Some things just need to be said...

Monday, October 31, 2005

Waterboy takes sloppy seconds!

Some humour comes out of the Bush country today!

KOS talks about Bush being the The Wingnuts' Waterboy


CBS White House correspondent John Roberts asked a Whitehouse spokesperson, “Scott, you said that – or the President said, repeatedly, that Harriet Miers was the best person for the job. So does that mean Alito is sloppy seconds, or what?” Thanks to The Reid Report for this.

, Politics, President, Republicans, , , , Religion, Current events

George W. Bush comes out Swinging

George W. Bush in polling free fall, pulls emergency parachute rip cord

Harriet Miers was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats and was withdrawn from nomination by President Bush (she withdrew but that's not the way it really happens). Bush just did not have the clout to get her through the Senate especially given his falling poll numbers.

Many Conservatives were concerned about two speeches Miers gave in the 1990's, speeches which did not come solidly out against abortion. Her paise of former Clinton Attorney General, Janet Reno also got her in trouble with some on the Christian Right. She had to go.

Bush went back to his base, the people that continually provide him cover and support, the Christian Right. Before putting a name forward publicly, Bush ran the nomination by a few very anti-gay groups including Concerned Women for America.

Janet LeRue of Concerned Women for America told the Washington Post, "Alito and Luttig have always been at the top of our list. We think either of them would be a supreme pick. There isn't a thing stealthy about them. They've got a long, proven record."

Judge Samuel Alito, Bush's nomination for the Supreme Court, has many of the same views as Justice Antonin Scalia, likely one of the more right wing conservative appointments ever. George W. Bush likely sat down and prayed for his choice before announcing his nomination. He has good cause to worry. If he can't get the Justice appointed he will remain a lame duck President for the rest of his term, with Republicans wishing he had left with Libby.

Conservatives want this guy...

"The president has made an excellent choice today which reflects his commitment to appoint judges in the mold of (Antonin) Scalia and (Clarence) Thomas. Sam Alito, a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals judge, has consistently embraced the original intent of the Constitution." - Kay Daly, the president of the very right wing Coalition for a Fair Judiciary.

"Of course, he's against abortion," 90-year-old Rose Alito said of her son, Judge Sam Alito, a Catholic.

I can see school children all over America learning about intelligent design in science class. A kind of reverse evolution "science" to add some humour to a serious issue.

Now the war is on, forget 2,000 dead in Iraq, we have the hearts and minds of American kids to think about. Kids that will one day grow up to fight the war in Iraq for god, country and Wal-Mart. Then we can all Celebrate Diversity!

See: An Embattled and Weakened Bush Goes Nuclear

, Politics, President, Republicans, , , , , Religion, Gay, Current events

T-Shirt from American Conservative Humour (sic) group

Also posted at Queer Thoughts.

Martin's Gomery reports tonight

Gomery reports tonight to the Prime Minister

The world has been chugging along well for Martin and likely he will find the report from Gomery will provide him with some light ahead for him. Speculation is that Gomery will lay most of the blame on the former PM and or his supporters for the sponsorship scandal.

The report if it does as expected amounts to Bush's people finding a big bunker of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

It remains unbelievable to me that the Minister of Finance, Mr. Martin himself, did not know this theft of government money was occurring. Was he that incompetent or was he looking the other way?

The Liberals have a responsibility to reimburse the Canadian government for the funds they received as a result and that includes the money paid in salaries to Liberal hacks and insiders.

Martin will of course come out tomorrow stating he is saddened by the reports finding and tell us that his why he established the Gomery investigation. He will clearly state that those responsible will be held accountable. He might not even rest until every dollar is found, till every member of the former government is charged and convicted (except for himself of course).

Harper and company will scream we need an election now as Canadians cannot take another moment of the Liberals in power.

The end result in the ensuing media coverage, a draw for Martin. This guy has more horseshoes than Michael Jackson has lawyers. Yet with all that the best Martin can hope for is a Minority government again, but then that's like a win right?

Under any other circumstance people would vote in droves to toss him out. Not in Canada, not with the likes of Harper slobbering all over the Christian Right (or is it the other way around and is it safe). We don't trust Martin but we know what he is, Harper scares the heck out of us and Jack Layton, he needs to show people he deserves consideration.

What's the media saying, Nothing else is happening in Canada, its wall to wall Gomery...

Senior Liberal officials receive long-awaited Gomery report on ...Vancouver Sun (subscription), Canada - 1 hour ago Justice John Gomery's three-volume tome was handed over to senior government officials near Parliament Hill, where Prime Minister Paul Martin's circle of ... Martin takes in Gomery report at 24 Sussex after welcoming trick ... National Post Opposition presses for glimpse of Gomery Globe and Mail PM not sharing Gomery report National Post

Gomery report : Key Players, Canada - 6 hours ago... In testimony before Gomery, LeFrancois insisted the Crown corporation had never participated in any "not genuine transactions.". ... Pundits watch tone of sponsorship report; Gomery raised hackles ... Brandon SunBlame game Edmonton SunJohn Gomery seen as calm and collected in the eye of a political ... Ottawa SunEdmonton Sun - Montreal Gazette - all 16 related »

Sunday, October 30, 2005

BC to get more open government!

