Tag Archives: BC

BC and Montana Sign Land Use Agreement for Flathead River Basin

On February 12th, 2010 the world tuned to BC Place and watched the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics. And since that Friday night, people from all over the world have been watching or if you were lucky enough to have won the ticket lottery, you have been attending Olympic sporting events. Bottom-line, the people of BC have been distracted over the last few days.

It is no wonder then that the announcement from the Premier’s office that the province of BC and neighbouring Montana have signed a partnership agreement to sustain environmental values in the Flathead River Basin received so little attention from the public or the press, for that matter.

Premier Campbell had this to say about the agreement reached between BC and Montana; 

“Today’s agreement will ensure the environmental values in the Flathead River Basin are sustained in a manner consistent with current forestry, recreation, guide outfitting and trapping uses to maintain the healthy eco-system that exists today,” said Premier Campbell. “It will also lay the foundation for us to co-ordinate on climate action and to pursue clean, renewable and low carbon energy that will benefit our citizens.  I want to thank Governor Schweitzer for his leadership on this important initiative and for our ongoing partnership on issues affecting both B.C. and Montana.”

Governor Schweitzer added;

“This agreement helps ensure the protection of the Flathead Basin and Glacier National Park for this generation and generations to come. I want to thank Premier Campbell for his leadership and commitment to working together to make this collaborative agreement a success,” said Governor Schweitzer. Over the next few months we will be working with our respective federal governments to implement the additional necessary actions.”

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Now the key to the agreement is that the permissible land uses in the Flathead River Basin no longer include mining oil and gas and coal development. That means that any individual or corporation who holds mining rights…well…they no longer hold mining rights in the Valley.

Cast your thoughts back in time to 1993 when the NDP were in control of our provincial legislature. The NDP government of the day revoked the Canadian mining company Geddes Resources Ltd permit to develop the Windy Craggy mine. The area that was being prepared for mining is now known as the Tatshenshini Park.

As compensation, the provincial government expeditiously approved a mining permit at Kemess Creek. As well, the company was awarded a $160-million compensation package.

When Premier Campbell was asked by reporters what will happen to businesses that do hold oil and gas leases in the Flathead River Basin, the Premier replied that, “We will make sure they are not punished for this.” Later he added that any compensation would be “minimal.” Perhaps he was also casting his thoughts back to 1993 and the compensation granted for the revoking of the Windy Craggy mining permit? The government has also stated that the government intends to “engage with the existing mining rights holders in the valley.” 

I have emailed NDP Environment Critic Rob Fleming as well as NDP John Horgan, the Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Critic for comment but have received no replies. It might be interesting to know what the Official Opposition has to say about the Flathead River Basin and the need for compensation being paid to mining companies for the loss of their rights. When or if they do return my emails I will post their replies.

Overall though, this one might be interesting to watch unfold. Traditionally, BC miners have been pretty supportive of the Campbell Liberals. It will be fun to see what their friends in government do for them this time around. Stay tuned.

British Columbia Trucking Industry Facing Drastic Cuts to Training Programs

The following email was sent to the Premier Gordon Campbell and other cabinet members (and cc’ed) to us by Randy A. Eckert the President of Saferway Driver Training School Ltd.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Statistics Canada, Transport Canada, Canadian Trucking Alliance, British Columbia Trucking Association, Ontario Trucking Association, Private Motor Truck Council, Teamsters Canada, Unique Personnel Services Inc. are all on the same page with the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) Report.

However, the influential party NOT on the same page as those listed above, Premier Campbell and the BC Liberals. The concern? That the BC Liberals are moving the trucking industry backwards by implementing drastic cuts on British Columbia’s Employment Insurance (EI) Training Benefits.

I am requesting that immediate action be taken on the drastic cut on British Columbia’s Employment Insurance (EI) Training Benefits.

AMBER Education Services Ltd. Website in BOLD letters reads.

