BC government signs historic agreement to enhance trade, investment and other mutually beneficial connections.

Just about a week ago, and without much fanfare, the BC government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Peoples Republic of China, to “deepen their mutually beneficial trade, investment and cultural connections.” http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/04/china-and-bc-sign-agreement-to-increase-trade-and-investment-links.html

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by B.C. Minister of International Trade Teresa Wat and Liu Fei, Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver.

The Ministry of International Trade and the Consulate General agreed to establish a formal series of high-level dialogues and exchanges to build upon the foundation of friendly people-to-people, community and business relations that exist between British Columbia and China.

Features of the MOU include:

  • B.C. and China will seek to improve market access by exchanging information about trade and investment opportunities, and government, institutional and business sector programs and practices in each other’s markets and sectors.
  • Hosting trade and investment missions in both directions.
  • Encouraging business and investor participation in each other’s trade and investment promotion forums and matching activities.
  • Facilitating contacts and networking opportunities for British Columbian and Chinese business leaders and investors.
  • The participants will also look to promote cultural understanding and friendly people-to-people and community relations by highlighting and promoting existing and new British Columbia-China sister city and sister province relationships.
  • Collaborating on community outreach efforts to increase awareness of the importance and value of the China-Canada relationship.

The MOU identifies initial sectors for co-operation, including natural resources (natural gas, forestry, mining); agri-foods; technology, clean technology and the green economy; international education; transportation infrastructure, and tourism. The agreement will operate for a three-year period with automatic renewal. A contact person from each jurisdiction will be selected to monitor and report annually on progress.


You can read the full two page document, here: http://www.llbc.leg.bc.ca/public/pubdocs/bcdocs2014/541755/mou_british_columbia_and_the_consulate_general_of_the_people%27s_republic_of_china.pdf

Interestingly enough, the BC government also states that: “China…. is identified as a priority market in the BC Jobs Plan” ….

Let’s hope that’s not via the Harry Bloy method … http://lailayuile.com/2014/04/08/and-would-those-foreign-trained-workers-be-temporary-harry-bloy/

H/T to NVG for the heads up!! :)  As well, check back later tonight or tomorrow a.m. for a great new post involving one of my favourite BC construction companies that has many professionals asking some serious questions.

Posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, Laila Yuile, The China Connection | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

“A big thank you to our loyal readers!” ~ 24 Hours Vancouver

I was very impressed to hear the news this evening, that our little paper, 24 Hours Vancouver, is now the second most read print publication, Monday to Friday, in all of western Canada!  ( The Province is #1, 24Hrs #2, and Vancouver Sun is #3)

I am very proud to be a very small part of such an incredible team, from our editor to our publisher, our incredible reporters including Jeremy Nuttall, Michael Mui and David Ball, to our copy writers, fellow columnists and support staff.

From the story today which should be in tomorrows print edition:

“If you’re reading this, you’re part of our success.

24 hours Vancouver is now the second-most read print publication, Monday to Friday, in Western Canada with a whopping 661,300 readers picking up our newspaper weekly.

We remain the No. 1 free daily in the Vancouver marketplace, according to the Newspaper Audience Databank study — the industry standard to measure readership in Canada.

The full 2013 survey shows that each week the 24 hours print edition reaches more Metro Vancouverites aged 18-49 — which includes the coveted “age of acquisition” — than any other newspaper in the region, including those who publish six days a week.

“That’s great news for our advertisers,” said 24 hours publisher Jane Atherton, who has seen the newspaper’s combined weekly print and digital footprint vault to 675,500 under her leadership this year — up from 644,500 in 2012. “Our readers are in their prime spending years and are actively purchasing our advertisers’ products and services.”

Erica Bulman, 24 hours Editor-in-Chief, calls the newspaper the “voice of Metro Vancouver.”

“We have a tough, scrappy newsroom that’s determined to hold accountable governments and those in positions of power, to speak up for the little guy, to tell the stories that need to be told.

“We love our city. We love our readers.”

