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Topic: Regional NewsThe new items published under this topic are as follows.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Oil and LNG profits may be only a British Columbia corporatists' pipe dream but the potential damage endangers the entire province. What might the cumulative impacts be? Hardly anyone in government or industry appears to be asking
There are people, corporations, and government departments rushing for something they are not sure is there. It is more of a holy grail than anything thought out or substantive. And when they get caught up in that, like in the Klondike gold rush, all rational thinking goes out the window. - Richard Overstall, a lawyer specializing in natural resource and aboriginal issues, cited buy Bill MetcalfePosted at: Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - 06:33 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Scale and speed of industrial development in northwest B.C. undermines environmental assessment
Bill Metcalfe Vancouver Observer British Columbia Canada December 3, 2013
The rush to develop LNG has resulted in multiple proposals for pipelines to transport gas from the northeastern B.C. to the coast. (Map courtesy of Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, updated November 30, 2013.) This item contains one embedded link and several related links.
A juggernaut of industrial development in northwestern BC is overwhelming environmental groups, First Nations, and other citizens trying to keep up with environmental assessments. There was a time when they could concentrate of one or two projects without allowing several others to slip past them unnoticed. Not any more.
Shannon McPhail and her colleagues at the Skeena Watershed Protection Coalition worked hard for several years supporting the Tahltan Nation’s fight against Shell Canada’s proposed shale gas project in the Sacred Headwaters. In 2012, Shell abandoned the project, with compensation from the provincial government.
McPhail says she focussed entirely on Shell, to the exclusion of other environmental issues, for many months. “We put blinders on, kept our heads down. That was a strategic decision and we ignored everything else.”
But after the victory she got a shock when she raised her head and took a look around.
She saw hundreds of billions of dollars worth of liquid natural gas (LNG) plants, natural gas pipelines, mines, run-of-river hydro, port upgrades, and industry upgrades, all in different stages of proposal, investment, acceptance and construction.
“We were completely overwhelmed because we were getting hundreds of referrals,” McPhail says. “We thought, wow, there is so much going on and it is all happening so fast, we don’t feel like anybody has a handle on it.”
Richard Overstall, a Smithers lawyer specializing in natural resource and aboriginal issues, says there is no way the public can keep up.
Below: What do the general (and generally ill-informed) public get fed? Smoke and mirrors.
Economic benefits from Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion unfounded
Robyn Allan Vancouver Observer British Columbia Canada November 29, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded, appended and related links and video.
Evaluating whether heavy oil pipeline projects are in the public interest can be a challenge when information put forward by proponents is not transparent. When this happens, they must be held accountable.
This is important especially in the area of economic benefits—one of the main drivers behind energy infrastructure projects.
The most recent case in point is Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain expansion. A recent video on the company’s website enthusiastically promotes the economic benefits of the project. The voiceover warns of vast economic losses if we don’t approve Trans Mountain’s expansion and huge gains if we do.
Related: BC's land oil spill response isn't remotely 'world-leading'
Robyn Allan TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada December 2, 2013
B.C. protestors take on heavy oil pipelines and tankers as part of a nation-wide demo on Nov. 16. Photo: Pete Rockwell. Visit this page for its embedded and related links.
Editor's note: In July 2012, the B.C. government announced five conditions which must be met before it would consider the approval of heavy oil pipeline projects in the province. For The Tyee, independent economist Robyn Allan has so far looked at the first two conditions in the context of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, available here and here. In those examinations, Allan argued that the province has far from proven its commitment to meeting its own conditions over the years. Today, she breaks down the third condition, that B.C. develop "world-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems" and hold companies like Enbridge and Kinder Morgan accountable to them.]
Terrestrial oil spills are fundamentally a provincial responsibility. Whereas Ottawa is responsible for federal lands, species at risk, migratory fish and birds and their habitats, the rest falls under the purview of the province. The province's land-based spill preparedness and response principles in its five conditions for heavy oil pipelines represent "a starting point for discussion with industry and Canada towards building a world leading terrestrial spill management system for B.C."
However, more than four years earlier the province was aware it was playing Russian roulette with B.C.'s land-based resources. The Ministry of Environment commissioned an independent study in 2008 that found funding for spill preparedness and response was sorely lacking, and that provincial legislation was weak. There was no long-term liability for the restoration of resources damaged or destroyed by the release of hazardous materials. Recommendations to address the inadequate regime were made, but the government took no apparent action.
