Friday, January 25, 2013

Again we ask, who is Deputy Premier Rich Coleman working for? 

Why is the Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas and Minister Responsible for Housing and the Deputy Premier (and don't forget he continues to carry the BC Lottery portfolio) phoning up city councilors advocating for a casino to be approved in their municipality? The Premier should be answering this question. 

The citizens of Surrey should be very thankful they have a Mayor like Dianne Watts who has so much integrity she listens to the public who put her in office. 

Surrey mayor speaks out: Open letter to B.C. Lottery Corp.

Surrey Leader, Jan. 25, 2013.

Surrey Mayor demands apology from BCLC boss
Marcella Bernardo, 1/24/2013  

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts says the head of BC Lotteries owes her an apology for suggesting she acted irresponsibly in the lead up to the recent rejection of a casino project in her city.

"To suggest that I should have voted regardless of public opposition is irresponsible on his account in terms of his comments that he has directed at me."

Speaking with CKNW's Jon McComb, Watts says she felt compelled to address comments made by BCLC boss Michael Graydon, because she thinks they were 'inflammatory'.

"Every councillor voted the way they felt they needed to vote and that should all be respected."

Graydon has not been available for comment.  We've been told he's travelling.
BC's Minister responsible for gaming -- Rich Coleman-- has now released a statement regarding Surrey's Casino rejection.

He says he respects the final decision and promises the provincial government will never put a casino where it's not wanted.

Coleman's been accused of interfering in the process by personally calling city councillors and opening himself up to concerns he may have tried to influence their votes.
Interesting story from July 2010 by Bill Tieleman about Michael Graydon:

Fire BC Lottery CEO Michael Graydon now! 

Online gambling fiasco and federal Proceeds of Crime money laundering fines demand it 

In fact, minister responsible Rich Coleman has already rejected the idea of firing the $383,000 a year CEO.

The current situation is a complete embarrassment for the province - the BC Lottery Corporation has been fined a massive $670,000 for more than 1,000 violations of the federal Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act - an amazing story broken by CKNW AM 980 reporter Brett Mineer.

But it does at the BC Lottery Corporation - they deliberately misled the public for days about the crash of its controversial online gambling program - finallly confessing that it wasn't because of the stated "tremendous customer response" - as BC Lottery VP Kevin Gass said.

It was actually because of a "data crossover" that allowed some players to access other players money and financial information!

And it happened 134 times - but no public word until Thursday - five days later.

Then we discover that the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada -- FINTRAC -- fined BC Lottery Corporation because it misfiled 1,020 reports for casino transactions over $10,000. 

Lastly - a bit of ironic humour - if you want to check out Michael Graydon's background on the BC Lottery Corporation website, Microsoft Explorer posts this ominous warning:
"There is a problem with this website's security certificate."
This is the error message we get when we try the link to Graydon't bio on BCLC just today. If BCLC knew this was a problem in July 2010 when Tieleman wrote his article above, why do we get this error message in 2013? Doesn't it beg the question why, after 3 years, why does the BCLC website still have security issues?
This Connection is Untrusted
You have asked Firefox to connect securely to, but we can't confirm that your connection is secure.
Normally, when you try to connect securely, sites will present trusted identification to prove that you are going to the right place. However, this site's identity can't be verified.
What Should I Do?
If you usually connect to this site without problems, this error could mean that someone is trying to impersonate the site, and you shouldn't continue. uses an invalid security certificate. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

BC Liberals break the education system & madly try to fix it before election

So, let's see if we have this right. The BC Liberals have now been in power for over a decade and they are NOW just "unveiling" a "plan" to "bring stability" to our education system? 

Would this be the same education system that the BC Liberals de-stabilized by gutting the funding for special needs teachers and assistants, by cramming more kids into classrooms, by cutting teachers and on and on?

Here at BC Liberals Suck we propose that the best plan for Grade 2 students have a chance in BC's education system is for a change of government on May 14th 2013.

