Friday, September 23, 2016

Site C Licence of Occupation

On Sunday Sept. 25, the deadline for public input into BC Hydro's request to log crown land slated for Provincial Park status above the Site C dam will close. 

So why are you only just now hearing about this on a blog? Good question.

According to the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative in an article in, which you probably aren't in the habit of reading on a daily basis :
"On Sept. 1, BC Hydro placed a notice of intent to log the valley, including parts of the Peace-Boudreau, an Old Growth Management Area, at the back of local newspapers. There was no mention of the Site C dam in the advertisement, which gave a deadline for comments of Sept. 25."
Which is interesting because after recently issuing permits via Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans to allow the Site C dam to proceed even as the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nation were challenging the previous government's approval of it in the courts, the Trudeau government told the House of Commons on Tuesday that "it is now up to B.C. Hydro to conduct any further public consultations".

Not sure an ad at the back of local papers that doesn't even name Site C counts as "public consultations" but here's your window of opportunity to tell the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations what you think about :
1) the lack of public consultation in which they have been complicit, and 
2) BC Hydro logging forest and vegetation above the shale and mud landslides built on clay they've already engineered- as amply documented in photos at Laila Yuile's blog.  
I spent much of today submitting this BC Hydro Licence of Occupation info, minus any snarky editorializing, to news media, environmental watchdogs, Site C opponents, and MPs. I haven't heard peep back from any of them so far despite the considerable help of facebookies and twitterati furiously aiming it at expected interested parties. 

Do people living in the Peace even know about it? I don't know. There's a Site C Project website and a twitter feed and I don't see this mentioned on either one.

As Christy Clark rushes to evict ranchers and landowners by Christmas to get the 83-kilometre flood zone "past the point of no return" before the next BC election, in the largest removal of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve in its history, it probably got lost amongst everything else Site C this month :

APTN : Justice Minister Jody Wilson Raybould blames previous government for SiteC

APTN : Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould should resign over SiteC says Treaty 8 chief

CBC : Indigenous Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette breaks with his government over B.C. hydro dam support

DeSmogBlogTrudeau Silent as B.C. First Nations Take Site C Dam Fight to Federal Court

Vancouver Observer : Site C project not in keeping with constitution or UN declaration: Bellegarde

Ricochet : First Nations caravan arrives in Montreal as Site C court challenge begins

The Tyee : BC Hydro: From Public Interest to Private Profits

Disturbing the Peace: The Story of the Site C Dam
Harry Swain, former chair of Joint Review Panel on Site C : "I think we're making a very big mistake."

And finally No Strings Attached for the on-the-ground Site C nitty gritty you won't read anywhere else. 

Don't forget to tell the BC government and BC Hydro what you think about this latest round of "public consultation" and logging land above mudslides before the deadline this coming Sunday.

h/t Mike for the link to the application

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

TPP - the TFW Program on steroids

The Human Resources Committee, HUMA - 6 Libs, 3 Cons, and 1 NDP - released its report on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program yesterday, after a month of hearing from 43 witnesses as varied as Lululemon and the Migrant Mothers Project.

Industry complaints initiated the study. The committee was asked to find a balance between employers desperate for TFWs for jobs they are unable to fill with Canadians and the rights of workers.  

I looked up a few of those desperate employers on various Canadian job search sites. If they're not desperate enough to be advertising these job vacancies where Canadians can find them, why exactly is government in the business of engineering TFWs to fill them? 

Here's just part of the dissenting report submitted by the lone NDP committee member alongside the main report : 

International Mobility Program and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
The previous Conservative government split the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in two – the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), which covers streams requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment, and the International Mobility Program (IMP), in which no assessment of the impact on the Canadian labour market is required. 
The IMP is actually much larger than the TFWP (nearly twice the size in 2014), yet the committee review paid no attention to the IMP, the role that the IMP plays in the Canadian economy, and the impact that it has on workers. This is very disappointing. 
This is of particular concern since the Liberal government is looking to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. In addition to harming our economy, this agreement will expand access to the IMP, allowing employers to bring in foreign workers without any assessment of the impact on the Canadian labour market, even if Canadian workers are available to do the job. This has led some to describe the TPP as “the temporary foreign worker program on steroids.”
Back in 2013, 38% of foreign nationals came in under the TFWP, but 62% came in under the IMP

Then there's the ICTs, or Intra-Company Transfers, which Jason Kenney helpfully told us when he was Employment Minister were "often hard-wired into trade deals". 

