Friday, March 31, 2006

Richmond B.C. – In Perpetual Turmoil

How can things get much worse in Richmond? Nuff said see CBC latest story and our previous links. We will bet money on anybody other than the incumbents planning to run against Mayor & Council of Richmond next time will win!

Harper Gets Nothing For Canada At Three Amigos Summit

Get your passport ready if you want to cross over to the US and on softwood lumber no movement by Bush. Harper says he will now go back to Canada and try to find middle ground. These were the results of the North American summit of Canada, US & Mexico over the last two days. See Toronto Star.

Closing Time For South Carvolth Environmental Elementary

A sad day for students and families of South Carvolth Elementary School as the School Trustees voted Tuesday to close South Carvolth Environmental Elementary as reported by the Langley Times. The Times Editor says “It was not a decision that pleased parents and students at the school — but it was the right decision.” He further goes on to say “it was all but inevitable” in his editorial.
While LFP expected that the Trustees would close the school we do not agree with this decision. When a significant portion of any community gets together and makes such a tremendous effort for a cause that this community has made our elected politicians should try at minimum to provide a stay of execution to see if it can be salvaged. We disagree with the Times Editorial.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

You Heard It Here First! - "Boots On The Ground" Canadian Ad in Washington

Kim Richter our contributing columnist was the first that found the Cdn. Government's Washington DC ad about our military from a Washington DC blog, DCist blog. The press is now taking off on it after we forwarded it to them. Today in the Vancouver Sun, the Calgary Sun , Toronto Star , London Free Press , vive le canada , and watch the news report on the Global TV link and select Troy Reeb reports for the actual video news report from Global. The press has not yet reported that the "Boots on the Ground " campaign extends into a boots on the ground Canadian Embassy Art Exhibit as well. The second real story here is that Blogs are now becoming news feeds for the larger media. Then of course the local media simply and unfortunately ignores local blogs!
Blogs Have, Will & Do Make A Difference! - LFP

Richter Report - March 30, 2006 - No Response From MP Warawa Re: “Boots On The Ground”

The Vancouver Sun today on page a16 followed up on the “Boots on the Ground” story I posted here last week. The Sun talks about Canada’s attempt to prove we are once again worthy military allies to the U.S.A. - so much for our "kinder, gentler society" north of the 49th Parallel! Also of interest is the expansion of the poster campaign to an art exhibit in the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC.

The Sun implies that this PR campaign is needed to bolster trade relationships with the US. The article actually quotes a military attache at the Canadian Embassy as saying: "There's often criticism down here that Canada is not pulling its weight on security. We beg to differ" and "The events that happened at Khandahar are brutal evidence of our commitment to the war on terror. We are spilling Canadian blood."

I find this absolutely chilling and I ask again: "Where are we going with this? And, why?".
In my last Richter Report, I said that I would ask Langley's MP about this issue and report back to you with his feedback. The following is my e-mail to Langley MP Mark Warawa sent 7 days ago on March 23, 2006. To date, I have received absolutely no response what-so-ever from him or his office. Is he not responding because of Harper's centralist communications clamp down? Or are the concerns of a local constituent of no importance and so not worthy of a reply?

Dear MP Warawa:

I am writing to you as a concerned resident of the federal riding you represent. I recently discovered that the federal government is advertising its military presence in the US. Please follow the attached link

I am very uncomfortable with the military direction that Canada now seems to be taking. This advertisement is adding to my concerns.

Why are we spending money on this? Do you support the change of Canada's peace-keeping role to what now seems to be an increasingly aggressive military stance? Were you aware of the spending taking place on this ad and related website: What is the "endpoint" or positioning of our military that this government has in mind?

We used to be respected internationally as peace-keepers. Is this role changing?

I would appreciate a response from you at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time.

Yours very truly,
Kim Richter.

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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Boots on The Ground Art Exhibit In Washington DC Cdn Embassy

Our Canadian Government not only is putting up "Boots on the Ground, security is our business" posters in Washington DC subway and shopping malls for the average American( reported in LFP) but now the American establishment can also visit the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC where they can catch our latest art exhibit titled, you guessed it "Boots on the Ground"! Our Government, it would seem to us, is desperately trying to spin and sell Canada to Americans as back on track with them militarily. Don't worry about missing it, apparently the production of Canadian War Art show will remain on display through Dec 30! P.S. admission is free!

Soldiers In Training Eager To Go To Afghanistan

"This isn't a peacekeeping mission," said Corporal Michael Taylor, a 23-year-old military policeman from North Bay, Ont. But is he looking forward to it? "Absolutely." Quoted from today's Globe & Mail. Despite Cpl. Taylor's Mother threatening to call General Hillier to get her son reassigned he as well as the other 1200 troops see it as an opportunity and are excited because as one quotes, "it is not boring". They are being presently trained at CFB Petewawa to handle suicide attacks and the like for their upcoming reassignment to Afghanistan.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Canadian Soldier Killed In Firefight - 3 Wounded

And so it starts.
CTV reports, "A Canadian soldier serving in Afghanistan was killed and three others were wounded in a firefight with Taliban insurgents in a remote area outside of Kandahar, military officials say." Killed was Pte. Robert Costall, of the 1st Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton. Pte. Costall was the first Canadian Soldier killed in actual combat. Additional report from CBC. The 22 year old Robert Costall is survived by his wife Chrissy and their one year old son.

This Week's Rick Mercer On Politics

Rick Mercer Video Report on Harper's Media clampdown.
Rick Mercer Video Report on Harper's Equalization.
Rick Mercer Video Report on Liberal & Conservative Pledges.
Bookmark Rick Mercer Report.

Queen Of The North Resting Upright in Video Released

First Video (may take a few minutes to upload) of sunken Queen of the North Ferry released by the TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD OF CANADA in 1400 feet of water on the ocean floor. The ship is resting upright. See additional report from CBC.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Vecchiato's Voice - March 26, 2006 - Large Scale Tree removal Affects Neighbour - Who's Liable?

Information follows on the Victim Offender Mediation Program, whereby disputes can be taken here instead of court. The current dilemma is another clearing in Brookswood (reported in Langley Times), whereby an absentee landlord on 202 Street purchased a property and hired Fraser Valley Tree Service to remove every tree on the lot. The number was approximately 40-60 trees. A resident on 201A and 39th had an arborist visit, who said that removal of stumps and roots on the cleared property will affect five neighboring properties. Root removal will collapse one neighbor's septic field; the trees on the other properties will have to come down, not to mention the huge potential for windthrow. We are now getting into legal channels where responsibility must be assigned. The bylaw I had submitted to Council in 2002 had prevented clearcutting, for the mere fact of windthrow; the damage clearing can do on neighboring properties is more serious than that.

So who is liable? The offending property owner? Definitely. Township, for failing enforcement? They can, at some point, be held liable for not showing due diligence in protecting nesting birds, which violates both federal and provincial laws. Consider a case in Richmond, whereby the city was found guilty of passing inspection on leaky condos and not upholding the provincial guidelines for building inspections.

The local office of Victim Offer Reconciliation Program is 20678 Eastleigh Crescent, 534-5515. Township has put all of us in a situations of bad neighbor relationships, not having enforcement, thus living residents in dangerous confrontation, and ultimately, allowing such a loose rein that behaviour severely affects neighbors. Private property is one thing; activities that affect neighbors is a bigger picture.

I ask each councilor, who, as a candidate, said he/she would support a tree by law (it was everyone save three candidates who are in office), thus leaving a majority of elected individuals who said they would support a bylaw. I will send councillors a copy of the draft tree bylaw, which should include not clearing within twelve feet of a fence line.

Cathleen Vecchiato 604-533-0173

See the link here as well.
For more information on the Court Mediation Program and/or the mediation process, please contact our office at:
Phone: 604-684-1300; Fax: 604-684-1306;
Outside the Lower Mainland, call toll-free: 1-877-656-1300
Mailing address:
Court Mediation Program
Suite 177-800 Hornby StreetVancouver,
B.C.V6Z 2C5

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

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Canada’s Military in Afghanistan –Peacekeeping or Security & Combat?

Kim Richter, our contributing LFP columist has started a controversial discussion in her recent posting on March 23 in LFP. She says, “I have become increasingly uncomfortable with this government's move away from peace-keeping and into a more aggressive military presence” and cites a disconcerting Canadian Government-financed advertisement poster in a public Washington DC Metro Center Metrorail station as an example.

The March 25th front page of the Vancouver Sun says that while Prime Minister Harper’s approval rating is up by 21 points following his surprise trip to Afghanistan, the Canadian public’s support for our military mission there has dropped two percent nationally with significant drops of 8% support in both of each BC and Ontario. Nationally the drop shows only 52% in support of the mission with Quebecers 62% against the mission. Why is Councillor Richter concerned with our military mission and why the ever increasing drop of support nationally? More importantly why are Canadians clearly divided on our military role in Afghanistan?

Langley Free Press agrees with Richter’s concern and wades into this controversial argument. It seems to us that at least half of Canada also agrees with her concerns as well.

In 1957 Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson proposed an International peace force under the United Nations. That year he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his vision. Since 1957, Canada has been involved in over 50 peacekeeping missions, more than any other country. We are the only Country that has a national monument dedicated to our Peacekeeping military and even our $10 bill has an image on it honouring our Peacekeeping soldiers. Peacekeeping is a long held half century old Canadian point of pride and helps further define us as Canadians maybe even more so than our universal health care.

The Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping on their website lists 121 Canadians who gave their lives in the cause of peace in our over 50 year history of peacekeeping while serving with United Nations and other peacekeeping missions. Since commencing our military action in Afghanistan there have already been 11 Canadian deaths and 40 casualities alone. Meanwhile our political and military leaders have clearly been preparing Canadians to expect more casualties in this conflict.

The issue we have here is not just Canada’s commitment to Peacekeeping but the sudden and not so subtle marketing evolution from the image of a respected UN blue beret bearing Canadian soldier to an image on a banner of a steel helmeted, battle garbed, gun toting soldier with the accompanying headline “boots on the ground…security is our business” that Richter showcased.

Are we straying away from, or worse still, sacrificing our traditional world wide strong reputation and respected role that Canada has earned as a Peacekeeper? Is it perhaps more the role of countries like the U.S. that have historically demonstrated themselves as forced Peacemakers, not Canada? Quite frankly the American track record on forced Peacemaking has not been a stellar one either. What other Country is prepared to replace Canada’s worldwide respected peacekeeping role when really needed for Peacekeeping if we lose respect and acceptance as a Peacekeeper?

Traditional Canadian Peacekeeping took place between states or sides in a political conflict in order to monitor a peace treaty upon which all parties had agreed. When and why has it suddenly become our role now to essentially force peace and our version of democracy on a foreign country? Why has it suddenly changed to the point that we have essentially become one of the two sides in a military conflict?

It seems to us that the banner poster in a public Washington DC Metro Center Metrorail station proudly heralds this change of Canada’s military and further should alert us, while it obviously assures our American neighbours, that we are no longer peacekeepers between two warring factions but that we are now joining the Americans as forced peacemakers and that we are now one of the two warring factions?

While there will be very valid arguments forwarded justifying Canada’s Peacemaking participation based on supporting democratic change especially for women’s rights and the like, it could also be validly argued that many other nations in the Mid-East, including wealthy and stable nations like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, are certainly also far from democratic and at best extremely restrictive on human rights for women and the like. Why do we not impose our version of democracy on them as well as countless other similar countries? Maybe that is exactly the reason that causes armed resistance and terrorism in the Middle East, because it is perceived that the western countries are supporting what they consider to be American Imperialism.

Most fundamental Middle-East conflicts are strongly based on resistance and rebellion as a result of this perception that American and western societies’ values are being forced on them. This is especially true in countries with strong fundamental religious majorities. We in the West are perplexed as to why increasingly countless men and now women are willing to sabotage, especially by suicide missions, our attempts to influence our western ways on them.

Lengthy continued western occupations especially military ones like Afghanistan are most certainly prone to be doomed in these countries and cultures. Let’s not forget that a significant Russian military occupation of Afghanistan prior to ours was also an abysmal failure that resulted in countless young Russian soldiers’ deaths for naught. Will this continued military action in Afghanistan negatively and irreversibly reinforce Canada’s role as an occupier and fervent supporter of America and end our respected world wide role as a Peacekeeper initially implemented by Lester B. Pearson?

The reality is that Canada is not on a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. We are there in support of the American mission of “security and combat” that the poster in Washington confirms. We are assisting in now forcing our western values and our version of democracy on a country that one has to question whether they will ever truly accept especially if imposed militarily by the West. Should Canada perhaps stick to our knitting as a true Peacekeeper? Should Canada instead work diplomatically and economically to encourage, and positively assist these countries to willingly evolve their basic human rights and democracies in the mid and long term? Can short term 3rd party western military imposed democratic reform take hold and flourish in the Middle East countries? We think not.

Perhaps the American invasion of Afghanistan was well justified initially but is it right for Canada to trade-in our world wide respected image as a blue beret UN Peacekeeper for a helmeted security and combat image proclaiming "Boots on the Ground..... Security is our Business."? Again we think not. We encourage much more Canadian public debate, and soon, before it is too late.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mercer’s Ebay Liberal Leader Kit Auction

Update on Rick Mercer’s 15-minute consultation conference call auctioned on E-Bay. View the 2 minute duration video.

Richter Report - March 23, 2006 - Where Is Our Military Heading?

Canada's military used to be known for Peace Keeping as our Business.Has something changed? When did it change to:

"Boots on the Ground. U.S.-Canada Relations: Security is our Business."?

The above Canadian Government paid poster ad in a public Washington DC Metro Center Metrorail station states just that. It is obviously spinning Canada's military support. It also has a link displayed to go to on the same poster.

I don't know about you, but I wonder if this is the message Canadians really want to be selling. Do Canadians even know about this message?

Quoted on the Canadian Ally website: " is an electronic newsletter maintained by the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC, designed specifically for an American audience. The goal of this e-publication is to bring together pertinent defence and security information from a variety of government departments, agencies, military commands and bi-national organizations. The intent is to give American citizens a better sense of the scope of Canada's role in North American and Global Security and the War on Terror."

Sounds and smells like our Canadian Government is trying to sell a definitely more aggresive military message to the Americans - a message that Canadians may not be aware of or even in agreement with.

The photo and quotes are all from DCist blog based out of Washington DC written by Martin Andres Austermuhle who in his post on Canada's military advertisement says:

"We're not ones to question the allegiances of our neighbor to the north. But we are curious as to why they are looking to promote their security policy and close alliance to the U.S. to Metrorail passengers transferring from the Red Line to the Orange and Blue Lines. Has that ever been in doubt? We do suppose it's good to know they're there if we need them..."

I support peace-keeping and I respect and support our Canadian forces in their peace-keeping roles wherever they are. But, I have become increasingly uncomfortable with this government's move away from peace-keeping and into a more aggressive military presence. In fact, as a mother of three teenage children, I find this less than subtle shift very disturbing and I wonder where it's heading.

We used to be respected internationally as peace-keepers. Is this role changing and why?

If you are at all bothered by this poster in Washington or have questions, call your MP and ask for an explanation. See if they are comfortable with this or even aware of it. I will be asking our MP in Langley for his opinion on this advertising and I'll let you know what he has to say.

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.

Harper's Closed Shop

Read an excellent editorial by James Travers, national affairs columnist for the Toronto Star. His key quoted comments are,
“Twenty years of serial bad behaviour by both mainstream parties, culminating in an ethics meltdown that justifiably drove Liberals out of office, makes meaningful reform essential.”
“As inconvenient as it will be for prime ministers, this failing system needs fresh air and daylight to regain its strength. More control, more ruthless decisions, won't bring credibility, or voters, back to federal politics.”
We have yet to see Harper’s “fresh air & daylight”.

David Asper Editorial A Scathing Rebuttal To Liberal Bill Graham

David Asper personally responded to Interim Liberal Leader Bill Graham’s threat to take down the Harper Conservative government over the child care bill. David Asper in today’s National Post editorial scathingly sides with Harper’s Conservatives daring the Liberals to try to bring the Conservatives down so that we can hopefully then get a Conservative majority.

Langley Casino Killing Fraser Downs Casino

The Surrey Leader reports that the Fraser Downs Casino smaller than anticipated revenues in Cloverdale has contributed to losing money for it’s owner, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. They have also issued a warning about the degree of the company debt. Councillor Marvin Hunt, chair of Surrey City’s finance committee, “blamed the drop on the opening of a new casino in Langley City in May of last year, just 15 minutes from the Cloverdale facility.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

City Of Richmond, Laughs & Giggles

And we think Langley Township has problems! Our $3-4-5 Million dollar Grandstand fiasco and our latest 5-5 & 5 % three year tax grab seem somewhat milder compared to the problems the City of Richmond Council are going to be labeled with . First the Richmond Mayor & Council win the Canadian Taxpayers Federation piggy waste award for spending $575,000 taxpayer's dollars on worldwide junkets for City politicians and administration. Secondly they are spending $178 million taxpayer dollars on anOlympic Speed skating oval that may not be able to be used. The latest problem is that all the female firefighters in Richmond, B.C., have taken leave complaining of systemic sexual harassment as reported by the Globe & Mail. Bad things always come in threes! Wouldn't you like to run for re-election in Richmond Council?....

Political Spin of The Day

When you read something consider what you think you read. Case in point. Today's Langley Times reported that Councillor Kim Richter moved to go ahead with leasing the abandoned old Fort Langley Fire Hall to a non-profit society who want to use it as a museumto showcase seven vintage fire trucks and other 1920 artifacts. Sounds great dosn't it since we get money and a museum at the same time. So Richter's motion was a good idea right? Now go to Councillor Bateman's website and see his take on it. He, on the 6th paragraph down, presents it like Councillor Richter is the only one opposed to the museum. What really happened is the rest of council is deep sixing the free Museum, including Bateman, while Richter is saying its a great idea go for it and negotiate. Bateman's article gives this writer the difinite impression Richter is against it until I read today's Times! He is technically correct that she voted against deep sixing or delaying the project. He failed to add that. Sometimes its not what you say but what you don't say that gives false impressions. Political spin of the day! (PS; Albert's Council is planning a big taxpayer funded Museum in Fort Langley.) ....

Rick Mercer Reminds Us Its Tax Time!

View Rick's latest video spoof ad as an alternative to "hands in my pocket" here.
Maybe Langley Township should have one too in appreciation of their 5-5 & 5% tax hikes over three years!

Northen BC Ferry Sinks at 1 AM

The Queen of the North BC Ferry hit a rock shortly before 1 a.m. local time this morning, about 135 kilometers south of Prince Rupert. Fortunately all 59 passengers and 42 crew are safe. The single hull boat sunk within an hour of apparently hitting a rock. Some of the passengers were asleep at the time and were rescued in their pajamas in the rainy dark weather. Apparently the nearby community of Hartley Bay helped in the rescue efforts. The Queen of the North was sailing south to Port Hardy from Prince Rupert, a 450-kilometre trip along B.C.'s Inside Passage. See the CBC report for full details as well as the Globe & Mail and the BC Ferries press release and CP. Ironically Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is scheduled today to meet with the finance ministry to discuss funding for replacement ships. This is the first time ever a BC Ferry has sunk.....

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Liberal Leader Graham Warns PM Harper To Tread Softly

"I did point out (that) his is a minority that is even less strong than ours and on many of these issues he knows that not only (does) he represent a minority of members of the House, but also in terms of the electorate," said Graham who met briefly with PM Harper, as reported in CP. In other words tread softly early on!

H5N1 Bird Flu Has Split Into Two Distinct Strains

CBC reports that we now have twice the risk, twice the vaccines required and twice the chance of developing into a human strain.

Private Copeman Medical Clinic To Be Investigated

The Vancouver Sun reports on Health Minister George Abbott who will be doing a full investigation of the Privatly owned Copeman Medical Clinic where the public can pay $300 a month and get "the longest, most pain-free-life possible." The big question is is this the leading edge of a two tier health care system for those who can afford it versus those who can’t. This clinic could be in contravention of the Canada Health Care Act.

Monday, March 20, 2006

And Then There Were Two - Liberal Leadership

63 year old Liberal MP John Godfrey is now the second declared candidate running for the Federal Liberal Leadership as reported by CP. Godfrey was editor of the Financial Post between 1987 and 1991. See his website here, wikipedia here and Liberal Bio here. To see his latest quotes and how he voted as an MP see here.
Martha Hall Findlay was the first declared candidate reported here on LFP.

Trinity Western University Announces New President

TWU in Langley released this press release announcing Jonathan S. Raymond, PhD, as the new and only third president of Trinity Western University, the Christian liberal arts university in Langley. "This was a lengthy, rigorous and prayerful process," commented Reg Petersen, Selection Committee Chair.

There were previous concerns on campus regarding University Governance from some Langley Trinity University students, as previously reported by us as well as the Vancouver Sun. These issues arose from procedures for dealing with harassment out of a recently reported and apparently resolved harassment complaint and some subsequent student's concerns of representation on the board.

Ethics Czar, Shapiro, Clears Harper & Emerson

In the end, though, Harper gave Shapiro both an interview and a written response, says CBC in its report. Ethics Commissioner Shapiro despite initial refusals from PM Harper to cooperate and his open search to replace him, in the end says that both Harper and Emerson broke no rules when Emerson was persuaded by Harper to cross the floor to the Conservatives from the Liberals. He does suggest however that the House of Commons should debate the now often crossing of the floor because of the public uproar on the matter. The actual commissioner report can be read on his website. Now that wasn't so bad or dangerous after all, was it Stephen?

B.C. government and public service union reach tentative contract deal

Well, looks like Minister Carole Taylor did it. She was able to reach a tentative contract agreement with the BCGEU as reported by CP. Details arn't out yet. But apparently signing bonuses were instrumental in clinching a deal as further reported.

Parliament Will Be Back to Normal Fisticuffs April 3rd

The Hill Times reports that the new sitting of Parliament will be raucous with quotes like this from Liberal Mr. Goodale saying about PM Harper. "Is he saying, 'I don't like this guy (Ethics Commisioner) or issue so I'm going to tell him to go to hell?' Politics back to normal!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lib Leadership Convention Dec 2-3, In Montreal

CBC reports that the Liberals will choose their new Leader this year in Montreal on December 2 and 3rd. there will be $3.4-million campaign spending limit. And entry fee for Leadership Candidate is $50,000.00.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Must Faith Remain Taboo in Canadian Politics?

Jenny Jackson in The Ottawa Citizen wrote a piece that begs contemplation. The key quote though is Mr. Mckay's prediction that faith will drive the ideologies of the 21st century unlike the 'isms' of communism, fascism, and socialism," that drove the 20th century. We at LFP have great concerns with this. Look no further than the middle east and Ireland and some would suggest the U.S.A. today to see what faith led ideologies have wrought. The article is rich in quotes some of which are referenced below.

"It's wrong to see religious communities as more ethical. That suggests that, by nature, (humans) are depraved, and that is not so."

"You have to advocate righteousness without appearing self-righteous."

"Faith conflict, in my view, will drive the ideologies of the 21st century, unlike the 20th century, which was the 'isms' of communism, fascism, and socialism,"says Mr. McKay.

Christian Politicians must be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

In the House of Commons, faith is almost taboo.

Mr. McKay says Canadians are spooked by the "merger" of the U.S. religious right and George W. Bush's Republican party, he said, as faith groups "have allowed themselves to become the handmaiden of the Republicans."

"It's the transition of a faith group into a public interest group that makes people nervous."

"religious belief has a unique zeal, sense of certainty and rationale for imposing itself. It believes it is simply right and it is in a unique position to persuade people about its universality and consequences of not following it."

Friday, March 17, 2006

Richmond $178M Olympic Oval Makes Langley’s $3-4-5M Grandstand Look Great!

Unbelievable what some Municipalities are doing with Taxpayers money. We thought that the almost doubling cost of our Langley Grandstand was bad but get a load of the outrageous Richmond Municipality Olympic (No Longer) speed skating oval as reported by News 1130 and in the Vancouver Sun. This is the municipality that spends hundreds of thousands on worldwide junkets reported here to study speed skating ovals for naught. Do you think that the Richmond Taxpayers will be happy?

Conservatives Worldwide Will Dominate Liberals!

There you have it. It is inevitable; the Conservatives are breeding more like rabbits than Liberals. reports that "Childlessness and small families are increasingly the norm today among progressive secularists.” That explains it all.

PM Harper, Gags His Government Public Comments

PM Harper is starting to look more and more like the autocratic and previous PM Jean Chretien as reported by the Globe & Mail. He is demanding that all of his cabinet, MPs and all Government officials vet everything through his PM office first.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Letter To The Editor - March 16, 2006 - From Jeannine Cherewick - Responses To Translink Board Re: Stupid Parking Tax

Subject RE: parking tax!! a response to Paul Barlow, Project Manager Parking Site Tax Implementation

We will post Letters to the Editor prominently. Send Email letters to EDITOR-LFP.

(Below at bottom is response to Mrs. Cherewick's first letter from Translink and just below is her 2nd response to Translink!)

From: Jeannine Cherewick
Cc: Mayor & Council, MP Mark Warawa, MLA Mary Polak, Langley Times, Councillor Steve Ferguson, MLA Kevin Falcon, Councillor Kim Richter, Langley Free Press

First of all, I am Mrs. Cherewick,
Your reasons sound like bureaucratic legalese… Translink has no right to tax a property that they already get a portion of tax funds from (the property tax). Translink has also used a very broad stroke in determining what is taxable with out thought or diligence. The amount of tax is unreasonable, even after that most gracious 20% reduction.

Business people, the bread winners for real families that are already overburdened with taxes from their home and corporate obligations are the ones truly affected by this obscene tax grab. You know; the small business owner who has a small shop with typically less that 50 employees. They do not get a pay raise every time the cost of living increases. They try to stretch every dollar to make ends meet, pay the employees first, hope to find the time and money for a vacation next year, ignore the Telus bill that month and hope to cover it the next. They save pennies, live on credit and now some well paid Translink employee glibly tells me that there is wide spread support for this tax initiative?

When did you come to my door and ask my opinion? When did anyone from Translink come to any of my peers and ask if this was a good idea? Translink didn’t ask small business owners, they probably conferenced with some very large corporations who have a large public drawing and can afford to absorb the costs and in fact it probably wont affect their costs too much because they sell so much product and it’s all made in China so the cost to the bottom line is only pennies per item to them. Who told you this was a good plan and they supported it? I’d like to talk to those companies.

It’s companies that are just a husband and wife team or less than 50 employees, or specialty shops, artisans and fine crafts; those are the ones you should have spoken to and then you’d get a pretty honest reaction to your lame excuses for bleeding us of more of our hard earned money. This tax will see an increase to everything; clothes, groceries, gas, business supplies and so on. I don’t support this tax.
I work from my home and have a big drive way, are you going to tax me too? Oh, wait, you already did! Its called property tax and since the values of property have risen enormously since 1992 (when this dumb idea was first conceived) that funding source should be more than sufficient for Translink along with the fuel taxes and hydro levies and whatever other way you acquire your funding. If its not then obviously Translink is not a well structured or well run company and should cease being a drain on the economy and be dissolved.

Now I’d like to know how much you make every year and what your expense account allowance is and what all your perks are so I can send you a bill for a percentage of what you make and then I could raise it annually to support my family as the cost of living increases because of tax initiatives like this one.
Jeannine Cherewick

Response below to Mrs. Cherewick's initial letter also posted here on LFP.

From: Barlow, Paul []
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 10:26 AM
To: Jeannine Cherewick
: FW: parking tax!!

Dear Ms. Cherewich;
Thank you for your February 22nd e-mail and your comments on the Parking Site Tax. My apologies for the lateness of this reply.

By way of some history, the tax was proposed as a funding source for BC Transit as early as 1992, and the provincial legislation creating the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority in 1998 included it as a source of funding for TransLink's road and transit services. The legislation defines a 'parking site' as "the part of the land and any improvements on the land that is used, available or designed for the parking of motor vehicles, and for any purpose that is in any way related or ancillary to that parking".

A Parking Site Tax has been implemented for a number of reasons. The first is that demand for road and transit improvements simply outstrips TransLink's revenues. We consulted broadly in 2003 to determine the transportation improvements the region needed us to implement in our 2005 - 2007 Three Year Plan, and to reach some consensus on how to pay for them. While one option was to proceed on the basis of TransLink's existing revenues, the consultation identified a $2 billion list of transit expansion and road projects.

The second reason that this specific tax was created arose out of the widespread support across the region that the users and benefactors of the entire transportation system share the cost of these improvements. Businesses and other organizations rely greatly on the road and transit systems to get goods, services, staff, members and customers to and from their locations. They have a keen interest in alleviating traffic congestion, which serves to drive up business costs and, it follows, the costs of goods and services for all consumers.

As a result of public feedback, TransLink identified three sources of additional revenue to support the transportation plan: transit fares, property tax and parking taxes. Both the transit fare and property tax increases were implemented in 2005.

The Parking Site Tax being implemented in 2006 is the product of consultations with a variety of interest groups. Initially, TransLink proposed an increase to the sales tax charged on off-street paid parking, but stakeholders pointed out its undue impact on limited locations throughout the region (particularly downtown Vancouver and White Rock) and suggested that a region-wide strategy be used instead.

Discussions then took place with a number of organizations, including representatives of commercial property owners, to explore options for a tax based on parking stalls or parking areas, as described in the GVTA Act. In those discussions, representatives expressed strong support for TransLink's transportation plan and an equally strong appreciation that more funding was needed. However, and understandably, they did not like the idea of a tax on parking and wanted us to rely on other sources of funding. The Board did take that view into consideration when they approved the overall financial strategy that drew on transit fares and property taxes as well as the parking site tax.

The discussions then focused on options to structure a parking tax and, based on the input we received, TransLink proceeded with one based on parking area and opted to utilize the existing property tax framework. The key reasons for this were:

a) Fairness and regional equity - stall sizes vary and processes for unmarked parking are not required.
b) Cost of collection and maintenance of the roll - once the roll is established, the collection can be done through existing processes.
c) Objectivity - "area" is definitive and not subject to change.

Further, the framework established enables retail property owners to pass along the cost to all tenants, including anchor tenants.

The property tax framework will exempt some properties from the tax. Generally, any non-residential property that is not subject to municipal property taxes will also not pay the Parking Site Tax.

It is understandable that a number of issues will arise with the introduction of a new tax. In this case, many issues will revolve around the areas that were included in the site measurement. The property tax framework being used creates an appeal process that allows a property owner to appeal to an independent review panel to ensure that the measurement reflects the parameters of the legislation, its regulations and the GVTA bylaws. We anticipate that there will be some adjustments to the total measurements as a result of the appeals that have been filed.
The Board of Directors have listened to the business community and have instructed staff to reduce the rate for 2006 so that revenue generated by this tax be set at $20 million not $25 million as originally planned. They have also requested that staff review the details of implementation of the parking site tax, including those arising from the definition of "parking", exemptions and TDM goals.

As much as anyone, we realize that taxes are not popular and that the introduction of a new tax is even less so.

People in the region have supported increases in transit fares and taxes, knowing the impact on them personally, because they understand the costs involved if we do not improve our transportation network. TransLink's total commitment and focus is on maximizing the benefits from this new revenue in the form of road and transit improvements that people can see and use.
Paul Barlow
Project Manager Parking Site Tax Implementation Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink) 1600-4720 Kingsway Burnaby, B.C. V5H 4N2 604-453-4507

Do Canadians Want A "Hoorah" Military?

The Conservatives are essentially giving our Canadian Military a drastic make over and more so than just in increased military spending. The military is now consciously moving from a peace keeping role to a more aggressive first strike role and as The Toronto Sun aptly calls it a, “gung-ho U.S. "hoorah" infantry spirit”. General Rick Hillier seems to be thriving on this unbridled ‘dogs of war’ carte blanche that Harper’s Conservatives have let loose.

But are Canadians on board for this drastic change? We suspect that they are not yet even aware of the transformation and as the inevitable fiascos develop the public will become angry at the change from peace keeper status. Casualties such as the recent accidental shooting of an innocent Afghanistani by Canadians and any more mounting Canadian casualties or other fiascos will ultimately rebound on the Harper Government. Canadians should also wonder why the British troops are leaving Afghanistan. Are they concerned on the political front too?

Charest-Harper Love fest Great For Separatists - Duceppe

The Globe & Mail quotes Bloc Québécois Separatist Leader Gilles Duceppe as saying that “The Conservative government's plan to give Quebec a greater role on the world stage is good news for separatists.” Is this self serving Harper Conservative focus on Quebec simply a ploy to get a majority Government worth the risk of selling out more to the separatist movement?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Charest's Survival Based On Bedding With Harper

The National Post reports on Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s speech in the National Assembly essentially telling voters in Quebec that only he, unlike the Parti Quebecois, can deliver the goods for Quebeckers. Both Harper and Charest need each other to both get their majority Governments in both their next elections. Our concern is, what are the goods that Harper will deliver to Quebec. What about us in the West?

Is An Elected Senate A Concern Not A Solution?

Excellent article by Can West National Post on the down sides of an elected Senate that leaves a lot of food for thought. Part 1 of 3 part series.

This Editor thinks the Senate should be changed but also thinks that all implications be carefuully considered and be taken into account. For instance Senators should not essentially sit for life and Senate should not be allowed to paralyze the House of Commons. Maybe the Senate should just be abolished?

"Chrétien and Harper A lot Alike"

Toronto Star Columnist CHANTAL HÉBERT compares Harper to Chrétien who she says was an effective but often lethal political animal. The only difference she perceives between them is that Chrétien delegated a lot unlike Harper.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Et tu, Brutus

Well it looks like Ralph Klein is looking over his shoulder for Brutus and taking, as previously editorialized by the Calgary Herald, their advice, that it was time for Klein to go. It now seems that Klein sees the writing on the wall and will take the graceful way out instead of risking a leadership review this spring as reported by CNEWS.

Remove prayer from convocation - U of T Student Group

A student group at the U of T says it is "disgusted" that graduates have to listen to words like "Eternal God" during the convocation process. They want to do away with it says the National Post. The students say it takes away from individual, personal effort and attributes it to a deity."

Harper A "PM we could truly be proud of" - National Post

National Post reports that PM Harper, not burdened with pacifists in his party, can say and do what he has done in Afghanistan and about our military commitment. They say such a PM is long over due.

The Toronto Sun Editorial says "This is what leadership looks like....Now this is more like it!"

BC Doctors Negotiate 19% Hike Over Four Years

What is the recipe for strike this year by BC teachers, healthcare and government workers? Try this out. Negotiate a 19% raise for BC Doctors by the BC government! As reported by Canadian Press. See the actual insiders letter on Sean Holman’s Public Eye.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Battle of the Spins

Something amazing has happened lately in good old bucolic Langley – it’s starting to wake up. Just like Spring, you know there’s something happening. Take a little old story like Township Council approving a 15% tax increase and just look at all the different variations on this theme.

The regional media (The Vancouver Province) is strongly questioning spending priorities in the Township and has been for the last few months. Veteran Councillor Kim Richter says spending is out of control. Rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman says it’s OK because it’s being spent on ‘public safety’ (and by the way he’s the one who moved the 4.95% increase in each of the next 3 years just like he’s the one who moved spending an additional million dollars on the $3-4-5 million dollar grandstand fiasco). Mayor Kurt Alberts says we’re in a “healthy financial position” at the same time that he’s saying we’re “facing huge financial challenges”. One local editor (The Times) says Township Council has listened to the taxpayers (so I guess we have to assume from this ‘pronouncement’ that a 15% increase is OK because it’s better than a 20% increase).

Where’s the reality here?What are we the poor taxpayers supposed to believe? Well, we at Langley Free Press suggest that you go back to basics. Look at the facts, follow the money, and then decide.

col-A = Year
col-B = % increase in General Levy Tax
col-C = Total Municipal portion of Taxes (bottom line)

col-A....col-B ....col-C2000....0.0%....$1,416...(note:Alberts first elected as Mayor)
2003...1.00%....$1,637...(note: LLT lose all seats)
2006...4.95%....$1,803...(note: 7 of 9 on Alberts list elected)

So, if you owned an “average” property in 2000 (the first year that our present Mayor was in place), you paid $1416 in municipal property taxes. This included the general levy and all the utilities (water, sewer, etc.). In 2008, if you still own the same “average property”, you will be paying $1,985 in municipal property taxes (including water, sewer, garbage and stormwater utilities).

Mathematically speaking, $1985 (2008 property taxes on the ‘average home’) minus $1416 (2000 property taxes on the ‘average home’) divide by $1416 (the 2000 property taxes on the average home or the base year) multiply by 100 (to get a percentage) = a 40.2% increase!

In other words, since the current mayor took office, your property taxes will have gone up by 40.2%. Feel better now?

What should be done now?

It’s time for all of us to get realistic and time for all of us to do the jobs for which we are paid. No more playing favourites.

Councillors should buckle down and ask the hard questions that have to be asked before they vote on tax increases. That’s what they were elected to do.

The local media have an obligation to the community at large to be honest and FAIR in their reporting. The community relies on their theoretically unbiased perspectives.

Finally and most importantly, the community has to stand up and speak out. The time for ‘numbness’ has passed. Our community is changing too fast and too drastically. We need to defend what is important and of value. (And, the “good ‘ole boys’ club” probably isn’t one of them).

Local News In Review - Translink, Carvolth, 15% Tax Increase & Much More

So, Former Mayor Grinnell is appointed to head the review panel of Translink by the Province's Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon. Let's be clear, we very much agree with Falcon's Gateway project and we agree with Falcon's concern of the Translink Board. But face it the writing is on the wall, Translinks' board is toast. Too bad our Mayor Kurt Alberts and all the other politicians on Translink who won't much longer make any more money sitting on Translink. It would probably not have gotten us much in Langley anyway! Is this 3 member panel basically window dressing to do the Province's bidding to help them push the delete button on the gaggle of goofs at Translink? We predict that this facade of a three 3 member panel will put the ultimate control essentially back into the Province's hand once again. See reports here, here and here and here
Carvolth School is also a done deal. It's toast. A valiant effort by the community. What they should understand is that the elected School Board Trustees do not fear the wrath of only a few hundred at best angry parents at the far away next election two and a half years from now. See reports here , here and here and here

Township Tax Increases and Financial ManagementSince 2000 when Mayor Alberts' slate was essentially first conceived we will have seen his present Council's budgeted average property tax, actual and plan, for the period 2000 to 2008, grow from $1416.00 to $1985.00 for an increase of $569.00 annually which is a whopping 40.2% increase. This will be this Mayor's Council legacy to us the taxpayers during his term in office. When is the public going to say enough is enough?

It is beyond us as to why the local media are not pounding on the 3 year 15% tax increase planned and an Alberts' Council overall 8 year dynasty rule of a 40.2% tax increase? Then of course there are other new apologist's like rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman who once again played into the hands of Mayor Alberts' Council by moving the actual motion to increase our taxes 4.95% for this year and for each of the next two years. His simplistic rationale is that tax increases are necessary to maintain our growth of police and firefighters. Using this simple rationale why not go to 9.95% or 14.95% or 19.95% for even better growth of our protective sevices? This comes from financial whiz kid, rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman who also got snookered to move the motion to increase the $3-4-5 million Grandstand budget by another $1 million with financial help by Langley City, hah! Bateman and the Council seem to have no problem whatsoever criticizing others for their tax increases though. What hypocrites. Do they all really believe that we will buy their 95 cent special marketing pricing ploy? Give us a break. See reports here , here and here and here
This previous last link which is the Times editorial spin makes me really warm up towards the Alberts' Council and to the editor when it basically translates to me that we are really lucky that Council is listening to us (hah!) because they reduced their property tax increases down from essentially 20% to 15%! Why does he not mention that under the Alberts' Council regime the total property tax bites will have been a whopping 40% increase? The Editor is quoted "There will be some who say there should be no tax increases. This is not practical or realistic in a growing community." Why not? Why does he not suggest that perhaps this township's growth is not sustainable because the more we grow the more it costs us? Why does he not suggest that this unsustainable cost of growth be funded by those that profit from the growth not the Township Taxpayer? (Example from our financial savvy neighbours on tax sustainability). Why does he not suggest that the annual 1 or 2 % cost of living increases be paid for by those who profit from Township's growth rather than the taxpayers? Why doesn't he question a 15% tax hike? Why doesn't he criticize a 40% tax increase under Alberts' Council regime? Why doesn't he require Township "shake ups" as he does when he questions Translinks tax hikes ? Why doesn't he move to Langley to help us pay for our increased and increasing taxes?

Speaking of waste of dollars see here.

And the final words go to Don Woode and Glen Tomblin . They should both be on Council!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

“Spending Out Of Control in Langley Township” - Reports Vancouver Province Newspaper

The Vancouver Province today screamed the headline “Spending Out Of Control in Langley Township”. It further quotes Councillor Kim Richter’s criticism of her fellow Mayor Alberts’ Council saying, “There doesn’t seem to be any upper limits on spending.”

Some of the recent questionable and controversial spending initiatives were the up to 20 year deferred ownership of the up front paid out $4 million Redwoods golf course purchase and the $5.2 million dollar Grandstand initially planned at $3 million.

The Province also quoted Mayor Kurt Alberts' contradictory statements comparing his recent November pre-election campaign quote that Township finances were in “great shape” with his newest post-election quote, only four months later, that there are “budgetary challenges” in Langley Township! The Mayor is quoted to be essentially blaming most of the financial constraints on the move to full time firefighters, yet he was fully aware of this move well before his election comments. Except for Councillor Richter the other majority of Councillors re-elected in November also campaigned on the finances being in "great shape".

The Township Mayor in the dying days just prior to the November 2005 election ran this very controversial attached advertisement (the page 2 of the ad attachment highlights additional comments from the Mayor and past Township tax increases) in a local Langley newspaper. The Mayor's Ad endorsed all the incumbent Councillors except sitting Councillor Kim Richter. Of the incumbent Councillors, she was the only one campaigning on the fact that Township spending was out of control. However all of the incumbent Councillors were re-elected. The ad was deemed controversial as many thought it gave credence to the impression that a Mayor's slate existed. It was also controversial because one of the citizens named in the ad on the Mayor's advisory panel said that he knew nothing about any advisory panel when shown the ad and that no advisory panel meetings had ever occurred. On the very next day he completely reversed his comments saying it was a misunderstanding.

While Langley’s much smaller neighbour, Langley City, proudly announced that they will only increase their property taxes 5% in total over the next three years, Langley Township will raise property taxes three times more than the City to 15% (not compounded), over the same three year period. With the compounding effect, if Township can realistically hold increases to exactly 5% tax increases annually in all 3 years, this would in essence increase the average property owner’s taxes much closer to 16% rather than 15%!

This does not include GVRD and Translink tax hikes to property owners in Langley Township. Richter quoted in the Province says” I feel worried about my tax bill in June. I think everybody is.”

LFP gives kudos to the Province Newspaper for outing the financial predicament that Richter has been ringing alarm bells on for years. Other than only one local newspaper in Langley the other paper has been seemingly critical of Councillor Richter’s financial concerns and predictions and critical of her assessment of the concerns.

Kudos to Councillor Jordan Bateman who we understand has put forward a motion asking staff to cut the $350,000.00 annual advertising costs in the local papers which were detailed in this linked Report.

This Vancouver Province article is not only an indictment of this Council’s horrific spend, tax and borrow practices but it is more so an indictment of the local media that has seemingly almost refused to report or editorialize properly in our opinion on this glaring financial debacle in Langley Township. LFP has to ask the real question, when is the public in Langley going to see changes in the local media? Do you see any biases in the local newspaper?

Councillor Kim Richter is also one of LFP’s contributing columnists and you can also view some of her concerns further elaborated on and published herein on her archives page link here.

Prime Minister’s Office Impeding Freedom Of The Press reports that the Press Gallery accuses the PMO of impeding freedom of access to the Government’s decision makers.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

LFP Rogue Roving Reporter Presents The Township Oscar Winners ...RRR

And the Township Oscar Winners are…

After watching the Oscars Sunday Night I realized we should do the same for our Township Council. So in keeping with the celebrations I had a limo drive me to the Hall, I couldn’t get into the secured parking lot of Prince Alberts and slate, but it may have given the Mayor the idea that they need limos in 2008. My chauffer was able to put out the red carpet on the upper level parking lot. I think one councilor took my picture with his new taxpayer-paid Blackberry.

Once inside I was happy to see that Councilor Ferguson was sporting a new pair of glasses (Are these funded by the benefits program?) His old glasses are probably worn out as Steve loves to use them as a prop to express an idea. Good thing he has very few ideas these days so these glasses should last some time.

The first Oscar for Best Director goes to Kurt Alberts. We assume his ability to control his slate on council allowed the Redwoods borrowing bylaw to zip thru in 2 minutes flat! I thought he said he was going to use the DCC’s for parks and rec, instead of borrowing??? Oh well he may win the best actor - I mean who flip-flops better than this mayor?

Grant Ward won the Best Supporting Actor. It almost seems that the Mayor has an electric tickler on his seat to make sure Grant seconds every motion raised by the slate councillors. Maybe Grant has a hard time fitting a word in edgewise since the Mayor’s report usually drones on for up to an hour or so.

The Best Script goes to Jordan “ME-ME” Bateman (check out his blog, you would think he’s running council). You should know better Jordan, you’re not running council… but maybe Rich Coleman is! Mel Kositsky has figured this out and has made a weekly sport of battering Jordan. But at least Jordan is getting some of these old farts to sit up and pay attention.

The best Foreign Film Award goes to Kim Richter who continues to speak a language the rest don’t understand. She needs to work on subtitles though – maybe then she’ll get a seconder for her motions!

The Award for Best Special Effects goes to Bob Long. Thank God he now reaches over the Mayor to turn on speakers microphones so us saps in the cheap seats can hear what is going on.

Speaking of microphones, this year’s $20 million dollar blockbuster “Township Hall” still doesn’t have a working video & audio system, nice planning Kurt?

Bob Long also used a gross hand gesture to show us how long it is …. I think he was taking about the on-ramp to the highway, but I couldn’t hear, Kurt was asleep at the microphone switch.

I have to give Kurt credit for voting at Translink against the parking tax. He also told council Translink had a windfall profit from property taxes this year to the tune of $8.5 million. Golly Kurt you could blow that buying golf courses, or building grandstands!

The Best Comic Performance, has to go to Steve “Specks” Ferguson, after the Mayor spent half an hour explaining that Translink is buying 95 buses, some will be natural gas, the rest converted to diesel at no extra charge or penalty. As soon as the Mayor finished, Steve pushed his buzzer and asked if we are buying 95 buses and if there is a penalty???
Keep your eye on the ball Steve instead of checking over Bateman’s shoulder to see what he is writing all the time.

We suggest that the Mayor also hand out his own awards. We think that he should give Charlie Fox his green “N” sticker to put on his desk indicating New Councillor, but a probably disappointed Jordan Bateman should get a Red “L” sticker indicating Learning Councillor. He still makes erratic turns and fails to signal when he turns left. Knowing Jordan, he would probably protest though, saying he never turns left damn it( even though his partner Sam does), instead he makes three right turns until he gets to his destination.

Well I got to get out of here - the Mayor is starting to talk again. And I’m having a hard time keeping my eyes open. Boredom is this mayor’s best weapon!

Letter To The Editor - March 8, 2006 - From Jeannine Cherewick - Parking Tax!! Revised By 20%

(LFP Editor - It looks like Langley Township is using the same ploy, take a little bit off the tax. It is reported that Township is going to increase our taxes 15% over 3 years rather than the initial ~20%. WOW.. Thank You!)

We will post Letters to the Editor prominently. Send Email letters to EDITOR-LFP.
Dear Editor,
So, Translink has so graciously reduced its grasping, unfair and (it should be illegal) unethical tax on parking lots, flowerbeds adjacent to parking lots, driveways, loading zones and elevators by 20%... should that appease the many people who will personally suffer as result of the parking lot tax?

Translink needs to be taken to task for their broken promises to all of the tax payers, not just the ones in Vancouver; to improve lower mainland transit, for the incredibly unfair way in which they intend to line their own pockets, for thinking that all the people living outside the Vancouver city limits are piggy-banks.

And why isn’t the provincial government stepping in here and telling Translink that this is an unethical attempt upon the citizens of BC? Why aren’t there any jobs on the line for the strong arm mob like tactics being pulled by this unelected, unaccountable group of bureaucrats? Where is the government who we elected to honestly and effectively manage this province now when they are needed to police some of their own?

To further comment I’ve made previously, Translink is getting a service for free… all the tax dollars they collect from business and individuals alike; that is a service we the citizenry provide. HMMMMM, we should charge a fee for that too. So on top of the monthly bill every Translink board member is going to receive from me, there will be a small service fee for the work I have done for them, retro active to a date I think is fair. Collecting those taxes and paying them faithfully should be remunerated appropriately.

Please pay attention Translink… REAL PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR A LIVING DONT LIKE YOU! We pay for you, but get so little in return it doesn’t count and even what we do get back costs us extra because we have to drive everywhere because of poor transit planning on your parts. Its really obvious to me that Translink announced the tax rate at 20% higher than ever intended so you could act all gracious and benevolent by reducing it 20% when the inevitable groans came from the actual real live working class people because of another unfair tax.
Jeannine Cherewick

Conservative Ethics Hypocrisy - Liberal Newsletter

Copy of Liberal Party of Canada Newsletter.

Conservative Hypocrisy on Ethics Investigations

· A Conservative spokesperson has said they will not cooperate with the Ethics Commissioner’s investigation into Prime Minister Harper’s inducement of David Emerson to cross the floor for a cabinet position, claiming is just a “partisan attack” and that the Ethics Commissioner is a “Liberal appointee”

· Dr. Bernard Shapiro has no ties to the Liberal Party and his appointment was confirmed by a vote in the House of Commons pursuant to the provisions of the Ethics Bill (C-4).
· When Dr. Shapiro was questioned by a House committee before his nomination was confirmed, the Conservative members expressed no concern with his impartiality and qualifications and instead said he had a “very impressive” background. (Ken Epp, Committee Hansard, Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, April 26, 2004)
· The Conservatives asked Dr. Shapiro for, and received, a number of ethics investigations. We know how much outrage they would have expressed if the Liberal government had tried to dismiss these investigations as mere “partisan attacks”
· For Harper’s communications director to ask why Shapiro did not investigate Scott Brison’s joining the Liberal party is so nonsensical that only highlights what a desperate smokescreen it is. Shapiro only became ethics commissioner in April 2004, four full months after Brison joined the Liberal caucus. In light of the dissolution of the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties, Brison decision to sit as a Liberal is not different that Harper’s own decision to rebrand himself a Conservative the very same month.
· It is also incorrect for the Conservative to claim that no financial benefit was offered to Mr. Emerson to entice him to cross the floor. Cabinet ministers are paid $213,500 or $69,200 more than a backbench MP. They also receive other financial benefits beyond the prestige and influence of the office, including a car and driver and a budget of almost $1 million for hiring political staff.
· The House of Commons conflict of interest code prohibits MPs from inducing another MP to take an action that would further their private interests. Is this why Mr. Harper does not want the Ethics Commissioner to investigate the Prime Minister’s actions regarding Mr. Emerson’s appointment to cabinet?

Stand Off Between Ethics Commissioner & Harper

CP reports that ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro's decision to investigate Harper's recruitment of former Liberal cabinet minister David Emerson has now escalated into a full-blown face-off between the ethics commissioner and the prime minister.

