by Eva van Loon
The protest petition was wildly successful, garnering more than 150% of the required signatures to take it to the next level.
Vanderzalm’s Fight HST group couldn’t prevent the imposition of the so called Harmonised Sales Tax July 1, but they have every intention of forcing the government to deal with the effects of the petition. For example, two dozen MLAs, from the ridings where the greatest proportions of signatures were gathered, have been listed as potential targets for recall in November. That should light a fire under a few political rumps. Read more »
by Leslie Thorsell
As I was enjoying magnificent pictures of Eagle River and Stillwater bluffs at Friends of Eagle River’s meeting in February, a slide came up of Horseshoe Lake and River. My breathing stopped momentarily–I couldn’t believe my eyes. Could this be the same Horseshoe Lake where I had spent time swimming in this paradise and lying in the sun in awe of the pristine surroundings? I remembered conversations with tourists who were paddling the canoe route, talking about how lucky we were to live here. Now in front of me the
forest was gone, along with its inhabitants. All that was left were some anorexic trees strewn across the stream. Island Timberland, BC’s pine beetle, had struck again.
Since the deregulation in 2004, BC’s forests have been an open market, being logged seven days a week. Port Alberni can attest to that: their mayor sat on the “hump” one afternoon and counted 96 logging trucks in one day, all raw-log exports with no local benefit to the community–quite the opposite. Island Timberlands appears to be acting irresponsibly as a sustainable company or employer, cutting trees down faster than they are replanting, and will have no need for employees once the product is gone. I was told by an employee of Island Timberlands that the plan is to cut down every old-growth tree left standing within five years, so as to halt any
controversy. Ninety per cent of old-growth forest has already been cut down and it seems that 100% of our natural heritage is to be sacrificed. Eagle River is next on the agenda.
It is up to us as a community–environmentalists, business owners, teenagers, anyone with a voice who sees the importance of leaving this area natural and protected for the wide variety of fish and animal species–to speak up now. Time is running out. Read more »
by Eva van Loon
...are we doing?
BC Liberals just flew 5 planeloads of humans to Hudson’s Hope to deliver a news release.
Wouldn’t TV, Youtube, Facebook, or even old–fashioned newspapers or the steps of the Legislature have served? A single plane flight uses 3.5 years of an individual’s carbon emissions—who initialed this cost on poor old Earth’s carbon-balance sheet?
Must be some event, you’re thinking. Some earth-shaking, mind-bogglingly new approach to sustainability. A harbinger of a healthier long–term way to save our province from becoming industrial wasteland. Wow! Wish I were in Hudson. Hope for this!
Hearing the announcement on beleaguered CBC, I thought I’d been taking crazy pills. Gone partly deaf or missed April Fool’s. Or I’d slipped over into Alzheimer’s and was reliving the Seventies. Site C? They’re going ahead with that damned dam in the north? Again? Didn’t my generation win that battle 40 years ago?
Another battle ahead. Last year, 700 rivers proposed for exploitation. This year, Site C. The same tired justifications: “good” short-term jobs, steady resource base, future need—as if we can increase population without end. However, the PIPs (People in Power) are not so naive as in our longhaired days—every proposal is first greenwashed, so that it’s easier to make prudent questioners look like idiots. Read more »
by Eva van Loon
The coming Huge Stupid Tax may significantly damp down the fires of independent learning in your community.
Tutors, home-schooling and micro-practices like cognition therapy may well simply fizzle out in the white foam of bureaucracy. Parents and students will have fewer choices in their efforts to cope with learning difficulties.
At present, educational services don’t attract PST. If practitioners are well under $30K a year, they don’t attract GST, either. Nice for students and parents. Makes life a little easier for them and gives the small practitioner or tutor a few more clients, a few more dollars.
One can live, more or less, on under $30K, and for the semi-retired, partly disabled, or otherwise marginalised, that makes life bearable.
