The world is our oyster

Jan. 19, 2022

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has a tough row to hoe. She’s a medical expert but not an economist. The latest extension of her shutdown Health Orders has many British Columbians scratching their heads.

One word from her impacts many lives. At times she appears to be in over her head as the pandemic spins out of control. More balls in the air than she can handle? As this drags on, more and more people are questioning her orders. 

The mandates have a far greater impact than just shutting down a virus pandemic. The shut downs are leading to business failures, an inability to hire staff, and an inability to plan operations from day to day. The supply chain is broken down – granted, part of that is federal jurisdiction.

The education system is disrupted by unclear and often conflicting pronouncements. School districts and teachers don’t know whether they are coming or going. Masks, vaccine passports, classroom learning or online classes?

Dr. Henry’s public health orders as based on numbers – the rising hospital counts are more than health staff can handle. Burnout has become a serious issue. The tests which she bases her decisions on are flawed. She says many of them are unreliable, giving false readings. She has also changed how the figures are arrived at, conceding they are likely inaccurate and probably much higher.

She has been on top of the pandemic for a couple of years with overwhelming public support, but as with everything, there comes a time when support for that leadership fades with the public simply weary of the uncertainty, a lack of confidence in the system, disagreement over personal rights and our basic freedoms.

At what point is the cure worse than the disease?

Jan. 14, 2022

Historians have been telling glowing stories about Snuneymuxw Chief Coal Tyee, who introduced the first settlers to the coal in abundance here. That discovery played a large part in the creation of the first village here.

But in the eyes of modern-day Snuneymuxw he’s a villain. Some present-day Snuneymuxw members see Chief Coal Tyee as a traitor for inviting and bringing in colonializing European settlers.

That has led the school board to look at changing the name of Coal Tyee school and has a committee looking into a possible name change.

This initiative to attach new names to well-known areas and landmarks got me thinking how some of the Indigenous names came into being, even though Anglicized in spelling and pronunciation. My curiousity led me to Google.

We won’t have to change the Nanaimo city letterheads any time soon. But the naming of Nanaimo is an interesting story.

The first Europeans here were members of the 1791 Spanish voyage of Juan Carrasco. They gave it the name Bocas de Winthuysen after naval officer Francisco Javier Winthuysen y Pineda. Thank goodness when the Hudson's Bay Company established a settlement in 1852, they named it Colvile Town after HBC governor Andrew Colvile.

In 1858 it became Nanaimo, a modernization of Snuneymuxw. There are various translations meaning “a big, strong tribe” or a “great and mighty people.” 

Cowichan appears safe from a name change. “Quw'utsun,” was the name given by its original inhabitants, the Quw'utsun people. It is rooted in the Hul'q'umi'num word “shquw'utsun” meanings “to warm one's back in the sun,” and is why The Cowichan Valley is known as The Warm Land. 

Qualicum is a Straits Salish word meaning "where the dog salmon run”. I love the original spelling – “Xwkwa’luxwum”. Try that with a mouth full of marbles. Pentlatch is a Salish language related to the Hul’qumi’num language where early settlers first heard of the Qualicum area from local Indigenous people in Nanaimo who told stories a trail that led to the West Coast of the Island.

For thousands of years the Coast Salish people inhabited the Saanich Peninsula. In the 1850s the Saanich Peninsula was bought from the Coast Saanich people for 386 wool blankets. Saanich is derived from the Native word meaning “elevated” or “upraised”, possibly describing what Mount Newton looked like when approached by sea from the east.

Malahat comes from the SENĆOŦEN word “MÁLEXEȽ” and Hul'q'umi'num' word “Ma'le-'h'xe'l'”, both of which are derived from the words for caterpillars, a reference to a historic infestation in the area. 

Ucluelet is a Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) word meaning "people of the safe harbour". It was 100 km north of Ucluelet that Captain James Cook first set foot in 1778. Ucluelet is situated on the Ucluth peninsula and has been inhabited by the Yuu-tluth-aht Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ peoples for thousands of years.

Tillicum has a number of spellings, but none so interesting as from  Chinook tilikhum ‘people.’ Commonly spelled “tillicum”, and sometimes pluralized in the English style as tillikums, meaning “person” or “people,” and often has the connotation of a friend, relative or a friend or ally. It usually means those who are not a “tyee” (chief), but rather common people, and can be used to signify one’s social group, band, tribe, or even nation.

Chemainus comes from the native shaman and prophet "Tsa-meeun-is" meaning broken chest. Legend says that the man survived a massive wound in his chest from an arrow in battle to become a powerful chief.

Shawnigan is an adaptation of the Hul'qumi'num name Showe'luqun, for the lake and the village.

Esquimalt is an anglicized version of the First Nation's word “es-whoy-malth,” meaning “the place of gradually shoaling water.” In 1790, the Spanish ship Princesa Real entered Esquimalt Harbour under the command of Lt. Don Manuel Quimper, who named the harbour Puerto de Cordova, thus Cordova Bay.

Sooke is derived from "T'Sou-ke" from the Sook tribe of Straits Salishans. Their name was derived from the SENĆOŦEN language word T'Sou-ke, the name of the species of Stickleback fish that live in the estuary of the river. The T'Sou-ke came into contact with Europeans through the Hudson's Bay Company.

The Snaw-Naw-As people of the Coast Salish First Nations originally referred to the area as "Nanoose", meaning "to work or push inwards", hence Nanoose Bay.

 Comox is derived from the Indian word “Koumuckthay”, meaning “Land of Plenty”. The Port of Comox was founded in the mid-1800's on the slopes of the Comox Peninsula.

And doubtless, many readers will have their own translations and connections to those names.

Jan. 13, 2022

Former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Brian Peckford is the last living member of those who crafted the Constitution Act in 1982, which included the Charter of Rights. Now he’s a crusader, defending those charter rights.

He has been in evangelistic overdrive concentrating on what he terms “the unbelievable, undemocratic, unscientific measures by governments everywhere.” 

He has taken on the challenge of defending the rights of fellow Canadians during the Coronavirus pandemic. Those rights are being violated, he says. He’s been writing on his blog spot and on Nanaimonet and in speaking engagements for months.

Peckford has been the featured speaker at overflow public meetings on Vancouver Island in Port Alberni, Parksville, Nanaimo, and Victoria with more scheduled for Victoria, Comox/Campbell River area and Cobble Hill. He’s getting invitations from across the country from people wanting to hear his message.

The most recent pronouncements from the U.S. National Institute of Health on Wednesday indicate that vaccines do not prevent transmission of the Omicron virus, giving validity to the campaign against immunization.

Israel and the UK have been publishing data about vaccines and masks for months because they were some of the first nations to vaccinate. 

That has led him to become the star in a number of groups – Canadian Covid Care Alliance, Taking Back Our Freedoms (which he chairs), and Action4Canada. These groups are fighting vaccine mandates, and talking to lawyers who are challenging this on constitutional grounds.

Peckford already has one challenge going before the courts. He is also in touch with leading researchers in the world who have demonstrated the folly and unscientific nature of what is happening. His personal declaration has gone viral and is being used by law firms across Canada, he says. 

He's also done more than 20 videos for alternate media across Canada, and Zoom virtual meetings. A recent one had more than 1,000 logged in, he says. This Saturday he doing a Zoom meeting for Terrace at which organizers hundreds are expected to attend. 

Mainstream media have shut out all alternative views including his, he says. The big media and CBC signed the Trusted News Initiative in 2020 where they decide what is good and bad information. Hence, alternate views have had to go to alternate media. 

These latest statistics in BC are completely what has been predicted for months and what is happening everywhere else – the vaccines don’t work as advertised – they kill and injure people, he says. More than 20,000 killed in U.S. and almost a million injured.  He insists PCR tests are unreliable and science has proved masks don’t work. 

Who would know better about the Charter of Rights than one of its authors?

Jan. 4, 2022

The massive property assessment increases are opening a lot of eyes as it relates to housing affordability. It’s a main mantra of politicians of all political stripes – affordable housing. It sounds so great, but they need to look in the mirror.

