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Throne speech debate
Mr. Harcourt –– 3471
Ms. Campbell –– 3474
Mr. Sihota –– 3477
Mr. Kempf –– 3480
Hon. Mr. Reid –– 3482
The House met at 10:03 a.m.
HON. MR. VEITCH: Mr. Speaker, there's no truth at all to the rumour that my haberdasher stole the top off a pool table. To the O'Zalms, the O'Harcourts and all those folks who are either Irish or would love to be Irish: a happy seventeenth of Ireland this morning.
MR. LOENEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to welcome to the House a dear friend, who comes to us from St. Catharines. He is editor of a Dutch-Canadian weekly, and he is here to find out what the Dutch are contributing to our society. Would the House please welcome Bert Witvoet.
Orders of the Day
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE
MR. HARCOURT: Mr. Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of the province of British Columbia, the throne speech offers all British Columbians a chance to see the direction in which this government plans to take us. It lays out its priorities and addresses the issues that the government believes are or should be the most important in our province.
The throne speech is a measure of what the government perceives is needed, what it has learned from the previous year's experience and what it has absorbed from the reactions of our citizens to its programs. In a real sense, its success is to be judged by the values it embodies and the extent to which it considers the wishes, needs and feelings of the majority of British Columbians.
I believe that British Columbians will readily see that this government's course is unchanged, that few if any lessons have been learned from the confrontation its actions have provoked, that the humility and respect it owes the citizens whose lives its actions affect are conspicuous by their absence.
This government is unrepresentative of the needs and aspirations of the average British Columbian, and it's unresponsive to their opinions and ideas. It is out of touch with British Columbians. That is why it will proceed with its worn-out agenda in areas that cry out for innovative action such as forestry, the environment and education. That's why it will pursue its personal obsessions in such areas as women's rights and privatization — areas where British Columbians are clearly saying they want either an opposite action or no action at all.
British Columbians are growing tired of a government that treats them in a paternalistic manner, making its decisions without consultation and veering off on ill-considered tangents that cause tension and conflict in the central institutions of our society.
Democracy is not just a set of conventions within which the king or queen of the castle is free to do as he or she pleases. It is not the governing party substituting its whims for the priorities of the majority. British Columbians are ready for more democracy and for a government that listens to their concerns. respects their differences and offers them fair, open and honest representation.
British Columbians have had enough of this government's fantastic adventures. They've had enough of a government which is constantly floating poorly-thought-out and unworkable proposals as potential public policy. They want a government that works for everyone. from ordinary people to the community leaders in our society — not one that pits British Columbians against each other.
British Columbians aren't absorbed with what their federal government isn't doing for B.C. They're more concerned with a provincial government that has failed to stand up for them in dealing with Ottawa — a failure which this government readily admits. British Columbians want their government to conduct business with Ottawa with integrity — not parochial or petulant invective. They want our government to handle federal-provincial relations with maturity and sophistication. The chickens have come home to roost. You can't have it both ways. This Premier and government must learn to put their public responsibilities to British Columbians ahead of their personal loyalties to the Mulroney Conservatives.
My party has a different vision for British Columbia. Our roots are deep in this province, but we are not prisoners of the past or dependent on the personal beliefs of today's leader. We have the people and we have the ideas to offer our province what it needs and wants from government: leadership that builds cooperation and consensus, leadership that clarifies options without inflaming tensions and attacking tried and trusted institutions, and leadership that remains mindful of its responsibility to the entire electorate.
I am fortunate, indeed, to be the leader of a new generation of New Democrats, a vigorous, dynamic and innovative team with the experience and integrity to give B.C. the kind of government it deserves. We've been out in the community, running businesses, managing and balancing municipal budgets and working with people to deliver goods and provide services. We bring that competence here today. We've listened and we've learned, and we have built up the stock of experience that will enable us to deliver the honest and open government that the people of British Columbia need and want. Yes, Mr. Speaker, my colleagues and I have gained the managerial ability and understanding to get British Columbia on a positive track.
We know that our economy has both a proud public sector and a capable private sector, and that both have an important role to play in creating a high standard of living for all British Columbians. As government, we will not rely on one to the detriment of the other, nor will we turn on one and attempt to destroy it, as this government has done to our public services with its privatization plans.
When I say "we," Mr. Speaker, I mean a team of people with mutual respect. working together to accomplish their goals, not a group of followers in lock-step to the beat of their master. What British Columbians are looking for today is a government that acts as a team with integrity and respect for, and commitment to, the interests of all British Columbians. That's why I want to lay out for you some of what was missing in the government's throne speech and what we believe is needed for government to show public leadership in restoring trust to government, bringing about fairness for all British Columbians in ending the confrontation that hurts us all.
We believe that is what is necessary to build a better British Columbia. British Columbians are aware of the new
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challenges we face, and we've witnessed profound changes in the national and international economies. Widespread concern exists about the future of our communities and our province in the face of such competition and change. Unfortunately, this government's policies have only added to the uncertainty and the confusion, limiting B.C.'s ability to set its own economic and social agenda.
Yet British Columbians remain positive about our potential. We have confidence in our natural, human and technological resources. British Columbians are genuinely excited about our potential for new economic opportunities and new jobs. Our people and our ideas remain B.C.'s best resource. What is missing and what is required is public leadership.
British Columbians are angered by the continuing unfairness of government policies which limit their access to the resources that will develop that potential. We are unhappy with a government that puts personal and narrow interests ahead of the public interest, and we are upset with a government which doesn't listen and unfairly imposes its ideas.
No greater example of the unfairness in British Columbia exists than the tax burden suffered by the average taxpayer. In no other area can government more clearly display leadership than in eliminating this unfairness.
B.C.'s deficit is climbing, and taxes for the average family are increasing, yet the return of the hard-earned tax dollars to British Columbia and new jobs in public services are insufficient. Mr. Speaker, the lack of sufficient new jobs to effectively decrease the rate of employment is evidence that tax incentives and tax cuts that favour only some businesses are not producing the intended results.
Our province's tax system is regressive and unfair. For example, personal income taxes increased 14 percent for the average British Columbian last year. For every dollar individual British Columbians paid in income tax in 1986-87, corporations paid less than 13 cents. In 1986-87 British Columbians shouldered 89 percent of the provincial income tax, while only 11 percent of income tax revenue came from corporations.
B.C.'s tax system needs serious review and reform in order to make sure the wealthy and big business pay their fair share of taxes; generate new revenues from natural resources and eliminate unproductive tax breaks; press for changes to corporate tax laws to encourage new investment in jobs, rather than non-productive mergers and takeovers; tie job creation to tax breaks; and review regressive property taxes to make them fairer and eliminate unfair taxes on small business to allow them to compete more effectively.
We believe this unfairness must end if we are to build common purpose in British Columbia. Restoring fairness can unleash the cooperative spirit that British Columbians know is needed to help us achieve economic growth. A tax on fairness alone will not make British Columbians feel they are an essential part of the process of building a better B.C. We believe our people and our communities must have a say in decisions affecting them. Without it, a valuable resource goes untapped.
There is no shortage of new ideas for economic and social development in our communities. There may be a shortage on the government side, but there's no shortage in our communities among the people of British Columbia. Government needs to provide them with the necessary resources to let them get on with the job. Government should encourage and support new enterprises that are locally owned and job intensive. The challenge of building home-grown industries is harder than reaching out for the quick fix through foreign owned multinationals, but that's the job British Columbians want done.
They're still not listening to some new ideas, Mr. Speaker. They're still going with their tired old clichés — the tired old throne speech. They're still not listening to ideas that we've learned and talked about to the people of British Columbia. They're still not listening. They're still not attending this Legislature to talk about the people's business, because they have a reliance on hit-and-run resource investment that can have negative implications for our communities and the environment.
Good corporate citizenship is much more likely to come from businesses that call B.C. their home base. As a matter of fact, some members on the government side should realize that government can provide funding for new municipal infrastructure — in particular, sewage treatment — particularly if they're engineers who understand something about concrete but not much else. Mr. Speaker, whether we live in the interior or on Vancouver Island, we all know the importance of sewage treatment as it relates to the quality of our life.
British Columbians do not want government to assert more power from their communities and regions or to substitute decisions made in ministers' offices for the deliberations of their own representatives. People want the province to give their communities the resources to allow them to get on with the job. That's why we would involve communities in the administration and development of land that comes under provincial jurisdiction.
We would also ensure that the provincial government deposits and its business go to financial institutions which are prepared to finance local economic initiatives. Government should also offer assistance to develop the financial and the marketing skills of smaller businesses, in particular for growth industries such as tourism and high technology. It needs to fast-track support for small business capable of expanding to produce goods and services now imported into British Columbia.
We believe government should also recognize the value of jobs and economic growth in social services, in the arts and in cultural sectors. It must not regard these sectors as marginal or unproductive interest groups, as it does now.
In particular, Mr. Speaker, British Columbians want to see native land claims settled so that all citizens can improve their financial well-being by sharing both the resources and the benefits. We do not need to continue pitting natives against developers against loggers.
Government can also lead the way in developing a trade policy for British Columbia which is fair and equitable. British Columbians overwhelmingly want an outward looking policy of fair trade rather than narrow protectionism, or the wide open Mulroney trade deal. Therefore we must rebuild our resource industries, which are the backbone of our economy, to be able to compete in world markets.
We must identify new industries which can be fostered here, sunrise industries offering new opportunities in global markets, because British Columbians know that our future prosperity lies in the development of advanced technologies. They are ready for government to take a leadership role by supporting technological developments in sectors such as telecommunications, natural resource extraction, marine
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subsea, micro-electronics, and educational hardware and software.
Government must take a leadership role by ensuring that foreign corporations selling in the B.C. market produce a percentage of goods right here in this province.
Most important, government must take a leadership role by creating a fair labour code for employers and employees that treats workers fairly and respects their aspirations and abilities. If we don't have fair labour laws and a fair, efficient Workers' Compensation Board, if we don't take care of health and safety in the workplace, if we don't promote economic equality for women, we'll never achieve the cooperation and consensus we need to conquer new markets and succeed in foreign trade.
Mr. Speaker, this government speaks of wage settlements that are too high to allow us to compete. That's balderdash. The most obvious drain on the provincial economy is the profound strife and discord unleashed by Social Credit's relentless attacks on working people. Economic extremism by this government is what poisons our workplaces and holds us back as a society. It undermines the stability of British Columbia and makes British Columbia a poor choice for investors.
British Columbians have had enough. People want confrontation to end, and the rifts healed. They want common purpose to be the motto of governing public life, not chaos and strife.
British Columbians want to feel confident that they have the skills and the know-how to compete in the growth sectors of the global economy. They know our children will only realize their true potential if they get the education and training to make it in a competitive world. Again, Mr. Speaker, government has a key role to play. We believe government must fund our educational system at a level equal to that of the world's great trading nations. Chronic underfunding in British Columbia fuels an adversarial relationship between the major players in our education system. It wastes their talents and their ideas and it limits the opportunities of our young people to reach their potential.
We believe government must work together with our colleges, universities and training institutes to establish new programs instead of hampering their development. It is only through such cooperation that government can begin to accurately forecast labour market needs and begin training British Columbians for the jobs in the growth sectors. There's no gain for British Columbia in creating new jobs if we have to import the technicians and the professionals to meet our shortages of skilled labour. Our government must review our apprenticeship and our skills-training programs to ensure they are adequate to the special needs of the expanding sectors of our economy.
Our vital public services must not be sold off. This needless dismembering of services, paid for and built by the people of British Columbia, is damaging to us all. Even some in the Social Credit camp, from former cabinet ministers to business leaders and Socred officials, are in agreement. Like us, they strongly question the value of selling off public enterprises such as our highways, our public health services, and the gas services and research division of B.C. Hydro. People in local government in community after community across this province are speaking out. Last week I tabled 75 councils that are speaking out, and more. Why doesn't the Premier listen? It is yet another example of this government's economic extremism.
No government should be able to take away our right to health care. No government should ignore the law that guarantees that right, and that includes interfering in a woman's right to choose on the question of abortion. All British Columbians must have equal access to quality health care. Government must support public health and voluntary services for families and children, including family planning. Unfortunately, this government has never abandoned its fundamental belief in a two-tiered health care system — one for the wealthy few and one for the rest of us.
The present government is simply out of touch with British Columbians. As indicated in its throne speech, it is not listening, and as indicated here today it is still not listening. It is making ad hoc, hurried changes to British Columbia without consultation. It has put its personal views and the interest of a few ahead of the public interest and has displayed a disrespect for our democratic process and our institutions. It has failed to work to create consensus out of the broad spectrum of public opinion.
Only by opening up the government can we truly take advantage of the abundant ideas that our communities and people have to offer. To do so we as New Democrats believe that government must introduce access-to-information laws. it must lift the cloak of secrecy surrounding the political process and not be allowed to lock its books and close the doors. We believe the British Columbia Legislature should be covered on television so that the political process is open and the decisions of government are visible to all British Columbians, that particularly this government's decisions are open to all British Columbians. The Premier said that would cost too much money. Well, democracy costs a little more than autocracy, but that's because it allows all British Columbians to participate.
Open government can provide the early warning of fiscal mismanagement, and had open government existed in our province. hundreds of millions of dollars of our taxpayers' money, lost in cost overruns on the Coquihalla Highway and on the SkyTrain, could have been saved. This Social Credit government which loudly proclaims its fiscal competence has given us deficit budgets every year of this decade. Those deficits they're now yawning about here in the House, originally forecast by the government at $3.4 billion for the period 1980 to 1988, actually total $6.1 billion. That's $2.7 billion worth of incompetence, and that incompetence is costing average B.C. families $3,500 each.
B.C.'s megaprojects have not been managed competently. The Coquihalla, as we've heard in this House. was originally budgeted at $375 million and came in at $500 million over budget, at a cost of $640 to the average B.C. family. SkyTrain was originally budgeted at $289 million and came in $700 million over budget, at a cost of $900 to the average B.C. family.
The mismanagement by this Social Credit government has hurt British Columbians, but what's worse is that it has saddled our children with debt. This government said that B.C.'s debt is now $4.2 billion, or $5,400 for the average B.C. family. That's a debt based on valuing all of our public assets, like highways and hospitals, and then selling them off. In fact, the real government debt is now $19.2 billion. May I remind you that when Social Credit took over government in 1975, the debt was $4.4 billion, and that was primarily for B.C. Hydro projects. This government's debt works out to $24,700 for the average B.C. family.
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British Columbians want open government, because fiscal mismanagement by this government is hurting B.C.'s chances of getting its share of prosperity from new economic growth. Open government can begin the much needed procedure of building consensus in our province and harmonizing relationships among all sectors of British Columbia's society.
We believe that government must ensure fair representation of women, youth and multicultural, native and disabled British Columbians on government committees, government boards and commissions. It must respect the rights and responsibilities of democratically elected municipal councils and school boards.
The fundamental difference between New Democrats and this government is that we believe that government has a leading role to play in a creative and comprehensive way in the development of our economy and our society. We have provided a clear indication of that role today. It's a role this government doesn't play; it's one that it won't play; and it's one that it can't play. Do you know why, Mr. Speaker? Because you can't do things you fundamentally don't believe in, and, unfortunately, until we have fair taxes in B.C. for B.C.'s families, until we have an appreciation that education is our investment in the future, until we have a forward-looking trade policy, until we have economic equality for women, until we have common purpose in British Columbia, and until we have the necessary public leadership to make it happen, we will continue to hear across this province the sad and unhappy stories of potential unfulfilled.
These are stories that this government doesn't want to listen to: like the young hitchhiker I met in Burns Lake, who has no job, whose family has broken up, who has no hope for the future; like the pharmacist in Quesnel, who told me of one senior who stopped coming in for his insulin because he couldn't afford the Socred Pharmacare fees — for the want of $5 he ended up in a $1,000-a-day hospital bed; like the grade 12 graduating class in Nelson, where 36 of the 40 students told me they would be leaving their family, their friends and their community because there were no further educational opportunities and no jobs; like the natives and the non-natives from the Queen Charlottes, dispirited and disappointed by the lack of provincial and federal leadership to get development plans underway.
We can do better in British Columbia. We can do better than a government that creates confusion and uncertainty, that shows disrespect for our democratic process and that seeks to radically restructure our institutions. We can build a better British Columbia with a government that listens to people, that takes advantage of their ideas and talents, that is fair to us all. What is missing today is that public leadership. Mr. Speaker, New Democrats can provide that leadership for our province, our families, our kids and our future.
MR. SPEAKER: The Attorney-General seeks leave to make an introduction.
HON. B.R. SMITH: In the gallery this morning are 13 visiting professors from the People's Republic of China, presently visiting Camosun College. They're in Canada for nine months, and they represent the state education commission of the People's Republic. Their host from Camosun is Nancy Johnson, and she's accompanied by two other staff members. I know that the House will want to make them all welcome.
MR. SPEAKER: The member for Maillardville-Coquitlam also seeks leave to make an introduction.
MR. CASHORE: In the precincts today and visiting in the gallery in two separate groups will be 59 grade 6 and 7 students from Burquitlam Elementary School in Coquitlam. They are with their principal, Mr. MacDonald.
MS. CAMPBELL: I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this debate. I'm sorry in some ways that there were some introductions which have broken the spell created by the previous speaker.
I appear to be under some kind of misapprehension, because I understood that this was the throne speech debate, an opportunity for people to respond to the government's statement of its intention for the oncoming session. It would appear that I am under a misapprehension, since the previous speech didn't appear to address the throne speech at all or take the opportunity to address it — and it's a great disappointment to me.
The hon. Leader of the Opposition has a wonderful approach to speaking in this House, Mr. Speaker. He appears to speak on the basis of the principle that "when wit fails, try volume."
I was very interested in his comment about wanting television in the House. I'd like to say that after that speech I find it an enchanting prospect, and I look forward to it.
The hon. Leader of the Opposition indicated that his party was not dependent upon the personal beliefs of today's leader. Given the very great difficulty of getting even a definition of his beliefs on public policy, I'm deeply relieved to hear that from the hon. Leader of the Opposition.
I think we need an opposition in this province. I am greatly committed to the notion that there be two-way debate on public issues. It's a great pity when those chosen by the public to do this don't in fact do it.
MS. CAMPBELL: I'm sorry, hon. member. Are words of two syllables a little difficult for you to understand? I hope those scabs on your knuckles aren't distressing you too much.
I am quite perplexed about the intention of the hon. member's speech, but I will press on, nonetheless, to try to make some connection between his remarks and the throne speech and what I think is important to discuss.
The hon. member has made a number of comments that I think are very good and that I would certainly support. He said people's ideas are B.C.'s best resource. I would agree with that contention wholeheartedly. He talked about the importance of home-grown industries, that businesses that call British Columbia their home base will be most successful. I think that's a proposition that many members on this side of the House could certainly support.
He talked about the importance of tourism and high technology and the importance of rebuilding our resource industry. Identifying sunrise industries is an excellent idea,
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and I certainly support it. That we require the skills and know-how to compete in the global economy....
MR. LOVICK: Watch it, Kim, your own people are heckling you now.
MS. CAMPBELL: Oh no, they're all with me, believe me.
Now what I find interesting is that the hon. member has clearly not read the throne speech. It seems to me that the throne speech contains quite a number of contentions that support the hon. member's view, and it's a rare opportunity for us to find some bipartisan agreement and to work together for the interests of the people of British Columbia.
There is a commitment in the throne speech to postsecondary education, a commitment to increased funding, and we have already delivered on commitments made in the first throne speech of this government. In fact there is a general commitment; a considerable part of the throne speech expresses a commitment to education.
What I would like to hear from the hon. members of the opposition is an urgency, and I'd like to hear the hon. members stating firmly in this House that they will hold us to these commitments. But it would be nice if they read them in the first place. I think it is the job of the opposition to read our commitments very carefully and demand that we live up to them, and that's how it works.
I think what 1 would like to do is discuss the hon. member's comments in this House in the context of an issue which exists in Vancouver, which is important in my riding and which 1 think is a very good example of the government's commitments to the very principles that the hon. Leader of the Opposition claims to espouse, but which in fact has been opposed in this House and elsewhere by the opposition party. I refer to the TRIUMF project at UBC and the proposal to build a kaon factory.
MR. WILLIAMS: You go sell that one in Boundary-Similkameen.
MS. CAMPBELL: Speak on, hon. member, and dig a bigger hole, because you're not quite over your head yet.
It's very interesting that in downtown Vancouver there are billboards with pictures of the hon. Leader of the Opposition and the leader of his federal party, and the caption is, I think, something like: "Working together for B. C." It's a charming picture; they both look extremely winning in these billboards.
MR. BLENCOE: You said you'd be nice.
MS. CAMPBELL: I never said I'd be nice, hon. member; I'd said I'd be accurate, and the two aren’t always possible to achieve when discussing your policies.
It's very interesting that the federal New Democratic Party has in fact spoken out in favour of the kaon factory to be built in the TRIUMF facility at UBC, and so I would suggest that on the billboards in downtown Vancouver the caption, "Working together for B.C., " ought to be replaced by one that says, "Working at cross-purposes for who knows who." because the hon. Leader of the Opposition's party has exhibited an ignorance about this project and a hostility to it, when in fact it is designed to achieve precisely the goals that the hon. Leader of the Opposition purports to support when he speaks in this House.
MR. WILLIAMS: Only for Point Grey.
MS. CAMPBELL: It isn't just for Point Grey that this project is being developed; in fact it is for the benefit of all of Canada. We have an opportunity in this country to develop high-technology industries through the development and cultivation of our own scientific and technological expertise. We can't accomplish this if every time we get a leg up in the international world of science we cut it off and basically make it impossible to build on what we've already invested in in this country.
The TRIUMF facility at UBC is a world-class institution. It has already created high-technology British Columbia businesses. The hon. Leader of the Opposition talks about the importance of having businesses based in British Columbia. When TRIUMF was being built, a very careful effort was made to make sure that it was built by British Columbia businesses, and the opportunity was given to those businesses to develop the technology that would enable them to equip the TRIUMF facility.
Ebco Industries of Richmond is a very fine example of this particular development. It now has international exports which exceed the value of TRIUMF's operating budget —about $90 million a year. Those high-technology businesses have become the foundation for international trade. They have attracted to them skilled technologists and provide the opportunity for training those technologists.
What I find fascinating is the hon. Leader of the Opposition's notion that somehow we can have high technology, we can have knowledge-based industries, that somehow will arise out of thin air. When we actually have the basis for creating those industries, they don't even take the trouble to learn about them. When I spoke about this in the House in a private member's statement, the critic for science and technology of the New Democratic Party revealed a profound ignorance of the project and my seatmate, in whose riding this project exists, had not even bothered to visit the facility.
[Mr. Pelton in the chair.]
The possibilities that I've spoken about in this House that exist in that particular project for creating the basis for high technology industries in this province are very profound. I would like the opposition not to hide in an ideological fog that makes it impossible to see what is in front of them, that makes it impossible to understand what exists in our own province, but to once again play their appropriate role and demand not only that we support this project but that we ensure that the industrial spinoffs are captured for British Columbia — that we ensure that it is possible to have the infrastructure to get the full economic advantage of that project.
Where are the members of the opposition who are knowledgeable about this? Where are those who can understand the role they ought to play, which is to keep us true to our commitments? I'm not asking the members of the opposition to vote for our party, though I suspect many of them may wind up doing so. But play your role, hon. members. Don't be ignorant. Don't refuse even to take us on in some kind of legitimate debate.
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MR. BLENCOE: The Premier said goodbye to you.
AN HON. MEMBER: Wouldn't you like that!
MS. CAMPBELL: I'd never give you the satisfaction, hon. member.
And so we have, Mr. Speaker, a throne speech which makes commitments to education, apparently totally unread by the hon. Leader of the Opposition, which talks about jobs, not in some abstract way but with concrete proposals for how to create those jobs: jobs in high technology, jobs in our industries.
The hon. Leader of the Opposition has talked about the importance of rebuilding our resource industries. Once again, rebuilding those resource industries requires the development of technology. The tragedy of our resource industries is that they are no longer simple repositories of unskilled labour. We therefore have to deal with the challenge of making sure that we have a workforce that can perform the new jobs in the resource industries, the jobs that are high technology.
If the hon. members had bothered to visit any of the sites of the modem forest industry.... I notice that my opposition colleagues on the Select Standing Committee on Forests and Lands have not availed themselves of that opportunity; I hope they take it in some other way. Because the forest industry....... .
MS. CAMPBELL: No, not even the first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Williams).
AN HON. MEMBER: You're from Point Grey.
MR. WILLIAMS: What a snob!
MS. CAMPBELL: 1 don't have to be from Point Grey, hon. members, to appreciate the importance of the forest industry. I find it extraordinary that the notion that members of this government ought to understand the forest industry is regarded as snobbery by hon. members.
But the industry is changing, hon. members, and if our young people are to find employment in those industries and if those industries are to be competitive internationally —and you're very big on talking about international competitiveness — we have to have the skilled people who can take those jobs, use the technology and develop new technology in those industries. We're committed to that, Mr. Speaker. We're committed to that in the throne speech in our commitment to education, and we're committed to that in our support of high technology industry.
MR. BLENCOE: What about your buddy the Premier?
MS. CAMPBELL: You know, hon. member, I was so hoping that in this session you would come up with some new heckles. I feel the retreads from last session are a tad tedious.
The hon. Leader of the Opposition actually alluded —probably by error — to one of the aspects of the throne speech, dealing with federal-provincial relations. Once again the kaon factory and the issue of the support of the kaon factory is an extremely interesting example of the need for new departures in federal-provincial relations. There is no question that the people of British Columbia are committed members of Confederation. In fact, one of the interesting political developments of our province since we entered Confederation is the growth of that commitment. A number of my former colleagues have done some very important research in this area. But why is it so unacceptable for those of us who are committed to Confederation to talk about where we stand in Confederation? Why is that unacceptable, but somehow it's perhaps acceptable for the Jacques Parizeaus of this world, who are not even committed to staying in Confederation, to question it?
We in British Columbia believe that we have an important role to play in Canada. We would like Canada to share that view, and we think it does. The kaon factory and the need for federal support of that project is an example of British Columbia's frustration at trying to get on the main agenda of federal-provincial relations. It's not simply a question of intergovernmental relations; it's a question of raising British Columbia's profile as an economic centre in Canada. The hon. Minister for Advanced Education (Hon. S. Hagen) has worked tirelessly to promote this project, and in speaking to the Canadian Manufacturers' Association in Toronto, was told by members: "Well, if it's so good, why isn't it here?" That's an attitude which is very difficult to deal with, and 1 commend the throne speech and I commend the government for taking on this particular issue — taking it on not from the perspective that other governments in Canada have, which is to promote separatism and challenge the basic fundamental premises of Confederation, but from the point of view of a committed member of Confederation: "There are inequities, and these have to be dealt with."
So, Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that one perhaps small issue, the issue of the kaon factory in my riding, provides a focus for discussing a number of the issues which the hon. Leader of the Opposition purports to value and to think are important: the importance of promoting homegrown industry, of keeping our technological base. of developing the skills to be part of a global economy in the twenty-first century, of being active members in the federal-provincial partnership. Yet it's a project which his party opposes and hasn't even bothered to learn very much about, notwithstanding that their federal branch supports it.
I'm perplexed by the purpose of the Leader of the Opposition in this debate, because it doesn't appear to me that he has addressed himself to the issues raised in the throne speech. It doesn't appear to me that he is willing to play the role of the Leader of the Opposition, which is to demand that the government live up to its commitments. There are a number of other commitments in the throne speech that are worth discussing. I notice that the Leader of the Opposition was interestingly silent on the commitment to make additional funding available for day care. Where is the Leader of the Opposition standing up and asking us to make those things specific and insisting that we live by those commitments? That's what we expect from the opposition. We expect the opposition to be aggressive. We expect them to be critical of us; that's what their role is. That's what their obligation is —not to us, but to the people of British Columbia. But it's interesting that that hasn't even reared its head in the opposition leader's speech. It's probably an embarrassment to him, because it's something he would have to approve.
So I can only assume that the failure of the hon. Leader of the Opposition to address the items raised in the throne speech is a reflection of the fact that he supports most of those
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items, that he has nothing critical to say of them, that he has nothing to offer, and that in order to take up his time in this House, he's had to address himself to issues that, weren't raised in the throne speech.
I think we are faced in British Columbia not with a government that's not doing its job, but with an opposition that's not doing its job. It's too bad that whereas governments can be defeated, there really isn't any place else for opposition to go, and I fear that the people of British Columbia may be saddled with this incompetent opposition for some time to come.
MR. SIHOTA: I'll tell you where that previous speaker's going; she's going, going, gone to Tory-nomination land. What we just heard was a kickoff for her nomination speech to the Tory riding in Vancouver Quadra. There she goes, Mr. Speaker, finding her way to the door after making her final speech in this House. There she goes out of the door, off to Vancouver Quadra to seek the Tory nomination and to fall victim, of course, to our candidate in Vancouver Quadra in the next federal election.
It was interesting listening to the previous speaker. Actually, what I want to talk about — and maybe I'll put this in the record right at the top — are a couple of things that were missing from the mishmash of a speech that has been described as the throne speech with respect to legal issues and judicial affairs. I'm going to come down at the end of my speech with some of the things we would do that are important, necessary and vital in this province in order to reform the matters that fall within the purview of the Attorney-General's department.
But I want to go back and reflect on some of the comments made by the previous speaker. It's interesting to listen to her talk about the kaon factory. What's really interesting about this is the way in which the Social Credit governments in the past and today sort of cling on to one project. Now this year it's: "Cling on to kaon." A couple of years ago it was: "Cling on to northeast coal." Before that, it was: "Cling on to Coquihalla." Before that it was: "Cling on to B.C. Place." And before that, it was: "Cling on to SkyTrain." The theory over there is that the great economic salvation for this province is going to be another half a billion dollar project. Not once did they deal with the matter of the debt: $700 million dollars on SkyTrain; $500 million on the Coquihalla; $20 billion in total. There is madness in their approach to economic development in this province. You track yourselves and attach yourselves to one project, to the detriment of the rest of the province.
You spend a billion dollars on northeast coal, and you decide to do nothing about 40 percent unemployment in Terrace; you attach yourselves to the construction of a great fair in Vancouver that runs at a deficit, and you ignore the 27 percent unemployment in my riding in the fishing industry. You attach yourselves to Coquihalla — $500 million of which is over budget and then you try to hide it. That's the amount you need for the kaon factory.
The first member for Vancouver-Point Grey (Ms. Campbell) was in the Premier's office when this $500 million was being over expended on the Coquihalla. Where was she then, talking about kaon? There was no reason to talk about it, because she wasn't seeking a federal nomination. She was more interested in the chaos and the confusion caused by her good friend Mr. Bennett. Now, interestingly enough, she's more interested, I would submit — and has been accurate in many instances — in the chaos and confusion caused by her narrow-minded and bigoted friends — as she called them; those are not my words. When she talks about ideological fog, does she not pause for a moment to consider the ideological fog — which has a different hue and tone to it every day because it changes — emanating from the office of the current Premier? Different policy from the car door to the office door.
Then she supports a project in the form of the kaon project which, as I understand it, has been rejected by the scientific community at the university and is now prone to economic development considerations and considered as an economic development project, a la northeast coal, and which is now being reviewed by a federal department that is going to be dismantled.
MR. WILLIAMS: A black hole in Point Grey.
MR. SIHOTA: From this forester, this logger, from Point Grey.
The previous speaker ought to have talked about developments over the last year and the way in which this government operates. She's had the opportunity outside the House to talk a little bit about how this government has performed in the last year, because this opportunity on this throne speech allows us to go back and look at what's transpired over the past year and then assess what ought to happen this year.
Let's take a look at what happened last year. It's difficult to decide which policy to pick on. "Privatization" became the buzzword for this government. I think the part that bothers me most is that no one, particularly the Premier, ever thought about the human angle. He never thinks about the human angle of privatization. What happens to people when you take 300 or 400 government employees and tell them that their jobs are going to be eliminated by March 31? What does that do to them psychologically? I invited the Premier the other day to come down to the highways maintenance yard in my riding, where at least two individuals have been booked off since that announcement to today's date because of stress leave caused by the uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen with their lives due to a program that now, in many ways, is off the track because of the Verrin decision.
No one ever pauses to think, in the larger political game being played by the Premier, what effect it has when you bring 200 or 300 employees of the Ministry of Energy into an auditorium and tell them that somehow they're going to be shifted off to work not for the government and not for the private sector — something that's sort of in between. I'm sure more will be said about that. What does that do to them in terms of the performance of their work today as they return to their desks from that meeting? What does it do to the chaps out there looking after the highways in this province — and particularly on the island — when they don't know if they're going to be there tomorrow? Does anybody over there have an ounce of conscience to even think what effect those kinds of decisions have on people?
Apart from all of the other arguments that we've had on privatization, what about the human dimension?
MR. WILLIAMS: Nobody's home over there.
MR. SIHOTA: The member says that nobody's home over there, and it is true. I scan across and I see the empty
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seats. Maybe they're better if they're empty, because often the minds have the same quality to them. There are empty seats, and a little bit of chatter going on between a couple of ministers, and no one is really listening. That's not surprising, because the other characteristic of this government that we've seen evolve over the past year is the fact that they don't listen. They don't listen to what the people have to say.
If I could just pick one small example of something that falls within my critic area to highlight the point.... In December 1986, the Premier met with representatives from the Law Society about legal aid. They walked out of the meeting, and I remember reading in the Benchers' Bulletin on it. There was a nice picture of the Premier and representatives of the Law Society, and there was a lot of optimism that something would be done about legal aid, because the Premier said he would listen to the representation, and he recognized that there was a need to do something about legal aid.
There was a lot of optimism within the legal community, particularly with the Legal Services Society, that something would be done. The budget came down, and there was a paltry $500,000 increase in the budget. There was no commitment to meet the task force recommendations of $33 million in funding, and we still sit at about $18 million for legal aid.
That's the game that we're seeing from this government. I just picked a small example: take people in, talk to them from time to time, look receptive, pretend that you're listening, pretend that you care, let them go out of the door feeling optimistic, but when it comes time to deliver the goods — no way. So it doesn't listen.
It didn't listen on Bill 19; it didn't listen on Bill 20. It didn't listen on privatization. It hasn't listened on decentralization. It's a government that is radical in every form and is stubborn and bully-headed to the extent that the Premier wants to put his foot on the accelerator and go as fast as he can to try to achieve his mission before the next election. As that vehicle makes its way down the path, who cares about how many people are tossed to the side? Who cares how much damage is done? Who cares how much chaos and confusion there is in this province? Who cares how much it costs?
This government is moving on a radical ideological track with little sensitivity to where people are coming from, with no intention of listening to what people have to say, and no care whatsoever as to the consequence of its policies. That's where this radical, right-wing and — as the member for Vancouver Point-Grey said — narrow-minded and bigoted government is coming from. That's not what was promised to the people of British Columbia a year ago in terms of consultation.
Let's reflect a little bit more over the last year. I see the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Dueck) is in the room. Let's take a look at health care policy in this province and see what this government has done with respect to the erosion of health care in this province. We were told in this House that heart bypass surgery was trendy. We had people sitting in lineups waiting to get into hospital, and this government had the audacity to say to them that certain types of necessary medical procedures were "trendy." We saw cutbacks in health. We saw confrontation with doctors.
I want to talk again about the human dimension. We all talk and hear about the human dimension with patients. But have you ever sat and talked, as I had the opportunity to do last week, to nurses in this province about the stress with which they operate in the hospital setting because massive government cutbacks have reduced staff loads? They've reduced the number of RNs in hospitals; they are removing LPNs from hospitals. There are patients galore trying to get in, and there are hospital beds that are closed upstairs. So what happens? The nurses I talked to told me about patients housed, if I can put it that way, in linen closets and hallways. Is that quality health care?
I talked to staff at hospitals. They told me about absolutely intolerable working conditions, about having too many patients to deal with, about walking onto the floor and, because of changes in charting procedures different than what they were accustomed to, not having an accurate report on the various patients, not knowing what medication had been given half an hour before.
You talk to nurses in this province, as I did — and I confess I've got the advantage of being married to one, so socially we tend to meet with more nurses than might be the case otherwise. Do you know what they do? They try to survive seven and a half hours or even 12 hours on shift, and hope that they haven't committed any negligent act, and walk home and get into bed after a long shift and dream about it. They wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering whether they told their replacement about a medical procedure that had been conducted on a patient, or whether a particular medication was done, because the shift is a blur because of the demands placed upon them.
Do you know what that does to the morale of people —people who entered into a profession because they cared about people, because they wanted to spend some time with people, because they wanted to help people with both their physical and mental health? Their understanding of what they were getting into, their appreciation of the profession and the opportunity they thought they had to give care is a far cry from the factory-like atmosphere in many hospitals today. I say that because the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Dueck) is here. Talk to the nurses. Incredible stress. When people feel that way and their morale is affected in that fashion, you're not going to get — in economic terms, because that seems to be the only thing in the equation in the government's mind —the best value for your dollar. So it's not surprising to hear nurses complaining.
It's not surprising — and I see the Attorney-General (Hon. B.R. Smith) is still here as well — to see the vast increase in stress leave due to government cutbacks in the prison system. Again, you've got people — citizens who don't break the law but are there to took after the criminal element — in a setting where they are badly outnumbered. If you want to use the Oakalla example, where they don't even have emergency beepers to enable them to tell head office that there's a problem going on.... They're tied up, gagged and bound as security officers, and they're sitting there looking at the phone. The phone starts to ring, and they're listening helplessly as the phone rings. Someone is checking in to see what they're up to, and they don't have an emergency beeper to tell head office that there's been an escape. If you put people in that kind of setting, as this government has with respect to the prison system, it's no wonder that you have sick leave problems, stress problems and people walking away.
What's lacking with this government is the willingness to deal with public sector workers and their human problems, to
[ Page 3479 ]
deal with the realities of the situation; instead, cut out the budget; let's push them to their limits; let's erode the service; then let's just say the service is so bad that the only way you can improve it is with privatization. That's the game plan. Don't you think the people in this province are beginning to catch on to that?
We have a Premier who goes around this province and says that his workers, the public civil sector in this province, don't do their job properly. Why doesn't he listen to them for a change and understand what their problems are, instead of playing a bigger political game based on an ideological fog which he walks around in in this province? That's the shame of this government: the insensitivity, the insanity of that type of approach.
MR. SIHOTA: One of the members opposite said: "When are you going to get positive?" I do want to talk a little bit about some of the things that we think are missing in terms of legal issues. But before I get to that, I want to make a comment about the style of this government.
I see the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. Brummet) is leaving to join the second member for Point Grey to seek another Tory nomination.
Elected on style. Charisma. No substance was required. In a funny sort of way, he's delivered. He's delivered on exactly what were the worst fears of all of us. Policy, like I said, that is made without thought. Take decentralization, for example — a classic example. I honestly believe now that someone whispered in his ear as he made his way up to the podium at the Union of B.C. Municipalities, and he made this announcement of decentralization. No thought, no background analysis, no policy analysis — all those things that you would look for in terms of justification for a radical departure in government policy. We've asked for the studies, the background papers to support this concocted scheme, and we haven't received anything. That's how decisions are made in this province now: policy on the fly.
The last year, I say, has been disappointing. It's been traumatic to the people of this province. A radical, bigoted, narrow-minded obsession of an ideological point of view, which really, as my leader said, is out of touch with British Columbians. I don't have to repeat it. I've said before in this House that we're out to make that change, and we will.
I want to turn to some of the things that were missing from the throne speech that we as New Democrats believe ought to have been there and if we were in government today would be interested in implementing. These are important things. I do believe that it is important for us as a party not simply to go on the attack but to lay out some of the positive and constructive things that we think are necessary for this province. I want to talk a little about some of the things that were omitted from the throne speech that fall within the purview of my critic area, judicial affairs.
