“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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Brent Stafford’s column here.

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

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

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

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

Stories within stories: Harper,why we must stop the Canada-China FIPA and the deal you still don’t really know about.

“I can retain neither respect nor affection for government which has been moving from wrong to wrong in order to defend its immorality”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

There are two very important things I would ask my readers to do today.

First, head on over to http://thecanadian.org/item/1803-how-you-can-help-prevent-the-ratification-of-canada-china-fipa 

At the link above, you will find detailed and easy to understand instructions on how to register your comments with the sadly flawed, final environmental assessment for the Canada China FIPA that must be stopped. Please do so,because the deal has yet to be signed off on here in Canada. More on this in a moment.

The second thing I would ask you to do, is to send Elizabeth May a note of thanks for keeping her eyes out for this deal in the first place.

Yes, indeed, the press has featured a somewhat outraged Mulcair riding in on a giant waffle at the last moment, demanding an emergency debate and then… oh well, this is what we might do if we are elected… seriously, you really need to try and digest this mans words – if you can actually swallow this bafflegab. http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/government+back+FIPA+after+three+years+says+Leader+Mulcair/7479006/story.html

Oh me! Oh my! Indeed the leader garnered great attention at this “11th hour” demand, such drama, such… politicking. Don’t get me wrong – if I had to choose today between Harpo Harper, the libs who are quite possibly going to be led down the fairy path by the fair skinned machismo laden young Trudeau, or the NDP- I would still vote NDP because the other two are simply not options for a true north strong and FREE. However, take note there’s a big waffle maker in Mulcairs closet somewhere…

Here is the story within the story behind this fiasco, and why I think we should give credit where credit is due to Ms. May, who the press for the large part, tend to ignore :

“On September 26, 2012 (the day after my Island Tides deadline), with no press release or briefing, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, rose in the House to table a few documents.  It was during a part of every day called “Routine Proceedings.”  The media had sped off for scrums after Question Period.  I was waiting my turn to table petitions.  Maybe another twenty MPs were in the Chamber when Deepak Obhrai tabled a deal with Norway and two with China – the agreement for peaceful use of nuclear energy and the “Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments” (the Canada-China Investment Treaty). “


“On October 1, 2012, I asked the Speaker for an Emergency Debate on the treaty.  I explained in a letter I had tabled with the Speaker on September 28 (and available on the elizabethmaymp.ca website) all the reasons that it was an emergency.  Sadly, he ruled that it was not a case for an emergency debate.   I asked in Question Period on October 4th, with 16 sitting days left until the treaty takes effect, whether the Prime Minister had chosen to approve this treaty by Order in Council to keep its details from Canadians or to avoid having to force Conservative MPs to vote for something they did not believe in.  House Leader Peter Van Loan said there could be debate if an Opposition Party chose to use one of its Opposition Days to do so.  I cannot get either the Liberals or the NDP to agree to give it an Opposition Day.”

Well, well. Isn’t that something indeed?  Kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the grand performance of Mulcair being portrayed as the savior – which speaks more to political opportunism than good government for Canadians. If Elizabeth May had not been paying strict attention to this deal, it is likely it would have passed without fuss or muss in the typical Conservative stealth strategy and for that, I thank her. We should also give a shout out to MP Don Davies who did a fine job in the Standing Committee for International Trade, trying to get somewhere with the cons, to no avail – you can read that transcript here: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2012/parl/XC75-1-2-411-51-eng.pdf

It was also Ms. May who noticed the second treaty tabled that day at the same time as the FIPA, one with quite alarming implications although not as far-reaching as the Canada-China FIPA. And while we must all concentrate on stopping the FIPA, I think you need to know about this as well.

It is the Protocol to the Agreement Between the Government Of Canada and the Government Of The People’s Republic Of China for Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.

Again, Ms. May sums up the contentious nature of this treaty:

“The nuclear deal is a cover for our sales of uranium to China.  Under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, no country is to sell nuclear materials to a country with nuclear weapons unless it can absolutely guarantee a system of verifications and monitoring to ensure uranium for peaceful uses does not end up in nuclear weapons.  The two page deal released September 26, cannot do that.”

And whose idea was this, Mr. Harper ? Rather alarming, considering the political situation in China is about to change and quite possibly things could get much more liberal… or step things back a decade to a more hardline time.   http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/never-mind-washington-its-beijings-leadership-choice-canadians-should-watch-this-week/article4913677/

Here’s the thing about this “peaceful” nuclear treaty as well as the Canada-China FIPA.

