Friday, April 18, 2014

Arsehole Neighbour

There are good neighbours.
And the other kind.

Here's "ours", burning on Good Friday (today), a holiday, when people are out on the golf course.

Directly downwind of neighbour's burn is a foursome at #6 Teebox.

The entire top half of the golf course is affected by the smoke.  

Reminds me of a certain men's night back in 2008 when the same neighbour--at 7:30 pm when all golfers were inside the clubhouse for prizes--had another open burn, albeit kinda late in the day (burn piles aren't allowed to be re-lit after 4 p.m.)


Turns out the fire marshall happened to be here that men's night.
He took some nice photos with his camera too.

Everyone was evacuated outside when smoke entered the clubhouse.

"Once an arsehole, always an arsehole," summarizes Kia.

The Fire Marshall said there's no law against stupidity.
Or damaging one's own reputation with 75 people!

$70 Million Referendum

"I don't know if the electorate is going to pass this one," Coldstream mayor Jim Garlick is quoted in today's Morning Star.

Subtle hint of how Garlick would like it to go?

Voters should wake up and realize that no peer review has been conducted.
Or is likely to be, based on Greater Vernon Advisory Committee members' votes. 
Councillor Kiss' request for a peer review was recently denied by directors (April 9th story here).
And March 8th story here.

At issue is Interior Health Authority's demand that Duteau Creek (June 17th, 2013 story here) water treatment plant--which currently chlorinates water, almost all of which goes onto crops and fields--now also filter the water which goes onto crops and fields.

Anybody have a crystal ball?
Filter that water?
We don't even want to chlorinate it! 
But chlorinate it we do.

Where are the studies that show we should not irrigate with chlorinated water?

Where are the professors from universities, waving 200-page reports of the damage that will occur if we do?
Surely such studies exist.
Well, here's one:  Inactivation of Microbes by Chlorine.
It has news regarding disinfection, and that is a good thing.

But how about membrane damage?
Humans have membranes, so is that welcome news?
Certainly not.
Someone must be able to forecast over the long term the environmental damage to soil organisms and the water table from chlorinated water used for irrigation?
What does chlorinated water do to mycorrhizae?  
How about the long term damage to people's health, as they eat fruits and vegetables from their orchards and gardens irrigated with chlorinated water.

The only way that the Interior Health Authority's demand to filter water at Duteau Creek--and the fact that chlorination of that water has already been forced on residents--is to see November's water referendum fail.

Fail miserably.

"The referendum should be on diluting the IHA's powers," attests Kia.

Especially since they're not bringing a penny to the table.

Oh...and Kia won't even drink the chlorinated water ... until it has sat for several hours, dissolving its poison into the air.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ahhhhh, Spring

...and the smell of biosolids is in the air.

With an artful combination of gin/tonic and old outhouse smells emanating from the field application across the street, golfers are welcomed to Highlands Golf .  "It's downright awful," said a lady yesterday.

Whew!...wonder if the operator is wearing a respirator *gasp*

Maybe they'll be done soon.
Hope it doesn't rain on that slurry...

It's spring.

Time to open up the palms...yup, palm trees, here.

Carpenter Hughie removes the heated palm hut from the Trachycarpus fortunei...on St. Patrick's Day.

The Trachy came through winter unscathed...and why not:  it had electric heat!
Then the planting of the Canary Island Date Palm at the clubhouse patio:


A couple of little palms were planted.  At left is a Sabal; to the right of the mattock tool is a Chamaerops humilis.


...and Hughie admiring the flowering Jade Tree (almost 40 years old...the tree, not Hughie!) 
The Yucca rostrata "Sappire Skies" came through winter, unheated, but with a plastic cover to keep them dry, and are already growing.


Two Washingtonia filifera palms (just being unwrapped).  They did fine, albeit with a bit of fungus damage, which will be pruned off.


The little Brahea armata did well over winter, with only a plastic (vapour barrier) cover and C-9 Christmas lights for heat, on a T-3 thermocube.  The Brahea has grown a couple of inches since the photo was taken.


Inside the house this winter, the Bird of Paradise shot up a lovely flower:


And the Cymbidium orchid was lovely.


Both of the above are now enjoying the outdoors at the clubhouse patio.

And here's Kia, waking up from those long winter naps...ready to greet golfers:


"Yawn, OK let's get going," says Kia, refreshed.

Yippeeeee, spring.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kiss Denied Water Plan Review

Councillor Kiss asked for a review of the $70 million Master Water Plan after he had been given "permission" to meet privately with water consultants.

Well, that's been quashed by a majority vote of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee members.

The Morning Star reported Kiss' comment:  "We owe it to our customers to look at the master water plan again so what we're getting for our $70 million is what the community wants."

He's concerned that full separation of agricultural (from domestic) customers won't occur...a very expensive proposition. 

But the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee members seem to like the idea of putting chlorinated--and soon, filtered--water on crops and golf courses.

Mike Macnabb, a director, condones the current plan: "We have no idea of what future regulations will be.  It could be that water on orchards must be treated," he said.

Interesting proposition, folks.

I know of which I speak:  Many people will recall we had an orchard here for many years, ~1,100 apple trees that we planted, sold commercially to wholesalers via our own packinghouse, with the culled apples from the packing line going into our juiceplant, then into stainless steel refrigerated tanks for farmgate sales.

So it's with considerable cynicism I react to "future regulations for treated water on orchards".

To be very blunt, we could NEVER pick an apple up from the ground for our juicing operation.  Why?  Well, for those people with a strong stomach, here's why:  pickers and pruners routinely--I'll use two  indelicate words--shit and pissed--right where they were working.  No matter there was a port-a-potty fifty feet away.  Nope.  Didn't matter.

Yup.  shit and pissed. 
At pruning season late winter.
During picking season in September. 

But the Advisory Committee thinks it's a good idea to put chlorinated irrigation water on an orchard--and soon, filtered water--on that orchard, because it's safer.

Here's another story.
From a contractor who was hired to do some land levelling work with his bobcat in an orchard not too far from here.  The contractor recalled to me personally that he hadn't done more than a 50-foot swath of levelling when he noticed "a strange looking pile" ahead.  Worried it might include an irrigation hose bib, he got off the bobcat and walked forward.

He said he almost threw up when he had poked around with the toe of his boot.

There, barely an inch buried in the heap, were bones--animal bones (likely a goat or calf)--and flimsy paper blew in the wind.  After withdrawing his boot, he realized he was standing on a pile of human--yes human--excrement.  "The stench was overpowering; I gagged till I couldn't breath any more," he said.

He cleaned his boots in the grass as well as he could.
And drove down the driveway, never to return.
He did not reply to the landowner's phone calls that night.

Another fine orchard environment, where Advisory Committee Members are so concerned about health that they want to have the orchard irrigate with not only chlorinated water, but soon also filtered water.

"The orchard pickers and pruners can wipe with clean water when they're done," offers Kia.

How nice.
If they wipe at all.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Buck Them, Buckerfields!

We'll say it right up front.

Kudos to Buckerfields CEO Kelvin McCulloch for thoroughly examining the province's new MMBC Recycling program.

And then having the courage of his conviction to make his decision.
And write this letter to the editor:

"A few months back, I received a notification which advised me that I had to declare whether Buckerfields was a producer of printed paper or packaging material. 

If so, we would have to implement an approved stewardship plan to deal with the material.  Otherwise we would have to jooin another stewardship plan and pay fees to that planholder.  I thought it was a scam.  But I looked into it further and determined there was indeed regulatory provisions in effect which stated this very thing, and according to the regulations, Buckerfields is now a producer of printed paper and packaging material, with the best example being our Buckerfields feed bags.

I then discussed the alternatives with a Ministry of Environment official and came to realize that we had no choice but to join the only approved stewardship plan in the province, Multi Material BC (MMBC).

We signed the MMBC contract.  But we also read it.  And it stated that MMBC had to file audited financial statements on its website.  I recently went to the website and there are no audited financial statements.

Now, several months later, I have discovered the following:

  • MMBC is a corporation under the Societies Act comprised of three directors, two of which live in Ontario.  None of the directors have public sector credentials.  All of the directors represent large corporate interests. 
  • (see Addendum below*)
  • MMBC is not accountable to any government agency, appointed official, elected official or any other government body other than the Registrar of Companies under the Societies Act.
  • MMBC is not governed by the province's Financial Administration Act which sets out the rules for the administration of all public money.
"...I have to spend my time trying to
 revive democratic processes retroactively.
 I find it appalling."
  • None of the money collected by MMBC, including the fees Buckerfields is supposed to pay, go to the public accounts of the province or any other government organization.
  • MMBC is not subject to oversight by the auditor general of B.C.
  • Under MMBC's stewardship plan, as approved by the provincial government, MMBC has the authority to charge companies like Buckerfields unlimited fees based on whatever MMBC spends, regardless of what the actuall costs are to recycle our feed bags and regardless of the fact that we already pay municipal taxes in all eight of our locations.
  • MMBC has the authority to come into any municipality in the province and offer financial incentives to the locally elected government to do what MMBC wants in the area of waste collection and recycling; if the locally elected government refuses, MMBC has the authority to do what it wants anyway.
"...we ain't paying a dime to MMBC,
 and neither should anyone else."
  • The municipal governments of the province do not know the background of MMBC and don't yet realize the fees that MMBC is charging to Buckerfields and all the other companies amounts to double taxation.
  • The municipal governments are going to have to give up that tax base they have for waste collection and recycling because the shift to producers paying directly for waste collection and recycling eliminates the need and justification for consumers, i.e. property taxpayers to pay for these services through the municipalities.
  • The provincial government did not consult with the municipal governments or the public, but companies like Buckerfields are pointing it out because until it is resolved, we are being taxed twice for the same service and residential taxpayers (including me) are being taxed for something that someone else is actually paying for.
  • Taxpayers and municipal governments were not consulted as to whether they really want to shift the financing and control of municipal waste and recycling services out of the municipal jurisdiction, that is, the jurisdiction of democratically elected municipal officials into the hands of a corporation under the Societies Act that is accountable to no one and is outside the jurisdiction of the provincial auditor general.
  • Taxpayers and voters are unaware that the fees being charged by MMBC are so onerous that they will cause newspaper closures and job losses of 300 to 500 in the newspaper industry in B.C., even though recycled newsprint is very valuable.   
In finding all of this out, I lament the fact that none of this was introduced into the Legislature for proper debate because it means that instead of spending my days managing the sale of chicks and garden supplies at Buckerfields, I have to spend my time trying to revive democratic processes retroactively.  I find it appalling.

My position as of the time of this writing is this...we ain't paying a dime to MMBC, and neither should anyone else, not until:
  • The provincial government reconciles what it is doing with the municipal governments and municipal taxpayers so taxpayers don't have to pay twice.
  • The provincial government takes back the legislation which calls us producers and blames us for the choices made by manufacturers and indeed consumers that are completely outside of our control.
  • Any money charged under the auspices of the recycling regulation are included in the public accounts of the province and subject to the provisions of the Financial Administration Act and the Auditor General Act.
  • Whatever is going to be done is introduced into the legislative assembly in the form of a bill so that the proper public debate can occur.
  • Insofar as MMBC has not filed its audited financial statements since inception, and the period of time not reported spans more than two years, and insofar as MMBC is actually a taxing and funding agency, there be an independent public enquiry into the financial operations, sources and uses of funds, contractual procedures and expenditures of MMBC.
No, Buckerfields is not paying a dime until this cash and power grab is unraveled and revealed for what it is.

One final word.  Ninety-six percent of all printed paper and packaging material is already being picked up or deposited into municipality financed facilities.  Despite what MMBC is saying, at least 53 per cent of that is already being recycled and it is very likely that that number was seriously understated to give the government a reason for its MMBC cash and power grab.

In reality, there is no basis for setting up a recycling dictatorship and charging punitive fees to companies like Buckerfields at all.  Recycling is a booming business with rapidly increasing prices of marketable commodities.  Could that be why the board of MMBC is all big business and outside the jurisdiction ofo the auditor general?

We don't have to change a thing to see recycling take off in B.C., in the hands of our elected muncipal officials.  We need to send the MMBC regime to the recycle bin."
       Kelvin McCulloch, CEO, Buckerfields

This blog writer knew something stank to high heaven when the MMBC program first announced it was giving a million bucks to each of 18 regional districts in B.C. (February story here).

Thank you for your letter, Kelvin McCulloch.

"Two things," offers Kia.  "MMBC is funded by the Mafia...and Kelvin McCulloch is more qualified than Christy Clark to be BC Premier."

As usual, you're correct, Kia...on both.

The "large corporate interests" Mr. McCulloch referred to are:
John Coyne, Chair, Unilever Canada;
Denis Brisebois, Treasurer, Metro;
Christine Bome, Walmart,
Scott Bonikowsky, Tim Hortons Inc.;
Robert Chant, Loblaw Companies Limited;
Dave Moran, Coca Cola Refreshments Canada;
Gord Meyer, Procter & Gamble.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Disappearing Concrete Picnic Tables

Definitely an enigma.

Even the owner of Leko Precast, the manufacturer of the two concrete picnic tables at Highlands Golf, is puzzled by what's happening.  The tables have been on Highlands patio since delivery by the company in mid-2001.

"We're breaking up, we're breaking up" Shakespeare scrapper reminds us.
Not funny.

Back in 2004 or 2005 when the Leko Precast owner was golfing here, I showed him the rough/porous surface of the picnic tables (the damaged two corners were just beginning to crumble then).  He said "oh yes, we had always planned to come back and refinish these...", obviously forgetting until I called again several years later.

After several more complaints, he suggested to me that a golfer may have hit the corners of both tables with a golf club.  I told him I doubted that, as the patio is 100% visible to me at the front desk at all times.  And even IF someone had hit it with a golf club, why would the concrete be crumbling FROM THE INSIDE?

So, then in 2012 (I think), the owner of Leko Precast sent his man out to sand the top of a very rough table, after which he applied a concrete sealant.  He said he would leave the bucket of sealant for my staff to do the other table.  So we did.

Now it's spring 2014 and the photos above were taken last week.
Nothing seems to stop the disintegration--from inside.

The sealant we applied left a bright shiny hard film over the surface.
But again, the bright shiny hard film has cracked and fallen, revealing further disintegration and powdery rocks showing, all of which continue to crumble.

the Concrete Sealant

Leko Precast indicated their concrete picnic tables are located in government campsites and parks, and that "this has never occurred on any of those". 

Yeah, well, it has.
To the two concrete picnic tables at Highlands Golf.

Photos 2 and 3 (in the set of four above) clearly show the smooth hard sealant, but the little stones inside are surrounded by "powder" and that continues to crumble, year after year.

It's an enigma for sure.

"Shoddy construction is what I call it," says Kia.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Delivering the Online World?

...if you don't mind a long wait.

Good ole' Canada Post.

Back in September, Canada Post was redefining its focus in a declining market, or so they say.

"...the Crown corporation warned it could run out of money by this time next year, unless it can find relief through “additional financing” from the federal government or from payments on its pension deficit."

So Canada Post is reducing home service and focusing exclusively on delivering online purchases, a new and lucrative market.

That is, IF they can satisfy customers.
Tall order.

Imagine my surprise when a business parcel from DeKalb, Illinois arrived at Highlands Golf a full two weeks and two days after it was shipped from Illinois and subsequently cleared at Canadian customs. 

Sixteen days to travel three-quarters of the way across Canada via Canada Post!

Probably because it was an international shipment, you say?

That same day I received a business parcel from Mississauga, Ontario.

Two full weeks for that parcel too via Canada Post.

See Perennial Mismanagement at Canada Post story, January 3/14.

The United States Postal Service offers delivery between one and three days among major U.S. cities.

Canada Post delivering the online world?

"The problem is more than a slow modem," offers Kia.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

How to Screw up a Liquor Policy Review

First, have the government of B.C. conduct the review.

Then invite lobbyists and many, many "stakeholders", including people who have absolutely no comprehension (the general public) or previous involvement as either a vendor/licensee or the licensing agency.

Then forget the desired result of the review:  to make liquor purchases available in grocery stores to more conveniently suit the buying public, as in the United States and many travel locations throughout the know....places whose tourists we covet.

Yup, that'll do it.

Only in British Columbia would the result of a liquor policy review end up with no semblance of the desired outcome.

Seems that Parliamentary Secretary John Yap has joined the Ineptocracy crew, judging from the recommendations, which will become policy for the British Columbia Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.

"Ineptocracy...a system of government where the least capable to lead
are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society
least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services
paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers."

So, how's that grocery store thingy working out?
Will you be able to pick up a six-pack along with milk and butter on the way home from work?
Will the tourist from Washington state--arriving in a 53-foot RV--be able to pick up liquor when stopping for groceries or gas?

Hell, no.
He won't even be able to find the Tourism Booth in Vernon.

While the Vancouver Sun newspaper went all "ga ga" over government's planned liquor modernization in its story, the fact remains that you will NOT be able to place milk, butter and a six-pack into your grocery buggy and pay at the cashier.

Not at one cashier anyway.

You will be able to place the milk, butter and six-pack of beer into your grocery buggy.
But only in a few stores here and there.  
Maybe only one store in your city! 
Or maybe a grocery store in an adjacent community.
Because that grocery store had to buy a liquor license from an existing licensee as no new licenses were being issued AND the store could NOT be within 1,000 feet of an existing liquor licensee.  Since most grocery stores and liquor stores are located in malls, often adjacent to one another, that eliminates most grocery stores.
Gas stations?  Nope, won't happen there either, so scratch that off the wish list.

So in one of the rare grocery stores where a liquor licensee is NOT within the 1,000 foot range of sin, you're directed to a separate till to pay for the six-pack of beer.  Likely via a roped off "cattle row" so you can't, absentmindedly of course, head through the exit doors without paying for the six-pack.
Oughta make for some interesting store front-end gyrations.

Back to the RV-tourist from Washington state.
He's disappointed he can't pick up a six-pack at the gas station, so he heads over to the local grocery store.  Repeat the milk, butter and six-pack of beer in the grocery buggy scenario.

Can you just imagine a tourist's comments when he's directed to a separate cashier to pay for the six-pack of beer?  Can you imagine his outrage at the waste of time, can you imagine his disgust at two transaction fees on his debit or VISA card?

It's bloody laughable actually.

This is BC's modernization of liquor laws to welcome tourists into a province hungry for them?

Is this the best that government can come up with?
Seems so.
We'll once again be the laughing stock of the rest of Canada, indeed many nationalities around the world.

Here's the 60-page Final Report.

A list of stakeholder meetings held last Fall, as well as other involved groups is here.

No small grocery stores can expect to add to their customer stream by offering products the public wants.  No gas stations will sell beer and wine.  Only the biggest--like Costco and Superstore--will continue to erode competitors' share of the pie.

"The biggest guys win again," avows Kia.

Sounds familiar.

Let's hope Suzanne Anton, Attorney General, sees the flaws of this Liquor Policy Review.

Prepare to see tail lights heading out of town.
They're American and European tourists.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Salary Too High for Economic Development Manager

That's gotta be it.
He must earn too much money as a bureaucrat.

Vernon's ECM, Kevin Poole, stated in The Morning Star today--of MoneySense magazine's Vernon rating at 125 of 201 communities--"They are putting a lot of weight on the average income.  If that's how you establish quality of life, we'll never compete."

Ya think?

For many people, it's tough slogging to appreciate the nearby lakes and ski hills when there's simply nothing left for discretionary spending, and bill payments are frequently late.  When they worry about how much property taxes--or the hydro bill--will increase this year.  When their adult children worry about job security in a town where For Lease and For Rent and For Sale signs outnumber welcome signs from new business.

The full ranking is here.

Vernon's unemployment rate is given at 9.2 per cent, and most of the winning communities are oil and gas communities in Alberta:  St. Albert, first place; Calgary, second; and Strathcona, Alberta, at third place.

The average household income in Vernon is $70,229, a far cry from St. Albert's $128,270.
Discretionary income in Vernon is $35,054.90.  Compare that to St. Albert's at $64,865.86.

"How they select the items for quality of life is beyond me," moans Poole.
Yet he does feel there's sufficient disparity that Vernon needs a renewed focus on economic development.

Yup, it sure is beyond him.
And his salary--as a Vernon bureaucrat--is no doubt beyond that of the vast majority of Vernon's residents.

"It's an interesting analysis but I don't put a lot of emphasis on it," states Poole.

"Of course not," says Kia, "that would be akin to a performance review."

So, we'll never compete, according to Poole.

"Hate bureaucracy, and the bureaucrats that practise it."
Jack Welch, former Chairman, GM  


Misguided Pauline Marois

It just never goes away.
Quebec's "separatism".

But some interesting stuff has surfaced that perhaps the Quebec premier should consider.

From the internet, author unknown:

"If Quebec should decide to hold a referendum and the Quebecois vote for leaving Canada, the fun starts.

   1. Aboriginals will refuse to give up their traditional territory.
   2. The St. Lawrence Seaway is jointly owned by Canada and the United States; Quebec has no claim to the lands set aside for the Seaway.
   3. Montreal is an island in the St. Lawrence and may not be part of a new Quebec.
   4. All federal facilities (and English speaking employees) in Quebec would have to relocate.
   5. Air Canada could not continue maintenance operations in a foreign nation.
   6. The Port of Montreal would wither as Canadian companies would have to find an Canadian location for imports and exports.
   7. Airlines would cease landing in Quebec until they could negotiate landing rights with the new nation.
   8. The Canada Space Agency could move from Saint-Hubert to Calgary.
   9. Federally licensed financial institutions (all banks, for example) could no longer operate in Quebec.
   10. Bilingual courts and a bilingual federal civil service would be history.
   11. The Official Languages Act would be history.
   12. Thousands of translators we now pay for would be out of work.
   13. We would have 78 fewer Members of Parliament to pay for.
   14. We would have 24 fewer Senators to pay for.
   15. The NDP would lose 57 seats including Mulcair’s;
   16. The Liberals would lose 8 seats including Trudeau’s.
   17. The Conservative party’s majority would increase from 52% to 67%.
   18. We would save about $20 billion annually in federal transfer payments - which could be used to pay down the federal debt.
   19. We could save another $543 million in funds currently earmarked for bridges over the St. Lawrence and in and out of Montreal.
   20. We would no longer support Bombardier.
   21. All military aircraft work contracted by Canada would have to leave Quebec.
   22. Goodbye to the CBC French language networks.     
   23. No more French language in the rest of Canada.
   24.  No more bilingual printing on consumer items thereby lowering the cost.
   25. No more French Immersion Schools.  Big saving!"

"Misguided?  Sounds insane," offers Kia of the prospect of Quebec leaving Canada.

Canada...from sea to (almost) sea.

Then this letter to "Queen Pauline":

An Open Letter to Queen Pauline

By Robbie Manis, March 5th, 2014
Congratulations on your recent release of the 2014 budget and your strong showing in the ongoing voter intention polls. It is truly refreshing to see some new ideas and vitality being brought to bear on the Quebecois nation. Having invested sufficient due diligence, I have gained some understanding of the Parti Quebecois platform and recognize that the party is a strong proponent of separation from Canada. As a fifth generation Quebecer, I too look forward to being liberated from the longstanding oppression wrought upon our nation by those meddlesome Canadians. However, while I understand the separatist dogma in concept, I must admit that my knowledge regarding the specifics of the plan are somewhat deficient. As such, I am curious to understand specifically how Quebecois society will operate following the unilateral declaration of independence (“UDI”).
Accordingly, I have set forth below some questions regarding issues that may have a measure of importance to the surviving population of Quebec. So I humbly ask that you shed some light on some or all of the following trifling details.
Given that Quebec’s population represents 23% of the population of Canada, I naively assume that Quebec will assume 23% of the federal debt upon its exit from Canada. When such assumed debt is added to Quebec’s existing debt load (which I understand to be substantial), can you please tell me what the combined debt per capita will be and how this figure compares to those of Greece, Sudan and Sierra Leone?
Like any child leaving the nurturing environment of the family nest, the obvious question is how will they survive on their own without the regular financial transfusions provided by their parents. Along these lines, how will liberated Quebec fill the financial void when the transfer payments formerly provided by Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario are truncated immediately upon the UDI?
Following the UDI, I imagine that those elements intended to feel marginalized by the separation will, unsurprisingly, feel marginalized. A reasonable portion will presumably take the logical step and return to Canada proper. We all recognize that these emigrants will be the wealthier, better educated and upwardly mobile members of Quebec society. And, to be clear, to such value creators I say good riddance and take your economic clout with you. But in quiet moments I do wonder how liberated Quebec will replace the substantial tax base moving west? Will you simply create a new 90% tax bracket for the very, very few remaining high income earners and do you think such a tax rate will be viewed as excessive?
Without providing an exact number, it is a fact that there are a large number of federal government employees employed within Quebec. Once Quebec sheds the noose of confederation, I have to assume that the positions occupied by such federal government employees will become superfluous. So I ask, what is Quebec’s plan to provide financial assistance to the boatload of additional unemployed? Has this additional cost to society been accounted for and provided for in your economic projections?
The PQ’s existing tax policy is to create a punishing tax regime for the entrepreneurs, doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, architects and other undesirables who take advantage of society and in so doing earn disproportionate annual incomes. Have you considered how Quebecois society will cope if many such professionals bolt for greener pastures? Do we care if our existing doctor shortage becomes far more pronounced or are we better off evicting the bourgeoisie?
I was born in Canada and have only ever lived in Canada. Having said that, is my Canadian citizenship misappropriated following UDI?
Following UDI, I have to imagine that Quebec will have to adopt its own currency. I cannot imagine that it would be able to unilaterally decide to use the currency of a foreign country (such as Canada) as its own. In any event, how can Quebec use Canadian currency as its base when it has no ability to influence the fiscal policies underlying such currency? I do not doubt that you have a well thought out plan dealing with basic fiscal policy. For my own education, can you kindly share some elements of this plan in layman’s terms?
What exactly happens to my Canadian passport following UDI? Can I no longer travel outside the Quebec boundaries given that I am now a resident of a country with no passport regime?
What do the many companies operating in Quebec do with the processing of weekly payroll? To whom are taxes paid? Do we simply pay the Quebec portion and reap a massive windfall by no longer remitting any deductions at source whatsoever to Canada? That would be a surprising but welcome result as we can really use the additional disposable income.
A sophisticated investor such as yourself surely understands that the financial markets have little tolerance or appetite for uncertainty. As such, Quebec bonds and debts will immediately see a significant risk premium included in the borrowing rates following UDI. The rising cost of borrowing will make interest on accumulated debts an even greater burden to be borne within the annual Quebec budget. What steps are planned to deal with this sizable increase in budgetary requirements? Surely this question has come up in previous caucus meetings.
Are the bank and brokerage accounts held by Quebecers in Canada simply lost as some form of collateral damage following UDI ? How do the TD Banks and Royal Banks of the world repatriate these now non-resident accounts?
With enhanced anti-immigrant policies, continued diminishing birth rates and the encouraged emigration of upwardly mobile anglophones and francophones, what is the revised actuarial estimate of the bankruptcy date for the Quebec pension plan? Will you simply increase the allowable retirement age to 93 and hope that everyone dies before receiving any annuity from the government plan?
Obviously many of the current programs that survive on the basis of large-scale redistribution of wealth will have to be curtailed. How will Quebec wind-down the existing $7-$8 per day daycare, the exaggerated parental leave initiatives and other corporate welfare programs?
With the termination of all federal contributions to infrastructure, how will liberated Quebec fund the emergency restoration of its crumbling roads, bridges and networks? Will you simply add another 50 cents per litre of gas tax? Surely such a tax increase can be sold to the public when cloaked within purported environmental concerns.
What is the cost of establishing border protection systems and regimes for liberated Quebec? Moreover, what about the cost of a Quebec military presence? I understand that defense can represent a meaningful chunk of the annual budget of a sovereign state. How many Quebecois pesos have been budgeted for these initiative?
Needless to say, I have other questions but the foregoing represents a reasonable initial list of concerns that we should at least gloss over in anticipation of the third referendum within the best of 7 series. I am sorry to burden you with these minor issues when instead you would clearly prefer to focus on the parade that will follow UDI. But at some level there are likely a few Quebecers other than myself that have wondered how the liberation of Quebec might affect the daily workings of our fragile society.
I would appreciate some answers to these questions and I imagine that after 35 years of separatist threats and promises, you have likely given each question at least a few minutes of concentrated thought.
I thank you for your attention to this matter and am confident that we can work together to better understand the future of our Quebecois nation.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Advisory Committee Veil Lifts Ever So Slightly?

Yippeeee, some transparency!

Our local newspaper, The Morning Star, has seldom--if ever--reported on Greater Vernon Advisory Committee meetings, held at the Regional District. 

The extent to which the area's print media covers the Regional District's monthly meetings remains limited to media releases.

That can be excused, to some degree, as media staffing levels simply do not allow coverage of this area's myriad administrations (think:  amalgamation push).  It could be argued that GVAC meetings are more important than individual Coldstream--or Vernon city--council meetings.

But that's obviously not a decision to be made by taxpayers.

There's never an idea how our rep--or any other community's, for that matter--voted on the advisory committee's topics, and only a glancing blow even refers to the topic--most often just by title followed by a brief phrase--in the community's regular council meeting minutes.

Historically that's led to a few surprises--chiefly among the public--at city and district council meetings, considering that reps from the North Okanagan's communities vote on issues that affect us all.  But only the public is surprised; councillors aren't, as many items are discussed in-camera.
Probably more than should be.

While the voting veil remains made of steel, we do now have more transparency on GVAC topics.  Proof is found in Coldstream's minutes of the February 11, 2014 council meeting.

To commemorate the District of Coldstream's willingness to Let It Be Known, the pertinent GVAC section is reprinted here from Coldstream's minutes: 



Regional District of North Okanagan

Councillor Dirk reported that at the recent meeting of the Regional District of North Okanagan Board the following items were discussed:
         the City of West Kelowna had won a legal challenge to their waterfront zoning bylaw and were awarded costs
         results of the recent Landfill Customer Satisfaction Survey had been received and comments were largely positive
         the Alternate Approval Process was underway for the re-establishment of the Starling Control function 


Greater Vernon Advisory Committee

Councillor Kiss reported that at the recent meeting of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee the following items were discussed:
         early budget approval was granted for a PRV 1 Pump Station 30 - separation of controls
         approval was given to apply to OBWB for 2014 Water Conservation and Quality Improvement grants for the Water Ambassador Summer Program, the Water Sustainability Educational Program, the North Kalamalka Lake Intact Protection Zone Storm Water Reclamation Project and Water Quality Monitoring in Cosens Bay
         the MWP Phase 1 Funding approval to borrow was approved to be conducted by referendum during the 2014 Local General Elections
         Various Arts, Youth and Cultural organizations were granted funding for programs/projects
         Juliette Cunningham was appointed to the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Board

Councillor Kiss also noted that he had put forward a "Notice of Motion" to request a peer review of the Master Water Plan. "

Strange that the most important sentence was left for last.
But at least it's there!

The peer review of the Master Water Plan will garner considerable interest among residents.  Good for councillor Kiss for putting the motion forward.
Now to find some peers...

Well, folks, isn't the RDNO/GVAC portion enlightening? 
I think it is.
Very much so.

Alas, seemingly to prove silly season is not dead, this also from Coldstream's February 11th minutes:

"Vernon Law Days / 100th Anniversary of Vernon Courthouse
Council considered a request from the Vernon Bar Association to provide acknowledgement of the 100th Anniversary of the Vernon Courthouse during Law Week in early April as well as a financial contribution to assist with the serving of refreshments at the Vernon Courthouse Open House of Law day 2014....
THAT a grant to the Vernon Bar Association, in the amount of $200, be approved to assist with the serving of refreshments on Law Day during the Vernon Court House Open House;

AND THAT Councillor Enns attend the event to represent the District of Coldstream."
(all but one Councillor voted for it).

"Two hundred bucks of taxpayer money?"
"To serve refreshments to Law Week attendees?" stutters Kia incredulously.

Advise lawyer Enns that he should take his own wine..and pay a corkage fee.