Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Liberal Tax Controversy


Andrew Scheer
The Liberals are targeting local business owners with a political campaign that plays up the politics of envy and resentment, pitting one group of Canadians against another, dividing us instead of uniting us.

What has struck me over the past year since the Liberal government took office is that every time they see a problem, the answer is always to raise taxes. When the Conservatives see an issue, a problem, or an aspect in our tax system, we always look for ways to lower taxes.  This is the fundamental difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives. (Hon. Andrew Scheer)
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Pierre Poilievre
Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, CPC)

-moved:

   That, given the proposed changes to the taxation of private corporations as outlined in the Minister of Finance's paper “Tax Planning Using Private Corporations” will have a drastic negative impact on small and medium sized local businesses, the House call on the government to continue, until January 31, 2018, its consultations on these measures.

   He said: Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

   The government says it wants to avoid unintended consequences from its proposed tax changes.   Here is one. What if these proposals simultaneously raise taxes and reduce government revenue?

   Let us consider the government's new tax on so-called passive income. Under the present system, when all is said and done, small business earnings are taxed at the same rate as wages. The only difference is timing. Assuming a 50% personal income tax rate, a wage earner pays 50¢ on the dollar in the year it is earned. A business, by contrast, pays 15¢ in the year it is earned and the remaining 35¢ when she takes the money out of the company. The government claims that this is allowing the business owner to invest that 35¢ inside her company, growing a bigger nest egg than she would if she had paid all the tax up front. This, according to the finance minister, is unfair.

   To prove it, the finance minister's so-called consultation document has a table showing how much better off this small business woman is from investing the after-tax proceeds of $100,000 of business earnings versus investing the after-tax proceeds of $100,000 in wages. In the first instance, the business owner has starting capital of $85,000, with the small business tax rate being roughly 15%, in most provinces. As an employee, she would have only $50,000 as starting capital.

   The result is that if both she and her employee had the same money and invested the after-tax proceeds, she, as a small business owner, would have $62,000 at the end of a 10-year investment, and the employee would have about $58,000, using the round numbers the government provides in table 7 of its consultation paper. It is $62,000 at the end of the day at the end of the 10-year period for the small business woman, and $58,000 for the employee. It is not fair, right? However, there is one key detail the finance department excluded from this table. In fact, the only detail that matters is excluded, and that is who actually paid more tax, the small business woman or the employee, after the 10-year period, assuming a 3% rate of return, as the department's table does. The government omitted that calculation altogether. It did not want people to know who paid more taxes at the end of the day.

   I had a respected tax modelling firm, headed by Jay Goodis, the chartered professional accountant and CEO of Tax Templates, do the math the government left out of the consultation paper. Let us break it down. It is true that the employee paid more tax up front: $50,367, to be exact. He then paid another $8,023 on the interest earned in the subsequent 10 years, for a total tax bill of $58,390.

   The business woman, on the other hand, paid admittedly less money up front: $14,400. She then paid another $5,412 on her interest. So far it is true that the business person paid a little bit less. However, at the end of the 10-year period of investment, when she took the money out, she actually paid a whopping $45,238, because that tax was not avoided; it was merely deferred. She paid a total of $65,050, or about $6,700 more than the employee.

   How is it possible that the small business person actually paid more tax and had more money at the end of the 10-year cycle? The answer is that the money on the deferred tax grew to a larger total, so when she pulled it out, there was more money to tax. In other words, both the business owner and the government are actually better off. This, again, is under the scenario the government put in its consultation paper, lest my friends across the way try to accuse me of contriving the right circumstance to get the right result.

   To be fair, we need to take account of inflation. The business owner did pay the $35,000 in tax at the end of the 10 years, as opposed to the beginning, and during that time the value of money declined. The Bank of Canada has a target rate of inflation of 2%, which reduces the value of that $35,000 by $6,403, but still, even if we subtract that $6,403, the small business woman paid $250 more in tax than the employee did in this scenario.

   The scenario of course was perfectly contrived by the government to produce the best possible result to make its case. Now I am using it to make mine, but if that business person and that employee had earned, say, 6%, which is still a very reasonable return, then the business woman would have paid almost $8,000 more in tax after inflation was factored in than the employee in the exact same circumstance.

 Also, the calculation is extremely conservative. I am excluding the benefits of having the entrepreneur invest the money up-front and to pay the taxes later. For example, the companies she is lending to or investing in are paying her 3% for a reason. They are using her capital to hire people and buy profit generating assets, which also generate tax revenue for the government. I am excluding all of that revenue from my calculation.

   The finance minister suggests that these types of passive investments inside a company constitute dead money. He is dead wrong. In fact, this bizarre claim contradicts his own consultation paper, which calculated that these very investments generate $27 billion in income every year. The only way these investments could possibly generate these returns is if the companies receiving the investments use them to fund their own growth.

   How much of that growth would be lost if the government deleted the initial investment by forcing the business owner to pay that extra 35% up-front on the principal, or a new double tax of 73% on the resulting income? The $27 billion in growth is a lot of money and it cannot be the result of dead money because we know that dead things do not grow.

   The calculation I put forward also excludes other behavioural responses that would inevitably result from the government's proposed tax increase. With the punitive 73% tax rates the government is threatening to impose on passive income, how many of the investments I just described would simply not happen in the first place? How many young people would look at the diminished reward and simply say, why should I bother taking the risk, or why should I not just invest in another country? Even if none of these behavioural changes happen, if we believe the contrived scenarios the finance minister has developed to make his case, the government will still be getting less lifetime revenue, according to the calculations provided by Jay Goodis, at Tax Templates.

   When I asked the Finance officials these questions, they said it was true that the government would get less revenue, but that it would be fairer because it would be more neutral. That is the kind of negative, adverse thinking that the government has toward our entrepreneurs. This is not a policy of wealth distribution, it is a policy of wealth destruction. The only reason the government wants a policy that will reduce its revenue is that it will increase the revenue in the very short term as money floods out and into the coffers, because the Prime Minister wants to spend the money now and so he wants to tax it now. Our view is that he should consult more, fix these problems, scrap this tax increase, and focus on growing the wealth of the nation so that the rising tide will lift all ships.


Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.):  

   Madam Speaker, the current tax system is unfair and needs to be changed since a professional making $250,000 a year and who takes advantage of the current rules could end up paying a lower tax rate than the middle-class employee on salary.  It is very clear that the Government of Canada understands and appreciates the true value of Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it.

Once again, we see a policy coming from the government that reinforces the view that a strong Canada means a strong middle class, yet we see the opposition again trying to attack the government's ability to ensure there is fairer tax for all Canadians.

Why does this opposition oppose having a fairer tax system?

Hon. Pierre Poilievre:  

Madam Speaker, this July the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance made a selfless announcement that the rich should pay more tax, meaning of course that the Prime Minister might have to give up the inherited Mercedes he received from his father and that the finance minister's billion-dollar company would pay much pay much higher tax rates, and that both of them would make great sacrifices so that everyone else could pay less. Just kidding.

In fact, they will not pay a penny more. The billion-dollar family business of the finance minister is excluded, and the family fortune of the Prime Minister is excluded. Just the plumbers, the electricians, and the farmers will pay new tax under this particular proposal.

Speaking of fairness, let us deal with the inequalities they are creating in this system. The passive income from investing in someone else's business will be taxed at higher rates that investment in one's own company. Indeed, there will be a 73% tax on so-called passive investments within a small private company, but no tax increase on a larger publicly traded Bay Street company. There will be pension splitting for government and corporate workers, but no retirement income splitting for retired business people. Furthermore, farmers will pay higher tax in selling their family farm to their kids than to a foreign corporation.

If the Liberals are just trying to create neutrality in the tax code, why will there be so many new inequalities and so much more unfairness?

