Budget Kabuki, or is it No?

K

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we can all breathe a sight of relief! Joe Oliver presents us with this plan to garner a fourth mandate, no, wait, it’s a fiscally responsible record of taking Canada to new heights of job security, low inflation, plentiful energy, insulation from the woes of the world, lower taxes and greater benefits, a chicken in every pot, two cars in every garage…

Never mind the financial gyrations undergone in aid of making this sow’s ear look like a silk purse, another load of sops to the wealthy, also eaten up by the wannabe wealthy, wherein it would be a kick to see all the fudginess and outright prevarications in this document highlighted in, say, fluorescent purple to make it look even sexier.

 

Never mind that, if the campaign hadn’t started already, this document and its much-hyped and long-delayed release surely sounds the shotgun that would have set candidates scurrying for their prospective ridings to climb up for real on their hustings, but no, there are still a few pennies in the coffers for the current administration to scrape together for another buy of ads for ConCampaign, er, information of government programs.

 

Never mind that the prospects for a coalition seem as remote as ever, and that there has, in fact, been a coalition, but mostly of Trudeau siding with the Cons, not surprising given the track record of previous Liberal administrations in being squarely in the camp of crony capitalists, and besides, JT is not the leader of HM Official Opposition, so why should he oppose?

 

Never mind that there could very well be Voter Suppression, Version 2 (or is it 3, or 4, or…) going on at this very moment, in addition to which the offerings are so uninspiring as to promote the apathy that constitutes the number one vote suppressor.

 

The really sad part is that many people actually believe the claptrap the Oliver and Co. have cobbled together in the guise of a budget..

The Road to Oblivion

“One of the world’s greatest problems is the impossibilty of any person searching for the truth on any subject when they believe they already have it.” 
 
Dave Wilbur
James Lunney: Christianity under siege

James Lunney, National Post
Monday, Apr. 13, 2015

The past year has seen unprecedented attempts to diminish, discredit and suppress a Christian world-view in law, medicine and academia. That was the message from Christian leaders a few weeks ago in Ottawa. At the same time three politicians, all Christians, were publicly condemned as ignorant and unscientific for daring to disagree with an intolerant fundamentalist religion. Questioning theory vs. fact is the unpardonable sin for adherents of evolutionism.

Bigotry and intolerance are the trademark of militant atheism and its adherents’ campaign against God. Conrad Black exposed as much in his eloquently written and defended articles recently. As a multi-racial, multicultural, multi-faith society, Canada has been known to a world in conflict as a standard for respect for diversity and inclusion. However, a religious defence of science seems to be the vehicle for the most vitriolic, pejorative, vulgar campaigns of intolerance and ad hominem attacks in Canada today.

These public shaming assaults are not in keeping with the nature of scientific inquiry or the character of an otherwise extraordinarily tolerant nation. They are the hallmark of scientism and evolutionism bearing all the hallmarks of religion, but unrestrained by any modicum of respect for anyone who contradicts the tenets of the faith. In this regard militant atheism is more akin to militant Islam than any of Canada’s multi-faith communities.

Evolutionism is losing its grip as biological sciences have outstripped any rational defence of the origins of life or the complexities of the simplest cell ever coming into being by random undirected events or natural processes. Darwin was a brilliant naturalist; his keen observations have inspired great advance in our understanding of how living things are related. However the world of the cell was beyond anything Darwin could have imagined.

The notion that belief in God is incompatible with pursuit of science is a falsehood clung to by a dwindling cadre of atheists in the science community today. It began with Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, a brilliant scientist in his own right; and the father of eugenics. While Gregor Mendel, was laying the foundation for modern genetics, Galton was promoting the concept that belief in God was an impediment to the advance of science.

The concept of Non-Overlapping Magesteria is a sanitized repackaging of Galton’s legacy adopted by the American Academy of Sciences. While atheists have made great contributions to science, the identification of the DNA molecule by Watson and Crick does not diminish the contribution of Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian who led the effort to decode the three billion base pair sequence of human DNA. Collins wrote in The Language of God: “DNA is the most efficient information storage system known to man!”

Science is agnostic. There is room for people of all faiths or no faith to contribute to science; indeed that is the historic record.

