Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bill Tieleman and Shirley Ross celebrate 20th Anniversary tonight!

"It was 20 years ago today....."

Shirley Ross & Bill Tieleman - October 31, 1992  - Jack Wong photo

Hard to believe but Bill Tieleman and Shirley Ross were married on October 31, 1992 – yes, on Halloween - in their then-home in Kitsilano!

Fast forward 20 years and we are still married and living in Kitsilano!  Amazing!

Shirley Ross & Bill Tieleman - October 25, 2012 - Josh Berson photo

It's been a great 20 years, shared with our wonderful daughter Erin, family and friends. 

Sadly, many of our relatives who attend our wedding have passed away since then and are greatly missed but never forgotten.

It's a reminder that time together with those we love is so precious.

Thanks very much to everyone who has sent us congratulations and we will toast you tonight!  

Cheers from Bill Tieleman and Shirley Ross! 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

BC could have trained coal miners here instead of importing Temporary Foreign Workers from China - look at US training

Coal Miners Could Have Been Easily Trained in BC Instead of Importing Temporary Foreign Workers From China
Longwall coal mining in Australia - one of many countries using the technique.
Longwall coal mining is hardly the rare, elite skill politicians want us to believe.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday October 30, 2012

By Bill Tieleman

"We are replacing people with 25 to 45 years of experience with people that have zero days of experience."

- Jimmy Brock, U.S. coal mining firm CONSOL Energy

If you don't think Chinese miners should be coming to British Columbia as temporary foreign workers in new coal mines, get ready to be really angry.
That's because the federal Conservative government will ratify a foreign investment agreement this week, ensuring even more Chinese takeovers of Canada’s natural resources -- and jobs.
And if you doubt that China-owned coal companies had no choice but to import their own workers to B.C. because no trained, experienced miners are available, prepare to get downright furious.
The reason is simple. Neither the coal companies nor the federal or B.C. governments wanted to train Canadian workers -- even though it’s nowhere near as hard as they claim.
"We require temporary foreign workers because we are introducing a highly mechanized form of longwall mining to the province. There's currently no active long-wall mining going on in Canada or B.C.," says Jody Shimkus, vice-president of HD Mining International, one of the companies involved in developing up to four coal mines.
And Shimkus would know. Less than one year ago she was assistant deputy minister for B.C.'s mines ministry itself.
While B.C. public service guidelines require senior government officials to wait one year before accepting employment with companies they had "substantial involvement" with, Shimkus said in a Friday interview that she did not deal with HD Mining in her ADM position.
Shimkus also said she was "unaware" of the government guidelines.
But is longwall mining that rare and complicated? No. Is China the only source of longwall miners? No. Just the cheapest.
US training legions of longwall miners
In fact, half of all U.S. coal mines use longwall methods, extracting 166 million tons in 2009 that way.
The largest U.S. underground coal producer -- Consul Energy -- constantly trains miners in longwall techniques at a new $12 million centre in southwest Pennsylvania because that's how it extracts 88 per cent of its coal.
West Virginia and Pennsylvania also have a Mining Technology and Training Center that provides new and inexperienced miner training courses with 240 hours of classroom and hands-on training.
And since just 2005, the Kentucky Coal Academy has trained 55,000 new and incumbent miners.
The reason for training so many miners is obvious. There is a great need and the job pays well.
"We hire 1,000 to 1,500 employees a year," says Jimmy Brock, CONSOL Energy's chief operating officer for coal. "We will find miners because a mining job is a good-paying job with great benefits."
“I call it a single-household job. One parent can work while the other one takes care of the family," Brock said.
Saying no to good local jobs
In fact, being a Pennsylvania coal miner pays very well, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, making an average of $78,061 per year compared to an average private industry worker's $46,664.
But the Chinese coal miners coming to B.C. for "mine development" won't be making anywhere near that much money, with HD Mining advertising heavy duty equipment mechanic wages in the salary range of $25 to $32 an hour. At 2,000 hours work per year that would be $50,000 to $64,000 for a skilled trades job -- and that's not likely to be the lowest paid position if a mine opens.
And despite the international controversy importing Chinese workers has created, Canadian Kailuan Dehua Mines -- a "co-partnership company" with HD Mining -- still has ads posted on the Mining Association of B.C. website looking for miners which state that: "Mandarin Chinese is definitely an asset" in getting hired at one of its planned B.C. coal mines.
There's no excuse for importing temporary foreign workers given that it has been well known since 2007 that Chinese coal companies were planning on developing mines in northeast B.C.
And in 2008 a provincial task force recommended creating a new underground miner-training program to deal with an expected shortage.
But unlike in the U.S., absolutely nothing was done in B.C. to meet that need.
Instead, the governments of both B.C. and Canada and have abdicated their responsibilities.
Now the Conservative federal government is about to ratify the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China that will make such travesties even more common.
And B.C. is reduced to calling for Chinese take out to deliver miners.

Monday, October 29, 2012

TV news stories hilariously yet disturbingly deconstructed!

If you think that TV news stories are all oddly familiar, you may be right!

Take a look at this hilarious and yet disturbing deconstruction of the average news story on television done by Charlie Brooker of BBC Four's Newswipe show.

I missed this clip when it first came out in 2010 but it is still very, very eerily accurate:

Newswipe won the Royal Television Society award 2010 for Best Entertainment Programme, beating The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.

And when you watch the evening news, remember the formula!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Apocalypse Now refuted - Internal BC Liberal Party update from Campaign Director Mike McDonald dismisses polls and more

No Colonel Kurtz here!  BC Liberal Party Campaign Director Mike McDonald goes up the river to try and rally the troops by dismissing bad polls, cheering on Premier Christy Clark

Incoming!  The good ship BC Liberal Party has sprung some big leaks - and I am pleased to share them with my readers.

Below you will find an internal memo issued October 15 from BC Liberal Party Campaign Director Mike McDonald - one of  Premier Christy Clark's three Chiefs of Staff in the past year - outlining their upcoming convention, dissing bad polls - "Again I say: 'Polls schmolls! And I was a pollster!' - and cheering on Clark and her crew.

One thing highlighted in the memo presumably sent to constituency presidents and other key party insiders is a keynote speech by Don Guy "one of the top political strategists in Canada" - but Guy's recent failures are not.

Guy served as outgoing Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty's Chief of Staff until 2007 and was Liberal Campaign Director four times - 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 and is still described as the "godfather of Queen's Park".

The Ontario Liberals thought enough of his abilities to pay him $12,500 a month through the election period last year.

Toronto Star writer Linda Diebel described Guy this way:

"Don Guy is a political strategist who speaks softly, is seldom seen and carries the political world’s equivalent of a shoulder-fired missile.
He’s the mystery man of politics, mythologized at 46 and described as scary smart, intimidating, inscrutable, and not to be crossed."

But presumably Guy was advising McGuinty or had some influence when the premier began his "get tough on public sector unions" strategy.

Certainly it was Guy who spoke at an April party convention this year to explain how a new coalition without union support could win the next provincial election after only achieving a minority in 2011.

That mis-step cost them the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election win that would have given them a majority in Queen's Park - instead the NDP took the seat and McGuinty took a walk last week.

Ironically, the Working Families Coalition of unions, particularly teachers, nurses and building trades members, that helped McGuinty stay in power for three elections in Ontario with major attack advertising campaigns against the Conservative Party.

Missing from McDonald's missive is that Guy is on contract to the BC Liberal Party for election planning. Hopefully they haven't been paying too much for his advice to date given their standing in the polls - or maybe they aren't taking it!

Also not mentioned: that Guy has been requested to be a witness at an Ontario legislative committee hearing into the Liberals' controversial cancellation of two gas power plants, a decision estimated to cost taxpayers at least $230 million.

