Monday, February 27, 2012

Implicit promises from Canada's leaders:

Robert Borosage wrote about Mitch Romney's objectives at Campaign for America's Future. The words were for Romney but, with a few changes, they are relevent to the few people who set Canada's public policy.

I believe that the rich have too little money.
And so, rich people deserve tax cuts, especially  those at the top.
I believe that Warren Buffett’s secretary should pay a higher tax rate than the wealthy
And so, rich people deserve low rates of taxes on wealth (capital gains, dividends, tax protected savings accounts, off shore earnings) while the country taxes middle income workers at much higher rates.
I believe that those blessed by being born to the wealthy few should inherit the earth
And so, eliminate estate taxes that only apply to the top 1% of families, insuring, if nothing else, that they won’t have to waste money on estate planning or be forced to move their money to offshore tax havens.
I believe that the world should be the oyster of corporations seeking tax havens
So would move to a “territorial” tax system, ending any taxation for profits earned abroad, giving corporations a staggering incentive to cook their books – or in CFO speak, do “transfer pricing” – to show profits abroad rather than here. Many companies are famed for aggressive use of tax havens.
I believe that Wall Street should be free to gamble with other people’s money, and you rubes are on your own
So forget about bank reform, consumer protection and other regulation that ensures competition.
I believe that the military has too little money
Military spending is now at record levels even though the Soviet Union is no more, Bin Laden is dead, and forces are down to chasing Internet pirates and bloggers. However, Lockeed Martin's financial needs are greater than ever so Canada should treat them generously by committing $25 billion or so for F35 fighter planes.
I believe that elderly workers have too much security and too much leisure
And so, while insuring that the heirs to the wealthy can remain idle, workers should labor for more years before they can retire.
I believe that our schools, water systems, roads, bridges, airports and transit systems, nutrition programs for children and community police get too much money and can do with much less.
And so, committed to balancing the budget while cutting taxes on the wealthy and shoveling money at needy corporations, we must embrace cuts in all domestic investment for over the next decade, insuring that core infrastructure will continue to decline, and pose an increasing threat to public health and to lives.
I believe children must play the hand that fate dealt them.
If they are the heirs to the rich, they live charmed lives. If they are born to the poor, they must rise above it. If born poor, that remains your lot in life. Accept it. Get over it. T.S.
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Neighbours should help neighbors

MSNBC reported on U.S. gas prices Sunday morning, discussing,
"a growing fear among Americans that gas could soon reach $5 per gallon."
My first thought was perhaps we can help our friends suffering from high oil prices.

My solution: Increase tar sands production. Ship more Canadian crude; build those Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines. Move more crude oil to help our suffering neighbours. Stop hoarding oil for the benefit of Canadians.

When a friend is in trouble, we do what we can to help. Right?

My second thought was to compare what Canadians pay for gas to those shocking prices faced by consumers in the USA. This graph is based on prices per US gallon, with Canadian and American dollars at par.

Gee, maybe Americans should be shipping crude oil northward, helping Canadians oppressed by the shortage of crude oil.

Apparently, we are the unfortunate people suffering with too few natural resources. Either that, or we've allowed crooks and thieves to convince us that black is white and white is black.
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Harper's now in a hurry

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."
~ Winston Churchill

Harper denies Conservative link to fraudulent election 'robocalls', By Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher, Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia News
...In response to a Postmedia News-Ottawa Citizen report that found an Elections Canada investigation has traced the robocalls to a call centre with Conservative connections, Prime Minister Stephen Harper denied his party was involved in the attempt to mislead voters.

"In this case, our party has no knowledge of these calls," Harper told reporters in Iqaluit. "It's not part of our campaign."...
Dirty Deeds..., Red Tory
...whoever was responsible for attempting to suppress the vote for the benefit of the Conservative candidates in tightly contested ridings required money, organization and voters lists. Doesn’t exactly sound like a formula for some obscure “rogue” now does it?...
The Gazetteer says,
I, like many others, including, I'm pretty sure, Ms. Malley ("how come his [Mr. Sona's] name was floated by all the usual suspects and conservative sources within five minutes after the story broke?") believe that Mr. Sona is being scapegoated here because, as Mr. Maher also said on the CBC this morning:

"This was not one kid with a robo-dialer"

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

BC Liberals reward friends

When Kevin Falcon presented his budget, corporate media cheerleaders turned immediately to the reliables for comment — people like John Winter (BC Chamber of Commerce), Jock Finlayson (BC Business Council) and Phil Hockstein (Independent Contractors and Businesses Association).

Vancouver Sun writer Jonathan Fowlie quoted John Winter as saying the budget is "very responsible." At the BC Chamber of Commerce website, Winter's organization had much more to say,
"The BC Chamber of Commerce today offers its support for this disciplined Budget 2012 which maintains spending increases at appropriate levels and protects taxpayers from future shocks.

"This prudent budget will relieve taxpayers from additional pressures and mitigates against external risk. The Government is to be commended for its responsibility in holding the line on spending and bringing a targeted approach to spending increases in the specific areas of health, education, justice and social supports."
Of course, John Winter, CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, knows how the game is played. If you treat friends well, there will be benefits.

So comments that Jonathan Fowlie reported in the Vancouver Sun were both predictable and pointless. When the Chamber of Commerce approves a targeted approach to spending increases, targets they have in mind are the Chamber and its members. As a matter of fact, John Winter's organization has been a substantial beneficiary of Liberal government spending in recent years. No doubt, much of this was reward for supporting the government's fight against citizens in the HST battles.

BC Liberals didn't end the taxpayers generosity with financing for John Winter's provincial organization. Local Chambers of Commerce are regular recipients of further grants of cash. By  looking through the Public Accounts reports, I listed payments in excess of $25,000 to various Chambers. It is obvious that Chambers of Commerce in communities with the foresight to elect BC Liberals had a considerably better chance of being offered a government grant. This is the list for the years ended March 31, 2010 and 2011.

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What will Canada be?

I wonder if evangelical christian Stephen Harper would agree with views of American fundamentalist Franklin Graham, the million dollar a year preacher whose father Billy began ministering in the Christian and Missionary Alliance church favoured by Canada's Prime Minster.

Stephen Harper seems at least to share the Graham belief that, beyond ensuring order and conformity, government should have little involvement in the lives of citizens. The agenda of Harper's Conservative Party is to restrict civil rights and limit public administration while ceding governance to business groups, unregulated markets and voluntary acts of individuals, institutions and interest groups.

Last year, Franklin Graham said this to journalist Christiane Amanpour:
“A hundred years ago the social safety net in the country was provided by the church. If you didn’t have a job, you’d go to your local church and ask the pastor if he knew somebody that could hire him. If you were hungry, you went to the local church and told them, ‘I can’t feed my family.’ And the church would help you.”
Star blogger digby had a different take in her piece Post Modern Serfdom:
"Charity robs the recipient of the dignity and personal liberty to which all people have a claim, rich, poor or in the middle. Using government to act as the safety net instead of the good will (or good mood) of those of means allows that. Citizen pays in, and someday, god forbid, if he needs some help, he won't have to kiss the ass of some rich busybody or self-righteous hypocrite who thinks he or she has a right to dictate his behavior on the basis of a couple of bucks."
Canada is drifting away from principles of justice and equity that made our society more humane than that of our neighbour to the south. In this province, the federal and provincial governments have acted to:
  • centralize authority while reducing the influence of parliamentarians and independent agencies;
  • degraded and threatened public healthcare and public education, not to reduce total expenditures or improve service but to increase profit opportunities for private enterprises;
  • restrict collective bargaining rights of workers while staying silent on dramatic escalation of executive remuneration;
  • rely less on progressive taxation and increasingly on user fees and other regressive taxation;
  • raise contribution rates and plan delay of retirement pensions for ordinary citizens while leaders enjoy double and triple dipping and more along with unrestrained expense accounts;
  • abdicate responsibility for ensuring environmental oversight and protection;
  • initiated constant negative campaigning and extensive political advertising paid for by taxpayers;
  • scorned reform of political financing while pocketing hundreds of millions from business groups that aim to influence policy directions.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The days grow short

From the brim to the dregs,
It poured sweet and clear,
It was a very good year.

It was a mess of good years.
(Ervin Drake)

Important contributions from independent journalists illustrate the diseased state of British Columbia's political environment. With her government polling under 30%, the powers behind Premier Photo-Op know their days grow short. That makes greedy people more dangerous.

Bob Mackin files a report that brings to mind BC's great train robbery. Are thieves in pin stripe suits about to uncouple more public enterprises and steal away in similar fogs of deception?

To me, involvement of Christy Clark mentor Patrick Kinsella in privatization of liquor distribution is prima facie evidence that taxpayers urgently need protection.

in What’s Paragon’s Lobbyist got to hide?, Ian Reid lays out another example that indicates the stink of political corruption involving BC Liberals and their closest friends.

In this case, the party that promised "The most open, accountable and democratic government in Canada" is fighting the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to keep documents from many years ago secret because T. Richard Turner believes these might harm his private interests.

Do Liberals care about  public interests?  Apparently not so much.

* * * * *

Additional reading: Key Clark Backer Lobbied for Firm Seeking Public Liquor Assets by Andrew MacLeod at The Tyee

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Our government exposes itself

"We will purchase the F-35. We’re on record. We’re part of the crusade. We’re not backing down."

— Julian Fantino, associate minister of national defence, Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 8, 2011.
Read more by Michael Byers

"There is no better friend to Israel than Canada. We shall always be there for you, and in front of you.”

— Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, expanding on "the crusade"
Read more at Toronto Star

Critics of a bill that would give law enforcement new powers to access Canadians' electronic communications are aligning themselves with child pornographers, Canada's public safety minister says.

"He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers," Vic Toews said of Liberal public safety critic Francis Scarpaleggia during question period on Monday, after Scarpaleggia asked about a bill expected to be tabled Tuesday.
Read more at CBC

"Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade...

"These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada's national economic interest..."
Canada's Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver.

"...violence by domestic issued-based groups remains a reality in Canada. Such extremism tends to be based on grievances—real or perceived—revolving around the promotion of various causes such as... environmentalism..."
Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, Building Resilience Against Terrorism: Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Liberals dig giant hole in future NDP budget

According to Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, B.C. will scrap the HST, return to the PST on April 1 2013 and repay $320 million per year to the federal government in each of the next five years to return the $1.6 billion transition funding provided by Ottawa.

According to Elections BC, the next provincial election is on May 14, 2013.

According to Angus Reid Public Opinion results issued this month, the New Democrats expand their lead over the governing BC Liberals, who drop below 30% for the first time since Gordon Campbell’s departure.

According to me, before departing the Liberals aim to squeeze out as much lucre as they can for their big business friends while the next government is left to fund revenue shortfalls.

Kevin Falcon will soon impose a 2012 budget and another before next year's election. The government will introduce new sales tax exemptions for business and other tax relief so corporations continue pocketing the almost $2 billion annual savings gained under HST. Of course, this moribund political party plans a scorched earth policy to make life difficult for the succeeding government.

I also note that Liberals have repeatedly claimed their hands were tied in matters related to scrapping HST but today they announced an increase in the B.C. HST rebate threshold, a move which is expected to save new house purchasers about $60 million in the coming year. So Liberal "hands are tied" in affecting HST transition, unless they decide their hands are not tied.

The only thing consistent about BC Liberals is the contempt they hold for citizens of this province.

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Canada too!

Will American Anti-Labor Policies Infect Europe?, Dave Johnson, Campaign for America's Future
The threat is in the air: "Shut up and take the wage cuts or we will move your job to China."

"...Workers in countries like China where people have no say have low wages, terrible working conditions, long hours, and are told to shut up and take it or they won't have any job at all. They are given no choice.

"Increasingly workers here have their wages, hours, benefits, dignity cut and are told to shut up and take it or their jobs will be moved to China. Because we are pitted against exploited workers in countries where people have no say, we have no choice.

"The unions are weakened, the government doesn't enforce or weakly enforces labor laws and regulations, age, gender or race discrimination laws, worker safety laws, so workers are placed in a terrible squeeze. Workers who try to organize unions are isolated, moved, smeared, fired, humiliated, whatever it takes..."
Michigan's Hostile Takeover, Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Mother Jones, February 15:
"A new "emergency" law backed by right-wing think tanks is turning Michigan cities over to powerful managers who can sell off city hall, break union contracts, privatize services—and even fire elected officials."
GM posts its highest profit ever: $7.6 billion, By Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer | Associated Press
"Just two years after it was rescued and reconstituted through bankruptcy and a government bailout, General Motors Co. cruised through 2011 to post the biggest profit in its history..."
Do record profits present an emergency?

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Pulses from the twitterverse

Lindsay Kines (Feb 9):
  • Glad to see the jury delivered its Vander Zalm verdict in court instead of on the Bill Good show.
  • Christy Clark appoints NW crime reporters to probe justice system and report back after the 1 o'clock weather.
  • Christy Clark opts for senior bureaucrat, instead of CKNW reporter, to assess likelihood of a teachers' settlement.
  • Could somebody please remind Christy Clark that she's premier of British Columbia, not a CKNW shill.
Gary Mason (Feb 13):
  • Thanks to livestreaming we can now see Bill Good now checking his ipad. What a new age radio host.
  • I can now announce that Prem Clark has agreed to reveal the budget in the Globe and Mail. We're thrilled.
  • It says something that some people thot I was serious about Prem Clark unveiling budget in the Globe. She never worked for us. Come on.
  • Boy, phone stackers aren't what they used to be. Where did the Libs find that guy who phoned in to @billgood980 show? He was awful.
  • I'm hearing that in a bid to shut him up, Prem Clark will name Alex Tsakumis her new press secretary.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Now Rebecca Scott is the only Press Secretary

I've made an issue of the conflict of interest CBC Legislative Bureau Chief Stephen Smart faces when reporting on Premier Photo-Op and her government while he shares pillows each night with Rebecca Scott, Premier Clark's Deputy Press Secretary.

Wayne Williams, News Director, CBC News British Columbia, said this in correspondence with me:
"Earlier last year, Rebecca Scott, now married to Mr. Smart, accepted a position in Premier Christy Clark’s office. But I should be clear about what her job is and what it is not. Yes, it is a political position. She is one of a number of press secretaries or assistants in the office whose principal job it is to advise the premier on constituency matters and prepare background briefing summaries for particular issues or upcoming events."
I told Williams that I was familiar with Press Secretary Chris Olsen but asked him to name the other press secretaries. Of course, there were no others. Williams did emphasize:
"at no time is she a point of contact for Stephen Smart."
I will ignore that unfortunate wording since the young couple has been married less than a year.

However, I do wonder if the firing of Press Secretary Chris Olsen Thursday changes anything for Smart and Scott. My dictionary defines deputy as a person appointed as assistant who serves as successor in the event of a vacancy. Since CBC defended Smart because his wife was "one of a number of press secretaries" but now she is the only press secretary, the broadcaster's already weak position has further deteriorated.

CBC has argued that no review or complaints about Smart's work noted examples of biased reporting. Critics such as the one you are reading pointed out that Smart's conflict might cause reticence in originating stories that reflect badly on his wife or her boss. Viewers expect the top CBC journalist covering BC's government would follow any lead diligently and without encumbrance. He must not be a me-too reporter repackaging PAB press releases.

Last week provided an example of CBC pulling punches on political coverage in a matter involving Scott. On February 9, The Tyee reported on an email sent to press gallery members by deputy press secretary Scott. It said,
"In place of a formal Throne Speech, the Premier will be appearing on CKNW’s Bill Good Show to outline the government’s agenda for the spring session, The premier will give a scrum to other media who are welcome to watch the interview at the CKNW studio..."
This message was quickly recognized as the wrong message.

Just about every news organization, as well as the twitterverse and the blogosphere, were quick to jump on the "in place of a Throne Speech" message sent by Scott on February 9. Some of the tweeting was delicious and devilish stuff from the likes of Gary Mason and Lindsay Kines.

All of the major media outlets were on this quickly, except for CBC. They took four days. Did CBC hold off on the story because it distressed Stephen Smart's wife?

That deserves an explanation from Wayne Williams and his boss Jennifer McGuire. Anyone care to ask?

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Radical policies for which no one voted

Rowan Williams is the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, an office that dates back 1,400 years. Often outspoken, occasionally radical, Williams served for one issue last summer as guest editor of the New Statesmen, a British publication with a long record of presenting alternative opinions.

In the magazine, Williams posed questions and sought answers about issues fundamental to democracy. These were not matters of partisan politics; the concerns are ones that should be discussed in all parties. Given directions that Stephen Harper's majority government is choosing, I think Canadians need a more active dialog about similar matters.

The Archbishop does not criticize specific policies of government but says politicians must do a more complete job of articulating objectives and creating reasoned debate. He wrote this:
"...With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted. At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context. Not many people want government by plebiscite, certainly. ...The anxiety and anger have to do with the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument.

"...If civil society organisations are going to have to pick up responsibilities shed by government, the crucial questions are these. First, what services must have cast-iron guarantees of nationwide standards, parity and continuity? ... Second, how, therefore, does national government underwrite these strategic "absolutes" so as to make sure that, even in a straitened financial climate, there is a continuing investment in the long term, a continuing response to what most would see as root issues: child poverty, poor literacy, the deficit in access to educational excellence, sustainable infrastructure in poorer communities (rural as well as urban), and so on?

"... But there is another theological strand to be retrieved that is not about "the poor" as objects of kindness but about the nature of sustainable community, seeing it as one in which what circulates - like the flow of blood - is the mutual creation of capacity, building the ability of the other person or group to become, in turn, a giver of life and responsibility..."
In this country, empowered by the parliamentary majority gained in 2011, Harper has shifted government priorities, putting the appetites of large scale commerce before other interests, industrial expansion over environmental stewardship, militarization over diplomacy, autocracy over egalitarianism and authoritarianism over respect for civil rights and freedoms. Traditional values of Canada have been degraded, supposedly to improve national security but certainly to provide gains for economic aristocracies. Most recently, rights to personal privacy are sacrificed allegedly over fears of online smut peddlers.

As Archbishop Williams wrote, with remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted. Nor have we had a broad discussion of issues before moving in this direction. On the contrary, Harper downplayed his moralist aims and spoke of moderate objectives and respect for individual rights.

The new country that Canada has suddenly become was noted recently in SLATE, an online magazine owned by the Washington Post Company, decidedly not an anti-establishment enterprise:
"It’s well known that America’s dependence on foreign oil forces us to partner with some pretty unsavory regimes. Take, for instance, the country that provides by far the largest share of our petroleum imports. Its regime, in thrall to big oil interests, has grown increasingly bellicose, labeling environmental activists “radicals” and “terrorists” and is considering a crackdown on nonprofits that oppose its policies. It blames political dissent on the influence of “foreigners,” while steamrolling domestic opposition to oil projects bankrolled entirely by overseas investors. Meanwhile, its skyrocketing oil exports have sent the value of its currency soaring, enriching energy industry barons but crippling other sectors of its economy.

"Yes, Canada is becoming a jingoistic petro-state.

"OK, so our friendly northern neighbor isn’t exactly Saudi Arabia or Venezuela. But neither is it the verdant progressive utopia once viewed as a haven by American liberals fed up with George W. Bush. These days Canada has a Dubya of its own..."
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Calle a spade by any other name then a spade"

FYI, Erasmus did the title translation long, long ago.
Bribery is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.
Enbridge offered B.C. first nations cash to study pipeline, Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
"Coastal First Nations executive director Art Sterritt said Monday his organization received $100,000 from Enbridge, but that didn’t translate into support for the company’s proposed $5.5-billion pipeline project.

"...Enbridge spokesman Paul Stanway said the money the company has provided to first nations to study the pipeline project does not come with strings attached and has nothing to do with the company’s attempts to reach equity-sharing agreements with first nations.

"...Burns Lake Indian Band Chief Al Gerow said the central B.C. nation, under a previously elected band council, accepted $60,000 from Enbridge to study the pipeline.

"...Mr. Sterritt said the Enbridge protocols with first nations could help the company in its bid to win approval for the project because they will likely be used in court or at regulatory hearings as examples of the company’s efforts to consult with aboriginals.

“They’re definitely out there trying to mark on the calendar that they’ve consulted and attempted to accommodate,” Mr. Sterritt said. “In the meantime, they get brownie points for trying to talk to talk to us and then they come along and make an equity offer and say we’ve accommodated them.”

"Prof. George Hoberg, an environmental and natural resource policy and governance expert at the University of B.C., said current Canadian law does not require that the government get the approval of first nations to proceed with Northern Gateway, but the law requires first nations to be consulted and accommodated.

"...Mr. Stanway said he wasn’t prepared to comment on concerns raised by the north-central B.C. Yekooche First Nation, who signed on with Enbridge for an equity deal last year. Now the newly-elected chief and council have called in lawyers looking for a way out.

"He said going public with the equity deals isn’t part of the package, even though a leaked copy of one of the agreements encourages the first nation “to participate in and support the Northern Gateway Project, through the regulatory process, during construction and throughout its lifetime of service to Canada’s energy industry.”

"...Last month, the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs of northwest B.C., voted to reject a $7-million Enbridge equity-sharing deal that lone Gitxsan Hereditary Chief Elmer Derrick signed on behalf of the chiefs.

"After Mr. Derrick signed with Enbridge last December, he was forced into hiding after band members nailed shut his office in Hazelton, posted a 24-hour watch nearby and put up Derrick-wanted posters across northwest B.C."
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Monday, February 13, 2012

A Good award

I think Alex Tsakumis's open message to CKNW's Bill Good deserves repeating. So, I repeat it:
"HUGE JEERS to Bill Good, the complete idiot that he is, who last night demeaned, through TWITter, a former NW reporter that was laid off recently from a Victoria station. The reporter, who brought NW some of its biggest exclusives in the last two years, was critical of the NW throne speech slated for this Monday, and instead of respecting the objection, Bill decided to attack this poor kid on a personal level referring to the guy as “bitter” and openly mocking him! A shameful response considering Bill’s FULL knowledge of the lad’s personal challenges, medical difficulties and his general lousy lot in life right now. So to Bill Good, ‘ASSHOLE OF THE YEAR AWARD’ without question. No one will be more insensitive to someone who’s suffering this year, so congratulations Bill you disgraceful fool. You’re a total jerk for pissing on a guy who is down and out–for now. Typical of a man whose massive ego and unbridled arrogance exceeds his pea brain by several magnitudes."
Read Alex's entire piece and hundreds of reader comments HERE.
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Mad about the girl

I discovered Adele in 2011, way behind most of the world. If you watched last night's Emmy Awards, you'll know her too. Sylvia Patterson, writing in The Observer in 2008, saw the light before most others. Patterson's profile seems perceptive, even three years later.
"Adele Adkins is a gobby, funny and extravagantly talented 19-year-old whose massive voice is going to make her the biggest singing star of 2008. And, no, she's not going to be the new Amy Winehouse..."
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Can this be true?

Premier Photo-Op says,
"We are committed to find ways of getting [labour] agreements but we are not going to ask taxpayers to pay more to fund them."
The BC Chamber of Commerce says,
"BC’s corporate income tax rates will be 10%, meaning it will have a combined provincial/federal rate of 25%, the lowest in Canada and joint lowest in the G8."
A representative of British Columbia's teachers says:
"Post-secondary students pay more in tuition than British Columbia's businesses pay in corporate income tax."
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No net-zero reality for IHA executives

In the blog article Failing healthcare managers still paid handsomely, I noted that average earnings of the top 10 people at the Fraser Health Authority rose almost $4,500 per month between 2008 and 2011, a cost increase of 21% to FHA.

Of course, in BC's healthcare system, bumps in the upper ranks are contagious. Even before examination of Interior Health Authority financials, I knew that treatment enjoyed by senior managers in the lower mainland would be similar in the region that spreads east from Princeton to the Alberta border and north to Williams Lake.

The IHA's top ten in 2008 averaged $231,000 in salaries and personal expenses. Three years later, average earnings of the top ten had grown to more than $281,000, an increase of 22%, remarkably similar to that at the Fraser Health Authority.

In reviewing salaries paid administrators, I noted a few individual situations that ordinary healthcare workers might consider unusual.

CEO Murray Ramsden retired voluntarily in 2009, He was not fired; he left with plaudits from his board and a pension worth about 10 times that of a typical hospital worker. Nevertheless, IHA provided an extra payment to him of about $200,000 on retirement. This wasn't a deferred payment scheme because, in the four years from 2005 to 2009, Ramsden's remuneration had grown by 32%, considerably more than the rate of increase enjoyed by most IHA workers.

Allan Sinclair saw his take grow by 50% from 2008 to 2011, Peggy Yakimov's rose 65%. Cathy Renkas, who handles public relations for IHA, received a 27% raise in 2009 and 27% again in 2010. In fiscal 2011, her remuneration was up more than 12%. (I'm told fiscal 2012 will show another large jump.)

Perhaps I should not complain about Renkas getting 80% more over three years because she's the one that has to explain why the region's healthcare workers must accept a net-zero reality.

