Fourth Session, 41st Parliament (2019)



Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Morning Sitting

Issue No. 277

ISSN 1499-2175

The HTML transcript is provided for informational purposes only.
The PDF transcript remains the official digital version.


Routine Business

Introductions by Members

Introduction and First Reading of Bills

Hon. D. Eby

Statements (Standing Order 25B)

D. Clovechok

J. Rice

S. Cadieux

B. Ma

S. Sullivan

A. Weaver

Oral Questions

T. Stone

Hon. S. Robinson

C. Oakes

C. Oakes

Hon. S. Robinson

A. Weaver

Hon. M. Mungall

S. Bond

Hon. B. Ralston

M. Stilwell

Hon. C. James

M. Bernier

Tabling Documents

Elections B.C., annual report, 2018-19, and service plan, 2019-20 to 2021-22


T. Shypitka

S. Gibson

J. Thornthwaite

Orders of the Day

Committee of the Whole House

L. Throness

Hon. D. Eby

M. de Jong

I. Paton


The House met at 10:05 a.m.

[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]

Routine Business


Introductions by Members

Hon. M. Mark: In the gallery today, we’re joined by a number of students representing the British Columbia Federation of Students, also known as the BCFS. They represent 170,000 students across the province, and they’re visiting the precinct for their annual advocacy week. There are 40 representatives here in the House today, led by Tanysha Klassen, the chairperson, and Brynn Joyce, the secretary-treasurer. I’m thrilled to be able to recognize their dedication and advocacy for affordable, accessible and high-quality public education. They hosted a breakfast this morning for government MLAs.

Thank you for your advocacy. Thank you for being here. We look forward to meeting with you — the Premier and I — later this afternoon.

Will the House please join me in welcoming our special guests.

Hon. C. Trevena: Joining us today in the gallery are members of the boards of directors of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of B.C., including the chair, Gurjit Sangha from WSP, as well as association president and CEO Caroline Andrews.

ACEC-BC members employ nearly 10,000 British Columbians in professional and technical roles in every community in our province. Association members are involved with the design, delivery and management of B.C.’s critical infrastructure projects, such as the Pattullo Bridge replacement and the Kicking Horse Canyon project. ACEC-BC has long been a trusted adviser to government, and I hope that everyone in this House will make our guests very welcome.

N. Letnick: In the House today we have Christine Sorensen, the president of the B.C. Nurses Union, and Kath Kitts, the B.C. Nurses Union communications officer. They’re here to talk with MLAs and advocate for their members, who are the front line of the B.C. health services. Please, could everyone in the House make them feel really welcome.

S. Cadieux: Colin Harty, from my riding, is here this morning. He’s a denturist and has served the people of British Columbia for over 12 years. He joins denturists from across B.C. here in Victoria this week to showcase denture technology. As we know, October is Denturist Awareness Month in Canada. Would the House please make Colin welcome.

Hon. S. Robinson: We have a team visiting from the housing policy branch here in the House today. Would everyone please join me in welcoming Sarah Petrescu, Michael Duncan, Kendall Butchart, Candice Gartner, Susan Low, Roxanne DeSouza, Olga Liberchuk, Katie Carrothers, Avery Kelly, Jeff Dean, Chelsea Power, Melanie Hope and Courtney Lamb. These people really help government — our work around housing policy — and I want everyone to please give them a warm welcome.

P. Milobar: We have with us today another denturist from Kamloops, Mr. Robby Jaroudi. He’s the owner-operator of Natural Smiles Denture Clinics. I’d ask the House to please make Mr. Jaroudi feel welcome.

Hon. G. Heyman: It’s my pleasure to introduce someone who is both a constituent and works in Vancouver-Fairview. Dave Carney is visiting the Legislature today, along with other denturists, to talk about the services they provide to British Columbians, to seniors, and the regulations that affect them. Will the House please make Dave Carney very, very welcome.

Hon. M. Mark: Joining us today is Marcie Cochrane, project leader with the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of B.C. Her team is working to increase the participation of women in the engineering, geoscience, technology and technician occupations. This will focus on programs to recruit, retain and promote women in engineering and technology roles. Will the House please join me in welcoming Marcie Cochrane.

[10:10 a.m.]

Introduction and
First Reading of Bills


Hon. D. Eby presented a message from Her Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Miscellaneous Statutes (Minor Corrections) and Statute Revision Amendment Act, 2019.

Hon. D. Eby: I move the bill be introduced and read a first time now.

I’m pleased to introduce Bill 39, a bill not easily forgotten, the Miscellaneous Statutes (Minor Corrections) and Statute Revision Amendment Act, 2019. This bill is a collection of minor corrections and technical housekeeping amendments to various statutes. As part of the statute revision process, the office of legislative counsel routinely identifies and brings forward these types of corrections. The minor corrections in this bill are part of the routine process to ensure that B.C. statutes are orderly and correct.

Mr. Speaker: The question is first reading of the bill.

Motion approved.

Hon. D. Eby: I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Bill 39, Miscellaneous Statutes (Minor Corrections) and Statute Revision Amendment Act, 2019, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

(Standing Order 25B)


D. Clovechok: Today I’m honoured to be sharing the story of a local hero from Kimberley who passed away this summer. Graham Mann was the pinnacle version of a volunteer and one of the kindest men I’ve ever known. He worked tirelessly to make the city of Kimberley a better place, focused always on giving back to his community, a community that became global for him.

A loving husband, father and grandfather, Graham embraced life, and he lived it very large. He was so proud of his family and would gush with pride at any opportunity to introduce them, especially at his 80th birthday party, which coincided with a large Rotary dinner. He spent 36 years in the airline business, travelling extensively throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia and South America. He chuckled, saying: “I did it all except fly, fix and finance the airplanes.”

His contributions to Kimberley extended from his passionate role in Rotary. He was named a Paul Harris Fellow four times, an honour bestowed upon a Rotarian who willingly and without pay offers themselves in service to the community. That is the man Graham was — someone who prided himself on being selfless and giving back. In Rotary, he was always apolitical, but outside he loved to bust my chops about what was going in our province and our country and always ended those conversations with a big wink.

In his passing, he was praised by local leaders, who likened him to the Energizer Bunny who could out-fundraise anyone, and characterized him as an incredibly unique and inspiring character. Graham helped create Garden View Village seniors home and the splash park and was a leader in ShelterBox, which provides emergency shelter and supplies to victims of natural disasters around the world.

Graham did everything in his life with love, passion, enthusiasm and purpose, always accompanied by his signature smile. I would ask that everyone in this House join me in applauding Graham and his life so incredibly well lived.

Ride the winds, my friend.


J. Rice: Imagine this place that we’re all sitting in right now, the chamber of the assembly, otherwise known as the big House. Imagine if this place was destroyed, and we couldn’t carry on the orders of the day, introduce bills or conduct our legislative business. Well, that’s what happened to the Heiltsuk. Their parliament, their place of government, was destroyed, likely by missionaries, over 120 years ago with the goal of assimilating the First Nation.

Missionaries claim that the last big house was blown down in a storm, but no one ever believed that because the area was chosen to live in because it was so sheltered from the storms. So it was such an honour to be invited by the Heiltsuk First Nation to attend the opening of their brand-new big house this past week, Gvúkva’áus Haíɫzaqv.

[10:15 a.m.]

Gvúkva’áus Haíɫzaqv, or House of the Heiltsuk, took a year and a half to build and is constructed entirely of red and yellow cedar from Heiltsuk territory. The community spent this past week with guests from all over B.C. and as far away as New Zealand. The opening means the community now has an appropriate space for carrying out their governance systems and for their ceremonial events like potlatches and the naming of babies, which had previously been carried out in a community centre.

Indigenous artists worked tirelessly to design, carve and paint four house posts that tell the origin story of Heiltsuk people. They are stunning and magnificent.

Cultural adviser William Housty said the Big House is described as a living space. The rafters and house posts serve as the ribs and backbone of the structure, the front of the Big House as its face. “It has the same sort of qualities we do as humans…. There’s a sense of pride knowing the dreams of so many ancestors are now being lived by our generation — people like my late grandfather, who always talked about the big house and how important it was. Now we’re living their dreams,” he says.

Heiltsuk Chief Marilyn Slett says: “Going forward, it’s a symbol of our strength and our resilience as people.”

