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Real Estate Amendment Act, 1987 (Bill 41). Hon. Mr. Couvelier
Introduction and first reading –– 1949
B.C. Enterprise Corporation. Ms. Marzari –– 1949
Handling of contracts by Premier's office. Mr. Williams –– 1949
Televising of debates. Mr. G. Hanson –– 1950
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Mr. Miller –– 1950
Small forestry companies. Mr. Kempf –– 1950
Engineers Amendment Act, 1987 (Bill 23). Committee stage. (Hon. S. Hagen) –– 1951
Hon. Mr. Strachan
Mr. R. Fraser
Industrial Relations Reform Act, 1987 (Bill 19). Third reading. (Hon. L. Hanson) –– 1953
Hon. L. Hanson
Committee of Supply: Ministry of Environment and Parks estimates.
(Hon. Mr. Strachan)
On vote 29: minister's office –– 1962
Appendix –– 1974
The House met at 2:06 p.m.
MR. PELTON: On your behalf, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the House to welcome to the chamber today your beautiful wife, Yvonne, your son Christopher, and Yvonne's mother, Mrs. Elvina Heath.
MR. LOVICK: Mr. Speaker, I recognize in the gallery today a very dear friend of mine and of the other member from Nanaimo: Mr. Herb Bibbs. I would ask the House to join me in making him welcome.
Introduction of Bills
REAL ESTATE AMENDMENT ACT, 1987
Hon. Mr. Couvelier presented a message from His Honour the Administrator: a bill intituled Real Estate Amendment Act, 1987.
HON. MR. COUVELIER: Mr. Speaker, this is a housekeeping bill. It provides the capacity to the real estate industry to create a body to be called the Real Estate Errors and Omissions Compensation Corporation for the purposes of self-insurance against errors and omissions liability. It all relates to that particular function.
Bill 41 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.
B.C. ENTERPRISE CORPORATION
MS. MARZARI: This is a question to the Premier, Mr. Speaker. British Columbia Enterprise Corporation is about to sell massive quantities of land on behalf of the province. It was announced at the beginning of this session. Is the company yet incorporated?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: I will take the question as notice and refer it to the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy).
MS. MARZARI: Is the British Columbia Enterprise Corporation actively doing business at this point in time?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Again, I will take the question as notice, and more detail will be provided by the Minister of Economic Development.
MS. MARZARI: Does the British Columbia Enterprise Corporation require legislation to make it legal?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Yes, there will be legislation forthcoming.
MS. MARZARI: The Premier advised this House that the directors of the British Columbia Enterprise Corporation would be making disclosures. Have they made disclosures thus far?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: I have not seen these, and I certainly don't have that knowledge. I will take the question as notice.
MS. MARZARI: For some time now we have been under the impression that serious and long-lasting decisions were going to be made on the lands. In Vancouver particularly. June 11 was when we were promised some notification. Who is doing this business? Who is conducting the business at this moment?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: The Ministry of Economic Development, and the B.C. Development Corporation is certainly functioning.
HANDLING OF CONTRACTS
BY PREMIER'S OFFICE
MR. WILLIAMS: To the Premier, with respect to other matters. Contracts all go through the Premier's office now. Can the Premier advise what expertise his staff have for dealing with all of the forestry contracts that are going through his office?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Not all contracts go through the office. It's contracts dealing with personnel and involving $500 or more.
MR. WILLIAMS: With respect to checking seedling plantations, matters like that go through the Premier's office. All of these have been frustrated. They should have been approved by the beginning of May to carry out the work, but they weren't approved until recently. So the work has been totally frustrated in terms of employment and necessary activity in the field. Has the Premier reconsidered this incredible centralization of activity in his office which is frustrating reasonable action throughout the province at the moment?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: It's certainly a responsible approach to governing: assuring that all contracts are carefully reviewed and reasons provided for these contracts. I'm sure the people of British Columbia are grateful that we have such a mechanism.
MR. WILLIAMS: And we certainly appreciate the faith you have in your Minister of Forests, Mr. Premier.
To the Minister of Forests: last night on TK Radio he indicated that the value of those jobs on Lyell Island and the timber total some $55 billion over 50 years. Could the minister confirm those figures that he gave to Mr. Blaine Grengazny last night"
HON. MR. PARKER: If you take a figure of 250,000 metres, which is approximately the reduction of the allowable annual cut for the tree-farm licence....
HON. MR. PARKER: I think we've left the windows open again, because I hear a seagull.
If you take the 250,000 metres annual allowable cut — and an annual allowable cut in this province is a cut in perpetuity — and you take $200 a cubic metre, which is the
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economic value to the province, it works out to approximately $50 million a year. If you go out for maybe half a rotation age of 50 years — it's simple arithmetic; it should be for some people — at bank prime it works out to approximately $55 billion.
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the minister doesn't understand that economists discount over time; they don't add over time. So these numbers should all be discounted by the interest rate.
If the minister really thinks that those 70 jobs on Lyall Island are worth $50 billion, then why doesn't the minister offer to buy Ottawa?
HON. MR. PARKER: We might just do that one day, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, if we lived in Hull, I imagine we would see better than $100 million go for a museum in Hull.
We're talking numbers. We hear a lot of braying and carrying on, but I haven't seen too many jobs created by economists. The people who are cutting that timber are creating $200 per cubic metre worth of economic activity in this province, and when you take $50 million every year for 50 years, it goes on and on and on; that's the value to British Columbia. The people across the way and a lot of people who have no hands on in South Moresby, such as those from Toronto, Ottawa, points east and west, seem to think we should give away our province at their bidding. I don't believe in that. I'm standing for the resources of British Columbia to be used by the people of the province to create wealth and jobs in British Columbia, and I'll continue to do that.
TELEVISING OF DEBATES
MR. G. HANSON: My question is to the Provincial Secretary and relates to letting the people of the province witness firsthand the heavy mental candlepower that sits across from us in this chamber; it relates to television in this assembly. Earlier this year the government advertised for proposals for installation of a television system in this assembly. Has the government decided on a system?
HON. MR. VEITCH: I believe that matters dealing with the assembly — and that includes television — are better addressed to the Board of Internal Economy. You have representation on that board as well. To my knowledge, a system hasn't been decided upon at this time.
MR. G. HANSON: A supplementary to the minister. All members of this chamber, and certainly all members of the public, are interested in this matter because they would like to witness firsthand the proceedings in this House. I think my question addresses this. Will the government give an undertaking to this House that the system will be available by this fall?
HON. MR. VEITCH: Again, you have jurisdictions that deal with things, and you have a jurisdiction that is set up to deal with matters pertaining to what happens in this House, benefits, stipends and a whole host of other things: the Board of Internal Economy. You ought to address the question to that board, of which I happen to be one member.
MR. G. HANSON: Supplementary to the Premier. The Premier has declared publicly to the people of the province that television will be provided. Will he give an undertaking to this House that a system will be in place for this fall?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, all the information is being gathered now. Until we have all the facts and find out what the options are with respect to the installation and the cost, no decision will be made.
CANADIAN IMPERIAL BANK OF COMMERCE
MR. MILLER: My question is to the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations. Mr. Minister, once again the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has deserted a small town by announcing the closure of their branch in Hudson's Hope. Could the minister advise what steps he has taken to ensure that there will be a financial institution serving the people in that community and the surrounding area?
HON. MR. COUVELIER: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the fact that the chartered bank has made that announcement, and I am also aware that there is a high degree of community interest in the subject. Unfortunately, these kinds of decisions are frequently made by others far away from the province. Certainly the viability of the communities so affected is something that concerns us all.
As a consequence of discussions with the hon. member, we are examining closely the possibility of reactivating a branch of the local credit union in the area, with a view to ensuring that the citizens receive an adequate level of financial service. As of this point in time, I don't have any specific progress to report, other than that discussions are ongoing, and hopefully a solution will be found in the near future.
MR. MILLER: Despite the amendments to the Corporation Capital Tax Act, which in effect gave the chartered banks about a $6 million break this fiscal year, the CIBC particularly is not serving the needs of rural British Columbia. Would the minister advise the House whether or not he has decided to review the province's maintaining the CBIC as their bank of record, in view of their failure to serve the people of this province?
HON. MR. COUVELIER: Mr. Speaker, the contractual arrangements we enter into with various financial institutions are a subject of constant review. We are monitoring events, and we certainly have made our views known in terms of the parochial interest we see and are desirous of obtaining when it relates to B.C.'s financial infrastructure. So the loss of any kind of activity, even at the local level, is something that troubles us. To suggest, however, that that is the only chip on the table is a simplification. Suffice it to say that we are cognizant of the problem, we believe we can find a made-in-B.C. solution to it, and we're working to that end.
SMALL FORESTRY COMPANIES
MR. KEMPF: A question to the Minister of Forests and Lands. Last week the minister was quoted by the Smithers Interior News, when speaking of the small business program in the forest industry, as saying: "Small business operations are less efficient and more wasteful. The small company shows less commitment toward reforestation than the larger
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companies. It just cuts and leaves." My question is: what evidence does the minister have to back such allegations?
HON. MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I guess some 22 years in the industry.
MR. KEMPF: Is the minister, in his apparent dislike for small operators, going to use this philosophy to continue to deny the little guy, the small entrepreneur, the real British Columbian, a place in the province's forest industry?
HON. MR. PARKER: This ministry has never denied small business and won't be denying small business. Those are concerns that I have, as far as small business is concerned. That's the sort of thing that requires a fairly substantial manning level at the district office level, because with the small business enterprise program, the licensee does not have to build his access. He doesn't have to look after his reforestation; that's the ministry's responsibility. Hence the opportunity to cut and to leave, which is what I told the reporter, and which is what he reported. If there is such a concern by this member across the hall that small business has been left in the lurch, I'd like to know why it wasn't dealt with several months ago.
Orders of the Day
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Committee on Bill 23, Mr. Speaker.
ENGINEERS AMENDMENT ACT, 1987
The House in committee on Bill 23; Mr. Pelton in the chair.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Mr. Chairman, can I advise the committee that for purposes of the committee stage of this bill, the government will be represented by the first member for Vancouver South (Mr. R. Fraser), who has intimate knowledge of this bill and of the professional engineers' association.
On section 1.
MS. MARZARI: I somewhat expected that the government side would present a resume of the bill and generally do an overview of it. But since we are directly into section 1, I will address that.
The opposition side has, for some time, looked forward to this bill, as have the professional engineers. There is no difficulty with the vast majority of this bill; in fact, there is not a great deal of difficulty with the entire bill, as it does for the engineers what they have been asking for some years — amendments to their act which would bring them into the latter half of the twentieth century, provide them with a stiffer disciplinary procedure and provide them and the public with some accountability in their structure.
However, it has come to our attention in the last month or so — and we feel that this should not be allowed to go — that the association of technicians and technologists feels very strongly that the engineers are establishing for themselves what most professions establish: a closed shop. I don't think it is the intention of this side of the House to interfere with a profession's self-definition. In fact, this is something that we see the government side doing, and we do not necessarily want to go along with government telling professions how they should and should not practise, as long as they are indemnified and as long as they have provisions to do professional work which protect the public as well as their own interest.
Our concern here, however, is that there are 5,000 trained technicians and technologists in this province who have their own act, established in 1985, which gives them, in their eyes, some claim to the possibility of being included in the professional engineering act. Our side of the House wants to look at this more closely. The opposition would like to think that many new fields, many new specializations, are growing in engineering which need serious consideration.
It is our suggestion, therefore, that the act go ahead, but that section 1 of the act, which deals with definition, be stood down until such time as the Minister of Advanced Education and Job Training (Hon. S. Hagen) can sit down with both the technicians and technologists and the professional engineers, and come up with some more complete definition of engineering for section 1. We suggest this in good faith. We suggest this because we know how difficult it is to bring an act back to the House once it is through, and by standing down section 1 for a period of six months we might come to some logical conclusion and joint recommendation from the minister, the technicians and the engineers.
So that basically is our concern about section 1, and I know that another member of the opposition would like to speak a little bit further about that.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Mr. Chairman, that, quite obviously, is unacceptable. The House has given this bill second reading. The House has decided it will proceed into committee with it as it came from the House after second reading. If the committee wishes to oppose section 1, then the committee can make that decision; but that would require a division. The bill will go ahead complete, unless there are amendments offered by the government. At this point there are none, so we'll proceed with the bill in its totality.
MR. CHAIRMAN: If you'll take your seat for a moment, hon. member, I should just point out that I didn't actually hear an amendment being made; but if there was any thought in that direction, such an amendment would certainly not be acceptable.
MR. CHAIRMAN: No, that can't be applied in this particular instance, either. Hon. member, if you're thinking of postponing something, as laid down in the standing orders, that can be done, but only during the period of time that the act is under discussion by the committee. It can't postpone a section of an act to another time. That requires other legislation.
MS. MARZARI: Mr. Chairman, thank you for your clarification. In our case then, since it has come to second reading and since it's too late to put forward such an amendment, what I will do is say that this side of the House is in agreement with the act; but we are also very much aware that the minister has already engaged the engineers and the technicians in some discussions, and I would hope that there
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would be a continuation of that commitment, so that when the act is passed, those discussions might bring forward another amendment on the definition at our next session or next ear.
MR. R. FRASER: Mr. Chairman, I would say at the outset that, as all of you know, I am a member of the association — I am one of 12,000. If that is a problem with you, we'll of course change the order. But I would say, in response to the submission by the member, that discussions between the engineering association and the technicians' association have been going on for years, and will continue.
MR. LOVICK: I think we're all very concerned about this, and saddened by the fact that we seem to be victims of a procedural problem here, because what we're suggesting is that this bill, which we would all like to support, nevertheless contains a section that is very likely to cause considerable discord and unhappiness among people directly affected by the legislation. We have certainly had negotiations in the past few months. Indeed, the member for Vancouver South and I have discussed this bill, and talked about the concerns that each of us had, and we thought we had come some distance toward solving those problems. We left the measure, however, Mr. Chairman — and I'm saying this because I want it on the record — with the knowledge and the understanding that there would be some further discussion by the parties directly affected. Sadly, that does not seem to have happened. Indeed, as we're standing here talking about this, the minister in whose name the bill appears isn't in the House. I'm sorry about that, because I wonder whether the minister might listen somewhat sympathetically to the case we're presenting.
The case is just this: the problem with section 1, as the other side of the particular dispute and discussion sees it, is that it has the effect of giving to the engineering profession powers that that profession did not have before; namely, the right to restrict entry to the work done by engineers and technologists which — again in the minds of the association of technologists and technicians — was not formerly the private and exclusive domain of engineers. That may not be the case. I've had assurances from various persons speaking for the engineering profession that it isn't the case. However, the technologists and technicians, despite having those assurances from us, from government, remain unconvinced. They are concerned that what we have here is an approach effectively changing the law, amending the Engineers Act in such a way that we change the rules of the game, and that forever after, that profession which technologists and technicians thought they had a piece of will be barred to them. That's their concern. Obviously it's contentious, it's controversial, and I'm suggesting that we are in error if we're caught in the trap that says we must accept the act in its entirety, without an opportunity to at least put very significant pressure on, and questions about, section 1 of the act. That's our concern.
