Some things just need to be said...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pat Robertson has a history

Pat Robertson says America should kill another leader ...

See Rob Cottingham's article, You can’t televangelist anything ...

"Just once, I’d love to hear a deafening chorus of voices from mainstream christianity say—with full-page ads, speaking tours and mass rallies—“That guy doesn’t speak for us. Not just during these occasional brain farts, but the whole protect-the-powerful, blame-the-poor, whack-the-women, scapegoat-the-gays agenda that Robertson and his ilk are promoting. And memo to the media: please stop reporting that this handful of bitter, hateful control freaks is any kind of representation of the bulk of Christianity, because they aren’t.”

Pat Robertson is nothing more than a political opportunist. On April 17, 2001 speaking to CNN on China's abortion policy (Robertson is supposed to be opposed to abortion, but again the Christian rightgoes with "the end seems to justify the means"...

"Well, you know, I don't agree with it. But at the same time, they've got 1.2 billion people, and they don't know what to do. If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable. ... So, I think that right now they're doing what they have to do. I don't agree with the forced abortion, but I don't think the United States needs to interfere with what they're doing internally in this regard." CNN Transcript

It is amazing these people can sleep at night.

For more information on social conservatives, Stephen Harper, gay rights, same-sex or equal marriage, James Dobson, evangelicals, Focus on the Family, Bishop Henry, The Pope, use the Technorati search box in the side bar here and at Queer Thoughts.

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Okanagan Fire threatens homes

Fire in the Valley

The Okanagan has another fire, this one across Okanagan Lake from Kelowna near Rose Valley. Some 600 to 700 people have been evacuated from their homes. The RCMP report this morning that the fire is over 50 ha in size and has not damaged any homes to date.

Thise evacuated have not been allowed to return. Here is a link to Castnet Video of the fire at Rose Valley Fire.

I am in Calgary until Monday so I point you too Castanet for updates.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Summer dull-drums

Thanks all for your comments on the post below, I am now off to Calgary as I mentioned on the Dazzlin Dino site, as part of the NDP advance guard. (I am just saying that just to throw off my Tory and Liberal friends as the guard has been there for awhile now)

My trusty new puppy Tigger (5 months old) will actually remain in BC looking after the NDP safehouse in Kelowna!

Regular blogging will occur here after my return from Texas north sometime Wednesday.

So much happening these days, BC teachers will take a strike vote, the Telus lockout is ongoing, the Prime Minister and the Liberals do summer camp in Regina (now that the lake has been cleaned up), Dick, Ralph, Mike and Gordo, the unMARX brothers, to do dinner with the Fraser Deinstituization, Doctors have been coming back to Canada since 1994, America uses hardwood to beat our softwood and same-sex christian marriage classes start up in United Alberta.

Harper evades e-coli and media this summer while showing off his figure (who dresses him?) in one of the most boring BBQ trips ever, Ujjal swings through reform country, the Thompson-Okanagan and says little new or old. A Rae of hope shines in Ontario, can Tommy Douglas be far behind?

The Toronto Maple Laughs look to be funnier than usual, will announce Dougie Gilmour is coming out of retirement to play with Keon and Senator Mahovlich. Aruba courts say government must acknowledge a dutch made lesbian marriage, the movie Cocktail theme song always was a fav of mine or was that just Tom. Heck if Ralph can do it so can Aruba.

Canada's most popular and quotable Mayor enters the red chamber, I guess if you have one, may as well have a straight (no pun intended though Larry has been on the cover of XtraWest a time or two) talking guys there like Larry, I will be watching the Senate these days, its about to wake up.

It has been a strange summer, the fall (of the Liberal government) will be no miss Cue as we are all snookered into an election with Gomery waiting in the shadows, Harper stumbling over the smell of Tory policy in Ontario and Layton hanging on.

My BC Bud tea leaves say another Liberal minority (Just kidding about the bud, can't get any seeds since the US MARCed us). You don't think my tea could affect my prediction do you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Phelps and his lawyerly clan are "gay plants"

Go away for a few days and all hell breaks out! The Christian right has taken another swing at gay people with sidewinder attack on Fred Phelps...
"Politically and culturally speaking, Phelps and his protesters serve as a crude caricature of pro-family traditionalists who oppose the normalization of homosexuality. Fred makes an easy target for the media and secularists who are tempted (partly by their own prejudices) to paint any opposition to "gay rights" as ful. For this reason, I have sometimes wondered if Phelps and his lawyerly clan are "gay plants." Peter LaBarbera, Executive Director of the Illinois Family Institute

Peter LaBarbera made a statement on August 15, 2005 suggesting that Phelps could be a gay plant, put out there to make the Christian Right look down right mean. Mr LaBarbera does go onto to take on Phelps and backs away somewhat from his suggestion, however he has made it and for only one purpose, to build up the idea that the gays are will stop to any low in order to discredit the anti gay "christian family values" agenda.

LaBarbera adds, “By denying change for people caught up in homosexuality, Phelps denies the love and power of Jesus Christ Himself--a cruel message that is as ‘hateful’ toward homosexuals as any of his preposterous signs.”

Christian Activists like LaBarbera depend on concerted attacks on an easily defined enemy in order to sustain energy among the money providing masses. Without the demonization of gays, these groups would lose serious amounts of funding. Funding that keeps the wheels spinning on the world's largest ongoing recruitment effort, not to mention keeping an entire industry operating.

Canadians have been spared this for years now see it is changing. Evangelical conservative christian activists are increasingly influenced by American successes and are well positioned to take advantage due to the seeds planted in Canada over 20 years ago.

These people have decided they can impose the bibles dictates on society, that we are all better off if it were so. I of course am one of those skeptical of the ideas being put forward by this small but increasingly effective lobby group.

With American money pouring into Canada and gays as the demon facing all that is wrong with Canada, expect harsher and more American style politics in this country. Also watch for the the stealth candidate. Many people will seek office without expressing their agenda. It worked in the United States and it may well work here. We have already seen Cindy Silver, former in-house lawyer for Focus on the Family(Canada) and Real Women, try to distance herself from her record there. Silver has stated that she doesn't subscribe to everything she argued in court.