Source: 2013 NADbank Full Survey, Vancouver CMA, Print + PDF readership (NET), Adults 18+


Posted in 24 hours Vancouver The Duel, BC Politics, Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Should the government provide more funding for the CBC?

****My apologies for posting this so late: generally I post my columns first thing in the am to give readers ample time to comment and vote, but unfortunately had an early meeting schedule that prevented me from doing so!

The winner of last week’s duel on temporary foreign workers was Laila with 86%.

This week’s topic:

Should the government provide more funding for the CBC?

CBC made a shocking announcement last week that it would be cutting 657 positions and no longer be competing for professional sports rights, in an effort to address a $130-million revenue shortfall.

As Canadians digested the news of what is clearly a pivotal moment for the broadcasting company, conversations began on social media about how to save the CBC.

Growing up in a rural area just outside of Prince George, the only TV stations we had were the CBC and what was then known as BCTV. From watching Mr. Dressup and the Friendly Giant as a child, to the Nature of Things and the Fifth Estate as a teen, the CBC has played a huge role in shaping the person I am today.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

In speaking with many of my readers, it’s clear that the nation’s public broadcaster has been much more than just a broadcaster — the CBC has, in essence, been part of our families and our lives. Hockey Night in Canada wasn’t just about watching hockey, it brought families and friends together to experience the highs and lows of watching our favourite teams, win or lose. Through the CBC, we’ve watched tragedies unfold, mourned losses and celebrated successes, and connected across the country.

The CBC’s programming is rich in diversity for both television and radio and is still a mainstay in many Canadian households — in particular in rural areas. It’s a terrible irony that in an era where government is spending millions on job-creation programs, the nation’s public broadcaster is forced to cut jobs to meet this revenue shortfall. In fact, it was inevitable…

READ the rest of this weeks Duel, vote and comment at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/04/13/feds-need-better-priorities-to-preserve-vital-cbc-programming

Posted in 24 hours Vancouver The Duel, BC Politics, Federal politics, Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

**Updated : And would those “Foreign Trained Workers” be…. temporary, Harry Bloy?

They say one picture is worth a thousand words and if so, this screen shot from former MLA Harry Bloys business website tells a very interesting story.

In particular, this little gem Mr. Bloy shares, anecdotally from an employer:

” Workers from Asia have an excellent reputation of being experienced, dedicated and punctual. “We find the workers from Asia to be qualified. They come ready to work every morning and they are willing to work any extra hours. It is a pleasure to have them as part of the team,” says one of the employers”

According to Mr. Bloys business website, BC alone is facing a shortage of a million workers over the next 12 years. What makes this particularly interesting to me, is that Bloy was one of the figures involved in the Ethnic-gate scandal, and later resigned over an email he shared with the subject of a Vancouver Province news investigation.

On the ‘About’ page of Mr.Bloys business, it states the company ” brings Foreign Trained Skilled Workers from Asia to fill vacancies for Canadian companies”, in addition to a number of other services.

Of course, Mr.Bloy is no stranger to the Temporary Foreign Workers program, having participated in a Temporary Foreign Workers Roundtable event with MLA Stephanie Cadieux and former MLA Margaret MacDiarmid in Port Moody, as shown in this screenshot of a tweet from his twitter account, which is no longer available except in cached form. Inquiries to Mr. Bloy went unanswered.


H/t to a follower on twitter for the heads up. Click on the images to see a larger version.


Posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Beef up BC training programs before turning to temporary foreign workers

The winner of last week’s duel on farmland was Laila with 72%.

This week’s topic:

Should temporary foreign workers be allowed in B.C.’s LNG industry?

For a premier so committed to providing jobs for British Columbians, the irony of Christy Clark’s trip to Ottawa — liquefied natural gas industry executives in tow — in part to ensure the federal government would continue its controversial Temporary Foreign Worker Program, is stark.

It’s a bright red flag waving in the faces of all Canadians when two levels of government sign an agreement that relies on a program that is rife with blatant abuse and exploitation.

