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Tales of Prop Rep Horror #1 – “The Puzzle of Brussels”

541 days is a long time.

And it’s how long Belgium went without any elected government before December 2011.

It’s no wonder – through the wonders of proportional representation, 11 parties split Belgium’s 150 seats, with no group controlling more than 27. Backroom deal after backroom deal was tried and failed – no one could herd the fringe party cats to get to a governing majority. So for 77 weeks, Belgium was rudderless.

As the weeks and months ticked by, the people tried everything to get the politicians to form a coalition. Students tried stripping to their underwear and handing out free chips; giant lions and roosters protested in the street; the country’s leading actor ordered all men to go on shaving strike; and one female senator suggested politicians’ wives should deny them sex. (We’re not making this up – https://www.theguardian.com/…/eurozone-crisis-forces-belgiu…)

Belgium, already heavily in debt, saw a credit downgrade during that time, and that economic crisis finally forced 6 parties to come together.

The Guardian blamed Belgium’s “Absurdly divided and squabbling political class” – the complete opposite of the “collaboration” and “non-partisan” nonsense that prop rep supporters claim their system provides…

And another reason to Stop Prop Rep! www.icba.ca/stopproprep

Share this post – David Eby’s draconian, anti-free speech rules won’t allow us to advertise it, but individuals can share it as much as they like. Let’s make sure every British Columbian sees it.

And stay tuned for more “Tales of Prop Rep Horror”…

NEWS RELEASE: Paybacks, Bureaucracy, Confusion in Horgan’s PLA Revival

BURNABY – Today’s 336-page Project Labour Agreement (PLA), released by the provincial government, confirms what the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) has been warning about for weeks: The Horgan government has sold out taxpayers to the Building Trades unions that gave the NDP millions.

The PLA drags the B.C. construction industry back to the days when union bosses controlled construction work. Today, 85 per cent of B.C.’s quarter million men and women in construction have chosen not to be affiliated with the NDP’s Building Trades unions, but they will be forced to join those NDP-approved unions and pay them dues and other fees in order to work on taxpayer-funded projects.

“John Horgan has put the interests of his union donors ahead of what’s best for British Columbians, ahead of fairness, ahead of getting good value for tax dollars, and ahead of what individual workers want,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. “This 336-page document is just the first sign of the bureaucracy to come, and why PLAs are an outdated model that makes construction more expensive.”

The PLA includes 32 cents per person-hour in payments to unions for various funds, the most shocking of which is a 25 cent per person-hour payment for “union administration.” ICBA believes this will net the unions millions of dollars – plus whatever workers are forced to pay in dues, benefit contributions, pension contributions, initiation fees, training fees and whatever else the Building Trades mandate.

“This union mark-up is why PLAs are so expensive,” said Gardner. “And despite its suffocating bureaucracy, the PLA fails to outline how much workers will be charged in dues, initiation fees and other union cash grabs, how much workers will have to contribute to union pension funds, and whether workers can take those contributions with them when the project is finished.”

The agreement also makes it clear that the Building Trades unions will decide who works on each part of the project – meaning companies will not have complete access to their usual employees, thus jeopardizing the safety, efficiency and productivity that comes with working with trusted colleagues who know each other and their company’s systems.

The PLA stipulates minutiae such as the size of pillows and number of coat hooks in work camps, that they must have access to a movie channel, dictates that electrical workers will need to contribute toward a “library fund for Local 993”, and much, much more.

“All of this bureaucracy drives up costs. John Horgan is effectively sole-sourcing more than $25 billion in taxpayer-funded construction to his friends in the Building Trades unions,” said Gardner. “It’s simply not fair to discriminate against the 85 per cent of construction workers who have specifically rejected old-fashioned, heavy-handed unions. B.C. construction workers deserve better from this government – they deserve choice, fairness and a level playing field.”

NEWS RELEASE: Nine Business & Labour Organizations call on John Horgan to Scrap Union-Only Monopoly Hiring Deal

BURNABY – The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) today joined eight other business and labour organizations in signing a letter to John Horgan, calling on the NDP Premier to abandon his plan to create a restrictive and regressive union-only monopoly on taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects.

