Om the Bridge cancelled, Premier is going to Namastay home, but don’t fret – official UN International Day of Yoga events were already planned elsewhere.

clarkyogasilly

It’s over, done, kaput. The disaster that started as #Omthebridge has been cancelled after all three sponsors pulled out this morning. If you ask me, it was the tweet above that she issued yesterday that signaled the point of no return on this debacle, because this was never about yoga.

It was a  silly tweet and really angered people who were upset over the closure of the bridge /that this event was on National Aboriginal day and she has said nothing/ that it was corporate driven event that even the premier billed as a photo-op.

Now it’s time to move on to more important things – this event provided more than enough cover for a variety of government related news items.

There have been a few tweets about how now a great city like Vancouver will be the only one not celebrating a UN International Day event, which just isn’t true.

In fact, there are several events around Metro Vancouver hosted by the IDY Canada, and in Vancouver, the committee has been working hard on a great event at Plaza of Nations. I’m still not sure why the premier simply didn’t offer to partner with these organizers, who are endorsed by the Consulate of India.

So, head on over to one of these events if  you want to truly celebrate the spirit and tradition of yoga, and check out a number of events for National Aboriginal Day-There is a big event at Trout Lake, and another at Canada Place on the 20th( Saturday)

idy events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And if you want to find out what you missed while Yoga-gate unfolded, simply click on any of the links below:

BC Govt diverts funds meant for Legal Aid :http://lailayuile.com/2015/06/11/legal-aid-funds-diverted-by-bc-government-in-excess-of-100-million-dollars-legal-yes-moral-or-right-no/

Om the bridge covers for Health Firings Scandal: http://lailayuile.com/2015/06/06/every-absurdity-has-a-champion-to-defend-it-oliver-goldsmith-aka-the-day-politicians-closed-a-bridge-to-do-yoga/

Govt removes penalties for mishandling of information and documents : http://lailayuile.com/2015/05/31/if-you-kept-the-small-rules-you-could-break-the-big-ones-%E2%80%95-george-orwell/

Whistleblower says Govt deletes emails regualrly, fails to document: http://lailayuile.com/2015/05/29/the-more-that-government-becomes-secret-the-less-it-becomes-free-james-russell-wiggins/

Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, LNG/fracking, LNGindustry/fracking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Legal Aid funds diverted by BC Government in excess of $100 million dollars. Legal? Yes. Moral or right? No.

Without a doubt, there has been ample attention this week to Yoga on the bridge and today, the flippant, somewhat childish attempt by the premier to poke fun at the thousands of people who are upset and outraged.

A welcome distraction from the ongoing health care scandal that revealed the BC government did not actually give the RCMP information they claimed they had, to the press and the public. One man took his life-let us not forget.

I’ve written of many of the BC Liberals most compelling failures over the years – and there are many. Failures of policy, failures of action, you can find it all here.

But among the list of more than 100 reasons the BC Liberals need to go are the many sweeping cuts made to the services that assist the provinces most vulnerable population.

When Campbell came in, he made massive cuts to personal income taxes, and to corporate tax.  While British Columbians cheered at having more money in their pockets, the resulting hole in provincial revenue those tax cuts made, had to be accounted for. And to be honest, it never really was.  We began seeing MSP increases and user fees, which are a form of regressive taxation.

And the most vulnerable among us, the ones least likely to complain as they struggle to make it through what life’s handed them,began to see cuts.

Cuts to legal aid, cuts to women’s centres, cuts to funding social service agencies and non-profits. The list is long and extensive. And very sad.

Legal aid took a huge hit.

85% of legal aid offices in BC were closed, including 5 regional officers. 75% staff reduction.Family law cut by half. Closure of the law line.

A complete timeline of the cuts can be found here. http://www.povnet.org/node/3629

But there is no money, the government has said time and time again with only minimal increases to funding.

So imagine the surprise many are going to feel when they hear that according to this lawyer, the BC government has been diverting in excess of $100 million dollars of the funds meant to go to Legal Aid, into other things?

And while it is perfectly legal, it is indeed morally wrong and it takes help out of the hands of those who need it most.

