Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ken Georgetti acclaimed as Canadian Labour Congress president in Toronto

TORONTO - I am very happy to report that my good friend Ken Georgetti has today been acclaimed for another three-year term as president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Pictured from left: Jim Sinclair, BC Federation of Labour president, Cindy Oliver, Federation of Post Secondary Educators president, Ken Georgetti, Cindy's husband and CLC president and Bill Tieleman.

Georgetti becomes the longest-serving CLC president in the organization's 52 year history with this new term, his fourth since first being elected in 1999.

Ken began his career in the labour movement as the president of the Steelworkers local in Trail, British Columbia, representing workers at the giant Cominco smelter.

I worked with Ken for six years as his communications director and assistant at the BC Federation of Labour – where he served as President from 1986 to 1999.

As BC Fed President, Ken led the fight against anti-union labour laws introduced by the right-wing provincial government, including shutting down the province in a one-day general strike and boycotting those unfair laws for 5 years until they were overturned by the New Democratic Party government of Mike Harcourt that was elected in 1991.

Georgetti is probably the only labour leader in Canada in recent history to be charged with seditious treason – for allegedly trying to overthrow the Social Credit government!

As CLC president, Ken has enjoyed many successes in Ottawa, including winning federal bankruptcy protection for workers, better health and safety regulations, successful political action, strong campaigns for women's equality and a bigger, stronger Canadian Labour Congress – a congress where there are more workers from more occupations than ever before.

Congratulations to Ken and to the other CLC executives who were also acclaimed - Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yusseff and Vice-Presidents Barb Byers and Marie Clarke Walker.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

BC Liberals outrageous attack on free speech, democracy could pass BC Legislature today - ACT NOW!

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday May 27, 2008

Bill 42 must be stopped


While banning advertising by concerned citizens and groups, the government gives itself free rein to fill the airwaves and newspapers with 'feel good' advertising promoting itself at public expense and promote itself further with taxpayer-subsidized political contributions.

- Rob Holmes, B.C. Civil Liberties Association president

There are dozens of vital political issues in British Columbia but none are more important than trying to protect citizens' right to democracy and free speech.

Regrettably, the B.C. Liberal government is about to severely restrict both this week by passing Bill 42, the Election Amendment Act.

As previously outlined here, Bill 42 would drastically limit the right of organizations and individuals to advertise about an issue, a political party or a candidate for a full five months before election day - that means starting Dec. 12 of this year.

To get some idea of how extreme this restriction is, consider an important election issue: Premier Gordon Campbell's decision to remove 500 acres of prime farmland from the agricultural land reserve and allow the Tsawwassen First Nation to pave it for Deltaport expansion.

Now presume a group of individuals deeply opposed to losing valuable farmland decides to make it an issue in the premier's riding of Vancouver-Point Grey and is willing spend its own money to do so.

Next, look at the physical size of this newspaper column.

For the entire five-month period from Dec. 12, 2008 to voting day on May 12, 2009 that group could sponsor in 24 hours newspaper exactly one ad slightly larger than this column.

A single ad, run once and that's it, because the limit on spending per riding by a third-party group is just $3,000 - enough for a modest ad.

That's a totally outrageous restriction on free speech and democracy.

But unless you and others do something about it - today - Bill 42 could be passed into law as soon as this afternoon and no later than Thursday.

Fortunately, the growing opposition to Bill 42 includes the B.C. Federation of Labour, the Vancouver Sun and the Globe and Mail newspapers, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, unions and business groups.

Even some traditional B.C. Liberal supporters are expressing their concern, including Philip Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, and 24 hours columnist Erin Airton.

You can add your voice by going to a special website to send an e-mail expressing your opposition to Premier Gordon Campbell, Attorney-General Wally Oppal, NDP Opposition Leader Carole James - who is fighting Bill 42 - and your local MLA at:

If you care about democracy, free speech and your right to exercise both of them, go there immediately and be heard - before it's too late.

NEWS FLASH! - Attorney-General Wally Oppal today tabled amendments to the Act.

