2008 Draws to a Close

As we near the end of another year I thought I'd list a few things that I deem are wrong in this society.

First and foremost is the looong loooong delay we are facing in the BC Rail/ Legislature Raids case.( we just passed 5 years from the unprecedented raid on our Legislature on December 28th 2003. I so dislike adding gate to the end of anything. It only reminds me of Watergate which if some of you don't know is the name of a hotel in DC where some political shenanigans brought down a sitting US President. The issue was American not Canadian. And in that case two reporters kept digging and digging with the help of a former FBI agent to get to the bottom of things.
Sadly in this day and age in this province we have no Mainstream Media reporters, editors, or companies digging into and /or publishing what is quite possibly the biggest scandal this province or country forthat matter has ever seen.
Fortunately what we do have is a pitbull of a blogger BC Mary, a political commentator Bill Tieleman who has been the lead in this case from the start, a retired professor Robin Mathews who gives us much valuable information and a few other blogsites on the net such as myself, House of Infamy, The Gazetteer, and the unbelievable Sean Holman of Public Eye, who care enough to keep this case alive and as much in the forefront as we can.
Now, I said above that there are reporters included in the non reporting of this case but that is not quite correct. They aren't reporting through their papers, for whatever reasons, but there are other ways to report. For them we can be thankful.

The second thing on my list is the present political party in power in Victoria.
This is government that in the past two elections have promised the moon and given us a net result of nothing. And here I can't see why some of their MLA's have not crossed the floor to sit as independents or for another party.
Just a few of their broken promises are #1 I will not sell the railway. Technically they are correct here. I maintain they didn't sell it , they gave it away. And as of next year we aren't going to own any of it. Squat. Nada. Just watch.
Thirdly they promised 5000 long term health care beds for seniors in BC. This has not happened.
Then they were going to erase homelessness and they made a big deal of buying up slum hotels only to put this on the back burner. I maintain that they are going to sweep the homeless from Vancouver out to the interior and develop the hotels for profit during the 2010 Olympics. That to me is the only thing that makes sense of how this is being handled. The new Mayor of Vancouver is the only one to actually jump started the erasing of the homeless problem.
They were going to have open cabinet meetings and that fizzled when they figured it may cause them grief.
The biggest joke was that they were going to have a sustainable forestry program. What a farce. Try telling the unemployed loggers and millworkers in BC that it's working.
And they were going to eliminate government funded advertising. I've written before on the blatant advertisement showcasing their money giveaways. And now I've seen a new one. They just had to start the new add with the Fast ferry problem. Funny I don't see any mention there of the 500 million dollar cost overrun for the convention center that I believe is closer to a billion dollars. Or the present problems with the new ferries.
Finally for this post I want to mention the minimum wage. People in this province are making $6.50 an hour. I was making that wage back when gas cost twenty-five cents a gallon. My auto insurance was 24 dollars a year.
These people are on what is called a training wage. So for six months they get this amount. And there is nothing in the labour code to stop companies from letting them go at the end of that time. The code has been gutted. As has much of the other legislation that protected workers.
It wouldn't be so bad if Gordon Campbell hadn't refused that increase then with a straight face voted himself the golden egg. Along with his cronies.
I will never be able to comprehend how out of touch this man is with his fellow human beings. He lacks any compassion whatsoever.

The list is so vast it boggles the mind. Everything seems to be on hold till after the next election.
And his spin doctors have seized on another spin. They say (and of course he agrees) that he is the most qualified to handle the economy. Handle it for who? The corporate welfare bums? I think not. What he is actually doing is telling us to vote for him so he can further hide the mess he has created for this province. You see if someone else forms a government I believe that this man will go to jail. (unless of course he takes a lesson from Bush and votes himself a pardon.)

I want ot take this opportunity to wish my friends and even those who are not so friendly a happy and prosperous 2009. And I think the only way you are going to prosper is to vote for anyone other than the BC liberals. Gary E

More charges for CN

A recent article in the Vancouver Sun caught my attention. This type of corporate behavior is pathetic to say the least. Is there no one person in government who will stand up and say enough is enough? Or are our elected and porkbarrelled (sorry, appointed or annointed) so afraid of losing something (like status or money) that they shiver in their boots at the thought of standing up for those who elected them.?

CN charged with dangerous goods transport violations

Scott Simpson, Vancouver Sun
Published:Â Thursday, December 18, 2008

Canadian National Railway is facing a series of charges arising from movement of dangerous goods after it failed to heed a Transport Canada order to properly track of the cargo it was moving through Metro Vancouver.

Transport Canada said Wednesday it has filed seven charges against CN, including one violation of the Railway Safety Act and six under Transportation of Dangerous Goods. {snip}

CN also faces six charges for failure to prepare and carry accurate information while transporting railway vehicles containing dangerous goods.{snip}

"The matter is before the courts. CN doesn't have any further comment," said CN spokesperson Kelly Svendsen. {snip}

(does this company take its' direction from the BC Provincial Liberals...Gary E)

"The railway safety inspector issued a notice and order to them on July 12, 2007," Glover said. "The inspection unveiled numerous instances of incorrect listing of all railway cars in a train while handling dangerous commodities.

"Subsequent inspections revealed that there were still some trains operating on the main line with inaccurate train listings.

"That happened on December 8. As of last week we decided to take enforcement action."

Earlier this year, a parliamentary committee stated in a report to the House of Commons that a "culture of fear" at CN makes it difficult for employees to report safety violations at the railway.

Railway employees told the standing committee on transport, comprised of federal members of parliament, that they found it difficult to maintain a safety culture at the railway because they feared reprisals and disciplinary action if they voiced concerns.

The committee gave CN a failing grade, one out of five, for its failure to implement safety management standards that had been introduced in 2001.

(and this is called profit at the expense of lives....Gary E)

In August 2007 Environment Canada laid five charges against CN in connection with a 2005 toxic chemical spill that wiped out fish in the Cheakamus River near Squamish

(I can't put my finger on it exactly but this type of corporate behavior tells me that any company that acts in this way is arogant and is pretty sure that it will get away with these actions. Why else would they repeat the actions that they have been cited for?...Gary E)


Merry Christmas To All

Many of you know I am not very religious. In fact if you are categorizing I could be known as an agnostic.
I received the following in an e-mail from a friend and thought I would share it with you all.


The following is an actual question and answer given on a chemistry mid term exam at the University of Washington.

The answer by one student was so 'profound' that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.
< /P>

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct.......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'



The ALR and Muzzling Scientists

...isn't the alleged betrayal of the Agricultural Land Reserve Act something of vital concern to the B.C. public? Just like BC Rail? Why shouldn't the public know how the A.L.R. issues are unraveling? BC Mary, The Legislature Raids

Yes Mary it certainly is of vital concern. More than 40 years ago Joni Mitchell wote the following lines in "Big Yellow Taxi" Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

The following is from an e-mail I received from Wendy Holm. It certainly fits what BC Mary is asking.

By Andrew MacLeod
Published: October 30, 2008

Some of B.C.'s top farm scientists charge they are being "slapped down" for speaking against agricultural land being paved.

A group of nine senior agrologists are writing to their colleagues to protest how the body that regulates their profession censured a member who urged a mayor and council to use caution when removing land from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

"It's muzzling," said Wendy Holm, a member of the group and a past president of the B.C. Institute of Agrology. "There are agrologists standing up for the public interest with the preservation of the Agricultural Land Reserve and they're being slapped down."

The decision, made last year, has left many agrologists wondering what they can and can't say in public about farmland being converted to housing developments. It comes at a time when there is heavy pressure to remove land from the ALR, especially in the more populated southern regions of the province.

And while some agrologists make a very good living providing the opinions that allow land to be removed from the 35-year-old reserve, others are fighting what they see as the silencing of a colleague. "It can be cast as a dispute between professionals, but it's way beyond that," said Holm.

The agrologists signing the letter are Holm, Ron Bertrand, Richard Bocking, Larry Bomford, Art Bomke, Arthur Hadland, Niels Holbek, Gary Runka and Dave Sands. Three of them are past presidents of the BCIA. Seven have been named Agrologist of the Year. On average they've been BCIA members for 35 years.
"These are the lions of the profession, if you will," said Holm. "We are not prepared to let this go. That's what being a professional is all about.

