“A big thank you to our loyal readers!” ~ 24 Hours Vancouver

I was very impressed to hear the news this evening, that our little paper, 24 Hours Vancouver, is now the second most read print publication, Monday to Friday, in all of western Canada!  ( The Province is #1, 24Hrs #2, and Vancouver Sun is #3)

I am very proud to be a very small part of such an incredible team, from our editor to our publisher, our incredible reporters including Jeremy Nuttall, Michael Mui and David Ball, to our copy writers, fellow columnists and support staff.

From the story today which should be in tomorrows print edition:

“If you’re reading this, you’re part of our success.

24 hours Vancouver is now the second-most read print publication, Monday to Friday, in Western Canada with a whopping 661,300 readers picking up our newspaper weekly.

We remain the No. 1 free daily in the Vancouver marketplace, according to the Newspaper Audience Databank study — the industry standard to measure readership in Canada.

The full 2013 survey shows that each week the 24 hours print edition reaches more Metro Vancouverites aged 18-49 — which includes the coveted “age of acquisition” — than any other newspaper in the region, including those who publish six days a week.

“That’s great news for our advertisers,” said 24 hours publisher Jane Atherton, who has seen the newspaper’s combined weekly print and digital footprint vault to 675,500 under her leadership this year — up from 644,500 in 2012. “Our readers are in their prime spending years and are actively purchasing our advertisers’ products and services.”

Erica Bulman, 24 hours Editor-in-Chief, calls the newspaper the “voice of Metro Vancouver.”

“We have a tough, scrappy newsroom that’s determined to hold accountable governments and those in positions of power, to speak up for the little guy, to tell the stories that need to be told.

“We love our city. We love our readers.”

Source: 2013 NADbank Full Survey, Vancouver CMA, Print + PDF readership (NET), Adults 18+


This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Should the government provide more funding for the CBC?

****My apologies for posting this so late: generally I post my columns first thing in the am to give readers ample time to comment and vote, but unfortunately had an early meeting schedule that prevented me from doing so!

The winner of last week’s duel on temporary foreign workers was Laila with 86%.

This week’s topic:

Should the government provide more funding for the CBC?

CBC made a shocking announcement last week that it would be cutting 657 positions and no longer be competing for professional sports rights, in an effort to address a $130-million revenue shortfall.

As Canadians digested the news of what is clearly a pivotal moment for the broadcasting company, conversations began on social media about how to save the CBC.

Growing up in a rural area just outside of Prince George, the only TV stations we had were the CBC and what was then known as BCTV. From watching Mr. Dressup and the Friendly Giant as a child, to the Nature of Things and the Fifth Estate as a teen, the CBC has played a huge role in shaping the person I am today.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

In speaking with many of my readers, it’s clear that the nation’s public broadcaster has been much more than just a broadcaster — the CBC has, in essence, been part of our families and our lives. Hockey Night in Canada wasn’t just about watching hockey, it brought families and friends together to experience the highs and lows of watching our favourite teams, win or lose. Through the CBC, we’ve watched tragedies unfold, mourned losses and celebrated successes, and connected across the country.

The CBC’s programming is rich in diversity for both television and radio and is still a mainstay in many Canadian households — in particular in rural areas. It’s a terrible irony that in an era where government is spending millions on job-creation programs, the nation’s public broadcaster is forced to cut jobs to meet this revenue shortfall. In fact, it was inevitable…

READ the rest of this weeks Duel, vote and comment at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/04/13/feds-need-better-priorities-to-preserve-vital-cbc-programming

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: B.C. premier should get rid of referendum and work out a proper transit deal

Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on marijuana laws was Laila with 61%.

This week’s topic:

Should the premier cancel the transit referendum and leave planning and funding to the existing process?

A dream has been repeating itself lately in my mind, one in which politicians sit down and actually engage in productive discussions with each other. A dream in which politicians put good policy and process ahead of unrealistic, vague demands and pointing fingers. A dream in which it’s possible to get from point A to point B without a vehicle.

Then I wake up.

The reality is that while commuting in Vancouver is incredibly easy — in Surrey, Langley and other suburbs taking the bus often isn’t a viable option. In far too many areas, transit is still as much of a dream as the one I’ve been having about politicians working together. As Metro Vancouver grows by leaps and bounds, so do the number of cars on the road because the bedroom communities are vastly underserved by other forms of mass transit.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Vancouver is already served by more than one SkyTrain line and a plethora of bus routes, and yet the city is also lobbying hard for rapid transit out to the University of B.C. along Broadway — a goal at odds with the desperate need for transit south of the Fraser. It’s been clear for a long time that due to the vastly different transit needs of the region’s municipalities, reaching a consensus on funding wouldn’t come easy.

More gas taxes? Higher property taxes? Tolling every bridge in the region? Premier Christy Clark only announced the transit referendum last year before the election in the hopes of appealing to the populist ideal of avoiding higher taxes. Well done! Now we have a forced referendum, with a question that will be designed to deflect any blame from the provincial government onto you, the voter, and the mayors who failed to deliver…

Read the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote for who you think should win this weeks duel at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/01/26/bc-premier-should-get-rid-of-referendum-and-work-out-a-proper-transit-deal


This weeks column for 24Hrs: Taxpayers deserve better value for costly Translink Faregate system

This week, Brent and I take on the latest Faregate Folly…. the Compass Card fare evasion loophole.

This week’s topic: Does the latest Compass Card loophole undermine the value of the new system?

Taxpayers were treated to yet another in a series of TransLink follies recently with the news that Compass Card testers had quickly discovered an easy way to evade paying a full fare on the bus.

On any bus that travels through more than one zone, transit riders can tap in as they enter, head to the back and tap back out without getting off in order to avoid paying for more than one zone. Yes, it’s yet another form of fare evasion, the problem TransLink was allegedly trying to solve by installing faregates and introducing the Compass Card.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Of course, TransLink immediately defended the loophole by stating Transit Police and security would be checking cards with mobile readers. This will likely add additional costs to the system. As most bus riders know — myself included — it’s a rarity to see fares checked on a bus. On the rare occasion you might actually see Transit Police checking fares, keep in mind that some of them pull in $100,000 or more a year in salary. Clearly, I’m in the wrong line of work.

Does this loophole undermine the value of the new Compass Card system? Absolutely, and when you consider the rapidly rising price tag of the entire deal, it begins to appear that this system will cost taxpayers more than it will save. This leads me to question if much value is really attached to the system at all…

Read the rest of this weeks column HERE : http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/10/20/taxpayers-deserve-better-value-for-costly-translink-faregate-system

Don’t forget, you only have 24Hrs to comment, but voting continues all week for who you think should win this week’s duel !


This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: BC Needs to Strengthen local Food Supply

Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on the proposed ‘urban resort’ in Vancouver was Brent with 71%.

This week’s topic:

Is it time to review and change the Agricultural Land Reserve?

News flash for Brent: you don’t have to be from the Okanagan for the Agricultural Land Reserve to be “literally a backyard issue.” Talk to residents and farmers alike in Surrey, Delta and Richmond, and you’ll find phenomenal support for the current boundaries of the ALR.

Ironically, while Brent mentions outrage from MLA Nicholas Simons this week, he purposely doesn’t mention the appalling manner in which MLA Bill Bennett rolled out the public input process for this review. Bennett issued a press release stating the public could give input about the ALR to the Committee on Finance and Government Services that has been travelling the province in recent weeks.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

However, Bennett reportedly didn’t actually tell anyone on the committee — not even his own parliamentary secretary Dan Ashton — who fielded many embarrassing inquiries. One would think the government didn’t really want anyone to show up to give input. Why else would you announce halfway through the process that the scope had changed, and keep it quiet? I can hear it now: “ALR boundaries? No one showed up to comment — let’s develop that land!”

Without a doubt, the ALR has been a source of conflict, mainly for greedy developers.  Ironically, while “locally grown” has become a big selling point for nearly every restaurant in the province, the B.C. government is busy targeting the same ALR that protects the locally grown label…

Read the rest of this weeks column, and vote for you think should win this weeks duel, at  http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/10/06/bc-needs-to-strengthen-the-local-food-supply


This weeks column is definitely one issue more people need to think about, not only in terms of food supply, but in terms of what we value in our province. Arzeena Hamir, an agrolist and farmer in the Comox Valley, did give her submission to the review, and granted permission for me to share it here – I think she makes some very compelling points about where we are now, and where we may end up :

My submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance & Gov’t Services

My name is Arzeena Hamir. I am a Professional Agrologist , a member of the Comox Valley Food Roundtable and the local Women’s Institute, the Board Secretary of the Certified Organic Association of British Columbia and a Board Member of the BC Food Systems Network. But most importantly, I am a farmer. I farm 26 acres here in the Comox Valley. We grow a variety of vegetables and fruits, which we sell at the Comox Valley Farmers Market and to a growing number of customers of our weekly box program.

 We are facing a crisis in BC. Farmers are aging. Farmland prices are astronomical, and yet there is a growing understanding that locally-grown food is essential not only for our health, but for our economic security. Nowhere is this more keenly felt than here on Vancouver Island. We used to grow more than 90 percent of our food on this Island and now we import95% of it. One mega storm, one large earthquake and this Island has 4 days of food supplies on its shelves.  How will we be able to work and keep our economy going without food? We won’t. How will businesses continue to run with hungry workers? They won’t. Where will people turn for food on day 5? They’ll turn to their farmers.

But where have all the farmers gone? I look around even in the vibrant Comox Valley and I am considered a “young one”, and I’m in my 40’s! So many of the other farmers will retire in the next 5 to 10 years, taking all of their knowledge and their food production with them.  And then who will grow food for our children? Time and time again, our reliance on imported food has proven to be foolhardy. If you recall the food scares in 2008 when the rice and wheat crops failed in Australia and Russia, the prices in Canada soared. It doesn’t take much to show how vulnerable our import-reliant food system is to outside shocks.

British Columbians should have a safe and secure food supply. What can this government do to support agriculture? It needs to invest in innovation, attract young people into the profession, and support them with extension agents. Currently, we have one of the lowest levels of government spending in the agricultural sector in Canada. I believe only Newfoundland is lower. British Columbians not only need better support, but deserve better support from their government.

In 2006, the BC Ministry of Agriculture published BC’s Food Self – Reliance Report, stating that in order to produce a healthy diet for British Columbians, we needed just over 2 million hectares of land in production, which would have to increase to 2.8 million by 2025. As of 2011, we are 200,000 acres short of this 2025 target.

But, how do we get land into production and attract new farmers into agriculture? We need to support them, provide them with the knowledge and extension information they need to make proper business and production decisions. The Ministry of Agriculture budget needs to increase substantially.

We also need affordable land for new farmers to farm on. I left Richmond, BC to come to the Comox Valley because agricultural land prices in Richmond were completely unaffordable, ranging anywhere from $100,000 to$500,000 an acre. Why is this so? Because developers have, over the decades, been given signals that if they speculated on farmland, they would eventually be able to take it out of the Agricultural Land Reserve to develop.

The time for this type of irrationality is over. I am imploring you, in your capacity as members of this Standing Committee, to support the current practices that are being implemented by the Agricultural Land Commission to limit reapplications for exclusions. I am also asking you tore commend a major, cost cutting measure, that could potentially help fund many of the asks that I have outlined today.

The cost cutting measure is to stop accepting ALR exclusions entirely, thereby saving staff time and resources. I am asking you to recommend that the boundary of the Agricultural Land Reserve be drawn with a hard line. No more exclusions out of the ALR, period. We have had 40 years to fiddle with the boundaries and the time has come to stop wasting money on this and dedicate our energies to saving farmland, and getting more land into production. This would be the focus of the Agricultural Land Commission, along with enforcement of the current legislation that protects farmland from soil dumping and contamination.

Only 5% of BC’s land base is arable and this land base is under constant pressure. But we absolutely cannot forgo our food production security for the sake of residential or industrial development. Our children and our grandchildren will never forgive us for sacrificing our food producing land.

I’m here to state that farming is a viable, economic enterprise and the highest and best use of agricultural land. I provide food for my community and circulate the money given to me, right here in my community. This is an essential economic activity that will support British Columbians for generations to come. I ask you to think about any other economic activity that is essential for us to live. I can’t think of one.

Thank-you for your time and for allowing me to speak to you today.

This weeks column for 24HRS Vancouver: Boosting rail safety a better option than adding pipelines.

THE DUEL Sunday, July 14, 2013

Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on Canada’s secret surveillance program was Laila Yuile with 55%.

This week’s question:

In light of the Quebec disaster, should we transport more Canadian oil by railway or pipeline here in B.C.?

Sadly, it didn’t even take two days after the tragic accident in Lac-Mégantic before pipeline proponents were shamefully using the disaster as a means to bolster their arguments. In fact, the incident in Quebec does nothing to bolster the increased movement of crude oil or bitumen across the country at all. The oil on the train in this tragedy wasn’t Canadian, it was a type of shale oil from North Dakota that doesn’t normally get transported by pipelines. Oil transport will continue regardless of new pipelines, so to use it as an argument for building more is redundant.

Both pipelines and rail transport hold their own environmental concerns and impact the health and safety of the communities they travel through when something goes wrong.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

The truth is many hazardous goods that are too dangerous to transport by truck have been making their way by train through communities across Canada and here in B.C. for decades. Lethal chlorine gas, highly explosive propane and other materials, including crude oil, have been winding their way across our province successfully via cargo trains. According to Transport Canada, train accidents have dropped 23% since 2007.

Does this recent tragedy mean we should be transporting more oil in B.C. via pipelines? No…

Read the rest of this weeks column, and don’t forget to vote for who you think should win this duel at: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/07/14/boosting-rail-safety-a-better-answer-than-adding-pipelines

And if you prefer flipping the pages, you can do so at the E-edition of todays paper, by clicking on todays date at this link, we are always on page 4 : http://eedition.vancouver.24hrs.ca/epaper/viewer.aspx

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Time to cut the cord with bloated Senate.

The winner of last week’s duel on the education system was Laila Yuile with 65%.

This week’s topic:

Should the Senate be elected or abolished?

Brent has done an excellent job this week of deflecting attention away from the deeper issues behind our nation’s dysfunctional Senate. He defends a solution — electing senators — that is as rife with the possibility of constitutional challenges as simply tossing the Senate. In doing so, Brent sidesteps the fact that if Prime Minister Stephen Harper were truly interested in an elected Senate as he once claimed, he wouldn’t have gone on to appoint more of his cronies to plum positions, living well on the public’s dime.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Harper’s current rhetoric is a nothing more than a bleak effort to detract from the Senate spending scandal that continues to grow, as new revelations are brought to light on a nearly weekly basis. It’s appalling that the Senate has become nothing more than a bloated carcass, a shameful remnant of what its original purpose and function was intended to be…

READ the rest of this weeks column and vote for the column you think should win the duel, at this link: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/06/09/time-to-cut-the-cord-with-bloated-senate

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: “No free pass for Dix,even if Liberals need turfing.”

In this weeks column, Kathryn and I tackle the question : Does B.C. need a change in leadership?

This column, was the catalyst for yesterday’s post here, because the closer I was to reaching my column word length, the more I realized there was so much more to be said.

 I have a confession.

Even though I am more left than right on most issues other than finance, I have never been a member of any federal or provincial political party.

Why? I can’t stomach partisan party politics of any stripe. Call me naïve, but I actually believe the people of this province and country matter more than any party agenda, whether it’s Liberal, NDP, Green or Conservative. I believe we must balance the social needs with the financial requirements of the province in its entirety.

I don’t like the restrictions on elected MLAs, whether they are BC Liberals or BC NDP. What am I talking about? Simply put, MLAs elected for both parties are required to vote and support whatever the party caucus presents – whether the constituents in every riding agree with it or not.

Read Kathryn Marshall’s column

Considering our province is at a crucial juncture for future generations, where does that leave independent, left-leaning people like myself? As the popular song says, “stuck in the middle with you.”

Read the rest of this weeks column at the following link, and vote for who you think should win this week’s Duel: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/04/21/no-free-pass-for-dix-even-if-liberals-need-turfing


This week’s column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Cutting services to most vulnerable a typical Liberal tactic

Winner of the last duel on the value of the Canadian Senate was Laila Yuile with 64%.

This week’s topic:

Is the recent B.C. budget really a Liberal budget — or an NDP-style one?

Premier Christy Clark — who still hasn’t been elected to that title by voters — may have taken a couple of ideas from the opposition in the 2013 budget, but those tax hikes hardly make this an NDP-style budget.

This budget is in keeping with the BC Liberals’ playbook of reducing costs on the backs of those least able to afford it, a skill honed under a decade of Gordon Campbell’s leadership….

Read the rest of this column, and vote for the winner of this week’s Duel at:


Or if you prefer flipping pages, you can read todays E-edition online here : http://eedition.vancouver.24hrs.ca/epaper/viewer.aspx

Weekend roundup for your reading pleasure!

With this stunning and somewhat rare West Coast Sunshine, we should all be outside enjoying the weather before it returns to nasty rain again!  However, I know a lot of people down with flu and colds now, and so I’ve compiled a few items of interest I found that I think you might want to check out!

1) Katherine Blaze Carlsons column in the National Post: ” Long Before Milf Interview, Christy’frickin’ Clark laughed her way through Questions on Her Looks andstunnedchristy Nudity In This Radio Chat ”    

Well, it’s about time you got on board, Katherine, but better late than never! The CFOX appearance was just part of the argument behind my December 27th post here and on the Huffington Post BC, but a crucial one, because as I wrote then, and stand by now, it set the standard for what was acceptable topic of conversation with the premier on that kind of station.  Don’t forget, you heard it here first, linked to within the comments section below the first post.  By the way, the earth opened up and nearly swallowed me live on Friday when I arrived home to an onslaught of messages about Bill Good.. gasp.. agreeing with my points in an earlier interview with Mike Smyth. Cue up the Audio Vault for 9 am Friday the 11th to hear firsthand.

2) Why is Christy Clark deleting messages of concern from movie industry workers, from her Facebook page?

Good friend and BC actor, Adrian Hough mentioned to me recently that Christy Clarks team had deleted dozens of message from her Facebook page, from members of the film and movie industry in BC… read on my friends!

The  countless messages  from both actors and actresses, and film/movie industry workers were left on her Facebook page in response to the news that the BC government could not make a case for any added emphasis in the BC Jobs Plan for film, television or video game industries.

Bob Mackin has the story : http://www.timescolonist.com/film-tv-gaming-left-out-of-bc-jobs-plan-1.44327

Interesting… Clark claims to have an open government that wants to communicate with the people, she states again and again she would rather talk to people than sit in the legislature… but when people want to talk to her… she ( her team) deletes their comments from her Facebook page?  Not exactly indicative of a leader who wants to hear from the people, if you ask me!

Luckily, one smart cookie took screen shots and posted them for posterity :http://www.ninja12.com/cc/

moneyNow, to me, the only reason she, or her staff would delete them all – and they were all civil – was so that no one else in the province saw the disappointment of a major industry being left out in the cold.  I find this compelling, because there is definite pressure on other sectors that have traditionally brought in revenue to provincial coffers, so why wouldn’t the government be interested in promoting and expanding that? And what will the impact be for BC film industry workers?  I asked Adrian for his take on this, and this is what he had to say:

BC actor Adrian Hough with Christian Slater” The film industry  has contributed something in the realm of 2 billion dollars to the province or more, but has been losing production like crazy, as well as talent to the East…which means that someone like me, who makes a living on frequent roles in production, Vancouver based, will have less opportunity.  Crews are being hit the hardest however.

I love living in BC, but if production leaves here, I might also be forced to.  My kids are here. I love BC.  The mountains, the ocean, the fresh air.  I like the community I have developed in the industry, and in my adopted hometown of Nanaimo. 

Making a living from the arts is possible, and most performers, and film people are incredibly generous with their skills, and selves, and work unreasonable hours.  The stories we tell are seen all over the world, as well as at home.. I think it does something good to people to be able to look at a film or television series,  and see someplace or someone they know.  Or recognize as their own. 

As far as economics go, talent and skills and stories are a totally renewable and unending (and therefore sustainable) resource.   ( my emphasis there-ly.)

But we have to remain competitive with Ontario and Quebec and the Maritimes and as for the ‘money people’, ( I have spoken to quite a few of them) they say that if they can take a show somewhere else, and save money in production, they will.  And it is happening.”

Talk about shortsighted leadership. Times are changing and so must we as we work towards a shift from a resource based economy to other economic engines.  Adrian makes a very compelling argument for fostering growth in an industry that, in an entertainment hungry society, could very well contribute more to our economy than it does now.

But hey, I’m just a writer/blogger/columnist… what do I know?  : )

**Note, I just noticed Bob Mackin has the same story poste, albeit an hour earlier, and has embedded a link to the site above on his blog- check it out here – credit where credit is due!!! http://2010goldrush.blogspot.ca/2013/01/film-folks-furious-premier-photo-op.html

3)  Andrew Nikiforuk, of whom I am a very big fan of, has a must read series on fracking over at the Tyee. In the series, he “takes a look at four very big claims the industry uses to reassure the public”  that fracking is A-ok for the environment, people and our future. A must read if you share the same concerns over fracking in BC as I do.


4) Last but not least, Rob Shaw of the Time Colonist has a story out this weekend very relevent to the payoff payout of Basi-Virk legal fees..… of which I’m not unfamiliar with…. which lends even more credence (not that it is needed) to the theory that this was a deal made to keep them in silence, and prevent a trial from revealing the truth to the public. The timing is very interesting.. in particular because of Auditor General John Doyles strong attempts to get at the truth behind this deal… oh wait… arent the Liberals trying to fire him?…. hmmmm.


Of course, whether you are a reader  in the lower mainland, the UK, or in Europe, don’t forget to check back tomorrow night for a sneak peak at  my upcoming column in Mondays edition of 24 hours Vancouver, The Duel, with Kathryn Marshall!