Monday, June 30, 2014

At The End Of The Day...

...Sometimes all I need is a walk and a whistle through the graveyard with the Whackadoodle.

I usually take the old beach guitar too... This evening we were working on something special for tomorrow that has absolutely nothing, and yet, somehow,  everything, to do with Canada (at least for me and mine)...


Mr. Mason's Best Globe Column So Far?


When he speaks from personal experience about something he really knows about the old sportswriter can still bring it.

The following is from his weekend column in the Globe:

One day, society will look back at the way we currently allow some people to spend their last stretch of time on Earth, and it will abhor us.

I’ll admit that I have been unsure in the past about the “right to die.” On one hand, I understand there are people whose lives have become essentially valueless, because of illness, tragedy or some other reason. Because of that, they would rather not spend their final days trapped in a world of misery, despair, pain and/or physical suffering...


I’ve had trouble imagining signing an order to end a person’s life, especially if that person was someone I spent a lifetime loving ....

Now, I realize how incredibly selfish that point of view was.

I came to this opinion recently while watching my younger brother die of cancer...

It's a piece worth using up one of your free 10 per month visits to the Globe's website to read in it's entirety.

And it is the kind of stuff that I, for one, would be willing to pay real money for if it showed up more often in the Globe.

(I currently restrict my cash outlays to BellGlobeCTVTSNRDIEverythingElseMedia to the Saturday dead-tree edition of the Globe)

You know, I've often wondered if Mr. Mason should go all small ball, all the time...To be more specific, I think he'd make a helluva Lotuslandian On The Salish Sea version of, say, Herb Caen...Heckfire!...Even obvious stuff can fit nicely into the three dot format...


Nevermind The TFW's....Here Come The ICT's!


ICT's = Intra-Company Transfers to be precise.

Never heard of them, you say?


There out there.

And Alison has done a whole lot of digging and dot connecting to come up with the story:

Then there's the ICTs - Intra-Company Transfers - also not reliant on LMIAs to safeguard Canadian jobs because they were created to allow multinational corps to move their skilled workers easily from country to country.
{snippety doo-dah}

...In BC, eight US construction workers were granted entry to BC by the CBSA under an ICT after a US company got the contract to build a wood-waste storage building near Prince George. These "specialized workers" included a former rancher and an apprentice roofer and produce clerk. Yea NAFTA! and all that, but don't we have enough ranchers, apprentice roofers, and produce clerks looking for any kind of work in Canada already?

Asked about the union-backed court case protesting import of the eight US workers, (FedCon Minister Jason) Kenney referred reporters to Chris Alexander, but a year ago he stated : "The obligations we have have for intra-company transfers are often hard-wired into trade agreements."...

{snippety doodle-dandy}

...TransCanada, once billed in the US as "an American company with operations in Canada", is slated to build a $1.9-billion pipeline link for Kitimat LNG project.

In February (Snooklandian Minister) Mr. (Rich) Coleman announced there was "no question the industry will be looking to foreign workers to get up and running", and in March he touted the importance of being on

"a continent with a lot more people south to us ... so we have access to other skilled labour on the continent and there are people who are very good at doing certain jobs - specialized welders." One presumes he isn't referring to the TransCanada welders on the southern leg of the Keystone XL Canada to Texas project :

"Over 72 per cent of welds required repairs during one week. In another week, TransCanada stopped welding work after 205 of 425 welds required repair.

Inspections by the safety agency found TransCanada wasn’t using approved welding procedures to connect pipes, the letter said. The company had hired welders who weren’t qualified to work on the project because TransCanada used improper procedures to test them."...

Please go and read Alison's entire dispatch.

There is a whole lot of good stuff there.

And as you're reading it think about how these fine corporations will do just about anything to decrease their labour costs in countries they simultaneously do their best not to pay taxes in.

Put another way...Cheap labour in + Expensive taxes out = Big profits for the very few while everybody else (including the people who keep voting for the enablers against their own best longterm interests) gets screwed.

It's like Thomas Frank's Kansas book has gone global.

In other words...We are all Toto now.

And my apologies to Alison for pulling so much of her post and putting it up here - it really just is that good...Now, go read it all!


This Day In Snookland...All Your (Raw) Logs 'R Us.


Here is something that our friend and musical compatriot (and mill worker) Mr. Beer 'N Hockey wrote about the boom in raw log exports from British Columbia awhile back:

I bought the Sunday Province yesterday. For a change it was worth the smash I paid for it. I read something in there. Read something I was going to write about yesterday but I did not. I decided maybe I better let myself cool down a little first. Did not want to write anything that I might be sorry I wrote later.

40% of the trees logged on my province's coast in the first half of this year were exported as raw logs.


The mother*&%#ing, #*%$*king, *%&^#king, sh*&%#ks who are responsible for this have pushed me over the edge. What kind of a bunch of a##holes would sell out their countrymen like that? God damn traitors. Mother*%$#ers would cause less damage to the B.C. economy if they flew a couple jets into Dope City's two tallest buildings.


F*%# am I pissed.

(all edits, above, mine...But feel free to go and read the raw, unprocessed, lignin-laden hard stuff at Beer's place)



Of course the shipping out of all that raw, unprocessed and unrefined, material is a real travesty.

But, presumably we at least get our cut of the revenue when it happens.



Perhaps not.

The following is a recent report by Josh Massey in the Terrace Standard:

YaoRun Wood, a Chinese log export company that has been dealing millions of dollars of wood out of Terrace, has had its log piles seized for a third time in under a year because of suspicion it is altering log marks.

