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MEDIA ADVISORY: ICBA in Court Today Seeking Prop Rep Injunction

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) will be in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver today, making the case to Madam Justice Miriam Gropper for an injunction to force the provincial government to fix its flawed proportional representation referendum process.

ICBA believes the way the government has asked and structured the questions, and the restrictions it has placed on public participation, are unlawful and undermine the entire purpose of a binding referendum: to determine whether a fully informed electorate supports adopting a new electoral system.

ICBA legal counsel Peter Gall will argue that the referendum questions and process are illegal because they don’t present the public with a clear choice between the current electoral system and a defined system of proportional representation – as was the case in the two previous referenda held on this matter in 2005 and 2009.

“We are strongly supportive of holding a vote to decide whether B.C. should adopt a new electoral system,” said ICBA president Chris Gardner. “While the provincial government has been trying to rag the puck on our case – using delay tactics to keep their flawed process going, we believe it is in the public interest to ensure this referendum is conducted in a fair, transparent, and lawful manner, given that it involves such a fundamental change to our democratic system.”

WHO: ICBA, including its president, Chris Gardner, and legal counsel, Peter Gall

WHAT: Arguing for an injunction against the government’s prop rep process

WHEN: Today, Tuesday, August 7, 2018. The hearing starts at 9:45 AM and is scheduled to run all day.

WHERE: BC Supreme Court, 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver

For more on ICBA’s intended arguments today, click HERE. For our full, initial filing, click HERE.

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: 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.

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.

NEWS RELEASE: Horgan’s Reckless Approach to Pipeline to Cost Taxpayers Billions

BURNABY – Today’s announcement that the federal government will purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project will save the vital pipeline and thousands of jobs that come with it, but it highlights how damaging the actions of Premier John Horgan and the B.C. NDP Government have been to Canada, said the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) today.

“This really is a sad day for Canada, and Premier Horgan is squarely to blame,” said Chris Gardner, president of ICBA. “In less than a year on the job, John Horgan has ripped-up the approval of the Trans Mountain project; created a constitutional crisis; started a trade war with B.C.’s closest neighbour; sent a chilling message to investors that Canada does not respect the rule of law; and forced Ottawa to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to build a project that the private sector was more than willing to deliver.”

ICBA has long supported the Trans Mountain project and the 15,000 construction jobs it will create. ICBA’s #Get2Yes campaign in the past five weeks generated nearly 4,000 emails of support for the pipeline and has strongly supported the #ConfidenceInCanada coalition.

“John Horgan has forced Canada to nationalize a project that a private company was willing to build,” said Jordan Bateman, ICBA communications director. “Kinder Morgan did everything right – years of consultation, deals with every First Nation along its route, securing every regulatory and government approval required in BC and Canada, winning 16 straight court victories, and building strong majority support in B.C. But none of this was good enough for a premier who, irresponsible in the pursuit of power, only cares about holding on to the Green Party’s three votes in the Legislature.”

Today’s decision reinforces the difficulty private companies are having in navigating Canada’s exceedingly complex regulatory processes and professional protestors.

“It’s hard to imagine proponents of major infrastructure and responsible resource development projects taking any comfort from today’s announcement,” said Gardner. “Investment is fleeing Canada and commentators are saying ‘Canada is a laughing stock’ – this will simply accelerate that capital flight, taking with it opportunity, talent and jobs for Canadians.”

NEWS RELEASE – Canadian Economy Hangs On Future of Pipeline: ICBA

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must act immediately to get the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project built, a project that was approved 18 months ago, says the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA). ICBA is floored by today’s news that Kinder Morgan is close to pulling the plug on this vital national project because of the interference of the B.C. Government.

“By strangling Trans Mountain, the B.C. NDP Government would throw away $5.7 billion in provincial tax revenue, $1 billion in municipal tax revenue, and the opportunities that come with 15,000 construction jobs and 189,000 person-years of employment,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. “This decision will send a simple chilling message to businesses looking to start or expand major projects here – stay away from B.C. because you cannot rely on the government to honour its commitments or follow the law.”

Trans Mountain pipeline was approved two years ago after a 29-month long process and had 194 environmental and legal conditions attached that Kinder Morgan has to meet during the construction and operation of the pipeline. But the deliberate and unfair interference of the B.C. NDP and Burnaby city governments saw the province and city hall actively engage in activities designed to deliberately terminate the project.

“Once this project was approved by the federal government after an exhaustive review process, the provincial NDP government and Burnaby city hall were required to act in good faith, and to process permits properly – a message reinforced by court decisions,” said Gardner. “If this project fails because of their illegal maneuvering, it would be a crushing blow to Canada’s oil and gas sector and the repercussions for Canada’s economy would be irreparable.”

“The impact would be felt in communities across not only B.C. but also Western Canada – no Trans Mountain royalties, no Trans Mountain jobs, and no investment in training and new technology that comes along with a $7.4 billion investment in our economy.”

“The province and the city of Burnaby have not acted fairly and have given no thought to the national interest. In fact, the opposite has occurred, Premier Horgan has started a trade war with Alberta and brought into question what it means for a province to be part of this great country.”

The energy sector in Canada directly employs over 425,000 men and women and is the single largest source of private sector investment in the country. Yet the companies like Kinder Morgan, which are investing, or planning to invest, billions of dollars in our economy are vilified at nearly every turn.

“Canada’s energy sector is being hollowed out – Canada is losing investment, jobs and talent. Capital that should be committed to projects in Canada is instead being deployed in other jurisdictions providing opportunities and growth for our competitors.”

ICBA has been a strong supporter of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project through its #Get2Yes platform. It is concerned that everyday British Columbians – including the nearly 50,000 who work with ICBA-affiliated companies – will be hurt by this decision.