A question for Gordon Campbell: Will this be happening here?

From a good friend and reader, I received a link  this morning to a story that ran in The Star this week.  Here’s an excerpt:

Tax collectors get $45K severance, keep jobs ( link embedded)

More than 1,250 Ontario tax collectors will get a severance package worth up to $45,000 each despite the fact they won’t be losing their jobs.

The move, part of the province’s plan to harmonize sales taxes with Ottawa, will see the provincial collectors become federal employees, triggering a payout critics said amounted to tens of thousands of dollars to change business cards.


Earlier this week, the Ministry of Revenue quietly announced the buyouts for more than 1,250 provincial collectors who will now work for Ottawa. It says the province had signed an agreement with the Canada Revenue Agency outlining “opportunities with the CRA for all Ontario government employees impacted by harmonization.”

“Essentially all employees will be made offers of employment to a CRA office in the same geographic location,” the release said.

The plan to harmonize sales taxes was introduced in Ontario’s budget last March, when Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said jobs in the public sector would be cut by five per cent over the next three years as the government struggled with a record deficit.

Duncan said about 2,000 Revenue Ministry workers would become federal employees under a deal with Ottawa, while the remaining 1,400 jobs would be phased out over the three-year period through attrition and other measures.

What the move really amounts to is giving a hefty six-month severance package to bureaucrats to simply change job titles, said Progressive Conservative critic Ted Arnott.

“Apparently, they’ll continue to work in the same office, they’re not going to miss a day of work, and they’re being paid up to $45,000 to change their business cards,” Arnott said in the legislature.

Well, isn’t that something?   That  works out to a whopping  maximum of $ 56,250,000.00 !!!  Quite a hit to the provincial coffers, I would say…. and definitely not a selling point for the HST .

**** Update from Bill T. – BC will not be experiencing this situation, link in the comments section below

Where was all this ” Fiscal restraint” two weeks ago?

I’ve got to hand it to the BC Liberals.

 I really thought they had already reached the height of insincerity and mock concern during their time in power, but alas, they have bested even themselves!  Yes, a new pinnacle of hypocrisy has been attained, coming in with the new budget and all their talk about fiscal restraint –  announced within days of the end of the most expensive, over budget party this province has ever, or will ever see.

If there is another thing that each of them excels at, it is deflecting the questions of the opposition during debate in the Legislature, and their complete and undying loyalty in supporting the budget that was just brought in.

 I spent some of my morning reading Hansard Transcripts, and I have yet to find an instance where a Liberal MLA directly answers the question of the opposition. I’ve read a lot of ” Well, the NDP didn’t do so good in the 90’s…” and a ton of ” We  know the opposition would rather we spend our children’s future…” , but not once is there a direct answer or response.

Circle talk, bafflegab and evasion seems to be the rule of the day in this weeks debates, and Rich Coleman wins the Raspberry of the day for most disingenuous speaker in the house. Mary Polak gets another raspberry just for being Mary Polak. Besides her complete inability to do her job, anyone who gazes so admiringly at the back of the Premier for so long ( watch the leg tv to see what I mean) needs to have their head checked. Hero worship much, Mary? But, I digress so let’s get back to how good the Liberals are at not answering questions directly.

 Here’s what I am talking about, straight from the horse’s mouth. Here is an exchange between Carol James and Rich Coleman:

C. James: At a time when the government is bringing in more gaming money than ever before, the B.C. Liberals are taking away from community grants to groups and organizations across this province, a $36 million cut from 2008 levels — $36 million. So 800 fewer groups are receiving grants now than they have before. Yesterday we heard the minister say this was about priorities. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

So my question is to the minister. When did taking money away from kids’ playgrounds become a priority for this government? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Hon. R. Coleman: It’s fairly instructive, coming from that Leader of the Opposition, who in the 1990s never funded playgrounds and never funded PACs. As a matter of fact…. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]


Hon. R. Coleman: You know, we made the choice to restore the funding of $20 per student to the parent advisory councils across this province. That is $12 million to PACs across B.C. and $2,500 to DPACs. They can use that money discretionarily, whether for playgrounds or other uses, within the schools across British Columbia next year. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Mr. Speaker: Leader of the Opposition has a further supplemental. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

C. James: This is money from the proceeds of gaming. This is money that the government promised to give to community organizations. Well, it’s pretty clear that they’ve broken that promise, full stop, when it comes to giving money back. They’re taking money away from kids and playgrounds and putting it into government revenue. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

So my question, again, is to the minister. Why should B.C. children be made to pay for this government’s deception? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Hon. R. Coleman: Before question period I thought I’d go back and look at the program that the NDP had in place for PACs and DPACs across the province of British Columbia during their tenure. There wasn’t one. There was no program whatsoever. When it came time to look at….

Yes, Coleman is very good at not answering questions, and is also well schooled in using many of those now infamous Liberal catch-phrases created by some PAB employee in charge of such things.  Read on for more gems from the mouth of Coleman:

” I know what you don’t get, hon. Member — that when we protect children and families’ futures by having the grants targeted to the kids, you don’t like the fact that we’re doing it because we face a $1.7 billion deficit, that we don’t want to shortchange our children while we’re trying to save the economic future of our province”

“That’s what fiscal responsibility is. When you face tough times, you make tough decisions, and you make the right decisions. That’s what we’re doing.”

“We are facing unprecedented economic times. I know you don’t like that. I know you don’t like to admit that being prudent and fiscally responsible is good for the future of our children and our grandchildren, because you would just as soon pay down and get rid of their whole future by the way you’d do business. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

I also know that you don’t want to recognize that in spite of tough economic times, we’ve invested $2 billion additional in education over the next three years. We’ve increased the Education budget. We’ve increased the Children and Families budget. We’ve held firm on the budget for Housing and Social Development so that we can do things for people who are homeless with mental health and addictions. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY] ”

Geesh. Come on you Liberals –  admit it. You trademarked the ” tough economic times” phrase each of you uses so often, didn’t you?  Where was all this fiscal restraint and concern for the future of our children when the vastly over budget trade and convention centre was being built?

Where was all the fiscal restraint when you were buying VIP olympic tickets and packaged by the bushel to schmooze business execs and politicians from out of the country? Where was your concern then? How about the flights all over the country to celebrate the torch run, or the completely insane number of PR photo ops the premier had done all over BC in the last month or two? Where was the restraint when we had to watch him wave his gumby like mittens at the cameras, or spin his flag pole around like a madman? How much of our childrens future did that cost us all?

Here’s the problem with what the Liberals are trying to spin the people of BC right now. I know firsthand what kind of impacts these cuts will have on children in BC, and how deficient the funding has been for so long for children in need.

 My youngest son has a condition called metopic synastosis- a premature fusion of the sutures in an infants skull. While primarily a cosmetic issue, if the seams fuse early enough, the condition can prevent the brain from growing, causing a loss of mental capacity. He’s been through a battery of tests,scans and hospital visits to determine if he needed to have neurosurgery to correct the condition, but grace smiled on him because despite the premature fusion, his skull is accommodating in other ways that is allowing his brain to develop normally. However, children with this condition are also prone to more learning disabilities, so several months ago when his language skills did not seem to be developing properly, his specialist made a referral to a speech pathologist. She warned us the wait might be a long time, but I was shocked when I received the documents in the mail from the clinic.

The wait for a child to see a speech pathologist in the Fraser Health authority is no less than one year.

One year. My heart sank. A year is a long time in a child life who is not even two yet!!  The good news is that he has since started talking profusely, so the consult is no longer needed, but what about the hundreds, perhaps thousands of other parents out there who are still waiting? Development of language skills at a young age is crucial to a successful start in school.

There are equally lengthy waits for other crucial assessments, like trying to get a diagnosis for autism, or an autism spectrum disorder, which can be up and over a year as well. For a child going though the school system it can be a self-defeating wait for a parent, it means doling out the hundreds of dollars for a private assessment, or tearing your hair out and a lot of heartbreak in the interim.  It simply is not acceptable in light of the financial excess demonstrated by the Liberals during their time in authority.

Clearly, Budget debates with the Liberals are useless. Truly. Nothing is accomplished in these debates that actually betters the lives of those affected. Their voices are not heard through the opposition, because the Liberals simply tune them out. The truth will only be heard through repeated and loud protest from the people directly affected by the cuts, and from those around them that love and support them. For those who have no voice, we must band together and speak out for them. Our children, our elderly, our abused – and yes, they are all our responsibility.

