Tuesday, August 31, 2010

City Hall Tracker, August 16, 2010

Parking issues, a development permit for the Roosevelt Apartments and updater from Councillor Thorkelson on the fishing season and another  notice of a closed session highlights the first  and only meeting of August for council.

Agenda for City Council meeting for August 16, 2010
Notice of Special Council meeting for August 16, first order to exclude the public

In Attendance: 

Mayor Jack Mussallem
Councillor Anna Ashley (by phone)
Councillor Gina Garon
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne
Councillor Joy Thorkelson
Councillor Kathy Bedard
Councillor Nelson Kinney

Absent from Council:

Minutes for Regular session of council for August 16, 2010

Minutes for Special session of Council for August 16, 2010

Attendance at City Hall to date archives

Next council meeting Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

And away we go

Time for a little R and R from the world of blogging, our Podunkian portal will be silent for a bit as we embark on our annual exodus from these Podunkian shores.

The Winnebago is loaded up and this Podunkian is out on the highway...

Enjoy these sunny August skies of Podunk.

 As they say, we'll see you when we see you...





It's the Economy Weekend Edition (August 14-15, 2010)

Setting the USA up for a fall, echoes of Madam Thatcher and  passing the buck on the unemployed some of the items from our weekend review of the economic section.

Globe and Mail-- Chastened Caisse seeks new balance
Globe and Mail-- Is reliance on foreign cash setting U.S. up for a fall?
National Post-- Mohawk land claim
National Post-- RESP hoops no easy leap
Vancouver Sun-- Steve Nash: A favourite Sun with a lot on the ball
New York Times-- Hey, Archie! Want to Build an Empire?
New York Times-- Double Dip? A Tipping Point May Be Near
New York Times-- Apple Employee Accused of Accepting Kickbacks
USA Today-- Fannie Mae says second credit report not required
USA Today-- Thoughts of real estate double dip deter investors
Guardian UK online-- David Cameron's cost-cutting echoes that of Thatcher's first government – and it will be just as damaging
Guardian UK online-- BP yet to update emergency plan three months after Deepwater Horizon spill
Guardian UK online-- US unemployment: Don't let the elite pass the buck
The Independent-- Supply, demand and a bit of speculation create inflation
The Independent-- HP board acquitted itself well in scandal
Telegraph UK online-- Netflix lets its staff take as much holiday as they want, whenever they want – and it works
Telegraph UK online-- The Bank must reassure Britain it has not lost its grip on policy
Telegraph UK online-- Adobe chief Shantanu Narayen: 'We don't need Apple or the iPad'
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Australia's most widely held stock in the pits
Melbourne Herald Sun-- CBA a pillar of profit
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- ATO 'worse than the Sopranos', says Paul Hogan's manager
People's Daily-- Inter-city rail projects cleared
People's Daily-- ASEAN benefits from China's fast and "inclusive" economic growth: experts
China Daily-- China still a focus for foreign direct investment
China Daily-- Nanning corridor to boost trade
Times of India-- FM says interest rates won't rise, banks disagree
Times of India-- Double digit food inflation matter of concern: Pranab

The Podunkian Brunch Sunday, August 15 2010

The Podunkian wagon is packed and ready for the annual exodus from Podunk, but before we head off for the fishing hole, a few items from our Podunkian Brunch the last for a while we we take our sabbatical.

We alas find that our favourite numbers once again failed to deliver in the weekly Lotto Max drawing, the 50 million jackpot which we surely could have found good use for has been split between lucky ticket holders in Ontario and Quebec. The weekly jackpots have been a popular topic for Canadians as they seek to find their share of the lottery dream and some of those Maximillions that have been added on.  We all go back to the starting gate for  next week, where the jackpot is 35 million. Which would make a nice start to a  well earned vacation we imagine.

Perhaps some of those fantasy winnings could be used on a trip to England for the 2012 Summer Olympics, if so, Canadians can rest assured that the British will be well schooled in their manners on how not to offend our apparently easily offended sensibilities.  The UK National Tourism  service has put together a guide for residents on what to expect and how to treat their soon to arrive visitors, from around the globe providing eleven helpful hints for how to deal with Canadians. Among some of the points they highlight are our tendency to use first names, our punctual.ways and our love of nature and shopping apparently, we also it seems have a firm belief in the nature of the first come, first served aspect of the line up and despise those who budge.  The British have also been advised that we are easily offended, quick to anger it seems when we are mistaken for Americans. The Brits may also like to like to keep in mind our vigorous defence of national pride especially when its the target of the always entertaining, if sometimes out to lunch British press, perhaps a refresher course might be in order, here's a sample of what not to say about us, should they need a relatively current and Olympic example.