Here is the full Mike McDonald memo - click on the images for a larger version:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

China's threat to Canadian soverignty looms large with natural resource takeover plans, coal miners from China to BC

China's Mounting Challenge to Our National Sovereignty
Trade Minister Ed Fast and Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming sign "free trade" FIPA deal at the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Vladivostok, Russia on September 8 as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chinese President Hu Jintao look on. Photo credit: PMO.
Foreign-staffed mines in BC, Nexen on the block and the FIPA giveaway... wake up Canada!

Bill Tieleman’s 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday October 23, 2012

By Bill Tieleman

"Let China sleep, for when she awakes, she will shake the world."

- Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821

How will Canada deal with the China challenge to our national sovereignty?

It may be the most important question facing the country, with far more dire consequences than the election of a separatist provincial government in Quebec.
Is Canada sleepwalking towards a future day when a communist-ruled undemocratic China has significant control of key parts of our economy? The evidence is mounting.
This month we learned the BC Liberal and federal Conservative governments are jointly allowing up to 2,000 miners from China to operate as many as four planned coal mines, despite that country having the deadliest coal industry in the world.
The Canadian Dehua International Mines Group, which is planning all four mines, claims it cannot find any Canadian coal miners to fill the jobs, but the United Steelworkers union discovered that ads advertising the positions listed speaking Mandarin as a requirement. The jobs also pay as little as half the going Canadian pay rates for miners.
A spokesperson for one of the companies partnering in the mine, HD Mining International, said the ads were a mistake and have been withdrawn.
Then there's the proposed $15-billion purchase of Calgary-based oil and gas giant Nexen Inc. by Chinese state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation -- a deal the federal government must approve before it can proceed.
Nexen shareholders have already approved the acquisition and no wonder -- CNOOC is willing to pay a 66 per cent premium on its average trading price.
But will the Conservative government risk both Chinese government and Nexen shareholder anger by rejecting the deal as not having a "net benefit" to Canada?
The odds seemed strongly stacked against that.
Interest in resources, telecom
Conservative International Trade Minister Ed Fast was quick to say that the government decision last week to reject the $5.2 billion takeover of Calgary-based Progress Energy Resources by Petronas, the Malaysian state-owned company, doesn't mean the CNOOC acquisition of Nexen will be rejected.
"This decision does not set a precedent because every single application is considered on its own merits," Fast said. "Each application has its own specific circumstances that are being brought to bear."
That's hardly reassuring to anyone concerned about loss of Canadian ownership of key natural resources.
Yet key U.S. Democrats oppose the Nexen takeover by CNOOC, something that may affect Harper's decision.
Howard Dean, the influential former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential nomination contender, is warning Canada could face a U.S. backlash if it authorizes a CNOOC purchase of Nexen.
"I personally don't think that's a good idea for either Canadian or American assets," Dean told Tom Clark on Global News program The West Block.
There are also questions about the role of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies in Canada.
Earlier this month the Conservative government made an unusual comment about the possibility that Huawei might bid on rebuilding Ottawa's telecommunications network.
A U.S. Congressional committee alleged on Oct. 9 that: Huawei was "already known to be a major perpetrator of cyber espionage." Huawei "unequivocally denies" those claims.
The next day Andrew MacDougall, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's communications director, made this less than cryptic comment: "The government's going to be choosing carefully in the construction of this network, and it has invoked the national security exception for the building of this network.
"I'm not going to comment on any one company in particular. I'll leave it to you if you think Huawei should be a part of a Canadian government security system," MacDougall said.
Ironically, perhaps, many Canadians are the proud owners of Huawei cell phones.
The biggest threat
But perhaps the biggest threat is Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plan to implement the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) by Nov. 1.
Gus Van Harten, an Osgoode Hall law professor and global authority on international trade deals, says he is "deeply concerned about the implications for Canada" and urges the government to reconsider based on 14 different reasons.
"The legal consequences of the treaty will be irreversible by any Canadian court, legislature or other decision-maker for 31 years after the treaty is given effect," Van Harten wrote in a letter to Harper, adding that it has a 15-year minimum term.
Other key arguments against the China-Canada treaty include that in order to sue under its provisions, a Chinese company requires only a minority share in any Canadian enterprise or other asset in Canada and that "Chinese asset-owners in Canada will be able, at their option, to challenge Canadian legislative, executive, or judicial decisions outside of the Canadian legal system and Canadian courts."
In another analysis, The Tyee's Andrew Nikiforuk describes the agreement as "economic treason."
Napoleon Bonaparte eventually met his Waterloo -- is the Canada-China deal our fatal losing battle on national sovereignty?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bill Tieleman responds to Alex G. Tsakumis' allegations

Alex G. Tsakumis, Erin Chutter, Bill Tieleman at Brian Mulroney book launch in 2007

I take no pleasure in responding to allegations posted on the blog of Alex G. Tsakumis today - no pleasure because Alex and I were once friends, until his behaviour ended that friendship suddenly several years ago.  I have no intention to go into the details.

In his post dated October 17, 2012 and titled "The Conspiracy Theorists in BC Know the BC NDP Numbers are Somewhat Soft: A Fear on the Left that the Right Will Unite" Alex makes a number of negative comments and casts several aspersions regarding my blog post on the BC Conservative Party's troubles and a previous column on that party's AGM.  Some posters on his blog do the same, along with his additional commentary.

I will not engage in a lengthy debate on the merits of the BC Conservative Party's dissidents, what role the BC Liberal Party or its members have played in these events or my motivation for discussing these issues.  

That I am a supporter of the BC NDP is hardly news and has always been well known.  In the blog item, I clearly indicated some would reject what I wrote because of that but they should debate the information presented.

Alex also writes that: "NOT ONCE, did Tieleman pay tribute to John vanDongen–who is, naturally, everyone’s hero." 

Completely wrong.  

I appreciate the work that Abbotsford-South MLA John van Dongen has done on the Basi-Virk/BC Rail case as an intervenor in Auditor General John Doyle's application for legal fee documents - and I have lauded him in my column and blog for that on September 18, even starting with a strong quote from van Dongen.  I attended at least part of every day of the BC Supreme Court hearing and spoke with van Dongen about it every day.

Later, after van Dongen quit the BC Conservatives and I was told he had been talking to BC Liberal MLAs Donna Barnett and Moira Stilwell, I called him up and interviewed him about it, as is only right, and reported his response.

I have not "gone quiet" on Basi-Virk - I've covered the case since day one on December 28, 2003, broken multiple stories, published a 10,000 word A-Z on Basi-Virk and will continue to report on it as I see fit and am able.  

But I won't take criticism like that from someone who not once attended a session of the Basi-Virk pre-trial hearings or the trial over all those years. 

Lastly, I do not disclose who my clients are any more than Alex discloses his clients or his sources of income or anyone else in the business world does.  

Nor do I need to "explain myself" to Alex G. Tsakumis.  Nor will I be posting anything on his blog.

UPDATE  7 p.m. - Alex G. Tsakumis tells me in an email that he attended seven pre-trial hearing days and one day of the trial - I accept his information and am happy to correct the record. 

UPDATE Thursday 7 p.m. - Alex G. Tsakumis has posted another article criticizing me.  I will refrain from much further commentary on it except to respond to this claim:

Tsakumis writes: 

"When I was still his colleague in 2009, three times in six months, while my column’s popularity at 24 Hours had easily eclipsed his, he took shots at me in his Tuesday column space. I went to my then editor and asked if we were a team or not. I don’t mind taking criticism, but for a colleague AND FRIEND to despicably group me together with climate change skeptics that allegedly were taking bribes from major oil companies, was beyond the pale. If it was anyone else alluding to that, I’d have immediately sued.

