there were newspaper ads inviting people to these meetings which were held throughout the province with the Hon. minister, the Hon. member for Nelson-Creston (Mr. Dirks) and the hon. member for Chilliwack (Mr. Jansen).
It was not conceived in Alabama. Certain views prevailed as a result of all those open consultations which began away back in January. Of course, the concerns for the rights of the individual, for true democracy in the workplace, have all been addressed in this Bill 19, which certainly should not be hoisted at this time.
Opportunities for choice are addressed: choice for the employees and the workers of our province; choice for the employers –– an informed and a protected public interest.
Bill 19 enables communication to take place. This Bill 19 is very balanced in its approach. So the question I have, especially for the Hon. members opposite is: why hoist the bill at this time? After all, it is springtime. It's time to level the field of industrial relations; to install the goal-posts; to swear in the referee, who has to, yes, blow the whistle once in awhile, but not play the game for the players; also to keep the spectators informed. Because after all, when it comes to industrial relations in our province, the general public has a heavy stake in what happens in industrial labour relations.
Bill 19 should not be hoisted at this time, because it presents a legislative package that is fair and responsible and, I might add, very reasonable. Indeed, when I study the actual legislation, "balanced" is the only word that comes to my mind at this time to describe this bill. It's very balanced for employers, unions, employees; the public will also gain from this legislation.
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The hon. member for Victoria mentions Jim Matkin. I have a good memory, and I know he bad something to do with the legislation back in 1973. If you read the headlines –– and we do have some historical people here, like the hon. second member for Nanaimo, who was bringing up a lot of history in a very eloquent way –– the headlines in 1973 were very similar to the headlines now. It seems that certain people in our society automatically resist change in the status quo. Of course, as has been said in this House in the last couple of days, there have been many amendments to the Labour Code since 1973, so change is not new. I believe sincerely that the public will gain from this legislation, even though I recognize that the members opposite are not too prepared to admit that.
I listened very patiently to the hon. second member for Nanaimo. I don't mind him quoting Milton and Shakespeare and Luther, but like some of the other members he seemed to be kind of a selective editor in referring to the newspapers. I can assure Mr. Speaker and the members in this House, and all those in the gallery at this time, that I am not going to selectively reach for a whole bunch of articles that are very positive about this legislation; you can read the newspapers for yourselves. But I urge you to read the actual legislation. Also, we will look at the details at third reading, clause by clause. There will be ample opportunity for probably very lengthy debate.
This legislation, as I said earlier, is very balanced. It mentions, of course, the employer's offer on the one hand and the union demand on the other. This is what labour relations is all about. The legislation is excellent in that it gives the opportunity for either side to vote on the last position. We as a government have listened carefully to views from unions and employers and ordinary citizens on this proposed legislation. We have tried to fairly strike a balance.
I believe this bill will increase fairness and equity in the workplace and ensure the democratic rights of all British Columbians. From my background as a member of the boilermakers' union, I can speak from firsthand experience. It would appear that yesterday the hon. member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Miller) felt that somehow he had a monopoly on having concerns for the workers of this province. I served as a job steward for the boilermakers' union on many major con struction projects. I too was very concerned about safety on the job, the camp, the working conditions in general. For sure, this legislation is not out to destroy the labour move ment or the union movement. Indeed, when it comes to trade unions, they are a pool of very skilled labour. But I must confess, Mr. Speaker, that when I was a very young man I was fully trained at a vocational school, and I had one heck of a time when I was trying to get on at these construction jobs which were closed-shop, which were right up in the interior where I was born and grew up. I had to come all the way to Vancouver to a union hall to get through that closed-shop gate.
For a while, Mr. Speaker, I was in a catch-22 situation. I knew, because of the policies of the W.A.C. Bennett government in the early sixties and early seventies –– right through that era –– that there were all kinds of pulp mills and oil refineries being constructed in the province, and they were all completely closed-shop. All that work was going on, and I was told at the union gate that I had to have a union card to get a job. I came down to a union hall in Vancouver, and I was told: "Oh, you have to have a job before we can give you a permit to get through the gate." So I had one heck of a time as a young, fully trained tradesman.
Eventually, of course, I got through that barrier; and yes, I joined the union, and I've paid dues ever since. So I know something of what I'm talking about.
But I can say that this legislation before us incorporates a fundamental principle that is essential in a democracy such as ours: the principle of individual rights and freedoms. Because if you leave one person out, in a very real sense you have failed. Protecting the rights and freedoms of the individual employee has become a very important priority, not only in this province but in our whole Canadian society, indeed since the Canadian Charter came into being.
This proposed Industrial Relations Reform Act recognizes and protects these rights in a number of ways, and that is why it should not be hoisted at this time, Mr. Speaker. Also, the right of freedom of speech is reinforced in section 5 of Bill 19. The act also provides some protection against automatic job loss by those who express reasonable dissent on the part of the employee.
Also, there's the vital importance of the secret ballot, which of course we all take for granted in our general elections in this province. But the importance of this cannot be overemphasized when it comes to labour relations. I know that some trade unions in this province have mail ballots for ratification of proposed collective agreements, and I've been at many meetings where it's been simply a show of hands, and there's been no opportunity for a secret ballot. But even in a mail-in ballot, I notice that each and every envelope has a number on it. And although it may not be occurring, it could occur that there is some mechanism of identifying how a particular member of a union does vote, even in those mail-in envelope ballots. So the secret ballot is upheld in this bill.
Of course, the notion of freedom of association is in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It, too, is protected in Bill 19. I could go on, but the few members of the opposition present at this time in the House look a little uncomfortable.
AN HON. MEMBER: How many?
MR. VANT: Oh, there are now four of them.
But we have to keep in mind the rights of the individual. For sure this bill affects many aspects of our society. I believe that first and foremost Bill 19 is concerned with the welfare of the workers. At times, of course, we only hear in the media from the leaders of those workers, but we should never keep out of our minds the concerns of the workers themselves.
I believe, after carefully reading this bill, that it removes alienation between the worker and the employer. In a very real sense, it removes discrimination and it enhances trust between people, no matter what space they find themselves in in this realm of industrial relations.