Please note:

Due to a recent update in the contract that Amber Education Services Ltd. holds with the Ministry of Housing and Social Development, the maximum tuition support is $4,000 per intervention or Return to Work Action Plan.

This is another blow to an already devastated Trucking Industry and the economy.

What do these cuts mean?

Drastic cut in training programs!

Training may be just enough to get a Class One (editor adds; that is a Driver’s License Class One that licenses a driver to drive virtually anything on our roads) student licensed!  They would not be industry ready, costs escalating to employers’ and the general public.

Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) summary report state; Driver Quality is a Key Issue in driver turnover, and demand

Additional training is needed for new entrants to the industry to improve their driving skills and performance on the job.

Almost 60% of the trucking industry’s employers say that today’s driver shortage is one of their top two concerns, up from the 50% who felt that way in 2002.

The driver shortage is widely described as a lack of “qualified” personnel.

Listed in the acknowledgments of Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council summary report is:

  • Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
  • Statistics Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • Canadian Trucking Alliance
  • British Columbia Trucking Association
  • Ontario Trucking Association
  • Private Motor Truck Council
  • Teamsters Canada
  • Unique Personnel Services Inc.

BC Trucking Association (BCTA) states; The trucking industry is a major employer in its own right employing over 400,000 people directly and supporting several tens of thousands more. Current forecasts suggest the industry is facing a major shortage of qualified truck drivers and related occupations in the years ahead, making it an attractive place for existing and future workers looking for an interesting, well-paying and secure career. 

Public safety being jeopardized;  I have been qualified by The Supreme Court and Provincial Court of British Columbia as an expert witness and have also provided professional opinion reports to various agencies in regard to different traffic accidents.  Operator/Driver error was a major contributing factor as a cause of these incidents. 

Why is British Columbia going backwards compromising the economy and safety? 

I am available to discuss the issue on the drastic cuts to British Columbia’s Employment Insurance (EI) Training Benefits.  I am looking forward to an immediate response to this letter. 

Randy A. Eckert

President

Saferway Driver Training School Ltd. 905 – B Esquimalt Rd. Victoria, BC, V9A 3M7

Editor’s note; there has been no word, as of yet,  if the requested meeting has actually taken place as of yet. We will endeavour to keep our reader informed of any updates on this file. We will also be making our own inquiries to the government and the opposition New Democrats to see what more there is to this story.

Premier Campbell; No Increase to BC’s Minimum Wage

Premier Campbell was on CKNW this morning with Bill Good. During that segment Campbell reiterated his belief that the minimum wage in BC does not need to be increased. This was in response to the fact that the minimum wage in Quebec is being increased by fifty cents, the third increase in three years for the minimum wage in that province.

It is Campbell’s contention that his government has done plenty to increase the disposable income of the working people of BC.

This afternoon I spoke with Bruce Ralston, Opposition Critic for Finance and Economic Development, and he told me that in fact there any number of studies that will show how our society is becoming increasingly unequal and that the median wage in BC has steadily declined since 2001. He said that when you add in the HST, working people are going to see a further erosion of their disposable income. 

It has been eight years since the minimum wage was increased in BC, this in spite of an ongoing campaign by the BC Federation of Labour calling for a ten dollar an hour minimum wage.

BC Liberals Cut Skills Development Employment Benefits Program

At a time when you might think that the BC Liberals would be investing heavily in developing the skills of BC’s workforce, they have instead decided to cut skills training; the Skills Development Employment Benefits program was told to rein in spending on all retraining programs and to cap all tuition funding effective immediately.

“The SDEB program provides invaluable support for unemployed British Columbians on Employment Insurance to retrain so they can transition within the labour market,” said Nicholas Simons, a New Democrat critic for social development. “However, service providers were told late last week that the program is out of money, with no word of further funding. News of the funding cuts came late Friday afternoon, a time typically used by provincial governments to release news that they do not want publicized.

