Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tieleman on vacation till Sept 14!

I am headed off to Spain for three weeks summer vacation and therefore will not be able to post or moderate comments after today.

My apologies to any ardent commentators - who are always most welcome -but barring exceptional circumstances I will not be accessing my blog until my return on September 14.

Please feel free to post but it will not appear until I return, unless I forego tapas and vino tinto a few times to catch up!
Hasta luego, amigas y amigos!

Dr. Brian Day & Canadian Medical Association declare war on Medicare

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday August 21, 2007

Watch out for new CMA boss


The public has tasted private health care - and they like it.

- Dr. Brian Day, March 30, 2006

Charge! The Canadian Medical Association has declared war on our public health-care system.

And tomorrow, Canada's doctors install as their commander-in-chief the most radical and outspoken health-care privatization advocate in the country.

Dr. Brian Day becomes president of the CMA weeks after the organization representing Canada's physicians said its members should be able to work simultaneously in both the public and private health-care sectors.

That position is so extreme even Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejects it. Last year in a letter to then-Alberta premier Ralph Klein, Harper warned the province to back off the same approach the CMA now favours. And rightly so.

"Dual practice creates conflict of interest for physicians as there would be a financial incentive for them to stream patients into the private portion of their practice," Harper wrote on March 31, 2006. "Furthermore, dual practice legitimizes queue-jumping as it provides an approved mechanism for patients to pay to seek treatment at the front of the line."

But don't expect Day, owner of the controversial private Cambie Surgery Centre, to worry - he has previously argued to "repeal the Canada Health Act" that protects the public system.

And Day has described Medicare, our public health system, as a "Berlin Wall" blocking patients from treatment, and like "Aeroflot" - the former Soviet Union airline.

Fortunately, some doctors disagree.

"As CMA members and physicians, we need to ask our association why, if some physician resources are being underutilized, isn't the CMA advocating for solutions that would increase patient care to all Canadians, on the basis of need, within the public system?" asks Dr. Danielle Martin, chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

And a British organization called the National Health System Consultants' Association wrote to Day last week warning him not to make the same mistakes that England has.

"In closing, we must conclude that neither payment by results, the increased use of the private sector nor the 'patient choice' agenda have proved their worth. On the contrary, they have resulted in a destabilized and damaged public service", Drs. Jacky Davis and Peter Fisher concluded.

Ironically, Canada's doctors chose Day despite the fact that until elected, he had never attended a CMA convention or been involved with the B.C. Medical Association.

Now the radical outsider is in charge and the CMA is pushing for the public to get much more than just a "taste" of health-care privatization. If successful, it will be a bitter one.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Private upscale Arbutus Club takes in garbage for members - anti-poverty group, CUPE trash the service

No trash if you've got cash

Vancouver civic strike


A Vancouver anti-poverty group and the union for city workers are criticizing the upscale private Arbutus Club in Shaughnessy for providing garbage disposal for its members during the current strike.

The Arbutus Club is offering to take two bags of members' garbage twice a week for a fee of $5, according to a members-only website.

But if you want to join the club, talk to your banker - initiation fees are $40,000 plus six per cent GST and additional monthly dues of more than $200 a month.

The news dismays Wendy Pedersen, community organizer of the downtown eastside Carnegie Community Action Project.

"It's really unfair, it's overwhelming. They can get rid of their garbage and we're stuck with mountains of garbage and feces in the alleys," Pedersen told 24 hours.

"I find it a bit hurtful. What we really need is their support."

Barry O'Neill, Canadian Union of Public Employees B.C. president, was angered by the club's service.

"This is for the bluebloods only, eh?" O'Neill said. "Don't these kind of things need business licences? Aren't there health concerns? This is too much."

But Arbutus Club CEO Brent Elkington told 24 hours he was only trying to regulate a situation where members and others were dumping garbage at the Club's front gates.

"We're trying to put some control on something that was already happening," Elkington said.

