WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS 2017

 

FRONT PAGE BREAKING NEWS

News in support of successful living: business & economy, health & wellness, education, the arts, politics, sustainability & social trends. Featuring news of the west side of Vancouver Island.

Click on other pages for deeper stories and local news:  BC & NATIONAL | VANCOUVER ISLAND (island-wide impact) | LANGFORD, COLWOOD & METCHOSIN | SOOKE |  JUAN de FUCAREGIONAL EVENTS


 

Royal Bay Secondary School in Colwood [West Shore Voice News photo – June 2016]

Thursday, May 25 ~ LANGFORD. The two new high schools in Sooke School District 62 (SD62) — Belmont and Royal Bay — are now LEED Gold Certified. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is determined by standards and third-party verification for structures that are considered to be ‘green’ or environmentally friendly.

The announcement of LEED status was proudly announced by SD62 Board Chair Bob Phillips at the May 23 SD62 board meeting.

Belmont Secondary School in Langford [West Shore Voice News photo – June 2016]

“LEED Gold Certification is a lengthy and stringent process. It reflects highly on our board,” said Phillips. The certification in part reflects SD62’s ability to have attracted quality architects and builders to the two school projects. “It bodes well for SD62 that we can build quality buildings,” said Phillips, in the context that more schools are needed in the growing western communities area that is served by SD62.

Belmont Secondary in Langford and Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood opened their doors to students for the first time in September 2015.

Due to growth in western communities population, the schools are already beyond capacity and will be installing portables to accommodate full student enrollment for Fall 2017. Belmont was built to accommodate 1,200 students and Royal Bay presently accommodates 800 students.


Thursday, May 25, 2017 ~ BC. News analysis. So you’d think the dust would have settled after the BC Election final count yesterday. But stay tuned for further action.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan is pushing an agenda for the public good… that the NDP with their 41 seats be given the lead by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to form government with the support of the Greens and their 3 seats.

That still pulls in only 44 seats. That’s the required number to form a majority (though one MLA would sit as speaker, leaving still 43 votes in the house). But it’s not all about numbers.

This is one of those starkly evident moments in the political life of a democracy where the values, insights, and positive intention of leaders must shine through.

Voters in BC obviously did not want the status quo, but they also didn’t want to lose stability. Hopefully wisdom prevails, and a coalition that works for the people of this province prevails.

During the 28-day election campaign, Horgan was the only leader of the three parties willing to actually articulate the frustration of the people. Remarkably, the fracture lines of that articulation has shone through, regardless of first-past-the-post riding count results.

Here is John Horgan’s statement from May 24 after the final results were announced by Elections BC:
“British Columbians have voted overwhelmingly to replace Christy Clark’s Liberals with a new government that works better for families. They voted for better schools, shorter wait times for health services, to defend our coast and to fix our broken political system. The newly elected BC NDP team will be working hard every day to ensure British Columbians get a new government that works for them instead of just the wealthy and well-connected.”


BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver (centre) with Green MLAs Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau [May 15, 2017]

Wednesday, May 24 ~ VICTORIA. Andrew Weaver, leader of the BC Green Party, issued the following statement in response to the final vote counts for the 2017 BC provincial election, which has resulted in a legislature where no one party has won a majority of the seats.

“The BC Green caucus is committed to ensuring that British Columbians will have a stable minority government,” said Weaver.

“With this historic result, British Columbia can finally put the ineffective two-party system behind us. It has led to a divisive legislature that primarily benefits special interests,” said Weaver.

“This is an incredible opportunity for BC’s political leaders to put partisan differences aside and work for the common good. I look forward to working with both other parties so that we can finally get big money out of politics, move towards electoral reform and implement good public policy on a wide range of issues that puts people first.”


 

BC Premier Christy Clark gave her election night speech in Vancouver, May 10.

Wednesday, May 24 ~ BC. Upon the final recount announced at 4:30 pm today May 24 by Elections BC, Premier Christy Clark has issued the following statement:

“I want to congratulate all candidates, from all parties, who put their names forward to run. It’s not easy, and they deserve our gratitude for working to make our province even better.

“With 43 BC Liberal candidates elected as MLAs, and a plurality in the legislature, we have a responsibility to move forward and form a government. The final result reinforces that British Columbians want us to work together, across party lines, to get things done for them.

“Our priority is to protect our strong economy and to manage BC’s finances responsibly, while listening closely to British Columbians on how we address important social and environmental priorities and how we can make BC politics more responsive, transparent, and accountable.

“The work is just beginning. My team and I look forward to delivering positive results for British Columbians.”


Wednesday, May 24 ~ BC. That official recount that everyone has had their eye on in Courtenay-Comox has produced a final victory for the BC NDP, by 189 votes. BC NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard  is now the confirmed winner of that riding, over BC Liberal candidate Jim Benninger.

That leaves BC with the same election result as on Election Night, May 9: BC Liberals with 43 seats, NDP with 41 seats, and Greens with 3 seats.

Over 176,000 absentee ballots were counted during May 22 to 24, to determine the final election results in all 87 ridings in BC. There are 87 seats in the BC Legislature.

At this time, BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark continues as Premier of BC as first requested on May 10 by BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon. However, by a self-imposed deadline of May 31, BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says he will announce which party the Greens would work with — BC Liberals or BC NDP — to form a coalition government. It will be up to Guichon to make the final call.

The percentage of popular vote was determined as BC Liberal 40.36%, BC NDP 40.28%, BC Green 16.84%, Libertarian 0.40% and Other 2.12%. Together, the BC NDP and BC Greens captured 57.12% of what could be called the progressive vote. BC NDP Leader John Horgan thereby says the people voted for a progressive government, and hopes that the 41 BC NDP seats plus the 3 BC Green seats will — as a combined 44 seats — be more representative of the will of the people.

Regardless of which party or combination of party seats forms a majority, one of the 44 MLAs will have to serve as Speaker, still leaving 43 MLAs to vote and that’s not a majority. As Premier Christy Clark seems to have newly discovered … the people of BC want all parties to work together.

The newly formed BC government may have to move forward by agreement on one legislative bill at a time. Any which way you look at it, it’s a fragile setup. Another election will eventually be called when whatever minority/coalition arrangement ends up happening then begins to fall apart.

In total 1,973,914 people cast counted ballots in BC for this 41st General Election.


SD62 School Board Chair Bob Phillips [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, May 24 ~ West Shore/Sooke. Long-time Sooke School District (SD62) trustee board trustee Bob Phillips will be resigning from the position of board chair at the end of June 2017. He made that brief announcement at the May 23 SD62 public board meeting last night in Langford.

Phillips has told West Shore Voice News that the SD62 board is “a corporate board”, indicating his inclination for more direct involvement in politics. Phillips is long of the NDP party stripe and was a key organizer in the re-election of BC NDP incumbent John Horgan (Langford-Juan de Fuca) in the recent provincial election.

Most of the trustees on the SD62 board have served long a long time, some of them three or four terms, including Wendy Hobbs, Denise Riley, Dianna Seaton (currently serving as vice-chair). and Margot Swinburnson. Neil Poirier is serving his second term, and Ravi Parmar his first term.

In the important matters of education, the wisdom of life experience counts for sometimes as much as understanding the machinations of board interworkings.

A social worker (retired) by trade, Phillips has overseen a contrast of conditions for SD62 budget realities in the past two years. In 2015-2016, the SD62 board agonized over yet another round of cutbacks resulting from province-wide education battles with the BC Ministry of Education. In 2016-2017 came the shift point where more teachers could be hired (mostly heading into fall 2017).

More appropriate funding is also now being received for 2017-2018 to support schools with the underpinnings that come with increased classroom teacher numbers (e.g. custodial, utilities overhead). That accomplishment comes largely from behind-the-scenes work by SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge.

Over 200 new teachers will come onstream in SD62 for 2017-2018 as a result of the restored class size and composition clauses in the BC teachers agreement with the provincial government.

In the past few years, SD62 has seen rapid student population growth as families flock to relatively more affordable areas of Vancouver Island’s western communities. In the fall of 2015, SD62 opened two new highschools — Royal Bay in Colwood and Belmont in Langford. Both of those schools already need portable classrooms to keep up with demand. At least 25 portables will be shuffled around the broad SD62 footprint of the west shore, once enrollment numbers are firmed up for the start of the 2017-2018 academic year in September.

From a public perspective, SD62 serves families and students in the communities of Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin and Port Renfrew. From the inside out, SD62 is a largely charged with managing the employment of thousands of teachers. Over 85% of the 2017-2018 budget will go to teacher salaries.

Follow education news ‘from the inside out’ each week in West Shore Voice News 

[WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS PHOTO: Bob Phillips during the visit of the BC Lieutenant Governor at Edward Milne Community School, January 2017]


Young concertgoers in Manchester UK following what is being called a terrorist attack.

Monday, May 22, 2017 ~ UK.  [Update May 23 — 22 people killed, 59 injured]

An explosion struck outside a concert by U.S. pop singer Ariana Grande in northern England late Monday (UK local time around 10:35 pm), killing at least 19 people at the scene. About 59 injured people were taken to hospital. Others called ‘walking wounded’ were treated at the scene. Police are calling the incident a terrorist attack.

The explosion is widely believed to be that of a bomb that was deliberately set to impact as many people as possible as the concert ended and people were streaming from the concert venue.

For updates directly from police in Manchester, follow @gmpolice on Twitter.

Tonight around 10:30 pm PDT, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued the following statement on the attack in Manchester, United Kingdom:

“I was devastated when I heard about the innocent victims who were killed or injured at the Ariana Grande concert tonight in Manchester – many of them far too young. On behalf of all Canadians, our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of those who were killed. We also wish a speedy recovery to everyone who was injured.

Canada and the United Kingdom are the closest of friends, and we stand together as a people in this most tragic of circumstances. With our allies and partners, we will continue to counter such senseless acts and to fight terrorism in its many forms. We will do all that we can to assist British authorities in bringing those responsible to justice.

Our hearts are with the people of the United Kingdom tonight, and we mourn with them the loss of so many innocent victims.”

The Prime Minister’s office also stated on the PMO’s website: “We are still in the process of determining whether any Canadians have been impacted by this event. Canadian citizens in the United Kingdom requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the High Commission of Canada at 0207 004 6000 or call Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre toll free at 00-800-2326-6831 or collect at +1 613 996-8885. An email can also be sent to sos@international.gc.ca


Monday, May 22 ~ BC. That official recount that everyone has had their eye on in Courtenay-Comox has produced four more votes for the NDP. The BC NDP candidate there — Ronna-Rae Leonard — therefore still holds the win by a margin of 13 votes over BC Liberal candidate Jim Benninger.

Absentee ballots totaling 2,077 still need to be counted in that riding… the results of that count could be known by tomorrow May 23, or perhaps stretching into Wednesday, May 24.

In the initial results of the general election on May 9, the BC Liberals won 43 seats, the BC NDP won 41, and the BC Green Party nabbed three. That left the Liberals are one seat short of a majority government, and both the BC Liberals & BC NDP scrambling to line up discussion pathways with the BC Greens that appear to presently hold the balance of power.

On May 10, BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon asked BC Liberal leader Christy Clark to continue as Premier of BC until the final seat count is known.

A recount has also been completed in Vancouver-False Creek on the mainland. BC Liberal incumbent Sam Sullivan’s lead has grown from 560 votes to 569 votes over BC NDP candidate Morgane Oger. Officials in the riding will now be counting the 2,814 absentee ballots.

Officials have been counting absentee ballots all day this holiday Monday, in the 85 other ridings. There are now 87 seats in the BC Legislature for the upcoming session.


Monday, May 22 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. A team of volunteers will gather at the Empress Acres farm in Nanaimo June 3 and 4 to plant 20 acres of trees as part of an initiative to tackle climate change. The specially selected Empress Splendor trees will be provided by World Tree, a Victoria company, as part of their Carbon Offset Program.

The Empress Splendor is a non-invasive, hybrid species, that can grow in most the United States and Canada where it’s primary use is lumber. Empress trees grow best in places with summer temperatures of 70°F (21°C) and higher for at least 5 to 6 months a year at an altitude of less than 2,200 ft. The trees typically grow 10 to 20 ft in the first year and reach maturity in 10 years.

“Most people have never heard of the Empress Tree, even though there is a mature tree on the grounds of the legislature building in Victoria,” says Wendy Burton, CEO of World Tree. “This will be the first large-scale planting of these trees on Vancouver Island and we hope that it will attract more local farmers to the program.”

The project is backed by Canadian investors who want to offset their carbon footprint. The exceptional growth rate and large leaves of the trees makes them carbon sponges, absorbing 11 times more carbon than any other tree.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the trees will provide an important revenue stream to Empress Acres farm. The trees will be harvested at maturity and the income will be shared with all the stakeholders: the farmers, the investors and World Tree.

“The Empress Splendor has many benefits for the environment and for us as farmers,” says Angela Nauta, one of the Empress Acres owners. “The carbon capture is important for our sustainability, and we are also very happy to get the benefit of extra income in 10 years.”

Once they are harvested, the trees will re-grow from the stump providing ongoing benefits to the environment and the growers for many decades to come.

World Tree has been promoting the properties of the Empress Tree since 2002 and launched their Carbon Offset Program in 2015. This year they have planted over 100,000 trees with farmers in Canada, United States and Costa Rica which will offset over 5 million tons of carbon over the next 50 years. They are expanding their program and are actively seeking farmers.


Members of the Canada Women’s Sevens team joined Gareth Rees of Rugby Canada (left), Langford Mayor Stew Young (second from right), and (from left) Councillors Winnie Sifert, Denise Blackwell, Lillian Szpak, and Lanny Seaton at Langford City Hall on May 18. Rugby players (from left/front row): Hannah Darling, Julia Greenshields. (Back row): Charity Williams, Breanna Nicholas, Sara Kaljuvee, Megan Lukan. [West Shore Voice News photo 2017]

Friday, May 19 ~ LANGFORD.  Rugby has long been supported in Langford, from grassroots to high-performance. In anticipation of the upcoming 2017 HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens tournament at Westhills Stadium on Saturday May 27 and Sunday May 28, this week Langford Mayor Stew Young declared May 27 as Rugby Day in Langford during a brief event at city hall.

The upcoming tournament will host the best 12 women’s sevens teams in the world. “We are honoured to have Rugby Canada call Langford home, and we are proud of the hard work, talent and dedication these elite athletes put forth,” said Mayor Young. “We recognize the support of the community, fans, and volunteers and we look forward to the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens playing in our world class sporting facility.”

2017 HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens marks the third consecutive year that the Langford community has enthusiastically embraced a dynamic weekend of high performance sport. In addition to serving as an annual host to this international series, Langford is also the home of the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre, which will serve as a critical component for the on-going development of high performance rugby in Canada.

“Rugby Day in Langford is a fitting initiative for a community that has played such an important role in supporting and inspiring our Canadian rugby athletes,” said Gareth Rees, Director Commercial and Program Relations, Rugby Canada. “We are grateful for the continued passion and leadership the City of Langford shows toward the development of rugby in Canada, and we look forward to hosting an exciting weekend where members of the community will have the chance to watch the best women’s sevens players in the world compete for the tournament and series title.”

The 2017 HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens will host 12 of the world’s best women’s sevens teams for the fifth stop on the six-event circuit of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. Canadian women are currently third in the overall standings heading into Langford, coming off a recent silver medal performance in Japan. Previously, they finished sixth in Dubai, won in Sydney, and placed third in Las Vegas. They’re only 12 points back of 1st overall and two points away from claiming 2nd with two tournaments remaining.