When house prices soar by 30 to 40 per cent you immediately disqualify many young families from ever buying their first house. A $500,000 home has suddenly become $650,000 to $800,000. And shockingly, that’s in the mid-to-lower end of today’s price scales.

That’s when prospective buyers start tabulating their mortgage requirements. So take the middle of the price range at $750,000. First, it’s 25 per cent down payment – $187,500 for the down payment alone. Mortgage rates are relatively low now, in the three-per-cent range. But three per cent on a $500,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years can be a daunting figure. You’re in the $2,000-per-month range, plus a lot of extras like property taxes, utilities, upkeep, etc.

Keep in mind, most mortgages are for specific terms, and when they expire your mortgage renewal can increase by multiple percentage points, thus much higher monthly payments. That’s when people start losing their homes.

Then comes the shock for many –  the property transfer tax which was introduced by former premier Bill Vander Zalm in 1987. That’s when the average price of a Vancouver home was about $150,000 with a $1,500 transfer tax.

It is levied anytime changes are made to a property's title, beginning at a rate of one per cent for the first $200,000, two per cent on the fair market value between $200,000 and $2 million, and three per cent on the portion greater than $2 million. 

Take today’s $750,000 example. The property transfer tax is one per cent of the first $200,000 – $2,000. Then two per cent on the remaining $550,000, for $11,000, bringing the total bill to $13,000 before you take possession. Rounded, that takes $200,000 up front, and that puts affordability out of reach for many people dreaming of owning a home. 

Talking about buying a $1,000,000 home does not sound far-fetched any more. That’s just a little above average. If you were buying one of those the government would be there with the hand out for an additional $18,000.

I’ve been preaching about the property transfer tax and what it adds to the price of buying a home, putting many of them out of reach. But now comes the latest kick with the assessment increases, meaning house prices.

The government likes this tax no matter what is said about affordable housing. They have a conflict of interest. When assessments and house prices increase by this amount the government naturally collects more in transfer taxes, an additional two per cent on the increased amount.

You wonder how big the property transfer tax is, government figures show last year they contributed $1.58 billion (with a B). In comparison, lottery taxes brought in $1.36 billion and liquor taxes contributed $1.13 billion. This comparison won’t hold up in the next year when property transfer tax revenue climbs by 30 to 40 per cent. Liquor and gambling tax revenue will increase nowhere near that. Higher housing prices mean more money for government.

It certainly does not solve the affordability problem, it makes it worse, no matter how politicians try to spin the issue. In the end, they are the ones partly responsible for the lack of affordability. 

Jan. 3, 2022

Are they losing control? The daily reports by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are becoming relatively meaningless. They report that their daily positive test counts and immunizations lineups are inaccurate because they are scattered all over the place. Thousands are taking home tests and not reporting them, and vaccinations are falling way behind schedule.

They have changed course over who should get the tests. Those who are vaccinated, are not considered high risk and have mild symptoms, were told that instead of heading to a testing centre, they should just assume they have the disease and self-isolate. She called it taking personal responsibility.

Looking back over almost two years of pandemic control you get to the point of questioning the validity of it all. How valuable was the expensive testing process and how much did it really do to control the virus? Hindsight is always perfect, but looking back, as they now say, if you had coronavirus you would have known, and no test would have been necessary. What the test really showed ­– either you were sick or you were not, and you would know if you were sick.

Putting a greater focus on vaccination would have had a major positive impact. A lot of near hysteria could have been avoided. Was the testing process just money down the drain so government could appear to be have the problem in hand a daily basis and appear to in control?

If they had said, as they say now, that everyone who suspects COVID to keep cool, stay home and isolate to avoid contact with any one. And if they were really sick to show up at the hospital emergency department.

And a greater focus could have been put on the most vulnerable, the aged in care homes.

A lot of the upheaval could have been averted – businesses shut down, public gatherings, social settings, and lives impacted.

A concerning report out of the U.S. states that health officials there don’t really know the value of the booster shot, they will determine that after enough people have taken it so they can digest those statistics.