Thursday, May 31, 2012

Capital punishment, without process

A video was released this week showing the ugly homicide of Vancouver citizen Paul Boyd. If you consider the video offered any new information, reconsider.

This was written almost 18 months ago by David Eby, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association:
"Shot seven times and crawling, disarmed and bleeding, along Granville Street, Paul Boyd had a final 23 seconds of life before he was shot fatally in the face by a Vancouver Police Department officer. The bullet entered his face, and went into his heart, killing the well-respected animator instantly, and ending a confrontation that was witnessed by more than 50 civilians, one of whom described the August 13, 2007 shooting as an “execution.”

"Boyd’s death has proven meaningless, with no official response to retrain police generally, or at least the shooting officer, no improvement in mental health services, and yet another failure of police self-investigation, with the true details of the shooting only becoming public at the coroner’s inquest two weeks ago, years after the shooting.

"...One of the responding officers didn’t pull his gun, not seeing any threat in front of him that couldn’t be contained with a night stick and other non-lethal weapons. Another officer pulled his gun and started shooting when Boyd didn’t respond to his commands.

"Civilian witnesses who testified at the coroner’s inquest were uniform in agreeing that Boyd was on the ground when he was shot the final time. The witness who described the shooting as an “execution”, Jonathan Menzies, wasn’t called to testify. One police witness agreed with the civilians, saying Boyd was on all fours and disarmed for the final shot. The pathologist supported this version of events, saying the bullet track could only be explained by Boyd being shot from overhead while looking into the sky, crawling on hands and knees, or in a posture where his torso was parallel to the ground, looking up.

"Amazingly, none of the seven shots that hit Boyd before the final shot were immediately fatal, and in fact, the pathologist was of the opinion that Boyd had a reasonable chance of surviving all of the first seven shots. But the last shot, that came after twenty-three seconds of reflection and assessment of the threat by the shooting officer, while Boyd crawled along the ground, was the fatal one..."
This week, Mr. Eby blogs:
"The OPCC had all of the information the video showed, appeared to accept it as accurate, and still couldn't find any issue with the police officer's conduct. Now the same conduct shows up on a video, and they can't wait to have the file re-opened.

"Stan Lowe, Police Complaint Commissioner on March 19, 2012 [Pre-video]: "There does not exist clear, convincing and cogent evidence that establishes on a balance of probabilities that Constable Chipperfield used unnecessary or excessive force during this incident."

"Rollie Woods, Deputy Police Complaint Commissioner, on March 19, 2012 [Pre-video]: "We are saying there was no misconduct."

"Stan Lowe, Police Complaint Commissioner, on May 29, 2012 [Post-video]: "I have personally viewed the video and support the decision to re-open the investigation of this tragic incident."

"There's no doubt it's the right decision. But let's not pretend it's because there's all kinds of new information in this video. It's because the public is paying attention...:
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Examining the status quo

If unlike me, you are not ancient, listen to Simi Sara at CKNW's audio vault, May 31, 1 pm, to remember how excellent talk radio can be. This is broadcasting that explores why things are the way they are instead of simply excusing the status quo.

Simi talked to Paul Palango, a consistent and accurate RCMP critic over many years. Police leaders have arrived and departed with almost nothing changing but Palango has been consistent and sincere about the need for change and the ways to improve policing.

Today, RCMP honcho Paulson and Justice Minister Toews (doesn't he look like someone who needs a chauffeur to get home safely) promise reform, admitting that existing processes have not worked. These are the same processes that Palango has exposed again and again as inadequate, while "justice" managers worked to discredit him.

Again, we're expected to believe that current legislation is inadequate to manage the national police organization. Commissioner Paulson is warning that even more bad news is coming soon.

The people telling us they are powerless to make things better are the ones responsible for legislation that defines the police force.

Strange? Of course.

Dishonest? Of course.

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Diversions, deflections and misdirections

While business advocacy groups such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and pablum peddlers like Corus Radio's Bill Good criticize TransLink, these small distractions enable wealthy participants in the economy to divert real money from all of us, rich and poor.

British Columbia's energy policies provide the best illustration.

The following information rich item was offered as a comment here on Screw the needy, our money goes elsewhere and I repeat it in a featured place. I also encourage readers to add the commenter @trivcap to Twitter subscriptions. BTW, I've not paid direct attention to Robyn Allan's work but I respect the admirable work she is doing. I wish more independent professionals had the courage to speak out in similar fashion.
"Probably the most significant impact of both Enbridge exporting tar sands oil and BC LNG exports is that these exports to Asia are going to also increase oil and natural gas prices paid by Canadian and BC consumers. These extra costs to Cdn/BC consumers are not factored into the studies submitted by the project sponsors.

"Robyn Allan, the former president of ICBC, retired, and also an economist, has done great work picking apart the Enbridge studies, the LNG studies, etc. You may not be surprised to know that, for eg, in the case of the 5 studies done on Enbridge, most rely on the same flawed statis input/output econometric models (so different authors, same info/conclusion, according to Allan; the quality of work seems about equivalent to the frauds we used to seek out to short in my old job). You can find her work at She also gave a great video presentation that is online somewhere...I cant find it right now. She's worth talking to if you havent already.

"After I saw Allan's work I got in touch with my Lib MLA to ask whether the government had done any studies to determine whether BC natural gas prices would increase as a result of the LNG exports. It took more than a week, but the office emailed me back and say that their studies show BC natgas prices could increase 11%. I was surprised they admitted even that.
"I think it's a gross understatement of the potential price increase: the 3 export licenses are for 3 bcf/day, which is three times BC's current daily consumption (our natgas market is continental, but there are regional contraints that make it so that natgas is not as fungible as gasoline; ie these exports will affect BC most directly), so we're talking enormous - 3x domestic consumption - export quantities.
"Second, I believe there's a fairly good chance that the shale gas boom is a bit of a ponzi scheme -it will flame out, or will not achieve the kinds of production forecast by the producers (see for eg Chesapeake Energy and its recent problems - Rolling Stone has done great work in the company's a bit of a Canary in a coal mine as the largest lease holder of shale properties).
"Third, Asian prices are approx 3x-5x higher than BC/North America natgas prices; arbitrage will create tremendous upward pressure on domestic prices in BC; fourth...given the enormous planned increases in oil sands production, which is to a large degree reliant on natgas as feeder fuel, there's a huge built in domestic increase in natgas demand; finally, conventional natgas production has peaked in both the US and Canada (years ago)....the only reason we're going after the shale is that's what's our shale gas production has to grow not just to supply export markets but also to replace 5%-10% steady declines in our conventional natural gas production - it's a touch challenge, and one we're unlikely to meet. It's all a recipe for unimaginable disaster - underused export infrastructure, higher prices for natgas across BC and higher oil prices across Canada.

