Operation Backpack update

The first backpacks were dropped off this week and what a sight that was!

It is heartwarming to see the effort that has gone into picking out these items,with thought for what these children might find not only useful,but entertaining and soothing.

And it is heartwarming to see that it is not just people in Surrey who are stepping up, but people who live outside our own city.

We are pleased to announce that the distribution will be handled via a local front line agency, Options Community Services, who will be directly helping families with settlement services in Surrey.

They are currently updating their website to include donations specifically for Syrian refugees in terms of cash, housing options and/or volunteering.They will  also be looking for Arabic speaking volunteers especially, so please contact them directly if you can assist with any of the above.  Because storage is an issue, please do not just drop things off at the office, but please contact them first to find out the guidelines.

Because storage is an issue, I’ll  continue to manage the acceptance of the backpacks until they can accommodate or distribute. Because the government and agencies are still working out the details on arrivals, how many etc, we do not have a firm date for distribution,but I will keep you updated!!

To date, there are firm commitments for nearly a hundred backpacks, and they are slowly coming in! If you have promised a backpack, please arrange with me to drop off or have it picked up at your earliest convenience! ( Update Nov.27th- the bulk of incoming govt sponsored refugees will occur in January and February- our time pressure is relieved significantly since the original announcement of 500 kids before years end)

We are still looking for more backpacks, either via individual donations

( Buy a backpack,fill it with school supplies and give me a shout!) or via a store/business donation. Any that are not needed in Surrey,will be transferred to another agency,in another city that needs them!
At this time of year there is tremendous generosity but also a high demand and requests for donations, and requests for backpacks and supplies has not been successful with local businesses who have already made contributions elsewhere.

 So,if you know of a business or organization that would like to send some our way, please let me know! We would really like to make sure every child & teen coming in, is able to have one of these backpacks.

I’d also like to thank the great folks from the Cloverdale Rodeo/fairgrounds and WestCoast amusements, for a generous donation of 100 plush toys to pair with  each backpack.It always makes a difference, when you give where you live and we appreciate that so much!!



backpacks, non gender specific. ( we would like to have some designed for kids under 9, the rest aimed for tween and teens) 


pencil cases

crayons.pencil crayons, pens,pencils, erasers, notebooks, binders etc. Basic items most kids/teens can use for school and to pass time outside of school. 

Colouring books are great stress-relievers,also will help keep kids amused while parents are dealing with settlement issues.

Those stretchy one size fits all gloves & toques for winter

** If there is one thing that the refugee crisis has highlighted, it is the tremendous need for assistance at every level in our city. There is no better time for you to find out how and where you can help make a difference, and why it is so important that we all lobby for more funding at the provincial and federal level.

“Are right and wrong convertible terms, dependent upon popular opinion?” ~ William Lloyd Garrison

This is the ship my grandparents and mother came to Canada on,according to the immigration documents I’ve found on my mother and grandparents.

My maternal grandparents, were a huge part of my life growing up. My poppa, was my everything.Both immigrants who had overcome big challenges in their lives in Germany and Denmark, they came to Canada for a better life for their children… one of whom was my mother.

I’ll never forget when as a teen, already insatiably curious and never one to follow the rules of never asking too many questions, I asked my grandparents what it was like when they came to Canada.
“Ach!” my Nani said: ” We could not buy anyting dat did not haf  a picture of the food on it!”
There were no ESL lessons, no immigrant support services when my grandparents came to Canada, and it was hard for them. Very hard. They made their way to British Columbia and Prince George was where they settled.

My grandfather used his carpentry skills  to build northern BC, as did my father who worked on one of the Peace River dams where I spent a summer with my mom and brother living in a tent trailer in a campground in Hudson’s Hope.

Somewhere along the line, one or both met  Koazi Fujikawa, who I only knew growing up in the north as ‘Uncle Koazi’ 

Even when Koazi moved from PG back to Mission, friends used to ask me how I had a Japanese uncle when my family was all white!  The funny thing is, I never questioned his presence until someone else did.

Koazi came up several times a year to bring us smoked salmon,blackberries, and it was from him I learned the need and value of the ooligans. When the runs were good, he would harvest them with his friends in local First Nations, smoke them and bring them to us up north.

Looking back now, it may not seem like the most conventional childhood, but really, it was. Unless you are Inuit or First Nations, we all came from somewhere else. Some of our families were immigrants, some were refugees, some have fled wars of their own. And I am thankful every day for where and how I grew up, and the people who shaped my life then, and now.

Would I be here, if my mother and her parents had not come over from  Europe? Would I be the person I am if I had not been born and raised in the north,experiencing sustenance hunting, fishing? Learning at times from a Canadian born Japanese man who was always thought a foreigner because of the colour of his skin?  A man  I only ever knew as my uncle?

My point is this. Today I had a bit of a rant on twitter, and again on Facebook because I feel such a negative  and hypocritical push-back  on  social media when it comes to Syrian Refugees.

I now make my home in Surrey. I have been a long,vocal and at times,the only critic of civic policy because I could see where it was leading.For years, Surrey has banked on having the lowest taxes in Metro Vancouver as a selling point to negate the negative press.

That has come,sadly, with a huge cost.

Instead of having reasonable,marginal property tax and DCC increases, we now see the large increases, because apparently the cost of policing in such a huge area, is a surprise. ( It is not, unless you are a dolt)

And of course, we see again now because our budget crisis is happening at the same time as our incoming refugees are in the news, a flurry of racist crap. And yes, it is crap.