ICBA joined the BC Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, CLAC, Canada West Construction Union, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Progressive Contractors Association, Surrey Board of Trade and Vancouver Regional Construction Association in a call for Horgan to stop his attempt to end fair, open and transparent procurement in public projects.

Under Horgan’s plan, anyone working on a provincial government construction project will be forced to join one of his NDP-approved Building Trades Unions, the same unions have donated millions of dollars to the NDP over the past few elections.

“John Horgan is sole-sourcing more than $25 billion in taxpayer-funded construction to his buddies in the Building Trades unions,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “It’s simply not fair to discriminate against the 85 per cent of construction workers who have specifically rejected old-fashioned, heavy-handed unions. B.C. construction workers deserve better from this government – they deserve choice, fairness and a level playing field.”

The open letter notes that the additional bureaucracy it takes to tilt the playing field to Horgan’s union donors could cost taxpayers as much as $4.8 billion more in construction costs – nearly $4,000 for every family in the province.

“Competition is the best way to keep construction costs down, and to ensure the government can carry out its entire building plan without raising more taxes or incurring billions of dollars of unnecessary debt,” said Gardner. “It also reassures the public that government is making good decisions with taxpayers’ money, not simply lining the pockets of friends and insiders.”

To read the full letter, click HERE.

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Files for Injunction to Suspend Prop Rep Vote

VANCOUVER – The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) has taken the next step and filed for an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court asking that the referendum on proportional representation be suspended until the ICBA’s challenge to the legality of the referendum, and to the process established by the NDP government limiting public expression during the referendum process, can be determined.

In the first meeting before Justice Gropper on July 7, the government asked for more time to consider the issues raised in ICBA’s original court petition.

“It’s hard to imagine that the NDP government needs more time – it’s their rules, it’s their process and it’s their referendum. We prepared our challenge within a week, and they say they need two months,” said Chris Gardner, president of ICBA. “But, as we have said from the start, the question is confusing, the process was rushed, and there was little consultation. Given that the NDP government needs more time to defend its own law and regulations, we think the only fair and reasonable course is for the referendum to be postponed.”

The two previous referenda on electoral reform in 2005 and 2009 were held at the same time as the provincial election and the proposals were debated extensively in the years leading up to the vote.  In this case, the NDP Government has decided to conduct the referendum by mail-in ballot in the fall following the municipal elections that will be held across the province.

“British Columbians deserve better than this,” said Gardner. “Changing the way we elect our government deserves more than passing consideration, it requires a fair and open process with a clear question and a timeline that will allow for a robust debate.”

ICBA states in its application for an injunction that there are times when governments do not act in the broader public interest and when that occurs, the actions of government are rightly curtailed and corrected by the courts. “The courts are the last resort to protect the fundamental rights of citizens seeking relief from governments blinded by partisan imperatives,” said Gardner.

The court previously indicated it would be willing to hear arguments for an injunction on August 7.

The ICBA petition lays out arguments that the prop rep referendum process is flawed legally and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including:

  • It is not consistent with the NDP Government’s own Referendum Act, which calls for “a clear statement of the majority of voters on whether to implement a well-defined and comprehensible new voting system, or to keep the existing electoral system”;
  • It violates foundational constitutional principles, which require a binding referendum on matters of fundamental importance, “endorsed by a clear majority on a clear question”;
  • It is inconsistent with sections 2(b) and 3 of the Charter, “which give British Columbians the right to meaningfully participate in a fair and comprehensible referendum process” in relation to fundamental changes to the electoral system, and hence the scope of the right to vote;
  • It is inconsistent with sections 2(b) and 2(d) of the Charter, which require that “British Columbians be able to fully express themselves and debate fundamental changes to the design of the democratic system”;
  • The regulations unlawfully restrict freedom of expression, freedom of debate on matters of public interest, and freedom of association; and
  • The Rural-Urban prop rep option, which is not in existence anywhere in the world, violates sections 3 and 15 of the Charter as it creates two different electoral systems that would operate simultaneously, which demonstrates the unreasonableness of proceeding with a binding referendum before a full, open, and transparent debate.

