Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Alternative Health Care For The Rich - Alberta Health Minister Iris Evans

"These will be alternatives for people that can afford to pay for them." says Alberta Health Minister Iris Evans about Alberta's "Third Way" health care reform in Alberta as reported by the Globe and Mail and by CBC. The big question is how will Stephen Harper deal with this reform especially when he said he will support the Canada Health Care Act. Canoe says it's his first major test. If you live in Alberta and you are wealthy you will get to the front of the line! American public health care here we come!

Vecchiato's Voice - February 28, 2006 - My E-Mail To Langley Township

I sent the following E-Mail to the people below. Let’s see if I get a response.

To Date only Two Councillors responded. They are Kim Richter and Jordan Bateman. Jordan Bateman stated that he would include the information with the tree by-law so he can use it as reference. Also Kim Richter said that she will raise the issues at council.

----- Original Message -----
From: Cathleen Vecchiato
Cc: aneufeld@tol.bc.ca Al Neufeld ; khoulden@tol.bc.ca Kurt Houlden ; jgeraghty@tol.bc.ca John Geraghty; mayorandcouncil@tol.bc.ca Mayor and Councillors
Sent: Sunday, February 26, 2006 11:16 PM
Subject: Tree By-law

Dear Township Staff and Council:

I understand that an open house will be held so that residents can submit feedback. One of the statements in document cdtree new 05-248 is that "The proposed bylaw does not apply to ALR lands because the Township lacks the jurisdiction to regulate tree cutting on these lands." However, other municipalities, Saanich in particular, require an affidavit swearing that land reserve trees are being removed for agricultural purposes only.

In addition, according to Canadian Wildlife Service, the International Migratory Bird Act supersedes the Right to Farm Act. We are in a position with this draft to make sensible additions.

Although the by-law and explanatory document are well-crafted, there are many areas that are not addressed, such as:
*If a parcel is heavily forested, couldn't staff and council mandate clustering instead of a grid pattern development? (Note that roads can curve around existing trees, thus beautifying the development).
*Reconsideration the assigning of bonus density by township, not chosen by developer.
*The potential damage of clearing and windthrow on adjacent property needs to be considered. This happens on private property and development property. In the event windthrow affects a neighboring property, who is liable?
*Allow clearing, but require a permit during nesting season, which begins March 10. This should apply to all parcels in the township. North Vancouver requires permits and proof of no nesting activity in this window.

Please note recent reports of wild bird deaths in Europe. Shouldn't we be doing our best to protect the avian species we have?

I ask you to reconsider the lack of impact the draft by-law may have. Can any of you speculate as to what difference it will make? I trust that Planning is familiar with other municipalities, and each of their restrictions is a by-law unto itself.

Thank you for your consideration.

Cathleen Vecchiato

Cathleen Vecchiato has been an outspoken environmentalist for the past 5-1/2 years. She is a very well recognized champion of the environment and a community activist in Langley as well as in other adjoining communities. Cathleen formed and leads the Langley Conservation Network. Editor-LFP

In today's Langley Advance - Tuesday February 28, 2006

The $34 million 200th Street overpass is sinking! So who's at fault and who's gonna pay?

Langley City Council led by local merchant and Councillor Terry Smith are up in arms about the Translink parking tax plan and plan to send a letter to Translink complaining about it. Notice that they are completely ignoring our illustrious Township Mayor who is on the Translink Board. Another snub? Or, maybe do they question his effectiveness in helping? Or, are they just staying away from Township Council?

Langley City once again proves they are head and shoulders above their Township neighbours in prudent money management planning. Since GVRD is raising it's water levies by 24.3 per cent in 2007, 5.3 per cent in 2008, 7.8 per cent in 2009, and 2.5 per cent in 2010, City Council just increase their water users an additional 85 cents per cubic metre. They can do so as they prudently and wisely installed water meters throughout the City years ago. (Also, it's a great water conservation motivator!) Now let's watch the Township increase our taxes across the board for the same reason because a large segment of the Township uses GVRD water. Even if you are on a well, we bet you will pay the increases too (probably through the Stormwater Levy)!

The Editor has two editorials today. In the first one, it seems he questions why we ever brought the money sink hole Olympics to Vancouver in 2010. Give him credit for guts, for being critical of 2010! The second editorial basically agrees with an earlier opinion by LFP that Township should get on with it and get over the break up with the City. The comments from some members of Council reminds us of a jilted partner who is moping around in shock and almost stalking their ex lover with a carrot and a stick to see who they will date next, ever hopeful to renew their vows! Rightfully so the Advance Editor seems to us to chastise both veteran Councillor Steve Ferguson and rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman for their almost childish reactions to the split which we agree in itself truly reaffirms to the City why they should stay away from the gaggle of goofs at Township. Did we mention Township's stellar financial performance over the last six years as another valid reason for keeping a financial distance?

Finally failed City Council candidate Rudy Storteboom wrote a letter that gushes about the Gateway Program.

Liberals Bring Down Harper On Child Care?

Liberal opposition Leader Bill Graham seems to be drawing a line in the sand on child care as reported in the Globe and Mail. Our bet is that the Liberals see this as a very weak plank for the Conservatives as the Provinces want to keep the Liberal child care plan as do the NDP and Bloc. Yet tons of parents across the Country with kids 6 years old and under are chomping at the bit to get their $1200 cheque from Harper. (PS that includes our very own Township Councillor Jordan Bateman). Which Political Leader is going to blink on this line in the sand and cross it?

PM Harper Appoints His Democratic Deficit’s First Senator!

Well he did what he said he would never do. CP reports that Conservative PM Stephen Harper today officially appointed Montreal lawyer Michael Fortier, a Conservative back room party organizer who was also named Harper's unelected Public Works minister. A double Conservative democratic deficit whammy! Notice Harper's little spin attempt to mitigate and deflect his democratic deficit move by using Alberta Premier Ralph Klein to announce on his behalf that "He's going to proceed with senatorial elections this fall". Can hardly wait to see local Conservative constituency propaganda officer and apologist, Eric, send his Letter to the Editor justifying this move too after his gawd awful attempt to justify the Emerson bait & switch move!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Local News Review February 17-26 2006

Last Week's Langley Times
The Langley Times reports that Langley City tax increases will be 1.77 % due to Casino revenues. Aren't you all eager to see what the Township gaggle of goofs are going to do with tax increases? After projects like GrandstandGate, we will be lucky to get it under 5 %!
Al Irwin reports that Township Mayor Kurt Alberts has finally got some financial religion because the Township is facing “huge challenges” and he won't rush in to finance a joint School Board drug treatment program as proposed by Councillor Kim Richter. Do you believe this? Alberts never blinked an eye on the $3-4-5 million Grandstand project yet he is now cautious on helping our youth get off drugs!

Nice of the Times to cover Muriel Arnason's tribute from Township's CUPE with a picture in the paper too. She was elected in 1979 and served until 2005. She is now a welcomed contributing columnist for LFP.

The Editor in his editorial seems to think that the City should keep investing with the Township's financial gaggle of goofs. After the Grandstand fiasco and a discussed $9 million Blair Pool expansion scaring the boots off the City, who can blame them? The best comment heard yet is that the City should take over the Township because they are better business managers. Sad but true. Kudos to the City.

