ÍY SȻÁĆEL (Good Day),
Welcome to my weekly update for week six of the 2023 Spring legislative sitting for March 27 – March 30, 2023.
This past week was the busiest I have had in the British Columbia legislature. With my colleague away from the House, it made for a hectic and fast-paced schedule from start to finish.
If you have been following this newsletter then you will have read several times since the beginning of the year my criticism of the governments management of the legislative calendar. There is either an intense drought or atmospheric river.
In the first few weeks of session, government Members were filibustering their own agenda because they offered so little of substance to debate. Now, they have opened three “Houses”, meaning there is debate happening in three places at once.
Not only is this challenging for MLAs as we navigate the timing of simultaneous bill and budget debates, it is challenging for the media to keep an eye on everything all at once, and it is nearly impossible for the public to follow.
This is the opposite of a well functioning democracy. Our government should be accessible. It should be easy for the public to follow, just as it is a problem when the government has nothing to discuss, it is a problem when they create a hectic and frantic pace.
I was only able to accomplish this level of engagement in our democratic process and have most of the content to share with you because of my incredible policy, communications and community office team. I am so grateful to them for preparing the information for me to be able to take my place in the debate.
Sharing this work in this newsletter is important to me and to you. Special thanks to Kayla for preparing and publishing the content on YouTube and my blog so I could keep my commitment of keeping the public informed.
This past week I asked four questions in Question Period. On Monday I asked about fossil fuel expansion and Cedar LNG, on Tuesday I asked about net-zero requirements and carbon offsets/credits, on Wednesday I asked about the Community-Industry Response Group (a controversial RCMP police unit), and on Thursday I asked about the expansion of fracking.
In addition, I spoke to several Bills and queried several Cabinet Ministers in budget estimates. I moved a private members’ bill amending the North-Island Coast Development Initiative Trust Amendment Act to allow for the recapitalization of the Island-Coastal Economic Trust. I spoke to Motion 29: Tsawwassen First Nation Treaty Agreement Amendment, and for my Statement I honoured the life of Denis Coupland.
If you find this newsletter informative, please share it with your friends and neighbours and invite them to sign up to receive my updates.
If you need advocacy from our office, have any questions or concerns, please provide your feedback at Adam.Olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca or 250-655-5600.
Adam Olsen, MLA
Saanich North and the Islands
March 27, 2023
Last week, the IPCC released a report delivering a final warning, stating rapid and drastic action are required to keep global warming below the threshold of irreversible damage. The week before, the BC NDP gave another LNG project the greenlight to move forward.
This government approved Cedar LNG, claiming the project is a part of their plan to “move forward as a clean energy leader”. Let’s be clear: there is no such thing as clean fossil fuels. A climate leader doesn’t approve oil & gas projects, they meet their climate targets.
The IPCC report states plainly that avoiding the worst-case scenario is only possible if we stop expanding existing or approving new coal, oil, and fracked gas. Today in Question Period, I asked why the BC NDP seem to believe they are exempt from this reality.
In her response, Minister Josie Osborne pointed to BC’s climate targets, which the BC NDP says it will meet through its award-winning CleanBC plan. It’s hard to understand how more fracked gas and LNG projects will fit within this plan.
The science is clear, expanding the fossil fuel industry and tackling climate change are fundamentally at odds. Yet, today’s response from the BC NDP only suggests more fracked gas, more LNG, and more missed climate targets.
Transcript – (2:15pm)
March 28, 2023
Today, I asked Premier Eby to provide British Columbians with his definition of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. He chose not to answer. Instead, Minister Heyman showcased a fundamental misunderstanding of what scientists have been saying for years.
When Premier Eby took his oath he said “we cannot continue to expand fossil fuel infrastructure and meet our climate goals.” Yet, that’s exactly what he did earlier this month when he approved Cedar LNG and announced an energy framework void of details.
In the BC NDP’s new energy framework, one of the four pillars is a net-zero requirement for all new fossil fuel projects. But as stated by the United Nations: “Net zero is entirely incompatible with continued investment in fossil fuels.”
