1990 Legislative Session: 4th Session, 34th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 1990
[ Page 8847 ]
Speech from the Throne –– 8847
An Act to Perpetuate a Parliamentary Right (Bill 1). Hon. Mr. Smith
Introduction and first reading –– 8852
Tabling documents –– 8864
The House met at 3 p.m.
This being the first day of the fourth session of the thirty-fourth Legislative Assembly of the province of British Columbia for the dispatch of business, pursuant to a proclamation of the Hon. David S. Lam Lieutenant-Governor of the province, hon. members took their seats.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, I have been advised His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor is in the precincts.
His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, having entered the House and being seated upon the throne, was pleased to deliver the following gracious speech.
Speech from the Throne
HON. MR. LAM (Lieutenant-Governor): Mr. Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly, I extend greetings on behalf of our Sovereign, Her Majesty the Queen, on the opening of the fourth session of the thirty-fourth parliament of British Columbia. I personally welcome all members and guests.
Since last meeting, we have been saddened by the passing of two former members of this Legislature. Mr. James Roland Chabot represented Columbia River from 1963 to 1986. Mr. Alexander Vaughan Fraser served as the member for Cariboo from 1969 to 1989. As ministers of the executive council they represented their constituents and the province with dedication and distinction.
We note the passing of Senator Nancy Bell of Nanaimo, who served British Columbia and the Upper House of Canada from 1970 to 1989.
We record the passing of the Hon. J.V. Clyne, a lawyer, jurist, business executive, university chancellor and a willing adviser to all who sought his guidance during a lifelong commitment to this province.
We also mourn the passing of one who, in her quiet way, shaped the lives of two former Premiers of this province. I refer to Mrs. May Bennett.
My government has been visited by distinguished guests, among them Prime Minister Kaifu of Japan, President Aquino of the Philippines, Chairman Wan of the People's Republic of China and Their Royal Highnesses Princess Chulabhorn of Thailand and Princess Cristina of Spain. My government was also pleased to receive many diplomatic representatives accredited to Canada.
This is your first legislative session of a new decade — a decade closing on a new century. Canadians will face many challenges and difficult choices in this decade.
Political and economic readjustment is occurring over the globe. In the past year alone Canadians have witnessed basic changes in many political regimes and philosophies. Walls and ideologies, which have separated people, crumbled throughout the year. Canadians have applauded new political freedom in some countries and despaired as those freedoms were extinguished in others. We have seen people and individuals who are the leaders of people choose and achieve freedom.
It is most meaningful that we reflect on such events on this day — a day our Legislature convenes — within the framework of the constitutional democracy from which we so benefit and which we so often take for granted.
We must also be reminded of the needs and challenges facing our own nation. Government, legislators and individual British Columbians must affirm support for this great and complex country, and embrace initiatives which can keep us together as a nation.
My government is committed to affirming the value of a strong, unified country such that our future generations will enjoy the same greatness and be given the same opportunities that have been afforded to us. We will strive to maintain the equality of all Canadians and all provinces.
We must also work together within this province to choose the right directions and develop economic and social policies to best meet the needs of British Columbians in the coming century.
Because of the importance and difficulty surrounding these choices, my government has undertaken an outstanding process of public consultation on all major policy issues affecting our citizens. The British Columbia Round Table on Environment and Economy has been constituted to consult with the public and assist in choosing the framework to balance business and environmental policy. My government has also established a Forest Resources Commission, which will consult and advise on a broad range of resource management and policy issues. Transportation plans, developed through consultation in all our regions, will guide my government in the development of provincial transportation systems.
Following public consultation, the report of the Royal Commission on Education is being implemented. Similarly, the report of the Justice Reform Committee has been adopted. A royal commission will consult on all aspects of health care and services so that British Columbians can choose appropriate health policies.
Ministers and members of my government have also sought our citizens' advice on issues of importance to women, seniors, reviews of taxation, an assessment of our parks system, environmental policy and the needs of our workers, industries and communities. This positive dialogue will continue.
My government believes that our citizens should have a more direct voice in fundamental issues, particularly economic issues of importance to all British Columbians. Accordingly, you will be asked to approve a British Columbia referendum act.
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My government promised fair electoral reform, and you will be asked to approve a new electoral boundaries act to incorporate recommendations of the Royal Commission on Electoral Boundaries.
My government has chosen to maintain an economic and fiscal approach which in 1990 allowed the Investment Dealers' Association of Canada to conclude that British Columbia sets the example for fiscal management in Canada. Government must not depart from the rigour of firm and sound policies made necessary by today's economic reality.
We enjoy a fragile prosperity. My government will maintain that prosperity through a disciplined budgetary framework within which economic growth, environmental integrity, job security and social services are maintained.
The budget will also reflect the resolve essential when there are prospects of economic moderation and uncertainty caused by federal action to unilaterally curtail resources and programs. Federal reductions are particularly onerous given the low level of both support to our provincial programs and federal spending in the province. Further, the province must weather the adverse effects of the continuing high interest rate policy of the Bank of Canada, burdensome federal debts and the unnecessary goods and services tax.
Relief of taxpayer burden is a cornerstone of my government's fiscal plan. Government will introduce an assessment and property tax reform act to bring greater equity and stability to the property tax and assessment systems in the province.
British Columbia's economy is strong, but that strength can be diluted. The current economic framework must be maintained in the best interests of today's and tomorrow's British Columbians.
All British Columbians remember the devastation of the economic collapse of the early 1980s and the tough measures that were required to cure those economic ills. British Columbians do not want to relive those days and months of economic and employment uncertainty, the prospect of extended unemployment and the loss of income and homes. The effects on individuals and families are remembered, and government will choose the right course, a responsible course, to avoid a recurrence of those difficulties.
With economic moderation and some softening in prices for our basic export commodities, we are also witnessing upward pressure on interest rates and public sector wage settlements running well ahead of the private sector. The ingredients for economic distress are all present.
My government believes that the responsible course is to choose to arrest those problems immediately, such that our economic and personal prosperity, while fragile, can be continued. Government can only spend what taxpayers can afford. Public sector wage settlements cannot lead the private sector, and they cannot become the stimulus to renewed inflation Productivity gains, made at great cost in the early 1980s, must be maintained.
At the same time, my government recognizes that maintenance of essential programs requires managed growth in the provincial public service. Further, economic adjustments must reflect the correction of historical inequities in our compensation programs. Therefore my Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations and the Minister Responsible for Women's Programs will introduce a framework for a pay equity program for the British Columbia public service and encourage other public sector employers to achieve similar goals. Accordingly, my government will introduce legislation aimed at continuing our prosperity, providing for fair compensation adjustments within the capacity of provincial taxpayers and introducing a provincial public sector pay equity program.
My government's concern for employment and income security will result in the establishment of a British Columbia pension plan. My Ministers of Finance and Corporate Relations and Labour and Consumer Services will prepare a White Paper detailing this significant new concept and arrange provincewide consultation on this major and innovative policy proposal. A British Columbia pension plan has the potential of improving income security for many British Columbians, particularly homemakers, employees of small businesses and low-wage earners, and generally help British Columbians accumulate retirement income in a changing economy.
Government's economic policies will stress attraction of new industry and creation of investment and employment opportunities throughout our regions. Development in all parts of the province will also relieve the pressures of accelerated economic growth in southern communities.
Objectives of the Regional and Economic Development ministry include maximizing British Columbia's development potential through economic diversification, providing an economic climate conducive to growth through private-sector investments, promoting sustainable economic development, and emphasizing communication and consultation with people in all regions.
Over the coming year my government will strengthen regional initiatives, providing resources to communities and local authorities through programs such as Community Organizations for Economic Development and the recently announced Strong Communities in the 90s.
My government recognizes that there is a vast potential for growth in our northern regions. Natural resources and dedicated workers are present to build stable and sustainable economies in these regions. The development of port and transportation facilities in the north and the exploration of mineral, oil and gas-rich areas have potential to fuel a continuing prosperity for northern and central British Columbia. The budget will provide for a power and gas line extension program to extend services to northern and interior communities to stimulate economic activity.
British Columbia's economic well-being is directly dependent on foreign trade. Accordingly, the province is compelled to maintain cost-effective and
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productive industries in a competitive International marketplace.
