Thursday, July 31, 2014

This Evening In Snookland...If A Sparkle Pony Falls In The Forest...

....Will Anybody Hear?

Brent Jang posted up the latest story of a pullout in the pony patch  on the Globe's website earlier today:

Apache Corp. is exiting the Kitimat LNG project in British Columbia, leaving co-owner Chevron Corp. rushing to find a new partner to keep plans alive for exporting liquefied natural gas from Canada to Asia...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Kitimat LNG, one of the “Big Three” projects envisaged for British Columbia, has been put on shaky ground as a result of Apache’s pullout. It’s also a setback for the dreams of B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s government for a resource boom that is supposed to propel the province to new economic heights...

Paging Ms. Martin...


Meanwhile, the soft-peddle from that TeeVee reporter with all of that  'established credibility'  around here  continues. This time in the public (but no comments generated) prints:

Not a week goes by, it seems, that doesn’t see Premier Christy Clark talk, yet again, about the vast riches that lay in B.C.’s path if only a liquefied natural gas industry gets off the ground in this province.

It’s a theme that began before the last election, and one that helped carry her to a surprising victory with the voters. People seem to at least want to believe the fairy tale-like talk about billions of dollars coming our way, to help eliminate the provincial debt and even the sales tax...

Fairy tales?


One can't help but wonder if the 'people' would still believe in such things or if the election might have turned out differently if the 'established credibility' crowd that the good Mr. Keith Baldrey apparently belongs to had made like the 'idiot bloggers' and called out the Sparkle Pony Delusion for what it truly was and still is way back when?

Report on the Snooklandian attempt at deflector spin to counter this in the proMedia maw to follow...


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


First there were the promised beds that never that never seemed to arrive.

And then they came for their wheelchairs.

Now they just might be coming for their meat.

Sam Cooper, of The Province, has the story:

...Some nursing homes in B.C. have been cautioned that menus may need to be changed due to surging meat prices.

The costs of hogs and cattle hit all-time highs in North America this year experts say, due to a widespread disease that is killing off millions of piglets, as well as years of drought that have reduced the supply of cattle and changed farming production.

Amid the rising prices, Andrew Crombie, director of operations of a major food supplier to a number of B.C. care homes, has recommended that menu changes could help mitigate costs, according to an email obtained by The Province...


How to 'mitigate' such costs?

Well, an academic contacted by Mr. Cooper for his story suggested the following:

...(University of Guelph professor Sylvain) Charlebois said in order to meet protein requirements without significantly increasing food budgets, in the longer term nursing homes may have to increase usage of vegetable proteins contained in foods such as humus...


I've got an idea here in the land of plenty (of mega-handouts for the cronies).

Why don't we cancel a couple those ridiculous IPP contracts and use the money to take care of the people that need our help most.

Because they are not, as the fine folks from the 'major food supplier' called them, either clients or customers.

Instead they are citizens.

I mean, honestly, will this damnable Golden Era, underpinned by its race to the privatization bottom, a race, by the way, that did absolutely nothing to make things better either economically or socially, never end?

A very special Tip 'O The Toque to an Anon-O-Mouse on the IceBombBridgeCrazyEightsGods comment thread for the heads-up and the header...Thanks!
Tune, above, is E. and my re-working of the old Phil Ochs opus.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

At The End Of The Day...

....Some lists really matter.

Here are two compiled by Jody Paterson, which she argues are an indicator of our failed mental health system :

Fatally shot by police (and confirmed to have a mental illness):
2014 – Alain Magloire, Montreal
2013 – Michael McIsaac, Durham
2013 – Sammy Yatim, Toronto
2013 – Steve Mesic, Hamilton
2012 - Farshad Mohammadi, Montreal
2012 - Michael Eligon, Toronto
2011- Mario Hamel, Toronto
2010 – Reyal Jardine, Toronto
2010 - Sylvia Klbingaitis, Toronto (sole woman)
2007 – Paul Boyd, Vancouver
2009 – Jeff Hughes, Vancouver
2008 - Byron Debassige, Toronto
2007 – Unnamed man, Vancouver
2004 – Martin Ostopovich, Spruce Grove
2004 – Joe Pagnotta, Langford
2004 – O’Brien Christopher-Reid, Toronto
2004 - Magencia Camaso, Saanich
2004 – Antonio Bellon, Toronto
2003 – Unnamed man, Vancouver
2000 - Darryl Power, Newfoundland
2000 – Norman Reid, Newfoundland
2000 - Frank Hutterer, Ottawa
2000 - Otto Vass, Vancouver
1999 – Unnamed man, Langley
1999 - Unnamed man, Vancouver
1997 – Edmund Yu, Toronto

1997 – Thomas Alcorn, Vancouver
1997 – Unnamed man, Vancouver
1996 – Charles Albert Wilson, Vancouver
1996 – Wayne Williams, Toronto
1996 – Tommy Barnett, Toronto
1994 – Albert Moses, Toronto
1992 – Dominic Sabatino, Toronto
1988 – Lester Donaldson, Toronto

Fatally tasered and confirmed to have a mental illness:
2013 – Donald Menard, Montreal
2010 – Aron Firman, Collingwood, Ont
2007 – Howard Hyde, Nova Scotia
2007 – Claudio Castagnetta, Quebec City
2006 – Jason Doan, Red Deer
2005 – Kevin Geldart, Moncton
2005 – Alesandro Fiacco, Edmonton
2004 – Samuel Truscott, Kingston
2004 – Ronald Perry, Edmonton
2004 – Roman Andreichikov, Vancouver
2004 – Robert Bagnell, Vancouver (opinions divided as to whether he had mental health issues)

If you read Ms. Paterson's entire post I think you will be hard pressed to not be convinced by her argument.


The Ice Bomb Bridge Gods, They Must Be Crazy.


From Michael Mui's report in yesterday's 24 Hrs:

The companies that designed, built and operated the Port Mann Bridge claim the incident involving falling chunks of ice and snow that smashed windshields and caused accidents in late 2012 was an “act of God” and not because of any failures.