Previous seizures took place because YaoRun had fallen behind on its stumpage payments to the provincial government....

Third time lucky, eh?

So, why would a company just keep on keepin' on with behaviour like this?...Well, one possibility is the fact that, according to Mr. Massey's piece at least, it would appear that 'fines' (i.e. making the perpetrators pay) are not an enforcement option....Sheesh.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

This Longish Weekend In Snookland...Peter Fassbender, Zombie Maker.


Teacher Glen Thielman had the story first, and he gave it a name on his blog.

And now even CTV, via Jonathan Woodward (looks like he managed to slip in some actual news while the bosses were off for the weekend), has picked the thing up.

It's called 'Zombie Summer School':

School administrators are struggling to understand an order from B.C’s Labour Relations Board about B.C.’s teachers strike that appeared to make summer school go ahead – but for possibly zero students.

The interim ruling appears to make summer school for students who failed a course in grades 10, 11, and 12 an essential service.

But it also appears to specify that those students must also not be able to take the course in the fall semester. It may be inconvenient for students, but nearly all students have the option of taking any failed courses next year, said Vancouver School Board Chair Patti Bacchus....

{snippety doo-dah}

...(T)he ruling, posted Friday night, declared summer school to be an essential service for the students who are in grades 10, 11 or 12 and failed a course.

“These are students who cannot take the failed course during the following school year,” said LRB Vice-Chair Richard Longpre.

That’s a problem, according to Richmond School Board vice-chair Eric Yung, who said his administrators will be meeting Monday to figure out which of their students are meeting that criteria.

“We’re not quite sure how to deal with those provisions. We might have to find a way to screen the students,” he said.

Prince George teacher Glen Thielmann took the point further on his blog, arguing the only students that would fit the criteria are the ones who won’t be alive for the fall semester.

“When you set up a scenario where the only students who can take summer school aren’t living, you’ve entered into a different kind of reality for sure,” he told CTV News...

And isn't it interesting that good Mr. Richard Longpre is once again speaking for the LRB on this matter.

As Norm Farrell has already noted, no conflictyness there.

No siree.


Interesting comment by 'sheepster' on the Twittmachine opining that this deal is a cooked goose designed to get support workers, who will be paid, regardless, back into the schools...


Canada Day Abroad...One More Disastrous Private-Public Partnership.



That's right.

Canada Day celebrations in New York and London are off due to lack of 'sponsorships'.

The CP's Ethan Lou has the story:

London's Trafalgar Square and New York's Central Park won't show any Canadian love on Canada Day this year -- no real-life Mounties, no street hockey games, no performances by Canadian musicians.

A lack of sponsorships has prompted organizers to cancel the annual celebrations just five years after Canada Day International -- previously run by the government -- was transferred to Rainmaker GB,, a Calgary business consulting firm...


And here we thought Mr. Harper's man in London, the current High Commissioner, was all about workin' it, hard, with the cronies.


Maybe that only counts for the givin' and not so much for the gettin'.

On the plus side, more rooms for Johnny Baird and friends this year!

Speaking of Mr. Baird, the master spin-buster, Ira Basin, had a great show on Idea's this week about how modern media wurlitzering came of age in WWI....A while back Mr. Basin fixed his sights on the good Mr. Baird and his 'babies-torn-form-incubators'-inspired antics with hypodermic needles.
Tip 'O The Toque to an Anon-O-Mouse, in the comments, for pointing us towards this story.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

At The End Of The Day...

...Everybody just wants to hear 'Wagon Wheel'.

At least that's the way it is when E and I play:

The header and tagline
are actually a re-purposing of something E. said just before we played a pre-wedding campfire on Hornby Island last weekend...The real quote was...."At the bottom of their hearts all anybody really wants to hear is Wagon Wheel"...
The crazy thing about our most popular/ consistent money maker on the Buskateering circuit is that it was really just a half tune/sketch done by Dylan as a demo around about the time he was making Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid...Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, who were once buskers themselves, later filled it out with a story of hitchhiking down the Eastern seaboard thirty years after the fact...Of course, all kinds of folks have covered it since...
And apologies for not having E. on this version...I'm pretty sure I have us both on some box somewhere...I just couldn't find it this evening...We'll sit down and do it properly soon...Promise.
The photo at the top of the post was taken by our good friend Laila some time ago now...A snippet has been part of the masthead for almost as long...


Springtime Jukebox: Tune #4....Lightning Bolt.


This time it's a tune by the wunderkind straight out of Nottingham, Jake Bugg.

There's a whole lotta hype surrounding this kid, who my youngest, littler e. introduced me to.

And while he may have listened to too many industry geniuses and musical idols while making his second album he's still damned good.

And how can you not dig a kid who, 40 years after the fact says that hearing 'Vincent/Starry Starry Night' from 'that' album by Don McLean for the first time changed his life.

It's like Grade 7, in the schoolyard, with the whole wide world right in front of you/me all over again.

Which, of course, gives me another Jukebox idea (for a later tune)...

In the meantime, here's my Takamine plugged-in version of Mister Bugg's 'Lightning Bug':

You wanna see/here the real thing?....It can be found....Here.

The Rest Of This Season's Jukebox So Far...


The Terry Glavin Column You Didn't Read This Week.


The Ottawa Citizen column of Mr. Glavin's that you might have (or, if you haven't, should) read is the one on the historical underpinnings of this week's Supreme Court of Canada decision on the Tsilhqot'in v Canada case.

The column you probably haven't (and, if you haven't, must) read is the one on pipelines. It puts a whole lot of things in perspective, including the recent OpEd in Nature from bunch of pretty well-informed and knowledgeable scientists, including SFU's Wendy Palen, who are calling for a moratorium on all (i.e. not just Alberta's) further Tarsands development.

Here's just one bit from that piece from Mr. Glavin, but I really recommend you carve out a few minutes to read the entire thing:

...“A key step is a moratorium on new oilsands development and transportation projects until better processes and policies are in place,” the scientists who co-authored this week’s paper in Nature modestly assert. “Reform is needed now: decisions made in North America will reverberate internationally, as plans for the development of similar unconventional reserves are considered worldwide.”

This has been absurdly obvious all along, and it is heartening to see it spelled out so clearly and unambiguously. Nothing has been allowed to restrain the expansion of Alberta’s oilsands, and now, all the conventional sources of international capital have been tapped out. This is why the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party has had to be courted so passionately. Canada’s labour supply has been all but tapped out. This is why the Temporary Foreign Workers’ program has been exploited as a conduit to bring 85,000 indentured labourers into Alberta...

A whole lotta punch packed into those two paragraphs, I reckon. And not much of the left/right combination in that last paragraph would appear to be 'ethical'.



This Weekend In Snookland...Ministerial Mumblecore.


The FedCons announced another big, bold business subsidy program this week past.

It's called the 'Investments in Forest Industry Transformation'  program and it will give $90 million to FoCo's so that they can do stuff the market won't pay for.

You know, it's one those things that gets cooked up in a elegantly-lit, lobbyist-funded backroom where Strauss mingles with Marx while Adam Smith sneers at them both from the shadows (or some such thing). 

Anyway...The Snooklandian in charge of forests was very happy about all of this:

“I applaud today’s funding announcement. This program has helped fund important innovations in the forest sector, which has helped the forest sector develop new products and market opportunities, which, in turn, ensures stable jobs in forestry-dependent areas.”

The Honourable Steve Thomson
B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations


Here's the thing.

The run-on gobbley-gook quoted above didn't burst forth, by accident, because the honourable Mr. Thomson was ambushed by some cub-reporter at a Kelowna hot-spot looking for a quick pull-quote.

Instead, it was formulated after a lot of thought and careful pre-wurlitzer planning, presumably by the well-paid PAB-bots in Mr. Thomson's office.

Why do we presume this?

Because the 'statement' was actually part of the official FedCon press release.

Imagine that!

Thanks to Anthony Britneff for the heads-up via his Twittmachine feed...


Railgate Renumeration Revisited...A (Very Well-Informed) Reader Weighs In.


Longtime reader 'Lew', who is extremely knowledgable about all things Railgate, left a comment at the end of our post the other day about last week's discussions by the Standing Accounts Committee of the Legislature.

You remember those discussions, right?

They revolved around the Auditor General's report on the six million dollar pay out to Mr. Robert Virk and Mr. David Basi that was 'associated' with the sudden ending of the trial just as Mr. Gary Collins and the rest of the Railgate Top 40 were set to take the stand.

Here is that comment:

Again, the “understanding” was not because of the Agreement to Release, as the Auditor General says. The Agreement to Release hadn’t and wouldn’t be signed by the Crown until and unless the defendants delivered their part of the contract by pleading guilty before the court. The “understanding” was because of the contract (the October 14, 2010 agreement) they had in their back pockets requiring the Crown to sign the agreement to release if they pleaded guilty and were convicted. That is the inducement; its offer made by the Crown in writing for acceptance by the defendants, and it was clearly concluded before the guilty pleas were offered to the judge, who was the only authority who could accept them.

Palmer’s current glossing-over of the real issues relates to the consideration of the Auditor General’s report on special indemnities by the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts in Vancouver on June 24th. Take a Gravol before reading the transcript of the proceedings. Some of the committee members showed up to ask such probing questions as, “What’s a special indemnity?”, thereby revealing that they hadn’t bothered to read the audit report or the report conducted by Stephen Toope before struggling into the room. MLA Throness even attempted to have the committee congratulate the government on its role in creating this atrocity in the first place!

MLAs Eby, Corrigan, and Simpson were notably more interested in getting some answers, but let the witnesses get away with red-herring tosses that seemed well practiced, especially the nonsense claiming that the original indemnities did not constitute loans. Using the rationale provided, the Agreement To Release wouldn’t be valid either, but nobody took them to task on it.

Good stuff, no?

Puffed-up Lotuslandian proMedia Punditry, please take note.

(and if Mr. Obvious has a notion....Please feel free....Neither Lew nor I will mind...Much...)

The transcript of the Public Accounts Committee session referred to by Lew is....Here.
A small comment on comments 'round here...With only one or two troll-bo eruptions over the years (the worst perpetrator is now a Twittmachine Troll) I have rarely had any problem with comments...Some of that, of course, is probably a result of the fact that, most of the time,  I'm preaching to the converted...However, I also think that part of it is that because I got into this blogging thing after being a commenter myself back in the early 'salad days' of blogging.... And I did that commenting at three sites where the commenting was very interactive (Billmon's place, Steve Gilliard's place, and the early, still blogspot-powered FDL)...The upshot?.... I take pride in moderating by actually reading and paying attention to what folks have to say rather than just looking for profanity, etc.


Friday, June 27, 2014

At The End Of The Day...

...I really want to learn to read again.

