[ Page 3569 ]
Motions on Notice
Motion 51. Hon. Mr. Couvelier –– 3569
Fish-processing industry. Mr. Guno –– 3569
Grape-growing industry. Mr. Rose –– 3569
University faculty retirement. Ms. Marzari –– 3570
Provision of AZT to AIDS victims. Mrs. Boone –– 3570
Deletions from Pharmacare. Mrs. Boone –– 3570
Protection of agricultural land. Mr. Rose –– 3570
Vancouver Stock Exchange. Mr. Sihota –– 3571
Fish-processing industry. Mr. Miller –– 3571
Throne Speech Debate
Hon. Mr. Richmond –– 3571
Mrs. Boone –– 3575
Mr. Michael –– 3579
Ms. Marzari –– 3581
Mr. Bruce –– 3583
Mr. Guno –– 3587
Mr. Dirks –– 3589
Mr. Stupich –– 3591
Appendix –– 3595
The House met at 2:04 p.m.
MR. PELTON: Hon. members, in the galleries today we have some 50-plus grade 11 students from Sentinel Secondary School in West Vancouver, and on behalf of our Speaker I would like to ask you to make all these young citizens welcome.
Also, if I may, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask hon. members to welcome here this afternoon Mr. Bryan Bedford and Mrs. Gloria Balzer, who are both from Victoria and are with the Royal Bank of Canada main branch here. Would you welcome them, please.
MR. G. HANSON: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to advise you and the House that I've just returned from representing the Legislature and representing Canada in Africa on the Commonwealth Games bid.
I just wanted to report to the House that the results are very encouraging; that Canada's credibility is extremely high; and in many instances I heard that Canada is regarded as Africa's best friend, and a lot of support is there. So the results are very encouraging. I see my colleague in the Legislature from Saanich is here as well, and I think he has similar reports to give.
HON. MR. PARKER: In the gallery today is a friend of mine from Washington State, a fellow forester, James Corlett, with the Western States Legislative Forestry Task Force. Would the House make him welcome, please.
MR. CASHORE: Mr. Speaker, this seems to be a day for many students to be in the area, and in the precincts are 50 students, half of them from Como Lake Junior Secondary School in Coquitlam, and half of them from Sainte-Therese, Quebec. I'd like to say that I very much appreciate the protocol office being able to conduct such a tour entirely in French. Will you join me in making these people welcome to the precincts.
HON. MR. SAVAGE: Indeed it gives me pleasure to rise in this assembly today to introduce a gentleman who has worked hard for the constituents in Delta as a member of Delta council. Would this House please make welcome Alderman Shell Busey.
MS. MARZARI: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery today are George and Tillie Taylor from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. George is taking time off from his practice in labour law to be here. Tillie I've introduced before as a former judge in the court system there. I would ask the House to welcome them for their quasi — retirement here.
MR. VANT: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery today is Sarah Bonner, one of our hard-working legislative interns. Joining her today are her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Sydnie Bonner. They are constituents in the electoral district of Esquimalt-Port Renfrew, so I know the House will want to give them a very warm welcome.
MR. SIHOTA: I have been upstaged by the second member for Cariboo, but I too would like to offer my wishes and I am pleased to see the Bonner family here in the Legislature.
In addition to that, in the gallery is a good friend of mine and a hard-working and very impressive member of the Sooke School Board. trustee Rory Rickwood. Would members please join me in welcoming Mr. Rickwood.
MRS. BOONE: I'd like the House to join me in welcoming a young woman from Prince George, Muriel Zemliak. She is here as a student at the University of Victoria.
Motions on Notice
HON. MR. COUVELIER: I move Motion 51 standing in my name on the order paper. [See appendix.]
MR. GUNO: I have a couple of short questions to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Is the minister satisfied that the federal government's position on GATT and the fisheries will protect fish-processing jobs in British Columbia?
HON. MR. SAVAGE: Discussion is underway, and that's future policy.
MR. GUNO: I would like to ask the minister if he has seen the recent press release by the federal Minister of Fisheries, and does he not have any comments on that press release?
HON. MR. SAVAGE: Mr. Speaker, I have seen the press release and certainly realize what is being asked here. I'm very cognizant of the fact that the discussions that are going on are between federal Fisheries and our provincial government at this stage.
MR. GUNO: Another question to the minister. In December the minister warned Canadians that a GATT ruling against B.C.'s fish-processing requirements would constitute a serious limitation on B.C.'s ability to manage its natural resources. Was that the policy of the B.C. government then? Is it the policy of the B.C. government now? And has the government reconsidered its unconditional support for the Mulroney trade deal. as the minister stated in his letter in December?
HON. MR. SAVAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly we are concerned with conservation so we do have a future in the fisheries industry in this province. Those discussions have been ongoing relative to policy for the catch as it goes on year by year.
MR. ROSE: Supplementary to the same minister concerning the GATT ruling, which may be very appealing to the wine-lovers, but the grape-growers of B.C. face a loss of their livelihood with the double whammy of free trade plus this GATT ruling. I want to know whether the minister has accepted the latest Ottawa scheme to sell out the B.C. wine
[ Page 3570 ]
industry and the phasing in of the GATT ruling over two years.
HON. MR. SAVAGE: Mr. Speaker, I don't accept that the industry will be dying. In fact, we're looking at mitigating measures between the federal and provincial governments.
MR. ROSE: "Mitigating" is another word for adjustment costs for the losers. That's what is really happening here.
I want to know, Mr. Speaker, whether the minister intends to support the industry's request to have this phase-in, if it must come, over 12 years rather than the two which has been agreed to. Is he going to do anything about it, or is he going to roll over and play dead like he usually does?
HON. MR. SAVAGE: Mr. Speaker, I hope I don't look too dead, thank you.
I'll tell you that in the wine industry we are making every effort in our negotiations with the federal government that relate to the time-frame for the provisions of phasing in.
MR. ROSE: I know that this is not yet a bilingual House, but I wonder if the minister would care to translate that.
HON. MR. SAVAGE: I think it was pretty straightforward. It doesn't need translation.
UNIVERSITY FACULTY RETIREMENT
MS. MARZARI: This is to the Minister of Advanced Education. In January of this year, UBC lost a mandatory retirement appeal case. Yesterday the president of UBC said that B.C. universities will be coming to the government to ask government to opt out of section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Has such a "notwithstanding" request been received by your department, Mr. Minister?
HON. S. HAGEN: I've received a letter from one of the universities dealing with that subject. But the question you've asked is clearly future policy.
MS. MARZARI: A supplementary then. Would you not agree, Mr. Minister, that tossing out the Charter's equality provisions for the whole province in an attempt to solve a university's age-bulge problem is a gross overreaction to a problem?
HON. S. HAGEN: It's clearly an anticipation on the member's part, Mr. Speaker. With all due respect, I think it's future policy, and we will be dealing with it.
MS. MARZARI: I understand that you will be dealing with it, Mr. Minister, but I would like to assure myself that this government is not prepared to throw out section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms just to deal with this one problem that the university has.
My question is: when do you intend to reveal your university retirement plan, which you promised me during estimates last year?
HON. S. HAGEN: The question, of course, is one that I'm very concerned with, not only with regard to UBC but all the universities, and we will be dealing with it. We have other options for dealing with that particular question, and we will be looking at all of the options available to us.
PROVISION OF AZT TO AIDS VICTIMS
MRS. BOONE: A question to the Minister of Health. AZT, the only drug available to assist AIDS victims, is no longer being provided free. The BCMA has passed a resolution calling for the provision of this drug free of charge to the unfortunate victims of AIDS, as are drugs for such things as chemotherapy. Has the minister decided to reconsider his decision with regard to the drug AZT?
HON. MR. DUECK: All the drugs, once they come off the experimental list, come under our Pharmacare program, and so does AZT. Currently that's where it's at with the provisions under that section.
MRS. BOONE: Supplementary to the minister. This drug is very expensive and is going to cause extreme hardship to the victims of AIDS. Has the minister decided to consult with the BCMA to find out what can be done to assist these people in attaining that drug at a reasonable cost? There are going to be people who will not be able to get this drug, Mr. Minister.
HON. MR. DUECK: Number one, I don't think we consult with the BCMA on how we are going to channel our funds, when it comes to budgeting and various programs. In this case, the Pharmacare program has worked very well. I do admit that AZT, cyclosporin and growth hormone drugs are very expensive. They were on the experimental list for some time, the companies took them off, and we've now got them under the Pharmacare program.
We've added one amendment to that program that none would be over the $2,000 mark for the year. In other words, we put a limit on it. So when you're talking about AZT, it could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 a year, and the maximum that any individual will pay will be $2,000. There are people who can't afford it; there are people on social service programs. They will not pay anything. Anyone over 65 years of age does not pay. Any medication supplied to an individual in a hospital is also free of charge. Then, if they have a problem, those just over that poverty line or that social services line may then apply to the ministry, and perhaps we can find a way to alleviate that cost.
DELETIONS FROM PHARMACARE
MRS. BOONE: A question to the minister. Recently your ministry has announced the removal from Pharmacare of such items as vitamin C and Nicorette gum to help people stop smoking. How can the minister justify the removal of those items from Pharmacare, given that the throne speech actually mentions prevention and keeping people healthy?
HON. MR. DUECK: I think that this is a question you could answer yourself. If you stopped smoking, the money you could save I'll tell you, it would be worth your while to buy that particular drug and stop smoking.
PROTECTION OF AGRICULTURAL LAND
MR. ROSE: To the Minister of Agriculture. Seventy percent of the requests to ELUC, appeals on the Land Commission's rulings, have been lost. In other words, the exclusions have been granted. I wonder whether the minister can
[ Page 3571 ]
assure the House that past government policy, at least, of protecting the integrity of agricultural land has been applied to the request for the Cloverdale transportation museum.
HON. MR. SAVAGE: Equal consideration would be given, but that's future decisions.
MR. ROSE: I am always worried about those future decisions. Sometimes they happen in the past and we hear about them in the future.
I wonder, since the minister really is the minister who speaks for the Land Commission and is supposed to be supporting it, whether he can tell the House if the concerns of the commission were placed squarely and firmly before ELUC by the minister.
HON. MR. SAVAGE: I don't believe that's information for this House.
MR. ROSE: Well, it's strange that the public's business is going on and being handled behind closed doors. I want to know whether the minister supported the Agricultural Land Commission's chairman and his objections to taking 80 acres of active farmland out of the reserve, when there are plenty of alternate sites in the immediate vicinity.
HON. MR. SAVAGE: That decision has not been made.
VANCOUVER STOCK EXCHANGE
MR. SIHOTA: A question to the Minister of Finance. Between March I and March 3 the value of shares in American Canadian Systems Inc. skyrocketed from approximately $1.75 a share to $2.90 a share. During this time Canarim Investments dumped hundreds of thousands of shares of that stock. On March 4 there was a halt-trading order with respect to that stock, and the stock fell again, back down to $1.80. Obviously Canarim profited immensely. Has the minister investigated to determine whether Canarim was privy to insider information?
HON. MR. COUVELIER: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak about the excellent work being done by the Securities Commission and the Vancouver Stock Exchange in terms of their enforcing the requirements imposed on them by legislation and their own rules. I can tell the hon. member that the terrific progress that has been made in terms of monitoring and in terms of bringing some discipline into that system is one that I'm very proud of.
I will remind the member of comments I've made repeatedly, in answer to previous questions, that there will always be instances that require examination, and he has hit on one that is presently under examination. It would therefore obviously be inappropriate for me to comment any further on that today.
MR. SIHOTA: The problem is that the work is not being done. Indeed, I want to bring to the minister's attention another situation, again of insider trading. Mr. Charles Stewart was banned from trading on the Vancouver Stock Exchange for life in 1970. Now he owns 16 percent of a company called Goldhurst Resources. To date, no insider reports have been filed by Mr. Stewart. Could the minister explain why his ministry is not doing its job and demanding that Mr. Stuart file insider reports? Why, Mr. Minister, have those reports not been filed to date?
HON. MR. COUVELIER: I continue to be amazed by a member of the legal profession, knowing full well the constraints upon the ability of a minister of the Crown to respond to questions as specific as that, dealing with subjects which are under examination. He knows full well that I'm not able to respond to those specifies, and I decline to do so now.
MR. MILLER: To the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Speaker, following up on the question about the GATT ruling. I think something is fishy here. The Minister of Economic Development said we have to concur with the federal government. The minister talks about future policy. Was the minister consulted as to the measures that the federal government proposes? Is he satisfied with those measures that they intend to implement? Is the minister satisfied with Canada's position of accepting the GATT ruling? Will the landing requirement require all species to be landed in Canada?
The minister should give answers to this House. There are B.C. jobs at stake in this issue, Mr. Minister. It's not future policy.
HON. MR. SAVAGE: Yes, I'm satisfied with the discussions that are going on.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Adjourned debate on the Address in Reply.
Throne Speech Debate
HON. MR. RICHMOND: I'm pleased to take my place in the debate on the throne speech, and I might add that I'm pleased to see such a fine group of young people in the House today to hear question period, which is usually exciting. It wasn't so hot today, but some days it's quite exciting. I'm very pleased that you are also here to hear some of the positive things that are contained in this year's throne speech. I'm going to touch on a few of those items for you, so that you may hear what the government is doing and what they're planning to do over the next little while. I plan to touch on a few things such as the private sector, and the testing of automobiles and light pickup trucks which will be made universal throughout the province, and why the New Democratic Party is against the private sector doing that. I intend to touch on the deficit in this province and where it would be had the New Democratic Party been in government for the last few years. And I would like to talk about some of the changes that are going on in our society today — the changing economics, the changing social mores and values — and why it is that the socialists opposite seem to be afraid of change. And we want to talk about some new ideas and a little about decentralization.
But first of all, I want to spend just a few moments talking about my constituency of Kamloops and North Thompson.
I am pleased to say that both myself and the second member for Kamloops (Mr. S.D. Smith) enjoy the support of the people of that great constituency and....
[ Page 3572 ]
MR. BLENCOE: Do you talk to each other?
HON. MR. RICHMOND: Yes, as a matter of fact, we do, Mr. Member. Do you ever talk to your colleague — or only when he happens to be in town, which probably isn't very often? Or perhaps he doesn't understand you. I am pleased to say that we do have an excellent relationship, Mr. Member. My colleague covered many of the subjects regarding the constituency; I can only say I echo his comments and have been privileged, as he has, to attend many functions in our constituency, both in the urban area and up in the North Thompson area.
I would like to congratulate all those in my constituency who work so very hard and give unselfishly of their time. Over the last year we have seen many examples of people giving many hundreds of hours of volunteer time in the constituency, and I would like to take this opportunity to put on the record a big thank-you to all of those who volunteer, not only in our constituency but all over the province. Many of our social programs would be impossible to deliver if it weren't for the volunteers in the various communities throughout the province.
As I said, my colleague and I have had many meetings in all corners of the constituency, and especially in the community of Clearwater, over this last little while, because Clearwater is going through some very trying times. As many of you in this House may know and some may not, the forest industry is going through a really drastic change in the way that they deliver their product. I think it's fairly common knowledge that most of the mills in the province, and especially in the interior, are becoming highly automated and very efficient. In fact, they're turning out more lumber than they ever have in the past, but they're doing it with fewer employees. Consequently, in this last six or seven months, in our constituency, we have had three sawmills shut down and the activities and wood supply consolidated into fewer mills.
The consequence of this, of course, is that the lumber industry is now employing about 60 percent of the number of people it used to employ, and towns like Clearwater have been especially hard hit. So I would like to offer a special vote of thanks for the people in Clearwater, who have banded together during this tough time to try to do something about their plight and their future. The consortium of people in Clearwater, brought together by some of the community leaders, is determined that their town will survive and be successful, and we on this side of the House will do everything we can to help them in their endeavours.
The unemployment rate in our riding is still unacceptably high, and that is why we are concentrating, wherever possible, on economic development. I want to touch on that in a few moments, when we get into regionalization — or decentralization — in the ministry.