They were never meant to be negotiated any further. They were never meant to be examined,dissected or otherwise discussed by the public at large.

They are exactly written as those who dictate such things behind this prime minister, and those who came before him in recent history, wanted it written. Terry Glavin said it best in a stunning commentary titled ‘ The Canada-China investment protection racket”:

“. . . The final thing you need to know about the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement is its specific function. It’s to elevate Canada’s China-trade business executives from their hitherto mostly supine position as accomplices of Beijing’s gangland regime to a more formalized and official status as willing accessories to the beggaring of the Chinese people and the plundering of their wealth.

Protection is precisely what FIPPA’s Canadian beneficiaries will be very much wanting one day when all their trade agreements, their exquisitely-phrased contracts and their joint-venture undertakings are ablaze in bonfires from Guangdong to Xinjiang. Protection is what they will want, and they will deserve no such thing.”

Terry gets into a little more, including Mulcair, in his later blog post aptly titled ‘ The Sopranos with Chinese Characteristics.’ 

All that’s missing in this deal is Harper in a thug hat and a pimped out low rider car with full tint windows.

Head over to this link and find out…

How You Can Help Stop Ratification of Canada-China FIPA

( for a full list of what happened in China back in February, please check out Wai Young’s website, MP for Vancouver South –her list of items signed or agreed upon, is twice as long as Harper’s list … and included items I have not heard before such as negotiations to share proceeds of crime with the Chinese government)

” How the Conservatives stole environmental protection.”

It is not often -well never, actually -you have found me quoting Elizabeth May. I guess there is a first for everything. This piece is a must read for all. And it gives some extra heft to the very reason why Robyn Allans request for Clark to repeal the agreement signed with Ottawa… scroll down  for details… is so damn vital to every British Columbian.

“The single biggest assault on environmental law was tabled last Thursday morning in the House – to nary a whimper. No front page headlines. No media interviews for Opposition parties for the major networks. True, we will likely hear more outrage as people wade through the 428 page Budget Implementation Bill, C-38. But, for now, the Harper Conservatives have stolen environmental protection in plain sight.”


“It had never been mentioned that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act was to be repealed; and that an entirely new act of 67 pages would be tucked in to the Budget Act. No longer will there be predictable “triggers” for federal reviews. And if there ever is another federal review, it will only examine “environmental effects” of a very limited nature… Nor were the restriction of requirements… for authorization to destroy habitat for those commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries. It had not been mentioned that the Species at Risk Act would be amended to give the National Energy Board (NEB) power to approve the destruction of the habitat of endangered species – or killing rare species through the building of pipelines.”

Now go, read and keep a bucket handy for when the bile rises in your throat.


“Democracy has become a government of bullies, tempered by editors” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A strong statement and I think most would agree, an exact one. Particularly at this point in Canadian history.

Here we are, a couple of days after yet another federal election, and there are many who still are jubilant in victory, many who are angry in defeat, and even more who are licking their wounds like Gilles Duceppe and Michael Ignatieff.

It has also been a couple of days since Lumby mayor  Kevin Acton and council voted to go ahead with a bid for a prison in their village despite significant opposition, and yes, as with the federal election, some in Lumby are certainly jubilant. Even more, however, are channelling their anger to take the campaign against the prison to the provincial powers who make the decision. Defeat is not in their vocabulary.

Across Canada, and in the small village of Lumby, people are quite clearly divided. The lines have been drawn in absolutes in my opinion, with little middle ground to cover. And in my opinion, the media( or lack thereof ) played a strong role in both votes.

Call me foolish for thinking so, but I find it repugnant to open a paper and find an editorial endorsing a political party, or a certain candidate. Just as I find it equally abrasive to discover openly biased or absent journalism within those pages. Why? Because unfortunately, there is still a very large part of the population that believes papers and news outlets are unbiased and impartial when it comes to reporting. Those staunch hold-outs who honestly think advertisers, corporate influence and political pressure play no part in what we see in the pages of our daily news.


When we live in a country where a bunch of corporate media types have the power to sit and decide who can participate in a pre-election debate, something is seriously wrong. When it is the media who has the power to decide what is important for me to hear, or not hear, something is wrong.

