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Topic: Regional NewsThe new items published under this topic are as follows.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
British Columbia: Our home province election. Shock win keeps two tar sands pipelines afloat and fracking fully and uncritically supported
Jim comment: I'm too stunned and disheartened to comment on the results of yesterday's election here in British Columbia. I will have to stew in that vile pot for awhile before I can say anything coherent. Before I ponder the future here in our benighted province, at the moment I'm puzzling over why half the registered electorate didn't vote. Was the cause anomie or ennui? I dunna know. But if it is anomie, not ennui, we should witness growing civil disobedience in the years ahead.Posted at: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 03:15 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
As for those who did vote, I do agree somewhat with the defeated BC Conservative Party leader John Cummins who said "you can't begin to tell me that British Columbians chose the [BC] Liberal Party, when they can't keep their word to them. They didn't. They were running away from the [NDP]."
And I'm astounded that only one sitting Independent MLA was returned and only one Green Party candidate was elected. The four sitting Independents before dissolution were among the very best in the Legislature. And the Green Party (which had the most compassionate, thoughtful and forward-looking platform) saw a number of articulate, intelligent candidates who deserved to sit in the provincial house of deliberation go down to defeat.
Meanwhile, a few early dispatches.
BC Liberals pull off stunning election win, Greens pick up first ever seat
rabble staff rabble.ca Canada May 15, 2013
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The BC Liberals pulled off a stunning upset Tuesday, defeating the BC NDP to win a majority in the provincial election. As of this morning., the Liberals had won 50 seats to the NDP's 33.
One silver lining for the NDP is that Liberal leader Christy Clark was defeated in a close race by the NDP's David Eby, in the riding of Vancouver - Point Grey.
Andrew Weaver made history by winning a lone seat for the Green Party in the Vancouver Island riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head. Weaver becomes the first Green representative ever elected to the provincial legislature. One independent candidate, Vicki Huntington, won re-election in the riding of Delta South.
This is the fourth straight majority government won by the BC Liberals, who have held power in B.C. Since 2001.
Adrian Dix, 49, won re-election in his Vancouver Kingsway riding. As for the question of party leadership, Dix said that his party would discuss the matter in caucus and reach a democratic decision.
Preliminary election results are available at the Elections BC website. Results, by party, are as follows: BC Liberals 44.40 per cent, NDP 39.49 per cent, Green Party 8.01 per cent, Conservative Party of BC 4.8 per cent. ...
Election shows public mood now shifts 'in a matter of hours': Geller
Doug Ward TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada May 14, 2013 2300 hours
Michael Geller, the prominent real estate consultant and pundit, said the upset BC Liberal win shows that chattering classes are having less impact on voter intention.
"Isn't (it) wonderful that the pundits and the pollsters can no longer determine the outcome of an election," said Geller, who was one of the nearly 1,000 celebrants at the BC Liberal party in downtown Vancouver.
"In this case, it was the voters who decided. And none of us predicted this." ...
About the nature of polling today, Geller said that: "I think the reality is that today we no longer use land phone lines the same way. Social media has changed the way the public mood shifts.
"It used to shift in a matter of years, then in a matter of months. Now it shifts in a matter of hours."
For pollsters, an Alberta-sized mess
Tom Barrett TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada May 15, 2013
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It was a lousy night to be a pollster and a great night to be someone who thinks polls undermine democracy.
The pollsters got it wrong Tuesday: spectacularly, Alberta-sized wrong.
Not one published poll in the months before the election gave the BC Liberals a lead over the New Democratic Party. Instead of the six-to-nine percentage point NDP victory suggested by the province's big political pollsters, voters appear to have given the Liberals a comfortable five-point victory. ...
Did negative politics crush positive?
Tom Barrett TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada May 15, 2013
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It won't be hard to find people who will point to tonight's Liberal victory and claim that negative politics beat positive campaigning.
But the answer may be that a good campaign beat a bad one.
The incumbent Liberals waged an aggressive battle that focused on raising fears about job losses and New Democrat leader Adrian Dix's personal trustworthiness. The NDP, which had pledged a positive campaign, spent little time reminding voters of why the Liberals were so unpopular.
"It was a disastrous campaign and I felt that through most of the campaign," political scientist Hamish Telford said of the New Democrats' effort, which saw a 20-point lead in the polls turn into a five-point deficit when the ballots were counted.
"I thought the NDP was not campaigning effectively," said Telford, head of the political science department at the University of the Fraser Valley. "I thought that Adrian Dix was quite lacklustre in both the debates. But I thought the campaign was going to be good enough to succeed.
"Evidently it wasn't."
Telford said much of the credit must go to Premier Christy Clark.
"A lot of people are going to focus on the negativity of the Liberals, that they ran a very negative campaign with a lot of attacks," he said. "But I also believe it had a lot to do with the buoyant personality of Christy Clark. She's always upbeat, positive and optimistic."
Clark's ability to project optimism while knocking down the NDP -- combined with Dix's "charisma deficit" -- is what turned the tide, Telford said. ...
[Pollster Greg Lyle] said the Liberals won by turning the election from "a referendum on whether they were a perfect government into a referendum on whether or not Adrian Dix was a safe choice."
British Columbia Liberals' shock win keeps pipeline afloat
Agence France-Presse/globalpost France/USA May 15, 2013
British Columbia Liberals won an upset in the Canadian province's elections, officials said Wednesday, raising hopes for a pipeline from Canada's oil sands to the Pacific Coast for shipping to Asia. ...
The Northern Gateway pipeline would bring oil from neighboring Alberta province's tar sands to a new marine terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia.
Up to 220 supertankers each year would take on oil from it, one report estimated, but aboriginals and environmentalists oppose the terminal, saying tanker traffic poses risks to a pristine coastline that includes salmon-bearing rivers and the habitat of a rare white bear.
The plan gained momentum after the United States initially rejected TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline connecting the tar sands to Texas refineries.
The State Department is expected to make a final recommendation on the Keystone XL project to US President Barack Obama in the coming months.
Mulcair hopes to learn from BC NDP upset
QMI Agency/Sun News Canada May 15, 2013
OTTAWA - NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair says he'll study the collapse of the provincial NDP in Tuesday's British Columbia election to learn why things went off the rails so they're not repeated in the next federal election.
"There are always lessons to be learned from something like this and we are going to study it closely," he said about the surprise win for Christy Clark's Liberals after several pollsters counted her out and declared victory for NDP Leader Adrian Dix.
Mulcair described the outcome as a "bitter result" for his provincial cousins.
He rejected claims that voters panned what critics said was the NDP's anti-development and anti-oil platform.
"We want development but we insist it be sustainable development. We want more trade, but we want it to be reciprocal fair trade," he said.
Mulcair said his party supports a west-to-east oil pipeline over the Keystone XL line to Texas to create jobs in Canada, as long as it passes a credible environmental assessment.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The accomplishments, blunders and conflicts of 12 long years in office—BC Liberals: The Newsreel
They've run the province for 12 years. What've they been up to all that time? Here's the recap.Posted at: Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - 05:03 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
BC Liberals: The Newsreel
Chris Woods TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada May 4, 2013
This timeline contains embedded links.
Quick! Think of Christy Clark and the BC Liberals. What's your top-of-mind association or response?
We're betting it's something from the last few weeks of campaign and pre-campaign jousting.
But the Liberal Party of BC has run British Columbia for well over a decade now. Once upon a time it was the new gang in town.
We thought it might be refreshing to look back, waaay back before the last few weeks, at some of the accomplishments, blunders and conflicts of 12 long years in office.
This recollection is in no way meant to be scientific or comprehensive -- it was informed mostly by events that have made headlines over the government's long life, and suggestions from Tyee staff and contributors. But we think you'll enjoy (or something) the memories!
Think we've missed something major? Contribute your suggestions for new stops on the Liberal government's timeline in the comment thread below, preferably with a link to a news story that covered the event, and we'll add the top five suggestions to the timeline on Monday. ...
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
British Columbia's corporatist government only pretends to care about the weakest people in our society (as it enriches and polishes the CVs of its cronies and insiders)
Where does the money go?Posted at: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 02:36 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Norman Farrell Northern Insight British Columbia Canada December 18, 2012
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Two years ago, Attorney General Mike de Jong picked his predecessor to lead the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. Oppal was a safe choice politically, which is the reason BC Liberals made the appointment.
Let's not pretend they needed to pay millions to Oppal and friends to learn anything about missing and murdered woman. The BC Civil Liberties Association, Pivot Legal and countless social service agencies and aboriginal groups had been speaking to deaf ears about the issues for years.
Oppal's exercise was window dressing, aimed not at achieving results but pretending government cared about the weakest people in our society. The provincial government signed a 20-year RCMP contract with no significant change in local accountability, it fought against being accountable itself before the Davies inquiry into the Frank Paul homicide. In various actions, BC's provincial government has stood strong with police against victimized citizens.
However, for the handful of folks managing the Oppal commission, people who live in fine homes and drive fine cars, this was a real opportunity for personal achievement. There was money to be made. Big money.
We're left to wonder how an inquiry conducted by a very few people can cost $9 million or more in two short years. If we visit the website of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, we don't find any financial disclosures and today, in response to a question about cost of Oppal's epic, Minister of Justice Shirley Bond refused to answer. ...
Related: Province pledges fast implementation of Commission recommendations. Critics demand more action on racism, systemic problems.
'Colossal failure' by police on missing women: Oppal
David P. Ball TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada December 18, 2012
Hundreds of women flooded into Commissioner Wally Oppal's speech following the release of the missing women inquiry report, drumming, singing and heckling. Photo: David P. Ball
Bias and discrimination against Aboriginal women led to a "colossal failure" in the police investigation of serial killer Robert Pickton, according to British Columbia's long-anticipated report on missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
As Aboriginal and women's groups denied legal funding drummed at a vigil on the street -- as they did throughout the hearings -- inside Vancouver's Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Commissioner Wally Oppal released his report from the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (MWCI) today.
His recommendations include merging regional police departments into a single force, increasing funding for women's shelters and support services, and appointing a provincial "champion" of his report -- but critics complained he offered too few solutions to systemic problems. ...
Below: British Columbia in particular and Canada as a whole aren't doing very well when it comes to gender wage parity.
Premier Clark may pay price for lagging women's earnings in BC: Report author
Rachel Bergen TheTyee.ca, The Hook blog British Columbia Canada December 17, 2012
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Women who work in B.C. are earning comparably less than women in the rest of Canada and public policy is to blame, says a new report.
One person who may pay a big price for that is Premier Christy Clark, says the Simon Fraser University professor who authored the findings.
Economist Marjorie Griffin Cohen's report, just published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, compared earnings of all females in B.C., including full-time, part-time, and part-year workers with the Canadian average of that group.
"BC Disadvantage for Women: Earnings Compared with Other Women in Canada" also compares women's wages to men's in B.C. and in Canada and then discusses the ways in which B.C. has lagged in its support for working women, including: ...
In a Georgia Straight commentary, Griffin Cohen said, "In general, women have fared poorly under the governments of Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark, and many would have noticed this in their paychecks."
According to an Ipsos Reid poll, the BC New Democrats have a 33 point lead among women with 57 per cent support for Adrian Dix's NDP versus the 24 per cent support for Christy Clark's BC Liberals.
Griffin Cohen said Clark's focus on jobs and putting families first won't work without programs that address the issues of low pay. ...
Friday, December 14, 2012
Canada's food safety agency should protect public, not cover up virus infecting B.C.'s salmon farming industry
O Canada! Harper government contests the credibility of a DFO scientist and moves against PEI lab that reported ISA virus in B.C. salmonPosted at: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 06:44 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Salt Spring News British Columbia Canada November 25, 2012
Seven links. We introduced them thus:
The long, frightening list in the book of enemies authored by the Harper govenment continues to lengthen. On Friday we linked to the suppression of an acclaimed Arctic archaeologist's research and to the makeover of Canada's Museum of Civilization into the Canadian Museum of History which will promote the Conservative Party of Canada's ideological message (O, Canada! Harper government continues its attack on the sciences and humanities while trying to impose a false script on Canadians). Today we link to the attempt to discredit the University of Prince Edward Island Atlantic Veterinary College laboratory that revealed the prescence of an infectious virus in British Columbia salmon.
Food safety agency should protect public, nnot cover up virus for salmon farming industry
Damien Gillis The Common Sense Canadian Canada Last modified December 3, 2012
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The federal agency embroiled in the recent XL Meats tainted beef scandal is at it again - this time leading efforts to cover up a potentially catastrophic farmed salmon flu-like viral outbreak on BC's coast. Charged with ensuring your food is safe to eat, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) increasingly appears to be acting as a political arm of the Harper Government and an inept custodian of Canadian trade which will do our export business far more harm than good in the long run.
A little over a week ago, it became apparent that the CFIA is working hard to discredit and de-certify one of the two labs in the world recgonized by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) as experts in detecting a deadly salmon virus, known as ISAv. The lab in question, run out of Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of P.E.I. by Dr. Fred Kibenge, diagnosed the ISAv outbreak that devastated the Chilean aquaculture industry several years ago, causing $2 Billion in damage. Such is his scientific credibility that when the fish farm industry was experiencing unexplained losses of their fish in Chile in 2007, they went to Kibenge to test for ISAv.
Recently, Dr. Kibenge has been testing farmed and wild salmon samples from BC as he investigates a potential similar outbreak here. His findings were instrumental in forcing the re-opening of the Cohen Commission into disappearing sockeye last year, where he went before Justice Cohen as a key witness. That the Commission took Dr. Kibenge's testimony and research as seriously as it did - reflected in its ultimate findings released a month ago - should be of particular note to the CFIA as they attack his lab and credibility.
During the same judicial proceedings, internal emails revealed these CFIA senior staff acting, as the Commission's lead lawyer suggested, more like hockey players high-fiving each other after beating their opponent than scientists and civil servants serious about getting to the bottom of a viral mystery which threatens the environment and economy of BC - even the salmon farms themselves.
The emails followed the telephone press conference the CFIA hosted to rebuke the first discovery of ISAv in wild salmon on BC's coast by independent salmon biologist Alexandra Morton and SFU Professor Rick Routledge. I was on that call and appalled by the lengths they went to dismiss and discredit this groundbreaking new finding. I asked the CFIA's spokespeople where the Precautionary Principle fit in their approach. Evidently it receives nowhere near the prominence Justice Cohen accords it. ...
