1981 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 32nd Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
MONDAY, MAY 11, 1981
[ Page 5507 ]
Windermere Lodge dispute. Mr. Cocke –– 5507
Hiring of crew to film Premier in Kamloops. Mrs. Dailly –– 5507
Mr. Hall –– 5508
Ombudsman investigation of Eckardt redistribution commission, Mr. Leggatt –– 5508
Status of Ian Jessiman. Mr. Hall –– 5509
Committee of Supply: Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources estimates.
(Hon. Mr. McClelland)
On vote 65: minister's office –– 5510
Hon. Mr. Fraser
MONDAY, MAY 11, 1981
The House met at 2 p.m.
HON. MR. FRASER: In the gallery today is my wife, accompanied by a citizen, Mrs. Helen O'Neill, who has lived all her life in British Columbia but has never been in Victoria before. Her home is Hixon, B.C., which used to be in the Cariboo and is now in the Prince George South riding. She is a great supporter of this great government, and I'd like to introduce her.
MR. D'ARCY: In the gallery and precinct area today from the city of Trail is Cominco's manager of environmental control, not only for the Trail operation, but also for Cominco's interests on a worldwide basis. I'd like the House to welcome Mr. Nigel Doyle.
MR. DAVIDSON: Visiting with us today from Cougar Canyon Elementary School in Delta are 78 students with their teacher Mrs. Sawatsky. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome.
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that a member of our caucus — the member for Burnaby-Edmonds (Ms. Brown) — received an honorary doctorate degree this past weekend from Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax. The bad news, of course, is for the government, because it means there's one more doctor in town.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: I'd like the House to welcome a group of students from the Brookswood Junior Secondary School in Langley, accompanied by their teacher, Cliff Shiskin. I'd like everyone to make them welcome.
MR. LEA: For a number of years before entering politics I worked for CBC radio. I know that most people here, from time to time at least, listen to CBC radio to find out what's happening here. This is CBC Radio Week, for those of you who have been listening. Today I thought it would be fitting to recognize Barry Bell, who is CBC regional reporter for legislative matters.
HON. MR. HEINRICH: I would like the members to welcome Rev. Allan Dawe, who is a good friend of mine and minister of Knox United Church in Prince George.
MR. MUSSALLEM: I have the honour to say that in the gallery today are 35 students from Mission Junior Secondary School, accompanied by their teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Leckie. They are hosting 35 students from John Pritchard School in Winnipeg. They are being billeted in Mission with these students on an exchange basis. They hope to reverse the exchange and go to Winnipeg soon.
HON. MRS. JORDAN: It's a privilege and great pleasure for me to have in the gallery not only an outstanding nurse in British Columbia but a fellow classmate and very good friend for many years. In fact, we shared our quarters at the Vancouver General when we were in training. Mrs. Romer works in long-term care. She is a strong advocate of our program, as well as being a very realistic critic. I ask the House to join me in extending Mrs. Romer a very warm welcome.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, I would also ask the House, on behalf of myself and the second member for Surrey (Mr. Hall), to welcome a group of students visiting from Guildford Park senior secondary school with a group of visitors from Quebec. We are very pleased to see them here today.
WINDERMERE LODGE DISPUTE
MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health. Given the fact that Treasury Board has approved the Health minister's request for funds to cover the costs of standard health-care rates in negotiated collective agreements in long-term care and given the fact that 100 employees at Windermere Cential Park Lodge in Vancouver, which is funded through the long-term care program, have been on strike since April 4, 1981, for precisely those standard rates, has the minister instructed Windermere Central Park Lodge to turn over the funds that were made available to them for payment to their employees or, failing that, to return the funds to general revenue?
HON. MR. NIELSEN: No, Mr. Speaker.
MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, can the minister advise the House who is running the health system? Is it a large corporation such as Trizec, which is a subsidiary of the Bronfman corporation, or is the Health ministry involved in some way?
HON. MR. NIELSEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure I heard the words, but I'm not quite sure what the member is asking.
MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, to clarify the question, the minister wrote to all the long-term care facilities indicating that their rates would be paid from the Ministry of Health, by which they are now being paid. That's a standard rate of around $8 an hour, and these people are being asked to work for $4.50 an hour. I'm just asking what the minister is going to do about directing the disparity.
HON. MR. NIELSEN: Mr. Speaker, I'd be pleased to look into that specific situation at Windermere Lodge to find out where the problems are at the moment. Through various people within the ministry I will certainly determine if funds have been provided to Windermere Lodge which have not been properly disbursed, if the member is suggesting that that is the situation. I will also determine if we're involved in a labour dispute of some kind which cannot — or someone chooses it not to be — resolved. But I would have to look into that and respond to the specific questions asked by the member.
HIRING OF CREW TO
FILM PREMIER IN KAMLOOPS
MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Speaker, to the Provincial Secretary: can he confirm that a film crew which followed the Premier in his travels through the Kamloops riding this past weekend was hired by Douglas Heal and paid for by the taxpayers of British Columbia?
[ Page 5508 ]
HON. MR. WOLFE: No, Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm that, but I'd be happy to take the question as notice.
MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Speaker, this is getting really ridiculous. That minister is in charge of public relations for the government, and he can't ever answer any questions in this House. When he brings that back, I wonder if he would also inform this Legislature how much money this film is costing the taxpayers of B.C., what purpose the film is being used for and when it's going to be used.
I have a final supplementary to the minister. I'm sure he can answer this because it was in the morning paper. I'm sure, like all ministers, he reads it. We'll find out. According to press quotes, there was a very unseemly argument between the minister's own public relations deputy, Mr. Heal, and the Premier's press secretary. My question to the Provincial Secretary — whether he has read it or not — is: are you going to do anything about this unseemly fighting that is taking place on the Hollywood set of the government? What are you going to do about it?
MR. SPEAKER: Only that portion of the question which refers to what the minister has already done is in order.
HON. MR. WOLFE: It occurs to me, Mr. Speaker, that the nature of the question itself is unseemly. Am I to be asked to answer questions on conjecture, newspaper articles, etc.? I've undertaken to take the previous question on notice.
MRS. DAILLY: I want to assure the House that it wasn't a facetious question. When we have fighting and arguments going on between two different departments, I think the minister has the responsibility to tell the House that he's going to clean up the Socred PR act.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Hon. member, may I remind the House that the purpose of question period is to ask questions and not to enter into debate and make statements.
MR. HALL: I have some supplementaries for the same minister on the same subject.
MR. SPEAKER: It's difficult to ask a supplementary on a question that's taken on notice. A new question would be in order.
MR. HALL: I have new questions to do with the same subject.
The subject is the same, and will continue to be the same, Mr. Speaker, until we make this government desist from the wasteful expenditure of moneys in this regard. The subject is the continuing saga of the communications problems that the government on the other side of the House has.
MR. SPEAKER: The member has a question?
MR. HALL: I would like to know if the Provincial Secretary, through his communications deputy minister, has sent copies of these Hollywood-type, government-sponsored movies to the film classification officer.
HON. MR. WOLFE: It never ceases to be interesting how the opposition is so concerned about the government providing public information. It's completely baffling that they would want information suppressed. Day after day they stand in this House and criticize our attempts to try to provide public information. It's pretty obvious that they don't want that to happen. I think that the last question from the member for Surrey relates to the one I took on notice to try to get information for the House, having to do with a certain film. From my view, it was entirely facetious to ask whether it had been submitted to the film classification director.
MR. HALL: In view of some of the identification problems that the new public relations deputy is having, can the minister assure the House that he's instructed his staff to provide pictures of Mr. Hal Leiren, Mr. Hugh Harris and Mr. "Whistling" Smith to Douglas Heal to prevent further confusion between all this high-priced help?
HON. MR. WOLFE: No, I cannot, but I can assure the member that the film crew is producing now a film on the past history of the NDP years in this government entitled "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."
MR. HALL: I have another question dealing with the communication gap that the minister has seen fit to hire a public relations deputy for, the communication gap that obviously existed on the return of the Premier from Thompson, Manitoba, and the Minister of Tourism (Hon. Mrs. Jordan).... I wonder if the minister can assure us that his new public relations deputy, in his role in providing communications assistance, has provided a map of the buildings for the Minister of Tourism so that she can get to the Premier's office unescorted.
OMBUDSMAN INVESTIGATION OF
ECKARDT REDISTRIBUTION COMMISSION
MR. LEGGATT: My question is directed to the Attorney-General. It concerns the announcement on May 10 by the ombudsman that he is going to undertake an investigation of Judge Eckardt's redistribution. One of those matters would be the Little Mountain constituency. My question is: has the Attorney-General provided the ombudsman with all the transcripts, letters, correspondence and other materials which were available to Mr. Vogel and Mr. Prelypchan in the initial inquiry, so that he's going to be apprised of all the material that was available to the ministry in their inquiry?
HON. MR.WILLIAMS: No, Mr. Speaker.
MR. LEGGATT: My next question is this: would the Attorney-General advise the House which materials in the ministry of the Attorney-General will not be provided to the ombudsman in his investigation?
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: The response to the member's question would require the giving of a legal opinion. That's not appropriate for question period. [Laughter.] You may laugh, but the ombudsman has just embarked upon his investigation. He will be seeking information from a variety of sources.
MR. LEGGATT: Would the Attorney-General advise the House whether the ombudsman has been provided with the memoranda between Mr. Prelypchan and any members of his staff or himself, or memoranda by Mr. Vogel to any member
[ Page 5509 ]
of his staff or himself? Will those internal memoranda of the ministry be made available?
MR. SPEAKER: If the question is whether it has been made available, it's in order.
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: The answer is no, Mr. Speaker.
MR. LEGGATT: Would the Attorney-General advise the House why he has made the decision to deny that information to the ombudsman?
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: The member misunderstands his question, and therefore the answer. No such decision has been made.
MR. LEGGATT: Will the Attorney-General make available to the ombudsman the notes made by the investigators in his department — whether Mr. Prelypchan or Mr. Vogel — in respect to the interviews they had with the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) and Judge Eckardt? Are those notes going to be made available to the ombudsman so that he can assist himself in the interviews he conducts?
MR. SPEAKER: Only that portion of the question which refers to actions already taken by the minister is in order.
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: No action has yet been taken with respect to this matter. No request has been received, and I wouldn't want to dictate to the ombudsman how he would do his inquiry.
STATUS OF IAN JESSIMAN
MR. HALL: Mr. Ian Jessiman's appointment to the position of Assistant Deputy Attorney-General does not appear to be recorded in order-in-council records. As a consequence, it's unclear to me in what capacity he was hired. Can the Attorney-General inform the House if we have hired an assistant deputy or a consultant?
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Jessiman is not an assistant deputy minister. He takes the senior position in the legal services to government division of the ministry, which is the civil side, and in that respect he may be seen to be a consultant.
MR. HALL: We're told that Mr. Jessiman consults with his old law firm in Winnipeg one week out of every month. Can the minister confirm that the British Columbia government has hired a consulting firm and not an individual for the senior position just referred to by the Attorney-General?
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, we've hired an individual in these circumstances.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I understand it's the practice of the House that a member may attempt at the first opportunity to correct misinformation which was given to the House at an earlier time.
MR. SPEAKER: Only if it affects a portion of an address which the minister himself has given.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Well, Mr. Speaker, I believe it would be in the best interests of the House to know that in question period today — and I'm just seeking guidance on this — one of the members for Burnaby referred to a film crew in Kamloops. I would just like to tell the House that the Premier was not in Kamloops, nor was there a film crew in Kamloops. As someone who was on the scene, I can guarantee that neither Doug Heal, the camera, nor the Premier were in Kamloops over the weekend.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, a statement of that nature at this particular juncture would have to be considered a ministerial statement. It's not a point of order.
MR. KING: If I may respond to the ministerial statement very briefly, Mr. Speaker, I would advise that I was in Kamloops on Saturday morning and clearly saw the Premier of the province, along with the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland), leaving the airport in Kamloops. So the information the minister has just given the House is patently untrue.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, hon. members. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources seeks the floor on what basis?
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Well, Mr. Speaker, just to respond to the direction that you've given me....
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, Oh!
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The minister is out of order.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I think you anticipated something I wasn't about to do. I did not wish to respond to the member. I wish to respond to the direction you gave me that it was more appropriate for a minister to make a ministerial statement than to seek to rise on a point of order. I would like to ask the Speaker if I may be permitted to make a ministerial statement on a matter which refers to me. As a matter of fact, perhaps I don't need permission.
MR. SPEAKER: Ministerial statements are in order.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: I just want to report to the House that because of questions raised by one of the members of this House about a film crew which was apparently in Kamloops — taking film of the Premier, according to the member — I would like to say that I was in attendance with the Premier and the Minister of Forests, and those members did leave the Kamloops airport because it was the only way to get to Logan Lake from Kamloops. I would like to say that at no time was Doug Heal ever there, and I would also like to say that at no time was the camera crew filming the Premier in Kamloops.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Ministerial statements are in order according to the practice of this House. Reply is always anticipated to a ministerial statement; but I must
[ Page 5510 ]
remind the members that we cannot use the vehicle of a ministerial statement to do indirectly what is not in order in other fashion.
MRS. DAILLY: I don't intend to answer the ministerial statement, when I think there is serious doubt whether it was a ministerial statement. I think I may ask you, Mr. Speaker, to kindly rule on whether that member over there has the right, under the guise of a ministerial statement, to enter into debate that took place in question period. I think we should have a ruling on it.
MR. SPEAKER: I think the Chair has already observed on it, and has warned against it.
MR. KING: Just very briefly, Mr. Speaker, the minister did clearly state in his initial comments that the Premier was not in Kamloops. Now the Premier was in Kamloops, and the minister himself subsequently admitted that he was there too. It's understandable that I didn't recognize the minister, because he unquestionably has a lower visibility than some of his colleagues. But the fact is that he was there, and Kamloops airport happens to be within the municipal boundaries of the city of Kamloops. I would advise the minister that he should stick to the exact truth in terms of these comments.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order. A number of times during this session the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) particularly has raised standing order 8, by which every member is bound to attend service of the House unless leave of absence has been given to him by the House. That applies to all members of the House. Certainly that point is raised when even only one member is missing, on business, from the cabinet bench. However, in this particular instance, while many questions have been raised which certainly ought to be for the benefit of all members — government and opposition — I note that almost half of the opposition members are not attending the House today: the first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Barrett), the second member for Vancouver East (Mr. Macdonald)....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, hon. member. The same answer is given when one side of the House raises this point as when other members raise it. That answer is that members are required to attend the House; however, when they attend the precinct of the House it is considered that they are in attendance. It is not for the Chair to determine whether or not they are in the precinct. I cannot assist the minister in his point.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Excuse me, Mr. Speaker. If I may finish my point of order, for the record I would like to have the list and then perhaps we can find out which members were granted leave. There's the first member for Vancouver East, the second member for Vancouver East, the member for Skeena (Mr. Howard), the first member for Vancouver Centre, the second member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Barnes), the member for Nelson-Creston (Mr. Nicolson)....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, hon. member. I think that the Chair has addressed the problem. The House is aware not only of the problem but also of the remedy.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Could you tell us if they were granted leave?
MR. SPEAKER: Would the members please come to order so that we can continue with business.
