Are the BC Greens Really Serious?

John Horgan, Andrew Weaver
All smiles now!*

I am going to preface this post with the fact that I am over the moon about the NDP-Green coalition taking power in BC. We were about 8 years overdue for a regime change. It will nice to see a little bit of compassion coming out of Victoria instead of the usual, victim-blaming detritus. I think John Horgan did an amazing job with the election and I am pleased he will (most likely) have the chance to serve as our premier.

I am finding it a bit odd that Andrew Weaver, environmentalist and passionate Green, would not want to be in Cabinet. In coalition governments, quite often, the cabinet will be representative of the agreement. Here is a chance for Weaver to get out of the weeds of Opposition and find out what it’s like to govern. So, why then, would he choose not to be part of Cabinet?
I have my theories. I think that by not being in Cabinet, Weaver has plausible deniability if/when some things happen that the Greens oppose. He will be able to say that it was all the NDP and they supported them on confidence matters. It’s really easy when you are in the opposition, with no hope of ever forming government, to just simply oppose for opposition’s sake. Once you are part of government and actually responsible for passing legislation, you actually begin to see what actually goes into making governmental policy. It’s not as easy as saying: No pipelines (as BC is about to find out very soon and the topic of another post) is easy to say but hard to implement. Or proportional representation – very easy when you are in opposition but a huge undertaking to implement. Just remember, it took them more than 18 months to undo the HST and revert to the PST.
I think if Weaver and the Greens are really interested in government then one of them should step up and get a cabinet post. The most logical person is Weaver.
*Image from this link.

General Observations from a mind that NEVER STOPS!

  • The election – I think the Liberals are right on giving free tuition to veterans so they can earn a degree. I am not sure why this ever would have been discontinued from WWII days. Seriously, if we cannot provide a post-secondary education for our soldiers we are falling down on what we owe them. We also must restore disability payments not lump sum payments to injured veterans. We must ensure a basic income that allows for dignity to people who have served Canada in wars and other international incidents particularly if they have been injured.
  • I was pleased to hear that the new direction of the provincial government seems to be one of conciliation rather than deception. A protocol has been signed between the Children’s Advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and the Ministry of Children and Families. Basically this protocol will hopefully improve Turpel-Lafond’s access to important information she needs to ensure that BC’s children are safe in the care of the ministry. I am hoping that this agreement is a sign of things to come with Christy Clark as premier.
  • A many of you know, I go for weekly blood tests so that they don’t almost kill me again with Imuran. I have really small and buried veins, which makes getting blood out of me very difficult. I basically have one vein. They will never see it but they can find it. Of course this makes it very difficult. I agreed to let the student take my blood. However she became reluctant when she was having trouble finding the vein. Even after her trainer found it she was reluctant to do it. I told her I was fine with her trying. So she did and she did it! She let out a little squeal when she saw the flash. I think it is very important to be patient with students and to let them learn on you.
  • I had my mother do the Vote Compass and she came out as a Liberal. I just about choked when she told me. She has been a life-long Conservative. It seems that the Vote Compass tends to place people slightly to the left of where they normally vote.  I am not going to hold my breath for my mother to vote Liberal.

BC’s Drunk Driving Flip Flop

BC’s Liberal Government has been busy patting itself on the back for having some of North America’s toughest drunk driving laws. Basically, anyone blowing .05 BAC faces huge fines with the possibility of having her/his vehicle impounded. Apparently, the hospitality industry is feeling the decline in revenues as people are no longer stopping in for a beer or six on the way home. Additionally, there have been complaints that police are impounding too many vehicles. None of this really makes sense because if no one is drinking in the restaurants and pubs then whose vehicles are being impounded but I digress.

As of today, the Liberals are talking about changing this very progressive piece of legislation. One might ask why? Do we think that drinking and driving is no longer an issue? I doubt it. Instead it would seem the Liberals are running scared as their numbers are low, Gordon Campbell has resigned and there is no heir apparent. The Liberals have always been sensitive to business and protecting its interests. Already stinging from the HST, the hospitality industry is suffering. The BC Liberals are responsible for both pieces of legislation and they can’t really repeal the HST at this point.

The role of government in society is to protect the citizenry from the action of others. Governments pass laws to regulate and they prosecute when laws are broken. Governments are supposed ensure that business activities do not endanger the public good. For the government to consider repealing legislation designed to protect the public because a certain type of business is suffering is a clear abandonment of their fiduciary responsibilities. As a society we are not here to ensure the short-term viability of any industry. If their business model is not sound enough to withstand some changes in legislation then perhaps there is something wrong with the model.

Drinking and driving is a very serious societal problem. Driving a car is a privilege it is not a right. Any amount of alcohol or other mind-altering substances impedes our ability to drive. Nothing good ever comes from drinking and driving. People die as a result of drinking and driving. All of this makes one wonder why our government would even consider allowing more drunk drivers on the road legally.

The Day After

Well, the sun rose and Gordon has still resigned! It does not seem like there is a long line up of BC Liberals wanting to take on the leadership. Many seem to equate it with an impossible task like ‘walking on water.’ I think anybody from within the current cabinet anyway would still have Gordon Campbell stink on them.

Many potential candidates like Dianne Watts, Mayor of Surrey or James Moore, MP in Coquitlam have been mentioned. Bringing in a candidate from the outside will give the BC Liberals their best chance of being re-elected as a person from the outside can distance themselves from the Campbell years. If someone like Kevin Falcon or Rich Coleman or Colin Hansen were to take the helm, the electorate would be more likely to remember BC Rail, ripping up contracts and the HST, not to mention the broken promises of social housing with the Olympics.

It will be very interesting to see how this unfolds and what the NDP does to seize this opportunity. The BC Liberals do not have to call an election until 2013. Any good strategist would recommend staying with the set election date so that the new leader can distance him/herself from Campbell. This means that the NDP has to pace. They need a new leader and would be wise to also call a leadership convention so that the playing field is at least level. I do not see how Carole James is ever going to be elected premier. As usual, interesting times in BC politics.

Gordon Campbell Resigned

Gordon at his best!

I am not sure there is much else to say but squeeeee!!!! I heard the announcement at 11 am that he was making an announcement and I posted on facebook suggesting he might be resigning and I was correct! No one wanted to bring the knives out, instead they felt it was better to ‘honour’ Gordo’s career in public service.

So let’s have a look at this so-called career. From the time he was elected premier of BC, Campbell had a very distinguished career as a tyrant who targeted the poor and the disenfranchised in our province. He tore up contracts for some of the lowest paid health care workers. He made draconian cuts to income assistance and benefits to people with disabilities. He targeted the most vulnerable people in the province by re-assessing their disabilities and in the end, 33 cases were closed.

He made countless broken promises. From stating he would not sell off BC Rail to not introducing the HST. Then of course there was his stellar behavior as an individual. We all remember his DUI in Hawaii. He never really faced any consequences for an offence that should have brought him down. In the end, a former premier was his undoing with his HST petition and threats of a coordinated recall campaign.

I would like to think he resigned because he had a conscience. Given his track record, it is apparent that he does not have one. Likely caucus dissidents were making too much noise for him to be able to keep things quiet. His resignation was his way to save face and to prevent an internecine war like the one brewing in the BC NDP. Feasibly there is time for a new leader to come in and rebuild before the next election.

My hope is that the electorate does not forget that it was the Liberal party who was responsible for all of the things that have happened under Gordon Campbell’s leadership. Let’s hope that Carol James makes it a ‘two-fer.’

Driving under the Influence of Alcohol

Recently, BC has changed the laws around drinking and driving. Specifically they have lowered the amount of alcohol from .08 to .05 BAC. The complaints focus around the fact that police can now deliver alcohol related consequences at the road. According to the Province of BC, drivers at .05 BAC level are 7 times more likely to be in a fatal crash. Up until this legislation was introduced and across most jurisdictions the limit is still .08! This is a recipe for disaster and more deaths from drunk driving.

I believe no one should be allowed to drive with alcohol in their systems. Here are some of my reasons:

1. It is very difficult for people to gauge how much alcohol they can consume and still drive safely. Metabolizing alcohol is such an individual thing. It can depend on body size, food consumed, the type of alcohol and individual metabolism. Unless you know, scientifically how you, personally, metabolize alcohol in any situation, none is safe.
2. Quite often a blood alcohol level can continue to rise long after someone has stopped drinking. Someone could finish a drink, get behind the wheel and they can continue to become more intoxicated.
3. We drive at high speeds. Conditions can change in an instant. There is so much information coming at the average driver that it takes one’s full capacity and attention to respond to the road. Even being tired can impede one’s reactions. How much more can alcohol affect reaction times?

