Show me the money on separation from B.C.

November 13, 2018

Harvard-educated Robin Richardson wants Vancouver Island to separate from British Columbia and become a province on its own. He wishes to represent Nanaimo in the Legislature to pursue his objective.

He says the Island gets a raw deal from Ottawa and Victoria. Being a Province, he says, the Island would be ten times better off.

Putting aside the constitutional issues surrounding such a move, difficult in and of themselves, it is really hard to take the man serious unless he starts to provide some real data concerning his contention of being ten times better off. One has to scratch one’s head at such a pronouncement.

Just the other day I had to remind a person living here of the three military/search and rescue/testing facilities on the Island, all federal money and even some American money. Only place in the whole province where there are military facilities

CFB Esquimalt — 7,000 full time jobs —$770 million financial impact annually .

19 Wing/CFB Comox— 1,500 full time jobs —$131 million economic impact annually .

Nanoose Testing facility (CFMETR) — 57 full time jobs — $8 million economic impact annually . Americans have invested $170 million into the facility and the federal government $47 million.

And if I am not mistaken, a new hospital has just been constructed in Campbell River and another in Comox; there’s a regional hospital in Nanaimo and two large hospitals in Victoria. There are a total of 27 hospitals and health care centres on Vancouver Island and the adjacent islands.

So just using these two examples, one federal , one provincial, would seem to challenge Mr. Richardson’s contention of how awful the Island is being treated by the two levels of government.

Of course, there are many other examples from education (schools and universities) to transportation (BC Ferries).

It behooves, therefore, those like Mr. Richardson, who wish to advance such a view to show us the beef of a better alternative. Otherwise the chances of political success on such a crusade is dim indeed.

Byelection process appears to leave out party members

November 9, 2018

Where’s Democracy?

There is much interest in the the coming byelection because of the precarious position of the present NDP Government and its arrangements with the Green Party to remain in power. The outcome of this election could change this situation.

As a resident of Nanaimo my interest is obvious.

I noticed over the last several days that the two major parties have publicly announced their candidates for the byelection. Or at least the Party leadership has with a particular person, Shelia Malcolmson for the NDP, Tony Harris for the Liberals, announced that these respective persons would be running for that party in the by election. Or sort of.

You see , I am unsure if they are persons who want to be the NDP Candidate and Liberal Candidate or that they "are" the respective Party’s Candidate. Give that both candidates are endorsed by the leadership, I assume there is some provision in both Parties' constitution that to be the candidate for that party you do not have to be elected by the respective party voters in that riding to be the candidate. A person can be appointed by the party and, presto, they are the Candidate.

I have tried to find the constitutions of the two parties at their respective websites, but no luck – not there, or at least I can’t find them there. The Green Party has its constitution posted online but there is no provision in it for nomination of candidates except that it follow the election law of the province .

For a country and a province that prides itself on its democracy, this nomination process seems to fail a basic democracy test, election of a party candidate by the voters in the riding.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, retired in Nanaimo.


Can you tell the difference – new Coca Cola or the old one?

Yes, I got It. 

 The BC Liberals have changed.

 But not really.

They call it rebranding.

I call it gobbledygook. 

It’s now BC Liberals—Opportunity For All instead of Today’s BC Liberals.

Got that.    

Deep, profound, penetrating 

 No doubt in Atlin and Fort Nelson, in Stewart and Tofino, in Cranbrook and Vernon and all places in between there is dancing in the streets. 

They should have called themselves the Surface Liberals since this is about the lowest, least form of change. 

Premier Horgan and Green Leader Weaver must be chuckling with glee at this sudden burst of Liberal creativity. 

Shocking! What is an ordinary Canadian to do?

November 1, 2016

Denied our Liberty by a bureaucratic agency,
then our tax money abused by a former Governor General
First, this week it was revealed that it is the intention of Statistics Canada to command banks to provide the banking habits of Canadians without their consent. Imagine that! 
Who thought that when we opened a bank account that this was possible? Did anyone tells us that this was possible? Imagine how many fewer accounts would have been opened and how less the banks would have earned if people had possessed this knowledge?
Of course, our grand princeling was there front and centre to support this attack on our liberty.
Global News reports that the Agency says . . . "in order to build a personal information data bank to analyze things like consumer trends and spending habits." And the Prime Minister talks about ensuring anonymity. Oh, ya! 
Government has been responsible for many breeches of our privacy already. As Global News notes: 
"Data breaches involving government agencies are rare but not uncommon. Earlier this year, it was reported that Statistics Canada lost nearly 600 sensitive files during the 2016 census process after confidential documents were left on a subway and hundreds were lost after an employee’s car was stolen.
And last year, Ottawa agreed to pay at least $17.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit over a major privacy breach involving about 583,000 student loan recipients."
This of course, misses the point or deliberately deflects the principle which is: that this move is an attack on the personal liberty of Canadians. What does section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms say? 
"7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."
What happened to privacy in a democracy?
Second, If this wasn’t enough, we find out that former Governor General Adrian Clarkson has been billing us each year since she was Governor General (2005) for her office expenses —most years over $100,000. And that all former Governors General could do this. 
This has come to light since Clarkson’s expenses were so high it took a special line in the Public Accounts of the Government. Up to now the amounts of GG expenses fell under a less revealing subhead of the accounts. And we are given to understand from the National Post article on the matter that this is – wait for it – forever — as long as the former GGs are still breathing. 
Clarkson has been billing since 2005, now totalling $1.1 million. Her pension since 2005 totals $1.6 million. And she received a start up grant for her Foundation of $3 million plus up to $7 million in matching funds with the private sector over ten years. 
Not bad for six years as Governor General!
So what are we to make of all this? 
We have a dysfunctional system of unaccountability, lacking transparency, and agencies out of control, given unusual powers. 
Some democracy! 
As the song says: "Is Nothing Sacred anymore?"
And daily we criticize our friends to the south. Hyper hypocrisy. May this help extinguish our fake moral superiority. 
Fredrick Hayek, the Nobel Prize winner, in his classic work The Constitution of Liberty got it right when on page 261 he said:
"It is sheer illusion to think that when certain needs of the citizen have become the exclusive concern of a single bureaucratic machine, democratic control of that machine can then effectively guard the liberty of the citizen. So far as the preservation of personal liberty is concerned, the division of labor between a legislature which merely says that this or that should be done and an administrative apparatus which is given exclusive power to carry out these instructions is the most dangerous arrangement possible."
Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, retired in Nanaimo.

Hate crimes against Jews higher than Moslems or Catholics

1028 - When one hears of a horrific incident like what just happened in Pittsburg, targeting Jews, I think of what the situation is like in my own country. What is the state of our society –Canadian – in our interaction with Jews?

While it seems to me, from my interactions with Canadians, that there is a widespread belief that there are more hate crimes against Moslems than Jews is factually incorrect.

Statistics Canada reports that for 2016 (the last year for which statistics are available) hate crimes against Jews were higher than for Moslems or Catholics and further that for that year those crimes were increasing for Jews but declining for the others. 

Released August 25, 2018–Statistics Canada 

‘Overall, 33% of hate crimes reported in 2016 were motivated by hatred of religion. Compared with 2015, the number of hate crimes motivated by religion decreased 2% in 2016 (from 469 in 2015 to 460 in 2016). Police-reported crimes motivated by hate against the Jewish population rose from 178 incidents in 2015 to 221 incidents in 2016 (+24%). In contrast, the number of crimes targeting the Catholic population fell from 55 to 27 incidents. Similarly, crimes targeting the Muslim population decreased 13% (from 159 incidents in 2015 to 139 incidents in 2016).’

It is sad to think that a people who have suffered so much for so long and so unjustly would in 2018 still find such prejudice so prevalent.

In this advanced day and age, we talk about how smart we are etc, etc.

While on technical matters this may have some validity on cultural, religious matters, the Middle Ages and the Babylonian Captivity (should I even mention the Holocaust, so recent in comparison) are a lot closer than the calendar might suggest.

Yes, there is a better idea than a carbon tax

1026 - Andrew Coyne: "Liberals' carbon tax plan has its faults — but who has a better option?"

I do.

If you frame the question to your own interests you will get the answer you want. Of course. 

But how about the sensible idea of doing nothing? Now that’s a question for you. Leave that part of the equation alone. 

Stop taxing. Stick to basic services for taxing. That’s really Government’s job

So, get out of the Paris Agreement. It does not work. Its wording is all "should do" not "must do."

Members can exit the deal. Hence , it is not enforceable!  Its a "crude" joke!

The U.S. has reduced its carbon footprint without a Paris type agreement. Without a carbon tax.

China and India continue to build coal plants and are part of The Paris Agreement.

Germany expands its coal-burning electricity plants and is part of the Paris agreement.

Canada and the U.S. continue to export coal.

Canada continues to export oil and gas.

Canada is expanding oil pipelines.

Oil Companies are exploring in international waters off Newfoundland and are working on developing new oil fields there.

A $12 billion LNG plant is a go in Kitimat, BC. Other LNG plants in B.C. are likely. All Fossil fuels, carbon emitting stuff.

Why the hypocrisy

And do what?

Do what Bjorn Lomborg, Matt Ridley, Johan Norberg advocate: more research and development, incentivize for more innovation for new sources of generation of electricity that are price competitive, feeding the poor who are hungry, now, ensuring property rights throughout Africa and other underprivileged areas, providing more water to the thirsty, now.

Half of Israel’s water comes from desalination. How about taking some of those billions of dollars for questionable climate mitigation and building desalination plants on the African coast and piping clean water to the disadvantaged areas?

That’s a far better way to help the world, I say.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, retired in Nanaimo.

Nanaimo election – there is wisdom in the crowd

1021 - Although I did not personally win all my votes, I did vote for most of those who were elected. I had a campaign manager once who used to say: ‘there’s wisdom in the crowd.’ That seems to be the case here.

There was no doubt that Len Krog would prevail. And he did so in spades. I think he will make an effective Mayor. And the news that his wife is not well, kept from the electorate until now, speaks volumes of the character of the man.

As far as the elected Council goes it reflects that the electorate wanted a change and six of the eight are new and ready to go.

Of course, the challenge now is for there to be co-operation, compromise and effective decision making. In other words some leadership. I sense the electorate will not be pleased with any petty wrangling.

I was disappointed with the coverage. Nanaimo News Now tried to cover events at the Conference Centre but it came off as amateurish. Technically it wasn’t much better with camera shots off the mark and the sound being a problem for many interviewees. Furthermore, it was difficult to read the Conference screen. One would think that with all this new-fangled technology it would have possible to produce a better product. I saw better decades ago.

But as for the Mayor and Council I think we have a competent group .

Now the hard part: effective delivery.

Proportional representation, not for me!

1020 - The Province of British Columbia is about to have another referendum on the nature of our voting system. This will be the third one in 13 years, one in 2005, one in 2009 and now another one this month. The first two said no to changing our existing First Past The Post system.

Obviously, there are some in authority who can’t take no for an answer and are just trying to grind us all into the ground until,in desperation, we give in to change our First Past the Post system.

There is this feeling by some that it is the ‘in thing' to do. Gotta get with the times. Hogwash or worse, I say.

The Fraser Institute, a well-recognized, highly-regarded Canadian think tank, has posted on their website a number of essays on Electoral Reform. I recommend them to you.

One of the authors in this series of essays is Lynda Miljan, Associate Professor of Political Science, at the University of Windsor. Here are three paragraphs from what she has to say that best sums it up for me:

‘Countries with PR electoral systems have average central government spending of 30.3 per cent of GDP compared to 23.7 percent for countries with plurality/majoritarian election rules. These findings are confirmed by a well-established literature which has also found that governments that are elected with PR electoral rules tend to have higher levels of government spending than governments elected using electoral rules similar to B.C.’s.