"@trivcap on twitter

"ps: i'm sorry if you're already well acquainted with Robyn Allan. I cant remember where i got connected to her work...I apologize if it was here but a quick search didnt show a reference to her. Also apologize for the run on's late and Im tired. Cheers. Great work!"
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Who's next?

Could my spouse, one of my good citizen sons or daughter, one of six grandchildren or I, or you, be shot dead by Vancouver Police Constable Lee Chipperfield, or any one of many VPD perverters of justice, because all believe, for good reason, bad reason or no reason, that we've threatened them by crawling unarmed on the ground, near death, already shot at 8 times at close range and mortally wounded by those bullets?

Well, if we are, our families will still be wondering, five years later, if a new (?) inquiry will examine the right or wrong of the homicide. Maybe though, people should not worry since the chief of any execution squad will do the right thing and he'll support any number of new and old inquiries conducted by his professional associates.

And that new inquiry, or re-inquiry, might take five years more but will result in the same excuses and absolutions.


Not in my world. Jailing the perpetrator and the enablers would be reasonable. In my world.

However, the world does not operate this way.

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Thanks people, thanks

Tens of thousands of thanks actually.

We're about to finish one more month setting readership records.

Already 348% 353% of May 2011. And, the month is not over.

I hope you appreciate me the way I appreciate you.

By the way though, the subscription price is up by 11% this year. Sorry, that's just the way business works today.

However, if you don't like what you've paid so far, we'll double the money back.

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Screw the needy, our money goes elswhere

"...complicit in a complex web of legal, administrative and political strategies designed to forward a multi-billion dollar infrastructure development program to enrich the largest most profitable companies on earth at the expense of our Province's autonomy, economy and environment..."
Does this describe BC's Liberal government serving the people who elected it? Yes, if the people managing and funding a political party deserve its service and primary attention.

Kevin Logan is writing a series at The Common Sense Canadian. Please don't miss it:
Part of the infrastructure program described by Logan is to be served by planned expansion of BC Hydro's power capacity. Even the provincial utility admits that much of the next decade's new capacity will flow to large scale industrial projects, most in the oil and gas sectors.

Those include LNG facilities that will allow mostly foreign owned gas producers to earn higher prices exporting British Columbia's non renewable hydrocarbon resources to Asia. The energy export business is the single most significant reason for now developing Site C dam on the Peace River. LNG producers don't want to make their own power, they want BC Hydro consumers to provide it, and subsidize its provision.

Decades ago, the provincial utility was an important part of job creation in BC. However, when pulp, paper and sawlog mills operated, they gave back jobs in return, regular jobs, good jobs. Not a few, but many. Industry today employs more microcircuits than humans so the public subsidy equation needs adjustment. Right?

The Liberal policy determines that BC's domestic power consumers today will pay much more for electricity so that multinational oil companies, highly attuned to exports, can empty provincial hydrocarbon energy reserves, earn high profits and send that cash out of province as well.

That way, when our grandchildren ask why British Columbia had to become importers of gas and oil resources, they can hear that it didn't happen by accident. Grandma and grandpa even paid for the privilege while Premier Photo-Op's "advisors" - like Gwyn Morgan and Pat Kinsella - watched with smiles on their faces.

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The voters' choice: People's Order of BC winner

Meet salmon farming's worst enemy: a determined biologist, Craig Welch, Seattle Times, May 26, 2012

"...It was Morton who stunned U.S. scientists last fall with trace evidence found in wild salmon of a virus that killed millions of farmed fish in Chile.

"Researchers from Washington state to Washington, D.C., scrambled to grasp the risks of so-called infectious salmon anemia (ISA), a virus typically linked to fish farms. Congress demanded federal agencies test American fish. Wild-salmon lovers seethed. Leaders of British Columbia's $500 million-a-year salmon-farming industry scoffed — in part because they so distrust Morton.

"Then, just last week, another virus raced through salmon farms at Vancouver Island and Bainbridge Island, forcing operators to kill hundreds of thousands of farmed fish on both sides of the border..."

Additional reading:
Canada kept detection of salmon virus secret, Seattle Times, November 2011
Why fish virus spooks scientists, Seattle Times, November 2011
B.C.’s Animal Health Act makes sickness a secret, Mark Hume, Globe and Mail, May 2012
Four former ministers protest ‘taking the guts out’ of Fisheries Act, Mark Hume, Globe and Mail, May 2012
B.C. law to ban information on farm outbreaks, Ethan Baron, The Province, May 2012
And the People's Order of BC Winners Are..., Geoff D'Auria,,, October 2011
H/T John W.
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Serving humankind

Christine Lagarde, scourge of tax evaders, pays no tax, Kim Willsher, The Guardian, May 29, 2012
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Government - for people or for business?

Provincial legislation passed last week paves the road further toward construction of the controversial Jumbo Glacier ski resort and real estate development in the East Kootenay. It has sparked indignation and even a bit of rebellion among local governments in the Kootenays.
They are baffled to see that an area can, by provincial fiat, become a municipality before anyone even lives there.
"Ridiculous" is how Gerry Taft, the mayor of Invermere, describes the new state of affairs...
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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Volunteer photo person?

I'm planning a series that compares fast food products advertised and fast food products delivered to Canadian consumers. I need the skill of a photographer so that good photos are done fairly. Or, is that fair photos, done goodly?