ICTs "enables international companies with a presence in Canada to transfer their existing employees to their Canadian location".  And if you don't already have a branch in Canada - well, we got an app for that:
"Foreign businesses wishing to establish a Canadian enterprise may use the ICT Start-Up Visa program to bring key workers to the country to open a new office and begin doing business."
Back in June, Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk told a room full of union officials that she plans to toast the day the Liberal government shuts down the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, but in the meantime they've "already quietly made one change, removing restrictions on the number of workers seasonal employers can bring in through the program this year."

Of course all this will be moot if the TPP goes through. 12A :
Canada shall grant temporary entry and provide a work permit or work authorization to Professionals and Technicians and will not:(a) require labour certification tests or other procedures of similar intent as a condition for temporary entry; or(b) impose or maintain any numerical restriction relating to temporary entry.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Conservative voices for electoral reform

Notable because we don't often hear Conservative voices speaking publicly in favour of electoral reform.

Sept 8, 2016. Colin Craig of the Manning Centre interviews President of Canadian Taxpayers Federation Troy Lanigan, on the benefits of proportional representation. Lanigan compares MMP with STV, which both prefer. 

Yesterday ERRE committee members CPC Scott Reid, NDP Nathan Cullen, and GPC Elizabeth May sent a letter to Democratic Institutions Minister Monsef requesting a move towards more concrete models of three different PR systems:
“Canadians will want to know how the various proposals for electoral reform would work and what they would look like in practice.”
They have asked Monsef to relegate some of her $10.7M public awareness budget to produce visual aids like potential ballots and electoral maps for three proposed systems - mixed member proportional representation (MMP), single transferrable vote (STV) and former Elections Canada CEO Jean-Pierre Kingsley's hybrid rural-urban system. 
The committee begins their cross-country road trip, hopefully with these materials in hand, starting next week. 

And no, I don't know why there's no signatory from a Liberal and Bloc committee member on the request for materials to Monsef.

PR proponents have criticized Monsef's cross-country road trip as being too strictly focused on 'values' to the relative exclusion of discussion on different electoral systems -which are more rigorously discussed and debated at MPs' electoral townhalls. 

So now we're going to get into specifics. In the meantime, you can find them at CPAC, in the appendices of FairVoteCanada's submission to ERRE, or Samara 

Happy International Democracy Day. Hoping to get more of it here in Canada.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Electoral Reform Road Trip

Last week IPSOS passed on their rather depressing survey news to the ERRE committee that only 3% of Canadians were following electoral reform at all closely and those 3% were mostly wealthy educated older dudes.

Pretty sure that's going to change in the next few weeks. Here in BC, there's over 30 electoral events - the ones from today on are listed below. 

If you can't make any of these, you can host your own discussion group and make your own submission to the Electoral Reform Committee. FairVoteCanada supports any version of proportional representation and will provide you with materials for your discussion :
**A dialogue can be as small as two or three people getting together for coffee or as big as a community town hall, and anything in between!
**You can also conduct a dialogue at a meeting of an organization you are already involved in.
**The government has provided a list of questions they would like feedback on. All you need to do is discuss the questions in your group, have someone take notes, and submit your report to the committee by Oct. 7.
Or you can attend one of another dozen BC discussion groups FairVote helped organize that aren't on the list below.  

Don't know anything about electoral reform? Don't worry about it - we're all learning. Here's Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, Guy Giorno, on what's really important about it - making every Canadian vote count.

Meanwhile, Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef has already kicked off her cross-country national electoral reform community dialogue tour: 

22 Local electoral reform events in BC from today onwards :

September 7th, 2016 - Federal electoral reform community dialogue tour with Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef, 7:00 - 8:30pm, Saturna Island Community Hall, 109 East Point Road, Saturna Island, BC

September 7th, 2016 - Saturna Island Electoral Reform Townhall with MP Elizabeth May, 7:00 - 8:30pm, Saturna Island Community Hall, 109 East Point Road, Saturna Island, BC

September 7th, 2016 - Electoral Reform Town Hall with MP Alistair MacGregor, 6:00 - 7:30, Cowichan Campus Lecture Theatre, 2011 University Way, Duncan, BC, RSVP

September 7th, 2016 - Town Hall in Terrace with MP Nathan Cullen, 7 pm - 9 pm, Terrace Arena Banquet Room, 3320 Kalum St., Terrace, BC

September 7th, 2016 - Electoral Reform Town Hall with MP Gord Johns, 7:00 PM, Parksville Community & Conference Centre, 132 East Jensen Avenue, Parksville, BC.