I did find a gem, a true, sparkling gem among all the discourse in the budget debates thus far, that evoked a wave of emotion in my heart for the truth spoken and the manner it was delivered.  It was delivered by Dawn Black, MLA for New Westminster, someone who shares the same dreams I have for the future of British Columbia, and everyone in it.  I worked for a non-profit in New Westminster that eventually closed due to lack of government funding, and know firsthand the challenges the city faces. The people of New West should be proud to have someone like Dawn fighting on their behalf.

 Because I doubt many will see, hear or read it on their own, I bring you Dawn’s  speech here to you in its entirety.  It is lengthy, but I could not do justice to her words to excerpt or edit, so I will not. I couldn’t have said it better, and clearly, we need more people like Dawn in the leg if we are to achieve the best for our province.

Notice Dawn starts with a bit about grandchildren, in reference to Shirley Bonds pimping of her new grandchild and what it means to her for our province, as a symbol of whats important. I think Dawn does well in reflecting the true importance of the future of  our children and the province we leave behind for them. From Hansard:

D. Black: We seem to be having a little theme here today around family and grandchildren. I just want to get it on the record that I also have grandchildren. I have seven, the oldest of whom is an eight-year-old granddaughter, and the youngest of whom are one-year-old identical twin girls. I’m incredibly proud of all of them. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

I would also like to give my congratulations to the Minister of Transportation, who indicated today that in her family they’ve just had the birth recently of their first grandchild. I can only hope that she gets the same kind of joy and satisfaction from her grandchildren that I have had from mine. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

You know, much of what happens in a democracy, when we’re all talking about our children and our grandchildren here today, is that we come to this place with different political philosophies. The hopes and aspirations that I have for my grandchildren include a society, a British Columbia, that does not have the shame of homelessness. I dream for my grandchildren of a society in British Columbia that does not have the shame of having the highest child poverty rate in the country. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]


I dream of a society for my grandchildren where the shame of violence against women is truly dealt with and the fear that too many women face when out and about in our communities is gone. Those are the kinds of aspirations I have. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

I dream of a society in British Columbia where a child who’s born in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver has the same kinds of opportunities for a rich and fulfilling life that a child born in Kerrisdale would have or a child who’s born in a resource-dependent community in British Columbia, a devastated resource community in British Columbia, would have — the same kinds of opportunities for a post-secondary education and to fulfil their dreams that children from a more affluent society would have. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

I’m also honoured to represent the concerns of the people in my riding of New Westminster. I hardly know where to begin on the kinds of cuts we’ve seen. I see loss upon loss and the safety net that we’ve always had such pride in growing thinner and thinner with far too many holes in it. Our beautiful province of British Columbia, which hosted the world just days ago, surely can do better to care for, to educate and to respect its own citizens’ needs. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

I want to begin by addressing the cuts to the Fraser Health Authority, cuts that have had a huge impact on the people in my riding, particularly seniors. I’ll try to keep each item brief, because the list is a very long list. Queen’s Park Care Centre convalescent unit was closed on December 31 — a loss in New Westminster of 25 beds for patients in transition from hospital to home or on to community facilities. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Eight beds were closed at Queen’s Park Care hospice centre, meaning palliative care patients will now have to leave our community and go to other communities for care, which means that some elderly husbands and wives and other relatives will find it difficult to visit and spend time with their dying loved ones. The compassionate and specially trained nurses are now working in other communities, and that’s surely another additional loss to New Westminster. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

This is when people in New Westminster still lament the closure that this government fostered on St. Mary’s Hospital — shut down St. Mary’s Hospital. When the government shut down that hospital, they promised that the hospice beds that had been in St. Mary’s would continue in New Westminster at Queen’s Park, and now they’re gone too. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Seniors were also hit with an increase in user fees for residential care, with fees increased from 70 to 80 percent of a person’s after-tax income. This translates to higher fees for 75 percent of the people. What this means to seniors is less money for what this government calls luxuries but are really the small things that add enjoyment to a life in a residential care facility: long-distance phone calls, cablevision, hairstyling, modest outings or the occasional meal out. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Funding was also eliminated in September for the greater Vancouver family services’ Vital Connections program, which provided professional counselling and mental health assistance to seniors. Many other problems faced by seniors such as grief, loneliness, financial strain and the move from independent living to a care facility had been addressed by the senior peer counselling program at Century House. A bargain at only $10,000 a year, the program is now gone. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

What I see in these cuts is a false economy. Seniors who can’t get help from their peers and through family services will now be showing up in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms with stress-related and other illnesses. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

While we’re on the topic of a false economy, let’s consider the Chimo Achievement Centre, a rehabilitation program that’s operated successfully for 25 years to support adults with serious physical disabilities. One Chimo participant said that before she joined the program, she’d been in hospital several times a year. Since becoming involved in Chimo’s life-affirming activities and support, she hadn’t been hospitalized once — not once. The entire Chimo budget was $165,000 per year, far less expensive than one — one — long hospital stay. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

As well, there is no way to measure the value of a program like Chimo that provides fellowship and support for men and women faced with some of life’s most difficult challenges. When the program ended on January 31, the participants had nothing to replace it. Now they’re stuck at home day after day with no place to go for the kind of support they got at the Chimo Centre. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]


At a rally in Surrey which I was privileged to attend, as was the member for Coquitlam-Maillardville, I could only marvel at the Chimo participants’ determination and sympathize with their sadness and also their anger at losing such an integral part of their lives. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

From our oldest residents to our youngest, there seems to be no stopping this government. Tragically, the dismantling has already begun of one of the most successful neonatal units in Canada. Twelve of the Royal Columbian’s level 3 neonatal beds are being transferred to Surrey, thus breaking up a unit that has treated premature and sick newborns for 15 years. The closure of these highest-level neonatal beds is going ahead even though high-risk obstetrics will remain at Royal Columbian Hospital. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

It doesn’t take much to know that having the high-risk pregnancies at Royal Columbian Hospital and losing the highest level of neonatal beds is a very troubling thing to have happen in terms of fragile newborn babies. It’s very worrisome, and the community is very worried about it, as are the doctors. The survival rate at RCH has been amazing, and the RCH unit is consistently ranked as one of the best in the country. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Fraser Health president Nigel Murray calls the moving of 12 beds an enhancement — kind of a doublespeak — but he fails to explain how this is an enhancement. Sixteen lower-level neonatal beds will remain at RCH, but we really have to wonder now how long they’ll be there. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

In a letter to the editor printed in the Royal City Record, Dr. Richard Merchant, an anaesthesiologist, says: [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

“None of the experienced obstetricians and only one of the neonatal pediatricians are intending to move from the Royal Columbian…to Surrey. None of the senior nurses who provide the backbone of care have accepted transfer to Surrey. Even the obstetricians and pediatricians in Surrey have not supported the move of these cases….

“One really has to wonder why the Fraser Health Authority…is so firmly fixed on this move against all logic, advice and common sense.”

That’s the end of the quote. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Unfortunately, the list of cuts to health care goes on. Let’s not forget the number of public health dietitians. They were cut in half. Apparently, this government doesn’t see the value of educating the public about chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity, and good heart health. Again, I have to say it’s a false economy because it’s always less expensive to prevent an illness than it is to treat it. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

The lack of respect for professionals in health care continues with the social work budget in hospitals cut by $1.15 million, resulting in the loss of 14 social workers and clinician jobs. Also gone are the 12 hospital chaplains, who provided non-denominational spiritual care and worked with other staff to identify patient needs. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

We need to look at what’s happening in the mental health field as well. A six-bed regional adolescent psychiatric unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital was closed in November. The mental health after-hours program was also cut, as of October. People in crisis can only receive phone calls — no in-person visits. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

As well, the Simon Fraser branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association has suffered severe funding cuts. I’ve met with the agency’s executive director to learn how these cuts will affect the people he serves in New Westminster, and I’ve learned just how devastating these cuts are to vulnerable people. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

We’ve also suffered a reduction in funding and closing of addiction counselling and treatment and sexual abuse support services throughout the Fraser Health Authority. We’re told these services will be provided by existing Fraser Health resources rather than community organizations, but quite frankly, that’s unlikely when we’re seeing social workers and other professionals lose their jobs, and we’re also seeing big cuts to community organizations that deliver these services. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