When he did it the last time, over my salient and factual positions against the lies told by his personal friend James Hoggan–a global warming doomsterist and climate change catastrophe propagandist, Tieleman attacked one last time.
That was it, I was on my way out the door–I immediately resigned as columnist–even though, the publisher begged me to find a way of staying. I wouldn’t without a published apology to me and my throng of readers. I wrote Tieleman three stinging, nasty emails–expletive laden and raw, telling him what a cheap shot artist I thought he was. (My then editor, I found out later was dating a PR consultant friend of Tieleman’s and Hoggan’s–thats why the cheap shot in Tieleman’s column was permitted). Your name, in this business, is everything and I wasn’t about to let someone, anyone, sully mine."

You can read the column I wrote here and decide for yourself but the only mention of Tsakumkis was as follows:

"James Hoggan’s new book Climate Cover-Up [Greystone Books] is a must-read for anyone concerned about the biggest, most pervasive effort ever at manipulating the media by some of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations.
Why, I’d even recommend it highly to my 24 hours colleague Alex Tsakumis, who has ripped Hoggan and CKNW AM 980 radio host Bill Good for two weeks straight about the issue for allegedly not providing “balance” on climate change.
[Disclosure – Hoggan and Good are friends of mine and I appear on Bill’s show every Monday – but Alex is a friend too.]"

Tsakumis quit 24 hours newspaper before he had read my column and before it was published.  

He did not contact me to ask what I had written in the column that evening.  I did not and do not have a "PR consultant friend" who was dating the editor.  

I do not recall taking "shots" at Tsakumis previously - certainly at that point he and I were still friends and he had not raised concerns with what I had written.

Again, I regret this situation but I will leave it to my readers to judge for themselves what happened.


BC killing jobs by bringing in foreign coal miners from China, will deadliest coal industry kill workers here too?

Chinese Temp Miners, Pawns of Racism
Chinese labourers working on Canadian Pacific Railway construction, 1884
Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday October 16, 2012
By Bill Tieleman
"China has the world's deadliest coal mine industry, with 1,973 miners killed in accidents last year." -- Associated Press, Sept. 25, 2012
Premier Christy Clark has decided to kill British Columbia jobs by importing up to 2,000 coal miners from China -- the world's deadliest coal producer.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already started signing their temporary foreign workers visas, but will they also be death warrants for some of those miners?
It's the wrong decision in every imaginable way.
And it feels like yet another outbreak of racism against Chinese workers that has plagued British Columbia since the gold rush in the 1860s brought the first wave of labourers from China.
BC's history of exploiting foreign workers
Racism? Yes. Up to 2,000 Chinese temporary foreign workers at as many as four mines with heavy Chinese investment will be paid less than Caucasian or other workers of different ethnic origins in the mining industry.
That's one big reason why they're coming here -- because underground machinery mechanics will be paid $25 to $32 an hour according to one coal company's job ads -- rather than Canadian mining industry rates of up to more than double that.
The Chinese workers will live in isolated camps at the underground mines in northeast B.C., just as in previous centuries.
Like their predecessors in the 1870s who came to work in B.C. coal mines, they will not have a vote in this country.
And like 6,500 Chinese workers brought to Canada to construct the CPR railroad through the mountains from 1880 to 1885 where at least 600 of them died on the job, they will also be doing some of the most dangerous work in the world.
In one decade, 50,174 Chinese miners killed
The U.S. Mine Rescue Association says 50,174 coal miners have died in China just between 2001 and 2011, based on official numbers.
The association even keeps a ghoulish China Mine Disaster Watch page online that shows 411 dead and 124 missing so far in 2012 and eight dead and seven missing just in October.
Then there's the sad likelihood of a racially-motivated backlash against these Chinese workers for taking away jobs from Canadians, as the use of other temporary foreign workers as cheap labour has already done.
Safe for whom?
Clark actually had the nerve to announce one of these metallurgical coal mine projects last November as part of her vaunted "B.C. Jobs Plan" without saying the jobs were mostly for temporary foreign workers, not British Columbians.
"British Columbia is a safe place for Chinese investment," gushed a Clark government news release.
It's safe for Chinese investment but definitely not safe for Chinese workers.
And it's wrong in every way.