Sunday, November 30, 2008

Podunkian Music Club November 30 2008

Bruce Cockburn-- They call it democracy

Ah the smell of revolution is in the air over Ottawa these days, with the coalition forces making their plans to try and shove the current government of the day to the sidelines.

While all the intrigue plays out on Parliament Hill, we'll go looking for a musical soundtrack for the heady times of power and would be power.

We even manage to keep our talent homegrown for our selection tonight, seeking out Bruce Cockburn to offer up a song on behalf of the democratic spirit.

Though we have a feeling that in this instance, he's probably on the side of those forging their coalition, as opposed to those hoping to hang onto their elected jobs by the end of next week.

Then again, if you read the liner notes on the Cockburn project about the song featured today, and check out some of the lyrics from the song:

See the paid-off local bottom feeders
Passing themselves off as leaders
Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
Open for business like a cheap bordello

Then perhaps not any of the above would be his mantra.

At any rate, considering the nature of quasi banana republic debate of late, no better artist to feature on the topic than the fellow who captured much of Central America's political intrigue of the eighties in musical form with such classics as If I had a Rocket launcher.

Always politically aware, there is no better raconteur for the times we think.

Artist-- Bruce Cockburn
Recording-- World of Wonders

A low profile apparently is not on the agenda

After numerous newspaper articles from many Canadian and American newspapers, investigations from a number of radio programs and a pair of CBC television investigations, not to mention a lengthy court trial, Dave Frost is apparently not going to slip quietly into hockey history.

One would think that after a rather public trial which released some of the ugly behind the scenes aspects of the game unvarnished and in lurid detail, that the main participant in the trial would wish to be thankful for his acquittal and find his way to remain out of the spotlight.

For most we suspect that would be so, but for Dave Frost it seems that would not be the case.

The former hockey coach and player agent , who was acquitted last week on sexual exploitation charges involving teenage hockey players has taken his thoughts and opinions to the world wide web.

Frost has apparently launched a website called hockeygodonline (you'll have to do a google search, we're not lending a hand here) a portal to provide his observations on the world of professional hockey.

It will no doubt prove to be a most controversial little corner of the web, considering that in addition to his contributions to the world of blogging, he also has signed up Mike Danton the former NHLer who was convicted a number of years ago of trying to arrange a contract killing of Frost.

The relationship between Frost and Danton has been one of the more tragic and surreal of events of recent hockey history, with Danton having broken off all contact with his family vowing to his allegiance to Frost, all while serving his 7 1/2 year prison sentence in a US prison cell .

As if that twist of intrigue isn't enough, the Frost site also promises up the prospect of a Hockey Hottie” of the month, which is to provide for a photo of a female hockey fan with her favourite hockey sweater on and reportedly not much more.

Considering the recent unseemly charges that he faced and the salacious details of the court case, the Hottie feature seems perhaps the most odious of all the offerings that the site may provide.

We wonder how Ontario Justice Geoffrey Griffin feels about his decision now, if he's picked up a paper and read of Mr. Frost's entrepreneurial plans and his choice of platform to exercise his freedom of speech.
There's no word if there will be a reader feedback forum provided from the Frost homepage, but if so, we would hazard a guess that some of the comments he receives won't be particularly enjoyable to read from his point of view.

Then again perhaps common sense will prevail upon the web and this will be one website that quickly gains that no longer in service display that oh so many deserving efforts on the web receive.
If we're all lucky, the site, like it's creator will soon disappear, purged from our memories, both computer and human.
Canadian Press-- Frost takes to the web
Winnipeg Sun-- Frost walks on charges

Cross posted from the HockeyNation blog

Can Prince Rupert continue to run counter to the west coast port slump?

While the Port of Prince Rupert remains rather bullish about its future, events beyond their control may change the dynamic of the global shipping industry and how it looks at the North coast.

An Article in the San Francisco Chronicle presents some stark details about the current troubles of the west coast port industry of California, Oregon and Washington state. Where the cargo loads are dropping and the competition from the east coast and the US southeast continues to chip away at their once dominant position.

The Chronicle report reviews the declines, which have seen west coast ports suffer their slowest years since 2004, a situation attributed to the competitive nature of the other ports, the declining economy of North America and closure of factories and re-routing of shipments by Asian shipping lines to other destinations.

The report highlights how fast change can come to the industry and is a rather interesting snapshot of where the transportation scene up and down the US West coast is at these days, a situation that will make them very competitive for the remaining trade and eager to return their share to their once thriving levels.

How they handle their declines and decide on how to battle back for it, could have a major impact on the number of containers that pass through the Fairview Terminal. Making for another reminder that Prince Rupert is in a league with the big kids now, a place where the stakes are high and the push for market share always ongoing.

Ship cargo volume slumping at West Coast ports
George Raine, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cargo volume at West Coast ports, after years of being dominant in U.S. maritime trade, is slumping, clearly the result of the worsening global economic crisis but also because Gulf Coast and East Coast ports are gaining favor, shipping industry executives say.

The first priority for the cargo container business, of course, is making good decisions in an economy in which consumers have zipped their wallets, orders are a fraction of what they were in good times, Asian factories are shuttered and unemployment rates are rising.

Long-term infrastructure improvements, including increased rail service and improved trucking conditions - as well as helping to cleanse the air at pollution-heavy, dangerous ports - will be necessary for the West Coast to hold on to market share amid ever-increasing competition from across the country, experts say.

Container cargo volumes moving through the West Coast ports fell again in October, and 2008 is now expected to be the slowest year since 2004, according to the National Retail Federation. Collectively, the decline at West Coast ports is more than 1 million containers so far this year, American Shipper magazine reported.

Down from last year

Through October, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma have handled 17 million TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent units, as the cargo containers are referred to in the industry, a decline of 6.6 percent from the 18 million TEUs processed in the first 10 months of last year.
But even after a recovery, growth in Asian trade is more likely to benefit the Gulf Coast ports, served by the Panama Canal, and the East Coast ports, which handle Southeast Asian cargo routed via the Suez Canal in Egypt, according to the authoritative supply chain adviser Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. of London.

In an article getting considerable attention in the industry, Drewry wrote that while the slowdown in volume along the West Coast "looks like the natural result of the credit squeeze," several factors have combined to undermine the position of the Pacific Coast ports, not the least of which is the complacency and increased rates of U.S. railroads.

Shipping to destinations in the East after goods enter West Coast ports is now more expensive than what is known as the "all-water" route to East Coast and Gulf Coast ports - eliminating rail passage across the country, from West to East, the article notes.

A third set of locks is to open at the Panama Canal by 2014 and, Drewry notes, that will create more transit capacity for container ships using the all-water route linking Asia and the United States.

"Even if growth continues as strongly as it has in recent years, any new trade will probably pass the West Coast by," the article reads. "Volumes are unlikely to decline, but the days of strong growth on the Pacific Coast are behind us."

Michael Jacob, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association in San Francisco, has bought into the idea the West Coast faces daunting structural problems. His trade association represents 60 maritime terminal operators and ocean carriers.

"In the long term, we are seeing the threat of all kinds of issues - issues on steroids," he said. These include "the lack of freight-supporting infrastructure," meaning highway and rail improvements as well as improved port facilities; and pricing, due to fuel, environmental costs, port container fees, and the costs associated with congestion, said Jacob. "Everyone has environmental issues," he said, "but we have them in spades."

In addition, Jacob says that some shippers are choosing an alternative route around California, "investing somewhere else."

He added, "We are actually on the front end of a long-term structural change of business models where people are building their supply chains around California" for goods not destined for California.

At the Port of Oakland, Lawrence Dunnigan, manager of business development and international marketing, agreed that more cargo is moving directly to the East Coast than was the case in past years, but he believes the West Coast remains a viable market that also serves the Midwest. For all its pluses, the Panama Canal route remains an expensive option, Dunnigan said, and far more time-consuming than a 14-day trip from China to the West Coast.

"People are not shutting down warehouses or abandoning the West Coast," he said. "You still have to supply the West Coast."

It is true that the Port of Virginia, the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah and others made infrastructure improvements in recent years, which they accelerated when fuel prices shot up, and that explains some of the volume increase in East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, Dunnigan said.

Savannah thriving

Savannah is particularly aggressive, handling 2.7 million containers each year with the capacity to move more than 6.5 million annually, said Doug Marchand, the executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority. In August, Savannah's year-to-date growth rate was 10 percent, the highest among all the major ports, and ahead of other ports that were also growing quickly at the time, New York-New Jersey (5.7 percent) and Norfolk, Va. (6.5 percent).

By contrast, the Port of Seattle said October volumes dropped 14 percent. Loaded import containers fell 17.4 percent. Tuesday, the port commission approved its 2009 budget, cutting operating expenses by $9 million. Approximately 109 staff positions will go unfilled into the first six months of the year. To the north, the Prince Rupert Port Authority in British Columbia - served by the Canadian National Railway with service to Chicago - said its container traffic increased 281 percent in the third quarter, compared with the first quarter.

Also on the West Coast, the Port of Long Beach, the nation's second largest, was down 7.7 percent in October and the Port of Los Angeles, the nation's largest, was off 3.9 percent from October 2007.
Global economy's impact

The Port of Los Angeles said, "The global economy continues to play a role in our drop in cargo volume. Exports have declined due to the stronger dollar. Retail sales are down, which naturally affect the import of new goods. We anticipate seeing this trend continue for the remainder of the year."

The Port of Oakland - recently bumped from fourth largest in the nation to fifth by the Georgia Ports Authority's facility at Savannah - is far more balanced between imports and exports and so is less affected by the falloff in imports than other major ports. So far this year, Oakland is down 6.4 percent in imports but up 4.4 percent in exports.

That's still a red number Oakland wants to go away, but recovery is not at hand.

"Certainly 2009 is looking very bleak. That is the word I have heard several times," Dunnigan said.

A softening of port business on the West Coast is not only in part due to the precipitous downturn and increasing attractiveness of alternate cargo routes, but to financial challenges ocean carriers face at California ports, said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and shipping policy at the National Retail Federation.

"People are looking at the business environment surrounding California right now," said Gold, referring to container fees being imposed by ports, and expenses related to cleaner truck programs and other fees. "They're making decisions on whether to use California ports or other ports."

Gold added, "They are trying to balance the risk in the supply chain, trying to look and see how they get the best advantage," including considering Canadian and Mexican ports.

Moreover, said Gold, the 2002 labor dispute at the West Coast ports - when workers were locked out and the ports shut for 10 days after the workers staged a slowdown when contract talks stalled - also influenced decisions to ship around the West Coast this year.

A new contract was negotiated and agreed to July 28, but before the ink was dry, merchants "wanted to hedge their bets" and "did not want to get caught as they did back in 2002," having all their eggs in the baskets of the West Coast ports, Gold said.

"There is new leadership for the employers (the Pacific Maritime Association, representing ocean carriers and terminal operators) and the union (the International Longshore and Warehouse Union) and we kept hearing a deal would get done, but until we saw the deal in place, there was doubt out there," said Gold.

At the ILWU in San Francisco, Craig Merrilees, the spokesman, said "some of the employer groups whipped up their members into a paranoid lather urging companies to spend all sorts of extra time and money to reroute their cargo when it was not necessary."

He added, "Most observers who follow the industry saw there was little or no probability of repeat of the 2002 fiasco."

But even with a new, improved contract, ILWU members are working fewer hours, feeling the effects of the slowdown like most everyone else.

'Unprecedented' conditions

Ron Widdows, the chief executive of Neptune Orient Lines Limited, the parent of APL, its container shipping arm, put it succinctly Nov. 19 when he announced a reduction of 1,000 positions worldwide; the closure of the APL office in Oakland, affecting 350 people, some of whom will relocate to an office in a more "cost-effective" location in another state; and other adjustments when he said, "The negative conditions we are seeing in the marketplace are unprecedented in our industry's history."

Widdows added, "This reflects our considered view that what we are seeing goes beyond a normal cyclical downturn." He said he anticipated further deterioration in trading conditions and described the outlook for profitability in 2009 as "grim." As evidence, APL is taking 20 of the 130 cargo ships in its fleet out of service.

Said APL spokesman Mike Zampa, "When we come out of this, we will look different. Leaner. Absolutely. Not all carriers have paid close attention to their cost structure. In the end, some of them operate services that are not profitable. That can't happen any longer."

And in the beginning, there was a guy named Burke

A driver, a car and all the trappings of power, just one of the many observations from Hockey Night in Canada’s Burkefest on Saturday, an interesting bit of reporting that followed the Day One travels of the newly announced arrival (and departure for the HNIC studios) of the Moses of the hockey set.

On Saturday night Burke was shown walking through the caverns of the Air Canada Centre, stepping into a nice shiny black car and with a wave to the cameras was off for an audience with Ron McLean, ready to deliver the first of what the CBC hope will be many sermons from Mount Maple Leaf on a Saturday night.

The Burke era in Toronto officially got underway on Saturday, first with the official announcement and press conference in the early afternoon, followed by his pre game appearance on Hockey Night in Canada’s preview show.

We learned that his teams are tenacious and tough, that there are key players and plumbers alike all to contribute to greater good. If any immediate changes are on his mind they will take place fast, as he has set a Christmas armistice on trades starting in early December, so as not to disrupt the players and their families during the Christmas holidays.

There have been many references to religious like devotion to the Leafs in the last few days, Burke himself describing the Leafs job as though a position at the Vatican. Which we guess makes him the Pope of Hockey; we assume he’s being measured for robes as we write this.

Of course, now that the announcement has been made and the blessings delivered, it’s time to get to work. The Leafs have been so far removed from any form of competitive bid for Lord Stanley’s Mug that it will take more than a few months to become a serious contender.

Still, in a town that is desperate for some sort of sign that the right path has finally been chosen, there will be a lot riding on the arrival of Burke. He brings a reputation of success from Anaheim, and as one of the key architects of a Vancouver team that came as close as any in that city’s NHL history to claiming a Stanley Cup.

Brash, occasionally combative and a gold mine for media quotes, he will certainly change the nature of the Maple Leafs, take no abuse from the Toronto Media and demand a lot from his players and coaches.

It truly will be a new era for the normally farcical nature of the Maple Leafs, a long overdue arrival of a well known NHL icon to guide one of the league’s most challenging and important of franchises.

It’s as they say the Big Show for Burke now, Vancouver was a big step in his career, crafting a team in a hockey mad market with a rather competitive media scene, Anaheim was where he found success in the form of a Cup, though the achievement was hidden for the most part in the malls and canyons of Orange County.
In Toronto, he trades the anonymity of California for the fishbowl existence of Canada’s largest city.

He’ll find that the media spotlight, like it was in Vancouver will be intense, every moved observed, every word parsed, examined and digested.

The simple task of getting into a shiny black car to drive to a television studio examined as though Patton has crossed the Rhine.

It’s by far his biggest step thus far in his NHL career, if he succeeds in turning around the Leafs he very well may qualify for Papal status and perhaps sainthood beyond.

If he fails, he’ll probably understand intimately exactly how the days of the Spanish Inquisition played out.

For Day one, all was well in Leafland, while they're new boss watched from the executive suite, the Leafs defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in a convincing style, stopping a five game losing skid with a 4-2 victory for the home folk.

A nice little welcoming gift for the new boss, and a trend that they will want to continue with if they hope to keep working for him in the future.

Globe and Mail-- Burke officially joins Maple Leafs
Globe and Mail-- Leafs show some fight
National Post-- Burke settles into his hockey "dream job"
National Post-- Burke watches Leafs end five-game skid
Toronto Sun-- Lessons from Burke C.I.
Toronto Sun-- Burke 'perfect guy' for Toronto
Toronto Sun-- Man, myth, legend
Toronto Star-- Burke takes helm of Maple Leafs
Toronto Star-- Leaf players hope to be part of better days
Toronto Star-- When Wasting Time Might Be Worth It
Toronto Star-- Burke's no genius on draft
Toronto Star-- Best or worst yet to come for Leafs?

Cross Posted from the HockeyNation blog

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cullen unimpressed with Conservatives handling of financial issues

Underlining some of the drama in Ottawa this weekend, NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley Nathan Cullen outlined some of his concerns about the possible options that the Conservatives were planning to introduce in Ottawa this past week.

Making his comments prior to the recent financial statement of Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (which contributed to the current political crisis in Ottawa), his commentary to the Daily News seems to presage some of the debate that has been boiling in Ottawa this weekend.

With the developments of the last few days potentially leading to a constitutional crisis, it will be of interest to learn more of his thoughts on the raging debate taking place in the capital.

His pre controversy thoughts appeared in Friday`s Daily News.

Tories fail to impress MP with financial initiatives
Nathan Cullen has been banging areas drum

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, November 28, 2008

Page three

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen attacked the Conservative federal government saying the Conservative government had played politics with the national budget, which he believed would send the country in to a significant deficit.

Cullen spoke before finance minister Jim Flaherty revealed his mini-budget in the House of Commons in Ottawa, and said he did not expect this budget to do a lot for Northwest residents, even though he has been banging the riding's drum.

"We know that reforming the Employment Insurance system is a huge problem right now and there is no - and I mean no - strategy for small and medium business coming from this government. They just haven't got a clue," said Cullen.

"The current buzz around the house is all about what kind of assistance is going to be there for the economy. Is it going to be a real stimulus package kick-starting the economy? Or is it going to be more of the same from the government?" wondered Cullen before the package was unveiled.

Cullen said he has been "laser-focused" getting the riding's interests on the political table, claiming that B.C.'s Northwest had already been through a recession during the last eight years.
"We have lost a lot of jobs and had to find ways to stimulate the economy - we know what real investment looks like, and it's not simply another tax cut because for a company that is on the brink or going under, taxes are not its biggest concern," said Cullen.

Cullen blamed the Conservative government for having spent too much and collected too little after they cut the GST in 2006.

"I sense that because of the election cycle and wanting to buy voters with their own money, they have been making a lot of promises and haven't had the effect on the economy they would have hoped," said Cullen.

Flaherty said he would rein in government spending by eliminating the $1.75 per vote taxpayer subsidy given to political parties who collect more than 2 per cent of a federal election vote.
Flaherty added that he would hold wage increases to public servants, including MPs and senators, to 2.3 per cent for last year and 1.5 per cent for each of the next three years; and bring in legislation to stop them from striking until 2010-11.

He also promised to cut spending on government travel, hospitality, conferences, exchanges and political services.

Cullen said he thought Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's plan to cut tax subsidies for political parties was wrong, which makes up 52 per cent of the NDP's budget versus 37 per cent for the Conservatives. For more on this see Monday's paper.

"This is the same government that increased their cabinet budget by $4.5 million, one of the largest cabinets in history, for no good reason," said Cullen. "The reason we have this in place is to take special interests out of politics, so that people couldn't buy elections and politicians."

We can hear you now...

Rogers has completed their expansion project along the Highway 16 corridor, announcing this week that the entire highway from Prince George to Prince Rupert is now in full operation, taking away the remaining dead zones that were in place during the introduction of Rogers service to the Northwest and Bulkley Valley regions.

Rogers has invested some 10 million dollars in its infrastructure for the region, providing some competition to the region and providing a vote of confidence in the future prospects for the communities along Highway 16.

The Daily News shared the details of the Rogers press release with a piece in Friday's paper.

Cell phone blackspots driven off the road
The Daily News
Friday, November 28, 2008
Page one

Drivers making the long treacherous drive in the winter on Highway 16 will no longer be doing so alone as Rogers Wireless announced that it will be providing full cell phone coverage to the highway from Prince Rupert to Prince George.

Rogers announced Thursday that it has completed the expansion of its world-standard GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) wireless voice and data network along the corridor between Prince George and Prince Rupert. The announcement marks the culmination of the company's recent $10 million investment in Northern British Columbia, which has made the Canadian wireless network accessible to residents and travellers along this key business route.

"Part of strengthening the economy of Northern British Columbia is investing in communications infrastructure," said Premier Gordon Campbell. "I appreciate Rogers' investment in connecting the communities from Prince George to Prince Rupert, and helping us to grow the economic opportunities in Northern B.C."

"Our goal with this network expansion is to offer a clearer choice to people living, working and travelling in Northern B.C.," said Gordon Nelson, vice president for Rogers in B.C.

"We are very pleased to bring our leading-edge wireless services to this expanding corridor of business, which is so important to the economy of British Columbia."

Not only does this expansion enable travellers on Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George to stay connected, but it also provides residents of Kitimat, Smithers, the Hazelton area, Houston and Terrace with access to the Rogers network. In addition to the Highway 16 expansion project, Rogers also recently invested a further $5 million to fill in coverage along Highway 97 between Prince George and Kamloops.

However, the positive announcement comes with one slight problem. It is not thought that the cell phone coverage will extend to Port Simpson or Metlakatla for now.
A call was made to clarify the situation with Rogers but it was not retuned as of press time.

North coast visit a priority for new Fisheries Minister

Providing the drama currently underway in Ottawa doesn’t take her job away, Gail Shea the newly minted Minister of Fisheries and Oceans hopes to visit the North coast in short order to learn more about the issues of the Pacific fishery.

She outlined her thoughts after Nathan Cullen, the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley spoke in the House of Commons about the state of the North Coast fishery and the crisis situation that the resources of the north coast face.

Cullen is hopeful that the Minister (if she’s still that by next week) will be visiting the North Coast in January to learn first hand of the troubles that face both fishermen, shore workers and plant owners up and down the coast.

For those looking for good omens and such, the new fish minister apparently likes to fish, a welcome change we suspect from some of the more recent holders of the job who seemed rather ill at ease not only with the industry, but the actual concept of throwing a line out in the water.

The Daily News featured the hopeful travel plans of Minister Shea as the front page headline story in Friday’s paper.

Gail Shea says she will come to Prince Rupert soon - maybe as early as January
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, November 28, 2008
Page one

Following up on comments he made to The Daily News earlier this week, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen stood up in Parliament yesterday to request that newly appointed Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea make a trip to Prince Rupert.

Cullen informed the House of B.C.'s depleted wild salmon stocks and identified salmon quotas and Employment Insurance reform as the two most critical areas of change needed to assist fish stocks and industry workers.

"On the North Coast of British Columbia we have lost upwards of 80 per cent of our commercial fishing fleet in the last seven years," Cullen told Shea, a Prince Edward Island MP.

"We have watched the decimation of fish stocks and the mishandling of the entire industry by a department in which decisions are made by bureaucrats here in Ottawa while dozens of on-the-ground officers are being cut."

He went on to ask the minister if she was willing to consider the fundamental reforms that are required for the fishing industry, and whether she was willing to visit coastal communities like Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii to talk to the people affected by management decisions.

Shea replied that she is committed to visiting the West Coast "as soon as possible," and pointed to "sustainability, economic viability and consultation" as her "guiding principles" for managing her new department.

Cullen said yesterday afternoon that he spoke with Shea outside the House, and she again confirmed that visiting B.C.'s North Coast and talking to fishermen was a priority for her in the near future. Shea also told him she wasn't afraid to "shake things up" within the DFO, and run sustainable fisheries as part of a sustainable economy.

Following their conversation Cullen is now much more optimistic than earlier in the week, and said they both agreed that addressing Canadian fishery issues was far more important than political differences they may have.

"We're hoping for January, but we've got to work with her schedule and get her some time out there," said Cullen.

"She also likes to fish, so I've got to set up some fishing for her as well."

Ottawa machinations make for a case of Political calculation, or a Political coup?

The Nation’s capital is all abuzz this weekend over a potential opposition bid to become the government by next week, sooner if they could find a way.

The Liberals and NDP, all with cabinet positions dancing in their heads are mobilizing the forces to potentially take their case to the Governor General, offering up themselves as our humble servants over the current government of the day the Conservatives.

The incubation of the political calculations came about during the recent financial statement by the Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty, a little fireside chat in the Commons that has lit a fire under the combined opposition benches, providing for the possibility of a rather rare thing in Canadian politics these days, a coalition government, with the currently ruling Conservatives standing on the outside.

From a bit of political grandstanding by Stephen Harper to eliminate public funding of election campaigns, the fires of political revolution have been stoked. The plan, a poorly timed bit of bar knuckle politicking that has surely backfired on him, has proven to be a rather derided bit of politics, finding political observers and commentators bemoaning the prospect of another election, based on a non confidence motion to come over the financial statement.

While that would be the normal course of action after a successful non confidence motion, the Governor General may decide that these far too frequent trips to the polls of late are causing irreparable harm to the fabric of the nation and give her cause to call upon the Opposition Liberals to form a government, aided by their new friends of the NDP and the always eager to throw a wrench into things Bloc Quebecois.

To that possibility word has come that a few voices of the past have entered the debate, as Ed Broadbent and Jean Chretien have apparently been negotiating the terms of coalition between the two parties, a trip down memory lane (and a shotgun wedding aisle) that many Canadians might have thought had ended back in the eighties.

Having apparently realized that he’s put his foot in it, the Prime Minister (for today and tomorrow anyways) has been busy backtracking, advising that the controversial political funding issue won’t be added onto the Bill when it comes up for debate, and going a bit further by delaying the debate on the Bill and any further opposition days until December 8th, hoping we suspect to avoid the need to book movers for the month of December.

Not to be outflanked by Harper, the Liberatic coalition is now suggesting that other parts of Flaherty’s statement are equally odious, from the smack around offered up by the political funding debate, they also don't like his stimulus package and aren't thrilled with the government's bid to ban public service strikes among other items of note.

The only problem with the whole change of command scenario being proposed by the Liberatics, besides that lack of electoral participation in deciding who shall govern us, is the fact that the Liberals are a rather disorganized mess in the leadership department these days.

Stephane Dion has become a lame duck leader that nobody seems to want to have hanging around. There are but two serious contenders for the leadership Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae, how the Liberals decide who will be our Prime Minister come revolution day is one of the great mysteries of politics, perhaps out of er, left field, Jack Layton will actually get to live that slogan he was quite fond of repeating during the most recent campaign “When I’m Prime Minister.....”.

It’s all rather banana republish if you give it a thought, two parties that couldn’t win enough votes to form a government and spent a good portion of the last campaign bad mouthing each other, suddenly find common ground and start measuring for drapes.

One of them, trying to throw the old leader out the door while still trying to figure out who should lead them into the next era of Liberalism, this crew can't figure out what they want to be as a party, yet they feel they can lead the nation at a moment's notice, it all is to make you shake your head.

The Prime Minister too has proven to be less than on the ball, instead of fixing his gaze on the economic crisis that is starting to grip the nation, he instead decides to play a little hard ball politics and to kick some sand at his opponent’s at the most inopportune time. His political blunder does deserve all the embarrassment that is coming his way, but with such huge issues to be taken care, of one would have thought that political opportunism would have been put on the shelf from all sides.

For this kind of nonsense we pay them their generous salaries and entitlements?

One feels sorry for the Governor General currently on a tour of Eastern Europe but reportedly keeping the constitutional monarchy jet fueled and ready to return if the crisis turns into a larger farce.

It’s hard to say how this will all play out over the next eight days, whether the Harper Conservatives manage to survive, or if the fanciful dreams of power of the Liberals and NDP (and incredibly a few Bloquistes as well) come to pass.

Personally, if the government falls we should be asked to go back to the polls, it’s damn inconvenient and will only lead to more disillusionment with the way our government works, but no government should be formed by backroom alliances and a craven lust for power.

The voters should always have the final say, as annoying as it will be to trudge through the winter cold and as childish as our elected representatives seem to be. The last word, as always should belong to the Canadian public.

The folks we send to Ottawa sometimes seem to forget that they are working for us, more interested in their own self interests than in the greater good of the nation at times. And if asked once again, perhaps we can send a stronger message to all that seek our vote. After all when you think about, we’re the boss as they say, and it should be up to us to decide who gets hired or fired…

Any other way of doing business isn’t particularly right for a democracy and is making our brand of it rather a farce at the moment.

We're tempted to quote Forrest Gump on all of this, for all our politicians making a mess of things in Ottawa these days we offer up the astute observation that , "Stupid is, as stupid does", that seems to sum it all up quite nicely.

Below, some reading material to help you get up to speed and cover the days to come of our dance with political anarchy.

Salmon issues prove to be sticking point in Treaty negotiations

The BC Treaty Commission pointed its finger at the Federal Government this week, suggesting that the path of progress in the negotiations is being held up by the issue of salmon allocation, which the Treaty Commission has no say over.

Treaty Commissioner Robert Phillips detailed his frustration over the federal mandates of DFO, which have not so far provided any direction for the Commission to work with in regards to local First Nations and fisheries negotiations.

The issue of fishing has become a huge stumbling block to the progress of the negotiations, a sample of which was presented in Thursday's Daily News.

'Salmon sticking point for treaty'
Future allocations of resource said to be stumbling block to deals
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Pages one and five

The BC Treaty Commission claimed Wednesday that the federal government is holding back treaty negotiations because the organization does not have permission to forward salmon allocations as part of any deal.

And one commissioner said such hold-ups are hurting negotiations with North Coast First Nations.

"Some of the issues that (North Coast First Nations) have are the federal fisheries mandate - that there is no mandate on the side of the Department of Fisheries - and, basically, we have hit a wall on the issue of fisheries negotiations for the three parties," said treaty commissioner Robert Phillips.

In its annual report, the commission said that progress was much too slow on treaty negotiations because First Nations expectations on the deals "appear much greater than currently supported by either the government of Canada or B.C."

Phillips said fishing had become a huge stumbling block.

Because of the cultural, social and food value of fisheries and the lack of willingness from the federal government to consider fisheries as part of the negotiation process, negotiations did not appear to be moving as fast as they could, said the commission.

Of particular note, the commission said that it would have to progress with separate negotiations for each Tsimshian tribe so that individual requirements of each community would be addressed.
In the annual report, acting Chief Commissioner Jody Wilson said that the treaty commission had requested, and would insist, that the federal government set a firm timetable for obtaining a fish mandate and for finding a solution that recognizes and protects the historic and continuing aboriginal right to fish.

Phillips said that negotiations with Haida Nation, which are currently at 'stage three' are ongoing and they are working on land use planning. The report noted the Council of the Haida Nation and British Columbia had been negotiating land protection, forestry and revenue sharing, and the Haida role in land use planning and decision-making.

"With Haida of course, there are some negotiations going. Hopefully, they will get to an agreement in principle at some time," said Phillips.

When it comes to Lax Kw'alaams, the commission said that there has been no tripartite activity at this table since mid-2005 when the Treaty Commission accepted the Statement of Intent of the Allied Tribes of Lax Kw'alaams.

Although the First Nation and British Columbia has completed its 'stage two' readiness requirements, Canada is still reviewing the impact of fisheries litigation brought by Lax Kw'alaams on potential treaty negotiations.

North Coast MLA finds Bill 45 comes up short for the northwest

Gary Coons is making the best of the session that almost wasn't, as he takes the government to task over what he believes are missed opportunities for the North coast.

Expressing his concern over the lack of financial incentives for health care, addiction services and expanded funding for further development of the Fairview Container Port, the North Coast MLA found himself at odds with both the Speaker and the Minister of Housing over the issues that he raised in the Legislature this week.

Thursday's Daily News outlined the debating points on Bill 45 and how Coons approached the discussion on the issues he finds key to the North Coast.

Economic package misses mark for MLA
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, November 27, 2008

North Coast MLA Gary Coons took the provincial government to task on its 10-point economic stimulus package Tuesday in the mini, five-day assembly held specifically to debate the package.
The Economic Incentives and Stabilization Statutes Amendment Act, or Bill 45, introduced by Finance Minister Colin Hansen, is being debated in house this week.

Coons argued that the package did not go far enough to address local concerns about the Fairview Container port expansion, North Coast health issues, and he pointed out that the property assessment freeze was not the subject of consultations with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities before it was introduced.

"The opportunity was there to look at dealing with mental health and addiction services. In the riding that I come from, up in Prince Rupert - whether it's in Prince Rupert, Queen Charlotte Islands, the Central Coast, Bella Bella, Bella Coola or Stewart - there's a desperate need for help," said Coons.

Coons, who was told by the speaker of the house on numerous occasions to keep on topic, continued to argue that Bill 45 could have made an impact on the health care services along the North Coast but that Premier Gordon Campbell missed the opportunity.

"When we look at the Economic Incentives and Stabilization Statutes Amendment Act, that could have come in there to help stabilize some of the drug and addiction programs throughout the province," said Coons.

Minister for Housing Rich Coleman responded to Coons, saying that the new plan had made a commitment to housing, health and infrastructure.

"Go look at the budget, members. Go look at the budget. The budget has money in there for education. The budget has money in there for health care. The budget has the money in there to do this," said Coleman.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Farewells and memories in Port Edward

"Ten per cent of what Ed has done ... that's what we should all aspire to be." -- Former Prince Rupert councillor Tony Briglio outlinging some of the traits of former Port Edward Mayor Ed Wampler...

The final session for the session for the district of Port Edward council took place on Tuesday night, a night that was complete with farewells to departing councillors and heavy on memories of the long time fixture of the District who was the architect of much of what the District has achieved.

Beyond the heart felt thanks to councillor Christine MacKenzie for her service to the community, the night was filled with the memories of Ed Wampler, the former Mayor who passed away this fall.

The entire Port Ed council was on hand for the commemorations as well as a number of Prince Rupert council members who were in attendance to share their own memories of Mayor Ed and his steadfast dedication to Port Edward and the North coast.

The Daily News featured a review of the night's commemoration in Thursday's paper.
Port Ed council awash in tearful farewells
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Pages one and three

It was an emotional night inside Port Edward council chambers Tuesday evening. And by the time Mayor Dave MacDonald asked for adjournment, there wasn't a dry eye in the building.
In similar fashion to what transpired at Prince Rupert City Council Monday evening, Tuesday was all about change.

But it also felt like the end of an era, as the new council prepared for life after former mayor Ed Wampler, who passed away in September.

Council also offered heart-felt farewells to outgoing councillor Chistine MacKenzie, who ran for the mayor's position and lost out to MacDonald.

"You took a lot of the pressure off me when I wasn't there," said MacDonald, before he presented MacKenzie with flowers. "You did a lot for us over the six years."

Coun. James Brown added: "We learned a lot from Ed, and we learned a lot from you ... and you kept us in line."

A teary-eyed MacKenzie replied: "That's what us women do."

But the most emotional presentation of the evening came next, as council prepared to commemorate the life of Wampler, who was Mayor from 1993 to 2005, and a member of Port Edward council for 22 years.

Wampler had said all along that this term would be his last term in office, and the district had been planning to present Wampler with "Freeman of the City" upon the conclusion of his term.
Instead, the district of Port Edward took the time at the meeting Tuesday night to present the Freeman of the City to Wampler's family, many of whom were in attendance at the meeting, including his wife Dolly, and his son Rick.

"This is a hard night for Port Edward," said MacDonald. "We're going to miss a friend ... but we also lost a friend.

"We all have such admiration for Ed. We were hoping Ed would be here for this."
MacDonald then read the inscription on the commemorative plaque.

"Be it known to all persons that the district of Port Edward has proclaimed Ed Wampler a freeman of the city," he said. "This is presented to Ed Wampler for his 22 years of dedicated service to the district of Port Edward."

MacDonald then reminded everyone how much Wampler had done for the district and the North Coast in general.

"We're all proud of Port Edward, and Ed had a lot to do with that," he said. "It was important to Ed that Port Ed was mentioned everywhere we went."

Chief Administrative Officer Ron Bedard added that the wall behind where Wampler used to sit as a councillor would eventually be turned into a commemorative wall celebrating Wampler's life, but that this would have to wait until the roof was fixed.

All Port Edward councilors, including the newly elected Knut Bjorndahl and Dan Franzen, were on-hand, as well as a handful of Prince Rupert councillors and outgoing Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond.

"Congratulations to Port Edward for this first step," said Pond. "A wall is a terrific idea, and it couldn't start with a better name than Mayor Ed."

Outgoing Prince Rupert councillor Tony Briglio also had some emotional words to offer in the memory of Wampler.

"Ed's last words to me were 'Tony, I think I did my share.' And I said, 'Ed, you've done more than your share. If I can do even 10 per cent of what you did, I would be a good man,'" said Briglio.

"Ten per cent of what Ed has done ... that's what we should all aspire to be."

Coun. Murray Kristoff summed it up by saying: "(Ed) could have chosen to live anywhere (later in life), but he chose to live in Port Ed. He started things for his family in Port Edward, and he finished things here in Port Ed.

"That meant a lot to me, and that's what makes him special."

Rick Wampler, on behalf of the family, thanked the council for their kind words, and said that it's still tough for the family to deal with the loss.

"I still struggle, we all still struggle," he said. "But we're pleased that everyone received him so well."

The new Port Edward council will be sworn in on Dec. 1.

SunWave officials surface long enough to process an appeal

While the days of pulp and paper making seem far in the past, the ghosts of Watson Island continue to appear from time to time.

We haven’t seen, nor heard much from China and the SunWave ownership group lately, the owners and would be operators of the mothballed Skeena pulp mill having kept a rather low profile in the last year or so.

However, it seems there’s nothing like a tax bill to get someone’s attention.

Sun Wave’s management has put in an appeal with the BC Property Assessment Appeal Board seeking a hearing on the recent assessment of the property for 2008.

There has yet to be a date issued for the appeal, but city officials suggest that it will carry through into 2009 and most likely won’t be resolved until the summer.

The Sun Wave situation continues to carry a cost to the City of Prince Rupert of around six million dollars, however the City’s Chief Financial Officer, Dan Rodin says any decision by the Assessment Appeal board won’t impact on the city’s finances.

The background on the Sun Wave appeal was provided n Thursday’s Daily News

Pulp Mill’s owners ask assessors to lower value
Sun Wave Forest Products appealing through a hearing
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, November27, 2008
Page two

The owners of the Watson Island pulp mill are appealing the mill's property tax assessment.

SunWave Forest Products, a subsidiary of the China Paper Group that also goes by the name China Pulp and paper - a subsidiary itself to the China : trade International Holding Co. - is the sole owner of the property.

That company has booked a hearing with the BC Property Assessment Appeal Board. The city has not yet been informed of the date when that hearing will take place.

According to the city's chief financial Officer, Dan Rodin, while it is not known when the hearing will happen, it should not impact the city's finances.

Rodin said at Monday's special council meeting that finances are healthy even with the $6 million weight of the Watson Island pulp mill still tied to it's neck.

Rodin said he expected the Sun Wave property appeal to roll over into next year, meaning no resolution should be expected before the summer.

"Other than that, we are doing well," said Rodin. "We've made sufficient provisions, we believe, for any kind of an assessment that SunWave gets."

Councillor Kathy Bedard wondered if the conservative assessment of the property taxes that the city would receive from SunWave was included in the reserve figures.

Rodin said that it was part of the reserve side of city budgeting.

"The numbers you have there, we are very confident that we'll do that or at least better by the end of the year once this issue with SunWave gets resolved," said Rodin.

The city is expected to transfer an extra $2.55 million into reserves meaning the city will be building up its finances, according to outgoing Mayor Herb Pond.

The amended budget finalized on Oct. 31, predicts the city will collect $13.2 million in tax revenues from residents and business.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

West coast fishery stakeholders anxious to meet the new minister

The decision of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to appoint yet another Atlantic Canadian to the position of Fisheries Minister isn’t receiving much in the way of support from opposition members based in British Columbia.

Both Liberal and NDP MP’s based on the west coast are questioning if Gail Shea is the right person for the job at this time of crisis in the fishery. Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen expressed concern over the tradition of optimists that head into the portfolio eventually overwhelmed by the DFO bureaucracy and rendered invisible when the major issues come to the forefront.

The Daily News outlined the details on Shea’s appointment and the feedback from the west coast that she can expect until concrete steps are taken to address the many issues of the fishery.

The story was the front page, headline feature in Thursday’s paper.

Gail Shea being urged to visit West Coast to find out first-hand about local problems
BY Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, November 27,
Pages one and two

With nearly every fisheries group on Canada's Northwest coast in agreement that management changes are desperately needed across all sectors, it would reason that there could not be a better time for the appointment of a new Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

But Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to appoint a rookie Member of Parliament, Prince Edward Island's Egmont MP Gail Shea, to the cabinet position has both NDP and Liberal MPs in British Columbia wondering if she was the best choice.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said he always tries to remain an optimistic person, but having another Fisheries Minister from the East Coast does not initially fill him with hope.

"We have a new minister, untested and from the East Coast, going into that hornets' nest that is the DFO, who will try and warp her into the same mold they've warped every other
Fisheries Minister into," said Cullen.

"Hope might win out over experience here and she'll actually bring some of her own intelligence to bear and not just do what the department tells her, but it hasn't been the tradition and this is not a high-profile minister at all."

Before being elected federally last month, Shea had been a Member of the Prince Edward Island Legislature for Tignish-DeBlois since 2000.

In that role, she was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party, during which time she served as Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs (2000-03) and Minister of Transportation and Public Works (2003 - 2007).

This past Friday was the global celebration of World Fisheries Day.

Minister Shea took the opportunity to release her first statement in her new cabinet role.

Highlighting the importance of maintaining healthy Canadian fish stocks as a vital component of the Canadian economy and the livelihood of many Canadian families, Minister Shea said Canada will always led by example when it comes to the sustainable management of fisheries.

"Canada also continues to play a leadership role when it comes to strengthening international guide: lines for the management of deep sea fisheries in the high seas, which is crucial to conserving and rebuilding fish stocks in the world's oceans," said Shea.

"Our government will continue to protect a sustainable fishery through enforcement of conservation rules and management measures."

Cullen said that he and other MPs are going to hand-deliver an invitation to Shea, inviting her out to their West Coast ridings so that she can see the fishing industry first-hand and form a better understanding of the issues facing B.C. fishermen.

"That's going to be our first approach, and then we'll get into the specifics of the reforms that are needed," said Cullen.

"Unless she wants to be tagged as an 'East Coast-only Fisheries Minister' she's going to have to get on the plane and maybe get on a boat or two."

Port Authority optimistic over tone of discussion with Metlaktla

While they aren't saying very much about the details, or giving any kind of indication as to how it may all work out, the Prince Rupert Port Authority is expressing a bit of optimism that the negotiations with the Metlakatla First Nation are progressing forward.

The Port's impressions of the pace of discussion seems to tie into that of Metlkatla's, that after the First Nation community's leaders expressed optimism in a successful resolution to their concerns, perhaps as early as the end of this year.

The Daily News outlined the Port's position in Wednesday's paper.

Port shares Metlakatla's optimism over an agreement
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pages one and three

The Prince Rupert Port Authority is staying mum over the details of negotiations between the Metlakatla First Nation band and the port, though the general sentiment is that they are optimistic an agreement will be reached.

How soon is another matter, as the PRPA would not be pinned down on definitives, but according to PRPA's Director of Communications Barry Bartlett, the port is feeling good about the negotiations moving forward.

"Generally, our position on that is that the PRPA is in a discussion with the Coast Tsimshian and we remain optimistic that we can reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial," said Bartlett.
Bartlett said that because the discussion was still ongoing the port would remain working quietly.
Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams, known collectively as Coast Tsimshian, have been in litigation with the federal government since 2005 when they considered the federal government failed to consult with them when it approved Phase 1 of the Fairview Terminal Expansion.

The bands have concerns about Phase two of the port expansion because they fear it will disrupt archeological remains that prove the Coast Tsimshian have been on Kaien Island for 5,000 years.

Numerous archaeologists including Dr. George MacDonald, OC, founding director of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and director of the Bill Reid Centre at Simon Fraser University, said archaeological sites at Prince Rupert harbour are unique on the West Coast of North America in terms of the volume of middens, cultural artifacts, and human remains.

Since the beginning of litigation, the port has been in discussion with the Coast Tsimshian seeking an agreement that would include environmental concerns, employment opportunities and archeological protection.

On Monday, Metlakatla chief Harold Leighton reported that he expected an agreement between the port and Metlakatla to be reached by the end of the year. When pressed, Bartlett remained firm that he could not divulge the port's view at this time.

"The negotiations are about their (Metlakatla's) expectations but we really can't comment on that at this time," repeated Bartlett.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

PRSS Students to take stand against bullying

Last week saw teachers and school officials across the country seek to stop a campaign of bullying that had spread through the nation, after a Facebook posting that was based on a recent re-run of a South Park television show episode urged teens to kick red headed students.

The "Kick a Ginger" campaign, was not nipped as quickly as most would hope and more than a few students suffered the cruelty of mob mentality, resulting in educators seeking ways to address the issue with their students in a constructive manner.

It's that sense of bullying that is being addressed on Thursday at Prince Rupert Secondary School, as students will show that they are taking a stand against the problem, by wearing red to school.

The students and staff are also urging Prince Rupert residents to do likewise in as a way of showing support and expressing concern over the lack of compassion that can be generated as quickly as a click on a computer can post a hateful message.

The Daily News offered up a couple of offerings on the issue, with a story from page one and an editorial page offering from Monica Lamb-Yorski. There has also been a forum page created on hackingthemainframe for those that wish to discuss the issue on the local bulletin board.

Students hit back at prejudice
City youths highlight bullying and vow to stand up against it
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Pages one and five

A group of teens at Prince Rupert Senior Secondary believe that having red hair, being light-skinned or having freckles is not a problem at all.

On Thursday, four teens will become leaders and gladly clad themselves in red to show support not just for red-headed people but all people who have at one point or another felt discriminated against.

Stevie Shaw, Austyn Vetissimo, Kate McWilliams and Jaidan Ward are their names and they want all of Prince Rupert, not just PRSS students, to take part.

"I have red hair and my family all has red hair and it's just hit home base with me and it's not necessary," said Ward, who is very proud of his hair and is hoping others are too.

An episode of South Park portrayed character Eric Cartman as a zealous, hateful child who enjoys spreading the message of the 'evilness' of gingers, a derogatory term used to describe those with red hair.

After the show a resulting Facebook group triggered "Kick-a-Ginger day", and a swarm of attacks against red-headed children across Canada was ushered in. But this small group of teenagers united to say that the world is emphasizing far too much on the negative aspects of culture, and that the recent spate of "kick-a-ginger" is not only cruel, but absolutely underselling the capacity for adolescent morality.

"I think it kind-of teaches kids that it is okay to be really a harsh, cruel person towards people of different ethnicities or whoever they may be, judged by how they look like or what they may do," said Shaw, a short-haired brunette teen male and an ardent member of the group.

And Ward had no problem sharing his opinion about what he thought of Kick-a-Ginger and that South Park episode.

"I think it is ridiculous, inappropriate and unnecessary," said Ward. "But it shows the kind of power TV has on kids."

Their teacher, Tulani Ackerman, said that Thursday would not be about South Park or facebook but that it would be about the amount of responsibility these four teens are taking on.

And the day is to let Prince Rupert know that teens can be a powerful social force for good.
The group also believes that the whole Kick-a-Ginger movement is more symptomatic of a bigger societal problem teens face everyday, where if it isn't because you are a red head, it's because you are overweight, or tall, or even religious that you are picked on.

Regardless of the reason for hate, there are always some there to hype it.

Shaw said that the reason the theme took such hold among Canadian youth was because of the power of show, where kids can be entertained in to hateful thought.

"People watch the show and laugh about it, not really thinking about what the (writers) are really telling you and then it picks up, 'Kick-a-Ginger' becomes a (normal) phrase," added McWilliams.

PRSS teacher Suzanne Relick agreed, saying that as a parent she often worries about what kind of control parents have over their child's social skills.

"It's almost as if television is bringing up kids and parents are losing control. And you take something like this and here is an episode on TV and (a group on) Facebook - two forms of media that can just go widespread like wildfire as a parent it is kind of frightening," said Relick.

That's why Nov. 27 will be a very important day for all of Prince Rupert, she said. The kids asked that not only other kids in their school dress in red to show support, but that adults all over the City of Rainbows do likewise.

It's a challenge they think is just as worthwhile as casual dress day, if not more so because it would show that these teens taking responsibility is a worthwhile endeavor.
Senseless violence hurts everyone of us
Between the Lines column
Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 25, 2008
Page four
Last night I received an email from a friend alerting me to PRSS teacher Tulani Ackerman's request that people wear red hats, bandannas or dye their hair red on Thursday.

The move comes as a protest to 'Kick a Ginger Day' that took place last week across North America when an episode of South Park, wanting to show how ridiculous racism can be, suggested people kick persons with red hair.

Tulani's brother, a high school student in the Kootenays, was kicked in the groin by several fellow students and in the end, ran home in fear.

After I read the email I cried and then spent the night tossing and turning thinking about bullying and violence.

There's a scene in Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye where the main character gets beaten up by her friends and is left in the forest.

When she goes home to tell her mother afterwards, her mom doesn't really believe her.
I remember thinking how important it is to let your kids tattle tale sometimes.

You help them sift through incidents to determine what are legitimate complaints.
I ask questions to make sure they didn't aggravate someone or cause a retaliation.

I also tell them over and over again that bullies are usually people that aren't very happy with themselves.

I've never been the type of parent to have blinders on about my own children. I attempt to call them on their meanness to each other and their peers.

Tulani's brother's story made me really sad and reminded me that my own redheaded brother was often beat up by groups of boys.

The fights were never one-on-one.

Many things we didn't hear about until years after they occurred.

When I can't get back to sleep some nights I try recalling the names of the people in my high school graduating class - there were over 200 of us.

Last night, however, I started counting the redheads I know and have met.

Tulani's a gorgeous redhead with long curls. I first met her at the Tom Rooney playhouse at a concert.

I can't wait to hear from my own kids - one who has auburn hair, the other blonde - how the protest day unfurls at PRSS.

BC Ferries extends ferry ticket discounts until end of February

With the Skidegate to Prince Rupert run to be suspended for the month of January, the idea of a seat sale just didn't seem to have the same kind of lustre as it might have for the travelling public of the North coast.

And with that in mind, BC Ferries has decided that on that Northern route the thirty three percent discount will be extended until the end of February.

The Ferry corporation has been forced to suspend sailings due to necessary modifications required to the docks in Skidegate in preparation for the Northern Expedition which is set to arrive in March to begin its duties on the Northern routes.

The Daily News featured the Ferry Corporations decision as their front page story in Wednesday's paper.

Passengers will be able to get one-third off ticket price for an additional month
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Page one

Provincial Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon announced Tuesday that BC Ferries will extend its 33 per cent fare reduction through February for passengers taking the Skidegate-to-Prince Rupert ferry.

There had been some concern that the ferry province-wide reduction in rates during December and January would not benefit locals as much as travellers in other parts of B.C. because the local ferry was to be out of the water for the first month of the year.

"We will be extending that seat sale for the Prince Rupert-to-Skidegate ferry until the end of February to recognize the fact that obviously the ferry is not running in January," said Falcon on Tuesday.

Falcon said the provincial government realized they had overlooked the fact that the ferry would not be running when the original announcement was made back in October.

"In an interest in fairness, there was no question in my mind that the right thing to do is extend that discount," said Falcon.

He added that the government had been mulling over the option of extending the seat sale locally for the past couple of weeks because it had not really thought about the work being done to upgrade the Skidegate dock in January in advance of the arrival of the Northern Expedition, which is expected sometime in March.

Falcon was also pleased with the BC Ferry commissioner's decision to eliminate the fuel surcharge for the time being.

The ferry commissioner's office stated that it recognized significant changes in the futures market for crude oil, and a BC Ferries' report that the company's hedging program has effectively locked in the price of a substantial portion of its fuel purchases out to April 2009.

"I'm really pleased that it is happening sooner than we though it would. One of the reasons we did the fare reduction until the end of January was because by that time we had hoped the balance of the fuel surcharge would be removed.

"It's come off earlier than we anticipated and I'm just thrilled," said Falcon.

We can't get there from here (for now anyways)

If travelling past Terrace along Highway 16 is on your Thursday agenda, you may have to make other plans as the Ministry of Highways has closed the east west transportation route through the night and into tomorrow.

The Drive BC website offered up the following explanation for the closure of the Yellowhead just east of Terrace on Thursday.

Highway 16 is currently closed due to rock fall debris on the roads and potential further rock instability 30km west of Kitwanga. Geotechnical engineers will be assessing the area at first light to ensure it is safe for our staff to clear the debris. An up-date on the situation will be available by 9 am tomorrow morning. Travellers are asked for patience as our experts work to re-establish traffic on Highway 16. Currently there is no detour in effect. Updated on Wed Nov 26 at 9:56 pm. (ID# 69379)

They won't have an idea as to how long the closure will be in effect until daylight arrives and they can get a better understanding of what has happened and how long it will take to clean it up.

You can check the Drive BC website for updates on the closure and other highway conditions.

Outgoing mayor and councillors make their farewells

The special session of council on Monday night provided the opportunity for some farewell addresses from the soon to be former mayor and councillors of this past municipal council session.

With Herb Pond and Ken Cote not seeking re-election and Tony Brigilio edged out at the polls, Monday was their final public session in their positions. While they took care of the final bit of city business on their watch, there was a bit of time for remembrances of their time on council.

For Herb Pond, it brings an end to a number of years on the local municipal scene with the ever circulating possibility that his next calling may be to seek out elected provincial office, something we will no doubt learn more about as we get closer to next May’s provincial election.

While his last few months have been rather controversial on council, those issues have not detracted from his supporters strong beliefs in his abilities and reputation, as could be found in a letter to the editor from Monday’s Daily News.

For the record as they say, we provide that salute to the Mayor as well as the Daily News coverage of that last council session from Tuesday’s paper.

Emotional farewell at City Hall
Outgoing mayor and councillors bid a fond goodbye at meeting
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Pages one and two

Monday’s special city council meeting was an evening of emotions as three members of council, including Mayor Herb Pond, bid 424 Third Avenue West adieu.

Pond, along with councillors Tony Briglio and Ken Cote, had their final evening in the council chambers and, while the business of council was to be carried on, there was a sense of finality to the evening.

“I’ve got to say it is one of the most humbling experiences to have your sign carried around town,” said Pond on the subject of having been through several election processes during the last 15 years.

Pond commended the outgoing council as one of the most exceptional councils in B. C.

“Each and every member of council has come in and – even when the discussion is tough – this council leaves the room laughing, believing in the democratic process.”

Briglio, who will be stepping down as Northwest Regional Health District chair by Dec. 1, also presented Pond with a plaque from NRHD for his support and service toward the organization.

The city council called for the special council meeting to finish off some last-minute issues that had been sitting on the council’s plate including supporting the Annual Guns and Hoses Hockey Game between the fire department and the RCMP, and deciding whether or not the city should allow 36 horses on Patullo field, which took on a bit of debate in the council meeting.

City council was recommended by staff to consider information from management to make a decision whether or not to allow the 36-horse RCMP drill team to practice and perform on Patullo field, as well as stable the horses in the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre Arena next summer.

Even though council was not voting on whether or not to allow the team on the field, councillors ended up in much ado about nothing as they debated the uncertain costs associated with the event.

The debate began as councillor Joy Thorkelson said she was concerned about the condition of the field after the horses had performed, believing the field would be left in ruins and impossible to play soccer on.

“I read the report and think we shouldn’t do it (there),” said Thorkelson.

She added that possibly the Watson Island pulp mill site would be a more appropriate location.

Other councillors shared similar concerns, including Kathy Bedard who said if they allowed the team to perform on the field the city should charge a fee.

“That way, we could recover the cost for repairing damage,” said Bedard.

“Quite frankly, I was hoping that they would wait a year because it is huge cost and it’s going to cost the community.”

City Council voted to allow the next council to make the decision.

Letter to the Editor
Prince Rupert Daily News
Monday, November 25, 2008
Page four

Mayor Pond served us well

To the editor,

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Mr. Herb Pond for his years of service to our community, both as mayor, council member and citizen.

I have known Herb and his lovely wife, Sandy, for over 20 years. From the day they arrived to Prince Rupert they have been true Rupert boosters.

Mr. Pond has been a tremendous ambassador for Prince Rupert on the provincial, national and international stage.

I would like to compliment him for remaining so poised when under pressure.

Mr. Pond has always had a unique understanding that when you enter politics you somehow become public property.

Despite unfair personal attacks and gossip, Mr. Pond has always been able to put things in perspective, and rise above the nonsense.

I wish Mayor Pond and Mrs. Pond nothing but the best and certainly hope that their future is a long and healthy one – right here in Prince Rupert.

Ann Rowse