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Amazon headquarters in Seattle.

Saturday, September 23 ~ LANGFORD.  If you don’t try, you’ll never know. The City of Langford with its go-after-it can-do attitude and team approach has assembled a bid to attract Amazon to the west shore of Vancouver Island.

They’re responding to a tender put out by Amazon on September 7 for a location at which the online retailer can set up their second North American headquarters (HQ2 for short). HQ2 would be a full equal to the company’s main headquarters in Seattle, WA said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in a statement earlier this month.

After their October 19 deadline, Amazon will be seeing Langford’s pitch in front of them along with at least 50 bids from major cities across North America (likely including, in Canada, these — Ottawa, Calgary, London, Edmonton, Toronto).

If nothing else, it’s good international exposure for Langford, but Langford Mayor Stew Young and senior staff are optimistic.

“We have great transportation routes, an international airport and seaplanes,” said Mayor Young this week. Of course, the $5 billion that the online retailer would spend to build HQ2 would be the first great part of Amazon putting down roots in Langford.

Amazon HQ2 would eventually employ up to 50,000 people full time over a 10-year period. In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 would create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.

City of Langford Mayor Stew Young [West Shore Voice News photo]

Langford offers an already established commercial hub within the west side of the island lifestyle, similar to the laidback lifestyle that Amazon offers their employees. Here the perks would be lots of indoor and outdoor recreation, modern digital services, universities and colleges, and relative housing affordability. And more… including locally three lakes that Langford has in within its boundaries plus nearby hiking, fishing and trails along the west coast.

As well, being in Canada would offer the US company a cheaper dollar as well as trade agreements into Europe and Asia that are separate from NAFTA, which is probably why the Request for Proposal (RFP) was not limited to American cities.

Stew Young was approached by the business community to give this bid a shot, even though the Amazon RFP states the need for a base population of 1 million people. Greater Victoria is about 370,000 people, but the extended region could be seen to include adjacent regions of Vancouver Island, and by ferry-extension, the lower mainland.

In the last few years Langford’s population has surpassed 40,000 and the development community keeps on building houses, townhomes, condos and rental apartments to help Langford try and keep up to housing demand.

Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle is comprised of 33 buildings, in total about 8.1 million sqft. That includes 24 restaurants/cafes and eight other services. Their capital investment in buildings and infrastructure was $3.7 billion. Operational expenditures are $1.4 billion (utilities/maintenance). Employee payroll is about $25.7 billion/yr. About $43 million is paid into Seattle’s transportation system. In 2016 about 233,000 hotel nights were booked by visiting Amazonians and guests.

Amazon estimates its investments in Seattle resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy (2010-2016) – every dollar invested by Amazon generated an additional 1.4 dollars for the city’s economy overall.

Naturally there is buzz in cities across North America to throw their hats into this enormous ring. Some financial critics say the magnitude of the project could overwhelm a city or region that is not prepared to handle it. On the other hand, it’s an opportunity that likely comes once in a city’s lifetime.

The closing date for the RFP is right around the corner. The entire tech industry and community of municipalities in Canada and the US are keen to see how this one plays out.

This article was first published in the Print/PDF September 22, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

Wednesday, September 20 ~ BC. VICTORIA – The Government of British Columbia has introduced legislation to put an end to big money in politics and put people back at the heart of government decision-making. Premier John Horgan made the announcement yesterday.

And while it fulfills a campaign promise toward fairness in the electoral system, there’s a catch. This fiscal year it will cost the taxpayers big bucks to fund the transition, with a dwindling effect over five years to 2022.

“We’re reforming campaign finance rules to make sure government’s actions and decisions benefit everyone, not just those with deep pockets,” said Premier John Horgan yesterday in a news conference and news release.

“This legislation will make sure 2017 was the last big-money election in our province,” said Attorney General David Eby. “The days of limitless donations, a lack of transparency and foreign and corporate influence over our elections are history.”

The Election Amendment Act, 2017, will:
* End corporate and union donations
* Limit individual contributions to $1,200 a year, the second-lowest limit in Canada; fundraisers at private residences will have an imposed cap of $100 per person.
* Ban out-of-province donations
* Cap contributions to third-party election advertisers
* Require ongoing public reporting of all fundraisers attended by major party leaders, cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries, including those held in private residences
* Reduce campaign spending limits for candidates and political parties by about 25%
* Set new fines and penalties for contraventions of election financing and advertising laws

“These unprecedented changes will not only end the ‘wild west’ of campaign fundraising, they are an important step in modernizing our democracy,” Eby said.

The bill contains several transitional provisions, including restrictions on the use of contributions received before the legislation comes into force. Political contributions previously collected that are not allowed under the new rules – including prior donations from unions and corporations or funds collected from a person in excess of $1,200 – cannot be used in future elections.

The Election Amendment Act, 2017, introduces a transitional annual allowance for political parties over a set term of five years. The allowance diminishes in value over time and is intended to help political parties transition to the new campaign finance rules. A special committee of the legislature will review the allowance to determine if it should be continued. If no action is taken, the allowance will expire in 2022.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver had this to say about it:  “This is a historic day for our province’s democracy. Big money has been the defining feature of what is broken in BC politics. Now, one year after BC Greens banned corporate and union donations to our own party, we will ban it province-wide once and for all. I am delighted that 2017 will go down in history as the last big money election in BC.” He insisted that this is not an extraordinary move, in that the federal government funds political parties the same way.

Weaver thanked David Eby and his office for their diligent work bringing this bill forward so early in the session. “In the days and weeks ahead, we will work with the government to ensure that this legislation is comprehensive and adequately addresses the issues with the current system.”

Over the next four years, taxpayers will foot a bill of $6.8 million for the B.C. NDP and the B.C. Liberal parties. The Green Party will be allotted $2.8 million over the same four year period.

The BC Liberals had long refused to limit political donations despite repeated criticism of the party’s fundraising practices, including cash-for-access events in which donors paid up to $10,000 for a chance to sit down with the premier.


 

Wednesday, September 20 ~ NATIONAL. The Angus Reid institute says that Canadian entrepreneurs are divided over the fairness and impacts of proposed federal small business tax changes.

“As Prime Minister Trudeau’s government doubles down on plans to change the way Canadian small business owners are taxed, entrepreneurs themselves are divided on the potential impacts of two of the most significant amendments – a divide driven largely by the size of their own ventures, and the amount of risk their businesses are carrying,” says an Angus Reid Report today based on their latest public opinion survey.

Both entrepreneurs and Canadians who don’t own businesses were surveyed. The results apparently show neither blind support for the government’s so-called “tax fairness” agenda, nor blanket outrage suggested by the fiercest opponents of proposed changes. “Small business owners do not react in a monolithic way to the amendments,” says the report.

Regarding proposed alterations to income sprinkling, the survey showed that 24% feel it will negatively affect their business and 44% said it would be unfair. When it comes to changes dealing with passive investment income, the perceived negative impact among business owners is higher at 42%, as is the view the changes are unfair (55%).

Overall, Canadians are evenly divided as to whether the changes will make the tax system fairer or harm business investment, with small businesses not surprisingly lean toward the harm factor.

See the editorial “On this one, Trudeau has it all wrong” in West Shore Voice News – September 8, 2017 issue (page 2), for further analysis on why the Trudeau government might want to cancel these proposed changes.


 

Saturday, September 9 ~ NATIONAL.  BUSINESS EDITORIAL. On this one, Trudeau has it wrong.

For the most part, Justin Trudeau as Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister has pulled this country forward in many admirable and respectable ways. He helped out thousands of refugees, set leadership for gender equity, brought youth into the political loop, has bridged relations with Trump and the USA well enough so far, and is standing firm on a broader goal to peace regarding North Korea.

However, when it comes to truly understanding the impact of proposed tax revisions for small business in Canada, Trudeau and finance minister Bill Morneau are completely off base.

It’s simply just not accurate, shows poor observational skills and short-sighted analysis to lump all smaller-than-the-largest corporations under one umbrella. And then essentially assume that most of them are up to no good.

Accountants will tell you they’re seeing more scrutiny already against small businesses, and that’s even before the tax legislation has been changed. This is the Liberal strategy to ‘take from the rich and give to the poor (middle class)’.

But what they don’t seem to get is that there is really no firm middle class any more — everybody is a worker. What vestiges of a middle class that remain will meet their deathknell by way of these proposed spirit-crushing tax strategies.

Trudeau says tax changes are aimed at ensuring wealthy Canadians pay their fair share. But these are in many cases not ‘wealthy’ people, just people who work hard at their game to achieve a good living. Affected by the proposed new legislation (which seems to be barreling ahead) will be such a range of small businesses that no one will be unaffected. Professionals like doctors will be impacted, as well as your car repair shop, your web designer, your fitness trainer… anybody who runs their own enterprise, particularly if they are incorporated.

Not only does this shrivel up the last remaining hopes of starry-eyed entrepreneurs and the self-employed, it will have a trickle-down effect into the rate of hiring and the cost of services. Small businesses generate most of the new jobs. And nowadays not many people are much above keeping their heads above water in a paycheque-to-paycheque/fixed-income economy, additionally burdened by two Bank of Canada interest-rate increases in recent months.

Small businesses incorporate for various reasons, not the least of which is to create an arms-length relationship between owner and enterprise (which is healthy). If going after the incorporated small business owner as the key source for shoring up federal coffers to pay for other programs, they are shaving away the success of some of the country’s hardest-working, most devoted citizens whose talents and enterprise create jobs and prosperity for those around them. Leveling the playing field between proprietors and wage earners shows a deep unawareness of or disregard for the level of risk and often self-imposed responsibility that proprietors take compared to wage-earners. One could also say it’s a bit of divide-and-conquer, by pitting the ‘working class’ against those ‘nasty’ so-called ‘wealthy’ folks who on the surface generate more income, but at the end of the day are often left with a similar take-home pay and more incorporation-related overhead to pay.

The proposed tax changes would undo tax incentives that middle-class entrepreneurs have relied on for decades to fund their retirements, retain cash in their companies to tide them over in leaner times, provide for their families, and protect their businesses if they choose maternity or become ill. Small businesses don’t have pension plans or sick leave like salaried employees do. In many ways they live on the edge, with nothing or no one to bail them out if they falter. And yet as a society we benefit by and appreciate their services. If running one’s own business becomes nothing more than an overly-responsible job without any perks, then the proposed tax changes are a death knell to a wide cross-section of industrious, creative people who contribute a special edge and verve to the economy. It’s an unkind, unthinking blow to that high-spirited innovative drive that is almost uniquely Canadian. It’s like a targeted kill of a treasured natural resource. Odd.

As Capital Regional District (CRD) Chair Barb Desjardins put it this week: “I’m quite worried about it. I understand the direction but it’s been targeted to the wrong group of people. This will target middle income earners. It will affect small business in a significant way and will be problematic. They aren’t the people you want to hurt.”
Write a letter to the Minister of Finance on this one, or do what you can to support the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) which has effectively articulated concerns about this for a quite a while. Even several federal Liberal MPs have publicly voiced opposition to their government’s plan on this.

If it goes through, this legislation will be a game-changer for the overall fabric of the Canadian economy that in many ways would over time become irreversible. And let’s get down to brass tacks. At the very least, Trudeau may wish to rethink the small business tax revisions in order to retain for 2019 many of the business-class votes that shifted his way in 2015.

This is a government that seems prepared in almost every instance to barrel ahead with the right to rule. And it’s tolerated, because most Canadians seem satisfied with having seen Canada advance in many ways since 2015. But in this instance, it’s time to admit a wrong turn, back up, and change direction.


 

BC Premier John Horgan accepts a handshake from BC Lt Gov Judith Guichon after she read his government’s Throne Speech, September 8 [livestream screenshot]

Friday, September 8 ~ BC. First BC NDP Throne Speech in 16 years

EDITORIAL INSIGHTS by WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS.

The tone of a Throne Speech as penned by an NDP government would of course sound different than that of the previous longstanding BC Liberal government. Listening to and supporting the people was espoused.

What was notably “21st century” for an NDP budget was a more definitive articulation of interrelationships with municipalities, industry, business and a wider range of population sectors.

The 30-minute address was delivered by Lt Gov Judith Guichon at 2pm on Friday September 8. Just a few months ago she had made the tough decision to pull the plug on the Christy Clark BC Liberals and give the NDP (with threeGreen Party MLAs in tow) a chance at leading British Columbia with a minority government.

To that point, the speech dropped something of a ‘bomb’ by announcing the next fixed election date as being in Fall 2021. That gives BC Premier John Horgan and his government a full four years to roll out their people-first policies and make them stick. Fixed-date elections would follow every four years.

The new government is also promising to deliver on Proportional Representation by setting the terms for a referendum by November 2018, in favour of reform “so that citizens can be sure that every vote counts”. Big money donations (corporate and union) will be eliminated and individual donors to political parties will have to be residents of BC.

Answering to one of the overriding NDP themes in the May 2017 election, came this: “Too many families were left behind for too long. It’s time that we made life more affordable.” Most families will be happy to hear that, but opponents will watch to see how that is accomplished with stability in the budget.