For the full text of ICBA’s application for an injunction, click HERE and to read the original petition, click HERE.

TRAINING THURSDAY (ON A WEDNESDAY) Feelin’ That Bluebeam Revue

Does your office use Bluebeam Revu? This award-winning software is used by some of the largest construction companies in the world and our training department wants to teach you how to use it! We have three courses coming up in Burnaby that will help you expedite the review and approval process between team members or clients, quickly and easily.

We’re starting with Bluebeam Revu Basics on August 22, which teaches you the fundamentals of the software, including an introduction to the interface, navigation and profiles, and modules on the markup tools, PDF creation, document management and setup and much more! You’ll also earn 1 Gold Seal Credit and 7.5 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing.

On August 23, we’re offering Document Control with Bluebeam Revu. This full-day workshop will give you the knowledge and skills to take plain PDF construction documents and create smart PDFs that can give project teams accurate and up-to-date information at all times. You’ll also earn 1 Gold Seal Credit and 7 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing for this session!

We’re rounding out the week with Bluebeam Revu Advanced on August 24. You’ll learn about the advanced features of the software, including customizing the interface, advanced hyperlinking, change order management and much more. This course offers 1 Gold Seal Credit.

Interested in these courses or any of our other sessions? Register at www.icba.ca/training.

TRAINING THURSDAY: ICBA’s Blueprint Reading Courses

We’re going back to basics! Our Training Department wants to give you a solid foundation in a fundamental skill when it comes to working on a construction project: reading blueprints! 

ICBA offers two blueprint-related courses; Introduction to Blueprint Reading and Civil Blueprint Reading. We have sessions of both coming up this year!

Our next Introduction to Blueprint Reading course is in Burnaby on July 27; don’t miss your chance to register! You’ll learn how to read sets of residential and commercial blueprints, making this course suitable for all construction professionals.

Among the topics covered are the design process and the role of design professionals, architectural and engineering scales, understanding specifications, and layout basics.

We’re offering several more sessions of this workshop in Burnaby and Abbotsford later this year as well. You’ll earn 1 Gold Seal Credit and 7 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing.

Our Civil Blueprint Reading course will take place December 17 in Burnaby, and teaches participants how to read a set of civil blueprints, drawing specifications and general notes. Plus, you’ll earn 1 Gold Seal Credit!

For full course descriptions and online registration, visit www.icba.ca/training.

News Release: BC Government Rags the Puck on Prop Rep Court Challenge

VANCOUVER – The B.C. Government’s delay tactics trying to slow down a court challenge of David Eby’s proportional representation referendum process are disappointing and harm the public interest, said the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) today.

ICBA is challenging the referendum process, saying it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Today in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, lawyers for the Attorney General were successful in getting hearings pushed all the way to September, just weeks before voting is set to begin Oct. 22.

“It’s hard to imagine that the NDP Government needs more time – it’s their rules, it’s their process and it’s their referendum,” said Chris Gardner, president of ICBA. “This is a matter of vital importance to British Columbians, and its incumbent on the Attorney General to respond and defend the referendum and a process that many independent observers have rightly criticized.”

The delay means the current limitations on debate and election advertising will remain in effect. ICBA plans to file for an injunction in early August – the earliest available opportunity.  “The question is confusing, the process was rushed, and there was little consultation,” said Gardner. “British Columbians deserve better than this.”

“The government has made it clear it will do whatever it takes to prevent our petition from being heard in a timely way,” said Gardner. “We’re not going away – the issues are simply too important to give up in the face of the government’s attempt to prevent these issues from being heard in a timely manner.”