Ask her if she argued against gay rights, school materials that reflect gay families and if she agreed with those points. I suspect she will respond that she does not support these gay rights or school materials depicting gay families.

Check out the Christian right folks, see what they have to say these days. Ask your candidates where they stand. In a recent survey 50% of conservative candidates for the next election stated they held evangelical beliefs. Sweep that under the rug Stephen Harper.

See also: Christian Activism in Canadian Politics at Political Cycles

For more information on social conservatives, Stephen Harper, gay rights, same-sex or equal marriage, James Dobson, evangelicals, Focus on the Family, Bishop Henry, The Pope, use the Technorati search box in the side bar here and at Queer Thoughts.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Blogging off for a couple

I am off to the Cariboo this weekend to see what I can see. Lots happening with the mountain pine beetle, the gateway to the North highway projects, expanded gaming and deals with first nations, not to mention the issues around the Kith and Kin arrangements that has made so much news of late.

If the government changes something, it affects someone in the Cariboo. It is a unique area, one that is independent in many aspects. I will check in with the new MLA's for the area, Charlie Wyse and Bob Simpson.

Recently Wyse wrote the Premier over the government's plan to move childrens mental health programs to the Ministry of Health, a clear rejection of the Gove report recomendations of 10 years ago. The government relented and the services for children's mental health will remain in Children and Families. Good work Charlie.

Simpson has been all over the government's poor planning over mountain pine beetle. The Liberals created a government caucus committee that spent two years looking at what to do. The result appears to be a vague 10 year plan. Simpson will be pushing for more definitive planning.

I am also hopeful I will run into Walt Cobb the former Liberal MLA and find out what he is up too these days. With any luck David Zirnhelt, the former Minister of Forests and three term MLA for Cariboo and Cariboo South, will be in town as well or a short trip out to Beaver Valley may be in order, the place that David has his ranch and woodlot.

Current city councillor Scott Nelson or Scotty to many of us is setting himself up to run for mayor. Scotty is an out and out Liberal, having won the nomination in 2000 to run as the Liberal candidate in the 2001 election. He resigned the nomination due to health and personal reasons and Walt Cobb won the battle to replace him.

Ivan Bonnell, former Mayor and councillor may also be seeking the mayor's chair in Williams Lake. He is pretty pragmatic but people see him as too left, nothing could be further from the truth, Ivan is a straight shooter, left of centre and was instrumental in encouraging Charlie Wyse to run for the NDP nomination in the last provincial election. People in Williams Lake would do well to elect Ivan if he runs.

I will also check in on local redneck with a heart, Ernie Engemoen, editor of the Advertiser. Does any editor work harder than Ernie, I doubt it. Ernie has a gift to for putting words together and should be writing for someone with a larger readership. I suspect he would generate a great deal of interest and reaction. He and Cheryl seem to like their world as it is. Likely why he so interesting. It's my hope I can get some of his insights online here in the future for more of you to enjoy.

I may not post here until Wednesday next week. Check out past articles here, federal or provincial. It is easy, type a word or two in the technorati search box in the sidebar and if I have anything on my blog it will find it.

Hint: If you type Stephen Harper, BC Liberals, Gordon Campbell, Lorne Mayencourt, Mary Polak, Christian (anything), I suspect you will get pages of stuff!

Photo's from my last trip to the Cariboo. The top is Williams Lake as seen from the Stampede grounds. The second is my step-daughter Stephanie in the wheel chair set at the entrance to the lake city. The final picture is road work near Lac la Hache, with longest mainstreet in BC!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

PEP fails Twice in Emergencies

The Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) has come under fire for failure to notify the public and the media of two recent emergency situations. A toxic spill in the Cheakamus River and an evacuation alert issued for 54 families near Oliver due to a major wildfire.

The first case being the CN Rail derailment and subsequent toxic spill into the Cheakamus River near Squamish. Over 40,000 litres of sodium hydroxide was spilled when nine CN cars fell into the river. The cause of the derailment isn't known yet.
Sodium Hydroxide is a caustic agent with a very high pH level. If you come into contact with a material with this pH level, you could suffer serious burns. Ingesting the chemical or breathing in the vapours is also harmful.

It took several hours to inform the public of the spill and to warn them to stay away from the river. Fish and other marine life were killed in the spill. Anyone drinking, washing or wading in the river could have been exposed to a serious health risk.

In a case later in the week, PEP failed to tell the media that there was an Evacution Alert issued for families living east of Oliver and west of the McKinney Road Fire. The fire is within 4.5 km of Oliver. The media found out almost 90 minutes after the alert was issued. Some residents said they had no idea that an alert was issued, saying they were tuned into local radio for information, expecting that if an alert was ordered the media would be advised.

Questions with respect to PEP are just the beginning. Serious questions are being asked about the CN derailment into the Cheakamus River. The railroad was BC Rail, owned by the Government of BC, Canada's third largest rail line. The BC Liberals sold BC Rail in a controversial deal to CN Rail. The public have not been privy to much information on the deal.

Dangerous chemicals like sodium hydroxide are to be hauled close to the locomotive rather than at the end or middle of the train. In this case it is not clear if the car carrying the sodium hydroxide was in fact in the right place to provide a higher degree of safety. Cars near the locomotive are considered more stable and less likely to derail.

Chudnovsky has written Liberal Transportation minister, Kevin Falcon asking whether CN is operating under different safety, maintenance, environmental and inspection standards. He also wanted to know whether CN is running longer, heavier trains on BC Rail tracks.

PEP needs some pep.

see these links on BC Rail ...

Answers needed from Government on BC Rail Sale
CN Chair gives Campbell Liberals $60,000
BC Legislature Raid - Clark, Collins and Reid...
BC Rail sale - taxpayer rip off #52

Tags: , , , , , Victoria, , , , , ,

Friday, August 12, 2005

Ministry office lost five of seven social workers - "Charlie"

Commenting on the Sherry Charlie's case this morning on CKNW Stan Hagen, Minister of Children and Families stated initially the Ministry Social Workers did not send the criminal record information they had on Ryan Dexter George (the person Sherry Charlie was placed with), to the Aboriginal Social Workers. It was not clear if this was resolved before the child was actually placed in the home of her relative. This information was not previously known from the report released by Jane Morley.

