Les Leyne: Interesting array of Liberal resolutions

The resolutions that made it to the floor of the B.C. Liberal convention last week were interesting, as far as they went.

But some of the ones near the bottom of the list that didn't make it were downright intriguing.

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What do Victoria-Beacon Hill Liberals have against the bike-helmet law, for instance?

That small band of libertarians identified a problem that needs fixing: People "do not have the freedom or responsibility to decide whether or not to wear a helmet."

The resolution said helmet laws are unnecessary because there is little evidence to suggest they increase protection.

In a roundabout way, they got to the real point, which was that helmet laws get in the way of bike-sharing systems that are in vogue.

Also left undebated were two ideas that would have sent chills down the spines of some Victoria civil servants.

One was to open an office for the premier and cabinet in Prince George, because people living in northern B.C. "commonly feel challenged staying connected with the provincial leadership."

The other was to relocate the entire Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations to "rural/Interior B.C."

The resolution said senior executives in the ministry are geographically limited and "need to be aware of northern surroundings, so they can make informed decisions."

There was also a complaint about the lack of transparency in the health system that would likely have provoked some debate.

A resolution from Premier Christy Clark's own Vancouver-Point Grey riding called for monitoring and publishing performance results on the entire medical community, including hospitals, clinics and labs.

There is already a surgical wait-list website that allows for some doctor-shopping, but the resolution wanted to take that further.

"This would allow citizens to go online and view performance results, such as ER wait times, and then make informed decisions about where to seek care."

Elsewhere on the agenda, there was a demand for a strategy aimed at reducing childhood obesity by 20 per cent within five years. It was reminiscent of the dietary sloganeering Liberals started up a few years ago under Gordon Campbell's leadership. ("Act now to increase by 20 per cent the proportion of British Columbians who eat the recommended daily level of fruits and vegetables.")

As for the two dozen or so resolutions that did come up for debate in front of the few hundred delegates who opted to take part, the labour ones discussed here earlier got much of the attention.

Liberals just missed an anti-union triple play. They endorsed a demand for full financial disclosure by public-sector unions. They supported a ban on barring public unions from using their money for any political purpose.

But they defeated a resolution calling for changes to allow teachers to opt out of the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

It's similar to what happened at the party's 2006 convention. Delegates endorsed a call for public audits of all union spending and tried to meddle in how union elections are conducted.

But then they voted down the idea of imposing limits on what unions can do with their money.

Nothing came of the first two ideas. Then-labour minister Olga Ilich said the government wasn't interested in poking unions in the eye with a sharp stick.

And nothing will come of the resolutions passed last weekend.

Just So You Know: The dominant issue in B.C. these days - pipelines - got only one oblique reference from the B.C. Liberal membership.

Under the heading "The West Wants In," a resolution said B.C. should get a fair share from projects involving the export of oil and gas. It called for a trilateral agreement with Ottawa and aboriginal communities on the equitable sharing of benefits.

That would give equal weight to all stakeholders and create a development-friendly jurisdiction.

There was a brief but spirited debate. One delegate said it represented tariffs and urged defeat, saying tariffs go against Liberal values and free enterprise means taking the good with the bad.

"We must support free enterprise all the time, not just when it's politically popular."

Another speaker said there is no one aboriginal community, so such an arrangement would have be negotiated with every First Nation involved.

The resolution was defeated. It wasn't exactly a repudiation of Clark's stand on the pipeline. But it shows delegates are as conflicted as the rest of B.C. on the issue.

lleyne@timescolonist.com

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