While export dependency remains high, a significant provincial achievement has been diversification of markets for our major products. In 1989 the province reached a historic point where exports to Pacific Rim countries surpassed exports to the United States while the overall level of trade increased. British Columbia leads Canada in exports to Europe. Government is strengthening trade programs in anticipation of Europe 1992 and the profound changes that will then occur in that massive market.
The British Columbia Trade Development Corporation, established within the last year by my government, is now working effectively with the private sector to enhance and expand export opportunities.
Forestry has long served as the economic backbone for British Columbia. My Minister of Forests will continue the government policy to balance timber harvesting and conservation to maintain our long-term goal of sustainable development. My government's Forest Resources Commission reflects a commitment to re-examine current forest management issues to ensure policies that will sustain that industry. My government's programs will improve forest utilization and health, and promote integrated resource management.
My Ministry of Forests will expand the small business forest enterprise program to create more job opportunities and increase manufacturing value.
Reforestation is the key to a successful and enduring forest industry. Over two billion seedlings have been planted in the province, and a billion more will follow in a few short years. Continued representation will be made to the government of Canada to participate fairly in this important element of forest management, from which all of Canada benefits.
British Columbia is recognized internationally for integrating environmental and economic factors in approving proposals for new mining operations. Our mine development review process, used for over a decade, ensures a balance between economic-dc and environmental considerations. A mine development review act will be Introduced to strengthen that process. My government will also continue its energy conservation strategy and Introduce an energy conservation act.
British Columbia's thriving tourism industry contributed more than $3.5 billion to the provincial economy in 1989, and my Minister of Tourism will work closely with communities and industry to ensure continued growth.
Tourism is closely linked to adequate transportation and highway facilities in the province. Hundreds of British Columbians have assisted the government in transportation planning for the next decade. Public meetings throughout the province have focused on the choices facing British Columbians for transportation development. The multi-billion dollar SkyTrain and transit programs are a critical part of the province's response to longer-term needs.
My government has also developed a long-term plan to renew and bolster our ferry system and assist in revitalizing our shipbuilding and repair industry. We will look to the government of Canada to reconsider its decision and longstanding commitment to the Polar 8 icebreaker. Canada must recognize that support of a strategic shipbuilding industry must be equalized between eastern and western industry. Further, it may be more appropriate at this time to protect and promote Arctic sovereignty on behalf of Canada rather than proceed only with a military building program
Agriculture and fisheries create real wealth for the province. They are sustainable activities, sensitive to environmental needs. Government is promoting a stronger agricultural economy by fostering entrepreneurship and targeting economic-dc development activities. Programs to encourage quality in all agricultural and fish products will be pursued. Policies respecting land use, to continue a viable agricultural sector, will be strengthened.
The health of the Pacific fishery is of great concern. International developments, without adequate federal planning or response, could diminish this resource. Therefore efforts of my government will be intensified to ensure that fishermen, packers and processors have strong future prospects in this renewable industry.
The province will continue its strong opposition to the international driftnet fishery. Regardless of its location, the driftnet fishery poses an unacceptable global threat to the marine environment.
A British Columbia Round Table on Environment and Economy has been established to advise on policy to achieve a prosperous and sustainable economy while protecting environmental quality. All British Columbians recognize that the goals of economic development and environmental integrity are mutually dependent.
My Ministry of Environment will table an environmental action plan entitled "Vision 2001" to encourage public consultation and frame environmental policy over the coming decade. Environmental, fish and wildlife protection will be enhanced through improved policies, strengthening of standards and monitoring and enforcement of regulations. Environmental protection legislation will be reviewed to ensure that government has all statutory tools required to encourage sustainable development and environmental protection.
The Waste Management Act will be amended to deal with identification and remediation of contaminated sites. Legislation will create a hazardous waste management corporation to develop, with the private sector, facilities for safe handling and disposal of dangerous and toxic wastes,
My Ministry of Environment will continue building partnerships with federal, local and neighbouring jurisdictions to protect the environment.
The province responded quickly to the reality and continued threat of oil spills and is proceeding to implement many of the recommendations of the oil spill study. Mr. David Anderson, special adviser to
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the Premier, is to be commended for his diligent work on behalf of the province.
Government will maintain its partnership program for reducing municipal solid wastes by 50 percent and for the safe handling of biomedical wastes.
My government will encourage our universities, colleges and the private sector to focus on environmental issues and at the same time create products and services which will find worldwide application British Columbia is positioned to be a leader in developing services and businesses focused on the needs of the global environment. The outstanding success of the Globe '90 conference and trade show is witness to our potential in this area.
The environment youth program trains provincial youth In environmental improvement and emergency response programs. It has been an outstanding success. These young British Columbians have materially contributed to a wider knowledge and understanding of environmental problems. They have been a positive force in responding to emergencies during the year.
Maintaining and improving the quality of community water supplies is essential during periods of accelerated population and economic growth. Initiatives in the forthcoming budget will expand funding for such projects.
In protecting our natural environment, government designated 20 parks and increased the size of 20 more, to add 216,000 hectares to the province's park inventory. More people enjoyed British Columbia parks in the last year than ever before. This included Pacific Spirit Park, a new urban park and one of the largest parks created in any major city in the world.
In this legislative session, 23 park boundaries will be secured, adding to the 81 already protected. My government will pursue the nomination of Hamber, Mount Robson and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Parks as world heritage sites. These sites are magnificent showpieces for the province and reflect the quality of our natural heritage.
British Columbia's natural beauty is complemented by unique heritage sites and architecture. To preserve these essential elements of our history, my government will introduce a White Paper detailing a new heritage conservation act.
Sustainable economic activity drives provincial revenues and allows British Columbians to enjoy an exceptional quality of life. Our ability to underwrite sustainable programs for people requires a strong and stable income stream flowing from a strong and diverse economy.
A knowledge-based economy is emerging in British Columbia, and human resource development is essential to this modern economy. Human resource development programs are solutions to many pressing social issues, helping families and children out of poverty and disadvantaged groups and immigrants needing assistance. These programs are also important tools in the full and equitable integration of some women into our economic system. The 1989 first ministers' conference requested provincial ministers of education to develop a national human resource strategy. British Columbia Is offering strong support in achieving that mandate.
Government Introduced a strategy called Access for All to strengthen post-secondary education. Over 700 additional students were attracted to Cariboo, Malaspina and Okanagan Colleges, which now offer degree programs in partnership with British Columbia's universities.
My government is committed to a university of northern British Columbia and has received a task force report from northern citizens and experts in higher education. Government will introduce the University of Northern British Columbia Act.
The International Literacy Year for the United Nations is 1990. British Columbia will continue to offer upgrading programs for individuals to attain basic skills.
My government recognizes the tremendous and continuing contribution of our post-secondary institutions. The University of British Columbia celebrates its seventy-fifth and Simon Fraser University its twenty-fifth anniversary of years of service and scholarship for British Columbians.
This province is proud to host the Commonwealth of Learning centre. Educational services and technologies can be shared, particularly with developing countries.
Commitment has been made to the policy directions of the Sullivan Royal Commission on Education. Much has been accomplished in working with educators to improve our school system such that our children will achieve their potential. Support will continue for our internationally acclaimed Pacific Rim education initiatives. Young British Columbians will carry a better understanding of the history, culture and languages of the Asia-Pacific region through the implementation of new curricula.
My government has announced major changes to provincial education funding to bring added stability and accountability to school financing. Legislation will be introduced to initiate this system and empower school boards to hold referendums to solicit taxpayers' approval for extraordinary spending and allow citizens a direct voice and choice over local priorities.
The Science Council of British Columbia, the Premier's Advisory Council on Science and Technology and industry are advising government on science, research and development programs. The forthcoming budget will introduce the most significant concept for underwriting these activities that has been taken by a government in this province.
My government is concerned with all matters of access, quality and affordability in our health care system and therefore has appointed a royal commission to report in 1991. My Ministry of Health will expand and improve community health services and replace Riverview Hospital.
Discussions will begin with communities and health professionals to consider establishing, on a pilot project basis, comprehensive health organizations.
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Government will reintroduce the Health Disciplines Act to regulate a wide range of health professions and occupations.
An extensive consultation process to examine the concerns of seniors has been completed. British Columbia's senior citizens make a significant intellectual, cultural and economic contribution to the province, and their needs will be addressed as fully as possible by government.