Thousands of people have already bought tickets for the May 27-28 tournament, but there’s room for more. Rugby enthusiasts, families, and developing rugby athletes who aspire to represent Canada one day on the world stage come out each year for this event. The tournament will also be broadcast live on www.worldrugby.org and TSN GO. In-stadium tickets: www.canadasevens.com


Tuesday, May 16 ~ BC. This afternoon May 16 in a news conference from her office in Vancouver, Premier Christy Clark emphasized that the final election results are not counted yet. So she started by thanking everyone who ran as a candidate in the 41st General Election that brought out about 60% of registered voters to the polls on May 9.

On election night the BC Liberals won 43 seats, the NDP won 41 and the Greens 3. All party leaders were returned to the legislature: Christy Clark for the BC Liberals, John Horgan for the BC NDP (Leader of the Official Opposition), and Andrew Weaver as the BC Green Party leader.

“All of us share a profound love for this beautiful province that we call British Columbia,” said Clark, adding that she “heard loud and clear” that people want the government to work across party lines. “We share so many goals in common,” said Premier Clark.

“They want us to do that regardless of what party we were elected to represent,” said Clark. Her critics might ask why cooperation was not forthcoming in the last 16 years of BC Liberal majority governments. The May 9 election results pushed that point and it seems to have stuck.

“We are listening. We have heard your voice, you want change. You want government to deliver on what matters to you,” the Premier said in the short media session.

Clark announced that Brad Bennett (son of former premier Bill Bennett and grandson of former premier WAC Bennett) will lead the BC Government transition team for the next few weeks.

“British Columbians want to get on with the things that are important to them. But they said they want us to remember the things that are important to them.  They want us to see past politicians and see them — that is the message in this election,” said Clark. “It’s a message we have heard and are determined to reflect back.”

BC’s Official Opposition Leader John Horgan met with media at 4pm today May 16. 

When asked about his stand on the TransMountain pipeline, he said “we need to defend our coast from a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic” and that he would discuss the issue with Prime Minister Trudeau if the NDP becomes the majority government in BC after the BC Election recount (results expected May 24).

Horgan said he is eager to see the final election results involving over 170,000 absentee ballots after which “I can’t wait to get started”.

The BC NDP won 41 seats in the May 9 BC General Election. Final count comes May 24.

Meanwhile, Horgan aims to continue focusing on services that people in BC want such as improvements in health care and services for seniors. “My whole objective of my getting into politics was to make life better for people,” Horgan told media today. “I’m still involved and still want to do that.”

Regarding Premier Clark’s comments today about working to improve services for people in BC, Horgan said. “That message clearly has been lost on the liberals for the last 16 years.” He said there have been “no shortage of opportunities” for the government to work on behalf of the people.

Horgan said that almost 60% of those who voted were saying to the government they the people haven’t believed the government is working for them, that they were “more focused on fundraising than on governing”.

“Almost 60% of the ballots were cast against the sitting government,” said Horgan, referring to the combined voting results of the BC NDP and the BC Greens.

And on proportional representation: “What we have is a real opportunity to demonstrate why proportional representation can work here in BC. We have an outcome that allows two parties with vast majorities to work together with opportunities for the people,” said Horgan today. “People are satisfied with the election results and want to make sure this minority situation works.”

Post-election analysis (‘Part One’, ahead of final vote count on May 24) is on pages 1 & 2 in the May 12, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


Monday, May 15 ~ WEST SHORE. About 2,500 students from 17 elementary schools throughout SD62 (Langford, Colwood, Sooke) will be converging on Belmont Secondary in Langford to hear the Victoria Symphony Orchestra live!

The event is on Thursday May 18 in the school gym. The special appearance by the symphony — in three concerts, taking up most of the day — was set in motion by SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge last year, says Belmont principal Ray Miller.

Events like this capture the interest of young students who might then become more involved with music during their middle school and high school years.

‘Musicians in Schools’ and ‘Symphony Story Time’ are just two of the programs by which the Victoria Symphony interacts in schools.


Saturday, May 13 ~ BC. Any which way now, BC is left with a minority government. And here are the mechanics of it:

Today May 13 it was announced by Elections BC that district electoral officer recounts will take place in the Courtenay-Comox and Vancouver-False Creek electoral districts as part of final count (to take place May 22 to 24).

Under the Election Act, candidates or their official agents can request a recount of some or all of the ballots considered at initial count within three days after General Voting Day. Recount requests are accepted if:
• the difference between the top two candidates is close (defined in the Election Act as 100 votes or fewer); or
• votes were not correctly accepted or ballots were not correctly rejected, or a ballot account does not accurately record the number of votes for a candidate.

The following recount requests were received by the deadline, says Elections BC:

Electoral District Candidate who made the request for recount: 
Coquitlam-Burke Mountain |  Jodie Wickens  |  Not accepted
Courtenay-Comox  |  Jim Benninger  |  ACCEPTED
Maple Ridge-Mission  |  Marc Dalton  | Not accepted
Richmond-Queensborough |   Aman Singh  | Not accepted
Vancouver-False Creek  |  Morgane Oger  | Not accepted
Vancouver-False Creek  |  Phillip James Ryan  |   ACCEPTED

  • In Courtenay-Comox, the recount request was accepted because the difference between the top two candidates is nine votes. The top two candidates in that riding on May 9 were Ronna-Rae Leonard (BC NDP) with 10,058 votes and Jim Benninger (BC Liberal) with 10,049 votes.
  • Phillip James Ryan’s request for a recount in Vancouver-False Creek was accepted because an advance voting ballot account records 403 votes for one candidate, and the tally sheet and parcel envelope containing ballots for that candidate lists 399. In Vancouver-False Creek, the BC Liberal candidate Sam Sullivan got 9,332 votes as counted May 9, and close behind that was the NDP’s Morgane Oger with 8,772 votes. Philip Ryan with the BC Citizens First Party got 75 votes.”Morgane Oger’s request for a recount was not accepted as it did not meet these requirements. Additional information related to the request was received by the deadline, but by the time that it was received Phillip James Ryan’s request had already been accepted,” says Andrew Watson, Communications Manager, Elections BC.

“Recount requests were not accepted if they did not meet the requirements of the Election Act,” stated Watson in the Elections BC news release today May 13. In cases where the difference between the top two candidates is greater than 100 votes, recount requests must include factual basis that ballots were not correctly accepted or rejected, or that a ballot account does not accurately record the number of votes for a candidate.

“In 2008 the Election Act was revised to establish clear criteria under which district electoral officer recount requests are accepted. Following the 2009 and 2013 general elections, district electoral officer recount requests were only made on the basis that 100 votes or fewer separated the top two candidates. Applications for a judicial recount can be made up to six days after the conclusion of final count.” it was stated in today’s news release.

Following the May 9 election results, NDP leader John Horgan proposed that five ridings might turn up better results for NDP candidates under conditions of a recount. Now that is reduced to two possibilities.

The vote count on May 9 presently leaves the BC Liberals with 43 seats (one short of a majority), the BC NDP with 41 seats (which at best they could top up to 43), and the BC Green Party with a solid 3. In the 87-seat legislature, 44 seats are required for a majority. Any which way now, BC is left with a minority government.

  • Absentee ballots (being counted up to May 24) could produce more NDP seats in close races.  Where the NDP could gain seats:
    > Coquitlam-Burke Mountain – presently a 268-vote spread between BC Liberal Joan Isaccs with 9,581 and BC NDP Jodie Wickens with 9,313.
    > In Richmond-Queensborough, BC NDP candidate Aman Singh with 7,262 votes fell short by 263 votes behind BC Liberal Jas Johal’s tally of 7,525
  • Potentially, there is a BC Liberal gain in Maple Ridge-Mission, where Marc Dalton BC Liberal fell short by 120 votes behind the NDP’s Bob D’Eith with 9,843.  The upcoming absentee ballot count could tip that.

If it falls in the end to 42-42-3 there is the hope (by the general population) that some productive policy-making will get done in the next year or two. Minority governments often don’t last longer than that. Which means BC will head into another election within the next two years.


Thursday, May 11 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries is adding over 85 extra sailings on the most popular routes for the Victoria Day long weekend: Thursday May 18 through Tuesday May 23.

That includes the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route (60 extra sailings), Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay, HorseshoeBay-Langdale, Earls Cover-Saltery Bay.

The most popular travel times are expected to be Thursday and Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning. Monday is usually the busiest day for return trips.


Thursday, May 11 ~ CANADA. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will participate in the Microsoft CEO Summit in Seattle, Washington, May 17 and 18, to promote the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, encourage investment in the Canadian technology sector, and draw global talent to Canada.

This year’s summit, under the theme “The CEO Agenda: Navigating Change,” will bring together more than 150 chief executive officers. While at the Summit, Prime Minister Trudeau will showcase Budget 2017’s Innovation and Skills Plan and demonstrate how Canada is making it easier for Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators to turn their ideas into thriving businesses.

Trudeau will also meet with Washington Governor Jay Inslee. “Canada’s greatest strength is its skilled, hard-working, creative, and diverse workforce. Canada is recognized as a world leader in research and development in many areas like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 3D programming. Our government will continue to help Canadian businesses grow and create good, well-paying middle class jobs in today’s high-tech economy.” said Prime Minister Trudeau in a news release May 11.

Canada-U.S. bilateral trade in goods and services reached approximately $882 billion in 2016. Nearly 400,000 people and over $2 billion-worth of goods and services cross the Canada-U.S. border every day. Canada-Washington bilateral trade was $19.8 billion in 2016. Some 223,300 jobs in the State of Washington depend on trade and investment with Canada. Canada is among Washington’s top export destinations.

The Microsoft CEO Summit was established in 1997 in response to growing interest in the convergence of technology and business issues among corporate CEOs. Attendees have an opportunity to hear leading industry experts analyze economic trends and technology issues. The summit also offers a forum in which CEOs can discuss and debate business challenges and share insights and experiences with their peers from around the world. This year marks the 21st annual CEO Summit, which has evolved into a world-class forum for business leaders to debate technology and innovation in the face of pressing global business issues.

The Microsoft CEO Summit 2017 will take place in Redmond, Wash., May 16–18. More than 140 CEOs and leaders from leading companies and organizations representing more than 35 countries will attend the Microsoft CEO Summit. Microsoft says its 2017 summit discussion topics include:

  • Trust in Technology
    The debate over trust in information technology has rapidly moved from the back office to the front page, with far-reaching implications. Concerns over encryption; hacking of emails by foreign governments and others; tensions between governments and international disputes involving the movement of data across borders; and growing regulatory demands relating to privacy protection.
  • The Race to Space
    The space missions of the 20th century captured the world’s imagination and served as a development crucible for revolutionary new technologies. Today private citizens are investing their own money and harnessing the power of visionary thinking to achieve extraordinary progress in the endeavor to explore and understand space.

Vote results 60% in BC in May 9 General Election. Photo from Leaders Debate April 26 (from left): Christy Clark, Andrew Weaver, John Horgan.

Thursday, May 11 ~ BC.  Elections BC today announced that the voter turnout was 60% in the May 9 BC General Election. Voter turnout was high in 1983 at 70.5%, falling to the mid-60% range in 1986 and 1991. Then in 1996 voter turnout fell below 60%, reaching 50% by 2009. In 2013 the voter turnout was back up to 55.32%.

In Tuesday’s election results, 43 seats were won by the BC Liberals, which for now has returned them to power under Premier Christy Clark, following a decision by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon. The NDP won 41 seats, and the Greens won three seats.  With a judicial recount in the riding of Courtenay-Comox (where the margin was just nine votes in favour of the NDP candidate), final seat count won’t be known until after May 23. At least 44 seats are required to form a majority.

The final count on May 23 will also include all the absentee ballots that were sent in by mail or cast at voting locations other than the voter’s home riding. Logistically it just takes time for all those paper ballots to be location-identified and shipped to those locations.

If the final seat count ends up as 44 for the BC Liberals and 41 for the NDP, then the Liberals will be returned to a majority government (as they had before the April 11 dissolution ahead of the May 9 election). If the NDP wins in Courtenay-Comox, then the seats will be 42/42/3 and that will require cooperation among the three parties in order for government to be maintained.

Minority governments are more complicated and usually more fragile, and usually lead to another election being called before the usual term is played out. For BC, that could mean another election within 18 to 24 months.

Under these circumstances, BC NDP Leader John Horgan delivered a “wait and see” speech after midnight on Wednesday May 10, after the preliminary May 9 election results were known. This has left his party — more than anyone — in an intense state of limbo.

Horgan held onto his seat in Langford-Juan de Fuca, winning 52.78% of the vote in the west shore riding that he has held now with four election wins since 2005.

If the seats won by NDP (41) and Green (3) are presently combined, that means more seats were won by the ‘progressive vote’ than by the Liberals.


 

Christy Clark has been asked by the Lieutenant Governor to carry on as Premier.

Wednesday, May 10 ~ BC.  BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon has requested that Premier Clark continue to govern as Premier of British Columbia. Clark made the announcement at noon today from her Premier’s office in Vancouver.

The vote count from last night’s General Election tally sits at 43 BC Liberal, 41 BC NDP, and 3 Green until a final count is produced on May 23 (which will include the absentee ballot count from around the province and any BC military/residents abroad).

Many people didn’t realize that if they took advantage of the “28 days of voting” at District Electoral Offices and by other means, that their vote would not be included yet in election-night tallies. The preliminary count of certification envelopes containing absentee ballots province-wide is 176,104.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has congratulated Clark for being the first woman to be re-elected as a provincial premier.

The NDP and Greens could bring down the present BC Liberal government and form a new one when the legislature meets. Much of the punditry is enthused about Green Leader Andrew Weaver holding the power card. He could decide to go along with the BC Liberals and the existing setup or side with the NDP to consolidate the progressive vote. Either way, all this is a potential powder keg for seeing another BC election ahead of the usual four-year schedule.


 

BC NDP Leader delivered a speech that emphasized waiting for definitive election results.

Wednesday, May 10 ~ BC. While in a sense there can only be one winner, the leaders of BC’s three main political parties each delivered an acceptance speech after midnight on Wednesday May 10.

And technically speaking, at the moment, a minority government is what is presently the case with no one party in the May 9 BC General Provincial Election having the required 44 seats to form a majority. The BC Liberals have 43 seats, the BC NDP have 41, and the Greens have three.

The late hour was all about waiting for definitive results from the Tuesday night election. But that was not to be. With so many advance votes and absentee votes still to be counted (as well as an official recount required in Courtenay-Comox due to a very close results), final results won’t be known until May 23.

Under those circumstances, BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark is still Premier, and said in her speech that the voters asked for new considerations. BC NDP Leader John Horgan claimed the moral victory in his speech out of Vancouver, saying voters have asked for change. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver knows that he has a powerful hand to play, in that his new group of three MLAs in a sense hold the balance of power.

More to come.


Tuesday, May 9 ~ BC. ELECTION RESULTS. As of 11:25 pm.

Preliminary results are showing BC Liberals in the lead (43 ridings), and BC NDP (41 ridings) with Greens holding 3 riding as of 11:25 pm. That’s out of a total 87 ridings. A tally of 44 ridings is required to form a majority government. As of 11:30 pm, neither of the two leading party leaders have made public statements.

