This just does not pass the smell test

UPDATED 7:15 p.m., Sept. 10

0910 - The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and OurNanaimo are planning to jointly stage a pair of civic election events.

OurNanaimo is a special interest group which has been meeting and informally screening candidates for many months, all-the-while insisting they are not a party or an endorser. The very fact that they vetted or tutored people whom they deemed as worthy raises questions about them being a non-partisan group.

All candidates will have an opportunity to meet with voters Oct. 9 in a trade show-style format which will be followed by a moderated leadership debate with mayoral candidates. That’s an excellent idea, if conducted by the Chamber with no connection to any special interest.

On Oct. 15, small groups of candidates, who have been screened by OurNanaimo and the Chamber, will be invited on stage to participate in what Chamber CEO Kim Smythe described as a fishbowl forum.

This is very troubling. As unofficial as OurNanaimo has been insisting they are, are they now going to “screen” which candidates are worthy of participating in a mock council meeting scenario. After all, a number of the candidates were former member/participants in the OurNanimo movement.

If they deem any one or more candidates as unworthy to face the voters, how will they justify that? It's not their pre-campaign planning and helping to groom candidates – that's a laudible achievement. Controling the public forum by excluding some candidates who are not to their liking is what smells to high heaven. That makes it a partisan event.

Does anyone remember the election where the leader of one such group declared "we will elect the best city council that money can buy." Luckily, the voters didn't buy it.

Let us know your thoughts, your comments are welcome at


I have never heard of anything like this before. If a person is duly nominated and becomes a candidate then that candidate and all others should be invited to any candidates meetings. Sounds creepy and undemocratic to me. – Brian Peckford


Thank you for the response to helping refugee family

0909 - Thank you to everyone who responded to the call for making life a little better for a refugee family who have settled in Nanaimo. They came here in a circuitous route from Eritrea, via Ethiopa. They have no source of income, and government assistance takes forever to get started.

The family is composed of a single mother with a nine-year-old daughter and three sons, age 13 to 18. It's not easy making ends meet. We had a considerable number of email responses asking for more information and asking how they could help.

We had some financial donations which qualify for charitable donation receipts from an accredited non-profit organization.

We had a response for bicycles for the family, but they still need soccer shoes, size 9 and 11. Something else that would be of great interest would be a free-standing basketball hoop. I know there are numerous people in Nanaimo who would just love to have someone pick up one of from their property.

Email me at or call me at 250-616-0416 if you can help or if you need more information.

Thank you

You can help to make life better for a refugee family

Okay folks, we need your help. We have a new refugee family in Nanaimo, a mother and four kids  from nine to 18 years old, a nine-year-old girl and three boys 14-18 years old. Their father disappeared in a refugee camp.

They came her in a circuitous route from Eritrea, via Ethiopa. They have no source of income, and government assistance takes forever to get started.

My former boss at the Daily Free Press, Clyde Wicks, has taken on the challenge of helping them get on their feet in Nanaimo. The kids speak English and are registered in schools.

They have temporary accommodation and Clyde has been helping with food and other incidentals. Their great neighbours have been a tremendous help. The only rental that was available when they arrived is way over what they can afford, even with help. A number of Clyde’s friends have been helping, but that’s temporary. They need something more affordable for the long term.

Clyde and I met with MLA Len Krog regarding programs for situations such as this, but the wheels of government churn ever so slowly. That’s part of the problem, they need help in the meantime.

A number of businesses have provided after-school and weekend jobs for the boys. That, of course, means transportation. If anyone has an adult-size bicycle to donate to the cause, that would be an immense help.

The boys are also involved in soccer, so if you or anyone you know has a pair of soccer boots, size nine and 11, they would get a lot of use.

Money is also a big boost. A process has been set up through an established charity to provide tax deduction receipts for financial donations. Donations should preferably be made by cheque. The amount doesn't matter, large or small.

If you have any questions or need donations picked up, please call me at 250-616-0416 or email to answer any questions.

Nanaimo has a reputation as a very caring community, so let’s live up to that and each do a little to help these people. It’s the right thing to do.

We can't let electoral reform referendum sneak up on us

0903 - A little whimsy for a long-weekend Monday morning in a brand new month.

Imagine this scenario, if the Electoral Reform referendum passes this fall.

By extension, could that lead in the future to similar rules applying to municipal government where only six or so councillors would be democratically elected and another two would be appointed through backroom deal-making and skullduggery?

Who would make those appointments? The Mayor? Council as a whole? Andrew Weaver?

It is not far-fetched. That’s what Weaverites are planning to do at the provincial level, democratically elect only some MLAs and let party bosses appoint the rest of the people who will govern us.

Surprisingly, we haven’t heard much about the referendum which is quietly sneaking up on us. Perhaps that’s how the proponents would like it to go down – quietly in the dark of the night while we’re all asleep.

As I said, somewhat whimsical, but also scary. No thanks.

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We're heading into the home stretch for city hall vote

0902 - Now that the formal start of the election campaign is just around the corner, we should begin to see the front runners and the also rans.

Sure, on election morning, before the first ballots are cast, everyone is in first place. By the time the polls close we’ll have eight councillors and a mayor to lead Nanaimo’s future for the next four years. Those who did not make the cut will still be part of the historic record of the city of Nanaimo. Their names will always be on the official record as having been a candidate for city council.

Even now, less than two months before voting day, the wheat is separating from the chaff.

This election is about making a major change at city hall, some of the candidates are realists and some are dreamers.

Housing has been in the focus for a number of candidates, but sadly they are ill informed, not being up to snuff on the facts. Some candidates, in fact, were early cheerleaders for the anti-housing group in Chase River who costs our community $7 million in provincial government funding for housing. Some of those candidates are now vowing to make sure they get housing for everyone in the illegal downtown squat, infested with criminal elements and political instigators.

Some candidates are making promises – isn’t that what candidates do? but they appear out of touch with reality, having no idea where the money for their grandiose ideas would come from. The thing to keep in mind with those promises is that the candidates don’t have to pay for them, it will be us, the taxpayers.

Those are the points of which we have to be extremely careful. Are the candidates’ promises realistic, do they have any idea what they are promising? has published the profiles and/or platforms for all the candidates, so please avail yourself of this information. Start studying carefully what the candidates have put on the table. If they haven’t done their homework to become candidates, what assurances can we have they will do the necessary work, if they are elected?

Voters have an important role in this as well, do your research about the candidates. Having a nice-sounding name or a good looking photo does not necessarily make a good councillor. Look at the track record of each candidate. If you are unsure, call them and talk to them.

The focus cannot be on the disastrous present council, most of them will likely be gone. (There’s a reason the windshield is much larger than the rear view mirror – Nanaimo’s citizens have to look at what lies ahead, what each of those candidates will do for you and our community to deserve your support.

When making their choices, voter must also remember, you can vote for as few as you want. If there are only two or three you like, don’t fill your ballot by giving support to those who don’t convince you they are right for the job.

Please see eariler archived columns at the MERV UNGER section 


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