MR. BLENCOE: Which one is it?
HON. MR. RICHMOND: You take your pick, Mr. Member. If the words are too long, I'll use smaller ones for you.
I would like to stress a few specific meetings we've had over the last year in the community, especially those dealing with the Kamloops Indian Band and the negotiations surrounding the Mount Lolo radar site and its closure in August of this year. I am pleased to say that we concluded a successful deal with the Kamloops band, thanks to Manny Jules and his council, and that the site will be used for a young offenders' detention site, so that most of the jobs that have been there over the last 20 or so years with the Department of National Defence will not be lost but will continue under the aegis of the Attorney-General. The negotiations were complex, as the access to the site has to go directly through the middle of the Kamloops Indian Reserve. I can say that we had the utmost cooperation and it was a pleasure doing business with them.
I am also pleased to announce that after a period of some time, we now have what appears to be a good deal on the Tranquille lands, the former institution that was under this ministry, which was shut down in the early eighties. I'm pleased to say that we now have an offer on the property, an option signed the other day for six months and a very energetic young group that I think will put together an exciting proposal for those lands.
While I'm on the subject of Tranquille, I should also add at this time that the results of the closure of that institution have been nothing short of spectacular. The reports we get back from the parents of children who were institutionalized there and are now living meaningful lives in communities throughout the province are heartwarming to say the least. I could show you letters from parents who just cannot believe the progress their children have made since they've been taken out of that institution and put back into the community.
Better yet, I would urge any member of this House, if they have some time, to visit a group home once in a while and have a look at what has happened around this province with some of the people who were literally warehoused in institutions. I think it would do your heart good.
We have had an ongoing relationship in Kamloops with the seniors in their new Lansdowne drop-in centre, and I would just like to take a brief moment to congratulate them all. I won't mention names, because I don't want to leave anyone out, and there are too many of them who have worked so hard down there for the seniors. I just want to say that they are providing a tremendous service to the community, and we've been able to help them through some mutual cooperation over the past year and some lottery funds. I urge them to keep up the good work. We will do our utmost to see that they expand the facilities in their drop-in centre.
My colleague the second member for Kamloops mentioned in his speech the other day that he had had a tremendously successful meeting in the community regarding free trade. I would just like to iterate that I have done the same thing. The other day in Kamloops I had a meeting with more than 100 people in the community, people interested in the fact that Canada now has a free trade arrangement with the United States. The response to it in the community has been absolutely excellent. I just want to touch on that for the moment, while we're talking about meetings in the constituency, and then come back to it in a few minutes.
I want to commend the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Davis) for going to Kamloops with me and meeting with the mining community, which is so important to the constituency of Kamloops. He is very mindful of the needs of that community and the very tenuous nature of mining, and I commend him for the work he's doing regarding mining taxation.
Kamloops, like many other constituencies, has gone through some tough times over the last few years. I'm pleased to say that the government was able to respond during these years and pick up some of the slack that the private sector was unable to do. I could mention such things as the
[ Page 3573 ]
Lottery Corporation; the printing plant, which was attracted there because of that; the highway construction in the area, which literally saved the road-building industry of this province; the hospital wing; the provincial jail and a few more, but I think it now leads me into the first subject I want to get into: decentralization.
Now it's time, as the economy turns around, for the private sector to start picking up some of its slack and leading the way with the help of government, the ministry of state function and the MLAs in every area — especially in our area. The indicators are there that the economy is turning around. Employment is up, even though some unemployment figures are too high. We look forward to the next few years, which I am convinced will be some of the most exciting years we've ever seen in British Columbia.
Recently, Highland Valley Copper expanded its operation twice in the Highland Valley to secure jobs there, and in its most recent announcement late in February, it is spending in the area of $70 million to expand the facilities and secure jobs in the mining industry in our region.
Many of the people who work in the Highland Valley live in Ashcroft and Logan Lake, but many of them live in Kamloops. I commend the Highland Valley Copper principals for their foresight and their fortitude in investing those kinds of dollars in an industry which has seen some tremendous fluctuations over the last few years.
We've seen copper prices go all the way from 60 cents up to $1.20 a pound, and there are indications that it may go back down somewhat in the future.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: I sincerely hope that it stays up where it is. No, Mr. Member, I won't take credit for anything that I don't deserve credit for, but wait for a moment, and I will take some credit for some other things.
The second member for Vancouver East (Mr. Clark) is talking about taking credit for things. I just want to touch for a moment on something that I read in the paper the other day about his party and their reaction to the announcement in the throne speech on page 8 that mandatory basic safety inspections will be extended to include automobiles and light trucks and that it was going to be done by the private sector — little fellows operating service stations with mechanics — and how terrible that would be.
I can't believe that this party, which purports to represent the "little man" all the time, is against someone in the private sector doing the testing of automobiles. It seemed to be all right to them when we had three testing stations or so around the province in just a very few areas which were run by the government. But when we suggest that it should be provincewide and run by the private sector, they seem to be afraid of that.
I don't understand that kind of thinking, Mr. Speaker. I can tell you that when the policy is announced, and if it does include the testing done by private service stations and individually licensed mechanics, I have every confidence in them to do the job well and at a reasonable cost to all motorists. I don't think there is something magic about a person because they happen to be an employee of government. I think they're the same people, whether they're working for this government or working in the private sector. They're basically honest, hard-working people, and the testing will be done properly, and I believe will be done by the private sector.
Over the next few years. we are entering into some tremendous economic changes. The way business is being done worldwide is changing, and people are going to have to change and adapt to new ways of doing business, or they won't be around to do business for very long.
One of the things that is changing — and I want to clear up this point because there is a lot of misinformation on it — is that this year the Americans are going to pass some very restrictive trade legislation. It will be protectionist, and they are doing it for a good reason, because their trade with certain countries, such as Japan and West Germany, is in a state of imbalance. In fact it is way out of line, and the United States is saying to countries like Japan: "You had better get back into line and start letting us trade with your people because it's been a one-way street too long."
Thankfully, the government of Canada entered into free trade negotiations and has signed a free trade arrangement with the United States so that we wouldn't be caught by this protectionist legislation. We are now inside the fence of protectionism instead of outside, and I think that is going to be all the difference in what happens in Canada and especially British Columbia over the next few years.
[Mr. Pelton in the chair.]
Since the free trade arrangement has been signed, we are receiving more inquiries from foreign investors than we ever have in the past regarding investing in Canada and specifically British Columbia, and more specifically in region 3, the Thompson-Okanagan, which is the region that I am most concerned about. British Columbia has always been a tremendous place to do business and a very attractive place for all the reasons that we know very well — the tremendous workforce here, the stable political climate, the wonderful part of the world in which to live.
Since the free trade arrangement has been signed, it has become more attractive than ever, as we have become a front door into the American market.
MR. WILLIAMS: Why do you need a front door when you can go right there?
HON. MR. RICHMOND: Mr. Member, the people who seem to want to come to North America wish to come to British Columbia, or a great many of them do, and they come to see us because this is the part of the world they want to live in. They want to live in Canada and they want to trade in North America. But for some reason or another, the members opposite seem to be afraid of change. Only the timid are afraid of change, and we're looking at them across the way. The timid are afraid of change, but the courageous look upon change as an opportunity, and many of them want to come here, Mr. Member.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: When we have some of these investors here setting up industries in the interior of this province, Mr. Member, then I'll come back and ask you to eat those words, and you will. You'll still be sitting over there looking over here, saying: how did they attract that industry to Kamloops or Kelowna or Merritt?
I don't know what the NDP are afraid of. They seem to be tremendously afraid to do trade in the rest of the world. They
[ Page 3574 ]
seem to be afraid of a free trade arrangement. I'd like them to stand up when it's their turn to speak and tell us why they're against free trade. You're afraid. Or are you a bunch of sheep as you accuse us of being, and you just follow Mr. Broadbent's lead, or whatever Bob White says you stand up and salute? If Broadbent says free trade is no good, then you stand up and echo it, I want you to stand up and tell us in this House why it's no good for us, why it's not going to be good.
Yes, Mr. Member, I know that we can all point to an industry or two that will lose from free trade. There's no question. But for every loser there will be about six winners. Those are not my figures, but according to economists — not economists from British Columbia either. There will be the odd loser in free trade, and we have recognized that. It's even addressed in the throne speech, if you'll look on page 4. It says we will "provide assistance where appropriate to help businesses or sectors adjust to the free trade agreement." There are some industries that we will have to help through free trade. Some will need more than others and the agreement will have to be phased in. There is no question. But there's also no doubt that when the agreement is signed, it's not perfect. We don't pretend the agreement is perfect. It will evolve as other trade arrangements have evolved, so that after a period of time it will be not only a good deal but a great deal, and it will be good for everyone.
MR. WILLIAMS: You haven't read it.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: I have read it, Mr. Member. It will evolve into a good deal for Canada and British Columbia. All you have to do is go back in history and look at what was the European Common Market, now the European Economic Community, and you will see exactly what happened. Countries were scared to death to get into the European Common Market, and now you couldn't get them out for anything. They wouldn't want out of that arrangement. In fact, countries are still trying to get into the Common Market, and nobody's trying to get out. Thanks to the leadership of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the British manufacturing sector is turning around and Britain will now become a leader in the European Economic Community once again.
I can tell you that over the next two or three years we are going to see a diversification of industry into British Columbia that we haven't seen before. We need that, especially in the interior, Mr. Speaker, where we have become so dependent on the primary sectors of forestry and mining. I sincerely hope that they continue to be our number one and two economic generators for a long time, and I'm sure they will. But we have become very dependent on them, and we must diversify so that we can level out some of the peaks and valleys that we have been subject to over the last few years.
My home town of Kamloops has been subject, for as long as I can remember — and I've lived there almost all my life — to a boom and bust economy. I firmly believe that over the next few years we will be able to attract some industry there that is not dependent on the primary sector and will help us even out some of the curves.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: You haven't been listening, Madam Member. I've been telling you that since the free trade arrangement has been signed we have had more interest in industry locating in British Columbia than ever before. It's going to happen. That's why we support the free trade arrangement. And when you get a chance to speak in this debate, which I think you will this afternoon, I'd like you to tell the House why you don't support it. Give us your reasons, not Mr. Broadbent's reasons. I'd like to hear why you don't support the free trade deal.
What we are doing, Mr. Speaker, with the regionalization of the province or decentralization — whichever one you wish to call it — is having the decisions made in the regions and the communities by elected people, business people, and forestry, mining and ranching people in the communities. We want the decisions made there by the people who live there, so that we can take advantage of some of this new wealth that will be coming to our province.
As I said to the group I spoke to the other night, none of the elected people in the regions need to have any fear of regionalization, because it's not there to usurp any of their powers. It's there to help them amalgamate their resources, bring them together and have a direct pipeline into cabinet through the ministers of state; but more importantly, to have the people in the area determine what they want their region to look like over the next few years.
We're concentrating primarily on economic development, because that's where the emphasis is needed. As I said earlier, the unemployment rate in our communities is far too high, and we must concentrate on not only preserving the business we have but endeavouring to bring new small and large business to our regions. The concept is going over well in the communities. We are well underway with having our committees structured on the economic side. Phase 2 of our decentralization will be the social service side of the equation, and the delivery of government services in the region, such as future planning for health needs, hospitals, future planning for long-term care needs, services for seniors, highways, corrections.... It's not the day-to-day running of these functions; that's a line ministry function. We're talking about the planning of what people want to see their region look like over the next few years, what they want to see in social services. So economic development first, social services second, and the decisions made in the regions by the people who live in the regions, not by the people who sit down here at the southern end of Vancouver Island.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: We listen to the carping from the other side, Mr. Speaker, and how afraid they are of any change — nothing should ever change; it should always stay just the same.
MR. BLENCOE: Vicious attack.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: Is it? The Luddites are here again — leave everything the same; we shouldn't change anything.
MR. BLENCOE: We all know about the $8 million last time — special warrants. That's what we're worried about.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: Follow from the front — is that what it is? That's their idea of leadership. When we talk about leadership, we're talking about people who have a plan, who know where they're going, know how they're going to get there, and are not afraid to talk about it to the
[ Page 3575 ]
people; rather than what we see from the other side — let's find out where everybody's going, then run and get in front. That's the idea of leadership from that side of the House. We saw it.
MR. BLENCOE: How come you don't mention the Premier when you're talking about leadership?
HON. MR. RICHMOND: I'm talking about our leader in this government. Do I have to spell it out for you? Can't you figure anything out for yourself — not even the smallest things?
Mr. Speaker, I'm convinced that decentralization will be a boon to the interior of this province. Cities throughout the world are growing in spite of themselves. The major cities in the world are growing at a rate that in many countries is alarming. I can tell you that the same thing will happen in Canada if we don't have a process of regionalization, of getting some investment out of the big urban centres and into the rural areas. We must have a means of dispersing the investment into the north, the interior and the Kootenays, because Vancouver is going to grow no matter what. The phenomenon is happening worldwide. Every country is experiencing tremendous growth in its cities and having the problem of getting investment and attracting people into the rural areas. This government is doing something about it with our process of decentralization. I think the timing could not be better for us to be embarked on this program as it ties into the changing economic patterns of the world, especially with free trade.
I want to touch for a few moments on some things we're doing in my ministry, Mr. Speaker. We have made some tremendous changes over the last few years, and I can see I'm not going to have time to go into all of them.
We are reorganizing the structure of the ministry to deliver services more efficiently and effectively. I want to put to rest the notion put forward by some newspaper columnists that there are going to be cutbacks in social services and particularly in welfare. These people, such as Nicole Parton in the Province, do not seem to care about the anxieties they cause needlessly for the people out there. As long as they can have a newspaper column that sells, they're not too interested in whether there's any fact in it.
I can tell you that they cause needless fear and anxiety in people out there, who don't need any more trauma. I want to put that to rest and say that we are making the ministry more efficient. We're putting the emphasis where it belongs, and that is on services to people. We're cutting down the paperwork load that social workers have to go through. We're closing some redundant offices, putting more managers into the field and making the delivery of social services as efficient as we possibly can. I want to assure all those out there that in spite of what they read in the Vancouver Province. services to people are not being cut back. There is no curtailment of welfare services or GAIN, if you like. I just wish these people would not needlessly cause this anxiety and stress in people for the sake of selling a newspaper.
MRS. BOONE: I'd like to set the first member for Kamloops to rest here. We certainly would like some change, and the very first change we would like to see is in this government. We would very much like to see this government change, so that we can get some real changes in this province, and we haven't seen any taking place at all.
Last year, Mr. Speaker, I stood up here — I was a rookie, as were the majority of us in this House — and talked to you about the needs in my community, as we all have done. I spoke to you about the needs of the north and some things I thought we should be addressing, some problems we had. I mentioned the lack of specialists and services in those areas. At that time I was hoping that some of my colleagues from the interior and the northern half of this province would also get up and talk about those issues and would try to seek those changes within the government on our behalf.
Since that time, I've traveled to a good portion of this province, into the Kootenays, the Kamloops area, the northern half, down into the Cariboo, out into the Skeena area — and I've been meeting with people to find out what their concerns are and their problems are. I discovered that not just the northern half of this province is lacking in services, but virtually every area outside the lower mainland and some areas within the lower mainland have a severe lack of various services, from mental health programs to alcohol and drug services to virtually any program of a preventive nature, and in many cases a lot of the acute programs as well which fit into my critic area.
I found, much to my dismay, that very few of my colleagues are standing up in this House and defending their areas. Very few of my colleagues — and I do consider the Social Credit members my colleagues — such as the colleague from Quesnel, have stood up and spoken up on behalf of those areas.
When we went around, I found that there were severe problems, and people are very concerned about privatization. They are extremely concerned about privatization in particular with regard to how it is going to affect the highways in their areas. Yet I have not heard a single member from the government side in this House stand up and voice those concerns, despite the fact that mayors, councils and regional districts throughout this area have said that there's a problem here and they are very concerned with what is happening.