Mr. Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, NDP):

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my Conservative colleague a question, but first I would like to remind him of something that the Liberals do not like to hear.

The Liberal platform of 2015 indicated that they wanted to look at all tax measures, billions of dollars' worth, but nothing was said about targeting just small and medium-sized businesses. They talked about looking at the bigger picture when it comes to tax measures in order to create greater tax fairness. They also promised to lower the tax rate for small and medium-sized businesses, which they have not done.

Instead of looking at the bigger picture, the Liberals botched the consultation process by holding it in the middle of the summer and talking about only one thing, namely, small and medium-sized businesses.

Does the member agree with the NDP that not only should there be more consultation, but that the consultation process should look at the entire tax structure, as the Liberals had promised?

Hon. Pierre Poilievre:  

   Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.

   It is true. The proposed changes are targeted with surgical precision to exclude the wealth of Liberals, ministers, and their friends. For example, tax havens, which the hon. member often talks about, were totally excluded from these changes. We wonder why the government is not looking at areas relating to corporations and billionaires who avoid paying taxes here in Canada.

   If I could just pick up on the earlier premise of my speech, that less revenue might result from these increased tax rates, that is exactly what happened as a result of the Liberals' first tax increase. They said they would collect more money in taxes from the rich. In fact, according to the finance department's annual report, they collected $1 billion less in tax revenue from the wealthiest Canadians as a result of the changes brought in during their first year.

   By the way, how much will it cost to fund compliance with these new changes? Will they actually make more money as a result or will the cost on the taxpayer simply increase, just as they increased the burden on small business?

Hon. Andrew Scheer (Leader of the Opposition, CPC):

   Madam Speaker, I want to start by thanking my colleague, the shadow minister of finance, for sharing his time with me today.

   Today, our Conservative opposition is demanding that the government give Canada's local business owners a little respect.

    For the past couple of months, our Conservative opposition has heard from Canadians across the country. They come from all walks of life and live in cities and rural areas. They own small local businesses and have people working for them. They are the mechanics and their employees who maintain our cars. They are the coffee shop owners who provide us with a place to meet our friends. They are the farmers who provide us with fresh, healthy food, who want to hand over the family farm to the next generation. They are unanimous when it comes to the Prime Minister's tax increases. The proposed tax increases are a serious threat to their jobs, their livelihood, and their community.

   Small businesses are the backbone of Canada. They are the heart of our economy in communities large and small. That is where we get our first jobs or where people get a fresh start.

   That is why we simply cannot stand by and allow the Liberal government to attack those people. We have been hearing for months of the very real threat these tax hikes pose to local business. The government needs to listen to those voices. That is why we are calling for the consultation period to be extended. There is simply too much on the line for so many hard-working Canadians for the government to get this wrong.

   We are not talking about big multinational corporations, but about our neighbours and people like Bowen Lew, a first generation Canadian I met last week in the market. Bowen owns a company that sells hardwood flooring. He employs five workers. He came to Canada from China because he believed that this was the right place to build his business and raise his family. Bowen wants to expand. He wants to open another location. He wants to hire more workers. That is job creation in action. It is a small business hiring a few more people. However, the Liberal government's new taxes on passive investments and income are putting his expansion plans in jeopardy. It will make it much costlier for him to save within his company.

   The government likes to talk about fairness. It says that it is raising taxes on business operators like Bowen in the name of making things fair for the middle class. That makes no sense.

   That is not fair. Those business owners are honest, hard-working people. They do not have paid vacation or employment insurance benefits to help them. They do not keep track of their overtime hours. Instead, they put everything they have into their business to get people working and to make their community stronger.

   The government demeans people like Bowen and millions like him by calling them “tax cheats”. The Prime Minister has said that “a large percentage of small businesses are actually just ways for wealthy Canadians to save on their taxes”. That is astonishing. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister and the finance minister run in the kinds of circles where many people do set up these types of corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. However, the millions of Canadians across this country like Bowen are doing it to create something for their family, an opportunity. The Liberals are targeting local business owners with a political campaign that plays up the politics of envy and resentment, pitting one group of Canadians against another, dividing us instead of uniting us.

   The decision to raise taxes is being made by a government with a major spending problem. The Liberals broke their promise to run a deficit of only $10 billion, and they will not balance the budget by 2019. According to the government's own estimates, Canadians will be paying off its debt for the next 35 years. The government chose local businesses to pay back its out-of-control spending. Rather than taking responsibility for its own mistakes, the government is punishing small businesses.

   Higher taxes help no one, but the Liberal government is determined to impose a massive tax hike with no care for the cost to jobs or the impact on local communities.

   The Liberal government is hurting the very people it claims to help. The Liberals campaigned on a promise to help the middle class. However, according to a recent study, 80% of middle-class families are now paying $800 more a year in taxes as a result of a series of tax hikes, which include an increase in payroll taxes and Canada pension plan premiums, the cancellation of many tax credits that families needed, and a lower TFSA contribution limit.

   That is not all. The Liberals also imposed a national carbon tax. These tax hikes are just another major blow to Canada's small businesses.

   What is so frustrating is listening to the rhetoric that comes from the government. We are asked to believe that this is about fairness. We have already established that what the Liberals are doing is not fair, but let us explore that a bit deeper.

   The Liberals are causing a whole bunch of people to lose out with these proposals, such as anyone who has ever used a passive investment account to save during good times to get through the bad times, female entrepreneurs who decide to self-fund their own maternity leave, and successful business owners who want to save money to open a second location. Perhaps for some years that money was not invested directly into the business. Instead, it was put to work elsewhere in the economy. It was invested in any number of productive enterprises that helped others grow and expand. After those funds were out there for some time, helping with that growth, earning interest and compounding, the owner used that money to open a second location. Anyone who did that is going to lose out under these new proposals.

   It is not dead money, as the finance minister would have us believe. I do not know how he is going to show his face around serious economists after having said that. Does the minister actually believe the money that is saved in investments does not do any good? Is he going to tell all of his millionaire friends, who got exceedingly rich by taking money from Canadians and investing it for themselves, that they have somehow damaged the economy by doing that? His solution for that dead money is to take these defibrillators full of tax hikes and revive that dead money back to life with a 73% tax rate. That will get the job done.

   As so many people will lose under these proposals, we have to ask ourselves who the winners are. Who will be better off? The big answer is nobody.

   The government admits that the current rules on passive income do not cost the government in the long run. At the end of the day, the tax is not avoided; it is deferred. In other words, nobody else has to pay higher taxes because of that tool. Nobody will benefit from tearing people down.

   The answer must be that the Liberals just cannot wait. They need the money now. There will be a temporary spike in government revenue in the year these changes are made, as the deferral is essentially eliminated. That is why the Prime Minister is doing it. The Liberals are desperate for cash after raiding the savings that the previous Conservative government left them.

   Just as the Liberal government is indifferent to the needs of hard-working Canadians, our Conservative opposition is here to give them a voice. We will not stand by and let the government cripple local businesses and threaten jobs with these tax hikes. That is why we are fighting these increases every step of the way.

   Today, the Liberal government has the chance to start repairing the damage it has already done. It has a chance to demonstrate some good faith toward Canada and local business owners. It can extend the consultation period on these tax proposals until January 31, 2018, and why not? What is the downside and what could possibly be wrong with listening to Canadians for a few more months and getting that feedback?

   Extending the consultations would allow local businesses and farmers to really make their voices heard. It is about respect for the people who work hard to create jobs and contribute to their communities. It is high time the government started treating local businesses with the respect they deserve. Canadians expect nothing less. We, the Conservative opposition, will always be there to stand up for them. We are the voice of prosperity and opportunity for all Canadians.

