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October 28, 2017 2:13 am

A red letter day for red tape

Monday, October 5, 2015 @ 3:46 AM
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.
Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached at billphillips1@mac.com


A bit of a stretch to blame red tape on the Liberals. Red tape has been around longer then I have. The only reason it’s there is to keep our inordinate number of civil servants employed. But let’s ignore that elephant.

The BCLibs have been in power now for 14+ years. How many years do they need to get rid of “red tape?”

It’s like the notion of any government ever paying down its accumulated debt. They only succeed in shuffling it around, or downloading it on a lower level of government, but never in eliminating it. Red tape was reduced in a number of areas when the BC Liberals first came into office, (I recall reading once in 1,100 different areas), but still more of it has increased since then, much of it by its movement to regulation by various ‘authorities’ or regional governments. It is stifling for small enterprise to deal with, to the point where much that could be viable and beneficial in so many ways simply doesn’t happen.

” 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.”

If you haven’t heard a good rumour by noon just make one up. Fun advice but not normally considered quality journalism.

There was a lot of red tape eliminated when the PST was repealed. Then, we asked for it, along with the red tape – back again.

Actually Bill, give me one example of what you think is red tape, and I will find you a civil servant that will explain why that red tape exists, and what happens when it goes. A lot of red tape is a result of non compliance by the general population, and so rules have to be brought in to legislate what would normally be the obvious.

Example – why do we have a noise by-law in PG. You’d think people will just be respectful of their neighbors and quiet down their dog, not party till the wee hours, drive their boom box around town, their loud pipes save lives motorcycles. So, here comes the red tape in the form of by-laws.

A good 20% of the income tax act is reactive. Someone figured out a way to reduce tax payable in a way the government hadn’t foreseen, so, more sections written to block that strategy – I hate to think how big the act will increase to close the KPMG loopholes.

And then another good chunk is a social policy document finding ways to transfer wealth from the haves, to have nots. If you decide people get what they earn and not what someone else earned, good chunks of the red tape in the Income Tax Act disappears.

What what about distracted driving. Even more red tape because people are too ignorant not to try and type or read a message while driving a 2 ton killing machine at 100 km hr.

Lots of red tape – lots of stupidity causing it.

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