Do you think that former School Board Trustee Dave Hall may be thinking of running for City Council? His letter to the editor sure sounds like it. A few months too late Dave.

Langley MLA Mary Polak comments in the paper were admirable considering she hit the high points well and admitted that their budget was a guarded and cautious budget and essentially could have done more. Meanwhile the Editor's take on the budget was saying that it was a "disappointment on many fronts" then he reversed himself saying that there were a "few worthwhile initiatives". Duh ok!

Last Week's Langley Advance
Zvonko Bezjak should get a medal for (as reported) wanting to donate a home and $15,000.00 of his own money to temporarily move a house and store it until it can be used as a homeless shelter or similar other use by Langley Township. We bet the giggle of goofs on Council will blow this one too!

The biggest joke in this article is when rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman says "it's not the money that is the issue" about the fact that the City is pulling out of the W.C. Blair pool joint venture. Let's see - the City according to the Advance provided $4.1 million over the last 20 years for capital and operating costs at the pool and sources say that the Township will now be paying at least $200,000 more annually since the City pulled out. Hello! Jordan show us the money! He's already starting to sound like the financial google of goofs on Council. Of course, it's about the money! We the taxpayers now have to make this money up after the abysmal failure of this Mayor's Council in not seeing this coming or preventing it. But the City folk still will use the pool. Better not see any City councillor's in it!

Councillor Kim Richter defended rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman's motion on a plan to penalize druggie homes when Councillor Mel Kositsky suggested that it was clearly the fault of the Provincial Liberal Party's inaction which in turn has forced the Township to be reactive on the issue. Bateman is employed by MLA Rich Coleman for communications work. Was this a low blow attempt to discredit? Nice to see Richter defending Bateman on this one. Maybe they can eventually work a little closer together. Your turn, Jordan!

There appeared to be some bad blood demonstrated when LFS board of directors president Rebecca Darnell and executive director Bill Dartnell ended up being warned considerably and repeatedly by City Councillor Terry Smith about not going over budget on the new building and that no more money would be forthcoming. Heck, can Terry give some lessons on how to handle cost overruns to the Township Mayor and Coucillors? Maybe he should run for Township Mayor.

The two Mayors' vision of their communities? We wish someone would tell us what Alberts' Councils vision of the Township is. So far it only sounds like spend, tax, and guess what, now borrow. Peter please come on over and help the Township, please. We bet you that the township speech was twice as long as the City speech.

Note that Langley City has produced their budget with third reading and as reported with no more than a total 5% increase predicted over the next 3 years. Meanwhile the "desperate househusbands" on Langley Township Council are no where near 3rd reading on their budget. You know why? They will be hard pressed to keep it under 5% EACH YEAR! The fact that it is not out yet is as Mayor Alberts said because there are "huge challenges". You bet there are when you have been on a spending spree for 6 years!

The Advance Editor hits it dead on right re the Courtship of the two Langleys. Not.

Former Mayor Candidate Tom Ouellette suggests using old Township Hall building for a homeless shelter. Not a bad idea but we thought it was an earthquake hazard as far as buildings go. So this might not be the best idea.

In case some of you think that we rant on unreasonably about our tax and spend Township government, let's look at a letter writer's comments.

Advance's reporting of Council's pay raise which by the way, surprise , surprise they all voted yes for except Councillor Kim Richter.

Carvolth School is fighting for it's life!

Last Week's Aldergrove Star
Just in case you forgot what Township's Council real priorities are read this once again.

We love Editor Langmann's rants, especially on taxes, especially GVRD & Translink taxes! (And guess who now sits on both these boards? You quessed it - Mayor Kurt Alberts with his extensive 6 years of tax and spend experience in the Township).

Then finally, there is one of Eric's letters about Belinda's defection for "personal interests and politics" rather than the we assume the principled defection of Emerson, for as Eric says, "particular skill, or knowledge, that will be of benefit to the District, Province or Canada, then it may be justified". What a bunch of self serving conservative B.S. drivel. Tell that to the constituents who are daily protesting outside Emerson's office. Drive around the constituency like I did and count the lawn signs that say "De-Elect Emerson". Didn't see that continued anger for Belinda. She got re-elected, Eric. Wanna bet Emerson won't?

Letter To The Editor - February 27, 2006 - From Sandra Zandbergen - South Carvolth School Public Survival Meeting March 8

On 8 March at 7:00 pm, there will be a public meeting at South Carvolth Environmental Elementary attended by the Langley School Board and Trustees where these questions will be raised by parents, teachers at the school and other committed citizens and the incredible strength of the programs and value of the existence rural schools will be demonstrated. The plight and uncertain future of this school in British Columbia epitomizes the inconsistent messages being sent to parents, teachers and the children in our school system. South Carvolth school offers a wonderful, warm, stimulating atmosphere for learning and an example of the type of school our community and our province needs more of. We invite you to come to this public meeting and listen to this debate and ask these questions of the Langley School board. South Carvolth Environmental Elementary is located at 928-200st in Langley.

On January 20, 2006 educators, employee groups, parent representatives and community representatives participated in a workshop, which is part of the process for developing a 2006-2008 Strategic Plan for Langley School District.
"... to put our children's education in the forefront and give them the future they deserve."

"...to achieve a quality, stable, flexible and accessible early learning and childcare system we must listen to communities about the unique needs of their parents and providers."
"Delivering opportunities for informed choices."

"Providing a safe, healthy and caring learning and working environment in which all feel confident and have a sense of belonging."

South Carvolth Environmental Elementary School is a shining example of the kind of public school put forth in their mandate.
South Carvolth Environmental Elementary School is a unique, cutting edge curriculum from Kindergarten to grade 7 combining the 3 Rs with outdoor education.
South Carvolth Environmental Elementary School has extremely committed and involved parents and teachers children who love to attend school.


South Carvolth School Group Press Release - "Fighting to Stay Alive"

24 Feb 2006: Press Release for immediate distribution:
On 2 March 2006,
South Carvolth Environmental Elementary School welcomes

Mark Warawa MP the new secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mark Warawa will visit south Langley to see
South Carvolth Environmental Elementary School, an extraordinary elementary school in Canada, which has been nationally recognized as a Great Canadian Elementary School by the Canadian Multicultural Council and Today's Parent Magazine

Given Mr. Warawa’s recent appointment as secretary to the Minister of the Environment, he is naturally interested in visiting this school which combines the 3 Rs with outdoor education and environmental science demonstrating that this rural school in south Langley is nationally progressive yet preserves the academic standards so valued in this community.

Mr. Warawa will find classrooms at South Carvolth Environmental Elementary are a striking combination of giant bugs, poems about the planet, traditional math, language arts, and history projects posted throughout the school.

This British Columbia school will inspire Mr. Warawa to share its approaches and messages as he begins his new appointment with the Minister of the Environment
Contact for more information and to attend this school during Mr. Warawa’s visit or tour this unique school :

Sandra Zandbergen
Sandra-z@shaw.ca 604-514-8989
SCHOOL ADDRESS: 982 - 200 Street, Langley
South Carvolth recognized by Canadian Multicultural Council and Today's Parent as one of the Great Canadian Elementary Schools
Grantee for environmental programs from Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds funding program
Charlotte Diamond visits the school at its opening


Scary Comparative Statistics of Military Losses

Our Canadian troops are now for the first time really engaged in direct combat fighting in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan. Casualities can be expected. Should our Canadian boys be fighting in the military Hot Zone of Kandahar or peacekeeping elsewhere? With the Harper Conservative's focus on military spending and stronger emphasis on supporting the U.S., the following graphs from lies.com display a scary scenario for the whole middle east.

The first Graph shows the first 35 months of both the Iraq and Vietnam wars U.S. soldiers killed. (Click on image for larger version)
Next, the chart shows the U.S. soldier's death toll for the entire Vietnam war. (Click on image for larger graph)

Interest Rate Hikes Looming

Bloomberg reports that on the heels of a $13.3 billion trade surplus in the 4th quarter in Canada’s favor that the Canadian dollar is almost at 88 cents (see kitco chart on sidebar)!
Great time to go to Disneyland with the kids at spring break for your US bang on the buck. Downside of great Canadian financial boom is brace yourself for interest rate hikes. Formula is easy, dollar up, booming economy and great trade surplus = interest rate hikes! Will this cool down home prices in GVRD?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Muriel's Thoughts - February 26, 2006

A very happy event took place in my life this week. I was awarded a plaque and a basket of daffodils from the Langley CUPE Union to honour my 26 years of support for the Union.

It was very kind of the executive to honour me. I come from a Union family and fully support our members. I fear that the trade Union movement will come under increasing assault. The Township now hires people on a contract basis, which means that they contract to do a job for a certain time and when the job is finished they no longer are employed. They get no pension and are paid in lieu of benefits. Also, part time staff is being hired which further decreases the power of the union.

I believe that the workers must stand united to provide proper salaries and benefits to the workers. They do their jobs well and without complaint. I feel that unions are necessary for working people to safeguard their rights. Without their solidarity, you could be exploited.

I read in the paper that Councillor Ferguson made a request that the Township amalgamate with the City, but I believe, perhaps it would be better if the City took over the Township. I admire the City Council for keeping within a budget and eliminating expenses to their taxpayers. Perhaps quiet negotiations could solve any outstanding problems. In order to bring amalgamation around, there would probably have to be a referendum, which is expensive. The matter should have been brought up as an election platform so that the people would have had an opportunity to vote on it.

I weep for the homeless in this cold weather. 60% or more of the money goes to 10% of the people and the other 90% fight for the 40% that is left. This is not right in a democratic society. I managed the Christmas Hamper Bureau for many years and personally got to know many people who desperately needed help.

As the price of land and housing increases, more and more people are going to be forced into poverty. The middle class are being financially squeezed out of existence and as I learned in my University studies, woe betides any society where the middle class is wiped out and the rich and the poor face each other. We are seeing it today with increased lawlessness.

Don’t forget that only 19.2% of the eligible people in the Township even bothered to vote. The mayor suggested that this was because the people were satisfied. This is not a mandate. I believe people feel that nobody cares about what they think.

When people get into public office, they do whatever they please for the developers and the Chamber of Commerce. If I may make a suggestion to the Township Council, be very careful about how you increase taxes because people will find a way not to pay them by deferring taxes. After all, what does it matter when you are dead whether your kin receives an inheritance when you have to be poverty stricken while you are alive?

I feel that slowly but surely, the housing market will change from a sellers market to a buyers market. I believe that the housing market has peaked and will decline. The capitalistic system works that way: ‘Boom and Bust’ – may Heaven help us all.

As for salary increases for the Councillors, they should remember that one council cannot make a decision for another. In three years, the next council may decide not to keep any obligations made by this council. No one forces anyone to run for public office. They know the salary when they run. They get lots of perks and should be satisfied because being a Councillor is not a fulltime job.

The Township pays approximately $344,000 a year to advertise the Township page in the 3 papers. Is it worth it? I don’t think so. I doubt very much if many people read it.

The newspapers get most of their revenue from advertisers. Do you think they will print anything derogatory about business and the Chamber of Commerce? I ask you to think on this. All that you have to believe about anything that you read is how it happened, where it happened and when it happened. You don’t have to believe why it happened. You have a right to think what you want on these matters and you should.

If you have concerns that you would like to talk about with me, my contact information is:

Muriel Arnason

Phone: 604-888-6264
Fax: 604-881-1140

Muriel Arnason was Langley Township's longest serving Councillor and in December 2005 decided to take a break from Council. She cares very much about the people and now shares her thoughts in LFP regularily.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Rogue Reporter Report or RRRRRR.......

Boy, do I need a drink after a council meeting!

<--- strong=""> Your new intrepid staff reporter attended a council meeting this week and a few things stuck out (both literally and figuratively).

First, when Councillor Kim Richter asked about partnering with the School Board on a project, the Mayor finally admitted that: "We have HUGE CHALLENGES in the budget coming up and can't throw figures at this time”. So whatever happened to the “GREAT FINANCIAL SHAPE” they were supposedly in during the election? Wasn’t that one of his key phrases? (I must dig out my old newspapers on election 2005)! Of course, even though they have “HUGE [financial] CHALLENGES”, mayor & council (except for Councillor Kim) still saw fit to give themselves a future pay raise at the same meeting.

Second, while discussing proposed School Board projects, the 2 councillors who had questions were Howie Vickberg & Charlie Fox. Since both these councilors are School District #35 employees, I couldn’t help but wonder why these 2 guys were leading the debate and not declaring a conflict of interest. Isn’t there something odd here? Don’t they get a pay cheque from SD #35 and isn’t that enough to qualify them for a conflict?

Third, Councillor Mel Kositsky was in great form. He admitted development in Willoughby is a "JIGSAW" and as a councillor is “CONFUSED” about how the area was developing and wants administration to get the overview map out. Gee, he’s only been a councillor for how long -15 years? Well, at least he's honest in that. As a citizen, I sure as hell can't see what they are doing (other than cutting down trees and replacing them with cracker boxes).

Councillor Mel also went on to slice a piece off of rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman, telling him that his drug policy is an admission that the Provincial Liberals have failed to aid the Township. Since Councillor Jordan works for a local MP, I thought he might not take this sitting down but instead ask Councillor Mel whatever happened to the $1.75 per vote of taxpayer money he was entitled to after running federally as an independent in the previous election. However, Councillor Jordan’s still playing ‘nice ball’. Boy, does he have a lot to learn!

Finally, after blowing $20 million on the new City Hall, it’s too bad that the audio failed half the time leaving those of us in the cheap seats wondering what was being said but I guess it just compliments the TV cameras that also don't work. Maybe the Mayor can add these repairs to the ‘HUGE CHALLENGING BUDGET’ coming up. Why not – we’re going to pay for it anyway.

[Filed by our new “Rogue” Staff Reporter (no relationship to the Unknown Comic)].

LFP proudly presents and introduces our newest addition to the LFP stable. RRR..'s job is to expose and clean out the manure from all the dung hills in the Langleys. - LFP Editor

Richter Report - February 24, 2006

Communication Costs

So let’s talk about communication: the costs of and the threats to communication with the taxpayer. It was a primary issue yesterday at the “Council & Senior Staff Workshop” session facilitated by an external consultant (cost unknown at this point). Theoretically, the purpose of this session was the budget.

Now, if the purpose of this workshop was to determine what Council’s spending priorities will be over the next 3 years, do you think the public should be privy to what Council thinks it should spend your money on?

