Tuesday, February 27, 2007

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, February 27

Sell, Sell, Sell, Sell, Sell, Sell, Sell, Sell.

Betcha that nobody was gellin' at the stock market today!

Shanghai Surprise sends out stock market shockwaves

Having spent the bulk of the day lost in the fantasy land of hockey trade madness, it was a bit of a shock to click onto a news portal at 2 pm today and discover that the world was in some kind of mad dash to the bottom of the stock index for the day.

With stock markets around the world apparently collectively having a melt down, it probably wasn't a good day to be a bank account rep in the RRSP department. Pretty hard to be urging folks to throw all of their money into a pit of Asian Gold futures when the big boards are flashing negative signs with a rapid pace.

With many predicting a bit of uncertainty predicted in the world of stocks for the next while as the market decides on the level of the correction to come, one wonders if it is really the time to test out new financial ideas, especially if you're running the Canada Pension Plan.

So it is with interest I see that the federal government and the provinces have quietly relaxed their leash on the board that manages Canadian Pension Plan investments, allowing it to expand its use of derivatives.

A form of financial wizardry that few know much about, but apparently come ready made with enough potential time bombs to make even the most astute investor be cautious.

You have to admit that the timing is delicious, the government frees the Pension Plan to invest our retirement funds into a system of finance that not many know much about, at the same time that system of finance that we think we understands has its biggest loss in the last four years.

With the early returns from Asia promising much of the same kind of drama on Wednesday, perhaps the CPP should hold off on any radical new ways of funding our retirement plans.

Maybe we should just ask for our individual shares to be cashed out and sent to us in the mail, we can buy 649 tickets or stuff it under the mattress. On days like Tuesday, either seems just as sensible as playing a stock market that can lose two hundred points on the strength of a computer glitch!

If the good things are bad, then are the bad things good?

Yesterday it was a study that garlic may not actually do a damn thing about your cholesterol, leaving you instead just another person with really smelly body odour.

Today, it's word that antioxidant supplements such as vitamins A and E, and beta-carotene, may not actually lower your risk of death, but raise it! No doubt something you won't see on any of the television commercials that are popping up telling us that one pill can change your life, no kidding!

Looking at dozens of previous research studies, Copenhagen University researchers determined that we need to rethink the entire rush to pills to solve our ills. Nutritionists took the latest news to reinforce their long held belief that the best way to keep healthy is through a balanced diet and lots of exercise.

Needless to say the proponents of the supplement industry are quick to throw cold water on the reports suggesting that the findings were "worthless".

We await the next study that comes out, which will explain the benefits of a twelve pack of beer, four hamburgers and two stogies a day as a recommended part of your daily regimen.

2006 sees less revenue for PNG

You might find it hard to believe as the natural gas bills arrive in the mailboxes of Podunk this week, but 2006 saw the Northwest gas provider make less money than in years past.

This despite rate increases to local homeowners and colder temperatures; perhaps we’ve all put on an extra sweater.

Obviously there’s quite a bit more involved in the gas business and on Monday The Daily News examined the varying factors involved in the bottom line at PNG.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, February 26, 2007
Pages one and three

It may have been colder in 2006 than it was in 2005, but natural gas customers aren’t jacking up the heat, according to a quarterly report from Pacific Northern Gas (PNG).

The company, the sole supplier of natural gas in the Northwest, announced its fourth-quarter results last week.

According to PNG, overall gas deliveries in 2006 were up by one per cent compared to 2005.

“Increased deliveries in the commercial sector were offset by decreased deliveries in the residential sector,” said the company, in a press release.

“Weather in 2006 was four per cent colder than in 2005, accounting for a portion of increased deliveries to the commercial sector, however residential usage declined due to a small net loss of residential customers as well as strong conservation efforts the company believes are due to higher delivered gas prices for its Western system.”

Pacific Northern Gas also made less money in 2006 than it did in 2005, operating revenues decreased from $160 million in 2005 to $138.8 million in 2006.

This was largely due to the fact that company only bought as much gas as was needed for its current customers and didn’t sell gas back in to the market through off-system gas sales.

PNG does not mark up the cost of gas to its customers on its transmission system, but rather makes its money from fees it charges for transportation.

In 2005, the company brought more gas than the customers on its system needed, and made additional money by reselling that gas back into the volatile natural gas market.

However in 2006, the company made $23.4 million less because it didn’t buy as much excess gas.

In the meantime, the amount the company made for transporting gas to homes and businesses was reduced by $9.7 million in 2006 in comparison to 2005 because of the closure of Methanex in Kitimat.

However, the company did receive a contract termination payment from Methanex in February 2006 for $5.6 million.

PNG rates have gone up significantly since the Methanex closure, more than 15 per cent, outside any fluctuation in natural gas prices.

And last week, the provincial Minister of Energy and Mines announced customers for both B. C. Hydro and PNG can expect to see another increase on their utility bills are part of the provincial government’s green plan.

Energy Minister Richard Neufeld confirmed that the B. C. government plans to slap a surcharge on all public utilities to build its “Innovative Clean Energy Fund,” promised as part of an ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gases laid out in last week’s Throne Speech.

“I can tell you it would be less than on per cent… on domestic consumer utility bills, “ Neufeld said in an interview, noting it will likely require approval from the B. C. Utilities Commission.

Neufeld said the move will affect electricity producers BC Hydro and Fortis as well as natural gas producers including Terasen Gas and Pacific Northern Gas.

He said his ministry is talking to all these utilities about “how we can move this forward to get enough from their revenue to cover the $25 million a year.”

In the Feb. 13 Throne Speech, the government promised to cut current levels of greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia by one third by 2020. It also promised to establish the new Innovative Clean Energy Fund to “encourage the commercialization of alternative energy solutions and new solutions for clean remote energy.”

The news that a utility surcharge would be used to build the fund came as a revelation as B. C. Finance Minister Carole Taylor met reporters before delivering her new provincial budget Tuesday.

“The fund was mentioned in the Throne Speech, it will be funded, it will be in the energy plan when it is released,” said Taylor. “And the minister is currently looking at the notion of a small surcharge on all public utilities.”

Opposition NDP energy critic John Horgan said it is a stretch to announce a fund in the Throne Speech that people would assume was a government initiative, only to find it will be paid for by consumers.

“There’s not a thing wrong with having a fund for innovative, clean energy now and into the future,” he said. “But if you are going to make it a user fee, then call it a user fee,” he demanded.

With files from CP

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, February 26

Spending til you drop never seemed like so much fun in today's Advertising Festival selection.

When your sugar daddy says spend, girl you go spend!

Fort St. John official says Rupert has right idea in dealing with anticipated boom times

With some words to the wise from the northeast, the City Manager of Fort St. John said that the labour force survey currently under way could be a key piece of easing the problems of an economic boom.

John Locher explained how the oil boom of the Peace country led to a perfect economic storm for his community, resulting in immense growth to the city in a short period of time and a serious shortage of skilled labour to keep the boom going.

His thoughts were featured in a front page story in Monday’s Daily news.

Fort St. John’s city manager says skills survey good place to start
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, February 26, 2007
Pages one and three

The results of the labour force survey underway by Community Futures and Economic Development will be key to controlling any future growing pains in Prince Rupert, said the city manager of Fort St. John.

John Locher, who has watched Fort St. John’s growth go from positive to literally unmanageable since joining the city in 1993, said he wished his community had undertaken that planning process well before the oil boom helped create “the perfect economic storm.”

“We don’t hold ourselves out as experts. We are a neigbhour willing to share our story,” said Locher, who spoke at a conference in Prince Rupert earlier this week.

Locher was in town as part of a Community Futures/North Coast Community Assets conference aimed at helping industry, education, health and city leaders take the guess work out of future growth.

Facilitated by LIRN B. C. (Learning Initiatives for Rural and Northern B.C.) the day-long event included three speakers who provided advice on how to manage growth spurts.

