“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 :)

“It’s not what you look at that matters…it’s what you see.” ~ Henry David Thoreau.

Driving along the gravel road to a pristine mountain lake last weekend, the sound of the white water rushing in the river that ran alongside, was as welcome as any cold cocktail on a hot summer afternoon.

The clear water ran fast and frothy,tumbling over rocks and between giant boulders that looked like they were perfectly placed by some ancient giant hand until reaching deeper pools and eddies. These deeper pools took on an emerald hue, crystal clear and so inviting for fishers and weary hot hikers alike. If you knew the way of fish, you would also know that those dark pools were the preferred spot for salmon and trout to rest in between travelling the light rapids upstream and where, with a deft flick of wrist,an experienced fly-fisher could land dinner.

Opening the door of the truck, I was welcomed by ripe huckleberries growing right beside the gravel lot. Similar to a blueberry but much more intense in taste,I popped them into my mouth, savouring the pop and sudden rush of flavour on my tongue. The air was fresh and smelled… green, alive, unadulterated. Closing my eyes momentarily as we walked the path to the lake, I held my hand out to run fingertips across the ends of hemlock boughs, connecting with all that was around me. And with every step the stress, the baggage, the weight of my modern world left me in bits and pieces, evaporating into the forest around me, leaving me feeling free and new again…

I‘ve written often over the years about the connection I feel with the land around me and nearly just as much about all the things that threaten it.

Even on this trip the shock of seeing a new clear-cut and a rough logging road cut into the steep slopes was a jarring sight not only because the extreme terrain makes logging there costly, but also that it banked right up next to a provincial park. I’m not opposed to logging-my family has all worked in the forest industry-but forest practices and timber management have come under criticism often enough that it’s a concern for the future.

We enjoy the places less traveled to re-connect with the inner core of ourselves that is inherently called to nature, but on our way, we see many others leaving the cities in droves to find what connection they can.Even in Squamish and Whistler  you can see many dressed to the nines, snapping selfies in front of mountains,lakes and yes… bears… just so they can go home and tell their friends they did.

Well, perhaps that’s better than nothing. I’ve always believed that the only way to get people to understand and value what we have, is to build that connection to it. For those who have never lived outside of Metro Vancouver- or outside of most larger cities for that matter- it’s an undiscovered world. Places like the Peace River, where generations of land owners and First Nations have lived, farmed, hunted and gathered. I ask you to visit the area to be flooded, to stand and simply behold how incredible it really is… and then tell me you think it doesn’t matter.

More people than ever are paying companies to take them out camping,hiking hunting for food… on wild expeditions to experience what so many British Columbians simply call life. They are seeking not just adventure,but a feeling I think,of belonging. Of being a part of something bigger, of feeling how it is to know that nature can make you, or break you.

I know that feeling and it’s what calls me back to the forests and mountains when I’ve had enough of the galling joke we call politics in this province. Nature is the greatest equalizer, it grounds me, humbles me and leaves me in awe of her power and beauty. And in British Columbia, we have so much to be thankful for- YES, we really do- and we have to ensure those entrusted with the management of our natural areas, and our resources, are doing the best they can.

As I log off to enjoy my BC day weekend, and wish you the best for yours, I leave you with an excerpt from an older post. Consider and reflect, wherever you are in this province we  now celebrate.

 “Now that I have lived on the coast for so many years, the sea and the soil here is my heart as well. We can’t turn our back on our agricultural needs any more than we can our roots. The soil here in the Fraser River delta is so rich in silt, in sediment carried down from our mountains, from decaying wild salmon that just laid eggs in a stream not adulterated by Independent power Projects blocking their way…

This circle of life both urban and rural British Columbians rely on, is who we are as a people. It connects north and south like blood when we enjoy our baby greens in  fancy restaurants in the West End…  and when we harvest our moose in the north to fill our freezer.

Herein lies the challenge.

Do the people down here in the lower mainland consider what the impact is of salmon never reaching their spawning grounds? Do they know what it means to find moose and deer riddled with tumours, inedible, because the ticks now over winter due to higher winter temperatures?That the sickness of those moose and deer has an impact on the food chain that trickles down to levels we might not even understand yet?

Do they know that smell in spring that tells you to start harvesting fiddleheads? Do they know the feeling of being such a small part of the universe that seeing the northern lights every night, and hearing coyote packs killing their dinner at dusk gives you?

That was, and is, my British Columbia.

Even now, in my urban, suburban home, I can smell the rain coming and where it comes from. I eat lettuce, now,grown and harvested mere miles from my home that tastes worlds  apart from the imports. We embrace the rain, pick berries on the dykes, and know how precious it all is to us.We love the Canucks, even when they lose. I spent 6 hours on BC ferries to see The Tragically Hip sing Bobcaygeon ahead of schedule courtesy of a crew member on Vancouver Island.

I’ve  been broke. I’ve been flush. I’ve seen BC from top to bottom and there isn’t much I  wouldn’t endorse to anyone else looking to visit.

I think fighting for B.C is worth it. The greater good is bigger than any political agenda.

I’m not saying it is going to be easy… but I am saying it is going to be worth it.

The future is yours if you rise to the challenge. The only question is… will you?”

This is my BC. I’d love for you to share with all of us, photos of yours.

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“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

“It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news…”

“Because it’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself.”
― Joss Whedon

I worry. A lot sometimes.

I worry about the price of produce at the veggie market every week. It’s getting more and more expensive and I worry that the drought in California will drive that price up even more.

Then I worry that California will figure out how little B.C. values it’s water supply,show up here like it’s a modern gold rush and tap into some trade agreement that leaves British Columbian’s paying through the nose for a resource we own…while entitled Hollywood types are lavishing in their pools,drinking BC water while California shrivels under crippling  drought.

I worry about the safety of my community right now, while young men with too much testosterone and not enough wisdom are putting the public at risk every time they shoot at each other. In busy family neighbourhoods, while people are out and about. It happened again last night. Shots fired calls are a regular occurrence now.

I worry about the lack of resources in our schools and I worry about how many good kids who need help are falling through the cracks, sure to cost society more in the long run than if we took care of the issues now. I wonder if the young men shooting at each other now, were once those kids themselves.

I worry about how a brand new ship could suffer a ‘malfunction’ that many mariners suspect was human error, releasing toxic bunker fuel into one of our most beautiful harbours.

I worry that our governments continue to make short-sighted decisions and policies that have implications so serious that people’s lives and livelihoods are lost. Veterans left behind, front line workers suffering from PTSD abandoned. Mt.Polley, sawmill explosions – the list is long and sadly, often preventable.

I worry that politicians are so out of touch with how most of us live, that they think spending $150,000 to close a bridge for an event that would have only made a yoga wear corporate sponsor money from a photo-op, is a good thing.

But most of all, I worry that so many good,decent people have become so de-sensitized to the never-ending onslaught of news that even the latest outrageous news of the health firing scandal that caused one man to take his life will soon be forgotten with a few sunny days and the next scandal sure to come.

I’m here to tell you,that’s just not going to cut it anymore. It’s not enough to just be a good person and tsk-tsk at the morning news. That makes you part of the problem.

No, really, it does. You might not want to hear this but I’m so tired of hearing people say politics bores them, or politics has nothing to do with them. Look around you! Look at what is going on in your city, your town or your own neighbourhood.

Pissed off over potholes? Who’s in charge of that? Whats your local mayor and council doing if it’s an ongoing issue?

Guess what? That’s politics. That is how politics impact you. It doesn’t have to be an oil spill or tailings pond collapse, it can be something as minor as never-ending potholes.

Tired of overcrowded schools? How did that happen? Well, mayor and council have to approve all those developments and if they do without thought to the local schools, your kids are the ones who feel it.

That’s politics.

The  provincial government policy that prevents a new school from being built until the current ones are busting kids at the seams? That’s political.

Sitting in a waiting room in the understaffed hospital in ER for hours on end only to end up on a stretcher in the hallway because there isn’t a room for you? That’s political.

Bullets flying in your neighbourhood? That too is political. Who makes the decisions for funding and hiring more police? Who is choosing to fund scholarships for overseas students rather than programs to help at-risk kids here avoid gang life? Who is passing laws that allow offenders back out within hours of being arrested and charged?

The people who run your city, your province and this country are elected by you.

They direct the policy making, they decide where and how the money is spent and they can either do a very good job at it, or not. And I think they like it when people don’t pay attention because it makes their job even easier.

You might not be into politics, but make no bones about it, politics is very interested in you.

Right now you’re probably saying to yourself: “But I’m busy, I am working two jobs, kids, my parents…” I get that. I really do. I live in a world where 27 hours in a day wouldn’t be enough for me sometimes.

There are only so many hours in a day and the last thing you want to do is spend it in a room listening to campaign strategy or a politician blather.

But that’s not at all what I am asking you to do.

It can be as simple as joining your local community association and just receiving their emails so you can find out whats going on right in your own small area, that directly impacts your life. That’s where it starts for many people. That’s activism. It engages you in how political decisions affect your life.It can directly impact how politicians make future decisions.

Over the last year, I had the pleasure of seeing a new community association form and grow in one area of Surrey and seeing some people who have never paid attention to politics suddenly discover how much impact they had… it makes me smile thinking of it now.

What matters to you? What impacts your life directly? Write a letter to the editor next time you see a story that touches you in some manner. Write a letter to your provincial MLA, or ask to meet them. Let your member of parliament know what you think of their government’s policy. Ask them what they actually do, or have done for your community.

That’s not only your right as a citizen, I’m telling you it is your duty as one too.

Ask questions, hard ones and demand answers. In writing. If you get none, write a letter to the editor about that as well. Start a conversation with your neighbour, your co-worker, the person next to you at the bus stop.

The closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station was a decision made to save money. It was heavily protested by Vancouver residents and mariners alike. The government still defends that decision.

It doesn’t get more political than that.

If you are as angry about that closure, you are interested in politics.  If you are angry about your overcrowded neighbourhoods,the lack of affordable housing, you are interested in politics. It’s that simple.

But instead of being angry and reactive, get engaged and be proactive.

If you are upset over the demolition of heritage homes in your city, you are interested in politics. It could be trees, it might be development, it could simply be the need for a new sidewalk. It’s all politics and for most of us, that’s how we started.

We simply woke up one day and said: “That’s it. I’m doing something about this.”  And never looked back once we discovered there were thousands of regular people out there just like us looking for the same direction.

And let me tell you – It’s so much nicer walking in awareness, than sitting in the dark.

“It takes guts and integrity of motive to fight the good fight. It takes a passionate interest in life itself. It’s easy to stand on the sidelines, shaking your head and commenting on how tragic things are.

But if you really care, you are going to be in the ring, trying to make the world a better place. And only from that position will your words and your thoughts and your insights have weight.

When you live an engaged life, your sense of self gains depth and power and authority, and your philosophy is no longer abstract. You become a person who can really make a difference, because you are actively participating, you are digging deep, and you are pushing up against the edge of your own potential.

 …And in order to fight the good fight, we have to engage, we have to get into the ring, not just stand outside it and be philosophers.”

~Andrew Cohen


Every pundits worst nightmare – Mom calls the open line.

Tis the season to be jolly…unless you happen to be these two pundits who are brothers when they realize it’s Mom calling to bawl them out live on C-span for bad behavior!

The looks on their faces are priceless – some comedic relief from the news of the day.



Politics without principle 2.0: “Just because you can,doesn’t mean you should”

And oftentimes excusing of a fault
Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.
~William Shakespeare

Partisan snipes from both sides of the house have been fairly silent today on twitter and for good reason: once again, hypocrisy is the governing force of the legislature as news of taxpayer funded trips for both NDP and Liberal members come to light.

To be fair, it’s been ‘past policy’ for spouses to join politicians on the public dime, nothing new there. But what makes this particular revelation so hard to stomach is that it comes on the heels of other decidedly excessive spending by Liberal MLA and speaker of the house Linda Reid.

What’s more alarming is that we haven’t even heard the entire extent of Reid’s lavish spending, because she still hasn’t provided all the details of other trips taken on the public dime, along with other questionable expenditures.  

The NDP have been largely silent on all this of course, because NDP MLA Raj Chouhan was on the very same African trip, with his spouse, apparently in his role as assistant Deputy Speaker. While Chouhan had yet to speak publicly on this trip at the time of this post, in a statement to the press yesterday Shane Simpson said Chouhan offered to pay for his spouse at the outset of the trip, but Reid informed him that he didn’t need to.

 The trip in question for both members, was to the 59th Commonwealth parliamentary Conference. Let’s be blunt. There was absolutely no need for either Reid or Chouhan to even attend this conference – there were a number of other Canadian attendee’s that would more than adequately represent the country. It’s a fluff conference replete with scenic and historical tours for the participant alone,but it’s the spousal programme that really takes the cake!


Not only were spouses kept amused with lions and giraffes at a two hour trip to the zoo ( keep in mind that Reid was with her husband on that spousal visit- the programme for participants allowed plenty of time for sightseeing), visits also included the Orlanda Soweto bungee jumping towers, The Museum of Africa, and last but not least, the South African Breweries World of Beer. Do taxpayers have any assurance either Chouhan or Reid even attended conference events at all? And if they did, what did they take away from this conference that benefits British Columbians? I would be asking for a full report!!

It’s bad enough that after years of cuts to education, legal services, social services, etc.  in this province, that government policy even allows for the payment of any spouse to travel with a minister – period. But it’s tragic the NDP went right along with this kind of bogus parliamentary conference at all.  In particular since the opposition is constantly calling out the Liberals for spending like drunken sailors in the name of fiscal responsibility, which leads me to not a small conundrum the BC NDP find themselves in right now.

When the first batch of lavish spending by Reid was revealed, the BC NDP surprised everyone by not jumping on her immediately.  In fact, then House Leader John Horgan instead commented:

“Are these legitimate concerns? Absolutely,” Horgan told reporters.

“Is the staff issue a legitimate concern? Yes, it is. But I believe that Linda needs to be given some slack here because she’s the first Speaker in 125 years to say, ‘This is what I’m doing.'”

Since the new revelations of  the South African trip taken by Reid and Chouhan, Horgan has been silent, having effectively painted himself into a corner with his prior comments of support – he felt the nearly $50K computer terminal expense was appropriate as well.

There will be no calling for her resignation, there will be no outrage, and likely, there will be no consequences for Ms. Reid because I doubt Premier Clark will raise the axe on this one.

Raj Chouhan has no choice but to immediately pay for his trip to retain any credibility with the public at all.

The BC NDP  and leadership contender John Horgan both lose face in the eyes of BC residents who have no stomach for the endless excessive government spending.

The Liberals will laugh all the way to the bank, having come out on top once again despite yet another scandal.

Ironically this entire debacle brings to mind the 2012 audit of the Legislative Assembly Financial Records –  hence the title of this post as a ‘2.0’ version.

At that time, the auditor general left no MLA unscathed, taking to task both the Liberal and NDP MLA’s for their inability to manage their own financial affairs- an astounding revelation to those in the province thinking the NDP were keeping the Liberals to task!

“The auditors office recommended way back in 2007, that the Legislature provide  publicly available audited financial reports, and improve internal controls to prevent fraud and misappropriation of public funds…. and it never happened.  Why?

Let me be perfectly clear. This is no way a difference of accounting standards as Falcon is futily trying to claim. This is no way a minor financial difference of opinion.. this is a lack of the most basic accounting methods for expenditures of all MLA’s in the Legislature, Liberal and NDP. Simple grade 10 accounting trial balance kind of stuff, that there was not enough documentation to even allow the auditor to determine if the figures he did get are even right or not! He cannot state if there is anything missing or untowards going on because the accounting is so bad!

Among the issues reported on:

– lack of bank reconciliations ( pretty standard even for a mom and pop corner store) and those obtained were not done in a standard fashion. The Legislative Assembly did not even start preparing bank reconciliations until right before the 2009 audit and then failed to report millions in expenses for a prior year. Bank reconciliations are the easiest way to track cash, and cash expenditures and catch fraud or unusual cash transactions.

– expenses for one year, intentionally reclassified into another fiscal year to meet budget.

–  a repeated and consistent lack of supporting documents and receipts for MLA’s credit card travel expenses, a requirement in the Members handbook.

-lack of disclosure of MLA’s payments. There were approximately $2 million in transitional payments made to former MLA’s that were ‘misclassified’ and not included in the public disclosure of compensation, for MLA’s that had either chosen not to run in 2009, or were defeated in 2009.

– lack of inventory records for Legislative dining room or gift shop.

-No recording of appropriations and transfers between accounts for ministry of finance and the Legislative Assembly accounts. Accounting records showed one bank account had an overdraft of $133 million, another had a positive balance of $5.5 million.  In reality, bank statements showed both bank accounts had a ZERO balance.

I could go on, but frankly it makes me feel sick. You can read the full report in this PDF file: AuditorGeneralLegislativeReport

Long story short, all of our MLA’s, both Liberal and NDP, have failed the people who elected them to office by ensuring that first and foremost, they can keep their own financial affairs in order.

While the NDP have been howling and crying foul at the Liberals for lack of transparency and accountability, they have failed to bring resolution to the mess that was first revealed in 2007 by the auditors office.

They have failed to ensure they held the governing Liberals to account by ensuring their own elected members who served on the Legislative Assembly Management Committee followed up and enacted the recommended changes that give the most basic, the most basic, accountability at an MLA level.”

And here we are, two years later, legislative spending still apparently out of control and unaccounted for, few controls to ensure legislative accountability and both parties clearly still wear this mess for the lack of resolution and accountability.

At all times both sides of the house must be fiscally prudent with public funds, but in times of austerity, particularly so. At no time should the opposition put themselves in a position of not being to take the Liberals to task. Having done so now, they’ve left British Columbians floundering, asking themselves “Who is watching the house?”


“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by anybody.” ~Thomas Paine


This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Right to privacy should stay strong in face of acts of terror

Summer is here, the days are long and after taking a break from the column due to the Canada Day weekend, Brent and I are back at it today with another look at Canada’s secret surveillance program.

The question this week? Does foiling an alleged terror plot in Victoria justify Canada’s secret surveillance program?

When the RCMP recently announced it would be holding a press conference about terrorism charges related to foiling an allege plot, I called a friend in the media for his opinion. He said we would see vague details from the RCMP with a lot of back-patting, followed by a press conference from the premier in which she would try to capitalize on it, politically speaking.

Turns out he was absolutely correct. The reports that followed were high on loaded terminology, drama and three words that instantly create fear in the minds of many — “al-Qaida ideology.”

Read Brent Stafford’s column

We know that the RCMP were deeply involved in this investigation as early as February as investigators monitored the activity of the Surrey-based suspects. Police say there was no international terrorist group connection, nor was much of a motive or cause presented. At no time was there ever a risk to the public — something the RCMP made clear during its press conference.

What RCMP didn’t make clear, however, was what initially triggered this investigation. We know it was the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that tipped off RCMP, but how did the suspects land on their radar? Was it a call by neighbours hearing about a Jihad discussed loudly in the street? Did someone report them after seeing potentially radical posts on Internet discussion forums? Or was it secret surveillance of our national security teams at work monitoring metadata?

Metadata collection is not as benign as some would have you believe. While it will not reveal the content of your phone call, it can reveal incoming and outgoing numbers, locations, IP addresses, relationships with other people, and even medical and health information. Harmless information? Hardly — and Canada’s privacy commissioner agrees it’s debatable that the information gleaned should be exempt from privacy laws….

Read the rest of this weeks column, at this link http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/07/08/right-to-privacy-should-stay-strong-in-face-of-acts-of-terror  Don’t forget to vote and or leave your comments before the commenting period closes in 48 hours.

If you’d like to see what today’s edition looks like on paper, click here and flip to page 4 http://eedition.vancouver.24hrs.ca/epaper/viewer.aspx

I’ll have another post for you tomorrow to catch up on a few news items that haven’t received the attention they should have!! See you then!

The Duel July 8th

** some links to info on Canada’s program



an excerpt  from that link:  “The government has tried to downplay the public concern by focusing on two safeguards. First, it argues that its secret metadata surveillance program only targets foreign communications. Second, it notes that the data captured is metadata rather than content and therefore does not raise significant privacy issues. 

Neither response should provide Canadians concerned for their privacy with much comfort. Indeed, the emphasis on these two issues highlights how Canadian surveillance laws have failed to keep pace with current surveillance technologies.

The suggestion that Canadians are not affected by surveillance targeting foreign communications does not stand up to even mild scrutiny. The same claims are made by other intelligence agencies, with each claiming that they limit surveillance to foreign targets. However, information sharing between intelligence services is common, providing a backdoor mechanism to access information.”



Idle No More empowers First Nations to demand change

Laila Yuile’s  24 hours column, Monday January 7th, 2012

This week’s topic: Does Idle No More address the real problems?

“I’d like to start this week by thanking Kathryn for her warm welcome and agreeing with her immediately. She’s definitely right about hair colour being our only similarity, and I offer the comparison of oil (ethical, of course) and water.

I really look forward to our weekly duels because our diverse backgrounds definitely lend to great debate. I’ve worked in the corporate world, and on the front lines of a non-profit society, dealing first-hand with barriers like mental illness, poverty, addiction and homelessness. That background is what drives much of my writing and my perspective, which plays right into today’s question.

Kathryn has done an excellent, albeit myopic job of focusing on one essential element in addressing the real problems faced by First Nations across the country, and that’s leadership.

(Read Kathryn Marshall’s column here.)

But let’s talk reality here. The real problems are about much more than just firm leadership — if only it were that simple….”

You can read the remainder of my inaugural column in 24Hrs Vancouver, here… http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/01/06/idle-no-more-empowers-first-nations-to-demand-change

.. and, for those of you out of area who like to flip pages… here is the E-edition, simply select todays date from the calender! http://eedition.vancouver.24hrs.ca/epaper/viewer.aspx

Remember, you choose the winner in this debate, so leave your comments below the columns at 24 Hrs!

A must read. “Are Tax Havens robbing the government of P3 revenue?”

There are a couple of people who I really admire and follow with regards to their work on  P3’s in the province, among other items of concern. One is Erik Andersen , who in the embedded link talks about the potential for BC reaching our own fiscal cliff, and Keith Reynolds, who has written more about P3 projects than anyone else.

For newer readers, Public-private partnerships are a method of financing and building a project whereby a private corporation – usually a team of them – is selected to build a government project, and  also finances it all up front.

The government then pays that private partner back over a long period of time, along with very lucrative payments and interest, and that make P3’s  a very popular investment vehicle for many investment funds – the Sea to Sky highway project has been sold once already  to a new investor : http://lailayuile.com/2010/12/22/sea-to-sky-highway-changes-hands-as-macquaries-essential-asset-partnerships-sells-100-of-their-stake-in-the-project/

While the Liberal government has greatly endorsed the use of this manner of financing and building many projects, in particular highways and bridges, critics including myself have great concern over the amount of debt that it obligates the province to re-pay. The province doesnt actually consider it debt though, and it is not reported as debt, but rather ” contractual obligations” .   I’ve compared it to your mortgage, which is also a contractual obligation… but if you tried to tell a credit card company it wasnt debt, they would laugh at you.

It is debt, under another name, and those P3 payments over time, over multiple projects, have nearly bankrupted other countries and many countries have now stopped using this method because of the burden it places on the government over time, in paying back those debts.

Now Keith Reynolds has brought forth another strong concern – the  new owners of two P3 projects in BC are companies that are located in countries that are tax havens… and this may have a strong impact on the amount of taxes they should be paying to our province.

Here is an excerpt:

“If P3 infrastructure is operated by the government or its agencies, then the operator does not pay taxes to the federal or provincial governments.  But a private sector operator does pay taxes and these taxes are factored into the equation that decides whether or not to use a P3.

But what happens if the tax revenue predicted from the P3 project doesn’t materialize? That means the province does not get the expected revenue, which is a big deal in cash strapped British Columbia. It also means that the comparison used to decide whether to use a P3 to do the project publicly was biased against public operation because of overly optimistic revenue expectations from the P3.

One of the ways companies cut their taxes is by moving their headquarters to tax havens.  Instead of claiming their profits in the country where they actually deliver services profits are claimed in the tax haven and taxes are paid at much lower rates.

Here in British Columbia there is complete silence on the issue from both the government and the media. The Ministry of Finance in response to a Freedom of Information request asking about the impact of tax havens and P3s said “although a thorough search was conducted, no responsive records were located. Your file is now closed.”

In a nutshell, the public private partnerships are already creating a sizable debt load in this province and when projects are flipped, losing valuable tax revenue to offset that debt is a huge liability.

But I’m pretty sure the government doesn’t want you to know, or understand any of it …. and that’s why you have to read the full post here http://www.policynote.ca/are-tax-havens-robbing-the-government-of-revenue-from-p3s-nobody-seems-to-care/

I’m more than willing to answer any questions you have, as I am sure Keith is, to help you understand why this is such an important issue for the financial future of our province.

Then, go and read the top post of 2012 on this site: http://lailayuile.com/2013/01/02/the-top-post-of-2012-on-lailayuile-com-how-money-and-corruption-are-ruining-the-land-originally-posted-june-19th-2012/

“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near” ~Sun Tzu( otherwise known as Rant #1 – there is another one coming)

“Only one thing to it: a strong stomach.  The guts to gladhand a man you’re going to stab in the back; pledge allegiance to principles you stomp on every day; righteously denounce some despot in the press and sell him arms under the table.  The talent to whip up the voters’ worst passions while you seem to call on their highest instincts, and the sense to stay wrapped in the flag.  That’s politics:  I’ll take the simple life.”
―    Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais,   Le Mariage de Figaro

You could not find a more truthful statement than the above: it does take a strong stomach to be a politician and clearly that hasnt changed since this particular book in the Figaro trilogy was written in the 1700’s.  Taking a look at current events in Canada, and in our own province of B.C., I think it’s safe to say however, it takes an even stronger stomach to sit on the sidelines as a voter and try to digest what amounts to a really bad serving of politics no matter where you look.

Let’s start with something everyone needs to really pay attention to because in my opinion, it’s a game-changer for  British Columbians: The Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act, otherwise know and referred to as FIPPA.

FIPPA is yet another one of those underhanded moves by the Harper government in which he throws Canadians under the bus with one hand while tossing back some Dong Po Pork dipped in mustard with the other hand. How he gets away with this stuff, I don’t know. It’s like Canada has become one large fooseball table with Harper and China at opposite ends, and we all lose in the end.

But I digress. Long story short, FIPPA is a foreign trade agreement, a contract, between the Peoples Republic of China and Canada. And without getting into the nitty gritty legalese, it’s being rammed through without any debate, without any public input and it carries some longstanding consequences for all provinces where Chinese investors own assets. In BC, this means that Chinese investors would be able to sue the province for changing direction on the Enbridge pipeline – big trouble for a potential NDP government who plans to withdraw and try to block the project.  The agreement also allow companies with even minority Chinese shareholders to sue Canada, and Canadian companies, outside the Canadian legal system.

It’s unconstitutional, and some say, treasonous.

 I think it’s both, considering the amount of Chinese, trickle-down state-connected, investment in BC’s resource sector – in our province this agreement could have disastrous and long-standing implications we can’t get out of anytime soon.

There is a bit of hope though, and that would be if Christy Clark put some action behind her tough talk of standing up for BC, and launched a Supreme Court challenge – from The Vancouver Observer:

“The province can call for an injunction in the BC Superior Court, requesting the courts to order the federal government not to ratify the treaty until the constitutional issues are resolved,” Van Harten told The Vancouver Observer.

The other option, Van Harten added, was a upswelling of public opinion against the treaty that will pressure elected officials in Parliament as well as provincial legislatures”

Van Harten, an investment law and treaty expert, even sent a letter to Premier Clark ( along with all the other premiers) to warn of the implications and while the premier would not comment to The Observer, Terry Lake did – stating that the letter warning of the above was speculative…

Sure, Terry… speculative that you are not acting in the best interests of British Columbians, but in the best interests of Terry Lake, not unlike most current BC Liberal MLA’s still sitting.

Here is my advice,for what it is worth. Don’t look to Christy and the Liberal leftovers to save the province, she knows she’s done – it’s up to all of you, if you choose. Which brings me to the really big issue of why the hell are our provincial and federal governments so happy and excited and giving gifts and accepting panda’s from a country that has one of the poorest human rights records in history?  Hello CNOOC, I am talking about you.http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/canada/cnooc-security-arrest-falun-gong-adherents-302266.html  Is this really a company we want to do business with in Canada? Seriously?

For the last year, I have been ardently interested in both the provincial governments( in my opinion, blind) direction to pander to Asian interests, as well as Harper’s turnabout with China… when first elected he was standoff-ish with respect to Canadian China relations and that suddenly changed.

Today, our provincial government as well as the Harper government federally, have both chosen to place all of our resource and technological eggs in one large Chinese government connected basket, and I have a huge issue with this. Not because of the wonderful Chinese people who have come to Canada looking for a better life, not unlike my ancestors, but because of the totalitarian regime associated closely with many resource companies… and the active lobby group affecting foreign and domestic policy.

First of all, for those not well read on the topic, China has a military strategy  that encompasses the entire world, not just a nation here or there. In particular, it seems when you look at their state connected, “business” acquisitions, they target countries  like Canada and Australia ( it has even been mused that we are the next Australia) because we are soooo nice, and sooo complacent….

Time to read two, vital posts prior to my next, if you have not… and one funny but in a sad way, video from Rick Mercer Reports.



“Whistle Blowers and Public Service Governance” – A talk by the Hon.David Kilgour.

I am very lucky that many of my friends and colleagues are truth tellers, and we give each other support- along with those whose stories we tell – knowing full well the ramifications that come with doing so.

Truth does not always come without a cost,personal or professional.

However, these men and women have not not allowed themselves to be bullied, nor silenced, nor do many Canadians know their incredible stories.

This is a phenomenal piece,  detailing four Canadian lesser known heroes and how the Canadian government shafted each of them in an effort to silence the truth they bravely came forward to tell.

Originally posted at : http://www.ansleyandcompany.com/WHISTLE__BLOWERS_AND_CANADA_with_photos.pdf , reprinted here with permission of Clive Ansley, Ansley and Company.


Hon.David Kilgour


Hunt Club Golf course clubhouse

16 July 2012


Canada has witnessed no shortage of major corruption scandals; the following come readily to mind:

􀁸Tainted Blood, in which about 60,000 Canadians were infected with hepatitis C, some of them fatally.

 􀁸The Gun Registry, in which a program with a budget of $2 million spent $1 billion without authorization or adequate reporting of cost overruns to Parliament.

 􀁸The Sponsorship Scandal, in which millions of dollars of public money were diverted illegally to government-favoured advertising agencies.

Other advanced democracies have adopted whistleblower protection partly as an anticorruption strategy. The U.S. is the pioneer in the field, and took the first steps more than 30 years ago. The UK has had effective legislation in place for more than a decade, which covers its entire workforce. This includes a tribunal system that has processed more than 7,000 whistleblower cases.

 The history of such legislation in Canada is one of foot-dragging by politicians and officials alike. Successive governments have promised whistleblower protection for years. We still have no legislation that works effectively and no agency that reliably protects public servants at any level of government, or in the private sector, or in any part of the country. In terms of protecting conscientious and courageous employees from reprisals, Canada is still largely a wasteland.

 Westminster Governance

Our Westminster system of government itself has a serious structural flaw in terms of modern best democratic practices. With the fused executive and legislative branches, our Executive Democracy encourages legislators to defer excessively to party leaders, whether prime ministers, premiers or opposition leaders. In turn, public servants in both national and provincial capitals answer to deputy ministers, not to the general public good or taxpayers.

 This institutional and cultural reality is a major reason why, among related governance problems, there has been so little development of effective whistleblower legislation across our country.

 Four National Heroes

 Joanna Gualtieri

As a property specialist in the Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade starting in1992, lawyer Gualtieri exposed gross waste and extravagance in the procurement of accommodation for some of our diplomats abroad. In Tokyo, for example, government owned residences valued up to $18 million sat vacant while large sums were spent renting other accommodation senior diplomats preferred. She also discovered that luxury living in violation of Treasury Board policy was the norm in the Americas. Rather than correct the policy breaches, managers retaliated, harassing her and eventually forcing her out of her job in 1995. Both times she attempted to return to her job, she faced the same hostile environment and refusal to allow her to do her work. In 1998, she left the department for good.

Despite acknowledgement in internal documents that her case had merit, the ministry publicly asserted that nothing wrong had been done. When Gualtieri sued, Justice Department lawyers used a range of tactics to drag out her suit for 12 years, forcing her, for example, to answer more than 10,500 pre-trial questions. The strategy was clearly to ruin her with massive legal bills and break her spirit.

  In the end, the government settled, virtually at the court house in early 2010, thus avoiding a public trial which would have exposed incompetence and waste. Gualtieri now has her life back, although she was harmed from the loss of almost twenty tears in an unequal legal battle seeking to make an example of her as to what happens to public servants who fail to tow the management line.

As part of the settlement, she is today subject to a gag order, preventing her from speaking about the misfeasance she put her career on the line to expose.


Brian McAdam

A career immigration officer, McAdam learned in 1991 that our immigration office in Hong Kong might have been penetrated by organized crime, allowing criminals to immigrate to Canada. His exposure of corruption, missing blank visas, fake embassy stamps, reports about organized criminals known as Triads, penetration of top-secret files in the computer system, inappropriate gifts to staff, and revelations about Chinese party-state espionage activities were poorly investigated.

 Rather than correct serious problems, senior managers instead turned on McAdam,  eventually forcing him out of his 30 year government service. As well, they stalled, blocked and undermined subsequent inquiries into his allegations. Much evidence he provided to a joint RCMP-CSIS investigation was destroyed; CSIS top management shredded ‘Sidewinder’,the report confirming his concerns in 1997. The government ignored an Auditor General report corroborating McAdam’s concerns about the computer system, a serious rebuke by the RCMP Review Committee, other agencies intelligence reports, and one of the largest espionage probes ever done in the U.S.

 Zabia Chamberlain

In 2007 and 2008, Chamberlain, a manager at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, experienced repeated sexual and aggressive harassment at the hands of the executive to whom she reported and an excessive workload from managers above him. Instead of disciplining the harasser and moving her, senior management opted to close ranks and deploy the familiar tools, “deny, delay, devalue and discriminate”, breaching workplace human rights and safety policies.

Chamberlain’s doctors diagnosed severe post-traumatic injury and requested that she be relocated to a new organization and position. This was refused despite her strong 20-year job performance. A number of officials from her department and Treasury Board even asked her to remit an assault-form and sign a declaration that the harasser was a “third party”, although he remains today in his position. Chamberlain brought her case to adjudication in the spring of 2009, asked for reassignment help and tried on her own to look for other positions. Her time before the Public Service Labour Relations Board will soon total 35 days without any resolution on the horizon (She is in hearing today).

 She has lost her two-decade career; yet the perpetrators of the harassment, breaches and stalling remain, highly-paid, in their public service jobs.

Sean Bruyea

In 2005, former Air Force intelligence officer Bruyea realized there were serious flaws in a new proposal for injured soldiers. It would end the comprehensive life-long benefits provided to injured veterans and replace them with a one-time lump sum payment of much lower value.

Not personally affected, Bruyea nonetheless became an outspoken critic. He also advocated the creation of a veterans’ ombudsman. Veterans Affairs Dept. officials attempted to punish him by seeking to cut off treatment and benefits while distributing in briefing notes distorted interpretations of his medical condition to persons who had no clear need to know.

 Bruyea had suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological and physical injuries as a result of his service in the 1991 Gulf war. The briefing notes were given in their entirety or formed the basis of briefings given to cabinet ministers, staff in the prime minister’s office, a parliamentary secretary, his Member of Parliament as well as to dozens of the most senior managers within Veterans Affairs Canada.The notes and associated briefings falsely suggested that Bruyea was mentally unstable.

 Bruyea has now received more than 20,000 pages of documents through Privacy Act requests, which were held by more than 400 departmental officials. The Department’s own internal review determined that out of the 614 officials who accessed his computer based files, 54 “did not have a valid reason for access[ing]” those files.

 The notoriety of the violations resulted in the Harper government issuing Bruyea, on October 26, 2010, one of only two official apologies given to Canadian individuals in more than twenty years. The Veterans Affairs media relations director has confirmed that not a single official involved appears to have been formally disciplined.


These and many other cases share similar features: hostility towards honest employees whose work threatened to expose shoddy conduct; workplace reprisals; justice long denied by legal and procedural stratagems ; and oceans of tax dollars spent protecting alleged wrongdoers and pursuing truth tellers.

 The House of Commons should give priority to improving the governance of our national public service. A logical first step would be to draw on the experience of countries such as the U.S. and U.K. to enact effective whistle blower legislation without further delay.

The complicated and costly whistle-blower system created by the Accountability Act has been a complete failure. Whistle-blowers are being persecuted just as fiercely under the Harper government as they were in the past. The Conservative promise to protect truth-tellers now looks like a cynical election campaign ploy. In order to show good faith, the government should immediately stop stalling on whistle-blower cases that are before the courts, and take steps now to strengthen this country’s whistleblower protection legislation.

 A recent media release by FAIR, the whistleblower NGO, (FAIR Media Release, 29 June 2012)) noted that the Government whistleblower watchdog has failed to deliver after five years.  “After five years of bureaucratic charades, taxpayers have essentially nothing to show for more than 30 million dollars spent on the Integrity Commissioner’s office and the associated Tribunal,” said David Hutton, executive director of FAIR. “Not a single wrongdoer has been sanctioned and not a single whistleblower has been protected. It is time for a root and branch reform of this law.”

 The new Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion has to date uncovered only one case of wrongdoing out of more than 320 complaints submitted over the past five years. The government has also failed to initiate the five-year review of the Whistleblower Act as legally required.

The time for white horses and transparency promised in 2006 in the cause of better public service governance is long overdue.

 Thank you.