Following its five conditions, another discussion paper was released cataloguing how B.C. trailed the terrestrial spill preparedness and response regimes in neighbouring jurisdictions like Alaska, Washington and California. These are regions where diluted bitumen transport is not the threat it is in B.C., and yet these states have industry-funded -- not taxpayer-funded -- annual spill prevention, compliance and management budgets which are four to 10 times greater than B.C.'s $2.4 million.
B.C.'s Environmental Emergency Program only has 16 staff, albeit hard working and dedicated, since they respond to an average of 14 minor emergencies a day with an average of at least one of those incidents classified as more serious. B.C.'s staff pales in comparison to that of neighbours north and south. Strapped resources mean prevention and preparedness take a back seat to response, which inevitably increases spill risk.
Below: What do the general (and generally ill-informed) public get fed? Not only smoke and mirrors from the corporations but also bombast from the corporations' paid-for politicians.
Oil spill risk addressed by West Coast tanker safety report
CBC News British Columbia Canada December 3, 2013
Visit this page for its related videos.
Potential polluters should be prepared for a worst-case scenario and face unlimited liability in the case of an oil spill from one of their tanker ships, a government-appointed panel recommends.
Federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt and Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver were in Vancouver Tuesday afternoon to release a report about oil tanker safety on the West Coast.
“No project will proceed unless it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment,” said Oliver.
The report was written by a three-member panel of experts appointed by the government, with 45 recommendations for improving Canada's preparedness for oil spills from tankers and barges.
Among the key recommendations: ...
Raitt welcomed the report Tuesday while listing a series of actions she said the government has already taken to improve tanker safety.
But Ottawa isn't adopting any of the recommendations, at least not yet.
Art Sterritt, the executive director of Coastal First Nations, is critical of the federal government's approach. "Whether you call it world class or you have a world-class expert panel — it doesn't matter what you call it. These people don't have anything that gives Coastal First Nations any comfort."
The province said the report is a positive development — but it, too, is waiting to see results.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
British Columbia gov't to sacrifice long-term food sovereignty for short-term pollution and profit: Agricultural Land Commission could be dismantled
The Agricultural Land Commission was established in 1974 as concerns grew in B.C. about the 6,000 hectares (14,827 acres) a year of prime agricultural land then being lost to development.Posted at: Thursday, November 07, 2013 - 05:49 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
‘Sacrosanct’ Agricultural Land Commission eyed for breakup
Mark Hume Globe and Mail Canada November 7, 2013
Farmworkers harvest cabbages at a farm in Richmond, B.C., November 6, 2013. Documents suggest splitting the ALR into two zones, where different rules would apply. The ALR currently protects all agricultural land across the province, but Mr. Pimm would like to see the land in the Okanagan and Fraser valleys and Vancouver Island in one zone, with land in the Interior, Kootenays and everything north of the Okanagan in a second zone. Photo: John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail. Visit this page for its related links.
British Columbia’s “sacrosanct” Agricultural Land Commission will be effectively dismantled and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission will assume new responsibilities for land use decisions if a proposal prepared for cabinet is adopted, according to confidential government documents.
Information obtained by The Globe and Mail shows that B.C. Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm is preparing to ask cabinet to endorse a plan to “modernize” the ALC, an independent Crown agency, which has overseen and protected about four million hectares of farmland for 40 years. Under the plan, the ALC – long a thorn in the side of developers who want to free up farmland – would move within the Ministry of Agriculture, apparently ending its autonomy from government.
The move reflects the rapid ascendancy of the oil and gas industry in B.C., which has become a prime focus of government.
“The Agricultural Land Commission legislative mandate is too narrow to allow decisions that align with the priority for economic development,” is the message Mr. Pimm will deliver, according to a document labelled Cabinet Decision Summary Sheet.
The document provides a point-by-point description of the steps Mr. Pimm wants to take. It calls on cabinet to allow him to “develop the necessary policy, regulatory and legislative amendments” he needs to implement dramatic change.
Energy Minister Bill Bennett – who earlier this year identified the ALC as a target when he promised the government’s core review would “look at some sacrosanct things, like … the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Agricultural Land Commission” – returned a call made to Mr. Pimm’ s office.
“It’s a cabinet process and you apparently have a cabinet document. I’m not permitted … to talk about cabinet processes and the things that are being discussed,” said Mr. Bennett, who is in charge of the core review.
