Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Please Save Salmon!

Message from Alexandra Morton in Norway, disease and sea lice are not under control in Norwegian salmon farms and BC stands to lose all

I have been in Norway for 10 days because 92% of fish farming in British Columbia is Norwegian owned. I have met with many Norwegian scientists, members of the Mainstream and Marine Harvest boards, been to their AGMs, toured the area with fishermen, examined a closed-containment facility, met the Norwegians fighting for their fish and joined a scientific cruise.

I thought Norway had this industry handled and I expected to learn how marine salmon farming could work, but this has not been the case. My eyes have really been opened. This industry still has major issues that are growing and has no business expanding throughout the temperate coastlines of the world. The way they have been treating sea lice in Norway has caused high drug resistance. The only solution in sight is increasingly toxic chemicals. In the past two years (2007, 8) sea lice levels have actually increased on both the farm and wild fish. The scientists I met with are holding their breath to see if drug-resistant sea lice populations will explode and attack the last wild salmon and sea trout. The same treatment methods have been used in BC and we can expect this to occur as well.

I am not hearing how the industry can possibly safeguard British Columbia from contamination with their ISA virus. Infectious Salmon Anemia is a salmon virus that is spreading worldwide, wherever there are salmon farms. In Chile, the Norwegian strain of ISA has destroyed 60% of the industry, 17,000 jobs and unmeasured environmental damage. The industry is pushing into new territory. If this gets to BC no one can predict what it will do to the Pacific salmon and steelhead, it will be unleashed into new habitat and we know this is a very serious threat to life.

Professor Are Nylund head of the Fish Diseases Group at the University of Bergen, Norway, reports that, “based on 20 years of experience, I can guarantee that if British Columbia continues to import salmon eggs from the eastern Atlantic infectious salmon diseases, such as ISA, will arrive in Western Canada. Here in Hardangerfjord we have sacrificed our wild salmon stocks in exchange for farm salmon. With all your 5 species of wild salmon, BC is the last place you should have salmon farms.”

New diseases and parasites are being identified. The most serious is a sea lice parasite that attacks the salmon immune system. There is concern that this new parasite is responsible for accelerating wild salmon declines. The Norwegian scientists agree with many of us in BC. If you want wild salmon you must reduce the number of farm salmon. There are three options.

The future for salmon farming will have to include:

permanently reduction of not just the number of sea lice, but also the number of farm salmon per fjord,
removing farm salmon for periods of time to delouse the fjords and not restocking until after the out-migration of the wild salmon and sea trout.
But where wild salmon are considered essential they say the only certain measure is to remove the farms completely.

There are many people here like me. I met a man who has devoted his life to the science of restoring the Voss River, where the largest Atlantic salmon in the world, a national treasure, have vanished due to sea lice from salmon farms. Interestingly he is using the method I was not allowed to use last spring... Towing the fish past the farms out to sea. Another man is working with scientists and communities to keep the sea trout of the Hardangerfjord alive. There are so many tragic stories familiar to British Columbia.

The corporate fish farmers are unrelenting in their push to expand. With Chile so highly contaminated with the Norwegian strain of ISA all fish farmed coasts including Norway are threatened with expansion. I made the best case I could to Mainstream and Marine Harvest for removing the salmon feedlots from our wild salmon migration routes, but they will not accept that they are harming wild salmon. They say they want to improve, but they don’t say how. Norway has different social policies which include encouraging people to populate the remote areas and so fish farming seemed a good opportunity to these people. BC has the opposite policy, but the line that fish farms are good for small coastal communities has been used in BC anyway. I have not seen any evidence that it has even replaced the jobs it has impacted in wild fisheries and tourism.

It is becoming increasingly clear to protect wild Pacific salmon from the virus ISA the BC border absolutely has to be closed to importation of salmon eggs immediately and salmon farms MUST be removed from the Fraser River migration routes and any other narrow waterways where wild salmon are considered valuable.

Our letter asking government that the Fisheries Act, which is the law in Canada be applied to protect our salmon from fish farms has been signed by 14,000 people to date at has still not been answered.

Please forward this letter and encourage more people to sign our letter to government as it is building a community of concerned people word wide and we will prevail as there is really no rock for this industry to hide under and longer.

Alexandra Morton

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Road Ahead by Patrick Brown

The Road Ahead, as copied from Island Tides May 21st, 2009 edition.
----- Original Message -----
From: Rita Dawson
Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2009 4:17 PM
Subject: The Road Ahead

Comment prior to article: Jessica McDonald, Deputy Minister to the Premier and Cabinet Secretary, should definitely be sent this one by everyone since she is the person who handles Campbell's correspondence. She seems a person of character after refusing the last Campbell proposed 43% pay increase. Source Reference at the following link:

Perhaps she would take the contents of this article to heart and give Campbell a nudge. One never knows. She receives all of his mail and can be reached at
Email Address


The road ahead—New Ideas For BC Government

Patrick Brown

Yes, the makeup of the legislature will look remarkably similar to what it was before the election. Yes, Gordon Campbell will once again be premier. Yes, you could call it a mandate, a signal ofpublic approval.