The strength and resilience of the Heiltsuk people is unquestionable. Wálas ǧiáxsix̌a to the Heiltsuk for the invitation to witness this historic opening.


S. Cadieux: If I asked you to picture a secretary, you’d probably have an image pop to mind quite readily — the female secretary, the admin, the second wife, the personal assistant, and the role with no potential for growth. It’s not surprising, really, since it’s been the most common career for women since the ’50s and ’60s. Frankly, TV and movies have cast so many memorable characters for us, it’s not unlikely that some of you pictured Bond’s Moneypenny, Pepper Potts from Iron Man or Joan Harris of Mad Men.

Of course, if I asked you to picture the average working woman today, you would probably come up with something a little different. However, according to the 2016 census, “administrative assistant” is still in the top ten roles for women. The career area being female-dominated is understandable in the 1950s, when fewer career options were open to women, but today, with women earning more graduate degrees than men, why don’t the demographics of the administrative positions today reflect more gender parity?

Let’s face it: there’s a negative bias associated with the title of EA, and not many men are lining up to apply for administrative positions because it’s considered to be the housework of the office. In order to attract top talent to the role, though, many have dropped the EA-to-CEO title and have evolved to manager of executive operations, administrative business partner or chief of staff. Not only does that better suit business needs, but it also means that more men will apply for the job.

The role of EA became, over time, much more dynamic, and the individual must encompass the same competencies as the people they support — influencing and managing people, power dynamics and executing on business strategy. They are troubleshooters, schedulers, gatekeepers, translators, human databases, diplomats, travel consultants, ambassadors, researchers, writers, mind readers, right hands, and they are often the company backbone. The title of “assistant” is hardly the correct title for this type of role.

This may be the golden age of executive assistants. Highly educated, ambitious young people, most of them women, with demonstrated superior soft skills of IQs and EQs are in demand. Despite that, the EA still seems to be an underappreciated role. The compensation, while on average has improved, still likely reflects the gender bias that has yet to be balanced. Let’s hope it’s not the underappreciated role of the next decade.

To all of those EAs out there today, thank you for the job you do. Unsung and stealthy, you keep us highly productive and on track. And to the ones who have since retired, like my mom, thank you.


B. Ma: The first weekend of October was typical of fall in North Vancouver. The leaves were beginning to turn, people were out and about enjoying the autumn sun, and many soccer games were being played throughout the North Shore. Yet on what you might expect to be noisy fields peppered throughout the region, alive with laughter and shouts, cheers and jeers, there was a solemn silence, a solemn quiet shared by them all — a moment of silence in honour of a man named Clark de Boer.

[10:20 a.m.]

A longtime resident of North Vancouver, Clark was a passionate and tireless supporter of sports on the North Shore. He volunteered countless hours of his time coaching, managing, scheduling and serving as a board member for the Mount Seymour soccer club, the North Shore Youth Soccer Association and, most recently, the West Vancouver soccer club.

Over the course of his career, Clark coached both youth and adult players in softball, field hockey and soccer. He was committed to these sports and his community until the day he died, on September 14, 2019, from complications related to his lengthy illness, which he had battled since his diagnosis of esophageal cancer in early 2018.

Clark was born on August 1, 1955, and is survived by his siblings Peter, Fred and Kim; his children, Jessie and Matt; and his loving wife, Lisa, of 36 years. Hundreds of community members packed his memorial service, which was held in North Vancouver earlier this month. Some dressed in their sports uniforms in honour of the contributions that Clark had made.

He is deeply mourned by his friends, family and, indeed, the entire North Shore community.


S. Sullivan: I want to highlight the parents of children in my riding of Vancouver–False Creek and congratulate them on the efforts they are making to see their neighbourhood become more family-friendly. Vancouver–False Creek is wonderful for children in so many ways. Science World, Arts Umbrella, beautifully designed parks and community centres, but a lack of larger homes, street disorder issues and lack of school spaces are especially challenging.

High-density living is good for the environment. The average downtown resident will generate one-quarter of the greenhouse gases and occupy 1/20 of the land. Vancouver–False Creek has many children five years and younger. Our gathering places experience traffic jams of strollers. But there’s a growing number of school-age children who have to enter lotteries to get into their local schools and, if unsuccessful, travel outside of the riding to find schools. Parents drive their children to a distant school and come back home so they can walk to work. Some parents have moved away because of the uncertainty of finding a school. This has been especially difficult for parents like Lisa McAllister who have moved into the Olympic Village and send their children to other neighbourhoods for school.

This model of environmental sustainability has been waiting over a decade for their school, and with over a dozen new high-density buildings built and in progress, the need is only growing. Our wonderful new school, Crosstown, struggles with the challenges that spill over from the Downtown Eastside, just a few blocks away. This has been especially demoralizing for parents like Desiree Miller, who have to balance their concern for others with the priority of safety for their kids.

Henry Hudson parents like Robert Ford also struggle with the problems around competition for space. A development of 3,000 homes just a few blocks away has just been announced. The 100-year-old school is in serious need of an upgrade, which is moving ahead. But they worry that with the anticipated surge in population, it may not be enough.

These parents are the pioneers for a new model of living. Their work will make it possible for families in the future to be confident that their choice of raising a family in a high-density environment will be supported by our broader community.


A. Weaver: It is with a heavy heart that I rise today to pay tribute to a great man, Al Martin, who tragically passed away on October 15. Al was an admired colleague, mentor and friend to many. He was tirelessly devoted to the betterment of fish and wildlife management in our province and spent more than 30 years in B.C.’s public service. He was a beloved leader in B.C.’s conservation community.

Al’s career started as a fisheries biologist in the Kootenays in the late 1970s. In the 1980s, he moved to Victoria and worked in fisheries management before becoming the director of the watershed restoration program. Soon after that, he was the director of fish and wildlife for the province and then assistant deputy minister in the department of agriculture and fisheries.

My office had the great fortune of working closely with Al over the last five years. He was incredibly generous with his time and wisdom. A man of calm, careful, composed and deliberate words, when Al spoke, I listened. He had a strategic mind and determined demeanour. There was never anything I could tell Al. Even if I had breaking news, he’d already have a copy of it in his back pocket.

[10:25 a.m.]

Highly professional and laser focused, the only subject that could distract Al from the issue at hand was his family. Al had three children — Alex, Michael and Joanne — and considered his beloved wife Julie’s four daughters his own as well — Michelle, Christianne, Jessica and Lexi. Al also had nine grandchildren — Elise, Penny, Omri, Meyer, Lincoln, Beckett, Sawyer, Oliver and Hudson — and he adored each and every one of them.

My policy adviser Claire was at a fisheries conference with Al last year. As they sat quietly listening to the presentation, Al took out his phone and slid it across the table without a word. On the screen was a picture of a perfect, brand-new baby — his new grandchild, he said, beaming with pride, born a few days earlier.

Thank you, Al, for your service to our province. May we honour your legacy by advancing conservation for future generations and for your beloved grandchildren.

Oral Questions


T. Stone: As our urban centres grow, the resulting plans for significant densification are placing huge pressure on small businesses, through dramatically increased property taxes based on the undeveloped airspace — literally, a tax on the unused air above their heads.

Last month a broad coalition of arts, culture, small business and local government representatives wrote to the Premier asking for immediate action to address these huge property tax increases. Their proposed solution is to implement a new commercial property subclass for the airspace above small businesses and other affected organizations. This broad coalition is calling on the government to take action now to give small businesses and these small organizations a fighting chance to survive.

My question to the Deputy Premier would be this: will she ensure that her government acts on this coalition’s proposal in time for the 2020 tax year?

Hon. S. Robinson: Well, small businesses, non-profits and the arts and culture organizations are a vital part of our communities and our economy. When we took office a couple of years ago, we heard right away from them that they have been struggling significantly for a number of years. Years of an out-of-control real estate market have left these businesses and the arts and culture and the non-profit industry struggling. Years, because the previous government absolutely ignored — they ignored — an out-of-control real estate market, and they are suffering as a result of that.

When we took office, we heard them, and we set out to look at how the property assessment system works during rapidly increasing real estate markets or significant changes to community plans in zoning. We took action. We engaged with stakeholders, including the cities of Vancouver and other Metro Vancouver cities and other groups, to evaluate short-term and long-term strategies to improve affordability for these important local businesses.

