On the Left Side

Brian GallantBrian Gallant's New Brunswick Liberals Win Majority Government

ClassroomWhat You See in Today's Public School Classroom Is A Mirage

PROTEST-videoSixteenByNine540Climate Change Protesters Tangle With Police at Wall St.

polarFor Polar Bears, a Climate Change Twist

TorontoBig-300x162Canadians Go Gung-Ho for Toronto’s Separation Bid

GMO-Protect-the-land-and-farmers-from-GMOs-180x180Guatemala Resists Monsanto Law

BC-govt-bowed-to-oil-lobby-on-deregulation-of-gas-plantsBC Liberal Government bowed to oil lobby on deregulation of gas plants

david_estrin.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoInternational lawyers’ group calls for international court on the environment

kurdish_fighter.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxIslamic State militants call on Muslims to kill coalition civilians

cazenueve.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoIslamic State militants call on Muslims to kill coalition civilians

jessica-ernst300pxLast Stop for High Profile Fracking Suit: Supreme Court

Sonia Furstenau has declared for Shawnigan Sonia Furstenau is running to be Shawnigan's new CVRD Director

Canada-surpasses-Brazil-as-global-leader-in-deforestationCanada surpasses Brazil as global leader in deforestation

Christy-Clark-should-try-being-more-leader-less-cheerleaderRafe: Christy Clark should try being more leader, less cheerleader

10203292Daphne Bramham: We need citizens, not just taxpayers and bookkeepers

web-ford1+(3)Rob Ford to undergo chemotherapy to treat rare cancer

Peter Fassbender Christy ClarkAs parents rally for their kids' education, Christy Clark plans on spending billions on a new bridge

Ukraine91414U.S./NATO and Russia/China On A Direct Collision Course

armyObama’s Deceptive, Ideological, Perilous Case for Escalating War

Alicia PriestThe ultimate deadline: Victoria writer completes book about criminal father while in grip of ALS

imagesDamien Gillis: “Fundamentally uneconomic” Site C Dam would lose $350 million a year for taxpayers: Industrial energy expert (Video)

Harper says Canada's contribution to world affairs has never been higher-Brian Mulroney disagrees


Opposites Attract: The New Conservative Love Affair With Canada

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Canada and the US share the world’s longest undefended border, speak the same language approximately, and, as is engraved on the ‘Peace Arch’ in Blaine Washington we are ‘Children of a Common Mother’.

We have a great deal in common and yet there are social and cultural differences that remind us that we are not quite the same, not yet anyway.

This article by Josh Barro appeared in the New York Times and is worth a look to see how we are now seen from an American perspective.

Oh, and take a look at what Americans are saying about Canada in the revealing comments that follow the article.


You may remember your liberal friends threatening to move to Canada after George W. Bush was re-elected. But something surprising has happened in the last few years: Conservatives have fallen in love with Canada.

The conservative journalist John Fund wrote in National Review this month that Canada is becoming “more American than America.” That’s the same John Fund who wrote a 1995 Wall Street Journal staff editorial calling Canada “an honorary member of the third world.” A lot can change in two decades.


Graphic by Eiko Ojala

In August, when Burger King announced its intention to acquire the Canadian coffee-and-doughnuts chain Tim Hortons and reincorporate up north, The Journal editorialized that the United States should focus on copying Canada’s attractive corporate tax policies, not on holding American companies captive.

“Canada has become a far more business-friendly tax jurisdiction than the U.S.,” America’s leading conservative editorial page wrote. “The Burger King deal also signals the continuing success of Canada’s historic move toward open markets and economic growth.”

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Taking a Call for Climate Change to the Streets of New York City

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger


Read Lisa W. Foderaro’s comprehensive New York Times report that saw 100,000 demonstrators that hit the streets of New York city calling for action on ‘Climate Change.’
Leaders from throughout the world attended the Summit Meeting on Climate Change. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper underlined his indifference and irresponsibility by refusing to attend this important Climate Change Summit.

It is a national disgrace and further diminishes Canada’s reputation throughout the world.

By LISA W. FODERARO-New York Times


Legions of demonstrators frustrated by international inaction on global warming descended on New York City on Sunday, marching through the heart of Manhattan with a message of alarm for world leaders set to gather this week at the United Nations for a summit meeting on climate change.

Coursing through Midtown, from Columbus Circle to Times Square and the Far West Side, the People’s Climate March was a spectacle even for a city known for doing things big, and it was joined, in solidarity, by demonstrations on Sunday across the globe, from Paris to Papua New Guinea.

“I’m here because I really feel that every major social movement in this country has come when people get together,” said Carol Sutton of Norwalk, Conn., the president of a teachers’ union. “It begins in the streets.”

See more- includes slide show and video

Tom Mulcair and His Centralized Control Leaves NDP Democracy Begging

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

NDP Federal nominee Ian Morrison sent out this email to many Cowichan-Malahat-Langford members as well as our MP Jean Crowder-National Vice Chair of the Federal Campaign.

Ian’s email followed yet another top down decision from Ottawa delaying the second scheduled nominating convention without explanation.

Clearly the centralists in Ottawa want to control the nomination to decide who the candidate will be, democratic process and membership be damned.

This may well be happening right across Canada. Democracy in the NDP today has been reduced to sit down, shut-up send money.

I have included nominee Ian Morrison’s email below followed by my comments.

Ian Morrison  seeking Federal NDP nomination.

Ian Morrison seeking Federal NDP nomination

TENTATIVE SEPTEMBER 21ST- Nomination meeting for Cowichan Malahat Langford NDP – NOT APPROVED

Hello everyone,

I hope this email finds you well.

Many of you may be aware the tentative September 21st Nomination
Meeting for the Electoral District of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford was NOT
APPROVED by NDP headquarters.
While the Electoral District Association didn’t officially notify
members of a meeting this Sunday, September 21st, many members and
supporters made plans to attend based on the executive’s choice of this
date back in June, when it was thought there would be ample lead time
for approval by head office in Ottawa. We campaigned with a focus on
September 21st., as did other candidates, to no avail.
Party authorization didn’t happen.

The bottom line is NO MEETING THIS SUNDAY! Also, the Electoral
District executive has tasked the party headquarters to choose a a
Nomination Meeting date acceptable to them, and to give our local
executive 60 days to inform the membership.

Our campaign team will do every thing we can to keep all of you
informed about the new Nomination meeting date, when that occurs.Please
spread the word of this cancellation with anyone you think may have been
planning to go Sunday.
I’m off to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention this week. I
hope to see you all soon.
In service,

Ian Morrison- Prospective Candidate Cowichan-Malahat-Langford New Democrats
(H)250-749-0134 (C)250-710-1227



It is about time that the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford NDP candidates, the executive and membership told our Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and National Director Ann McGrath to back off and restore the right of the local NDP membership to choose our candidate without further interference.

Initially members were told that the nomination would absolutelty take place in June, then September, now whenever the central control says so.

Throughout the country New Democrats have been dancing to a tune of ‘On again-Off again’  as Mulcair  and his aides pull the strings at will.

This is so damn insulting to the nominees, their families, the members and those who still cling to out of fashion notions of democratic process.

Having been through processes as a candidate 2001 Provincial, as well as being a nominee for both Federal-Provincial processes I know full well the strain financially, physically and emotionally.

It seems that the tone was set following appalling interference in NDP Nanaimo-Ladysmith Riding where our Mulcair appointed National Director Anne McGrath refused to allow longtime NDP members Paul Manly and Laurie Gourlay to even seek the nomination.

They then refused to provide the reasons in writing. This smacks of top-down authoritarian attitudes at the top of todays NDP.

If we cannot follow the democratic principles that drove the formation of the CCF-NDP then perhaps it is time for this old party to reform under a new name – The National Authoritarian Party-NAP would at least offer disclosure and truth in advertising!

I would like to have the local executive call a Cowichan-Malahat-Langford Federal NDP Nomination within 45 days.  At that Nominating Convention we could also determine approval of any nominees still waiting for approval. Several  have been hamstrung for months awaiting approval.

The membership could then select the nominee of our choice and prepare for what will be a very challenging election.

It is time that we got up off of our knees and stood up for democracy. We must take back control of our NDP affairs at the local community level.

All politics are local and to continue calling the shots from Ottawa is a recipe for defeat.

Take care of Main Street and we will take care of the Nation


Richard Hughes

Cowichan Conversations
Cobble Hill, BC
NDP Member since 1973


Tara Ehrcke-BC Teachers Strike-Lessons Learned

Victoria Teacher-Activist Tara Ehckre

Victoria Teacher-Activist Tara Ehckre


Tara Ehrcke

Teacher, Activist, Citizen. Currently on the executive of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association – 1400 dedicated and hardworking professionals.

Victoria BC




Read this informative opinion piece from Tara Ehrcke’s Blog-
‘Staffroom Confidential.’

BC Teacher strike – Lessons learned

On the evening of the vote results, I found myself, with great difficulty, repeating the tried and true advice: “Don’t mourn, organize.” Because it is correct. There is much to do. And there are always setbacks and disappointments on the way to a better world.

That said, it is also worth some analysis on the strike to guide the future. Here are my thoughts.

Longest teacher strike in BC history

Despite the outcome, perhaps the most incredible thing about this strike was the resolve of teachers. Although long strikes are more common in the private sector, for a public sector union this was a very long strike indeed. Three days of rotating strikes, followed by two weeks in June, followed by almost three weeks in September. Five weeks in total. This is more than double the length of the 2005 strike of two weeks. The length of the strike showed the depth of the resolve amongst teachers.

Teachers understood clearly the severity of the issues at hand and the need for extended pressure in the context of a government that campaigned on and implements neo-liberal reforms. Teachers should be rightly proud of taking a stand and making a personal sacrifice to do so. And union leaders should take careful note that workers in British Columbia are willing to take action to stop concession bargaining and instead fight to win improvement. I hope we are at a historic breaking point from the thirty year concessionary bargaining of the North American labour movement.

The length of the strike is also important for its knock on effect. Periods of history where labour makes gains are marked by frequent strikes and by more strike days. Not every one of these strikes results in victory. But the cumulative impact changes the balance of power. Employers get nervous if they believe the risk is high. And this in turn impacts the outcome of bargaining.

Read the entire post here

Election Issue-CVRD Senior Staff Out of Touch Pay Formula Stalled For Now

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

CVRD Chair Rob Hutchins is an old pro at dodging bullets. Sending a resolution, calling for changes in the way senior staff compensation is determined, back to committee until after the upcoming round of local government elections mid November signaled that perhaps, change is in the wind.

CVRD Director Loren Duncan .

CVRD Director Loren Duncan .

Few if any want to be seen supporting the discredited formula that has guided them for a decade plus.

Chair Hutchin’s effort was designed to allow the politicians a reprieve of sorts as long as it does not become an election issue, but it will.

CVRD Director Bruce Fraser

CVRD Director Bruce Fraser

The tired old formula for jacking up senior pay is self serving and insulting to the citizenry.

For a decade compensation packages have been slipped through with only a rare murmur of concern.


Bill Dumont

Nice to see that Director Bruce Fraser and Director Loren Duncan are not buying what the senior staff and the entrenched old guard are selling.

Some Cowichan Valley politicians are finally scrutinizing the costs and the methods. We can thank community watchdogs Bill Dumont and Blaise Salmon for their efforts in challenging and publicizing these unwarranted hikes.

Blaise Salmon- Calls For Restraint

Blaise Salmon


Local economic realities must be taken into consideration when setting salaries.

Check out local reporters Peter Rusland and Andrea Rondeau for their coverage of this story.


BC Teachers Should Reject Tentative Settlement

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

While initially enthused about the marathon bargaining sessions with the experienced Vince Ready mediating, the reality is beginning to sink in. This is not a good deal for students, teachers or the province of BC as a whole.

The 80 million advanced by the BC Government is only a 5 million dollar increase.Three times that amount is needed and was identified by the BCTF.

Tara Ehrcke,  a Victoria teacher and activist appeared on various media outlets this morning calling for this tentative deal to be rejected.

She blogs on Staffroom Confidential and astutely asks:

Will the Education Fund improve classroom conditions?
I urge readers to visit her blog and read her full response and consider he analysis carefully.

Here is what Tara has to say about the tentative agreement:

The tentative agreement negotiated this week includes an Education Fund which replaces the Learning Improvement Fund (LIF). Will this improve classroom conditions?

Not much, if at all. The BCTF did an excellent analysis of the failure of the LIF, which I won’t repeat here.

But suffice it to say there are four main problems with the LIF:

1. it is about 1/4 of the funding needed for class sizes that match our previous language

2. some of the funding is spent on non-teacher resources

3. there is no method for fair allocation 4. there is no change in how classes are organized The net result is that after several years of the LIF, classroom conditions are worse, not better. The new Education fund only addresses one of these issues – spending on teachers. But this is insufficient to mean the fund will help you in your classroom.

Here is the cold hard truth.

In terms of dollars, the new fund will be $80 million per year, instead of $75 million per year. The $400 million figure the BCTF is publishing is for the six years combined. So the increase is a mere $5 million dollars per year for 500,000 students.

That is $10 per student per year. The same amount spent on the botched computer system BCeSIS. This is wholly inadequate.

The original BCTF bargaining position of $225 million should have been our bottom line. Even that amount is far short of the $330 million removed from the 2002 legislation.

Read her full report here.

Tara Ehrcke
Teacher, Activist, Citizen. Currently on the executive of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association – 1400 dedicated and hardworking professionals.

Twitter - Tara Ehrcke @taraehrcke


RMR Rick’s Rant Against Harper’s Secret Trade Deal (FIPA)

Cowichan Valley Political Scene Shows Signs of Heating Up

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Municipal elections in November and Federal Parties seeking nominees for next years Federal election have brought some new life to politics in the valley. Say goodbye to the ‘Dog days of summer. It is time to reshuffle the deck in political circles.

Locally there looks to be changes ahead at both the CVRD and North Cowichan political tables.

Sonia Furstenau has declared for Shawnigan

Sonia Furstenau has declared for Shawnigan

Word has it that present Shawnigan Director Bruce Fraser will not seek re-election. Sonia Furstenau has declared her intention to seek the Shawnigan Director’s seat and she will be joined in the contest by Lois Morrow.

I expect a few others as the political scene has been shaken up over the looming threat of millions of tonnes of contaminated soil being dumped in the watershed.

The contest in Mill Bay is as yet unknown but buzz has it that if incumbent Mike Walker wants to serve another term he will be facing a challenge by at least one hopeful.

Cobble Hill CVRD Director Gerry Giles-Will she retire?

Cobble Hill CVRD Director Gerry Giles-Will she retire?

Cobble Hill’s longtime Director Gerry Giles retirement is uncertain although word filters down that this will be her last run and she is looking forward to life away from the table. Do not put a lot of money on it though.

The lure of another run may well see her defend her seat against two and maybe three as yet undeclared challengers.

Cowichan Bay's Lori Ianidinardo has declared her intention to run again.

Cowichan Bay’s Lori Ianidinardo has declared her intention to run again.

Cow Bay’s Lori Iannidinardo has become rejuvenated through the gloves off fight to protect local farms and residents from a proposed Balme gravel pit operation along the Cowichan Bay-Cobble Hill border. She has declared her intention to run again with yet unfinished challenges and projects ahead.

CVRD Director Loren Duncan .

CVRD Director Loren Duncan .

Longtime CVRD stalwart Loren Duncan may face a couple of challengers, Dan Ferguson’s name has been circulating and perhaps more challengers await the call. They will have their hands full. Loren will defend his turf with vigour.

CVRD Director Ian Morrison  seeking Federal NDP MP position.

CVRD Director Ian Morrison seeking Federal NDP MP position.

Up in Cowichan Lake-Skutz Falls incumbent Ian Morrison has cast his eyes on the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford NDP nomination that still awaits a declared and approved nomination date. Will the familiar face of long time Director Joe Allan pop up to rejoin the CVRD bunch if Ian moves on?

Councillor John Koury aiming to be the next Mayor

Councillor John Koury aiming to be the next Mayor

North Cowichan may be the lively spot with former BC Conservative candidate Damir Wallener taking a run at the Mayor’s chair along with Councillor John Koury.

Will sitting Mayor Jon Lefebure take another run or will he step back? Councillor Barb Lyons will be stepping back, so there will be at least two, perhaps three council seats available through vacancies.

Rob Douglas campaigning to join for North Cowichan Council

Rob Douglas campaigning to join for North Cowichan Council

Robert (Rob) Douglas has declared his intention to seek a seat as a NC Councillor and this time smart money will pick him as a new face for the next term. Rob is fresh off a very successful pot luck dinner launch last week that was well attended with an impressive crowd gathered in support of his campaign.

Damir Wallener campaigning to be North Cowichan Mayor

Damir Wallener campaigning to be North Cowichan Mayor

There may be room at the Duncan City Council this fall. Councillor Martin Baker is seeking the nod to run for the Federal Conservatives.

The rest of council and Mayor Phil Kent may well be re-elected with little change on the horizon for more than one or two new faces at their table.

That is it for now folks but there will be more coming as candidates step forward.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure has yet to declare.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure has yet to declare.

Remember that there will be ‘School Board Elections’ this November. Our district has been run by an unelected appointee after the Christy Clark government fired the elected school board for underlining the deficiencies in the underfunded budget target called for by then Education Minister George Abbott.

It is a time for optimism and change. Hopefully attractive challengers will surface to make the process function in a competitive and constructive way.


The Mbira Spirit and Our New Journey

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger


I found this on Amy Matamba’s Facebook page.

Amy & Tafadzwa were playing music in Trout Lake.

What wonderful music, enjoy.



Great trip to Vancouver! Loving the Mbira Spirit and our new journey. A very thoughtful passer-by sharing a video he took of us playing music in the most natural setting we could find…. Trout Lake! In such a big city, we were happy meet new friends and old, too! Life is good.


Obama Begs for More War

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

From the outset we have been lied to and misled by US President Barack Obama, and our tag-a-long Prime Minister Steve Harper, operating through NATO and facilatating the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Ukraine just two weeks before the election.

Now many credible reports are surfacing that clearly demonstrate that this is one more failed US mission in a long list of military excesses and intrusions. You will not see or hear much about the in the corporate media but NATO’s right wing thugs and Nazi’s are not doing well.


CounterPunch – Obama Begs for More War

Did Putin Just Bring Peace to Ukraine?


“In the implementing of their policies, our western partners – the United States first and foremost – prefer to be guided not by international law, but by force. They believe in their own ‘exceptionalism’, that they are allowed to decide on the fate of the world, and that they are always right.”
– Russian President Vladimir Putin

“What did we do to deserve this? What did we do to deserve being bombed from planes, shot at from tanks, and have phosphorous bombs dropped on us? ….That we wanted to live the way we want, and speak our own language, and make friends with whom we want?”
Alexander V. Zakharchenko, Chairman of The Council of Ministers of The Donetsk National Republic, The Vineyard of the Saker

There is no way to overstate the significance of what has transpired in Ukraine in the last three weeks. What began as a murderous onslaught on the mainly Russian-speaking population of east Ukraine, has turned into a major triumph against a belligerent and expansionistic empire that has been repulsed by a scrappy, battle-hardened militia engaged in a conventional, land-based war.

The conflict in east Ukraine is Obama’s war; launched by Obama’s junta government, executed by Obama’s proxy army, and directed by Obama’s advisors in Kiev. The driving force behind the war is Washington’s ambitious pivot to Asia, a strategy that pits Russia against Europe to prevent further economic integration and to establish NATO forward-operating bases on Russia’s western border.

Despite the overheated rhetoric, the talk of a (NATO) “Rapid Reaction Force”, and additional economic sanctions; the US plan to draw Ukraine into the western sphere of influence and weaken Russia in the process, is in tatters. And the reason it is in tatters is because a highly-motivated and adaptable militia has trounced Obama’s troopers at every turn pushing the Ukrainian army to the brink of collapse. Check out this frontline update from The Saker:

“The (Ukrainian Army) is not retreating on one, two or even three directions, it is retreating everywhere (except north of Lugansk). Entire battalions are leaving the front under orders of their battalion commanders and without the approval of the Junta leaders. At least one such battalion commander is already being judged for desertion.

The entire Ukie leadership seems to be in a panic mode, especially Iatseniuk and Kolomoiski, while the Nazis are mad as hell at the Poroshenko administration. There are constant rumors of an anti-Poroshenko coup by outraged Nazi nationalists…..

The bottom line is this: Poroshenko promised a victory in a matter of weeks and his forces suffered one of the most total defeats in the history of warfare. ….the most likely thing is that this ridiculous “Banderastan” experiment has seriously begun sinking now and that many rats are leaving the ship.

“The War in Ukraine“, Vineyard of the Saker

The fact that the demoralized Ukrainian army has been defeated by the superior fighting force is of little importance in the big scheme of things, however, the fact that Washington’s global resource war– which began on 9-11 and has reduced numerous sovereign countries into anarchic, failed states– has been stopped in its tracks, is significant.

The so called War on Terror–which was recently rebranded under the ISIS moniker–has wreaked holy havoc and death on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria. By routing the Ukrainian army the Novorussian Armed Forces (NAF) has put the kibosh on Obama’s Great Game strategy in Eurasia and torpedoed Washington’s plan to rule the world by force of arms.

It could be that the battles of Lugansk and Donetsk are eventually regarded as the turning point, where the lumbering and over-extended empire finally met its match and began its precipitous decline. In any event, there’s no doubt that Friday’s ceasefire agreement is a serious blow to US hegemony.

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