The government says it will consult with the public on various things ahead of delivering the first full budget in February 2018. Meanwhile, the Throne Speech purported some first steps toward making life more affordable such as helping renters by closing fixed term lease loopholes, and increasing support to the Residential Tenancy Branch toward fair treatment for both tenants and landlords.

A Fair Wages Commission will put BC on a path to a $15/hour minimum wage, by setting the course for stable and predictable increases over time.

Action is being taken to fix the problems at ICBC and BC Hydro, it was stated in the speech, to make sure that Crown corporations can deliver the “best possible service… at the lowest possible cost.”

A legislated poverty reduction plan will be brought in, with that work getting underway in the coming weeks.
Government says it will deliver a province-wide child care program, starting with the creation of more spaces and training more early childhood educators. Consultations with families and child care providers will be undertaken this fall.

Housing affordability was addressed with a statement about working with municipalities, cooperatives and the private sector to increase the supply of rental, social, co-op and owner-purchase homes.

The promise overall is for “relief from high costs and fees, better access to services, and an economy that works for everyone.”

Meanwhile, BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said in a news release after the Throne Speech that he is “pleased to see so many BC Green ideas included in the new blueprint for government.” He continued: “This session, we will finally see corporate and union donations banned following the lead we took a year ago in banning them from our Party. We will see lobbying reform, a BC Green initiative, which will go even further towards ending the undue influence of special interests in our politics. BC will also have an Innovation Commissioner, one of the ideas in our emerging economy platform that will help ensure BC’s long term economic prosperity.” Weaver was encouraged by increased funding for public education as one of “the best investments government can make”.

The Greens are integral to maintaining a go-forward minority government. However, Weaver explained that the Green MLAs will not always agree with everything the government does. “As with any relationship, this disagreement is healthy. All three parties share many values and goals, though we might sometimes differ on the best ways to implement them. There is much we can accomplish together if we are willing to engage in thoughtful, productive debate and to consistently put the interests of our constituents first.”


Thursday, September 7 ~ BC. Things are gearing up for an active session at the BC Legislature under the new BC NDP government.

Lt Gov Judith Guichon will open the second session of the 41st Parliament of British Columbia on Friday, September 8. She will read the speech from the throne starting at 2 pm. The speech will be viewable live at www.leg.bc.ca


 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (in Saskatoon Sept 1). CBC Photo

Sunday, September 3 ~ OTTAWA. North Korea announced this weekend that it had detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear test yet, which it declared a “perfect success.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued the following statement in response to North Korea’s latest testing of a nuclear weapon:

“Canada unequivocally condemns North Korea’s‎ nuclear test of September 3 which, combined with its aggressive program of ballistic missile testing, represents a clear and present threat to the safety and security of its neighbours and the international community.

“This most recent test, which appears to have been of a much greater magnitude than its five previous nuclear explosions, is in direct contravention of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, and‎ demonstrates once again North Korea’s flagrant disregard of international law.

“These continued provocations by North Korea’s leadership, along with their profoundly dangerous push to develop nuclear weapons and test ballistic missiles near neighbouring countries, only serve to further isolate them.

“Canada has been steadfast in insisting that North Korea abandon its current course, including its aggressive rhetoric, and asks that it resumes constructive dialogue toward a comprehensive and verifiable solution.

“We urge the UN Security Council to take further decisive action to effectively constrain North Korea’s proliferation efforts, and call on all states to fully implement relevant UN sanctions.

“We will continue to work with key regional partners – including the United States, South Korea and Japan – as well as the broader international community, to counter the North Korean threat.”


 

BC Premier John Horgan (Government of BC photo)

Sunday, September 3 ~ VICTORIA. Statement from Premier John Horgan for Labour Day (September 4):

“On Labour Day we recognize the hard-working people of British Columbia, who built this province from the ground up. 

“Labour Day is a day of rest, and an opportunity to reflect on the progress made by working people. The hard-fought victories of the labour movement over generations made life better for everyone.

“People who work hard deserve a government that works hard for them. Our government will increase the minimum wage, open the doors to apprenticeships and skills training, strengthen employment standards and create safer workplaces for all. Because building up our province starts by building up our people.

“I join you in celebrating this special day.”

On Monday, September 4, Premier John Horgan and Minister of Labour Harry Bains will be joining others, including Patty Hajdu, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, in an annual Labour Day celebration with the New Westminster and District Labour Council. Starting at 11:30 am in Holland Park, 13428 Old Yale Road, Surrey.


 

BC Labour Minister Harry Bains

Saturday, September 2 ~ OPINION-EDITORIAL. At the crux of this Labour Day: ensuring worker safety. By Harry Bains, BC Minister of Labour. 

Many forget that Labour Day is much more than an opportunity for backyard barbecues, community picnics and for some, a day off work. However, the true purpose of the holiday is a celebration of the achievements and progress of the working class.

Communities, big and small, urban or rural, depend on business and industry, not just for maintaining jobs and the tax base, but because they help define the culture and spirit of the place we call home. They rely on the bakeries, the unique gift shop, the local mechanic’s garage and community grocer that sponsor the little league team; and the large employers, the chains and franchises that invest in our cities and employ our families and neighbours. We owe much to these employers, but Labour Day is about what is also owed to the workers.

Throughout my career as a trade unionist, I have known one thing: workers want fairness. They want a level playing field for all workers. I have devoted my time to helping people gain a voice when discriminated against, when treated unfairly by the employer, when rights and freedoms are not respected. However, the biggest impact on me personally, professionally and politically was helping families find their voice after tragedy. I have stood beside loved ones mourning the loss of a family member, a husband or wife that they kissed goodbye in the morning for a day filled with promise, who never to return home because the promise of a safe workplace was broken.

Workers deserve and should demand safe working conditions. The legacy I hope to leave as the new Minister of Labour and first NDP Labour Minister in more than 16 years is to make British Columbia the safest jurisdiction in Canada for workers. We have come a long way, but more can be done and must be done!

Whether it’s ensuring safety for workers, giving workers a long overdue raise by increasing the minimum wage, or bringing back the Human Rights Commission dismantled by our predecessors, you can trust that your BC government is fighting for families on real issues, like affordability, good paying jobs and improved public services, as well as an economy that works for and is inclusive of everyone. Central to our promises this Labour Day is also our pledge to do everything we can to help reduce preventable work accidents, enforce regulations and support workers in their journey to get back to work.

On this Labour Day, join me in celebrating all that workers have done to make life better for themselves and their families.


Monday, August 28 ~ NATIONAL. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today issued the following changes to the portfolios held by various of his Cabinet minsters:

  • Carolyn Bennett, currently Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, becomes Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.
  • Jane Philpott, currently Minister of Health, becomes Minister of Indigenous Services.
  • Kent Hehr, currently Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, becomes Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.
  • Carla Qualtrough, currently Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, becomes Minister of Public Services and Procurement.
  • Ginette Petitpas Taylor, currently Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, becomes Minister of Health.
  • Seamus O’Regan, becomes Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.

Trudeau thanked retiring Minister Judy Foote for her exemplary public service and for her enduring commitment to Canada and Canadians. He also thanked Minister of Natural Resources James Carr for serving as acting Minister of Public Services and Procurement.


 

Saturday, August 26 ~ BC. No smoking on BC Ferries starting January 2018.

Giving five months notice, BC Ferries announced August 22 that as of January 22, 2018 there will be a smoke-free environment on board all their vessels and at terminals.

Last year, the Province amended regulations for no smoking buffer zones around any doorway, intake or open window to any public or workplace from three metres to six metres. Due to the physical space available from doors on the outer decks of BC Ferries’ large vessels and on the vehicle decks of smaller vessels, the new regulation means all vessels will need to become smoke-free environments. In reviewing their policy on smoking in remaining areas, BC Ferries says they have chosen to introduce a smoke-free environment on all BC Ferries properties, including vessels, terminals and other operations, to support the health and wellness of passengers and employees.

Although the health benefits of being a non-smoker are entirely clear, what this means for the remaining many smokers in BC is unclear. Going a long while without a cigarette will for some can be or seem like a hardship.

“This new policy supports the health and wellness of our customers and employees, as it helps control their exposure to second-hand smoke,” said BC Ferries President and CEO Mark Collins.

BC Ferries says they are providing advanced notice of the policy change to provide passengers and employees who smoke time to adjust to the change.

The new smoke-free policy applies to tobacco, marijuana and e-cigarettes, and is expected to reduce the number of complaints BC Ferries receives from customers related to second-hand smoke. Announcements regarding the new policy will be made on board vessels and at the terminals, and signage will be placed on board the vessels and on shore as a reminder of the new policy.

“Smoking tobacco continues to be one of the single-largest threats to the health of British Columbians and our visitors,” said Island Health’s Dr Dee Hoyano, Medical Health Officer, in a BC Ferries release this week. “By going smoke-free in its terminals and on its vessels, BC Ferries is supporting healthier, cleaner and safer environments for everyone.”

To coincide with the introduction of the new policy, BC Ferries has launched a comprehensive employee smoking cessation program. Support is also available for members of the public who wish to quit smoking, including the BC government’s Smoking Cessation Program.

http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents/what-we-cover/drug-coverage/bc-smoking-cessation-program


 

Tuesday, August 22 ~ BC. As part of a strategy to address gang violence and make communities safer, the BC government will invest $500,000 from civil forfeiture grants into anti-gang programming for youth in Surrey, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, announced today.

The funding will support the Surrey Wraparound (Wrap) program and eliminate the program’s current waitlist.

“As part of our commitment to tackle gangs and gun violence and create safer communities for people, we are delivering on our promise to increase support for Surrey Wrap by $500,000,” Farnworth said. “Wrap is a successful program that identifies at-risk youth to help keep them out of gangs in the first place. It should have stable and secure funding, not waitlists.”

Wrap is a collaborative partnership between the Surrey RCMP, the Surrey school district (SD 36) and the City of Surrey that connects youth who are at risk of joining gangs with outreach workers, teachers and police. Evaluation of the Wrap program has shown a significant decline (67%) in the negative police contacts of participants. There are currently 97 students in the program with 35 students on the waitlist. This new funding will eliminate that waitlist.


Friday, August 18 ~ BC.  The new BC NDP government is making its first move toward a $15-an-hour minimum wage by announcing a 50-cent increase for September and renewing its commitment to a fair wages commission.

In an announcement August 15, Premier John Horgan said moving over time to a $15 minimum wage is long overdue in making life more affordable for British Columbians. “British Columbia’s lowest-paid workers need a raise,” said Horgan. “The action we’re taking will make life better for working parents, seniors, new Canadians, students and more — these are people struggling to get by.”

Effective September 15, 2017, minimum-wage earners will see their pay increase to $11.35 per hour from $10.85 per hour (something already legislated under the previous BC Liberal government), giving BC the third-highest minimum wage among Canada’s provinces — up from seventh position.

“Our commitment to the $15 minimum wage will benefit almost 100,000 British Columbians who have been getting by on one of the lowest minimum wages in the country,” said Horgan, adding that 62% of minimum-wage earners are women.

Labour Minister Harry Bains said details around a fair wages commission’s composition and terms of reference will be announced in the coming weeks, but that its overarching objective is to get BC to $15 along a planned, responsible path. The commission will submit its first report within 90 days of its first meeting.

“We’ve listened to business owners, who have told us gradual, predictable increases are the way to go to minimize the impact on their businesses,” Bains said. “And they recognize that the move to a $15 minimum wage is good for retention for their businesses, and good for the BC economy.”

At the same time as the general minimum-wage increase, the liquor servers’ wage is also rising by 50 cents to $10.10 per hour. Other minimum-wage provisions in the employment standards regulation will also receive increases in line with the general minimum-wage increase of 4.6%. This includes the daily rate for live-in home support workers and live-in camp leaders, as well as the monthly rates for resident caretakers and the minimum farm worker piece rates for harvesters of certain fruits and vegetables.

* In 2016, the percentage of employees earning minimum wage in British Columbia was 4.8%. * The national average for the percentage of people earning minimum wage last year was 6.9%. * The number of employees in BC earning minimum wage in 2016 was 93,800 out of a total of 1,958,600 paid employees (excluding self-employed). * Breakdown of the 93,800 who earned minimum wage in BC in 2016: 50,600, or 54%, were youth age 15 to 24 | 13,100, or 14%, were age 55 or older | 57,700, or 62%, were female | 23,900, or 25%, did not have high school graduation | 12,200, or 13%, had a university degree.


 

Thursday, August 17 – SKIES OF NORTH AMERICA.  A total solar eclipse will be visible on Monday, August 21 in a narrow path spanning all across the USA and most of Canada from the West Coast to the East Coast. Never look directly at an eclipse — you can seriously if not permanently damage your eyes.

The safest way to watch the eclipse is on the NASA live feed via NASA TV and NASA EDGE, available on multiple popular streaming-video services. NASA’s first stream goes on air at 8:45 am PDT which is about an hour before the darkest shadow of the moon, called the umbra, first touches the west coast: www.nasa.gov/eclipselive

NASA TV has mapped out live video coverage (9 am to 1 pm PDT) for its “Eclipse Across America” segment from 12 different locations on the ground, jets in the sky, telescopes, and dozens of high-altitude balloons.