Further complicating the Sherry Charlie case is news that the Ministry office charged with her care was reduced from seven social workers to two without a corresponding caseload reduction. It is no surprise that given the magnitude of the work load and the seriousness of the decisions left to these people that the numbers of Ministry staff being placed on stress leave by their doctors is no surprise.

The Minister says that 47 aboriginal children are currently in placements under Kith and Kin program.

More on Sherry Charlie and the cutbacks to the Ministry of Children and Families below...

Portion of report released July 22, 2005 by the Ministry of Children and Family Development
Final report released August 4, 2005

More reading here...

BC Liberals ignored secret report into Child's death
A child is dead, and three years later big questions remain
Too little information on the way we treat kids in care
More answers in the sad case of Sherry Charlie

Tags: , Victoria, , , , , , Family,

Wildfire near Oliver BC

August 13, 2005 Update 8:05 pm

The evacuation alert has been removed for people in the Oliver area. The fire has not grown and ground crews have made good progress with the assistance of helicopters dropping fire retardant on hot spots.

With cooler weather progress should continue.

August 12, 2005 Update 5:pm

NDP critic Bob Simpson says to complaints by the media that they were left out of the loop for 90 minutes Wednesday when an evacuation alert was issued for 54 homes near Oliver was a clear breach of the Filmon recomendations.

Simpson said it was essential that evacuation orders go out early and everyone is notified, including the media.

The Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre insists the public was notified immediately after an evacuation alert was signed by officials in the Oliver area. This is clearly wrong as the Diane Shepard did not hear about the evacuation alert until almost two hours after it was issued. She and her neighbours were listening to local radio for news in the event an evacuation order or alert was issued.

The Map to the right shows the fire boundary in red and the city of Oliver in green. You can see a larger copy on the BC Forest Service webpage here.

PEP did not tell Media about Alert!

Some people did not know of the evacuation alert near Oliver for two hours after it was issued. The Provincial Emergency Program refused to tell the media of the alert. One woman Diane Shepard told CBC radio this morning that she did not learn of the alert until almost 5pm when someone came to her door. The alert was issued at 3pm.

PEP had not advised local media that an alert had been issued. Shepard was not happy with this, saying she had been listening to local radio in the event an alert was issued. She went on to say that she was concerned about the fire and was expecting some kind of alert to issued. Its not good enough Shepard said.

The 2003 fire season in the Okanagan indicated that the use of local media outlets in getting important information out to people was the most effective way to do so. At this time we do not know why the PEP refused to provide the information to the media.

Lets hope the evacution order if it does come, is not held back!

The Oliver fire is now over 500ha in size. The fire is still not contained, though most of the spread has been to the east and north, away from Oliver and the homes under evaucation alert

See Castanet's update here. Politics in BC beat them by two hours with this information.


Update: August 10

The two top pictures were taken this evening. You can see the smoke is blowing to the east and is low over the landscape of the fire. The wind is still blowing but at least it is blowing away from the
community of Oliver at this time.

The fire is still burning well. These two pictures were taken about 9pm this evening.

The forest service has 51 firefighters,
10 helicopters, 5 pieces of heavy equipment and 8 airtankers working this fire. Early this evening some of the airtankers were diverted to take on a 6 ha fire near OK Falls near Skaha Lake. That action helped keep the fire down while ground and helicopter action went to work. The fire is now fully contained and crews are mopping up.

March 10, Oliver Fire...

The fire just east of Oliver has taken a turn for the worse. Evacuation alerts have been issued.

Both the
Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District and the Osoyoos Indian Band have issued evacuation alerts for residents in the following area near Oliver South boundary: Inkaneep Creek East boundary: easterly boundary of District Lot 1048 North boundary: 10.5 km east of McAlpine Bridge West boundary: 1.7 km east of Town of Oliver and Osoyoos Indian Band boundary The evacuation alert covers approximately 13 homes on the Osoyoos Indian Band reserve and approximately 41 homes in the local residential sub-division of Shrike Hill and the McCuddy Creek Ranch area.

The McKinney Road Fire is located on the Nk'Mip First Nations land (Osoyoos Indian Reserve) east of Oliver approximately 4.5 km east on the north side of McKinney Road. As of this morning, the fire has covered 400 hectares (1,000 acres) in size.

There are three key stages in the evacuation process:

1. Evacuations Alert: A warning is issued about an imminent threat to life and property and people in the defined area should be ready to leave on short notice.
2. Evacuation Order: When an evacuation order is issued, people should leave the area immediately.
3. Evacuation Rescind: People under an evacuation order may return. An evacuation order or alert may be reinstated if a threat returns.

The new evacuation order comes with afternoon winds picking up. The fire continues to grow and the evacuation is signs that it has potential threaten nearby communities. As always the evacuation Alert is provided to allow people as much possible notice of a need to evacuate. If you have things of value, now is the time to have them packed and in the car.

There is a reception centre now open in the Oliver Community Hall. Residents in the affected area can obtain further information through this web site or through an information line established in the Oliver Emergency Operations Centre. The phone number is (250) 498-6528.

Link to map of evacuation order here

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Photo Credits: Carol Barnes
Used with permission

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bounty Hunter for America?

Canada, busy playing bounty hunter for the American drug war enforcers has approved for use in treatment of multiple sclerosis a new drug, Sativex which was developed by Bayer. The drug is made from extracting the active ingredients in Marijuana or cannabis as they like to use in clinical settings.

