ARCHIVE – Front Page Breaking News [September 2017]
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Friday, September 29 ~ VANCOUVER. He said he’d heard it was unusual to hang out for the entire week at a Union of BC Municipalities convention, but Premier John Horgan made it clear he was there to integrate as deeply as possible with the mayors and councillors of municipalities from across British Columbia. These are the people who are ‘on the ground’ meeting with constituents face to face. He needs those connections.
In his speech on Friday, September 29 — joking it would be rivaled as ‘the biggest speech ever’ at a UBCM convention (playing on the spoof popularity of crowd-size assertations on Saturday Night Live) — he went light on specifics about the wide range of deliverables that his NDP government still plans to roll out. Already, in the first few weeks since taking office in July 2017, Horgan and his ministers have been going down the checklist of campaign promises, including increased disability and income assistance, promising to build more housing considered ‘affordable’, and a focus on mental health and addiction.
Today he reiterated what is already in Selina Robinson’s mandate letter as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, that the promised 114,000 housing units will be in market rental, non-profit, co-op, supported social housing, and owner-purchase housing. However, some specifics included an announcement about 600 modular homes in being available for the Vancouver area, with 150 in Surrey, and more in Smithers “and any other community that modular will fit with your package of solutions”. The Premier described the homes as inexpensive, quick to place, and movable. He told municipal leaders officials: “If you’ve got land and zoning, we’ve got the cans. Let’s get this going.”
And while on the surface it sounded positive, Premier Horgan did level a bit of a blow to his own home riding, where the City of Langford is bidding on bringing the new Amazon Headquarters 2 (HQ2) to south Vancouver Island. As reported in West Shore Voice last week, the Amazon project is an opportunity for some 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars in investment. In the same breath as saying “let’s bring more high tech jobs to BC,” and encouraging all communities to step up to the Amazon bid process, Horgan said the BC government will financially back only Vancouver’s bid for Amazon HQ2, to the tune of $50,000.
Horgan pitched to “work with everybody in this room” to come up with innovative ways — all levels of government working together – for “a better BC for all of us”. He itemized the need for resource jobs, as well as in high tech, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. “Every corner of BC has something to offer the world. It starts by working together,” Horgan said.
He talked about the opioid crisis, with solutions seen as being in opening up more treatment centres, increasing anti-trafficking in law enforcement, and having already set up a new ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.
Regarding the threat to the BC softwood lumber industry, Horgan gave the crowd in Vancouver some verbal muscle, without specifics: “If the US wants to go to court… we’ve won every dispute we’ve had, and we’ll win this one as well.”
Premier Horgan said he had a bit of fun while in Vancouver by suiting up with professional firefighters of BC at the Vancouver fire operations centre, in the wake of having visited wildfire areas of the BC Interior this past summer. The worst fire season in BC’s history, this past summer saw communities devastated, people dislocated, and small businesses seriously set back. Dealing with the wildfire scenario was Horgan’s first major requirement for action after he became Premier on July 18. ~ WSV
Tuesday, September 26 ~ BC. Government undertakes fiscal sustainability review
“Trust but verify” and “garbage-in garbage-out” are sayings that come to mind with this BC finance announcement about checking the quality of the information upon which earlier budget projections were based.
It’s a fiscal sustainability review and it makes good sense for a new government to do this.
Indeed, the BC Ministry of Finance released a statement today saying that the review will “help inform the development of Budget 2018 and the next three-year fiscal plan”. It will include a review of financial information submitted to the Province by specific Crown corporations and the broader schools, universities, colleges and health (SUCH) sector.
Independent consultants have been contracted to help the provincial government assess the quality of financial information built into the baseline assumptions in the budget development process. The goal of the review is to assess the information, evaluate risks and identify options that will assist the Province with developing, monitoring and managing to its overall fiscal plan targets.
The review covers selected significant Crown corporations including: BC Lottery Corporation | BC Hydro | Insurance Corporation of British Columbia | Liquor Distribution Branch | BC Housing Management Commission (including Provincial Rental Housing Corporation).
In addition, the review will include a high-level assessment of the information provided by SUCH (schools, universities, colleges and health) sector entities through the ministries responsible for their fiscal planning, monitoring and management.
The review will be completed in advance of Budget 2018 in order for information to be incorporated and reflected in Budget 2018.
