The BC NDP were reluctant to populate the Select Standing Committees that are a requirement in the Standing Orders of the legislative assembly.
Committees are a critical component of building consensus across partisan lines and to include the public in our work in the legislature.
It is not appropriate for the BC NDP government to overlook the important and collaborative work done in committees. We need Premier John Horgan to mandate and activate these committees.
I appreciate the opportunity to rise and speak to this motion.
I think that it’s important to acknowledge that what we’re doing here today is actually standing and asking for the government to use the tools of this House that it should be required to use, frankly. These are tools that are used by healthy democracies right across the country.
In fact, British Columbia remains an outlier in our use of these tools. I think that it’s important, the committees…. As my colleagues the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Third Party have mentioned, this is a place where we can grow consensus. This is a place that we can invite the public into their House to inform the debates that happen here, to inform public policy. In a House that’s functioning properly, those are functions that we, as democratically elected representatives, would invite.
It’s not that we would have to disrupt the regular and normal flow of this, where you could see the frustration and even, in some cases, the anger on the faces of people when you stand up to debate a motion that’s a debatable motion. This is a function of this House. There should be no offence taken to that. You shouldn’t be red in the face by it. When that occurs, what it shows and what it demonstrates is that there is a basic lack of respect for the actual tools that we have as legislators, granted to us by the people who elected us here to engage in it.
This morning I showed up here at 8 a.m. because we had the committee for the reform of the Police Act. My friend from Nanaimo–North Cowichan has been the Chair of that committee over a number of sessions now, and we have had an extremely productive discussion. Now I look to the membership of the committees that are being put in front of us today, and I hope for them, for the members of those committees, the same experience that we have felt, I think, collectively sitting around the table, growing consensus on a very important topic that British Columbians have brought before us.
When we look at the select standing committees — the memberships that are being put on paper today for the committees that we are now discussing — I think what we can see is the value of the members that have been put on those lists, to be able to provide very important matters of debate. This province requires consensus in this House, in order for us to ensure that what we don’t have is policy lurch but where we have consistency from one government to another — that the policy has been informed by the public and that we can undertake the business.
I look at the Rental Housing Task Force, which I’ve been a part of. The government stands up regularly in question period and touts the multiple-point plan that was drafted by myself and my colleagues, the Deputy Speaker and the member for Courtenay-Comox. We did that work together. We drove across Surrey together and had conversations about the good work that that committee did. Informed by the public and informed by the people, it’s regularly celebrated in here.
I look forward to that for the Aboriginal Affairs Committee. I’ve also heard the Minister of Indigenous Relations, and many members here, state very clearly that the decision that was made by this House, unanimously, to pass the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act was a unanimous decision. We celebrate that; we elevate that point. I think what’s important is that we recognize that the work in reconciliation necessarily needs to be done through a consensus-based approach, through the committee work.
I support my colleagues, both the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Third Party, in celebrating the fact that there are names on the list that we are debating today. Now let’s activate those committees so that they can go and do the good work in building consensus on behalf of the people of British Columbia. HÍSW̱ḴE SIÁM. Thank you.