Open and accountable government

The Liberals have broken a lot of promises but the one that sticks in my throat the most is the one to be open and accountable government.

So far they have done the following to create open and accountable government...

1. They cut the budget in their first year!
2. They moved BC Ferries to a "private" corporation to remove it from Freedom of Information
3. They have steadfastly refused to release information on the BC Rail sale to CN
4. Only very superficial information can be obtained about the Public Private Partnership involving the Abbotsford hospital.

Yes that definitely qualifies as open and accountable right?

If you said I was nuts for suggesting it was open and accountable you would be right.

Aside from making government less accountable and open they have made it much harder if not impossible to obtain information. Why is that do you think. Is there a reason they don't want details of the BC Rail sale public? Why don't they want us to know who is providing BC Ferries with money to build ferries? Why don't they want us to know what the BC Ferries CEO and staff considered when they decided to build three ferries in Germany rather than BC?

What is in the contract to build the hospital in Abbotsford that we should not know? What considerations were discussed when making the decision to provide the builder of the hospital a 30 year deal to operate, maintain and staff the cleaning and security personnel.

How much profit was built into the contract and how much more is private borrowing going to cost the BC Taxpayer funded project vs public borrowing?

Now the Georgia Straight reports that BC Liberal hit man, Mike De Jong, the Minister in charge of Freedom of Information indicates changes are coming to the ACT but he won't say when or what changes are contemplated or even what the process to gather information and input is.

The history is clear. The BC Liberal government sat on the ugly situation of Sherry Charlie for over three years. They refused court ordered release of information on Grizzly bear killings to a group looking to stop the hunting of these bears and finally made the info available in an incomplete and unsearchable format.

They have raised the cost of obtaining information, they have reduced what they will release and not long ago, the Premier's head political guru told people not to write anything down so they don't have to release the info in a FOI request.

Gotta give it to the BC Liberals, the most effective users of FOI when in opposition, now in government they don't want any other to have the same access the opposition BC Liberals enjoyed. Their Mommies didn't raise no dummies.

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Kelowna councilor plays GOD

"Mission residents are quite able to choose their next City Council by utilizing their own judgment as to the capability of candidates." Barrie Clark

Barrie Clark, candidate and incumbent City councilor says he does not want to be endorsed by the Okanagan Mission Residents Association, because they are a special interest group.

God forbid a group of citizens in Kelowna take a stand on anything. Clark knew the OMRA was going to do this. He could have told them he would not accept nor want an endorsement. He choose to play politics of an incumbent.

It might have a lot more to do with the fact he doesn't want any other group out here to be involved or work to affect change on council.

As an incumbent he would normally be a shoe in for election. No incumbent has been defeated in 21 years except last time out when Horning won. He has all the advantages and now that some citizens are ticked off with his council, ironic they endorsed him, he has become the god of what's right and wrong.

We have a real election and I suspect more resident associations and other groups next time out will be doing this as well. Interviewing candidates, talking about the issues and then advising the community what they found out and who they think should be supported.

Barrie Clark may even get some endorsements if he accepts them.

See Castanet story here.

Photo Credit: from Castanet (Kelly Hayes Photo)

Pay Parking a bust in BC Parks

"Confidential government documents released to the Western Canada Wilderness Committee through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request shows that a BC government decision to put parking meters into BC’s provincial parks has been beset by a series of escalating problems. "

The BC Liberal Government's attempt at making us all pay for the use of parks we already paid for is turning into a comedy of errors and unfortunately additional costs. The Western Canada Wilderness Committee has released a series of government emails that go on at length about the government's policy of installing parking meters and their upkeep.

The new parking meters were installed in 2003. The government in its effort to support of NAFTA (we're they thinking the Americans would say hey, buying meters from the USA will gain BC support on softwood lumber?) bought the meters from an Americaqn company at a cost of 1.2 million dollars. (Can someone see if Rich Coleman, BC Forests Minister was in on this decision?)

The first year the government took in just around 700,000 dollars in revenue from the meters. No where new the cost of the meters but then I also understand the business part here, by the second year you will have paid for them and after that its free money. Only a couple things wrong with the government business plan though.
"Last week I signed off an enormous budget variance report to the negative. I feel nothing but sympathy and frustration on this subject." A senior government official commenting to a regional park manager.