“This review will help inform the decisions we make as a government as we work to build Budget 2018,” said Minister of Finance Carole James, in a news release September 26. “My expectation is that the review will give government a better picture of the risks, finances and fiscal forecasts of significant Crown corporations and SUCH sector entities, so that we foster long-term fiscal sustainability in planning and developing our budgets and decisions.”
Minister James said that “every additional dollar that is carefully managed can be used to help make life more affordable for people, invest in services and build a strong, sustainable economy.”
Saturday, September 23 ~ LANGFORD. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. The City of Langford with its go-after-it can-do attitude and team approach has assembled a bid to attract Amazon to the west shore of Vancouver Island.
They’re responding to a tender put out by Amazon on September 7 for a location at which the online retailer can set up their second North American headquarters (HQ2 for short). HQ2 would be a full equal to the company’s main headquarters in Seattle, WA said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in a statement earlier this month.
After their October 19 deadline, Amazon will be seeing Langford’s pitch in front of them along with at least 50 bids from major cities across North America (likely including, in Canada, these — Ottawa, Calgary, London, Edmonton, Toronto).
If nothing else, it’s good international exposure for Langford, but Langford Mayor Stew Young and senior staff are optimistic.
“We have great transportation routes, an international airport and seaplanes,” said Mayor Young this week. Of course, the $5 billion that the online retailer would spend to build HQ2 would be the first great part of Amazon putting down roots in Langford.
Amazon HQ2 would eventually employ up to 50,000 people full time over a 10-year period. In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 would create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.
Langford offers an already established commercial hub within the west side of the island lifestyle, similar to the laidback lifestyle that Amazon offers their employees. Here the perks would be lots of indoor and outdoor recreation, modern digital services, universities and colleges, and relative housing affordability. And more… including locally three lakes that Langford has in within its boundaries plus nearby hiking, fishing and trails along the west coast.
As well, being in Canada would offer the US company a cheaper dollar as well as trade agreements into Europe and Asia that are separate from NAFTA, which is probably why the Request for Proposal (RFP) was not limited to American cities.
Stew Young was approached by the business community to give this bid a shot, even though the Amazon RFP states the need for a base population of 1 million people. Greater Victoria is about 370,000 people, but the extended region could be seen to include adjacent regions of Vancouver Island, and by ferry-extension, the lower mainland.
In the last few years Langford’s population has surpassed 40,000 and the development community keeps on building houses, townhomes, condos and rental apartments to help Langford try and keep up to housing demand.
Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle is comprised of 33 buildings, in total about 8.1 million sqft. That includes 24 restaurants/cafes and eight other services. Their capital investment in buildings and infrastructure was $3.7 billion. Operational expenditures are $1.4 billion (utilities/maintenance). Employee payroll is about $25.7 billion/yr. About $43 million is paid into Seattle’s transportation system. In 2016 about 233,000 hotel nights were booked by visiting Amazonians and guests.
Amazon estimates its investments in Seattle resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy (2010-2016) – every dollar invested by Amazon generated an additional 1.4 dollars for the city’s economy overall.
Naturally there is buzz in cities across North America to throw their hats into this enormous ring. Some financial critics say the magnitude of the project could overwhelm a city or region that is not prepared to handle it. On the other hand, it’s an opportunity that likely comes once in a city’s lifetime.
The closing date for the RFP is right around the corner. The entire tech industry and community of municipalities in Canada and the US are keen to see how this one plays out.
This article was first published in the Print/PDF September 22, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.
Thursday, September 21 ~ LANGFORD. Some underground utility construction, lane improvements and signal light installations are a composite project by G&E Contracting, CRD Integrated Water Services and the City of Langford in preparation for major construction on the former Jacklin Road Belmont high school site.
The work will periodically impact vehicle traffic flow Mondays to Saturdays (7am to 6pm) at and around the intersection of Jacklin Road (Jenkins to Terlane) and also at Jenkins Avenue (Jacklin to Brittany Drive).
All of that is near the Westshore Town Centre retail area and affecting the major thoroughfare that is Jacklin Road to shops, restaurants and as a connector to the Goldstream Ave business centre of Langford.
The new West Shore Parkway (from Hwy 14 to Langford Parkway, and soon to the Trans Canada Highway) is one route that will help motorists avoid the Jacklin Road slowdowns.
The engineering work will be completed in summer 2018, says the City of Langford’s engineering department. No night work is anticipated for the remainder of 2017. Any changes or significant lane closures will be announced.
Redevelopment of the former school site will include a new 56,000 sq ft Thrifty Foods store as the anchor tenant within the Belmont Market Shopping Centre (a 200,000 sq ft retail complex by Sobeys Developments). All of that bordered by Jacklin Road, Jenkins Road, Brittany Drive and the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. An additional 144,000 sq ft of retail and office space will be situated throughout the multi-acre site with as many as 860 surface parking spaces.
It’s a three-phase commercial project. Phase One of the development (Thriftys as anchor, plus five more retailers with storefronts 5,800 to 13,000 sqft) is the portion aiming to be completed in summer 2018. A 330-unit residential component (including rental apartments and some townhomes) will span the southern perimeter of the property, backing onto the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.
Wednesday, September 20 ~ BC. VICTORIA – The Government of British Columbia has introduced legislation to put an end to big money in politics and put people back at the heart of government decision-making. Premier John Horgan made the announcement yesterday.
And while it fulfills a campaign promise toward fairness in the electoral system, there’s a catch. This fiscal year it will cost the taxpayers big bucks to fund the transition, with a dwindling effect over five years to 2022.
“We’re reforming campaign finance rules to make sure government’s actions and decisions benefit everyone, not just those with deep pockets,” said Premier John Horgan yesterday in a news conference and news release.
“This legislation will make sure 2017 was the last big-money election in our province,” said Attorney General David Eby. “The days of limitless donations, a lack of transparency and foreign and corporate influence over our elections are history.”
The Election Amendment Act, 2017, will:
* End corporate and union donations
* Limit individual contributions to $1,200 a year, the second-lowest limit in Canada; fundraisers at private residences will have an imposed cap of $100 per person.
* Ban out-of-province donations
* Cap contributions to third-party election advertisers
* Require ongoing public reporting of all fundraisers attended by major party leaders, cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries, including those held in private residences
* Reduce campaign spending limits for candidates and political parties by about 25%
* Set new fines and penalties for contraventions of election financing and advertising laws
“These unprecedented changes will not only end the ‘wild west’ of campaign fundraising, they are an important step in modernizing our democracy,” Eby said.
The bill contains several transitional provisions, including restrictions on the use of contributions received before the legislation comes into force. Political contributions previously collected that are not allowed under the new rules – including prior donations from unions and corporations or funds collected from a person in excess of $1,200 – cannot be used in future elections.
The Election Amendment Act, 2017, introduces a transitional annual allowance for political parties over a set term of five years. The allowance diminishes in value over time and is intended to help political parties transition to the new campaign finance rules. A special committee of the legislature will review the allowance to determine if it should be continued. If no action is taken, the allowance will expire in 2022.
BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver had this to say about it: “This is a historic day for our province’s democracy. Big money has been the defining feature of what is broken in BC politics. Now, one year after BC Greens banned corporate and union donations to our own party, we will ban it province-wide once and for all. I am delighted that 2017 will go down in history as the last big money election in BC.”
Weaver thanked David Eby and his office for their diligent work bringing this bill forward so early in the session. “In the days and weeks ahead, we will work with the government to ensure that this legislation is comprehensive and adequately addresses the issues with the current system.”
Over the next four years, taxpayers will foot a bill of $6.8 million for the BC NDP and the BC Liberal parties. The Green Party will be allotted $2.8 million over the same four year period.
The BC Liberals had long refused to limit political donations despite repeated criticism of the party’s fundraising practices, including cash-for-access events in which donors paid up to $10,000 for a chance to sit down with the premier.
“As Prime Minister Trudeau’s government doubles down on plans to change the way Canadian small business owners are taxed, entrepreneurs themselves are divided on the potential impacts of two of the most significant amendments – a divide driven largely by the size of their own ventures, and the amount of risk their businesses are carrying,” says an Angus Reid Report today based on their latest public opinion survey.
Both entrepreneurs and Canadians who don’t own businesses were surveyed. The results apparently show neither blind support for the government’s so-called “tax fairness” agenda, nor blanket outrage suggested by the fiercest opponents of proposed changes. “Small business owners do not react in a monolithic way to the amendments,” says the report.
Regarding proposed alterations to income sprinkling, the survey showed that 24% feel it will negatively affect their business and 44% said it would be unfair. When it comes to changes dealing with passive investment income, the perceived negative impact among business owners is higher at 42%, as is the view the changes are unfair (55%).
Overall, Canadians are evenly divided as to whether the changes will make the tax system fairer or harm business investment, with small businesses not surprisingly lean toward the harm factor.
See the editorial “On this one, Trudeau has it all wrong” in West Shore Voice News – September 8, 2017 issue (page 2), for further analysis on why the Trudeau government might want to cancel these proposed changes.
Sunday, September 17 ~ SOOKE. Today lots of people will gather to celebrate the fall harvest season with a celebration about apples!
The 4th Annual Sooke Apple Festival, hosted by the Sunriver Community Gardens and Orchard, will be held 10 am to 2 pm, at the Sunriver Community Gardens, 2380 Phillips Road. The family-friendly community gathering helps raise funds for the Sooke Region Food Community Health Initiative (Sooke Food CHI). Admission by donation. Parking available along Phillips Road.
All things apples includes apple sales, identification, bobbing, hand-pressed apple juice, tasting and orchard tours. All of that backed by music (The Chick Wagon Band).
As an ongoing project, Sooke Food CHI has acquired an apple press with funds raised from last year’s event. Today press your own juice to take home. Bring at least 15 pounds of apples and your containers. Apples should be mature, washed, and must be free from decay. Containers should be wide mouthed with tight lids. Bring a cooler to store your juice.
The press will be further available for use at the Community Gardens during the fall. Check the website for dates: sookefoodchi.ca
The Apple Shack: The Apple Shack is the Apple Learning Centre. It was built in the summer of 2013. During Apple Fest, it will have displays and lots of information about apples and the Sunriver Community Orchard. Ann Aylard from BC’s Fruit Tree Testing organization will be on hand to help the public identify apple varietals from their property.
Fundraiser: The Apple Festival is a Sooke Food CHI fundraiser for the community orchard and other Food CHI activities.
Food vendors include Coastal Crunch, Three Sisters, Livin’ the Dream, Jenny’s Kitchen, Dakini Tidal Wilds, Buddha Box and the Coffee Cantina. Games for families and kids are organized by Emily Moreland and friends, 11 am and 2 pm.
Thursday, September 14 ~ LANGFORD. Up on Bear Mountain they’re teeing up for a 3-day PGA Championship Tournament that will run Friday September 15 through Sunday September 17. Today September 14 a Pro-Am round was followed by media interviews above the 18th green.
Long-time pro golfer Sir Nick Faldo, now 60, has had a 13-year career in TV sports media on the CBS golf channel, but said that he still likes competing. “It’s nice to throw some golf into it for a change,” he told reporters outdoors under bright blue skies at the Bear Mountain Resort. He revealed some tips for great golf success, including learning to “pull the right club” and “picking the right shot at the right time”. He explained that in golf you’re making decisions all the time. “You can play well but not land in the right spot” but you can “still make a good shot in the wrong place”.
Last year’s Pacific Links Bear Mountain Champion Colin Montgomerie, 54, said the standards at the Bear Mountain Golf Course are “exceptionally high”. He said that Jack Nicklaus and his son Steve Nicklaus have done “a super job putting together a challenging course” requiring accuracy of the tee and position of the ball. “It’s not a sloggers golf course,” he said. The mountain-side terrain is the defining factor.
This year the 3-day championship tournament of 54 holes will not be televised, due to some funding complexities. “Whether it’s televised or not we’re going to give it 100 per cent,” Montgomerie told media. “The field (of players) is stellar,” he said. There are 78 competitors including five exemptions, three restricted, two unrestricted and four event qualifiers.
The Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship is an official event on PGA Tour Champions featuring the world’s premiere golfers ages 50 and older. This year they are competing for a $1.8 million USD purse (down from $2.5 million last year). The first place winner takes home $270,000 (about 26% of the total purse). The second-place winner takes 23.2% of the purse. Percentages drop from there, but all players get a cut. If a position is tied, all winners in that position get an equal split of the percentage for that level, explained Pacific Links Tournament Director Brad Parkins.
Parkins says it took 2 months for Pacific Links International to get ready to host this week’s PGA tournament. “It’s a spectacular place at Bear Mountain. The surroundings are picturesque and beautiful, and it’s a great resort with everything on site. Players don’t require a car or shuttle to get to the course or restaurants, it’s all here with their accommodation on site,” he said. Similarly, Montgomerie had high praise for the Bear Mountain Resort facility, with everything in one spot.