“By capping funding the B.C. Liberals are not only putting up major road blocks for unemployed British Columbians, but forcing those already in programs and without the financial means to quit mid-semester.”

Simons says New Democrat MLA offices across the province have been flooded with calls from distraught constituents who have either applied to or are currently in SDEB-funded programs.

“We’re hearing from people in every region of the province who say they will be greatly impacted by the major cuts to tuition funding,” said Simons, MLA for Powell River – Sunshine Coast.

“From laid-off forestry workers to care aides, these are all British Columbians who are trying their best to retrain within a changing labour market and to make ends meet during most difficult economic times.”

New Democrat MLAs across the province have been raising their concerns with Rich Coleman, the Minister responsible.

“In the North Island we know the real impact of changes in the forest industry and the hard side of the economic downturn,” said Claire Trevena, MLA for North Island. “Now is the time we should be investing in people, not short-changing them like the BC Liberals are doing.”

“These cuts will impact tens of thousands of unemployed workers in the central interior, one of the regions with the highest unemployment rates in the province,” said Bob Simpson, MLA for Cariboo North.

“Our best resource is our people,” said Simons. “The BC Liberals must recognize that investing in British Columbians is paramount to moving towards a more stable economy.”

Olympic screw over for BC

Saw on the news last night that a group of people are outraged because they have been evicted from their rental house, ostensibly because the landlord needs the house for her immediate family’s use. The evicted renters did a little Google work and found that in fact, their former home is up for rent at Olympic-inflated prices.  Of course, that makes for a great little press conference in front of the house with the evicted tenants telling their tale of woe and everybody shaking their heads in disgust and anger. The obligatory call to the house owner yields the “Calls were not returned…”

People! The Olympics are all about screwing the little guy! We paid the millions for a massive (and beautiful, I might add) highway to Whistler with nary a whisper of a toll being put on it. New bridge so that the poor shlubs can get from Surrey into the city? TOLLS! Bridge from Surrey to Maple Ridge…TOLLS!

So people, shut about the Olympian sized screw over that our province is getting. Enjoy the Olympics from your living-room…unless you were evicted that is. You should be happy that the event is not yet a pay-per-view event on television. And just think about all the benefits that are coming our way.

NDP Convention Elects Moe Sihota as New Party President and…

The New Democrat’s biennial convention has come and gone. Being a political junkie, I was drawn to the convention like a moth is drawn to the brightly burning flame. And like the moth drawn to the flame, I can’t say I got much out of the event. Sure there were policy debates and resolutions were put forward, debated and carried, but there really was no great drama, nothing that had me racing for the keyboard to tweet or pound the keyboard to break a story.

I suppose my childhood is partly to blame for this….to read this rest of this story, you can see my column on the Vancouver Observer. I write for the VO as their “Political Junkie in Residences”. It is similar to being a Writer in Residence but more fun.

BC NDP Convention 2009

10:10 AM

At the NDP provincial convention in Vancouver. Just had Carole James introduced…audience standing, clapping in unison. Will this last through the debate about the potential leadership review?

Introductions of the elected NDP MLAs. Some drawing bigger cheers than others…Carole gets all screetchy trying to speak over the clapping.

Burnaby Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan seems to draw big cheers. Former Chair of the Burnbay School Board.

10:12 First shouts of SHAME are heard about the fact that the minimum wage has been frozen since the Liberals took power.

On the BC Rail execs making $1.2 million for managing 40 kms of track and no trains…there is one train, the LIberal gravy train.

10:24 Roof of Hazelton arena is leaking. Tried to get funding for a new roof. Community was told to look on internet to find a grant application form. Was this the way that the BC Place roof repalcement was managed?

Carole pledges that the NDP will eliminate child poverty in BC.

Her voice is rising, leading to the grand finale…people standing, cheering, clapping. “Because everyone matters!”