Minister Heyman suggested our province can reach net-zero through a variety of measures including the use of carbon credits, but reports have found that corporate and government-run carbon offset programs are unreliable and repeatedly overcount actual emissions reductions.
Any plan to achieve net-zero that includes LNG growth is a display of cognitive dissonance. The BC NDP appears prepared to use faulty carbon credit programs to justify oil and gas expansion, instead of funding the transition to renewable energy that we know is needed & possible.
Transcript – (10:45am)
March 29, 2023
The Community Industry Response Group (C-IRG) is an RCMP unit that’s been accused of unlawful use of force, arrests, detentions, & assaults. They are facing several lawsuits and an internal investigation for misconduct. And still the BC NDP is allocating them $36M.
C-IRG was created in 2017 to support the construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion projects in the face of broad public opposition and Indigenous assertions of jurisdiction.
Since then C-IRG has been used by industry as a personal paramilitary force to push forward resource extraction projects and clamp down on massive public backlash as they flout our laws and environmental regulations.
The RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission announced two weeks ago they are conducting a “systematic investigation” of C-IRG. A national coalition is calling for the suspension of C-IRG operations while the CRCC investigates.
The CRCC reviews can take years to complete. The extent of the human rights abuses and violations of Indigenous rights committed by the C-IRG has not yet fully come to light. It is irresponsible to have this unit continue operations during that time.
It’s why I asked Minister Mike Farnworth if they are going to move forward with allocating C-IRG $36 million dollars and how they can justify doing so instead of ordering the unit to stand down until investigations are complete.
Minister Mike Farnworth chose to not even acknowledge that C-IRG is under investigation for human rights abuses and violations of Indigenous rights. As we spoke this unit was rolling against Indigenous land defenders in their own territory.
The BC NDP seem to have no issue with industry using our police forces as a private security force and footing British Columbians with the bill. Until a full investigation is complete the RCMP’s Community Industry Response Group should be forced to stand down.
Transcript – (2:25pm)
March 30, 2023
The Montney Play in northeast BC is Canada’s largest potential source of greenhouse gas emissions and the sixth largest in the world. By approving new LNG projects in this area, the BC NDP has locked BC into the fossil fuel economy for decades.
While industry propaganda promotes LNG as clean energy, we can’t escape reality. Fracking for LNG production emits large amounts of methane – a greenhouse gas which is toxic, explosive and 85x more potent than carbon dioxide.
While the government has said it will work with industry to reduce methane emissions from LNG, these fugitive emissions are notoriously hard to detect and eliminate. It is clear that the best way to deal with emissions is to not create them in the first place.
Fracking for LNG is also water intensive — it causes earthquakes, poisons groundwater and is linked to rare cancers and other serious health problems. This harmful industry didn’t exist in our province until the BC NDP created and subsidized it.
Today I asked when the gov’t will stop expanding fossil fuels & end fracking in BC. In his response, Minister George Heyman showed his chops to be an industry lobbyist, claiming LNG is “clean”, while citing vague plans & praising the climate targets we’re on track to miss.
A new poll shows that British Columbians overwhelmingly prefer renewable energy over LNG. This government has a choice – think long term and pivot towards clean energy opportunities, or further lock BC into the fossil fuel economy.
Transcript – (10:50pm)
March 30, 2023
In Members’ Statements I offered a few words to mark the passing of my friend, community advocate, and environmental activist Denis Coupland who passed away on February 18, 2023.
Transcript – (10:35am)
March 27, 2023
Last Monday, I stood up in the Legislature to provide my perspective on Motion 29, which would amend the Tsawwassen First Nation’s treaty to allow them to benefit from tax exemptions.
This was an important step forward for the Tsawwassen First Nation in exercising their right to self-determination, and I was thrilled to see former Chief Kim Baird join us in the House.
The behaviour of the other elected members during this occasion, in which invited Indigenous guests were present, was horrendous. I was deeply embarrassed by their inappropriate use of debate, and the decision of some to leave before the motion had passed.
This was not acceptable. We must do better.
Transcript – (5:55am)
YouTube (Hansard video)
March 27, 2023
2nd reading of Bill 14, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act
Yesterday, my colleagues and I debated Bill 14, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, which removes outdated, gendered language from more than 200 pieces of legislation.
For far too long, our province’s laws have been written, debated, and passed without the diversity of British Columbians in mind. This Bill makes necessary updates to our legislation, bringing us into the 21st century by ensuring our language is inclusive and gender affirming.
With a staggering 1200 clauses, this Bill would’ve been a massive undertaking for those overseeing its creation. I want to thank the members of the public service who dedicated themselves to this project. Your work has allowed us to take an important step forward in celebrating and respecting gender diversity!
Transcript – (3:10pm)
March 27, 2023
2nd reading of Bill 11, the Election Amendment Act
This week, I rose to speak about Bill 11, the Elections Amendment Act. This Bill provides necessary updates to our electoral legislation, bringing our laws in closer alignment with how modern elections operate.
Bill 11 will ensure protections against deliberate disinformation, broader recognition of the use of online communications for election advertising, a straightforward, accessible procedure for voting by mail, the assessment of third-party advertisers against independence criteria, and a more efficient final vote count process.
I was pleased to speak in favour of these amendments and believe they’ll have a sincere, positive impact on our electoral process — except for one.
In a move towards leader-style politics, this Bill gives people the ability to write the name of a party leader on their ballot, regardless of whether the leader is running in their community. While I acknowledge that this change stems from the exceptional circumstances of the 2020 snap election, I find it quite concerning.
During that election, the BC NDP placed Premier John Horgan’s signs all over my riding, promoting a candidate who wasn’t running in our community. Amidst the chaos of that election, people were legitimately confused and our campaign received numerous questions about whether the Premier had decided to run in Saanich North and the Islands.
Leaders of large political parties are recognizable and known by many. While I advocate for making our electoral processes easier for people to understand and participate in, I fear this change will only consolidate the power of existing political parties in the Legislature.
Amongst all the other beneficial changes this Bill makes, I believe this one requires us to pause and reflect on the kind of democracy we aspire towards.
Transcript – (3:30pm)
March 27, 2023
2nd reading of Bill 13, the Pay Transparency Act
Last Tuesday, I spoke to Bill 13, the Pay Transparency Act. While this Bill makes moderate steps forward, pay transparency alone does little to change the discrimination women and other marginalized people face at work. What we need in BC is pay equity.
The cost of not addressing pay inequity is borne by women. They continue to bear the burden of this government’s inaction. In the 1980s and 1990s, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and Quebec all enacted pay equity legislation, imposing proactive obligations on employers to take steps to identify and eliminate wage discrimination.
The BC NDP could have chosen to bring in pay equity legislation. They could have chosen to act on the systemic sexism and racism built into our province. Instead, they chose half measures. Unfortunately, Bill 13 is a half measure.
Every day this province delays is a day that women and gender-diverse people, especially racialized women, are forced to navigate the world with fewer resources and more challenges.
Transcript – (1:50pm)
March 27, 2023
2nd Reading of Bill 10, the Budget Measures Implementation Act
In Budget 2023, the BC NDP announced a new output-based pricing system (OBPS) for large industrial emitters, which would exempt those who pollute the most from paying the carbon tax up-front.
After surpassing a to-be-determined emissions threshold, industrial facilities would be forced to pay a fixed rate on their emissions, or purchase authorized carbon offsets.
Bill 10 legislates these changes to our industrial emissions framework by creating a skeleton for a new made-in-BC OBPS.
Ultimately, the merit of this new system will rely on its ability to incentivize emissions reductions through stringent emissions thresholds, regular updates to the OBPS rates and the validation processes that hold emitters to account.
It appears all of these details will be revealed in regulations made by the BC NDP without the input of the Legislative Assembly, and without the ability for debate.
Transcript – (4:45pm)
March 27, 2023
Committee Stage Bill 15, the Vital Statistics Amendment Act
This week, I spoke to Bill 15, the Vital Statistics Amendment Act.
Bill 15 will remove the requirement for sex to be on a birth certificate and allow people over 12 to receive care without needing confirmation from a psychologist or a doctor.
