MLA Laurie Throness has released a 65-point list he’d like potential Liberal Party leadership candidates to consider. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Chilliwack MLA wants next B.C. Liberal leader to create mountain monument

Laurie Throness makes 65 suggestions to whoever wants to replace Christy Clark

Laurie Throness has announced he will not be running for leadership of the Liberal Party.

But he does have a few thoughts on what he’d like to see in a leader. On Tuesday, the MLA for Chilliwack-Kent published a 65-point list of ideals he would like to be considered by potential party leaders. In his release, sent out through his private email address and posted to his social media accounts, Throness suggested he would endorse those who agree with his vision for the Liberals.

His ideas include excluding the right to die from palliative care, teaching children “to accept and cherish their body shape and biological characteristics just as they are,” and increasing support for independent schools “to provide … greater competition for our public system.”

He said these 65 points are in addition to the party platform, and he feels a new leader “needs the space to refashion the policy agenda.”

“I’m not running for premier myself,” Throness wrote, “but I do want to have an impact on the leadership and the direction of the party. Beside the overall qualifications of good character, experience, intelligence, leadership style and other intangibles, I’m concerned about the Party’s future policy direction, first in terms of the good of all British Columbians, and second, in terms of party unity.”

The Liberals will vote for a new leader February 1-3, and candidates should be declaring their aspirations publicly. Throness says he is hoping to spur “a campaign of ideals.”

He broke his 65 points into several categories, including Public Sector, Economy, Crime and Addictions, Health Care, Environment, Education, Homelessness, Housing Affordability, Indigienous Peoples, Agriculture, Social Issues, Tourism, Transition to Low-carbon Economy, Transportation, and Other. (The full list is available below this story on theprogress.com.)

A few of the items are things that some Fraser Valley residents have been wanting for years, including a completed highway between Harrison and Pemberton, and widened highways (six lanes) through to Whatcom Road in Abbotsford. He also calls for a completed Site C dam, a bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel, twinning of the TransMountain pipeline, and to “stand up to the public sector unions in order to control the cost of government.”

There are also suggestions that are less conventional. Under Tourism, Throness suggests: “Shape a mountain to create a globally-significant sculpture funded by the sale of stone removed, and use some of it to build public structures across BC that will last for 500 years.”

Under Indigenous Peoples: “Offer incentives for Indigenous youth on reserve to engage in urban communities while retaining their identity, thus enabling them to receive more education, enter the workforce and enjoy all the benefits of BC’s economy.”

The one item under Housing Affordability suggests offering affordable housing in already low-cost areas, “rather than in the GVRD.”

He also suggests committing public offenders who are addicted to drugs under the Mental Health Act. The Progress spoke to Hamish Telford, a political science professor at UFV with an interest in constitutional rights. He said the suggestion of commiting offenders to drug treatment would likely lead to a Charter of Rights challenge. And while the current opioid epidemic could be argued as a “pressing and substantial problem” in the courts, there would be a series of tests to be passed before it could be enacted.

“Canada has a very sorry record on forcible detentions – residential schools, mentally disabled, forced sterilizations etc.,” he said. “We have come to deeply regret these kinds of measures, and I rather suspect the courts would not look favourably upon the measure proposed by Mr. Throness.”

There are seven points in the list focusing on health care improvements. The Progress sent that list to the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice for comment and recieved a reply from Dr. Ralph Jones. He underlined that he is only speaking for himself, not the division.

Jones said he appreciates innovative, 360 degree views of healthcare, and agrees the current system is “financially and socially unsustainable.”

He said some of Throness’s suggestions are “good starting points for conversations,” but that there needs to be wider input, lateral thinking and analysis. It’s not enough to study just the good points of other systems, he added, but to study those which need to be avoided.

One of the suggestions Throness lobbed out was to give notice to doctors who only bill MSP on a part-time basis that they would lose their billing number.

That is a suggestion that requires “a deeper dive,” Jones said.

“The proposed solution is a little simplistic,” he added, pointing out that 55 per cent of the graduating class are now women, and many choose part-time work during their child rearing years. The work they’re doing is essential to the health care system.

“Their part-time work is often particularly valuable in under-supported areas such as child and youth mental health, care of the mentally ill and socially disadvantaged,” Jones said. “What is needed in a community is a continuum of physician and nurse practitioner care, so that the entire spectrum of healthcare needs in the community can be met. The Division of Family Practice along with partners in the Health Authority and the Ministry are in the midst of this transformational change.”

The government should be looking to front line health care providers for the best knowledge of what is working, and what isn’t, he added.

“Progress in healthcare innovation in Canada has been described as a series of commissions and studies and little action,” he said. “Mine and others’ opinions are that such innovation is best developed at the service delivery level and then supported at higher levels of administration and leadership. Top-down directives often have unintentional consequences.”

65 policy ideas

Public Sector

1. Continue to balance the provincial budget, and pay down taxpayer-supported debt.

2. Complete the Site C dam.

3. Build a bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel.

4. Support and see the completion of the twinning of the TransMountain pipeline.

5. Stand up to public sector unions in order to control the cost of government.

6. Pursue other resource development opportunities in areas such as mining and agriculture.

7. Oppose proportional representation and MLAs designated by backroom Party officials, and support stable government with accountable, local MLAs.

Economy

1. Commission an expert study, to report within six months, on a phased reduction/abolition of the corporate tax, replacing that revenue with increased economic and job growth.

2. Commission an expert study, to report within six months, on ways to increase investment and productivity in BC’s economy, such as incentives to import equipment to automate production and alleviate future labour shortages.

3. Revisit the 2012 and 2016 reports on Business Tax Competitiveness, and take action in particular to address the administrative flaws of the PST.

4. Affirm the rule of law with regard to environmental assessment and review the assessment process to ensure both environmental protection and economic development.

5. Continue to pursue the promise of LNG by restructuring the business to compete directly with the U.S.

6. 93% of BC is crown land. Sell 1% of BC’s crown land (878,604 hectares) to British Columbians using a public process that ensures broadest-possible ownership and economic development. Use the proceeds to pay down provincial debt.

7. Find more industrial land in the Lower Mainland by negotiating arrangements with willing Indigenous peoples, and commit to transportation networks to access it.

8. Freeze the carbon tax for the foreseeable future, and preserve existing exceptions.

Crime and addictions

1. Hire at least one hundred new police officers to attack gangs and drug traffickers.

2. Legislate the goal of the Ministry of Health, and all provincial health authorities, to ‘cure addictions to drugs and alcohol’ rather than ‘helping addicts live positive lives.’

3. While continuing to save lives, emphasize and fund detox and long-term residential treatment programs (6-12 months, repeatable) leading to freedom from drugs/alcohol, rather than the long-term maintenance of habits at grave threat to human life and enormous public expense. Set a goal to treat 5,000 people at any one time.

4. Empower NGOs presently offering long-term treatment for addiction under the Assisted Living Act by providing more daily funding, creating a professional association to set standards, and following up with rigorous inspections to push out bad actors.

5. Under the Mental Health Act, commit prolific offenders addicted to drugs or alcohol to approved long-term recovery-based residential drug/alcohol treatment programs, where naltrexone can be administered daily to block cravings. Do the same for prolific offenders already in provincial custodial facilities.

Health care

1. Task a commission to examine the best health care systems in the world and make recommendations to emulate the best of the best – with everything on the table.

2. Pursue opportunities to contract out more health services to private entities at public expense, while increasing regulatory oversight and reporting requirements for them.

3. To reduce wait lists, develop regional centers of excellence that concentrate on specific procedures, like the Shouldice Hospital in Ontario, which only performs hernia operations.

4. Enact a Patient Guarantee through a website showing the availability of operating rooms. Allow doctors to book their patients for surgery anywhere in BC, help where needed with travel and accommodation costs, and reconcile accounts between health authorities annually.

5. Upon the allocation of a publicly-funded bed in a seniors residence, allow the senior to choose the institution, thus giving all institutions the incentive to compete for the senior’s choice through upgrades to living spaces and services.

6. To alleviate physician shortages, announce with several years’ prior notice that future billing numbers will be given only to doctors who wish to work full-time (in 2015/16, a third of 11,000 doctors’ MSP billings were less than half the average billing of $260K).

7. Keep MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) out of palliative care, as per World Health Organization policy.

Environment

1. BC’s climate is changing. We can’t stop that, so emphasize adaptation to climate change and pollution reduction in BC over attempts to change global climate.

2. Manage recreational motorized traffic in our back country more aggressively in order to limit environmental damage and minimize noise and disturbance for local residents.

3. Create a program to help volunteer groups who wish to clean up garbage on crown land.

4. Ensure the long-term viability of wildlife in BC by increasing conservation efforts, and the number of conservation officers to reduce poaching.

5. Focus on flood control by acting on Fraser Basin Council’s Lower Mainland Flood Management Strategy, ensuring that the Eastern Fraser Valley will not take the brunt of a future flood.

6. To help adapt to climate change, study desalination technologies using renewable energy sources, dispersing the brine over wide ocean areas.

Education

1. While continuing to fully fund K-12 education, increase support for independent schools to provide more choice for parents, and greater competition for our public system.

2. Build modular K-12 schools with units that can be dismantled and moved to respond more quickly to demographic change, and multistory schools needing less land.

3. Require the creation of co-op education programs in every BC college and university, so that students can work their way through school without student debt.

Homelessness

1. Fund the continuum of emergency aid, shelter beds, residential addictions treatment, and affordable housing.

2. Take a province-wide approach to homelessness, including re-institutionalization of homeless with severe mental health conditions, and the creation of a province-wide registry for homeless people in order to locate and offer services and housing to them while not duplicating efforts between cities and regions. Make this information available to police.

Housing affordability

1. Provide more affordable housing in lower-cost areas of BC rather than in the GVRD, to maximize the number of low-income people who can receive assistance.

Indigenous Peoples

1. Empower Indigenous peoples to represent themselves in treaty negotiations, rather than incurring millions in legal costs that are later deducted from their treaty settlement, and streamline those processes to enable quicker resolution.

2. Offer incentives for Indigenous youth on reserve to engage in urban communities while retaining their identity, thus enabling them to receive more education, enter the workforce and enjoy all the benefits of BC’s economy.

Agriculture

1. Enact provincial legislation to protect home buyers, and to empower municipalities to protect rural communities, landlords, and urban neighbourhoods from problems associated with marijuana grow-ops.

2. Keep our supply-management system strong, while seeking out export opportunities to non-WTO/GATT countries.

3. Provide support for farmers who must vacate or manage land due to species at risk.

4. Farming is always more efficient and productive than hunting. Apply this model to the logging industry, providing incentives to adopt a model of farming trees instead of hunting for them.

Social issues

1. Ensure that financial options exist for parents who prefer private childcare arrangements over licensed childcare.

2. Commission an expert group to create a policy that would counteract societal aging by providing stable two-parent families with the assistance they need to have the number of children they would like.

3. Continue the policy of a free vote, on prior notice, for caucus members on any issue other than a confidence motion.

4. Teach children to accept and cherish their body shape and biological characteristics just as they are, no matter their gender expression.

5. Commit to pluralism and tolerance in BC, including the human rights, tolerance and full participation in society of people of good conscience who may disagree with changing sexual mores and concepts of gender.

Tourism

1. Provide more managed recreational camping sites, and full service sites for large RVs, to attract more tourists to BC.

2. Shape a mountain to create a globally-significant sculpture funded by the sale of stone removed, and use some of it to build public structures across BC that will last for 500 years.

Transition to low-carbon economy

1. Stop subsidizing electric cars directly, but continue to fund the infrastructure needed to recharge them, thus providing the market with the incentive to develop the technology necessary to compete with fossil fuels.

2. Using BC technology, build a CNG fast-fill compressor network across BC with government support, thus providing further incentive for CNG conversion, using our abundant natural gas resources.

3. Negotiate standing offers with suppliers of low-cost CNG passenger vehicle conversions, and have BC Lotteries run a weekly CNG conversion lottery for them.

Transportation

1. Widen the TransCanada highway to six lanes as far as Whatcom Road near Abbotsford, preserving space in between for future rapid transit.

2. Build the ‘Five Nations’ or ‘Sasquatch’ highway from Pemberton to Deroche, on the west side of Harrison Lake

3. Employ more noise reduction technology along transportation corridors.

4. Run competitions to introduce greater artistic design into transportation structures such as overpasses.

Other miscellaneous

1. Provide more help for those who want to represent themselves in court, rather than spending ever-increasing amounts on legal aid. Educate judges to become more helpful in this regard.

2. Limit the number of independent offices created by government, instead giving MLAs and public servants more responsibility, and requiring more transparency in return.

3. Ensure that all art purchased at public expense ‘demonstrates unusual skill’, as judged by a broad-based committee of distinguished artists.

4. Beautify our towns and cities, and increase public safety, by funding an infrastructure program to place overhead wires underground.

5. Enhance government transparency by creating more ‘default public disclosure’ policies with respect to government documents.

6. Limit the amount spent on government advertising in an election year to the average, by month, of the previous four years.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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