If we are truly experiencing tough economic times — Kevin Falcon claims yes some days, no on other days — citizens must share the pain in equivalent style. Don't tell a floor cleaner that she gets almost nothing after the job she did for 25 years is contracted out while persons in the same industry wearing suits and ties receive retirement parties and six-figure severance cheques to accompany fabulous pensions, after only a few years.

Another note to consider when thinking about fair treatment for healthcare workers:
Since Merritt has one full time paramedic for 4 days a week, the busy and dangerous Coquihalla Highway is largely reliant on part-time ambulance personnel who might earn $2 per hour for at-home standby and $10 per hour for at-station. Murray Ramsden's retirement bonus was the equivalent of 12,500 paramedics sitting on standby for a day.
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Clark defines her BC Liberal Government

Christy Clark recently spoke to a gathering of her strategic advisers, including Gwyn Morgan, David McLean, Patrick Kinsella, Francesco Aquilini, Peter Wall and Tom Nellis. A spy tells me this was the central message of reassurance she conveyed:
“We're working harder than ever now because we earnestly believe we can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling our efforts. There's no end to what we can't do.”

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Rotten apples

In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad, By CHARLES DUHIGG and DAVID BARBOZA, New York Times
"...the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.

More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health..."

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

More not-net-zero reality

In the blog article Failing healthcare managers still paid handsomely, I noted that average earnings of the top 10 people at the Fraser Health Authority rose almost $4,500 per month between 2008 and 2011. That represented a cost increase of 21% to FHA, indicating generosity that surprises, considering the difficulties FHA has had in delivering efficient healthcare.

The provincial government is demanding regular employees observe a "net zero reality." However, for people near the top of the public salary pyramid, there is no such policy.

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority provides additional evidence that no austerity applies to the province's executive offices. One example involves Chief Operating Officer Mary Ackenhusen who moved from Fraser Health to VCHA in 2007. Between 2008 and 2011, Ackenhusen's earnings rose from $185,000 to $305,000. In 2009, she got 33%; the following year another 7.5% and in 2011, a further 15.5%.

In 2011, CEO Dr. David Ostrow, after his second full year in charge, scored an 11% increase. CFO Duncan Campbell took home a one year increase of 14% in 2011 (20% over two years). VP Patrick O'Connor's increase in 2011 was 11% (23% over two years).

After harsh and niggardly treatment of paramedics and the obvious preparations toward imposing zero-increase contracts on teachers, nurses and other public servants, generosity to the province's highest paid employees demonstrates that increased economic inequality in British Columbia is a philosophical goal of the Liberal government. That is further proven by the gradual elimination of progressive income taxation in favour of higher user fees, greater sales taxes through extension of HST, increased recycling charges, higher medicare fees etc.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Hello Premier Photo-Op

Ten Habits of Incompetent Managers, Margaret Heffernan, Fast Company
  • Bias against action: There are always plenty of reasons not to take a decision... People who don’t make mistakes generally don’t make anything. ...A good decision today is worth far more than a perfect decision next month. Beware prevaricators.
  • Secrecy: ...Very few matters in business must remain confidential and good managers can identify those easily. ...Secrets make companies political, anxious and full of distrust.
  • Over-sensitivity: An inability to be direct and honest with staff is a critical warning sign. Can your manager see a problem, address it headlong and move on? If not, problems won’t get resolved, they’ll grow. ...Interestingly, secrecy and over-sensitivity almost always travel together. They are a bias against honesty.
  • Love of procedure: ...rules and processes exist to expedite business, not ritualize it. Love of procedure often masks a fatal inability to prioritize -- a tendency to polish the silver while the house is burning.
  • Preference for weak candidates: ...You must always hire people smarter than yourself.
  • Focus on small tasks: ...It was all displacement activity to hide the fact that she could not do her real job.
  • Allergy to deadlines: A deadline is a commitment. ...You can’t celebrate milestones if there aren’t any.
  • Inability to hire former employees: ...Every good manager has alumni, eager to join the team again; if they don’t, smell a rat.
  • Addiction to consultants: A common -- but expensive -- way to put off making decisions is to hire consultants who can recommend several alternatives. While they’re figuring these out, managers don’t have to do anything. And when the consultant’s choices are presented, the ensuing debates can often absorb hours, days, months. Meanwhile, your organization is poorer but it isn’t any smarter. When the consultant leaves, he takes your money and his increased expertise out the door with him.
  • Long hours: Bad managers work very long hours. is probably the single biggest hallmark of incompetence. To work effectively, you must prioritize and you must pace yourself. The manager who boasts of late nights, early mornings and no time off cannot manage himself so you’d better not let him manage anyone else.
Any one of these behaviours should sound a warning bell. More than two -- sound the alarm!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

RCMP change not welcome after all

Almost two months ago, I wrote Rewarding incompetence and stated my hope that, under its new leader, RCMP had turned a corner toward an era of accountability and respectability:
"That [William] Elliott's tenure was a costly failure is made clear by comments to the Globe and Mail by his replacement, new Commissioner Bob Paulson:
"Admitting to a culture of bullying and a legacy of botched investigations, the Mounties’ new commander says his police force faces obsolescence if it doesn’t get its act together – and quickly.

"RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says his mandate is to “clear-cut” problems that have taken root so deeply in the police culture that some Mounties are now embarrassed to tell neighbours where they work. Speaking to The Globe and Mail editorial board after a month on the job, he gave an assessment of internal dysfunction so candid that similar remarks would be almost unthinkable coming from the head of any other corporate or government entity..."
"Commissioner Paulson's frankness is both unusual and refreshing. Certainly Canadians are not surprised by anything Paulson said but they might be surprised at his directness and honesty. He is making clear to his members, and the public, that real change is necessary, that platitudes are inadequate. It is a good start down what will be a difficult road."
Paulson may remain dedicated but commitment to solve deeply rooted problems is not shared by his managers in British Columbia. Apparently, they believe that real change is unnecessary and platitudes are adequate. Honourable RCMP members in British Columbia will still be embarrassed to disclose their employers to neighbours.

CKNW's Charmaine de Silva reported to Jon McComb today on the review board conducted by three senior officers examining misconduct of Staff Sergeant Travis Pearson. In a manner that suggests nothing has changed from the worst days of corrupt and incompetent leadership, RCMP closed its official eyes to very serious allegations against Pearson, including lying to a superior and abuse of authority. Instead, the contemptuous review board imposed an inconsiderable slap for misusing police equipment.