It was the NDP who shut down my attempt to put this on the record in the House of Commons. Ian Capstick, former NDP strategist and communications director, stated on national TV that he had to “take me down.” He describes himself as a militant atheist. Rick Nicholls was savaged in the Ontario legislature, while Gordon Dirks was targeted in Alberta, but not because either is a threat to science. Rather, they failed to affirm evolutionism, the religion of the militant atheist.

Capstick boldly states he is going after the charitable tax-exempt status of the church. Does he speak for Tom Mulcair? Who is funding the campaign to disparage a Christian worldview and pressure the Canada Revenue Agency to strip churches of their charitable status? Is it the big banks and corporations that wrote to law societies trying to shut down the TWU law school?

Who are the 22 members of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons who unilaterally moved to strike down doctors’ long-standing Charter rights to refuse to provide services that would violate their conscience? Dr. Chris Simpson, president of the CMA, says eliminating conscience provisions is not acceptable; but Ontario doctors, like Trinity Western University, are now compelled to launch costly Charter challenges to defend their rights.

Evolutionism is based on a false construct from another century; it is as repugnant as any other form of bigotry. If this campaign for a godless Canada were successful, the Canada that would emerge is one that few Canadians would recognize and most would not want to live in. The “shabby, shallow world of the militant atheist”; it couldn’t be better stated.

National Post

James Lunney is independent member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni.

Martyrdom has always been a proof of the intensity, never of the correctness of a belief.
—Arthur Schnitzler

 

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
—Hubert Humphrey

 

The following was published in the local paper as an editorial piece. David Black, the owner of Black Press, hence, the owner of the paper, is a proponent of pipelines to the Coast from the Athabaska Tar Sands and the installation of refineries on the Coast itself.

 

 

No carbon footprint, no life

Green lobby wants to shut down industry

- See more at: http://www.avtimes.net/no-carbon-footprint-no-life-1.1819631#sthash.bQgfMT00.dpuf

Diana West in The Death of the Grown Up challenges us to look accurately at the world around us and stop our delusional thinking.

She focuses on a number of interesting things including: a loss of parenting, nonjudgmental multiculturalism, and politically correct self-censorship as well as today’s victim, hero reversal.

But I want to talk about the biggest delusion of our day – the delusional idea that going green will benefit our lives.

Sure there are many sincere individuals who want to keep things clean, to be less wasteful and who wish to ensure that future generations can live a good life.

People with these beliefs are not a problem, they’ve only been mislead. This I call small green thinking. The earth doesn’t care if you pick something up and put it down in a different place.

No, it’s the strident activist, the BIG Green folk who are a problem.

These are the people that think there are too many people on the earth, that our factory system is environmentally destructive, that our energy use is killing the planet. In other words, that all our development is bad and needs to be stopped. I call them the Luddites of our era.

Truly, in a scant 300 years our lives are now 20 times richer than our ancestors. Mostly because some very bright individuals learned how to tame the energy embedded in fossil fuel. Because they shared their discoveries and inventions with their fellow man, the world changed – for the better.

We live in a man-made world.

Roofs keep us dry. Walls and windows and central heating keep us warm. Roads and cars and airplanes cause us to forget how our ancestors travelled. Our modern medicine system means we will die after 80 years of life rather than 30 as those ancestors did.

Today in the developed world, virtually everyone lives a better life than even the aristocracy of the past. As Milton Friedman said, “The ancient Greeks needed no running water; they had running slaves. Measured in human energy output, our energy use equates to some 90 people working for us. That is because we feed fuel into machines.

Today we have the equivalent of some 90 people working for us because we feed fuel into machines.

Everything that enriches our lives, and that we can afford, comes to us cheaply through the doors of a factory. The doors BIG Green wants to slam shut.

The destruction of enterprise begins if we fail to add ‘free.’

We would not expect good results if we put ignorant people in charge of brain surgery or rocket science….mechanics or construction, yet we have given the ‘right to impede’ to those who lack the ability to do or the desire to think about what they oppose.

BIG Green has lost its way.

These folks want to end the industrial world. They don’t look at the world from a human health consideration. Their view is distorted by what my friend Alex Epstein calls the ‘perfect planet premise,’ that a world untouched by man is paradise.

Well in truth, without man’s intervention, called ‘natural,’ life is more accurately described by Thomas Hobbes: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

And it’s happening today.

Development is being opposed at every level in the name of saving the planet…from man rather than for man.

For proof we have the ranting of the BIG Green leaders. An interesting book, Merchants of Despair, by Robert Zubrin, provides a wealth of documentation. It’s your life…don’t let them steal it.

No carbon footprint means no life. Exploit the earth or die.

 

 

I suspect that Dr. Lunney and Mr. Seinen have both lived lives of reasonable ease and speak their truths for fear that anyone might impinge on their right to profit from the misery of others. Each is entitled, as are we all, to his own views, but it strikes me that neither should be allowed to intrude into the area of public policy. I would amend Mr. Seinen’s final statement to the following:

 

Exploit and die.

 

 

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”
— John Kenneth Galbraith

Cut You Loose

F&S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book, once it is printed and published, becomes individual. It is by its publication as decisively severed from its author as in parturition a child is cut off from its parent. The book “means” thereafter, perforce, — both grammatically and actually, — whatever meaning this or that reader gets out of it.

 

-James Branch Cabell, novelist, essayist, critic (14 Apr 1879-1958)

 

So works of art (books) are severed from the author, right, I understand that part, and that they become very much an “eye of the beholder” type of a phenomenon, but I;m not altogether convinced that the same applies to a child and its parents. While I’ve watched generations of children and young adults move toward a spiritual and intellectual, as well as economic “parturition”, I’ve been keenly aware of the continued influence of parents, partly through what seem like genetically determined behaviours (parent-teacher conferences often make this abundantly clear), but there are also clear influences governed more by social interactions in the family and, eventually in the circle of friends, a marriage, a working group and society in general. Interesting thought. A part of the book taking on a life of its own has often come up in literature classes where the instructor has the magic “right” interpretation and generally deems all else to be specious, thereby losing much respect and credibility among the offending and offended students: this is a realm where anyone can posit anything without the slightest need for documentation or justification. It could get lively in here…

From Facebook, a take on kids being kids, apparently from Tommy Chong:

Chong on kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… and a musical coda:

 

An Outlook That Seemed Lost

Increvable

 

Not a terribly exciting or engaging image, I have to admit, lifted, though, from this post on Libération yesterday morning in the course of the daily read-around. I’ve been engaged in the process of writing an Energy Descent Action Plan for out local Transitions initiative, a process that seems to drag on and in which few seem keen to participate, but one of the recurring themes is that we use too much of just about everything, and much of our usage is wasteful, literally, as we purchase and use goods that are built to fall apart or become obsolete and require replacement. I suspect that many of us have had the experience of having to replace a relatively recent major appliance because of the failure of an electronic module or because there are already no replacement parts available. Almost equally pernicious is the situation where an item can be repaired, but where the cost of doing so makes for little economic advantage over simply throwing it out and buying a new one. Hence the “excitement” over the above image, as it represents a washing machine labelled by its designer as  “L’Increvable” , which is more or less meant to convey the idea of bullet-proof. His idea is that the machine should last a lifetime, that it should be user-serviceable (given a certain level of tool savvy), and that all parts be easily replaced and repairable. This way of doing things is a fair approximation of the opposite of the way most  design and manufacturing is done, our current mode being predicated on an unlimited stream of materials and energy and a sucker population willing to accumulate large amounts of valuable material in landfills. Clearly, our current mode is suicidal as we move toward a world population of eight billion and as more and more of the world’s inhabitants are less and less willing to accept the deprivations of poverty to supply the consumer society in other parts of the world.

There rests the question of developing a species-wide awareness and ethos that will allow for a decent life for all. Can we dial back on our consumption so that others might have the wherewithal to live a life without want? Current indicators don’t hold out a lot of hope, particularly when the people in charge of the zoo seem set on a path of division and a desire to sequester as much of the available store of resources as possible for the use of a chosen few. It’s difficult to imagine the mass of humanity developing the mutual aid outlook as long as that mass is scrambling just to survive and facing interference and opposition form the people they should be helping and who should be returning the favour.