Wherever you look in B.C., you will find temporary foreign workers. They pick crops, build our transportation systems and fill jobs in remote locations. More often than not, they are significantly underpaid, bereft of benefits and exploited in working conditions regular workers wouldn’t tolerate. They rarely speak up, unless conditions are so bad or unfair that to remain silent is not an option.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Clearly, the premier didn’t do her homework when it comes to her own government’s record for skills training in this province. In 2004, the BC Liberals dismantled the Industry Training and Apprentice Commission and replaced it with the Industry Training Authority. The new authority laid off apprenticeship counsellors, put more emphasis on apprentices managing themselves, and cut funding hours for training programs, according to the Federal of Post-secondary Educators of B.C….

READ the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote at:



*** Thanks to a reader who sent this pointed cartoon along today! https://twitter.com/Johny_Canuck/status/453209113321680897/photo/1

Posted in 24 hours Vancouver The Duel, BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, Federal politics, The China Connection | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

An interesting read by Matthew Millar from the Vancouver Observer: Premier Christy Clark partnered in Enbridge Lobbying Firm

Matthew does some great work, a must follow if you don’t already.

Here is an excerpt…


B.C. Premier Christy Clark was a partner in a lobbying firm that was contracted by Enbridge and which lobbied the federal government on the company’s behalf, according to documents obtained by The Vancouver Observer. The documents on lobbying originate from 2005-2011, when Clark stepped away from politics. 

In a 2008 Confidential Government Relations Plan from Burrard Communications, Clark is listed as a partner in the company. Burrard Communications is a lobbying firm founded by Clark’s ex-husband Mark Marissen.

Burrard Communications lobbied the federal government on behalf of Enbridge Inc. starting in April 2005. The Plan stated that “Burrard worked on issues related to their Gateway Project” including “strategic communications advice and federal government relations.” 

Now, go read the remainder at this link.



Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, Enbridge, Federal politics, The China Connection, The Environment | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: New rules are alarmingly open to interpretation and political interference

The winner of last week’s duel on the port strike was Laila with 79%.

This week’s topic:

Are changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve good for British Columbia?

Despite the vast size of this amazing country, many would be surprised to learn that approximately 94% of all land across Canada is not suitable for any kind of farming. In fact, the small percentage that is suitable for agricultural use has been steadily shrinking for decades.

Even with the protection of the Agricultural Land Reserve here in B.C. that land is under threat from developers eagerly waiting for a chance to snap it up.

Last week, in a move that was condemned by the opposition along with some farmers and agricultural advocates across the province, the BC Liberal government introduced changes to the mandate of the Agricultural Land Commission that could lead to a permanent loss of farmland. Not only do the changes open the door for potential urban development on ALR land, but with it the potential for industrial or resource use as well.

Brent Stafford’s column

The changes split the ALR into two zones — Zone 1 is comprised of the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan, while Zone 2 covers the rest of the province, and nearly 90% of the land in the ALR. While the government claims little will change in Zone 1, the amendment act greatly relaxes the rules in Zone 2, in a manner alarmingly open to interpretation.

Another concern in the legislation was pointed out by independent MLA Vicki Huntington last week, which is a change to the makeup of the ALC board. The amendments would allow the government to appoint six new members without any consultation of the chair of the board, which is a current requirement to ensure the hiring is based on merit, not political patronage…


Read the rest of this weeks columns, comment and vote at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/03/30/new-rules-are-alarmingly-open-to-interpretation-and-political-interference

Posted in 24 hours Vancouver The Duel, BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

City staff recommend third reading be granted to draft Official Community Plan Monday March 31st as development continues at a breakneck pace.

City staff have now completed the corporate report Surrey council asked for following the recent public hearing of the Official Community plan (referred to as the OCP) , and are recommending that council grant third reading. http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/CR_2014-R048.pdf

While city staff acknowledged merit to many of the speakers comments and suggestions at the public hearing, regarding concerns on many aspects of the draft OCP, no significant changes have been suggested or made. This is likely to result in growing discontent in many communities represented by community associations and groups at the public hearing, as breakneck development continues to outpace school capacity, parking, street upgrades and amenities.