An aggressive fight against drug and alcohol abuse will be continued. The Cabinet Committee on Drug Abuse and the TRY program will ensure that our social and law enforcement agencies pursue effective programs to deal with this continuing, insidious problem.
My government will continue justice reform. The province's Supreme and County Courts will merge by July 1, 1990, to ensure provincewide accessibility to the superior courts. Provincial Court facilities will continue to be expanded and improved.
Programs will be introduced to provide a simplified and less costly means of resolving civil cases. My government will propose amendments to family law to facilitate resolution of disputes and streamline processes to place cases before the courts. Further, a statutory appeals procedures act will provide citizens with clearer, more concise procedures to appeal decisions of administrative agencies.
The Ministry of Attorney-General will work with our native communities to improve justice services, expand victim programs and develop, within the justice system, a greater recognition and appreciation of the unique social and cultural traditions of native citizens.
The Ministry of Solicitor-General will broaden consultations with native bands and tribal councils to extend diversion programs.
The Premier's Council on Native Affairs is undertaking ongoing discussions with tribal councils and provincial native groups to improve social and economic programs. My government will create the First Peoples' Traditions for Tomorrow Council to administer a program to assist funding native language, heritage and cultural centres in the province.
Government social policy must increase the opportunity for citizens to make individual choices and foster independence and personal growth. Accordingly, support and incentive programs available to persons receiving income assistance will be strengthened. Programs to bridge the transition to gainful employment will be expanded. More support will be introduced for emergency shelters for the homeless and transition and safe houses for women and children.
British Columbia's buoyant economy has attracted many new residents, creating a strong demand for housing. Despite high construction activity, the demand for supported housing continues to outstrip supply. Partnership with the private sector, nonprofit societies and all levels of government will allow my government to extend programs to provide adequate housing for all British Columbians.
The British Columbia Housing Management Commission has played a major, positive role in responding to housing needs. Provincial land will continue to be made available for the development of rental homes. My government will also enhance the renter's tax reduction program and introduce amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act. The budget will reveal a strengthening of our comprehensive housing programs.
Provincial initiatives alone cannot solve all accommodation problems, and my government urges local government to extend itself in assisting in meeting housing needs.
With strong economic growth, British Columbia has witnessed record levels of job creation, the highest in Canada. Concurrently, the province's economy is in transition. Some industries and communities on which they are dependent are still subject to economic instability and closures. Accordingly, my government will introduce a program to assist communities, such as Kimberley. Further, to increase protection to workers, my government will introduce amendments to the Employment Standards Act to provide appropriate safeguards for employees from large scale layoffs.
The province's legislative framework regulating labour relations has achieved many of its original goals. Such legislation must be regularly improved and appropriate amendments to the Industrial Relations Act will be prepared.
My government remains committed to working closely with local government. Local communities will benefit greatly from sustained economic growth through strong increases in provincial revenue-sharing.
On behalf of the Legislature, my government extends the warmest congratulations to the people of Penticton and the athletes of the British Columbia Winter Games. All British Columbians look forward to the Summer Games to be held in Prince George. These games have enjoyed great success because of many volunteers in host communities, and my government applauds their efforts.
That same community spirit is manifest in the planning now underway for the 1993 Canada Games in Kamloops, and the 1994 Commonwealth Games in the communities of greater Victoria. All provincial communities are working with government to prepare for the 1991 Year of Music, our largest community-based tourism initiative since Expo 86.
I am very pleased that my government has established the Order of British Columbia. This will provide appropriate recognition to those citizens who have served with the greatest distinction and excelled in fields of endeavour benefiting the people of the province and Canada.
My government maintains a commitment to recognize and promote the multicultural heritage of British Columbia and Canada. Government is pleased to host a major provincial symposium on multiculturalism in June, drawing delegates from across the province to consider community priorities and to highlight our
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cultural diversity and promote a strong sense of citizenship.
On behalf of all members of this assembly I extend my appreciation to employees of the provincial government. They serve with distinction, skill and integrity on behalf of this assembly and the citizens of British Columbia.
Members of the Legislative Assembly, you are charged with a great responsibility of representing with fairness and purpose the interests of all British Columbians.
May wisdom and good judgment guide you in your deliberations.
In our Sovereign's name I thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, in order to ensure that we do not have mistakes, I have obtained a copy of the speech from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, and we will now have a short recess while copies are distributed to members.
The House recessed at 4:03 p.m.
The House resumed at 4:06 p.m.
Introduction of Bills
AN ACT TO PERPETUATE
A PARLIAMENTARY RIGHT
Hon. Mr. Smith presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled An Act to Perpetuate a Parliamentary Right.
HON. MR. SMITH: I ask leave to move a bill intituled An Act to Perpetuate a Parliamentary Right It Is my privilege to place before the Legislature of this province a bill re-establishing the principle that the people's business, conducted by those elected to be here, shall take precedence over the business of the Sovereign.
May each of us reflect upon and understand that in the year 1990, in this Canada, through our heritage, our traditions and our values, we remain at liberty to reaffirm this 387-year-old right which others all over this globe now seek to assert for the first time. Therefore may each of us be thankful for, respectful of and true to our liberty and this parliamentary right. I move the bill be introduced and read a first time now.
Bill 1 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
HON. MR. DIRKS: I hereby move that the votes and proceedings of this House be printed, being first perused by Mr. Speaker, that he do appoint the printing thereof and that no person but such as he shall appoint do presume to print the same.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: I move that the Select Standing Committees of the House for the present session be appointed for the following purposes:
1. Economic Development, Transportation and Municipal Affairs;
2. Labour, Justice and Intergovernmental Relations;
3. Tourism and Environment;
4. Forests and Lands;
5. Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources;
6. Agriculture and Fisheries;
7. Health, Education and Social Services;
8. Finance, Crown Corporations and Government Services;
9. Public Accounts;
10. Standing Orders, Private Bills and Members' Services; which said committees shall severally be empowered to examine and inquire into all such matters and things as shall be referred to them by this House, and to report from time to time their observations and opinions thereon, with power to send for persons, papers and records; and that a special committee be appointed to prepare and report, with all convenient speed, lists of members to compose the above select standing committees of this House under standing order 68(l), the committee to be composed of Hon. C.H. Richmond, convener, Hon. W.B. Strachan, Hon. H. Dirks, Hon. J. Weisgerber, Messrs. Chalmers, Long and Rabbitt, and Messrs. Gabelmann, Rose and Williams.
MR. HARCOURT: Following the traditions of this House, I rise to make an amendment to the motion: to add after the words "members' services" the following: "Privileges and Ethics."
This amendment would establish a select standing committee of this House on privileges and ethics. The adoption of this amendment would allow the people of British Columbia through their elected Legislature to fully investigate and report on the ethics of members of this Legislature in matters of public trust. For example, GO B.C. grants....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It would be in order to present a copy of your amendment to the Chair.
MR. HARCOURT: For example, the GO B.C. grants; the conduct of the member for Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale (Mr. Reid) while Minister of Tourism and Provincial Secretary; the conduct of the Premier; the reports of the comptroller-general, auditor-general, Attorney-General and the RCMP; the June 1988 order-in-council allowing golf courses and resort facilities on farmland and the conduct of the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Savage) ; the sale and flipping of Crown lands, Crown farmlands and the Expo lands, and the conduct of the minister of the Crown and the Premier accountable for these matters.
This committee will be empowered, of course, to call and subpoena witnesses and report to this Legislature its findings on a regular basis.
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MR. LOVICK: I rise to support the amendment, and I do so with less than my usual alacrity and enthusiasm; rather, with some sadness. It is a sad day for this chamber that we have need of such a motion and such a committee. The fact remains, however, that we do have need of such a committee because all of us - government and opposition members alike -exist now under a cloud of suspicion in the eyes of the people of this province.
Because of the actions of a few of those individuals named in the motion, we are all perceived as being less concerned with the public good and with the people's welfare than we are with pursuing our own crass, naked, self-interest. That is deplorable.
The people want fair, honest and open government. We need a select standing committee on privileges and ethics to deal with ethical matters and to deal, more importantly, with deviations from ethical behavior. We need to look at whether cabinet ministers are profiting from rezoning. We need to look at whether cabinet ministers and premiers alike are intervening on behalf of their friends.
We need to give notice to this province that that kind of behavior will not be tolerated, that we demand from hon. members honourable behavior. I urge members then....
