1995 Legislative Session: 4th Session, 35th Parliament; Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (June 15, 1995)
A. Warnke: There are a couple of remarks I want to make, and I guess they’re based on the response to the minister’s opening statement on Bill 49 [the Royal Roads University Act]. Indeed, the opening statement by the minister suggests almost a lament that the federal government unilaterally closed Royal Roads, and therefore the provincial government somehow was left something to be dealt with.
I look at this entirely differently. It’s in that kind of context that I want to make one remark: military colleges — and all military colleges — unlike universities, are somewhat vulnerable or expendable. We have to be reminded that not only in Canada but throughout the world — certainly the western world — there was something called a peace dividend. The peace dividend did have an effect, insofar as it meant reallocating resources to the non-military sector that perhaps belonged formerly to the military sector. Not only in this country but in other countries as well, a transformation is going through in the military sector. Of course, what’s going to be affected by that are the various military colleges.
In the western world there have been some outstanding military colleges. Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England, certainly comes to mind; Sandhurst, of course; Cranwell; and in the United States, West Point and Annapolis. Actually, I visited the United States Air Force Academy several years ago. I have personal favourites: Fort Ord, California, and the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California, that I’m very familiar with.
All of these institutions and colleges have had to go through a transformation as a result of the peace dividend. Most people see that as a very positive thing. We’ve had distinguished schools and colleges in this country as well. Le College Militaire Royal de St. Jean in Quebec, the Royal Military College in Kingston and, of course, the Royal Roads Military College in Victoria. All of the colleges I’ve mentioned have had to go through an adjustment — minimally — as a result of the peace dividend.
Indeed, in the context of Royal Roads itself, it’s very important to reflect on a bit of history as well. The Naval Services Act, which established the Royal Canadian Navy in 1910 — and I believe Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the Prime Minister really responsible for that — led to the establishment of the Royal Naval College in Halifax the following year. We don’t want to go into the whole history, but as a result of World War I and one terrible incident in Halifax in 1917, it affected the college in Halifax and meant establishing, the following year, a college in Esquimalt on this side. In 1940, HMCS Royal Roads was commissioned. It’s had quite a history since then.
I want to draw attention to the fact that this has not been the first time that there has been some discussion as to the future of Royal Roads College. Indeed, I draw the House’s attention to the Landymore commission, which did attempt to articulate about the cost of training officers. This was back in the 1960s. The Landymore commission found that the cost of training officers was three times what it would cost to train the very same officers in some sort of university program with the ROTP. Nonetheless, the Landymore commission did conclude that the military colleges were cost-efficient. Another commission, the Glassco commission — which some members might remember — focused on the waste and inefficiency of the federal government. It did find that military colleges were not efficient according to the dollars spent. A Defence department advisory board, however, still supported colleges. This was in the context of the 1960s. It’s very fair to say that the reason military colleges are expendable, not only in Canada but throughout the world, is that in terms of dollars, they are cost-inefficient. As a result of what we would now dub the peace dividend, those colleges are naturally quite vulnerable.
Some people in the 1960s had the foresight to say that somewhere down the line, Royal Roads and other military colleges were going to have to face the prospect of some sort of transformation. Therefore, about 1969 or 1970, there was the suggestion that Royal Roads should be the site of a world college. Indeed, one of its proponents was General Allard, who was the chief of defence staff for Canada. It was a large thesis that essentially Canada was moving to where the allocation of resources in a military context may have been best reallocated somewhere else. Therefore we must have a new vision for Royal Roads.
To his credit… It may have been the wrong decision, but the commandant of Royal Roads at the time, Colonel Lewis, convinced Ottawa otherwise. It’s easy in retrospect to suggest that Colonel Lewis was wrong. On the other hand, as the commandant for Royal Roads at the time, he stuck up for the college.
It is very clear that in 1969 and 1970, the future of Royal Roads was beginning to be examined. Perhaps it’s a mistake that…. In retrospect, after seeing what has happened, perhaps Royal Roads should have been the site for what later became known as the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific. Indeed, that was suggested at the time. So with 20-20 hindsight, perhaps that should have been the future of Royal Roads. Eventually, with the coming of the peace dividend, it’s obvious that something had to happen with Royal Roads.
This is not new, and that is essentially the reason that I thought I would make my comments. This is not something to lament. This is not something that the federal government just somehow came up with from the upper clouds: this idea, in the era of cost-cutting, that they would unilaterally close Royal Roads. This issue as to the future of Royal Roads has been around for 25 years and more. In an ideal, perfect world, we would all like to support the idea of a military college. But time and time again it has been pointed out that in terms of moneys and government expenditures, they’re cost-inefficient and therefore vulnerable.
There is another argument that this is a sign of the times. It’s a great time in that in the era of the peace dividend, we can actually begin to shift some of our attention and resources from the military to the non-military sector. So be it. It’s in this kind of context that I would like to put forward the notion that instead of a lament that something went wrong, there is genuine cause here for extending enthusiastic support.