While there is more work to be done, these are important steps forward that will bring us closer to a truly inclusive society that recognizes and respects gender diversity.
Transcript – (11:10am)
Additional March 27 – 30, 2023
2nd reading of Bill 12, the Intimate Images Protection Act
● Transcript – (5:20pm)
● YouTube (Hansard video)
Bill 17, Family Law Amendment Act, which would amend how pets and pensions are handled during divorce proceedings. The bill was referred to committee.
Bill 19, Money Services Businesses Act, which would make the BC Financial Services Authority the regulator for money services businesses, armed with investigation and enforcement powers. The legislation would also impose background checks and reporting requirements.
Bill 20, Business Corporations Amendment Act, which would create a beneficial ownership registry for private businesses in B.C. — similar to the one set up for real estate holdings, as recommended by the Cullen Commission.
Bill 21, Civil Forfeiture Amendment Act, which would introduce unexplained wealth orders, streamline vehicle forfeiture, target illegal cannabis operations, and eliminate the limitation period for investigated properties.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BILLS
I introduced private member’s Bill M218, North-Island Coast Development Initiative Trust Amendment Act. If passed, it would get rid of the $60-million cap on funding for development trusts, and allow the government to provide the North-Island Coast Development Initiative Trust the $150 million it needs to keep operating.
Liberal MLA Jordan Sturdy (West Vancouver – Sea to Sky) introduced private member’s Bill M216, British Columbia Transit Amendment Act, for the third time. If passed, it would allow members of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations to sit on the Sea to Sky Transit Commission.
Liberal MLA Tom Shypitka (Kootenay East) introduced private member’s Bill M217, Wildlife Amendment Act, for the second time. If passed, it would create an independent funding model for wildlife and habitat management with fees from hunting and land use going toward conservation.
Liberal MLA Peter Milobar (Kamloops – North Thompson) introduced private member’s Bill M219, Miscellaneous Statutes (Gas Price Relief) Amendment Act. If passed, it would provide temporary relief from two provincewide motor fuel taxes in instances when prices are high.
March 27 – 30, 2023
Ministry of Citizen Services
● Transcript (3:55 p.m.)
Ministry of Children and Family Development
● Transcript (3:35 p.m.)
Ministry of Education and Child Care
● Transcript (4:50 p.m.)
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
● Transcript (6:10 p.m.)
Ministry of Education and Child Care
● Transcript (3:10 p.m.)
Ministry of Forests
● Transcript (2:40 p.m.)
IN THE NEWS
CBC Political Panel
Listen in every Monday morning, 7:30 I’m on the CBC Political Panel on The Early Edition with Stephen Quinn | Live Radio | CBC Listen
CBC BC Today – Panel with BC Liberal MLA Eleanor Sturko about policing, mental health, and public safety.
Will B.C.’s shift to clean transportation take rural communities along for the ride? – National Observer (MLA Furstenau)
Lack of public transportation in rural areas a concern for B.C. coalition – VI CTV News (MLA Furstenau)
Island MLA says Washington ferry halt not a warning sign for smaller BC Ferries routes – Black Press provincewide
Chek News, 5:10 pm
Three rural B.C. economic development trust funds get $10M injections – Saanich News/Black Press
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to B.C.’s housing crisis – PG Post (MLA Furstenau)
● Tweeted about Trans Day of Visibility
● Tweeted about the Doctrine of Discovery
● Tweeted about ICET receiving $10 million
● Tweeted about the Doulas for Aboriginal Families Grant Program
● Posted a video about Cedar LNG and economic reconciliation
● Posted a video about the IPCC report and LNG
● Posted a video about ICET
● Posted a video about Cedar LNG
● MLA Sonia Furstenau posted a video about Community Health Centres
● MLA Sonia Furstenau posted a video about NDAs
Contact my Community Office. We are here to advocate on behalf of residents of Saanich North and the Islands.
If you need advocacy or you have a question, concern, suggestion or idea, please do not hesitate to contact me at Adam.Olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca or 250-655-5600.
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