For me, the situation is very similar to that described by Corey Robin (although, luckily for me, the chair thing is already over and done with):

Like most academics, I read articles and books. Unlike most academics (maybe, I don’t really know), reading has become harder and harder for me. Not simply because of the distractions that come with department politics, administrative duties (come July 1, I’m chair of my department), advising grad students, and teaching. I wish it were as noble as that. No, the reason I find it so difficult to read these days, now years, is the internet....

The internet indeed.

Not because it's bad (although there is that), but rather because it's so darned good.

Back when we still had the VW (notso) Microbus I sometimes dealt with this issue by parking the thing on that stretch of West 16th that slices through Pacific Spirit Park between Blanca and Wesbrook. I would then climb in the back, and swing out the table so that I could spend an hour or three uninterrupted by my own quest for peripheral knowledge (and/or the latest identified mutations/amplifications of a small leucine-rich mucin we were working on at the time).

Here's how NYC dweller Rubin deals with it:

...Here’s how I do it. After I drop off my daughter at school or summer camp, I jump on the subway. I ride the rails for three to four hours. Maybe the F train: out to Coney Island, back through Brooklyn, into Manhattan, out to Forest Hills, and then back. Or if I’m pressed for time, just the Q train: again out to Coney, back through Brooklyn, into Manhattan, out to Astoria, and back. Or if I’m in the mood for a change, the B or the D trains: they ultimately take me to the Bronx and back.

I take nothing with me but my book and a pen. I take notes on the front and back pages of the book. If I run out of pages, I carry a little notebook with me. I never get off the train (except, occasionally, to meet my wife for lunch in Manhattan.) I have an ancient phone, so there’s no internet or desire to text, and I’m mostly underground, so there are no phone calls.

When I get back, I sometimes post about my little rides and what I’m reading on Facebook: Schumpeter in Queens, The Theory of Moral Sentiments in the Bronx, Hayek in Brooklyn. The more incongruous, the better, though sometimes I find some funny or interesting parallels between what I’m reading and where I’m riding and what I’m seeing.

But the joking on Facebook covers up my dirty little secret: I ride the rails to read because if I’m at home, and not writing, I’m on the internet. “It is not simply that one is interrupted,” as Park writes; “it is that one is actually inclined to interruption.”...


Maybe I should take a few Skytrain trips to Surrey.

When I was back east recently I took the train from Ottawa to Montreal and it was glorious...Only trouble was, the WiFi was outstanding....I worked, looking up latest specifics on microenvironmental immunomodulation during the progression of one pathological state to another...But I did not read.


How To Become A Lawyer In Just Four Days.


In case you missed it, Gordon Campbell was in Kamloops last week.

To receive, wait for it....

An honorary law degree.

Here's the lede from the CP report:

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell finally has a law degree — more than 40 years after he abandoned the effort and forged a political career.

Campbell received an honorary law degree at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, where he addressed 71 students at the law school’s inaugural convocation.

“It’s a great honour,” he said in an interview Saturday, when he was one of seven recipients of an honorary law degree.

Campbell said he lasted four days at the University of B.C.’s law school in his early 20s...


Four days?

Why, that makes Ms. Clark's forays in academic tourism in Edinburgh and Paris (after dropping out of SFU) look like twin PhD's in comparison.

Imagine that!

Sub-header buggin' you?.....This!


Railgate Resurfacing (Again)....The 'Waiver' Wire.


They were actually talking Railgate, more specifically the six million dollar deal that suddenly ended the trial just as Gary Collins was set to take the stand, in the legislature this week.

And while the VSun's Mr. Palmer chose to focus on the apparent lack of 'political interference' and/or ministerial oversight into the making of the deal, what still sticks in my craw is how nobody in the corridors of power, the judiciary, or the puffed-up professional punditry seems willing to take real issue with the bolded bit below (taken from Mr. Palmer's latest):

...The auditor general reached a finding of “no political interference” in the decision to indemnify the duo with what amounted to a blank cheque for their legal costs and in the followup decision to waive repayment of those costs despite a pending guilty plea...

Why does the 'decision to waive repayment of...costs despite a pending guilty plea', in my opinion, stink to high heaven?

Because, as Mr. Geoff Plant wrote on his  blog back in 2012 when John van Dongen was raising the matter in the legislature, there was an 'understanding' about how it would all go down:

"...It was done very, very carefully, to make sure the rules were followed. But it was understood that with guilty pleas, the claim to fee recovery would be waived..."


Go back up and read the bolded bit from Mr. Palmer's latest, above one more time. Please note that what actually happened was the opposite of what Mr. Plant said. Officially, the waiver of the fees came first and the guilty pleas came second.


Way back when (i.e. 2012) Paul Willcocks and I argued, in the comments to Mr. Plant's post, that, given the real order of things, the six million dollar deal/waiver was, in effect, a 'prior inducement' for the accused to plead guilty:

I note that Kevin Falcon disagrees and says the decision to cover the legal fees was appalling.

And I'm not sure the plea deal and the legal fee deal can be severed quite so cleanly. For the defendants, they were a package. Agreed on statement of facts and sentence recommendation, $6 million in legal fees, release from indemnity agreement, in return for guilty pleas. In terms of justice being seen to be done, there is a problem.
  1. Mr. Plant first you state the following:

    "The defendants pleaded guilty. What is clear is that there was no legally binding deal. There couldn’t be. The waiver of recovery of fees was not and could not be an inducement to plead guilty. As a matter of law they were not connected. But that was of course the outcome. It was done very, very carefully, to make sure the rules were followed."

    Then, in the next sentence you state:

    " But it was understood that with guilty pleas, the claim to fee recovery would be waived."