Locher said the rise in oil and natural gas prices, coupled with the large agricultural, hydro electric production and forestry enterprises in the area helped create immense growth in his city.

“It created the perfect storm and took our economy from positive to insane,” he said.

The higher paying wages out in the oil patch siphoned off potential employees and “resulted in a trade shortage in all areas.” Including retail, health care, child care and municipal workers, he said.

In 2006, they were still short an estimated 6,000 workers. It’s resulted in immense pressure in the labour market, which now boasts $20 an hour jobs in the fast food sector.

Efforts by the city to attract workers form other areas of Canada to fill the void have not been particularly successful. Rather, it resulted in attracting unskilled labour to a town with no affordable housing.

So the city, province and local educational institutions have teamed up to train their own youth to fill those positions. When the labour force survey for Prince Rupert is released later this spring, Locher recommended Prince Rupert look at similar initiatives to fill future vacancies in the workforce.

“Every apprentice who comes out of the (high school apprenticeship) program gets gobbled up,” he said.

“We should have undertaken a survey of employees required at the early stages and what qualifications were required. We should have issued our own press releases about coming to the region without the necessary accommodation and skills.”

Community Futures began undertaking the largest workforce skills assessment ever done in this region last year. The idea is to discover the strengths and weakness of the current workforce and existing jobs, in order to be better prepared to tackle the future. Called the Pacific Northwest Gateway Skills Initiative, the project will assess what jobs may be in the community in the future, and the skill sets those jobs require.

The results should be available some time this spring.

And these were the good points!

Bad breath and body odour were reported by more than half the raw garlic eaters, and a handful of people in the supplement groups reported flatulence, but there were no major side-effects. There also was virtually no effect on cholesterol levels in any of the groups.

The findings of a recent study on the effects of garlic on cholesterol aren't going to have you rushing to your local produce department anytime soon. Long thought of as a magic bullet by some to curing the problems of high cholesterol and previous studies had suggested that garlic might aid in helping to lower risks for digestive and prostate cancers, or might reduce blood pressure.

As it turns out, well the jury is still out!

Researcher Christopher Gardner, a garlic aficionado himself, was rather disappointed in the outcome of the study, as he puts it; "If garlic was going to have a chance to work, it would have worked in this study".

192 adults took part in the study, popping either raw garlic, garlic pills or dummy pills, six days a week for six months.

We're going out on a limb here, but we suspect that those that were taking the dummy pills had the most active social life, while those with the raw garlic thing happening probably spent more than a few nights home alone wondering why nobody ever called to go out to dinner.

Monday, February 26, 2007

There are many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions

The above is just one of many finely crafted lines in an article by Seymour M. Hersh, about the United States plans for the Middle East.

Hersh gazes into a crystal ball for the New Yorker in the current edition, with a fascinating article on the White House plans not only for Iraq, but Iran, Syria, Lebanon and pretty well every other nook and cranny of the Middle East.

He’s been sounding alarms about the path the US government has been taking for a number of years, and was one of the key journalists behind the Abu Ghraib story of events at the now infamous military prison. He has been a particular thorn in the side of the Bush administration since they began the journey in Iraq and seems to not be the slightest bit shy in continuing on with his efforts.

In his piece for the New Yorker called The Redirection (see link here), Hersh determines that the White House is seeking out a plan for action on Iran able to be executed on 24 hours notice, may very well welcome the balkanization of Iraq and is using an old friend Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia as a point man for many matters of the middle east. He suggests that there is a funding plan in place quite similar to the Iran-contra days of Ronald Reagan, in fact with Bandar’s involvement; it’s very much the same group with the same plans just different customers.

According the Hersh, much like the Iran-Contra days the procurement of funding and actual on the ground work is being done far away from public light, with nary a word to congress, contracting out to the Saudis giving them an arms length arrangement on developments.

An interesting side story of all the turmoil in the Middle East has been the development of a more cordial relationship between the Saudi’s and the Israeli’s, the thought apparently being that resolving issues in Palestine may in the long term, keep the brewing troubles of the region from boiling over in the Arab states. Which is something that has been on the agenda for how many hundreds of years now?

The article provides a number of roads to go down, some appear to be wide open avenues, others dark and dangerous back lanes leading to places not many would not want to travel.

It’s rather doubtful that the Bush Administration will be commenting on Hersh’s findings, in fact the only real official word at all on his investigation has been a declaration from the Pentagon that “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran.”

Considering the nature of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , and his mercurial statements on destroying Israel and his determination to develop a nuclear industry (whatever that may mean), we figure that time will tell if that declaration by the Pentagon holds up for any length of time.

But taking the time to read Hersh’s article surely gives us a chance to learn quite a bit about situations that are well beyond our control, but still of vital importance for us.

Needless to say while the White House is not inclined to comment, the rest of the world of journalism isn’t quite as shy, his article is sparking a number of articles about his findings and the potential impact of them.

BBC--US body to plan attacks on Iran
The Age--US denies 24 hour bombing plan for Iran
Al Bawaba--Report: US working on plan to bomb Iranian targets
The Guardian--Bush is Alan Partridge
New York Post--US is already in Iran
Jurnalo--Seymour Hersh: Pentagon in serious plans to attack Iran
India Economic Times--US planning to strike Iran, says report

Sunday, February 25, 2007

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, February 25

Oscar night was a huge night for Martin Scorsese, with the Departed grabbing four awards including Director and Best Picture. So tonight on the Festival, the TV ad that sets the tone for the movie.

When you're facing a loaded gun what's the difference

Nisga'a statesman elevated to nation's highest honour

Dr. Joseph Gosnell, has been promoted from the title of an Officer of the Order of Canada to a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest ranking a Canadian citizen can reach.

The past leader of the Nisga'a nation has been a major participant in First Nation's affairs not only in his duties with the Nisga'a Lisims government, but with the larger issue of First Nation's affairs in Canada.

The Daily News provided details of the new honour and some background on Dr. Gosnell in the Friday edition of the paper.

Veteran Nisga’a statesman is given nation’s highest honour
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, February 23, 2007

A state leader for the Nisga’a Nation, Dr. Joseph Gosnell, has been promoted within the Order of Canada to the highest level of membership.

On Tuesday, Canada’s Governor General, the Right Honourable MichaĆ«lle Jean, announced 89 new appointments to the Order of Canada, including Gosnell’s promotion from Officer of the Order of Canada to Companion.

The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievements and service to the country. It is Canada’s highest honour for lifetime achievement and has three levels: Companion, Officer and Member.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said was a fitting tribute for a remarkable man.
“Dr. Gosnell has spent his lifetime bringing modern education, health care and resource management to the Nass Valley,” Cullen said. “His dedication as president of the Nisga’a Tribal Council and chief negotiator for the landmark Nisga’a Treaty helped to create a model of aboriginal self-government that has been felt around the globe.

“I know I join with all Canadians in thanking Dr. Gosnell for his extraordinary contributions to our country and our world.”

Fewer than 500 of the 5,200 recipients to date of the Order of Canada have been named Companions. A maximum 165 living people may hold this title. Today, there are 158 Companions in the Order of Canada.

“Dr. Gosnell has spent his lifetime revitalizing Nisga’a culture,” said North Coast MLA Gary Coons.

“His work as president of the Nisga’a Tribal Council and chief negotiator for the landmark Nisga’a Treaty was remarkable.”

Gosnell stepped down from his role as president of the Nisga’a Lisims Government in 2004.

New career options for Ray Emery

Considering the recent trouble that Sens Goaltender Ray Emery found himself in, it's always a wise idea to have a fall back career at the ready.

From the Salon.website, here's something that Ray may wish to keep in mind...

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

And the Oscar goes to…

Well at least a movie I’ve actually seen won for Best Picture, that’s a welcome change to the usual gotta play catch up that I repeat year after year after year.