MR. LOVICK: The members opposite can cavil, caterwaul and cry all they wish. They know, however, it's a fact that we have a problem with ethical credibility in this province. Let us have a select standing committee on ethics and privileges.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: The Leader of the Opposition made reference to conduct of members. The member for Nanaimo made mention of a cloud of suspicion and used the word "credibility." I can well appreciate that perhaps this ought to be a matter of concern to all members of this House and the people we represent in our constituencies. Because like them I have seen and witnessed the garbage that has come from the socialists in the many press releases they've been issuing in the last while.
When we see the Leader of the Opposition — who, supposedly, at one time practiced law — make reference in a press release that something was illegal when in fact all the reports done by respected members of our staffs have indicated that no illegality was present.... When we see this sort of thing in press releases from a so-called responsible opposition, I can well appreciate how people out there are beginning to wonder about the credibility of some of the happenings in this House. I too have been ashamed of some of the things I've read in statements made by members of the opposition: irresponsible statements, statements with no fact, statements made when the facts prove or show quite the opposite. I too have been ashamed, because I, like members on this side of the House, respect the House, what it stands for and how it ought to behave in the House and outside the House.
Perhaps what we see here today in some respects, though the Leader of the Opposition said it's traditional to make amendments — which in itself, I suppose, is somewhat contradictory.... Although the Leader of the Opposition said it's traditional, I can't recall us, on the day of the opening of the House, having to debate as we're doing now. But I cannot let the statements that have just been made by members opposite go by unchallenged, because I think it's a shame that such things are raised at this time in this House, particularly when the leader well knows that it is not tradition, and particularly too, as has already been said, this is somehow the leaders opposite trying to set the tone for the days ahead in this House. I detest the confrontation they're attempting to create. These socialists are a bunch of confrontationalists. But it's not going to work, Mr. Speaker, because I think perhaps the tricks the socialists have attempted to use in the past have no credibility— you talk about credibility — as people see what's happening to socialist regimes the world over.
I suspect this is strictly for political purposes. I suspect it's strictly politics. But perhaps it's also a showing of incompetence, because if the Leader of the Opposition is sincere in his motion he would realize that not only have we a justice committee, which only moments ago I named as one of ten committees, but we have a Public Accounts Committee — chaired by a member of the NDP, please note.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: I'm glad you're back from Hawaii.
Not only have we those committees available, but the Leader of the Opposition ought to know as well that there is ample opportunity In this House, by motion, as we debate the various estimates, when those things that he might have made reference to can be debated.
I would hope that we might see an avoidance of the confrontation that the member opposite is attempting to create on this first day of the House. I would suggest all members see the shame in this and vote down this ridiculous motion.
MR. SIHOTA: I dare say Mr. Lampert must be pulling his hair out after that flame-out. I think that the Premier, given the way in which he responded to this motion, which was put forward in good faith by the opposition, has reinforced the moral and ethical blind spot that seems to hang over and hover above not only this government but the Premier in particular.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would ask him to withdraw that allegation immediately.
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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member has found the remarks to be unparliamentary and asks that you withdraw.
MR. SIHOTA: As I said, the Premier is a little testy today. If It offends the rules, I'll withdraw the comment.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: It tells us where your standards are.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think we would be best served if we heard from one member at a time. The member for Esquimalt-Port Renfrew has the floor.
MR. SIHOTA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
It's interesting to note that when discussing the matter, in abstract, of the type of conduct expected from ministers of the Crown, the Premier said, when he introduced his conflict-of-interest guidelines, that he expected the highest standard of conduct from his ministers and members of his cabinet.
When faced with the reality of severance payments, pubs or GO B.C. matters, it seems as if the government has been unable to distinguish between right and wrong, has chosen to prefer a route of loyalty and friendship over dignity and the type of conduct that's expected of all members of cabinet. It's that behavior and the regret which flows from that behavior that resulted in us sponsoring this motion.
The Premier can correct the path that his government has taken by acknowledging that enough is enough, that his party is now willing to put aside its history of favouring friends and insiders, and by establishing a committee of privilege and ethics that looks at matters of conflict of interest and brings forward appropriate recommendations to the House, that brings forward guidelines and approaches which can ensure that the conduct of behavior that flows from ministers is in keeping with the public interest and that we will no longer see the type of scandal we have seen in this province for the past few years.
Accordingly, I would ask the government to reconsider what the Premier has had to say and sponsor the establishment of this committee.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: I would point out to all members of this House that the ten committees which have been named by the Premier are very adequate in seeing that the business of this House is conducted in a proper fashion. They have been established over many years, and the tradition stands, as the Premier said, that the justice committee or the Public Accounts Committee is quite adequate to determine the conduct of members in this House.
On top of that, Mr. Speaker, every hon. member of this House has the right to rise at any time on a specific point of privilege, as those members well know. So the system works; the House works.
As the member for Nanaimo said, there is a need; but there is a need only in the eyes of the opposition. There is a need at this time to make a cheap headline while the television cameras are in the House.
If we were to establish such a committee, maybe it could start by looking at statements made by members of the opposition that have no basis in fact but which cost the taxpayers several thousands of dollars to investigate, statements they would not make outside this House but which they will make inside the House.
As the Premier said, I think it's most unfortunate that the words of some of the members opposite this early in the session have set the tone for the remainder of this fourth session of the thirty-fourth parliament.
MR. LOVICK: Look at the actions.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: I think every one of us should be proud of the actions of a Premier who acted with dispatch and very swiftly when there was just a suggestion that something was wrong. The Premier acted immediately. What more do you want than a Premier who dismissed a minister the moment there was a hint of something wrong? I think the actions of the Premier speak for themselves.
As the member for Esquimalt-Port Renfrew (Mr. Sihota) said, the moral and ethical values are very high on this side of the House. I only wish they were the same on the other side of the House.
Mr. Speaker, I am speaking against this amendment, as I think it is specious and absolutely unnecessary.
MR. ROSE: Mr. Speaker, we are going to call for a standing vote on this motion. There will be no further speakers on it. But in case there might be other motions subsequent to this, we on this side of the House would certainly be willing to ignore the five-minute rule for the bells, to just have the standing vote and get on with it.
MR. SPEAKER: Would it be agreed also that our guests be allowed to remain In the House during the vote?
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.
MR. SPEAKER: Then on the amendment put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, I'd like to call the question.
The member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) has left the chamber. The Chair put the question after he left the chamber. I'm duty bound to call him.
We are going to read the division list and then we'll deal with the next one. If it's with the concurrence of the House — I gather there may be more than one — we will do the others on a stacked basis.
Amendment negatived on the following division:
[ Page 8855 ]
YEAS - 26
NAYS - 40
|S. Hagen||Richmond||Vander Zalm|
MS. MARZARI: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make an amendment to the Premier's motion, to add after the words, "members' services, " the following: "women's equality."
HON. MR. RICHMOND: You weren't listening to the throne speech.
MS. MARZARI: I was listening to the throne speech, Mr. Member, and it makes this motion even more appropriate. This amendment would establish select standing committee in this House on women's equality, and it would try to deal with women's realities, as they face the workplace, their family life their reproductive choice and abortion. This amendment could deal urgently with keeping women's centres open in this province. At this very moment, Mr. Speaker, women are gathered at the Secretary of State office in downtown Vancouver to deal with the fact and to demonstrate and protest the closure of women's centres. This amendment, this standing committee, could deal with the Premier's personal support for the recriminalization of women seeking abortions, and their doctors. The adoption of this amendment could be a major step for this House in recognizing its responsibility to truly advance women's equality in our province.
MR. SPEAKER: There's no motion required at this point. The Chair stands correct on that matter. A motion is required only when we are dealing with a bill. We are not dealing with that at this time.
MR. HARCOURT: I rise to support the amendment, I did listen very carefully to the throne speech, as the government House Leader said. I did hear it, but I'll tell you what I didn't hear, Mr. Speaker — I didn't hear any mention of child care; I didn't hear any mention of dealing with poverty, which mostly affects women and children. I didn't hear any of that, and I listened for it. And I didn't hear anything about the struggle that many women are going through in this province, having sit-ins in federal offices to deal with the lack of funding for women's centres, no emergency funding for women's centres, cut off by the federal government and not backed up by this provincial government at all — except for further studies.
And even worse, on International Women's Day the minister presented the women of this province after eight months of study and after three years of ignoring that women exist in this province — three medals and a logo to help the women of this province.