I do. But, unfortunately, there was no member of the local media or public present.

Also, I’m shocked (judging by the comments of my “fellow” councillors) that they still don’t understand the importance of public scrutiny in this regard. Specifically, one of the councillors had the gall to suggest that we keep “the contents of this meeting in this room” (i.e. in camera). I’ve had enough of this Old Boys Club Secrecy. I’ve told them before and I’ll tell them again: it’s against my nature and principles to ‘keep everything in the school yard locker room’ (so to speak), mainly because I’m not sure why we need a locker room (unless it’s for “Personnel, Property, or Liability” reasons – none of which were discussed yesterday).

However, bearing in mind their sensitivities, I will forgo the copious notes I made during this session for the moment. Instead, I will speak in generalities.

So, on the topic of communications: how much do you think the Township should communicate with you? Do you think that the Township is doing a good job on this? Do you think that the Township should advertise as much as they do in the local papers and just how much is the Township Page in the local papers worth to you?

To help you answer these questions, here’s some interesting facts and figures.

In 1996, the Township spent $151,622 on advertising. This was split as follows:

Langley Times...........$ 84,655
Aldergrove Star...........14,186
Langley Advance.........52,780

In 2005, the Township spent $344,059 on advertising. This was split as follows:

Black Press (Langley Times & Aldergrove Star).......... $237,678
Langley Advance.........................................................106, 381

The amount spent on advertising per year was:

  1. $151,622...1996

  2. 173,253...1997

  3. 177,150...1998

  4. 173,078...1999

  5. 193,099...2000 (Alberts' first year as Mayor)

  6. 254,511...2001

  7. 241,218...2002

  8. 248,121...2003

  9. 308,075...2004

  10. 344,059...2005
TOTAL $2,264,186

In the 10 year period between 1996 and 2005, the Township spent $2.264 million on advertising in the local newspapers. In this same period, the Township spent $812,816 on advertising in the Langley Advance and $1,451,370 on advertising in the Langley Times/Aldergrove Star.

Between 1996 and 2005, newspaper advertising expenditures have more than doubled. This equals an average 12.7% increase in advertising costs per year.

Has Langley grown that fast?

Kim Richter is in her 3rd term as Langley Township Councillor and also is a Professor of Business at Kwantlen University College. She holds a masters degree in health administration and was a health care management consultant.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

CDN Taxpayers Federation Dishes BC Budget

CTF Disappointed with BC Budget 2006
“Program spending is up, capital spending is up, the bureaucracy is growing and the debt is burgeoning out of control. Taxpayers have been left behind—the government’s agenda is focused on spending,” said Sara MacIntyre, BC director for the CTF. Sounds like they are talking about Langley Township!
Yet Canadian Taspayers Federation loves the BC throne speech!
Bravo says CTF, Mr Campbell! Bravo!
"Rarely does a throne speech warrant applause, but this years opening legislative address was a welcome dose of reality." See CTF link.

Emerson Running For Election In Dominican Republic?

What's this, Emerson is running in the Dominican Republic? How bad can things be? Hedging his bets?
Sign on building says, "Vote 4 Emerson Your Candidate". Got to watch the results to see if he wins! But will he cross the floor again?
Elections are being held in March 2006 and the current political campaign is visible everywhere. The Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) Headquarters in a village. The PLD is the current ruling party

Globe Hockey Headline Pictures Say It All

Star Wars Returns Says Hawkeye O'Connor

No surprise, what more can be said, see this link.

Casino Wars and Gambling Advertising

What is going on at Great Canadian Casinos? They own and operate the Riverrock Casino as well as at least four others in BC as well as the Hastings Race Track. The Reuters report fourth quarter earnings are down and their stock dropped 20%. Now the COO has resigned with no publicly stated reason. How can one imagine casinos dropping earnings?

Is it possible that Casino wars have started because there are just too many now in BC? Apparently the Langley Casino is affecting the Cloverdale casino and siphoning off some customers. If you think you are seeing a lot of ads on TV, radio and your local papers now, get ready we predict the ads will increase even more so. The Casino Corporations are trying to entice anyone and everyone into their casinos using all possible means.

Peter Warren on radio CKNW this past week had a guest on talking about a story that Casinos that are now trying to get seniors into their poker tournaments. Locally in Langley we have noticed large expensive colorful newspaper ads displaying smiling senior aged males standing beside nubile Casino Showgirls. (I haven’t seen Casino Showgirls in Our casino have you?) Seniors are a major market for the gaming industry and their advertising focus clearly shows it. We at LFP hope the senior’s keep smiling after they drop their pension money at the casinos.

The sad thing is that the Governments, Provincially and Municipally, obviously won’t be very eager to study, discuss or ever think of chastising or limiting the Casinos on what many may consider their excessive advertising and marketing tactics because they equally want to skim their lucrative piece of the cash pie. Year round large scale Casino advertising in the newspapers especially in the local community newspapers probably now rivals and exceeds the local municipal government advertising. With annual guaranteed big advertising revenues it makes it more difficult for these paper’s publishers and editors to do anything to risk turning off the advertising revenues tap similar to suggestions that angering governing local municipal governments can also result in reductions of advertisements. For instance the Langley Times is reported to have advertising Revenues of more than $150,000 annually from Langley Township alone. We wonder how much the Casino ads provide annually? If they lost the Casino or municipal advertising how much of an effect would it have on them?

Gambling used to be considered a harmful vice just as alcohol and cigarettes still are. See the Las Vegas Review-Journal article linked. There are legal limits and restraints on advertising of cigarettes and alcohol. Why are there no limits on gambling advertisements? Gambling is still a vice last time I looked and can be just as harmful if not more so than the other vices. It can be argued that seniors today and children tomorrow can be harmed by the gambling advertising of glamour, sex appeal and dreams of riches and winnings. The only disclaimer they have anywhere on their ads including on their website is a small innocuous reference to “Know your limit, play within it.” Have you seen the mandatory graphics disclaimer of rotting teeth on cigarette packs? If governments won’t curtail gambling ads maybe their ads should be forced to show something similar like the collection agencies putting a pad lock on your homes door with an evicted sign! By the way I personally love to play blackjack. What do you think?

Harper's Parliamentary Agenda -A Must Read

Excellent Synopsis of Harper’s Parliamentary Agenda by Romeo St. Martin in Politics Watch. A must read for Federal political junkies

Yawn....Liberals Announce Opposition Critics

If anybody really cares the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Bill Graham announced his Liberal opposition critics on the Liberal website. Here is a list on PDF format.

Kudos To Kevin Falcon - Walk a Mile in My Shoes

We referenced the downtown Vancouver Courier paper dishing the Port Mann Bridge twinning and are thrilled to see that MLA Kevin Falcon countered with this report in their paper. Brilliant having him sitting in Port Mann traffic saying walk a mile in my shoes. Lets draft Falcon for Conservative MP of Langley! Why not Mary Polak came from Surrey too!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

We Told You So - Now Send Langley City a Police Services Bill

Today's Langley Times talks about the City withdrawing from Township joint facilities funding. First of all let's dismiss the absurd comments quoted calling for amalgamation of both Langley City and Township by Councillor Steve Ferguson in the Times and by others on their blogs. Any and all thoughts on amalgamation at this time arise purely from shock and desperation and some perverse desire to get even. Get real Steve? No way in your lifetime will it will ever happen. The City has always been guarded and leery of the Township. The animosity started prior to the original separation with the Township and still runs true and deep. The City is now essentially Casino rich, the "Duchy of Fenwick" aka City of Langley, no longer needs the Township. Get that through your head, amalgamation is a non starter. It will never happen. Now get over it and get on with it and manage our money better guys! Now please try to earn your #&%)@*! automatic pay increases!

This whole situation is a clear slap in the face for Township Mayor Kurt Alberts by the City. Why did this catch him off guard? Was he asleep at the wheel? Where was his communication with the City? His many speeches in the past spoke of "courting" the City before ever thinking of any marriage. Well guess what, the City wants a divorce and we never even married. They want a financial divorce settlement now and there was no consummation! Unless you call what the City did now to the Township Mayor and Council consummation. Who can blame the City to refuse to continue co-investing with the Township especially under this Township Mayor's watch when his administration has almost doubled spending on the joint City/Township Grandstand $ 3-4-5 million project to over $5 million from the original budgeted $3 million amongst other fiascos. Not to mention multiple other capital project over runs.

Yet the Township Councillors have been stupidly approving the increased costs of projects like the Gold Plated Grandstand without consulting the City and further hoping the City would go along with paying their portion. The most recent example was when the rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman got sucked in to moving the increased funding up of another $1 million more on the $ 3-4-5 million Grandstand with the caveat that the City pay their fair share. Unbelievable, when will this Council finally say no to overruns and spending. To be fair they equally have no problems raising your taxes either!

We won't even talk about the $7 million Redwoods purchase. Everybody keep in mind that according to the terms on the purchase agreement of the Redwoods golf course, we believe that the Township Taxpayers will be paying for the new GVRD parking lot tax for Redwoods Golf Course as well each and every year. Betcha its similar to the Twilight Drive In who will be paying $20k a year. Lets see $20 k times 10 years would be $200k taxpayer funded for Redwoods Golf Course. Critics said there would be extra unknown new taxes to be paid. They were right. How many and how much more new unforseen taxes will we be paying for Redwoods Golf Course? But we digress.

Read Councillor Kim Richter's articles in this Website's archives to better understand the financial mismanagement issues and history. She has far too many links to attach herein individually on this subject! Richter has been the only one voting NO to this spending and NO to approvals on these out of control projects! She has been ringing alarm bells for years and yet the rest of Council still treats her thoughts and suggestions with disdain to say the least because she is the only one that has the guts to agree to disagree. When are some of the smarter Councillors going to join forces with her in criticizing the tax, borrow and spend practises of this Mayor's Council. If you were Langley City looking in would you want to keep investing with the Township, never mind any thoughts of marriage with the Township drunken, spending sailor?

We predicted previously that the City would tell the Township to go fish. Well they now essentially have. We really can't blame them though. They are smarter businessmen than the Township gaggle of goofs on Council. Would you consider investing with a fiscally irresponsible partner? Worse still is the fact that the City is now pulling out of their funding portion of the Murrayville Blair Recreation center. This is putting a big hole into annual operating costs of that pool aggravating the severe financial situation that this Mayor's Council has put the taxpayers into. Yet the ninnies on Council apparently are considering investing another $9 million expansion into the Blair Recreation Centre which is ludicrous especially since the close by City residents uses that pool a lot yet their Municipality will no longer pay their share of operating costs!

Townshippers, get ready for double digit tax increases for years to come. The rewriting history attempts are now starting to run dry for the boys on Council. The gaggling goofs have nice new offices, blackberrys and automatic salary raises. Life is good if you are a Councillor in Langley Township! They seem to us to care more about their automatic salary increases every three years than they care about how badly they run our finances. Heck, get used to automatic double digit tax increases too every year to help fund the disastrous financial management and the automatic salary increases of Mayor and Council. Even the Mayor at Monday's Council meeting finally admitted that the township is facing problematic financial considerations. Was that said before the City said go fish? We must be really in financial trouble if the Mayor finally admits it folks. Who's fault is it Mayor Alberts? Let us help you with this one. How long have you been in charge as Mayor? Folks, how many of the boys now on Council do you remember saying, while electioneering just last fall, what great financial shape the Township was in. They either lied or worse still did not know or understand the real facts.

Folks, this is the start of a financial turning of the guard in Township hall. What we really need though is a turning of the guard on Council especially the not so silent slate Mayor. Everyone should start the Richter for Mayor Campaign now. She's been the only one on this Council who really cared about our dollars. Good financial stewardship is needed more than monuments to egos such as the way over budget $3-4-5 million Grandstand! Even the Langley Times that has seemed to us to support the Mayor's not so silent slate history rewrite attempts and also seems to us to perpertually dish or ignore Richter at every opportunity, finally in today's article for the first time ever admits that the Grandstand will cost $5.2 million and more importantly finally admits; "It was originally anticipated it would cost $3 million." Pigs do fly!

So what to do now? We suggest sever all financial sharing agreements ASAP that are not in the Township's financial and best interests. It should just be business now. The agreements, if any, that are still in force that are financially beneficial for the Township should be kept. The clear one that easily comes to mind is to turf quickly the sharing of the RCMP with the City. All reports say that the City has been subsidized by the Township to the tune of Millions of dollars for police services and the City is still waffling on agreeing to this issue. The boys on Township have been lolly gagging around on this one for years now. Step up to the plate boys and announce your intention to terminate the sharing of cops and send them a bill payable immediately for the past inequities in the policing costs now and make sure you bill them for any future costs. If the RCMP costs are too high, consider sharing the Abbotsford Police force.

You all look like fools for not seeing this coming. Now finally at least play smart and hard ball financially!If this gaggle on Council dosn't then the Mayor and some of his gaggle should seriously consider calling it quits for the sake of Langley Taxpayers. But we still say that the old boys club on Council absolutely don't deserve automatic pay increases every three years! Especially not now after this additional new fiasco!

Editor- We dedicate this Quote to Langley Township Council:
"Nothing is more odious than the majority, for it consists of a few powerful leaders, a certain number of accommodating scoundrels and submissive weaklings, and a mass of men who trot after them without thinking, or knowing their own minds." -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

SES Poll on National Political Party Support

The recent national survey of Canadians conducted by SES Research found that the federal Liberals and Conservatives were statistically tied (Liberals 34%, Conservative 33%) on the national ballot. NDP support is at 18% followed by the Bloc Quebecois at 9% and the Green Party at 7%.

“Polling indicates that the Conservative government’s honeymoon was short-lived. The Conservative six-point lead on Election Day is now a tighter race. We can expect a period of voter volatility as Canadians assess the new Harper-led federal government.

Decided Canadian Voters (N=971, MoE ± 3.2%, 19 times out of 20)

Liberals 34% (+4)
Conservatives 33% (-3)
NDP 18% (+1)
Bloc Quebecois 9% (-2)
Green 7% (+1)
Undecided 3% (-10)

The detailed tables with the methodology and regional subtabs are posted on our website .

Cheers, Nik - Nikita James Nanos, CMRP President & CEO SES Research

They also have a poll that shows that shows some of the Federal Liberal Leadership Candidates Preferences as polled.

