According to the Cowichan Valley Citizen at a recent Cowichan Valley Region District (CVRD) budget meeting, “the top priority item was to create a position for a communications coordinator for the district at a total cost of $108,125 including salary and benefits.”
Explaining that CVRD is not very good at getting their message out to the public, Chief Administrator Brian Carruthers told the meeting that he personally has to spend his even more expensive time cleaning up press releases so the public can understand them.
Admittedly it is often difficult to write for the media while being a truthful as possible and still making regional politicians and bureaucrats appear positive, conscious of community needs, and sensitive to taxpayers limitations.
Carruthers suggested that only about $75,000 of the $108,125 was for salary. About $75,000? doesn’t the head man at the CVRD shop know exactly what salaries are being offered? or is this amount so piddly that he doesn’t bother knowing.
Could someone ask Mr. Carruthers if he knows that everyday there are two men walking a picket line in front of a newspaper office which very possibly might never open again who he might interest in that press release writing job. Between them they have more than 50 years experience as journalists and they are working for little more than half the amount you are budgeting.
They are on that picket line because the owner of the newspaper wants to reduce pay scales currently in their contract, so they might be easy pickin’s for the offer you’re making.
It should be pointed out to the CVRD politicians that perhaps your staff is having problems communicating with the taxpayers because of Carruthers’ believes that the $75,000 (never mind the total $108.125) is not out of line the amounts paid by private business.
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
The world is spinning at an unbelievable rate. Change is in the air. Neo Con control of our countries is being challenged throughout the world.
The following article by British writer George Monbiot, along with the many sources cited flush out many of the threats we face. It may be the most enlightening and informative that I have read, perhaps ever, on the grim matters of turning back fanatical right wing extremism.
Read the rest of this mind blowing article here
With the sudden collapse of the neoliberal consensus, it’s time to ditch tactical voting and start choosing what we want.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian
Here is the first rule of politics: if you never vote for what you want, you never get it. We are told at every election to hold our noses, forget the deficiencies and betrayals and vote Labour yet again, for fear of something worse(1).
And there will, of course, always be something worse. So at what point should we vote for what we want, rather than keep choosing between two versions of market fundamentalism? Sometime this century? Or in the next? Follow the advice of the noseholders and we will be lost forever in Labour’s Bermuda triangulation.
Perhaps there was a time when this counsel of despair made sense. No longer. The lamps are coming on all over Europe. As in South America, political shifts that seemed impossible a few years earlier are now shaking the continent. We knew that another world was possible. Now, it seems, another world is here: the sudden death of the neoliberal consensus. Any party that claims to belong to the left but does not grasp this is finished.
This started out to be a paean to the Green Party of Canada. Not just as a very vocal agent for defending of the ecology, or Ecology of a nation feverishly bent on the fastest possible extraction of non-renewable sources, but as the major force for the reform, maybe better for the restructuring of the Canadian Parliament.
Unavoidably, that task would also include the condemnation of the NDP, Liberal, and Conservative Parties as the agents making the Canadian Parliament irrelevant and impotent.
A week ago the New Democratic Party selected their candidate to contest the election of our Member of Parliament. It seemed to be the chance of a lifetime for the party faithful, the party members to choose from a group of six particularly well qualified people. Any one of the six was more than capable of doing the job of representing our riding in the Parliament in Ottawa. But that is not what will happen under the current structure.
It would not have mattered if the 455 NDP members had chosen a German shepherd to send to Ottawa. Because once in Parliament our representative would be told how to vote, what to say and not say in public comments and speeches in the House, and how to give complete support to everything said or written by the party’s leader.
A leader who has been elected only in a single riding, just like every other MP, not by the Canadian people as a whole. It is the members of a party nationally who elect the party leader, who is usually an elected MP.
So long as that structure continues we will have a Prime Minister who rules as a presidential dictator, which was never meant to be part of our Canadian Parliamentary system.
The power of the party supposedly rests with the members of all the riding associations, but that, if it was ever true, is no longer reality.
Once the leader is selected she/he has complete control over individual members as well the riding organization. Just as we recently saw when the NDP leader (or some faceless hack in his office) decreed that two party members in Nanaimo would not be allowed to run for MP.
The same crowd then ordered the Cowichan/Malahat/Langford riding, our riding, to postpone their nominating convention from November until January. We guessed it was because the Ottawa party overlords did not like the people who had thrown their names in the hat.
Fast onward now to the Green Party. Most people familiar with Canadian politics have understood that the Green Party, under the able leadership of Elizabeth May, does not operate that way. That when the Greens elect an MP that person will freely represent their constituents to the Parliament in Ottawa, rather than representing Ottawa to their constituents. They will speak and vote according to the needs and desires of the people who elected them.
When asked, the Green Party organization, which will select a candidate for MP on January 30, assured that the freedom of individual MPs is absolute party policy.
But when asked where the Green Party put that in writing the national headquarters could only point out Part 6, section 6.1 of their Vision Green document:
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
“Green Party MPs will establish a public inquiry into democracy, with powers of a Royal Commission, to engage Canadians from coast to coast and address anti-democratic trends within Canada…[including]…The lack of scope for independent action of individual MPs.” (Part 6 and Part 6.1)”
That says nothing about what freedom the party would allow to their members right now. Perhaps the Greens are fortunate right now because they only have two MPs, one of whom is Elizabeth May the leader.
Anyone who has been close to Canadian politics knows that oral statements are all too easy to walk away from, claiming misunderstanding or some such thing.
And written statements as the one above are equally mushy. Often, perhaps most of the time, when politicians say they will study an issue it is because they’re not sure how to proceed. So better to put it away for now and if they’re lucky it may be forgotten.
We are on the edge of an era that has all the earmarks of a Green Party surge. If the Party brass decide to emulate the older major parties, especially on the issue of Parliamentary structure and function, they can lose the electoral glow of purity they now enjoy.
Let’s hope Elizabeth May can grab the moment and give Canadian voters a clear, easy-to-understand statement that all Green Party candidates elected as MPs will be allowed to freely express and vote as directed by the voters, that those free MPs will infect our Parliament with the ideal that political parties are subservient to the nation’s voters.
Damien Gillis filmmaker and Rafe Mair’s partner in the CommonSense Canadian will be speaking at an event at Beban Park Social Centre, 2300 Bowen Road, Nanaimo, BC
LNG, Fracking and BC’s Energy Future: Nanaimo event
The Common Sense Canadian’s Damien Gillis and retired KPMG partner and chemistry Ph.D Eoin Finn will be in Nanaimo Wednesday night to discuss the province’s energy vision.
Finn has been a leading voice on the economic and safety risks of the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant near Squamish. Drawing on his MBA and years of experience at one of the world’s largest accounting firms, he will dissect the local and global economics of the BC Liberals’ LNG plans.
Gillis, meanwhile, will take the audience on a visual tour of northeast BC – featuring clips from his forthcoming documentary Fractured Land – to examine the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, which would supply most of the gas for these LNG plants. He will also put the province’s claims of “Clean LNG” to the test, using the best available research into the true climate consequences of shale gas and LNG.
The Nanaimo event is presented by the Mid Island chapter of the Council of Canadians. “The public has heard lots promises about the economic benefits of a proposed LNG industry, powered by fracking in northeast BC,” notes COC’s Leila Darwish. “But are these claims credible? And what sort of environmental trade-off would the industry bring?”
From the frack fields of northeastern BC to the many proposed gas pipelines and up to 18 LNG terminals vying for approval along the northwest coast, Howe Sound, Delta, and Vancouver Island, Finn and Gillis will drill down on the myths and realities of this industry, through an evening of multi-media presentations and audience discussion.
Alistair MacGregor will represent the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford NDP in the Upcoming Federal Election
Jean Crowder MP retires
Four hundred and fifty-five New Democrats were piped into the Gymnasium by Dr. Peter Leckie who provided a fitting backdrop for the Robbie Burns Day NDP Convention that filled up the Cowichan Secondary Gymnasium Sunday afternoon.
There was an air of excitement and expectation as the crowd gathered to hear from the six candidates.
A most encouraging sign for the gathered New Democrats was the calibre of the nominees that offered themselves up to be the next standard bearer following long time MP Jean Crowder’s retirement.
BC NDP leader John Horgan addresses convention
Hilary Abbott, Alistair MacGregor, Ian Morrison, Ellen Oxman, and Nick Wade had been campaigning for a year and faced several false starts as the Mulcair operatives back east refused the local executives selected dates and kept extending them.
Rather than discourage the challengers it seemed to have brought them closer together as they bonded in the face of the unwelcome interference.
Georgia Collins was a late entrant and presented a serious challenge from the outset.
I attended an all candidate meeting in the summer and then again last week prior to the convention. The delay, as it turned out served them well. Their presentations and positions were well honed and they looked campaign ready. I spoke with many delegates who had their first choices decided but determined that any of the six would be very acceptable.
Alistair MacGregor Wins Decisive Victory-Photo stolen from Deb Foster’s Facebook Page
Following the first ballot it appeared that this was narrowing down to a race between Alistair MacGregor and Georgia Collins. By the second ballot it was clear. Nick Wade, Hilary Abbott, Ian Morrison, and Helen Oxman crossed the room and stood united behind Alistair MacGregor.
The third ballot was reduced to a two way race between Georgia Collins and Alistair MacGregor.
When the ballots were counted it was announced that Alistair had won a convincing victory. All the nominees then gathered at the front in support of MacGregor, perhaps a fitting conclusion for Alistair on Robbie Burns day.
He brings proven experience, knowledge, savvy and compassion to the table. He has demonstrated his strength to deliver on our behalf.
Alistair is prepared to hit the campaign trail now. He knows his onions. He is campaign ready!
Cowichan’s premier cheerleader for climate change mitigation, Peter Nix takes the promotion of roof-top solar electric panels to the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s (CVRD) Regional Services Committee next Wednesday (Jan. 28), at 6 pm.
Shawnigan Lake’s Blaise Salmon will join Nix asking the CVRD directors to assess the best methods to provide financial help to home and business owners for installation of solar panels.
As an incentive to help pry the lid off the regional district’s treasure chest, they will suggest that the solar panel technology offers a way to achieve the CVRD’s stated Green House Gas (GHG) reduction targets.
Their idea is for the CVRD to set up a financial action plan, that could include zero-interest loans, to encourage the installation of solar panels on residential properties. As with the elimination of wood stoves the plan could also include a direct subsidy based on the number of panels being installed.
As Nix notes many people who would like to install panels and reduce their BC Hydro bills, do not have the ready cash for the installation. We had 30 solar panels installed on our roof, the total cost of materials and labour was $20,000.
That seems like a big hit in order to cut our Hydro bills by 50 or 60 percent. The rationale is that in today’s financial market, controlled by the big banks the interest for money in the bank is 2 to 3 percent. So the $20,000 solar panels on the roof will earn more than the same $20,000 in a bank account.
The way it works is that your smart meter will provide what Hydro calls “net metering”. On a cloudy day as you use electricity you will be running up your Hydro bill. On a sunny summer day the panels will create more electricity than you are using. The excess will flow through your meter into Hydro’s grid and Hydro will pay you for it.
In the world of electric generation BC Hydro is very “green”, getting nearly all of it’s power from large river dams which emit virtually no carbon onto the atmosphere. For each of us using solar panels BC Hydro acts as our “batteries”, storing electricity for us when the panels are producing maximum and allowing us to use it when our panels are not “pumping ions”.