"We don't want to be involved in a dispute with the city and its workers. We are concerned."

But O'Neill didn't buy the explanation.

"That's nonsense. That's hogwash. Members of the Arbutus Club are dumping garbage at their own front gate?" O'Neill asked.


Elkington said so far Arbutus Club members have not overwhelmed the service.

"Not a huge response but a lot of members are away," he said.

Pedersen said she hoped Arbutus Club members would push the city to negotiate so everyone can have their garbage picked up.

"We really need the Arbutus Club to advocate for people on the downtown eastside and for working people, for the garbage collectors," she said.

O'Neill said his members will be "pretty frustrated to hear about this."

And he questioned how the Arbutus Club is operating.

"Where are they taking the garbage? What do the neighbours think? Can anybody just start collecting garbage?"

Vancouver polling on strike denounced by CUPE, opposition as waste of money while delaying bargaining

City polling its residents about views on strike


Polling firm Ipsos-Reid is conducting a survey of Vancouver residents about the city's contract proposals in the city workers' strike, something their union calls "an absolute waste of money" that could further delay negotiations.

Late yesterday the city confirmed its polling and released results of two questions to 24 hours.
Ipsos-Reid asked: If Vancouver offered city workers a 17.5 per cent wage increase over five years would that be fair and reasonable?

Results showed 89 per cent agreed.

The pollster also asked: Are you concerned about the impact on your city taxes of that wage offer?

Sixty per cent agreed.

City spokesman Jerry Dobrovolny said: "We needed to understand the public's level of tolerance for a settlement that is that high."

But the other questions obtained exclusively by 24 hours included:

- How would you rate the job city managers have done replacing striking workers?

- How much have you been affected by the strike?

- Do you support or oppose the strike action?

Results of answers to those questions were not made available.

Opposition Vision Vancouver councilor Raymond Louie said he's concerned the polling is an expensive public-relations exercise.

"Are we wasting money on a public relations exercise instead of bargaining?" he asked.

"It's an absolute waste of money," says Barry O'Neill, Canadian Union of Public Employees B.C. president. "By the time you tabulate the results you should be at an agreement."


I obtained the questions when called at home by Ipsos-Reid on Wednesday night.

Louie questioned whether Mayor Sam Sullivan was involved.

"Did the mayor direct the pollling?" Louie asked. "Polling is an expensive piece of work. I'm not sure how helpful this exercise is to the situation."

David Hurford, Sullivan’s communications director, said the mayor’s office is not sponsoring the polling but couldn’t say if the city was or if the mayor knew about it when contacted, referring 24 hours to Dobrovolny.

"Politicians do not generally micromanage the city's day-to-day affairs," Hurford said. "The city runs day-to-day affairs regarding the strike and bargaining."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tieleman on CKNW today at 6:35 p.m. on how cabinet shuffles work

I will be interviewed by Gord MacDonald, guest host of The World Today on CKNW AM 980 today at 6:35 p.m. on how cabinet shuffles work, following this week's federal Conservative cabinet shuffle.

Tune in online at www.cknw.com

And go to CKNW's Audio Vault for Gord's interview with Christy Clark, former BC Liberal Deputy Premier and CKNW's newest talk show host starting Monday August 27 at 12:30 p.m. - that interview was Wednesday August 15 at 6:35 p.m.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

KNOW STV says new BC Electoral Boundaries Commission ridings map for Single Transferable Vote shows STV would be disaster

KNOW STV - a group I helped form to fight against the Single Transferable Vote in the 2005 BC referendum on electoral change - has today responded to the report released today by the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission.

The Commission report includes a BC ridings map under a Single Transferable Vote electoral system.

The KNOW STV news release is below.