I'd like to pursue other food subjects too. If you're a person who shares these interests, willing to work for the typical rewards of online journalism (unpaid experience), email me HERE

This is an illustrative example from an American site.

Most of us realize that food items displayed in advertising are perfect, made to look that way by numerous operatives using numerous techniques. Food as advertised may not be what we expect on our plates but we assume there should be a degree of similarity.

I decided to pursue this after a recent visit to Vancouver's Au Petit Chavignol, a place that offers unusual commitment to best quality foods, cheeses and wines. We've directed our younger generations to events by Alice and Allison Spurrell at the related les amis du FROMAGE, knowing the untutored will enjoy wonders of cheese as soon as they discover the very broad range of tastes available.

On a recent visit, I enjoyed a $12 cheeseburger at Au Petite Chauvigol. SHMBO had a plate of unusual cheeses and exotic deli selections. She couldn't finish it, but I could.

Pricey. Maybe. But wow. This was the best burger I've yet set my fat fingers upon. The high qualty beef, chopped in house, had been barely touched before hitting the grill. It was perfect; more than perfect, if that's possible. Additionally, the bun put me in mind of soft and crispy choices from the era of Nat Bailey. (Toigos advertise secret sauce but buns were the real difference.)

A short while before, I tried A&W's premium "Angus" burger. Apparently, it was prepped in an Alberta hockey puck factory, immediately before a mass recall. A&W's advertising focused on great photos but their store delivered shit on plates.

At the White Spot, I joked with the server and asked if my plate would look like the mouth watering version on the specials brochure, complete with large, succulent chunks of seafood. She said, 'Of course." She was wrong. Actually, not by much.

I admire the White Spot, a company that has reinvented itself frequently and been a good example of community enterprise. (I credit that to my contributions as one of pre-teen Peter Toigo's soccer coaches).

Nevertheless, I'd like assistance from a reader to have a playful look at fast food, I've taken my little digital camera into the field but the operator seems to produce items that are below a fair standard for publication.

If you have photgraphic skill and desire to earn nothing, send me a communication at

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Full cooperation with the law

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Advance of fascism

Perhaps my concern in an earlier blog post about trending toward fascism missed an important proof.

In July 2010, the chairman and cofounder of the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms, provided an example of how the dreaded condition threatened oppressed billionaires who face a risk, a small risk, of losing freedom from tax rates imposed on their maids and butlers.

Stephen Schwarzman was addressing board members of a nonprofit organization when he let loose. Schwarzman said of the struggle with the administration over increasing taxes on private-equity firms.
“It’s a war. It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
More reading: Egos and Immorality, Paul Krugman, New York Times, May 24, 2012
"...If Wall Streeters are spoiled brats, they are spoiled brats with immense power and wealth at their disposal. And what they’re trying to do with that power and wealth right now is buy themselves not just policies that serve their interests, but immunity from criticism...

"In fact, overall business productivity in America grew faster in the postwar generation, an era in which banks were tightly regulated and private equity barely existed, than it has since our political system decided that greed was good...

"Those are, however, questions that the wheeler-dealers don’t want asked — and not, I think, just because they want to defend their tax breaks and other privileges. It’s also an ego thing. Vast wealth isn’t enough; they want deference, too, and they’re doing their best to buy it...

"Think about where we are right now, in the fifth year of a slump brought on by irresponsible bankers. The bankers themselves have been bailed out, but the rest of the nation continues to suffer terribly, with long-term unemployment still at levels not seen since the Great Depression, with a whole cohort of young Americans graduating into an abysmal job market..."
H/T (again) Susan H.

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Rewarding friends, jailing opponents

Again in 2012, Alexandra Morton was not awarded an Order of BC. Perhaps she is not sufficiently distinguished or perhaps she failed to offer financial support in the way others of this year's recipients have done.

Alexandra is not entirely left out though. BC Liberals do have plans for her. Unfortunately, the plans involve a jail cell. She wrote this (and more) in the Alberni Valley Times:
"...the B.C. Liberal government are trying to pass legislation to put me in jail for talking about disease in these farms, but until then lets have a little honesty here.

"In March, Minister McRae, who is behind the legislation to outlaw disease reporting, said US and Asian legislators wanted to close their borders to B.C. farm salmon because of the ISA virus positive tests, which government and your Norwegian industry refuse to acknowledge. I have gone on to do more testing at the top labs in the world.

"If Mainstream is "not hiding anything" why did they refuse to allow the First Nations biologist to have two of your fish for testing.

"Let's see the sequence data on this virus. Give us some proof of what virus and strain of virus is in the fish on that side hill overlooking Alberni Inlet.

"Threatening me is not going to help their image, nor stop these viruses from spreading.

"Now a second farm is IHN positive on the other side of Vancouver Island. If IHN outbreaks were natural in the B.C. marine environment, Mainstream wouldn't be killing half a million fish."

Please visit Alexandra Morton's website and drop a few dollars in her fund to track viruses affecting coastal fisheries. This is work the federal government refuses to do because they don't want to know the true results of scientific inquiry
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Salute democracy while suppressing it

In British online news magazine The Week, Alexander Cockburn gives his take on America. Had he turned eyes north, the American based writer would have noticed similar trends in Canada.
"...if there's any nation in the world that is well on the way to meriting the admittedly vague label of 'fascist', surely it's the United States...

"Attacks on collective bargaining are pervasive. Big money's grip on both parties ensures corporate control no matter who's nominally in charge. Fascist regimes show open contempt for democracy... We salute democracy while suppressing it.

"A fascist regime is the sworn foe of the right to assembly, 'unauthorised' marches and encampments...

"A fascist regime spies obsessively on its citizens. Study US laws on secret surveillance since the Patriot Act and you will find procedures that would have been the envy of the East Germans.

"Ultimately a fascist state claims the right to imprison its victims without term or hope of redress or legal representation. As the executive power, in the form of the president, it claims the right to kill its enemies, whether citizens (Awlaki) or others (Guantánamo), without judicial review. In other words, rule by decree - which is what Hitler's Enabling Act won him in March 1933.