Nix likes to point out that creating our own electricity will encourage us to buy E-cars and heat pumps. Both these options are quite expensive. Because of the blessings of our mild climate, we can use air-to-air heat pumps which are the low-end of that appliance but electric vehicles are still well beyond what most of us can afford to spend. That’s a problem for another day when we can design a basic vehicle, perhaps without computers, heated seats, TV , and sound systems built for auditoriums, to sell for under ten thousands bucks new.
Nix has planned an installation of 192 panels, that will occupy an area 30 x 30 meters on his property. At this point he estimates it will cost $144,000, and give an annual return of $5,570.
His aim is to demonstrate to local governments the sound financial rationale for building publicly owned solar panel utilities to work hand-in-glove with BC Hydro producing power while pumping very little carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere.
This is our chance to take the reins from the provincial and federal governments, especially if they are anything like Stephen Harper’s gang who want only to increase oil and gas extraction from the dirty tar sands and destructive fracking.
While late Christmas shoppers slipped into panic mode on December 22, a development-at-any-cost foursome on the Duncan City council ramrodded through fourth reading of a motion to permit Vlado Brcic’s Dakova Group to build a 36-condo, five-story monster, with street-level retail shops at Duncan’s prime intersection of Canada Avenue and Government Street.
Brcic, who operates out of Edmonton, does not even own the land where he wishes to build. The quartet of councillors, a former retail merchant, a former crash councillor with ICBC, a former car dealer, and a financial advisor invented a new zoning category, C-1B, which does not exist in the Official Community Plan (OCP), to make building the massive five-story bastion that overshadows Duncan’s commercial centre, legal.
Councillor Sharon Jackson
Veteran city councillor Sharon Jackson, with councillors Michelle Bell and Michelle Staples at her side, bellowed in disbelief, “There’s been no development permit study, no traffic study of the most complex intersection on Vancouver Island, no storm water plan, no environmental impact study, no…no…no.”
And, the frustrated Jackson pleaded, why can’t we constitute an Advisory Design Panel to harmonize building design throughout the City.
But Mayor Phil Kent, whose testy attitude seems to indicate his strong commitment to this plan that will change the face of the City of Duncan, with councillors Tom Duncan, John Horgan, and Roger Bruce bulldozed over the three distaff councillors trying to protect the City of Duncan’s unique character.
Mayor Kent leads end run around OCP!
Brcic and his four supporters may have won the rezoning vote but the war is not over. During the public hearing last year every single person who spoke was opposed to the Dakova development as it has been presented. Those same people now are circulating a petition being signed by Duncan City voters.
They meant to present their petitions at the Monday, January 19, Duncan Council meeting, but were unable to get on the agenda. They are still determined to let the four Amigos know what residential and commercial taxpayers think of their development folly.
The petition signers will try to get a place of the Committee-of-the-Whole meeting February 2, or the next Board netting February 16.
Among other things the petition demands that the legally binding OCP be respected when it, “encourages new development in the Downtown, mindful of the need to protect the character and ambiance of the Downtown core. Proposals are to be reviewed for their consistency with the defined streetscape, scale, building heights, significant buildings, and use of natural exterior building materials.”
In an effort to soften her criticism of the four Amigos unpopular plan with a bit of reality, Jackson explained, “Duncan Council for the last 20 years has been the real author of this disaster on the corner of Canada Avenue and Government St. We have permitted a vacant lot to be used as a parking lot without obliging the owner to obey our OCP that states that surface parking must have fencing, landscaping and lighting and must be well maintained.”
If the concerned people of Duncan are finally allowed to speak to councillors they recently elected and they back the position taken by Jackson, Staples, and Bell, with factual determination, the four Amigos may find that they won a pyrrhic victory that will stain their political careers.
Guest Post- By Russell Davies
The Real Canadian Superstore squeezing the poor for more profits is a big mistake and shows no consideration for low income customers and those of us that are less fortunate.
The recent change of policy on reduced produce shows lack of empathy for people of limited resources. The elderly and those of limited funds are the majority of the shoppers lined up to get bargains in the morning when doors open.
Three weeks ago Superstore changed its reductions from fifty percent off to thirty off stale produce; a slap in the face for the poor. This makes the savings just too small to continue to shop at Superstore. Now the poorer customers are likely to shop at Walmart.
This poor judgment will result in loss of income and a lot more food being garbaged by Superstore.
Thirty percent off mouldy raspberries or stale cheese just does not cut it. This move shows that management is out of touch with its customer base.
Superstore will inevitably face a loss in sales of price reduced products. Not to mention the huge increase of food headed for the landfill. Lets hope they wake up.
As a businessman this lack of judgment is spurring me to look elsewhere for my stock market investments .
Real Canadian Superstore – owned by Loblaws – continues to put itself in the running for the title of Most Unethical Superstore. Walmart watch out.
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
We recently returned from our winter reprieve with friends in Sunny California.
It was a great get away and we were treated to wonderful food, music, the occasional wee glass of wine and some day trips around the San Jose area, down to Monterrey, and we also squeezed in a visit to see a longtime friend in the San Francisco Bay area.
Kicked off our visit with a NHL game at the ‘Shark Tank’ where our Canucks came in and managed a 3-1 victory. I wore my Canuck jersey and I was not alone. Canuck Nation lives. It was fun high fiving with other Canuck loyalists.
That event was followed up by a full blown Bluegrass New Year’s eve party that featured five separate jams playing some very good music until the wee hours. What a great time it was.
Just a few days ago we were tripping around sunny and warm Monterey, taking in their famous aquarium. Now we are back in the cold, foggy Cowichan Valley and happy to be here.
California it seems has the best and worst of things. Great weather, food, wine, music but umm those freeways that dominate transportation choices are more than this old Islander is ready to embrace.
Returning to ‘Mother Island’ always triggers the many reasons that we live here and enjoy the more relaxed quality of life that is our good fortune.
Here is my effort at catching up after to slacking off for a while. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
David Black is no friend of the Cowichan Valley
I see that mean spirited media tightwad David Black has not budged or even entered bargaining of any consequence with striking Cowichan News Leader-Pictorial staff. They are represented by Unifor and both sides are dug in over the issue of two-tier wages. If that is the best that Black offers the community then he offers nothing and tops the list of bad corporate citizens in the valley.
Black and his Black Press crew have recently shuffled the deck by buying out the other corporate out of town owned Cowichan Citizen. That deal is to close March 2nd and rumours are circulating that indicate that the deal may fall through.
If it goes through, will they shut one of the papers down? The Citizen staff, represented by the Newspaper Guild are in contract negotiations now. I wonder about the motivation that their management has to settle a contract with a pending sale in place?
The on again off again Cowichan Langford Federal NDP nomination is scheduled for January 25th and if there is no further interference from party controllers it might actually take place. The level of central party control and interference seems to be the norm today crossing all party lines.
Political watchers are feasting on a bold move that has Paul Manly seeking Nanaimo’s Green Party nomination. Manly, along with another llife long NDP activist, Laurie Gourlay were both blocked by the Mulcair controllers, from even seeking the NDP nomination in Nanaimo.
All of our political parties are abusing the long held right of local decision making. That is one of many reasons for growing disenchantment and diminishing memberships.
A growing furore regarding Duncan Mayor Phil Kent’s unorthodox approach to developing the long abandoned corner of Government St. and Canada Ave. to construct a five-story, $11 million, 36 unit condo building is gathering steam.
Mayor Kent turns his back on fair and open process
Phil Kent’s past practice has been that of a Mayor with a process driven approach. Citizens should be be alarmed over this reckless Kent led effort to accommodate an out of town speculator.
Why are they dealing with a developer promoter instead of the property owner? It makes no sense whatsoever. It is a abdication that gives short shrift to the public interest.
Kent has abandoned a reasoned and informed approach to planning this most important gateway to downtown Duncan.
Don Maroc pointed out in his recent post Kent’s headlong urgency to bypass normal prudent steps has divided the council along gender lines.
Surprisingly NDP backed Tom Duncan has changed his stripes and and lined up with the mayor and newly elected conservative councillors John Horgan and Roger Bruce.
They have shown a callous disregard for the future gateway and are making a mockery out of the Official Community Plan.
The City of Duncan, unlike North Cowichan and the CVRD, does not have a full planning staff complement and yet they are not seeking needed guidance from trained and experienced professionals on this very important project.
It appears that the out of town developer speculator along with Phil Kent are the ones driving the agenda and a malodorous odour is escaping from under the back room doors at city hall.
The next few Duncan Council meetings should be very revealing. Watch for updates from Don Maroc who has been watching this closely.
CVRD political activities will be a central focus this coming year. Will the injection of new eager Directors alter the backroom, secretive manner in which the CVRD controllers managed the board over the past 5 or 6 years?
Time will tell. It is a new year and so let’s risk democracy, open processes and restore the respect that the CVRD once commanded in the valley.
Financial adventures at the CVRD demand an independent audit.
A independent audit is long over considering the outrageous spending spree that saw millions spent on the ill fated Eco Depot, the costly attempt to run Fisher Road Recycling out of business, the mishandled CVRD run water district accounts and the pay offs to fired administrator Warren Jones, Environmental Manager Bob McDonald and Water Manager Dave Leach.
Previous Boards ducked responsibility for their actions citing personnel, land purchases and legal matters. They were covering their own backsides. Will the newly comprised Board demand accountability on these issues?
Another serious breach was senior CVRD types performance regarding the controversial Balme Ayr Gravel application. Just like the Eco Depot they bullied their way through but in the end were stopped because, as the very involved acting CAO Frank Raimondo admitted that even CVRD lawyers told them that they were 100 percent wrong.
In both cases the CVRD controllers flew in the face of their own OCP and bylaws. Efforts to develop the gravel pit continue and local lawyers will be delighted because as night follows day the CVRD will be before the courts yet again.
Mayor Jon Lefebure
Over in North Cowichan, Rob Douglas, a cooperative progressive, topped the polls. Former Mayor and longtime Councillor Tom Walker rejoins council and will add needed stability. Perennial candidate Joyce Behnsen was finally elected and she will carry the ‘Taxbusters’message.
All in all full spectrum representation has been accomplished. Re-elected mayor Jon Lefebure finally has every opportunity to deliver progressive balanced governance.
Looking forward to 2015. It could be a breakthrough year politically speaking. Let’s hope so.
In November, the council was ready to okay 4th and final reading of a rezoning to allow Edmonton-California developer Vlado Brcic to proceed with the purchase of the prime Duncan real estate at the corner of Government St. and Canada Ave. and construction of a five-story, $11 million, 36 unit condo building.
Based on the fact that the during the public hearing for rezoning Duncan residents and business people had universally condemned Brcic’s design plans, veteran Councillor Sharon Jackson moved to table the motion, with specific requirements:
Duncan City Hall
“I move that we table this until we have received and reviewed, at a minimum, the planning department’s considerations of:
• a comprehensive traffic study, reviewing the positive and negative aspects of the proposal
• a storm water management plan, given the high aquifer vulnerability of the site
• a geotechnical report
• an environmental impact report
• an analysis of shadowing on our important Hoey Park
• the consistency and relationship of the proposal with the defined streetscape, scale, and building heights of significant buildings
• a proposed LEED strategy that provides sufficient information for the proposal to be properly evaluated
• an independent legal opinion to determine the propriety of processing an application from a non-property owning speculator applicant.”
Councillor Sharon Jackson
With the support of Councillors Michelle Staples, Michelle Bell, and Joe Thorne, Jackson’s motion passed and the decision to rezone or not was postponed until the newly elected council took office.
The new council met on December 22. Solid project supporter Mayor Phil Kent recalled the tabled motion. He and returning Councillor Tom Duncan, joined newly elected Councillors Roger Bruce and John Horgan, gave the 4-3 go-ahead for Brcic’s Dakova group to build their five-story box that will dominate and over-shadow that portion of Duncan.