Wednesday August 15, 2007

KNOW STV says BC Electoral Boundaries Commission ridings map for Single Transferable Vote System shows why voters should vote NO in 2009 referendum – STV unrepresentative and unaccountable

VANCOUVER – A group that successfully opposed the Single Transferable Vote or STV electoral system in the 2005 referendum says today’s release of a report by the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission shows why British Columbians need to vote NO to STV in the 2009 referendum.

KNOW STV Director Andrea Reimer says the ridings proposed under STV would be huge, unrepresentative and unaccountable to voters. And Reimer said many of the ridings outlined by the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission would not provide the fair proportional outcomes that STV supporters claim the system creates.

“The BC Electoral Boundaries Commission has done the people of the province an enormous favour by clearly illustrating exactly why the Single Transferable Vote would be a disaster for British Columbia,” Reimer said. “STV would create giant ridings where many communities would not have local representation and where the MLAs elected would have to serve ridiculously large geographic areas.”

Reimer said that STV would also not provide any real proportional representation for the three proposed North and North Central BC ridings or for ridings in the Columbia-Kootenay or Okanagan-Boundary regions because they would only have two or three MLAs per riding.

“Some voters would be treated like second-class citizens under STV,” Reimer said. ”To get any real degree of proportional representation a riding under STV would need to have a lot more MLAs – but even in Vancouver and Victoria, where they are proposing five or six MLAs, STV is nowhere near as proportional as other electoral systems being considered in places like Ontario or already used elsewhere in the world.”

KNOW STV director Bill Tieleman said the organization, which brought together representatives from a wide range of political backgrounds from NDP to BC Liberal to Green to Social Credit, will once again fight for a NO vote in the referendum, to be held concurrent with the May 12, 2009 provincial election.

“The BC Electoral Boundaries Commission’s proposed STV ridings will make our job a lot easier than in 2005, when no one know what the ridings would look like,” Tieleman said. “Now we can go to voters and explain what would happen to them under STV, and it’s not a pretty picture.”

Tieleman pointed to the Powell River-Sunshine Coast riding, which under STV would be lumped into one huge riding with the north half of Vancouver Island.

“How can Sechelt and Gibsons residents expect accountable representation when they have less than 25% of the votes in this STV riding?” Tieleman asked. “And how can MLAs fairly act on behalf of constituents in a riding that stretches from Port Hardy to Tofino to Campbell River to Powell River to Sechelt? How could constituents even visit the office of their MLAs?”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Turning over UBC Golf Course to Musqueam in treaty deal would be massive giveaway of public assets, green space

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday August 14, 2007

Musqueam deal a mass giveaway


The difference in golf and government is that in golf you can't improve your lie.

- former California governor George Deukmejian

The B.C. Liberal government is planning on another massive giveaway of public assets, land probably worth far in excess of $1 billion.

It will be transformed from pleasant green space into highrise condominiums, townhouses, a shopping centre - maybe even a casino.

Private property developers are already drooling at the profits they stand to make if this 120 acres (48.5 hectares) of prime Vancouver land is opened up for construction.

How could Premier Gordon Campbell get away with such an outrageous deal? By turning the University of B.C. golf course over to the Musqueam Band as part of an aboriginal treaty settlement.

We've seen this movie before. The recent treaty with the Tsawwassen First Nation exempts 511 acres (207 hectares) of prime farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Then the Tsawwassen will sign it over for expansion of the Deltaport container terminal, a key goal of corporations using the port who knew the land would otherwise remain farmland forever.

But the UBC golf course deal may be even more controversial. Longtime Campbell ally and fundraiser Marty Zlotnik, also a Vancouver Park Board commissioner, is actually leading the campaign to stop the golf course giveaway.

Public opposition is so strong that Musqueam Chief Ernie Campbell was forced to say the land would stay as a golf course "until 2033".

But the reality is that there's no way anyone but developers and bulldozers will be on the course right after that.

The Musqueam have longstanding and legitimate land claims, a story I first started covering as a university student reporter 30 years ago. They deserve a fairly negotiated settlement that compensates band members for loss of land and builds economic opportunities.

