While one hand applauds climate change accountability, the other continues the path of fossil fuel expansion

Some days, it is hard to reconcile the words being spoken by political leaders with the reality that we are actually in. Case in point is yesterdays announcement by Andrew Weaver and George Heyman on climate change accountability:

“People across this province, and especially young people, are demanding we take the climate crisis seriously and that we make sure everyone works together to secure a stronger, cleaner future,” Heyman said in a news release. “That’s why we will work with communities, people and industry to put in place targets for each sector. What’s more, we’re mandating that the steps we’re taking are reported to the public every year, by law.

 

This will likely anger some,  but how can we applaud this legislation which makes it look like the province is doing something *amazing* with respect to climate change accountability, at the very same time the reality is that:

All these LNG facilities mean a massive increase in tanker traffic through our coastal waters, right from Howe Sound, through Roberts Bank and from the north coast. And we only ever hear about oil tanker traffic…not all these damn LNG supertankers. 68 a year minimum out of the Fraser river alone, not counting Kitimat or Woodfibre – I’m not even going to go look and see what their capacity will be. And did I mention its always been heavily subsidized?

This is EXACTLY what Greta speaks about. Our talk, is not matching our actions.

We applaud leaders and governments for small things like this announcement…but when we look beyond the press conference, the smiles and platitudes about stepping up for the youth, this is what we actually see.

  • We see no community led solar projects being encouraged by government to take load off the grid and help smaller  communities become self sufficient and resilient in emergencies, especially in times of fire or storms. ( some communities on Van isle were without power for weeks last year after a major storm)
  • We see no efforts to legislate or create bylaws at municipal levels to include solar, which is when its cheapest to incorporate and makes minimal difference to home price ( and would be a big selling feature ) * This is where I would encourage the use of our own BC gas for stoves and high efficiency furnaces, as being without heat and the ability to cook in an off season power outage is crippling to famililes.
  • We see no solar powered townhome or condo developments where units buy back and forth with each other. God forbid we not by into the narrative by Hydro that we have abundant water resources ( remember the post I did on drought this summer, when some reservoirs were too low to produce electricity? Read this in depth look at impact glacier loss and lower snowfalls are likely to have) 

Hell we cant even get legislation on things that should be mandatory to any new industrial build, like green roofs to reduce heat retention and release in hot summers ( reduces median temps in urban areas), features like roof wind turbines in windy areas, and rain gardens ( to control runoff instead of going into our storm drains or flooding streets)

The possibilities are endless, and they do not need endless study to enact. Just do it. Where is the actual political will to stand up and say the damn truth? Why are average residents being forced to take up the slack so industry can profit and pollute?

None of these targets will mean a thing when the world passes us by as we quickly build new LNG facilities while the price drop of solar, wind and other tech has come down so much other countries are embracing it like no ones business.

We applaud Greta for speaking blunt truths, but what good is the applause when the truth is that while this legislation was brought forth in one hand, the other hand of government still carried on with a plan that relies on greenwashing  a heavily subsidized LNG industry and fracking. There are some serious climate change extremes happening globally.

Permafrost is thawing all over the Arctic, in Siberia its making roads buckle and infrastructure crumble and in the Yukon and Nunavet its damaging homes, roadways and making lakes implode and collapse.  ( Google images search term: ” permafrost melting damage” for an eye opener)

Here’s the thing. Extremes and weird weather events are increasing here in BC and across Canada. Polar vortex. Floods. Fire. Extreme drought and heat waves. Home insurance rates are increasing because of increased claims. Some underwriters aren’t covering certain types of damage anymore. Climate change doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, but its the poor and mid income victims that will bear the burden when these events hit.

Its our governments who will have to fork out emergency relief funds,house people who have lost homes and rebuild critical infrastructure. That’s why addressing climate change is also a social justice issue, so mitigating it and acting faster to enable resilient communities is a must. And yet we continue down the same path here in BC despite it all.

That’s why I will applaud nothing with respect to this latest announcement.

Not while 2km squared gravel well pads are being laid to frack gas, the Peace is being logged to mitigate methyl mercury when the valley is flooded, and Canada’s north is melting.

How the BC government will put more special needs kids at risk than ever & why parents need to get loud now.