Ms. Kamal Khera (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):  

   Madam Speaker, let us be absolutely clear. Middle-class Canadians and hard-working small business owners are not the focus of these changes. In fact, 83% of all passive income is earned by individuals who make more than $250,000 per year. We also know that a professional making $250,000 a year who takes advantage of the current rules could end up paying a lower tax rate than a middle-class employee on salary.

   How is that fair?

Hon. Andrew Scheer:  

   Madam Speaker, I am sure that local business owners who have to lay off an employee after these changes go through will take solace and comfort from knowing they were not the target of these tax changes and that they were hit hard accidentally. They will feel much better about themselves and the government, knowing the government did not mean to kill those jobs or hurt those opportunities. They will feel much better when they go home at night and write that big cheque to the taxman instead of the employee, knowing they were not really the intended target.

   I do not think any Canadian will buy that. That will not comfort anybody who loses his or her job because of these tax changes.

Mr. Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, NDP):  

   Madam Speaker, what does the member think about all the broken promises of the Liberals. It would be very interesting, because they were supposed to help small businesses by reducing their taxation from 11% to 9%, but they did nothing. They were supposed to study the whole system of tax evasion, but they are targeting only small businesses. They were promising to tackle the loopholes of big CEOs, which is costing almost $800 million per year.

   Why are they targeting families and small businesses but are leaving their friends on Bay Street safe and alone?

Hon. Andrew Scheer:  

   Madam Speaker, my colleague pointed out so much in his question, which I think more and more Canadians are starting to realize. The issue here is that no matter what the Liberals say they are trying to do, it is always the people they claim to help who are hurt the most by their policies. Whether it is protecting their friends on Bay Street, while attacking all those on Main Street, this is just another example.

   All the Finance Minister's friends on Bay Street, his colleagues at Morneau Shepell, all those who attend those $1,500 cash for access fundraisers will not pay more. Those who own shares in publicly-traded, multinational companies will not be affected by this. That is what is so hypocritical about these Liberal proposals.


Ms. Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Lib.):  

   Madam Speaker, we are all here to solve a problem. We all know that small and medium-sized enterprises create jobs. However, the member has suggested that the proposal will affect contractors, plumbers, and small and medium-sized enterprises. I have the proposed changes in front of me. Could he tell me which section applies to that? I would really like to know.

Hon. Andrew Scheer:  

   Madam Speaker, that question exhibits the need for this motion. She clearly has not been listening to Canadians who are coming to town halls and explaining how this will affect their businesses. Since the member has just demonstrated to her colleagues why we need a longer consultation period, because clearly Liberal members have not been hearing enough from Canadians, how will she vote on this motion today? Will this be a free vote? Will Liberal members who are hearing from constituents be allowed to vote in favour of this motion to extend the consultation period?

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The National Holocaust Monument


September 27, 2017 Ottawa.
The national Holocaust Monument was unveiled.  The idea of the monument, landscape of loss, memory and survival, was chosen from several proposals.
The monument focuses on three stories, --the state-sponsored Nazi genocide of the Holocaust; --the history that Canada failed to give asylum to those refugees; --and the 40,000 Holocaust survivors who came to Canada after the Second World War and contributed to nation building.
The open-air monument is across from the Canadian War Museum.   It is made of six concrete and metal walls, with plantings of trees.   The monument is the shape of a skewed Star of David which recognises all victims of the Holocaust.   The Monument suggests visitors contemplate all past atrocities.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Liberals fail to protect Canadas Borders

In my edited shortened speech below, I addressed a deep philosophical problem of Liberals in Parliament, which the nation was reminded of, because of the horror of the World Trade Centre attack.   Now in 2017, the recent waves of “surprise arrivals” that have been swamping our borders, indicates that the old misplaced Liberal mindset has not improved, despite the lessons that could have been learned down through the years.   In part, read my analysis from that time in 2001, when Canada was feeling very raw and bruised.  Then compare, to understand that there has been no improvement in the federal Liberal mindset about protecting Canada and securing our borders.  
37TH PARLIAMENT, 1ST SESSION   EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 79
Monday, September 17, 2001
Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Canadian Alliance):
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of my constituents of New Westminster--Coquitlam--Burnaby and all freedom loving people to extend the deepest heart felt condolences to the many Americans, Canadians, British and others who are direct or indirect victims.
I concur with the motion before the House that states:
That this House express its sorrow and horror at the senseless and vicious attack on the United States of America on September 11, 2001;
That it express its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the American people;
That it reaffirm its commitment to the humane values of a free and democratic society and its determination to bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack on these values and to defend civilization from any future terrorist attacks.
Freedom will always have to be defended from senseless acts of terrorism or in the face of the complacent.  As Canadians watched in horror and tried to understand the incomprehensible, I find it difficult not to think of the possible Canadian connection.  Indications may or may not be valid but regardless, the fact that Canadian law and administration continues to allow non-Canadians with terrorist ties to reside in Canada is just not acceptable.  Given the weakness of our current procedures, we can only say that we are lucky so far, that crime has not been worse.
It is time for the government to get real, stop its denials, stop the defence of name calling put downs against the official opposition and just re-allocate personnel resourcing.  Most countries that accept refugees accept about 10% to 15% of claims but we are so inadequate in our background checks that we accept about 50% or even more.  It is no surprise then that CSIS says that most of the world's terrorist groups have established themselves in Canada for operations.  The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has a mandate to monitor threats to Canada. On June 12, it said:
Terrorism in the years ahead is expected to become more violent, indiscriminate and unpredictable...There will likely be terrorist attacks whose sole aim would be to incite terror itself...Canada a potential venue, for terrorists attacks.
The auditor general gave another wake up call in April 2000 saying:
Visa officers feel they are not only going against their own values, but also making decisions that could carry risks that are too high, and that could entail significant cost for Canadian society.
In response, the government remained complacent and thereby, by definition, perhaps complicit.  Some people coming into Canada found that the way the system is presently designed it allows them to perform their own malevolent goals.  Without sufficient incentive to comply with removal (deportation) orders or reporting conditions, arrivals will continue to stay on and become lost in the system.  People smugglers bring their victims with little fear of prosecution.
Sadly, by the turn of events this week, we are reminded again of the need for the systems to act more promptly and with much greater care for the public safety.  The courage to act requires a much better allocation of human and financial resources and the best available information systems for protection and enforcement.  Without these pragmatics, the best speeches by the government today will never be effective or save us from any tragedy.
Dealing with the volume of arrivals and sorting them out, it is a very intensive people business.  To more effectively cope with these realities, it is reasonable to do two things.  Properly resource the agencies whose practitioners at the line level have been begging for relief.  Give the needed trained personnel and also harden the entry points to reduce the swamping of our system.
One of the flaws in Canadian politics is the traditional difficulty in just mentioning immigration, refugees, border controls and so on.  The censorship practised by the finger pointers and name callers against my party hurts the whole country.  Nevertheless, I will not relent but I will say that in our party we firmly believe that the government must give account for the way security programs are met.
September 11, 2001, will be remembered forever.  The attack upon the United States changes how we think of the world.  Civilization has been attacked and freedom everywhere has been hurt.  Our prayers will continue with the victims and their families.
I end my remarks by saying that we in the Official Opposition of the Canadian Parliament offer our Prime Minister assistance to do what we can, for this week's tragedy is of international scope.  I have expressed our concern and support to the U.S. embassy, and we send our condolences to the American people.  I am also mindful that there are Canadians and other nationalities who perished in the attack.  While our hearts are broken in this time of grief, I will do my duty to serve to protect what is good and fulfil my part to preserve peace and order.
Technology and the machines of war can neither detect nor eradicate the hatred in the heart of a radical.  Anyone willing to commit suicide as a martyr for their evil idea, is potentially more dangerous than the most sophisticated weaponry.
We have looked into the face of evil.  It is an idea clothed in pride.  It will be overcome by revelation clothed in love.  Our only long-term hope for peace and an end to fanaticism, are changed hearts through faith in the redemptive love of God.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Labour Day


In Canada, Labour Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September, and is the unofficial end of summer, with students returning to school.

