What percentage of support for reform is a mandate?

Dec. 10, 2018

With just about 41 per cent of eligible voters sending in their ballots on the electoral reform referendum it's difficult to feel much confidence that the final decision is a mandate.

Even if half of those who voted cast their ballots in favour (or against) electoral reform, that would mean only about 20 per cent of eligible voters supported either side.

With numbers like that, can the government proceed with changing our electoral system with that low a voter response?

Making the decision based on only one fifth of the electorate (or even 25 per cent) supporting it would likely bring a constitutional challenge, dragging the issue out in the courts.

The only logical argument against that is if they didn't support the change, why didn't they vote? Everyone had an equal opportunity. If your side is the losing side, you can blame only those who did not vote, and that's about 60 per cent of those who had the right to cast their ballots. 

December 7, 2018

Guess who else plays role in city tax rate

Budgets are made up of little bits and pieces of revenue and expenditure, and taken as a whole they can really add up.

Nanaimo is looking to increase taxes for 2019, but it’s not all the fault of councils past or present. Other levels of government have their hands in the local cookie jar. An example is the employer health tax that the province imposed in its last budget. That’s the tax that will supposedly make Medical Services Plan premiums disappear for all of us.

Well, not really, they are just transferred to businesses and public entities like the city, the hospital, the regional district, the school district, the university, all dependent on us for their expenditures. Those are facilities that operate on taxpayers’ dollars in the first place, so the government is taxing the taxes we pay.  

READ MORE BELOW

For the city, the MSP premiums for its employees continue at $554,000 for 2019, but then add the employer health tax of $1.08 million on the city alone, never mind the other institutions.

In 2020, the premiums disappear, but the health tax will still continue at $1.09 million. It’s not exact, but you can pretty well assume that an extra million dollars on the city’s expense side could result in a one-per-cent tax hike.

Next year’s city budget, which has to be finally approved by May, already includes the $1.08 million additional tab. When it comes to apportioning resonsiblity, looking a little further afield might be in order.

Keep in mind, your tax bill also includes the school district and the Regional District with their own increases, on top of what the city requisitions. Councillors can be excused when they feel the squeeze from the outside, something they cannot control.

Increased WorkSafeBC premiums are also putting squeeze on the city – a nearly $300,000 increase in premiums, making up about one third of a per cent of the budget increase.

 Oh, and don’t overlook the provincial carbon tax which has also gone up. Then there's also the "'carbon offset" that the city and other tax-funded entities have to pay. You get the idea where this is going.

Merv Unger is a retired journalist and former Nanaimo City councillor.

One million page views on Nanaimonet.com

December 7, 2018

We've done it – one million page views on Nanaimonet.com since the site was launched Jan. 1, 2017. On Dec. 6 we hit 1,000,000 page views, beyond our wildest dreams when the site was launched to serve as Nanaimo's Daily News Source. 

The greatest viewer activity, not surprisingly, was during the October municipal election when Nanaimonet gave free access to all candidates to feature their complete biographical information and platforms.

We're here to serve our readers and our community. Thank you for your response.

And we always appreciate your responses – news@nanaimonet.com

Looking backward into the future

Nov. 22, 2018

Less than one year to go, and maybe even less for Nanaimo, if we happen to get a federal byelection following a provincial byelection.

The dye is beginning to form with the Conservatives choosing John Hirst as their candidate last weekend. The NDP is not quite ready to arrange a nominating process yet, the member of Parliament Sheila Malcolmson first has to resign her parliamentary seat, and that could come about any time after Leonard Krog announces his resignation from the Legislature. The betting is that Malcolmson will pull the plug as soon as the provinicial writ is issued for a provincial byelection where she can be a candidate. 

Are you still with me?

To look into the future sometimes it’s beneficial to look into the rear view mirror. What happened here in the last federal general election was out of the norm – the main parties suffered huge loses with the NDP still winning the seat. Redistribution changed the electoral district boundaries, so comparisons are a challenge.