But turning over 120 acres of publicly owned, green recreational space for what would certainly become housing for the wealthy isn't a good solution for anyone.

The Musqueam people won't be living there, nor will the lion's share of the benefits of development go to them. And they would still have to wait 26 years before selling the course.

Former Musqueam chief Gail Sparrow has criticized the secretive nature of the pending deal and suggested looking for alternative land that could be developed immediately for Musqueam housing and other income. Zlotnik agrees.

One doesn't have to be a golfer to see that the loss of green space to real estate development would be extremely unfortunate.

And another treaty that causes significant community antagonism could lead to major opposition to the tenuous treaty process itself.

Campbell, whose Point Grey riding includes the UBC course, needs to find a much better solution. For more info: www.savethecourse.ca and www.musqueam.bc.ca

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Is Tieleman an "extremist columnist"? Doug McArthur, former Deputy Minister to Glen Clark, appears to think so over Tsawwassen Treaty opposition

Doug McArthur, a former colleague in the office of BC NDP Premier Glen Clark and now a professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University, seems to believe I am an "extremist columnist" causing problems through my opposition to the treaty between the Tsawwassen First Nation and the provincial and federal governments.

In a Vancouver Sun opinion piece today, McArthur blames problems the BC NDP is having with the Tsawwassen treaty on myself and others who put MLAs on the spot over the treaty's exclusion of 207 hectares of protected farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve - one of the key parts of the deal.

"The real source of the trouble and the larger failing was the inability of the NDP caucus, under pressure from a small group of extremist columnists and activists, to understand and accept aboriginal rights and the compromises necessary to achieve treaty settlements," McArthur writes.

"Without this, the political stunt giving rise to the problems now facing the NDP would never have been attempted in the first place," McArthur continues.

McArthur - who fails in the article to even disclose his role as an advisor to the Tsawwassen First Nation and Chief Kim Baird - is dead wrong. NOTE - McArthur told Mike Smyth on Nightline BC Friday that he informed the Sun and they did not include that in his article.

I find it offensive that McArthur can't accept that a principled view other than his own can be legitimate, honestly held and - most importantly - not "extremist".

McArthur has previously used the term "extremist" regarding my views and those of others who oppose the exclusion of prime farmland from the ALR in the Tsawwassen treaty - most notably Richmond Councilor Harold Steves, a former NDP MLA and longtime farmer and agrologist.

On April 19 McArthur and Baird debated Steves and I on the treaty before ratification by the TFN and McArthur said there that: "Extreme positions deny the facts and the law. They also fly in the face of justice."

Let's be clear - both Harold Steves and I support treaties where First Nations wish to negotiate them to end historic injustices.

But negotiation is not capitulation.

I have said that the Tsawwassen treaty is a huge land grab for expansion of the Deltaport terminal, so that containers from China and elsewhere will have a bigger parking lot at the expense of prime farmland that BC desperately needs.

BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell used the Tsawwassen First Nation and this treaty to achieve his goal of Deltaport expansion without having to request the farmlands be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve - a request that would likely have been denied.

The Tsawwassen First Nation will turn their new lands over to Deltaport for a fat cheque worth tens of millions - they will not be using it for farming or anything else.

That's why I've consistently said save the farmland and write a cheque for the TFN members, who would also be better off without further port expansion near their existing lands. Or find another solution that saves the farmland but don't pave it.

The real problem the BC NDP has - contrary to McArthur's misleading article - is that it won't stand up for protecting farmland if it means angering the Tsawwassen First Nation and opposing the treaty on those grounds.

One can support righting historical wrongs without making another one - the permanent loss of farmland for industrial development.

