Monday, September 18, 2017

Victoria Viewpoints: Monday, September 18, 2017

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Provincial scene:

NDP Government's Campaign financing plans

B.C. taxpayers to foot campaign-finance bill banning corporate, union donations
B.C. government to ban union and corporate political donations
Backroom deal lets taxpayers provide 'big money' to politicos
B.C's NDP unveils corporate and union donation legislation
Documents hint at petroleum industry influence on B.C.'s climate policy
Three orders issued to Enbridge subsidiary concerning B.C. pipeline project
B.C. NDP government bans corporate and union donations and introduces public subsidy for political parties
NDP campaign-finance bill limits donations, offers subsidy from taxpayers
Taxpayers burned in NDP-Green ban on big money
NDP campaign-finance bill limits donations, offers subsidy from taxpayers
NDP caps party donations at $1,200 per person
B.C. NDP introduce legislation to ban big money in politics, includes corporate and union donation ban

Three orders issued to Enbridge subsidiary concerning B.C. pipeline project
B.C. teaching material featuring Indigenous slur under review
Charges to be laid involving fentanyl shipments from China: RCMP
Seven politicians eyeing B.C. Liberal leadership bid, Coleman says
BC Ferries improves service to the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island
B.C. farmed salmon gets 'good alternative' rating in U.S.
Enbridge pipeline project cited for safety, environmental protection issues
NPA seeks to focus on bullying report in Vancouver's school board election
Publisher of school exercise book apologies for racially charged language
'A punch in the gut': Mother slams B.C. high school exercise connecting Indigenous women to 'squaw'
NDPs top promises caught up in vague consultations
Kelowna owes $1.1 million in back pay to RCMP officers
'People have no choice:" BC NDP addresses proposed Greyhound service cuts
TransLink's Board of Directors cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars last year
Why A B.C. woman says Canada Post's 'safe drop' is not safe
Province appeals ruling clearing forestry company in $5.5M wildfire
Investigation claims B.C.'s climate plan was influenced by oil and gas industry
A New Blueprint for Organizing for Change
Big Oil and Gas helped shape BC's Climate plan
Vancouver walk for reconciliation a chance to Learn, Listen and Keep the Dialogue going
B.C. municipalities call on province to reverse cuts on funding for public libraries
Parents, advocates demand action on daycare

Ottawa Observations: Monday, September 18, 2017

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene for Monday,  September 18, 2017

Trudeau calls on Myanmar's Suu Kyi to condemn violence against Rohingya Muslims
Trudeau threatens to block Boeing from federal contracts over Bombardier dispute
Small-business tax fight dominates Parliament's return
Liberal MPs' reaction to small-business tax plan show party's pitch is falling flat
Striking GM workers face threat of production shift to Mexico
New rules to dampen home sales in Canada, mortgage lenders warn
Loonie drops sharply as BoC eyes impact of currency
Canadians should worry about U.S. Border searches of cell phones, electronics: privacy czar
Trudeau, fellow MPs pay tribute to Liberal Arnold Chan
Planned tax changes ignite heated Trudeau-Scheer exchange
Justin Trudeau welcomes British PM Theresa May to Canada
Iqra Khalid urges MPs to take unified approach to Islamaphobia study
In tax fight, it's Scheer's mechanic vs. Trudeau's doctor
Andrew Scheer 'condemns' Lynn Beyak's take on First Nations issues, but leaves her in caucus
Canada won't do business with Boeing while it's "busy trying to sue us,' Trudeau says
Trudeau, May strike working group for 'seamless' post Brexit trade transition
Where the federal NDP leadership candidates stand on the issues
Liberals may use time allocation to push priorities through Parliament
Veterans may appeal for benefits again after temporary adjudicators denied them
Some doctors urging Bill Morneau to go ahead with changes
Is Jagmeet Singh poised to become NDP leader? H├ębert
Trudeau threatens to not buy Boeing fighter jets to protest firm's trade complaint
NDP's Charlie Angus leaves the door open for oil pipelines - with many strings attached
Canada's proposed national securities regulator 'significantly compromised': report
Should doctors be paid a salary?
What Canada must do about the human rights crisis in Burma
Why Bill Morneau's tax reform plan is politically necessary
Fall session becomes a test for Trudeau
A kinder, gentler M-103? Let's just wait and see
Tory leader Andrew Scheer cannot be a pussyfooter
Trudeau doubles down on class war declaration to shore up progressive vote
Virtuous vanguard or tax-dodging scun? Aspects of the tax-loophole war
Time for Reality TV in Parliament - get the cameras out of the way or let them all the way in
Canada won't buy Boeing aircraft until company drops trade complaint against Bombardier: Trudeau
Committee begins racism study prompted by anti-Islamophobia motion: "I have never seen such fomented anger'
Labour groups rally in support of Liberals contentious tax reform proposals
Canada flagged as hidden $14 trillion credit bubble stokes global crisis fears
'Crazy to wait for Brexit before UK talks to Canada about trade, says new high commissioner
RCMP launch 20 investigations involving Chinese vendors delivery fentanyl to Canada
Hurricane Maria: Feds urge Canadians to register, make travel arrangements ahead of storm
The Bank of Canada's anxiety over Trump and trade point to a pause for rates
How Trump's 'Art of the Deal' explains his approach to NAFTA negotiations

