Sunday, October 31, 2010

Police incident closes Highway 16 east of Terrace

Monday morning may bring more details on the mysterious closure of Highway 16 on Sunday evening.

The Drive BC website first identified the highway as closed  around 6:30 in the evening,  a closure that has resulted in no traffic being allowed in either direction from a point 16 kilometres east of Terrace,  to 50 kilometres further eastwards.

With an update at 10:30 in the evening, another road closure was subsequently announced from that 50 kilometre point, to the Junction of Highway 27 North at Kitwanga, the closures were described as in effect due to a police incident.

The Drive BC website detailed the closures as follows:

Highway 16 Both Directions 
 Closed in both directions 16 km east of Terrace to 50 km east of Terrace (34 km) because of Police Incident. Next update at 11:30 pm. Updated on Sun Oct 31 at 10:33 pm. (ID# 99838) Oct 31, 2010 10:33 PM 

 Highway 16 Both Directions 
 Closed in both directions from 50 kilometers east of Terrace to Junction with Highway 37 North, at Kitwanga (41 km) because of Police Incident. Next update at 11:30 pm. Updated on Sun Oct 31 at 10:32 pm. (ID# 99840) Oct 31, 2010 10:32 PM 

No details as to the nature of the Police incident have been released as of yet, the next highway closure update was last set to be announced at 11:30 pm, but has yet to be provided.


CFTK News posted an update to their website on Monday morning, advising that the RCMP has called the incident an urgent policing matter, but that the police had not disclosed the nature of the incident, CFTK is reporting that unconfirmed reports suggest that shots may have been fired.

Drive BC Update 7:41 am November 1
Highway 16 remains closed between Terrace and Kitwanga due to the ongoing Police Incident, A piloted detour route is available via Highway 27, the Nass Forest Service Road and Nisga'a Highway 113, full details on the schedule of traffic on the detour can be found on the Drive BC website here

Previous Update: 6:34 am November 1
According to the Drive BC website Highway 16 remains closed in both directions, further updates on the road closure can be obtained here.

Previous Update: 12:07 am November 1
The road closures remain in effect according to the Drive BC website, further updates can be obtained here.

Northern Adventure sailing cancelled due to severe weather

The wind storm arriving on the north coast at dinner time is resulting in Ferry cancellations by BC Ferries for Sunday evening.

The 11 pm sailing from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii has been cancelled, as has the sailing from Skidegate back to Rupert at 11 am on Monday morning.

Since further sailings are also weather dependent, customers are asked to contact BC Ferries at 1-888-BC FERRY (223-3779).

The Service Notice (provided below) posted to the BC Ferry website   outlined the details of the cancellations Update as of 4:00 PM.

 Please be advised that due to adverse weather conditions in the North Coast area, the following Northern Adventure scheduled sailings have been cancelled:

 11:00 PM Sunday October 31st departure from Prince Rupert

 11:00 AM Monday November 1st departure from Skidegate

 All reserved customers on the cancelled sailing will be accommodated on the next scheduled sailings which are:

 11:00 PM Monday November 1st from Prince Rupert - Weather dependent

 9:00 AM Tuesday November 2nd from Skidegate - Weather dependent

 As the two sailings noted above are dependent upon weather improvements, customers are requested to check the BC Ferries website for Service Notice updates at or to call toll free 1-888-BC FERRY (223-3779), after the 4:00 PM Environment Canada weather forecast is issued on Monday afternoon, for updated sailing information.

In an unrelated situation, Drive BC has advised that Highway 16 has been closed to traffic in both directions at 16 kilometres east of Terrace due to what is described as a Traffic incident,

Happy Halloween!!!

On a dark and stormy night... Prince Rupert's creatures of the night may be knocking on your door seeking treats or perhaps performing a trick.

Their stop perhaps a short stay before they head off to larger community events in both Prince Rupert and Port Edward.

Hallowe'en fest in Prince Rupert is set to get underway at 6 pm tonight, with a variety of events planned for many a goblins or ghoul, princess or vampire.

Thanks to the volunteer efforts of residents of both Prince Rupert and Port Edward the regions trick or treaters' have a safe (and dry) place to spend a few hours of their haunting of the area.

From pumpkin bowling, to a costume parade there are many activities planned to fill up the two hours leading up to fireworks, though with heavy winds and inclement weather expected to arrive this afternoon and evening, the fireworks portion of the evening entertainment may be subject to cancellation.

Likewise, Port Edward has its own plans for this evening, with a full evening of howling good fun planned there at the community centre, again leading up to a fireworks festival, weather pending we imagine.

The Northern View had full details on both the Prince Rupert activities and those in Port Edward.

And now as dusk prepares to descend on the area and the ghosts and goblins and other creatures prepare to head out on their yearly rounds, we offer up some public service pictorials to help identify the possibilities of the night ahead.
. . .




To All who head out into the night tonight, a most Safe and Happy Halloween!