Labour Day has been marked in Canada since the 1880s.  Some origins can be traced 1872 when a parade was staged by the Toronto Typographical Union's strike for a 58-hour work-week.   Although the laws criminalising union activity had already been abolished elsewhere, in Canada the police arrested 24 leaders of the Union.   Labour leaders decided to call another demonstration in September to protest.   Seven unions marched in Ottawa, yielding a promise from the Prime Minister to repeal anti-union laws.  On 23 July 1894, Canadian Prime Minister John Thompson’s government made Labour Day in September an official holiday.  While Labour Day parades and picnics are often organised by unions, most Canadians regard Labour Day as the Monday of the last long weekend of summer.

As we move toward the third decade of the 21st century – and another Labour Day – Canadian workers confront daunting challenges.  Technological change threatens traditional jobs, and an aging population is increasingly dependent on social programs, which must be paid for by those in the present workforce.   The workplace has always been changing, and the current stress is from technological change, demographic change, and international competition.   So, what are 21st-century options that can help employers, employees and governments adapt?

The British Columbia Premier said it this way:

As we enjoy the Labour Day long weekend, we should must turn our political thinking, to how best to ensure that our legal labour policies, serve and advance the interests of both workers and employers, before other jurisdictions leave us in the dust or rust belt.

On Labour Day, we recognize the hard-working people of British Columbia, who built this province from the ground up.

Labour Day is a day of rest, and an opportunity to reflect on the progress made by working people. The hard-fought victories of the labour movement over generations made life better for everyone.

People who work hard deserve a government that works hard for them. Our government will increase the minimum wage, open the doors to apprenticeships and skills training, strengthen employment standards and create safer workplaces for all.

Building up our province starts with building up our people.  Thank you for celebrating this special day.  John, Premier John Horgan, Leader, BC's New Democrats

It is a nice sentiment from him as far as it goes.   But as a typical socialist, he purposely on this special day, fails to also honour business people, investors, visionaries, and entrepreneurs, who created jobs in first place.   They invested and risked a lot (sometimes everything) to build British Columbia.  Organized Labour has its proper role, and their success must be recognized on this day.  However, we must honour all, and not just the special few in a discriminatory way.   We honour workers, regardless of position or role.  Political Leadership must not divide our community, but bring everyone together, as we pay respect to the people in the workplace.  We must cooperate, before we just dissipate what our economy has achieved.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Common Sense


Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend “Common Sense”, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucracy.

He is remembered as having cultivated valuable lessons, such as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, stay out of traffic danger, and maybe it was my fault.  “Common Sense” lived by simple financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned, but overbearing regulations were put in place.

Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment and banned for stealing a kiss on the cheek in grade one, teenagers suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened “Common Sense’s” condition.  He then lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they had themselves failed to do in teaching their incorrigible children. It declined even further, when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin, sun lotion, or an ankle wrap to a pupil, but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

“Common Sense” lost the will to live, as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became politically correct businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims. “Common Sense” took a beating when you couldn't defend your home from a burglar, but the burglar could sue for assault because you protected yourself and your own.

“Common Sense” finally gave up, after a woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap and then sued for a big settlement.

“Common Sense” was preceded in death by his parents -Truth and Trust,  his wife -Discretion,  his daughter -Responsibility,  and his son -Reason.  He is survived by three stepbrothers, “I Know My Rights”, “Someone Else is to Blame”, and “I'm A Victim”.  Not many attended his funeral, because so few realised that he was gone.

If you still remember him, pass this on.  If not, join the majority and do nothing.


Thursday, 17 August 2017


August 17, 2017

Over the past few days, the CIJA team has reflected on last weekend’s shameful events in Charlottesville, assessing what it means for our community in Canada.

We are horrified by the images emerging from Charlottesville. Displays of Nazism and white supremacy are shocking and disgusting to all people of good will. For our community, particularly for “Survivors”, they are especially jarring and remind us of our darkest moments in history. For those outside the Jewish community, Charlottesville should serve as a stark reminder that antisemitism is real, destructive, and inextricably linked with other forms of racism and hate.

The Jewish community knows the impact of this hatred all too well. Even in a pluralistic country such as Canada, Jews remain the most targeted religious community for hate crimes. Clearly, we are not immune. But neither are we alone. Canada is among the best places in the world to be Jewish.

I wanted to share a few reflections on the situation in Canada to add perspective to a challenging week.

1. The Security Situation in Canada is Unchanged

The first thing to note is that the security situation for our community in Canada has not changed. In concert with our Federation partners who are the foundation of the National Community Security Program (NCSP), which CIJA coordinates, we maintain excellent relations with law enforcement at all levels. We are in continual contact with them and we monitor developments closely. I can confirm that there is no intelligence whatsoever to indicate that the threat to our community has increased.

2. Our Allies Far Outnumber Our Enemies

Second, despite having promoted their appalling event weeks in advance, the white supremacists behind the Charlottesville rally managed to gather only a few hundred people from across a country of 320 million. By comparison, with only 24 hours’ notice, a diverse crowd of more than 1,000 gathered at my synagogue in Ottawa last November to unite in the face of a spree of hateful graffiti.

This is just one example that shows that for every anti-semite who peddles their disgusting ideology in Canada, we have countless allies willing to stand with our community. In that spirit, we will be working with our interfaith partners and other leaders in civil society to demonstrate that – together – we will not be silent during these challenging times. You can expect to see a very public display of solidarity across communities in the coming weeks.

3. We Must Build Upon Our Strengths to Defeat Hate

In democracies like Canada, it’s clear that white supremacists and neo-Nazis have lost the battle of ideas. In their worldview, there is no place for the democratic freedoms, pluralism, and equality that define our country. The vast majority of Canadians reject their toxic ideology. This does not mean we can be complacent, far from it. But, in our vigilance, we must remember that they – not we – are the ones who are in a position of weakness and illegitimacy.

Charlottesville should be a personal call to action for each of us to take an active role in the fight against antisemitism and hate. The best way an individual can fight hatred is to confront it immediately when they see it, whether on the bus, on the internet, or during social interactions. It takes courage, but it is necessary to preserve everything we value.

We will continue to work with our partners in the NCSP to monitor the security situation, including copy-cat rallies in Canada such as those expected in Vancouver this weekend and in Toronto in September, and we will be sure to keep you informed. If you hear of a rally in your community, I would be grateful if you let us know.

We will also continue making the case, in media and in our conversations with officials, that antisemitism – regardless of the ideology from which it emanates – is not just a Jewish problem. Left unchecked, it can destroy everything a democratic society values.

These are my observations, but I want to know what you think. Please connect with us by engaging with us on Facebook, or getting involved with our work in your community.

Together, we will stand up to hatred and protect what we cherish.

Sincerely, Shimon Koffler Fogel, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

MY OPINION ABOUT THE KHADR DEAL.