One of the Staff Sergeant's prey, a female constable, likely faces discharge, essentially for having raised allegations against a more senior officer. Susan Gastaldo is not Pearson's only victim but you can be sure that, while the Staff Sergeant is given a tiny slap now, eventually, taxpayers will be given a giant financial whack when 100 or so women recover damages in an out-of-court settlement, probably secret, in the class action suit that claims systematic discrimination and abuse.

CKNW provides a a short written report about today's news HERE but I recommend listening to de Silva's conversation with Jon McComb through the audio vault at 4:35 pm February 9. The review panel held that an "appropriate officer" failed to pursue more serious charges against Pearson before they were barred by the force's 12 month limitation but the panel does not name that person. Nor does it note other similar complainants against the Staff Sergeant.

Handling of the Pearson case is similar to many others involving the police force where unconscionable procedural delays resulted in dismissals or stays of prosecution. Last October, a Prince George judge stayed a case against three RCMP officers charged with multiple driving offences and eluding police. After more than 20 court appearances, citing unreasonable delays, the judge threw out all charges.

That is merely one situation of many involving inappropriate behaviour affecting members and civilians, ranging all the way from discourteous behaviour to assaults and homicides. RCMP, like military style police forces everywhere, are quick to adapt arms, armour and technology and painfully slow to develop and maintain satisfactory relations with the public it serves. Police management pays lip service to the need for a sincere partnership with the public but too often forgets that good public relations is based on deeds, not words.

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Failing healthcare managers still paid handsomely

Doctors vow to take back Royal Columbian ER, Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun, February 7, 2012
"Emergency-room doctors at Royal Columbian hospital served notice to administrators Monday they will no longer assess patients in hallways or other areas with insufficient privacy and equipment to do a thorough examination.

"The doctors' statement comes as the Fraser Health Authority convenes a panel of outside experts to weigh in on what can be done to address the frequent overcrowding plaguing the region's two busiest hospitals, Royal Columbian and Surrey Memorial, despite a strategy introduced last fall to address it."
Problems within the Fraser Health Authority are so unyielding that six consultants are now to be tasked with finding a solution to overcrowding that has faced the region's hospitals for years. The unfortunate fact for taxpayers is that while paying consultants to hunt for solutions, we'll continue to pay indulgent salaries to FHA's entire management crowd, the people bewildered by long-standing problems.

In British Columbia, most public servants are told that pay raises are "out of touch with the net zero reality." That message is repeated by the Liberal Party's media shills but the phrase never gets said in the boardrooms of government agencies or crown corporations.

Fraser Health Authority is a good example of the double standard. In 2008, the FHA's top 10 earners averaged $250,950 in remuneration and personal expenses. Three years later, that average had grown to $304,775, a 21% increase that amounts to an extra $4,485 monthly on average. Compare that to the treatment of paramedics in British Columbia.

Staff expense amounts show another example of a double standard. Numbers clearly demonstrate that senior management have been disciplined in controlling expenses of ordinary employees but comparatively undisciplined with their own. These graphs are prepared from information contained in FHA annual reports. They are self-explanatory but of course the number of employees earning below $75,000 is far more than the number earning above that amount.

In addition to generous salaries, high level executives are provided with near unconditional severance agreements. Those deals result in massive payouts, even if the individual begins work immediately in another government funded organization. Robert Smith, for example left Lions Gate Hospital with a huge settlement, worked elsewhere, including for Vancouver General Hospital, until he was hired as CEO of Fraser Health. He was fired again with another six-figure settlement and soon joined UBC's Sauder School of Business. Compare that to treatment of a contracted-out cleaner discharged after 25-years with little more than good wishes.

Fraser Health has had six CEO's in the last decade: Pat Zanon, Lynda Cranston, Robert Smith, Keith Anderson, Betty Ann Busse and Nigel Murray. In the fiscal year of 2009, Anderson, Busse and Murray were all drawing salaries, a total that soared over a million dollars for the three of them.

Friends take care of friends. That, unfortunately is how BC Liberals conduct business today.

By the way, CBC News did not present this information. They continue their record of unbiased reporting.

* * * * * * * *
See also More not-net-zero reality
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BC Liberal motto: Be Prepared

A REPLAY from March 1, 2011

ER doc takes a coffee break
CBC News item:
Staff at Royal Columbian Hospital near Vancouver were forced to turn the facility's Tim Hortons outlet into an emergency room on Monday night because of a shortage of beds.
Deputy Premier, Minister Responsible for Small Business, Finance Minister and Health Minister Colin Hansen said the coffee shop was designed to be used by New Westminster’s Royal Columbian Hospital when unusual numbers of people show up at the emergency room. Hansen added,
"This has worked out very well for us. Tim Hortons is committed to offering patients nutritious and great tasting food choices and their variety of bagels, croissants, cookies and of course donuts, make a perfect snack or special treat anytime.

"We are exploring many new possible locations for the company but expect the next will be in the BC Legislature because architect Francis Rattenbury provided for a fast food outlet in his original baroque revival design."
Dr. Sheldon Glazer, ER physician at Royal Columbian Hospital, says
"Seeing patients in Tims Hortons was an improvement over treating them in hallways."
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Monday, February 6, 2012

I-RO-NY [ ahy-ruh-nee ]

The REPLAY below from September 2010 seems particularly relevant after Jonathan Fowlie exposed the story of HST pamphlets going from printer to shredder by the truckload. The original waste is bad. Worse is demonstration that unprincipled politicians will throw good money after bad if there is a chance to hide embarrassing mistakes. That resulted in government fighting the Vancouver Sun for 19 months, aiming to prevent public release of printed material that had been prepared at public expense for public release.

Despite Liberals paying Premier Campbell assistant Allan Seckel over $860,000 and helper Martyn Brown more than $650,000 in the year ended March 2011, no highly rewarded numbskull considered that mailing a province wide promotion of HST might violate the Recall and Initiative Act while a supervised anti-HST effort was underway. Having an early draft of the pamphlet rejected as inappropriate by Elections BC was not enough. These dopes continued, rewriting then printing 1.6 million worthless copies. Then they worked for almost two years to hide their own sheer stupidity from public view.

Despite long experience, I'm still astounded by the hypocrisy and reckless extravagance of BC LIberals. Dishonest self-promotion goes on today in their campaign claiming a jobs strategy is first priority. Unfortunately, they don't explain the jobs they are worried about their own and those of their friends. Clearly, Liberals under Campbell and Clark believe they can say anything while doing things completely different.

