2015 ends with a bang… so it’s time for the Top ten posts of 2015, from LailaYuile.com

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For us here down on the southern West Coast, we’re shaking off 2015 with gusto, thanks to a short but rather violent jolting earthquake last night. Or was that the sound of Premier Clarks LNG Dream bubble bursting?

Ah well, 2015  has been a really interesting year for politics, for people and for the blog!

According to official WordPress stats, there were 94 new posts in 2015, bringing the total archive of this blog to 1,185 posts!! And that’s down from prior years, thanks to a busier than usual schedule and my former 24 Hours column.

Once again, the power of social media wins again with the top two referrers to my blog consistently listed as Facebook and Twitter. Some repeatedly like to say Twitter is for ‘Twits’ but sadly that’s just not true. It’s still a powerful forum for sharing links and information- well used it’s a valuable tool and savvy influencers know it.


The top 10 posts of 2015

  1. Why exactly, is the Mars Bomber sitting idle?   39 comments- While the province burned,questions as to why the contract with the Mars Bomber wasn’t in use, led to a public campaign to get it back in the  air – and it worked.
  2. 100 + reasons the BC Liberals must go  244 comments – a long time favourite- watch for a massive update in 2016 as the never ending list of scandals under the Clark government continues to face a loss of public trust in her leadership
  3. 50 shades of wrong: Why the BC Liberal government has lost all moral authority to govern #resignChristy   44 comments – following the tragic suicide of Rod MacIsaac, it was revealed the government had misled not only the fired health workers, but the public and RCMP. I and others, called for Clarks resignation,asked voters to demand answers from their MLA’s and said this government had lost its moral authority to govern.
  4. Why I am ( still) voting No in the Transit Tax Vote   106 comments – I believe in good transit but I independently campaigned a No vote- and that didn’t go over well with fellow progressives!
  5. Who’s the Scrooge at Real Canadian Superstore?  106 comments – this post still hits home as food prices increase and Superstore faces ongoing accusations of trying to prevent card holders from redeeming points – something that even happened to me, more than once!
  6. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news  60 comments – an inspirational call to citizens to get engaged in their communities, and see how politics directly impacts their lives. Well shared and received across Canada.
  7. Sometimes losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding the truth II  40 comments –  Despite the incredible relationship with my readers at 24Hours Vancouver and years of developing that, I left this year, to protest PostMedias death of its own papers by a million little cuts. The story behind that.
  8. “Every absurdity has a champion to defend it.” ~ Oliver Goldsmith aka “The day politicians closed a bridge to do yoga.”  42 comments –  Sigh. All this scenery and the premier wants to close a bridge for yoga fo what seemed like a prime photo op for Lululemon,while an international event was staged nearby.
  9. BC Hydro says halting Site C would cost taxpayers $500 million? Not building it at all will save us over $8 billion dollars.  50 comments – we didn’t need Site C years ago and we don’t need it now. So why is it being pushed through despite not having been reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission? Because what Clark wants, Clark gets. Even if it makes no economic or environmental sense.
  10. Complicit… or incompetent? Questions continue to pile up for the premier who continues to ignore them all 27 comments – The premier continues to face questions,most recently for the hiring of Laura Miller who has now stepped down following charges related to a deleted records scandal in the Ontario government. But even before that, the premier was dodging questions and giving glib denials of everything and anything that’s gone wrong under her watch.

Who were my most opinionated readers?


2016 promises to be busier than ever as here in BC  political parties are already in campaign mode : The Liberals have been handing out cash at photo-ops like crazy in past weeks and the NDP are in full opposition mode – for once.

Federally Trudeau will be shortly on the hot seat as the silly season of Christmas and New Years passes and reality hits.

I’ll be back into the full swing of  things the first week of January with a post on the late Christmas gift given to the Clark government: The settlement of two lawsuits initiated by the fired health care workers. Non-disclosure anyone? Will we ever know the full details of the governments horrendous and callous actions that led one man to take his life? Somehow, I don’t think so.

We’ll also take a look at the Shawnigan Lake contaminated soil site and the truck parking proposal in South Surrey – both contentious and somewhat related for the manner in which residents concerns and objections have been completely ignored.

It’s been a blast and I’m very happy that so many readers from 24Hours follow along here now, on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve shared personal moments, struggles, challenges and successes – and I appreciate them all.

What these stats, my twitter analytics and the tremendous success of these stories in travelling far and wide tells everyone, is that this is a team effort. All of you, are the biggest force behind this blog, and these stories.

One cannot succeed, or make a difference the way we can, without  doing it together,particularly as an independent blogger and commentator. 2016 brings another chance to try and get it all right again. Thank you so much for being a part of it.

Happy New Years!

From: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2014/12/new-years-wishes-and-gifts.html  I couldn’t say it better myself. <3





” The year old-fashioned honour in politics went missing ” ~ CBC headline, 2013.

After many long, arduous weeks reading the election headlines day in and day out, it was a statement by a CTV reporter online today that pushed me over the edge:

Classy.  Must have been a buddy of  Earl Cowan, the man who freaked out on a reporter at a Conservative rally and become the unwanted poster child for Stephen Harper all throughout this campaign. Even spoken tongue in cheek, it’s not the kind of statement any political party would want a supporter to say to the press.

