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Orr, perhaps not.

1 June 2017

Former Liberal MLA Sheila Orr penned “Comment: Green-Liberal alliance would have served B.C. better”

My response, “Orr, perhaps not” in … let’s see now … how about green! 🙂

As a partisan B.C. Liberal, I obviously find the agreement made between the Greens and the New Democrats hard to swallow. No doubt.

Let me explain why. I do not think that Green Leader Andrew Weaver or his two rookie colleagues have really thought out or understand the urban-rural split. Weaver and his “rookies” didn’t think or understand? This is off to a good start.

This issue is about the future of the province, and this is why a Liberal-Green agreement would have made common sense. It would have been better for the province. It’s fair and balanced. Apparently Weaver and his rookies are not smart enough to know this is about the future of the province, nor are they sensible, fair or balanced.

An NDP-Green alliance concentrates the decision-making power in the hands of the urban centres. Lots of lattes will be consumed whilst sitting around fancy, warm boardrooms making decisions, while the Tim Hortons crowd lining up in their trucks at 6 a.m., going to work, will be left out in the freezing cold. Because no one in the Lower Mainland or on the Island gets up and goes to work in the morning. And the world is a freezing cold, dreary place if you’re a Liberal.

If you live beyond Hope, your closest cabinet minister will be hundreds of kilometres away. Contrarily, a Liberal-Green agreement would have seen a balance between those in the North, the Interior and urban areas. A Liberal-Green alliance would have made for good public policy, and represent almost 60 per cent of the vote. Orr forgets Liberal MLAs in Parksville-Qualicum, Richmond North Centre, Delta South, West Vancouver Sea to Sky, Vancouver Capilano, North Vancouver Seymour, Coquitlam Burke-Mountain, Surrey-White Rock, Surrey South, Surrey Cloverdale, Langley, Langley East, Abbotsford West, Abbotsford South, Abbotsford Mission, Chilliwack, and Chilliwack-Kent who are at least geographically not beyond Hope.

Orr also seems to overlook North Island, North Coast, Stikine, Kootenay West and Nelson-Creston that went NDP and where I would image a great many residents would not take kindly to being referred to as over-comfortable latte sippers. Also that the GreenDP represents almost 60% of the vote.

I agree with the Greens: It is time for democratic reform. However if proportional representation is to be considered, then it can only be decided by referendum. So at what time while Liberals had a majority was there any effort to get this done?

In 2009, 60 per cent of the public rejected the idea. If the Green members really want this to happen, how do they think they can sell it to the province when they have no connection to the up-country parts? Interestingly, surveys by the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of B.C. indicate that it was Liberal voters who rejected the STV in 2009. In 2017 60 per cent of the public voted against the BC Liberals and for parties that did promise electoral reform. Guess we’ll see.

It’s that huge area that favours resource development, which creates the wealth that we spend here on the coast. This is where B.C.’s wealth comes from. I don’t see huge industrial trucks pulling out from the mines and going through Kerrisdale or Oak Bay on their way to market. I’ll just leave this here…

Main sources of GDP in British Columbia

Main sources of GDP in British Columbia

Equally important is to have a democratic-reform agenda to reform the legislature.

For example, if free votes were allowed in the legislature as part of a working agreement, then the Greens and Liberals could have voted for or against each other’s legislation and policy, other than on the few confidence motions required to provide government stability.

As an MLA, I disliked the pressure to go along with the party discipline that forces votes on every issue, even when the issue was at odds with constituents’ interests, or personal beliefs. That’s how it works today, and has for a long time in B.C.

Here was a good opportunity to change the practice, and to stop the accepted practice of every vote being along party lines. If most votes were votes of conscience or supportive of constituents’ needs, the atmosphere of the legislature would become more collaborative, and that would work better for all of us. This is the perfect time to start this change.

This reform would have differentiated parties on key issues and let the voters see clearly where they stand with each party, and yet still supply stability and allow parties to present an alternative to the public in the next election; the Greens just blew that opportunity. They blew that opportunity? Why can’t that practice change now? And what did Orr do to change that? When did the Liberals bring it up while in majority? Looking forward to Orr’s support for the GreenDP to achieve it.

The Liberals and Greens could have worked together on other areas, indeed, they did in the last parliament. But a healthy disagreement from time to time presents choice, and that spawns good public policy.

Yes, some cynics and New Democrats will say I am just rationalizing so the Liberals can stay in power after 16 years. But even if I weren’t connected politically, why would I want say goodbye to a government that has offered myself and my family a good economy and jobs? Perhaps because extractive industry isn’t all BC has to offer. Perhaps because there are other values as well that enter into the equation for most people. Perhaps because most British Columbians can see that the path we’ve been on is not working for most British Columbians, and was not sustainable in any sense of the word.

The Greens could have embraced how well the province is doing and worked to implement their policies in an already thriving economy. They chose another path. Like forward instead of backward looking.

Everyone hates it when we harp on about the awful NDP 1990s (maybe because a lot of it’s bullshit), and I don’t think Weaver and his team really remember or understood those days. They are about to find out how quickly things, especially spending, can get out of control — and they have agreed to support it. Again with the dismissive and demeaning. Weaver and his team, silly young pups that they are, just don’t understand. And I’ll just leave this here…

With the NDP-Green alliance, the views of Vancouver and other urban areas will dominate. The rest of the province will be alienated. See forgotten Liberal and NDP ridings above.

Politics is about making choices. An agreement between the Liberals and the Greens would not have been such a hard pill to swallow. It was the right medicine. It might have been laced with fentanyl.


Emission Reductions; if not now, when?

19 January 2014

From a draft report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body that summarizes current science and is often criticized for being too conservative:

“Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising, according to a draft United Nations report. Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies, experts found.”

So they’re telling us that before today’s babies graduate from high school the problem of climate change may be unsolvable.

Know any babies? Doing something about it today?

#nopipelines #notankers no #fracking

Blowing Smoke into the Bee Hive

31 May 2013

The BC Liberal written submission to the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel is all over the news and social media today. There is a lot of rejoicing; Northern Gateway is dead!
pipe monster
I hate to dampen people’s spirits, but I have to insist that this is one case where you had best not consider the enemy dead until you have carved its heart out with your own hand.

The BC Liberals have not indicated that they will withdraw BC from the joint review process. A process that has already seen its deadline retroactively shortened and final decision-making authority taken from it by the Harper government. Harper’s people continue to call the pipeline a national imperative.

The BC Liberals have made their five conditions;

1. Completing the environmental review process. In the case of Enbridge, that would mean a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceed.

NEB doesn’t reject pipelines, they put conditions on them. Even in the extreme case of a rejection by the NEB, Harper’s Cabinet has the power to overrule the Joint Review.

2. Deploying world-leading marine oil-spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments.

They always claim to have ‘world-leading’ bla, bla. There’s nothing quantifiable here. BPs world-leading use of dispersants seems to have done more harm than good aside from the benefit in the PR battle of having less oil visible. Meanwhile, as the Watershed Sentinel points out “DFO’s teams of experts on ocean contaminants in marine mammals, on marine oil pollution, and on oil spill countermeasures have all been disbanded. Gone too is the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research – the only agency with the ability to adequately assess offshore projects. Nine out of 11 DFO marine science libraries will be shut.”

How laugable does that and the all too frequent similar news make recent federal claims that the pipeline decision will be “science based”?

3. Using world-leading practices for land oil-spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines.

See #2

4. Addressing legal requirements regarding aboriginal and treaty rights, and ensuring First Nations provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project.

Addressing legal requirements to whose standards? The gap between industry’s idea of consultation and First Nations’ idea of consultation is notorious. “Ensuring opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project” What is that? Some jobs? It does not say “First Nations consent”.