“Nothing that the core review process could potentially do would reduce the protection for farmland in British Columbia,” he said. “Bottom line. There is nothing that we would contemplate that would reduce or undermine the central principle of the Agricultural Land Reserve, which is the protection of farmland and the sustainability of farming.”
According to a second unmarked document, Mr. Pimm will propose splitting the ALR into two zones, where different rules would apply. The ALR currently protects all agricultural land across the province, but Mr. Pimm would like to see the land in the Okanagan and Fraser valleys and Vancouver Island in one zone, with land in the Interior, Kootenays and everything north of the Okanagan in a second zone.
The move appears designed to allow the government to ease the way for resource development in the northeast, where oil and gas development has increasingly been in conflict with farmers and ranchers.
Mr. Pimm spent 25 years working in the oil and gas industry before being elected to the provincial legislature. His appointment by Premier Christy Clark as Agriculture Minister was seen as an early sign the Liberal government didn’t want the ALC to hinder energy resource development.
B.C.'s Agricultural Land Commission could be dismantled
CBC News Canada November 7, 2013
Workers harvest cranberries on a farm in Richmond, B.C. According to leaked cabinet documents, the government is looking to split the agricultural land commission into two regions: one including the Fraser Valley, Okanagan and southern Vancouver Island, and one for the rest of the province. Photo: Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press. This page contains related links, audio and video.
The minister reviewing B.C.'s core operations says the Agricultural Land Commission will not be turned over to politicians or bureaucrats and that it will continue in its mission to protect good farmland, despite indications to the contrary from leaked cabinet documents.
Bill Bennett, B.C.'s minister of energy and mines, was responding to a report in Thursday's Globe and Mail indicating that the ALC would effectively be dismantled, with new powers over land use granted to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.
According to cabinet documents obtained by The Globe, the ALC would move within the Ministry of Agriculture, ending its autonomy, while the Agricultural Land Reserve would be split into two zones — one for the Okanagan, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, and another for the rest of the province.
The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a provincial zone, governed by the ALC, in which agricultural uses are prioritized and non-agricultural uses are controlled. The ALR currently covers approximately 4.7 million hectares.
Bennett, appearing on CBC's "The Early Edition", said his review will not alter the central principle that underlies the ALR — "the protection of good farmland and the sustainability of farming and farm families. That’s not at risk in any way.”
“We are far more focused at looking not just the Agricultural Land Commission but all of our Crown agencies, and what we’re looking at is: is there is some duplication or overlap within that organization? Does somebody else do the same thing? Is there a way to improve the service that organization provides to the public?”
He said that no final decisions have been made regarding the future of the ALC, but that going forward land-use decisions need to be balanced.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
The ‘Wild West’ of groundwater: Nestlé extracting B.C.’s drinking water for free. “We have water that’s so clean and so pure, it’s amazing. And then they take it and sell it back to us in plastic bottles”
The ‘Wild West’ of groundwater: Billion-dollar Nestlé extracting B.C.’s drinking water for freePosted at: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 03:53 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Dan Fumano The Province British Columbia Canada August 14, 2013
Sheila Muxlow, pictured outside Nestle's bottling plant near Hope on Aug. 12, 2013, has concerns about Nestle withdrawing millions of litres of water without payment. Photo: Wayne Leidenfrost/PNG
The price of a litre of bottled water in B.C. is often higher than a litre of gasoline.
However, the price paid by the world’s largest bottled water company for taking 265 million litres of fresh water every year from a well in the Fraser Valley — not a cent.
Because of B.C.’s lack of groundwater regulation, Nestlé Waters Canada — a division of the multi-billion-dollar Switzerland-based Nestlé Group, the world’s largest food company — is not required to measure, report, or pay a penny for the millions of litres of water it draws from Hope and then sells across Western Canada.
According to the provincial Ministry of Environment, “B.C. is the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn’t regulate groundwater use.”
“The province does not license groundwater, charge a rental for groundwater withdrawals or track how much bottled water companies are taking from wells,” said a Ministry of Environment spokesperson in an email to The Province.
This isn’t new. Critics have been calling for change for years now, saying the lack of groundwater regulation is just one outdated example from the century-old Water Act.
The Ministry of Environment has said they plan — in the 2014 legislature sitting — to introduce groundwater regulation with the proposed Water Sustainability Act, which would update and replace the existing Water Act, established in 1909. But experts note that successive governments have been talking about modernizing water for decades, but the issue keeps falling off the agenda.