MR. R. FRASER: For the benefit of some of the members who do not have a great understanding of the history of this act, at one time there were two types of engineers: civil and military. The civil engineers broke down into a number of different disciplines, and the process continues. With respect to the technologists, the act that was passed in 1985 is a right to title, not a right to practise, and that is a significant difference.
MR. LOVICK: Just a question or two to the first member for Vancouver South, who is charged with shepherding this bill through. Could the member tell this side whether the wording of the enabling clause that is being attached to the original definition of the profession, which is a very enabling clause.... Let me quote it; after listing a number of specific engineering branches, it says: "and other branches of engineering that may be designated by the council and for which university engineering programs have been accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board or by a body which, in the opinion of the council, is its equivalent." That seems to me to provide rather a lot of latitude to that private body, that association of engineers, to in effect determine who is and who is not an engineer, and then to restrict the practice of engineering work to the people so named. My question is whether that kind of clause is typical or is special — is aberrant.
MR. R. FRASER: What you refer to, of course, is how people become professional engineers: either by taking association exams or by completing a university course at an accredited university. So you establish a level of education, and then you become a registered member of the association.
MR. LOVICK: I appreciate the answer. I think there was something wrong with my question; let me try it again.
When we set up an act for a particular profession, whether that be dentists, lawyers, engineers, accountants or whoever, is it customary to say that we define the profession not by being specific but rather by adding another clause, as we have here, that says "and other branches" of the discipline as defined and determined by us, the people directly affected? Is that common?
MR. R. FRASER: It has been common. Certainly the engineers, as a discipline, have expanded with new technology. Basically the restriction is a level of education that people are asked to achieve. But definitions have been expanded, I believe, in most other professions as well.
Sections 1 to 17 inclusive approved.
On section 18.
MR. LOVICK: Again, I'll just ask the first member for Vancouver South if he would be good enough to share with us a response to the concerns expressed by the other party affected by this — namely, the technologists and technicians. They suggest to us that the wording of this particular section is simply too restrictive. I'm wondering if the first member for Vancouver South would care to try to allay and assuage their fears.
MR. R. FRASER: No.
Sections 18 to 20 inclusive approved.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Mr. Chairman, I move the committee rise and report the bill complete without amendment.
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The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Bill 23, Engineers Amendment Act, 1987, reported complete without amendment, read a third time and passed.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Mr. Speaker, I call adjourned debate on third reading of Bill 19.
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS REFORM ACT, 1987
On the amendment.
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I stand to support this hoist motion. It is a last-minute hope on the part of the opposition that the government will reconsider the steps they are taking, because the whole process that has gone on has suggested a kind of holy war attitude on the government side of the House and on the part of the Premier — a holy war in terms of an anti-labour view. That really means an anti-worker view, which is extremely unhealthy.
It's a blindness that was caused, I think, by the failure with respect to the IWA strike and the length of it last year. What we're seeing now is a kind of retribution. It is part of that blind side that we're getting from the leader of this government all too often these days. What this whole statute represents — that's why it really needs to be reconsidered at this stage — is a rupturing of the social contract of the last 50 years in this province. It really is a tearing asunder of the social contract, the balance between workers and owners or labour and capital. It's an unwritten thing in some ways, an understanding between these major forces in our society. The written documentation behind it, in terms of the Labour Code and other statutes, is being torn asunder by this act. It's a major change.
It's a rupture, Mr. Speaker, that really is unequalled in the western world today. Even with the Thatchers and the Reagans this kind of tearing asunder of the social contract has not occurred in either the United Kingdom or the United States. That's why my colleague from Vancouver East was able to read from a Eugene, Oregon, newspaper suggesting that this was something like one would expect in the Third World in terms of a reaction to the incremental growth of the power of labour over the last 50 years.
As a result, this taking away of the incremental growth of rights on the part of workers in the province is not going to be readily accepted. It's as simple as that: it will not be readily accepted. The leaders of the trade union movement and their members have clearly indicated that by their actions over the last couple of months as well.
It might have been different if the government had gone out in the last election and said: "This is what we stand for. We don't believe that the social contract of the last 50 years should be tolerated any more." If you had done that, and if you had got a mandate on that basis, then I think that we might more readily live with it, and this legislation might have more readily passed in this chamber. But that isn't what's happened.
The problem of having the consent of the governed is something that slips by the leader of this administration, Mr. Speaker. It seems to be too subtle a concept for the leadership in this administration to accept or understand. The British system gives great powers to government. The roots of it are in the powers granted to the King in the early days of the United Kingdom. These great, great powers have to be handled with sensitivity by those that wield them. That doesn't seem to be there in terms of understanding in this administration. As a result, there's going to be a price paid by all of us in the province — not just those who don't understand the subtleties of the system.
What we're going to see down the road is the development of Gandhian strategies on the part of organized labour that will be different than we've ever seen in this province — Gandhian strategies that I suggest will be successful, but which will have a significant negative impact on the economy. After all, what did the former Deputy Minister of Labour say about this legislation?
AN HON. MEMBER: Which one?
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Leslie. Or both of them. Even Mr. Matkin, at an earlier stage, made it very clear how concerned he was about this legislation.
MR. WILLIAMS: Oh, you mean the rewriting of history. A government that loves to rewrite history, in process right now.
What did Mr. Leslie say? He said he believed that the amended Bill 19 would deunionize the construction industry. That's clearly the goal of this government: to deunionize the workers of this province, to lower their wages and all the rest. He also said that all unionized employees have reason to be concerned about the greater ease with which employers will be able to dispose of parts of their companies. Then he said that the close monitoring of collective bargaining which the bill allows will end up as an impediment rather than an aid, so that the big hand of government intervening will be an impediment in the entire process.
He also said more. He said that this is, in effect, an act of legislative violence. Those are very strong words indeed. Let's remember who this is coming from. This is from a thoughtful civil servant. a former Rhodes scholar, a negotiator with a long history of working on management's side, the employers' side. That's the background of Mr. Leslie, and the members opposite certainly know and understand that. That's why it bothers them as much as it does.
What about other thoughtful people? And I don't mean the second member for Kamloops (Mr. S.D. Smith). Maybe you noticed what Prof. Laudadio, professor of economics at the University of Victoria for the last decade, said just this last week, but maybe you didn't. If you didn't, I'd like to quote the professor of economics at the University of Victoria. He's probably a scholar of the Chicago school — if you understand that — and clearly not some person with leftist tendencies. What does he say about you folks and this bill? What he says about you folks is: "They're more revolutionary than the socialists. They want to change things quickly and radically." He's talking about this social contract being tom up. That's what the professor is saying. What does he say about the economic impact of this statute? He says it will be all negative, that there is nothing positive to come out of it. That's a professor of economics. That means economic trouble down the road. That's why you should reconsider this statute.
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[Mr. Lovick in the chair.]
Prof. Ruff at the University of Victoria says similar things, and he recalls....
MR. WILLIAMS: No, he's not of the Chicago school. But let's have some balance here. You people wouldn't understand balance if there was a scale in front of you. Prof. Ruff, political scientist, says it's going to be the same sort of thing as pre-1972, in terms of the Mediation Commission.
I think we should listen to people like John Shields, the head of the Government Employees' Union, because Mr. Shields strikes me as one of the new, more thoughtful breed in the trade union movement. He says: "The government should really look at the other considerations when they irrevocably tilt the balances and introduce authoritarian government into what is essentially a voluntary process."
Again, it's this centralized attitude on the part of government. It's an idea over there, particularly in the Premier's office, that big government is all-knowing and all-wise. It's just part of this whole exercise. I pointed to a thing earlier this afternoon, in terms of the Premier's office intervening on modest plantation contracts in the Forests ministry. They know nothing about forestry, they get held up for two months, the weeds grow up and they can't even check out whether the young seedlings are there anymore. It's that kind of madness in terms of being the only competent person in the room, the only competent player around: "If I can jump into everything, I can solve everything." That's what goes on in the Premier's office. You can run a fantasy land that way and get away with it; you can run a nursery — a small one — that way and get away with it; but you can't run a huge government or a bureaucracy that way. If you do, we all pay the price, and that's what is going to happen down the road.
What's happening with this statute is a major shift in power from labour to capital. I don't know if we should really use those terms. What is labour all about, Mr. Speaker? You know what labour is all about, and I'm pleased to see that — we've had Speakers here who may not have known what labour was all about. What's capital all about? Labour is all about people, working people, and capital is about money and that kind of power. This bill takes power from workers and shifts it to people with money, the controllers of capital. It tilts the playing field dramatically — more than Thatcher would, more than Reagan would. There is already a great deal of power in the centres of money in this world. For those who track these things, with the internationalization of capital in recent years there is more power in capital than there has ever been. And the electronic technology available for moving money around the world — day and night, while we sleep — is unprecedented in the modem history of the world. Yet the people over there are determined to deliver more power to the centres of capital, to the centres of money. They are willing to do that at a price to working people. That's what this is all about — delivering power and control of more and more to fewer people, because of the internationalizing of capital.
Where's the justification for this? The pattern is all clearly in the other direction. Government should generally — in the west, anyway — be trying to redress this balance. You're pushing it the other way. What's happened in British Columbia in the last year in terms of wages? We haven't had spiralling of wages at all in recent years. What's happened is that we had an inflation rate — according to B.C. Central and the federal government — of 3.3 percent last year. We had an average wage increase of 0.6 percent in the last year. So the scales are clearly loaded in that direction, in favour of capital.
There are no fewer dollar bills out there this year than last year. There's more money in circulation this year than there was last year, and it is in fewer and fewer hands. You are designing a system to see that that is accelerated. Maybe the average unthinking individual might think that there is less money out there, and that's why they must take less. The facts of the matter are that there's more money out there. It's just in fewer and fewer hands and frequently being redirected away from home base here in Canada.
So in the past year, real wages in British Columbia went down by 2.7 percent. We've now had a decade of that under Social Credit — declining real wages. Yet at the same time, housing, food, public transport, recreation and education in British Columbia have among the highest cost in the country. So for the average working person in B.C. there is a pattern of growing costs and declining wages. That's the pattern, and this bill will accelerate that.
More and more, this government looks to me like the gang that couldn't shoot straight. You fight yesterday's battles with yesterday's ideology. Is it any wonder that you are becoming the laughing-stock of the nation? In terms of substance and process, you're all wrong. Quebec and Ontario have had more work stoppages than we have had, and they have not responded with this kind of sledge-hammer legislation. As a result, their economies are booming, relative to ours. Look at the wage levels in Ontario. Bricklayers are getting $28 an hour, or something like that, with increases coming up.
Your actions over there will beget reactions in society. What's clear about the way this government works is that you generally can't see very far ahead, and all kinds of predictable things are not perceived, by either this minister or the Premier or this government.
Graham Leslie warned you; Jim Matkin warned you. You ignored them. You got a general strike; 300,000 people in this province said there's something desperately wrong in terms of this legislation. In a kind of fury, you turned to the courts, and again you became the laughing-stock of the nation when the courts threw out your suggestion that sedition was involved, in terms of this response.
MR. WILLIAMS: The wording was all sedition, Mr. Minister. The wording was clearly "sedition." If I was in as much trouble in my own ministry as you are, I would be very wary about wandering into the Attorney-General's turf. How big a swamp do you want, Mr. Minister? How big a swamp do you want to wade through over there? You're hell-bent on deunionizing British Columbia, that's clear. You want to deunionize this province and get us into the kind of Pacific Rim situation that we're slipping towards.
MR. WILLIAMS: Oh, is that right? Look, the rest of the country is moving ahead. Manitoba is moving ahead; Ontario is moving ahead; Quebec is moving ahead. You guys have to give us an extension of the Bill Bennett years. How
[ Page 1955 ]
appropriate that the member for Kamloops should talk about that kind of extension with favour.
We suffered a setback of a decade under that bird in the Premier's office and his colleagues — the Bill Bennett office. I think it is entirely appropriate that there is a monument out there in the rose garden to the former Premier, appreciating Mr. Bennett. It is just about a foot in height, I think it is an appropriate monument to the former Premier: a stumbling block in the path of history.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just advise the member that if the members opposite will allow the member to continue speaking, and if the member will address his remarks to the Chair, the debate will progress much more smoothly.
MR. WILLIAMS: I never promised you a rose garden, and I'll withdraw the suggestion that the former Premier was a stumbling block in the path of history. I can think maybe of some better statement, given a bit of time.
But the reality is that we've had ten years. We've had restraint; it was wrong-headed. It had a negative impact on the provincial economy. We have not yet recovered from those restraint years, and now we are in Bill 19, which is exactly the same thing all over again. It's the Bill Bennett government with a smile on its face instead of a scowl — that's the only difference. What we've got now is the genuine, pure Social Credit. We've got genuine, pure, lowbrow Social Credit in power. The big change in the last year or so.... The reason I suggest this is that you've lost the Liberals. You've lost Dr. McGeer; you've lost Garde Gardom; you've lost Allan Williams. Why, you've lost half your brain-power over there. The IQ level has descended. Mr. Speaker, I think you would appreciate that.
But I don't want to continue in that area for now. We don't need another stumbling-block. We've had a stumbling-block in the form of restraint, in terms of building this economy. We have another stumbling-block in Bill 19. It's a continuation of the black years of Bill Bennett.
I urge you to reconsider this legislation and think about the implications for the provincial economy. All of us will pay the price. You are dismissing 40 percent of the population of British Columbia by moving on this bill in this way. We cannot build a big and better British Columbia by doing that. I urge you to support the hoist motion.
MR. STUPICH: If I may, I will start off in much the same vein as the member for North Island (Mr. Gabelmann) did when he moved this amendment in the first place. I think he admitted then that he had very little hope that the amendment would be supported by the government. It's one more attempt for us to present in as reasonable and as persuasive a way as we can the arguments in favour of not proceeding with this bill at this particular point in time. It gives us that much more opportunity, in the hope that perhaps someone on the government side of the House, in particular the Minister of Labour, will start listening and hearing what we have to say.
We're speaking, we believe, on behalf of the majority of the people in the province when we plead with the government not to set fire to labour-management relations in the province of British Columbia at this time. We're trying to remind the minister and the government that progress was being made. The labour movement and employers got the message, before this bill was ever introduced, that the government was concerned about what was happening in B.C., and that the government might take legislative action. Labour and management reacted. by starting to work together in a way so different from anything that we'd ever seen in the past that I believed there was real hope for the future — until the government moved in in its heavy-handed way with this particular legislation.
We don't expect the government to support this amendment, but we're still hoping. This is the final countdown; it's getting awfully close to blast-off. We're still hoping that the government will send a signal out to the community, to labour and to management that they're hoping that labour and management will get their act together and that they're prepared to give them some time to do so. You can defeat this amendment, Mr. Speaker. but you can still send out a signal that you're not going to proceed with proclamation at this time; you're going to wait to see whether, now that you have the attention of labour and management....