The BC NDP and BCTF nail it too - the latter and their employers have been making process in negotiating a new agreement and were just about to bring these back to their members for voting. As Lambert says in the video below the Premier's "timing is bizarre and suspect."

B.C. unveils plan to bring stability to education system

Proposal includes 10-year teachers' contract with salaries indexed to other public sector unions

The B.C. government has officially outlined its proposals to bring long-term stability to the province's education system.

"The goal of a 10-year agreement is simple and ambitious — give Grade 2 students a chance to go their entire school career without a disruption," Premier Christy Clark said in a statement Thursday.

"Imagine the opportunities for students, parents and teachers in the classroom, knowing classrooms would always be open.

"We need to work closely with teachers on our shared goal of improving B.C.'s education system, and we're prepared to make some fundamental changes that put students first.
"This isn't about the adults — it's about what's best for students."

The moves comes on the heels of a bitter labour dispute with B.C. teachers.

The agreement would allow teachers to go on out on strike and index teachers' salaries to increases given to nurses, college faculty and other public-sector employees.

A proposed education policy council that would resolve issues such as professional development away from the bargaining table would include the government, school trustees and the teachers' union.

The contract would also provide $100 million for an education investment fund and allow teachers a say in how the money is used in classrooms.

Education Minister Don McRae, a teacher, says labour woes have caused instability for parents and students eight times since 1991.

The BCTF is expected to respond to the province's proposals at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Government rolls out proposed ten year teaching contract
Sean Leslie, 1/24/2013 , VANCOUVER/CKNW (AM980)

Premier Christy Clark has laid out her proposal for a decade of labour peace in BC schools.

Clark's plan includes a new education policy council that gives the BC Teachers Federation more input; a more transparent bargaining process with early mediation; and a 100 million dollar priority education fund in the third year of the deal.

"To go directly into classrooms to benefit students in a very real way."

Perhaps most controversially, teachers' wages would be indexed to other major public sector unions.

"It means that all sides need to give something up, but think about what we're getting....ten years of labour stability for our kids."

The next step is to work directly with the union to explore the proposed framework, just as contract talks are set to resume in March.

The Premier and the Education Minister both say the BC Teachers Federation was consulted on the framework, but that goes against what the union president has said.

Before the framework was unveiled, BCTF President Susan Lambert says she was in the dark about what that plan, which directly affects her members contains.

When asked why, Premier Christy Clark says it's her job to be a leader.

"Setting a framework out there and offering it out for people's comments and discussion. And that's what leadership is about"

That said, Clark says she doesn't want to rush through a deal before the May election, adding she wants to sit down with teachers to make sure they can agree.

The government says it did take input from the union and other groups and the Premier welcomes more.

Thu, Jan 24 - Premier Christy Clark is offering to establish a 10 year contract with the B.C. Teachers Federation but the union is already rejecting the idea. Keith Baldrey reports. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Can We Still Call it Democracy if the BC Liberal government only sits for 19 days a year?

The absentee B.C. legislature

Why we should be worried about a government that sits for only 19 days in a full calendar year
by Mark D. Jarvis, January 13, 2013, MacLeans.

Mike de Jong, the Government House Leader and Minister of Finance, announced last week on Twitter that Christy Clark’s Liberal government in British Columbia planned to recall the Legislative Assembly on February 12 for a speech from the throne and to sit until March 14.

The legislature would then be dissolved on April 16. How do we know this? Basically, it is a matter of counting backwards. The province’s Constitution Act requires a general election to be held on the second Tuesday in May every 4 years. That falls on May 14 this year. And, the province’s Election Act requires a 28-day campaign period.

Taking into account that the B.C. legislature doesn’t sit Fridays, and the usual spring break, the parliamentary calendar shows a maximum of 24 sitting days before dissolution.

But there is a report that the legislature will not sit at all in April. That would mean there will only be 19 sitting days before the election in June, one of which will be the speech from the throne and another the budget, assuming the current plan holds.

Because the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia has already not sat since May 31, 2012. The cancellation of the fall sitting by Premier Clark, left open the question as to whether the legislature would sit at all before an election this May.

It is not simply that the legislature will have only sat for 19 days this spring, it is that B.C. legislature will have only sat for a total of 19 days in nearly a full calendar year (between May 31, 2012, when it last rose and the election on May 14, 2013).

While elections are an important mechanism of accountability, accountability also requires compelling the government of the day to provide information about its decisions, behaviour and policies—in short, holding government to account.

Members of legislative assemblies who are not part of the executive have a responsibility to ask questions, extract those accounts and to scrutinize them. Because we do not expect governments to commit political hara-kiri, parliamentarians’ primary responsibilities include holding government to account: scrutinizing government performance and administration and either withdrawing or extending confidence. The government’s capacity to disrupt its ability to do so undermines the efficacy of our parliamentary system. As Peter Aucoin and I have argued:
Without robust parliamentary scrutiny the system can easily slide into what commentators like to label an “elected dictatorship,” namely, a parliamentary government where the Prime Minister operates without significant checks and balances from the legislative assembly of the people’s representatives.
When a legislative assembly can be sidelined—in addition to normal concerns about opposition incompetence or ineffectiveness—the government is able to operate in greater secrecy. As Stephen Harper put it so clearly in an op-ed on government transparency and potential reforms to the Information Act that was published by the Montreal Gazette when he was leader of the opposition:
Information is the lifeblood of democracy. Without adequate access to key information about government policies and programs, citizens and parliamentarians cannot make informed decisions, and incompetent or corrupt government can be hidden under a cloak of secrecy.
Having severely limited the legislature’s ability to hold it to account, the government will effectively be asking the citizens of British Columbia to cast their ballots in the dark this May. These are dark days for democracy indeed.

Mark D. Jarvis is a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria. His 2011 book, Democratizing the Constitution: Reforming Responsible Government, co-authored with Lori Turnbull and the late Peter Aucoin, was awarded both the Donner and Smiley book prizes. Mark adapted some of the book’s proposals for a contribution to our series on the House last year. You can find more information about the book here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From the Who the Hell are You? And Who are You Working? for Category:

Alex Browne - Peace Arch News, January 21, 2013.  

Reaction to the City of Surrey’s decision on the proposed casino/entertainment complex from Rich Coleman, B.C.’s minister responsible for gaming, was a swift thumbs-down.

He suggested that other areas, including First Nations communities that had expressed interest, would be more likely to be investigated as potential sites for such a complex in future.

He also repeated the claim, widely reported early in the campaign for the casino, that Surrey would have received 10 per cent of the profits, or some $6 million per year.

Gateway Casinos had since admitted that Surrey’s take from the proposed complex would be closer to the $3 million estimated by the city.

 In later comments Saturday, Coleman appeared to back off a little on his earlier critical stance on the city, noting that, while he was disappointed on Surrey’s behalf, B.C.’s gaming policy is not to force such a proposal on a community that doesn’t want it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rise of the Independents: Good for Democracy in BC

“I have enjoyed being an independent more than I can say. My integrity is intact, and oh my goodness, does that make your soul feel fine.” 
~ Vicki Huntington, the first independent elected as a B.C. MLA in 60 years

Independent MLAs enter untested waters

John Slater is about to learn just how easy he had it in 2009.

The MLA for Boundary-Similkameen jumped this week from the B.C. Liberal caucus – or, more accurately, he was pushed – and quickly made up his mind to run in the coming election as an independent candidate.

That mission, even with the support of members of his riding association who quit the B.C. Liberals along with him, will be a very different experience than his inaugural campaign under the party’s wing in the 2009 provincial election.