Health Canada has approved its use and prescriptions can be written by any Physician in Canada. The drug assists in controlling pain experienced by those with MS more effectively than any other known pain reliever available. The drug remains illegal in the United States.
Approval of SATIVEX® with Conditions Fact Sheet
What is

SATIVEX® is a cannabis based medicine containing Tetranabinex® and Nabidiolex® extracts of chemically and genetic characterized Cannabis sativa L. plants. The principal active components are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Health Canada has approved SATIVEX® with conditions, under the Notice of Compliance with Conditions (NOC/c) policy. This authorisation reflects the promising nature of the clinical evidence which must be confirmed with further studies. Products approved under Health Canada's NOC/c policy, have demonstrated promising benefit, are of high quality and possess an acceptable safety profile based on a benefit/risk assessment for the approved use.

What is SATIVEX® used for?
SATIVEX® is used for the adjunctive treatment for the symptomatic relief of neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis in adults.

The Globe and Mail on May 12, 2004 announced that Health Canada was looking at approving the drug Sativex. The process normally takes 18 months. The Drug was approved for use in Canada in April of 2005 in less than 7 months. Sativex is not smoked or eaten but sprayed under the tongue.

Dr Geoffrey Guy, CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals told the media in April, " We are delighted that Sativex has received regulatory approval in Canada. This event marks the world's first approval of cannabis derived medicine."

Americans will not be able to purchase Sativex in Canada and bring it into the U.S because marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law, doing so would be a felony. Indeed, importing less than 50 kilograms of marijuana,even a small amount of marijuana for medical use is punishable by up to five years in federal prison.

The United States government allows seven patients to use marijuana as a medicine, through a program closed to new applicants. The laws treat all other patients currently using medical marijuana as criminals. The irony is physicians are presently allowed to prescribe cocaine and morphine, but not marijuana.

Many patients and physicians find marijuana to be a useful medicine as part of the treatment for AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments. In Canada use for medical reasons is widely accepted and condoned. Many people access their marijuana from compassion clubs located around the country.

The issue here is where do the police and government think these people at Compassion clubs get their product. Currently to maintain quality they use growers. Yet these growers from time to time are raided by police. Certainly legalization would go a long way to addressing this problem.

Rumours abound that those given the authority to grow their own supply have been told to call Marc Emery's seed business. That will course be difficult to establish as people run for cover in the face of all the attention being brought Canada's stalling legalization.

No one expects to go to jail in Canada for have a couple of joints. Even some plants for your own use won't likely get you hauled out of your home.

We have allowed Marc Emery to operate for years. We have allowed compassion clubs to operate and now we have allowed "legal" Marijuana made by Bayer.

What are we waiting for? Are we going to allow Canadians to be sent to a US prison for something we know would never happen here? What kind of Government do we have?

Tags: , Drugs, Politics, News, Current Affairs, Culture, Weed, POT, Hemp, , USA, ,

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What is an "American" Progressive?

A new site in the United States for youthful progressives...

Campus Progress

Recent and interesting article on What is a Progressive by By Andrew Garib, Campus Progress.

"...Progressivism, like many important concepts, is many things to many people. Nevertheless, it has its own history, its own culture, and its own politics – all wrapped into a potent package that is making its comeback in the political discourse of this great country. The Campus Progress conference is just the latest manifestation of a political movement that is already changing America’s political landscape for the better..."

"...The first key to understanding progressivism is that it’s not the same as liberalism, as many might assume. “Progressivism is an orientation towards politics,” Halpin said in an interview with Campus Progress. “It’s not a long-standing ideology like liberalism, but an historically-grounded concept … that accepts the world as dynamic.” Progressivism is not an ideology at all, but an attitude towards the world of politics that is far less black-and-white than conservatism or liberalism, breaking free from the false and divisive dichotomy of liberal vs. conservative that has dominated American politics for too long..." - excerpts from What is a Progressive.

You can read the entire article here and register to take part in the online discussion. Some thought provoking ideas and worthy read.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

"We need to challenge the 'too bad we can't afford it'"

G. Campbell: "...The fact is that everyone in this House has to make priorities. Our priorities, on this side of the House, are to care for children in need and to make sure that children in the government's care are protected. Our legislative officer -- the child, youth and family advocate -- has said quite clearly: "We need to challenge the 'too bad we can't afford it' attitude about essential services for children and youth, knowing that if we don't pay now we will pay more dearly later." TUESDAY, MAY 5, 1998, BC Legislative Assembly

Premier Campbell cut the child, youth and family advocate position and the Child Commissioner. $300 million cut from the Ministry of Children and Family Development. 100's of staff laid off.

I agree with the Opposition Leader Campbell, "We need to challenge the 'too bad we can't afford it'"

Sherry Charlie deserved more from us.

Tags: , Victoria, , , , , , Family,

BC Liberals ignored secret report into Child's death

"A Port Alberni man who killed his foster daughter (Sherry Charlie) was allowed to care for her brother for months even after investigators knew the death was suspicious." ~ Irwin Loy, 24 hours, August 5, 2005

The full report on Sherry Charlie's death says social workers responsible for smaller communities like Charlie's suffered from "woefully inadequate" funding. Stan Hagen, Minister of Children and Family Development is denying budget cuts can be linked to the death of Sherry Charlie in 2002. Paul Jenkinson of the BC Association of Social Workers says the underfunding is putting children at risk. "So you have not enough workers, high caseloads, and that's been a chronic complaint," he told CKNW.

Minister Hagen told 24 Hours the tragedy had nothing to do with money.
"That may be the opinion of the person who wrote the report, but we don't have any statistics that back that up."

"The new system for dealing with the most vulnerable children in Canada was implemented by faxing," Dix told 24 hours in an interview. "That's just not good enough."

On Monday, August 8 Minister Stan Hagen was showing the pressure as he lashed out at the media. Hagen said to CKNW that the media is responsible for staff in his Ministry speaking out and feeling frustration, anger and betrayal (of the Ministry) "Since I became the Minister, I've been working at improving the situation. Now, you know the media has to bare some of the responsibility for that."

That's the situation today, the government according to Jane Morley's report into the death of Sherry indicates that the Ministry suffered a great deal due to budget cuts, and as the social workers point out, heavy caseloads and staff cut backs are creating a worsening situation.