But should any of the failures of  our city government, of our provincial government, or our federal government…be the concerns of many fleeing a war we in Canada are helping to perpetuate?

No. No, this is not their fault, or their doing.

What I find so appalling… and you know who you are… is that many of the same people who are freaking out about accepting refugees because  we are overloaded in our schools,clinics, hospitals etc….  are the same people who voted our current city council in. They have been silent since the last election except for talking about how great everything is… and suddenly now they are bringing up these issues as a reason why we should not let refugees into Surrey.

Yousuddenly have an issue with overcrowding? Talk to your city council who approved it all. In the face of people calling for restraint…. for years. Where were you when we were talking about this?

You have an issue in Surrey with refugee’s who do not have support services? Talk to your local Liberal/NDP MLA and find out why there is no funding.  Did you ask about this before voting? No???

You think we should take care of our own? Great! I do too…but where were you when people were calling for support for a winter shelter?

Where were you when good women were feeding the homeless our city was trying to get rid of? When our Pop Up Soup Kitchen led by a woman who does not even live in Surrey… was being kicked out by our bylaws officers?

Have you been advocating and pushing for shelters, or trying to stop them? Have you been pushing for more funding to support our youth so they don’t head down the wrong path?

Where are you now, when good people leaving lives of pain and anguish, are wanting more for their children like our families wanted more for us? You get the idea.

I have been the one of the longest and loudest critics speaking out against the manner of development in our city.But I have always been on the side of what is right. And if you said nothing in the face of all the rampant development in Surrey when it was clear the province could not keep pace… you are part of the problem.

We all own this.

We are a village and yes it takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a village…. to raise a village. Not just a child, but a city.

Why the hate on for Syrian refugees in Surrey right now? Because I can assure you as local RCMP can, that they are not behind the 60+ shootings-many with restricted weapons- that have happened in our community this year. Nor has all this crime been committed by refugees, period.

I welcome  Syrian families and their children, despite the issues in our city,because they are fleeing war, bombs…..oh yes….war??!! The majority want to be at home. But their country is fast disappearing into a pile of rubble.

They are not responsible for overcrowding, parking ,crime in Surrey or anything else you might want to use them as an excuse for.

Blaming refugee’s is convenient, and it is easy. But they are not the cause of our problems.

Look to your elected officials for that. And if you must, look in the mirror.


“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important.

You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit.

But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

Mahatma Gandhi



Operation Backpack

During the recent federal election,frustrated by the divisive politics that seemed destined to separate a nation of very good people,I sat down to write this post:

Today, I have chosen to be thankful for this heart wrenching political divisiveness because it gives us the opportunity as a nation to decide what kind of country we want to be. The only positive in this is that we now have the chance to define ourselves as Canadians. And I trust we will rise above it all and show the world who we really are.

It’s time now to put that to action.
I’ve been thinking about this idea since I heard how many Syrian refugees were intended to settle in the city where I live, Surrey. More so, my thought was immediately of the children coming,estimated to be at about 500.

While there are valid concerns about space in classes, funding etc – and Mr. Trudeau, if you are reading, we do need more funds in Surrey yesterday thankyouverymuch- these concerns pale in comparison to the concerns of the children coming to our city.

These children did not ask to be born into a country  where bombs are a regular part of life. Where being scared all the time is something you just get used to, because that is what war means …. where families are torn apart. Refugee camps. This breaks my heart. They have been through hell.

While we cannot change what they have been through, we can change their experience going forward as they come to a new country. And tonight,seeing news of the imminent arrivals,many of us knew we had to act.

Enter, ‘Operation Backpack’.

My first thought was not of where they will sleep or what they will eat- that will be taken care of. My first thought was of these children being able to feel at home, to feel like they are welcome, valued and that they have the basic tools to … well.. be kids.

To me, that means at least having a backpack to get started. A place to carry your ‘stuff’.  Basic school supplies. Crayons. Pencil crayons. Pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, drawing paper… and a stuffie to hold when new places, people and experiences change your world forever.

Familiar items most kids take for granted, but to a newcomer who has been through many changes and hardships, perhaps a bit of stability and welcome to know they are valued, appreciated and welcomed. And I like to think that since most of us come from families of immigrants, we welcome all in this great land that openly welcomed us. These backpacks would be something tangible children can take where-ever they go.

I would love to see this happen in every community across Canada that is welcoming refugees fleeing a country so war torn it is hard to identify at times, but I’ll be concentrating on  trying to get this happening in Surrey.

This is something anyone can do. Start with a backpack, fill it with supplies and drop it with whatever local agency or organization is helping settle the incoming families in your area.

I have no idea where this will go, but this is what is needed and anyone wanting to help out, please email me!

Contact me: lailayuile@live.com


backpacks, non gender specific.


pencil cases

crayons.pencil crayons, pens,pencils, erasers, sharpeners, notebooks, binders etc. Basic items most kids/teens can use for school and to pass time outside of school. Colouring books?

stuffed animals – small enough to fit in the backpack.

stretchy gloves & toques for winter



The facts of life are that a child who has seen war cannot be compared with a child who doesn’t know what war is except from television.

~Sophia Loren





Province appoints Special Prosecutor to deleted emails investigation **updated-he has since withdrawn!!?