But voter participation was the lowest ever; and the BC Liberal share of the vote did not increase over the 2005 election. A lukewarm endorsement at best. And, on returning to Victoria, the government will find that none of the many problems and issues that it faced before the election have gone away. In fact, the election may have highlighted just how intractable they are.

Island Tides applaud the government’s affirmation of its openness to new ideas. We’re happy to take up the invitation; what follows is first a list of general principles that this mature third-term government should consider. The second is a list of key issues and how they might be addressed.

Governing Principles

1) The role of the government: A successful government process is characterized by thoroughness, responsibility, fairness, justice, transparency, and, above all, integrity. Its success is measured as much by its style as by its accomplishments.

2) The natural resources and environment of the province, and the corporate assets of the government, are not the property of the government to sell, rent, destroy or dispose of in any way that government pleases. They are, instead, to be held by the government in trust for the citizens of the province, of Canada, and of the world, and for generations to come.

3) The Premier is not the Chief Executive Officer of the Province, nor is he the decision maker. Rather, he carries the responsibility of managing the process of government. The process is one which having taken all factors and all interests into account, arrives at decisions by consensus and reconciliation.

4) The Ministers of the government, and the Cabinet, should prefer transparency to secrecy, and public information and debate to cabinet solidarity.

5) The separation of government and the private sector: government is not a business, and the business of business is not government. The objective of any business enterprise is to make as much profit as it can within its chosen lifecycle. The objectives of government are the health and happiness of its citizens and of humanity in general, now and in the future.

6) The government’s ability to carry out its responsibilities in the future (eg pensions) must not be endangered though involvement in private sector investments.

7) Private enterprise must not be allowed to profit from the use of the taxation or monopoly powers of the government.

8) The necessity of planning: It is not sufficient to govern on a case-by-case basis, or only in response to specific proposals. It is necessary to develop and follow specific plans for land use, energy, government finance, transportation, housing, and industries. Government policies should flow from these plans, which provide vision, predictability, and confirm government leadership.

9) Legislation and legislators: the legislature is the proper place for debate, and legislators are the proper conduits for their constituents’ information and opinions. It follows that government action that limits the function of the legislature invites disrespect for the government, its actions, its laws, and the legislators themselves.

10) Legislation by itself is not evidence of accomplishment. Enabling legislation must be accompanied by clear provisions for accountability. Proscriptive legislation must be accompanied by enforcement. Licensing involves a responsibility to supervise.

11) Legislators are accountable to and responsible for all their constituents, not just those with whom they agree. Legislators integrity must be unquestionable.

12) The needs of citizens: the needs of citizens vary throughout their lifetimes, and it is the responsibility of government to ensure that those needs are provided. Services such as health care, education, personal security, the care of children and the elderly, and the provision of physical infrastructure, must be planned, adequately provided, and guaranteed.

13) Local government: government must recognize and respect the regions, cities, towns and communities of the province, and must encourage a high degree of local autonomy and responsibility in all aspects of government. Few government functions are amenable to a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

14) Local autonomy must be accompanied by local democracy, and encourage participation by all citizens in the government of their community. This extends particularly to land use, economic development and regulation, social justice, and support for the underprivileged and handicapped.

15) Non-government organizations: non-governmental and volunteer organizations must be recognized as an essential element of the fabric of society and the community, and their activities and sustainability encouraged.

16) The rights of citizens: The rights of citizens, as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights, are fundamental to the successful function of all levels of government. These rights are accompanied by citizens’ responsibilities to contribute to the government process, and to express their concerns when these principles appear to be neglected or ignored.

Issues That Must Be Addressed

The Carbon Tax – Project into the future, set a rate that will actually affect the consumption of fossil fuels, decide what to do with the proceeds, decide how to mitigate or compensate sensitive groups or sectors and include flaring and fugitive pipeline emissions.

Fish Farms – The government has licensed, but does not supervise, open water net pen fish farms. They should be phased out and only closed containment allowed.

Seniors’ Care Homes – A clear distinction should be made between ‘assisted living’ and ‘residential care facilities,’ communities should be involved in establishing sufficient of eachtype to meet local needs.

Run-of-river Hydro-electric Power – Environmental review should be broadened and include cumulative effects. The future effect on BC Hydro’s finances by contracts to purchase power must be studied.

Energy Planning – An overall energy plan must be developed for the province, and for exports and imports. BC Hydro’s role in that plan must be clarified.

Greenhouse Gases – Plans and targets for GHG limitation must be developed.

Carbon Offsets For Provincial And Local Governments– Abandon this idea and simply charge carbon tax.

Cap & Trade – Apply accordin to the Western Climate Initiative to non-fossil fuel GHG sources.

First Nations – A highly inclusive province-wide discussion of the ‘new relationship’ proposals must be planned and started immediately.

Local government – A revision of local government roles and policies is needed, in particular, Bill 30. The Significant Projects Streamlining Act and TILMA must be discussed.