In fact, the first member for Cariboo (Mr. A. Fraser), the very member who everyone in this House said did such a good job as the Minister of Highways, this very gentleman, stood here and said that privatization was a disaster. He said that this is going to cause severe hardship, that it is not good for the province, that it is not good for the citizens of British Columbia. Yet what does his seatmate do? The seatmate who is able to speak — does he speak up on behalf of his community? No, he does not. One member for Cariboo who has a voice, a regular speaking voice, remains totally numb on this, absolutely numb. He does not say a word about how privatization is going to be affecting his area.
MRS. BOONE: No he's numb. I say he's numb because he is not feeling or thinking on behalf of any of those things.
This throne speech talks about a careful but bold program of privatization. A "careful...." How much care was put into a program that asks for briefs to be presented, and then when the briefs come in, lo and behold, they have a brief from the BCGEU? How careful was this program that they suddenly say: "Oh no, no, no, this is not what we're going to do. We've changed our mind. We are going to divide this province into 18 sections." How careful was that plan? Not very careful at all.
[ Page 3576 ]
In fact, there has been no planning at all in this area, and far from being careful here, this government is leading us to the brink of disaster without ever thinking twice about any of these areas, With municipalities and people out there saying,"We do not want this to take place," this government is carrying on with this. They are bold — and bold they are, I will certainly give them that. But careful they are not; they never have been, and I certainly don't think they ever will be.
When I spoke up in this House, I mentioned that I wanted to see a university in the northern half of this province. I am pleased to see that we have a society right now that has grown up from the grassroots and developed, and they are working to convince the Minister of Advanced Education (Hon. S. Hagen), as I shall do, that we desperately need a university in our community; that a university is there not just to provide the educational aspects, but as an economic development tool as well.
That is absolutely essential for us in the north. We have a lower participation of people in post-secondary education than anywhere in this province. Partially that is due to the fact that people just cannot afford to take their children, send them down to Vancouver or Victoria, and provide the education, the support systems there for them.
So Mr. Minister — you are listening to me now — this is my plea to you on behalf of the university society of Prince George: please consider this; please give this careful consideration because it is absolutely essential. This has the full-hearted support of the labour community, the business community, the educational community, the social services community. Every community in our area is saying that a university is required. Thank you, Mr. Minister.
The privatization.... I'm sorry that the Minister of Social Services and Housing (Hon. Mr. Richmond) has gone away, because he was talking about....
MR. MOWAT: You're alone.
MRS. BOONE: I'm alone. I am alone over here, but that's okay; I've stood alone before and I'll stand alone today too.
The privatization that is taking place within the Social Services and Housing ministry is taking place not in a manner that is open and above-board, in the manner that this government talked about originally, where they said everything was going to be in the open, where we were going to be consulting with people. Oh no, the privatization that is taking place in the Ministry of Social Services and Housing, as in the Ministry of Health, is taking place on a very subversive level.
You do not see announcements indicating that they are privatizing the specialized adoption services. You do not see announcements saying that they are privatizing some of the child support services. You don't see announcements indicating those things. But they are taking place; they are taking place right now as we speak, they have taken place already. I've done some looking into some of these issues to try to figure just how they are going to be providing service at a level which they say they are going to, and still save us money.
I don't know how they are going to do it, because in fact what you have is.... I will use one example. We have contracted out in Prince George the specialized adoption services. Those services went to a firm that is making money, is out to make a profit, that comes from Vancouver. They came up, they hired two social workers at a rate higher than what they were making as social workers. They then went about and hired a part-time clerk, and then they had to rent an office space. All of this is done on the basis of providing specialized adoption services to these children.
Now these people are telling me that they are going to be able to provide a superior service to what they were able to do when they were ministry employees, and 1 don't doubt it because they have a very small caseload. Two social workers are currently working with a caseload of about eight, Their contract was to go up to possibly 2 1. Any social worker that is out there in the Ministry of Social Services and Housing that felt that they could deal with a caseload of eight would feel that they were being able to provide a very wonderful service to these people.
However, here we have two social workers, a clerk, additional rent, profit going to a Vancouver firm and they're paying their social workers above what they were making when they were ministry employees. How is it possible that this is being done on a cost-saving basis? It is not possible. When I mentioned to these people what takes place down the road, because their contract is only for two years, they say: "Well, we can renegotiate." I say: "What's going to take place down the road when given the free trade agreement, some large corporation, such as Humana Care in the U.S., is able to come in and negotiate a rate that is better than what you can provide?" They say: "Oh, no. They won't do that, because they're here to provide the best service possible." You bet they will.
When it comes down to dollars and cents, large corporations such as Humana Care will be able to outbid our people any time of the day. That is why, if the Minister of Social Services and Housing (Hon. ML Richmond) was here, I'd be able to tell him why I am opposed to the free trade agreement, but obviously, after asking me, he really didn't want to hear from me. But again, I guess that's very typical of this government: ask a question and not stay to listen for the answer.
I have some severe concerns about what's taking place in the privatization area. As I have said, it is taking place very quietly, without any announcements, without anybody being aware that it is taking place. Alcohol and drug programs are very quietly being privatized. Those are not going to be profit-makers right now. They're going out to societies, who will then hire people to operate and who, in the past, have taken over many of the jobs in Social Services and Housing and then have found themselves virtually begging for the funds to operate those societies. That's one of my major fears regarding privatization that is taking place in this province.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
When we see that they are selling off highways and the Queen's Printer, we know what's going on, but there is a tremendous amount that's going on in this province that nobody knows about and that nobody is aware of and nobody will be aware of until down the line we find that all our social services and all our health care services are privatized out and contracted out, that they are being operated through nonprofit societies that are virtually existing on minimum dollars. That is my fear in the free trade and privatization areas.
As I say, when you look at the large corporations out there, such as Humana Care down in the States, and you connect that up with the free trade agreement which gives those people equal access to invest in our health care and social services programs, you can see that we in this province
[ Page 3577 ]
are going to have our health care system operated by large corporations. That is not what we want in this province for anyone.
There has been a great deal of talk in this House about decentralization and about how they are responding to the needs of the community and how the decentralization process is working to develop a rapport among their colleagues out there — the municipalities, the regional districts and the school boards. We in this little corner of the world believe that we ought to be doing this on a regular basis anyway. We do not believe that we need a minister of state to gather us together to try to get us to cooperate with our regional districts and our municipalities. We do that on a regular basis as it is.
It's interesting, because when I've been talking to some of the people around.... I was speaking to a gentleman who was working as a liaison person for the Minister of Education's area. I've forgotten what it's called right now.
MRS. BOONE: Minister of the North? No.
AN HON. MEMBER: Peace River.
MRS. BOONE: Peace River North. When I asked the gentleman about the necessity for this — why they did not just go through the existing ministries; why they didn't just give the money to the municipalities and the school boards, for them to make the development decisions; why they needed another set of bureaucracy and another set of government there — he indicated to me that they needed that because sometimes they couldn't get things through the minister; that sometimes they needed a direct line into the government, into cabinet, because sometimes the ministers didn't respond to their MLAs' needs. I looked at him in amazement, because what this is saying to me is that they have instituted this minister of state in order to bypass the existing minister.
Now surely to goodness the ministers who are there ought to be the ones to decide what are appropriate things to be taken to cabinet. If those ministers are going to be eternally bypassed by the ministers of state, then they ought to be sitting there and looking and wondering just how long they are going to be in their positions, and how long their ministries are going to exist. Will we not be down very shortly to just eight ministers of state who are able to designate and say what goes to cabinet? Why is it necessary to have a minister of state to bypass a minister? Those are the words that were given to me.
I also said to this gentleman: "Do you not think that this is bypassing the existing MLA?' He said: "Well, yes, you could have a point there. Maybe they are." And I do have a point there. These people are trying to bypass the existing MLAs. But I can tell you, they will not be allowed to bypass this MLA, not in my area, at all; not in my area, ever.
MR. SPEAKER: The first member for Dewdney has asked leave to make an introduction. I thank the member for allowing him to.
MR. PELTON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I would also like to thank the hon. member for Prince George North for her courtesy.
Earlier today, Mr. Speaker, I introduced on your behalf a group of 50 grade 11 students from Sentinel Secondary School in West Vancouver. and now. Your Honour and hon. members, we are graced with having the rest of the members of the class with us here in the chamber. I would ask you all to give them a very warm welcome, please.
MRS. BOONE: Mr. Speaker, in reading through the throne speech here, we see some things that I find really interesting. It says: "Government itself will become more efficient, accountable and affordable." 'Accountable" I find very interesting, seeing as how we just went through about a week's debate on the famous Coquihalla, where $500 million disappeared somewhere in this massive budget, the affordable government budget that they have, and yet none of these existing government members thought they should be accountable for this or even accountable for everything. "Let bygones be bygones," they said. "Let's forget about it." I don't think the public are going to forget about it, and I don't think they're going to allow you to not be accountable on this very issue.
They mention here — and the Premier says this with pride — that "British Columbia cooperated fully to assist Ottawa in resolving the softwood lumber dispute." If that is true, then he ought to go and talk to some of the people out there in the field who feel that this government and his interference severely hindered the process; that we are now stuck eternally with the 15 percent tariff because of the interference of this Premier in the softwood lumber dispute. He certainly did nothing to solve this dispute, but did a tremendous amount to put a 15 percent tariff on our lumber industry eternally, which we will not be able to get off.
The Premier states: "We will seek a reduced emphasis on direct loans in favour of increased involvement by commercial lending institutions." Then in the very next line the throne speech says we ".... will consider loan guarantees." So we're not going to lend these people money, but if they lose it, we're going to guarantee it. And this government certainly has done that in the past. How accountable, how appropriate, how affordable is that, I'd like to know.
In the very next line they state: "We will pursue the development of trading zones in British Columbia to encourage export-oriented industrial development." Mr. Speaker, words such as "trading zones" run fear right through the hearts of the people of my area, because that means that they are going to be deunionizing, that they are going to be eliminating the contracts that exist within those areas so that they are able to pay people minimum wages so they can compete with the export-oriented industrial development. That is not what we ought to be doing with our labour sector. There have been various interpretations on that, but the Premier himself stated that that's what he believes free trade zones to be.
The next line talks about the health care system, and the health care system here is, it says,"one-third of the provincial budget." In recent years we've heard the Minister of Health (Hon. ML Dueck), the Premier and the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Couvelier) stating over and over again that our health care costs are out of line, that they're out of touch, that they need to be controlled and that we have one-third of our budget, as if it is a huge amount, much more than any other province.
[ Page 3578 ]
The federal minister has himself indicated that this is not out of line with other health care costs. The Minister of Health contradicted the Minister of Finance when he said that. He said: "No, our health care costs aren't out of line. We are keeping them controlled." The fact is that our health care costs are not out of line; they are not out of control. One third of our provincial budget, which is a substantial amount, is being spent on health care, but it is not above what they spend on other areas.
When you hear the words that are spoken by those ministers, what is being done is that we are being set up to accept the user-fee concept and to accept the idea that there may be some cuts in health care, that we can't always expect the very utmost, that we shouldn't always expect a Cadillac service in this province. That is what those words are setting us up for, and that is totally unacceptable.
We in this province have a universal health care system. We have a health care system that is not comparable to any area. But we must protect this service. We must make sure that the idea of user fees is never acceptable, that the universality of our health care system is never challenged and that people in this province, regardless of where they live or how much money they have, always have the right to the same health care costs as other people — that everyone has the same rights in this province.
That is what I find very worrisome about the type of language, the type of rhetoric, coming from this government time after time. Do your studies. Find out that our health care costs are not out of line. Do not place the fear of God in people and make them feel that they have to accept less because we are totally out of control in our health care costs. We are not out of control.
The government has stated that they are implementing a new program and that it's going to be done with the Greater Victoria Hospital Society and the Capital Regional District. We have found that there has been no consultation on this. The minister is saying: "We can't consult because this is in the throne speech and that's all secretive." The throne speech may be secretive, but you can still consult; you can still get your ideas; you can still make people aware of what you're planning to do. Right now these people have no idea at all what they're doing. They have no idea or plan as to what's going on.
The senior citizens' centre that has been planned: nobody has any idea how it's going to be implemented, how many doctors they're going to have, where it's going to be, or what programs are going to be in this. Yet it is an innovative idea that they are bringing about. How are these things going to work? There has been no consultation within this government over the past year, and yet this is what this government was elected on — consultation.
They say here: "My government has made major improvements to the funding system for schools." I have a big question mark beside that, because there has been a little bit of a shell game there, taking out the Excellence in Education grants and shifting that into the school budgets, to the extent that school boards don't even know whether they are going to be better or worse off under this.
They mention they are going to be putting major money into the purchase of computers. That was what the Excellence in Education program was for — the purchase of computers. Again, it's a shell game. We have seen a shell game within the education system for so many years that nobody knows where the money is and nobody knows where it's going. But I do know that with regard to the Excellence in Education program, as of a month ago the ministry itself didn't know if this program was going to be continued. It did not know if there was going to be money in it. School districts didn't know if they were going to have money in that program for the purchase of computers. This is a shell game. We have not seen any increases in our education system. We have not seen our education system even keep up to the standards that we require.
Yet they say again that "the contribution made by our independent school system will be recognized." I am anticipating that once again we will see increases in the independent schools budget. It's an absolute sham, when you consider what has happened to our public school system, that at this time we should be increasing funding to independent schools when we haven't done so for our public school system.
They state here that "legislation to ensure reforestation of all harvested areas will be implemented." I find that interesting, because last year's throne speech says: "A sound reforestation policy continues to be a priority for my government. Working with the private sector, we will plant trees at a rate better than harvesting and losses due to natural causes like fire and infestation." This one says: "Legislation to ensure reforestation of all harvested areas will be implemented. Initiatives to double the amount of timber available for competitive sale and changes in the tenure system will be introduced."
We have not addressed any of the issues regarding reforestation. The moneys that this province got from the federal government that were to go into reforestation were not distributed according to the NSR. In the Prince George region we have the highest level of not satisfactorily restocked areas in this whole province, yet we did not receive the highest amount of money for reforestation to restock those lands that have been left for years and years.
Anyone out there in the ministry that you talk to will tell you that we are in a disaster with regard to our reforestation policy. We have neglected our forests for so long that there is a tremendous problem out there. It is going to cost us a tremendous amount of money now, because in the past we didn't do the job of getting those forests restocked so that we can continue our future. Yet we are not doing it; we haven't done it in the past. You say you're going to do it now and, by gosh,1, as well as the industry and, I'm sure, my colleague from Prince Rupert will be watching you to make sure that this government does achieve that goal. Because unless that goal is achieved, unless we restock those lands out there, we are in a disaster area with regard to our future in this province.
Mr. Speaker, at the very end it says: "If we continue to work together, we can make our great province shine with golden opportunities for all of our people." I think that's probably one of the truest statements in this thing. The problem is that this government has never worked with the people of this province. In fact, when I met with some gentlemen at noon today, they were telling me that they have spent $1 million taking this government to court on various issues. How is it working with the people of this province when the people that you represent are forced into taking you to court?
What happened with the latest decision the Premier made? They had to be taken to court. What happened over the one-day walkout, the insurrection, when the government
[ Page 3579 ]
brought down its famous bill? What happened then? The people had to take the government to court. The people had to take the government to court over the wolf kill. The people are constantly taking this government to court. How can you possibly.... ?
MS. CAMPBELL: It's job creation.
MRS. BOONE: Job creation for lawyers — exactly. How can you say: "If we continue to work together.... "? If we continue to work together, true, you will create many jobs for the lawyers in this province, but you are certainly not going to create the golden opportunity that most British Columbians are looking for.
The last thing is that they say "the best is yet to come." It's frightening.