The Vancouver Sun has just reported: "The amendments shorten the time period that will limit spending by political parties, candidates and third parties; and will lower the amount political parties can spend in the pre-writ period, according to the news release."

"The time period limiting third-party advertising spending will be cut from 120 to 60 days, prior to the start of the campaign, plus the 28-day campaign period itself, while the time limits regulating spending for political parties and candidates will also be cut in half from 120 to 60 days prior to the writ being dropped."

"Although there will be no changes in the amount third parties and candidates can spend within those time limits, the amendments will reduce the amount political parties can spend in the pre-writ period from $2.2 to $1.1 million. This change is aimed at reducing the gap between what political parties can spend and what third parties are able to spend."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Pembina Institute polling on BC carbon tax misleading and far from fair

The Pembina Institute does some good work - but today's news release claiming a polling question they asked about the BC Liberals' carbon tax does not qualify in that category.

In fact, I would strongly argue that the national polling question they asked is highly misleading to respondents and designed to get the answer they wanted - that the carbon tax is a good idea.

But the Pembina poll does not give respondents all the information or a clear question. You be the judge - first, here's what their news release said:

"Over 70 per cent of Canadians consider British Columbia’s recent introduction of a carbon tax “a positive step,” according to a national poll released today by the Pembina Institute.

"These results show that Canadians want much stronger action on climate change,” said Matt Horne, Acting Director of British Columbia Energy Solutions at the Pembina Institute. “British Columbia’s carbon tax demonstrates the type of leadership that Canadians want to see from other provinces and the federal government.”

I'll leave aside for the moment the ludicrous idea that the Gordon Campbell government that slashed the hell out of environmental protection and boasts of massive increases in oil and gas production and exploration is providing environmental "leadership" for anyone.

Here now is the actual Pembina poll question conducted by McAllister Opinion Research:

"The government of British Columbia recently introduced a carbon tax on fossil fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All things considered, do you think this was a positive or negative step? Is that very or somewhat?"

The results:

- 27% very positive
- 45% somewhat positive, for a total positive of 72%

- 12% somewhat negative
- 11% very negative, for a total negative of 23%

-5% Don't know/refused

Here's the question they should have asked:

"The government of British Columbia recently introduced a new tax on gasoline, heating fuel and other fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through discouraging use of such fuels. The tax starts at 2.4 cents a litre on gas and fuel in July and will rise to 7.2 cents a litre by 2012. Do you agree or disagree with this new tax? Is that very or somewhat?"

The reason for this question wording are simple - the Pembina question does not even mention gasoline or heating fuel - just "fossil fuels" - which some people would not even understand.

It also fails to give any indication of the size of the gas tax even though it is well known, or what it applies to.

Of course, it's quite possible that the Pembina Institute actually DID ask that very same question and got dramatically different results - results it did not release for that reason. I may pose that question to them in the near future.

The only other polling I am aware of specificallly about the BC Liberals' gas tax in BC itself found almost exactly the opposite result - 61% of British Columbians said the gas tax was a "bad" idea, while just 25% approved of the tax. And that's before the tax has even come into effect and before the recent dramatic increases in gas prices!

It also contradicts a recent Strategic Counsel poll for CTV, which found that 57% of Canadians wanted the federal government to reduce its gasoline taxes, and with 35% strongly agreeing. 36% disagreed with cutting gas taxes.

One reason is obvious - despite significant increases in the price of gasoline in Canada over the last 4 years, consumption has not gone down. That's because many Canadians, especially in rural areas, have no choice about driving to work or using their vehicles for other purposes.

So, notwithstanding the Pembina Institute's claims - echoed by the BC Liberal government - that increasing gas taxes is supported - at the very least the jury is out and those price increases have not yet been implemented.

But I would argue the opposite - that in fact the Pembina poll is at odds with two other polls and may well be wrong. Regardless of that, until we see the gas tax in place we won't really know what people actually think.

But if consumers don't like the gas tax - and I don't think they do - you won't see a Pembina Institute news release about it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

West Star Communications celebrates 10 years in business today!

It's simply amazing.

On May 20, 1998 I started my own communications and strategy consulting business, West Star Communications - and 10 years later we're still here and going strong!

This is the longest I've ever held a job in my life - I guess being the boss really helps.

So I want to deeply thank all my current and past clients over the last 10 years for your business and support, all my suppliers for their hard work on behalf of West Star and its clients and everyone who has helped me keep this progressive business going all that time. And thanks especially to my wife Shirley and daughter Erin for putting up with a business that often impinges on family time - I couldn't do it without your support!

I look forward to continuing to provide clients in labour, non-profits, business and government with a wide variety of communications and strategy services - and to doing it all with 10 more years valuable experience than when I started!

Thanks and Cheers!

Bill Tieleman

BC Liberals attempt to limit free speech to keep corporate donations advantage with Bill 42

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday May 20, 2008

Bill 42 an insult to free speech


If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Make no mistake about the intent of the B.C. Liberal government's attempt to almost ban third-party advertising prior to an election - it is to preserve the corporate financial power that backs their party.

Premier Gordon Campbell wants to severely restrict advertising by any group - other than a political party - for five full months before a provincial vote.

Why? Forget Attorney-General Wally Oppal's spin that Bill 42, the Elections Amendment Act will make voting "more fair, more transparent, more democratic."

It does exactly the opposite. Here's how.

In the 2005 election year, the B.C. Liberal Party raised a massive $13 million -$10 million or 77 per cent of that from corporations.

The B.C. New Democrats raised $7.5 million and the Green Party just $185,000, with only a tiny fraction from business.

That left the Liberals with a commanding $5.5 million advantage - an enormous amount to spend on advertising, polling, phoning, staff, and more - thanks to corporate donations.

But that advantage could be eroded by third-party ads because some groups, like the B.C. Teachers' Federation, don't give money to political parties.

Instead the BCTF ran ads that strongly advocated for quality public education - pointing out Campbell's disastrous record of slashing school funding.

So now the Liberals want to squash third-party advertising that might affect their re-election - by all but banning it.

The new advertising limit would be only $3,000 per riding or a maximum $150,000 province-wide - maybe enough for a dozen 30-second prime time television ads in total.

And guess what? The BCTF spent $1.5 million - 10 times that proposed limit - in advertising last election.

But the B.C. Liberals go much further than just limiting ads that directly oppose or support a political party.

Bill 42, the Election Amendment Act - set to be passed by May 29 - actually proposes this restriction: "An advertising message that promotes or opposes, directly or indirectly, a registered political party... including an advertising message that takes a position on an issue with which a registered political party or candidate is associated."

This part is astonishing. For example, if northern towns wanted to run ads saying a carbon tax is a bad idea - without even mentioning a party - their campaign would be restricted because the B.C. Liberals are "associated" with the tax.

But there's another possible result if this legislation is passed despite all protests.

Organizations which have never contributed to political parties and want their voices heard may have no other choice but to write a large cheque to a political party that supports free speech.

That party will not be the B.C. Liberals.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Erik Bornmann spotted at Victoria court house were ALR corruption charges preliminary hearing held; NDP asks for RCMP to investigate Ken Dobell

Erik Bornmann, the key crown witness in the BC Legislature raid case, was spotted Monday at the Victoria courthouse where a preliminary hearing was being held into separate breach of trust charges against ex-BC government aide David Basi and two developers regarding the attempted removal of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve for a Sooke housing project.

And BC NDP MLA Leonard Krog has filed a written request with the RCMP that the force investigate Ken Dobell, former deputy minister to Premier Gordon Campbell, over allegations that he gained access to confidential documents seized in the BC Legislature raid without signing a required undertaking not to discuss or disclose the contents with anyone.

Those charged with breach of trust and defrauding government in the Sooke case are David Basi, the former ministerial aide to ex BC Liberal Finance Minister Gary Collins and one of three defendents facing separate corruption charges related to the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail; and developers Tony Young and Jim Duncan.

Reliable sources spotted Bornmann at the court house. A publication ban on the preliminary hearing has apparently been imposed by Justice Ernie Quantz.

Basi's charges have been severed from those of Young and Duncan, apparently due to the lengthy delays in the BC Legislature raid case, which has yet to come to trial after four years.

The allegations against Basi, Young and Duncan arose in April 2006, when Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino filed three counts of fraud and one of breach of trust against the men for offences that allegedly occurred between Jan. 1, 2002, and Sept. 1, 2003.

The Crown alleges in an indictment that Basi received $50,000 in connection to an application to remove property owned by Shambrook Hills Development Corp., a company also known as Sun River Estates Ltd., from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton dismissed the charges against his client at the time they were laid.

"He has no connection with the Agricultural Land Commission and no ability to influence its decisions. Only an idiot would think he could influence those decisions. And he's never pretended he could influence those decisions," Bolton said in April, 2006.

"So we reject categorically the position of the Crown on these charges, just as we do with the other charges."

Meanwhile Krog, NDP critic for the Attorney-General, sent a letter to Gary Bass, Deputy Commissioner of the RCMP's Pacific Region, asking that the force begin a "criminal investigation immediately" into how Ken Dobell gained access to documents seized by police without signing an undertaking not to divulge or discuss the contents.

Then there was this exchange in Question Period on Wednesday, where NDP MLA Bruce Ralston asked Attorney-General Wally Oppal whether Dobell's access to the seized documents could have had any bearing on the resignation of then-Finance Minister Gary Collins three weeks later:

B. Ralston: Mr. Dobell, the Premier's Deputy Minister and his alter ego, viewed and discussed critical documents in the B.C. Rail corruption trial investigation — this despite the fact that he was not authorized to do so under a protocol approved by the B.C. Supreme Court. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

On May 28, 2007, the Premier in this House said: "The Premier's office won't be checked with on this." After talking at length last year, the Premier is now suddenly reluctant to explain this contradiction. Can the Attorney General advise: was the Premier wrong to discuss this matter here in this House last year? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Hon. W. Oppal: Well, if there are contradictions, I'm sure the judge is capable of dealing with them. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]


Mr. Speaker: Members.

The member has a supplemental.

B. Ralston: On November 24, 2004, the lawyer for the Premier and cabinet Mr. George Copley, QC, wrote a letter to Mr. Dobell. He addressed it to: "Ken Dobell, Deputy Minister to the Premier, Premier's office." Mr. Copley confirmed that the two had met earlier to discuss documents which were critical to the investigation — so critical, in fact, that the RCMP were planning to interview ministers Gary Collins and Judith Reid about those very documents. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Three weeks later, on December 14, Gary Collins abruptly resigned and left politics. Can the Premier assure this House that there was no connection between Mr. Dobell's viewing of those documents and Mr. Collins's departure? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Hon. W. Oppal: Hon. Speaker, I have the same answer.

* * * * *
Hopefully more real answers will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What the hell is wrong with BC? Liberals do muzzle crown prosecutors, opponents, ignore gangs, pit bulls

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday May 13, 2008

Wrong people being muzzled


To govern is to choose.

- Duc de Levis, 1812

What the hell is wrong with British Columbia?

Attorney-General Wally Oppal actually supports Crown prosecutors refusing to testify at a coroner's inquest into the horrific deaths of a Victoria women and her family at the hands of her husband, who was on bail and had a restraining order against him after previous violence.

He stabbed Sunny Park 49 times, killed both her parents and his own six-year-old son before taking his own life.

But Oppal says prosecutors should not have to explain why they allowed Peter Lee out on bail.

"On principle, it's the right thing to do," Oppal said. What rubbish! Prosecutors testifying might prevent a future tragedy.

Meanwhile, gang-related thugs shoot up Vancouver again - starting right inside the Cecil Hotel strip club last week - leaving one man dead and another wounded.