‘Gateway’ Projects and Tanker Traffic – The Lower Mainland gateway needs more public debate. The Kitimat pipeline and coastal tanker traffic need reconsideration.

Vancouver Area Transportation – The role of a new Port Mann bridge needs to be compared with alternatives, such as rail transit up the Fraser Valley. Effect of such corridors on urban and suburban development must be planned. Translink must have effective local government representation.

BC Ferries – should once more become a Crown corporation, and financed as part of the highway system, resulting in reduced fares.

Industrial Development – The province should once more give preferential treatment to local industry.

Resource Development – Tax or royalty preferential treatment should be limited to early development phases. Include gas and oil exploitation.

Hospital Cleanliness – Cleaning staff should be identified as health care workers and cleanliness targets designed and enforced.

Private Forest Lands – should be regulated as forest lands under provincial regulations, like other forest lands.

Land Use Planning – Reinstate regional land use plans, process, and enforcement to provide control and predictability. Delay environmental review on new projects until this is done.

Executive Salaries – Establish salary levels for provincial government appointed officials and crown corporations, and have them debated and approved as part of the budget in the legislature.

Education Funding – Funding to school boards must be restored; post-secondary funding must be increased, fees should be frozen; student grants and loans improved.

Government Outsourcing – Provincial Auditor should review major contracts to Maximus and Accenture and consider returning the work to provincial civil service.

Public-Private Partnerships – Provincial Auditor should review all these and all proposed public private partnerships (P3s). Fold P3 office into Provincial Auditor office.

Freedom Of Information – Increase staff for FOI requests and set response targets, with penalties if not met.

Legislative Sessions – Schedule these for at least 125 days per year, with fixed dates.

Legislative Committees – Schedule and ensure complete hearings on all legislation.

Ministry of Environment – Re-staff enforcement and research staff, park wardens and reconstitute review process.

BC Rail – Halt transfer of railway lands to CN; reconstitute northern development fund.

Lobbying Legislation – Strengthen and make enforceable in court.

Ambulance Services – Settle contract; provide clear career path for new paramedics.

Provincial Budget – Needs immediate revision since assumptions on which it was based have not turned out to be accurate, or even close.

Child Care – Review number of cases and staffing, implement recommendations of various enquiries.

Homelessness – Plan and execute program and involve local governments throughout the province.

Provincial Pension Plan – Needs public discussion.

Minimum Wage - Raise to $10.

Close by Martina Cole

Hey All,

I was reading this book called Close by Martina Cole while thinking about the election and came across these interesting paragraphs.

In the first quote, the writer is musing on the character of the crime boss Lenny and his sort of step son Lance:

“Lenny bit on his bottom lip; his fat face was red and bloated and he looked like he wasn't capable of anything that could be construed as even remotely out of order. Lance, like most people who got to know Lenny well, knew that was his strength. As the years had gone on though and no one had stepped in to challenge his authority, Lenny had stopped pretending he was a nice guy. In fact, he was making the mistake a lot of men made when they finally reached the top of their professions; he had stopped caring what people thought about him. He thought he was above everyone around him and that he could disregard the opinion and the goodwill of the people who actually made it possible for him to pursue his ideals. Or, in Lenny's case, earn his daily crust.” p. 324

In this part the Lenny’s ex-mistress and mother of his several children speaks to Jambo the father of her last child, then he thinks about the situation of women.

“’Just give the child the time of day, not every minute of your time. I know that you can’t do that. But just for once in my life, I want one of my kids to feel that someone other than their mother cares for them. That is all I want. No more than that, Jambo. Just a visit occasionally to let them see your face and know who you are.’
“Jambo nodded and he felt so sorry for her then. He knew how hard Lil’s life had been, knew how much her family meant to her and had even guessed how much she resented them at times as well. That was real life, though most people wouldn’t admit that. Women were so unlucky; they were left in charge of a human being, sometimes a crowd of human beings, and they had to be seen as doing the best they could. They had to make sure that all of these people were taken care of in every way.

“No one ever allowed for them to be tired out, to feel abandoned or just be plain pissed off with what had befallen them and just because they had allowed a man to get too close. Because they had just followed their natural inclinations and produced as nature intended them to. Then they were left on their own, and the man leaving them was in the same condition he had arrived in, physically and mentally. The women they left behind though, were now the grand owners of stretch marks and a screaming baby and their lives would never be the same again.”
p. 383 Close by Martina Cole 2006

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Salmon Letter: please copy and sign, email to the two listed at the top... well as all your friends and contacts! THANKS!

To: The Fisheries Minister The Honourable Gail Shea
and Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia

Wild salmon are the backbone of the BC Coast. On February 9, 2009, the BC Supreme Court ruled that salmon farms are a fishery and a federal responsibility. The science is in.

The feedlot fishery is damaging wild salmon stocks worldwide (Ford and Myers 2008). Fraser sockeye and all southcoast BC salmon and steelhead are now at risk as a result of the Provincial policy of allowing the feedlot fishery to use Canada's most valuable wild salmon habitat.

