Friday, August 31, 2007

Former North Coast fish farm executive changes hemispheres to farm his fish

Andrew Forsythe, a long-time B.C. salmon farmer recently left Canada for New Zealand, his days of frustration at growing an industry apparently at an end in the more accepting waters of the South Pacific.

He has spoken out in a Financial Post article, about the state of the aqua culture industry in British Columbia and his frustrations in trying to get the Marine Harvest salmon hatchery up and running in Port Edward.

As the debate raged over whether to allow fish farming in the coastal waters of Northern British Columbia, Marine Harvest eventually just gave up on the Port Edward operation, after spending millions of dollars on it in anticipation of receiving government approval for the industry on the North Coast.

He is among a growing legion of fish farming exiles who have moved out of British Columbia and headed for warmer waters and the chance to put in motion their plans for a fish farming industry.

They see some progress in B. C. from their far off posts, but for now are apparently quite content to work the waters where the governments are supportive and the industry is growing.

The full article was found on the National Post's, Financial Post website.

B.C. salmon farmers throw in towel
Fed up with environmental opposition
Nathan VanderKlippe
Financial Post
Friday, August 31, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Some of the top workers in B.C.'s salmon industry are leaving to nurture ocean farms elsewhere as they grow tired of working in a province in which strident environmental opposition has all but closed off expansion plans -- and, they say, deprived the West Coast of hundreds of millions in potential revenues.

"If you got an honest answer from most people in the industry, they have bookmarked most of the international job site searches on their computers," said Andrew Forsythe, a long-time B.C. salmon farmer who left recently for New Zealand.

Mr. Forsythe worked in B.C. for a decade, first as a feed company vet and then as manager of freshwater salmon production for the Canadian subsidiary of Marine Harvest, the world's largest salmon farming company. He spearheaded the construction of the world's largest recirculation salmon hatchery near Prince Rupert, B.C., and was a pivotal force in the West Coast industry.

But he, like numerous others -- including a number of senior workers who have left to build a salmon industry in Tasmania -- grew frustrated with the pace of expansion of an industry that has been dogged by environmental complaints and political interference. Two years ago, he decided he'd had enough and left for the southern hemisphere where, he said, fish farming is a growth business.

"The salmon industry in B.C. is 10 times the size of the salmon industry in New Zealand, but it is 10 times smaller than the industry in Norway or Chile," he said -- even though B.C.'s suitable salmon farming coastline roughly equals that in those two countries, and the industry here could potentially match them in size.

"While there is enormous scope for development in Canada it has run out of steam. This is not a question of running out of space or transgressing environmental standards. It's politics."

In B.C. alone, applications for 15 fish farms -- most of them salmon -- are currently languishing in the licensing system, some since 2002. The delay in their approval has cost the industry about $450-million, estimates Mary Ellen Walling, the executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association. That is more than value of the industry's entire 2006 sales.

"The world appetite for salmon is growing faster than our ability to supply it," said Ms. Walling. "But even with our wonderful coastline and poverty-stricken First Nations communities that could really benefit from this activity, the environmental lobby in B.C. is so strong that it really limits opportunities. It is really frustrating."

The delays have also created uncertainty that has undermined industry investments.

Take, for example, Mr. Forsythe's Prince Rupert hatchery. Marine Harvest Canada spent millions to build it on the assumption that it would receive farming licences in nearby waters. But when those licences failed to materialize, the company was forced to shutter the plant.
"Without those sites it was a wasted effort," said Mr. Forsythe in an interview from his current office at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, where he is working to diversify and grow the local fish-farming industry.

New Zealand legislators, by comparison, have a far more committed attitude toward aquaculture, and have promised to triple the domestic market's size in the next 15 years, he said.

"Not to put too rosy a face on it -- we have all the same stakeholder issues and the same legislative delays. But politicians here will say, 'We have to listen to the stakeholders, but in the end we want to see it forward.' In B.C. we have politicians that say yes, 'We want to listen to the stakeholders' -- but they won't finish the sentence."

The departure of people such as Mr. Forsythe for greener waters is creating more competition for B.C. products, but is also potentially exposing Canadian salmon farmers to more risk, said Larry Greba, the fisheries advisor to the Kitasoo Nation, which has encouraged salmon farming in its waters near Klemtu, B.C.

"When you run into critical situations -- like a disease outbreak or a plankton issue -- there's only a handful of people that know what to do. You start losing those people, then the company is going to start making more mistakes and maybe cutting corners," he said.

The environmental lobby has little sympathy for the departed.

"I'm welcoming a changing of the old guard. Some of the new people coming into the salmon farming industry have new approaches, fresh ideas and a better understanding of the ecological impact of the industry," said Jessica Lash, executive director of the Living Oceans Society, which has staunchly opposed expansion of the industry. "And people can come and go from industry. But when you lose your wild salmon they don't come back again."

Environmental criticism is rooted primarily in the impacts it has on wild salmon. Ms. Lash contends that salmon farms are breeding grounds for parasitic sea lice, which then spread to passing wild salmon and can kill them. Living Oceans has pushed for salmon farms to replace open net cage systems with closed systems that don't allow any interaction between farmed and wild fish. The economics of closed systems are, however, still under study.

But until they are adopted, she pledged to vigorously oppose any expansion of the industry.
But what environmentalists don't appreciate is that salmon farms benefit wild fish in other ways, said Marine Harvest Canada spokesman Ian Roberts.

"Like everybody else, we have an impact but I would say it's extremely minimal and the benefit of growing salmon far outweighs the risk, and that risk is overfishing," he said.

Still, a dramatic growth of the industry appears entirely unlikely. The issue is "one of the most controversial files probably in the province right now," said Pat Bell, the B.C. Minister of Agriculture and Lands. "Until you have broader public support I think it is challenging to see significant expansion of the industry."

He has, in recent weeks, approved several new licences, although they have mostly been for replacement farms rather than new ones. Later this year, he plans to release a finfish aquaculture plan intended to map out the way forward for the industry to make "thoughtful, methodical" expansion plans.

"I'd like to see the industry be very successful in B.C., and I'd argue they are starting to feel like they are moving forward," he said. "But they need business certainty as well and I think a well-written finfish aquaculture plan will provide them with the certainty they need."

Still, those measures are unlikely to bring back people like Mr. Forsythe who, despite having found better opportunities elsewhere, can't help but feel a twinge of guilt.

"Every time I hear Stompin' Tom Connor's song 'Believe in Your Country' (and in our household we hear Stompin Tom a lot) I feel a bit guilty," he said. "But I wanted to be where I was needed."


Everybody out of the pool

In what seems like an end of summer tradition now, the city of Prince Rupert has closed the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre for the next four weeks in order to take care of some required maintenance.

The pool has been drained and four separate contractors have begun their work to keep the pool up to date and properly maintained. The Civic Centre will be a busy place over the weekend, in addition to the work on the pool the Civic Centre ice plant is being turned on with a fresh sheet of ice expected to be in place by Monday, September 3, with a free skate planned for Sunday, September 9th.

Full details on the developments at the Civic Centre complex were provided in Thursday’s Daily News.

Aquatic centre is set to remain closed for routine work for several weeks
By Christian Webber
The Daily News
Thursday August 30, 2007
Page one

Aside from the rain; there will not be many chances to get soaking wet in the coming weeks.