** Post updated below…. The special prosecutor has now recused himself since this was posted at 11:00 am

From Jennifer Moreau, of the Burnaby Now:

This just in! The province is appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s recent report to government. Great news, considering the awful state of our access to information laws in B.C.

When reporters file freedom of information (FOI) requests, they’re often delayed getting back to us, most of the content is greyed out, and sometimes we’re just told there are no records. There are a couple years worth of backlogged complaints. Let’s hope this investigation improves things.

November 19, 2015 15-23

Appointment of Special Prosecutor

Victoria – The Criminal Justice Branch (CJB), Ministry of Justice, announced today that Greg DelBigio, QC has been appointed as a Special Prosecutor to provide legal advice to the R.C.M.P. in relation to an investigation arising out of Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s recent report to government.

As disclosed in the report, the Information and Privacy Commissioner referred information to the R.C.M.P. for investigative consideration. This information related to a request for access to records that was made of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the alleged conduct of an individual who was employed as a Ministerial Assistant at the time of the request.

On November 10, 2015, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Criminal Justice Branch, M. Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten, QC (the ADAG), received a formal request from the R.C.M.P. that she consider the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to provide police with legal advice during the course of their investigation.

The ADAG concluded, based on the request and the information available to her about the alleged circumstances of the case, that the appointment of a Special Prosecutor is in the public interest. Under the Crown Counsel Act, the ADAG will consider appointing a Special Prosecutor where some aspect of an investigation, or prosecution file, carries a significant potential for real or perceived improper influence in prosecutorial decision making. A Special Prosecutor works independent from government, the Ministry of Justice and the CJB.

On November 13, 2015 the ADAG appointed Mr. DelBigio as Special Prosecutor in the matter. He has been given a mandate by the ADAG to:

 Offer such legal advice to the investigative agency as may be necessary in the circumstances;

 Conduct an independent assessment of any Report to Crown Counsel (RTCC) that may be submitted and make the charging decision he deems appropriate in the exercise

– See more at: http://www.burnabynow.com/opinion/blogs/community-conversations-1.752422/province-appoints-special-prosecutor-to-investigate-following-privacy-commissioner-s-report-1.2115392#sthash.1Okv3VhW.dpuf

I love how the government appointed this prosecutor on November 13th… and didn’t issue a press release until today – after the fall legislative session has ended. No questions, again.

It will be interesting to see how and where this investigation goes.  Keep in mind in the case of the alleged deletion of the Ministry of Transportation emails by George Gretes, that occurred in November 2014.

We now know that the BC government removed section 5 of The Offence Act from Bill 18 ( Information Management Act), in May of this year, 2015. Prior to this removal, it was a general offence to improperly destroy government documents or records. I wrote about that twice when it happened in May.

We also know now, that those penalties were removed just two days prior to Tim Duncans revelations, about the deletion of those Highway of Tears emails. Mere days after my blog posts, the NDP released this:

duty to document

It begs the question: Because Section 5 of the offence act still applied in BC with respect to document destruction, at the time the emails were deleted, would it apply to any offences committed before it was removed?

To date, the premier has never been asked about the removal of the offence act ( and associated penalties) from this bill. There has been no questions put to Minister Amrik Virk either. You may want to ask why.

Is this government Complicit, or Incompetent?  You decide.

Full background on this entire story, including the questions still standing on the appointment of Loukidelis, here: http://lailayuile.com/2015/11/12/complicit-or-incompetent-questions-continue-to-pile-up-for-the-premier-who-continues-to-ignore-them-all/



I’ve out with my phone off all afternoon and just catching up. Since this posting at 11 am, the special prosecutor has withdrawn. A new prosecutor, hopefully one with no connection and truly arms length to government, will be appointed. http://www.cknw.com/2015/11/19/special-prosecutor-withdraws-from-investigation-into-b-c-deleted-emails-report/

Special prosecutor Greg DelBigio who was appointed to independently assess any decision on possible charges into a former government staffer who deleted government emails and allegedly lied under oath.

Neil MacKenzie with the Criminal Justice Branch says DelBigio has withdrawn over a potential case of conflict of interest.

“Questions were raised in relation to another matter in which Mr. DelBigio is acting as a defence counsel, the branch hasd some further discussions with DelBigio about that.”

It turns out he is also the defence lawyer for a B.C. Liberal party staffer charged with Election Act violations related to the ethnic outreach scandal.

The branch says out of an abundance of caution and respect for the importance of maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice, he’s withdrawn.

The branch is now looking for a new special prosecutor.

Complicit…or incompetent? Questions continue to pile up for the Premier, who continues to ignore them all.

“Honesty, integrity, and accountability, the values, which should be the hallmark of this government, have instead been thrown under the bus by an arrogant majority, casualties in a misguided campaign to shield from accountability those who abuse this House.”

~ Louise Slaughter

“The fatal attraction of government is that it allows busybodies to impose decisions on others without paying any price themselves. That enables them to act as if there were no price, even when there are ruinous prices — paid by others.”

~Thomas Sowell

It’s been a long time since there has been a singular issue that has created so much outrage and demanded so many unanswered questions of this government.

Even the ethnic outreach scandal dubbed Ethnicgate didn’t garner as much attention by the average citizen. New citizen blogger Merv Adey recently compiled a list of the growing number of examples where our BC government has gone completely off track, and I’ll add to that in a moment:

It’s clear now what I think we’ve all suspected. Christy Clark’s government is defined by its own governing principle, and that is the avoidance of accountability.