MR. HALL: Mr. Speaker, I've been attempting to rise on a point of order. During question period the Attorney-General advised me, as a questioner, that he had not hired a certain gentleman as an Assistant Deputy Attorney-General. He said that he didn't hire him as a consultant. I've just been given a official government document. Mr. Speaker, I ask your guidance on it. It has a date of April 1981 on it. It lists as the Assistant Deputy Attorney-General, Legal Services, the very gentleman that I was asking the question about: Mr. Ian L. Jessiman, Q.C. I wonder what your advice is to a questioner, a private member in this House, who asks a question based on government information and receives the kind of answer I got from the Attorney-General.
MR. SPEAKER: Perhaps that matter can be raised in a question period and clarified in that fashion. The member for Maillardville-Coquitlam on a point of order. He's been seeking the floor for quite a while.
MR. LEVI: Mr. Speaker, I seek your guidance. During the statement by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (Hon. Mr. McClelland) I tried to get up on a point of order and.... Is it not appropriate to get up on a point of order during a ministerial statement?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Whenever we have a ministerial statement, the practice of the House is that the House extends the courtesy until the end of the statement. Then a reply is provided for. Other than that, there would be no need for the vehicle of a ministerial statement being allowed at all. It could then just be part of debate at some other point in the proceedings.
MR. LEVI: Further to your statement, today we had the example of the need for a point of order to head off a statement which was clearly not an appropriate ministerial statement.
MR. SPEAKER: It is not for the House to decide what is appropriate for a minister to say. That is at the discretion of the minister, and be accepts the full responsibility for his statement.
Orders of the Day
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Davidson in the chair.
ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF ENERGY,
MINES AND PETROLEUM RESOURCES
On vote 65: minister's officer, $194,679.
[ Page 5511 ]
MR. PASSARELL: Going over some of the issues concerning Amax and the issues that I raised on Friday before we adjourned, I'd like to speak a little bit about permit PE-4335.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, estimates are designed to debate the administrative responsibilities of a certain minister who is under debate at the time. In this instance it's the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. I had some difficulty during Friday afternoon's debate, because I found it not only difficult but impossible to relate the statements and questions that the member for Atlin was asking to any part of my ministry. I didn't say anything at the time, because this is an extremely important question regarding the mine at Kitsault, B.C., but the member says again that he intends to talk about the permit which was issued for pollution-control purposes.
I just bring to the Chairman's attention that no permits of that nature are issued by my ministry. The responsibility for the environmental protection of this mine and other mines of the same nature in the province is under the Ministry of Environment, and I would suggest to the Chairman that the member be advised that the appropriate place to debate the matter of pollution, pollution permits and pollution control is under the minister responsible, who is the Minister of Environment (Hon. Mr. Rogers).
MR. CHAIRMAN: The point is well taken, hon. member. The administrative action of the minister is open, but we cannot discuss the actions for which the minister is not responsible. Bearing that in mind, the member for Atlin continues on vote 65.
MR. PASSARELL: Mr. Chairman, that's probably one of the reasons why this government has fallen into the trap and found itself in the position of presenting cultural genocide on the Nishga people because of this mine at Amax.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. PASSARELL: That's why this minister says he doesn't know anything, Mr. Chairman. The reason this mine is in operation is because this government has given it permits to go ahead and dump mine waste into the ocean. If that minister doesn't understand, he's been a very poor minister concerning his responsibility.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I know that the member hasn't been in this House long, and I also know that he doesn't care much for the rules of this House.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please, hon. member.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: But, Mr. Chairman, these matters are not within the responsibility of my ministry.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. member, the point has been made that the course of action the member is now pursuing is clearly not under the administrative responsibility of the minister in question. An opportunity does exist for that member to canvass the issue. I must again explain that the Chair is bound by the rules that have been established in the House, hon. member. I would ask you to bear that in mind as you continue in his debate of these estimates on vote 65.
MR. LEA: On a point of order, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources made a statement, Mr. Chairman, that the member for Atlin doesn't care whether the rules in here are adhered to or not, putting a motivation to the member. I would ask that the minister withdraw that statement.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please, hon. members. The Chair must ask that if any improper motive or imputation thereof was made, the minister would withdraw that. That is the only thing the Chair can do, hon. members. Did he imply any improper motive, or otherwise, to the member for Atlin?
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Well, what do you want me to do?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Just give an answer, hon. member. Did the member imply any improper motive to the member for Atlin?
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Well, I don't know whether that's a proper question to ask. Mr. Chairman, I don't imply any motives of any kind. I just speak in debate and....
HON. MR. CURTIS: On a point of order. Mr. Chairman, at times emotions run high in this place. I trust that I might assist the Chair, and I hope the Chair will not be offended by the remarks. The rules which are being discussed right now are not the government's rules; they are the rules which were in place a good many years ago and they are in our standing orders. With respect, Sir, I feel that from time to time members in the heat of debate do stray from the estimate vote which is before the committee. Let no one think that somehow there is a reluctance to discuss any issue, but each member should know, sir — as I'm sure you do — that there is the opportunity to discuss virtually anything which falls within the provincial jurisdiction. But I do feel that a member who has a very strong view on some subject should not attempt to inject that where it does not belong.
MR. D'ARCY: Mr. Chairman, on the point of order the minister raised regarding the strict relevance of the debate which the member for Atlin was proceeding with, I would like to point out that where there is a resource use anywhere in this province, quite often there are a number of different permits and approvals that have to be obtained from different ministries, but there is absolutely no question that there is a molybdenum mine being operated at Kitsault on Alice Arm. A mine is a mine is a mine. That is what the member is talking about, and he's talking about the waste material from that mine. He's not talking about a refining operation, a forest operation or a transit system. He's talking about a mine. In my view, that discussion is strictly relevant to this minister. If it's not, Mr. Chairman, perhaps you could advise the House what ministry it should be under.
MR. LEA: On the same point of order, first of all I'd like to say that I think the Minister of Finance can play Premier on somebody else's time, which is all he was doing.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
HON. MR. CURTIS: That's the kind of thing you're noted for here: cheap shots. I try to be helpful, that's all.
[ Page 5512 ]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. LEA: Everybody knows what you're noted for and what you're going for. You're going for the guy's job.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
HON. MR. CURTIS: I try to be helpful to the Chair...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
HON. MR. CURTIS:...and you know it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
HON. MR. CURTIS: You know it very well!
(Mr. Chairman rose.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Members of this House are well aware of the rules on which this Chair has on many occasions insisted. I have no alternative at this time, in maintaining an even balance of the rules of this House, but to ask the Minister of Finance to leave the House.
[Mr. Chairman resumed his seat.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: This House will come to order. The Chair recognizes the member for Atlin.
MR. PASSARELL: Mr. Chairman, back on the minister's estimates, it appears that we've hit a very touchy nerve with that minister. The fact still remains that that minister stood in his place at the opening of his estimates to take credit for the mining operation at Kitsault, if that minister can remember three or four days ago. All I'm explaining is why Kitsault came into place. If it's that touchy an issue, that minister should be a man, sit in his chair and listen to it.
We're talking about a molybdenum mine 90 miles north of Prince Rupert. Through its operation, it will be dumping 12,000 tonnes of toxic waste into the ocean daily. The only reason it is marine-dumping is because of a permit granted by the government.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I just need to say that the rules of this House are for all the members. They're put there for specific purposes — primarily, as I understand it, so that full and open debate can take place in this Legislature. In order to do that there must be some order, and that order is built into our rules of order in this House. They say that only those matters which are strictly relevant to the administration of a ministry can be debated under a minister's estimate. That's not to say that they can't be debated at other times during the estimates of this House. They can and they must. But if we're to allow this House to disintegrate into debate being allowed on any matter under any minister and in any time period, then I submit that this House no longer has any sense of order and that this House won't serve the purpose for which it was designed.
The permits for pollution control and dumping of tailings of the Amax mine at Kitsault were issued by the Ministry of Environment, the guidelines are set by the Ministry of Environment, the reviews are done by the Ministry of Environment, and the entire responsibility is under the Ministry of Environment. If it was only a matter of strict relevancy, I wouldn't even be standing up here. But there isn't even a semblance of relevancy in this case. On the basis of good order in the House, I must protest.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The point raised by the minister is well canvassed and well taken. I must now instruct the member for Atlin, regarding the particular point that he is now canvassing, that there is no way that the Chair can in any form see that it complies with the strict relevance section; nor, in this particular case, is the minister responsible for the action in question. The Chair has no alternative but to accept the word of the minister and to ask the member, in continuing his debate, if he is going to refer to anything of that nature, to frame his remarks so as to comply with the very strict rules that the Chair must enforce if this committee is to serve its function.
MR. HOWARD: On a point of order that I sought to raise earlier. Regretfully, I did not catch your eye at that particular moment. The point of order I want to raise relates to the decision the Chair just made with respect to the Minister of Finance. I suggest you could perhaps give us some guidance, Mr. Chairman, as to how it should be proceeded with, when the Chair rises and reports to Mr. Speaker and to the House, to report such an incident in order that the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (Hon. Mr. McClelland) may take the same action with respect to the Minister of Finance as he took in moving a motion to suspend the member for North Island (Mr. Gabelmann) some time ago. In order that there be equitability and empathy on the part of the government....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Please take your seat, hon. member. The action taken by the Chair has been taken in two other instances that this Chair is familiar with. The action followed was exactly the same. The matter was dealt with in this House. I will not name the members concerning whom this Chair took that action. There was no reporting. The action was taken by the Chair. The action that the member is referring to is that of a naming process, and is totally different under the standing orders that we have to guide ourselves with. Further than that, I must say that the member is reflecting to some degree on the actions of the Chair. I would ask now that we continue on with the debate.
MR. HOWARD: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, lest there be any doubt at all in your mind or anybody else's, there was no intention on my part of reflecting upon the actions of the Chair. I thought I did not do that. I was seeking guidance from the Chair as to what the next step — the follow-up step — might be when you report to the House in order that the government House Leader (Hon. Mr. Gardom) or the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources may, reflecting government attitudes, treat his own members as equitably as he did ours. That's all I was trying to do.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The member is eminently familiar with the rules that guide this House and
[ Page 5513 ]
knows that no further action is necessary by the Chair when reporting to the speaker.
This is on the Kitsault mine itself, Mr. Chairman. We have a great
amount of information to discuss about this, but I'd like to read into
the record a letter dated January 29, 1981, to Hon. Robert McClelland.
I guess that would fall under his estimates, since it's addressed to
him concerning Kitsault. Through your guidance, Mr. Chairman, pollution
permit PE4335 is out of his jurisdiction, but if I talk about mine
waste, that's within his jurisdiction. So I'll stay away from the
permit itself. This is from the Vancouver and District Labour Council.
"Dear Mr. Minister:
"The Vancouver and District Labour Council was horrified to learn that the provincial government has allowed Amax Mines to proceed with the construction of their molybdenum mine at Kitsault, B.C., with the result that millions of tonnes of contaminated tailings will be dumped into Alice Arm. This clearing has been granted over the objections of every environmental group in the province and even over the protests of the Nishga Indians in the area, where historical food sources will probably be eliminated if this project proceeds.
"This labour council, along with the B.C. Federation of Labour, insists that a public inquiry be established to determine whether the experts are correct in stating that the dumpings of tailings from the mine could destroy the livelihood of the Nishga nation.
"We would further insist that all licences or permits for the start of this project be cancelled until findings of the proposed public inquiry are finalized and publicized."
Mr. Chairman, to go further with this, the entire issue of how this mine got into operation has come under scrutiny from many organizations and groups across this province, as well as international organizations.
Another article I would like to refer to is from Fisherman, dated March 27, 1981: "Dumping Approval Ignored Protest. Amax Reviewers Never Reported." It states some of the background information concerning the report that was done by the Amax company that allowed this travesty to proceed at the Amax Mine in Kitsault and was given to the government, which, in turn, allowed this mine to proceed. We've seen in many public statements afterwards that four of the five scientists who were involved with the initial decision were opposed to the operation of this mine and any development involving sea disposals by Amax in that particular area. The scientists involved in the initial decision asked that all mine wastes be placed on land. It seems that the levels of government involved would not follow this recommendation, and allowed Amax to proceed in dumping its mine waste into the ocean.
To quote briefly from this article concerning the dumping and the scientists' involvement, the interdepartmental technical committee charged that in the review the Amax project never made a formal report to the provincial government. Members of the committee objected to the poor information, most of it gathered by company-paid consultants, on which they were asked to base a decision. Thirdly, the opinion of the Fisheries department biologist and the committee was overruled by their superior, then director-general W.E. Johnson.
Fourthly, even after the permit was issued, the Institute of Ocean Sciences protested that it was unable to plan a monitoring of the tailings, because so little information was available about the physical aspects of Alice Arm.
HON. MR. WATERLAND: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order, I think you very clearly pointed out to the member for Atlin that everything concerning the disposal of tailings from the mine into Alice Arm come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment, not under the Ministry of Mines. The member persists in discussing a subject which is not the responsibility of this ministry. I wish you would bring him to order.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Again, I must ask the member presently speaking to be a little bit more selective. If we are going to read from documents, it's one thing to relate to something that specifies this particular ministry, but to stray, as the member must realize he is doing.... I fully appreciate the difficulty the member is having. Nevertheless, hon. member, we must abide by the rules of the committee, which in this case bring us into the direct responsibility of the minister concerned.
MR. HOWARD: On a point of order, just to draw your attention to what I'm told is the latest annual report of the ministry for 1978 — at least, it's the latest I was able to get from the library.... The annual report of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources refers on page 45 to an enhanced mine-site reclamation program that deals with tailings ponds, which is what we are dealing with here. Further on, under the activity of the ministry, under reclamation, there are quite a number of references to mine reclamation programs, all dealing with waste material, dumps, tailing sites and everything else. What the member for Atlin is seeking to deal with is basically, I suppose — in addition to saving people from having some pretty terrible situations visited upon them now — preventing the ministry from having to spend public moneys in the future to go through a reclamation program. I submit, the minister can't have it both ways. He can't engage in his activity in dealing with tailings ponds and at the same time say he has no responsibility for them.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: I guess the bottom line here is that the ministry responsible for tailings ponds and the issuance of permits allowing them is not my ministry. If we are talking about the safety of tailings ponds and whether or not a permit should be issued — which is what we are doing here — I'd just bring to the Chairman's attention that this matter was canvassed over many years by both provincial and federal agencies, neither of which had anything to do with my ministry. It was ultimately approved by the waste management branch of the Ministry of Environment. I say again that it's very difficult for this minister to deal with administrative responsibilities which are not in my ministry.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. members, the point has been made several times by the minister. The Chair now has no alternative but to insist that the member confine his remarks specifically to vote 65, dealing with the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and those actions for which the minister is responsible.
[ Page 5514 ]
MR. PASSARELL: Mr. Chairman, I know it must be difficult at times to take those frivolous points of orders from the Minister of Forests.
To get back to the vote itself, I'd like to read a letter....