"We live in a fascist country - 'proto-fascist' if you want to allay public disquiet, though there's scant sign that most Americans are disturbed by the trends..."
Further reading: to squash voter suppression lawsuits, Ottawa Citizen,
"...the Conservative Party of Canada has moved aggressively to try to shut down a series of lawsuits seeking to overturn the election of seven other Tory MPs.

"The party filed a 750-page legal brief on Tuesday night, complete with highly political denunciations of the Council of Canadians, the citizen advocacy group sponsoring the challenge of election results.

"The motion is based on an obscure and ancient legal prohibition against “champerty and maintenance” ...

"The motion {calls Council of Canadians] national chairperson, Maude Barlow, a “professional agitator” and “virulent critic” of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"The motion, from Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton, even assails his opposing counsel Steven Shrybman..."
Quebec students mark 100th protest day
Acts of minor treason

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pollution monitors kicked out the door

What would your choice be? Would you provide chauffeurs on standby 16 hours a day so that every cabinet minister could avoid the shame of riding in a taxi but still return home without risk of impaired driving charges? Or, would you divert that money to employ scientists who monitor ocean pollution?

From The Times Colonist:
"When University of Victoria PhD student Marie Noel decided to study the effects of contaminants on marine mammal health, she thought she was a assured a long marine biology career without pink slips and redundancy notices.

"...The 29-year-old student is still in shock that her mentor, Canada's only marine mammal toxicologist at the Institute of Ocean Sciences on Vancouver Island, is losing his job as the federal government cuts almost all employees who monitor ocean pollution across Canada.
This happens despite news reported by The Province: B.C. prepares for Fukushima fallout to arrive in 2013
"March 11, 2011 earthquake and the tsunami that followed it began washing up on B.C. shores and more is predicted to arrive.

"As much as 20 million tonnes could make it to B.C. according to University of Hawaii scientists, who predicted last year that the debris would arrive here in 2014. The latest estimates are that significant amounts of material will arrive in 2013..."
Additional reading courtesy of Andrew Nikiforuk and The Tyee.

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Coleman regulates the 'independent' regulator

if we needed more evidence that BC Hydro has become the tool of financial pirates, Rich Coleman provided it Tuesday with news that public hearings scheduled to begin a month from now are cancelled. As Vaughn Palmer writes,
"The commission had to approve the rate increase sought by BC Hydro in every respect, as set out in a 1,500-page application.

"Capital budgets. Operating costs. Rates of return. Amortization. Forecasts, even for such inherently volatile exercises as trading electricity with neighbouring jurisdictions.

"...There was also this: “The commission may not reconsider, vary, or rescind the orders it issues except on the application by the authority.” The authority being BC Hydro — and yes, that means the regulator is bound hand and foot to do the bidding of the very utility it is presuming to regulate..."
There you have it.

Are you concerned about BCH purchasing power it does not need, high prices paid for electricity generated by private companies in public rivers while BCH turbines sit idle or about smart meters costing 240% more in BC than in other jurisdictions?


Be patient though, the clock is counting down on opportunities remaining for Rich Coleman, Pat Kinsella and friends to loot the province. The election that will send Christy Clark's gang to oblivion is only 51 weeks away, unless they decide to change that law as well.

Additional reading courtesy of Ian Reid at The Real Story: BC Hydro + crony capitalism = you’re screwed

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Liberals legislate silence from environmentalists

Virus sparks quarantine on B.C. salmon farm, Curt Petrovich, CBC News, May 17, 2012
"B.C.'s salmon farming industry is on high alert after the discovery of a lethal fish virus [Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis (IHN)] at one farm on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

"The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has quarantined the farm at Dixon Bay, north of Tofino. Mainstream Canada, which runs the operation, says it will destroy its entire stock of 560,000 one-kilo-sized salmon, to prevent the disease from spreading..."
Under amendments planned by BC Liberals, this CBC report would be illegal and environmental guardians like Alexandra Morton would be silenced. BC fish farm producers, nearly all Norwegian, have already used the courts to silence critics. The new laws are to provide greater certainty that critical voices can be eliminated.

Fish farm opponent faces 2nd B.C. defamation case, Canadian press / CBC, January, 2012
"His [Don Staniford] outspoken criticism has earned him an appearance at the Supreme Court of B.C. on Jan. 16 where he must defend himself against allegations from Mainstream Canada, the province's second largest salmon farming company, that he defamed the organization.

"The case could cost him $125,000 if he loses.

"The defamation case is the second Staniford has faced in the province since 2005 and the third major legal fight of his 18-year international campaigning career.
Now, fish farms are using political influence with BC Liberals to rewrite provincial laws in their efforts to stop Morton, Staniford and you and I from exposing the risks of their operations.

B.C. law to ban information on farm outbreaks, Ethan Baron, The Province, May 22, 2012
"B.C.'s Liberal government is poised to further choke off the flow of public information, this time with respect to disease outbreaks. The Animal Health Act, expected to be passed into law by month's end, expressly over-rides B.C.'s Freedom of Information Act, duct-taping shut the mouths of any citizens - or journalists - who would publicly identify the location of an outbreak of agriculture-related disease such as the deadly bird flu.

"A person must refuse, despite the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, to disclose . . . information that would reveal that a notifiable or reportable disease is or may be present in a specific place or on or in a specific vehicle," Section 16 of the Act reads..."
The seriousness of this situation was demonstrated to me in an email from Alexandra Morton:
"Last night Anissa and I went to observe the offloading of the OCEAN KING mort packer for Mainstream. They are moving the viral infected fish through the most productive wild salmon waters of the west coast of Vancouver Island - Alberni Inlet, avoiding every fish farm. There was no containment around the vessel as they pumped, the trucks were dripping bloodwater as they drove to the nearby Land, Earth and Sea "organic" composting facility between China Creek and Port Alberni. There is concern this will leach directly into the Inlet. People do not understand why this facility was used and not the much more secure mass mortality compost facility in Parksville. These fish should be removed before the next big rainfall.