The ingredients, of course, are manifold, and perhaps hat is why this bill is one that has to be read. I would prefer to read the bill itself rather than to read what other people have said about it, but the ingredients in the bill.... Yes, there is the commissioner. Yes, it appears he has quite a bit of power, but he also has great responsibility to let free collective bargaining take place. As I alluded to earlier, the referee should not enter into the actual playing of the game on that field of labour relations; yet the commissioner has to, at appropriate times, exercise that power to protect the public interest.
The Industrial Relations Council will provide ongoing monitoring of the whole labour relations scene. The disputes
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resolution division has many significant roles to play, as does the other ingredient, the industrial relations adjudication division. All these elements will, I am confident, create the atmosphere for all of us to prosper in this province. We should keep in mind that the labour movement should never, ever attempt to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, or we all suffer. Long strikes and prolonged lockouts do not benefit anyone. There is great benefit in Bill 19 for the worker, for the employer, for the unions, for the public interest. The role of the commissioner, of course, is very critical, and his five-year appointment should give long-term stability to this very important role in enabling this bill to function as it is designed to do, to bring about a peaceful labour relations climate.
Within it, of course, the time-frames are essential. There is one situation where 48 hours is mentioned, and 20 days and 28 days. This is in contrast to the four and one half month IWA strike which cost us so much. When I say "us," I mean the workers, the employers and indeed this province. It was $500 million in lost wages and over $2 billion lost to the whole provincial economy. With long strikes or long lockouts everyone is a loser.
I'd like to mention a little bit too about productivity. I remember about 23 years ago going on the first job, once I finally got through that closed-shop gate at Prince George Pulp. It was the first pulp mill to be built in that city. There was this older fellow who, after I'd been on the job for three or four days, came over to me and said he wanted to talk to me for a minute. He said: "You know, I've been watching you the last few days." Being a fairly new person on the job, I was rather nervous. I thought I was really doing something wrong with the way I was doing the job. He said: "You know, I've been watching you and you've been really working quite hard and quite fast." I said: "Well, I'm enjoying my work and I'm being very careful and the time is going quickly." I was being quite productive.
He said: "Young man, you know you're being paid by the hour, and the longer this job lasts the more money you and I will make." I listened to what he had to say, but believe me I didn't buy it because the reality of the world out there is that we have to compete in a world market and productivity is indeed very essential. But I say that we shouldn't be rushing too much because we have to be safe and careful, especially on a construction job.
As a government, we are not a sit-back government. We keep our promises. Contrary to what the second hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Lovick) said, this bill was based on consultation, and that consultation was not a charade.
MR. BLENCOE: Tell senior citizens that.
MR. VANT: I would speak about senior citizens, but I would be out of order because I wouldn't be speaking to the motion to hoist Bill 19. I will try to stay on track.
No, we are not in any kind of indecent haste regarding this Bill 19. We are proceeding in a reasonable, consultative manner. Indeed, tomorrow I am going to meet a school chum of mine, Mr. Richard Cash, who happens to be the president of the Quesnel District Teachers' Association. I am going to very carefully explain to him the ramifications of Bill 19 and the companion bill, Bill 20, which of course is the primary concern of that gentleman.
AN HON. MEMBER: Will you listen?
MR. VANT: I certainly will be listening and also explaining to him from the proposed legislation itself.
I am also pleased with the amendment to section 9, which provides for the exemption from closed shop of apprentices and trainees. This amendment recognizes the validity of closed-shop agreements, but makes an exception in the case of an employer who wants to hire someone in an apprenticeship or a training capacity. Let's open up those closed shop gates for young people, so they don't have to suffer what I suffered through some 23 years ago in Prince George. The employer will now be free to hire a non-union member in such a training or apprenticeship capacity, and that certainly is in line with the increased funding for the JobTrac program. Of course, it's important to note that the union may still require that apprentice or trainee to become a union member after he or she is hired. This amendment in this Bill 19 simply allows people to get their foot in the door without their lack of union membership acting as a stumbling-block or a barrier in getting the training and the on-the-job experience that they will need for the future.
The industrial relations adjudication division proposed in this bill will maintain the basic structure of the existing Labour Relations Board. It consists of a vice-chairman and an equal number of representatives of employers and employees and support staff. This division, of course, will concentrate on adjudicating legal issues. Its role will be somewhat narrower than that of the present Labour Relations Board. For instance, owing to constructive criticisms presented during these open hearings by both labour and management, the resolution of interest disputes will not be part of this division's responsibilities.
The new dispute resolution division will, among other things, provide mediation assistance, monitor collective bargaining and certainly help employers and unions to reach collective agreements. This, by the way, was in line with proposals presented by the B.C. Federation of Labour and other labour groups. Of course, this division will be staffed by people skilled in the techniques of resolving labour disputes.
For sure, this bill, which should not be hoisted, is a problem-solving bill, and that to me is very good news. Will this bill work? What we have doesn't work all that well when you look at the statistics of man-days lost in this province through labour disputes over the years.
So why not drop your motion to hoist this bill? Why not give this Industrial Relations Reform Act, 1987, a chance?
I'd like to say, too, that the powers of the commissioner as proposed in this legislation are modified somewhat by the executive council and even by this Legislative Assembly. If the executive council is involved in settling a dispute in this province when the Legislature is not sitting, when the Legislature does sit it too will have a look at that settlement and that situation.
Surely the members opposite believe in democracy to the point where they have faith in this Legislature. So, contrary to what the second member for Vancouver East (Mr. Clark) was saying yesterday afternoon, that commissioner's power is modified by input from the executive council and from this Legislative Assembly. So he is not indeed a czar or commissar, as some of the members opposite keep mumbling in my ear.
AN HON. MEMBER: The member is not opposite; he's in that corner.
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MR. VANT: Yes, over in the corner here; right.
I think that as we continue in this debate we should be very serious about addressing the bill itself. There should be no obscure references to Dr. Strangelove. I am sure that if the members would seriously read the act itself, they might understand it. And so I want to say that, overall, this bill should be passed, not post haste, but certainly not six months down the road. After reasonable debate and reasonable third reading, it should be passed, so that people will want to invest here, to live here and raise their families, and to work here in a peaceful, stable climate.
MR. RABBITT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave of the House to make an introduction.
MR. RABBITT: In the member's chamber today 1 am proud to have one of the mayors from our beautiful constituency of Yale-Lillooet, a very capable lady, Her Worship Joyce Harder. Would the House please give her a warm welcome.