HON. MR. WATERLAND: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the point of order I raised was not a frivolous point of order; it was a very serious point of order. I would ask the member to withdraw that comment.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. minister, the Chair has, some difficulty in asking a member to withdraw something that is technically not unparliamentary. I would fear that if members insist that the Chair take such action, we would have virtually no debate in the House at all, and we must remember that each member in this House must take responsibility for the statements that he makes. We are bound by regulations that we must all try to abide by.
MR. PASSARELL: Mr. Chairman, may I read a letter from the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Mr. Bob McClelland, in his vote? Thank you.
The letter I'd like to read is dated March 9, 1981, signed by R. H. McClelland, Minister: "Concerning underwater disposal of mine tailings." I'm quoting this letter to Mr. Jim Lamb. He's stated he doesn't deal with that, yet he writes a letter to the Canadian Union of Public Employees stating why Amax has proceeded. I guess he must have forgotten he's written these letters. I quote:
"Underwater disposal of mine tailings at depth in either the ocean or lakes is often the best disposal method from the standpoint of environmental concerns. This has been proven positive in a number of cases in British Columbia, both in fresh and salt water." Buttle Lake is an example, but that's not in the letter. "In the operation of the B.C. Moly mine in Kitsault between 1967 and 1972, the mine disposed of tailings directly into Lime Creek, which discharged into Alice Arm without any significant detrimental environmental effects."
Under the Mineral Act, which falls under the minister's responsibility once again, if we read closely we find out where deposits of ore bodies may be disposed, which also falls under the minister's responsibility. But we're spending too much time on this. There are more issues I can cover outside the permit. I think this House and the public across this province, and across the country, understand what went on with the granting of permits.
Another aspect concerns the Nishga themselves. We found this article in the Times-Colonist, dated May 11, 1981: "Amax Protest Turns Violent." It concerns some smoke bombs, rocks and beer bottles containing red paint hurled through the windows of the Ministry of Environment. "Amax Kills, Governments Approve." I think any law-abiding citizens like the Nishga people, and Project North who are also involved in the issue, would never turn to violence. I certainly hope that no member of this honourable House would ever believe as the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland) does, who is making comments once again. It seems that the snuff box must be very potent this afternoon.
It appears that some unscrupulous individuals are trying to discredit the opposition to Amax mines, and I would certainly hope that every hon. member of this House would never believe that a certain individual who voices opposition would be categorized as becoming a vandal.
Regarding the Nishga, the mode of publication concerning the initial mine operation comes under consideration. As this House is aware, when you start a mine of this nature you must publish in The British Columbia Gazette as well as in local newspapers. That has been one of the faults with this government in its mode of operation of allowing this mine to proceed: most people do not read the Gazette; secondly, the area newspapers where the mining company published its operation mode were hundreds of miles away from the area in which the Nishga people live, so they didn't see it in the 30 days it was posted.
I think it comes down to the situation right now that the Nishga people and the residents of this province are concerned about allowing this mine to proceed even though it has fulfilled the legal responsibilities of publishing information in newspapers hundreds of miles away, and in a post office in Kitsault. It's the need of a public inquiry right now. We've seen that the Nishga people are quite concerned about getting some information across to the people, and to the government as well. One of the earlier statements made was that this particular area was one which the Nishga people did not use for fishing, and mine waste dumped into the ocean would have no detrimental effect there. A report was given to the government well before the permit was granted that stated the Nishga Indians did not fish in this particular area. This has been countered by a government of Canada memorandum from the fisheries officer of the lower Nass subdistrict to the chief north coast division field officer, in which the subject quoted is the Indian food fisheries of Alice Arm. In the five pages of this report it states quite clearly that the Nishga people fish in the area for their livelihood.
Secondly is the breach of the international convention concerning the mine itself. It was sent from Mr. Jim Fulton, MP for Skeena, to Dr. M. Mercer, manager of the international program on chemical safety of the World Health Organization. In this letter Mercer states that any dumping of radioactive waste is subject to the control of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, of which Canada is a member. In the company's own feasibility studies they talk about radioactive waste that will be involved in the overburden, as well as mine waste that will be dumped into the ocean. It appears that the movement of this provincial government and its cronies in Ottawa — the Liberal Party — have totally ignored the World Health Organization in the aspect of....
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: I apologize for rising again, but we're talking about matters which have absolutely no relevance to my ministry. We're talking about environmental concerns, international conventions and the Nishga Indians, none of which come under the terms of reference of my ministry. I'd be happy to try and answer many of the questions if I were allowed the same kind of debate that member is allowed. Perhaps there should be another forum for it — I don't know. But there's full opportunity for that member to discuss the environmental concerns that he has under the Ministry of Environment. In my opinion, we should get back to the administrative responsibilities of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, hon. minister. I'm sure the hon. member realizes that the Chair has allowed the
[ Page 5515 ]
member more than substantial latitude in his discussion hoping that the remarks would be simply in passing and would more quickly relate to vote 65 presently before us. But, hon. member, you are beginning to leave the Chair with very little opportunity other than to instruct the member either to discontinue his speech or to be strictly relevant to vote 65. The cooperation of the member would be greatly appreciated, not only by the Chair but also by members of the House.
MR. PASSARELL: To bring the Chairman into line here, it appears the minister and his two support staff behind him forgot to look at the mining regulations. To give you gentlemen an idea of what to look for so you can help this minister out of the bind, chapter 265, subsection 5 of the mining regulations, section C, states: "...exercise power...the minister necessary for ensuring the health and safety of persons employed in and about the mine...." That's exactly what we're talking about here. When I'm talking about the World Health Organization and this government ignoring the fact that there's radioactive waste going into Alice Arm, this minister has the audacity to stand up and say: "Oh, we have nothing to do with this."
HON. MR. WATERLAND: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I sympathize with you in your attempt to bring the member to order, but he has just read a quote from the Mining Regulation Act with regard to people working in and about a mine. He is continuing to bring up the problem of pollution control permits to the minister who is not responsible for it. He is ignoring every bit of direction you have given him. A few moments ago you asked a member of this House to leave for doing almost a similar thing. I think we should insist that this member relate his remarks to the responsibility of this minister or else ask him to leave.
MR. LEGGATT: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I'm wondering if at this point we might clarify the ruling for the guidance of those who are intending to participate in the debate. The member has just referred to a specific section of the mining regulations, clearly a matter within this minister's jurisdiction. What I'm asking for is a ruling for the guidance of other participants in this debate. Can we refer to matters dealing with the health and safety of people in and around the mine? If we are denied questions to this minister concerning that, it would seem to me a tremendously unfair handicap to any opposition to ask questions of the minister where the mining regulations clearly set forth his responsibility. The minister may want to get up on a technicality about who did or did not issue the permit. There seems to me no question that under the provisions of those mining regulations this minister has to have some responsibility for the health and safety of people who work around the mines, including people who fish and swim in that inlet, who may be poisoned by the tailings that go into that inlet.
If in the course of his remarks the member touches on the permit that is clearly issued by the Ministry of Environment....You've already had his apology, but it is difficult to deal with these questions on a segregated basis; they are somewhat interrelated and intertwined, and clearly we have a section in the act. So I'm asking for your ruling, Mr. Chairman: is this member going to be given the opportunity in these debates to comment to this minister on the mining regulations and the safety and health of those who work in and about mines, or is he going to be denied that opportunity?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. members, the Chair can only enforce the regulations, guidelines and rules that it has before it. The Chair has before it a guiding rule, which is that only questions for a minister responsible may be asked in this particular forum.
On the matter that was raised by the member for Coquitlam-Moody, the Chair has no alternative, until it is informed otherwise, than to allow the member for Atlin to continue. Often the Chair finds itself in the position of having to accept two statements which are in conflict. Because members of this assembly are honourable members, the Chair has no alternative but to accept the statement of each member. In the case of the member for Atlin, the member has pointed out a section of an act which, in the Chair's opinion, allows the member to further canvass a situation.
Until the Chair is advised otherwise by either the minister responsible or by another member, the Chair permits that member to continue on his address. The Chair has no alternative. The section referred to by the member clearly, in the opinion of the Chair with the information that it has before it at the present time, allows the member to continue to canvass his point until the Chair is made aware of anything to the contrary.
MR. PASSARELL: Thank you for the guidance, Mr. Chairman. Concerning this particular subsection that I addressed earlier concerning the minister's responsibility for safety, the feasibility studies done by the company show that the waste contains radon 226, cadmium, lead, mercury, arsenic, nickel, zinc, copper, iron, molybdenum and uranium. Now under the subsection in the mining regulations I referred to, this minister has a responsibility to protect the people in this particular area — Alice Arm — against uranium. It wasn't that long ago, Mr. Chairman, that this minister had a PR gimmick concerning mining and exploration of uranium in this province — something I supported that minister on — and I would certainly hope he would foster it further through legislation by accepting my private member's bill outlawing any type of mining and exploration of uranium in this province.
But further regarding Amax, Mr. Chairman, we have seen a total disregard for the concepts, beliefs and the livelihoods of the people of the area, the Nishga people.
Any mine has two modes of operation when it comes to the deposit of mine tailings. It can do as most conventional mines do in this province and dispose on land. We've seen some excellent mining companies in this province use the technology that's afforded by putting tailings into ponds on land. A case in point is Cassiar, which has a very favourable disposal of mine waste.
But if we look at the second mode of operation in the disposal of tailings, we see the archaic method that Amax is using. They're depositing their tailings from a pipeline outlet 50 metres below the surface of the ocean; the chuck itself goes approximately 300 metres down. This mine will be depositing toxic wastes — and many scientists across this country have made the term "toxic wastes." When you look at the ingredients that make up the composition of the 12,000 tailings.... Some scientists who were involved with the initial decision stated that the tailings contained poisonous waste or, at any rate, significantly toxic material to pollute the waters and damage Alice Arm's fishing resource.
To get back to the vote, this mine has been in operation for just a few short weeks. We saw on Thursday and Friday that
[ Page 5516 ]
the mine had a spill. As one of the mining engineers involved with the decision stated, this happens daily to mines across the province. I don't know if it is such a factual statement that 200 metres of beach is wiped out daily in this province and that toxic wastes are brought upon and carried out to the open sea. Part of the way that government regulations are brought upon this mine is that the company has to give feasibility reports to the government concerning the accumulation of heavy metal and waste going into the ocean itself. As I stated earlier, this mine has only been operation for three and a half weeks. The first initial report from the company itself stated in objective 9 — on the last page of a three-page letter to this government — that there are already high concentrations of arsenic in the shrimp of the area. One of the first feasibility studies states that arsenic has already started to leach into the food supply of the Nishga people of this province.
What does this government do? It gets up on frivolous points of order and says: "That's not my department; that's another department." To continue to allow this travesty to the health of the Nishga people will eventually be a cultural genocide fraught upon the Nishga people. We're asking this minister to take his responsibility as Minister of Mines and close down this operation. Don't allow it to dump 12,000 tonnes of toxic waste a day into Alice Arm. Mr. Chairman, it appears that this Minister of Mines has done very little research and homework concerning the Amax issue.
I would like to bring him up to date on another part of his responsibility. Instead of sea disposal, it's on-site land disposal. This falls under his responsibility, as much as he would like to push it off on his friend, the Minister of Environment (Hon. Mr. Rogers). In June 1978 Wright Engineers Ltd. of Vancouver did a feasibility study for Climax Moly Corp. concerning disposal of these toxic wastes on land — project 911. It's a short, three-page report, compared to the feasibility study of almost 200 pages done by Amax concerning sea disposal. The capital cost estimate to have Amax dispose of 12,000 tonnes of toxic waste on land, well away from fishing sources and the ocean, was approximately $20 million. This company found that it was easy to get approval through its friends to dump it into the ocean.
There was also a report done by Mr. Stephen Hilbert, who was involved with B.C. Moly before it ran out of money in 1972. He was an engineer with the previous firm. He stated that it would be a very easy mode of disposal to pump these toxic wastes onto land. It appears that the Minister of Mines has ignored these reports and found that it's much easier to let this multinational corporation have its way and dispose of 12,000 tonnes of toxic waste into the ocean.
Further, we have seen that the cheapest mode of deposit of any mine waste is into the ocean. It's cheapest for a company to get a big exhaust-pipe and just suck these toxic wastes right through, like a toilet, instead of giving them the responsibility to dispose on land, to build tailing ponds. The company has stated to this minister in documents that have been leaked that it's too costly for Amax to dispose on land. That's foolishness. It would cost $20 million to dispose on land, up by Clary Lake. I certainly hope that this minister understands, after it has been driven to him countless times, that you can't allow a mining company to deposit that type of waste into the ocean for 26 years.
We've also seen the public response concerning this whole issue of Amax. In the Times-Colonist, March 28, 1981, we see: "Critics on Amax Panel Gagged by Chairman." It appears that much of the information regarding
Amax has been suppressed by government on the federal and provincial level, not to allow the people of this province to find out exactly what is happening. What we're simply asking this minister to do because he's the appropriate minister as Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, is to put a moratorium on the Amax issue. Have a full public inquiry on this issue. I noticed that in this provincial budget they set $10 aside for public hearings. Let's have a full public inquiry under this issue of Amax. Let all the facts be brought forward. If the company has the safest mode of disposal into the sea, then fine, it will come out as truth in a public inquiry. To allow these kinds of reports that come out saying that the members of the panel were against the initial decision to allow Amax to dump into the sea and that they found four or five scientists saying no.... We found that just about every scientist in this country is saying that it's totally asinine to allow the dumping of this type of waste into the sea.
We see the "Halt the Mine Dump" in the Province, March 25, 1981, in which the fisheries union stated that it's totally asinine to dump this type of toxic waste into the ocean. When is this minister going to take responsibility and stand up in this House and say: "Look, enough is enough. There's too much mine waste going into this. It's affecting the fish. We don't know for sure exactly what it's going to do to humans. Let's put a moratorium on this dumping until we can find an equitable solution to this toxic waste. Put it on land." Time and time again we see editorials such as this one from the Smithers newspaper, which says "Time to Reconsider, " concerning the involvement of the Most Reverend Edward Scott, the primate of the Anglican Church, who has constantly stood up in public forums and denounced this government for allowing the cultural genocide of the Nishga people because of this mine dumping. Time and time again we see newspapers across this country simply saying that it's time to reconsider this project, and it's time to go back and look over exactly what's happening and what effect this is going to have on the people.
It's fine and dandy to have 300 people employed. Those people up in Amax at Kitsault right now are saying: "We live in the area too. We don't want to be eating fish that are contaminated by uranium, radon, arsenic and mercury. "Why doesn't this minister stand up and say: "Look, enough is enough. It's time to reconsider this project"? He's got enough information to go back and be honest with the people by saying: "Look, let's have a public inquiry."
We've also seen the effect of long-term dumping. We've also seen public involvement being suppressed by both levels of government, the provincial and federal. On April 7, 1981, an article in the Province states: "Nishga Barred From Meeting. Amax to ask Officials for Right to Dump Rock." They've already been given the right to dump 12,000 tonnes of mine overburden into the ocean. Now Amax is going back and they want a little bit more. They want to be able to dump on land at two creeks also. They want to be able to further pollute the inlet of Alice Arm.