    Based on those continguous statements, perhaps you could help me 'understand' the following:

    If it was 'understood' that guilty pleas would subsequently lead to the waiver being granted, does it not logically follow that there was, for all intents and purposes, a prior 'inducement' regardless how 'carefully' things were done to make sure 'the rules were followed'?

Mr. Plant did not agree. He argued that what really mattered was not the order of how things actually when down but, instead, how they were 'offered' and 'discussed':

  1. Ross K, There was no "prior inducement". The offer of pleas was made first and entirely independently. The discussion about the fee waiver happened afterwards, and involved government, not the special prosecutor.

Don't you just love it when things get put on the record.

Paul and I responded thusly:

  1. Sorry, but the hairs are being split too finely. If there were genuine guilty pleas arranged in negotiations with the special prosecutor in place, then there was no need to break the policy on indemnities. The guilty pleas would have been secured, the trial ended and the taxpayers could have recovered at least some of the $6 million.
    If they weren't in place, then the $6 million was indeed a prior inducement because it came before the guilty pleas were actually secured.
  2. Thanks very much for the clarification of your position Mr. Plant.

    However, I am still in complete agreement with Mr. Willcocks' point of view on the matter.

    More specifically, in my opinion a 'chronological' separation of the formal agreements does not, in and of itself indicate a lack of prior inducement if, as you say, the accused 'understood' (your term, not mine) that the official waiver agreements would follow the official guilty plea agreements.
Why does all of this matter?

Well, in my opinion a prior inducement is akin to a bribe.

And that is why I'm still exercised about this thing.


Interestingly, one of the other things that came out during this week's discussions by the legislature's public accounts committee is that the apparatchik's came to so see the indemnity, wherein the accused would have to pay their court costs if they were found guilty, as an 'impediment' that they decided to 'remove'.

Again, back to Mr. Palmer's report:

...“There were conversations between defence council and the special prosecutor,” replied auditor general staffer Amanda Welch. “As we understand it — the special prosecutor approached with a suggestion. Defence counsel reported that although they did not think, even if the trial went through, their clients would be found guilty, they didn’t want to even offer the plea to Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk unless there was a (waiver). “

The defence then approached the legal services branch in the ministry of the attorney general, which had custody of the indemnity arrangement. “So legal services branch looked at it that the money that would be owed is actually an impediment to a plea deal,” continued Welch. “So they realized that, in some ways, indemnities are making a perverse incentive and agreed to remove that.”...

Seems to me that this aspect of the story actually supports my opinion given above in that the prosecutor came forward only with a 'suggestion' (i.e. not an actual plea 'deal') that led to a decision to remove the 'impediment'.

Especially when you recall the context of what was about to go down in the trial just before the plug was pulled.

That, of course, is missing entirely from Mr. Palmer's story who only notes that '42 witnesses' were still to be called.

We who would be cultists, however, do remember the actual names on that Railgate Top 40.


I wrote all about Mr. Willcocks' and my interactions with Mr. Plant, back in the day (other 'cultists' were there too)....Here.
Interestingly, the very fine public servant, Mr. David Loukidelis, who helped broker the deal, and whose written statement was the basis of Mr. Plant's argument, resigned just days after Mr. van Dongen brought the matter up in the ledge back in 2012...
Also interestingly, to the best of my knowledge no one in the proMedia has written about the fact that the other very fine (also now former) public servant who helped broker the deal, Mr. Graham Whitmarsh, once apparently worked at the very same, very fine (now no longer) local airline as the former finance minister who was all set to take the stand right before the deal went down... No potential conflictyness  there, right (that just might make all this current searching for ministerial connections by the Auditor General moot)?.....Of course not....
But, again, what do I know....After all, I'm just a cultist, not that there is, according to the good Mr. Palmer at least, 'anything wrong with cults'...


Thursday, June 26, 2014

At The End Of The Day...

...All I really ever want to do is come unstuck in time.

Not in a Billy Pilgrim sort of way, but rather just by getting so into something so deeply that, as a side effect, I lose all track of what any and all clocks - analogue, digital or even atomic - are actually up to.

It used to happen with straight-up reading, preferably in a pup tent, by flashlight, but not any longer.

More on that later.


This Day In Snookland...Why Didn't They Just Have A Really Big Toga Party Instead?


Well, well, well...

It would appear that the executive pay flim-flammery that current advanced education minister Mr. Virk was involved in as a board member at Kwantlen may not have been limited to two 'pre-contracts':

Cassidy Olivier has the story in The Province:

The president of Kwantlen Polytechnic University has ordered an internal review of the school’s executive compensation practices in light of fresh evidence suggesting other senior executives at the university were awarded contract bonuses that may have violated provincial regulations...

{snippety doo-dah}

The probe’s launch comes on the heels of a scathing government report released last week that found the university twice violated provincial disclosure rules when it failed to report two $50,000 “pre-employment contracts” it awarded to two senior executives, one of them being Davis.

{snippety doodle-dandy}

The Kwantlen probe also comes amid new disclosures, not mentioned in the Mingay report, that show two other senior staffers were offered $20,000 pre-employment consulting contracts, which were handled in similar manner to the ones detailed in the government report...

Where'd Mr. Cassidy get his stuff?

Why, none other than the Dippers' Mr. Eby.

And, personally, I like the fact that this is not coming from 'anonymous sources'.
What's with the header?...Well....You know...


First Nations Win....8-0!