MS. A. HAGEN: It is my intent this afternoon to frame some comments on the advisability of hoisting Bill 19 to a period six months from this time.
I would like to outline the points that I plan to make in the course of my comments this afternoon. It has been most interesting to sit through the long and intense presentation of my colleague the second member for Nanaimo (Mr. Lovick) and to hear the comments from the second member for Cariboo (Mr. Vant). 1 want to talk first of all about the issue of policy which we are in fact making with this legislation. I want to examine the climate in which this legislation is being presented and will be debated. Because history very often helps to inform our wise deliberations and wise conduct, I want to take a brief look at some historical perspectives. And practicalities of the debate on this bill are ones that we need to address. I think by that time, Mr. Speaker, my time will probably be up.
I sat for a number of years on a school board, which is a very small kind of legislative body compared to this august place. But one of the things that 1 learned there, and learned very well, is that when one is drafting public policy, one needs to allow time and process for that to take place. One needs at that time to put aside partisanship to some extent and to look at the substance of the policy and the processes that are necessary in order for it to be well crafted and to effectively serve the domain for which it is intended.
We have before us, I think, in this bill from this new government, their very first presentation of a major policy initiative. I want to say, first of all, that I welcome that process and that policy presentation. It's the responsibility of government, and is in fact a process that needs to come early into our deliberations. At the same time, I think all of us know that major legislation, which Bill 19 is, is going to be with us for a long time. When we're looking at legislation that proposes very significant changes in the labour relations processes, and that potentially can affect labour relations climate, it's clear that the time and the deliberation we give to the development of that process is a very important part of our work as legislators.
The hoist motion, in my view, is put forward from that perspective. It is put forward in an enabling way in order for us in this House to work together to develop good policy in this particular field. There is no question, in any of our experience about the development of good policy, that that process involves consultation; the opportunity for extensive input; the opportunity, in fact, to revise, in a process that involves dialogue among the parties and between both sides of this House. After all, policy is a goal. What we're talking about here is not something that is going to be controlled by the strictures of the laws that are encompassed in the legislation, controlled entirely by the due processes that are contained in this legislation, because we're talking about legislation that involves complex working relationships.
This legislation sets forth some goals that the government obviously hopes to achieve; but people will be required to make those goals in practice and to make them achievable. There is no question that the interests of all, both in terms of having their views on the legislation heard and their input considered for reflection and revision, are an essential part of the development of any good legislation.
One of the things I decided to do, Mr. Speaker, in preparing for my consideration of this hoist motion and my own deliberations on it, was to take a look at some perspectives of people who have worked in this field: people outside the political framework, but people who have an interest in a public interest way, which is something the legislation addresses; people who have an interest in having labour legislation work well in this province. I found a most useful book in our library here which 1 would recommend to members on both sides of the House because it is, if you like, a good book to sum up a lot of positions and ideas –– and we're busy people –– and something we can read fairly readily. Called The Labour Code of British Columbia in the 1980's, it's a compilation of the speeches that were presented at the Pacific Institute of Law and Public Policy in 1983 on the tenth anniversary of the passing of the Labour Code in this House. From time to time I'm going to quote from three past chair people of the Labour Relations Board, because I feel that each of those people came to that position –– as we would hope that future people to occupy that position will come –– from a perspective of the public interest, but also with a great deal of knowledge, expertise and commitment to good labour-employer relations within the province, and with a sensitivity to the political aspects of these kinds of relationships and the importance they have for the economy and the working people of the province.
Mr. Don Munroe, one of those past chair people of the Labour Relations Board, made this comment around the policy issue in a short section headed "Obligations of Government":
"I believe there is a solemn obligation on government, a broad obligation to society, to make every effort to ensure that the labour legislation of the day is in the essential interests of everyone. That five-word phrase can be so quickly spoken that the significance of the individual words may be overlooked. Let me repeat it: the essential interests of everyone. That is not an easy obligation to discharge. It is asking politicians to prefer policy over politics. But if it is not met, or at least if there is a perception of failure to try to meet it, great damage can result to the parties immediately affected, to the longevity of respect for the rule of law generally and thus to society as a whole."
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We are dealing with a matter of public interest, and we are looking at the kinds of obligations that we have as legislators as we develop policy. In my view, in order that the interests of all can be heard and considered, and that they can have effect on this development of policy, we need more time.
Let us look just briefly at the history of the legislation that was passed in 1973. That legislation, I might note, was also legislation that was viewed, when first tabled in the House, with some concern by the parties. I'll come back to talking about some of those concerns in a moment when I talk about climate, but I think we have to recognize that when we're dealing with change, we're dealing with the concerns that people affected by our decisions will have. That's a legitimate perspective of people in society, and in fact an appropriate one. Their self-interest and their concern about their own interests and working relationships are a paramount part of our legislation working, once we get it passed.
When the Legislative Assembly began to work on Bill 11 in 1973, the process was a long and clearly signalled one. Six months before the legislation came into the House, the then minister appointed a group of people –– I think they've been called the Three Wise Men, or something of that nature; they were three people who had expertise in the field of labour law –– to go out into the community to listen. I want to acknowledge the work of the Minister of Labour in going out into the community to listen. That's an important part of a minister's work, and in no way do I want to suggest that that is not the kind of thing the minister should be doing. But the minister went out without any kind of framework, without any kind of mandate, except that he wanted to hear everyone's perspective. We have not seen the information that came to him as background material for the legislation. We have no idea what the balance and the bias was. It was not a process that went forward in the context of legislation.
Contrast the process leading up to Bill 11 in '73: six months, and something in the order of 110 briefs developed and presented in open conference as well as in follow-up input to the council who were advisory to the minister. Note, too, that when that particular legislation came into the House, it came in with a fairly long prospectus on the development of the legislative agenda for its passage. It's my understanding that it sat in the House, through a whole range of processes, for almost two months. There was concern, controversy and reaction to that bill. But because the process had been defined, because the process had been accountable and creditable, and because it was open to a wide range of input, there developed around the passage of that bill a consensus that was really quite unique and, in fact, one that remains an exemplary kind of representation of what can happen when major public policy is developed. We should be looking to consensus insofar as that is available to us, and we should be looking to canvass the issues very thoroughly and broadly before we move to the kinds of decisions that are taken with the enshrining of the bill in legislation.