5. Ensuring British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.

Read “Give us some money”. Considering what’s at stake, they’ll put up some money, or China will.

No one seems to be talking about the New West Partnership and its Energy Memorandum of Understanding that commits the three western-most provinces to “begin working immediately on a number of projects, including developing a joint strategy to target opportunities in Asia, and improving consultation with industry.” (industry isn’t consulted enough?)

Just two days ago during a trip to Alberta that included a visit to the Tar Sands, BC Environment Minister Terry Lake reiterated that the three New West Partnership premiers would be meeting soon. He said that BC had left “a pathway to yes” open on pipeline projects.

I’ll say they have.

My take on this written submission? Blowing smoke into the bee hive.

I hope I’m wrong.

Salmon Are Sacred

29 May 2013



What does it mean when we say “salmon are sacred”?


Looking at a map of a human, one can show how food is consumed and then carried by the circulatory system to nourish all the cells of the body; the cells that move the body, the cells that sense and make sense of the world, the cells that contribute to reproduction so that life can be renewed and go on.





Looking at a map of the West Coast, one can show how the salmon in the ocean consume food and then carry it as they spawn through the river systems to nourish all the ‘cells’ of this part of the world; the humans, the otters, the eagles, the bears, the wolves, other fish, and the land itself, so that life can be renewed and go on.

If humans left this part of the world, from the Rockies to the coast, the salmon would carry on as they always have, bringing nourishment from the sea to the rivers, lakes, land and all the things that live in and on it. The cycle of the salmon would be as vital to this part of the world as it always has been.

When we say “salmon are sacred”, we are not making it so by our declaration. It is so, with or without us.

Right now the salmon are struggling. Cumulative effects of a range of human-caused stressors threaten the existence of many salmon runs. One thing we can do to help is to support the Spirit of Wild Salmon Gala, a dinner and silent auction being held Saturday, June 1 in Chilliwack.  Information and links to the Spirit of Wild Salmon Gala are available at


Image credits

Human body image

BC lakes map Created by Feydey and released under the GFDL. Underlying data © 2003. Government of Canada with permission from Natural Resources Canada and used under

Five days at Brew Creek

29 January 2013

Brew CreekI just got home after five intense days at the Brew Creek Centre, about 20 km south of Whistler, BC. It was much snowier than this picture, but maybe even more beautiful for it.

I had the fabulous fortune to be invited up there in the company of some amazing people involved in the soon to be world famous Water Wealth Project.

Brew Creek is a beautiful space for gatherings and retreats. The setting is natural and peaceful, the staff unobtrusive yet always at hand to deal with any request. The food was beyond compare in my experience. I never had time to get hungry and it was all so good I was afraid of stepping on the scale when I got home!

It sometimes felt like we were just having a meal, and then a meal, and then a meal…. I suppose because the intensity made the time between meals fly while the relative pause to enjoy those meals made that time stand out. After five days I came home to a digital scale that tells me I’m one pound less than when I left! A testament to eating really healthy food.

“What did you learn?”, you ask. Well, once I’ve reviewed my notes and put some things into practise to really understand them I could tell you what I learned if you have five days to listen to me talk really, really fast! There was some human nature, some history, some technology, some science, some nature. It was wonderful! I learned to value stories more. And maybe to value people more which may make me more immune to the next time someone steps on my toes in one way or another.

I’ve heard these sort of retreats can be energizing. I know that for those five days I stayed up late each evening and woke before my alarm each day, and my first day home stayed up really late and woke before five excited to get going on things. So yes, these sort of retreats are energizing, thanks of course to the hard work of the people who organized the whole thing! If you’re looking for a place to take a group, I’d definitely recommend Brew Creek Centre.

How to recognize radicals who threaten democracy

19 January 2012

how to recognize radicals who threaten democracy

2011 in review

31 December 2011

This is kind of fun. At least for me, and that’s what’s most important, eh?

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 50 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.