General · 16th May 2014
The efforts to save the Agricultural Land Reserve dominated this week in the Legislature, as we continued to argue with the government that changing the Commission and the Reserve would do great damage to the future of BC and to food security.
On Vancouver Island we should be particularly aware of this since we only have an estimated three-day supply of food. Instead of diminishing our ability to grow food locally, we should be enhancing it.
One of the problems is that there has been almost no consultation about the changes. Farmers, ranchers, agricultural associations and academics all say that they should have been able to have some input into the drafting of the bill. To try to make this happen we, as Official Opposition, introduced a motion to send Bill 24 to a committee to allow experts and stakeholders the opportunity to give their views on the implications of the changes and whether changes are even necessary.
When I spoke about this I raised the concerns of many of those with whom I have been speaking about the importance of agriculture to our communities. I also questioned the failures of the BC legislative system in which the committee system is hardly used. In a Parliamentary democracy, committees allow for diverse opinions to be heard, for experts to present and often for partisan politics to be put aside in order to find consensus. Unfortunately in BC we have very few standing committees and no standing committee on agriculture. In the limited debate, committee stage of a bill is our critic asking questions of the minister who is advised by staff. It does not allow for others to present their views.
The BC Liberals seem to be determined to push this through even though the opposition to it is overwhelming.
I am, however, hoping for bi-partisan support for a Private Member’s Bill I presented: the Provincial Shipbuilding Act. This Act would ensure that all vessels used for public transportation or for public service – such as ferries, seabuses, police boats – would be built in BC. It is a common sense approach to ensure the growth of the shipbuilding industry across the province as well as the creation of thousands of real jobs, not just those which may or may not appear in the LNG industry. My bill also builds in a 15% quota for apprentices to make sure we continue to have a skilled workforce as the industry grows.
There’s been a great deal of interest and support of my bill from the shipbuilders and shipyards and from the companies that work in the sector as well as from unions. I would hope that with the Premier’s stated commitment to jobs in shipbuilding that it will get government support.
As we head to the long weekend I raised the continuing problem of the high cost of travel on BC Ferries during Question Period. I’ve heard from many people who won’t be travelling because of the high fares and I continue to hear from those who are leaving their communities because of the inflated cost to use their marine highway.
Thursday was a momentous day in the Legislature, and in the history of British Columbia, with an apology to Chinese Canadians for the historical wrongs done to them in BC. It was a very solemn occasion. My colleague Jenny Kwan was very involved in ensuring that this came to pass and was instrumental in crafting the wording. The apology is heartfelt and states in part, “we all aspire to be a fair and just society where people of all nations and cultures are welcomed, accepted and respected
I believe this is something close to the hearts of many in our communities.
Earlier in the week I raised the issue of the continued protest by the Kwakiutl First Nation in Fort Rupert. While the protest is ostensibly about logging, the fundamental issue is that no one – neither the provincial nor federal government -- is willing to engage with them as a Douglas Treaty Nation to resolve the problems. The frustration is increasing as this protest effectively flies under the radar.
The Legislature is not sitting next week, as is often the case when there is a long weekend. I have been asked to monitor the May 25th election in Ukraine. I’ve accepted and will be leaving shortly. It does mean I will miss the final few days of the session which wraps up at the end of May. While we expect to return for a period in the fall, that is never guaranteed with the BC Liberals approach to the fixed legislative calendar.
However I can always be reached by email at Claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca, on Facebook or clairetrevena on Twitter. You can contact me the traditional way by phone: 1 250 287 5100 in Campbell River, 1 250 949 9473 or toll free at 1 866 387 5100.
Enjoy the long weekend.