Canada apologizes?   Khadr should be the one apologizing!   He should ask forgiveness for what he and his family did  -deserting Canada after the family was provided special protection by the government.   He must actively denounce the Islamic cause, which he has not sufficiently done.
Born in Canada, Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father, who was affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.   On July 27, 2002, at age 15, Khadr was severely wounded in a firefight between U.S. soldiers and Taliban fighters in the village of Ayub Kheyl, during which Khadr threw a grenade that killed American medic Sgt. Christopher Speer.   After being captured and detained at Bagram, he was sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in Cuba.   During his detention, Khadr was interrogated by both Canadian and US intelligence officers.
He paid for his crime in jail, but where is his thankfulness for his enemy saving his life and providing much hospital care (USA forces).   Why did he sue the government...that was outrageous !   And Trudeau paying him off is unacceptable.   He should just humbly go back to school, and anonymously make something out of himself.   He should apologize, and not take advantage of a shakedown against Canada through his lawyers.
Prime Minister Trudeau accepts that the Khadr case action, was indeed his decision.   It is just so wrong on many levels.   No deal should have been made, but rather they should have defended Canada right through to the end.   If there was compensation eventually to be paid, it should be the Courts to award.   Regardless, Canada should always be defended.  
Next, the Liberals tried to keep their stinky deal secret from Canadians, as they were never going to tell us.   For it only came out, because we had a loyal Canadian as a whistleblower, whom now the government seeks to punish.  
There was is also the tactic to shut down the litigation, just to minimize what would come out in Court, that would expose the unhealthy relationship between the Liberals and the Khadr family, starting with Chretien. (political cover-up)  
They also rushed payment to deliberately stiff the American victims, who had a legal claim and Court judgement against Khadr (collusion with the perpetrator)  
They also wrongly tried to blame Stephen Harper, but his was the government to get Khadr back to Canada, and nothing bad happened to Khadr during the Harper years, except that Khadr served out his prison sentence for his crime.  
As this deal went through every level of Liberal government, including the Cabinet, it is now a matter that the whole Liberal administration has been revealed to be unworthy of governance.   The Liberals under Trudeau have failed Canada, and no amount of rationalizing will do.   Voters will just remember at the next election, understanding that they have a weak, misguided government that must be replaced. 
*     *     *
Christie Blatchford (columnist) said it best on July 04,2017.  She said: If it’s clear that no one emerges covered with glory from this saga — not the Americans, not Canada in its enabler role, not the military tribunal — that surely would include Khadr, who has admitted, depending upon your view of it, to murder (because of the legal limbo in which combat exists when there is no formal declaration of war) or to being a fighter who killed a U.S. soldier in action.
But still and all, he did return to Canada, serving out the remainder of his time in institutions in Ontario and Alberta before getting bail in 2015. He has plenty of supporters in this country and more of a shot at a fresh start than many of those who walk away from prison with nothing and absolutely no one in their corner.
Why isn’t that enough? Why can’t Khadr be content with what he has been given, and the rest of us with knowing that if he wasn’t always treated perfectly, he now enjoys freedom?
As a wise historian friend says, ours is a society increasingly reliant upon “social-progressive notions that seek to erase all images of injustice to individuals, no matter how long ago or in what context or circumstance… Our society accepts that we allow all our ‘victims’ to become our ‘heroes’ because a certain strata of Canadians feel good, because Canada is proving that we are more just than everyone else on the planet.”
If nothing else, at the very least, it’s a brilliant victory for the Taliban, al-Qaida, ISIL and all the other extremists: A young jihadist is now a hero in Canada for killing an infidel – and look, he got a big payday and an apology to boot.
What’s next: Do we apologize to the Germans for winning what another friend calls “those two memorable misunderstandings?”
“We did win both. Tore down the fabric of their society, twice. Killed a lot of their young men. Became an occupying force. Really, really sorry about that.”
We can sign it as we always do, “Love, Canada.”

Thursday, 6 July 2017

OTTAWA — A statement released Saturday July 1st by former prime minister Stephen Harper marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation:
Dear fellow citizens:
As we mark the sesquicentennial of our Confederation, we as Canadians should stop to reflect upon how fortunate we are. In an era of unprecedented global wealth and opportunity, there is simply no better place to live.
While it may be tempting to congratulate ourselves for this blessed state of affairs, our gratitude should instead go to those who came before us and built so much of what we have. It starts with acknowledging the leadership and wisdom of Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Etienne Cartier and their colleagues. Coming together in a time of great danger, they constructed a system that would allow British, French, Aboriginal and Immigrant to unite, while preserving their unique institutions, languages, cultures and faiths. That achievement is, despite the youthfulness of our country, one of the most enduring models of democratic governance in the world today.
Generations of men and women have since added their own stories to the annals of our history. Through wise decisions, hard work and sacrifice, they built our economy, developed our society and enhanced our liberty. Consecrating those triumphs are the tens of thousands of Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in distant lands, fighting to ensure that the great evils of the past 150 years did not come to our shores.
A full appreciation of all we have been given should also lead us to embrace our own responsibilities to those who follow. Are we also ready to take the hard decisions rather than the easy paths? Are we prepared to dedicate ourselves to great causes in the face of grave challenges? Are we willing to make sacrifices in our own time so that our descendants will continue to enjoy our freedoms in theirs?
If our answers to these questions are yes, and our actions bear out those convictions, then we can be assured that, in another 150 years, Canada will be even stronger and better than it is today.
God bless Canada,
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
22nd Prime Minister of Canada
By The Canadian Press

Friday, 23 June 2017

British Columbia Speech from the Throne June 22, 2017


Speech by the Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC
Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia    June 22, 2017

IN MEMORIUM

Fellow British Columbians, and members of the legislature, let us start by acknowledging the honour we share, gathering within the traditional Lekwungen territory of Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations.

Members, we begin by honouring the best among us, some of the British Columbians who shaped our identity, represented us at our best, and made us proud.

In their own way, Jett Bassi, Beau Dick, Chandra Bodalia, Neil Macrae, Bob Robertson, John Shields, Ian Stewart, Richard Wagamese, and Bill Wong each represented and reflected their communities – and the diversity that makes us the envy of the world.

We remember Christine Archibald who was brutally taken from her family in the attacks on London Bridge, by people fueled with hate, but who are destined to fail in spreading their evil.

I also pay tribute to Clayton Cassidy, who tragically lost his life protecting his neighbours and the town he loved.

And recently we lost a true trailblazer in Grace McCarthy. Tough, compassionate, principled, and unflinching in the face of change – we will miss her experience and wisdom.



REFORMING OUR INSTITUTIONS

British Columbia is a place like no other. Everyone who was born here or has come here knows that this place is special, and absolutely unique.

However, there are a few ways in which we could be more like others in this country.

On the issue of political and democratic reform, your government acknowledges more should have been done sooner, and more needs to be done now.

Your government will pursue comprehensive reforms that will:

Ban corporate, union, and third-party donations, including donations in kind, to political parties;

Impose a maximum donation limit for individuals to political parties, comparable to other Canadian jurisdictions;

Ban donations to political parties from outside British Columbia, including foreign donations;

Ban funding to a provincial political party from a federal political party;

Restrict the role of money influencing elections through third parties;

Ban loans to parties by any organization other than a Canadian chartered bank or credit union; and

Apply these reforms to local government candidates and political parties.

The results that British Columbians delivered in the May election require cooperation. Your government is committed to working with all parties in the legislature.

Following referenda in 2005 and 2009, there remains a desire by many members in this place to revisit electoral reform.

With the confidence of this house, your government will enable a third referendum on electoral reform. It will require extensive public consultation to develop a clear question, and will ensure rural representation in the legislature is protected.

It is vital that any referendum reflects the views of British Columbians, not just its political parties.

Additionally, your government will work with other parties to strengthen lobbyist legislation and regulations.



LEADERSHIP AND OPPORTUNITY

Members, we gather for the first time since British Columbians sent you here following an unprecedented outcome in the May election.

British Columbians want a stable government, and in sending us this result they expect us to listen and find a way to work together. They expect us to collaborate, while respecting the dignity, rules, and traditions that govern our constitutional monarchy, our democracy, and this legislature.

British Columbians voted for parties that spoke to the importance of economic growth and jobs, strengthening our social programs, and protecting our environment. They have told us to find a better balance to move forward on all these priorities.

The election result also exposed a growing gap in understanding between rural and urban B.C. We have an obligation to do everything we can to bridge that gap, because urban and rural communities cannot succeed without one another.