In that contest, Mr. Slater enjoyed a central ad campaign, a constituency war chest built up with several years’ worth of fundraising, and a coveted database that merges the voters list with known supporters. In Boundary-Similkameen, a swing riding, party headquarters would have provided a phone bank to help identify supporters and get them out to vote.

His campaign manager, financial agent and communications staff would have had training from the party. A riding service package would include goodies like office insurance and a ready-made, branded social media set-up.

In the next three months, Mr. Slater will be trying to replicate all that on his own.
But he’s not the only one. An unusual number of incumbent MLAs will be on the ballot in the May election without a political affiliation. That reflects tumultuous times in B.C. politics, but also the sense that a new political reality is opening up after the 2009 breakthrough of Vicki Huntington, the first independent elected as a B.C. MLA in 60 years.

“It has made it respectable to run as an independent,” said Ms. Huntington, who now regularly fields calls from people interested in running as an independent. She is blunt with them: It is tough to raise money, the paperwork to be approved as a candidate by Elections B.C. is onerous, and name recognition is crucial.

In 2009, she toppled a high-profile cabinet minister, Wally Oppal, in Delta South on a shoestring budget – she couldn’t even afford a campaign office. This time around, she sees even more reason for independents to be successful when voters head to the polls in May. “There is a mood out there for a change, and the independents can provide a middle road for the voter.”

Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson was dumped from the B.C. NDP caucus two years ago, and has used that time to prepare for the solo campaign ahead. In those two years, he has aimed to build the case that he is not running against his old party. “You have to get over the disaffected label,” he said. “The first thing people want to know is, are you really an independent? If you have a story to tell – not ‘they screwed me,’ but a story about proving politics can be done outside the party system – I think there is an appetite there.”

John van Dongen was elected five times as a B.C. Liberal before he defected to the B.C. Conservatives last spring. He is now sitting as an independent and has spent months planning a solo campaign. That has given him time to build profile as a critic, especially around the government’s handling of the B.C. Rail scandal. “There is no doubt it’s tougher to run as an independent,” he acknowledged. “But the more people look at the political situation in British Columbia today, the more interested they are in having a credible option.”

Those sentiments will carry them only so far if their former parties go all-in against them. The B.C. Liberals have sought to discredit their former MLAs – smear isn’t too strong a word – and Mr. Slater can expect no quarter.

After almost four years of toeing the B.C. Liberal Party line, he has to shift quickly to a new message. “I have done a lot for my constituents. I carry their voice to Victoria,” Mr. Slater said in an interview. That wasn’t always easy within the confines of the government caucus. “You go to Victoria and the grand pooh-bahs think something different – they think the MLAs are there to represent Victoria in their riding.”

Ms. Huntington predicts he will enjoy that new role. “I have enjoyed being an independent more than I can say. My integrity is intact, and oh my goodness, does that make your soul feel fine.”

Friday, January 18, 2013

Disgusted BC Liberal Voter Tells Premier Why She Won't Vote for the Party on May 14th

Letter of the Week: Dear Christy Clark, Here’s why I can no longer vote for the B.C. Liberals . . .

January 18, 2013. Sarah Wall.

sarahwall2 Letter of the Week: Dear Christy Clark, Heres why I can no longer vote for the B.C. Liberals . . .

Ms. Premier:

This letter stems from my extreme disappointment and disgust with what B.C. provincial politics have become.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am the future of the Liberal party. I am 32 years old, have a medium-to-high household income, and care very much how my taxes are spent. I care about strong business in B.C., I supported the HST, and up until now I have always voted Liberal. Long story short, I represent the voter you are trying to retain.

I regret to tell you today that you have now lost my vote. When I say it is regrettable, I am in earnest, for there is no other party that represents what I believe to be best for me or my province.

Your failure to reappoint Auditor General John Doyle is the final straw in what has been a tragic series of events for both the B.C. Liberals and the overall political health of B.C.

Are you so afraid of accountability that you dismiss the only voice of the taxpayer in Victoria? I understand you and your supporters have agendas and more than a few skeletons, but will those always trump the well-being of this province and your constituents?