The accidents were caused by “unanticipated weather conditions,” claimed Transportation Investment Corporation (the operators) and the Kiewit/Flatiron General Partnership (the designers and builders), who filed the joint response Friday to the civil claim of a woman whose car was struck by falling ice and snow on Dec. 19, 2012...


I guess the god and/or the goddess concerned only manifested that unanticipated weather directly over the Port Mann crossing of the Big Muddy.

Because, to the best of my knowledge, there were no ice bombs in Surrey that day, or New West, or Mitchell Island, or the Airport, or anywhere else in the entirety of Lotusland.

And there sure as heckfire weren't any ice bombs being thrown from the Alex Fraser, Arthur Laing, Knight Street, Oak Street or Lions Gate bridges or any other bridge in the entirety of Lotusland either.


Could it be, maybe, that the fine folks from Kiewit/Flatiron and the rest of the General Partnership think their bridge itself is actually god?

Speaking of those fine folks from Kiewit...We can't help but wonder what Laila is going to say about this latest bit of news...
And, we also wait, with bated breath, for a scathing comment from the head of the BC division of the Canadian Taxpayers federation on this one as well...Or, perhaps not.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This Afternoon In Snookland...The Debt-Free Delusion.


Marvin Shaffer, of the CCPA has an interesting commentary up about the Snooklandian's 'Debt Free' fallacy.

Point one focuses on the curious inability of the puffed-up proMedia punditry's inability, even with all its 'established credibility' to see the fallacy for what it is, where it came from, and what it has led to:

...The issue, however, is not whether the promise of a debt free BC will be achieved. It won’t, at least not in my lifetime. The issue is whether it was ever a reasonable policy objective in the first place. After all, debt supports investments and long term assets, as (the VSun's Vaughn) Palmer pointed out in his curiously soft, almost apologetic (recent) commentary. If no debt means no investment in needed assets we will be making future generations worse, not better off.

I recall when Mike Harcourt was elected, the mainstream media (with Palmer at the forefront) railed against increasing government debt, with virtually no regard to the investments and assets it enabled. That anti-debt campaign had two unfortunate consequences. It caused government to cut back on capital expenditures, however needed and valuable they might be. And it encouraged government to look to ‘innovative’ off-book financing in order to reduce the reported amount of public debt. The political need to hide debt led directly to the widespread use of P3′s even if that increased, through long term contractual obligations, the liability future British Columbians would ultimately have to pay for...

And point two deals with larger, really and truly important policy matter of running up debt on mostly worthless junk while we avoid investing in things that actually matter:

...The real policy problem in this province is not that we are failing to move to a debt free B.C. The policy problem is that we are incurring debt for things we don’t need, that arguably don’t offer benefits in excess of their cost or at best are low in priority relative to other pressing demands (think Cadillac upgrade to the Sea-to-Sky highway, Smart Meters, the NW Transmission line and the retractable roof over BC Place). And at the same time we are failing to make the ones we should, for example in early education and high quality childcare, flood control and other preparation for extreme climate events, and a host of other areas....


Hidden debt backed with longterm liabilities driven by largesse handed out, hand over fist, to cronies while we simultaneously strangle the baby named 'public good' out back in the bathtub?

Is it possible that there are actually a few Straussian wizards hiding behind the curtains marked 'Pay-To-Play' in Snookland?

Tip O' The (itchyscratchysummer) Toque to Norm Farrell on the Twittmachine, who is most definitely NOT an 'idiot blogger'  for pointing us back towards Mr. Shaffer's post.


The Dilbit Diaries...The Bonfire Of The Flack Hackeries.


In case you missed it there is a pretty big dilbit ooze going down in and around Cold Lake Alberta that started sometime last summer.

And instead of really investigating and figuring out what is really going on, it would appear that Environment Canada has been more concerned with keeping any and all leaks to the media contained.

Mike De Souza, now working for the TStar has the story.

Here's his lede:

OTTAWA—Environment Canada’s enforcement branch asked a spokesman to “limit information” given to reporters about how long it took to launch a federal investigation into a serious Alberta oilsands leak last summer.

The comments were included in more than 100 pages of emails obtained by the Star that were generated in response to questions from journalists last summer about the mysterious leak in Cold Lake, Alta., that now totals about 1.2 million litres of bitumen emulsion, a mixture of heavy oil and water...


Don't worry.

It's ethical!

Well, that and Neil Young was way wrong.


Meanwhile, in other environmental news of our world...Tens of thousands of farm fish are dying in Nootka Sound and Alexandra Morton is not buying the industry's 'explanation' handed to the media.


This Day In Snookland...Does B.C. Now Have A Foreign Affairs Ministry?


From the final bit of Ms. Christy Clark's letter of support for Israel released not by her government or her political party but instead by the 'Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs':

"...As the world continues to hope for a peace that satisfies both Israelis and Palestinians, I’m proud that British Columbia can be counted as a friend of Israel..."

As a rationale, Ms. Clark also states the following in her letter:

"...Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens against terrorist attacks..."

All of which makes one wonder, especially since she appears to have appointed herself as British Columbia's foreign minister, if Ms. Clark knows much about the Palestinian 'national consensus' government of reconciliation that was formed in June.

That government was recently described on the OpEd page of the NY Times by the International Crisis Group's Nathan Thrall thusly:

...(I)n many ways, the reconciliation government could have served Israel's interests. It offered Hamas' political adversaries a foothold in Gaza; it was formed without a single Hamas member; it retained the same Ramallah-based prime minister, deputy prime ministers, finance minister and foreign minister; and, most important, it pledged to comply with the three conditions for Western aid long demanded by America and its European allies: nonviolence, adherence to past agreements and recognition of Israel..."

So, what happened in the period between the striking of the reconciliation government and firing of rockets by Hamas from Gaza?

Well, Mr. Thrall concludes the following:

...Israel strongly opposed American recognition of the new government, however, and sought to isolate it internationally, seeing any small step toward Palestinian unity as a threat...


...(In addition)...the key (on-the-ground) issues of paying Gaza's civil servants and opening the border with Egypt were left to fester...


...(Thus) after Hamas transferred authority to a government of pro-Western technocrats, life in Gaza became worse...

Of course, Mr. Thrall may be overstating things in terms of Israel's role in the kiboshing the emergence of a more reasoned and reasonable governance of all the Palestinian territories that could have mitigated, or perhaps even have prevented, the current asymmetric hostilities.

I, personally, cannot be certain if that is, or is not, the case because I am most certainly not an expert on Palestinian-Israeli relations.

But Ms. Clark, especially if she is going to speak for 'British Columbia' (and, by extension, all British Columbians) in her newly-minted and self-proclaimed role as foreign minister of our fair province, darned well better be.


You can read of/listen to more of Mr. Thrall's point-of-view if you wish....Here.
Subheader?....Well, you know....Iron Snowbird!


Saturday Night's Alight For Uke Cover Fighting!


Except that...

In this case the cover is also the original.

Brought to you by Bigger E. working barefoot in downtown Lotusland.

 E. was captured for posterity by 'Everyday Music' who has a heckuva local multilevel musical stratification archive-a-palooza project going... 


Monday, July 28, 2014

At The End Of The Day...


At the end of the day, I still like learning stupid stuff.

Stuff like, say, the fact that the Ogre part in Shrek was actually supposed to go to Chris Farley instead of Mike Myers.

How do I now know this bit of interesting, but ultimately useless, information?

Well it, and the fact that he takes more pride in  'creating' comedy where it didn't exist before than in delivering said comedy is something I learned from Mr. Myers during his recent long-form/no-wave conversation with Marc Maron that was posted-up by the latter earlier today.

Something else interesting?...Both the 'Wayne' and 'Dieter' characters were fully realized by Mr. Myers before he even got to Lorne Michaels' organ monkeyfied latenight meat grinder...


This Day In Snookland...Duplicity, Thy Name Is 'Briefing Note'.


Turns out that Ms. Clark's minister for family and children was being extremely economical with the truth when she told the legislature back in the spring that there were no plans to ship kids in custody from Victoria to the mainland.

Lindsay Kines and Louise Dickson of the VTC have the story. Here is their lede and a little bit more, which gives you both sides of the obfuscation sandwich (go read the rest of the piece for the filling labeled excrement):

B.C.’s minister of children and family development told the legislature in March that there were no plans to close any youth jails, even though she knew officials had been preparing for months to shutter the Victoria Youth Custody Centre, documents show.

Stephanie Cadieux told the NDP’s Carole James on March 24 that “at this point, we have no plan in place to make any significant changes because we’re still looking at what our options are to maintain the best service for the youth that we do have in custody.”

Newly released documents, however, suggest Cadieux was briefed on a plan at least four months earlier. One document seeks her approval for “announcements on December 4, 2013, to close Victoria Youth Custody Services.”...


...Cadieux was unavailable to comment on Friday. Her ministry issued a statement saying that officials were merely exploring options — including alternatives to closing the jail — last fall and winter.

The ministry added that the briefing notes are standard practice...


Mayber there is a great P3 privatization opportunity for out there for this one too.

After all, if we've gotta incarcerate some of our citizens, the least we can do is make sure that somebody makes some money off the deal.


How much are the fine folks running that ministry, you know the one that also saves a whole lotta moola by making sure that kids in care without foster families don't get a present (deemed 'extra') during the holidays?....Well, according to Kines and Dickson of the VTC, the number is $4.5 million....Gosh...How many bogus Bollywood bonanzas could you buy with that?...10?...5?...2?....1?....How about less than half of one... And no, despite my lack of 'established credibility' I am not making that up.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tresspassers?....In Creme Ville!!!?



That's how CP see's all those no good urban gardeners along the Arbutus line.

The VCourier's Mike Powell, with an assist from noted Dipper constituent backer David Eby, has the story in the form of a couple of excerpts from a letter signed by CP's Director of Governmental Relations Mike LoVecchio:

...We are a reasonable landowner who — for some time now — has allowed the presence of trespassers on our land without retribution. I know this is a harsh description of those who have put such care into beautifying our land with their unauthorized gardens, but what would you call those who park their vehicles or build storage structures or leave abandoned items on our land without permission?”...

{snippety doodle-dandy}

...Our intention on Aug. 1 is not to begin immediate demolition of community gardens; we have a plan on how to continue track improvement in this area and will handle the removal of encroachments as our work progresses. Should encroachments still exist on the land as we begin our work, we must remove them. The safety of our employees is our number one priority and non-negotiable....


And just what is the good Ms. Clarke up to these days anyway?

And, as noted previously, Stephen Rees watched a good stretch of the track in question...It is in no shape whatsoever to carry trains of any kind, mysterious or otherwise.


There Is A Club....And, Apparently, The 'Idiot Bloggers' Are Not Allowed In It.

No potshot(s) there, eh, Mr. Baldrey?

No siree.

And what, specifically, might Mr. Baldrey be twitting on about this time?....Don't know for sure, because he doesn't say...But we did notice this, from Norm Farrell, from a little earlier yesterday.
And for those who do not recall how Mr. Baldrey  responded previously to a demonstrable potential conflict of interest involving a fellow member of the Lotuslandian proMedia club, the Exile did an excellent dissection not long ago...Here.
As for this 'Club' business?....Well....This.


Helping The Poor...What Would Jesus Do?


Pretty sure it wouldn't be this:

...Canadian Christian Charities Association CEO Rev. John Pellowe believes Oxfam was "clearly offside in this."

"They're expressing surprise, but prevention of poverty is not a charitable purpose, and should not have been put in their [mission] statement," he said...

I guess some folks can justify just about anything in the name of something or other.

Meanwhile, Oxfam, after staring down both barrels of the auditor's big donation destroying gun, has removed the 'offending (anti-poverty) phrase' and received its registration.

Above was from Kady O. of the MoCo...Ms. Mallick of the Star also has more....


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Railgate Not Quite Dead Yet...Hey, Mr. Palmer! What Do You Mean By 'Tit-For-Tat'?


At the tail end of his latest VSun column, which mostly focussed on Kathleen Wynne's effective freeing of Laura Miller and her sterling character, Vaughn Palmer slipped the following into the mix, pretty much out of nowhere:

...A committee of the B.C. legislature has been reviewing the report of the independent auditor general into the decision to waive repayment of $6 million in legal fees, incurred by the two ex-B.C. Liberal party aides who pleaded guilty to corruption charges in connection with the sale.