None of the community associations, groups and just regular residents are opposed to progress. Change is born of progress. However, one common thread being voiced by every group is that development needs to slow down in some areas, or the unintended consequences mentioned above prevent communities from being able to flourish as they should. Residents become stressed, overwhelmed and angry as they deal with impact of poor planning decisions made in recent years.

While the city has committed to focus on a few town centres in the coming years,it is this disconnected approach to rejuvenating one area at a time,that has contributed to many town centres issues. It just makes sense to develop a cohesive strategy where small but consistent changes and efforts are made in rejuvenating all the town centres at the same time, to avoid what has happened in Surrey time and time again. Communities shouldn’t have to wait years for ‘their turn’.

In response to a call from a resident in South Surrey last week who was alarmed to find some clear cutting having been completed along with new development application signs going up in a completely rural location, I took a drive out to the area to see exactly what they were talking about.

The first set of photos were taken off 168th st, just south of 24th avenue, between about 21st and 22nd ave. They show a new development site of estate homes which was nearly completely clearcut, with the exception of a few large trees along the back of the site. Hover your mouse over the photo to start the slide show.

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Further down the street is another very large acreage which has yet to be fully cleared and appears to be in the process of having trees chosen for retention.

The properties in question are currently undergoing a development proposal, with an OCP amendment from suburban to urban, and a NCP amendment to redesignate the site from a school site to medium density residential!!!

One site is proposed to have  min. 39 townhomes, the other min. 19 single small lot homes. In the middle of what is more rural and farmland than suburban in the first place. A farm with pasture sides the property, currently accessible by a single lane road.

What is most striking is the juxtaposition of having a min. 39 townhomes, and 19 small lots homes, plunked down in the middle of rural area, with a single lane for access.

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Yes, if you build it, they will come… and in the next set of photos you see the massive clearcut that occurred recently along Hwy 10, just east of King George. I also discovered another large cut of trees on a lot just off King George right below it as well, that’s quite new.

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I don’t know how where any of the children and youth who will eventually move into these particular developments will go to school, because despite having a new school in the Sullivan Heights area, all the schools are still far over capacity. Yet even in the following proposal, the city is likely to ok the increase in townhomes- it happens all the time. http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/PLR_7912-0155-00.pdf

Last, but certainly not least, a look at the now more than half empty strip mall where the Newton Bingo Hall is located. After having written extensively about this bingo hall and slots for years, I was ecstatic to hear BCLC was pulling the slots, but immediately wondered what the impact would be on the proposed redevelopment of the site, which had to be done in order to keep the slots.

Sure enough, Gateway wouldn’t commit to continuing the redevelopment, despite having given notice to several businesses in the mall -there are only a couple that now remain. It would be incredibly tragic and would very visibly demonstrate Gateway as a bad community neighbour, in particular because of businesses having left so this redevelopment could occur.

The following photos show the current state of the strip mall housing the Newton Bingo Hall, one portion of the mall has already been demolished and another fenced off. The last photo is of one of the working girls who regularly work along the street right behind the mall.

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While the still controversial build outs of the Grandview Heights NCP Area 4 begin,the rest of Surrey is left wondering how sustainable this is, when we aren’t keeping pace with policing and other vital infrastructure. While these photos tell the story of the impact of just three developments, there are hundreds of other clear cuts that have occurred just like this all over south Newton and south Surrey.  It would be telling to see a comparison of the city from an aerial view, taken 5 years ago to now. Vast tracts of forest are being cut constantly.

As the community of Newton and others continue to struggle on a daily basis with serious issues and growing pains that have no end in site, council will again be faced with making a decision at Monday night meeting that voters are not likely to forget by the municipal election in November.