The government plan did not take into account lower user numbers of parks due to the fee, or that those willing to pay the fee thought it was too high. The next thing they did not consider was the cost of maitenance and the repairs needed due to vandalism. The cost and time of Government employee's was not taken into consideration either.
"They are designed for U.S. coins. Bottom line: Lexis has sold us machines with coin mechanisms that are not compatible with our currency." - a government employee wrote in an email,

The BC Liberals of course are are staying the course here. Perhaps they will slowly and quietly start removing them. That would at least be the smart thing for them to consider. Popular parks here in the Okanagan near Kelowna and of course the ever popular French Beach near Victoria were paid for by all of us and the BC Liberal government's ill thought out policy to squeeze more tax dollars from us has failed.

The last insult to BC residents is the purchase of the meters from an American company. Surely we have a BC or Canadian company that thrives on taking our coins!

See related story in the Globe and Mail: Open season on parking meters

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Official Community Plan in Kelowna

"The OCP is the highest level document within City planning however, it is not chiselled in stone but should be treated seriously by all members of an elected Council." Current Mayor Walter Gray

I like that our Mayor, who by the way qualifies to be Mayor because he use to own a radio station, purports to support the offical community plan and take it seriously. Look at the city council agenda for the last three years. How can Walter say he has taken the OCP seriously. I suspect the OCP may have been written on the same chalk board used to calculate donations to municipal campaigns.

This council has not met a developer they have not loved. Isn't there a law against forification outside a relationship. Maybe not, but its sure a good reason for divorce and with the likes of Gray and Day one need not produce much for the Judge (that would be voters) to provide us with a quickie divorce.

One thing is sure, we won't be able to claim the marriage was never consumated, we all got screwed so to speak.

Photo from The Kelowna Capital News

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

Buy the Wal-Mart documentary for $12.95

Outfoxed Director Robert Greenwald - ‘Premiere Week’; Over 3,000 Screenings Set In All 50 States in Largest Grassroots Viral Marketing Campaign Ever

The film will open in theatres in New York and Los Angeles November 4. Brave New Films is a new production company making films about the most relevant subjects of our time will release its first film, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.

Dyring Premiere Week beginning November 13 the movie will be seen in well over 3,000 screenings and house parties across the United States – by churches, small business owners, teachers, and others. (The Film will also be seen in many Canadian venues. )

“Releasing the film in theaters will only build upon the largest grassroots mobilization in the history of film distribution,” said filmmaker Robert Greenwald. “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price is the story of one company using its power to destroy the fabric of American life, and it is important to us that as many people as possible see it. The theatrical release will only serve to increase the profile of Wal-Mart.”

The action schedule for Premier week which will be the largest ever grassroots film screening effort ever are below...

Canadian screening list here!

SUNDAY, November 13th – “A Moral Approach” – Hosted by churches, faith based groups, and anyone concerned with moral corporate behavior.

MONDAY, November 14th – “Shareholders Day” – Hosted by shareholders, stock brokers, and corporate responsibility groups.

TUESDAY, November 15th – “Legislative Action Day” – Wal-Mart is as much a product of legislation as it is of consumer choice.

WEDNESDAY, November 16th – “Learn About Wal-Mart” – Women and children first? Not at Wal-Mart.

THURSDAY, November 17th – “Sick Day” – Wal-Mart offers insurance, but aggressively shifts the cost onto its employees and communities.

FRIDAY, November 18th – “A Working Wal-Mart” – As America’s largest employer, Wal-Mart leads a race to the bottom.

SATURDAY, November 19th – “Family Business Day” – There is a distinct inability of local businesses to survive when Wal-Mart comes to town.

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I was passed this email from the Simpson family and thought it needed to be put out for all to see.

The current Kelowna city council is trying to sell some of the Simpson lands to a private developer. The email below explains why this should not be allowed...

Currently Sharon Sheperd, Brad Dunlop and Dave Porteous agree to keeping to the Simpson Covenant. Others running for council may or may not agree, you need to find out who does. I will post more info here when I learn of their positions. It may well be safe to say that the current City Council with the exception of Sharon Sheperd support selling the land.

Here is the email...


As the civic election moves into full swing, the Simpson Covenant – or as it is sometimes called, “the Sawmill Covenant” – or the “Civic Centre Covenant”– is no where in sight.

As candidates sort out their platforms and their positions on various community issues, surely one of the most important questions that needs to be asked of each candidate is:


Is the current City Council hoping the issue will disappear? Where are those who have already declared they believe that the terms of the Covenant must be honoured and adhered to?

The Covenant deals with lands at the heart of our civic centre as well as one of the very few remaining open vistas of Okanagan Lake in downtown Kelowna.

The land bounded by Doyle Avenue to the North, Ellis Street to the East, Queensway Avenue to the South, and Okanagan Lake to the West (the area bounded by the red line – or solid line – on the attached map) are the lands identified as the Simpson Covenant. The total amount of land involved is 11.7 acres.

Stanley M. Simpson, through his company, The Kelowna Sawmill, offered this land to the City of Kelowna at a very favourable and below market-value price because he placed certain restrictions on the future use of these lands. These conditions were agreed upon by Mayor G. G. MacKay when he negotiated with Simpson and later, Mayor Jim Pettigrew who signed the documents in 1946, and their respective Councils.

The covenants attached to the terms of sale clearly specify that:

1. The lands in question shall ONLY be used for municipal purposes.

2. This land will not AT ANY TIME be sold.

3. And, this land will not AT ANY TIME be used for commercial or industrial purposes.

The City Council of the day wanted to be sure the community clearly understood the terms of the agreement and on May 17, 1945 took the issue to referendum to approve the expenditure of $30,000 for the 7.52 acres bounded by Water St and Ellis and Doyle and Mill (now Queensway) AND an additional $25,000 to purchase the 4.2 acres of land adjacent to the lakeshore. The restrictions on the use of the land were clearly explained to the community and over 90% of the voters supported the purchase of land that would be held, in perpetuity, for the use and enjoyment of the citizens of Kelowna.

A few months later, the electors approved of spending an additional $60,000 to purchase about 9 lots on the north side of Mill Avenue that were adjoining the new civic centre property.

The disparity in the prices of the “about” 9 commercial lots for $60,000 to add to the 11.7 ACRES of land purchased from the Kelowna Sawmill for $55,000 underscores the clearly advantageous price the city paid to Mr. Simpson for the larger parcel of land.

The mayors, council, and citizen’s of the day clearly understood these lands were to be used for municipal purposes. Discussions centered around a new city hall, the Memorial Arena was built in 1948, a curling club, an art gallery, a public health centre, and the museum have all been built on these lands, though some have since been demolished. Kasaugi Gardens has subsequently been added to the site.

In 1949, the City of Kelowna entered into an agreement with the provincial government to build a court house adjacent to the lakeshore on the civic centre properties. Although discussions involved Stanley Simpson, it is understood he was not happy with the prospect of the view of city hall being blocked from the water, but subsequently agreed to a transfer of land whereby the provincial government obtained land opposite city hall in exchange for provincial land to the south of what is now the parking lot at the end of Queensway. (These lands are identified on the attached map in orange – or dotted line – and are covered in Bylaw 1449)

Because they had changed the terms of the land use agreement with Simpson, the city agreed to certain restrictions upon this exchanged land – essentially the restrictions were the same as those that had been placed on the civic centre lands – namely that this land would not be used for commercial purposes and would NEVER be sold.

In 2004, the City of Kelowna entered into negotiations with a developer to sell a portion of the land which is included within the area defined by the Simpson Covenant and the exchanged land designated in Bylaw 1449. The agreement was subject to certain conditions one of which was that the “city was responsible for negotiating with the Simpson family to amend the covenant to allow the proposed development to proceed.”

The Simpson family has, to date, refused to agree to amend the covenant believing that Stanley Simpson sold these land to the city in good faith. He was a man of his word and he expected that subsequent mayors and councils would honour the agreement he made with their predecessors.
The Simpson family has no vested interest in these lands and strongly believe the civic centre lands were purchased by and for the citizens of Kelowna and are ONLY held in trust by the Corporation of the City of Kelowna. We do not believe this or any other council has the right to ignore or dismiss the legally registered covenant and sell the land or use it for purposes other that what was originally agreed upon.

Further, we believe the spirit and intent of the original agreement was to maintain these lands in public ownership in a manner that they would be available, FOR ALL TIME, for the use and enjoyment of the citizens of this community.

We also believe that the various arguments offered by the current mayor, council and city staff to suggest that “times have changed” and the covenant is no longer valid are patently unacceptable. We believe the Mayor and Council – either existing or in the future – are both legally and morally bound to honour and respect the terms of the covenant as it was originally agreed upon by their successors and supported by the electorate of the day.

We also strongly believe that the citizens of this community must know where each of the candidates running in this upcoming election stands on this issue – and then must vote for those who are prepared to obey the law and feel morally bound to respect the vision of the founders of this community and in doing so, respect its heritage – and the Simpson Covenant which is part of our history.

For further information please contact Sharron Simpson at 860.6525 or Tom Smithwick at 763.7646 or Suzanne Mitchell at 868.2828

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Media dirt in Canada!

A new and interesting blog has appeared.

The Blog purports to be in the newsrooms in Canada, "From sea to shining sea."

This could be fun, the blog says there are more than one of them, now lets see what they have to say about what goes on in our newsrooms. One word of advice to these folks, be sure that you don't post anything from your worksite computer or work provided laptop, enquiring minds may want to know who you are and just may want a word or two with you bunch.

Lets hope we get some real dirt here.

Check out The Dirt (

Wal-Mart Secret memo, Workers health costs too much

Wal-Mart internal memo says it like is...

Yes Wal-Mart in an internal memo allows that its benefit package is too expensive for most workers, that many workers rely on State funded health care and that it must continue to find ways to cut costs for the program due to growing numbers of longer term employees gaining access to the program.

