Houston, we have a problem: hardly anyone votes in Surrey

I tweeted out some stark reminders of Surrey’s last election today:

Population of Surrey: approx. 472,000, estimated to grow by about a 1000 every month

Number of registered voters : 279,051 as per the last election in 2011

Number of ballots cast: 70,253

Number of years all residents had to live with the future dictated by such a small number of Surrey residents?  3

Source: http://www.civicinfo.bc.ca/Library/Elections/BC_Voter_Turnout%20–%20Elections%20BC%20–2011.pdf ( includes data for all cities etc in BC)

shockedface“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”

It’s pretty sad that with nearly a half a million people, it all comes down to a measly 70 thousand who are calling the shots. Seriously? With all this call for change and recognition of issues that have never been adequately resolved, is this the best we can do? That’s like standing in crowded room full of people… and only the single person over in the corner voted.

There are several options for mayor again this year and many very serious new contenders for council. There simply is no acceptable excuse for not voting. None.

Your vote really does matter. It helps determine not just the economic direction of the city,but also the quality of life for all those who live here – for many people, this is the most important factor in our day to day lives. Can we live safely here? Can we commute by transit? Will our small businesses thrive here?

Ask questions, take a few minutes to see what the candidates are all about, and their records in the community. One of our local Newton residents has issued a #newtonvotes challenge to Newton residents to talk to and remind 10 other friends and neighbours to register and vote! Great idea- imagine if each of us take this challenge on all across Surrey?

This year, make your voice count where you hold the most power. Please register to vote in this years election, and take part in determining the future of the where this city goes in the next 4 years.

It’s really easy to register – here is how you do it:

 

More information can be found at the following link: http://www.surrey.ca/election2014/how-to-vote/register-to-vote.aspx

Make your voice matter regardless of where you live.  Surrey is not the only city suffering from voter malaise and it’s time to cure that. Here is everything you need to know across BC, on how to register and vote in your municipality!!

http://www.municipalelections.com/index.html  

Vote in this years election. Make it count.

Posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, Federal politics, Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

This weeks column for 24Hrs ( a day late) : ” No cause to spy on grannies.”

Sorry for the belated post- you’ll have missed out on voting this week if you didn’t get an actual paper or read online- but I was out of town until late yesterday in Whistler.

This week, Brent and I debated this question: ” Should law enforcement conduct surveillance on environmental activists to prevent extremism?”

Last week, news reports that 71-year-old Lesslie Askin was the subject of a national security investigation — as a result of taking photos for a presentation to the National Energy Board — had many questioning the actions of the RCMP.

Concerned about the condition of the tanks and wanting to share this in her presentation in opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project, she headed out to the company’s Burnaby’s terminal and took photos. She didn’t trespass, nor did she break any laws, but her vehicle was reported to the RCMP by Kinder Morgan security.

Ironically, the tanks Askin photographed didn’t even belong to Kinder Morgan — she had unwittingly snapped pictures of Shell’s tanks, yet the company still made the call. More than a week later, members of the RCMP E-division Integrated National Security Enforcement Team showed up at her home to ask a few questions, much to her shock and surprise.

Askin now says she is worried she’ll be in the database forever as having been investigated as a potential terror suspect.

This comes following documents published by the Toronto Star last week that revealed the government, including RCMP and CSIS, has been monitoring everything from peaceful protests to university lectures — since 2006. It’s not just threats to national security being monitored, it’s benign intellectual conversations and events.

Not surprising when you consider the many groups and individuals targeted for simply speaking out and voicing opposition to Enbridge. In fact, the BC Civil Liberties Association filed a complaint against both agencies for illegally monitoring and spying on the “peaceful, democratic activities of community groups and First Nations opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project.”

Read Brent Stafford’s columnhere.

Seriously? Is monitoring and spying on regular citizens who also happen to oppose a project that could have serious consequences for our province, really worthy of RCMP and CSIS resources? With new anti-terror legislation, anyone who stands in opposition to a project could be considered a threat, by interpretation of the law. Organize a protest? You might want to look around for regulation haircuts…

READ the rest of this weeks column here, but voting and comments are now closed! http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/09/21/no-cause-to-spy-on-grannies

Posted in Laila Yuile | 10 Comments

‘ The Peace of Wild Things.’ ~ Wendell Berry

newwendell

 

These last few weekends of summer have been phenomenal, and we’ve tried hard not to waste any of them! When things get crazy in the city, when the news becomes too much to tune into, there is tremendous solace to be found in nature. There are no agenda’s, no spin, no deadlines and no expectations other than to simply be present in the moment – you don’t need to be in despair like Wendell Berry to have a desire to connect or reconnect with nature!
We are so blessed in British Columbia to have such incredible beauty that takes your breathe away. Let’s save it, no? Because without places like these, where do we find our escapes, our solace and ourselves?