I thought to myself, ‘ What happened to honour and integrity in politics?’  And then I laughed because really honour and integrity doesn’t even seem to be a factor anymore. We assume the worst and are happily surprised when a politician or candidate does the right thing when a hint of scandal or wrong-doing arises. A persons name,reputation and character used to mean more than anything-deals made on a handshake counted on it- but now? I wonder how some politicians sleep at night.

I wondered if anyone had written about honour and politics and a quick Google search showed – not surprisingly – very little other than the CBC headline posted above. Used in a story covering how neither three Conservative senators facing allegations of spending scandals, Toronto mayor Rob Ford and his crack smoking, or the mayor of London Ontario would step down even in the face of very dishonourable allegations, the point was clear.

There seems to be no honour left in politics, but more an arrogance of being entitled to the position they were elected to. Honour disappeared a lot earlier than 2013, although it was a notable year for Conservative scandal. It used to be the honourable thing to do to step down in the face of scandal, to show you have the integrity left to at least not taint your office, party or the voters who respected you enough to elect you.

Now? One would need to get a winch around the ankle of said politician facing scandal to get them out of office, and pry their fingers off the desk leg in order to pull them out.

The lack of honour in politics now seems to be an inherent part of the culture, so used to scandal and lies that we now take it for granted it’s going to happen at some point. But what does that say about us and who we are as a society? We keep electing the same politicians over and over again until they finally outrage us so much that change does happen. In other words, we are enabling the same behavior we find so reprehensible.

While it is accurate to say every political party has tricks up its sleeves when it comes to campaigns, the actions of the Tories in this election have been particularly distasteful and frankly, lowbrow. Fear has always been a powerful campaign motivator used since the beginning of politics,yet the Tories drove that point home using graphic mailouts depicting the threat of ISIS in the bedrooms in Surrey, which didn’t go over well with many residents more concerned with the more than 40 dial a dope drug turf shootings this year – some of which have pierced homes and schools.

The niqab issue completely engulfed Canadians and divided them- and we let them do it.  Ironically while the Tories all claimed the niqab issue was about womens equality among other justification, there has been zero mention of the Harper governments own internal report that states Canada is falling behind the developed world in womens equality.

According to the report, this country is in the bottom ranks in terms of the pay gap between men and women; support for child care and parental leave is well below average; the country registers 57th for gender equality in Parliament’s elected members; and it lacks a national strategy to halt violence against women.

“Canada has no comprehensive national strategy to address violence against women, lagging behind several comparable countries, including the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand,” says the draft document marked “secret.”

The internal report says Canada lacks a national strategy on violence against women.

The candid assessment, never intended for public release, is dated Feb. 10 this year and was ordered by the Privy Council Office to alert deputy ministers across many departments about issues facing women and girls in Canada.

A copy of the 35-page presentation — with five pages of “policy implications” blacked out entirely as “advice” — was obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act.

You can read that report here: statusofwomen Seems odd that a government so concerned with women’s equality and freedom wouldn’t talk about their own record on it. And why the focus is on the niqab when many single senior women are living in poverty.

There has been very little real focus on the issues impacting people here in BC. There was no chat about the closure of Coast guard offices,  a huge issue for those of us living along the BC coast, nor was there chat about the closure of nine veterans offices or the other cuts  and challenges our veterans have faced.  There is a staunch refusal to address the legalization of marijuana, when clearly what we are currently doing isn’t working,particularly in BC.

Candidates have been failing to show up for all candidates meetings all over the provinces, showing a complete lack of respect for the voters in their ridings. No questions, no answers leaves voters guessing. And this weeks post-Thanksgiving weeks distractions include appearances by none other than Rob and Doug Ford at a Harper event in Etobicoke – which is nearly as funny as Conrad Black, convicted felon, endorsing Trudeau.

Meanwhile here in BC the Conservatives were caught running ads in ethnic media claiming a Trudeau government would mean your kids would all have easy access to pot and we’ll have brothels in every neighbourhood… yeehaw! Seriously, if this doesn’t take the cake, I don’t know what does… but it’s definately the year good old honour and decency went missing

The only question now is, what are you going to do about it? Research your candidates,ask questions,check their voting records and see how accessible they are. Are they honourable people with good character and integrity?

The future of this country is in your hands…use your vote wisely.

“Good morning Laila, My name is Derek and I’m a very rare man.” or ” How left and right politics are fabricated.”

As a writer, I get a lot of interesting emails. In fact, I sometimes imagine putting together a book one day of the  amusing and sometimes, downright odd ones that people send me. Don’t get me wrong – 98% are great tips and comments and I love getting them-it’s the 2% that raise my eyebrows!)

So, when I first checked my emails today,I quickly scanned one that said:

"Good morning Laila, 

My name is Derek and I’m a very rare man.
I’m utilizing my uniqueness to raise an equally uncommon message...."