Port officials join BC Transportation Minister on trade mission to Asia

“The mission will provide an ideal vehicle to increase awareness and understanding of the current advantages to be realized through Canada’s Pacific Gateway, and specifically the Port of Prince Rupert, while also introducing the tremendous capabilities to accommodate the growth and expansion of trans-Pacific trade,” -- Don Krusel, President and CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, offering his thoughts as representatives from British Columbia prepare to take part in a trade mission to Asia.

The provinces Transportation and Infrastructure Minister, Shirley Bond is off to the Orient to spread the word on Canada's Western Gateway and she's taking some key participants in the province's transportation system with her on a trade mission to Asia, which gets underway on Monday November 1st.

Senior officials from the Port of Prince Rupert have joined the Minister, as well as their counterparts at Port Metro Vancouver on the  ten day trade mission to Asia which will include stops in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and China.

Also making the trek to try and attract more business for Canada's west coast ports are officials from Gateway railway  partners Canadian National, Canadian Pacific,  Burlington Northern and Santa Fe.

A group from Vancouver International Airport rounds out the touring group, which hopes to spread the word about investment in British Columbia's transportation infrastructure and to secure the Gateway as a preferred supply chain route between Asia and North America.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority CEO hopes to emphasize the port's status as the fastest growing port on the west coast of North America, with extensive capacity and land for terminal and facility development to serve Canadian import and export industries.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Minister outlined some of her goals for the trip and outlined the details of the trade mission in a press release issued on Friday.

Those inclined to follow along as the tour continues can follow the progress of the Minister and her entourage as they update the Pacific Gateway website with details of the tour.

A good night for witches (to fly), not so much so for trick or treaters

If Sunday night's weather forecast is any indication, trick or treaters in Prince Rupert may wish to come with a tether attached as they make their rounds, just in case a stray gust of wind should sweep them off the pre-arranged route.

While nothing most likely will keep the young ones from their appointed rounds with candy filled destiny, accompanying parents will want to be prepared for yet another blast from Mother nature.

North Coast - coastal sections 3:49 PM PDT Saturday 30 October 2010 

Wind warning for North Coast - coastal sections continued 

Southeast winds of 90 to 120 km/h will develop over coastal sections of the north and central coasts and over the Queen Charlottes Sunday afternoon. Southeast winds of 80 to 100 km/h will develop over exposed sections of North Vancouver Island Sunday afternoon. 

This is a warning that potentially damaging winds are expected or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions. Listen for updated statements. 

A very intense pacific frontal system will move onto the north coast on Sunday bringing very strong winds to the area. Southeast winds will rise to 90 to 120 km/h over the coastal sections of the north and central coasts and over the Queen Charlottes Sunday afternoon. 

Southeast winds will rise to 80 to 100 km/h over exposed coastal sections of North Vancouver Island Sunday afternoon. 

Winds will ease to southerly 50 to 70 km/h late Sunday night after the front moves into the interior.  

With the wind will come rain,  as morning showers give way to rain which should arrive on the north coast by Sunday noon,  the stormy conditions continue through evening with accumulations of  13 mm, while the rain may not be problematic, the winds if they arrive as forecast could put a crimp in the plans, if not a cancellation of Sunday night's Hallowe'en fest fireworks scheduled for Sunday evening at 8:15.

Sunday will be the start of a blustery week,  the rain and windy conditions will continue on through  until Friday

Monday will feature southerly winds and 45 mm of rain, winds will be from the south on Tuesday with 35 mm of rain, 30 mm on Wednesday and 10 mm on Thursday.

Mindful of the Thanksgiving weekend windstorm, Rupertites are no doubt hoping that this latest blast of south easterlies won't be quite as destructive as those of the start of the month, which left homeowners inspecting and in some cases repairing roofs and siding and leaving  residents with a gas interruption and without power for over twelve hours.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday, October 29, 2010

City council makes its decisions on tax exemptions, it's almost time for another year of Hallowe'en fest and members of the Nisga'a nation get closer to property ownership, some of the items of interest from Friday's news review.

The Northern View
Prince Rupert City Council approves $333,000 in tax exemptions for 2011 -- The City holds a Special Meeting adopt it's Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw, The Northern View has reviewed the city's decisions (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Helijet coming to Prince Rupert -- CFTK reviews the air ambulance contract recently completed which will see on air ambulance based out of Prince Rupert (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Hallowe'enfest sure to be a treat-- Prince Rupert's annual festival of fun prepares for another year, as the local detachment of the RCMP prepares to host Hallowe'en fest (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
"Fill the Bank" campaign deemed huge success -- A late week rally has brought success to the efforts to fill up the Terrace Food bank (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News 
Apache officials visit Kitimat to discuss LNG project-- Officials from a Texas based company arrive in Kitimat to update residents and council on the status of their LNG project for the city (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Landmark Legislation Allows Property Ownership on Nisga'a Lands--The Nisga'a Lisims Government passes several pieces of legislation on home ownership, calling it a major step towards achieving individual property ownership on Nisga'a lands. (see article here)

Terrace Standard 
Food drive exceeds target-- The Terrace Standard provides its look at the success of this weeks food bank drive in Terrace (see article here) They also had profiles of some of the progress of the food drive on Friday, here, here, here and here)