The special tax  paid on legal services is meant to fund legal aid. But apparently… it’s been used elsewhere.

CFAX radio had the exclusive today. I urge you to all read this, and to listen to the interview.

” Victoria lawyer Michael Mulligan on CFAX 1070 with Pamela McCall discussing new freedom of information data the reveals the amount of money being diverted from the legal aid system by the provincial government. The FOI information reveals that $171.7 million was collected in 2014 by a special tax on legal services while only $74.9 million was used for the intended purpose.

The special tax on legal services was introduced by the NDP in 1992 for the express purpose of funding legal aid. After several years the tax was collecting more money than the government was providing to legal aid. When in opposition, the BC Liberals were critical of the NDP for the diversion of $15 million from this special tax.

When in opposition the then Liberal critic asked the following in the legislature, “I’m sure we can quibble about the numbers but the larger public policy question remains. Isn’t there something wrong with the government taking all this money from legal accounts as a result of a tax which was imposed, the justification of which was for legal aid, yet it doesn’t actually really direct all of that revenue into the legal aid system.”

As a result of substantial cuts to legal aid funding including for the provision of poverty law and family law services, the amount of tax revenue being diverted is now in excess of $100 million per year as the federal government provides the provincial government with more then $13.5 million per year to assist with the cost of criminal legal aid.”

http://mtplaw.com/legal-aid-funds-diverted-by-bc-government/

Posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

“Every absurdity has a champion to defend it.” ~ Oliver Goldsmith aka “The day politicians closed a bridge to do yoga.”

It was hot yesterday in the suburbs.

So hot that when I first heard the Burrard street bridge was being completely closed for 7 hours on the first day of summer to do yoga.…I went and poured a glass of ice water to make sure I wasn’t suffering the first signs of heat  stroke.

The timing of the announcement was interesting for poli-geeks still actively discussing the revelations brought to us by Rob Shaw of the Vancouver Sun, that the government not only misled the public in the health firings debacle, but misled the RCMP as well:

“RCMP officers were blindsided by the B.C. government’s claim that they were investigating eight fired Health Ministry researchers, and never conducted a criminal investigation because the ministry never provided any evidence of wrongdoing, internal records show.

Mounties weren’t warned that Margaret MacDiarmid, who was then the health minister, would announce she had sent the case to the RCMP at the Sept. 6, 2012 press conference where she announced the employee firings, newly released emails show.

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.”

It’s disgusting and horrific. And while the government has apologized to the families and is in the process of dealing with the resulting litigation, saying sorry just doesn’t cut it. The sorry’s don’t mean anything in this case-they ring hollow as one man’s family will never get their loved one back.

But it’s business as usual. The Clark administration has had a pattern of incidents of wrongdoing that seems to always end up with apologies that in one case, seemed insincere and forced.

Ethnic-gate, the health firings deception and obfuscation, and lets not forget the recent allegations of intentionally deleted emails relating to the highway of tears missing and murdered women...and the removal of penalties for those in government who mishandle information like that.  All examples of how far government will go to get the job done, or ” win at any cost”.

But I digress.

On the heels of the latest revelations that cross a line of human decency, in my opinion, the premier goes onto happily announce the closure of the Burrard Bridge for  not one, not two, but seven full hours in both directions, on a Sunday morning to honour and celebrate the International Day of Yoga.

Happily supporting this idea? The city of Vancouver and the city of Surrey. And let’s not forget Lululemon, who will no doubt reap the immense advertising opportunity to no end to sell more yoga pants to women Chip Wilson thinks shouldn’t be wearing them.

Imagine the flyover image of people getting their zen on in the middle of the Burrard Street bridge, sun in the distance, beautiful Vancouver…all eagerly aided by our premier and two local mayors.

It’s not enough that Vancouver has so many incredible places large enough to host an immense yoga event, like Spanish Banks, Kits beach, Stanley Park… all locations where you can often find people actually practicing yoga.