The Gove report was supposed to put an end to this kind of tragedy. That report was ordered into the death of Matthew Vaudreuil who died in 1992. He was 5 years old. The Gove report led to a brand new ministry and the Child Commissioner office being established. The BC Liberal government have slashed budgets for over the last four years and eliminated the commissioner's position.

The Straight reported on March 10th, 2005...

"On March 8, B.C.’s former children’s commissioner Cynthia Morton, former B.C. ombudsman Dulcie McCallum, and Joyce Preston, B.C.’s former advocate for children, youth, and families, released a letter they wrote to the premier last June expressing concerns about the lack of public accountability. The premier’s office never responded, even though their letter was hand delivered and requested a meeting."

The big media in BC ignored the story in the lead up to the provincial election and only reported it when the news broke out via the internet and other small media outlets. While the big media was ignoring this story, the BC Liberal government was sitting on the report into Sherry Charlie's death. Minister Hagen had to have known at that time the report's conclusions.

Despite the government's knowledge of the circumstances around Sherry Charlie's death we learned that more cutbacks were coming in the Ministry of Children and Family Development. The Campbell Liberals slashed the budget over 300 million dollars since 2001. On April 27, 2005 we learned the South Vancouver Island district of the ministry this fiscal year (2004/05) had over spent by $1.3 million. The Ministry directed the district to be on budget next year. Senior management are looking at trimming 18 positions. This is on top of 58 position lost in this area since 2002. These cuts would put the safety of the most vulnerable children in BC at increased risk.

The provincial government introduced the Kith and Kin program in 2002 to place aboriginal foster children with aboriginal families. The program did not train people in its application. Agencies were faxed a policy document. The ministry didn't provide aboriginal agencies with any training and simply faxed them a six-page list of draft guidelines in July, 2002. Guidelines were general, and stated that social workers "should" do criminal record checks, instead of saying they "shall" or "must," the report stated.

As most of us know Sherry was killed by Ryan Dexter George, her uncle, on September 4, 2002. Her death came eight weeks after the new Kith and Kin program was implemented and only weeks after being placed in his home. Her uncle was on probation for spousal abuse at the time, no criminal records check was completed prior to her being placed in his care. He has since pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is serving a 10 year sentence.

Despite this chaos the ministry was determined to do more restructuring this year. PublicEye online broke the news that the Ministry was in for another big change, moving mental health services for children to the Ministry of Health. "...there are apparently concerns within the bureaucracy that, with so many other programs to look after, health may not pay enough attention to the child and youth mental health plan - introduced two years ago by then Children and Family Development Minister Gordon Hogg"

The NDP wrote the Premier on June 27, 2005 expressing their concern with the impacts such a change could have on the Ministry and the children it is to look out for. The letter concludes...

"You are in the midst of a massive restructuring of child and youth services in BC. The decision to move mental health services from MCFD to the Ministry of Health will simply cause further uncertainty and disruption without benefit and put children at further risk. We ask you to reverse this decision."

Yours Sincerely,

Adrian Dix MLA, Vancouver-Kingsway
Charlie Wyse MLA, Cariboo South

See the letter at PublicEye Online

And on June 28, the Federation of Child and Family Services of British Columbia wrote the Premier over the announcement to move mental health services for children...

"...Without information, concerns are circulating that your government is in the process of dismantling the Ministry of Child and Family Development. This program transfer is also perceived as an abandonment of the government's commitment to promote the integration of child and youth services in BC and to the legacy of Mathew Vaudreuil..."

"...You have stated that your government would avoid superficial analysis of a problem that only leads to superficial solution. We also know you want to provide the best and most responsive system of support in Canada for children and youth at risk. We only ask that you provide the consultations and rationale that spurred this decision to revert to a multi-ministry model that contributed to the death of Mathew Vaudreuil. The last thing anyone in BC wishes to hear again is: "He died as a direct result of flawed decision making and poor management by ministry executives." (Gove Report)."

Respectfully yours,
Noreen Boudreau, President

See the letter at PublicEye Online

The government reversed their decision later that day, a reversal that likely had something to do with a report they had secrectly sat on for months. A report that indicated in part, Sherry's death was due in part due to government budget cuts, lack of staffing and inadequate training. The government implemented a program by rolling the dice and Sherry Charlie, her brother and family lost.

Portion of report released July 22, 2005 by the Ministry of Children and Family Development
Final report released August 4, 2005

More reading here...

A child is dead, and three years later big questions remain
Too little information on the way we treat kids in care
Children and families failing, says the front line
More answers in the sad case of Sherry Charlie

Tags: , Victoria, , , , , , Family,

Monday, August 08, 2005

Matthew John Vaudreuil - it happened again

On October 3, 1986, Matthew John Vaudreuil was born in the northern British Columbia community of Fort St. John. Five and a half years later, on July 9, 1992, he died in Vancouver.

It happened again... Why did Sherry Charlie die after Gove's compelling report?

November 1995
The Honourable Ujjal Dosanjh
Attorney General
Province of British Columbia
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, British Columbia

Dear Mr. Dosanjh:
I am pleased to enclose my report to you, for delivery to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and to the citizens of the Province of British Columbia. ..

...I then tell Matthew's story, beginning with a description of the family into which he was born. I have included only those facts necessary to tell Matthew's story. Where there is a conflict between witnesses as to what happened, which arose infrequently, I have weighed the evidence and set out the facts as I conclude them to be. I have also named all the people who testified, including some of the professionals who were referred to in the ministry's files.

I raise two cautions. First, I tell the story of Matthew's life from his perspective, as though the services provided to him and his family were for him -- in other words, were child-centred. Regrettably, this was seldom the case. If Matthew's story was told as the evidence unfolded, there would be long passages in which he would not be mentioned at all. Although the ministry's legal and financial authority was to provide services to protect Matthew, services were in fact directed more to the benefit of his mother. The ministry, its employees and contractors lost sight of why a child protection service exists, and who they were supposed to be protecting.

My second caution is that Matthew's Story is very sad and will upset many readers, as it upsets me. The Honourable Judge Thomas J. Gove, Commissioner - Letter transmitting his report

The report was called for by then Minister of Social Services, Joy MacPhail. The report moved the government to make countless changes in the care of children under government care and to improve responses to those children whose circumstances become known to government.