Terrace Standard 
Terrace players stand out at university-- The success of a pair of Terrace athletes at the university level is profiled (see article here)

QCI Observer
School bus hit by car-- Details of a motor vehicle accident on Haida Gwaii involving a car and a school bus (see article here)

QCI Observer
Beware black ice-- As fall moves in Island residents are warned to aware of the driving conditions which can change quickly at this time of year (see article here)

KRBD Ketchikan
Wilson, Stein argue experience, issues in Forum -- A review of one of the final public sessions in Southeast Alaska as residents head towards voting day next week (hear report 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, October 29, 2010

It's the economy, Friday, October 29, 2010

The list grows of those opposing BHP, if the world's richest man speaks does America listen and debating Gordon Campbell's tax plans, some of the items of note for our Friday financials.

Globe and Mail-- Manitoba joins opposition to Potash takeover by BHP
Globe and Mail-- Canadian banks start to loosen purse strings
National Post-- World's richest man tells U.S. to sell assets 
National Post-- U.S. housing a threat to Canada, Flaherty warns
Vancouver Sun-- Gordon Campbell and taxes: the debate continues
New York Times-- Divided We Fail
Guardian UK online-- Angela Merkel forces Europe to protect euro from future collapse
Telegraph UK online-- Faster US recovery fails to dispel economic fears
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Qantas says economic recovery 'patchy'
China Daily-- Easing of hot money 'unlikely'
Times of India-- Power cos get ready to generate funds

Those crafty kids and their internet connections

Sarah Palin won't be able to blame her "mainstream/lamestream media foes" for this one.

The one time Governor of Alaska, and Queen Bee of the Tea Party movement likes to make much noise about how she gets her message across without filter, but sometimes it seems a filter might be handy little thing to have.

Using such social media sites as Twitter and Facebook,  Ms. Palin has been quick to tweet and post her daily deliberations, spreading the word as it is, one friend or tweet at a time.

But today the anarchists of the web struck back, as they took over her Facebook wall in what is clearly a coordinated effort to send their own personal message to her political troops.

Courtesy of the Pundit Kitchen is this screen shot of the deviously clever bit of internet theatre,  a message that has a certain resonance to those with sharp eyes and are frequent viewers of the Stephen Colbert show on Comedy Central in the US and the Comedy Network here in Canada.

The message was delivered to the Palin Facebook page on the eve of the combined Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally on the National Mall in Washington set for tomorrow.

We're going to go out on a limb here, but we have a feeling that the creators of the Facebook mayhem are fans of Mr. Colbert.

Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, October 28, 2010

Prince Rupert is chosen to host the Coy Cup championships this March,  A new contract for air ambulance services in the province and West Fraser continues to sell off the assets of its Eurocan pulp mill, some of the items of interest in our Thursday news review

The Northern View
Prince Rupert chosen to host Coy Cup provincial championship tournament -- Home ice advantage will be in full force in March, as Prince Rupert hosts and receives entry in the BC Amateur Hockey Senior Mens Championship (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Community has a responsibility says Prince Rupert RCMP-- In the wake of a string of ten break and enters and counting, the local detachment of the RCMP is urging local residents to take advantage of a program designed to prevent crime and vandalism (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Helijet Awarded Air Ambulance Contract for Prince Rupert, Vancouver -- A look at the 94 million dollar air ambulance contract announced on Thursday (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
RCMP say investigation of Rupert Teen's death Still "A Priority"-- TV 7 outlines some points from an ongoing investigation in the death of a Prince Rupert teenager this spring (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Eurocan linerboard machine sold to overseas buyer -- West Fraser Timber continues to sell off whatever remnants of the old Eurocan mill that it can, with a linerboard paper machine now destined for Asia (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Power line meet and greet held in Terrace -- BC Hydro hosted an information session in Terrace designed to build up relationships around the proposed Northwest Transmission Line (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Court Rejects Carrier Sekani Challenge of Alcan Power Deal -- A central interior First Nation court challenge of the Rio Tinto power deal with BC Hydro proves unsuccessful (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Tourism Study Focuses on Smithers, Whole NW shares benefits of Travelers -- A recent study released earlier this week provides some insight into tourism along the Highway 16 corridor as well as other Northwest destinations (see article here)

Terrace Standard
Business issues food bank challenge--  Terrace's business community takes up the challenge of providing for the local good bank (see articles here) and (here)

Lawmaker count rests in the hands of the voters -- Alaska's Legislature may add more members if a ballot measure is approved on November ins (listen to radio report here)

Wilson, Stein argue experience issues in forum - The District Two race for a House seat heads into the final weekend of campaigning, KRBD reviews the results of a recent community forum (listen to report 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, October 28, 2010

Prince Rupert to benefit from new air ambulance contract

Prince Rupert will be the home base for one of three air ambulance helicopters in service in the province, after  the BC Amublance Service  negotiated a 94.7 million dollar contract with Richmond's Helijet International.

The contract which takes effect on April 1, 2011 will see Helijet provide three dedicated helicopters to Air Ambulance duties, on call  for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round.