We the undersigned demand that Fisheries and Oceans Canada apply the Fisheries Act to this industry and immediately:

Place observers during feedlot salmon harvest to assess unlawful by-catch;
Examine feedlot salmon as they are cleaned for presence of wild fish in their digestive tract;

Licence vessels transporting aquaculture salmon like all other commercial fishing vessels;

As per Pacific Fishery Regulation "Prohibited Fishing Methods" ban grow lights on fish feedlots to end wild prey species attraction into the pens;

Remove the marine feedlot industry from wild salmon migration routes.

The landmark BC Supreme Court decision states, “The inclusion of fisheries in s.91(12) of the Constitution Act, 1867 was a recognition that fisheries, as a national resource, require uniformity of the legislation”.

We insist that the Fisheries Act be applied to the salmon feedlot fishery immediately.

Standing by,


Haleakala 08r fractal image by JMJ


Captivate 0200 by JMJ
Captivate 0503 by JMJ
Captivate 06 by JMJ
Captivate 0502 by JMJ

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Close but No Cigar

Reading the entrails of BC’s election

May 13th, 2009 by Marc Lee

Three-peat. Hat trick. The media is full of jubilation for the re-election of the Campbell Liberals.

But looking at the numbers, it was actually quite close: the BC Liberals got 45.7% of the popular vote, compared to 42.2% for the NDP. This slim margin validates the Angus Reid polling camp, which came closest on estimating the popular vote, compared to a handful of others that put the Liberals ahead by 9-10% (I was leaning towards the Angus Reid polls mostly because they had much larger sample sizes of over 1,000 compared to just over 600 for the others, even though according to theory the gap should not change that much).

The Greens had 8.2% of the vote, enough for them to split the vote in enough ridings to make the difference (although it is not obvious that the second choice of Green voters is the NDP). Unlike the federal election, there was no talk of strategic voting in BC, perhaps because the NDP made the carbon tax its wedge issue. That backfired on them badly, with big swaths of the BC Interior and suburbs of Vancouver (those most opposed to the carbon tax) sticking Liberal. Just as Campbell did not know that after announcing the carbon tax, gas prices would shoot up by 40 cents a litre, James and the NDP did not know that those prices would fall so much when they chose to vigorously oppose the carbon tax last summer.

The election, like all Canadian elections that produce majority governments, is a winner-take-all for the Liberals, even though more than half of British Columbians voted against his party. Within the Liberals it is a winner-take-all for Campbell, due to the overly centralized power in the Premier’s office Many of the smiling faces we saw elected will not be seen again except as a backbench backdrop for cameras in the Legislature.

All of which underlines the irony that another opportunity to change the electoral system (to the Single Transferable Vote) went down in flames. Unlike the 2005 referendum, which came close to the 60% approval required to pass, this time it was not even close with 60% supporting the existing system. As several commentators have pointed out, the new Legislature looks a whole lot like the old Legislature, BC basically went for the status quo.

Attention will now turn back to the economy, with the Liberal narrative that they were the best managers through hard economic times. It is surprising that the NDP did not pick up on the string of economic bad news that flowed out of Statscan during the lead up and the campaign. They might have felt that doing so would only reinforce the Liberals’ economic manager frame.

Instead, the NDP ran an opposition campaign that offered no vision for the province other than ridding ourselves of Campbell. They hit the Liberals effectively by playing on a “crony capitalism” theme, manifested in the scandal over BC Rail privatization, and other privatization of new run-of-the-river electricity generation and certain public services. But ultimately their anti-Campbell yang lacked a yin that offered up some concrete changes that would improve the lives of British Columbians. Hopefully, this will provoke some soul searching within the party that leads to renewal.

Both parties were guilty of not being forthcoming about the impact of economic developments on the state of the BC budget. A small deficit tabled in February is surely much much larger, and it was not clear what either party would do if elected. So we will have to wait and see if the Liberals will let the deficit grow, or if they will attempt to cut spending to keep the lid on an ostensible half-billion dollar deficit. They seemed to leaning toward the latter during the election campaign but that was, well, the election campaign. If they wait until September before tabling a budget update, much of this will be easier to spin.

Another big question is where the Liberals now go on climate policy. They have received much praise for the first steps on climate action, including the carbon tax, but there was nothing in the platform that spoke of making the next steps. I seem to have been the only one in the campaign to have pointed out that the Liberals do not have a plan to meet their legislated 33% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020. So getting that done would be a good start, but I’m doubtful that we will see much, although more oil and gas extraction is definitely in the works and that will be a huge hurdle to meeting the legislated target.

Most of the attention on climate policy is likely to turn to the international stage in the lead up to Copenhagen in December, which will attempt to carve out a new global deal on climate change (with a helpful US government, we can only hope). And BC will not want to move ahead too much with a North American cap-and-trade system in the works.

So looking foward to the next four years, it is not obvious at all what we are going to get from the third Campbell administration.

Share and Enjoy: by Marc Lee

After the Election BC 2009...What?!?!