The local economic impact of the event is expected to be one of the largest ever in the Victoria region and certainly the largest ever in Langford. Reports indicate that the spend on hotels, food, beverage and entertainment, local supplier and services purchases, and spin-off benefits can be estimated in the $15 to $17 million range.
About 35,000 spectators throughout the week are expected to attend the event. Over 700 volunteers have been required to help pull off all the various support activities during this week and coming weekend.
A tournament daily pass for Friday-Sunday is $40+tax, including serviced charge — valid any one day of tournament rounds (Friday, Saturday or Sunday). Tickets are available online at www.PacificLinksChampionship.com
As for the region and enjoying apart from golf, Faldo remarked about vacationing on Vancouver Island with two of his daughters. Montgomerie called the overall Bear Mountain and Langford-Highlands area “one of the most beautiful places on Earth”.
Monday, September 11 ~ LANGFORD. Bus transportion has expanded in the west shore with a new terminal in the Westhills area of Langford. It’s part of supporting commuters who live in Langford who head to Saanich, Victoria and beyond for employment and attending post-secondary.
The announcement was made with a formal ribbon cutting event today September 11 at the location on Westhills Way where buses on three routes will drop off and pick up riders near the YWCA and Langford Heritage branch library.
VIPs who made the official announcement at the Westhills Terminal under mid-morning bright skies were City of Langford Mayor Stew Young, BC Transit Director Susan Brice, and BC Transit President and CEO Manuel Achadinha.
Mayor Stew Young was appreciative of the working partnership with BC Transit, noting the role of political support toward success of infrastructure enhancements. Stew Young and was pleased about the enhanced transit services for Langford residents who commute to work or school, says that buses are filling up both ways. “Making it easier to get to and from Langford makes the most sense and supports the growth of our community,” Mayor Young said.
Long-time Saanich politician Susan Brice of course see the benefits to UVic and Camosun students and employees of those large institutions, both located in Saanich. “We’re glad to always be working with Langford,” she told the crowd about 40 people gathered for the occasion. In the bigger picture, Brice said that there are eight new buses in the BC Transit system this fall and 20,000 more service hours. She was pleased about increased service to the west shore, with BC Transit aiming to “keep exploring ways to improve and enhance services”.
Bus lanes and priority lanes for moving commuter traffic in and out of the town core was given support in remarks by Brice, which is good news for Langford. Stew Young pitched that an announcement about HOV lanes could be coming soon.
BC Transit CEO Manuel Achadinha also spoke about the success of partnerships at the provincial and local levels. “Langford is a city that is growing,” he said, happy to be working directly with the City itself and with the Westhills Development as their latest partner. “Langford is fast-growing community in the region here, and we welcome our new partners,” said Achadinha.
The official opening of the new Westhills BC Transit Terminal on Westhills Way is a jointly-funded project through the City of Langford, the Westhills Development and BC Transit. The new Westhills BC Transit Terminal is providing increased transit service from the Westshore to the University of Victoria, the Department of National Defence (DND) and Dockyard. People who work or study at UVic and Camosun College, and in all parts of Greater Victoria beyond Langford will benefit immediately by this expanded service.
The new routes are #39 Westhills-Camosun, #46 Dockyard-Westhills, and #57 Thetis Heights/Westhills. The terminal started operating last Tuesday, where there is also a park-and-ride area for vehicles. The advantage is about having multiple stops in one location in the rapidly expanding Westhills area which includes the Belmont Secondary School and nearby rugby playing fields.
Mayor Stew Young was joined by City of Langford Councillors Denise Blackwell, Lanny Seaton, and Lillian Szpak for the announcement today as well as engineering and senior staff. Also attending was District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait who participates on the BC Transit commission as part of a west shore contingent. Westhills staff were also there for the big day.
For the most part, Justin Trudeau as Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister has pulled this country forward in many admirable and respectable ways. He helped out thousands of refugees, set leadership for gender equity, brought youth into the political loop, has bridged relations with Trump and the USA well enough so far, and is standing firm on a broader goal to peace regarding North Korea.
However, when it comes to truly understanding the impact of proposed tax revisions for small business in Canada, Trudeau and finance minister Bill Morneau are completely off base.
It’s simply just not accurate, shows poor observational skills and short-sighted analysis to lump all smaller-than-the-largest corporations under one umbrella. And then essentially assume that most of them are up to no good.
Accountants will tell you they’re seeing more scrutiny already against small businesses, and that’s even before the tax legislation has been changed. This is the Liberal strategy to ‘take from the rich and give to the poor (middle class)’.
But what they don’t seem to get is that there is really no firm middle class any more — everybody is a worker. What vestiges of a middle class that remain will meet their deathknell by way of these proposed spirit-crushing tax strategies.
Trudeau says tax changes are aimed at ensuring wealthy Canadians pay their fair share. But these are in many cases not ‘wealthy’ people, just people who work hard at their game to achieve a good living. Affected by the proposed new legislation (which seems to be barreling ahead) will be such a range of small businesses that no one will be unaffected. Professionals like doctors will be impacted, as well as your car repair shop, your web designer, your fitness trainer… anybody who runs their own enterprise, particularly if they are incorporated.
Not only does this shrivel up the last remaining hopes of starry-eyed entrepreneurs and the self-employed, it will have a trickle-down effect into the rate of hiring and the cost of services. Small businesses generate most of the new jobs. And nowadays not many people are much above keeping their heads above water in a paycheque-to-paycheque/fixed-income economy, additionally burdened by two Bank of Canada interest-rate increases in recent months.
Small businesses incorporate for various reasons, not the least of which is to create an arms-length relationship between owner and enterprise (which is healthy). If going after the incorporated small business owner as the key source for shoring up federal coffers to pay for other programs, they are shaving away the success of some of the country’s hardest-working, most devoted citizens whose talents and enterprise create jobs and prosperity for those around them. Leveling the playing field between proprietors and wage earners shows a deep unawareness of or disregard for the level of risk and often self-imposed responsibility that proprietors take compared to wage-earners. One could also say it’s a bit of divide-and-conquer, by pitting the ‘working class’ against those ‘nasty’ so-called ‘wealthy’ folks who on the surface generate more income, but at the end of the day are often left with a similar take-home pay and more incorporation-related overhead to pay.
The proposed tax changes would undo tax incentives that middle-class entrepreneurs have relied on for decades to fund their retirements, retain cash in their companies to tide them over in leaner times, provide for their families, and protect their businesses if they choose maternity or become ill. Small businesses don’t have pension plans or sick leave like salaried employees do. In many ways they live on the edge, with nothing or no one to bail them out if they falter. And yet as a society we benefit by and appreciate their services. If running one’s own business becomes nothing more than an overly-responsible job without any perks, then the proposed tax changes are a death knell to a wide cross-section of industrious, creative people who contribute a special edge and verve to the economy. It’s an unkind, unthinking blow to that high-spirited innovative drive that is almost uniquely Canadian. It’s like a targeted kill of a treasured natural resource. Odd.
As Capital Regional District (CRD) Chair Barb Desjardins put it this week: “I’m quite worried about it. I understand the direction but it’s been targeted to the wrong group of people. This will target middle income earners. It will affect small business in a significant way and will be problematic. They aren’t the people you want to hurt.”
Write a letter to the Minister of Finance on this one, or do what you can to support the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) which has effectively articulated concerns about this for a quite a while. Even several federal Liberal MPs have publicly voiced opposition to their government’s plan on this.
If it goes through, this legislation will be a game-changer for the overall fabric of the Canadian economy that in many ways would over time become irreversible. And let’s get down to brass tacks. At the very least, Trudeau may wish to rethink the small business tax revisions in order to retain for 2019 many of the business-class votes that shifted his way in 2015.
This is a government that seems prepared in almost every instance to barrel ahead with the right to rule. And it’s tolerated, because most Canadians seem satisfied with having seen Canada advance in many ways since 2015. But in this instance, it’s time to admit a wrong turn, back up, and change direction.
Friday, September 8 ~ BC. First BC NDP Throne Speech in 16 years
EDITORIAL INSIGHTS by WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS.
The tone of a Throne Speech as penned by an NDP government would of course sound different than that of the previous longstanding BC Liberal government. Listening to and supporting the people was espoused.
What was notably “21st century” for an NDP budget was a more definitive articulation of interrelationships with municipalities, industry, business and a wider range of population sectors.
The 30-minute address was delivered by Lt Gov Judith Guichon at 2pm on Friday September 8. Just a few months ago she had made the tough decision to pull the plug on the Christy Clark BC Liberals and give the NDP (with threeGreen Party MLAs in tow) a chance at leading British Columbia with a minority government.
To that point, the speech dropped something of a ‘bomb’ by announcing the next fixed election date as being in Fall 2021. That gives BC Premier John Horgan and his government a full four years to roll out their people-first policies and make them stick. Fixed-date elections would follow every four years.
The new government is also promising to deliver on Proportional Representation by setting the terms for a referendum by November 2018, in favour of reform “so that citizens can be sure that every vote counts”. Big money donations (corporate and union) will be eliminated and individual donors to political parties will have to be residents of BC.
Answering to one of the overriding NDP themes in the May 2017 election, came this: “Too many families were left behind for too long. It’s time that we made life more affordable.” Most families will be happy to hear that, but opponents will watch to see how that is accomplished with stability in the budget.
The government says it will consult with the public on various things ahead of delivering the first full budget in February 2018. Meanwhile, the Throne Speech purported some first steps toward making life more affordable such as helping renters by closing fixed term lease loopholes, and increasing support to the Residential Tenancy Branch toward fair treatment for both tenants and landlords.
A Fair Wages Commission will put BC on a path to a $15/hour minimum wage, by setting the course for stable and predictable increases over time.
Action is being taken to fix the problems at ICBC and BC Hydro, it was stated in the speech, to make sure that Crown corporations can deliver the “best possible service… at the lowest possible cost.”
A legislated poverty reduction plan will be brought in, with that work getting underway in the coming weeks.
Government says it will deliver a province-wide child care program, starting with the creation of more spaces and training more early childhood educators. Consultations with families and child care providers will be undertaken this fall.
Housing affordability was addressed with a statement about working with municipalities, cooperatives and the private sector to increase the supply of rental, social, co-op and owner-purchase homes.
The promise overall is for “relief from high costs and fees, better access to services, and an economy that works for everyone.”
Meanwhile, BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said in a news release after the Throne Speech that he is “pleased to see so many BC Green ideas included in the new blueprint for government.” He continued: “This session, we will finally see corporate and union donations banned following the lead we took a year ago in banning them from our Party. We will see lobbying reform, a BC Green initiative, which will go even further towards ending the undue influence of special interests in our politics. BC will also have an Innovation Commissioner, one of the ideas in our emerging economy platform that will help ensure BC’s long term economic prosperity.” Weaver was encouraged by increased funding for public education as one of “the best investments government can make”.
The Greens are integral to maintaining a go-forward minority government. However, Weaver explained that the Green MLAs will not always agree with everything the government does. “As with any relationship, this disagreement is healthy. All three parties share many values and goals, though we might sometimes differ on the best ways to implement them. There is much we can accomplish together if we are willing to engage in thoughtful, productive debate and to consistently put the interests of our constituents first.”
Thursday, September 7 ~ BC. Things are gearing up for an active session at the BC Legislature under the new BC NDP government.
Lt Gov Judith Guichon will open the second session of the 41st Parliament of British Columbia on Friday, September 8. She will read the speech from the throne starting at 2 pm. The speech will be viewable live at www.leg.bc.ca
Tuesday, September 5 ~ VICTORIA AREA. There are overcast skies in the south Vancouver Island area today September 5, as the skies are filled with smoke from wildfires occurring in Washington State and the BC Interior. The sun appears red through the haze.
Environment Canada issued a smoky skies advisory about it this morning.
Sunday, September 3 ~ OTTAWA. North Korea announced this weekend that it had detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear test yet, which it declared a “perfect success.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued the following statement in response to North Korea’s latest testing of a nuclear weapon:
“Canada unequivocally condemns North Korea’s nuclear test of September 3 which, combined with its aggressive program of ballistic missile testing, represents a clear and present threat to the safety and security of its neighbours and the international community.
“This most recent test, which appears to have been of a much greater magnitude than its five previous nuclear explosions, is in direct contravention of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, and demonstrates once again North Korea’s flagrant disregard of international law.
“These continued provocations by North Korea’s leadership, along with their profoundly dangerous push to develop nuclear weapons and test ballistic missiles near neighbouring countries, only serve to further isolate them.
“Canada has been steadfast in insisting that North Korea abandon its current course, including its aggressive rhetoric, and asks that it resumes constructive dialogue toward a comprehensive and verifiable solution.