As an example of a slashed community program, Purpose Society’s Stride with Purpose is one, a program that targeted the health needs of people with HIV, AIDS and hepatitis. It had its funding cut by 60 percent from $168,000 to $68,000. And I can tell you, I’m certainly not seeing a decline by 60 percent in the number of people in my community and surrounding areas who are living with HIV/AIDS or hep C. Many of these people are at risk of homelessness and also struggle with mental illness. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]


Once again, our most vulnerable are becoming even more marginalized with fewer services and fewer supports. Is this really the best we can do in what we call the “Best place on earth”? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Because of tremendous support from my constituents and public pressure, the New Westminster domestic violence response team did have its funding restored, but only till the end of this month and only with the responsibility being transferred to the Solicitor General’s ministry. We continue to fight to protect this innovative and valuable program that provides a counsellor to work alongside New Westminster police officers in the most high-risk domestic violence situations. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Not so fortunate in getting their funding reinstated was the after-hours taxi service for women experiencing violence, which had its funding cut. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

My constituents are also experiencing other Fraser Health cuts, including a reduction to MRI availability times. We’ll see 3,000 fewer tests performed this year — that’s 3,000 people — even though in 2008, B.C. residents had to wait twice as long as those in Ontario to get an MRI. Now Fraser Health has also laid off 110 surgical staff, so far fewer surgeries will be performed. Oh yes, and outpatient and ambulatory care clinics have now been closed for six months. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Just last week the government quietly announced it will cut supports for such things as contraceptives, medication delivery devices, funeral services and shelter allowances for low-income individuals, children and families. It only takes a moment to realize that many of these cuts are in areas of preventative health and will end up costing the province and all of us more in the long run. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

As well as health cuts, I’m concerned about my critic area of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development. A recent poll found that four out of five British Columbians want the government to invest in post-secondary education programs to help adults of all ages learn new skills and find new careers. But the wishes of British Columbia residents are once again ignored, and instead, we have a provincial budget that continues to freeze post-secondary education funding. I see nothing in this budget that shows me that this is an area of priority for this government. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

In fact, there are no commitments for new spending at a time when universities and colleges are dealing with funding shortfalls. I worry that funding will not even be maintained at a time when many people are returning to school to upgrade their qualifications and to try and achieve more stable employment. Surely this is the best way for British Columbians to recover from the economic collapse we have seen around the world — with education and with advanced training. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

But where’s the support? It was there during the election. It was there when the Liberal government campaigned on the promise to protect funding for advanced education, but now, when it really counts, they’ve backtracked and are making deep cuts to student aid. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

This budget slashes $31 million from student support program funding. That’s one heck of a lot of money. It isn’t fair to students, and it certainly isn’t investing in this province’s human capital at a time when projections are that 75 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

If we invested wisely now, it would strengthen our competitive position in the global markets and, at the same time, strengthen our own provincial economy. We need to provide students with incentives to stay in B.C. and to help fill the jobs of tomorrow. By taking away student aid programs, the B.C. Liberals are making it that much harder for a young person to receive an education. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Along with the need for new initiatives to support post-secondary students, I ask: where’s the subsidized housing for students and the innovative plans to support families while one parent retrains? Let’s not forget that more than 100,000 full-time jobs have been lost, and that translates into many thousands of struggling young families and working families. Instead of helping, this government has cut the total budget for housing by over $66 million, or 16 percent. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]


In New Westminster our students go to UBC, Simon Fraser University, BCIT, Douglas College and other schools that are quickly becoming out of reach for many of them financially. Although B.C. already ranks dead last among the provinces in grants and other aid disbursements, student support programs suffer further in the 2010 budget. Despite an election promise to maintain student aid funding, the student aid budget has shrunk from $116 million to $84 million since the election. This is a cut of 28 percent in student aid. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Let’s take a moment and consider what people in the post-secondary education field have had to say about this budget. “Instead of building a legacy, this budget fails to address a growing problem in post-secondary education in B.C.,” said Cindy Oliver who is the president of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators. She adds that the funding problems in post-secondary are most glaring when you consider how the numbers add up on a per-student basis. Between 2009 and 2011, operating grants to public post-secondary institutions will fall by 0.6 percent per student, and that doesn’t include the cost of inflation. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

“Freezing funds for universities over the next three years and for the foreseeable future is not protecting post-secondary education,” said Dr. Paul Bowles, president of the Confederation of the University Faculty Associations of B.C. “Costs are increasing each year, and these costs rise more quickly for universities than they do for the province in general.” [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Shamus Reid, the B.C. chair of the Canadian Federation of Students, is quoted as saying that cuts to student aid are misguided and that the government now collects more money from tuition fees than it does from corporate taxes. I think British Columbians are shocked to find that out — more money collected by the government in tuition fees than in corporate taxes. “That illustrates how completely out of whack the priorities are for this government,” he said, and I couldn’t agree more. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Recently I heard from one young person who’s doing his best in what are difficult circumstances. This young man is the son of immigrants to Canada who, as so often happens, find themselves underemployed for their education and their skills. They aren’t complaining, he says, because they came to Canada for a better life for their family, and they’ll work hard to achieve that. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Meanwhile, my young friend is working at two part-time jobs and going to college with hopes of going on to university and then to graduate school in his chosen field. It isn’t easy, and he sometimes wonders if it will all be worth it. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

[L. Reid in the chair.]

He has two younger sisters who are also good students and who hope to go on to university. But, as he says, they won’t have the option of taking a night job at $8 an hour in a convenience store or a gas station the way he does. It just isn’t safe. Instead, they will work in retail, scrambling to get as many hours as they can. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

A little help with tuition would make all the difference, he says, for him and for his sisters in the next three years. “We want to be good Canadians,” he said. “We will study hard, and then we will work hard. We will work hard at our jobs, and we’ll pay taxes, and we’ll help our parents. But first we have to get an education, and that isn’t easy in this economy.” [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

As we’ve learned with the HST, what this government says it will do or not do during an election campaign has really no bearing on the future actions. They say they have expanded university, college and apprenticeship opportunities in the last eight years. They claim thousands of new spaces have been created for graduating students. But where are the matching funds and adequate support for these spaces that are really students? Empty seats might qualify as spaces, but please tell me how that helps the students themselves, their school or our province as a whole. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Speaking of students who struggle to afford their education, their platform called for limiting tuition increases to inflation, but I don’t see that anywhere in the budget. Nor is there any increase in student aid funding. Students and their families are being forced to carry the burden of increased tuition fees by going deeper into debt. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Also facing cuts is the Industry Training Authority, if you can find it. It keeps being moved to different ministries. I know it’s embarrassing for the government when we keep bringing up the government’s election platform, but where is the new medical school at UBC Okanagan, the wood design and innovation centre at UNBC in Prince George, the new earth science system at UBC, the expansion of the Sauder School of Business at UBC and the new Pacific institute for climate solutions that would involve UBC, UVic, SFU and UNBC? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]


All were promised, and now there’s just an ominous silence. The government says billions have been invested in new research skills development and expanded trades and apprenticeship money. But what is it they’re referring to? If it’s the advanced education funding since 2001, then the amount may have increased in constant dollars, but investment in advanced education has remained stagnant. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

We hear a lot of lip service about how the future belongs to those who prepare for it, that learning never stops. Of course, it’s getting harder for that learning to continue. Just consider that funding for public libraries has been cut by 22 percent this year and frozen for the next three years, which will certainly have an effect on low-income families who use the public library and its resources. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

The Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development said in response to the throne speech: “Natural ability and natural resources only go so far without a good education.” Well, I agree with her words, but what we really need is action. This lack of action is taking place at a time when B.C. is facing job losses, longer lineups at food banks, higher housing costs and the worst child poverty rate in the entire country. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Instead of taking action to recognize and deal with these problems, this government has come up — get ready for it — with the HST. Despite the opposition of more than 80 percent of British Columbians, despite putting in writing that they would not implement this cash grab, this government is determined to implement this tax that will hurt the poor, seniors, students and struggling families. It will hurt small business and kill jobs, and isn’t that exactly what the government keeps promising to protect — jobs and small business? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

