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Economy

Responding to Government’s Ridesharing Announcement

Weaver Responds to Government’s Ridesharing Announcement
March 7th, 2017
For immediate release

VICTORIA B.C. – After tabling the Rideshare Enabling Act twice in the B.C. Legislature, MLA Andrew Weaver is glad to see the provincial government also advancing the issue.

“This government initiative is long overdue and a critical issue for the 21st century economy,” says Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party.

Until today, the B.C. Greens have been the only party advocating for the responsible adoption of ridesharing in B.C., with Weaver introducing his Ridesharing Enabling Act in April 2016 and again in February 2017. Weaver held consultations with stakeholders to create the ridesharing framework bill.

“I have been working on this issue for two years, not out of electoral calculation, but rather as a matter of principle. The principle is – as I have stated repeatedly – that if we are to put innovation at the centre of our new economy, we must embrace the best ideas wherever we find them and improve upon them with made-in-BC expertise,” says Weaver.

“You cannot be considered a leader in technology if you are unwilling to embrace embrace technology already in widespread use.”

Earlier this year, more than 20 local tech CEOs penned a public letter to the B.C. Liberal government articulating the very same reasoning.
“My support for ridesharing lies in the fact that it makes good economic sense. And, hand in hand with that, it is also good environmental policy. Ridesharing, in all its forms, means fewer cars, less dependence on oil and gas, and a much smaller carbon footprint.”
“At the same time, I sympathize with the taxi drivers, many of whom have paid very high prices for their licenses. The government has a duty to ensure that existing industries are adequately consulted, and the announcement from the Taxi Driver’s Association suggests they failed to do so.”

It is important to note that Weaver and the B.C. Green Party’s support of ridesharing doesn’t indicate support for one specific ridesharing company.

“All companies doing business in B.C. are expected to be good corporate citizens and a B.C. Green government will hold them to a very high standard,” says Weaver. “In the government’s announcement today they said they ‘expect’ companies to behave when they do business in B.C. – that’s not good enough. A Green government would require them to do so.”

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Media contact
Mat Wright, Press Secretary
+1 250-216-3382 | mat.wright@leg.bc.ca

British Columbian’s very own Alternate News Channel!

Today in the legislature I questioned the Minister of Advanced Education on what I perceive to be a wasteful use of taxpayers resources. In the United States, the Trump news channel bills itself as the world’s first media outlet dedicated to positive news about Donald Trump. Here in B.C., we have our own. It’s called the Province of B.C. Channel.

You’ll see from the discussion below that this channel has been a colossal failure. Yet it is clear that a substantial amount of money has been spent producing these professionally produced videos. My questions were designed to find out how much these videos were costing the taxpayer.

My questions followed three that the Leader of the Official Opposition posed to the same Minister regarding pre-election advertising using taxpayers’ money. The Minister responded each time by berating the BC NDP for their record in the 1990s. That is why when I stood up I started off by saying that I thought it was 2017 not 1998.

Below I reproduced my exchange with the Minister in video and text format. I was quite disappointed with his answers.


Video of Question Period



Question


A. Weaver: Last time I looked, it was 2017 and not 1998.

In the United States, the Trump news channel bills itself as the world’s first media outlet dedicated to positive news about Donald Trump. Here in B.C., we have our own. It’s called the province of B.C. channel.

This alternate news outlet is not drawing an awful lot of viewers, and we have to wonder why it exists. For example, of the 39 videos that have been posted, 37 have been complete flops. The B.C. jobs plan video got 148 views in three weeks.

The video of the Premier responding to the federal government’s marine strategy was viewed 118 times in three months. A Health announcement of $5 million on spending to boost paramedic response to B.C.’s overdose crisis got 135 views in two months.

The government of B.C.’s channel even produced a one-minute video of the Premier highlighting her in the Hong Kong Terry Fox Run. It got, in one year, 448 views.

My question is this, through you to the minister: how much is this channel costing the people of British Columbia, and why does it exist?


Minister’s Response


Hon. A. Wilkinson: The member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head constantly talks about being evidence-based. Well, let’s talk about some evidence.

First of all, the reason why the videos remain available is so that members of the public and the media can hold us to account for what has been said in the past.

Secondly…

Interjections.

Madame Speaker: Just wait.

Hon. A. Wilkinson: …the member seems to think that the only vehicle for people to learn in the world today is to go dig around in the government website for videos. He forgets that the public don’t consume their news that way these days. They find it through social media, through television — through other forms of communication.

That’s why we have been able to see the increases that we have. The property transfer tax exemption campaign ran for three months and saw a 34-fold increase in traffic in registrations for the service. That’s evidence, Madame Speaker.


