BC Politics with Hubert Beyer

Archives of British Columbia's most well read Political Columnist

 

 

 

Hubert Beyer, Biography

Hubert Beyer was widely known as one of Canada's most read journalists. His columns were published regularly in most BC Community Newspapers, and his perspective sought on the Federal level as well as by NORAD in the US, Beyer lived up to his reputation as the "Fairest of them All."

Born in a small village in West Germany, Beyer immigrated to Canada in his 20s where he married and had 4 children.

A German Language publication in Winnipeg was Beyer's first foray into writing in Canada, it was soon followed with work at the Winnipeg Free Press as a Reporter covering many different beats. more

Top Search: Forestry

Find out what Beyer had to say about Forestry in BC through the years. With the forestry industry supporting a large segment of employment and opportunity in British Columbia, it's no surprise that it's a top search.

Top Search: Elections

Election are always a hot topicAnytime the faintest hint of a provincial or federal election announcement draws near, the search for quotes and history on past British Columbia elections starts to climb.

Top Search: Budget Release

When is the Budget not a hot searchProvincial Bugets are introduced with fanfare and fraught with talk from pundits, experts and critics. Take a few minutes to see how BC Budgets of the past were often projections of the future. 

ANOTHER MINISTRY GOES ON THE BLOCK

VICTORIA -- Energy Minister Jack Davis calls it a sort of privatization, but no matter which way you look at it, the government is getting rid of a ministry.

No, I'm not referring to the bridge and road maintenance of the Highways ministry. I'm talking about Premier's latest brainchild -- the privatization of the ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources. The latter two of the ministry's three functions are to be transferred to two boards which will funded jointly by the government and the mining industry.

The scheme was laid out before ministry employees last week by deputy energy minister Bob Plecas with the explicit warning not to talk to the media. But when you're up to your fanny in alligators, you tend to ignore warnings that the water might be polluted. Some of the employees couldn't get to a phone fast enough to spill the beans.

Here's the plan. Within the next six months, the government will establish a Petroleum Resources Board and a Mineral Development Board. The two boards will oversee and implement all policies now looked after by the ministry. Only the development of policy and the collection of revenue will remain in government hands.

Plecas told the 200 employees they would remain public servants, even though they would be working for the new boards. Their job security wouldn't be threatened.

The B.C. Government Employees Union is skeptical on that point. Union spokesman Mona Sykes says the crunch will come when the government cuts back on funding for the boards and when the boards will, in turn, cut back on staff and wages.
That suspicion is understandable, considering that the energy minister expects a savings of $15 million a year out of a current $25 million budget when the transfer is completed.

Ad that's about it. With the stroke of a pen and a solid majority in the legislature, the Socreds are about to wipe out half a ministry.

The most alarming part of the plan is the intention to place responsibility for the implementation of energy and mining policies into the hands of the industry. Talk about putting the goat in charge of the cabbage patch.

The boards will, for instance, be responsible for gathering all data that determine royalties; they will oversee safety regulations; they will be in charge of mine inspections.

Glen Clark, energy critic for the NDP, calls this latest privatization venture "insidious." He says the Socreds don't understand the difference between the public interest and the interests of the private sector. While the latter is driven by a desire to maximize profits, the public's interest is not only a fair return on the resources they own, but their protection, two aspects the industry couldn't care less about.

"The trend is clear. There is absolutely nothing in British Columbia that isn't for sale," Clark says.

If he's right, what's to stop the government from doing the same thing with the forest ministry? Actually, that process has already begun. By placing close to 70 per cent of the province's forests into Tree Farm Licences, the government will in effect turn over much of the forest ministry's responsibility to the private sector.

It's difficult to believe that Premier Vander Zalm doesn't realize how shifty the ground is on which he is building his and his party's political future. Mike Harcourt couldn't do a better job of making sure that the NDP will form the next government.

The premier has become the architect in charge of designing and the foreman in charge of building the NDP's election platform. And what a job he's doing.

His scheme to privatize the highways ministry's road and bridge maintenance alone is enough to lose him the next election. Alex Fraser, the old Socred war horse from the Cariboo, predicts that this move will cost the Socreds about 15 seats. The fact that 70 municipal councils have passed resolutions imploring the government not to sell off the highways ministry lends credence to Fraser's forecast.

The other big mistake was his decentralization scheme. When the public realizes that the plan is a mirror show at best and a subversion of the parliamentary system at worst, a few more Socred seats will go down the tube.

He also will get no thanks for his mischievous attack on confederation in last week's throne speech. He may not know it but most Canadians don't view confederation as an investment club.

The more Vander Zalm reveals of his agenda, the more he shows that he's not only out of touch with the people but with the system he's supposed to serve.

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