On the topic of how to behave, a Calgary construction worker has learned the hard way that fooling around with safety issues at work (and posting the encounters on YouTube) are not a good mix. The unidentified worker was fired by his company after they came across a video of him throwing a wrench across the way to a co-worker, perhaps not an unusual workplace occurrence, but rather dangerous when  it takes place on the 29th floor of a construction project in a city.  The video which has since been removed from the YouTube portal, was apparently enough grounds for termination, but made for a handy teaching aid for the company's other employees, who all were given a safety seminar with the "what not to do" section featuring their one time fellow employee.

Another employee who had a bad week was the now ex-Jet Blue employee who had a wee bit of a meltdown during a recent landing in New York City. The saga of Steven Slater is becoming the thing of folk legend, that after he apparently having had just about enough of uncooperative passengers, levelled a foul mouthed tirade at the offending travellers, grabbed some beer and slid down the emergency chute abandoning his post and as it eventually turned out his job.  His path to revenge has of course been reviewed by many as what not to do in a trying situation, yet for some he's become the poster boy for frustrated employees weary of being the targets of customers and at times their own managers. For many who serve, the stylings of Basil Fawlty.

This week also featured a few visits from the political stork. Our MP Nathan Cullen and his wife Diana welcomed two new boys into the world, with the newest members of the Cullen family now bearing the names of Jackson Donald and Elliot D'Arcy.   Over on the other side of the country, twins were the order of the day as well, as former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney adds  on to the roster for his duties as a Grandpa. His son Ben and his wife Jessica Brownstein have had twins, baby one was named Brian, baby two John, that brings the total of grandkids there to six for the Former Prime Minister an his wife Mila..

Last week we made mention that Wyclef Jean was set to launch his campaign to become President of Haiti. This week the candidate learned a valuable lesson, the path to power will be one featuring more than a few detractors, sometimes from sources you perhaps thought would be a tad more loyal.  Jean's prospective bid for power was trashed rather vociferously by Pras Michel, a one time band mate of the candidate,  stating unequivocally that "If Wyclef Jean wants to run around and act as though he is the messiah, then he's going to continue to perpetuate the destruction of Haiti". We imagine that he won't be helping out with any fund raising benefits for Jean in the near future.

The fall television season is just around the corner and just in time for the fall launch the CBC once again seems to be in a small bit of disarray.  The recent exit of high profile top executive Richard Stursberg is making for no shortage of drama in the backrooms of the public broadcaster and into the pages of the national press. The Globe and Mail has provided a few peeks into the state of affairs at the CBC, issuing a warning to sports fans that the shake up could make for interesting times for the brand of CBC Sports, while Television critic John Doyle offered up this  premonition for the taxpayer funded broadcaster.

Television is the topic of our Podcast link this week, as we send you off to TV Ate My Dinner for a look a television and entertainment issues. The updates aren't frequent, but some of the topics could raise an eyebrow or two.

And for our musical selection of the week, we make note of the passing of a co-founding member of Little Feat, Richie Hayward passed away in a Vancouver area hospital this past week. Along with Lowell George  (who passed away years ago)  and the rest of the California based band they provided the early development of what came to be known as the California sound. Among some of their devotees through the seventies and eigthies were Jackson Browne, The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt to name a few. Hayward provided the drums for the eclectic mix of music, which while artistically recognized by both the music industry and their peers, never quite had the commercial success on the scale of those that followed in their musical footsteps. Still their impact on the industry, has been recognized time and time again. Here's a sample as to why so many were fans over the years.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The dry tinder of a media war for Prince George

An interesting little debate is playing out on the pages of the Prince George Citizen and through the Internet portal of the online news service Opinion 250, one which is placing one of that city's most recognized media figures in the middle of the story.

The Prince George Citizen, which is published by the one time owner of the now closed Prince Rupert Daily News, seems to have decided to make some past history of Opinion 250 founder Ben Meisner as a story worthy of investigation. The paper also turned the controversy into an Editorial page item, even using Meisner's oft used sign off as their own final comment on the tempest.

All of which seems to have if nothing else, provided for no shortage of commentary directed towards its efforts, not all of it particularly complimentary.

The Citizen story recounts a libel suit filed in  1997, when Paul Ramsey then a Prince George MLA and cabinet minister with the NDP successfully sued the commentator, who was then working for CKPG receiving a judgement of 30,000 dollars  upon its conclusion.

The court case seems to be the main thrust of the Citizen article which has focused on a recent statement by Meisner regarding his recent appointment to the BC Law Society.  Suggesting that the journalist who has made his name in the city for digging into the facts of other personalities in the city, was apparently a little shy when the tables were turned on him.

Meisner's take on the whole situation was a bit of bemusement that the Citizen was trying to as he puts it "trash my appointment to the BC Law Society".  On his website Opinion 250 he offers up his counter point to the original Citizen article, taking the paper to task for what he clearly sees as some shoddy reporting.

