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Photo courtesy of Cariboo Regional District

Photo courtesy of Cariboo Regional District

The announcement about the inquiry into the Mount Polley Dam disaster is outrageous!

As a matter of fact I find it hard to write this article because I simply can’t believe the dishonesty of the minister Bill Bennett and the minister Mary Pollock.

By careful but not very clever design, this inquiry from the outset exonerates Mr. Bennett’s and Ms. Pollock’s ministries. When you look through the 14 recommendations there is one that faintly suggests that the commissioners might want to look at the regulatory regime surrounding this disaster. There is no mandate to do so and it is not any more than a casual comment. Moreover, None of the commissioners have any expertise to look at this aspect of the matter. Continue Reading »

Enbridge is a major Walrus sponsor. Photo by Damien Gillis.

Enbridge is a major Walrus sponsor. Photo by Damien Gillis.

I am afraid I really am a gloomy Gus today. It has just struck me that there is an absence of good guys in the world. Whether it’s big business or government they mostly do it to us and reek of self interest.

We don’t seem to have anybody we can trust anymore. There was a time when, while you couldn’t trust the newspapers, you would be able to find within the paper columnists that weren’t bought and paid for. They consistently gave you points of view that challenged you and made you think. Thank God for online papers like commonsensecanadian.ca and thetyee.ca and for all of the renegades who put so much time and effort into blogging.

Whether on-line papers and bloggers have yet achieved the kind of circulation that will really move public opinion I don’t know but  they are a ray of light in an otherwise bleak picture. Read full story at The Common Sense Canadian

Mining Minister Bennett: Quitting would send a message about government integrity.

Mining Minister Bennett: Quitting would send a message about government integrity.

Tradition decrees he take ‘ministerial responsibility’ for Mount Polley mess on his watch.

By well-established precedent, Bill Bennett right about now should be typing his letter of resignation to Premier Clark.

Extreme? Not at all. Here’s a bit of history that, trust me, speaks directly to the mining minister’s duty after the catastrophic breach of the tailings pond at Mount Polley mine.

Just after the the Second World War, the British agricultural minister resigned. During the war, the Royal Air Force had expropriated a lot of farmland for airfields. After the war, this land was resold by the ministry to bidders. A lot of hanky-panky and plain unfairness came with the sales and it became a scandal. Read full article at The Tyee

Old CKNW logoI see that radio station CKNW is making some dramatic changes to its programming.

Let me declare my interest. I worked for NW as a broadcaster for 19 years and I am very proud of the association. I still consider myself part of that CKNW that I always knew.

I was very badly treated by Corus who bought out NW but that has left no bitterness whatsoever. I mean that sincerely.

Corus never was CKNW in my mind.

CKNW started when I was a boy. We all listened to the station as we grew up and as we got into our 20′s and 30′s. It was where we learned about our community and the world in general. We listened to our music there. Continue Reading »

Will Rory roar?

Rory McIlroy. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images.

Rory McIlroy. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images.

The King is dead – Long live the king!

To kill Tiger Woods off may be premature as it may be to crown Rory McElroy as the new king. That, however, is what the golf jocks are determined to do and, after all, drumming up the excitement that follows this theory is what being a jock is all about. As they used to say, when it mattered, that’s what sells newspapers.

Tiger Woods is 38 years of age – Rory McElroy is only 25. One may have to have some things left to prove – the other certainly has.

I have followed the game of golf almost as a religion since I was a child. I played very low handicap in golf in my younger days and have always had the game deeply embedded in my soul. I have been privileged to play many of the great British courses that reek of history. I have watched almost all the great ones come and go and have read voraciously on the subject. In fact, golf, like baseball and cricket, is rather a culture than merely a game. It has developed about it a literature of its own and the very best writers in our language have tackled it. Continue Reading »

Hugh Falkus

Hugh Falkus

“The Puritan hates bearbaiting not so much for the pain it gives the bear but the pleasure it gives the spectator” – Macaulay.

I find as I trip through life that my attitude towards a lot of things has changed dramatically. So it is with animals.

I grew up in a pretty ordinary family. My father did a little bit of hunting and some fishing and my grandfather was a very keen bird hunter. I used to accompany the latter when he went bird shooting and had a wonderful time watching his Springer spaniel retrieve the birds. The atmosphere seemed so wholesome.

When I was about 13, my father gave me a .22 rifle. One day on Gambier Island I shot a squirrel. When I saw him lying on on his back, balls up, I remember a feeling of horror and asking myself, “why did you do that?” I hadn’t yet learned because I shot some birds after that, mainly because I thought it was the manly thing to do. It wasn’t long before I felt the same sort of sympathy for a dead robin or dead crow as I did for that squirrel. I simply gave up shooting animals. Continue Reading »

Tailings from Mount Polley tailings pond breach flow into nearby waterways. Source: Cariboo Regional District.

Tailings from Mount Polley tailings pond breach flow into nearby waterways. Source: Cariboo Regional District.

Documents show government aware of dam safety concerns, including tailings ponds.

An important article in The Tyee by David P. Ball:

B.C.’s minister of energy and mines has vowed to get to the bottom of the Mount Polley mine disaster, but insisted that provincial mine inspections are “as frequent today as they were five years ago.” They may be, but they are about half as frequent compared to before the BC Liberal government came into power in 2001 and reduced the rate of such inspections.

Minister Bill Bennett’s statements on Wednesday afternoon followed Monday’s massive breach of 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of solids dumped into the watershed — from Imperial Metals’ massive tailings impoundment which Environment Canada lists as containing high levels of mercury, arsenic, cobalt and other toxic heavy metals.

Government test results for water downstream released Thursday afternoon did not show unsafe contamination levels — although some critics questioned whether testing was conducted into potential toxic concentrations in the tailings pond’s solid sediments, which settle at lake and river bottoms. Read full article at The Tyee

Dandelion Truth

I find myself in a pissing match with a regular group of emailers I think I can categorize as those who are dubious about the mainstream media and invariably tend to come down on whatever side of an issue the United States is not on. I have no quarrel per se with such a group – indeed they are a healthy part of the democratic process.

They include a number of people who have been in email contact with me over the years, only one whose names I recognize from other places and that is Jeffrey Arney who evidently is involved in a minority Canadian political party and in addition to his emails I see constant blogs in magazines like the estimable Dialogue Magazine.

First a general observation.

We all read, watch and absorb things that cater to our own prejudices. This is a very human thing to do and unless one is a research scientist it’s a common thing. I remember well my days at CKNW and one of the regular callers was a lady known as Hanoi Hannah. She was extremely articulate and very well informed. As listeners from all sides of the political spectrum learned, however, her “well informed” meant that she knew everything there was to know about politics from the left. The books she quoted from to the TV shows that she referred to were all well-known leftist sources. Continue Reading »

Unwrap to reveal a solution to 'Tragedy in the Commons.' Gift image: Shutterstock.

Unwrap to reveal a solution to ‘Tragedy in the Commons.’ Gift image: Shutterstock.

Rafe Mair’s cost free way to fix our democracy deficit.

Two weeks ago, I confessed on these pages that I was a British Columbian first and a Canadian second. One of the major reasons is that I have always felt utterly disconnected from the federal government. Even when one knows one’s member of Parliament, that really doesn’t give a sense of connection to the governing process.

This is unlike the United States where congressmen and senators have enormous power, which is a reflection of the voter’s power. (As you will see, I do not suggest that Canada adopt the American system.)

Canada has lots going for it. It’s generally peaceful and prosperous. Despite our best efforts, we have no immediate enemies ready to do us harm. It’s mostly a neat place to live (especially if you live in British Columbia). Read full article at The Tyee

Sense and speed limits

Memorial to Highway 99 victim Shannon Archer.  Photo courtesy of the Whistler News

Memorial to Highway 99 victim Shannon Archer. Photo courtesy of The Whistler News

Ian Toothill runs Sense,  an organization which started by fighting photo radar and is dedicated, so it says, “to traffic safety through education not controlling speed”. Somehow these two terms are supposed to be mutually exclusive.

Dr. Perry Kendall is a BC Health Officer, who has that rare combination of information and common sense. He and Toothill have been conducting a public debate which Kendall has won hands down.

As far as I’m concerned there is no debate. What’s got it started was the raising of speed limits on many of the highways in British Columbia. Well, Toothill can claim a great deal of influence in this decision but it was in fact made by higher-ups in the Transportation Ministry and by the Minister and they should all be hanging their heads in shame. Continue Reading »

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