This slideshow contains just a few of the places and roads less travelled where I’ve managed to escape to this summer, all on day trips from Metro Vancouver.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Laila Yuile | Tagged | 6 Comments

And so it begins.

It was of no surprise to anyone in Surrey yesterday that Barinder Rasode finally announced that she is running for mayor. After months of meeting with residents from every community in the city, she had already been acknowledged as a contender and had already been targeted by her opponents Doug McCallum and Linda Hepner.

But what was a surprise was how fast Surrey First released this attack following her announcement. http://www.surreyfirst.ca/2014/09/barinder-rasode-rich-on-opportunism-short-on-experience-2/

I’ll be quite frank- and in no defense of Rasode, but simply to remark what I and others have witnessed – I was surprised that it took Rasode as long as it did to leave Surrey First. If you have attended city council meetings or watched them online, the writing was on the wall for quite some time that things were not ok. Attempts to ask questions shut down, over looked or outright ignored. Snippy behavior.

I’ve been very critical of Surrey First over the years and here we are, in yet another election, with all the same issues from the last one still not addressed. A good example is the pay parking in Newton. It was an issue for businesses along 137 st. brought forward by Rina Gill in the last election. It was ignored. The city said no way, not removing them. Years later, with never-ending vacant storefronts and good small business owners still struggling, the strong advocacy of Newton residents finally resulted in the city agreeing to remove them…. but it took three years and another election to get it done.

Surrey First council is the reason why we have such a mess right on King George Boulevard at the site of the Newton Bingo Hall – and Newton will never forget that. The city plowed those slots through, ignoring residents opposition for years... until earlier this year when seeing an election on a horizon ( and being in the spotlight for their failures in Newton following Julie Paskalls tragic murder) they finally asked BCLC to remove them.  And Hepner? Hepner was the cheerleader for those slots back when they first were approved and the approval was in opposition to the cities own gaming policy.

Newton was happy the slots were gone, but now we have a boarded up,half vacant mess that’s a huge eyesore right on the main road through Surrey. What does the city plan to do about it?

Surrey First current council also had to be reminded by a resident in a letter to the editor recently, that they do oppose their own policies and procedures, which often results in build-outs in areas not served by any form of transit and infrastructure to support  new residents: http://www.thenownewspaper.com/letter-we-haven-t-forgotten-in-grandview-heights-1.1378722

And Hepner? Hepner is too busy to talk crime. She was too busy earlier this year when approached by CTV, she was too busy tweeting about meeting with the Whitecaps the day Surrey RCMP and IHIT released the horrific news of Serena Vermeersch’s murder. At least she’s naively honest about her priorities, as sad as it is.

Which leads me to McCallum.

McCallum has had some great ideas and his social media handlers have run a somewhat irritating strategy of agreeing with everything I tweet and retweeting it. They know crime and safety has been a big issue for me for years and that it makes it hard to argue with him. However, it’s fact that many of the issues Surrey is dealing with now – illegal suites, excessive,unchecked development and policing issues-began under his tenure.

McCallum’s history with others when he was last mayor, was anything but smooth. He was viewed as aggressive and domineering by soon to be former mayor Dianne Watts. And allegations that he tried to keep the RCMP from releasing bad news in the city follow him still. http://lailayuile.com/2014/07/31/a-bit-of-history-on-politics-and-the-surrey-rcmp/

This brings us firmly back to newly declared mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode, who McCallum has been thumping for holding closed police committee meetings during her time as chair – and rightly so. I fought to have those meetings opened where applicable, and for minutes to be posted promptly after I discovered many were missing. And it’s worthy to note that while the city provided minutes for most meetings to me, to this day,not all past minutes have been posted.

Following the death of Julie Paskall, Rasode spoke out publicly in acknowledging the city had failed Newton residents. She quickly was removed from the police committee and shortly thereafter issued this letter telling why she was leaving Surrey First to sit independently. http://www.thenownewspaper.com/news/read-barinder-rasode-s-full-email-detailing-why-she-quit-surrey-first-1.974329

Rasode does have some hurdles in her campaign. Unhappy residents  have already mentioned on social media her record of vote on developments or projects in their neighbourhood. Many say she has been just as much a part of the problem of why we are, where we are. I don’t know where my vote will go, but it is fair to say Rasode has been very involved in many community associations and assisting residents when they ask for help in some of the most vulnerable areas of Surrey- something most other councillors have not done. And the voting record will show that on many issues, Rasode, Hunt and Villaneuve have voted with conviction and conscience,and have been outvoted.

Those who know me and the amount of time I’ve spent covering Surrey issues in this blog, know that I’ve seen a lot of things that can turn a stomach quickly. I used to joke that living in Newton gave me PTSD but it’s not really a joke for the people who still live in the heart of Newton.