One of the best ways to reign in our over-consumption is to build durable, repairable and recyclable goods, and to encourage others to do the same. The insane chase after levels of material wealth that we’ve been sold is best illustrated in the tech sector where whatever gadget you buy is out of date about the time you finish the transaction to remove it from the store. New software requires the purchase of new hardware, and hardware seems to generate the need for software upgrades as tech companies bootstrap the upgrade ladder to waste and obsolescence. The same phenomenon appears in most phases of our existence, where single-serve coffee makers replace other methods of brewing that are perfectly adequate, but just aren’t the latest fad. This, of course, follows on the notion that we should have uninterrupted access to the beverage of our choice at all hours of the day and night, and we’re trained from an early age to expect this pampering because we deserve to have only the best. We just don’t stop to ask ourselves what that “best” is as we abandon civic duty and critical analysis in favour of accumulation.

Those of us who live in the lap of some version of North American luxury can celebrate the creation of a truly durable washing machine, but that celebration is also about having clothes to wash, an abode to house the machine, the clothes, and us, and clean water to do the washing, along with a host of other pre-conditions that don’t hold in many places in the world. Recently, my brother told me he had to replace the speed control on his stand mixer, and that he had to rig up a rheostat arrangement because there didn’t seem to be any parts of this particular machine. I had been through a similar vexation with a dishwasher three or four years ago, though that’s where the similarity ends. The dishwasher was less than three years old and no parts could fix it. It has become a dish drying rack for dishes we wash by hand and we seem to be none the worse for it. The stand mixer was purchased in 1950, and, with the installation of the rheostat, is now fully functional. Perhaps l’Increvable is a sign of a return to an outlook that will allow us a little breathing room in our quest to balance our lives in a way that will see future generations stretching our for centuries. Without that rebalancing, the prospects for life beyond a generation or two seem pretty discouraging. Too bad for us.

 Living as if there were no tomorrow, we are converting a carefree metaphor into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

                               —John Whiting

One who knows “enough is enough” always has enough.

—Tao Te Ching

A Certain Aura

https://thenonconformer.wordpress.com/

https://thenonconformer.wordpress.com/

Campbell Clark has an article in this morning’s Globe and Mail with the title Harper’s Economic Halo Is Hard To Dim. Mr. Clark likely hasn’t talked to the thousands being laid off from the Oil Patch who might still be gainfully employed if we were engaged in the clean energy transition that other countries are undertaking. He likely hasn’t talked to the multitudes stuck in dead-end low wage employment or to those who can’t afford to live in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto or a myriad of other places where housing is out of just about everyone’s realistic financial grasp, or the TFWs that have been brought in to ensure that the wages will stay low. I doubt that many of those Canadians mired in gobs of oozing debt will see that halo encircling the holy pate of the Prime Minister. Even Stephen, the man himself, seems to be campaigning on other than his much lauded (can you hear the snickers from the peanut gallery?) economic acumen. The Globe outdoes itself in Kowtowing to the Conservative Côterie. And, in passing, is it just me, or does the juxtaposition of the author’s two names say something ominous to those of us in BC?

Les enfoirés, ou la charité d’une autre perspective

Hard at work for others

Hard at work for others

 

Les Enfoirés débarquent ce soir sur TF1. Ils sont le symbole de notre époque où la lutte contre la misère s’est transformée en charité organisée et en compassion planifiée. Les artistes, les communicants et les marques, aidés dans leur tâche par des médias peu cohérents, aiment aujourd’hui à afficher leur engagement humanitaire. Mais il s’agit de verser une petite larme et de passer rapidement à autre chose…

Interesting little piece over at Marrianne.net letting us know, in a somewhat circuitous fashion, that the telethon will be on one of the main networks in France tonight, but there is a good deal of chiding inherent in the message. First, the se of the word “enfoiré”, meaning, more or less, bothersome idiot, a term brought into current usage by Coluche, a comedian who stuck pins in a lot of society’s balloons and who founded les Restos du Coeur, a chain of eating establishments dedicated to feeding the poor and dispossessed at the height of the ’80’s recession. It was meant to be a stopgap measure, especially with the election of the Socialist Mitterand government, but the institution, and the problem endures today, and in a grossly exaggerated form (if this sounds familiar, it is because it is a phenomenon that exists in one form or another all over he world, and what happens in France is a reasonable mirror of how we attempt to deal with it here). Mitterrand, it seems, liked the name and the party, but really didn’t act as a socialist, as seems to be the case with the latest Socialist In Name Only, François Hollande. OK, here is a rough translation of the paragraph from Marianne:

The Idiots land tonight on TF!. They are symbolic of our times where the struggle against poverty has morphed into organized charity and planned compassion. The artists, spokespeople, and brands, helped along by the rather incoherent media, like to show off their humanitarian solidarity on this one day. But it’s really that we’re called on to shed a little tear and to move quickly on to other matters…

 

Everywhere people are called on to open their hearts and wallets to help feed, house and clothe those who seem not to be included in the golden dream that is our society. I can’t say that we actually designate certain people to be at the bottom of the economic and social heap, but by default, when some are allowed to corral an inordinate share of society’s riches, someone at the other end has to take less. As inequities have grown over the last forty or fifty years, there has been a multiplier effect where, for every Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Carlos Slim, there are thousands whose livelihood is diminished, and, while these people may sell themselves as leaders and job creators, the vast majority of their wealth has been generated by people other than themselves, and their claims of increasing the size of the economic pie often ring hollow as the pie they expand is entirely based on monetary fictions, easily erased by economic contractions. In effect, we have seen no diminution of poverty or precarity, though often the stats can be manipulated to show whatever the current régime wants to put in front of the electorate (e.g., unemployment stats based on the number of job seekers registered with the authorities, rather than the actual number of people without meaningful work).

Here is a quip from Teddy Roosevelt, born to privilege, but able, at least, to articulate what it might take to reduce poverty, want, and precarity in a society that truly functioned as a society:

“The fundamental thing to do for every man is to give him a chance to reach a place in which he will make the greatest possible contribution to the public welfare…No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living, and hours of labor short enough so that after his day’s work is done he will have time and energy to bear his share in the management of the community, to help in carrying the general load. We keep countless men from being good citizens by the conditions of life with which we surround them.” – Theodore Roosevelt

 

While you’re at it, go have a look at John Ralston Saul’s The Comeback, a reasonably detailed litany of the transgressions of the Crown (us) in Canada against First Nations and what it means for the sorry state of our government and societal institutions.

 

Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind

Monsanto's Time Is Nye?

Monsanto’s Time Is Nye?

 

Bill Nye may be the Science Guy, but we have to wonder about the science of GMO when he appears to have reversed field following a visit to Monsanto, as outlined in an article on EcoWatch. He hasn’t published, that I know of, the changes he intends to make in his writings on the subject, but a lot of what he had previously written was pretty damning, as has been much of the literature written by those not sponsored by the gene-splicers. I have to admit to having and not-totally-open mind on the subject and I suspect it will take some serious convincing to get me to accept that what Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta and the like have done is in the general interest of the public, that it contributes to the greater good without doing irreparable damage. First consideration has to be the stubbornness with which these folks cloak their doings in secret and gain legal approval through the purchase of political levers rather than convincing the public that they are acting in the interest of anything other than profit and, as it seems likely, the ability to choke and control much of the food supply. Their unwillingness to abide even labelling of their product speaks to a group that has something to hide. Second consideration is that, other than being able to drench landscapes in pesticides/herbicides, I don’t think that a convincing argument has been made for the necessity, or even utility of these genetic modifications. I’ve seen little evidence that more food is produced using large-scale agricultural methods with major inputs of chemical soil amendments and pest controls. Monsanto, in particular, seems to have done a woeful job of keeping their organisms under control in nature and may be doing a tremendous amount of harm through simple lack of oversight. I wonder how frank Bill Nye will be about his change of heart, and how much of a change of heart will he have had? Could be another icon of rectitude down the rectitube, so eyes and ears open seems to be the watchword.