MR. MICHAEL: I just want to make a couple of comments on the statement of the member for Prince George North. When she mentions the question of the Coquihalla and that $500 million disappeared.... I think that she should perhaps restrain herself somewhat from making wild statements such as that. Making wild statements like that does nothing but lose the opposition credibility, both as a political party and as individuals.
I would suggest that if she wants to zero in and criticize the provincial government, she could certainly criticize the government for deciding to fast-track the Coquihalla. That's a legitimate criticism. If the member would do her homework on the estimates, as a result of fast-tracking the extra cost to the taxpayers is probably in the vicinity of $15 million to $35 million. So if you want to criticize the government, criticize it for that.
We in the interior would be prepared to debate that with you if you wish, because although it did cost between $15 million and $35 million — taking a middle figure of $25 million — extra to fast-track the Coquihalla Highway I and 2,1 in particular, indeed we have had the advantage of the tolls that were collected in the system for the past two years, which amount to somewhere in the neighbourhood of $25 million. So it's sort of a break-even proposition, along with having had the use of the Coquihalla for that two-year period, saving many lives and looking after the surge of traffic during the famous 1986 Expo year.
So I would ask the member to perhaps contain herself when it comes to talking about $500 million disappearing, for certainly the $500 million did not disappear. It was all spent on the highway, contractors, employees, equipment, gasoline purchases, and tens of thousands of venues of employment as a result of that project.
Turning to the throne speech, I would like to compliment the government for the particular attention to agriculture in this speech. I'm very happy to see the mention of aquaculture and greenhouse production. I don't know how many members opposite or how many members in the House or people in the province of British Columbia realize the tremendous things that are going on in British Columbia in the field of both aquaculture and greenhouse production.
Indeed, a recent article in one of the daily papers talked about the volumes out of one organization alone in the Fraser Valley, the volumes that were being produced in the way of tomatoes, long English cucumbers and green peppers, with a vast amount being shipped down to California. I think it's good to see the provincial government providing incentives and encouragement to the people in these particular areas to increase their production, and indeed produce the quality produce that they are producing that will allow us to enter into the international marketplace. Indeed, California of all places — it's like selling sand to the Arabs. It's good to see that type of progress.
Also, the recent announcements of the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Savage) of the tremendous success of the kiwi fruit program in the Saanich Peninsula, and indeed the studies now going on to find out whether or not the production of ginseng will be a viable product for the province of British Columbia.... I know there is one area already in the Kamloops constituency where that is going on, and I'm sure that with a little bit of further research we'll find that there's a tremendous opportunity there for the Chinese market.
I'm also pleased with a particular section in the throne speech, dealing again with agriculture, where it says: "Legislation will protect farmers from frivolous nuisance legal actions that hinder their ability to operate intensive agricultural businesses within the agricultural land reserve." Long overdue, Mr. Speaker. Not a terribly big problem in my constituency, but nonetheless a problem. I certainly know it's a problem in the Fraser Valley, and I would be pleased to see that particular item brought in and cleared up, to make agricultural production more viable and less hassle for the farmers, who are indeed operating within the ALR.
Also, again in the area of agriculture, mention is made that legislation will be brought in to assist in providing farmers with new markets, and the availability and manufacturing of new products. All good stuff, good messages for our agricultural community.
Another mention in the speech is about horse-breeding and racing. I don't think there are many people in the province of British Columbia, particularly people living in urban areas, who realize what a tremendous industry horse breeding and horse-racing in the rural communities of British Columbia is to our province. I would suggest it's probably one of the larger agricultural industries. A tremendous number of people make their livelihood in horse-breeding and developing horses for the racing industry. A tremendous amount of dollars are spent in trading the purchase of food products, saddles, bridles, things like that. There are a tremendous number of jobs and it's a true employment generator, and I'm pleased to see it mentioned in the throne speech.
Regarding decentralization. I find it interesting that so many members opposite continually downplay the government's efforts there. I would have thought they'd all be joining with the government in encouraging the ministers of state to get on with bringing jobs from the lower mainland to the interior communities. where unemployment is higher than it is in the coastal area. I think that it makes sense. Whenever a small pocket of employees working for the provincial government can be taken from the lower mainland and transferred to interior communities. then it's good for all.
In going around the outlying areas of Vancouver, I notice that house-building is going on at a very rapid pace, municipalities are expanding, highways are becoming congested and bridges are becoming overloaded. Anything that can be done to slow down that rapid growth in the lower mainland and add that growth to the interior sections of the province has got to be good for all of us. The stronger those small communities are in British Columbia, the stronger the entire
[ Page 3580 ]
province will be. We know that the interior communities give strength to the lower mainland, because those dollars flow into the Vancouver-Victoria area.
There are a lot of positive things going on in the province that I thought should be mentioned. The most recent job creation statistics. It's gratifying and satisfying to see that 75,000 more people were working in February 1988 than in February 1987. Just as an aside, looking at the province of Manitoba, which we haven't heard too much about from members opposite for the last two weeks, growth there was an absolute zero — not a single job was created in the last 12 months in the province of Manitoba. There were 75,000 new jobs created in British Columbia.
These are certainly positive signs. When we tie that into what's going on in the area of migration, we find that in the past year 7,609 people came into British Columbia from other provinces, as compared to a loss in Manitoba of 3,097 people. For whatever reason, I'm not sure what it is, we have not heard too much about Manitoba from members opposite over the last couple of weeks.
There are some other positive things going on in the province that I'm sure we're aware of, but it's good to review them once in a while. Lumber and pulp production are at all-time highs. We have new pulp mills being built and expanded throughout the province. Newsprint production in 1987 was up 400,000 tonnes. We are nearing the ten- million — tonne mark. We will probably hit that target sometime during 1988. 1 think that's a real benchmark and indicative of the tremendous resource strength in British Columbia.
I noticed in an article in the daily paper just a short time ago that the international airport's passenger traffic in January 1988 was up 20 percent — another sign of the tremendous strength in the province of British Columbia.
Mineral prices are up; volume is up. It would appear that the price of coal has bottomed out, with volumes holding fairly well, with the future looking much brighter than it did just one or two short years ago.
House sales in 1987 were up 8.2 percent, and in British Columbia we had a 40 percent increase in house construction. That's quite dramatic and a sign of the strength of the economy.
[Mr. Pelton in the chair.]
Grain ports. Volume was up 17.4 percent as of February 14 this year, as compared with the same period last year.
There are similar growths in retail sales. They're talking of growth in retail sales in the coming year in the neighbourhood of 10 percent. Again, I think it shows the tremendous strength of British Columbia, not only in minerals, manufacturing and agriculture but also in retail sales.
High-tech industry. I have had the opportunity of touring a lot of plants over the last year and a half, and I am amazed at the strength and growth of high-tech industry in British Columbia. I noticed a recent article concerning MacDonald Dettwiler. They say that construction has begun in Richmond on a $16 million office, engineering and research facility for MacDonald Dettwiler. This is another sign of the diversification and strength we have in this province. That same firm, I should add, has just won a $4.6 million contract to supply products to Korea. I think our province is doing a good job. I think we can look forward to a good 1988. All of the indicators are that we are going to have a great 1988: the hotel occupancy is up; tourism traffic is up. All the signals are that we're heading for a great year in 1988.
I'd like to talk about just a few things that I will certainly be emphasizing in future debate, both in the budget debate and with the ministerial estimates. I will be taking the opportunity to talk about the city of Revelstoke, because I believe that the ski hill in Revelstoke has the potential, with some assistance from the provincial and perhaps the federal government, of turning into an international destination resort. I believe it could become the interior's international destination resort. We have, of course, the very famous resort on the coastal region of British Columbia. But I think the potential in Revelstoke is great, and I will be doing all I can to sell the provincial government on the concept of assisting Revelstoke in every possible way in that venture.
[Mr. Weisgerber in the chair.]
In the city of Armstrong we have the Interior Provincial Exhibition. I will be submitting to the Minister of Agriculture that that is B.C.'s biggest agricultural fair. And I will be arguing that perhaps the minister should be reviewing the grants given to the PNE in comparison to the IPE in Armstrong, because Armstrong only receives $10,000 from the provincial government, whereas the PNE receives $30,000, and I think a case can be made for parity in that grant program. I repeat that Armstrong has the biggest agricultural portion of any fair in the province of B.C.
I will also be pressing for the reintroduction of the natural gas line extension program. I think all those from rural communities could join in supporting more dollars going into extending these lines into rural communities. I think it's a tremendous program. It has tremendous spinoff effects; not only does it create jobs in the laying of the line and the construction of the line and the equipment and the workers, but it also leads to a tremendous amount of activity after the lines are laid, because all of the residents in the area immediately convert their oil furnaces to natural gas. We don't have to repeat this, Mr. Speaker, but perhaps just for the record, natural gas is not only a lot cheaper, much more reasonable to purchase than oil, but it's a 100 percent B.C. product. It's a clean fuel. It's low cost. We have long-term security because of the abundance that we have in our province. I'm a very strong fan and advocate of extending these services to the rural areas throughout the province of British Columbia.
I also should add at this time that mention is made in the throne speech about the question of bringing natural gas to Vancouver Island and looking for some federal participation.
I have read a great deal over the years about the natural gas line to Vancouver Island. I am a very strong supporter of that project. I think it's long overdue. I feel that British Columbia is owed by the federal government a couple of hundred million dollars in support of that natural gas line to Vancouver
Island. Indeed, we've been paying much more than that in the way of taxes on our fuel and energy and sending them back to
Ottawa. In view of what has been done in other areas, in eastern Canada, we in British Columbia are entitled to our fair share. I would hope that we will see in the next few months an announcement made by the federal government that they will make a positive commitment to British Columbia to bring natural gas to Vancouver Island. I might add, it's not just the residents that this assists; it assists industry. The energy in many industries is a very high-cost percentage of
[ Page 3581 ]
the overall business of doing business. If we could get natural gas to more communities, both on Vancouver Island and in the interior, that it would give the incentive for those industries to locate in those areas, thus creating growth and much needed jobs.
The real hidden factor of natural gas over other forms of energy is the cleanliness of the product, the fact that it burns pretty well 100 percent clean. We all know the problems we're having in our environment, and I believe that the quicker we can bring about expansion of natural gas, not only in our houses and in industry but also in our vehicles.... I would support a provincial program joining with the federal government in encouraging more vehicles to convert to natural gas. The more stations and vehicles that we can have in the province, the lower the cost of the product and the quicker we're going to see a high percentage of vehicles converting to natural gas rather than using an imported fuel from either other areas of Canada or offshore.
A number of good, positive things are happening in my constituency. There have been several new plants open in the past couple of years — good signs of growth, with some areas still on the soft side. That's why I repeat that if the ministers of state, through decentralization, could pay attention to those communities that are perhaps a little on the soft side when it comes to economic growth and job creation, and could look at activities and functions being done in the lower mainland that could be transferred to those interior communities that dearly need a little assistance, then it would be a program well worth the support of all members of the House.
That pretty well concludes my remarks, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to participating in the budget debate. I think it would be very timely during the budget debate to perhaps do some comparisons between what's going on in this great, exciting province of British Columbia and what's going on in the recently much-hailed province of Manitoba. I think there are some interesting comparisons that can be done between the two budgets to find out why the people in Manitoba are rejecting the only socialist government in any province in the Dominion of Canada and why we are looking forward in British Columbia to not only good, positive growth and a lot of exciting things but also in the not-too-distant future — hopefully — a balanced budget.
MS. MARZARI: In my address today about the throne speech, I want to talk not just about missed opportunities but about opportunities being shovelled off the back of a truck into a black hole. I want to talk about this government really missing the point about what pulling a province together should look like. The throne speech itself exemplifies the point that's been missed.
The throne speech is easy to read. An eight-year-old can go through this throne speech like: "See Dick run. See Jane jump." It's very simple. But I have to say that the throne speech, like government policies, contains nothing to connect clause to clause, nothing to connect political or economic with social programs to improve the lot of this province. Nothing between these isolated sentences brings us any closer to an understanding of how this government really intends to find the coherence, to find those things that pull a province together, that give it vision, that help those who need it.
This is a vacuous, puerile and disappointing Speech from the Throne. It's an embarrassing speech; it loses us opportunity. We might be inclined in this age of low-key, rational opposition and in this era of reasoned debate and responsible criticism to call the throne speech lacking in cogency and in relevance to the matters we have at hand. We could even stretch far enough in the language of stifled mediocrity to call it lacklustre, a word that's been used around here lately, spending — as my colleague from the Kootenays said — what little vigour it had in disastrously bashing federal-provincial relations.
Can I piece together for a few minutes those things that I think are missing from this speech, using as a frame of reference those areas in which I am critic of this government. I criticize this government — or I am the debate leader — for post-secondary education, B.C. Place, child care and women and their social service needs. a list of critic areas that I am sure this government sees no connection between.
But let me talk to you about these things. Let me talk to you first of all about those people who need help, individuals and businesses — not the large corporations, heaven knows, for it is the professed intention of this government to stay off the backs of big business. They don't need help, this government says — a promise that we know is the largest shell game of all, because while you're pretending to stay off the backs of big business, you're shelling out money into their pockets in the form of tax incentives or subsidies. But I must tell you that while you're shovelling money into the pockets of big business at an unprecedented rate. you're not doing them any favours.
You don't have a plan. You don't have a system of thinking that would really assist a five-year or a ten-year look into the future for our province. You don't have an appropriate dealing with the federal government. You've missed opportunities on the free trade arrangements. You've neglected to take care of those large industries which our province does do. You've neglected to take care of the fishing industry and the lumber industry.
In your plans for the economy and your giveaways to large business, you haven't insisted on paybacks. Your write-offs under the Enterprise Corporation are an indication of the number of loans that have gone sour in this province over the last ten years. There's no payback there, just debt which we are all going to have to swallow now as you privatize provincial land to make up for it.
We don't see any advancing or progressive plans for small business in this province. We see you running around the world and trying to bring back international capital. We see you, in this throne speech, playing with numbers so that you can say that the sun rises in the west. That's about as erroneous as the numbers that you use.
When you talk about the annual growth rate in employment in B.C. of 7.3 percent — better than Ontario, you are careful to point out — I ask you to remember back to last year when our youth unemployment rate was 27 percent. Ontario never had such a high youth unemployment rate. Ontario didn't start at that level of unemployment, and I ask why. Because Ontario, compared to us, has a stable economy. It's based on (1) a more stable foundation of labour-management relations and (2) the benefits of capital investment, which gravitates, needless to say, towards stability and not towards crackpotism, fanaticism or economic wrong-headedness cloaked in the robes of government front-benchers.
[ Page 3582 ]
Our economy is growing, granted, and you are very careful to point that out in a number of truncated sentences in this report. But our economy is profoundly subject to systemic fluctuations and imbalances in the body economic injected by government itself, imbalances in the infrastructure — for example, cutting back the provincial civil service to 20,000 people. Talk about imbalance! Talk about infrastructure decimation! Twenty thousand full-time people working in this province. I had to read that in the Globe and Mail. It didn't come out in the throne speech. We have to turn to the national press. What an embarrassment to find out that the goal of this government is to cut back the civil service to 20,000 people. I have to marvel at this magic number. The city of Vancouver at the present time runs its administration with 6,000 full-time people and 1,500 part-time people. It takes that many people to work for the city of Vancouver to keep its services strong, to keep its standards up to spec, to keep it running and to keep the city turning over. And we as a whole province are looking towards cutting back the permanent civil service to 20,000 people. Imbalance in infrastructure — I ask you.
We have a government-created imbalance in our labour/management relations. You have managed to do that with Bill 19 and the creation of the Industrial Relations Council.
We have managed to create imbalances in expenditure that make the mind boggle. Between the Coquihalla and the BCEC and the privatization program, not to mention the Expo debt, we have created megaprojects that are to the detriment of social and economic programs that would benefit real regions and real people. You care so much about the regions, and you have, in effect, stolen money from the regions over the last number of years by insisting on these megaprojects. This province needs to be rescued with a reconstruction operation that will start from the ground up and start with individuals.