I’m proud that my party continues to fight to stop the HST, taking that fight to every community in British Columbia and calling on Liberal MLAs to join us in opposing this legislation. This is a massive tax shift onto the backs of consumers at exactly the wrong time. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Before I close, Madam Speaker, I want to tell you about three of my constituents. They’re ordinary British Columbians facing extraordinary challenges. First, we have a single-parent father who is on the Fraser Health wait-list for an autism assessment for his five-year-old son. It will take a year to get the boy assessed, and meanwhile, his school can’t provide the resources he needs until after the assessment. Who knows how much this child will lose, waiting for an assessment? A year is 20 percent of a five-year-old’s life. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Then we have the mother and son, both with disabilities, who’ve been on the B.C. Housing wait-list since 2002. Right now they’re underhoused in a small one-bedroom apartment, which they’ll lose this fall when they’re subjected to the annual rent increase. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

We also have a senior on disability who has received a bus pass for many years and has now been told he’s ineligible. His Canada Pension disability benefits are $38 more than the bus pass income limit. A one-zone bus pass costs $72 a month. You can just do the math and see how it’s impossible. Real people with real problems but no real solutions. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

There’s an old saying that if you aren’t sure where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else. That’s what I believe is happening with this government. Its members are lost, making muddled choices. I, along with many, many British Columbians, don’t like where we’re going. Programs that work are closed. The needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens are not met, and we are chipping away at the things that make us proud as British Columbians: health care, education, protection for the environment, and our own standard of living. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

The much-despised HST is just part of a larger whole that encompasses a government that has lost its way and is floundering. It’s not too late to return to the values of kindness, empathy, sustainability and looking out for one another. All it takes is political will and commitment. We can make it happen, or we can do nothing and later say: “What happened? How did we lose so much? How did we in British Columbia lose so much that holds us together as a society?” [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

It’s time for this government to listen to the people in New Westminster and communities all across British Columbia. Let’s make a real commitment to address their issues and to get this province back on track. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Bits and Bites, Wednesday November 4th, 2009

You know what?

There is so much to talk about that is making my blood boil that I did not even need to turn the furnace on this morning. So, without the usual chatty preamble, I’m going to start with  the closure of 5 legal aid offices in B.C. 

That’s right, offices in Prince George, Surrey, Victoria, Kamloops and Kelowna are closing for good. The BC Legal services society says it is because of a shortage in funding- 54 people will be laid off as a result of the closures.

 What does Mike de Jong have to say about it all?Well, he blames it on the economic downturn…

What do the people who use these services have to say? Who knows, because  the Liberals don’t like to sully their kid shoes at street level talking to the average folk. Have you ever seen a Liberal out talking to real people when it doesn’t involve a photo-op? Nope, didn’t think so. But I’ll give you $50 if you can find one.

This is disgusting. Someone explain to me how it is that Gordon Campbell thinks it is totally fine to be paying for a bloody retractable roof on a facility that is likely going to be creating debt, rather than income,  and leave some of our most vulnerable people hanging without legal services?  And that roof isn’t even going to be keeping our taxpayers money in BC, because the major steel fabrication contract is going out of province.  Hey, to heck with keeping BC money in BC, let’s use all that property down there…. Always, always remember  Gordon Campbell’s roots as a real estate man and developer.

Speaking of the Liberals,where the heck is health minister,Kevin Falcon’s keeper?You know, those women with the black framed glasses the Liberals appear to buy in bulk,( glasses, not women!) who follow the ministers around and make sure they don’t say or do anything stupid? Seriously, this man needs to close his mouth. ” Close your mouth Kevin.”

 Just close it, and keep it closed, because every time you open it, you dig yourself, and the BC Liberals, an even bigger hole. First the Saskatchewan surgery ‘miscommunication’, now the back to work legislation you are trying to have passed to force the very hard-working BC Paramedics back into line with VANOC’s plan for the 2010 Olympics.

 It’s kind of laughable though- just read this excerpt from Hansard where the Falconator brings in this little bit of legislation:

Hon. K. Falcon: The Ambulance Services Collective Agreement Act is designed to bring an end to the current impasse between the Emergency and Health Services Commission and CUPE 873, the union representing ambulance paramedics and dispatchers in British Columbia.When B.C.’s paramedics began their job action on April 1, earlier this year, we sincerely hoped that a mutually agreeable settlement could be reached. Unfortunately, despite numerous attempts over the past seven months, the two sides have been unable to resolve their differences. The last offer made to the union was generous, given the difficult economic challenges we face as a province, and it is in keeping with what other public sector workers will receive in 2009-10. We value the work and services of B.C.’s 3,500 ambulance paramedics, and many of us have great relationships with individual paramedics across the province. However, we are concerned that the longer this dispute drags on, the higher the risk for patients, a risk we are no longer prepared to countenance. With the H1N1 pandemic impacting the acute care system and with the busy holiday season fast approaching, the public needs certainty that they’ll have the care they need in an emergency. It is time to move forward in the interests of all British Columbians. It is not a decision we have come to lightly.

Do you think anyone really believes this is about Swine flu?  Or the holiday season?

Does any one single British Columbian have a concern that the BC paramedics are going to leave them hanging when they call 911? Not a chance.

This is about the games, pure and simple. The pressure was on from VANOC, as evidenced by a letter released by the paramedics union Tuesday that says:

“If we are unable to obtain that guarantee (through either settlement of the strike or legislated ‘detente’ for the Games), then Vanoc will be required to initiate alternative contingency plans to avoid cancellation of the Games,”

We all know this is NOT about H1N1. This is not about tired management filling in, nor is it about damaged equipment. This is about forcing these men and women back to work to go along with the grand Olympic plan. Wouldn’t do to have all these paramedics walking around at the venues wearing the STRIKE signs, would it? Too inconvenient for you to answer all the questions from the international press about why this has been going on for so long. 

 There is no reason this should have happened, except the governments lack of concern for the fair treatment of these workers.  Carol James and the NDP will not be supporting this legislation and will vote no.

What it comes down to is this. Gordon Campbell and his team of fiberals have never been in touch with regular British Columbians. They have no clue what it means to choose between eating and paying your rent. They have no clue what it means to rely on resources in the community to make ends meet, or deal with issues affecting your life.  And they certainly have no clue as to what it means to be a paramedic, or to have to rely on one to save your life.

 Watch this video and find out why the paramedics are striking. We have to stand behind these men and women as British Columbians,  so head on over to http://www.saveourparamedics.com/index.php to find out what you can do, and how you can help.

Also in that Hansard transcript, is the exchange between Carol James, Minister of Community and Rural Development,Bill Bennett and Forests Minister,  Pat Bill, in which Carol asks them what the Liberal government plans to do to help the people of Kitimat, where some 500+ workers will be left in the cold as Eurocan closes its mill.

 Here is a breakdown of the questions that were asked and the answers that were given:

  • Will the B.C. Liberal government give Kitimat $2 million dollars in transitional funding as was done before the election for Fort St. James and Mackenzie? No.
  • Will the B.C. Liberal government reopen the Community Development Trust in order to give workers access to early retirement options? No.
  • Why has the B.C. Liberal government refused to put together a provincial strategy to protect forest jobs in the wake of more than 50 mill closures and 25,000 jobs lost? No answer.

I’ll tell you why the liberals don’t want to help the people of Kitimat, and why they won’t. I supect it has a lot to do with their plans with Enbridge, and those bloody oil-tankers they plan to traipse up and down our coast, and to China: http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/05/19/support-divided-for-enbridge-northern-pipeline-and-the-resulting-oil-tanker-traffic-along-sensitive-bc-coastlines/

Funny how despite ” Tough economic times”, the Liberals can come up with a half a BILLION dollars for a fancy new roof on BC Place in just a few weeks, yet they keep making cuts to everything else.. In the interest of saving the Libs some money, I thought I would come up with a new slogan for them.Here it is:

Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals.

We like to say ” Tough economic times” – a lot.