With that in mind, instead of focusing on areas of disagreement, we should reflect on who it is that we are, and what we share in common.

We are fortunate to reside in a part of the world that is unmatched in many ways. We have:

Canada’s most diverse population of First Nations and Indigenous peoples, whose cultures have shaped our province, and with whom we seek justice, reconciliation, and partnerships in economic growth;

An abundance of natural resources, the bedrock of British Columbia’s economic success;

A system of clean, transformational power that is the envy of the world, created by previous generations, with the opportunity to transform our economy into the cleanest in the world;

A super, natural, and biodiverse environment, that we enjoy today and must protect for future generations;

A diverse population that is open-minded, independent, and prepared to embrace change;

A place where we have the freedom to be ourselves;

Thriving urban communities, and strong rural communities that connect us to our land and wildlife;

A province built on hard work, leading in jobs and economic growth, and with a financial foundation that is the envy of North America.

Your government worked diligently to create jobs and economic growth in the province. And thanks to that effort, your government will confirm a higher than expected surplus at Public Accounts in July.

This unanticipated surplus provides reason to consider moving our fixed election date to the fall, to ensure British Columbians are fully informed of our province’s fiscal position before a General Election.

While other provinces have created structural deficits, B.C.’s unmatched record of five successive balanced budgets has created a structural surplus that puts us in an enviable position.

This moves up the anticipated elimination of our operating debt to 2020, one year ahead of schedule – an accomplishment not achieved since 1976.

Growing surpluses allow us to return dividends to British Columbians, but our sound fiscal management must be nurtured and not taken for granted.

Your government recognizes the importance of labour stability in the province and will continue to share the dividends of economic growth in public sector labour agreements.  Over the past decade, most labour issues have ended without disruption. This is a sign that the Labour Code is fair and, as such, no further changes are contemplated by your government.

We reside on what was once considered the far edge of North America, and today we are quickly becoming a central focus for the world. With that comes vast opportunity, and pressure on our legislature to deliver a bright future for all, not just for those who already enjoy advantages.

The stresses from our growth are unprecedented. We must be unafraid to grasp change and harness growth through purposeful decisions. If we do not shape growth, it will shape us.

Members, your government presides in this chamber as the party with the most seats, but not a working majority. It has a duty to present an agenda for consideration and seek the confidence of this House.

Your government has listened and is presenting an agenda not exclusive to one party, but one that includes ideas from all British Columbians that members from all three parties carry into this place.

With the confidence of this House, your government will pursue an agenda that seeks the balance British Columbians have told us to find between economic, social, and environmental priorities.



CHILDCARE AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Your government has listened to the call of families and employers to move further on childcare and early childhood education.

The financial pressures and time crunch on families today are real and increasing. Parents want and need to work and childcare is fundamental to that goal.

New investments cannot wait – they need to be made now.

With the confidence of this House, your government will amend the 2017 Budget to make a billion-dollar investment in childcare and early childhood education over the next four years – the single largest boost in B.C. history.

Your government’s plan is guided by three core principles – delivering the highest quality care, reducing waitlists by creating more spaces, and making childcare more affordable.

This investment will be sustained over the long term, and will enable:

building 60,000 new child care spaces – a 50 per cent increase over the next four years;

covering an additional 150,000 children, a five-fold increase, with either full or partial childcare subsidies;

funding up to 4,000 new early childhood educators with $10 million in grants and bursaries;

exploring partnerships with school districts to co-locate new child care spaces at elementary schools.

While your government applauds the federal government’s efforts to expand spaces, it will seek further help to increase supports for parents to make childcare even more affordable.

Your government welcomes discussion with members of this legislature and families to ensure this billion-dollar investment meets the needs of British Columbians in all corners of the province.

However, your government recognizes these investments are urgently needed, and will move on this as quickly as possible.



FAIRER, HEALTHIER SOCIETY

As our province grows, so does the need for more services. And as British Columbians create new jobs and economic growth, we must share that success by shaping a future that improves services for those in need.

Vulnerable Citizens

Child poverty has been reduced by 50 per cent since 2001, but more needs to be done.

A new Poverty Reduction Strategy, with a particular focus on children, will be implemented province-wide.

In addition to disability rate increases provided for in previous budgets, Budget 2017 will be amended to increase social assistance rates by $100 per month, with a process to recommend future annual increases.

We must also strengthen investments in people who want to transition from social assistance into the workforce.

Your government will expand the Single Parent Employment Initiative to broaden supports for single parents who can only find part-time work, or who are under-employed, and want to find full time employment.

Reducing poverty includes supporting children in care. Your government will introduce a basic income support for youth aged 18 to 24 who are transitioning out of care, and will provide free post-secondary tuition for all children in care.

Your government will also fully implement the recommendations in the Report on Indigenous Child Welfare from Special Advisor Grand Chief Ed John. In particular, your government will focus on:

increasing early intervention and prevention services to keep families together;

creating a more equitable funding formula for child welfare; and

reunification and permanency planning.

Your government will increase legal aid funding by 25 per cent, ensuring British Columbia families can better access and navigate our legal system.

Mental Health and Addictions

The opioid crisis is devastating families. British Columbia is leading North America in our response. However, despite the heroic efforts of first responders and policy makers at all levels of government, this battle continues.

Your government will redouble its efforts by increasing investments and embracing innovative treatments to save lives. Recovery from addiction is possible, and a coordinated system of care can help those ready to start their life-saving journey.

Harm reduction services and recovery oriented systems of care must work seamlessly together. Your government will continue to provide opioid substitute therapies and recovery services, and renew efforts on drug education and prevention.

The federal government must also strengthen its commitment to this crisis, starting with increasing the number of RCMP officers dedicated to drug enforcement by 30 per cent. Those who are trafficking fentanyl and other illicit drugs must be held accountable for their actions.

With the federal government’s legalization of cannabis comes new revenue for the province. Your government commits to dedicating every dollar from the sale of cannabis to drug education, prevention, enforcement and treatment for those who are addicted to opioids and other drugs.

To ensure these initiatives are coordinated, a Minister of State for Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery will be appointed to be a strong voice at the cabinet table, with a mandate to increase investments in future budgets and establish a single point of entry for those seeking help.

In addition, an Expert Panel on Mental Health will review how services are currently deployed and recommend ways to close gaps in service delivery that sometimes make it difficult to access care.

Your government will expand the successful province-wide Foundry program – a single point of entry for young people who are experiencing mental health issues.

We know that mental health issues are often identified at school when there are experts available to recognize them. Your government will ensure all schools across the province have one person trained to identify mental health issues and refer those in need to resources.

Finally, a new Centre for Mental Health and Addictions in Surrey will be fast-tracked to get it up and running as quickly as possible, to provide better access to care for B.C. families.

This will be part of an overall health strategy for Surrey, including the planning for a new hospital.

Health Care

British Columbians are the healthiest people in Canada. In the last decade, new and expanded hospitals have been built or are under construction in every region of our province to serve growing communities.

Your government heard more needs to be done, and will accelerate efforts to keep up with the fast pace of growth and replace aging infrastructure in all regions of the province.

Work is already underway to shift our health care system towards greater preventative care, but this work must be accelerated to keep our population the healthiest in Canada. More money will be specifically focused on reducing waitlists for patients and their families.

Your government will:

accelerate access to hip and knee procedures;

establish wait-time guarantees;

speed up access to MRI services;

increase access to family doctors by training 112 more General Practitioners, bringing the total to 400;

increase the scope of practice for professions such as nurse practitioners and pharmacists; and

increase support for health care teams delivering comprehensive services for patients.

Seniors

Our health care system is particularly important for our senior citizens – those who cared for us, and are counting on us to care for them.

Your government is committed to increasing the number of residential care beds by 500, and ensuring clear, measurable daily care hour standards are in place, monitored, and enforced in every institution.