"We contacted Local First Nations who were not notified. DFO was called but they were not visible on scene, the mayor showed up but did not speak with me. The boat left and will presumably be back late today.

"We have posted videos at Salmon Are Sacred facebook page and a posting on my blog

"So folks this may be the last chance the people of Canada have the opportunity to be vocal about highly infectious diseases in Norwegian feedlots, leaching into BC. Christy Clark, premier of BC is taking us into Dark Ages. Mainstream is telling the world I breached quarantine at the dock, but there was none when we arrived and once there was I never stepped inside...
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Add to your bookmarks

Keep your eyes on 2010 Gold Rush - News and Views on Vancouver 2010 (And Beyond) From Bob Mackin. On Twitter, follow hashtag #LiquorLeaks as Bob reports on Liberal friends maneuvering to take over the province's lucrative liquor distribution system.

Don't expect corporate media to follow this story. They will duplicate non-attention paid to BC Rail and BC Hydro, ignoring early alarms and reporting only when evidence of malfeasance is too much to be ignored. What better example than The Vancouver Sun finally disclosing that BC Hydro turbines are idle because the utility,
"is forced to buy from IPP operators, including big industrial ones such as Rio Tinto Alcan and Teck Resources, even as its own generation stations wait on standby."
Environmental groups and Independent commentators (all those with significant followings ) have been raising the underlying issues for years. BC Hydro had been turned into the handmaiden of financial pirates, at enormous future cost to consumers. Did Postmedia newspapers take any form of leadership during the looting of BC Hydro? Not at all. Their purpose is about serving Canada's plutocracy and, when there is conflict, the public interest is ignored.

Coverage of BC Hydro (and BC Rail before) demonstrates the future of investigative reporting. Journalists will remain important but the delivery media they use is changing. Single investigative writers, people like Bob Mackin and Alex Tsakumis, will be the sources of information that makes wrongdoers uncomfortable. Organizations such as The Tyee will report words from people outside British Columbia's social and financial establishments.

A terrible void though remains with objective national and international coverage. While new media grows in importance, being locally focused, it is ill equipped to address larger stories. Those of us using the Internet to comment on regional issues take pride in growing readership but I, for one, would happily trade that in for a vibrant, independent press that would aggressively cover news without pandering to partisan financial and political interests

The Reconstruction of American Journalism, Leonard Downie, Jr. and Michael Schudson, Columbia Journalism Review, Oct/2009
"Fewer journalists are reporting less news in fewer pages, and the hegemony that near-monopoly metropolitan newspapers enjoyed during the last third of the twentieth century, even as their primary audience eroded, is ending. Commercial television news, which was long the chief rival of printed newspapers, has also been losing its audience, its advertising revenue, and its reporting resources."
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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Say, what?

In making consumer choices, most of us don't have time for careful sorting of fact from fiction. As a result, we rely on sources presumed to be accurate and free of bias.

For years, I've subscribed to and relied upon non-commercial Consumer Reports for general guidance. In the last decade, for food and cooking related subjects, I've paid attention to Christopher Kimball's intensely commercial and very successful enterprises: Cooks Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Country, etc.

Any trust I placed in the Kimball empire was challenged by misinformation broadcast today on WGBH, the most important supplier of PBS network programs. The subject was salmon, wild and farmed, and America's Test Kitchen's expert was Ian Davison of Constitution Seafoods, Inc. of Boston MA. He said this,
"Wild salmon, comes from the west coast of U.S., usually costs a lot more...
"Also, wild - I don't know where it's been. It has a higher chance for PCBs and mercury than the controlled environments of farm raised salmon..."
I'm suspicious when a putative expert speaks with certainty about any controversial subject and this is a prime example. The statement from a person marketing farmed salmon seems particularly egregious, especially when the claim is broadcast nationally by PBS. It is directly opposite to findings in a peer reviewed paper published in SCIENCE under the title Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon. It includes this finding:
"...Having analyzed over 2 metric tons of farmed and wild salmon from around the world for organochlorine contaminants, we show that concentrations of these contaminants are significantly higher in farmed salmon than in wild. European-raised salmon have significantly greater contaminant loads than those raised in North and South America..."
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Friday, May 18, 2012

J'accuse - BC Hydro, plaything of fraudsters

BC Liberals and their media surrogates regularly accuse BC's NDP governments of responsibility for "skyrocketing spending and debt." Not that it matters to Liberal supporters, but we can determine if the aspersion is based on fact.

Exhibit 1: Graphs of BC Hydro debt guaranteed by taxpayers, taken from Ministry of Finance debt summaries:

It seems that facts don't support myth. Remember, this does not include commitments made by BC Hydro to purchase future energy from private power producers. That amounts to tens of billions of dollars - money that will be paid by consumers.

Exhibit 2: Graph of energy purchase commitments, taken from BCH audited financial statements:

Consider if these numbers demonstrate a change in purpose behind BC Liberal policy. When they first formed government in 2001, I believe they had the well motivated objective of modernizing government and having it operate efficiently.

For example, BC Liberals claimed that NDP failure to create a business plan before starting the fast-ferry program was proof of inept management. They said that future program spending would be subject to careful consideration and effective controls. (In 2012, Liberals refuse to release any business plan that relates to the planned disposition of LDB assets.)

However, at some point, greed and arrogance became the driving forces behind Liberal policy. The enrichment of insiders became paramount and the favourite target was BC Hydro. In 2010, with Gordon Campbell losing his grip on power, the restraints came off.

Read more on BC Hydro by clicking here and scrolling through many Northern Insight articles.
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From Doug Pyper

Hi Friends,

I just sent a message to Premier Christy Clark recommending that the Government of British Columbia inform the Government of Canada that the province is now exercising its right, with 30 days notice, to subject the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project to an environmental assessment under the terms of the provincial Environmental Assessment Act.

Can you join me and send Premier Clark a message too?

Save our beautiful province and our pristine coastline from the devastation of oil spills...similar to the ruin of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico recently.