A memo written by Wal-Mart Executive Vice President for Benefits, Susan Chambers, reveals Wal-Marts strategies, identifies its worries that state governments might come back at them for medical costs and more.

Wake Up Wal-Mart, a group that has been trying to get the word out on just how Wal-Mart treats its workers has a link to the memo and today's New York Times article.

Have a look. No wonder Wal-Mart contributes so much money to Republicans.

Playing a deadly game of politics


2,300 plus workers in Brooks Alberta are on strike at the Tyson Foods slaughterhouse. These workers have been trying to get a first collective agreement with Tyson Foods. The strike began October 12 and has become very nasty.

The bulk of the workers at Tyson are immigrants and refugees from Somalia and the Sudan. UFCW 401 has been trying to negotiate a first agreement and Tyson has been trying to stall, and is accused by the union as to bargaining in bad faith. The Alberta government is standing by and allowing Tyson to do what it wants too. Issues in the dispute are; Health and safety, Respect and Handling of Biological hazards.
The Union is "playing a deadly game of politics gambling with peoples lives" - Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's office reply to union request for government intervention

The company is using scabs, or replacement workers as the Alberta government likes to call them in an attempt to keep operating. Tyson Foods is one of the largest slaughterhouse operators in the the United States and is often referred to as the Wal-Mart of the industry. Tyson has 27% of the Beef, Pork and Chicken sales in the United States. The plant in Alberta is a giant killing factory, killing 40% of the beef slaughtered in Canada, by far the largest operation in the country.

Despite the booming economy, the Alberta Klein government has done nothing help end this strike. The Union is prohibited from having more than 50 picketers at the site and cannot hold up those entering the facility for more than 3 minutes. The RCMP are acting as gatekeepers for the company ensuring access to the plant by scabs. Yet despite this the strikers have managed to slow production significantly. The company has also been using decoy buses, where they will have empty buses cross the line regularly, the windows are all covered so you cannot easily tell if it has scab workers or not.

One has to wonder why the Alberta government allows this to happen. These workers on strike are asking for health and safety protection, for safety related procedures to be implemented, protecting workers from injury and biological hazards.

Only in Alberta, no, just like Alabama, Georgia and Texas. Workers are brought in with a promise of good family supporting jobs and then they see the reality after they have relocated. They have no rights, health and safety is secondary to production and proper procedures are not followed in the handling of biological hazards.
"If there is a 'deadly game of politics' going on in Alberta, it is the politics of inaction. What is desperately needed is action from Premier Klein as well as the federal government to bring Tyson back to the bargaining table." - UFCW Canada national director Michael J. Fraser

The union has made requests for Premier Klein to get involved but have been rebuked. Klein's office accuses the union of "playing a deadly game of politics gambling with peoples lives."

The Alberta Beef producers have asked the Premier to intervene as feedlots fill up. Lets hope his friends can get him to act if nothing else will.

You can help, send an email to

For more information on this check out : Pressure Klein to help resolve Lakeside strike at the Straight Goods

Monday, October 24, 2005

Who will you vote for in Kelowna's mayoralty election??

Who will you vote for in Kelowna's mayoralty election?? Castanet is running a poll on the election and this appears pretty close. If you have not voted yet go to Castanet and make your selection.

Sharon Sherperd wins the first round of internet polls in the Kelowna Municipal election.

Walter Gray
1293 - end result 1326
Stephen May
Kimberley Ouelette
Sharon Shepherd
- end result 1438
Andy Uitvlugt
104 - end result 119
Total Votes: 2751

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Teachers to return to work in BC

BC Teachers have voted 77% in favour of returning to work.

After two weeks on the line BC teachers are returning to work Monday after scoring a big win for education. Teachers paid a a big price to obtain what Gordon Campbell and Education Minister Bond said would never happen. No longer it appears can the Campbell government count on slamming unjust legislation through the house and expect it to be respected.

The Liberals had some two years to resolve what took just two weeks to settle. They choose confrontation versus discussion. Come April 2006, the BC Liberals could find themselves in heap more trouble with the other public sector workers. Legislating workers back to work won't work so easily.

Now we wait to see if Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals will live up to their commitment to honour and implement the Ready Recommendations. They don't have a good record on following through.

David Schreck has compiled this list of the Liberals appalling record.

On August 1, 2001, Bill 13 (Greater Vancouver Transit Services Settlement Act) ended the dispute with Coast Mountain Bus Company Ltd. by ordering a return to work and by appointing a special mediator to determine terms of the contract, the traditional way legislatures intervene in disputes.

On August 9, 2001, Bill 15 (Health Care Services Collective Agreement Act) imposed a "contract" on nurses even though the only job action they took was the withdrawal of overtime; the Bill also imposed the employers' last offer on paramedical professionals.

On January 27, 2002, Bill 27 (Education Services Collective Agreement Act) passed third reading imposing an "agreement" on the teachers with a term expiring June 30, 2004.