Was the waiver tit-for-tat for the guilty plea? New Democrats on the committee want to put that question to the two now-departed-from-government officials who had central roles in the waiver: former deputy attorney general David Loukidelis and former deputy minister of finance Graham Whitmarsh...


What is that Mr. Palmer, some kind of code?

Are you saying that the evidence at hand (which includes Mr. Loukidelis' own written statement and a letter received by a reader written/signed by the then Assistant Attorney General, Richard  Fyfe) suggests that there may have been a prior inducement (or, as former BCL Attorney general Geoff Plant wrote, an 'understanding') for the accused to cop a plea so that they would later receive the big payout?

Come on, Mr. Palmer, please tell us, one way or the other, what you really mean.

Because, without such clarity, isn't it pretty hard for we, the great unwashed, who can't possibly understand your intricate insider-info-backed codification, to get exercised about such a thing?

And if we don't get exercised as a result of all this nicey-nice codification?


'Fading from the public consciousness' and all that.


Of course, Mr. Palmer doesn't actually have to tell we, the Whackadoodle Cultists of Railgate (BC Mary!), about what likely really went down...Weirdly, we have now actually outlived the 'Ledgie Boys and the Watercarrier' show that attempted the cult naming and shaming in the first place...Imagine that!


Ford Nation Shows Its (Real?) Face.


From the MoCo's calm, measured report of the bit of ruckus at last night's Ford Festiva:

...About six demonstrators protesting what they called Ford's homophobia turned up at Thomson Memorial Park in Scarborough, holding signs that called for the mayor's departure from office...


...The mayor's supporters, however, weren't pleased with the anti-Ford sentiment, with a number of individuals getting into verbal confrontations with the protesters.

At one point, a few Ford fans grabbed the signs being held by the protesters, tore them up, and threw them on the ground, stamping on them in the process.

"Go home," they yelled. "This is Ford Nation!"...

From a reporter's real time view on the ground:


Parks are (still) public places, aren't they?


Friday, July 25, 2014

From The Sublime Frying Pan...

...Into The Exquisite Friday Night Musical Fire.

It's Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, live, for an entire hour...

And if you stick around for the encore you'll get to see those Old Crow (but still barely not buskers then) Medicine Show fellers.

(as our old no-longer-blogging buddy Jim Bobby Sez might say)


All Snark Off...Ms. Clark Please Compensate Those Abused At Woodlands Immediately.


Ian Mulgrew of the VSun has this story.....

In 2002, BC's ombudsman told us that there had been terrible systemic abuses at Woodlands.

Seven years later,  2009 a class action led to a settlement in which it was agreed that folks confined at Woodlands since the Aug of 1974 would be compensated if they were subjected to such abuse.

About 100 cases have been resolved so far.


Five hundred unresolved cases remain and it appears that, at the very least, some of the delay is due to foot-dragging by our provincial government.


It would appear that the only right and decent thing here is for our provincial government is to deal with these cases immediately.

And if it turns out that waiting for folks to pass away to reduce 'costs' is a strategy strategy of 'our' government?

Well, that would be unconscionable, not to mention reprehensible.

And we would all be responsible.

The possibility that our government is using the passing of the abused as a strategy is not an entirely remote one given the bizarity of the law here and the fact, as detailed by Mr. Mulgrew, that three of the abused have already died since the 2009 settlement.


This Day In Snookland...The Third Man Rises.


Golly gee, would you look at this (courtesy the DeSmog folks):

The newly appointed head of the B.C. government’s communications branch is a former lobbyist for Enbridge Inc., the company that hopes to build the $7.9-billion Northern Gateway pipeline stretching 1,200 kilometres from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat on the B.C. coast.

John Paul Fraser, who DeSmog Canada has learned became acting deputy minister in charge of Government Communications and Public Engagement (GCPE) earlier this month, worked as a lobbyist for National Public Relations from 2008 until shortly before moving to the B.C public service in 2011.

He previously worked for Burrard Communications Inc. — a company founded by Premier Christy Clark’s former husband Mark Marissen — where he was registered with the Federal Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada as a lobbyist on behalf of Enbridge Inc...




Where, exactly, have we heard that surname before?

Oh, ya....

Now I remember...

Something or other to do with a commissioner of conflictyness.

Or some such thing.


The Further Disappearing Of The Sparkle Ponies?


Well, well, well...

Whadd'ya know:

Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd is seeking potentially billions in tax relief from the federal government in exchange for opening new markets for Canadian natural gas, as it inches closer to a final investment decision on a B.C. export terminal...


I guess what starts in Snookland doesn't necessarily stay in Snookland.


And it seems like just yesterday that Snooklandian economic guru (and noted elevator runner), Ms. Pamela Martin was telling us that the frack gas tooting Sparkly ones were going to make us all rich forever and ever and ever...


Private Jails? In Snookland?


You bet.

Only this is one of those P3 deals where we the public peons don't know how much we are actually paying out (and for what and why, exactly).

Joe Fries has the story in the Penticton Western News.

Here is his lede:

Third-party business interests outweigh the public’s right to know the dollar value of monthly payments to the group contracted to design, build and maintain the Okanagan Correctional Centre...


...Earlier this month, Partnerships BC released a report that confirmed the ministry’s assertion that the public-private partnership with Plenary Justice is indeed the most cost-effective way to finance, construct and run the 378-cell jail north of Oliver, which has a stated capital cost of $192.9 million.

Including other charges, such as facility maintenance and debt servicing, the report pegs the net present cost of the project at $241.6 million in today’s dollars over the life of the 30-year agreement.

Also included in the 28-page report, however, is a small graph that appears to show total payments to Plenary Justice will escalate with inflation, but average about $12 million annually if there are no penalties for missing service targets...

And here's the kicker.

...(Justice Ministry spokesthingy Cindy) Rose declined to provide the actual numbers used to draw the graph, but did reveal that in 2017-18, the first full year of jail operations, payments will total $10.8 million. That amount over the life of the 30-year deal equals $324 million, well above the stated net present cost...

Of course, the PAB-Bots probably already have the press releases written that will be released this time next year that say the prison cost us nothing.