You can find the schedule for Mondays full council and committee meetings at this link, and it will be the first meeting in the new city hall. Pay parking only in the parkade, unfortunately,


Posted in Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Politics without principle 2.0: “Just because you can,doesn’t mean you should”

And oftentimes excusing of a fault
Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.
~William Shakespeare

Partisan snipes from both sides of the house have been fairly silent today on twitter and for good reason: once again, hypocrisy is the governing force of the legislature as news of taxpayer funded trips for both NDP and Liberal members come to light.

To be fair, it’s been ‘past policy’ for spouses to join politicians on the public dime, nothing new there. But what makes this particular revelation so hard to stomach is that it comes on the heels of other decidedly excessive spending by Liberal MLA and speaker of the house Linda Reid.

What’s more alarming is that we haven’t even heard the entire extent of Reid’s lavish spending, because she still hasn’t provided all the details of other trips taken on the public dime, along with other questionable expenditures.  

The NDP have been largely silent on all this of course, because NDP MLA Raj Chouhan was on the very same African trip, with his spouse, apparently in his role as assistant Deputy Speaker. While Chouhan had yet to speak publicly on this trip at the time of this post, in a statement to the press yesterday Shane Simpson said Chouhan offered to pay for his spouse at the outset of the trip, but Reid informed him that he didn’t need to.

 The trip in question for both members, was to the 59th Commonwealth parliamentary Conference. Let’s be blunt. There was absolutely no need for either Reid or Chouhan to even attend this conference – there were a number of other Canadian attendee’s that would more than adequately represent the country. It’s a fluff conference replete with scenic and historical tours for the participant alone,but it’s the spousal programme that really takes the cake!


Not only were spouses kept amused with lions and giraffes at a two hour trip to the zoo ( keep in mind that Reid was with her husband on that spousal visit- the programme for participants allowed plenty of time for sightseeing), visits also included the Orlanda Soweto bungee jumping towers, The Museum of Africa, and last but not least, the South African Breweries World of Beer. Do taxpayers have any assurance either Chouhan or Reid even attended conference events at all? And if they did, what did they take away from this conference that benefits British Columbians? I would be asking for a full report!!

It’s bad enough that after years of cuts to education, legal services, social services, etc.  in this province, that government policy even allows for the payment of any spouse to travel with a minister – period. But it’s tragic the NDP went right along with this kind of bogus parliamentary conference at all.  In particular since the opposition is constantly calling out the Liberals for spending like drunken sailors in the name of fiscal responsibility, which leads me to not a small conundrum the BC NDP find themselves in right now.

When the first batch of lavish spending by Reid was revealed, the BC NDP surprised everyone by not jumping on her immediately.  In fact, then House Leader John Horgan instead commented:

“Are these legitimate concerns? Absolutely,” Horgan told reporters.

“Is the staff issue a legitimate concern? Yes, it is. But I believe that Linda needs to be given some slack here because she’s the first Speaker in 125 years to say, ‘This is what I’m doing.’”

Since the new revelations of  the South African trip taken by Reid and Chouhan, Horgan has been silent, having effectively painted himself into a corner with his prior comments of support - he felt the nearly $50K computer terminal expense was appropriate as well.

There will be no calling for her resignation, there will be no outrage, and likely, there will be no consequences for Ms. Reid because I doubt Premier Clark will raise the axe on this one.

Raj Chouhan has no choice but to immediately pay for his trip to retain any credibility with the public at all.

The BC NDP  and leadership contender John Horgan both lose face in the eyes of BC residents who have no stomach for the endless excessive government spending.

The Liberals will laugh all the way to the bank, having come out on top once again despite yet another scandal.

Ironically this entire debacle brings to mind the 2012 audit of the Legislative Assembly Financial Records -  hence the title of this post as a ’2.0′ version.

At that time, the auditor general left no MLA unscathed, taking to task both the Liberal and NDP MLA’s for their inability to manage their own financial affairs- an astounding revelation to those in the province thinking the NDP were keeping the Liberals to task!