But no, somehow the Burrard street bridge made perfect sense… hmmm…when was the last time I saw someone doing yoga on the bridge? Oh, never? Mmm… I can visualize it now… breathe in deeply…just ignore the asphalt and oily smell… breathe out… don’t slip off your mat, that residue won’t come out of your yoga pants! Yep. Sounds like a zen-like location to me!

While the point has been made cities often enact road closures for major events like marathons and the Vancouver Sun Run, those events are long-standing events that bring not only British Columbians into the city,but people from around the world as they compete. Those runners bring their spending dollars with them into the city as they arrive early and often stay to enjoy the scenery.

One yoga event announced only two weeks before the actual event? Not even comparable.

Bob Mackin sent out a couple of tweets last night that shed some light on the relationship between Lululemon, their founder Chip Wilson and some recent lobbying registrations. Click on an image to see full size.

It’s just so ridiculous I can’t even laugh, but what makes it more so is that there is another day long event already planned that is officially being presented by the International Day of Yoga, Vancouver Committee, and endorsed by the Consulate General of India! 

“Raniga said that she had originally booked her all-day session at Robson Square, but was subsequently told she could only have it for two hours, so she had to book the Plaza of Nations.

Asked if she believed the hours were cut back because of the province’s yoga session on Burrard Bridge, Raniga said she didn’t know.

“I was approached by the consul-general of India months ago asking if we could put an event together for yoga day. So we’ve been working very closely with the consulate on this,” she said.

She noted that, unlike the Burrard Bridge session, the Plaza of Nations event is booked for the whole day. “They’re doing it on a bridge. We picked a venue that allows people to come out and be in yoga and not just do the practice of yoga, but really embrace the whole aspect of yoga. Also, we’ll have some discussion on lifestyle.”

Closing down an entire bridge in the city of Vancouver for seven hours…. all for a one hour yoga session… under the premise of deepening economic and cultural ties with another country all while an official event endorsed by the consulate and the Vancouver committee for the IDY takes place not that far away.

Well done. Two mayors and the premier upstaging an official IDY event elsewhere – gives a bit of perspective on this, doesn’t it? Did Robertson or Hepner send greetings to the Consulate endorsed event? Hmm? ( I hear crickets chirping but my garden window is open so…) 

 If it were me, I’d be passing over the corporate driven event on the Burrard bridge and heading over to the Consulate of India endorsed event being presented at the Plaza of Nations. It looks like the organizer has been working very hard on that,for some time, and is truly honouring the practice and lifestyle of yoga. http://www.theprovince.com/health/Welcome+summer+with+free+yoga+workout/11105784/story.html

 Lululemon must be howling with glee at this one. Good grief.

Only in Vancouver….

Enjoy your day – I’m off to get my zen on in my garden. At no cost to taxpayers, anywhere.

Namaste!

** Update: June 21st is also National Aboriginal Day…. what has the premier planned for that? http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100013248/1100100013249

Posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

This weeks columns for 24Hrs Vancouver: Time to look at mail-in elections

As voting closed in the transit plebiscite, the numbers surprised many.

In every Metro Vancouver municipality, the turnout surpassed the number of registered voters who cast a ballot in the 2014 municipal elections.

According to numbers from Elections BC — as of May 27 — nearly 45% of registered voters mailed their ballots in.

Some mayors called the turnout a success, and while the turnouts for the plebiscite were much better than the last election, overall the percentage is still low.

While Coquitlam saw an appalling 26% turnout in the 2014 election, nearly 46% of registered voters mailed in ballots for the plebiscite — a sizable increase. And while only 28% of registered North Vancouver city residents voted last year, nearly 47% returned their ballots on this issue. This story was repeated all over the Lower Mainland, with the exception of Surrey.

Surrey had the lowest plebiscite response at approximately 39.5% — a small increase over the 35% that voted in 2014. Vancouver also registered a marginal increase over the election turnout of 44%, coming in at 45.6%.

Looking at the numbers, it’s still a sad commentary on the state of engagement between cities and voters when a rate of 45% is considered a success.

Mayors often say they’re on the ground, connected to the community, yet one wonders how solid that connection is when so few people can be bothered to vote.