Just like that ice bomb bridge.


And why is it, exactly, that that fine fellow from the 'Canadian Taxpayers Federation', who appears reluctant to crank up the wurlitzer on the matter of disappearing resource tax revenues in this province, never speaks of the billions for the ice bomb bridge?....Hmmmm....I wonder if it has, perchance, anything to do with.....This.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

This Day In Snookland...Who Likes The New Dipper Shadow Cabinet Most?


Which Snooklandian is happiest with the changeroo by NDP boss John Horgan?

Hands down,  we reckon it has to be the Minister of Advanced Education, Amrik Virk.

Because now that David Eby is the Dipper in charge of, as Bob Mackin suggested on the Twittmachine,  Rich Coleman (ie. Housing/Tourism/Liquor/Gambling) he will no longer be making mincemeat out of Mr. Virk on a regular basis due to a story line that began with this and just never quit.

It got so bad for Mr. Virk that even Stephen Quinn picked up on Mr. Eby's line of questioning on the MoCo Monday morning. You can listen to Mr. Virk not answer why he will not make the University Administrator Salary Cap numbers public ("there is a range" is Virk's repeated useless response) here. Have a listen if you haven't already, if only to hear 7 minutes of what the vacationing Puffmaster Flash would never, ever do.

Watching Mr. Eby take on the 'gambling' file (i.e. BCLC and PavCo combined) is going to be most interesting...Surprised Mr. Horgan didn't add 'Paragon' to the monicker as well...
There is a slightly cheesy Star Wars analogy in all of this if you wish to conjure it...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This Day In Snookland....We Don't Need No Stinking Archives!


Apparently, the BC Liberal government's failure to archive has been going on pretty much since the beginning of the Golden Era.

Bob Mackin is on the story, over at the Tyee:

...(In) a July 22 report.. B.C.'s Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham  (writes) that 33,000 boxes of government documents are languishing in storage, waiting to be archived.

Denham said records, whatever medium in which they are created, "perform a basic function in society -- to document its transactions, events, stories and decisions" and are crucial to a well-functioning government if they are properly created, stored and classified.

"However, records do not need to be retained by government forever and at the end of their operational life they are either destroyed or retained in the BC Archives consistent with legislative requirements," Denham wrote.

The 33,000-box backlog is the result of a "standstill within government" over who is responsible for paying to archive government records that stems from the 2001-2002 core review...


Is it possible that the Dobell Doctrine has taken over everything?

...(T)he insidious shift towards "oral government" is growing. E-mails must be preserved and accessible under FOI laws. A debate is looming over Blackberry records. Yet the premier's multi-tasking assistant Ken Dobell startled an FOI conference in 2003 by announcing frankly that "I delete my email all the time as fast as I can." (then Privacy Commissioner David) Loukidelis later reprimanded Dobell for publicly admitting he avoids taking notes so they aren't uncovered by reporters under FOI...


Boessenkool investigation anyone?

...A spokesman for the Premier’s office confirmed Monday (Oct 29, 2012) that no documents were created during the probe, saying all interviews and reports were done verbally....

Upshot?...This latest thing actually looks like a massive failure of some sort of bizarre, short-sighted quasi-privitization scheme (with longterm consequences) wherein various Ministries were told they would have to pay the BC Museum 'corporation' hundreds of dollars to have each box of their paper records digitized...They balked and have been paying a few bucks a box to stick 'em in warehouses for years and years and years now...
Uncle Bob makes reference to a 'Cool Hand Luke' quote at the top of his lede.... 'What we have here is a failure to archive'...He attributed it to Newman...I remember Strother Martin saying it...But it turns out that the titular character returns to it at the end of the movie...The interwebz are terrible things...


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Evening In Snookland...Mars?...There's No Water On Mars!


Last weekend, after her online editorial minions began posting up photos of the boss opportunistically 'running into' front line firefighters in the Okanagan, we wondered if there would be any such photos of  Ms. Clark coming across a Mars water bomber during the fighting of the then still growing West Kelowna Smith Creek fire.


Laila Yuile has done some digging and, given the 'pay-to-play' track record of both the Snooklandians and the Knotty Gordians before them (e.g. this), Laila wonders if, perhaps, the fine fellow and former longterm public servant mentioned below might be able to shed some light on why the Mars water bomber was shut down due to the non-renewal of a longterm aerial suppression contract with the Coulson Group (at a cost $750,000 per year) and why a new contract was implemented with Conair (at a cost $1,800,000 per year):

Hmmm.. who would be best suited to offer a knowledgeable perspective on the government's choice to go with the costlier contract to Conair?

How about someone with first-hand, government experience, who “joined Conair in the spring of 2013 after a 36 year career with the British Columbia Forest Service, all in the forest fire domain with 26 years specifically in airtanker operations. Jeff (Berry) was the head of British Columbia’s Airtanker Program from 1996 to 2013.”


This new hiring by Conair might or might not have had anything to do with the contract switcheroo by the Snooklandians.

But given the essentially empty explanation for the switcheroo that has been offered up by the Snooklandian Minister responsible, Mr. Steve Thompson, it is not unreasonable, in my opinion, for a rational person who has been paying attention to wonder what the heck really went down.

Laila also wonders if there might be some political payback being played on Wayne Coulson for his stance against the Snooklandian raw log export policy.

Go have a look at her entire post.

(There is also quite a bit of good discussion in the comments to Laila's post as well...Brett Mineer, in particular makes some thoughtful contrarian points...Gosh, maybe he should be speaking for the Minister - and I mean that it in a good, knowledgable, non-PAB-Bottian way)

West Kelowna fire update...As of 5:00pm Tuesday it was 60% contained....Snooklandian photo-op follow-up coming?


Skytrain Breakdown, Round II...."We Dispatched Our Staff Members, Up There, Where We Could."

That was the babble of a Translink apologist on CBC Radio One this afternoon that was uttered right after he had been dissing Skytrain passengers for taking matters into their own hands by getting out of the trains when they were getting NO INFORMATION during yesterday's massive shutdown.

The upshot, according to the apologist (I came to the conversation late so I can't say for sure who it was), is that it was just an electrical problem was caused by human error and they did their best to deal with it. Thus, no reason to do anything differently, especially when they have a '95% on-time record'.


