Jun. 4, 2019

Backup

Another perspective

 
Sep. 3, 2018

 

0807 - Demonstrating and protesting make for interesting political theatre but accomplish nothing to solve the problems of society.

Sunday’s little theatre pitted a foreign-born protest group against another group, mostly-local actors, flying the flag of communist Russia. Nothing was accomplished, nothing resulted and no solution was found to the problem of housing in Nanaimo. It was all about name-calling and placard waving. Great for media camera.

The tent encampment is not the issue, whether your are for against it or against it. It's a much bigger issue than that.

Where the real protests need to be is at city council meetings, calling a majority group of councillors to account for creating a large part of the housing problem. Council had millions of dollars in their lap to build about 40 housing units in the south end of the city. Council said “no thanks.”

Nanaimo MLA Len Krog had doubtlessly put in considerable effort to get that money from the province, but a small group of residents wanted to choose whom they would accept in their neighbourhood. The ones who were in line for that housing were not good enough to live in their midst.

When placard messages insist “housing is a right” where were they when council made that decision or when that neighbourhood rejected the poor and needy? “Housing, not hate” is another popular slogan.

This is not new – it happened less than a decade ago when the city got housing money from the province. City council at that time decided that such housing would be located throughout the community, with the first projects in downtown, mid-town and the north end. The South end was to get its share later on.

There was a push back from residents, especially in the north end, but council stuck to their guns and made it happen. More than 100 units were built and the sky did not fall.

As far as can be determined, the province is not standing by, waving a fistful of cash for Nanaimo to try it again. But, if that should happen we need a city council ready to step up to the plate and take action. 

Of note is that some of the vocal opponents of the most recent opportunity are now candidates for city council. That should worry all of us.

This type of sideline bickering between groups of citizens plays right into the hands of our elected officials – they sit back and do nothing, except maybe introduce another race-based tax or two, blaming investors for the real estate situation.

The crisis is much bigger than a few campsites and the blame can be laid at the feet of three provincial political parties. A major shift in philosophy took place a couple of decades ago when the Social Credit government introduced a plan to shut down mental health facilities and integrate patients “into the community.” The following NDP government carried through on that strategy, and the Liberals did nothing concrete to reverse that.

There was brief talk about reopening Riverview mental treatment facility, or part of it, but that raised the NIMBY syndrome again. A plan to raise money for the renewed hospital by selling part of the property for private housing got the NDP all riled up, accusing the Liberal of greasing a path “for their friends”. 

In the meantime, the mental health and housing situation continued to deteriorate.

The mental health crisis has reached epidemic proportions because of the rise in drug use, and it’s not going to get any better. What it will take is millions, if not billions of dollars, to really fix this problem. It will have to be a serious commitment by all parties. Involuntary committal to treatment will have to be part of the program. 

Simply providing housing for those in need won’t solve the problem. Governments need to do what it takes or accept that things will continue to get worse, with more and more tent encampments and rag tag agitators without any solutions. 

Present band aid solutions won’t stop the bleeding. It’s been a long time developing, and there are no instant fixes. 

 
Sep. 3, 2018

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.

To comment on this or any other opinion columns, email editor@nanaimonet.com

 
Aug. 16, 2018

0816 - There is still more than two months until the big day for city council candidates, and the race is starting to get crowded with 20 declared to date. We're told there are others in the starting gate, so it remains to be seen what the ballot will look like – it could be a long one.

The race for mayor is pretty well a two-way race but we keep hearing of others trying to head the next city council. The incumbent, Bill McKay, has been toying with a number of scenarios, but has not said yay or nay. Former Mayor John Ruttan has still notruled out giving it another try.

The platforms of many of the candidates are loaded with commitments which they have no chance of fulfilling – they are promising things that are out of the jurisdiction of city council, but they appear dedicated to making Nanaimo a better city. Good for them, and if they get elected they will have a sharp learning curve to deal with. Luckily, there are introductory sessions for newly-elected officials to help them get started.

Only two incumbent councillors have committed to date, and one would hope that they both get elected. I remember from the past when we were told that three new councillors would prove to be a challenge. From this list it looks like there may be at least seven new faces sitting at the table.

We're making Nanaimonet.com your election central, so please stay tuned as the candidates reveal their plans. Keep checking on them, they have the opportunity to change and/or add to what they have posted so far.