The previous speaker –– with early study of the bill, admittedly –– commented on apprenticeship and the fact that, although an apprentice might work in a union operation without joining that union, once he had completed his apprenticeship, he must become a member of the union. If we read section 9 of the act we find that that person is in fact exempt from union membership, having come in via this particular process.
As we go through the legislation there are dozens of interrelationships. There are many complexities that very significantly change the practice of collective bargaining and change the potential for working relationships between workers and employers. We need to have a good deal of time to examine those clauses, to understand their implication, to consider ways in which they will affect the labour relations work in our province, and to consider the ways in which they will work.
There is no question that the history of labour relations over the last ten years has been founded on legislation that was very carefully crafted. In that legislation a couple of principles were clearly enshrined: the principle of collective bargaining; and the second one, which I think is an important one to note, from the comments of Paul Weiler, the first chairperson of the Labour Relations Board: "The Code reflected a crucial value, the pursuit of labour peace within those units where collective bargaining had been established. This objective was believed to be important, not just for employers but also for the general public, including unionized workers themselves."
So in that goal was both the concern for the two parties — the employer and the employee — and a concern for the public interest, as an essential ingredient in that Code and its development. Every single one of those chair people has said over and over again in their comments about labour legislation that the important issue is one of balance; the important issue is that when the government starts out with any reforms that it plans to carry forward, it will remember how important it is to have the support of the parties for the process. We will not necessarily always have the support of the parties for the substance, because that is the thrust of policy development, and not all people will find satisfaction for their aspirations in that process. But the commitment to the process, the respect for the process, the credibility of that process, is the essential ingredient, without which our legislation will not stand and will not achieve the results which all of us recognize it is our responsibility to try to have it achieve.
Let's look for a moment at the climate in which this legislation is introduced. Let me comment again that the timing of the bill coming to the House is an exciting one for a new government. It is their very first significant piece of legislation, and I think I can accept their concern that it go through a passage quickly so that the stamp of having accomplished a major piece of legislation is something that they can take credit for. But let's remember that in the election timetable, and in the speeches of many people sitting in this House, there was a commitment to a process and a commitment to improve relations between various sectors in the world of work.
By what is done with this legislation, it seems to me, this government may well he known. I've already expressed some concern on other issues about the haste with which certain new initiatives have gone through as they affect some of the social policies of this government. There is already, 1 would submit, some concern in our body politic about the willingness of this government to be open, to engage in consultation, to ensure that there is due process. 1 think it is in this government's interest to recognize that how it proceeds with this bill will have a great deal to do with the way its legislative agenda is achieved. It's a model time. It's a time for this government to show how it is going to operate, and it seems to me that any haste, any failure to consult, any failure to recognize the rights and the input of people throughout the
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province, will rebound against this government in many aspects of its broader legislative agenda.
A number of my colleagues have spoken about the fact that at this time there is significant labour peace in this province and rapprochement in many ways between the parties of organized labour and the employer groups — working relationships that they have voluntarily undertaken and which they have commented about with considerable concern. There is no doubt that both parties recognize the importance of a close working relationship.
There is one labour-strife issue, the IWA strike, which is obviously very much in the minds of people, but I would submit that this legislation would not have assisted in that particular strike. Existing legislation does pertain to skilled people available to participate. What happened in that strike was that there was intervention on many occasions without the kind of skilled expertise that is available through our present Labour Code.
There are practicalities, too, in moving very quickly with this legislation. I've been in touch with my constituency, with people both from the employer and the employee group. None of them has as yet seen the legislation. When they do see it they're going to need to have time for careful study and analysis. They need to have an opportunity to provide input to us as we proceed with our debate. We are looking at very radical changes in how we deal with labour relations in the province. It is obviously worrisome to people in many sectors that there may be unseemly haste, that there may not be time for thorough examination and exploration of the issues. The hoist would allow for that process. It would allow time for a standing committee of the House to meet, and it would allow time for it to travel. Both sides of the House have expressed support for that method of governing our affairs at this particular time.
I want to quote from the words of one of the labour leaders in my riding. I spoke to him today, and I thought he spoke very wisely about the hoist motion, comparing it to very immediate debate and passage of the legislation within the next two or three weeks. I'm happy to name the person: Jess Succamore of CAIMAW. I wrote down his comments, and I think I can fairly accurately quote what Mr. Succamore had to say. He said:
"There seems to be some indecent haste to entrench into law suspect legislation that has not been canvassed. If the legislation is good, it will stand scrutiny. It's important that people in the Legislature hear from all the major participants. If they agree, the legislation will stay, and they should be prepared to listen. 1 have a concern that this legislation may propagate not labour peace but labour discord. Let's have the Legislature take its time, meet with major groups, analyze the major stings that people feel in the legislation, pause for clear-headed thinking. If the Legislature will take such action, I'm convinced that we can in fact arrive at a bill that will be accepted, even if it will not be necessarily one that 1 would like to live with."
I think there is no question that there exists in this province at this time a climate, perhaps fragile, perhaps emerging, that meets some of the needs that this government and people on this side of the House feel are important at this time around the issues of labour legislation. It is a different time from 1973, and there is no question that there are issues that need to be canvassed and addressed. Those issues, however, are ones that are most profound in terms of the next 10 or 15 years in this province.
I have young sons who are growing up in this province, and people in many parts of this House are looking to the opportunities that will be here for a standard of living, for sane and open laws, for the protection not only of the individual rights that people in the opposition speak about but the rights of democracy, the rights of people in lawful organizations and in lawful assembly to make decisions that those kinds of processes are ones that we should not deal with in unseemly haste. It would serve us all well as legislators in this House to acknowledge that that due process can make for better legislation, a better climate.
Mr. Speaker, I have not spoken today to the substance of the bill. There are many issues in this bill that concern me and many issues that I will want to address in later opportunities through second reading and through committee. But I know that it will not in fact be possible for that to be satisfactorily done without an opportunity to hear from employers of all kinds and descriptions, working people from every sector and every part of the province. We cannot do that in the time that we have available, without a broader consultative process.
I would like to just conclude, Mr. Speaker, with some words from Mr. Munroe on the whole role of law as it affects labour relations: "The law does indeed have a role to play in relations between labour and management. It is a role that is at once important and modest. If government appreciates not only the significance but also the limits of the law, and discharges its fundamental obligation to enact laws which are responsive to the legitimate interests of everyone, the rest will be up to the parties."