Where have we heard/read/seen that 95% percent thingy before?

Oh ya, from the 'Skytrain Prez', Fred Cummings (and/or an 'online editor'-type minion), on the Twittmachine last week...

...Right around the time of that 'first' shutdown.

One thing we know for sure...None of the babble so far had come from the mouth of Snooklandian Transportation Minister, Mr. Todd Stone, because he is, according to CBC, hiding from the media... 


Monday, July 21, 2014

This Evening In Snookland.. Do We Orbit The Boss' New Centre?


From Jason Kirby's piece, in Macleans, on the flight from the redback subtitled "If China is the future of the global economy, why do rich Chinese want to get their money out?:

... (Last) week, B.C. Premier Christy Clark met with Chinese business leaders to make her pitch for Vancouver to become North America’s first offshore hub for trading China’s currency. Asia, she said, “is now . . . the centre of the world.”...


I guess, perhaps, 'say anything' statements like that are to be expected from a person who once told us that she could see Maggie Thatcher from her dorm room.

Not that that is like being able to see 'Russia from your house' or anything.

In real news involving, presumably, Snooklandians behind the curtain...Vaughn Palmer's latest piece on what must be done in the wake of the reinstatement of two (of seven) Health Ministry analysts is a good (and important) one...As an added bonus, see if you can spot the Dean's somewhat cultish reference to a Railgate connection.


Executive Pay Imbroglio In Snookland (ctd.)...


On the weekend we responded to Mike Smyth's latest column in which we reckoned that the very finest of the fine political columnist from the Province had missed the point regarding Mike de Jong's 'disappointment' with all these government(ish) contracts for the execs with the hidden pay-package sweetners.

In response, two readers, Norm Farrell and Lew, made excellent points regarding what is really going down here....

Norm Farrell wrote:
Any responses made by a Liberal ministers would be insincere theatrics. Remember the claims published before the last election? Here's a sample from the Vancouver Sun:

"VICTORIA — British Columbia has launched a crackdown on lavish pay packages for executives at most Crown corporations, instituting an indefinite wage freeze and reining in the perks they can receive..."

Well, how does that declaration square with reality? Here's the restraint suffered by by some of BC's highest paid civil servants:

Doug Pearce, CEO of bcIMC, annual remuneration:
- FY 2011 $ 1,029,218
- FY 2012 $ 1,280,786
- FY 2013 $ 1,582,186
- FY 2013 $ 1,806,345 (76% over 3 years)

Lincoln Webb, VP of bcIMC (one of more than a dozen VP's), annual remuneration:
- FY 2011 $ 724,507
- FY 2012 $ 866,777
- FY 2013 $ 1,035,871
- FY 2014 $ 1,198,308 (65% over 3 years)

Bryan Thomson, VP of bcIMC, annual remuneration:
- FY 2011 $ 553,689
- FY 2012 $ 702,447
- FY 2013 $ 847,759
- FY 2014 $ 990,367 (79% over 3 years)

Even without the latest year of double digit raises, the BC operation was paying three to five times the remuneration going to Washington State executives doing similar tasks, with a history of better results.

Leaves one wondering what the money managers at bcIMC know that keeps them exempt from restraints.

Lew wrote:
The Financial Administration Act empowers Mike the Finance Minister to recover public funds paid contrary to an enactment, or to launch a claim for recovery to remedy an injury, loss or damage in a specified or ascertainable amount that occurred as a result of an act or omission. There is a six-year limitation on the right to claim.

If public funds have been paid contrary to an enactment, or in a manner that has caused injury, loss or damage in a specified or ascertainable amount to the government, Mike the Finance Minister has a duty to recover said funds on our behalf and the power to do so. Instead he goes on record with an official pout and imposes disparate “penalties” for show. This because it’s all he can do given the way he and his government boss lady operate. By design, they haven’t done the necessary front-end work.

Norm Farrell has very well documented the real problem here. There is one government expectation for compensation of unionized government workers, the disabled, or children in need, and another for OIC appointees, favored contractors, senior bureaucrats, and all manner of parasitic sycophants that can be regularly spotted moving from curtain to curtain behind the BC Liberals in their many houses. The former expectation is a hard and fast zero vigorously enforced, while the latter is a privileged trough designed deep enough not to runneth over and alert the unwashed masses. When it does, Mike the Finance Minister can only act disappointed and look behind the curtain for a new trough designer.

Meanwhile Mike the legislative entertainment writer does some acting of his own.

'Nuff said?


This Day In Snookland...We Don't Need No Stinking Faith (Good Or Bad).



The Snooklandians are trying to make a pipeline deal with the Gitsxan.

And in their latest gambit they sent letters to hereditary chiefs offering  a low-to-midlevel hockey contract-type deal ($12 million) with a similarly pegged 'signing bonus' ($2 million).

Interestingly, the letter was not sent to the nation's official bargaining agent, the Gitxan Treaty Society.

Mark Hume has the story in the Globe:

...Bev Clifton Percival, a negotiator for the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, didn’t know about the letter until contacted by The Globe and Mail last week.

She said the B.C. government had been negotiating with the Gitxsan Treaty Society through the Gitxsan Development Corp.

But those talks were stopped June 22 to protest a treaty settlement the government had made, which gave some land claimed by the Gitxsan to the neighbouring Kitselas and Kitsumkalum bands.

Ms. Clifton Percival – whose group last week “evicted” logging, mining and sports fishing from Gitxsan territory to demand a bigger share of resource activities – accused the government of acting in bad faith by trying to go around the Gitxsan Treaty Society and resume talks directly with chiefs.

But John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, said the letter is simply an attempt “to engage with the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs” who are the decision makers in the community...

Sure thing Mr. Rustad.

'Engage' one group while excluding another.

Sounds like a slightly different tactic to me that many might describe as, at the very least, duplicitous.

And another thing, as Paul Willcock asks on the Twitmachine, how come the companies themselves aren't doing the negotiating?


Sunday, July 20, 2014

What's Really Up With The Arbutus Corridor?