Those in the way may end up in jail
Norman Farrell Northern Insight British Columbia Canada December 7, 2012
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When the Cohen Commission was holding hearings in Vancouver, I attended. It was not a happy or satisfying experience. The most unsettling single observation was of government scientist — a person known for opinions that challenge Ottawa's papal view — being closely escorted by security personnel.
They made certain there was no engagement with non-approved audience members. That highly educated and very well respected person was held on a tight leash because the entire event was not about science or fact-finding. It was about reinforcing positions that served objectives of bureaucrats who've never soiled their shoes with sea water.
A forum aimed at extracting truth from controversy should not have been a place where witnesses were intimidated by squadrons of lawyers and security personnel and legions of industry executives and flacks. Now, the Harper Government is moving to silence other scientists that hold inconvenient views.
Today, this arrived in my mail box. It's worth republishing.
An important note from Alexandra Morton:
Last December, my lawyer Greg McDade made a prediction that was recorded in the Cohen Commission testimony - that within 12 months the federal government would attempt to strip the lab I am using to test for ISA virus of its international status.
He was right. They are trying.
In response I went back to the wealth of information Justice Cohen and his Counsel Brock Martland gave us on ISA virus in BC and laid out what is known to the Director General of the Organization of International Epizootics (OIE).
7 labs have detected ISA virus in BC, 4 of them are federal government labs, whose results have been hidden, muzzled or misrepresented in government communications. ...
British Columbia: Fracking fraud
Fracking fraudPosted at: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 06:42 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Norman Farrell Northern Insight British Columbia Canada December 10, 2012
Visit this page for its embedded links.
In Fissures appear in scientists’ assurances about safety of fracking, Globe and Mail writer Mark Hume describes how industry used the work of Charles Groat, of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, to discount concerns about the safety of fracking.
“Now a review panel appointed by the University of Texas has taken a hard look at Dr. Groat’s report, and has concluded his study “fell short of contemporary standards for scientific work.
StateImpact, a reporting project involving NPR, provides more detail about the science-for-hire expert who came to Vancouver to reassure British Columbians about the safety of intensive fracking in north-east energy fields. ...
Related: Fracking our food supply: Energy policy and food independence may be at odds with each other
Salt Spring News British Columbia Canada November 30, 2012
Healthy cattle on the Schilke ranch in North Dakota, before fracking began.
Fracking our food supply
Elizabeth Royte The Nation USA Webposted November 28, 2012
This article was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an investigative reporting nonprofit focusing on food, agriculture and environmental health.
In a Brooklyn winery on a sultry July evening, an elegant crowd sips rosé and nibbles trout plucked from the gin-clear streams of upstate New York. The diners are here, with their checkbooks, to support a group called Chefs for the Marcellus, which works to protect the foodshed upon which hundreds of regional farm-to-fork restaurants depend. The foodshed is coincident with the Marcellus Shale, a geologic formation that arcs northeast from West Virginia through Pennsylvania and into New York State. As everyone invited here knows, the region is both agriculturally and energy rich, with vast quantities of natural gas sequestered deep below its fertile fields and forests.
In Pennsylvania, the oil and gas industry is already on a tear—drilling thousands of feet into ancient seabeds, then repeatedly fracturing (or “fracking”) these wells with millions of gallons of highly pressurized, chemically laced water, which shatters the surrounding shale and releases fossil fuels. New York, meanwhile, is on its own natural-resource tear, with hundreds of newly opened breweries, wineries, organic dairies and pastured livestock operations—all of them capitalizing on the metropolitan area’s hunger to localize its diet.
But there’s growing evidence that these two impulses, toward energy and food independence, may be at odds with each other.
Tonight’s guests have heard about residential drinking wells tainted by fracking fluids in Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Colorado. They’ve read about lingering rashes, nosebleeds and respiratory trauma in oil-patch communities, which are mostly rural, undeveloped, and lacking in political influence and economic prospects. The trout nibblers in the winery sympathize with the suffering of those communities. But their main concern tonight is a more insidious matter: the potential for drilling and fracking operations to contaminate our food. The early evidence from heavily fracked regions, especially from ranchers, is not reassuring. ...
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Buy local, Vancouver British Columbia: New program designed to connect local businesses with other local businesses, as well as customers
"This is not a marketing fad," [Louise Schwartz, owner of Recycling Alternative] finally says. "It's a model for running a business that's anchored in its community. It's an operating strategy to reclaim our economy, reclaim our jobs, reclaim our supply chains and production lines." - Luke Brocki reportingPosted at: Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - 12:19 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Join us in celebrating Buy Local Week
Michelle Hoar TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada December 3, 2012
Tyee's . Photo of LOCO BC's Jan. 2012 Mixer, hosted at Salt Spring Coffee's Vancouver roastery, by Sarah Dent. Visit this page for its embedded links.
Are you a locally owned business looking to tell your story through an innovative advertising initiative that speaks to just the kind of customers and collaborators you are seeking?
Are you a customer of local businesses that you love and want to tell everyone about?
Then read on and learn how The Tyee is partnering with LOCO BC and Vancity to strengthen the ties that bind our local economy.
Imagine: if we shifted just 10 per cent of our household spending to local businesses, we could create $6 billion in local economic activity in B.C. That's not chump change. Or look at it another way: buying local can keep up to four times the money in the economy compared to shopping at chains.
Now -- right in time for the Province of B.C.'s and City of Vancouver's joint proclamations of Buy Local Week -- we take our long-held belief in the importance of local into an innovative advertising partnership with LOCO BC and Vancity. ...
Beautiful relationships: How five local enterprises thrive together
Luke Brocki i TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada December 5, 2012
First in an occasional series.
The setting is a warehouse in an industrial park in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond. We're surrounded by big burlap sacks of green coffee beans, stacked several pallets high. The air warms up and sweetens as we approach the roaring roaster. Now and then a circular cooling tray spits hot brown beans into buckets while the machine's young operators consult nearby computer screens. My tour guide is Salt Spring Coffee president and CEO Mickey McLeod. He's wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a dark grey sweater over a blue shirt. His upper lip is hidden by a bushy Movember handlebar moustache. He says his company's sales were up 12 per cent to some $9 million last fiscal year. And that it couldn't have happened without nurturing local business connections.
McLeod is hardly the first to plant his flag in the "go local" camp. In recent years, I've heard this mantra from entrepreneurs and investors, consumers and politicians, not-for-profits and academics. Supporting local businesses is a good way to kick-start innovative and resilient local economies, the story goes. Advocates insist localism creates jobs and piles up tax dollars, builds communities and protects the environment. It could even -- no big deal or anything -- lay the groundwork for world peace. And here I am still buying Christmas presents at Wal-Mart like a jerk.
"All of this sounds great, but..."
"Does the do-gooder part actually make business sense?" McLeod interrupts, sensing my skepticism.
"Exactly," I say as we move away from the heat and noise of the roaster.
"At the end of the day, you're building a family. And when you have a family, they're gonna help you," he says. "It's about keeping as much of the economy as we can here."
"Except coffee doesn't grow here," I murmur.
"Yes, we're buying our coffee abroad," McLeod says with a shrug. "But the value of coffee does spread quite wide, and it's a great vehicle for messaging community value, social value. And we really want to work with people that have similar values."
McLeod's value checklist includes ethical sourcing, running modern equipment, auditing energy use, buying carbon offsets and recycling. As such, he buys his shipping boxes from Great Little Box, a packaging producer on nearby Mitchell Island; his branded promotional schwag from Fairware, a supplier based in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood; and his composting and recycling services from Vancouver's Recycling Alternative. They're pricier than national or multinational brands, but McLeod trusts them because they audit their supply chains to make sure their businesses are not only profitable, but also ethical and sustainable.
"You want to get good value but you also want to make sure you're getting support and partnerships," he says. "If you go away, you're giving your money to some large shareholder in another part of the world." ...
Monday, July 9, 2012
People fighting back in British Columbia: Urban agriculture; local currency
Big step for big city farmingPosted at: Monday, July 09, 2012 - 07:34 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Colleen Kimmett TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada July 9, 2012
SOLEfood's new downtown Vancouver site grows food, jobs and the business case for urban agriculture. 'This is not a token thing. This is a real amount of food.' SOLEfood Urban Farm's two-acre operation in the heart of Vancouver, BC. Photo: Colleen Kimmett
Nearly 3,000 rectangular planter boxes, which stand out in varying shades of green and brown against a concrete parking lot, make for an impressive sight when viewed from high above on the Georgia Street viaduct.
Situated on Pacific Boulevard between the busy overpass, BC Place Stadium, and the bustling seawall at False Creek, SOLEfood Urban Farm's newest (and, at two acres, its largest) site is a highly-visible sign that urban agriculture has arrived in Vancouver.
Down below, SOLEfood co-founder Michael Ableman walks between the rows pointing out the crops: bok choy, eight types of kale and a new variety of strawberries bred in France that they're trying out.
"Most of what people refer to as urban agriculture is a step up from community gardens," says Ableman. "This is not a token thing. This is a real amount of food."
Ableman and business partner Seann Dory have been plotting the expansion since they launched their first farm on a half-acre lot beside the Astoria Hotel on East Hastings Street.
Considering that all of Vancouver's existing urban farms -- all 2.3 acres of them, according to a 2010 census -- would just about fit on SOLEfood's Pacific Boulevard site, the expansion is significant for the city's local food scene. It's also a test of the financial viability of this type of social enterprise model, which has strong ties to the Downtown Eastside community where it grew up. ...
Michael Ableman lives with his family on Foxglove Farm on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. His website is here. On the site, he writes in part:
In the midst of one of the busiest planting seasons I can remember both here at Foxglove Farm and at SOLEfood in Vancouver, I took some time to do a radio interview with New Zealand's national radio.
I am fascinated by the overwhelming interest these days in all things related to Urban Agriculture. When I founded the Center For Urban Agriculture in the early 1980's most folks thought that urban and agriculture were a contradiction of terms. Now everyone is talking about it. Even with this surge of interest there are few significant urban production farms in North America.
With our expansion to close to 5 acres in the city of Vancouver SOLEfood is fulfilling both its social goals of employing folks who have not had access to meaningful work and its agricultural goals by becoming a substantial economic model.
This interview touches on the challenges and the possibilities for the future of this movement. Enjoy it and let us know what you think. - Michael Ableman, June 4, 2012
Radio New Zealand interview with Michael Ableman | May 23, 2012 [Live link]
Planting the Seedstock, Vancouver's new currency
Justin Ritchie TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada July 6, 2012
Visit this page for its embedded links and video (3:02).
Several decades ago, in a world threatened by financial failure, one B.C. community found a way to cope by allowing locals to issue mutual credit to each other in a way that drove business activity in hard times.
Now, lessons learned in the Comox Valley and other communities around the world are the foundation for a revised model that's on the verge of launching in Vancouver, with the aim of strengthening local economies.
By using non-profits to accelerate the distribution of a new community money between citizens and businesses, the Vancouver Seedstock seeks to make a big-city breakthrough for a local currency model that has so far been confined to smaller communities.
"In Vancouver we have a tremendous amount of wasted human and material resources," says Jordan Bober, one of the currency's co-creators. "We have many incredibly talented people who could be making valuable contributions to the economy but they're not -- they are underemployed or mis-employed because the money isn't flowing for what they do."
Michael Linton felt that tension too. He started a currency in the Comox Valley after a significant economic downturn in the late 1980s, a project that has since stalled. And Bober's first attempt at creating a currency, the Dunbar Dollar, found little traction in Vancouver's affluent Dunbar neighbourhood.
Despite the challenges, the two have now teamed up with the hopes of creating a lasting community currency in Vancouver -- this time with the goal of expanding local food production and alleviating underemployment. ...
Related: Just five banks hold 85% of the UK’s money, and these five banks are steered by just 78 board members whose decisions shape the UK economy. This is a huge amount of power concentrated in very few hands, with next to no transparency or accountability to wider society.
"BANKING VS DEMOCRACY: How Power Has Shifted from Parliament to the Banking Sector"
Positive Money UK June 28, 2012
This page links to the report (33-page PDF).
Whenever major decisions are taken about the future of the UK, news cameras will be aimed at reporters standing in front of Parliament. But is Parliament really where the key decisions are being made today, or has power shifted down the river to London’s financial sector, the City?
This new report from Positive Money finds a banking system that has more ‘spending power’ than the democratically elected government, no accountability to the people, and a massive concentration of power in the hands of a few individuals.
However, the greatest concern is that government has surrendered one of its most important powers—the power to create money and control the money supply— to the private sector, which has exploited this power to blow up housing bubbles and indirectly transfer wealth upwards and inwards, with disastrous results. There has been no democratic debate about this transfer of power, and no law actively sanctions the current set-up.
As the last few years have shown, the banking sector can have a serious negative impact on our lives. Leaving it with such a huge and unaccountable degree of power is no more likely to work in the best interests of society or democracy in the future than it has in the past.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Made on Haida Gwaii: Strong communities working for environmental justice
This is the sixth installment of the rabble.ca 'Made on Haida Gwaii' feature series, by writer April Diamond Dutheil. " Each week we showcase the story of a talented young person who calls Haida Gwaii home. In this vast country, our major urban centres tend to soak up most of the attention. This collection of success stories, about young people living on these beautiful but remote islands off the Pacific coast, aims to disrupt the dominant myths of what it means to grow up in Canada's North."Posted at: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - 09:53 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Made on Haida Gwaii: Strong communities working for environmental justice
April Diamond Dutheil rabble.ca Canada July 3, 2012
Visit this page for its embedded links.
This was the best place to grow up," says Valine Crist, 27, who recently moved home to Haida Gwaii after spending ten years studying, working and traveling. "It was magnificent to spend weekends berry picking and camping," she continues, "Nothing can compare to the comforts and securities of Haida Gwaii."
Having earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, Valine will soon complete a Master's degree in Anthropology from the University of Victoria. Capturing the current realities faced by British Columbia's coastal communities, Valine's research is timely and cutting-edge. Her thesis examines how communities come together against threats of large-scale development projects.
Passionate about ecological sustainability and motivated to understand how people interact with the environment Valine notes that, "On Haida Gwaii we have a very strong connection to our home - understanding, appreciating and valuing this has influenced my identity and my values," she says. ...
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Celebrate! Celebrate! Today is the opening of British Columbia's Pacific Spot Prawn by trap fishery
Shrimp boats is a-comin'
- "Shrimp Boats" written by Paul Mason Howard and Paul Weston. Recorded by Jo Stafford in 1951.
Pandalus platyceros is a shrimp of the genus Pandalus. Spot shrimp are a large shrimp found in the North Pacific. The commercial spot prawn fishery along the British Columbia coast is considered sustainable and provides the largest landed value to the BC shrimp fishery.