The commissioner was appointed to a five-year term in 2004 and could presumably seek legal compensation if he's fired without cause. Will Harper fire Shapiro and should he as this threatens and weakens any future new ethics commissioner who knows that they too can be fired at the whim of the PM?

NEW UPDATE : CP further reports confirming previous concerns"The prime minister put him in a position that he can't resign now. You can quote me on that," Ed Broadbent said in an interview Wednesday. "It will look like he was hounded out of office and then it will make it difficult for anyone coming in to look like other than someone who is going to be totally acceptable to the prime minister."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Letter To The Editor - March 7, 2006 - From Jeannine Cherewick - Open Letter To Translink Board Re: Stupid Parking Tax

To the Translink board thinking this stupid tax will fly;

I live, shop and work in Langley, I do not use transit because although I am very close to Langley city, (I live a block away from the Langley airport in Murrayville,) there is little to no transit available out here! The schedule sucks and it takes longer to ride the bus from one side of Langley to the other than it would to ride my bicycle.

So being a mom of two young children and a busy self employed person; I drive everywhere and as mentioned; it’s not as though I have much choice in the matter.

And now I read in the newspaper that Translink is taxing parking lots in the GVRD (here in Langley)… for what? We do not get the transit service we pay so dearly for through taxes on our homes and gasoline and hydro bills but subsidize Vancouver city with that burdensome tax load. Now you’re penalizing the suburban business for accommodating the people who live out here and have to drive because you do not adequately service the area?!

There are more crude ways to put it but I’ll maintain my decorum; this is a wrong headed, utterly stupid, unfair, greedy, low down, slimy-used –car-salesman, sneaky, thieving, bottom-feeding-politician, weaseling, dim witted, ill thought out, inexplicably outrageous tax decision!

Most businesses out here in Langley pay a lot of money on mortgages or leases for the land and buildings they use, they pay higher fee’s for telephone, property taxes, hydro, Terasen, corporate taxes and on and on. Now you are saying they owe you more for the land they work so hard to pay for, develop, improve and maintain to attract customers (did you do anything to assist in that? I don’t think so!) so you can build RAV or give your selves a raise? I am angry, and believe that property tax is sufficient for the needs of Translink in the GVRD.

Tax the people who live in Vancouver who have regular, ready access to the transit services and don’t use them because they would rather drive their little SUV’s and BMW’s or smart cars than share a seat with a lower income rider. Penalize the people who make the choice to drive their cars rather than the businesses that rely on people such as myself. Because you know that the cost of your rapacious tax is going to kill small business and drive up the cost of product and therefore the cost of living for people like me and I’m just hanging on as it is. So in effect, you are taxing me yet again! (as if my property taxes weren’t burdensome enough!)

I know; why don’t I just send each Translink board member a bill for the privilege of raping my bank account? It will be an easy to read monthly bill, not too expensive and I’m a fair sort of person; so I’ll only charge a nominal percent of their paycheques. So I’ll be needing a breakdown of all their annual pay, including bonuses, and expense account allowances, travel allowances and clothing allowances and so on SO MY CALCULATIONS DON’T MISS ANYTHING… But don’t worry. My bill to each Translink board member will not exceed their ability to pay.

Scrap this idiotic, business killing, cash-cow-so-you-can-take-a better-vacation tax solution and grow a brain.

I am sending this letter along with a request to the Langley city hall that Langley leaves GVRD. You do so very little for us out here… you don’t deserve our support.


Jeannine Cherewick

PM Preparing To Dump Ethics Commissioner

CTV reports that Ed Broadbent confirms that the Conservatives discussed his replacing existing Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro who is anticipated to be fired by the Conservative Government. This comes on the heels of Shapiro's saying he would investigate whether Harper breached the parliamentary ethical code for MPs by appointing David Emerson to his cabinet two weeks after Emerson won his B.C. riding as Liberal. LFP predicts that the new Ethics Commissioner won't investigate PM Harper!

Translink Parking Tax Anger Aldergrove Elks

John Jackman, chairman of events for the Aldergrove Elks was quoted in the Globe and Mail as “upset and angry over stupid and idiotic things these bureaucrats do". Jackman recommends that politicians on the Translink board sit down and listen and said that $2,200 Translink parking tax bill for the Elks means 40 to 80 hours of volunteer work to raise that amount. The Globe labels the tax “idiotic”. Translink in reaction to the public outcry has reduced the tax by 20% as reported by CBC but still plans to go ahead with it. LFP says it is time for Minister Falcon and the Liberal Government to fire the Translink board and as an alternative consider replacing it with a publicly elected board. Hey everybody bet you can't wait until Langley Township Mayor and Council raise our taxes at least 5% a year too!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Vecchiato's Voice - March 6, 2006 - Township Passes The Buck

Township continues to pass the buck
Bylaw 2005 4470 is the formal name for the new Tree Protection Bylaw, which is part of the Subdivision and Development Control Bylaw 1994 No. 3335. That's why one could say it really isn't a by-law but a portion of a greater by-law. But a law is a law, right? This toughens up the unsuccessful "Tree Protection Policy dated October 2003, right?

Not quite. The original policy contained a clause regarding seasonal clearing, stating, "Site clearing, however, is not permitted between March to August as per the Provincial Wildlife Act and International Migratory Bird Convention Act. Clearing is only permitted from September to February Clearing outside of this period will require proof and documentation that no nesting activity is present and will require specific approval from the Ministry of Water, Land, and Air Protection/Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Often this will require the preparation of a raptor, heron, and passerine (songbird) survey to the acceptance of MOWLAP/DFO.

It was a great clause. Not exactly true, but great. The federal provincial laws don't disallow clearing, but Canadian Wildlife Service does ask that "due diligence" be shown. That means some sort of nesting bird assessment should be done. The tree Protection Policy, despite its lack of legal teeth, at least too habitat into consideration. This has been dropped from the new Bylaw 4470.

Is township passing the buck? I think so. This means that Canadian Wildlife Service or the Provincial Ministry of the Environment should be called by concerned residents when witnessing massive clearing between March and August. CWS can be reached at 604-252-6748 or the Provincial Ministry is 800-663-9453.

In fact, a new clause exists in the by-law stating:

22. In the event that any particular provision or part of a provision of this Bylaw is found to be invalid or unenforceable, it shall be severed and the validity of the remaining provisions shall not be affected.

Township may claim that it cannot enforce provincial and federal requirements, while other municipalities issue permits during this season, once it is proved that no active nests exists. Why can North Vancouver do this, but Langley can't? Is it based on political will?

Planning recently wrote to me outlining the directive" “'Whereas Council adopted a policy in 2002 on tree protection and replacement for development areas; Be it resolved that Council request staff to incorporate the Tree Protection and Replacement Policy as part of the Subdivision and Development Control Bylaw'...This was clearly identified in the staff report that staff had provided to you and others upon request. The existing policy was not modified to any great extent by staff other than to make it best fit within the context and framework of the Subdivision and Development Control Bylaw (i.e. it will be put in effect in a slightly different manner, but the principles remain the same). In other words, the direction of Council to staff was not to draft a “stand alone bylaw”, nor was it to “expand the terms of tree protection”, so it would be inappropriate for staff to make such significant modifications.

What I find disturbing is that all of the candidates for mayor and council said yes to a tree bylaw, except three successful candidates. That leaves six on council who would be in favor of one, and if I am not mistaken, six is greater than three. So what is the avoidance and why does it seem that one person is calling the shots?

Unlike North Van, Township continues to pass the buck, saying that "each of the points you mention ... are covered by other federal or provincial statutes..." So protecting species at such a critical time is not their job. So where is our environmental integrity?

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