  1. 8 fired health researchers: 1 committed suicide (Rod MacIsaac) . No email records found in the senior civil service. No briefing notes or memos.
  2. 80 Community Consultations along the Highway of Tears by the Ministry of Transportation. A political staffer, George Gretes, is forced to resign (not fired), and now investigated for perjury after he allegedly triple deleted not only his own records, but Tim Duncan’s as well, and then lied to an Independent Officer of the Legislature about it.
  3. Zero emails from Christy Clark herself, out of 200 which were tracked, were submitted in response to FOI request.
  4. Christy Clark’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Michele Cardario, reportedly triple deleted without trace every single email she sent during the 2 years since she replaced Kim Haakstad who became toxic after the QuickWins memo was released by the opposition
  5. Minister of Transport Todd Stone admits to triple deleting emails regularly.
  6. While negotiating one of the larger tax giveaways to industry in the history of BC (LNG), Rich Coleman’s COS responded to an FOI request with 3 emails out of 800 which were tracked by Tech Services. He failed to respond with up to 797 emails to important energy industry players like AltaGas and PETRONAS.
  7. Clark’s government, (as Laila Yuile notes – 2 days before the George Gretes scandal broke), removed the application of Section 5 of the Offences Act to the evasion of FOI requirements. That is, they intentionally weakened the penalties for illegal destruction of documents. George Gretes may or may not go to jail for perjury, but he won’t go there for being part of Christy Clark’s political team and destroying public records for political gain.

And there is more since this list was compiled, news that was particularly unsettling when you consider the implications.

We now know that Ministry of Justice lawyers were sent to the Privacy Commissioners office in what appears to be an attempt to halt the release of the damning report:

When B.C.’s privacy watchdog was getting ready to release her bombshell report about triple-deleting emails by government political staffers, she was greeted by Ministry of Justice lawyers attempting to impede the report’s release.

BC NDP MLA Carole James raised the issue in the legislature Wednesday, and said the ministry had sent lawyers who “told her not to release the report.”

“My question is to the Minister of Justice,” she said. “Why did she ask lawyers in her ministry to stall off the commissioner’s report?

“Sending lawyers after the commissioner is truly a new low.”

In her report, Elizabeth Denham, B.C.’s privacy commissioner, revealed a widespread government problem of triple-deleting “transitory” documents related to the Highway of Tears.

“In the course of this investigation, we uncovered negligent searches for records, a failure to keep adequate email records, a failure to document searches, and the willful destruction of records responsive to an access request,” she said in a release.

“Taken together, these practices threaten the integrity of access to information in British Columbia.”

Yes, these practices do threaten the integrity of access to information, but the implications of Ministry of Justice lawyers trying to stop the release of this report are beyond disturbing.

Let me make this clear. This government did not want that report on the table during this legislative session where Liberal ministers would have to face questions and face public scrutiny. This government wanted that report held back until the session was over and hopefully evade on the record discussion. Who gave the order to these lawyers? We don’t know.

Amrik Virk, minister of evasion in charge of this mess, didn’t deny the allegations and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton did not respond to NDP questions. Where is the scrum on this? Where is the demand for an explanation beyond the NDP’s grilling?

Where is the explanation for this, period?  Once again, Premier Clark has been off in China on a non-stop itinerary of photo-ops,a trade mission scheduled rather conveniently  during one of the very few legislative sessions we seem to have -something she has been called on repeatedly in the past.

As the leader of this government, which is facing a growing lack of confidence by the public, it is not her job to be in China when the legislature is in session.She needed to be here, answering for her governments performance-or lack thereof.

Which is why it was quite interesting to see Environment Minister Mary Polak, respond to a question tweeted to several Liberal members on why the BC government removed the penalties for improper destruction of government documents.  I asked for clarification and was met with silence.

The continual evasion and silence is both wearisome, and alarming. Government has hoped this would all die down while Clark was in China, but it didn’t. This entire series of highly questionable actions has been kept alive by concerned citizens,former journalists,and there are several ministers who face mounting questions.

Questions like the appropriateness of Clark appointing former BC Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis to the review the handling of documents and Freedom of Information requests by the BC government. 

Loukidelis served the province of BC very well during his time as a Privacy Commissioner,rapping governments knuckles many times. He was highly regarded when it comes to this past position in BC and has intimate knowledge of how government works -or doesn’t work – in this regard – on that front there is no question of his suitability with respect to relevent knowledge and experience.

The question is raised because following his service as the Privacy Commissioner, Loukidelis went onto become Deputy Attorney General – a move that had many critics calling foul. 

The man who has been responsible for ensuring that the provincial government fulfills Freedom of Information requests since 1999 is now deputy attorney general for the B.C. Liberal administration.

David Loukidelis will go from being the independent appointee responsible for ensuring openness and transparency in a government that flagrantly violates FOI rules to being one of the top bureaucrats assigned to keeping documents secret from the media and the public.

And that is seriously wrong in at least four ways.

He served in this capacity until his resignation in May of 2012  and went onto other interests,but for those familiar with BC politics,his appointment to this review raised eyebrows because of this:

Loukidelis may be best known in B.C. for his role in the abrupt Oct. 2010 end of the bribery trial of former ministerial aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk. Along with deputy finance minister Graham Whitmarsh, he approved the $6 million payment to Basi and Virk’s lawyers as part of the plea bargain that halted the trial related to the BC Liberals’ 2003 privatization of BC Rail. Former finance minister Gary Collins was the next witness scheduled. ~ http://thetyee.ca/News/2015/02/10/Watchdog-Turns-Lobbyist/

Loukidelis also made headlines after sending a letter to Wally Oppal in 2011 stating the province had limited resources and no money to pay legal fees of participants in the Pickton Inquiry.

Because the murdered and missing women along the Highway of Tears was reviewed at the Inquiry, it’s at the very least, insensitive to have Loukidelis on a review of how the government handled FOI’s and documents, some of which related to the Highways of Tears.

The irony is also stark that the BC government claimed poverty when it came to funding participants in the Pickton Inquiry, yet had more than enough funds to fuel the Basi-Virk trial and  $6 million dollar payout that stopped that same trial… and saved several former Ministers and politicians from taking the stand-including Clark herself. But that’s another story.

Because  Loukidelis played such a critical role in decision behind the Basi/Virk payout, many critics are also questioning Clark’s decision to appoint him to this review.

We’ve come full circle. And as we await the results of both Loukidelis’s review into the governments handling of documents and FOI requests – due December 15th,right at the height of the holiday season –  and the Ombudsman report into the health firings-report date unknown, the questions will continue to mount. Yet silence reigns with the exception of Polak’s tweets last weekend.

With every new aspect of this story that comes out with absolutely no accountability to be seen yet, the question remains… will this government be found complicit…or simply incompetent?

Photo credit: dm gillis
Photo credit: dm gillis

***Merv Adey has a new post up, with more on Loukidelis and…. Graham Whitmarsh. http://www.bcveritas.com/index.php/2015/11/13/why-david-loukidelis-cant-be-the-right-choice-on-foi/

Backposts in this series:

  1. http://lailayuile.com/2015/10/29/50-shades-of-wrong-why-the-liberal-government-has-lost-all-moral-authority-to-govern-christyresign/
  2. http://lailayuile.com/2015/10/26/a-government-built-on-liesobfuscation-and-obstructionis-nothing-to-be-proud-of/
  3. http://lailayuile.com/2015/10/22/11602/
  4. Changes to Bill 5 -removal of general offence part 1 : http://lailayuile.com/2015/05/29/the-more-that-government-becomes-secret-the-less-it-becomes-free-james-russell-wiggins/
  5. http://lailayuile.com/2015/05/31/if-you-kept-the-small-rules-you-could-break-the-big-ones-%E2%80%95-george-orwell/

“In every walk with nature,one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir

Most of the time I write about politics: scandal, malfeasance, injustices and wrongs. I follow, research,live and breathe it…and for the most part, I’ve learned to wash that coating of cynicism behind with each day.

But sometimes,when I’m particularly troubled or disturbed by whatever story that’s bothering me, I need a bit more and as long time readers know, that means off to the woods, the mountains or the sea. For me as with many others, nothing quite restores the spirit, softens the heart and brings perspective and rejuvenation like nature.

Hal Borland once said: ” You can’t be suspicious of a tree, accuse a bird of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.” And while that makes me chuckle, it’s surely true.

I’ve been working on a post since Monday,wrapping more questionable actions of the BC government together with the ongoing deleted emails,non-responsive FOI’s and the health firings disaster. And all of it still really bothers me.This particular series of scandals and malfeasance really strikes a chord that goes beyond government wrongdoing… and the tragic human aspect of it,is what’s hard to put aside.

So this afternoon it was time to just enjoy the break between storms and reconnect with nature. And what a walk it turned out to be…. watching salmon spawning, seeing the very moment when a new generation is released and fertilized…alone with just the fish, the breeze and the sun… magical.

There is something sacred about the life cycle of the salmon, a poignant beauty to be found both in life and death, the struggle and overpowering instinct to return to the spot they were born. Nothing is more important than going home, and home is where they continue to nurture the forest even in death, their spent carcasses feeding the eagles, bear, coyotes and more.

Whatever is left, decomposes into the earth,sustaining the trees along the banks of the creeks and rivers, creating lush forests that provide shelter for other forest creatures.

There is not one bit of waste in nature.Every living thing provides for some other creature – even us – which is why the balance of what we see around us, is so incredibly important.

Because “Nature is not a place to visit… it is home.” ~ Gary Snyder. And it feeds not only our bodies, but our spirits as well.

Click on the first photo to scroll through each in full size.

  • I’ll be back to that post tomorrow,so watch for it before Friday.

“Remember, Honour, Teach.” ~ Lest we forget.

Today, is a day we stop to honour and remember our veterans – not only those of years and wars long past,but those younger men and women who have done tours of duty overseas on behalf of our nation in recent years. The face of our veterans is changing, yet we so often fail to reflect on that.

This is not a day for politics. This is not a day for debating war. This is a day to remember, honour and teach our children about those who have chosen to serve our country-whether you agree with that choice or not.In teaching our children about our past,it is the hope of many future generations will lead with a consciousness that enables conflict resolution without violence.

Today, I honour all our veterans and I hope all Canadians will continue to not only remember and honour them, but to support them by advocating for better services and treatment here at home. They deserve,nothing less than our best.  And today, I not only remember and honour our veterans, but all the men and women currently serving our country.

Thank you.


On my honour, we will stand at the place where you rest
and remember you.

On my honour, we will pick up the torch of freedom
and carry it for you.

On my honour, you will not be a silent memory,
we will speak of you often
so the world will know what you have done.

On my honour, as you reach the gates of heaven
you will hear the voices of a grateful nation rise up
and we will honour you.

By Kathleen Mills


** Want to show your appreciation for troops stationed overseas during Christmas? As long as you get your letter or postcard to the Belleville Ontario address at this link for Morale Mail, it will be forwarded in time for Christmas to any Canadian Armed Forces member. A great class project for students all across Canada!


50 shades of wrong: Why the BC Liberal government has lost all moral authority to govern #ChristyResign

I was watching Question Period earlier today as the opposition was asking hard questions of Amrik Virk – again. ‘How is it possible that in all the years of the health firings investigation, there were no documents created across two ministers and high-level staff?’ Dix wanted to know.

Virks responses at first consisted of the usual non-answers Liberals give in QP. virksmirk-foremailBut on the last question, he waits a moment, and smirks… before giving another sidestep. Thanks to a reader watching, you can see it for yourself. Considering the seriousness of the issue, it seemed inappropriate.

He doesn’t mention that the 8 wrongly fired health workers objected strongly to an Ombudsman review, or that the Ombudsman himself had grave concerns over his office’s ability to conduct one.  Or that the Liberals pushed ahead with it in the face of these valid objections – in a committee meeting,the Liberals outvoted the NDP 5-4 – despite the calls for a full fledged public inquiry.

Chalke previously raised red flags about his office’s suitability to probe the firings of eight health researchers nearly three years ago, noting that the issue has become a partisan matter.

We cannot, must not forget those 8 government health ministry workers wrongly fired for an alleged breach of confidential public health data during this email scandal. It’s related. One of those workers, Rod MacIsaac, a Phd candidate,took his own life mere months later. 

“He was a kind, giving man,” MacIsaac’s sister Linda Kayfish said Tuesday. “He was a concise, straightforward, straight-answer guy.”

After two years in which no wrongdoing by MacIsaac has been uncovered and other members of the team have been exonerated, Kayfish is calling on the provincial government to issue a formal apology for her brother’s dismissal.

“I figured that when somebody makes a mistake and ruins people’s lives like this, they had to know there would be repercussions,” she said. “And when you do that, you have to recognize an error: stand up, and recognize that error. Apologize.”

And an apology was made, of sorts, at least in the public realm. But neither apologies,nor settlements,nor ombudsmans reviews will bring Rod MacIssac back.

None of this should have happened in the first place.

When it was revealed in June of this year, that the government had intentionally misled not only the public, but the RCMP, it further called into question the ability of this government to continue with authority to govern:

Despite claims from MacDiarmid’s ministry that its had “provided the RCMP with interim results of an internal investigation,” RCMP emails show the ministry simply gave “high level explanations of the allegations,” and that “the province’s investigation had not reached any conclusions that could support a criminal investigation.”

RCMP investigators tried five times over almost two years to get more information, but received none of the reports the Health Ministry had promised into what it had publicly billed as one of the biggest privacy breaches in B.C. history.

The Mounties closed the file on July 16, 2014, and informed the province. But it wasn’t until seven months later that the government publicly admitted it no longer expected police to pursue the matter.

The records, obtained by The Vancouver Sun through the federal Access to Information Act, show that the B.C. government repeatedly pointed to an RCMP investigation over several years, while at the same time doing virtually nothing to inform police about the case and failing to provide any evidence of a crime.

“Despite inferences in the media that the RCMP has undertaken an investigation or received information from the Province, this has not been the case,” wrote Const. Dean Miller from the RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime section, in a late 2014 report. “No tangible evidence or reports related to the allegations have been handed over. As such, no investigation has been initiated.”

NDP critic Adrian Dix said the documents “show a government that not just misled the public but misled the police. And it’s a very serious thing.”

The government “smeared” the reputation of the researchers by repeatedly lying about a police probe it knew did not exist, said Dix.

One of the researchers, co-op student Roderick MacIsaac, committed suicide after he was fired and it was suggested he was under police investigation.

Think about that. The government deliberately misled the public, the 8 wrongly fired workers- one of whom is no longer with us – and the RCMP.  

Who lies about an RCMP investigation that never happened? And then goes… whoops! Sorry about that! Sorry just doesn’t cut it. It is government malfeasance. A clear attempt to mitigate their own culpability in the entire issue.

And now, two scandals have merged as it was revealed that there are no records… none… after two years of requests into the terribly wrong health firings of those 8 workers. None.

It’s just not remotely plausible.Not to me, not to the opposition and certainly not, the public.

Making it even more appalling, Clarks trying to swing this one by saying only the person who originated the email has to keep a copy. But she fails to get the point that when no records are being handed over in an FOI by anyone,it indicates even the original email sent, is gone. She’s playing semantics. Does this government really think the public is that stupid? Apparently so.

But I digress. We cannot forget that so many of the admissions of willful deleting of emails, or no records happened in the case of the health ministry firings and the Highway of Tears FOI. They involved peoples lives, and their deaths.

These weren’t deleted emails on a coffee meeting about a new ad plan, these were records directly relating to two very sensitive issues, one of which involved horrific abuse of government power and malfeasance.

That’s why when I read this new article on how over the last 23 years, it’s always been the same issues in government, instead of thinking what a good perspective it was,I felt disappointed and honestly, a bit sad.

I very much respect the author- he has produced some excellent work but to me, it seems to minimize the seriousness of what this current government has done, as business as usual. Only, it isn’t.