Stephen Rees took a walk along the line between King Ed and Broadway yesterday and has the photographic evidence to prove that there is no way that CP is going to start running trains on the track again anytime soon.

So what's really going?

Mr. Rees offers up this opinion:

...CP are simply sabre rattling in an ongoing real estate negotiation with the City. The revelations are that the City has made an offer of “fair market value” based on an independent assessment – and that CP has not responded. CP had hoped to make a financial killing by selling the land for development. The City won a case that went to the Supreme Court that they have the right to determine that the line remain a transportation corridor. Obviously the value as a route for a bike/pedestrian route – and potential LRT line – is lot lower than the price it might achieve if there were to be little houses where the track rots now. But since the City has determined that is not going to happen, the CP letters going to people along the route about removing their gardens are simply a bargaining tactic – and not a very smart one. CP’s Public Relations people have to be grinding their teeth...

Hard to argue with him, I reckon.

And as a side bonus...In addition to the condo-dwelling farmers and public transportation supporters, here's hoping that CP has made at least a few denizens of Creme-Ville see red as well...Common cause and all that...


Executive Pay Imbroglio...No Mike, It Is You Who Should Be Mad As Hell.


Province columnist Mike Smyth can't figure out why Mike de Jong isn't more than disappointed:

Finance Minister Mike de Jong is officially “disappointed” at the latest news of under-the-table payments to public-sector executives in B.C.

Hey Mike: You should be more than “disappointed.” You should be mad as hell...


Why is it, exactly, that Mr. de Jong can get away with just being 'disappointed' about his government's hand-picked boards flaunting his government's fake salary rules that were only foisted upon us as a faux show of belt-tightening by his government-appointed/hired middle managers?

Because people like Mr. Smyth and his ilk let him get away with it with their never ending stream of feigned world weary 'how could they?' tripe.

That's why.

Here is how one of the ilk (non-Lotuslandian division) previously demonstrated how proMedia round here could jam the codswallop of the Snooklandians right back down their throats...


This Sunday In Snookland...But Did She Run Into Any Mars Water Bombers?

...."We are not going to stop spending money because it's expensive," (West Kelowna MLA Christy Clark) told reporters. "We are going to do everything we can to protect people and property across this province."

Clark said the province is well-equipped to battle wildfires, and whether the Mars water bombers will be reactivated is something that should be determined by emergency personnel....

Oddsmakers are split on whether Ms. Clark will be putting on a rappeling harness costume or hopping in a helicopter for today's newscyclery.


Meanwhile, in real news, the change in the weather and the hard work of firefighters on the ground has resulted in a 35% containment of the Smith Creek Fire that the PAB-Bots attempted to as a (distant) photo-op late last week.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Perhaps Pink Could Pen A Pro-Choice Letter Song To New Brunswick?

"...What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?..."

You may have heard that New Brunswick's only stand-alone (and safe and accredited) abortion clinic (which often offered its services to women without means at discount prices) is closing down, ostensibly due to a lack of funds.

And you also may have heard that this is because New Brunswick is the only province in Canada that does not allow accredited private abortion clinics to bill for its services through medicare.

All of which is really bad enough.

But what is really, really bad is 'Section 84-20' of the New Brunswick Medical Services Payment Act which stipulates that:

...Abortions are paid for (by medicare) only if they are performed in one of two approved hospitals after being deemed medically necessary by two physicians...

'Medically necessary'?




Essentially, if you are a woman without means in New Brunswick who can't afford to go to Halifax or Toronto you are now no longer in control of your own body.

In Canada.

In 2014.

Need more info/details?...Kaitlin McNabb put together a good '10 Reasons Why' piece at Rabble awhile back...It's here.


Marky-Mark, Moe and Dmitri Team-Up In Surrey...Are We All Snooklandians Now?


As Charlie Smith noted awhile back, Mark Marissen and Moe Sihota are, indeed, working together for a 'potential' mayoral candidate in Surrey.

Bob Mackin, in the Tyee, now has more, including the details on the 'third' man:

Surrey Coun. Barinder Rasode said she still hasn't decided whether to run for the mayoralty of B.C.'s second biggest city. If she does, only one person on her politically diverse campaign team could be in line for a job...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Rasode has assembled a team headed by Mark Marissen and Moe Sihota. The former is a veteran federal and BC Liberal strategist and ex-husband of Premier Christy Clark. The latter is the ex-NDP cabinet minister who was president of the party when it lost the 2013 provincial election under Adrian Dix.

The latest name to join Rasode's backroom is Dimitri Pantazopoulos, a federal Conservative who was the BC Liberals' pollster last year. Pantazopoulos was imported from Ontario in 2011 to be Clark's principal secretary and later became assistant deputy minister of intergovernmental relations. Pantazopoulos has worked on campaigns for Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day and Rob Ford...

But not to worry fine voters of Surrey....

Because Ms. Rasode tells Uncle Bob that she is still kinda/sorta a progressive because Dmitri will just be a nut-cutting pol guy while Moe and Mark will be the ones helping her build her much more important strate(r)gy and platformatic-type thingies:

...Said Rasode: "This is my campaign with my name attached to it, which is why I will be part of the decision making process, and people like Dimitri who will be hired to do work won't be a part of the building platform or strategy. That's what I have Moe and Mark for."...

So, essentially,  it would appear that the good Ms. Rasode is saying, out loud and with a straight face, that the ends justify any and all means.

Good grief.


Sure Thing, Mr. Duffy...Canada Will Try To Accomodate 'Your' Schedule.


Well, well, well, whaddy'a know.

Mike Duffy has decided to let the nation know when it would be OK for his curtain call/trial to begin (via McSushiboy's pro-blog):

...In a brief interview with the CBC, however, he (Duffy) said he wants to get the matter “before a judge as soon as possible; early 2015 is fine with me.”...

Sure thing senator.

And would you like a side-order of jailside cottages with that?


Friday, July 18, 2014

Summertime Jukebox Tune #8....Drive All Night.


Back in the days when my obsession with Springsteen began (which I have written about before) my Mom thought I was crazy to like a guy who sang like he had, to quote her directly, "marbles in his mouth".

This was back during time of Bruce's Darkness reincarnation/rebirth, post Mike Appel.