I'm reminded of a lot of stories that Tommy Douglas told. I can't tell any of them nearly as well. But I like the one about the farmer who was trying to get the mule to pull a heavy load. The mule wouldn't budge. A stranger came along the road and said he would get the mule to move. He picked up a 2-by-4 and hit the mule over the head. so that it dropped down to its.... I was going to say knees. but that's not really the correct part of the anatomy when it comes to mules. It dropped down, shook its head, got up and started to move. The stranger said: "The first thing you have to do is get the mule's attention."
Mr. Speaker, the government has the attention of business and labour in this province. The government might say: "Now that we've got your attention.... Now that we've shown what we can do and what we will do, if we believe it's necessary in the interests of the province, you go ahead and try to work it out. And we won't proclaim this bill in the interim, to see whether or not labour and management can and will get their act together." We're still hoping. even at this eleventh hour. that that can happen.
Arguments have been presented by the member for North Island and by a lot of other people in the community — and a lot of these have been read into the record — to the effect that what the government is really looking for is deunionization: deunionization in the construction industry — and the minister himself warned against that: deunionization among the IWA, particularly in the truck loggers' industry — and that has been warned against. Mr. Speaker, I wish that were it. My concern is that it's not so much deunionization that the government is seeking, or the supporters of the government — I don't want to say the government; I hope that isn't the case. But the supporters of the government are not so much seeking deunionization as they are the kind of unions that operate in right- and left-wing dictatorships, where the trade union movement is not an organization fighting on behalf of its members but rather a message-carrier from the government, from employers, down to the employees; it functions in that way and has no other purpose. Now I think, Mr. Speaker, that there are people in our community who would like to see that happening in B.C., where a tame trade union movement would keep the workers in line, and would pass on messages from government or from employers, and that's the way I see this legislation working.
[ Page 1956 ]
Mr. Speaker, the minister has hinted, or has said without saying it in a way that can be used in court or even in this new council, that he doesn't expect it will work that way. That's not the point. The member for North Island has pointed out very, very clearly to all who will listen — and I think the only one who has listened to all of this has been the Minister of Labour; had everyone listened we might be better off — that there is a very real concern in the minds of the people outside of this chamber that the legislation can be used that way. The minister may say it will not be, because it's not his idea to use it that way, but that isn't the point. If it can be used that way, there's always the danger that it will be used that way. That's what is frightening the people who are involved in employee-employer bargaining.
As long as that fear is there, the legislation will not serve the interests of the government, will not serve the interests of the people of British Columbia. There is a perception out there that things are bad in B.C. — a perception that, as many of us have pointed out, is not real, but as long as the perception is there, it's damaging to B.C. The perception is there even more so when the government proceeds with legislation like this. This demonstrates to everyone, not just the people in B.C. but anyone interested in looking at B.C., that things are so bad in B.C. that the government has to bring in legislation giving it the authority to intervene in almost every dispute. It is not that it will intervene in every dispute, but it can use the authority to take it into the cabinet, the Legislature, or put it in the hands of a commissioner interfere whenever they feel that there is something going on that is against the public interest.
If things are so bad here that the government has to take what are really dictatorial powers compared to any power that any government has ever taken before in the province of B.C., then the message is going out that things are really bad in B.C. and something has to be done about it. Until you see whether the remedy is going to work.... If you're an ambassador you don't look too closely at what's happening in B. C.
Once again, Mr. Speaker, we hope the government will listen to some of these concerns that we are presenting as genuinely and sincerely as we can on behalf of the people of B.C., on behalf of the community.
The member for North Island mentioned the effect of backing down. He suggested that for one or two days there might be some gloating on the part of some people that the government has been forced to back down. I don't think that would happen even for an hour or two. I think there would be such tremendous relief in our whole community that the government was going to refrain from proclaiming this bill immediately that there would be nothing but compliments. Certainly the member for North Island would get some of those complimentary remarks — and would deserve them; I think everyone will agree to that. But the government itself, I believe, would be complimented and congratulated immediately for saying: "Yes, we are going to wait. We are going to see whether the community can work out its problems without the heavy-handed interference from government." There would be absolutely no criticism of the government for having done what it did.
We've been asking from the beginning for more time for the community as a whole to consult, to think, to speak and to make representations. All we're asking now is that the community be given more time to sort out its own problems — our problems, problems of the people of British Columbia.
That's what we're asking for, Mr. Speaker, and still hoping. I don't think there would be criticism even for an hour. There would be nothing but relief and approval of what was going on.
I am concerned about essential services. I think we all are, and I'm not sure that this has been said in quite the way I'm going to say it. I know there was some discussion in the Legislature about whether ferries were essential services. I'm inclined to side with those who think they are, but that's not the point. It's not up to me to decide. I would point out, Mr. Speaker, that in every instance where representatives of employers and employees sit down together and agree to a level of essential service in any particular service being offered, the workers have always maintained the level of essential service that they have agreed to provide. To the best of my knowledge, there has never been any withdrawal of what has been previously agreed to as a level of service that must be maintained as being essential to the good and welfare of the community.
I've always argued that with respect to the ferries. When I've been asked what I'd do when it comes up during election time, I would say that as government, the employers' representatives should sit down with the government employees, and in that case particularly the ferries, and reach agreement as to what level of services is essential.
I'm reminded of an incident a few years ago, when the ferries went on strike — this was the Ministry of Highways ferries; it wasn't the ferry system itself. There were representations made from people on Gabriola that they needed a minimum level of ferry service in order to maintain security of life on the island. The ferry workers agreed to provide that level of service, and the Ministry of Transportation and Highways agreed with the ferry workers that that minimum of service should be reinstituted and maintained for the duration of the work stoppage. That agreement was reached between employer and employee representatives, and the workers would have done it.
It was all agreed to until the Premier heard about it, and then Premier Bennett stopped it and said there was to be absolutely no resumption of any level of ferry service, as far as the Ministry of Highways ferries were concerned, unless the employees agreed to reinstitute total scheduled service. He wasn't going to accept any part-time service, any level of service that the community felt was essential; he wanted all or nothing. :So they got nothing.
Mr. Speaker, the point I'm trying to make is that if employee and employer representatives are given the opportunity, and if the challenge is there for them to reach agreement as to what level of essential service shall be maintained, then it works. But to pass a law and say that you have to resume work — and that's what this one says — in the first place admits that work is going to stop; in the second place says that until that process is complete, work will not resume; and in the third place gives no guarantee that work is going to resume simply because the government says it must or because the commissioner says it must. There have been examples of that in history, where governments or government representatives or Crown corporation representatives have said: "Work must resume." What do you do if the workers don't go back to work'?
I think I used this a couple of months ago in debate on this same bill, when I quoted John L. Lewis. When he was told that the army would be sent in to make the coal-miners dig coal in the States during the war, he said: "You can't mine
[ Page 1957 ]
coal with bayonets." Neither can you put a couple of hundred thousand miners back to work if they're determined not to go to work. Workers in British Columbia have a long history of fighting employers and fighting government. It took the army, in 1913, to deal with the coal-miners in Nanaimo, and deal with them they did. But they didn't get them back mining coal. They controlled the situation in Nanaimo, but they certainly didn't get them back digging.
Force doesn't work, Mr. Speaker. Certainly in our society it doesn't work. But cooperation can work, and that's the kind of cooperation that the employers and employees have been able to put into effect with respect to essential services in the province of British Columbia; in some cases, not even just essential services.
There's the famous example of the contract that the then Premier W.A.C. Bennett negotiated on behalf of B.C. Hydro for work on the Peace River dam, when there was a no-strike clause for the duration of the contract. It didn't matter what else was going on in labour-management negotiations in the province at that time, because the workers had contracted to keep on working on that project for the duration of the project. They kept working. Workers will live up to their side of the agreement if they are consulted, if they are a party to the agreement, and if they believe that in negotiating that agreement they're being dealt with truthfully, reasonably and fairly. That's cooperation, Mr. Speaker. That is what we thought the Premier was talking about during the election campaign when he spoke about a "new era."
I think all of us have been trying from the very beginning — some of us in different ways, and some of us with different examples — to get across that message: the kind of cooperation and consultation that the Premier talked about is what we need; workers in B.C. have proven that they will cooperate if they are consulted; we can maintain essential services by entering into agreements ahead of time. But there is a tremendous amount of misinformation, I believe, particularly on the government side of the House.
There was one example of that this morning when the member for Yale-Lillooet (Mr. Rabbitt) was speaking in this debate. He brought Manitoba into it, and certainly government members are very anxious to bring Manitoba into almost every debate where they think it will support their cause. But unfortunately they don't always tell the whole truth, Mr. Speaker. I'm not suggesting they're not telling the truth; I'm saying they don't tell the whole truth. In this instance, the member for Yale-Lillooet said: "One of the things it did was bring in final-offer selection policy. Yet four years ago in that very House, the opposition at that time, which is now the government, went on record as being opposed to this concept." He's talking about Manitoba's Bill 61, An Act to Amend the Labour Relations Act, which does include final-offer selection.
MR. S.D. SMITH: For both sides?
MR. STUPICH: I'm quoting the member. He doesn't say both sides; I'm just telling you what he said. It's a quotation, so I'd better not accept your amendment. I'll simply quote from him, and he said that the bill includes final-offer selection: "Yet four years ago in that very House, the opposition at that time, which is now the government, went on record as being opposed to this concept."
On the question of consultation, the member said that the meeting 24 hours prior to the legislation being introduced was a briefing on the legislation, not consultation. The member left the strong impression that there was no consultation. That sounds pretty bad on the face of it.
Let's go a little further. One. Bill 61 in Manitoba does include a provision of final-offer selection. I can't deal with your question; I don't know the answer. Number two, four years ago the opposition was — it still is — Progressive Conservative; it's the NDP that's in office today. I don't know what the Progressive Conservatives did four years ago, but the NDP were not in opposition four years ago. I know that. In 1984, a labour law review study written by Marg Smith was circulated, which proposed final-offer selection in Manitoba. At their last convention in 1985, the Manitoba Federation of Labour called for final-offer selection with unfettered right to strike. That position has been represented in every brief received by the Manitoba government since then — two years ago. They have been asking for it ever since.
The Manitoba government didn't rush into it. The process of labour relations reform in Manitoba has been a studied, leisurely process, because the government recognizes the need to ensure a consensus. The member for Yale-Lillooet would do a greater service to himself and to the House — as would many others — if he or they were less selective and more accurate in their speeches. Bill 61 in Manitoba will be referred to a select standing committee of the House, likely this evening, which committee will have the power to call witnesses. That's one of the arguments we've been making with respect to this legislation: that it should have been referred to a select standing committee which would have had the power to call witnesses.
Much can be done by cooperation, by consultation, by sitting down and working out agreements. Both sides will live up to those agreements if they feel they're a party to a real bargaining process. Little can be accomplished in our community. In some jurisdictions. yes, there is that authority; but in our community, with our long history of democracy and with the organizations and people that we have, little can be accomplished by driving people and telling them what they must do. Much by consultation and by cooperation; nothing by more divisiveness. more argument, more problems for our already stressed economy.
There is a right way to go. Once this is finished — and it will soon be over — the government should say: "We've shown what we can do. We have the power; we have the legislative authority. But we're going to give labour and management six months to sort out their act and see if they can do a better job than this legislation would do." All of us are asking for that consideration on the part of government. There is no hurry. There is no need for any immediate action. But there is a grand and glorious golden opportunity for this government to lead the way out of the mess — which they've gotten us into, true: but also it would be a real challenge to labour and management to see if they couldn't do something really great for British Columbia. We plead with the government to announce publicly, once this bill has become law, that it will not be proclaimed for six months, to give the community time to get its act together.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
[ Page 1958 ]
MS. MARZARI: Mr. Speaker, I am new to this House, and for the last 11 weeks I have been listening to and participating in a debate on Bill 19. I have heard 100 hours of debate and read an incredible amount about labour-management relationships in this province. When the bill was first introduced, as a new member of this House I thought perhaps it was a bargaining position assumed by the government side to soften the union side. As the debate proceeded, it occurred to me that it wasn't a bargaining position, but perhaps the government side of the House simply didn't understand the bill and the depths to which it ripped asunder the social contract, as my colleague from Vancouver East put it. In the last few weeks, and especially today as I review these last few months — not just Bill 19 but other acts and other procedures in the House — I am beginning to understand completely that this is a bill founded on an ideology which is anathema to anything we could consider to be constructive towards the social or economic health of this province.
I read a suggestion today that we aren't being governed, we are being managed by this government. It would strike me that we aren't even being managed by this government; rather, we are being driven by an ideology espoused by this government. When ideology takes over — when ideology comes first — discussion and consultation disappear. When ideology comes first, confrontation becomes the order of the day, and what lies beneath the veneer of the word "confrontation" is basically confusion, ill will and an inability to discuss any further. I fear that is where we have come today, after 11 weeks of discussion in this House, after a careful, frank canvassing of the bill, and after 100 hours of talking and trying to reason.
When ideology comes first, people don't matter anymore, and that is what I want to speak to this afternoon, because when people don't matter anymore and what they think doesn't matter anymore, what we end up doing, and what I fear the government is ending up doing, is delegitimizing public involvement itself and taking away the rationale for people to bother getting involved in the first place. I've seen this happening with Bill 19, as we witnessed a commission, with the minister on it, circulating through the province to return a report which, when tabled, was supplanted by Bill 19, which ran in radically different directions from the report prepared by the minister himself. Everyone who participated in that consultation process was delegitimized. Their involvement was discounted.
This business of taking away people's citizenship by telling them that they don't count has been repeated in Bill 20 and Bill 28; but most specifically, Bill 19 directly affects 250,000 people and their families in this province. So you've taken people in their jobs, in their communities and in their professions, and you've said: "Whatever your history is, whatever your involvement is, whatever checks and balances you've made for yourselves in your communities to adjust to modern living, and whatever you have to say just doesn't matter and just doesn't count." You can see how that takes people's perception of themselves and basically turns it into bitterness, sourness, antagonism and confrontational postures.
It leaves some of us in the position of walking out of the province. The newspapers for the last two nights have gone on at some length to describe the numbers of people, particularly those in the construction trades, who have taken off for happier climes — most notably to Ontario. Some leave. Some stay to fight, but fighting is rather difficult when words mean nothing anymore, when consultation simply isn't there and when the mechanisms have been removed. Some give up, and perhaps that's the saddest group of all. They become non-citizens. They are thrust into a new kind of labour market by Bill 19, without any contracts with any meaning, without an incentive to bargain, without a sense of growing prosperity for themselves or for their community, and without a sense of them making any difference or having any say.
