Monday, May 23, 2005

BC's stronger NDP opposition - what can it do?

Now that the election is over (two results still to be finalised) how will the increased representation for the NDP opposition make a difference. Here's a useful and realistic perspective:
The Truth about a 'Strong Opposition'
by Rafe Mair

Forgive me if I go over a bit of old ground but it really is time we all understand what really happens in the Legislature and, more importantly, what does not. In interviewing two of the “star” Liberal candidates, Wally Oppal and Carole Taylor, I heard what I can only describe as breathtaking naiveté. They were going to raise the level of debate and bring fresh ideas to the House. They will do no such thing, of course.

Read on

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A perspective on BC from Seattle

We're different enough to learn a lot from each other.

In The Northwest: Canada, U.S. can learn from other's press freedom


VICTORIA, B.C. -- Just as the majesty of 10,778-foot Mount Baker is best appreciated looking across the water from a B.C. ferry, a stay in Canada gives just enough distance for perspective on freedoms shared across the 49th parallel.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Democracy, Coalitions and the STV

On the eve of the BC election, a federal thought for the day:

"The Liberals and NDP polled a majority of votes last election: 52.4 per cent, versus just 42 per cent for Conservatives and the Bloc."

I think there'd be more coalitions like that if we had a form of proportional representation. Keep that in mind as you decide where to put your X for the STV.

The quote came from a Globe & Mail article by Rick Salutin which, if you're even fairly politically-interested, is worth reading.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Corky Evans - Keeping forests in community hands

My quote-thought for the day:
The bottom line is, land in the hands of a person rooted on the land, or a community, or even a company, is a thousand times better than land in the hands of footloose capital.

In the West Kootenays, we're very different than the rest of B.C. We have, in the main, avoided the consolidation disease that has destroyed the market for wood and the affinity for the land that has occurred in almost every other Timber Supply Area in the province. In the '90s, we created more and different forms of tenure here than just about anybody else. Actually, I would like to see the forest industry operate like the dairy industry, where it is against the rules for a person who milks cows to also be the person who processes the milk. The vertical integration and monopoly systems -- that have destroyed so much of the creativity and enterprise in the forest industry -- is simply not allowed in B.C.'s agriculture sector.

- from an Interview with Corky Evans in The Tyee

Thursday, May 12, 2005

TV shows prepare us for the coming fire season

For much of BC, Summer has become "the fire season". Two of our TV networks have been thinkng ahead and come up with programmes that look to be useful briefings for the coming summer. If, having seen one or other of them, you have any comments, drop by here and tell us.

1. Firesmart British Columbia - The Knowledge Network

Airing three times:

  1. Thursday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m.;
  2. Friday, May 20 at 12:30 pm;
  3. Friday, July 1 at 12:30 pm.

"The provincial government, a variety of experts, and BC communities work together to plan protection against the dangerous wildfires that sweep into communities and subdivisions."

2. Fighting Fire with Fire - CBC: The Nature of Things
Thursday May 26 7:00 pm
Monster forest fires, big enough to be seen from space and hot enough to create their own weather, used to be a once-in-a-decade nightmare. But now, they’re an everyday summer reality across vast stretches of North America. Authorities in Canada and the United States are bracing for the 2005 fire season. They fear this will be the year of the inferno.."

Stories and pictures of last year's Chilcotin fires.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The STV - Single Transferable Vote

The arguments around this proposal sometimes seem more focussed on whether it's easily understandable or not rather than its merits (intelligibility, of course, being just one of them). Most of the world's developed democracies are using some form of proportional representation and it appears that STV is quite intelligible to those who've used something like it. From this Australian perspective, it all seems quite simple, even admirable. Perhaps it's time to listen to voices of experience rather than scaremongering.
In the end an overwhelming majority agreed that the electoral system should change, that the change should be to what they call BC-STV (basically Hare-Clark but with electorates of varying populations and numbers of MPs) and a referendum giving final choice to the voters. The whole process restores one’s faith in the wisdom of the population. In discussing their conclusions the assembly members get to the heart of what democracy should be about, and they weighed up which system will best provide this. What's more, they communicated their decision in clear and moving prose of the kind that is now an endangered species in Australian political discourse. It’s easy to get depressed about the state of politics in Australia and around the world, but the Citizens’ Assembly indicates a way out. Don’t leave it to a bunch of self-interested megalomaniacs. Don’t go for citizen’s initiated referenda – which only work if the population pays attention and sees through the expensive campaigns of special interest groups. Instead, take a random sample of ordinary people and give them access to everyone’s views, and the time for proper consideration.
Full article

Comments welcome.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Join me, inside BC

For those who don't know, the BC interior is sometimes described as "beyond Hope", Hope being the town you pass through as you drive out of the region around Vancouver, known as the Lower Mainland.

With the 2010 Winter Olympics not that far away, the world will be hearing a lot about the city of Vancouver and the resort of Whistler. The provincial capital of Victoria and Vancouver Island will likely share some of that limelight. I thought that "The Interior" - loosely-speaking, the part of the province away from the coast - could use a little help.

This blog is designed to do that and also serve as a companion to the portal site Inside British Columbia. I welcome comments, suggestions and especially stories and information from your experience inside British Columbia.