The art of crafting a story and presenting a certain view with an agenda is indeed a talent worthy of awards. Selective editing of photos, sound bites, statements and speeches can dramatically alter the truth, the facts and even the flavour of a story. Even more compelling is the timing of when a story is put to press, as in the case of the missing money and corruption in Surrey City  that was released at 8 pm, on a Friday night. During a Vancouver Canucks playoff game no less… accident? Not on your life. That’s called burying a  story and if it had been a less media adored mayor, that would have been all over the front page of the Province. But at least the CBC can say they actually posted the story… although it remains likely it went by the wayside in the rush of Canuck victory.

People are still talking about the Vancouver Sun’s editorial endorsement of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives  – ironic since many feel the press in general have a Liberal bias, which they certainly do  at the provincial level . Meaning the BC Liberals with a federal Conservative leaning are extremely happy at this electorial outcome. ( Kevin Falcon must be kicking his heels in glee! )

These endorsements place newspapers in a tough spot of explanation in my view. On one hand, I have had editors tell me in  a scornful manner that my accusation of political bias or influence is insulting, and the reason a certain news story did not run was because it wasn’t newsworthy, or there was a lack of space or it wasn’t relevent….and yet both our major papers have endorsed candidates/parties during election times- federal and provincial !  Newsflash, how much more biased can you get? A paper can’t play both sides and expect people to believe transparency and neutrality still exists when this happens.

Which brings me to the other issue facing many Canadians – particularly in small towns and villages like Lumby. A lack of press. True enough, there is a small community paper in Lumby, and they do get access to other news outlets like Vernon, Kamloops or Kelowna, but those papers are not likely to have the budget for investigative reporting, leaning on the most basic reports. They also tend to have relationships with advertisers and companies that would make it prohibative to offend a particular audience with certain styles of reporting. Even here in Surrey, one of our local community papers is pretty much the mayors personal PR agency, and rarely if ever will one read a negative or even potentially negative story about her and council within the pages.

As the people within these small communities look to large outlets beyond their horizons, they then meet the big dailies and the big dailies opinions of who is the politician de jour, which politician gets the free pass on accountability, which stories they will see and which ones will remain untold because of  “editorial constraints”.

I long for the days when one could open a paper and read the latest expose of government wrong-doing, the days when one could sit back after particularly fine paper and say ” Thank God for the press.”

In a book titled ” The Elements of Journalism”, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, the authors list the 9 elements a journalist must adhere to,to fulfil their duty of providing information to the public. Those elements are:

  1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.
  2. Its first loyalty is to the citizens.
  3. Its essence is discipline of verification.
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
  7. It must strive to make the news significant, interesting, and relevant.
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.

There are plenty of exceptional writers and journalist in this town. Time for the powers that be cut them loose and let them serve the public in the way they are obligated to by their own professional standards.

I’m Laila Yuile, and this is how I see it.


Is Stephen Harper a POSER????

Well, well, well……. it seems that our Prime Minister IS (was)a lot like Australia’s Prime minister… so much so that they once used the same words, in the same order, in the exact same manner. Well, once that we know about – who knows how many times this has happened. The Vancouver Sun is reporting this afternoon that Stephen Harper allegedly plagiarized much of a speech he gave back in 2003, a a mere two days after former Australian Prime Minister John Howard gave the very same speech. 

The Liberals have created a video which shows the two politicians speaking in a split screen format, and focuses on the sections where the politicians ARE SAYING THE EXACT SAME WORDS…many times over.

Wow. WOW!!!  This is interesting. While it is not uncommon for politicians to employ professional speech writers to convey the exact amount of contrived anger, frustration or emotion that  any particular audience calls for, this is a bit much. Have they no pride? Did they think no one would notice, that we Canadians don’t pay any attention to the rest of the world? Of course, now the party has already designated a scapegoat and  of course they accepted responsibility and they have resigned, so Harper will no doubt continue to deny deny deny….. one would think a little more effort would go into selecting their employees.

Where do they recruit? McDonalds drive thru? I can see it now……Want fries with that sir? No, but I like the way you said that- will you come work for me?

The only problem is that I  really don’t know what’s worse: The Conservatives stealing the words right out of someone elses mouth and getting caught , or the Liberals combing through piles of video, transcripts, and papers just to dig some nasty dirt up on the competition. Come on, NDP, give us some dirt on Dion….. I can totally  see him with a little spiked leather collar and a leash……everyone has a secret somewhere.

So where are we now? Left with a poser(Harper), mon petite weasel( Dion), and Mr. ” I don’t have a clue what he’s talking about”( Layton) . May doesn’t really count because we all know that is never going to happen. All I can say now is, when is the next episode airing?