So I say that whether it's Bill 19, Bill 20 or Bill 28, what we're dealing with here — I can see it now, most clearly, after these four months — is a process of delegitimization of people as citizens. An ideology is telling people that they don't count and that what does count is something called the free market economy, something ironic in its concept because there is neither a freedom nor a market — a market is a place where more than one person convenes to bargain — or an economy to speak of. Worse still, Bill 19 has taken us further than even the delegitimization of citizenship. It has entered into an area of actual punishment, when as a result of legitimate dissent in the community we have labelling going on that calls citizens seditious, that suggests they are treasonous, un-Canadian or uncitizen-like by this government and by this ideology.
The picture that starts to evolve is one of citizens as automatons, robots, low-wage-earners, non-thinking, uneducated and unskilled people, basically doing what your ideology wants them to do — to fit like cogs into a machine that your ideology is trying to build.
The population will be ripe. It will be the fodder for the ideology that your nineteenth century mentors would like to see. Where will these entrepreneurs come from that our children — your fodder — will fit into? I tell you, the bell is tolling for B.C. daily, because your ideology doesn't recognize that no man is an island. Your ideology doesn't recognize you can't stand alone. Your ideology doesn't know that the consent of, the governed is what's required in order to carry it out.
So I would suggest to this government that you not send to know for whom the bell tolls, because it's tolling for British Columbia right now; it's tolling for our children.
MS. SMALLWOOD: Mr. Speaker, I stand like the rest of the members in the opposition to support the hoist motion. In a way, it's a very sad, desperate time for all of us here. I find it difficult in that I feel that sadness, and at the same time I feel a great deal of anger.
I want to talk a little bit about the history that's gone before this bill. In a way, like many of the previous speakers, I'd like to caution the government. While we have repeatedly tried to point out to the government where the problems lie in this legislation, and repeatedly tried to give voice to many of the concerns that are expressed by people in our community and by working people around this province, the government has chosen not to listen to date.
While we have repeatedly asked the government to postpone the adoption of this legislation and involve itself in a process of true, meaningful consultation, the government has decided in its wisdom to ignore those calls. I'd like to remind the minister that one of our previous speakers had pointed out that while we have spoken for over 100 hours on this legislation trying to bring those things to the government's attention, quite frankly, if the government chooses to ignore, it chooses to ignore at its own peril.
[ Page 1959 ]
I want to remind the government of what has gone on in this province over the last four or five years. This province has seen a government under Bill Bennett bring in legislation that was as disruptive and as confrontational as this. We saw people throughout the province at the brink of a general strike, picketing and marching, people who had never been involved in such protests before. We saw the defeat of that government before it went to the polls. We saw Bill Bennett resigning because of the pressure that the people of this province brought to bear on your government.
What we saw was borne out by the public record. It was borne out by the polls that were done before the last election. I think it is very clear that the Premier was pushed because the Social Credit Party recognized that there would be no reelection of your government if they did not change at least their face. You went to the electorate with a new leader. You went to the polls last fall promising consultation, promising a new start, promising the things that the people in this province were looking for — ironically, the things that the New Democrats had been talking about a year before the election, the things in the campaign we built when we defeated the previous Social Credit government under Bill Bennett. You took our platform and you promised that to the people with the populist campaign that saw the Premier and his wife dancing and singing in the middle of the desperation that people were feeling around the wounds inflicted upon them under the government's cruel restraint program — the wounds that the people of this province felt, right down to the very reality of trying to care for their families.
What we saw when this government came in with the budget and the throne speech was the Premier and the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Couvelier) getting up and saying: "We care about families in this province. We care about the people that have suffered under the restraint program. We care about the recipients of welfare." Then we had Bills 19 and 20: a replay of the previous Bennett government's legislative package, a replay of the confrontation that we have seen in this province over the last three or four years and, ironically, the very targeting of those people that this government professed to be wanting to help. Again and again the members on this side have pointed out how unnecessary this whole process is; that if indeed the intent is to get this province back on the road to economic recovery, and if, as this bill professes, the intent is towards labour and management peace, then there are better ways.
The earlier speaker from Nanaimo pointed out some of those better ways. He talked about what real consultation could mean. There are many examples throughout the world of governments that have brought in legislation as a document for consultation, that have gone out with a proposal and talked to the people and involved the people that will be affected, in working out legislation that has the consensus and the support of all the parties involved. The government has chosen not to do that. It is very hard, I think; and certainly what I've been hearing from many in my constituency who voted for Social Credit last time around is that they feel betrayed. That is what's going on here. We have a government that promised one thing and is bringing in another, a government that is centralizing power and hitting the very people that can least defend themselves.
We've gone through this legislation, and we've looked at exactly who this legislation affects. We've talked about how it affects the people that have the most to lose in our society, their inability to organize with fellow workers to get a fairer shake in the economic picture. We talked about how it's affecting women, and how this legislation makes it difficult if not impossible for women to get the pay increases that are necessary to just give them equal footing, equal-pay legislation.
We talked about the impact of technological change in our society and how this government, through this legislation, is again making the playing-field unequal and inaccessible to the working people of this province. In light of the history that has gone on in this province, and in light of the kinds of promises that this government brought to the last election, this legislation is deceptive, and I am sorrowed by that.
I think that there are ways in which we can begin to productively deal with some of the problems that have been created, not only by this government but also by the previous Social Credit government — by truly respecting the players that this legislation purports to act on behalf of, by truly respecting individuals in this province and allowing them a meaningful place in the decision-making process. That should be undertaken. There are other ways, and we've spoken of those. They all start with the initial concept of respect — respecting the working people of this province, instead of centralizing and using a big stick, which I think this legislation does.
I'd like to just leave it at that, Mr. Speaker, and again ask the government to consider delaying putting this bad legislation into law; and instead of threatening the people who are trying their best in this province, working with them and supporting them.
MR. HARCOURT: Mr. Speaker, for more than 100 hours — longer than any other single debate in this House on a piece of legislation — a debate has taken place that has sought to bring a measure of understanding and common sense to the government of the day. For all that we have heard about this government's desire to listen and to cooperate with this side of the House, and to listen and cooperate with the people of British Columbia, we are still left, after all of that, with a radical and confrontational piece of legislation that threatens to move this province's management-labour relations back into the Dark Ages.
Our party has spoken out against this legislation. I and other members of this caucus have spoken out against this legislation — and we've listened. I've met dozens of men and women throughout British Columbia, and I personally have received thousands of letters from people who are speaking out against Bill 19. Yet this government persists.
I lament the missed opportunities of a Premier who missed the historic moment to fulfil his campaign promise of a fresh start. I want the Premier to recall his own words last September 24, when he said: "Main Street British Columbians want an end to partisan warfare. They want to set aside the sectoral strife which has become the unhappy hallmark of British Columbia." Mr. Speaker, the Premier was right. The Premier once had a glimpse of the people of British Columbia's weariness with confrontation and bitterness. Yet he did not have the vision to grasp the mandate he was given by the people of British Columbia — a glimpse without vision.
There are two examples of that glimpse and missed vision that have occurred right here in this Legislature. The first is that the Premier has cooperated with me and our caucus to develop a meaningful democratic process with a responsible opposition. That's the glimpse of what could have happened.
[ Page 1960 ]
The missed vision is Bill 19. Our Legislature has improved. I think all of us here would proudly be able to go to our constituencies and say that. Teachers no longer have to shield children's ears when they bring them here on a school visit. Visitors don't have to be hustled out of the visitors' galleries when we get into question period and debate.
We should congratulate each other for what we're doing here: our caucus Chairs, our House Whips, our debate leaders are setting a tone of respect for our differences. We have established — or are establishing — a board of internal economy so that our caucuses and Legislature can serve the people of our province properly. Our Speaker is working well with our Clerks, who are among the most knowledgeable in our parliamentary system, to have our Legislature be a forum to celebrate and debate our differences, to reaffirm the strength of our democratic system of government. I would like to have seen the Premier go beyond that glimmer, but he didn't. He threw away his mandate with Bill 19, which symbolizes the broken promises, the confrontation, the sham consultation, the extremism, the intolerance, the incompetence that the Premier will be remembered by in his brief reign.
I was sitting in church on Sunday with my mother and father listening to our minister, Rev. Bob Smith, the past Moderator of the United Church of Canada, who was conducting a special service about justice for our native brothers and sisters. There were hymns from the Dakotas. There was a reading by Rev. Smith's daughter of Chief Seattle's response to the President of the United States, who said: "We want your lands." Rev. Smith was showing some of the young people of our church, who were being presented their own Bibles after completing grade 3 of Sunday school, a symbolic canoe paddle that he had received from a native carver here in British Columbia.
When he had concluded his comments and the ceremony, we heard a sermon from Rev. Smith about the authority of the church to make statements about native self-government, about aboriginal title, and about Bill 19. He showed the process that the church goes through to develop these positions and the authority that that vests with the spokesperson for the United Church of Canada, who on Friday spoke out against Bill 19. It struck me, Mr. Speaker, that that is what's missing: the authority to introduce this bill. This government has the right to govern but it doesn't have the authority to introduce this piece of legislation. It shows how the Premier has blown his mandate and blown his opportunity. Bill 19 demonstrates that. The Premier may have the power; he may have the stubbornness; he may have the numbers of MLAs when we take the vote. He may have the apologists in the Social Credit Party, in business and in the media who say: "Give the bill a chance. Don't be negative. Trade unions can make or break this bill." Very sly and crafty in laying out the extremist views and strategies that back up this bill, but the Premier lacks the authority to do what he's doing here to British Columbians. He has no mandate for Bill 19. And the majority of British Columbians disagree with the government's introduction of this bill — not just mildly, but profoundly disagree with this bill.
We in the NDP have told you why we believe Bill 19 is untenable, unworkable. It's a bad and unjust law. It is anti trade union; we pointed that out in section 25 — the doublebreasting that that would bring about. It's an undemocratic interference in a democratic innovation over many decades: free collective bargaining. We've said that Part 8.1 is a massive intervention in that process. We've said that Bill 19 condones and legalizes exploitation of the working people of this province and gives employers a stacked deck to deal with their employees. We've said this many times. Colin Gabelmann, our labour critic — the member for North Island — has said it many times. Members of our caucus have spoken extensively to point out in detail why this bill is bad, why it's unjust, why it won't work. Yet the Premier and his caucus have chosen to ignore the restrained, measured and informed response led by our labour critic and others in our caucus.
The Premier has pushed aside a new generation of leaders in this province. He has taken the glimpse of a new vision of labour-management relations in this province, and he has forced people back to the old bad days of confrontation. He had an opportunity for a fresh start. The Pacific Institute of Industrial Policy.... Ken Georgetti, the head of the B.C. Federation of Labour, took a lot of risk in sitting down with Jim Matkin of the B.C. Business Council and Darcy Rezac of the Vancouver Board of Trade and developing this totally new innovation in Canada, and putting it forward in public as a show of the kind of cooperation that the labour movement and the business community had worked out and were prepared to go with.
The Premier pushed that aside with Bill 19. He pushed aside the possibility of up to $10 billion in pension funds being invested throughout British Columbia in an enthusiastic, well-thought-out, cooperative way to rebuild our economy. He pushed aside trade union leaders joining trade missions to help sell our coal, our forest products, our services, our tourism and the potential to diversify our economy.
He lost the chance to modernize the labour relations act in the true spirit of cooperation. The Premier has chosen to be wilfully blind and to ignore the New Democratic Party's genuine attempts to help bring about labour-management cooperation. He has chosen to misrepresent the trade union leaders' unparalleled attempts to persuade him to step back from Bill 19. He has chosen to pass over the entreaties of other leaders of our community and to force people back into a confrontational stance. Over and over again, the leaders of our province have said: "Step back." The Sun, the Province, the Times-Colonist, the Globe and Mail and other newspapers — their editorialists, columnists and reporters have said over and over again: "It's a bad law; it won't work."
MR. WILLIAMS: The best and the brightest.
MR. HARCOURT: Don't go too far.
The TV commentators and reporters. BCTV has extensive polling that shows that three-quarters of British Columbians want this motion to pass. Step back. Jack Webster, the most experienced journalist and labour reporter in Canada, says that this bill isn't going to fly. It's not going to work.
Radio reporters and commentators, people like Rafe Mair and many others on CKNW, have said it won't work.
The business community. Jim Matkin expressed huge reservations about this bill. His predecessor, Bill Hamilton, the ex-Postmaster-General and head of the Employers' Council of British Columbia, says it won't work. The Cominco board of directors and, on top of that, the people who have to try to make it work — the arbitrators, the labour-management lawyers who have got to try to make this bad piece of legislation work — like Bruce McColl and Jim Dorsey and Chuck McVeigh, have said it won't work.
[ Page 1961 ]
Your ex-Deputy Minister of Labour, Graham Leslie, whom I worked with for a number of years as the mayor of Vancouver, an alderman and a private sector employer, said that it won't work, that it will have a huge confrontational impact on B.C., that the process was deceitful. The Premier's own Minister of Labour, after listening to many people — an extensive process where he went around the province and very sincerely listened to people, with 700 different briefs — said in his report: "Any law without the support or at least the acquiescence of the majority of those whom it purports to affect will inevitably be opposed."
This opposition will guarantee, in this case, the failure of the larger objective. Bill 19 will fail. So you have the New Democratic Party, working people in this province, business, media, religious leaders: the United Church B.C. Conference opposed Bill 19; the Anglican Church, the archbishop, opposed Bill 19; the Catholic Church and many other spokespeople opposed Bill 19; the Pentecostal Church spokesman opposed Bill 19.
Mr. Speaker, I want to say this to the Premier. You will fail, sir, because you lack the authority for Bill 19 — not to govern, but to impose this bill for which you did not seek a mandate. You broke your promises. You will reap the whirlwind of bitterness and discontent. You will deepen the despair of confrontation, and along with that you will reap the political consequences, which will be negative for you, Mr. Premier.
I'd like to have been able to tell the Premier, who has been here for one minute and 50 seconds of this debate.... I would have liked to have seen him here for a bit more than that. I don't think that instant scrums outside of this Legislature are where the debate should take place; it should be here. I would have liked to have seen him here for more than 110 seconds, to be involved in this piece of secretive legislation that he has put together. I would have told him, if he had been here, that he has glimpsed a small bit of what the people of government desperately want and need: that is, to restore the dignity, civility and importance not just of our Legislature but of our economic labour-management relations.
Mr. Speaker, our lament is that the Premier could not see the larger picture for stability and prosperity and have the generosity of spirit that the people of British Columbia expected. That is why we are asking the Premier to step back now and seize this opportunity to hoist Bill 19 before it's too late for our people. There's no hurry; 1987 is a quiet year. There are no major negotiations; 95 percent of our disputes will be resolved anyway, and most of the others — the 5 percent, the small strike or lockout.... There's no hurry, Mr. Premier. Do the right thing and reconsider this fatally flawed, confrontational bill. At this moment we can only hope that you will.
Mr. Speaker, it now rests with the Premier to make the right decision and hoist Bill 19.
Amendment negatived on the following division:
YEAS — 21
NAYS — 39
|Vander Zalm||B.R. Smith||Couvelier|
MR. SPEAKER: The question now is third reading of Bill 19. Pursuant to standing orders, I should advise the House that if the minister speaks he will close debate.
HON. L. HANSON: I have heard mentioned over the last few days that the time we have spent debating this bill is something over 100 hours, and there have been suggestions that that is probably a new record. I think that's very appropriate. This bill is so important to British Columbia and its future economic welfare that it's right that we spent that time on it.
When we see the results of this legislation, when it's in place and working, all of British Columbia, and certainly the members of the opposition. will realize and understand how important it is to British Columbia to have better industrial relations. This bill will, in fact. bring them in place.
There are so many things that we've done in this legislation. We've ensured that there is democracy in the workplace. We've ensured that there is freedom of speech. We've ensured that people are protected from unfair labour practices. We've ensured that there is fair representation for workers. We have ensured that union membership rights are protected, and we have ensured that there is a freedom of association in the workplace.
We've also ensured, for those people who are voting on the issues that are so vital to their economic health and welfare, that it is done in a manner that is secret and democratic. We've enhanced the role of mediation. We've created a central information bank. We've repealed the CSP and the Essential Service Disputes Act. We have given the teachers the right to bargain not only their wages but also their working conditions.
We've created a productivity fund that we believe in the year to come will prove one of the greatest benefits to British Columbia that we have seen for some time. We are not deunionizing British Columbia, and there is nothing in this bill that says we are.
Mr. Speaker, in closing the debate on Bill 19 I'd like to address some of the concerns raised by the succession of opposition speakers over the past weeks. For example, there is nothing in Bill 19 which diminishes the right to strike. The right to strike is entrenched in the legislation. What is not entrenched, and never will be, is the concept that the rights of the minority prevail over the rights of the majority. The right to strike, Mr. Speaker, remains intact, but certainly not at the cost of British Columbia's economy and the well-being of its people. As for the concerns raised about the compensation stabilization plan — the son of compensation stabilization, as
[ Page 1962 ]
I believe it has been referred to — I would like to point out that there is no reason at all in this legislation that the parties cannot arrive at any settlement that they can agree on. There will be no reflection of the ability to pay, nor will there be a reflection of the public interest that is part of the arbitrated settlements.
The opposition says three million days were lost to strikes in 1986, and they compare that to Ontario and Quebec. That may well be, but I would like to point out to this House that comparisons to Ontario and Quebec are not really correct, because Ontario and Quebec are not our competitors. Our true competitors are Scandinavian countries and Pacific Rim countries such as Japan.
One after the other, Mr. Speaker, the hon. members opposite have risen to denounce this bill as radical and reactionary. The truth of the matter is that much that the critics have been opposing in this bill so strenuously has existed in our law for many years. For example, the Legislature has always had the power to order interest arbitration and final-offer votes. In short, the Legislature has always had the power to dictate the terms of a collective agreement under certain conditions. In Bill 19 we have codified that power so that it can be invoked to protect British Columbians against harmful labour disputes when the Legislature is not in session.
The IRC will monitor a dispute from the very beginning, and thus be in a better position to take the appropriate action. The Legislature determines only whether intervention by the IRC is appropriate, and that the nature of that intervention is left to the IRC.
Finally, where the Mediation Commission was limited only to court-style rulings, the IRC has many less formal tools available to assist the parties to reach a mutually agreeable collective agreement. I'd like to ask, Mr. Speaker, if this sounds like an intervention-oriented system. The verbs used to describe the disputes resolution division are "monitor," "assist," "inquire" and "administer." Are these the descriptions of a system designed to suffocate collective bargaining? I think not, and I think most people in British Columbia would agree with that.
Many of the Bill 19 provisions already exist in both the Labour Code and the Essential Service Disputes Act. For example, under the Labour Code the minister may recommend that cabinet order a 40-day cooling-off period; under the Essential Service Disputes Act, cabinet may order a 90day cooling-off period; under Bill 19, the minister may order a 40-day cooling-off period. During these cooling-off periods, for example, the restricted activities in the Labour Code and in the Essential Service Disputes Act are exactly the same as they are in Bill 19. Some provisions of Bill 19 have evolved solely from the existing Labour Code; for example, the public interest inquiry board. The Labour Code may authorize the minister to establish industrial inquiry commissions, which are structurally and conceptually identical to the proposed public interest inquiry board. So that's not totally new either.
In other cases, Bill 19 reflects provisions which appear only in the Essential Service Disputes Act. I will grant that the Bill 19 provisions are applied to all employers, whereas the Essential Service Disputes Act related only to public sector employers. But the point I'm trying to make is that Bill 19 is not new and revolutionary. Much of it has had the power of law in this province for many years. Special mediators, fact-finders and interest arbitration exist at this moment in essential services legislation. The factors to be considered in interest arbitration are exactly the same in the Essential Service Disputes Act as they are in Bill 19, and there are many other similarities.
I would like to urge each and every member of this House to encourage British Columbians everywhere to cooperate with Bill 19. With it, we will at last have the opportunity for a peaceful labour relations atmosphere for job creation and for a better economic future.
In summary, Mr. Speaker, the Industrial Relations Reform Act launches British Columbia into a new labour relations era, an era in which an improved labour relations climate can make a substantial contribution to economic recovery and job growth in our province.
Bill 19 read a third time and passed on the following division:
YEAS — 39
|Vander Zalm||B.R. Smith||Couvelier|
NAYS — 22
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Committee of Supply, Mr. Speaker.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mrs. Gran in the chair.
ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF
ENVIRONMENT AND PARKS
On vote 29: minister's office, $224,378.
MS. SMALLWOOD: I'd like to resume on the issue of South Moresby. As I notified the minister, I would like to finish the debate today on wilderness and parks. Of course, that will depend on our ability to get some of the business dealt with.
[ Page 1963 ]
Much of the debate around South Moresby at this point is around the negotiations between the federal and provincial governments. While most of the discussion has centred around compensation and the government's sincerity in these negotiations, I want to emphasize, in opening the debate, that this issue is much broader than purely an issue of compensation. This is an issue of the preservation of an area in the world that has no replica. The importance of preserving such an area has got to be seen as paramount; it has got to be recognized that in itself it is perhaps more important than quibbling over the dollar value; that the recognition of the Haida and their ancestry has to be dealt with. We will continue to try to pressure the government into recognizing that.
I know that several other members in the opposition want to deal with issues that revolve around the negotiations, and I would like to let them go ahead at this time.
MR. WILLIAMS: Could the minister advise the House what his view is of the involvement of the Haida, if this is to be a provincial park?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Sure, but I will respond to the critic first and then comment on that, if the committee doesn't mind.
First of all, with respect to the negotiations, as we all know, there was a phone call last night from the Prime Minister to the Premier at 8:30. The Prime Minister indicated he would like to continue discussions. We, of course, had indicated last week that we wanted to leave the door open until Wednesday, our next cabinet meeting; that is, tomorrow. The Premier has further indicated that the door is still open.
With respect to our position and what we have done, I think the committee must recognize that in our discussions with the federal government we have always had a fallback position to the Wilderness Advisory Committee recommendation No. 3, and we have followed that recommendation to a T. I should point out that that recommendation and the recommendation that we will put in place, if we fail to reach agreement on a national park, will be a park of 105,000 hectares, about 85 percent of what the federal government wanted.
It will protect the viewscapes from Anthony Island, Burnaby Narrows, Juan Perez Sound — as defined by the present recreation reserve — Darwin Sound, the north side and the islands of Skincuttle Inlet, and Huston Inlet. It is quite a remarkable park. There is just no question about that. What we have intended to not alienate for park purposes are the very productive islands on the east side of the archipelago.
I will state again that we reckon the annual allowable cut from that area to be $40 million to $50 million annually. This is arrived at quite simply by looking at the annual allowable cut — I believe 237,000 cubic metres per year — and multiplying it by the value of a cubic metre of wood, which is $200. That's where we begin from a negotiating point of view when we try to address the economic loss to British Columbia, if we go with the total park that Mr. McMillan has requested of us.
There was a comment — and I would like to state this parenthetically.... The first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Williams) tabled an affidavit yesterday submitted by Frank Beban, indicating that he had testified at one point or other that the value of wood to him was $57 per cubic metre. That is quite correct; there is no question about that. Then the member further inquired how we could establish a value of $200 per cubic metre.
Well, what the member failed to consider is that $57 is only Mr. Behan's revenue. There is revenue from transportation, from sawmilling, from pulp mills, from supplies and services, from all the employment; that's why the standard of forest economists is to value a cubic metre of wood to the economy of British Columbia at $200. As a matter of fact, the average sale price alone is $133 per cubic metre, and that doesn't even take into account the multiplier effect of supplies and services.
So $200 per cubic metre is a standard that is accepted by the forest industry, and one I am not going to argue with; others might. Nevertheless, that's the figure we are dealing with, and I don't question it. I don't think we should set that aside. We have to consider it in any of our negotiations.
With respect to the question about the Haida, the Wilderness Advisory Committee does recommend that consultation should occur. I am advised by the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations (Hon. Mr. Rogers) that he has had officials attend there in the last little while. I can't advise you what those consultations concluded, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further, since that type of consultation discussion is carried out under the auspices of the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations. It would be anticipatory of me to comment further on administrative actions within his ministry.
I believe that answers the questions that have been posed to this point.
MR. WILLIAMS: I wonder if the minister could advise the House what compensation the government will be paying when it establishes the provincial park.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Compensation to whom?
MR. WILLIAMS: You're ready to compensate everybody and anything that moves when it comes to the federal government paying the bill. What are you willing to pay, in terms of various alienations and rights with respect to the remainder of the South Moresby archipelago?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: If you're asking about the TFL, we have the TFL that would be in the proposed provincial park. We have been advised by the Wilderness Advisory Committee that the figure could be up to $8 million — and we do have that money on the table. But the majority of the remaining TFL would be outside the provincial park. So our figure would be a maximum of $8 million. That's a recommendation from the WAC.
MR. WILLIAMS: Is the minister then saying that those volumes times $200 a cubic metre is the amount you want in compensation for the provincial park?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: The figure of $8 million is the assessment that has been suggested by us by the WAC. But don't forget that the WAC never contemplated the huge resource in the eastern parts of the island. That's why we arrive at the compensation figure — using a standard in the industry of $200 per cubic metre.
[ Page 1964 ]
MR. WILLIAMS: Shall we tango? Come on! That one doesn't wash, Mr. Minister. I'm sure that if you check out the numbers — and I'll do that — $200 times the volume in the provincial park will be substantially more than the $8 million you talk about. So there it is. You've got one standard of compensation by provincial taxpayers if it's a provincial park, and you've got a second standard of compensation if it's a federal park. It's a double game you're playing. Sure, 85 percent of it, you say, is going to be in a provincial park — and that's $8 million worth. Come on! It doesn't fit at all.
If there's a provincial park, are you ready and willing to spend $50 million on developing the tourism infrastructure that's necessary in the Queen Charlottes to make this fully the asset that it can be?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: No, and neither is the federal government.
MR. WILLIAMS: That isn't what Mr. Mazankowski's letter says, Madam Chairman. It says $50 million over ten years, to establish the infrastructure in terms of roads, cultural assets and a range of facilities — small business enhancement and the like. Is this administration prepared to do equal...?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I don't see how on earth, within a national park, where you have very, very restricted development, he could spend that type of money, without turning it into a Disneyland. And why on earth would he want to?
MR. WILLIAMS: There are other items: a visitor centre in Sandspit, a visitor centre in Queen Charlotte City and facilities on South Moresby. But in addition, they perceived the need in the rest of the Queen Charlotte Islands for development activity, to bring it up to some sort of standard in terms of modem tourist facilities, infrastructure and the like. So the $50 million was not seen as within the park archipelago but in the major islands — Graham and the island to the south. So we're asking, Mr. Minister: is this government prepared to spend equal dollars in building the infrastructure on the islands outside the park?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: We would have a smaller commitment from the parks branch of the provincial ministry. But don't forget that we wouldn't alienate all the employment that a federal park would. We wouldn't turn Sandspit into a ghost town, as you're recommending. We wouldn't turf out the people who work for Frank Beban Logging. We wouldn't shut down shifts in pulp mills and sawmills because of the lack of fibre supply. It's interesting. This is the first time in my history I've heard the opposition argue for unemployment. It's remarkable.
MR. WILLIAMS: Let's talk about jobs, Mr. Minister. There are 70 jobs there. They're itinerant loggers; they're not full-time inhabitants of the Queen Charlotte Islands.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: They've got a school there and everything.
MR. WILLIAMS: Oh, yes, but many of them are from the lower mainland and southern Vancouver Island. The federal government says 370 jobs would result from establishing the federal park. That's 370 jobs versus 70. They're talking about 3,700 person-years in terms of this exercise. You people don't seem to be willing to concede significant activity, and you talk about all of these downstream, value-added jobs that are tied to logging in the Queen Charlottes, Mr. Minister,
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Have you heard of sawmills and things like that?
MR. WILLIAMS: Yes, I have heard of pulp mills; I have heard of sawmills. I wonder if the minister knows that we actually export logs from British Columbia. I wonder if he knows that he was part of the cabinet that designated all of the Queen Charlottes, all of the mid-coast, everything back of the Alaska panhandle as log export territory in British Columbia — an area the size of France or something like that.
If you want those jobs in British Columbia, you keep those raw materials in British Columbia. I wonder if the minister knows we now export chips out of British Columbia, the main feed for sawmills.
MR. WILLIAMS: Oh, dismiss it. All of the southern interior, from your riding south, is exporting chips from the province right now. It doesn't fit. We're talking about a log exporting economy; you're talking about $200 a cubic metre.
That assumes that we've got furniture factories; that assumes that we've got sawmills; that assumes that we've got pulp mills. That doesn't assume the reality of the Queen Charlottes, which are being gutted for log export, which are a raw material supplier for the Pacific Rim. The most valuable logs in British Columbia are today being exported. The best logs of the Charlottes are being exported. The best logs from the mid-coast and back to the panhandle are all being exported on a scale unprecedented in the history of British Columbia. You can't use the $200 number, Mr. Minister.
MR. SERWA: On a point of order, is he addressing the questions to the Minister of the Environment (Hon. Mr. Strachan) or to the Minister of Forests and Lands (Hon. Mr. Parker)? We're here for the estimates of the Minister of Environment and Parks. He is not being relevant to the ministry.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Thank you, hon. member. The Chair feels that the remarks being made are in order. Would the first member for Vancouver East please continue?
MR. WILLIAMS: The minister has indicated that significantly less would be spent if a provincial park were established. Can the minister advise us what sort of budget he would then see in terms of infrastructure in the islands in terms of visitors' facilities in Queen Charlotte city and Sandspit and in South Moresby, and in terms of employment of the Haida?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I don't have a figure as yet, and I guess that would be anticipating next year's budget. Firstly, if we stay with the provincial park and we continue the resource activity that we have on the eastern islands of the archipelago, Sandspit can get along very, very well with that
[ Page 1965 ]
economic activity. That's why Sandspit is alive and well now, simply because of economic activity.
You don't need to inject any more cash into Sandspit which, under the federal proposal, would become a ghost town. That is the supply economy for Sandspit, and if the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Miller) wants to comment, he can.
The member mentioned tourism activity. First of all, the tourism period there is eight to ten weeks per year. That can't be denied.
AN HON. MEMBER: Same as Pacific Rim.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Pacific Rim, by the way, didn't get paid for for about 15 years. That's what bothered us there. In any event, the tourism activity in that area, which is quite inhospitable for the majority of the year, is eight to ten weeks. Any economic activity as a result of tourism would be extremely seasonal and would not in any way come close to the economic benefit of continued harvesting on the areas we've defined as being outside the park.
MR. WILLIAMS: But at the same time there's compensation being paid. So that's that.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Good. You admit to it.
MR. WILLIAMS: No, you talk about compensation being paid, and then you dismiss it. Then you want to start comparing apples and oranges after the exercise. I don't really think you can do that.
This administration is going back to the federal government now. I guess you're asking for more. There have been some interesting offers of more. One of them came from Canada's outstanding author, Margaret Atwood. She indicated she was prepared to offer the government of this province, because it was holding these lands to ransom, $1,000 — adding to the compensation you're demanding. Are you prepared to accept Margaret Atwood's offer?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Well, if the federal government is going to enter into agreement with us for the large park that they've requested, I think her money would be better off delivered to them; they would be paying the bill.
MR. WILLIAMS: I think she wanted to save the stamp, since it would clearly be transferred to British Columbia, and in the mails these days, one never knows.
Is the minister also talking about compensation to the individual loggers involved in the area? Could he elaborate on that?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Thank you for the question, Mr. Member. When we established that it would be part of our proposal to Canada that they should bring in a national accounting firm of some national prominence to determine the loss that will occur for the working men and women displaced from Lyell Island, we said that, number one. there has to be fair and adequate compensation for the employees of Frank Beban Logging, especially the older people who may be reaching retirement. There should be some sort of retirement package built into that — whatever fair personnel practices in industry are. In terms of the loggers laid off on March 17, when we offered the moratorium, we've said that those people had to be considered from that date — March 17 — and that was in our package.
We further said that the independent determination should include a severance package, and we'll accept whatever standard industry practices there are in the case of a fellow who's been with a company for 20 years and may not find other employment — one month per year, or whatever. That's not our suggestion, but we thought that the standards normally accepted in industry would apply, and I think they are fairly easy to determine.
It was an integral part of our suggestion to the federal government that, when setting up this independent determination, the employees of Frank Beban be properly considered. There is not only that loss of income, but in many cases the cost of relocating them, since many of them have large mobile homes quite permanently situated there, and there's a cost to getting them off by barge. That was all built into our recommendation.
MR. WILLIAMS: The federal government has indicated an interesting concept of a national park reserve, pending the outcome of land-claim negotiations with the Haida people. Is that the same concept that the minister has with respect to the provincial park?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: No, ours would be a provincial park under the Park Act, with some small areas set aside for recreation areas where there are known mineral claims. I don't know what the federal government means by a national park reserve. If they really see it as a reserve, "reserve" normally means a very, very tight control over the land. If that were in place, I don't see how they could anticipate the tourism business. It's an interesting concept, but I think it's one that would be quite improbable to put in place. But that's just my opinion. Our establishment of a park would be under the Park Act.
MR. WILLIAMS: But it really is an interesting beginning in terms of cooperation with the indigenous people. If one thinks about the tourism potential of the Queen Charlottes, one can't help but think about the Haida nation as part of that. One of the great things is to see the work of these people — their cultural activities, the work of their artisans and artists. They are producing probably Canada's finest artists today. People like Bill Reid, Robert Davidson and others are among the country's national treasures in terms of tremendous artistic abilities. That could be a unique offering in terms of tourism in the province, in a park where the Haida people are indelibly a part of the park activity.
Is the minister saying that he is dismissing that option in terms of really optimizing the tourist potential of that region and that park, in terms of this provincial structure he sees?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: There is no question, as I said earlier. The WAC indicates that consultation with the Haida nation in other areas.... I'll check this out; I don't have the documentation, nor do I have the appropriate official with me, but I think on Anthony Island, which is a provincial reserve, we do involve the Haidas. I'll advise you further, Mr. Member, when I hear more about that.
But, no, in provincial parks we involve many people, and would be.... If South Moresby were a provincial park, obviously the Haida would be very much involved. I can't
[ Page 1966 ]
see any reason why we wouldn't. You're right, there's a remarkable culture there, and there's a lot they could assist with and be part of.
MR. GUNO: Madam Chairman, in response to our Environment critic's question relating to consultation with the Haidas, the minister conveyed the impression that some form of consultation is going on right now. I'm wondering if the minister can confirm whether or not that consultation has to do with the present issue relating to the national park.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: As Minister of Environment, and not Minister of Intergovernmental Relations, I can only advise you that the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations (Hon. Mr. Rogers) told me that an official of his ministry was there last week discussing it. I haven't heard any report. That might be a more appropriate question for the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations, either in question period or during his estimates. I'll try to find the information for you, but that's all I can advance at this time: that officials from the ministry were there last week, as far as I know.
MR. GUNO: I have a more recent report on the officials' activities in the Queen Charlottes, and this is from a conversation I had with the president of the Council of the Haida Nation, Miles Richardson, who informs me that up till two days ago there had been no contact whatsoever with the Haidas relating to this particular issue.
You are, I guess, in charge of this whole business. What sort of consultation with the Haidas are you contemplating? What sort of things do you see being relevant subjects for discussion?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Madam Chairman, really anything they want to bring to us. If this does become a provincial park, I'll be more than happy to discuss any initiatives they have. You'll know from my former ministry that it was my style to discuss economic and cultural initiatives with the native peoples. I have no problem with that at all.
MR. GUNO: If the Haidas were also to say that they are entitled to some form of compensation in alienating their interests in South Moresby, would you agree that the province would consider that as an item to be discussed?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I regret to tell you we'd be dealing with another forum in that case, if you're speaking of a land-claim settlement. I will not comment on that.
MR. MILLER: Madam Chairman, we're perhaps breaking some new ground when we discuss the whole issue of compensation. As far as I'm aware, there are no hard and fast rules laid down in legislation. There are some references in the Forest Act, and the minister might want to comment. There has never really been a test in terms of compensation, what is due, what the obligation of the province is, what compensation logging companies could reasonably expect. I am quite surprised when you talk about the compensation that may be due to individual employees who may be displaced as a result of a federal park being put into place — and not because I'm opposed to that. In fact, I'm in favour of it. Having grown up on the coast, I'm also aware of the sad history of some of the communities that did exist on the coast of British Columbia that essentially were formed because of logging.
I spent a few years when I was quite young in a small community called Beaver Cove, which, to all intents and purposes, no longer exists. We have to recognize that that has been part of our history, and there certainly are efforts being made by the leaders in some communities — for example, Port Clements — to try to have more of a say in how these TFLs are run in terms of the whole question of long-term stability of the community.
I'm straying a bit from the Ministry of Environment and Parks, but that's really the first question. You talk about compensation to individual employees. I think it should be there. Are you following the union-negotiated compensation plans that currently exist in the joint labour agreements covering the forest industry? We had some debate about those plans in terms of automation and the impact of tech change. In other words, will severance be given to those employees on that basis? There needs to be a fuller disclosure of just what the ministry has planned.
Secondly, what kind of total dollar figure has the minister contemplated would be required to compensate the individuals who may require compensation? Thirdly, is the minister saying that 70 people will require compensation if tomorrow the provincial government comes to agreement with the federal government on the federal proposal? How many working people would be liable for compensation? I assume that there has been some work done in that regard.
Inevitably when you are discussing this issue, you have to bring in issues that surround it. My colleague from Atlin talked about discussions with the Haidas. It certainly seems to me to be an appropriate place to raise those issues that are not really peripheral but central to the whole debate.
Has the minister done any work, or does he know if the federal government has done any work, on the kind of benefit that would flow to the Haidas? I'm thinking particularly of the situation that exists on the reserves at Skidegate and Masset. There are extremely high levels of unemployment. I suspect that Masset is probably a little worse off than Skidegate.
Nonetheless, that is the situation. As the minister should well be aware, having been the minister responsible for native affairs in this province, there are some pretty tragic situations that exist in this province with regard to the lack of economic development, the lack of opportunities, the really high rates of unemployment and all those kinds of social problems that are attendant to that situation in native Indian reserves.
Have you done any work to see what kind of benefit could flow to the people of the Queen Charlotte Islands in terms of those people actually finding some opportunities for employment? Regarding South Moresby, we're well aware on this side of the House that we're not talking about Hawaii, and I don't think anybody over here has ever suggested that we are. But there is a body of opinion, and we share it, that there are significant benefits to preserving the area.
I'm concerned that in doing their economic analysis the government perhaps has ignored some of the benefits that would flow. You talk about 70 jobs. God, I've done more in my life to date to fight for jobs as an active trade unionist than a lot of people. I've not won too many battles. Quite frankly, Mr. Minister, when it came to the pulp mill deciding, as they did in 1976 under this government, to shut down an existent pulp mill and lay 300 workers off, I didn't have much satisfaction when I appealed directly to the Premier to intervene
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— I had none. The Premier said: "That's the way things are." Subsequently, when there were further layoffs under an organization that this government created, the B.C. Resources Investment Corporation badly mismanaged.... Hundreds of jobs were lost for an extended period of time. We had no satisfaction, Mr. Minister, when it came to appealing to the government to try to intervene on behalf of the working people who had been displaced. We couldn't even get the Premier to intervene and get a small demolition contractor to agree to hire workers who had been laid off, essentially as a result of a government decision to shut down an operation employing some 300 workers.
So there's no monopoly, Mr. Minister, in terms of any political party wanting to protect and indeed promote and create some more jobs in this province. It becomes a bit of a red herring when that is thrown so casually into the discussion, on the basis that it has been to date.
So there are a number of questions there. As I said, the last one I'm particularly concerned about, or interested in, really, is the opportunities that would flow, I believe, to a number of Haidas and a lot of the young people who would be involved not only in the operation of the national park reserve but also in the infrastructure, in terms of the tourist potential, guiding and all of those other kinds of activities. It seems to me that that demands, or should have demanded up to this point, a very careful scrutiny before we get into this debate of whether or not there's adequate compensation.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: The member mentioned standards of compensation, and whether there is legislation or whatever; whether it is a union contractor. We did not make that determination. There are standards in the accounting practice when one is put out of a job. There are standards for compensation when you take away part of someone's business. Those determinations are reasonably easy to achieve. I'm sure that if you spoke to the first member for Nanaimo (Mr. Stupich), he could tell you what standard practices would be acceptable to chartered accountants and to the accounting profession in terms of this type of determination.
We have not identified what the total number would be. We have a reasonably good idea. But it has been my position, and the position of the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Parker), because we were co-authors of this submission, that we would not in any way state what the government felt the number should be; that we should leave it most appropriately in the hands of an independent expert — expert opinion, an independent source, and one that will simply establish fair compensation for all of the economic loss.
The members opposite, Madam Chairman, keep dwelling on the 70 jobs, as if that's nothing. Seventy jobs is something.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: No, I didn't. Seventy jobs is something. But I'll tell you what: that's only part of the unemployment that could result from this alienation of that TFL. Western Forest Products has three sawmills and two pulp mills. They rely heavily on that fibre supply. They have made that investment to get that TFL. You can calculate it yourself, or talk to someone in the woods industry. If you take away that fibre supply from the TFL, what is their economic loss? Does it mean one shift per sawmill down? Does it mean two shifts? Does it mean one mill closed? That's what you have to consider.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: If they're operating three sawmills and two pulp mills, obviously they're in pretty good need of fibre, aren't they? And they're probably using it in....
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I don't know. I don't think that's part of the equation. On the west coast log market, it could be that they trade species. They might sell one species they're logging for export and use that money to buy another species. But they have to have that cash and that fibre supply in place to do it — to keep that large Western Forest Products economy going.
As I said, there are three sawmills and two pulp mills. Think about it; think it through. It's much more than 70 people — who, by the way, are permanent. I heard your comment earlier: "But it's only part-time." If it were part-time, why would they build a school there?
MR. MILLER: I didn't say part-time.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I thought I heard you say it was. I was eavesdropping inappropriately then. Frank Behan has quite an infrastructure at PowRivCo, and he has made a substantial investment to keep it in place.
There's one more thing I did want to say. I found the information on Anthony Island with respect to the Haida. We have a contract in place with the Haida for watchman service and tour-guide service at the Anthony Island Provincial Park. This agreement has been in place for three years, and we would certainly consider further agreements of this nature if we did establish South Moresby as a provincial park.
MR. MILLER: I don't think I really got much of an answer on what kind of work the province has done in terms of the opportunity that may be created for the significantly high number of Haidas who currently are unemployed. In fact, I don't have the figures; I wish I had the figures not only for the Haidas, but for the islands as well.
Again, Mr. Minister, if you want to stray into the area of forest policy, I think there are some pretty convincing arguments in terms of that policy and what has been created. For example, in my community of Prince Rupert large volumes of round logs are exported. There are ships leaving that harbour daily. Again, I don't have the figures, but it's considerable. And it's conceded, I think, by anybody who has any understanding of the industry that that's the lowest value we get for our timber resource. All we do is cut it down, yard it out, tow it to the harbour and load it on a ship. Certainly there are jobs in doing those functions, but when you compare that to the value added in, for example, the little plant in Penticton that manufactures furniture for Ikea, you see that there is just an immense increase in the value of that wood. What that has created — and I'm touching on the subject you raised, which is the question of fibre supply — is a situation that has been documented on the Queen Charlotte Islands by very responsible people: a lot of fibre is left lying in the bush. It simply promotes that kind of inefficiency.
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There are also outstanding plans on the Queen Charlotte Islands — plans that are contingent on the development of some better hydro sources — for a sawmill in Port Clements. The municipality has been involved in terms of setting aside industrial land. There's a guy there who's a good entrepreneur. This fellow, despite the limitations he's now under, has managed to land contracts to sell cut lumber in Australia. And there's no shortage of fibre. There may be some difficulty in terms of access to fibre, but not in terms of a shortage of fibre. So to simply say, and I think in quite an alarmist way — it's unfortunate that the minister chooses to use that tone when he's responding to legitimate questions on this side of the House — that the development of the federal proposal would lead to the cancellation of a shift or two in a sawmill — that's what he said; he can correct himself if I'm misinterpreting what he said — or to cutbacks in the pulp mill.... Is the minister suggesting that this is taking place? If that's the case, why hasn't this information been put into the province's position with regard to South Moresby?
Secondly — I guess we have to go back to the very beginning — the Premier said last week, or whenever the negotiations failed: "I'm so relieved that the negotiations have failed and we can now implement the provincial position." Those were his words, I think exactly. And this morning I noted that the Premier said: "I'm so relieved that the negotiations are back on, because really I want a federal park." Mr. Minister, what we've been trying to get at — and we have been getting only rhetoric back — is the province's position and commitment. Is the province's position the one stated by the Premier this morning — that he wants the federal proposal? If it's not, perhaps you could elaborate on that. I'll sit down at this point, and let you respond.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Listen, we want a federal park. That's always been our position. That's why, on March 17 — St. Patrick's Day, for whatever that's worth — we ceased allowing cutting permits.
We went into this in good faith many months ago. We knew it would cause immediate unemployment. We knew it would cause some unrest in Sandspit and your riding. We knew that, but we took that chance, because in good faith we wanted to negotiate with the federal government for a provincial park. The cutting permits were going to be on the south slopes of Lyell Island, and we knew the federal government would not accept, as part of the park, an area that had been recently cut. On that basis, we said we would stop those cutting permits, and we did. Then we said: "Okay, federal government, we've shown you that we're acting in good faith. Now let's come out and we'll talk about it."
On April 8 the Hon. Tom McMillan, the Minister of the Environment, came to my office, and we had a proposal for him. The proposal was as follows; you've heard it before, but I'll say it again. We wanted a trust fund totalling $100 million — ten times ten; ten million for ten years — for intensive silviculture work in areas on the Queen Charlotte Islands that wouldn't become park — Graham Island, all in your riding.
MR. MILLER: And other areas.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: And other areas; specifically the Queen Charlotte Islands but generally the west coast. It would be inappropriate to say we're going to spend this money in Cranbrook, right? There's a fibre loss in that area, so we said we'll use this trust fund for general silviculture work in the area affected. I think that's fair. And by the way, in doing that, we gave them the full boundaries, what I call the Big Mac boundaries: everything from Tangil south, Lyell, all the eastern islands, the whole schmear; that became federal park. On April 8 we asked for a commitment for $20 million of tourism infrastructure, which Canada readily agreed to, and we also asked for transitional logging on Lyell so WFP could get moved out and find other areas — if we could find them — and Frank Behan could continue employment. Now that was not acceptable to the government of Canada, which I readily accepted, because that was the reason we stopped the cutting: you can't have a park that has cutting going on. We thought they could, but it's not in their legislation. They wouldn't go for it.
So then we said: "We will take transitional logging out of the equation — out of our offer. But that creates a pretty substantial economic hit on the Western Forest Products tree farm licence; Frank Beban, who has a substantial infrastructure and employs a lot of people; and a smaller timber licence held by Mac-Blo. So, Canada, to look after that loss that these three players are going to have, would you mind hiring a national accounting firm, have them come in, identify what the loss is going to be, and then pay the compensation?" We took no position on what the number ought to be. We said: "Let's just have it fairly determined." As a matter of fact, that came out of the motion in the House of Commons, which your party unanimously agreed to — compensation for affected parties. It's in the motion.
MR. WILLIAMS: Loss or value?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Economic loss.
MR. WILLIAMS: Not value?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Well, a TFL has remarkable value, Mr. Member. You must know; you've issued a few. And that had to be taken into consideration.
One more thing. I'll tell you, under the forest statutes you must give one year's notice, at least, to walk away from a TFL — only if the people are acting in bad faith, and in this case they're not; they're a very good operator. We wouldn't have a leg to stand on if we cut that one. So we had to have the federal government agree to a fair and appropriate determination of what the loss would be.
MR. MILLER: First of all, with regard to the point of departure between yourselves and the federal government, I believe the federal government estimated under the Forest Act some $31 million in terms of value for the timber that would be forgone, let's say, under the federal proposal. They made their offer of $31 million on the 75-25 split: they pay $23 million; you pay $8 million. That's really what it comes down to. My understanding is that, on the question of further compensation, there was an agreement by the federal government to proceed to an independent evaluation, but that they wanted the province to agree to cover 25 percent of the costs in excess of $31 million, and that their 75 percent would come out of the $50 million. Right?
Now going back to the original question I asked, and maybe you would be able to elaborate in terms of any discussions you have held: what would lead the federal government to conclude that the $31 million figure they came up with,
[ Page 1969 ]
using the Forest Act...? It seems to me that they put that figure forth with a fair degree of certainty. Obviously, they developed that. I assume they are bargaining in good faith. Maybe the minister would like to answer that. Does he believe that the federal government is bargaining in good faith? We might as well get them both on the table here. But given their offer and their feeling, seemingly, that that was indeed the offer — however, if you think it's more, we are prepared to submit that to an independent analyst on a 75-25 split — why do you think they are sticking so hard to the 31? Is it simply negotiating? Are they not negotiating in a good faith? Did they misuse the Forest Act? Maybe the minister could elaborate. I want to ask you more questions after this.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: They can talk about any numbers they want, and that is their position. All I have said is that I am not going to; I am going to wait for the firm appropriate determination. But you have really answered the question for everybody as to why we don't like their latest offer. Don't you understand? You have just described that we are going to give the government of Canada all our wood, and we are going to pay for it as well. So they end up with a national park; we get nothing. We get an economic loss in terms of fibre supply and end up paying for it. How ludicrous! What else do you want us to give away?
MR. SKELLY: Madam Chairman, I am probably one of the only people in the Legislature who has ever lived on south Moresby Island in the area that is now contemplated as a national park or a provincial park or otherwise. I lived at a place called Jedway on Harriet Harbour on the south side of Skincuttle Inlet, and I lived there 21 years ago, working for a mining company, teaching school and running the community for about a year. Of course, the mine shut down back in 1966 or 1967 — moved out all its equipment, put all its people out of work with no compensation whatsoever, and didn't feel too much concern about leaving the area because they weren't making a profit.
My experience in that area.... I've hiked down to Anthony Island and through the southern part of Moresby Island, and spent a good deal of time boating, rafting and doing a whole number of things up the east side of the island — Skedans, into Tanu and Cumshewa and places like that. So I've been to a great deal of the area. I think it's one of the most beautiful areas on the globe. It's an area of planetary significance, both in terms of its heritage and culture — the culture of the Haida people. Because of the importance of that area in terms of northwest coast culture, I think it deserves the kind of status the federal government is talking about, the kind of status that the many thousands of people who have written to this minister, other ministers and other members of the Legislature have recognized in that area and want to see preserved. I am a strong supporter of the establishment of a national park on the southern end of the Queen Charlotte Islands, and I think it will be an asset to this province.
The minister talks about giving it away. We're not giving away anything. We're getting a tremendous asset that will be an asset to the people of this province, the people of this country, the people of this planet; and we're getting that asset protected in perpetuity, for as long as we as human beings can possibly consider. So we're not losing anything here, Mr. Minister, and I'm surprised that you talk about losing things.
There are some problems with the loss of jobs on Lyell Island, and I recognize that problem. As a member who represents Alberni provincial constituency, where logging is one of the major sources of income and where sawmilling and processing forest products into pulp and paper and exporting those products worldwide is an extremely important part of the economy, I also recognize the kind of dislocation that can result when people lose jobs in the logging industry — and when they lose jobs in processing, and all the downstream impacts. It's difficult for my constituents, and I know it has cost....
MR. SKELLY: I'm not making your point. If you let me get to the end of my point, you'll discover that.
It's interesting that in my constituency as well, Mr. Minister, we have seen another national park established — the first national park established on the west coast of Canada; established under the government of W.A.C. Bennett — in what is now called Pacific Rim National Park. I can recall the MLA for Alberni, previous to this MLA, standing up in the Legislature and saying that there was only one way you could get into that national park — and he was referring to the Nitinat triangle area — and that was with a chainsaw and an axe. He was talking about the loss of jobs in the logging industry, the loss of jobs downstream, the loss of jobs in pulp and paper and sawmilling and that kind of thing.
I don't question his concern about those job losses because they are very important to us and to the people of the Alberni constituency, but I want to tell you that after Pacific Rim National Park had been established, far more jobs were lost in Alberni constituency as a result of technological change, change in the marketplace and the speed-up in production of forest products. Far more jobs were lost for those reasons, without a single hectare of forest land being lost from the forest land base, without a single cubic metre of fibre being lost from fibre that can be potentially logged and processed by the forest industry. Those jobs have been lost as a result of technological change. as a result of the speed-up in production, as a result of other changes that have been taking place in the forest industry
Not a single job in my constituency was lost as a result of the creation of Pacific Rim National Park. Yet nobody has ever talked about compensating those people for the loss of their jobs. It's just as serious to their families. It's just as serious to our communities. Ws just as serious in terms of the collapse of business people that serve those loggers and those forest industry workers. It's just as important in terms of the shutting down of schoolrooms and the dismissing of teachers and nurses and other public servants, because their jobs depend on those people who are working in the forest industry. Nobody in this government has ever given any concern for compensating communities like Alberni for the employment losses we have suffered as a result of the changes that took place in the forest industry between 1981 and this current date.
It seems that these 70 jobs are so important that this minister might sabotage the negotiations to set up the national park. That's what concerns me. In my riding, the experience with the creation of the national park goes exactly contrary to the experience that the minister suggests the people in the Queen Charlottes will have. We have had a tremendous boom in the tourist industry on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We have had upwards of 350,000 people come out to that area which a former Social Credit MLA said was only accessible
[ Page 1970 ]
with a chainsaw and an axe. As a result of those tourists coming to that area, to Tofino and Ucluelet — coming by car, boat, aircraft; by all those means of transportation — to visit Pacific Rim National Park, hundreds upon hundreds of jobs have been created, which has been a boon to the area. In fact, they have almost compensated for the jobs that were lost in Alberni in the forest industry as a result of technological change.
I think the park in the Queen Charlotte Islands will serve the same use as Pacific Rim National Park. Jobs will be created in the service area. Jobs will be created in developing infrastructure for the growing communities outside of the park boundaries. Jobs have been created for people who have lived in that area for years and who now conduct boat trips and tours north of the national park and into areas along the west coast of Vancouver Island that have as yet not been opened to the tourist industry. Opportunities have been created for native people on reserves such as Ahousat, which, as a result of the decline in the fishing and forest industries, experienced a chronic state of unemployment. Those communities are now growing. It has resulted in the development of infrastructure in terms of sewer and water systems to accommodate tourists, but also to provide development in the region. It has resulted in the development of educational infrastructure, with the growth of the North Island College on the west coast.
That park has introduced changes into the region which have allowed us to introduce a balanced economy so that we are not reliant simply on forestry and fisheries; we are also reliant on tourism. If this minister does not pursue the establishment of a national park on the Queen Charlottes as vigorously as the people want him to.... As he indicated, 28 Members of Parliament from British Columbia unanimously supported the establishment of a national park in the Queen Charlotte Islands. I want to say, Mr. Minister, that they don't want to deny compensation to those people who are going to suffer as a result of the transition that takes place. We are concerned about those people as well, and if compensation can be arranged then we should make it fair and done to the satisfaction of those people.
The forest industry seems to look at compensation in a very different way. I can recall when the regional vice-president of MacMillan Bloedel came to a city council meeting in Port Alberni, and they asked him: "Don't you feel any concern about the 3,000 or 4,000 people that you've laid off in the forest industry in the last year and a half?" He said: "Is there no social safety net?" It reminds you a bit of Charles Dickens.
So the forest companies do not look at compensation in the same way. In the last two years we've seen MacMillan Bloedel pull back all of their contractors from the west coast of Vancouver Island, because they say it's uneconomic to log. Yet they have no hesitation in demanding a substantial level of compensation for themselves for the timber that they've lost in that area.
I think the question here, Mr. Minister, is a determination of priorities. We should pursue the creation of this national park as vigorously as we possibly can. It will be a tremendous asset to the people of British Columbia. It will be a tremendous employment generator on the northwest coast; in fact, for many people who have traditionally been left outside of the employment process when it comes to logging and forest products manufacture. So I think it's going to distribute the benefits far more fairly than they have been distributed in the past. We'll get that asset. We'll get those increased jobs. We'll distribute those jobs more fairly than jobs have been distributed in the past.
As I said before, we should be pursuing this park proposal as vigorously as we possibly can. I think we have an example on the west coast of Vancouver Island, where that park has been our saving grace. With the decline in jobs in the forest industry, that park has created many new jobs for people who otherwise would have been on welfare and unemployment insurance. I hope that the minister is pursuing these negotiations as vigorously as he can, in the interests of all British Columbians and in the interests of the people of Canada and the people of this planet.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I can assure you that we're pursuing a federal park as vigorously as we can. I think that was evident, as I said earlier, by the fact that in good faith we put a cutting moratorium in place in March.
For the information of the member for Alberni (Mr. Skelly), I have the map here. I looked up Jedway, and as best as I can see, that area would be protected in the provincial park. All the areas where you used to go boating would also be protected, because WAC recommendations clearly indicate that all the seascapes in that inner passage should be protected.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Yes, the seascape on the inner passage of Lyell Island, too. Have you seen the map of the provincial proposal? Could you tell me what it says with respect to Darwin Sound protection?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: The description of the Wilderness Advisory Committee number 3. With respect to Darwin Sound, do you know what it says?
MR. SKELLY: No.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Okay. I just wanted to establish what the member knew about the WAC provincial recommendation, and I think I did.
Now the member talks about the tourist potential, and of course that's something that's touted by everybody, and yet this flies in the face of the reason we have to protect South Moresby in the first place. I'll read a description opening the second paragraph of the Wilderness Advisory Committee: "The area is renowned for its diverse and high quality of ecological values. These include many sea-bird colonies, special stands of old-growth trees, falcon-nesting sites" — and I'm aware of those — "special alpine and sub alpine areas, salmonid habitat, lakes displaying stickleback evolution, sea lion rookeries, and so on."
The member for Alberni is suggesting that if we go for this we can anticipate 350,000 in a ten-week period — that's 35,000 people a week — to look at this very, very sensitive ecology. Mr. Member, the two don't wash. The last thing anyone would want is that very high-level.... You'd stomp those poor little sea-birds right into the ground, I can assure you, with that number of people tromping around.
[ Page 1971 ]
How you reckon we can get 350,000 people on to South Moresby, in spite of its size....
MR. SKELLY: On a point of order, I don't mind the minister using my figures, but I don't like to see those figures being distorted. I indicated that upwards of 350,000 people visit Tofino and Ucluelet each year as a result of the creation of the west coast national park. I never at any time suggested that 350,000 people would go to the Queen Charlotte Islands. I also pointed out to the....
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Hon. member, I don't believe it is a point of order.
MR. SKELLY: I just wanted the member to stop distorting the figures that I provided, with respect to the west coast....