Doug McArthur's position is otherwise - fair enough. But stop throwing the term "extremist" around to describe those who philosophically disagree with you - it demeans those who use it, not the targets.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2nd Green Party leadership candidate opposes Tsawwassen Treaty over farmland exclusion

Damian Kettlewell, candidate for the BC Green Party leadership, has joined fellow candidate Ben West in opposing the treaty between the Tsawwassen First Nation and the provincial and federal governments over exclusion of farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Their position puts them at odds with an offical Green Party news release supporting the treaty and statements by Interim Leader Christopher Ian Bennett, who "applauded" the treaty when it was announced. Both the BC NDP and BC Liberal parties also support the treaty.

In recent email correspondence with this blog Kettlewell first said he welcomed the treaty but later added that he would actually have to oppose it were he a member of the BC Legislature.

"If I were an MLA I would vote against the Tsawwassen Treaty. Removing land from the ALR is the wrong model for First Nations treaty negotiations," Kettlewell wrote me last week.

In an email prior to that response Kettlewell had said:

"It is good to see the Tsawwassen Treaty move ahead. British Columbians need to make progress on our long-outstanding land claims. Like the recent Elaho Valley victory, a compromise was required for a deal to be reached (in the case of the newly-protected Elaho, significant logging continues in the three other valleys of the Stoltmann Wilderness).

However, taking land out of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is an unfortunate component of the Tsawwassen Treaty.

I commend the provincial government for reaching an agreement with the Tsawwassen band, but do not consider removing land from the ALR as a suitable solution for future land claim deals.

Ultimately, BC's best agricultural lands must continue to be preserved for future agricultural purposes - in order to protect our local food security, and to prohibit the economic and energy costs of importing foreign food.

I would encourage the government to explore "Conservation Land Trusts" that transfer deeds into a title-holding organization, which then would lease the land back to interested stake holders. With a trust, the land would no longer be owned by developers or people with an interest in making big profit by flipping it.

You can see an example of a First Nations Land Trust at: www.fnlt.org/contact.html

Ultimately, the Tsawwassen Treaty helps build momentum for our campaign team's goal of completing all BC First Nations treaties by 2015. The provincial government must pursue innovative solutions, and the continued removal of land from the ALR should not be a part of future negotiations."

Kettlewell's website is at: www.damiankettlewell.com

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Vancouver City's failure to understand how to haggle with unionized workers means strike continues into third week

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday August 7, 2007

Art of haggling


BRIAN: (as he puts down 20 shekels) There you are.

HARRY: Wait a moment.

BRIAN: What?

HARRY: We're supposed to haggle.

BRIAN: No, no, I've got to ...

HARRY: What do you mean, no?

- Monty Python's Life of Brian, 1979

As we enter the third week of a strike by Vancouver civic workers, the dispute has taken on the air of a Monty Python comedy skit.

That's because Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, city managers and the Greater Vancouver Regional District's Labour Relations Bureau all don't seem to understand the purpose of negotiations.

You have to haggle - it's actually true. With both sides bargaining and moving closer together, you eventually reach a deal.

Unfortunately, the employer and its representatives have continued to screw up what should be an easy deal to end the civic workers strike.

After all, now that striking workers in North Vancouver District have ratified a deal and Surrey, Delta, Richmond and Burnaby have all settled without any strikes, only Vancouver is left so far incapable of negotiating a contract with city employees.

And that is incomprehensible.

Here's the only sensible explanation of the problem - no one on the management side has ever seen Life of Brian. They just don't understand haggling.

The city's spokesman, Jerry Dobrovolny, told the media last week that Vancouver would not table a new offer to CUPE Local 15 but instead wanted the union to make a more "reasonable" offer than the one it presented previously - which included a wage and benefit increase the city claimed would cost 30 per cent.

So the city rejected CUPE 15's proposal for settlement. That's totally fair game as part of negotiations.

But to then ask the union for another proposal that was more "reasonable" is simply not on. It was Vancouver's turn to respond. That's Negotiations 101 - offer, counteroffer, bargain.

What you can't do is keep saying: "Not good enough, try again."