LFP Editor - By the way SES is the polling company that was deadly accurate in the last election that we updated daily at that time. We will often post more pertinent polls from them on this website. Below is their prediction from their polling compared to the actual last federal election results. Amazing!

Scott Brison, His Liberal Leadership Supporters?

Mark Marissen, BC Federal Liberal Head Honcho, and his former MLA wife Christy Clark are hosting a reception in their home on Wednesday night for visiting potential Liberal leadership candidate and MP Scott Brison. Should we be reading more into this than it seems? Hmm, see Public Eye Online for details.

Downtown Vancouver Courier Newspaper Dishes Port Mann Twinning

LFP believes that twinning of the Port Mann is necessary and should proceed asap. In fairness we linking to the Vancouver Courier who obviously presents their constituency with their reporting to the contrary. What do you think?

Harper's Third Director of Communications Bites the Dust

The Globe and Mail reports that William Stairs, his Director of Communications is leaving. Apparently at issue was the fact the Stairs may have been recommending that Emerson and Harper come out early and strong on the defection. Which Harper obviously chose to ignore. Harper has basically been cocooning on the whole matter. Harper obviously has a problem with taking advice and increasingly comes across as a controlling and arrogant leader.

Monday, February 20, 2006

US Style of Interviews of New Supreme Court Justices by MPs

A 12 member multi party group of MPs will basically spend two three hour sessions to interview the new supreme court nominees for Judge and Harper says that he will take their opinions into account in the final selection as reported by the CBC. There are critics though that think that Harper's initiative of more political involvement in the selection of Supreme Court Justices is wrong and dangerous.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Harper Needs US Senate Ethics Committee And Mansion Model

Harper’s Emerson seducement, the Senate Fortier Fiasco and appointment of a former defense contractor lobbyist to Canada’s Defense Minister amazingly coupled with his upcoming ethics legislation has started significant unsubstantiated rumours that Harper’s Conservatives should be planning a formal Ethics Committee and Mansion modeled after the theonion.com reported US senate models. If you agree that it could help Harper’s Conservatives email him a copy of this posting to pm@pm.gc.ca .

H5N1 Bird Flu - Global Growth Alarming

(Picture of H5N1 Avian Bird Flu Virus)

CBC news reports the first case of the virus in Europe's largest poultry producer in France. Furthermore the H5N1 strain, which is transmissible to humans, has now spread from Asia to Europe and Africa. The H5N1 bird flu could mutate into causing a human pandemic. If you don’t understand what a pandemic is see the Stanford 1918 Pandemic synopsis. Also we suggest that you become more informed as well on the topic by seeing excellent in depth BBC analysis of what it is and why it is a threat to our world population.

The single major concern is that so far it has been transmitted to humans by physical contact only. If the flu mutates as all flu’s do, and more specifically becomes airborne like the common flu, the results could be more than alarming. So when you see heavy handed and quick government intervention as you saw a year or so ago in the bird culling of the Fraser Valley, understand that everything must be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. A potential pandemic on the scale of the 1918 pandemic calls for any and all measures required no matter how Orwellian.

As this H5N1 bird flu steadily and increasingly circumvents the globe we must all be aware of what it’s impact could be and support our local and world governments to intervene if and as necessary in non complying Countries if necessary especially in Africa.

The stakes are far too high to respect international borders.
(Editor- Excellent Blog Site on H5N1)

Conservatives Will Never Abolish Gun Control

The Bloc Québécois On Friday announced on their Website that they will “oppose with vigor” any attempts by the Conservatives to abolish or reduce Canada’s gun control legislation. Their strongly worded press release states that they “put the Conservatives on notice of their commitment” to this. They also say that while they agree that the Gun Control legislation “is not perfect it does help protect Quebecers”. Well, there you have it. You can bet that the Liberals and the NDP won’t support the minority Conservatives either on this issue.

This begs the question, what can the Conservatives really pass in the commons. Tax rebates like the GST for sure all parties will agree to. But unless they want to take a risk to initiate another snap federal election they are going to have an awfully impossible time trying to forward a lot of their more dramatic right wing promises. The Conservatives are essentially a right wing minority paper tiger facing three center to left wing opposition parties who control the balance of power in the House of Commons. Also due to the Conservatives election gains they can be sure that the NDP and the Bloc will gang up with the Liberals and now be focused on firmly resetting their coordinates of their artillery directly at the Conservatives from the Liberals. That is why the the single strongest and only focus driving Stephen Harper is and will be to do anything and everything to get a majority government. Until that time you will not see the real Stephen Harper stand up. In the mean time Harper’s honeymoon isn’t just over with the public and the press. His honeymoon with the Bloc and NDP is over as well. All three ooposition parties understand his predicament and together can fully expoloit it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

PM Harper's Strange Appointment Decisions

And we thought that it was strange to choose Langley MP Mark Warawa as Environment Secretary to Edmonton’s MP Rona Ambrose who is the new Environment Minister. Warawa’s environment scope of knowledge and experience is very limited to say the least. And we are being extremely kind. His single focus has been harping almost exclusively on the issue of crime and punishment with a big emphasis on going to jail! I guess we weren’t the only ones concerned about Harper’s choices for these positions as reported by Canadian Press.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Local News Review February 10-15 2006

Langley Times – Wednesday February 15, 2006
The Langley homeless and hungry got kicked out last week from the vicinity of a downtown City Church. This week about a dozen homeless squatters in tents were forcibly booted from a property near 70 Ave and 196A. The article speculates that Langley’s transient homeless settled here from Surrey when Surrey’s Mayor forcibly cleaned up Surrey’s homeless problem. So we guess that we are now shoveling our problem onto another Municipality. Great productive use of our Langley RCMP who also now have to monitior where these people relocate to. Boy, are we ever great at solving social problems in the Langleys! Let's just have more political bun toss meetings to talk about it!

Time for Township Council to raise their salaries once again! Hey what about pension plans? When is that coming? We can hardly wait with baited breath for that one. How about family medical and dental benefits? Oops, I forgot, they already voted themselves that one a year or so ago.

Another happy community group that loves what the Mayor and Council are doing for planning in their community. This time in Milner. They are especially thrilled with the proposed design guidelines. Most specifically they loved all the input that they were allowed to give in the development of the plan! Yeah right!

The letters to the Editor and Editor's comment section are classical gems and are not to be missed this week. Print them out and frame them for posterity.

Mr. Eric Bysouth, the preeminent and single strongest and most vocal back room organizor, supporter and key promoter of Conservative MP Mark Warawa and Mayor Kurt Alberts wades into the Emerson defection debate. I can't believe it. He essentially in our opinion says that the end justifies the means and he supports the seduction and inducement of the Emerson defection to the Conservatives. He is endorsing the same democratic deficit tactics that he was so vocal against - it's OK for the beloved Conservatives to use these tactics but not the hated Liberals! I guess Reform is now truly dead in the Conservative Party. How Sad. There wasn't even a proper burial.

Cathleen Vecchiato, one of our contributing columnists, writes about her disappointment about the pending tree bylaw (which face it is not really a bylaw) and lack of enforcement in the Township.