Thousands of jobs in our fisheries, eco-tourism and related industries are at risk!

The Enbridge pipeline project will provide less than 100 full time jobs for British Columbians. That's the truth...plain and simple!

The current Liberal Government is taking no stance on protecting our rights, our province and our future.

Click here to take action:

Thank you!
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

More from the Not-Net-Zero folks

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Using police to suppress political opponents

RCMP conducted five-month national security probe into leaked F-35 story,
Murray Brewster and Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press, May 16, 2012
"The Harper government called in the RCMP to investigate a politically embarrassing story ...claiming it was a breach of national security,

"...The first RCMP member to review the allegation on July 8 was mystified as to what the issue might be.

"...The RCMP closed its file in November 2010, but was forced to 're-activate' the case and 'investigate further'

"...It took Mounties in charge of the case two-and-a-half months to get their hands on an actual copy of the [Government's complaint] letter, which had been 'kept at the commissioner's office.'

"...Wesley Wark, an expert in security and intelligence at the University of Ottawa, said he was concerned by the revelations in the file. He described the probe as a misuse of not only the RCMP, but of the security legislation, one of the most serious laws on the book.
" 'This has the whiff, well more than a whiff, of a politically inspired move,' said Wark.

" 'The complaint was coming from an odd place, an admittedly senior place within the government. The fact the clerk would ask the commissioner to do this is in of itself very unusual.'

"...'There are a number of things at work here that are troubling, quite apart from what appears to be the silliness of the exercise in the first place and the waste of resources,' said Wark.

" '...The Security of Information Act doesn't exist to be used for politically inspired chill.'
Connections with Britt's examination of the F-Word:
  • 4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism...

  • 6. A controlled mass media...

  • 7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints...

  • 12. Obsession with crime and punishment...

H/T RossK, The Gazetteer

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From May 2012: Lady Christy can sink no lower

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Evidence of corruption mounts

Economist Erik Andersen, writing at The Common Sense Canadian, contemplates why BC Hydro
"indulged in its aggressive contracting with Independent Power Producers in BC when domestic demand increases are non-existant."
I suggest you read through Andersen's material, then consider whether or not a small number of corporations, enabled by Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals, scored what might be the largest fraud in Canadian history, malefaction that will amount to billions of dollars over time.

Ruination of BC Hydro could only have occurred by thoroughly planned subterfuge or mismanagement of epic scale. I believe the experience of David Cobb provides a strong clue that the former is true, not the latter.

Cobb had been a highly respected executive before appointment as BC Hydro CEO, a position he left after only 17 months. Many believe that Cobb was unhappy that government interference prevented him from addressing serious problems. An internal conference call among BC Hydro staff disclosed Cobb's position about Liberal government strategy related to BC Hydro,
"If it doesn't change, it would be hundreds of millions of dollars per year that we would be spending of our ratepayers' money with no value in return..."
Indeed, Cobb's prediction has come true in 2012. BC Hydro is forced to purchase high cost private power while it shuts down its own generators and spills water from its reservoirs. Electricity they could have produced at almost zero marginal cost is replaced in the power grid with power costing hundreds of millions. Erik Andersen explores the financial destruction of British Columbia's public utility. Don't miss the article linked at the top.
"Let’s take a look at the record. In 2000 total assets were $11.596 billion; by 2011, assets had ballooned to $19.479 billion. In 2000, total liabilities were $9.320 billion; by 2011 they too had ballooned to $16.599 billion. If one were to add the yet-to-be-collected amounts held in the “Regulatory Assets” accounts (money we owe as ratepayers) that BC‘s Auditor General discovered, BC Hydro would be negative equity, more liabilities than assets.

"Had there been a matching increase in demand it would make some sense but in the chart below you can see that has never been so. For several years the unanswered question has been: How could financially literate people steer our crown corporation on such a perilous course? The enormity of this financial fiasco places the prized assets of BC citizens directly in harm's way with no credible explanation as to why."
This store still operating with new proprietor
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Parenting, North Carolina style

North Carolina Pastor Encourages Parents to Use Violence on Effeminate Children
"Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male."
Preacher Sean Harris told dads to make sure their little girls don't get "too butch" and to dress them up and perfume them "like girls" and make them objects of attraction. No doubt, the little ladies should be properly dressed as well.

Forbes offers a great observation in North Carolina Pastor Sean Harris Urges Parents To 'Man Up' And 'Punch' Effeminate Children
"It’s hardly surprising that the ugly rant of Pastor Sean Harris, the senior pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, is going viral online.

"The wonderful thing about the combination of the internet and free speech is that when someone says something really ugly and horrifying, their words are called out. We don’t need to clamp down on speech like this through any legal means. The best disinfectant is sunlight, as the saying goes, and social media is the best sunlight we have when it comes to hateful speech.

"These days, people can’t simply preach to the choir, as it were. The whole world is right there listening on YouTube and passing it around Facebook and Twitter. Pretty soon your violent sermon is being mocked and scorned across the digital empire. Good thing, too, because Harris’s words deserve condemnation..."
An interesting point of view was expressed recently in the New York Times, Homophobic? Maybe You’re Gay:
"...some who oppose homosexuality are likely to be individuals struggling against parts of themselves, having themselves been victims of oppression and lack of acceptance. The costs are great, not only for the targets of anti-gay efforts but also often for the perpetrators..."
Might that tell us something about Pastor Sean Harris? Will he become #16 on Top 15 Anti-Gay Activists Caught Being Gay
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$1.28 billion over the next four years


A. Dix: My question is to the Minister of Energy. The government's energy policy has stripped away B.C. Hydro's ability to capitalize on the high water flow as we're experiencing this spring. As a result, our public utilities are being forced, as a result of the government policy, to pay massively inflated rates for power.

Would the Minister of Energy acknowledge that the government's energy plan and the government's energy policies are going to cost taxpayers dramatically now and in the next few years?

Hon. R. Coleman: No, I won't acknowledge that, hon. Member.

Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition has a supplemental.