Here's Peter O'Neil's lede at Postmedia:

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada, in the most important aboriginal rights case in the nation’s history, ruled that the Tsilhqot’in First Nation has title – or owns – 1,750 square kilometres of land in south central B.C.

The landmark ruling will provide a clear and less onerous roadmap for all unresolved land claims in B.C. and throughout Canada involving First Nations seeking to negotiate modern treaties – or to fight for their land rights in court.

“Aboriginal title confers the right to use and control the land and to reap the benefits flowing from it,” Justice Beverley McLachlin ruled in the 8-0 decision...

First thing that might be affected by this?

How about Northern Gateway?

Vaughn Palmer had a good backgrounder
on all of this a couple of days ago.


This Day In Snookland...How Do You Lock Out An Essential Service?


It's a good question, eh?


How come no one in the Lotuslandian proMedia is asking it?

The question actually came up, via Bruce Mitchell, in the comment thread to Harvey O's latest on the further dismantling of the 'nolonger' Giant 98...
Interestingly, when the stuff about cost-of-living waivers came up back when there were still negotiations going on, retired labour journo Rod Mickleburgh screamed at his former colleagues from the Twittmachine feed to ask the question...They didn't...But the bctf answered anyway...


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

At The End Of The Day...

....Folks who cut the corner, going left, do know that they are, essentially, crossing the center line into ongoing traffic don't they?


This morning a nice young chap in a big SUV actually cut behind me as he swooped left off of Blenheim onto 13th as I sat at a stop sign.

There was just a wee bit of that 'flashing before mine eyes' going on for a beat or two.

And have any of you fellow cyclists noted how some vehicle drivers are  zooming up arterial parallel residential side-street bike routes during rush hour because it's actually faster, even with the traffic circles and speed bumps?...10th Avenue between Granville and Oak is a pretty good example.


This Day In Snookland...Some Folks On The Government Payroll Are More 'Equal' Than Others.


Mr. Farrell has done the digging and has the story.


It starts with the Teachers....

Now head on over to Norm's to see the apparatchik comparators.

Oh, ya....There is also....This.


#BCED....Dr. McGeer's Ronnie Reagan Solution.


Here's the good Doctor's money-quote, writing in The Province:

...When I was B.C.’s minister of education, a strike by teachers was unthinkable, not just by the government, but by the teachers themselves. They took pride in being professionals. But if a walkout had taken place during my watch, my recommendation would have been to deal with the strikers the same way that Ronald Reagan dealt with the air traffic controllers — thank them for their service and hire replacements...

Gosh Dr. McGeer, weren't you a minister in Mr. Bennett's Social Credit cabinet when the teacher's walked out in Solidarity in 1983?

And which government, exactly, forced the teachers to certify or die in 1987?


BCTF...Is There An Olive Branch Under That Tweet?


Not sure exactly what this, released late yesterday/Tuesday, really means:

According to Wendy McLeod of the  Kelowna News it might be this:

Talks will resume on Wednesday between the two sides involved in the teachers’ labour dispute, but no bargaining is expected to take place.

According to the BC Teachers’ Federation, they will conduct exploratory talks with the B.C Public School Employers’ Association to find a way forward and the call for mediation....


Meanwhile, it looks like the Snooklandians have suddenly (cynically?) decided that kids kinda/sorta do matter by moving to cut-off a potential PR win for teachers (suggested by Paul Willcocks a couple of days ago) to cool things down for summer school.

Rob Shaw has that story in the VSun. Here is his lede:

VICTORIA — The B.C. government is hoping to designate summer school an essential service for high school students who have failed courses and need to work on their grades.

The province applied to the Labour Relations Board on Tuesday asking it to institute essential service levels and force striking teachers to teach remedial summer school courses for high school students...


Meanwhiliest, littler e. spent Summer Holidays Eve at a sleep-over.

Oh, and ya, trumpet lessons are still on for today.

Take that Alice Cooper!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

At The End Of The Day...

...There is nothing like a kinghell quote to clear out the cobwebs before bed.

This one is from Mr. Beer 'N Hockey's latest life plan:

...Bookshelves are like freeways. Sooner or later you have to get yourself another one because the last one you added is full up...

May all your last lines read before you drift off to sleep be as fine as that.

Sleep tight.


This Day In Snookland...Let Them Eat Software! (v2.0)


Paul Ramsey is onto another one of their 'plans':

...IBM won the new "Clinical and Systems Transformation Project", worth $842 MILLION over 10 years, I wonder what that RFP looked like? I asked for it, and was refused, so I FOI'ed it, and it came back. It's 500 pages long. Have a look.

It's a long read, but fortunately there's a really interesting bit right away, in the Mandatory Requirements:

"Proponent is willing and able to transition any Public Sector union agreements relevant to the Managed Services to their organization, if required."

Whoa! This isn't just an IT systems agreement after all, it's an outsourcing deal...

Go read Paul's entire report.

It's really good, and it's real reporting, with FOI's, fact-filled sidebars, and everything.

(oh, and of course, it's from a blogger)

And while you're reading Mr. Ramsey's stuff do not forget the names 'Accenture' and 'Maximus'....OK?


How Many Back Rooms Does Vision Vancouver Actually Have?


On the weekend we mentioned that there was a big slating party at Vision headquarters over their nominations for Parks Board that shut some very good folks out completely:

Meanwhile, FABula has weighed in. Here's the passage from her report that we found particularly interesting:

...Vision is touting this as a huge sign of democracy in action, with 1,650 voters out, and critics seeing it as a triumph of slate voting for a group favoured by the Vision backroom. It certainly is a success for Vision on one level, to get this group of relatively young people involved, with representation from the city’s increasingly active Filipino community and always active Indo community.