The capper article though is that the Editor says the Council deserves their pay increase "because they earn it". OK, do they earn it by building a $3 million grandstand for over $5 million (only one amongst many project cost overruns)? Do they earn it because they have and plan to dramatically increase our taxes in the double digits? Do they earn it because they are planning to take our essentially debt-free Township into debt somewhere up to $30 odd million? Yup, the editor is right - they earned it alright. Brilliant.

Any other rational analyst, employer or businessman would when considering pay increases first say: 'lets look at your performance to objectives'. Under this model, you would compare your previous planned objectives with actual performance. One problem with this Council is we don't really know what their objectives clearly were or even are. I would challenge the Editor to tell me what the Council's strategic top 1, 2 or 3 plans or visions are. Let me help, there are none!

If building projects were Council's only plan, they seem to be spending way more than they planned. Performance of constantly raising taxes, spending like drunken sailors and contemplating a big new debt would not be rewarded in the private sector. Yet the Editor states that the Councillors go to four or more detailed and long formal meetings a month, go to community events, and get calls and emails at home and at work. Gee, how many of you readers do that and more as well? What would your boss say if you told him you deserved a raise because you went to 4 long meetings per month, attended community events, and got calls and emails at home? Tell him this and we will bet you your career won't last much longer. Needless to say this little blog Editor at LFP chooses to not agree with the big newspaper chain Editor.

Three reports on the Chilliwack Chiefs hockey team looking for a community willing to spend big bucks on a new arena with 1500 seats and then they will move their hockey team to that community. Abbotsford said no to spending the money. Too bad, now Langley is in the running. Oh no here we go again. If an open air grandstand initially budgetted at $3 million finally cost us $5 million, imagine how much this Council could spend on an indoor 1500 seat hockey arena? It boggles the mind. Chills go up and down my back especially since we know that our Mayor is a big hockey fan. Shudder.... Hey we took an existing $5 million office building and converted it to a $20 million city hall. Maybe he can convert the $5 million Grandstand to a $20 million hockey arena!

Langley Advance - Tuesday February 14, 2006
The Editor warns that the peasants in Langley and the lower mainland are getting weary about Translink's unelected royalty telling us to eat cake while they starve us with strangling taxes in every conceivable size and type. While he does not advocate an uprising (which we think he should), he warns that one could be coming. He says that the Langley and South Fraser serfs are the most oppressed. Hands down the Advance easily beats the Times this week in 'Editor Star Wars'! (But how could you not beat an editorial that says the Township Council "earns their money"?)

And finally a letter to the Editor dedicated to our lost Reform hero, Eric, titled "how quickly the Conservatives went from crying for accountability to ignoring their promises". Then, there is Ed Monteith who calls the Council's Fort Langley museum idea a "money hole". Mr. Mayor, for your info, I don't think Ed and a lot of others like the museum idea too much.

Langley Times – Sunday February 12, 2006
The Langley homeless and the hungry naturally gravitate to places that traditionally help them but this report speaks to them being told to find another place to sleep rather than around a church. Sad. It seems that this problem is escalating exponentially. No more talk. We need action from our elected officials to care for and rehabilitate these people.

Once again a report on Warawa’s appointment to Environmental Secretary. On top of his $144,300 salary as MP, he will receive another $14,600 for his new responsibilities (Environmental Secretary). The $14,600 definitely caught my eye. But he’s worth every penny of it, isn't he?. My oh my, Harper sure picks good and qualified talent: Warawa for Environment Secretary as he has tons of environmental experience? A new Defense Minister who was a defense company lobbyist (fox in the chicken coop syndrome)? A defecting Liberal who joins Conservatives as a key Minister? And a non-elected back room political hack from Quebec, Fortier, to run one of the largest budget ministries in government from his appointed Senate seat. Don’t you just love democracy according to Garp/Harper?

The Editor writes of the Jaw- Dropping (gee, didn’t we see that word somewhere else) defection of Emerson. His synopsis as we decipher it is: 'heck, other parties have done it so the party I love, the Conservatives, can do it too!'. With the Conservatives in power, of course we don't have to worry about a democratic deficit - the term just doesn't exist in their dictionary.

The same Editor also writes about the City & Township getting it together to help addiction problems and the need for more than shelter. The problem is the Municipal politicians tend to talk more than act, especially around a free coffee urn and sandwiches. The answer is to have only one 2 hour meeting by the politicians, figure out which organizations and which non-elected key citizens to appoint to a committee and let them get at it. Then just get out of the way and give them money and support. The kiss of death will be meeting after meeting with partisan politicos running and attending these meetings. Let the politicians do what they do best, rewrite history publicly when they screw up.

Langley Advance - Friday February 10, 2006
Mark Warawa’s appointment as Secretary to Environment Minister Rona Ambrose is covered by the Advance and Warawa says he now has to get “up to speed on environmental issues”. Really Mark? Good luck…good luck to all of us! Reporter Claxton goes on about the lengthy experience and things that Warawa has advocated for the environment. I must have missed all this. In the last two years, all I heard from him is crime and jail and jail and crime (and the odd comment on the need for anti-theft devices in cars). Maybe he can incorporate his first true love of crime busting and incarceration with the environment somehow - perhaps anti-theft devices for trees?

A new Social Planning Committee has been set up in Langley City by Council. Great news - about time. We await much needed initiatives and hopefully soon.

Gateway Executive Director Mike Proudfoot talked with Council about the major initiatives including the Port Mann twinning. While the bridge will accomodate light rail and bus corridor transit, he said that is Translink's responsibility. We are lucky because our Mayor, Kurt Alberts sits on Translink now and we are sure that he will get them to listen to him about getting plans on the table for public transit across the bridge to Langley. Sigh….

The GVRD's Livable Region Strategic Plan will be reviewed says Gail Martin who says that GVRD Chair Lois Jackson says they need to review the plan. Every plan we have seen from GVRD and Translink always seems to cost us more tax money in Langley and merely throws us an odd bone if any thing at all. Sorry but I am skeptical.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Councillor Slams Secret Pay Hike" in Today's Vancouver Province Re: Appropriate Use of In-Camera At Township Council

Vancouver Province newspaper staff reporter Kent Spencer reports on page A16 in today’s Province newspaper on the in-camera concerns that Councillor Kim Richter first reported right here in LFP as our regular contributing columnist. Specifically her columns on the issue can be seen here and here. The Province article has quotes and perspectives from Richter, Mayor Alberts, Councillor Ferguson and Council Critic Glen Tomblin.

Statement from the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin

Below is the text in its entirety from Paul Martin re the Emerson fiasco. The key point that Martin makes below is that PM Stephen Harper has remained silent and very aloof on the whole topic to date. Considering that Harper engineered the defection, this is despicable. Integrity should demand his coming forward immediately and under detailed public scrutiny and questioning provide his justification. This has not happened to date. At minimum former PM Paul Martin took all the heat dead on not matter by whom or when and was available for intense questioning and grilling by the public and the media. This leads us to believe that PM Harper simply hopes that the issue will fade away. It will not.

Official email forwarded from Liberal Party HQ;

Statement from the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin

From Europe, former Prime Minister Paul Martin today issued the following statement in response to enquiries related to comments by David Emerson in media reports on February 14th:

"On February 6, after David Emerson became the Minister of International Trade in Stephen Harper's government, he announced that he would be making contact with me to explain the principle that led him to his decision to cross the floor. To date I have not received his explanation, nor have I heard from Mr. Emerson at all.