Selected Shrimps of British Columbia
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Canada Last modified March 7, 2011
Prawn or Spot Shrimp (Pandalus platyceros)
This species is the largest of the local shrimps with large females exceeding 23 cm in total length. Its body colour is usually reddish brown or tan, with white horizontal bars on the carapace, and distinctive white spots on the first and fifth abdominal segments. ...
At times, juveniles have been observed on muddy bottoms, but adults normally live in rocky crevices and under boulders. The prawn ranges throughout the northern Pacific from Unalaska to San Diego, California, and from the Sea of Japan to Korea Strait. Commercial trap fishing is carried on all along the British Columbia coast. Although the fact is not obvious from statistical records, the prawn now ranks first in landed value in the shrimp fishery. The most popular sport trapping grounds are located in the Strait of Georgia and in southern mainland inlets. ...
Salt Spring Island has its share of commercial prawn hunters but many Salt Spring Islanders regularly set a few traps for personal use during the season. Those who don't can buy fresh prawns at the docks or along the roadside when in season. Spot prawns are a part of our community culture.
A well-managed and sustainable fishery that provides food to international and domestic markets. An important component in the economic success of the province and a vital element in the social fabric of coastal communities in British Columbia, providing income and jobs in local economies. Spot prawns are the largest of the seven commercial species of shrimp in British Columbia (BC) waters.
Today is the opening day of the season this year for the fishery. The season usually runs until July.
The spot prawn—one of the myriad prawn species, but in a league of its own—season kicks off with the original festival (False Creek Fisherman's Wharf, Vancouver, May 5 this year, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m) followed by other festivals throughout the province.
The BC spot prawn fishery began prior to 1914, but did not reach prominence until the late 1970’s. There are 252 licensed commercial prawn vessels in BC. BC spot prawns are among the most desirable and sought after cold water prawns in the world.
Prawns frozen at sea are exported to premium international markets. Live prawns are shipped daily to domestic markets.
Voice of the commercial Spot Prawn fishery in British Columbia
This website is under development.
According to a report by the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, the commercial fishing industry contributes more to the BC economy in terms of employment, wages and benefits and GDP than aquaculture and tidal recreational angling combined.
The spot prawn fishery is one of the most valuable commercial fisheries in BC and the most valuable shellfish industry. The gross value of the fishery varies between $45 and $50 million.
The spot prawn fishery is dominated by small businesses owned by individuals from all areas of the coast. More than 84% of prawn licence holders live in smaller coastal communities outside of major metropolitan areas.
The spot prawn fishery provides valuable jobs and incomes in BC coastal communities.
A Well Managed Fishery
The spot prawn fishery is managed to a biological reference point which is the number of remaining females available for spawning. This reference point is called the spawner index. Once the number of female prawns in a trap drops below the spawner index threshold, the local area is closed to fishing to achieve conservation and sustainability.
Eleven industry-funded, DFOapproved observers monitor the fishery and collect information daily on the abundance of stock. As part of this program approximately 27,000 trap samples are taken each year.
Unlike many prawn fisheries hroughout the world that deploy bottom trawl gear, the BC prawn fleet uses trap gear. Trap gear is far more selective, which means there is minimal incidental catch (often referred to as bycatch), and has significantly less impact on the marine habitat.
Regulations restrict the number of traps that can be fished by a commercial prawn vessel and vessels are only allowed to haul their traps once per day. In addition, minimum size limits for prawns are in place and large mesh traps help reduce the capture of undersize prawns, resulting in low mortality.
These measures combine to help ensure the commercial fishery is conducted in a sustainable manner. The result has been the long term conservation of the prawn resource and a fishery and seafood product that is widely recognized as sustainable and well-managed.
Spot prawns: A West Coast treasure
Mia Stainsby Vancouver Sun/The Province British Columbia Canada May 2, 2012
This item includes some recipes.
This week, you might see chefs around town with Cheshire smiles and maybe even leaping and clicking their heels.
Why? The spot prawn season begins tomorrow at high noon. This West Coast specialty intoxicates the minds of chefs.
"It's one of those times when everything clicks," says Lee Humphries, possibly referring to the sound of chefs' heels. As chef de cuisine at C seafood restaurant, this makes his heart palpitate.
Nothing says West Coast seafood as elegantly as spot prawns. There's a certain elegance in spot prawn biology, too. In a move called sequential hermaphroditism, they start life as males and in their last year (about the third year), they turn into females to lay some 2,000 to 4,000 eggs. The advantage of the gender shift isn't clearly understood even by the David Suzuki Foundation, but personally, I can see many benefits.
"It's one of those things in nature, not uncommon in the fish world," says Steve Johansen, prawn fisher extraordinaire.
Humphries will be at the dock when Johansen's fish boat (Organic Ocean) arrives with its first spot prawn delivery at False Creek Fishermen's Wharf.
"It's an exciting time. We get our first delivery within 20 minutes of harvest. It's unique. We'll get the first of the season," he says. "Hopefully, we'll be serving them at our dinner service."
Johansen has welcomed media and chefs aboard his fishing boat to see sustainable fisheries in action. (He upgraded to a fast boat that can do 30 knots to enable a quick dayboat turnaround.)
He loves to eat them raw, right out of the trap. "I probably eat two pounds a day. One day, David Suzuki came with us. He probably ate 10 pounds," he says.
A chef who knows of the intricacies of seafood, Hidekazu Tojo of Tojo's Japanese restaurant, explains spot prawn protocol in his restaurant. On the day of the catch, he'll lightly boil or steam them and serve them with a dipping sauce (½ cup dark soy sauce, ¼ cup rice vinegar, ½ teaspoon sesame oil, green onions). On the second day, the prawns are at their sweetest. That's when he'll use them as sashimi. And on the third day, they're destined to be prawn cakes.
The prawns, if treated well, and flash-frozen, are low-maintenance and can be eaten off season. "Quality is the same," Tojo says.
Some 90 per cent of West Coast spot prawns have historically been shipped to Japan. "In Japan, it's very expensive," he says. "It's five to eight dollars per prawn. It's a luxury item."
In the last year or so, however, China has fallen head over heels for them, too. "What concerns us and the chefs is that we'll be priced out of the market because China is paying huge money," says Johansen. "China's got money and all of a sudden sustainability is becoming a catchword. They're looking for clean ocean seafood. ...
Eight spot prawn recipes. Yum!
Do a web search on Pacific Spot Prawns and you will find a lot more recipes.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Council considering: Poised to join Salt Spring Island and others in BC, the City of Richmond debates opposing the cultivation of GMO crops and plants within its bounderies
This file photo from 2006 shows the Steves Farm, the last farm in the residential area of Richmond is still home to Harold and Kathy Steves. Every morning the cattle head to the pastures. Here Harold heads the cattle across the dike to pastures. Photo: Ian Smith/Vancouver Sun files. Harold Steeves operates the family farm in Steveston with his wife Kathy, raising pure bred Belted Galloway cattle. He also assists his son Jerry operate a ranch in Cache Creek, B.C. The Steves family is one of Richmond's first founding families, after which the community of Steveston is named. Manoah and Martha Steves were the first settlers in the area, arriving in 1877. Harold Steves is a current and long term city councillor in Richmond, British Columbia. Harold Steeves is the Chair of Agriculture for Metro Vancouver and is promoting farmland preservation, urban agriculture and food security for the region.
Richmond poised to take stand on genetically modified crops
Randy Shore Vancouver Sun British Columbia Canada April 10, 2012
The City of Richmond is poised to join a growing number of B.C. municipalities that oppose the cultivation of genetically modified crops and plants within their boundaries.
A resolution has been working its way through city hall since June 2010, when Arzeena Hamir of the Richmond Food Security Society and April Reeves of GE Free B.C. pitched councillors on proposed wording that would keep Richmond free of genetically engineered trees, plants and crops.
"We got a call a few days ago from city staff saying they are finally ready to write the report," said Hamir. "It's been lost in the legal department for nearly two years, but the resolution is expected to come to council in May."
Richmond councillor Harold Steves said staff were struggling with the question of how to deal with several farmers in Richmond already growing GE corn.
Opponents say crops such as canola that are engineered to survive pesticide applications lead to excessive use of chemical weed controls. They also worry that engineered genetic material will mix with conventional and organic crops and that foods made with the products of genetically engineered soy and corn may generate unforeseen allergic reactions in consumers.
If Richmond council passes a resolution opposing genetically engineered crops it would join a growing patchwork of B.C. municipal governments to have taken the step.
Powell River, Salt Spring Island, Kaslo, Rossland and Nelson have already passed resolutions opposing the cultivation of genetically modified crops — often known as genetically modified organisms or GMOs — within their boundaries.
The Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee last year resolved to seek a ban on GE crops and directed District of Saanich staff to explore the issue. Anti-GMO pitches have also been made in Campbell River, and Comox, according to GE Free B.C. spokesman Tony Beck. ...
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Looking at foreign workers in British Columbia: The Chinese in the coal mines; Mexicans and Central Americans in the greenhouses, orchards and vineyards
Will Chinese labour dig BC coal?Posted at: Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 05:28 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Ben Christopher TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada February 14, 2012
Underground economy: United Steelworkers rep claims Chinese mining operations have a dark safety record. Visit this page for its embedded links.
... When Christy Clark unveiled her B.C. Jobs Plan last September, the import for the province's mining industry was unmistakable. A largely hands-off approach to job creation, the premier's strategy promised a streamlined regulatory process for major mining projects, large-scale infrastructure spending at coal ports in both Delta and Prince Rupert, and the opening of eight new mines and the expansion of nine more by 2015. Pointing to the copper mining town of Princeton during a speech before the Vancouver Board of Trade, Clark painted a picture of the province's economic future. ...
Not everyone was convinced. In a letter written to the Vancouver Sun the following month, labour lawyer and aspiring NDP MLA candidate Sarbjit (Bobby) Deepak explained that Asian trade and investment, the so-called "China Effect," had not improved things in his hometown of Prince George. "We need more funding and a definitive plan for apprenticeship and skills training in the resource sector, especially with a call to open eight new mines and expand nine others," wrote Deepak. "Who will fill these positions?" he asked, before suggestively pointing to HD Mining's plan to bring over 92 foreign workers.
Picking up on the story the same day, blogger and freelance writer Laila Yuile was incensed. Condemning the premier's jobs plan as "a big non-vision for defending and creating jobs," Yuile went on to accuse Clark of "selling" the province to China.
Clark had in fact promised to be "the chief salesperson for our province" during her Board of Trade speech and it was in that role that she traveled to China last November. From Beijing the premier enthusiastically re-announced the plans of Shougang, Kailuan, and Canadian Dehua to develop two projects in the Peace region. Despite strong opposition to the Gething project by the West Moberly First Nations band, Clark was confident that both projects would proceed in due time. The price tag attached to the deal was $1.36 billion. The promised job count: over 6,700.
In response, organized labour chimed in last December. Decrying Chinese mining operations as inherently unsafe, Stephen Hunt of the United Steelworkers called for an extensive inquiry into the mining safety standards of any Chinese-owned mining company operating in the province. A few weeks later, Hunt raised the issue of temporary foreign workers specifically, claiming that they would be in no position to complain about any health, safety, or contractual violations of their employer.
But like it or not, foreign workers will inevitably play a role in the province's mining industry over the coming decades. That's according to David Bazowski, chair of the B.C. Mineral Exploration and Mining Labour Market Task Force. Established over three years ago by the federal government and now sponsored by the province and various industry groups, the task force is charged with investigating ways to address the growing shortage of skilled labour in the province's mining industry. ...
Below: BC farmers fending off organizers have two cards to play: decent conditions, and the power to blacklist workers.
Guest workers weigh risks when unions approach
Justin Langille TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada February 15, 2012
Right: Harvesting grapes is a hands-on process. BC winemakers rely on temporary workers.
... Night settles over the Okanagan as I knock on the door of an apartment at Lual Orchards, in Oliver, B.C. I've arrived unannounced and there's a brief commotion beyond the door before it opens. Inside I find two of the flat's tenants washing dishes after dinner, while two more relax on couches, engrossed in Terminator 2's spectacular cinematic cyborg battles.
By arrangement, I'm with Sandra Martinez, a regional representative of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union's Agricultural Workers Alliance (UFCW) -- a farm labour organizer. Martinez knows these workers, and her introduction gets me an invitation to sit at their table and a glass of sweet pink hibiscus flower juice.
They've travelled early in the season from homes in the western coastal state of Michoacán in Mexico to prune and prepare peach, nectarine and cherry trees for the year. They're the first jobs of a season-long contract that will help some of them pay for the land they're buying back home, or the education they want their children to receive. A couple of them have worked as labourers in the U.S. and Ontario. But they're happiest here in B.C., they say.
Their boss pays above-average wages, provides a fully furnished apartment with cable and gives them the day off when poor weather moves in, all things that matter to them. Some men who stayed late in the season last year were invited to join the farm owner's family for Thanksgiving dinner. When Geraldo lost his sister back in Michoacán, he was allowed time off for a visit home.
Certainly they have other wishes. Some would like their B.C. health care extended to family at home in Mexico, or the option to become permanent residents of Canada someday. But on the whole, they're content. "We have always been treated like we should be treated," Luiz tells me.
They might consider joining Martinez's union if their relations with their boss were worse, but their employer gives them everything already, they reason. He lends them the truck to go to church. They have good communication. With such a good employer, they tell me they are neither for nor against the union, but for themselves. "It's not conveniente," they tell me.
"They know of course, if they do something against the employer, they'll be sent back home. That's one of the main reasons organizing isn't very successful right now," I'm told later by Martinez, who says that conditions vary for temporary agricultural workers in B.C. ... There's no law preventing agricultural workers, migrant or domestic, from unionizing in B.C. But only about 20 migrant workers at Floralia Growers, and 40 others at Sidhu and Sons Nurseries, retain collective agreements today, Martinez's union says. ...
With these contests over fieldworkers in mind, this spring I boarded a Greyhound bus bound for Penticton to meet some actual Okanagan orchard and vineyard workers, and hear what they had to say. In particular, I wanted to know if they agreed with the UFCW and some academic researchers, that only collective bargaining can ensure the rights of migrant workers in B.C. are protected. ...
Below: In the second part of his report, Justin Langille reveals: Away from fields, the UFCW finds other ways to connect with temporary farm workers. Its support offices buzz.