We did not hear in the throne speech that this government was prepared to say no to the abortion bill that is before the federal government. By that silence in the throne speech and the silence of the Minister of Health (Hon. J. Jansen), the Minister of Women's Programs (Hon. Mrs. Gran), the Attorney General (Hon. Mr. Smith) and the Premier, they support turning women who seek abortions into criminals.
So I am not surprised to see that those issues were not dealt with in the throne speech, because of the attitude that this government has towards the very important issue of women's equality. These are urgent issues. We need a legislative committee to fight for the rights of the women in British Columbia,
HON. MRS. GRAN: Mr. Speaker, to use the words of the first member for Vancouver-Point Grey (Ms. Marzari), the motion is too little, too late. This government has already acted. In case you didn't notice, on November 1 of last year the Premier appointed a woman as Minister Responsible for Women's Programs in this province. As minister, I have traveled this province listening to the concerns of women and I have heard the concerns of those women, and I think the evidence that those concerns have been listened to is there, loud and clear, for even the NDP to see in the throne speech.
I would also like to point out the disregard and lack of respect that the Leader of the Opposition has for women — for the women in his own caucus. On each occasion that I have seen him in public he has upstaged the woman he has given the job as critic for women's programs, and today is no exception.
HON. MRS. GRAN: Perhaps I did use the wrong word, because I don't believe you upstaged her; you simply took her job away from her. You only care about women in a skimped way. If you cared about women, you would allow them to make the motions
[ Page 8856 ]
and to make the points from that side of the House known. It was never more evident than in Vancouver when the Leader of the Opposition stood in a lineup for one hour and took the place of a woman who does not have a forum like the Legislature, to again take the place of his critic to deal with women's issues.
HON. MRS. GRAN: Mr. Speaker, this side of the House cares In a very deep way about the women of this province, and the ten select standing committees that exist can deal with all of the issues. I don't believe that women's issues can be dealt with in isolation, even though the NDP would like to isolate women.
I want to point out to the House that I have also, as Minister Responsible for Women's Programs in this province, appointed a committee of women from all over this province that no one on either side of this House could argue with. It is my opinion, and the opinion of this government, that it is as Important for those women to be involved in the process of putting in place programs for women as it is for elected members. In my opinion, there is no need for the committee suggested by the member opposite.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: On a point of order, I would just seek some advice from the opposition House Leader as to the intent of this debate. It's traditional on these that we have two speakers from each side. You've already put up two. I was just wondering If you Intend to continue this debate, and if we should all get up for five or ten minutes and speak on this issue.
MR. SPEAKER: It's not a point of order, but it is a point of information, and the opposition House Leader may wish to comment on it.
MR. ROSE: I would like to thank the government House Leader for his question. It really depends on the kind of response we get. I'm quite certain we wouldn't need three speakers if you would just accept some of our positive suggestions.
We have really no desire to prolong this. We would urge that all members who participate in this debate be verbally parsimonious— as parsimonious as possible. That, I'm afraid, is all the information I can give you.
MR. GABELMANN: Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to be parsimonious enough and not pugilistic.
MR. ROSE: Or pusillanimous.
MR. GABELMANN: I can't say that word.
Mr. Speaker, I am rising to support the motion put by the first member for Vancouver-Point Grey (Ms. Marzari) who, incidentally, was the first speaker at the meeting that the minister referred to — the meeting in Vancouver. She belongs to a party that believes in sharing all of these issues. These are issues important to all people in British Columbia. We do not leave women's issues or issues of concern simply to women, but rather to all members.
The minister says: "This government has already acted." What have they done? They have appointed a minister without budget for women's programs, who has done what? Provided medals for women in British Columbia. This is at a time when women's incomes have gone down as a proportion of men's incomes in this province in the last years of Social Credit from 65 cents to 62 cents for every dollar that men earn.
The minister says: "This government has acted." The minister says that we should have faith in and trust the committee that she has appointed and not have a legislative committee. We on this side of the House believe that all matters of urgent public business — and this is among the most important of all of them — should be referred to and dealt with by people who are elected by the people of this province. That is those of us in this chamber. We can do that through the means of a legislative committee if you would only support this amendment.
AN HON. MEMBER: Can we break for coffee?
HON. MRS. JOHNSTON: I beg your pardon.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Withdraw!
HON. MRS. JOHNSTON: I think the second member for Victoria's (Mr. Blencoe's) comments with reference to me making the coffee is a very significant indication of the attitude that some of the male members on the socialist side of the House have.
Speaking against the amendment, I think it's important that we reflect back to a couple of very specific instances that play a great deal of importance and depict the hypocrisy of the suggestion that another committee be set up.
First and foremost, I think it's important that we refer — each of us now has a copy — to the Speech from the Throne that was made only today, wherein the statement was made with regard to an introduction of a framework for pay equity programs for the British Columbia public service. It encourages other public service employers to achieve similar goals, specifically to be brought in with regard to female employees. The pay equity is very significant to me. The other area is the significance given to the new position Minister Responsible for Women's Programs (Hon. Mrs. Gran).
For the record, on a number of occasions this government has indicated a willingness to work as best we can to improve the position of women in our province. But we should look at what happened from 1972 to 1975, when there were demands placed on the government of the day, time and time again, for some minor recognition to be given to the importance of women in the province. Did the government of 1972 to 1975 take any initiative? Absolutely not.
[ Page 8857 ]
We then have comments coming from some members on the opposite side of the House when reference is made to women's issues and women present at meetings, and we hear snide remarks of Scotch and sofa. Mr. Speaker, it is appropriate that we vote against the recommendation and close the session for the day.
MR. ROSE: We are asking for a division. We do not intend to let it go through on division. We would like a standing vote, but we don't need the five minutes.
MR. SPEAKER: I might advise hon. members that the Chair has been advised that television coverage ceases at 1700 hours. It may assist you in your deliberations.
MR. ROSE: All who may want to be here are not here. The member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) has not had a chance to resume his seat. I would suggest that we wait the required time.
MR. SPEAKER: The House has already given the Chair the authority to operate without the three minutes, and therefore the Chair is going to recognize that prerogative.
Motion negatived on the following division:
YEAS - 26
NAYS - 40
|S. Hagen||Richmond||Vander Zalm|
MR. SPEAKER: We have a number of guests with us on the floor and in the gallery. The guests in the gallery are free to leave at any time. The guests on the floor may find it difficult to do, but they may have made transportation arrangements that require them to leave the chamber. The Chair and the members now will accept that we've gone a little longer than we normally anticipate you being here, so we will not consider you rude if you leave at this time.
MR. BLENCOE: I rise to make an amendment to the motion to add, after the words "social services, " the word "housing." This amendment would establish a...
MR. BLENCOE: The sheep have returned, Mr. Speaker.
... select standing committee on housing. The intent of the motion is not for more studies, more rhetoric, more press releases announcing and reannouncing housing programs, but to commence an action plan to deal with the housing crisis in British Columbia, particularly the demolition of good, affordable housing which forces British Columbians onto the streets where they are unable to find alternative affordable accommodation.
Renters are in a crisis in British Columbia. Thirty-six percent of all British Columbians rent. Not even this government can ignore their needs. The group on the lawns today represented one million people who rent their homes in British Columbia. Young British Columbians cannot afford to buy a home, especially on the lower mainland.
If this House accepts this amendment, I'll forward, when the committee meets, a proposal for a 30-day mandate for the committee to draft an action plan to deal with the following:
1. To bring back to British Columbia the office of the rentalsman to deal fairly with tenants and to restore fairness in the market for one million people in the province of British Columbia.
2. To establish a rent stabilization program to protect tenants from a small minority of owners who are demanding unjustified rent increases — the power to roll back unjustified rent increases by a rent stabilization program.
3. Legislation that would permit municipal control of demolitions. Every day we see good housing being demolished to be replaced by half-million dollar housing. People want action on demolition.
4. To increase the supply of starter homes in the province. Young people want to own their own homes, and we want to start a program that will allow them their own homes. You ignore young people. We want an action program that will start to double the non-profit and co-op housing so that we can have an affordable housing program in this great province of ours.
With good will and some common sense, which we haven't seen much of today from the other side of this House, this Legislature can do something to be remembered. This session could be remembered for having done something to help those hardest hit in the housing crunch. One million people are asking us for action, and I urge you to support a select standing
[ Page 8858 ]
committee to come back with a housing program that meets the needs of British Columbians today and tomorrow.