The contract will run eight years with the possibility of a four year option. Details of the contract particulars were provided in a press release from the BC Ambulance Service issued today.

Helijet outlined for the Vancouver Sun that they will be purchasing and using Sikorsky S-76C+ helicopters and will require a staff of 45 to manage, fly and maintain the air ambulance fleet. It's not known how many of that staff of 45 will be based out of Prince Rupert.

The Air Ambulances will fly out of the Richmond headquarters of the company, as well as provide for a dedicated Northern air ambulance which will fly out of Prince Rupert.

CFTK-- Helijet Awarded Air Ambulance Contract for Prince Rupert

Just in time for all Hallows, a time travellers visit

An interesting illusion is getting a new life again as we head towards Halloween, with some renewed attention paid to an old Charlie Chaplin film from 1928.

The film in question called The Circus, offers up a surprising glimpse of a woman walking through an exhibit and talking into a device in her hand

It's what she has in her hand that is providing for all the speculation, the more adventurous or mischievous, suggest that the woman is a time traveller caught on film talking into her cel phone.

The more skeptical or non believers in the paranormal figure it was an early prototype of a hearing aid or perhaps someone having a little fun in the Chaplin film.

Some of the more interesting of theories can be found here, here or here.

Regardless, it makes for an interesting mystery heading into the weekend dedicated to the unexplained and mysterious.

It's the economy, Thursday, October 28, 2010

Risks rising for Canadian economy, Saskatchewan wants nothing to do with BHP and Rupert to benefit from new air ambulance contract, some of the items of interest from our financials for Thursday.

Globe and Mail-- Potash shares hit by fears Ottawa could quash BHP takeover attempt
Globe and Mail-- Risks to Canadian economy mounting: IMF
National Post-- Saskatchewan premier shuns BHP golden share
National Post-- Tilting at unions in Quebec
Vancouver Sun-- Helijet awarded eight-year air ambulance contract
New York Times-- Firms Knew of Cement Flaws Before Spill, Panel Says
Guardian UK online-- UK boardroom pay leaps 55% in a year
Telegraph UK online-- The Fed is fuelling the catastrophe of fast rising raw material prices
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Aussie consumer debt on the rise - study
China Daily-- Yuan drop 'will help exporters'
Times of India--- Food inflation downsharply to 13.75% on improved supplies

Bed bug debunking for Rupert

Bed bugs, the apparent current topic de jour of local coffee shops and such around town received an examination on the CFTK TV evening news last night.

A story that featured the current concerns and provided for some hard background information, to go along with the anecdotal information and rumours that have been making the rounds of town of late.

The fascination with bedbugs in recent months has seemingly been taking on the thing of urban legend, with visions of hordes of the critters bringing terror from New York to Vancouver and beyond.

The local theme has been making the rounds over the last few months, (the topic received its earliest reviews on the local information portal htmf) , but as of yet there has been no official notification from Northern Health of any major concerns, nor has the School District seemingly been unduly alarmed by any reports and issued any advisories.

The TV 7 report from Sahar Nassimdoost (see video here) seems to have provided the kind of details that should quell some of the more anxious of concerns of late of a bed bug infestation in the city.

Featuring an informative bit of study from a Pest Control Company, their contribution which is like a Bed Bug 101 course offers up some important facts to consider.

During the course of the report we learn what to look for around the home as far as bed bug infestations go  and for the most part  it seems to take away some of the hysteria that just the mention of the word seems to bring out.

While there has been one case of bed bugs reported in the city,  the  prospect that the bugs are marching across the city is a concern that for Prince Rupert it would seem, is to be more of a  myth than a fact based event.

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hotel owners have their say on sewage, the clamour over a bed bug infestation in town is unfounded and Kitimat prepares to go to the polls, some of our news highlights for Wednesday.

The Northern View
Prince Rupert hoteliers discuss sewage fee concerns with council-- Local hotel owners continue to express their thoughts on the city's sewage charge proposals (see article here)

CFTK T V 7 News
Bed Bugs-- The current fascination in Prince Rupert over bed bugs gets a review by CFTK news (see Sahar Nassimdoost's report here)

CFTK TV 7 News
More break-ins in Prince Rupert-- The city's string of break and enters continues on adding up to ten in a short two week span (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Terrace Mayor defends Co-op graffiti-- The Mayor stands his ground on a controversial decision to allow local groups to use the old Co-op building as an urban canvas for artists (see article here) ( CFTK's video report can be viewed here)

Kitimat Northern Sentinel
Six candidates vie for single seat-- A brief review of the candidates for the upcoming by-election in Kitimat for a seat on council (see article here)

Kitimat Northern Sentinal
Telethon raises over $42,000-- Times may be a little tougher in Kitimat these days, but the Aluminum City Telethon brought in some dollars for local charities in the city (see article here)

QCI Observer
QC school adopts new style-- The Living and Learning School in Queen Charlotte is introducing a new style of learning to its students (see article here)

KRBD Ketchikan
Election coverage-- With Alaskans heading to the polls next week the final bit of campaigning is taking place, KRBD examined the races in the state (item on District 2 here) and ( items of District 5 here and 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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can the Premier buy his way back to popularity?