I’ll be honest. At that point my eyes were rolling back in my head so far my chair nearly fell backwards and I had a bit of fun with this opener on Facebook.

But after meeting the deadline for this weeks column, I went back to read it again and found something that actually really mattered.

I’ve written a lot about why I think partisanship –  in particular blind and extreme partisanship – turns people off politics. and as a result, voting.

You can find those posts HERE..http://lailayuile.com/2015/03/19/left-right-and-the-space-in-between-conquering-the-great-divide-in-politics/

…and over HERE: http://lailayuile.com/2013/04/21/how-partisan-politics-is-killing-democracy/

…and even right HERE: http://lailayuile.com/2015/08/11/the-only-way-to-change-it-is-to-vote-people-are-responsible-paul-wellstone/

For me, it’s always been about trying to engage people and bring them back into the process. I’ve tried to make that direct connection between what happens in and around their personal lives, to the need to pay attention and get involved at some level of engagement. On many issues, it’s no longer enough to just sit and watch the news and go ” That’s terrible!” Or ” That shouldn’t happen!

So when I watched Derek’s video, I saw something that resonated deeply with what I have written in the past and what I intend to keep trying to do in the future: Get people engaged and get them to vote.

And yes some of my deeply partisan friends will once again sigh deeply as they silently curse my efforts, but oh well. It won’t be the first time and certainly not the last, I promise.

So Derek, good snag in that email. You caught my attention, hook, line and sinker. Health and humour, Laila :)

“The only way to change it, is to vote. People are responsible.” ~ Paul Wellstone


Settled deep into the halcyon days of summer, mid-August triggers a sense of urgency for many Canadians regardless of where you live. Every day is a tick of the clock counting down the coveted days of  a northern summer that for many, is all too short.

And while most of us will use every free second of this month to simply relax with friends and family,others are already preparing for winter – cutting and stacking wood,harvesting gardens to freeze,pickle and can everything they can. Even a look into my deep freezer would show you bags of IQF local berries and fruits, and the blackberry harvest is ongoing. When you plan for 6 months of fall and winter, it takes a significant amount of your time and energy.

But in offices and certain homes all across Canada, there is a different sense of urgency developing as political parties move into high gear in the wake of  Prime Minister Harper’s early election call on August 2nd. And while most of my followers will already know this, I also know that there are thousands more Canadians who truly are not aware yet that an election is even happening this year,sad as it is.

This will be one of the longest and most expensive election campaigns in the history of Canadian politics,and every political party would be wise to pace themselves to avoid over-bombarding Canadians, which is likely to increase voter apathy. Indeed voter apathy is perhaps an even bigger threat to the future of this country than Harper when you look at the turnout in recent federal elections.

In 2011, the population of Canada was 31,612,897 million people. Only 24,257,592 were registered to vote and on the electors list.

And of those electors, only 14,823,408 people actually took the time to vote- it works out to 61.1%. A look back at the chart from Elections Canada shows the low voter turnout still is a really big issue.


Now don’t get me wrong – I am firmly in the ‘Harper needs to go’ camp – from the treatment of veterans to silencing of scientists, from his turnabout on the Chinese government to ‘quiet’ meetings with propaganda ministers and now Bill C51 -there is ample reason for pragmatic if not partisan objection to his governments actions and policies.

But when only 60% of people who are registered to vote actually do, it brings a perspective to the campaigns I think is often overlooked in the quest to win. Let me tell you why I feel that way.

I recently posted a link to http://www.votetogether.ca/ to my Facebook page and asked: “If the goal of this election is to defeat the Harper government, would you vote for the candidate in your riding that is most likely to defeat a Conservative, if that candidate was not of the party you are a member of, or support? ”

Surprisingly, for the very few willing to even answer that question, even fewer were honest enough to admit that they would not. So is this about getting rid of Harper, or is this about power?

The premise of the VoteTogether initiative is to vote strategically to oust the Conservatives, and they promote voting for whichever candidate has the best chance of doing so in your riding,regardless of the party they represent.

Now, if all the rhetoric we have heard about Stop Harper were true and meaningful, one would think the federal Liberals and NDP must come to some sort of an agreement to ensure that happens. But no, that’s not happening.

Why? Because while both parties will ultimately resort to some kind of gobbledygook about not being able to support the policies of the other and how they alone are the only viable option to undo the mess the Conservatives have created, it’s really about power.  The intense yearning for power not only at the top but in the backrooms behind the top. Trudeau has nixed an alliance outright while Mulcair says while they are aiming to replace the Conservatives,when the votes go down he will not support a Tory minority.

But why not unite now, to get the job done before the election?

This is something touched on in a column by none other than Martyn Brown, who was lauded and elevated to near celebrity status by those on the left recently,for his columns bashing Christy Clark and her LNG dreams.

But today- not surprisingly -those same people are silent as his recent post heralding Green Party Elizabeth Mays performance in the Macleans debate, strikes a nerve for some and appeals to others.

For me, this is where he gets to the heart of the matter, because I too found May’s debate performance compelling:

May has also proved that her participation stands to change the entire tenor and content of any debate that might take place—and decidedly for the better.