What was the condition of this government? They barred the Nishga people and the environmental groups that are helping the Nishga people in their fight and struggle from attending the meeting. What was the answer from the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources regarding why? They didn't want the Nishga people or the environmental people concerned with this to attend the meeting because some trade secrets might be divulged to competitors. What nonsense that is! The Nishga people are fighting for their
[ Page 5517 ]
livelihood. They want to have a say in this mining opportunity, and the minister says: "Well, we can't allow these people to come in. They're novices and they might give the information to the competitors." I doubt if you're going to find any competitor in this province who would go through the public relations part of dumping this kind of waste into the ocean. They simply asked to attend a meeting with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and four other ministries, and what are they told? "No, you can't come into it."
Mr. Minister, time and time again we found, concerning ocean dumping and its effect upon people.... The case in point in British Columbia is the ecology of Rupert Inlet. Ten years after that company started to dump mine waste into the ocean they're finding that the sea body in Rupert Inlet has been totally annihilated, with life-sustaining forms destroyed because of the dumping of mine crush into Rupert Inlet. This came out through the Waldichuk report on fisheries and oceans, as well as through Mr. R.J. Buchanan, who is the co-signer of this report. If there is anything that this minister could understand it is that you have permitted one travesty, even though you weren't minister at that time. We've had one travesty in British Columbia concerning sea-dumping. Why allow the second to happen, Mr. Minister? Why allow Amax to go ahead and proceed with the dumping of this waste into the ocean? Do you know what's happened already with the Waldichuk report, which showed what happened in Rupert Inlet? You have lead time now. Don't allow another Waldichuk report to come out ten years hence to state that Alice Arm has been made totally devoid of life-sustaining forms.
When you get further and further involved in an issue like Amax, you become very disenchanted with government, and I don't think it's just political because I represent the NDP and the government is a representative of the Social Credit Party. We're talking on human levels, about the Nishga people who live in this area having some say in decisions affecting their livelihood. This hasn't been granted by this government. I'm not just embarrassed with this government because it's Social Credit; I'm embarrassed because of these people. To allow something like this to happen, without any kind of feeling concerning the Nishga people — and the fishermen as well, who come up from Vancouver and Prince Rupert to fish in this area.... Our counterparts in the United States and Alaska are concerned as well.
An interesting note on this is that following our very successful visit to Alaska in February, discussing this matter with Governor Hammond and his staff, the Governor's staff said they were totally disappointed in the little bit of information given them by this government concerning the operation of Amax. As a matter of fact, one of the commissioners — who act as ministers in their government — stated that he was told in telephone conversations that Amax was still two years down the road, and a full public inquiry would be held. I can't say that the Minister of Mines stated that. Maybe one of the support staff did for this commissioner in Alaska to be able to have this kind of erroneous information.
I think it's time to put another moratorium on this mine, and close down the operation before further life-sustaining forms are destroyed up in Alice Arm. Sit down with our Alaskan counterparts and give them an idea of what this is going to do. We share a border and common waters in this area. It's about time the Alaskans had an understanding of what Amax is all about. The only way this is going to happen is a full public inquiry — not by sitting in this House and trying to make the facts known, with ministers standing up making points of order and trying to disrupt the debate.
The Province for Sunday, March 29, describes the Amax approval as ugly and done without any type of arbitration. This article was written by Mr. Roger Smith, who comes from Ottawa: "The battle of Alice Arm, which at first pitted Indians against industrialists in a remote corner of British Columbia, has raised larger questions about the ugly, arbitrary way in which the federal and provincial governments sometimes do business." People have asked to have a delay in the dumping, and both times Amax has rejected two calls to delay the dumping of 12,000 tonnes of mine waste into the ocean.
An article in the Victoria Times-Colonist for April 16, 1981, states: 'Amax rejects two calls to delay dumping." Is there a reason why Amax doesn't want to delay the dumping of 12,000 tonnes of waste into the ocean? Certainly they want to reject it. They've been given carte blanche to destroy the ocean up in Alice Arm. Why should they hold back just to hold a public inquiry? This article further states that if the project were turned down — and a moratorium is what we're asking this government to do — it would cost the firm between $10 million and $13.3 million. These are their own figures.
Is $13 million too much to ask if it's going to show some type of protection for the livelihood of people who fish and live in the area? Is $13 million too much for this government? I doubt it. They seem to find money anywhere they can to build stadiums. But to ask them to have a moratorium to protect the people of this province against a multinational corporation which will help destroy the livelihoods of the Nishga people, $13 million is too much. And these are the company's figures. The way Amax gives figures out to the public, I wouldn't be surprised if that figure could be cut in half.
Further to the Amax issue, we've seen the embarrassment that this government has given to our counterparts in Alaska concerning the information. Maybe it's time for this minister to stand up today and to say that he's going to be in contact with the Alaska government concerning the Amax issue and give the information out. It appears that Amax isn't concerned about provincial or federal governments in this country. They're more concerned about making profits for their board office in Connecticut. They're looking at 300,400 or maybe 4,000 Nishga people in the area. What's their concern if they're going to be able to turn over a profit? They're not even concerned about the 300 workers who are living in the area either. For this government to say, "Carte blanche responsibility — go ahead and dump the 12,000 tonnes of waste into the ocean," It is unbelievable. I would certainly hope that this government would take the responsibility of contacting the Alaska government and the United States federal government for whatever information they have and to get the real facts out.
I have another article I'd like to discuss. It's an article in the Fisherman, March 27, 1981. The title of it is "Does LeBlanc Fear the Truth on Amax?" I wonder if this could be appropriate to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. Does this minister, the member for Langley, fear the truth concerning Amax? Are you afraid to really face the facts of what arsenic, mercury, lead, uranium and radon can do to people who eat fish? We've already seen the shrimp being contaminated.
[ Page 5518 ]
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Radar?
MR. PASSARELL: Radon 226. Maybe you could ask some of your high-priced staff behind you to explain what that is.
Is this minister afraid to face the truth concerning this? We've got radioactive materials going into people's food sources.
HON. MR. HEWITT: You'd better ship yourself off to Saskatchewan.
MR. PASSARELL: We see the Minister of Agriculture and Food who's also concerned, making a comment and saying: "See your friends in Saskatchewan." I don't care what government it is. You don't play with people's lives with radioactive materials. I don't care if it's the NDP or Social Credit.
HON. MR. HEWITT: I thought you had national policies on radium, or did you forget that?
MR. PASSARELL: Mr. Chairman, can you protect me from the Agriculture minister? He's got his time to debate concerning radioactive materials in the people's food sources. He had his estimates up and he seemed not to do it.
Back to the vote. I just wonder, with the track record of Amax, what it's done in Africa and Australia, concerning people; they've totally ignored people's concerns, feelings and livelihoods. We've seen Australia where they destroyed the aboriginal people and sacred monuments because of a profit. In Namibia we've seen this multinational company forget about people and go right ahead and destroy their lifestyles. Amax is doing it here in Canada. They haven't picked Ontario or Quebec; they picked the west coast of Canada in our great province of British Columbia. This government has allowed them to go ahead and do this. It's unbelievable. To allow this travesty to happen with a company that has shown its track record of not caring for people for over 20 years.... They're totally concerned about making the mighty buck for a profit. This minister allows them to go ahead and dump this kind of waste into our residence.
What are we going to be able to tell our children or our grandchildren, 20, 30 or 40 years down the road? We allowed this mine to proceed. We really didn't know the facts and figures of it. We knew there were radioactive materials being dumped into the ocean. " But it's good for the economy," the Social Credit government of this province states. "We're Bullish on Mining" was the article that I read. There are some good mines. Mining is an important part of this province, but not when it comes to destroying people. This minister can't tell for sure what these radioactive wastes are going to do to people 20, 30 or 40 years down the road. The idea is that these things are going to sit at the bottom of the ocean. Already there's been movement of the tailings into the ocean.
We've seen opposition and editorials from across this country stating: "The Amax Coverup." We've seen a very incompetent federal Fisheries minister, Mr. Roméo LeBlanc. We've seen material concerning information leaked by individuals in the Minister of Mines' office to people across this province.
I'd like to read a letter from Mr. John Sanders, who's the manager of the Kitsault mine, dated February 13, 1981. If you're going to apply for a position at the Amax mine, the company makes you read this letter and makes you understand what it is. It's unbelievable. I doubt if even the Social Credit government would write such a poor letter as this. It states on the very last page: "In our opinion, a public inquiry would only focus attention on the subject of land claims, which is the one unresolved issue raised by the Nishga tribal council. Amax cannot negotiate with the Nishga on land claims, as only the federal and provincial governments have the authority to act in this regard." It seems that the opponents of Amax are being branded and labelled — as in that silly article in today's paper — as vandals. If you oppose Amax, all you're concerned with is native land claims, which isn't the case. People are more concerned about their livelihood.
I can see my time is coming to an end, but I'd just like to quote from a book, The Town That Got Lost. It's part of the history of our country that Captain George Vancouver and his crew came into Alice Arm on July 24, 1793. They went into Alice Arm and made camp in the proximity of where this mine is now, and they encountered the Indian people of that area. What happened was that Captain Vancouver's crew killed ten Nishga people in a battle. Quoting from page 27, it says: "Later Captain Vancouver decided that the Indians had previously been badly treated by the traders who visited the area. Some of the Indians, he noted, had trade muskets." It goes on further to say that Captain Vancouver put himself on the side of the Nishga Indians in 1793, concerning the unscrupulous business dealings being done. That's almost 200 years ago, and maybe it's time for this country to wake up and find out that we've treated the people wrongly. That's July 24, 1793 — Captain Vancouver in Alice Arm. What happened? We find out 190 years later that the same situation is going on.
To close, Mr. Chairman, politicians come and go, and political parties in this province also come and go. They are fortunate, at times, to be able to form government, and concerns like Amax will defeat governments. Decisions made by governments seem to follow that government once it's out of office. Hopefully, the decision of this Social Credit government to perform cultural genocide upon the Nishga people will be changed by the next election, because the people of this province, whether they're Social Credit, Liberal, Conservative or NDP, are just tired of the way this government allowed a multinational corporation to come in and destroy the livelihoods of the Nishga people.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Once again, hon. members, the Chair must observe to the committee that we have been spending an awful lot 4 time on discussion that would be more properly covered under another vote. In most cases, votes 76 and 78 would appear to be more appropriate to the discussion we've heard.
MR. HANSON: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, your comments regarding the appropriateness of the Amax discussion under this minister's vote have left me a bit confused. section 5 of the Mining Regulation Act outlines the powers and authority of the mining inspectors who work under this minister. Section 6 outlines the action that the mining inspectors shall take if they see a dangerous condition which clearly can affect not only the workers at the mine but the public
[ Page 5519 ]
around the mine. Also, section 8 outlines what action the mining inspectors shall take in the event that there's a dangerous occurrence. The list of items under the purview of this minister is extremely broad. If there is a dangerous occurrence, or some aspect of a mine will have a negative impact on the surrounding public, that minister can close the mine. My argument is that the discussion by the previous speaker is entirely in order within the purview of this minister, and not appropriate under the Ministry of Environment.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The member who has just taken his place will note that the Chair did not interrupt the last member speaking, but was only making an observation and referred to votes which will be coming before us to do with the Ministry of Environment, and specifically vote 78, waste management branch.
HON. MR. FRASER: Mr. Chairman, I just want to contribute a little to this debate. First of all, I agree with your observations that the member for Atlin was out of order for the last hour. There are a lot of places to discuss that; this isn't the place, and he knows that. The other observation I have is — and I won't be out of order very long — that you didn't mention anything about Ottawa also issuing a permit for this, I wonder what the Member of Parliament did. That shows how ineffective the NDP Members of Parliament are. I wonder what he did about it. I am referring to Mr. Fulton, the NDP MP. Where was he when Ottawa issued the permit? That's his job.
MR. LEA: He wasn't elected!
HON. MR. FRASER: Oh, is that right? Well, he's been elected far too long already.
I was also surprised at the member for Atlin discussing this entirely out of order, and he never mentioned a thing about the actual mining going on in the riding of Atlin. I'll bet the Atlin people really will be proud of that. In your own riding you never even referred to anything there, That's a famous area for mining in the Atlin riding, and never once did he mention that. He's sure derelict in his duty there. They're finding gold like it's going out of style up there, and you never once gave the citizens of your riding credit for any of that. What do you want — do you want them all on social assistance or something? There are hard-working people up in Atlin finding lots of gold; it's rich in it, and they want to earn some money without handouts. Shame on you not referring to that at all! You'd better stay within your own riding when you're talking, and you'll do a lot better, Mr. Member.
That's the issue I want to bring up here today, and give these young socialists here a bit of history. First of all, I have the honour to represent the riding of Cariboo, if nobody's told you, and that's where all the mining started in British Columbia — in Cariboo. The mining started in the Cariboo in the 1850s and started the famous Barkerville gold rush. You know, I don't know whether that was good or bad, because it made the country so affluent that we got it 30 percent socialist. They're coming along and taking part in the abundance that flows from.what history started in the 1850s.
Victoria or Vancouver wouldn't even exist if it hadn't been for the gold rush in Barkerville in the 1850s and 1860s, and I've read my history. Furthermore, in 1861 there were more people in the community of Barkerville in the riding of Cariboo than there were anywhere north of San Francisco. As a matter of fact there were 10,000 people there all gainfully employed, making or losing their fortunes. It was the largest community north of San Francisco, and the people of Barkerville in those days said Vancouver and Victoria would never amount to anything, because they were too far away from Barkerville — Quesnel Forks too. I'll take you up there someday — on real good roads too, I might tell you.
AN HON. MEMBER: Likely too, eh?
HON. MR. FRASER: Yes, and Likely too — all part of the Barkerville gold rush. Great country! So what I'm saying is that little places like Prince George wouldn't have been anything if they hadn't found gold in Barkerville in the early 1860s.
That's gone on one way and another for over a hundred years, and now we have lots of mining going on in the Cariboo riding. We have something I'm very happy about: the Mosquito Creek mines is in production in Wells, reviving what was almost a ghost-town in my riding because of other mines which were there and so-called "ran out" of ore. I want to tell you there's lots of gold in them than hills in the Cariboo, if you want to go out and work and find it.
Mosquito Creek is a good example of that, and they've now put in a large operation in the community of Wells. They have a payroll of 75 or 100, and it's done a great thing to that community to revive their economic base. We have Gibraltar Mines, the Boss Mountain mine at Hendrix Lake, and so on, and I am very proud of what they generate in the way of economic activity and jobs in the Cariboo. As an example, at Hendrix Lake we have a molybdenum mine there, underground and open-pit, employing 180 people on a full-time basis. Gibraltar Mines, as I mentioned earlier, is employing 618 people on a permanent basis, just a short way out of Williams Lake in the Cariboo at McLeese Lake.
The other thing, going on in the Cariboo mining district that's very interesting to note is the placer activity, Mr. Chairman. After the NDP hit the mining industry on the head and killed it with the Mineral Royalties Act of 1974, there was nobody who would invest or stake claims, until we had the election in 1975 and turfed these silly socialists out of office. In 1976 in the Cariboo alone there were 177 claims staked — and that's the year that our government changed the legislation and got rid of the stupid Mineral Royalties Act, and then the people in the investment sector, as well as the individual prospector, knew where they stood. In 1977 we had 162 claims; in 1978, 233 — these are leases staked; in 1979 it jumped to 501, and by now the people of the province and outside investment knew they had a reliable government. In 1980 the leases staked jumped to 1,350, and I think that we should be proud of that.