On a night when baseball's World Series made its 2010 debut, Premier Gordon Campbell stepped up to the political plate to take a few swings of his own.

While in the batters box on Wednesday, the Premier  hit a few foul balls, had a few swings and a miss and delivered one or two solid grounders, though by the end of his session he never really delivered the home run that many suggested he needed to bring to the nights political address.

As the Liberals head into the middle innings of their latest mandate, the Premier having recently changed the lineup card on Team Campbell, set about on Wednesday to try and change the direction of his squads current slump.

In the end, the man with the lowest public opinion results in the country, seemingly has decided that the way back to the good graces of the people of the province will come by providing for the lowest of income taxes in the land.

A move that while no doubt welcomed by those in the under 72,000 dollar a year club (the benchmark for the announced 15 percent income tax cut) , after all everyone would rather have more money in their pocket, but one has to wonder if the voters in the long run will indeed be willing to be bribed by their own money.

The main carrot for voters was the tax announcement which will see residents who make under $50,000 a year, receive $348  back in 2011, while someone earning $72,000 will have  $614 more dollars this time next year than they have today.

Small business, a mainstay of Liberal support over the years will also benefit from a revised taxation plan by the Liberals, with the Premier's announcement tonight that by 2012 small business owners will pay zero provincial income tax up to 500,000 dollars.

Wednesday nights televised address to the province was a strange mix, some folksy remembrances by the Premier of his own family experiences growing up, mixed with the kind of charts and graphs that might have been better used before the flashpoint of discontent that become the HST roll out backlash.

For good measure he threw in some fond memories of the recent Olympic games as his template for how British Columbians can work together, a segment of his speech that seemed a tad desperate in its tone and content.

In fact, while much of the Premier's scripted remarks were clearly designed to put a more everyman kind of face on the Premier, it was the tax cut and the HST mea culpa of sorts that seems to have been the anchor of the address.

If the Liberals had perhaps provided the same kind of explanation of the tax prior to its introduction, then maybe, though unlikely, the reaction to the tax wouldn't have been quite so dramatic in its anger (as reflected in the Premier's standing of 9 percent approval in recent polling results).

The telling point of the nights address was when the Premier said that the HST was introduced without consultation with the province's residents owing to time constraints, a suggestion that Province political columnist Michael Smyth charitably describes as bull scat.

Over at the Vancouver Sun, Vaughn Palmer offered up the thought that the address took us from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Indeed, the fact that the Liberals brought in the HST after winning an election without word one of the tax introduction being mentioned, is the proverbial noose around the Premiers neck on the issue and no amount of deflection is going to change that imagery.

The HST may have many merits, as the Premier tried to  explain during his address (in past postings on Podunk we have suggested that if properly explained the HST would not have been nearly as controversial as the way that the Liberals introduced),  but the simple fact is that the way that it was handled was atrocious and in fact in the mind of many, it was introduced under a false pretense.

In effect, British Columbians were the recipients of a tax without the benefit of having been given full disclosure on its impacts and  were denied the option of voting yea or nay, in favour or against, those representatives that would introduce it.

Such instances as history has shown in the past haven't always gone verily well for the governing body, whether it be a King or a Premier.

By clawing back the tax rates to the lowest in the country, one can only be left with the thought that there must be enough revenue being generated by the HST to allow for such a generous return of the public's own money to the average household in the province.

Not mentioned in the speech but also announced on Wednesday, was the creation of an HST Special Information Office, which will provide information on the tax leading up to the referendum on the tax set for next September.

It's a strange world where the residents of a province that don't particularly like a tax, will have to fund the very office that will try and sell the merits of it to them.

It gives one cause to realize that at times, there's a reason that much of Canada seems to think that BC and its politics has such an Alice in Wonderland feel to it.

When he wasn't talking about the HST or his devotion to making sure that British Columbians' have the choice of how to spend their own money through his tax cuts, the Premier spoke on such issues as health care and education.

Education will see a greater emphasis put on the Strong start program, a re-dedication to the five year old kindergarten program and a commitment to all parents that every child that leaves Grade four will meet the standards of Grade four achievement.

Health care statistics were highlighted as a something that would surprise British Columbians, with the Premier showing his graphs that show the government has spent billions of dollars on health care over the last few years, with at least 2 billion more to be spent over the next three years.

The Premier also outlined how the Province now spends 46 cents of every dollar up from 38 cents back in 2001 when they came to power, with an increase on the way to 49 cents of every dollar within three years time.

Considering many of the challenges that health care faces across the province, we might be excused if we wonder how much value we receive for that comprehensive accounting.

Again, with tax cuts of 15 percent for those under 72,000 dollars one wonders how those two portfolios, as well as many others may be affected.

We suspect that the revenue provisions of the HST most likely will make the tax cuts more easily attainable, but without a more fully explained financial brief it's akin to shuffling some cash under some shells it seems. In the end somebody we imagine is going to come up short and we imagine that it won't be the government.

That however is probably more of a problem for the Finance Minister to sort out when the budget comes around this spring, his punishment perhaps for being the point man on the HST roll out.