The tendency of PR electoral systems to elect coalition governments is a serious consideration when weighing the benefits and costs of various electoral systems. Plurality or majoritarian electoral systems such as the system B.C. currently has, by contrast, typically elect single-party majority governments. 

The literature clearly suggests that a move from B.C.’s First-Past-the-Post electoral system to a PR system would likely increase both government spending and deficits.’

When I look at the contorted, and inefficient systems in Europe which use the Proportional Representation model, I celebrate that we are not part of such a system. Having to spend weeks, sometimes months to get a government after an election, and having to often bow to very small parties, representing a minority of voters, is not my idea of democratic government.

For the third time, I vote to keep the First Past The Post system, it is cheaper, and more efficient.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, retired in Nanaimo.

Mayoral debate a bore; council candidates saved the day

1010 - I just came from the Nanaimo Councillor/Trustee meet and Mayor debate at the Convention centre.

If the highlight of the evening was supposed to be the mayor candidate debates – well just forget it . It was a bit of a dud. It got off to a bad start when the organizers announced that there was to be no applause after a candidate spoke. What? Water isn’t wet anymore? The Pope is not Catholic? Georgia Strait is just a fresh water lake?

From whence did this bureaucratic silliness come ?

A political debate among candidate for the highest public office in the city and there is to be no applause??? There was a scattering of claps anyway – muted, reluctant, tentative. 

What’s the world coming to?

Pretty staid stuff, I say. I mean its not like we don’t have burning issues, like competence (too many call it governance) , tent cities, drugs, transportation, housin , economic opportunity, tourism, arts and culture, fiscal responsibility.

And then the format of the debates was another problem. In an effort to be efficient, I suppose, the time allotted was hardly time to develop a sensible point. And the questions were tame when provocation was needed, when aggressive prodding was called for.

Did any sparks fly? Not hardly!

The candidates, unfortunately, following the lead of the no-applause dictate and the timid questioning, fell into the psychology of the moment and the best that could be scored was a C for the performances . Perhaps Krog at C+ , Hubbard at C and Farmere at C-.

However, there were some bright lights – the candidates for councillor – the new ones in particular like – Loos, Hemmens, Urquhart, Brown, Bonner, and Geselbracht.

Sadly, having the school board candidates at the same time was too much for two hours given there were 40 candidates for councillor.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, retired in Nanaimo.

Free Trade deal – who was left holding the bag?

1010 - Canada Gave Graciously — Trudeau did, not Mulroney

That’s what Larry Kudlow, Trump’s economic man said — "we gave graciously".

And give we did – just barely keeping Mulroney's dispute mechanism, but loosing on just about everything else.

Remember the Princeling's priorities just a few short months ago: Environment, gender, aboriginal, labor standards.

What happened to them? Gone! Nada!

Additionally, the analysis of John Ivison of the National Post is most revealing. He talks of:

There still is a sunset clause —16 years but reviewed every six.

The provision that if any party signs a free-trade deal with a non-market economy that the other parties can terminate this agreement. What does that do to a China/Canada deal?

The formation of a committee of the three countries to look at exchange rate policy? Who is likely to win in that forum? Does that signal the potential for some national independence to be lost?

Of course, the supply board stuff had to loose given that Canada had already capitulated to the Europeans and in the TPP. Its outdated, but the point is our Government pretended to all that it would keep it, come what may.

And that so-called win on there being no chance of the U.S. using the 25 per cent tariff on autos? Well not quite – if our ceiling on the autos produced goes beyond 2.5 million (its now 1.8 million) then the 25 per cent provision could be used by the U.S. The issue here is how would an investor look at this in building new plants – likely would be hesitant. Not investor friendly.

What about the steel and aluminum tariffs? Still undecided as I write.

In the longer term, Phillip Cross of the Mcdonald Laurier Institute gets it right when he says if we don’t get our regulation and taxation right, competitive that is, and improve our productivity, all the trade deals mean little.

That’s something I have been preaching in this column since the beginning. 

On the bright side, living in B.C. as I do, there will be U.S. wine on grocery shelves next year.