MADAM CHAIRMAN: I would advise the hon. member that in future you can stand up to make your comments when a member is finished with his. Would the minister please continue.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: This may come as a surprise to you, but in committee you're allowed to speak as many times as you want. You don’t just have one shot at it. You don't have to use points of order to gain the floor; you can simply stand up when someone else has taken his place.
In any event, the tourist value will be there, but let me assure you: we know that it's a minimum season; it's eight to ten weeks. I was interviewed on the CBC the other day, and they told me what a remarkable tourist area this was. Just before going on the air there was the weather, and it predicted gale-force winds for the area, and this is June 19. So it's interesting. I guess you can have it both ways.
It's beautiful, but it is quite inhospitable for much of the year, which is what makes it so beautiful. So we really have to discount numbers of tourists when we hear them. First of all, because of its sensitivity, the area that we want to set aside as a provincial park could not take that amount of tourism. It would be totally inappropriate. And I don't think the Haida people would particularly care for that number of people tromping around. As a minister in charge of parks, I wouldn't either, not in these very sensitive areas. So though tourism is valuable — and I'll tell you, it would be quite expensive there — you just can't blow up those figures. As I said a couple of months ago, this is not Lake Louise; it's not Hawaii. It's an area that has to be protected, which is what we are going to do, I can assure you.
MR. SKELLY: I know we want to get onto other issues. On the issue of tourism, I pointed out to the minister the west coast experience with the creation of the Pacific Rim National Park. There are some extremely sensitive areas there as well. Because of the increased management ability which results from having the park staff in that area, they are able to manage those areas much better than they would had they left it within the small number of provincial parks that were out there prior to the establishment of the national park, or if they had left it with no park at all. Those very sensitive areas would not have received the kind of protection and management that they do now as a result of the creation of the park. So we're able to bring those tourists to the west coast of Vancouver Island. At the same time, we're able to protect those sensitive areas because of the complement of park staff in that area. I think we've got the best of all worlds as a result of the creation and staffing of that national park.
In addition, I pointed out to the minister that people come through Vancouver or through Victoria or through other parts of British Columbia, and through Nanaimo and Port Alberni, in order to get to Pacific Rim National Park. All of those people benefit from the expenditure of tourist dollars in those communities along the way. I know that we in Port Alberni are very appreciative of the money left in our community by touristo passing through on the way to Pacific Rim.
Not only that, the tourist experience outside the park boundaries on the west coast is also attractive to people who are coming to the west coast to see the national park. They do visit areas such as Ahousat — as I pointed out — Hot Springs Cove north of the park boundary, and the whole area north to Muchalat Inlet and to Nootka Sound.
The creation of the park has attracted tourists to the whole region, and I am convinced that this will do the same with the Queen Charlotte Islands. Yes, the Queen Charlotte Islands are expensive to get to at this point, because there is very little in the way of airplane service to the region. You'll find, Mr. Minister, when the tourism begins to develop and when the park is in place, that more people will want to get there and that airline service to the park and to the northwest coast of British Columbia will improve dramatically.
Along with that infrastructure which is developed for the tourists. the people in the area will be able to take advantage of that infrastructure development. It goes both ways. That's why we have a tourist industry: in order to improve that infrastructure and benefit all of the citizens of British Columbia, all of the citizens in the region.
Those tourists will be traveling to all parts of the northwest coast. They will go to Stewart, Prince Rupert and Kitimat. They will go to the valley of the Skeena River. They will go to the constituency of my friend from Atlin, and they will bring economic benefit to the whole region. We don't want to see too many people visiting the national park, and especially those tourist-sensitive sites within the national park, but there are large areas of South Moresby that could absorb far more tourists than come there at the present time. I think they will be attracted there as a result of the creation of the park
From the sounds of it, the minister really hasn't done an adequate study of the tourist development potential of the region. It appears that while the federal government is well armed in its negotiations and knows the benefits of the creation of a national park on the northwest coast, this minister doesn't seem to have done his homework and doesn't have the information he needs.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I simply listen to the weather report, Mr. Member, and speak to other members who know the area, and I can tell you that the tourism is limited. Anyway, I enjoyed your comments.
MS. EDWARDS: Madam Chair, I'm extremely pleased to hear that the minister favours a federal park, because when he talks about a provincial park we all know that there are a number of weaknesses with provincial parks that don't seem to come up when it comes to federal parks.
The minister has said himself that he is not really sure how he would handle the issue that goes on and on, as far as tourism is concerned: that is, if you are going to develop a
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wilderness area, how do you develop a wilderness area for nobody? If you are developing it for somebody, how do you call it a wilderness area? I would suggest that the national parks have done a fairly good job on that. In fact, you compared it to Jasper and said: "This is no Jasper. We need to protect." Well, let me tell you that there is a large area in Jasper National Park that needs a whole lot of protection, and the national park administration has been able to cope with that, I think, in a way that most of us admire.
So I think that the desire to have a federal park is good to hear. We don't want this limited provincial park area, certainly not for the tourist area. The Minister of Tourism (Hon. Mr. Reid) has come in again; I am sure that he would agree with me that we would rather have the protection of a national park than the kind of thing that can happen in a provincial park, the kind of cuts in funding that have been happening to national parks, the kind of.... We don't know, there are a lot of areas that have been wanting to be designated as provincial parks. All right, is this going to come through? Is this going to come out of what the budget is there, and so on? We hope, Mr. Minister, that you will take the money you were going to spend for a provincial park and give it to the federal government; they will make you an even better facility than you would have with a provincial park, which wouldn't have the protection against mining and so on.
What I am somewhat concerned about is that there has been an awful lot of talk here about compensation for the forest industry. The forest industry has been talked about a whole lot. I am not sure that anybody has talked about what would happen if we don't have the tourist industry developed there. The tourist industry may be number two in British Columbia, but it is number one worldwide. Wilderness parks and wilderness tourism is the fastest-growing sector of that particular industry.
Canada is very unusual in its ability to develop and market wilderness areas. I know that our pitch, if you like, in that area has been going that way. Canada still has areas that are wilderness. They are known worldwide. The Queen Charlotte Islands don't have to be pitched the way the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail does. They already have international promotion; they are known worldwide. There are people throughout the whole world who are writing letters to say: "Save the Queen Charlotte Islands and make them into a wilderness conservancy, a park." So already we have a start with the Queen Charlotte Islands. I don't think that the world-class travelers who at first are going to have to pay the prices that you've been talking about — and at first it will be expensive — are going to come to an area that has been touted as a planetary concern and of that value as a wilderness area if in fact they're going to see logging scars on it, and perhaps the development of a mine along the coast. That won't work. It doesn't go together, Mr. Minister.
I haven't had the opportunity to ask the Minister of Tourism in his estimates yet, but I have heard in my questioning that the Ministry of Tourism was very supportive of the idea of the Queen Charlotte Islands being developed as a national park. In fact, when I asked some of the staff at the ministry whether they have been willing to support the preservation of the boundaries of Strathcona Park and the preservation of the designation so that there was no mining in Strathcona Park, the answer I got was no, we're putting all our efforts into promoting a park in the Queen Charlotte Islands.
If the Ministry of Tourism does the kind of promotion that they've been doing, encouraging it, putting all their efforts into getting the park that they want in British Columbia this year in the Queen Charlotte Islands, why has that gone down the drain? Why is it that we hear: "Well, tourism won't mean much in the Queen Charlotte Islands; it will only be eight to ten weeks"? That's not what happens in the Pacific Rim National Park, which has similar climate. That's not what happens at any other park where the climate may be rough. Those things are overcome by people who are interested in wilderness. I'm curious, Mr. Minister, why it is that all of a sudden the tourist component, and the number of jobs that could be created by tourism.... I am reluctant to put a figure on it, but it goes anywhere from.... There will always be more jobs than would be lost to logging if the islands became a park. So why is it that all of a sudden that has become something of very little interest?
The tourism ministry has said that they were working with the Ministry of Environment, so I'm asking you what has come of this, of a way of costing out the equation, if you like. It's a world of bottom lines. We want to know some cost equation as to what you lose with a tourism job. What is the value of a park in employment compared to the value of this hectare of forest in a different way? That, I was told, was to be developed — we were very close to that, and you were to find it. As I understood it, there were some people who thought that they already had a fairly reliable method of calculating that. In fact, as I say, there would at least be more jobs than would be lost in the forest industry, based on a calculation like that. Basically, I want to ask the minister: why is it that all of a sudden tourism doesn't seem to matter? You're saying we can't have tourism; we won't be able to take anybody in; we won't be able to have the numbers; there won't be the jobs. What happened?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: The Ministry of Tourism has looked at the Queen Charlotte areas because there's no infrastructure there at all. Strathcona is a little different. That's why the minister has just advised me that they're accentuating their numbers there.
The only comment I made with respect to tourism potential was that this is not sipping tea at Lake Louise — and it sure isn't. I worked for two years at Lake Louise when I was going to school. I grew up in Calgary, so I'm pretty familiar with that area. Lake Louise is on a trans-Canada rail line, which is how it got started in the first place; Jasper got started for the same reason. It's on the Trans-Canada Highway. It has a pretty good summer season: middle of June until about the middle of September. It's accessible to hundreds of thousands of motorists and people traveling on the train, or driving in from Calgary, whatever. It's totally different than what we're talking about on the Queen Charlotte Islands, and particularly the South Moresby area.
The other thing I'd like to point out for the benefit of the committee is that if there were a federal park, mining would still occur. That's one of their positions. They can't step over those claims any more than we can. So don't take comfort in the fact that a national park would not allow mining. We know from the federal government that mining would still be an activity until the claims were quit or were extinguished, which by the way is the same position we take in our ministry with respect to mining claims. So that would be there.
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What we're simply saying.... Sure, we've got a philosophical argument. I guess your party has taken a position, and you want to hang in there. I can't say that I blame you. I'm in favour of a national park myself But you seem to be discounting the efforts made by the province of British Columbia and the government of British Columbia. I guess that's your position too, but I'll get back to it again.
The provincial park would be 85 percent of the size of the national park. We're dealing with 105,000 hectares here. That's our proposal, whereas the federal park would be 130,000 hectares, so we're not that much smaller. The only thing we're not alienating for park purposes is the very productive east side of Lyell Island and the other islands down. We are preserving the seascapes, as I explained to the member for Alberni (Mr. Skelly). Every place that he used to sail on, all those passages, will be preserved.
For example, on Lyell Island on the inside passage.... There would be no cutting on that seascape to a height of land where you couldn't see any logging scars. We are preserving it totally, and following completely and quite religiously the recommendations of the Wilderness Advisory Committee. We want to preserve as much as we can.
What it boils down to is this: we see here that we're really getting the best of both worlds. We establish a remark-able park. There is no question about that, and you only have to look at the map to see that. Yet we still maintain employment and the economic resource for the province of British Columbia. We think we can have both; we're sincere about that. We think the position of the federal government, particularly Mr. McMillan, who rejected in January of this year the provincial Wilderness Advisory Committee report.... He said it wasn't big enough. We think he's being far too ambitious. Why on earth he wants to take rather ordinary islands such as Lyell — I mean, outside of Windy Bay.... There is nothing unique about them. There are areas like this that exist all up and down the west coast, and your members will tell you that. Why he wants to set that aside as a national park is beyond me. There are no great, unique values on that part of Lyell that we recommend cutting. The unique values are in the inner straits — outside of Windy Bay, which we're going to preserve. The really unique things that Canada and the planet, as you call it, want to be preserved will be preserved. I would invite you to look at the map, to look at the Wilderness Advisory Committee report, and you will see that. We have no compunction about sticking with our provincial position if we have to.
We would like to see a federal park, but if we're going to go for that huge area, the government of Canada is going to have to pay for it. We're really upset they didn't accept the original national park proposal of the Wilderness Advisory Committee. Why on earth they walked away from that one is beyond me, but they did. They wanted much more, so we're just going to have to ask them for more compensation.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: It's that simple. And it's your money that they're taking, Madam Member.
MS. EDWARDS: Mr. Minister, I'm well aware that the federal government money and the provincial government money is all my money. Good. The issue to me is that all of a sudden this whole project centres around an extractive industry, instead of looking to the tourism industry, which this government recognizes as a growth industry in this province. It's one of the industries that are going to create the jobs, if in fact we can take advantage of this rare resource that we have. I am distressed by listening to the discussion when we end up talking consistently about recompense for the forest industry and what we're going to take off that way, without talking positively about the advantages of tourism. I don't see any reason.... If we apply our imagination and our abilities in this province to that as a tourism resource, I don't think there's any possible way that it will be used only eight to ten weeks of the year. I can't imagine that is the way it is. We've got people in this province who do all sorts of things in the cold and the wind, the water and so forth. I think that's what crazy tourists are going to pay to be able to join. No, I just don't think eight to ten weeks is a reasonable figure. If you have that as a figure, was it only the weather report on the CBC that made you conclude that?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Actually, it was Environment Canada who did the weather report; it was reported on the CBC. I was on Graham Island in 1959. That's the last time I was there, and I must admit it was quite beautiful. I've talked to a lot of people at Sandspit — the Moresby Island concerned group, whom the Leader of the Opposition has responded to, and others — and they have told me about the weather patterns on South Moresby.
MR. WILLIAMS: All members of the Social Credit league.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Would you like to take this debate to Sandspit? Would you? Yes or no. I'll bet you wouldn't. And we'll talk about weather and everything else.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I'm sorry, I can't change the weather, Madam Member. I'd love to say that the tourism season is longer. I'd love to say that the sun shines there 365 days of the year. I'd like to say that they don't have gale-force winds. I would like to say that the Hecate Strait is not the most dangerous body of water in North America. I would like to say lots of those things, but it is just not so.
They have eight to ten weeks of tourism activity. It is remarkable when it is there. I sincerely hope tourism can continue and flourish and do well, but when you look at eight to ten weeks of employment in the tourism industry, which doesn't pay as well as the logging industry, I don't see how you can compare the two.
But I don't see, finally, how you cannot accept the provincial government position that we can have the best of both worlds with a provincial government park. We could have the best of both worlds with the federal park as proposed by WAC, but Mr. McMillan won't accept it. He wants this huge thing that really extracts a great resource from the province of British Columbia, money that I can use for
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conservation officers and many other things I am sure my critic is going to be dealing with. He says: "British Columbia, we're going to take your wood; we're going to take your employment; we're going to take everything we can, and then we're going to run a park and have a great tourism infrastructure ten weeks of the year."
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
The committee, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
Hon. Mr. Strachan moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5:57 p.m.
WRITTEN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
16 Mr. Stupich asked the Hon. the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations the following questions:
1. How many seniors took advantage of the property tax deferral program in 1985 and in 1986?
2. What was the total of the property tax deferred in each of these years?
The Hon. M. B. Couvelier replied as follows:
1. In the tax year 1985/86, 2,641 seniors took advantage of the property tax deferral program. In the tax year 1986/87, 2,565 seniors deferred their taxes.
2. The total of property taxes deferred was: 1985/86 — $2,758,561; 1986/87 — $2,852,341.