Found myself in Victoria last week with a few hours to kill, so I popped into the Legislature to see what great issues our provincial leaders were grappling with.
LNG, climate change, social housing, transit, Site C, land claims? Nope. The MLAs (all two dozen who showed up Thursday morning) were locked in a knock-down-drag-’em-out debate over creating Red Tape Reduction Day.
Yup, pretty much what I thought.
The result of the debate was that the first Wednesday in March each year, from now to eternity, will be observed as red tape reduction day (there, of course, was no mention of whether red tape has to actually be reduced in order to observe the special day … can we expect a new holiday?)
NDP MLA Carole James, in her 40-minute speech on the subject, pointed out that government could simply have proclaimed a special day to reduce red tape rather than push an actual act through the legislature. Good point.
Jobs Minister Shirley Bond’s response wasn’t quite as long as she pointed out the scourges of red tape, how it kills small business. Also a good point. However, the Liberals have been in power since 2001 so it stands to reason that much of the regulatory red tape that is killing small business, was originally put in place by the Liberals. Maybe it they hadn’t put so much red tape in place they wouldn’t need to cut so much of it.
Bond also referred to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which has praised the provincial government for it’s red tape reduction. The CFIB even gave Bond a pair of scissors at a ceremony in Prince George earlier this year.
NDP MLA Lana Popham then jumped into the fray, referring to a Canadian Federation of Independent Business report which listed the government’s use of Multi-Materials BC for recycling as one of the worst examples of increasing red tape in recent memory.
Let’ not forget that the debate was not on how to reduce red tape, which regulatory regimes to eliminate or simplify, but whether we should have a day to celebrate red tape reduction.
Lost on all those locked in mortal legislative combat was the irony of it all. Here they were arguing about how wasteful red tape is for business and government while completely oblivious that the debate of such a day is a utter waste of time of the legislators, staff, and the public who wanted to catch a glimpse of government in action.
Everyone agrees that reducing red tape is good, however it’s a balancing act. We don’t want to cut red tape simply for the sake of cutting red tape and getting a CFIB scissors, we want to eliminate regulations that are unnecessary.
We don’t need day, proclaimed in law, to celebrate it.
The red tape debate did highlight one thing though … the Liberals don’t have too many new ideas.