But the B.C. Liberal government still dithers about whether a regional co-ordinated police force is a good idea.

With more than 50 unsolved murders - like last year's Surrey mass murder of six men, including two uninvolved bystanders - the government should start putting serious money into a real crackdown on these killers. Provincial gambling profits are over $1 billion a year - let's use some of it to stop the violence, now.

Then a young boy is viciously mauled by a pair of out of control pit bulls in a playground, suffering more than 100 stitches. The only thing that saved his life is when a nearby adult took a couple of home run swings with a baseball bat to the pit bull's head to get it off the 11-year-old.

And yet the province once again does nothing to prevent future attacks.

It's obviously time to force pit bull owners to obtain a special restrictive licence if they want to own these deadly weapons unless we want more kids scarred for life or worse. If that doesn't work, ban them.

Four years after police raided the B.C. Legislature, charging two ministerial aides with corruption, the trial of David Basi and Bob Virk has yet to start.

And while the premier's office was directly involved in screening the release of evidence, Gordon Campbell previously said the opposite and now won't answer questions about it.

But that same do-nothing B.C. Liberal government plans to immediately ban third-party advertising for five months before an election to gag groups who disagree with their wrong-headed policies.

Not only is this a complete contradiction of their strong position against such a ban when in opposition, it is a flagrant violation of free speech.

Muzzle pit bulls or gang members? Not a chance.

Muzzle political opponents? Muzzle crown prosecutors? You bet!

And that's what's wrong with B.C.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ken Dobell admits he reviewed Basi-Virk evidence for disclosure without signing undertaking as required by Special Prosecutor protocol

Ken Dobell, the former deputy minister to Premier Gordon Campbell, has admitted he reviewed confidential government documents seized by police in the B.C. Legislature raid case without signing an undertaking as required by a protocol created by the Special Prosecutor.

That undertaking required anyone signing it to not discuss the contents with anyone as a condition of viewing the documents.

Dobell, speaking to the Globe and Mail's Mark Hume, claimed he was not part of the "political side" of Campbell's office and as cabinet secretary he was part of an "independent, bureaucratic office."

That, Dobell said, meant he had not contradicted Campbell's claim in the Legislature last year that the premier's office was not involved in disclosure of evidence issues.

"There is a special prosecutor involved in this. The Premier's Office does not have a direct input into that ... This Premier's Office is not involved directly with that," Campbell said in 2007.

Dobell now says that his role as cabinet secretary was different.

"The cabinet secretary ... is an independent, bureaucratic office, it's not a political office, and in that sense, nobody in the Premier's office, on the political side, was involved in the issue," Dobell told Hume.

And Dobell says he was never asked by government lawyer George Copley to sign an undertaking as required by the protocol.

That would be part of the process that Copley and the lawyers would have managed. I don't have a clue [about that]," Dobell told the Globe and Mail.

Dobell did not return my calls from 24 hours newspaper before it broke the story on Wednesday.

The obvious question for Dobell now is how he possibly thinks one can be deputy minister to the premier without being part of the premier's office.

If there's any doubt about where he worked, here's what his original Order In Council said:


Statutory Authority: Public Service Appointments made, effective June 5, 2001:

Ken Dobell

DM to the Premier and Cabinet Secretary, Office of the Premier"

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Basi-Virk defence of BC Rail "consolation prize" raised in review of evidence by Justice Elizabeth Bennett; Oppal dodges questions

Government documents a defence aid?


A review of potential evidence by Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett indicates two government aides facing corruption charges in the B.C. legislature raid case will use cabinet documents to mount a defence that they were only following orders.

Documents released yesterday by the New Democratic Party opposition include a review by Bennett of two boxes of cabinet documents related to the $1-billion sale of BC Rail that shows she deems many of them as relevant to the defence of David Basi and Bob Virk.

And Bennett described one briefing document as not only relevant but wrote "consolation prize" in her notes - referring to defence arguments that Basi and Virk were ordered to deliver a consolation prize to a failed BC Rail bidder for staying in the process.

The documents are the subject of legal arguments about whether "cabinet privilege" or "solicitor-client privilege" can be asserted over them to prevent their release in order to preserve cabinet confidentiality.

Meanwhile, Attorney-General Wally Oppal dodged opposition questions in the legislature about why then-deputy minister Ken Dobell had discussions with a government lawyer about disclosure of evidence in apparent contradiction of statements made by Premier Gordon Campbell that his office was not involved.

NDP MLA Leonard Krog said Dobell discussed three documents seized by the RCMP, which wanted to question then-cabinet ministers Gary Collins and Judith Reid about them.

"Ken Dobell gave very specific instructions about the disclosure of documents, documents that went to the heart of this corruption investigation. It completely contradicts everything the premier has said," Krog said.

Oppal responded that: "We don't comment on whatever takes place in the courts."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ken Dobell, ex-deputy minister to Premier Gordon Campbell, advised government lawyer on Basi-Virk evidence disclosure, documents show

New documents emerge in Basi-Virk


Premier Gordon Campbell's former deputy minister Ken Dobell advised a government lawyer in 2004 how to deal with the disclosure of confidential cabinet documents related to the police raid on the B.C. Legislature, according to information obtained by 24 hours.

But Dobell was not one of the four people listed in a protocol who were authorized to access the confidential cabinet documents to review them and determine if cabinet privilege would be asserted.

The protocol was developed by the special prosecutor and government to deal with evidence in the B.C. Supreme Court case of David Basi and Bob Virk, two former ministerial aides who face corruption charges for allegedly leaking government documents related to the $1-billion privatization of BC Rail to a lobbyist working for one of the bidders.

Government lawyer George Copley sent Dobell an e-mail dated Nov. 24, 2004 stating that they had met that morning to discuss three confidential documents and get instructions from Dobell on waiving cabinet privilege "for the limited purpose of proposed investigative interviews" by the RCMP.

Dobell sent back an e-mail acknowledging Copley's version of the meeting.

The three documents are cabinet presentations about the sale of BC Rail made in July 2003, before the deal was finalized in November of that year.

Both Copley and special prosecutor Bill Berardino declined to comment yesterday when contacted. Dobell and the attorney-general's office did not reply to a request for comment by deadline.

Dobell left government in 2005.

The e-mails were among a larger group of documents obtained by the New Democratic Party through a request to the court.

UPDATE May 7 - The NDP Caucus has now released a series of fascinating documents it obtained in the Basi-Virk case. Watch here for more analysis.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Basi-Virk case update - next BC Supreme Court session June 2; Appeal Court session June 9-11

There has been considerable confusion about what is happening with the pre-trial hearings in the BC Legislature raid case, or Basi-Virk case, following a surprise hearing at BC Supreme Court in front of Justice Elizabeth Bennett on May 1 at 4 p.m. That hearing replaced a planned May 2 court appearance.

Reliable sources tell me that the May 1 date was a result of scheduling conflicts for the various legal counsel involved. Needless to say, the media and public received no notice of the change.

The next BC Supreme Court date for an update on disclosure and other issues will be held at 9 a.m. Monday June 2.

Then on June 9 the BC Court of Appeal will hear an appeal by Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino, who hopes to overturn a ruling by Justice Bennett allowing defence lawyers to hear testimony by a secret witness in the case. That appeal is set for three days in court and - bet dollars to donuts - may well be restricted to the media and public, or at least by the subject of a publication ban.

The BC Supreme Court will reconvene to hear more on disclosure and "vetting" of BC Rail documents and other evidence starting on June 16, I am told.

Needless to say, none of these dates or times is remotely guaranteed.

BC Liberals, environmental groups full of hot air on carbon tax that rips off British Columbians

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday May 6, 2008

Tax just hot air


The worst of all would be a tax that did little or nothing to reduce carbon emissions, but imposed a disproportionate tax burden on low-income people.