It’s not without some problems. One problem from the summary remarks of the minister can be put this way — that is, what is the impact of Royal Roads University on Camosun College in Victoria and, of course, on the University of Victoria itself? Within the greater Victoria area now, we have three institutions of degree-granting status. I think the way the minister has put out in the opening remarks that Royal Roads University is perhaps going to give us something different that Camosun College and the University of Victoria are not going to give us is fair enough. That’s heading in the right direction. For that matter, therefore, it is quite proper that we lend enthusiastic support in this particular direction.
There is another point I want to raise as well. The bill as it reads certainly can be supported, but I want to draw attention to one part of the bill, section 2(c). I know we can get it at committee stage, but it’s a point I would like to raise. The purpose of the university, according to 2(c), is to maintain teaching excellence and research activities — and that’s fine — that support the university’s programs in response to the labour market needs of British Columbia. There is nothing wrong with putting forward the phrase “labour market needs.” It is certainly a very good, noble goal to pursue, but to provide something that might have some implications, let’s say when the university draws up its calendar, I have suggested…. I would like the minister just to contemplate it and perhaps he’ll apply an amendment; it’s entirely up to him. I’m not going to make a big issue out of it.
In the original provincial news release entitled “Royal Roads University to Start Up in September,” the Minister of Skills, Training and Labour put it this way: “We have built a vision for Royal Roads University based on the recommendations we’ve received from the advisory panel…Royal Roads will offer contemporary professional mid-career graduate programs such as international business and marketing, environmental management and technology management.” Those three phrases — international business and marketing, environmental management and technology management — are something very constructive and positive. It’s something in that, somehow, and perhaps more.
I would say the university could certainly address socioeconomic needs, and that could be another phrase. If we could somehow ensure that that is in the context of this bill — to provide the university with the aspiration and the scope in a more general and comprehensive context in terms of developing its curriculum — it is something I would really support. Those are the two points I want to raise.
I certainly don’t lament the development of this kind of situation. Indeed, I think it is the only option. Maybe, in that context, the government might see itself in a regrettable situation. It may be the only option, but I think it’s a positive option that the government is pursuing here, and that’s the reason I think this is headed in the right direction. It is based on 25 years or more of consideration. This is nothing new in terms of establishing Royal Roads as a university, and I would hope that in passing this bill, we somehow not only lend enthusiastic support for the new university, but celebrate the fact that we have a new post-secondary institution in the province most worthy of its people.
1994 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 35th Parliament, Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (March 16, 1994)
J. Weisgerber: My question is to the Premier. Can the Premier explain why his government would refuse the offer of a lease at Royal Roads college for $1 when 30,000 students in British Columbia were turned away from post-secondary education this year because there were no spaces for them? Why in the world would the Premier not accept that offer and put those students into facilities next year?
Hon. M. Harcourt: I’m astounded that a vintage and new member of the Reform Party would want to see the only training facility for young Canadians to attend officers training west of Kingston closed down. Well, we don’t. We want to make sure that Royal Roads stays open for
western Canadians — young people in particular — to get an education in the military.
J. Weisgerber: Obviously the federal government has made a decision, whether we like it or not. It’s silly to hide your head in the sand and turn down the offer. Will the Premier not reconsider and take advantage of this opportunity to put kids into a good facility and avoid the
capital costs of building new schools?
Hon. M. Harcourt: Well, I can see why the new member of the Reform Party, who used to be with the Social Credit Party, would want to continue the view of Social Credit, which is to agree to more deficit and more off-loading by the federal government. This New Democratic government is going to stick up for British Columbians and not see more
off-loading and dumping of the federal deficit onto the people of British Columbia.
J. Weisgerber: It’s alarming to think that the Premier would save British Columbians any money by turning down a one-dollar lease on an existing facility and then turn around and build new capital structures to house students, which, surely to goodness, he plans to do one way or
another. Would the Premier not acknowledge that there is an asset there that can and should be used to house and train students, and will he not commit to do that today?
Hon. M. Harcourt: It is housing students. It is working with the University of Victoria, and the federal government is paying for it. Why does the new member of the Reform Party now want the people of B.C. to pick up the tax bill?
1988 Legislative Session: 2nd Session, 34th Parliament, Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (June 2, 1988)
MR. SIHOTA: I’m pleased to say that in my riding sits the Royal Roads Military College, which this year, interestingly, for the first time actually graduated women. In any event, in the gallery today are a number of students from Royal Roads. I wonder if the members of the House would join me in welcoming them here today.
MR. SIHOTA: I’ve just been handed a note, and in furtherance of my introduction I should indicate to the House the names of the six student officer cadets who are here from Royal Roads. Actually they’re from the College Militaire at St. Jean, but they’re taking an English-language training program at Royal Roads. In attendance are 17627 Officer Cadet Gino Ainsley (CMR 1991), 17125 Officer Cadet Dany Fortin (CMR 1991), 17696 Officer Cadet Rene Graveline (CMR RMC 1991), 17182 Officer Cadet Michel Larose (CMR 1985), 17708 Officer Cadet Sophie L’Italien (CMR 1991) and 17771 Officer Cadet Benedicte Therien (CMR RMC 1991). Joining them is Merry Connor, their instructor.