Opposition politicians ridiculed the B.C. Liberal government Thursday for presenting legislation to declare the first Wednesday in March Red Tape Reduction Day.
Some criticisms were comical, such as when Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver pointed out the irony of spending hours of legislature time to pass a law celebrating reduction of unnecessary procedures. Weaver quoted from outraged constituents posting protests on his Facebook page, comparing the situation to a Monty Python sketch.
Others were more sombre. NDP MLA Adrian Dix read off a lengthy list of special days that have been declared in B.C., and compared the latest addition to Holocaust Memorial Day. His colleague George Heyman reminded the government about B.C. Liberal deregulation of farm and construction labour regulations that may have contributed to deaths and injuries.
NDP MLA Carole James noted that the day could simply have been declared with a proclamation. Others suggested the bill was put before the legislature to pad out a thin agenda for the fall legislative session, or to set a trap for the NDP opposition to make them appear to be anti-business.
In the end, NDP members voted in favour of the bill to deprive the B.C. Liberals of an opportunity to paint them as being in favour of red tape. Independents Weaver and Vicki Huntington took the unusual step of voting against the bill even being admitted for debate.
The B.C. Liberal government has touted the reduction of regulations since it was first elected in 2001. Targets were set and milestones marked, starting with the appointment of former cabinet minister Kevin Falcon as a Minister of State for Red Tape Reduction.
B.C. Liberal MLA John Martin joined other government members in defending the bill. Martin said the government has changed rules to make it easier for parents to take their kids fishing, streamlined the process of registering as an organ donor, and made it legal to buy local beer and wine in some grocery stores.
B.C. Liberal MLA Mike Morris said the day will raise public awareness of unnecessary regulations and encourage people to suggest ways to streamline government procedures.