I think what I want to suggest in my final comment is that any legislation that we develop.... Not only we, the people who sit in this chamber, but a very significant part of our population, who are going to be working with it and dealing with it; it behooves us to listen to them and to give them an opportunity to in fact be heard.
Mr. Speaker, this House would do itself a great service, would do this province a great service, if it showed that it listened. Already we have heard from the parties that they would like us to listen and that they have concerns about the process on which we have embarked. If we can come together in consensus around a process that would allow that dialogue to occur, then the kinds of things that I have seen happen in my school board experience, with seven people sitting around the table, where that consultation and that due process were allowed to occur, can in fact occur in a large province with an august and historic Legislature, and we can in fact pass legislation that we as a Legislature can hopefully come together on in a spirit of cooperation and in a good climate for our province in the future.
I would urge the members on all sides of the House to support the hoist motion.
MR. CHALMERS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate today. But I must say that I am saddened that we have to speak against a hoist motion, because there are a good many people out there in British Columbia today who are looking for jobs, and the economic well-being of this province and the economic recovery that we all strive for hinges a great deal on the legislation that is before this House.
So I would urge all members of this House to allow the rapid passing of the Industrial Relations Reform Act. The bill
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must pass soon, and 1 am going to do my part by keeping my comments very brief today. Talking about brevity, 1 would like to congratulate the member for Nanaimo. It is a real talent and an art to deliver a ten-minute speech in two hours. 1 would congratulate him for that.
I speak about the economic recovery, and 1 speak of that with some experience, because prior to entering provincial politics I had the pleasure of spending some five or six years as chairman of the economic development commission for the central Okanagan regional district. During that time we worked very hard to try and attract industry to that area, and we would invite companies and individuals to visit the Okanagan. 1 am sure that anybody who has visited that area would agree that there would be no finer place to live and to establish a business.
[Mrs. Gran in the chair.]
But if people came from outside the province, they had always heard of the labour reputation that British Columbia had. I was going to say "enjoyed," but that is not really the right term to use. If it wasn't number one on their list of concerns, it was certainly in the top three. In fact, I can remember well a conversation that I had the president of a very large company from eastern Canada who was involved in the food-processing business, one we would like to have in our area because a lot of fruit and other food products are produced in our area. He told me in no uncertain terms that he would not invest a nickel in British Columbia as long as we had our existing Labour Code. If any of us have heard that story once, we've heard it a hundred times, I'm sure. Many people were concerned about coming to British Columbia because of our labour climate and the existing Code that we had.
The people of British Columbia have been telling us that for some time. I'm sure the members opposite have heard those same stories, although it may not be in their best interests to tell them here. It's easy to blame somebody — the unions or management. I guess it's fun to do that sometimes. But I think most of people in this province don't really care whose fault it is. They're seeing that the system we're working with today simply does not work. It's as simple as that. We had to find a better way. I knocked on a lot of doors during the campaign last fall, and I heard the story time after time that something must be done about the labour climate, about the Labour Code, in British Columbia, and we're here to do something about that. That better way has to be found.
That's why the Minister of Labour traveled the length and the breadth of this province with two of my colleagues from the back benches. They listened and received over 700 written and oral briefs. That's consultation. They didn't just listen to management. They didn't just listen to labour leaders. They listened to schoolteachers who were asking for full bargaining rights. They talked to small business people. They talked to workers. They listened to and heard from private citizens who had had enough of what was going on in this province. It had to change, and they were all asking for that change. So after careful consideration and much consultation, the Minister of Labour and his committee passed a set of recommendations on to the cabinet for their consideration. The result, of course, is the legislation that I would say must be passed very soon.
Some would say that we haven't gone far enough with the legislation. I've heard that many times from many people in the last few days. There are others who say that we've perhaps gone too far. We've read that in the newspapers and we've heard it here in the House. But we must look at the package as a whole. It's good legislation, and I for one am very proud of the new Minister of Labour for the job he has done. It may surprise some of the members on my side of the House, but there are members of the media out there who are perhaps less than supportive of this government. There are members of the media out there who have been, I would say, perhaps somewhat left of centre in their political views. We have such a newspaper in our riding, and I had an opportunity to talk to the editor just yesterday. That editor has been less than complimentary to this government for some time. He has always spoken out for the working people.
I talked to him yesterday to see what his reaction was. He said that the reaction that he has been getting in Kelowna was predictable from all sides, from chamber of commerce, from business and from labour leaders. But he intended to write an editorial saying that it was good legislation and that we should give it an opportunity to work. I agree with him. We should give it the opportunity to work, because it addresses some of the major problems: the problem of democracy for the man or the woman on the shop floor, the worker that the union leaders say they've been protecting, but sometimes we wonder.
We've all heard about the ballot boxes marked "yes" and "no." We've all heard the stories about the union members who in the past have been afraid to speak out against the union leaders.
MR. MILLER: Where?
MR. CHALMERS: You well know the stories, my friend. They've been afraid to speak out against their leaders because they've been told they could possibly lose their membership card. And when the condition of employment is holding a card in that union or association, it's no surprise to any of us that they are afraid to speak out. This legislation says "no" to all of that anti-democratic behaviour. It's good legislation, Madam Speaker, and it must be passed, and passed soon.
One of the members opposite just yesterday said that there was an anti-worker bias on the government side of the House. We want to give the worker his basic democratic rights through this bill, and we're called anti-worker? I wonder. The opposition House Leader gave a most entertaining speech yesterday. I always enjoy listening to him. But he said something that really troubled me. He said that we were trying to beat back the standard of living of the worker by passing this new labour legislation.
I'd like to relate a story to the members of the House. Last fall, while the IWA dispute was underway, I had the pleasure of riding on a plane to Vancouver with a chartered accountant who has an office in Vancouver. His specialty was trusteeship in bankruptcy, and he was most concerned at that particular moment because he had over 60 files on his desk of individuals who were declaring personal bankruptcy, all because of the strike-lockout happening at that time. Because of the long delay and the fact that they weren't earning that much-needed paycheque, 60 people were losing all that they had and had worked for. So who are we concerned about when the opposition talks about the fact that we have an anti-worker bias?
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What about those people? What about the people who lost their homes, their automobiles and all that they had worked for all those years because there was no simpler way to end those kinds of disputes? What about the small businessman and his employees who were suffering during that time?