Set aside that, as the only woman in the field, she alone stands to temper her competitors’ macho tussle of ideas and insults with some much-needed gender balance and a unique perspective.

Why the Globe is prepared to discount that imperative is as mystifying as it is glaringly inexcusable.

The larger benefit of May’s involvement is the option for change and democratic representation that her party stands to offer Canadians. It is an option that will be aided by her participation in the debates and that will be unconscionably suppressed if she is excluded.

Whatever the practical challenges may be in translating the Green party’s ideas into action and its often-lofty positions into workable policies, May’s views are important for another less obvious reason.

They remind us all that idealism still matters in politics.

Her positions are grounded in unyielding beliefs and values of what is right and what is wrong. They are often anything but “political” in the typical partisan sense, insofar as they tend to marginalize her own voter support base, as they also transcend party lines and their associated ideologies.

The trouble with being on the cusp of power—as the NDP now is, in lockstep with the Liberals and Conservatives—is that the power game becomes the only thing that really matters.

Ideals get thrown out the window when push comes to shove in the battle to play it safe with positions that always have the polls as their main object of focus.

The last place you want to be, if you want to be the last person left standing, is out on a ledge like May, defending your ideals with an uncompromising commitment to stand fast for right over wrong, come what may.

The parties and their leaders all tend to speak in code to their prospective supporters by saying enough to win them over and by saying nothing that is not open to constructive interpretation in wooing any target audience.

This is the real value of May’s involvement. She is inclined to say exactly what she means, as if it really matters.

And some of what she says speaks directly to voters like me, who long to hear politicians stake their claim in ideals that are more concerned with right and wrong than with the narrow confines of their orthodox ideologies….”

“The power game becomes the only thing that matters…” 

And sadly, this is what I see in the comments of some friends and acquaintances who speak to me now as if I too were the ‘enemy’ simply because I believe Canadians not only have a right to choose who to vote for, but that they deserve to hear what May has to say.

And I voice that. I’m not naïve, but nor am I a party member. I’m a concerned Canadian with no political affiliation,just like hundreds of thousands of other voters. So this matters to me.

I’ve been told that because the Green candidates aren’t ‘whipped’, they have to represent their constituents views regardless of what that is( like that’s a bad thing?)  – from a Liberal supporter.

That Green’s are actually Conservatives and vote Right – from an NDP supporter.

And all the while, the NDP and the Liberals keep telling people why they shouldn’t vote for the other parties, instead of telling people what they can do differently. And supporters of both are mocking the decisions and opinions of those who are undecided but maybe leaning towards their Green candidate?

Gee, do you think that after 3 months of this going on, we have the potential to see more voter apathy than ever? That the undecided, non-party member voters who don’t spend every moment following politics or even the news for that matter, will just say: “Forget it!” yet again and lead us to another Harper government? Perhaps – only time will tell.

Call me crazy, but telling someone their vote is wrong, that their opinion is stupid or doesn’t matter, might not be the best way to get people to vote. Something for those ‘influencers’ out there on social media to think about, if not the party brass.

I very much enjoy the diversity of opinions and thoughts of all my partisan friends whether I agree or not, but partisanship alone isn’t the problem. It’s the inability or the unwillingness to look beyond the confines of that partisan view to a bigger picture.  Please, when engaging potential voters, think about what your goal is for Canada- and not just your party. An increase in voter turnout is good for all of us.

Indeed,apathy is the biggest threat to democracy  and the Conservatives know this well…Don’t unwittingly feed the beast that allows them to get re-elected, in your zeal to unseat them.

“The job facing voters… in the days and years to come is to determine which hearts, minds and souls command those qualities best suited to unify a country rather than further divide it, to heal the wounds of a nation as opposed to aggravate its injuries, and to secure for the next generation a legacy of choices based on informed awareness rather than one of reactions based on unknowing fear.” ~ Abherjhani


“If Leaders fail, the people will lead.”

“People want responsible leadership. On big issues, they are not going to sit in their homes. They will act and press for action.”

Kofi Annan

It’s a hard job being a politician.

From the moment you announce you are running until after your career ends, everyone wants a piece of you.

Questions, questions and more questions! All these bloody questions! And accountability- you mean I have to be accountable too? Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Sometimes, it’s enough to make even the most seasoned politician want to duck for cover and there lies the difference between a real leader and someone who just likes the position and title.

The news today brought forth a crisis for Vancouverites  in the form of leaked bunker crude/fuel from a grain tanker in English Bay.  It  reportedly started around 5 pm on Wednesday and with all the pandering of pipelines, LNG and the resulting tanker traffic in coastal waters, one would have expected something close to a world-class response.

In fact, the reality was far from it and should have all British Columbian’s concerned.

Bunker fuel is a nasty substance that is incredibly toxic to animal, human and aquatic life…and it is the lifeblood of commercial shipping.This is a very busy harbour, and at any given time you can see many ships in English Bay waiting to offload or pick up cargo.