- Professor Marjorie Griffin Cohen

Forget the hype - B.C.'s new carbon tax will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gases while punishing lower- income earners to give huge tax breaks to big business.

Forget the environmental groups - who are so desperate to curry favour with the B.C. Liberals that they are acting more like government spin doctors than critical, independent information sources.

Forget the commentators praising B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell for his "vision" - without doing their homework or disclosing their conflicts.

Just look at the results elsewhere, analyze B.C.'s tax, and make up your own mind.

Start with Norway, which has had the highest gas tax in the world since 1991.

A Statistics Norway study shows that: "Despite politically ambitious carbon taxes, this policy measure has had only a modest influence on greenhouse gas emissions."

Modest indeed - it accounted for only two per cent of CO2 emission reductions.

Now consider that Norway's gasoline tax was $51 per ton of CO2 in 1999, while B.C.'s tax starts at $10 per ton, or 2.4 cents per litre, and rises by 2012 to $30 per ton or 7.2 cents per litre.

With a carbon tax almost half that of Norway's, can anyone expect a dramatic reduction in emissions? B.C. sure doesn't - it actually projects increased demand for gas despite the tax.

As my fellow CKNW commentator Norman Spector says: "The government's own figures show that this is not going to do a warm bucket of spit for climate change."

Next, look at the B.C. Liberals' bogus claim that the gas tax is "revenue neutral." Half of the $1.8 billion in new gas tax money raised over three years goes to business tax cuts - most to big corporations and banks.

Then consider who is hurt most by this regressive consumption tax - lower income earners, especially those with no options to reduce use of gas, heating fuels and other carbon-taxed products.

As Simon Fraser University's Cohen points out: "Those least able to afford a tax increase will be disproportionately affected."

Amazingly, 16 environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club and Wilderness Committee, travelled to Victoria to support an ineffective carbon tax from a government that has obliterated environmental protection.

And Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson lauded Campbell's policies as "the most progressive in North America" while attacking the B.C. New Democrats, but without disclosing he co-authored a book on climate change with Campbell's special adviser on the topic, Mark Jaccard.

That book's title, Hot Air, pretty much sums up the B.C. Liberals' expensive and unfair carbon tax.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

COPE Vancouver School Board trustee Sharon Gregson leaves to join Vision Vancouver, will run for school board nomination

My friend Sharon Gregson, the Vancouver School Board trustee, has announced this afternoon that she is leaving the Coalition Of Progressive Electors - COPE - to join Vision Vancouver and will run for a nomination as a Vision school board trustee candidate.

Sharon is a strong advocate for not only public education but also child care and I have worked with her on several important campaigns, including the No Cuts To Kids effort that forced the province to drop plans to cut funding for inner city schools hot lunch programs and other needed services.

As a Vision Vancouver member, Sharon will have my full support to win a Vision nomination and continue her good work at the Vancouver School Board.

Here is her complete news release:

* * * * *

Vancouver School Board Trustee

May 1, 2008 NEWS RELEASE

Vancouver School Board Trustee Sharon Gregson to join Vision Vancouver, leave Coalition Of Progressive Electors, seek Vision school board nomination for November 2008 municipal election

VANCOUVER - Vancouver School Board Trustee Sharon Gregson announced Thursday she will join Vision Vancouver and sit as that party’s first representative on the VSB.

Gregson said she is leaving the Coalition Of Progressive Electors [COPE] and will also seek a Vision Vancouver nomination to run for school trustee in the November 2008 municipal election.

"There is clearly an evolution in Vancouver politics happening and I believe Vision Vancouver is the party of the future," Gregson said. "While I have the utmost respect for my COPE colleagues on the Vancouver School Board, I think Vision Vancouver represents the best alternative to the current Non-Partisan Association majority at the VSB for a better future for public education in our city."

"I look forward to continuing to work with parents, students, teachers and
staff in our excellent public school system to protect and improve high quality education for all," Gregson said.

Vision Vancouver chair Michael Magee welcomed Gregson as a member to Vision Vancouver, saying her years of work in both education and child care will be a major asset to the party.