I’m not sure about either claim, as the obvious NDP vs. left (federal) Liberal partisanship that emerged was not totally what the party was looking for. In the past, Vision has tended to slightly favour the federal Liberals as a way of trying to capture the centre (remember when they chose fed Liberal Ian Baillie rather than forever NDPer Stephen Learey as ED for the party several years ago?).

Seemed to me, from what I heard, that the slate win was more an issue of a group that took advantage of lots of support from experienced NDP organizers (people who’ve worked with Dix, Eby, Elmore) to mount a full-on campaign that the others weren’t really expecting...


Does this mean that there just might be a showdown between MarkyMarkians and Dixians someday soon?

In the same freaking political party?

Strange bedfellows and all that, I guess.


With Solstice Gone, What's Next For Public Schools In British Columbia?


While a lot of folks are pinning their hopes on mediation, Paul Willcocks isn't so sure that will work at the moment. 

And what he has to say on the matter makes some sense:

...In a past life I was involved in labour negotiations. In one difficult set of talks, a mediator was appointed to help us reach a deal. He arrived, met with management and union, and booked out less than an hour later. The parties were too far apart, he said, and mediation would be a waste of time. Good luck.

That’s true in this dispute. There are too many issues on the table, the parties are too far apart and there’s no sign that either side really wants a deal. The BCTF’s goofy strike tactic, at a time when the government feels under no pressure from parents or public, served only to cost teachers an average $3,500 in lost pay and, by increasing their expectations, make a deal less likely...

So, what's coming?

Mr. Willcocks wonders if it will be legislation:

...I’d expect the dispute to continue into September. Barring creative solutions - which are possible but unlikely - a legislated settlement would be imposed just before school resumes, or after a couple of weeks of strike...

If that happens it seems to me that the teachers will need the public (even more) on their side. Paul thinks that they could help ensure that that happens by re-opening schools for summer programs. 

Me, I'm not so sure because, as myself and others have opined before, it could be argued that one of the problems here is that the teachers haven't been militant enough in the face of this extremist government's 12 year long war against them.

The thing is...There are kids to consider here. 

And a lot of kids who go to school in the summer really do need some help.


This Day In Snookland...Let Them Eat Software!


You may have missed it, given the latest developments in the Snooklandian's war on teachers, including the dumbing down of the provincial tests, but last week Mr. Fassbender was caught bending facts on yet another topic.

Lindsay Kines had the story in the VTC. Here is his lede and a bit more:

Education Minister Peter Fassbender appears to have been working behind the scenes to discredit a computer system developed by the Saanich school district to track student grades, attendance and other records, documents show.

Despite stating publicly that districts were free to adopt a system of their choice, Fassbender sent a letter to directors of the B.C. School Trustees’ Association in February, advising them to steer clear of Saanich’s openStudent software.

In the letter, Fassbender accuses Saanich of trying to “undermine” the ministry’s own student information system, MyEducation B.C., by enticing districts to select openStudent. He then portrays openStudent as costly and incompatible.

“We believe that we have selected the best product to support the transformation of education in this province and I am very concerned there is misinformation being actively communicated through a variety of channels,” he states in the letter, which was obtained by the Times Colonist under B.C.’s freedom of information law...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Saanich began working on openStudent in 2011 with the goal of using local expertise to create a made-in-B.C. student information system. By using freely available open-source tools, officials believed they could develop the system for less than $5 million, with yearly maintenance pegged at less than $1 million.

The B.C. government, meanwhile, signed a 12-year deal with Fujitsu last fall to deliver MyEducation B.C. at a cost of up to $9.4 million a year.

The thing that really bugs me about this one is that it's more than money because, with openStudent,  Saanich was doing things locally, with local techies 'n geeks, and they were doing it with open source software.

And isn't that how you really grow and diversify an economy?


Why do the Snooklandians hate that?

Hmmmmm....I wonder if anybody did any lobbying 'round here for the fine folks from far away (i.e. Fujitsu)?...I bet NVG already knows the answer to that one...


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Motivations Of Mono-Synaptic Minister MacKay.


We reckon the Galloping Beaver's Dave is pretty much on the money:

...What's motivating this mono-synaptic twit?

He sold out a "big tent" party (which admittedly had been shredded by Mulroney) to a bunch of intolerant, racist, small-minded, knuckle-dragging, low-life fascists just to get a seat at a particular table. This is not someone motivated by a sense of public service.

Could it be that Peter Mackay is so dumb that he believes he can outlast Harper and, because he sold out his once centrist party to the Calgary republicans, that he is the anointed monarch?

Please ... he can't be THAT stupid.

And can you imagine what the forever frat-boy would give away on the international stage if he were, somehow, anointed to actually run the country formerly known as Canuckistan...

Heckfire - I reckon he would just give away all of Northern Alberta to the fine folks from Beijing if they asked for it.

And if the steely-eyed Russian promised to trade a half-ownership in the Vladivostok team in the KHL we reckon the mono-synaptic one would give away the Yukon in a nanosecond.


What's Going Down With Vision?


It would appear that voting for the Big Tent Party's parks board nominations just may have been pre-determined by tiny puffs of smoke released from a tiny tent located deep within the bowels of the machine.