The disciplining was a "grave injustice," they wrote. "We feel the nature of this injustice has overarching and extremely negative implications for professionalism, community interests and public policy, [so] we are not prepared to step back from this matter until it is resolved."

The seed of an offence

The complaint stems from the disciplining last year of Susan Ames, an agrologist who wrote to Delta Mayor Lois Jackson and the city's council regarding a proposed withdrawal of land from the ALR. In a two-page letter dated July 26, 2007, Ames wrote about the planned redevelopment of the Tsawwassen Golf and Country Club, urging Jackson and the council to use caution making their zoning decision.

At the time, Ames was the president of the BCIA, though she did not identify herself as such. She wrote as a soils specialist and agrologist with 20 years experience, who the Tsawwassen Homeowners Association had asked to look at two soil reports being presented for the area.

"It is reported in both soil reports, that the construction of the current golf course has apparently degraded at least some of the land for agricultural use such that it has been deemed as having little or no suitability for agricultural use," she wrote. "It seems that based on this apparent degradation for agricultural use, there is a request to exclude a part of it for a housing development and to compensate for the loss of golf course land to housing, the plan is to convert more land within the ALR into more golf course land."

Allowing farmland to be turned into golf courses and golf courses to be turned into housing would send a clear message to developers, she said: "That land within the ALR can be excluded for residential development. This would encourage speculation and put further pressure on the ALR."

She suggested the best use of the land would be to continue using it as a golf course since "damage to much of its agricultural potential has apparently already been done, at least to a part of it, according to both reports."

She did not contradict the soil reports her colleagues had submitted, but she did suggest the mayor and council should be careful in how they interpreted what they were told.
A complaint takes root

One of the agrologists working for the developer complained to the BCIA, and the organization's conduct and discipline committee investigated.

The committee does not publicly report on its findings, at least not naming disciplined members, but in a February 2008 BCIA newsletter, both the president who replaced Ames, Keith Duhaime, and the chair of the conduct and discipline committee, Bob Holtby, wrote about what they described as a fall 2007 complaint.

The committee's decision establishes when an agrologist can offer an opinion, Holtby wrote. "In short, an agrologist may not offer an opinion unless he or she has done the work or the work has been completed under his or her direct supervision."

Duhaime wrote that "our first duty is to carry out a critical review of the scientific evidence before offering up an opinion."

"It is all too easy to let passion get ahead of reason," he added. "As a self-regulating profession entrusted with the public interest, we must also be prepared to challenge our fellow professionals when this happens."

The ruling misinterprets how the BCIA's code of ethics was intended, according to a summary of Richard Bocking's remarks to the Institute's 2008 AGM. "Our province and our world are faced with pressing issues, with food, agriculture, and water among the most serious," wrote Bocking, a member of the organization for 44 years. "The public has a right to expect agrologists to offer considered opinions that are based on their education, experience, and knowledge of the issues involved.

"To suggest that an agrologist cannot offer an opinion on the validity of protecting agricultural land, for instance, without actually taking soil samples on a particular plot is ludicrous."
Bitter fruit

While the public loses the chance to hear the thinking of agrologists like Ames, the ruling allows the agrologists who offer reports that help land owners and developers remove land from the ALR to do their work without fear of being publicly contradicted by a colleague.

As it happens, the chair of the conduct and discipline committee himself, Bob Holtby, has provided the opinions that have helped get several parcels of land removed from the ALR.

Holm said, "I think it is fair to say that Bob Holtby... has apparently himself been associated with more than a dozen ALR withdrawal applications in recent years."

Reached by phone, Holtby said the BCIA's bylaws don't allow him to talk about the Ames ruling, or even to confirm whether or not she was disciplined.

Speaking in general, he said when agrologists disagree with a colleague's work, the bylaws say they should first approach the person who did the work to discuss their differences. "Your professional designation does not allow you to say anything you want to say," he said. When someone criticizes, they can affect not just a colleague's reputation, but also some large projects, he added. "The dollars on the table are immense."

'The expertise I bring is farming': Holtby

Holtby can, however, talk more freely about his own work.

"Don't tell me I'm giving anybody a friendly report," he said. "I've been doing this a long time and I've been fairly careful."

He often gets called to look at land that really should be in the ALR, he said. "If there's nothing I can write to help them out, they don't do the project... If I can't write something that's useful to them, I let them buy me a coffee."

He has been involved in bringing land into the reserve in the past, he said, as well as bringing land out. "I won't deny that I have from time to time been involved in exclusions, you know, but my commentary on the exclusions still starts with the soil," he said.

But Holm points out that Holtby is writing those reports despite not being a soil specialist. His member listing on the BCIA's website says his expertise is in accounting, finance, business management and management land use.

"The expertise I bring is farming," he said. "I don't look at these things from a technical soils perspective. I look at it from the perspective of what you would use the soils for farming."

Most of his work involves looking at the Canada Land Inventory maps to see if they reflect what the land is actually like, he said. "What I'm trying to do is get a sense why the decision for inclusion or exclusion was made." In most cases the maps are accurate, he said, but in some cases they are not.

He does not do soil classification work, he said, but added that it is a factor in making recommendations. "You look at the soils, you look at the land, and then you stand back and look in a more holistic view and say, 'What would I do with this?'"

He added, "In a lot of these cases you come into a subjective judgment. That judgment, that's what I exercise."
'Defending the turf' of some who back developers?

But if decisions have such a strong subjective side, shouldn't a council like Delta's also have the opportunity to consider an opinion like Ames', offered as another way of looking at the same set of undisputed facts?

Again without talking about the specific case, Holtby allowed the bylaws have some problems, but said, "If you're going to comment on a subject property, in my view, you should go look at the property."

Holm, however, said it's telling that the complaint about Ames was made by an agrologist working for the developer. "It's defending the turf of a handful of agrologists who make a sizeable chunk of their income getting land out of the ALR," she said in an e-mail. "I think the ruling protects this lucrative turf by stopping agrologists from stepping forward in the public interest by intimidation... and by trying to establish this as a new precedent."*

That precedent comes at a time when unprecedented amounts of land are coming out of the ALR. Since 2003, when the province created six regional decision making bodies to replace one province-wide commission, there's been a net loss of 10,000 acres from the ALR in the four regions with the most development pressure: the Island, South Coast, Okanagan and Kootenay, according to Holm's analysis.

During the same period, about 7,200 acres have gone into the ALR, but it has been in the Interior and North regions, areas where the landscape and climate are not nearly as good for farming. The pattern suggests there is much more at play than just fine-tuning the ALR to make sure the land in it has good soil for farming, she said.

"You can't take land out of the reserve for economic reasons," she said. Protecting farmland is important for many reasons, she added. "We're talking about food security, food safety and food miles."
Agrologists need to be free to speak their minds, she said, and defend the ALR.

*Correction made at 11:55 a.m., Oct. 30, 2008.


Economist, Agrologist, Journalist
Agriculture. Economics. Policy. International Co-operation

phone: (604) 947-2893
email: wendy@theholmteam.ca
web: www.theholmteam.ca

Gold Award, Press Editorial, 2008 (Canadian Farm Writers Federation)
Bronze Award, Press Column, 2006 (Canadian Farm Writers Federation)
Silver Award, Press Editorial, 2004 (Canadian Farm Writers Federation)
Bronze Award, Press Editorial, 2003 (Canadian Farm Writers Federation)
Gold Award, Press Column, 2003 (Canadian Farm Writers Federation)

Double Queen's Medalist (1993, 2002)
BC Agrologist of the Year (2000)

Director, Vancity Savings Credit Union (2008 - )
Distinguished Alumni Centenary Award (2008) UBC

CODE of ETHICS: The profession of Agrology demands
integrity, competence and objectivity in the conduct of its Members
while fulfilling their professional responsibilities to the Public,
the Employer or Client, the Profession and other Agrologists.


Harpers' Letter to The Governor General September 9,2004

So,with all the denials by the NeoCons about how they never, or would never, try to depose, or attempt to depose a minority government I wonder how they explain this letter.
And all you folks out there that think the current situation is only a power grab, what do you think?
Do you think that Harper wrote the letter without telling his party? Could be, the way they are denying things.
We already know that Layton and Duceppe are part of this as they have said as much in the House.

Seems to me that Harper thinks these things are only right if he is in opposition.

No doubt by now you have heard about this letter. Mel Hurtig thought you would like to see it.
Well Mr. Hertig I not only like seeing it, I like posting it.