How did it leak? No one knows and at last report the company that owns the ship suspected as the source, denies all responsibility for it. ( a good friend who is a long time mariner put forth his theory that it may have been human error, with someone operating the bilge pump incorrectly)

City of Vancouver officials claim they weren’t advised for 12 hours of the spill and despite official statements the spill has been contained, many are left wondering what exactly that means. Photos available online show the slick moving towards Burrard Inlet and the changing tide peaking at around 11 pm this evening is sure to leave its mark as it departs.

Of course, one can’t help but wonder how all of this would have been different had the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base had still been open and could have responded within minutes. Harper defended the closure back in 2013 despite incredible opposition – I’d like to know if he would still defend that decision today.

The fallout from this should and must be severe.

A call into the Simi Sara show today from former Kits Coast Guard Base Commander Fred Moxey, was chilling:

”  …former Kits base commander Fred Moxey, who told us that  a special pollution response boat formerly stationed at the now shuttered Kitsilano Coast Guard base is sitting empty with no crew at Sea Island base in Richmond. According to Moxey, only a rubber boat from the Coast Guard responded to the English Bay oil spill last night. Moxey also told us the Osprey formerly stationed at Kits was dismantled and sold off then when the base was closed. Moxey says if Kits Base was still active today crews would have been on scene at the spill in six minutes with the equipment to deal with the situation.”

Way to go Harper.

I know you don’t live here, but you really do spend a fair bit of time out here looking for votes,so why not just try faking that you’re still into us. After all, we are the Gateway to Asia-Pacific trade!! Oh wait.. darn… that fouled harbour and all..oops.

Even  James Moore, federal Minister of Industry, supported the closure,serving up some attitude directed back at Vancouver city officials objections: 

” The reality is that the City of Vancouver — and all British Columbians, as a matter of fact — have more Coast Guard resources, have better coast guard protection, than any other port on any other coast in all of the country, even with the changes at Kits,” maintains Moore.

His defence comes even as rescue coordination centre staff say the closure could endanger lives.”

Silly us for worrying. It seem like they forgot about all the other vital functions the wonderful men and women serving in our Coast Guard do, least of which is responding to front line spills like this one. As I said, this is a very busy harbour and we need the ability to respond in minutes,not hours.

And so now we have bunker fuel, thick and nasty, fouling some beaches around English Bay, no one accepting responsibility for it and surprise surprise, as of this posting-more than 24 hours post-spill, neither Premier Clark or Prime Minister Harper has spoken.

Mary Polak, BC’s environment minister is deftly pushing all responsibility to the feds as the lead agency on twitter, saying they will co-ordinate the land operations.

And what did the people do?

Despite the city of Vancouver telling people to stay away for now because of the toxicity of this bunker fuel – please heed these warnings-  some Vancouverites not happy to wait for the leadership to arrive took the matter into their own hands.

Armed with buckets and wipes, there are photos on social media of them wiping brown crud off the rocks at the beach yesterday. People have been asking how they can volunteer, what they can do to help. They are on it. There is a veritable army of volunteers ready to go should our leaders bring the call to action.

But where are they? Gregor Robertson is cutting his vacation on the island short to come home. Christy Clarks media reps said she wont be commenting and Harper? I don’t know. captioncontest

Even the young Trudeau with locks so glossy one might have thought he swam through that oily sheen to save a sea lion, had the wits to say something coherent and appropriate- or at least his media handler did:


It’s during times like this, when there are more questions than answers, when people are upset,agitated and rightfully concerned, that the test of real leadership arrives.

A real leader doesn’t continue on their day and wait for updates from staff-a true leader initiates communication, assesses the situation and makes themselves visible in some form to the public. Even on vacation. That is what we elected you to do.

British Columbia has a face and for many, it’s Vancouver that makes the first impression. Tourism is a money maker and so is a clean harbour where in recent weeks orca’s have been filmed playing in English Bay.

When things go wrong, people look to their leaders for  their reaction and for their guidance because leadership isn’t just a position, it’s an action.

 If today’s lack of response from our leaders is any indicator of what we can expect in a more serious incident, you are on your own, my friends.

Frankly, I have more faith in you, than I do in them.

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Broken Temporary Foreign Worker Program needs overhaul to protect Canadians and foreign workers

The winner of last week’s duel on e-cigarettes was Brent with 53%.

This week’s topic:

Should the federal government temporarily suspend the entire Temporary Foreign Worker Program?

Earlier this spring, Brent and I debated whether or not temporary foreign workers should be allowed in B.C.’s liquefied natural gas industry. At that time, I made it clear I don’t support this program with so many British Columbians out of work. Little did either of us know at that time what a tempest this issue was to become.

The same weekend that our Duel went to press, news headlines broke with the story of some Vancouver Island McDonald’s allegedly abusing the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program, followed quickly by similar revelations across the country. Skip to today and the country is now hearing complaints from highly skilled helicopter pilots claiming they are unable to find work because of the same program.