Raymond Tomlin, who gave us an inkling of what was coming last week, released a teaser on the situation last night (and promises to have more later today):

"...Just as VanRamblings predicted last week, the New Voices, One Vision slatetrounced those candidates running to secure a spot on the Vision Vancouver Park Board slate — who had not been identified by the party as supplicants to party interests, over the interests of Vancouver citizens who actually give a damn about parks and recreation in our city — to be certain, that would be most of us, although Vision surely doesn't give a damn..."

And can somebody remind us why, exactly, Sarah Blyth has left the tent entirely?

Mr. Tomlin promises to have more up later today...


Sunday, June 22, 2014

This Day In Snookland...Why Not Just Give The Cronies (Absolutely) Everything?


We have now suffered the ignominy of giving the boys in the big money bag (see here and here) most of our large gauge railway and a whole bunch of tax credit default swap moola for almost an entire decade.


The good news, I guess, is that they still haven't gotten their mitts on that 'tainted' bit of spur line to Roberts Bank that we've since paid the junior cronies millions of dollars per kilometre to 'run' ever since.


What's left?

Well, North Van Grumps speculates that maybe, just maybe, somebody somewhere just might be thinking of giving away our small gauge stuff instead:

...Rocky Mountaineer, an operator of a tourist rail service between Vancouver-Whistler-Kamloops-Canadian Rockies-Calgary and back, has a proven passenger track record since its take-over of the BC Rail line from the BC Liberal Government in 2004. CNR freight division has experienced the same feat, with the same deal, but with no tolls being collected at bridges/tunnels, which would have gone to the BC Treasury.

There's a (potential pipe-dream) plan afoot to regain those lost tolls by having Rocky Mountaineer taking over the money losing Miniature train loop with the proceeds split four ways: BC Treasury, Rocky Mountaineer, The First Nation people, and the Vancouver Park's Board...

And why not?

After all, if you are going to give away all the large toll revenue why not pull a bait-and-switch and allow the Cronies and the Snooklandians alike to feel good about letting us keep a wee bit of the lucre that can be squeezed from all those families taking a ride on the last affordable train in Lotusland come holiday time?

(and just think of the photo-ops!)


Friday, June 20, 2014

This Afternoon In Snookland...Further Adventures In 'Advanced' Education.


From the 'Baldrey School Of Journalism', Lesson Seven:

Sign up to take all thirteen lessons from that other 'Dean' of Lotuslandian journalism, 'Western Hemlox'....




This Day In Snookland...The 'Other' Virk Affair.


The Clark government's minister for advanced education, Mr. Amrik Virk, is in a bit of hot water, as documented by the Clark government itself, for being involved in a scheme to pay a couple of Kwantlen administrators and extra $50K each, essentially under the table.


Even Mikey-Mike couldn't ignore this story:

...(L)et me bring you up to speed, because the stench on this one is still rising:

The report found Kwantlen broke the government’s rules on executive salaries when Virk, a former RCMP officer, was on the university’s board of governors.

The university, faced with a strict salary cap, paid two senior executives $50,000 each in addition to their base salaries. The payments were recorded as “pre-employment contracts” and not reported to the government, breaking a compensation disclosure rule...
(note to self - why is it always the 'administrators' that are so special at our advanced educational-type places?)



Here's the thing, just in case you missed it...

Turns out that the Dipperians, through David Eby, tried to do a little advance wurtlitzering earlier this week on the actions of the good Mr. Virk knowing, I would guess, that the Kwantlen flim-flam report was coming.


Looks like there might be a bit more "Les(s)" in the good Mr. Virk than we previously thought.

Michael Mui was one of the few proMedia wags to pick up that story:

The New Democrats say Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk was in a conflict of interest when he appeared at a Surrey board of variance meeting in 2005 as a “neighbour” to support construction-related changes at a property his wife’s company owned.

Documents shared with 24 hours show Virk — who was a police officer at the time — presented a petition to the meeting to show himself and other neighbours were not opposed to the changes.

“We are the neighbours directly to the south and it is true that this property is unique and it does make more sense to have the building face designed accordingly,” he said, according to Surrey’s board of variance minutes...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Virk, in a statement, acknowledged that he spoke at the meeting.

“My wife — a realtor — and sister-in-law were registered owners of the company that owned the property next to us,” he said.

“All neighbours of the property signed a petition of support, including myself. I did speak at the meeting as a neighbour.

“Records state that I said no neighbours had an objection to the variance.”


There you have it.

Demonstrable conflicts of interest just don't matter as long as you just admit that you were doing it and tell everybody to move on.

Sure sounds like a perfect fit for Snooklandia to me.

And while the advance wurlitzering may not have taken this time, clearly there is something different going on with thought/planning/executing of a BCNDP media strategy under Mr. Horgan...We noted this right off the bat when he set up advanced one-on-ones with people like 'The Dean' prior to even taking the leadership...And getting Mr. Eby out front early and often, doing the people's work, is a good thing, regardless....As a bonus it will also help innoculate him against the smears that are sure to come (and have come before) for his history as 'gasp!' a 'community organizer'...
Perhaps it is not surprising for Ms. Clark to have this particular fine fellow as her advanced education minister....After all, to her, it would appear that one of the goals of being an accidental academic tourist is to be able to say....'Look! I can see Maggie Thatcher from my dorm room!'
Interestingly (tellingly?), what really got Mr. Smyth exercised was not the actual details of the Kwantlen winky-winky deal making with top 'scholars', but instead the way the gov't report was document dumped in the massive media wake of the NGateway decision by Ottawa... 
So, there you go....An entire post without mentioning demonstrable untruth released from the former stomodeum of the keeper of all the promises himself,  Mr. Factbender.