But was the contentious tax issue on the ballot behind the increase, or the method of voting itself?

While the mail-in vote was not without objections by some, many people I’ve spoken with found it more convenient than standing in a long line….

Read the rest of this weeks column and vote at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/06/03/time-to-look-at-mail-in-elections

Posted in Civic Affairs- 24Hrs Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones.” ― George Orwell

Filed under: “Things that make you go hmmm…”

In response to my last post, I’ve received many emails asking about the removal of penalties from Bill 5- the Information Management Act. It’s clearly an issue people are concerned about but an obstacle for many is simply the language contained in reading the act or even going through Hansard to find the info.

While it’s heartening to see that average citizens really are interested in this, the focus on the ‘duty to document’ portion of the legislation( or lack  there-of ) has puzzled many. The issue lies to the assumption in this legislation, that government documents exist at all. It has long been a concern that the use of non-government cell phones and emails to conduct government business is one way of avoiding potentially messy stories in the press.  (Hillary Clinton has recently been in the news for issues relating to this)

Of course, partaking of such activities to get around freedom of information laws certainly would be a purely accidental action in this government, I’m sure. ( insert an eyeroll here)  So yes, it is a big issue that the legislation governing how government documents decisions and actions has teeth. But what also must have teeth is portions of the legislation that govern what happens if you break those laws. And this where the questions about Bill 5 are arising.

This is the link to the third reading and report of Bill 5 in the legislature – it starts at little more than half-way down the page: http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/40th4th/20150526pm-House-Blues.htm

Here is a shot from where NDP MLA Doug Routley addresses this section specifically,and the answer the chair (Liberal  MLA  Douglas Horne ) gives him. And it goes nowhere.And that’s the end of it! Click on the image for a closer look.

thevote

The Chair says defeating the section would cause substantially the same thing,the amendment is ruled out of order and that section goes onto be approved!

What is Section 5 of the Offence Act, found here? http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96338_01#section5

It is the section that defines a General offence under the law.

“General offence

5  A person who contravenes an enactment by doing an act that it forbids, or omitting to do an act that it requires to be done, commits an offence against the enactment. ” 

Section 18 of the Information Management Act states this will not apply to the new act. Meaning no penalties for failing to comply with the policies within the act.

That has many, including myself, furrowing their brows.

While it’s understandable that no public servant who, with no malice or premeditation destroys or otherwise fails to comply with the policies under this new legislation should face an unfair punishment, I expect the spirit of the law would be mindful of that.

But to remove all penalties completely, is to enable and protect those that may in fact purposefully, with intent but perhaps with or without premeditation, break the law and policy.

For example, any person who willfully deleted emails to circumvent or foil an FOI process. Or anyone who knowingly fails to document key actions of government, or willfully destroys any records or documents.

Having removed the offence act from applying to information management is such a questionable step backwards when it comes to transparency and accountability in government, that alarm bells should be ringing.

And I question why they aren’t.

*This is a link to the progress of the bill-note no embedded links on  Bill 5: http://www.leg.bc.ca/40th4th/votes/progress-of-bills.htm

progress of bills

* This is the link to the final vote on Bill 5: http://www.leg.bc.ca/40th4th/votes/v150526.htm

bill5

Posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, BC Rail, crime | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

“The more that government becomes secret, the less it becomes free.” ~ James Russell Wiggins

It’s a stunning Friday morning here on the coast; the sun is shining bright and hot, high enough in the sky at this time of year to chase shadows away completely before 10 am.

Taking a look at the chatter online, people are still talking about the Pattullo bridge repairs conveniently announced by Translink yesterday at the height of the reaction to the Liberal government whistle-blower story.  Well played, that one – suddenly warning the public of repairs that won’t take place until halfway through 2016 successfully eclipsed the story our current government would rather you just forget you ever heard about.

By all means, freak out now about bridge repairs that aren’t happening until next year (that’s a story in itself) or FIFA corruption. But whatever you do, don’t pay any attention to a story that goes right to the heart of not only transparency and accountability in our provincial government, but to the core of everything that is democratic and just.