Mayor hails completion of Arena upgrade project

With the 2017-18 hockey and skating season now upon us, the City's recent upgrade to the Civic Centre facilities has gained a bit of attention, particularly for those that have made use of the rink in recent weeks.

Sharing in the observations of the arena's new look was Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain, who on Friday took to his Facebook page to share some of the highlights of that project now that it's complete and to offer up his salute to the "hard working recreation complex staff who oversaw this project"

Among the notes from the arena upgrade, Mayor Brain took note of the introduction of new high efficient LED lighting and the low emission ceiling that was installed, the lights brighter and producing less heat, while the new ceiling will offer improvements on heat loss, deliver lower operating costs and improve the city's environmental footprint.

As well, the installation of a de-humidifier should serve to assist in keeping condensation to a minimum.

Beyond those improvements, some new features for those that attend events at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre will be noticed, with Mayor Brain putting the upgrades into the washroom area for the spotlight.

Council approved the renovation project previously, with the final cost for the project stated to be at 335,000 dollars.

The arena project went to bid back back in January of this year, part of a larger call for bids for a number of jobs to take place at the Civic Centre this year.

You can review how the City approached their plans for renovations here.

Other notes from the Recreation Centre show that the city continues to look for a replacement for the former Director of Recreation and Community Services, Willa Thorpe departed her post in mid-August destined for new duties in Port Alberni.

Heading towards the end of September, a quick glance at the City's Job Opportunities page shows that the position is still listed as accepting applications and one that will remain open until filled.

More notes of items related to Prince Rupert city Council can be found on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Council to meet in Special Session this afternoon

Council Members will hear a verbal report from the City
Manager on plans for expropriation of Watson Island land

City Council members will be back to work in Council chambers this afternoon, having called a Special Regular Session for 5:15 PM.

According to the Agenda posted to the City website among the items for discussion will be a verbal report from City Manager Robert Long, the topic related to the expropriation of lands for redevelopment of Watson Island

Since they are going to be in Chambers anyways, they have also added another Closed Council Session to the list, with a short gathering scheduled for 5 PM prior to the Special Regular Session, that session will exclude the public.

Regular Council session proceedings are normally streamed through the City's video portal from the City of Prince Rupert website, or broadcast by CityWest's community channel.

Should they remember to turn on the switch tonight, those proceedings would start somewhere around 5:15PM

More notes related to City Council Discussion topics can be found on our archive  page

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

"Dwell time" issues at Fairview to see Cosco containers diverted south

The Cosco shipping line is diverting some cargo away from Prince Rupert
 this month, reportedly owing to increased dwell times at Fairview.

