Today in the Legislature we moved to second reading of the absurd Bill 34 – Red Tape Reduction Day Act. The sole purpose of the two-line Bill is to enshrine in law that in British Columbia, the first Wednesday in March would be declared Red Tape Reduction Day. As I noted yesterday, I was taken aback by the hyper partisan rhetoric embodied in this bill.
Thank you to all those who posted comments on my Facebook page yesterday on Bill 34. I quoted from them extensively in the legislature today.
In British Columbia’s history there have been only five other Bills that legislated the dedication of a particular day. These are:
These dates correspond to either public holidays or profound events or individuals in our history. The normal process for government to recognize an event or occasion is through proclamation. In fact, there have been 148 such proclamations this year alone. Ironically, January 19-23 of this year was already proclaimed Red Tape Awareness Week. 2014 saw 165 such proclamations made by the Ministry of Justice.
Not only is introducing and discussing Bill 34 a ridiculous waste of our time and taxpayer money, but it also devalues the importance of other days that have previously legislated designations.
On a personal note, my mother came to Canada from the Ukraine as a refugee following the second world war. Her family were farmers and subjected to Stalin’s collectivization of farms and forced starvation. Bruce Ralston, NDP Member from Surrey-Whalley introduced the Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day Act on November 17, 2014. The government did not even allow that bill to come forward for debate. Yet today, we spent the day discussing this ridiculous and frankly insulting piece of legislation. You can imagine what British Columbia’s Ukrainian community are thinking right now.
Below I reproduce the video and text of my speeches as well as the result of the second reading vote.
When you look at the vote you might have a number of questions. I do. First, every single NDP MLA who spoke did so passionately, articulately, and forcefully against Bill 34. As I noted yesterday, I expected the NDP to vote against this legislation at second reading. Yet collectively, each and every NDP MLA voted in support of this legislation. To me, this is an indefensible, unprincipled position that simply cannot be justified. It demonstrates yet another of example of the BC NDP saying one thing then voting against everything they believe in. I was dumbfounded when the BC NDP voted the way they did. In the end, I alone voted against this bill.
Secondly, I was flabbergasted that fully 24 MLAs were not present to vote. What were they doing and why were they not in the legislature? I think these are fair question to ask you MLA if he or she was not there.
A. Weaver: I think it’s important that I start off my speech with a little bit of history of where the term red tape actually comes from.
It all began during the reign of King Charles V in 16th and 17th century Spain. Back then, his administration differentiated the most important documents from those that were more mundane by tying them with a red ribbon instead of a rope. In honour of this tradition, I entered the chamber today with my papers, my important papers on this topic, tied in red tape. More recently the term red tape is used to describe unnecessary bureaucratic regulatory roadblocks.
Let’s be clear. Let’s be very clear. This bill has nothing to do with red tape. This bill is yet another example of a narcissistic government trying to take credit for the things that were done by the previous administration. This government is out of ideas.
This government calls an emergency session in July to discuss the project development agreement for its LNG pipedream, continually chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that keeps never being found. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars — taxpayers’ dollars —were used to bring back the session to debate a bill that we should be debating now? But instead, what are we doing? We’re debating the absurd. We’re debating a bill that should have been done through proclamation, to name a date the red-tape-reduction day.
I’ve put a motion on the order paper, and you will see that in your order papers tomorrow. I take exception with the date proposed. My motion that I’ll bring — and give notice now that I will be calling a division on — is to move the date to April 1. There’s a very real reason why that date would be April 1.
This is a government that is void of ideas. This is a government that has no vision. This is a government that recognizes that its small business base is lost. I know that that small business base is lost. I’ve toured the province. I’ve spoken to businesses. I know that they look at this government, and they see a lack of leadership. They see a lack of leadership because they feel that this government is singularly focused on LNG, at all costs, at all expenses.
There are small businesses — left, right and centre — talking to me about this issue. They wonder where their government is for them. Where is their government actually reducing red tape? Where is their government actually supporting them? Where is their government putting their interests, the interests of British Columbians and small businesses first, instead of spending all of its time, all of its legislative agenda in trying to land its pipedream of an LNG.
Yesterday evening, I was flabbergasted that we are actually debating this. I mean, this is not even a serious bill. The taxpayer of British Columbia should be astonished that we are wasting their money, their time, to debate this, astonished that this government is debating a bill like this. Maybe we should “om the bridge again” and think about it deeply and sincerely as we contemplate more bills like this.
When I put this on my Facebook page, I had no idea. I put it out as a joke. It’s not a joke. I have some comments that were posted on my Facebook page. In my career here in the Legislature, I have had very few posts that have had such a viral organic reach in such a small amount of time. Let me tell you, the comments are not pleasant.
This bill is precisely the reason why voters in British Columbia are turned off by this government, are turned off by politics, are cynical about politicians, cynical about the political goals that they have. The reason why is because this bill has nothing to do about the well-being of British Columbians and everything to do with the narcissistic, self-congratulation government out of ideas, out of direction, visionless and losing its base in small business.
It’s a very sad day for British Columbia. Politics should be serious. We should be discussing serious issues. I welcomed the chance yesterday to discuss the Site C dam. Too bad that it wasn’t seven months ago, but nevertheless, we were able to discuss real issues. Again, it should have been done seven months ago when it would have actually meant something.
Let me read some of these comments. My favourite one, I thought, was…. Well, there are a lot of them. Here’s one: “I can’t believe there is such a thing as a Minister of Red Tape Reduction. Ludicrous. Sounds like something made up in a children’s story. There should be a minister of regulatory affairs, maybe, who is responsible for ensuring regulatory measures to ensure public safety are equitable and achievable and enforceable.”
Another one here: “Is there not anything else they could work on, like — oh, I know — child welfare, the homeless, education, etc.?” “Isn’t that, by nature, an oxymoron?” “I was looking for the line with the words ‘the Onion’ beside my post.” For those who don’t know, the Onion, of course, is a comical, satirical magazine in the U.S. “While they’re at it, can you ask them to make an official silly walks day?” “We’ve already got a Ministry of Red Tape.”
I’ve got to read a few more. “Ha, ha, ha. Let’s do yoga on the bridge.” I’ve already used that one. “What about hard hat day?” somebody posted. “Got to be bright blue.”
Let’s do some more. Well, this one is very dear to my heart. It says: “We could easily reduce red tape.” In capital letters: “Get rid of the Liberals.”
Here’s another one: “Well, that is what the federal Conservatives are touting, 40 percent less red tape, and Clark is a….” With respect. I’m quoting here. “The person, the Premier, is a con,” it says here.
“The stupidity of the B.C. Liberals never fails to surprise me.” Another quote. I could go on and on. “Words escape me.” “Who are these people?” “This is too absurd for words” “Face palm. No, wait. Is it April 1?” That comment on my Facebook page — I really like to engage my constituents on Facebook — prompted me to put in this amendment to this bill, this ridiculous bill, to change the date to April 1.
“Why? Why? Why? No direction. No leadership. No brains,” is another comment. I’m not picking and choosing. I’m just reading the comments. “What’s next, anti-provincial holiday day?” “How much did it produce to then reduce?” That’s a good one. How much red tape are we introducing to then reduce it?
We could keep on going. “Did it pass?” somebody asked. “Baffling, staggering, stupefying.” “I solemnly swear never to vote for those responsible ever again.” “Give me a break. With PCTIA taking over the language sector, the B.C. government has shown they have no concept of red tape and the harm it does to businesses — businesses that support B.C. residents and the B.C. economy in general.”
These are not my friends and relatives. These are random people commenting on this. Here, “Oh, can we start with the B.C. Liberals?” another comment about reducing red tape. “Comment: no comment.” “Oh, seriously? It’s not even April 1.What a waste of time.”
Here we have another one, and this one is truly my favourite. This one makes me happier than all of the others combined. I will not say this person’s name, but he said the following. This is somebody who never voted in his life before because he thinks that all politicians are corrupt. He thinks that politics is a waste of time. He has lost hope in politics. He thinks the government is corrupt. With respect. He doesn’t believe in support of the opposition either, and he said this.
“Mr. Weaver” — Mr. MLA for Oak Bay–Gordon Head — “I have been thinking long and hard what you told me when I commented on not voting. You made some very valid points, and I have decided to vote. I wish to thank you, and I wish you good luck in the next election.” It is precisely this type of bill brought to us today that is encouraging these non-voters to regain their democracy.
I keep going: “The only thing missing was Mayor Quimby in his sash.” “On that point, I have to agree with you. A bill is not needed to reduce red tape. That requires a minister who knows how to accomplish that within his or her department.” “Seriously? Are we being pranked?” “Stranger than a Monty Python skit.” “What a waste of time and the paper it is written on.”
I keep going on: “This is the kind of waste of time we have to shed. We have a lot of serious issues that need our senior levels of government.” “The Premier leaves me speechless, but Andrew, you and others like you give me hope.”
I won’t bore the House. I’ve got another four pages of them, and not a single one of these comments…. And I come from a riding that was for 17 years the home of a Liberal cabinet minister, a riding that was the only Conservative riding in the province of British Columbia when Dr. Scott Wallace sat in this Legislature here. This is what my constituents are saying — my constituents, who this government would honestly believe form their base.
Well, let me tell you, they don’t have a base anymore, because this government has lost touch with its base, it’s lost touch with the people of British Columbia, it’s lost touch with small business, and this is a desperate attempt for them to try to regain some control of their base. Sadly, it won’t work. It isn’t going to work, and it sadly — well, happily for us — in only two years, this government will be replaced.
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