Here I want to turn to the individuals, the people in this province that this government claims it's working for — not the corporations, not the large structures, not the megaprojects, not the faceless projects that you seem to favour, but what I thought the right wing of the political spectrum was there to protect. What do individuals want? What do the constituencies want? What do the constituencies that I represent in my critic areas want?
Women, for example, want to be treated as equals in our health system, our social services system, our economic system — in the marketplace, in the home, wherever they happen to be. They are a community of human capital that has been sold cheap by this province. They are a constituency which, while the federal government is spending much time and effort trying to please them, our provincial government referred to only once in its throne speech. Only once are women mentioned in this speech, and they are addressed as victims, as people facing unwanted pregnancies. And what are they going to get? They are going to get shelters. That deals with women, gentlemen. That is your concept of what this government has to offer. If they are not in a family — the family plan is somewhat spelled out here — they are just victims.
In the next paragraph on page 7 it takes seven pages before we bother to mention them we are told there are 3,000 British Columbia families that wish to adopt babies. This is in the sentence immediately after we promise shelters for women who don't want to have their babies. If you read these two sentences together.... To read that there will be shelters for women who don't want to have their babies — but they'll have them anyway — and then that 3,000 babies will be adopted by families who want them makes these shelters look an awful lot like baby farms. It's an economic commodity being churned out to a market. What a cheapening of the integrity of women as we proceed through this document! There's a connection in that one, and it's not a connection that I could be proud of, nor anyone I know.
I ask you then to look, if we're going through the business of looking at individuals, at child care, the care that children should and could be given in this province and that might make it easier, for example, for women to want pregnancies, to understand that bringing children into this province and this world is a worthwhile opportunity, in the sense that they could offer children something. What we have in this province is a promise that perhaps we will link into a federal program that is perhaps offering us 20,000 more licensed, safe child care spaces over seven years. That equals perhaps 100 centres. This is not enough. It is shooting very low indeed when we have 200,000 children in this province who.... In consultation with their parents and their communities, we could be asking: "What do you need as a family, or as a single parent? What do you need for child care? What is your agenda and what can we do to help?" None of that is going on. Although this throne speech offers assistance with child care, we see no indication that that is going to come to pass, because the federal government is shooting low as well.
Then the child progresses through school to a post-secondary institution. I want you to understand here that if you view the opportunity from the individual point of view rather than from the megaproject point of view, you can understand that the individual student remains beleaguered in this province. If you would understand that the opportunities exist for post-secondary education to be an economic megaproject, then you would start to understand that post-secondary education can be an economic generator, not a drain on the public purse; a clean industry that could be developed in each region to meet the demand of our young students in each region for training, upgrading and, most important, education, for opening their minds to possibilities that we have closed to them in the last ten years of restraint.
If we could understand that privatizing for the sake of privatizing is simply a bad ideology, because of the opportunities it forces us to throw out the window, we could look at post-secondary education in a different light. We are now privatizing. We are forcing community colleges to sell their high-demand courses to private contractors. We are forcing our community colleges to compete with 500 small private schools, many of which aren't properly supervised, many of which don't pay tax, and many of which don't operate with real provincial standards. We knee-cap our post-secondary institutions, our universities and community colleges. We are reducing their abilities to meet the needs of students, of faculties and of the administrations themselves, and we are giving up opportunities that trained and educated people could bring to this province — our own people creating our own human capital, creating our own economic base.
Privatization in general, as an ideology, is such a short-term cash gain for such long-term fiscal, economic and political pain that I must refer to it as another lost opportunity. We are throwing out the window the human equity that we have built up in this province over 40 or 50 years, equity that
[ Page 3583 ]
your own government, the old Social Credit populist government, built in this province as it built its dams and its highways. Now you can't seem to get out of gear. You can't get away from those mammoth growth projects. What you are doing is selling off the infrastructure. You're selling off what we've built, rather than making it work — on a smaller scale, perhaps — rather than taking it to the regions, and rather than seeing what we can do to diversify our products and to increase small business, which is where our future lies.
In social service terms, we have paved the way for privatizing, as well. We use a different language when we get to social services, and that language looks like not privatization per se but a long series of actions which, planned or unplanned, wreak havoc on the present system of social services we have. I ask you once again: who does this hurt? It hurts people; it hurts individuals. When we tear apart a social service structure and we take apart those systems that help the aged, the very young, the poor, women and the disabled, and when we push patients and the aged and children back into their homes, push women who might be in the workforce back into their homes, and deinstitutionalize patients and put them back into their homes, who is paying the ultimate price?
I would suggest to you that the price for all these cutbacks and plans is paid by women, most often. In fact, I would suggest that many of the patients, the old people, and the people in need, in poverty, are in fact women — that's before we even begin the discussion. So a heavy preponderance of this privatization and these cutbacks is on the backs of women, and you expect that to happen as a part of your natural law — your law from your side of the House.
So what does this privatization look like in social services? It looks like the deprofessionalization of certain services. Now we are getting rid of licensed practical nurses, by the looks of it. We are bringing in activity aides instead, who have three months' training, or we are bringing in long-term care workers who have three months' training. We are deprofessionalizing by trying to delicense physics — as was attempted last year and didn't succeed — or by downgrading the standards of massage therapists or by cutting them off medicare.
We are privatizing by downgrading, as I've said. We've downgraded training in child care. It used to be that a child care worker needed two years of training; now he or she needs only ten months. Somewhere a year and two months disappeared. Social Services workers are now being churned out in ten months, rather than two years, and we are replacing many positions, I gather, with a new type called activity aide, with three weeks' training. That's hardly what we might call an increase in standards.
Thirdly, we are encouraging a two-tier level of medical care. We are preventing AIDS victims from receiving necessary drugs by putting them into Pharmacare. We have cut out from Pharmacare calcium supplements for older women who are subject to osteoporosis. We are destandardizing monitoring procedures, around environment. We are reducing standards for group homes under the Attorney-General's department. Wherever I look, whenever I read an amendment to a statute when you bring in new bills, I look for destandardizing and de-emphasis on monitoring procedures and I find them. In every area I find that we are making public utilities and our environment less safe. We are protecting less and doing less to care for the individual.
We are also cutting back services with no rhyme or reason. Very often we don't even look at the budgets. I dare say that this government has never bothered to look at the programs and how they affect real people as they slash back on social services, because from an economic point of view it pays to keep the poor to a subsistence level. It pays because they spend their money in the communities. They don't send it out of the country: they don't put it in banks that invest elsewhere in the world. They spend the money in the communities.
We have cut back services to people who can least afford it — I can't understand why you don't understand this — knowing that, since they can't afford these services, they won't be able to act them and it will increase their poverty. And yet we do it anyway.
Finally, we sell off our properties. our equity, without due consideration for and assessment of the public benefit, except for the very, very short term. Your desperate desire to bring down the deficit is taking us into a situation where hundreds of millions of dollars might be forgone by not taking advantage of what we ve already learned over the years, and that is that the provincial government can be a good planner, can develop and service land. can sell off that land to local promoters and business people, and make a big profit.
You want to cut back the deficit in this year's books, and we say you will be creating a larger deficit that is going to take years and years and years to repay because it's not a visible deficit. It doesn't show up on the books; it shows up in terms of human beings not being properly educated, not being trained. It will show up on the books ultimately.
You supposedly are making the province safer for private enterprise with this throne speech, but I tell you that you're making this province unsafe for citizens: unsafe for them to drive on the highways: unsafe for them to live near mine tailings or, as my colleague from Port Alberni pointed out this morning, to live near pulp and paper mills; and unsafe for people to raise their children on welfare. You make it unsafe for all of us and ultimately, as you tear apart the administrative structures that private enterprise expects to provide with consistent rules, as you dismantle this, you make it unsafe even for the private sector.
You've lost opportunities with this speech. You've dished them away. You've lost money. And perhaps worst of all in this cycle, in this death spiral that you're taking us toward for the next two years — hopefully it doesn't last longer than that — you're losing us national and international respect. We are the laughing-stock of the country and we can't afford that, not for our people and not for the business of doing business for the people.
MR. BRUCE: Albeit that today is a little bit of a rainy, dreary day and I feel somewhat depressed, having a heard some of what was just said, I'll do my best to bring a little sunshine and good cheer to this great province of British Columbia in the comments that I have to make in respect to our throne speech.
MR. BRUCE: I'm glad to hear some life in this chamber; I think it's important.
Before I actually start talking about the throne speech, I think it's important that we understand and recognize the fact that the municipality of North Cowichan and the city of Duncan is the forestry capital of British Columbia. This is the first time that the province has had this designation. 1 think
[ Page 3584 ]
it's just absolutely wonderful that Cowichan-Malahat was chosen as the forestry capital for the province.
Certainly due to the many folks that live in our community, a lot of good things are going to be happening during the year, and hopefully all of you will have the opportunity to journey just up over the Malahat and take part in some of the many, many good things that make this economy of the province so vitalized and the economy of Canada so alive. The forest industry is what really fuels this economy, and I'm sure that people will come up and take part in that.
There are a number of good things touched on in the throne speech, and I'd just like to underscore a couple of them.
First, I'd like to talk about the community decisionmaking process. Many of us in this chamber have come from the municipal field and local government, and we understand the importance of strong local government and strong local participation. So when the throne speech acknowledges that there will be — and is today — a much greater role for local government to play, it's important that we understand that through local government input we can build a very strong economy and tremendous social benefits for our community, and that this government through its throne speech is recognizing how important local government is to every one of us.
Making the decision-making process accessible to the local government members is very important. As one member of a group that worked for a considerable amount of time on an economic forestry strategy for Vancouver Island, I know how important having a decentralization, regionalization process in place is. In fact, had we had the ministry of state process when all of the communities on Vancouver Island and all of the parties had agreed with our particular thrust, we would have been able to get that strategy for survival up and running in much quicker time than what it did take.
MR. RABBITT: That's leadership.
MR. BRUCE: It is leadership. It's recognizing that from the grass roots up, there can be many good things which can improve our lifestyles and certainly our economies. So it's important to recognize that the minister of state process — decentralization, regionalization, call it what you will — will facilitate many of those good ideas that come from the communities and give it the opportunity to see the light of day and bring it into place. I'm pleased that it's mentioned so prominently in the throne speech itself.
You combine the decentralization process with the committee that's working very hard drafting a White Paper dealing with the government's overall long-range economic and social objectives, and one can stand back and start to see the whole picture starting to unfold with much greater community participation than there's ever been in the history of this province, and much greater participation at the local government level, at the small business level, and in all sectors of our community. I think it's important that we recognize that.
The economic regional development agreement is mentioned as one that this government will be working hard negotiating with the federal government to restructure. I think it's important to look at the fundamental aspects of that agreement, and certainly the FRDA agreement which is a part of that. There is a need today, as there has been in the past — certainly more so now than ever before — for improved intensive forest management programs. Certainly that's what the FRDA component can offer to the province of British Columbia.
There is that need when one looks around the province and has the opportunity to travel to different areas. Certainly my good friend from the Cariboo can attest to the extensive stands of pine that have some 60,000 to 70,000 stems per hectare growing through natural regeneration. "Awesome," he says, and they are. It's incredible; through natural regeneration, no replanting is necessary. Mother Nature has looked after that; no fertilization necessary. Those stands are growing vigorously. But what it needs is some intensive applications.
I'm quite convinced that with the determination of this government, as mentioned through the throne speech, and with us all working together in a concerted effort, we can have that FRDA agreement renegotiated. By doing so we can enlarge upon the intensive forest management programs, which of course will improve the fibre supply for our mills and factories in our province and at the same time provide thousands of jobs for the people of the province of British Columbia — good, meaningful jobs.
When we talk about the negotiations with the federal government and FRDA agreements and the economic regional development agreements, it's also important that we cast an eye to the dollars already spent by governments — be they federal, provincial or municipal. All too often, governments forget to evaluate or re-evaluate programs they are currently involved with, and often all we do is add on rather than trying to reshape.
I think it's time that we as a country — particularly in our role here as a province as we deal with FRDA and ERDA — have a very good look at and evaluate the unemployment insurance contributions to see whether there is some other way that we can improve upon the delivery of those very important dollars to people who, in many instances through no fault of their own, have found themselves without work, and turn it into meaningful economic and social work for people who find themselves in the position of having to collect unemployment insurance.
I think it's important that in these negotiations and discussions we have with the federal government we look very closely at our unemployment insurance program, just to see whether or not we can't, through a more innovative way, utilize those dollars for the much greater benefit of the people, number one, who have to find themselves utilizing those dollars. By so doing, they could be in a position of creating wealth for the country and much better social benefits for themselves.
It's also important when we look at all of this that we move away from "programitis." In this country we really have got programitis: one program after another, whether it's the federal government.... And yes, once in a while we find it within our own provincial government. It is important that we move away from programitis and look at that, which we are doing, to make sure that there are long-lasting benefits, both economic and social.
I'd like to turn briefly to our health care system in the province of British Columbia. In the minds of many, of course, it is one of the best health systems one will find anywhere in the world. It need not be said, but we should continue to say it at any rate: it must be kept that way. This government, clearly, through the discussion in the throne
[ Page 3585 ]
speech is underscoring the fact that it's the intent that we will maintain, enhance and improve upon this, one of the best health care systems in the world.
It is important that we analyze the delivery of our systems. It's a system in itself that continues to grow and will continue to grow — all the more reason why we as a government should take the time to analyze the delivery of our health care systems, to see how we could be more effective and more efficient in the delivery of health care programs. The aspect of looking at a model of a community-based integrated delivery system has, I think, tremendous merit. I think it shows leadership by this government. We are prepared as a government to try some different things so that we can protect the integrity of our health care system and make sure that it is around here for many years to come.
It also makes me feel very good when I read in the throne speech the recognition of the special needs of our seniors in this province. The province of British Columbia has become a place where many are looking to come and retire because of the natural beauty, the climate and the social programs that we have, and because there's absolutely no place anywhere in the world as beautiful to live as British Columbia — absolutely no place.
When we look at our educational needs in this province, it's clear that there is a full commitment by this government. It's mentioned in the throne speech that there will be some additional $175 million in the budget for education. We as a government are continuing to underscore the importance of a good, vibrant, healthy public educational system. I don't have just some passing interest in the public educational system; I've got three children in the system. It's important that we support the system wherever we can — not only through the provincial realm, but through our local efforts.
I am particularly impressed with the little Crofton Elementary School. It's an excellent school under the leadership of our principal, Mr. Ken O'Connell, with the job that he's done and the job that the teachers in that school are doing. It's got tremendous teacher-student participation. Lots of parents, in a number of different activities that go on in the school, are there to help. This is really what makes a school strong: student, teacher and community participation. It's interesting to note the extra steps that the teachers in this school, anyway, are undertaking — and I'm sure in many of the schools throughout the province.
It comes back to the grade 5 socials course, in which there is one particular section dealing with forestry. As some of you may know, with my interest in forestry I'm glad to see that there is this type of curriculum presentation in the elementary school system. What the teacher did in this particular school, rather than just reading the textbook and presenting the facts in some static, boring form is this. She devised a full range of debate about the forestry industry, and in particular on a section of land, whether it should be logged or saved — or was there something in between that could be done? She had a number of speakers into the school, as I understand, and then divided the class into two groups. One was to argue that the area of land should be logged. One was to argue that a certain area of the land should be kept.
The point was that at the end of the debate, of course, the class would vote on whether the land could be logged or not. It was interesting that she split the class up, and of course, at that time the majority of the students all wanted to be on that section which said: "Save the land. Save the forest." Keep in mind that here you are in this little community of Crofton, which has a huge pulp and paper operation, and all around is the logging industry, and the majority of the students' parents work directly within the forestry sector. If they're not directly in the forestry sector, they are certainly affected indirectly. So it was quite interesting when my daughter came home and we talked about this whole debate about whether this area should be logged.