Normally, the fastest route for a container to travel to points inland across North America is through the Fairview Terminal gateway, however for the next six weeks, for one major shipping line, growing wait times out of Fairview have them sending their containers South.

An article posted today to the website for the trade publication Journal of Commerce, outlines the background to a decision by Cosco Shipping lines to divert their Asian import cargo to the DP World Centerm Terminal at the Port of Vancouver, bypassing Prince Rupert to avoid what is described as severe congestion and week-long dwell times.

Four vessels will skip their port call in Prince Rupert until November, they include the Xin Ou Zhou, CSCL America, Xin Fei Zhou, and CSCL Oceania, all are part of the shipping line's service that travels to ports between Asia and British Columbia, with the Canadian stops found in Vancouver and Fairview.

Prince Rupert is part of the Pacific NorthWest route recently introduced by Cosco Shipping

In comments for the Journal of Commerce article, Port of Prince Rupert spokesman Kris Schumacher outlined the current status for transit through Fairview Terminal.

“We usually have some of the lowest dwell times on the West Coast between two days and certainly less than three days," ...  “The experience right now is somewhere between three and seven days.”.

Indications from the article are that the typical dwell times should be restored by November, however no details as to why the slower times are being delivered at Prince Rupert have been revealed through the DP World information stream.

As a result of the shift to Vancouver for the next month, Canadian National Railways chief rival Canadian Pacific will be handling the diverted cargo that will now transit through the Port of Vancouver, though they have stressed that this is only a temporary measure.

Cosco expanded on the diversion plans for its customers with a Customer Advisory.

“Shipments on our CPNW vessels, originally via Prince Rupert and destined to Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, will be diverted for discharging at Vancouver (Centerm terminal) to final destination,”

The Journal of Commerce noted that the shipments involved now include goods destined for the US.

The success of the Fairview terminal through its ten years of service has been built on its reputation to turn the arriving cargo around in a quick period of time, making for a competitive advantage for the both the port and CN.

This would appear to be the first major diversion that the port has seen in recent times.

More background on the current situation can be found from the Journal of Commerce article here.

Further notes on Fairview Terminal can be reviewed from our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Northwest Community College proposes new name

More change is coming to NWCC, with a proposed name change
now part of a process of consultation for college officials

Coast Mountain College, that's the name that the NWCC selection panel has identified as the proposed new name for the Northwest educational institution.

In a media release issued today, NWCC outlined how with the new name now selected, the final stage of community engagement will now get underway across the region.

As outlined by college officials, the proposed new name comes after two years of research and strategic planning, a process which involved staff, faculty, students, alumni and community members.

The planning was in support of the college's goal of becoming the college of choice for experiential place-based learning by 2027.

As part of today's announcement, NWCC President and CEO Ken Burt highlighted the approach the college is taking to delivering post-secondary education in the region.

“The work we did with staff, students and community around the strategic planning process really demonstrated that the core purpose of the college is to create adventurous pathways to transform lives,” 

“Our students are learning in some of the most unique classrooms in the world – from oceans and glaciers, to First Nations language classes and culturally significant locations in the region. Our unique field schools are giving students a chance to bring their studies to life outside the four walls of a traditional classroom.”

The process of reducing the list of proposed names from 30 to one started in 2016, with the process then picking up steam earlier this year.

In April NWCC officials had settled on  four names that made the final cut, leading up to today's announcement that declares that the majority of those that were surveyed preferred Coast Mountain College.

Among the themes that called to those who responded to the survey was the belief that the new name speaks to the rugged and sprawling area of the province that the college serves and is aspirational in nature.

College representatives will now embark on a three week engagement period with members of the college community across the Northwest and Haida Gwaii seeking to determine the level of support for the proposed name change.

Following that engagement process, letters of support will be forwarded to the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training along with formal request to change the college's names.