On January 27, 2002, Bill 28 (Public Education and Choice Act) passed third reading stripping the teachers agreement of provisions that dealt with learning and working conditions.

On January 27, 2002, Bill 29 (Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act) passed third reading stripping collective agreements with health and social service unions.

On March 7, 2002, Bill 9 (Medical Services Arbitration Act) passed third reading canceling the arbitration between the government and the BCMA.

On March 31, 2003, Bill 28 (Forestry Revitalization Act) passed third reading reducing timber licenses by 20% while setting the terms of compensation and eliminating the right for legal action for additional compensation.

On April 22, 2004, Bill 19 (Education Services Collective Agreement Amendment Act, 2004) passed third reading overturning a court decision with respect to interpretation of the Public Education and Choice Act.

On March 3, 2005, Bill 21 (Crown Counsel Agreement Continuation Act) passed third reading overturning an arbitration with Crown Counsel and extending their contract until March 31, 2007.

On October 7, 2005, Bill 12 (Teachers' Collective Agreement Act) passed third reading extending the previously imposed and stripped contract with teachers to June 30, 2006. That produced the longest teachers' strike in BC history, courtesy of the government that promised to make education an essential service, and set the stage for the beginning of a major round of public sector bargaining.

See David's full article here.

Blogging gets some air play!

Right wing blogger Jordan of Langley Politics and I just completed our part on Public Eye Radio. We discussed blogging in BC and of course the teachers dispute with the Campbell government.

Jordan says a good time was had by all, I couldn't agree more.

Now Jordan, we need to find a means of doing it more often! How else am I going to highlight Mary Polak's romance with Lorne Mayencourt or get the word out on the need for Rich Coleman to turn some of those BC trees into affordable housing.

Perhaps after Jordan wins and becomes a member of the Langley City Council, he will see what I see, then maybe not!

Some Blogs recommended by Politics in BC

Rick Mercer
The Gazetteer
Bad For BC
Island Chick
Schreck (not Shrek)
The Tyee
AndreaReimer (VSB)
The Wanderer
Rob Cottingham
Double Plus Ungood
Salt and Ice
My Blahg
Section 15

This list comes largely from my favourite blogger, The Gazetteer!

And if you want to see the even more wonderful blogs check out Progressive Bloggers.

BCTF Vote results expected soon

The BCTF should soon be ready to announce the result of their vote on Ready's recommendations.

The vote will likely pass, but don't be surprised if it isn't as strong as the vote was to strike. Many teachers have indicated to me that they want to be sure they have it right before returning to school. It comes down to how much they are willing to believe Gordon Campbell this time.

I do know one thing, teachers in their guts know Campbell is not to be trusted.

More on the Teachers vote later tonight and what this dispute means for British Columbians.

The results will be released to teachers and then to the public this evening. You can read the BCTF news release at

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Teachers invest in Education in BC

Cuts to education funding over the last five years have severely impacted teachers workload and the kind of work teachers can do.

The last agreement teachers had was brought in through legislation. That agreement raised teachers salaries over three years. The government gave the school districts money for the first year raise but not for subsequent years. This created a huge hole in the school districts budgets. They had to make cuts. The cuts came by closing over 100 schools, laying off school librarians, 2,000 teachers cut and the number school counselors reduced.

Added to the cuts were school support staff, funds for alternative programs for children, teacher assistants, special needs assistants and slashing of funds for purchases of supplies including learning aids, text books and paper.

Everyone of these cuts has had a direct impact on teachers and their workload and the learning environment for children. New curriculum's brought in without the text books to support it, industrial ed classes of 35 with tool for 21, kindergarten classes with no materials at all except what the teacher can scronge from other teachers or from garage sales she collects on her days off.

Other often missed costs the school districts have had to absorb without corresponding funding increase were the increased BC Medical care premiums, the new 3.5 cents per litre tax on fuel and increased cost of heating and cooling due to rising fuel costs.

All of these items would normally be funded as a practical measure in the provincial budget in years before the Liberals came to government by the NDP and before them the Social Credit government.

When teachers claim they went on strike for education they are sincere. They have seen what the lack of resources has meant to their ability to do their job and the effect it has on all the children. When a teacher has two or three special needs children in a class of 25 to 30 it takes hew away from the others. When she has an assistant she has the time to assist all of the children. A disruption from a special needs child is a disruption for every child in that class.

Our schools are under a severe cash strap.

One of the ironies in all this has Premier Campbell championing literacy at time when he has cut access to school and community libraries through budget cuts or simply not funding these services.

Education funding has not kept up. When you stop funding the basics, it is not long before important aspects of education suffer.

The Ready recommendations addresses some of these items directly, in putting more money directly into the system. That is what teachers said they had to have and that is what they got.

Premier Campbell and the government are trying to claim victory saying they will fund the Ready recommendations with savings from the strike. Basically indicating the teachers have paid the cost. That is where he is wrong again. The government can do so this year but next year and the year after that and forward that increased funding comes from the government. The teachers have made a huge investment in future of public education.

