As I mentioned earlier, we’ve had a couple of odd bills introduced during this legislative sitting. In the case of Bill 37, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, (No. 2), 2015, things are no different. The government introduced a bill that simply corrected a few commas, a bracket that shouldn’t have been italicized, and a couple of spelling mistakes.
Below is the text of my not to be taken too seriously comments on Bill 37. I encourage those interested in other comments on this bill to read the Hansard transcript of Leonard Krog’s second reading speech. He had me in stitches as he unpacked the (non)complexity of the bill.
A. Weaver: I bound to my feet in enthusiasm to speak in support of Bill 37, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, (No. 2), 2015. Like my colleague from Nanaimo, I have been waiting many months to read about the many provisions that have been made here with respect to commas and periods.
Now, I take social media very, very seriously. I believe it’s important, as legislators, for us to engage our constituents and ask them what their views are on bills. So I form my opinion based on the opinions of the constituents and the input I get from talking to my staff and so forth. Now, I had a torrent of information come my way — really, more enthusiasm as to this bill. I had a couple of other suggestions that I think are relevant, and I think a couple of them should be read in because there are new ideas that the people of British Columbia are bringing to this government.
They’ve offered me an opportunity to give this government some more ideas for bills that they can bring forward this session to complete the legislative agenda. Here are a couple — I quite like these — from a fellow called Dave Hutchinson. He suggested Bill 39 be introduced — an act to replace the dash with the semicolon. I’m impressed with that. He has also suggested Bill 40, the act to eliminate redundancies act. Quite clever, actually.
We’ve had a comment from an Andrew Park, who was quite taken aback by the fact that the government’s agenda seemed so void of ideas. He said: “What’s up next — a bill to outlaw the selling of Twinkie bars in months that have two full moons?” Now, hon. Speaker, you will not believe it. It must have been a boring day on Facebook, because a discussion ensued, after that comment, as to whether or not you could still buy Twinkie bars in Canada. That’s the level of discussion that this bill is provoking in British Columbia. Turns out, there is good news. I was able to provide my constituents with an address that they could write to, to order Twinkies on line.
But it doesn’t end there. There have been other ideas. Truly my favourite, which we could debate for probably a couple of days, was suggested to me by my press secretary. That would be Bill 41. And those going back as far as my fellow alumnus Pierre Berton, a 1937 grad from Oak Bay that I mentioned in a statement today…. Sadly and ironically — just a sidebar with respect to the statement. For the first time in recorded memory, the Hansard blacked out. But it didn’t black out; it greened out. A green screen came up through my statement, so it’s no longer available as a video with other than a green screen there. Appropriate? Perhaps it’s seeing something in the future, I don’t know. But let’s come back to the bill. I sway. I move off it.
Bill 41, Mat Wright, press secretary: the double space after a period re-enactment bill, 2015. Say it again: the double space after a period re-enactment bill, 2015. That’s an issue that we should debate. Some people, sloppily, only put one space after a period. Within the legislation here, there are sometimes two spaces, sometimes one. We should have consistency on this — consistency.
Bill 42, the wilful and willingly act of willingness act, 2015. Bill 43, the healthy heath act, 2015. And one that I’d like to expand upon further, Bill 44, the two l’s or one act of decision, 2015.
Let me expand upon that a bit more. You know, we wonder whether “wilful” was willingly and wilfully worded wisely in the bill brought before us. Why I say that is that it appears, as the member for Nanaimo pointed out, that government has chosen to pay tribute to my former alumnist Pierre Berton from Oak Bay but has done so not consistently. It turns out that there are a further 15 acts that have spelled “wilful” wrong, one of them being — and I say this with the deepest sadness and shame on the government — the School Act. Heaven forbid that the School Act is not being corrected to change the way “wilful” is spelled. Yet we are doing it in others.
The Community Charter, Insurance Premium Tax Act, the Local Government Act, the Logging Tax Act, the Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement Act, the Mineral Tax Act, the Motor Fuel Tax Act, the Perpetuity Act — I don’t even know what some of these are — the Personal Property Security Act, the Property Transfer Tax Act, Railway Act, Tobacco Tax Act — we’re amending that one; that’s good — Trustee Act, and Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act.
Why are we just wilfully changing the spelling of “wilful” in a couple of acts when staff, in a matter of literally maybe 30 seconds — maybe it was 45 seconds — did a simple Google search with “site: B.C. Laws” and you can find all these other acts that have the misspelling. I don’t really quite know what’s going on here, but it actually goes further.
There’s an inconsistency with the use of the number of l’s and in other areas. One of my staff researchers gave me a lot of fuel to actually further this discussion. “Fuelled” is either spelled with one l or two l’s throughout the legislation in British Columbia. It’s sloppy. The environment act, the Environment Management Act, the Clean Energy Act, the Motor Vehicle Act, the Safety Standards Act and the Wildfire Act — the regulations there — have “fuelled” spelled with double l’s.
“Fuelling” is spelled with double l’s in the Assessment Act, the Nisga’a Final Agreement Act, the Park Act, Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act, the Clean Energy Act regulations, the Environment Management Act regulations, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act regulations, the Utilities Commission Act regulations.
Yet single l’s in “fueled” are used in the Local Government Act, the Wildfire Act and regulations, the Workers Compensation Act regulations, and “fueling” with single l’s is used in Forest and Range Practices Act regulations, the Wildfire Act and regulations and so forth. In fact, what’s even worse is that in some, double l’s are used and single l’s are used, so it’s not only inconsistent across laws but within laws.
The same thing. As you travel through these documents, you quickly realize that “travelled,” indeed, also is spelled with single l’s or double l’s. I won’t belabour the point. But why I’m raising this, honourable speaker….
A. Weaver: The hon. member for Nanaimo, very hon. member, points out that…. As soon as I get downstairs, I will be tasking my staff to search “colour” and “color” and “labour” and “labor” spelled with “our” or “or,” because this is critical.
A. Weaver: The member for Cowichan Valley points out that this is a can of worms that has been opened. British Columbians from Victoria to Fort Nelson, from Rossland to Haida Gwaii are going to be combing through B.C. bills looking for spelling mistakes. We’ve already started with the School Act, because we really wanted to find a few more spelling mistakes in the School Act. We’ll work on it. It’s a long act. We’ll find a couple. But it’s a challenge that I put out today to all British Columbians.
We’ve got nothing to do in this Legislature. Go through the act, find the punctuation errors, find the spelling mistakes and send them to me, email@example.com, and I will bring them to the Legislature to enable discussion for months ahead as we debate the matters of importance to British Columbians.
A. Weaver: I’m getting comments on my e-mail as not being correct from the member for Powell River–Sunshine Coast.
A Weaver: I’m sorry. I cannot say my name, the member points out. But I think I was quoting an e-mail.
You could do…. It’s a good point. The e-mail is member.memberslastname.mla, where I am that member, at leg.bc.ca. Thank you to the member for Powell River–Sunshine Coast.
With that, I do encourage my fellow citizens of British Columbia to please spend hours, send us more of your money, so that we can spend hours to go through with a fine-tooth comb and find those misplaced semicolons, to find those split infinitives, to rightly find those split infinitives, because that doesn’t do justice to our fine English language.
I really don’t have much more to say on this. But I do realize that the people of British Columbia expect us to debate these issues, and I’m having a hard time filling up the time with anymore substance here, because I’ve just run out. I just don’t know what to say. I honestly don’t know what to say.
Here I thought, being elected an MLA, you would actually debate matters of substance — and I say “debate” matters of substance. Here we are talking about spelling, talking about red tape, while real issues affecting British Columbia go by.
I would love to talk about LNG. I would love to talk about the fact that recent news article out of Malaysia points out that Petronas is actually going to move on, to the mid-2020s. I’d love to talk about that. But, no, we have to talk about punctuation.
With that, I thank you, hon. Speaker, for your time.