It will be an interesting 64 days, and counting down. Please post your comments at the bottom of this section. 

 
Aug. 7, 2018

Demonstrating and protesting make for interesting political theatre but accomplish nothing to solve the problems of society.

Sunday’s little theatre pitted a foreign-born protest group against another group, mostly-local actors, flying the flag of communist Russia. Nothing was accomplished, nothing resulted and no solution was found to the problem of housing in Nanaimo. It was all about name-calling and placard waving. Great for media camera.

The tent encampment is not the issue, whether your are for against it or against it. It's a much bigger issue than that.

Where the real protests need to be is at city council meetings, calling a majority group of councillors to account for creating a large part of the housing problem. Council had millions of dollars in their lap to build about 40 housing units in the south end of the city. Council said “no thanks.”

Nanaimo MLA Len Krog had doubtlessly put in considerable effort to get that money from the province, but a small group of residents wanted to choose whom they would accept in their neighbourhood. The ones who were in line for that housing were not good enough to live in their midst.

When placard messages insist “housing is a right” where were they when council made that decision or when that neighbourhood rejected the poor and needy? “Housing, not hate” is another popular slogan.

This is not new – it happened less than a decade ago when the city got housing money from the province. City council at that time decided that such housing would be located throughout the community, with the first projects in downtown, mid-town and the north end. The South end was to get its share later on.

There was a push back from residents, especially in the north end, but council stuck to their guns and made it happen. More than 100 units were built and the sky did not fall.

As far as can be determined, the province is not standing by, waving a fistful of cash for Nanaimo to try it again. But, if that should happen we need a city council ready to step up to the plate and take action. 

Of note is that some of the vocal opponents of the most recent opportunity are now candidates for city council. That should worry all of us.

This type of sideline bickering between groups of citizens plays right into the hands of our elected officials – they sit back and do nothing, except maybe introduce another race-based tax or two, blaming investors for the real estate situation.

The crisis is much bigger than a few campsites and the blame can be laid at the feet of three provincial political parties. A major shift in philosophy took place a couple of decades ago when the Social Credit government introduced a plan to shut down mental health facilities and integrate patients “into the community.” The following NDP government carried through on that strategy, and the Liberals did nothing concrete to reverse that.

There was brief talk about reopening Riverview mental treatment facility, or part of it, but that raised the NIMBY syndrome again. A plan to raise money for the renewed hospital by selling part of the property for private housing got the NDP all riled up, accusing the Liberal of greasing a path “for their friends”. 

In the meantime, the mental health and housing situation continued to deteriorate.

The mental health crisis has reached epidemic proportions because of the rise in drug use, and it’s not going to get any better. What it will take is millions, if not billions of dollars, to really fix this problem. It will have to be a serious commitment by all parties. Involuntary committal to treatment will have to be part of the program. 

Simply providing housing for those in need won’t solve the problem. Governments need to do what it takes or accept that things will continue to get worse, with more and more tent encampments and rag tag agitators without any solutions. 

Present band aid solutions won’t stop the bleeding. It’s been a long time developing, and there are no instant fixes. 

 
Jul. 4, 2018

By Merv Unger
Editor Nanaimonet.com

If it moves, tax it. That’s the real bottom line with the phony tariff war between Canada and the United States. It’s simply a diversion meant to lull us into acceptance of the latest scam by politicians.

A tariff is a tax, plain and simple, and that’s the bottom line. We’re being bamboozled again by politicians. They’ve been taking us to the cleaners on the illegitimate “carbon” tax scheme, but that’s not enough for them.

Now we’ll pay ten per cent and more additional tax on every-day purchases, mainly food products, which we can’t do without.

Sure, the issue carries all the feel-good labels that tariffs are there to protect our products from unfair competition. How does anyone benefit when one country slaps a tariff on another country’s exports only to have the same applied from the other side in retaliation? Governments on both sides of the border have an extra revenue source, and some citizens willingly line up to support the tax grab in the name of nationalism. 

The United States rakes in extra tax revenue from Canadian metal products and Canada grabs the extra taxes on food stuffs and other imports. Notice the revenue doesn't go to the agrieved industries – only to government.

By making the “other country” the villain they strike a note of patriotism, making many of us proud to pay another tax. They’ve got it down to a science. It stirs a certain amount of "Buy Canadian" outrage from the public but it doesn't solve any problems except make everything