IRONY - the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.

Read the rest at The Common Sense Canadian.   Thank you Rafe!

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Uncomfortable parallels

While a mere teenager when Richard Nixon was elected to a second term, Stephen Harper had found a mentor. A few decades later, empowered by a majority in parliament, the now Canadian Prime Minister is putting early inspirations into action.

Nixon spent his early years working as an ardent anti-communist and red-baiter. However, when the unprincipled politician sensed an opportunity for personal aggrandizement, he organized an eight-day television extravaganza in China, calling his visit, "The week that changed the world." Of course, it was little more than America's acceptance of the 23-year old outcome of the Chinese civil war.

Harper too spent his early years in politics looking for reds under beds, railing frequently against socialism, taxation, medicare and offences to fundamentalist social values. After Rob Anders called Nelson Mandela "a communist and terrorist," Harper said the Calgary MP was a true conservative and faithful supporter.

However, when China came looking to spread billions among Canadian energy magnates — the patrons providing financial muscle to Harper throughout his political career — Canada's Conservative leader was keen to facilitate Chinese efforts. Suddenly, sending North America's natural resources to fuel the already massive Asian economy became a Canadian priority. When dealing with energy exports, Harper reworked an old Mackenzie King line so that it came out, "Not necessarily pro-communist but pro-communist if necessary."

In part of another parallel, Nixon kept American soldiers in southeast Asia to conduct warfare that had little value or purpose for U.S. citizens. Years later, Harper behaved similarly, stationing young Canadians in Afghanistan to kill and be killed until his government ended combat action there after losing interest in the war, despite a record number of Afghan civilian deaths in 2011. Injured taxpayers along with families of dead and wounded Canadians are left to wonder if this war is not worth fighting now, was it ever worth fighting.

When bothered by opponents, Nixon's administration promised in writing to “use the available federal machinery” to make trouble for “our political enemies.” By that, the White House meant the Internal Revenue Service, which had a unit of special service staff that had been investigating critics of Nixon and his policies.

Writing about recent actions and warnings to environmentalists and other dissidents by the Harper Government, Rafe Mair disclosed an analogous threat to him by the Conservative Party of Canada. Mair recalled the situation in Enbridge, Harper and Consequences for Speaking Out:
"Did Prime Minister Harper threaten Tides Canada with “consequences” if they didn’t stop funding supporting campaigns - specifically that of ForestEthics - against the Enbridge Pipeline project?

"ForestEthics says so, which is enough to have all Canadians, no matter what their stance on this issue or others, demand the Prime Minister make it clear that all Canadians, subject to the Criminal Code of Canada, have a constitutional right to say what they please on all issues, big and small – without consequences.

"I have had experience with this. Back in 1992, when the Mulroney government was shoving the Charlottetown Accord at us, I was one of a very few people in the media that was opposed and said so with a passion.

"One day my “mole” in the Conservative caucus – and at the same time a national media person – told me that Mulroney was going to retaliate against me by having me face a tax audit. I went on the air the following morning and reported this on the hope that this would discourage such a threat. Whether it worked or not I cannot say – I can say that no such audit was ordered."
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Comparing football and baseball

In an event that proceeds so slowly, it may not end until next week, America celebrates couch potatoes and gladiators. It is a good time to remember George Carlin:

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Friday, February 3, 2012

REPLAY: Liberal plan of action

Reader Lorne Finlayson provided this to us a year ago. However, he didn't indicate when the change would take place. Is the time growing close?

Being in either a realistic, or pessimistic state of mind this morning - take your pick - I foresee the following events unfolding for this benighted province:
  • Kevin Falcon is elected new leader of the BC Liberals, after making a back room deal with Christy Clark who will become the new Lieutenant Governor. His selection is lauded by the BC Chamber of Commerce, The Fraser Institute, Chartered Accountants Association, the Sun, the Globe and Mail and Phil Hockstein who are pleased that the forward looking policies put forward by BC's "Greatest Premier" will be carried on. 
  • In his first press conference, featuring only Vaughn Palmer and Keith Baldry and broadcast on Bill Good's program, Falcon declares that the budget deficit is the biggest problem facing the province. With that in mind, the civil service will be cut by 20%, all new hires will not be union members but will be allowed to show their initiative free of those terrible union contracts that cost the taxpayer so much. Present provincial employees, including those employed by school districts, such as teachers, will be required to contribute 15% of their wages and salaries to a special deficit reducing fund, and those who are retired will have their pensions cut by 10% and be required to pay for all benefits, the savings of which will go into the aforementioned fund. 
  • These bold moves are applauded by the Media, the Fraser Institute and the Chamber of Commerce. 
  • Subsequently, all middle and upper management are awarded 50% pay raises, as well as a month's paid leave, in order to reduce the strain of carrying out the necessary cuts to the civil service. The Canadian Taxpayers Association "regrets" these increases, but can see their need in times of crisis. 
  • The Campbell privatization of BC Ferries having been such a resounding success, Falcon announces the privatization of BC Hydro, which will be sold to the highest bidder, thus freeing the taxpayers from the burden of Hydro debt. A consortium lead by General Electric and Keiwitz Construction win the bidding. In making the announcement  of the winning bid, Falcon awards the consortium a 20% increase in hydro billing, to cover the "cost of transition". 
  • The New BC Hydro announces that it will now be allowed to build the Moran Dam, damming off the Fraser River up in the Canyon.
    • This will supply electricity to California who need it to power their electric cars.
    • When tenders are let, only non-union construction companies are selected. They pay such low wages that tradesmen must be brought in from Mexico and Bulgaria. The NDP, in typical gutless fashion, decry the conditions that these workers are forced to live in, even the barbed wire and guards that protect them from  corruption in the fleshpots of Williams Lake and Boston Bar, but says it " understands the need"
    • On the podium, when the project is announced, is the Premier. Also, we see David Suzuki and Zapora Berman. These environmental leaders applaud the foresight of the Premier and New BC Hydro in providing green energy to California. Unexplained are the sudden increases in the amounts in their Swiss bank accounts. 
    • To quell the whining of the environmental crowd over the loss of Fraser River sockeye, the Premier tells them to get with the times, that farm fish can supply the market and that a fish ladder will be built to allow enough fish to the Shuswap to keep the eco-tourists happy. 
  • The Premier announces that the Lower Mainland has been declared BCs Growth Future. No more will moneys be spent on the hinterland and that those who choose to live there can look after their own roads, social welfare, schools and so on.
    • Exceptions would be Vancouver Island south of Campbell River, the Okanagan and certain areas of the Kootenays close to the Alberta border. There, monies will be made available to entrepreneurs for the building of luxury condos, gated communities and golf courses to attract wealthy retirees .
    • Logging will be further curtailed in the hinterland. Displaced loggers will be re-trained as computer programmers. In Prince George,David Suzuki and Zapora Berman are pleased to make this green announcement, then hop into their helicopters to flee the displeasure of the howling loggers, dinosaurs who somehow believe they are entitled to earn an honest living. 
    • The Premier announces that BC Liberal supporters in the Lower Mainland will be given rides to work, from their doorsteps, in chauffered limos. David Suzuki and Zapora Berman applaud this green initiative, pointing out that this will help conserve dwindling supplies of fossil fuels and spare these forward looking citizens from the indignity of sharing space with the unwashed in those smelly buses.
The NDP, under a new leader who no one knows, or cares about, announce that they are opposed to all of this, but say so in a genteel manner, for they really don't want to upset anyone. In the subsequent election they are reduced to four seats, but declare this to be a moral victory. The hordes of their advisors, backroom operatives and other hangers- on who give timidity a bad name are forced to find other employment. McDonalds and Wal-Mart are flooded with resumes.
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Talking tough, empty words and empty head