September 8th, 2016 - Federal electoral reform community dialogue tour with Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef, 7:00pm-9:00pm, Kitimat Riverlodge, 654 Columbia Ave West, Kitimat, BC

September 8th, 2016 - Town Hall in Kitimat with MP Nathan Cullen, 7 pm – 9 pm, Kitimat Riverlodge, 654 Columbia Ave West, Kitimat, BC

September 8th, 2016 - Electoral Reform Townhall with MP Gord Johns, 7:00 PM Florence Filberg Centre 411 Anderton Avenue, Courtenay, BC

September 9th, 2016 - Federal electoral reform community dialogue tour with Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef7pm-9pm, Sandman Hotel, Vancouver City Centre Ballroom, 180 West Georgia Street Vancouver, BC

September 9th, 2016 - Town Hall in Smithers, with MP Nathan Cullen, 7 pm - 9 pm, The Old Church, 1st Ave at King St., Smithers, BC

September 10th, 2016 - Electoral Reform Town Hall with MP Rachel Blaney, 1:30 - 4:30 pm, Comox Community Centre, 1855 Noel Avenue, Comox, BC
 - Fair Vote Canada is hosting a town hall on electoral reform with panelists from all political backgrounds, including NDP MP Murray Rankin, former Liberal candidate David Merner, Conservative commentator Bruce Hallsor and Green Party member Adam Olsen. Saturday, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm. Nellie McClung Branch of Greater Victoria Public Library, 3950 Cedar Hill Rd., Victoria, BC. Contact: Mark Jeffers 

September 11th, 2016 - Electoral Reform Townhall with MP Sheila Malcolmson & MP Nathan Cullen, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, Doors at 11am. Malaspina Theatre (Building 310) Vancouver Island University, 900 Fifth St Nanaimo, BC RSVP

September 12th, 2016 - Electoral Reform Town Hall – Have Your Say in MP Richard Cannings, 7 pm - 9 pm, Penticton library auditorium, 785 Main Street, Penticton, BC
 - Office of Jonathan Wilkinson, MP Electoral Reform Town Hall, Monday , 7 - 9 pm Pipe Shop Building, 15 Wallace Mews Road, North Vancouver, BC. RSVP:

September 12th, 2016 - Mayne Island Town Hall with MP Elizabeth May, MP, 18:30, PDT Mayne Island Community Centre, 493 Felix Jack Road, Mayne Island, BC

September 13th, 2016 - Pender Island Town Hall with MP Elizabeth May, 18:00 PDT, Pender Island Community Hall 4418 Bedwell Harbour Road, Pender Island, BC

September 15, 2016 - Campbell River Town Hall on Electoral Reform with Elizabeth May and Megan Dias from the Centre for Democratic Institutions, University of B.C. 18:30 PDT, Campbell River Museum, 470 Island Highway, Campbell River, BC 

September 16th, 2016 - Salt Spring Island Town Hall with MP Elizabeth May, 18:00 PDT Multi-purpose Room, G.I.S.S. 232 Rainbow Road, Salt Spring Island, BC

September 17th, 2016 - Electoral Reform Town Hall with MP Rachel Blaney, 1:30 - 4:30 pm, Dwight Hall 6274 Walnut St, Powell River, BC

September 18th, 2016 - Dialogue on Electoral Reform from 3:00pm-5:00pm at Creekside Commons, 2201 Lambert Drive, Courtenay, BC

September 24th, 2016 - Electoral Reform Town Hall with MP Rachel Blaney, 1 - 3 pm, Port McNeill Community Hall, 1473 Broughton Blvd, Port McNeill, BC

September 24th, 2016 - Electoral Reform Town Hall with MPs Alistair MacGregor and Randall Garrison, 2:00 - 3:30, Community Commons Belmost School, 3041 Langford Lake Rd., Langford, BC, RSVP

And don't forget the Electoral Committee also wants to hear from individual Canadians via their E-CONSULTATION

If I missed your group or got something wrong, please leave me a correction in comments. Thank you.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Craig Scott's testimony at ERRE #23

Notes from his presentation at the electoral reform committee today because Kady didn't blog this morning's meeting and the ERRE committee is taking about two weeks to post transcriptions. 

Craig Scott - law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, former NDP critic for democratic reform

16 of 31 Liberals voted for MMP/PR electoral reform in the House in December.

MMP is the best of two worlds - local representation and fairness both addressed. 
MMP takes both local and regional candidates more seriously than any other form of PR or FPtP because voters can vote for preferred candidate and party separately. Local candidates vote is based on the candidate's work in their community without worrying about strategic vote. Regional MPs have to look at bigger picture of national issues because we currently have deficit of attention to national vision.

Any PR system would address these FPtP faults : 
~false majorities result in less diversity of opinion, 
~some regions unrepresented in Parl, ie NDP swept 80 seats in Quebec in 2011 with 40% of vote.
~exacerbates regionalism, ie Alberta IS Conservative
~feeds into unduly executive-dominated Westminster system of parliament via false majorities
~ silo-vision re legislation, rather than have to encounter different points of view
~tends away from consensus and collegiality and towards adversarialism and hyper-partisanship and organizing for next election.

Alternative Vote is ranked ballot within single member districts, and is in Liberal Party Policy Book.
Nothing in AV counteracts FPtP problems and it exacerbates disproportionality.
If last election had been under AV, Eric Grenier says 224 Libs would have attained seats instead of 185 seats under current system.
AV does not fulfill committee mandate of making every vote count because it never gets to counting the second candidates after the first round.

Compromise to get to multiple goals is to use the Jenkins Model of MMP allowing ranked voting on the local election side only or STV model with more local attention.

Naysayers are saying this committee is set up to be a "noble failure" due to deadlock impasse. This committee is formed the way proportional representation committees will be formed in the future. You guys can be proof that a system like this can work. 

End of notes from Scott.

I'm rather alarmed to learn from the IPSOS poll discussed at yesterday's meeting that only 3% of Canadians are following the issue of electoral reform at all closely - older, more educated, affluent males - and that only one in five Canadians are aware of it at all. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dear Postmedia Editorial Board

This : 
is not an adequate response or apology for what was previously published in that same space by the Postmedia Editorial Board on August 24th : "[Elizabeth] May must renounce anti-Israel resolutions". Excerpted :

You are not RebelMedia. 
You are not some partisan advocacy organization that can pass off the blame for this appalling libelous attack on some hapless newbie book reviewer - although I notice you share with them the phrase "figleaf of Jewishness". 
No, you are the editorial board of Vancouver's largest newspaper. Shame on you for stating Independent Jewish Voices supports terrorism and denies the Holocaust.

IJV Statement On Canadian Media Giant Libeling Us

Corey Levine : Why I Asked The Green Party To Challenge The JNF's Charitable Status

The only upside to this ridiculous op-ed is the thorough drubbing you received in comments below it. First five comments, excerpted :
"As a former journalist and chair of Langara's journalism program, I'm shocked by the degree of distortion in this editorial."
"This editorial is preposterous!"
"What a very sad editorial, full of errors and inaccuracies and probably conscious lies."
"This 'editorial' is purposely disingenuous."
"This editorial could have been written by the Likud party."

Your op-ed also condemned a resolution sponsored by Elizabeth May and 28 other Greens calling for Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund, the largest private landowner in Israel. JNF has used its tax-deductible status in Canada to build and maintain the infamous “Canada Park” on the ruins of three Palestinian villages.  As you note in your correction, at the convention the language was watered down to call for any charitable organization's status to be revoked if they are in violation of Canadian or international law. 

In 2014 Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey was Honorary Chair of the Jewish National Fund's annual Negev Gala.  
Elizabeth May has attended their galas in the past and consulted with JNF CEO Josh Cooper prior to the Green Party convention vote.

The offending op-ed, now taken down, published in the Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen :

In February, the House of Commons passed a motion 229-to-51 condemning any actions by Canadian groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement. IJV was the first national Jewish organization globally to support the non-violent BDS movement; the Green Party is the first national party in Canada to follow suit. Bravo to you both.

h/t  Waterbaby

Friday, August 26, 2016

Stephen Harper's Legacy

Ten years ago on the day Stephen Harper and his Conservative government were first elected into office, US Ambassador David Wilkins sent home a diplomatic cable outlining how the US could best support and direct a prime minister whose values were "not in line" with most Canadians. 

He recommended Harper would be useful in "advancing the US agenda for Canada" and that giving him " a success story" like the softwood lumber deal would "shore up his credentials" with Canadians without appearing to "sell out to the Americans".

Ambassador Wilkins "transformational agenda" for Harper :

"Cross border law enforcement" "enhanced information sharing", "joint maritime operations", "more robust counter-narcotics efforts", "security perimeter", following the US lead on Haiti, Afghanistan, Iran, Venezuela, Colombia, ...

Has Canada done anything independent of this cable under Harper?

Last time for Harper's Perps with Perks - here are the stories behind each Perp.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Libs falling off electoral reform bandwagon


Electoral Reform Committee member Liberal Sherry Romanado floated the idea of implementing "federal solutions" "without changing the voting system itself" at ERRE meeting #16 yesterday. She was pitching how to achieve at least some of the committee's mandate set in motion by Justin Trudeau's campaign promise to make 2015 the last election under FPtP.