Watch out for that train
May 13th, 2009 by Keith Reynolds

Is it too early to start talking about what happens now the election is over? Because that light at the end of the tunnel really is a train.

In their February Budget the Liberals said they were going to have a $500 million deficit this year. Nobody believed them then. Marc Lee called the Budget figures fiction. Writing for the Tyee Will McMartin said:

Another fudge-it budget, you say? It’s worse
than that. This fictional fairy-tale might better be
described as Toxic Fudge.(Except we know the MDP
balanced the budget - more on that soon! Ed.)

BC’s Credit Union Central pooh poohed the Budget projections as wildly optimistic and said the deficit would probably be two or three times higher than the government was admitting.

Today even the Globe and Mail said:

It would seem a given now that the projected budget deficit of $495-
million is wholly unrealistic. It could reach $1-billion.

None of this should be wildly surprising. The Budget projected a $200 million increase in income tax revenues, for example, at a time when incomes and the number of people working were falling. It predicted a minimal increase in welfare spending at a time when it is growing so quickly the government stalled release of information about it until after the election.

I’m no economist, but if I can figure this out on the back of an envelope, I’m pretty sure the smart guys in the Finance Ministry have figured it out as well. And I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have kept it a secret from the Premier and from the Minister of Finance.

So we can expect a financial statement in June expressing surprise, amazement and horror about how badly the financial situation has deteriorated since February.
What happens then? In an April 24 Vaughn Palmer column Premier Campbell said bluntly he would not let the deficit rise. He said:

“I can tell you this: the deficit for 2009-10 will be $495
million maximum.”

That gives him three options. First, he could cut services. Second, he could sell assets. Third, he could intervene legislatively to cut the cost of contracts for public employees. If this sounds familiar, it is because he did all three in his first term of office after manufacturing a huge deficit by the largest tax cut in BC history.

Now he doesn’t need to manufacture a deficit. He can use his promise to keep the deficit to $500 million to drive an ideological agenda. So here’s my prediction. More tax cuts which Campbell will say are necessary to boost the economy. And more cuts to government services for low and middle income people to reduce the deficit.

After all, as Public Eye Online reported:

The premier’s deputy minister Jessica McDonald
has stated provincial civil service layoffs, if they
do occur, will be under five percent of the workforce.
But the Campbell administration is projecting demographic
forces will reduce the number of bureaucrats by 30 to 57
percent over the next 10 years.

How do you make cuts like that to the public service? Service cuts and privatization.

In the good times, under the Liberals BC became a bad place to be poor. In the bad times it is going to get worse.

Share and Enjoy by Keith Reynolds

Monday, May 18, 2009

Poll: Voter Turnout

Vancouver Courier May 18, 2009
We say, "B.C. Had its worst ever voter turnout at 50 per cent in this provincial election."

You say:

the political system is broken and needs radical reform.
67.35 %

the system is fine, but people have gotten lazy.
28.57 %

Canucks in ... Oh, crap.
4.08 %

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Like a Lotus

Fleur Horoscope 70

Fleur Horoscope 37

Fleur Horoscope 49
Fractals by JMJ

Let's stop this from happening!

The video that went viral!

BC for Sale from Twyla Roscovich on Vimeo.

Check out her site for a lot more great vids!
Calling from the Coast

BC Premier Gordon Campbell shamelessly spews a string of lies about the future while holding his grandchild

The Ballad of Gorgon Campbull

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ortiz 401SL512

Fractal Image made by JMJ

Welfare Up 49.8% - Revealed Post Election

Strategic Thoughts by David Schreck
May 15, 2009

The first crumb of what will likely be a lot more previously hidden bad news came out three days after the election when the Ministry of Housing and Social Services released welfare statistics that should have been released by the end of April. The statistics for March 2009
show that for the category of "temporary assistance expected to work" the caseload increased by 49.8% between March 2008 and March 2009. The total welfare caseload is up 13.6% relative to a year earlier, and stands at the highest level since 2002. The welfare caseload has not only been increasing, but the increase has been accelerating. That was taking place in 2008 when Premier Campbell was still claiming that BC would duck the worst of the recession. It was worst yet during the election campaign when Premier Campbell was saying "Keep BC Strong". Thousands of British Columbians aren't looking at "keeping" BC strong, they just desperately want to regain their own strength.

Welfare statistics are available and updated monthly on a government webpage titled: "BC Employment and Assistance Current Month Statistics" . The left hand column on that page shows the release dates, the last day of the month following the month being added (e.g. March 31 for the February data) until we got to the election campaign when the government sat on the bad news until after the vote.

On the evening of March 14th I submitted a freedom of information request for emails that discuss the release of the March data. I think it is likely that someone in the Premier's Officer or the Public Affairs Bureau instructed those responsible for the statistics in the Ministry of Housing and Social Services not to release the figures until after the election. The morning after my request for information was faxed to the Ministry I received a phone call telling me that the statistics had been posted to the website. I explained that my freedom of information request is not for the statistics, which I presumed would eventually appear, but for the emails discussing their release. If past experience is any indication, I won't hold my breath waiting for the letter and spirit of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to be honoured. Nevertheless, I think it important not to let the government get away with manipulating the release of information for its political benefit.

