Saturday, December 31, 2011
How do we know this for sure?
Because, Ms. Clark recently killed that Conference Board.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Early last Wednesday morning - just after 2 a.m. - my home phone rang. That's usually a reason for concern - the first thing that springs to mind is a family emergency somewhere. But this call was about another kind of emergency.
"Keith, it's Dave Hahn. Sorry about the early call, but I thought you should know. One of our vessels has just gone down north of Vancouver Island. I'm trying to get an update on the passengers. I'll keep you informed, but I thought you might want to get going on this."
It was a startling phone call, to say the least. Startling because the ferry had only sunk about an hour before, startling because of the potential magnitude of the ferry disaster, and startling because of the forthrightness of the man who runs BC Ferries.
Mr. Hahn and I talked several more times in the early hours of that morning. He would phone with updates - the most important of which was about the state of the passengers - and try to provide as much information as possible.
As the morning went on, he started appearing seemingly everywhere - one minute on CKNW, the next moment on CBC Radio, the next on Global TV. BC Ferries had hastily chartered a plane to fly Mr. Hahn and Premier Gordon Campbell to Prince Rupert to meet the Queen of the North's passengers. He invited me and a Global cameraman to accompany them.
As this potentially giant crisis was still developing, Mr. Hahn was front and centre with the public. Rather than hiding and adopting a bunker mentality when faced with a disaster for the company, he was out in front of the story, trying to provide information as quickly as possible.
In other words, he was behaving exactly the opposite of how most politicians act when faced with a crisis. The usual experience, from this reporter's perspective, is having to wait for hours outside a cabinet minister's office (or a premier's office) as nervous aides huddle, trying to figure out a damage control plan before saying anything publicly.
Not so with Mr. Hahn.
It's a refreshing approach from the head of a large company, and one that I suspect resonates well with the general public. I ran into Mr. Hahn at a Victoria gas station this past weekend, and attendants there were congratulating him for "being upfront" about everything. The radio phone-in shows have also reflected positive reviews - not scientific research, I admit, but my instincts tell me the approach is working.
All this injects yet another perspective into the ongoing debate over the privatization of BC Ferries. I have a very hard time believing information would have been forthcoming so quickly in the wake of this kind of disaster if BC Ferries were still run by the provincial government.
There are valid concerns about the need for public accountability when it comes to BC Ferries, since the company basically controls the transportation ability for thousands of people who rely on the ferry system for travel, commuting or the shipment of goods.
For example, the company is exempt from B.C.'s freedom of information law, which shields it from a significant level of scrutiny.
There are certainly parts of privatization that trouble many people. But in terms of accountability in the face of a disaster as large as the sinking of the Queen of the North, I'll take Mr. Hahn's approach over his predecessors - as in cabinet ministers - any day.
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global B.C.
Second, the less obvious: Why, exactly, does Mr. Baldrey not recognize when he himself is, perhaps, being spun?
With respect to the latter question, could it be that Mr. Baldery likes it that way?
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
"Last week the dedicated team of Crown counsel assigned to the Stanley Cup riot prosecutions advised the court of their intention to apply to have these proceedings publicly broadcast.
This is in keeping with a commitment set out in the government's throne speech, and I want to explain why I have directed these applications to be made.
This government believes that the courts need to be open institutions for the public and when we have opportunities to enhance the transparency of our justice system, we need to pursue those....
...I can think of no better way and in no better circumstance than with the Vancouver riots for the public to see justice in action...."
Thursday, December 22, 2011
VANCOUVER — There’s been so much graffiti in Vancouver over the years very little sticks in the memory. But I still recall a bizarre message somebody spray-painted on a wall near one of the downtown bridges about 30 years ago: “Tunnel Canary Hates You.”
There may have been an exclamation point, as well. Lord knows what the masses thought about it, because few people in Vancouver knew who, or what, Tunnel Canary was. Let alone why they would hate them.
People in the punk underground understood, however. Tunnel Canary was the most out-there band in Vancouver’s great punk/new wave/art rock explosion of 1978-9. They didn’t play that much, but when they did, they made a point of being in your face.....
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Premier Christy Clark's decision to appoint someone from her office to oversee government communications is a further politicization of what's supposed to be a nonpartisan civil service, a longtime political analyst says.
"It's this phenomenon of the politicization of the senior bureaucracy, and that's a pretty established trend," said Norman Ruff, political science professor emeritus at the University of Victoria. "The line is getting blurred between policy orientation and politicization."
Clark's deputy minister of corporate priorities, Athana Mentzelopoulos, was named deputy minister of Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government on Friday.
She'll oversee the communications and public engagement office, a $26million operation with 197 full-time employees. She'll report to minister Margaret MacDiarmid.
The civil service is supposed to run in a nonpartisan manner, focused on the best interests of the provincial government and its citizens, rather than the political consequences and partisan interests of the governing party and its politicians.
"Your prime focus is effective, efficient public policy," said Ruff. "Where you get people playing on both teams, it undermines the quality of the policy process."....
Clark's decision to put a trusted lieutenant in charge of communications shows her focus, Ruff said.
"Policy, especially under Clark, has become very much about communications," he said. "It's about talk rather than action."....
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
VANCOUVER — B.C. Premier Christy Clark has failed to stem the growing appeal of the provincial Conservatives, a new poll suggests.
The survey by Forum Research found that 34 per cent of British Columbians support the NDP, with the governing BC Liberals and the Conservatives in a dead heat at 23 per cent. The Green party trails with 15 per cent....
"Statistics for 2009 compiled by Harvard Medical School and the U.S. Census Bureau show that, in the insurance-dominated U.S. healthcare system, 45,000 Americans died because they had no health insurance; 922,819 Americans went bankrupt because of medical expenses; 50,700,000 Americans have no health insurance.
The comparable figures from the Canadian health-care system are zero, zero and zero..."