A. Dix: Well, the minister…. You know, maybe in a 1970s British sitcom it makes sense to buy power at $60 to $100 and sell it at 20 cents to $17.60, but it certainly doesn't make sense for the people of British Columbia. The government's policies are costing taxpayers — according to Marvin Shaffer, $1.28 billion over the next four years. That's the cost of them overpaying for power.

Can the minister at least explain, can he suggest, or can he confirm one way or another, whether B.C. Hydro will be spilling power over the dams, spilling water over the dams, without generating electricity?

Hon. R. Coleman: You know, there are year-over-year fluctuations of water. I know that he isn't aware of that maybe, necessarily, or knows that sometimes it affects one year versus another.

Hansard, May 14, 2012

Be sure to read my Sunday piece: Taxpayers carry financial risks for IPPs

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Evildoers prefer secrets stay secret

Sins of colonialists lay concealed for decades in secret archive, Ian Cobain and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, Apr. 18, 2012
"In June 1957, Eric Griffiths-Jones, the attorney general of the British administration in Kenya, wrote to the governor, Sir Evelyn Baring, detailing the way the regime of abuse at the colony's detention camps was being subtly altered.

"From now on, Griffiths-Jones wrote, for the abuse to remain legal, Mau Mau suspects must be beaten mainly on their upper body, 'vulnerable parts of the body should not be struck, particularly the spleen, liver or kidneys', and it was important that 'those who administer violence … should remain collected, balanced and dispassionate'.

"Almost as an after-thought, the attorney general reminded the governor of the need for complete secrecy. 'If we are going to sin,' he wrote, 'we must sin quietly.'

"More than 50 years later, with the imperial endgame long over, evidence of those sins remained quietly concealed in a secret archive within one of the British government's most secure facilities. Set deep in the Buckinghamshire countryside and surrounded by 16ft-high fences topped with razor wire, lies Hanslope Park, home of Her Majesty's Government Communications Centre..."
Some Bay of Pigs history to remain secret, Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
"A federal judge has ruled that the last volume in a CIA history of the Bay of Pigs invasion that was written more than 30 years ago and 51 years after the ill-fated Cuban mission should remain secret.

"...The CIA successfully showed release of Volume V “would harm the deliberative process,” making it exempt from disclosure under FOIA, Kessler said in her opinion.

“'The idea that the CIA can advance the cause of accurate historical analysis by hiding history from the peer review of the public is preposterous,' said Peter Kornbluh, director of the National Security Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project."
"Children love secret club houses. They love secrecy even when there's no need for secrecy." - Donna Tartt
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Monday, May 14, 2012

When they don't care about the answer

Jack Knox column: Students show the way to a fair hearing, Times Colonist, May 13, 2012
"...This is what all of Canada could use right now: a listening competition.

"Had B.C.'s Liberals listened to British Columbians instead of ambushing them with the HST, Gordon Campbell would still be running the Belleville Street Rockpile, not living in exile in London.

"Chastened, the Liberals made a big to-do last week about consulting us on when to hold the new Family Day holiday - nice, though you get the feeling they only asked because they didn't care about the answer.

"They should ask how we feel about the Northern Gateway pipeline. Lord knows the Liberals haven't mustered the gumption to come up with an opinion of their own...

"There's no uncertainty about where the federal Conservatives stand: Stephen Harper has made it clear he wants the project. He has also made it clear he doesn't like the taste of dissent...

"It's one thing to disagree with an opponent's opinion, another to prevent that opinion from being heard. The Conservatives have launched a pretty aggressive smear campaign against the environmental groups that oppose the pipelines.

"Instead of debating the issue on its merits, Conservatives have tried to bully the enviros into silence, threatening their charity status and accusing them - without presenting evidence - of "laundering" money from foreign eco-groups hell-bent on influencing the Canadian agenda (apparently, the Asian corporations pumping tens of billions into the oil patch aren't foreign)..."
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Taxpayers carry financial risks for IPPs

In Kleptocracy: rule by thieves, I repeated news that BC Hydro spent $676 million with private power producers. Through idiocy or corruption, the public utility has been forced to buy electricity it did not and does not need, some of it at prices five times market. Taxpayers' irrecoverable losses could reach $500 million in 2012 alone.

Presently, the Pacific Northwest has more electricity than can be used in the region or transmitted to California. "Over-generation" results from American wind energy producers and other private sources and because many large consumers - pulp and paper mills, sawmills, shipbuilders, smelters and other industries – are gone. In this province, private producers have priority, so BCH must shut down their own equipment and spill water unused from reservoirs. South of the border, the Bonneville Power Authority curtails private power instead of shutting off turbines and spilling excess water over the dams.

Smart, connected private power producers knew the possibility of oversupply so they got others to take the financial risks. The others were delivered by Gordon Campbell and BC Liberals. It was us, taxpayers and consumers of electricity.

BC's Energy Independence? Don't Believe It, Will McMartin, The Tyee, May 31, 2012
"...[Blair Lekstrom, Liberal cabinet] minister, moreover, thinks it's "tremendous" that small businesses -- even those with little experience and virtually no capital -- are competing against larger, more experienced electricity providers to obtain long-term supply contracts from BC Hydro, the province's publicly-owned utility giant.

"It all sounds great, doesn't it? Self-sufficiency. Entrepreneurial risk-takers. Why, you can't get more small-town that that.

"Except, it's all a sham. British Columbia under Gordon Campbell's BC Liberal government has become increasingly dependent on non-B.C. owned corporations to produce high-priced electricity, which BC Hydro is forced (by government edict) to buy, and in turn sell at inflated prices to captive residential and commercial consumers..."
Opponents of BC Liberal policies have been warning of the current dilemma facing electricity consumers. Folks at The Common Sense Canadian warned this would happen; many of us paid attention, many did not. However, once more, Rafe makes his opinions clear:

Hydro's Overflowing Dams, Huge Losses Due to Private Power, Rafe Mair, The Common Sense Canadian, May 13, 2012
"BC Hydro is spilling water over its dams and missing a chance to make a huge profit and is, instead, sustaining a crippling loss all by reason of corrupt bargains it’s been forced to make with private companies.