Yesterday a former political staffer in the Ministry of Transportation alleged that emails were intentionally deleted following a freedom of information request made late last year,relating to the Highway of Tears. 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/emails-relating-to-b-c-s-highway-of-tears-allegedly-deleted-1.3091592

” The NDP has made public a letter written by former executive assistant Tim Duncan to Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham. In the letter, Duncan says that when he protested an instruction to delete the emails, a ministerial assistant took hold of his keyboard and did it himself.

“When I hesitated, he took away my keyboard, deleted the emails and returned the keyboard, stating, ‘It’s done. Now you don’t have to worry about it anymore,'” Duncan wrote in the letter.

When his concerns continued to be dismissed, Duncan writes, he was told, “It’s like The West Wing. You do whatever it takes to win.”

Duncan writes that he does not believe the incident was unusual.

“I want to stress that this is not an isolated incident. It is my belief that the abuse of the freedom of information process is widespread and most likely systemic within the [Premier Christy] Clark government. I would ask that you please look into this further.”

I strongly suggest you listen to this interview between CKNW reporter Shane Woodford and Duncan. It’s 12 minutes, and in my opinion Duncan appears very sincere: https://soundcloud.com/shane-woodford/full-interview-former-bc-government-staffer-tim-duncan-on-deleted-emails-controversy

Duncan states clearly that he believes deleting emails is a routine matter, as is using personal emails to do government business. He also suggests that because all emails are backed up, why not just go straight to the server when an FOI comes in to stop this practice? He claims it was a big joke among staff that because they consider everything transitory, they can delete it. Even if by the law,it shouldn’t be.

The government in this case has now reverted to the same strategy most often employed in whistle-blower situations: Deny, Deflect and Discredit.  He was fired, he’s a disgruntled employee. Negate the claims. Nothing to see here.

All of this comes really comes into focus though, when you consider an interesting bit of legislation the government just recently brought forth: https://fipa.bc.ca/bc-government-removing-penalties-for-document-destruction/

The BC government’s new Government Information Act takes some useful steps to preserving information, but it has a big hole and also takes a major step backward.

http://www.leg.bc.ca/40th4th/1st_read/gov05-1.htm#section18

The biggest problem is that it contains no duty to document.

Recently several freedom of information requests come back with not a single piece of information attached. Perhaps the most incredible is the government’s claim that it has no records whatsoever of any of the dozens of meetings with more than 80 people that took place about the Highway of Tears in northern BC.

This bill will do nothing to stop the spread of this cancer on government transparency…

…Bill 5 specifically removes the application of the Offences Act, so there will be no chance of anybody in government facing legal consequences for improper actions dealing with government documents.

No chance of anybody in government facing legal consequences for improper actions dealing with government documents. Like deleting ‘transitory’ emails, perhaps? Why would a government want to protect it’s staffers from penalty for breaking the law?

There are so many reasons this entire debacle cannot and must not be allowed to slip by in favour of sexier stories that people find more interesting and relevant to their lives. Why, you ask?

The public has a right to know what government is doing. Or not doing. In a perfect world you would be able to call up your local government office and say “I’d like to see any or all emails relating to the Highway of Tears from this date to that date, please.” Or whatever other information you wanted to see.

And in that perfect world government would say  “Sure, of course we’ll have that for you shortly” Because after all, the government is elected by the people,and paid with public funds so we should have access to that information, right? Wrong.

What actually happens is that government rarely wants to give you information freely. You have to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act -we refer to this as an FOI. You provide details of what you want, as specific as possible and government has a set period to respond to acknowledge and respond to your request.

If your request is going to take a long time or a lot of work, then you might have to pay to have those documents retrieved. Those fee’s at times can be ridiculously high, meaning the Free in Freedom of information is really just for show. The costs of some FOI’s make it prohibitive unless you ask for a fee waiver based on poverty. But we do it anyways because we have a right to know, and you deserve it. Reporters and writers like myself file these kind of requests often, either by ourselves or through an intermediary.

In this case, clearly the government had  meetings about what to do with respect to the Highway of Tears. That’s a given. Yet miraculously  no documents were found when that FOI was submitted. None. You tell me how that happens.

