Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ye Shall Reap, What Ye Shall Sow: BC Liberal Karma Will be Sown Upon Us All

Comments to Say it with a sigh
Public Eye Online, May 26 2009.

The former Honourable Wally Oppal, Minister of Attorney General is reaping what he has sown. He remembered he lived in Delta South about five minutes before the election. He didn't do much, if anything for those he now purported to Represent when his government was forcing power lines through citizens backyards(many of whom _were_ probably Liberal voters), making plans for dramatically increasing pollution and containers...

But this was really crass politics at their bloodsporty best and the blame goes squarely to the BC Liberals. It was a little "friendly fire" that took the questionable Mr. Oppal out of the game (if the count is upheld after the judicial review). They needed to make room for Kash Heed in the riding, so out with the old, in with the new. Let's try StoneWally over here, he's served his purpose explaining the dirty deeds away in front of the cameras & in the Legislature, he was a bit tainted too at that point, so it wouldn't be a huge loss if he happened to lose. Heed will make a fine new Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, eh?

It's too far along now to be stopped, that's why some of us were fighting the good fight for our province, for our future, for everything... and then they won again, when people really didn't understand what they were planning to do to us and our fair Province.

This is what NeoCons do, they cut everything to the bone, they give it all away to those with the highest paid lobbyists, their insider friends.

In government they are already starting the bloodletting, they aren't replacing the people who are leaving, jobs sitting empty can be cut so much easier and hey, NO PINK SLIP. You know all of those criminals runnin' around offing each other & a few bystanders and wannabes, guess what, your friendly BC Liberal government isn't making sure that there are enough probation officers to be keeping an eye on all of those gangsta's, rapists, pedophiles and the other garden variety criminals runnin' around GC's province. Do people really think it's a coincidence that crime has been allowed to flourish unchecked in BC?

How about al of those abused kids, there's fewer and fewer people watching out for them. Will BC win the Child Poverty Award for it's 6th year running? What do people think happens when BC's children aren't taken care of? Or how about the homeless? Isn't anyone concerned, or even noticing the pattern of massive social dislocation that is occuring and continuing to roll out in BC? More and more of us are being left behind. Rising welfare rates, increasing EI rates, higher job losses. Isn't a valid question to ask WHAT THE HELL our government is doing to start bolstering up BC's doomed socio-economic foundation?

Campbell Must Halt Disastrous Cut Plans
Dave Obee, Times Colonist. May 26, 2009.

Senior provincial managers have been working for months on plans to gut the government. What's being proposed would make the 2001 core services review look like a walk in the park and go well beyond the austerity program of the early 1980s.

The budget was optimistic. There was no wiggle room and it called for $250 million in cuts to come later. Since then, the drop in provincial revenue has been far more severe than forecast and there is no end in sight.

How bad might it be? Unless the government increases taxes or slashes programs, the deficit could be more than $1 billion.

Besides, we were told after the core services review that the fat had been trimmed. If that was true, there is nothing left to hack. [Ed: Nothing except useless senior bureaucrats and lots of managers who produce nothing of any value].

To make matters worse, some of the money saved by these proposed cuts would go to the Olympics and to so-called stimulus packages, devoted to building roads and bridges and so on. These packages would provide temporary work. For that, we would end permanent jobs and tear down vital social infrastructure. That idea borders on insanity.

There are times when the prudent course is to borrow money. This is one of those times -- and money is cheap right now.

When Campbell assembles his new cabinet, his first order of business should be to discard the scorched-earth recommendations.

Admitting a mistake is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. And Campbell must know that the social fabric of the province matters more than an arbitrary limit on the size of the deficit.

That does not mean that some staff should not be purged.

Campbell should start with the pathetic souls who are so eager to please the premier that they would rather toss British Columbia into the dumpster than allow him to hear the truth.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Who Really Gets a Voice in BC? Most of us, not so much

An important topic as we continue onwards, who gets to have a voice in BC? Who gets space in the media, in political life, in society.

If you look at our newly elected Legislature, it's pretty easy to see that who gets voice in government in BC and it's not terribly representative of our communities and province. I would say it's the same with much of the mainstream media, especially print. It seems as though TV and radio seems to have been able to break through the colour divide a bit more than print media, except for "ethnic" media outlets. Things are just too homogenous to me. Our world is just so much more diverse than much of our media would lead us to believe. It's like we're all marching to different beats now, but one hasn't caught up. Isn't it time for that to happen?

Few Candidates Reflect the Makeup of their Constituents
More women, visible minorities would be on the ballot if voters' options more closely matched the demographics of their neighbours
If our elected representatives in British Columbia's 39th election looked like us, there would be 42 or 43 women seated in Victoria.

A quarter of the 85 MLAs would be visible minorities including 10 representing the Metro Vancouver ridings where more than 60 per cent of the population is not white.

A first nations person would represent North Coast, where nearly half the population is aboriginal, and maybe one would represent Stikine, where a third of the residents are first nations.

But that's not what you'll see in the gilded chamber even though there were a few breakthroughs Tuesday.

There's no way it was even possible because, in most ridings, candidates don't accurately reflect their constituents.