Creating centres for migrants' universes
Justin Langille TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada February 16, 2012
... The intersection of King George Boulevard and 72nd Avenue in Surrey is a hub of activity on a sunny Saturday morning in June. Traffic flows steadily in and out of adjacent strip malls. The CIBC branch on the corner is busy, but the Surrey Agricultural Workers Alliance (AWA) office housed above the bank is busier still.
We are buzzed in through a locked side door and walk up two flights of stairs into a room full of urgent conversation. Men relay work issues and personal concerns to volunteers or chief organizer Raul Gatica, who sports a beret and minds the room while talking on the phone. Others sit with arms crossed, waiting for counsel.
Most of the migrant farm workers here today are filing Canadian income tax returns from last year's work in B.C. They want cash from the return, but they also want "everything to be the way it's supposed to be," says Irma, a visiting accountant. An unblemished tax record is an assurance for them, another reason to be allowed back to work in B.C. next year, she tells us. These men might drop in again to apply for parental benefits (an EI benefit workers are entitled to receive while they work), or for advice in resolving a dispute with their employer before the season is over.
Gatica and his volunteers operate the centre, but the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union funds it.
Diego, a tall, brawny man in his mid-30s from the western Mexican state of Nayarit remembers helping to arrange the furniture in the centre when Gatica and the UFCW first opened in 2009. For him, Gatica and the centre are invaluable resources. If anyone on his farm became ill or had an accident, they would come here first.
"We know that we can find support in him," says Diego. ...
The altruism of the UFCW's outreach centres doesn't escape criticism from employers.
AWA centres provide free services, but the British Columbia Agriculture Council (BCAC) says the union's motivations are financial.
"Their goal is to get [workers] away from the consulate, to be their representative and charge them dues," Rhonda Driediger, chair of the BCAC says of the UFCW, over the phone from her family's berry farm near Langley.
"They don't exist for nothing. Somebody has to pay the bills and the salaries and everything else, and the only way that's done is through union dues."
Driediger admits foreign workers have been a boon to B.C. farmers, who provide airfare, housing (with a maximum rent of $632 for a whole contract stay) and a standard wage ($9.28 in 2010) in exchange for predictable labour costs and a flexible workforce. That's why the BCAC works with the Mexican consulate to address worker needs and ensure employers are following guidelines, she says. In her opinion, third-party advocates like the UFCW aren't necessary. ...
Earning dues from B.C. migrant workers may not matter to the UFCW, but in its national campaign to unionize migrant workers, B.C. is "critical," [Stan Raper, national coordinator of the AWA] says.
Ontario employs the majority of migrant farm workers in Canada, but on April 29 the Supreme Court of Canada decided in favour of a law restricting farm workers, domestic and migrant, from collective bargaining -- despite a UFCW challenge. "In provinces where workers have the right to join a union and bargain collectively, we need to make sure we're moving those pieces," says Raper. ...
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Among the reasons people are protesting in Western Axis countries: In British Columbia yet another hint of corrupt incompetence
A gov't that can't find money to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities comes up with $30 million to keep potentially damaging evidence from being heard in court. Then there is crony captialism at BC Ferries and anti-citizen backroom deals and corrupt process at BC Hydro—large or small, it just goes on and on.Posted at: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 01:56 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
From our desk dictionary:
1 : not legally qualified
2 : inadequate to or unsuitable for a particular purpose
Thanks to BC Mary at The Legislature Raids for pointing us to the following first two items.
$30 million keeps Liberal mine deal out of court
Michael Smyth The Province British Columbia Canada October 24, 2011
To hear Energy Minister Rich Coleman describe it, paying a $30-million settlement to a mining company for blocking the company’s claim to a uranium deposit is no big deal.
But the opposition NDP has a different view of the astonishing deal with Boss Power that burned B.C. taxpayers to a crisp: It’s hush money, they say, to protect Liberal politicians.
Now the NDP are demanding answers — and an apology.
“Saying, ‘I’m sorry, we broke the law, and it cost taxpayers $30 million’ — that would be a start,” said NDP energy critic John Horgan.
But an apology wasn’t coming Monday — and answers were in short supply during a raucous session of the legislature. ...
Did the government buy an end to a politically embarrassing trial? Who knows how many cabinet ministers and top bureaucrats would have been called to testify in court? And this is the same bunch that cut a $6-million plea-bargain deal to bring an end to the politically toxic B.C. Rail corruption trial.
“This is a case of, ‘I’ll see your $6 million, and raise you $30 million,’” said Horgan, who demanded to know why such a vast amount of money was forked over to the company.
But Coleman said it was simply a case of compensating the company for taking away its uranium claim.
“We negotiated, in good faith, a settlement with Boss Power with regards to a tenure that would be affected by a decision of the government to not do uranium mining,” Coleman said.
Compensating a mining company for expropriation of their mineral rights is not unusual. The question here is whether B.C. taxpayers were burned for an extraordinarily large amount because the government broke the law in dealing with the company, and the government didn’t want its dirty-laundry hamper being tipped over in court.
In a case like this a mining company would normally be compensated for its “sunk costs” — the amount of money it had spent on its mineral claim. It’s estimated Boss Power spent less than $5 million trying to develop the uraniumdeposit.
Now the government is refusing to release internal legal documents showing how the $30-million figure was arrived at.
I didn’t think anything could stink worse than the B.C. Rail plea bargain. This one comes close. And the stench is still rising.
Cover-up feared as taxpayers pay $30M to mining company
Paul Willcocks Postmedia News/Canada.com Canada October 26, 2011
The provincial government's $30million payout to Boss Power Corp. stinks. Taxpayers are paying compensation to the company because the government bungled its ban on uranium mining. The last-minute settlement suggests the government paid a premium so damaging evidence wouldn't be heard in court. And there is every reason to believe politicians ordered government managers to break the law and penalized a manager who tried to do the right thing. ...
When Boss found out what had happened behind the scenes, it added a charge of "misfeasance of public office" to the lawsuit. Basically, that alleged the government abused its power, which would give the company a claim to additional compensation.
All this was set to come out in court if the case went ahead. The officials would have testified, and had to answer questions about whether politicians ordered them to break the law. Until the government came up with $30 million of your money, plus more to cover Boss Power's legal costs, to end the case. Which inevitably brings to mind the decision to cover $6 million in legal costs for Dave Basi and Bob Virk to head off the revelation of potentially damaging evidence in that [the BC Rail corruption] case. ...
So we don't know who gave the order to ignore the company's application, or why the Attorney General Ministry's legal opinion was ignored. We don't know how much the settlement costs rose because of the government's abuse of power. We do know that a government that can't find money to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities can come up with $30 million to keep potentially damaging evidence from being heard in court. ...
Uranium caper leaves many questions
Les Leyne Victoria Times Colonist British Columbia Canada October 26, 2011
... The Opposition also queried Coleman on why - if there was good faith negotiations - Boss Power wound up demanding nearly every kind of damages there are from the government. By last September the firm was asking for damages at large, punitive damages, damages equivalent to expropriation, damages arising from misfeasance, damages for loss of goodwill and special, aggravated and exemplary damages.
All this for a decades-old claim on which the firm had spent just a few million dollars, which is surrounded by Crown land and never had a chance of ever being developed. You can tell the Liberal government is a bit rattled to see this all come to light. ...
Related: David Cobb flees scene of the crimes
Norman Farrell Northern Insights British Columbia Canada October 19, 2011
Visit this page for its embedded links.
This is a sad but inevitable development. Cobb is too bright and too capable to waste more time in the corrupt catch basin designed by Gordon Campbell's friends. Too bad for BC Liberals that Cobb is honest and refuses to paint more layers of lies to mask sad truths. Rich Coleman, eager puppy that he is, will play that role happily. ...
Will Hahnless BCF now build major ships here?
Norman Farrell Northern Insights British Columbia Canada October 19, 2011
British Columbia's shipbuilding industry is happy today, gearing up to work on an $8-billion piece of the largest marine construction program in Canadian history. The federal government takes pride in what they claim has been a painstakingly fair, non-political, capability based process. A fairness consultant hired to monitor the process, said that, of 10 such projects reviewed during his career, this process,
"was one of the best, if not the best."
In other words, Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards competed on a level playing field and proved itself capable of handling a contract 15 times the size of one David Hahn and BC Ferries sent to Germany in 2004 and 60 times larger than for the fourth German ship in 2009.
Today, Premier Christy Clark says,
"What this means is we will see thousands of jobs come to British Columbia ... thousands of high-paid jobs, people who are going to be able to support their kids, solid middle class jobs and I think it's so important,"
This also puts the lie to a claim by BC Ferries that it had good reasons to go overseas for construction of three Super-C vessels and the vessel Northern Explorer. ...
We as taxpayers are only left to wonder about the real reasons BC Ferries sent the better part of a billion dollars to a foreign builder, eliminating economic benefits that could have served the provincial economy. We know from escalating salaries and bonuses paid the Ferry Corporation's senior officials, that no one paid a price for this costly blunder.
That leaves me wondering if there were other factors at work: corruption as we've seen in BC Hydro's contracting, where benefits accruing to taxpayers were less important than the financial gains going into pockets of BC Liberal associates, the influence paddlers and insiders. ...
Monday, August 29, 2011
Rise up. Rise up! The growing partnership between governments and corporations has gotten completely out of hand and is now threatening Canadian democratic life
(Rise up rise up)Posted at: Monday, August 29, 2011 - 12:51 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Oh rise and show your power
(Rise up rise up)
We're dancing into the sun
(Rise up rise up)
It's time for celebration
(Rise up rise up)
Spirit's time has come
We want lovin' we want laughter again
We want heartbeat
We want madness to end
We want power
We want to make it ok
(Rise up rise up)
Oh rise and show your power
(Rise up rise up)
Everybody dance into the sun
(Rise up rise up)
It's time for celebration
(Rise up rise up)
The spirits time has come
It's time, it's time, it's time
"Rise Up" is a pop song recorded by the Canadian group Parachute Club on their self-titled 1983 album. It was produced and engineered by Daniel Lanois, and written by Parachute Club members Billy Bryans, Lauri Conger, Lorraine Segato and Steve Webster with lyrics contributed by filmmaker Lynne Fernie. An upbeat call for peace, celebration, and "freedom / to love who we please," the song was a national hit in Canada, and was widely hailed as a unique achievement in Canadian pop music.... It remains the band's most famous song, and has been adopted as an activist anthem for causes as diverse as gay rights, feminism, anti-racism and the New Democratic Party. The song was performed by Lorraine Segato during the state funeral held in Toronto, August 27, 2011, for the late Jack Layton, Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition/Chef de l'Opposition Loyale de Sa Majesté. In his 2003 run for the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party, Jack Layton asked Segato for permission to use "Rise Up" in his campaign. "Over the years," said Segato, "many political parties have either used or wanted to use the song 'Rise Up' for their campaign. Most of the time, they don't ask. They just use it until you say no. Well, Jack asked to use our song and I said, Forget it, we'll write you your own anthem." Segato, with Richard Underhill and Lynne Fernie, subsequently penned a new campaign song, "Bringing All The Voices Together", for Layton. While distinct in music and lyrics, it was identified as something of a sequel to "Rise Up." "It's a new version of 'Rise Up', not the lyrics but the spirit," Layton said.
Victorians mourn death of Jack Layton
Jeff Bell Times Colonist Victoria British Columbia Canada August 23, 2011
People line up to sign a book of condolences prior to a candlelight vigil for the late Jack Layton at the courtyard of the central branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library on Monday night. Photo: Darren Stone/timescolonist.com
... Rev. Al Tysick, former executive director of Our Place street agency, dropped in to the Times Colonist to recount what a strong impression Layton made on him during a visit to Victoria in the 1990s.
Tysick said Layton, not yet the NDP leader, came by to talk to street people at what was then called the Open Door, and ended up spending most of the day with him. That included a stop at a metal shelter Michael Williams of Swans had erected for street people at the Johnson Street Bridge.
"He and I walked down and he sat in that tin shack talking to people there. He really wanted to know about the suffering, about what could be done, what alternatives there were."
And all of it was done out of the spotlight, Tysick said.
"There wasn't the media coverage, there wasn't the entourage following him around. It was an honest search of knowledge, an honest search of our situation in our country.
"It touched me greatly that day. Not many people would have done what he did." ...
Green leader Elizabeth May, the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, said Layton "will always be remembered for his unfailing love of Canada and his dedication to this country and its citizens." ...
A dozen oranges: Jack Layton remembered at Toronto City Hall
Elizabeth Littlejohn rabble.ca Canada August 25, 2011
"Jack was the reason I started voting." - Message written in chalk on Nathan Phillips Square wall
... At 4 p.m., I biked to City Hall, and bought a dozen oranges in Chinatown, close to where Jack and Olivia lived. A bouquet of oranges, rather than roses, seemed a fitting tribute to the one known simply as 'Jack', who advocated that the wealth of the commons, taken from our natural and social resources, was redistributed to enable each citizen to live with dignity, with the possibility of a brighter future. As I handed each of these oranges to my friends -- artists, musicians, social justice activists, public sector employees, all proponents of city building -- I asked them to say a few words, and photographed them with City Hall in the background. Most were speechless with grief. ...
How do we commemorate a politician, activist and author who opened the first food bank in the city and wrote extensively about affordable housing issues in Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis? ... To honour his political legacy, I would suggest renaming a homeless shelter, and establishing a scholarship for developing homeless policy through donations to the Broadbent Institute. ...
The unprovoked vitriol, in the National Post article by Christie Blatchford, hit a man when he was gone, when he was unable to defend himself. His legacy of orange hope will live on, long after her words will be forgotten. For Blatchford, his last letter was grandstanding with empty platitudes, but then she has shown that the position of the new right focuses on a Canada whose soulless future does not include, or reflect, the common good it once served.
Rest in Peace, Jack. We will defend the house that Jack built.
Items: Stand up or stand down
Betty Krawczyk The Radical Press Victoria British Columbia Canada January 10, 2011
... It’s happening as we speak. What can stop it? Anger. Enough anger to prompt citizens to start thinking about peaceful civil disobedience, to learn about it, to acknowledge it as part and parcel of the evolution of the law and the Charter and an equitable society. Either we stand up, or stand down. If we stand down our children will inherit scrub grasses, mud holes, ill health and few jobs instead of forests and fish and reasonable economic stability. As a people, we have to make some serious decisions. Our government officials including the courts are too incompetent or corrupt to make decisions for the greater good. It really is up to us. ...
Coalition fed up with lack of governmental accountability
Comox Valley Record Courtenay British Columbia Canada July 19, 2011
The Comox Valley Peaceful Direct Action Coalition will hold a public meeting and media event this Thursday evening at the Florence Filberg Centre. The coalition is comprised of a variety of local organizations with one common bond. They are all fed up with the lack of accountability by all levels of governments to the citizens they serve. "No matter where you turn and no matter what the issue, governments have stopped listening to the people," says Kel Kelly, a spokesperson for the group. "We are coming together to say that the growing partnership between governments and corporations has gotten completely out of hand and is now threatening Canadian democratic life."
The group has formed to educate the Comox Valley public on the long and proud history of peaceful direct action, specifically in British Columbia, and on the responsibility of citizens in a democracy to take a strong, peaceful stand against governments when they lose their accountability to the people. "It doesn't matter any more whether you are right, left, centre or anywhere else, if you are a "little person" — an average citizen — you have likely been ignored by your government. Whether the issue is environmental protection, preservation of social programs, protection of workers' rights, deciding on where development takes place, ignoring of local plans and neighbourhoods, no one is left believing that government is listening," says Kelly.
The coalition believes that the time has come for more peaceful direct action, and has formed to provide interested citizens with information on the subject. ...
The coalition's joint statement below was published, lower down in the Salish Sea, here in the Southern Gulf Islands by the Island Tides newspaper (based on Pender Island) in its August 25-September 7, 2011 edition. The statement is being circulated widely amongst residents of our archipelago. It is reposted below.
The Comox Valley Peaceful Direct Action Coalition’s Joint Statement
‘We perceive our Comox Valley community, the communities of BC and the communities of
the nation of Canada to be in grave danger. The danger threatens our long term economic,
social and environmental health, the three pillars of sustainability.
The danger comes in the form of eroding economic equality, devastated social programs,
attacks on working peoples’ rights and unfettered environmental damage. It comes in the form
of privatization of public resources, diminished civil rights, a lack of accountability to the
citizenry and an ever-deepening corporate/government partnership that is moving our elected
officials farther and farther away from serving community interests.
There is a new mythology that is emerging as a result of decades of effort, and that
mythology is being perceived as being true. It includes such myths as: ‘If it’s legal, it’s okay’;
‘As long as we ‘mitigate’, we can do as we please’; ‘Pretending to hear the people is the same as
listening to what they are saying’; ‘The economy is the cornerstone of everything’; ‘Citizen input
comes only from special interest groups’; ‘Peaceful direct action is terrorism’.
There are many more myths that are being manufactured to support the agenda of our
governments and corporations, and like all of those listed above, a moment of serious reflection
reveals that they are not true.
According to Socrates, the original democratic thinker, only just laws are deemed worthy
of compliance; otherwise, he said, the citizen has a duty to obey a higher authority.
Disobedience of the law, he stated, is justified by appealing to the principle of necessity.
Slavery, residential schools, apartheid, military invasions, voting rights only for men, head
taxes, DDT, the Vietnam war, the use of chemical weapons, discrimination based on gender,
skin colour or sexual orientation were all legal in their day. That does not mean they were ever
just or fair. Most of these ‘legal’ abominations were overcome by careful, considerate, peaceful
means, including the practise of peaceful direct action.
British Columbia can claim a proud history of successful direct action campaigns. From
Ginger Goodwin and his work for miners’ rights in Cumberland to the suffragette movement,
to the century-long struggle of the Doukhobors, to the Critical Mass bicycle protests on the
streets of Vancouver today, British Columbians have spoken out and acted repeatedly against
In the environmental movement, the arrest and detention of 64 brave souls in Strathcona
Park in 1988 led to the creation of statute parks in the province. The arrest and detention of
more than 800 people in the ‘Clayoquot Summer’ of 1993 ultimately brought a measure of
environmental sanity and some ‘peace in the woods’ for a prolonged period of time.
Over the last 20 years governments and corporations, working together, have methodically
clawed back these victories and made significant efforts to turn our society away from genuine
citizen participation and input. These days, once again, citizens and their opinions, are seen
as obstacles to progress, and barriers to unfettered economic growth. The other two pillars of
sustainability—social and environmental considerations—are once again being ignored.
Therefore, once again, we believe it is time to mobilize the citizenry of BC to take a strong,
peaceful stand against the imbalanced and unfair practices of our governments.
Three coal mines in our beautiful community make no sense. A new gas station in the heart
of our estuary makes no sense. The gutting of social programs for our most vulnerable citizens
makes no sense. Turning our provincial park system over to private corporations makes no
sense. Yet, despite every effort by our community to work within ‘the system’ to prevent these
things, they are all proceeding anyway.
Countless thousands of volunteer hours have been spent preparing briefs, doing research,
attending meetings, participating at open houses, forums and public hearings. We can never
be accused of not having worked hard within ‘the system’. Most of this input has been ignored
or overruled. We believe that the only thing left to us is to follow Socrates’ direction to fulfill
our democratic duty to work against unfair and unjust laws and practices.
We will work as a coalition to provide education on peaceful direct action in our Comox
Valley community. We hope to mobilize hundreds of citizens to relearn that peaceful direct
action is a fundamental democratic right, to remember that when governments are ignoring
the will of the people, it is our responsibility to react strongly, collectively and peacefully.
We know that we are far from alone. We are well aware that many others in our community
and across British Columbia are also at the end of their patience. We invite other Comox Valley
groups, organizations and individual citizens to join us and encourage other communities
across the province to organize similar coalitions of their own. It is time for us to stand up, and
stand up together.’
Signed by: Friends of Strathcona Park, Comox Valley Water Watch, Sierra Club Comox
Valley, Council of Canadians, nocoalmine.net, World Community Development Education
Society, Coal Watch Comox Valley Society, Comox Valley Peace Group
Related: Canadian media issues, Green Party pledges stable funding for CBC
Media release Green Party of Canada Canada April 4, 2011
VICTORIA – This week the Green Party is talking about national ideas and issues that the broadcasters don’t want debated in this election, and that won’t be discussed if the Green Party is excluded from the leaders debate. Speaking in front of the CBC studios in Victoria, B.C. today, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May spoke out on the crisis in Canadian media and pledged $450 million in stable funding for Canada’s national broadcaster.
“Concentration in Canadian media, corporate control of news content, slashing of local news content, and the slow funding starvation of our national broadcaster – these are issues the corporate TV executives would rather not see come up in this election. These are issues Canadians will not hear discussed if I am excluded from the national leader’s debate,” said May. ...
“In the past three decades, all across Canada, our newsrooms have been gutted, quality local coverage has dwindled to almost nothing, and the executives of massive media empires decide what stories Canadians can and cannot hear. We’re seeing the result in this no-issues election,” said May. “The other party leaders won’t talk about this but I will, and if elected I will address the issue in part by investing in stable funding for our national broadcaster."
Below: Elizabeth May is the federal leader of the Green Party of Canada. She is a Member of Parliament in Ottawa, representing the citizens of the Saanich-Gulf Islands federal electoral district. In the 2011 election Elizabeth May won 46.26% of the popular vote in a four-way race. The sitting Harper government cabinet minister, Gary Lunn, finished second to May with 35.59% of the popular vote—6,359 votes less than May. The Jack Layton-led NDP candidate finished third with 11.89% of the votes cast. Elizabeth May is a frequent contributor to the Island Tides newspaper. The following appeared in the Island Tides newspaper's August 25-September 7, 2011 edition.
Who owns what in Canada’s press—an opportunity missed
by Elizabeth May
Following on from my discussion, last edition, of the Murdoch media empire scandal, Murdoch’s influence in Canada, and Kai Nagata’s exposé of media integrity in his blog ‘Why I quit my job,’ let’s look at Canada’s media.
As far back as the Davey Commission in the 1960s, Canadians have been warned about Canada’s concentration and vertical integration of corporate media ownership. By the 1980s, the Kent Commission report described the fact that so much of the Canadian news media ownership was in so few hands as ‘monstrous.’
When giant CanWest’s empire broke apart in 2009, the Green Party suggested CanWest’s bankruptcy was the perfect time to expand the number of owners of Canadian media and sell the newspapers (or at least offer the papers for sale) to the highest bidder. No media covered our press release.
Although CanWest’s television and newspaper holdings were sold separately that’s as far as it went. The 46 CanWest daily papers, including flagship and famously unprofitable National Post, should have been open to any bidder to break-up the unhealthy degree of corporate control. But the trustees in bankruptcy only accepted bidding for all 46 papers (including all BC’s dailies). Paul Godfrey, ideologically aligned with the National Post’s historical editorial stance, bought all 46 for over $1 billion.
Another giant in Canada, Quebecor, controls Sun Media as a wholly owned subsidiary. That conglomerate is the largest newspaper publisher in Canada, including 43 paid and free dailies (including the once great London Free Press, Kingston Whig-Standard and Peterborough Examiner), as well as 200 community papers (they boughtup Osprey), as well as the new channel SUN-TV, and TVA, the largest commercial TV station in Quebec.
Quebecor also runs Canoe providing English and French internet properties, online servers, and a host of other companies, now known as media properties.
BellGlobe Media is another huge player, owning 28 TV stations, including CTV, 15% of the Globe and Mail, 29 specialty channels, 33 radio stations, including big players in Toronto and Ottawa CFRA and CFRB, as well as dozens of online products and internet networks (such as Sympatico).
If this were a board game, it would be called Monopoly. We do have CBC and Radio-Canada, but, as former CTV bureau chief Kai Nagata (who worked at CBC before CTV) points out, CBC brass have made all reporters terrified of expressing what could be construed as a ‘left-wing’ opinion.
Looking for an independent newspaper in Canada? We have two large dailies that fall outside the Bell, Shaw and Quebecor conglomerates—the Chronicle Herald in Halifax (owned by the Dennis family) and the Toronto Star, owned by a trust, Torstar. On the coast we have the small, but mighty, Island Tides and brave independent online journalism in The Tyee.
Calling For A Media Policy Debate
We need a serious policy debate in this country. With eyes opened by the Murdoch empire scandal, maybe we are ready to look at our own news media and see if new tools are needed.
Current competition laws only operate to hold in check the price of papers. CRTC only looks at Canadian content.
Bottom line: we need anti-trust laws to break up the excessive media concentration, in only five or six hands, Canada-wide.
"Politics in British Columbia has been systematically corrupted by an unhealthy camaraderie between government and media." That's the subject of Norman Farell's blog entry below.
Your application to express opinion is denied
Norman Farrell Northern Insight British Columbia Canada August 28, 2011
Visit this page for its embedded link.
Globe and Mail editorial, August 26/11, Licensing journalists in Quebec would stifle press freedom
"A licensing system for journalists being discussed in Quebec is a form of press regulation that would put limits on the free flow of information.
In British Columbia, we don't have formal licensing but we have a system that provides exactly what some in Quebec aim to achieve. One example was illustrated during the Basi/Virk/BC Rail trial where we learned that journalistic privileges in the Supreme Court depended on a small accreditation panel of mainstream newspersons who issued or denied licenses to other commentators seeking full access to court facilities and reporting aids.
Today, for every outlier in professional journalism or online citizen journalist writing stories of substance, there are 50 reporters at Corus Radio, Postmedia, Global TV and CTV who care very little about society. For every take-no-prisoners reporter like Jack Webster was or Rafe Mair remains, there are ten Vaughn Palmers or Keith Baldreys. Proven and entertaining writers like Alex Tsukamis are pushed from the mainstream media's stage because they don't follow the rules.
BC Liberals, as political strategy established before 2001, aimed to capture and tether the media. Accordingly, trustworthy reporters have preferential access to government facilities and sources and they are fed both background and material for publication by ministry officials and underlings. The quid pro quo for such assistance is to ask no hard questions, present no surprises and repeat talking points even if shopworn clichés. ...
Friday, August 26, 2011
Ding Dong! The inequitable, regressive tax is dead. After a decade of ruinous oppression, British Columbians buck off the 'last straw'
Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!Posted at: Friday, August 26, 2011 - 07:59 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up - sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead. She's gone where the goblins go,
Below - below - below. Yo-ho, let's open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Witch is dead!
As Mayor of the Munchkin City, In the County of the Land of Oz, I welcome you most regally.
But we've got to verify it legally, to see
Is morally, ethic'lly
Father No. 2
Undeniably and reliably Dead
As Coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her.
And she's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead.
Then this is a day of Independence For all the Munchkins and their descendants
Yes, let the joyous news be spread The wicked Old Witch at last is dead!
Above: "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" which appears in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz performed by Munchkins. The music was composed by Harold Arlen, with the lyrics written by E.Y. Harburg. [Emphasis added.] The Harper gov't will play a much larger role in ending the tax than many British Columbians realize. See the Comprehensive Integrated Tax Coordination Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia.
B.C. votes 55% to scrap HST
CBC News British Columbia Canada August 26, 2011
British Columbians have voted to scrap the province’s controversial harmonized sales tax, according to the results of a binding, province-wide referendum. Elections B.C. announced on Friday morning that 54.73 per cent of the 1.6 million British Columbians who cast a ballot in the mail-in referendum voted to get rid of the tax and 45.27 per voted to keep it. ... "This is step backwards, but it is a manageable step backwards," said [B.C. Finance Minster Kevin] Falcon after the results of the referendum were announced on Friday. ...
Former premier Bill Vander Zalm [Note: not an NDP premier, but a Social Credit middle-of-the-road mixed economy-favoring premier], who led the campaign to scrap the tax, said the vote was a win for the middle class in B.C. "They were the ones paying the freight and it was a benefit to the big corporations in our province especially those that are exporting our resources. They should contribute as opposed to getting a refund at the expense of the consumer," said Vander Zalm. "More importantly too, I think it sends a message to politicians throughout our country especially that they can't simply do things because it's the will of the premier or the party; that they have to in fact, on issues big as we see it here, consult the people," said Vander Zalm.
B.C. NDP opposition leader Adrian Dix welcomed the result. "We have good news: the people won over the arrogance of the [BC Liberal Party] government [Note: the BC Liberals are a coalition created by the corporatist oilgarchy to advance their benefit and cause] and its powerful friends. It is a victory for fairness," said Dix. "For a decade, the Liberal Party has shifted the tax burden onto B.C. families. A return to the PST will be good for communities, good for families and good for small business. It will make life a little bit more affordable for working families. It will also ensure that British Columbia has control over its sales tax policy, now and in the future," said Dix.
Jim Sinclair, the president of the B.C. Federation of Labour called the vote a victory for the people of B.C. "My reaction is good news for British Columbia. People voted for tax fairness and against governments who lie to them, and going forward we can do the things we need in this province and corporations will continue to pay their share of the taxes in British Columbia. It's a victory for people and multi-million dollar advertising campaigns weren't enough to convince people to vote against their own best interests," said Sinclair. ...
BC Federation of Labour president points out premier's "misstep" in HST fiasco
CKNW AM980British Columbia Canada August 26, 2011
The labour community calls the fall of the Harmonized Sales Tax a failure of the politics of fear.
Jim Sinclair says despite what he calls Premier Christy Clark's $5 million-plus propoganda campaign, the tax has fallen, and the premier has made a major misstep.
He says, "frankly, she should have taken her original position, which is let's just vote this down and go forward. She said quote, and I remember this very clearly, 'if the referendum is fair, it's not going to pass.' Well, she was right, and she still spent millions of dollars we could have used to take care of special needs kids and take care of seniors in BC."
He says common sense has prevailed as has a desire for fair taxes.
HST foes jumping for joy but others predict trouble ahead
Bethany Lindsay CTV News Canada August 26, 2006
Those in the restaurant and fitness industries are breathing a sigh of relief after learning that B.C. voters turned down the HST, but business leaders warn the results will hurt the province's economy.
Since the harmonized sales tax came into effect last year, restaurateurs across the province have moaned that consumers were staying at home to avoid seeing an extra five-per-cent fee on their tabs. Under the old system, things like eating out, joining a gym and buying a new bike were exempt from the PST. The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association applauded B.C. voters Friday for rejecting the 12-per-cent HST. ... The end of the tax also brought a smile to the face of Vancouver fitness guru Ron Zalko, who said that charging HST on gym memberships punished people who are trying to live healthier lives. "I'm very happy. They made my day today," he told CTV News, performing a round of jumping jacks to express his jubilation. ... Simon Coutts of Simon's Bike Shop in Vancouver said his sales dropped "drastically" when he had to start charging the new tax. "Now that I've heard that it's going back to the old way, I think it's fantastic," he said. "It'll probably encourage a lot more people to purchase the bikes again."
Finance Minister Kevin Falcon has promised that when the PST returns in 18 months, it will not be charged on things that were previously exempt, including restaurant meals, haircuts, bikes and gym memberships.
Organized labour across the province also applauded the results of the vote. The BC Federation of Labour called the decision a defeat for the "politics of fear." President Jim Sinclair said the tax unfairly shifted a $2-billion annual burden from large corporations to ordinary people. "[Christy] Clark and the BC Liberals have repeatedly cut taxes for businesses and wealthy individuals over the last decade, while imposing regressive taxes and service cuts on working people. The HST was the last straw, and British Columbians rose up and said: ‘Enough is enough,'" Sinclair said.
On the other side of the HST fight, economists and business leaders have long argued that the tax simply makes sense for commerce, and contended that the savings for big business would stimulate the economy and eventually trickle down to consumers. Greg D'Avignon, president of the Business Council of BC, said he respects the public's decision but can't help feeling let down. "We are unquestionably disappointed but don't have the luxury in today's uncertain times to revisit the past," he said in a release. The council says that losing the HST will strike a serious blow to the competitiveness of the B.C. economy. ... The Vancouver Board of Trade was also disappointed with the referendum results... Even if losing the HST turns out to be bad for the economy, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says that the key lesson the Liberals should take away from the referendum is that voters need to be consulted on big decisions. ...
Mitigating the crushing blow to B.C.’s competitiveness
Niels Veldhuis and Charles Lammam, Special to the Vancouver Sun British Columbai Canada August 26, 2011
Niels Veldhuis and Charles Lammam are economists with the corporate-funded Fraser Institute think tank. At the end of this opinion piece, they suggest a flat tax might repair the damage done by today's vote result.
With the defeat of the harmonized sales tax (HST), B.C.’s competitiveness will suffer a crushing blow, as the province experiences a rebirth of the provincial sales tax (PST). The unfortunate reality is that restoring the PST will lead to a reduction in investment and job creation. It now falls on Premier Christy Clark and her colleagues to show leadership and put forth a tax plan to mitigate the unrealized economic gains that the HST would have encouraged.
The HST’s greatest benefit is that it exempts all inputs used to create products and services. A return to the PST will once again mean that items purchased by businesses to produce those goods and services will be subject to sales tax. This will increase the cost for businesses of investing in machinery, equipment, and new technologies, which makes it more expensive for B.C. businesses to expand, upgrade, and innovate.
In a world where provinces (and countries) compete for investment dollars, restoring the PST will negatively impact B.C.’s investment climate, making it a less attractive place for investors to set up or expand. This is especially true since other provinces like Ontario are maintaining their harmonized sales tax and reducing other taxes on investment.
In addition, the rebirth of the PST will harm the competitiveness of export-oriented firms in B.C. Since businesses will have to pay sales tax on their production inputs, firms that export their goods and services will face higher costs than their competitors operating in other jurisdictions that do not apply sales taxes on inputs (i.e. Alberta and Ontario).
Without additional tax changes, British Columbia will be left behind and risks losing much-needed investment that will instead gravitate to jurisdictions with more competitive tax policies. ...
Finally and most significantly, B.C. could move to an integrated approach to business and personal income taxation by instituting a flat tax. Under a flat tax, all sources of income, capital gains, business income, wages and salaries, and interest income are taxed at one rate. In addition, all savings and investment are exempt from the tax which incentivizes businesses to increase investment and encourages individuals work, save, and take entrepreneurial risks.
Internationally renowned tax expert and University of Stanford Professor Alvin Rabushka calculated that B.C. could introduce a flat tax at less than eight per cent and collect the same amount of revenue as it currently does. ...
Friday, July 15, 2011
Watching British Columbia: Even with a change in government, the back room players will remain the same. They just change who the cheque is payable to. And, with Harper in Ottawa, how free will Adrian Dix be to follow his conscience?
Intro: You tell me what’s more important, that salamander’s peace of mind or parking space for one more Winnebago. - Briony Penn, cited by Don Gayton in BC Book World, Winter 1999.Posted at: Friday, July 15, 2011 - 07:48 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
I've got a PhD and no one listens. I take my clothes off, and here you all are. So thank you." - Briony Penn. In January 2001, Penn got international attention for her nearly-nude horseback ride as Lady Godiva to protest against rapacious logging on Salt Spring Island. Along with other riders, Penn rode past the Vancouver offices of the logging company, and in so doing she raised interest around the world in protection of endangered ecosystems and helped mobilize support for the protection of thousands of hectares of land on our island.
Jim comment: Penn gained her Ph.D in Geography from Edinburgh University (she received her BA in Geography/Anthropology from the University of British Columbia). Salt Spring Islander Briony Penn is a mother of two, an author, a naturalist, environmentalist, teacher, map-maker, artist and geographer. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria and has lectured in the School of Environmental Studies and Restoration of Natural Systems Program since 1991. Penn and her husband Donald (a wildlife artist and architect), and their two boys, Callum (19) and Ronan (15), live on Salt Spring in a large old heritage home that they barged over from Victoria. After supporting the Green Party for more than a decade, Penn announced in March 2007 her strategic intention to run as a Liberal candidate for Saanich—Gulf Islands in the 2008 federal election. She was defeated in a close race by the incumbent Conservative Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources. She lost by 2,621 votes in an eight-way race. That election was the first time I witnessed American-style dirty tricks in our riding. Penn said she had been approached to run for the federal Green Party and New Democratic Party as well. She maintains her provincial Green Party membership. In the 2011 election (despite evidence of more dirty tricks including voter suppression), Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green Party, soundly defeated Gary Lunn. May garnered 46.33% of the popular vote in a four-way race.
Items: Damming evidence. We saw it first with BC Rail
The Legislature Raids British Columbia Canada July 10, 2011
Visit this page for its links, including some in the appended comments.
BC Mary comments: Briony Penn should have been elected the Federal M.P. for Saanich and The Islands; her ecological point-of-view matches the prevailing attitudes of most Gulf Islanders. But no, she was narrowly defeated by Gary Lunn although not before serious questions were raised about Lunn's electioneering tactics.
Briony Penn is writing here about Site C ... and BC Hydro ...
British Columbians learned the hard way (by hind-sight) that BC Rail had been specially prepared for slaughter. The treachery behind the sale of this BC lifeline was based upon weakening the railway: carefully BC Rail was prepared, and then sold off cheap. Against all protests. That's when BC first learned that other precious public assets might go too. And did go. With BC Hydro being the biggest loss of all.
Dots are beginning to connect ...
Stephen Harper couldn't be more clear. He's been in on the game from Reform days with Preston Manning. Once he had his iron-clad majority in the House of Commons, Stephen Harper appointed the despicable Gordon Campbell to the top diplomatic post of High Commissioner to Britain. It's all so clever: the 2012 Summer Olympics will be hosted in London too. Right under our noses, the sleazy game continues ...
No further proof is needed that Stephen Harper is in on the game of pirating public assets -- any and all public assets, from A.E.C.L. to CBC to our National Health Care system. In fact, he has spoken of Canada (to a US. audience) so disparagingly that it's safe to say that Harper and Campbell are committed to Deep Integration, meaning that Canada in their view should be absorbed by the U.S.A. If only Big Media would take up the narrative so that the voting public can make intelligent choices before it's too late.
Here's what Briony Penn wrote: ...
China’s premier admits the massive Three Gorges Dam has created “urgent problems.” Is anybody at BC Hydro listening? ...
Jim again: Briony Penn continues to do her best for all in British Columbia inclucing human and non-human species.
The “near-points” of the BC Rail case need to be looked at – and then how all has been shaped towards what looks like, to many, an outright manipulation to end trial and to guarantee silence from the accused and convicted pair, Dave Basi and Bob Virk
Robin Matthews The Legislature Raids British Columbia Canada July 8, 2011
... And so the trial was killed – with lightning haste. It was killed – with such haste and in such an unconventional way that the Auditor General of B.C. wants to know all about it.
Good luck to Auditor General John Doyle.
It seems to me the Gordon Campbell group that oversaw the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR – Christie Clark included – has so far escaped all serious examination. Let us hope John Doyle can break through their defense and show the BC public why $6 million of its money was misused – as a beginning to showing how billions were misused – and perhaps criminally looted - in the transfer of BC Rail to the CNR.
From an appended comment to Robin Mathews' essay.
This reminds me so much of the time in late 2003 when Joy MacPhail tried to find out from Transport Minister Judith Reid 'when' and 'if' cabinet actually ever approved the sale of BC Rail. Look up Hansard, December 2, 2003, morning sitting, as Joy MacPhail valiantly tries to get a straight and accurate answer from Ms. Reid in this regard.
Of course "they" needed BC Rail ... but "we" needed BC Rail most of all
The Legislature Raids British Columbia Canada July 12, 2011
It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world. - BC Mary
Visit this page for its links.
Clearlease.com: Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) completed the biggest deal ever in its history, namely the $8.8 billion buyout of Bucyrus International Inc.
(M2 PressWIRE Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) VANCOUVER, BC -- Dominion Lending Centres Clearlease Reports Heavy Equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) completed the biggest deal ever in its history, namely the $8.8 billion buyout of Bucyrus International Inc July 12, 2011. ...
Caterpillar is riding the wave of heightened construction and mining activity in the developing markets, triggered by the demand for coal, copper and iron ore. The company expects demand to continue expanding over the next decade. ...
Fortune announces Posco JV, mulls second partner for BC coal project
TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – TSX-listed Fortune Minerals has agreed to sell 20% of its Mount Klappan anthracite coal project in north-west British Columbia to a subsidiary of Korean steelmaker Posco, the world's third-biggest steel producer by market value. ...
Fortune had initially studied and begun permitting processes for a project that involved building a new road to truck production from the mine to port Stewart, but received attractive quotes last year from CN Railway on a plan to extend and upgrade a rail link to the site instead.
“That provided a much simpler and scaleable transportation option, and it is also what our customers would prefer,” Goad said.
The company will be able to access the port of Prince Rupert, use Capesize vessels for ocean transport and share cargoes with other Western Canadian coal producers by shipping from the existing coal-loading terminal at Ridley Terminals.
However, although much of the environmental work for the mine and associated facilities is already completed, Fortune needs to go back and conduct baseline environmental studies on the new railway plan. ...
Jim comment: We were just too proud and independent for the corporatists and their North American integration plans tied into overall globalization. Sadly, they suceeded here over the last decade in a way they have not yet in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and may never in those countries (and others in their crosshairs). We in British Columbia are bloodied (mugged and robbed) but we are unbowed. They're still fighting Kurtz and his ilk in the Congo. And we will continue to fight them here in our remote province of the global empire.
These chaps were not much account, really. They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force — nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind — as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea — something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to. - Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, published 1902
Sunday, July 10, 2011
British Columbia's HST: A con job to be sure. Not only that, its one of the most screwed-up public policy initiatives in the history of the province. We need to keep our consumer tax policy in B.C.
I have been saying publicly that the Premier and [Finance Minister] Hansen telling us that the HST wasn't even on the "radar screen" was bullshit. And it was demonstrable bullshit before the document proving it was obtained by Freedom of Information request - and I'll tell you why. - Rafe Mair, "HST Briefing Memo: Hansen & Campbell Caught Red Handed", September 2, 2010. Mair is a former BC MLA and was a Cabinet Minister in the Social Credit government of Premier Bill Bennett.Posted at: Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 03:36 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Over the years the PST was in effect, governments established exemptions that worked for British Columbians. ... If the HST becomes permanent, B.C. will never be able to change what is and what is not taxed as those decisions will be owned by Ottawa. B.C.’s only ability to make changes to the provincial portion of the HST will be the tax rate.... We need to keep our consumer tax policy in B.C. - Colin Nielsen
More than 40 business groups under the umbrella of “smart taxes” are spending millions to tell us the HST is a great thing, lots of jobs, lower taxes, lower prices and prosperity for all. None of it is true. The [Christy] Clark Liberals piled on with another $5 million of taxpayer money to back up the business message. It is, by all accounts, a shameful turn of events. - Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour
... the HST, one of the most screwed-up public policy initiatives in the history of this province. - Vaughn Palmer
Missing secrecy envelopes, confusing birthdates and ballots addressed to dead people or out-of-province residents are just some of the frustrations critics say are plaguing the mail-in referendum on the harmonized sales tax. - Rob Shaw reporting
Secrets of the HST referendum: What the BC gov't won't tell you about the tax and who's behind the campaign pushing it
Bill Tieleman TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada July 5, 2011
"Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off." -- Samuel Johnson
There are many things powerful people want to make sure you never know about the Harmonized Sales Tax binding referendum now underway. ...