“We urge the UN Security Council to take further decisive action to effectively constrain North Korea’s proliferation efforts, and call on all states to fully implement relevant UN sanctions.
“We will continue to work with key regional partners – including the United States, South Korea and Japan – as well as the broader international community, to counter the North Korean threat.”
Sunday, September 3 ~ VICTORIA. Statement from Premier John Horgan for Labour Day (September 4):
“On Labour Day we recognize the hard-working people of British Columbia, who built this province from the ground up. Labour Day is a day of rest, and an opportunity to reflect on the progress made by working people. The hard-fought victories of the labour movement over generations made life better for everyone.
“People who work hard deserve a government that works hard for them. Our government will increase the minimum wage, open the doors to apprenticeships and skills training, strengthen employment standards and create safer workplaces for all. Because building up our province starts by building up our people.
“I join you in celebrating this special day.”
On Monday, September 4, Premier John Horgan and Minister of Labour Harry Bains will be joining others, including Patty Hajdu, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, in an annual Labour Day celebration with the New Westminster and District Labour Council. Starting at 11:30 am in Holland Park, 13428 Old Yale Road, Surrey.
Saturday, September 2 ~ OPINION-EDITORIAL. At the crux of this Labour Day: ensuring worker safety. By Harry Bains, BC Minister of Labour.
Many forget that Labour Day is much more than an opportunity for backyard barbecues, community picnics and for some, a day off work. However, the true purpose of the holiday is a celebration of the achievements and progress of the working class.
Communities, big and small, urban or rural, depend on business and industry, not just for maintaining jobs and the tax base, but because they help define the culture and spirit of the place we call home. They rely on the bakeries, the unique gift shop, the local mechanic’s garage and community grocer that sponsor the little league team; and the large employers, the chains and franchises that invest in our cities and employ our families and neighbours. We owe much to these employers, but Labour Day is about what is also owed to the workers.
Throughout my career as a trade unionist, I have known one thing: workers want fairness. They want a level playing field for all workers. I have devoted my time to helping people gain a voice when discriminated against, when treated unfairly by the employer, when rights and freedoms are not respected. However, the biggest impact on me personally, professionally and politically was helping families find their voice after tragedy. I have stood beside loved ones mourning the loss of a family member, a husband or wife that they kissed goodbye in the morning for a day filled with promise, who never to return home because the promise of a safe workplace was broken.
Workers deserve and should demand safe working conditions. The legacy I hope to leave as the new Minister of Labour and first NDP Labour Minister in more than 16 years is to make British Columbia the safest jurisdiction in Canada for workers. We have come a long way, but more can be done and must be done!
Whether it’s ensuring safety for workers, giving workers a long overdue raise by increasing the minimum wage, or bringing back the Human Rights Commission dismantled by our predecessors, you can trust that your BC government is fighting for families on real issues, like affordability, good paying jobs and improved public services, as well as an economy that works for and is inclusive of everyone. Central to our promises this Labour Day is also our pledge to do everything we can to help reduce preventable work accidents, enforce regulations and support workers in their journey to get back to work.
On this Labour Day, join me in celebrating all that workers have done to make life better for themselves and their families.
Friday, September 1 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Back to School Tips for Health. Water is the key to a healthy start as children head back to school. Children should be hydrated and their best defence against bringing home colds and flus is proper hand washing.
“Get your children into the habit of washing their hands frequently. Make it fun. Sing happy birthday twice while they scrub or find a soap scent that appeals to them,” says Dr. Dee Hoyano, Island Health Medical Health Officer. “There is no better way to prevent colds and the spread of germs in schools and daycares than hand washing.”
Along with a water bottle for hydration, children should also bring two healthy snacks and a well-balanced lunch to feed their active brains and bodies.
“Colour is the most visible indicator that your child’s lunch will successfully support learning,” says Areli Hermanson, Island Health dietitian. “Green and orange vegetables, blue and red fruit, we can tell by just by looking at them that they are packed with vitamins and nutrients.”
The Island Health dietitian offers tips to make lunches healthy and fun:
Pack protein: meat & alternatives (i.e. chicken, eggs and lentils)
Wash and chop vegetables and fruit so they’re ready to eat
Choose single-serving lower-fat milk, plain yogurt and cheese (not processed)
Substitute sandwiches with whole grain crackers or mini pitas