Your government will also increase its efforts to help families who care for their aging loved ones at home by doubling the Home Renovation Tax Credit to help people make necessary home improvements. It will also create a new Respite Tax Credit, and ensure both benefits apply to families who care for loved ones with disabilities.

Medical Services Plan

With a stronger provincial balance sheet, the time has come to reduce the cost of MSP for B.C. families without shifting the burden into income taxes. This must be done while continuing to increase overall healthcare funding.

With the confidence of the house, your government will cut MSP premiums by 50 per cent for households making up to $120,000 – saving families as much as $900 per year.

All parties in this House share the view that MSP should be eliminated. Your government supports a review that considers how this can be done as soon as possible.

Education

Last year, the BC Teachers Federation won their court challenge at the Supreme Court of Canada. Together with teachers, your government is determined to ensure their win will be a win for every student.

Our students are already among the top in the world – first in reading, second in science, and sixth in math. The thousands of new teachers being hired across the province will ensure B.C. students will be even more successful.

We must also ensure student success is not limited to those who fit more easily into traditional classrooms. Your government will increase the number of educators providing instruction to students in need of extra support, whatever their unique needs.

Our students’ results prove that we have an excellent educational system – a tribute to those who work within it. But with the breathtaking pace of change in the world, our education system must adapt.

With the confidence of this house, your government will review the funding formula for school districts. The review will focus on supporting districts with declining enrollment, as well as ensuring fast-growing districts can keep up with growing demand sooner than current system allows.

Today, your government is announcing it will also convene a Royal Commission in Education – the first in 30 years. The work of that Commission, struck in 1987, laid the foundation for the success of our students today.

It is the right time to convene a new Royal Commission – one that shapes the future for a new generation of learners and educators as our society grows and changes.

How do we train teachers? What do we teach? How do we fund schools? How do we engage the community? How do we make sure testing and standards remain rigorous? How do we reduce conflict in the system and ensure student needs are always put first?

On these points, your government welcomes advice from a future Royal Commission.

Your government is continuing to make record investments in the new school construction and seismic upgrades. This will now include a commitment to ensure that all playgrounds requiring upgrades will be funded so parents no longer need to raise money for something we all recognize as essential for learning.

Accessibility

British Columbia is a leader in barrier-free living for our citizens. And your government will go further.

Your government will:

increase accessibility requirements on new construction and in the design of public spaces;

increase the minimum number of suites within a multi-unit residential building designed with basic accessibility features, ensuring these suites are distributed throughout the building and represent the types and sizes of suites otherwise available in the building.



COMMUNITIES AND TRANSIT

Transit

Transit is fundamental to shaping a sustainable, affordable future for communities. Your government heard more needs to be done, and more will.

With the confidence of this house, your government will:

match federal funding to build rapid transit along Metro Vancouver’s Broadway Corridor and in Surrey;

match federal funding for the next phase of the mayors’ transit plan; and

repeal the requirement for new transit revenue sources to be affirmed by referendum in Metro Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver mayors will have the tools and accountability they have asked for to fund transit.

Beyond those immediate commitments, we must look further and farther.

Your government will boost capital investment in partnership with other levels of government and the private sector to significantly expand a transit network that will transform the Lower Mainland.

Better transit must connect housing and employment, and must lead to more supply and density with purposeful decision-making.

Your government will immediately undertake feasibility studies to connect communities by rapid transit, light rail and other means of expanded transit:

east from the Evergreen Line toward Maple Ridge and Mission;

into South Surrey;

into Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack;

west to the University of British Columbia;

across to the North Shore; and

up to Squamish.

Your government will also work with Washington State to connect communities across the border to unleash the economic potential of high-speed rail to Seattle.

Other areas of the province also experiencing growth need transit support too – like the South Island, Nanaimo, Kelowna, Kamloops, and Prince George. Your government will pursue light rail on the South Island and a passenger ferry connection between Nanaimo and Vancouver.

This vision won’t happen overnight, but we must be bolder in mapping out our future to shape growth.

BC Ferries is finally on a solid financial footing. They have acquired 11 new vessels since 2000, are transitioning vessels to LNG from diesel, and on-time performance has improved to 91 per cent. Your government will carry through on its commitment to deliver fare relief for those in ferry-dependent communities.

And for British Columbians looking for other modern options to get from A to B, your government will deliver on its commitments to support car and ride sharing.

While all parties in this legislature publicly stated their support for ride sharing in the recent election, your government has heard the message that legitimate implementation concerns remain. Any proposed legislation will be referred to an all-party committee for extensive consultation with the public and stakeholders, in particular regarding boundaries and insurance.

Tolls

Your government has heard the concerns of people who are served by tolled provincial highway infrastructure. Since investments such as Trans-Canada Highway upgrades, the Sea to Sky Highway, the WR Bennett Bridge, and the Cariboo Connector are not tolled, all communities should be treated equitably.

With the confidence of this house, your government will move to eliminate tolls on the Port Mann Bridge as quickly as possible.

Your government will also work with TransLink to accelerate the timetable for the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, and to remove tolls on the Golden Ears Bridge.

An expanded crossing between Richmond and Delta is essential to reducing congestion, ensuring safety, and providing for future light rail. Recognizing concerns about the design, your government will listen and work collaboratively to move this project forward.

These changes are affordable with the province’s strong fiscal position, without compromising our commitment to balanced budgets.

Post-secondary, ABE and ESL

Post-secondary institutions are essential to powering up the economy of the future.

Your government will create 2,000 more graduates in science, technology, engineering and math from institutions across the province. This will include new engineering schools in Kamloops and Prince George, as well as 100 new graduates at the new engineering building at SFU Surrey.

These spaces will support our students to develop the skills our economy needs to continue to grow.

British Columbia’s post-secondary and creative sectors are responding to the major shifts in digital technologies. Your government will double funding for the BC Arts Council to build capacity to lead in the new economy, and uphold our province’s commitment to the value of creativity and innovation.

And as we welcome people from around the world to make B.C. their home, we need to ensure newcomers can put their ideas, energy, and skills to work.

To that end, your government will fully fund adult basic education and ESL programs, and continue to expand the system of credit recognition so that fewer are left on the sidelines.

Housing Affordability

And while B.C. continues to grow, the benefits also come with real challenges – especially for affordability.

Despite actions that have had a real impact, housing affordability remains a particular challenge for far too many people.

Your government’s singular goal is to ensure housing is affordable for British Columbians.

We all want to live in communities that are culturally and economically diverse, so we must ensure the middle class is not pushed out of urban real estate markets. Our kids want to be able to live in the communities they grew up in, and we all want to live in communities where our kids can live too.

Last year, your government invested $900 million into building new affordable supportive housing across the province. People will begin to move into these 5,000 new units over the coming months.

The single most important action governments can take to make housing more affordable is to work with local governments and the private sector to increase supply.

With the confidence of this House, your government will work with local governments and the private sector to increase the supply of family and starter housing for middle income earners, especially along new transit lines and corridors.

Your government will work with the private sector to build 50,000 units of new housing across the province over 10 years that will go into a new Rent-to-Own home program available to middle class families. The program will help middle class renters grow equity through their monthly rent payments until they are in a position to own the home.

With the confidence of this House, your government will work with and support municipalities to remove obstacles and eliminate backlogs to speed up the construction of new housing supply, especially for families.

To better protect renters, your government will:

prohibit landlords from skirting rent control protections when term leases expire; and

make sure tenants’ rights are protected while respecting a landlord’s ability to make improvements to their buildings.

Addressing housing affordability rests with all levels of governments. Your government will bring together and welcome the ideas from all parties and participants at a Housing Summit to be convened this fall. Real estate speculation will be one of the challenges put before participants.