It doesn't work that way. Vancouver should have responded with its own version of what it thinks is reasonable - even if it antagonized the unions - who would then have to reply again.

It's not complicated. You go back and forth until the contract is reached, something that unions and employers do without any strike or lockout 98 per cent of the time in bargaining.

And let's face it - anyone can figure out Vancouver's city workers are going to get some variation of the contract reached in Richmond, Delta, Surrey, Burnaby and North Vancouver District.

So Sullivan, his Non-Partisan Association council majority and the GVRD's Labour Relations Bureau could have avoided all of this inconvenience to citizens and expense by workers and businesses affected by the strike with just a little bargaining common sense.

And a lot of haggling.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Tieleman guest hosts The Sean Leslie Show on CKNW AM 980 Sunday August 5 from 2 to 5 p.m. from sockeye to Pride Parade to Darfur to BC Beer

I will be guest hosting The Sean Leslie Show on CKNW AM 980 on Sunday August 5 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Today's lineup includes everything from threatened sockeye salmon runs in the Fraser River to Arctic sovereignty to Darfur to bad lawyers to the Pride Parade and the best BC beer!

Tune in! Here's the schedule:







Don't miss it!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mayor Sam Sullivan, Vancouver City, Erin Airton and Alex Tsakumis just don't get collective bargaining

Vancouver must table a response to CUPE 15's last proposal - strike will continue until both sides negotiate under usual collective bargaining process

Jerry Dobrovolny, Globe and Mail, August 2: "City spokesman Jerry Dobrovolny has also said the city will not table a new offer to CUPE Local 15 under the regional mandate, but instead wants the union to come to the city with a more 'reasonable' offer than the one presented last weekend." July

Erin Airton, 24 hours, August 2: "With the 'Richmond model' before us, the ball is in the union's court. If they came to the table with a decent proposal, the strike could be over before next week begins."

Alex Tsakumis, 24 hours, July 27: "The insanity of the demands knows few bounds: An 18 per cent increase in wages over three years and a bump in benefits that would leave Lady Black in the throes of orgasm."

Wrong, wrong, wrong. As Casey Stengel once said of the then-hapless New York Mets baseball team: "Can't anybody here play this game?"

That's exactly how I feel watching Vancouver City Council and the Greater Vancouver Regional District Labour Relations Bureau continue to screw up what should be an easy deal to end the civic workers strike.

And my right-wing columnist friends at 24 hours, Erin Airton and Alex Tsakumis, are equally out to lunch on how bargaining works.

So permit me a comment or two that might help readers, columnists and Vancouver city council understand the dynamic in labour relations at play right now in the Vancouver civic workers' strike.

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 15, representing inside workers, went back to the table after new contracts were reached without strikes in Richmond, then Burnaby and Surrey.

The city looked at CUPE 15's proposal for settlement and rejected it. Totally fair game as part of negotiations.

But then they asked CUPE 15 for another proposal that was more "reasonable".

That's not on. It's Vancouver City's turn to respond. That's how negotiations work.

Vancouver now needs to table a counteroffer it feels is "reasonable", not make the union guess what "reasonable" is - what is really reasonable will be the final negotiated contract that both sides ratify.

Vancouver can propose whatever it likes. It can antagonize the unions if it wants to with a low-ball offer - but it has to make a move, however small, towards reaching a deal. Then CUPE will again respond, back and forth until the contract is reached.

Let's make something else crystal clear - the contract that CUPE 15, CUPE 1004 representing outside workers and CUPE 391 representing library workers eventually reach will be very, very similar to Richmond's, Burnaby's, Delta's, Surrey's and any other municipality in the GVRD that settles.

So get on with it Mayor Sullivan and Vancouver City - make your counteroffer.

We are all waiting for you to do what is needed to conclude bargaining so we can get on with life in Canada's most popular city!

Stop delaying - it will only make it more difficult.