One of the things I looked forward to after the decimation of public education under the BC Liberals, was seeing classrooms thrive again. I, like most parents, didn’t expect miracles to happen overnight…the system was so underfunded all education advocates knew it would take time to restore things to where it should be. I knew the NDP was passionate about education and when I retired from blogging, I felt little need to follow BCED closely.

But having seen whats coming down the pipeline now, I feel urgently compelled to write so as many parents of kids and teens with special needs, learning disabilities or any challenges that require classroom support see it as soon as possible. And when I write this, I want you to know that this perspective is coming from myself not just as a government critic, but as a parent of a teen with challenges, who I have had to fight to have classroom supports for, his entire time in the school system. I know how the education system works in this province with respect to high needs kids – it  often doesn’t, unless a parent has a strong voice and knows how to navigate the system to ensure their child gets support.

But If we move to the prevalence model of funding, it is my opinion- along with many, many educators – that we will see more kids falling through cracks than we ever have. Please, read on to hear why I’m concerned.

Many parents know before their child enters school, that something is different and unique about them. Sometimes its quite clear and a parent might get a diagnosis through a paediatrician or agency before school starts. But many challenges can’t be accurately diagnosed until a child enters school, and is past a certain age of development. Because kids develop at different rates, its sometimes hard to tell what may be a learning or behavioural challenge, rather than just a child who needs more time to catch up. And often behaviors related to these challenges dont appear anywhere but in the classroom.

This is where a parents journey starts, and where mine did many years ago. I quickly discovered that the school system is not in line with the medical system and that life as a parent of a child with challenges, was not going to be easy. Under the current system, there is no entitlement to supports for a child in the classroom, until a child has a diagnosis. It doesn’t even matter if its quite clear there is an issue, that’s how it works. And even with a diagnosis, some disorders still arent funded for help in the current system.

If you are lucky, the school may pull time with an Educational Assistant assigned to another child, to help out – which isn’t really fair to the other child, or the EA – but usually kids are just sent home. That’s right. Sent home.

Until my child received his first diagnosis, he was only attending school a few hours a day, 3 times a week in primary grades. Try holding a full-time job down with this challenge – parents soon learn that most daycares will not take a child with challenges, and the ones that do charge a high rate.This means home care with a qualified nanny, a relative, or you quit your job outside the home and find work you can do from home.

So you fumble along from professional to professional, on wait lists and call backs, until the not so magical day comes when you finally find out what exactly your childs unique issue is. For many parents it is day of both grieving and tremendous relief – you grieve the news that your child is not going to have a smooth journey, but at the same time it is a relief to be able to finally move forward. Now off you run to school, your childs diagnosis papers in hand, and your school team does the paperwork to receive a designation – here it is a single letter to define what type of disability,challenge or health issue your child has.

The designations are not public,so there is no stigma for your child to feel different, only his teacher and support team know. But these designations mean that:

  • 1) your school may receive more funding if its approved ( not all designations qualify for assistance, eg.ADHD, unless there are multiple combined diagnosis’s of co-existing disorders or syndroms )
  • 2) Your child may receive an educational assistant for a period of time
  • 3)  Your child may qualify for an IEP – Individualized Education Plan.
  • 4) your child may access more specialized assessments and educational specialists via the school system. ( occupational therapist, psychologists etc..)

 

But, surprise surprise,  you will soon find out that the school being able to receive more funding, doesn’t mean your child receives that equivalent in help, as schools can spend it where they feel it needs to be.

This is where parent advocacy plays a big part in how much help your child actually receives( and where I see the need for every district to employ a Parent advocate to help parents learn and navigate  the system).

Currently,a child with a diagnosis and designation may only qualify for help 3 hours of the day…even though their disability is constant. Silly right? That’s funding for you.

This is why class size and composition matter so much to both parents and teachers. You cannot overload one teacher with several kids with challenges, when there is not enough help to go around.

It’s a less than perfect system that parents and educators have been living with for years, and for new parents going into this system, its an exercise in feeling alone and inadequate that results in many tears. Trust me. You have to get used to being ” THAT parent” pretty darn quick because no one is going to look out for your child as much as you will have to.

I’ve been lucky along the way to have the guidance of some pretty amazing educators and administrators who went to bat for my child, and am grateful to have those experiences. I have also encountered some terrible administrators along the way.

Currently I work with an amazing educator whose passion and experience makes all the difference..it’s almost like co-parenting! It’s a tough system, but once you get the diagnosis and designation(s), at least you have something concrete to hold in your hand and use to push for more help.

Now, back to the prevalence model being proposed- Are funding changes needed to special education? Absolutely. Right now parents are made to feel like its their kids who are broken when it fact they aren’t…it is the system that is broken.

Read that again. Your child is not broken…the system is broken. And if we move to the prevalence model I fear it will be more broken than it is now.

So what is the prevalence model? Patti Bacchus did an excellent explanation earlier this year and I will refer to it:

The prevalence model

It sounds simple enough. Instead of requiring school districts, parents, and kids to jump through a bunch of diagnostic and administrative hoops for special education designations that qualify for supplemental special-education funding grants, just give school districts funding based on the general prevalence of special needs in the school-aged population.

After all, government types will tell you that about eight percent of the special-education funding is spent on the “administrivia” required to determine who generates what funding. It makes sense, in theory, to redirect that money to providing services to students.

So why are parents like me, who have spent many years fighting through the current system, and teachers now worried?

Because while just cutting out all the paperwork to spend more money on children with special needs sounds great in theory, in actuality parents should be greatly concerned, particularly for low-mid income earners.  Here is why: 

“The prevalence model will lead to fewer special needs assessments and diagnoses,” responded Hansman. “Without that information, teachers will lose valuable insights at the start of each year when they begin working with a new class. If there is no record of diagnosis and paperwork articulating the nature of a student’s disability or learning challenges, teachers will not be able to properly address that child’s needs as they move through different grades. This disconnection in the name of accounting efficiencies will hamstring teachers’ efforts to support all students.

 

“Moving to a prevalence model will also force parents to fight even harder for specialized supports and services. Families who can afford it will turn to outside psychologists to diagnose their children’s needs. But kids whose parents can’t afford it, or don’t have a parent pushing hard in the principal’s office, will be left behind.”

That is a hard pill to swallow and it’s anything but fair or right.

The wait list for public system diagnosis’s can be a year or longer depending on where you live. It costs thousands for a private assessment, depending on your child’s challenges. And what makes this even more distasteful is that many parents, when first starting this journey, fear speaking out, because they fear losing what little help they get. Bureaucrats know this.

Those designations and assessments, as difficult as it can be to get them, are the only thing that differentiates your child from anyone else. Many parents and kids may end up waiting even longer because the overall funding and staffing isn’t even there right now.

And to make this proposed change even worse? Many parents have no clue this is even happening. Education Minister Rob Fleming  appointed a panel of bureaucrats to review all these proposed changes to our children’s education, in relative secrecy.

Parents of children who will be directly impacted have not been widely consulted. (most parents are still clueless as to what this will means)

Parent groups were not widely consulted. ( I’m told a working group of special education parents was created, but information on who was involved or what was submitted is not widely known )

Many teachers, if not most, still oppose this funding model, for all the same big concerns I and other parents have.

And as we all know, bureaucrats usually consider the bottom line : money.

There is also a bit of relatable history to look at which is fueling concerns. Also from the Patti Bacchus piece linked to above:

“History lessons

You only need to look back to see what happened when the B.C. Liberal government did something similar when it announced targeted funding grants for gifted students would be rolled into general funding grants to school districts, and school boards could figure out the best way to use that money.

What followed was a huge drop in students being assessed and identified as gifted, and subsequent cuts to gifted programs. Those psycho-educational assessments that are used to identify and designate kids also provide detailed information about how individual students learn and can provide the key to why they may be struggling. Assessments help educators design programs and plans to help students succeed. Without that information, students and their teachers can flounder and end up with poor outcomes.

What I’ve also watched happen over the past decade-and-a-half in Vancouver is that parents who have the means to get their kids privately assessed for giftedness or learning disabilities are able to use that information to advocate for their kids and get them increased support and accommodations at school. That’s great for them but not for those who can’t afford to shell out the $3,000 dollars or so it can cost to get a private psycho-educational assessment. That’s a major equity issue, and I fear a shift to a prevalence model could make that a whole lot worse, leaving lower-income kids at an increased disadvantage if schools no longer see the benefit of getting struggling kids assessed by an educational psychologist.

Too often kids who haven’t been properly assessed, particularly low-income kids, are treated as primarily having behaviour problems when what they really have is some form of a learning disability. They get frustrated in class and end up acting out. Instead of figuring out why they’re frustrated and what kind of help they need, the focus is on their behaviour.

As we learned with the gifted experience, school districts are less inclined to get kids assessed if they don’t think doing so will get the district any more funding, so that problem could become a lot worse than it already is under a prevalence model without some strong safeguards in place.

While government will tell you school districts must provide appropriate supports and services for all students, regardless of their designations, those with kids with unfunded designations are often told there isn’t any money to give their kids extra support.”

*This is where I remind every NDP MLA out there, that you campaigned on education, with teachers and parents so desperate to see a positive change, to get elected. And now? We have been left out of a critical funding change that impacts each of us.*

So where are we with all this today ?

I feel so bad, as a parent who is still fully invested in this on a daily basis, and as long time public voice on issues like this, for not catching this before now. I’ll be brutally honest. I thought the NDP would do the right thing, that on this issue at least, they would make things right. Wow, was I wrong.

This was included in the email I received: https://twitter.com/browning_jilli/status/1188277010725916672

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new prevalence funding model will be put before Cabinet in November as an entire package. With absolutely no information out here for parents as to what and how this would roll out and impact our kids.

We’ve already seen big issues in BC schools this fall, and it hasn’t even begun to make news like it should. Despite injections of cash, BC education is still grossly underfunded and understaffed.

There is a shortage of EA’s  ( educational assistants) in many if not most districts, including my own, which means kids with special needs are still being sent home when no EA can be found.

There still isn’t nearly enough staff or funding under the current model and this government knows that. They campaigned on funding BCED properly and what is needed here is more funding, period. Implementing this new model in an underfunded system is truly a very big mistake. Just fund the system properly.

The only losers here if this Prevalence Model passes, will be kids and this is going to blindside thousands of parents. 

So what can we do?

Call or email Education Minister Rob Fleming, today or as soon as possible, and ask him to stop  and share information with the public  and parents PRIOR to voting on this package of recommendations. 

Minister Rob Fleming-Legislative Office:

Room 124 Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC  V8V 1X4

 Phone: (250) 356-8247
 Fax: (250) 356-0948

And when you are done that, call or email your local MLA as well. You can find all their contact information at this handy link https://www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/members

** Missed my last post ? Check out lessons from Election 2019, exporting LNG down the Fraser River, and the Money Laundering stunner at https://lailayuile.com/2019/10/26/saturday-morning-coffee-round-up-election-2019-lng-in-delta-money-laundering-inquiry-stunner/

Saturday morning coffee round up: Election 2019, LNG in Delta & money laundering inquiry stunner

It’s been a rather exhausting but productive week and I am sitting in bed with my laptop propped on a pillow, with the most divine, steaming hot Italian coffee concoction beside me, on my bedside table. I just recently discovered the  incredibly sensual gustatory pleasure that happens when one whips an egg yolk with sugar in a coffee cup until frothy, then slowly adds expresso( or just hot dark coffee). My gawd! Next level perfection,as the addition of one simple egg yolk not only gives a rich mouth feel and creaminess cream cant match, it kinda also makes coffee a legit breakfast!

But enough of my love affair with coffee, there’s so much to talk about, starting with….

Election 2019 aftermath

Wow hey?! Once again a minority government situation and once again, not surprised. While a majority of Canadians voted against Conservative ideals, they do not agree on one single way forward. The feeling nationally has been very much like the feeling here in BC before the last election, with voters really not happy overall with the federal Liberals. CPC or the NDP. Hence the rise of the Bloc and while the Greens only gained one seat, their vote did rise. Instead of being humbled at this result, Trudeau has still somehow managed to convey the vacuous, somewhat childlike arrogance he displayed throughout Lavscam, post election! With any luck we shouldn’t have to see Scheer for much longer as I hear a strong movement to install Peter Mackay is in the works. 

And that, my friends, should have everyone concerned, for a couple of reasons. One, Mackay is well liked and respected, across partisan lines. He’s very intelligent, experienced and savvy… and to be blunt, he’s a marketable candidate: good looking, mature but young enough to have longevity, brilliant and accomplished spouse with a gorgeous family.  Two, progressives in Canada and the left as defined usually by the NDP, haven’t learned much about the consequences of toxic, blind partisanship…or how their own behaviour continues to help the rise of the Right.

I just don’t get it. There is nothing wrong with being loyal to your party, but there is fine line between being loyal, and acting like a cult member defending things that are not defensible. This election was no different. Partisans on the left forget that most people in this country, DO NOT BELONG TO A POLITICAL PARTY. Most people just want a leader who will do the right thing, tell the truth, not talk around issues and waffle, and not make ridiculous promises we know they won’t ever keep. Partisans on the left are just as bad, if not worse in some cases, than partisans on the right. What  many left/ progressives still fail to understand is that marginalising anyone who doesn’t agree their way is the only way, isn’t helping them get votes. Marginalising critics of their party, isn’t getting them votes. I saw many calling Bob Mackin a right wing toadie. Same for Dermod Travis of Integrity BC. Nothing could be further than the truth for either of these men, but nonetheless that is the level of desperation being shown online. People can disagree with your preferred party and still be an ally. Blind loyalty is what breeds the kind of arrogant desperation we saw in Clark prior to her defeat, and I saw that happening with Trudeau before this election. When your leader does something wrong, or comes up with really bad policy, don’t defend it. Own it, and acknowledge it instead of saying “Oh but your leader did something worse ” . This isn’t kindergarten and the public isn’t stupid, but they are feeling disrespected and frustrated with fake promises and even worse policy when it comes to climate and the economy.

The sanctimonious, self-righteous attitudes of some partisans needs to be checked at the door if there is any chance of appealing to the people in the middle who might vote right when someone like Peter Mackay comes along. Now, onto….

The Fraser River LNG export terminal the BC govt forgot to mention in the refuelling station press release

It was yet another one of Clarks now infamous hard hat press ops, when she joined workers  at the LNG plant expansion on Tilbury Island back in 2015.  

That was when the proposal for the WestPac LNG terminal jetty at Tilbury first made the news, except it wasn’t announced as a refueling station, it was announced as an export terminal back then.

Which is why I raised an eyebrow when I saw the press release quietly issued by the BC government at 4:30 on the eve of the UNDRIP event at the legislature. That press release still mentions only an LNG refuelling facility at Tilbury.

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019PREM0116-002035

 

 

 

 

 

Except the refueling station at Tilbury, when complete, isnt just for refueling.

We won’t talk about the significant hypocrisy of watching ‘clean’ LNG tankers sail up the Fraser, past the mountains of dirty US thermal coal at Roberts Bank still being exported to Asia via our ports because the US ports wont handle it.

Nor will we talk about the only reason Clark planned such a big bridge over the Massey Tunnel is because the projects planned around 2015, would have required a removal of the tunnels so the river could be dredged deeper to allow for panamax size tankers to navigate the river safely.  Those of us familiar with the Asia Pacific Gateway strategy, remember this well because there was massive opposition to both coal ships and LNG tankers being filled in the Fraser.

So, I went to do a little looking to see where this Tilbury project was at and what a surprise, the westpac project website openly mentions the export of LNG from the Fraser River site.

 

 

 

I wish I could say I was surprised. I haven’t followed local politics on the mainland very much since moving to the island,  so totally missed the Delta papers coverage of this.

I will say I am sorely disappointed and dismayed that the export aspect of the Tilbury Westpac project was completely left out of the government press release, except in reference to where smaller ships will fuel at.  In September, Fortis BC announced it had already secured its first export contract with China out of the already expanded plant on Tilbury https://www.delta-optimist.com/news/fortisbc-secures-first-export-contract-for-tilbury-lng-facility-1.23886948

Horgan is literally following exactly in Clarks footsteps here, and it makes me wonder how long it is before a bridge over the Fraser to replace the Massey once again suddenly becomes the better option. Thats usually how these kinds of things happen. This also means a significant increase in tanker traffic into the river and as anyone who takes the ferry from Tsawassen can attest, whales are seen in increasing numbers all along Robert’s Bank.

All the environmental assessment documents can be found here for the westpac terminal in the Fraser, for those interested. It was suspended in August to allow for a further expanded look at marine traffic. https://www.projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/p/58851208aaecd9001b829b58/project-details;currentPage=1;pageSize=10;sortBy=-dateAdded;ms=1572112160419

Here is where it brings forth more questions.This link from Hellenic Shipping News, paints a very different activity than the greenwash of ship refueling for the ship to ship terminal in the govts press release above

New LNG bunkering terminal floated – literally

“Once in operation, it would have one berth for one LNG carrier, and a berth for smaller LNG bunkering barges. In addition to a domestic bunkering market, WesPac expects there will also be LNG export opportunities, with Asia being the main market.

The terminal is expected to see up to *69 bunkering barges and 68 LNG carriers coming to and from the terminal annually.*

 

So…lets see if I have this right….?

Christy Clark LNG dreams were bad, but now that Horgans doing it ( and increased subsidies) , it’s ok?  Tell me how that works, my friends. If we are exporting from Delta, and Kitimat and Squamish, that means an even bigger expansion of fracking up in northwestern BC. How is it remotely possible for BC to meet its emissions targets?

Last but not least..

The Money Laundering Inquiry story that made my stomach drop

WTF? You know that moment when your stomach drops because you know something very wrong has happened? Yeah, that happened when I read the story below. Read and digest.

https://biv.com/article/2019/10/whistleblower-relegated-witness-role-money-laundering-inquiry

Two significant whistleblowers against money laundering in B.C. casinos will not having special standing status during the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, Commissioner Austin Cullen ruled Friday.They may, nevertheless, still play key roles in providing information and context of the issue as witnesses.

Fred Pinnock, the RCMP Unit Commander of the Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET) for British Columbia from September 2005 until his retirement in 2008, was denied standing status.

A week prior to Friday’s ruling, whistleblower Ross Alderson, former director of anti-money laundering and investigations at BC Lottery Corp. (BCLC), said he would no longer pursue his standing status application, but rather provide testimony whenever called upon.

Alderson claims, in media reports, that officials ignored his warnings and reports. Pinnock has stated the public has been misled as to the nature and degree of money laundering and other criminal activity taking place in casinos.

Former BC Liberal cabinet minister (and current MLA) Rich Coleman shut down Pinnock’s IIGET unit in 2009.

Standing status grants special or highly knowledgeable individuals or groups procedural rights during the two-year inquiry. Cullen has yet to determine those rights but they may include representation by counsel, proposing witnesses, applying to participate in evidentiary hearings, reviewing documents and making submissions.

Who did make the list of those with standing status?

BCLC president and CEO on leave, Jim Lightbody and Robert Kroeker, the former VP of corporate compliance who was alleged to have told staff to ease up on anti money laundering measures to allow dirty money to flow through casinos. 

I think its a big failure to have not granted these two whistleblowers standing status. Huge failure.

Above all, the public must have assurance that this inquiry is conducted on a level playing field. There can be no hint of impropriety, imbalance or unfair advantage. It is in great part because of Pinnock and Aldersen that we are even seeing an inquiry and I take umbrage with Cullens assertion that Pinnocks reputation and rights are not at risk. Certain parties and supporters of the former government ( and of Rich Coleman ) have tried to sully this mans name and reputation  in an attempt to discredit the information he brought forward.

Both Pinnock and Aldersen are likely to be party to information and specific knowledge that would allow them to call forth other witnesses, and compell testimony, that may not be heard if they are merely responding as witnesses. Witnesses cannot cross examine, a compelling and critical feature in this inquiry.

This is where I will again refer you to two prior posts in which Sean Holman interviewed Rich Coleman in a series of videos about why and what lead to the disbanding of the IIGET, in which there are still many unanswered questions. In fact, I dissected one portion of Colemans answers in this post: https://lailayuile.com/2018/06/27/money-and-corruption-are-ruining-the-land-2/

And in this post, we discussed further the irregularities of Colemans statements,via those very important videos of Seans. https://lailayuile.com/2019/02/05/the-coleman-files/

I’ve made no bones about how disappointed I am that the province didn’t decide to go with a sweeping Charbonneau style commission. Corruption doesn’t begin or end with a political party because the network that allowed it to occur exists far beyond elected officials or one government or even law enforcement. It exists beyond money laundering in casinos and real estate. So limiting the roles of the whistleblowers who brought so much to light, is in effect, limiting the role of the inquiry to get to the places it needs to be. And I believe the public is smart enough to see this, based on the stunned reactions of readers and friends to this news.

I’m not sure if there is a process for Pinnock to appeal Cullens ruling on this, but I would hope a public outrage would spur it. I’m curious too, why Aldersen pulled his application. One hopes he wasn’t pressured.

There can be no compromise when it comes to fighting corruption. Anything less is to become complicit.

That’s it, its sunny and I have mountains of leaves to rake and cover my gardens with. Let me know what you think of all this in the comments below and I’ll be back to see you later.

 

On Autumn, Gratitude and Listening to your Soul

2019022It’s been a crazy fall in terms of politics: provincially we have the ongoing legislature scandal and federally we have the election everyone is gobsmacked by.

I’d intended to blog about it all but Facebook memories reminded me ( as only the  pervasive creepiness of Facebook can do), that two years ago Wedensday, Rafe Mair moved onto raise Hell in another realm.

Well damn. Enough time has passed that I forgot, but not enough time to keep me from feeling saddened at his departure all over again.

I found myself thinking about him and some of the things he had written while walking through the forest shortcut home after a meeting. It was chilly still and I pulled my sweater more tightly around me against the cold of the shade when the sun suddenly hit my face. I stopped, squinting my eyes as I tried to focus looking at the light, savouring the feeling of the welcome sunbeam squeezing between stately trees in the early cold of an island autumn… and then just stood there for a moment and let the warmth wash over me.

20171017_122617_HDR~2I suddenly felt the urge to stop and write, that very instant…so there I sat,writing in the forest on a massive stump, embraced by trees whose crispy leaves flutter like paper in the wind. Where sunlight streams through tree trunks like guiding lights, where the only sound was my lungs inhaling and exhaling air so cool I leave condensation on my reading glasses.

I read a blog recently written by the sister of a valued friend,  in which she wrote:

” There are maybe a hundred unfinished pieces  hiding behind this one. I sometimes worry that my thoughts scramble before they hit the page. But that’s what blogs are for, I think. At least this is what they are for me. A place to download, often quickly,  the passing ruminations of a life well lived as I am able… I am often composing something as I move…”

I felt that,deeply. For each blog I rarely do post now, there are so many more I don’t. No matter where or what I do, I am composing in my mind, vignettes of life and thoughts and yet so little do I bother writing these bits down. Which is ironic because that kind of writing is what truly makes me happy.

Over years of blogging I inadvertently pigeonholed myself in terms of my writing. BC politics is what I love and what you wanted, but on the rare occasion I posted from my heart and soul, those posts attracted so many more readers.  Why? Rafe knew. And in revisiting those posts and his comments, I laughed and smiled.. was this serendipity at work? And I knew that moment his words were what many need to hear right now, in the heart of this wretched and crucial election:

Fast forward many years and to my families move to the island, a northern girl at heart leaving the suffocating cloak of city living behind… rediscovering just how inherent a connection to the land is when you grew up dependent on it.

Rafe was one of a very few who ‘got’ the evolution I was going through, as a writer who had spent years documenting corruption and misdeeds of the BC Liberals ..but also as a parent…and as a woman…but most importantly as a British Columbian… his remarks always struck home in a big way, in two posts I have written in particular…

The first is this one: https://lailayuile.com/2016/08/18/weve-hit-a-point-bc-where-each-of-us-needs-to-decide-what-kind-of-province-we-are-going-to-be/  

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Written while living on a mountain, in between metro Van home and Comox Valley home, I bared my soul to readers, speaking to my re-connection with not just nature, but our reliance on it. And Rafe got it immediately:

“Laila, that was your soul speaking.

Until we all start listening to our souls and let it speak – and stop voting for those who live in our glorious province, who look around them and only see ways to convert what they see into cash will steadily ruin us and our heritage. They make it appear that upon every desecration proposed by Daddy Warbucks, depends our food, shelter and livelihood.

Until we understand that Industry controls our government and what little media is left, and that the oil industry controls industry, we will more and more be left to dream of what used to be.

We elect these cretins and then when we try to offset their evil by voting NDP or Green, but we find that they have no stomach for the fight assuming, it would seem, and perhaps correctly, that we prefer progress as defined by the oil industry because otherwise there may be sacrifices to make…
It’s one thing to be a peaceful people quite another to be supine…”

 

Rafe not only got what I was trying to say in that post, he got everything I was feeling that I did not write. He knew I was disillusioned with hateful, partisan politics…

It stuck with me profoundly because just a week earlier I had written this piece: https://lailayuile.com/2016/08/11/as-for-me-i-know-nothing-more-than-miracles-walt-whitman/

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,there is a field. I’ll meet you there.When the soul lies down in that grass,the world is too full to talk about.Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.”~ mevlana jelaluddin rumi

Since I read my first book of rumi’s writings and read this passage, I find myself reminded every time I find a luscious field in summer…. high with timothy or wild grass, rife with daisies bobbing their heads as they reach, reach for the sun… the wind blows lightly that rustling dry sound not unlike a million tiny wind chimes, delights the ear and cools the skin…I can’t help but walk, hands dragging lightly through the grass, the scent of summer in the air until a feeling of complete and utter peace overcomes me.This is the field I imagine rumi speaks of… one where we are free of judgment, free from conflict…where we are free from labels of left and right, gender or race, your way or my way and things get done because it’s the right thing to do, not because it serves any other purpose.Maybe one day, I’ll meet you there…”

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And while some objected privately to my writing about things meaningful beyond politics, Rafe got why I wrote about it… and made me understand why and how it mattered when fighting for things that mattered, or trying to save things from destruction:

“Laila – if you live to 90, never stop writing pieces like this. If you do, you will have lost that little guiding light of faith which tells us all, but even more tells you, that you still care. I may have told you – after all at my age I’m entitled to forget things – when I was a little boy my mother and I would lie on the lawn and create figures from the clouds. If Mom saw, say, a rabbit and I couldn’t make it out, she would laugh and say “Rafe, you have no soul”. I’ve never forgotten and when trying to save something from destruction, I always ask, “man, have you no soul?”

You have a beautiful soul, your most important possession. Keep showing it whenever you feel like it for its a message we all need to hear.”

These wise words of Rafe, written two years ago but still so relevent now, are so important as we begin to elect our next prime minister…

The light is fading early now, as it does at in October. I’ve written off and on all day in the moments between my work. The sky is peach and will morph into pink, mauve and then the luminescent indigo that only happens right before the black of night . A thousand starlings are chirping in a crescendo that signals the imminent moment they are going take off to dance over the fields in an amazing display of murmuration. If there is one time that any person who was not raised to appreciate  nature, would be able to reconnect with the land, it would be now, at dusk. The air is cool, but my cheeks are flushed with awe of all around me.To feel this experience I’m trying to put words to, is to understand how nature is intrinsic to our soul…and critical to changing the course of our path on this planet.

There is so much talk now of climate change. Of saving the world. Of zero waste, reusable bags and “sustainable” development. Which is all good and fine and I am right there always practicing and advocating for truly renewable and sustainable ways of moving this world forward….

But I think its no accident that Rafes words came back to me this week, which is why I am writing this. It’s perhaps as much for me, as for you and for his legacy. Do you love this world around us? I think you do. I just saw hundreds of thousands of people who listened to their souls and marched in the streets because they were finally moved to action and wanted those in power to listen.

Sometimes we don’t know what to do, or how to start, and fear of change can be paralyzing. But so many are taking a deep breath and moving through and beyond that fear,whether it’s in their own habits or whether its marching in the street. When we do this, we make it easier for others to grab their courage and do the same. Remember the power individual drops of water have together in a river…

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. (Rafe would have, with some choice words 😉) That vote is yours, and yours only. Do not let people bully or harass you out of it.

I will however, ask you to do this: for once, listen to your soul before you vote. Yes, please do your research, and be wary of exaggerated promises, but consider Rafes words again :

Until we understand that Industry controls our government and what little media is left, and that the oil industry controls industry, we will more and more be left to dream of what used to be.

We elect these cretins and then when we try to offset their evil by voting NDP or Green, but we find that they have no stomach for the fight assuming, it would seem, and perhaps correctly, that we prefer progress as defined by the oil industry because otherwise there may be sacrifices to make…
It’s one thing to be a peaceful people quite another to be supine…”

This system isn’t working. And some of these politicians have no soul, they only have agendas.

If we stop voting for those beholden to industry, and for those who greenwash industry to try and make you feel better about what they know is wrong, we might get back on track.  Both the NDP and Greens are both showing they do have the fight now, and in a perfect world I’d love to see a government between the two, leaving Trudeaus crew and Scheers to sit in a long, much needed time out. Because those people are a helluva bigger reason why we are in the state we are in, than anything else.( remember Harper? Let’s not do that again!)

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Happy Thanksgiving my friends. I’m feeling so much gratitude for the things that really matter this year, my family, my mobility and our health.

I am grateful for those of  you who appreciate my rare blogs still. 🙏🏼 And I am grateful for this beautiful valley and island I call home. Hug your loved ones…and then hug them a bit longer. ❤ And try to find a quiet moment outside somewhere..just for a moment…and listen to your soul.