Today was a day I never thought I would ever see in the BC Legislature. It was a day when the BC Liberals, void of ideas and a vision, introduced the most ridiculous bill I have ever seen — a bill that I voted against being read even a first time. The sole purpose of the two-line Bill was to enshrine in law that in British Columbia, the first Wednesday in March would be declared Red Tape Reduction Day.
Now voting against a bill at first reading is not something you do lightly. There is a tradition and an unwritten rule in the legislature that MLAs unanimously vote for all bills (government or private member) to be read a first time so that they can see it printed. Substantive debate typically follows during second reading deliberations. But after hearing the introductory remarks from Coralee Oakes, the Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch, both Vicki Huntington (Delta South) and I felt we were left with no choice.
Below I reproduce the introductory remarks for the Bill.
Hon. C. Oakes: I am pleased to introduce Bill 34, the Red Tape Reduction Day Act for 2015. Bill 34 introduces a commitment by our government to host an honorary day devoted to reducing red tape through regulatory reform and the repeal of outdated or unnecessary regulatory requirements on the first Wednesday of March of each year. This legislation institutionalizes accountability and transparency of regulatory reform. It demonstrates our government’s commitment to ongoing…
Madame Speaker: Members.
Hon. C. Oakes: …commitment to reduce the red-tape burden imposed on citizens and small businesses.
Since 2001, we have reduced regulatory requirements by over 43 percent. Bill 34 will impose on government a requirement to reduce red tape and demonstrate its continued commitment to regulatory reform on the first Wednesday in March of each year. Reducing the regulatory burden on citizens and small businesses is critical to ensuring British Columbia’s economic competitiveness and providing all citizens with easy access to government services and programs.
Madame Speaker: Members
Hon. C. Oakes: Bill 34 will also make positive and effective shifts in the management and continuous improvement of our regulatory environment to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of citizens and businesses while maintaining our cap on the number of regulatory requirements.
The legislation solidifies British Columbia as the Canadian leader in regulatory reforms by being the first Canadian jurisdiction to enshrine in law a commitment to reduce red tape and repeal outdated, unnecessary requirements on an annual basis.
Madame Speaker, I move that this bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting after today.
Vicki Huntington, MLA for Delta South, and I were taken aback by the hyper partisan rhetoric embodied in this bill. Below is the result of the vote at first reading. I am reasonably confident that the NDP will vote against the Bill at second reading.
For interest, I also reproduce the printed text of the entire Bill which became available once it passed first reading.
The question I ask you is this: do you think that BC MLAs should spend their time debating this Bill? The government spent an enormous amount of money holding a special summer session designed to try and land a project development agreement and hence final investment decision with Petronas. Surely that money could have been better used and we could have instead debated Bill 30, Liquefied Natural Gas Project Agreements Act during the present session.
HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:
1 The first Wednesday in March is Red Tape Reduction Day.
2 This Act comes into force on the date of Royal Assent.