HON. MR. DUECK: Mr. Speaker, there's one thing we learn from history, and that is that we learn nothing from history. What I'm trying to say is that when we look at what has happened to countries that wanted to have control over everything in their lives.... This member mentioned control over everything — control, control, control. He knows very well that when you look at history or at any province or any country in the world that has tried to correct housing with controls, it has not worked. If you look at the countries that have had socialism and tried to control housing, and did in fact control housing, they have the worst situation ever recorded in history. That is why they are now changing. That is why they are now saying: let the private sector get involved.
But I do admit that there are times of crisis when governments have to jump-start or help somewhat to get the situation into place.
I would also mention to the opposition member that talk is very cheap. He is talking about a plan, a strategy, a committee. We can study this thing to death. We know what the problem is, and so do they: it is supply. We need supply. You're not going to do it with a committee; you're not going to do it with talk; you're not going to do it with pure puffery. It will not work. You have to get down to basics, and that's what this government is doing. In fact, last year's budget speech announced just about $1 billion of housing strategy expenditure.
The member knows very well. But again, on a day when it should be formalities — and we have a lot of visitors here — it should be a time.... At the beginning of the session they start on this role of opposition to make some political cheap shots to try and get some headlines because the cameras are here. It won't work; it just won't work.
I want to expand a bit on what this government has done as far as housing is concerned. This government entered into a rental supply program in the budget speech of last year. There were 4,000 units introduced that would be built — approval given for that particular fiscal year. I got into this ministry and was successful in doubling that. That made 8,000.
The member also knows very well that you cannot build a house overnight like you can stock a grocery store, where you run out of goods, order them in and fill the shelf. That doesn't happen with housing.
I have to further mention that perhaps he should look at his socialist friends that are in municipal government that hold up development again and again. I have had members of municipal governments phone me and say, "What's the government doing about housing?" only to find out the next day 50 or 60 units were turned down because they didn't want it in their back yard. It's the old NIMBY syndrome, and the elected people stand up and look at the public hearing attendance and say: "Oh, gosh, it may affect my vote." Then they look at the provincial government: "What's the government doing?" We can only do whatever the municipal governments allow to happen in that municipality. But I have to tell you, there's been quite a change in municipal attitude because they know there is a problem in housing, and they are now beginning to come on side.
This government is doing more for housing than any government has done in the history of British Columbia.
Over and above that we also take our full allotment of social housing every year. We now have had notice from the federal government that they've cut us back 15 percent. Let it be on the record that I think again the west is being shafted, because we're not getting our share of allocation of social housing. There's no question about it. I've been back east many times, and I've talked to the Minister of State for Housing to try to correct that and get more money for social housing.
Talk is cheap. You can talk all you want; that's not going to build one single house. We want action, and that's what this government is doing.
MS. CULL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support this amendment to establish a select standing committee on housing. This is not about cheap shots; this is about one of the most important issues facing this Legislature. We don't need just emergency shelters; we need far more in this province. People in British Columbia need homes. In greater Victoria alone we have over 700 families and seniors on waiting-lists for affordable housing. The managers of non-profit housing projects are forced to play God and determine who will get the few units available.
We have to address this issue urgently, and what we need is a comprehensive approach. But we don't get it. We get piecemeal action. In 1979 we had a separate Ministry of Housing, and it was attached to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and since then has been passed around from one ministry to the next like a poor relation. Staff has been cut, expertise has gone, and as a result we don't have in this government the capacity to deal with housing in a comprehensive fashion.
This committee could fill that void and, in cooperation with developers, local governments, tenants, landlords and community groups, develop a comprehensive housing strategy that would ensure all British Columbians have that fundamental need for secure, affordable housing met.
Members, I urge you to support this amendment.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: I certainly welcome the new member for Oak Bay-Gordon Head to this House, and I'm sure she'll enjoy her stay, although it's not getting off to too great a start, because, unfortunately, your party has somehow set an example today that we haven't seen in this House for a long while, if ever. However, be that as it may, we welcome you in any event.
But the figure you used when you said 10,000 units, as mentioned by the minister responsible for housing in government, is not enough units.... I
[ Page 8859 ]
would urge you to look up the record for the years '72, '73, '74 and '75 when the socialist government then in power produced, on average, less than 2,000 per year. As a matter of fact, those were mostly purchased at inflated prices, and there was one....
SOME HON. MEMBERS: From their friends.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: From their friends, it's suggested. I didn't say that. But I can tell you there was one such housing development in Burnaby. I was in municipal government at the time, so certainly all of us at the local level were well aware of what was happening and were certainly extremely concerned. As a matter of fact, you remember, Mr. Member, it was about that time that many members from other political parties all began to join Social Credit because they saw the disaster that was happening in this province.
I was in local government. I was one of those members that joined Social Credit because I was concerned about my children and grandchildren and the future of this province. I could see what was happening. It was total disaster.
One of those disasters was an apartment complex that the socialists bought in Burnaby. If you recall, it was so bad that no one would move into it. Finally, when we took over government — and fortunately — we had to dispose of the thing. It ended up being demolished, as I recall.
AN HON. MEMBER: We had to rebuild it.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Yes, the demolition crew was no longer in charge, so we had to rebuild the thing.
I got up because I wanted to comment on this debate. I also wanted to add to the debate in the hopes that the first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Williams) would get up and speak in this debate. The member for Vancouver East could speak on this particular motion and tell how the NDP socialists always have two standards: one for everybody else and one for themselves.
I was reminded of this.... I'll bring this to the House when we take up this debate again. I'll read the whole article when we begin to debate housing again. I have this article from a magazine some years ago. It shows these houses that had just been constructed. They were owned by Mr. Bob Williams, and his solicitor was a Mr. James Lorimer. There was a great controversy — all of you might recall. Tenants were being kicked out by the then landlords, because he was converting these units to self-owned units from what was rental accommodation. The socialists have two standards: one for themselves, one for everybody else.
I can recall as well, when I served in local government, that the socialists were against any kind of development. The socialists would stand up and speak against this development, because it was somehow popular for the socialists to be anti-development. You know it hasn't changed a whole lot. The socialists are still socialists. They may sound a little different. They may wear blue suits and red roses, but they're really no different from what they've always been.
The evidence is there in a poll recently done by the construction industry. The industry is concerned about keeping up with the demand. It's true. What we've seen in this province is unprecedented in the sense that we saw more housing units built in this province in the last quarter than were built in Ontario. We're leading the country. We're the leaders.
There was little housing crisis in '74 and '75, because people were leaving this province in droves. I suppose some would argue that one way to resolve the housing crisis in this province would be to elect the NDP. Everyone will leave. But what a price to pay to resolve the housing crisis, to return to the disaster that existed in '72, '73, '74 and '75. But perhaps then maybe things will be different. I can recall when the Leader of the Opposition approached a business group in Vancouver, and with him was the member for North Island (Mr. Gabelmann), The member for North Island said: "Well, this will never happen again. I was naive in those days." They're still naive.
I was in local government and I was seeing then what was happening. As I said, the socialists haven't changed. They're not fooling the people. I'll tell you, all you need do is look at a survey that was recently done by the construction industry, and they'll tell you the worst communities for accommodation, and they'll still tell you the worst communities to get approvals for new units of apartments or condominiums or housing of any type. They'll tell you it's the socialist mayor in Surrey who's doing it. Try to build in Surrey. Try to cope with the socialist mayor in Surrey, or the socialist mayor in Victoria or Burnaby. Try it.
Mr. Leader of the Opposition, if you want to help the housing situation, talk to your socialist friends at the local level and tell them they can't be anti-development. They can't be spouting off, as socialists do, about their concern and then vote against everything that's proposed in their community.
Mr. Speaker, I too regret what's happening here this afternoon. Our guests are being kept, and I suppose this may be the last motion because the TV cameras are now gone. Perhaps the NDP will now allow our guests to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. The TV cameras have just been turned off.
MS. SMALLWOOD: I am entertained and amused, as I am sure everyone else in the House is, after the last speaker. The last speaker is absolutely correct. The more things change, the more they stay the same. We have been amused and entertained for the last three years, but that doesn't help in facing the people in our constituencies who are being evicted.
