Excerpt from a speech by Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar during the Throne Speech debate, in response to Leonard Krog, the NDP MLA for Nanaimo, in the Legislature on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Krog had made comments calling himself an “urbanite” because he lives in Nanaimo. “We have not been a rural nation since the First World War,” he said.
P. Milobar: I’m glad the member opposite referenced that his response to the throne speech was a lecture, because that most certainly is what it felt like. It was a very interesting perspective that we all got to hear.
I’m going to start off my comments about the throne speech by maybe addressing a few of the startling comments made by the previous speaker, especially around things to do with rural B.C. There seems to be a narrative in that last speech that would indicate that rural B.C. is deserving of a bit of token attention, and that’s really all it should get because everyone wants to live in downtown Vancouver. Or that Nanaimo or Kamloops, where I am from, or Prince George should be the only centres of area that people should worry about when you’re in government.
I would like to point out to the member opposite, though, that although my riding is called Kamloops–North Thompson, and as he mentioned the Member from Prince George, it’s not just Prince George and not just Kamloops. There’s a reason it also says North Thompson. There are many hard-working men and women all up and down the North Thompson Valley that I represent that would be quite offended, frankly, by hearing the previous speech.
They live and they work in very rural areas. They can be 15, 20 minutes out of downtown Kamloops and not have cell service and not have connectivity.
I think they would consider themselves to be very rural yet still very productive members of our B.C. provincial economy — trying to make our province grow, trying to make our province prosper, trying to provide for their friends and families and making sure that they have good outcomes for their family as well. They deserve to have the same attention from government as someone that lives in downtown Vancouver.
I would also point out that trying to make our province grow, trying to make our province prosper, trying to provide for their families and making sure that they have good outcomes for their family as well. They deserve to have the same attention from government as someone that lives in downtown Vancouver.
I would also point out that although I live in Kamloops, if you are from one of those small rural areas, a Blue River or that, you may consider Prince George or Kamloops to be urban. But I have news for the member. If you’re from downtown Vancouver, you most certainly do not ever consider Kamloops, Prince George, and for a lot of cases, even Kelowna to be urban metropolises. You consider it to be rural. And so the fact that the member opposite seems to think that anywhere outside of a population base is considered rural is a little bit troubling. If you look at how the federal government will view the difference between rural and urban and how it gets categorized when you are looking for grants from a federal government in terms of population cutoffs, when you look at even how the CBC defines rural versus urban, where they are going to set up radio stations or not, I would suggest that the member opposite and his colleagues might want to really brush-up on what rural and urban actually means.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t have hospitals, and it’s not to say that we shouldn’t have universities in these areas. Absolutely. We support that. But to suggest as the tone of the comments were, that really we need to just kind of give a bit of passing attention to the more rural areas of our province, I really focus in on the Island and Lower Mainland, I think speaks volumes to the direction that this government is going. I think it speaks volumes to some of the things that are in the throne speech, and more importantly, what are missing from the throne speech. It’s very troubling when you hear that type of narrative.
I would point out that although the member opposite made sure that he stuck to his party-provided bullet points as he referenced that I stand here with none. I stand here without speaking notes, because I wasn’t directed by my party how I need to respond to a throne speech. And I notice it very interesting that the members opposite have free-wheeled a little bit when it comes to this throne speech.
I think that also speaks to some of the confusion that maybe is out in the general public around this throne speech when we’re hearing very different messages of expectation from the government’s own members as what they think is contained in this throne speech and what their expectations in the upcoming budget are.
Now, that’s another troubling aspect to it, because although there’s a lot of words in this throne speech document, it really is light on detail. It’s really light on content. A lot of times actions do speak louder than words. Let’s hope that’s the case, because these words, there’s not a whole lot of action in them. What there is, is a whole lot of grand statements.
Of course people want to see people living in comfortable and safe housing appropriate to what they are able to afford and be able to have safety and security for them and their family. Of course people want to see that their social supports are in place. Of course people want to see that there’s a good educational system in our province. I would point out that we routinely get referenced as having an outstanding educational system, especially in the K to 12, despite previous protestations from the members opposite over the years.
I don’t think any of that type of language is really that surprising in the throne speech. But the problem is that although most throne speeches contain some types of language around that, that seems to be all this throne speech really does contain. I guess it’s fitting — and we saw referenced in the media already — that there seems to be a lot of concerns by the members opposite in the last few days as a trade war gets generated around diluted bitumen because in this throne speech what I see, quite frankly, is a whole lot of diluted promises that they have made to their supporters.
I think as time marches on here through this throne speech and the budget debate, I would suggest that they’re going to find a lot of their groups of support are going to be sorely disappointed when they see how little the government is able to actually enact based on their campaign promises and moving forward with what they said was a going to be a priority.
Source: BC Hansard transcript.