I think the police should have the right to take dangerous or potentially dangerous drivers off the road. If you are blowing .05, your BAC level could still be climbing. Knowing that these drivers are 7 times more likely to be in a fatal crash, I am happy they are off the road.

I have never driven after consuming alcohol. I had long stopped drinking alcohol as I didn’t like how it made me feel. The one time I did go out and drink was when I finished my Master of Arts degree. We took transit and a cab home. I just don’t see any reason why people need to drink and drive. If you are going to drink don’t take the car or have a designated driver. It is not a difficult concept.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the Handcuff Edition + a PSA

Zoe continues to grow and change, literally in front of eyes. Her colours continue to change. At this rate there is not going to be much white left on our formerly white dog. Then there is her ‘tude! She has one as big as the Grand Canyon. She does things her way all day every day. When I eat in the living room she sits on the leg support of my chair and paws at me when I don’t feed her fast enough. So I come up with what I think is a perfect solution: If she bugs me, I lower the foot rest slowly and she goes to the floor. Well little Mz. Shihtzu goes down once and then down twice. The third time I was about to lower her she launches off the footrest, on to my chest and ultimately closer to the food. What a dog!

I’ve avoided commenting on the MV Sun Sea for many reasons. However today I just couldn’t take it anymore today. They are bringing out the refugees in handcuffs. Handcuffs. Why on earth do you need to handcuff an approximately 20-year old woman in handcuffs? Today, I was ashamed to be a Canadian. Why our government feels the need to handcuff people who fled their home country due to civil war and political unrest is beyond me. What danger did this young woman pose today?

I am also extremely tired of all the call-in talk shows on the CBC that seem to cater to white, straight men speaking with all of the privilege they enjoy in this great country. They seem to have so little compassion for those who are less fortunate. By accident of birth they are here in this country instead of Sri Lanka.

I am sick to death of the heat. My hemoglobin dropped by 10 points in a week! I am thinking that it must be the heat and the stress it induces in my world. I could tell something was off because of my fatigue level. Low hemoglobin combined with ulcerative colitis fatigue makes me really, really tired. Bring on the beef and the iron supplements.

Now for the PSA: I am happy that there is a cold front moving in. I am sad that it will be bad for the forest fire situation though. Apparently the entire province of BC is extremely dry. It is so dry in fact that the provincial government is asking people not to go camping in the back country. I hope folks heed this warning because outrunning a forest fire is not very likely. Although I cannot find a link to the request for people not to go to the back country. Here is a link to the forest fire situation.

Oh the Government

So I used to work for the province of BC. I quit in Feb of 2007 to take another job. A couple of months later I received a letter in the mail advising me that I had been overpaid by $212 and they wanted me to repay this money. Now, the province has a very elaborate computerized payroll system. Everything is entered, in real time, by the employee and signed off by a supervisor every pay period. They withhold one week of pay so there is always time to play catch up if they needed. Anyway, I argued with them and demanded proof. They sent me a bunch of stuff but they still did not convince that I owed them any money so I ignored it.

Fast forward to March of 2008. I received a new letter from someone else demanding that I pay this $212 or they would report it to the credit bureau. I tried to email this woman but it never went through. So, finally, I phoned. The first person I talked to had no idea how to collect a debt from a former employee. Finally, they transferred me to someone who did. I paid the $212 on my credit card. I told her I was doing this under duress as I did not believe I owed them any money. She took the payment anyway.

Yesterday I get a message on facebook from one of my former co-workers. She tells me that they have a cheque there for me from the Ministry of Finance. She said they had accidentally opened it and what did I want them to do with it. I gave her my address and asked how much it was for. And, you guessed it, it was for $212 minus some deductions!!!

Now, here is what I do not understand. First of all they make me pay money I don’t owe. When they are trying to find me to tell me I owe this money they have no problem locating my address and mailing me a letter. Then when they then decide I don’t owe them any money they send it to an office I have not worked at since at least 2005! I had been at different offices before I quit. I am stymied. I will update once I see the deductions.