Friday, March 31, 2017

Victoria Viewpoints: Friday, March 31, 2017

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Provincial scene.

B.C. government sends 30 news releases in 7 hours, announcing over $1.2B in spending
Auditor says B.C. budget ads appear political
Province promises $2.2 billion toward Metro Vancouver transit plan
Roughly 75% of rural British Columbian voters oppose grizzly bear trophy hunt: poll
Osoyoos residents petition for more family doctors
Clerical errors, my ass; but what to do?
Postmedia  delays layoffs at Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers
Province to make transit funding announcement in Surrey Friday
B.C. to match federal funds of $2.2 - billion for Metro Vancouver Transit
B.C. Auditor-General calls for tougher guidelines on government advertising
More than 300 B.C. grizzly bears killed by hunters yearly: David Suzuki data
Despite debacles, parties and pollsters will still be surveying voters - cautiously
UVic-led team discovers active fault line beneath Greater Victoria
Mobile medical unit on the Downtown Eastside to stop taking patients
B.C. Liberal MLA defends his actions at controversial photo-op
B.C. government to match federal funding for Broadway Skytrain extension, Surrey LRT
B.C. auditor general warns Liberal government budget ads too political
Latest poll shows B.C. Greens winning support on Vancouver Island
Liberals all aboard funding the political transit train now
B.C. government will match federal funding for Metro Vancouver transit expansion
Colonoscopies for cancer prevention, detection hard to access in B.C.
Blurring the lines in BC's political advertising
100 years after gaining the vote women still struggle for equality
Special prosecutor named to probe Nanaimo city council
We benefit from foreign students
Two-Tier Child Welfare System Hurts Indigenous Children, Says Watchdog
Forest Company Broke Law in keeping Logging plans secret
Who's Paying for Clean Up of the Worst Mining Spill in Canadian History?

Ottawa Observations: Friday, March 31, 2017

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments
from the Federal scene for Friday, March 31, 2017.

U.S. has trade surplus with Canada, Freeland says
Health Canada wants to strengthen regulation of natural health products
Trudeau stands firm amid fresh calls from U.S. for NATO spending boost
'The Conservatives' unease about the 'whole gay thing'
The dangers in a Liberal plan to 'fix' Parliament
Trudeau unfazed as Trump plans probe of 16 countries' trad practices, including Canada
India's envoy to Canada, behind Slumdog Millionaire, tackles trade deals
Canadian troops assisting in Mosul fight as mission extended to June
Ottawa earmarks $1.8-billion for GO Transit improvements
Canada extends mission against ISIS in northern Iraq to June 30
Theresa May's marathon Q&A shows there's more than one way to pester a prime minister
A smile and arrest welcome asylum seekers to Canada
Few signs of Canadian investigation into Abu Sayyaf beheadings in Philippines
U.S. to probe why it has trade deficit with countries like Canada
Here's what it's like to punch the prime minister
What does a pro-coal White House mean for Trudeau's green push?
Ottawa to invest $1.9B in GO Transit's regional express rail project
Trudeau, Liberals tone-deaf to House of Commons
Bombardier must respond to public outcry over executive pay increases: Quebec ministers
Not all economic nationalists are Donald Trump
Trudeau soft pedals terrorism, again
Trudeau's budget doesn't balance itself
Catherine McKenna's climate train
Why I'm voting for Lisa Raitt
Liberal's to consider possible retaliation against Trump's 'Buy American' policies: document
It's time to rethink now we choose party leaders
Quebec sets a fiscal example for the other provinces (which they will, of course, ignore)
'Shocked' Quebecers see red over almost 50% pay hike for Bombardier execs after taxpayer aid
Canadian special forces taking more active role in Iraq as Liberals extend ISIS mission
Justin Trudeau stands by defence spending amid fresh calls for NATO to pony up more cash
Ottawa approves $12M extra funding due to 'pressures' of Mexican visa lift
Stephen Poloz: 'No one ever wins a trade wary, Everybody loses'

A bit of Storefront campaigning for candidate Pond!

BC Liberal candidate Herb Pond will officially open his,
Prince Rupert campaign office tomorrow at 1PM

Putting together a team will be one of the themes tomorrow as North Coast Liberal candidate Herb Pond hosts the Grand Opening of his campaign office located at 255 3rd Avenue West on Third Avenue West, directly across the street from CityWest.

The office has actually been open for much of the week, with hours of 1 to 4:30 PM in place for anyone that wanted to stop in for a chat, if they did there's a good chance that they might have picked up a campaign button to show their support, something which was proving to be a popular item through the course of the week.

Campaign buttons are proving to be a popular item that
are available at the Pond office
(photo from Herb Pond Facebook page)

Mr. Pond has been spreading the word of Saturday's celebration through his Facebook page, noting that the events to make it all official begin at 1PM.

With a number of themes starting to pop up on the election radar for the riding, Saturday afternoon could offer up a chance for voters to learn more about the candidates opinions.

Best to catch him there while you can,  his twitter feed of late has featured the candidate taking to the neighbourhoods of the city to knock on doors and hear views from residents of the region.

More notes related to the 2017 election campaign can be found on our North Coast Votes Archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Middle School replacement hopes become political cudgel for North Coast election campaign

Prince Rupert Middle School was thrust into the political spotlight
on the North Coast Thursday with a visit from Education Minister Mike Bernier

If the events of Thursday had happened in a primary class at any of the elementary schools at SD52, the teacher probably would have called for a time out!

The finger pointing was fast and furious on Thursday following a visit to the North Coast from Education Minister Mike Bernier, who was in Prince Rupert to discuss a range of issues with School District 52 officials.

One of the key items on the to do list for Thursday was a tour of Prince Rupert Middle School, the aging facility that served many years as the city's high school, prior to its shift in use with the creation of the 7-9 Middle school system a few years ago.

It was during that controversial rationalization of local elementary schools, that the carrot of a potential new school for the community was first proposed, though as the years have moved on the timeline seems no closer to delivering a new school today, than when PRMS accepted its first students in 2012.

As part of his visit to town, Mr. Bernier was taken on the tour of the school by School District 52 Superintendent Sandra Jones, who we imagine took him into every nook and cranny of the building to make note of the many documented deficiencies that it has, as well as to review the long running efforts from the School District to gain Ministry of Education action on the issue.

We made note of some of those efforts on March 9th when we outlined the latest approach by School District 52 to take the issue to the Ministry of Education.

Included in that review was a look at a recent letter from School District Chair Tina Last who charted much of the District's work on the topic, some of which began as far back as nine years ago.

For a bit more perspective on the long running issue for the community, at the bottom of our March 9th article is an archive of a number of stories we have posted on the theme, offering up some background to those past efforts dating all the way back to 2012.

You can review those notes here.

Once Minister Bernier's tour of PRMS was finished however, what followed became the domain of political theatre, featuring a few contributions from the politicians on hand that should raise a few eyebrows around the North Coast.

From the sidelines, residents of the region were treated to an exchange of thoughts that featured a healthy sample of the less than helpful political rhetoric that is frequently found in the Legislature.

In this case the usual Victoria bombast made its way out to the far reaches of the province, as Minister Bernier and MLA Rice took to their now well rehearsed talking points for the local media.

Our tour of the themes of the day start with a statement posted to North Coast Liberal candidate Herb Pond's Facebook page on Thursday.

In those comments, Minister Bernier seems to suggest that the school replacement issue gained no traction during his time as Minister, primarily because Jennifer Rice did not raise it personally with him over the last four years.

An interesting bit of washing of the hands on the topic, that leaves one to to wonder what former Education Minister Peter Fassbender and assorted Ministry officials did with all those files and correspondences on the issue that were received well before Mr. Bernier took over the office.

About the only thing that Mr. Bernier  did seem to get right in his statement for Mr. Pond's page, was the observation that North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice is a little late to the issue herself. With Ms. Rice having only made it a significant topic over the last few months and that in the prism of the lead up to what may be a very tight election race in the riding.

And, as though the days events and talking points couldn't get much more strange, in comments to local reporters (see links at bottom of page) Ms. Rice basically confirmed that concept of her lack of long term engagement on the issue.

As part of the storyline on PRMS, Ms. Rice suggests that she was only made aware of the need for a replacement school when it was recently brought to her attention by parents, stating that she didn't know the severity of the situation four years ago.

If so, it would seem that Ms. Rice is somewhat out of touch with her own riding, considering the issue of a replacement school for the School District has been a frequent topic and one found in the work of any number of media sources in the community for almost a decade now.

As part of her review and focus on the day's events, the NDP MLA weighed in further through her Facebook page, expressing her disappointment that an anticipated announcement of commitment for a new school was not delivered by the Minister.

Why the MLA was of the belief that some form of an announcement was to be made is a bit of mystery though, as there had been no real indication from the government side that the Minister was coming to town ready to commit to anything.

During a March exchange in the Legislature between Ms. Rice and the Minister, Mr. Bernier advised her of his plan to tour the School District to look at the issues that are being faced. Though, nowhere during the course of those comments did he make mention of coming here to deliver any kind of a decision.

In a response to a question on that theme from her Facebook page, Ms. Rice states that it was the local media that apparently alerted her to the prospect of an announcement.

However, if one takes a quick scan of any of the stories from the region's media options since Mr. Bernier announced his trip on March 15th, none seem to offer up any indication that any major announcement was to  be expected as part of Thursday's tour.

Not to be left out of this political cycle of spin, are the thoughts from Liberal candidate Herb Pond, who appeared to be more than content to let Mr. Bernier deliver the heavy rhetorical artillery on his NDP opponent.

Other than by way of a few comments since he launched his campaign in January that acknowledged the PRMS issue, the Liberal candidate has not exactly been issuing any clarion calls, or leading the charge to advocate for a replacement for the building.

For Thursday's contribution to the conversation on education, Mr. Pond noted that all of his children had attended the school when it served as a High School, so at least he might have more first hand familiarity than Ms. Rice, when it comes to the conditions the building faced then and continue to face today.

Through his comments however, Mr. Pond also appears to be onboard with the Liberal government's current approach to the issue, offering up that the Minister has been engaged with School District officials to maintain an aging facility, while exploring plans to replace it.

Those comments do seem to suggest that the Minister is a little more aware of the long standing issues with the building, than the evolving narrative of the day appears to have been designed to provide for.

The main takeaway from it all is the prospect of the school replacement issue becoming the political cudgel of the campaign, one where the candidates hammer away from set storylines steeped more in scoring points at the moment, than addressing what should be the main focus.

And while the need to replace a failing structure may be obvious for most of those living in Prince Rupert, for anyone looking for some fast action on the need for a replacement school, disappointment would seem to be looming large at the moment.

With Mr. Bernier speaking mostly of addressing seismic issues for the short term and offering little indication that any replacement decision is near. The road ahead points to the need for the community to keep the spotlight on the issue and continue to put pressure on the government, regardless of whichever party should win the May vote.

Considering the long running nature of this issue and the range of reports and studies that have been submitted to the government, the unfortunate thing about all of this is, that progress really should have been made long before now.

The process of replacing a structure that has outlived its usefulness really shouldn't end up as the talking point of a political campaign; something that makes the education of students (anyone remember them?) in the community just another piece of the political chessboard.

Any project of such importance to students, parents and those that work for the School District, or live in the larger community, should be reviewed purely on need and left far beyond the realm of partisan politics.

However, that being said, the optics of Thursday would seem to serve to offer a guide for us as to how we apparently should view the debate.

Leaving those with the desire to see the province take action on the replacement issue, to do some fortune telling as to how the May 9th election campaign will turn out.

With voters on the North Coast looking to determine how best to cast a vote on May 9th towards the party that they believe will form the next government.

All with the hopeful wish that we see some satisfaction on the replacement issue and receive a measure of respect from our elected officials for what has been a very, very patient community.

The local reviews of Thursday's tour can be found below:

Education Minister Mike Bernier in Prince Rupert (video)
Education Minister tours Rupert's high risk middle school
Education Minister Mike Bernier visits Prince Rupert Middle School

For more items on education (and a fairly healthy amount of background on the PRMS story) see our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Sauder School of Business Election Prediction Market suggests a political cliffhanger is in the making for May

It's still somewhat early in the current provincial election campaign, but if a recent report from Prediction Market at the Sauder School of Business at UBC is an indication, we may all be waiting long into the night for a final outcome of this May's vote.

The mid March forecast from the Prediction market delivered the following review:

The BC Liberals have a slight edge over the NDP in the Prediction Markets. However, the markets also indicate a possibility that the Green Party may gain seats and even has a small chance of holding the balance of power.

The prospect of the Green Party playing the role of King or Queen maker come May 9th, is certainly a theme that will spark some interest as things head towards election day.

It's a theme that may also help to generate some momentum on the North Coast for the campaign of Hondo Arendt, the newest Green candidate in this years election campaign who entered the race last week.

One of the more interesting currents to watch as we get closer to casting our ballot will be how his message resonates in the camps for the NDP and the Liberals, with the Green Party offering a very different outlook on how BC should be governed compared to the more traditional parties.

The introduction of a third option for voters to consider could offer up a significant shift to the ebb and flow of voter intentions from week to week as part of the march towards May 9th.

How many North Coast residents are willing to put their wallets and purses where there votes may go isn't known to this point, with no breakdown available as to the geography of participation in the Sauder Market.

For the 2017 campaign The Sauder School is hosting three Prediction markets, the Prospectus for each and most recent charts exploring the current trends can be reviewed below:

Majority Government     Prospectus 
 Seats Share                      Prospectus 
Popular Vote Share         Prospectus 

Operated on a not-for profit basis, the investment options are available to Canadian residents over the age of 19, the minimum investment is 25 dollars with a maximum of 1,000 dollars allowed per person.

Those who predict the outcome of the provincial election reap the financial reward once the polls close on May 9th and the vote totals are finalized.

The project is an exercise designed to explore and explain how futures trading works and has been fairly accurate in recent years when it comes to political trends, based on a highly motivated and engaged pool of participants.

UBC Sauder Associate Professor Werner Antweiler, the developer of the market outlined why the market participants seem to have their finger on the pulse of the election cycle so often.

"In previous election markets, traders seemed particularly adept at predicting seat distributions. This could be due, in part, to investors crowdsourcing information from multiple sources such as debates, news coverage, polls and pundits"

You can find out more about what the Sauter School of Business Prediction Market is all about here, those looking to make an investment in the election campaign, can invest in the political stock offerings and then wait until May 9th to see if those stocks deliver a political shock.

For more notes on the North Coast election campaign see our North Coast Votes Archive.

A larger overview of items of interest from the election on a province wide basis can be found over on our archive pages

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Welcome to the end of March, it's Payment due day for the City's Utility billing

The first phase of the City's two pronged approach to collecting taxes from its residents finds its first deadline today, with the City of Prince Rupert's utility bill, those directed towards water, sewer and garbage charges is due by the end of business today.

The Utility bills were sent out to residents in February, reflecting a five percent increase for each service provided, as approved by Council in the final days of 2016.

Three percent of those charges will be put towards regular operations, while two percent is to be set aside for capital renewal of core infrastructure, as we noted back in February, that will make for a sixty dollar increase here at the home office, making for a helpful barometer for readers to gauge the increase across the city.

Still to come is the second wave of municipal taxation and the final verdict on the city's property taxation program for the year, with Council still to approve the Municipal budget by vote, a process that is expected sometime in the next month or so.

The last blue print we had on what to expect when it comes to an increase, was a proposed 1.5 percent rise in the mill rate, with the City putting forward the hopeful theme that not everyone will face an increase.

When the tax bills are mailed out sometime before the start of June, we will all find out together as to who pays more and who gets to save for 2017.

The deadline for payment for the second phase of the tax program will be in early July.

More notes on Civic taxation can be found here, while the archive of recent Budget discussion items can be examined here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Looking for the hidden message in a photo selection

The Georgia Straight, like many other British Columbia news sites took note of the announcement of a Special Prosecutor into campaign donations on Thursday night, though they went with a different theme when it came to the photo selection to go with the story.

What symbolism the black cat holds, is so far being held close to the vest from the photo editor for the Vancouver publication, though it does get us to wondering just what the hidden message we are being transmitted is supposed to be.

Does this mean that British Columbians should think:

1) Premier Christy Clark is a witch? Witches always have black cats dont' they?

2)  Maybe it's an indication that the Premier has nine political lives … and like a cat she always lands on her feet from every single potential scandal it seems

3) Perhaps its more of a general observation on the theme of political donations, one that notes that Politics is nothing but a cathouse of political opportunity

4) Or, it could be that they see a light at the end of the tunnel, and It all portends that there will be a purrfect ending to the investigation

5) The prospect of an investigation is but the thing of political sideshow and the Premier has the issue well in hand aided with a bit of catnip we assume

6) Then again, the feline photo may be nothing more than the suggestion that those who choose to purrsue a career in Politics are as whacky as a cat lady

As for the story on the pending investigation, the introduction of the Special Prosecutor will add yet one more element of intrigue to the election campaign, with the stream of financial aid that keeps political campaigns alive suddenly put into the spotlight, all while British Columbians give consideration to who they believe is best able to lead the province into the next four years.

Some notes on the Thursday announcement can be found below:

Special Prosecutor joins political fundraising probe in B.C.
Special prosecutor appointed to B.C. campaign fundraising probe
Prosecutor, Police probe on political donations dangerous for B.C. Liberals: analyst
Special prosecutor named in donations probe
Special prosecutor examines donations to B.C.'s political parties
Foreign donations prime the political pump in B.C.
Special Prosecutor Appointed to Oversee Political Donations probe
Worried about Political Interference, NDP wants Special Prosecutor on Donation File

More notes on the 2017 Provincial election campaign can be found on our Archive page here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Victoria Viewpoints: Thursday, March 30, 2017

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Provincial scene.

Special Prosecutor joins political fundraising probe in B.C.
Kitselas First Nation signs LNG pact with B.C. government
Clinic to replace Mobile Medical Unit in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside
Vancouver retirement home reverses decision that would have evicted 21 residents
Funding model for Indigenous child-welfare agencies 'flawed and discriminatory': report
'It is illegal': City of Vancouver tells developer to stop short-term rentals
NDP wants explanation for B.C. Liberal MLA's controversial photo op
2017 British Columbia election: Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding profile
B.C. youth advocate slams funding models for Indigenous youth services
Special prosecutor appointed to B.C. campaign fundraising probe
Have you registered to vote in B.C.'s election?
Prosecutor, Police probe on political donations dangerous for B.C. Liberals: analyst
B.C. auditor general says government budget ads are too political
Weaver offers dramatic alternative to NDP and Liberals
First Nations group calls for moratorium on new placer mining claims
B.C. auditor general slams Liberals' social housing sell-off
B.C. Green leader defends Richmond candidate who lives in Castlegar
B.C. Greens would more than double provincial carbon tax
B.C. is failing the mentally ill
Signs of the election cropping up across B.C.
Help promised for aboriginal child care
Special prosecutor named in donations probe
Special prosecutor examines donations to B.C.'s political parties
Province to make transit funding announcement in Vancouver Friday
Have personalities overtaken issues in politics?
Peter Fassbender under fire for cheque presentations
Christy Clark hits her riding to announce invasive mussel action
Vancouver lawyer appointed special prosecutor in RcMP investigation of B. C. political donations
Foreign donations prime the political pump in B.C.
Branding Premier Pixie Dust
Special Prosecutor Appointed to Oversee Political Donations probe
Decade of Frozen Welfare Rates Leave Families in Deepening Poverty
Worried about Political Interference, NDP wants Special Prosecutor on Donation File

Ottawa Observations: Thursday, March 30, 2017

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments
from the Federal scene for Thursday, March 30, 2017.

Trump eyes across-the-board changes to NAFTA negotiations
Trump's NAFTA goals: 'What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine'
Five key things the U.S. in eyeing in NAFTA revamp
Ford to invest $1.2 billion in Canada, create Ottawa R and D centre
Ethics and governance is getting lost in the AI frenzy
O'Leary calls Beyak's comments 'unfortunate', wouldn't ask her to quit if leader
Canada's top soldier defends spending delay, says military not hurting for money
Little appetite in the U.S. business community for border tarriff, says Jim Carr
Provinces poised to sign historic Canadian Free Trade Agreement in April
Lynn Beyak tells residential school survivors she wants audit of all First Nations spending
Conservative drop-off deadline approaches - does anyone want out?
Pallister eyes scaling back refugee support as tiff with Ottawa festers
Federal Court orders public safety minister to make decision on immigration case
LGBT discrimination class actions against federal government merge
Trump takes 1st step in NAFTA renegotiation: Sends draft letter to Congress
Bombardier under fire for $32.6M US given to executives while taking government cash
Ford, federal, provincial governments pledge $600M for Windsor plant
Bombardier's senior executives saw compensation rise nearly 50% last year
Court tells public safety minister to hurry up and decide on Iranian refugee
Trump takes first step in NAFTA renegotiation, delivers draft letter to Congress
Senator Lynn Beyak asks residential school survivor about tax audit of First Nations spending
Ontario will fight 'Buy American' policy if passed, Wynne warns
The roadblocks hindering Trump's climate inaction plan
Waste-of-time Tories should get off ballot
Government is the enemy of change
Liberal MPs' trips appear to violated Trudeau's rules against outside groups paying for travel
Set carbon tax at up to $300 per tonne to meet Canada's climate targets - secret briefing note
Trump is playing Galileo in the global climate change divide, and Canada will pay the price
'This measure has not excited much interest': Brits who created Canada 150 years ago were bored out of their minds
After tie vote, powerful committee quashes Senators' attempt to fund Canada 150 medal program
Ottawa's approval for Chinese takeover of Tech Firm sparks Concerns
Trudeau, Couillard defend Bombardier bailout after execs take home millions in raises
'Nothing short of expulsion': Senate grapples with new scandals
Coalition of environmental groups to challenge Keystone XL pipeline permit
CPC leadership race now featuring explicit homophobia
Conservative leadership candidate bring out the big guns

Voice of BC -- BC NDP Politics

Host Vaughn Palmer looks at the platform of the BC NDP, as Carole James discusses issues related to affordability, political donations and how the BC NDP plan to form government in British Columbia.

 March 30

Voice of BC - BC NDP Politics from Voice of BC on Vimeo.

UNBC education program to host introduction session in Prince Rupert Saturday

With the Province of British Columbia recently announcing that the search is on for more teachers and School Districts across BC facing a surge of retirements in the next few years, the timing to enter the teaching profession might not get any better.

UNBC is taking the lead in the North to train and prepare teachers for the classroom and in the Northwest, the Terrace campus for the Prince George based university is the first stop for would be teachers from this region.

Saturday, the Terrace office will be hosting an information session in Prince Rupert, where prospective students can explore the routes to a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma and Bachelor of Education for K to 7.

The two information sessions are being held at NWCC/UNBC campus in Prince Rupert on Fifth Street, with Room 186 booked for the event.

The Masters of Education session starts at 10 AM, while the Bachelor of Education program will be reviewed at 11AM.

The Terrace campus of UNBC which is located on Keith Avenue, is looking to expand on their program offerings, they currently deliver the Bachelor of Education and Master of Education in Counselling program in the Northwest.

Terrace campus officials have expressed an interest in approaching the main campus to offer the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma and Master of Education in Multi-Disciplinary Leadership/Curriculum program in the Northwest.

Should they move forward with that plan, they note that there is an option for students to complete the program in 24 months.

Saturday's meetings are being set up to gauge the interest from Prince Rupert, as they look to expand the program options from the Terrace campus.

You can find out more information about Saturday's information sessions by calling the Terrace campus for UNBC at 250-615-5578.

Some background on the what the Terrace campus has to offer can be found here.

The also have a Facebook page to keep students and prospective students up to date on events.

More information about the overall Education program offered by UNBC both in Terrace and the main campus in Prince George can be found on the UNBC website.

More notes on Education in the Northwest can be found on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

With another cancellation, City Council frees up your Monday evening for you ...

The lights will be off and nobody will be home when 7 PM arrives
this Monday night, as City Council cancels their regular public session

If you're the type of engaged citizen of Prince Rupert that is inclined to follow along with our elected officials as they discuss such things as tax increases, infrastructure plans and a bevy of visionary ideas for the future, then you can take this coming Monday night off.

A notice posted to the City Website on Tuesday outlines that the regularly scheduled City Council Session for Monday April 3rd has been cancelled.

And despite the many options for communication that the City has put in place over the last two years, no details are to be found anywhere, from the City website to the Facebook pages, or twitter feeds, that might explain as to why the regular council session that is available for public overview has been taken off the schedule.

Interestingly enough the City website also advises that, while the Public session is cancelled; the Closed session, that would be the one not available for public viewing will go ahead as planned at Five PM on Monday.

The decision by Council members to take the night off however, does raise a question as to when does a special instance, start to become a trend?

The cancellation of Monday's Regular Public Council session marks the second time so far this year that our City Councillors have chosen to call off a meeting.

The first cancellation came in January, when they took the January 23rd session off, citing  the number of Agenda items that the City was unable to finalize prior to the meeting.

Lost in that instance, was the public comment period that comes with the monthly Committee of the Whole process that marks the last meeting of the month. That segment of the monthly session is one of the few opportunities the public has to address Council in a public forum to ask questions or raise concerns.

It's somewhat puzzling that with the many issues that could be available for public discussion by City Council, that they are tossing aside the regular council sessions at the same kind of pace as a teenager changes their social calendar at the last moment.

Earlier this year, Councillor Cunningham offered up the suggestion that Council should be asking for more presentations from civic departments and other areas of interest to the public,  something that once made up part of Council proceedings and an element that would be a welcome addition to the process for the public meetings.

Though, one imagines that if they keep knocking the meetings off the calendar, that Mr. Cunningham's theme may never see the light of day.

It's not like the Council members are overworked to this point of the year.

During the five public sessions that they have held so far this year, the majority have finished in less than forty two minutes, the published Agendas listing only a few items to review, while council members have offered up little in the way of topics for further review or discussion once they are in front of the cameras of the City Hall chamber.

Watching the Council time clock looks like this:

April 3 -- Cancelled
March 20 -- 38 minutes (NCR Timeline)
March 6 -- 50 minutes (NCR Timeline)
February 20 -- 33 minutes (NCR Timeline)
February 6 -- 80 minutes (NCR Timeline)
January 23 -- Cancelled
January 9 -- 41 minutes (NCR Timeline)

The City's council members also hosted a Public Budget Consultation session on March 15th, an event that featured low attendance from the public and lasted all of thirty six minutes.

As it is, in recent years the schedule of meetings has been one of a slow march of reduction, long gone are the days of Council meeting twice a month, a process that once delivered for a total of 24 public opportunities to view the mechanics of civic government.

This year for instance the "scheduled" sessions number at but 20 (and declining fast), with Council only meeting once a month in July, August, September and December.

The reduced amount of time in public session certainly makes for an interesting approach to the concept of openness and transparency, that ever popular theme that most of the current council proclaimed their devotion to during the 2014 Council election.

The brevity of those sessions that they do hold, has also delivered a bit of a trend where there is little in the way of discussion and more in the way of Announcements of late.

For the most part now, what we get is a Council that relays the list of some of the work that they have apparently been addressing outside of the public sessions, with little explanation provided as to how they reached their decisions.

At this current pace of cancellation, the gap between the Closed sessions and the Open and public ones, is something that is certainly starting to shift in the wrong direction.

Considering this percolating approach of ripping up the calendar, the city's residents might want to give some thought to changing the way that we approach pay for Council members, perhaps considering payment on a per meeting basis, rather than with a monthly stipend.

Should Council keep to this trend of cancelling off the public sessions, we might be able to save enough money that we wouldn't have pay that 1.5 percent tax increase that Council is on the cusp of approving.

Then again if they continue to keep closing the doors to open sessions, one wonders if we should have to pay it at all.

For more items related to City Council issues see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

For the Canadian Coast Guard, the employment ship is coming in

A strong surge of hiring is ahead for the Canadian Coast guard, with the government agency set to hire over 500 workers across Canada through this year, with over 150 positions to be made available in British Columbia.

The employment push comes as the Federal Government prepares to move forward with the ambitious Ocean Protection Plan that it outlined last November,

As we noted on the blog at that time, the Coast Guard was considered a key element of that protection program, with the Government announcing plans to create Community Response Teams in coastal communities along the BC coast.

Port Hardy had a primary focus at that time selected as a key staging site for Marine Response services, and it's expected that some of the new employment push will come from those plans.

As part of the government program Coast guard vessels will receive additional resources for marine rescue work, while Communication services on the West coast will also continue to see additional resources directed to facilities.

Unifor, the Union that represents workers with the Coast Guard however have taken note that none of the positions will replace retiring workers, nor do they address the cuts made by the previous government of Stephen Harper, when the Federal government reduced the Coast Guards footprint in a number of communities.

The union also has concerns as to long term funding for the Ocean protection plan, noting that the Trudeau government has only put funding in place for a five year period as part of the program.

The Coast Guard Vessel Tanu tied up at the
Prince Rupert Coast Guard Base at Seal Cove

Still, for those looking for a job with the Coast Guard the next few months should provide a good opportunity to sign on, with job fairs planned across the country to outline what is being offered.

Even as the Coast Guard makes its plans to take on additional staff nationwide, Prince Rupert features prominently in positions currently identified as availalbe with DFO or Coast Guard.

With the following positions listed on the Coast Guard Employment website today:

The Marine Communications program has been part of an ongoing recruitment process, in late November we outlined the Coast Guards engagement on the North Coast as they put a focus on local First Nations and coastal residents, making note of the unique knowledge of the region that local applicants could have to offer the service.

You can learn more about the range of career opportunities that the Coast Guard has to offer here, it's a site worth book marking for future use as the expansion program begins to gather steam over the next few months.

More background on the Coast guard plans can be reviewed from a range of media stories from the last few days.

Canadian Coast Guard needs new recruits
Canadian Coast Guard on hiring blitz, 150 positions in B.C.
Canadian Coast Guard hiring spree in B.C.

For more items related to the work of Emergency Services in the Northwest see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Victoria Viewpoints: Wednesday March, 29, 2017

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Provincial scene.

NDP push B.C. to halt eviction of 21 West Vancouver retirement residents
Amid opioid crisis, UBC students create wearable device that aims to save lives
Slight opportunity to negotiate new softwood lumber deal with U.S.: B.C. envoy
Border-crosser arrests drop steeply in B.C., rise elsewhere
Safe Third Country Agreement to stay, pledges immigration minister
Vancouver seniors face eviction from retirement home
B.C. envoy says softwood lumber negotiations 'in the hands of the U.S.'
Province pledges $2M for the Michael Cuccione Foundation
Case of two B.C. men tests limits of workplace discrimination legislation
Lack of access - not apathy - reason behind low young voter turnout, group says
Charity blames  'clerical error' for illegal donation to B.C. Liberals
Clark's name-calling opens premier to replies in kind
Fassbender campaigns fast and loose with taxpayers' cash
Old Fast Ferry files getting a new look
Desjardins taking leave from municipal CRD duties to focus on provincial race
BC Liberals want to trim WorkSafeBC surplus
City of Vancouver looks to 'reset' housing strategy to better address affordability crunch
BC to make move on invasive mussels
Early trading at UBC election stock market predicts hung parliament with BC Greens holding balance of power
When does B.C. government advertising become partisan electioneering?
B.C. pays a 'Huge Premium' for Contracting out Health Admin: Analyst
How the BC Liberals played politics with BC Hydro

Ottawa Observations: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments
from the Federal scene for Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

Michael Ignatieff appeals to Canada, Europe to save University in Hungary
Peter McKay gives boost to Erin O'Toole in Tory leadership race
Quebec's surplus budget offers hope, but trouble lurks around the corner
Montreal LRT is first test for Ottawa's private sector infrastructure plans
Trudeau still committed to carbon tax despite Trump's action on climate
Human rights on the table in any Canada-China free trade deal: McCallum
Trudeau pledges 'historic investment' in child care, critics call it overselling
Trump TV, and a border tax: Canada gripped by a new reality show
Kellie Leitch didn't know anti-Islamic group was part of Brampton event, campaign manager says
Top general says no systemic problems at Royal Military College after report on suicide, sexual misconduct
Senator Murray Sinclair responds to Lynn Beyak's defence of residential schools
A 'hard Brexit' creates uncertainty for Canada on what's next for trade
Justin Trudeau called 'scumbag' while touting federal child care plan in Winnipeg
Some Conservative leadership rivals tout numbers as deadline to sign up members passes
Trudeau government's vacant appointments backlog up 80%
Deadline for women to opt out of RCMP sex harassment settlement is today
Byelection performance can be predictive of future results
Trudeau airport secure despite concerns about radicalized workers, officials say
Americans increasingly refused entry to Canada, documents show
Canada's new ambassador to Beijing says Ottawa open to more, more, more'
What Trump means to Canadian oil and manufacturing
Five things to watch in the Conservative leadership race
In defence of Senator Lynn Beyak
'Fundamental flaw' in our national security
Canadians fed up with being asylum-seekers' patsies
Canadian airport employees ID'd as ISIS supporters: Report
Border, airport security needs attention
Video shows Kellie Leitch at 'deeply troubling' meeting with group that called for ban on Muslims
How Kevin O'Leary could improve provincial economic policies without any coercion
Conservative candidate gives Liberals a new hot button for fundraising. It's called 'The Brad Trost Thing'
Liberals looking to implement roadside tests for pot smokers, says Trudeau's marijuana czar
Canada looking to contribute to 'deep space habitat' orbiting moon and eventual Mars mission
'Nationalize' Postmedia? That's just the first step
Rona Ambrose upset by Brad Trost 'gay pride' parade comments
Government holding the line on asylum policy, in spite of low support
Putin tours Arctic archipelago where Russia is building military base
Overwhelming majority of Canadians say refugee rules must change
Kevin O'Leary wants Conservative rivals to publicly reveal paid membership tally
Confessions of a self-loathing Tory

BC Ferries set for North Coast vessel shift this Saturday

Back to work for the Northern Adventure, which will return
to service following a refit this Saturday

It's welcome back to the Northern Adventure, and bon voyage to the Northern Expedition as BC Ferries makes a vessel change on its Northern Service as of this Saturday.

The Northern Adventure having just returned from its annual refit will begin service on the both the Haida Gwaii and Inside Passage routes as of this Saturday.

At the same time the Northern Expedition will be heading off for its own refit, a process that is expected to take two and half months. In addition to its makeover, the Northern Expedition will also receive its recertification during its short absence from North Coast service.

It will be till we meet again for the Northern Expedition,
the BC Ferry is heading for refit as of Saturday

It's anticipated that the Northern Expedition will return to service on June 19th, just in time to service what is expected to be a robust summer tourism season on the North Coast.

More on the vessel changeover can be found here.

For further items of interest related to Marine Transportation on the North Coast see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Cow Bay Marina opens applications for three summer positions

Ahoy  all ye would be mateys, the City of Prince Rupert is looking for you!

The Cow Bay Marina is making its plans for the 2017 boating season and as they prepare to ramp things up on the welcome front, they are seeking some staff for the summer season.

The City posted three job opportunities for the waterfront facility on Tuesday, all of them directed to college or university students who are enrolled in a current program, two of the positions are temporary full time and one on a part time basis.

Senior High School students will be considered for the part-time employment.

In their Job posting the City notes that they are looking for candidates who must be passionate about Prince Rupert, have a great customer service aptitude, a reliable work ethic and keen sense of work safety.

Candidates are also expected to act as community ambassadors and direct marina visitors to local businesses, services and attractions.

Those interested in the positions are asked to submit a cover letter and resume to the Human Resources Department at City Hall at 424 3rd Avenue West,  Prince Rupert, BC, V8J 1L7

The email address is

The Cow Bay Dock Facility opened last year and 2017 is expected to be a strong tourist year after a full year of promotion for the city's latest tourist service.

A quiet scene at the Cow Bay dock in this photo, but the City is hopeful
that the 2017 Tourism season will make it a busy place through the summer

You can review the job requirements for the job opportunities below:
(click to enlarge)

More notes on past employment opportunities with the City can be found from our archive page.

You can find more about the tourist season ahead from our archive pages here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review