Thursday, January 31, 2013

City Council set to issue a rebuke on the thought of a Ridley Terminals sale

Prince Rupert City Councillor Thorkelson led the charge on Monday evening, providing a lengthy and rather expressive denouncement of the plans of the Federal Government to put Ridley Terminals up for sale.

Monday's discussion on the topic of Ridley Terminals came about from the last Council meeting, when the City Council requested that City staff provide a report on the current state of the proposed sale and compare it with council's thoughts on the topic when the issue last came up for discussion a few years back.

With the report read into the record by Rob Grodecki, Council was then invited to make comment on the findings of staff, which offered Councillor Thorkelson opportunity to make her case that a strongly worded letter of protest should be sent to the Federal Ministers responsible for Ridley Terminals. She also suggested that the letter should be forwarded to the provincial government and the local governments of the region.

She carried the bulk of the conversation on the topic, outlining her concerns over the potential disruption to the local economy that could come about with privatization.  With the public and the City having no public oversight on developments at the Terminal.

Calling the idea of privatization to be inane, she offered up the scenario of private ownership in times of market downturns making a decision to close the terminal, with little recourse for the City to affect any decision.

Councillor Ashley joined in on the conversation, suggesting that the letter also be forwarded to the Prime Minister as well as to Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District.

Councillor Thorkelson also (perhaps more for dramatic effect) offered up the thought that perhaps the City should put forward  a revenue sharing proposal for the Federal Government over operations at Ridley Terminals, a prospect that would seem rather unlikely with the Conservatives holding office at the moment.

You can review the report and the discussion that followed its delivery from the City Council video archive page, the Ridley Terminals question starts at the 1:34:00 mark and continues on until 1:44:00.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists looking at Bill Belsey timeline

The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists of British Columbia, confirmed today that they are in the process of conducting an investigation into the timeline of Bill Belsey's work as a lobbyist in Victoria.

Mary Carlson, the deputy registrar of lobbyists confirmed for Canadian Press today, that her office was "actively investigating whether Mr. Belsey was lobbying and if he was lobbying whether he was registered as required."

Red flags apparently were raised late last year after emails regarding the Watson Island situation  were obtained by the Globe and Mail.

At the time, the Globe was looking further into the ongoing legal proceedings between the City of Prince Rupert and Sun Wave Resources surrounding Watson Island, Mr. Belsey has been representing the Sun Wave interests of businessman Ritao Ni, on the site over the last few years.

The emails became a minor sensation last month, when it was reported that information was shared between members of the Liberal Cabinet and the Sun Wave representative. Though media interest seemed to wane as the holidays arrived.

Vancouver Sun-- Pesky leaks reveal B. C. Liberals' sneaky way of doing business
CBC News-- B. C. Cabinet minister under fire for release of email
Victoria Times Colonist-- NDP questions Bell's email to insider, lobbyist
Globe and Mail-- B. C. Jobs Minister must be investigated after e-mail shared, NDP critic says
Monday Liberals show they still don't get it
Vancouver Sun-- Optics of Bell's email stink: NDP B. C. minister forwarded cabinet email to lobbyist: NDP

However, the one month gap in time certainly didn't slow down the work of the ORL which now looks into the timeline of the events that led to the current investigation.

The question of note it seems, is if Mr. Belsey was acting in the role of a lobbyist for Sun Wave prior to his registration as a lobbyist for the company, a registration which is reported to have been made on or around December 10th. (see item 5 from ORL website page)

The former Liberal MLA for the North Coast and current Vice President of the Liberal party did register as a lobbyist on November 20th, when according to ORL records he registered as a lobbyist for the Gitxaala Nation. (see item six from ORL website page)

One year prior to November of 2012, The Gtxaala Nation had previously requested an injunction against the proposed sale of Watson Island. Taking on the services of Mr. Belsey in 2012 would suggest that they still hold an active interest in developments regarding the Watson Island site.

Northern View-- Kitkatla drops request for injunction against Watson Island sale, but seeks new declaration
CFTK-- Kitkatla, Prince Rupert at odds over Watson Island's Future

As for the investigation itself, there was no timeline provided by the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists as to how long the investigation will take, or in what form it will take.

Upon completion of the investigation, the findings will be posted to the ORL website, listed in their compliance investigations section.

Globe and Mail-- BC LIberal VP probed for alleged violation of lobbying rules...
Vancouver Province-- B. C. Liberal VP investigated for failing to register as lobbyist

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Souvenirs from the Sovereignty summit

Our Premier went to Scotland and all we got were a bunch of t shirts!

It wasn't quite the meeting of the minds independiste, that perhaps Pauline Marois might have hoped for. Her hop, skip and a jump from Davos to Edinburgh, didn't provide many of those desired photo ops for the folks back home and more importantly, face time with would be Scottish separator in chief Alex Salmond was limited to say the least.

Much is being made of the less than fulsome discussions that the two had during Madame Marois stay in Edinburgh and as for her blue print of independence? Well as things turned out, it wasn't particularly something that it seems is going to be bed time reading for Mr. Salmond.

Not that it would be a surprise, the previous two attempts by the Parti Quebecois to lead Quebec out of confederation weren't the thing of great deliverance, though they came closer the last time than the one before. Still, if you're hoping for a positive result in your own campaign of secession, it seems that there's not much to learn from the PQ, well except perhaps how not to conduct a campaign.

One of the reasons perhaps for the Salmond snub as it was, is that one of the key planks of those against Scottish independence is the suggestion that Mr. Salmond and his troops are inclined to a neverendum concept, something that it seems no one is inclined to want to seem develop.

So it's probably a wise strategy not to be seen taking counsel from the party across the pond that seems to have made that part of its raison d'ĂȘtre.

For the PQ leader it wasn't the best of road trips, marginalized as a fly by conversation partner doesn't exactly add to your gravitas when trying to make your case for your own moment of destiny.

Having your blueprint as it is, tossed into the equivalent of the bottom drawer of a desk no one looks into, probably says more about your past than your future.

Still, she did get a mention in the Guardian newspaper, so for the scrapbook it was no doubt a grand success, just as long as you don't keep the actual article clipping with the photo array.

And any chance to travel is no doubt a welcome relief from the day to day grind of spending federal money as fast as you can, just in case you don't have access to it in the years to come.

Like any traveller, no doubt for Madame Marois there was the need to pick up some souvenirs for the folks back home. We hope that she at least picked up some nice tee shirts to mark the occasion, there seems to be a wide ranging fashion line for the independence minded Scots...

And for her scrapbook, there are now many reminders available to her, marking her brief moment on the highlands.

Montreal Gazette-- PQ's Marois in Scotland: Braveheart it wasn't
Montreal Gazette-- Marois to visit Scotland, where a binding referendum on independence will be held before the end of 2014
CJAD-- Marois interfering with Scottish affairs: Libs
National Post-- Marois had planned to share her 'referendum files' with Scottish First Minister 
National Post-- Scotland far closer to sovereignty than Quebec as Marois heads to Edinburgh for meeting with separatists
CBC-- Quebec Premier, Scottish Independence leader meet privately
CBC-- Premier Pauline Marois in Scotland
CBC-- Marois talks referendum in English interview with BBC Scotland (includes audio)
Toronto Star-- Quebec Premier Pauline Marois visits Scottish leader
CTV-- Seeking sovereignty support in Scotland
CTV-- Separatist summit in Scotland (video)
CTV-- Summit kept discreet (video) Quebec Premier Pauline Marois to talk sovereignty with Scottish separatists
The Guardian-- Alex Salmond takes spotlight away from nationalists' summit

More discord between Union and School Board?

Prince Rupert may soon be in store for a replay of the battle of wills between the local teachers union membership and the School Board, something last seen in the great "Yertle the Turtle debate" of last year.

Rumblings along the world of twitter through the day today have it that a bit of a kerfuffle has evolved in the local schools over the wearing of  t-shirts, one which features a passage from the  Charter of Rights and Freedoms from the Canadian Constitution.

The section in question is section 2, which guarantees Rights and Freedoms for those studying their Canadian constitution handbook at home.

The main thrust of the discussion it seems is, that according to the PRDTU President Joanna Larson, the t shirts were deemed one of a political message of sorts and a request we gather was made that they be removed from the school(s) in question.

That at least are the details the Vancouver Sun has discovered after conversations with both sides.

From there, the discussion has moved onto the social networks with much in the way of examination of what is and is not considered a political statement and what is considered the expression of free speech.

For those that wish to follow along with the theme, the twitter feed #bctf perhaps offers the best starting point to try and make sense of all of today's developments.

So far, there have been no public press releases put forward to the media from either side, short of the item now published in the Sun, and the flurry of activity on the social network of the day and all of that was from the BCTF perspective.

So for now it appears to be an internal thing at the local level, though judging by the tone of some of the discussion of Monday, there is the possibility that it may spawn further such displays across the province and perhaps into another province.

Some of the twitter reaction of Monday came from Ontario, which is currently embroiled in their own labour troubles in education and were seeking out information on how to show their support.

More of the mystery of the latest dispute between School District 52 and the local membership of the PRDTU may be revealed tomorrow morning on CBC Radio's Daybreak North. Prince Rupert based producer/researcher George Baker seems to suggests as much with his own contribution to the twitter debate today. An indication that perhaps a report is planned for 7:15 on the morning news program.

This latest local brush fire comes as things appeared to have settled down over the last year or so in the wake of last years dispute between the BCTF and the Ministry of Education.

Prior to today's discussion point, the education dispute of the previous year had given all the appearances of being in a bit of a holding pattern, set to remain that way it seemed until the next provincial election in May is out of the way.

Though it does seem that Prince Rupert always has local issues that flare up on occasion, most recently the PRDTU expressed their concern over the ongoing use of consultants in the School District.

It has been an ongoing issue of their concern going back a few years now.

Today's dispute, could provide much of the same kind of coverage that last years Yertle the Turtle did, which again saw the topic of political statements and their place within the School District explored, gaining a fair amount of attention to the local dispute on the national level.

April 26, 2012-- Dr. Seuss classic Yertle the Turtle-- Too Political?
April 25, 2012-- Prince Rupert School District Vetoes Yertle the Turtle
April 25, 2012-- Dr. Seuss quote too political, Prince Rupert teacher told
April 25, 2012-- Dr. Seuss too political for B. C. students
April 24, 2012-- Dr. Seuss's Yertle the Turtle deemed to political for B. C. classroom
April 24, 2012-- Dr. Seuss quote too political for B. C. school

The t-shirt dispute it would seem may be in that same kind of category and most likely we will be hearing much more about it over the next little while.


CBC featured the controversy on the Tuesday morning edition of Daybreak North, audio of the report which featured both School District Superintendent Lynn Hauptman and PRDTU President Joanna Larson can be found here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, January 28, 2013

A ten year plan, that didn't last ten minutes

Last week's announcement from Premier Christy Clark of peace in our time on the education front, didn't resonate very much with the target of her olive branch, nor did it last very long on the front burner.

The much trumpeted ten year agreement, seemed to come as a surprise as much to the province's teachers union the BCTF, as it did with those that negotiate with them, especially since the two sides were setting up the protocols for renewed bargaining in the months to come.

Vancouver Sun-- B. C. teachers and employers adopt framework for labour negotiations; talks to begin February 4th
Vancouver Sun-- Secret, tentative agreement intended to improve B. C. teacher bargaining

The secrecy of that framework agreement seems to have even caught the Education Minister Don McRae by surprise, which isn't exactly a reassuring thing for British Columbians, who may be excused if they wonder if the Liberal government really has any kind of handle on the education file at the moment.

At any rate, as the week played out and moving forward we imagine, the Premier's announcement seems to have taken on more of a positioning statement for the upcoming election. Possibly now to be considered some groundwork of the approach the Liberals may be planning heading into the election, highlighting their desires for a lengthy term of peace on the educational labour front.

The BCTF of course, most likely won't be signing on to any kind of long range agreement with that election in the offing. And in reality, may just bid their time with the framework agreement on negotiations that they now have agreed on.

With the most recent opinion polls showing a healthy lead for the NDP, the BCTF would no doubt be of the thinking that a much more teacher friendly deal is possible after the May election.

The ten year plan from the Premier seems like more of a campaign platform talking point, as opposed to an actual document of reconciliation, combined with her current polling difficulties, it may be just another balloon floating in the air by the time May arrives.

Of course, British Columbians may be interested in learning what Adrian Dix might have in mind regarding the seemingly never ending acrimony between teachers and government.

We suspect however, that Dix will be holding on to his ideas just a little bit longer, perhaps offering up snippets of his approach when the actual campaign for the May election gets underway.

After all, best to let the Premier's program continue to attract fire and provide for a discussion piece, it gives the NDP a chance to see what resonates with the public.

Should the NDP come to power in May, as at the moment seems likely, just how much of the Premier's plan that lives past May remains to be seen, but one gets the feeling in the end any kind of discussion between teachers and government won't have many of the Premier's fingerprints on it when all is said and done.

Some of the reviews of the Premier's announcement and what the path ahead may be can be found below.

Vancouver Sun-- Christy Clark's proposals for peace with teachers 'ludicrous', BCTF head says
Vancouver Sun-- After a decade of failure, Liberals have some new ideas about bargaining with teachers
Vancouver Province-- Christy Clark's offer to teacher's won't solve problem
Vancouver Province-- B. C. teachers slam proposed path to 10 year deal aimed at ending acrimony
Georgia Straight-- Why Christy Clark wants to be seen as a saviour of education
The Tyee-- Premier Clark unveils framework for peace with teachers
24 Hours-- Listen to parents to spend money wisely
24 Hours-- Focus on labour peace ignores underfunding

Jennifer Rice claims North Coast NDP nomination

The NDP on the North Coast gathered at Prince Rupert's Fisherman's Hall on Saturday, set to select the person to carry their banner into the next provincial election this May.

When the counting was done, late Saturday afternoon it was Prince Rupert Councillor Jennifer Rice who carried the day, topping the polls over Prince Rupert District Teachers Union President Joanna Larson.

The news first delivered via Gary Coons twitter feed, which congratulated both candidates on their campaign and provided a number of photos of the days developments.

CFTK Television's website broke down the vote count as 180 in favour of Rice, with 116 votes case in favour of Larson.

The victory by the Prince Rupert City Councilor could be perceived as a bit of an upset, heading into the final week of the nomination battle, the leadership of the union movement in the city seemed to be firmly in the camp of Ms. Larson/

As we outlined earlier this month, endorsements offered to Ms. Larson's campaign. compared to those of Ms. Rice, were heavily weighted towards the labour leaders and more established members of the NDP of the north coast.

A trend that continued on into the last week of the nomination campaign, with one time Prince Rupert Mayoralty candidate Gloria Rendell throwing her support behind Ms. Larson.

Yet, at the end of the balloting it is clear now that it was the campaign of Ms. Rice that seemed to resonate the most with the local NDP membership, less controversial in nature and more inclined towards the environmental issues, her approach to the contest proved to be the more successful as the final push played out into Saturday.

Next up for the Councillor, a decision as to her status on Prince Rupert City Council and then the preparations for a provincial election campaign, with the poll results of late suggesting the very real possibility that the party she represents will form the next government.

Ms. Rice is the first declared candidate in that provincial campaign to come, the Liberals have yet to nominate a candidate for the North Coast, nor have the BC Conservatives or Green party.

Considering the environmental passions of the new NDP nominee, one would imagine that the Green party will be sitting things out on the North coast when May rolls around.

You can examine items of note moving forward in the campaign and those from the past at the Legislature from our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Friday, January 11, 2013

Joanna Larson leading the endorsement parade in North Coast NDP Race

As we head towards of the home stretch of the race to replace outgoing NDP MLA Gary Coons in the NDP nomination race on the North Coast, it would seem that at this particular moment, Prince Rupert Teachers Association head Joanna Larson has become the perceived front runner in the contest with Prince Rupert City Councillor Jennifer Rice.

At least, that would be the impression if one were to use as a guideline, the number of NDP members on the North Coast willing to share their endorsement one way or the other.

With little in the way of public discussion (or coverage in the media for that matter) of late regarding the two candidates for the nomination and the opportunity to run in the upcoming spring election, we're left to divine the two candidates platforms and their fate mainly from the activity on their web pages and twitter feeds.

Jennifer Rice
Joanna Larson

All of which doesn't really give us much to work with as to what they might like to see done in the riding, or what they may take to Victoria to represent us, if successful in the spring election.

The lack of media attention to the nomination process hasn't really provided us with more than generalities as well, other than the introduction to the candidates upon the announcements of their candidacies, the nomination run has take place more or less under the radar.

And while Councillor Jennifer Rice seems to be matching her opponent in public appearances and such around the vast North Coast riding.

When it comes to the admittedly rather unscientific review of endorsements, it would seem that as we move towards the final weeks of the nomination process, at the moment Ms. Larson is building up a larger body of support and building it from the usual quarters.

Not surprisingly we guess, much of Councillor Rice's support seems to be among the environmental supporters in the region, while as might be expected, most of the support for Ms. Larson seems to be coming from the North Coast's labour movement, including a shout out from a prominent local NDPer and past city councillor.

The list thus far of official endorsements, as listed on the candidates web pages can be found below.

Jennifer Rice

Jaunita Parnell
Jess Housty
Nelson Kinney
Pat Murray
Kevin Newton
Leslie Rowlands
Lee Brain

A look at what they have to say about their prefferred candidate can be found here.

Joanna Larson

Joy Thorkelson
Gabriel Bureau
Arnie Bellis
Reagan Sawka
Arnie Nagy
David Chudnovsky
Emily Mieczko
Janet Beil
Paul Kennedy

The impressions of the supporters of Ms. Larson can be found here.

There is of course, still time for the battle for hearts and minds of local NDP members, though if the usual lines of support that seem in place continue to grow, the start of any eventual path to Victoria might soon become a little harder to climb for the City Councillor.

You can look back at some of the past items of note on North Coast issues from our At the Legislature archive.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trans Canada Pipelines gets the nod for natural gas pipeline to Prince Rupert

The plans for Petronas Energy to ship LNG to Asian markets took another step forward on Wednesday, with word that Trans Canada Pipelines has been chosen to construct the pipeline to the proposed Lelu Island LNG shipment terminal.

The projects, both terminal and pipeline are still of course subject to the variety of environmental reviews ahead of them.

Should they be approved, a timeline of construction is expected to start in 2015 with completion anticipated by 2018.

The pipeline project is officially known as Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project and would required 750 kilometres of pipe to transport 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day, with expansion capabilities built in for future use.

The announcement of Wednesday and follow up statement from the Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver,  made for much in the way of news coverage from a variety of sources, highlighting the scope of the project and the impact that it could have on Northern BC should the mega projects gain approval.

Prince George Citizen-- Pipeline firm chosen
Prince George Free Press-- TransCanada to build pipeline for Progress Energy
CKPG TV-- New TransCanada Natural Gas Pipeline Announced (video)
CKPG-- New TransCanada Pipeline
Oil and Gas Journal-- Progress Energy makes progress on Prince Rupert gas line
Bloomberg-- TransCanada Plans $5.1 Billion Pipeline to LNG Terminal
CFTK-- TransCanada Awarded Prince Rupert Gas Line Contract
The Northern View-- Trans Canada chosen to build $5 billion dollar pipeline to serve LNG terminal near Prince Rupert
Global TV-- Progress Energy picks Trans Canada for $5 billion natural gas pipeline project
National Post-- Trans Canada to build $5 billion gas pipeline for Progress Energy
Globe and Mail-- Petronas taps Trans Canada for pipeline
The Tyee-- TransCanada to build $5 billion shale gas pipeline project near Prince Rupert

The anticipated job creation in the construction phase would be around 2,000 jobs, while the completed terminal in Prince Rupert would provide for between 200 to 300 positions at the proposed Lelu Island complex.

The TransCanada and Petronas projects are but one of two major LNG initiatives currently in the planning stages for the Prince Rupert area. Projects are also in the planning stages for Kitimat.

Last fall, representatives of the BG Group announced their plans for the North Coast. Following that announcement the company held Open Houses in Prince Rupert and Port Edward to outline their proposed terminal.

You can review much of the information flow on the LNG proposals from our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Northern BC school boards push back at Provinicial Government

School has been back in session for four days now and while teachers and students knuckle down to the work of a new year, a number of School Boards are getting to work to try and get the attention of the Ministry of Education.

Many will be following up on some correspondences that they made over the Christmas break, outlining their concerns over something called the Cooperative Gains Mandate, an edict from the Ministry of Education, which instructs as to wage increases for a variety of employee groups and the requirements for them on the local level.

But for those School Boards that are pushing back, it's a directive that provides a plan, that in the opinion of those School Boards isn't one that is feasible.

School District 52 offered up their thoughts to the Ministry of Education, providing a letter to Minister Don McRae that outlines their concerns, explaining how they believe that it is not viable to find savings in the middle of a fiscal year and without time to properly consult with their partner groups.

And while SD 52 clearly has had a few issues of their own over the last few years when it comes to expenditures, overall the tone of their letter in this instance at least seems spot on.

The directive and the timing of it, would seem to be providing for a problematic math problem for those that have to balance budgets.

Terrace's Coast Mountain School Board is another one of the Boards of Education, that issued their concerns to Minister McRae, a copy of their letter was provided for the Terrace Standard last month.

CFTK-- Coast Mountain School Board Opposes Education Minister's Budget Request

The School District in Prince George is also addressing the issue, with their own letter of concern to the Minister, much like the Coast Mountain District, the Prince George District believes that the request at this time is "unreasonable and poorly timed", coming as it does barely six months into the current fiscal period.

The Prince George Citizen-- Board balks at school squeeze 
Opinion 250-- SD 57 Trustees Call on Min. of Education to Withdraw Request
CKPG TV-- Trustees Sound Off on Education Ministry Request

And School Boards in the North are not alone in their concern over the change to the financial blue print that the province has requested.

The battle for funding it seems, will be a rather hot issue for the New Year, something that will make the run up for the election in the Spring a bit uncomfortable for Premier Clark and her Education Minister.

Vancouver Sun-- B. C. School Trustees riled by minister's request for savings
Vancouver Sun-- B. C. School Boards asked to find money for employee pay increases
Burnaby now-- Battle Brewing for B. C. Boards

For the most part the Boards of Education believe that the wage increases are warranted, however the financial juggling that will be required by respective School Districts and at such a late date in their budget year, will in their opinion result in reduction of services or passing the costs back onto the public.

Neither of which it seems are topics that the Boards of Education find to be an acceptable path at the moment.

Their concerns, add to yet another troublesome issue for a provincial government that seems to have yet to find its proper balance and at times seems to actively seek controversy, when it comes to public education in the province.

Clearly, hitting up the School Districts with an unexpected financial request and then insisting that they balance their budgets once again, is not resonating well with those on the front line of the administration chain.

And as School District 52 points out rather succinctly in their correspondence, consultation on matters of education and education funding, seems to be an ongoing problem between Ministry and Boards of Education, as in, there doesn't seem to be much of it these days.

Somebody at the Ministry of Education may have to start sharpening their own pencils and make the walk up to the Premiers Office to explain that at the moment, the numbers aren't adding up and for the most part it's not the fault of those that have to distribute the pennies on the local level.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

British Columbia's coal exporters are onboard the Ridley privatization train

While some groups and politicians raise a red flag over the proposed privatization of Prince Rupert's Ridley Terminals, in some quarters the move to the private sector is getting a green light.