Mr. Speaker, we moved this motion in good faith, because we believe that the housing crisis in Vancouver and the lower mainland — and indeed in the province — is a crisis that needs cooperation and a forum so we can begin to resolve some of these
[ Page 8860 ]
problems, and bring elected people together to work out a strategy that will allow us to work with all three levels of government.
Mr. Speaker, let me talk a little about the reality that this government has brought to this province over and above the entertainment and amusement.
Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker and the members of the House and of the gallery, of this government's record. We don't have to go too far to remind the people of this province of this government's record as it relates to the Expo land sales. I think It has been said many times in the press that the natives on the east coast did a lot better than the people of this province did; at least they got beads for the sale of their land.
This is the only government that I am aware of that can sell downtown, prime residential property and lose money in a real estate boom. We have a housing crisis in the lower mainland, and this government sells downtown land in a prime real estate market and loses taxpayers' money — our assets. This government has had opportunity to provide affordable housing not only with the Expo lands, but with the land in Westwood and other land sales. And what have they done? They have sold our assets — the people's assets — and they have lost money. They not only have not addressed the housing crisis, but they have put us further in the hole.
This government and the minister responsible suggested that with the cutbacks to the federal budget, it is making it more difficult for him to deal with the housing crisis. Again, I'd like to remind this government that they asked for those cutbacks, and it's too damned late for you to start bemoaning it.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The scope of the debate on these amendments — as members must realize — is virtually unlimited, or the Chair would have tried to bring the matter to order a little sooner. But we must ask the member to withdraw unparliamentary language used during her debate.
MS. SMALLWOOD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I withdraw that reference.
I would ask the government to support the motion. It's a motion that will give an opportunity for us to sit down and begin to address the very serious problem that is in front of all of us.
HON. MR. JACOBSEN: Out of respect to the visitors here, I'll keep my remarks short. I do have to comment on it, because the first member for Victoria talked about rent controls, and I understand they have done a great deal of talking about rent controls recently. I am somewhat confused by that, because I follow along with what their policies are supposed to be. I noticed that in the Vancouver Sun on January 19, the Leader of the Opposition is quoted as saying: "I don't believe in rent controls and never have."
HON. MR. JACOBSEN: I recognize that we do have a bit of a rental problem in British Columbia, and that's because this province is attracting people from all over Canada who want to share in the prosperity and the jobs that exist here. The result of that is, of course, that there has been pressure on rental accommodations. The Minister of Social Services and Housing (Hon. Mr. Dueck) has spoken on the initiatives that the government has taken to deal with that.
On the issue of rent controls, the majority of landlords have been responsible and have kept their rents within reason. But there are some who have got out of line; I have to confess that. You wonder why people would do it. Just this afternoon — and that's what I'd like to bring to the attention of the House — I talked to one such landlord in Victoria. I asked him why he had increased his rents to the extent that he had, because it was imposing — I felt and have been told — a hardship on his tenants. He told me that the main reason he had done it was because he had heard so much and had been lobbied so much by the NDP about what they would do if they had control of the situation that he would not be able to participate freely in his business if they were ever in control. He thought there was a need to perhaps bring his rents up to line at this time.
HON. MR. JACOBSEN: Let me tell you what I did. I explained to that particular landlord what the real likelihood of the NDP ever forming the government in British Columbia was. When I finished, he volunteered to reduce his rent increases from 38 percent to 15 percent, based on the continuation of good, responsible government in British Columbia.
HON. MR. BRUMMET: I'll be brief, but I did want to bring it back to the original motion. I believe the first member for Victoria moved an amendment to add a committee, and because he said that not enough had happened, there must be action and things had to happen along those lines. Under the pretence of moving an amendment to add a committee, that member has generated a considerable amount of debate. To his misfortune, of course, the cameras left before he got well underway. It was a pretence.
If it was in fact a motion in good faith to get some action, then I'm concerned that illiteracy is probably far more widespread on that side than I would have hoped. If you read this — and I don't know whether it's illiteracy or incompetence — the motion under which they've added another committee says, after the list of committees, "which said committees shall severally be empowered to examine and inquire into all such matters and things as shall be referred to them by this House and to report from time to time their observations and opinions thereon."
It doesn't sound like an action committee. I think their members have in fact given us the best argument to defeat this amendment to add another com-
[ Page 8861 ]
mittee. Let's get away from this cheap tactic of trying to generate debate on a day like this, because you know you couldn't generate any debate on any other topic but an amendment, so it's a cheap pretence to get in on this type of debate.
Amendment negatived on the following division:
YEAS - 24
NAYS - 40
|S. Hagen||Richmond||Vander Zalm|
MR. PETERSON: On a point of order, I believe that the second member for Vancouver South was not in his chair at the time of the division.
MR. SPEAKER: No, the second member for Vancouver South is the Speaker and he is in the chair. Your point of order is invalid. The member was in fact in the chamber and did vote. He left during the time that the vote was being announced — which we'll discuss with him at another time — but he was here for the vote.
MR. CLARK: For the benefit of the members and their guests, I might say that I rise to make what will be the last amendment to the motion: to add after the words "government services," the words "and the goods and services tax." This amendment would establish a select standing committee of the House on the federal government's proposed goods and services tax. The intent of the amendment is to afford an opportunity for British Columbians, through their Legislature, to register their concerns about this odious and regressive tax. In addition, it affords the opportunity for bipartisan opposition. This House could demonstrate to the federal government that it is united in opposition to the implementation of the GST. Most importantly, the committee could put an end to the collaboration we are seeing by this government in the implementation of the GST. This government today is helping the federal Tories to implement the GST, and I ask all members to support this motion and end this government's collaboration with this tax.
HON. MR. COUVELIER: I'm delighted to have the opportunity of speaking to the general question of this government's attitude to the goods and services tax. The amendment, as expressed by the member, would suggest that there is some confusion in the minds of the opposition — unlike all the members of this side of the House — as to where we stand on the goods and services tax.
The fact of the matter is that we have been categoric in our comments about that subject and have consistently told the federal government that the goods and services tax will be inflationary, will be difficult to administer and will lead to confusion and chaos in the marketplace. There is absolutely no need to add to the burdens of the House by creating yet another topic for a committee to examine. The fact of the matter is that every single committee nominated by the Premier can deal and is fully capable of dealing with that subject, and I would invite any members of the opposition who wish to make a contribution towards forming government's policy coming out of those various committees, as it may relate to the goods and services tax, to feel perfectly free to do so. There's hardly any need to deal with the subject in this way.
I might also suggest that I had always assumed that it was the courtesy of the House for both sides to give some prior notice of intentions to engage in the posturing and the puffery — to use the words of my colleague — that have been going on this afternoon. I think that this slight departure from the normal decorum and courtesies of the House should be noted by all of our guests, because I suspect that the coming session is going to be a very interesting one indeed. In any event, there is no need for having this obligation added to the committee, and so I would suggest that this government vote against the amendment.
MR. ROSE: I wasn't going to speak directly to this item, but I will. I thought I was going to be in here for a little wrap-up session, but I see the Premier is anxious for us to get out of here. He's also anxious to make long speeches. I wondered about that, since the motion....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. ROSE: I regret, especially after the remarks of the Minister of Finance that he opposes the goods and services tax, that he does not accept this amendment as a possible change in title.
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MR. ROSE: I understand that I'm getting a great deal of help from across the hall here on my speech. I'm told that I need all the help I can get, and I've heard that many times before.
I've gone through every opening day of Hansard back to 1980, and there have been opportunities and examples where the government has accepted opposition amendments and taken them as part and parcel of government policy.
MR. ROSE: I can name them any time I wish. The Bennett government in 1981 accepted an amendment at this very same juncture during the appointment of the select committee. I'm very concerned, because I think these amendments were offered in a very positive kind.... These positive suggestions show and should demonstrate how a bipartisan House could get together and work on the problems facing British Columbians: the status of women, ethics, taxation and a number of other pressing things, such as housing. I deeply regret that the government has seen fit to stonewall our positive efforts in this House, and instead, rejects, repudiates and holds in contempt the efforts from this side to try and bring in some of the other ideas in the House rather than the monopoly on truth that exists over there.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: I would remind the members of the opposition that it was this government that was the first to provide the government in Ottawa with an alternative to the GST.