It’s the first total solar eclipse in 38 years and most North Americans will be able to see it. At its widest, the moon’s central shadow will be about 115 km (71.5 miles) wide. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible coast to coast was almost 100 years ago (June 8, 1918).

Across Canada, the Moon will cover up a portion of the Sun – a partial eclipse. In the Greater Victoria area there will be a 90% solar eclipse that morning, starting at 9:08 am to the maximum at 10:20 am, wrapping up at 11:38 am.
This is the first time since the total solar eclipse of January 11, 1880 that a total solar eclipse will occur exclusively over the continental United States. The Great American Eclipse! Something for the world’s mightiest nation to perhaps use as a symbolic fresh start! It’ll be interesting to see events unfold after that.

In the path of totality, when the eclipse begins (first contact) it will appear as if the Moon is taking a bite out of the Sun. As the eclipse progresses, the sky will get darker and the temperature will drop. Animals and birds will become quieter. At second contact — when totality begins — beams of light (called ‘Baily’s Beads’) will become visible. As the Moon completely covers the Sun’s surface, a ‘diamond ring’ can be seen. Pink spots called prominences appear near the diamond, as caused by gases on the sun’s surface. Totality is the only time when one can see the corona, the sun’s atmosphere. At third contact, Baily’s Beads will once again become visible and a second diamond ring may appear.

“Eye protection is essential,” says Dr Louise Morin, optometrist with Sooke Optometry. Eye care professionals and astronomers advise to not look directly at the sun, before, during or after the eclipse without any protective eyewear. “Looking at the sun with your bare eyes is highly dangerous and can even cause blindness,” says Dr Morin. The safest way to see a solar eclipse is to wear protective eclipse glasses or use a pinhole projector, or take part in one of the astronomical viewing parties where proper glasses and telescopes are provided.

Whether the August 21 solar eclipse is partial or total in your area, protect your eyes from cornea damage and blue light with the right filter. It’s important to prevent eye damage, including corneal burns and future eye disease such as macular degeneration. Whether your geographical location will have a partial or total solar eclipse, you need to protect yourself from eye damage.

We are warned to never look directly at the sun. During a solar eclipse, the light is even brighter. The only ‘safe’ time to look at the sun during a total eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun. Darkness falls for less than three minutes, and the dangerous light returns suddenly. The sun emits UV light that can cause a “sunburn” on the cornea, the outer surface of the eye.
If you view an eclipse without protection, you may not notice the damage right away; you might just wake up the next day unable to see. Damage can be temporary or permanent.

The sun’s light also contains blue light. Damage from excessive blue light (including from electronics) is cumulative. A large exposure, especially in childhood, it can contribute to future eye disease.
Do not use eclipse viewing glasses that are more than three years old, or that have wrinkled or scratched lenses. Avoid home-made devices.

Improper eclipse glasses have been popping up in the marketplace. Make sure the glasses you might use say “ISO 12312-2 international standard”. They should also have the manufacturer’s name and address. Safe brands include American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17, according to the American Astronomical Society.

Do not rely on regular sunglasses or prescription sunglasses, no matter how dark. They allow thousands of times too much light, and they will not safely protect your eyes. Watching the eclipse online or on TV is the safest option and probably even more interesting with commentary and various angles.

Whichever way you look at it, it’ll be one of those “where were you for the August 21 eclipse” memorable moments!


 

Monday, August 14 ~ BC.  The British Columbia government will end grizzly bear trophy hunting throughout the province after the end of this year’s hunting season — effective November 30, 2017 — and stop all hunting of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest, it was announced today by Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson.

This fulfills a BC NDP campaign promise that received high-profile attention during the provincial election campaign ahead of the May 9, 2017 general election. NDP candidate Bryce Casavant in Oak Bay Gordon Head made tracks for the NDP in the home riding of BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver who has long advocated for action on this issue.

“By bringing trophy hunting of grizzlies to an end, we’re delivering on our commitment to British Columbians,” Donaldson said. “This action is supported by the vast majority of people across our province. In particular, we owe it to generations past and future to do all we can to protect the beauty and uniqueness of the Great Bear Rainforest. We believe the action we’re taking goes beyond the commitment to Coastal First Nations made as part of the 2016 Great Bear Rainforest agreements.”

There are an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia. Each year, approximately 250 are taken by hunters. While the trophy hunt will end, hunting for meat will be allowed to continue.

During the fall months, Donaldson said that government will consult with First Nations and stakeholder groups to determine next steps and mechanisms as BC moves toward ending the trophy hunt. Additionally, government will be moving forward with a broader consultation process on a renewed wildlife management strategy for the province.

“The key elements of that strategy will include dedicated funding for wildlife and habitat conservation and a collaborative process in developing short and long-term plans for wildlife resources,” Donaldson said.

Weaver said he was encouraged that “the BC NDP are respecting the wishes of the Coastal First Nations by placing a moratorium on the hunting of grizzlies in the Great Bear Rainforest.” However, he cautioned that during the election campaign he pointed out that “the BC NDP appeared to be trying to have their cake and eat it too when it came to the grizzly hunt” in telling the hunting community one thing and the environmental community another.

Today’s BC government announcement will not fully end grizzly bear hunting in BC, as many environmental groups have advocated for, said Weaver in a news release: “This announcement will create a system in which not all of the animal will be harvested – resident hunters will no longer be allowed to possess the hair, head and hide of grizzlies. This will be viewed as wasteful by the resident hunting community.”

“Foreign hunters will still be able to shoot grizzlies in BrC, take a picture of themselves standing over the dead beast, and head back home without harvesting any of the animal,” said Weaver, adding “I’m not sure how this will appease the concerns of anyone.”

“What we really need in BC is science-based approach to wildlife management, not a populist approach to species management.

“BC is one of the last strongholds of grizzlies in North America. There are a range of issues that affect the health of grizzly bear populations. These include the effects of climate change on essential salmon and huckleberry stocks, as well as road kill rates and poaching incidents. We must focus on broader wildlife preservation if we are serious about conservation and the protection of grizzlies and other species in this province.

“BC and Alberta are the only provinces without Endangered Species legislation. I will work with the government to ensure the introduction of species at risk legislation is advanced in the near future,” says Weaver.


Saturday, August 12 ~ NATIONAL.  Today August 12 is International Youth Day (IYD), as first endorsed by the United Nations (UN) in December 1999. The UN sees youth as agents of change. IYD 2017 is dedicated to celebrating youth people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice and sustainable peace.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today issued some comments: “Today, on International Youth Day, we celebrate the limitless potential of young people. We put a spotlight on their ideas and aspirations, which have the power to change the world. We are inspired by their courage, passion, and the positive change they make every day. The theme of this year’s International Youth Day – Youth Building Peace – emphasizes how young leaders can help move societies beyond conflict and violence by promoting gender equality, inclusion, and education.”

Trudeau also said that “listening to and appreciating the diverse views of young people will help us turn the vision of a more peaceful and prosperous planet into a reality.” He has created the Prime Minister’s Youth Council to give young people a voice in decisions that will shape their lives, their communities, and their country.

“As Minister of Youth, I know that young people everywhere are trying to make a difference,” said Trudeau. “We must continue to amplify their voices, give them a seat at the table, and connect them with opportunities. Our future success depends on it.”


 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau at Sidney Spit, August 5 [WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS photo by Mary Brooke]

Saturday, August 5 ~ SIDNEY, BC.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau took a bit of time to relax at Sidney Spit this morning, August 5, under still-hazy skies from wildfire smoke but a slightly cooler temperature than of recent 30°C days.

Passengers on the incoming Alpine Sidney Spit ferry had about 30 seconds heads-up as to why they would see a lot of police and security when they offloaded from the 41-seat catamaran at about 10:30 am.

Justin Trudeau and Sophie had already been milling around for about an hour already, with people hanging out on the spit for the day, as well as with boaters moored along the dock.

Last night at a Liberal event in Victoria at the Ocean Pointe, the prime minister was already talking about his federal Liberal team being out and about door knocking in neighbourhoods. Finding out what the public is thinking about things in Canada is a key Liberal strategy which paid off in spades for Trudeau and his almost entirely-fresh batch of MPs in the 2015 federal election. However, on Vancouver Island there are no Liberal MPs, and it seems Trudeau is putting some effort into changing that, one beach visit at a time.

Justin Trudeau & Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau strolled the beach at Sidney Spit, August 5 [WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS photo by Mary Brooke]

There was a short media scrum with the TV cameras rolling … about 4 questions, including about humanitarian issues in Venezuela, and refugees. “I have confidence in the integrity of our borders and controls,” he told the media and about 75 members of the public surrounding the brief media interface. And being on a beautiful nature reserve like Sidney Spit — which is part of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve — Trudeau was of course promoting the preservation of parks. Park fees are waived to visitors throughout all of 2017, as part of celebrating Canada 150.

As a “grandson of BC all my life” he told the crowd about sailing in English Bay as a youth, and coming out to Sidney Spit and other beach areas with his aunt who lives in Brentwood Bay.

Trudeau took a moment to mention the importance of protecting the South Island Resident Killer Whales (orca) pod that is so precious to the BC ecosystem as well as economy and tourism. He said his government has “an adequate spill response”.

Justin Trudeau stopped to chat with boaters and their dogs [Gord Fulcher photo for WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS]

In response to a question about Kinder Morgan, Trudeau emphasized the need to “grow the economy in ways that protect the environment” and that both can be done at the same time. He emphasized that “the positions we take are in the national interest”.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gives a quick thumbs up, departing from his quick trip to Sidney Spit. [WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS photo by Mary Brooke]

The prime minister — relaxed in T-shirt and shorts with a backpack, barefoot in sandals — gave accolades to the first responders who have been dealing with the wildfires in the BC Interior. “They are doing an amazing job. The abilities of firefighters is really to be commended.”

Trudeau reiterated a message from days earlier that “we will be there as a federal government” to support the wildfire-affected area and the people there. He encouraged people to donate to the Canadian Red Cross by text #20222 to donate $10.

And with that the quick trip was done. The Trudeaus made their way back to a Gulf Islands motorboat, of course stopping all the way for a number of selfies with cheerful fans.

 


 

BC Premier John Horgan – July 29 in Sooke [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, July 31. Today Monday, July 31, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and BC Premier John Horgan will be in Williams Lake to see more about what’s going on with the wildfire situation including the evacuee scenario.

The prime minister and premier will be joined by Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, the Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities and Chair of the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Federal Recovery Efforts for 2017 BC Wildfires, Carla Qualtrough, and Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

They will visit the Williams Lake wildfire command centre and the Cariboo Fire Centre, and will also take an aerial tour of the region’s fire zones.

BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson, and Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, will join the Premier in Williams Lake.

Horgan, Farnworth, Donaldson and Rice will then travel to Prince George to reach out to people affected by wildfires.


 

BC Premier John Horgan in Ottawa July 25, 2017 [screenshot]

Sunday, July 30 ~ BC. On Monday, July 31, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and BC Premier John Horgan will be in Williams Lake to see more about what’s going on with the wildfire situation including the evacuee scenario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at press conference with BC Premier John Horgan, July 25 in Ottawa.

At 10:30 am, the prime minister and premier will be joined by Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, the Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities and Chair of the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Federal Recovery Efforts for 2017 BC Wildfires, Carla Qualtrough, and Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

They will meet with Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP members from the Williams Lake Wildfire Command Centre at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

Last week, Trudeau and Horgan gave a joint press conference at Parliament Hill in Ottawa after their first meeting with Horgan as Premier. They discussed things their governments have in common including affordable housing, child care, the opioid crisis and the softwood lumber aspect of the NAFTA negotiations.

Trudeau and Horgan had at this early stage of the new federal-BC relationship apparently agreed to not discuss their major differences on the TransMountain Pipeline project (which got federal approval in November 2016), but an accidentally spilled water glass changed all that. During the press conference, Horgan’s slip of the hand causing a glass of water to spill with a clatter to the floor: “Spills can happen anywhere,” Horgan deadpanned. Then Trudeau promptly replied: “We’ll get people to clean that up right away”.  A good chuckle, and some quick thinking by two lucid, relaxed high-profile politicians.


 

Premier John Horgan in the lobby of Govt House, July 18 {West Shore Voice News photo]

Friday, July 28 ~ BC. Premier John Horgan released the following statement about the resignation of Christy Clark as Leader of the Official Opposition and MLA for Kelowna West, effective Aug. 4, 2017. Said Premier John Horgan:

“Today we thank Christy Clark for her service to British Columbia. We take up the call of public service because we want to make this province a better place. While we represented two different political parties, Ms. Clark and I are united in the belief that, working together, we can build a better future for British Columbia and the people who call this place home.”

Said Horgan: “As an MLA and as Premier, Ms. Clark fought passionately for what she believed in. I know she will take that passion and energy to her next opportunity. I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”

Also making a statement today on the upcoming departure of Christy Clark, was BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver: 

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, July 18 at Govt House [West Shore Voice News Photo]

“I want to thank Christy Clark for her years of service to British Columbians, both as an MLA and as Leader of the BC Liberals,” said Weaver. “She has been a fierce advocate for British Columbia, here at home and around the world. A highlight of my time in the Legislature was working directly with Christy Clark to implement sexualized violence policy legislation for BC’s post-secondary institutions. Her leadership and willingness to work across party lines on this vital issue has made universities and colleges across this province safer for our students – and for this I am grateful.”

Said Weaver: “This experience illustrated what we can achieve when members of this house work together. I wish Christy Clark well in her future pursuits and look forward to developing a productive relationship with the next Leader of the BC Liberal Party.”


 

Christy Clark leaves BC politics. Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Friday, July 28 ~ BC. Former premier Christy Clark is stepping down as leader of the BC Liberal Party and is leaving politics. All of this effective Friday, August 4, 2017.

The announcement comes just 10 days after BC NDP leader John Horgan was sworn in as the 36th premier of BC, having formed a historic alliance with the BC Green Party following a provincial election that showed multiple fractures in the direction of politics in the western-most province in Canada.

“Serving as premier and serving the people of British Columbia for the past six-and-a-half years has been an incredible honour and privilege,” Clark said in a statement. “I am so proud of everything our BC Liberal team has accomplished.

“I am certain that British Columbia’s best days lie ahead. Because British Columbians can, through hard work, determination, and perseverance, achieve anything they set their minds to,” Clark stated.

Clark’s Liberals governed BC for over 16 years (5,869 days to be exact), starting with Gordon Campbell as premier and then Clark. It was one of the longest political dynasties in BC’s history during which time much of the province’s systems and assets were privatized.

Christy Clark first headed a majority BC Liberal government in 2013 after the 40th provincial election. While the NDP thought they had it in the bag that year, the BC Liberals were quietly behind the scenes in a state of full confidence to win, and win they did.

The 41st general election in May 2017 provided a split legislature (43 BC Liberal, 41 NDP, 3 Green) that ultimately ended Clark’s run as premier and 16 years of Liberal leadership in BC. The NDP and Greens quickly came to what is effectively a ‘mutual aid’ agreement, which 52 days after the May 9 general election may have helped give Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon some of the political confidence she would have needed to make her decision on June 29 to ask BC NDP Leader John Horgan to lead government going forward.

John Horgan became premier of BC on July 18, 2017, sworn in by Lt Gov Guichon along with his gender-balanced cabinet of 22 ministers in a ceremony at Government House in Victoria.


 

Premier John Horgan outdoors meeting the people of BC, on July 18, 2017 [Photo Copyright WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS]

Monday, July 24 ~ BC. Premier John Horgan will stand up for BC’s interests in Ottawa this week, as he meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the wildfire state of emergency, softwood lumber and the opioid crisis. He will also travel to Washington, DC, to fight for BC jobs in the softwood lumber dispute.

This will be his first trip outside of BC to represent the province as its premier. Horgan was sworn-in on Tuesday July 18, along with his new cabinet of 22 BC NDP Ministers.

“Tomorrow I will be meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa to talk about how we can work together to support people and communities affected by BC’s wildfires, fight for BC jobs in the softwood lumber dispute, and better support those affected by the opioid crisis,” said Premier Horgan.

“Working with our federal counterparts, we’ll find solutions to the urgent problems facing British Columbians. And we will make sure that the services people count on like childcare, affordable housing, and public infrastructure are also a priority in these discussions.”

Premier Horgan will meet with Prime Minister Trudeau at 10 am eastern time on Tuesday, July 25, after which he will meet with other senior public officials.

The Premier will then travel to Washington, DC, for meetings with key trade officials on the softwood lumber dispute.
“Whether it’s in Victoria, Ottawa or Washington, British Columbians can count on us to work hard every day to get results for people. We’ll stand up for BC’s interests, fight for BC jobs, and work with our federal partners to deliver better services for people,” said Premier Horgan.


Friday, July 21 ~ BC. Two big changes in the first two days of the BC NDP Government.

On Wednesday in his full first day in office Premier John Horgan announced that the evacuee-support funding of $600 per household would be renewed every 14 days for anyone who is still not able to return home to areas affected by wildfires.

The next day, July 20, he announced an increase in disability rates and income assistance — the first such increase in 10 years. The rates go up $100 a month — the disability rate will be $1,133 per person and the income assistance rate will be $710.


 

Thursday, July 20 ~ Premier John Horgan announced four high-profile appointments today, aimed at delivering the government’s commitments to offer relief for families on hydro rates, auto insurance costs and housing affordability.

“For 16 years under the Liberal government, ordinary people struggled to get ahead – nowhere have they seen that more than in out-of-control housing and Hydro costs. We’re tackling affordability and getting government working for people again, starting with Crown corporations and government organizations,” said Horgan.

Premier Horgan has announced the following appointments:
Kenneth G. Peterson was appointed chair of BC Hydro. Mr. Peterson’s 40-year career spans a wide range of assignments in the electricity industry. The last 10 years of his professional career were spent as CEO of Powerex, the marketing and trading subsidiary of BC Hydro. He also served as a trustee of the North American Reliability Corporation since 2006, where he applied his industry experience to the physical and cyber-security reliability challenges facing utilities.
Cassie J. Doyle was appointed chair of the BC Housing Management Commission. Ms. Doyle recently served as the CEO of the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute, and has previously served with both the federal and B.C. provincial government as a deputy minister. She also represented Canadian interests as the Consul General in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley in the areas of innovation of entrepreneurship. She has extensive governance experience and a long track record of serving on boards of directors, and a reputation of partnering effectively with universities, industry, First Nations, and other stakeholders.
* Joy MacPhail was appointed chair of ICBC. Ms. MacPhail previously served several ministerial roles, including Minister of Health, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier. She is the co-owner of OUTtv, the world’s longest airing LGBTQ+ television network, and she served as a director of Delta Hotels Ltd. and Silverbirch Hotels and Resorts Ltd. and a director and vice-chair of the B.C. Cancer Foundation, in addition to a number of other senior public and private sector roles.
Cathy McLay was appointed a director of ICBC. Ms. McLay brings a wealth of financial expertise, with an extensive background in financial leadership. She is the chief financial officer and executive vice-president, finance and corporate services at Translink. Ms. McLay serves on several boards of directors, including Coast Mountain Bus Company, Providence Health Care, and the BC Rapid Transit Company Ltd., and previously served as general manager for Canadian Forest Products Ltd.

“These new executives are ready to get to work for British Columbians. They were all chosen for their strong track records of delivering effective leadership that benefits the public,” said Horgan.

“Each of them will face significant challenges because of the choices made by the previous government. All will play a key role in making life more affordable for British Columbians. They will work hard to ensure the organizations they are responsible for are well managed, properly governed and well-aligned with the government’s mandate, and I know they are ready to get to work building a better BC for everyone.”


 

Wednesday, July 19 ~ BC NEWS from out of VICTORIA. With a west side of the island twist.

BC Premier John Horgan and BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon during the swearing-in ceremony at Government House on July 18 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Vancouver Islanders now have their own home-grown Premier. John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) was sworn in as the 36th Premier of BC on Tuesday, July 18 at Government House in Victoria. He has worked hard to become widely known throughout the province, and seemed notably relaxed, humbly inspired and clearly excited in this new role during the swearing-in ceremony.

Of the many people who have expressed how they were moved by watching the experience streamed live on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon was the evidence of how far-reaching this event was. After 16 years under a BC Liberal government that boasted balanced budgets but privatized-away the wealth of the people and undermined the performance of public education for generations of children, there was a mixed sense of both awe and a bubbling up of realized liberation in the grand ballroom at Government House that afternoon. The room was packed with over a thousand people… standing room only, including on the stairways and balconies.

Leading this journey to a changeover in government has been John Horgan, who turns 58 next month. From humble beginnings in then small-town Langford, he did well in government policy positions earlier in his career, and then as a management consultant before running to become MLA on the west shore in 2005. He was apparently advised by some family and friends: “Don’t do it John, you might win!”. And win he did, time and again, securely holding the seat through several elections and becoming BC NDP leader after the 2013 election that the NDP thought they had in the bag under then-leader Adrian Dix.

The ballroom on Tuesday afternoon holding a ceremony that started a bit after 2pm vibrated with the drum beat of the Coast Salish as their dancers swept up some energy and lifted most of those in the room into a unison of near-rapt attention.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver (right) and Green MLA Adam Olsen at Government House, July 18 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Present from the First Nations community were Chief Russ Chipps of Beecher Bay and Chief Gordon Planes of T’Sou-ke Nation, as well as T’Sou-ke Nation elder Shirley Alphonse who gave a blessing at the start of the event.The audience was filled with all who could come, from many walks of life and all ages. Guests started filing in around 1:40 pm, finding seating amidst hugs and handshakes. Among the crowd was a wide range of community leaders including BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver seated with fellow Green MLA Adam Olsen, NDP MP Randall Garrison, now-retired BC NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis, all the MLAs who were not this-round destined for the initial cabinet swearing-in on stage, and Mayors of various CRD municipalities including Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Langford Mayor Stew Young, and Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, as well as Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks.

BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon seemed genuinely excited to be heading up such a momentum event. Beneath the lighthearted banter of Horgan and others on the stage, it was a significant transfer of power, the bloodless coup that is expected in the British-based democratic parliamentary system. A gender-equity cabinet set up by John Horgan — 11 men and 11 women — arrived in procession through the wall of Coast Salish drums. Notable by its absence was the sound of the traditional highland bagpipes heard at many official events in BC. This was a distinctive nod to reconciliation with indigenous peoples. The integration of First Nations culture into the day seemed new for a lot of people in the room that afternoon, though not so much for the people who’ve backed John Horgan in his years building his political grounding in the Sooke area, where almost every event is attended by if not opened by greetings from the T’Sou-ke leaders.

Judy Darcy, new Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, at July 18 swearing-in [West Shore Voice News photo]

And despite the distinctly political philosophy that now leads British Columbia, no one could argue with this: “We live in the most spectacular place on the planet Earth.” And in particular, Vancouver Island — God’s country, it’s been called.In his brief speech from the podium after becoming Premier, Horgan thanked all who had helped him get to this position from which he says he hopes to lead in a way that support and open opportunities for the widest possible range of British Columbians. He notably thanked his wife Ellie, his sons Nate and Evan, his brothers Pat and Brian, and his sister Kathy. He said it was his mother’s influence that largely sculpted the philosophy that has guided his way through some difficult challenges to where he is today: “If you help people today, they will be there to help you tomorrow.” Adding to those gathered: “I’m here because of you.”

Premier Horgan described his government and new cabinet as one that will be “caring, that listens, and shares information in the interests of all British Columbians”. About his cabinet: “This government, these people, will deliver that in the weeks and months ahead.” He talked about living up to campaign commitments and reducing costs to people who struggle to get by in BC. “We will be working not just for the few but for everybody,” declared Horgan on that first day of his premiership.

After the official events there was a reception that spilled from the ballroom, onto the outdoor balconies and into the dining room, featuring wine and lemonade, and some very tasty and creative hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. Horgan made his way down to the front entry of Government House with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II as his backdrop, to greet folks as they made their way to the front door and pose with people for lots of memory-of-the-day selfies.

Horgan led with this in his brief five-minute speech at a single microphone in the middle of the floor. “It’s great to see you in the people’s house, with all the people. It’s an honour and privilege to stand before you as the 36th Premier of British Columbia.  BC is one of the most spectacular places in the world.” He spoke supportively of those dealing with wildfires in the BC interior.Ahead of 5 pm, Premier Horgan was whisked over to the BC Parliament Buildings for a brief statement to a cheering crowd in the stately Hall of Honour. People were packed in tight, so tight you had to excuse yourself three times to make any move through the crowd. There was hooting and non-stop applause for several minutes before Horgan could manage to speak. His brief speech — in a more casual scenario than at Government House and with his cabinet behind him — focussed on his intended service to the people. Premier Horgan was introduced by now-Deputy-Premier Carole James with this: “I would like to introduce my friend, a colleague, our leader and your Premier of British Columbia.”

Premier John Horgan greets the people in the Hall of Honour at the BC Legislature, July 18 [West Shore Voice News photo]

“I believe government can be a force of positive change in people’s lives. My colleagues believe government can be a post force in people’s lives. We can’t wait to get started on making life better for you and making life better for British Columbians,” Horgan told the crowd that just kept applauding even as he spoke. Horgan summarized the swearing-in held just hours earlier: “We’ve had a very extraordinary day. We swore in 11 men and 11 women. Together the 41 of us as well as our friends in the Green caucus form the majority of votes in our legislature, and we are going to work every single day for the same purpose, the same objectives.”

Six members of the new cabinet are MLAs from Vancouver Island ridings, which historically makes up for a lack of attention to the needs of Vancouver Islanders in governments past.Some of the notable cabinet appointments included former Health critic Judy Darcy to the new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. David Eby is now Attorney General. Long-time MLA and former BC NDP party leader Carole James is now Deputy-Premier and Minister of Finance. As the new Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham got the biggest hugs during the official swearing-in from Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, a former rancher. The new Minister of State for Child Care is Katrina Chen who will face the challenge of dealing with the NDP promise for $10/day child care. Long-time NDP critic Rob Fleming is now Minister of Education. Michelle Mungall is the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. George Heyman heads up the challenging Environment and Climate Change portfolio (the Lieutenant Governor spoke emphatically about climate change in her brief speech, as something that needs to be tackled). Amdist the current wildfire state of emergency, Doug Donaldson now heads up the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development. Former BC NDP leader Adrian Dix is now Minister of Health. The critical economic issues under Municipal Affairs and Housing now fall to Selina RobinsonClaire Trevena gets Transportation and Infrastructure which comes with big investment challenges. Melanie Mark is the new Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training in a time period where education and jobs are highly intertwined. Bruce Ralston is now the Minister of Jobs, Trade, and Technology.

Melanie Mark is the new Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, shown here outside the BC Legislature to greet the public [West Shore Voice News photo]

At both events, but particularly at the legislature, security was notably far more lax than usual. “We have more or less free reign,” said Horgan as he announced there was ice cream. People could tour various parts of the building including the library, though most eventually just shuffled out (a 15-minute exercise) to the sunlight on the steps of the front of the legislative building, where Horgan was surrounded by hundreds of people, waiting for a turn to shake hands and take selfies.

“Thank you for having confidence in our ability to deliver on the commitments we made during the election campaign,” he said to wrap up his five-minute talk inside, continuing: “… to make sure the services you depend on are there for you, and make sure our economy is there for everybody.” Then people mingled in the packed room and hallways with MLAs of the NDP caucus, supporters and friends.

MLAs who stayed to chat in the crowded hall included Attorney General David Eby who posed for a lot of selfies, new Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall, and first-time MLA Mitzi Dean. Mungall says she is ready to take on the BC Hydro portfolio. Dean said her constituency office in Esquimalt-Metchosin will be set up in the next week or so.

Premier John Horgan outdoors meeting the people of BC, on July 18, 2017 [Photo Copyright WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS]

Horgan will soon be heading to Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and also to Washington, DC to sort out details about softwood lumber and other trade issues. Several of his cabinet ministers will travel to wildfire-ravaged areas of BC this week to see the work of emergency workers and evacuation centre operations firsthand.

Among the first order of business on Wednesday, July 19 was dealing with the state of emergency of people who have become evacuees due to wildfires in southeast and interior BC. Horgan held a morning press conference to announce that the current $600-per-household funding will be renewed every 14 days on an ongoing basis until evacuees return home.

~ This special firsthand report by West Shore Voice News editor Mary P Brooke.


 

BC NDP Leader John Horgan will be sworn in July 18 as the 36th Premier of BC.

Tuesday, July 18 ~ VICTORIA. Today Tuesday, July 18 John Horgan be sworn in as the 36th Premier of British Columbia by BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon.

Today British Columbians will also learn who is in Horgan’s NDP cabinet, who will also be sworn in today. There will be a live feed of the ceremony starting at 2pm on John Horgan’s Facebook page .

As well, there will be a public open house at the BC Legislature from 5 to 7 pm to meet the Premier and mingle with the new cabinet. There will be tours to areas of the legislature that are usually accessible, such as the library and the speakers hallway around the chamber. The doors will be open, no high-level security required today. It’s a sign of a fresh new approach by the BC NDP.

As Premier, John Horgan will briefly speak just after 5pm in the legislature’s Hall of Honour.

Speculation on who will be in Horgan’s cabinet includes high-profile MLAs with some experience under their belt.

Notably one-time BC-NDP leader Carole James (Victoria-Beacon Hill) who is rumoured to become the Finance Minister, bringing further island-based support to the lead team. David Eby (Vancouver-Point Grey) brings strength from the Lower Mainland area particularly in areas like transportation; he was the ‘giant slayer’ for taking down Christy Clark in that riding in 2013. Rob Fleming (Victoria-Swan Lake) will probably hold the Education portfolio after years in that critic role, and would also shore up the south-island strength of a Horgan cabinet. While new to provincial politics, Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) is likely to be featured in the cabinet for a couple of reasons — her career involvement in social services, her connections to rural Metchosin where Horgan has had a long-time following, and part of the gender equity thing to bring more women into high-profile political positions.

As part of the transition from BC Liberal to BC NDP, yesterday more than 100 Liberal political appointees (staffers) at the legislature were let go from their jobs.


John Horgan greeting people on Canada Day 150 in Sooke. [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Sunday, July 16 ~ VICTORIA. John Horgan be sworn in as Premier — along with his BC NDP cabinet — by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon on Tuesday, July 18 at Government House.  There will be a live feed of the ceremony starting at 2pm on John Horgan’s Facebook page .

As well, there will be a public open house from 5 to 7 pm at the BC Legislature to meet and mingle with the new cabinet and Premier. including tours to areas of the legislature that are usually accessible, such as the library and the speakers hallway around the chamber.

As Premier, John Horgan will briefly speak just after 5pm in the legislature’s Hall of Honour.


Forest fire in the BC Interior

Sunday, July 9 ~ BC. [UPDATED/CORRECTED at 11:50 pm]  It’s not easy doing live media coverage on the fly. But there are times when careful attention to detail does matter.

Today there were a lot of confused and/or frustrated viewers of TV news in BC, with coverage of both Christy Clark and John Horgan as speaking for BC out of Kamloops. They were both in the BC Interior town where emergency operations centres are open for people affected by the wildfire situation there.

There is a province-wide state of emergency due to the forest fires in this hot weather. Some people have lost their homes to the blaze, others are living out of vehicles or staying in the temporary emergency operation centres.

Premier-designate John Horgan in Kamloops, July 9

We should all remember that on June 29 the Lieutenant Governor of BC asked then-Premier Christy Clark to resign. Within hours that same June 29 evening at Government House in Victoria, NDP Leader John Horgan was asked by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to form government, after he told her he would have and maintain the confidence of the house. Clark remains as Premier until July 18 and her ministers remain in place.  John Horgan on June 29 became Premier-designate.

Nonetheless, it was misleading for Ms Clark to be referred to in at least three different titled ways in TV news coverage throughout this day — she was referred to as former Premier, outgoing Premier, and Premier.

Clark announced a $100 million donation to the Canadian Red Cross which has proven to act quickly and effectively to assist people in emergency situations.  Premier-designate Horgan visited with the BC Wildfire service at the Kamloops airport, to discuss how they’re deploying their resources.

Horgan also explained: “I took a phone call from the Prime Minister while I was there, on speaker phone from Ottawa,” he said. “The federal government will have our back in BC once we get a handle on this crisis,” said Horgan to the TV cameras.

Outgoing Premier Christy Clark.

Horgan says it would be important to move personnel and people out of evacuated areas, but that he would have to wait for John Rustad (presently serving as Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations until the new cabinet is sworn in), to make that call.

“The Federal govt stands ready,” said Horgan. He added: “The outgoing government has been very cooperative. This is British Columbian’s coming together to help each other — as they often do, in times of distress.”

Premier-designate John Horgan will be sworn in as Premier on July 18, 2017 along with his new cabinet (names yet to be made public). The swearing-in will take place at Government House at 2pm.

Yesterday Horgan’s office issued a released saying that Minister Rustad had agreed that this was not a time for politics [see July 7 post below].

 

Wildfire in the BC Interior, July 2017

Sunday, July 9 ~ BC.  Today Premier-designate John Horgan will be forgoing his participation in the Victoria Pride Parade in order to attend the wildfire situation in the BC Interior (which has been declared as a province-wide emergency). Horgan will be going to Kamloops.

During a 2:00 to 6:00 pm time slot, Premier-designate Horgan will be visiting the Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre, Emergency Social Services, the Group Lodging Facility at Thompson Rivers University, and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Emergency Operations Centre.

The most affected areas of the BC interior have been 28 days without rain, and in the last 53 days there has been just “a thimbleful of rain”, says one Environment Canada climatologist. Temperatures have been frequently reaching over 35°C in the past week. All of this makes the forests extremely dry and easily susceptible to fire. Big fires can produce their own winds.

Yesterday, Premier-designate Horgan issued this statement:
“Like all British Columbians, I’m increasingly concerned about the grave situation confronting the residents of Interior communities like Cache Creek, Ashcroft and Williams Lake in the face of worsening wildfires. Today I contacted John Rustad, the minister in charge of firefighting operations, to offer my unqualified support for his efforts to confront this crisis. He has spoken with the federal government and they are prepared to do whatever they can to help. I am also scheduling a complete briefing with response officials.”

Horgan continued: “The people already evacuated or facing evacuation, as well as our front line fire fighters and first responders, need to know everyone in the province is behind them. John (Rustad) and I agree this is no time for politics – we have to work together to provide whatever support and resources are required to help people in the affected communities in the face of this crisis.”

Horgan is otherwise occupied with selecting his first cabinet. He has indicated the cabinet will be comprised not entirely of NDP MLAs, but also one or more MLAs from the BC Greens and BC Liberals. That’s part of his effort to show and maintain confidence of the house.


Friday, July 7 ~  Premier-Designate John Horgan has this evening issued the following statement about the wildfire situation in the BC Interior:

“With serious wildfires threatening several important communities in the BC Interior, my thoughts are with those in the affected communities, and the brave firefighters and emergency responders who are working hard to contain the fires and protect homes and lives.

“To those who have lost their homes and to those who are under evacuation order, I want to send my comfort at this difficult time. Emergency response teams are doing everything possible to meet your needs and I am being updated on the efforts to fight the fire and assure your safety.

“I urge everyone to follow the instructions of local emergency response officials and to do their utmost to avoid interfering with firefighting efforts. People are putting their lives on the line to save our neighbours and our communities, we have to do our part to make their jobs easier.

“I know British Columbians across the province stand ready to lend a helping hand. Whatever these wildfires throw at us, we will overcome it.”


Friday, July 7 (evening) ~ BC. A provincial state of emergency to ensure a coordinated response to the current wildfire situation and to ensure public safety has been called this evening, July 7.

Today alone there have been 56 new wildfire starts throughout the province, says the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastruture. Evacuation alerts and orders have been issued for Ashcroft, Cache Creek and Princeton. These are in addition to the evacuation orders and alerts issued yesterday for 105 Mile House and 108 Mile House. The extended weather forecast is calling for continued hot, dry weather, with risks of thunderstorms in many parts of the province.

Given the current wildfire situation and the expected increase in wildfire activity, the Province is taking this extraordinary measure of declaring a provincial state of emergency. This is an urgent situation and public safety is the top priority. The Province will continue to keep the public informed in this rapidly evolving situation.

The state of emergency gives agencies such as Emergency Management BC, the Fire Commissioner, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the RCMP authority under the Emergency Program Act to take every action necessary to fight these wildfires and protect residents and their communities.

Declarations of provincial states of emergency are issued by the minister responsible under the Emergency Program Act. The last provincial declaration of state of emergency was issued in August 2003 to deal with wildfires.


Premier-designate John Horgan greeting folks at Sooke Canada Day 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Thursday, July 6 ~ VICTORIA. BC Premier-designate John Horgan and his cabinet will be sworn in at Government House on July 18, 2017 at 2 p.m.

No MLA names for the new cabinet have been released yet. However it is widely expected that the cabinet will not be comprised exclusively of NDP MLAs, but will also include one or more BC Liberal and BC Green MLAs.

This is part of Horgan’s effort to demonstrate — as he told the Lieutenant Governor — that he has the confidence of the legislative assembly.

Carole James at Horgan launch in March 2017, flanked by Maurine Karagianis (left) and now MLA Mitzi Dean.

“We are excited to deliver on our commitments. That’s why we are working as quickly as possible to give British Columbians the new leadership they voted for,” said New Democrat MLA and transition spokesperson Carole James.

“We’re going to make life more affordable, deliver the services people count on, and create good paying jobs around the province in a sustainable economy that works for everyone.”

Premier-designate John Horgan is the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island.


Wednesday, July 5 ~  As of noon tomorrow — Thursday, July 6 — all open fires (including campfires) will be prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdiction (including Vancouver Island), with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the area known as the “Fog Zone”.

The Fog Zone is a 2km strip of land along the outer coast of Vancouver Island, stretching from Owen Point (near Port Renfrew) north to the tip of Vancouver Island and around to the boundary of the District of Port Hardy. This strip extends inland 2km from the high tide point [ map of the Fog Zone ]

The Coastal Fire Centre is implementing this prohibition due to increasing temperatures and no precipitation in the weather forecast. This prohibition will remain in effect until October 21, 2017 or until the public is otherwise notified.

This prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands within the Coastal Fire Centre (with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the area known as the “Fog Zone”). It does not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has wildfire prevention bylaws in place and is serviced by a fire department. Please check with local government authorities for any other restrictions before lighting any fire.

The following activities are prohibited within the specified area: * campfires   * Category 2 open fires  * Category 3 open fires  * fires burning woody debris in outdoor stoves * the use of tiki torches, fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description * the use of binary exploding targets (e.g. for rifle target practice)

A poster explaining the different categories of open burning is available online at: www.gov.bc.ca/openfireregs

This prohibition does not apply to CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, so long as the height of the flame is less than 15 cm.

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

The Coastal Fire Centre covers all of the area west of the height of land on the Coast Mountain Range from the U.S.-Canada border at Manning Park, including Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park in the north, the Sunshine Coast, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories: www.bcwildfire.ca


 

John Horgan surrounded by fans in Sooke on Canada Day evening, [Photo West Shore Voice News]

Saturday, July 1 ~ SOOKE. Premier-designate John Horgan was in his home riding this evening, milling with the crowds and getting settled in to listen to the live band and watch fireworks coming up after dusk.

There with his wife Ellie and security in tow, he had flown back by helicopter from his day of politicking at other Canada Day community gatherings in the Lower Mainland, to be in Sooke. Sooke holds an annual Canada Day festival, at ‘Sooke Flats’ down by the Sooke River. It’s an old stomping-ground from younger days for Horgan, and he relaxes, in his element.

Horgan grew up in nearby Langford where he still lives, raised his family, and has served as the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca since 2005.

The evening air was cool but the skies had been bright all day. When Horgan first arrived at 8pm there were about 200 people on the grounds, listening to the band. By 9 pm about 1,000 people were on site.

John Horgan playing football on Canada Day in Sooke. [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Horgan was happily swarmed by groups of young people, even children. He was ably conversant with all of them and posed for selfies. All the political ‘old guard’ was there, for the natural rounds of congratulatory handshakes.

Horgan had a chance to throw a football with a young fan on the grounds at Sooke Flats tonight. He did not drop the ball.

Horgan says he is eager to get down to business. Next week he will be establishing his Cabinet.  He has said since Thursday night after being asked by the Lieutenant Governor to form government, that first things on the list are to eliminate tolls on bridges in Vancouver, add one cent to gasoline for an increase in the carbon tax, start things in motion to increase the minimum wage, and quickly set up a review of the Site C hydroelectric project.

Tonight he told West Shore Voice News that the 50% reduction in Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums would still go into effect in January 2018 (as first promised by the BC Liberals), and that within four years the MSP system will be revamped. A review committee to look at which model of health premiums would work for BC will be established soon, Horgan said. He says there are nine models — i.e. every other province in Canada — to look at. BC is the last province with a fee-based system. All other provinces deal with revenues for health care through the income tax system in one way or another.


Saturday, July 1 ~  BC. Premier-designate John Horgan will be on both the mainland and Vancouver Island this Canada Day 150. He will be celebrating Canada Day with people at community events in Port Moody, Surrey and Sooke.

11:00 am – Port Moody Canada Day, Rocky Point Park, 2800 Murray St, Port Moody

1:30 pm – Surrey Canada Day, Bill Reid Millenium Amphitheatre, 17728 64 Ave, Surrey

8:00 pm – Sooke Canada Day, Sooke River Campground, 2259 Philips Road, Sooke

On Thursday evening, June 29, Horgan was asked by the Lieutenant Governor if he had the confidence of the legislature, and he said that he does. He and the cabinet he is assembling will be sworn in probably this coming week.

Check out the front page of June 30, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News for a summary of how the last few days went down for Horgan in his final steps to the Premiership.


BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon

Friday, June 30 ~ VICTORIA. The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, will preside over the swearing-in of 150 new Canadian citizens on Canada Day, July 1, 2017 at Government House.

“It is Her Honour’s pleasure to join Citizenship Canada in welcoming these new citizens on the day of the country’s sesquicentennial,” it was stated in a news release today.

In addition to new citizens and their guests, this free event is also open to the public. The ceremony will begin at 11 am at the Government House bandshell. The event includes remarks from Murray Rankin, MP (Victoria)  and Carole James, MP (Victoria-Beacon Hill). A reception follows, with complimentary refreshments. Guests are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets.

Live music throughout the event includes Jan Stirling, Joey Smith, Edie Daponte, and Damian Graham performing jazz, “O Canada” performed by Frederique Haens from l’école Victor Brodeur, and Sing Me a Song contest winners the Gabriola Island Singers.

Guests are encouraged to bring their families, as also following the ceremony will be a children’s play area, including an inflatable bouncy castle. Event schedule: 10 a.m. – Event Opens  |  11 a.m. – Citizenship Ceremony  |  Noon -1 p.m. – Reception  |  Noon -2 p.m. – Children’s Play Area


Friday, June 30 ~ NATIONAL. Due to technical issues, Interac e-Transfer has been unavailable, and all banks are impacted, including the five major Canadian banks: Scotiabank, BMO, CIBC, TD Bank and RBC.

It’s a network-wide issue, according to one TD Bank rep. Last night the problem was intermittent, then resolved. But as of 9:30 am Pacific Time today it was being widely reported.

Interac is apparently working to fix the problem and restore service as quickly as possible. “E-transfer system delays have been caused by ‘significant’ technical difficulty,” Interac says. Apparently it is not a hacking incident according to one Tweet at @INTERAC.

Most banks are simply apologizing for the inconvenience and thanking online banking customers for their patience. Bank websites and Twitter feeds are being used to inform customers of when Interac e-Transfer is restored.

Merchant Interac transactions in retail situations are still working, as are ATM machines.

On Twitter, the commentary includes that, in a sense, there couldn’t be a “worse day”.  Not only is it a long weekend coming up, with travel funds perhaps required, but people are trying to pay rent and bills on time. Many students may be moving and are perhaps needing flexible funds handling.


Friday, June 30 ~ NATIONAL. The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the selection of a premier-designate in British Columbia:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau & John Horgan during the Royal Tour (Sept 2016) – West Shore Voice News photo

“Under the leadership of John Horgan, the New Democratic Party will form government in British Columbia. I look forward to working closely with Premier-designate Horgan to deliver real results on the issues that matter to British Columbians and to all Canadians

“By coming together in a spirit of cooperation, I am confident that we can grow the industries and sectors at the heart of the province’s prosperity, while promoting clean growth and innovation and investing in public transit and green infrastructure.

“I also look forward to working with Premier-designate Horgan to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as we renew Canada’s nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

“I thank Christy Clark for her work as premier and her public service contributions to the province, the people of British Columbia, and the country as a whole.”

While both leaders are proactively supporting the well-being of the middle class, Trudeau and Horgan are likely to butt heads on the TransMountain pipeline issue, as the NDP and Greens have come out against the expansion (twinning) of the pipeline that carries oil from the oilsands in Alberta out to the BC coast for transport by tanker primarily Pacific Rim countries.


Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon (Photo 2015)

Thursday, June 29 ~ VICTORIA. The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, has issued the following statement around 8:25 pm this evening, June 29, 2017:

“As Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and as the representative of Her Majesty the Queen of Canada, I have met with Premier Clark and will accept her resignation. I have asked Mr. Horgan to form a government, he having assured me that he can form a government which will have the confidence of the Legislative Assembly.”

Earlier this evening, Guichon spent about an hour in discussion with then-Premier Christy Clark (during which time Clark asked the Lt Governor for dissolution to trigger an election), then summoned now Premier-designate John Horgan.

Media waited outside Government House in Victoria for the duration, and likely many British Columbians were following every step of the drama that unfolded from a non-confidence vote in the BC Legislature around 5:30 pm to the final public comments by Horgan around 8:20 pm.


BC NDP Leader John Horgan is the newest Premier of BC.

Thursday, June 29 ~ VICTORIA. On the eve of Canada’s 150th Birthday, BC has an NDP government for the first time in 16 years.

BC NDP Leader (Official Opposition Leader) John Horgan was summoned by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to meet with her this evening. Around 8:20 pm Horgan emerged from Government House to address the media, confirming that he has been asked to lead the government as BC’s next Premier. Cheers erupted from the outdoor area in front of the vice-regal residence on Rockland Avenue in Victoria.

The transition of power is expected to take about three weeks, including setting up a cabinet. Premier-designate Horgan said:

“I look forward to working harder than I’ve ever worked before to make sure that this great province continues to grow and that the prosperity we all want to see for ourselves, we can make sure that we can share that prosperity with others.

We want to make sure that the services people count on are there for them when they need it. We want to make sure most importantly that we continue to grow as a dynamic diverse province, the envy of Canada, on the 150th birthday of Canada.

It is truly an honour to stand before you today and say that tomorrow I’ll begin putting together a government that will make British Columbia better.

It’s been seven weeks since election day. The Lieutenant Governor  wanted to know if the continuity of government was going to be here. I assured her I would do my level best to see that continuity continues.

I’m grateful that today we were able to demonstrate in the legislature that the the Green and NDP alliance when it comes to matters of confidence is strong and that we can work together, not just as Green and NDP but Liberals as well. To make sure we have the services that we all depend upon.

I’ts been an extraordinary time for staff at Government House and for her Honour. We want to make sure, and she wanted to make sure (in speaking to the Premier and to me), that the continuity of government was going to be there.

And the systems and structures that we hold so dear here in BC were going to be in good hands. And I assured her that I would do my level best to make sure that continuity continues.

There’s an enormous amount of work to do. It’s been 16 years since there’s been a transition in govt. Sixteen years of challenges that have been created for many many people, challenges that won’t be fixed over night.

I want to focus as quickly as possible on putting together a cabinet and government structures. So that we can get moving on issues that matter to people. The fentanyl crisis needs immediate education, and the softwood lumber agreement needs immediate attention, as does the public education system.

We discussed the configuration of the Legislature – there are 87 members just elected, 26 for the first time, of those 14 NDP, 2 Green, and 10 Liberal. It’s an extraordinary opportunity for a new legislature to work together cooperatively.

The Throne speech (just last week) was consistent with values and program plants that I put forward. I’m confident that all members of the house will be able to work together to meet the objectives that all British Columbians want to see.”

Horgan told media that the full transition would occur as soon as possible. “We will get access to government documents tomorrow, to start working on a transition.”

He continued: “We want to swear in a government in the next number of days and then get back to work. It will be as soon as possible.”

He explained that a speaker will be elected by the legislative assembly when the house reconvenes. He said he looks forward to talking to Christy Clark as soon as possible.


BC NDP Leader John Horgan in the BC Legislature last week.

Thursday, June 29 ~ VICTORIA.  BC NDP Leader John Horgan (Leader of the Official Opposition) arrived at Government House around 7:40 pm this evening, presumably to meet with Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon.

This follows Guichon’s hour-long meeting with BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark whose government lost at confidence vote in the BC Legislature around 5:30 pm this evening. Clark simply said afterward that the Lieutenant Governor had “retired to make her decision”.

Horgan could very well be the next Premier of BC. A coalition with the Greens could last a while, or another election could happen soon.

Update to come.


A confidence vote in the BC Legislature failed today, leaving options for Lt Governor to decide upon.

Thursday, June 29 ~ VICTORIA. The Yea’s have it! A confidence vote in the BC Legislature has failed.  Then the house was adjourned. All of this ahead of 5:30 pm (Pacific Time).

After 16 years and two months in power in Canada’s western-most province, the BC Liberals have lost the confidence of the legislature.

Premier Christy Clark now heads to Government House to meet with BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, to say she has lost the confidence of the house.

A decision could be known as soon as 6 pm this evening, as to whether John Horgan will be asked to lead the province as the first NDP Premier in 16 years, or whether an election will be called.

As summarized by the Globe and Mail this evening, the premier had three options going into that meeting: request an election; advise the Lieutenant-Governor to ask the Opposition New Democrats to form government; or simply resign without offering any advice.

Premier Christy Clark (BC Liberal), BC NDP Leader John Horgan, and BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver were present for the vote. All 87 MLAs were in the house today for the vote. A motion by NDP Leader John Horgan, which said “the present government does not have the confidence of this House,” passed 44-42. All MLAs voted along party lines, i.e. all NDP and Green members of the legislature voted in favour, and all Liberals voted against.

Christy Clark arrives at Government House after the non-confidence vote.

This outcome could give the BC NDP and BC Greens a chance to govern as a coalition, based on their 57% popular vote achievement in the May 9 election. Those two parties — who claim the progressive vote — signed an agreement between themselves at the end of May, which was delivered to Guichon for her consideration.

Or, at the discretion of the Lieutenant Governor, the House (now adjourned) could be dissolved and another election called. That decision might be based on the inherent instability of neither setup (the now dismissed BC Liberals with 44 seats, or a presumed 44 seat setup comprised of 41 NDP and 3 Greens). A speaker has to be appointed from the governing side of the house. That would leave a NDP/Green coalition with still 43 seats, one short of a majority.

This entire scenario has left British Columbians without a get-to-work government since April 11 when the Writ was dropped to hold the May 9 election. In addition to the political instability of that, there has been time for many people with vested interest in maintaining a BC Liberal government to sort out their plans.

According to various sources, Elections BC has already been setting up locations to operate as voting stations during the month of August.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan tweeted after the vote: “Today’s vote is a step towards a new government that will put people first. We’re ready to work hard for the people of British Columbia.”

BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver issued a statement following the house adjournment this afternoon: “We are encouraged that the BC Liberals have indicated their support for many of the policy priorities outlined in our agreement with the BC NDP. This is an historic opportunity for all 87 MLAs to work together to address the most pressing issues facing our province. Our caucus looks forward to working with our colleagues on both sides of the house in a productive and collaborative new government.”

Christy Clark has served as BC’s 35th premier since 2011.

It’s rare that a Lt Gov (representative of the Queen) is put in a position to make such a weighty decision. All of the election and legislative process coming down to the decision of one person.

Green MLA Sonia Furstenau has tweeted in the period after 6 pm during which everyone is awaiting the decision of the Lt Gov: “It is my hope that 51 days after the #bcelxn, the LG affords the @bcndp and @BCGreens the opportunity to govern.”


Monday, June 26 ~ VICTORIA. The non-confidence vote has been scheduled for Thursday in the BC Legislature but that didn’t stop the NDP from asking the vote to be pulled up to today. It will still be on Thursday, probably around 5:30 pm.

Premier Christy Clark said a few times in the Legislature today that “no one wants an election” (i.e. again so soon).

Meanwhile, the BC Liberals saw two motions defeated by the NDP and Greens in the legislature today: one that would have given official party status to the Greens and another that would ban big money from politics. But the NDP-Green coalition would not be tricked by the last-minute about-face in BC Liberal policy attempts, and held firm.

BC NDP Leader and Leader of the Official Opposition, John Horgan reiterated how the majority of British Columbians voted for parties that would pro-actively represent the policies and values that the BC Liberals brought forward only this week for the first time.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said in a release today: “British Columbians are tired of these partisan games and attempted power plays.”

Weaver said: “Today, the BC Liberals surprised us with a vote to award the BC Green Caucus official party status. Moments earlier I spoke with the media and made it clear that our Caucus will not debate legislation until the confidence of the house has been tested.”

“The Premier has been clear that she wants to follow procedure and test confidence of the house,” Weaver continued. “She has now had more than six weeks to do so and yet continues to delay. If she is serious about acting in the best interests of British Columbians, there is nothing stopping the BC Liberal caucus from voting to test confidence of the house immediately.”

“The BC Green caucus has committed to act on principle, and will continue to do so going forward,” Weaver concluded.


 

Monday, June 26 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries has issued an update on two vessels out of service.

Southern Gulf Islands Service

  • BC Ferries announced today that the Queen of Nanaimo remains out of service on the Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands route. Repairs progress on control issues for the starboard controllable pitch propeller. Specialized technicians and engineers are working around the clock to complete the repairs. As a result, the Queen of Nanaimo’s sailings have been cancelled until the end of day Thursday, June 29. The newest vessel in the fleet, Salish Eagle, will provide over 50% capacity to this route while these repairs are completed on the Queen of Nanaimo.
  • BC Ferries has added 12 additional sailings above the service provided by the Salish Eagle. These sailings will be offered on Tuesday, June 27, Wednesday, June 28 and Thursday, June 29. Further updates will be provided over the coming days. Additional sailing times: www.bcferries.com
  • In addition to the Salish Eagle, customers can also travel through Swartz Bay to connect to the Southern Gulf Islands. BC Ferries will provide complimentary reservations on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route to assist with travel. Customers are asked to contact BC Ferries’ Customer Care Centre at 1-888-223-3779 to book travel arrangements. Note that customers booked on the Salish Eagle do not need to re-book. To determine which ship you are on, visit www.bcferries.com/current_conditions/actualDepartures.html

 Nanaimo and Langdale Service

  • The Coastal Inspiration, which was also out of service for propeller repairs, departed the dry dock this morning and is expected to be back in service on the Tsawwassen – Duke Point route this Thursday, June 29. The full summer schedule will be in effect for the Canada Day long weekend.

Sunday, June 25 ~ BC. The BC Liberals Throne Speech on June 22 was so-thoroughly-NDP that a snap election this fall would not entirely be a surprise.

Well, ya know, the NDP did ‘put it all out there’, and it got grabbed up. People might be surprised by the recent BC Liberal moves, but not that many are fooled. However, now BC has a bit of a political crap-shoot on its hands.

The NDP are expected to call for a confidence vote in the BC Legislature tomorrow, June 26.

The landscape changes daily, but here’s a bit of analysis, as first published in the June 23, 2017 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News (see pg 1 & 2).


Steve Thomson is the new Speaker in the BC Legislature.

Thursday, June 22 ~ VICTORIA.  This morning in the BC Legislature MLA for Kelowna-Mission Steve Thomson was declared Speaker of the House. He was congratulated by BC Premier Christy Clark, who gave her full support.

BC NDP Leader & Leader of the Official Opposition John Horgan also congratulated Steve Thomson on being declared Speaker. “Among us all, I could not think of a more respected and better person to take on this very important challenge in the days and weeks and months and years ahead,” said Horgan, emphasizing the longevity that he hopes the legislature will maintain.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver afterward issued a statement: “I could not think of a more exceptional choice to guide the business of the legislature. Mr. Thomson has the respect of all the MLAs in the legislature and brings experience, dignity and honour to his new position.”

There are 87 seats in the BC Legislature. The appointment of a BC Liberal MLA to the Speaker’s chair leaves the BC Liberals with 42 voting seats in this 41st session of the BC Parliamentary Session, compared to 41 on the NDP side of the house, and three green. If the NDP and Greens vote as a block, they would have 44 votes, a majority.

This first day back of the BC Legislative session continues at 2 pm today, June 22, with delivery of the Throne Speech by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon at www.ThroneSpeechBC.ca .

This morning’s session archive can be viewed at: https://www.leg.bc.ca/documents-data/broadcasts-and-webcasts


Wednesday, June 21 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries is doing their usual add-on of additional sailings for the busy summer travel season. Extra sailings will be on routes serving Vancouver-Victoria (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay) and Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, as well as the inter-island routes.

Fare promotions this summer include a break on the rate for private passenger vehicles longer than 20 ft (that’s to Oct 1), and passenger vehicle and driver fares at $39, $49, and $59 on select morning/evening sailings (to Sept 15).


 

Wednesday, June 21 ~ VANCOUVER. Today BC Premier Christy Clark will address a BC Liberal Women’s lunch at the Century Plaza Hotel in downtown Vancouver at noon.  Media has been advised that her address will provide a preview of the BC Liberal Government’s renewed plan for BC.


Wednesday, June 21 ~ NATIONAL – from the west coast.   It’s finally the first day of summer, which seems to have taken longer to arrive due to a dreary long winter and a spring with much more rain than usual. It’s almost as if winter lasted right up until it became summer!

The summer solstice officially marks the first day of summer. This year the solstice arrived at 9:24 pm Pacific Time last night on June 20, making today June 21 the first full day of summer.

On the west side of Vancouver Island it was also quite a windy day yesterday, as if to usher in summer with a bang and with a reminder that the climate is not following stable patterns as it used to.

For health in summer, people are reminded to wear sunscreen for their skin when outdoors, and UV-protective eyewear. Remember to stay hydrated and wear a hat when exposed to sunlight.

Most people’s veggie and herb gardens are well underway already. But now that warm weather is assured it’s a good time for planting any remaining vegetable or herb plants as well as flowers.

On the national political scene, Prime Minister Justice Trudeau has renamed National Aboriginal Day — as recognized each year at the summer solstice —  as National Indigenous Peoples Day.


Transmission tower in Langford needs relocation in order to expand Westshills Stadium. [West Shore Voice News 2017]

Saturday, June 17 ~ LANGFORD.  EXCLUSIVE TO WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS. BC NDP Leader John Horgan stands behind Langford for getting a BC Hydro transmission line moved, facilitating community group.

Relocating one hydro pole in Langford could open up exponential growth for the City of Langford and the west shore region. As outlined in the June 2 issue of West Shore Voice News, a transmission tower with 230 kV lines presently stands in a spot where Langford wants to build more seating at Westhills Stadium.

Expanded stadium seating would facilitate a host of new opportunities including MLS soccer, football training camps and big concerts. It would be a powerful driver to bring people into the heart of Langford. Doubling the capacity of Westhills would make that venue really special to the community, is the Langford view. That’s the dream. And the work is underway to make it happen.

City of Langford Mayor Stew Young {West Shore Voice News Photo 2017]

“We’re hoping that BC Hydro can donate half the cost of moving the pole and lines,” says Langford Mayor Stew Young. “It’s an important project for Langford,” he says. “Relocating the pole and expanding Westhills Stadium seating capacity would help ensure Women’s Rugby Sevens stays in Langford and allow for other types of sports teams and exciting events to happen, including the potential Commonwealth Games. To this end, “we’re looking to BC Hydro to be a community partner.”

Langford engineering staff explained this week that receiving an updated quote from BC Hydro that has accurate and realistic data is an important step to move the exciting project forward in a timely manner. The last quote was provided in 2014, and it requires fresh costing and possibly fresh eyes to the available technical options. In 2014, construction costs were at first outlined by BC Hydro as $1.5 to $3 million with actual constructions costs around $100,000 to 150,000 per pole, say Langford municipal engineers. Then $4,135,161 was provided in December 2014 as a high-level cost estimate (i.e. not every detail yet considered) to move the transmission tower. BC Hydro presented that cost as variable… could go up by 50% or be less by 35%.

BC Hydro staff have said that in order to provide a “confident cost estimate” they would need to perform a detailed engineering study to identify risks and impact and the need for geotechnical surveys. To produce what BC Hydro calls a “required conceptual study” would take about three to four months. That would push the construction phase quite a bit further along. Construction in the wet winter season is more challenging (and would possibly be avoided), and thus the spring-summer sports season looms for 2018 and 2019. Not to mention the time crunch if planning to include the Langford-based stadium in Victoria’s bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan, Leader of the Official Opposition

For BC Hydro, the project to relocate a tower that carries a transmission line (necessitating adjustments to other in-sequence structures) would be a relatively large and complex undertaking, utilizing many areas of staffing, technical expertise and equipment, with scheduling around other work. BC Hydro wants $75,000 from the City of Langford to produce the required conceptual study, before anything can get going with the project.

So it’s just lucky for Langford and the west shore region that BC NDP Leader John Horgan — who within a few weeks is expected to be the new BC Premier after things shake down in setup of a new BC Government — is of Langford.

“I’ve spoken with Langford Mayor Young about the pole relocation for the past couple of years. I’ve also worked with him in approaching the Minister of Energy at the time, urging government to work with the city to get that done,” John Horgan told West Shore Voice News on June 16.

“But they’ve just been met with opposition. So that’s an issue. I want to pick up locally with BC Hydro right away. We have other issues around BC Hydro of course,” said Horgan. “Rates have gone up over the past number of years with the prospect of more increases going forward. We’re going to freeze those rate increases for a year while we get our heads around energy supply, including where the Site C hydroelectric project fits into that. That can only be paid for by taxpayers.”

Back to moving the pole in Langford: “That’s also going to be paid for by the taxypayers. How do we work with the City of Langford, who are anxious to do it – and how do it for as little as possible. It wouldn’t be as costly as Hydro is making it out to be,” says John Horgan. “Langford engineers have come up with solutions that are far less costly than the one Hydro is proposing,” Horgan says.

“I don’t want to get into this too deeply until I’ve had a briefing from BC Hydro. I want to hear the real reasons that BC Hydro is not moving on this. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t though. The public benefit is significant. It’s in the interest of Hydro to come up with a better reason… or at least itemize the costs of making this move in a way that the public can understand,” Horgan said on June 16.

“BC Hydro should have to defend their decisions, not just put them out there and say ‘if you want more information send me more money’. That’s outrageous,” said Horgan about the $75,000 price tag that would be required of Langford to get a freshly-costed conceptual report ahead of any detailed project planning or construction.

“We’re looking to BC Hydro to be a community partner by providing an updated quote that has accurate and realistic data,” says Mayor Young, calling that “an important step to move this exciting project forward in a timely manner”.
Langford has even come up with some other ideas, such as relocating the tower to the middle of road with a roundabout around it. That would reduce the transmission line span (instead of going further across the street), as explained by Langford engineers.

Langford has applied for a $6 million UBCM sport infrastructure strategic priorities grant to help with the cost of expanding stadium seating capacity and the costs surrounding that.

“And so ‘getting to yes’ is the way we need to go with this project,” Stew Young said this week, in his trademark style over 25 years of coming up with creative solutions and partnerships to achieve larger goals for his town.


Wednesday, June 14 ~ BC. Coastal Naturalists are on board again this summer on BC Ferries.

BC Ferries is again operating their Coastal Naturalist Program on select vessels this summer. On the Vancouver-Victoria route (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay) and Vancouver-Nanaimo route (Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay), naturalists will engage with customers during 20-minute presentations, June 28 through September 4.

About 150,000 passengers participate in these presentations each year, and this is the 12th year. Again this year, travellers on BC Ferries can learn about the ocean, BC’s unique wildlife and marine life, coastal, nautical and cultural history.

The service is provided in partnership with Parks Canada. There is free entry to all of Parks Canada places in 2017.