 Now, in a totally random addition to this post, last night I discovered a little piece of my personal history is up for sale on the internet.
Tucked away in an area south-west of Prince George,  Finger Lake resort has been in business since I was a kid,and although the site is more developed now, it appears to have still retained the majority of its rustic flavour strictly by its relatively remote location.
 Those were the days… Growing up in Prince George, we were ‘gone fishing’,or exploring the wilderness pretty much every single weekend, and on long weekends we would pack up the trailer and truck, load the boat, and often head out to Finger Lake.
Back then, getting into the resort was an adventure in itself, because there was no real road other than the one cut into the bush by the old owners. Basically we had to off-road the truck,trailer and boat through the bush,trying to avoid hanging up one of the three on a stump. Once we were in though, the rest was easy.
The only time we spent in the trailer at the campsite was spent sleeping. We cooked outside on a grate over the fire, we fished before dawn and ate pan-fried rainbow trout  and fried potatoes for breakfast, along with the obligatory slabs of bacon. I’ll never forget it. The fishing was always great, the scenery unbelievable and sometimes a little dangerous.
 I remember one year one of the local grizzlies investigated out campsite every night after we went to bed, leaving tracks in the dust around the fire… which made going to the outhouse a group activity! Remember too, that this was back in the days of catch and eat, not catch and release! Conservation wasn’t exactly the name of the game on our camping trips. We would eat as many as we could and take the rest of our limit home for freezing or smoking. ( mmmmm smoked rainbow trout!)
Ah well, it’s been years since I’ve been there, but I have several photo albums to remember all the fun times by. And I guess that it is places and experiences like this that make me love B.C. so much. There really is no place else like it. Pristine lakes, beautiful rivers and untouched wilderness. Which is why we must protect,at any cost, what is left.
 It is, all we have. 
 Anyways, if you are looking for a lake resort to buy, check out this place. If I had $525,ooo.oo I would buy it in a heartbeat, just for the memories- ok. for the trout too!! http://www.fingerlakeresort.com/
Last but not least, scroll down and read the short posts from yesterday, concerning the RCMP member who is suing CBC for their coverage of the death of Robert Dziekanski. This is the fellow who actually deployed his taser, and who is now claiming extreme embarrassment and distress… uh huh…!

Make it real. Make it happen. Fight for yourself, and your province, at a Fight the HST rally near you.

Generally, I’m more inclined to use the power of my words to protest and fight the many injustices forced upon us by the current out of control Liberal government, rather than run around carrying signs and protesting.

 The prospect of the HST , however, has spurred me to greater action.

That’s why I’ll be heading down to Canada Place tomorrow, rain or shine, to help out organizers and throw my support behind the people who have put political differences aside to  create a Citizens Initiative to fight for the people of BC, and fight against the HST. I’ll have my camera in hand and will bring you a full report from my perspective, after the rally.

Despite what the governments very well oiled PR machine has been spinning out, the fact remains that this HST is not going to help people like you and I.

 It’s not going to make it easier to become a homeowner for the first time, nor is it going to make it easier to provide a good life for you and your kids.

 What it will do, is hit you where it hurts most- the wallet. And with rising costs reflected in the prices products and services we all consume, It’s time to find your voice , stand up and say ” NO MORE!”  Come and join us tomorrow at :

CANADA PLACE in Vancouver, at 12 noon – sharp ( Saturday September 19th)

Hosted by former Premier Bill VanderZalm, with the following confirmed speakers:

Tom Shields– M.C. (Former Mayor of Osoyoos)
Bill Vander Zalm – Host (Former BC Premier)
Carole James – Leader of the Official Opposition
Vicky Huntington – Independent MLA – Delta South
Chris Delaney – Deputy Leader, BC Conservative Party
Jordan Braun– Deputy Leader, BC Refederation Party
Barry Morely – Community Business and Professional Association
Sylvia MacLeay – Council of Senior Citizens of BC
Bill Tieleman – No BC HST Facebook Creator / 24 Hours columnist.
Green Party Leader Jane Sterk has declined to participate
For more information,go to http://fighthst.com/


But wait – you don’t have to be in Vancouver to show your support – there are rallies planned in communities all across British Columbia!

Rallies are being planned to occur simultaneously on Sept. 19, all beginning at noon (unless otherwise posted) in the following cities/towns. Please email the organizer directly to volunteer to help.

Don’t see your area? Email info@fighthst.com

100 Mile House organizer: Janet Derepentigny
EMAIL: downtime123@gmail.com
Location: 100 Miler Gear Garage (across from Tim Hortons)

Kamloops organizer: Chad Moat
EMAIL: chamoa1@telus.net
LOCATION: Spirit Square

Kelowna Organizer: Matthew Reed
EMAIL: leadingtheway2008@gmail.com
LOCATION: The Sails, walk to First United Church
NOTE: Time is 12:30PM for this event.

Nanaimo Organizer – Janet Irvine
EMAIL: janetnanaimo@gmail.com
LOCATION: Maffeo-Sutton Park, Lions Pavilion
NOTE: Time is 1:00PM for this event.

Oliver organizer – Paul McCavour
EMAIL: pandju@hotmail.com
LOCATION: Highway 97 near Super Valu
NOTE: This rally begins at 3:00 p.m.

Osoyoos organizer: Paul McCavour
EMAIL: pandju@hotmail.com
LOCATION: junction of Highway 3 and 97

Penticton organizer: Wendy Dion
EMAIL: plantsrus@hotmail.com
LOCATION: The front of MLA Bill Barisoff’s office (Main Street)

Prince George organizer: Mike Summers
EMAIL: votemike@telus.net
LOCATION: Pat Bell, MLA office – Central

Quesnel organizer: Martin Eastman
EMAIL: eastman.martin7@gmail.com
LOCATION: Lebourdais Park
NOTE: This rally begins at 1:00 p.m.

Revelstoke organizer: Vanessa Smith
EMAIL: rvsmith@telus.net
LOCATION: Grizzly Book & Serendipity Shop

Vancouver organizer: Chris Delaney
EMAIL: chris@chrisdelaney.com
LOCATION: Canada Place

Vernon organizer: Miles Lehn
EMAIL: mileslehn@shaw.ca
LOCATION: Courthouse Steps

Victoria organizer: Brad Slade
EMAIL: fighthstvictoria@hotmail.com
LOCATION: Rear lawn of the Legislature.

Williams Lake organizer: Dave Ligertwood
EMAIL: dligert@hotmail.com
LOCATION: Boitanio Park, at the Stage



Make it real. Make it happen. Fight for yourself, and your province.

 Ordinary people CAN achieve extraordinary things…


The key to the BC Rail sale lies in Premier Gordon Campbells beginnings in real estate and land development.

One must never forget that  first and foremost, Gordon Campbell is a real estate man – his past and beginnings were as a developer, and at no time  when dealing with him and his administration should that be forgotten.

Not when it comes to forest land deals the province had been criticized for ( Weyerhaeuser /Brookfield Asset Management deals) , nor when it comes to highway construction and road work deals( South Fraser Perimeter Road and Sea to Sky) . But especially not  if  one begins mulling about the ramifications of the $1.00 transfer of land clause  written into the dubious privatization of BC Rail, which is about to occur on or before July 15th 2009.

While reading the June 27th, 2009 post on The Legislature Raids titled ” BC Rail: Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says Province Wilfully Mislead or Withheld Information About  B.C. Rail ” , something sparked a memory of  an article that talked about the Sea to Sky highway construction. And how the value of  lands along that corridor skyrocketed with the news of the highway construction and the 2010 Olympic bid. And more importantly, how those lucrative properties were obtained.

It was within this chillingly revealing article by Donald Gutstein titled  “Developers are the Olympic Games’ real Winners.” (Georgia Straight, May 31, 2007)  that one finds the connection to the BC Rail sale, and in my eyes, the key reasoning behind that ludicrous $1.00 land transfer clause.

” Some developers benefited handsomely from taxpayer investment in the $2-billion Canada Line and the $800-million Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre expansion. But the main vehicle for creating developer wealth is the $2-billion (including future debt-servicing costs) investment for traffic improvements between Vancouver and Whistler. True, some of this money would be spent on the Sea-to-Sky Highway even if there were no Olympics. But this work was fast-tracked, meaning that projects in other B.C. regions were shelved.”


“During 2002, as Poole and the bid corporation prepared their final proposal, the provincial government was studying various options for improving the link between Vancouver and Squamish. As well as looking at major upgrades to the existing highway, the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Highways reviewed possible routes through the Capilano, Seymour, and Indian river valleys. These alternatives would cost more–from 50 percent to 100 percent more–but the result would be a safer, faster ride.

But these alternative routes went largely over Crown land. How could they help future real-estate sales?

The ministry evaluated all aspects of the routes. One factor leapt off the page: “developable land accessed”. Upgrading 99 Northwas ranked five out of five for this factor, with five being the best, or the most. The other options received a score of one out of five.

One area with great “developable land” potential was Britannia Beach, but its ownership was in limbo. West Vancouver investors purchased the Britannia Mine site and 4,000 surrounding hectares in 1989. They struggled from one failed attempt to another to find a way to clean up the site and turn a profit.

Then along came the Olympics, and Britannia Beach’s fortunes changed overnight. Vancouver developer Rob Macdonald came out the big winner. He’s a strong Gordon Campbell supporter, having donated nearly $100,000 to the Liberals since they won the 2001 election. Macdonaldpurchased the offshore company that held a mortgage on the property and pushed for a speedy resolution of the ownership situation. A month after Vancouver was awarded the Games and the Campbell government chose the Sea-to-Sky Highway route, the B.C. Supreme Court turned the property over to Macdonald for an undisclosed amount.

If the Vancouver-Squamish connection had gone inland, Macdonald’s newly acquired property would be worthless. Instead, the highway would go right by his front door.

Macdonald donated more than 90 percent of the land to the province. This was steep slopes that were useless for development and contained “some of the most contaminated land in North America”, according to then–Sierra Legal Defence researcher Mitch Anderson. Let the taxpayers assume responsibility for the cleanup. Macdonald also agreed to contribute a levy of $1.75 million toward remedial work.

Macdonald kept 202 hectares of high-value land for residential and commercial development. He would get further assistance from taxpayers in the form of $27 million for a plant to treat polluted water from the mine, another $99 million for the province to clean up contamination of the lands it got from Macdonald, and millions more from Natural Resources Canada for a visitor centre and mining museum, boosting the value of Macdonald’s commercial property.

~ now  pay attention – here is where BC Rail starts to come in ~

The Squamish First Nation was another big winner in the Jack Poole sweepstakes. In a complicated land swap in 2000, the First Nation ended up with an option to buy land from BC Rail at Porteau Cove in order to create a new reserve and build houses for band members. This had nothing to do with Olympics or highway improvements.

Porteau Cove is one of the very few developable sites between Vancouver and Squamish, a 500-hectare strip on the shores of Howe Sound running south from Porteau Cove Provincial Park to Deek’s Creek.

Developers eyed this land for decades, but it was owned by BC Rail and not for sale. Then along came the Olympics with their highway upgrade, and the land skyrocketed in value. It was now too valuable for band housing. In 2004, the band exercised its option to purchase the land for a reported $12 million. It then signed a deal with Concord Pacific Developments to develop 1,400 homes. Interestingly, two former chairs of Concord Pacific were among the developers on the board of the 2010 bid corporation, along with Poole.

The lots are marketed as being just 25 minutes from downtown Vancouver via the new Sea-to-Sky Highway. If the venture earns just $50,000 for each lot, after putting in roads, sewers, water lines, and public amenities, that’s still a profit of about $58 million to be split between the band and the developer. For its part, the band says it plans to invest the profits in housing and job creation for band members–elsewhere, of course. In Concord Pacific’s case, some of the profits will likely flow back to its Hong Kong owners.


Isn’t that just something to get the old brain cells working?

Even going back to the date of the deals talked about above, Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight voiced the  very same concerns in this article of March 2004, titled ” B.C. Rail Deal frees Real Estate ” :

“Consider the facts so far. Prior to the election, the premier told voters that he would not sell the Crown-owned railway. What led him to change his mind?….”


“CN has contributed $150,000 to the B.C. Liberal party during Campbell’s tenure as leader.” ( recall this article is  from 2004)


CN chair David McLean, a Vancouver developer, has been a political supporter of the premier since Campbell was mayor of Vancouver in the 1980s and early 1990s.

McLean was previously chair of Concord Pacific, which also supported Campbell when he was mayor of Vancouver. Concord Pacific developed the north side of False Creek.

McLean also chaired the influential Vancouver Board of Trade in 1993 and supported Campbell’s efforts to replace Gordon Wilson as leader of the B.C. Liberal party.

On November 25, the B.C. Liberal government announced in a news release that it had reached an agreement-in-principle with the District of Squamish to transfer 29 hectares of BC Rail land to the district.

According to the news release, prospective plans for the BC Rail site include developing a full-service marina, a passenger ferry terminal, and cruise berths.

The government also announced that CN will “facilitate” upgrading of the Sea-to-Sky Highway and ensure rail alternatives for the 2010 Winter Olympics. McLean was a director of the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, which put together a successful bid to the International Olympic Committee.

The major provincial media continue focusing on the activities of political aides at the centre of the story. There has been little coverage of BC Rail’s waterfront property in Squamish.

As the District of Squamish proceeds, there will be no shortage of developers wanting to exploit the potential. B.C.’s biggest players, such as Concert Properties and Concord Pacific, may find such an opportunity irresistible on the eve of the 2010 Olympics.

Executives with both companies were huge supporters of the Olympic bid. Concert Properties chairman Jack Poole is now chair of the organizing committee that is staging the 2010 Winter Games.

The IOC’s endorsement last year set the stage for a real-estate boom along the Sea to Sky corridor. “


This is why I have to laugh when reading that, according to the premier, the reason behind the clause was to protect taxpayers….

” Government has refused to reveal details of the contract until the bureau has completed its review. But a copy leaked on the weekend showed that the government has the power to force CN to buy for $1 any B.C. Rail line land it chooses to abandon. CN is prohibited from abandoning any routes during the first five years of the deal, however.  Premier Gordon Campbell said this clause was put in place solely to protect taxpayers and prevent CN from potentially offloading expensive environmental cleanup costs onto the government. CN would be compelled to buy such land and perform the cleanup itself if this was the case, the government said.  Campbell said that the agreement with CN makes the company responsible for maintaining all the tracks, railbeds and land on which the railway operates and that the $1 land-sale option simply provides extra protection for taxpayers. 
–  Times Colonist (Victoria), Page A04, 21-Apr-2004  B.C. Rail deal has just one more trestle to cross  By Jeff Rud

Hmm. I think there might be another reason for that clause, don’t you?

Most of all, when you think about some of the lands available for transfer, you find what has the potential to be some of the hottest and most valuable real estate around.  The Sea to Skyhighway and the Olympics have secured and expanded the opportunities for even more development along that corridor and up into the interior.

Clearly anyone can see what connections and relationships were involved in this deal, and the events that have transpired since.

That clause wasn’t inserted to protect the taxpayers of British Columbia, that clause was inserted to ensure a swift and easy land transfer that would become the biggest example of highway robbery this province has ever seen,and likely will ever see.

That clause was inserted to facilitate the most lucrative land deal ever conducted in this province, and without a doubt, there were handshakes,laughter and knowing nods of gratitude happening behind closed doors.

With the date of any potential land transfer coming on or before July 15th, the time to ask the premier directly if the transfer  of these B.C. Rail lands for $1.00  is going to happen  is now. Environmental clean up costs aside, those properties have a future land value in the billions, offering a multitude  of development potential.

Was the real reason for the privatization of BC Rail land development?

I’d say that’s a question only the Premier can answer. But why isn’t anyone else asking?

Premier Gordon Campbell must halt the transfer of any more BC Rail assets before July 2nd!!!

***** UPDATED  JUNE 26TH, 3 PM.

 It has been brought to our attention that perhaps the actual date that may be used for the purposes of activating any clause could be as early as July 2nd, 2009.

Here is some info on the 5 year clause, dating back to 2004 :

 “ Government has refused to reveal details of the contract until the bureau has completed its review. But a copy leaked on the weekend showed that the government has the power to force CN to buy for $1 any B.C. Rail line land it chooses to abandon. CN is prohibited from abandoning any routes during the first five years of the deal, however. 

Premier Gordon Campbell said this clause was put in place solely to protect taxpayers and prevent CN from potentially offloading expensive environmental cleanup costs onto the government. CN would be compelled to buy such land and perform the cleanup itself if this was the case, the government said.  Campbell said that the agreement with CN makes the company responsible for maintaining all the tracks, railbeds and land on which the railway operates and that the $1 land-sale option simply provides extra protection for taxpayers. 
    –  Times Colonist (Victoria), Page A04, 21-Apr-2004  B.C. Rail deal has just one more trestle to cross  By Jeff Rud 

While in this quote the premier seems to have such noble  thoughts at hand, let me point out that this clause  would have the potential of handing over millions – if not billions- of dollars of land from North Vancouver to Squamish to CN for the ridiculous sum of $1.00.

 Property with future  development potential along some of the hottest waterfront areas around that in the end – even after cleanup of toxic soil etc- would stand to net the owner some massive profits.  Puts an entirely different perspective on that $1.00 offload, doesn’t it?

There have also been rumblings for some time now, that the sales agreement in the privatization deal between BC Rail and CN, contains a clause that allows the province of BC to take back possession of the railway if CN has failed to honour all terms of the agreement.

To my knowledge, the speculation surrounding the repossession clause has not been confirmed by anyone- not the media, not the premier nor the two companies in question – however, it also has not been denied. A sizeable portion of the released documents were redacted- meaning portions were blacked out .

 The only place I have seen it written publically is within the postings on The Legislature Raids, and in the comments section following those posts.

 Of course, there is a very simple method of  determining if this is truth or if it is  simply mere speculation – The premier must confirm or deny it. To date this has not occurred. And why not? This was a government entity that was sold. Do the people of this province not have the right to ask to see what kind of a deal this was?

 Why is it that I have a feeling this won’t happen without some legal wrangling?

A reader of  The Legislature Raids, sent the following letter to BC Mary, which was to be printed as a letter to the editor of her local paper:

” Dear Mr. Editor:

I am writing this in the hope that it may help unlock the logjam surrounding documents, emails, phone calls and other forms of communication regarding the sale of BC Rail. This has been going on for far too long now, it is costing the taxpayers of this Province hundreds of millions of dollars in lawyer’s fees alone. It has to stop.

One has to wonder why the government has done everything in their power to keep the sales documents from public view, it is after all the sale of public property, and we do have a RIGHT to know what has been/is being done to us, and in our name. This “sale” took place nearly 5 years ago, and we still don’t know what the sale entails?! Perhaps the government is waiting for a specific occurrence, before making just how much taxpayers have lost in this deal, apparent.

July 14, 2009 is the critical date. The date when one of two things may happen:
1. CN Rail will take possession of all BC Rail waterfront lands from North Van to Squamish for the princely sum of $1.00. Yes, you read that right, a dollar. What are those lands REALLY worth? Why would the Premier even consider something like that, and still call himself a businessman?

2. There is a rumour about that date that will be extraordinarily easy for the Premier to disprove by producing all documents relating to the sale…this is the date of possible repossession of BC Rail by the taxpayers of BC. Once this date passes, there is absolutely nothing taxpayers can do about the largest giveaway this Province has ever seen.

It is time for mainstream news media to begin digging and printing what they know. Newspapers across this Province have forgotten who they’re ultimately designed to serve, the people. You’re our eyes and ears in the legislature at the very least. Collectively you are failing us; above all, you’re failing yourselves. ”

 I agree wholeheartedly.

Until such time that these rumours can be confirmed or determined as false, readers of the wonderfully detailed blog, The Legislature Raids, have asked that Leonard Krog and the NDP file an injunction to stop the transfer of any more assets from BC Rail to CN, until the legality of what has already transpired can be determined, as she urges all others concerned about the sale of BC Rail to follow suit.

Leonard Krog, critic for the attorney-general:
e.mail address: leonard.krog.mla@leg.bc.ca

Carole James, leader of the Opposition:
e.mail address: carole.james.mla@leg.bc.ca

BC Mary has also contacted the premier on this matter with the following email :

Dear Mr Campbell:

email address: premier@gov.bc.ca

On July 14, 2004, your government signed agreements selling BC Rail to CN.

Those documents have been kept secret. This is not right. The BC Rail Revitalization Agreement and the BC Rail Privatization Agreement must be opened to the public before the crucial 5th anniversary.

Time is of the essence because rumours say:

* that the 5th anniversary of the signing activates a clause providing a one-time-only opportunity open to the people of BC to repossess their publicly-owned railway if CN has failed to honour all terms of the agreement,

* that the 5th anniversary of the signing activates a clause granting CN ownership of BCRail lands for the sum of $1.

There may be other clauses of grave concern.

It is wrong to prevent the public – who are the previous owners of Canada’s 3rd largest railway – from seeing the documents and playing a responsible role as citizens of a democratic society. You must open the documents to public scrutiny without further delay.

BC Mary
The Legislature Raids

I would suggest to anyone who has been following the BC Rail saga, and to anyone shocked, angered and disturbed by the soon the infamous deleted emails, that they voice their concerns vocally to their local MLA, to Carol James, to Leonard Krog and to the Premier. 

If the dubious sale, the resulting investigation and the seemingly never-ending pre-trial Basi-Virk hearings do not give the public enough reason to call for am independent  review of this government’s ethics and practices, I don’t  know what would.  Premier Gordon Campbell has promised British Columbians a transparent government, one that values accountability and ethical decision making, but I’ve yet to see any of that demonstrated in actual practice. 

BC Mary has suggested that July 14th be deemed ” BC Rail Day” , and I second that motion. It is time that the people of BC were heard. We have been far too quiet for far too long about this government.  It is time to speak your minds and demand answers.

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate  this interest would be to  organize a rally on the steps of the  courthouse on that day to commemorate the anniversary of the day BC Rail was sold.

Campbell government orders ministry officials to suppress damaging welfare statistics during the election

Transparency?  This is the Campbell administrations idea of transparency….

Freedom of Information documents show that the Public Affairs Bureau ordered ministry officials to suppress the routine release of welfare statistics during the election this year, likely because the numbers did not reflect what the premier was spouting in his election campaign…. This press release from the NDP  this morning has all the details:

For Immediate Release

June 22, 2009


 VICTORIADocuments obtained through a Freedom of Information request show the Campbell government’s Public Affairs Bureau instructed ministry officials to cancel the release of damaging welfare caseload stats during the spring election campaign, New Democrat leader Carole James said today. 

 The welfare stats set for regular release on April 30 were finally made public May 15, 2009. They showed a significant increase in welfare rolls, reflecting high unemployment and resulting in additional budget pressures.

 “These documents show that the highly politicized Public Affairs Bureau cancelled the routine release of these damaging welfare caseload numbers during the election. It’s clear the Campbell government put its political interests ahead of the public’s right to information about B.C.’s economy and fiscal situation,” said James.

 “Two weeks ago, we learned that the government wasn’t telling the truth about health care cuts in B.C.’s health authorities.  Now we learn that the Campbell Liberals directed the bureaucracy to hold back the truth about exploding welfare rolls,” said James. “That’s wrong.  The premier owes an explanation and he must take action to ensure British Columbians can count on his government for the true story.”

 As part of an email exchange, a ministry official confirmed to a colleague in an email that “…we will not be updating the caseload stats on the public website until after the election, based on direction from PAB.”

 James said the increase in B.C.’s welfare caseload, raises questions not only about the premier’s refusal to be transparent, but also about his assertions for months that B.C.’s economy was immune to the ongoing financial instability.

 To read a PDF copy of those email communications, click  HERE : stats_PAB 

Not really a surprise to me – is it, to you?  Economists have been saying for some time that the Premier would have known for a long time already that the economy was worsening( ya think? ) and that there was no possible way for him to keep his deficit promise. Now that Campbell is back in  power, the cuts have already begun, and I think we can look forward to a hell of a lot more as summer passes and we head into the fall sitting of the leg.

The big question now is , what else did  Gordon Campbell and the Public Affairs Bureau keep from voters in British Columbia to keep the big spin going? And when are we going to find out?

I’m back…..although not willingly.

After taking some time off over the last 10 days, I return to the real world under protest. Nothing like a departure from all things modern and obtrusive to put some perspective back into your life, which is how I spent my time off. No watches, no tv, no computer and no schedules. And other than suffering from over a couple hundred bug bites and a river otter attack ( no lie) it’s all good. I’ll bring you all the details later this week.

Funny though, after not hearing ,reading or watching any news for that time, it was a delight to see  this bit by Tieleman on one of the latest turns in the Basi-Virk hearings:

” BASI-VIRK – Defence alleges Christy Clark may have leaked confidential BC Rail information from cabinet to Erik Bornmann – lobbyist for OmniTRAX “

What? Ex-deputy minister turned talk show host for the once mighty CKNW alleged to have possibly leaked confidential material ? Well, it’s not like anyone following this never-ending story didn’t know her name was going to come up at some point- her brother Bruce is a big L Liberal player whose home was searched under warrant pertaining to the privatization of  BC Rails Roberts Bank spur line- among other interesting allegations. And let us not forget the RCMP did make a visit- without warrantand with full cooperation – to the home of Christy Clark and  her Big L  Liberal hubby Mark Marissen, who is well known as a strategist and ‘communications’ specialist for the Federal Libs. ( check out this older column by Tieleman for the A to Z on the BC Rail investigation  http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/2008/12/a-z-of-basi-virkbc-legislature-raid.html )  And yes, it goes without saying that all of these are unproven allegations, yada, yada,yada… but I like it anyways.

And what else did I find upon my return? Ah, yes, it appears that King Gordo is going to table a new budget come fall. ( Big surprise, eh? ) AND, he is not committing to the deficit he repeatedly rammed down the throats of voters as written in stone. In fact, despite the fact that economists have known for some time Gordo would never be able to keep that budget, and that he would have known it was impossible to keep that deficit figure, Gordo now appears to be prepping the massed for an unpleasant surprise. As quoted in this Tyee blog post in The Hook :

“We’re obviously living in a very volatile time,” said Premier Gordon Campbell following the swearing in of the B.C. Liberal Party caucus today. “When facts change we have to be willing to change.”

It looks to me like Campbell thinks the people really are stupid enough to believe that the economy has just tanked since his re-election. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Campbell voters. Any by the way, he also mentioned he is looking for another $1.9 BILLION( yes, billion) in cuts.

Still the biggest unreported story in the mainstream media, the Enbridge Gateway pipeline project I blogged about here and here  recently, was again the subject of summit to address the environmental risks associated with the proposal.  And interesting enough, a link left in the comments sections that quotes part of a column published in the Prince George Citizen is no longer available online. That same link was left here in my comments section by a reader( Astro). The column mirrors my thoughts on Enbridge’s initiative to start a ” grassroots” organization funded on their bankroll. Censorship? All I know is that ex-mayor Colin Kinsley still pulls strings where and when he can, not to mention the new mayor and Council in Prince George are for the project.

Now, the other interesting bit to note is that to this day, I am still the only writer to have addressed the significance of Yvette Wells notebooks pertaining to the BC Rail/Basi-Virk hearing, which was posted to this blog on March 10th of this year, right after the NDP made the documents available to all the press – photocopies and a researcher on site. You can read that post and see the picture of those documents HERE.

In fact, Bill Tieleman even commented on this in his Tyee column of May 11th, earlier this year:

” So far there is no “smoking gun” that incontrovertibly proves the defence theory correct, although there is considerable evidence that points in the direction of a viable hypothesis.

But one piece of information contained in the NDP release of 8,000 pages of information previously obtained by defence lawyers through freedom-of-information requests has not been discussed anywhere so far except by blogger Laila Yuile, and posted online by the NDP ”

It’s still seems more than a little crazy that the lowly blogger, reviled by many of the MSM as unreliable,unprofessional and lower than low, would be the only one to spot this gem among the hundreds of pages the NDP handed right over to the press. Taken from the above mentioned blog post from March 2009:

The  notebooks.

 Not just any notebooks, but the notebooks of  Yvette Wells, who up until now has remained an obscure figure in all of this.

 Yvette Wells  was the  Executive Director of the Crown AgenciesSecretariatat the time of the sale. The Secretariat is responsible for the accountability of  crown corporations, so keeping that in mind, it could be said that she was basically the person to oversee the accountability of the entire BC Rail sale  in her position. She would very much have been the “go-to” person of preference to reference anything to do with the ongoing negotiations.

Her notebooks were released because of the relevance of the information within them to the entire BC Rail deal, and they do not disappoint. Among all the hundreds of pages that I read through, the following excerpt clears any question as to the fairness of the bidding process for me. 

” dilema :

          – don’t want to mislead other bidders

           – don’t want to tell them CN are getting other info –  don’t want them to do work, spend $

           – don’t want them to drop out b/c if can’t resolve issues- we may go back to other bidders.

           –  CN got data from CIBC that they shouldn’t “ 

October 22, 2003 notes.


Kind of hard to explain those notes away no matter how you try to spin it. Remember – this was coming from someone who was in charge of accountability and governance of crown corporations.

In fact, many of her copious and detailed notes back up  the accusations voiced by other bidders in reference to an unfair bidding process.”

Read the rest of this significant item HERE.

Why – with the exception of Bill’s recent mention- has this bit gone ignored? Where is Yvette Wells now, and why hasn’t her name come up in court? Please, slip this one to the judge and lawyers will you?

I’m sure there is more I’ve missed, but these are a few things that grabbed my attention. Along with the little CKNW Angus Reid poll that found its way into my email this morning. Apparently the big ratings drop over the fall winter season, where CBC radio ended up beating them nearly across the board, seems to have left them trying to figure out what moves to take to grab those listeners. The survey touched on items like internet radio, ipods as well as suggestions as to what we, the listeners would like to hear.

Now, the topic of CKNW and masthead host Bill Good has been something the political blogging community has been touching on for a while. He claims to be unbiased, but revealed his Liberal inclination to listeners through his on-air discussions throughout the election,and it appears to have turned off a lot of listeners.  Now, I think a host that has a bias and doesn’t hide it, is great and that can lead to rousing talk on air- the entire point of it. But when a host who has built his reputation on being neutral suddenly rears his political head in a rather obvious way, it turns people off. People want the real deal, not hidden connections and unadvertised agendas. 

 That, along with all the ads, the poorly written and dispatched “breaking news” emails and the same  bland, old day after day routine, is enough to send even the most devoted listener looking elsewhere.  And CBC seems to offer the best alternative to the once mighty giant CKNW.

What do you think? What do you listen to, and why? Are you turning away from conventional radio towards other sources? I’m curious, since it has always been my intention to offer a weekly podcast show here, although I haven’t incorporated it as of yet. Looking for your suggestions and feedback  on this topic as I look towards the future of this blog and the launch of the new Laila Yuile site.

Oh yes, and more on otter attack coming up later this week!


Theodore Roosevelt knew what he was talking about…

I found the quotes that follow this bit, some time ago, while reading about Theodore Roosevelt’s life in politics. He is famous for some of his speeches and talks, and although the world has changed drastically since his time on earth, it’s clear to me that some things – politics being one of them- never change.

This morning has been one of conflicting emotions. Surprise. Anger. Confusion as to why the voters who did bother to vote ( 48% of registered voters  is the sickly number being tossed about)  chose the party they did. Especially surprising  to me was the vote in Prince George. Let’s see….most of the trees are dead – beetle kill. Mills are closed. People are out of work , and are losing their homes, their equipment and in some cases, their families. All of it is a direct result of the Liberal governments action over the last few years, and yet somehow the fools managed to get elected again.

Go figure.

All I can say is this.

Less than half the people voted who could do so in this province. The ones that did were split, but the Liberals still won.Neither party got 52% of  those registered voters who chose not to vote, and those are the people we need. Every single one of them.

Now that Gordon Campbell is back in, the pundits are talking about how the people who elected him will feel when he suddenly announces that the economy is in far,far worse condition than he previously anticipated, and starts whacking away with his budget cuts.

And according to this  Tyee story that ran several weeks ago, there will have to be cuts. It is impossible for him to deliver the budget platform he campaigned on unless he has some sort of goose that craps hundred dollar bills. And then there is the reality that you can look forward to making your $8.00 an hour for the next four years…. But the issue that bothers me as much as the economy and the resulting announcements we can expect from the Libs as they start chopping, is the one surrounding our environment.

I’m looking forward to hearing what the environment minister and Campbell have to say about that report on Run of the River projects that they refused to talk about until after the election.

Well, it’s after the election now. Let’s hear it. 

Until then, read the following quote from dear Teddy R., keeping in mind that these words were said nearly one hundred years ago. How pertinant they still are , at least to this  years election result.

Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying ‘the game belongs to the people.’

So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people.

Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations.

We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us –  not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted.

As such, the object of government is the welfare of the people.

 Conservation means development as much as it does protection.

I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.

This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country.”

And  to Carol James, who in the most beautiful, heartfelt speech last night, accepted not defeat, but greater challenges that remain to be conquered. Never have I been more proud to be in support of one candidate than I was of Carol last night. What a woman, and my hope is to see many more candidates who have that passion join the NDP. They need strong voices, and fearless  candidates who can grab the publics attention and demonstrate valid skills to govern the province.

The election may be over, but the next journey has just begun, and I plan to be there. See you in 2013, in the arena.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

 The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause;

 who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”




Our Living Legacy – something else to think about before you vote.

” This is a powerful new documentary about the campaign to protect the last old-growth forests and forestry jobs on Vancouver Island and BC’s South Coast….”

“See spectacular images of the enormous ancient trees, giant stumps and clearcuts, and the export of raw logs to foreign mills. Interviews/ speeches”  …From : http://vimeo.com/4328184


more about “Our Living Legacy “, posted with vodpod