I realize that the opposition have not mentioned the fact that an alternative was provided to the government in Ottawa, and already I'm hearing from across the floor: "What was it?" I can appreciate that you probably didn't pay a whole lot of attention, because our proposal does not fit in well with socialist philosophy. We said, "Cut the bureaucracy and cut the size of government, " and that doesn't fit socialist philosophy. When we didn't get a response from the opposition on that, when we didn't get a response from the opposition to the proposal that Ottawa should cut its fat bureaucracy, I thought perhaps it was because of this.
As time went on and the Leader of the Opposition spoke at various functions and to different groups, he never again mentioned GST. The reason that he never mentioned GST, I found out — it's come to me indirectly — is that he knows that this side will then point to the socialist governments that have tried the GST under another name. They started at 8, 9 and 10 percent, and now, like Sweden, are up to 23 ½ percent. That's why the socialists didn't want to get involved in that debate. That's why you've been so quiet on the GST. That's why you've not spoken out on behalf of your constituents: you know it is a socialist approach to things: more taxes, leave the bureaucracy, leave the size of the government, big government, impose more taxes. That's why you've been silent on GST.
The GST will be a disaster for this province, as we believe it will be for the country. We've said this repeatedly and we'll say this again. They should take the example of British Columbia during tough times, when we practiced proper restraint despite the opposition, their filibustering and being opposed to it in every way.
Mr. Speaker, we will continue to fight the GST and not hide and speak out only occasionally at an event like today, as we see from the critic on the New Democratic Party socialist side, who's never spoken much about this until today in the House. We'll continue to speak out on this. As has been stated by our side, by this responsible, good government, we will not voluntarily collect the GST.
MR. HARCOURT: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier didn't say is that with the Social Credit government we got cuts from the federal government to British Columbia and the GST.
Speaking about who has been opposed to this tax, during the last federal election the only party that came out and opposed the GST was the New Democrats. I didn't see the Premier or any of these people opposing it. All those federal Tories over there supported the GST, and the Liberals over there didn't know what they supported. After the federal election, we came to this House last spring and I stood up and asked the Premier — "Are you going to oppose the GST?" He said: "Yes. Or my other answer is no." After that wishy-washy answer we usually get from the Premier, our finance critic asked the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Couvelier), and he said: "My answer is yes. No." He wouldn't come out and say he was opposed to the GST.
Then we said: "What are you going to do about it?" Do you know what he did? He went into his back room, got his calculator out and tried to figure: "Is it one-tenth? Is it one-twelfth? I'm not quite sure." He phoned up the Minister of Finance and said: "Mr. Wilson, I've got a better idea. We don't want a 7 percent or 9 percent GST. We want a 10 percent GST, and we'll split the take. Between us we've already ripped off British Columbians for $3,000 in the last three years. Let's bring in a better idea."
Speaking about who won't appear at meetings, I was in Kelowna a few weeks ago speaking against the GST. Do you know who was there? The New Democrats, the B.C. Federation of Labour, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Preston Manning, and Link Byfield. No Socred was there, because the Social Credit government isn't listening to the people of British Columbia. They wouldn't allow their MLAs from Kelowna to attend the meeting.
This was a chance for the Social Credit government to finally stand up for the people of British Columbia, and they blew it on the GST.
HON. MR. SMITH: The Leader of the Opposition has made a number of claims this afternoon in relation to the GST. I think, for the record, it's
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important to restate, as the Premier did just a few moments ago, that British Columbia will not voluntarily collect the GST. The reason we should restate that is that the opposition has consistently gone up and down the province and said that British Columbia is cooperating to establish a scheme to collect the GST. Those comments — whatever their source and no matter from what direction you watch his lips — are false. The British Columbia position is clear and unmistakable. It has been stated over and over again: British Columbia will not voluntarily collect the GST — period, full stop.
When the Leader of the Opposition went to Kelowna.... He is quite correct: he did go to Kelowna, to a meeting where the audience was attracted by the Reform Party leader. He doesn't easily attract audiences of any size in Kelowna. Most importantly, in that audience to which he spoke, they did indeed watch his lips, and they booed what he said.
In relation to the GST and all those many other issues between British Columbia and Canada at this time, it will be important for electors in the next number of weeks, days and months to understand who it is who will best and most ably stand up on behalf of British Columbia. That will be the issue. It will be important for the people of British Columbia to know in this issue, and others, that we will not refer it to pablum-seeking committees, where we massage it and we yack about it. The electors will want in British Columbia a government that is sufficiently independent of other pulling-of-the-cord organizations from central Canada, be they the Canadian Labour Congress or the national NDP organization.... Social Credit and the Social Credit government can and will stand up on behalf of the people of British Columbia.
To make the point more clearly: when you go to Ottawa on behalf of British Columbia, you must go there with the knowledge that British Columbians are proudly Canadian; but there are interests that have to be advanced by British Columbians for British Columbians on behalf of British Columbians by parliamentarians from British Columbia, be they in this Legislature or in the Parliament of Canada.
Most recently, the Polar 8 is the great example. In Ottawa, representing British Columbia, New Democrats by the name of Brewin, Barrett and McDonald stood in that House day after day, in committee and in the chamber, and demanded that Michael Wilson balance the budget by cutting defence-related contracts and, lo and behold, if he didn't listen to them David Barrett, John Brewin and Lynn McDonald cost jobs in Esquimalt, supported ably by Dave Barrett's campaign manager, the member for Esquimalt-Port Renfrew (Mr. Sihota), and let no British Columbian forget that.
We and the people of British Columbia will be watching their lips to be certain that when the time comes to vote on the choices that we are all going to have to make as electors very soon, it will be known clearly. The people will know and understand what is said here and there, who is prepared to put issues forward clearly and simply to the people of British Columbia and who is prepared to avoid them, as they do in the Carmanah by running them off to yet another committee.
MR. SIHOTA: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order,
I don't intend to....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'd like to hear the member's point of order.
MR. SIHOTA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to state for the record that there were a number of inaccuracies in what the Attorney-General had to say. 1 don't want to recite them all, but as an example, Lynn McDonald is no longer a member of the House of Commons and has not been for a year and a half.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am listening to one point of order. The member is perfectly entitled to speak without calling a point of order, as there is absolutely no limit to the scope of debate other than the fact that I'm eyeing a clock at the other end of the room, which might move our proceedings into tomorrow. There's no limit to his debate on this particular issue. So if the member wishes to stand and make a speech on that basis, he may. If he has a point of order, he may make a point of order. I am listening for the member's point of order. I would prefer to finish listening to his point of order before I deal with the House Leader's point of order.
MR. SIHOTA: That's fine. I think the point is on the record and the inaccuracy noted.
HON. MR. SMITH: I would like to respond to that member's point of order and to correct the record indeed and to say it in sequence: the people responsible for the loss of the Polar 8 were David Barrett, John Brewin and Lynn Hunter.
MR. SPEAKER: I propose to call the question on what I'm writing in the journals as amendment No. 4.
Amendment negatived on the following division:
YEAS - 25
[ Page 8864 ]
NAYS - 39
HON. MR. RICHMOND: It Is with a great deal of pleasure and a privilege that I move that F.C.A. Pelton, Esquire, first member for Dewdney, be appointed Deputy Speaker for this session of the Legislative Assembly.
MR. ROSE: I am pleased and honoured to offer as a seconder to the very refined, congenial member for Dewdney.
MR. SPEAKER: This is one particular piece of business that the Chair is interested in as well.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: It is with an equal amount of pleasure that I move that Mr. Harry De Jong, Esquire, second member for Central Fraser Valley electoral district, be appointed Deputy Chairman of Committee of the Whole for this session of the Legislative Assembly.
MR. ROSE: Again, I am pleased to second the nomination by the government House Leader of the member for Central Fraser Valley, Mr. Harry De Jong. I offer our best wishes for a great session and wonderful cooperation with him in the chair.
Hon. Mr. Brummet tabled the annual report of the Ministry of Education, effective to June 30, 1989.
MR. SPEAKER: Just prior to the motion for adjournment, the Chair would like to advise all members and guests who have exercised their patience by staying this long that a certain amount of refreshments and other edibles has been made available through the courtesy of the Chair. For those of you who were here last year, we have expanded the format somewhat so crowding won't be so necessary. We invite you to join us in the rotunda or in the Speaker's lobby.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: It is also with a great deal of pleasure that I move the House do now adjourn.
The House adjourned at 5:56 p.m.