What happened was that the big parties – NDP and Conservatives – lost of lot of support while the Liberals and Green Party gained. Even in winning, NDP support dropped 12.06 per cent from the previous election. The biggest loser was the Conservatives’  Mark McDonald, dropping 17.04 per cent from the party’s support in the previous election, using redistributed results due to riding boundary changes.

Where did those votes go? That’s the interesting part – Green candidate Paul Manly gained 12.58 per cent, the same as the NDP lost. The 17 per cent lost by the Conservatives mirror Liberal Tim Tessier’s 17 per cent gain over the previous election. That elevated the Liberal candidate from traditional also-ran to second place.

You can’t compare actual total numbers between elections because prior to redistribution there were about 55,000 ballots cast in 2011 compared to about 70,000 in 2015.

Now, whether we get a byelection or wait until next October, it’s a whole new scenario. MacDonald and Malcolmson will not be in the race. Federal party support has shifted where the bloom appears to be off the rose for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. If you follow the national polls, Conservatives are on the upswing and nationally the NDP have regressed to their traditional status of solid third-line. 

But don’t tie your cart to the national scene, Nanaimo is unique, we have a mind of our own when it comes to politics. That’s what will make the next federal vote extremely interesting.

Brennan was a positive influence on city council

Diane Brennan

1110 - The outgoing city council sort of passed quietly into the night, much to the relief of many citizens. Three did not even show up for the inaugural meeting of our new council.

The outgoing councillors were recognized for their contribution, it is not unfair to say that some did not contribute much positively.

There’s one councillor who did not seek re-election but deserves to be singled out for her positive influence over 13 years on council. Diane Brennan served from 2002 to 2008 when she made an unsuccessful bid to become mayor. She was back in the next term, serving from 2011 until 2018.

The reason to single her out is the work I saw first hand while we were both on city council. Diane and I co-chaired the beginning of what we both deem our most satisfying achievement – social housing. More than 100 units were built with the help of staff of both the city and the province. I had the first opportunity to thank former housing minister Rich Coleman for providing the funding when he was in Nanaimo this week.

Housing has always been front and centre on Diane’s horizon. She spearheaded the legalization of secondary suites which added much safe housing in the city. 

When she reflects now on her time on council she can also point to riparian area development regulations and the expansion of the Linley Valley. 

It wasn’t all roses though. A big disappointment was the inability of city council to approve and build even more social housing during the just-completed 2014-2018 term.

She also feels strongly about losing the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange. One great step back for Nanaimo has been the abandonment of the downtown. The failure to provide economic development leadership couldn't have been worse for our city.

After the massive opposition to the social housing from some neighbourhoods, I drive by one of those projects daily and seeing the success makes all that insignificant.

Thank you Diane, a job well done for our city.

Please email your interest to ceo@nanaimochamber.bc.ca

 

Harris candidacy turns byelection into a real battle

1107 - What might have been seen as a clear ride for the NDP in an expected byelection has become a serious race with the entry of Tony Harris as the Liberal candidate.

Common perception has been that member of Parliament Sheila Malcolmson would be an automatic winner for the NDP, but that all changed, it’s a whole new ball game now.

A lot more than just this electoral area could change depending on the outcome of a byelection, putting the NDP government of John Horgan in jeopardy. One more Liberal seat and one less NDP seat could upset the government and force a full-blown provincial election. And that’s what the Liberals are banking on. The presense of so many Liberal MLAs and former cabinet ministers at the announcement is evidence that they are serious about winning the byelection.

Harris didn’t miss an opportunity to take a poke at Horgan and the NDP by pointing to MLA Leonard Krog being excluded from cabinet, which he said was a slight on Nanaimo. He added Krog is a very good man and a long-time friend.

There’s a great deal of respect for each other by the two. It was Harris who introduced Krog when he announced his successful run for the mayoralty. He said he and Krog have been great friends for a long time, and he expects him to be a great mayor.

When it comes to electability, the Liberals could not have done better. Over the years the party had been after the late Tom Harris to run. Now they have his son.

That does not guarantee anything other than we’ll have a good race on our hands, with real options for voters.

Where it could get really interesting is if the Green Party enters the race, which is totally within reason to expect. They have three seats, all on Vancouver Island, and they are all south of Nanaimo. 