On September 23, 1996 Penny Priddy was made Minister of a brand new Ministry for Children and Families. The new Ministry consolidated the child and family programs from the ministries of Social Services, Health, Attorney General, Education and Women's Equality.

On the same day, Cynthia Morton was appointed to a new position of Children's Commissioner. The Children's Commissioner's mandate included the review of all child deaths in the province and the review and overseeing of all investigative complaint and adjudicative functions provided by government. The commissioner reported to the Legislature, not to a cabinet minister.
The Ministry saw drastic cuts to its budget in 2002. Staff were laid off or moved elsewhere in Government. The Children's Commissioner was fired and office closed down. Sherry Charlie died months later.

Todd Bertuzzi is back

Todd Bertuzzi is back

I am more than happy Bert is back for the 2005/06 season. The NHL has established a few conditions on the Canucks #44.

Todd is back right away. He will be held to a higher standard than any other NHL player, He can not play in any game that Steve Moore is playing in.

The return of Bertuzzi will ensure one of the best lines in hockey over the last three years of play made up of Bertuzzi, Morrison and Naslund will be together again.

The conclusion of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's decision ...

"Accordingly, I have determined as follows:
A total suspension of approximately seventeen (17) calendar months from the date of the incident is the appropriate sanction to impose in this case given the nature and severity of the act in question and the overall totality of circumstances. Subject to the continuing terms of the conditional discharge in Mr. Bertuzzi’s criminal case and the "probationary period" which this decision imposes, Mr. Bertuzzi is immediately eligible for reinstatement for play in the NHL."

As a Canuck fan there could be no better news! Time to play hockey and welcome back TODD!

Tags: , Hockey,

The BC Liberal's Maximus Advantage

The not so silent sellout...

It is a Maximus Deal, one of many out there that is of concern and you and I are paying for it. Maximus is an American company operating out of Virginia. The BC Liberal Government as most of you will recall has contracted with Maximus, and American company to the tune of 324 million dollars over 10 years to provide MSP and Pharmacare services.

To date Maximus has been fined twice under the conditions of its contract with the BC Government. Fined for failing to meet specified deliverables. We at this time do not know what those fines are worth, though we are being told by BC's Minister of Health, George Abbott the fines are a deterrant and working.

In BC we have to take their word for it, the current government refuses to tell us how much the fines were or any other information under the guise that to do so would provide an advantage for Maximus' competitors.

What competitors is a good question. The deal is for ten years.

The next question that comes to mind is a name change, made with little or no fanfare. The government has put both MSP and Pharmacare into one program called Health Insurance BC (HIBC).
From BC Government website...
Health Insurance BC is the new name for administrative operations of the Medical Services Plan (MSP) and PharmaCare, including Fair PharmaCare. The programs and benefits have not changed - only the name, and our commitment to improved customer service.

The New program, HIBC has a nice ring to it, much like ICBC. What is the next step here? Could this be the first step toward selling off BC Government Health Insurance to the private sector or a Public Private Partnership? The road ahead is unclear in BC, we do know however that the BC Liberals are not really opposed to selling off crown assests or delivery of public programs by the private sector. The Supreme Court of Canada decision months ago telling governments to pick up the speed in delivering needed medical services or allow the private sector to do it means that every move of the BC Government must be looked at carefully.

Is the newly named HIBC set now to be hived off the Ministry of Health's books into a seperate crown corporation. That of course is speculation on my part but not far off in my opinion given the BC Liberal's actions to date.

Want some examples, consider that we still own BC Rail and BC Ferries. BC Rail exists on paper only (we own the tracks) and BC Ferries is no longer a crown corporation but a private company raising money from private investors expecting a return on their investment. We know ICBC has been told they have to make more room for private business to compete for optional coverage, the money making part of insurance.

The new bridge in Kelowna is a Public Private Partnership with the private sector company building it and receiving a 30 year deal to provide the maitenance. Again the BC Government will not release the full contract for reasons of competition. In effect, the government has entered into many contracts to avoid releasing information that would normally be available through freedom of information.

There are many warning signals here. Government is getting out of the delivery of core services, out of the responsibility for delivering these services. Don't be surprised if we in BC are in the not too distant future enjoying the benefits of health care and government as enjoyed by the good people of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Tags: , Victoria, , , , , , ,

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Gay folks supporting John Roberts

This is just a little scary for me. Gay folks supporting John Roberts for the Supreme Court.

It cannot be, but it is. Could they be Republicans? I have to hear quite abit more before anyone could convince me Judge Roberts should be entrusted with a Supreme Court position.

"We know, believe it or not, that Judge Roberts is an attorney. This means that, sometimes, he is called upon to advocate a position for his client, even if he personally doesn't think it should be the correct legal position or sound public policy.

The recent news is that Judge Roberts helped his law firm's attorneys prepare for a case in 1996 that went before the Supreme Court of the United States that involved the equal protection clause's application to homosexuals. Judge Roberts didn't participate in the litigation itself, but it is reported that he reviewed briefs and assisted in preparation for oral argument."

Lets see what comes out in any hearings..., until then I would advise folks to stay back for awhile. I wonder what James Dobson thinks of these boys backing his man?

Check them out at Conservative Bloggers Who Support The Gay Judge Roberts.

Southin skewered the absurdity of government anti-pot paranoia

Remember 2003 and Justice Southin on pot prohibition. I found this link to a story by Jim McNulty at the Province newspaper. You can not get it online so here is a libnk to it for you.

It is well worth a read in that it points the federal government to where they should be going on this issue.
"This whole sorry history, reflects the sorry history of prohibition in the United States," where anti-pot mania falsely lumped the relatively benign hallucinogen in with brutal narcotics like heroin. - Madame Justice Mary Southin, The Province, Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Jim McNulty
The Province, June 25, 2003

Let them fret. Southin's comments about the hopelessness of pot prohibition and the historical jiggery-pokery that led to it make more sense than anything coming out of Parliament these days.

A 15-year veteran of B.C.'s highest court, Southin has judged over 40 cases involving pot, "which appears to be of no greater danger to society than alcohol."

Heresy to the crusaders, no doubt, but an observation backed up by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. In fact, the centre says booze causes far worse problems and thousands of deaths every year.

When's the last time you heard of someone dying from a pot overdose? Indeed, Southin observes that marijuana smokers "are no better or worse, morally or physically, than people who like a martini."

Or maybe more than one martini, and many glasses of wine, and then get behind the wheel of a car drunk. As Premier Gordon Campbell did in Hawaii, and tens of thousands do across Canada every year.

Southin notes marijuana-busting "is the source of much work" for police and courts, but whether that "contributes to peace, order and good government is another matter."

"This whole sorry history," she continues, "reflects the sorry history of prohibition in the United States," where anti-pot mania falsely lumped the relatively benign hallucinogen in with brutal narcotics like heroin.

Parliament, she suggests, was "hoodwinked" in the 1920s and 1930s "by the propaganda" against pot also cited in last year's Senate committee report calling for legalization of the weed.

That report terms 1908 to 1960 a "period of hysteria" when drug laws were "largely based on moral panic, racist sentiment and a notorious absence of debate."

We've got more debate now, but much of it replays the tired old falsehoods. Bravo, Madame Justice Southin.


Tags: , Drugs, Politics, News, Current Affairs, Culture, Weed, POT, Hemp, , USA, ,

5 Minute Action - No to US Drug War in Canada

5 Minute Action! Update - New Links

You pick and choose, do them all or just one. Please take time to express your views so we can apply as much political pressure as possible.

Sign this online Petition!

1. Write to Canadian Media

Write a short, snappy letter which offers your opinion on American efforts to extradite Marc Emery. Don't just send one mass email to all of these media at once. Instead send them each individually the same emailed letter. Write one letter every week, different letters but on the same topic, and send them to as many of these media outlets as you like every week.

For a list of Canadian Media email click here

2. Call The Honourable Irwin Colter, Minister of Justice

You can call just once or make it part of a weekly 5 minute action. Always be polite. State your message clearly and briefly. This is not the place for a debate. Mr. Cotler's staff cannot do this with you. Stay on message.

Constituency Office: 514-283-0171
Parliamentary Office: 613-995-0121
Justice Department Office: 613-992-4621

Here are some idea's you can use to express your views...

I am calling because it would "shock your conscience" for Marc Emery to be extradited to the US for alleged marijuana seeds crimes committed on Canadian soil. Say that you believe that if Marc has broken the law in Canada, he should be tried in Canada, under Canadian laws.

No matter where you are in the world, please call all three of these phone numbers every week. We definitely need active, vocal support from Americans and also from the international community.

If you have access to a fax machine then please also send a daily or weekly fax supporting Marc Emery to each of these Justice Department fax numbers:

Fax: 613-992-6762
Fax: 514-283-2407
Fax: 613-990-7255

3. Email or phone your Member of Parliament

Find your MP using your postal code here

You can convey the same message you are sending to Canadian media or Justice Minister Irwin Colter. All the same rules apply. Be polite, call often if you can and ask your MP to get back to you on this important matter.

Try to make an appointment for a personal visit. Also have every one of your friends and family members each make their own phone call. The more calls they receive the better. You are not seeking your MP and MLA to support the legalization of marijuana.

Tell them you are calling because you want your elected representative to oppose the extradition of any Canadian to a foreign country when their actions are not considered a serious crime in Canada. Remind them that Emery is the leader of a legitimate political party, that the Canadian government has knowingly collected taxes from his US seed sales for a decade, and that Emery has operated openly without interference from Canadian police since 1998.Tell your MP and MLA that Canada should not be sending political activists to jail in foreign countries, especially when their actions are not even considered to be an "arrestable offence" in Canada.

Thanks to for some of this information.

Also in the sidebar!

Tags: , Drugs, Politics, News, Current Affairs, Culture, Weed, POT, Hemp, , USA, ,

Petition: Block Extradition of Emery

See also Five Minute Action, what else can you do in less than 5 minutes once a day or week!

A French translation is now available at

Block Extradition of Emery

To: Members of Parliament
Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament Assembled

We, the undersigned residents of Canada, draw the attention of the House to the following:

THAT Marc Emery, leader of the British Columbia Marijuana Party, was arrested on July 29, 2005 in Nova Scotia at the request of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency;

THAT Mr. Emery was arrested for activities that he pursued with the knowledge of the public and governments of Canada and the United States for over five years;

THAT Mr. Emery's activities were tacitly approved by the government when Health Canada directed those in need of medical marijuana to his business;

THAT Canada has not enforced the prohibition on viable cannabis seeds in its prohibition of marijuana for over ten years;

THAT Mr. Emery faces possible imprisonment in a federal United States penitentiary for his natural life - a grossly disproportionate sentence by Canadian standards that does not even exist in Canada;

THAT the United States has chosen to enforce this law against Mr. Emery and his associates as a political statement, while ignoring other, lower profile Canadians who operate similar businesses; and

THAT, according to the Extradition Act, the Minister of Justice "shall" refuse to surrender a person when the surrender would be unjust or oppressive, or when it is requested for the purpose of punishing the political opinions of the person;

THEREFORE, pursuant to the Extradition Act, your petitioners call upon Parliament to oppose the extradition of Marc Emery and order the Minister of Justice to refuse to issue a surrender order in this case.


The Undersigned

Sign the petition

View Current Signatures

This petition was drawn up by created by Free Marc Emery Committee and written by Peter Jaworski, Jason Cherniak (

Tags: , Drugs, Politics, News, Current Affairs, Culture, Weed, POT, Hemp, , USA, ,

See also Five Minute Action, what else can you do in less than 5 minutes once a day or week!

Friday, August 05, 2005

The BCTF beats Campbell in Court

UPDATE August 5, 2005: "We will be asking the courts to grapple with that issue. It's a sensitive issue for parents and the school community. There is freedom of speech but the freedom of speech is not unlimited," Hugh Finlayson, CEO of the B.C. Public School Employers' Association told the Globe and Mail today. "It can be highly politicized, but there is a balance there."

Education Minister Shirley Bond said that parent-teacher interviews are opportunities for discussions about a student's progress and not about expression of views from teachers.

Jinny Sims, president of the BCTF, said the arbitrator and court ruling confirmed the right teachers have always had to make comments. "This will not change anything that happens in the classroom. We will still teach the same way. We feel as professionals and as citizens we have a right to make fair comment. They were trying to silence teachers from saying anything about any of the damage being done by public policy."


Court says Teachers can be Political! August 4, 2005

see Vancouver Sun story here or here

The BC Court of Appeal has upheld an arbitrator’s decision that policy directives issued by various school boards during collective bargaining for renewal of teachers’ provincial collective agreement in 2001 violated s. 2(b) of the Charter. The majority (per Huddart J.A.) found the infringement was not justified under s. 1. The policy did not meet the minimal impairment test under Oakes. Lowry J.A would have allowed the appeal on the basis of s. 1.

The decision is a victory for teachers in BC. It clearly maintains teachers rights to provide and inform parents of their (teacher's) concerns with respect to the affects political decisions made have on the classroom and the education of children in that classroom. To limit this discussion as attempted by the employer and the BC Liberal Government was in fact a denial of both a teachers professional responsibility and a teachers (employee's) rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I can only say again, the Charter has become the last stand for the defense of individuals in the face of autocratic government. The next big test with respect to the Charter and the rights of unions will come in the Supreme Court of Canada when they hear the case from Unions opposed to the Bill 29, a Bill that tore up essential articles bargained in freely neogotiated collective agreements, and further, prevented Unions and Employers from neogotiating freely some aspects to job security, namely the prevention and or rules to follow with respect to contracting out work.

The BC Liberals have to be smarting this one out.

In the court's majority decision...

Therefore, in my opinion, the absolute ban of discussion on school property during school hours did not minimally impair teachers' rights. Few places would be more appropriate for a discussion of the need for resources for public schools than a parent-teacher interview dedicated to one child's education.

The Supreme Court noted in Pepsi, "[f]ree expression in the labour context benefits not only individual workers and unions, but also society as a whole" (at para. 35). The same holds true for teachers. Their political expression benefits society as a whole even where the concerns arise out of a labour relations dispute.," Justice Carol Huddart, August 4, 2005

in the dessenting opinion...

"If teachers are permitted to use public schools as forums to advance particular political agendas, they will undermine an open and supportive education environment and, ultimately, that will detract from the fundamental objective of the school system," Justice Peter Lowry
And of course you just knew Lifesite would come out of the gates screaming over this decision...

“What hypocrisy! BC teachers can now politicize the classrooms but teacher Kris Kempling, who expressed his religious views on homosexuality in a letter to a local paper and not even in the classroom, is persecuted mercilessly.” Steve Jalsevac, Managing Director of

Find the BC Court of Appeal's written judgement here...

2005 BCCA 393 British Columbia Public School Employers' Association v. British Columbia Teachers' Federation

The court upheld an arbitrator’s decision that policy directives issued by various school boards during collective bargaining for renewal of teachers’ provincial collective agreement in 2001 violated s. 2(b) of the Charter. The majority (per Huddart J.A.) found the infringement was not justified under s. 1. The policy did not meet the minimal impairment test under Oakes. Lowry J.A would have allowed the appeal on the basis of s. 1.

Tags: , , , , , , , Labor, , Education, Law, ,

Steve Wansleeben seeking City Hall

Blogger Steve Wansleeben is seeking to be elected to Vancouver City Council this November. He supports keeping St. Paul's Hospital right where it is and that I like.

The matter will end up before Vancouver City Council before Providence can move much further down the road to moving out of the Westend. We will need a council that will tell Providence no. The pressure will be immense at that decision time. Not only will Providence have the Vancouver Health Authority onside, they will have the BC Liberal cabinet onside.

It won't matter too much if it gets that far. No city council in BC has stopped the BC Liberal government from doing what they want these days!

The best plan of attack to protect this hospital lies in preventing Providence Health Care from getting to point of saying that's it, we're moving.

The way I see this, Mayencourt better have pictures of Health Minister Abbott or Finance Minister Taylor smokin a doobie south of the border. This project appears to have the support albeit quiet, of the provincial government. Why, they can smell a successful 3 Pee project. There will be no government money spent on construction of any public health facility. We will instead sign a 30 year tenant leases.

Imagine turning a province of owners into renters. Didn't your parents say renting was throwing good money away.

If you are keen to save St. Paul's Hospital go to: Save St. Paul's Coalition.

For more on St. Paul's, BC Liberals, Lorne Mayencourt, Tim Stevenson, NDP, Vancouver use the technorati search box here and at Queer Thoughts.

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Junk Science coming to a school near you

"Rocks Around the Clock: The Eons That Never Were"

Very interesting stuff going on in the United States these days for sure. Schools are being increasing forced to take on teaching Christian Religious dogma. I would have no objection to this were it being taught along side many other religions and beliefs to enlighten and inform.

That is not the case. They are primarily using the schools to indoctrinate young minds, to recruit young children into a faith system using the public schools as chief recruiter. These people are teaching "Intelligent Design", the new term used to describe how the belief of creationism can be "explained". It takes a big leap of faith and cult acceptance to get there, yet it is prevailing in the land of the free.

The New Yorker had this to say ...

"...Biologists aren't alarmed by intelligent design's arrival in Dover and elsewhere because they have all sworn allegiance to atheistic materialism; they're alarmed because intelligent design is junk science..." ~ MASTER PLANNED, Why intelligent design isn't. by H. ALLEN ORR

Intelligent Design is described by its adherents as ...
"The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion." ~ Intelligent Design Network, Inc.

Enough of the bunk, check out The Gazetteer on this one, Creationism rising .

Tags: , , , , , , , , Intelligent Design, Science, Religion, DARWINISM,