The examples he’s brought up are egregious by any standard,  but do not come close to the current governments handling and what now looks like a cover-up, into the health ministry firings and the Highway of tears meetings. These events are so reprehensible that it still amazes me the Liberals allowed Clark to remain in power.

His article also doesn’t mention one startling fact that still remains largely unreported or discussed in media: that the Clark government removed the offence act, the penalties for improper destruction of records, two days before Tim Duncan blew the whistles on the emails George Gretes allegedly deleted to avoid the Highway of Tears FOI. 

I’ve written about this removal twice, back in May when it happened. Doug Routley tried to amend the Bill but he was overruled and the bill passed on division. 


The NDP put out this release a few days later:

duty to document

So while prior governments have indeed tried similar tactics to avoid scandal, this government has taken it completely above the law. Completely. No penalties,no deterrents and because Clark and now Virk have completely ignored Commissioner Denhams 3 separate recommendations over three years to legislate Duty to Document, everyone is getting away with it. 

Except poor George Gretes of course, whose case has been handed over to the RCMP for investigation for allegedly lying under oath. And rest assured, someone else will get tossed under the bus before this is over.

But take a look now at this. Denham wrote this letter to Amrik Virk in February of this year reminded him again of the need  for a legislated Duty to Document key government actions and decisions, before Bill 5 was passed.

I know a lot of people in law enforcement and one thing they all hate is a loophole. So one would think  that Virk, a former RCMP officer, would want to ensure every loophole would be removed, right? But no, Bill 5 passed without a Duty to Document. Which leaves this government free to do what they want with little documentation.

Photo credit: The Canadian Press
Photo credit: The Canadian Press

During the federal election I wrote how we seemed to have lost all honour, integrity and common sense in politics. Clarks government has now ensured we have no legislated requirement Duty to Document key government decisions and actions (Aka Boosenkool human resources investigation),  and removed the penalties if you get caught. And for all intents and purposes, I see not one bit of remorse. I’m disappointed her caucus hasn’t publicly distanced themselves from this.

Glen Clark resigned as premier over a patio deck/casino license deal. Despite Ethnic-gate, the Boesenkool affair, the Health firings scandal that resulted in a suicide, destroyed emails relating to the Highway of Tears and more… yet Premier Clark still stands.

AmrikVirk still stands.

Other ministers involved in these scandals still stand…and none of them deserve to. They were elected to represent their constituents yet I highly doubt this is what they had in mind. It is an unforgivable breach of the public trust.

There are far more things in life that matter more than power. People. Personal integrity. Your character. Honour. Accountability.

The only recourse left is for Clark, Virk and others to resign.

Because this isn’t her government. It’s yours.

** Two great posts I have to direct you t on the email scandal are here: http://www.bcveritas.com/index.php/2015/10/28/a-level-of-bullshit-never-seen/ and here: http://blog.cleverelephant.ca/2015/10/government-email-deleting-intent-matters.html

**Here is the link to the BC Liberal MLA’s. If you have a Liberal MLA, please contact them and ask why the penalties for improper document destruction were removed from Bill 5, and ask them why they have refused to legislate Duty to Document rules after 3 years of recommendations. I also urge you to join the call for a resignation of Premier Christy Clark. #ResignChristy



Newton Spooktacular a testament to the power of community.

I spent the afternoon at a fabulous community event in the heart of Newton today, that brought the first hint of how incredible the future of Newton is going to be.

Planned and presented by the Newton BIA, the underground parking of the Newton Save On Foods was turned into a spooktacular Halloween party venue – completely free. Goblins bopped to the beat of a live DJ while a zombie dance troupe thrilled the crowd with a performance to Thriller. The air was filled with the aroma of freshly popped corn,grilled chicken skewers and fresh corn on the cob, while the biggest pumpkin patch Newton has ever seen also helped support for the Surrey Food Bank by accepting donations.

A petting zoo thrilled everyone in one corner while others made their way through all the free venues of crafts, face painting, artist portraits, a movie theatre and train ride around the block. And all our favourite merchants on 137 st opened their doors and hearts with offerings of candy for kids trick or treating and coffee for the parents.

Standing in line for the train, I was speaking with a lovely young couple with their little ones.

“This is so amazing!” the young woman said: “You have no idea, Newton has been through so much. But there are some people here who are changing things though, these people who do these events. We need more of them here. It makes it feel more like a community.”

I smiled,but didn’t tell her I know all about what Newton has been through.And she is right. I talked to a lot of  really happy people today and the common line was: ” We need more of this in Newton.”  We need more happiness, more community events, and we will. There are people here who are changing things. They do their work quietly and without much fanfare, but it shows in the hundreds of people who attended today’s event, that there is a hunger for change and for community building. Newton is a cultural rainbow and today, it shone through the foggy skies, a beacon of hope for the future to come.

Huge props to Philip Aguirre, director of the Newton BIA( and owner of The Old Surrey Restaurant and Bistro 72), David Dalley, and his group of community members who were up early today setting up hay bales, decorating, and making sure this was a first class event. And a big thank you to Save On Foods in Newton, for the venue, DeSerre’s for the crafts and all the other merchants and  volunteers  who made this possible. You’ve all made Newton so proud!

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Tears are nothing new under the Clark government.

You can’t help but shudder at the sinister nickname for British Columbia’s Provincial AutoRoute 16, known as “The Highway of Tears,” which is both a trucking passage and the winding graveyard of up to 42 aboriginal women—most of which assumed murdered by a series of active serial killers. In fact, the RCMP, Canada’s famous Mounties and the chief police force investigating the murders—believes there are active serial killers currently operating along the highway. The RCMP puts the official number of women who have been murdered along the highway at 18.

Running west to east through some of the most remote terrain in North America, passing by desolate First Nations reserves and logging towns, the highway has become synonymous with the endemic violence towards Native women in Canada: They’re five times more likely than any other ethnicity in the country to be raped or murdered. It really wasn’t until a white tree planter was murdered and discovered on the highway in 2002, that the RCMP finally launched a full-scale investigation. The taskforce, called EPANA, has had its funding cut several times in the last few years and no one is sure what they are doing now.

Ray Michalko, a former RCMP detective who quit the force, is now one of the only men on the job as a private investigator. He works directly with the families of missing or murdered indigenous women on his own dime. He takes VICE on a tour of, basically, Canada’s Valley of Death and connects us with the families who have turned to him after sometimes decades of stalled police investigations.

When I saw this video posted yesterday by the Tyee online, I sat down with a cup of coffee to watch it. It’s been a while since I heard the name Ray Michalko and it’s very much worth the time it takes to watch this. In the wake of the launch of former VPD detective Lori Shenhers book  on the Pickton case, it was timely. In both the Pickton case and the murdered and missing women of the Highway of Tears, law enforcement has come under fire. Though separate cases, they are inextricably intertwined by sorrow,grief and a heavy feeling that results from a lack of closure on both.

Government has come under fire as well, for saying first this section of highway was safer than ever, and then quashing the idea of a shuttle bus along the highway last year.

But it wasn’t until May of this year when Tim Duncan  blew the whistle on all of this -after stating he was forced to delete emails following an FOI request for the Highway of Tears– that an investigation was launched. The final report of that investigation was revealed today, and with it, the news that an executive assistant to Minster of Transportation Todd Stone lied under oath. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/highway-of-tears-email-deletion-referred-to-rcmp-by-b-c-privacy-watchdog-1.3284029

My reaction was swift this morning, and without exaggeration.  And it makes me sick.Why?

Because those in the highest levels of this government, the ministers, their closest assistants and the premier herself, seem to have lost all perspective of how their actions have a trickle down effect that impacts many lives. These are not numbers, or stats…these are all people we are talking about here.

Rod MacIsaac committed suicide because he was fired and said to be under RCMP investigation. Only… he wasn’t. And his family can’t get him back. Apologies ring hollow. Lies and more lies. What page is that in the government manual?

Paige is gone. But the government response to the scathing report on her death- one of many in ministry care, or recently released from ministry care- was released on October 19th, the day Canadians voted in the most contentious election most of us will remember.  No disrespect or attempt to squeeze that out under cover there. No, not in the most open and transparent government in Canada!

And yet…. there are more. And no amount of tears will get those loved ones back.

Tonight, I do still feel angry. But more so,I feel disappointed. Clark campaigned on bringing people back into government,on accountability and transparency. Yet… where did all those promises get us? Amrik Virk, a former RCMP member, fumbling through question period today when confronted with the opposition that thankfully chose to oppose.

The families of all of these victims- some of whom may still be here with us had government taken its job seriously and ensured due process was happening – have gone through enough. There is no closure. There will be no healing for many.  But due process is not something this government allows to happen. Accountability is just a word that looks good in a promise, and even the most partisan Liberal supporter in BC needs to ask why that is.

When people are dying because of government action… or inaction, it isn’t an issue of left or right… it is an issue of doing the right thing. And if doing the right thing means admitting that you screwed up, you admit that you screwed up and take your consequences. 
As a person of integrity, you do it…willingly. You do not pass the buck. You do not let a staffer take the fall. You do the right thing and take responsibility as a leader and let it rest on your shoulders. 

But under the ‘open’ Clark government? Not so much.

Not so much accountability. Not so much effort to change anything. Photo-ops and happy smiles all while declaring innocence of knowledge of any of it. Which is really hard to believe considering staffers wouldn’t be doing any of this if they didn’t think it was perfectly acceptable.
Not even under Gordon Campbell did I see anything like this. It’s a culture of deceit and deflection that makes the West Wing reference look like pre-school, and House of Cards  the playbook. There is a demonstrated lack of respect for the law, but more so, the spirit of the law.

And you were worried about Stephen Harper in BC??



Integrity BC is a must follow on facebook https://www.facebook.com/IntegrityBritishColumbia   and twitter https://twitter.com/INTEGRITYBC .

They’ve been sharing some more examples of how ministers, ministerial staff and other have been circumventing FOI and document handling laws, and here is just one of a few posted:


It’s also worth a trip back down memory lane to when government removed the penalties associated with document handling… and I was questioning why a bigger fuss wasn’t made over it when it immediately came to the attention of the opposition.

This matters right now. Greatly. And it didn’t get a lot of press when it happened.

Read this first:  http://lailayuile.com/2015/05/29/the-more-that-government-becomes-secret-the-less-it-becomes-free-james-russell-wiggins/

Then this: http://lailayuile.com/2015/05/31/if-you-kept-the-small-rules-you-could-break-the-big-ones-%E2%80%95-george-orwell/

And tell me there wasn’t a bigger agenda here than making it easier to destroy old,unnecessary documents.

This was about protecting those who do the dirty work. And that is all it was about.