No matter what the outcome, if the Greens enter the race they will be winners by building voter share for the long term. That’s what it’s all about for the Greens, to have a solid percentage of the popular vote in future elections under proportional representation, if it passes.

That would unquestionably siphon votes from the NDP, making things very interesting. We’re in for a great ride, Nanaimo.

Politics isn't real any more, it's just a game

In the U.S. campaign, someone delivered a load of manure and dumped it in front of a campaign office.

Politics is no longer a process to choose how and by whom were are governed – it has become a blood sport. There are no winners any more, only losers.

It’s not a stretch to view it as a game, with specific groups trying to outscore each other on points, with the changing score kept by public opinion polls.

Our recently-completed election is small potatoes compared to the U.S. mid-term elections ending on Tuesday. The parties are now in the two-minute drill, hoping to get close enough to score the winning points or make a goal line stand. It’s not about governance, it’s about smearing opponents, creating issues out of lies, as long as they serve the desired purpose.

Some politicos are urging people to fight in the streets, to harass and confront people in public and "hit them when they are down." Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said last week that supporters should not be civil until the Democrats win the election. There is vile hatred between political supporters.

It’s irrelevant whether one side proposes what is good for the country, the other side knocks it. Braggadocious President Donald Trump’s final thrust toward the goal line has him expounding about defending the country’s borders. 

The law is on his side so you’d think it was case closed, but now the Democrats, who solidly supported border issues when they were in power, have switched sides. Not because it’s good for the country but it’s good for the game, another example of the game having nothing to do with the rule of law.

Trump was winning that scrimmage, so the Democrats switched to health care, even though their record on the topic has been dismal. What they have on their side is the Republicans’record is an even greater failure. Trump used health care to win the presidential election, and then let the parties bicker while they made the crisis much worse.

Meanwhile, illegal invaders disguised as refugees, are still streaming toward the border and Americans don’t have health insurance that the average citizen can afford. But the game must go on.

After the final whistle, after the clock runs out Tuesday night, both teams will go to the film rooms and digest what just happened, and why they lost the game. They’ll make new game plans for a couple of months and then take to the field playing the same game again. By that time the championship will be on the line, and it will be a fight for the presidency. The masses won’t be better off, the winners will celebrate and the losers will go into regroup mode to pull out all stops for the next game.

The parties are the teams and the citizens are the adoring crowds, wildly cheering and waving banners, hoping to be on the elusive winning side not realizing they are the real losers. The media has a long history of more or less being the referee in the game, but they have abdicated their role, practising advocacy journalism rather than truth and objectivity.

Conspiracy theorists could be forgiven if they suggested WWE wrestling boss Vince McMahon was directing the game strategy for both sides.

We have that to look forward to in a couple of months when our Canadian teams start their pre-season, kicking, punching and gouging to see who becomes Prime Minister in 2019. It has nothing to do with governing our country, it’s all about winning, at all costs, who can hold up the winning trophy at the end of the game for another four years. So get used to the tripping, slashing and high sticking and hope it doesn’t come down to an empty-net finish.

Former Gov. General collecting $100,00 in yearly expenses

October 31, 2018

From the outrageous department, the  Ottawa Citizen reports:

Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson is still billing Canadian taxpayers more than $100,000 a year in office expenses, and has now claimed more than $1.1 million in such expenses since she left Rideau Hall in 2005.

The expenses, paid through an unusual program that allows former governors general to bill for office expenses for the rest of their life, is used by other former governors general as well. But only Clarkson is regularly billing more than $100,000 annually, which means her expenses show up as a separate line item in the federal government’s public accounts.

The expenses are on top of the $1.6 million that Clarkson has collected to date as a government pension. It also does not include the $3 million in a start-up grant (plus up to $7 million over 10 years to match donations from the private sector) that was paid to establish Clarkson’s charitable organization, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. Both the pension and the start-up grant are standard for outgoing governors general.

The expense program for governors general was created in 1979 and appears to be unique among federal government positions. There is little public transparency in how the money is spent; Rideau Hall says it requires receipts and invoices, but it would not disclose what exactly is being expensed or how much other governors general are spending. Canada’s access-to-information law does not cover Rideau Hall.

In general, the expenses can range from “administrative support, office space and furniture, to professional services, travel and accommodation,” according to a Rideau Hall spokesperson.

BRIAN PECKFORD HAS MORE

Election officials remained calm during vote count blip

1030 - Memory loss is one thing, but when the memory goes in electronic devices, like voting machines, the warning lights flash brightly. 

There was a delay in getting the voting results from McGirr polling station on election night. I checked with Sheila Gurrie, the chief elections officer and city clerk for Nanaimo about the delayed results form that polling station. 

The job done by Gurrie and the elections staff is really amazing. What could have ended in panic was handled with cool professionalism, and everything came out just right.

Just before polls closed the Presiding Election Official from McGirr called the Deputy Chief Election Officer downtown to report the voting tabulator stopped working. Normal trouble shooting protocol didn’t work. First they brought the 10 minutes of ballots and the machine downtown so it could be replaced to count the last 10 minutes of votes. 

Then they discovered it was not the machine - it was the memory card that held all the counts for the entire day from McGirr. Deputy Chief Returning Officer Sky Snelgrove confirmed with the company that supplied the memory cards that all of the ballots from the entire day at McGirr would have to be run through another machine, with another memory card, to count the votes again. 

It would have taken another four hours to run through one machine, so they used three machines and added up the totals to get the counts for the location. This took until approximately 11:15 p.m.

That was a mere three hours and 15 minutes after the polls closed. Late when you consider the usual quick results from computerized counting. But compare that with 20-25 years ago, when I anchored election night coverage live on Shaw TV when it often took until 2 a.m. or later for the final results to be counted and tabulated by hand.

What this shows is the professionalism of Gurrie and her election staff. They did not panic, the election was not compromised and we got the results. Nothing quicker could have been done. Nobody fell down on the job, except for a little piece of plastic – a memory card.

Current political climate fosters hate

1028 - The horrific massacre of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on the weekend is another wakeup call to all of us.

In his column in Nanaimonet, Brian Peckford points out that Jewish people are the single religious group in Canada that suffers from the most hate crimes. The disturbing thing is that those figures are increasing.

Those statistics seem to go unnoticed in today’s society. If asked, the majority of people would likely suggest that Muslims and Christians would be the most targeted, but that is not the case.

It should not be all that surprising, given the growing number of anti-Semitic groups in Canada openly campaigning on behalf of Palestinian causes. Jewish speakers have been denied to speak at Canadian university campuses by radical anti-Semitic protesters.

The federal Green Party, at its policy convention last weekend, voted to support the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions (DBS) targeted to Israel's economy and society which profit from the “occupation of the Palestinian Territories." That has led leader Elizabeth May to reconsider her continued role in the party.

It’s not in some far-off place, it has been displayed even here in Nanaimo where we don’t have a recognizable Jewish population. That included participation in attempts to break the Israeli blockade, which was created to stop the import of arms to Palestinians. 

Modern-day politics extends well beyond the local civic, provincial and federal levels. Advanced communications bring all conflicts right into our living rooms – it’s no longer restricted to the Middle East.

The political climate in the U.S. has to shoulder a lot of the blame. A loud-mouth president incites while the Democratic party opposition urges citizens to attack at every turn, be it in a restaurant, grocery store, and so on. People are encouraged to be uncivil and to kick others while they are down. All you have to do is scan social media to see the vile hatred between people over their views. 

The U.S. media have abdicated their responsibility – TV news has become “entertainment” loaded with personal opinions rather than the facts.

It doesn’t take too much for a wing nut to rally to whatever cause and initiate horrible crimes. With a population of 330 million it’s not difficult to find one unhinged zealot.

Jews have been targeted throughout the ages, such a small group trying to protect their little piece of the planet. It’s easy to bully the little guy.

Most disturbing is the fact that those who preach peace the most are often the perpetrators of violence against others.

Big question – who will run in the Nanaimo byelection?

1024 - One election is in the vault, but there’s no rest in politics – we’re heavily into a byelection which hasn’t been called yet. MLA Len Krog’s election as mayor of Nanaimo will create a vacancy in the Legislature when he resigns. 

I wonder if Leonard considered the political avalanche he may have triggered. The provincial byelection could possibly trigger a federal byelection here. Or if things don’t work out, a surprise provincial election.

Krog’s resignation may come soon. Premier John Horgan has already announced that he wants an MLA in the House before the budget debate, which usually takes place in February. So a January byelection seems almost certain. The stakes are mighty big in this one, the result could change who governs our province.

If the NDP candidate wins, it’s status quo. If the Liberals squeak out a win, that could spell a full-blown provincial election. A Liberal win would leave the NDP/Greens having the same number of seats as the Liberals, giving the Lieutenant Governor little choice but to call a general election.

If the Liberals and NDP think they can ignore the Green vote in the byelection they will be making a monstrous miscalculation. 

With the form of representation now in balance, the Greens will likely pour all available resources into this byelection, if for no other reason than to build up their popular vote percentage. They will need that support if they want to make a serious impact under their hoped-for future proportional representation.

And that gets the speculation going. Who is going to run for whom? When all else fails, we turn to the grapevine to get the whispers. 

The loudest whispering has Nanaimo-Ladysmith Member or Parliament Sheila Malcolmson opting for provincial politics, giving up her seat in Parliament. That’s the word around the Legislature press gallery. She has been a popular MP, therefore a great candidate to replace Krog. 

Of course, that could trigger a byelection for the federal seat, even before the federal general election next October. And a possible provincial general election.

So, how could the B.C. Liberals match that? A number of names have popped up, but how do you get someone prominent? Mayoral candidate Don Hubbard’s name has been mentioned on social media. Could he be the one?

I thought I had “the big one” but that rumour petered out very quickly when the suspect said “no”.

Stay tuned.

 

 

1021 - Leonard Krog carried a heavy burden throughout his campaign for mayor, one that he shared with only his closest friends. Len’s wife Sharon has been in hospital in Victoria with a very serious medical condition.

He told me and my wife Marge, but wanted it kept private during the campaign, and it was only in an emotional part of his victory speech that he told the public about it.

Sharon’s condition could have taken him out of the campaign, but it was her insistence and support that kept him in the race. He has been travelling to Victoria numerous times a week to be at her side as she battles the greatest challenge of her life.

She is not out of the woods yet, there are many challenges ahead, but Sharon’s determination keeps her fighting. 

All we can say is that everyone is behind both Sharon and Leonard and their family during this trying time. Be strong Sharon, beat this, an entire city and its people are behind you.

Peckford's view of the election

There's wisdom in the crowd, says Brian Peckford. Nanaimo had that wisdom on Saturday, says Brian Peckford. 

READ HERE

One week to go until we select our new leadership

The qualifications to become a candidate in municipal elections are extremely low while the qualifications to be a councillor are extremely high. 

We have 40 candidates for city council, but not even close to that number have what it takes to actually do the job of councillors. Look at it as though these candidates are applying for a job, and you are the employer conducting the interviews, because you really are.

Studying the candidates’presentations on Nanaimonet.com you can read between the lines as to who stands out, and it’s quite clear cut with many of them. There are those who have studied what is required and can discuss the role with intelligence. The others, in too many cases, pontificate on issues that are way outside what council has jurisdiction over. 

See the assessment of who is getting the attention from readers HERE.

 

It's time for voters to do their homework on the election

It’s taken a lot of effort, and we finally have all the candidates we expect to profile on Nanaimonet.com.

Now comes the heavy lifting, all voters need to read what they have to say. This is a job application for them, and you are the prospective employers (voters) who will be paying the bills for the next four years based on the people you vote for. Would you hire them to look after $180-million of your money?

In editing the platforms and bios, it became clear that many had done their homework and know what they are talking about, and what lies ahead for them. But a number of the 40 candidates have no clue of what is involved in being a city councillor. 

The ones who have researched the job tend to get to the point and stay away from the bafflegab. Though it’s not a strict guideline, you can be guided by the number of platitudes and buzz words that are used – a fairly reliable indication that when you don’t know what the topic is all about, baffle ‘em with BS. 

One of my favourites: Collaboration – does that mean just sitting around and a failure to lead?

You’ll recognize them when you see them in their platforms.

So, get at it, read the information for the 38 council candidates and three for mayor as well as the 20 for school board. There’s also a list from the Regional District of Nanaimo and from Lantzville.

A lot of people have been demanding transparency and openness, well here it is, open and transparent. The only thing worse than an uninformed candidate is an uninformed voter.

Go to the appropriate sections in the menu bar at the top of this page.

 

1010 - Flu shots are now available on a walk-in basis at London Drugs stores in Nanaimo. They will be followed by full flu clinics Oct. 22 and 23. London Drugs is also taking appointments for on-location flu shots at businesses.

What are we getting out of the LNG bonanza?

So who else gets a carbon tax and sales tax break besides the Chinese, Koreans, Mayaysians and Shell? Brian Peckford has serious concerns abou the rush to LNG development in B.C. Read his COMMENTARY HERE.

Run/Walk Out Hunger fundraiser Oct. 14 at Westwood Lake

0929 - Nanaimo;s 7-10 Club is gearing up for its fifth annual fundraiser in its ongoing efforts to feed the hungry people of Nanaimo.  Run/Walk Out Hunger will be held at Westwood Lake Park Oct.14.

Registration begins at 9 a.m., the time clock starts at 10 a.m. for the runners and 10:10 a.m. for walkers. 

The trail around Westwood Lake is approximately 6.3 Km, a totally enjoyable experience with nothing but natural beauty all along the way.

To date, this Fundraiser has generated $45,000 in helping feed the hungry people of Nanaimo.

For more information on the Nanaimo 7-10 Club please visit us at www.nanaimo710club.com

If we learned one thing about the new U.S. Mexico Canada trade agreement, it's that Trudeau is no Mulroney. Brian Peckford takes an early look at how Canada fared. Read his commentary 

HERE

Slow and steady on the council team rebuilding process

0927 - You could call this a rebuilding year for the City Nanaimo – out with the old and in with the new.

Lest I lose some of the non-sports fans in the grandstand, let’s look at this like an NHL hockey team. Since you brought it up, like the Vancouver Canucks. They’re into a full-scale rebuild of their team, from the top down, not unlike city council.

We’re going to have a new general manager, that’s guaranteed. In alaphabetical order, either Don Hubbard or Len Krog. And we’ll have a number of new players, some due to retirements. And some won’t make the cut when the voters make the decision.

This is the point where the Canucks example comes in. They are not making wholesale changes, just a little at a time – you can’t just throw a full squad of rookies out there to fend for themselves. That’s why I’m encouraged that a number of veterans have come out of retirement in order to guide the rookies in their first season. That experience is invaluable, they can teach the newcomers a lot and keep them from making mistakes.

The same as there are advocates for the Canucks just to chuck the whole bunch of vets and start from the ground up, many Nanaimo citizens want to do exactly that with city council, and that would not be wise. Too many rookie mistakes can be extremely costly in the long run.

So before you trim your imaginary roster for council on voting day, remember the value of the veterans. 

Having served on city council, I believe the likes of Ian Thorpe, Gary Korpan and Jeet Manhas have too much experience to offer for voters to pass up. The new council will need that, especially with a new mayor at the helm. That’s what I’m going to keep in mind when I go to the polls.

Sheryl Armstrong appears to have shown enough promise in her rookie season to remain on the roster.

I will also prepare a list of people who appear to be best qualified to serve our city, that will come out about a week before the election, so keep your eyes open. There are a number who won’t make the cut, a large number, to be brutally frank.

I'm not trying to tell anyone whom to vote for, just to look at the whole picture. Use common sense.

Your views are welcome, please click Merv@nanaimonet.com to send your response.

COMMENTS: I respect your comments, but recycling former Council members is not an option for me.    I was not respectful of their in office records.  Further they offered last election and did not fare well.  I am prepared to place my confidence in some carefully selected rookies.     – Blake McGuffie

Housing alone is not the answer to tents

0923 - The inhabitants of downtown Nanaimo’s illegal tent encampment have been given three weeks to vacate 1 Port Drive – failing that, the city is empowered to clean them out.

Oh great, problem solved! Right?

Not so fast with the rental vans and trucks, exactly where will they go?

There’s a lot of questions about how many are truly homeless and how many are outside political agitators. It’s infested with drug consumption and trafficking, which of course leads to mental health issues.

Loading them, and those from other sites across the province, into trucks and vans and moving them out doesn’t solve anything. Giving temporary squatting assurance in provincial parks is still the same problem, only at a different location. Now you see them, now you don’t.

This seems to be the attitude of politicians, just move them out where we don’t see them and don’t have to deal with the real issue. This needs a solution rather than the merry go round of locations, politicians know they haven’t provided any solutions. As a matter of fact, they are running around merrily handing out money for pet projects with major political benefit to themselves. They seem happy with well-meaning local advocates who are not really knowledgeable about the root problem and push for action by local government.

So what should the province, and Ottawa do?

The first step is accepting that the number one problem is the national drug and mental health epidemic. Building facilities without stemming the addictions problem does not lessen the situation one iota. So that’s where to start.

Saying the cost is prohibitive is simply an excuse for inaction. They should have acted a lot earlier but they kept their heads in the sand, hoping the problem would go away. It hasn’t gone away, and it won’t go away.

There are many levels of needed action, starting at the ground level, it has to be an all-out battle against addictions and mental health. That would necessitate some legislative changes to allow forced treatment. Current “rights” legislation protects them from involuntary treatment and cure when they just worry about their next fix, not about treatment. Our society will likely never totally overcome the illicit drug scourge, but helping even some would take them off the streets.

Treatment involves being kept in a facility where withdrawal services also include a roof over their heads, three square meals a day, all medical needs and a warm dry bed. That’s not a guarantee they won’t become users in the future, statistics prove that.

Everyone is touting a housing solution, but that is hollow. If you skip that first step the actions will be futile, as it has already demonstrated. After treatment the next stage has to be ready to kick in. You can’t just “cure” addicts and then shove them out onto the street to fend for themselves. This is where the housing element comes in, with ongoing support services to lessen a return to the streets, and more drug use. Simply slapping up houses and not instituting the first stage is a waste of resources, money down the drain.

When levels of government argue they can’t afford the costs of such programs they are putting a lesser value on some human beings. At what point do they make the decision that some lives are not worth saving?

We can’t skip the first stage – treatment – and then hope that more housing will cure what’s wrong. We’re beyond bandaid solutions, we’re in the full hemorrhage stage, and bleeding out. Where’s the tourniquet?

We welcome your views, please click Merv@nanaimonet.com to send your response.

Too many civic election candidates are unaware

0921 - There’s an old saying, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. You have to wonder why some people add their names to the ballot for city council or school board and then do nothing to connect with voters.

Nanaimonet.com offers candidates a free web page to list their platform/biography and photo, but to date only 28 candidates have bothered. The other 12 seem out of touch, including two incumbent councillors. We separated those to a second (no-response) list so that readers don’t waste their time looking for non-existent postings. Too many are clueless about what is involved, or even what the qualifications are for the job. Sloganeering and buzz words are not what makes a good councillor or trustee. The least knowledgeable use the most slogans and buzz words.

In the administrative process of this site we see how many views each candidate’s page has received, giving a good indication of whom readers (voters) are paying attention to. Those who have not responded have meagre numbers.

For the record, when we introduced this in last year’s byelection the final results were very indicative of the numbers on this website. This time around, there are already some surprise high numbers for some candidates, and lower interest for some who would be considered top candidates.

Many of those who filed nominations are out of touch as to what’s involved in serving on council or the school board. It seems to be “exciting” to have your name on the ballot. Even though it's everyone's democratic right, some simply have no business being on the ballot.

There have been comments about how great it is to have this many names on the ballot, but from what we see, it only leads to voter confusion, watering down support for legitimate, serious candidates.

If you want to respond to this feature, please e-mail to Merv@nanaimonet.com

 

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