A government that has been in office for 14 years tends towards arrogance, perhaps none more so than the BC Liberals. Their attitude in the Legislature this week was one of contempt.
As so often it happened during the Question Periods. In one instance we were asking about the contracting out of laundry services from hospitals in the interior. The Minister of Health made a mockery of the question implying laundry services are not important to health care and then said he’d rather ensure there are endoscopy services rather than washing machines in hospitals. The privatization of housekeeping services has resulted in dirty hospitals and, as I would have hoped the minister would have acknowledged, dirty hospitals lead to the spread of germs. I would also have hoped he would have realized that laundry facilities are part of the structure that keeps hospitals operating – so the doctors can perform the endoscopes, the joint replacement and all other medical interventions.
Another example of arrogance was when the Minister of Justice was asked about the lack of funeral directors on Haida Gwaii and the problems that is causing. She said, “I wish them well” and then went on to say there is no market for funeral services on the Islands.
The arrogance is also reflected in major policy decisions, including the government’s refusal to record its decision-making process. It seems terrified of leaving any written record. For instance, the government held 80 meetings along the Highway of Tears to discuss safe transportation: there is not one record of what was said at any of those 80 meetings. I questioned this very frightening oral culture when I addressed Bill 5, The Government Information Act *. While the bill is needed, as it will deal with archiving the government records, nowhere does it require governments to record. Records show how decisions were made and are part of government accountability; if a government makes a decision on behalf of the people it should be able to justify it. Unless there is some outstanding need for confidentiality, the general public, the opposition and media should have access to these records as part of the democratic process. Unfortunately this government relies on the shredder and the delete button rather than letting its decision-making be analyzed. Once again we have an elected government complicit in undermining democracy.
It was also disappointing to see the Minister of Forests refuse to engage in questions about privatizing our land base. There has been a growing dispute between B.C’s hunters and the government over allocations. It escalated to a protest by hunters at the Legislature on Monday. By changing the rules, the BC Liberals are allowing private guide outfitters greater access to wildlife. That means people who don’t live in BC, and pay to come to hunt here, will have easier access to game than those who live here. BC resources belong to the people of BC, whether those resources are our trees, our water, our land base or our wildlife.
I raised the question of investment in our forest service roads with the Minister during the estimates debate. (thurs pm) I have consistently called for more money to be invested, particularly on the Zeballos Road which is deteriorating. This is the access road for four communities, two schools and the ambulance service. The Minister said he would investigate and give me a response
I was pleased to see the recognition that some of our lands have to be protected. The government brought in a bill this week that confirms the link between the Octopus Islands Marine Park and Small Inlet Marine Park on Quadra Island becomes parkland. This was more than 20 years in its coming and was largely the result of hard work from individuals on Quadra, as well as some in BC Parks, culminating in an impressive fundraising campaign.
And once again the Minister of Transport has failed coastal communities, and all of BC, this time by his unwillingness to approach the federal government for more funding for our ferries. The Atlantic provinces get a disproportionate amount of federal money for their ferry service relative to the West Coast. When I asked the Minister about this in Question Period , he said he has had the occasional conversation with his federal counterpart but clearly he hasn’t made this a priority. I have written to the Minister I would be more than willing to work with him to lobby for more federal funds for our ferries.
I also spoke briefly about a transportation housekeeping bill that puts many assets under the BC Transportation Finance Authority.
I had the pleasure of telling the Legislature on Tuesday about the innovative forestry class at Carihi, and I hope, shared the enthusiasm of the students and the teachers for their class.
I’m back in the constituency this weekend before heading back to Victoria for another week of Legislative politics. I can be reached wherever I am on email: Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org. My phone numbers are 250 287 5100 in Campbell River and 250 949 9473 in Port Hardy. The toll free number is 866 387 5100. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @clairetrevena.ca or check out my web page www.clairetrevena.ca.
*If you are having problems with this link go to:
http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/40th4th/20150303am-House-Blues.htm (scroll down to approx. 11:20)