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Muzzling the BC Greens — Standing up for Our Democracy

Once more the BC NDP blocked me from participating in a debate. Today we were to debate the following resolution:

15  Mr. Heyman to move —

Be it resolved that this House recognize that Power BC is a modern strategy to build the economy, create jobs and meet B.C.’s energy needs while reducing our impact on climate change.

While I obviously had a few things I could say to this motion, I want to emphasize the highlight of the morning was Vicki Huntington, MLA for Delta South, standing up on a point of order regarding the rights of independent members to participate in these debates and not be shut down by the opposition.

Below is her must-watch video.

Video of MLA Huntington’s Point of Order

Prior to this Minister of Agriculture called for Private Member’s Motion 14 to be debated.

As noted by the Deputy Speaker, “unanimous consent is required to proceed with Motion 14 without disturbing the priorities of the motions preceding it on the order paper.” Unanimous consent was given.

But here’s the problem, Motion 14 stated this:

“Be it resolved that this House recognize the accomplishments and success of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint.”

The motion carried and then George Heyman rose and spoke to Motion 15 (which hadn’t actually been called).

After George delivered his address, the Deputy Speaker stated:

Deputy Speaker: Hon. Members, we have to clarify the motion. It was moved as Motion 14. It’s supposed to be Motion 15. House Leader, could you please move Motion 15?

Hon. N. Letnick: I’m happy to move Motion 15.

Deputy Speaker: Hon. Members, unanimous consent of the House is required to proceed with Motion 15 without disturbing the priorities of the motions preceding it on the order paper. Is consent granted?

I did not grant leave which meant that unanimous support was not received. After a short recess, the Deputy Speaker noted this:

Deputy Speaker: We have received unanimous consent for Motion 14, so we are going to proceed with Motion 14. The member for Vancouver-Fairview already has spoken on that.

And so the debate on Motion 14 resumed.

As noted at the top of this post and in Vicki Huntington’s video, yet again the BC NDP did not want to grant me speaking time. I had contacted the opposition house leader on Friday requesting a position in the speaking order. On Saturday evening I received an email saying this wasn’t in the cards.

While normally I would not have fought back, in this case, I felt compelled to do so. I had tried once before to enter a Monday morning debate on the Kinder Morgan pipeline and was blocked by the NDP on that too. But this latest one came right on the heels of me being shut out in Premier’s estimates.

For those interested, the BC NDP’s  PowerBC plan is hardly a modern strategy to build the economy, create jobs and meet B.C’s energy needs while reducing our impact on climate change. It is 449 words long and is supported by a 420 word backgrounder. Combined, that’s the length of an opinion piece on a newspaper editorial page. It reads more like a sequence of political talking points rather than a comprehensive plan.

Don’t get me wrong, the BC Liberals have no jobs plan to transition us to a low carbon future either. They are still doubling down on their reckless desperate venture in search of an LNG investment. It’s because of their myopic view to hit an LNG home run that the Canadian Wind Energy Association recently packed up and left British Columbia. We should be using our existing dams and bringing intermittent sources of power together with these dams to actually stablize the base demand.

It’s because of this BC Liberal myopic view that a $1 billion US investment walked from British Columbia — walked from Vancouver Island. There was to be a partnership between five First Nations, TimberWest and EDP Renewables to build wind capacity on Vancouver Island in close proximity to demand for electricity thereby reducing substantive transmission loss.

I agree wholeheartedly in the need to transition to a low carbon economy and have spent many years working towards this end. If we want to rapidly transition to a low carbon furture we only have to look at what is happening in Ontario. Yet in BC we appear to be more interested in debating NDP sound bites and BC Liberal rhetoric.

Where’s the leadership? Where’s the vision?

We should be discussing a fundamental change to the mandate of BC Hydro. BC Hydro should no longer be the builder of new power capacity. Rather, it should be the broker of power deals, transmitter of electricity, and leveller of power load through improving British Columbia power storage capacity. Let industry risk their capital, not taxpayer capital, and let the market respond to demands of cheap power. And we should be talking about the importance of government regulatory oversight, something I will do in a private member’s bill that I will introduce tomorrow.

We should be discussing the widespread electrification of our vehicular sector, including government leadership therein, expanding charging infrastructure and tweaking building codes. The potential here for the clean energy sector is profound.

We should be discussing the introduction of smart grid networks which would assist in load-levelling and high voltage point-to-point DC transmission lines.

And we should be debating exciting new opportunities for innovation and leadership in cleantech renewable energy research and development. One such exampled is the proposed Applied Engineering School in Squamish.

Finally, midway through the debate on Motion 14 I noted that a number of MLAs continued to read their prepared scripts on Motion 15. As such, I also rose on a Point of Order asking the Chair to consider urging the house to debate the motion before us. The video of that follows.

Video of My Point of Order


  1. Lucas-
    May 17, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Andrew, I support a lot of the work you and and you are the only politician that I could ever vote for without regretting it afterwards. That said, using Ontario as an example of what to do (“we only have to look at what is happening in Ontario”) has got to be the most asinine thing I have ever heard you suggest. Their hydro costs are through the roof, their per capita debt is the highest in the country as is their debt-to-gdp ratio, and their provincial government expense to revenue ratio is the second highest in the country. Please tell me that I haven’t been duped into thinking you’re smarter than you really are. Ontario is an undeniable example of what not to do. p.s. I’d love a reply from you if you’ve got time. I’m interested to hear your view.

    • May 18, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Hi Lucas, Ontario has undoubtedly made many mistakes along the way. But we can learn from them. BC has a fantastic debt to GDP ratio. It’s important that we protect this. I would argue our expense to revenue ratio may have overshot a bit (see this http://www.andrewweavermla.ca/2014/05/26/path-bc-public-education/ ) But Wynne’s climate plan that was recently leaked is truly visionary. I am praising the present plan.