When I learned that he had been recruited to sit as a Conservative cabinet minister only days after his election as a Liberal, I was astonished. As we have seen, members do switch political parties when they feel their values are no longer welcome in the party they ran in. My government was the beneficiary of that phenomenon on a couple of high-profile occasions. But this situation is without precedent. First, Mr. Harper engineered this switch after having criticized floor crossing heavily in the past.

Second, Mr. Emerson had campaigned only days earlier against the Conservatives – using language that can only be described as categorical in its condemnation of Mr. Harper and his positions. Now as a member of Mr. Harper's government, he will not only be required to defend the policies of his department – but all the policies of a government which he has attacked in an unequivocal way as being contrary to his own principles.

I am also troubled by the unwillingness of Mr. Harper and Mr. Emerson to confront the legitimate questions that Canadians have about this matter.

In both the case of Mr. Brison and Ms. Stronach for example, both they and I felt it was important to immediately face Canadians and the national media to defend the decisions taken and to take accountability for our actions.

As the person who recruited Mr. Emerson to public life, and given the lack of any articulated principle behind his decision, I certainly share the disappointment of so many Canadians in both Mr. Harper and Mr. Emerson. To date, neither has been willing to subject themselves to an appropriate level of scrutiny on this matter – a decision that I believe robs Canadians and the people of Vancouver Kingsway of a deserved explanation. In particular, it is to those voters that a greater measure of respect is owed."
For more information: Melanie Gruer, (613) 290-7679 or Susan Smith, (613) 371-0624

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Paul Martin Finally Speaks Saying Emerson Move Astonising

Canadian Press quotes former Prime Minister Paul Martin said he has not heard from Emerson yet, even though Emerson said he would contact him. He further says he is troubled by Emerson’s defection.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Richter Report - February 13, 2006

Council Pay Increase Discussions Going Public!

Good News! Council will discuss its intended pay raises next week in public rather than as planned for this week’s in-camera (private closed door) session. Thank goodness for Blogs!

I am very pleased to be able to report back to you that Council has now decided to discuss its proposed pay increase (less than 2 months after the last pay increase) at next week’s public meeting. I hope that next week’s public discussion about Council pay raises will occur during next week’s evening televised Regular meeting rather than at the non-televised afternoon Special meeting.

For the record, I will not be supporting the proposed combined 20+% increase in Councillor’s salaries (13.8% as of Dec 1, 2005 plus 9.0 % as of February 13, 2006). Given that property taxes are anticipated to increase by 20.35% and the Township’s current debt is anticipated to increase by $35.6 Million, I do not think that it is appropriate for Council to reward itself with a pay raise. The private sector does not reward increased spending and debt with increased salaries, nor should the “Corporation” of the Township of Langley.

My thanks to all the Councillors who moved that we take this item off today’s in-camera agenda! (Although I have to admit the heat was not appreciated which raises another question: Should attempted discipline of Councillors occur in-camera or is this too stretching the definition of “Personnel”?). Trust and Confidence are built on a foundation of good judgment in an honest spirit of openness and transparency. Trust and Confidence are not built on behind-the-scenes discussions or maneuvers complete with legal counsel.

In-camera items should be clearly and narrowly defined. In-camera should not be used to excuse Council from discussing “uncomfortable” topics. Legal, Personnel and Property items are the only valid in-camera discussion topics. I think using the label “Personnel” to cover an in-camera discussion of Council pay raises was a stretch and an abuse of in-camera.

I will remain vigilant about the future use and possible abuse of these in-camera labels.

Kim Richter is in her 3rd term as Langley Township Councillor and also is a Professor of Business at Kwantlen University College. She holds a masters degree in health administration and was a health care management consultant.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Gretzkys, High Rollers?

Las Vegas Review-Journal reports an insider says Gretzkys have lost more than $2 million in Las Vegas casinos!

Rich Coleman Social Housing Firestorm Coming?

Public Eye Online ringing warning bells that BC Liberals may abandon building social housing and replace it with rent subsidies.

Rafe Mair Roasts Steven Harper

In the Feb 13th edition of The Tyee Rafe Mair says Harper did the “Fastest Flip-Flop on Record” and asks who is “responsible for the most breathtaking broken promises?” Now Rafe don’t hold back, tell us what you really think!

The Hill Times Says Conservatives Still Shaken

The Hill Times says that morale is still low among Conservative caucus and has some great quotes from last week due to the Emerson/Fortier fiasco.

A second article in the Hill Times hits the target dead on stating that “Parties don't mean what they used to mean," "They're convenient for people who want to ride to political power."

The 3rd article talks to how Harper is not going to have an easy time reversing the child care bill.
Is it possible that we could smell Clark style vote of confidence?

Emerson on CKNW Says "he will not be driven out of office"

CKNW reports that Liberal defector and embattled Harper Cabinet Minister, David Emerson, says the “media firestorm” won’t drive him out of office. In the same show former Prime Minister Kim Campbell phoned in to also support Emerson.

Garth Turner No Stranger To controversy Himself

Garth Turner the controversial newly elected Conservative MP, was interviewed by CBC's Wendy Mesley in 2002 re the line between advertising and information. Interesting links and info from source TDH Strategies's February 10,2006 posting;

"Now while Turner isn't without his own controversies on how candid he is in representing himself and his business interests (this article is also interesting), that isn't the point here. Harper has made a complete fool of a Tory MP who got elected by convincing constituents that his government would be different."

P.S. - Garth is no neophyte to politics. Garth Turner sat in Brian Mulroney's 1988 government and briefly served as a cabinet minister under Prime Minister Kim Campbell.

Worker’s Compensation Claimant Battle Ends In Suicide

Vancouver Sun front page article describes an injured trucker’s 8 year war with Worksafe BC which was formerly known as the Worker’s Compensation Board or WCB. His family and Lawyer believe that he finally took his own life out of desperation due to the stress and uncertainty of his compensation claim. An investigation sounds much warranted in this very sad case. Since 1996 WCB has paid out for 18 suicide claims! If accurate, it should never have happened. And it should never happen again.

Jack Layton Disagrees With NDP Booting Buzz Hargrove

A move is afoot to try to reverse the decision to oust Mr. Hargrove for promoting "strategic voting" in the election by supporting the Liberals. The Ontario arm of the NDP voted to revoke Hargrove's membership. Hargrove is the President of the Canadian Autoworkers Union. Many Federal NDP MPs including National Leader Jack Layton don't agree with the expulsion. See the National Post article here.

The NDP is somewhat unique because it requires all party members to be both NDP Provincially and Federally . Provincial NDP members are automatically Federal NDP members and vice versa. The Conservatives and the Liberals permit different party memberships between the provinces and the Federal Party. Hence for example in Quebec and BC many provincial Liberals are Federal Conservatives and vice versa.

If the Federal NDP or for that matter a Provincial NDP party ever wanted to move more to the center like the British Labour Party under John Major did, they will have to certainly divide the membership just as the other two Canadian Political parties do. The Ontario NDP decision clearly demonstrates one reason why they should split party membership. Maybe now finally they have an excuse. This is another reason why we at LFP sometimes equate the NDP troops with the collective "Borg" of Star Trek fame! They are assimilated at all levels of government! If you don't know what a Borg is ask your kids or any geek you meet.