Legal aid — I touched upon that earlier on. It's a major problem in this province. I was astonished to see that there was no reference to any commitments for legal aid coverage in this province. If we would move to embrace the task force recommendations on legal aid, over three or five years, we would try to meet the target of $33 million that was laid out in the task force recommendations so that people could have adequate legal aid representation in areas like administrative law, for example. We believe that's important. We believe that when someone goes in front of a UIC tribunal and has difficulty understanding the UIC regulations or act, they're entitled to legal assistance. We believe that when someone goes in front of a tribunal, let's say. for GAIN or the Environmental Appeal Board and wants to deal with a stream that runs through their property and doesn't understand the law, they're entitled to some type of legal assistance in the area of administrative law.
It's not that expensive to provide. It's less than a tenth of what the government overspent on the Coquihalla; in some reports, it's actually a hundredth of what the government overspent on the Coquihalla — so that people have some assistance, so that a woman or a man who wants to enforce a maintenance order has legal assistance to make the best case in front of the court.
People don't understand the law. They are intimidated by the legal process; they are intimidated by court rooms; they are intimidated by judges. So it makes sense to provide some type of legal assistance to these people. Right now, if you are in, I believe, $891 — or $1,201 if you've got children — you're not entitled to legal assistance. There is an element in the community that can afford to get legal services, but the working poor — if you can put it that way — and a lot of the average people in this province find it a very expensive proposition.
There must be some type of legal aid, and the task force that this government appointed suggests that this province ought to fund it to the tune of $33 million. It does it to about $[8 million or $19 million in 1984 dollars, and that needs to be improved. We as a party would make a commitment to improve that. We're not going to fund it to the top level tomorrow. As the Leader of the Opposition said earlier on, he has balanced every budget he has ever had to deal with. He knows that you have to work towards these things on a gradual basis. But the people want to know whether there is a commitment. From that side there isn't; from this side there is.
If I can move on to another topic, we saw over the Christmas period the coming forward of a whole series of problems with our prison system. We've seen an inquiry going on now for about six weeks dealing with the matter of an escape — one escape that happened on New Year's day. We as a party don't believe that it's sufficient to look at one escape that happened on one day which all of a sudden got all sorts of media attention. We have to take a look at our prison system and ask some hard questions. There ought to be an inquiry, in our view — and we would have said this — that goes around the province trying to rationalize the prison system. How can you, on one hand, have an antiquated facility at Oakalla that is full and a modern facility at Wilkinson Road here where two of the wings are closed? And it is a modern facility.
Why are we closing down certain youth facilities in this province'? I think Chilliwack was one of the detention facilities that was shut down. Why are we shutting down a facility like Chilliwack when our prisons are overcrowded? We've got an overcrowding, for example, in Prince George.
What about the cost of those prisoners? I think someone said $40,000 a year. What are the alternatives? Is it true that up to 20 or 25 percent of the prison inmates are in there because they can't pay fines" Are there any other alternatives to that? Is it true that a disproportionate number of people within our prisons are natives. and what do we do about that?
[ Page 3480 ]
Maybe there are some alternatives to dealing with people from that community.
We didn't need a six-week inquiry, Mr. Speaker, on what happened on January 1. We needed a six-week or six-month inquiry with respect to rationalizing the prison system that we've got in this province and coming to grips with some of the tough questions that deal with prisons and our judicial system. That's what was required, and it would have been a better expenditure of a judge’s time to put him into that kind of role. So that's another issue that I think we should touch on.
I see my time is running out, but nothing was said in the throne speech about the Coquihalla. To date this government still has not brought forward legislation which will serve as checks and balances to safeguard us from a repeat of the Coquihalla — a misuse of power by cabinet officials; a misuse of our money, an incredible amount of money, $500 million. If you spent $1 every second, it would take you 69 years to spend that money. That much money was expended, and to date the government hasn't brought forward any legislation to try to prevent that from happening again. But we would have made that commitment in the throne speech.
Mr. Speaker, I see my time is virtually up, but I have tried to touch quickly on three areas that I think should have been in the throne speech, things that we would have put in the throne speech as alternatives. And you know, the underlying theme of all that is that we're trying to deal, we want to deal, with the human problems faced by this province. We want to be innovative in our approach, we want to be disciplined in our approach and we want to be in touch in our approach. The thing that's lacking with this government is.... Its programs are not innovative; they're narrow, bigoted and radical. The problem with this government is that it's not in touch with people.
MR. KEMPF: As I look around the chamber this morning, I really do hope there's more interest among the people out there than there is in here with respect to this throne speech. It would appear that we're barely able to hold a quorum.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to begin by quoting from an editorial this morning in the Globe and Mail, which starts out saying: "Those whose conduct gives room for talk are always the first to attack their neighbours." I think that's what this throne speech was all about. As a British Columbian, I'm very disappointed. I've seen several throne speeches, as have you, sit, in this chamber, but none as disappointing in my estimation as the one we heard two days ago.
I've seen questionable throne speeches, throne speeches that had little in the way of content, but nothing as questionable as the one we heard two days ago. This throne speech certainly takes the prize. I saw it referred to.... I wouldn't use this description myself, but I'm quoting from a news article. I've read of it being called "horse manure." Frankly I couldn't agree more. It's littered with glowing adjectives, it's steeped in fed-bashing, and it's very heavy in innuendo. No wonder, Mr. Speaker, His Honour missed an entire page; if I were he, I'd have probably missed the whole thing. Steeped in innuendo and glowing adjectives such as "profound," "positive," "gains" and "accomplishments...." What are these gains and accomplishments? What were they in the last year? Regionalization — was that one of the accomplishments? Super ministers running around this province with their shadows, putting together unwieldy committees that know not what they're for or what they're to do — is that accomplishment?
MR. MILLER: They had to get rid of that eight million bucks.
MR. KEMPF: They're getting rid of a lot more than $8 million, Mr. Member. That $8 million was merely seed money. Let's take a look — and I'm sure we will in the weeks and months ahead — at what is really being spent on those partisan political offices around the province.
Mr. Speaker, the throne speech — and I'm going to do some quoting from it, because I've heard very little of that done this morning in this debate — talks so glowingly about, 'my government" and: "We will consolidate our position." We surely will, it would appear, consolidate yet more power in the office of the Premier, in the hands of the David Pooles and Bob Plecases of this world.
MR. KEMPF: The Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Veitch) should know what I'm talking about. He should know very well, if anyone does in this chamber, what I'm talking about. Consolidation, indeed.
It talks about "increased decision-making at the community level." What hogwash! What absolute balderdash! Consolidation of power in the Premier's office, in the hands of not-even-elected people.... How absolutely disgustingly inaccurate this throne speech is with respect to what's really happening to the democratic process in the province.