Who else but Doyle is there to hold government accountable and to ensure that corruption does not become “business as usual?” This question is rhetorical and I’ll thank you not to reply with platitudes regarding your interest in servicing the taxpayers. You do not, and you have not, and I’ll thank you not to waste any more of my time with political lip service.

I will not, and likely never will vote for the NDP. I am in near complete disagreement with their policies. However, you have let our province down yet again and I can no longer grit my teeth and check “Liberal” when I go to the ballot box. I simply don’t have the stomach for it.

I hope for B.C.’s sake that we have a better Liberal party in the coming years so that my vote can once again be cast for the party I feel would best represent my needs.

Sarah Wall, Vancouver

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Orwellian Chip ID card: BC government will have ability to track citizens

Our spidey senses better be tingling over this. There is something really smelly with these new RFID chip identification cards. Why are the BC Liberal government ramming through these cards before we even have a clear idea how the most sensitive information about citizens is safeguarded? 

They won't even let B.C.'s Information & Privacy Commissioner study and report out on this and the government has been stalling and won't release information the Commissioner has request. Our hackles are raised. Yours should be too.

Read more about Radio-frequency identification (RFID)'s here

The latest video from #Anonymous @ 2:13 mentions how Canada is introducing RFID's for ID and that there is no security. View it for yourself. 

Anonymous- A message to Canadians

Privacy commissioner to review centralized ID cards

Dirk Meissner, Globe & Mail, Jan. 07 2013. 

British Columbia is introducing a high-tech identification card for everyone from infants to the elderly to replace the old CareCard health system, and add driver’s licences and other government services.

The five-year project has a budget of $150-million and will start next month.

“We are going to take every measure to make sure [it won’t] be compromised,” she said. “One of the things that is very important for people to know is the card itself doesn’t contain, for example, your health record or your driving record or anything else. So, if somebody picks up your card, that information isn’t stored in the card.”

Ms. MacDiarmid said the card contains a chip that once activated can only be accessed through a code known only by the card holder.

The new cards include a photograph and expire every five years, she said.

The card can double as a driver’s licence, but users have the opportunity to request a separate driver’s licence, Ms. MacDiarmid said.

She said most residents will get their new BC Service Cards when they renew their driver’s licences, while non-drivers and children will also enrol at locations where driver’s licences are issued.

Ms. MacDiarmid said the government is looking to link the card with other government services, which allows card owners to access records and conduct government business online.

BC Freedom of Information & Privacy Association, January 8th, 2013.
On Monday, the B.C. Government launched a province-wide communications blitz to announce the February 15th launch date of its long-delayed B.C. Services Card.

The new card, which will be rolled out to British Columbians over the next five years, is set to replace the aging CareCard system, currently used to track and deliver health care across the province. It will combine the functions of your old CareCard with your B.C. driver's license, all in the name of cutting down on health care billing fraud and providing you with what the government likes to call "citizen-centred services."

FIPA has repeatedly raised questions over just why the new card is needed, what it does to protect citizen data from inappropriate use, and how it will link disparate government databases together, creating a potential goldmine for hackers. But despite the government's new push to unveil the card, these questions are a long way from answered.

In fact, we still don’t have answers as to why the Integrated Case Management system, another major component of the government’s data linking plans, blew up so spectacularly last year. The government said it had hired consultants to review what went wrong, but no report has come of that plan yet--or at least not a public one. Nor have we heard from the Information and Privacy Commissioner about the various ICM privacy breaches.

Following yesterday´s announcement, B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham circulated a statement indicating that her office had not finished reviewing the Services Card program, and was still waiting for information from the government:
My office is reviewing the B.C. Services Card. It is critical that in developing this program, that the sensitive personal information of British Columbians is protected.

Among other things, we are carefully evaluating the security issues associated with the proposal as well as the system architecture. In this regard, we are still awaiting information from the relevant ministries and government agencies.