 NDP Leader John Horgan has won  in his riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island (with 52% of the popular vote) over BC Liberal Cathy Noel  (26%) and Green Brendan Ralfs (19% )

>> BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark declared the winner in Kelowna West

>> NDP incumbent Melanie Mark looks strong in Vancouver Mount-Pleasant.
>> Jagrup Brar has won over high-profile BC Liberal (and recent cabinet minister) Peter Fassbender in Surrey-Fleetwood.
>> Rob Fleming, NDP, looks to be the lead in Victoria Swan-Lake
>> Jodie Wickens, NDP, in the lead in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.
>> Mitzi Dean, NDP has won in Esquimalt-Metchosin, beating out BC Liberal Barb Desjardins and Andy MacKinnon (Green).
>> David Eby, NDP has won in Vancouver-Point Grey.

>> Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver re-elected in Oak Bay Gordon Head with 51% of the vote.

Much more to come.


Tuesday, May 9 ~ BC.  Provincial election voting results will start rolling in from across BC after the polls close at 8 pm.

Over 614,00 thousand people (19.5% of registered voters) had already voted in six days of advance voting (April 29-30 and May 3-6) before the General Election Day voting opened today at 8am.

Polls are open tonight May 9 across BC, to 8pm Pacific Daylight Time.

WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND FOCUS: Click here to see the detailed results for Langford-Juan de Fuca and Esquimalt-Metchosin as well as our followup with the candidates in both ridings.

 


Tuesday, May 9 ~ BC. EDITORIAL [West Shore Voice News]. Too busy, too tired, too ‘principled’, or think that you’re too under-informed to vote? Forget all that. Barring the severest of personal circumstances, today there is no reason to sit out this election.

Not only is this province, this country and the world at a critical turning point in terms of doing what’s right for people and the planet, many people over the decades, years, and centuries have fought, suffered and died for your right to vote and live in a free society.

Yeah, yeah, the political system is less than perfect. But if you ‘protest’ by intentionally not voting, you’re not only naive you are letting the pros who work the system shine their best.

Reasons people don’t vote [Ref: 2008 US election]

YOU shine your best today. Be part of the collective force that ushers in the next phase of living in BC. A lot of drops in the bucket will fill the bucket to overflowing.

Voting Places are open 8am to 8pm throughout BC for this 41st General Provincial Election. Take your Voter ID card and two pieces of ID. Or just show up with what you’ve got, as you’re probably on the list anyways.

What you’ve got is RIGHTS. Non-voters waive their right to whine later.

[Pie chart shows the reasons that people didn’t vote in the 2008 US election. “Too busy” counted for 17.6%. 18.4% had some ‘other reason’, didn’t know or refused. And 26.4% were ‘not interested’ or did not like the candidates. Only 6% had registration problems, and 2.6% forgot. Don’t forget.]


Monday, May 8 ~ BC. This final day of the BC election campaign saw BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver campaigning on Vancouver Island. Both of those parties hope to pick up seats from what has for a long time been an NDP stronghold.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan was taking the same tack, over on the mainland where he’s working to see the NDP grab seats in Surrey, Richmond and Delta. NDP ground-teams were out and about on Vancouver Island, taking voting reminder cards door to door.

This evening, Christy Clark will be joined by BC Liberal Fraser Valley candidates Simon Gibson, Darryl Plecas, Mike de Jong, John Martin, Laurie Throness, Mary Polak and Rich Coleman for a rally in Abbotsford.

To achieve a majority, one party will need to win at least 44 seats. There are 87 ridings in BC. A minority government could be formed by either major party (BC Liberal or BC NDP) that achieves fewer than 44 votes but can convince the Lieutenant Governor that they have the confidence of the House. That would likely mean the support of Andrew Weaver and the BC Greens.

Voting in the 41st BC General Election on May 9 will be open 8am to 8pm at all Voting Places throughout the province.


Monday, May 8 ~ BC. Full results are in from the six days of Advance Voting in the BC provincial election. During those Advance Voting days, 614,389 registered voters cast their ballots, as reported by Elections BC. That’s a turnout of 19.46% (round up to 19.5%) — almost double the advance turnout seen in 2013.

Advance voting for this 2017 Provincial Election was held April 29 & 30, plus May 3 to 6, throughout BC. The full BC General Election is tomorrow on Tuesday, May 9.

Drilling down into action on this west side of Vancouver Island:

  • The advance voter turnout was 29.3% of registered voters in Esquimalt-Metchosin; in that riding BC Liberal candidate Barb Desjardins has name-factor recognition, up against the ground-game power of the BC NDP behind their candidate Mitzi Dean. The Greens are running a strong candidate in Andy MacKinnon.
  • The turnout was 24.3% in Langford-Juan de Fuca where the incumbent is BC NDP Leader John Horgan. The BC Liberals are running a tough race against Horgan, trying to unseat the NDP party leader in his own riding; fronting that is BC Liberal candidate Cathy Noel. Also getting definitive local support — especially in the Sooke end of the riding — is BC Green Party Brendan Ralfs.

Leaders: The 24.3% advance vote draw in BC NDP Leader John Horgan’s riding (Langford-Juan de Fuca) was stronger than the 19% turnout in BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark’s riding of Kelowna West. Advance voter turnout was 24.7% in Andrew Weaver’s riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

Some other ridings to watch:

  • On the mainland: In Vancouver-Point Grey where high-profile NDP candidate David Eby is running in Christy Clark’s previous riding, the advance turnout was almost 26%. In Kamloops-South Thompson where incumbent Todd Stone (Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure under Christy Clark) the advance turnout was just 16.8%.  In Vancouver-Mount Pleasant where incumbent Melanie Mark (BC’s first First Nations MLA) is running for the NDP, the advance turnout was 16.9%.
  • On Vancouver Island: Turnout was 26.7% in Saanich North and the Islands where one of the tightest three-way races is taking place (in 2013 it was in fact the tightest race in all of BC election records); Green Party candidate Adam Olsen is running there against NDP incumbent Gary Holman, with Stephen Roberts edging in for the BC Liberals. In Courtenay-Comox the turnout was high at almost 27%.  The Comox Valley riding has been held by the BC Liberals since 2001, but Don McRae, the MLA since 2009, is not running for re-election, instead the Liberal candidate is Jim Benninger a former base commander at Canadian Forces Base Comox. The Greens are running Ernie Sellentin who operates an environmental restoration company. The NDP are running 3-term Courtenay city councillor Ronna-Rae Leonard. The Conservative candidate is Leah McCulloch, who has worked in health care.

Getting out to vote: So with that 19.5% advance turnout last week, still now 80.5% of registered voters could still make their way to the polls on General Election Day, May 9. Will that include you?  Take along your Voter ID card. Or if you don’t have that card, be sure to take along two pieces of ID (with at least one showing your current home address).


Monday, May 8 ~ BC.  EDITORIAL.  Still undecided? Here’s a flavour of the current BC Government that a lot of people don’t see, but it indicates how people have been treated in this province by their own government.

People who pay their MSP premiums through payroll won’t see this, lucky you. But others who pay direct to the BC Government for their health care, will know… if you fall behind, you get the squeeze. Ending up in the worst of cases with a lien on your property, or action through your bank. Not seeing the reasons why people fall behind, and helping them back out with a fair economy… that’s the underlying problem.

In every other province in Canada the provision of health care is not handled in such a punitive manner. Payment for health care in other jurisdictions is done through the income tax system, in many provinces based on a sliding scale of ability to pay.

The BC NDP have a grasp on the punitive collection system of the privatized government of the past 16 years.

We’re not coming out with a full endorsement of any one party, but if you’re a single-issue voter, use this issue as your reason to back the BC NDP with your vote on May 9.


And this is where it all ends up … at voting stations across the province.

Sunday, May 7 ~ BC. With only two days left for active campaigning in this 41st BC General Election, party leaders are out and about in strategic areas for their goals.

BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark will be in Surrey and Maple Ridge today, promoting jobs. One of her appearances will be at a construction site.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan will be in battleground ridings in Vancouver, Coquitlam and Delta today. And likely the Lower Mainland tomorrow as well, says their campaign team.  He’ll also be holding an evening Facebook Live event tomorrow (Monday May 8) from Delta North. The BC NDP captured the entire front page of the Times-Colonist newspaper on Saturday May 6, with a full page ad, pitching for not another four years of Christy Clark.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver will be on the mainland today in New Westminster, Creston and Nelson. One of the events will include another appearance with David Suzuki. On Monday, Weaver will be in Victoria, his home base. The BC Greens captured the entire front page of the Times-Colonist newspaper today Sunday May 7, with a full page ad asking people to read the Green Party platform.

Advance voting has been robust throughout BC over six available days, particularly in hotly contested ridings. Monday May 8 is the last active day of campaigning. The election is on Tuesday May 9. www.elections.bc.ca


BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver works the crowd at a Green Rally in downtown Victoria, May 6 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, May 6 ~ VICTORIA.  BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver (incumbent, Oak Bay-Gordon Head) didn’t really have to work the room at a Green Party rally tonight in Victoria at the Ocean Pointe Resort.  The room already had his back.

But for someone who says that politics is not his career choice, he has clearly learned the key moves. Humble introduction, rousing speech, thank-yous to people in the room.

Weaver was preceded to the podium by several other speakers including candidates Adam Olsen (Saanich North and the Islands), Sonia Furstenau (Cowichan Valley), Brendan Ralfs (Langford-Juan de Fuca), Kalen Harris (Victoria-Beacon Hill), and Chris Maxwell (Victoria-Swan Lake). Weaver’s speaking style is polished and relaxed at this point in the 28-day campaign with only two more days remaining to be out persuading voters to tip the desire for change to the direction of Green.

About 400 people filled the room for the Facebook-live event.  Compared to other political rallies, this one was calm, with keen committed supporters who didn’t need wooing but didn’t mind it either. If the energy of a room can be described as clean and fresh, this crowd really did exude that.

Weaver told the crowd that support for the Greens “has been overwhelming in every town… I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he pitched.  “People love the Green Party because they’re so sick of the status quo.” He repeated the campaign theme that the Green Party platform is “grounded in evidence”.

While self-professed as quite new to politics, the most eloquent speech of the evening was delivered by candidate Brenda Ralfs (Langford-Juan de Fuca). After getting past the obligatory ‘rah rah’ stuff at the start of his speech, he obviously didn’t need notes. He described his background as a forest firefighter in BC as a backdrop to saying that BC’s natural areas are” not just beautiful, they’re sublime”. That natural wilderness interface for Ralfs created in him a “fierce desire to protect our home”.

BC Green Party candidate Brendan Ralfs (Langford-Juan de Fuca) at rally in Victoria May 6. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Ralfs has quickly learned to justify his move into politics. When he first signed up, some of his friends told him “we didn’t know you were a politician!”  Ralfs says that “politics matters in BC, and that politics can change lives”. He seems imprinted with the power to change things: “People in politics have an obligation to change lives for the better — not just for the few or the majority or many, but for all, for everyone.” To this there was a rousing cheer and more waving of Green Party signs throughout the comfortably carpeted ballroom.

“People are exhausted with politics in BC being divided and divisive,” said Ralfs, proposing to conclude that voters, therefore, have only a single choice, and that’s Green.

Adam Olsen, who was the interim leader of the party before Weaver stepped into that role as the only Green MLA in the BC Legislature after his win in 2013, said a few words too. He congratulated candidates for running “good clean local campaigns”.  He was wearing a jersey with the number 17 on it, to help nudge along a victory in 2017. “It’s an honour to walk alongside Andrew Weaver,” said Olsen.

The rally set for 6 pm had finally gotten underway around 6:40 pm (after people found parking once the hotel parking lot was full), and wrapped up just before 8pm on a bright spring evening. And the rain had stopped.

Mallard in flight after Green rally in Victoria, May 6 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Weaver proposes that at least a handful of Greens will make it to the BC Legislature after the 41st BC Provincial Election on May 9, which he says will make a big difference for the people of BC. He’s spending Sunday and Monday in a few more towns, including one more visit to the Vancouver area and wrapping up on Monday in Victoria.

And so if you believe that life imitates art, check this out: a lone mallard duck (with a green head) was sitting outside the hotel after the rally, looking at the Green Party bus that was already revving up its engine to take Weaver to the next stop. Then the mallard took flight. [Photo by West Shore Voice News]

The rally was broadcast on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/BCGreens/videos/10158698505335215/


 

Friday, May 5 ~ BC.  In these last few days ahead of the May 9 general election, leaders of the three main parties are busy paying attention to any yet-unvisited sectors of their target voter base as well as visiting or re-visiting the ridings with tight races. And of course, finding precious-little time to romance the converted and keep them on track.

While every election is important, this one does plant BC at the precipice of a number of critical socioeconomic and environmental realities that require effective solutions.
The role of principled media during an election in an active democracy is to provide key insights from within the information overload, so that voters may be assisted in their voting choices.

We hereby present some thoughts about how things might work out, depending on which way you vote in the BC provincial election on May 9. Our three-part editorial starts with coverage on page 1, then splits out on page 2 this way:

  • The BC Liberals have been in power for 16 years now. / …
  • The BC NDP collective has been thirsting for ‘the top job’ for over 16 years now. / …
  • The BC Green Party has — until now — been one and the same as the face of their party leader and standalone MLA Andrew Weaver. / …

Read the full coverage in the May 5, 2017 “Election Eve Edition” of West Shore Voice News.


Friday, May 5 ~ BC. This is the last weekend of BC election campaigning, coming up May 6 and 7. Then on Monday, May 8 will be the last day of campaigning before the BC General Election on May 9.

Details on how to vote in the Advance Voting today and Saturday (May 5 & 6), and on election day May 9, are at: www.elections.bc.ca and locally on the EVENTS page of this website.

The Langford-Juan de Fuca race is one to watch, where BC NDP Party Leader John Horgan is the incumbent. The slate in that riding is: John Horgan (BC NDP Party Leader & incumbent); Cathy Noel (BC Liberal); Brendan Ralfs (BC Green); Willie Nelson (Vancouver Island Party); and Scott Burton (Libertarian). The area includes Highlands, Langford, Sooke and the Juan de Fuca area up to Port Renfrew. It’s the fast-growing area of BC (only Surrey on the mainland is growing faster), encompassing urban and rural.

The Esquimalt-Metchosin race is one to watch, this time without its long-time NDP incumbent and now a high-profile BC Liberal candidate. The slate in that riding is: Mitzi Dean (NDP); Barb Desjardins (BC Liberal); Andy MacKinnon (BC Green); Josh Steffler (Libertarian); Tyson Strandlund (Communist Party); and Delmar Martay (independent). The area has key transportation issues, as the area provides both employment and ‘bedroom community’ as well as rural lifestyles.


Government House Photo:
[Sept 2016 ~ West Shore Voice News]

Friday, May 5 ~ VICTORIA. Government House will be hosting its monthly public tours on Saturday, May 6 in celebration of Neighbour Day which, this year in Greater Victoria, is being celebrated on Sunday, May 7, 2017.

Neighbour Day is an opportunity to meet and greet the people with whom we share our neighbourhood, fences, and walls. It’s an invitation to meet your neighbours, be creative and bring neighbours together to deepen connections and strengthen neighbourhoods, lend a helping hand, or host a neighbourhood event.

“Anything goes, as long as it involves you and the people in your building or on your street,” it was stated in a news release from the Lieutenant Governor’s office today.

The one-hour public tours on May 6 at Government House (1401 Rockland Ave) will start at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Free admission, no registration required.  There is a maximum capacity of 100 people per tour, first-come, first-served basis.


Thursday, May 4 ~ BC.  BC Ferries is offering savings on over 1,600 select early morning and late evening sailings on routes between Metro Vancouver – Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver – Sunshine Coast all summer long.  The “Sunrise and Sunset Savings” promotion runs from May 18 to September 15, during which time the passenger vehicle and driver fares will be offered at $39, $49 and $59 on select sailings between Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen – Duke Point, Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay and at $39 return-trip between Horseshoe Bay – Langdale.

The idea is to provide discounts on less crowded sailings, and gives customers a choice of fare price if they have flexibility with the time-of-day they choose to travel. “With more traffic moving to less busy sailings, we make more space available for other customers during the rest of the day,” says said Janet Carson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Marketing and Travel Services.

Space on the selected sailings is on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations will guarantee a spot on one of the reduced-price select sailings. Reservations are $10 if booked seven days or more in advance.  www.bcferries.com


BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver with environmental activist David Suzuki, last month at a rally.

Wednesday May 3 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND.  “Today, I am officially endorsing Andrew Weaver and the BC Green Party for the May 9 provincial election,” says David Suzuki.

“I have never endorsed a political party before and I never expected to. But the need for real change in BC is so great, I have decided I must do everything I can to help elect the party that represents the right kind of change.” He goes on to say that only the Green are “speaking to the greatest issues of our time with solutions that are practical and evidence-based”.

“The economy and environment are inextricably linked, and only the BC Green Party has taken that seriously,” said Suzuki in a statement to media. “Their platform is a real vision for the health and well-being of British Columbians, from education to housing affordability to the environment.”

BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver together with David Suzuki and Sonia Furstenau (BC Green candidate for Cowichan Valley), will be hosting a campaign event tonight May 3. Doors open 6 pm, program 7 to 9 pm at S’amuna’ Big House, 5589 Club Road in Duncan.

Weaver was already a leading climate scientist when he was recruited in 2007 by then-BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell to provide advice on a climate action plan. In the 2009 provincial election the Opposition NDP promised to “axe” the carbon tax, but lost the election. The carbon tax survived.

BC Liberal premier Christy Clark has professed support for climate action and the carbon tax but her energies have gone into developing a new industry based on the export of liquefied natural gas.

Polished as a status-quo disruptor, in a rally mid-April with Weaver, environmental activist David Suzuki pitched for Greens to become a “dominant force” in provincial politics.


Wednesday, May 3.  As advance voting in the BC Election gets underway again today (May 3 to 6, 8am to 8 pm in all ridings), we can take a look at trends from the first round of advance voting on the weekend of April 29 & 30.

On this west side of Vancouver Island:

  • Esquimalt-Metchosin brought in 4,226 votes last weekend (2,428 on Saturday and 1,798 on Sunday) out of a total number of 37,692 registered voters. That’s 11.2% of voters. Candidates in that riding are Mitzi Dean (BC NDP), Barb Desjardins (BC Liberal), Andy MacKinnon (BC Green), Josh Steffler (Libertarian), and Delmar Martay (independent).
  • Langford-Juan de Fuca saw 3,722 votes last weekend (2,087 on Saturday and 1,635 on Sunday), out of a total of 39,176 registered voters. That’s a 9.5% advance poll turnout. Candidates in that riding are BC NDP Leader John Horgan, incumbent (NDP), Cathy Noel (BC Liberal), Brendan Ralfs (BC Green), and Willie Nelson (Vancouver Island Party).

The highest turnout on Vancouver Island April 29 & 30 was in Courtenay-Comox with 4,260 votes cast, Esquimalt-Metchosin came in a close second with 4,226; Parksville-Qualicum saw 4,018; Victoria-Beacon hill logged in with 3,773 votes and Langford-Juan de Fuca came in fifth with 3,722.

On the mainland, Vancouver-Fairview delivered 4,106 votes, Penticton delivered 4,029 advance votes, Vancouver-West End saw 4,007 votes cast, and Vancouver-Point Grey (where the NDP’s David Eby beat out Christy Clark in the 2013 election) logged in with 3,787 votes.

This is the first time that voting has been available on a Sunday, and in many ridings the turnout was strong on April 30, in some cases with most votes cast than on the Saturday. Most of the polling stations were open on those first two days; on the west shore only Gordon United Church (in the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding) wasn’t available due to the Sunday factor.

It would seem that the ridings where party leaders are running are getting voters out with relatively equal strength. Premier Clark (BC Liberal leader) is running in Kelowna West, where 3,749 advance votes were cast this past weekend. In John Horgan’s (BC NDP Leader) riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca there were 3,722 votes cast. BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver is running Oak Bay-Gordon Head where 3,264 advance votes were cast April 29-30.

Advance voting results will be updated daily during this May 3 to 6 advance voting period.

All advance votes will be counted on the night of the general election Tuesday May 9. Any advance votes that are cast over the 28-day campaign at District Electoral Offices will be counted on May 22 in the home ridings for those votes. Final vote results will be provided by Elections BC on May 23.


Wednesday, May 3 ~ NATIONAL.  Today May 3 is World Press Freedom Day“On World Press Freedom Day, I call for an end to all crackdowns against journalists – because a free press advances peace and justice for all,” says António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General..

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

It is an opportunity to:

  • celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
  • assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
  • defend the media from attacks on their independence;
  • and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued this statement today: “Every year, on May 3rd, we celebrate the fundamental principle of freedom of the press, and the important role journalists play in promoting democracy around the world. On this day, we take a hard look at the current state of press freedom, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the pursuit of truth.

“The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is ‘Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies.’ It reminds us that peace, justice and inclusiveness are foundational values for any society that empowers individual citizens and promotes government transparency and accountability.

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – now in its 35th year – established the freedom of the press as a fundamental freedom. Journalists start conversations, shine light on stories that would otherwise not be told, and give Canadians the facts they need to engage in public debate and shape events around them. A free and open press is crucial to an informed and engaged citizenry, which is at the heart of a healthy democracy.

“While journalistic freedom is widely recognized and respected in Canada, we cannot ignore the censorship, intimidation, false arrests and violence that many journalists face in other parts of the world. These acts give rise to fear and self-censorship, stifle societies, and undermine the right to freedom of expression. Canada will continue working to promote a vibrant and free press here and abroad.

“Today, we recognize the many journalists who seek out the truth, challenge assumptions and expose injustices, often at great personal risk. They are the cornerstones of any strong and healthy democracy, informing and challenging us all to think more critically about the world around us.”


 

Wednesday, May 3 ~ BC. Petronas subsidiary failed to get regulatory approval before building at least 16 large dams in BC to trap freshwater for fracking operations, a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) investigation reveals.

A subsidiary of Malaysian state-owned Petronas, the company behind a massive Liquefied Natural Gas plant proposal near Prince Rupert, has built at least 16 large unauthorized dams in northeast BC to trap water used for fracking operations, the CCPA has learned.

Two of the dams built by Petronas subsidiary Progress Energy are higher than five-story apartment buildings, which means they qualified as “reviewable” projects by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and should have been assessed by that office prior to any construction taking place.

The EAO was apparently never contacted before the dams were built and is only now investigating, five years after construction began. In 13 additional cases, Progress/Petronas has applied retroactively for water licenses and dam approvals for structures already built, which must now be vetted by BC’s Oil and Gas Commission (OGC). In yet another case, a dam built by Progress was ordered dewatered last year after the OGC concluded the structure, upstream from a gas processing facility, could fail.

The dams are part of a wider network of structures built by fossil fuel companies that may number in the “dozens,” according to information a senior provincial dam safety official provided to the CCPA. The province’s former comptroller of water rights told the CCPA the number of large unpermitted dams is likely more than 100.

These revelations prompted CCPA resource policy analyst Ben Parfitt to undertake a special investigation, including visiting one of the dams. His expose reveals a troubling breakdown of the regulatory system meant to oversee water usage and the energy sector in BC.