After HST comes in, however, educational services have to be “approved” by an educational institution to gain exemption from the tax—both taxes.
What “approved by an educational institution” means, nobody knows. Do tutors need to get a stamp of approval on their foreheads from the local School District in order to avoid becoming tax collectors? Would a letter from an ESL school do the job? Who knows?
One thing’s for sure: institutions will be none too pleased to have the job of approving outside services loaded on them—it’s like being conscripted into a volunteer fire department when you already have a full-time job.
In the case of cutting-edge, scientifically based learning modalities like cognition therapy, which are not readily understood by people outside the field, no doubt getting “approved” would be a monumental task.
Will you pay 12% more for a tutor or cognition therapist? In the case of my main program, that works out to a whopping $600! Isn’t life hard enough? How does the government deserve $600 of your money for the little bit of practice I do? Read more »
BC-STV, or “BC—ingle transferable vote” was recommended overwhelmingly by the BC Citizens’ Assembly in 2005 as the best method for electing politicians here in BC. The Citizens’ Assembly was a group of randomly chosen ordinary voters (politicians and party organisers were excluded) who spent a year studying systems from around the world and touring BC to listen to their fellow citizens. In choosing the best system, they focused on 3 key values:
1. fairness in representation (if a party gets 24% of the vote, it should get that many seats);
2. local representation (every voter should have an MLA who represents their views); and
3. more voter choice (voters should have more than one candidate from each party to choose from).
It’s clear that values 1 and 3 are not delivered by “First-Past-the-Post”, our current system. Even #2 is only partly fulfilled: right now, MLAs typically win with 40-50% of the vote. This means that 50-60% of the voters do not have a local MLA who supports their values—they are not represented.
BC-STV fixes this using the following features:
1. multi-member ridings—more than one MLA per electoral riding
2. a preferential ballot—voters rank the candidates using 1, 2, 3...instead of marking “x”s;
3. a counting system that makes as many votes as possible go to electing an MLA.
Multi-member ridings mean proportional results and better local representation. In a 4-MLA riding, if 50% of the voters support a particular party, they will elect only 2 MLAs. The other 2 MLAs will be from other parties. So, many more voters get an MLA from a party they support. (Under BC-STV, there is no increase in the number of MLAs, so to have multi-member ridings, the ridings must be bigger.) Having more than a single MLA gives voters more choice as well as more accountable government. Read more »
by Corey Matsumoto
Flawed process. That describes the Open House for Plutonic Power’s massive Bute Inlet Private Power Project, hosted on Tuesday, January 27, at the Town Centre Inn by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) and BC Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO).
The meeting’s purpose was (1) to inform the public about the proposed Bute Inlet hydroelectric project, (2) illustrate the process by which such projects are approved (or not), and (3) allow the public to ask questions regarding the project and its “terms of reference” (TOR—a document detailing the project’s objectives, stakeholders, risk factors, and execution plan).
The EAO’s mandate is to review major development-project proposals for potential socio-economic impacts as well as those on the environment, community health, and heritage, and for measures proposed to reduce, avoid, or manage such impacts. The EAO makes recommendations to the two provincial ministers who are to make the final decision on whether or not an project receives an environmental assessment certificate, or must provide more info.
Got the structure of how it’s decided what happens to our rivers?
Vancouver’s Plutonic Power Corporation, backed by U.S. mega-corporation General Electric, proposes to build 17 non-storage (run-of-river) hydroelectric facilities at the headwaters of the Bute Inlet.
The first three hours of the event amounted to an informational social, where keeners trickling in at four p.m. mingled with a multitude of blue-shirt-clad Plutonic representatives. Some guests were clearly in search of answers but many were still in search of questions. Charts and maps posted on the walls contained little discernible information, all of it from Plutonic-funded research—none of it available as handouts to study at home. As sporadic dialogue developed, one could sense an air of uneasiness as pro- and anti-run-of-river ideals stirred together as slowly as water and oil. Read more »