I know of a situation in my riding where an individual who has been involved in the logging industry for many years, who was a very successful logging contractor, tried to start another business in our area based on cash flow from the logging industry. His people wanted to work, but because the major lumber companies were shut down through the dispute, his people were not able to work. It not only affected his employees, it also affected his ability to start a new business in the Okanagan that would employ another 75 people. That kind of thing is a direct result of these prolonged disputes that must end.
We're saying for the first time that the interests of innocent third parties in B.C. must be considered. We must consider the general public. We on this side care about the people of British Columbia. This legislation will work, if all of the parties involved want it to work. Let's get British Columbia moving again. I would urge everyone to see the early passing of the Industrial Relations Reform Act.
MR. JONES: It's a pleasure to speak to this amendment to extend the life of this debate so that the Industrial Relations Reform Act can have some time to be considered in this province, so that there's adequate consultation with the people whom this Legislature is here to serve.
This is my third opportunity to speak to the House. The first opportunity was, I felt, a chance to tell members of this House something of my riding, its background and its problems. The second was an opportunity to debate some aspects of the budget that I was concerned about. This opportunity I see as a plea on my part to try to persuade the government of this province to give a little more time for full consideration of this legislation. I think there are many good arguments, Madam Speaker, that can be presented in favour of such an extension.
I would suggest that such an extension would restore faith in our democratic system. An extension would be beneficial to this province, because I believe this legislation is based on some false premises and some misunderstandings. I believe, too, that an extension would be beneficial because this is radical legislation. It is a radical reform act, and I think it needs time for consultation. I think we can also argue on this side of the House that there is no real need to rush such legislation, and that there is also a danger that without that consultation there will be turmoil and confusion in this province.
I know that all members present on both sides of the House believe profoundly in our democratic institutions. I know many of the people in this House make tremendous sacrifice to take their seats here. I know we all believe in the electoral process. We go before the people, we point out to them our goals and aspirations for the future, and we allow the people to vote. We saw in the last election how the people spoke, and I think all members fully accept the fact that we have a government and that the government has a right to bring in legislation. However, as politicians in this province we must be very careful. We are being judged, and I think there is a concern by all members that we need improvement in our stature in the public eye. We're being judged on how our words match our deeds, and it's very important to make sure that when we do pronounce words the people believe us. On both sides of the House politicians are being judged, whether they're government or not, on how their words match their deeds.
We're dealing with a debate at this point. On this side of the House we're saying: "Give this bill a little more time. Let it settle in the minds of the public." On the other side of the House it's being said: "We believe in this legislation. It's good legislation. Let's run with it. Let's give it a chance." I would like to suggest some words to you, and perhaps members present could try to decide which side of the debate that falls on. Which side would say: "We promised an open and accessible style of government that responds to the needs of the people"? Which side would say: "We will listen, consult, and lead by example, saying what we mean and doing what we say"? Which side of the argument would fall to the side that says: "We will seek cooperation and develop policies and programs to strengthen our province and provide security for our people"? Which side would say: "Good government does not work behind closed doors"? Which side would say: "Our words and our intent will be matched by action"? Which side would say: "We will seek answers and solutions from all, because there is no monopoly on good ideas or constructive proposals"? Which side would say: "My government will increase involvement in decision-making in and outside this Legislature"? Which side would say: "As a priority, my government will expand the number and roles of all party committees of this assembly, and we will ask all members to become more involved in the business of our parliament"? 1 would suggest, Madam Speaker, that the side that those arguments represent is this side of the House. We are arguing for an opportunity for the implementation of the kind of promises that were made in the opening speech of this Legislature.
We often hear the term "good government," particularly from the other side of the House. I think it is probably agreed there that good government governs less and empowers the people to help govern themselves. I suggest that a hoist motion will do that. I think that although the government has a mandate to bring in this legislation, it would have a bigger mandate if it does as it says and brings in such good legislation that it can sell it to the people. When the government says that they do not have a monopoly on good ideas, I think that would be agreed by all. I think there are wrinkles. There are problems with this legislation that could benefit by a more thorough analysis by the people of this province. I think that if the members opposite believe so strongly in this legislation, they will let it stand the test of public scrutiny. I think they will allow the Legislature of this province to be assisted by the people in putting forward their ideas on this very profound change in our legislation.
I suggested too that this legislation was based on certain misunderstandings and certain false premises. In introducing the legislation, the minister said: "However, because school principals and vice-principals are assigned significant management responsibilities, and in accordance with the resolutions passed at the BCTF's annual general meeting, we have recognized their special labour relations status." Well, if that is the premise on which part of this legislation was brought in, I would like to debate that.
I have taken the trouble to find all the resolutions that were passed at the last annual general meeting of the B.C. Teachers' Federation, and I can find nothing that supports the Labour minister's contention.
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The Labour minister might argue that there was some contention, particularly in the last few years, between administrators of our school system and the B.C. Teachers' Federation. It's centred around primarily one piece of policy of that body that said that the differential between the salary of classroom teachers and those of administrators should be smaller and therefore more realistic. At this last annual general meeting, it's my understanding that that motion was deleted and was transferred to another statement that made it much more acceptable to the principals of this province.
I would like to go through the other resolutions dealt with and approved at that annual general meeting that I think show a tremendous misunderstanding on the part of the Minister of Labour as far as principals, vice-principals and the B.C. Teachers' Federation go.
Recommendation 29 approved at that annual general meeting said: "That the following policy statement be added to section 20 of the Members' Guide: (a) that all principal teachers are teachers first; thus their primary responsibility lies with the teaching profession, as does that of any teacher." How anybody could take from that the idea of separation, I do not know. Part (b) of that same resolution said that "principal teachers have some specific legal responsibilities different from those of other teachers."
Recommendation 31, also approved by that annual general meeting, said: "That statements 1.A.21 and 1.A.27 be deleted and replaced by: That local associations be encouraged to negotiate with their school boards a process for the appointment of administrators that includes the involvement of local associations, school staff and school community representatives."
Recommendation 32 was also approved by that annual general meeting. It read: "That statement 1.A.23 be amended to read: That school administrators and other personnel supervising instruction, either at the school district or school level, should average at least one-fifth time in the classroom over a five-year period." That hardly suggests the need for a separation of administrators or principal-teachers and the teaching force.