Mr. Speaker: Kamloops–South Thompson on a supplemental.

T. Stone: The minister’s struggles with that answer are only matched by the struggles of small businesses, who are being squeezed like never before under this current government.

The fact of the matter is….


Mr. Speaker: Members. Members.

T. Stone: Well, the member for Vancouver–West End obviously has tremendous influence in his government caucus, because they haven’t acted on it in two and a half years.

[10:30 a.m.]

The fact of the matter is that under this government, in the last two and a half years, they’ve imposed or increased 19 new taxes, including the employer health tax. British Columbia’s small businesses now have the largest payroll tax burden, second highest only to the province of Quebec. We’ve had 25,000 jobs lost, mostly in the private sector, in the last four months alone. Our retail sales are down. Export sales are down. This government needs to step up and throw a lifeline to small businesses in this province.

Now, I’ll refer back to the letter of late September, just at the very first day of the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention — the letter that I referenced in my first question — that was sent to the Premier, to the government, from that broad coalition. Included in that coalition was the city of Vancouver. Here’s what the mayor of Vancouver actually had to say in the letter: “The viability of independent small businesses and the arts, culture and non-profit sectors in Metro Vancouver is under threat” as a result of this “fast pace of change.”

Even the Premier’s own chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, seconded a motion when he was a Vancouver city councillor to address this issue. But the Premier, the NDP government, has done nothing.

My question, again, to the Deputy Premier would be this. Changes could be implemented now. In fact, they need to be implemented now. Will she throw that lifeline to small businesses and act in time for the 2020 tax year?

Hon. S. Robinson: I think it’s really important to acknowledge that this is important for small businesses. It’s an important issue. It’s been coming for…. It’s an issue. Folks who invest in small businesses work hard to put food on their table. They work hard to grow their businesses.

My father was a small business owner, and I remember what it was like when it was difficult at times. It’s really hard on families, and it’s hard on small businesses. We’re committed to working together with the small business community, with arts and culture communities, which is why we brought together various leaders to talk about how to best proceed. It is complex work. It’s incredibly important work.

I also want to remind the member that he raised the issue at the UBCM, and the delegates were absolutely divided on the resolution calling for a new commercial subclass, because local governments, too, have a vested interest in making sure that it’s the right tool to deliver the right outcome. It’s absolutely important that we do that.

We are exploring a variety of tools to take a look at how to address interim measures to resolve a problem that had been building for years while the people on the other side were on this side, and they did nothing about it. We’re working quickly to resolve a challenging issue while we undertake the important analysis that’s absolutely needed in order to deliver a long-term solution.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Kamloops–South Thompson on a second supplemental.

T. Stone: Well, two and a half years to do the analysis on an issue that was a challenge two and a half years ago — it was a challenge a year and a half ago; it’s a challenge today — is time that small businesses just don’t have, to the minister.

The government’s own Small Business Task Force recommended taking action on this. The Union of B.C. Municipality resolution that the minister referenced was actually endorsed by the delegates at the convention. The UBCM wants action. The city of Vancouver is leading a working group on this, which includes, among some other provincial organizations, Metro Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, North Van, Richmond, Surrey and West Van, to name a few. The Chamber of Commerce has had numerous resolutions endorsed by their provincial body. The CFIB is asking for this, arts and culture organizations.

The minister’s response is: “We’re going to continue to do analysis. We’re going to continue to do reviews. We’re going to drag our feet.” Small businesses and these other organizations need action now.

Interstyle Ceramic and Glass in Burnaby saw a 250 percent spike in their assessment due to the increased value of the air above their heads. Small businesses along South Granville are closing their doors, like Ouisi Bistro, West Restaurant and Plum Clothing store, all in the last month. Neighbourhoods are being hollowed out of their small businesses because of inaction of this government.

[10:35 a.m.]

Again to the minister, how many businesses, how many charities, how many arts organizations have to close their doors in communities around this province before the government is going to finally take action to support these organizations?

Hon. S. Robinson: Well, we have been taking action, haven’t we? We cut the small business rate by 20 percent. We eliminated the PST on non-residential electricity, saving businesses more than $150 million annually. That’s the….


Hon. S. Robinson: Since we formed government, we’ve saved B.C. businesses more than half a billion dollars so that they could be more competitive. We are making record investments in child care, in housing and in transportation. We are working together with the business community. We are working together with local governments to make sure that businesses have the opportunities that they have been needing for a significant amount of time. When the people over there were sitting here, they ignored their voices.

C. Oakes: Well, to the minister, it doesn’t matter how loud she talks or how many talking points she continues to bring forward. The fact of the matter, to this minister, is that small businesses in the province of British Columbia are struggling. Once these small businesses are lost, neighbourhoods will be changed forever.

At the Union of B.C. Municipalities, a bill was passed unanimously and a resolution calling on action now by this minister. But the response from this Minister of Municipal Affairs was that her quick action was that “nothing would be possible.”

To the Minister of Municipal Affairs, why hasn’t she acted?

Hon. S. Robinson: Well, we have been acting. We have been…. We engage with stakeholders…


Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. S. Robinson: …to identify…. We work….


Hon. S. Robinson: This is complex and important work. In order….


Mr. Speaker: Members. Please allow the minister to answer the question.

Hon. S. Robinson: We are exploring a number of interim solutions while we do the important work of making sure that we don’t have unintended consequences from a….


Hon. S. Robinson: Well, clearly they’re not interested in hearing what we’ve been up to.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Cariboo North on a supplemental.


C. Oakes: Well, forgive us if the action that this minister has taken — the 19 new taxes — doesn’t cause some area of concern for small businesses across this province.

If this minister was sincere and really wanted to support and take action supporting small businesses, she would listen to the Small Business Task Force that was released one year ago, Small Business Speaks, and listen to the associations of over 30,000 members who have clearly said to this minister that small businesses are hurting in the province of British Columbia.

They require some action. They require this minister to step up and make changes that this report last year said could be done quickly. When will this minister act?

Hon. S. Robinson: Well, first of all, I think we need to thank the B.C. Liberals for the soaring property values under their watch that fueled this challenge that we see today. Those were their actions that put this challenge before small businesses in place. It was their inaction on that that challenged people who are putting their blood and their soul into their businesses, and they are suffering as a result of what they did not do.

[10:40 a.m.]

I also want to point out to the….


Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. S. Robinson: I also want to point out to the member who asked the question about what local governments have been saying, because the resolution at the UBCM was quite contentious…. In fact, there were local governments who opposed the resolution, including the Cariboo regional district, which opposed it. Whistler opposed it. I wonder if the member from Sea to Sky had a conversation with those folks. Or what about the member for Parksville-Qualicum when Lantzville said: “This will not work. This is bad for our community”?

Hon. Speaker, we are going to take the necessary time to make sure it’s the right tool to provide relief to small businesses.


A. Weaver: Yesterday I asked the Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology what his ministry was doing to encourage a strategic approach to transitioning away from the reliance on fossil fuels development in northern B.C. He talked about the importance of innovation. I agree. But there are barriers to innovation in B.C., and those barriers lie in B.C. Hydro.

Take the Borealis geothermal project in Valemount, for example. The member for Prince George–Valemount and I have been trying to get government to recognize the enormous potential for this project to showcase innovation in B.C.’s clean energy sector. British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in the Pacific Rim that isn’t using its geothermal resources. It strikes me as a no-brainer. Community support is strong. Valemount is at the end of an existing B.C. Hydro line, and with Glacier Destinations moving forward, enhanced local power production on an already stretched and often intermittent line will be required.

My question is this, to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. Could she please explain what her ministry is doing to encourage the use of our outstanding geothermal resources?

Hon. M. Mungall: The opportunity for geothermal needs to be proven in B.C., and there are some companies that are doing just that. They’re working to prove up the geothermal resources that have been identified. Borealis is one of them. As the member will know — and the member for Prince George–Valemount — they received a permit just over a year ago to start doing that work. They actually have a new permit before the ministry. I look forward to seeing the recommendation from the ministry in terms of how to proceed with that permit so that they can do the work that they’ve been doing to prove up this opportunity with geothermal.

Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Third Party on a supplemental.

A. Weaver: The reality is that on the ground, nothing is being done, not because of lack of industry or community support but rather because of cumbersome regulatory barriers and the absence of a champion within this government. Geothermal drilling is being regulated by the Oil and Gas Commission via rules that don’t reflect the practice within the international geothermal sector.

There is no ability for geothermal projects to lever existing federal funds without a strong provincial commitment. Our geothermal resources have the potential to diversify and decarbonize B.C.’s energy systems; provide energy with minimal environmental impact footprint — probably the smallest environmental footprint of any type of resource like that; create jobs and prosperity in northeastern B.C.; and provide a showcase for innovation in our clean energy sector.

My question again is to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. When will her ministry start streamlining the regulatory process and start encouraging, as opposed to discouraging, British Columbia’s outstanding geothermal sector?

Hon. M. Mungall: My ministry has done nothing to discourage the opportunities with geothermal — in fact, quite the opposite.


Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. M. Mungall: I’m not too sure why the Liberals are all worked up about this particular issue, hon. Speaker. It’s not like they ever discovered geothermal when they were in office. The reality is that there’s quite a bit of science here that needs to be done, and it’s about a process in terms of actually making sure the resource is sufficient enough, hot enough, to actually generate electricity from it. That needs to be done, and that’s exactly what Borealis and other companies who are interested in doing this work in British Columbia are given the opportunity to do. I’m very glad that they’re here and making those investments, and I look forward to working with them going forward.

[10:45 a.m.]


S. Bond: As we’ve heard, it’s Small Business Week in British Columbia. You have to ask yourself how small businesses in our province are feeling. Well, you don’t need to look very far. You simply need to look at business confidence. Guess what. Under their watch, this government’s watch, it has dropped to among the lowest in the country.

Last year this government heard loud and clear in a report from thousands of small businesses that they expected some action. Here’s what they said: “We respectfully request the minister provide a public response on which particular recommendations have been accepted by the government, including a detailed rationale and an associated action plan.”

One year ago they asked for action, but one year later, what have we seen? No rationale, no plan, no action from this government.

So a simple question to the minister, why were the recommendations of thousands of small businesses in British Columbia simply ignored?

Hon. B. Ralston: I think it’s important to place the comments that the member for Prince George–Valemount has made in the context of the B.C. economy as it is now. Let’s have a look at it.

The private sector forecasters say that B.C.’s GDP growth will continue to outperform the rest of Canada for the next three years. The Conference Board of Canada forecasts British Columbia will continue to lead the provinces in economic growth over the near term.

TD Bank expects B.C.’s economy to top the provincial leaderboard in 2020. The Royal Bank of Canada predicts British Columbia will lead the country in capital investment this year.

Since we formed government, British Columbia has added 73,500 jobs — 56,000 of those, full-time jobs. British Columbia has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada, tied with Quebec in last month’s results. Workers are not being left behind in 2018. British Columbia had the highest wage growth in a decade.

The British Columbia economy is doing well in a very turbulent economic situation internationally, and we continue to go forward.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Prince George–Valemount on a supplemental.

S. Bond: He’s been ignoring them for a year, and he’s ignored the question today. This is about confidence levels of small businesses in British Columbia, amongst the lowest in Canada. What does that translate to? That translates to the potential loss of small businesses, loss of jobs, loss of productivity. What does this minister do? Stands up and rails on and completely ignores the question about the task force that he put in place and has actually ignored the very recommendations.

Let’s be clear. Small businesses in British Columbia are getting layers and layers and layers of taxes — 19 new and increased taxes in British Columbia. That’s not something I hear the minister bragging about on that side of the House.

Let’s ask the question. Why did the minister ignore…? Simple question. There was a series of recommendations. There were some short-term recommendations. Why did the minister ignore the recommendations and has taken absolutely zero action to support small businesses, the heart of the economy in this province?

Hon. B. Ralston: The premise of the question is completely false. Among the steps the government has taken to implement many of the recommendations of the Small Business Task Force is to increase access to labour and skilled workers by working with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

[10:50 a.m.]

The provincial nominee program has been strengthened, and the workforce development agreement has been strengthened.

Just last week I was visiting a rebar manufacturer in Langley. What they said their challenges were, were that they couldn’t get enough people to work there. They had two shifts running. They wanted to run a third shift. Such is the dynamism of that sector in the Lower Mainland. For many businesses — or the businesses I encounter, the businesses I meet with — that is one major challenge, and we are working to address that challenge.

M. Stilwell: What we have is a government that has imposed 19 new or increased taxes on the backs of hard-working British Columbians, and the impacts are being felt. It’s clearly, clearly visible by many. Here on the Island, Footprints Security is facing a tax bill of $14,000 a month just to cover the employer health tax that this government implemented.

How can the minister explain that nearly $170,000 a year in increased taxes is making life more affordable for these hard-working British Columbians?

Hon. C. James: I think it’s very convenient that the other side has forgotten about their mismanagement for the people and businesses of British Columbia. Let’s remind the other side that housing prices soared out of control for everyone.


Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. C. James: B.C. was the only province with MSP premiums continuing to double under that side. Hydro rates were hiked by 70 percent. How does that help small business? A legacy of challenges when it came to child care, the continuing pressures that they face.

Let’s take a look, in fact, at the breaks that businesses have been given. Capital investment, as my colleague has said — 80,000 jobs in British Columbia; $800 million in the budget in 2019 to help businesses with their capital to help them grow and create good-paying jobs in British Columbia; elimination of the PST on electricity, helping businesses of all sizes across our province.

The two biggest issues that businesses have raised with this government, with the people of British Columbia, are the challenges of housing and child care to recruit and retain employees. We are addressing it. I’m sure the other side is waiting to get rid of it all. We’re going to invest in people because we believe in the people of British Columbia.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Parksville-Qualicum on a supplemental.

M. Stilwell: This government inherited the strongest economy in Canada. They were given over $2 billion in surplus money…


Mr. Speaker: Members.

M. Stilwell: …and they still increased taxes on British Columbians.

In 2017, RLC Park Services signed a ten-year deal with B.C. Parks. Since then, they have been hit with a series of new, added costs, all downloaded by this NDP government: the increase of minimum wage, the EHT, increases in gas costs, in fuel costs. And now the NDP refuse….


Mr. Speaker: Members. Members, please allow the member to ask the question.

M. Stilwell: Now the NDP refuse to adjust that contract to meet those additional costs that that company is experiencing, that are being imposed by this government. What are they supposed to do? How is this government expecting them to stay afloat and stay in business with all these additional costs?

Again, to the minister, how is adding thousands of extra dollars of additional costs making life more affordable?

Hon. C. James: We certainly heard — I’m sure we’ll hear more — of the kind of direction that that past government would take by not increasing the minimum wage and leaving people in poverty here in British Columbia — unfair to people in this province.

[10:55 a.m.]

Let’s look at what the other side’s mismanagement of the economy left us with. It left us with money laundering running rampant across this province. It left us with families struggling to find or afford quality child care and not able to go back into the workforce to help those small businesses in British Columbia. It left us with a lack of care and no increase in support for income assistance for over a decade for the poorest in British Columbia and the most vulnerable in this province. It saw MSP premiums doubled. It saw tuition fees doubled. It saw interest on student loans continue to rise, as they took money from people in British Columbia.

Well, unlike that side, this side believes in the people in this province. We believe in investing in the people of this province. I expect we’ll continue to see the pessimism of the other side. We believe in this province, and we’ll continue to invest in the people of British Columbia.

Mr. Speaker: Member for Peace River South, do you have a question?

M. Bernier: I do, if you’re allowing me to have one.

Mr. Speaker: Yes, I’ll allow you to have the question.


Mr. Speaker: Members.

M. Bernier: You know, the minister can stand up and say all of these what she thinks are amazing things. But down right now…. The unfortunate part is they’re the only ones that are actually listening and believing it, because nobody in the province of British Columbia is actually believing a thing that this government is saying.

Nineteen increased taxes are hitting the bottom lines of businesses in this province. You’ve gone from the best economy in the country to now going to the point that companies do not want to invest. They do not want to be in the province of British Columbia. In my area, they’re moving to Alberta.

Now, to the minister, I know she doesn’t think this is a big deal. I know she thinks it’s not a big deal, and taxing all these companies that they don’t like is no big deal. But when you look at a company in my riding…. Dahlen Contracting, for instance — $150,000 a year they’re going to get taxed, employer health tax, a new tax they never had to pay. What did they do instead? Shut their doors, closed down and laid off 130 people.

I know the government doesn’t really care about those 130 people. They want to continue to tax all of these companies. In Small Business Month, what are they actually doing? What are they going to say to these 130 people who are now unemployed, looking for work?

Hon. C. James: Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the statistics in British Columbia, so the public knows the kind of challenges we’re facing. Lowest unemployment rate in Canada. Highest wage growth in a decade. In fact, housing starts are at a record high. Since we formed government, 73,500 jobs in this province created because of the work we are doing.

The member says he wonders what we’ve done. Well, let’s actually take a look at the list of what we’ve done: $1 billion into universal child care that will be built across this province; the largest investment in housing — $7 billion over ten years to create affordable housing across this province.

[11:00 a.m.]

That’s not all. An increase in the climate action credit to $400 a year for families. Working-class families, if they earn $60,000, will see a 60 percent net reduction in their taxes under this government. A family making $80,000 will see a 43 percent reduction in their taxes.

With that, I look forward to the next questions so I can talk about our investments in this province.

[End of question period.]

Tabling Documents

Mr. Speaker: I have the honour to present the Annual Report 2018-19 and Service Plan 2019-20–2021-22 from Elections B.C.


T. Shypitka: I’d like to present a petition.

Denturists are primary health care providers and are an integral part of the dental professional team serving and protecting dental patients. The 190 petitioners respectfully request that the honourable House modernize the Health Professions Act and increase their scope of practice as recommended in part 2 of the Harry Cayton report and that the denturist regulations be brought in line with the regulations of other provinces.

S. Gibson: I’m pleased to present a partial petition from the Denturist Association of British Columbia to this House.

J. Thornthwaite: I, too, have an envelope of petitions from the Denturist Association asking for an increased scope of practice.

Orders of the Day

Hon. M. Farnworth: In this chamber, I call continued committee on Bill 35, Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act.

[11:05 a.m.]

Committee of the Whole House

AMENDMENT ACT (No. 2), 2019


The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill 35; J. Isaacs in the chair.

The committee met at 11:06 a.m.

On the amendment to section 19 (continued).

L. Throness: I would like to speak to the amendment that the member for Abbotsford West proposed yesterday, which is an amendment to the definition of “premises,” and that is simply to add “a building, permanent structure, trailer or portable structure designed or used to shelter animals.” This is about something that’s very important in the Fraser Valley, and I want to bring this to the minister’s attention in my remarks.

I was, first of all, surprised to hear that I resulted in the amendment that the government has brought forward — the addition of the word “airplane.” Sometimes it’s a bit discouraging in this House. You think that what you say goes into the void and never has any impact. So it was a pleasure to hear yesterday that the government, because of a remark I made three or four years ago when we were in government, in a parliamentary committee, has taken up the cause to protect airplanes. I think that’s a great thing, because that could be a security issue.

I would point out that the minister has specified airplanes without an imminent threat, without any problem that he can refer to, yet he has not brought forward any specific amendment to something that really is a problem, that is an imminent threat. I want to take a few moments to talk about that threat, because I think the minister has not yet grasped the gravity of the situation with respect to agriculture in B.C. I don’t think he’s got the message yet.

I don’t want to disparage the member in any way, or other members on that side who live in urban areas, but the minister does not have chicken barns in his backyard. He does not have hog farms in his riding. He has skyscrapers in his riding. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it just means that the minister may be out of touch with what is happening in the field of agriculture, which is so important to many members in this House, particularly on this side, and so important to the economy of the province.

I think that if farmers across B.C. heard that the government had brought forward an amendment to add the word “airplane,” they would roll their eyes, because they’d say this doesn’t reflect what is happening on the ground. The government could have done so much more in terms of this legislation. What they’ve proposed right now is not relevant.

Other governments are taking action. On September 2, the Jumbo Valley Hutterite colony was invaded by dozens of protesters, and it was shut down for the better part of a day. When this invasion happened on farm property, on September 2, Alberta Minister of Agriculture Devin Dreeshen tweeted immediately. This is what he said. “This attack on a turkey farm is unacceptable. Hard-working farmers and ranchers shouldn’t have to deal with harassment from illegal protesters. They shouldn’t have to worry about people entering their work, interfering with their lives or threatening the health of their animals.”

[11:10 a.m.]

Just 30 days later, on October 30, the Premier, Jason Kenney, Kenney, had a news conference at Jumbo Valley and announced strong legislative protection for farmers. All it took the government of Alberta was 30 days to act. Now, the minister told us yesterday that he received correspondence on this in the summer, so he is very much aware of this problem, yet he brought forward nothing.

I would say that the executive council, the cabinet, is informed on this topic by the Minister of Agriculture. But where is she on this issue? When the Treurs, who are a family in my riding, went public with the onslaught of Facebook threats that they have experienced and wrote to the minister, her office called and said that they were concerned about that, and she appreciated that. Since then, I’ve not been able to find a single word that the Minister of Agriculture has spoken about this threat to every animal farmer in the province.

When it comes to animal protection, she’s silent. When it comes to her Twitter account, she celebrates fruit and vegetable growers on multiple occasions. I was at a meeting in my riding where she celebrated beekeepers. I think that’s great. I celebrate fruit and vegetables and bees and all of that myself. But I found just one tweet on the minister’s feed celebrating Angus beef, one or two talking about milk.

All of politics is a matter of emphasis, and the minister is in a decidedly less celebratory mood when it comes to those who grow animals as a source of protein. In fact, I would call the minister’s de-emphasis damning with faint praise, and I would encourage her to change that emphasis to celebrate chicken farmers in my riding, to celebrate the jobs and the protein that is provided by the two packing plants in my riding, to celebrate the two above-ground fish farms in my riding, to celebrate our hog farms, to celebrate the enormous amount of dairy produced where I live.

We have the largest dairies in Canada in my riding. The minister should come out to visit them. I would invite him to come out and visit them. I would invite him to visit Grace-Mar Farms, for instance, which has a turntable on which there are 60 robotic milkers that milk 1,000 cows two or three or times a day in about an hour, with one person to tend it. Imagine if that business were shut down for a day because of occupiers on their land.

Think of the millions that it took to put this turntable in place and all the machinery around it. Think of the millions. Think of the interruption of income. Think of those cows and the pain to them because, in farm parlance, they’re fresh. They’re lactating. They need to give their milk. This could all be interrupted, and that would be wrong.

The minister, unfortunately, does not celebrate farmers, in my view, who raise animals, much less has she spoken about protecting those farmers, their privacy, their property and their livelihood from activists. She is nowhere to be found. There’s only a deafening silence, but that silence speaks profoundly, loudly, to farmers who keep animals around B.C.

Well, this issue is gaining in political salience. My visit to Creekside Dairy and the comments that came from it were picked up in the Kingston Whig-Standard in Ontario. In that province, on September 18, just three weeks ago, the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Ernie Hardeman, had lots to say about it. I want to quote what he said about it: “It’s not a matter of finding out whether there’s a problem. Ontario recognizes that there’s a problem. I think it’s pretty clear there is one. People have a right to be safe in their homes. We want to make sure that people feel protected.”

Unfortunately, our government today does not appear to share that feeling by what it has brought forward in this bill. That’s why I’m speaking to the amendment. The minister in Ontario intended to meet with farm groups as fast as possible. He said: “We’re putting everything on the table in terms of what we can come up with.” He said “it’s very important” that those breaking the law are held accountable.

On the other hand, our own Minister of Agriculture and our Attorney General have had nothing to say. I wonder when they’ll speak to this issue, and I would certainly call upon them to do so — to declare their support for those who raise animals for human consumption for millions of British Columbians and even to help grow this industry.

Now, I want to dwell for a moment on this amendment, because there is an emerging activist movement that appears to be brand-new. It wasn’t around a few years ago when we were government. It’s not something that the former government could have dealt with. This radical movement seeks to destroy a way of life on farms all over B.C., to destroy the livelihoods of farmers, to destroy a source of protein for millions of people. That’s their end goal, and we in this House have a responsibility to protect farmers and the diet of millions of people from these activists.

[11:15 a.m.]

Farmers are not bad people. They’re good people. For example, back in April, Creekside Dairy in my riding invited the public to come out and watch their cows be put out to pasture. The cows had been in the barn for the winter, so 250 local people came out to watch this great spectacle. The owner’s biggest surprise was the gratitude that they received from the community for the invitation.

Now, farmers are not hiding behind closed doors. They want to be open to the public. Why did so many people want to come out to see what would not have been a story in times past? Letting cows out of the barn, for heaven’s sake, would not have been news a generation ago, but today it is such a novelty that hundreds of people came out.

The minister lives in an urban area, and many of his members, too, would be surprised at the novelty of such a thing as letting cows out of the barn. I think part of the problem is that urban people don’t get out to farms anymore. When I was a teenager, I worked on several farms. I threw bales. I got up at five in the morning to get the cows in the pasture. We milked them, and then I’d shovel manure up to the top of my gumboots. I’d drive tractor, putting up silage and all the other related stuff you do on a farm.

Urban people today may not feel as protective of farms and farming as they used to be, because they’re unfamiliar with it. It’s all the more reason for the government to step in and provide the protection that farmers need, which they are not doing today. Let me detail some of the threats that our farmers are enduring, and not just here in B.C.

In Montreal, activists occupied the meat section of a Costco. They stood in front of the freezers and tried to stop people from buying meat.

A lady named Mylène Bégin, who co-owns Princy Farm in Quebec’s Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, created an Instagram account a few years ago to document the daily life on her farm and combat what she calls disinformation and the negative image of agriculture. She describes herself as the target of bullying from vegan activists.

Again, there’s this theme that urbanites are removed from agriculture and have a negative view of it. She had to start getting up an hour early every morning to delete more than 100 negative messages a day, some of which made her fear for her safety. Here’s what she said: “There was one that took screenshots of my photos. He shared them on his feed, after adding knives to my face and writing the word ‘psychopath’ on my forehead. It made me so scared.”

This is happening in England. In Brighton, 20 activists wearing pig and chicken masks stormed a McDonald’s, threw fake blood all over the floor, sat there and occupied a place in front of the shocked customers.

In Australia, vegans blocked a number of streets in downtown Melbourne last April. One vegan activist in New Zealand said that we should stop using vaccines, for heaven’s sake, because part of the vaccine is grown inside a fertilized egg. Therefore, it’s not vegan, and it’s therefore unacceptable to use. The ramifications of that would be far-reaching for human safety.

In Petaluma, California, there’s a packing plant for ducks, and 600 activists with Direct Action Everywhere — I have the feeling that we’re going to hear that name more and more — converged on the plant, locking their own necks to the gates and machinery. Activists also removed 32 ducklings and rushed them to emergency veterinary treatment; 100 protesters were arrested there.

The government was cognizant of the threat that that places to agriculture. There was considerable cost to the justice system, as well as the loss of a day of production.

Some activists are calling the killing of a food animal “murder.” Artificial insemination they’re calling “rape,” and animal ownership is called “slavery.” This kind of radical language reflects a radical philosophy, and it can lead to radical action. That’s the reason for our amendment today.

After all, if someone is murdering another, does it not require a physical intervention to stop it? This is how they reason. Their radical philosophy gives rise to radical terminology and escalates the possibility not only of trespass but of real, physical harm to farmers and to farm families.

Yet there’s nothing. There’s no protection. There’s no word from our government — maybe, I think, because their hearts are really more with the protesters than with our farmers. I think the Minister of Agriculture and the Attorney General need to declare themselves, to tell us where they stand on protection for farmers.

[11:20 a.m.]

I want to repeat, as I’ve said before, that I’m a strong proponent of rights. People should have the right to protest whatever they want, but everyone has rights, including farmers and their families. Let the right to protest happen on public property, and give farmers their right to privacy as well. I abhor cruelty to animals. No one would countenance cruelty to animals — we all agree on that — but the charge of cruelty is the wedge issue that activists use to get their wider goal, which is to eliminate animals as a source of protein.

Now, I want to ask the Chair a question.

If I ask the Attorney General a question, can I speak for longer and ask another question? That’s my question to the Chair.

The Chair: If the minister permits that.


L. Throness: Right. I’ve had a preamble now, and I want to ask a question.

The Chair: The minister has indicated to go ahead.

L. Throness: So the two-minute warning is not on? Okay. Let me ask a question to the minister. Will the minister affirm that the law of trespass in B.C. applies to producers and processors of animal protein, and will he condemn the actions of activists who attempt to occupy these premises?

Hon. D. Eby: It’s kind of a remarkable situation that the actual member who proposed the amendment that’s in the bill, the member for Chilliwack-Kent, is now using that amendment to beat the government over the head, saying: “Why didn’t you do a different amendment?”

I have the transcript from May 28, 2018 — not three or four years ago — where the member specifically asked: “What about an airplane, say, on a tarmac? Should that not be included as a different kind of conveyance” in the Trespass Act? Then the member for Nechako Lakes weighs in: can we ensure that this can be done by amendment?

Staff, who are here with me, said that “it would be considered a substantive change” but that it’ll be flagged for the minister “at the appropriate time.” Not a word. Not a word about farms, about farmland, about anything that he talked about today.

When he talks about conspicuous silence, I think a good thing would have been, at that committee…. If he doesn’t care about airplanes, which he asked about, and he cares about farms, which he says he does — take him at his word — maybe asking about farms would have been a good thing to ask about at the committee. Then maybe we would have a different amendment in front of us. The member underestimates the power of the opposition.

To his question, I will note what I said yesterday, that in the act, in its plain wording, “premises” means “land” — so land including but not limited to “enclosed land, foreshore and land covered by water.” That’s land. That’s what the Trespass Act includes. It also includes anything on the land, including but not limited to “a building or other permanent structure” — whatever is inside the building, whatever the building is used for, and so on. So yeah, it includes all these activities.

As Attorney General, I condemn the breaking of any of British Columbia’s laws, federal government laws, criminal laws. I stand with the member and say that people should follow the law — period — regardless of their political ideology. Now, I hope that assists him. That it doesn’t get us any further ahead is the problem.

In my constituency, it’s an urban constituency. The member points it out, rightly. People are huge enthusiasts about farmers, about farming, about local food. They go out of their way to support local farmers. They’d be surprised to hear the member’s comments that they don’t care about animal farming, that they don’t care about farmers. They would be actually quite startled and disappointed, because although they live in the city, they support farmers in British Columbia.

I understand the member is passionate about this issue now. As I said to the member for Abbotsford West yesterday, some issues are not partisan. The concern for our farmers, the safety of farmers, is an important issue.

One of the things that I’ve looked at in the interim, when I suddenly got the amendment yesterday without any notice from the member for Abbotsford West…. We went overnight to legislative counsel. We said: “Can you have a look at this?” Even though we’ve made legislative counsel available to the opposition to ensure that their amendments are drafted consistent with B.C. statutory language so that it can be easily implemented if something like this comes up, for some reason, the opposition refuses to take advantage of that service. It’s their prerogative. But overnight we went to legislative counsel: “Can you have a look at this? Can you clean it up?”

We have a proposed amendment that we believe is consistent with statutory language and also achieves the intent of the member for Abbotsford West. I will note that sometimes in law you might put something in there that doesn’t necessarily add anything. It is my firm belief that the current state of the law includes land, includes buildings — regardless of what the buildings are used for — includes any structure, whether it’s for animals or otherwise. But that’s not actually the issue we face.

[11:25 a.m.]

However, sometimes it’s important to send a signal with the law. Sometimes it’s important to tell people: “We care about you. We’re concerned about what’s happening.” I understand that that’s the spirit in which the member for Abbotsford West has brought his proposed amendment forward.

What I’m going to propose doing is sharing the proposed amendment to the amendment with the member for Abbotsford West for his consideration and for the consideration of the other side of the House. I know that there are other members that want to speak to this, and maybe we can assure members that we’re interested in working together on this important issue. You can have a discussion about the amendment to the amendment and see whether it achieves what you think needs to be achieved.

Also, I think, maybe we need to have another discussion — because the act does cover this situation, I believe — about why it’s not happening the way that it should be, why the act is not being used the way that it should by either law enforcement or others. I don’t direct the police. I don’t know why they’re not using it. So we’ve also reached out to the chiefs of police in British Columbia to ask what issues that they identified in terms of using this act. We’ve reached out to the prosecutors to say: “What issues have you identified in terms of the use of this act?” That work is underway, as well.

Before I table it, maybe I’ll just pass it over. Then any other members who want to speak to the amendment as it stands on the floor should go ahead and do so. Then, hopefully, we can come to some kind of resolution on this.

L. Throness: I just want to talk about a couple of other things to impress upon the minister the importance of this amendment. I appreciate that he’s brought forward an amendment to our amendment. Of course, we’ll want to consider that carefully.

I want to tell the minister about Direct Action Everywhere, which is a group here in B.C. Direct Action Everywhere, which has the abbreviation DxE, which I have no doubt we’ll be hearing about more, has a Vancouver Facebook page where they advertise a global lockdown for animal rights this fall. They urge civil disobedience to reach their ends. They justify it by something called Rose’s law. Rose is not a person. It’s a hen. Rose’s law has among its principles that every sentient animal has a right not to be owned or killed.

Direct Action Everywhere indicates that the fall of 2019 will be their time to take direct action everywhere. I’m just concerned that if we do not take strong action legislatively, that will embolden the people who are listening to our debate today from Direct Action Everywhere, and it will embolden them to see that the Legislature does not have a strong will in this matter. So it is important that we make a statement.

One event that Direct Action held was on August 22, and they called it Dairy is Scary. Certainly, that’s a verbal attack on dairy, a direct attack on the industry that fuels the Chilliwack economy and much of the Fraser Valley economy and an attack on the way of life, thousands of my constituents and all the healthy food products that dairy provides to British Columbians and millions of other Canadians.

At that meeting, Direct Action decided not to disrupt any farms right now, but they discussed future plans, and I would not be surprised at all to see them in Chilliwack soon. That’s why we brought forward this amendment.

I want to add something here, as well, that the minister needs to consider. If animal rights activists care about animals, they will care about biosecurity. If you have 100 people coming onto a farm, they might have just come from other nations, perhaps from a protest on a farm elsewhere. They could bring disease, unwittingly, on their shoes or boots as they tromp over somebody else’s property. They can destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of animals or maybe more.

In 2014, during the avian influenza outbreak in the Fraser Valley, 140,000 animals had to be destroyed. That is real damage to animals as well as people, and animal rights people should be concerned about that. So far, they, apparently, are not. I think that’s wrong, and I think if they don’t show due care for animals, the law should care. The law should protect animals and the industry.

I think that in whatever amendment the minister has brought forward, it needs to single out the issue of biosecurity and provide harsher penalties for those who breach biosecurity, which has enormous ramifications on animal health and human health right across the industry. So we’re going to be looking carefully at the amendment the minister has brought forward.

I would like to thank the House for the opportunity to speak on this issue, and I look forward to the amendment the government has brought.

M. de Jong: I wonder if it might be worthwhile to seek a five-minute recess of the committee’s work, because I think the Attorney has presented something that is within the spirit of what the opposition was trying to advance. With your and the other members’ permission, maybe a five-minute recess might be appropriate.

The Chair: The House is recessed for five minutes.

The committee recessed from 11:30 a.m. to 11:34 a.m.

[J. Isaacs in the chair.]

Hon. D. Eby: Depending on the discussions on the other side, if they’re supportive of the redrafted amendment, the appropriate procedure, I understand, would be for the member to withdraw his amendment and to substitute this amendment in its place.

[11:35 a.m.]

M. de Jong: I think the Attorney is correct. And I wonder if, just prior to doing that…. The only question that arose — it’s a fairly straightforward one. Well, I should say this. The amendment is not formally on the floor for the reasons the Attorney has mentioned. But a few moments ago he speculated about what the ultimate intention of presenting the original amendment was, and I think he got it right. It is to make clear that farmers and their buildings and their farms are protected.

The question with respect to the amendment that the Attorney has kindly shared with us relates to the term “livestock.” I don’t know if that’s a defined term somewhere. I tend to think of livestock as four-legged animals. But of course, our intention is to ensure that there is a specified statutory protection for farmers of all sorts. And we, of course, are thinking of the chickens and the turkey farmers who are also subjected.

So if the Attorney is able to provide, with the assistance of his staff, some confirmation around the breadth of that term and whether it captures farm buildings that house, obviously, cows, horses but chickens and turkeys. That’s the nature of the question.

Hon. D. Eby: The intent of the word “livestock,” which is used in other statutes in the province to reflect farm animals broadly…. It’s not a defined term. It was meant to capture animals that may be bred or housed for the purposes of farming. It is distinct from “animals” as a category, because animals could include wild animals, which was not, as I understood it, the intention of this. It was aimed specifically at farmers raising animals for food or for other uses like dairy, which is why the word “livestock” was used, which is used elsewhere in statutes in British Columbia.

I can’t recall, off the top of my head, what word the member used, but the intent, as we understood it, was to capture farm animals of all kinds — two-legged, four-legged, and so on. That is why the term “livestock” was used rather than “animals” more broadly.

M. de Jong: Thanks to the Attorney. I think what he has said is livestock captures cattle, horses, chickens, turkeys — animals that are raised by farmers for food consumption. If we could just clarify that.

Hon. D. Eby: Yes. So if you hammer up a bird house in a park or something, that wouldn’t be what we’re talking about here. Livestock reflects the raising of animals by farmers in other statutes in the province, and it’s consistent with that, regardless of the type of animal that’s being raised.

M. de Jong: The example that I used yesterday, of course, specifically referred to pork producers and pigs. I’ll take it from the Attorney’s answer — and he’s indicating that is so — that those are livestock within the meaning of the term being proposed in his amendment.

What I think I would propose, Madam Chair, in keeping with the procedures of this place — and on the assurance of the Attorney that he does intend in a moment to formally table this amendment — would be to withdraw the amendment that I have offered to the committee and have it substituted by the amendment the Attorney has provided me with a few moments ago.

The Chair: Members, we require unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment proposed by Abbotsford West.

Leave granted.

Amendment withdrawn.

Hon. D. Eby: I rise to table a proposed amendment to Bill 35 and read it into the record.

[11:40 a.m.]

[SECTION 19, by deleting the text shown as struck out and adding the underlined text as shown:

19 Section 1 of the Trespass Act, R.S.B.C. 2018, c. 3, is amended in paragraph (b) (ii) of the definition of “premises”

(a) in subparagraph (i) by adding “, including a building or permanent structure designed or used for shelter for livestock” after “structure”,

(b) in subparagraph (ii) by striking out “or vehicle” and substituting “, vehicle or aircraft, and

(c) in subparagraph (iii) by adding “, including shelter for livestock,” after “for shelter.]

On the amendment.

M. de Jong: My colleague just reminded me, and I suppose I should ask on the record. Livestock, from the explanation the Attorney offered, would include mink, as well, as I understand it.

Hon. D. Eby: Yes, the intent is to reflect any animal that’s farmed for any use, which would include dairy, eggs, fur, other types of animals, including animals that you might think of typically as wild animals, like deer, that may be farmed, or elk. Livestock is intended to reflect animals raised by farmers, rather than any particular type of animal.

M. de Jong: What I would intend and hope to do next is to take up the Attorney’s invitation to query the second part of this, which is having created an expanded tool or a more specific tool to explore how it’s being utilized or how it should be utilized. But there may be other questions about this specific amendment. So perhaps the proper course for us to follow is to consider the amendment and then, prior to voting on the section as amended, assuming it is amended, to pose those questions at that time.

If that makes sense to you, Madam Chair, and to the Attorney, I’d propose to proceed on that basis.

Hon. D. Eby: I guess I’m not sure what the member is suggesting — that we stand down this section, go through the rest of the bill and then come back to this section?

M. de Jong: No, I’m suggesting that we consider the amendment, vote on the amendment, and then, prior to voting on the section as amended, we pose any additional questions relating to the use of the section.

The Chair: Recognizing Delta South, speaking on the amendment.

I. Paton: I would like to speak on the amendment that has just recently been put forward to add the term “livestock” to this bill, the housing of livestock. As my fellow colleague from Abbotsford West has implied, this also must apply to not only four-legged animals but to animals such as mink and animals such as poultry, hogs, etc.

This is a very simple amendment. I can speak to the fact that last fall and last spring, we had simple amendments put forward to bills regarding Bill 52 and Bill 15 that were very simple, but they were not acted upon. It has caused a great deal of furor in the agricultural sector in B.C. So this amendment is important.

It’s a simple one, but it’s paramount to the safety of the biosecurity of B.C. farms in British Columbia. If passed, this simple amendment will amend the definitions of “premises” to include buildings, permanent or portable structures designed or used to shelter livestock.

This will add extra protection to local farmers to fight against trespassers and keep their lands safe for their families as well as for their livestock. Fundamental to the notion of property rights should be the ability of the owner to feel safe and secure on his or her own property. This is no more true than on the family farm, and we have many family farms in my riding of Delta South.

We have several poultry farms, and we have several dairy farms. I was one of those dairy farmers for many, many years. I know the importance of cleanliness. I know the importance of animal husbandry, of looking after my animals in the very, very best way.

[11:45 a.m.]

In fact, I would be happy to say that in Canada, people that own any sort of farm, whether it’s poultry, whether it’s dairy, whether it’s hogs…. We like to say it’s almost like a cruise ship atmosphere, where animals are getting the very, very best treatment. Whether it’s where they lie down to sleep at night, the type of feed they’re getting, the automatic brushes, the robotic milkers, I think life is pretty good for animals in our agriculture industry, especially here in British Columbia.

Farmers have a great responsibility all across this province. Hard-working farmers are putting food on our families’ dinner tables.

In fact, I can tell you that just this morning, I was in touch with the B.C. dairy producers association. In British Columbia now, all dairy farmers have signed on to a code of practice for care and handling of dairy cattle. All dairy producers in Canada must now meet the requirements of what’s called proaction for animal care in this country.

I can assure people that whether it’s the poultry industry, the hog industry, beef, cattle or dairy, these animals are being very well looked after. An animal that is happy, that is relaxed, that is in a good environment is going to be the best producer of your milk or your beef or your pork or whatever it happens to be.

Last spring, unfortunately, hundreds of activists descended on Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford, creating chaos and disrupting the ability of the local farmers to go about the work. This even scared the children of the owners of this hog farm, and I find that very disturbing — that protesters and activists would try and invade a family farm and create so much trepidation with the family members.

A very incredibly unfortunate incident about two months ago on the Global TV evening news. A friend of mine, Brian Anderson, has a dairy farm in Fort Langley. The camera showed that someone came in, in a fairly expensive SUV in the middle of the night. They didn’t get a proper picture of the licence plate or the person who did it, but they actually stuck an arrow in a newborn baby calf in a maternity pen and somehow dragged that calf out and put it into the back of the SUV. This is completely unacceptable behaviour to take place on someone’s dairy farm in British Columbia.

Being in the farm auction business…. This is a rather bizarre story. For over 40 years, I’ve been involved at the PNE as a director for agriculture. My dad and I, since the 1960s, have done the annual 4-H auction at the PNE. These kids bring these 4-H projects, and it’s just unbelievable how well looked after they are and how well kept they are.

Every year on a Tuesday, with the fair being open and the public being able to come in and sit in the Agrodome and watch the auction and feel the excitement of the auctioneers and the kids selling their animals…. About three years ago, in the middle of this auction, came a protest by the PETA group, with bullhorns and signs, and completely disrupted the 4-H kids’ day at the PNE with the 4-H auction. It took at least 35 minutes to disrupt the protesters that showed up in the middle of the Agrodome at the PNE to disrupt this auction. Now, unfortunately, the 4-H auction has had to be moved to a dark day, which is a Monday at the PNE, when there is no public access to the PNE that can disrupt the 4-H auction.

Just this past Labour Day, several dozen protesters broke into a turkey farm in Fort Macleod, Alberta, making demands.

The Treur family, a local Agassiz dairy farmer family, are also worried about an invasion of protesters on their farm. The Treurs milk about 100 Brown Swiss cows, and their farm has been certified organic since 2015. The Treur family has been subjected to verbal and physical threats of violence from activists on line. According to the Country Life in B.C. newspaper, one protester threatened to report the Treurs to child protection services for “exposing her children to animal abuse.”

I believe very strongly in the fundamental right of every person living in a democratic nation to protest. That is a privilege we all enjoy as Canadians. What we do not have and should not have, however, is the right to invade a person’s private property and risk compromising the farmer’s product and endangering their livelihood. Farmers need protection enshrined in legislation that says that if you are a farmer in this province and you work hard every day to put food on peoples’ tables, you have a recourse when activists trespass on your farm.

We need to have enforcement of this amended act that goes forward. We need to know what the local police departments, the RCMP will do about these situations where people are breaking onto farmers’ property and entering buildings.

[11:50 a.m.]

This isn’t just about property rights. It’s also about biosecurity, which is very important in the agriculture industry. Farmers work very hard to ensure their farms are sterile environments. They wear protective clothing in order to ensure there is no biocontamination with their livestock. Can you imagine the biohazard that is imposed on sensitive farm ecosystems when hundreds of protestors storm cattle barns or chicken barns and hold a sit-in?

Many of us on this side of the House have toured poultry farms, hog farms and dairy farms. And nowadays, you cannot even go onto a poultry farm in British Columbia unless you put on plastic boots, a full white set of coveralls that are throwaway coveralls and a hat to cover your hair. Biosecurity is very important. Every time you step into a dairy farm or a poultry farm, you must dip your shoes in a liquid that disinfects your shoes so there’s no chance you can bring a disease onto the farm.

Biosecurity is very important. Activists that are breaking into barns or farms in the middle of the night or protesting during the day are completely breaking the rules of biosecurity, which are so important to the future of our agricultural products in this province. It is irresponsible and could cause irreparable harm to the animals themselves, not to mention the disruption of the farmer’s business and way of life.

The member for Abbotsford West’s amendment will address this gap. Now the amendment has been amended, and I’m very happy to see that livestock has been added to it. To quote my colleague from Chilliwack-Kent, he has said that three things need to be done to ensure that this legislation moves forward with this trespass bill.

First, we need to have a separate provision in the Trespass Act — or a new act for food production, like farms, and food processing, such as packing plants — to address the protection of our food sources and our farmers. Two, we need to put in place strong penalties that will deter activists, and we need enforcement by our police departments to enforce these rules. Three, we need separate penalties for those who breach biosecurity, because we know that someone who brings a disease into a farm can threaten the entire industry, not just that one farm. And those penalties need to be stronger than the penalties for trespass because of the incredible risk there is to the industry, but also to animal health.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this amendment today. As I’ve always said, it’s not farmland without the farmer. It’s important that this legislation show farmers across this province that we take their safety concerns seriously, be it the safety of their animals, the safety of their employees and the safety of their family members.

Amendment approved.

On section 19 as amended.

M. de Jong: That brings us to the part of the conversation that the Attorney alluded to and, I think, other speakers, including myself, have alluded to. Yesterday I asked the Attorney some questions about the prosecutorial record around the Trespass Act, section 2 — maybe section 6 as well. I think the Attorney probably appreciates the nature of my interest.

To what extent is this tool, this legal instrument, being used to protect the rights of landowners? I’m not sure if he’s had an opportunity to gather some of that information, but I’m curious to know if that’s the case.

Hon. D. Eby: I have reached out to the prosecution service. We’ve also reached out to the B.C. chiefs of police to ask them about any information they have about the use of this act, including the fact that this act may have fallen into disuse, and if so, why?

I don’t have that information yet for the member. We just asked yesterday afternoon when he raised the issue. As soon as I have that information, I will share it with the member.

M. de Jong: I am happy to concede and admit that in my time in the office that the Attorney holds, I wasn’t aware of prosecutions taking place around the provisions of the Trespass Act. This is not intended to be cross-examination, but I take it from the Attorney’s response that he similarly is unaware — that doesn’t mean they don’t exist — of prosecutorial activity around the Trespass Act presently.

Hon. D. Eby: There are probably thousands of prosecutions every year. I’m not aware of every one. I think that it is a good approach to let the prosecutors develop whatever information they can for us to make an informed discussion in this place.

With that, noting the hour, I move the committee rise, report progress and seek leave to sit again.

Motion approved.

The committee rose at 11:55 a.m.

The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.

Committee of the Whole (Section B), having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.

Hon. D. Eby moved adjournment of the House.

Motion approved.

Mr. Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 this afternoon.

The House adjourned at 11:56 a.m.