A note on political patronage and cronyism.

“I would argue that one of the issues which the public should be much more  emphatic about with all politicians… is patronage, appointing people to high  positions because they supported your campaign or helped you raise money.”

 ~ John  Hickenlooper

Yesterday will remain a fond memory for me in terms of news: Duffy squealing with glee, waving documents that should have had Stephen Harper’s testicles rising back into his body. It’s always a moment when the house of cards starts falling and the guilty rush to beat each other to the punch, turning and eating their own in a rush to save their own skin. Brutal, not unlike the natural world we live in.

However, here on the west coast, the news centered around the purely political patronage appointments given to Ben Stewart, John Les and Gordon Wilson.

Ben Stewart of course, gave up his seat as MLA so Clark could run in his safe riding after losing in her own, here in Vancouver, after the last election. No big surprise that he would find a soft landing – sources in Beijing tell me the social scene is quite robust for government appointees of any kind, in particular for Canadian  contacts deemed with beefing up Asian investment. For the sake of Canada,let’s hope he doesn’t fall for a ‘honey pot’  like other government agents have over the years…

The more interesting story to me, was the appointment of Gordon F.D. Wilson, to the position of  “Buy BC advocate” for LNG, with a meagre yearly salary of $50,000, which is a drop in the bucket in terms of government salaries, period.  Why? Because Buy BC .. or Buy Local… runs in the family. More on that in a moment.

Wilson is without a doubt, an interesting choice, considering we really don’t have an LNG market yet.. all those sparkles and unicorns have yet to appear, problems are cropping up and it remains to be seen how much LNG BC will, in fact, ever produce. Considering how late to the table BC is in comparison to Australia, the US and other countries with developed markets, and the pricing hurdles BC LNG must overcome, it’s even more apparently a token offering than anything else.

Also interesting is that Wilson has been, over the years, a bit of an environmental advocate -at least for their farming property along the sunshine coast-  which would seemingly put him at odds with the fracking industry in principle. He and Judi have long-standing political connections to Christy Clark and the BC liberals, although not always amicable.

It was back on May 5th that Gordon Wilson announced he was ” Coming Home” via a YouTube video. http://www.straight.com/news/379206/christy-clark-endorser-gordon-wilson-faced-recent-financial-troubles

Of course, there was no mention in the video that Wilson had been facing financial difficulties via the foreclosure proceedings on his property that were revealed by Bob Mackin in the Georgia Straight link above, and also in Business in Vancouver. Unpleasant, sad and  very unfortunate news to all who knew Judi and Gordon as friends in person and online, it made for divisions in friendships when the news broke, but was still relevant because of the timing of the endorsement. Sources indicated that the For Sale sign on the farm came down within weeks of the endorsement but no one asked why, or how.

Greatly under the radar however, was the already ongoing work of his spouse, Judi Tyabji, who had been hired as a consultant to push an initiative as part of the Buy Local Program announced by the BC Government originally in 2012, that didn’t really take off until the spring of 2013. This was when the BC Liberals felt a certain degree of concern over potentially losing the Comox Valley riding to the NDP in the upcoming election and both parties began concentrating their efforts on the riding tremendously.

Sources indicate that in the Comox Valley, many an eyebrow was raised after the awarding of a $100,ooo grant  in March of this year to Sunshine Organics to facilitate the promotion, purchase and/or delivery of locally produced goods, other than the Comox Farmers Market. Sunshine Organics ( and Judi) were to endeavor to promote and ‘brand’ produce and products grown on the Sunshine Coast and the Comox Valley.

Reported by the Comox Valley Echo: http://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/news/199251051.html?mobile=true

Judygrant

“Sunshine Organics received a grant of $100,000 from the B.C. government presented by Comox Valley MLA Don McRae to promote local agriculture and connect the consumer with producers.

“It’s a buy local campaign and we’re trying to maki it as wide-reaching as possible,” owner Melissa Call explained to media.

“The money will be used for the campaign for promoting coastal-grown products,” she added.

~snip~

Call said they have around 80 customers each in the two communities, and are looking to grow thanks to the grant.

~snip~

Judi Tyabji, president of Pebble in the Pond Environmental Society in Powell River, attended Tuesday’s announcement.”

What the Comox Valley Record didn’t state, was that Judi Tyabji, (who was present for the awarding with no explanation as to why that was in the article ) and owner of Sunshine Organics, Melissa Call, are both founders of the Pebble in the Pond Society, of which Judi Tyabji is president.  http://www.pebpond.com/About%20PIP.html#Melissa

In fact, when Judi applied to appear in a delegation before the Comox Valley Regional District earlier in October with the Sunshine Organics crew, again no mention was made that both Melissa Call and Judi Tyabji were co-founders of Pebble in the Pond Society together. http://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/news/227839851.html

Records of the application verify Tyabji was working as a consultant for the Suncoast Grown ‘brand’ promoting products grown on the island and the Sunshine Coast. ( Very convenient that a short ferry ride separates the Comox Valley from Powell River.)

Judytyabjiconsultant

Interestingly enough, at the same time as this delegation was to appear before the Regional District, Judi issued this tweet referring to ‘political planning’ in the valley…:

judypoliticalplanning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, anyone who makes the Comox Valley their home knows what a tight community the area has, and how supportive the local producers are of each other in the efforts to create a sustainable industry that supports local farmers. It’s an area with incredible natural bounty. So, why would the awarding of this $100,000 grant back in the spring raise eyebrows of locals?

Because sources indicate that at the time of this large grant to Sunshine Organics, the local farmers market in the valley had been told they couldn’t apply for a grant because 1) there was no more money and 2) ‘the funds had already been allocated.’ ( where?)

And that would  impact all local producers at the time.

It wasn’t only in the Comox Valley that this grant award stood out, it was all over the province, since most commodity growers like the Potato Growers and Strawberry Growers only averaged around $35,000 grants to forward their own ventures in buying local. In speaking to contacts all over BC since this came to me yesterday, it was apparent that the outrage and questions spread beyond the Sunshine Coast and Comox Valley, to producers in the interior as well.

It is also worth noting that no producer would speak on the record, for fear that they might lose funding in future years, for criticizing or even questioning the situation. And that sentiment was repeated with farmers and producers I spoke with all over the province.

I ask you, how does an atmosphere of fear among local food producers, assist in furthering BC food production? It boggles the mind!

Sadly, the SunCoastGrown twitter feed ( @SunCoastGrown)  has only garnered 538 followers and while no one can speak to how the grant enhanced the Sunshine Coast Organics business, sources in the Comox Valley indicate the money could have been better spent helping local farmers by awarding it to groups or societies that could effect real change in the valley for producers.

Twitter accounts are free, posting tweets don’t cost anything and local community newspaper ads aren’t that expensive. A facebook page set up by Sun Coast Grown can also costs nothing and has around 500 members with 2 people talking about it.

The grant from the government was also supposed to be matched by the business that received it – something people all over the Comox Valley and Sunshine coast are questioning how that was achieved.

Judi and Gordon have been local sheep farmers on the Sunshine Coast for years in addition to their other businesses, and understand at the basic, core level of small/local farmer production what that means, and what sacrifices and labours that entails.

On that level, one knows that they also  understand the challenges small and local producers encounter, particularly with the CETA agreement that is completely supported by the BC Liberals.  Local cheese producers in particular on the island – among others-  will likely feel the impact of much more inexpensive European cheese and other products flooding the local markets.

Many local food producers in the Comox Valley state they feel that the awarding of the grant to Sunshine Organics and their partners, has had little impact in the Comox Valley  overall despite several producers being included in the delivered boxes. With the awarding of this patronage appointment to Gordon Wilson, the emails were flying into my email box yesterday and last night.

Where did the $100,ooo grant go? What is it being spent on? Who benefitted from it? Is Judi’s salary as a consultant coming from that grant money?

Sunshine Organics is a private business, not a non-partisan organization, and stands to profit from increased business. There is nothing wrong with this, but when government grants go to private businesses, there must be some degree of accountability.

No one I spoke to had any answers, leaving me with only a line of mounting questions.

Why was the relationship between Judi Tyabji and the owner of Sunshine Organics never openly revealed?

Who specifically is Judi working for? Sunshine Organics, or the BC government?

Since no one is talking, and I can’t contact Judi Tyabji –  she blocked me after I posted Bob Makin’s story on the foreclosure to Facebook – your guess is as good as mine. But the business connections between Tyabji and the owners of Sunshine Organics -via Pebble in the Pond – and the granting of the $100,000 dollars to Sunshine Organics must certainly be subject to public examination, considering the other personal,business and historical connections that exist between Tyabji, Wilson, and Christy Clark, as well as between  Sunshine Organics, Pebble in the Pond, and  their directors and owners.

The paid and created appointments by Christy Clark this week to those who have proved their loyalty to her in the past must be examined for their partisan nature, Gwen O’Mahoney aside. ( she received an unpaid appointment)

In this case, particularly because Sunshine Organics received $100,000 in a government grant, and Judi Tyabji is directly involved in a side business relationship with the owner of that company.

39 thoughts on “A note on political patronage and cronyism.

  1. Doesn’t surprise me at all. This province is littered with similar ethically-challenged “special” relationships. So many of our politicians have lost the moral right to govern. From the senate to the sunshine coast we see the same type of corrupt and criminal behavior. It has become the way that politics is done in this country. The system is not only corrupt but it is also broken beyond repair.

    Laila, thank you for shining your special brand of sunshine on what is really happening on the sunshine coast.

    My vote for the best word picture of the year… “…waving documents that should have had Stephen Harper’s testicles rising back into his body”.

    …ross buchanan

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    1. Mike

      Hmmmm…. Laila does know how to turn a phrase. This one actually makes my eyes water. Anyway, your sweeping condemnation of politicians is, well sweeping. I get your frustration but do you really think it could work any differently? Political affliations are not unlike social networking contacts. The only distinction for me in the poltical context is did they break the law or out and out lie. Laila’s article points to a strange relationship between yesterdays politician and the B.C. Premiers suspect agenda. So what is Madame Clark trying to accomplish here? Aside from the usual pandering that all politicians practise, this one is more amusing than significant. Yes this is taxpayer dollars, however, we elect them to tax and spend. I doubt it would work if everyone micro managed every single expenditure made by government. I don’t see a smoking gun here and not liking some or all of the participants is simply not enough to go on.

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      1. Lew

        Mike, they can affiliate politically and socially network until the cows come home; it’s their choice and their right. If they do it on their own dime.

        Standing silent through this continual lolly-handout to friends and insiders (or political affiliates and social networks as you liken them) can only be described as apathy. And I don’t find it simply amusing, as you do.

        At what dollar point do you consider a citizen to be micro managing when it comes to public money? It seems that your bar is set somewhere above $50,000, because I certainly didn’t see any public competition for Gordon Wilson’s latest gig wherein he apparently is going to inform major international players in the LNG market that BC has the best LNG in the whole wide world. While I’m sure these major players are completely unaware of BC’s potential and will be grateful for his advice, I’d like to see some proof that he was chosen because he’s the best we can buy for our money.

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        1. Laila

          Mike, those who have known Judy and Gordon online,know as I do, that they too for a long time prior to the endorsement, questioned not only Clarks direction in leadership but her decisions as well. More than once it was said perhaps ” Clark will return to her Liberal roots”. The patronage appointment by Clark of Wilson is clearly thanks for the endorsement and his acceptance furthered the extreme disappointment many of their friends felt following the endorsement.

          I do not hold a sweeping condemnation of all politicians- that is incorrect. There are many excellent representatives out there, unfortunately the bad behavior of many federally and provincially tends to overshadow the good work being done.

          No one expects to micromanage expenditures, but certainly accountability and transparency of those expenditures is absolutely for the public domain to examine and if need be, question.
          That is exactly what I am doing here. And you might find some interest and reflection by clicking on the link to the author of that quote above. He’s had quite a bit to say about mayors… 😉

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          1. Mike

            Thank you Lew and Laila. Your comments are very practical and don’t disagree in the main with either of you. J David Cox (below) may have made my underlying point best saying …” We need to keep the scale of misdeeds in mind ’cause mankind has a never ending supply of them.

            Let us focus on the medium to large issues and leave the petty ones to those who live in glass houses.” If we can’t (or don’t) keep a measure of perspective on many of these “issues”, the truly questionable politicians will have us all chasing our tails.

            Most of us are rightly concerned about values, ethics and honesty and we should be. Most politicians start with high minded ideals only to look at issues in terms of “how can I get there?”. On the one hand, principled behavior morphs into “goal directed” behavior” because the political goal becomes the sole focus.

            I’m not defending this notion as correct, however, if you can accept it as a process, you also will keep your focus on your ultimate goal.
            (hopefully to accomplish something we all want and need)

            Laila is especially adept at sniffing out the relationship side of politicians and their corresponding behaviors, not a bad thing. I’m only suggesting you keep one eye on the road and the other on the horizon.

            In my business, we are all actors, some good and some not so good…. you always need to make up your own mind lest you end up following, rather than leading.

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  2. oceantor

    Viva Viva Viva Le Revolution – Time for BC to become a seperate country. If it wasn’t for tyabji, do you think Gordon would have been a better Premier then Gordon lying Campbell? Eh? Viva Viva Viva Le Revolution!!!
    PS – Politicians should be exiled to the moon without a helmet. Eh? Eh? Oh Yeah!!

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  3. I’ve been following SenCa (twitter) ..blown away by what is unfolding. I actually thought it was making BC look ‘tame’ lol. To come here today and see this (God Bless you Laila-what would we DO without your digging?) just shows me that things have gone underground, taking advantage of the Federal distraction. Heavy sigh does not even half describe how I feel. 😦

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    1. Laila

      Timing of stories certainly are interesting. Often if a bad news story is out, the gov will deflect and manipulate by releasing another story to detract from it, like the liquor being sold in grocery stores, story. And yes, the gong show being put on by the feds doesn’t help matters!

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    1. Laila

      I really enjoy having a wide spectrum of readers from all political leanings and agreeing on everything would be not only boring, but unproductive. What is important is starting the discussions that need to be had.

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  4. Laila, you know we don’t always agree, but I would hate to live in a world where everyone had to agree on everything. I said that because I want people to know I do not blanket endorse everything you write.

    But this is a great example of journalism at its best. This is what journalists are supposed to be doing. A journalists responsibility is to expose information to the public,

    To often we see mainstream press today where journalists are endorsing politicians and corporations for two very bad reasons. The first is doing do out of fear for their job, the second, a much abused privilege is doing so for personal gain at the expense of the truth.

    Well done Laila, I hope every mainstream journalist reads what you write, and pray that it might appeal to their inner sense of right or wrong.

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    1. Laila

      Thank you very much Reinier- as I said to Brad above, agreement is boring and unproductive many times in opening new minds and exchanging new ideas. I have always enjoyed our debates because you are very respectful and thoughtful and while we both might end up no where closer in agreement, I always come away with a better perspective of where you are coming from and why. And that is what it should be about. 🙂

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  5. I tend to agree with Mike…..a bit of ‘who ya know’ is prevalent in every society. The govt. is gonna pick some friends and give ém plums. I don’t like it but I do it myself.

    I call guys who I know are good and who I like when I need help. I don’t always have the time to make it a fair competition nor do I have to when I know they are good.

    Politics is a bit different, I acknowledge that and the standards should be much higher than expedience and friendship but, for me, it is the gross, out-of-proportion-to-all-things-right that gall me.

    Senate appointments that included journalists tops the lists. You’d think that a journalist would be disqualified from the get-go so as to ensure impartiality during their career. Campaign managers….? What they hell do they know that is so important to the good of the nation that they get to be PMO staff and deputy ministers at huge salries?

    And the list goes on. So, I applaud your investigative journalism- you are amongst the dwindling few – but this is a tea-pot sized tempest affair with regard to G. Wilson and J. Tyabji.

    NOT SO with regard to Ben Stewart (he of the democracy sell-out).

    In other words: I didn’t care that Clinton and Lewinsky snatched a moment nor did I care that Nixon was foul-mouthed in private. But I did care that Bush invaded Iraq for no reason and I do care that Harper is selling Canada down the drain.

    We need to keep the scale of misdeeds in mind ’cause mankind has a never ending supply of them. Let us focus on the medium to large issues and leave the petty ones to those who live in glass houses.

    By the way, The most personal (and petty) embarrassment is reserved for G. Wilson sleeping with the Liberals….in any context.

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  6. Laila

    A very good reader of mine just reported to me that Gordon Wilson has since marked his blog ” Private”, with no public access, after Vaughn Palmers column today referred to a blog post written by Wilson that clearly showed he was very skeptical of the LNG fairytale pumped by the Clark government..

    Here is Vaughn’s column… http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/editorials/Vaughn+Palmer+Gordon+Wilson+skeptic+since+changed+mind/9104384/story.html

    And here is Gordon’s blocked blog….. http://gordonfdwilson.com/ 🙂

    Of course, the internet is an amazing place. Cached versions will likely remain for some time, for posterity. 🙂

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  7. All those failed BC Liberals candidates who were pushed aside because they had a Website or Blog site condemning the Government prior to May 2013, should put in for an Appointee appointment, if they haven’t already. If Gordon “Teat” Wilson can do it, why not others.

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    1. Laila

      Here is the cached post:

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      The view through my eyes

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      A Golden Goose or a Dead Duck

      Posted by gordonfdwilson on April 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

      Just how golden is this LNG goose? Both the NDP and Liberals believe that development of this industry in BC, largely for export to South and South-East Asian markets, will generate revenues in the multiples of billions of dollars. The Green Party stands alone in opposition to building our future based on a hydrocarbon-funded economy.

      The NDP, who are critical of the Liberals for counting these golden eggs before they have hatched, are guilty of doing precisely the same thing. The NDP has admitted that they will accelerate deficit spending over the next four years to “meet social needs” but plan to balance the budget by the “end of the economic cycle” through expanded revenue from the energy sector.

      Obviously, the NDP are referencing LNG, since they have promised to kill the proposed Northern Gateway Project (although it’s not clear how they intend do that), and by his remarks on Earth Day, an Adrian Dix government won’t support a Kinder Morgan pipeline project to expand the capacity of the existing pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby.

      By turning his back on the Northern Gateway Project, Dix has closed the door on at minimum of $1.2 billion in tax revenue, an additional $400 million in local procurement and expenditure, and kissed goodbye roughly 1,200 well-paying union jobs. Standing in a park, addressing an appreciative audience of environmentally-concerned supporters in Kamloops, he said his government will oppose the Kinder Morgan expansion. With this, Dix has thumbed his nose at a $5.4 billion project that it is estimated would earn BC an additional $1.3 billion in revenues and secure another 800 union jobs during the construction phase. So in an hour of speech making, would-be premier Adrian Dix just shut the door on $2.5 billion in potential revenue to the province, and sent 2,000 well paying union jobs packing. So clearly if Dix is prepared to take this position, one that is very popular with many British Columbians including First Nations, while at the same time he plans to continue to spend well beyond his revenue potential, he must believe, just as the Clark Liberals believe, that expanded LNG production will produce sufficiently high revenues in the long term to make up any shortfalls.

      But expanded LNG production also comes with a significant environmental cost, although it does not present the same hazard for shipment as Alberta bitumen. Still, the fracking process used to extract the gas has provided sufficient cause for concern that the very same environmental voices that hooted their approval for Dix’s position against the two pipeline projects have called for a moratorium on fracking until a detailed environmental review is completed.

      Dix has rejected the notion of a moratorium, citing the fact that the process has been safely practiced for almost fifty years in British Columbia. But in the next breath he announced that while there would be no moratorium, his party will require that any new applications will be undergo an extensive environmental review. This has left many knowledgeable observers scratching their heads. If Dix doesn’t have a problem with the existing practice, then why subject new applicants to what is bound to be an expensive and time consuming process that will also inject a greater degree of uncertainty in the industry operating in BC. If Dix and the NDP really are committed to the growth of the industry, then why inject this obvious inconsistency to the process?

      The expansion of LNG will also require a considerable supply of inexpensive and readily available electricity. Previously the NDP has spoken out against the construction of the proposed Site C dam, however one has to assume that Dix is now in favour of this project (although I cannot find a statement to that effect) as the electrical power that will be generated from its construction will be exactly what the LNG industry needs.

      The big problem, however, is that unlike the pipeline projects that are 100% funded from the private sector, the construction of the Site C dam will be a project funded by the government of BC, which is the taxpayers of BC. The government, as proponents, will no doubt underwrite the cost through BC Hydro. Having studied the NDP financial plan, there is no mention of this spending, or of the debt management costs that accrue to BC Hydro should it be forced to borrow to complete the project. Once again this speaks to the belief of both Dix and Clark that LNG will be the golden goose. But will it?

      Premier Christy Clark has been very clear with respect to the Liberal’s position on energy revenues. They are putting most if not all of their eggs in that basket. Unlike the NDP, the Liberals take the position that the Northern Gateway pipeline project is being driven by the Federal government with the full backing of the Government of Alberta. Given Prime Minister Harper’s recent comments about the critical need for this project, Clark has taken the position that if this pipeline is forced on the people of BC, then the proponents will be required to pay a much higher benefit to those communities, especially First Nations, who are directly affected. She takes a similar position with respect to Kinder Morgan. But all that said, at least publicly, it is the revenue from LNG export that she is holding out as the source for “golden eggs” for our future. So much so, that she openly admits her government will be the proponent in the construction of the Site C dam.

      Only Green Party leader Jane Sterk is prepared to suggest that the eggs from this goose may not be so golden. Not only does she believe that that it is sheer folly to continue to try to balance our budgets and pay off provincial debt through an expanded hydrocarbon-based economy, Sterk, who advocates for renewable sources of energy, solar, wind, tidal and geothermal tells any who will listen that being tied to a hydrocarbon-based economy is neither environmentally sound policy, nor is it economically defensible, and she has a point on both counts.

      The impact of an expanded hydrocarbon economy will certainly speed up global warming and cause us to build a dependency on a revenue stream that originates from processes that are poisoning our atmosphere. The most compelling reason to be concerned about relying on this golden goose, however, is the fact that the markets we are told will buy all we can supply may not materialize as we think, and even if they do, the price they are prepared to pay for our product may be well below what is anticipated.

      There are three very sound reasons to believe that we may well be too late to the party. First, massive LNG storage facilities were constructed in Iran on the Persian Gulf in 2007 specifically to accept LNG from the Eastern Mediterranean Hydrocarbon reserve that, with the help of Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, added to the Iranian energy route that was established from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, as an extension of the Turkmenbashi Agreement. Add Syria, Iraq and Pakistan to the mix, and there is a direct route to China. Despite current efforts to destabilize Syria by “interests” who would prefer to see those Easter Mediterranean reserves flow into the economy of central Europe, sections of this pipeline are in the ground and not likely to be stopped without serious conflict.

      Second, Russia, which has the largest gas reserves in the world, is currently in the final planning stages of constructing a natural gas pipeline from Northern Siberia directly to China. The Russian gas giant Gazprom will likely build it despite the fact that it is currently planned to run directly through an area rich in archaeological artifacts, and the World Nature Heritage Site the “Golden Mountains of Altai.

      Third, the competition for the India, Japan and China markets is already intense. Just last month a major investor in Australia’s LNG resources pulled up stakes and walked away from a $45 million project, suggesting that the project was too little, too late.

      Clark and Dix may be trying to flog a duck for a goose here. Our reserves, which are already difficult to access, will become more expensive and will take longer to extract, and thus require a higher price if Dix’s environmental review process is installed for fracking. Then there is the cost and time to construct the Site C dam.

      I suspect that Clark and her team of “today’s BC Liberals” know that while there is great promise for this resource, they have to hedge their bets, cut spending, and promise very little in this campaign. That’s why they are still prepared to entertain revenue from the two oil pipelines, and have tabled the budget they did, which, balanced or not, is very frugal on the spending side. Dix, on the other hand, has promised billions of spending over the next few years, has openly stated he plans to run large deficits, and at the same time he is promising to kill the potential revenue flow from the two oil pipelines.

      If LNG revenues don’t materialize in the fashion that is expected, Clark will at least have the benefit of the other projects, despite the enormous environmental risk that some argue is unacceptable. Dix on the other hand will have plunged the province back into a deficit and debt situation that will, under the current world economy, be very hard to repay. Only Green Party Leader Jane Sterk will be able to smile and say, “I told you so.”

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  8. shadow12ea

    $100K to a private business, which isn’t really providing much to the community. Well like they say,

    The Farmer’s Market has worked long and hard. It has a devoted group of shoppers who follow them from the outdoor market to the indoor market. If any money was to be handed out, it ought to have been to the people who organize the Farmer’s Market. These two other women, who even knows them. Smells like the barnyard to me and looks like a nice way to give some money to friends.

    The Comox Valley has wineries who have started with nothing and work tirelessly to grow their businesses, without funding from anyone. We have Natural Pastures Cheese Co. All of the local farmers and ranchers who go to the farmer’s market make a contriubtion to the valley as do the customers. We have small independant grocers in the valley, one in Cumberland and one in Courtenay who carry meat from producers who also go to the Farmers’ Market. They certainly do more to promote the devlopment of argiculture in the valley than these two women. We have local honey from Big Dan’s. We have sea food and it is all local. Many of these businesses have been at it a long time. Two women who start a business to deliver food get a $100K, that is what I call corporate welfare for friends. If the provincial government was going to give a $100K to the Comox Valley they ought to have given it to the school board or the Salvation Army. The Sally ann is the only place where homeless people can go and last month they had to turn away over 50 people. Must be nice to know Judy and Don.

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    1. Laila

      There are an incredible amount of wonderful producers in the Comox Valley, which in my view, are one of the best things about the area. It’s nearly impossible to drive a mile without finding a sign for eggs,produce etc… even home baked bread,

      Don’t get me started on the city of Courtney and how they have NOT handled the homeless situation in the community. The entire Maple Pool debacle is a pox on the face of the mayor and council who proceeded with what could be considered vexatious litigation against the Lins. Worthy of a post in itself.

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  9. lynn

    Great work, Laila.

    The Powell River Peak is reporting Shirley Bond as saying the following in regard to Wilson’s plum appointment:

    “The appointment will be assessed at the end of the first term and a decision on whether or not to extend the position will be made, Bond added. “The maximum time for the position is one year,” she said. “As part of the assessment, many deliverables must be met by the advocate, including consulting with interested stakeholders, ensuring there’s a single online platform and raising awareness of the program within the business community. The advocate will be provided support as needed, within existing staffing.”

    The ministry confirmed Wilson would be paid $50,000 for the first four-month term.”

    Is the four-month term a probationary period ? LOL …..that could be extended to one year for good (and loyal) behaviour….resulting in an ultimately much higher salary? Also wonder if one of those now infamous expense accounts is provided in addition to this contract?

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  10. Laila

    Yes, the 4 month posting is very much a test period and is likely to springboard into something else longer term. Unfortunately for Christy, the hit to Wilsons credibility is huge in accepting this postion and he’s rather a liability in terms of publicity because of it, and his past.

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  11. Laila

    I’ve been negligent in not posting an update to this story that just came in from a government source- and an interesting sidebar story on another grant…. Hope to have time to get that up shortly.

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  12. Sources indicate this story did not end well and there are unconfirmed reports that the grant money was to be paid back because of failure to achieve any of the stated purpose or goals- the Suncoast grown twitter acct has been doing nothing but auto follower checks since last year. https://twitter.com/SunCoastGrown

    As soon as I have something confirmed I will update.

    ** update- sources indicate an agreement was reached,and that Tyabji’s consultancy fee was paid for the most part,out of that grant.

    Of great interest is yet another grant given to Pebble in the Pond of $128,000 for a pilot project of sheep hide tanning. Of course Judi and Gordon have raised sheep on the Sunshine Coast. So, a direct benefit.
    http://www.prpeak.com/articles/2014/07/03/news/doc53b42c4d80bf6767563667.txt

    Five Powell River people are gaining work experience in a pilot project that has environmental benefits.

    Tanned, Wild and Woolly, a social enterprise, held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, June 26 at a site where discarded sheepskins are being recycled into usable products.

    Pebble in the Pond applied for Job Creation Partnership funding after local sheep farmers discovered there was no longer a place for them to have their skins tanned. The society received $128,000 for the 42-week pilot that wraps up in January 2015. It is planning to turn the sheepskin business into a self-sustaining, non-profit social enterprise, which will create increased employment in the future.

    In addition to standard sheepskins, Tanned, Wild and Woolly intends to make jogging shoe liners, bicycles and motorcycle seat covers, under-saddle horseback riding pads and bathmats, called baamats.

    Don McRae, minister of social development and social innovation, attended the official ribbon cutting last week. He commended Pebble in the Pond for its funding application. “You are leaders and are showing other areas what can be done,” said the minister. “The program is under subscribed so I’m happy to see this enterprise take place.”

    He also mentioned that when he was minister of agriculture that Powell River’s Sunshine Organics received the largest amount of funding for Buy BC program. Its owner Melissa Call is co-founder of Pebble in the Pond and was present for the opening.

    “You obviously know how to get things done in Powell River,” McRae added.

    Mayor Dave Formosa agreed with the minister’s assessment. “We’re a can do and do do community.” He commended Pebble in the Pond president Judi Tyabji Wilson for her vision driven by a desire to keep sheepskins out of landfills.

    She told people attending the ribbon cutting that during her research, she found that about 3,000 hides a year were being disposed of on Vancouver Island alone.

    Linda Wegner represented John Weston, MP for West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country at the opening. The federal government contributes funding to the program.

    Pilot project participants will gain experience in waste reduction, small business management, marketing, sales, customer service, processing and transportation. Tyabji Wilson said she was thrilled to find “such an enthusiastic and talented group of people” to work with and said she expected the social enterprise to continue after the pilot ends.

    Once the official ceremony was completed, tours of the site were offered. Hides are in various stages of production. Tannin tea is being created with wood chips. Then the skins are soaked in excess oak wine barrels donated to the pilot project by Jackson-Triggs Winery in the Okanagan.

    “Tanned, Wild and Wooly’s goals are to divert waste, create jobs and make useful items,” Tyabji Wilson said, “and we’re well on our way to doing just that.”

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  13. njsimons

    Hi Laila, to be fair, we’re talking about two different grants. Your 2013 column was about a grant to Sunshine Organics, not a grant to Pebble in the Pond’s 2014-2015 sheep-tanning grant. (I just have to point that out, because I think I was one of the NDP members you might be referring to, haha). N

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  14. Pingback: Talking about BC issues – In-Sights

  15. Pingback: Things that make you go “Hmmmmm…” – Laila Yuile on people, politics and life in B.C.

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