Four contractors are working in the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre pool and area and it will be closed and under construction for four weeks.

The pool, which has been a fixture for 25 years, was used for 20 years year-round before staff decided it would benefit from an annual drain and maintenance regime, said Michael Curnes, director of recreation and community services.

Around 200-300 people a day use the pool, so it had to be shut down so work could go on.

Curnes said the pool needs to be drained every year so they can check the plumbing underneath, they also do two weeks of lifeguard rectification, that brings everybody up to date with first aid and lifesaving skills.

“We have a number of major projects under way,” said Curnes.

They are taking out all the ceilings in the change rooms, putting in drop ceilings so they can access the plumbing that is buried, putting in shut-off valves, re-tiling some of the pool deck, changing the drains, changing out some of the ventilation units, replacing 14 of the skylights over the pool, creating a new office space upstairs for the swim club, and then there is the pool draining.

“The pool draining takes a bit, them we do some tile repair on the bottom of the pool,” said Curnes.

He said they also have done a series of dye tests with a firehall employee. There is a crack in the bottom of the pool that was spotted last year, so they are doing dye tests to make sure they are not loosing any water.

He said they are not losing any water but they will double check once the water is out on Tuesday, after the long weekend.

Curnes said they have to check the hydrostat valves at the bottom of the pool, which equalizes the pressure between underneath the pool and on top of the pool.

“Basically, the floor of the pool carries 1 million pounds of water, so when you drain the pool out and the weight is gone, if you don’t have equalized pressure you can have a complete upheaval of earth,” said Curnes.

He said they do drill testing with the staff and lifeguard drills, making sure to take advantage of every single day of the four weeks the pool is closed.

They also turn on the ice plant on this weekend and the ice will be put back into the rink on Mon., Sept. 3 then the following Sunday there will be a two hour free skate to welcome the public back to the ice.

Learning lessons from the Fraser

The Pacific Salmon Foundation, flush with more than 25 million dollars in funding is launching an ambitious plan of managing watersheds and trying to better understand the problems facing British Columbia’s salmon stocks.
With a new chairman on board, the foundation is hoping to make the right decisions as this salmon season comes to an end and they decide where and when to allocate their funds to projects across the province.

In Thursday’s paper, The Daily news took a look at what they are all about and where they are going.

Pacific Salmon Foundation hoping to learn from Fraser
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Page one

The Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) has some big plans for the coming years, one of the most important being changing the public’s attitudes and behavior when it comes to fish.

Newly appointed chairman of the PSF John Woodward has taken over as head of the foundation at a critical time, when issues of increasingly low salmon counts are being reported across the province of British Columbia, but also when funding is at an all-time high.

“This year, the PSF has launched into a huge program on the Fraser, where we’ve got $10 million from the provincial Living Rivers fund, $10 million from DFO, and $5 million from the Salmon Endowment fund, plus a lot of private money, all aimed at the Fraser and how to revamp the Fraser,” said Woodward.

“So we’ve been incredibly busy. Our community programs are our core business, and our volunteer group now is well over 30,000 working in the province.”

The PSF is funding a number of new initiatives happening across B. C., from the creation of water basin councils that will help manage watersheds to new science for tagging and tracking fish activity, all designed to help better understand the problems facing salmon stocks.

“With a long term focus, we’re going to deal with things like being able to understand what’s happening to fish in the ocean, and being able to do a better job of counting fish, which is always a perennial problem that leads to conflict and strife,” said PSF Executive Director Paul Kariya.

“Let’s do some work on fresh water, let’s do some work on habitat, lets’ do some work on relationships. So we’ve got a multi-faceted strategy for the Fraser, and we hope to raise a lot of money and put it go good work.”

As opposed to the Pacific Salmon Commission, who generally make recommendations to DFO for closures and lobby the government, the PSF’s role is primarily as the non-partisan funding body, recognizing strategically where to place their limited funds across the endless number of projects throughout the province.

“A part of anybody giving away money to do work is people questioning the work, saying it doesn’t need to be done. Others will ask why we aren’t doing the more important thing, and others will ask why we’re using one group instead of another, or why First Nations are or are not involved,” said Kariya of the endless scrutiny facing the PSF.

“All of those things we get in e mails, phone calls and letters, and it requires fair amount of negotiation and skill to make sure we don’t become the issue, because we want to stay neutral and focus on the fish.”

The foundation always prepares itself for the end of summer malay, when fishery- and salmon-related topics seem to dominate the West Coast media, even though the issues are year round.

While the mostly negative attention is always cause for concern, it does help raise public awareness on what needs to be done and is currently being done.

“Fish is always on the news this time of year, because it’s either a good year or bad year and things happen. But we’re finding more and more people are willing to do some volunteer work and help resurrect the streams or help with a new attitude which is great,” said Woodward.

“Our provincial government is really terrific, they’re really bending over backwards lately with the B. C. Salmon Forum and Living Rivers, so everything’s a whole lot better than it was.”

PSF fundraising happens all year round, with Woodward hopeful the number of events they host will double before the end of his term as chair.

Last year alone, the foundation was responsible for funding 116 projects with a combined cost of $5.5 million, something else they are hoping to double in coming years.

“If we can get things working on the Fraser properly, we can move that into the Skeena, Bella Coola, Kitimat,” Woodward said.

“The Fraser still produces between 75 and 80 per cent of all salmon in the province, so it’s still the big mother it’s going through it’s problems. But if we can get that fixed, we can take the blue print and put it anywhere.”

Kariya says that because their efforts and goals are always long-term it’s hard for some people to see the impact their projects are having because the results aren’t immediate.

“If you think of a sockeye that returns on a four-year cycle, you’re talking 16 or 20 years before you can see or feel you’ve got results, and even then you can’t control all of the variables so it’s very difficult to sometimes realize that,” said Kariya.

“It’s difficult from a number of perspectives, because you’ve got people who donate money to us to do the work, and many of those folks want to see immediate results. But we’re concerned for the long-term, so we’re working on initiatives that will hopefully prevent some of these things in the future.”

Looking for an action plan for the ocean

The fate of our ocean resources was the topic of discussion Wednesday night at a community meeting held by the Marine Planning Caucus, which hosted a two hour meeting at the Crest hotel.
Discussions on marine planning and the proposed Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area planning process took place, as the delegate looked to find a better way of taking part in the Marine planning process.

The Daily News featured the conference as its front page story in Thursday’s paper

Delegates gather to discuss ways to protect and enhance ocean’s resources
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Pages one and three

Last night’s community meeting to hear public perspectives on marine planning was well attended and brought up a number of different local concerns that will be considered as a part of Canada’s Oceans Action Plan.

The Marine Planning Caucus, a British Columbia Environmental Non-Governmental Organization, hosted the two-hour meeting at the Crest Hotel to discuss marine planning and the proposed Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area planning process.

The evening began with a talk from Brian Fuhr of the B. C. Ministry of Environment, who shared his experiences working on land-use planning, in order to give members of the public a better understanding of what will be involved in the marine planning process.

“Land use planning started out of controversies and government’s desire, and the people’s desire, to fix that and come up with something that makes more sense,” said Fuhr. “The fate of ocean resources is probably one of the things that’s motivated you to come here, what you’ve seen on the South Coast, and what you’ve hear about around the world. People just don’t want to follow that path, we want to see what we can do to improve that.”

After giving a brief history of land use planning in the province, Fuhr talked about some of what he referred to as the “ugly stuff” that has to be thought about for both land-use and marine planning, such as government’s role in the process, drafting a workable mandate, putting mechanisms for enactment in place, the need for contacts as well as training and other logistical aspects of planning.

There was a great deal of interest expressed from all the stakeholders gathered about how the government will be going about drafting its Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area planning, and how the public’s concerns will be incorporated into the planning process.

“We as a group of ENGO’s need input to design a process, and to have a good process. You need to get the input from the people who work and live on the coast,” said Kate Willis of the Living Oceans Society.

“That’s the first step, really identifying that, and there hasn’t been any process yet to get that input, and we felt that it’s critical to get that input early, and this is just a start to get that information and our commitment is to share that with governments,” said Willis.

The gathered stakeholders were later broken up into smaller groups with specific shared interests, such as ‘government’, ‘transportation’, ‘science’ and ‘conservation’, and several others. Each group drafted lists of what issues they thought should be brought before the federal government when drafting marine planning for the PNCIMA.

The B. C. ENGO Marine Planning Caucus consists of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, Living Oceans Society, Sierra Club of Canada and WWF-Canada, who have all been working collaboratively since 2005 to advance marine planning on Canada’s Pacific Coast.

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, August 30

She was number two to that skinny little tramp from Malibu!

Back in the days when your doll didn't threaten your life.

The commissioner goes crazy over a sharped dress man!

Terry Francona may have been humming the ZZ Top classic Sharp Dressed man after Wednesday night's game with the New York Yankees.

The Major League Baseball Fashion Police staged a raid on the Red Sox dug out during the second inning of the game, anxious to investigate the Red Sox manager's state of dress.

Apparently concerned that Francona was becoming slovenly in the dog days of the season, the Fashion cop launched his investigation. The investigator is an actual New York City Police Department member Eddie Maldonado, who is a lieutenant in the NYPD intelligence department and seemed to show lack of such in the choice of his timing for the investigation.

Francona was trying to place his fielders in position when the near strip search order came down.

The concern over Francona's sartorial deportment apparently stems from the fact that he used to not wear a full uniform shirt under his warm up jacket, he was warned about his style violations and apparently had recently returned to the full dress performance.

However, MLB launched the undercover investigation to see if Francona had anything under his pull over covers. This from a league that has no shortage of problems with possible steroid abuse.

Good to know that they have their priorities all lined up nicely. Down the juice as much as you want as long as you don't get caught, but crimes against fashion just won't be tolerated.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sex, lies and audio tape

Michael Vick who? Last week's headliner for unseemly behaviour is this weeks afterthought, thanks to the toe tappin' proclivities of the Senator from Idaho.

Coverage of U. S. Senator Larry Craig's troubles in the Minneapolis airport bathroom, carried on for a second day today, this time as an audio tape of his session with the Minneapolis airport police was made public.

A session that if anything, shows that the Senator really, really should have thought about getting a lawyer. In what reads like a script from Law and Order SVU, the Senator and the arresting Sergeant discuss their dueling viewpoints on the bathroom incident that has now made the Senator the number one resource for late night television for two nights in a row.

The All news channels rushed to air the rather tawdry talk of possible signals and unusual behavior in public washrooms, opening up a whole new world for those that have led a rather sheltered life until now.
Websites, bloggers and the mainstream media all are clearing the decks to provide coverage and commentary on a topic that has all the ingredients of political implosion. From complete copies of the audio tape, to transcripts of the interrogation process, the whole nasty mess has been made public for contemplation and conjecture.

The Senator who didn't exactly admit to any wrong doing, none the less didn't do himself any favors as he accused the police of entrapment and lying. A strategy that perhaps may have been better handled by legal representation.

In fact, many observers suggest that had the Senator simply made a phone call and brought in a legal advocate, his current station in life might be a little more manageable. Having signed off on a plea as guilty, the chances of reversal are said to be slim and none.

While he might think that he's going to be able to weather the storm, it seems only the timing of his exit strategy from political life is left to be debated. Those Republicans who aren't busy trying to somehow to deflect the issue by channelling the ghosts of the sins Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy in the past, are rushing as far away from the Senator as possible, with many high profile members of the GOP suggesting that he should quietly just pack his bags and return to Idaho and wherever his life takes him.

In an interesting twist of political fate, Republicans will gather in St. Paul/Minneapolis next year for the Republican National Convention. It doesn't take too much thought to believe that the Republicans will no doubt the wish to have the current issue resolved before that event will speed on the Senator's retirement plans.

American politics has provided some high points of drama via audio tape, the conversations of John F. Kennedy as the Bay of Pigs was unfolding or as the civil rights drama played out in America of the sixties still sends chills down a listener's spine. Richard Nixon's famous recordings (and the parts that went missing) played their part in history serving to bring down a president in disgrace. Even a joking Ronald Reagan was caught on tape, throwing out a side slapper about preparing to bomb Russia, a little nugget of information that forever seemed to typecast him as a Cowboy that could possibly do anything.

Thing's have sure gone downhill in the audio tape archiving world, from high drama and political intrigue of the past, we're now in the era of trying to interpret unbecoming signals in a men's room.

Perhaps those that suggest that our society is on its downward slope may be on to something.

Suspicious fires raising concern in community

The Daily News finally took its turn at covering the early Saturday morning fire at the Kin Hut and examining the spate of recent fires in the community.
The RCMP provided a few details on the recent fires and expressed concern that somebody was going to get hurt should these incidents continue.

The Daily provided their findings in the Wednesday paper.

Alarm raised after spate of arsons
By Christian Webber
The Daily News
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The latest in a rash of arsons was set on the weekend at the building next to the skate park known as Kin Hut.

The blaze failed to get going but was the latest in a rash of arsons and attempted arsons recently that have hit various targets

There have been other recent fires, most notably, the Casino, said Corporal Steve Vrolyk, with the Prince Rupert RCMP.

Two other recent fires worth noting, said Vrolyk, were on August 23 at about 3 a.m., there were two vehicles that appeared to have been lit on fire on the 600 block of 7th Ave. West.

He said on July 20 someone attempted to set a playground structure at the Conrad Elementary School on fire and so far those are the big ones.

"We are continuing our investigation, there is nothing to indicate any specific link between the fires, obviously we are investigating to try and attempt to determine, both the cause and if there is a link, we don't have anything at this point to say that there is a link between the fires," said Vrolyk.

He said he couldn't release how they set the fires because the information may be necessary for court. Although upon investigation the damage at the Kin Hut was minimal. Vrolyk didn't know the extent of the damage in a dollar amount.

"Our investigation is continuing, if people have information they can contact the Prince Rupert RCMP," he said.

Politics 101 for Mr. Harris; getting hung out to dry is fun...

They haven't quite come out and called him a bone head, but the official response to Dick Harris' liaison program is one of distance, as in somebody else can go get him off the cliff thank you.