September 9, 2004

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1


As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government's program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.


Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe, M.P.
Leader of the Bloc Quebecois

Jack Layton, M.P.
Leader of the New Democratic Party


Chicken Little vs Mr Peepers

We have just witnessed a morphing of the Prime Minister in this country. And in my view it has the appearance of the Governor General spanking Harpers' ass.

I have absolutely no problem with the GG's decision on this matter. She has made a decision to allow cooler heads prevail. But after witnessing the way Harper treats the opposition with utter contempt I doubt very much that he will change in the long term.

For the past few days we have witnessed a revolution in our Parliament. The mainstream media appears to have lost sight of the oppositions claims of Harper not listening to them. Not consulting with them.
Which is a fundamental concept of democracy.

Lets go back to the September /October election campaign:

First Harper comes out with all the BS of how he will not carry out a hate campaign. And the first thing he does is spew his hate in the party ads.

Then he manages to squeak through the campaign without ever giving the people a concrete platform. Nothing. He has no plan to put forward to the people because he knows that the secret plan he has would not get him elected. So his plan manages to garnish him a paltry 12 more seats. Still a minority and he doesn't get it.

Now he reconvenes parliament and puts forth some sham on saving the economy. Still not conversing with the opposition. He wants to try something like wage and price controls. You remember that? That's where all wages are frozen but all prices are exempt. And to drive a nail in further he wants to bar unions from striking. A strike or the threat of one is the fundamental way unions get to keep the companies bargaining. Without that crowbar Governments and companies can do what they want. They just slap some bullshit on the table and say "sign on the dotted line". That's how the Christian Labour Movement works.

So they put forth this Mickey Mouse plan that does nothing but infuriate people and have the audacity to try and cancel the Elections Canada stipend of $1.95 per vote from the elections. The Mainstream media that I read and watched never made mention of the fact that this stipend was put in palce so our MP's would not rely on the Bribes by big business. Chicken Little says if you don't like it then vote against it. Its a confidence vote.

All hell breaks loose over that faux pas. And all of a sudden Mr. Peepers becomes a bigger pit bull than Baird. He turns to the only thing I can see him doing. He forms a coalition with the NDP. With full support from the Bloc . They tell him they are going to put forth a vote of nonconfidence in his government.

All of a sudden the bully has great fear in his face. He starts a hate and fear campaign the likes of which I have not seen in this country for my time on this earth. Even Pierres' finger was not this bad.
" The sky is falling! the sky is falling!" Cries the bully morphed into Chicken Little. We are doomed. They Made a deal with the devil. The separatists are now leveraged to break up the country. Woe is me. Woe is me.

This morphing made me laugh out loud. It reminded me of when I was a skinny older brother to 3 younger siblings ( there was four years and fifteen days between myself and the youngest) and they would get picked on. They would come home bruised and crying after being beaten by much larger boys. And nothing ever pissed me off more than a bully. Out I'd go to find them. And find them I did. Small and skinny as I was I rarely lost. I learned back in those days that if you singled out the bully and stood up to him he usuall melted.

And that is exactly what happened in Ottowa this past week. The bully melted when Mr.Peepers stood up to him. He withdrew some of the crap he was trying to force down our throats. But the coalition persisted. They'd had enough and wanted to trounce the bully. And what does the bully do. He cancels the confidence vote and runs to the Governor General to prorogue Parliament. He knew he would lose the vote. And he wants to hold on to his power as long as he can. My bet is that there will be little if any consultation with the opposition on the budget in January. At which time if the coalition holds Harper will be out.

But the drama doesn't end there. He comes out of the GG's mansion and tells us what he has accomplished. Then he starts to tell us that there must be co-operation between the parties to keep the country from being derailed financially. Jesus wept. The guy doesn't even know that he was the uncooperative one in the first place. And we have already seen the NeoCon attack adds start. Our only hope is that the population see these adds for what they really are. Fear Mongering.

We know that Stephan Dion is leaving. That's his problem. But I would suggest that the Liberals get on with a convention todayto elect a new leader before Jthe end of January and stay on Harpers ass. Dion may leave but Harper has to go as well. IMHO


Blog Glitches

It has come to my attention that the comment popup page for this site is coming up blank.

If I could ask a favor. Would anyone stopping by here please attempt to leave a comment? It would help in testing it out. Much appreciated. Gary E


Wasteful Advertising by the liberals

BC Mary had a point the other day. She was watching a Canucks game on TV and saw a commercial on BC Ferries. Unfortunately I don't have TV and rarely watch it at the outlaws. So I can't comment fully on the meat of this ad. So the question here is why are they advertising? Last time we checked there was no competition. They are a monopoly. Along with obscene raises, this only amounts to more waste.

The other day I was at the outlaws and did see a commercial. It was about "the best place on earth" and there were scenes of mega projects like the Richmond skating oval, the Bennett Bridge in Kelowna, the bridge over a canyon on the Kicking Horse River, Aerospace. You know the one. Well it ended with a statement that the ad was paid for by the province. But I didn't see the provincial logo so it confused me. I sent an e-mail to my MLA and asked him if "the province" meant that the NDP helped pay for it. Or put their stamp on it? The answer was that it was being paid for with taxpayer dollars. Not by the combined forces in the legislature. Not sanctioned by Her Majestys' Loyal Opposition. So what this tells me is that the liberals are using our money to further their own interests.

As I watched this ad I got the distinct feeling that it was geared toward giving us a fuzzy feeling for the liberals not the fact that these mega projects were costing us billions of taxpayer dollars. Not to mention the cost overruns. Which made me think "why are they advertising with a slant toward them being the benefactors, not we the taxpayer". After all it is our money that built these projects. Not the liberals'.

The people of this province and the unparalleled beautiful scenery make this province "the best place on earth".Not that ridiculous smile on the premiers face. Not the money spent on mega projects instead of being spent on the health an welfare of our children and seniors. Or the apparent reneging on the promise for a Spirit Bear Park. Or I allege the delays in proceeding with the Basi-Virk trial. Or the bailing out of a single private corporation by giving them millions to be able to have lower fares in the Christmas season. (note I said Christmas and not holiday. I can't stand a lot of the politically correct bullshit going on these days)

So where does this leave us? Well all I see is a well oiled Propaganda Machine and a premier that has to be in every photo-op going on in this province which is geared to altering the mindset of the population. Kind of like Chinese water torture. The only people in "the best place on earth" who may benefit from this Propaganda are the members of the Liberal Party of BC.

And there in lies my problem. They are using Taxpayer Dollars to advertise themselves.And that, I allege, is fraud.

Many thanks to the ever watchful BC Mary for feeding me a lead in for this post.


German Ferries vs the FastCats

The Tyee has written a article on the problems of the German built ferries. The mainstream media hasn't ,or refuses to, pick up on these problems.

While researching the fast cats a while back I found the following report at saveourferries.com

Sold for Peanuts


Kvaerner Masa Marine

The following is the introduction segment taken from a report written by Kvaerner Masa Marine on the rehabilitation of the Fast Cats...



The BC Ferry Corporation, on instruction from the BC Government, built 3 high-speed car-carrying catamarans for service between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay on Vancouver Island. This construction program was intended to stimulate shipbuilding in BC and meet the capital replacement needs of the Corporation. The vessels, however, did not meet operational requirements and have been withdrawn from service and offered for sale internationally.

This decision, however, may not be in the public or BC Ferry Corporations' best interests as the vessels could serve residents, tourists and commercial vehicle operators very efficiently for many years.

Indeed cats have many lives.

It appears than only a few options have been offered to date for the use of the catamarans.

These include:

1. Sell to a third party. This option has produced no apparent results and fair market value will not be obtained,

2. Re-power with gas turbines to realise higher speeds. This option is capital intensive and would produce even higher operating costs given the current high price of fuel,

3. Reduce speed of operation to about 22 knots and operate the vessels, with some interior modifications on the originally intended route. This alternative, apparently the BCFC's fall-back position would provide supplementary summer service for passenger vehicles only - Operational costs remain high, vessels are not optimised, but this option is preferable to the other two.

But there is a fourth and much better option, that is to give the Cats a new life. This would entail modifying the catamaran to carry all types of traffic, increase overall vehicle capacity, effect passenger space improvements and reduce operating costs. All of these can be achieved with the three new catamaran ferries.

Importantly, the private sector has indicated a strong willingness to be involved in such a plan, providing capital to purchase and lease the vessel, effect modifications and provide long-term, cost effective maintenance. From a risk management perspective, this is an exceptional opportunity for government and the BC Ferry Corporation.

It is also critically important to consider the only other alteinative available to BCFC to meet its capital replacement needs. By any standard, a passenger-vehicle ferry with capacity for 800 passengers and 250 to 300 vehicles would cost $65 to $95 million (Can.) or the Corporation could purchase or charter used tonnage world-wide, but face duty charges and high cost of conversion and maintenance of older ships. These are not good options.

Accordingly, it is our strong belief that we should use what we have, namely the three PacifiCats and, with private sector partnership, make the modifications necessary to guarantee successful operations.

The purpose of this paper is to detail that option for the new Government of British Columbia - because that option is the best option...Read the rest of the report by clicking here.

This government had an option to fix the Fast Cats but instead elected to put the BC shipbuilding industry virtually out of business by outsourcing work that could have been done here. Further they shrink wrapped these ships to leave a monument and reminder that the NDP screwed up.

What they don't tell you, is that the ferries could have been altered to conform to what was required.
What they also don't tell you, and the Ferry Corp is dancing around, is that these new ferries appear to have as many problems as the Fast Cats. So I wonder if the Government is going to give these White Elephants away? I really don't think that they know the difference between a Railway or a Ferry Fleet. Do you?

So you see by exempting the Ferry Corp from FOI we the public don't get all the story. In fact this government, I allege, has deliberately manipulated laws and legislation to suit their own ends. And that is to cover up and hide anything detrimental to their looking good in the eyes of the public.

Following BC Marys' post I took the time to look up her article. I found it in www.pej.org and with her permission I have copied and posted it below. This is a most interesting article not only on the Ferries but on events and manipulation by the Gordon Campbells liberals and the West Coast Media, as she calls it.

Fast Ferries Fine Ferries

PEJ News:
I've been reading up on the PacifiCats recently, because the West Coast media got me wondering. When CanWest news declares something is terribly awful and bad ... is it? The story of British Columbia's fast Cat ferries is exciting reading, running the whole range of emotions from triumph to despair, from pride to rage to depression. Shakespeare would have seized such a dramatic theme and called his flagship stage play "PacifiCat Explorer." The king who launched these ships might have been stabbed through the heart but the villain would have caught a terrible disease and rotted a slow and painful death by the time the curtain fell.

Act 1, Scene 1. 1982, San Francisco

A conference paper is presented by Paul Hercus outlining the virtues of high-speed catamaran ferries. He describes them as:

* simple to build
* requiring standard diesel engine technology
* simple propellers
* affordable to own, operate, and travel on.

North America became the testing ground for high speed ferry, commuter, and tourist transport. Such backwaters (I'm thinking like a CanWest editor now) as Boston, New York, Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington State had tried hydrofoils, hovercrafts, the Boeing Jetfoil, the Surface Effect Craft and "Exotically-powered Monohulls" all of which were complex, experimental, unsatisfactory, and expensive, given the results achieved. But (returning to sanity) that's what happens when embarking on a new technology: innovation -> prototypes -> testing -> start over.

Scene 2.

The first Catamaran ferry in Washington State 1984 operates between Long Beach and Catalina during the Olympics, with faster crossings and good response from the public. (Although the first B.C. ferry catamaran was "North Island Princess" refitted in Burrard Dry Dock 1971 and still operating between Powell River and Texada Island.)

This U.S. vessel then went to Alaska for successful tourist service in Prince William Sound. Another catamaran operated in Puget Sound for many years between Seattle and Alderbrook Resort before being sold for operation between Oakland, Alameda and San Francisco. Another catamaran was then purchased for sightseeing around San Francisco Bay.

So Act 1 establishes that the high-speed catamaran was not only accepted world-wide but had become a craze because of its simplified technology. Customers were lining up for shipyards capable of building them. British Columbia was ideally situated.

Act 2:

Fjellstrand, one of the first new overseas designs to sell, inaugurated Clipper Navigation's service between Seattle and Victoria. At this point in the report, "Fifteen years of fast ferries in North America," it shows the basis for B.C.'s decision to enter this proven industry and it was good. Former Social Credit cabinet minister Sam Bawlf participated in these talks to convince Premier Glen Clark to undertake the project to build 3 new high speed catamarans in B.C.

Other catamarans had begun service in Hawaii, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, as troop transport in the Marshall Islands, on the Great Lakes, and one fast ferry which docked at the foot of Wall Street in New York. The king's decision seemed wise as well as good. [Applause, applause.]

There was a set-back, however, before B.C. ferries entered the scene. 1987 brought a Wall Street crash which was felt world-wide.

As interest rates rose, businesses stopped investing in new projects. This didn't affect the fast Ferry industry until 1990 when aluminum prices began to rise, and wash problems were being documented in Rich Passage, between Seattle and Bremerton. Mono-hulls produced even greater wash. But Washington State ferries kept testing and found that their two fast Cats with longer, more slender hulls produced much less wash.

However, that process of testing took several years, so orders were held up for that reason. Setbacks are inevitable in a new technology but the outlines of a coming Shakespearean tragedy are forming ... not in the technology ... but in the sidewalk superintendents who saw that propaganda could be harvested from the delays. Pride could be turned to impatience and impatience into anger.

Act 3. 1994. West Coast ports

A new boom in fast ferries begins and U.S.A. is looking for new vessels. British Columbia's N.D.P. government takes the giant step forward and calls for "Expressions of interest" from marine designers around the world.

B.C.'s expressed aim is written in: "To put together the best possible team to design and construct a car- and passenger-carrying ferry system which would bring the greatest economical benefit not only to B.C. ferries but to B.C. as a whole."

BC. ferries received 22 proposals, 14 of which were for catamarans. They chose the one best suited and granted the design contract to International Catamaran (Incat) of Sydney, Australia and to Canadian naval architects Robert Allan Ltd., in December 1994.

British Columbia was nicely placed for a booming market ... which, by 1998, would see a virtual explosion of fast Cat building.

Act 4, Scene 1. Vancouver, B.C.

PacifiCats, as they were now called, were being watched closely, for two particular reasons (as well as a secretive 3rd reason).

* B.C. wanted to train its own skilled workforce,
* B.C. wanted to build its own aluminum facility.

Although very few citizens could have foreseen, at the time, how this tragedy would unfold, there were also:

* powerful people in British Columbia who wanted the fast Cat project to fail. The propaganda value of an N.D.P. failure could guarantee their hopes for a change of government.

Our first clue (how Shakespeare would have ridiculed such a low ambition!) was the name the nay-sayers chose. These beautiful B.C.-built ships were to become known, the rascals hoped, as the Fast Ferry Fiasco. F.F.F. Any fool could remember that tag.

Act 4, Scene 2.

"All expectations were met" when the first PacifiCat Explorer was launched in 1998. By the time PacifiCat Discovery was launched in 1999, and PacifiCat Voyager in 2000, the cost for all 3 ships had gone from the expected $250 million to $450 million and that was their cue, "WASTED MILLIONS"! The media went mad.

"Extreme public scrutiny" dogged every move. But others pointed out (to no avail) that the simple cost of having trained those workers in regular classrooms would have equaled this price. The B.C. media didn't want to know. The eastern media didn't care.

"... the revitalized [B.C.] shipbuilding industry should feel particularly proud of their achievements," concluded the 15-page report by Ben Hercus. "The future of fast ferries in North America could, at last, be considered safe and secure" as, by 1998, 27% of the world's 59 fast Cats had been built in North America. And B.C. shipyards were now ready to build more.

Was the Fast Ferries project a success? Yes. Was it an abject failure? Well, yes, too, as it fed into the unscrupulous need to find fault for political benefit.

So in 1999, Premier Glen Clark called in the largest independent naval architecture consulting firm in North America to do a technical assessment of the design and construction quality of the 3 PacifiCats. That ought to have silenced the nay-sayers, when John J. McMullen Associates Inc. reported that "the vessels are fine ships ... of good quality throughout." But by then, nobody could hear a thing. And besides, it appeared as a small item buried deep inside the newspapers.

To this day, there are many people who remain convinced by the barrage of negative publicity. And who can blame them, for that's what they saw in their daily newspapers.

Soon, a Clark family back porch would overtake the front pages and as more invective was heaped upon NDP Premier Clark, he resigned. Of course, it was eventually proven that there was nothing wrong with Glen Clark's back porch, but this took months to prove that the Guilty was Not Guilty.

Meantime, Gordon Campbell had been busy. His Socred/Liberals romped to an easy triumph in the 2001 election. No report surfaced of the $1.4 Billion surplus -- the biggest in B.C. history -- which was left by the defeated New Democrats. The new Liberal government's reign began with the biggest lie of all: that they had inherited such a financial mess that only they could save B.C.

If this really had been a Shakespeare play, the stage now would darken as the exhausted king collapses on the floor with a dagger in his back; in the background, there would be a shipyard in flames. The villain, in a smooth business suit, would swagger to centre stage to take the throne as the curtain slowly lowered. But the way he slump over, clutching his heart, is telling us that he is already infected by a terrible disease of his own making.

The end.

Many British Columbians simply couldn't believe that anyone would deliberately set out on a campaign of falsehoods to wipe out a government which they had voted into power. Nobody could imagine British Columbian leaders actually destroying a proud B.C. industry.

The truth only began to dawn when the PacifiCats were put up for sale. The barrage of insults intensified.

Who would buy a used car with the town screaming that it was a "fiasco"? Who could risk using the fast cats as public ferries if they had been denounced as terrible ships?

Even as scrap metal, the 3 ships were worth $60 million. But in the end, with no other buyers daring to show up, the 3 beautiful PacifiCats sold to the Washington Marine Group for $17 million. For an extra $3 million, WMG got all the spare parts and the shipyard too.

All three PacifiCats are still docked there in North Vancouver, where they are lovingly maintained. One unsubstantiated rumour says that they will return to service between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, in direct competition with B.C. Ferries.

British Columbia had one more hard lesson to learn when the Oligarchy simply stopped being subtle.

When new ships were needed for the B.C. ferries fleet, no contracts went to our own "revitalized shipbuilding industry" -- which had built the beautiful big B.C. super-ferries "Spirit" ships, the sparky little Queen of Cumberland -- in fact, 33 of the 35 ships of the B.C. Ferries fleet -- as well as the PacifiCats. Nor were B.C. shipyards invited to tender a bid. This was the final measure of what had been done to the shipbuilding industry in B.C.

The Gordon Campbell government gave the contracts to a German shipyard which ... incidentally ... wasn't capable of building our new ships. Only by making their employees take a cut in wages they were able to re-fit their shipyard.

Shakespeare would have discarded such a hopeless ending as illogical. British Columbia had committed no crime, no outrage, no genocide, to have made us deserving of such mythic punishment. All we did was to vote in two New Democratic governments. Legally. Democratically. But that was it, wasn't it? The people wanted more say, in a kinder gentler government.

A commentor on The Tyee wrote: "the FastCats were not so much a victim of objective technological or product development issues, as they were the politics of the day, and the particular atmosphere of hysteria generated by Fiberal and partisan Big Media interests. The hysteria was carried to such a level that it even over-rode the making of a prudent business decision, and the good sense and self-interest even of the public. It was a demonstration of the power of media to shape public opinion, more than it was a poor business decision by the NDP."

If only Gordon Campbell's group trusted the people and had co-operated, there would have been a very happy ending in B.C. And I wouldn't be thinking that the West Coast media's performance was almost criminal.

So I certainly don't think the fast ferries project was terribly awful ... or at all bad. In fact, I think it just barely, tragically, missed being spectacular.

copied here from http://www.pej.org and posted with permission from BC Mary


Gordon Campbell and BC Liberal MLA's

Just Who The Hell Do You Think You Are

I have just heard a newscast that has upset me and made me as mad as I have ever been.

From CFJC News. Kamloops
November, 10, 2008

Tomorrow is November 11,2008. Remembrance Day in Canada. A day in which we honor members of the armed forces that have fallen or been wounded or even served in two world wars, the Korean conflict and these days in Afghanistan. Over 110,000 men and women. These members gave their lives in these conflicts so that we, the people of this country and others around the world could live free and in peace. Some of the fallen were still children under the age of 18.

My own father was injured and my mothers convoy was fired upon during the Second World War. Two incidents that could well have kept me from writing this blog, but for a few inches. I myself am a veteran of the armed forces (peacetime). I was born on November 11 during the Second World War. And growing up in this province and country I have been made well aware of the sacrifices made to keep me free.

It is bad enough that you ignore the poor and homeless, or that you give yourself and your MLA's obscene raises and golden pensions. It's sickening when you change legislation after losing court battles to suit your own agenda. It's outrageous when we watch you open your mouth to say one thing only to do another. It's criminal that your government interferes in court case such as the BC Rail/ Legislature Raids, claiming in the legislature that you "can't comment on matters before the courts." Yet you will comment on other things when it suits you. And tearing up legal documents just because you don't like them. Or the way(I allege) you give welfare to your business buddies.

But now you have pissed me off. There is a movement afoot to honor fallen soldiers during the Great War from this country and EVERY province in this vast country of ours is participating. EXCEPT BRITISH COLUMBIA. The Queen is involved. But not BC. Why? because you have not seen fit to advance a god damn lousy $62,000 in order to allow us to participate. And I am speaking of Vigil 1914-1918

Have you no shame sir? Have you no shame? Just who the hell do you think you are?

I have written this in my blog rather than e-mail you or your colleagues because your past practices in my experience is not to respond in a timely manner. You wait until you think the smoke clears. So I'll just wait and see if your spin doctors post here.

Since you have seen fit to turn this embarrassment on the people of this province I now deem you unfit to govern. Resign. Damn you make me sick. All of you on the government side.


On Corporate Welfare

If any of you think that Corporations don't get a form of welfare just have a look at the following response by in the online Media, The Tyee.

An article in The Tyee on turning the tables from big business welfare to investing in the poor and unemployed produced the following from a commentor named Fiat lux. And when he posts he knows of what he speaks.

Fiat lux
8 hours ago

Rupert Murdoch's speech.......

Getting the public ready for microchip implants ?

Interesting that the world's governments have just bailed out, or at least are attempting to, the bankrupt "free market" system, to the tune of some 5 trillion, that would have put food on the table of all the starving for years to come, but their propagandists are still demanding less and smaller governments.

And, of course, our politicians are jumping to their demands.

Ed Deak.



To: sunrise
Subject: Goldman Sachs at work

Forwarded without comment,



Goldman Sachs is on course to pay its top City bankers multimillion-pound bonuses - despite asking the U.S. government for an emergency bail-out.

The struggling Wall Street bank has set aside £7billion [approximately $14 billion] for salaries and 2008 year-end bonuses, it emerged yesterday.

Each of the firm's 443 partners is on course to pocket an average Christmas bonus of more than £3million [$6 million].

The size of that pay pool comfortably dwarfs the £6.1billion [$12 billion] lifeline which the U.S. government is throwing to Goldman as part of its £430 billion bail-out.

As Washington pours money into the bank, that cash will immediately be channelled to Goldman's already well-heeled employees.


Yes, you read that right. Four hundred and forty three top executives in a firm that is receiving 6.1 billion dollars in emergency aid from American taxpayers are EACH being rewarded with THREE MILLION DOLLAR Christmas bonuses!

Another commentor writes that this could be why 300 million Americans don't get one Million dollars each. It will be very interesting to see what Barrack Obama does when he is elected the next President of the U.S.A.

the url for the herald sun is screwed up but you should be able to copy and paste it. Sorry for any inconvenience.