Bill Tielman's column above contains many embedded and related links.
The HST has been a con job since Day 1
Jim Sinclair The Province British Columbia Canada July 7, 2011
If the HST survives the referendum, it will go down as one of the most successful con jobs in the history of the province.
A good con starts with a lie. The B.C. Liberals said point blank they would not bring in the HST. Then they got re-elected and immediately imposed the HST, assuming the con would work. After all, it was four years until the next election. This particular con job involved British Columbians overlooking the fact that they would be picking up a $2-billion tax bill on just about everything that would let big business avoid paying $2 billion in taxes every year.
The plan was simple enough. Like most con jobs, people were skeptical. Polls showed 80 per cent weren’t buying it. Even the popular former finance minister Carole Taylor saw the con for what it was and rejected it. “This particular tax takes the tax off of businesses — it takes $1.8 billion off of businesses — and puts it on consumers,” she said. British Columbians turned their anger to action, creating a grassroots movement that did the impossible, forcing the first citizen referendum in B.C. Clearly this con job was in serious trouble and a new strategy was needed. ...
Jim comment: The comments appended to Jim Sinclair's column are worth perusing. In one of those comments, 'Gerry94' raises the issue that troubles me greatly. "Finally, somebody writes about the facts of the HST, one other point, CONTROL of the tax base now lies in Ottawa." And in a letter to the editor of the Victoria Times Colonist, July 4, 2011, "HST shifts tax policy control to Ottawa", Colin Nielsen elaborates on that point. (Scroll down, it is the third letter on the page.) Here's an excerpt:
... Over the years the PST was in effect, governments established exemptions that worked for British Columbians. The PST was used to encourage the use of beneficial products and services that saved energy, promoted good health and were good for the environment.
In 1991, the Federal government introduced the GST to replace the old Manufacturers Sale Tax. They provided very few GST exemptions. By harmonizing taxes, we, in effect, instituted a new tax on items that we previously deemed good public policy to exempt. ...
If the HST becomes permanent, B.C. will never be able to change what is and what is not taxed as those decisions will be owned by Ottawa. B.C.’s only ability to make changes to the provincial portion of the HST will be the tax rate and, surely, just as happened elsewhere, the rate will rise over time. We need to keep our consumer tax policy in B.C.
B.C. Liberals' changes, delays make for ironic timing of HST vote results
Vaughn Palmer Vancouver Sun British Columbia Canada July 9, 2011
... Clark followed [Gordon Campbell's] lead this year when she switched from an initiative vote to a mail ballot under the Referendum Act. The latter law leaves it to a simple majority to decide the fate of the tax, irrespective of turnout, much as Campbell first suggested. Elections operate on the same winner-take-all basis, of course. But the authors of the province's initiative legislation considered voter-initiated legislation to be alien to our parliamentary system and they wanted to make it harder to use.
Had Campbell and the Liberals respected that approach in dealing with a matter as complex as taxation policy, the HST would not now be on life support. The Yes side would probably be leading the polling for a Sept. 24 initiative vote, but not likely with the 50 per cent of registered voters necessary to extinguish the tax. That's another on the long list of might-have-beens associated with the HST, one of the most screwed-up public policy initiatives in the history of this province.
B.C. Liberals can't keep their HST numbers straight
Mike Lane, Letter to Editor Vancouver Sun British Columbia Canada July 7, 2011
The B.C. Liberal government propaganda on the harmonized sales tax claims that a return to the goods and services tax/provincial sales tax would necessitate hiring 300 more employees and releasing office space.
This would only be true if they had laid off 300 employees when the HST was introduced.
That did not happen! (I challenged them on this point and they did not respond.)
If the HST supporters make claims like this, the other numbers they bandy around must be suspect.
They have lost credibility.
Elections B.C. mails two HST referendum ballots to Surrey voter
Stephen Thomson Georgia Straight British Columbia Canada July 8, 2011
A Surrey resident says Elections B.C. mailed him two ballots to vote in the provincewide referendum on the future of the harmonized sales tax. Karam Sandhu said he checked his mail July 6 and discovered he had received two packages to cast a ballot in the August 5 mail-in vote.
The official certification envelopes included with the ballots he received have sequential serial numbers but also both bear his full name and current address. “I was confused,” said Sandhu, a 23-year-old Georgia Straight employee who lives in the Surrey-Newton electoral district. “It’s probably likely someone else got two [HST ballot packages],” he said in an interview. “I don’t know why I’d be the only one who got two.” Sandhu said he was surprised to receive two packages. He said he has never been mailed more than one voter’s card during an election since he moved to his current home in Surrey five years ago. He also said he does not have the same full name as any of his family members. Don Main, spokesperson for Elections B.C., said Sandhu’s case is the first of its kind he’s heard of in the HST referendum and called it “a really rare instance”. “Unfortunately, in this instance, because it would look like two different people, then he could theoretically fill in two [ballots],” Main told the Straight by phone.
More than three million HST ballot packages have been sent out to registered voters for the August 5 referendum. Main said almost all of those packages should have been received by now. Main said he was not able to check Sandhu’s record specifically. But explained the mix-up could be due to two voter records somehow being created that share the same name while differing in other details like birthdate, social insurance number, or home and mailing address. “We have two records that are almost virtually the same but they’re not so we send two [ballot packages] out,” he said. Main said Elections B.C. does regularly screen for “duplicate voters” in its records. ...
Elections BC not concerned about misdirected ballots
Shane Woodford CKNW(AM980) British Columbia Canada July 7, 2011
Elections BC is panning an accusation from the 'yes' side in the HST referendum they are using 'outdated' lists to get voting packages out.
Don Main, Elections BC spokesperson, admits about eighteen percent of the voters list does change every year. Main says at the end of the day it is up to voters to make sure they are registered although Elections BC does try to update the lists. "Voters lists are updated on a daily basis from external sources including ICBC, vital stats, different BC municipalities and Elections Canada's national registar of electors."
Main said "absolutely not" when asked if he has concerns somone could exploit the vote with misdirected ballots arriving in the mail.
Fumbles plague HST vote, critics say
Rob Shaw Victoria Times Colonist British Columbia Canada July 10, 2011
Missing secrecy envelopes, confusing birthdates and ballots addressed to dead people or out-of-province residents are just some of the frustrations critics say are plaguing the mail-in referendum on the harmonized sales tax. The referendum, which began June 13 and runs to Aug. 5, relies on more than three million British Columbians receiving their ballots in the mail, marking them, signing the appropriate line, writing down their birthdate and dropping the multi-envelope package back into the mail. But for many, that's not as easy as it sounds.
Times Colonist readers have flagged several concerns about the process, including one person whose referendum package failed to include the proper "secrecy envelope" in which to place the ballot. In another case, Claude Mury said his 97-year-old mother, who lives in Alberta and has only visited B.C. twice in the past 30 years, received a referendum package at his Victoria home. He said he can't even guess how his mother, Nelly, who has only spent days in the province in her entire life, was registered to receive a ballot. Mury said he shredded the package.
Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MLA Maurine Karagianis said she's had numerous constituents complain that they've received more than one ballot under their name. And then there are apartment buildings where residents report ballot packages stacked in recycling bins and in foyers, she said. There's the potential for fraud," said Karagianis. "Justifiably, there are lots of questions being raised here and we deserve an answer from the government on this." ... Karagianis sent a letter of complaint Friday to acting chief electoral officer Craig James on yet another issue: problems with birthdates. Karagianis said she's heard cases of people mixing up the numbers of the day and month - for example, turning June 7 into 07/06 when it should be entered as 06/07 - meaning it won't match Elections B.C. records. "There's a concern if you transpose the numbers that invalidates the ballot," she said. ...
Related: Rafe Mair was a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. Since 1981 he has been a radio talk show host, and is recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists.
Was the Gordon Campbell government truly corrupt?
Rafe Mair The Common Sense Canadian British Columbia Canada July 4, 2011
Visit this page for its embedded links.
Was the Gordon Campbell government corrupt? Does it matter?
The answer to both questions is a resounding YES!
For the purposes of this article I define corruption as “acting against the public good for political or other gains for the government party and/or its members, to the exclusion of meaningful public input”.
Let me summarize the Campbell corruption: ...
What has this to do with Premier Clark?
Just everything, that’s all. ...
Fight HST: Vote Yes to Extinguish the HST (home page)
The following is from a 16-page PDF study of the HST "The top ten reasons why the HST is not good for BC – and why returning to the PST is the better choice" prepared by the folks at the Fight HST site.
2. HST is a loss of provincial sovereignty:
Besides the destructive impact on families and citizens, perhaps one of the biggest problems with the HST is it gives away control of BC’s sales tax authority to the Federal Government. It is like turning BC into a giant municipality, awaiting transfers of our own money back from Ottawa.
And we all know the “Golden Rule” – the guy with the gold makes the rules.
No longer will we be able to unilaterally exempt items from taxes in order to stimulate areas of our economy as we see fit. No longer will we be able to raise or lower the rate at will in the BC legislature. No longer will we be able to re-organize our tax structure to allow regions or municipalities to collect sales taxes if we wanted.
With the HST we have given Ottawa control of our sales taxes forever - and all for a paltry $1.6 billion to cover a temporary deficit. That is like owning a Rolls Royce and agreeing to share ownership of it with your neighbour in exchange for a free gallon of gas. It isn’t worth it.
Monday, June 13, 2011
British Columbia: Mission - Abbotsford's private water war. Just like BC Rail, next they'll try selling off their grandmothers!
Mission - Abbotsford's private water war. Just like BC Rail, next they'll try selling off their grandmothers!Posted at: Monday, June 13, 2011 - 01:53 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
BC Mary The Legislature Raids British Columbia Canada June 12, 2011
Visit this page for its embedded links.
BC Mary comment:
This item really got under my skin. Please don't ask me to explain what this article has to do with BC Rail, because I can't make it any more clear: that the inherent value of something (a railroad, a grandmother, clean water, life itself) means virtually nothing to those who think they can grab something, force it into legislation, and arrange that it sells for a profit (preferably secret) to themselves. Nothing is sacred. Nothing has universal value.
As shown in Abbotsford-Mission where water itself is at issue, powerful people behind the scenes can work to arrange the sell off of anything -- from the large, beneficial BC Rail to the water we need to stay alive. Please don't overlook this item. The P3-fools have been doing their best in secret to sell the commonly-owned drinking water from Vancouver's virtual doorstep. And "they" are government! Just like what happened to BC Rail.
Lynn Perrin writes in part:
The proposal to privatize the water services in my community seemed to hit us from behind - it was negotiated for over a year in secret and sprung on us without warning. This $300 million project, that would inevitably give control of our water to a foreign consortium, was not something Abbotsford or Mission residents asked for, but part of an agenda being pushed by the federal government and certain corporate individuals on Council.
To understand my experience and learn how to respond I turned to water documentaries such as FLOW (For Love Of Water) - a documentary about the privatization of drinking water - and saw that this is the typical modus operandi of P3 (public-private partnership) proponents. The film addresses the problems that have occurred in Europe with regard to water systems that are privately operated. However, most of the film is about P3s in the developing world in Africa and South America. I was surprised to find myself relating to the experiences of water consumers in those countries or villages. Even though I consider myself to be a strong, assertive woman, I wept at the similarity of what had happened to them and to what was now happening to my community of Abbotsford, B.C., Canada. I was amazed at the parallels between the fifth largest city in B.C. and communities in the developing world.
A number of concerned citizens of both Abbotsford and Mission have begun exhaustive research on the impacts of public-private water systems on consumers and communities. Water, is after all THE essential to all life. What became evident at the outset was that a very small percentage of water systems in Canada are the design, build, finance, operate model that the elected representatives of Abbotsford and Mission and their consultant Deloitte & Touche had opted to pursue. In B.C. and Canada the vast majority of local governments opt to have water systems operated publicly. Usually the private sector is limited to the design/build activities of water systems.
The need for more water was not a fact that Council members in both Abbotsford and Mission were unaware of. Two very extensive consultant reports were released in 2006 and 2009 that made it very clear that in order to approve more residential, commercial and industrial development much more water was needed. ... A 2009 report prepared by Polis which recommended conservation as a way to have a sustainable water system and save up to 70% was released by the Abbotsford-Mission Water and Sewer Commission. See that report here. ...
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Vancouver British Columbia, the self-proclaimed "greenest city in the world," may quietly become the main tanker route for tar sands crude bound for China
Even now, dogfish, flounder, herring, salmon, sole, crabs, and shrimp are just some of the species still able to be harvested in the waters around Vancouver. For how long, we wonder. Forty years ago the smelt fishery among ethnic communities along English Bay and Spanish Banks was thriving. It was a social event. The whole city of Vancouver came out to watch and individuals casting their nets from shore could bring in hundreds of food fish in an evening. It is still going on (sorta). Nobody comes to watch anymore and the old-timers are lucky to get 20 fish in an evening, if that. What will happen when the oil spills start to become larger and more frequent? Does anybody (outside of a few old men) care anymore?Posted at: Thursday, June 09, 2011 - 07:51 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Intro: Premier Christy Clark announced Wednesday night that she has employed former Finning and Canfor CEO Jim Shepard as a special adviser. Shepard will be instrumental in implementing an "economic development plan with B.C.'s job creators that will focus our strengths and drive demand and knowledge about what B.C. does across Asia-Pacific, and all across North America," Clark told supporters at her annual Premier's Leader's Dinner. "Shepard is a man who makes change," Clark said. - Andrea Woo, Clark hires former CEO as an adviser, June 9, 2011. The Canadian Press reports today: "Clark says retired federal Conservative party heavyweights Stockwell Day and Chuck Strahl support her government, and she is appealing to the Liberal right wing by hiring former Canfor and Finning CEO Jim Shepard as a special adviser."
Item: Kinder Morgan's grand plan to pipe oil sands crude
Mitchell Anderson TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada June 2, 2011
Visit this page for its embedded links.
A quiet application to the National Energy Board (NEB) may soon vastly expand oil tanker traffic through the waters of Burrard Inlet, making Vancouver the major conduit of oils sands crude and bitumen to China.
Trans Mountain Pipeline, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan that operates the 300,000 barrel per day (bpd) pipeline from Alberta to B.C. and Washington State has applied to the NEB to enter into long-term buying contracts called "firm service." They are also requesting to divert more Alberta crude and bitumen capacity to the Westbridge tanker terminal in Burrard Inlet and away from existing land-based refineries in B.C. and Washington. If approved, this would immediately expand crude capacity through Vancouver from 52,000 bpd to 79,000 bpd -- an increase of more than 50 per cent.
Documents filed by Kinder Morgan also state that revenues from this new funding model would be used to further expand the pipeline capacity to the Burnaby tanker terminal to 450,000 bpd -- a six-fold increase. A power point presentation for investors by Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada Group, provides a wealth of information that has not been widely shared with the general public or local governments: ...
Related: How fish use energy teaches true oil economics
Andrew Nikiforuk TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada June 3, 2011
Visit this page for its embedded links.
Charlie Hall, the outspoken ecologist who charges that neoclassical economists largely write fairy tales, is having a good day in Puerto Rico. The sun is shining and girls in bikinis are walking down the beach. But Hall, as usual, is thinking about how surplus energy makes the world go around and why the U.S. economy is faltering.
Now Hall, a 68-year-old New England born professor with a gift for plain speaking, has made a name for himself by championing a revolutionary idea known as energy return on energy invested (EROI). Every plant, animal and human civilization lives by EROI. ... After his fish energy studies Hall, a student of the great ecologist Howard Odum, started thinking about energy gains in the oil patch in the early 1980s. He wondered if the industry experienced that same sort of declining returns over time that dogged the world's fisheries. As ships, nets and quantity of oil burned got larger, the protein returns per unit of energy invested shrank dramatically. Cutler Cleveland, then a muscular undergraduate and now an energy brain in his own right, investigated and came up with a puzzling graph. It was N shaped and showed energy gains for oil going up and down like a yo-yo. "The yield per foot of drilling would reach a minimum and then jump back up, then down even more sharply." Hall then asked Cleveland to add the number of feet drilled per year and then the graph showed a dramatic decline over time. "It was just like the fisheries." The Wall Street Journal reported on the findings with a headline that declared "Increased Drilling for Oil May Consume More Energy Than It Gleans." Like most of the media it then forgot all about EROI.
"Politicians who say, 'Drill, baby, drill' have their head up their asses," adds Hall. "You don't get more oil by drilling more. You just get less efficient returns. You only get more oil by drilling thoughtfully." But Hall's EROI work (and that of students and colleagues) unsettled the energy status quo. "We never got any money to do this," he reflects. "It all happened on weekends or pro bono. No government agency is interested in the information. Most science, to be honest, promises some form of candy. EROI doesn't do that and we don't do that." ...
Noted: Rhetorical question: British Columbians, aren't we lucky?
Dr. David E. Bond is the retired chief economist of HSBC Bank of Canada
Clark continues B.C.'s budget fantasy
David Bond Globe and Mail Canada June 9, 2011
Christy Clark, B.C.’s new Premier is in a tight spot. Her predecessor, Gordon Campbell, stripped the cupboard bare spending on the Olympics. Scores of important files were ignored, including a severely understaffed judiciary, a perverted energy market where electricity is sold south of the border for substantially less than what is paid for it in B.C., and absurd expenditures for things like a $500-million+ retractable roof on B.C. Place stadium.
And then there is the dreadfully unpopular Harmonized Sales Tax that Mr. Campbell introduced in his normal imperious fashion. An unprecedented campaign gathered enough signatures to force a referendum on the HST and it is far from certain the vote will be to approve the tax. ...
Eventually the reality will have to be faced. In the meantime Court back ups are ever growing, the education system continues to under perform, and infrastructure needs are being ignored. But we now have a retractable roof on BC stadium, a Vancouver convention centre that will never make money, a mixed up tax system and warm memories of the Olympics. Aren't we lucky?
Thursday, May 19, 2011
There's nobody on guard for the people of BC. Corporations? yes. Foreign corporations, oh yes.
When the Campbell Coalition gov't. made a secret deal to spirit British Columbia's publicly-owned railroad into the hands of the multinational, American-investor-controlled CN Rail (one of the keystones of the relentlessly advancing corporatist North American Union infrastructure), the Coalition withheld a spur line servicing the Roberts Bank superport in Delta and some surrounding lands owned by BCRail. They had planned to deal those assets to their cronies at American-based railroad and land company, OmniTrax, a political player in Canada, where it operates railroads in three provinces and owns the Manitoba grain-distributing Port of Churchill on Hudson Bay. That plan collapsed when evidence of alleged criminal behavior (leading to the trial of two Coalition aides) was revealed.Posted at: Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 04:01 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
There's nobody on guard for the people of BC. Corporations? yes. Foreign corporations, oh yes. But for some decent people watching over the economic wellbeing of ordinary citizens who do the jobs, pay the taxes, raise the kids, heal the wounded, volunteer, and care about the future ... who's actively safeguarding us? - BC Mary, proprietor of The Legislature Raids
So I ask you: is there some law against helping citizens resolve a legitimate, responsible inquiry into ... for example ... w.t.f. happened to the nation's 3rd largest railway? How come somebody else thinks they own it, against our wishes? Why is the deal they made with the Campbell Gang still partly secret? Why haven't charges been laid where bribery and deception have occurred? Is there some law that prevents the news of our world being presented to us as fairly and squarely as possible? Is there some law that says certain evil things can and should happen without recourse? ... You think I am kidding? I am not kidding. ... BC Mary, BC Rail: If privileged people do the stealing, does that make it OK for ordinary people to keep doing the losing out part?
Delta MLAs raise alarm over free trade zones
The Legislature Raids British Columbia Canada May 18, 2011
This page links to Sandor Gyarmati's full article in The Delta Optimist.
Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington is raising alarm bells that valuable agricultural land could be turned into a tax-free industrial wasteland. ... Noting South Delta and, in particular, land around the Deltaport container terminal would be prime candidates, Huntington asked Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Blair Lekstrom if the government is contemplating such a zone in Delta.
She said even though she had been told it could end up elsewhere, it's suspicious that B.C. Rail has stockpiled more land than it requires for rail expansion and that a land consolidation group is secretly optioning agricultural land in Delta. "A Dubai model free trade zone has nothing to do with community. The whole point of a modern free trade zone is to protect business from community. This isn't about jobs. It's about greed. It's about flipping land in Delta, and it's about the destruction of the finest agricultural land in Canada," Huntington said during question period Tuesday. ...
GCT Global Container Terminals Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and one of the largest financial institutions in Canada, wants the federal government to explore establishing foreign trade zones in this country. The company operates four container terminals through several principal businesses, including TSI Terminal Systems Inc. at Deltaport. ...
Foreign trade zone threatens Delta farmland, says MLA
Andrew MacLeod TheTyee.ca, The Hook blog British Columbia Canada May 17, 2011
The provincial government's interest in foreign trade zones is likely to lead to the destruction of more farm land in Delta, says independent MLA Vicki Huntington. ... Huntington and NDP Delta North MLA Guy Gentner both asked about foreign trade zones in question period today.
There's reason to be suspicious, Huntington said in the legislature, "When the former, former Minister of Transportation [Kevin Falcon] takes B.C. Rail to Dubai with him, when Global Container Terminals at Deltaport is owned in Dubai, when Global Container chairs the steering committee advocating free trade zones in B.C., when B.C. Rail has stockpiled more land than it requires for rail expansion and when a land consolidation group is secretly optioning agricultural land adjacent to the B.C. holdings in Delta." She asked, "Will the minister tell me whether this government is contemplating a free trade zone on the agricultural lands in Delta?" ...
Huntington said Delta includes key migratory bird habitat and more farm land should not be destroyed for a foreign trade zone. "It's money and big business and I don't think they're looking at the social and environmental factors," she said. "I am opposed to the destruction of Delta . . . We've done our share."
Related: CN investing $3.6 billion ...
The Legislature Raids British Columbia Canada May 17, 2011
Visit this page for its embedded links.
Richard Gilbert reports from Alberta:
... “CN is experiencing continued growth in Western Canadian freight volumes,” said Keith Creel, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer. “We are making strategic rail investments in Alberta to increase network capacity and improve train velocity along our transcontinental main line between Edmonton and Winnipeg, and to be positioned to handle greater volumes of freight over our line to Fort McMurray, the gateway to Alberta’s oilsands production region.” ... “Western Canada is an area where we are experiencing good traffic growth for bulk commodities, such as grain, coal, sulphur, potash, forest products and chemical goods,” said Mark Hallman, CN director of communications and public affairs. ...
Martin Cash reports from Manitoba:
CentrePort Canada has announced its first export project that will see Winnipeg’s location and rail assets leveraged to start shipping enhanced volumes of Manitoba agricultural commodities to China. The project includes partnership and collaboration with both CN and CP railroads as well as China’s largest logistics company and another Chinese company that has developed specialized technology used in container shipping of commodities from South America. The concept calls for locally grown soybeans, green peas and canola meal to be loaded into containers, taken by rail to B.C. ports and shipped to China, specifically to an inland port in the city of Chongqing. Diane Gray, CEO of CentrePort said the plan makes sense for all parties concerned. ... The railways are pleased because it will mean they will carry loaded containers on the back haul to China (as opposed to empty ones as is often the case), the Chinese market gets a more reliable supply of these agricultural commodities and CentrePort has a debut program that it may eventually build infrastructure around to support.
Gordon Hamilton reports:
When [Vancouver Island's] Port Alberni Mayor Ken McRae sees a freighter leaving his coastal sawmilling town loaded with wood, the pride he once felt has turned to a deep concern for the future of the British Columbia coastal forest industry. Once those ships were loaded with lumber. Now, half the cargo is logs.
Log exports have exploded in B.C. in the last few months, largely to feed China's voracious appetite for fibre. McRae is not opposed to exports; they have a place in a healthy industry, he said. But he fears China's appetite for B.C. logs is going to cut into manufacturing here. "China, Korea and Japan are paying more for logs than most of our sawmillers can afford. It's a huge issue that's going to come back to bite us," he said in an interview.
McRae is not the only one who sees a structural change taking place in the global forest industry with huge implications for B.C. China is switching from relying on the vast forests of the Russian Far East, where log exports are now restricted, to the countries of the Pacific Rim, said Gerry Van Leeuwen, vice-president of the research firm International Wood Markets. And B.C., which still accounts for a small piece of China's log import pie, is China's fastest-growing source of fibre in a string of countries around the Pacific. ...
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Granny snatching in British Columbia: A sad end to a sad story
We've been following the Kathleen Palamarek story for some time (check the archives). Throughout the course of the affair some very disturbing revelations surfaced involving the conduct of the police investigating the narcotic poisoning incident of Kathleen at Broadmead Lodge, specifically undisclosed and inappropriate connections between the police and the care facility. On Tuesday, May 3rd, the judge released his decision on the guardianship court case that ended on February 18, 2011. On Wednesday, May 4th, Kathleen Palamarek died. On May 5, the following article was published commenting on the judge's reasons for decision.Posted at: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - 10:30 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Call me uniformed if you will, but I always thought that Canadian and American legal systems, having a common origin in the English law going back to the Magna Carta, included similar protections. I absolutely did not know that there is no lawyer-client privilege in Canada! (Sarcasm intended if not understood.) ... This is a shocking revelation, especially since there are ongoing efforts to “harmonize” or meld Canadian laws with US laws, including or should I say, especially, those concerning elder abuse. - Ron Winter. Ronald Winter is an author, public relations executive, college professor and award winning journalist. He regularly writes and speaks on the military and politics. Ron is author of the book Masters of the Art, A Fighting Marine’s Memoir of Vietnam published by Random House, and writes "Winter's Soldier Story", his website blog column. His newest work of non-fiction is Granny Snatching, How a 92-Year-Old Widow Fought the Courts and Her Family to Win Her Freedom about a US case of institutionalized elder abuse. He was featured in 2004 in the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project; is an adjunct professor of communication at the University of Hartford; is a judge for the annual Connecticut Young Writers competition; and is a director for Michael J. London & Associates Public Relations firm in Trumbull, CT. Ron Winter has depth, breadth and credibility.
Granny snatching: Canada judge rules institution trumps home care for elderly
Ron Winter Connecticut Watchdog USA May 5, 2011
... Mrs. Palamarek’s daughter, Lois Sampson, has spent three years trying to free her mother from Broadmead, to no avail. The ruling from B.C. Justice David Harris, coming more than two months after the end of a trial in which Mrs. Sampson brought in myriad legal and medical experts who questioned the quality of Mrs. Palamarek’s care and the advisability of her continued residence at Broadmead apparently puts an end to the case. ...
Mrs. Sampson, aided by her husband Gil, elder care advocates, pharmaceutical experts and doctors, maintained that her mother wanted to leave Broadmead, and has repeatedly expressed a wish to do so. Justice Harris’s 70-page opinion, however, rejects every argument put forth by Mrs. Sampson’s witnesses, deferring instead to medical testimony provided by the Lodge, particularly on the types of drugs administered to Mrs. Palamarek, the widow of a World War II veteran. ...
Justice Harris further opined that Mrs. Palamarek may have said that she was unhappy living at Broadmead Lodge and wanted to move out because she was “delusional.” But the evidence he cites as valid came more from recent statements from Mrs. Palamarek who has demonstrably been heavily medicated – to the point of necessitating a 911 call in February and an ambulance trip to a nearby emergency room where she was administered an antidote for narcotic poisoning – rather than her wishes as expressed three years ago.
“Her more recent views, to the extent they are reliable, are more probative of the issue before me than what she said or did in 2008.” Well, if Mrs. Palamarek is in fact suffering from progressive dementia wouldn’t it make sense that she would have had a clearer mind three or four years ago than now?
So, why the contradictions?
The decision also states that during the trial it was discovered that the first lawyer retained to represent Kathleen Palamarek in the three year legal battle, had in his files two audio recordings Mrs. Palamarek made in July and August 2008 in which she clearly stated that she was unhappy living in Broadmead Lodge and wanted to leave.
That was four months before she left the lodge on Oct. 27, 2008 for three days of freedom before a squad of police, ambulance attendants and health authority personnel forcibly removed her from Lois Sampson’s condominium in downtown Victoria, under British Columbia’s mental health act, eventually returning her to Broadmead.
Justice Harris wrote that “Mrs. Sampson submitted that those recordings not only disclose Mrs. Palamarek’s strong desire to leave the Lodge and live with her, but also belie the opinions expressed by the experts (testifying for Broadmead Lodge) that Mrs. Palamarek was not oriented to time and place and was incapable of expressing reliable opinions about her medical care and who should look after her.”
Further Justice Harris states that while “in those recordings Mrs. Palamarek certainly expresses her unhappiness living at the Lodge … the audio recordings do not assist me in concluding that Mrs. Palamarek’s wishes, as stated in those discussions, are reliable and should be given weight.” ...