"Ask yourself how Hydro could lose money in one of the wettest years in history, when their reservoirs are chock-a-block full?

"It’s because of the gross negligence of the Campbell/Clark government – supported by the mainstream media (which has refused to do its job and investigate the private power plan – a plan which compels Hydro to buy private power at double+ the market price.)

"Yes, folks, the chickens I’ve been writing about for years have indeed come home to roost – BC Hydro is buying private power while spilling its own water over the dams. Your power company, instead of using the water in its reservoirs to make power for British Columbians, lets it spill away, unused, while it pours money into grasping private hands at immense profits to them and immense losses to us.

'Moreover, BC Hydro – such is the surplus of power in the US – could be buying Bonneville Dam power for a song and flipping it into a neat profit..."

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Coastal discouragement

Before being elected government in 2001, BC Liberals promised to appoint an independent inquiry into the "mismanagement of BC Ferries." That promise, like many others made by Gordon Campbell, fell by the wayside. The primary reason was that the claim of mismanagement was myth not reality. The corporation had been less than perfect but not as portrayed by political theatre playing in British Columbia around the turn of the century.

The NDP government's commitment to aluminum ferry construction might have worked had it been executed more skillfully. British Columbia had a successful record of large ferry construction and the government hoped to advance specialization in a new class of vessel that, in the day, seemed to offer real advantages. (The U.S. Navy currently has a $37 billion aluminum fast-ship building program.)

Whether or not unforeseen problems that emerged could have been resolved will never be known. Failure of the program became too important to Liberal strategists who still use it after a dozen years to paint NDP as foolish spendthrifts, incapable of providing fiscal competence that is second nature to supporters of private enterprise.

However, the record demonstrates that under its current structure, BC Ferries has been a debacle.  The government's termination of David Hahn as CEO will not resolve the problems, those result from an inept board and confused political vision.

This item from the 2004 Annual Report show what citizens of the province were told to expect when the marine transportation service was restructured:
"On April 2, 2003, BC Ferries became an independent company. On that day, a 43-year-old organization was given a new beginning. We now have a clear vision to become a world-class marine transportation system, one that is both highly customer-focused and financially viable. During our first year, we have made big strides towards our vision. We’ve built on our strengths and we’ve created new business opportunities. And we’re excited about the future…"
The ferry corporation's most recent fiscal year ended March 31. Vehicle traffic was down 3.5% and the number of passengers down almost as much. Despite declining traffic, BC Ferries executives have moved into spacious new offices in Victoria. That a company with a shrinking commitment to service needed fancy new head office digs is not a subject that MSM journalists have bothered to explore, which is interesting considering the coverage they gave to the PacifiCats in pre-Liberal days.

Northern Insights has many articles on BC Ferries and you can find them HERE. A few graphs illustrate the unhappy situation of BC Ferries.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Recognizing real radicals

Britt's Patterns of national behavior and abuse of power #3:
"Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause..."

Bill C-38, Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist, May 9, 2012
"...Over the past few months, the environmental laws that protect our nation's extraordinary natural legacy have been gutted," [Peter] Robinson [CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation] said. "At the same time, those who want to protect it have been the targets of an unprecedented and organized effort to discredit, disenfranchise and silence their voices."

The federal government included a rewrite of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in the omnibus budget bill.

Bill C-38 allows government to crack down on charities that advocate for better laws and policies; override National Energy Board decisions; and speed up environmental reviews, Robinson said.

"Perhaps, most disturbingly, it shuts citizen groups out of environmental reviews," he said...

Britt's Patterns of national behavior and abuse of power #10:
"Power of labor suppressed or eliminated..."

Pat Martin, Winnipeg Centre, NDP:
"Madam Speaker, very deep down in the bowels of Bill C-38 is a clause that hardly anybody even noticed. It abolishes, it repeals the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act for federally regulated construction projects.

"Why would anyone want to abolish something called the “fair wages and hours of work” act? ...

"It is a striking coincidence that now, in federally regulated projects like pipelines, a contractor can now post a job as follows: “Wanted: carpenters, $10 an hour”. Nobody is going to apply. Now, by this legislation, it will be perfectly okay to do so, and working for 70 hours a week with no overtime will be perfectly okay. No Canadian is going to apply, but guess what? The government has opened the door for temporary foreign workers, with a 10-day waiting period.

No fair contractor in this country will ever win another job, because the government has eliminated the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act by virtue of this legislation.

"Does the hon. member think it is fair for a budget bill to eradicate and destabilize the entire construction industry by eliminating the fair wages act?"

Britt's Patterns of national behavior and abuse of power #13:
Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
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Need we say more?

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Chapter from Heller's Catch-22 ?

A comment that speaks for itself from the article Kleptocracy - rule by thieves:
"I installed a 10 kW wind turbine on my Okanagan property 3 years ago, buying into the BC government's Live Smart/Green program. Imagine my surprise--as an independent power producer--when I was ineligible for the B.C. "incentive" because the B.C. program was limited to a maximum 3 kW turbine. Yet nowhere on their snazzy website was a maximum size listed; even employees at Live Smart didn't know about it when I phoned to complain.

"That's not the end of it. Turns out my 10 kW turbine was also ineligible for the Federal Eco-Energy Retrofit...are you sitting down?....because annually, seems I didn't USE enough electricity to qualify.

"Then a year later, to add salt to the wound, received a call from a member of CANWEA, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, offering that I could join for $300 bucks a year. I declined, stating that CANWEA was part of the problem. How so? he asked. So I told him: "Your group's members sat on both the provincial and federal committees that helped governments set not only the rates, but also who would qualify. So, thanks a pantload for excluding the 'big little' guys like me."

"Yet people today see my 10 kW spinning merrily in the breeze and ask if I am also overpaid as an Independent Power Producer. I tell them the truth: the buggers credit me EXACTLY the same kiloWatt per hour rate as they charge me to use electricity. No more!

"So not all IPPs are sucking at the public trough."
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