So now here we are back to Tim Duncans allegations of deleted emails and how this is a routine thing in the Christy Clark government where emulating The West Wing is apparently a good thing.Except that this isn’t a TV show and the Highway of Tears is nothing to joke about.

The allegations are bad enough on their own, but the murdered and missing women on the Highway of Tears deserve more than this. This really matters.

When information like this is withheld,deleted, destroyed, it makes not only a mockery of the law,but of our democratic process. It’s slap in the face of every journalist, every voter and in this case, every victim and their families.

Secrecy protects those making mistakes. It saves the government from embarrassment, from examination and keeps them from being accountable. And removing a key component of legislation that would make this kind of thing an offence, is highly suspect.

Considering Clark promised one of the most open governments in Canada, someone has some explaining to do. http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/05/07/Open-Gov-Fail

“The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.”  ~Barack Obama

“A government by secrecy benefits no one. It injures the people it seeks to serve; it damages its own integrity and operation. It breeds distrust, dampens the fervor of its citizens and mocks their loyalty.” Russell Long.

Tim Duncan’s letter https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/2089546/foi-letter.pdf

Posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, crime, Federal politics, Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Cities shying away from the public

Over the last two years of writing the Duel, the lack of accountability in government at every level has come up often. But as prior City Hall writers have discovered, there’s never a lack of material when it comes to civic politics.

So why are so many people asleep at the wheel?

The people you elected last fall are now serving four-year terms and the decisions made by mayors and councils often impact our lives directly — and not always for the best. You’re doing yourself a disservice when you don’t pay attention to civic decisions.

I suspect that lack of attention is just fine with some civic politicians because the less you are paying attention, the easier their jobs are. And perhaps that’s part of why getting accountability on their actions (or inaction) and what should be public information is increasingly difficult.

Between websites that are difficult to use, councils that eliminate question periods, and a lack of meaningful public consultation, there’s a strong sense of disconnect among many residents across Metro Vancouver.

Compounding the problem is the lack of knowledge many people have of how city halls process development applications and stage public hearings, or how to speak at a council meeting work. While the onus falls on each of us to keep informed, the process needs to be a two-way street.

For example, cities like White Rock that have removed public question period at council meetings justify the decision by saying residents can apply to speak as a delegation. But they fail to tell the public they don’t have to approve those requests.

That small question period is, for many, the only unfettered access to civic politicians that people have…

READ the rest of this weeks column, comment or share at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/05/27/cities-shying-away-from-the-public

It’s been a very busy week which accounts for the lack of posts but having just caught up on the mornings breaking news of the deleted emails FOI scandal of the BC Liberals, I’ll try to have a post up on that soon. Good grief.

Posted in BC Politics, Civic Affairs- 24Hrs Vancouver | 6 Comments

Ottawa, this is BC calling… Come in Ottawa.. this is BC calling – we actually need the Coast Guard here. Do you copy? …….

coast guard

http://globalnews.ca/news/2011052/second-major-coast-guard-communications-outage-in-three-days/

“For the second time in three days, the communication system for the Coast Guard in Canada’s busiest waterway had an extended malfunction.

“There was a loaded tug and barge with 86,000 barrels of diesel and gasoline going through the Port of Vancouver, and was not being given traffic advisers of which shipping he may meet when he transits through Second and First Narrows,” says Allan Hughes, Western Director for Unifor 2182.

The outage was on Victoria Coast Guard Radio Marine Communications Channel 16 at 6 a.m. today. It’s used to transmit messages to mariners in the waters as far north as Nanaimo, and as far west as Port Renfrew. It followed a 18 minute outage last Monday, a recent two minute outage – and there were three more brief outages this afternoon, according to the union.”

Posted in Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

This weeks new column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Mayors can’t afford to ignore housing

Recently, I  shared with you the news of my move from the Duel and why I made that decision-I’m thrilled at the overwhelming support from all of you in this new venture.