I started to point out that in a planned, intensive forestry management program you indeed could have both: you indeed could save one section for park purposes and at the same time have another section that would be allowed for logging, which would help to fuel the economy and those operations within our community.
It was quite interesting that this teacher went this extra mile, as I say, in bringing this whole debate to the focus of the children. They then started getting pickets and placards, and they marched around the school and had a great debate that afternoon about whether they could log the area or whether they should save it. In the end. they agreed that there was an integrated-use approach that could be managed, which would allow for an area to be saved and an area to be used for harvest.
It was an excellent program within our educational system, showing determination, showing the commitment of many of the teachers within School District 65 and really reflecting what we find throughout the province of British Columbia. I was very pleased to see that type of commitment.
We're blessed in Cowichan-Malahat with having two school districts — 65 and 66. School District 66 in the Lake Cowichan area is one of the smaller districts, but it's very innovative in how it applies itself to the educational needs of the children in that area. I really have to hand it to the school board in district 66 for the manner in which they look after the educational needs of the children of Lake Cowichan.
So there is a strong commitment. As one can see within the throne speech here, there's a strong commitment by this government not only to protect but to improve and enhance the public education system in the province of British Columbia — and I'm all too happy to see that that's going to happen.
Localizing things just a little more — again, I think I can speak for the people of Cowichan-Malahat and indeed for many who live on Vancouver Island — there is happiness in seeing that the Island Highway is mentioned once again and that there will be preliminary funding for the development of the Island Highway. Of course, one knows already that work began last year, with the four-laning of Tunnel Hill, which has certainly provided the people of the Shawnigan Lake-Mill Bay area and their local MLA an opportunity to drive down here in much greater safety, and always on that drive to be able to enjoy the great view of this province and of the constituency of Cowichan-Malahat.
It's important that we understand that the Island Highway project is ongoing. You know it's ongoing, and I know it's ongoing. We announced initially that it would be a ten-year program, and we've started on that. The study has been done, as has much of the planning of where the routing will go.
With the development of the Vancouver Island Highway, of course, we will greatly strengthen and improve the Vancouver Island economy. It's important that we concentrate on that. Right now, when one gets north of the Parksville area, much of the trade and commerce actually goes mainland; it goes from northern Vancouver Island to the mainland. If we can improve the linkage, the transportation routes — as I
[ Page 3586 ]
know we will — between the northern part of Vancouver Island and the southern and central parts, we will improve the trade and commerce of Vancouver Island itself.
It might be interesting to note — people probably don't know this — that 40 percent of the gate at the Mt. Washington ski resort comes from the greater Victoria area. That's an incredible number of people driving up and down that highway during ski season, which greatly impacts the economy of Courtenay-Comox and the North Island constituency and also impacts tremendously the people who drive up and down that highway. There's 40 percent. Just think of the difference, with the improvement of that Island Highway, when it now takes people, like my colleague from Saanich, three and a half to four hours to make the journey from Victoria to the top of the ski hill.
If you're not an avid skier, obviously you're not going to take advantage of that tremendous opportunity to go skiing all the time. However, if you're able to cut an hour off that time, certainly many more people in the Greater Victoria Regional District are going to journey up-Island. If they'll journey up-Island to go skiing, they'll journey up-Island to take part in a number of other activities that are there. When one looks at the central and northern parts of Vancouver Island and what's going on there, you can see that the opportunities are limitless. Certainly the people from the southern part, the Victoria area, will take full advantage and come up into the central Vancouver Island region and the northern region.
So it is important that it continues to be mentioned in the throne speech and that work continues to be undertaken in respect to the development of the Island Highway. It's important to all of us on Vancouver Island; it's important to the people of Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Zeballos, Gold River and Campbell River. It's important for the social benefits, and it's important for the economic benefits. I'm glad to see that this government is continuing to live up to its commitment in the throne speech to the long-term, short-term and medium-term development of the Vancouver Island highway.
MR. LOVICK: This isn't going to sell in Duncan, you know.
MR. BRUCE: You'll get your turn.
I think the other thing we have to look at, of course, in our transportation networks.... Again, I'm going to talk about Vancouver Island, because Vancouver Island has a very special place in my heart, in case you hadn't detected that. Certainly it's got such tremendous potential for the development of the tourist industry in the province and in Canada. I know my colleague from Nanaimo will agree with me wholeheartedly when 1 make that comment. We can see and understand the growth factor in the tourist industry and how Vancouver Island can be such a major force.
But it's important that we recognize, when we talk about tourism and other economic development initiatives on Vancouver Island, other transportation corridors. Just think, casting your eyes and your thoughts around here, about there being an improved link between Lake Cowichan and Port Alberni — a transportation corridor. And if that then went on up into the Courtenay-Comox area, look at the impact you would have.
MR. RABBITT: Foresight.
AN HON. MEMBER: Leadership.
MR. BRUCE: It's foresight, it's planning for the future and yes, indeed, it is leadership. Just think what it would do. Obviously, it would have a direct effect on the community of Lake Cowichan, and we would love to help the people in Lake Cowichan. It would provide jobs, it would provide economic opportunity, and it would provide social benefits and tourism development. It would be great for the community of Lake Cowichan.
But the same thing could be said for Port Alberni, couldn't it? Because obviously the road is going to go into Port Alberni and vice versa. It's going to affect the community of Port Alberni: social benefits; economic benefits; growth; good, solid development; tourism opportunities. Great! As you expanded that, it would obviously have a direct effect on Courtenay and Comox. A great idea! As you said, leadership, visionary. It's great stuff.
But it's also going to have an impact on the communities of Qualicum and Parksville...
MR.BRUCE:...and yes, my good friend, it's going to have an impact on the city of Nanaimo as well — good things. But somebody has to be working for Nanaimo, and I will do what I can.
Actually, as one comes down the highway, of course, it would impact on Ladysmith. That's also part of the Nanaimo riding, and I won't forget the people of Ladysmith. It will also impact on that great little community,"The Little Town That Did." It'll help that little town of Chemainus, the city of Duncan and the community of North Cowichan.
So what have we done by planning those routes properly? We've improved the economic activity, the social activity, and tourism development for our whole community. It's good stuff. It's foresight, and it's something that we all have to continue to work on in this development of the great central Vancouver Island area. I will continue to do that to help all the people on Vancouver Island.
I would just like to touch on a few of the environmental issues mentioned in the throne speech. I think there are some really encouraging items in there. I am particularly pleased to talk about the recycling aspects mentioned in the throne speech. It's something that we have got to concentrate on. I know the opposition are all in favour of this, and I'm sure that they will stand in their place and speak about the need for recycling and how pleased they are to be able to see that it's mentioned in the throne speech.
Recycling goes back with me a long, long time — not that I've been recycled, but the whole need for recycling. My mother used to be one of the first to recycle, and down in the basement we had box after box after box. You had a box for your tin cans, a box for your glass and a box for the newspapers. Then you would bundle it all up. We used to get a full basement load, and you would put it in the truck and bring it down here to the recycling depot in Victoria.
MR. LONG: Giving jobs.
MR. BRUCE: Yes. I think it is important that this government has mentioned in this throne speech that it intends to move ahead with recycling initiatives. Hopefully, with the couple of models that are going to be put in place, we'll see
[ Page 3587 ]
the success of it and be able to expand it to a great many other municipalities, cities and villages throughout this province. Many of us know that there are those who have tried for many years to build in proper recycling projects. I'm quite hopeful that this will be the leading edge. I think it will be very good. I'll be interested to hear the members of the opposition speak in glowing terms about the throne speech's references to recycling.
It's important that we look after our environment. Everyone is agreed that we look after our environment and how important our environment is to us. It's also important that when we talk about the environment we're not afraid to talk about those issues that cause us some problems and great concerns. In my area, the issue of dioxins is one which causes considerable concern. Likewise, I'm sure, it causes concern for the member for the riding to the north of me, my colleague from Nanaimo.
We had a meeting in the community of Crofton. I called the meeting and brought Ministry of Environment representatives to the community so that we could talk about the dioxin issue and so that they could let the people in the community know what the Ministry of Environment knew about dioxins, what it didn't know about dioxins and what it was doing to try to find out about the dioxin issue. It was interesting how much the people appreciated that. We set it up on the basis of a drop-in workshop where we thought that we'd be lucky if 15 to 20 people an hour would come by, because although it's a concern that many people have raised, it wasn't one that was ringing the telephone off the hook in my office, nor bringing a tremendous number of letters. But I wanted to do it anyway, because I wanted the people to know the information that we had about what was going on in the whole dioxin issue. I was extremely pleased that in fact over 200 people showed up from 4 o'clock to 7 o'clock in the evening to talk about the dioxin issue and to talk about the aspects of the environment in the community of Crofton — the effluent discharge, air emissions and so on — not to hide behind the rock and not to be afraid to face up to some of these environmental issues which are extremely important.
Of course, not too long after, by coincidence only, BCFP announced improvements to that particular operation of some $238 million, of which a major portion will go a long way to improving and reducing the effluent discharge, the air emissions and certainly the sulphur smell that is associated with pulp mills. I was pleased to hear that. There are still more things that need to be done in that respect as we look at some of the environmental concerns that face our province. But it's important that we continue to strive to strike a balance with the economic activity, at the same time maintaining and preserving a healthy environment.
I'm also pleased at the direction this government is taking in regard to Strathcona Park, another major asset not only to the people of Vancouver Island but indeed to the people of the province. There will be a public hearing process where people can have the input to deal with the items in Strathcona Park and the long-term planning of it. I think that's showing full and complete public participation, and I'm encouraging everybody that I can in my area to make sure they take part in that hearing process.
I'm also hopeful that during the next little while, and certainly in the constituency of Cowichan-Malahat, we might be able to put together a couple of what I consider pretty interesting and exciting environmental projects. There is a group that's working very hard putting together a wildlife viewing area for the Roosevelt elk. Just whether or not we can get all the competing demands of that area to agree that this is a good spot for the wildlife viewing area of Roosevelt elk.... As I understand it. it would be the first one in the province of British Columbia to be established. I'm going to work like the dickens for all the people of Cowichan-Malahat and the province of British Columbia to see that we establish the first one in the Cowichan-Malahat area so that you can come up and see firsthand those great Roosevelt elk that roam the fields and the forests up there.
Also, as one drives through the Cowichan Valley, you'll notice the beautiful Somenos Flats.
MR. WILLIAMS: I remember it well.
MR. BRUCE: You remember it well, the beautiful Somenos Flats. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to put together there a waterfall interpretive centre, one that will really be the envy of the province and certainly of the country.
MR. WILLIAMS: Water-fowl.
MR. BRUCE: Waterfowl. Thank you very much. I'm glad you were listening.
Also, of course, I will continue to do what I can to assist in seeing that the Botanical Beach upland park area is reserved. Quiet negotiations are going on there, and I'm hopeful, with the proper mediation and proper interest that's been expressed, both by those who own the land and by the province of British Columbia, we'll be able to draw together a successful conclusion to that particular negotiation.
There are many things I'd like to mention, and I don't know where the time went — it certainly flew by — but I am certainly very pleased to be able to take part in this opportunity to debate this throne speech, and I know that you'll agree that there are many good things.
MR. GUNO: I am pleased to take part in this debate on the throne speech, and I must say that I was quite interested to listen to the last speaker's rather effusive support of the throne speech. I dare say that it bordered on the orgiastic. However, my speech will ~e less provocative.
Mr. Speaker. 1 want to talk a bit about the relevance of the throne speech to the people in small remote communities that I represent in Atlin. This throne speech, as I understand it, purports to outline the government's plans for the next session, and I can't really say enough about this particular throne speech. How does one respond to such a speech, which is Iona on rhetoric and very short on substantive agenda for British Columbians to consider?
So I want to put it in this perspective. Just shortly after we adjourned following the throne speech, I left to visit a small remote community on the north coast, a community called Kincolith. Now the way for me to get there, of course, is to fly up to Terrace from Vancouver. and it's about a two-hour drive from Terrace to New Aiyansh, where I spent the night. In order to get the tide, I had to leave very early the next morning and it was an hour's drive to Greenville and from there I took a small speedboat — a small punt actually — to Kincolith. It was about an hour's ride in fairly inclement and cold weather. This was in contrast to the visit of the Minister of Highways (Hon. Mr. Rogers) in Kincolith a week earlier; he came in by helicopter and had the convenience of having it wait while he visited for a couple of hours.
[ Page 3588 ]
MR. GUNO: I think it was sunny.
The more interesting contrast, Mr. Speaker, is in comparing the rather empty rhetoric of the throne speech with the reality of a people struggling, sometimes against great odds, to live with some dignity.
These are people who have a great faith in God, but I must say have very little in a government which will not recognize that they exist as a people with particular rights. These are people who struggle daily against the elements to eke out a living to support themselves. These are people who witness, in silent impotence, the despair of their young, who really have very little to hope for.
It's a community where 90 percent unemployment is the norm, and you contrast this to the government's breezy "the best is yet to come" line in the throne speech. These are people who are not asking for very much, only an opportunity to break out of the cycle of dependency; who only want to retain their sense of identity, their sense of dignity, and a right that's accorded to all free people, a right to self-determination.
MR. WILLIAMS: Remember the Premier went to Kingcome Inlet at the beginning of the last election?
MR. GUNO: Yes, we remember that very well.
You contrast this with this government's absolute silence on the subject of native issues in the throne speech — a reflection, perhaps, of the Premier's attitude towards the native people in dismissing their aspirations for self-determination as a pig in a poke.
Mr. Speaker, I paint these contrasting vistas really to illustrate a point, and that is the complete lack of compassion on the part of this government which is so clearly evident in the throne speech; a government which would try to bamboozle people with self-aggrandizing rhetoric, which provides British Columbia with little in the way of direction.
Mention has been made of the highway to Kincolith, for instance. These people have been waiting for several years, since the past Minister of Highways made the commitment that the provincial government would do all they could to make that connection between Greenville and Kincolith.
I'm disappointed that very little in the throne speech addressed the particular needs of people in the north — in areas such as education, for instance. In the small town of Atlin the few property owners carry a disproportionate burden in terms of school taxes to meet some of the very essential educational needs in that community.
There's very little in the throne speech about the particular needs of the north in terms of mental health. In Cassiar the people have had to depend on the goodwill of the Yukon government in supplying the only mental health worker they can take advantage of.
In terms of social services it's completely inadequate to meet the higher cost of living in the north. It's been said that a society is measured by how well it protects the interests of the least protected. I would suggest that by that measure this government has failed. Instead, the throne speech hints at further assaults on the poor.
If we were to use the measure this government likes to use — that is, are they good managers? — I would suggest that even a cursory examination of their record shows the answer must be no, they are not. Our leader, in his terrific speech the other day, outlined the incredible trail of mismanagement by successive Social Credit governments.
[Mr. Pelton in the chair.]
The throne speech does not contain anything that would give the majority of British Columbians hope for a better future. It's full of puffery. If only clichéés and boasts were somehow negotiable, had some kind of currency, we would be rich beyond our wildest dreams, to use an old saw, because the throne speech is simply full of it.
MR. WILLIAMS: Literally.
MR. GUNO: Literally. Just think how far we could go with a line like: "Economically and historically the sun is now rising in the west." The prospect is mind-numbing. All of this would be funny, were it not for the fact that living, breathing people are suffering as a result of this government's incompetence and indifference.
This government cannot claim immunity just because there has been a change of leadership or a change of players. Many of the old players are sitting on the side of the government. It's the same group of people, whose only agenda is to protect the privileged; the same incompetent crew, who have little regard for the future and whose main preoccupation is to perpetuate the unfairness. It is a party that I think Joseph Conrad had in mind when he wrote the line: "Smash and grab, men without theory." This is a party of instant gratification.
To turn to more specific areas in my role as critic, I'm disappointed that little mention was made in the throne speech of developing new regulations in the field of aquaculture. I recently took a trip, along with my colleague from Surrey-Guildford-Whalley, to the Sunshine Coast to take a look at this particular industry. I'm happy to say that we had an opportunity to meet with industry representatives, local government officials, environmentalists and ordinary citizens. We were able to visit three fish-farms throughout the Sunshine Coast. I must say that I'm impressed with the tremendous economic impact this particular new industry is having on these small coastal communities. But there are great concerns with the fact that there has been little done by this provincial government to assess the impact of the proliferation of fish-farms in the area. While it's a new industry with exciting possibilities, there are real concerns about the environmental impact of these farms on the local ecosystem. There are concerns by commercial fishing interests that the wild stock is being threatened by the fact that these fish-farms are placed without any regulation as to spacing or density in areas where wild fish stocks migrate. There has been little done to resolve the conflicting use of the foreshores.
Again the government has failed to provide leadership in this vital industry. It is in the interests of the industry, and certainly supported by many of the industry spokesman, that there be a larger presence of government in this field to undertake the much needed study, so that we can establish a data base on which we can develop realistic regulations so that there is an orderly development of this vital industry. There was very little in the way of direction on this matter in the throne speech.
In terms of mining, the throne speech refers to the government's intention to examine and review the tax structure of
[ Page 3589 ]
the mineral industry to ensure that our province remains competitive. It's certainly time for such a review, but it must be a comprehensive one, one that would not just contemplate, as this government does, the need for financial quick fixes.
The throne speech also refers to the government's intention to encourage industry participation in the management and development of British Columbia's mineral, petroleum and natural gas resources. Given the recent announcement that the ministry will be split up, it is evident that the government is abdicating roles that even the industry thinks government should play in research and development. In May 1987 the federal government released a document which called for a number of things, including support for the industry as a foundation of regional economic development. In a riding like Atlin, it's absolutely vital that we emphasize this particular kind of goal.
Another recommendation of this report is the promotion of improved technological performance and international competitiveness by the industry. It also calls for assistance for workers and communities affected by structural changes in the industry. It calls for enhancement of mineral and metal exports and access to new and traditional markets. Again, it's evident by the recent move by the ministry that they are abdicating such a role. Finally, it calls for the provision of economic, technical and scientific information required by the industry, by government, by labour and by the general public. These particular items have been supported by both the federal and provincial mining associations for "a flexible and supportive role in our alliance with government with respect to the mining industry."
It goes beyond the province's simple financial solution to all of the industry's problems and recognizes the role that government can play in helping to support and develop the mineral industry at the same time that it profits from the taxes it collects. Again, I must emphasize that there was very little in the way of direction to be found in the throne speech relating to this vital matter. Given the recent changes in the ministry, it seems that the province is planning to abdicate its role in all areas except policy-making and revenue collection.
I just want to turn briefly to the rather unabashed fed bashing that was in the throne speech. It was quite transparent. I don't think that anyone is fooled by this clumsy effort on the part of the government to create some kind of smokescreen to hide the dismal performance of the last 18 months. I come from a fishing family, and I have worked as a fisherman, and I remember the saying that talking tough is cheap. What British Columbians want from the provincial government in dealing with the federal government is maturity and competence.
The recent GATT ruling on fish-processing on the west coast is a case in point, in terms of the incompetence and indifference of this government about protecting the interests of British Columbians.
Today during question period, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (Hon. Mr. Savage) refused to respond to questions about the provincial government's reaction to the news that the feds have thrown in the towel about the GATT ruling against our fishing export policies. Here we have a situation in which several thousand B.C. jobs are at stake, yet the minister demonstrates very little sense of urgency. This government talks tough, but they are pussycats when it comes to protecting the interests of British Columbians. They have been uncritical supporters of the Mulroney free trade and the
Meech Lake accord, yet they have not been able to exact concessions that would benefit British Columbians.
It's evident that the reason for the unabashed fed-bashing in the throne speech is really to hide the dismal record of this government in the last 18 months. It has been extremely disturbing to see this government ride roughshod over the democratic rights of our citizens. The government has failed to recognize that we live in a pluralistic society, and that British Columbians want a government of choice and reflection — not a government that is driven by accident and force.
So on that basis, Mr. Speaker, I can't support the throne speech. It is simply inadequate in terms of providing British Columbians the means to gauge the performance of this government and certainly does not provide a vision which we can support.
MR. DIRKS: Mr. Speaker. it is with pleasure that I rise in this House today to speak in favour of the Speech from the Throne. It is but a short year since I rose in this House to speak on the previous Speech from the Throne and make my maiden speech. Although it has been a short year, many things have occurred of great importance to the great constituency of Nelson-Creston.
This has been a year of learning for me: getting to know my constituents better, getting to know my colleagues in this House better, and certainly getting to know better how this House functions.
The British parliamentary system of government as adapted to our province and this House is steeped in tradition and custom. It is an institution that is very complex in some respects, yet is basically simple. Was truly a great institution, but poorly understood by the vast majority of the general public. It is for this reason that I am appalled at the lacklustre and shallow debate emanating from Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. Too much of their debate has been repetitive and incomplete and based on limited research or no research at all — full of sound and fury, like that emanating from my hon. colleague across, but signifying nothing.
I'm sorry to see that the second member for Vancouver East (Mr. Clark) is not in the House this afternoon. He spoke the other day, with seemingly great authority, on matters in the Kootenays, namely the sale of West Kootenay Power and Light.
MR. WILLIAMS: Are you proud of that?
MR. DIRKS: Has that member or the member who seems to be sitting opposite now studied the very impressive and ambitious five-year capital program of that company? Has that member studied their proposal for a gas thermal plant in the Okanagan? Has that member ever met with the management of West Kootenay Power and Light or toured their facilities? I think not. For that matter, I would question whether the hon. member has really spent any time in the Kootenays. But as a smooth-talking young city slicker from the lower mainland, he clothes himself in righteousness and is perceived by the unknowing public as the bearer of the truth, and the whole truth.
This chamber is really the stage for the opposition to strut their stuff. but led by their ho-hum "moving right along now" leader, their questions and debates have too often been based on lower mainland media research and sensationalism. The hon. Leader of the Opposition stated in his speech in this
[ Page 3590 ]
House the other day: "British Columbians do not want government to usurp more power from their communities and regions or to substitute decisions made in ministers' offices for the deliberations of their own representatives." What is he talking about? I don't think he understands.
Is he really saying that the people of British Columbia do not want to participate in the planning process of our great province? Is this the opposition's proposal for decentralization — decisions made in the ministers' offices without the deliberation of the local representatives? Is this how they would propose to govern this great province? This is certainly what the opposition leader believes this province wants. That is not what this government has promised; our government promised an open and consultative government.
I would like to say that in the past year we have seen the labour legislation review, the Liquor Policy Review Committee, Project Pride, the library task force, the Gaming Commission, the Royal Commission on Education, the Islands Trust review, the Select Standing Committee on Forests and Lands and its public hearings on timber-harvesting contracts, the tour of the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy, the meetings of cabinet in various localities throughout the province and the various caucus visits. Never has a government of British Columbia sought out the input of its constituents more than the present government. The opportunity for the general public to meet with and speak to government has never been as great. The Premier and all the cabinet ministers have been accessible, not only to the elected officials but to the general public as well.
The great spirit of open government interfacing with the people of this great province moved into a new and hitherto uncharted area with the government's announcement last fall of the regionalization initiative. This is a bold new planning process, a process that involves people in the regions taking inventory of their human resources, their man-made resources, their natural resources; looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the region as only residents of that region can; and then making recommendations as to what provincial government action is needed to encourage economic diversification.
Local people representing municipal and regional governments, chambers of commerce, Indian bands, various economic sectors, MLAs, Members of Parliament and hopefully organized labour.... I say "hopefully," since the B.C. Federation of Labour has been requested to appoint four members to the regional planning groups, local people picked by their peers to plan the future of their area.
Although 1 hesitate to say this for fear that I will start a bidding war, I believe that we in the Kootenay region were favoured over other regions when it came to the appointment of a minister of state. Our minister, although from one of those more densely populated areas of the lower mainland, has gained the respect and admiration of my constituents and, indeed, the constituents of the entire Kootenay region by her very approachable manner and personality and her willingness to put in long, arduous days to meet the people in every corner of the region. She has met with people in 16 of the 23 communities in the region; she's truly a hard-working minister. This is just the start of a new process.
MR. S.D. SMITH: How do they like her in the Kootenay constituency?
MR. DIRKS: They love her, but it's based on a knowledge of her, not on sitting back like the armchair quarterbacks like we see across the way making comments on things they know nothing about.
This is a process that will be further developed by the people of the region for the people of the region — not another level of bureaucracy but rather people of the region planning the future of the region. This process will continue this year.
I am equally pleased that the process that was started in the regions last fall will be implemented provincewide: a long-term strategic plan for our province, a draft White Paper outlining strategy in abroad range of areas and based on input from a variety of sources, then critiqued by the people of this great province. This is truly a great step towards a government interacting with its people.
My intent today was to zero in on the great constituency of Nelson-Creston and tell you, Mr. Speaker, and this House how my area will be positively impacted by this throne speech.
The enhancement of trade with the Pacific Rim and the enhancement of trading relations with our great trading partner to the south through free trade will certainly benefit my riding. A large percentage of our local mill production is destined for either the Japanese or the American market.
Resource extraction, both forest and mineral, is extremely important to the economic generators in my area. It is encouraging to note that this government will examine and review the tax structure in the mineral industry to ensure that our province remains competitive. Continued investment in exploration is vital if the industry is to continue to flourish. I am pleased to tell this House that the work orders issued by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources for district 5 were 288 last year. Fifteen percent of the work orders issued in this province were in district 5. These work orders resulted in millions of dollars being spent in labour and supplies in our area, in an industry that is certainly helping to bring my area out of the recession of the early eighties.
Last year was a very active year in the West Kootenays in mineral exploration. This year promises to be even greater. Therefore I would encourage the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (Hon. Mr. Davis) to have his ministry fast-track seeking a replacement for Mr. George Addie, the district geologist who retired last month. We are fast moving into a period of time when the district geologist is desperately needed and is so vital to the prospectors of my area. This is an industry that must not only survive but must be encouraged, and I am pleased to see the initiatives mentioned in this speech.
I am also pleased to see proposed action in the forestry sector. The reforestation of NSR lands in my constituency would not only create jobs in planting and thinning but also ensure the supply of adequate timber for jobs in the future.
The prospect of doubling the amount of timber available for competitive sales and changes in the tenure system will, I'm sure, be welcomed by the small mill operators and independent dent loggers of my area.
The Nelson and Arrow Lakes forest districts have numerous small mill operators who often incur additional logging expenses while logging in exceptionally sensitive watershed areas. I would ask the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Parker) to review their situation with respect to the new stumpage rates.
[ Page 3591 ]
MR. WILLIAMS: Do you want to deal with Westar?
MR. DIRKS: I said small, Mr. Member.
The continuous effort to reduce tariff barriers in the wood products sector will be welcomed by my shake-and-shingle mills.
I applaud this government's initiative to further enhance forestry research, but with one small caveat. The Nelson forest region could certainly benefit from forestry research, and initiatives in this area by our provincial government might well be the catalyst needed to spur the federal government to a similar action in our area. The Speech from the Throne indicates that government will seek ways to ensure that more federal dollars are spent in British Columbia. The forestry research in my riding might be the ready vehicle to encourage this process.
My recent tour of the provincial Ministry of Forests research station at Mesachie Lake was truly an educational experience. Too few people, especially in my area of the interior, are aware of the calibre of work being carried out in an effort to improve the reforestation stock for this province. To my colleagues on both sides of this House, I would most heartily recommend a visit to this research station. Again, I applaud this government's initiative to further enhance forestry research.
Because of the valiant fight by the historical society of Kaslo to preserve the great paddle-wheeler Moyie, we have the last of the great paddle-wheelers to ply the Kootenay Lake. On behalf of the societies in Creston and Salmo who are trying to preserve remnants of the old Dewdney Trail, the society trying to preserve the remains of the old, once bustling mining centre of Sandon, your initiatives for heritage preservation are applauded.
The most important aspects of this Speech from the Throne deal with the health, welfare and education of our people. These aspects affect not only the present-day life of all my constituents but also their future. The increase in school district shared operating budgets, the proposal to bring more computers into the classroom, the tangible aid through the Passport to Education program, the provision of increased post-secondary support, and improvements in financial assistance to students are all welcomed and will benefit my constituents.
I believe that too often we in British Columbia take our health care system for granted. We do enjoy one of the world's finest health care systems, without a doubt. If we are to continue to enjoy this benefit, we as citizens will have to ensure that the system is not misused, and the government will have to continue to seek new and innovative ways of delivering that health care system within our capacity to pay.
I am especially pleased to hear about the pilot project that will focus on new strategies, new techniques and new ways of delivering health care, particularly to the senior citizens through a community-based integrated delivery system. I have several communities that are actively promoted as retirement centres. This pilot project will certainly be of interest to them as it unfolds.
Last year was truly a great year: a fresh start, a year of open and consultative government. This Speech from the Throne indicates that this government will continue that process that was started last year. It promises new horizons of greatness for this great province. Therefore I am pleased to support it.
MR. STUPICH: I rise to take my place in this debate on the opening speech. I'd like to refer to some of the points that I've highlighted in the speech. The first one is right on the front page and is one of the prime points, I suppose, from the point of view of the government. It must be to be right in the front. It talks about the government's goals. "These goals are to eliminate the deficit and build a stable province that provides social and economic security for all British Columbians."
In the first place, I think we should remember that it was the Social Credit administration under W.R. Bennett that reinvented an operating accounts deficit in British Columbia. It was something we hadn't had for a long time. Secondly, there are a lot of people in British Columbia today who would not say that the prime goal of the province should be to eliminate the deficit.
1 don't know other communities as well as I know Nanaimo, but I know that in Nanaimo we have a soup-kitchen run by the interchurch group. They serve lunches. We have a food bank, as I know many communities do. I heard the Hon. Minister of Social Services and Housing (Hon. Mr. Richmond) speaking earlier today, and he said that they have an unacceptably high rate of unemployment rate in Kamloops. I understand from the local press in that community — I was there last weekend — that the figure is at least 27 percent, with some suggestion that it could be even higher. I would agree: that is unacceptable.
There are children going to school hungry, not being properly fed. It doesn't matter whose fault it is, Mr. Speaker. It doesn't matter whether it's in the home or whether the parents aren't getting enough to provide the children with proper lunches. The fact of the matter is that they are going to school hungry. There are a lot of people in the province of British Columbia, I submit, whose prime goal is not to contribute to an elimination of the provincial government deficit.
I'd like to question also whether a deficit is necessarily a bad thing. I think it depends on how we get into that position. For example, is it worthwhile that some $2.25 billion of public funds went into the northeast coal project? I'm raising the question. That accounts for a substantial amount of the provincial government deficit — not all provincial government money.
I don't know why.... I guess we'll be hearing more about it. The former Minister of Highways, the first member for Cariboo (Mr. A. Fraser), told us that the ALRT, which was projected to cost $250 million, actually cost $1 billion. I don't know where the other $750 million went. I question whether that was a good way in which to increase our deficit.
We all know by now that the Coquihalla Highway cost twice what it was supposed to, from $500 million up to $1 billion, and I question, Mr. Speaker, whether an extra half a billion dollars in that hurry-up process was worth it, to increase the deficit by that amount.
If the deficit went into maintaining public services, which have been strapped or cut back so severely in almost every area.... Education has been cut back. Health care — although they talk about the cost of it, there are nevertheless health care services that we are doing without.
There are ways in which money can be spent profitably and economically in the province even if it means incurring a deficit, but there are other ways in which the Social Credit governments have spent money and built up deficits that have
[ Page 3592 ]
not been good for the province of British Columbia — and certainly they are a drain.
It's not just the fact that we have a deficit; it's how we got there and what we should have done that would have been different. When there are people in British Columbia suffering as they are today, they certainly do not think.... And we, as members of this Legislature, should have more consideration for people such as that. They do not have a prime goal of helping to relieve the provincial government of its deficit.
There's some curious wording on page 2 — at least, to me it's curious; I agree with some of the conclusions:
"Our continued success depends upon increased productivity, stability in labour relations.... In the coming year, our maturity and our will to do what is best for British Columbia will be tested.
"Public and private sector contracts affecting 55 percent of our unionized workforce are up for re renewal. The eyes of the world's business and invest investment community will be upon us."
What is the author of this speech trying to do? Hold up a red flag and warn possible investors around the world that this is not a good year to come to British Columbia? That we're anticipating labour-management strife? Is that what they're saying? "The eyes of the world.... will be upon us." ".... 55 percent of our unionized workforce.... contracts up for renewal." I just don't know why that wording is put in the speech. It's true that to a large extent we do depend upon labour-management peace. But to say to the world that our own government is extremely concerned that there might be real problems this year is certainly, to me, raising a red flag and saying: "Don't look at B.C. this year. Wait until after we have resolved our internal difficulties." It frightens me, Mr. Speaker. It makes me wonder whether the government is yet again going to take on labour in this province and show them who's boss — that they intend that there will be strife this year, and are telling the business community: "Wait until we get our problems solved. Then you'll be able to come into this safe haven in which to invest."
I think the wording is very unfortunate; I think that message is very unfortunate. I hope that's not what the government is trying to say, but it's down there in black and white, right on page 2. Obviously it's something about which we should all be concerned. But we shouldn't be telling people outside British Columbia that we're concerned. We should be working calmly and coolly with the people involved, trying to resolve the difficulties, working to cooperate with everyone — not warning everyone that we are worried about what trouble we might run into this year.
"My government will enhance our valuable trade ties with our other partners in the Pacific Rim." There are several comments here about free trade, about the government's position on free trade — talking about this one reference here to global trade. I have to wonder if that's what we have in mind, if we really believe that we're trading in a global community. If we really want to expand our trade into Pacific Rim countries, why are we so anxious to tie ourselves so totally to the American economy? We've had a lot of experience trading into the American economy, and when they want our goods, they're very willing to accept them and they pay the price. When they don't want them, they don't bother importing from Canada, from British Columbia.
Our problems in the past — and I've heard this message personally in communities as far apart as London and Tokyo — have been that we have been so anxious to satisfy the American market that we haven't been willing to look at other markets around the world. We haven't been willing to service them when the American market was good. When the American market is slowing down, and when they aren't so willing to buy our — mostly natural — resources, then we scurry around the world looking for places to which we can export. But that's not good enough. I was told in both of these places by business people that we had to do a better job of servicing customers in areas other than the United States in the years when we didn't have to fight for those markets, if we wanted to build up a reputation for continuing to supply them regardless of how economic conditions were in the States.
And now we're rushing into a free trade agreement which says more than ever that we'll do whatever is possible and cooperate in every way to get into the American market totally — wholly, solely tie ourselves up to the American economy — and if there's anything left over, perhaps we'll look at some other markets. Sure, we're going to concentrate on the global market, on the Pacific Rim, but only after we have done everything we can in the American economy. That is the way I read the government's total support of the free trade agreement we are now looking at.
I'm concerned about it. I'm concerned that once again we are going to find ourselves doing everything with America and suffering economically whenever America suffers. The old saying that when America catches a cold, we sneeze in Canada....
HON. MR. STRACHAN: It's the other way around.
MR. STUPICH: The other way? Okay, if you say so.
MR. WILLIAMS: We get pneumonia.
MR. STUPICH: When they sneeze, we get pneumonia. Thank you very much.
I was going to comment on the statement that British Columbia cooperated fully to assist Ottawa in resolving the softwood lumber dispute, but I know others have done that already, and I think that almost everyone other than the author of this document would agree that we would have been much better off if B.C. had not meddled in it.
The government is talking about getting out of business: "We will seek a reduced emphasis on direct loans in favour of increased involvement by commercial lending institutions. Where appropriate, my government will consider loan guarantees or equity investments." Equity investments? Mr. Speaker, how does that tie in with privatization? The government are now suggesting in the throne speech that they're going to get into equity investments. Does that mean they're going to start buying into things — selling out the winners and start buying into losers? That's what it suggests to me. Now we'll have to wait for details, I suppose. I see one member shaking his head. Be careful: heads sometimes fall off when you shake them.
"We will act through the budget process to help our small business sector further improve its record as a job creator and economic generator." That's a great thought. It's a great statement. I remember last year, how we hit the small business sector by increasing the tax on them and removing the employment small business tax credit. From their point of view, that wasn't help; they didn't appreciate that kind of help. We'll have to wait and see the budget before we know
[ Page 3593 ]
what's offered this year, but I'm sure small business worries whenever this provincial government looks at them.
When it comes to help, it's our position that the government should be listening. I heard the previous speaker say that the government indeed is listening, listening more than ever before. Now some of the committees did meet, it's true. I recall two committees of which I'm a member: as I left the room, after we met to name the Chairman and the Secretary, I said,"Well, I'll see you again next year," and the Chairman said: "Oh, no. This time the committee will be meeting." Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm still waiting for those two committees to meet, and I expect I will see them again, now that we're into a new parliament and the committees will be called and convened again. But some committees did meet — I grant you that, Mr. Speaker — and that's a plus. They should all have met, because certainly there are problems enough in the province for all of these committees to have met, to have dealt with them. But at least some progress was made over previous years.
"My government believes it is an appropriate time to undertake a new and innovative approach in dealing with health care." Well, Mr. Speaker, indeed it is. Suggestions have been made, and suggestions will be made. But I wonder how much the government is listening. I fear, from what I have seen from this government, that their ideas on improving health care will not coincide with the ideas from most of the people in the province. I recall one instance. The Minister of Finance, I think it was, when he was expressing concern about the long lineups in emergency wards — that was after the agreement with Ottawa obliged us to cease collecting fees at the emergency ward and co-insurance in hospitals — said that one way of dealing with these long lineups cluttering up the emergency wards was, in some cases, to do away with the emergency wards. That's not improving service, from my point of view.
Last year, when they had to do away with the co-insurance charges and the emergency room charges in the hospital, they got even with the federal government — or with the people of British Columbia, if you like — by levying charges on those who use ancillary health services. Then they say we're better off here in that respect than in any other province. That may be, but we're worse off now than we were a year and a half ago. That's not a forward step; that's a backward step. I believe that the people who use the ancillary health services do so because they get relief and they get it more economically and they're happier about it than by any other method. The amount of money that the government is saving by obliging these people to pay that $5 fee — or whatever the fee is; I'm not sure if it's $5 in every case — is not worth it. It is putting more of a cost on the rest of the health service budget than they're saving by collecting that $5.
Are they going to do more of that kind of thing? Are they really going to try to get more money out of the people, many of whom can't afford it, for health services? Is that what they mean by improving health services? I have my own fears on that. The Premier himself suggested we should have a second tier of hospitals so that those who can afford it wouldn't have to wait to get into a hospital. Is he going to come up with that kind of approach in the budget? I certainly hope not, but whenever the government talks about improving health services it worries me.
There is a way of cutting health services. The government knows it and has talked about it in the past. Instead of cutting back on home care, homemaker service and home nursing, those areas should be expanded. There should be more money provided to help people stay at home when they're ill so they don't have to go into the acute-care hospitals and take up acute-care beds, which are bound to be a lot more expensive. Why do they abandon.... Not abandon; they haven't closed it down altogether. But those services could be beefed up and we could save a lot of money in our health care system, I think. The people generally would be much happier at home than they are in the acute-care hospitals. That's one easy way, I submit, of saving a lot of money and of making people feel happier. It's an appropriate time to do that, but I doubt very much that the government has in mind moving in that direction.
"The contribution made by our independent school system will be recognized." Well, I guess that means more money for independent schools and less money for schools generally.
There was a reference in here about the universities. We're going to encourage the private sector to support the universities. I have a concern that that means the government's support of universities will drop, and the universities will be told to go to the private sector for their funding, and then the government will encourage them by matching it. If the government is going to match money put up by the private sector for the universities, it would seem to me they're anticipating not having to put up so much money. Any authority we want to go and talk to about the kind of economic activity we need in Canada as a whole and in B.C. in particular.... It means more and better education at the higher levels rather than less. That worries me, if it really means that the government is going to cut back on its support of universities, because I think there should be more rather than less in that field.
More support for the independent schools at the expense of the public schools? I have to ask that question, because that's what's been going on in the past. I have no objection to people going to the independent schools, but remember the public school system under the School Act has to take in every student that appears at the door.
I can recall on one occasion where — I think it was in the Surrey School District — the independent schools decided that they would take on the government, and they would force the government to provide them with more funds to help them financially. They said: "If you don't, we will close the schools." I believe it was W.A. C. Bennett at the time, and as far as he was concerned.... He was a Catholic; I believe he was; he was certainly a strong supporter of the public school system.... I don't think he was a Catholic.
AN HON. MEMBER: He was an Orangeman.
MR. STUPICH: He was an Orangeman, that's right. Frank Richter was a member of cabinet at the time, and he was a strong Catholic. I remember having one of the Speaker's lunches with them on one occasion when they both said: "Public money for public education." Certainly that's an attitude with which I could agree totally.
In this incident in Surrey where they threatened to close down the schools and dump all these students from quite a number of private schools on the school system, if the government didn't submit to this blackmail.... W.A.C. Bennett just ignored the whole situation. They did make good their threat. They closed down the private schools, and those
[ Page 3594 ]
students all over that school district suddenly appeared on the doorsteps of the public schools, and they were all accommodated — certainly not very comfortably, because it was quite a load, but they were all part of the public school system, and they had to be accommodated; the Public Schools Act required it. I think if the private schools in that area have opened up since, it's been very recent. For quite a number of years they were closed.
MR. WILLIAMS: They're getting the bucks.
MR. STUPICH: They're getting the bucks now, of course, yes.
Mr. Speaker, public purse for public education, for the public school system. Those who want to go to private schools, go ahead; pay your own way. On the other hand, maintain the public school system upon which you may want to call some day. Public funds for public education — that's the way it should be.
There's one reference here that the increase in the funding for schools announced to date is greater than that announced by the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba. It's not too hard to be greater if you've first downgraded the spending. Then you can come up more than any other province and still be far behind the other provinces. So it doesn't mean a thing to pick that statement out of context, if everything else is going on, and simply say that this year we've done better than a number of other provinces in this one area. As I say, if they've gone so far back in previous years, then what's the point?
"Mandatory basic safety inspections will be extended to include automobiles and light trucks." Others have commented on this; I just want to reinforce what they've said. We all agree with mandatory inspection — no question about that. We all want it to be all over the province. That was one of the deficiencies of the previous system, that it wasn't all over the province. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, we must all be concerned about how the system is going to operate compared to what was a very efficient and economical system of mandatory testing that we had. It didn't cover the whole province, but it did cover large sections of the province and most of the population. It was efficient and economical.
Any system operated under private enterprise is bound to open the door to abuses. Other members have spoken about this; we're all concerned about it. Yet the government apparently is determined to go in that direction. We'll all be watching with some apprehension, I would suggest.
There's a joke in here. I'll read that first, and then I'll go back to the one point that I wanted to finish on. "Our agricultural sector's economic viability will be enhanced by a long-term strategy to develop new markets and products." Mr. Speaker, you are supposed to laugh. Do you really think there is going to be any agricultural sector in our community of any consequence once we really get into this free trade thing?
We can't be operating from a level playing-field. We are farther north than are the farmers in Washington, Oregon or California. We can't have a level playing-field when it comes to dealing with agricultural products. A lot of what we buy, we buy from the States. It costs us more.
The irrigation water is a favourite story of mine. We dam the irrigation water here in Canada. It's part of the Columbia River Treaty deal. We release the water when the Americans tell us they want more water. They control the flow of the water down that Columbia River and tell us how to control the release of water. The irrigation water for the fruit growers in Washington costs those farmers roughly one-quarter per acre-foot what it costs our farmers here in British Columbia. What are we going to do about that in free trade? Are the Americans really going to say: "Well, our farmers will pay four times as much?" Because our system can't do it less; it just costs that much more — a level playing-field under those circumstances?
When we start talking about subsidies, the most recent figures I saw were with respect to the billion and a half that the Prairie farmers got in federal aid. I'm talking about the Prairie farmers now. If our farmers were subsidized to the same extent as the American grain growers are for the same products, the subsidy would have to have been $6.5 billion. Their subsidies are at a different level. They feed them in a different way, and they don't call them subsidies. So as far as free trade is concerned, they are not going to be affected by that. They're not subsidized; they call it something else.
We used to try to ship apples to Japan, and I'll tell you we're still trying. We couldn't ship them in because we had codling moth in British Columbia, and they didn't want that introduced to Japan. Our people knew that the Japanese didn't have the codling moth because they called it something else — the same animal, the same beast, the same bug, but they called it something else so that didn't count.
Do you think we're going to get away with competing free trade with the Americans? Tommy Douglas used to say: "The elephant dancing on the fleas, and every man for himself." That's the kind of situation there will be. There will be no agriculture to worry about, so let's laugh about it when we talk about preserving the agricultural sector.
On a more serious note,"Initial funding will be made available for preliminary work on the proposed new Vancouver Island Highway." It's something like the gas pipeline, isn't it? I remember one of Barrett's lines in the Quesnel byelection about a bridge they'd been wanting for years. Government after government, election after election, they were promising this bridge, and Barrett's comment at a public meeting there was: "Well, if you've got a good promise, why ruin it by delivering on it? You can't use it as a promise any more after that." So the gas pipeline has been trotted out as a promise since 1966. That's when I first heard it in the Legislature. Now we're talking about the proposed new Vancouver Island Highway.
It was top of the program for the NDP in the last election campaign; it was very high on the program for the Social Credit Party in the last election campaign. We've seen a little bit of work on the Malahat in the last 12 months, and now, in the second year of this government's term: "Initial funding will be made available for preliminary work on the proposed new.... Does that mean they are going to survey it again? It doesn't seem to mean much else: initial funding for preliminary work. I'm concerned about that as a Vancouver Island resident, as one who drives regularly between Victoria and Nanaimo, and sometimes north of that.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair]
There's a lot of work to be done to Vancouver Island. We had been neglected. It's not because of the representation; it's because the government has seen other priorities. I think it's
[ Page 3595 ]
time that the government looked at the priorities on Vancouver Island. Even if the highway has to start at Chemainus, at the northern end of the Cowichan-Malahat riding, which is now a Social Credit riding, and then pick up again just north of Lantzville, which is another Social Credit riding, at least that will be a start, much more than preliminary work, if they could start working in the Social Credit riding and really bring the Island Highway up to snuff. It needs it; Vancouver Islanders need it. To be serious, Mr. Speaker, we have been neglected for a long time in this respect, and it's time we had something better.
Hon. Mr. Strachan moved adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Mr. Strachan moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5:50 p.m.
51 The Hon. M. B. Couvelier moved-
That this House authorize the Select Standing Committee on Finance, Crown Corporations and Government Services to examine, inquire into and make recommendations with respect to the regulation of the financial planning and advisory industry, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, to consider:
1. The desirability of a regulatory regime to regulate the financial planning and advisory industry;
2. The objectives which regulation of the industry should attempt to accomplish and the principles upon which regulation could be established;
3. The policy considerations inherent in regulating this industry; and
4. Alternative approaches which would be used to design a regulatory regime; and to report to the House as soon as possible, or following any adjournment, or at the next following Session, as the case may be.
In addition to the powers previously conferred upon the said Committee by the House, the Committee shall have the following additional powers, namely:
(a) to appoint of their number one or more subcommittees and to refer to such subcommittees any of the matters referred to the Committee; and
(b) to sit during any period in which the House is adjourned, is prorogued, and during any sitting of the House;
(c) to adjourn from place to place as may be convenient; and
(d) to retain consultants as required to advise the committee generally and during its deliberations.