The welfare data are only the tip of the iceberg. No serious economist believes the figures in the Campbell government's February budget. That budget didn't pass before the Legislature was dissolved for the election; consequently, the government must call the Legislature and pass a budget before its interim spending authority is exhausted in late August or early September. That's when we'll get a glimpse at how bad things really are. Before then we'll see the audited financial statements for 2008, the Public Accounts, which will permit a comparison of what the government estimated for 2008 when the February budget was tabled and how things actually worked out.

Premier Campbell has a blank cheque for four more years, but how far he can go with that mandate depends on his ability to maintain public credibility. It is one thing to say that no economist is getting forecasts right in these tough times, but it is quite another to refuse to release critical information that the public might use in judging whether it is a matter of keeping BC strong, or struggling to return BC to strength.

Ortiz 03

Fractal Image by JMJ

Can Norway Be a Good Example for BC and Canada?

Norway Thrives by Going Against the Tide

New York Times

May 14, 2009
Thriving Norway Provides an Economics Lesson

OSLO - When capitalism seemed on the verge of collapse last fall, Kristin Halvorsen, Norway's Socialist finance minister and a longtime free market skeptic, did more than crow.

As investors the world over sold in a panic, she bucked the tide, authorizing Norway's $300 billion sovereign wealth fund to ramp up its stock buying program by $60 billion - or about 23 percent of Norway 's economic output.

"The timing was not that bad," Ms. Halvorsen said, smiling with satisfaction over the broad worldwide market rally that began in early March.

The global financial crisis has brought low the economies of just about every country on earth. But not Norway.

With a quirky contrariness as deeply etched in the national character as the fjords carved into its rugged landscape, Norway has thrived by going its own way. When others splurged, it saved. When others sought to limit the role of government, Norway strengthened its cradle-to-grave welfare state.

And in the midst of the worst global downturn since the Depression, Norway's economy grew last year by just under 3 percent. The government enjoys a budget surplus of 11 percent and its ledger is entirely free of debt.

By comparison, the United States is expected to chalk up a fiscal deficit this year equal to 12.9 percent of its gross domestic product and push its total debt to $11 trillion, or 65 percent of the size of its economy.

Norway is a relatively small country with a largely homogeneous population of 4.6 million and the advantages of being a major oil exporter. It counted $68 billion in oil revenue last year as prices soared to record levels. Even though prices have sharply declined, the government is not particularly worried. That is because Norway avoided the usual trap that plagues many energy-rich countries.

Instead of spending its riches lavishly, it passed legislation ensuring that oil revenue went straight into its sovereign wealth fund, state money that is used to make investments around the world. Now its sovereign wealth fund is close to being the largest in the world, despite losing 23 percent last year because of investments that declined.

Norway's relative frugality stands in stark contrast to Britain, which spent most of its North Sea oil revenue - and more - during the boom years.Government spending rose to 47 percent of G.D.P., from 42 percent in 2003. By comparison, public spending in Norway fell to 40 percent from 48 percent of G.D.P.

"The U.S. and the U.K. have no sense of guilt," said Anders Aslund, an expert on Scandinavia at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. "But in Norway, there is instead a sense of virtue. If you are given a lot, you have a responsibility."

Eirik Wekre, an economist who writes thrillers in his spare time, describes Norwegians' feelings about debt this way: "We cannot spend this money now; it would be stealing from future generations."

Mr. Wekre, who paid for his house and car with cash, attributes this broad consensus to as the country's iconoclasm. "The strongest man is he who stands alone in the world," he said, quoting Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.

Still, even Ibsen might concede that it is easier to stand alone when your nation has benefited from oil reserves that make it the third-largest exporter in the world. The money flowing from that black gold since the early 1970s has prompted even the flintiest of Norwegians to relax and enjoy their good fortune. The country's G.D.P. per person is $52,000, behind only Luxembourg among industrial democracies.

As in much of the rest of the world home prices have soared here, tripling this decade. But there has been no real estate crash in Norway because there were few mortgage lending excesses. After a 15 percent correction, prices are again on the rise.

Unlike Dublin or Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where work has stopped on half-built skyscrapers and stilled cranes dot the skylines, Oslo retains a feeling of modesty reminiscent of a fishing village rather than a Western capital, with the recently opened $800 million Opera House one of the few signs of opulence.

Norwegian banks, said Arne J. Isachsen, an economist at the Norwegian School of Management, remain largely healthy and prudent in their lending. Banks represent just 2 percent of the economy and tight public oversight over their lending practices have kept Norwegian banks from taking on the risk that brought down their Icelandic counterparts. But they certainly have not closed their doors to borrowers. Mr. Isachsen, like many in Norway, has a second home and an open credit line from his bank, which he recently used to buy a new boat.

Some here worry that while a cabin in the woods and a boat may not approach the excesses seen in New York or London, oil wealth and the state largesse have corrupted Norway's once-sturdy work ethic.