The Conservatives said all the right democratic things today about who constituents in the Bulkley Valley-Skeena should contact if they have any concerns about government issues, and short of publishing his riding phone number even the Tories grudgingly admitted that yes, Mr. Nathan Cullen, NDP member of Parliament is the duly elected representative of the people from Bulkley Valley-Skeena.
Government officials have distanced themselves from Mr. Harris's unofficial appointment of Ms. Smith as the riding representative in Ottawa.

"He just kind of did that himself," government spokesman Ryan Sparrow said of Mr. Harris's move. "[Ms. Smith] is the Conservative candidate in the next election. That's her only official capacity."

Mr. Sparrow was unequivocal when asked whom local residents should contact for federal help: "They should contact their local member of Parliament. ... Ms. Smith is working hard to be that person after the next election, but for now, the riding is held by a New Democrat."

This issue heated up last week after Mr. Harris appeared on the Daybreak North program and pointedly directed riding residents to contact his liaison, Sharon Smith who also happens to be the candidate for the conservatives whenever we again trudge to the polls.

The backlash has been rather loud and has made national news as the optics of trying to go around the democratically elected representative backfired on Mr. Harris and his go to gal in Houston.

Having been thrown under the bus as it were by the federal office, we suspect that there won't be much more in the way of sending anyone off to spend some time with Ms. Smith, which is probably good news for the folks in Houston, who probably would prefer their mayor to just concentrate on her duties for the city until she makes her attempt to be the elected liaison between the people and the government, providing of course that Mr. Harris' party still holds that title after the next election.

The Globe and Mail provided full details on the backpedaling machinations from the National office, unfortunately neither Mr. Harris or his liaison were available to provide feedback to the Globe regarding these differing interpretations about how the elected process works in Canada.
Though apparently not for lack of trying, the Globe reportedly made attempts over a 48 hour period to get their side of the story, without success, makes you wonder what kind of success a mere constituent might have had trying to get in touch.

Want services? Forget your MP, Tory chair says
Dick Harris tells radio listeners to go to Conservative candidate instead of NDP MP
Canadian Press
August 30, 2007

OTTAWA -- Forget your duly elected local MP. If you want government services in your riding, you'd be better off going to the local Conservative running in the next election.

That's the message the Tories have been peddling in a British Columbia riding they don't hold - and now they're vigorously backpedalling.

The Conservatives' caucus chair in the province had been telling radio listeners and public audiences in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding not to bother with their elected New Democrat MP.

For a better chance at federal funding, speedily returned paperwork and help with infrastructure projects, Dick Harris told them they should talk instead to the woman who will run for the Conservatives.

"Realistically, to have access to the ministers you know - realistically - you have to be part of the government," Mr. Harris, who is also a B.C. MP, said in a radio interview. "There is sort of a little bit of a pecking order in Parliament."

An area newspaper also quoted him urging constituents to approach the federal government through Sharon Smith - the mayor of Houston, B.C., and the federal Conservative candidate.
"Constituents ... will derive a huge benefit from having direct contact with the government, something they have not had since 2004," Mr. Harris said in a story in the Terrace Daily Online.

That unorthodox tactic for raising the candidate's profile came as a surprise to Nathan Cullen, who was elected by residents of Skeena-Bulkley Valley to represent them in Parliament. The New Democrat was first elected by an almost 1,300-vote margin in 2004 and more than quadrupled his margin of victory in 2006.

Government officials have distanced themselves from Mr. Harris's unofficial appointment of Ms. Smith as the riding representative in Ottawa.

"He just kind of did that himself," government spokesman Ryan Sparrow said of Mr. Harris's move. "[Ms. Smith] is the Conservative candidate in the next election. That's her only official capacity."

Mr. Sparrow was unequivocal when asked whom local residents should contact for federal help: "They should contact their local member of Parliament. ... Ms. Smith is working hard to be that person after the next election, but for now, the riding is held by a New Democrat."

The sitting MP said his jaw hit the floor when he heard Mr. Harris on the radio recently. "It's the vulgarity of it. ... Mr. Harris is essentially trying to contest the last election," Mr. Cullen said in an interview yesterday.

"He's also suggesting that the whole voting process is almost unnecessary by the Conservative perspective - because they'll just simply appoint whom they wish to hear from, as opposed to whom the people have chosen. And that's so fundamentally wrong."

Mr. Harris and Ms. Smith did not respond to interview requests made to their offices over two days.

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, August 29

Carry the one and divide by two...

The day the slide rule died!

Keith Richards to his critic-- Hey You, Get Off Of My Cloud / Yesterday's Papers (1967)

No moss is growing under this Rolling Stone. Keith Richards isn't going to take any unkind words with a grain of salt. Instead, the long time Rock and Roll bad boy blasted back at his Swedish fault finder...

Keith Richards demands apology for Swedish concert review
Associated Press

August 29, 2007 at 6:27 AM EDT

STOCKHOLM — Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has demanded an apology from Swedish newspapers for their scathing reviews of the group's performance in the country earlier this month.

Tabloids Expressen and Aftonbladet gave thumbs down to the Aug. 3 concert at Ullevi stadium in Goteborg, with Expressen suggesting Richards was “superdrunk” on stage.

“This is a first!” the 63-year-old rock star wrote in a letter published by Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter. “Never before have I risen to the bait of a bad review.

“But this time ... I have to stand up ... for our fans all over Sweden ... to say that you owe them, and us, an apology.”

Dagens Nyheter said it received the letter from concert organizer EMA Telstar. Company head Thomas Johansson told the Associated Press Richards wrote the letter and gave it to him after reading translations of the Swedish reviews.

“There were 56,000 people in Ullevi stadium who bought a ticket to our concert — and experienced a completely different show than the one you ‘reviewed,'” the letter said.

“How dare you cheapen the experience for them — and for the hundreds of thousands of other people across Sweden who weren't at Ullevi and have only your ‘review' to go on.

“Write the truth. It was a good show.”

In his review, Aftonbladet's music writer Markus Larsson gave the concert a score of two on a five-point scale, and said Richards appeared “a bit confused.”

“I am not going to apologize for my subjective opinion,” Larsson told the paper's web edition on Wednesday. “It is Keith who should apologize. After all it costs around 1,000 kronor [$145 U.S.] to see a rock star who can hardly handle the [guitar] riff to Brown Sugar any more.”

More problems for BC Ferry fleet

The Queen of Chilliwack will be out of service for a while, after Monday night's incident which saw the aging ferry crash into the dock at Port Hardy.

The Chilliwack was on its regular scheduled run from Bella Bella to Port Hardy when the 29 year old vessel suffered what is called a "hard landing" aparently after the control to the propulsio system was temporarily lost.

Five people were injured in the incident, two of them seriously enough to be hospitalized in Port Hardy.

BC Ferries won't be allowed to return the ferry to service until after Transport Canada has cleared it for future voyages.
CBC featured the developments on its website.

B.C. ferry hits dock, 2 passengers hurt
Hard landing in Vancouver Island port
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 5:56 PM PT
The Canadian Press

A British Columbia ferry slammed into a dock Monday night, knocking five people off their feet and sending two to hospital with minor injuries.

The accident occurred just before 9 p.m. on a scheduled run to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island from Bella Coola on B.C.'s central coast.

BC Ferries said the captain of the Queen of Chilliwack lost control of the vessel.(BC Ferries)
Mark Stefanson, a spokesman for BC Ferries, said the captain of the Queen of Chilliwack momentarily lost control of the vessel.

"It was coming in and it had slowed and, for some reason, the captain did not have control of the propulsion system in the last few minutes. As a direct result, they had a hard landing."
He said the two people taken to hospital included an elderly man who fell down a flight of stairs and hit his head.

Transport Canada is inspecting the 29-year-old, 114-metre-long ship and must give the green light before the ferry goes back into service.

"We have an inspector headed up there," spokesman Rod Nelson said.
"Divers will be going down to take a look at the hull and we'll be looking at the results of the dive.

Then there will be extensive sea trials before the vessel goes back into service and we'll be monitoring those sea trials."

Port Edward shocked by brutal animal killings

Somewhere in Port Edward somebody knows the identity of the cowardly and rather sick person or persons, who left the mutilated bodies of two young cats in the middle of Skeena Drive in the town on Friday night.

The obscene act of unconscionable cruelty has shocked local residents both in Port Edward and in Prince Rupert who no doubt are wondering what makes someone commit such an heinous act.

The Prince Rupert RCMP are investigating the incident and would like anyone with information to come forward and aid in the their investigation.

The Daily News had the sordid story on their front page in Wednesday's paper.

Sickening cat attacks cause revulsion
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Page one

In what appears to be a horrendous act of animal cruelty, two young adult cats were found mutilated and killed in the middle of Skeena Drive in Port Edward.

The cats were brutally killed at night on Fri., Aug. 24, and after notifying RCMP, the remains were brought to the Prince Rupert SPCA by the District of Port Edward.

If convicted, an offender of animal cruelty could face up to six months in prison and/or a $2,000 fine. Additionally, they could face a lifetime ban from owning any animals.

"Individuals who commit such acts need to be held accountable," said Ann Ferguson, Community Chair for the SPCA.

"While the penalty does not come close to reflecting the heinous nature of the crime, we would still like to see the people responsible held accountable."

The Prince Rupert SPCA is asking for the assistance from the community to find the culprit(s).
Anyone with information is asked to call the SPCA at 624-2859, or if they would like to remain anonymous, tipsters can leave a message on the answering machine after hours.

"I was quite upset when I first heard about it on the weekend, and I hope police are able to find who did this, although I don't know how they will unless someone comes forward," said Mayor of Port Edward David MacDonald.

"We're hoping someone will come forward and help the police, because there's a lot of people upset about this."

Prince Rupert council joins in on the chorus against riding reductions in the North

The movement to reverse the Electoral commission plans to reduce in the north to increase in the south has gained an ally in the City of Prince Rupert.

The Daily News had a front page story Wednesday, on the backlash in the North over the B.C. Electoral Boundary Commission plans.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Page one

Prince Rupert city council will be joining political leaders from across the north in protest against a report that recommends decreasing rural representation in the provincial legislature.
"We're collectively voicing our concern over the suggestion that the boundaries be realigned such that the north and rural communities have less representation in the legislature," said Eileen Benedict, the president of the North Central Municipal Association (NCMA).

The NCMA is a group that represents municipalities throughout northern B.C.

"The suggested boundaries create such huge ridings that the MLAs in those ridings would be extremely hard pressed to provide fair representation to those living in such a vast area."

The B.C. Electoral Boundary Commission has proposed reducing the number of rural ridings by three because the population in the region is smaller in those ridings than ridings in the Lower Mainland.

At an NCMA meeting in Prince George this past weekend, which included Prince Rupert city councilor Joy Thorkelson, all the city representatives in the North agreed to fight the proposal. They joined northern MLAs - both Liberal and NDP - who are also opposed to the proposal.

Thorkelson said Bulkley Valley MLA Dennis McKay spoke at the meeting about his concern for the growth in his riding and the fact it would make the region so geographically large, he would not be able to represent his constituents.

The city will seek the support of other municipal politicians at a provincial convention in September.

"This isn't just an issue for the North but for all rural areas of the province that will have less of a voice in the decision-making process if the recommendations are adopted," said Murry Krause, vice-president of the NCMA.

"The NCMA region will actually be losing two MLA's and this is totally unacceptable".

The commission has suggested reducing the number of ridings in the North from eight to seven, reducing the Cariboo-Thompson region from five to four and also taking another riding away from Columbia Kootenay.

At the same time, the commission has recommended four new ridings in the Lower Mainland.
"We can't underscore enough how much outrage is being voiced in the rural parts of the province over this suggestion," said Benedict who added, "this is particularly discouraging because we know that the province's vast wealth is primarily generated from the northern and rural areas of the province."

Benedict will attend and speak at a large rally planned for electoral boundary commission hearings in Prince George Sept. 5.

She will also present arguments to the Electoral Boundaries Commission at the public meeting.
There is a hearing on the proposal in Terrace scheduled for October.

Prince Rupert city, along with some 20 other interested stakeholders, presented its concerns during a meeting earlier this year.

As a consequence, the North Coast riding has been given a special exemption because of its large geographic size and isolated communities.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

They say the road to an election is paved with…. Good intentions and maybe a bit more pavement!

Roads, roads, roads, everyone it seems wants to see some new blacktop in their area.

It used to be that prior to an election all the highways in a riding would get a fresh coat of asphalt, now it seems we’ll just make plans to build new ones.

Two separate road projects are making the news these days, even though electoral destiny is still a fair ways off.

A road to connect Kitimat with Houston is again on the burner as local politicians scramble to proclaim their interest in the route that would provide an alternative to Highway 16 and its windy route through Smithers to Terrace. Called the Coastal Connector and tied in with the Coastal Utility Corridor, the catharsis on this project of course was this spring’s flooding situation that closed Highway 16 around Terrace in both directions for a number of days.

The other road construction dream is the much discussed road to Port Simpson, a combination of bridges and blacktop that will check in at over 72 million dollars and provide a fixed link between Prince Rupert and its airport and on to Lax Kw’alaams. It’s been the frequent topic of Mayor Herb Pond and he once again has touted it as being “too practical to ignore”.

At one point grand designs were provided showcasing a huge suspension bridge spanning the harbour to Digby Island, but as the years progressed and the economy declined they became icons of a past age.
The recent production of a Community plan has provided a sample of the route of any potential fixed link to Digby and beyond (page 45, figure 11, from Quality of Life Community Plan).

The project has since been reborn as the Tsmishian Peninsula fixed link project, and has in the past been linked to the desire of the Alaska marine Highway System to cut down on its travel times between Ketchikan and British Columbia, by having its ferry dock further north from Prince Rupert, close to Lax Kw’alaams providing that proper road access to Prince Rupert was in place.

The fact that the revised highway plan includes linking the First Nations community of Lax Kw’alaams with the highway system may actually be the ace in the hole as they say for this projects potential development. Allowing for sourcing of funding on a number of governmental levels.

It will be interesting to watch how these twin highway projects progress over the next few years. Whether these potential roads become actual kilometers of blacktop, or just the talking points of politicians.

We provide the background pieces on both from the Daily News and the Northern View below:

Appetite is not yet there for shorter alternative to Highway 16 says Coons
By Christian Webber
The Daily News
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Pages one and three

North Coast MLA Gary Coons has attended a meeting in Kitimat that had the potential to pull together the whole region to speak as one about a slew of proposed projects.

Coons went to Kitimat at the beginning of the month along with representatives from Terrace, Kitimat, Houston, Smithers and some industry leaders for a meeting to discuss the practicality and desirability of what is being termed “The Coastal Connector Highway” and a related project the “Coastal Utility Corridor”.

The concern is that the Coastal Connector Highway, which would follow the utilities route between Houston and Kitimat, would reduce traffic and tourism to Smithers, Houston and the two Hazeltons, because it would provide a shorter route to Prince Rupert and the coast than Highway 16.

“The utilities corridor is a great concept and it is something that is necessary I believe and it was agreed upon by all the communities there,” said Coons.

He said the Coastal Connector is a concept that may be a bit before its time.

Some communities expressed concern at the prospect of losing business opportunities if such a road was built. However, Coons said that in the years to come, as Kitimat and Prince Rupert develop into larger communities, the road could be something that becomes viable.

The meeting featured a presentation by Vic Maskulak, of the KT Industrial Development Society. It outlined work that had been done, to date, on both projects, including reports, and meetings with government and industry leaders.

To some degree Maskulak was really pushing the Corridor and the Connector, said Coons.

“Pushing it as something that should be done for the region, he has been doing this for a long time, a lot of research, it is the initial phase of strategizing, something for the region which needs to be done,” said Coons.

Coons said that this first stage of development planning is vital to the democratic process.

“It helps regional leaders and First Nations communicate, this in turn means that those projects that are being pursued address the priorities of the region as a whole, rather than just one community or area,” said Coons.

He said many of those attending the meeting were in favor of the Coastal Utility Corridor more than the Coastal Connector Highway. The Utility Corridor concept incorporates proposed projects like Pacific Northern Gas’s new gas line, and a power line into a common utilities corridor that would provide cost and transportation savings.

The proposed highway would probably be much more beneficial to communities like Kitimat, Terrace and Prince Rupert that it would be to other communities in the Northwest, said Coons.

“Even the benefits that would accrue to these communities may not be enough to offset the financial and environmental costs of building a highway of this magnitude. A project like this would need to be part of a larger strategic development plan,” said Coons.

Northwest comes together to discuss Coastal Connector
By Shaun Thomas/ Malcolm Baxter
The Northern View
Aug 08 2007

Following a meeting of Northwest municipal leaders in Kitimat last week, Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond said that he is unable to throw his support behind the idea of a highway between Houston and Kitimat unless it was done in conjunction with a proposed energy corridor to run pipelines and energy lines to the coast.

“There could be good case made for the energy corridor, the pipelines and those sorts of things, and I certainly don’t have any experience on which I could comment. If the road becomes an easy addition onto that, then so be it. If the region is looking to pour a lot of energy and money into improving transportation, I’m not sure that would be very high on my priority list. I think there are other things we can be working on,” he said after a July 31 meeting that focused on the Coastal Connector proposal and included Pembina pipeline project manager Mike Massecar and representatives from Prince Rupert, Houston, Smithers, Terrace and Kitimat.

“For me it is really dependent on what is really driving the issue. If they need a good route to put some pipeline through and you can easily tack a road onto it than that is one thing, but I would hate to think that a large portion of the highway budget would go into that project.”

Noting that the proposed road would clearly have economic implications for communities like Smithers and the Hazeltons, which the shorter Houston-Kitimat route would bypass completely, Pond said he would seek more information on the specifics of a new road link before getting behind the idea.

“It really comes down to who is going to pay for it,” he said.

“If it is not coming out of the public purse in a large way then more power to everybody, but if it is something that drains very limited resources for transportation I would have to be asking much more serious questions about it.”

North Coast MLA Gary Coons, who attended the meeting, echoed the sentiments of the Mayor.

“The proposed highway would probably be much more beneficial to communities like Kitimat, Terrace and Prince Rupert, than it would be to other communities in the Northwest, and even the benefits that would accrue to these communities may not be enough to offset the financial and environmental costs of building a highway of this magnitude.”

“A project like this would need to be part of a larger strategic development plan.”

While he pointed out that he too had concerns of the impacts such a road would have on his community, Smithers Chamber of Commerce President Brian Burrill said that he was all in favour of further studying a road linking Kitimat and Houston.

“Speaking in terms of tourism, we do need a study because it’s my impression that many people don’t turn left at Prince George because there’s only one way in and one way out,” he explained.
A road would also open up a whole new area of the province that has yet to be truly exposed to tourism or development, he continued. However, Burnett conceded a highway is a long-term project and the idea with a utility corridor is a realistic beginning.

“I think we start with a single utility corridor,” he said.

“If there’s a utility corridor we would need a road.”

Ron Burnett of the Kitimat Harbour Group - a group of volunteers that includes West Fraser woods manager and route proponent Victor Maskulak - said the communities of Cache Creek, Princeton and Penticton had all feared the Coquihalla. But instead of disappearing, these communities have since flourished.

The idea of further examining the potential of a coast utility corridor and/or Coastal Connector between Kitimat and Houston will take place during the Northwest Municipal Association Meeting on August 26 in New Hazelton.

Fixed link project still on provincial agenda
By Brooke Ward
The Northern View
Aug 29 2007

When the provincial government released the Ministry of Economic Development’s Major Projects Inventory quarterly report last week it was no of no surprise to North Coast leaders to find the Tsimshian Peninsula fixed link project under the proposed projects section. It’s been nearly ten years since the project was first proposed but Prince Rupert mayor Herb Pond believes that coastal residents may soon begin to see some results.

“In the last year we’ve really begun to make some progress,” said Pond, who is preparing for a meeting with assistant deputy minister of partnerships Frank Blasetti in a few weeks’ time and a site visit from a senior project representative from the Ministry of Transportation.

“Recognizing that these things do move slowly, we’re happy to see that it’s gaining legs,” he said.
Originally proposed to build bridges between Prince Rupert, Digby Island and the Tsimshian Peninsula, a revised proposal is now under review, that consists of a system of road works, ferries and a bridge. The upgrade of 22 KM section of primitive logging road that connects the ferry terminal at Tuck Inlet to the town site of Port Simpson has already been approved,, a change that will tremendously improve accessibility.

“We are seeking ways to promote a sustainable economic future for our community,” said Lax Kw’alaams chief Gary Reece.

“Reliable access is crucial. It’s been a few years in the making and it’s something that we need here.”

“The link allows for significant economic development opportunities for the Tsimshian in their communities and the possibility of comfortably commuting to work in Prince Rupert,” added Pond.

“It is by far the most significant thing we can do to build a community for the future, not to mention the opportunities that would open up at the airport.”

Pond calls the $72 million project “too practical to ignore.”

“It’s a large amount of money, so that always takes both senior levels of government a little time to get their heads around, but when you start to paint the picture, it is clear this is a project that needs to be done.”

Mayor Pond buzzes your neighbourhood

Perhaps potentially running the risk of violating any number of aviation regulations, Prince Rupert's Mayor of the Air, Herb Pond, took an impromptu tour of his domain while returning from the onerous task of attending to out of town meetings.

While gazing upon the vista of his land, he dared only the "practiced pessimist" among us to find any tarnish on all that is now glittering in Canada's next great Port city .
He recounted his airborne observations for the Northern View, which judging by the amount of ink dedicated to the mayor's meditations of late, must surely be contemplating a name change to Pravda. Though athey should be wary at the View, once that newfangled blackberry technology arrives, perhaps his days as an ink stained contributor will be no more.
Giving way to a new wireless era of Pond on Demand!
From the Gambling mecca of downtown, to the latest pizza parlour, through the newest in housing developlments to the giant cranes of the waterfront, the Mayor sees and reports back on all.

Community development provides reason to celebrate
By mayor herb pond
Aug 29 2007

Last Tuesday a small group of us flew in from a very successful set of meetings in Ketchikan, and our pilot detoured for a few circles over the newly arrived cranes at the container terminal. Only a practiced pessimist could miss the excitement of this particular juncture in the Prince Rupert story.

We then flew low and slow past the newly opened Pizza Hut and the expansive decks and floor-to-ceiling windows of the nearly completed gaming center. One last side trip took us for some tight circles over the freshly poured foundations in the Edwards Avenue housing development. Exciting doesn’t begin to cover it.

Whether at our meetings in Alaska or Vancouver or here at home, the signs are unmistakable: Prince Rupert is being reborn and we have lots to celebrate.

At the same time there is still so much to be done.

Slightly less than a year ago a small group of us sat with the Premier and reviewed a list of the top ten issues that Prince Rupert needs to address to become Canada’s next great port city.

Telecommunications, air services, housing, labour attraction and retail expansion were all on the list.

The Premier got it right away, and assigned the file to two key Ministers. That produced a series of very high level meetings and resulted in the hiring of a Northern Gateway coordinator to be located at the hub of the activity in Prince Rupert. Together with a broad group of partners we are actively tackling the top ten list and last week’s announcement by CityWest of the advent of mobile data (Blackberry, text messaging, etc.) is just one small showing of both our intention and our determination.

So over the next few years there will lots to celebrate and it’s important that we do. But then let’s remind each other of the work that is still to be done in renewing this one-of-a-kind community.

We aren’t just after a little more economic development. We are building Canada’s next great port city.

A lot of kibble, for trouble!

Bow WOW! Helmsley dog gets $12-million in will
Associated Press

August 29, 2007 at 5:54 AM EDT

NEW YORK — Leona Helmsley's dog will continue to live an opulent life, and then be buried alongside her in a mausoleum. But two of Helmsley's grandchildren got nothing from the late luxury hotelier and real estate billionaire's estate.

Ms. Helmsley left her beloved white Maltese, named Trouble, a $12-million (U.S.) trust fund, according to her will, which was made public Tuesday in surrogate court.

She also left millions for her brother, Alvin Rosenthal, who was named to care for Trouble in her absence, as well as two of four grandchildren from her late son Jay Panzirer — so long as they visit their father's grave site once each calendar year.

Otherwise, she wrote, neither will get a penny of the $5-million she left for each.

Even in death they irritated the neighbours
From the archives

Leona Helmsely, New York hotelier, dead at 87
Ms. Helmsley left nothing to two of Mr. Panzirer's other children — Craig and Meegan Panzirer — for “reasons that are known to them,” she wrote.

But no one made out better than Trouble, who once appeared in ads for the Helmsley Hotels, and lived up to her name by biting a housekeeper.

“I direct that when my dog, Trouble, dies, her remains shall be buried next to my remains in the Helmsley mausoleum,” Ms. Helmsley wrote in her will.

The mausoleum, she ordered, must be “washed or steam-cleaned at least once a year.” She left behind $3-million for the upkeep of her final resting place in Westchester County, where she is buried with her husband, Harry Helmsley.

She also left her chauffeur, Nicholas Celea, $100,000.

She ordered that cash from sales of the Helmsley's residences and belongings, reported to be worth billions, be sold and that the money be given to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Her long-time spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, had no comment.

Ms. Helmsley died earlier this month at her Connecticut home. She became known as a symbol of 1980s greed and earned the nickname “the Queen of Mean” after her 1988 indictment and subsequent conviction for tax evasion. One employee had quoted her as snarling, “Only the little people pay taxes.”

Retro Modern in Vancouver

Vancouver joined the ranks of the latest fashion trendsetters as they unveiled their new look today, showing off new uniforms featuring old school colours, the city's name across the top of the chest and the current killer whale logo from past seasons. The shoulder patches feature the first year hockey rink logo, which is also placed prominently on the pants.

The uniforms were modeled at a GM Place unveiling party, as a number of the Canucks donned their new duds, Markus Naslund, Kevin Bieksa, Willie Mitchell, Mattias Ohlund and long time Canuck and crowd favourite Trevor Linden showed off the new look.

Made by Rebok, the new uniforms are made of lightweight material that is designed to remain lighter even during the heaviest work out on the ice.

Canuck fans can pre-order their new jersey's on line at the Canuck's team store.
The above post first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out!

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, August 28

Nothing says fun than a commercial full of lawyers!

The party of the first part, finds the internal competition worrisome.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.

Apparently the lure of free school supplies didn’t resonate well with those Rupertites in need, or maybe they were just away for the weekend.

Regardless of the reasons for the low turnout last week, the Hecate Strait Rotary club and the Salvation Army will try again to make sure that those youngsters heading back to school this fall have a good head start when it comes to school supplies.

They have two distribution times planned for Prince Rupert this week, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a. m. to 12 noon and 1 p. m. to 3 p. m at the Salvation Army Hall at Grenville Court by Northwest Community College.

Port Edward residents will have their chance to pick up the back to school packs on Thursday from 7 to 8:30 pm at the Christ The King Church.

The Daily News had further details on the project in Tuesday’s paper.

By Christian Webber
The Daily News
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Page one

The Hecate Strait Rotary and the Salvation Army are carrying on with the distribution of backpacks to children around Prince Rupert after their first attempt was poorly attended.

The free bags and supplies were designed for public school kids, they have smaller backpacks for Grades 1-3 and larger backpacks for Grades 4-7.

The bags are filled with school supplies, not everything kids will need but enough for a decent start to the school year, said Captain Gary Sheils.

In Prince Rupert, bags were handed out again at the Food Bank on Monday and they will also be distributed on Wednesday and Friday from 10 a. m. to 12 noon and 1 p. , to 3 p. m.

In Port Edward, the Rotarians and Salvation Army will be distributed Thursday from 7 p. m. to 8:30 p. m. at the Christ The King Church.

Our ears are burning, our ears are burning!

I'm not sure exactly what the hot issue in Ketchikan is about jewellery stores, but somehow Prince Rupert is factoring into the debate if only on the peripheral edges.

Twice in the last week in the Sit News, we've been held up as either a temptress to lure away tourists from Ketchikan or the disingenuous foil to the current debate over business practices in our neighbour to the north.

It somehow all seems tied in to an upcoming election, with the electorate apparently taking their sides early on and getting their licks in early as well.

Regardless Rupertites, if you're feeling your ears heating up a bit, it's just the kids up the way talking about us again...

From the Podunkian in box

From time to time we get an e mail or two, sometimes to gripe, sometimes to provide a tip and sometimes to just entertain.

This one fits into that latter category, perhaps painting a health care scenario that hits a little too close to the truth...

Ain't it the truth

A sweet little grandma telephoned St. Joseph 's Hospital. She timidly asked, 'Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?'

The operator said, 'I'll be glad to help, dear. What's the name and room number?'

The grandmother in her weak tremulous voice said, 'Norma Findlay, Room 302.'

The operator replied, 'Let me place you on hold while I check with her nurse.'

After a few minutes the operator returned to the phone and said, 'Good news. Her nurse has told me that Norma is doing very well. Her blood pressure is fine. Her blood work just came back as normal and her Physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged Tuesday.'

The grandmother said, 'Thank you. That's wonderful! I was so worried! God bless you for the good news.'

The operator replied, 'You're more than welcome. Is Norma your daughter?'

The Grandmother said, 'No, I'm Norma Findlay in 302. No one tells me shit.'

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Money coming for Masset tourism

The Province is contributing 272,000 dollars in funding to help towards the building of a new tourist information centre for the Masset area. The money comes from the province’s Towns for Tomorrow program, designed to help communities with less than 5,000 people fund projects of importance in their area.

The plan for Masset is to build a new and larger tourist centre, more accessible and made of indigenous cedar. Tourism is one of the key industries that the Charlottes hopes to improve on in the future, expanding on the over 1,000 visitors that they presently have calling on their current info centre.

The Daily News featured the plan as the front page story in Tuesday’s paper.

Government is finding more than quarter of a million dollars for project
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Pages one and three

The provincial government is contributing a quarter of a million dollars to Masset to help in the building of a new tourist information centre.

Yesterday, the province announced $272,000 in funding from the provincial government’s Towns for Tomorrow program.

“The Towns for Tomorrow program is all about helping our smaller communities grow and thrive,” said Tourism, Sport and the Arts Minister Stan Hagen. “Masset is a prime vacation destination which will be well served with this new, bigger, better and more accessible tourist information booth.”

The tourist information booth in Masset is open two months a year and sees more than 1,000 visitors. The new and larger centre will be built from indigenous cedar. It will be open longer and offer a wider variety of products and information, and will include accommodation services.

The centre is staffed each summer by students from the area.

“The Towns for Tomorrow program is a real advantage for communities like Masset, where it would be difficult to pay for a project of this kind through our tax base,” said Masset Mayor Barry Pages.

“With this funding, we can help build our tourism industry – a vital element in our economy.”

The Towns for Tomorrow program is providing $21 million over three years to assist communities with a population of 5,000 or less with community infrastructure improvements. Under the program’s cost-sharing formula, the province will provide up to 80 per cent of eligible costs, for projects up to $500,000.

“Through Towns for Tomorrow, our government is providing B. C.’s smaller communities with the means necessary to act on their capital infrastructure priorities,” said Ida Chong, Minister of Community Services.

“By supporting these projects, we’re working to reduce greenhouse gases, improve air and water quality and improve energy conservation.”

Meanwhile, the Village of Burns Lake is also getting a boost to its tourism infrastructure through the Nechako-Kitimaat Development fund.

The fund, which was set up by Alcan and the province of B. C., approved $127,945 to help upgrade signs and build improvement for the Lakes District Fall Fair Association.

“Congratulations to the proponents in the Burns Lake region for submitting a slate of projects that will work toward enhancing the tourism related image and increase cost effectiveness of economic generating and business facilities in the area,’ said Colleen Nyce, Alcan’s manager of corporate affairs.

Those who live in glass houses.... shouldn't have been throwing rocks in the past

It's been one of those days where the comedy writers don't have to do anything but turn on CNN,FOX or MSNBC and let the material write itself.

Senator Larry Craig most likely watched his political career come to an end today.

After his rather strange press conference to address his recent plea of guilty to charges stemming from a sex sting in a Minneapolis Airport bathroom.

The more he talked and protested his fate, the worse his already bad situation seemed to get.

He was the fodder for every news show on all the news networks all day today and he became the gift of material for the nightly talk shows like Leno, Letterman et al.

His only saving grace is the fact that Jon Stewart was on vacation, for this would have been a gift from the satirical Gods for Stewart and his Daily Show crew.

The problem for Craig isn't so much his very public problems (though they do seem to be bad enough) but more his past deeds and words while in the House of Representatives and the Senate, where he now seems to be the poster boy for hypocrisy.

Port of Prince Rupert's Container Port is not even operational yet and already a suggestion to block the rails and the roads!

Somehow we think this is more of a case of frustration, political alienation and rhetorical flourish, but from Vanderhoof comes a call that frustrated Northerners may wish to show their displeasure at their provincial politicians by staging a protest or two.

With the recent musings of reducing the electoral riding's of the North by one, the folks at the Vanderhoof based Omineca Express have come up with a few plans of action for the folks in the interior to take in order to get their message against exclusion out to the politicians.

One recommendation from their opinion page, that will catch the eye of local port officials and CN is the idea of a blockade, as the paper's website offers up the following idea in participatory debate:

"One suggestion would be to block the shipments coming from the new port in Prince Rupert by rail and road. That might get the company bosses in Vancouver going to Premier Campbell and “suggesting” the commission try again."

That idea we suspect will most likely not be the path they will take, and one that we're sure will come with a very negative backlash once it becomes common knowledge.
Holding the region's economy hostage seems like a strange way to make a political point and a rather irresponsible idea from the paper, which surely could offer up a more constructive and less disruptive plan of attack for better representation.
It is interesting however to note that the port and its rail and road links to the east, may soon become the most reliable and most often utilized bargaining chip along the Northwest corridor...

It's certainly not something that CN, the Port or its partners will like to see become a common occurrence, nor something that they'll be anxious to have shared with their customers on both sides of the Pacific ocean.

Elections by the numbers
Omineca Express
'Aug 28 2007

Next week, the Electoral Boundaries Commission begins a series of province-wide public meetings to hear what people think of their recent report on where the new boundaries should be.

You’ve got to give the commission credit: They’re coming right into the lion’s den to start. Their first two meetings are in Prince George next Wednesday and Burns Lake next Thursday, and the North seems to be the region making the most noise about the report.

To sum it up: Part of the commission’s mandate was to set new boundaries as needed without taking representation away from the North. So what do we find in the report? A proposal to increase the number of MLAs by two and take one away from the North at the same time.
That’s about as far away from the mandate as you can possibly get. It may be time for people up here to take a real stand.

One suggestion would be to block the shipments coming from the new port in Prince Rupert by rail and road. That might get the company bosses in Vancouver going to Premier Campbell and “suggesting” the commission try again.

Another idea would be to look at other areas of the province and see what can be done there using the commission’s own logic.

Our eye is immediately drawn to Vancouver. Some math shows the five proposed ridings of West End, False Creek, Fairview, Mt. Pleasant and Point Grey could be condensed to four and still keep each riding inside the limits allowed for a riding.

Of course, there may be a few complaints about the MLAs in those ridings having too many constituents to serve, but at least all their constituents would be fairly close to the MLA.

Compare that to some of the Northern ridings, where the MLA would spend more time getting to see all his constituents than he would representing them in Victoria.

We also find it interesting the commission decided to create a riding inside another one. The proposed Prince George riding would be completely surrounded by the Fraser-Fort George one.
We’re sure that same thinking could be used in Vancouver to eliminate at least one MLA from down there.

Just some things for the commission to consider, maybe, when they rethink the whole stinking mess.