For those that find that four and half hours plus just isn’t enough of the world of Hollywood, some Oscar themed articles we’ve discovered with a night of Post Award browsing.

Oscar the Official site: Winners and Losers and a lot more

Globe and Mail blogs the Oscars



Fox News


IMDB website



Slate.com you get some right, you get some wrong!


Hollywood Reporter

Tom Shales---Long and Longer

Brian Lowry---a stately if unspectacular-bordering-on-dull affair

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, February 24

Perhaps this is why North American industry struggles, it's the quality of the managers.

When up is down and down is up!

We can’t go on together with suspicious minds…

Progress it seems is being hindered in Prince Rupert by a level of suspicion locally, which seems to work against common goals in the community. Those findings are part of a study conducted by The Centre for Innovative and Entrepreneurial Leadership, who coordinated the study for Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest in March. The study involved 18 people answering 61 questions in order to assess where Prince Rupert is in terms of community development.

And while 18 participants out of a total population of some 14,000 may seem like a small number to build any kind of consensus about life on the North Coast on, there is certainly a sense of suspicion that runs as an undercurrent in the city. Whether it’s from the workings of City Hall, to provincial and Federal offices, or the local business community, there is always a vocal group in the city that suggests that few have the best interests of the people of the city in mind when they make their decisions.

Whether it’s the ever popular topic of closed door sessions at city hall, the out of town decisions from DFO in Ottawa and the provincial government in Victoria, or the frequently mentioned Third Avenue Businesses cabal that supposedly once controlled the city, suspicion has always seemed to be the currency of life in Prince Rupert.

It’s bound to be the elephant in the room for any level of government hoping to get its message across. It reflects some of the work that needs to be done locally to make the community feel as though they have not only a stake in the workings of the city, but an actual participatory phase to work with as well.

It will be interesting to see if the report changes those perceptions or just gathers dust on a shelf like many other studies of the past. The full details of the report and what it hopes to achieve were found in Friday’s Daily News.

Maybe since we opened with the wisdom of Elvis, maybe we can take heed of his thoughts to close, perhaps what we need is a little less conversation and a little more action.

Suspicion and mistrust in the way of progress
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, February 23, 2007

Prince Rupert has some serious trust issues, says a new study.

According to an assessment of Prince Rupert’s strengths and weaknesses, organizations within the community have problems trusting each other and building relationships.
This is despite the fact that individuals within the community work well together and have a strong sense of pride.

Stacy Barter, director of education and program development at the Centre for Innovative and Entrepreneurial Leadership, went through the results of the Community Matrix Assessment at a meeting hosted by Community Futures and North Coast Community Assets on Wednesday.
“Prince Rupert came out in the emergence phase (of community development),” said Barter.

“What that means in a very general sense is there is a strong sense of community, shared history, generally you have good intentions ... but it generally can be challenging to work together towards common goals...”

There are four stages of community development ranging from the ‘chaos’ phase, to ‘emergence’ to ‘developing’ to ‘highly developed’. Being in the ‘emergence’ phase means organizations here may have stopped throwing chairs at each other, but some still aren’t working together effectively for the benefit of the community or may be territorial.

“On the one hand. people are saying there is a willingness to work together. On the other hand, they are saying there are issues between divisions in the community that sometimes limit people working together,” said Barter.

The Centre for Innovative and Entrepreneurial Leadership conducted the study for Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest in March. It involved 18 people answering 61 questions to assess where Prince Rupert is in terms of community development.

“These trust issues can be a limiting factor,” she said. “There were a number of comments about people working in silos, a perception of turfism or being territorial between groups and some of the comments have to do with divisions along racial lines and the need to address issues of racism.”

Another issue that came up was communication.

“I think this connects with the issue around trust ... you scored quite low on divisive community issues and civilized debate, a good flow of information and inclusive respectful conversion,” she said.

Yet on the positive, people rated the community as being vital, having a strong sense of pride and celebrating itself.

The report recommends that in order to build trust, finding a qualified consultant be engaged to provide conflict resolution training.

This should be linked with any strategic planning the community is undergoing, such as the Official Community Plan.

“In this way, any conflicts that are getting in the way of community planning can be addressed as the plan is developed. Otherwise, lack of trust may make a planning process ineffective,” recommends the report.

The results of the report were reflective of some complaints council has been hearing about the Official Community Plan Review currently underway.

The plan will lay out the vision the community has for its future.

Some people have expressed concern that because the city has not held community-wide meetings in the early stages of developing the plan, that not everyone will have their say.
Instead, the city has had its consultant conduct 20 focus sessions with about a dozen people in each as well as a phone survey.

2800 CN employees asked to return to the job as tentative settlement reached

The fifteen day strike at the nation’s largest railway has come to an end as negotiators and officials reached a resolution to the dispute, with union officials urging their employees to return to work pending a ratification vote. That vote will be conducted starting Monday as union members receive a copy of the tentative agreement and a ballot which is expected to be returned and counted by the end of March.

On Friday, the Federal Government had introduced back to work legislation to bring an end to the dispute, debate and a vote on that was to commence on Monday in Ottawa. While no word has been provided from the government yet, it is hoped that the back to work legislation will be delayed pending the announcement of the results of the vote.

The strike has resulted in a large number of economic problems for many of Canada’s industries, most notably locally the state of the Prince Rupert Grain elevator which has seen a large volume of ships build up in the harbour, waiting for grain that has yet to arrive.

With the settlement of the strike and a return to a sense of normalcy, it’s hoped that that backlog will soon be reduced and a more reliable system of delivery can return.

The Globe and Mail covered the events leading up to the settlement and explains the process from here to get the trains back on time.

Deal reached to end CN Rail strike
Canadian Press
February 24, 2007

MONTREAL — CN and the United Transportation Union say they have reached a tentative deal to end a strike by 2,800 railway conductors and yard-service workers.

The union says it is maintaining its strike mandate but is urging its members to return to their jobs pending a ratification vote.

Results of the vote will not be available until near the end of March.

Union members will be mailed a copy of the tentative agreement along with a ballot on Monday, and they will have until March 26 to mail in their ballots. The ballots will be counted in Ottawa the same day.

"The 2,800 employees and members of the union, which are conductors and yard-service employees, remain on strike pending ratification," Mark Hallman, spokesman for CN management, told The Canadian Press late Saturday.

"We, at this time, continue to have management personnel filling in for striking UTU members, but, we do note that the union is urging its members to return to work during the ratification process and we're encouraged by that," said Hallman.

UTU spokesman Frank Wilner confirmed that the transit union would be encouraging its workers to return to work.

"We are asking our members to go back to work immediately," said Wilner.

CN continues to offer freight service with management personnel filling in for the strikers. Passenger and commuter train service have not been affected.

On Friday, the federal government tabled legislation ordering the striking employees back to work, warning of potential economic chaos from a walkout that has already hurt key industries.
Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn told the House of Commons that the strike couldn't be allowed to continue in the face of layoffs, backlogs and supply shortages throughout industry and in communities across the country.

MPs are scheduled to deal with the legislation this week.

Chief union negotiators John Armstrong and Robert Sharpe said in a release that they hope the union's call for workers to return to their jobs "will greatly reduce the possibility of the Canadian government continuing to move forward on back-to-work legislation until such time as the ratification process is completed and the results are known."Federal Labour Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

Chucky Danger Band rolls into Rupert

As a companion piece to our Music Club selection this week, here's a feature from the Daily News about the band out of Belfast, PEI who are creating a buzz in the Canadian Music Industry.

Band a dangerous mix of new talent
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
Special to the Daily News
Friday, February 23, 2007

A band that’s seeing rotation on Much Music and now Much Loud of its hit single Marching Machine makes a two-day stop in Prince Rupert this weekend.

The Chucky Danger Band, winners of the 2006 East Coast Music Awards for Best Pop Recording of the Year, will perform at the Lester Centre of the Arts.

The group is booked for school shows on Friday — for high school and Grade 7 classes — and Saturday evening it will play the Lester Centre as one of the Prince Rupert Concert Society’s season offerings.

It will be the band’s last stop on a month-long tour of Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii and the Northwest.

All in their early 20s, the four young men emerged on the Canadian music scene two and half years ago.

They began playing music together when John MacPhee (acoustic guitar and lead vocals) returned from a three-month stint overseas where he had been teaching Cambodian women how to cook western food.

“It sounds kind of strange but I had worked in restaurants and trained under a chef and this opportunity came up,” MacPhee said from Hazelton on Tuesday evening.

While in Cambodia, MacPhee wrote a collection of poems and what he described as semi-songs.
“They captured some of the feelings I was kicking around after being there for three months.”
When he got back to his home town Belfast, Prince Edward Island, he showed them to his older brother Rob MacPhee (bass) and long-time friend Colin Buchanan (lead guitar).

The three started turning the poems in to songs and with the addition of Dave MacDonald (percussion) from another Island community, Brudenell, it wasn’t long before they were ready to perform their first show on Canada Day in Charlottetown.

From there, the group began doing more shows, was asked to record a studio album by CBC’s Atlantic Airwaves, and by 2006 released a debut full-length CD, Colour.

“Our music is pop/rock but that doesn’t tell the reader much. I guess it’s a mix between modern rock, smart rock, rock ‘n’ roll and a little bit of folk. We’re also singer-songwriters with stories about each song,” said MacPhee.

While on this tour, the band’s found the response from the schools has been overwhelming. They’ve also noticed that radio requests for their music has increased since the tour began.
“The B.C. audience has a large appetite for live music,” MacPhee said. “The theatres seem to be really organized and we’ve sold out a couple of shows.”

The West Coast has inspired the Chucky Danger Band to write some new songs and over the last few days they’ve been finishing one called Queen Charlotte in tribute to the island after visiting there last week.

MacPhee said they want to show everyone how inspiring B.C. is in this song and may be trying it out when they perform in Prince Rupert.

Show time is 8 p.m. Feb. 24. Tickets available at Cook’s and the Lester Centre.

For more information about the band go to www.chuckydangerband.com

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Podunkian Music Club

The Chucky Danger Band-Marching Machine

It's not very often that ole Music club gets to look at a band that actually plays this far into the boondocks, normally those musical acts that pick the far west end of Highway Sixteen are on the slope heading away from their best years.

However, this weekend a new and pretty energetic act pulled into town for a show that took place at the Lester Centre for the Arts on Saturday night. The Chucky Danger Band, hails from Prince Edward Island and have been generating a bit of a buzz across the country since their breakout at the East Coast Music Awards.

Featuring a youthful lineup of Maritimers they kick out some pretty high tempo rock, have a video that makes the occassional foray into rotation at Much Music and are becoming the hit of the You Tube generation. If you check out the You Tube site and enter the band's name you'll find some pretty devoted kids singing their praises. Not to mention their MySpace site which is attracting a fair amount of attention as well.

Tonight on the Music Club we find a video from the band's website, we feature Marching Machine.

The band is an interesting mix of talents and seem to have a pretty decent handle on how to get the music across to their audience. They provided a free sample to the young folks of Rupert on Friday with a number of sessions at the Lester Arts Centre, this is impressive in a number of ways, 1) the fact that a rock band can arise before 9 am and put on a show is something that is pretty cool and perhaps a sign of the changing times in music. 2) Tapping that audience that now has their keyboards directed at Much Music and iTunes gives the band a good shot at video play on Much and track sales at the iTunes Music store. 3) Their use of MySpace, YouTube and such shows perhaps the future of the music business a worrisome thing for the companies that have run the show for so long. It also shows that band is quite aware of what it's going to take to climb the music industry food chain.

Add on to that the fact that the band and their songs are providing some pretty good entertainment and you get the feeling that the Chucky Danger Band will be moving along pretty quickly, a quick comparison might be to the Killers who seem to have come out of nowhere to major success in the States. These young guys from PEI could find similar success in Canada with the current path that they are on.

A path which judging by Rupert's track record for rock concerts means we probably won't see them around here again until they've released their fourth or fifth hit album and begin the senior citizens of rock tour of venues. Which is our loss, the little preview I took in on Friday and the material on their website shows that they've got a pretty good sound and with a bit of luck and some creative marketing we'll be hearing more of them in the not too distant future.

For some background on the Rupert show, here's the item from the Prince Rupert Daily News.

Artist—Chucky Danger Band

Friday, February 23, 2007

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, February 23

Considering the problems of Taco Bell today with their unwanted visitors, they may want to revisit the days when the Taco Bell dog ran a pretty tight ship...

Here lizard, lizard

With the economy off the rails, the Government looks to put CN workers back on them.

Citing “economic chaos”, the Conservative Government has introduced back to work legislation for CN workers currently on their fourteenth day on the picket lines. With Canada’s industrial giants, transportation companies and supplier groups all expressing frustration and concern for the country’s economic health, the government put forward its plans in the House of Commons today.

CN’s 2800 employees on strike are now involved in a nasty internal dispute between their Canadian local reps and the International leadership who were never in favour of the strike in the first place.

Earlier today, there were reports of some CN workers returning to work in the east while western union members remained on strike, union officials offered up a figure of 80 per cent for those members still on a picket line. The International leadership replaced the Canadian bargaining unit earlier this week and those negotiators suggest that a solution is in sight and that the legislated return to work won’t be needed.

However, with the economy starting show major fissures from the two week dispute, the Government intends to keep to its timetable which will have the motion up for a vote next week.

The Globe and Mail provided a helpful guide to the situation on its website today.

One person who won’t be voting for a back to work edict will be Nathan Cullen of the NDP and the Member of Parliament for BulkleyValley-Skeena. Cullen in the Daily news today objected to the measure, as he’s concerned about CN’s safety record and feels that the union is on strike as a reflection of CN’s lack of attention to matters of safety.

He outlined his thoughts on the situation in the Daily News on Friday.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, February 23, 2007
Page one

Despite the $150,000-a-day in demurrage fees being paid by the Canadian Wheat Board and their suppliers while grain ships sit idle in Prince Rupert Harbour, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen will not be supporting back-to-work legislation to end the rail strike.

The strike by the United Transportation Union, which is now entering it 13th day, has slowed CN Rail’s shipping across the country. In Prince Rupert, there are currently seven ships waiting to load grain and coal, the result of both poor rail performance during the past two months and strike action by the United Transportation Union. Five more ships are due in the next few days.

While Cullen admits that the strike has resulted in delays for mills in his riding that want to move their product to market and more than a million dollars in added costs for wheat producers, he believes the union has a number of legitimate safety concerns about the current CN Rail proposal.

“I have heard from some CN workers who say this is not about money for them, this is about safety,” said Cullen. “They’ve described what CN is proposing — to have them work almost twice as much and extend their hours into what I think is really dangerous territory.”

Cullen said if government steps in and breaks the strike, a threat being made by the Conservative Labour Minister (see story on page 2), it will result in an even worse safety record.
“(CN Rail’s) culture has changed fundamentally is the last four or five years as it has been taken over by American interests and there is very little interest in safety.”

A vote to legislate the UTU back to work is expected in the House some time next week.
Cullen said both the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois will oppose the legislation however the Liberals are keeping their cards close to their chests.

“I don’t know (what happens if the vote doesn’t get support) I doubt Mr. Harper would want to bring his government down on a rail strike, he might but I doubt,” said Cullen.

In the meantime, the NDP is supporting a private member’s bill that would ban replacement workers being employees, such as the ones CN Rail is using to keep some trains moving.
“There are a number of studies we have looked at ... it leads to more labour peace and more certainty for the employers,” said Cullen.