How some of the campus locations across the region respond to the proposed name could make for some interesting observations.

By selecting Coast Mountain College, the Terrace based college is following a path highlighted by the public school system in the Skeena region, which is known as the Coast Mountains School District.

The upcoming engagement process will also offer up some indication as to how the NWCC campuses of Smithers, Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii view the proposed name and whether Coast Mountain College will make for a good fit for their communities, as well as embrace the scope of territory that the college serves.

The move to change the name of the college in the region comes after NWCC recently removed its iconic Thunderbird logo, that decision was made earlier this year after concerns about cultural appropriation.

A review of today's proposed name change announcement can be found here.

More notes related to Northwest Community College can be examined on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Hopes for LNG, concerns over hospital replacement among themes for Skeena MLA Ellis Ross

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross provided his Budget update response
for the Legislature on Thursday

As we noted over the weekend, part of last week's debate and discussion on the newly introduced Financial update from Finance Minister Carole James was turned over to individual MLA's who offered up their comments related to the plan for the future from Premier John Horgan.

Last Thursday afternoon, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice provided her positive look at the path being blazed by her party as they settle into governing the province, earlier in the day, another voice from the Northwest had been heard, as Liberal Skeena MLA Ellis Ross made his first major speech to the Legislature for the fall session.

Mr. Ross speaking in the morning session, made note of the people that had elected him to office and what they hoped to see him achieve as their representative in Victoria, particularly when it comes to the economic development for the riding that spans the southern part of the Highway 37 corridor.

 I met a lot of people during the election at the door-knocking, and I heard a lot of different views about which direction we should head. Despite all the different opinions, everyone agreed on the final destination. The common denominator always came down to economic development and specifically the jobs that come from economic development. Kitimat being an industrial town, Terrace as a service hub and Nisga'a trying to implement their historic treaty — all wanted jobs for their members. There was a common desire to see all of the abundant resources that we have in the north used to directly benefit the people in the region.

On that theme of development he provided some personal reflection, particular when it comes to LNG in the Northwest, noting that originally he had been opposed to the concept of developing LNG terminals in the region, but after consultation with his fellow councillors on the Haisla Council of the time he came to shift those opinions.

I want to provide this House with a northern perspective. In 2003, I opposed any development of any kind, including forestry and LNG, but a few of my fellow wise councillors encouraged me to first look at my people's social and economic situation before deciding my mandates, which I did. I explored it.

In turn, I was discouraged by the high unemployment, the drug and alcohol abuse, the poverty and no future. I was more discouraged by politicians over the decades who promised a better future but never delivered anything over those decades. It was then I decided to take on a new approach and path to self-reliance, independence and self-determination. The success of our council is still being felt today, although not as strong as a few years ago.

Our engagement, which facilitated — not blocked, not stalled, but facilitated — the optimism of LNG exports and port development, positively impacted the region and the province of B.C. and, dare I say, Canada. Businesses flourished, hired more people, and workers came in from all over the province and Canada. There were lineups in restaurants, mortgages acquired, and dreams came true for the people in Skeena.

Mr. Ross also observed that while some of the high profile projects proposed for the Prince Rupert area have since been cancelled, the Kitimat plans remain active for now, however for the Legislature the MLA for Skeena had some cautionary words on how he views the NDP approach for the industry.

The PNW cancellation was a huge blow to northeast and northwest B.C. Now Aurora LNG in Prince Rupert has ended their feasibility study and will cease all investigation activity. My sincere condolences to those projects and the people affected. But Kitimat projects are trying to hang on. The billions of dollars of investment that are proposed for my riding are still there. In fact, in thinking about this overall approach, none of this makes sense to me when we're talking about LNG. 

While the rest of the world is looking to LNG to reduce emissions, forces in B.C. want to keep B.C. LNG out of the solution for global warming. Everybody else sees it as a solution, as a clean-burning fuel source — China, the United States. Everybody sees it. Even Germany is going to start looking to LNG to reduce emissions. 