In 13 ridings voters' choices were white men only. Believe me, there are women, Chinese, Indo-Canadians and aboriginals living in Premier Gordon Campbell's Point Grey or the NDP's Mike Farnworth's Port Coquitlam ridings -- two of those 13.

Conversely, I'm sure there are white men living in Surrey-Tynehead and Surrey-Fleetwood. But all the candidates there were either Indo-Canadian or female.

In total, only 47 visible minority and aboriginal candidates were on the roster. Out of 345 candidates, 17 were South Asians, 10 Chinese, 10 aboriginals, five of Middle Eastern ancestry, two Filipinos, a Japanese-Canadian and an African.

Stephanie Cadieux, the Liberal in Surrey-Panorama, is the only physically disabled candidate that I know of. She won. That's one of those breakthroughs.

Bad enough that candidates aren't a very diverse lot, but then their parties either make them sacrificial lambs in unwinnable seats or pit minorities against each other.

B.C.'s largest 'minority' -- women -- continue to be the most spectacularly under-represented. At press time, women were leading or declared elected in 25 ridings. At 29 per cent, it's one of the best showings yet. Last time, only one in five MLAs was a woman.

"The first hurdle is the nomination," says Christianne Wilhelmson of the Canadian Women's Voters Congress. "That's when parties show whether they truly believe that women need to be part of the process."

The next two hurdles are getting elected and then getting a spot in cabinet where the real power rests.

Fewer than a third of the candidates -- 100 women in total -- were nominated. The NDP was the only party with half women candidates partly because they designated a third of the ridings for women.

The Liberals and the Greens managed only 25 female candidates each (29 per cent).

New Democrat Mable Elmore was another breakthrough. She made history in Vancouver-Kensington becoming the first Filipina elected, beating Liberal Syrus Lee.

She drew strength from the Filipinos in the riding (12.7 per cent) as well as others from the Philippines who live outside the riding.

"One of my key volunteers told me that for the first time she feels like she is in Canada, that she is Canadian and is part of the process even though she has been living here for 25 years and has volunteered in other elections," Elmore said.

While some might chalk up a win for Elmore to block voting, the fact is block voting would have elected Lee. The riding is 40 per cent Chinese.

Wally Oppal was elected in 2005 in Vancouver-Fraserview where 75 per cent of the residents belong to one of several visible minorities, although only 16 per cent are Indo-Canadian. He was appointed attorney general and multiculturalism minister and became the highest profile South Asian in the Liberal government.

He won easily in Fraserview, considered a safe Liberal riding and one that another Indo-Canadian Liberal, Kash Heed, won easily Tuesday.

This time, Oppal ran in Delta South where three of four people are white. He was in a tight race at press time with Independent Vicki Huntington. Among his opponents was another South Asian, Dileep Athaide.

Although Oppal lives in Delta, he was accused of being parachuted in. Oppal was called an outsider.

"I can't say if it has anything to do with colour," he said diplomatically on Tuesday afternoon. "It's a lot of mean-spiritedness and that discourages people from running whether they are ethnic or others."

(That kind of attack crossed party lines. Oppal's Liberal colleague Bill Bennett in Kootenay-East ran an ad that described Bennett as "one of us." Bennett's opponent was NDP Troy Sebastian, an aboriginal candidate.)

Oppal said more diversity might help change the tone of debate in the legislature, perhaps ending what he calls the "childish taunts."

"More women would certainly change it. But in any institution, there is added credibility lent by more diversity."

Credibility and more civility. We should all be hoping for even more change next time.


Old media, new media and the election

Paul Willcocks, Paying Attention. May 13, 2009.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Selector: Bias against Unattractive Nominees in BC's 2005 Candidate Selection Contests.
Ashe, Jeanette and Kennedy Stewart (2009). Vancouver: SFU Centre for Public Policy Research.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Third Mandate to Loot, Pillage & Privatize

Obviously no-one would be surprised that I'm deeply disappointed at how the 2009 Provincial election has turned out. For those of you who've read my blog know, I've never minced words, I believe that the evidence of the BC Liberals' governance over the past 8 years positions them as amongst the worst and most corrupt in BC's history. I think the BC Liberal win deserves some thoughtful analysis.

Out of the new 85 seats, the BC Liberals, at this time, are reported to have won 49, with the NDP winning 36, 2 more than last election. Both Campbell (BC Liberal) and James (BC NDP), the leaders of their parties won their seats. While Sterk (Green)and Hanni (Conservative) both lost the ridings they were running in. There are some lessons in those two latter turn outs.

STV was roundly rejected by voters. It's hard to see how voters, a large majority who didn't even exercise their vote, think First Past the Post is working for us here in BC, but that's the results. I wonder if they next referendum should put Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMPR) to the test?

Voter Turnout
According to reports, only 52% of eligible voters turned out, which is down 8% from the 2005 general election. That is a disgrace and something to be embarassed about when people in other areas of our globe fight and die for the right to vote.

My grandparents, staunchly engaged in exercising their electoral franchise, wisely always told us, if you don't vote, you have no damn right to complain about the government and how it carries out business.

After yet another crappy voter turnout I think I'm falling in line with those who are advocating for mandatory voting, such as the way of Australia and other nations. We have it far too good here in Canada and have become lazy, apathetic and complacent. I also don't want to hear the nonsense about there being no-one to vote for. I'll tell you who we're voting for - our children, our seniors, our homeless (who don't even get to vote now), for our most vulnerable people and for the future of BC.

If people took even 5 minutes to check out each candidate running in their riding, more time than they spend watching the Canucks, shopping, or watching TV, they would find someone they could vote for, someone who on the balance was someone they might feel they could support for office.
Most candidates are homegrown, not parachuted in, with some exceptions. Most have a record of civic service in people's regions and communities. That is who you vote for. It's not hard.

Getting the Vote Out
Quite simply, the BC Liberals were able to get the vote out better in certain regions that counted for more votes. As my predictions stated yesterday, Kamloops continues it's bellwether title, electing Liberal candidates in both of the new Kamloops North & South ridings. That is worthy of a deeper analysis in the future.

Delta South - Oppal has squeaked out the tiniest win (2 votes) over Independent Vicki Huntington, which is a true loss for the people of that region. I hope people who were otherwise too busy to get out and vote for the latter will enjoy all of the new pollution heading their way. The automatic recount could be interesting. In any event, it's a fascinating window in the soul of a riding that they are so willing to hand the reins over to someone who forgot he even lived there until about 5 minutes before the election over someone who'se been working for citizens, kickin' ass and representing for a long time. Enjoy the power lines and all of the new traffic.

Kootenay East - I really find it quite astonishing that a candidate who shows such poor regard and judgment for a running mate as to refer to his racial status as a reason to vote for him is elected. I quite simply obviously don't understand the way a majority of people in that riding think and I'm rather proud of that, because that ad & stunt would have been enough to show me that Bennett would be a very poor representative for the people of the riding, ALL of the people.

Interactive Map
A look at CBC's Interactive map, which illustrates voting riding by riding, with handy colours spelling out which party took the region. What seems quite ironic to me is that many of the regions that voted Liberal are those who have been hurt the most by the previous Liberal government's policies and will be hurting more than many other areas of BC.

Enjoy that 50% increase in the gas tax come July 1st 2009.
And burn while the proceeds of that tax get poured into the Lower Mainland, which is sure to happen to boost transit in that region while you can all keep filling up your gas tanks, enjoying how your heating bills go up & up & up. It's difficult to even understand what the selling features would be for some of those regions for voting Liberal after 8 years of very little for those ridings. Oh well, hope it was worth it.

Green Party
Once again, the Green Party and it's supporters have proven to be the spoilers of what could have been much more progressive governance in BC in some regions. When your party leader can't even win their own riding, there is a serious need to analyze what the point of this party is and what their future direction is.

BC No Longer Has a Moral High Ground
As the results cannot deny, BC can no longer have any claim to having a solid moral high ground and we are much worse off because of that. Voters in several regions have essentially sanctioned, encouraged and approved of amoral, questionable and possible criminal behaviour as being something to be of no concern to them when it comes to our public officials. Way to go folks.

BC has elected the following people again, in spite of previous serious criminal charges (drunk driving in the case of Premier Campbell), loss of driving license and failure to step down as Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General (John Van Dongen) and continuing RCMP investigations on the others as well as the BC Liberal party ( John Les, Mary Polak and Rich Coleman).

To me, that is what I'm most deeply ashamed of as a result of this election. Parents can no longer pretend that drunk driving, excessive speeding, shady and underhanded deals and other shenanigans are a bad thing. Our public officials have proven than you can do whatever you want, no matter who might get hurt and everything will be A-okay and you will even be rewarded. Voting these people in again, with the knowledge of these things, demonstrates a clear move toward dumbing down the morality of our entire province for future generations. Remember that next time your kids ask to borrow the keys when they head out to that party.

The NDP Needs to Change
Many of us believed that this election was the NDP's to lose. And they did. I had many reports from people early on wondering when the NDP was going to even start their campaign, when their platform would be out, what they were doing to rally the forces and get the vote out?

I know lots of NDP members and supporters, I know they were working their fingers to the bone getting the vote out in their regions (as were Liberal supporters too). I also know, some NDP candidates and campaigns were pathetic. Examples, I received several calls from NDP candidates from different areas, not one single call from my own NDP incumbent, who I've been in communications with, as well as with the office. That's beyond lame.

I know of people walking into NDP campaign offices to find very little in the way of literature, swag, volunteers, or buzz. Nothing to do, so they walked right out. Yet, the same people walking into labour organizations finding buzz, campaign planning, multi-media tools and lots of creative materials to hand out to potential voters.

I've know this for a long time, as have many, in spite of the excellent candidates who were elected, there is something very broken within the NDP leadership, in the backroom. It is time for the old school to step down, move on and let some fresh air into this party and movement. Until that happens, the NDP will not be seen as a viable party to the majority of the populace needed to lead the province. Too many remember and mistrust the NDP of old and the current incarnation was not able to get the message out that today's NDP really is different from the old days, with a lot of new people, new energy, talented, educated and skilled people of all ages. The left has changed for the better and it's time for new faces, voices and leaders to take the reins.

It would be easy for me to just throw my hands up in the air in disgust and walk away from this bloodsport we call politics, but other than a wee break, I can't do that, there is too much at stake for all of us here in BC, even the people who vote against their own interests. So, I will carry on, exposing why the BC Liberals Suck in technicolor detail and no-holds-barred opinion and free speech. I'll keep adding to the other voices of the blogosphere and journalists who haven't sold their souls to keep their jobs in the doomed mainstream media.

I believe in the people of BC, believe that they want to know the truth about their government's actions and deeds governing this Beautiful province of ours. The truth will set us free and it will help us navigate what are sure to be very choppy waters over the next four years.

Congratulations to those who worked hard and were elected. Watch your backs to those who've got something to hide, because we will be here to expose you and hold your feet to the fire as we continue to dream of social and economic justice, dignity and human rights for all of us here in British Columbia.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Day the BC Government Changed

The way I figure it is that we here in BC are at a crossroads, a time of truth and of revelation and hopefully, a time where we will all choose wisely as we step inside the booth to vote for our next government and possibly a new electoral system.

I started this blog in 2005 as a culture jam, a sneaky way to take the piss against a government that was intent on selling every last asset and resource we need for a prosperous future. A way to provoke thought in citizens, to encourage people in civic and political engagement and processes. It was also a way to channel my energy, anger and hurt at seeing the harm being done to the most vulnerable around us and the purposeful destruction of the social safety net in the province of my birth.

I also saw the battering of the people - good, caring people working on the frontlines, struggling to do a good job in providing service to the people of BC and being treated like garbage, fodder to use up and spit out. Changes to labour laws, Employment Standards, Worker’s Compensation, torn up negotiated contracts, slashing of thousands of jobs, diminished standards of work and whole sectors being destroyed.

Then it became something entirely different, a place to catalogue fast disappearing media and stand on my soapbox, in the tradition of Speakers Corner in London. Blogging was a new way to get around the media concentration in Canada, the erosion of the written word and the lack of commitment to an unbiased way of reporting the news and political governance.

This blog’s bias is unapologetically clear, transparent and is an organizing principle for the blog. This blog doesn’t claim to be anything but what it is, unlike the mainstream media in BC. We believe the Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberals have been the worst, most corrupt and duplicitous government in BC’s history and we are deeply ashamed of how they’ve impacted our national and international reputation and hurt so many people in our province and how they are selling everything off.

Blogging has also given me a place to offer an alternative analysis and perspective of how Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberals were conducting business, OUR business and the real world consequences of their social and economic policies and ideologically driven machinations.

Along the way, I was also offered the opportunity to learn more about the way in which the BC Liberal government was conducting the business of governance, their political and organizational ideology. Neo-conservatism is their mantra. It’s the foundation to their strategic unraveling of the complex and bureaucratic organization of our government and the public service that used to serve the best interests of the citizens of British Columbia.

Right off the hop, when elected in 2001 the BC Liberals and their invisible backroom players sprang into action – it was the old, smash ‘em over the head and while they’re still reeling, we’ll rush through a whole bunch of big changes and they’ll never know what hit ‘em and even better, they won’t be able to stop ‘em.

Core reviews, slashing of budgets and staff beyond reason, or intelligence. De-regulation, privatization, alternative service delivery, transformation. Innovation bastardized to support the ideology, to sell the assets and resources of BC to insider friends and friends of friends, or American-based multi-national corporations.

What stands out most to me from this past 8 years is the debasement and corruption of our government, of our elected leaders and the BC public service, which is gradually being privatized and appears to be in a race to the bottom. Anyone working in, working with, or even writing about the BC government has found their own personal and professional dignity and integrity compromised. It is an inevitability when lying down with these dogs, even if one didn’t know what they were doing.

In many ways, our very moral fibre has been eaten away and once proud, sustainable and commonsense values have been diminished and replaced by a mentality that says everything is fair game and the people who form our government are not responsible, nor accountable for their behaviour while in office. To the victor goes the spoils is the new hegemony in BC. There has been a normalization of values of corruption, of immorality and of the narcissistic selfishness that places the wants and desires of the few over the safety, health and wellbeing of the many. That isn’t the BC I have grown up in and it isn’t the BC I want for the future, for myself, my family, our children.

I want to send a BIG shout out to the many dedicated bloggers and journalists out there who have contributed to the public good by ensuring that certain scandals, insider information about governments deals and happenings didn’t just get lost in the ether. Many of us know that we have experienced a profound failure of journalistic integrity in BC, but there are a few gems who still buck the system and get the word out to the voters and citizens of BC.

I want to thank the many activists, multi-media artists, and candidates running who have all thrown themselves into this election and engaged in civic and political life in a way most of us don’t have the stomache, or courage to do. Their creativity, passion and commitment to the social justice and human rights is so inspiring and is like a light in the darkness. Being involved in politics is frustrating, maddening and worth every minute if you can make a difference in the lives of those who need the help most.

Happy Voting to those who didn’t cast their ballots in Advance polls, which have had a record high turn out (297,201). With 85 seats up for grabs, the winning party needs just 43 seats to form government.

Ridings to Watch

Kamloops - First and foremost, keep your eyes on Kamloops, with its history of electing the winning political party each year since 1903.

Abbotsford South – I would look to a shift of voters to Gurcharan Dhaliwal of the BC Conservatives, as voters can’t stomache voting for John Van Dongen, the disgraced former Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General who recently had his driving license removed by his own Ministry for unsafe driving.

Burnaby-Deer Lake – It will be a tough battle between Kathy Corrigan (NDP) and John Nurany who has essentially been an invisible Liberal MLA, especially when plans to build a new jail in Burnaby came to light.

Cariboo Ridings - With the two new ridings and very close wins for the two NDP incumbents, these will be ridings to keep a close eye on.

Delta South – Independent Vicki Huntington stands a real chance of upsetting Stonewally Oppal who happened to remember he lives in this riding in time for the election. It’s too little, too late, it’s time for him to go. We’d put our money on Ms. Huntington to beat Dileep Athaide, the NDP candidate too.

Fraser North – This area is an important one, spanning 11 different ridings on the north side of the Fraser river, with a range of populated urban areas and rural, smaller communities.

Langley – It will be a tough race between Kathleen Stephany, of the NDP and Mary Polak of the BC Liberals. Polak has been considered a real no-show for constituents, while she’s been busy building her political career. Stephany has a solid reputation as someone with integrity, high moral value and conviction, who has consistently acted in the public’s interest.

Kootenay East – Look for Troy Sebastian to be a front runner. Plain & simple, there is no room in BC for someone like Bill Bennett anymore. Anyone who has the poor judgment to place an ad that might be perceived as a jab about Sebastian’s status as a First Nations person is not someone who should be getting paid by the taxpayers of BC. And it’s not the first time he’s shown terrible judgment before.

Bill Bennett placed the ad in a free weekly newspaper as part of his candidacy for the May 12 provincial election. The ad reads, "You want someone who pays taxes and is concerned about how the money is being spent," underneath a photo of Bennett and his family and a slogan that reads, "He's one of us." (CBC News).

Kamloops-North Thompson & Kamloops-South Thompson – The newly configured ridings will offer an interesting toss up in this election.

The North – The region with 10 ridings, many of whom are home to hurting families and communities who have received little support from the sitting government. This could be an important swing region.

North Vancouver-Lonsdale – This new riding has no incumbent running, but well-known local political and community players running for the BC Conservatives, Liberals and NDP this will be a riding to pay attention to.

Vancouver-Fairview – Gabriel Yiu, riding resident and advocate, running for the NDP vs. Kash Heed, a rent-a-politician for the BC Liberals.

Vancouver-Point Grey – Campbell and his campaign people may have greatly overestimated the support he has in this riding. Mel Lehan of the NDP is well known, well liked and has a solid track record of helping & supporting constituents. Campbell has quite literally dissed the constituents of the riding by not even gracing them with his presence, as he failed to show up for any All Candidates meetings for his own voters and pranced around BC wooing voters elsewhere. BIG mistake.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bits & Pieces of Campbell's BC Liberals Work in BC


"The Ballad of Gordon Campbell”
Air Farce.

The Gordon Campbell Convention Centre Boondoggle

The Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre: A boondoggle in the making?
Carlito Pablo Georgia Straight. November 1, 2007.

Chronology of budgets and estimates

Vancouver's $900 Million Convention Centre Flooded by Broken Pipe
CBC News. April 27, 2009.

A water leak at Vancouver's new convention centre has flooded two levels of the mammoth building, damaging the flooring and forcing 1,000 delegates of a Public Service Alliance of Canada convention out onto the street.

The Vancouver Convention Centre was opened earlier this month at a cost of nearly $900 million, and is slated to be the main international press centre and broadcast facility during the upcoming 2010 Winter Games in February.

From CTV, watch:

BC's Shame: Child Poverty in British Columbia

Our province has the highest child poverty rate in Canada[for 5 years in a row, going for a 6th, with close to 200,000, or over 20% of kids living in poverty - Ed.]. It's a damning statistic that advocates are calling 'B.C.'s Shame.'

MONDAY: The highest child poverty rate in Canada

TUESDAY: One woman's struggle to provide

WEDNESDAY: Food banks jammed with kids

THURSDAY: Poverty's dangerous consequences

Open Letter from Rafe Mair

Fellow British Columbians –

I’ve been fighting injustice my entire life. I have long looked with considerable skepticism at those in charge feeling strongly that they must have the closest possible scrutiny.

I’ve been in government and know how the spin is administered to issues so that evils in government policies are disguised. I’ve long been guided by what I call Mair’s Axiom I, namely, “one makes a serious mistake in assuming that people in charge know what the hell they’re doing”.

During my time practicing law I took many cases “pro bono” because I sensed an injustice.

As Consumer Minister I battled hard for consumers passing 33 pieces of legislation in two sittings, a record before or since. In the Ministry of Environment I stopped government killing wolves, stopped exploration for and mining of uranium and negotiated the saving of the Skagit River from being made into a lake by City of Seattle raising the Ross Dam.

In radio I fought against two disastrous constitutional exercises, Meech Lake and Charlottetown, the Kemano Completion Project, a gravel pit on the Pitt River, the fish farm issue and recently the private river swindle.

I’m now in my 78th year and though I’m pretty fit, the time comes when you have to consider that your place in the front line trenches should be taken by younger people. I’ve greatly enjoyed speaking all around the province and meeting so many of you on the “rivers” issue but being away from home on the road for many days at a time takes a toll. While I have no intention to stop speaking out and writing on environmental concerns perhaps it’s time I started supporting causes but not being its torch bearer.

In short, I have to face reality.

The “rivers” issue I’m now fighting is one of the most important I’ve ever been involved in and in this fight I include the government’s appalling record on the fish farm issue. What’s at stake here is the essence, or you might say the very soul, of British Columbia. The return of Gordon Campbell will mean the sale, for money we’ll never even see, the British Columbia we love so dearly.
Indeed the money will be paid by us through BC Hydro to the very people who will destroy our province!

We do not need power – the National Energy Board is authority for that. When we do require more we have four viable ways to get it.
1. Conservation
2. Upgrading our present generators.
3. Putting generators on flood control dams and new ones on existing dams
4. Taking back the power we’re entitled to under the Columbia River Treaty.

It’s critical that we all understand that private power depends upon the spring runoff for the water it needs, meaning it mainly produces power for a few short months at best and at the same time BC Hydro’s reservoirs are full to brimming. Because this power is of limited duration and at a time Hydro can’t use it, it’s exported bringing us within the purview of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

A re-election of Mr. Campbell will mean the not so slow strangulation of BC Hydro, our power company that is the envy the world and it will happen this way. Hydro has lost 1/3 of its employees to Accenture, the bastard nephew of the infamous Enron, and its transmission lines to a new crown corporation, BCTC. Meanwhile, what’s left of our public power utility, BC Hydro, is banned from developing new sources of renewable energy and is forced instead to buy large quantities of expensive private river power that we don’t need and can’t use at more than twice the market price. Buy high and sell low! With just a few private projects now up and running already Hydro owes $30 BILLION on long term indexed prices and every private project adds to the total and tightens that strangling noose. Barred from producing new sources of power and still carrying its $7 BILLION Capital debt, Hydro is on its death bed only waiting for Mr. Campbell to administer the Last Rites.

As he did with BC Rail, Premier Campbell promises to keep BC Hydro publicly owned – that, if nothing else, must tell us what he intends to do.

Of huge concern is that BC Hydro, always able to pay of hundreds of millions a year dividends to the BC treasury, which go towards our schools, hospitals and social programs, now cannot do so. In essence then, the public is paying, through BC Hydro, for the capital costs of private companies like Ledcor and General Electric, while no longer receiving the bounty of BC Hydro’s much envied ability to create clean, cheap and constant energy.

It doesn’t end there, of course. Each plant desecrates the rivers it diverts or dams (the industry prefers we call them weirs) for all time. We must remember that while economic missteps by government can be fixed by a later government, once we’ve lost our rivers and BC Hydro we can never get them back.

This is indeed a “watershed” election (pun intended) where we’ll decide if we keep “supernatural BC” or turn it over to large international companies such as General Electric.

The Liberal government, in the words of Oscar Wilde knows “the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

If we re-elect the Campbell government we will, quite rightly, be condemned by our children, our grandchildren and generations as yet unborn.


Rafe Mair

Saturday, May 09, 2009

BC Government Audit & Moving Along the Cuts to the BC Public Service

Examining the books is a must. The citizens of BC will be profoundly shocked to learn what Campbell's BC Liberal government has done in mismanaging and other things much worse. For a long time, we've been saying to follow the money trails. This forensic audit should go office by office, Ministry by Ministry, Crown agency by Crown agency, Health Authority by Health Authority and so on. It's only when that is done will the taxpayers and Liberal supporters understand that the "Great Train Robbery" has nothing on these people.

Another order of crucial business will be a commitment to a full public inquiry into the Sale of BC Rail and the Raid on the Legislature.

On this blog, along with many others, we've been trying to ensure that people understand that this government will not be happy until they have privatized every single public service, resource and asset they can, stripping the citizens of BC of all of these domestic and provincial essential services. This is no rhetoric, it is a fact. Read more here and here about all that has been privatized to understand that with one more term, there will be nothing left. Remember you heard it here first, look for the entire Income Assistance ministry and system to be privatized before the end of the year, as well as some correctional facilities.

On May 12th we have the single most important election in BC's history and future. We have an opportunity to save our province, it won't be easy and the next administration won't be miracle workers, but what they will do is bring BC back from an abyss that a growing number of us know we are falling into, a place where many of us will not make it back from.

Watch How:

Premier Gordon Campbell has put BC up for Sale

Twyla Roscovich has created an emotionally charged video focusing on Premier Gordon Campbell’s policies that threaten B.C.’s wild-salmon ecosystem.


First Priority for Premier James: Check on the Liberals' Books
Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun. May 9, 2009.

New Democratic Party leader Carole James would start her term of office as premier with a full-blown review of provincial finances.

"The first thing is to do an examination of the books," James said when asked about priorities for a hypothetical first 100 days in office.

"I think that's critical," she told me during a recent interview on Voice of B.C. on Shaw TV. "People really are skeptical about where the numbers are."

People are skeptical with good reason. The public service abounds with rumours of slumping revenues, pending cuts in spending, and a much bigger-than-budgeted deficit.

"The second step is to make sure we get moving on the tax break that we've proposed in our plan, to give people money back in their pockets, to get rid of the carbon tax," she told me. "So right away people will see a tax break."

Step three: Increase the minimum wage to $10 from $8. Long overdue and, paradoxically, badly timed.


BC government begins plan to reduce public service by up to 57 percent

"Public service workers are already stretched to the limit after the 30 percent cuts they endured during the Campbell government's first term," Walker said. Achieving a further 57 percent cut would mean either abandoning essential public services, or massively contracting out services to the private sector."


Forces of demography
Sean Holman, Public Eye Online. May 07, 2009.

The premier's deputy minister Jessica McDonald has stated provincial civil service layoffs, if they do occur, will be under five percent of the workforce. But the Campbell administration is projecting demographic forces will further reduce the number of bureaucrats over the next ten years by 30 to 57 percent. This, according to a government document obtained exclusively by Public Eye. That's why the administration announced in February it would be establishing a $75 million public service transformation fund to find ways of delivering "quality services to citizens with fewer staff." Although, at the time, it wasn't specific about those projected reductions. The following is a complete copy of the relevant portions of that document.

Continue reading "Forces of demography"

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Cardinal Sins of Campbell’s BC Liberals: Part 2

Documents Obtained By CBC News show Run of the River projects are breaking environmental regulations
“Government officials involved in the strike teams say they can’t discuss what they found until after next week’s provincial election.”

Run-of-river Power Projects Breach Environmental Regulations: documents
CBC News.

Damaging Wild Salmon Stocks
Encouraging an explosion of farmed fish, in spite of the scientific evidence this was causing infestations of sea lice in wild salmon and destroying the natural ecosystems. What’s worse, the BC Liberal government wants to expand farmed fishing in BC.

The “Sale” of BC Rail
He told the people of BC, when running for the first election, he would not privatize BC Rail. He was planning it all along. Five years ago, on December 28th 2003 the BC Legislature was raided for a police investigation into government corruption, drugs, organized crime, money laundering and the “sale” of BC Rail. Government aides were charged and we now know the “deal” directly involved insiders and advisors to Gordon Campbell, as well as a number of Ministers and senior bureaucrats. The BC government has done everything they could to delay, stop and take vexacious actions to prevent the truth from coming out and justice for the citizens of BC. This has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees and it will cost millions as this continues.

Unelected Lobbyists, Friends & Insiders Have Extraordinary Influence over BC
Lobbyists and BC Liberal insiders Patrick Kinsella and Ken Dobell, close friends and mentors of Campbell’s, have had their grubby, greedy paws in privatization and all manner of other schemes to separate the taxpayers of BC from any resources & assets they might have.

Attorney General Wally "Stonewally" Oppal - Once a respected and honourable judge laid down with the dogs and now has a bad case of fleas he’ll never shake. Once you start making excuses for them, you’re done and he’s made a lot of excuses about why the BC government can’t explain Kinsella’s role in the “sale” of BC rail. Now he’s remembered he lives in Delta South and since he was booted out of Vancouver-Fairview he’s running in a riding that has been essentially raped & pillaged by the BC Liberals and he hasn’t even paid attention, let alone done a thing to help the riding.

Outrageous Pay Raises for Gordon Campbell & Co.
  • The big man gave himself an obscene pay increase. "Campbell, premier and head of the BC Liberals, saw his annual compensation soar from $126,638 to $187,589 between 2006/07 and 2007/08. That's a one-year hike of $60,951, or 48.1 per cent." (McMartin).
  • Gordon Campbell gave his deputy ministers a hefty pay raise in 2001 and another in 2006 giving his Deputy Ministers and senior bureaucrats another raise, opening the door for pay increases of up to 43 per cent in 2008. This is with very little to show for their work and in a time when more citizens in BC have never been worse off.
  • CEO's of Crown corporations have seen their compensation skyrocket by as much as 166 per cent. Check this out to see the top earners and see where your taxpayer dollars have seeped away.
  • New Translink Board Salaries Exorbitant - "According to figures from TransLink, the nine-member unelected board was paid nearly $575,000 in salaries and benefits in 2008-09. This compares to $122,000 paid to the 12 mayors and councillors, who had run the board before it was disbanded in 2007. Directors are paid a base salary of about $25,000 plus $8,000 for chairing committees and $1,200 for every m
  • eeting they attend." (Vancouver Sun).

Huge Pay Raises, the Silent Issue
Libs gave selves big pay hikes, zero to minimum wage earners. But NDP can't complain.
By Will McMartin. Published: April 29, 2009. TheTyee.ca
Institutionalized Child Labour & Wage Poverty for Working People
This same government created and refuses to do away with a instituted a $6 “training wage,” made it legal for 12 year olds to work and has steadfastly refused to raise the minimum wage to a measly $10, which still doesn’t add up to a decent standard of living in BC, especially with rising costs of gas, heat, food and rent.

Hands Tied, Child protection workers talk about working in, and leaving, B.C.'s child welfare system

BC Liberal Americanization of Formerly Public Assets and Services
By Sharing is Good.

Definition of Tyranny

–noun, plural -nies.
1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
2. the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
3. a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
4. oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
5. undue severity or harshness.
6. a tyrannical act or proceeding.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Cardinal Sins of Campbell’s BC Liberals: Part 1

We’ve now been plagued by the Campbell BC Liberals government (and the shadows that stand behind him) for 8 very long years. In that time, this administration has engaged in a number of “sins” against our people and our province. In an effort to cut through the BS, through the smokescreens and the ads bought and paid for by our taxpayer dollars, here is a list of the most grievous sins of the BC Liberals. This is by no means exhaustive and as is often the case, the impacts and consequences for many of us regular folks are made invisible by a mainstream media in BC that is simply an extension of the government. In no particular order:

Child poverty – When BC was booming, the BC Liberals “won” the shameful distinction of leading Canada in child poverty for 5 years in a row. I suspect a 6th is looming. In December 2008, Premier Gordon Campbell was interviewed by Dirk Meissner for the Canadian Press, stating that during his time in government "all of what I've tried to do in public life is about children." I’m sure all of the hungry and homeless children in BC, or those with disabilities who can’t even get onto waitlists for services would different with that opinion, Mr. Campbell.

Privatizing and selling off BC’s Resources and Assets – This is what’s gone so far, more to come:

- BC Rail (to CN in a cooked and crooked deal)

- Parts of BC Hydro (Accenture)

- BC Provincial Revenue – did you know that a private corporation now has all of your personal and private information that used to be held only by the BC government?

- Maximus

- Telus/Shared Solutions – BC government payroll is now in the hands of these corporations.

Please know this – if the BC Liberals get in again, they will privatize the entire government infrastructure and many public services will be sold to the highest bidder. We will all find out what it means to need our social safety net and it won’t be there to catch us, like the homeless have found out over the last 8 years.

See Calling from the Coast – “BC For Sale” video

Gas tax, masquerading as a Carbon Tax – It gouges all of us at the gas pumps and on every gigajoule we need to heat our homes. It’s bad for everyone, but people in smaller communities around BC are being punished even mor. We’re all seeing our standards of living drop for a government that doesn’t have any real plans to reduce environmental harm. And think about this – the gas tax is due to increase 50 per cent in July 2009 if the BC Liberals get in again.

What kind of idiot legislatively prohibits BC Hydro from developing it’s own power and forces the people’s Crown power supplier to buy more expensive power from privatized corporate entities? BC Hydro now has $30 billion dollars in deals with the private companies, with no money going into BC’s coffers. How is that good for BC?

"You stated that the BC Liberals are planning to privatize and deregulate BC Hydro. This too is false. BC Liberals will not sell BC Hydro. A BC Liberal government will not sell or privatize BC Hydro's dams, transmission lines, water resources or other core assets. These are public assets and they will remain as such." - Gordon Campbell, open letter to then-Premier Ujjal Dosanjh - February 28, 2001

Selling off our rivers to private corporations with sketchy plans for Run of River power projects with lack of oversight or concern about possible environmental damage.

Explosion of Homeless across BC

Campbell’s BC government has succeeded in creating the largest increase in homelessness in BC’s history, during economic boom times. How was this done - by creating public policies that deny the most vulnerable access to income assistance and housing. I believe the term the Ombudsman used in her report is they’ve created a “Kafkaesque” welfare system.

Resource Based Communities are Dying

With the Forestry sector having gone down, the BC Liberals have not done one real damn thing to help the thousands of unemployed workers in the resource sectors and the most hard hit communities. Actions speak louder than words and campaign promises mean nothing. If his lips are moving, it’s lies and those hurting from the dying resource sectors know this. It's no surprise that bankruptcies around BC are up. What will it take to do something for those of us who are just regular working stiffs who want to raise our kids, given them a good life and now just the basics?

Land removal from ALR for Real Estate Developments

How did BC become the most expensive province to live in around Canada? One reason is questionable applications and the removal of desirable real estate from Agricultural Land Reserves. It’s interesting to note how many BC Liberal MLA’s were real estate developers prior to being elected to government.

The Erosion of BC’s Public Education System

Undermining the public education system through inadequate funding to support BC’s children. It’s shell games again, with K-12 funding increased only 1.5% in 2009/10 and .7 % in 2010/11 when funding isn’t even enough to stop cuts to education in the 2009/10 fiscal year. School boards have to make hard choices about where to cut our children’s education systems. I guess if we consider school supplies, heat, teaching assistants and supports to children with special needs unnecessary then this will be okay with us.If we don't "get our kids education right the first time, we have no second chances."

Vote to end Campbell Cuts to Education for BC's Kids