It’s frustrating to see the good in Surrey continually overshadowed by the reality that crime is still a huge issue in this city, no matter where you live.A South Surrey Grandview area resident recently freaked out when he saw the crime stats for that district showed robberies were up 190%. While more cops wont fix it all, it remains a fact that we don’t have enough on the street to compensate for the population, or the massive geographic area of the city itself.

You get the idea. Hepner is right in her release that voters will have to decide if we are better off now than we were 9 years ago. But she fails to realize that voters will also look to who the candidate is that demonstrates an understanding of all the unique issues in every neighbourhood and which candidate is willing to acknowledge our weaknesses, not just the cities strengths.

What is needed desperately, is a cohesive plan that makes small moves forward in every town centre, instead of focusing on one, leaving the others to fester. We need to take care of what we already have,before we start building more visions and fantasies.

Because quite frankly,some of us are looking for a little more than ferris wheels and soccer teams. 

 

Posted in Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Did you see anything?

*******UPDATED 9/21/2014

http://www.news1130.com/2014/09/21/arrest-made-in-connection-with-death-of-surrey-teen/

SURREY (NEWS1130) – An arrest has been made in connection with the death of a Surrey teen.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says the identification of the accused can’t be released due to a publication ban.

It will be providing an update tomorrow morning.

 

Police say it appears to have been a random attack.

Tragic circumstances in Newton and as community grieves in shock and sadness, police have deemed the death of Serena Vermeersch a homicide, and want to speak to anyone who has more information as asked below.

If you were in the area, taking the bus, getting gas or simply travelling to and from home, please think back to these dates/times and contact police with any information you have,regardless of how insignificant you might think it is.

My deep condolences to this beautiful young woman’s family and friends.

http://blogs.theprovince.com/2014/09/18/news-release-template-for-news/

 

“Serena was last seen on September 15th, just after 8:00 pm, in the area of 64th Avenue and 128th Street getting on to a transit bus. We are looking to speak with anyone who may have seen her on this bus or when she got off the bus.

We continue to ask for public assistance in locating a male that was witnessed departing the area in a pickup truck.

The description of this vehicle is described as a grey/silver Dodge full size, ¾ ton with a canopy and roof rack.

This vehicle departed West bound on 66th Avenue, U-turned at Uplands Road and departed East bound on 66th towards 148 Street.

The male, described as wearing dark clothing, was witnessed walking across the tracks North Bound and getting into his vehicle less than an hour prior to locating Serena’s body.”

 

serena

Posted in Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Who’s Harper working for?

Is the China-Canada investment agreement a sell-out for Canada?

When an agreement is conducted with so much secrecy and lack of consultation with Canadians that Rick Mercer dedicates an entire rant to the subject, you know something is up. Two years ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then-president Hu Jintao quietly witnessed the signing of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement so many Canadians are up in arms about this week.

China went onto ratify the agreement not long thereafter, however Canada did not. Two years after the initial signing, a quiet press release issued on Friday afternoon dictated the deal was ratified, eliciting outrage from the public and politicians alike.

Let me make something clear. The many criticisms and concerns of this particular FIPA are not based on anti-business or anti-trade rhetoric, nor are they xenophobia – all tiresome accusations used by those in favour of this deal. In fact, even members of Harper’s own government expressed concerns over this agreement.

This particular FIPA stands out from the many others Canada has with trade and investment partners around the world for a few reasons.

It holds Canada legally bound for up to 31 years, not only with the current government, but subsequent ones as well.

Read Brent Stafford’s column here.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May stated: “Unlike NAFTA, with an exit clause of six-months’ notice, this agreement cannot be exited for the first 15 years. After 15 years, either country can exit on one-year’s notice, but any existing investments are further protected for another 15 years.”

And here’s where the “sell-out” begins. Any exit by Canada from this FIPA would rely on the Chinese government’s agreement, which is highly unlikely. Canada holds a wealth of investment and business opportunities for China both in resource and technology sectors.

The deal is said to be largely one-sided and offers little protection to Canadian investors in China. Here in Canada, it opens the door for legal actions from Chinese and state-owned investors against federal, provincial or municipal policies or actions that might interfere or impede with their business. The implications are staggering and open the door to large liabilities for Canadian taxpayers…

Read the rest of this week’s column, comment and vote at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/09/14/whos-harper-working-for

Posted in 24 hours Vancouver The Duel, BC Liberals, BC Politics, Federal politics, Laila Yuile, The China Connection | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

September sun is calling…

The ongoing teachers dispute, the Mt. Polley, Imperial Mines debacle, and now the ratification of the Canada China FIPA… September has been anything but boring when it comes to politics near and far.

In the days and weeks to come, I’ll be blogging with more regularity, and on a variety of issues. There’s so much to write about, so much for us all to think about.