Readers of the product of both media outlets have weighed in with their commentaries as well, not surprisingly those on Opinion 250 are for the most part quite supportive of their champion of journalism, while over at the Citizen the commentary also seems to be one of compliment to Meisner and of contempt for the paper's efforts.

Of interest are some of the perceptions of the newspaper's version of events and indeed on its current delivery of news product to the city.

We found it somewhat familiar to learn that the Citizen, as the Daily News did twice a week in Prince Rupert apparently provides a "free" paper, in this case  a once a week freebie on Thursdays. An observation that Meisner points out in his rebuttal, suggesting that in his opinion, the Ctiizen used his name and personna in the city to attract readers to their free issue, in effect we imagine to try and improve circulation.

Free papers it would seem are a rather permanent feature of the Glacier Media product line now, though as the course of events played out here may suggest, it is a project that perhaps doesn't always work out as planned or desired.

We're not sure what it all means in the scheme of things, other than a little diversion in the heat of a Prince George summer.  But it sure heralds the makings of a pretty good media war for the city,  played out on the pages of the traditional broadsheet and from the portal of the brash relatively new participant to the media scene.

Even more entertaining for outsiders, are the comments from the readership as they weigh in with their thoughts on the current state of their media options there, a focus group for newspapers everywhere providing some cutting remarks about the local news scene there, some of which may seem rather familiar for Prince Rupert residents.

For a full review of some of their observations, scroll down to the bottom of the page on the links provided above.

Podunk Below the Masthead Friday, August 13, 2010

The EDO prepares to take inventory of commercial space in the region, names for the Cullen twins and a look at the water situation on Haida Gwaii, some of our items of note for Friday's news review.

The Northern View
Commercial real estate inventory to encourage downtown revitalization in Prince Rupert-- The Economic Development Corporation makes plans to create an inventory of downtown  commercial real estate, with a hopeful eye of spurring on development in the region (see article here)

Prince Rupert's languishing downtown getting a boost -- CFTK offers up its review of the EDO initiative to create an inventory of commercial real estate in the region (see article here) Sahar Nassimdoose provided this report for TV 7 News)

Cassiar Highway fire grows larger -- The Highway 37 North fire has grown larger, keeping the highway closed from 160 kilometres north of Dease Lake to the Yukon border (see article here) TV 7 had this report on the latest conditions of the fire zone)

Terrace Standard 
Cullen twins named -- Nathan and Diana Cullen reveal the names of their twin boys. The NDP MP and his wife became parents last Friday and one week later they have picked their names with Jackson Donald and Elliot D'Arcy getting their welcome into the world (see article here)

QCI Observer
Water systems Ok, despite continuing warm weather -- The current warm temperatures aren't' causing too many water issues on Haida Gwaii, though residents still face some water restrictions (see article here)

CBC News Northern BC Daybreak North 
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now.

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's the economy (Friday, August 13, 2010)

Blackberry finds common ground with India, a paralyzed Fed and the Hindenberg Omen, some of the items of interest from Friday's financial reviews.

Globe and Mail-- Zero rates a ‘gamble:’ Hoenig
Globe and Mail-- BlackBerry assures India on access
Globe and Mail-- Euro zone shows robust growth
National Post-- GM offering a political risk for Obama
National Post-- Alabama suing BP
National Post-- Investors should prepare for 'major structural changes'
New York Times-- Defying Others, Germany Finds Economic Success
New York Times-- Paralysis at the Fed
New York Times-- Fed Official Warns of Starting a Cycle of Boom and Bust
USA Today-- Shareholders file suit against HP over Hurd's exit
USA Today-- San Francisco proposal would limit toys in kids' meals
Guardian UK online-- German economy surges ahead at record pace
Guardian UK online-- US cities face up to massive cuts
Guardian UK online-- Topshop chief Sir Philip Green to conduct review of coalition spending cuts
The Independent-- Greece slips back under strain of austerity plan
The Independent-- Not out of the woods on repossessions yet
Telegraph UK online-- Germany economy expands most since reunification
Telegraph UK online-- 'Hindenberg Omen' foreshadows imminent FTSE crisis, warns BGC's David Buik
Telegraph UK online-- Who's next for the UK's economic forecasting hot seat
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Australian property market in dual-speed mode
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Australian stock market defies Wall Street gloom
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- New Coke bottles the real thing for sales
People's Daily-- Expert: China's economy may face more difficulties in 2011
People's Daily-- Rural shoppers open up wallets wider
China Daily-- More city dwellers expect housing prices to fall
China Daily-- Pan-Beibu Gulf members ink port agreements
Times of India-- Govt mulls pvt sector quota for disabled
Times of India-- A stalwart internal lineup for Tata top job

Podunk Below the Masthead Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tulani Ackerman arrives in Victoria, a wlidfire starts south of Houston and a former resident of Haida Gwaii moves into the Federal cabinet, some of the items of note for Thursday's news files.