This time, many hope it will be different.
“It’s really the Wild West out here in terms of groundwater. And it’s been going on for over 20 years, that the Ministry of Environment, the provincial government has been saying that they’re going to make these changes, and it just hasn’t gone through yet,” said Linda Nowlan, conservation director from World Wildlife Fund Canada.
In the District of Hope, Nestlé’s well draws from the same aquifer relied upon by about 6,000 nearby residents, and some of them are concerned.
“We have water that’s so clean and so pure, it’s amazing. And then they take it and sell it back to us in plastic bottles,” said Hope resident Sharlene Harrison-Hinds. ...
Related: The WaterWealth Project is about empowering community residents to regain control over decisions that affect their home waters - the rivers, lakes and aquifers that are the arteries of our towns, cities and regions. The WaterWealth Project is located in Chilliwack, British Columbia.
The WaterWealth Project homepage
The WaterWealth Project is a non-partisan, citizen-driven campaign that works to amplify the voices of local community members who love the place in which they live, the nature around them, and the waters that sustain them. We are a diverse mix of local residents, including teachers, business owners, fishers, farmers and doctors. We are mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, children and grandparents.
Our goal is 100% community control over decisions affecting our local home waters. We recognize that long term solutions to the protection of fresh water – and the benefits that we all enjoy from our water wealth – can only be achieved with a recognition of First Nations rights and title. We work for local communities to have the power to say 'yes' or 'no' to decisions that affect the wealth of their water.
We believe that water is precious, and that ordinary people can protect it. We believe that our wealth is in our water. Many local people – especially in the agriculture, fishing and tourism sectors - depend on water for their livelihoods. But our waters give us more than financial revenue. Water wealth is also about the physical, spiritual, cultural and ecological prosperity that water makes possible. All living things depend on healthy water. Our land, food and life-support systems are all powered by fresh clean flowing water.
But right now, the protection of our shared home waters faces grave challenges. Industrial developments such as heavy oil pipelines, agricultural pollution and large-scale gravel mining can all put the waters we depend on at risk.
The WaterWealth Project is about taking a fresh approach to economic-well-being, one that respects the needs of all living beings and provides the foundation for healthy, thriving communities. We recognize that the actions of today drive the outcomes of tomorrow. Unless ordinary people work together to protect their water now, the future will be uncertain.
Our wealth is in our water. Let's work to protect it.
Council of Canadians Canada n.d.
Visit this page for its links.
The Council is a leader in fights to protect Canada’s freshwater sources. Our campaign work focuses on recognizing water as part of a shared commons. Water is a human right and as such, must be protected from privatization, pollution and bulk exports. We are campaigning to protect the Great Lakes from pollution, misuse and government neglect. We are working to stop fracking, a natural gas extraction process that uses and pollutes massive volumes of water, and Schedule 2, a legal loophole that allows mining companies to dump their toxic waste in lakes and rivers. We encourage community empowerment and involvement through our “Blue Communities Project.” In Canada, there is no national strategy to address urgent water issues and no federal leadership to conserve and protect our water. We are campaigning for a National Water Policy that will safeguard communities' water. Water is vital to people’s health and livelihoods. Join us in taking action to protect water!
Sunday, July 28, 2013
British Columbia: Inside BC Hydro's recent effort to 'better understand' the 60,000 customers still refusing smart meters & Class action lawsuit against smart meters launched
A focus group for smart meter foesPosted at: Sunday, July 28, 2013 - 11:40 AM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Bob Mackin TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada July 26, 2013
"My name's Cam... my full name is Cam Davis," said the man in the cream blazer with a white shirt and brown horn-rimmed glasses. "In case you're wondering, I'm a real person, in real time. My job is basically to conduct focus groups with people like you."
Eight people surrounded "real-time Cam" at a table in the Whistler Room at the Vancouver office of SmartPoint Research, including a geoscientist, teacher, social worker, fashion designer and retiree. Each was paid $85 cash for showing up before 5:30 p.m. and staying for the two-hour session on July 9.
All were opponents of BC Hydro's smart meter program; several wondered aloud how they were chosen. (One of them recorded the meeting and leaked it to a reporter.)
"The list of names was given to me and I'm just emphasizing to you that I'm not an employee of our client," Davis said, holding a pencil in his right hand. "You probably know who our client is."
Davis didn't tell them that he was among Canada's top focus group moderators, with a doctorate in sociology from McMaster University. His Parksville-based company, SDR Survey, was paid $195,000 for the 12 months ending March 31, 2012 by BC Hydro, according to the Crown corporation's financial statements.
The aim of the focus group, a Hydro spokesperson later explained, was to better understand the concerns and questions of the 60,000 remaining customers who refused the installation of smart meters in their homes, "and find out how to best communicate with them."
"I'm not here to sell anything to you. I'm an independent contractor and we do have clients in the back. They are watching this," the focus group leader said, referring to an adjacent room behind a one-way mirror. Davis warned the panel to use first names only. The proceedings were being recorded, he said, for his own purposes to write a report.
"I'm not writing a report for them to submit to you; it's the other way around. I'm your advocate. I'm listening. There's no right or wrong answers; I don't want you to please me," he said. "You may not have an opinion, that's fine. No opinion is an opinion to me."
Two days after this session, Energy Minister Bill Bennett said Hydro would probably allow opt-outs for the 60,000 holdouts. On July 18, he confirmed the strategy, but the proposed costs for manual readings were not made public. That would come later in an application to the B.C. Utilities Commission -- the same regulatory body the government deliberately bypassed when it launched the $930-million smart grid project.
In hindsight, the July aboutface was not a shock. The election-conscious Liberals seemed to soften their stance in January when Bennett's predecessor, Rich Coleman, said customers wouldn't be forced to accept smart meters. Hydro contractors were, however, going to visit opponents in an effort to "re-educate" them about the devices. ...
Related: Class action lawsuit against smart meters launched
TheTyee.ca, The Hook blog British Columbia Canada July 26, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
The operator of a Salt Spring Island yoga and meditation retreat has taken the first step in an anti-smart meters, class action lawsuit against BC Hydro.
A statement of claim filed yesterday said BC Hydro installed a smart meter on Aug. 22, 2012 against the wishes of Nomi Davis, whose requests for removal of the microwave device have been refused. The installation was recorded and uploaded to YouTube.
"The installation and operation of the microwave device is an act that exceeds the scope of the defendant's right to access the plaintiff's property for the purpose of reading, repairing or replacing the meter," said the claim, filed by Nelson lawyer David Aaron. "By installing the microwave device, the defendant has added a communication device to the meter that is not necessary to the functionality of the meter as required by law and yet has material implications on the rights of the plaintiff."
The claim says the smart meter has disrupted Davis's quiet enjoyment of the property and the yoga and meditation sessions at her residence.
"The presence of a device with bio-effects on the plaintiff's property has disrupted the integrity of the space as a sanctuary for meditation, peace of mind and resonant attunement," said the court filing. ...
"The defendant uses the threat of cutting of electrical supply to compel the plaintiff to accept the continued operation of the Microwave device at the property," said the documents.* "Without any contractual or statutory right, the defendant has used its monopoly status to coercively and deceptively impose the microwave device on the plaintiff against her express wishes."
Aaron will be seeking a judge's certification of the lawsuit as a class-action, which could open the door to hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs. BC Hydro has yet to file a statement of defence. ...
BC Hydro hit with smart meter class-action lawsuit
The Canadian Press/CBC News Canada July 27, 2013
A [Salt Spring] Island woman has initiated a class-action lawsuit against B.C. Hydro over smart meters.
Nomi Davis is suing the utility for installing a smart meter at her home last year against her wishes.
Court documents say Davis was concerned about the device's high-frequency emissions and when she asked Hydro to remove it, the company threatened to cut off the electrical supply.
The lawsuit demands that Hydro remove meters from homes where people don't want them and calls for the company to be blocked from charging additional fees to people who opt out of the smart meter program. ...
The B.C. government says the provincial health officer, Health Canada and the World Health Organization report that smart meters pose no known health risks.
Note: The court filing (registered July 25, 2013) says the microwave device installed in smart meters emits radiation at 902 to 928 Megahertz and that the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified those emissions as possibly cancer-causing. The filing concedes that the scientific community is divided on whether exposure causes harm to humans.
Ancillary items: 1) The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has granted FortisBC conditional approval to install smart meters. 2) Conflict of interest revealed in panel investigating the potential health risks of smart meters—chairman voluntarily resigns.
BCUC grants conditional approval to FortisBC for smart meter installation
Sean Kolenko Business in Vancouver British Columbia Canada July 26, 2013
The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has granted FortisBC conditional approval to install smart meters.
The approval hinges on FortisBC providing the BCUC with a detailed opt-out plan for its customers by November 1.
The BCUC decision came in a more than 200-page report released July 23.
"The BCUC's decision is lengthy and we have a responsibility to our customers to review it before making a commitment to moving forward with the project," read a statement on FortisBC's website.
"We believe advanced meters are an accurate, reliable and safe way to deliver energy. Advanced meters will provide a range of benefits to our customers, including economic benefits and safety improvements for utility workers, first responders and the general public. Our focus is to deliver energy safely and reliably at the lowest reasonable cost."
According to the decision, the approved capital budget for the smart meters is nearly $60 million. Over a span of 20 years, the smart meters are expected to reduce operating and theft costs by $13.9 million cumulatively.
Smart meter investigation under fire from B.C. groups
Sean Kolenko Business in Vancouver British Columbia Canada July 23, 2013
Two B.C.-based advocacy groups want an independent panel investigating the potential health risks of wireless devices disbanded after the panel’s chairman resigned because of a conflict of interest.
The Royal Society of Canada, a more-than-century-old research association based in Ottawa, is preparing a report on the effects of radio-frequency fields from wireless telecommunication devices such as cellphones and smart meters.
But on July 9, Daniel Krewski, chairman of the expert panel assembled to produce the study, voluntarily resigned because he previously worked for Industry Canada in a public relations role addressing concerns about cell towers and antennas. The Canadian Medical Association Journal was the first to mention Krewski’s former job and raise the conflict-of-interest allegations with the Royal Society.
As a result, the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters (CSSM) and Citizens for Safe Technology (CST) – the groups opposed to the installation of smart meters in B.C. because of perceived health risks – are demanding the panel be disbanded and reassembled with a bias-free group of experts. The groups claim that if the panel is not recast its conclusions will be suspect. ...
Monday, July 22, 2013
Considering police violence in British Columbia
With hundreds of police involved fatalities over the last 15 years, B.C. has the largest number of deaths per year of any of the six provinces and territories for which numbers were available. Part of the reason for that is the near complete absence of accountability when police officers shoot citizens. - Norman FarrellPosted at: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 06:23 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Head shot to disarmed, badly injured man OK
Norman Farrell Northern Insight British Columbia Canada July 18, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
A June 26 release by the BC Civil Liberties Association:
VANCOUVER – The BC Civil Liberties Association and the family of Paul Boyd are pleased with the BC Criminal Justice Branch’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor to reconsider the laying of criminal charges in the police shooting death of Paul Boyd in August 2007. The appointment comes two years after the Criminal Justice Branch originally refused requests from the BCCLA and the Boyd Family to appoint a special prosecutor, saying that it would not be in the public interest.
While appointment of respected lawyer Mark Jetté is appropriate, the record of special prosecutors in British Columbia is not a good one. Because many law firms and senior lawyers have regular business relationships with government, they are not free from prejudice and favouritism. They tend to deliver results desired by the ministry that hires them.
Police accountability for wrongful deaths and major misconduct fails routinely because senior police and public officials close ranks to protect wrongdoers with whom they are associated. The response occurs because the consequences of full and frank disclosures of wrongdoing would be costly and damaging to reputations of agencies and institutions. They choose instead to let individual families suffer tragedies. ...
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The Christy Clark government has an LNG pipe dream. Because of the horrid economics of fracking and its massive environmental pollution, that pipe dream may prove a nightmare
A nightmare is a dream occurring during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that results in feelings of strong terror, fear, distress or extreme anxiety. - Psychology Today, Definition Dictionary, Nightmares. The origin of pipe dream refers to visions experienced as a result of taking opiates (referring to the opium pipe). The origin of nightmare refers to a demon or spirit once thought to plague sleeping people. Taken together, they pretty much sum up the current political economy of British Columbia.Posted at: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 12:27 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Is British Columbia's gas plan a pipe dream? Why BC needs an LNG Plan B
Salt Spring News British Columbia Canada July 7, 2013
Related: Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and chief research officer at Unitas Communications Ltd, both in London; his latest book is A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, Pluto Press, 2010, which inspired the award-winning documentary feature film The Crisis of Civilization, 2011. This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of le monde diplomatique.
What happens when the shale boom goes boom?
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed Canadian Dimension Canada June 11, 2013
Visit this page for its embedded links.
Recent headlines in the US press about the coming economic boom heralded by the shale gas revolution would lead you to think we are literally swimming in oil. A spate of reports last year, in particular the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook (WEO) in November 2012, forecast that the US will outstrip Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2017, becoming, as Reuters put it, “all but self-sufficient in net terms” in energy production. According to the IEA, the projected increase in oil production from 84 mbpd (million barrels per day) in 2011 to 97 mbpd in 2035 will come “entirely from natural gas liquids and unconventional sources” — largely shale oil and gas — while conventional oil output will begin to fall from 2013.
These resources can only be mined at the cost of massive environmental pollution: their extraction involves hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”; pressurised injection of a mixture of water, sand and detergents to create new cracks in the rock to force out the gas), using the technique of horizontal drilling. But their exploitation in the US has brought about the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and offers the advantage of cheap and abundant energy. ExxonMobil’s 2013 Energy Outlook says the shale gas revolution will make the US a net exporter by 2025. But is the shale revolution all it’s fracked up to be? The ongoing fragility of the global economy should give pause for thought. Spain’s once flourishing economy — the Eurozone’s fourth largest in 2008 — is now in dire straits as its supposedly unstoppable property bubble burst unexpectedly that same year, with house prices dropping by a third. But policymakers have learnt few lessons from the 2008 crash, and may be on course to repeat similar mistakes in the petroleum sector.
A New York Times investigation first unearthed major cracks in the “shale boom” narrative in June 2011, finding that state geologists, industry lawyers and market analysts “privately” questioned “whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves.” According to the paper, “the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells.”
In early 2012, two US energy consultants, writing in the flagship British energy industry journal Petroleum Review, sounded the alarm. They noted a strong “basis for reasonable doubts about the reliability and durability of US shale gas reserves” which have been “inflated” under new Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules introduced in 2009. The new rules allow gas companies to claim reserve sizes without any independent third party audit.
The overestimation of reserve sizes is being used by oil industry majors to obscure the dodgy economics of fracking. Apart from the harmful effects on the environment, the problem is one of production rates, which start high but fall fast. In Nature, former UK chief government scientist Sir David King, co-writing with scientists from his Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, noted that production at wells drops off by as much as 60–90 percent within the first year.
Such a rapid decline has made shale gas distinctly unprofitable. As production declines, operators are forced to drill new wells to sustain production levels and service debt. Rocketing production at inception, combined with the economic slowdown, drove US natural gas prices from about $7–8 per million cubic feet in 2008 down to less than $3 per million cubic feet in 2012.
Finance specialists have not been taken in. “The economics of fracking are horrid,” writes US financial journalist Wolf Richter in Business Insider. “Drilling is destroying capital at an astonishing rate, and drillers are left with a mountain of debt just when decline rates are starting to wreak their havoc. To keep the decline rates from mucking up income statements, companies had to drill more and more, with new wells making up for the declining production of old wells. Alas, the scheme hit a wall, namely reality.”
Arthur Berman, a petroleum geologist who worked with Amoco (before its merger with BP) says that “the decline rates [of the] shale reservoirs experience … are incredibly high.” ...
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Is British Columbia's gas plan a pipe dream? Why BC needs an LNG Plan B
Below: Seismic shifts in global gas market threaten Premier Clark's vision argues Ben Parfitt. (In support, Mikkal Herberg, research director of the energy security program at the Seattle-based National Bureau of Asian Research, calls LNG "the biggest and highest-risk piece of the global energy business these days.")Posted at: Sunday, July 07, 2013 - 03:38 PM -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: (#)
Why BC needs an LNG Plan B
Ben Parfitt TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada June 25, 2013
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In January, one of the world's most sophisticated deep-sea drilling vessels, the $540-million Chikyu, left the Japanese Port of Shimizu destined for a distant point in the Phillippine Sea.
The voyage marked a milestone in what by then was an 18-year, $700-million research and development effort aimed at one day weaning Japan off of its dependence on oil, natural gas and coal imports.
What the scientists and technicians aboard the Chikyu were after was a form of natural gas known as methane hydrate. Methane hydrate is exotic stuff. Ice that you can set on fire. But don't confuse its exoticism with rarity. As investigative science journalist Charles C. Mann notes in a timely piece in The Atlantic, there is an awful lot of it around.
Methane hydrate forms when plankton and other tiny organisms in the ocean die and slowly drift to the seabed. Microorganisms feeding on the dead material emit methane.
"This undersea methane bubbles up," Mann writes, "but it quickly encounters the extremely cold water in the pores of the sediment. Under the high pressure of these cold depths, water and methane react to each other: water lattices link into crystalline lattices that trap methane molecules."
According to the US Geological Survey, the seabed methane hydrate fossil fuel resource is stupefyingly vast: By a conservative estimate, more than two times greater than all other known fossil fuels on earth.
If Japan figures out how to economically extract methane hydrate - and those aboard the Chikyu believe it will in as few as 10 years -- Mann warns that "petro autocracies" like Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia could be in a lot of trouble. Japan is, after all, the third largest net importer of oil on Earth.
Mann doesn't discuss what this would mean for smaller players in the global fossil fuel trade or for those jurisdictions that are chomping at the bit to enter the game; let's call them petro pretenders. But it's hard to see how they wouldn't pay a steep price too in the face of a global gas glut. When commodities flood markets, sellers lose. Buyers win.
British Columbia, as anyone who has followed Premier Christy Clark's economic pronouncements will tell you, is a petro-pretender. The Premier maintains that in less than a decade the province will be a major seller of natural gas to countries on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, including Japan.
The Premier's economic vision can be drilled down to three initials: LNG, or liquified natural gas. Liquefied natural gas, the Premier says, holds the key to a debt-free future and tens upon tens of billions of dollars flowing into a future prosperity fund that pays for improved health care and education. In just 20 to 30 years, LNG exports from B.C. could generate $1 trillion in economic activity, the Premier claims.
To underscore the importance she places on LNG, Clark recently appointed her cabinet ally, Rich Coleman, to the new position of minister of natural gas development. Coleman, who is also deputy premier, was formerly minister of energy and mines and is among LNG's biggest boosters. ...
B.C.'s gas plan is a pipe dream & During the USA's 2012-2013 record drought, fossil fuel frackers outcompeted farmers for water supplies
Salt Spring News British Columbia Canada July 4, 2013
Four links. We introduced them thus:
The Peace River Country (or Peace Country) is an aspen parkland region around the Peace River in Canada. It spans from northwestern Alberta to the Rocky Mountains in northeastern British Columbia, where the region is also referred to as the Peace River Block. Peace Country contains Canada's northernmost lands suitable for agriculture. Crops raised include canola, oats, peas and barley. Some cattle ranching and beekeeping is also done in the area. In 2006, the region accounted for 14.4% of Canada's total bison-producing herd. In recent years, oil and gas extraction has become a major industry. Farmers in Peace Country are threatened with the same issues as American farmers (check our archives for more). Yet British Columbia's corporatist government in pinning all its hopes for economic recovery on the fracking industry in general and LNG exports in particular.
B.C. welcomes sixth LNG export application
Media release Government of British Columbia, Office of the Premier Canada July 5, 2013
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VICTORIA - British Columbia's goal to diversify the natural gas sector and expand market access to the province's abundant supply of clean energy took another step forward today with Pacific NorthWest LNG submitting an export application with Canada's National Energy Board (NEB).
"Pacific NorthWest LNG's export application marks another positive development in our goal to provide clean natural gas to growing markets in Asia," said Premier Christy Clark. "By increasing the demand and reach of our natural gas sector, we will create jobs, strengthen our economy and put British Columbia on a prosperous path to a debt-free future."
"British Columbia has an unprecedented opportunity to create lasting benefits for the entire province with the world's cleanest-burning fossil fuel," said Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development. "The Pacific NorthWest LNG export application is great news, representing the latest milestone in our commitment to develop a new export industry that will put us on a path to new prosperity." ...
The government of British Columbia is proactively pursuing liquefied natural gas (LNG) export development because it will create jobs and economic prospects. The Pacific NorthWest LNG project itself is expected to create up to 3,500 jobs during peak construction and 200 to 300 jobs in long-term operations. The amount of capital investment required could reach up to $11 billion.
As part of government's LNG plans and commitment to strengthen the economy, work is underway to finalize a BC Prosperity Fund this year. This fund will secure over $100 billion in future wealth to help government eliminate the provincial debt over time, reduce cost burdens on families, and support important services like health care and education.
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
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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. ...