B.C. wants to stay out of that game. 

They do not want LNG to help with the global warming issues all over this world. So we can pat ourselves on the back to say, "We're doing our part," but in effect, we're not doing our part because we're not helping China."

Taking further to the theme of the Budget document of Monday, Mr. Ross called attention to one particular absence from the narrative of the Finance Minister.

I've heard that this government supports LNG, but it wasn't even mentioned in the Finance Minister's budget update speech. That concerns me honourable speaker. I haven't seen anything in this budget that reflects the incredible opportunity that LNG export offers to the growth of B.C. and to reduce China's emissions, or to lift First Nations out of dependence and the Indian Act. I can't tell you how disappointing that is to the people of the Skeena riding.

Mr. Ross also explored some interesting themes on the nature of relations between the provincial government and First Nations communities, particularly when it comes to some of the recent NDP commentary on how to further engagement and how he has some concerns over some of their proposed initiatives.

Another local concern for the MLA is the fate of the new Terrace hospital project proposed in the Spring, with Mr. Ross noting that it was not part of the information flow from Monday's budget update.

In terms of the hospitals in B.C., it's well known that Terrace residents have been waiting a long time for a new hospital. In fact, everybody in the region that uses the Terrace hospital and uses Terrace overall as a hub have been waiting for a new hospital.

One of the reasons that we can't attract new doctors and nurses to the north is because they come to see the poor facilities that we currently have, and they see no future for themselves or their families. We have a strong population up there that needs medical services like everybody else — just like everybody else in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island ... 

Both parties, leading up to this election, agreed that the Terrace hospital would be replaced. In fact, it was in the February budget. It's not in this current budget.

People in the north know that without economic development, facilities like a new hospital just won't happen for people in the north. 

It's a shame, because there are many people and organizations who spent years advocating for a replacement of their hospital 

If this government and the Green Party do not support LNG, then hopefully, you'll agree that the region needs to be prepared with an up-to-date hospital and infrastructure. I just don't see the Terrace hospital being replaced. If not in this budget, hopefully the next budget will cover it.

The theme of transportation also made for a portion of the wide range of topics introduced to the Legislature on Thursday, with Mr. Ross reviewing the recent application by Greyhound to suspend service across the Highway 16 corridor and beyond, issuing a call for action from the new Transportation Minister.

I also mentioned earlier that we have to travel greater distances in the north just to get around. So you can imagine that people in my riding of Skeena and, in fact, all over northern B.C. are devastated with the news that Greyhound wants to pull out of its northern routes. 

If Greyhound does get approval to end its bus runs in northern British Columbia, there will be a major gap for those who want to travel Highway 16 on the corridor west of Prince George. Greyhound says that the new B.C. Transit bus service along Highway 16 that the former Liberal government brought in poses too much competition. 

Just when we had the combination of services finally covering local needs, we now have a potential pullout by Greyhound, and it is a safety issue honourable speaker. We are hearing from the relatives of people who lost family members along Highway 16, and they are extremely upset about this. 

So we are waiting to hear how the provincial government is going to respond, and we'd like to hear soon. I've seen previous applications for other regions for the same kind of reasons, but other regions don't have the same safety concerns that we have. 

Our highway has been named the Highway of Tears. So I am calling on the government and the Minister of Transportation to act fast before we lose this invaluable service.

The concerns over health care and the service provided by Greyhound made for part of the larger ten minute overview of Thursday that highlighted what the Liberal MLA called the divide he currently sees in the province and the need for a bridge between rural and urban British Columbia.

You can review the full text of the speech from the Legislature Archive and view Mr. Ross's presentation to the Legislature from Thursday Mornings Chamber video archive.

The Skeena MLA begins his budget response at just after the 11 AM mark.

For more items related to the work of the Skeena MLA in Victoria see our archive page here, while our archive of notes for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice can be found here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review