The Northern View
No new items posted to the Northern View website on Thursday

CFTK TV 7 News
Prince Rupert teacher completes province wide journey-- Tulani Ackerman's StEps for Students tour of British Columbia has come to an end as the Prince Rupert teacher arrived at the Legislature in Victoria (see article here) (Sahar Nassimdoost's video report  for CFTK can be viewed here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Challenging New Wildfire near Houston-  While some cooler and rainy weather may have offered some relief from wildfires in the province,  lightning sparked a fire 40 kilometres southwest of Houston on Thursday (see article here)

QCI Observer
North-end TV to improve dramatically -- Haida Gwaii residents in Masset and Old Masset are about to a whole new look at television in the near future as their MHTV service gains an upgrade (see article here)

QCI Observer
Former Port resident now Indian Affairs minister-- A former resident of Haida Gwaii has been promoted to the higher ranks of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's  cabinet with the announcement that Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan is the new Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (see article here)

CBC News Northern BC Daybreak North
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. 

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Streaking Perseid! What's that in the night skies?

Well we don't offer up any guarantees once again, but if Mother Nature might like to cooperate with the folks on the North Coast, it may be a pretty good night for star gazing.

The celestial show of the Perseid meteor shower reaches a rather hectic pace this evening, with the potential to see up to 100 visible meteors per hour tonight.

The premium shooting star viewing time is from night time tonight and through the early hours of Friday morning, with the early morning hours the best of the hours to lay back and enjoy the show.

The best viewing for the shower is away from city lights

Both Environment Canada and the Weather Network offer up  forecasts for this evening calling for clear skies, so it could be all systems go for would be meteorite shower viewers of the North coast.

Our last opportunity to view the work of Mother Nature, the solar fuelled display of the Northern Lights was a washout due to the lingering fog and cloud of the last few weeks, with a bit of luck and some helpful winds, perhaps tonight we'll get to sit back and enjoy the show.

Vancouver Sun-- Perseid shower promises to illuminate night sky with meteors
Time Magazine-- Perseid Meteor Shower Set to Light Night Sky
CBC News-- Perseid meteor shower peaking
CNN-- Meteor shower will wow gazers overnight
Christian Science Monitor-- Perseid meteor shower: August 2010 marks more than just a show
Nature-- Perseid meteors promise shower of science

USA port snares huge potash terminal

While Prince Rupert residents wait for further signals from Canpotex that potash shipments may one day be in our future, the Port of Vancouver, Washington  has moved full steam ahead into the world of potash infrastructure and shipping.

Yesterday the Portland Business Journal revealed the scope of the deal between BHP Billiton, one of the world's largest potash companies and the Port of Vancouver Washington which has  trumpeted the developments on its website.

BHP recently expanded its operations in Saskatchewan and appears to have plans to become one of the dominant players in the industry in that province.

The project will see additional rail lines put in place and the construction of both a storage building and a handling facility that will load the potash onto ships. The contract has been described as perhaps the biggest contract that the Washington port has ever seen.

Once it's completed and reaches its capacity it's anticipated that it could handle around 8 million tons of potash exports.

 The Canpotex plans for Prince Rupert became sidelined late last year, with Canpotex explaining that it was readdressing its requirements at the time.

Since then, there have been few updates on the project file, the most recent coming on June 23rd, when Canpotex stated that nothing much had changed in their planning. With each statement offering little change in that status, the early enthusiasm in the community for the prospect of the construction of the terminal and the subsequent opportunities for employment have waned as the months have moved forward from last September.

Canpotex has potash facilities currently in place in Portland Oregon and in North Vancouver, with BHP Billington joining the world of potash shipping, it will be with interest that Rupertites watch what the next move of Canpotex might be and whether our community remains on their short list of options.

You can review some of the items  from the Canpotex file on the north coast from our Podunkian archives.

It's the economy (Thursday, August 12, 2010)

American home foreclosures soar, BC real estate sales drop and Blackberry gets a warning from India, some of the financial items of interest for Thursday.

