What you need to see in BC today

It is a stunning day here on the west coast, but this is little consolation to the families of the 46 people who died over the weekend from covid, all but 8 in long term care facilities .

Ron Hughes is someone you need to follow on twitter if you use that venue. He has been the loudest, longest and most passionate advocate for seniors in care in BC. He and Salim Jiwa ( https://twitter.com/realreporter) have been relentless in pushing for transparency, accountability and changes that many in the media have not even pursued, like separating private movie industry testing from public testing, so we can see the true positivity rate in health regions.

I’ve written several times on the failure to adapt long term care home protocals to include frequent testing, and it’s remarkable that now, even under Doug Ford in Ontario, that change has happened. This is a link to their new testing protocal : https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-long-term-care-home-surveillance-testing

From that link: “

Effective November 23, 2020, I hereby issue the following directive with respect to every long-term care home:

  1. Staff, students and volunteersSubject to the exception in section 4 of this directive, every licensee of a long-term care home shall ensure that Staff, Students and Volunteers working in the home regularly take a COVID-19 test:
    1. green and yellow levels. This shall include one COVID-19 test every two weeks for long-term care homes located in public health unit regions in green-prevent or yellow-protect levels of the COVID-19 response framework: keeping ontario safe and open issued November 3, 2020 or as amended. The time period between testing should be as close to 14 days as can practically be achieved, unless testing is conducted more frequently.
    2. orange, red and grey levels. This shall include a COVID-19 test every week for long-term care homes in public health unit regions in orange-restrict, red-control or grey-lockdown levels of the COVID-19 response framework: keeping ontario safe and open issued November 3, 2020 or as amended. The time period between testing should be as close to 7 days as can practically be achieved, unless testing is conducted more frequently.”

I can’t understand why BC has been so slow to adapt on so many issues. ( oh wait…we spent over a month in caretaker mode during an election the ndp was preparing for since June..nevermind) Yesterday’s admission that they didn’t anticipate needing as many contact tracers as they do was concerning. Haven’t they seen what happened elsewhere?

Now I scanned through Martyn Brown’s latest and found a segment many might miss simply because it takes to long to read :

It’s great that Dr. Henry and Adrian Dix are so willing to go on-air, with live virtual “town halls” that provide them a forum for their messages, as they also provide us with valuable information and answers to common questions, however useful or not. 

But with respect, that is no substitute for meaningful dialogue aimed at testing the truth or the validity of propositions, policies, and decisions that are being asserted from on high for our own good, almost as if from infallible oracles. 

Nothing demonstrates that better than the media’s regular COVID briefings, both in Victoria and in Ottawa.

They are not dialectical in nature, nor are they even journalistically responsible in either form or content. 

They are controlled political question and answer sessions, devoid of hard scrutiny, literally phoned-in by so many too milquetoast journalists who consider themselves lucky to be acknowledged for a single question and follow-up, whatever answers are offered.

Very few, like Vaughn Palmer, dare to even politely ask politically vexing questions that at the same time betray those journalists’ own discomfort with those policy decisions and actions, or lack of either, that beg to be extensively debated and resolved.

There is no serious journalistic probing, akin to what would typically be the case in news conferences and scrums involving political decision-makers. 

Dr. Henry’s polite answers are almost always met with polite “thanks” and no one ever fundamentally challenges the content of her responses are even asks follow-up questions that would logically flow from them.

It’s understandable, perhaps, given how our ongoing crisis and continually extended state of emergency has been equated to a wartime effort that holds pointed criticism or reasoned refutation as near treasonous. By which, we sometimes even tend to confuse true patriotism with dangerously ignorant jingoism.

Sure, we can all applaud the likes of Global in seeking out answers for common questions from B.C.’s health officials. But that, too, is a one-way process that, at best, only partially illuminates. 

It is no substitute for reasoned discourse of the sort I’m talking about.

Fact is, the media has been largely compromised by its hallmark deference to Canada’s top health officials, whose “evidence-based” expertise and shifting advice has been mostly abjectly accepted, and whose inherently political decisions have also been dutifully reinforced as scientific dogma rendered beyond responsible disputation.

There is little accountability for exposing and defending the experts’ often conflicting “scientific” interpretations of the virus’s ever evolving evidentiary nature.

Asserted “best practices” are simply accepted as such, too often, until they are shown to be inadequate, as had been alleged or postulated by lesser mortals.

We are told, “this makes sense,” or “that won’t work,” or “this isn’t necessary,” or “that will not happen”—until the opposite proves its point. Too often, only after months of denial, delay or patronizing “listening” that goes materially unheeded.

The upshot of that “wartime footing” where the general’s word is the final word is this: it actually serves to inevitably politicize COVID management insofar as the only way to affect publicly demanded policy changes is to exert political pressure.

When people get frustrated, they have no serious recourse to have their views heard in the absence of fair media “grillings”.

That breeds bad behaviour, as we’ve seen with the mandatory mask resistance, and encourages political activism as the only practicable way to get the health decision-makers to listen and respond accordingly. 

Brava Martyn. Even in yesterdays presser, when presented with the opportunity to ask his two allotted questions, Keith Baldrey declined the use of his second,leaving so many questions unasked. These call in conferences are so tightly controlled through screening, that many never get a chance to ask anything at all. Yesterday one reporter used his second question to ask one for his colleague Shannon Patterson who seems to get passed by ( she asks very hard questions). I can’t help but wonder if he now will be mysteriously passed over in subsequent call ins.

OLD GROWTH LOGGING CONTINUES AT A BREAKNECK PACE

Next up, this video taken by the good people at the Ancient Forest Alliance, shows what kind of old growth logging is happening incessantly on Vancouver Island. Some taken are so big, one log fills the width of a logging truck. Katrine Conroy will have her hands full on this. Check out Ancient Forest Alliance at https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/

SITE C

Next up, the Site C debacle is still going strong, and no sign of the long awaited Milburn Review. A hint that Horgan is likely to continue pouring $$ into this sinking pit was found in Minister Bruce Ralstons mandate letter:

Meanwhile, it is full steam ahead up on the job site, but with all the reservoirs on the river upstream quite full, its putting pressure on the ground work right at Site C, and the diversion tunnels are now below water level. This, is potentially a problem as Lindsay Brown points out in a series of tweets I’ve unrolled and copied below for you ( link to original tweets accredited at the end) :

“More trouble at #SiteC looming? Sources say the river was running quite high yesterday & aerials over the diversion tunnels today show there is zero freeboard (tunnel entrances now submerged). Source: “Hydro is playing a very risky game I believe”… 1/x #bcpoli

..Source: “Hydro is playing a very risky game I believe, but the reservoir levels are full [behind the two dams upstream of #SiteC, WAC Bennett & Peace Canyone] so they have to release as much water they can. I see comments from Hydro that indicate possible spills…” 2/x

..”Fortunately for BC Hydro it hasn’t been cold so far & there’s little ice build-up around the inlet portal. This is the situation McCullough warned about.” Recall: Robert McCullough is the internat’l expert who warned Horgan not to proceed with #SiteC

..If you look at that updated report from McCullough (he’s the guy who exposed the Enron scandal by the way), rushing the river diversion & doing it after the drop dead date in the fall (which BC Hydro did – it diverted the river, or began to, after the safe date) is risky…

Source says: “The risk is the cofferdam height is not adequate to hold back a river that won’t fit through the diversion tunnels.” (Cofferdams are smaller dams that block the river & divert it into tunnels, moving it away from the eventual dam site across the river)…

Engineer friend says: “We can see turbulence now from the outlet portals…white water. [Turbulence is a sign of resistance in tunnels.] The inlets (tunnel entrances) are submerged now, so Hydro now needs higher inlet head for more flow, but there isn’t much more available.”

We also know the tunnels are narrower than originally intended; thick concrete liners had to be added after the tunnels were crumbling. Due to Hydro’s opacity we don’t have exact info but they are tighter than originally planned. Can they handle the mighty Peace?

In case the above was not clear, a river flowing freely between banks meets much less resistance than when it is forced through tunnels. To overcome the resistance, unless you pump it thru you must raise the cofferdam height to create enough of a head to push the water thru…

To conclude, rushing the river diversion is risky & seeing the diversion tunnels inundated like this when the river is meant to be low is concerning. The main risk would be overrunning the cofferdam. “A risky game’ seems apt. If you have Qs for source or engineer, pls ask.

PS here are before and after views of the entrance portals to the two #SiteC river diversion tunnels – October vs today, Nov 30, submerged. (Plus an annotated photo showing the setup of the site, when the upstream cofferdam was getting started):

This helps to explain why seeing that turbulence at the exit portals of the #SiteC river diversion tunnels is a problem – it’s a sign of resistance in the tunnels which can bode ill for the tunnels themselves ntm the upstream cofferdam. https://twitter.com/daveunger3/status/1333539051001892864 #SiteC #StopSiteC

(Note: Dave Unger @daveunger3 is a former senior construction manager for BC Hydro in the Peace Region and is pretty knowledgeable on these matters.)

Originally tweeted by Lindsay Brown (@Lidsville) on November 30, 2020 7:07 pm.

It is so good Lindsay is able to keep this in the public eye still online, because these are all issues being over taken by attention to Covid.

Sigh…but that’s not all. They still burn the debris and ‘ un-merchantable ‘ timber left behind from reservoir clearing ( another clue this damn dam ain’t stopping?)

Cullen Commission hears stunning transcript of Kash Heed Conversation about RCMP & Rich Coleman

Get your oven mitts because this one is so hot you can’t touch it without protection….

From that report above:

” In the transcribed records released by Cullen, Heed and Pinnock discuss the circumstances surrounding the disbanding of Pinnock’s illegal gaming unit in 2009, and what they perceived as political interference by B.C.’s government in that decision as well as the RCMP’s provincial mandate. 

Heed also suggested in the transcripts that interference in the RCMP’s policing has persisted in B.C., and slammed the independent report on casino money-laundering filed in 2018 by former B.C. RCMP leader Peter German. And German was one of the former RCMP officers, the transcripts suggest, that Heed believed responsible for disbanding Pinnock’s unit. “

~snip~

““And then Coleman — Coleman was all part of it. It’s their network that caused this tsunami to take place in the casinos.”

~snip~

“The two men also discussed administration of casinos and the real estate business in B.C., and what Heed saw as continuity on those files involving Coleman and his deputy minister at the time, Lori Wanamaker.”

Whew, some wild stuff coming out and interesting to see Lori Wanamakers name so often in this commission, because she was just appointed Deputy minister to the Premier, John Horgan. This is an interesting appointment, but probably a good one for Horgan, because she knows an awful lot about what went wrong and when it went wrong, on the latest site C sinking foundation debacle: https://thenarwhal.ca/site-c-dam-geotechnical-problems-bc-government-foi-docs/

That’s all for today folks. Get outside, get some sun and fresh air, and make sure you are getting enough vitamin D.

15 thoughts on “What you need to see in BC today

  1. I like the new format!

    Covid 19: As I write this (Thursday, 2020-12-03, over 280,000 people have succumbed to Covid in the USA., In BC Covid-19 is running rampant, with ever mounting cases and deaths. A vaccine is now being distributed in the UK, but America’s Dr. Fauci has claimed the UK “rushed” approval https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/covid-vaccine-fauci-trump-coronavirus-b1765726.html

    Site-C: As you have pointed out so many times Site – C is nothing more than a political mega project that will do more damage in the future to our degrading environment.

    Bent Flyvberg’s Iron Law of Megaprojects specifically addresses why politicians are obsessed with infrastructure at any cost, including Site C and SkyTrain expansion ($4.6 billion to build 12.8 km of SkyTrain)

    …the “political sublime,” which here is understood as the rapture politicians get from building monuments to themselves and their causes. Megaprojects are manifest, garner attention, and lend an air of proactiveness to their promoters. Moreover, they are media magnets, which appeals to politicians who seem to enjoy few things better than the visibility they get from starting megaprojects. Except maybe cutting the ribbon of one in the company of royals or presidents, who are likely to be present lured by the unique monumentality and historical import of many megaprojects. This is the type of public exposure that helps get politicians re-elected. They therefore actively seek it out.

    Illegal Money laundering scandal: The “Eye” knew when Gordon Campbell was elected that he would rely on Casino money to fund his generous tax giveaways to the wealthy 1%. As Campbell struggled to give more money away to political cronies, he needed more and more casino revenue and the BC Liberals turned a blind eye to massive money laundering in BC. does Horgan have the jam to go after those who allowed this shameful episode of BC politics. I doubt it, lest a future governments comes after Horgan and the NDP for the the two above items!

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    1. Thanks Evil Eye, it was time for a change and freshen up, and it didn’t cost me a dime so it was a win-win move.😁 As long as it is readable and easy to navigate for all my readers, I’m happy.

      I’ve got some additional time right now until I find more work,so hopefully l can get a few more blogs in. One coming later today 🙂

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  2. Keep up the good work! You deserve a ‘summer’ vacation. A Little bit late and a trifle chilly, but we haven’t any precipitation in more than 3 weeks. We were lucky to get three dry days in a row in July. And if this is summer, then Christmas is still 4 months away!
    Keep the faith!

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    1. I had a lovely summer already but sure wish it was still here…its a stormy winter brewing and there’s been a few good ones already this fall with plenty of rain,and even thundersnow. Yes, thundersnow…I’ve never seen anything like it. Beautiful snowfall coming down,then blue lightning and the longest, lowest rumbles of thunder I’ve ever heard. Each one lasted at least 40 seconds. Crazy and odd, just like the rest of this year.

      Its been gorgeous most of the week, except for today. Sun back for 3 more days before a week of rain which is nice.

      All in….I’m still a summer person though. 🤣

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  3. ALSO….

    I may have to up the level of moderation for a bit. There’s been some odd activity and a marked increase in spam comments coming in. So if your comments don’t show up right away, they will be free as soon as I get to them .

    It appears someone is combing all the Cullen Commision, corruption, and Rich Coleman posts in addition to a few other tags. Not sure if its related to the other activity or not, but good to note.

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    1. Its been a stunning experience to see, and I strongly recommend anyone who hasn’t watched the government live updates in full,including the question period after, to do so.

      I’m starting to wonder if I am abnormally curious or something, because so much goes unasked. I see a situation and immediately notice what isn’t being said. I would be looking at the last presser to determine what to ask for the next one.

      These questions below, are ones I haven’t seen asked and would love.to know answers too. ( if any reporters are reading this) Because comms people no longer give me the time of day after the media story I did 🙄

      1) many weeks ago, a reporter asked if long haul patients were being tracked in BC. Bonnie Henry said yes,and gave a large number. There was no follow-up.

      – what is the current number of long haul patients being tracked and or treated, and why arent those numbers being given on the dashboard, since they really aren’t ‘ recovered’? What is their age range? Are they able to work? ( these are important factors in determining policy appropriate to recovery. Many might have run out of EI and or dont qualify for other benefits)

      2. Ontario had similar issues of virus spreading in long term care homes despite screenig protocols and on Nov.23rd issued a mandatory proactive screening protocol based on amount of community spread in the area. Higher spread means more frequent testing of staff, lower spread means less. Why are you not willing to adapt policy in BC?

      3. You mentioned this week the deaths in long term care homes were not in the ICU numbers ,indicating they died in the care homes. Is this because of patients end of life requests for no extraordinary assists, or a decision to triage resources?

      4. What assurances do families of those in care who have not been able to visit their loved ones have that facilities are adequately staffed and appropriate care continues?

      5. There are reports of staff being hired from islsnd hospitals to go to care homes or contact tracing, is there any concern over ability to adequately staff hospitals considering the burnout and stress many facilities are experiencing?

      6. You said earlier this week the data is all publicly available, yet we know public health still hasn’t separated public and private testinv, doesn’t post long haul covid patient numbers,refuses to supply communities with localized covid case numbers and is not cooperating with First Nations communiti4s who continue to request data to ensure they are prepared and make their own best policy decisions.
      Who is telling the truth in these situations? Why is there a complete contradiction to your statements verifiable demonstrated?

      7. Dr. Henry, public health officials all over Canada have pivoted and changed policy in response to pandemic conditions. You continue to say we are aligned with other provinces on masking in schools, but we are not. Here in BC it is only required in halls,joint spaces or by adults..kids do not mask in classes, in other provinces they do. In much of BC classrooms are full capacity and kids work at tables not desks. Why the discrepancy in policy and why do you continue to say we are aligned, when we are not?

      If anyone can get these answers,many would be grateful

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  4. Now that it getting down to the final laps before Christmas, I wonder what Christmas day is going to be like for family dinner gathering and size,. Or will we not have any respite for the one day. and part of that being because of the selfish, rotten uncaring minority, and also partly because of the completely trashed Precautionary Principle that incompetent leadership disregarded so much.
    I hope that the majority of us that are being responsible do not have pay dearly on Christmas Day because of this pathetic useless and weak chicken shit government not being more hard with the reckless people.

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    1. I don’t forsee any changes to allow for Christmas at all,to be honest, unless case counts come down significantly in tomorrow’s briefing. And I suspect an earlier or longer Christmas break for kids may be coming.

      Its so widespread in many areas now,and people are complacent in their own homes and with their friends and coworkers,because they feel safe. It was transmitting in workplaces back in late August already and continues to. We are oddly one of the only places where our PHO and BC CDC,still don’t acknowledge aerosal spread.
      ( FYI in Ontario they are doing asymptomatic testing in schools, and every school they have tested so far-3 to date- has been shut down because so many cases were found..)

      I know for a fact many are planning to travel and spend Christmas together regardless and some are pulling their kids out of school to isolate for 2 weeks so grandparents can be together with children for the holidays, but then again, that’s a privileged ability to do so.
      The big issue remains not many can afford to be off work and will avoid being tested and avoid contact tracers calls.This is a reality no politician wants to address, along with the fact in metro Van,rental homes are often rented out with 2 people to a bedroom, with up to 6-8 people in a home, all without a bubble.

      I expect January to March to be bleak.

      For those who have sent emails, I will be getting replies out tomorrow. Weekends I try to stay offline and outside as much as possible 🙂

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