We have these energetic citizens out there looking for ore, and they're finding it. Then they go on to create larger mines, hopefully — some of them at least. But the activity in the Cariboo is immense. It also is in Atlin, and that member stood up and talked about something that's not in his own riding and never referred to the activity there. But it's great, and it's great in a lot of other places in British Columbia.
Mr. Chairman, I want to make a few remarks today. The socialists always want to know where your research is from. They're always saying: "Where did you get your figures from? Table them in the House." I want to tell you that I haven't any difficulty at all, because I did all my research by
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reading "The 1200 Days of Socialism." I read it all weekend — and, boy, is that ever a revelation of everything they did in 1,200 days as a government from 1972 to 1975, including how they killed the mining industry.
MR. LEA: Weren't. you here?
HON. MR. FRASER: Mr. Chairman, the member for Prince Rupert asks: "Weren't you here?" You'd better believe I was sitting over there, and I watched you scuttle the province of British Columbia on everything including mining. It's in the records of this House that I didn't vote for the Mineral Royalties Act; neither did the present minister, who was here at the time. We voted against it. But they ploughed merrily along and said that they were going to tax the mining industry to its full potential, and if the mining industry didn't like that, they could leave it in the ground. The Premier of the day said that they'd leave it in the ground till he decided it was the right price to bring it out of the ground. What a mining policy! Do you know, Mr. Chairman, that's their policy today. If they ever become government — and God forbid it happens, but it did happen by an accident of fate — their mining policy is: you come and see the Premier in his office. That's what their policy is today.
I want to reveal a bit about the Mineral Royalties Act, which was brought in by them when they were trying to be government. They had a fine Minister of Mines at that time, and the socialist power honchos loaded him with bringing in the bill. The poor minister at the time didn't know what was in the bill, but he brought it in and he got the hammering for it. Actually it was the socialist power honchos — they meant everything they said in the Mineral Royalties Act — and that poor minister was finally relieved of that responsibility shortly afterwards. But he did go down in history as the minister of the NDP government who brought in the Mineral Royalties Act. He really went down in history as quite a veteran public person in this province until they loaded him with that. If you want me to tell the House, Mr. Chairman, who urged him on to bring that bill in, it was the power honchos of the NDP. They're still around; not necessarily here, but they're still around, advising. That's why I say their policy is still come wheel and deal with the Premier in his office. He made history in our province by being known as the best Minister of Mines the province of Alberta, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories ever had. He drove all our mining people out to those various jurisdictions. I guess the poor man is pleased that he's down in history, but I don't think he's very pleased how he got set up by the socialists to bring that kind of nonsense legislation in here.
You're probably wondering what happened following that and following the rightful defeat of the socialists on December 11, 1975, in the middle of a big snowstorm. I was never in my life so happy to be stuck in a ditch in a snowstorm in the Cariboo as when the word came out that they'd been defeated.
In 1976 we were honoured to govern this province, and the then Minister of Mines, now the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland), brought in a bill to eliminate the Mineral Royalties Act. From then on it's been everything go ahead, and I thought you might want to know some of the things that have happened in the province since then or are going on now. We now have expansion going on all over the province in mining of all different descriptions. The estimated capital cost of that expansion is $1,292 million scattered throughout the province: committed expansion either going on now, to go ahead shortly or already completed. I repeat that because of the policies of this government $1.3 billion has been invested. It is also creating 4,500 new jobs directly in the mining industry, to say nothing of the side benefits that will flow from the direct jobs in mining.
There are ongoing jobs in the Lornex expansion in the Highland Valley. I understand some of our prominent citizens were in the Highland Valley the other day. That's great. I hope there were some socialists there to have their eyes opened and see where people actually make their living. Early in 1981 there was also the expansion at Noranda creating 50 jobs; Dankoe expansion $12 million, a further 50 jobs; Equity silver in production thanks to the policies of this government — it's been talked about for 50 years and is in production at a capital cost of $110 million creating 225 new jobs in the small community of Houston. The member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) is here, and that's the reason he'll be back. The silly socialists don't understand those sorts of things. That's what our citizens want to see: gainfully employed people, and not necessarily on a government payroll. The socialists were all ready to go mining as well, but we cut them off at the pass when we defeated them in December 1975.
Mosquito Creek, in the great riding of Cariboo at Barkerville, where everything started 110 years ago, is still going. A new mine there, $6 million investment, 75 full-time people gainfully employed; Highmont in production, expansion $150 million creating 350 new jobs; Highland Valley in production, $15 million, with an estimated 100 new jobs created; Granduc, $20 million expended, 350 jobs; Baker, early 1981, $12 million, 35 jobs; Carolin, early 1981, $20 million creating 105 jobs: Kitsault — the member talked about the other side of the issue — mid-'81, investment $150 million creating 500 jobs; Goldstream, early 1982, $50 million, 250 jobs; Line Creek, early '82, $170 million investment,400 jobs; Greenhills, mid-'82, $240 million, 1,200 jobs; Fording expansion, late'82, $168 million and 400 jobs. I want to repeat for the record that these total $1.3 billion in investment in mining in our province. It assures 4,500 new jobs in mining. What is wrong with that?
I haven't a great deal more to say, but I want to go back to my own riding of Cariboo. It's now going to become famous for gas and oil. I give thanks to this minister that we have; he made a deal with Canadian Hunter, one of the finest exploration companies in western Canada, to go into the Cariboo, west of Quesnel and Williams Lake, and explore for gas and oil. The deal he made with Canadian Hunter on a bid basis was that they had a five-year contract for $27.5 million to go in and drill for gas and oil.
I want to tell you, Mr. Chairman, that Canadian Hunter has now been in there a year. They have spent almost $10 million of the $27.5 million in exploration for gas and oil. They've drilled one hole and are drilling another. They're employing not only 100 local people for their exploration program, but also local machinery. What's wrong with that? I know, Mr. Chairman, that you'd like to see them up in the area north of Prince George. After they find the gas and oil in the Cariboo, we'll see what we can do to help you up in that poor area. I'm delighted and so are the citizens of the Cariboo that they're in the Cariboo looking for gas and oil and have been for some time.
Dealing with the opposition again, even the reporters get tired; it doesn't take much to get them tired. They say: "Why are you always talking about the NDP years?" I'll tell you
[ Page 5521 ]
why I'll always talk about it: because I suffered through it, sitting over there and listening to the guff coming from over here, and I saw how they ruined our province. Now they have the audacity to tell our government to step aside and they'll take over. What a bunch of phony baloney.
The observation I want to make — and I want to take some advice from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) — is that I know you're not supposed to be political in here; I might move away a bit from that principle. I know that he does it only when he feels like it. I use the same guidelines to operate in this Legislature: be very careful when you're being political. You're not supposed to talk politics here, but I'll deviate a bit. I say to you, Mr. Chairman, that none of this would have been possible if we'd had a socialist government. The Mineral Royalties Act that they imposed in our province in 1974 drove everybody out — the investor and even the prospector. What was the use of finding anything when they had to give it all back to a socialist government? That is where we're at.
What has happened since 1976 in our province? It's a great success story. I believe a speech was made here by one of the junior Bob Williamses, as I call them, the member for Alberni (Mr. Skelly). He said that it's all caused by the metal prices. Don't buy that garbage, Mr. Chairman. The atmosphere was created by this government through amending the taxation in this province. Right now the metal prices aren't that hot. Why doesn't he say that? But the mining is still going on full-bore, and the expansion in mining. He didn't say that.
I don't want to miss the opportunity to say a word or two about other responsibilities of this fine minister we have now. It relates again to natural gas and the Grizzly Valley story. The silent member here for South Peace River (Hon. Mr. Phillips) would probably be saying the same thing, but he doesn't say much very often. I don't want to miss this. The point is that when they were government, they didn't trust the Minister of Mines with energy, so they gave it to the then Attorney-General and attached energy to his responsibilities. He is now the member for Vancouver East. I never sorted out whether he's the first or second member, but I refer to the former Attorney-General (Mr. Macdonald). He said that there was no gas in the Grizzly Valley. That's why the government wouldn't in any way have anything to do with it. Of course, once we turfed them out.... I hear he's going to get turfed out on his own. He'd better watch. They're going to get him in the back, right within his own party. I hope he's listening. I hope he's in the precinct and not out playing tennis. I think he should worry about himself, because I hear that within their own party he might even lose his nomination. I wouldn't like to see him away from this House, because he's a bit of a veteran, but he was sure a hopeless energy minister, I want to assure you.
Again through our policies, the Grizzly Valley is one of the biggest finds of natural gas we've had in years, and I believe this fine exploration company called Canadian Hunter had something to do with that. But we also got a pipeline, and everything is "go." We're having a little problem now with selling the gas because of Ottawa, but that's a little stickier one I don't want to get into.
I just want to get back to the member for Atlin, who is forever after the wrong minister in his debate. The socialists are all in bed with the Liberal government in Ottawa, so maybe they could get out of bed with them and help us with the energy policy too, where Ottawa is trying to take all the revenues from our natural resources.
You know, when Dave Barrett was the Premier of British Columbia, he said that if the Liberals in Ottawa would nationalize the petroleum industry they could have all our natural resources. That's his policy, and that's a great policy, because there they are in bed again with the Liberal government in Ottawa. They give it all to Ottawa.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Just a moment, please. The Minister of Transportation has the floor.
HON. MR. FRASER: Anyway, that's their policy, Mr. Chairman. The socialists in our province would give all our natural resources revenue to Ottawa. For what? To develop a national energy program. And do you know what that is? Buying out all the gas stations in all of Canada, and latterly buying out Petrofina, and we in the west now pay for a bunch of new service stations. The national Liberals and the national NDP agree it is great. What an energy policy: just go in and buy more service stations, and again put the little guy out of business with big government.
How do you ever rationalize that? Did you ever see a government able to run service stations? Well, you're going to see it now whether you like it or not. The socialists agree with that policy, so thank them every time the price goes up for buying another service station. It's their policy as well as Pierre Elliott Trudeau's.
It all boils down to the socialist philosophy: they want to make serfs of the people of the province, and they want to be the landlords. That applies to gas stations, or to land. I see the member for North Island (Mr. Gabelmann) is here enjoying himself; he's the member who said that nobody should own land. That is right in the record of Hansard for 1974. He wants everybody to be a serf and the Crown to be the landlord. Well, this government doesn't believe in that policy.
Mr. Chairman, after the Minister of Mines in the NDP government brought in Bill 31, the Mineral Royalties Act, he got into some difficulty, and while they gave some of his responsibilities to the then Attorney-General, the final Minister of Mines in that government was the present first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk). He assumed the Mines portfolio and came out with the Barrett policy, which was that if you wanted a mine in this province, you had to come to the Premier's office. Again, an election came along. I didn't have time to tell him I was talking, but I'm sorry he isn't here to listen to me, because he'd be interested. I imagine he's out practising law. Really, his job is to be here in this Legislature, not out practising law.
Again with regard to their mining policy, I notice they've been pretty silent in places in the province. It all boiled down to this: come and wheel and deal in the Premier's office — not our Premier, but the then Premier. The irony of that was he was in so much trouble nobody could get into his office to talk about anything. So that was their policy.
HON. MR. FRASER: Yes, just on mining alone — the way you ruined the mining industry in this province — you deserve to get thrown out of office and you'll continue to get thrown out of office. On behalf of the prospectors, miners and so on in this province I want to say to you people over there: shame on you! There are still a lot of you sitting here
[ Page 5522 ]
right now who voted for Bill 31, the Mineral Royalties Act. There are some new people here, but the member for North Island (Mr. Gabelmann), the member for Rossland-Trail (Mr. D'Arcy), the member for Mackenzie (Mr. Lockstead), the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea) and members who sit in all those empty seats were here. Those seats are empty so much that I can't remember who's supposed to sit in them.
AN HON. MEMBER: Did you vote against the Land Commission Act?
HON. MR. FRASER: I voted against the Land Commission Act. You bet I did. I voted against the Mineral Royalties Act too.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Three minutes, hon. member.
HON. MR. FRASER: Oh, I didn't know you were under a time-frame here. I've got an hour more of copious notes here, Mr. Chairman. I did all my research out of The 1,200 Days: A Shattered Dream. I read that book three times between Friday and Monday, and I'm going to read it again. I'd like to table the book. I recommend it to all citizens of the province to read and memorize.
MR. HOWARD: The point of order I want to raise relates to the fact that the minister said he had an hour longer of copious notes. Most of us didn't get much entertainment by way of fiction over the weekend. I wonder if the minister would be permitted to continue in his fairyland discussion.
HON. MR. FRASER: I certainly appreciate the member for Skeena wanting me to continue.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I'd like your guidance. It's my understanding that once a member takes his seat and another member stands, the time starts again.
MR. HOWARD: Mr. Chairman, that's exactly right, except that if the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources had been paying attention, he'd know that I rose on a point of order.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. There has to be an intervening speaker. Outside of that, the rules of committee allow a member to speak as many times as he wishes on a particular vote. If the committee is concerned about more comments from the member who is now speaking, there will be ample opportunity for that. However the three minute light is on at this point, and with that said the Chair once again recognizes the minister.
HON. MR. FRASER: It won't take me long to say what I have to and I'll go....
AN HON. MEMBER: We want to hear an hour.
HON. MR. FRASER: Well, yes, it'll take me an hour, but if the bell rings on me, I'll go and do some more research and come back tomorrow.
I want to tell you that I'll do my research in the book, "1,200 Days of Socialism." I'll table that for backup notes. They always want backup notes. They never give us any.
I'm proud of the record of this government with regard to mining and the investments and jobs mining has generated. While this minister doesn't need any compliments from me, I want to compliment him for making sure that natural gas is coming to Vancouver Island. It's something that governments of the last 50 years have put off. The socialists were going to do it, but they backed off at the last minute. I'd like to congratulate him on his fight on behalf of the people of British Columbia over the Liberals in Ottawa and their natural resource policy. They're stealing from us. He is a tough fighter. I only wish him lots of luck.
The socialists over there are in bed with the federal Liberals. I'd like to hear what their position is, other than supporting the federal Liberals on everything. I can't understand why people in this province vote NDP federally, when actually when they get back there they all get in bed with the Liberals anyway. They might as well vote Liberal as vote NDP. It's all the same thing.
I don't know what colour your light is, Mr. Chairman. I'm colour-blind. I know that I'm finished. I'll be back later. I want to congratulate this Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. He doesn't have any trouble making decisions to benefit the majority of citizens in this province. Carry on with the good work.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: I'd just like to respond to a number of the items raised by the member for Atlin (Mr. Passarell). I would hope that the Chair would show me the same kind of latitude that the member for Atlin was shown in terms of answering some of the questions which were raised. While I resent terms like cultural genocide and things like that, directed in any way towards me since I've been in public office for some time, I defend my public record against anyone in this House. I won't protest or ask for any withdrawals, but I would ask the people in the House and the people in the province to recognize that that kind of overkill and over-reaction doesn't help the debate in this Legislature. I think that any reasonable person hearing that would reject it out of hand.