Recommendation 34 was also approved. It read: "That statement 4.F.14 be amended to read: That the responsibilities of the principal as specified in the School Act apply equally to all principals; therefore, there should be only one scale of administrative allowances for the principals of a school district, with the placement on the scale determined by experience and student enrolment."
Recommendation 43 also affected principals. It suggested that prior to withdrawal of services, local associations make specific provisions in regard to the safety of the children and the security of the school plant — hardly a suggestion for a need for separation there as well.
Let me read one more recommendation that was approved by that annual general meeting and that again argues against the premises on which this bill was brought in. Recommendation 43 read:
"That prior to withdrawal of services, local associations make specific provisions in regard to the safety of the children and the security of the school plant.
" 1. In the event that a withdrawal of services is approved either provincially or locally, the local association shall authorize the principal of each school to provide service to the school district on the first day of the withdrawal, so as to provide for the safety of students and security of school premises.
"2. The executive committee of the local association, in consultation with the principals, shall be authorized to extend the above service for up to two additional days of a withdrawal of service.
"3. In schools of over 500 students, the local association shall designate an additional person to assist the principal to provide the service specified in No. 1.
"4. No member of the federation shall provide, nor arrange for, any instructional services during the period of the withdrawal."
These are the recommendations approved at the B.C. Teachers' Federation annual general meeting. How, from that, the Minister of Labour can suggest that this bill was brought in to accomplish the desires of the principals and vice-principals of this province, I have no idea. I'm suggesting that this legislation was brought in upon misunderstandings and false premises, and that therefore there does need to be more time for full consultation with the public, to clear up these misunderstandings.
I think what's happened also is the suggestion in the press that the teachers got everything they want and that the trustees are happy with this. My understanding of the presentation to the Minister of Labour is that there were four major points that the teachers and the trustees agreed upon in their presentation to him. They did want inclusion in the Labour Code; they wanted the scope of bargaining expanded; they wanted an end to the CSP; and they did want full collective bargaining rights, including the right to strike. Those four were agreed to by both the B.C. Teachers' Federation and the B.C. School Trustees' Association. However, when they were talking about the Labour Code, they were talking about the Labour Code as they understood it. There was a misunderstanding. I1 wonder if they would still feel the same way now. When they talked about an end to CSP, I think they meant an end to CSP — not an end to only part of it and leaving the ability-to-pay part in there. When they talked about the right to strike, I don't think they talked about the kind of situation we see now under the Industrial Relations Reform Act. I don't think they talked about the right to strike under a labour relations superbody.
Some are suggesting that God is going around under the illusion that he is Ed Peck. Teachers have not got all they have asked for. There has been the suggestion that these acts restore professionalism to the teaching body. I think all members in their maiden speeches praised the teaching profession and didn't suggest at that time that it needed restoring, and I think that's an insult to the teachers of this province.
What has happened with this bill is an actual loss of professional autonomy over the methods of instruction and over the techniques and materials that are going to be used in that instruction. The result is a de-skilling and a de-professionalism of teachers.
There are misunderstandings in this legislation that need time to get clarified, 1 think, both on the government side and on the public side. Not only do we need some time to consider this legislation, to restore faith in our democratic system and to clarify the misunderstandings that this legislation is premised on; we also need time because this is not just an ordinary piece of legislation. This legislation is going to be with us for a long time.
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MR. JONES: And it is radical legislation — there's no question that it's radical legislation.
This kind of legislation that separates the right brain from the left brain as far as teaching associations go has been tried in other provinces. The idea for this came a few years back, I believe, with the Council of Ministers of Education. It was tried in Alberta — I believe in 1981 — and it was sent back. It did not succeed in Alberta. In fact, the Alberta Teachers' Association has sent a message to the B.C. Teachers' Federation suggesting that the Alberta Teachers' Association affirm the principle that occupational groups have a right to choose their own organizational structure and expressing its support for the teachers of British Columbia in their struggle to maintain the B.C. Teachers' Federation as a unified professional organization in the face of the blatant efforts of the government to destroy that collective right; and further, that the provincial executive council be authorized to allocate up to $100,000 from the special emergency reserve to assist the BCTF with legal costs associated with their fight of this legislation. It was tried in Alberta, and it was unsuccessful there.
It was also tried in Ontario, and I think the Ontario situation is totally analogous to this one. I would like to point out what happened in the Legislature of Ontario under Premier William Davis, November 24, 1983: "Is the Premier saying he will not proceed with the college of teachers without the agreement of the Ontario Teachers' Federation? Is that what he is saying?" The Premier responded: "If the member really believes — and I do not think there is a teacher in this province who believes it — that we would unilaterally construct a college of teachers without the enthusiastic support of the profession in this province, then he is more naive than I think he is." The response was:
"What the Premier has just said is extremely important. He may not be aware of it, but every teachers' organization in the province is convinced that the college of teachers scheme as outlined by the Minister of Education is something she is determined to press ahead with, and there is a real danger of her getting the ear of cabinet for a proposal that is literally anathema to every single teachers' organization in the province.
"For the benefit of the record, I would like to ask the Premier if he is prepared to state categorically... that he will not proceed with any scheme that is unacceptable to the teachers' organizations of this province."
The Premier responded by saying:
"If the member wants my assurance that this government intends no major change of that nature — and that would be a major change; I think we all acknowledge that — without the enthusiastic endorsation of the teaching profession in this province — if he wishes me to say, as I thought I had already said, we would not, then. I am saying no, we would not introduce a change of this significance and importance without the support of the teaching profession. I say that unhesitatingly, because it is the reality. I will repeat what I said. We will not plan a change of this significant nature without the enthusiastic support of the professional teachers of this province. Can I say it any more clearly?"
It's clearly the fact that we're dealing with Bill 19 here, which separates a major function of the B.C. Teachers' Federation. We had identical legislation defeated in Alberta and Ontario, because those governments were willing to listen to the people. We're suggesting at this time that this legislation will be around for a long time, and six months' delay in the implementation of that legislation is not a great deal to ask.