11:00-ish Outside the conventio room Carole came for a media scrum. Great stuff except that all I could hear was, “No the NDP are not in favour of tax increases…” or “Yes we expect some push back from within our party about the fact that we are going to reach out to business…” and “We want to offer British Columbians a positive choice for the future…”

Carole James at NDP Convention 09

Carole James at NDP Convention 09

One thing that was missing was the continuous references to Gordon Campbell. Is this the big shift that we are about to see?

And then a minor tizzy erupted when it was heard that Mike de Jong was in the lobby giving a little press conference, response to Carole’s speech. His response was essentially, same old Carole, same old themes…”

Mike Farnworth assured everyone that it was okay that de Jong was here because Farnworth had gone (as an observer) to Whistler for the Liberal convention. All okay.

Vancouver Opera on the cuts to BC arts

An email received from the Vancouver Opera about the BC Liberals’ cuts BC arts programs:

Dear Friends of the Arts,

You may have already received this email but it is imperative that we get this message out to as many supporters as possible. Please forward to family and friends.

As you know, the arts across British Columbia have suffered extreme funding cuts from the BC government.  While difficult to gauge exactly, the best reading of the situation tells us that potentially the arts will suffer an 85% – 90% cut over two years.  This is the result of extreme cuts to the British Columbia Arts Council as well as gaming fund cuts.

We must send a message to the government that these cuts are massive, destructive, out of proportion and unacceptable.  The government must hear from YOU:  consumers of culture, donors, and concerned citizens.

Please follow the link to send a clear message – easily!  Your message WILL BE SENT AUTOMATICALLY to Premier Gordon Campbell, Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Rich Coleman, Minister of Housing and Social Development, Colin Hansen, Minister of Finance, and your MLA.

Speak Out About BC Arts Cuts | Alliance For Arts and Culture

We must have a groundswell of opposition to these drastic cuts in arts and culture funding; please do your part to preserve BC’s strong cultural and arts environment.

Many thanks.

2009-2010 Season

James W. Wright
General Director, Vancouver Opera

NFB photo essay on Mackenzie, BC

Recently we received an email from a researcher who works for the National Film Board (NFB) who informed us about a new web documentary series being launched by the NFB called GDP: Measuring the human side of the Canadian economic crisis – http://gdp.nfb.ca.

Over the next year the NFB will follow more than a dozen stories across Canada of people finding their way through the worldwide financial downturn. From Bay Street to Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, from real estate to food banks, it will help tie the statistics of the crisis to how we live our lives. The stories will be told through short documentary films and photo essays updated daily.

There is one photo essay in particular that took a good long tug at my heart strings, it is about the recession’s impact on the mill town of Mackenzie, BC. A few years ago I had the opportunity to live and work in Prince George and up the west coast of the Williston Lake. The only work there is to do in and around Mackenzie, particularly up the westside of the lake, is logging and logging related work. With the housing market still collapsed in the USA, there is no call for logs to be cut, hauled, milled, chipped or whatever so the economic downturn has virtually crippled the entire forestry-dependent community of Mackenzie.

You can watch the latest photo essay on Mackenzie at: http://gdp.nfb.ca/photo-essay/406/mackenzie-mill-town-in-crisis.

Interestingly, when you visit the site, you will also be able to add to the conversation by commenting, or uploading your own videos or images. This is definitely something we will be following.

Les Leyne wins City Mike award at Websters

At last night’s Webster Awards the Victoria Times Colonist’s Les Leyne won the City Mike Award. Congrats to him for his win. Interesting to see that the story he covered today was all about the New Democrat MLA Guy Gentner and his hard-working approach to politics.

Specifically, Leyne wrote about Gentner putting on a detective hat and sleuthing out the fact that the many of the posts that BC Stimulus Package signs and Gateway signs are being erected on are actually made in the USA, by Stimson Lumber, a lumber company who has fought BC lumber imports to the USA.

Funny thing about this story is that we covered the same story on June 8th of this year. http://theleftcoast.ca/?p=426  Perhaps it was a very late night of celebrations for Mr Leyne. Congratulations once again.