This is one step further along from her more usual complaint that any version of proportional representation multi-member ridings would mean people would be confused as to who their MP is.

Liberal John Aldag asked “Is FPtP the only solution for Canada?”, while Liberal Ruby Sahota recommended giving voters the simplest voting system possible, presumably if not FPtP then its even worse majoritarian cousin, Alternative Vote. 

Liberal Chair Scarpaleggia wrapped up meeting #15 earlier with a nice paeon to the status quo, opining that a government's majority power under FPtP is not absolute - no, it is kept in check by "the courts, provinces, the media, and unions". 
You'll notice that other parties did not make his list. 
Scarpaleggia :
"Our system doesn't give absolute power to a party that has less than 50% of the vote, it just gives a stronger hand to one party to negotiate the obstacles in its way in trying to exercise national purpose."
National purpose that does not include obstacles like proportional representation.

Between Libs falling off the electoral reform bandwagon, the Cons and Bloc still banging on about referendums and moving the whole issue forward to be voted on in the 2019 election, and the inordinate amount of time wasted discussing internet voting - which Elections Canada has said we will definitely not be getting for the next election - it really is not looking good for electoral reform at the Electoral Reform Committee at this point. 

Fun fact : From the e-voting proponent witness : "Estonia is the only country to deploy internet voting in a national election." 
I wonder why that is.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Loopholes and Libya

Really? Because a mere two weeks ago, Steven Chase was reporting: 
Ottawa rewrites mandate for screening arms exports
"The Canadian government has quietly watered down its own mandate for screening the export of military goods, rewriting parts of the only substantive public statement available on Ottawa’s responsibilities for policing foreign sales."

Previous policy on military exports : Canada’s export controls are meant “to regulate and impose certain restrictions on exports in response to clear policy objectives.” 

New policy :"export controls are intended “to balance the economic and commercial interests of Canadian business with the national interest of Canada.”

So it's jobs, jobs, jobs vs "Canada prohibits the export of arms and related materiel to countries that are under United Nations Security Council arms embargos "

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's guarded "hints" above yesterday come in response to this item two days ago

"Earlier this year, a UN report criticized the Streit Group, which has a plant in Innisfil, Ont., north of Toronto, for the "illicit transfer" of 131 armoured vehicles in 2012...   At least 79 Typhoon and Spartan patrol vehicles were delivered to the effectively lawless nation in 2014
"Streit's sales were brokered through middlemen. At least four separate companies, one American and three from the United Arab Emirates, purchased the vehicles."
This brokering through middlemen to a third country is called diversion, which was prohibited by Global Affairs until it changed the rules this year to allow it.

In 2012 and 2013, the United Arab Emirates was, according to Global Affairs, our second largest destination for military exports after Saudi Arabia. 


Report on Exports of Military Goods from Canada - 2012
United Arab Emirates     $277,116,557  No armoured cars but $251,134,882 for : 
"Aircraft, lighter-than-air vehicles, unmanned airborne vehicles, aero-engines ...specially designed or modified for military use"

Libya            $3,116,000     "Ground vehicles and components" 
United Arab Emirates       $4,038,373  of which $1,659,530 was for "Ground vehicles"

Table 4: Exports of Military Goods and Technology - 2014
Libya            $2,681,000      "Ground vehicles and components"
United Arab Emirates    $10,204,844 - of which $5,205,000 were "Ground vehicles" and another $3,706,563 was for "Imaging or countermeasure equipment, specially designed for military use"

Nothing for Libya
United Arab Emirates   $3,629,728 worth of "Military Goods and Technology" but no mention exactly what was shipped.        

So are these ground vehicle sales part of the Streit Group shipment to Libya and South Sudan, or some other shipment altogether?

Well we're unlikely ever to know who shipped what where because of another change made this year to our government’s policy governing the export of military goods :
"The names of exporting companies are now specifically protected."
Neither will we know how much happens to find its way to "lawless nations" through the US, where Streit happens to have a plant, because :
"The tables do not report exports of military goods to the United States, which are roughly estimated to account for over half of Canada’s exports of military goods and technology each year."

*** Fun fact : Following the $347-million Libya * mission* and a few months after Steve had his very own Mission Accomplished moment, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird signed off on $2.68 million in armoured vehicle export sales to Libya during the UN investigation. 

Because it's 2016 ... just like it was in 2012.

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