One such nod of approval comes from the coal sector, where the Chairman of the Ridley Terminals User Group has offered up his organizations endorsement of the planned privatization of Ridley Terminals.  With Chairman Doug Smith suggesting that the sale could better position the facility for expansion beyond its plans to double terminal capacity by the end of 2014.

In the opinion of Mr. Smith, speaking on behalf of his organization, the impression is that "the privatization of Ridley Terminals would positively affect their access to capital" adding that "There's the potential to expand beyond current expansion plans and that would require additional capital and presumably a buyer would assess that based on the market demand"

Ridley Terminals is currently in the midst of a major expansion project, and expansion that will double the capacity of the terminal to 24 million tonnes by the end of 2014.

The keys for the user group as far as a potential investor are:

a) A commitment to running the terminal on an open-access basis, which the federal government has promised

b) Providing for mechanisms to protect shipping rates to terminal users

Smith also advised that the users group would want to have a mechanism in place to arbitrate rates in situations where the terminal and shippers couldn't come to an agreement.

Expectations in the shipping industry are that the sale will attract wide interest from coal shippers and companies that run terminals, with the prospect being that the Canadian taxpayers will get a good return on their investment as the Government divests itself of the Terminal.

The full review of how the coal industry sees the proposed sale of Ridley Terminals can be found from this article in Business Vancouver.

Our archive of items on the Ridley Terminals file can be found here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, January 3, 2013

From Prince George, a hopeful step forward in the goal of Accountability and Transparency

An interesting item of note from Prince George today, an item from the Opinion 250 website that advises that Prince George City Councillor Brian Skakun is presenting a motion to Prince George City Council, seeking more information on some of the financial dealings of the City of Prince George.

Councillor Skakun told wrote in his motion to Prince George City Council that  his request is  a result of questions posed to him by residents. He says that in the interest of financial accountability and transparency the information should be made public. “I also feel that as an elected official I should be able to access this type of information upon request to help fulfill my oversight obligations I have to the residents of Prince George.

His motion requests detailed information on the expenses from Civic Administration and outlines the problems currently in place to access such forms of information when it comes to City of Prince George dealings with a number of expenditures.

He is hoping to see a more streamlined and easily accessible process in place to follow the money trail if you will of civic expenditures.

To move the motion forward, Skakun will require a seconder at Prince George Council on January 7th something that is not particularly a given.

His point though is a valid one, especially the portion of his motion that  in the interest of financial accountability and transparency the information should be made public.

Those terms accountability and transparency are favourites of politicians on the campaign trail, suddenly banished from their lexicon it seems upon arrival in office.

We've heard it frequently in Prince Rupert over the years, only to find that less and less information seems to be made public with each passing year.

Instead some strange sense of Omerta overtakes politicians it seems once they are in office and instead of open discussion, we find that special sessions of council and such take place more and more frequently.

The nod to transparency and maybe even some accountability, is apparently a notice on the City's website that Council will meet in Special session, with a note as to the subject ie: to discuss items on Watson Island.

Then the goal of transparency is dashed as the first item of business after being called to order, is to seemingly exclude the public.

It will be worth watching how Mr. Skakun's motion proceeds in Prince George, it would be fascinating to see if that spirit of accountability and transparency moves  westbound, we're pretty sure that Prince Rupert residents could come up with a short list of contentious items that they might wish to have more information about.

It's not the first time that Councillor Skakun has been visible on matters of Prince George politics, last year he was found guilty of breaching privacy laws when he leaked internal city documents to local media in Prince George.

At the time he was fined 750 dollars for violating the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,  an appeal was declined by the Courts and Mr. Skakun outlined his disappointment on that outcome to the CBC.

Clearly however, he hasn't lost his interest in seeking information on issues that Prince George residents  have inquired about. it will be interesting to see if any of his fellow councillors share that interest in learning more about the financials of the City they are governing.

The full review of Councillor Skakun's motion can be found here, of interest to politicians everywhere some of the comments that follow it, where even those that don't particularly find much interest in Mr. Skakun's politics, are onside in his quest for answers and transparency.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review