Strong Communities

The wealth of our province has always depended on the understanding that the future of urban and rural communities is inextricably linked – one cannot succeed without the other.

And although most of our population lives in thriving urban centres, we must never forget that those who live in smaller communities make as big an impact on our province. Rural communities are uniquely connected to the land and our resources.

This connection between urban and rural is why B.C. has succeeded, and this election shows why we must redouble our efforts to bridge the divide.

With a strong economy and the strongest balance sheet in Canada, your government will double the Rural Economic Dividend, returning more resource revenue to the rural communities responsible for so much of our province’s wealth.

Supporting rural communities also means making sure the industries they depend on remain strong.

British Columbia’s forest industry built our province. Today, our forest products are building houses and towers around the world.

Your government will increase its efforts to promote the use of B.C. wood abroad, and will fight to defend B.C. workers in the forest industry from U.S. protectionism by every means at its disposal.

In the interim, B.C. will pre-purchase wood for construction of public housing at home.

Your government will work to open eight new mines by 2022, and will ensure it bolsters B.C.’s world leading responsible mining standards with $18 million to improve mine permitting, oversight, compliance, and enforcement.

Food security also matters in British Columbia – it is an issue that bridges the urban-rural divide. As we continue to grow, we need to protect and preserve agricultural land.

Your government will:

double the Grow Local program and make it permanent;

bring an additional 91,000 hectares of agricultural land into production by 2020;

activate an all-party select standing committee to study how B.C.’s agricultural land can be used and stewarded; and

ensure all high-quality farmland lost as a result of the Site C project is replaced with comparable land in other parts of the province.

Finally, British Columbia boasts some of the world’s richest and largest natural gas reserves. This gives us a unique opportunity to displace coal power and other dirtier forms of fossil fuels around the world.

A new LNG industry has included First Nations from the ground floor, through a bottom-up process of consultation. LNG will be an unprecedented opportunity for First Nation communities across British Columbia, helping lift families out of poverty and strengthening their ability to shape the future of their choosing.

The first Indigenous Cabinet minister elected to this place who carries a government portfolio is responsible for shepherding the future of this industry. After 146 years since this legislature was founded, this is long overdue. He will carry the voice of Indigenous peoples who demand to be a full partner in economic opportunity into this place.

Whether it is LNG, mining, forestry, aquaculture, renewable power, tourism or other industries where partnerships are being formed, and as a result, First Nations here in British Columbia are enjoying more benefits than ever before. Over 400 economic and reconciliation agreements have been signed since 2013, and we all still have so much potential to realize together.

Members. Just this past Monday, Indigenous leaders and mentors from across Canada, including British Columbia, were recognised with national honours at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, and I was delighted to be witness to that special ceremony.

Yesterday was National Aboriginal Day – a day that Canadians recognize and celebrate the outstanding contributions of Indigenous peoples.

It is a reminder of the hard and essential work of reconciliation that your government is committed to, nation-to-nation.

There is still much work ahead, and we must travel this journey together.

ENVIRONMENT AND INNOVATION

Clean Energy

British Columbians have been gifted with vast clean energy opportunities including hydro, wind, and solar.

We have an enviable system of hydro power built by generations before us who had the vision to plan not just for their needs, but for our future. Without them, we would be burning fossil fuels to generate our electricity today.

And now, we are called on as a generation to tackle climate change by shaping a low-carbon future.

We must build on a previous generation’s vision by electrifying our economy with clean hydro power to realize this goal. 61 per cent of B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions come from Metro Vancouver, a third of which comes from transportation.

Your government is committed to an ambitious emissions-free target for all new non-commercial vehicles registered in Metro Vancouver by 2035, advancing the previous goal of 2050 by 15 years.

This is an ambitious target, and BC Hydro’s supply of clean power cannot meet this capacity today.

That is why this historic transition requires plentiful, reliable and affordable clean electricity – born in British Columbia.

More sources of renewable energy like wind, solar, and geothermal will help. But they will not be enough.

Site C gives us the opportunity for an abundance of clean energy, allowing us to meet our obligation to transition our economy from carbon to fight climate change.

With the confidence of this house, your government will invest an additional $50 million over the next five years to fund a significant expansion of vehicle charging infrastructure throughout the province, making British Columbia number one in Canada.

Further, your government will also direct BC Hydro to immediately begin consultations with private sector clean energy producers, First Nations, and communities to support community power opportunities including wind, solar, and geothermal.

Your government will also work with the governments of Alberta and Canada for a strengthened clean electricity intertie between British Columbia and Alberta to displace thermal coal with clean hydro power across the Rocky Mountains. 

Climate Change, Carbon Tax and PST Reduction

British Columbia is a leader in the fight against climate change. Despite opposition at the time, we were the first jurisdiction in North America to put a price on carbon. Our carbon tax framework has been recognized by global institutions as one of the best in the world.

Canada has been clear in its desire to see all provinces implement a $50 per tonne carbon tax by 2022, outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Your government will meet this goal by raising the carbon tax by $5 per tonne per year starting in 2019, up to a total of $50 per tonne by 2022.

A made-in-B.C. approach will stand firm on the principle of revenue neutrality. For all future carbon tax increases, the provincial sales tax will be reduced by a corresponding amount.

Your government will take the advice of the climate leadership team to protect workers and businesses in energy intensive trade exposed industries by ensuring new costs from the carbon tax are offset by other taxes, so companies with strong ties to B.C. have good reasons to innovate and reduce their emissions.

Your government will also increase forest salvage and move toward the goal of banning slash burning, ensuring this creates new economic opportunities in our forest towns without hurting workers.

Strengthened Environmental Protection and Wildlife Management

Your government has heard the call for more frontline resources to protect our environment and wildlife, and will:

increase funding to hire more conservation officers across B.C.; and

implement a wildlife management plan that ensures sustainable populations and protects our biodiversity.

In addition, your government will move to protect the health and safety of B.C.’s unique environment by reviewing our system of professional reliance to ensure public confidence is maintained.

Your government will also ensure that direct payments it secured from the federally regulated Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project are dedicated to environmental protection and restoration.

Enhancing BC Parks

Visiting our provincial parks is the quintessential, affordable, B.C. family vacation.

British Columbia has assembled the third-largest parks system in North America. These are places for us to celebrate, places for families to reconnect, and places for the world to discover.

Your government created and funded a bold BC Parks Future vision. With the confidence of this House, your government will add $50 million over five years to B.C.’s parks budget. This will create more campsites, raise the standard of our park facilities, and create a youth rangers program that will add staff in our parks between May and September.

We are blessed to have such magnificent places to preserve and share that unite all British Columbians wherever they live.



CLOSING

Members. Your government’s core principles remain. Our province has:

created more jobs than anywhere in Canada since the start of the BC Jobs Plan;

a record of five consecutive balanced budgets thanks to careful management;

a growing economy that is the envy of Canada;

These are foundations built by the hard work of British Columbians that allow us to care for each other and bridge the urban-rural divide.

With the means to do more thanks to B.C.’s success, we must and we will.

British Columbians seek a better balance between economic, social, and environmental priorities. This agenda is a sincere effort to meet that desire.

While we do not always agree on the best path forward, we all recognize that British Columbia is a unique place with qualities unmatched around the world.

We are experiencing a time of stress from growth and change. Change that will shape us if we do not act to shape it for ourselves.

Together, we must ensure we harness the opportunity before us to create the future we all want for British Columbia.

The May election delivered a divided result. Your government has listened to that result and brings forward this agenda to gain this House’s confidence and, in doing so, the confidence of the people of British Columbia.

It is submitted with humility and openness to change.

Thank you to all members who serve in this assembly. We thank you, and your families, for the sacrifices you make – some of you for many years.

We in British Columbia are richer for your service and dedication. I wish you all success.