He added the NDP is investigating a number of complaints of breaches of the Transportation Safety Board rules because workers from the U.S. and management are allegedly operating trains “beyond the guidelines that are set out.”

Child care oversights have critics’ attention.

The Liberal budget announced on Tuesday is missing one very important group of citizens say critics. As Child care gets put on the back burner as part of a federal provincial spat over funding, concerned groups are suggesting that the province needs to reassess its position and take some pro active action to ensure quality child care is available to all British Columbians.

They’re concerns were outlined in the Thursday edition of the Daily News.

By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Page one and three

While the provincial budget is being applauded for tax cuts and millions new housing, critics are blasting the government for doing it on the back of child care services.

“While it’s good to see increases (to social services) rather than cuts, the tax cuts show that the government can afford to improve the services that British Columbians rely on,’ said Ken Davidson, CUPE B. C. vice-president.

“It’s not good enough to simply blame the federal government for child care cuts. The fact is that we can afford child care, British Columbian families need child care, but it’s not a priority for the Liberals.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons told the B. C. Legislature on Tuesday that the province’s handling of child care challenges was “negligent” and reflects a government that’s both “irresponsible and lacking in vision.”

The failure of the premier and the Liberals to acknowledge child care illustrates the government’s complete irresponsibility and lack of vision when it comes to challenges facing B. C. families.” Coons told the Legislature in response to the budget.

”B. C. was the only province in Canada that didn’t make an effort to negotiate with the federal government to maintain funding, and B. C is the only province in Canada to bring in cuts as a result.

“That’s shameful.”

Coons spoke of the effects the cuts will have across the Northwest if the Berry Patch closes and also of the impact closing the Queen Charlotte Child Care Resource and Referral Centre will have on the islands. He also attacked the government for failing to deal with the critical shortage of child care spaces in Prince Rupert.

“The end result of this government’s ignoring of British Columbians will be no new spaces for Prince Rupert and an explosion of illegal child care situations, once again putting children at risk,” he said. “This type of Liberal neglect is one reason why British Columbia still has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, despite high commodity prices and increased government revenues.”

On Jan. 5, Child Care Resource and Referral centres were cut 77 per cent, effectively closing most of them.

There is talk of regional centres being opened in their place.

Grants that offer operating costs for licensed day care facilities were also cut 27 per cent. The province blames the Government of Canada for cancelling provincial-federal child care agreements.

In lieu of those agreements, parents were individually sent funds.

Make a run for the window

Taco Bell/KFC is receiving more unwanted attention as a New York restaurant becomes the thing of You Tube legend, thanks to an influx of rats that have apparently taken over the Greenwich Village eatery.

The chain closed the outlet today after the rat problem was discovered, while New York news services flocked to the windows to film the rodents flying around the abandoned restaurant. Part of the problem seems to be associated with construction taking place in the basement of the building the restaurant is located in, causing the rats to move above ground and finding that Tacos and chicken might be to their liking.

The New York Health Board had previously toured the building in December and noted that there was “evidence of rats”, which was determined at the time to suggest the appearance of rat droppings, but not the visual evidence of a colony taking over the building.

The chain vows to not reopen the business until the problem is solved and the rats eliminated. What will be interesting to see is if the regular patrons return after having seen their competitors cavorting on the tables and counters.

Rural Communities left out in cold with Provincial Budget

The BC Liberals brought in their 2007 budget this week, a bit of shifting of the financial abacus that will benefit the Liberal strength in the cities, while leaving the rural areas of the province continuing to suffer the effects of other Liberal policies without redress.

At least, that’s the impression that the NDP representative for the North Coast, has of Carol Taylor’s pronouncements in the Legislature. Taylor revealed the Liberal’s plans on spending this year and while some increases were made to the social safety net with social assistance getting a slight boost, many suggest that it’s a mere drop in the bucket as to what is truly needed to survive in the larger BC cities and their high cost of living.

The budget, which was being touted early on as a “housing budget”, will use some of the riches gained from the province’s booming economy to reduce taxes and address housing and environmental concerns. However, it would seem that only the relatively wealthy would be making the best use of some of these budget gifts, for instance ten percent reductions in imcome tax will be available to anyone making up to 108,000 dollars, but clearly the more you earn the more you save. It was the second cut to provincial income tax in the last five years, the Liberals reduced the tax rate by 25% back in 2001.

However, Gary Coons, who represents the local riding, wondered aloud where the support for education, housing and seniors might be in the financial plan laid out on Tuesday. Calling it a downtown Vancouver budget, Coons didn’t see much that he though would benefit the rural areas of the province and instead seems to see a Liberal party that is pandering to its base, judging by his commentary delivered to the Daily News on Thursday.

MLA also wanted mention of forests, rural health, mining and more in budget
By Leanne RitchieThe Daily News
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Pages one and three

The B. C. Liberals handed out goodies in the Lower Mainland, but left rural communities and working families holding an empty bag in the 2007 budget, said North Coast MLA Gary Coons.

“Carol Taylor’s budget was a ‘downtown’ Liberal budget. There was nothing about forests, mining nor conserving our wild stocks,” said Coons. “Rural health care, concerns with class composition and the closure of schools were also left off the list.”

Taylor made the budget announcement Tuesday. The Liberal government, backed by a booming economy, will use its surplus billions to drive the most ambitious housing, taxation and environmental agendas in Canada, she said.

However, critics complain the details of the government’s green agenda are still not clear and the housing plan and tax cuts mostly benefit better-off British Columbians.

Coons said the speech failed to mention key forest policy issues and support for communities devastated by Liberal forest practices have been left to fend for themselves.

There was also no mention of support to facilitate a cooperative and sustainable approach to a transportation strategy for trade entering and running through B. C. and Western Canada.

There was also no mention of the Port of Prince Rupert.

“It’s a real disappointment for those outside the Lower Mainland that thought we actually might ‘share the wealth’ of the $2 billion surplus,” he said.

Coons noted that despite the Liberals’ grand promises around environmental issues made in last week’s Throne Speech, the only environment initiatives in the budget include an extension of the $2,000 provincial sales tax break on the purchase of hybrid vehicles and a promise to spend $4 million to help form the premier’s climate action team.

“In last week’s Throne Speech, the premier promised B. C. would be a leader in climate change,” said Coons.

“But the budget failed to follow through on his green promises. Instead, the Campbell government has delivered a budget that does nothing to address global warming and does little to address the challenges facing working families today.”

Coons added that budget does not adequately address the province’s growing health care crisis.

“Under the Campbell government’s watch, hospitals are pushed to the limit, ER’s are gridlocked, and private care has flourished, prompting the premier’s own hand-picked appointees to resign in protest. The failure of this government to address the critical home support for seniors is shameful,” he said.

“The Finance Minister claims that health care funding is adequate. But her budget does nothing to meet the long-term needs of our health care system.

Coons was also unimpressed by the province’s proposal to create more shelter beds.

“His government’s solution is to create more shelter beds- temporary beds that do not provide the homeless with a place to call their own,” said Coons. “And by converting existing social housing to supportive housing units, this government threatens to cut the number of existing affordable housing for low-income families even further.

Coons said the $50 increase in welfare rates was a good start but he expects nutritionists to conclude that will not be enough money to significantly improve a person’s diet.

But he acknowledged many people will appreciate the 10 per cent personal income tax cut and the cuts to Transition Houses look like they might be restored as money for staffing on a 24 hour basis was announced.

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, February 22

It seems that everyone has an iPod these days, the little music players are almost a body part now as opposed to a musical accessory. Our ad tonight, comes from the early days of the iPod and introduce the world to the concept of portable music. 1,000 songs in your pocket, 100 steps to your door.

It makes you wanna jump!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

New Ferry to come with new cabin prices

When the Northern Adventure takes to plying the waters of the North Coast this spring, residents will be traveling with more modern amenities, but paying more money for the privilege. Those traveling on the Queen of Prince Rupert won’t be quite so lucky in the amenities department, but they’ll get the chance to pay more money just as well.

The Queen Charlotte Observer has run a story on their website that outlines the price increase for those looking for a little privacy on their journey. With the high end cost of a cabin on the Northern Adventure checking in at 85 dollars for an outside cabin with occupancy of four, and the QPR cabins rising in cost to 55 dollars.

The Queen of Prince Rupert increase won’t come into effect until the Queen comes back into service in June.

Ferries hikes cabin prices
By Alex Rinfret
Queen Charlotte Islands Observer
February 22, 2007

There's good news and bad news about the cabins on the new ferry, which is scheduled to start serving the Charlottes April 1.

The good news is the cabins are bigger and newer than the two-bunk 1960s-era rooms on the Queen of Prince Rupert. The new ferry's cabins have four beds each and larger washrooms.
But they will cost more, as Tlell resident Don Richardson found out when he booked a trip off-island last week. Dr. Richardson, who is going to an April bull sale in Vanderhoof, said he gulped when he was told that a cabin could cost in the $70-80 range. “I was surprised,” he said. “I thought maybe you'd get a jacuzzi for that, and a gas fireplace!”

QPR passengers currently pay $50 for a cabin with a shower. There used to also be cheaper cabins available, but they have been taken over by the crew.

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall confirmed that cabin prices will be going up when the new ferry, the Northern Adventure, arrives on the northern routes April 1. An outside cabin on the Northern Adventure (one with a porthole) will cost at least $65, while an inside cabin goes for a minimum $55. But you'll pay $10 more per person if there are more than two people in the room, Ms Marshall said. The rooms hold four, so that means the cabin cost could go up to $85 for an outside one, and $75 for an inside one.

BC Ferries decided to hike the price because the rooms are newer, nicer, and larger, Ms Marshall said. The additional per person cost reflects the fact that cleaning and laundry costs are higher if more than two beds are used.

The cost of a cabin on the QPR will also be going up when that vessel comes back into service. After June 3, the price rises to $55.

Ms Marshall also said that BC Ferries is conducting random customer satisfaction surveys on the northern routes this month, the first such survey in the north since the ferry system was quasi-privatized in 2003.

Some Sandspit residents who travelled on the Kwuna last week said they thought it was bizarre that BC Ferries was quizzing them about amenities like food and video games, which aren't available on the Kwuna.

Ms Marshall said BC Ferries uses the same form for all its surveys, so some questions will not be applicable to the smaller routes.

Putting the cash into the cashpiels!

So does this mean that curling has finally arrived as a sport in Canada?

It's one of Canada's favourite winter time past times, attracts thousands to curling clubs each year and has finally entered the roster of Olympic sports.

In fact it’s a sport that caused the CBC no shortage of trouble a few years back when they messed with the schedule and the sport has become the programming darling of TSN, which has even gone so far as to bump European Union Soccer Federation matches from their usual mid day slot to the darker reaches of night time programming.

And now curling has a coin to call its own.

Starting tomorrow, Petro Canada stations will be the exclusive distributor for the latest creations of the Royal Canadian Mint. They will be selling exclusive Vancouver 2010 coin sport cards, all designed to hold coins representing sports of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The first of the 25-cent circulation coin and collector cards out of the box will depict the popular sport of curling. By the time the final coin jingles in a pocket, 350 million will have been put into ciruclation featuring 17 different designs.

They’ll probably prove to be of interest to the large and growing curling community, so we can only urge you to HURRY, HURRY, HURRY to your local Petro Can and get one to take back to the HOUSE.

Billboards planned for Highway of Tears

The infamous stretch of highway along Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George, known as the Highway of Tears, could see ten billboards placed along it this spring.

The billboards will be put in place to warn women of the dangers of hitchhiking along the stretch of road. The highway has seen a number of mostly First Nations’ women, go missing from and/or end up dead along, the 724 kilometres between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

The billboards will feature a young woman "thumb in the air" surrounded by a fading row of crosses, with the snow, rain or tears falling and the ghosts of those who have gone before, trying to restrain her from getting in the car.

The billboards are the latest of ideas to keep a high profile of the Highway of Tears cases, a website was created to keep information up to date and provide support for the families of those that have gone missing.

The 10 billboards are based on a painting from by artist Tom McHarg and are just one of the recommendations from last years Highway of Tears symposium.

The Canada.com website had a complete look at the planned project.

Highway of Tears billboards may warn women of B.C. road's dangers
Suzanne Fournier
CanWest News Service; Vancouver Province
Thursday, February 22, 2007

VANCOUVER - British Columbia's so-called Highway of Tears may soon have 10 billboards along its stretch warning female hitchhikers not to retrace the steps of the women who've gone missing there.

Prince George Mayor Colin Kinsley said his council approved the billboards Monday night and the regional district will consider the issue Friday night.

"It's a compelling image and if it stops hitchhiking, that's one important goal, although we also need to look at car-pooling and other options," said Kinsley.

Joanne Monaghan, who has championed the project, says the goal of the billboards, slated to go up along the 724-kilometre stretch of highway from Prince Rupert to Prince George is to prevent hitchhiking and provide a stark reminder of what happened to the missing and dead women found there.

The billboard, based on a painting by artist Tom McHarg, is of a young woman "thumb in the air" surrounded by a fading row of crosses, with the snow, rain or tears falling and the ghosts of those who have gone before, trying to restrain her from getting in the car.

Stephanie Radek says she and her cousin Tamara Chipman, who disappeared near Terrace in 2005, might never have hitchhiked on the highway had they seen the billboards.
Tamara, a young aboriginal mother, was 22 when she vanished.

"I hitchhiked along that highway and I had no idea how dangerous it was so those billboards will definitely help. It wasn't until my cousin Tamara went missing that it all hit home," says Radek, who now lives in Vancouver with her two children.

Her mother, human rights activist Gladys Radek, notes "the billboards were ...only one of the recommendations that came out of the (2006) Highway of Tears symposium.

"We also need public transit, highway phones and we need the police to quit saying there's only nine women missing and no serial killer involved and start a real investigation."

Radek said her own research has documented at least 19 women who have gone missing.
Priscilla Naziel, another family member of a vanished woman, is forwarding research to the RCMP that puts the number of missing or murdered women at 28.

Vancouver Province

Call of the Moose, results in call from superiors for local Inspector in charge

The Vancouver Province is reporting that the local Inspector in charge of the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP is in hot water with his superiors over a recent hunting trip to the Yukon.

The Vancouver Province
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Page A4

An RCMP Inspector in charge of the Prince Rupert detachment has been fined and disciplined by the force for failing to follow regulations while hunting moose in the Yukon.

Insp. Ray Noble improperly tagged a moose he had shot with a friend’s tag. He was fined $1,600 and barred from hunting in the Yukon area for an undisclosed period.

RCMP spokesman Staff-Sgt. John Ward said Noble was also disciplined. He would not discuss the nature of the discipline but said Noble was not removed from active duty.

Local liquor establishments to face larger fines and suspensions if selling liquor to minors

With the local RCMP expressing concern last week over the increasing numbers of young people being collected for being drunk in public, it’s a timely message that is being sent by the Provincial government to the provinces establishments that sell liquor.

While its most likely those young people that are involved in under age drinking are probably engaging in the activity at house parties, there is still a number that may be finding their way into the bars and clubs of the city. It's those youngsters and those that supply them with liquor that the Province is trying to reach with new regulations in effect now.

Solicitor General John Les has announced increases in both the suspensions and monetary value of fines for those establishments convicted of selling liquor to minors.

The minimum amount of time a business will lose its licence will be increased to ten days with a minimum fine rising to 7500 dollars.

The Daily news had the details on the changes in Wednesday’s paper.

Bars face tough underage fines
The Daily News
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Page five

Bar, restaurant and private liquor store owners that sell liquor to minors will face tougher penalties.

“When minors drink alcohol, there can be tragic consequences, such as sexual assaults, car crashes, street fighting and alcohol poisoning,” said Solicitor General John Les. “That’s why restricting access to liquor for minors is a key public safety priority.”

Although regular use of alcohol by B.C. students is decreasing, binge drinking is increasing. A study conducted by the McCreary Centre Society shows 20 per cent of B.C. teens who drink report frequent binge drinking. Binge drinking is associated with risks such as alcohol poisoning and car crashes.

Selling liquor to minors and allowing minors to enter licenced establishments are two of the most common infractions by liquor licensees. The minimum penalty for selling liquor to minors will be increasing to a 10-day licence suspension or a $7,500 fine, compared to the previous four days or $5,000. The minimum penalty for bars who allow minors on the premises will be increased to a four-day licence suspension or $5,000 fine, compared to a previous one-day licence suspension or $1,000 fine.

Looking for a harmonious future

With Prince Rupert already home to a rather diverse population base and the promise of even more change to come in the future, a local group is looking to find a way to welcome all that diversity.

A dialogue on Multiculturalism takes place this weekend on Saturday at the Civic Centre from noon until 4 pm. It’s an event where participants will discuss the state of cultural relations in Prince Rupert, by looking at the past, the present and gazing ahead to the future.

The Daily news provided details and a preview of the day’s events in the Wednesday paper.

Session about finding harmony
By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Page one

As the Asia-Pacific Gateway drives the North American economy into the future, the face of British Columbia is expected to rapidly change. Along with it, Prince Rupert is expected to become even more diverse, prompting a look at the city’s ever-more-multicultural future this Saturday.

“This feeling that we’re kind of stepping into a global picture and becoming more of a world-wide centre and the question of how ready are we to be attracting a more diverse workforce and how well are we going to deal with an influx of people possibly from all over the world is what’s behind this,” said Beth Davies, Prince Rupert Anti-Racism Committee.

“We want to just take a look at ourselves and see what we do well —which I think is a lot — and what we need to do better.

“What this really comes down to is it’s an opportunity for people of different backgrounds to hear one another.”

It’s also an opportunity to explore some of the tensions that can result between different segments of local society when interests perceived to be competing emerge.

“The rhetoric about Prince Rupert is that we’re a wonderful, integrated multicultural community which for the most part we really are,” she said.

“But we also know that there’s an underside of this. When push comes to shove, if there’s a reason for conflict then people fracture into groups.

“I think the whole business with the port and the court case is a case in point of how easily we can be no longer an integrated, harmonious community.”

The Dialogue on Multiculturalism is an interactive event that allows locals to not only discuss the value of multiculturalism to them but also to address how welcoming Prince Rupert really is and what the community could do to be more welcoming — a key issue if the city is going to be able to become a key player in the global village.

While there will be one panel discussion, most of the short four-hour program will revolve around ‘cafe conversation tables’ where five or six people will sit down at a table and simply share different stories about Rupert’s past, current and changing face. As part of that process, some entries from the recent multiculturalism writing contest will be used as conversation pieces.

“We have some amazing stories of people getting into sinking boats and coming here form Vietnam and people who had an established Japanese community in Prince Rupert but were sent off to the East and have come back,” said Davies. “In Prince Rupert, we all live beside each other, we go to school together and we don’t have ghettos, but what is the experience of somebody who is an ethnic minority in this community? We don’t often ask them how welcome do they feel in their neighborhood or how welcome do their children feel going into that school. Let’s talk about it and either celebrate our successes or take about where we should go.”

The Dialogue on Multiculturalism takes place at the Civic centre on Sat., Feb. 24, from noon to 4 p.m. with lunch included.

Participants are encouraged to RSVP by calling 624-6054 ext. 5798 or by emailing culture@nwcc.bc.ca.

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, February 21

One must be aware of the consequences of ones actions, right?

Daddy said NO!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The man who is making Global Warming cool!

He’s as hot as the Police when it comes to ticket sales and he’s hot on the list of scalpers as well.

Who would have thought that Al Gore, he of the second banana of the Clinton years, would now be leading the charge on all matters environmental?

But hot off the success of his feature film An Inconvenient Truth, having Al speak at your function is a guarantee for attendance, publicity and interest.

Gore was in Toronto on Wednesday for a session at the University of Toronto, the original tickets to the event sold at 20 dollars and sold out within minutes, local Toronto bulletin boards had them reselling at 500 dollars prior to the nights presentation.

He single handedly brought the U of T computer system to a crashing halt as 23,000 would be attendees logged on to try and purchase the 1500 available tickets to the show.

Gore inadvertently got caught up in Canadian politics recently, as the Conservatives used his words to try and sell their domestic environmental plans, a situation that Gore spoke out on and suggested that perhaps the Conservatives were not quite on the same page as he. Indeed many at the time felt that perhaps the Conservatives were taking a rather liberal interpretation of his thoughts to fit into their plans.

The next stop for the Gore juggernaut might be a world wide collection of rock concerts dedicated to global environmental awareness, a chance for the rock stars to show their support for the eco star of the world. Considering the reaction Gore is receiving wherever he goes to share his thoughts, the rock stars had best get prepared for an ego check!

With Gore set to be a rock promoter for the summer, 2007 looks to be a year of continued Goremania! Politics, who needs them, Who wants the White house when you're the talk of the Greenhouse generation!

CN labour dispute causing harbor congestion in Prince Rupert

With a number of grain ships backing up on their loading schedule and problems of poor deliveries prior to the strike, the Prince Rupert Grain Elevator is looking at a recovery period of at least three to four weeks to get back on track, should the train problems get sorted out soon.

All of which does cause problems with reputations in world markets, so it would seem that the current case of congestion, is causing a bit of indigestion for the Wheat Board, the grain elevators and Canada’s reputation as a dependable provider of grains.

The Daily News provided some local interest to the current labour dispute at CN, with a front page story about the local reaction to the troubles being caused by the strike.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ships are turning the Prince Rupert harbour into a parking lot as the labour disagreement between CN and the United Transportation Union continues to exacerbate shipping delays.
The impact of the strike is being felt across the country, to the point where the federal Labour Minister yesterday proposed stepping in with a law ordering the 2,800 CN Rail employees back to their jobs.

“I contacted both parties to inform them that the situation couldn’t continue, that Canada’s economy is being severely affected ... that they only had a few hours left before parliament would act,” Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn told the House of Commons.

“Our legislation is ready.”

A government source said yesterday that the legislation could be up for a vote on Thursday.
Blackburn’s announcement, made on the brink of what company officials had hoped would be pivotal contract negotiations, came 11 days into the labour dispute.

Striking CN Rail workers rejected a company request to return to work voluntarily Tuesday and the B.C. Federation of Labour was set to rally in Vancouver today in support of the union’s cause.

In Prince Rupert, there are now seven grain tankers and one coal ship waiting to be loaded, with another five expected by the end of the week.

Jeff Burghardt, president of Prince Rupert Grain, said they are currently facing a three- to four-week backlog, caused by poor rail performance for the last 10 to 12 weeks and then exacerbated by the labour disruption

“For us, this is a very acute situation because we were hopeful we would be recovering over these last two weeks and cleaning up the clog of ships, but the strike is not a good opportunity for us to make that headway,” said Burghardt.

“I think that the railway is making a very good effort through the strike to continue to operate the railway, it’s just unfortunate when it comes at a time when we are already behind because of poor performance.”

It will take Prince Rupert Grain two to three weeks of improved rail service — with 1,400 rail cars per week coming through compared to the current 1,000 — to recover. Last week, the Canadian Wheat Board complained that member suppliers are paying about C$150,000 a day in demurrage (penalty) fees for the delays.

Burghardt said these fees, which will come home to overseas customers, will impact the country’s reputation.

“When these types of bills are having to be paid, overseas customers don’t necessarily take the time to understand who is responsible for their added costs. All they know is the Canadian system is letting them down right now and their patience for that sort of thing is running thin,” he said.

Burghardt said in the long run, it will be important for the union and company to work this out.
“It is important for all of us that the people who are working the system come to their own agreements and create more stability in their workforce through those types of methods rather than direct government intervention,” he said.

With files from CP

Small argument led to alleged attack with a weapon

The Daily News gets up to speed with the recent alleged attack on an RCMP officer who answered a call of a fare dispute between a passenger and a Skeena Cab driver. They provided some more background on the story in their Wednesday edition.

By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An apparent dispute over a cab fare has landed a local man in hot water after he allegedly attacked police with a knife.

“What started as a small argument with a man refusing to pay a few dollars for his cab fare escalated quickly,” said Const. Steve Richards, RCMP media relations and community policing officer. “It was pretty straight forward where only one member deals with these things, and he tried to defuse the situation and negotiate a resolution which normally would end up with the guy coming up with a few bucks for his cab fare but instead he’s facing two counts of assaulting a peace officer.”

Shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Sunday the officer responded to a call in the 700 block of Fifth Avenue West. A man at that location was allegedly refusing to pay his cab fare.

When the member arrived, the man had gone inside a residence. The man came outside and spoke with the member who placed him under arrest. After a brief struggle, the man escaped and fled back into the residence, said Richards.

“That member could see inside that there was more than one person in there so he waited a minute for two other members to show-up,” said Richards. “Two additional members arrived and, after announcing themselves, the three members entered the house to re-capture the man who had assaulted the responding member and escaped custody.”

However, as the initial officer entered the home he was allegedly set upon by the escaped male, this time armed with a knife.

“Once inside the residence that same man came at the first officer, they fought briefly and he tried to gain control of the guy,” he said, “They could now see he had a knife in his hand, so the three members together quickly gained control of him. We try to gain control of a situation with as little force as possible — if this member had gone into the house by himself and been attacked with this guy with a knife, it’s definitely more than just a simple hand-to-hand thing ... it’s open and shut grounds for lethal force.

“Having three members attend allows us not to have to do that.”

Several charges are being recommended against the 30-year-old Prince Rupert resident including: two counts of Assaulting a Peace Officer, one count of Escaping Lawful Custody, one count of Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose, and one count of Fraud in Relation to Fares.

“This incident illustrates how a seemingly minor call for service can turn dangerous for police,” said Richards. “Members of the public are often surprised and ask why we sometimes have two or three members respond to calls. Incidents like this one demonstrate why, whenever possible, we will respond to calls with as many as we reasonably can.

“There’s no such thing as routine, you never know who you’re going to encounter or what they’ve been doing. The members (from Mayerthorpe, Alberta) that were killed weren’t even the warrant team ... they were just left behind to secure the place. It’s a perfect example of how minor things can turn into terrible things.”

Election fever gets a head start in the Northwest

There is just the hint of a federal election in the offing, the next likely event to trigger the speculation the Federal budget set to be delivered in March. With all the wild theories about going to the polls, it seems that the local political class is getting its ducks in a row to be in place should a writ be dropped.

The latest to the speculate about a possible bid for political office is Prince Rupert resident Maatje Johanna Piket, who announced her intentions over the past weekend. Her decision to run for the nomination makes her the first name in what is expected to be a list of several Northwest residents looking to be the Liberal standard bearer in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding. A riding that hasn’t voted a Liberal into office since Iona Campagnola held the riding back in the days of Pierre Trudeau in the mid seventies.

Since then the riding has been in the hands of the NDP, with occasional appearances by parties of the right hand side of the spectrum, such as the Reform party or the old Canadian Alliance party, both forerunners of today’s Conservative party.

Nathan Cullen is the incumbent MP and will be contesting the seat once again for the NDP, the Conservatives have yet to announce a candidate as well as the Green party which is still seeking a break through entry into Parliament.

Piket will be picking up the political torch in the family, she is married to Gordon Stamp-Vincent who ran last time for the Liberals. She certainly can't say that she doesn't know what she is getting into, as the last campaign was full of controversial moments across the Northwest, as the three different party candidates strived to attract attention to their message. Emotions at times boiled over as the heat of the campaign increased as the polling day neared. In the end Mr. Stamp-Vincet finished third, collecting 12.6 per cent of the vote. Whichever candidate picks up the Liberal nomination will have a fair amount of work to topple Cullen who received 48 per cent of the vote in the last election.

The Daily News provided a bit of background to her candidacy for the nomination in Wednesday’s paper. The next step on her bid for elected office comes March 3 in Terrace at the Liberal Party Annual General Meeting scheduled to be held there.

Would-be MP first Liberal to seek nod
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The first contender in the race for the Skeena-Bulkley Valley Liberal nomination stepped forward last week.

Prince Rupert resident and long-time federal Liberal, Maatje Johanna Piket, announced she is seeking the federal Liberal nomination for the next federal election at the Rally Against Child Care Funding Cuts held in Prince Rupert last Tuesday.

Piket was invited to address the crowd of parents, children, and child care workers after a private meeting with organizers of the rally against the child care funding cuts proposed by the provincial Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The child care issue has particular resonance for Piket who raised her two children as a struggling, single parent with limited means. As a federal Liberal who had to stand by and watch Ken Dryden’s Early Learning and Child care Agreement dismantled by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, she is appalled to see the impacts of the government’s decision affect people so adversely in the Northwest and across the country. This is clearly unacceptable, she said, and only a symptom of what she believes would occur if Stephen Harper was to form a majority government with the assistance of the NDP.

“As a Liberal who supported Ken Dryden’s Early Learning and Child Care Agreement and a potential female candidate for the federal Liberals in Skeena-Bulkley Valley, I commit myself to helping finding a solution to this crisis — starting today,” she told the crowd.

Piket has been a grassroots Liberal organizer in the Lower Mainland and Powell River for many years before moving to Prince Rupert in the fall of 2005. She is a marketing and communications consultant who has done business with the private sector, non-profit societies, and government agencies.

Piket lives with her partner Gordon Stamp-Vincent, who was the candidate in 2005/6 and has his full support and encouragement. They will soon be splitting their time between Terrace and Prince Rupert due to work considerations but Picket feels their dual residency will help greatly in the outreach process across this vast riding.

Piket noted that she is very concerned about the push to the extreme right and left seen in the Conservatives and the NDP and believes that in all things a balance must be struck in order to preserve fundamental Canadian values.

A self-described moderate in her perspective on politics and business, Piket is against uncontrolled development but in favour of supporting businesses, particularly small-to-medium sized enterprise that form the backbone of the country.

“The climate change issue is one that needs to be dealt with in a realistic manner that does not destroy our economy while we seek to bring down our greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.
She is also passionate about the need for social justice particularly for First Nations people whose voices need to be heard.

She invites disenchanted voters in Skeena-Bulkley Valley to discuss the issues with her and find out how a Liberal MP can and will make a real difference in Ottawa.

Picket will be among several people interested in the nomination at the upcoming Skeena-Bulkley Valley Liberals Annual General meeting in Terrace March 3.

“We do have a few others interested but I am not at liberty nor would I take the liberty to say who, because that’s a timing thing for any of the candidates,” said Bruce Martindale, speaking on behalf of the federal riding association.

“There is a lot of work being done right now across Canada by all the parties to try and prepare for an inevitable election and I can only say that the Liberal Party of Canada is working to be better prepared than they were last time.”

Martindale said anybody who is interested in running and those who have already declared themselves are encouraged to attend the AGM at the Coast Inn at 7 p.m.

“They will be expected to introduce themselves to the hoards of Liberals who be there in attendance,” he said.