The ICBA petition lays out arguments that the prop rep referendum process is flawed legally and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including:

  • It is not consistent with the NDP Government’s own Referendum Act, which calls for “a clear statement of the majority of voters on whether to implement a well-defined and comprehensible new voting system, or to keep the existing electoral system”;
  • It violates foundational constitutional principles, which require a binding referendum on matters of fundamental importance, “endorsed by a clear majority on a clear question”;
  • It does not meet sections 2(b) and 3 of the Charter, “which give British Columbians the right to meaningfully participate in a fair and comprehensible referendum process”;
  • It does not meet sections 2(b) and 2(d) of the Charter, which require that “British Columbians be able to fully express themselves and debate fundamental changes to the design of the democratic system”;
  • The regulations unlawfully restrict freedom of expression, freedom of debate on matters of public interest, and freedom of association; and
  • The Rural-Urban prop rep option, which is not in existence anywhere in the world, violates sections 3 and 15 of the Charter as it creates two different electoral systems that would operate simultaneously.

For the full text of ICBA’s challenge, click HERE.

IN THE NEWS: ICBA Battles NDP Plan for Union-Only Projects

The NDP claim today’s “community benefit agreement” announcement is about getting more people into construction.

That’s an outright lie.

Their true agenda was revealed hours after their press conference:

“Anyone wanting to work on the Pattullo and other public infrastructure projects will have to sign up with the NDP-run hiring hall. Within 30 days of employment on a given job site, any non-union worker — or any member of a union not in partnership with the NDP — will be required to join an approved union for the duration of the project.

“Forced unionization in other words, and with selected, NDP-approved unions.”

That’s about putting tens of millions of dollars in forced union dues, benefits payments, training fees, and uncollectable pension payments into the failing Building Trades unions. It’s about repaying them for the hundreds of thousands of dollars they’ve given the NDP over the years. It’s about gouging the taxpayer to prop up a failing union model that now represents fewer than 15% of construction workers.

It’s disgusting. If the unions want work, compete to get it in an open, fair, transparent bidding process. But they can’t – and this morning their NDP allies tried to hide the truth from taxpayers.

Shame on them.

ICBA media coverage from yesterday’s NDP announcement forcing all construction workers on provincial projects to join the Building Trades unions:

NEWS RELEASE: Horgan Makes Sweetheart Deal with Union Donors

BURNABY – In a cynical effort to pay back his Building Trades union supporters and donors, Premier John Horgan is reviving an obsolete, expensive, highly bureaucratic way of building the Pattullo Bridge and other vital infrastructure, said the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) today.

“All anyone wants is a fair shot at work, but John Horgan has tilted the playing field to favour the 15% of the workforce represented by the Building Trades unions that have given his NDP Government millions of dollars in political donations and support,” said Chris Gardner, president of ICBA. “Today’s announcement was long on cost for taxpayers but short on details from government. Procurement should be open, fair and transparent – not a payoff for political favours.”

Horgan’s model is built on the 1990s Vancouver Island Highway project, which saw workers forced to join unions, get hired through union hiring halls and pay union dues. This drove up labour costs by 40%, according to a study done for the Vancouver Board of Trade at the time.

“This is the failed Island Highway model all over again – but even worse, as Horgan fails to understand that 85% of the industry is not affiliated with his union supporters,” said Gardner. “With nearly $30 billion in government construction projects planned over the next three years, project delays and overpaying by creating a union monopoly will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.”

The B.C. Government has delayed the Pattullo Bridge project for almost a year, simply to make this deal with the Building Trades unions. “It’s disappointing to see such a vital project used as a political football by the NDP,” said Gardner. “The new Pattullo would already be under way if it wasn’t about paying back political favours.”

ICBA is the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in British Columbia, with more than 1,200 men and women going through the certification process.

“Fair, transparent and open bidding should be a cornerstone value in a democracy like B.C. Whether you are union or open shop, you should have a fair shot at work put out by government,” said Gardner. “Unfortunately, this changed today, and ICBA is committed to fighting tooth and nail to ensure that fairness and transparency prevail when government projects are tendered.”

For a backgrounder outlining ICBA concerns about Horgan’s project labour agreements, click HERE.