Thank you Jinny Sims and teachers.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bird Flu Pandemic

"I just have one final point. As I said, we don't actually know what form the pandemic, when it does arrive, will take, when it will emerge, and what impact it will have on our health or our society. This is why our approached planning for a pandemic must include not just antivirals, not just vaccines, but must also include thinking through public health and other measures and what actions that communities and individuals can take." David Butler-Jones, Chief Public Health Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada at a media briefing in Ottawa, October 20, 2005

We don't know. Chilling words from Canada's Chief Public Health Officer. Butler-Jones made those comments on Thursday, October 20th at a techinal briefing for reporters prior to the an international meeting of health ministers to take place in Ottawa October 25/25 2005.

Health experts around the world are watching the bird flu because they fear the H5N1 strain may mutate into a form that can easily be transmitted between humans and trigger a human flu pandemic. That flu could rival the spread of the 1918 Spanish flu. The spanish fly killed approximately 50 million people. The spread was aided by soldiers returning home from the first world war. Today a flu virus can quickly spread around the world due to air travel.

What are world governments doing to address this? Not a great deal it seems. Canada is considered a leader and we don't know if what we are doing will be effective. To date two drugs may be effective in treating a human strain of the Bird flu virus. Tamiflu made by Swiss drug maker Rouche and Glaxokline has a drug which is harder to use but available.

Canada is the only nation that has a domestic contract with a private pharmaceutical company to create enough antiviral drugs for every single resident. We have at this time enough Tamiflu to treat 2.3 million people.

Rouche is under fire internationally to produce more of the Tamiflu and to license its productiuon by genetic manufacturers. If you order the drug today it would take Rouche up to 15 months to get it to you. Rouche seems reluctant to do this but may welll have to due to international pressures. Generic drug manufacters in Asia and in particular, India are prepared to make the drug without a license though they are attempting to reach a deal with Rouche to avoid having to do this.

All this for a drug we don't know will work but at this point is the best available option. Recently a boy in Asia has been tested positive for the H5N1 virus and is resistant to Tamiflu.

Canada's recent experiance with SARS has ensured this country is taking the matter seriously. The public health model in Canada has allowed a greater degree of cooperation and ability to coordinate a response to the next flu pandemic whenever it arrives. Further privatization of our public health system will erode that ability.

The recent creation of the Public Health Agency of Canada modeled somewhat after the very effective BC Centre for Diesease Contro,l should see its funding and capibilities expanded to meet growing threats such as a Flu Pandemic that is not a matter of if its coming, but when.

Our public health model continues to show the way.

Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan
Human Health Issues related to Domestic Avian Influenza Outbreaks

Left meets Right on Public Eye Radio

This Sunday, October 23 I will be a guest on Sean Holman's Public Eye CFAX radio show. The show runs from 7 - 7:30 pm. We will be discussing political blogging and issues of the day.

You can listen in to the show live outside of Victoria via the CFAX website. Sean will also have Jordan Bateman, a BC Liberal and big fan of Red meater Rich Coleman and Pink Dinosaur, Mary Polak the Surrey transplant in Langley.

You can find Jordan's blog, Langley Politics here.

Teachers determination prevails

The BCTF has won!

Yesterday I wrote that the Gordon Campbell BC Liberal government was caught off guard when they thought the people of this province would slaughter teachers if they went out on an illegal strike. He could not have been more wrong.

Further it must of surprised the Campbell BC Liberals to see over 1,000 people at a rally in support of teachers today in Kelowna. Remember, Kelowna in the last election solidly returned the lack luster and largely incompetent Liberal MLA, Sindi Hawkins.

The mood today was one of determination. Some 7,000 CUPE members walked off the job in a day of protest in the Okanagan and interior. I have never witnessed the kind of solidarity here that was displayed today. If the Ready recommendations are accepted, it will prove the value of that solidarity.

Over the last year teachers have been trying to negotiate a collective agreement with people that have no power to negotiate anything. Consider this, the employers of teachers have no money and Government was saying no to wage increases so they cannot talk wages with the teachers. The government removed many working condition issues from the teachers collective agreement so the employer was sitting across the table for over a year and not once could they offer money or a change in working conditions.

The Ready document is a clear win for Teachers. The teachers resolve in the face of a government that misused its power for partisan purposes is remarkable. Those that have critisized Jinny Sims as being out of touch, being unreasonable must now realize she did not make these decisions unilaterally. She took direction from teachers that said enough is enough and she lead them to a potential settlement if the Ready recommendations are accepted by the government.

The effort of CUPE members to support teachers also had positive impact. Ready has pulled the BC Liberal government back from the precipice. If the teachers had faced huge fines, and they may still feel the weight of the law, and Ready not come up with a common sense report would it have been long before the entire province would have faced one gigantic general strike? BC Fed President Jim Sinclair also demonstrated good leadership throughout the dispute.