I don't exactly know where to start, but perhaps I could attempt to go through many of the questions in the kind of order in which I remember them. If I miss something, I'm sure it will be brought to my attention.
Much of the debate by that member, at least, really had nothing to do with the administrative responsibility of my ministry. But in answering the questions, I suppose I as well have to stray to some degree from the administrative responsibility of my ministry. If I am drawn to order, then I won't be able to answer those questions. I would hope they would wait until the minister's estimates come forward — that is the Ministry of Environment.
First of all, there's much made in relating the question of Kitsault to a report done for the government by the Fisheries and Oceans department of the federal government and our Environment ministry, by Michael Waldichuk and R.J. Buchanan. It comes to our attention by various means from a number of people — and it certainly began before this report was made public — who had, I suppose, left the impression that the damage — if not very serious damage, it was perhaps damage which would could never be repaired — had been done because of the tailings disposal at Rupert Inlet. Everything from "disaster" to "catastrophe" was used in describing what that report might contain. Again today we're given some indication by the member for Atlin that that report does say those kinds of things.
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It does say that there have been some difficulties, and it recommends a number of ways in which those difficulties can be overcome. But I think it's important that we also remember the main conclusion of that report. While recognizing the problem and recommending some solutions, the bottom-line conclusion of the report is just this: "With the present evidence available on the ecological impact of the existing mine tailings disposal system, a change to one of the alternative techniques — in other words, going to another disposal system for tailings — "does not appear to be warranted."
That was what the report said in the bottom line, as the final conclusion. Sure, there were some problems. In many ways that was kind of a laboratory situation, Those problems were recognized and solutions were suggested. At the same time, the tailings disposal question at Kitsault used, as part of its model, recommendations from that report in coming up with the final solution.
There were a lot of questions about having land disposal of those tailings. The real reason is simply because land disposal would probably be more dangerous to the environment than would tailings disposal into Alice Arm. One of the things that grieves me is that people who have never been to Kitsault — for good reason, because it's a very difficult and remote location — talk about things like this in sort of abstract terms. They haven't seen what the mining company is doing there. The member for Atlin refers to the tailings disposal system as archaic. In fact it's a very sophisticated, expensive and safe operation which is being put into place in Kitsault.
The Minister of Environment (Hon. Mr. Rogers) and I have taken the opportunity to go to Kitsault to make sure that we at least understood what was going on. I commend to anyone else who is interested to go there and just see what's happening. For instance, I wonder if the member for Atlin has been there, especially in recent times since much of the work has been put in place. I don't know whether he has or not. If he hasn't I hope he goes.
A lot of money — hundreds of thousands of dollars — and a lot of time were put into the question of tailings disposal. Because of the very serious concerns of technical experts from all parts of government and private industry, it was decided that because of the topography of the area where that disposal would have had to be done — the heavy rainfall, and being in an earthquake-potential zone — the danger done to the entire environment, including Alice Arm and its marine environment, should a spill ever happen as a result of damage due to an earthquake or or some other reason — or just a failure of the rock wall which would be necessary to hold the tailings on land.... There would indeed be a catastrophic effect as the tailings were dumped into that area. In addition, even if all of that didn't happen, and the rock wall held all the tailings and there was no accidental damage or other kind of damage, then the question of whether or not heavy rainfall could be contained and be safe was also considered, and it was decided that the wall couldn't retain the rainwater, The activity would continue, and the leaching activity of the material contained behind that wall would continue not only now, but long, long after the activity had ceased. After the 26 years of the mine operation, that activity might continue for fifty or a hundred years. I don't know how long, but the seepage would then find its way to the shore and the fines from those tailings would also move and contaminate shellfish and other shallow-based organisms which live in that upper 50 feet of the water where most of the life systems are found — certainly the life systems which are required to support the native fishery, the shellfish and any other fishery found in that area.
So the next question was: what do you do with it? I must remind members that there was a mine operating in that area for some time. That mine was depositing its tailings directly into Line Creek, and then the tailings would find their way into the top of the inlet and then presumably settle at the bottom. It was recommended by the scientific advisers in all of the ministries, Fisheries Canada and Environment British Columbia, and those technical experts from the mining company as well, that one of the ways to ensure that the life system living at the top 50 feet of the inlet would not be damaged was to make sure that the tailings are deposited below that area. I don't know the scientific terms for them, but basically I guess it's the area where the sunlight can get at them. So that's where the life begins, grows and continues.
Drop those tailings down into the inlet below where the sunlight is, and you don't directly affect the life systems of those marine occurrences which are in Alice Arm. So that was the reason for developing the kind of deep disposal system which was agreed to and permitted by all levels of government. Again, that was taken both in the light of the experience of Rupert Inlet and the experience which would happen when the mine, B.C. Molybdenum, was first in operation at Kitsault.
It's important too, since the member talks about toxic wastes being dumped into Alice Arm, to understand what exactly is being disposed of in Alice Ann. The tailings are 99 percent ground rock, with fresh water. They have a general consistency of the sand you find on the beaches around this province. All of it meets all of the federal and provincial discharge regulations. The company itself — and I'm not an apologist for the company.... We demand as a government that any company wishing to go into mining in British Columbia goes in under very detailed conditions of operations, and we insist that those conditions are met. In many instances they are met above our recommendations.
There were over 35 technical reports examining the ocean currents, metal content of the water, sediment, the populations of the marine organisms present in the inlet, water clarity; everything else having any bearing on this was examined in detail over and over again. The mineralized rock which has been ground to the consistency which I mentioned earlier and mixed with water contains heavy metals which are a fraction of a percentage point of the total amount of the solution.
They are well below — and I can't say it too many times any limits permissible under federal or provincial regulations. The radium 226 which the member talks about so much and which has been publicized in many other areas is present in minuscule amounts. In fact, the radium 226 which will be included in the tailings which will be going into Alice Arm is less than any of the radium 226 which is already found naturally in the volcanic rock of that area.
It has been shown by the various scientific studies which have been done that no harm to the food chain of the Nishgas or anyone else has been predicted.
I should quickly, for the benefit of the public and others, go over the chronology of the Amax mine at Kitsault.
I should also remind you, MT. Chairman — and our friends in the Legislature — that the development of the mine and mine site is basically complete. It will house about 1,000 people when the mine goes into production. Again I wish I
[ Page 5524 ]
had the opportunity to see that everyone in this Legislature could visit that townsite. I believe that the company has done an admirable job in providing the best possible environment, which will be necessary to operate that town, for its workers and the associated workers of any company that I've seen in a long time. Working in an area like that is pretty tough. It's hard to attract workers to come into a place that only has air access, although a road is being constructed. That will be overcome sometime in the future.
The housing that's going in there is of extremely high quality. The apartments being developed — for single men, single women and families — are of extremely high quality. The working conditions meet the highest standards possible in that mine site. I think that rather than condemn the company's efforts, there should be some praise for the way in which they've developed that mine site in order to make sure that their workers have the best opportunity for the best lifestyle that they possibly can, given the tough conditions under which they'll have to work and live.
All of the studies which have been done into all of the aspects of the mine, including the tailings disposal, were designed to ensure that the mine can operate and dispose of its tailings with the smallest possible impact on the environment of the area. It is, of course, the tailings which have attracted most of the controversy. Besides what I've said about the reasons for the dumping into Alice Arm, which at its deepest point is about 1,200 feet, it's estimated that after 26 years of operation of the mine, about 30 feet to 40 feet of that 1,200 feet will have been covered. Despite all of that, that's not the end of it for us, because there will be a very detailed monitoring program, which the company must operate while the mine is in operation. It's been developed to make sure that those standards are not only observed but that those standards work. Most evidence at this point indicates that there will be no adverse affect on the fishery of Alice Arm or the surrounding waters.
This mine has quite a history. This whole question goes back to about 1960 when exploration of that ore body began in this province. B.C. Molybdenum built the original townsite, some roads and some powerlines. They started operating in October 1967. As I said earlier, tailings were discharged directly at that time into Lime Creek and from there into Alice Arm. Later in 1970, while B.C. Molybdenum was still in operation, the company made application to dump 10,000 cubic metres of tailings daily into Lime Creek. However, at that time the company ceased operation because of economic reasons. It was bought later by Climax Molybdenum. That company's name was later changed to Amax. There were a lot of consultants, including Dr. J. A. Littlepage of Victoria, who carried out studies. There were about 35 technical reports which provided the background data needed to evaluate the impact of the tailings.
The company applied for a permit to dispose of those tailings in Alice Arm in 1975 — six years ago. It is a requirement that those notices be published in various ways so that anyone in the public who wishes to oppose those applications can do so. The member says that the government, in some way, chose to publish them in newspapers hundreds of miles away from the actual site. The fact is that they were published in thePrince Rupert Daily News, which is the largest and most read newspaper of the area.
AN HON. MEMBER: What about the Province?
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Well, we have always published in local newspapers. It's been a requirement. I'd dispute that member, but certainly we published in the paper which was most readily available and the same paper, I'm sure, which carried these notices at other times. We published in The B.C. Gazette, of course. There was a notice on the wall of the post office in Kitsault, as is the responsibility. I wasn't in Kitsault or Prince Rupert at the time, but I would expect that that notice would not have gone unnoticed, and that there would have been the opportunity for public opposition at that time if public opposition had been either necessary or desired. There was none.
Another permit application was submitted proposing the disposal of tailings into Lime Creek. Once again those notices were published and there was no protest. However, this application was withdrawn in favour of a better plan to dispose of the tailings. It isn't as though objectors didn't have lots of time. Our Pollution Control Act and regulations stipulate that after publication there are 30 days available to notify the director, and that even after a permit is issued objectors have another 15 days to appeal to the Pollution Control Board. All these regulations were met in 1975 and 1976. There was no public opposition. In 1978, after three years of study following the publication of these notices — only after three years of study — the pollution control branch prepared a resume which recommended that the permit be issued. The permit was issued in 1979, those appeal periods went by, no appeals were filed, and then the federal government issued its approval. In April 1980 the Nishga native convention was held. At that time the first public opposition to the mines operation was heard, and a resolution was passed at that convention opposing the mine.
[Mr. Davidson in the chair.]
I don't want to go on and on, because I really feel that much of this should be dealt with by my colleague the Minister of Environment (Hon. Mr. Rogers) during his estimates.
I must say that the conclusion reached in regard to the disposal of tailings at Kitsault was not a hasty one. It had exhaustive study, and exhaustive time was spent on ensuring that the environment would be protected, and of course the marine environment is the most important consideration there.
I can only conclude by saying that I believe the scientific study, careful planning and intelligent regulations should have answered those concerns about the environmental damage and the damage of the food supply source of the Nishgas. I believe the disposal system has been subject to the most extended study and conditions possible and shown to be environmentally safe. I believe that even with that extreme care which will be taken in the disposal of tailings the ongoing monitoring of that disposal system will ensure that conditions contained in the permit are always met, and that it will go on being safe.
We've talked with members of the federal advisory board on trawl fishing, and we've been advised that the potential for a commercial fishery in Alice Arm is very small. That conclusion was supported by findings of the consultants who were involved in developing the permit. There is sport fishing in Alice Arm at some times of the year, and there has been some fishing for spring salmon in outer Alice Arm over the past 15 years. But it's interesting to note that there hasn't
[ Page 5525 ]
been any evidence of native Indian fisheries in the area from about 1974 to 1978.
I'd like to say too that since 1911 there has been extensive mining in the Alice Arm area. More than 350,000 tonnes of copper, lead, molybdenum, silver and gold have been produced from both open-pit and underground mines in the area. Up until 1980 — after all those years of mining activity — there has been no public opposition to mining in that region.
I close by saying that it's interesting that the member for Atlin ended his comments with a quote from the book The Town that Got Lost. That book is about the Anyox mine, which is across the inlet from Alice Arm. The Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland) will remember that mine, because I believe he was born there, as at least one other member in this House might have been; I'm not sure. Members may not remember, but the smelter associated with that mine was the largest copper smelter in the British Empire when it was in production in the first decades of this century. I doubt that there's anyone in this House who could bring forward evidence that the native Indian fishery, the sports fishery or any other part of the fishery in that inlet has been affected detrimentally after almost a century of mining activity in a province which counts mining activity as one of its most important economic factors.
MR. GABELMANN: In my comments this afternoon I didn't intend to deal at very much length with the Kitsault situation. I did want to suggest to the House that several of the comments the minister has just made deserve some reply. There have been reports that the Nishga people are dependent for food upon the fishery in the Alice Arm area. I've got a federal government report in my hand which makes that particular point. There is quite a bit of evidence that the fishery in Alice Ann is essential to the Nishga people. That's been an historical fact in that area.
I guess I have the only other two water tailings — disposal sites in the province in my riding. One is in salt water; one is in fresh water. The freshwater one is technically not in my riding, because it's out in the mountains. It's technically in the riding of the member for Comox (Ms. Sanford). It's Western Mines — now Westmin, as it's commonly known, at the head of Buttle Lake. The effects of that particular dump are felt in my constituency. When that mine was being proposed, a then member of the government, Mr. Dan Campbell, made comments that were strikingly similar to the minister's reply this afternoon. Mr. Campbell assured the residents of Campbell River that there would be no deleterious effects on the lake or on the river system that flows beyond the lake as a result of that tailings disposal into Buttle Lake.
Everyone now knows that there is no freshwater trout fishery left in Buttle Lake, because there are no live fish left in Buttle Lake as a result of the tailings from that particular mine. Yet a cabinet member in this Legislature in the mid to late sixties was prepared to stand up and absolutely guarantee the people of Campbell River that there would be no deleterious effects. How can we treat the comments of the Minister of Mines today any differently from the way in which we treated Dan Campbell's in 1966 and 1967?
The truth is that we really don't know absolutely for certain what the impact of dumping those tailings into the salt water is going to be. There is something else that is probably even more important. The public don't feel that they have had a full say and full input — if I can use that horrible word — into the processes that have led to the decision. Decisions that are made without public confidence are not good decisions. This is not a good decision.
Let me refer briefly to the other tailings-disposal site in my riding of North Island: the Utah Mines disposal into Rupert Inlet-Quatsino Sound. That has been going on now for about ten years. The minister referred to the Waldichuk report, which I might say contains just about every point of view imaginable as a conclusion about the effect of that particular tailings disposal in Rupert Inlet. As the minister says, he does conclude that, aside from a whole series of improvements that should be made, it should continue into the salt chuck.
You just have to travel down Quatsino Sound to realize that the tailings themselves have now dispersed throughout the entire sound — into Holberg Inlet, even drifting down to Neroutsos Inlet, all the way out to Kains Island now, where they're finding the remains from the tailings. That's something that is affecting the livelihood of people in that area too. What do we find? We find the arsenic level in the prawns and other shellfish in that area has reached levels that are approaching and in some cases beyond the tolerable levels. Yet we have the minister defending that particular approach. There's no serious consideration of some of the modern technology that can be used to make sure that land disposal sites are safe.