Two Rons get it Right

Following are two comments I thought were rather poignant on Campbells' Use of the Media and his hype to the party convention at Whistler. I pulled them from comments on an article in the mainstream media 3 weeks ago

Ron R # 1
Sat, Nov 1, 08 at 05:45 PM
Campbell gives with one hand, then taxes in another area!!! We are homeowners in Port Coquitlam and used Premier Gordon Campbell's and BC Hydro's pleas to help reduce greenhouse emissions. We have used this plea in our (and I'm sure many other households') decision to go green by installing a high efficiency gas furnace, instant electric water heater and heat pump in our residence. This has been a considerable expense on our part, using the premier's and industries' comments that we would enjoy 50 percent or more savings on our expenses for heating our home and water. These savings have now vanished! This has helped with our BC Gas bill, but BC Hydro has taken those savings away by charging a higher, Step 2 rate for most or all of the heat pump and instant water heater's usage, as our electric bill has now at least tripled due to these new appliances. We believe that BC Hydro has figured this out and is now capitalizing on this fact to now charge this Step 2 rate. We believe this unfairly penalizes consumers who have taken the step to go green not knowing that BC Hydro has changed the rates.
There is no possible way to stay under their Step 2 plan when our heat pump and instant water heater has used up the Step 1 rate alone in the September and October monthly billing times. This will only escalate as the weather gets colder, the heat pump's usage greatly increases, and we find that most or all of that usage will be at the greater, Step 2 rate.
This will help with greenhouse gases, but how does that help us, one of us a senior on a fixed disability pension budget? There will be no savings there, even with our now greater expense of paying for the heat pump, instant water heater and furnace installation.
We understand that BC Hydro has to upgrade its infrastructure (not at the expense of Private Power and an Alcan payout, along with his big business tax cuts!!!), but believe there is a better way to recoup their costs than to unfairly penalize consumers who have taken steps to address the Premier's and BC Hydro's pleas to go green.
We wish you would look at BC Hydro's plan to capitalize on consumers' green plans and seriously consider Campbell's green plan. It Will Cost You More!!!!.
I would also like to know why, in his speech on television, he forgot to mention how much of a hand out to big business was going to cost us taxpayers, even though he mentioned all the other program costs?
Another note: We have still not received the BC Government's rebates that were promised when we originally installed our furnace, instant water heater and heat pump 6 months ago, even though the Federal Government has sent their rebate.
Nice green plan, Gordon Campbell.

And then Ron#2 writes

Ron #2
Sat, Nov 1, 08 at 10:30 PM
The tax assessment relief is all blather. It won't do anything. Another smoke screen by this joke we call the Premier of our province. And to bring attacks on the NDP into his speech is blatant US politics that any Canadian worth his salt will see right through (the NDP's no better, instead of facing the facts and taking responsibility).
We'll see how the stock market helps him in his run up to the election. If the BC economy is in the dumps at election time along with the rest of North America like the predictions are, we will know he is worthless and it's just economics and nothing he did changed anything.
The man's made himself a bundle off the working man's backs and nothing but scams have followed him right from the start (raises, no answer on BC Rail, how much is this costing the taxpayer for his lawyers?) and oh yeah, how much property does he and/or his wife or buddies have on the new Sea to Sky Highway, the previously stated BC Hydro-LiveSmart scam).
The only thing that would ever change my mind about Campbell is if he pushed back his and his ministers' wages to the public sector hikes he illegally forced upon the working people that run this province and take care of our sick, instead of the 70 percent hikes they gave themselves in the last 8 years.
That, and releasing the amount of tax break money he has given to his big business buddies that he so sneakily omitted from his television speech. Those monies are surely to be 10 times more than the 20 million here, 40 million there that he was spouting in that speech...We taxpayers paid for the TV time also (Electioneering on the public purse).
Disgraceful !!!! To quote a Led Zeppelin song: "Lying, Cheatin', Hurtin', that's all you seem to do"........Yeah, Your Time Is Gonna Come, Mr. Premier......Enough said.......


Harvey Oberfeld and the MSM

I think most people in BC if not Canada know of Harvey Oberfeld. Back in the day when I watched TV Harvey was a reporter for the CTV network. I don't remember seeing him anywhere else. But he was good. Always asking the right questions, he seemed to know what was on the common peoples' mind.

Well HO has retired now but he now runs a blog . Now you might wonder why I am writing about a fellow retiree. Well here's the thing. Harvey, being a former reporter has the knowledge of the workings of the Mainstream Media. You know. That news place that in BC is about 90% owned by Global and Can West. Or Can West and Global or whatever. He knows what questions should be asked. And he sees the problems today.

Now it seems that Harvey has taken the MSM to task over (I allege) their blatant Bias use of the Electronic and print media. Biased in that they will give free air time to Premier Campbell in the midst of the Newscast but not give the opposition equal time and space to rebut.
Not only that but the Bill Good Show dedicated 6 hours (an extended show) basiclly to Campbell economic statements. Good mentions Harveys misgivings and immediately attacks the messenger.

Not only did Campbell manupilate the Corporate media, he used the Legislature Broadcast system to get his message out. Now, this may seem wrong, but they claim to have done that to cover the message on the cable networks. Fair enough. In Paul Willcocks blog Paul is reporting that Ms James will get equal time to discuss the economy. Fair enough again but the house speaker had no choice but to allow this after granting Campbell the air time.

So in Pauls' blog I asked what about the MSM? When will she get equal time and space there?

Then I read Harveys blog and saw what he has to say on this farce. I was so impressed that I had to write something here. If for no other reason than to point the few observers to Harveys' blog. It is a must read for those of you who feel we are being manipulated by the Manistream Media in this country. I certainly do.


Legislature Recalled For Nov. 20,2008

The sitting premier in the province of British Columbia manipulated the news media on Wednesday in the province to get free air time for some election stumping. Initially BCTV was not biting but when it came down to the wire they devoted at least 12 minutes to this free pre-election boondoggle. CBC was the only network to cover it only after they could get some answers.

Among other things he announced they would reduce Ferry Fares for December and January. As it turned out this move was totally unknown to the CEO of the now privatized Ferry system. So why would the Premier do that?

Well the spin doctors have been working overtime all day with every excuse in the book. But I allege that this move was only the biggest sham of the governments campaign kickoff.

So now we come to the title of this piece. Legislature recall for November 20, 2008. A recall that would have been totally unnecessary had this premier had a fall session to answer the many questions that we have for him. I am asking "why is he waiting a month?" But this sitting premier appears (in this instance) to be no fool.
Timing is everything. First, there will be a months grace in which he hopes that the smoke will clear. He's so out of touch that he doesn't realize that we the electorate are past being pissed off totally with him. They are absolutely outraged.
Second: the recall as far as I can see will only give them five days to mull over this farce. No time again to bring in proper legislation. And I will say it here now. He will invoke closure to ram it through.
Third and most important. Given the fact that the BC Ferries CEO was shut out of a process of government interference in a Private company, this was nothing but another political grandstand photo-op by this premier. Just for example, look how Ontario handled their take on what was going on in this country and around the world. The Ontario Finance Minister stood in the Legislature and delivered the bad news. Not the premier. It is the job of the provincial and federal finance ministers to deliver this news. And when they deliver it they have done their homework and give specifics not generalities like this premier.
So, the month delay, I allege is for all the pertinent ministers to scramble, make sense, and give us specifics.
No wonder he gave them big raises. But given the way he is running things I can't for the life of me figure out why he gave himself one.


Okay,we're back

No thanks to Telus

Most people don't know that I live in a semi-remote area of BC. And in doing so, I have given up some of the things that people in more populated areas such as Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George or other urban centers take for granted.
One thing has been Television. I haven't missed it. Another is Newspapers on a daily basis. I haven't missed that either.

Until this year I have been getting my water from a cistern. Rainwater. And it actually tastes better than any I ever consumed in the city or the burbs. I also use an outhouse and have wood heat.

But recently (in May) I was given the greatest gift I could think of in my (early) retirement. A Daughter.
I have another family which is all grown up and in raising them I went wrong somewhere. Two of the three grown children have gone horribly astray. I tried everything I could think of to prevent what I saw happening short of locking them up, to no avail.
So now I have been given another chance. And in doing so I found that some profound changes must occur in my daily workings. One of those changes is to increase my living space . But as winter approaches construction has stalled and we have had to move into other digs for the next 6 months. Did I mention that the area where I live is as high as the top of Grouse Mountain? And being away from the heat generated by the city we get considerably more snow. Three to five feet every year.

Another of those things is cabled internet such as Shaw or Rogers. Very fast. We don't have cable out here. We do have Wireless, but on a fixed income the cost is prohibitive. So my only option available to keep in touch with what is going on in the outside world is the internet. Through Telus. Or in other words using the phone line. The dreaded dial-up.

And I blame Telus for the incompetence in not having the phone at the new digs set up in a timely manner.

You must understand that living in a remote area you can't just call them up and have the phone put in today. Even if all they do is throw a switch. So while they were setting up the new line somebody screwed up.
A line was connected but this phone wasn't. Apparently the lines were crossed and it kept going to somebody elses answering machine. Which I found out later was a line that was apparently left open while they tried to chase the guy down for non-payment of his bill. Guess they were trying to pad the bill.
So the bride stays home all day the day the phone was to be set up. Nothing. I phoned from the construction site and from the in-laws. Kept going into this guys voice mail. Then when I get home the bride informs me that a Telus bucket truck (the one they use to repair overhead problems instead of the old fashioned way of getting exercise by climbing the pole) pulls into the driveway. The bride sees them and motions them to come to the door. She's feeding a four month old child and won't leave her. They sit there for a couple of minutes smiling while she is motioning them to come to the door. When all of a sudden they start the truck and pull out of the driveway. Gone.

So we phone the Telus Customer Service line to find out what is going on. They bucket truck it seems are not the ones who throw the switch. And I assume they don't have, or are not allowed to have any contact with the customer. All this after waiting a week for the phone to be set up. We were told that they only come to this area ONCE a week on Thursday. Okay, but we still don't have a phone that they indicated we would have that day and we have a baby that has Medical appointments. Sorry, but the next available day is in one week on Thursday.

Now I would probably have accepted this and not have written about it if it were not for one small discrepancy. I have found out they are scheduled for this area TWICE a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays. So in the largest communications company in Canada they are NOT COMMUNICATING neither with their customers nor with themselves.

Their are other things wrong here, none of which alters the nature of the complaint, but I will go into them with Telus and the CRTC. I am involving the CRTC because if they are notified then Telus will have to acknowledge the complaint. Even if they deny any wrongdoing.

I'm quite sure that if I had had a lack of communication like this in my working days, my career would have been shortened considerably. But being a little more laid back after 4 years of retirement I don't want someones job. What I do want is for the Communications company to communicate.


Get Out and Vote October 14 in Canada

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

You, the citizens of this country are the ones who will determine which party will lead us for the next few years. You are the ones who vote. All the Millions of (now Shrinking) dollars supplied to the Conservative or Liberal parties will not determine the outcome. Only your vote will count in the end.

Who are you going to vote for? It's your decision but weigh the facts. And the biggest fact is that Harper has not given us one shred of evidence that he will help you and I. He has been dodging questions from the western media. His party is consistantly a no-show in the all party forums. And if you read Harv Oberfeld's blog at Keeping it real, you will see just how bad this man is at communicating his with media.

Harvey also suggests that you might vote for the party that has the best chance at defeating the Harper dictatorship. Not a bad Idea. The party in my riding that can do this is the one I would vote for anyway.

But whomever you vote for it's your decision. It's your life.

Comments may be a day or so late due to the mess that Telus is in. More on that on or after the 16th. If they ever get their crap together.


Farmed Salmon or Cheakamus River Toxic Spill?

Sea lice killing B.C. wild salmon

D.C. Reid
Times Colonist

Thursday, September 18, 2008

So you thought fish farm sea lice problems were restricted to pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago? Not so. In fact, the problem is vastly worse than we have been told. New studies from the U.S.A., Canada and Norway indicate lice and the diseases they carry are killing all five salmon species in B.C. and also herring.

You may recall Alexandra Morton was the biologist who set off alarm bells that fish farm sea lice resulted in a healthy 150,000 annual pink run from the Broughton Archipelago being reduced to virtually nothing. She is now in court trying to get the memorandum of understanding that DFO signed with the province to carry the can declared as invalid, and thus that DFO will have to step in -- if they lose -- and we have to wait many years for them to clean up the industry.

Morton's new research has begun to reveal that the lice and disease problem is huge in B.C. Her research indicates that sockeye smolts migrating up Johnstone Strait from the Fraser River have been infected with lethal numbers of infected lice as they swim through the Campbell River area. Little wonder this year's run of Fraser sockeye was one of the poorest on record -- and the problem will continue unless we do something.


............, fish farms attract fry with a sheen of fish chow and lights at night. Young coho eat the weakened salmon fry and become infected themselves.
From 2001 to 2003, 12,000,000 farmed Atlantic salmon died in B.C. from the infectious haematopoietic necrosis epidemic. The first problem was more than 15 years ago in B.C. Even Canada's highly regarded -- and DFO's own scientist -- Dick Beamish, has published research showing that when Atlantic salmon are removed wild salmon smolts thrive.

So what could be worse?

CN Derailment in the Cheakamus River Kills Half Million Salmon and Trout

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigated this occurrence for the purpose of advancing transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

Railway Investigation ReportDerailmentCanadian NationalFreight Train A47151-05Mile 56.6, Squamish SubdivisionGaribaldi, British Columbia 05 August 2005
Report Number R05V0141

One of the findings in this disasterous spill is as follows:

TSB and the Cheekamus River Spill: Although Canadian National (CN) had prepared a Safety Integration Plan and provided informal training in DP setup and operations. However, in the absence of a formal risk assessment, CN resumed long DP train operations without adequate consideration of the value of retaining and using local knowledge and experience in the operation of long DP trains. This resulted in a lack of training and proper supervision that contributed to this derailment.


A47151-05, proceeding northward from Squamish to Lillooet, British Columbia, derailed nine cars including one load of sodium hydroxide (UN 1824), also known as caustic soda, and eight empty cars at Mile 56.6 of the Squamish Subdivision near Garibaldi, British Columbia. Approximately 40 000 litres of the caustic soda spilled into the Cheakamus River, causing extensive environmental damage. There were no injuries.


3.3 Other Findings
This occurrence was the first of four similar derailments involving long, empty DP trains that occurred on the Squamish Subdivision between 05 August and 05 December 2005. While circumstances differed, the common feature of all four derailments was derailed trains stringlined to the low rail, or inside of sharp curves. The stringlining occurred due to high lateral forces creating a high L/V ratio, wheel lift and derailment.
The multi-agency response to the incident was well coordinated and effective.

© Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada 2007 Cat. No. TU3-6/05-2E ISBN 978-0-662-46259-0

CN Rail case #49026 is back in North Vancouver Procincial Court September 24th to answer to Environmental charges as a result of this spill.


TSB and the Cheekamus River Spill

From Hansard


J. MacPhail: Let me put on record a letter from Ron East, a well-known Liberal activist in Prince George. I quote from him: "Mr. Premier, you promised you would not sell B.C. Rail, and we voted for you because we believed in you. No sooner were you elected than you started your campaign to deceive us into believing our rail company is a money-loser. Shame on you."Can the Minister of Transportation tell us why her party's own supporters are saying her government is deceiving them into believing B.C. Rail is a money-loser?

Hon. J. Reid: B.C. Rail is a vital transportation service for the north of this province. It's vital for the industries that are served by it. Transportation is one of their highest costs. We have industries from the north who take their product and put it on trucks and ship it into other provinces to put on rail. We have industries in the north of this province which have been saying that the service isn't sufficient for B.C. Rail because the cars aren't available. We have industries in the north of this province which have been complaining for many, many years that the operations of B.C. Rail are hindering their ability to be competitive.We've listened to that; we've listened to the communities that have concerns about the sustainability. We have looked at the public good that needs to be protected, which is the continued public ownership of the track, of the right-of-way and of the railbed, and we are looking for an operating partner for sustainability for long-term good for the communities and the industries of the north

Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition has a supplementary question.

J. MacPhail: One has to listen very carefully to the new message box. It's true; the Minister of Transportation today didn't call it a money-loser. She's challenging their competitiveness, though.I guess the minister hasn't seen the new document. Let me just tell the minister about this. She can say anything her spin doctors tell her to, but what they're doing is privatizing a B.C. Rail company that not only is profitable but is highly competitive.The opposition today, just this morning, obtained brand-new…


J. MacPhail: …internal B.C. Rail documents…


Mr. Speaker: Order, please, hon. members. Let us hear the question.

J. MacPhail: …showing the year-to-date financial results for B.C. Rail. The new report says that the profit margins for regional carriers remain above Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and any other class of railways, with B.C. Rail being the highest in the industry for their quarter profits and their year-to-date profits.Again to the Minister of Transportation: why is she saying that B.C. Rail is not competitive and is not efficient when, indeed, they have the highest productivity rate amongst all rail lines and they are the first rail line to have an operating margin of below 70 percent — better than any other rail company in North America? Why is she not telling that aspect of a rail line?

Hon. J. Reid: I'm very pleased the member has been able to recognize that under this government's leadership, B.C. Rail has taken a very aggressive approach on the freight rail side. We have concentrated on that part of the operation to cut the bleeding that was taking place. That was very difficult. There are still opportunities.I was in Prince George on Friday this past week, and at that time the people were saying that this needs to be sustainable in the long term. They said: "You know, we've got double shifts on the mills here. This isn't going to last. We have to make sure, with the variable trends in the forest industry and without the coal production for B.C. Rail, that we have sustainability in the long term." For that reason we're looking at the long-term picture, and we're going to make sure there is an operator there who's going to be able to run that operation for the long term.

J. MacPhail: Well, isn't the bar shifting every single time this minister's confronted with a new report about how well B.C. Rail is doing. We now know it's profitable; we now know it's competitive. She stands up with this new information and says: "Oh, but we're worried we can't sustain it." What do they do? What does this government do? A profitable, competitive publicly owned railway — and she wants to sell it off.We know that's not in her message box. According to this report that we've obtained just this morning…


Mr. Speaker: Order, please

J. MacPhail: …B.C. Rail has the highest profit margin of all regional carriers. In this year's third quarter alone B.C. Rail made a $21 million profit, and that's in American funds. In fact, they've got the highest year-to-date profits of any rail line.If the minister pushes ahead with her plans to sell B.C. Rail, British Columbians are going to lose a company that is making big profits and that is completely and most competitive. Again to the minister: given all this good news about B.C. Rail, why is she breaking a promise and selling one of North America's best-performing rail companies? Why is she breaking the promise?

Hon. J. Reid: It is a fact that B.C. Rail has a debt of over $500 million. It is a fact that that is part of….


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. J. Reid: If this member understood business, if this member understood how to read a balance sheet, if this member understood….Interjections.Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Mr. Speaker: Order, hon. members. Let us hear the answer.

Hon. J. Reid: If this member understood the necessity of being able to sustain and what that means, and what investment is required….


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. J. Reid: If this member understood anything about the economy of the north and what's going on in the forest industry right now, this member would understand what sustainability means in the long term. Taking on an operating partner for B.C. Rail is the very best move to provide that sustainability, to make sure that cars are available, to change technologies to just-in-time delivery. Once again this member thinks that government is better at running businesses, but I would suggest the customers and communities will be better served by the operating partner.

At the end of Joy MacPhail's question in Question Period the minister said the following:

Hon. J. Reid: If this member understood anything about the economy of the north and what's going on in the forest industry right now, this member would understand what sustainability means in the long term. Taking on an operating partner for B.C. Rail is the very best move to provide that sustainability, to make sure
Page 7721 ] that cars are available, to change technologies to just-in-time delivery. Once again this member thinks that government is better at running businesses, but I would suggest the customers and communities will be better served by the operating partner.

So they give away our railway and then CN, I guess, institutes the just- in- time delivery technology. They increase the length of the trains on the BC Rail line and increase speed. There are some people that worked on this railway who should have either been listened to or consulted. They were not. The result of this ignoring long term employees who were in the know resulted in some disasterous and some not so disasterous derailments along this BC Rail line.

The most disasterous, I alledge, was the derailment in the Cheakamus River at the bridge which spilled thousands (best estimates were 43,000 litres)of gallons of toxic chemicals into the river causing the death of more than a half million salmon, Eagles that feed on them, and a host of other animals and birds in the watershed. Including 2 seals downstream at the Mamquam Channel, As well as the plantlife in the riverbed. That plantlife was wiped out 100%. The TSB (Transportation Safety Board) had the following to say about this disaster :

Although Canadian National (CN) had prepared a Safety Integration Plan and provided informal training in DP setup and operations. However, in the absence of a formal risk assessment, CN resumed long DP train operations without adequate consideration of the value of retaining and using local knowledge and experience in the operation of long DP trains. This resulted in a lack of training and proper supervision that contributed to this derailment.

The TSB Report can be found here

Case #49026 is scheduled for September 24 in North Vancouver Provincial Court.


NDP not Harper are "on your side"

I said elsewhere that the first party or leader that made an issue of the price gouging by the oil companies would get my vote. Jack Layton said it in TO on September 13th 2008 and his party now has my vote. Of course there was never any doubt that I wouldn't vote Liberal or Conservative. But the Marijuana party (who have no candidates in my riding yet) and the Green Party just lost out.

“If oil companies collude on prices they’ll be prosecuted.”

TORONTO – New Democrat Leader Jack Layton told over a thousand cheering supporters today that the “George Bush era is coming to an end and so is the Stephen Harper era!”

Taking aim at price-gouging, especially the current leaps in gasoline prices at the pump, Layton said “the endless rip-offs that suck dry the budgets of working families have got to stop – and when I’m elected Prime Minister, New Democrats will stop them.”

Layton blasted Prime Minister Harper for pouring billions of dollars in tax cuts into the pockets of already-rich and powerful corporations. Layton said “As Prime Minister, when it comes to taking on gouging at the pumps, I’ll watch your back.”

“It’s time for a Prime Minister who will start building a fair, prosperous, sustainable Canada, a Prime Minister who stands up for you.”

Why Did This Happen in the First Place?

Section 5 of the BC Labour Code reads as follows:

Prohibition against dismissals, etc., for exercising employee rights

5 (1) A person must not

(a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ a person,
(b) threaten dismissal of or otherwise threaten a person,
(c) discriminate against or threaten to discriminate against a person with respect to employment or a term or condition of employment or membership in a trade union, or
(d) intimidate or coerce or impose a pecuniary or other penalty on a person,

because of a belief that the person may testify in a proceeding under this Code or because the person has made or is about to make a disclosure that may be required of the person in a proceeding under this Code or because the person has made an application, filed a complaint or otherwise exercised a right conferred by or under this Code or because the person has participated or is about to participate in a proceeding under this Code.
(2) If no collective agreement respecting a unit is in force and a complaint is filed with the board alleging that an employee in that unit has been discharged, suspended, transferred or laid off from employment or otherwise disciplined in contravention of this Code, the board must forthwith inquire into the matter and, if the complaint is not settled or withdrawn, the board must
(a) commence a hearing on the complaint within 3 days of its filing,
(b) promptly proceed with the hearing without interruption, except for any necessary adjournments, and
(c) render a decision on the complaint within 2 days of the completion of the hearing.

So why was this ever allowed to happen in the first place:

From http://www.globeandmail.com/ National Section

Migrant workers fired from B.C. greenhouse as union vote neared

September 16, 2008

VANCOUVER -- Fourteen Mexican farm workers employed at an Abbotsford greenhouse were fired from their jobs and sent back to Mexico days before a union-certification vote, the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada said yesterday.

The workers were terminated late in the day on Sept. 5, a Friday, before being driven to the airport the next day in time to catch an afternoon flight to Mexico, the union said.
On Sept. 4, the UFCW had filed an application to represent 29 employees at the company, Floralia Plant Growers Ltd.
Workers were scheduled to hold a certification vote today. (Sept 16,2008)

A woman who answered the phone at the company late yesterday afternoon said in response to questions, "I can't tell you anything" before hanging up.
The union has filed a complaint with the British Columbia Labour Relations Board and asked the board to order the company to rehire the workers and pay for their flights back to Canada, said Local 1518 spokesman Andy Neufeld.
"We are currently before the labour board on this," Mr. Neufeld said, adding that the union believes the workers were sent back to Mexico in retaliation for union activities.
Hearings are scheduled for this week. [Snip........]

A June study of B.C. farm workers by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Simon Fraser University found farm workers are routinely exposed to pesticides and other chemicals; immigrant workers are regularly transported by farm labour contractors in vans that violate safety regulations; and health and safety standards are routinely violated, for example, by employers failing to provide adequate washroom facilities or water for hand-washing.
The union said the labour board has issued summonses for Floralia workers to appear before the board and taken steps to help the employees understand their rights.

Farm workers in BC can be hired under a Federal program called the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program started in the '70's and adopted in BC because the industry said it was having trouble hiring Canadians to do the job.(Gary E)

So what's wrong with this picture? Why were these workers fired?

It will be interesting to see what the company gives as a reason. My bet is that they will say either that they were no longer needed (in the middle of harvest season) or that they were lazy (which would be more true of some young domestic workers I know of).

I didn't do too much in depth searching but I haven't been able to find this article in the local MSM. I did find it in The Tyee.
After a Google search on the three main BC papers, I found nothing on this subject.

Please let me know if you spotted this article in the local media.