When complete, I will be issuing a full public statement about the outcome of my review.
Apparently the new ID card program is so important, it could not wait for the Commissioner’s input.

This is not the first time at the provincial government has tried to jam things past the Commissioner’s office. Last spring the government hammered four bills through the legislature, each of which was publicly criticized by Denham's office for serious access and privacy problems.

FIPA has been trying unsuccessfully to get information on the card program for almost two years. We are working with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, who have received funding from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to conduct research into the Services Card. Visit the study's website today for more information and resources.

After the catastrophic failure of earlier datalinkage megaprojects like Integrated Case Management and BCeSis, it would seem reasonable, even for a government intent on proceeding down this road, to wait and find out what went wrong before spending more money on yet another personal information grab. But that is not what is happening in B.C. today.

The government must put a stop to this waste of taxpayers’ money and stop endangering citizens’ personal information.


Sunday, January 06, 2013

"You're Fired!": BC Liberals Axe the Best Public Servant BC has had in years

Definitely can't say it's a surprise that Christy Clark's BC Liberal government has axed John Doyle, BC's Auditor-general, the best public servant BC has had for the last 5 years. The kid glove way the BC public service does their dirty work is not to re-appoint people who are thorns in their side.

Chalk it up to one more nail in the BC Liberals coffin.

BC Auditor-General not reappointed
VANCOUVER/CKNW (AM980), 1/5/2013.

If you want to be BC auditor-general, now's your chance.

An ad is out, asking for prospective replacements for John Doyle.

Doyle has not been reappointed.

MLA John Les sits on a special committee that appoints an auditor-general.

He says all decisions on that committee have to be unanimous -- and says there hasn't been unanimity in terms of keeping Doyle in that position.

Speaking with CKNW's Sean Leslie, Les was asked whether the Government wants to get rid of Doyle.

"No, it's normal for there to be some tension between an auditor general and the government of the day, that's not unusual at all -- if you look at the federal level for example where Shiela Fraser, when she was the auditor general, she was pretty tough on the federal government as well, and you know, John Doyle has been the same in British Columbia, so that is in itself, not at all unusual."

Doyle's term is up in October.

Last summer, he criticized the Legislature's accounting practices.

He has also been working for answers in the BC Rail case -- about the covering of legal fees for Dave Basi and Bob Virk.

The committee that appoints an auditor-general is made up of both Liberals and New Democrats.

Les didn't say who wanted Doyle to stay and who wanted him to go.

Meanwhile, NDP MLA Shane Simpson says his party supported the reappointment of Doyle.

He says the decision to not keep Doyle is not in the public interest, and is not justified.

"There's a long, long list of issues where Mr. Doyle as the auditor-general has brought out information through his reports that have demonstrated problems with government procedures and government controls.  That's what the auditor-general should be doing, he was doing a good job, the Liberals have decided with no justification that they're going to get rid of him."

Simpson calls Doyle one of the most effective watchdogs of the public interest that BC has seen in many years.

John Doyle appears set to be replaced as government watchdog

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Game On! Countdown to the Election

Had a nice break over the holidays and now I'm back in the saddle to bash the BC Liberals all to hell until May when we say goodbye to a whole bunch of 'em! Can't wait and there are a helluva lot of us out there who feel that way too, so lets all jump into the fray and help sending them packing in our own little and big ways. 

Battleground BC MLA Bruce Ralston : News : SunNews Video Gallery

Sun News, January 4, 2013.

BC MLA and NDP Finance Critic Bruce Ralston joins David Akin to discuss Premier Christy Clark's handling of the economy.

The BC government's "jobs plan" and record on the labour market is just shredded in this video. Well, not really, the truth is being told to voters for a change.

They report that the labour participation rate has dropped by almost 6000 because people have become so discouraged trying to find employment in BC. I know of a number of people in that boat, as well as people who've left BC to find work.