I agree, and every member in this House would agree, that land disposal of tailings in high-rainfall areas is a problem. There is no question about that, But certainly we should begin to apply some advanced technology and scientific knowledge to solving that particular problem. It might cost a bit more money, but we want those mines in production; we want those jobs and we need that kind of resource activity in our province. It may cost the company some portion of their profits to make sure that those tailings are disposed of in a satisfactory manner, but now they're not being disposed of entirely satisfactorily in the Rupert Inlet by Utah Mines; and they are now absolutely not being disposed of satisfactorily in Buttle Lake — the two examples we have.
Here we have the minister standing up and making the same kinds of comments that Dan Campbell made 15 years ago, saying: "I can assure you; I can assure the people of this province" — in that case the people of Campbell River — "that there will be no deleterious effects." The lake is now dead; the drinking water is contaminated; the fishery is suffering; and heavy metal concentrations are approaching, and in some cases exceeding, tolerable and legal levels.
I wish the Minister of Transportation and Highways (Hon. Mr. Fraser) was still here, because I wanted to recommend some reading for him for next weekend. He read The 1200 Days last weekend, and I would recommend to him, if he's listening on his speaker, that next weekend he read Son of Socred, to balance his reading schedule a little bit. I might say too, Mr. Chairman, although the member for Delta (Mr. Davidson) wasn't in the chair at the time, out of the 30 minute speech from the Minister of Transportation and Highways, 20 minutes had no relevance whatsoever to the ministerial responsibilities under debate at this point.
I want to remind him that while he may think mining started in British Columbia in the Cariboo in the 1850s, in fact there was mining in North Island in the early 1800s in Fort Rupert — just to set the record straight for those people who read Hansard and those people who are in the gallery this afternoon.
[ Page 5526 ]
In passing I might make one more comment about the Minister of Transportation and Highways' speech, charging us with being in bed with the Liberals. If we were, the federal government would have listened to Jim Fulton; if we were, the Socreds wouldn't have hired Paul Manning; if we were, Ron Basford wouldn't be earning $600 a day. Who in this province is in bed with the Liberals? It's obviously the government opposite.
Mr. Chairman, I will now begin on the issue that I wanted to deal with this afternoon. I want to do this by way of question and answer, if that's appropriate. First of all I will read a letter from the minister dated May 7. I might say in passing that this letter was dated. May 7, was mailed from the buildings presumably on that day, and reached Campbell River on May 8, which is typical of my dealings with the mail service in this province; I think it is pretty good.
Let me read a short paragraph from the letter of the minister, Mr. Chairman. This refers to the Quinsam Coal project about which this particular resident of my riding wrote to the minister. The minister says in part of his letter: "The stage two report was submitted to provincial and federal review agencies in January 1981, and it is anticipated that the review will be complete by April 1981." This letter is dated May 7, 1981. I wonder how the minister expects people to make any sense out of getting a letter dated at least a week later than the review was to be completed. It may well have been a typographical error; it may well be that this is a form letter, which it looks like to me, and the letters just kept going on.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: I'll get it fixed.
MR. GABELMANN: You'll get it fixed, but that's obviously not the issue.
Mr. Chairman, before I proceed, we may be able to do this very quickly this afternoon and save me from making a long speech if I could just ask the question of the minister first of all: at what point is the stage two proposal of Quinsam Coal — of what was Weldwood-Lusgar and is now only Weldwood — their application for a coal mine in Campbell River?
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Chairman, the submissions for the guidelines have been completed. The review is completed and ELUC, the Environment and Land Use Committee, is now determining what advice should be given to the company as a result of that review.
MR. GABELMANN: Mr. Chairman, I listened carefully. That was in the present tense: ELUC is now examining what response should be given to the companies with respect to their stage two submission.
May I make a few brief comments about some of the issues that ELUC, of which the minister is a member, should give some thought and consideration to, while considering the stage two presentation. Very early on, the guidelines for coal development in British Columbia contain a paragraph that starts out saying: "Developers are encouraged to seek out public response to their projects before presentation to government." It goes on at some length to describe the reasons for the involvement of the public, and to explain why the company is encouraged to seek out public response.
First of all, in this case the company has done next to nothing about seeking out and involving the community of Campbell River in the particular project. They were present at a meeting that I attended more than a year ago, at which time they gave no information other than just to deflect questions away from the issues that people in Campbell River were interested in. They have promised now for many months to set up an office in the community to allow their presentation to be examined by the public. That has not been done. They have refused to attend meetings of the many environmental groups that exist in Campbell River. They have refused — whether it's been a specific group that's concerned about this project such as the environmental council in that community, or other groups — to make any effort to share with the public and involve the community in what they're doing. The people who did show up at the meeting — the one time it happened — are now no longer with the proposal. One of the gentlemen involved, in fact, has died in the meantime.
The company appears to be going through some very dramatic changes in approach. It was a joint approach by Weldwood, who have the rights, and Lusgar, who have the experience in Alberta, at least with coal mining. Lusgar has now pulled out. I would ask the minister if he has any explanation for the withdrawal from this proposal of the one side of the consortium that had some experience with coal mining. Certainly Weldwood does not have any of that kind of experience.
That's the whole question of public involvement. It has not happened. What's been the result of that lack of public involvement? It has meant that virtually every group, organization and citizen — I can probably very easily name the ones who do support the proposal — has the feeling that the proposal cannot go ahead, for a variety of reasons, most of which have to do with the economy of Campbell River. Interestingly, in this case, the economy would most likely suffer. Again, no one ever knows for sure in these things. The likelihood is pretty evident that the economy would actually suffer a net loss if this particular project were to go ahead. It's led to absolutely.... I shouldn't say absolutely, because there is the odd individual — out of the 350 or so letters that I've received, I have had one letter in support of the coal mine. I must make that clear. It's about 350 to 1 at the present time. I know that one member of the municipal council is in favour. All the rest are opposed. The Comox-Strathcona Regional District is opposed to the coal mine. It's one of the few areas where we find a coalition between the commercial and sports fishing industries in this province. They're very strongly opposed to this particular coal mine.
There are many unanswered questions. What will happen as a result of a coal mine with such high sulphur content, particularly one located in the middle of three lakes that feed the Quinsam River? The Quinsam River, of course, has on its banks the Quinsam Fish Hatchery — a major hatchery on the coast. The Quinsam River flows into the Campbell River. Part of the watershed affected by the mine is the watershed for the Oyster River. You have in this case the Oyster River and the Campbell River, which both flow into the ocean, and the Quinsam River, which flows into the Campbell River. So there are three major salmon producing rivers, for commercial and sports species. There is no knowledge — certainly in the stage two presentation there's no guarantee — in the scientific community as to what will happen with the high sulphur-content coal that exists in this particular coal deposit. Nor have there been any guarantees or assurances about what will happen to the heavy metal concentration of iron pyrites, which happen to be fairly significant as coal deposit. What
[ Page 5527 ]
will be the effect of leaching that kind of heavy metal into those rivers? In the case of Campbell River, it's almost at the saturation point of heavy metals already because of the Buttle Lake tailings disposal.
In this particular situation, interestingly there are mining engineers in the major group leading the opposition. We have people who have worked in the mining field who have come to Campbell River to retire: one gentleman has 45 years' mining experience; another gentleman was a mining engineer for about 40 years. They raise some very real problems. This mining engineer said:
"Environmentally, the proposal is difficult to defend from the standpoint of a constructive influence on established commercial and sports fish habitat and the vastly worse possibility of toxic influence on the public health of the area population. This is occasioned by the proposed statement that the treatment plant excess residues and waste water containing sulphur, nitrates and nitrites, as well as the camp sewage and domestic liquid waste, would overflow directly into middle Quinsam Lake. In times of high water, which is a common occurrence, such contamination would enter the flow of the Quinsam River and could conceivably wind up in the Campbell Lake system — the drinking water source of the entire greater Campbell River area. A remote possibility? Such also was the disastrous Western Mines Buttle Lake discharge fiasco 15 or so years ago."
Then he goes on to talk in some more technical detail — I'm not going to read the whole letter. But he makes a point that he has spent quite a bit of the last 18 months tramping around this site from his own point of view, which is that of a mining engineer. He talks about things like this:
"The topsoil would appear to average six to eight inches in depth, which has been the result of the past 10,000 to 12,000 years of natural erosion since the retreat of the last glaciation. Obviously the rock, despite the good average rainfall, does not break down readily. The company proposal states that all overburden, including the glacial till, as well as the coal itself, will require blasting. The proposal also states that the bottom 150 feet or more is massive sandstone. From experience, this will usually break into large chunks and obviously will not be good material for smooth backfilling of the open-cut areas.
"If the coal company — and that is a large if — could recontour the mined area, it is probable, because of the lack of present topsoil, that 300 to 400 generations could pass before the people could again enjoy the bounties of the present environment. Meanwhile the company advises that they will 'revegetate' the area and cover it with regolith. This is just another word for mantle rock; it means nothing in aesthetics. Despite their assurances of area rehabilitation they admitted in open meetings that they had no actual experience in rehabilitating mountain topography. What a disaster waiting to happen."
He goes on and on about some of the technical problems.
I want to also read just a couple of comments from the Sierra Club, signed by a woman who is very involved in the environmental council of Campbell River. I'll read three paragraphs of her letter:
"The entire Campbell River-Campbell Lakes-Buttle Lake water system is now contaminated with heavy minerals, and Western Mines on Buttle Lake is at least partly responsible for this. Despite 15 years' experience in operating in our climatic conditions, Western Mines have admitted that they are unable to control contaminated surface and tunnel run-offs in the heavy rainstorms which occur several times each year. We questioned Quinsam Coal's claim that their system would be able to cope with these emergency conditions. Lusgar Ltd., the parent company" — this was written before the change — "has only mined in the dry climate of Alberta. We are not willing to be experimented upon, when the results of failure have such a high price tag.
"The fishing industries, commercial and sports, cannot take further degradation of the Campbell River system. Contamination of the presently clean Quinsam River and its tributary Cold Creek, site of the multimillion-dollar fish hatchery, would be disastrous. It would also eliminate Campbell River municipality's only alternative source of potable water should the Campbell system become unusable due to heavy minerals.
"Any moneys generated by the proposed coalmine in revenue wages over the limited period it would operate would never approach the amounts now generated by the commercial salmon fishing, by sports fishing and its satellite industries in equipment, and tourism, on an unlimited renewal basis."
[Mr. Strachan in the chair.]
Mr. Chairman, I don't think it would be particularly useful for me to take up all my time now, and perhaps more in reply later, going through all the information I have. I think the House can understand that what we have here is a unique proposal. It is to develop a mine in a coal deposit high in sulphur content, in the middle of the Campbell River watershed right beside a lake emptying into a river which is the home of a fish hatchery. We had that proposal put forward by a company. In my judgment, and from press reports the judgment of the experts the environment ministry, that proposal is totally unacceptable. I just want to say to the House that I trust that when LUC makes its decision — and I hope it's soon — the letter the company will say, if at all possible, that this project not go ahead; it is unsuitable for that particular area. That could be my first objective. If ELUC cannot say no at this point, I would understand. I couldn't agree, but I would understand. They may feel they have to give the company another opportunity to come back with a second go at stage two to allow them the full opportunity to make their arguments heard. If you cannot say now, and if you say that, I hope ELUC will say it in a way which makes the company understand that they have an amazing and immense amount of work yet to do, not only in the technical studies but in the public involvement, and that it could be very expensive. Perhaps in looking at the overall project, they might reconsider even proceeding any further, because the community will not tolerate that particular mine. I don't believe any member of this House would tolerate it, given the full information on the impact. That's all I want to say about Quinsam Coal, but I did want to make one other comment. We've talked a fair amount about Amax, and the problems at Kitsault. I guess it was a
[ Page 5528 ]
week or so ago that this very elaborate and, as the minister described it, technically superior — using all the modern technology.... I haven't used the right words, but you were giving us the impression that the tailings pipe and the technology used by Amax is as advanced and as modern as anything in the world today, and for those reasons we shouldn't worry. Yet a week or so ago there was a spill which was undetected for a couple of hours in the early part of the morning, affecting in a bad way a considerable portion of the beach at Amax.
Mr. Chairman, I'm sorry to have to say to the House that it's happened again. They had another spill at Kitsault today. This is with the very modern, efficient and good equipment this company is supposed to have installed. And the mine isn't even in full production. What's going to happen when it's in full production? How many spills are we going to have then? What is going to happen?
The minister talked about the waste material going down below the 50-foot mark where it's dark, where there isn't any life. We're getting it all on the shore. It's the second spill in a week.
I wonder if the minister has any comments on some of the issues I raised this afternoon.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: First of all, on the early questions about Amax raised by that member, I'd just like to assure him that, in the government's mind at least, the matters of whether or not all of the environmental protections have been built into mines, whether at Amax or elsewhere, is not a matter of money. It is a matter of making sure that we have the best technical advice we can and that the best possible operations are put forward.
The other members have referred to this report by Fisheries Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the so-called Waldichuk-Buchanan report. That's the reason those reports are commissioned, so that we can monitor. Perhaps there were times when nobody watched what was going on, but I don't think that kind of activity is possible now. Monitoring must take place, and then some action taken as a result of that monitoring.
Again, the member was very fair in quoting some of the recommendations of that report, and it would be irresponsible of the government not to act on recommendations which are both sensible and responsible. I'd like to thank the member for bringing that to my attention.
In the Quinsam coal matter, I can say in response to the stage two guidelines that ELUC does have all the technical reports and the submissions from the company. Again I can only repeat that we are very quickly reviewing those technical aspects at the present time for recommendation and response to the company. I can assure the member that when that response is made, the stage two report will be made public so the public will have the opportunity to review both what the technical committees have submitted and what our response to the company has been. I can't speak for the ELUC committee; I'm not the chairman of it for one thing, and I don't have the responsibility of reporting for ELUC to the House.
I can't answer the question about why Lusgar pulled out. The company had the courtesy to come to me and tell me they were no longer going to be associated with the project. I guess it's not really my business to know why, and they didn't give it to me. I assume they made some economic decisions and decided that project was no longer good for their economic future. I would assume that Weldwood is now actively soliciting some other operating companies to come in with this project, should it ever go ahead.
I'm sure the member knows that during the guideline procedure it's been stated to the company on a number of occasions that it would be wise on their behalf to seek out public response to the project, and, in fact, do more than that — perhaps get actively involved with the public in explaining the project. At one point there were some suggestions made that an office would be opened. It's my understanding that one of the reasons that office wasn't opened was that it was planned that Lusgar would staff the office, and perhaps some of the people at Weldwood don't feel sufficiently capable of explaining the project since they aren't an operating coal company. We've made it clear that if it's serious it would be good for the company to go out and get involved with the community. I've probably had as many letters on this as the member has had, and I would agree that I don't recall any in favour at the present time. I don't think I got that one.
I guess I can't force the company to open an office or to go out and meet with the public. That has to be up to them. I don't think that they're ignorant of what the public feels. They've certainly had lots of representation from the public. In fact, on one occasion I think the company did respond directly to what was a public outcry in regard to where the coal was going to be shipped from and how it would be trucked through the city of Campbell River. They know the public concern is there. I guess they'll have to do what they think is right from their point of view to attempt to meet that concern. Those guidelines will becoming forward very quickly. I would expect the response to the input for the guidelines — I shouldn't talk for the chairman of the committee — will be very soon.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: I too have a couple of questions to the minister. We'll be changing the tack of this debate slightly, since I intend to be discussing the Utilities Commission and the lack of public hearings. I'm sure the minister was expecting this question during the course of his estimates, from myself particularly.
I've heard all of the minister's answers to questions from members from this side of the House in terms of the proposed natural gas line to Vancouver Island and to questions posed to him about the Utilities Commission and the real lack of input that that commission doesn't enjoy at the present time. As you all know, we on this side of the House voted against the Utilities Act. It's not a bad act, except there are about 12 sections of the act to which we had moved motions for amendments, none of which were accepted by the government. As a result of all of that, the government now has the full power to make all decisions in regard to energy matters. In other words, the cabinet has to charge the Utilities Commission with a duty, a job or a project. The Utilities Commission can only look at those aspects of a project that the government might include in its terms of reference and then only recommend back to the cabinet.
The cabinet can continue to do whatever it wishes to do — to accept those recommendations, to ignore them or whatever. I submit to you that while the minister has stated many times in this Legislature, on the radio and elsewhere that the hearings with regard to the proposed natural gas line to Vancouver Island will be put before the Utilities Commission, decisions are already being made, particularly within B.C. Hydro. I suggest to you that the Utilities Commission will be asked to examine, but decisions are being made now.
[ Page 5529 ]
Any recommendations on the hearings will, in my view, be absolutely futile. Contracts are being let and tenders are being called, and so on.
One of the reasons I raise this issue in the Legislature at this time — actually under this minister's estimates is about the only time we can do it — is that I'm worried that the minister is not aware of all the facts. I really am worried, and I'll discuss that in a few minutes. I would like to let the minister know now, in case he hasn't received this telegram or letter that was forwarded to him by the Association of Vancouver Island Municipalities last Saturday when they held their annual meeting in Powell River, that all the municipalities and regional districts of Vancouver Island, including, of course, the Powell River and Sunshine Coast regional districts.... That resolution simply stated that a request go to the Premier of this province and the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources requesting that public hearings be held regarding route selection for the proposed natural gas line to Vancouver Island, and that if no response were forthcoming within a reasonable length of time then the UBCM would be requested to conduct their own public hearings on this matter.
I agree with that resolution, because I think there are a lot of facts that have not been put forward publicly. All these opinions and ideas are being expressed back and forth. You're saying, "I'm right, you're wrong; you're wrong, I'm right, " and this kind of thing. These types of meetings would resolve many of the questions in the minds of all the people interested in this proposal for a natural gas line to Vancouver Island. I'm not necessarily saying I'm in favour of a northern route, a southern route or any route, but I am in favour of public hearings, not only in the matter of a natural gas line to Vancouver Island, but full public hearings into Site C dams, the Revelstoke dam, the Kootenay diversion, Hat Creek, you name it — full public hearings before decisions are made. In any event, I'm not aware if the minister is familiar with the resolution I just quoted to him in essence — I don't have the exact wording right here. I'm hopeful he will reply to the AVIM as soon as he does receive that telegram or letter.
One of the things that really worries me about the minister's knowledge on this matter.... I'm not saying that he's going out of his way to present one side of the case over the other. I'm sure the minister is replying to these questions in good faith. But what really bothers me is that, for example.... I've amassed a pile of evidence here that you wouldn't believe — and I'm not going to go through it all — but one example is that on Wednesday, March 18, the minister appeared on the Jack Webster program. I think it was on for about an hour or so. I watched the program with interest and, in fact, was interested enough to phone the program and ask for a tape of the minister's responses in answer to telephone questions and questions by Jack Webster. We examined that tape very carefully. I know that when you're on an open-line show or a radio show or whatever and you don't have the information in front of you, it's quite possible to be inaccurate. You give approximate figures and values and things, you know. I understand that. I'm not accusing anybody of intentionally attempting to deceive anyone. But based on that tape, we've come up with 22 serious inconsistencies on that one program alone. I'm not including the two or three radio programs that the minister has appeared on. Even in this House, just over a week ago when we asked the minister questions — one of the questions being on the proposed cost of the two projects — the minister once again quoted the cost of $125 million for the Hydro proposal. The minister knows that cost is incorrect. Hydro's own figures give us a cost in their estimates of $301 million plus.
The fact is in terms of Hydro, as far as I'm aware — we searched back some 20 years — that Hydro has never brought in an accurate projection on costs on a major project in the past 20 years. The Cheekye-Dunsmuir thing, which I won't get into at this point.... The original cost that was given to us by B.C. Hydro, on that project alone, was approximately $350 million. It zoomed up to $700 million, which we were made aware of because of an internal memo. The minister was good enough to reply to my questions on the order paper; now it's approximately $900 million. The eventual and final cost of that particular project, for which we've never had a financial, economic or environmental justification, is going to be a great deal higher than that. Mark my words: next year when we're standing in this Legislature — or two years from now — you're going find the cost of that Cheekye-Dunsmuir approaching a great deal over a billion dollars.
I've used a figure in this House which the minister obviously says is inaccurate. It may be inaccurate. I don't know. I don't have the real breakdown. If you include in that particular project — before we get back to the gasline — the fact of bringing that energy to Cheekye and the distribution throughout Vancouver Island, you're going to be approaching $1.5 billion to SI.8 billion. With all those costs, the inflated costs and some of the lawsuits that will likely take place with the contractors as so often happens in these big projects because of extra work, harder rock or whatever the reason.... You know how it goes. That's going to happen.
What I'm really concerned about here, though, is that the minister, hopefully, has not made up his mind and does not want to be confused by facts. That's the situation we seem to be in here at the moment. I'll just read a couple of things from the Jack Webster program of March 18. I could spend the rest of my 30 minutes going through this whole thing which I've had typed out and have done a great deal of research on.
I'll make it available eventually to the minister if he wishes. I don't know if he wants it or not.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: I was there.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Well, okay, let's see what you said there, beginning with item number 1. I won't go through all 22. Maybe I will. I don't know. I'll see.
On the Jack Webster program the minister said: "The National Energy Board gives the west coast everything it asks for." The fact is that since 1975 the Attorney-General of British Columbia, the B.C. Petroleum Corporation and B.C. Hydro have successfully frustrated just about every application Westcoast has made to the National Energy Board.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Are you kidding? Are you going to stand up and speak for Westcoast like that when you know the facts?
MR. LOCKSTEAD: No, I'm not kidding. I'm not speaking for Westcoast. I'm not speaking for Centennial. I'm not speaking for Hydro. I'm attempting to enlighten the minister. Some of the statements you're making here, and made on that program, are atrocious and misinform the public of the truth.
[ Page 5530 ]
MR. LOCKSTEAD: No, it's okay. The more he talks, the more he displays to this House how little he knows about this energy project on which he's made an arbitrary decision. He's intransigent on it.
Based on straight economics, you should be listening instead of preaching. You should be listening to the people who are making representations to you. You don't have to listen to me. But the least you could do is listen to the people who are attempting to make representations to you on environmental and economic grounds. All they're basically asking for is public hearings, and you said no. You don't want to be confused by facts. You've made up your mind.
The second statement you made is: "We can appeal to the National Energy Board, but we don't go through the courts." That's what you said. Here it is; you can have a copy of the tape. I'm finished with it. It's only a buck and a half, anyway. The fact of that statement is that the B.C. government was unhappy with a recent National Energy Board decision and did ask for a rehearing by the National Energy Board. When that was denied, the Attorney-General for British Columbia took the case to the federal court of appeal. The court denied the appeal and the government is now considering appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada. So you do have access to the courts. Why do you say you don't have access to the courts? Ask the Attorney-General, who's sitting right in front of you. Okay?
Do you want to hear about overruns — another incorrect statement? Westcoast got to build the Grizzly Valley pipeline without a public hearing. In fact, there was a hotly contested public hearing by the National Energy Board as a matter of law. Is that right? Every application for pipeline construction over 25 miles must have a public hearing, and by official newspaper advertisements. Any competitor, other applicant, or intervener is invited to make an application or submission. There has never has been a departure from this federal law. You know that. You're the minister of that whole department, so you must know that,
You said here — point number five — that Hydro will build this other crossing for $125 million, in comparison to Westcoast's $250 million. But what you forgot to say....
Well, first of all, we've already discussed the figure — everybody agrees that figure is wrong; even Hydro's own figure.... Don't shake your head, Mr. Minister. The fact is Hydro themselves have now admitted to a $301 million-plus cost — and it'll be much higher than that, we all know.
I'm attempting here to make a case for public hearings on this particular item, as well as on every other major energy project in British Columbia contemplated by Hydro. These decisions should not be made in a cabinet room or behind closed doors. All the facts should be laid on the table, and in this particular instance they are not, It's as simple as that.
Okay, number five. Hydro will build this other crossing for $125 million, etc. Fact: Hydro's estimate is merely a bare bones feasibility figure for the crossing to the Island, without any extension from the water's edge. It does not include distribution costs for bringing the gas down through Westcoast's lines, etc. — all that stuff. The response to that is very lengthy, and once again I won't go into that at this time. I can if you wish. These facts have been researched very carefully. A lot of the figures I've used here are from statements made yourself, Hydro's statements and submissions, Westcoast's, Centennial's — Centennial hasn't given us much information; they've kept a lot of their information to themselves to date.
All right, let's move to item number seven. I don't want to go on too long. You said on that program that it was a falsehood that Westcoast and their partners have a fertilizer plant in Powell River. It is only three pieces of paper. That's what you said on the program, It's right here on the tape. The fact is, here is the prospectus for the proposed nitrogen fertilizer plant project for Powell River. First of all, it was submitted by the British Columbia Resources Investment Corporation, Chieftain Development Co., Union Oil of California and Westcoast Transmission. It includes a project overview, location of complex, markets, plant details, capital costs, benefits to British Columbians, environmental considerations and a project-planning timetable. This whole initial prospectus, which is very well done, includes a partnership. BCRIC, which is now going down the tube because of the actions of your government, is one of the participants in this proposed project. It's 25 pages long, and yet you said on that program that it's three pages.
[Mr. Davidson in the chair.]
The point I am trying to make here, Mr. Chairman, is that the minister is not familiar with the facts in this particular project. In order to become familiar with the facts, there's one simple solution: full and open public hearings as to route selection, justification and environmental studies. Let Centennial, Westcoast, B.C. Hydro.... Maybe B.C. Hydro will change its mind and go the northern route — who knows? The decision might be to build no pipeline at all, which I doubt. I don't know those things, nobody does, because there have been no public hearings. How will the facts ever be brought out? They have the facts, no matter what happens after the decisions are made. Ridiculous! You made statements like the one that you didn't like the way Westcoast makes its money, which I could respond to. I thought you were a free enterpriser. "Our decision has nothing to do with Petro-Canada." You don't care who owns Westcoast. "Mr. Phillips' figures are full of baloney." That's a fine way to talk about the chairman of the board of a large company. It's all on the tape.
You go into environmental statements. I was looking for one particular section here. You talked about subsidies and so on. That the Powell River fertilizer plant would require subsidized gas is an incorrect statement. There was one particular statement that I was looking for here without reading this whole thing out. It happens to be item number eight on the fact sheet. You said: "The officials of the fertilizer-plant consortium said they could build a plant elsewhere. Mr. Phillips, I understand, has since confirmed that." The fact is, one of the consortium members did say the plant could be built elsewhere. Yes, he did say that. His reference was to physical possibilities, certainly not to the economics. Phillips acknowledged that that statement could have led to a misunderstanding in Mr. McClelland's mind but made it clear that another location would be very difficult to find. During the last six weeks the experts have examined about 20 other locations at a cost of about $300,000. In terms of the fertilizer plant the fact is that most other locations are not suitable. I know they've looked at Britannia Beach — Dome has quite a bit of property there — and there's no way they could ever build a fertilizer plant at a cost of $670 million at Britannia Beach. I know the Port Mellon site is being
[ Page 5531 ]
looked at. There's very limited space, and there's no natural gas to Port Mellon.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Okay. You could run a whole fertilizer plant by yourself, Mr. Minister of Industry and Small Business Development (Hon. Mr. Phillips). We'll get you up to Powell River and put you on 220 acres up there. Go to work and make an honest living.
Back to the facts. I'm very much aware that there are people opposed to the construction of a fertilizer plant anywhere in British Columbia, and that there are people for it. But the fact is, once again, that if we had public hearings properly conducted before the fact, not after the fact, this information in terms of the environmental aspect of the proposed fertilizer plant for that area would come out.
I would like some assurance from the minister that he will reconsider his position, and that public hearings on these and other projects will take place. I don't want to hear that old answer that the Utilities Commission will be given a mandate to look at this, that and the other thing, particularly when contracts are now being let. I don't want to hear that anymore. We've all heard it a dozen times, and nobody believes it anyway. The decisions are going to be made in cabinet, and the truth is....
HON. MR. FRASER: You talk about public hearings. When Dave Barrett was Premier, he was against them. It's on record.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: No, we had public hearings all over. I can hardly wait to get to the estimates of the Minister of Transportation and Highways. We're going to have fun with him. You'd better go and bone up up there, Mr. Minister.
We're back to energy here. The Minister of Transportation (Hon. Mr. Fraser) said: "No public hearings with Dave Barrett." We ran an open government. There were travelling committees around this province that actually participated. This government over here killed the travelling committees of this province. Where are they now? They just sit here in their offices. They don't want to travel. They don't want to talk to the people. The people don't want to talk to them anymore. That's what it's really about.
AN HON. MEMBER: Why don't you sit down and let the minister answer?
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Well, we will. He's got lots of time. I've only just begun here.
What the Vancouver Sun says about the Utilities Commission in a recent article of March 30, entitled "Marie's Rubber Stamp" — I won't read the whole thing.... The writer ends the article with two very pertinent paragraphs. The writer says:
"Maybe B.C. Hydro customers should have to pay more for the water B.C. Hydro uses. Perhaps B.C., Hydro's proposal for an Island natural gas pipeline is the best one; quite possibly. B.C. Hydro's debt-equity ratio is too high, and maybe the wholesale price of natural gas should be doubled. Every time the government gives the commission instructions to rubberstamp its own decisions, either explicitly or implicitly, it shows contempt for the public it promised to consult, whether the decisions are right or wrong."
I think that pretty well sums up in two short paragraphs where we're at in this province today.
I would like to know from the minister if the government or B.C. Hydro has approached the federal government for part of its promised $500 million petroleum subsidies in terms of this natural gas line. Have you started negotiations with the federal government to get $100 million or $200 million subsidy for the proposed natural gas line to Vancouver Island, or is B.C. Hydro, i.e., the taxpayers of this province, going to have to bear the full burden of that? Have you had contact personally with your federal counterpart? I'd like to know. What are the chances of getting part of that promised federal funding from that federal government which you're bashing all the time and are continuing to bash?
Mr. Chairman, I've got quite a bit more. I look forward to the minister's reply. I'm going to be raising again in this House the matter of the Cheekye-Dunsmuir transmission line and the matter of use of pesticides, herbicides etc. But right now I'll give the minister till tomorrow morning to think up some good answers to the questions I posed, if he can possibly answer them.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
The committee, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
Hon. Mr. Williams moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5:47 p.m.