"Sharon Gregson has been a very dedicated and hard working school trustee and a leading child care advocate – we’re very pleased she has decided to join the party to help," Magee said.

Vision Vancouver will have an open nominating meeting for school trustee candidates in the early fall, Magee said, and Gregson will need to win the support of Vision members to run for the party.

Vancouver Farmers Markets draw a high-powered political crowd to support changes

Vancouver Farmers Markets held an informative and literally delicious breakfast event this morning that showed their new-found political power in the city.

A full four of the five politicians vying to become mayor of Vancouver were in attendance - Councilor Peter Ladner of the Non-Partisan Association, along with Vision Vancouver contenders - Councilor Raymond Louie, NDP MLA Gregor Robertson and Park Board Commissioner Allan De Genova.

Mayor Sam Sullivan was not at the Heritage Hall event but NPA Councilor Kim Capri was, along with Vision councilor Heather Deal, making for a total of four city councilors.

Also in the crowd were NDP MLA Corky Evans, the party's agriculture critic from the Kootenays, and NDP MLA Jenny Kwan, along with federal Green Party deputy leader Adriane Carr.

And other movers and shakers and media mavens chowed down, including the Vancouver Sun's Frances Bula - the hardest working new blogger in town! - the Georgia Straight's Angela Murrills, CBC Radio Early Edition's Margaret Gallagher and a host of others.

Now the challenge is to harness that multi-partisan political backing into action - which is very much needed to make farmers' markets into more permanent, fully supported community resources.

Currently farmers' markets only exist in Vancouver under a hodge-podge of temporary permits, temporary signage that goes up and down for each market each day, temporary relaxation of regulations, etc, etc. as Tara McDonald, Executive Director of the Vancouver Farmers Markets explained.

This despite the fact that the Vancouver Farmers Market has gone from sales of just $50,000 in its first year in 1995 to a massive $2.8 million in 2007.

And while the Farmers Markets are providing a huge boost to local farmers - most products come from within 300 kilometers, McDonald said, and Vancouver adopted a mandate to support a "food-secure" city, a lot more can and should be done to support the markets.

McDonald outlined some of what the markets need:
  • Incorporation into Vancouver's Official Development Plan and neighbourhood plans.

  • Including farmers markets into Ecodensity planning.

  • Revision of Vancouver bylaws and zoning to include a current definition of farmers markets and acknowledging them as "permitted uses" in areas zoned for public amenities.

  • Long-term operating leases.
And more that would give farmers markets the long-term security they deserve.

Tell your local councilor and the mayor you support farmers markets and want to make them a permanent feature of our city. If you are outside Vancouver but in BC, check out the BC Association of Farmers'Markets for a market near you.

Regrettably, one ironic fact escaped the well-intentioned organizers.

Each attendee was given a fabric shopping bag emblazoned with the URL and the very clever "You Are What You Eat - Prepare To Meet Your Maker" slogan, and more material inside about the importance of eating locally grown foods.

But deep inside the bag came the dreaded tell-tale tag - the bags were all Made In China.

Ouch. Nothing like having a great event end with a bit of a thud, at least for me. Next time, make it Made In Canada please, or at least not made in a dictatorship known for sweatshop labour.

You will find all sorts of wonderful food and other products made in not just Canada but made in British Columbia at the Farmers Markets however, starting in mid-May.

Here's their schedule and location for Vancouver.

Vancouver Summer Market Locations 2008

East Vancouver - Trout Lake Community Centre
15th and Victoria Drive
Saturdays, 9am - 2pm
Dates: May 17 - October 25

Kitsilano - Kitsilano Community Centre
10th Avenue and Larch Street
Sundays 10am - 2pm
Dates: June 1 - October 26

West End - Nelson Park
1100 Block Comox Street
Saturdays, 9am - 2pm
Dates: June 7 - October 25
Riley Park
30th and Ontario Street
Wednesdays, 12:30pm - 5:30pm
Dates: June 4 - October 22