Mayor Phil Kent
The pugnacious Jackson also chided her fellow councillor, “But for my colleague of six years, Councillor Duncan I would like to remind you: You bear the heavy burden of being endorsed by both our MLA and our MP, two people who pride themselves on responding positively to strong public input. I ask you personally to remember the political ethics that you have publicly affirmed, which helped you get elected, to consider the public input we received and to reconsider your vote.”
Jackson also zeroed on the possible traffic problems Brcic’s design could cause, “Further, the plan for this building is that the entrance to the underground parking lot will open onto Canada Avenue, 50’ from the most complex intersection on Vancouver Island.
Councillor Michelle Staples
Imagine rush hour in the morning when 36 cars will be waiting to turn right out of the parkade and again in the afternoon, when 36 cars will be turning right on Craig, right on Station and right on Canada to access the entrance to the parkade in order to come home.
Councillor Michelle Bell
So, before we go any further with this rezoning application, where is the Traffic Impact Study?”
Wait a minute, an underground parking garage on the floodplain, where the water table is nearly on the surface. There are also serious drainage problems that have not been addressed. There will be a very large amount of water passing through this building.
Brcic supplied an artist’s rendering of the Dakova building but there are no actual construction drawings, so neither the public nor the four guys who vote in favour of the rezoning know what the completed building will look like.
Councillor Tom Duncan
Councillors Staples and Jackson are afraid that this is the beginning of development decisions being made at the pub, instead of in the Duncan Council Chambers. That’s because the guys on the new council like to head for the pub for a few cool ones after council and committee meetings.
The council girls have decided to join the guys at the pub to see if it’s all hockey and beer or if zoning talk gets mixed in.
Will it be a happy-hour party or a drunken brawl?
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
The Federal NDP has turned their backs on many NDP values and shifted to the centre under the leadership of Thomas Mulcair.
A disturbing number of NDP member activists have been blocked from even seeking nominations.
What has happened to today’s NDP federally and provincially was once unthinkable.
Is this a harbinger of what lies ahead ?
On Facebook Paul Manly was asked “What has changed?”
I will tell you what changed for me. You will know from my film work and my community organizing that I am solid and unequivocal on a number of issues. Initially, I thought that running to be an NDP MP would help steer the party in a positive, progressive direction. Since the time that I decided to run for the NDP, I have learned a number of things about how the NDP have abandoned their own policies. Policies that are very important to me.
I found out that Tom Mulcair is supportive, in fact ‘bullish’ on Energy East, a raw bitumen export pipeline that will expand tar sands production 40% above the current rate of 2 million barrels per day – this flies in the face of NDP climate policy. I am opposed to any new raw bitumen export pipelines. I stand with First Nations that oppose tar sands expansion and pipeline expansion.
I found out that Tom Mulcair supports Kinder Morgan but just isn’t happy with the environmental assessment process. He states that with a better process KM would be OK. Have you noticed that Kennedy Stewart’s petition only opposes the pipeline going through Burnaby? I unequivocally oppose this pipeline.
I found out that every NDP MP voted in lock-step for the Canada Korea free trade agreement this fall (a whipped vote no doubt). This went against NDP trade policy which opposes supporting any trade agreement with Investor State provisions. This is the same kind of neo-liberal trade deal as NAFTA… it’s not Ed Broadbent’s party anymore.
I found out that Tom Mulcair is opposed to decriminalizing marijuana and has stated on national TV that he will not follow through with NDP policy to decriminalize. Criminalizing marijuana users is unethical and detrimental to society.
I found out that the NDP supports gas fracking. I am opposed to gas fracking and have been for a long time.
I heard from an Ottawa insider that it is just as likely that I was blocked from entering the nomination race because of my involvement with the Council of Canadians and my unequivocal stands against investor state provisions in trade agreements, my unequivocal stance against new raw bitumen export pipeline projects and my unequivocal stand to protect water resources and oppose fracking.
I found out that other activists that hold views like my own were being actively blocked from nominations with the NDP as well.
I found out that the federal NDP had lost it’s D and had become more Autocratic than Democratic.
I found out that my views were not welcome by the federal NDP, that the NDP were no longer the party of Tommy Douglas and that the NDP was no longer my political home.
I didn’t change my views. The NDP has lost it’s way and abandoned principles and policies in it’s pursuit of power.
I found a party that stands for my views and principles, the Green Party of Canada. I am going to work hard to be the Green party MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith. Nanaimo-Ladysmith is going Green!
Some folks will be tad upset with the ‘Reality Check’ but it is time to defrag and tune up grass roots response to criminal corporate destruction of the environment.
Naomi Klein Takes on the Big Greens
In Jonathan Franzen’s bestselling novel Freedom, the main character accepts a dream job from a billionaire philanthropist. He is charged with partnering with coal companies in West Virginia to set aside 100 square miles as pristine habitat for the Cerulean Warbler, an endangered songbird that is further threatened by coal mining operations. There is, however, a catch: first, the coal companies will mine one third of the area using mountaintop removal techniques.
Franzen’s fictional scenario is probably the most widely read critique of the tendency of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) to seek “win-win” deals with industrial operators, however improbable or destructive. Oprah praised the novel as a “masterpiece,” and Barack Obama called it “fantastic.” One wonders, however, how many readers overlooked the implications of Franzen’s ENGO parody and the reality it depicts.
Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate might not garner praise from Oprah and Obama, but it’s the second book on the New York Times bestseller list in recent years to take aim at the unholy alliance of ENGOs and the fossil fuel industry. And unlike Franzen’s fiction, Klein’s writing presents this reality free of artistic irony and distance.
The truth is at least as strange as the fiction. Klein’s chapter on corporate-collaborating environmentalism, “Fruits not Roots: The Disastrous Merger of Big Business and Big Green,” begins with the saga of the world’s largest ENGO, the Nature Conservancy, and the fate of the Attwater’s prairie chicken in Texas. The story boils down to this: the Nature Conservancy bought up the last bit of land that the endangered bird was living on, ostensibly to preserve the bird’s habitat.
Instead, Nature Conservancy permitted continued drilling for oil and gas, financing its own operations by spoiling land it was supposed to be protecting. This flagrant conflict of interest caused a minor scandal, fuelled in part by a Washington Post investigation, but the ENGO kept allowing drilling.
“For traditional conservationists,” Klein writes, “it was a little like finding out that Amnesty International had opened its own prison wing in Guantanamo.”
And that’s because the implications go beyond the survival of one species. “That this could happen in the age of climate change points to a painful reality behind the environmental movement’s catastrophic failure to effectively battle the economic interests behind our soaring emissions: large parts of the movement aren’t fighting those interests – they have merged with them,” writes Klein.
Transformed by Success
How did the Big Greens get to this point? We need to look back to an eruption of environmental consciousness in the 1960s and ’70s that led to a string of major environmental victories. Klein names 15 key pieces of environmental legislation that were passed in the U.S. with support from across the political spectrum – evidence of a remarkable awakening that changed policy from the grassroots on up.
The environmental movement was soon transformed by its own success. “In rapid fashion,” Klein writes, “what had been a rabble of hippies became a movement of lawyers, lobbyists and UN summit hoppers.” Professionalization was the order of the day, and insider strategies were the norm. Such strategies were successful when millions of people were hitting the streets outside, but myopia began to set in.
Then Ronald Reagan happened. The Great Communicator came out swinging early, saying things like “trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.” The Gipper’s ascent to the U.S. presidency was a harbinger of the pushback from the polluting industries that had seen regulations eating into their profits in the midst of economic crises.
The climate had changed. Green groups were caught off guard. “Many of these newly professional environmentalists came to pride themselves on being the ultimate insiders, able to wheel and deal across the political spectrum,” writes Klein. But as industry lobbyists seized the reins in Washington, environmentalists were twisting in the wind.
In this context, an “open-for-business approach” that stressed changing business models rather than regulations was “adept at attracting big donors and elite access,” so many green groups “raced to get with the agreeable program, taking an ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ attitude to brazen extremes.”
And that, Klein concludes, is how got into the current mess. These corporate-collaborating Big Greens now support fracking as a “bridge fuel,” despite evidence that the process emits more greenhouse gases than oil. And they’re backing carbon-trading schemes so ill-conceived that they actually incentivize the production of dangerous pollutants.
Her critique is heating up, but then Klein stops. It’s not hard to understand why. The Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defense Fund are slam-dunk, open-and-shut cases of how damaging the collaborative model is. Wading into more contentious or complicated examples could muddy the point.
Thankfully, Klein doesn’t prop up any of the milder corporate collaborators as alternatives to the more egregious offenders. The chapter simply ends.
To tell the rest of the story, others will have to pick up where Klein leaves off, using insights she provides elsewhere in the book. For example, when discussing alternative energy, Klein says: “There are plenty of examples of large-scale, privately owned renewable energy projects that fell apart because they were imposed from the outside without local input or profit sharing.”
Decentralized control, she concludes, is essential. “Communities should be given new tools and powers to design the methods that work best for them.” Without much lost in transition, we can apply this same sentiment to ENGOs. Indeed, Klein hastens to add that “what is true for energy … can be true for many other sectors.”
Applying such a critique to the environmental silo of the non-profit industrial complex would hit close to home for much of the existing environmental movement. A paradox twists through the historical arc of modern environmentalism: all the major victories were won at a time when the resources available to the movement were a fraction of what they are today; as funding increased, victories became less consequential even if they became more numerous.
The Foundation Equation
A heady cocktail of factors animates this trend. The foundations that provide the major portion of funding for ENGOs are, with some marginal exceptions, politically conservative relative to the radical changes that are necessary. When ENGOs are not deeply linked to oil companies, as with the Pew Charitable Trusts’ relationship with Sunoco, they’re often still embedded within the neoliberal status quo, depending on the Rockefeller Brothers Fund or the Hewlett Foundation for funding. Pew has channelled tens of millions to Canadian groups – including CPAWS, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and the David Suzuki Foundation – willing to embrace a corporate-collaborative approach in the boreal forest. The Hewlett Foundation, which has a more green-capitalist hue, is currently the main financial backer of anti-tarsands ENGO activities in Canada, with recipient groups including Dogwood, Greenpeace Canada, and ForestEthics, among many others.
Foundations like Pew undermine resistance by attempting to build consensus between environmentalists, First Nations, and industry. Other foundations may be willing to fund some effective resistance to fossil fuel extraction, but each one has a limit.
Such foundations exert tremendous influence over which issues ENGOs take on and how they do so. Project-based funding and reporting requirements give foundations the power to dictate priorities; funding-dependent organizations have no choice but to hew closely to foundation agendas. Almost inevitably, a layer of bureaucracy dedicated first and foremost to maintaining relationships with funders must be built. In this context, accountability to the grassroots becomes a liability because it presents competing priorities.
In the sordid tales of ENGO misdeeds that Klein showcases, it is the organizations’ political positions and choice of tactics, stemming from cozy funding arrangements, that set the guilty organizations apart. But in the actual operations, a diversity of political stances and tactics (including direct action) can actually contribute to and strengthen corporate collaborations.
The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) is a case in point. Signed in 2010 by a who’s who of Canadian ENGOs and several major logging companies, the CBFA shows how direct action and strong demands can feed into corporate collaboration. In the years leading up to the agreement, activists, organizers, and volunteers were enlisted in a direct action and boycott campaign that targeted lumber shipments, corporate headquarters, and the logging companies’ corporate customers.
What most of the people involved didn’t know was that the endgame was an alliance with logging companies that would see Greenpeace, the David Suzuki Foundation, and others pulling a 180-degree turn. By the terms of the agreement, these ENGOs would be bound to defend logging companies’ products as “green.” The folks who were arrested in the campaign, some of whom took significant physical risks, had no idea their organizations would reverse course.
When the actual agreement was leaked, early claims of a conservation agreement “applying to an area twice the size of Germany” were revealed as deeply misleading – the rate of logging did not change. To make matters worse, the signatories had not consulted with the First Nations in this vast area. The primary stewards of that forest for millennia were locked out in standard colonial form.
Klein would hopefully agree that such agreements are “imposed from the outside without local input” and that disempowering both participating volunteers and front-line communities sets back the cause of climate justice.
Against the Current
There is a strong current within funding circles that would like subsequent campaigns to follow the CBFA model. After the 2010 signing, a representative of Pew Charitable Trusts, a key backer of the deal, told journalist Dawn Paley that they “would love to have similar talks with the oil and gas industry and also with the mining industry as well.”
Thankfully, that hasn’t come to pass. Instead, the last five years have seen a shift toward grassroots organizing. The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), a U.S. network of grassroots groups in affected communities, flexed its muscles in September’s People’s Climate March in New York City with front-line activists (mostly people of colour) and Indigenous people literally leading the way. Right after the march, CJA organizer Ananda Lee Tan told the Daily Beast that “[the big greens] have to shift the way they do business, from being large top-down institutions to being accountable to democratic bases and practicing democratic decision-making.” The CJA and groups like Movement Generation exemplify that shift in the U.S., showing that it is possible for movements to influence foundations and reset the terms of engagement
Canada is a few steps behind. Campaign plans are still made in West Coast island retreats attended by paid staff and their guests. Meaningful, democratic grassroots participation is practically unthinkable in most ENGO campaign work. Many ENGO tarsands campaigns are effectively coordinated by Tzeporah Berman, a noted advocate of the corporate collaboration model. Berman advises foundations on which groups to fund and when. A grassroots-driven coalition analogous to the CJA has yet to emerge, though Indigenous groups have asserted a growing independence and influence on anti-tarsands work.
Without any easily attainable sources of independent funding, climate justice work that challenges capitalism will continue to rely on foundation funding to some degree. Developments in the U.S. have shown that movements can provoke shifts in the face of a stale and intransigent collaborationist approach. Only time will tell how far they can push things. The more we can build democratic, community-led, and self-funded activity, the more likely it is that the folks with money will be forced to follow rather than to lead.
The shift is happening. But for a large-scale emergence of a participatory, bottom-up movement that empowers rather than exploits, alternatives to foundation funding and the hierarchical bureaucracy it necessitates must be found. That’s the conclusion that does not appear in This Changes Everything, but we’ll need to speak and share that message if the title of the book is to be prophetic and not merely provocative.
Dru Oja Jay is a writer and organizer living in Montreal. He is a co-founder of the Media Co-op and the co-author, with Nikolas Barry-Shaw, of Paved with Good Intentions: Canada’s development NGOs from idealism to imperialism.
This article appeared in the January/February 2015 issue of Briarpatch.
Six weeks of trying to keep warm by a small propane fire. Six weeks of carrying picket signs, of waving at horn-blowing motorists, explaining to passers-by why they are outside the offices of the News-Leader-Pictorial, when their jobs are inside the building.
These selfless people, from advertising, newsroom, production and distribution, who have long brought the community a newspaper twice a week are on the outside looking in because David Black, millionaire owner of the News-Leader, has decided to change their pay scale.
The employees are a Unifor union shop and they say no to Black’s demand for a two-tier salary scheme.
David Black is no friend of the Cowichan Valley
With a smile like Scrooge, Black assures the current employees that what he wants to implement will cause them no pain, their wages and benefits will remain just as they are.
It’s only those who are hired from now on who will be paid significantly less for doing the same work for the same corporation.
So the people daily walking that picket line are losing pay everyday and putting their jobs on the line to help young workers who come along to replace them in the future.
History also teaches the strikers that if they give in to Mr. Black’s demands very soon there will be new low-pay workers hired, and trained by the long-time, top tier employees.
Then Mr. Black’s managers will look for ways to get top-tier workers to take early retirement or find other ways to get rid of them.
Black’s scheme is to have the entire workforce on the low rung of the wage scale. This is not being done to give the community a better newspaper, it is solely for putting more money in Mr. Black’s already bulging pockets.
Seeing that the employees are determined not to give in to his outrageous demands Black is now playing his big money card, he has bought the Cowichan area’s other newspaper the Cowichan Valley Citizen as an obvious threat to the unionized News-Leader employees.
Now, contrary to all the rules of employer-employee contract relations Mr. Black refuses to continue to negotiate, refuses to even meet with or talk to the employees’ representatives.
The employees know full well that Black will take over the Citizen newspaper on March 2, and will be in a position to just shut down the News-Leader and let the Citizen gobble up all the advertising revenue.
With no more competition Black will have monopoly control of advertising rates. All the better for profits, eh.
But for the rest of us, higher advertising costs will mean higher prices for goods. The employees will lose, possibly their jobs, the merchants will lose, consumers will lose, but be assured Mr. Black will be able to laugh all the way to the bank.
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
Here is Rafe’s latest piece tackling the outdated ‘First Past the Post’ system of electing dictatorships to govern Canada.
Frankly I do not know how we could design a worse system than the one that entrenches unassailable power in the Prime Minister’s office such as we have in Canada today.
Rate Mair makes the point that we cannot wait for perfection in change and I agree wholeheartedly.
Fix our democracy’s mess, ignore boo birds’ silly myths.
By Rafe Mair, TheTyee.ca
We have a dictator at 24 Sussex Drive. So was Trudeau. So was Chretien. In fact, though he had a smile on his face, so was Mulroney. We don’t acquire dictators by a putsch but all nice and legal like under a system which makes them a natural consequence of an election.
We can liberate ourselves from dictatorship by reforming our electoral system and adopting proportional representation (PR).
Unfortunately, when Canadians consider reforms they consistently make perfection the enemy of improvement. Clearly the majority strongly believe that we require reforms to our electoral system and our system of governance generally — and now. You can tell because the boo birds have begun to smother proposals not with arguments on the merits but a lament that since the suggested changes won’t fix everything, it’s best to leave things alone.
Let’s look at the mess.
Members of Parliament on the government benches are as useless as tits on a bull. They perform no function other than to vote the way they are told by the Party Whip.
Opposition members, while having more freedom to speak, only oppose that which their leader tells them to.
Cabinet ministers, parliamentary secretaries and all national positions of consequence are appointed or approved personally by the prime minister.
We elect MPs in such a way that only a minority of voters actually have any influence. Unless you vote for the winner, your vote is a waste of time and effort. Even voting for a winner doesn’t mean much if your constituency is a “safe one.”
Shouldn’t every vote cast count? Or is it the Canadian way that only an elite, with orthodox opinions, have a say?
Unless we agree with the notion that the winner of a majority government needs less than 40 per cent of the popular vote, with only two parties barely distinguishable from one another as the only serious contenders, surely our “system” cries out for some sort of proportional representation.
(Essentially PR means that political parties list candidates and elect as many of those as their percentage of the popular vote indicates. In order to keep tiny parties out, there is usually a minimum threshold of votes required, say five per cent.)
This means that every vote cast has the same force. Think what this really means.
Let’s take, for example, East Vancouver. If you’re a Liberal or Tory, your vote, if you bother, is wasted. Similarly, if you’re NDP and live in West Vancouver, you might as well, and likely do, stay home. Under PR, all votes count the same no matter where they are cast!
This has a dramatic impact on the results.
The potential benefits
You can be almost certain that there will not be a majority party in the House. Because of our long tradition, this causes many to set their hair on fire. But what this means is that a minority government must govern with the consent of a majority of Parliament as a whole, not just government lickspittles who vote as they are told.
A minister of finance, for example, can’t rely on his or her budget automatically passing but must have support of a majority of the House — what on earth could be wrong with that?
The prime minster can no longer cram through his legislation but must convince a majority. Again what’s the matter with that?
The boo birds say this means that governments will fall like tenpins because they’ll constantly lose votes. In fact, that’s not what happens. Governments either refrain from bringing in budgets and legislation that they know won’t pass muster or make it palatable. It becomes the “peoples’ budget or legislation,” not the prime minister’s.
Moreover, MPs don’t like putting their jobs in jeopardy lightly. Experience elsewhere shows that minority governments can be quite stable. There is, however, the advantage of the safety valve called non-confidence. Under the present system a non-confidence motion in a majority government hasn’t passed since 1878. Under PR it’s little used but remains a constant reminder that Parliament, not the prime minister, is supreme.
PR restores to the individual member of Parliament the power and dignity which the position should bring. No longer is the MP just a mindless high-paid toady but one who must be reckoned with as must his/her constituency.
One of the main boos is that PR eliminates the constituency, thus taking away the close connection of the citizen to government.
A moment’s reflection shows that this is nonsense. Currently a citizen only has connection to an MP who is powerless; under PR, all members of Parliament are worth lobbying.
Moreover, because every vote counts, parties by necessity will have strong representation facilities in every area of the country, not just where they’re strong. With electronic communication, including Skype, remote areas are now better represented than ever before.
We pride ourselves on independent boundary commissions, yet there is a terrific imbalance between voters in one constituency and another, between urban and rural areas especially. Without constituencies, there’s no more gerrymandering and votes are the same everywhere.
If one is bound to the notion of constituencies, there are systems like those in New Zealand and Germany with a mixed system, where half are first-past-the-post as we now have, and half by proportional representation.
Those who hate PR are those accustomed to running things either from the PM’s office or as “back-room boys and girls.” They’d rather spend 10 years without power in order to have a turn with 100 per cent. Sharing power for the people, not the party is anathema, and to hell with all votes being equal. They don’t oppose PR because it’s wrong, but because they prefer the results of an unfair system!
The fear is that the party list will consist of party hacks and faithful donors.
This isn’t realistic. Under PR, MPs must be actual governors, true parliamentarians, not the PM’s dummies.
While a bagman might find it attractive to be an MP under the present system, where he only need do what he’s told in order to collect an obscene salary and pension, he’s hardly going to like it much if he must actually do the work of governing. Unlike now, with PR where capable MPs are a necessity, it’s clearly in the party’s interest to select men and women capable of governing.
It’s said that goofy opinions will become actual parties in the House. My answer is a question. Why shouldn’t any group, with support of over five per cent of all voters, have a say in the House of Commons? As it is, even a force as strong and popular as the Greens has a hell of a time electing more than one or two MPs. Surely this is wrong. And who’s to say what is or is not goofy? I say the voter.
Now is the time for deep reform
The question before Canadians isn’t complicated.
Are we satisfied with a system where the prime minister’s office runs the whole show and tells MPs not only how they must vote but how they must speak, how they must run their committees, what they must tell their media back home and what they must say in their speeches to their constituents?
If we are not we should change it and not allow the boo birds to make perfection the enemy of our reforms. We’ll never come close to a perfect system but we can sure do a hell of a lot better! There will always be a desire for change and that’s exactly as it ought to be.
In fact, the evil with our present system is two-fold. It isn’t remotely representative of the people and it’s become ossified and damn near impossible to change.
This means not tinkering, but fundamental reform. Yes, always recognize that the road to perfection is a long one; but recognize, too, that it’s long past time we get started.
Rafe Mair writes a column for The Tyee every second Monday.
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
The transformation of our country that Steve Harper foreshadowed has been underway for sometime and the results have been devastating. The war on science, scientists, the environment and environmentalists has been ruthless and unrelenting.
Canada, once an internationally respected nation that excelled at peace keeping and demonstrated to the world that solid environmental stewardship and a kinder, gentler approach to governance was both possible and achievable.
PM Steve Harper-The Ugly Canadian
That was some time ago. Today the term ‘Ugly Canadian’ has become a valid description of our Prime Minister and applies equally to the obedient supporting cast of his conservative cabinet and caucus.
The Watershed Sentinel has provided a thorough no nonsense voice in the wilderness that has held the despoilers to account for years.
Joyce Nelson’s article appears in their latest issue and is one of the best critiques and explanations of what drives the mean spirited Prime Minister Steve Harper that I have seen anywhere.
By: Joyce Nelson
Read the full story
We think of right-wing evangelical religion as an influence in American politics, but, unrecognized by the public and mostly unreported, it is a powerful influence on the Conservative caucus. That would explain the destruction of environmental policies and those omnibus bills.
When it comes to religion, most 21st century Canadians are a tolerant lot, with a “live and let live” mentality. We tend to not particularly care about other Canadians’ religious beliefs, or lack of religious beliefs, and we expect a similar tolerance in return.
But when the supposed separation of Church and State starts to erode, we take notice. As Stephen Harper gears up for the next election, some of us wonder if the massive changes to Canada that have already been perpetrated by the Harper government are connected to his religious beliefs.
In her 2010 book, The Armageddon Factor, Marci McDonald warned about the “theo-cons” (Stephen Harper’s word), who view “science and environmentalism as hostile to the Bible.”
Regarding the church that Harper has belonged to for nearly three decades – the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church – McDonald noted that its “adherents believe that the Bible is ‘inerrant’ and the Second Coming is ‘imminent’.”
By Blaise Salmon
While historically B.C.’s economy was resource-based, by 2012, only three per cent of B.C.’s GDP came from oil, gas and related services, according to the B.C. Economic Accounts.
Many other sectors of the economy — finance, construction, tourism, high tech and even green jobs — are now more important.
By the same token, the famed Alberta oilsands make up only two per cent of Canada’s GDP, while providing 112,000 jobs. In comparison, a 2013 Conference Board study showed that more jobs, 163,000, were provided by Canada’s beer industry — including brewing, distribution, transportation, wholesale, retail and agricultural products.
From this point of view, a beer pipeline might be a better idea than an oil pipeline. And a lot more popular.
Richard ‘Hub’ Hughes-Outstanding in his Field!
Well now that Christmas is over and the offer of spending New Years with our friends Paul and Fran in California is before us, I will bid you all farewell for a couple of weeks. We have other friends in the Bay area as well so we will have a great time visiting and cruising about.
I hope that you enjoyed the holiday break and the celebration with friends and family, although with our kids spread all over North America and beyond, that is not always possible.
A big day for me is December 30th. That was the day that I quit smoking 10 years ago, and to celebrate and mark the occasion Paul has picked up two tickets to watch the Canucks play the San Jose Sharks in San Jose.
Ya gotta love that eh!
For some unimanagable reason Fran and Maggie are taking a pass on the hockey game. Hard to figure is whut!
Should I wear my Canucks Jersey?
Posts may be spotty during the break but perhaps CC contributors out there may feel the calling and send in some articles that I will happily post.
Happy New Year Everybody!
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
We will not easily forget Mark Forsyth who became part of our day on CBC’s ‘Almanac’ where he broadcast for 30 years.
He is a person of quality and that came through, as did his knowledge and love of British Columbia and its citizens.
He deserves a happy and busy retirement. Now he will be able to pursue his many interests more freely.
Happy Trails Mark.
B.C. Almanac host Mark Forsythe hosts his final show on CBC Radio One on Dec. 24. (CBC)
Broadcaster and author Mark Forsythe hosted his final show on B.C. Almanac at noon today after 30 years on the air.
Forsythe, who earned the nickname Mr. B.C. for his extensive knowledge of the province, first joined CBC Radio in 1984 as a host in Prince Rupert. He later moved to Kelowna, and then to Vancouver to host The Afternoon Show in 1991.
In 1996 he became the host of B.C. Almanac, CBC Radio One’s provincewide noon show. The popular show has earned a place in listeners’ hearts with its popular call-ins and frequent road trips to host broadcasts from all corners of the province.
Forsythe announced earlier this year that after 30 years with CBC, he planned to retire after the annual Christmas Card of the Air show on Dec. 24.
Follow our live blog from the show
While Forsythe is retiring from CBC, the four-time author says he still plans to spend time exploring and learning about the landscape, history and people of B.C.
B.C. Almanac’s new host Gloria Macarenko will take over the show in the new year.
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
Well here we are just a few days from Christmas and as you may have noticed my time for writing has been curtailed.
The falling oil and gas prices may be good news on several fronts. Take a few minutes to read this excellent Andrew Nikiforuk interview with international oil expert Terry Lynn Karl.
We are on a ride to nowhere with few options as our governments continue pursuing greed and riches with a gold rush mentality.
They, and as a result we, are missing the boat by concentrating on a volatile commodity that lacks the stability needed to manage a steady and predictable society.
We should ask Terry Lynn Karl up to speak to our Federal and Provincial governments in hopes that they may back off this roller coaster ride that may be heady on the way up, but we can be assured of a rough and tumble crash on the way down.
By Andrew Nikiforuk-the Tyee
What do the plummeting oil prices tell us not only about our near term economic future in Canada, but the political fragility of the world’s petro states?
If Canada fully joins the petro state club, as our prime minister and his party desire, is oil’s volatility just the cost of doing business, or a threat to our nation’s well-being?
The ideal person to ask is Terry Lynn Karl, one of North America’s foremost experts on the politics of oil. The Tyee recently caught up with Karl, who teaches at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco.
Asked in a wide ranging interview what Canadians might expect if oil prices stay low for a few years, she predicted “a rapidly declining Canadian dollar, greater problems over pipelines, the reduction of future investments, and a very bumpy oil ride, especially for Alberta.
“Any adverse effect low oil prices will have on Canada’s high cost oil industry will have a multiplier effect on the economy and polity. Government services will be cut back, house sales will decline, and banking will slow down. Canadians will not be so happy with their government.”
“We urgently must wean ourselves from fossil fuels. All we are doing now is moving costs and benefits around in a highly volatile system. Few win, and most people lose. But I am not optimistic that this will happen before the consequences are catastrophic. There is just too much money in oil. As long as these extraordinarily high profits exist, oil will be extracted and politics will be petrolized to prohibit better alternatives.”
Read Andrew Nikiforuk’s entire interview with Terry Lynn Karl
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
The tide is turning in the US and Canada regarding the pitfalls and dangers of fracking and the entire LNG play.
Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, New York, the list of jurisdictions standing up for citizens and the environment is growing and shows no sign of letting up.
As the manipulated price for gas and oil plummet the politics that have driven this turn about are in full swing.
The alternate green technologies will and must replace this madness. The public are demanding it and there will be no turning back.
Here is the latest Democracy Now report on the negative impacts:
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
In BC residents face a BC Liberal-BC NDP united front in favour of fracking and all things LNG.
Prices are dropping, mounting evidence of a give away grows daily. An abdication of responsibility on every level becomes irrefutable.
Premier Christy Clark has a free ride as BC NDP leader John Horgan joins her arm in arm in a bi-partisan endorsement of the most massive give-away in our history.
It is remarkable that in spite of the eloquent NDP arguments against fracking prior to 3rd reading, when it mattered they rolled over at the direction of leader John Horgan and unanimously endorsed the give-away.
The new coalition is selling us down the river and yet the BC NDP Caucus members remain in lockstep giving new meaning to the term ‘Whipped.’
There is good news from other jurisdictions however as this New York Times story explains.
Anti-fracking activists at a rally in New York in October 2012. CREDO.fracking/Flickr
Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks
By Thomas Kaplandec-New York Times
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo listened to a presentation on fracking at a cabinet meeting in Albany on Wednesday. Credit Mike Groll/Associated Press
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of debate over a method of extracting natural gas.
Fracking, as it is known, was heavily promoted as a source of economic revival for depressed communities along New York’s border with Pennsylvania, and Mr. Cuomo had once been poised to embrace it.
Instead, the move to ban fracking left him acknowledging that, despite the intense focus he has given to solving deep-rooted economic woes afflicting large areas upstate, the riddle remained largely unsolved. “I’ve never had anyone say to me, ‘I believe fracking is great,’ ” he said. “Not a single person in those communities. What I get is, ‘I have no alternative but fracking.’ ”
In a double blow to areas that had anticipated a resurgence led by fracking, a state panel on Wednesday backed plans for three new Las Vegas-style casinos, but none along the Pennsylvania border in the Southern Tier region. The panel, whose advice Mr. Cuomo said would quite likely be heeded, backed casino proposals in the Catskills, near Albany and between Syracuse and Rochester.
Continue reading the main story
Also check out these reports-
Fracking Bans in Quebec and New York Should Give B.C. Premier Christy Clark Pause
Nova Scotia Fracking Ban To Be Indefinite
New Brunswick introduces fracking moratorium
David Black buys the Cowichan Citizen
The Cowichan Citizen reported that the Vancouver Island Community Newspaper Group has been sold to Black Press; this includes the Cowichan Valley Citizen.
Black Press and The Vancouver Island Community Newspaper Group have shuffled the deck that may well be a lump of coal in the Christmas stockings of striking workers picketing the Cowichan News Leader.
Will Black continue to run both papers in the same market? Will he drop the News Leader and shut it down in favour of entrenching the Cowichan Citizen with its lower wage operation.
Personally I think that it is time that we had the option of a locally owned and operated option.
Black Press will assume operational control of the Cowichan Valley Citizen, the Alberni Valley Times, the Nanaimo Daily News and Nanaimo Press and the Campbell River Courier on March 2. The Victoria Times Colonist is not part of this transaction.
Black Press will assume operational control of the Comox Valley Echo, the Oceanside Star and the Tofino-Ucuelet Westerly News on Jan. 1.
In separate transactions Glacier Media has sold the Surrey Now, Langley Advance and Maple Ridge Times and their related publications and digital properties to Black Press.
Cowichan News Leader Pictorial Staff continue their strike while David Black buys the competition Citizen.
Glacier Media has also purchased the Tri Cities News, Burnaby News Leader, Richmond Review and New Westminster News Leader and their related publications and digital properties from Black Press.
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
Another abandoned, oil leaking, derelict vessel has moved into Cowichan Bay.
Local concerned residents have tried to contact authorities to have it moved.
CVRD Director Lori Iannidinardo told Cowichan Conversations that Pacific Industrial’s Brian Thacker, frustrated with inaction from the Environment Ministry, BC Emergency or Coast Guard, has stepped in and had his crew throw a boom around the unwelcome intruder in hopes of stemming the pollution threatening the bay and estuary.
A typical abandoned derelict ship–location unknown
Today I have been advised that finally after 48 hours of no show and no action from either provincial or federal authorities Transport Canada contracted Pacific Industrial’s Brian Thacker to haul the abandoned half sunk boat up. His crew then hoisted it onto a barge. Fortunately this was about a 35′ craft and not like the hulk pictured above.
Well done Brian Thacker and crew. BTW I am told that is the fourth vessel that he and his crew have yanked so far this year. Where the hell are the taxpayer funded authorities?
Another derelict vessel abandoned in Cowichan Bay. Photo via Brian Thatcher
OK, so what about the owner who ditched his ailing craft leaking oil into the bay, you ask, and rightfully so. Well, so far nada. Chatter has it that quite a few know damn well whose boat it is but have yet to identify him/her publicly.
Feel free to drop an email to email@example.com if you would like to flush out the story further, anonymously if need be.
Read this report from Cowichan Citizen reporter Lexi Bainas here.
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
Newspaper’s day has passed! Cowichan residents like people elsewhere have embraced the ‘Digital Age.’
My first reaction was, what was Chemainus Courier Publisher Warren Goulding thinking when along with Editor Mile D’Amour, Advertising Manager Shelley Rouse, and Associate Publisher Connie Manning they launched the ‘South Cowichan Echo’ that appeared in our mailboxes Friday.
I had been asked to do some columns for them and so I though sure, and as the idea sunk in I realized that as with most challenges timing is everything.
The areas south of the Cowichan River to the Malahat have grown and developed the point that we could support a local paper, our paper-the ‘South Cowichan Echo.’
Publisher Warren Goulding
Friday afternoon, Maggie came in with the mail, including the ‘Echo’ Volume 1, Number 1, and I eagerly opened it up quickly turning page after page and before I had even really read the stories and articles it was clear to me that this is an idea whose time has come.
The richness of our communities needs to be reflected in our own paper and it has been, even in the first edition, a keeper by the way.
Editor D’Amour was very busy and the first piece that caught my eye was an encouraging account of the Malahat Nation and the progress that they had made under the leadership of Malahat Nation Chief Michael Harry.
Advertising Manager Shelley Rouse
Amuse-owner and Chef Brad Boisvert was featured with tasty offerings about preparing smoked turkey. He has recently opened a new shop-Cure Artisan Meat and Cheese-in the Valley View Shopping Centre. Again Cowichan’s reputation as a treasure for artisan foods continues.
Nice to see local businesses stepping up in support. Andrea and Daniel — Hudson’s on First– is a featured advertiser and doesn’t this all make you hungry.
For political watchers, Mike D’amour’s editorial, and my ‘Cowichan Conversations’ column offer takes on recent local elections. The newly elected and re-elected CVRD Directors laid out their stances and approaches- a hint of what is to come.
Mike D’Amour – Editor
Georgia Collins, an NDP hopeful pursuing the nomination to represent the federal NDP following Jean Crowder’s announced intention to step down, has a large full colour ad. This young woman has energy and pizzaz.
A late entrant she has been here, there and everywhere promoting herself in a tasteful and compelling manner. I would not be the slightest surprised to see her capture the nomination in January. She could well become our next MP!
There is much more including the entertaining Rick Dennis, a Chamber report from Dave Shorthill, and Shirley Walker’s Mill Bay Musings. That is just a taste to encourage you to take a look yourselves, there is more, much more.
Enjoy your new paper!
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
The announcement that long serving NDP MP Libby Davies has decided to step back from Federal politics after serving as the Vancouver East MP since 1997 will leave a big hole in the NDP ship.
She was a fearless leader of those in need and fought the battles that most politicians tip-toed around.
It is doubtful that she will roll over and settle into her rocking chair.
Could she be looking at provincial politics next?
Fred Wilson wrote the following article that has been published in Rabble.ca
The New Democratic Party’s political boat is listing today with the announcement by Vancouver East MP Libby Davies that she will not seek re-election in 2015. Her departure from the caucus will not only put in play one of the most secure NDP seats in the country, but more importantly will leave a gaping hole on the portside of the party.
There will be speculation about political reasons for her decision, coming after other strong women progressives in the NDP caucus, Jean Crowder and Chris Charlton, announced their retirements as well. But Davies is not stepping down because of politics. She is easily the most highly respected and influential politician on the left of Canadian politics and was certain to play a large role in the next Parliament, regardless of where the NDP is sitting.
Her announcement comes in the wake of a personal triumph in last week’s unanimous vote of the House to support her motion for compensation and justice for victims of thalidomide. It was a rare accomplishment that speaks strongly to her stature and political skills after 18 years in Parliament, 8 years as House Leader and 7 years as Deputy Leader of the NDP.
Libby Davies’ leadership role in the NDP has a special kind of credibility because it was never gifted to her by the party. She won the Vancouver East nomination in its largest-ever nomination meeting at the PNE Exhibition Gardens by just 26 votes over Rocco Di Trolio, who represented mainstream NDP views and Italian community credentials.
Davies, on the other hand, had been a COPE City Councillor, elected to Council in 1982 from a labour-community base largely outside the NDP, which ran its own separate candidates.
She represented the organizing and advocacy of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association, which she helped found with her husband and political partner, Bruce Eriksen and legendary anti-poverty activist Jean Swanson. It was a street-politics that the politicians were largely oblivious of; but it was all too real to the residents of the Downtown Eastside, and they have given her unwavering support throughout her career.
Libby Davies, Bruce Yorke, Harry Rankin, Bruce Erickson
Davies began politics as a City Council candidate at the age of 23 with COPE. She was elected 4 years later to the Park Board and then City Council – a rising star among Vancouver’s labour left leaders who included Harry Rankin, Bruce Yorke and Vancouver Labour Council President Frank Kennedy. In its prime, COPE mastered a community based, socialist politics that was exceptional in Canadian municipal affairs. It stood out for its success — out-voting Vancouver’s business coalitions and various NDP civic formations for almost two decades.
Once in Parliament, Davies carried those traditions forward as critic and campaigner on poverty, housing and women’s issues. She became a national figure through two national tours on housing and homelessness in 1998 and 2001. Then, in 2003 she was a national voice of support for harm reduction and for the first safe injection site in Canada. She received the Justice Gerald LeDain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law for her work on drug policy reform. She was the first MP to raise the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Parliament. In 2003, she won support for an all-party committee which later produced a report on the health and safety of sex workers.
In her early years as an MP, Davies worked closely with firebrand socialist Svend Robinson who had run for party leader in 1995. In 2001, Davies and Robinson were the primary NDP caucus supporters of the “New Politics Initiative “(NPI) that endeavoured to reenergize the party with social movement politics and a turn to the left in policy. The NPI stood in stark contrast to the “Third Way” NDP politics, advocated by many, to take the party down a “Blairist” road by signing on to much of the neo-liberal economics and social policy of the last 20 years.
Jack Layton was not formally associated with the NPI, but his candidacy for leader in 2002 was seen as an expression of the NPI, especially in relation to his chief challenger and perceived front runner, Winnipeg MP Bill Blaikie. Blaikie’s bombastic anti-NPI speech at the 2003 NDP convention was crucial to its defeat. Davies was an early and prominent supporter of Layton, who immediately appointed her House Leader. In that role, Davies brokered, from the 2004 Paul Martin government, the “NDP budget” with $4.6 billion for social programs.
Jack Layton-Olivia Chow-Libby Davies
There are many reasons for the Orange Wave in 2011, but certainly one important factor was the performance of the NDP as the unofficial opposition in Davies’ years as House Leader.
The devastating results of Third Way politics for European social democrats, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, were largely avoided in Canada, and Davies played no small role in anchoring the party when the tide seemed to be heading in that direction.
She did not win every debate, nor did Libby Davies ultimately determine the NDP’s course. The NDP’s abandonment of policy and support for Conservative measures on minimum sentencing and some other crime bills came over her objections. Her principled positions on Palestinian rights made her the target of vitriol from inside and outside the party. She was sometimes a minority voice on strategic matters and twice chose not to run for leader.
Nevertheless, Tom Mulcair accepted the party leadership in 2012 with an almost simultaneous announcement — and reassurance to the activist base of the party — that Libby Davies would remain as Deputy Leader. By most accounts, Tom Mulcair has come to rely on her almost as much as did Layton. Someone to bring a big message to a labour convention or a skeptical audience? Someone to handle national media and complicated politics without a briefing book? She is one of the few who can do it day in and day out.
It is hard to see where that reassurance and voice for social change politics will come from now. It is a special mix of social movement skills, class and power analysis along with principle that makes it possible for a grassroots leader to play successfully at the top of politics without distancing themselves from the values and struggles that launched them into politics. These are not the primary characteristics that parties are looking for these days when they seek out candidates.
The anguish now in Vancouver East will be over finding a fitting successor and the old false choices between community struggles, social change politics and perceived electability. These will not be easy decisions, for even after Libby Davies’ 18 years as MP (almost matching CCF/NDP MP Harold Winch’s 19 years of tenure), at the next election the NDP does not own Vancouver East. The Liberals have won the riding twice, including the election before Davies’ win in 1997.
It is a safe forecast that without Libby Davies, Parliament and the NDP will list to starboard and tend to drag anchor when the winds blow. Her departure creates a vacancy for someone who might step up to articulate and champion a progressive, value-driven course for the NDP and the progressive movement beyond. More likely, it will be a season or two before another tested, principled leader of her kind will emerge out of community and labour struggles.
Fred Wilson is Director of Strategic Planning at Unifor. He is a volunteer Board member of the Council of Canadians and Rabble.ca
Richard Hughes- Political Blogger
It is getting harder each day to ignore the escalating reports of environmental destruction, global warming, extreme weather and utter disregard by most of our politicians.
US President Obama has turned the corner somewhat but in Canada PM Steve Harper is displaying the most ignorant responses as he presides over unnecessary destruction and ever increasing damage from the greed driven pursuit of oil and gas.
Water off Washington’s coast is warming a third of a mile down, where seafloor methane shifts from a frozen solid to a gas.
Calculations suggest ocean warming is already releasing significant methane offshore of Alaska to Northern California.
Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10 of a mile (180 meters) depth.
Off the West Coast of the United States, methane gas is trapped in frozen layers below the seafloor. New research from the University of Washington shows that water at intermediate depths is warming enough to cause these carbon deposits to melt, releasing methane into the sediments and surrounding water.
Researchers found that water off the coast of Washington is gradually warming at a depth of 500 meters, about a third of a mile down. That is the same depth where methane transforms from a solid to a gas.
The research suggests that ocean warming could be triggering the release of a powerful greenhouse gas.
Read More of this Science Daily Report
Richard Hughes- Political Blogger
PM Steve Harper is causing irreparable damage to our environment, and international reputation. We are increasingly being seen as the’Ugly Canadians’
Steve is a crazy man and must be stopped.
A Liberal-NDP-Green Coalition -Strategic Voting or straight out blending the parties together into a new party committed to saving Canada is needed.
Indulging in partisan party illusions will only result in Harper being elected. We cannot let that happen,
Kevin Grandia is in Peru covering the United Nations climate change talks for the Vancouver Observer.
Harper calls climate regulations on oil and gas sector ‘crazy economic policy’ in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Read More about who is crazy
Here in Lima, Peru at the United Nations climate change talks, I am watching negotiators from impacted countries like the Philippines working earnestly on a new agreement to reduce global climate pollution.
At the same time, I am reading stories back home about Prime Minister Stephen Harper telling the House of Commons yesterday that regulating greenhouse gas emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector would be “crazy.”
Let’s be clear who is crazy here. A common definition of “crazy” is “a state of mind that prevents normal perception and behaviour.”
Given this definition I would suggest that it is not those who want Canada to regulate its oil and gas sector – the single largest source of carbon pollution in Canada – that are crazy, but Mr. Harper and his Conservative government.
I know, Cowichan Conversations is mostly a political Cowichan Valley based blog, However I stray away from time to time as I am doing now.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the real Elvis Presley. Sorry, the original link broke off. Thank you Sassy for sending in this one. Enjoy
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
For many of us the best days in British Columbia were when Dave Barrett formed the first NDP government in BC.
He and his fellow MLA’s accomplished more in three and a half years than any government before or since.
It felt good to know that the government was standing up for us instead of selling us out as is the case today.
BC NDP Premier Dave Barrett 1972-1975
Quotes from Premier Dave Barrett in the Legislature RE Natural
Resources and Natural Gas
We will not give anyone any money, we will not allow the wholesale sell-out of British Columbia of our resources that has been going on for 102 years. (Oct 18, 1972)
I say to all the people of British Columbia as I discuss natural gas, that as long as I’m Premier of this Province, and as long as the people of this Province have mandated us to govern their affairs, there is no way that any natural gas
company will walk away with windfall profits …. We will fight to increase the
price of gas and we will fight to see that no longer will the ordinary people
of British Columbia sell their resources to subsidize citizens in a foreign
country. (February 27, 1973)
If we couldn’t make a better deal with the resources under the ground in the Province of British Columbia than what we had been confronted with in the past, then I would prefer to see the resources stay in the ground until a generation came along that had far more sense in dealing with those resources than we have had up to this point….What distinguishes this administration from the former administration is that it says loud and clear that the price of doing business for our resources in the Province of British Columbia is: (1) a good price, not underselling — like natural gas. (September 26, 1973)
Richard Hub Hughes-Political Blogger
Vancouver was the birthplace of talk radio in Canada. Pat Burns, Jack Webster, Judy LaMarsh, Barry Clark, were headliners in the early days. Of course there were others but those come to mind off the top.
In later years Gary Bannerman, John Reynolds, Chuck Cook, Ed Murphy, and of course Rafe Mair who was one of the most durable and accomplished of them all.
Today I would say that Jon McComb is the top talker in Vancouver town.
There was a grand history that continues, but today there is far more competition and distractions from the internet, cable, a zillion channels, videos and the like.
Check out this interview with Pat Burns. I did my time behind the mike at CJOR. To begin, I filled in for Pat Burns doing three and half hours shows strictly open line- no phone calls. It was really living on the edge. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Pat had a photographic memory that was most amazing. I have never seen his equal in that regard. Any of us who worked with Pat have many stories and memories. Some of the most memorable were even true.
Good Night Dolls!
That was his trademark sign off.
BC and the LNG Myth
By: Patrick Smyth
Back in March 2014 I wrote about BC putting all of its eggs into one basket by pursuing a one track economy with its investment in LNG. Today, BC is in serious trouble.
OPEC has pretty much collapsed, and there is a free fall in the price of oil with Morgan Stanley calling for oil at $43 per barrel in Q2 of 2015.
Today Bank of America analysis summed it up on the LNG front:
Revolutionary changes sweeping the world’s energy industry will drive down the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), creating a “multi-year” glut and a much cheaper source for Europe’s gas needs.
The global market for LNG will “change drastically” in 2015, going into a “bear market” lasting years as a surge of supply from Australia compounds the global effects of the US gas saga. If the forecast is correct, the LNG flood could have powerful political effects, giving Europe a source of mass supply that can undercut pipeline gas from Russia. The EU already has enough LNG terminals to cover most of its gas needs but has not been able to use this asset as a geostrategic bargaining chip with the Kremlin because LNG has been in scarce supply, mostly diverted to Japan and Korea. Much of Europe may not need Russian gas within a couple of years.
Last week, even after gaining tax incentives and Indian treaty agreements, PETRONAS all but pulled the plug. By the way, did no one notice that the tax rate is 50% less than what was proposed?
Here is an excerpt from their press release.
PETRONAS and its partners in the Pacific NorthWest LNG project continue to review the economic viability of the project which, in a time of declining oil prices, presents challenges.
Consequently, PETRONAS and its partners have decided to defer the project’s $36 billion Final Investment Decision (FID) pending further clarity on substantive items of importance to ensure that critical project components align with economic viability of the Project and competition from other LNG producing countries.
Other companies such as Chevron are indecisive and crunching the numbers promising a decision in “middle of the decade”. Apache Corporation originally wanted to supply gas to a proposed liquefied natural gas facility in Kitimat, B.C., but pulled out of its joint venture with Chevron Corp. over the summer. Interestingly enough, Shares of Apache Corp. (APA) fell to a 52-week low of $58.23 on this week as oil prices sank to a five-year low. This is the reality of what is happening outside of the ‘soundproof’ walls in Victoria.
Revenues from LNG must be downgraded in light of the new reality of pricing and cuts in the royalty taxes. The Provincial government’s inability to understand Realpolitik is compounded by leadership promises made in the last election. Investment in oil and gas is drying up very quickly.
I struggle with the fact that no adjustments in the financial forecasts have been made regarding our economic future in British Columbia.
I struggle with a public that is too busy being happy that gasoline prices are low now while not looking a decade down the line.
I struggle with the realization that the unions haven’t figured it out.
2015 is going to be a year of back pedalling.
Patrick Smyth has a number of years experience include the building of infrastructures and management of private and public companies with a broad experience covering the fields of eCommerce, Marketing, Energy, Petroleum, Financial Accounting and Public Markets, and he has had interests of varying degrees in a number of other companies, both private and publicly traded, in the Financial Processing Industry, Telecommunications Industry, Commodities, Oil & Gas, Green Energy Technologies and Online Advertising.
Richard Hughes- Blogger
The wind and rain challenged the scheduled rally to support striking News Leader workers but it seemed to have little, if any effect.
Local citizens, trade union leaders and politicians, gathered and offered their support for the folks that put out the paper, under increasingly stressful conditions. That, thanks to their tightwad owner David Black media tycoon.
Black is trying to tighten their belts further and impose two tiered salary caps on future employees. He has refused to budge or negotiate unless the bargaining unit, represented by the powerful and progressive union UNIFOR, roll over.
David Black shows his disrespect to CNL staff and the the Cowichan Valley
Last I checked, that behaviour flies in the face of the BC Labour Code and I suppose it will not be long before UNIFOR levels charges of ’Unfair Labour Practices’ against him.
BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lazinger
Newly elected BC Federation of Labour President, Irene Lazinger braved the bumpy ferry ride to show her support and I have you tell you she is one very impressive leader with an encouraging common touch.
Cowichan NDP MLA Bill Routley, no stranger to picket lines attended as did Duncan Councillor Michelle Staples.
MP Jean Crowder was out of town but was represented by her assistant Yani Stratemeyer Trinczek .
New Democrat hopefuls seeking the NDP federal nomination to run in the next election, Ellen Oxman, Georgia Collins and Hilary Abbott participated in the show of support.
Cowichan NDP MLA Bill Routley Supporting CNL Strikers
Cowichan District Teacher’s Association President Naomi Nillson along with Chris Rolls President of the Lake Cowichan Teacher’s Association joined in along with the others pledging their support.
Striking reporters Peter Rusland, Don Bodger and columnist Anne Anderson were donning their ‘On Strike signs’ leaving the reporting to CTV reporters.
A somewhat unusual circumstance saw competitor Andrea Rondeau, Cowichan Citizen editor in attendance reporting on the strike.
Citizen publisher Shirley Skolos advised me that negotiations are underway with her unionized employees. The fact that they are actually negotiating is a more promising situation that the News Leader workers are experiencing.
Don Maroc-Peter Rusland-Ellen Oxman
Peter Rusland and Georgia Collins
UNIFOR arranged for a heated trailer for the strikers to meet in. Coffee included.
Management has produced one paper so far. It was very thin on content but fat with flyers.
If you wish to support, boycott any business that advertises during the strike after December 11th.
You can also drop by the picket line to show that you are behind the staff and let them know that they are not forgotten.
Please pass on any information, tips etc firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together we can do our best to keep readers up to date as much as is possible.
Georgia Collins and Richard Hughes
Richard Hughes-Political Blogger
A ‘Support Rally’ backing Cowichan News Leader striking employees, members of Unifor, will be held Monday 2PM at the News Leader offices.
The BC Fed’s newly elected President Irene Lazinger will headline the rally showing the significance of this showdown between a determined tight fisted David Black and the union movement.
Striking Cowichan News Reporter Peter Rusland is calling out to valley supporters to join in and help them register the communities support for the striking staff.
BC Fed President Irene Lazinger supporting News Leader Strikers
Black throws nickels around like manhole covers and is attempting to roll the clock back and hammer local staff into a miserable contract that he can use as a template for his Black Press mainland operations.
Word has it that NDP MP Jean Crowder and Cowichan MLA Bill Routley will be front and centre as will a number of other labour leaders and trade unionist supporters as well.
Peter Rusland-Come on Down to the Rally!
News Leader staff have endured deteriorating working conditions over the last few years and are not prepared to continue.
Black’s disregard for staff was made abundantly clear when they fired their top notch reporter Krista Siefken (see story) a couple of years back and left their newsroom stripped to the bone.
Reporter Krista Siefken Fired By David Black!
Unifor has a war chest ready to fund the strike for as long as it takes.
My sense is that the media landscape will be unalterably changed before the dust settles.
Black’s commitment is to the dollar first. It would not be much of a stretch to see him shut down the paper and leave town permanently leaving the Citizen as the sole Duncan based paper.
Nature abhors a vacuum and if Black pulls out then it will not be long before new entrants enter the field.
If that happens it would be preferable to see a locally owned newspaper set up shop. The corporate out of town ownership control of both the News Leader and the Cowichan Citizen leaves a lot to be desired.
Climate Change, Greenhouses Gases, Global Warming, Wind Power, Solar these subjects are being discussed or touched upon pretty much on a daily basis.
Peter Nix, Don Skerik and others are doing something positive about it. They have been installing solar panels throughout Cowichan and it is catching on big time. It makes sense especially with the option of local government participation.
Readers will be hearing from Don Maroc soon as he is in the process of having Solar Panels installed on his home. It is exciting stuff.
Here is an encouraging ‘Guest Post’ from Peter Nix who walks the walk.
By Peter Nix
Cowichan Carbon Buster
I see a green tidal wave of good news for Cowichan in the struggle against climate change – and hey, it’s about time.
The CVRD has more “green” political representation after recent municipal elections – new people like Sonia Furstenau in Shawnigan lake, Rob Douglas in North Cowichan and Kerry Davis in Mill Bay.
Even in Ottawa, Senators are discussing the need to act on climate change – this while our Prime Minister received an embarrassing verbal scolding from the United Nations Secretary-General for his appalling failure to act on climate change. One Senate speaker compared climate-related catastrophic weather events with water flowing downhill; we may not know the exact route, but it always ends up at the bottom of the hill.
The American Society of Science has warned that our social infrastructure will be destroyed by storms caused by climate change. And the high cost of repairing this storm damage will reduce government’s ability to fund normal services like medical care, road maintenance, garbage collection, and so on.
Don Skerik & Peter Nix preparing to install solar panels
So most governments know they must act. Locally, one action our green politicians should consider is to provide financial incentives, such as zero-interest loans, to encourage home-owners to install solar panels and make their own electrical energy. This will be easy for them to do politically, since solar panels installed on our roof tops will return a profit which could be given back to the municipality until the loan is paid off.
For myself, I plan to transfer pension money into the creation of a solar “farm”. Viridian Energy Co-op and Alternative Electric, both local companies, will be installing 192 solar panels on my property in February. I will sell electricity to BC Hydro and earn a profit – increasing from 4 to 8 percent over 25 years.
BC Hydro tells me that Cowichan is lighting up their map of BC with solar energy – we are a hot spot for solar panel installations. If you are interested in a bulk buy, contact email@example.com.
In my opinion, my solar farm is a better investment for my old age than shares in an unpredictable stock market. And if the municipality sees profits from my pilot project, they then could form a much larger publically-owned solar energy utility that would make money and reduce our taxes.
Importantly, if citizens start making renewable energy for a profit, they will also then see the advantage of using electricity to power their new electric cars. Using electric cars will reduce the amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere big time – almost 80% of greenhouse gases in Cowichan come from our cars and trucks.
This combination of locally produced solar energy and gas-less electric cars could start a real green tidal wave – saving us money on car maintenance and fuel costs, lowering our utility bills, and reducing our collective carbon emissions.
Remember, severe weather events will only worsen if we do not reduce our carbon emissions…..as surely as water runs downhill. So both individuals and politicians need to act.
Solar power is a win for our bank accounts, a win for local jobs, and a win for our planet.
Peter Nix, Cowichan Carbon Buster
Maple Bay, BC
Rafe has always been hesitant to be a ‘Horgan Booster’ and God knows I tried over the years.
OK, I give up, our challenges today are way beyond narrow partisan ask no questions politics. This latest LNG sell out spells the end of relevance for the BC NDP.
I suppose it’s not unusual for an electorate to feel swindled. It sure as hell happens often enough.
The BC electorate has every right to feel swindled in the election of 2013 by the Christy Clark government’s solemn promise to make us all wealthy through LNG plants.
This was a very specific promise and even went as far as promising a “prosperity fund” of $100 billion, plus all of our provincial debt soon paid off. This was crap, they knew it, we fell for it.
Now, for God’s sake, the NDP opposition has joined in the swindle at a time when the Liberals, now that their promises cannot possibly be fulfilled, are frantically looking for a way out for the 2017 election.
NDP support comes as LNG industry falls apart.
It’s incomprehensible that the John Horgan opposition would support the Liberals on their LNG endeavours, particularly since Petronas has all but admitted defeat, and they are supposed to be the first out of the box!
What’s even more distressing for those who want LNG plans as soon as possible and as many as possible, is the statement by Petronas that nothing will be going until the end of the decade (which is three years after the next election). Even more troubling for LNG lovers is experts like Bloomberg suggesting that Canada’s LNG industry is highly vulnerable to intense global competition.
It’s really difficult to see just how the campaign promises for 2017 are going to shape up.
The Liberals, like Mr. Micawber, are hoping “something will turn up”.
What is the NDP’s plan for BC?
There has been nothing from Mr. Horgan or the NDP to suggest that they have a new plan for BC. That may come, but it’s pretty late to start setting the stage for an unknown program to be their campaign 2 1/2 years from now.
As it now stands, we have the Liberals looking for a way to avoid dealing with LNG in 2017, with the NDP, not caught in the Liberals’ trap but one of their own making, really not knowing what the hell to do. At least the NDP have plenty of experience in that regard.
It is a new world out there, something that the media has not cottoned onto and, apparently, something that has escaped the notice of Premier Clark and opposition leader Horgan.
Public hungers for environmental leadership
The public are in a strong environmentalist mood. The municipal elections in November demonstrated that but, I think more importantly, the comments to The Common Sense Canadian and The Tyee demonstrate that there is a hard-core, and growing opposition to pipelines, LNG plants and the like which is much different than the cries of years gone by.
There is no doubt that the public’s appetite for preserving our environment got a great boost back in the days of Clayoquot Sound and before, but these things take time to mature and in my belief the environmentalism of the public has reached new heights and more is yet to come.
I don’t for a moment think that the public is against all development or anything of the sort. This is why the “right” has so much trouble dealing with the issue. They can’t think beyond their political philosophy that whatever is dug, cut down, mined, drilled, or transported must be good and those who ever, even for a moment, oppose those things must be evil. For the “right”, unrestrained capitalism is a religious tenet and non-believers deserve contempt.
Citizens fed up with being ignored by politicians, media
Rafe: Critics of Burnaby Mountain citizens are out of touch with public will for change
84 year-old retried librarian Barbara Grant getting arrested at Burnaby Mountain (Burnaby Mountain Updates/facebook)
In fact, a growing number of citizens don’t see the mindless greed of industry and their bought-off governments as their salvation. Moreover, more and more voters are pissed off at not being consulted and not having their views represented by their politicians.
The media’s mindless and dedicated adherence to the desires of big business make them not only unbelievable, and all but devoid of influence, but damn near unreadable to boot.
When ordinary, decent, British Columbians see their fellow citizens threatened with jail because they want to preserve their parks and neighbourhoods, they’re disgusted.
In a way, it all rather goes back to Lincoln’s aphorism:
You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
One might respectfully add to that, once the people know that they have been fooled, they get very cross indeed.
Reform is coming
The political systems, federal and provincial, make it very difficult for parties of protest, such as the Green Party, to make headway. The present system suits party lines and party discipline, not individual thinking and representation of the voter. 2017 will be, however, a time when the Green Party will demonstrate whether, even under a lousy system, they can gain public support. It will be, for them, a watershed election.
There will be reform both of the system and the way we are governed. That may take time, although what needs to be done is pretty obvious to most of us.
No matter how big a majority a government has, it can’t govern if the people don’t support it. The public will continue to protest environmental degradation of which they do not approve. That the traditional parties don’t understand that means only that it’s going to take the people a little longer to make their views materialize in reform.
Be all of that as it may, reform is coming, sooner or later, and you can make book on that.
The NDP has blown it. I really think that they have lost their way. They ignore their supporters and constantly seek validation from their opponents.
The entire caucus was instructed to support this without debate, and they bloody well did.
It looks like the BC Liberal–BCNDP coalition has been formalized and consummated.
by Don Maroc
Last Wednesday, at the Cowichan Community Centre, Isobel Mackenzie, newly appointed Seniors Advocate for B.C., spent two hours listening to the concerns of about 50 seniors and explaining the functions of her new office.
The following day a committee of the Cowichan Elder Care Co-operative met to begin to hammer out stategic details for opening their operation this coming spring or summer.
The Advocate’s responsibility is officially “to examine and analyze the current state of seniors’ services … including health care, transportation, housing and income supports.”
The Elder Care Co-op’s purpose is broadly stated by the group’s motto, Seniors Helping Seniors. A successful result of that help will be seniors being able to age securely and comfortably in their own homes.
The two organizations are complementary, not in competition. Ms. Mackenzie’s office does not respond to individual problems. It is her business to examine and monitor the many government programs set up to aid senior citizens. If the programs are inadequate or unresponsive, understaffed or underfunded it is her job to pressure the provincial government to correct the problems.
It is still much too early in the program to know if the government really wants to improve services for seniors and will take action when prompted by Mackenzie, or if they mean the Advocate’s office to soak up the many complaints due to underfunding or perhaps even take the blame for ineffective service delivery.
Mackenzie has already heard many complaints from seniors being pushed out of their homes because of simple repairs and maintenance. Other seniors need assistance with simple household chores like snow shoveling and chopping firewood. Isolated seniors find the lack of, or inadequate, transportation forces them to have to leave their homes.
These are the areas where the Advocate and the Elder Co-op can dovetail in the delivery of services that can give people just the help they need to stay in their own homes.
If seniors need work done by existing local contractors the Elder Co-op will arrange for the work to be done by businesses that are themselves members of the Co-op. The cost and conditions of the work will be overseen by the Co-op office, with satisfaction checked when the job is completed.
From the Co-op membership a group will be formed of women and men with life experiences to do the many jobs too small to be of interest to commercial contractors.
The Co-op’s slogan is No Job Too Small, a defective electric receptacle, replace a washer in a leaky faucet, prune a fruit tree, repair drapery torn by a playful cat, a drive to the market for food or medicine, replace a bulb in a florescent fixture, or any of a thousand tasks that have become too much for an aging couple’s ability or pocketbook.
These jobs will be done by Co-op members for modest fees, or there will be a Time Bank system in which those doing the work will receive services they need equal to the hours they work.
The Advocate’s office can aid the Elder Co-op crew by updating them on government programs for which they can deliver services funded by governments. Mackenzie can also suggest to government how its ministries can work through the Co-op to more efficiently deliver local assistance to seniors.
Finally it is the mandate of the Advocate’s office to the research and analyses to determine exactly which services are most needed and assist the Elder Care Co-op in expanding their programs where they are most needed.
Isobel Mackenzie, vastly knowledgeable, intelligent, determined, non-partisan, can be of great help to the Co-op, which is just setting its sights on what services to provide and how to delivery them. The ElderCare Co-op, in return, is organizing just the kind of locally owned and operated service provider that can fill the gaps Mackenzie finds in government’s many senior care programs.
It only costs $10 to become a Co-op member. Anyone interested in joining can contact me, Don Maroc, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or phone 250-748-2790.
December 3rd, 7 p.m., second floor of the Ingram Street Cowichan Valley Regional District offices, the Board of Directors meeting room, all seats for the public are filled, people standing along the walls and the hallway is filled with spectators. At the request of Corporate Secretary Joe Barry the 15 newly elected directors take their seats around the horseshoe shaped table. Barry begins to instruct the directors, eight of who were not on the Board last year, taking their oath of office.
Family, friends and reporters snap photos and videos as the directors and their alternates for the next four years repeat their oaths.
Jon Lefebure-elected to be CVRD Chair
That completed Barry takes his seat at the head of the table and opens nominations for the Board Chairperson for 2015. Mary Marcotte, Area G (North Oyster) Director, Lori Iannidinardo, Area D (Cowichan Bay) Director, and Jon Lefebure, Mayor of North Cowichan, are nominated.
They each make a short statement and Barry announces, with an edge of excited anticipation in his tone, that now the balloting will begin. The voting will continue until one of the candidates gets a majority of the 15 votes.
Other than the announcement of the winner, this is about as much excitement as there will be this evening. After the Chair and the Vice-Chair are selected, the new chairperson will give a brief thank you to everyone involved, then ask for a motion to adjourn and the social evening would begin.
Lori Ianidinardo elected as CVRD Vice Chair
Then KAPOW, the traditional sequence of events is shattered as Matteus Clement, newly elected director for Cobble Hill (Area C), raised his hand.
Barry smiled, nodded, and asked, “Yes Director Clement?
“I move that we be allowed to have questions for the candidates.”
Barry’s smile faded briefly but he recovered and he flipped the hot potato to the CVRD’s recently hired Administrator Brian Carruthers who felt it was not appropriate to deal with such a motion without a chair and vice chair in place
Shawnigan Lake Director Sonia Furstenau raised her hand and said in a strong, steady voice, “I second the motion.”
OH, OH. This was more than a slightly confused new director making an ill-advised move. It looks like the new directors from the southend were organized and determined before the echoes of their oaths died out.
Cobble Hill Director Matteus Clement
Veteran Director Mel Dorey from Saltair, then spoke strongly in favour of the newly elected directors questioning the candidates. He felt directors who have been on the board already knew the candidates and wouldn’t need to join in the queries.
Bob Day, new Youbou Director, thought it was a bad idea. Lori Iannidinardo thought it was a good idea. Duncan Mayor Phil Kent suggested it was too much of a challenge for the candidates to do on the fly, candidates should be told ahead of time so they could be prepared. Rob Hutchins, out-going Chairperson, wanted to briefly adjourn the meeting so the senior staff present could confer and make a judgement.
It was apparent that no one was breaking any rules, regulations or bylaws. It was not even establishing a precedent. Barry called the vote which passed easily.
Shawnigan’s Sonia Furstenau
The questions began, respectfully asked, and courteously answered.
Finally a happily smiling Barry again announced it was time for the vote, and Administrator Carruthers passed out the blank ballots. After the second round Barry proclaimed Mayor Jon Lefebure elected for his second term as Chair of the CVRD Board. He then ask for a motion to destroy the ballots so no one will ever know the totals.
Lefebure took his seat at the head of the table, briefly thanking the board members and praising retiring Chair Hutchins for his exceptional work. He then continued the traditional format and ask for a motion to adjourn the inaugural meeting.
The meeting adjourned, the politicians’ picture was taken, then they and the public enjoyed refreshments and a lot of socializing in the crowded board room. On many tongues was the realization that times had changed and an innovative and creative new CVRD Board had just been born.