By the end of his twenty some minute address, much like the baseball game on the other channel was defined by errors on the field, the speech seemed to highlight rather than fix, the errors made in the past.

The bulk of the speech has already been posted to both the Government of BC website as well as on the You Tube portal, divided up into different segments or themes if you will,  those different talking points from the Premier can be viewed below.

Introduction to the address
Why the HST
 Benefits of the HST 
Supporting Families
Reducing Income taxes
Investing in Health care
Investing in Education
Working Together

It was the arrogance and duplicity of the Liberals in their less than stellar handling of the HST initiative that got them into this mess, a pond of political quicksand from which the Premier tried to extricate himself and his party from on Wednesday.

So it will more than likely take a few days to truly see if the Premier's bonus plan for residents will win favour beyond small business owners and the ever faithful.

If not, expect the Liberal base to start making some rumblings for a move to bull pen shortly, anxious to bring a relief pitcher in to try and salvage some of the last innings of this Liberal mandate.

Vancouver Sun--  Campbell uses rare television address to roll out major tax cut
Victoria Times Colonist-- Premier pledges major tax cut
Vancouver Province-- Income tax cut and education promises made in Campbell speech
Globe and Mail-- Campbell pledges 15% income-tax cut to fend off HST criticisms
The Tyee-- Premier Campbell uses TV appearance to promise income tax cut
CBC-- B. C.'s Campbell cuts income taxes 15%
Georgia Straight-- Addressing the province, Gordon Campbell makes his case for the HST

It's the economy, Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No such thing as too big to fail, BC's top 100 companies and watching for blunders from the Fed, some of the items of note for our Wednesday financials.

The Globe and Mail-- Green car revolution won't be as advertised
The Globe and Mail-- ‘Too big to fail’ debate ‘ridiculous:’ RBC
National Post-- The REAL reason for big investors' apocalyptic warnings about Fed
National Post-- Rare earth bubble is about to go into overdrive
Vancouver Sun-- B.C.'s top 100 companies, 2010: Resources drive top companies
New York Times--Unions Seek a Share of the Airline Upturn
Guardian UK online-- Greek bonds hit by election jitters
Telegraph UK online-- The Fed's impending blunder
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Rate hike still on the cards - economists
China Daily-- China to raise poverty line
Times of India-- India, Malaysia sign CECA; set USD 15bn trade target by 2015

RCMP investigation continues into the death of Emmalee McLean

“The death of Emmalee Rose McLean is a priority for the Prince Rupert General Investigative Section and we are utilizing all available resources to resolve this tragic death” -- A statement from Corporal Neil Stafford of the RCMP as the investigation in the April death continues. 

A discovery that shocked the community earlier this year, remains the focus of an ongoing investigation as the local RCMP continue to seek further information on the death of Emmalee Rose Mclean.

The Prince Rupert teenagers body was discovered  in the Cow Bay area of the Prince Rupert waterfront on April 10th  of this year and her case remains an active file for the Prince Rupert RCMP.

As that investigation continues they provided an update on the latest developments today outlining the nature of the process so far, which has utilized the services of The Prince Rupert General Investigative Section, Forensic Identification Services, RCMP Dive Team, Prince Rupert City and Rural members and the North District Major Crime.

Through their efforts thus far, they have conducted more than fifty interviews, while well over 100 people have spoken to investigators regarding the investigation.

A full review of their statement to the public can be found on the RCMP website.

Some of the past media accounts of the suspicious death can be found from our archives here.

The RCMP once again requested that anyone with information into the death contact their office at 250-627-0700 or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

City's break and enter total now at ten

The Prince Rupert RCMP updated the tally board today on the string of break and enters in the city since October 10th and for those keeping score at home the number is now ten, with the west side of town bearing the brunt of the criminal activity.

The most recent robbery took place earlier this morning when someone broke into a residence on Sloan Avenue sometime between 2 and 7 am, the suspect entered through a carport door that had been left unlocked and stole a wallet from the residence.

On Sunday, October 24th an open window proved to be the point of entry when a resident on Kootenay Avenue awoke to discover that the front window was wide open and the front door unlocked.

When the inventory of home effects was complete the home owner had discovered that a gold ring and two diamond rings were stolen, as well as a camcorder and wallet.

What has police most concerned about the string of break and enters is the that they are taking place while residents are at home and sleeping, while no injuries have been reported in any of the incidents thus far, the brazen nature of the offences has not gone un-noticed by the police.

You can review the previous case files from our archives here and here.

Local residents can probably help to slow down the pace of the break ins by making sure that all their doors and windows are locked prior to retiring for the night.

Rupertites with any information on the incidents is asked to contact the RCMP at  250-627-0700 or through the Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-800--222-TIPS.

The latest details on the incidents can be found on the RCMP website.

Podunk Below the Masthead, Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Downtown traffic and parking to face challenges for a few days, The Mayor and the recycling lady face off at council and local groups make their case for tax exemptions, some of the items of note for our Tuesday news review.