“The auditors office recommended way back in 2007, that the Legislature provide  publicly available audited financial reports, and improve internal controls to prevent fraud and misappropriation of public funds…. and it never happened.  Why?

Let me be perfectly clear. This is no way a difference of accounting standards as Falcon is futily trying to claim. This is no way a minor financial difference of opinion.. this is a lack of the most basic accounting methods for expenditures of all MLA’s in the Legislature, Liberal and NDP. Simple grade 10 accounting trial balance kind of stuff, that there was not enough documentation to even allow the auditor to determine if the figures he did get are even right or not! He cannot state if there is anything missing or untowards going on because the accounting is so bad!

Among the issues reported on:

- lack of bank reconciliations ( pretty standard even for a mom and pop corner store) and those obtained were not done in a standard fashion. The Legislative Assembly did not even start preparing bank reconciliations until right before the 2009 audit and then failed to report millions in expenses for a prior year. Bank reconciliations are the easiest way to track cash, and cash expenditures and catch fraud or unusual cash transactions.

- expenses for one year, intentionally reclassified into another fiscal year to meet budget.

-  a repeated and consistent lack of supporting documents and receipts for MLA’s credit card travel expenses, a requirement in the Members handbook.

-lack of disclosure of MLA’s payments. There were approximately $2 million in transitional payments made to former MLA’s that were ‘misclassified’ and not included in the public disclosure of compensation, for MLA’s that had either chosen not to run in 2009, or were defeated in 2009.

- lack of inventory records for Legislative dining room or gift shop.

-No recording of appropriations and transfers between accounts for ministry of finance and the Legislative Assembly accounts. Accounting records showed one bank account had an overdraft of $133 million, another had a positive balance of $5.5 million.  In reality, bank statements showed both bank accounts had a ZERO balance.

I could go on, but frankly it makes me feel sick. You can read the full report in this PDF file: AuditorGeneralLegislativeReport

Long story short, all of our MLA’s, both Liberal and NDP, have failed the people who elected them to office by ensuring that first and foremost, they can keep their own financial affairs in order.

While the NDP have been howling and crying foul at the Liberals for lack of transparency and accountability, they have failed to bring resolution to the mess that was first revealed in 2007 by the auditors office.

They have failed to ensure they held the governing Liberals to account by ensuring their own elected members who served on the Legislative Assembly Management Committee followed up and enacted the recommended changes that give the most basic, the most basic, accountability at an MLA level.”

And here we are, two years later, legislative spending still apparently out of control and unaccounted for, few controls to ensure legislative accountability and both parties clearly still wear this mess for the lack of resolution and accountability.

At all times both sides of the house must be fiscally prudent with public funds, but in times of austerity, particularly so. At no time should the opposition put themselves in a position of not being to take the Liberals to task. Having done so now, they’ve left British Columbians floundering, asking themselves “Who is watching the house?”


“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by anybody.” ~Thomas Paine


Posted in Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

This weeks column for 24Hrs: B.C. and port should negotiate,not intimidate.

The winner of last week’s duel on internships was Laila with 69%.

This week’s topic:

Are provincial and port authorities justified in taking action to force truckers back to work?

As I entered the King George SkyTrain station Friday morning, it wasn’t the usual crowd of commuters that I encountered. Instead of office workers and students, seemingly endless lines of port truckers and their supporters filled the ticket area in a show of solidarity that made me smile.

As I chatted with more than a few supporters while waiting for my turn to buy a ticket, one thing was clear — it’s not just other unions supporting the truckers. A wide spectrum of non-unionized workers and small businesses genuinely understand and appreciate how hard it is to make a living.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Ironically, while my Duel partner not only agrees the truckers deserve to make a living wage — and has even presented a comprehensive list of unresolved issues port truckers face — he still feels the bully tactics of the province and the port authority are reasonable to deal with the ongoing strike….

Read the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/03/23/the-province-and-port-authority-should-negotiate-not-intimidate

Posted in 24 hours Vancouver The Duel, BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments