Question Period in the B.C. Legislature on Monday, March 7, 2022.
P. Milobar:The Premier seemed to take decisive and quick action in this budget when he made sure that he was covered with a $40,000 pay hike and his cabinet was covered with a $20,000 pay hike.
But there are real-world implications when the Premier refuses to take action on the high price of gas. It’s hurting non-profits, like the Backpack Buddies, which deliver food to kids in need. In fact, that agency is facing around a $20,000-a-year increase to their fuel bill to be able to deliver food to kids in need. I guess the $20,000 is okay for cabinet; no worries when it comes to Backpack Buddies. The co-founder of the charity, Emily-anne King, says: “My biggest concern is how it’s impacting families.”
Again, the Premier has repeatedly promised to take action around gas prices; he has done nothing. Yet he controls 40 cents — and climbing — a litre of taxes. When is the Premier going to do something to help struggling families with the price at the pumps?
Hon. J. Horgan: I’m quoting Kevin Falcon when he said, “I don’t want to…pretend there’s any magic solution” to fuel price increases that had doubled in the past 12 months, which is what he said in 2008.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. J. Horgan: The magic in the pixie dust seems to be existing in a party that Kevin Falcon left but has now come back to. Perhaps you can send him a memo and see what his solutions are to this problem, because he didn’t have any when we were asking the very same questions.
Mr. Speaker: Members, order. Members, come to order. The Premier will continue.
Hon. J. Horgan: British Columbians have been concerned about gouging at the pumps for a long, long time. This is a new phenomenon. What we did to address that was we brought in fuel transparency legislation so that the independent Utilities Commission could ensure that every increase in gasoline was directly a result of market forces and market conditions.
Now, there was a time in ancient, ancient history when the people on that side of the House called themselves free-market politicians, but that free market disappears when you travel from here to over there. Instead of being up front and honest with British Columbians and telling them that an illegal invasion in Ukraine is the result of the increases we’re seeing today, instead they want to turn it around and say the carbon tax, which they championed, is now the problem. I don’t get it. Pick a side, Member. Pick a side.
Mr. Speaker: Member for Kamloops–North Thompson, supplemental.
P. Milobar: As we’ve pointed out many times, highest gas taxes, highest gas prices before the war. We continue to have those in North America, and this Premier has done absolutely nothing.
You may want to quote 13 years ago. Let’s look at his own words four years ago, 207 weeks ago, when he said: “We have talked about a range of options, and we will look at them should prices remain high over the next number of weeks.” I guess 207 is not a high enough number of weeks that prices have remained high, to the Premier.
But wait, there’s more: “If the price increases persist through the summer, we’ll look at other options.” That was April 4, 2019, so a year after the Premier first started promising relief at the pumps for people. Then in February this year: “Everything’s on the table. I’m certainly prepared to look at any opportunity we have.” That was February.
We’ve seen other province act on gas prices. We’ve seen them try to bring relief at the pumps. This Premier, instead, has grandstanded for years about protecting consumers, but he hasn’t done a thing. All he has done is build a useless website that was built around the inability for…. The BCUC, expressly, was forbidden to look at government policy and government taxation as it related to the price at the pump.
Again, if the Premier had a solution 207 weeks ago, it is high time he provides us with what that solution is and actually take some action, for a change, for some people.
Hon. J. Horgan: Again, the enthusiasm from the member is undeniable.
But what have we done for the driving public in British Columbia? We fixed the dumpster fire that was ICBC that led to 500 bucks in the pockets of ratepayers, just by making those changes. It gets better care for people and protects us from the usury that used to be on that side of the House.
Every dollar that came into ICBC on their watch went to cap their budget and give tax breaks to corporations.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. J. Horgan: Fess up, Members. Fess up. Your focus, when you had the opportunity, was not on the travelling public. Far from it. Your focus at that time was to gouge the travelling public, by increasing their ability to travel in the Lower Mainland, the only place where there were tolls. They’re not anymore. We got rid of those tolls as well.
Just in case the member’s not aware of this, gas prices have gone up and gone down and gone up and gone down over the past number of years. Now the travelling public has protection.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. J. Horgan: They can go to the Utilities Commission, not to the opposition — the utilities commission, where independent analysis will take place, and they can get real answers to the problems of today.
Mr. Speaker: Members, it would be very useful if you hear the question and then listen to the answer, please.
Source: BC Hansard