This legislation does, as has been suggested, impact seriously upon an institution in this province, an institution that has existed probably since before the father of anybody in this room was born — over 70 years. The B.C. Teachers' Federation has operated under legislation. Under that legislation they have spoken out for teachers. They've spoken out for the teachers' economic welfare. They've spoken out for their development as professionals so they can do a better job in the classroom. They've spoken out for the conditions under which those teachers operate, which benefit both the teachers and the students in this province. They've spoken out for a school system that provides for a quality education system so the students can be better prepared for the future and the parents can be more satisfied with the product that they are getting. And yes, in order to stand up for those rights of teachers, students and parents, that organization has been political. It has disagreed with government.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
However, I think members opposite should recall what happened in Alberta and in Ontario, and provide an opportunity for a second look at this legislation. Let's not waste 70 years of expertise and good personnel practices, and good employer-employee relations, and the ability and the skills to develop the conditions necessary for good education to take place in this province. Let's not throw away 70 years of experience in professional development.
The suggestion that we split these bills and split the B.C. Teachers' Federation is a radical proposal. It is so radical that there is no teachers' organization in the world that is so split. It has been tried. The radical nature of that has been seen, and it's been pulled back. It's my hope that members opposite, because they believe in this and are confident that it is good legislation, will provide a test for the public, to give the government a chance to sell their program.
I think there is a valuable lesson here, and I hope both sides of the House learn something from this legislation. I think that after the next election, when members opposite sit on the opposition benches, they can quote me on this: that we learned through this exercise not to ram radical legislation, legislation that is profoundly changing the nature of our province, down the throats of the people; that when we do that, we have confidence in that legislation, are willing to believe in our legislation and go out to the people and sell it. I challenge the members opposite to do that. They believe in this legislation, they think it's good legislation, and they are good at selling. They are good at packaging; they are good at making words. Let's see if the people of this province will believe them, if they can sell it to the people of this province.
My suggestion was that all members present learn from this legislation, and we were talking about from now on and the future. I said I could be quoted on that when we form the government after the next election. I suggested that a hoist can restore faith in our democratic system, clear up the misunderstandings on which this legislation was made, and
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give people an opportunity to understand this legislation, because it is radical and complex.
I would also suggest that there is no need to rush this legislation. In his remarks on this legislation yesterday, the first member for Boundary-Similkameen (Mr. Hewitt) said something that I think is important. It tells me that we do need some time. That member said: "When I looked at this legislation the first time around, I had some difficulty as well." This is a very experienced member of this House, and he had difficulty with the legislation. People in the public are not used to looking at this kind of thing, and I think we want an opportunity for them to review— to appreciate the good parts of it, if there are good parts, and to criticize those parts that need changing. That member also said:
"To be quite honest with you, I had difficulty with regard to the teachers' right to strike, because I felt that teachers have a responsibility as a profession because of their line of work: to provide our young people with an education. To have a work stoppage in an education system is of great concern to me, because the one who suffers most is the child. So I had difficulty...." — with the bill."
The bill is there. It is complex and it is confusing and it is radical. 1 think we want to give the public a chance for the public interest, which the government says it speaks for. I want all members of the province to have a chance to comment.
He goes on to say: "But then I read the bill further and in more detail, and I found the main thrust was very positive.... Let's give the members of the public that opportunity to review the bill. It does take time, and I think a six-month extension for consideration of this legislation is not a lot to ask.
The Premier said he would give the labour movement a few days to reconsider. Why a few days? What is going to happen in a few days? As for the teacher bargaining legislation, it won't come into effect until July 1988. There's lots of time to review this, at least for that part of the legislation. If it is balanced legislation that does not favour one side or the other, if it does represent all the people in a fair and equitable manner, if it does allow for individual rights, if it is going to bring harmony to our province and reduce conflict, if it is going to benefit the economy, if it is going to reflect the labour side, the management side and the public side, then let's give it a chance to be tested in the public. Let's get out there and sell it if it is going to do all these things. If it does provide leadership, if it is going to provide a creative dispute resolution mechanism, and if it is going to create a new climate in our labour management relations, then let's give it some time. Let's give some time for the people to review it. Let's give time for people to be consulted on this very important change.
I've been told that this session of the House will be remembered for this labour legislation. I thought perhaps it might be my maiden speech or my speech on the budget, but in fact it is going to be this labour legislation that this House is going to be remembered for. Let's make sure that we're doing the right thing. Let's give it a little time in order to do that.
I'm also concerned that there is — and I think the members opposite have seen signs already — the potential for tremendous turmoil and confusion in the public. I think a lot of that has to do with the process — the process of taking a piece of legislation that people don't understand, and saying this is going to be the law and you have to live under it, whether it's right or it's wrong, because we believe it's good for you. I think the process is wrong. I don't think we want to see the kind of turmoil that existed in 1983 happen in 1987.
People are confused. I've talked to teachers; I've talked to parents; I've talked to trustees; I've talked to principals; I've talked to faculty of education people. There is tremendous confusion out there, and concern. We've seen strike votes being taken already by the teachers. I agree with the member for Boundary-Similkameen: that's the last thing we want to see in this province.
It is a complex bill, and it does have wrinkles. The Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. Brummet) tried to correct one of those wrinkles yesterday with his press release. We have seen the headlines: "BCTF Takes Direct Hit But Pledges A Battle"; "Teachers' Group To Fight Provincial College Plan"; "Teachers Ready to Hit Bricks Over Code"; "BCTF Leader Vows to Fight Legislation." I think we've seen it from a variety of sectors — not only from teachers, not only from labour leaders, but also from the business community. There is the potential for tremendous confusion and turmoil as a result of this legislation.
I'd like, in the few minutes remaining, to comment on some comments that were made by my colleague from Burnaby-Edmonds yesterday that I am concerned about. He was talking about teachers. He was saying it's time they used their imagination; they should be more creative. He was suggesting that this is a great opportunity for the 90 percent of the teachers who are dedicated and an effective way of dealing with the other 10 percent. Well, I'm amazed at a member, speaking on behalf of the government, suggesting that 10 percent of our teachers are dragging the rest down, and that they need dealing with. I think that's an insult to the teaching profession. I hope members opposite, who praised the teaching profession in their maiden speeches, will admonish that member.
MR. SPEAKER: I regret to inform the member his time has elapsed.
HON. MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, 1 rise to speak against this motion to hoist and in support of this strong legislation that protects individual rights in the workplace. I'd like to explain my views to this House, and I'd like to do so at the next sitting. At this time I'd like to move adjournment of this debate until the next sitting of the House.
Hon. Mr. Strachan moved adjournment of the House.