Globe and Mail-- GM’s new CEO ‘aggressive, quiet’
Globe and Mail-- U.S. home foreclosures surge
Globe and Mail-- Greek recession deepens as austerity bites
National Post-- RIM stands ground in India dispute
National Post-- BP to pay record fine for Texas safety violations
National Post-- Pipeline firms to gain as oil sands operators spend to prevent accidents
Vancouver Sun-- Premier Gordon Campbell offers California legislators support for climate-change legislation
Vancouver Sun-- B.C. posts 42-per-cent drop in July real estate sales
New York Times-- BP to Pay Record $50.6 Million Fine Over Texas Refinery
New York Times-- Switzerland Takes Loss in Vain Attempt to Keep the Franc in Check and Aid Exports
New York Times-- G.M. Chief Stepping Down After Report of Strong Quarter
USA Today-- Pay surveys say workers will benefit from corporate profits
USA Today-- U.S. corn, wheat headed for record year, says USDA
Guardian UK online-- Airport staff vote to strike over BAA pay offer
Guardian UK online-- Prudential profits soar despite costs of failed AIA adventure
Guardian UK online-- Banks' big ideas for reform
The Independent-- Thomas Cook warns on weak UK economy as profits tumble
The Independent-- Rok suspends finance chief and issues profits warning
Telegraph UK online-- Stock market 'perfect storm' cuts pension income by two thirds
Telegraph UK online-- Why the US is as busted as a busted flush
Telegraph UK online-- Repossession threat as Government reduces home owner support
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Qantas duped by the volcano - Joyce
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Jobless rate up to 5.3 per cent
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Engineer lied on resume, bribed recruiter the ICAC finds
People's Daily-- Economy slows down, but more sustainable
People's Daily-- China's consumer confidence edges up in second quarter
China Daily-- Inflationary pressure 'could ease'
China Daily--  Lenders told to account for loans
Times of India-- BlackBerry told to provide access by Aug 31 or face ban
Times of India-- Industrial growth slips to single digit at 7.1%

Credit Card trial to continue on August 30th

The trial of the Prince Rupert man, who has been charged with fifty four criminal code offences related to alleged fraudulent use of credit cards will next he heard on August 30th.

Shaune Michael Nelson was arrested last week by members of the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP and made his first appearance  in Prince Rupert court on August 9th.

At that session the schedule was set for his next court appearance to answer to the charges. In the interim he will be the guest of the Prince George Correctional Centre until his next appearance in front of a judge.

The credit card case involved the combined investigation from the RCMP and the British Columbia Gaming Enforcement Branch and spanned across a good portion of the Northwest during the month of July.

Troubled economic times send more and more to Salvation Army Food Bank

There are many indicators when it comes to examining the troubles of Prince Rupert's economy, from double digit Unemployment numbers and growing welfare case files to the ongoing vision of boarded up store fronts along the city's Third Avenue shopping area.

But perhaps the most visual impression of just how bad things  are at the moment can be found at the Salvation Army.  Where the numbers of those making use of the city's food bank and its soup kitchen are growing larger, well before the traditionally busy period of Christmas.

In interview with CFTK News, Captain Gary Shiels outlined that thus far in 2010 over 1800 Rupertites have made use of the Salvation Army's food bank services, putting them on track  to having 3000 families using the service by years end. By comparison, last year the final number was tabulated at 1800 users for the entire year.

And while Captain Gary Sheils says that it's not the worst time the community has seen in recent history, that apparently was seven years ago, the growing numbers of those relying on their services is on a pace to equal those numbers of 2003.

With the current fishing season another one of disappointment and declining work hours for both fishermen and plant workers, this fall could very well be a very strong test for the services of the Salvation Army.

CFTK's Sahar Nassimdoost offered up some of the background on the situation at the Salvation Army, with an article posted to the TV stations website as well as this video report.

Podunk Below the Masthead (Wednesday, August 11, 2010)

Fairview continues to increase its numbers, the Food Bank finds more and more need its services and the Conservatives send their hopeful candidate off across the riding for introductions, some of the items of interest for Wednesday's news cycle.

The Northern View
Container traffic through Prince Rupert's Fairview Terminal continuing to grow-- Some of the latest through put figures from Fairview, which sees the container terminal continue to show increasing numbers (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Prince Rupert Food Bank is busier than past years -- An indication as to the tough times on the NOrth coast as the Salvation Army food bank sees rising numbers of those making use of its services in Prince Rupert (see article here) Sahar Nassimdoost also provided this report for TV 7 News(

CFTK TV 7 News
West Fraser to sell Skeena Sawmills -- West Fraser continues on with its exodus from the woodlands of the Northwest (see article here) (CFTK TV News featured this report on the sale)

CFTK TV 7 News
Busy summer schedule for Conservative hopeful-- While Nathan and Diana Cullen may be busy changing diapers, a hopeful Conservative candidate for the riding has plans to try and change voting patterns in the riding. CFTK introduces us to Clay Harmon who won by acclamation the nomination of his party in Skeena-Bulkley Valley (see article here and CFTK's video report here)

Kitimat Northern Sentinel 
RTA modernization appears finally under way -- The Modernization plans for Kitimat's massive Alcan smelter move forward (see article here)

Kitimat Northern Sentinel 
Business as usual resumes at Kitimat council-- A more sedate and business like session of Kitimat City Council took place this week, a far cry from the fireworks of the last one there (see article here)

CBC News Northern BC Daybreak North
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. 

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Fight HST supporters win a battle but face a lull in the war

“We will do a recall in November, it’s time to change the government and have a new election,”  -- “It’s clear the entire system is corrupted, even reaching down into the body that we rely upon for objectivity and impartiality which has now been tainted by the decision — we have to clear out the government and start fresh"-- Chris Delaney lead organizer of the Fight HST campaign outlining his thoughts on the Elections BC ruling of Wednesday.

When we last left Former Premier Bill Vander Zalm he was patiently waiting by his phone for the final deliberations of Elections BC on the status of the Fight HST petitions.  When the phone finally rang, Acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James ruled yesterday that the petition is valid, but that the petition would not be forwarded to a legislative committee until pending court actions set to begin on Monday are resolved.

A move that the former Premier describes as a "stall tactic", suggesting that the with opportunities to appeal the petition process could be postponed for years, while those proponents of the tax drag proceedings on through the judicial system.

It's a decision that seems to have been unanticipated by the anti HST group,  with Chris Delaney who has been the lead organizer of the process clearly one of the angriest of his group with the directive of Elections BC.

The Fight  HST forces now believe that they have two course of action available to them, seeking out a court order to reverse the decision and to mobilize the forces to start a recall campaign in all 46 of the ridings that are home to governing Liberals.

Towards the latter goal the Fight HST group was quick to action Wednesday evening, posting a MLA Recall list prominently on their website,  setting the stage to direct their energies towards a recall in November, seeking to as Delaney puts it "clear out the government and start fresh".

To achieve that success, they will use the provisions of the Recall and Initiative Act and target the Liberal ridings, looking to gain the signatures of at least 40 percent of the voters in each riding.

Considering the success of their most recent petition, one would imagine that more than a few Liberal MLA's may feel a little nervous in the months to come.

The fall session of the Legislature would appear to be one which will be one of the more tumultuous in recent BC history, as Liberal MLA's keep a watchful eye on their constituents and which way the HST winds are blowing.

Below are some of the reviews of the Wednesday events.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's the economy (Wednesday, August 11, 2010)

A double dip worry, the markets shudder again and diving markets spur depression worries in England, some of the financial items of note for Wednesday.

Globe and Mail-- ‘Double-dip’ fears grow in U.S.
Globe and Mail-- China’s growth slowing faster
Globe and Mail-- Now RIM faces new challenge in India
National Post-- Why the markets lost their swagger
National Post-- Uh-oh, China can't save us
National Post-- Fed can't save U.S. economy
Vancouver Sun-- New generator opens markets for Burnaby-based Ballard
New York Times-- Market Drop Worldwide Signals Fears on Recovery
New York Times-- Debts Rise, and Go Unpaid, as Bust Erodes Home Equity
New York Times-- When the Fed Speaks
USA Today-- Home mortgage foreclosure aid grows by $3 billion
USA Today-- Wal-Mart tops list of charitable cash contributors, AT&T No. 2
Guardian UK online-- Markets dive as depression fears grow
Guardian UK online-- Driver error caused Toyota's 'runaway' cars, US study suggests
Guardian UK online-- Economic recovery at risk?
The Independent-- Bank chief warns of 'choppy recovery'
The Independent-- Now the pressure mounts on the Bank of England
Telegraph UK online-- Bank of England lowers UK growth forecast
Telegraph UK online-- Irish debt under fire on fresh bank jitters
Telegraph UK online-- Why aren't benefit claimants finding work?
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Ralph Norris defends CBA mega-profit
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Global jitters hit home
People's Daily-- Housing prices level off, drop expected after Oct
People's Daily-- China's dependency on foreign oil exceeds 55%
China Daily-- Realty price growth slows down in July
China Daily-- Foreign banks to underwrite more bonds in China
Times of India-- India emerges as Asia's second largest beer producer
Times of India-- Air India seeks compensation over Dreamliner delay

A tree planter's worst nightmare

“I would like to thank those who rescued us from the camp. It was such a relief to get out of the camp,” Barker said. “We felt as though we were held as hostages. We felt like prisoners.” -- The thoughts of one of eleven rescued workers from a bush camp near Golden

Missed paydays, unsanitary living conditions,  draconian working orders and even alleged death threats, for a group of silviculture workers in the Golden area that apparently was just another day on the job in the gypsy like life of BC's tree planting industry.

The Vancouver Sun outlines a story that hardly seems recognizable in the Canada of today, a tale that leaves you shaking your head at what passes for one interpretation of an employment standard in a little known industry in the province.

While not indicative of all silvicutlture contractors in the province, the incredible tales coming out of the woods near Golden would appear to highlight a need for more stringent oversight on an industry that few have much knowledge of.

The BC Federation of Labour's Jim Sinclair was made aware of the dire conditions in this particular camp and has urged the province to take a greater interest in the standards and regulation of contractors in the province, seeking to ensure that proper living and working conditions are frequently monitored.

He would also like to see a more complete investigation into the industry to find out if there are more stories of a similar nature in other regions of the province.

"It is a bush camp. It is not a tourist camp," -- The observations of the company owner, who is disputing the complaints of his former workers. 

The contractor who had his contract cancelled by the province was described as very experienced with this kind of work  and has had several contracts with the province over the years.

This marks the first time that he has apparently been removed from the contractor pool by the province.  He currently is appealing that decision and is considering his legal options regarding that cancellation.

Vancouver Sun-- B.C. immigrant workers found in squalid conditions 
Vancouver Sun-- Immigrant Workers Claim Death Threats in Bush Camp Near Golden
The Province-- Tree planters say they felt like 'prisoners' in Golden camp
CBC News-- B.C. forestry crew 'felt like prisoners'

For his eyes only...

Few would confuse Bill Vander Zalm with James Bond, but as far as Elections BC are concerned, the results of the anti HST campaign are for his eyes only, however what he does with those results are up to him.

The former Premier and public face of the anti HST campaign of the last few months will receive the results of his groups efforts sometime today, while finding the procedure a tad strange, what with no public announcement from the elections overseer,  he has promised to outline those findings once he receives the call from Elections BC officials.

The Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer provides a rather fascinating review of the process of protest as he looks at the behind the scenes efforts of the campaign from its early beginnings on Christmas Eve of 2009, through to the very public province wide registration process that provided notice to the Campbell government that their HST plans weren't going to be universally accepted by British Columbians.

Once the numbers are in and Elections BC has ruled the government will then have to decide if there should be a Legislature vote on rescinding the HST, a move many suspect would be defeated by the Liberals in the Legislature.

From there, who knows what the future might hold for the debate over the HST, but one suspects that for the foreseeable future the former Premier will continue to be the point man for those that wish to see the tax over turned and withdrawn.

While we wait along with the Zalm for the phone call from Elections BC, here are a few other reviews of the events that led up to today's anticipated announcement.

CTV BC-- Elections BC set to rule on anti-HST campaign
Globe and Mail-- Findings on anti-HST petition for Vander Zalm’s eyes only
CBC News-- B.C. anti-HST petition verification expected
CKWX News 1130-- Big day in the anti-HST fight

Podunk Below the Masthead (Tuesday, August 10, 2010)

The Mayor hints at progress over Watson Island, Joy Thorkelson continues her bid for disaster relief for local fishermen and plant workers and the Civil Liberties Association wants your input into policing when it comes to the city on August 18th, some of the items of interest for Tuesday.

The Northern View
City and Sun Wave in mediation to seek a solution to ongoing Watson Island debate --The City and Sun Wave take the mediation route in a bid to solve their ongoing legal concerns over the status of the Watson Island site (see article here)

The Northern View
Northwest unemployment highest in BC, only region in double digits-- A reprise of the Terrace Standard item from yesterday outlining the background of the double digit unemployment numbers for the Northwest. As we outlined on the blog Monday, the northwest has the highest unemployment rate in the province (see article here)

The Northern View
Civil Liberties group coming to hear feedback on RCMP-- The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association will arrive on August 18th to take in some feedback on issues of policing in the province, the BCCLA will  host a session at the Salvation Army, part of the organizations plan to submit their findings prior to the province making a decision on RCMP contract policing (see article here)

The Northern View
Former OIC discusses Afghanistan -- A former officer in charge of the local RCMP detachment recounts his time in Afghanistan, where he was in charge of training or retraining the Afghan National Police (see article here)

The Northern View 
MP welcomes twin baby boys -- The weekly delivers the news of the arrival of twin boys for Nathan and Diana Cullen, as we outlined on the blog last weekend the Cullen's welcomed their new arrivals into the world on August 6th (see article here)

The Northern View
MLA assistants on strike-- Constituency assistants of NDP MLA's have given their notice of a trike vote. As we outlined on the blog on August 2, the assistants have been trying to negotiate a satisfactory contract since their last one expired last year (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Expect Watson Island sale announcement in the "near future" says Prince Rupert Mayor--  With the city and  Sun Wave, the former owners of Watson Island still involved with the courts, the Mayor offers up a hint that the situation may soon be resolved and the process of selling the mill moving forward (see article here)(Sahar Nassimdoost provided this interview with the Mayor for CFTK News)

CFTK TV 7 News
Disaster relief for fisherman is only fair is UFAWU Representative --Joy Thorkelson the representative for UFAWU outlines her concerns for her members as they face another troubled fishing year, including her bid to gain disaster relief for commercial fishermen (see article here)  (Sahar Nassimdoost provided this report for CFTK News)

CFTK TV 7 News
MP's wife Gives Birth to Twins-- CFTK also handles the birth announcement file on the safe arrival of the twin boys for NDP MP Nathan Cullen and his wife Diana (see article here)

Terrace Standard
Sawmill goes up for sale -- West Fraser makes its final plans to leave the western half of northwestern BC as they put the Skeena sawmills plant in Terrace up for sale along with its three wood licences (see article here)

Terrace Standard
Smelter rebuild project takes a leap forward-- Rio Tinto Alcan provides some background on it's proposed 2.5 billion rebuilding plan for the Alcan works plant in Kitimat (see article here)

CBC News Northern BC Daybreak North
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. 

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Mayor hints at progress on Watson Island issue

With the one year anniversary on the horizon of the City of Prince Rupert having been handed back the keys  to the  Watson Island site, Mayor Jack Mussallem has been making the media rounds to suggest that some kind of progress may finally be at hand.

The City of Prince Rupert took possession of the mill on September 29, after previous owner Sun Wave failed to make the required tax payments on the land, effectively returning the mill site to the city and along with it a monthly bill of maintenance costs on the site.

Since then, both Sun Wave and the City have ended up in the courts offering differing views of interpretation on what Sun Wave may or may not still be entitled to on the mill site, a process that has made for much work for lawyers and little information for the residents of the city.

Tuesday however, saw a bit of a flurry of information as the Mayor gave an interview to CFTK's Sahar Nassimdoost outlining some of his thoughts on the issue and suggesting that an announcement could be near that could see some diversification on the site and jobs for the city. (see video report here)

That news had barely been examined when late Tuesday evening, the Northern View posted a story to its website that offered up an explanation of sorts on the latest developments, with a few details of the ongoing legal process between Sun Wave and the City, which now has apparently been put in the hands of mediator.

Both the Mayor and Sun Wave's local representative Bill Belsey declined to offer up any further information on the process, but both appear to be suggesting that there is progress on that particular front.

The legal situation over the last few months seems to have slowed down the process of finding a buyer for the site, bringing on a fair bit of time since last December when the Mayor once described himself as the most optimistic person in Prince Rupert  with thoughts that the mill wouldn't be in the city's hands for long.

As time has shown, the saga has gone but six weeks short of a year now, a tiring drama that featured much talk but little information it seems, with frequent declarations that nothing can be said at the moment due to negotiations or litigation.

For a refresher course on the saga of Watson Island, we offer up our archive of past stories on the file since the city gained possession last September.

One hopes that indeed the Mayor is correct this time and that perhaps a resolution to the legal situation and a subsequent sale is on the way.

If not, one imagines that when the council begins their community consultation sessions in the fall, Rupertites will have many questions to ask on the topic.  Having had a year to formulate an opinion and having had a year of learning little on the file from its council and city administration, except the growing cost of maintenance on the site and the legal requirements that came from the court sessions with Sun Wave.

After 11 months plus, local residents probably wouldn't mind an update that offers up more than hints of a solution one day, as well as some kind of statement from  the city other than we can't comment at this time.

Tuesday's item from the Northern View is provided below,

City and Sun Wave in mediation to seek a solution to ongoing Watson Island debate 
Shaun Thomas
The Northern View
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

While the community waits to hear about the future of the Watson Island site, which has been the focus of at least two court proceedings involving the City of Prince Rupert and Sun Wave Forest Products, both parties say they are heavily involved in trying to find a resolution to the dispute that won’t involve a lengthy court process.

 “Mediation is part of the process, it is something that both parties have to partake in and the City is doing that. We don’t have any results on that, but in terms of movement and trying to resolve an issue the mediation process is part of it,” said Mayor Jack Mussallem, adding that he was unable to comment on any specifics while discussions are ongoing.

 “I would like to believe that the matter can be resolved with a minimal amount of cost to the City…Which way it’s going to go I’m not sure because there is a third party involved.”

Bill Belsey, who has been working on behalf of Sun Wave since the mill became property of the City last fall, also confirmed mediation was ongoing and was hopeful for a resolution.

 “We’re going through the mediation process and there’s still some details outstanding but we’ll work through those,” he said, adding that an agreement between the two restricted what could be discussed about the matter publicly.

“There will be a point in time when everything is signed and sealed that we will be able to go into detail.”

Among the issue in the disputes was the rights of Sun Wave, who made an offer to purchase the land from the City in a recent tax sale that saw all of the offers rejected by the City, to access the equipment and what equipment belonged to who.