But for this weekend, the sun is warm and everything is bathed in that low light only September brings, turning everything into gold with its touch.  Soon enough we’ll have fall rains, and I don’t intend to waste a bit of this weather!I’m g

“Well, the sun’s not so hot in the sky today
And you know I can see summertime slipping on away
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red
But the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed
So I’ll be king and you’ll be queen
Our kingdom’s gonna be this little patch of green
Won’t you lie down here right now
In this September grass
Won’t you lie down with me now
September grass.”
-  James Taylor

Posted in Laila Yuile | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

This weeks column for 24 Hrs Vancouver: Union proposal a fair one to settle this debacle.

Last Friday, British Columbia Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker called for the province to agree to binding arbitration to reach a resolution in the ongoing dispute with the government.

Iker proposed that all matters of compensation, benefits and preparation time should go to arbitration, leaving the matters of class size and composition, currently before the courts, to remain with the courts.

If the government had agreed, the BCTF would have called a vote of its members to return to work and get kids back into classrooms. On Saturday, Education Minister Peter Fassbender rejected the offer, saying preconditions would tilt the process in the teachers’ favour.

With the rejection of this proposal, this government has again shown zero interest in bargaining in good faith – something they have already been harshly chastised for earlier this year in a ruling by Justice Susan Griffin.

In the days before Iker’s proposal, Premier Christy Clark took to the airwaves in her own press conference that was not only inflammatory and provocative, but many also say was inaccurate. It took less than seconds for reaction from teachers, parents and press alike to discuss whether she had simply been poorly briefed or deliberately tried to once again provoke the BCTF.

Read Brent Stafford’s column here.

This was followed by more outrage when politically charged, anti-BCTF comments posted by government employees to the government-run Twitter and Facebook accounts for the BC Education Plan appeared – an action some say violated the government’s code of conduct. The comments were partisan in nature, and inappropriate for a government site.

These kinds of tactics don’t constitute good-faith bargaining on the part of the government and are indicative of another campaign to turn public opinion against teachers. There is no interest in mediating a real settlement because the government is asking teachers to agree to E80, a clause that would have them give up the ruling the court has already given on class size and composition…

READ the rest of this weeks column, Brent’s response, comment and vote at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/09/07/union-proposal-a-fair-one-to-settle-this-debacle

Posted in 24 hours Vancouver The Duel, BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Poll: Do you agree with the BCTF’s call for binding arbitration?

 

One vote per visitor, repeat votes have been blocked.

Posted in Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

“Drop the appeal so children can go to school.” ~ Dan Brooks, leader of the BC Conservatives.

Although I have many conservative friends, it’s a rare day when I agree with any of them… :)

However, Dan Brooks has a solution so commonsense that it really puts Christy Clark and the Liberal government right on the spot in a big way.

From his press release:

September 2, 2014, Kamloops, BC –  The largest obstacle to resolving the government-teachers’ dispute is Premier Christy Clark’s determination to appeal a decision from January by the Supreme Court of British Columbia that found her administration’s Bill 22 was ‘unconstitutional.’

Dan Brooks, Leader of the BC Conservative Party, made that observation today as he reiterated his call for Premier Clark to immediately drop her legal appeal of the Bill 22 decision and instead begin ‘good faith’ negotiations with the province’s public-school teachers.

“Premier Clark, Education minister Peter Fassbender and other members of this government believe it is better to spend taxpayers’ dollars in courtrooms, instead of in our classrooms,” said Brooks.

The fact is that Ms. Clark and her BC Liberals have a dismal litigation record, having lost twice on their ‘unconstitutional’ legislation that unlawfully stripped bargaining rights from teachers.

It is long past time for Premier Clark to move on, accept the fact that her government lost two expensive court cases, and get back to negotiating a collective agreement that is fair both to taxpayers and teachers,” he said.

Brooks pointed out that B.C. taxpayers already were on the hook to pay $2 million in damages to the BCTF because of the Clark government’s refusal to negotiate in ‘good faith’ with public-school teachers.

How much more taxpayers’ money is going to be mis-spent under Premier Clark if she continues her appeal?” Brooks asked.

The Leader of the BC Conservative Party also noted that the Clark government – instead of using in-house lawyers with the Ministry of Attorney General to fight the appeal – had retained an outside litigation attorney at exorbitant corporate rates.

It has been said that if your case is weak, you should get the most expensive lawyer you can,” said Brooks.

Premier Clark, rather than utilizing government lawyers already on the public payroll, has acknowledged that her appeal argument is so anaemic that she had to hire a legal ‘superstar’. This madness must come to an end – and the sooner the better to get B.C. children back in school.

And with that, Dan Brooks firmly puts the ball in the government court.

For a premier who was so concerned in Wednesdays press conference to get to the issues of class size and composition, this is the perfect opportunity to put action to power and drop the appeal.

Anything less is lip service.

 

Posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments