Thursday, November 30, 2006

City set to hand over land for Seniors Residence

The City of Prince Rupert is putting the finishing touches on a land transaction that probably won’t be near as controversial as some of the famous ones of the past.

For one dollar, Northern Health will purchase land near the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital and Acropolis Manor, land that will help in getting the long delayed replacement centre finally under construction.

The Daily news featured the story in the Wednesday edition.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Page one

The Northern Health Board has approved the purchase of land by the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital and Acropolis Manor from the City of Prince Rupert for $1.

“By having this land available, we’ll be able to build the replacement facility while keeping the current Acropolis Manor open while the construction happens,” said Jeff Burghardt, NH board char. “The board greatly appreciates the assistance of the City of Prince Rupert as we work to develop what will be an excellent seniors care facility for the residents of Prince Rupert.”

NH will use the land for the replacement of Acropolis Manor with a new, up-to-date long-term care facility and assisted living housing development. The project will receive funding support from the North West Regional Hospital District and the Ministry of Health.

At last week’s monthly board meeting, Northern Health also announced a small surplus just after the half-way mark in its current fiscal year. At their meeting in Prince George, NH Board members received a financial update to the start of October showing a $3.5 million surplus. This surplus is about half a per cent of the region’s annual operating budget of $521 million.

“While we’re optimistic about meeting our balanced budget projection for 2006/2007, we know the winter leads to increased costs due to higher acute care volume and greater energy usage,” said Burghardt.

The NH board’s update from the regional medical advisory committee (the group that represents the region’s physicians to the board) indicated some concern that hospitals in the region are seeing increased acute care activity. However, Northern Health explained that it is responding by increasing assisted living units and long-term care beds in communities across the region by 2008, which will support a growing seniors’ population in the region.

The NH Board has approved the establishment of a clinical quality committee for NH’s Mental Health and Addictions Services. The committee will work to improve mental health care and practice in NH sites as designated under the Mental Health Act. These include psychiatric units, observation units, and mental health centres.

“Quality committees are very effective at analyzing clinical decision-making and recommending steps to improve care for clients,” he said. “We’re confident that quality reviews under this new committee will improve outcomes in a collaborative way.

“We also expect feedback on improving our mental health and addictions services as we make those areas the focus of the 2007 NH Community Consultation.”

The next board meeting will take place in January 2007 in Prince George. Additional board meetings in 2007 will take place in Prince Rupert, Vanderhoof, and Fort St. John.

To find out how to subscribe to the Daily News (we can mail the paper anywhere), please give us a call at (250) 624-6785 or call toll free 1-800-343-0022.

Blood Feud of the Broadcasters and Broad bands

The trial balloon floated by Canada’s mainstream broadcasters earlier this week (see previous Podunk story here) has been taking some heavy chaff from the big boys of cable and satellite television.

Yesterday, Ted Rogers echoed the thoughts of many Canadians, when he wrapped up his submission to the CRTC with some Churchillian prose to reporters gathered at the hem of his frock, Said Chairman Ted: It's very imaginative, it's very creative and its bullshit.

This if you think about it, pretty nicely sums up the idea of asking Canadian television viewers to subsidize the big networks for their suddenly declining bankroles. Mind you the idea of Ted Rogers, the king of all Canadian media, becoming the defender of the little guy TV viewer seems a tad hard to believe; it would be like Donald Trump speaking out on behalf of social assistance.

But if Ted was on our side, how about this from Jim Shaw of Shaw Cable and Starchoice satellite TV fame, Shaw had his turn at the network’s piñata and took some pretty heavy swings in order to make a few points. Shaw expressed a bit of skepticism over the poverty claims of the folks at Global, CTV and the Mother Corp by pointing out that some of them are pretty savvy business folks.

“Some of these guys, they're really successful guys,” Mr. Shaw said.

“For a guy to come and argue that you couldn't afford to go and spend a little on your business, I've got to say, you should maybe get out. Or I guess maybe they'll phone us to sell.”

Ouch, ouch, ouch the newest kids in the television world are starting to take their shots aren’t they?

Today it was the folks from Bell ExpressVu to step up and shoot down the idea. Gary Smith who runs the satellite service for the Bell Empire said that the idea from the networks is just a ‘cash grab’. Calling the plan: “the wrong solution to an unsubstantiated problem”.

He also took the opportunity to float an idea of his own, that if the networks are successful in grabbing the cash off the table that Canadians should have the right to decide if they even want to pay for their services in the first place. “We think our customers should have the right to choose whether they essentially pay it or not by putting it in a discretionary package”.

That is an option that many Canadians have been calling for over the years, as tier after tier of programming has to be bought just to get one or two channels that are really wanted. A complete a la carte system would finally give the Canadian television viewer the opportunity to truly pay for only those channels that they actually intend to watch, a dangerous concept no doubt, allowing the consumer to have a choice!

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Smith's bosses react to his defense of the little guy, Bell ExpressVu is but a cog in the vast BellGlobeMedia empire, which owns among other things the CTV Television network, who ahem, are one of the applicants at the desk looking for the cash.

Only the Quebec based Cogeco cable system spoke in favour of the suggested plan to raise money by subscription fees, putting them quite out of step with the rest of that nation that is on the other side of the within the nation clause.

The Final word though on the issue has to be returned to Mr. Shaw of Shaw Cable and Starchoice, he neatly wraps up the issue in a blunt no nonsense form that should be faxed and e mailed to network executives at least once an hour.

"Is this like a big feed trough? You just come and feed on Canadians? And we're so dog docile we just sit there and take it? Cmon."

Be forewarned big shot network folks, the little Canadian dogs are getting angry and those dogs just might bite!

Local skaters shocked at death of Kitimat skater

The tragic murder of a popular Kitimat figure skater, reverberated around the local skating club last weekend, as they prepared for a competition in that city.

Local skaters were in shock as the reports of the sixteen year old girls passing and the nature of her death were made at the rink. The Daily featured the story as its headline story in the Wednesday edition.

By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Page one

The Northwest region had to endure one of its toughest figure skating test days in recent history, and it had nothing to do with the weather.

Instead, the scheduled test day, hosted by the Kitimat skate club last weekend, was rocked by the terrible news that one of Kitimat’s veteran young skaters had died Thursday night.

With Northwest skaters arriving on the scene early Friday morning for practice sessions, it didn’t take long for everyone to realize something was wrong. The majority of the Kitimat skaters were in tears, and the parents were doing all they could to ensure their athletes didn’t find out what really happened.

Instead, the news was kept simple: 16-year-old Stephanie Joy Donnelly had passed away.

“It was pretty tough on everyone,” said Sheri Pringle, coach of the Rupert skating club. “We didn’t tell the skaters what had happened, or at least, what was hearsay in the crowd, except that she had passed away.”

Pringle had five of her skaters there, and it was very difficult for her to keep her athletes focussed on their tests.

“I got there Friday afternoon, and (my skaters) were in shock,” she said. “If it had been me, I would’ve cancelled the whole thing.”

Instead, a grief councillor was called to the scene, and spent the majority of Friday meeting with emotional skaters, especially those from Kitimat.

Even then, there was talk of simply postponing the meet out of respect for the late Donnelly, but the Terrace skate club stepped in, and agreed to take it over.

Then, some of the Kitimat skaters decided to take to the ice, because “they felt that’s what Stephanie would have wanted them to do,” said Pringle.

Even though the Rupert skaters only get to hang out with other Northwest athletes sporadically throughout the season, it was still difficult for them to take to the ice, said Pringle.

“Francesca (Amante) was singing with that girl in the dressing room only a month ago,” she said.

Blair Evan Donnelly, 47, the father of the deceased 16-year-old Mount Elizabeth Secondary student has been charged with second degree murder.

To find out how to subscribe to the Daily News (we can mail the paper anywhere), please give us a call at (250) 624-6785 or call toll free 1-800-343-0022.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pictures of Podunk: A sure sign that Christmas is on the way

Yee haw, it's one of my favourite treats! The ever popular Baker Boy Ginger bread cookies are out. Arguably one of the best treats you can sample (and sample I shall do) as the countdown to Christmas gets close!

Lumps of coal for Kim Jong Il

It’s going to be pretty difficult getting your favourite Asian despot a Christmas present this year. The U. S. Government has issued a list of a number of banned items that cannot be sold, to any address in North Korea. It’s kind of like a State Department naughty boy; get no toy policy we assume.

Included on the banned in Pyongyang list include: iPods, Plasma televisions, caviar, Rolex watches, Harley Davidson motorcycles, jet skis, cigarettes or expensive cars to name but a few .

It’s just the beginning of a plan to put some more pressure on the reclusive North Korean leader, who apparently enjoys those capitalistic touches, while his subjects toil in brutal poverty, scrambling to find food, let alone worrying about how to download the latest tune from the iStore.

Interestingly enough the State Department has also banned the sale of the Segway, those personal power transportation machines which few so far have bought, and fewer seem to use.

This could possibly be a mistake, considering the numerous health issues associated with elderly people, including a certain world leader we know tumbling off the machines at the risk of life and limb, the Segway could be the CIA’s best bet to rid the world of one third of the old Axis of Evil.

Considering King Jong’s love of James Bond movies, it shouldn’t be too hard to rig up a Segway to do what countless UN resolutions can’t seem to manage.

Time to buy a Tivo or learn about that torrents thing

Canada's major television networks are crying the monetary blues. Suddenly no longer the big fish in the small pond, they are finding that those annoying cable channels are not only luring away eyeballs but taking dollars out of their pockets.

So what do you do, when you find that your audience has migrated to greener pastures, well you ask for a share of the pie and a chance to increase the amount of commercials that you show on the programs that fewer seem to be watching. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Seemingly unaware that it's the content that dictates whether you get an audience, the big networks are making plans to wreak their revenge. An increase of two minutes an hour in advertising, from twelve to fourteen minutes is one idea being tossed around, since the networks say the current twelve isn't enough, after they load the hour with promos for other programs.

The CBC wants the networks to receive fees from the cable and satellite providers, in effect having the public subsidize their product whether they watch it or not.

CTV came up with the wonderful idea of denying their product to the nation, suggesting they will find a way that won't let Canadians time shift their programming choices, a popular utilization of one's cable or satellite programming. That's a hell of a strategy, no you can't watch our show, too bad for you!

It's enough to boggle the mind the whining and sniffling of the culturally protected behemoths. They have had it so good for so long that the potential end of the gravy train has them positively apoplectic.

Corus entertainment finds itself in the unusual position of defending the beleaguered consumer, suggesting that should the plans being bounced around come to fruition, then the growth of the grey market satellite dish will return to the heydays of the early television revolution.

Frankly, I'm waiting for the day when I have complete control over what I want to watch, no tiers of five or six channels simply so I can receive the one I really want to watch. If the networks are silly enough to play hardball, one would think that the Canadian public will demand freedom from the regulatory hell we live in. If a channel or show can't survive because nobody is watching it, why should we subsidize it simply because a bloated industry wants us to?

One has the image of the big networks beginning to resemble that little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. Technology is changing so fast that the dinosaurs of the entertainment chain don't realize that they are almost obsolete. Broadband streaming, mobile Internet connections, they all suggest a more consumer friendly future, whether the networks like it or not. On any given teenagers computer these days is some kind of program that surfs the net and downloads the latest television shows, regardless of borders, regardless of time and regardless of the hissy fits of network executives. Parents, prepare to learn from your offspring!

Perhaps these networks, many of which simply rebroadcast warmed over American programming as it is, should look in the mirror. If they were providing the kind of programming that Canadians wished to watch, then perhaps their bottom line wouldn't be out there seeking a street corner with a cup and red pen for the book keeping.

Rather than punish their customers as they seem determined to do, they instead should try to lure them back to their offerings by providing something that they may want to watch in the first place.

Bigger is better and maybe more competitive

While we continue to head towards the fall 2007 opening of our Fairview Container Port, Vancouver is getting ready to make a move of its own.

The three major ports of the Lower Mainland, Vancouver, North Fraser and Fraser River have agreed that unity is good and hopefully financially rewarding.

Plans are in the works to merge the three into a super port of BC, turning the three destinations into one giant clearing house of goods from the Pacific Gateway.

The move stems from a report back in 2004 that called for greater unification of all West coast ports both on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and Northern BC.

While it’s probably a good move for the three Vancouver terminals to get more in synch, the idea of merging the Rupert Port into a more streamlined unit with the southern ones will probably be a hard sell locally. Always suspicious northerners, looking back at the Grain shipment controversies of the past, will be wondering why the southern ports are suddenly so interested in our well being.

Competition can certainly garner a bit of attention and with all the buzz about the Fairview Container port and it’s potential for the future, the idea of letting the Vancouver Ports have a say isn’t going to be the easiest proposition ever put forward.

Don’t expect to see too much movement on a North South alignment any times soon; they’ll have more on their plate just getting their local players on the same page in the short term.

The Daily News provided details on the proposed plans for the changes to the Vancouver waterfront.

Lower Mainland facilities looking to band together for economies of scale.
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Pages one and two

The Lower Mainland’s three gateway port authorities are one step closer to becoming a single integrated port.

The ports of Vancouver, North Fraser and Fraser River ratified a recommendation to become a single Canada Port Authority yesterday.

“The report confirms that integration of port activities in the Lower Mainland can enhance Canada’s competitiveness in the global trade environment, and is the most effective means of optimizing port planning, development and marketing,” said Vancouver Port Authority Chair George Adams.

The report was prepared by InterVISTAS Consulting Ltd. and commissioned by the three port authorities after they were invited by the Hon. Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to discuss the issue with department officials on July 6.

The group was tasked with finding ways for the Lower Mainland ports to explore opportunities that will allow them to become even more globally competitive and capture a larger share of growing Pacific trade volumes.

“An integrated authority was recognized as the best structure to capitalize on the strengths of the three ports,” said North Fraser Port Authority Chair Doug Butterworth. “Once the minister has reviewed the report, we will be sharing its findings with our stakeholders.”

The boards of directors of the three port authorities approved the report, which was subsequently forwarded to the Federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for his review and action.

“One of the most important aspects in looking at the case for integration has been to ensure we had the support of our stakeholders,” said Fraser River Port Authority chair Peter Podovinikoff.

“The consultants interviewed many of our key stakeholders and it is apparent that the majority support integration.”

The idea of a ‘super port’ has been floated since a B.C. Progress Board report released in 2004.

At the time the Progress Board recommended Lower Mainland ports integrate with those on Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert to create a single Canada Port entity.

UBC professor Dr. Michael Goldberg wrote in the report that the existence of five separate port authorities means that potential economies of scale and scope are lost.

“Functioning as a part of the Pacific Port complex of ports for ship and train scheduling would help links with Coast Guard, security logistics, and inter-modal hardware and software,” he wrote. “While this idea needs further consideration, the idea of creating a Pacific Super Port could help Canada become a more significant gateway between North America and Asia.”

The idea was supported by the Vancouver Port Authority on the grounds that it would ‘lower the cost of future infrastructure and allow the super port to plan for the best use of existing infrastructure.’

“Co-operation and co-ordination is all very well until you are at the point at which port the business will happen,” the Vancouver Port Authority's Capt. Gordon Houston said at the time.

“If they were all the same ports, it wouldn't matter which port you put the business through ... it would all benefit the province and country.”

Locally, the idea of greater cooperation was encouraged, however it was noted by Prince Rupert Port Authority CEO Don Krusel that there were quite different challenges faced by Lower Mainland ports than those in the North and any amalgamation could leave Prince Rupert feeling neglected.

Selected stories from The Daily News are available on line from their website.

Ye shall be judged by the company that Ye shall keep

Score one for a gal that can bounce back from disappointment. Hot on the heels of the matrimonial explosion to Kevin Federline, Britney Spears is stepping out, and stepping out and for good measure stepping out some more.

Young Ms. Spears has landed in the orbit of Paris Hilton, which should guarantee her some serious tabloid picture time for the next little while.

Brit and Par hit Vegas over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, checking out the clubs, the casinos and such all part of gals nights out.

In fact one news report has it that Spears is thankful that Hilton has "taken her under her wing". Though we kind of wonder who's watching the kids while Ms. Spears rediscovers the party life.

Now I'm not much up on my role models, but considering the rather train wreckish state of her career and social life of late, I'm not sure that Hilton would be my first choice as the stabilizing force.

Hilton of course has her own troubles to deal with including a rather nasty love/hate relationship with Lindsay Lohan which keeps the tabloids and YouTubers busy scrambling for details on any rumour that comes along.

So lets see, Hilton, Spears, Lohan, now there's an alliance calling out for a fancy moniker.

Monsters and Critics served up a good one, The New York Post even better, perhaps you can do better for us in the comments.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Everybody loves a man (and woman) in uniform

I had the chance to visit the Liberal Party of Canada’s website yesterday, all part of my self assigned tasks of being a good blogger, always on the lookout for interesting items to pass along to the occasional browser of this portal.

While I was busy logging onto the Gritland site, up popped their very informative homepage, complete with a banner picture of a polar bear, a truly great Canadian vision if ever there was one. Nothing says the true north strong and free like a huge honking Bear looking around the vast expanse, no doubt ready to chow down on some unsuspecting seal (Take that McCartney).

As I continued exploring the wonders of the Liberals heading to convention, I would occasionally gravitate back to the home page and started to notice that those banner pages were changing every time I revisited. A truly neat trick for sure, as any number of great Canadian images can be sent out the interested visitor.

There was Lester Pearson (a Liberal saint), a fisherman (how did those cod and salmon policies work out anyways), a farmer (farm policies over the years were always a crowd pleaser), as well as the obligatory vision of assorted landscapes and wildlife including the Beaver (now that's Canada!).

Click again and look there's Bill Graham with Al Gore they're locked deep into some kind of earnest discussion on climate change we bet (this must be the see we know the right people picture I guess).

And hey, what's this, there are the Canadian Forces! They make for a sturdy looking group of men and women standing at attention offering up their salutes. Maybe honouring a visiting general, maybe as a tribute to Canada as the flag is raised, or maybe as the troops heard word of the latest Liberal policy initiative. Click again and there’s another troop of soldiers doing good deeds in some far off land on behalf of Canada. If you didn’t know better you would have thought that you had stumbled across a George W. Bush website, such is the amount of military content.

Now I share in the Liberal parties pride in our Canadian Forces, they have done a marvelous job under rather stressful times, especially considereing how under equipped and under manned they have been over the years. Especially when you think back to those halcyon Liberal years, you remember those, when the Forces were relegated to the back of the procurement lines while the Liberals were busy buying sponsorship ads in Quebec, funding many other questionable other projects and generally getting caught up in a variety of boondoggles, that well, frankly boggled the mind.

To my memory, at the time of the Liberal reign of the seventies, eighties, nineties and even into the millennium the Armed Forces never quite seemed to be a high priority to the government of the day, whatever the day. There are countless tales of cancelled helicopter projects, ancient equipment that constantly would break down and rarely was replaced and too few troops, for too many tasks. The Forces at times seemed to be the living breathing example of an inconvenient truth (What the hell if they can use Al Gore, so can I) of having a nation that at times needs to decide to re-equip its militarily, a decision that in the past they more often than not chose not to make.

It’s almost unseemly as they try to piggy back on the hard work of the troops now, considering their lukewarm endorsement of them over the years. We trust that with this newfound interest in our military forces, that this week’s Liberal convention will lay out a detailed plan of attack as to how to rebuild, re-equip and give the Forces the long over due respect they truly deserve.

If they can find the time to bask in the glow of their work of today, they can get down to the job of making sure they have the tools to do the jobs that provide for the photo ops!

Health Ministry to cover costs for inconvenienced Medical needs travellers

After an intervention by the North Coast MLA, the Ministry of Health has decided to cover all Travel Assistance Program expenses for patients inconvenienced by the shut down of the Queen of Prince Rupert.

When B. C. Ferries refused to cover the costs, the MLA went to work on the Health Minister to help out those that were inconvenienced and to make sure that the Ferry Corporation and the Health Ministry were on the same page for any future situations.

The Daily New provided the details of the situation and its resolution in the Monday edition.

By James Vassallo
The Daily News

Page one
Monday, November 27, 2006

The Ministry of Health will cover all Travel Assistance Program (TAP) expenses for patients who would have been travelling on the Queen of Prince Rupert on the days it has been out of service.

“Health Minister George Abbott has assured me that his ministry will cover the costs incurred for travel,” said North Coast MLA Gary Coons. “It’s my expectation that B.C. Ferries and the ministry will make arrangements so that the next time there is a service disruption, people won’t have to pay out-of-pocket for necessary medical travel.”

The Queen of Prince Rupert went out of service Nov. 18 and will not return to service until Nov. 29. In addition to stopping the normal traffic of goods and people, the service disruption meant that people with medical needs would need to find alternative ways to get to and from treatment.

“As remote coastal communities that deserve the same service as anyone in the province, there needs to be the public scrutiny over our vital marine highway,” he said.

“The ferry corporation receives, as per the service contract, monthly payments from the province for those that use the ferry for the TAP under the Social Program Reimbursement.
“B.C. Ferries should have been in contact with the patient and the ministry and informed them that they are unable to make their commitments so that patients do not undergo any further stress and concern.”

The Travel Assistance Program offers travel discounts, usually 30 per cent, to eligible patients who must travel within the province to access non-emergency medical specialist services. Patients who have already made other travel plans must submit their receipts for reimbursement.

“After B.C. Ferries refused to cover the costs, my staff and I pressed the Health Ministry to pick up the tab,” said Coons.

“Once again, we on the coast have to raise our voices to ensure we get the services other British Columbians take for granted.”

To be eligible for TAP, the person must be a B.C. resident enrolled in MSP and must have a physician’s referral for medical services that are not available locally. Health care services that are not provided by physicians such as psychology, optometry, physiotherapy, massage therapy, podiatry, dentistry, naturopathy and chiropractic, and services that are not insured by MSP, like experimental procedures, drug trials or cosmetic surgery, are not eligible for assistance.

Meals, accommodation, fuel and local transportation expenses are also not covered.

Selected stories from The Daily News are available on line from their website.

Weather for Edmonton for Tuesday: Cold, on the Pronger index for Tuesday: Colder, Much, much colder.

Environment Canada says that Tuesdays high temperature in Edmonton will be -23, by game time it will still be -23, but that will seem positively balmy, compared to the temperature of the extremely chilly Pronger index, as the crowd displays it's delight at the return of Chris Pronger the Anaheim Duck and former Edmonton Oiler defenceman.

The date has long been circled on the dedicated Oiler fan’s calendar, November 28, the day that Edmonton's modern day Benedict Arnold makes his return to the most northern outpost in the NHL.

They’ve been so pumped up for this day, that they began booing at the last home game, any mention of the Anaheim Ducks coming to town was greeted with a chorus of boos, kind of a communal limbering up session.

Pronger the prodigal returns and the Oiler faithful are going to share something that will apparently not resemble love. Pronger asked for and was granted a trade in the off season, spurning the affections of the Oiler crowds for the affections of his wife and family. His decision it seems did not go down well with the fine residents of Edmonton, who took his flight as serious case of civic disrespect.

Since then the name that once was chanted with a sense of reverence has had decidedly less favourable adverbs and pronouns attached to it. His arrival in Edmonton today one day before the showdown with the faithful was met by a media avalanche worthy of a Lindsay Lohan-Paris Hilton cage match refereed by Britney Spears. Everybody wants to ask why, Pronger isn’t ready to give them what they want.

He has attempted his own bit of pre-emptive soothing, telling anyone who will listen about how much fun he had last year, how the fans were amazing and pushed the Oilers on to greater glory coming up just a little bit short. Nice words, apparently that nobody is interested in and will go unheard or at least unheeded for one night anyways.

In the end, the game will eventually take precedence, the Oilers hoping to knock off the high flying Ducks and claim two points that might come in handy in April or May. The fans will do their best to help out the home side, but they expect to try and get their own pound of flesh on their own.

It promises to be louder than usual at Rexall Place, something that seems hardly possible, but given the right atmosphere expect the Oiler fans to make their position known.

Pronger has become accustomed to heating boos; it comes with the territory when you’re one of the top defencemen in the game.
It might be a bit strange to be public enemy number one, but if that’s what it takes for the Ducks to sneak out of town with a win he’ll most likely accept his role.

Showing that they're pretty savvy promoters, the Oilers have the game on Pay Per View, which means that any hockey fan not able to squeeze into Rexall Place, will have to shell out to the Oilers to join in on the fun. Giving the Oilers a pretty nice return on the Pronger return.

I hope he asked for a couple of tickets from the Oilers for the game for himself, I think he could probably make a pretty healthy return on his seats. It would make the perfect revenge on an Oiler fan base, which promises to make his return a most interesting night. If nothing else he could leave them empty and reduce the noise by at least two sets of lungs.

The above post first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out.

Time of historic transition for the Coastal forest industry

The Truck loggers Association has weighed into the debate over the sustainability of the forest industry along the B. C. coast, providing a working paper designed to address issues in the industry with the release of the Forestry Revitalization Plan of 2003.

Their paper is designed as an answer to their concerns of some of the government plans as outlined in that plan of 2003.

The Daily News broke down the issues, with a front page story in Monday’s paper.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News

Page one
Monday, November 27, 2006

The Coastal B.C. forest sector must follow a clear new strategic vision if the industry is to move forward with any success, says a new report by the Truck Loggers Association (TLA).
“We wanted to step back and take a fresh look at how we can assist government in getting where the province needs to go,” said Jim Girvan, TLA executive director.

“We’re in the middle of a historic transition on the coast and if we want to ensure government maintains the ability to provide social programs like health care that benefit all British Columbians then we want to ensure change on the coast goes in the right direction — for everybody.”

The ‘working paper’, entitled Markets and Market Forces: The Key to Prosperity for the Coastal Forest Industry, outlines a new direction for the Coastal industry in light of the result of the 2003 Forestry Revitalization Plan.

The report argues that the “marketplace reaction to the policy changes that were introduced ... effectively derailed the achievements of some of the plan’s key objectives.”

Among the TLA’s concerns are that the provincial plan led to a greater monopoly in the coastal forest sector, that there has been a systematic reduction of the coastal log market which has tightened supply; that log shortages are widespread across the coast; that log exports continue to leave the province as many independent mills struggle due to a lack of raw materials; and that the 20 per cent tenure take-back caused many highly trained workers to leave the industry.

In order to counter this, the TLA has developed a vision they believe will ensure a future for the industry, beginning with competitive log markets.

“With almost 65 per cent of the current coastal (annual allowable cut) in the hands of four players, and 42 per cent controlled by a single company, it’s imperative that all other market-based forest volume is harvested and comes to market,” reads the report.

The report recommends the government allow 120 percent of the current B.C. Timber Sales (BCTS) allocated volumes currently implemented during the next two years, improvement of the bureaucratic cutting permit approval, changes to current log export policy to encourage open market competitiveness and fair market pricing, a new licencing arrangement facilitating concurrent salvage of waste pulp log volumes be investigated, that the current “take or pay” policy be reconsidered, and that the Crown moves to variable pricing on all BCTS auctions immediately.

Secondly, the vision outlines a strategy that would improve the labour market for the forestry sector by having the government provide more certainty by ensuring steady logging, and by the province doing more to promote forestry jobs at the school level.

Thirdly, the paper advocates for a system that protects the working forest land base, meaning there must be a commitment to providing a steady supply of competitively priced forest to be logged.

The TLA calls on the province to ensure Ecosystem Based Management practices are applied equitably and the costs covered and that the North and Central Coast Land Resource Management Plans (LRMP) be modified to include economic criteria.

Lastly, the paper calls for an equitable taxation plan that includes the extension of the PST exemption for logging equipment to cover machines, equipment and supplies used for road building in support of forest harvesting. The paper also calls for the government to work with municipalities to bring municipal taxation of the forest industry in line with other jurisdictions, and that “traditional territory payments” (TTPs) made by companies to First Nations be deducted from stumpage fees.

The Daily News is available on line at this link.

Premier’s timeline not exactly universally accepted

Premier Campbell currently touring the Far East has caused a bit of controversy over his comments that a moratorium on oil and gas exploration is but a few years away from being lifted.

Speaking in Hong Kong Campbell suggested that within two to three years the coast of BC could be opened up for exploration and development, comments which no doubt appealed to the money markets of China, but have been met with less than glowing reviews from the provincial and federal representatives in the electoral ridings.

Both NDP MP Nathan Cullen and NDP MLA Gary Coons took issue with the Premier’s timeline of development and suggested that he may wish to consult with the residents of the riding before getting ready to cash the royalty cheques.

The Daily news featured the debate on the front page of the Monday paper.

By James Vassallo
The Daily News

Pages one and three
Monday, November 27, 2006

The provincial and federal representatives for Prince Rupert have no kind words for B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell after his suggestion that offshore oil and gas exploration could be opened up in just a few years.

“I think he’s suffering from too much jet lag,” said Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.
“There’s no indication from the federal government of even opening up this conversation (and) if he spent some time in our region, he’d know that the opposition is as firm as ever to the project.”

Campbell told a group of business leaders in Hong Kong last week that the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration off the B.C. coast could be lifted in two to three years.

“The people in my riding will have to live with the consequences,” said North Coast MLA Gary Coons, adding that the premier needs to speak to the people of this region if he has any intention of exploring offshore development. “So, the premier’s enthusiasm is a little premature.”

Since the statement, Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Richard Neufeld has said that no decision will be made until after the necessary scientific research is done.

Both federal and provincial NDP believe there are far more than two to three years of scientific research needed before such a project could be considered.

“Maybe, the premier should check the facts with his minister before he tries to sell off shore drilling in Hong Kong,” said John Horgan, provincial NDP critic for energy and mines.
“Although it appears Neufeld thinks a majority federal government will somehow solve all of the environmental and technical issues off shore development will create.

“I have news for both the premier and the minister — British Columbians want to be assured that the B.C. Liberal lust for development will not trump solid science and full consultation with First Nations and coastal residents.”

Regardless of what the official position of the province is, Cullen added that he is yet to hear from a single company that has made a business case for going ahead with an offshore project in B.C.

“I’ve been meeting with oil and gas companies this year on other topics, but they remain completely mute on their enthusiasm or even interest in pursuing the offshore option in B.C.,” said the MP. “They have many other things they’d rather be doing and I’m confused as to why the premier would have almost a renegade position. I just don’t see any basis of reality in it at all, and it’s irresponsible actually to keep this pipe dream alive for a narrow interest.”

The combination of the $120 million-plus well that would have to be dug along with the necessary consultations with local First Nations and risks of a potential disaster add up to a project that just doesn’t make sense environmentally or economically, Cullen said.