I suspect what is now known may only be the tip of the iceberg. Flagrant abuses of the program have only become public because of company whistleblowers — the possibility exists that many more companies are abusing this program since the government hasn’t been applying the proper checks and balances this program desperately requires.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

In response to the revelations of rampant abuse in the restaurant industry, the government instituted a moratorium for TFWs in the food sector — a move that has garnered criticism as some restaurants say they might have to close due to a lack of staff. The government has promised to crack down and tighten up the program. I think what needs to happen is a temporary suspension of the entire program so it can be revamped — or scrapped…

READ the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote for who you think should win this week at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/05/04/broken-temporary-foreign-worker-program-needs-overhaul-to-protect-canadians-and-foreign-workers


Links and stories you might have missed: Critical state of rail infrastructure, BC Hydro debt scandal and SNC Lavalin

“I’m just catching up with yesterday, by tomorrow I should be ready for today : )”

                    – unknown

To be honest, I totally relate this summer!! Busy, busy, busy and most writing is getting done pre-dawn or post- sunset and frankly, when it’s 30 degrees and humid – it just isn’t going to happen. :)

However, I have come across several items that are important, so let’s take a look at them this morning and I welcome you to share if you like, with friends and colleagues.
I was like many, horrified at the accident and aftermath of the Quebec train derailment that resulted in the loss of life, heritage and infrastructure in  Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

This accident of course, has resulted in the discussion of whether or not a similar scenario could occur in B.C., and what the impact of such a potential derailment could be. Considering many harmful and lethal agents are transported by rail, this is a valid question.

In fact, this has always been a concern of mine because I live in between two major rail lines, in particular when I was told by a rail man that the dangerous cargo was transported via rail prior to 6 am not far from my home.

This video is a must watch. I’m not a structural engineer or metal expert, but it would seem to me that shoring up a bridge with wood beams would be a sign it’s time to replace the damn structure. Again, as with many things, the human component is often a cause of failure. We know structures can rust and this bridge has areas that are completely rusted away, and areas where rust has created holes in the structure. We know infrastructure needs maintenance.  However, when that doesn’t happen, the results could potentially be disastrous.  This video raises some serious questions as to what kind of maintenance is being done to critical rail infrastructure, because it appears to show very little maintenance has been done on this bridge at all.

After the video started making the rounds ( 1343 views as of the time of this post ) CBC’s Dan Burritt took an engineer from UBC out to the site and had a look and the engineer was appalled. BNSF states that despite the holes and condition of the bridge, it is safe. However, there are plans to replace it soon as soon as the required permits are in place.http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/BC/ID/2396341982/

The question is now, how many other structures exist out there, in the same condition as this one? If you know of a rail bridge in similar condition, let me know and send me video or photos, with details on the location and owner of the rail line.


Next up, let’s take a look at the looming disaster known as BC Hydro.. the BC Hydro debt scandal. And yes, a scandal it does indeed make.

Credit: Ken Paisley, 2013
Credit: Ken Paisley, 2013

Despite people like Erik Andersen, Rafe Mair, and Damien Gillis detailing it at length  for quite a long time –  sadly a large portion of British Columbians remain unaware of the looming crisis:


Wow… and if that wasn’t enough to get you going, here is another reality check – a must watch also from Damien Gillis.

No kidding. And of course in the news recently was the fact that BC Hydro is not prepared for any natural disaster which could leave parts of the province without power for months. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/07/04/bc-hydro-rate-increase.html


SNC-Lavalin, the firm that has been banned from bidding on Word Bank funding projects, has been given TT$2.2 million by the Trinidad and Tobago government to design the Penal hospital – and there are still questions about the Canadian governments involvement and influence in the process. http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-07-10/snc-lavalin-gets-22m-design-hospital-penal

“In an e-mail, Stapleton-Whyms said there were no ongoing negotiations between Udecott and the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) over the contract. The $1 billion hospital is expected to be built at Clarke Road, Penal.

Minister of Housing Dr Roodal Moonilal said Government still reserved the right to reject the contract if the CCC failed to explain on what grounds SNC-Lavalin was chosen.

“As stated in the Framework Arrangement between our respective governments, CCC confirms that it has engaged SNC- Lavalin Constructors International Inc, one of the leading engineering and construction groups in the world, as its Canadian supplier to design, engineer, procure, construct and commission the hospital in the town of Penal.”

This story has been making news since June when it was announced that  Trinidad and Tobago government officials were investigating if the Canadian government had done the appropriate due diligence in selecting SNC Lavalin as the contracter to design and build the hospital . 

SNC-Lavalin was selected by the  Canadian Commercial Corporation, which is a crown corporation of the federal government, which  helps private business win international contracts. News reports allege the TT government had no choice or input into the selection of the contracter for the hospital project, which is being made possible in part by a loan from the Canadian government.

Both the Canadian Commercial Corporation and SNC- Lavalin disputed these claims to Globalnews recently ( my inquiries were not answered) :

“Kurt Ramlal, CEO of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago, told the paper that Trinidad is not responsible for SNC-Lavalin’s involvement in the potential deal. He told the Guardian, “I think all questions that relate to the contract must be directed to the Canadian government because we had no control at all on the tendering or selection of this contract.”

Both CCC and SNC-Lavalin dispute these claims. They say no deal has been signed and if Trinidad does not want to do business with SNC-Lavalin it doesn’t have to sign the contract.”

Of course, what makes all of this very interesting to me, is this:  ”

Arthur Porter, the Conservative-appointed former head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, is accused of accepting bribes in connection with the awarding of a $1.3-billion contract to SNC-Lavalin to build a hospital in Montreal.

According to an Interpol report, Porter was en route to Trinidad and Tobago when he was arrested in Panama along with his wife and charged with fraud.”

Talk about things that make you go ‘ Hmmm..’, add this one into the never ending allegations,investigations and connections between SNC Lavalin and government business across this country and many others.

But don’t worry BC, because our new Transportation Minister Todd Stone recently told Andrew MacLeod this in a recent article for the Tyee  :

“I don’t have any concerns about their work in British Columbia,they have a stellar record, frankly, on projects that we’ve partnered with them on: the Canada Line, the Sea to Sky Highway, the W. R. Bennett Bridge in Kelowna.”


“Referring to the Evergreen Line contract, the government has “gone beyond the call of duty on this one from a procurement process perspective, to make sure all the protections we can possibly have are there,” Stone said. “Things like ensuring there are progress payments made.”

Stone also pointed out that SNC Lavalin has “a significant amount of private financing” to complete the project. “Those financial organizations would have very high standards for procurement as well. I’m confident those protections are there.”

The government would “try to apply the highest level of scrutiny on any project regardless of the proponent, and I think we’re doing that in this case with SNC,” he said”

This is where I differ from the BC Liberal method and standard for procurement.

In many cases across the spectrum, including Quebec, it is exactly the procurement process and private financing that has come under scrutiny.

Claire Trevena, the NDP’s new transportation critic, had this to say about SNC Lavalin in the same Tyee article linked to above:

“This is one of the differences between us and the Liberals,” she said. Along with price, the government needs to look at how the company will work with the people of the province, what it’s offering, how well it will do the job, and its record on worker safety.

While she said SNC Lavalin’s international record should raise some red flags, she concluded, “You can’t say because of allegations that have been made you won’t do any business with them.”





And last but not least, the premier finally won a seat as an MLA so she can enter the legislature legitimately and not have to pass notes from the visitors bench. http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/06/27/NoteNoted/

On the NDP side, they’ve learned that running the same candidate that lost the first time, results in a similar loss the second time.

But there is at least one NDP member who is speaking truth and acknowledging a harsh reality this morning, former Delta MLA Guy Gentner:

“I’m no longer MLA, and I can say things maybe I couldn’t or was reluctant to speak about before,” the former Delta North representative told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

“Things” like the party has become “unethical”.

As the NDP undertakes a review of the debacle, he wants the party “to take a very close look at itself”. “The problem is the party itself,” Gentner said. “There’s something wrong at the core.”

Putting it more bluntly, the ex-MLA declared: “The party lacks integrity.”

It’s a phenomenal read, and quite telling that Adrian Dix would not respond to Gentner’s assertions, instead sending Mable Elmore to respond to the story.

Guy has it bang on, and on that note, I leave you with his last lines:

“Gentner asserted that unless the party cleans itself up, “it is going to run in the same dirt the Liberals are running in today.”

Saying that he remains a committed New Democrat, he posed this challenge to the faithful: “Let’s get some integrity going in the party.”

“There has always been, and there is now, a profound conflict of interest between the people and the government…” ~ Howard Zinn

theyworkforusOn the eve of what is most likely going to be a change in government in this province, one would think that I would be exceptionally excited about all of it. After all, I’ve spent many years researching and writing stories on the current Liberal government, holding them to account.

Sadly, over the last two years I’ve come to the realization that electoral change is desperately needed for any form of real democracy to exist in this province, and a big part of that change must come from with the parties themselves.

As we near the date of the upcoming election when voters will go to the polls to choose the candidate they believe will represent them in the legislature, I wonder: do they consider how well that person will be able to do that? Do they consider whether or not the party that candidate is a part of, truly allows each MLA a free vote?

Do they think about how they would feel if they discovered their MLA voted in favour of something that was not in the interests of their riding…because if he didn’t he might be disciplined for it? Or perhaps even worse, politically shunned and ignored, in essence persona non grata?

As I sat and watched the new documentary Whipped, by Sean Holman, where he speaks with several former MLA’s about their experiences with party discipline, at one point I actually found myself in tears. I can’t explain it. They just started rolling down my cheeks. I was just so mad, so disappointed, so disillusioned.. and I felt very bad for the many voters who were cheated of representation because of it. I wondered how those same voters would feel, watching their former MLA speak so honestly, and with remorse, about not being able to represent them the way they deserved.

It’s a fact that many political parties will discipline those MLA’s who do not vote with the party line. Sean Holman addressed this in an open letter he wrote to first time political candidates, published on the Huffington Post:

As you may have heard, MLAs belonging to both the BC NDP and the BC Liberal Party are usually required to vote the party line.

In fact, I’ve discovered, out of the 32,328 votes cast between June 2001 and April 2012, just 80 or 0.25 percent were cast by MLAs voting against their own party.

That means a party with a majority can essentially do whatever it wants in the legislature — so much so that last time a government bill was defeated was 1953, the same year Joseph Stalin died. But those numbers also suggest, as one former MLA told me, “There’s got to be times — random chance if nothing else — that some of us actually disagree with what we’re voting on.”

It’s a position, if you’re elected, you could find yourself in.

The reason that’s tolerated is MLAs are supposed to have a chance to discuss the public’s business in private before coming out with a position each has agreed to uphold. But, because of cabinet and caucus confidentiality, British Columbians really don’t know if those secret debates are actually taking place.

Your party leaders and campaign handlers, of course, would know. They might not feel comfortable talking to you about this subject. But if you come to the première of my documentary, you’ll discover such discussions sometimes don’t take place.

For example, another former MLA told me he found out about a major government decision just 45 minutes before it was announced. That decision went against the interests of his constituents. Nevertheless, he said, “I have to be there in the legislature, pounding on my desk, smiling.”

” … the decision went against the interests of his constituents.”  It makes you wonder what you were elected for when you can’t speak up without consequence for the interests of your  constituents. It is, without a doubt, a profound conflict of interest between the people and the government.

When I first wrote about the première of Whipped,it was clear by the discussion that followed in the comment section, that it’s a very contentious issue that many people in the Liberal and NDP party don’t want to talk about… or want to change. But it’s a discussion that needs to be had and this moment is the perfect time to start the dialogue, as you consider your choices at the polls. There will be many things you might consider when making your choice at the polls- this is definitely one of items I will be considering.  Solid,independent candidates are becoming an increasingly attractive choice for many voters who are tired of party politics.

Remember the HST? Those Liberal MLA’s who supported the HST – and their party – over their own constituents demands, may pay the price for towing the party line in a few short days. Would your MLA stand up for you? Would you even know it, if he or she did not?

Whipped is replete with self-reflection and regrets, and a testament to the illusion of democracy as we perceive it. When you consider that 99.75% of votes cast in the BC legislature followed the party line.. it might be time to do some self-reflection of your own right now… to avoid having your own regrets later on.

Some special Valentines Day messages from Christy Clark, and her pal Stephen Harper.

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about gender inequality and how women in politics are treated differently than men. Thankfully, here on LailaYuile.com, we treat everyone the same! The edgy folks over at Deep Rogue Ram have created a very special Valentines satirical video from Christy Clark, who is well known for acknowledging every single tiny event and moment via a video message to British Columbians…. ( and she really, really, just wants you to love her!)  and to Dan Murphy, for a really, rather… disturbing Conservative Valentine featuring Stephen ‘Let’s get it on’ Harper.  (… shudder)

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The Duel – 24hrs, Vancouver Edition

Heads up for all my readers to pick up a copy  of 24hrs Vancouver edition tomorrow, where I go head to head with Kathryn Marshall on  this week’s topic:

Is Bill C-377 good for Canada’s union members?

My column:


Kathryn’s column:


Who wins the battle this week? You be the judge : submit your comments below the article or email in 150 word or less at van24feedback@sunmedia.ca

Conservatives passed new disclosure requirements to hamper Canada’s unions

Laila Yuile, Guest Columnist

Sunday, December 16, 2012

This week’s topic: Is Bill C-377 good for Canada’s union members?

Last week, those benevolent Conservative members of Parliament bestowed an early Christmas gift on organized labour in this country — or so they would like you to believe.

Bill C-377, a private member’s bill drafted by Tory backbencher Russ Hiebert, was passed in the House of Commons and with it the requirement that unions publicly disclose how they spend their members’ dues. Detailed reports will now have to be submitted to Revenue Canada yearly — a costly venture for taxpayers and unions alike. The information will subsequently be posted online and available to the general public.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt declared it was all out of concern for those Canadian union workers who — thanks to those altruistic Tories — will now have the information they need to make informed decisions before casting ballots in union elections. Seriously, I think I saw a tear in her eye.

Now let’s talk a little reality.

I support financial transparency in member-based organizations, in particular those that collect fees. Members should know where money is going and how it is being spent. However, I know from being in a family where nearly everyone is a unionized forestry worker, that the vast majority of unions already make their financial statements available to their members. There are even a number of provincial labour codes to support this across Canada.

Because of this, it seems to me that the Conservative government is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. The Tories didn’t target any other associations or organizations that collect dues, such as medical associations or law societies. They only targeted unions. This bill is about two things — hampering organized labour in this country and hindering the New Democratic Party, which has always been backed by union support.

Unions are closed organizations, and therefore financial transparency should be a concern limited to members — publicly posting financial information does nothing to serve the membership.

It does however, give  more than a few strategic advantages to corporations during union contract negotiations;to corporations who don’t want their employees to unionize, and to the Conservatives who will be able to see where and how the unions who support the NDP, are spending their money.

Indeed, if the Conservatives are so concerned about Canadians needing the right information to make the right decisions when casting election ballots, they might want to try legislating some financial transparency of their own.

Read Kathryn Marshall’s column.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator.