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