Good on all of you!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ready books out of Education dispute

Vince Ready has booked out of the dispute between teachers and the BC Liberal Government. Ready stated that the parties are too far apart.

It appears the government is standing firm, believing that they can turn public opinion against the teachers. Interestingly enough Ready will still make non-binding recomendations that he beleives could end the dispute. Those recomendations will be interesting and at this time I have no idea what he may propose.

We will be commenting on here later today.

I will also be back to report on the CUPE walk out in support of the teachers here in Kelowna. A rally will take place at noon in front of "The Sails" downtown.

Eduaction dispute in BC could have been avoided

Is there anyone out there that really thought the education system would not become a political football under the Liberals.

It all goes back to day one of the BC Liberals reign in power. That was the day when they cut taxes. The cuts were made to stimulate the economy and make BC more competitive. It did one more thing, the cuts put a 2 billion dollar hole in the budget. With a government unwilling to go into debt, it gave them a solid reason to cut services and wages. If you make the pie smaller it only makes sense we all get a smaller piece of pie as a result.

With the BC Liberals however the pie pieces handed out from the now smaller pie were still as large as before if not larger for some segments of BC. The richest among us did very well and so did large companies. This left the government with an excuse that any 10 year could cook up in an easy bake oven. No money, we have to cut.

The first thing they did was rip up binding and legal contracts with workers. Think about this. The employer and employees sign a contract that says they will abide by it for a set period of time. The Liberals decided they did not like the contract so they wrote a law that eliminated some of the provisions of legal and valid contracts entered into in good faith. No government in BC has ever done that. It really matters little today to know that Gordon Campbell promised to abide by contracts freely entered into.

Some people are suggesting some public union contracts should be should be settled with a form of binding arbitration. That would remove the government from using its legislative ability to unilaterally rip up or set the content of an agreement. It would be fair, likely take into account the employers ability to pay and of course the employers requirements to deliver service.

The BC Liberals have entered into binding arbitration with several groups. In the case of crown prosecutors they not only did it twice, each time they refused to abide by the binding arbitration. The question to be asked is why the heck did they go through the exercise if they were going to go back on their word. What the heck did binding arbitration mean to them then or better yet, what does it mean today?

The Liberals have known for four years since they ripped up the last teachers agreement that they were in for a fight this time. The teachers knew they were in for a big battle. The Liberals thought passing legislation (Bill 12) extending the teachers contract another two years would push the teachers to strike and the public would rally around the government against the teachers.

After almost two full weeks of teachers being off the job, the government is recognizing that to date it has back fired on them. 57% of people polled supported the teachers a couple of days ago, up from 55% before the strike. The trend is going the wrong way. Now secret talks are going on between the government and teachers. They have a few people between them as screens but in the end it looks like the Liberals Plan A failed so they have gone to a hastily conceived Plan B.

My bet is the teachers are going to get a wage increase and class size language in their collective agreement. All of this could have been done without a strike if Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals had not thought they could hammer the teachers a second time and get away with it in the court of public opinion.

As for the teachers breaking the law there is no doubt they are doing that. As for the Campbell Liberals they see it like this, if we don't like a contract the government legally entered into, they will just write a new law saying screw the contract. Its abit like hiring the neighbour kid to baby sit for $5.00 and hour then coming back after your evening out and saying you don't like that so you have decided you are only going to be pay $3.50 an hour. You can only get away with that for so long, until you run out of kids that will work for you and friends that will let you abuse their kids like that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I am back, hope to see more of you all...

Watch this page in the days ahead. I have much to say but will do so every other day rather than the daily and sometimes hourly postings you saw here a couple of months ago.

do you need your fix right now...
Looking for something on the Campbell created education fiasco? Check out The Gazetteer who has been doing a good job of exposing the BC Liberal agenda. David Schreck always has some thoughtful and informative views as well at

I have been away working and frustrated by the Telus lockout of their employees. With a deal in place my internet dsl has been activated at my new residence here within the fabulous community of Rising Rutland in Kelowna. I no longer live in the Money Mission. Alas the lake is a little further away, yet even having been just 100 feet from it I only made it to the beach a half dozen times this year, when company came from out of town. One thing about Kelowna, you develop friends from all over.

So much to write about with the Campbell government's actions to date or better yet where they have failed to act. Forestry, education, healthcare, children and families, street crime, housing for the working poor, BC Transit, BC Ferries, Crystal meth use and treatment facilities and programs, and just what happened when Basi and Virk were working for Collins and Reid and just what was Christy thinking in Victoria when she was there and now that she is a loser in Vancouver.

Layton, Martin and Harper are back so that should be interesting. And municipal politics is warming up to be hot and fun in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Williams Lake, Vernon, Nelson, Surrey and a many more places, not to forget the right wing infighting going on in Langley these days.

Talk to you all very soon.