The Northern View 
Traffic, parking to be impacted on 2nd Avenue West -- Construction in the downtown area will impact downtown travellers for four days (see article here)

The Northern View
Prince Rupert community groups explain need for tax exemption -- A review of the presentations by community groups seeking a tax emption from City Council (see article here)

The Northern View
October sees a rash of break and enters-- The Northern View examines the string of break ins around the city in October (see article here)

The Northern View
Credit Union hands out more than $20,000 in grants --  Credit Union provided for a number of grants to local groups and organizations, which benefited from a share of 20 thousand dollars in grant monies (see article here)

The Northern View
Human trafficking the focus of forum set for next week -- The RCMP, School District and the Prince Rupert Human Trafficking Committee will be holding a conference on the sexual exploitation of young people on November 3 and 4, the Northern View outlined some of the discussion points (see article here)

The Northern View
The Northern BC region is a valuable part of who we are -- A review of the divisions of the tourism sector in BC and Prince Rupert's place within that system (see article here)

Prince Rupert Mayor puts recycling hours cutback into perspective for one resident - Mayor Mussallem defended the city's decision to cut back hours at the recycling depot, going head to head with local recycling advocated Jeam Nartin (see article here) CFTK also had video of the council session exchange between the Mayor and Ms. Martin (see video report here)

Prince Rupert groups ask for taxes to be waived -- A variety of local community groups appeared in front of City Council Monday night seeking tax exemptions (see article here)

Terrace council discusses details for Enbridge town hall -- Terrace's plans to host a public town hall meeting on the Enbridge Northern Gateway project received a review on Monday night (see article here) (CFTK TV video report can be seen here)

Public meeting to be held next month on Terrace co-op property--  The future of the old Co-op site in Terrace will get a public review next month (see article here) and TV 7 (video report here)

Terrace Standard
City hosted Enbridge forum delayed until 2011-- The Terrace Standard reviews the latest developments on the City of Terrace's plans to host a forum on the Northern Gateway (see article here)

Terrace Standard
Council ponders Co-op future-- A review of the some of the background behind the Terrace Co-op  lands question (see article here)

Terrace Standard
Power line review clock ticking again-- Some details on the latest deliberations of the Provincial Environmental Assessment Office on the topic of the Northwest Transmission Line (see article here)

Terrace Standard
Surge of jobs, activity forecast -- The Terrace Economic Development Authority embraces the idea of investment readiness for local business in the area (see article here)

KRBD Ketchikan
Bears break into Pelican homes-- A southeast Alaska community has its problems with bears (read article here)

KRBD Ketchikan
Company updates plans for Thomas Bay hydro plant-- An energy project in Southeast Alaska has its plans updated (listen to radio report 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

Mr. Campbell pushes the reset button

Monday's cabinet shuffle moved 16 cabinet ministers around the table, sending many on to new portfolios, designed it seems to change not only some of the faces in the Ministries, but to deflect some of the ongoing political troubles for the Premier.

Though if the reviews of his Monday morning movements are any indication, the troubles continue on anew, only the names on the door plates seemingly changed.

In the capital, the Times Colonist found little to inspire from the Premiers personnel shift, while chief columnist Les Leyne focused on the comings and goings with the Premier's gatekeeper position the chief of staff.

Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver Sun called the shuffle a move made of desperation, not exactly the ringing endorsement of leadership that perhaps the Liberals were hoping for by the end of Monday's news cycle.

Michael Smyth of the Province referred to the days events as a shell-game shuffle, also providing particular attention to the departure of the Premier's right hand man Martyn Brown who has been dispatched to deputy minister duties in tourism.

Over at the Globe and Mail, one word seemed to highlight their reviews of Monday's reassignments, that word being confusion, with mixed messages being sent to the province's civil servants, many apparently unsure at the moment who they may really work for.

Globe Columnist Gary Mason also touched on the "mysterious move" of Martyn Brown and the other changes to the cabinet which he suggests most likely won't have any impact on the party's gruesome standing with the public

If Monday's Liberal lottery was to be an indication that the Premier is back on his game, it would seem that the message hasn't been received by many, including some within his own party.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett was unusually blunt in his assessment of the Liberal game plan in recent times, providing a position statement that possibly best describes the backlash of late against the Liberals, "It's the difference between doing things to people and with people, and I personally believe it's just smarter to do things with people"

Needless to say the Opposition NDP have taken he opportunity to weigh in on the new cabinet, calling the Premier's moves to  nothing but "just another frantic move from a scandal plagued government that's out of gas."

The NDP talking points played on any number of themes, giving a rather hefty bit of work to NDP one liner writers, among some of their findings upon the release of the cabinet shuffle  were digs at the Premier's dedication to recycling, as he moves ministers from point to point and a suggestion that the Public Safety portfolio be re-named the Ministry of the Revolving door.

As well as their thoughts on the actual shuffle, the NDP also took aim at the Premier's television address scheduled for Wednesday night.

Pointing out that the Liberal's have had a bit of an avoidance issue when it comes to convening the Legislature, they wondered aloud if the Premier might wish to provide the House Leader with an advertising budget since he's so fond of television time.

