Laurie Throness has announced he will not be running for leadership of the Liberal Party.
But he does have a few thoughts on what he’d like to see in a leader. On Tuesday, the MLA for Chilliwack-Hope published a 65-point list of ideals he would like to be considered by potential party leaders. In his release, sent out through his private email address and posted to his social media accounts, Throness suggested he would endorse those who agree with his vision for the Liberals.
His ideas include excluding the right to die from palliative care, teaching children “to accept and cherish their body shape and biological characteristics just as they are,” and increasing support for independent schools “to provide … greater competition for our public system.”
He said these 65 points are in addition to the party platform, and he feels a new leader “needs the space to refashion the policy agenda.”
“I’m not running for premier myself,” Throness wrote, “but I do want to have an impact on the leadership and the direction of the party. Beside the overall qualifications of good character, experience, intelligence, leadership style and other intangibles, I’m concerned about the Party’s future policy direction, first in terms of the good of all British Columbians, and second, in terms of party unity.”
The Liberals will vote for a new leader February 1-3, and candidates should be declaring their aspirations publicly. Throness says he is hoping to spur “a campaign of ideals.”
He broke his 65 points into several categories, including Public Sector, Economy, Crime and Addictions, Health Care, Environment, Education, Homelessness, Housing Affordability, Indigienous Peoples, Agriculture, Social Issues, Tourism, Transition to Low-carbon Economy, Transportation, and Other. (The full list is available below this story on theprogress.com.)
A few of the items are things that some Fraser Valley residents have been wanting for years, including a completed highway between Harrison and Pemberton, and widened highways (six lanes) through to Whatcom Road in Abbotsford. He also calls for a completed Site C dam, a bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel, twinning of the TransMountain pipeline, and to “stand up to the public sector unions in order to control the cost of government.”
There are also suggestions that are less conventional. Under Tourism, Throness suggests: “Shape a mountain to create a globally-significant sculpture funded by the sale of stone removed, and use some of it to build public structures across BC that will last for 500 years.”
Under Indigenous Peoples: “Offer incentives for Indigenous youth on reserve to engage in urban communities while retaining their identity, thus enabling them to receive more education, enter the workforce and enjoy all the benefits of BC’s economy.”
The one item under Housing Affordability suggests offering affordable housing in already low-cost areas, “rather than in the GVRD.”
He also suggests committing public offenders who are addicted to drugs under the Mental Health Act. The Progress spoke to Hamish Telford, a political science professor at UFV with an interest in constitutional rights. He said the suggestion of commiting offenders to drug treatment would likely lead to a Charter of Rights challenge. And while the current opioid epidemic could be argued as a “pressing and substantial problem” in the courts, there would be a series of tests to be passed before it could be enacted.
“Canada has a very sorry record on forcible detentions – residential schools, mentally disabled, forced sterilizations etc.,” he said. “We have come to deeply regret these kinds of measures, and I rather suspect the courts would not look favourably upon the measure proposed by Mr. Throness.”
There are seven points in the list focusing on health care improvements. The Progress sent that list to the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice for comment and recieved a reply from Dr. Ralph Jones. He underlined that he is only speaking for himself, not the division.
Jones said he appreciates innovative, 360 degree views of healthcare, and agrees the current system is “financially and socially unsustainable.”
He said some of Throness’s suggestions are “good starting points for conversations,” but that there needs to be wider input, lateral thinking and analysis. It’s not enough to study just the good points of other systems, he added, but to study those which need to be avoided.
One of the suggestions Throness lobbed out was to give notice to doctors who only bill MSP on a part-time basis that they would lose their billing number.
That is a suggestion that requires “a deeper dive,” Jones said.
“The proposed solution is a little simplistic,” he added, pointing out that 55 per cent of the graduating class are now women, and many choose part-time work during their child rearing years. The work they’re doing is essential to the health care system.
“Their part-time work is often particularly valuable in under-supported areas such as child and youth mental health, care of the mentally ill and socially disadvantaged,” Jones said. “What is needed in a community is a continuum of physician and nurse practitioner care, so that the entire spectrum of healthcare needs in the community can be met. The Division of Family Practice along with partners in the Health Authority and the Ministry are in the midst of this transformational change.”
The government should be looking to front line health care providers for the best knowledge of what is working, and what isn’t, he added.
“Progress in healthcare innovation in Canada has been described as a series of commissions and studies and little action,” he said. “Mine and others’ opinions are that such innovation is best developed at the service delivery level and then supported at higher levels of administration and leadership. Top-down directives often have unintentional consequences.”
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