“They keep floating this project as some sort of panacea to the problems, but we have a lot more progressive job solutions going on right now that are real and are good for our region.”

The Daily News is available on line at this link.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Now look what you’ve gone and done Mr. Harper

Steven Harper’s recent motion to declare “Quebec a nation within Canada” has had an unusual spin off effect. Long time Sovereigntist lawyer Guy Bertrand has dusted off his old plans to put a Team Quebec into International hockey, starting with the 2008 World Hockey Championships.

It’s an event which coincidentally, will be taking place in Quebec City and Halifax that year. In a bit of symbolic destiny, that is the year of Quebec’s 400th anniversary celebrations and they suddenly seem to be setting up for a giant coming out party, which if Bertrand has his way will be played out on the ice rink in Quebec City.

Bertrand has been arguing on behalf of a Team Quebec for a number of years and has become a perennial pain in the backside for Hockey Canada, with his demands that they sanction the formation of a team to represent the province. Hockey Canada has repeatedly told him that he can’t have a team, as he doesn’t yet have a nation. However, with the parliamentary declaration that Quebec is a nation (even if that inconvenient tag line "within Canada" is still there) Bertrand feels that he’s probably one step closer to the goal, even if most feel he's a little off the beaten path with his plans.

Bertrand who is now emboldened by the developments in Ottawa , is apparently not against gooning it up with the Prime Minister. Going so far as to suggest that a lack of support for the Quebec team idea by Harper could cost the Conservatives "thousands of votes" in Quebec in the next election. How’s that for standing Harper up as he crosses the blue line, best keep your head up Stephen, best to keep your head up.

Harper has apparently been busy working on a book about hockey which he hopes to have completed sometime in the future. If Bertrand wins the public relations war on his plan, it will make for a chapter in Canadian hockey that the author of the book helped to bring about. This might be the kind of legacy that Harper might not want to go down in history over.

Messing up the country we can probably live with, as we have come to expect that of our leaders, but messing up our hockey, well that’s something that a career just won’t recover from!

The above post first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out.

When the threat of Libel chill just isn't enough

There's an interesting story on blogging coming out of New Brunswick today, a Conservative blogger in Toronto, Steve Janke,who writes on the blog Angry in the Great White North recounts the tale of Charles Leblanc.

Leblanc is a blogger who has become a bit of a pain in the backside to the local political class of St. John, appearing at protests and such and who writes about poverty and politics on his website.

In June of this year, he was arrested for obstruction of justice, after taking pictures of a St. John protest for his blogsite. In the subsequent court case, the charges were thrown out as the Judge ruled that Leblanc was merely plying his trade. Making it perhaps the first time that blogging has been referred to as an occupation as opposed to a hobby.

Of interest in this instance was the reasoning of the arresting officer at the time, who testified that Leblanc was arrested because he "was scruffy looking and carried an unprofessional looking digital camera", which is perhaps a standard that the Bush administration might have wished to have used with Michael Moore.

Regardless, if Leblanc's arrest was just an evening of scores by the officials, then it was an obvious overstepping of the bounds of law enforcement and was rightly struck down by the judge. But it does serve as a warning to the hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there, that this form of media is very much in its infancy and subject to whims it seems as opposed to any form of standard behaviour.

It sets up a cautionary tone for those that do blog, that the rules are rather vague and danger perhaps lurks with every post. Which in effect could send a chill over the blogosphere that could very well change the dynamic of what we write and what we read.

On the positive side, the case is a minor step towards respectability for the volume of bloggers pounding away on the keys day after day. The mediaas we know it, can be much more than the mainstream version of which we have become used to. It comes in many forms some good, some bad (just like the big boys and girls) but the common thread seems to be that accountability needs to be practiced with zeal.

It sometimes is a fine line between respectable opinion and irresponsible speculation, it will be of interest to see how society comes to grips with the delivery of information from a system with little in the way of rules and guidelines other than common sense.

Prince George continues to plan for the Fairview port

Plans continue for development of infrastructure in Prince George to take advantage of the Fairview Container Port. Land has been purchased and plans are in the works to develop a cargo reload centre in the former BCR lands on the south side of Prince George. The first step into turning Prince George into a major distribution centre for container traffic in Northern BC.

While that project gets underway, CN is busy working on their downtown rail yard which many expect will also see use as a transit point for containers heading through the interior city. The opinion 250 website had the full details posted to the site on Sunday.

Cargo Reload Facility Info
250 News
Sunday, November 26, 2006 04:19 AM

More details are coming forth on the cargo reload centre in the former BCR lands.
The project is "Centrex Container Services Inc." site a joint partnership of four people and will have "Coast 2000" a lower mainland port operator, coming on board as 50% partner and operator of the site.

The sale of the lands is expected to be complete in early February.

Meantime, CN is quietly continuing its preparations on the First Avenue yard.
When the report on the benefits of an inland container port was released a few weeks ago, it was noted that everything must be in place in time for the opening of the Prince Rupert Port, That opening is set for the fall of 2007. Officials involved with the development of the report indicated there has already been a great deal of work going on behind the scenes to ensure the inland port would be up and running in time.

The developers of the cargo reload center have indicated they have been working on their project for some time, and have been getting a great deal of support from City Hall, Initiatives Prince George, and the Provincial Government.

Posted on Sunday, November 26, 2006 04:19 AM in News by 250 News

So does everyone have to return the gifts?

Hot on the heels of Britney and Kevin's marital implosion, comes more bad news from celebrityland.

Yet another celebrity hitch up has become un hitched, Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock have ended their rather turbulent relationship. With on and off engagements, the couple finally tied the knot in late July in St. Tropez, France , then for good measure they had a wedding ceremony on August 3rd in California and another one in Nashville on August 17th.

We wonder if they have to file three sepereate divorce petitions as well?

Confirming suspicions for those east of the Coast Mountain Range

Today has been one of those days, that the folks east of the Mountains use to point out how deprived of the Canadian reality many British Columbians really are.

With about 50 cm of snow in some parts of the Lower Mainland, the entire Greater Vancouver region seems to have descended into the bunkers to wait out the worst. Schools were closed, traffic examiners cancelled their road tests and the traffic on the road was light as Vancouver called it a Snow Day.

This of course will be greeted with much hilarity in the likes of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes, the North and of course those British Columbians who live on the eastern side of Merritt.

Besides the snow that has led Vancouver residents to their local Canadian Tire to look over the shovel selection, Vancouver radio stations are urging residents to be prepared for the bitterly cold temperatures to come tonight. With an anticipated low of -18 in the wind chill, it’s akin to a cold emergency in the land of the lotus and the dogwood.

Of course, -18 would make a dandy day time high in Brandon, Edmonton, Winnipeg or Saskatoon et al on any given winter’s day, but for Vancouver it’s a sign that Al Gore is right and the planet is on the road to ruin.

For those that wish, there is cheap entertainment available at CKNW’s audio vault today.
Simply select NW any time between 6 am and on through the day, listen in to the cavalcade of school closings, the calls for patience as the tow truck and cab drivers get to the next call on their list. From 8:30-Noon, Bill Good took calls from the snowbound Lower Mainland, as the populace gathered around the radio, cappuccino cups in hand and shared tales of the great snow of 2006.

Mind you the folks in Vancouver have one thing over their smug brethren of Toronto, as of yet they haven’t called out the Army, which puts them one up on Ontario. Something to keep in mind as you chortle along to their misfortune.

To Be the King, or the Kingmaker

By this time next week the Federal Liberal Party of Canada will have a new leader, a successor to the iconic history of Laurier and Mackenzie King, Pearson and Trudeau, declaring a new leader who will be hoping like hell that he doesn’t suffer the same fate of a Turner or Martin.

As the final week of politicking wraps up and the Liberals head to their destiny in Montreal, there still is no consensus as to which candidate would make the next great leader of what was once the National Governing Party.

The two front runners still haven’t really captured the lightning in a bottle that screams out that they are The One to lead the party back to power. In fact, there are still as many questions about Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae as there are delegates to the convention. Neither has led a particularly electrifying campaign, Ignatieff dogged by mis-steps along the way considered by many a tire kicker who will be more than happy to return to academic life should his bid fail this weekend. Rae still carries the baggage of past campaigns while working on behalf of his former cause the NDP. From his days as Premier of a recession wracked Ontario (not exactly his fault, but as they say when you’re the captain when the iceberg hits you’re the guy they remember) to his caustic comments about Liberalism while an NDP MP in the House of Commons, the main body of Liberals still view his entry with suspicion.

There are a number of other Liberals along the way who have throw their hat in the ring, for the most part they have become minor players who will find their fifteen minutes of fame come and gone by about 5 pm on Friday night.

An outside lane goes to Gerard Kennedy who left Ontario Politics for the greater stage, his campaign has been a rather quiet affair thus far. Some suggest he's the only candidate to offer change which for a party in renewal is a good thing.

As late as today, he's the only candidate to categorically come out against the Harper initiative of the nation within a nation motion of last week, which at least gives him a talking point at the convention. Tapped by the Royal Liberal finger of Justin Trudeau as the best option, he has been getting a bit of favourable press in the Ontario media, but not much national exposure. He's considered a third or fourth place candidate as the convention opens, but seems to lack any growth potential.

And then there is Stephane Dion, the former Environment Minister who has been running a steady if less flashy campaign, yet if the Liberals were to look for a candidate that at least seems to exemplify some of the better points of their party, he should be getting a fair amount of consideration this weekend.

With his record in Environment he at least tried to walk the walk as they say, if the Liberals are really as apoplectic over Rona Ambrose’s tenure at the ministry as they suggest and dismayed by the Harper government’s direction on that topic then Dion should surely be their candidate. He has a long and well documented list of policies and thoughts on the issue, far more than the rest of the candidate pool in this campaign.

For those Liberals that still believe in the Trudeau vision of a Canada which includes Quebec as part of the federal system, he probably best exemplifies that policy as well. As father of the Chrétien government’s Clarity Act, he was the point man in the province about demanding a fair and legitimate question regarding that provinces intention towards Confederation. He didn’t win himself a great number of fans with the political elites of Quebec, who don’t like it when someone challenges their divine right to unilaterally decide for the people what is best. But in a new era of Federal Politics where all parties seem in a rush to declare Quebec a nation within a nation, it might be worth a listen to hear what Dion has to say about the issue.

He has long counseled against the concept of devolving powers and in effect stared down the blackmailing intentions of the separatist movement. In what is the Holy Grail of Liberalism in Canada, the state of the Unity of the country, Dion has perhaps the clearest vision than the other candidates.

The drawbacks to his candidacy are there as well though, he is from Quebec and the Liberals do seem to be a party that relies on that fountain far too much for political leaders. His command of English is not as strong as it could be, but considering the amount of years that the nation was led by Jean Chrétien’s mangling of the Queen’s English, the Dion syntax is closer to Prince Phillip than Philippe. His 10 years of experience offer up a double edged sword for his candidacy. While experience is always a welcome thing especially in the area of federal governance, he could just as easily get tainted by the sins of the past Chrétien and Martin mis-steps. Though when you consider how under utilized he was by the Martin forces, he could perhaps use that to his advantage, as a bit of distance isn’t always a bad thing.

In a campaign that has been down right divisive at times as the two front runners fixated on how to scupper the other’s campaigns, Dion has stayed on the message of renewal, whether it be the environment or the political process he’s quietly gone about his business traveling from coast to coast to get his message out.

This last week has seen a flurry of information about the candidates making the rounds whether it’s the Times Colonist waxing poetically about Bob Rae’s conversion to the cause, to Ignatieff exhaling as he received a gift from Stephan Harper over the unity file, the scenario has been set for the final week of the campaign. The two perceived front runners continue to jockey for position. Yet perhaps the best endorsement of any candidate came from long time political observer Lawrence Martin who seemed to capture the Dion candidacy so completely, that they posted his article onto the candidate’s website.

When you finish the Martin article you have to wonder if the two front runners really reflect what the Liberal party really believes in, that is of course if the Liberal party could recognize that anymore to begin with.

If they want to have a refresher course, we offer up this link (CKNW Audio Vault, Friday November 24, 10-11 am) to the Bill Good show of last week. Stephane Dion appeared on that program for an hour, answering questions and explaining his beliefs. It might be worth a listen for the delegates as they head to Montreal, a reminder of their core values and a reflection of the spectrum that they once inhabited.

If they’re looking for the Liberal at the Liberal convention this weekend, they need not go too much further down the list than to Dion’s name. The more they look, the more they may like what they see and hear and that will be of concern to Rae and Ignatieff. It may be too late for Dion to mount a challenge to the two front runners, but if enough of the other candidates come to his campaign it could make for a most interesting weekend in Montreal.

By the time they count the final ballots Dion will be in a pretty good place, he may have enough votes to take a late ballot victory or, he’ll be in a position to put one of the other two over the top. He may be the King or he may be the King maker, either way he stands to be poised to return to the inner circles of power in the Liberal party. If nothing else the Liberals will have somebody who understands what the name stands for, something that could be of value as they try to explain why Canadians should come back to the Big Red Machine.

As Martin said in his blurb, Dion is frequently under rated, the Rae and Ignatieff camps may wish to make note of that, if someone is going to come up from the middle it’s the candidate with the most political experience of the bunch. The delegates should remember that sometimes the best candidate for the job, isn’t necessarily the one that has been at the top of the list. Sometimes you have to look a little deeper into the resume pile before you make your decision.

In what is shaping up to be a very close and dramatic campaign, the last act of the melodrama may go to the most under rated person on the stage, under rated, but perhaps the most deserving of the bunch.

Looking For Help in the “Big Picture Planning”

The Prince George based, Opinion 250 website has fixed its gaze towards the west to see how the other Prince is preparing for the “boom” to come.

In the report they basically repeat the list of projects planned for the city over the next two years or so, and wonder aloud if we are ready for the challenges of increased growth and the inevitable growing pains that come with it.

There’s not much new in any of this, though the mayor does express concern about getting caught up in a “tidal wave and being behind the eight ball an not able to catch up.” AS well as looking for assistance it those Big Picture things beyond our resources and control.

It makes for an interesting look at how developments planned for here are being perceived not only out of town but at city hall as well.

Is Rupert Ready For the Boom?
250 News
Monday, November 27, 2006 04:01 AM

By all accounts, Prince Rupert is sitting on the edge of a boom. With the development of the new shipping Port, the City’s population of just under 14,000 is expected to climb. CN Rail President Hunter Harrison is quoted as saying “We think Prince Rupert will hit, and hit big.”

The National Post named the coastal city as the number one city ready to boom. The July article quoted Port Authority President Don Krusel as saying the new facility, that will open in the fall of next year, is expected to surpass its Vancouver counterpart by 2010 “Everything that we do at the port authority has a big and very profound impact on the community,"

Terminal One is expected to create 250 jobs on site, Phase Two has the expectation of creating up to 700 more jobs.

Then there’s the work by CN, the rail company’s own promotional video talks about major CN expansion in the area.

According to the Economic Development Corporation of Prince Rupert, the Container terminal isn’t the only project in the works, although its construction cost of nearly $700 million dollars for the two phases make it the most expensive.

Here are a couple of other projects listed by the EDC for Prince Rupert:


Ridley Terminals
Wood ellet/sulphur shipping

Westpac, LNG terminal
Liquid natural gas terminal

Royop, shopping complex
25 acre shopping complex

Gaming Centre
Gaming, Entertainment, Conference Centre, Condos and Marina

Katabatic Power, Wind Farm
14 Wind Turbines on Mount Hays

Sun Wave Forest Products
Pulp mill/industrial park

But can Prince Rupert handle the boom?

Prince Rupert’s Mayor Herb Pond has concerns.

“The reality is, we are dealing with a major shift in the North West demographic” Pond told the Northern Health Authority Board. “I am concerned that with the planning that is being done, that all the agencies involved are not prepared for the wave that is about to crash on the northwest.”

Pond says the troubles experienced by the booming oil patch communities in the north east part of B.C. are lessons from which the northwest can learn and develop a plan to “do it better.”

Pond isn’t just talking about health care, “We know the resources are not up to the challenge.” He says there needs to be some plan to deal with infrastructure, that the airport has challenges with both location and capacity, and there are issues with communications technology “These are issues that are beyond our capacities to deal with” says Pond, “We need help on the big picture planning.”

While he knows there are changes in the wind, Pond worries the changes may be bigger than anticipated “I am concerned we will move into this tidal wave already behind the 8 ball and constantly trying to catch up.”

Northern Health Chair Jeff Burghardt understands the Mayor’s call but says there is still time to grow with the Port development “There area lot of things that will happen, but I think we need to remember that the initial phase of this container terminal is about a shuttle train service that runs from Prince Rupert to Chicago.”

Burghardt says it will take a number of years before the local-regional opportunities develop “Initially this is about getting containers from China as quickly as possible into the heartland of America, secondly, it is about localized and regional economic development and those opportunities I don’t think will materialize in the first 18 to 24 months of this operation.”

Burghardt says everyone in the north will need to be involved in the dialogue about how this container port will impact the local and regional economies “All of us who are residents in the north will have to be careful how we respond to it, that we aren’t too slow, but that we also aren’t too fast.”

Posted on Monday, November 27, 2006 04:01 AM in News by 250 News

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Perhaps not a sentiment completely shared by the paying customers

Heather Ramsey, a Queen Charlotte Islands resident and frequent contributor to The Tyee has posted a fascinating story about BC Ferries and the service they provide to British Columbians.

According to a quality of service report commissioned by the Ferry Corporation, they are doing a great job of providing service to the coastal communities of British Columbia. This great achievement apparently was made possible despite the absence of a major vessel through the summer and continuing problems with the remaining one through the fall and winter season.

As always seems to be the case when these things are made public, word of this report was presented in the same week that the Ferry Corporation was forced to unexpectedly suspend service to the North Coast and Queen Charlotte Islands, because the only ferry left to service the line needed to have emergency repairs made to it.

The net result of all of this has been a number of inconvenienced residents left to scramble for alternate modes of transportation, no longer able to depend on the ferry service to meet their needs. Combine that with a summer of discontent and cancelled tourism trips and you have to wonder exactly what kind of wording they used in their survey.

One thing is certain though, it’s a good thing this past week wasn’t a survey week, otherwise we suspect that the results would be a little less to the Ferry Corporations liking.

You can view the entire article from the Tyee website here.

The Blissmeister shares his point of view

The now famous EBay poster the Blissmeister came forward on Friday to give his side of the percolating story over BC Ferry log books and the controversy that has swirled around him for the last 48 hours or so.

It was a poor choice of words and some regrettable editing on the EBay site that led to his sudden rush to fame. As the Vancouver media grabbed onto the story and as things seem at the moment, got a tad ahead of it.

The main point of the story, those now infamous log books turned out to have been purchased at The Bargain Store of all places, purchased as blank month to month, two year planners designed to go along with the theme of the auction. According to the Blissmeister, he at no time described them as having been retrieved or acquired from the ill fated BC Ferry.

But as we have learned over the last few months, any suggestion what so ever that something involves a BC Ferry and the story can run a red flag up the pole, in this case turning what should have been a simple on line auction into a mystery worthy of Le Carre.

The Daily News featured the story on its front page and on its website on Friday. Which we provide below for our Podunkian audience, with a reminder that Daily news content is available online at their website in its entirety on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Logbook outcry a big mix up says would-be seller
Man says proposed sale has nothing to do with missing books from ferry
By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Friday, November 24, 2006
Pages one and two

A Prince Rupert man who caused a stir with his EBay auction of Queen of the North pictures and so-called ‘logbooks’ says the whole ordeal is a big misunderstanding.

“That these are the logbooks missing from the Queen of the North, those words are not my words,” said the Ebayer known as ‘Blissmeister’. “This (radio broadcaster) from Vancouver didn’t know the whole story, so he just decided to fill in the blanks, well those blanks shot me is what happened.”

Since the story of his online auction broke Tuesday, the Rupertite said things have been a nightmare and his phone hasn’t stopped ringing all because of a poor choice of words.
Blissmeister said that when he posted his auction, EBay cut off the bottom picture of his upload which showed what the ‘sealed’ manila envelope he was selling along with 75 pictures contained — two day planners, one of a lighthouse and one with two teddy bears in sailor hats.

“They only give you 25 characters to put your auction in the title,” he said. “Month-to-month two-year day planner never would have fit in the auction title, but they’re log books, they’re nautically-themed logbooks designed to compliment the nautical theme of my auction.”
The intent of adding the planners was simply to make the auction more of a packaged deal, with the photos being offered as the main part, their sale was as part of a collection to memorialize the ship, he said.

“I thought I’d let it go to a more deserving collector,” said the EBayer. “The logbooks, they’re brand new I just bought them to go along with the theme of my auction — sellers do it all the time.

“But EBay pulled the auction for the reason of it being ‘stolen property’, which is what B.C. Ferries told them. Ironically, I still have the receipts of the two logbooks I picked up at The Bargain Store.”

Blissmeister said he did not even know that B.C. Ferries kept logbooks aboard their vessels or even that some had gone missing until a reporter had asked about it.

“They just assumed, whoever did the reporting, that these were the logbooks from the ill-fated boat, but if you read the description (of the auction) I never said that,” he said.

“If I had said I had the logbooks from the sunken ship it would b a totally different story.”
The EBayer has not yet spoken to B.C. Ferries, but said he has stopped answering his phone.
He said he will check the numbers of those who have called and call the company back to tell them he doesn’t have their property.

To find out how to subscribe to the Daily News (we can mail the paper anywhere), please give us a call at (250) 624-6785 or call toll free 1-800-343-0022.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Podunkian Music Club

The Rolling Stones-Sympathy for the Devil

The world’s geriatric rock and roll machine rolled into Vancouver tonight, performing a remake for the show cancelled earlier in the month when Mick Jagger developed throat problems.

The Stones while one of the wonders of the aging process, still manage to not only rock out with one of the most professional of shows, they still pack the big halls, long after many of their contemporaries have retired to the lounges or to a greater reward. And while they now play the Regina’s, Bismarck’s and Halifax’s of the concert world, it’s more as case of “we haven’t been there yet,” rather than as a gig for the sake of a gig.

Tonight on the Music Club, we’ll take you back to the heyday of their early success, the late sixties when revolution (amongst other substances) was in the air and the music was electric.

From the Rock and Roll circus, we bring Sympathy for the Devil one of the most amazing of Stones songs ever recorded. In our selection a youthful Mick, Keith and the boys find a little help from their friends, as they lay down the licks to what many feel is one of the greatest Rolling Stone songs ever. It also gives a glimpse to the two competing attitudes of the era, why parents were aghast at their children’s new choice of icon and perhaps why the kids were so inclined in the first place. It was all so very different and for some a little bit scary.

It defined the early era of the Stones as the bad boys of rock roll; a year later a performance at Altamont, which was steeped in violence at the California concert setting brought to an end the feel good aura of the late sixties and introduced a harsher, more unforgiving era of rock.

The Internet Movie Data Base describes 1968’s Rock and Roll Circus as such: Originally filmed in December 1968, "The Rock and Roll Circus" was originally intended to be released as a television special. The special was filmed over two nights and featured not only the Rolling Stones but The Who, Jethro Tull (with future Black Sabbath guitarist Tommy Iommi filling in for the recently departed Mick Abrahams), Marianne Faithful and an all-star jam featuring John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Micthell.

Many others in rock that that traveled these roads with the Stones would fall off the path as the seventies progressed, while the Stones just kept rolling along. Now some four decades later, they may move a little slower but still command a performance as the Royalty of Rock and Roll.

Artist—The Rolling Stones
Recording-Rock and Roll Circus DVD

Restaurants rule the day at Chamber awards

The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce held their annual awards night last weekend and local restaurants seemed to take the bulk of the recognition.0

The Celebration of local Excellence recognized achievement in eight categories, three of which went to establishments that provide for your dining needs.

The Daily news provided a review of the night’s celebration in their Thursday edition.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Page One

The best and brightest of the business community were recognized for their contribution to Prince Rupert on the weekend.

In an event dubbed a ‘Celebration of Excellence’ the Prince Rupert District Chamber of Commerce handed out eight awards in the formal Mardi Gras-themed gathering Saturday.

In the category of Rookie Business of the Year for operators of less than three years, Rain Dining Lounge walked away with the accolade. The tapas bar with a water theme opened in late 2004 and has since held a number of unconventional events including an evening of extreme snowboarding videos, a rum tasting night, and a volleyball tournament that turned a local gravel lot into a beach. The award was sponsored by the Hecate Strait Employment Development Society.

It was the Cow Bay Café that took Small Business of the Year honours, for those businesses with more than three years under their belt but less than 25 employees. Chef Adrienne Johnston’s waterfront spot is a favourite of locals and many who visit the community.

“Small business is, as you know, the backbone of any city or town,” said Bill Parmar, representing award sponsor Excel Printing.

In the field of Community Involvement, Overwaitea Foods was recognized for its contribution to everything from sports, the arts and local community groups. It is a contribution the company pledged to continue in the future. The award was sponsored by Community Futures Development Corporation of the Pacific Northwest.

The award for Best Customer Service, sponsored by Rainbow Chrysler Dodge Jeep went to the Crest for their “exceptional customer service on a consistent basis.”

“We hold this award in the highest regard, said Scott Farwell, Crest Hotel operations manager.

For Non-Profit of the Year, the Prince Rupert Wildlife Rehabilitation Shelter took the award for their work with animals from around the region. Recipients Gunter and Nancy Golinia have spent their retirement tirelessly looking after sick, injured or abandoned wild animals often at their own expense. Their award was sponsored by RBC Financial Group and Port City Ford.

The Chamber’s integrity Award went to a company with a new name that still believes in old values – CityWest.

“A company doesn’t have integrity, the people do,” said CityWest representative Chad Cunningham. The Award was sponsored by SpeeDee Your Office Experts.

The City Ambassador program was given to Walter Smith for his enthusiastic promotion and support of the community.

“I’m going to accept this on behalf of not just myself, but all ambassadors,” said the modest Smith whose long standing commitment to Rupert is well documented.

The award was sponsored by Standard Radio.

The final award of the evening for Business of the Year went to a 72 year old institution – Storey’s Excavating. The award was sponsored by the Chamber.

Past presidents of the chamber selected the nominees for the awards and members decided the winners.

Oh Boy! What might have been on EBay?

An on line poster by the name of Blissmeister got more than a few minutes of fame this week, as his on line entry to the eBay auction site garnered more than a few lookie loos.

The on line seller posted objects associated with the sunken ferry Queen of the North, including mysteriously wrapped items described as log books. With a bit of a controversy surrounding those books already out there, the idea that they somehow might end up on an on line auction attracted more than a few concerned individuals.

By the end of the week Blissmeister had pulled the items from the auction and said that they had nothing to do with the final journey of the Queen of the North. But for a couple of hours there, it was like something out of a mystery novel and managed to get more than a few people on the North Coast excited about the issue.

Here’s how the Daily News covered the story in its Thursday edition.

Investigation is underway after items appeared for sale on EBay.
By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Pages one and five

Whether it’s a bad joke or a case of misappropriated property, B. C. Ferries intends to get to the bottom of an online auction offering the logbooks from the Queen of the North for sale.

“We’re not aware if it was a practical joke, or what really was the motivation behind it,” said Mark Stefanson, ferries spokesperson.

“We’re trying to determine if they are actually logbooks or not, but we didn’t believe for a minute that they’re actually the log books from the Queen of the North when she was sailing and sunk on March 22 of this year.

“In any event if they’re log books belonging to B. C. Ferries, we certainly want to see them because they wo8uld be our property. We’re going to follow-up and talk to the gentleman in question.”

The eBay auction first came to the company’s attention Tuesday afternoon. Allegedly, a Prince Rupert resident under the online name “Blissmeister” was offering “exclusive” Queen of the North pictures and ‘log books’ noting in his ad that: “I feel as though I have hung on to these items long enough and would rather have a more serious collector have them, I do not own the copyright to any of this stuff and am auctioning it off for collectable purposes only.

“There are approximately 75 photographs, ranging in size … also included in this one-of-a-kind hard-to-find auction lot, are log books which are secured inside the manila envelopes shown below.”

B. C. Ferries alerted the company’s security department and RCMP. The auction was pulled by EBay yesterday.

“We’ve been in contact with the RCMP regarding this issue, but we haven’t advocated any position except that we gave them a heads-up about this and that our security department will be following up with the EBay seller,’ said Stefanson, adding that the company is going to want to see what “Blissmeister” is offering for sale.

We’ll try and establish if they’re B. C. Ferries property or not, and if they’re not and it’s all just a mistake everybody will just get on with life.”

Stefanson explained that all ferries are required to carry logbooks under the Canada Shipping Act.

The logbooks function as a ‘diary’ of the vessel and are kept on a monthly basis before being submitted and kept as an official record at the company’s head office.

More than anything, the company is concerned about a potential security breach if log books have gone missing, he said.

“It’s created a lot of confusion and we just feel we have an onus to follow through and speak with the person involved,” said Stefanson.

“I went to the website myself and he was claiming originally that it was the log book from the Queen of the North, although interestingly enough there’s no photograph except for two manila envelopes.

“We’re just interested to find out the facts and get to the bottom of this, we’re not interested in chasing this down if it’s just a tempest in the teapot, which it might well be.” According to local RCMP, if no one lodges an official complaint – which B. C. Ferries has not yet done – they will not likely do anything in response. If the auction is just a gag, and a complaint is forwarded to police, RCMP said charges of public mischief could be considered, depending on what was actually said in the EBay auction

So where do the real football fans live?

Two images of a kick off today, at roughly the same time, from opposite ends of a continent.

From Tallahassee, Florida, USA -- Florida v/s Florida State, sunshine and a game time temperature of around 75 above.

From Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada -- Laval v/s Saskatchewan, sunshine and a game time temperature of -20 below.

You have to like any sporting event that starts off with the announcement, ladies and gentleman please remove your toques and join in on the singing of our national anthem. A toque for those not familiar with the term, is a form of headgear that you wear to keep your cranium nice and warm for extended periods in the cold. There were not many toques (let alone parkas) spotted in Florida on this day.

In Saskataoon today, 13,000 football fans sat from start to finish to watch the battle for Canada’s college football championship. That number may seem small compared to the huge crowds of US college football, but with sustained temperatures of -20 one can safely say that the football fans of Saskatchewan are crazy about football, or maybe just crazy.

There is no doubt that Florida and many other places in the USA have some great football fans. But for today when you’re looking for real football fans, look no further than Saskatoon and 13,000 fellow travelers of the Canadian college game.

The above post first appeared on my Twelve Men on the Field blog, for more items about Canadian Football check it out.