The info sessions will be presented seven days a week on these vessels: Spirit of British Columbia, Spirit of Vancouver Island, Coastal Celebration, Queen of New Westminster, Coastal Renaissance, and Queen of Oak Bay. The Coastal Naturalist schedule is at www.bcferries.com/onboard-experiences/Coastal_Experiences

The educational backgrounds of these young naturalists can be an inspiration to high school graduates of 2017!

  • Michelle – Vancouver Island University grad (Anthropology and Geography)
  • Katie – BA in Environmental Studies & French, passion for sea slugs
  • Rachel – double major in Environmental Studies & Geography, in 4th year at UVic
  • Colin – sciences at Thompson Rivers University, and now in the education program at UVic
  • Hilary – finishing M.Sc. at Thompson Rivers university studying intertidal animals
  • Janna – studying Natural Resource Sciences at Thompson Rivers University
  • Jessica – 3rd year Psychology student at UBC with a focus on mental health
  • Joe – Bachelor in Environment and Health Studies from York University; plus Applied Coastal Ecology at Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert

Monday, June 12 ~ VICTORIA.  Today at Government House, Premier Christy Clark and her Executive Council were formally sworn in by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon.

“Our province needs a strong economy, one capable of supporting the services and high quality of life that British Columbians expect and deserve,” said Premier Clark. “But the public has also said they want us to do things differently to address areas that impact their lives and their families every day – this new cabinet reflects that message.”

The Executive Council reflects modern, diverse British Columbia. Its 22 members include:
* Thirteen men and nine women.
* Ten ministers from Metro Vancouver/Fraser Valley, 12 from Northern BC, Vancouver Island, and the BC Interior.
* Three who use wheelchairs.
* Five new ministers, including British Columbia’s first elected Indigenous cabinet minister with a portfolio.

“The provincial election made two things clear: British Columbians want a government that will work across party lines, and one that will bridge the divide between urban and rural British Columbians,” Premier Clark said.

The executive council is comprised of:

  • John Rustad – Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. Has served as Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation since June 2013.
  • Andrew Wilkinson – Attorney General and Minister of Justice. Previously served as Minister of Advanced Education, and Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services.
  • Norm Letnick – Minister of Agriculture. Has served as Minister of Agriculture since April 2014.
  • Stephanie Cadieux – Minister of Children and Family Development. Has served as Minister of Children and Family Development since 2009.
  • Mike Bernier – Minister of Education. Has served as Minister of Education since July 2015.
  • Mary Polak – MInister of Health. Previously, she served as the Minister of Environment, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Minister of Children and Family Development and Responsible for Child Care, Minister of Healthy Living and Sport, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for the Conversation on Health.
  • Michael de Jong – Minister of Finance. A seven-term MLA, he has served as Minister of Finance since 2012. He previously served as Minister of Health, Attorney General, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Minister of Labour and Citizens’ Services, and Minister of Forests.
  • Steve Thomson – Has served as Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations since 2011.
  • Donna Barnett -Minister of State for Rural Economic Development. Was re-elected to represent Cariboo-Chilcotin in 2017. She has served as Minister of State for Rural Economic Development since 2016.
  • Teresa Wat – Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism. She has served as Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism since 2013.
  • Shirley Bond – Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour.  A five-term MLA, She has served as Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour since 2013.
  • Mike Morris – Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. He has served as Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General since December 2015.
  • Coralee Oakes – Minister of Small Business, Red-Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch. She has served as Minister of Small Business, Red-Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch since July 2015.
  • Rich Coleman – Minister of Energy and Mines. A six-term MLA, Coleman has served as Deputy Premier and Minister of Natural Gas Development Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas and Minister Responsible for Housing, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Minister Responsible for Housing, Minister of Housing and Social Development and Minister of Forests and Range.
  • Michelle Stilwell – Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation.  She has served as Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation since February 2015.
  • Todd Stone – Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.  He has served as Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure since 2013.
  • Ellis Ross – Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing. In 2012, Ross was appointed by Premier Clark as the inaugural Chair of the Aboriginal Business and Investment Council.
  • Jas Johal – MInister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services.  Represents the new riding of Richmond-Queensborough.
  • Sam Sullivan – Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. was re-elected to represent Vancouver-False Creek in 2017.
  • Jordan Sturdy – Minister of Environment. was re-elected to represent West Vancouver-Sea to Sky in 2017.
    First elected in 2013, Sturdy previously served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment, chair of the Climate Leadership Team, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
  • Linda Reid – Minister of Advanced Education. First election in 1991, she is BC’s longest-serving current MLA, and the longest-serving female MLA in BC history. Reid previously served as speaker of the legislative assembly from 2013 to 2017.Parliamentary Secretaries
  • Jane Thornthwaite – Parliamentary Secretary for Child Mental Health and Anti-Bullying to the Minister of Children and Family Development
  • John Yap – Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform Policy to the Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for Liquor
  • Darryl Plecas – Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors to the Minister of Health
  • Simon Gibson – Parliamentary Secretary for Independent Schools to the Minister of Education
  • John Martin – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
  • Laurie Throness – Parliamentary Secretary for Corrections to the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
  • Greg Kyllo – Parliamentary Secretary for the BC Jobs Plan to the Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training.
  • Dan Ashton – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance
  • Linda Larson – Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Education to the Minister of Education
  • Marvin Hunt – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
  • Michael Lee – Parliamentary Secretary for Housing Affordability to the Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing
  • Joan Isaacs – Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education to the Minister of Education
  • Doug Clovechok – Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier

Sunday, June 11 ~ NATIONAL.  National Blood Donor week is coming up June 12 to 16, and right in the middle of that — on Wednesday June 14 — is National Blood Donor Day.

Leading up to that, Canadian Blood Services (CBS) has launched what they say is a world’s first among national blood operators by introducing a chat bot to engage donors on Facebook Messenger. This new tool is an innovative effort to engage younger audiences in a lifetime of blood donation and to promote the constant need for blood.

“The chat bot is a fun interactive tool that will attract new, young, and lifelong donors, at a time when the blood supply needs a boost to prepare for summer,” said Mark Donnison, vice-president of donor relations.

The chat bot will help users on Facebook Messenger learn more about the donation process and the people who are helped by donations. It will also encourage appointment bookings online or through the National Contact Centre.

This lead in digital engagement was developed in partnership with the team at EY digital consultants. “The chat bot is one more example of our commitment to embrace new and innovative digital technologies to reach and engage donors, whether they are new or returning.” Donors can meet the chat bot by messaging the Canadian Blood Services Facebook page.

CBS manages the national supply of blood, blood products and stem cells, and related services for all Canadian provinces and territories (except Quebec).


MILLENNIAL FOCUS
~~ It ain’t the way it used to be, baby! ~~
The ‘gig economy’ is here to stay
Editorial by Mary P Brooke, Editor, West Shore Voice News | Friday, June 9, 2017

Most people over the age of 35 can remember mustering up their courage and finding their first job right out of high school or university, and full independent adult life generally got underway. Not so for the Millennials.

For those under 30, the ‘gig economy’ built of creative offbeat endeavours (many of those online), part-time, contract, consulting and any other sort of non-permanent, no-benefits sources of income is the patchwork quilt of building an income package. Sustaining it is another matter, especially in urban areas of BC where housing/rental costs are far out of proportion to personal incomes. And here’s something not to underestimate… finding an employer who ‘gets’ the Millennial mind. Not to be pampered, but to be optimally functional.

All of this is different from being an entrepreneur — not everyone has that gene. Those of the entrepreneurial spirit — if adequately financed — will do alright in this new gig economy. But for the rest of the youth, it’s a whirlwind roll of the dice to be blown out of high school or university into a world without a pattern in which to create a foothold. Not to be overly dramatic, but for many of these teens-into-adulthood it’s like jumping out of an airplane at 30,000 feet without a parachute.

This generation has the smarts (intellectual, intuitive and digital), and beneath that they will certainly now be building up the emotional force that comes from being deprived of what might have been theirs. Opportunities are still out there but must be called forth with a willpower not taught in schools. It’s a rough world these Millennials have found themselves tossed into, tougher than perhaps they were set up for by today’s ultra-digital, mobile, data-cloud youth reality.

And on the other side of all this are the parents who — if they are able — and finding themselves with any heart at all, are helping out their grown children here and there, or more. In the past 30 years, wealth that made its way rapidly to the top for some has left the rest of us pinned to grinding wheels that provide only the occasional jump-off point. Many are without adequate retirement resource. What’s worse, is those who do try to jump from the pit onto the fast-moving train may falter trying, and badly. Worst case scenarios produce homelessness, drug addiction and a myriad of mental health issues.

In addition to what government should be doing, every stable business and employed person owes it to the next generation — the future of our world — to consciously give a thoughtful helpful hand to the youth of today who are the masters of tomorrow’s world (if not in wealth, in force). ~ Editor

[As first published in the June 2, 2017 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News]

Millennial contributions welcome to our news pages and social media channels. Email to news@westshorevoicenews.com or direct-message on Twitter @WestShoreVOICE


 

The swearing-in of BC NDP MLAs was livestreamed June 8 on the John Horgan Facebook page.

Thursday, June 8 ~ VICTORIA. As of today June 8, all 87 MLAs have now been sworn in at the BC Legislature.

Yesterday the three Green MLAs were sworn in, and today the 43 BC Liberal MLAs and 41 BC NDP MLAs took part in a swearing-in ceremony at the legislature.

The Legislature will be recalled on June 22. If a confidence vote fails for Premier Christy Clark, it’s likely BC will finally get NDP Premier John Horgan.

Read our editorial analysis on how things might shake down in a minority government scenario, page 2 in the June 2, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


Construction continues along Hwy 1 for the McKenzie Interchange. [Photo by West Shore Voice News]

Thursday, June 8 ~ VICTORIA AREA. The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has issued a traffic advisory about McKenzie Avenue and Highway 1 construction closures coming up next week.

Between Monday June 12 and Friday June 16, travellers are advised of overnight closures, detours and delays on McKenzie Avenue and Highway 1 as part of the McKenzie interchange construction.

The following closures will allow crews to install the Galloping Goose Trail bridge over McKenzie Avenue and the temporary pedestrian/cyclist bridge over Highway 1:

> Monday, June 12, from 11 p.m. to Tuesday, June 13, at 5:30 a.m. McKenzie Avenue will be closed between Burnside Road W and Highway 1.
Tuesday, June 13, from 11 p.m. to Wednesday, June 14, at 5:30 a.m. McKenzie Avenue will be closed between Burnside Road W and Highway 1.
> Friday, June 16, from midnight to 5:30 a.m. Highway 1 will be closed between McKenzie Avenue / Admirals Road and the Helmcken interchange.

MOTI says that every effort will be made to open these routes as quickly as possible, as soon as it is safe for both the construction crews and the travelling public. The work schedule may change due to weather and other conditions.

All travellers including drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are advised to plan alternative routes and to allow for extra time. Please also obey traffic control personnel and construction speed limits, and watch for workers and highway message boards. For up-to-date traffic advisories: www.drivebc.ca

The interchange, when complete, is expected to improve travel times between core areas, Saanich and the western communities of Colwood, Langford and beyond to Sooke.


Wednesday, June 7 ~ BC.  BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver has issued the following statement in response to media reports of apparent uncertainty over the future of education funding. This is upon BCTF President Glen Hansman yesterday expressing concern about uncertainty over who will form the next government, and feeling this has left teachers and school trustees in limbo.

“I’m surprised to hear that our public educators are facing uncertainty with regards to their funding,” said Weaver. “This uncertainty is unnecessary, since all three parties in this election committed to the $360 million classroom enhancement fund at a minimum. I reaffirm the BC Greens Caucus’ commitment to this funding and call on the leaders of the BC Liberals and the BC NDP to do the same.

“After a lengthy and expensive court battle with the incumbent government, our teachers deserve to focus solely on their students. The minority government that British Columbians voted for presents an opportunity to do politics differently. This is an opportunity to depoliticize our public education system and put the interests of our students front and centre where they belong.”


Sunday, June 4 ~ BC. BC Premier Christy Clark has issued a statement today, regarding the attack June 3 in the London Bridge tourist area of London, UK. One woman from British Columbia was killed in the terrorist attack that was done with a vehicle plowing into people followed by assaults with a knife.

“Yesterday, terrorists carried out several attacks in the heart of London. One of the victims was from British Columbia.

“The individuals who carry out these acts of hate want to change us. They want to sow fear and division. Ultimately, they want us to turn on each other. They will never succeed.

“As her family and province mourn, we must never forget who we are – and the diversity that makes us strong.

“My thoughts, and those of all British Columbians, are with Chrissy Archibald’s family, her friends, and all those who knew and loved her.”

 


 

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: June 2017

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: April & May 2017

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: March 2017

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: February 2017

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: January 2017

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: October through December 2016

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: September 2016

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: August 2016

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: July 2016

BC & NATIONAL Breaking News Archive: February through June 2016

 


Contributions of articles, insights and photos welcome. Write to: editor@westshorevoicenews.com or tel/text 250-217-5821. Twitter: @WestShoreVOICE .