Is there anything more laughable than a politician trained in nothing providing direction to executives of the province's $14-billion dollar monopoly insurer. Speaking to ICBC, British Columbia's chief law officer "delivered a firm reminder that there has been a public backlash to recent revelations about compensation for Crown executives."

In the past, we've seen that words fall easily from the mouth of Shirley Bond. Her main qualifications for government was service as a small city School Trustee and the backing of mentor Doug Walls, then a troubled Prince George car dealer who was also a relative, friend and confidante of Gordon Campbell, at least until Walls was convicted of fraud, the point at which the Premier could no longer remember knowing him.

In one of the sad injustices of the Campbell regime, the leader imposed Walls on Minister of Children and Family Development Minister Gordon Hogg, identifying him as a valued ally who was to be kept comfortable. Shirley Bond assured Hogg that she had great confidence in the man's ability and his integrity. Oops. When Walls left in disgrace, Hogg also took the fall, despite being the politician least involved in this corruption. He continued to be elected and his colleagues provided recognition by selecting Hogg to chair the Liberal caucus after they gave Campbell the bum's rush.

Remember when Shirley Bond cracked down on the brass at BC Ferries? Expect about the same when it comes to ICBC.

Who knows if the A.G. ( I wish I were joking with that title) actually believes what she says. Perhaps she thinks that wagging her finger in the press is how one leads a complex operation. It didn't work with BC Ferries but, maybe it will work with ICBC. We'll see.

One thing is certain though. Bonuses will be paid. Think about it. They're running a monopoly insurance company selling liability insurance that every driver in the province must buy, by law. They can set rates at whatever level it takes to earn a profit but even that is irrelevant because the ICBC accountants have reserves for reserves and they can even defer their deferrals and come up with a paper profit. It's a well practised art where they build wiggle room into wriggle room.

Of course, you say, executives don't earn full bonuses unless they meet their targets. That brings forward a simple question. Who set the targets? Well, the executives who take home the bonuses set the targets. It works the same way at PavCo where the top folks earn regular bonuses despite unending financial losses from operations. Amazingly though, they always make their targets.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Don't miss The Real Story

Ian Reid poses questions about the sale of BC Rail, among them is BC Rail: who knew what, when? Don't miss Ian's series.

Like many other deals constructed by the BC Liberals of Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark, the railway sale has the corporate media wearing ear plugs, blindfolds and big fluffy mittens. Hear no evil, see no evil, report no evil.

The head of CBC News defended her conflicted Legislative Bureau Chief on the basis that nothing he has reported appears to be biased. Of course, the questions she did not ask were about what he fails to report.

The three stooges of CKNW's Friday mornings have been telling us repeatedly not to worry about BC Rail; it's an old story with no wrongdoing ever proven in court. Once more: hear no evil, see no evil, report no evil.

Through a rather convoluted connection, I occasionally hear news from the BC Liberal caucus room. I know there are good people there suffering from divided loyalties. There has been anger and disappointment over the way BC Rail has been handled, from the crooked sale itself to the lengthy and costly cover-up. Most particularly, a number of MLA's, watching their own political ambitions swirling around the porcelain bowl, are bitter about Campbell, Kinsella, McLean, Brown, Mahoney and others skating off with fat rewards.

The trouble these weak kneed politicians face is they can gain nothing from standing up now and admitting truth. That would guarantee the swirling stops and Liberal prospects are flushed away forever.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Questions about oily business aims

Good thing we have The Tyee and other independent media. If we did not, politicians and industrialists would have an unrestricted pass to conduct business in ways that best line their own pockets.

Corporate journalists, traditional defenders of public interests, hive themselves away and belch nonsense extolling a de-regulated system where the wealthy few get wealthier and fewer, while the rest of us fall further behind

Andrew Nikiforuk, an independent journalist who owes no favours to the oil industry, is certainly not idle or hived away. This week in The Tyee, Nikiforuk asks eleven important question about unrestrained tar sands development:
  • 1.   Why aren't some oil sands revenues being set aside for future Canadians?
  • 2.   Are we harming our democracy?
  • 3.   How do we prevent 'Dutch Disease' 1 from eroding vital parts of Canada's economy?
  • 4.   Have you examined the geopolitical risks of tying our fate to China as superpower?
  • 5.   Are we boarding an economic roller-coaster that could crash?
  • 6.   Why aren't we taking a strategy that would directly shore up our own energy security?
  • 7.   Why raise fears about charities whose foreign funding is a tiny percentage of what China invests in Canada's economy and politics?
  • 8.   Does becoming more oil rich mean we also will become more militarized?
  • 9.   Have we abandoned commitments to lower carbon emissions to help prevent catastrophic climate change?
  • 10. Why not refine it here, creating jobs and lowering risks?
  • 11. Were you elected to hasten pollution and increase cancer risks for Canadians?
1 Primarily associated with a major natural resource extraction, it results from a rise in foreign currency that affects price competitiveness, meaning movement of manufacturing jobs to lower cost countries and increased imports. Non-resource industries are damaged by resource-based industries.

Visit The Tyee and read through the brief analyses that underlie Nikiforuk's questions.
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