While 'Drive All Night' showed up on a later release,  the remarkably marble-free 'River' transitional double-album, it actually first saw the light of day as a digression called 'Sad Eyes' that was often plunked down in the middle of live versions 'Backstreets' during that infamous Darkness tour.

And, looking back on it now, I think my Mom was right.

Because it really was marbles (and mashed potatoes too) back then.

Here's my version, weirdly in the key of 'C':


This Friday Afternoon In Snookland...Mary, Mary So Contrary.


Snooklandian environment minister Mary Polak says that her government's legislation that will make it possible for private companies, industrial or otherwise, to remove parkland from parks will not result in said former parkland being used for...

...Industrial purposes.

Or some such thing:

..."Industrial development is not and won't be allowed in BC's parks," she (Polak) promised...

Gosh, Ms. Polak.

Can we hold you to that statement?


Meanwhile, Ms. Polak, who is starting to make former GordCo Earth Wind 'N Fire minister Joyce Murray look like Mother Nature, also released that Kitimat Airshed report which she (and, apparently, CP's Dirk Meissner) concludes states that more pollution from Rio Tinto and LNG processing doesn't matter because the skies can handle it.

Or some such thing.

And, just in case you were wondering, no, that 'independent' Kitimat Airshed quality report that the Snooklandians tried bury under the privilege of the Sparkle Ponies did not consider some of the worst of the worst stuff that really, really causes problems (i.e. particulates).
For the record...Green MLA and climate scientist Andrew Weaver does not agree with the conclusions of Ms. Polak or the stenography of Mr. Meissner...Mr. Weaver's report is here.


Railgate Remembered...Did Mr. Duffy Ever Meet Spiderman?


I've noticed a bit of sturm and drang on the Twittmachine about how it is bizarre that, in the Duffy case, it is only the alleged bribe-type taker who has been charged.


Obviously that cloak of Lotuslandian proMedia silence worked.

Because it would appear that nobody in Central Canada actually knows the 'briber vs. bribee/not-charged vs. charged' precedent what went down out here on the leftcoast during Railgate:

...(Mr. Erik) Bornman went to tell police he gave (David) Basi "a small number of smaller cash payments" but he was uncertain of the amounts and the frequency.

At the time, Bornman told police, he was busy working on the "Paul Martin leadership campaign, which took up a lot of my time."

Bornman went on to say that after the first cash payments, he began making regular payments by cheque to Basi through his cousin, Aneal Basi.

"I was paying him a set amount," Bornman told police. "I'm ashamed to say in return for his assistance in referring clients and his assistance on matters of government and for his, for his continued loyalty to my political endeavors..."

He said the first payments to Aneal Basi, who worked in government communications at the time, was "$1,000 and after that $1,500."

Bornman recalled Aneal Basi was worried about losing his job, so Bornman provided him with a CD-Rom of files to make it look like he doing work for Pilothouse.

He added the CD-Rom "was merely, you know, I'm ashamed to say that, it was...I guess a front that would've been used to substantiate the payments."

Later on, Bornman referred to his regular payments to Dave Basi, via his cousin Aneal Basi, as "bribes.".....

Mr. Bornman(n) (a.k.a. 'Spiderman'), the admitted purveyor of the Railgate bribes was never charged.



If Mess'rs Virk and Basi, the admitted bribe takers, in the end, got a measly six million, one can only wonder what Mr. Duffy could get if he were to agree to cop a plea?

Not that there would be a 'prior inducement' or anything like that if such a deal were to be made somewhere down the line, at the eleventh hour, just as some government and/or political party bigwigs were all set to take the witness stand during Mr. Duffy's trial.

Of course not.

Lotuslandian ProMedia cloak/cone of silence sound all conspiratorial and cultish to you?....Sure thing...Except, before you decide to pisshhaw that all away, you might want to read these exchanges, from back in the day, between our good friend BC Mary and then VSun managing editor (and current NPA Vancouver mayoral candidate) Mr. Kirk Lapointe...Ha! (and thanks to reader GWest for the reminder, in the comments to a more recent posting, here)...


This Day In Snookland...Kitimat Air Shed Report Comin' Down?


The other day we wrote about how the Privilege of the LNG Sparkle Ponies was being used by the Snooklandian cabinet an excuse to hold up the release of an environmental review of Kitimat's air quality just as locals were challenging Rio Tinto's desire to up the pumping of sulfur dioxide into the region's skies.


It looks like there is going to be some movement on that today. The following is from a CFTK TeeVee piece penned by Kathy Brookes:

It looks like the provincial government will release a long-awaited report on the Kitimat Airshed on Friday (today).

A media advisory today said Environment Minister Mary Polak will discuss results from the assessment, and ministry staff and the independent contractors who authored the report would provide a briefing...


Concerns have been raised over increased sulphur dioxide emissions from Rio Tinto Alcan's smelter once its modernization is complete, as well as the pollution potential of three planned L-N-G terminals, a proposed oil refinery and other projects in the Kitimat area...


Does sunshine (backed by local whistleblowers speaking to the Globe) win?

Thanks to Merv Adey for the heads-up on the Twittmachine.


This Day In Snookland...You Keep On Using That Term 'World Class'...

...I do not think it means what you think it means.

From Stephen Hume's latest, in the VSun, on big Rich Coleman's latest bout of codswallopanarianism when it comes to frack gassing:

The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre recently urged improving standards for regulating disposal of waste water from fracking, a technique by which natural gas is released from deep formations by shattering rock with hydraulic pressure.

Rich Coleman, the minister of natural gas development, responded with a letter to the editor huffing that the province already has “world-class standards.”

{snippety doo-dah}

...Everything in B.C. adorned with government’s fingerprints seems to be “world-class.”

But here’s the point raised by the UVic researchers: How do B.C.’s fracking and waste water regulations qualify as “world-class” if they are inferior to the European Union and the United States which are, by the way, even now improving regulations that already exceed B.C.’s?...


One can only wonder if any of the PAB-Bots ever want to make like those reporters from 'Russian Television' as they are forced to shovel codswallop like Mr. Coleman's 'letter' out the door.

Tagline rousing a latent earworm?...This (careful, there's sound).