We're not sure if the Premier is likely to take them up on their suggestions, nor if he would share in their criticisms, but they won't keep him from his close up tonight.

In his television address this evening Mr. Campbell intends to refocus the agenda on such things as the economy, education and take the opportunity to try and turn around the anti HST backlash. The latter a rather ambitious mountain to climb to say the least.

If he hopes to turn around what appears to be a pretty dire political situation, his Wednesday night chat had best capture the attention of an audience  that has seemingly grown weary of his time on the political stage.

The twenty five minutes of political redirection and hopeful redemption takes place at 7 tonight on Global TV, with radio broadcasts available on the CBC, CKNW and CFAX radio in Victoria.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's the economy, Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Doubts on Europe's economy, B C residents put down their renovation hammers and Greece is back on the financial watch list, some of the items of note from Tuesday's financial items.

Globe and Mail-- Carney stays positive about housing
Globe and Mail-- Doubt lingers in Europe’s economies
National Post-- CN hopes service will boost profit
National Post-- The Potash tax grab
Vancouver Sun-- B.C. homeowners least likely to renovate in the next two years, RBC survey finds
New York Times-- U.S. and Europe Urged to Join Forces on Rare Earth Metals
Guardian UK online-- George Osborne declares economy back on track after GDP increase
Telegraph UK online-- Greece reignites Europe debt woes
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Church takes hard line over sex commercial
China Daily-- Worker shortage spreads to China's western regions
Times of India-- India to grow at 8.25-8.75% in current fiscal: FM

Not much room for conversation at city council Monday night

If councillors Ashley and Garon are wondering why Prince Rupert residents haven't been more engaged in their community consultation sessions over the last six weeks or so, perhaps the events of Monday night at Prince Rupert City Council may help to shed some light as to the cause of the apathetic nature of some residents.

For some it could very well be that City residents may get the impression that city council just doesn't want to listen to their concerns or complaints anymore, a concept that perhaps may have some merit.

Monday's session seemed to bring out the snark in Mayor Jack Mussallem, who offered up a very public verbal smack down to local recycling advocate Jean Martin.

Ms. Martin has been the proverbial thorn in the side of the Mayor over the last year or so when it comes to matters of recycling and Monday night provided what seems to be the boiling point for the Mayor.

In the course of a question at council regarding the cutback of hours to the Recycling Centre, the Mayor seemingly weary of Ms. Martin's ongoing opposition to the city's position sharply and clearly snapped at her, uttering the kind of talking point of No, you may not,  that could very well define his years as Mayor.

The smoking gun of public rebuke can be viewed from CFTK TV, where the clip from the evening news was featured on the stations website.

From the point that he seemed to end the discussion,  the Mayor seemed to suggest that her ongoing quest for more accessible times at the recycling centre could very well put the city's finances in peril.

Though the logic seems a little off on that interpretation, what with that huge rolling debt load from the pulp mill lands still on the city's books and eating up much more valuable financial resources than the recycling efforts, and in effect contributing to the cutbacks that have been made there.

While we understand the need for cutbacks in tough times, the recycling issue seems to have taken on the public focus of the city's budget woes.

The Mayor in particular seems to have embarked on  a strong willed approach to reducing costs there, while  fiscal prudence at a number of other city owned or operated ventures seem impervious to any similar form of fiscal restraint.

The fact that the recycling centre actually is used by the community and is one of the more public of the city's ventures and is one that impacts on residents day to day lives should not be lost on the Mayor and his council.

After all if they don't provide the services that we want there will be an accounting for of their actions and with a petition in hand Ms. Martin clearly proved that there is a concern over their cost cutting in this case.

However, perhaps what is even more disconcerting than the Mayors' rather short temper with Ms. Martin, was the response, or lack of actually from the remainder of council.

Not one of the councillors in attendance appear to have interjected to suggest Ms. Martin be allowed to finish outlining her position, rather they sat quietly as the Mayor rebuked the citizen who had come to express her thoughts and seek out the city's understanding as to her passion for recycling in the city.

The fact that she raised a few interesting points about management of the recycling initiative at the Regional District level also should have made for an interesting addition to the debate, but by their silence on the issue, the six councillors seem to be on side with the Mayor.

Considering the rather rude approach to Ms. Martin's contribution, it's not a surprise that others may have second thoughts about offering up their own feedback on other city issues.

If residents feel that their intercessions at council are going to receive similar outbursts or a lack of interest or support from the sitting councillors, then it really shouldn't be too big a surprise if the citizens continue on to treat this council as a lost cause to the goals of accountability and transparency.

Should council be looking for an inexpensive focus group as to how the locals might be thinking in the wake of the tempest  a review of some of the contributions on a topic thread at the local information portal htmf may be helpful,  where the events of Monday night are receiving a fair amount of scrutiny and commentary.

No you may not! 

Words to remember, as they may get replayed for more than a few of the current members of council next November, when this council seeks re- election to council chambers.

Those that seek a seat at City Hall and wish to govern us, may wish to keep in mind that taking  that seat comes with the blessing of the electorate (those at least that still care) and that in the end, council is answerable to those that voted them in and not vice versa.