“The sheer number of these structures is troubling,” says Parfitt. “The companies did not submit engineering designs to provincial dam safety officials before building them. One dam has already shown signs of failing and was shut down. How many more unsafe structures are out there? And how much environmental harm are all these structures causing?”

Parfitt says the risk of dam failures may be increased considerably because the dams are purposely located near where companies drill and frack for natural gas. In 2015, Progress Energy triggered a 4.6 magnitude earthquake felt 180 kilometres away when it pressure-pumped 160,000 cubic metres of water below ground in a fracking operation.

The CCPA has learned that dam safety officials with the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) have known of problems for months, as have investigators with the EAO’s office and the OGC, but these officials do not appear to have issued any public news releases or advisories on the extent of the situation. The CCPA began investigating the problem in March after receiving a tip.
First Nations in the region most impacted by the dams do not appear to have been properly consulted.

“There appears to be a major breakdown by government in protecting public health and safety and the environment,” says Parfitt.

The CCPA is calling on the Province to address a number of questions including:
• How widespread is the construction of dams by energy companies?
• Which companies have built unauthorized dams?
• Where are these dams, and how large are they?
• Which dams are now under retroactive review by the Environmental Assessment Office and/or the Oil and Gas Commission?
• How many of these dams have been ordered decommissioned due to safety concerns?
• Why have these reviews and investigations not been made more public?
• Have any fines or penalties been levied to date? If not, why not?
• Which government ministries and agencies became aware of these structures, and when?
• How is it possible that so many unauthorized dams could be constructed without earlier intervention by the relevant authorities?

This investigation was undertaken as part of the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP). The CMP is a six-year research and public engagement initiative jointly led by the University of Victoria, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ BC and Saskatchewan Offices, and the Alberta-based Parkland Institute. This research was supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Longer report: http://www.policynote.ca/a-dam-big-problem-regulatory-breakdown-as-fracking-companies-in-bcs-northeast-build-dozens-of-unauthorized-dams/ 


Tuesday, May 2 ~ LANGFORD. Two custom bus services launched by the City of Langford have been cancelled.

Soon to go is the in-town trolley that has been servicing local shoppers and residents in the commercial areas of Langford since 2007. BC Transit services to and around the Langford area have improved over the years (apparently up 76%), so the trolley is no longer needed.

Also wrapping up (as of June 30) is the Langtoria Greenline bus, launched last fall to help ease commuter traffic round trip between Langford and Victoria. Low ridership was the main reason there. People still like travelling in their own cars despite the time in commuter traffic and the cost of parking in Victoria. Some of those who have used the Langtoria bus service may now carpool.

The idea for the Greenline came up when construction of the McKenzie-Admirals Road Interchange was announced, with the advent of even more traffic slowdowns during the construction period. Operated by Wilson’s Transportation, it has been following a route that stops at 21 spots in the West Shore.

Langford Mayor Stew Young says he will now push for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on Hwy 1 that would also accommodate buses, and continue to work with the province on getting to yes with transportation options along the E&N Rail corridor.


Tuesday, May 2 ~ LANGFORD. Two custom bus services launched by the City of Langford have been cancelled.

Soon to go is the in-town trolley that has been servicing local shoppers and residents in the commercial areas since 2007. BC Transit services have over the years improved in Langford, so the trolley is no longer needed.

Also wrapping up is the Langtoria Greenline bus (as of June 30), launched last fall to help ease commuter traffic round trip between Langford and Victoria. Low ridership was the main reason there. People still like travelling in their own cars despite the time in commuter traffic and the cost of parking in Victoria.

The idea for the Greenline came up when construction of the McKenzie-Admirals Road Interchange was announced, with the advent of even more traffic slowdowns during the construction period.


Tuesday, May 2 ~ WEST SIDE of Vancouver Island. Advance voting starts up again in the morning throughout BC! Advance voting Places will be open 8 am to 8 pm for the next four days: May 3, 4, 5 and 6.

On the west side of Vancouver Island:

  • Advance Voting is available in Langford at Belmont Secondary School, Four Points Sheraton, and Gordon United Church.
  • Advance Voting places in Sooke are at SEAPARC Leisure Complex and Sooke Community Hall.
  • Advance Voting for Esquimalt-Metchosin is at Colwood Pentecostal Church, Esquimalt United Church, Metchosin Community Hall, Songhees Wellness Centre, View Royal Town Hall, and West Shore Parks & Rec.

Ballots cast during Advance Voting will be counted on election night, after the main ballot boxes are counted on general election night May 9.

In this 2017 election, Elections BC has been promoting “you have 28 days to vote”, without vigorously clarifying that votes cast at District Electoral Offices that are open daily for 28 days will be counted in their home ridings (on May 22) after the paper ballots are distributed to the 87 ridings around the province.

However, if you can’t make it to an Advance Voting Station during May 3-6, these DEO offices make it convenient to vote on May 7 and 8 (as well as on election day May 9):

  • District Electoral Office for Langford-Juan de Fuca is at 111-2787 Jacklin Road in Langford. Inquiries: 250-952-5014.
  • District Electoral Office for Esquimalt-Metchosin is at 3-1905 Sooke Road in Colwood. Inquiries: 250-952-4408.

Tuesday, May 2 ~ BC.  Where you vote does count, for timing! Ballots cast at Advance Voting stations (April 29 & 30; May 3 to 6) will be counted on election night, after the main ballot boxes are counted, toward the May 9 general election night tally and results.

However, any votes cast at the District Electoral Office (one central office for each riding) will get counted on May 22, toward a final vote announcement on May 23.

In this 2017 election, Elections BC has been promoting “you have 28 days to vote”, without clarifying that votes cast at District Electoral Offices that are open daily for 28 days will be counted in their home ridings after the paper ballots are distributed to the 87 ridings around the province.


 

Monday, May 1 ~ South Vancouver Island. Additional tech-related seats for the University of Victoria, Camosun College and Vancouver Island University were announced today. The goals is “to develop home grown talent to help British Columbia continue to be a leader in the innovation economy”, as announced by BC Liberal candidates David Calder, Alex Dutton and Paris Gaudet.

The BC Liberals say they have made a commitment to increase the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) graduates by 1,000 per year by 2022. UVic will receive 80 new seats and both Camosun College and VIU will receive 30 to contribute to that goal.


BC Liberal candidate Barb Desjardins (Esquimalt-Metchosin) at a business mixer in the west shore April 24. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, May 1 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. The BC Liberals today have said that the Capital Regional District (CRD) governance model needs modernizing to ensure decisions are being made effectively, residents are getting the services and accountability they deserve, and in the most efficient manner possible. The statement cam  from Barb Desjardins, BC Liberal candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin.

In the BC Liberals Island Platform, they are stating a commitment to a full review of Capital Regional District governance – and working with any community that is in support of possible service integration and amalgamation.

“The model hasn’t been reviewed in decades, and it doesn’t reflect how the region delivers services today, or the associated challenges in delivering those services in the most effective manner,” said Desjardins, a three-term Esquimalt Mayor and past CRD chair.

“One practical example is housing development – an issue that I hear about from builders and the general public. Under the current governance structure, each municipality within the CRD has its own development charges, each interprets the building code differently, and the time it takes to move an application through each municipality differs. As a result, there is no consistency for builders, it means additional costs, and those costs are ultimately borne by the home purchaser or renter.”

“The other reality is that we have communities on the West Shore that have different needs than those in Victoria and the current structure doesn’t always recognize those views or needs – because of the CRD model,” Desjardins said in a release.

In an interview with West Shore Voice News today, Desjardins said that the small business sector grows in a municipality that has good governance. She cited the City of Langford as a good example.

The BC Liberals say they’re been clear that any community not wishing to participate in amalgamation or other governance changes will not be forced to participate.


 

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