"My government will play its part" — you bet it does. It plays its part: it's the only part. Not only are they not discussing these matters with communities or with the people of this province, they're not even discussing them with cabinet ministers. We have one sitting in the House today who knows a lot about that. We saw that in the throne speech, where it talked about health care, and I'll get to that later.
"My government will play its part." It'll play its part in the demise of the democratic system and in the demise of the civil service as we have known it for many, many years in this province: people not knowing from day to day, not only whether they have a job or not, but whether they have a ministry or not. If I were some of those in the front benches of that government, I'd really start to worry about that as well, because when things such as the firing of a deputy minister are done when the minister is out of the province, you can expect anything.
It talks about government and efficiency. The civil service of this province is in a turmoil. They don't know where to turn next. They don't know whether they'll be there tomorrow. They know not what's happening from one day to the next, because not only are the cabinet ministers not conferred with as to what's going to happen, neither is the civil service of this province. They don't know where they're at.
I heard someone speak glowingly this morning about "listening." This government is "listening." To whom is this government listening? They're certainly not listening to my constituents, because I hear them loud and clear on a daily basis, wondering what is really going on in this province. They're not listening to cabinet — that's evident; that's quite clear. They're not listening to caucus; we hear the grumblings. Who are they listening to? Government listening....... .
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We "encourage closer ties with Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska." They'd better make friends with someone, because it certainly wasn't a throne speech that made any friends with our eastern counterparts in this country. What a lack of diplomacy! They expect — and it says it right in the throne speech — to beat Ottawa over the head with a big stick and then expect better treatment as well. You can't have it both ways. It's absolutely and totally unbelievable that this kind of garbage should be presented in this House in a throne speech — a total disregard for the British parliamentary system, Mr. Speaker.
"Look at the record, " the speech says. Well, let's look at the record indeed. It talks about surrendering sovereignty and valuable land to establish South Moresby Park — a giveaway. They gave away the store in South Moresby, and now they can't even collect the paltry few million dollars that they got for that most beautiful part of British Columbia. They sold the store for a pittance, and they can't even collect that. How disgusting!
"We will monitor and evaluate British Columbia's standing within the federal system." What does that mean? Does it mean that if we don't get our way, we're going to secede? 1 haven't heard such talk since the Parti Quebecois. Is that what we're looking at in British Columbia? Do we have such a distaste for the parliamentary system that we would even secede from Confederation? What does that line mean?
On health care. As if our health care system wasn't in enough turmoil, we have to see the kind of innuendo in the throne speech that speaks of changes to the health care system. They're going to have a pilot project in the Victoria area that no one in the health care system in Victoria or the CRD knows anything about. Absolutely indescribable! I have never, in the years that I have been in this House, seen such a disgusting throne speech.
If the direction they are going in with respect to health care were actually true, well that's even worse, because I've never heard so much talk about socialized health care since 1972 to 1975. 1 can well imagine a gentleman who sat in this House for many years — and I don't know where he happens to be at this point in time — almost falling off a chair in reading what was in this throne speech with respect to health care. You know, Dennis Cocke would have a fit, because what the throne speech speaks of is the very thing that the NDP government was defeated on in 1975.
MR. MILLER: Is that true?
MR. KEMPF: That's true. That's one of the nails that was in the coffin.
Mr. Cocke, wherever he may be, has probably a very difficult time in believing his eyes and ears with respect to what is said about health care in this year's throne speech. This is coming from a Social Credit administration? I look around at some of the very quiet — but, I'm certain, very disgruntled — back-benchers of that party. I * ve said it before . and I'll say it again probably: imposters! The throne speech bears that out.
A number of things that showed up in last year's throne speech never came through; we see them again this year. I think one of the most important things and one of the things that the people of this province should certainly be paying attention to is the suggestion in the throne speech that new regional district legislation will be enacted. I have to ask again: what does that mean? Are we finally going to bring to fruition the Premier's dream of a county system? Is that what it means? Are we going to have a county system? Are we going to do away with most local government, which is really what that means? Is that what the suggestion in the throne speech of new regional district legislation means?
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
MR. KEMPF: No, I know the back-benchers wouldn't know. I know the cabinet ministers wouldn't know. There is only one person who would know what that means. Are we finally going to see come to fruition the county system, which is what the now Premier left cabinet in a huff about not too many years ago, calling his colleagues gutless because they wouldn't go through with it? He picked up his marbles and went home — although it would appear that they weren't very great in number, because he hasn't many marbles today.
So we're going to change the whole regional district concept, are we? We're going to do away with yet more local government. We're going to throw it into that pot of huge committees so that it can be stirred and stirred, and no attention will be paid to exactly what is going on in Victoria. Is that it?
Mr. Speaker, I don't want to go on too long, but I want to talk about a couple of other items that were in this throne speech which I don't understand.
There is a line that says: "Initiatives to double the amount of timber available for competitive sale and changes in the tenure system will be introduced." Does that mean that finally this administration is going to make good on promises that Social Credit administrations have made for years: that at least 25 percent of the annual allowable cut is going to be put in the small business or other such program, put on the auction block? Is that what it means? If that's what it means, let us spell it out, because your friends in the multinational monopoly will be very interested in that. Is that what it means: is we're actually going to get at least, if not more than, 25 percent of the annual allowable cut put on the auction block so that real British Columbians can partake in their own forest industry. which they haven't been able to do for 40 years?
It talks about agriculture. I see the minister has left, probably to seek out who will be his deputy today. It talks glowingly about a long-term strategy in agriculture. This administration can't even fill the place of a secretary long overdue and much needed in an agriculturalist's office in Smithers. And they talk about a long-term strategy with respect to agriculture.
And if all this weren't enough, they throw Rick Hansen into the throne speech. These people will use anyone or anything to bring about their own partisan political purpose.
I said earlier that 1 was ashamed as a British Columbian to see what was in this year's throne speech. It says we're going to change everything — everything has been wrong and everything will be changed in British Columbia. We're even going to change the direction in which the sun rises. Well, that's interesting. Can you believe that? You must have been watching too many of those MacMillan Bloedel ads and really think you can walk on water. And it says the best is yet to come. Mr. Speaker, it seems to me to be more of the same
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— as a very good friend and colleague in this House for many years put it: simply piled higher and deeper.
I said at the beginning that I'm embarrassed; and I am, as a British Columbian, to have seen this kind of throne speech in this House. And as an embarrassed British Columbian, I'll not endorse this throne speech.
HON. MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, inasmuch as all of the comments I have to make would be difficult if they were disjointed at this point — and I'd like a larger audience to hear the comments I'd like to make on the throne speech.... After the encouraging comments offered by the member for Omineca, his last comments before he leaves the House, I would certainly like to respond in a more elaborate manner. So I move this debate adjourn until the next sitting of the House.
Hon. Mr. Strachan moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 11:52 a.m.