Today, I’m happy to bring you my first column as the new civic affairs columnist for 24Hrs Vancouver! Every week, the column will be up online by Wednesday evening and in the paper Thursday morning. I’ll continue to post the links here as well for those who don’t get the paper or follow on social media. And as I promised, I will continue blogging provincial and federal stories here, along with my usual thoughts and photos.

A heaping dose of irony filled me as I contemplated my first civic affairs column because well-known real estate marketer Bob Rennie was on the radio telling young Vancouverites to forget ever owning a single-family home in the city.

True enough, but then Rennie — who’s earned the moniker Condo King for a good reason — went on to say the only solution to affordable home ownership in Vancouver was high-density projects. Lots of them. And fast enough to drive down prices.

Did I mention he markets condos?

It’s not just Vancouver feeling the crunch — last week I read a story of an elderly couple in Burnaby whose apartment building is slated for demolition to make way for more condos. It’s a story being repeated all over Metro Vancouver as investors look to snap up current stock, or demolish and rebuild with little regard to what kind of housing is actually needed…

Read the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote at: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/05/20/mayors-cant-afford-to-ignore-housing

newbyline

 

Posted in BC Politics, Civic Affairs- 24Hrs Vancouver, Laila Yuile, The China Connection | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

When wrong just doesn’t begin to describe it.

wrong

I’m about to give the old fingers a rest from the keyboard for the May long weekend –  they’re getting a bit claw like – but there are three more stories I wanted to bring to your attention for posterity.

Readers who have been with me long enough know that while I feel strongly enough about the  current government that there’s a list of reasons they should go on my blog, I continue to hold the opposition to account as well. Political hypocrisy doesn’t impress me nor does an opposition that sometimes doesn’t oppose. And if the NDP do manage to win an election provincially, I will continue to hold them to the same standard as I have the Liberals and they know it.

But I digress.

Three stories came out this week that really highlight wrong actions, wrong policy and terribly wrong results.

1) http://bcndpcaucus.ca/news/liberal-insider-wins-contracts-from-the-agency-he-leads/

When it comes to the awarding of contracts in government, it is as important to avoid the perception of conflict as it is, conflict itself. It doesn’t matter that this story didn’t come from a reporter, it’s still wrong.

” Well-connected Liberal insider Larry Blain won $219,000 worth of public contract work from Partnerships B.C. while he was also serving as the chair of Partnerships B.C., according to documents obtained by the New Democrats.”

I have a hard time believing that there was no other company who could have fulfilled the requirements of the work for a reasonable price. Seriously. Here are the FOI documents the NDP received. http://bcndpcaucus.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2015/05/Blain-Package.pdf

Might be just me, but that is just wrong.

2) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-government-fires-outspoken-chair-of-agricultural-land-commission/article24450072/

In a time when foreign companies are being allowed to buy farmland and plant it over with trees to get carbon credits – wrap your head around that one,will you? –  it would make sense to have someone who will fiercely defend the ALR, in charge of the Agricultural Land Commission.

But no, the government thinks it makes perfect sense to suddenly fire the chair Richard Bullock and replace him with a former mayor who has no agricultural experience.

Smart move? Wrong. See ya farmland. It was nice knowing you…

3) http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/death-of-b-c-aboriginal-teen-paige-blamed-on-brutal-and-cruel-support-services-1.3074515

If there are angels on earth, one is surely Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the representative for children and youth. Along with a damning level of child poverty in this province, the handling of children in government care is one of our provinces greatest shames. In particular, aboriginal children.

Turpel-Lafond has taken this government to task so many times and yet every little change is hard-fought for.

This latest story is a horrific indicator of the systematic failures of agencies overburdened and underfunded, that hold the responsibility to care for our provinces most vulnerable. No child should suffer through a life like Paige’s, no children should be living in the DTES, and that there are right now, 100-150 files just as urgent that need immediate action,is unthinkable.

And please let us not forget that these ‘files’… is a child.

Wrong just doesn’t begin to describe it. And all of these stories are just a small part of why it’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news.  You’ve got to be engaged in what matters to you.
Have a good, relaxing and safe long weekend,  kick back and be well!

Posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, Laila Yuile | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments