30 November 2010

Analysis: Kevin Falcon Enters BC Liberal Race

Kevin Falcon just now declared his intention to run for the leadership of the BC Liberals. Should he win, Falcon would instantly become Premier of this province.

The website of Falcon's campaign is now up and his inaugural speech for the Liberal leadership is available.

From this non-partisan's perspective, Falcon appears to deserve the "Campbell light" label others have stuck to him. His speech contains largely - almost to the point of ad nauseam - references to building and investing: building the economy and increasing the built environment.

There's no reference to the preservation of the natural environment.

More worrisome to me are these statements:

I'd like to begin a discussion about how people would feel about lowering the HST rate over time to 10%. Perhaps a 1% reduction in 2011 and a further 1% when provincial revenues are sufficient to accommodate it....

the best job we can do as government is ensuring we maintain a low tax environment

If a Falcon government would lower the HST, how would it maintain current programs, reduce the deficit, or pay for new programs (for, say, helping parents with dyslexic or autistic children, as Falcon suggests)? Where does Falcon suppose the money will come from, if not from increased income taxes? If Falcon were to lower the HST, he would have no choice but to raise income taxes or to increase fees, which is a form of consumption tax.

An increase in income taxes in conjunction with lowering the rate of the HST is the wrong direction to go in terms of overall tax policy. The HST is only 12 percent now, the lowest rate of HST in the country; it need not go any lower.

If Falcon is going to be 'Campbell light', then he must at least retain what good policy Campbell's government introduced. He must continue its direction of using consumption taxes to encourage or curb spending in certain areas and stop punishing earnings through income taxes. In other words, Falcon should

  • NOT lower the HST - tweak it, yes, so that, for example, expensive luxury items pay a higher rate.
  • increase the carbon tax, and
  • lower income tax.

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29 November 2010

Recall This When Christy Clark Campaigns for the BC Liberal Leadership

All democratic and electoral reformers, get out your notepads, do write-ups in your blogs and include the following video:

Did you get that? During British Columbia's 2009 referendum on electoral reform, Christy Clark may have come late to supporting BC's version of the Single Transferable Vote (BC-STV); but once she did support it, she did so passionately, without reservation and on-air.

Therefore, I've a question for Ms. Clark:

In your (expected) campaign to become leader of the BC Liberal Party and therefore, Premier of this province, will you promise - with consequences if you don't keep your promise - to renew democratic reform, particularly electoral reform as proposed by the BC Citizens' Assembly?

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27 November 2010

Electoral Reformers, There is Hope

Electoral reform is currently second place in a Globe and Mail poll asking "what the next discussion Canada needs to have."

Go. Vote.

Yes, the environment, currently number one in the poll, is a vitally important issue. However, unless our 'representatives' in Parliament actually represent& we, their constitituents, over their own - which means their party's - interests, then the environment or anything else we may care about won't get addressed.

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25 November 2010

Interest Rate Policy Increasing Poverty Among Seniors

According to a new report, the number of seniors living in poverty soared almost 25 percent between the years 2007 and 2008.

Women have been the most affected. Up to 80 percent, suggests the report.

Daphne and I are, or soon will be, counted among those women.

At 60 years of age we don't yet officially qualify as seniors. However, with the Bank of Canada having kept interest rates ridiculously low over the past several years, we will be among the poverty statistics for seniors in future reports. Many of our friends already are or soon will be.

We are the women who worked for decades in low-paying 'female' jobs while child-rearing. We are the women who, out of our low incomes, scrimped and saved knowing that nothing was sure for tomorrow.

Now we are punished for saving because of an interest rate policy that values consumption, debt and a head-in-the-sand mentality over thrift, responsibility and the urge to maintain self-reliance.

The following is an excerpt from one woman's story. It could be duplicated many times over, by many other women:

I am tired. I have been working since I was 14. When I retire at 65, I’m going to have this little tiny government handout. It won’t matter how resourceful I’ve been. There’s no financial reward for that...

I am one of the working poor. The reward for that is more poorness. It's, "Sorry lady, you did a really good job. You raised those kids. You were only on Welfare for eleven months. Good for you, good for you - here are your pennies" (p47).

When will the Bank of Canada stop its insane interest rate policy? The result has been consumer interest rates so low that they don't even keep up with inflation. No surprise, then, that the people most dependent on hard-earned savings, largely senior women, are falling behind.

[Cross-posted at economicus ridiculous]

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24 November 2010

IggyLibs and HarperCons: Ottawa's sabre rattlers

Bob Rae says, "You can't promote peace unless you put force behind the law and behind the collective will of the international community."

First, times have been when the "international community" has been wrong.

Second, right or wrong depends on whose interests shape the agenda.

Military superpowers head the so-called international community. Such powers, rather than promoting peace through example, prefer instead to use violence to promote more quell violence. They have found this useful for boosting their own economies.

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Sometimes They Get It Right

The nature, ideology or beliefs of the people who govern matter less than the actions of those people; and, logically, if such people get it wrong the majority of the time, they sometimes get it right.

John Flaherty's refusal to extend the stimulus deadline exhibits a case of getting it right. Yes, the government dragged its feet getting the stimulus out the door. Anyone but the credulous would suspect that to have been deliberate.

That aside, if the large number of polls are to be believed (sometimes they get it right too), most Canadians other than those working in the construction industry, would have preferred no stimulus - and no bailouts, the worst form of 'stimulus' -, rather than incur a federal deficit.

These Canadians, the majority, would have preferred that the corporations and industries that over-extended themselves in the (correct) belief that governments would cover their asses, should have been allowed to perish if such was their natural course.

The majority of Canadians would have preferred that people who consumed and spent like there was no tomorrow, all the while aware of circumstances strongly suggesting they should make changes, not be rewarded for their gluttony and intentional denial through emergency government programs.

The majority of Canadians think that no person, bank, corporation or industry will correct his/her/its behaviour toward survival if Big Daddy is always there for his/her/its rescue.

Enough is enough. End the stimulus.

Also end the bailouts.

Oops, too late on the bailouts.

Witness yesterday's vote in the House of Commons on the flawed F-35 contract. The gullible will suppose that the motion passed in aid of supporting Quebec's economy. Others will nod knowingly that the true reason for all those Yes votes yesterday was to save the necks of certain Conservative and Bloc politicians.

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23 November 2010

Local Cowichan Tribes Launches Landmark Adoption Authority

Cowichan Tribes has been dedicated, especially in the past few years, in pushing innovative solutions to address local problems. There's no question that the entire community, native and not, has appreciated and benefited from it.

Here the Cowichan Tribes are again, leading a landmark move to wrest control of their children from the hands of British Columbia authorities.

Cowichan Tribes' Lalum'utul' Smun'eem Child and Family Services department now oversees all adoption services for Cowichan children in care, rather than the provincial government.

"This is an integral part of the shift to return our jurisdictional rights of children and family matters back to Aboriginal communities," Cowichan Tribes Chief Lydia Hwitsum said in a media release.

It's big news for native communities locally, even bigger news for communities throughout this province and across Canada. Cowichan Tribes' move demonstrates that it CAN be done.

Way. To. Go. Cowichan Tribes!!!

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Local NDP Members Disgruntled By Carole James & Company

Since the 2009 election (crowning?) of this riding's NDP candidate and ultimately-elected MLA, Bill Routley, there has been a fracturing of the local NDP constituency association.

From this nonpartisan's point of view, I can see why. Our former NDP MLA, one DOUG Routley, was forever helpful. BILL Routley not so much. When a constituent (me) requested his assistance regarding a government service, there was no response. Doug, who moved one riding north, would have fallen over himself trying to help.

How many other constituents of Bill Routley have been left without a response from their MLA?

Then there were signals of undemocratic process during the nomination of Bill Routley to NDP candidacy and, later, underhandedness and a not-so-wholly-honest campaign during the 2009 provincial election. Rumours floated of the campaign using Bill's connections with high muckety mucks in BC's labour movement. Throughout, it appeared that campaigners were trying hard to trade on Doug's good reputation and to confuse locals into thinking it was the familiar Doug for whom they were voting, not Bill.

Another distinction between the two Routleys is that Bill supports Carole James. Doug, whose constituency association was calling for a leadership convention in 2011, hasn't outright opposed her leadership, but he also has refused to express his support or to wear one of those famous yellow scarves at last weekend's NDP gathering.

With past shenanigans and current goings-on, one might understand, therefore, why there could be some hard feelings among the (still?) NDP party faithful in the riding of Cowichan Valley.

Recently, Sharon Jackson, a local city Councillor and dedicated political and social campaigner, was attending a local event celebrating former NDP Premier Dave Barrett's 80th birthday.

Jackson wrote the following in an email sent to me and to others:

Carole James and her entourage were there... Pity; because of that, all the really interesting people left early.

I think Carole and Moe and their power hungry in-crowd are destroying the party and dooming us to another Liberal Government.

It will be interesting to see if Gordon Wilson makes a comeback.

It's a sad state of affairs for the locals. Many of the NDP faithful have been disenfranchised by recent events and the rest of us - well, the ones without appropriate connections - are left without an MLA who will work for them.

Related - BC NDP: Both Sides Out of Mouth Syndrome

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21 November 2010

Friendship and Playing Nice

We all could learn from these two, not least Stephen Harper & Company:

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BC NDP Numbers Show Rift between Powerbrokers, Grassroots

During the weekend "showdown" over Carole James' leadership of the BC NDP, a clear difference in the divisions between party officials and the NDP caucus became evident.

Yes, James was approved as leader by 84 percent. This vote included members of the provincial party executive, other party officials, certain members of the federal NDP and a stacked number of delegates representing organized labour.*

NDP MLAs are not permitted to participate in such votes.

MLAs are the elected representatives of the people in their ridings. The NDP currently has 34 MLAs.

No report mentions whether all of the NDP's MLAs showed up at the weekend event. However, we know that 13 of them, almost 40 percent of the NDP caucus, outright opposed or refused to show support for James' leadership.

If MLAs care about keeping their jobs, they'll have their fingers on the pulse of their communities.

Perhaps those 13 MLAs know something that their party officials, big labour management and others who circle the party backroom don't.

* I hated, hated, hated when I was a union member having my membership used to support a specific party. Wouldn't have mattered what party. Such practice is wrong and anti-democratic.

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18 November 2010

Interest Rate Policy Punishes Most Vulnerable

The Bank of Canada's interest rate policy punishes saving and rewards debt. As does the federal government when it bails out "too big to fail" corporations and industries and rescues banks from the results of their rash decisions.

Such policies punish those people who scrimp and save, who put off buying today so they'll be able to live tomorrow. Many of these people are now in, or about to enter retirement; only to find their savings earning one or two percent or, if they're particularly fortunate, 2.5 percent.

Such people dare not put their savings into the markets, not when their lives are reliant on those savings. We have all seen what happens to the markets.

How did Canada get things so ass backwards?

How did Canada get to rewarding people who buy like there is no tomorrow? Who get mortgages they can't afford? Who purchase more automotive and recreational vehicles, gadgets and gewgaws, vacations and cruises than they could ever use?

Too many seniors today are struggling to make ends meet because their hard-earned savings are earning less than the increases to their living expenses, such increases exceeding the cost of living. (For most seniors, some form of disability is present.)

This situation, the erosion of seniors' and others' savings, is thanks to the interest rate policy of the Bank of Canada.

It's downright criminal. It also costs governments.

For anyone on some form of financial assistance - for example, disability benefits, seniors' Guaranteed Income Supplement - any personal income, including that of interest from savings, must first be taken into account. The lower those earnings or income, the more government pays.

[Cross-posted at economicus ridiculous]

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An important article on copyright appears in the Straight today. Written from the perspective of a student at Simon Fraser University, it highlights how copyright law can infringe the rights of creators - researchers, scientists - to share their information with the public. In other words, it can prevent knowledge from getting to all but an elite few.

Excessive copyright law can create monopolies of knowledge and monopolies of culture can isolate us from understanding and from the ability to act as citizens....

As a student ... I can go online and read scientific journal articles about climate change. When I graduate I will lose my library card. I can pay for a new one, but it will not include online journal access. I will have to trek up to the top of Burnaby Mountain to read the public research - and even then, I will not be able to share the articles I find.

I've experienced this problem.

Several times in the recent past, I've had to post to academic listservs asking if anyone has an e-copy of this article or that. Without exception, either the original authors or other academics have responded with a downloadable file for me.

Going to the publishers' websites results in the opposite experience because they hold the copyright.

It's not the creators who are blocking access. They want to share their work.

Read Geof Glass' entire article. It's excellent.

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Manitoba to Require Kids to Stay in School Until Voting Age

The Manitoba government will raise the age for truancy to 18, the age at which a person is eligible to vote in that province (and everywhere else in Canada?).
Students only will be allowed to leave earlier if they earn their high-school diploma or join a workforce training program.
How about instead lowering the voting age to 16? Unless voting age isn't the issue but something else is behind this legislation, despite government hype.

I don't know why the voting age shouldn't be 16 for federal elections. The change should have been implemented long ago.

Oh, wait. There is a reason. Young people generally tend toward more socially progressive parties.

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Gracious Thanks Extended

Recently, friend Ocean's monetary income was enriched, as she had applied and has received, Canada Pension Plan benefits and the Supplement for Elderly Renters. Her quality of living soared.

For those of us living in financial poverty, it is a real relief when our fortunes improve. It also gives us the opportunity to say thank you to all who support us along the way. Ocean has done this in the form of a letter to the editor of one of our local papers. Here it is, in full.

Generosity makes this best place to live
Chrystal Ocean, The Citizen
Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I am a woman who lives daily with debilitating chronic pain, the result of the wear and tear of everyday life on a childhood injury.

Having turned 60 this summer, now I qualify for two important government programs. Now my annual income has gone from $7,200 (all my tiny savings could manage) to $10,000.

Now I receive a small monthly payment from the Canada Pension Plan, a contribution to my income I earned from a lifetime of work.

Now I am getting monthly help with my rent in the form of the Supplementary Aid for Elderly Renters, a provincial program. I am immensely grateful for S.A.F.E.R. It goes beyond description the degree to which this help has lessened my daily stress.

But it's the local resources and the people of this Valley I most want to thank.

Keeping one's head up when economically challenged can be difficult in a society that treats the dollar as god; and it can be difficult at times accepting kindness because it reminds you of how far you've fallen.

It's also a constant challenge accepting your own limits.

Without the kindness of people of this Valley, the quality of my life and the lives of so many others would be far worse. Many of us would be dead.

Beginning late last year, I began visiting the food bank every few weeks to get bread. Never anything else. Just bread. Prior to such visits, I'd stopped eating bread altogether. The price of the ingredients to make my own bread and the prices of loaves sold in stores were prohibitive. Bread didn't seem as essential as fruit or vegetables.

In the early days, my visits to the food bank were hit and run. I'd skulk in through the back door, avoiding eye contact, grab some bread and skulk back out. I was embarrassed to have to use this resource.

Now I don't skulk. Now I might stop to have a coffee, perhaps something to eat if a colourful salad catches my eye, and even a chat.

To the many people of this Valley who contribute bread and other foodstuffs to the food bank: thank you.

To the people who maintain the food bank, including Dave the cook (other cooks' names I don't know), and the driving force behind it, Betty Anne Devitt: thank you.

To the local grocers, to stores selling general merchandise including food, to independent bakeries and to home bakers, and to the many others who contribute to the food bank: thank you.

To Karyne Bailey, the woman behind Cowichan Valley Recycle ReUseIt, a wonderful online resource through which people of this Valley -- 1,151 members and climbing -- can obtain and give away stuff for free: thank you.

At the heart of CVRReUseit is recycling. Countless times I've received items I'd been going without, including basic kitchen equipment and bedding; and I've been able to give away items to people who needed or wanted them.

To Jenny, who brings me free eggs every couple of weeks: thank you.

To Daisy Anderson, who takes me along on grocery trips and changes my hard-to-reach light bulbs: thank you.

To Daphne Moldowin, who knows what it's like to live this way and helps me refocus when I'm down: thank you.

To the people who together make the Cowichan Valley one of the best places on earth to live -- for all of us: thank you.

Chrystal Ocean,

While I was reading it, I was thinking about the many other people out there who use the services provided that give a helping hand. Ocean's letter brings alive a real person to the nameless others who also use these services. Her letter shows an intelligence not often associated with the 'needy'. Ocean's letter indicates to me that she is graciously grateful.

Well done.

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17 November 2010

Call for Mass Protests

We need mass protests again, country-wide, as was done when King Harper prorogued Parliament.

When the people's representatives in Parliament, elected by the majority of Canadians, can have their collective votes in the House of Commons denied by an appointed Senate, something has gone seriously wrong with our democracy. Yet that is what happened when today the Senate killed the climate bill that the majority of the House of Commons had passed.

Therefore, mass protests it is.

Given that Canada is now a police state - you've only to witness the G20 testimony including video -, do be careful. But don't let State intimidation, via our 'security' forces, stop you.

For the rest of Canadians who seemingly don't give a damn, what is it going to take for you to wake the hell up?! YOUR RIGHTS are being trampled.

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15 November 2010

Media Annoyance

To the editors of the CBC, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, etc., etc., etc....

That so-and-so plans to announce something isn't news.

When so-and-so DOES whatever he/she/it plans, then it's news, provided that so-and-so and the deed in question are themselves news.

Got it?

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Un(der)reported by BC Media: BC Liberal leadership cap

The BC Liberal executive decided on Saturday the dates for their next biennial convention (May 13-14) and the ratification of their new voting system (Feb 12). The latter will be applied to the yet-to-be-announced leadership race.

Not announced in the BC Liberal news release and so ignored by BC's lazy media monopolies, which prefer to regurgitate what is handed to them, is this nugget:

Two changes that don't require ratification have already been made. Public Eye has learned the spending cap for leadership candidates has been increased to $450,000 from $75,000. And the executive is requiring those candidates pay a $25,000 entrance fee.

Only the well-connected to the well-heeled, therefore, stand a chance of becoming leader. This is despite

a preferential ballot system which would give every riding the same weight in voting.

The change would abandon a system Mr. Campbell put in place, when he won the leadership 17 years ago by packing the convention with Vancouver supporters, and create a more even playing field for candidates from rural ridings.

The fix is in, folks. The change to the voting system supposedly intended to give BC Liberal leadership contenders in rural ridings an equal shot is effectively made null by the leadership spending cap of $450,000.

Most rural ridings I know haven't the population to fund big campaigns.

Seems to me the BC 'Liberal' Party is at it again, this time with its own people. It's give on the one hand, take with the other.

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13 November 2010

Ten Percent of Riding Associations and Growing

... is not "a few folks," Ms. James.

That's what Carole James intimated in a recent radio interview:

"There are always people who are going to be complainers, ... a few folks calling for change."

When her interviewer asks about a momentum of riding associations calling for an "outright leadership convention" in the Spring, James discounts it, says she's "not concerned at all."

James should be concerned.

Ten percent of NDP riding associations have passed resolutions calling for NDP MLA Bob Simpson to be returned to caucus.

  • Powell River-Sunshine Coast
  • West Kootenay-Boundary
  • Nanaimo-North Cowichan
  • Penticton
  • Fraser-Nicola
  • Cariboo North
  • Kamloops-North Thompson
  • Kamloops-South Thompson

Other riding associations, including some of the same ones, are calling for a leadership convention in early 2011 (not just a 'review' which allows the fix to be in), if not for James' outright resignation

Each day, more riding associations announce similar resolutions. There IS momentum calling for a leadership convention.

Yet James is ready to discount these resolutions, these ridings, regardless of how many.


Because she expects "support from the provincial council."

That rather sums up the problem, doesn't it?

James may be a fine person (I don't know, having never met her), but she is not a leader. She failed to defeat GORDON CAMPBELL over two elections, for science sake!

Yet the inner circle props up this inept puppet, no matter what "a few folks," a growing number of members outside the inner circle, may demand.

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12 November 2010

Delusional Carole James

Typical of a politician.

Carole James keeps repeating the same talking points in this radio interview, regardless of the question raised by the interviewer.

She's both delusional and disrespectful of the mounting criticism and call for her resignation, much of it coming from within her own party.

And James shouldn't be ignoring the mounting criticism from outside the party either. It's ALL the voters of this province, after all, whose support she would be seeking in the next election.

If you haven't signed this petition for a leadership convention and vote, what are you waiting for?

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When Physicians Think They're Gods

What a horrible story! What a terrible ordeal this poor woman has gone through!

Ms DeWaegeneire said in evidence the doctor told her of his intention when she was helpless, about to pass-out from anaesthesia on the operating table.

"His face came close to mine and for my ears only he said 'I'm going to take your clitoris too' with which I slid under the anaesthetic," Ms DeWaegeneire said.

Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC asked: "Did you have the opportunity to respond?"

"I was gone," Ms DeWaegeneire replied.

Defence attorney's response:

the comments allegedly made before surgery were not correct and ... evidence ... show[s] none of the other four people in the small theatre heard those words.

Of course not. Did you not get that Dr. Neanderthal whispered his intent for the patient's ears only?

There is NO defence for this.

The best verdict for this man is to cut off his balls.

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BC NDP Leadership Convention & Vote - Petition

A local Cowichan Valley man, Richard Hughes, has just begun a petition demanding there be a BC NDP leadership convention and one-member-one-vote in the Spring 2011.

Good on him!

No matter how much you may like Carole James, you cannot deny that she has missed two opportunities to defeat Gordon Campbell, in 2005 and then again in 2009. Despite he and his government having LIED to the people of this province about BC Rail. Despite all cuts to programs and services. Despite so many errors, despite so much artifice.

Now the man James loved to target is, or soon will be, gone.

If James couldn't defeat GORDON CAMPBELL, how can she defeat a reinvigorated, rebranded BC Liberal Party under a new leader? 

Not only should James step down as leader of the BC NDP, but as suggested by a signatory to Hughes' petition, James' backroom supporters should be questioned or ousted too. 

Let the NDP start anew.

Along with the BC Liberals - and the Greens - PLEASE, give the voters of this province decent viable options when next we visit the polls.

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09 November 2010

How very strange

... for the BC government now to permit public servants to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media, but still not permit them to use email to communicate with members of the public seeking their help.

I have written extensively about the problems for people of low income who must choose between having phone service - landline and cell - and having access to the Internet. For such households, the choice is almost always Internet, given it delivers more bang for the buck. With an Internet-connected computer, headphones and a service like Skype, one can still make outgoing calls to other computers and to phones.

Alas, in Canada - but not in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Mexico ... and just about every other advanced country in the world - you still cannot obtain an online number. If you had an online number, then people with a phone could call you at your computer. But without benefit of a phone OR an online number, people wanting to call you by phone - and in the case of the BC government, having to call you by phone, since that's the only way public servants are permitted to communicate with you - you cannot be reached.

The only option for someone without a phone but with an Internet-enabled computer is email. And the BC government won't permit public servants to use email to communicate with clients, consumers, or whatever the hell we want to call those seeking service or information from the government.

The BC government has even cut off the ability of public servants to use email in special cases, or so I was told when I was trying to communicate with the people at SAFER. Had the public servant processing my application required clarification, he/she would have had to use snail mail, thus delaying my application's approval by at least two weeks. The ability to send emails, other than in-house, was disabled.

It's so damn frustrating. A simple fix by the CRTC, that it lift its silly 911 restriction, so that VOIP providers could issue online numbers with Canadian area codes, would make the problem go away in an instant. And this fix, in aid of greater access for low income households, wouldn't cost the government a damn thing.

I've SkypeOUT. I'd have SkypeIN if it was permitted in Canada. But with SkypeOUT I have listed in my contacts all the emergency numbers one might need. So what if 911 isn't accessible?!

Lift the damn restriction, CRTC! It's obvious the only reason you have it there is to protect Canada's big telecommunications companies.

[Cross-posted at economicus ridiculous]

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Heads-Up Feminists!

Please read Sabina's latest post. She has a cyberstalker.

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06 November 2010

Draft Watts Campaigns Starts Up for BC Liberal Leadership

Popular Surrey mayor Diane Watts may have trouble turning down a run for the BC Liberal leadership. Not only does she rank first in all polls so far that have asked British Columbians who they favour, but now a Draft Watts campaign has begun.

Should Watts run and then win the Liberal leadership and therefore the premiership, she'll be a hard contestant to beat in 2013. A Carole James-led NDP as her major competition would generate less respect than laughter.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with laughter. Politicians - not to mention the rest of us - take themselves too seriously. It would be good for everyone if we could all relax a bit, even with respect to the serious business of politics.

However, the type of laughter James' NDP would trigger in 2013 against a reinvigorated, rebranded Watts-led Liberal party would have more the tone of derision than chortle. Which is why I and, it appears, many other BC bloggers, have been imploring for years that James follow Campbell's lead. James & Co. seem unable to differentiate good policy or good strategy from bad; a lack they share, incidentally, with the federal Liberals under Michael Ignatieff.

James should resign and through her resignation, encourage the NDP to do major additional housecleaning and some rebranding of its own.

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No Barking in Dog Park

What an absurd tale!

Cobble Hill Director and CVRD [Cowichan Valley Regional District] Chair Gerry Giles summonsed dog owners to a meeting in Cobble Hill recently.

The get together was held to scold those who allowed their dogs to bark while visiting the Cobble Hill Village Dog Park.

Ms Giles was supported by her Alternate Director John Krug and CVRD Parks Manager Brian Farquar, and South Cowichan Parks Chair guy, Ian somebody.

This is a very serious matter. The assembled were instructed to sign in; name, address and so on and so forth.

The Cobble Hill Director and Board Chair meant business. After all she had personally installed anti-barking signs and that should have been sufficent, but the dogs apparently were not buying into it for a minute.

Read the whole thing. It gets worse.

What the hell do people expect when they create a dog park? I am sick of the pettiness, in-fighting and inefficiency of the CVRD. It's long past time we got rid of the damn thing and the municipalities of the Cowichan Valley formed into one.

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05 November 2010

On Obesity and Poverty

A new study done in the US predicts that obesity rates there will peak at 42 percent, not the 34 percent previously predicted.

My immediate reaction: a shrug of the shoulders.

If you live in the poverty well, you know more than most of the 'experts' about the chief cause of certain illnesses. You know more than the health professionals, political advisers or policy makers. To whit, you know that obesity rates will peak at 42 percent in the US because more USians are poor.

With poverty comes poor nutrition and a helluva lot of bad carbs.

Consider the dilemma for parents whose household incomes have their families living in the bargain basement. It's 1) feed your children nutritionally, but exceedingly sparingly, and then ignore your children's cries due to the pains in their bellies from starvation; or 2) feed your children pasta, bread, rice, cookies, donuts, snack food, etc. to fill their bellies and stave off their hunger; the result of which, of course, is malnourishment. And don't forget to feed yourself, although not the good stuff.

Should be obvious, eh? So why don't governments do something about it? Especially governments in countries with a universal healthcare system?

It costs not just lives but MONEY to keep people in poverty, folks!

Far better for the federal government in cooperation with the provinces to implement a guaranteed income for all (GAIA). Far better for municipalities to ensure a robust local food infrastructure and to have inclusive property laws to allow truly affordable housing. Far better these than to pay the enormous financial cost of serving a large swath of the population whose poor health due to poverty drains the healthcare system of crucial resources.

[Cross-posted at economicus ridiculous]

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Carole James Should Follow Campbell's Last Act

Remember back, oh, about a month ago, when leader of the BC NDP Carole James ousted 'rebel' MLA Bob Simpson?

Simpson had dared mild criticism of her speech to the Union of BC Municipalities. Now Simpson is an Independent MLA.

Still a loyal member of the NDP, his new status has not stopped Simpson from saying that, just as Gordon Campbell's resignation could/should lead to a change in direction or a rebranding of the BC Liberal Party, so should rebranding be on the minds of his party's membership.

I don't hold out much hope for it, though, not when I read things like this:

"James has said Simpson can return to the NDP caucus if he apologizes for the critical remarks he made about her leadership."

Here are the 'critical remarks' in question:

The Leader of the Opposition likewise had little concrete to offer the delegates other than a commitment to be more consultative than the current government and a promise to explore the possibility of revenue sharing with local governments. This is a timely concept which has the potential to address the resource needs of local governments, but the lack of specifics was a disappointment to delegates.

As Simpson observed today:

The party's message under James up to now has simply been, "we won't be Gordon Campbell... There is a lot of 'we wont's.... [New Democrats] have to sit back and think about what they need to do to tell British Columbians what they would be like in government and actually win a mandate to govern this province in 2013."

See the comments to that article. A whole lot of people agree with Simpson.

The NDP, in other words, must formulate policy - good policy - and let the rest of us know what it is.

British Columbians will not elect a fence post with hair. It is no more beneficial to this province to have a Gord Campbell government than one headed by someone who has demonstrated, over the seven years of her 'leadership' that she can't lead, can't take criticism, can't give substantive speeches, is clueless about smart political strategy and what British Columbians care about, and does nothing but whine.

The people of this province need and desperately want decent, viable political options. Minimally, we need a Liberal party that functions democratically and sits at its traditional centre. We need a New Democrat party that functions democratically and represents the perspectives of the left (not just the left perspectives of unionized labour). We need a small 'c' conservative party that functions democratically and represents the perspectives of the right. And we need one or more parties that function democratically, don't fit neatly into the left-right paradigm - e.g., the BC Green Party - and represent major interests.

With a minimum of four decent options and an emphasis on government, not just parties, that must function democratically, British Columbians need proportional representation.

Meanwhile, what we need most urgently is the resignation of Carole James and elbow grease applied to the internal machinery of the NDP. The party clearly needs a major spring cleaning.

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03 November 2010

Will Campbell Resignation Mean Restoration of Democratic Process?

British Columbians' loathing for Gordon Campbell was not due primarily to the various policies he implemented, such as the carbon tax, the HST, the latest-announced 15 percent income tax cut, the cuts to public services and programs, the sale of BC Rail, etc., etc., etc. The chief cause of people's loathing was Campbell's circumvention of democratic process.

It was his lying to the electorate. It was his doing after elections what he intimated during elections he would not do. The sale of BC Rail and the introduction of the HST come most immediately to mind.

While I've written in favour of BC's HST, its carbon tax and further reductions to income tax (with concomitant increases in consumption taxes), I can't support a government that stomps all over the rights of its citizens to have their votes properly represented.

Of course, such rights also require electoral reform. But even with our present system, surely British Columbians can reasonably expect not to be lied to.

Otherwise, what's the point in voting? What's the point in supporting a party or a candidate if you can't be sure they'll keep their word? Or minimally, that they will exercise due democratic process either to change the minds of voters' representatives or the minds of the voters themselves?

I can live with policy I disagree with. I won't live with a government, premier, party or party leader who tramples over the democratic rights of myself and my fellow citizens.

Gordon Campbell did the right thing by resigning. He should have done it long ago. So should Colin Hansen. And so should the NDP's Carole James.

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