Supplementary Question


A. Weaver: The minister clearly doesn’t actually know his file because this is not on the ministry websites. It’s their own province of B.C. news channel.

You know, the minister also says people get their news from other areas. This clearly is a large waste of taxpayers’ money. They’re professionally produced videos put out to the public that aren’t being used. As an example, my right-to-roam legislation, which I put forward, has received 100,000 views in less than a week.

My question, back to the minister, is: why are they doing it, who is paying for it, how much is it costing, and when are they going to take it down or actually make it accessible to a more diverse array of people?


Minister’s Response


Hon. A. Wilkinson: Well, given the quality of work we do and the quality of communication, we don’t need the Green Party bot to make 100,000 hits on our site.

We are not ashamed to say that we have introduced new programs that need to have the level of public awareness that is provided by a variety of communications channels. We maintain those communications vehicles for public scrutiny and for media scrutiny as time goes by. We are certainly not ashamed to have advertised and promulgated the information about the opioid awareness campaign, the property transfer tax exemptions, the single-parent employment initiative, the property tax deferment.

These are critical to British Columbians, as they go through their lives. They are entitled to know that they exist, they are entitled to get access to them, and they are particularly entitled to know that we run a balanced budget that provides $1 billion in MSP rebates. People are entitled to collect that rebate, and the member opposite should be proud of us for doing so.


A Brief Response to the BC Budget

Today in the legislature I rose briefly to respond to the BC Liberal’s pre-election budget. I had originally been scheduled to rise earlier in the week but the cold that I had (which caused me to lose my voice) precluded me from speaking for 30 minutes then. Unfortunately, according to the standing orders, a vote on the budget had to be called this morning. And seeing as some of the speakers took a little longer than we expected, time ran out before a number of us could rise to speak.

Nevertheless I had a little over one minute to outline why I was not supporting the budget. A more thorough response will be given when I speak at second reading of the Budget Implementation Act, the Act that implements the measures contained in this year’s budget.

As one might expect, the budget vote passed 44-31 with the BC NDP and I voting against it.

Below I reproduce the text and video of my response.


Text of My Response


I do recognize that according to standing orders, I have very little time. I just rise quickly to state that obviously, I do not support this budget. This budget is filled with political calculations in an election year.

For example, the MSP premium, which is highlighted in this budget, has a big cut. It’s something you still have to apply for. It’s something that won’t be in effect until 2018. It doesn’t actually eliminate MSP. It still retains the burdensome administrative overhead. There are many, many other examples here.

It’s a budget without a vision. It’s a budget from a government that’s lost touch with the people. It’s a budget from a government that didn’t recognize that its windfall came from an out-of-control real estate sector in Vancouver. Instead of using that money to help those who have been affected by it, through affordable housing, it’s putting it to boutique tax credits for their friends and relatives.

With that, I’ll say that this budget is not something I can support. I look forward to standing with my colleagues on this side of the House and voting against it very shortly.


Video of my Response


Bill M228 — Energy and Water Efficiency Act, 2017

Today in the legislature I rose to table Private Members’ Bill entitled: Bill M228 — Energy and Water Efficiency Act 2017: As I noted in introducing it, this Bill was originally tabled by the Liberal government in 2012 as Bill 32 — Energy and Water Efficiency Act. The Bill received support from all sides of the legislature when it was introduced in 2012. Unfortunately, it was never brought to the Committee of the whole house and subsequently third reading. We missed an opportunity in 2012 to pass this legislation. I hope that the government chooses to pick this up at this time.


Text of Bill Introduction


A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled the Energy and Water Efficiency Act, 2017, of which notice has been given, be introduced and read a first time now.

Motion approved.

A. Weaver: I’m pleased to introduce a bill intituled the Energy and Water Efficiency Act, 2017.

This bill was originally tabled by the Liberal government in 2012. This is a bill that the Minister of Energy and Mines, at the time, said would reduce consumers’ energy bills and lower operating costs for B.C. businesses.

This legislation would replace the current Energy Efficiency Act. It would enable administrative penalties to ensure manufacturers, distributors and retailers comply with energy efficiency guidelines, broaden the scope of energy efficiency requirements to include commercial energy systems, industrial reporting and water efficiency and enable the minister responsible to enact regulations for technical standards.

It was a good and widely supported piece of legislation. It seems that the only reason it went to second reading and wasn’t taken to committee was the fact that the official opposition supported it.

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

Bill M228, Energy and Water Efficiency Act, 2017, 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.

 


Video of Bill Introduction


Responding to the B.C. Budget

Weaver Responds to B.C. Budget
For immediate release
February 21st, 2017

VICTORIA B.C. – “This budget represents a cynical ploy by handing out financial goodies a few months before an election,” says Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party. “It pretends to tackle issues that should have been dealt with years ago. It is politicking with public interests.

“Two years ago, I brought forward a progressive way to eliminate MSP premiums through income taxes, but the government did not act. I brought it up again the next year, and the government made a few minor changes. Now they are making a substantial reduction in MSP premiums for some British Columbians – on the eve of an election.

“This is political opportunism, pure and simple. Although the financial break is an improvement for many British Columbians, the 2017 budget clearly demonstrates that the B.C. Liberals govern by political calculation, not by what is right for the people of B.C.

“This government’s manipulation of voters’ hopes and needs is an insult to the very real anxieties British Columbians face. The B.C. Green Party will put people at the heart of our decision making. We are ready to replace Christy Clark’s contriving government with principled leadership this May.”

Additional quotes on specific sections of the B.C. Budget continued below.

– 30 –

Media contact
Mat Wright, Press Secretary
+1 250-216-3382 | mat.wright@leg.bc.ca


Additional Quotes from Andrew Weaver


“The mindset that is used across the board with this government is ‘many of you are struggling because of our policies, we’ll help a select few of you.’ Rather than addressing the root issues, they are choosing who is worthy of support, based on their ideology. They are picking winners and losers, in our communities and in business:

Affordability

“How can the government afford all these selective investments? The answer is, of course, on the backs of British Columbians. The B.C. Liberals stood by and watched the affordability of B.C. get dragged to an international extreme, to the extent that many can no longer afford to live in the communities they were born and raised in.

“This budget includes 2,000 additional units of affordable housing, which is a start, but this government has dragged tens of thousands of citizens into an affordability crisis.

“This budget provides no relief for low-income renters. Rental assistance programs are simply being maintained at current levels, which is completely inadequate in the face of the out of control rental market. Those struggling to pay rent and seniors struggling to stay in their homes as they age find no help in this budget.

“Now, instead of helping those most in need, the B.C. Liberals are catering to their friends at the top and the demographics they think will vote for them.”

Medical Services Plan Premiums

“The reduction in MSP premiums is a welcome change for many, particularly those with moderate incomes, for whom the premiums are a significant drain.

“However, MSP remains a flat tax, with someone making $42,001 per year paying the same premiums as someone making $120,000.

“Moreover, this government made no commitment and provided no timeline for how they will eliminate MSP premiums entirely.”

Poverty reduction

“Refusing, for the 10th year in a row, to increase social assistance rates is an unconscionable decision. This government is boasting about posting surpluses, yet we have the third highest poverty rate in the country, and this government has refused to increase social assistance rates for the past 10 years. People surviving on social assistance today receive only $610 per month, the same rate since 2007. They rely on food banks to eat.

“The prevailing ideology of this government is that jobs are the only pathway to dignity, and that people on social assistance are simply choosing not to work, and therefore do not deserve adequate support, nor do their children deserve adequate support. ”

Seniors

“This budget is noticeably silent on funding for seniors care.”

Energy

“The B.C. Liberals are still banking on an LNG future for the province, with no mention of wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, or renewable resource development. In fact, the only mention of clean energy in the budget document is made in reference to the ‘Site C Clean Energy project.’

“Eliminating PST for commercial customers strikes me as a transparent giveaway to try to incentivize a non-existent LNG industry and rationalize the construction of Site C dam.”

Environment

“The budget items on ‘environmental protection’ would be laughable if they weren’t so devastating for the environment in our province.

“The B.C. government’s selective protection of wildlife is a disaster. They’ve let the biodiversity of our province become more endangered than anywhere else in the country and destroyed habitats to the point of local extinction. We have more at risk species than any other province – but this government singles out caribou – and only caribou – for protection. Caribou recovery is, of course, a praiseworthy initiative, but these populations are in crisis because the government permitted the destruction of their critical habitat in the first place.

“In this budget we get more money for park rangers and campsites. While welcome investments, they have more to do with people than the environment. The 1,900 new campsites will be built into existing parks, replacing wild habitats. There will be no additional funding in the next three years for the Conservation Officer Service or the environmental protection, sustainability, or enhancement initiatives.

“That this government would consider $5 million for the SPCA as a commitment to environmental protection is an outrageous testament to the utter disregard this government holds for the environment. The SPCA does laudable work protecting the welfare of domestic and farm animals, but it is transparently not in the business of environmental protection.”

Transportation

“Regarding clean transportation, they’ve neglected innovation in favour of merely re-announcing an old program.

“Instead of actively supporting the expansion of clean transportation, this government is merely providing static funding for an existing program, premised on an assumption of no increase in demand.”