Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Blog Launched!

This blog has been migrated to All posts have been moved and newer posts are available as of March 23, 2013.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Libertarian View

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right for all people. The hardest thing to do is protect that right for people you don't agree with.  Even if the statements of others are directed as hate against me,  I will put my own life on the line to defend their right to speak their truth. Censorship is a very slippery slope.  The voice you silence today might be the only one listening when you speak tomorrow.

Freedom of expression in Canada is guaranteed by section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: 2.

"Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: ...

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication"

Everyone has this right.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

SkyTrain - Broadway Corridor

March 10 I attended an open house meeting with Mayor Gregor Robertson and councillor Geoff Meggs.  The meeting was filled to capacity and there were some great people in the audience.  NDP politician Mike Harcourt was there as was Constance Barnes.

Before passing any opinion on this matter, I would like to say thank you to all the citizens who gave up a few hours on their Sunday to come down and express their opinions.  This is indeed how democracy needs to work and it is great to see so many exercising their rights.  I appreciated hearing from the people for and the people against the plans.

The presentation went very well and I thought Councilor Meggs made a very eloquent and data driven presentation that would have lead anyone to the logical conclusion that the SkyTrain is needed and the best option is to tunnel under Broadway, primarily to reduce the devastation of the cut and cover techniques used on Cambie.   Based on the congestion alone, it appears we need to invest into the future.  I myself have been passed up on the 99B or very near the last person allowed on a totally packed bus.  I was surprised to find a very sizeable opposition to the project in the hall and listened to hear their concerns.

NIMBY - the Not In My Back Yard opposition is very typical and for those living right next to the projects, is justifiable.  During the construction of the Cambie street line (Canada Line), the local residents had major problems, several businesses failed and more.  I noticed some patterns of activity that I will elaborate on later.  A second set of concerns concluded that along with Skytrain we will get a lot of big box retailers displacing the local businesses.  A tangent on this is the worry that with the prosperity promised from Skytrain, the local real estate prices will continue to soar, something that does worry a lot of people in this riding.

By far the the most compelling reason against is the cost.  When asked directly, Mayor Robertson told the audience that the cost is $2.8 billion for a tunnel approach.  I took the liberty of checking the official Translink website ( I am a data geek) and found that the projected cost is actually $3.2 billion.  There are conflicting bits of information on this.  For example, this page ( ) states the cost is $3.0 billion for the RRT version.  This page paints it at $2.8 billion ( while the Globe and Mail pegs it at #2 billion. I also had seen another number of $3.2 billion which seems to have since been removed from the Translink website but the Vancouver Sun, of which I would believe the reporters did proper homework, reported the $3.2 billion number too at  This really doesn't matter as much as the fact that BC is now at record levels of debt.  Still, asking how we will pay for this is a very just question and one that needs to be answered honestly.  We are broke and in debt.  You cannot borrow your way out of debt.

I am running for office and one of the things I will promise you is that if elected, I will never take what I am told for granted and will do my homework.  I find it worrying that the raw data of the budget is not public and that there is a $400 million discrepancy.

So where do I stand?  This is a complex issue and here is what I would like to see.

1. Some research to understand the real cost and also the track records of those who are doing the estimates.  I would welcome an understanding of whether of not the estimates are provided by people and processes that have proven accurate or inaccurate.   If these people have been wrong in the past, we, the people , have a right to know.  One of the core policies of the BC Conservative Party is that we believe government must be transparent and accountable to the people.  We are all expected to balance our budgets in a given fiscal cycle.  Is this too much to ask of our elected officials?

2. I would like to understand the tendering process (the process by which we award the contract  and understand how many BC jobs are involved.  Are we sole sourcing it?  If we are, why and are we locking out local companies?

3. I would like to understand the options for private funding and operation to see if they are acceptable. Maybe private enterprise can help cushion the costs?  This needs a lot of work before it could be proposed but it does seem to be a valid question.

4. We, the BC Conservative Party, actually listen to people when they speak and share concerns about the potential to disrupt the character of the neighbourhood.  In particular however, the re-zoning and number of re-development applications is a separate issue.   Saying yes to SkyTrain does not equate directly to allowing big box stores to take over small family run businesses.  I also want to see a contingency fund in place to help any businesses hurt by the process.  I also want to understand why there seems to have been an acceleration in development along the corridor prior to the SkyTrain being formally approved?  On the few blocks around my house I have seen many new development signs going on and it does make me a little uneasy.

5. I would like to understand the full environmental impact.  Many people complain about the fact that our government is no where near meeting its' 2020 GHG obligations and the SkyTrain project may actually have the capacity to help meet that target.  The Canada line, for example, carried 38 million passengers last year which is a lot less car trips.

In general, despite the high cost, it is a project I think can be beneficial to the entire corridor but there are some conditions that need to be met.  Politicians must listen to their constituents and I applaud every politician who took time to attend and listen.  I believe we have learned from Cambie and the Canada Line experience and can mitigate many of the concerns.

I remain in favor of the SkyTrain, contingent upon the concerns of residents being satisfied.  We need to reduce GHG emissions, the existing system is at capacity and the future needs to be planned for now.  For anyone who does not believe the system is at capacity, please experience boarding a 99B bus between 8-11:00 AM or 3-7 PM.

I am doing some more research on this and will post it on this blog as it becomes available.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Higher income tax for Vancouver - Point Grey

I had just written about my concerns with the new Provincial budget and the propensity to tax the high income earners.  While I thought this would come from the NDP, it turns out that it is coming from the Liberals.  According to Mike DeJong, if you make a higher amount of income, you will pay more.

He also says Doctor's can expect less income, schooling will remain flat and a number of other measures.  Family friendly?  West Point Grey- Kitsilano residents are the key family demographic.  Of course our Premier sends her kids to private schools but most of our kids go to public schools that have Asbestos in the main hallways and are at the highest risk of collapse in a seismic event.

We, as British Columbian's, must pay close attention to this budget.  This is our children's futures we are talking about.  This is our future.  If our children are not given a proper education and are relegated to menial labour jobs, how can we expect a tax base to support our retirement?  We will be at the mercy of large multinational corporations who seek our resources.    So how do we do that without raising taxes?

Smarter spending is part of the answer.  Our children do not need smart meters or fast ferries.  We do not need $15 million taxpayer funded government advertising campaign.  We do not need a Carbon Tax that neither reduces carbon or invests in renewable energy.   We do not need to subsidize special interest groups or business.  

We do need asbestos free environments for our children to go to school in.  Is prioritizing this too much to ask?

March 8 - International Women's Day

Today, Friday March 8, 2013 is international women's day.  This is a globally observed day of recognition of the history, contributions and plight of women around the world.  People celebrate it differently in different countries.

In some countries women are celebrating the right to get an education.
In some countries they are celebrating their right to be equal.
In BC, some women will be preparing to March for equality.

Tomorrow morning a large group of us will be marching for our rights and equality.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Carbon Tax does not reduce GHG nor does it Invest in Renewables.

I believe strongly in protecting the environmental.   I have been advocating using less petroleum for decades.  I have argued for better alternatives for Canada and other countries, working within various organizations    We have alternatives and we have better ways to reduce pollution of all types.  I commute on bikes more than cars and do everything I can to leave a smaller footprint in terms of energy used.

This week I have started looking at the 2012 BC Budget and the Carbon Tax and made a startling realization.  The Carbon Tax, as written, is:

1. Not reducing carbon or GHG emission (this is an eye opener for sure);
2. Not causing any investment into Renewable energy sources; and
3. Is merely a tax that "redistributes" wealth.  It is "revenue neutral" meaning it does not put money into government coffers.

In fact, the 2012 BC Budget actually budgeted more carbon to be spewed into the air hence more revenue.   Don't believe my interpretation however.  Read the 2012 budget at  Here is an excerpt:

Carbon tax – as announced in Budget 2008, the carbon tax rate per tonne of CO2 - equivalent will increase by $5 each year to $30 per tonne by July 1, 2012. The forecast  assumes that purchased volumes of natural gas will grow by 2.0 per cent annually,  while consumption of gasoline is expected to remain constant. Revenue is expected  to increase in line with these higher rates and assumed volume growth.

I went to read the rest of the Carbon tax propaganda and found the projections for 2012-2015 (use this link and look at page 68).

So are other political parties telling us that the carbon tax is working when it is not?  Or are the 2012-2015 BC Budgets based on flawed assumptions?   Either one of these statements could be true but they cannot logically both be true.  It appears the worst case scenario has happened and neither one is true.

Most of the claims that it works come from three studies, of which I will contend may be flawed.   The costs of which will inevitably be passed off to you and I, the consumers of anything that is affected by the rise in the price of petroleum.  Additionally, this carbon tax will put BC businesses at a disadvantage in a global economy yet will not stop the emissions of carbon.  I am not the only one to notice this.  People are waking up all over.

While the government is claiming that we have let less GHG's into the air than other provinces between 2008-2010, even accounting for some of the general economic recession, they never factored in the completion of the Canada Line of Skytrain that carries really 40,000,000 riders per year (source: Translink)  and the ceasing of cement production when our Olympic Infrastructure was completed.

Some Facts:

The claim is that between 2008-2010 the GHG gas emissions fell by 4.5% in BC.

The facts do not support this.  Greenhouse gases are measured by volume and are correlated to various GHG emitting products manufacture or consumption.  The algorithm used is linear.  While it is possible that the manufacture of concrete and use of fossil fuels actually did fall by 4.5% in that period, the general economy sank by 2.3% in 2009 alone, construction went from a 6.4% growth in 2008 to a 5.3% reduction in 2009 alone and retail sales fell by almost 5%.  This chart is from Statistics Canada data.

Again - go and look at the source -

It might be time to start over.  BC is part of a global economy and a global environment.  We have a commitment to everyone on this planet to help reign in pollution.  Using less energy in our daily lives can have an impact and we need proactive programmes that actually develop renewable energy policies.

I have been lucky enough to work with the US Department of Energy and visionaries like Saul Griffith.  If you want to get some facts, watch Saul's talks on Climate Change Revisited.

Saul Griffith: Climate Change Recalculated from The Long Now Foundation on

Saul is bright and has done a lot to change the world for the better.  One thing we discussed at great length was where change is most effective.  The problem is that change is often not most effective at the National level.  The Provincial level, for large infrastructure projects, is where change may be best directed.  Some examples of this are Sky Train and Hydro-electric power projects.   The myth that solar energy can save BC is just that.  Doing the net calculations on manufacturing the solar panels will often show a less than favorably return, certainly short of our needs.  We are blessed with an abundance of cheap, renewable energy sources and a smart and innovative population.  Wind, Hydro, Geothermal and Solar used in combination can be very effective but reducing GHG's requires a reduction in the use of hydrocarbons period.  Replacing cheap and plentiful Hydro-electric power with solar power may actually cause more pollution given it is the energy produced is replacing green energy and not targeting hydrocarbons.

We have the ability to also develop Geothermal energy.  While serving on the US DOE's National Geothermal Data System as a technical monitor, I noticed that the heat flow potential for Geothermal energy seems to increase as it goes northward into BC.

What can you do?

We can do this.  If done correctly, based on the input of organizations like the BC Sustainable Energy Association (BC SEA), we can create ways to develop renewable energy source, green cement and build green industries.

Join the BC SEA

Vote BC Conservative Party on May 14, 2013.  We will try to repeal the Carbon tax and replace it with public policy that actually reduces carbon and/or creates renewable energy sources.

Join the BC Conservative Party (Note: we are not the Canadian Progressive Conservative party) -

Do not believe the parties that tell you the Carbon Tax is working as it is.  It is clearly not.

Be a scientist!  Ask questions and educate yourself.

We have alternatives.  No more faux taxes.  Let's take real action.

Help us fix this.  Join our cause and donate.  Be part of a solution.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Why Spending Smarter Matters

Today the BC Conservative Party launched a news release entitled Spending Smarter.  The news release lightly describes three fundamental initiatives that will give provincial legislators, and hence the people of BC, the tools they need to rigorously examine government spending both before and after public monies are spent.

Here is the text from the news release.

1. The BC Conservatives will reverse the trend of reducing the number of ‘votes’ in the Budget Estimates each Spring, and re-institute a thorough analysis of financial outlays before they are made. In recent decades, the number of Estimates votes has fallen from around 250, to as low as 58. The Ministry of Health – which this year will spend $16.5 billion – has dropped from 16 votes to just one. The number of Estimates votes in each annual Budget will be significantly increased under the BC Conservatives, thereby increasing scrutiny.

 2. A new Legislative Budget Office will be established. The office will provide MLAs with independent analyses of complex financial and economic data, thereby giving them greater means to scrutinize public expenditures.

3. The BC Conservatives will fundamentally revamp the Fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly. Focus will shift from passing or amending legislation, to reviewing and overseeing the expenditure of public monies by the government, Crown corporations and the SUCH sector – schools, universities, colleges and hospitals.


Why is this important?

The Spending Smarter initiative is intended to eliminate the persistent deficits that have plagued Victoria in recent decades, and begin the long, slow process of reversing the growth of B.C.’s debt.  At the same time, I personally believe that it gives more parties the necessary input and holds government accountable for their actions.

I am not by nature a mud-slinger but the current status quo needs to be challenged.  This is our money, not theirs, and you and I have a right (not a privilege but a fundamental right) to have our duly elected officials scrutinize and oversee the BC Budget.  The more input we have, the better.

Revamping the fall sitting to provide greater fiduciary insight into the budget is also a direction I favour.      While the details around the Legislative Budget Office are vague

Final thoughts?

Remember, Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA's), by definition, must represent the people.  May 14, 2013 is a General Election in BC.  The government spends our money.  If you are unhappy with the way our province has been governed and want to change it, or want more of the same, this is your time to vote.  Register to vote at