"This is an oil-for-leisure program," said Knut Anton Mork, an economist at Handelsbanken in Oslo. A recent study, he pointed out, found that Norwegians work the fewest hours of the citizens of any industrial democracy.

"We have become complacent," Mr. Mork added. "More and more vacation houses are being built. We have more holidays than most countries and extremely generous benefits and sick leave policies. Some day the dream will end."

But that day is far off. For now, the air is clear, work is plentiful and the government's helping hand is omnipresent - even for those on the margins.

Just around the corner from Norway's central bank, for instance, Paul Bruum takes a needle full of amphetamines and jabs it into his muscular arm. His scabs and sores betray many years as a heroin addict. He says that the $1,500 he gets from the government each month is enough to keep him well-fed and supplied with drugs.

Mr. Bruum, 32, says he has never had a job, and he admits he is no position to find one. "I don't blame anyone," he said. "The Norwegian government has provided for me the best they can."

To Ms. Halvorsen, the finance minister, even the underside of the Norwegian dream looks pretty good compared to the economic nightmares elsewhere.

"As a socialist, I have always said that the market can't regulate itself," she said. "But even I was surprised how strong the failure was."

Nettie Wiebe is out to heal the planet

Farmer, professor, and sometime NDP candidate campaigns to reconstruct food system.

Dateline: Monday, May 11, 2009

by Penney Kome

"If it is true that we are what we eat," said Nettie Wiebe, "then most of us are like those stuffed animals that you get from vending machines with labels that say, '100 percent unknown fiber'."

The first woman to serve as president of the National Farmers' Union (1995-99), and a one-time contender for leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP party, Nettie Wiebe is currently a professor at St Andrew's College in Saskatoon, where she teaches ethics. She spoke at the University of Calgary International Conference on Ecology and Professional Helping, an interdisciplinary gathering on "Building Bridges, Crossing Boundaries".

Wiebe is also a Mennonite and an organic farmer, from a long line of Saskatchewan farmers. Her family grows oilseeds, grains, pulses (lentils and peas) and runs a small cow-calf operation, which this year has 43 calves, she said proudly. Her youthful appearance and vigorous presentation belied both the 1949 birthdate on her biography, and her wistful reference to "much longed-for grandchildren." She is given to aphorisms like, "Environmentalism begins at the breakfast table."

Wiebe started her talk by saying, "Food is one thing we are all experts on, because we all eat." The rest of her presentation up-ended that statement. In fact, as Wiebe demonstrated, most of us don't have any idea where our food is grown, or how far it travels to get to our tables.

As part of her course on "Eating, Ecology and Ethics", Wiebe challenges students to find out where one favorite food comes from. One of her students phoned the New York office of his favorite pizza company to ask the origin of the tomatoes on his pizza, only to be told that that was proprietary information. The pizza company wasn't going to tell him.

"We are separated from the history and place of our food," said Wiebe. "This is not accidental. The food system is designed like that."

Walk into any supermarket, and you are likely to encounter a bewildering variety of products. "There are all kinds of things in the grocery store today that mother wouldn't have recognized, and that my grandmother wouldn't have recognized as food," said Wiebe. "And she'd be right."

In fact, the apparent variety is deceptive, she said. "We actually have fewer varieties of food grown today than ever. There was more biological diversity in an agrarian village two generations ago than we find in stores now."

In the name of providing ever more food for a growing population, said Wiebe, agribusiness has promoted large-scale, fertilizer-intensive monocrops in every country around the world. They talk about efficiency of scale, "but if you look further, there's a genuine profit motive" behind the push to standardize and industrialize food production.

Although monoculture claims to produce larger crop yields, that is partly a function of the bushels-per-acre method of measurement. Mixed farming, with a variety of crops interspersed, and maybe a few chickens running around eating the potato bugs, produces more overall nutrition from the land.

Monoculture also maximizes the potential for catastrophe, said Wiebe. "We're using water at a rate that is unsustainable. The UN has said that half of the world's rivers are depleted already." Worse, nitrogen-rich fertilizer runs off the crops into the water and, "there's a growing dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico".

Finally, agribusiness ships food all over the place — often for obscure reasons — before the customer sees it. A potato grown in Saskatchewan may be shipped to Idaho for processing, then to Edmonton to a distribution centre, before returning to a grocery store in Saskatoon. As for that winter time tomato from Mexico, "that costs plenty of greenhouse gases".

While Wiebe urges all farmers to go organic — or at least to minimize use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides — and all city dwellers to research where their food comes from and try to eat locally and seasonally, she also emphasizes that, "the food system wasn't constructed by individual choices." She is convinced that, in order to make systemic changes, "we are going to have to work collectively".

And she is not alone. As the National Farmers Union boasts, "NFU former Presidents Wayne Easter and Nettie Wiebe played a key role in the founding and development of the Via Campesina." Wiebe called La Via Campesina a "peasants' movement" to reclaim "food sovereignty". She said that she is proud to be called "peasant" because "the word means, 'people of the land'... In a lot of countries, peasants still are the majority. They understand the relationship between food, environment and culture."

Founded in 1992 at a meeting in Nicaragua attended by peasant leaders from several countries, La Via Campesina has grown into a major international movement, according to its website: "Our members are from 56 countries from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas."

The website also declares that, "Food sovereignty is the right of peoples, countries, and state unions to define their agricultural and food policy without the "dumping" of agricultural commodities into foreign countries. Food sovereignty organizes food production and consumption according to the needs of local communities, giving priority to production for local consumption... Food sovereignty and sustainability are a higher priority than trade policies."

In short, as Wiebe said, La Via Campesina is "committed to a system of food for people, not for profit, a system that values food providers, local skills and knowledge, and works with nature." The ultimate goal, for her, is "to heal the planet, so that the planet may heal us."

Penney Kome is an award-winning author and journalist who has published six books with major publishers. She is also the Editor of Straight Goods.

Related addresses:

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Salmon supporters, check out this file and see how much of BC the Dems rule!

Check out this file and see how much of BC the Dems rule! This is proof that the majority of BC supports salmon conservation among other things.

Alexandra Morton's site:

From: June Ross
Sent: May 16, 2009 7:13 AM
To: Strong Communities/Coalitions
Subject: What next?

Is this a court case in the making??
----- Original Message -----
From: Alexandra Morton
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 10:44 AM
Subject: [fishermenlist] What next?


Gordon Campbell locked the doors when I tried to deliver our letter and left us on the street. Campbell has been re-elected and at first I thought this meant BC does not actually want wild salmon, nor their rivers. I began to make plans to give up and get my own life back in order, but then someone forwarded me this map. The ridings with wild salmon and wild salmon rivers, did not actually elect Campbell.

Thousands of people have told me they want wild salmon and have wished me success in this, but at every BC election a handicap is laid on us who are trying to do this. I am writing to say people cannot wave from the sidelines any longer, because we are not succeeding. Wild salmon are going extinct on our watch. Yes, yes climate change will be a factor, but wild salmon are built to survive cataclysmic change in their environment and if we allow their genetic warehouse to rebuild right now, we stand a far better chance of receiving the food and energy this fish brings to us in the years to come.

Grieg Seafood is trying to build two of the biggest fish farms on the coast, on the juvenile salmon migration route for Fraser River and East Vancouver Island stocks, at York Island. Marine Harvest is trying to increase the size of their “farms” coastwide. They are taking me back to court this summer to resolve whether they own their fish in the Canadian Ocean. Atlantic salmon eggs are still being imported into BC, despite the Infectious Salmon Anemia virus popping up everywhere the Norwegian salmon farmers operate. Emamectin benzoate (Slice) is being used in our waters....with no warnings posted during usage...even though the U.S. Food and Drug Agency apparently has a ban on any food products “exposed” to this neurotoxin (Pacific Fishing current issue). This means all of us who are fishing, and harvesting seafood near fish farms have no way to make sure we are not “exposed” to the drug. And the fish feedlots are in violation of many sections of the Fisheries Act.

Not only is there no progress, we are moving backwards.

I am headed to Norway next week, but doubt anyone is listening there either.

I can only see two ways forward.... The courts..... And for us all to step up and say “no more.”

The solution is so simple: Apply the laws of Canada, The Fisheries Act. If the Norwegians can’t comply they should leave. Give the Canadian fish farmers who want to revamp their industry in closed tanks a break in getting set up. Market wild and farm fish to raise the value of both. And restore wild salmon in a way that has never been tried.....adhering to their biology, the natural laws that have caused them to thrive in the first place.

And we need everyone who wants wild salmon to sign this letter. Currently we are at 14,000.....and we are still on the street, this was not enough to even get in the door.

It is up to you guys.

Alexandra Morton

Thursday, May 14, 2009

After a Four Year Hiatus...

Ortiz 10, a fractal image by JMJ

Lotusland Notes is back. Meanwhile I have been just emailing all my interesting media finds to friends and contacts only. If I can get it together, I'll still email and post the articles and comments here.

Why am I doing this? I'm really hoping to create a larger more diverse network, giving and receiving lesser known info for publication! I yearn to create poltical conversation, ideas and action about how "the left" (in the broad general sense of the word) can improve the information flow to the centre and right.

I'm very happy to say that having campaigned around 100 hours for Jenny Kwan's Democrats, she won for her 4th term. I hope you're lucky enough to live in a Dem constituency and remember the Fiberals only got 45% of the popular vote and only bested the Dems by 4%. This IS NOT a clear mandate for them.

Somehow the Dems have to find a way to join with environmentalists and other interests to educate BCer's. There are too many who think that the Fibs are doing what they say and forgetting what they haven't done to fix the province. Let me know your ideas and I'll let you know mine.

We just can't let the Fibs ruin BC in the next 4 years. It's very scary. ["I'm back.....mwa ha ha." ('Gorgon' Campbell)]

Let's ramp up the protest without sounding born again! Lol!

See you around,