 

One Way Or Another

 

Undoing What Was Done

Undoing What Was Done

A report in Libération this morning decries the sack of the ruins of the archeological site at Nimrod, using heavy construction equipment to destroy the heritage of earlier societies that they consider blasphemous, having already addressed, apparently, a wealth of societal treasure in the museum at Mosul. My father actually worked on digs around Mosul in the mid-Thirties, and somewhere in the family treasure, there exists a small trove of 8-mm. film of locals moving dirt in their burnooses, no bulldozers being available. I recently discovered some prints of RAF photos of the dig site, part of the stuff of Hank’s personal legend.

The reflection runs thusly: is it worse to desecrate to artifacts of the past than it is to ensure that all but selective material gets buried in collective ignorance and forgetfulness? I can’t think of a single constructive or positive comment to make about the beheaders, the desecrators and those who would establish a religious or doctrinary hegemony of any sort, and that includes those in our own society whose walled-in take on life looks to take us back to some new version of feudalism. The horror of ISIS should lead us to look at our own foibles and missteps a little more closely, particularly that seemingly insurmountable impulse to bomb anything that moves, each time sowing more dragon’s teeth with each bomb that falls. I wonder when we will realize that we’re still getting the same results with our repeated actions that clearly don’t work for the majority of us (or them) and down tools for a reassessment of links between our actions and what people do in response.

I don’t know if that will help bring those Assyrians up to speed with current Islamic thought, but it might to some distance toward setting our own society free from the constraints imposed by the greedy canyon-minds.

(…one way or another, this darkness got to give.)

If You Want To Do Business…

Corporate Citizens

Corporate Citizens

 

A report from Bloomberg details how various corporations have stashed 2.1 trillion in profits in low-tax jurisdictions, including including another $69 billion in the last year. So the business plan is to mine, manufacture and market through the jurisdictions where labour is cheapest, ship and sell where product will generate the most profits, then export the profits to the jurisdictions where the tax burden will be the least onerous. It’s just business, after all.

How about we have a new system that states that the jurisdiction where you sell the goods dictates what you pay for labour, for materials, for shipping, for marketing and taxes. If the firm doesn’t want to, or can’t, then they can’t sell into high-priced markets.

And while we’re at it, the firms represented by the above three logos are a big part of generating mounds of electronic garbage through planned obsolescence and count on the largesse of society as a whole to clean up the mess made by the throwaway gadgets as well as the mountain of plastic packaging that accompanies the electronics themselves. The real price to society in clean-up costs ought to be added to the dodged tax revenue and the societal costs of poor working conditions of people employed to manufacture the items they often can’t afford to buy. Many of us might make different purchasing decisions if we had to pay the true price of many of the items we buy.

All this comes on top of recent revelations that HSBC has been actively helping monied clients to hide money from taxing authorities to the tune of a couple of hundred billions of dollars. Perhaps these people so averse to working as part of a larger society should be ostracized, excluded entirely from all the business of society, along with their friends at HSBC (and any other institution engaging in like practices), or just locked up and fined the same way that has been happening to Black people in Ferguson, Missouri, as a matter of “the way we do business”.

 

(Short Business from Jeff Beck’s Rough and Ready)

People, Get Ready

Sao Paulo riots

The Disaffected Liberal   (I like the Mound of Sound moniker) has a post up about riots is Sao Paolo, Brazil, where, apparently, most of the city has no access to water. The country is in the midst of a nasty drought and the utility seems incapable of furnishing water for most basic tasks, leading to a government suggestion that people leave. A comment on the post suggests that the well-to-do neighbourhoods are doing just fine, thank you, which, if true, highlights a nasty aspect of how inequality will effect varying populations as we face increasing levels of privation and hardship. There isn’t much value in the hand-wringing and finger pointing over how we could have prevented much of this by limiting population growth and ecological impact: we’ve clearly set in motion a path of damage and destruction and what we’ve already accomplished seems to have fairly dire consequences, consequences that will only deepen with a failure to deal with them expeditiously.

While there is little that we can do about Brazil in the short term, it also seems fairly clear that all parts of our living space are connected with all the other parts, so that if we limit damage to the forests and rivers here, that effect will ripple out into the greater sphere of the planet, and, if enough people do the same, there is a good chance that the outcomes might be better than if we continue on our present course.

The Sao Paolo situation is an exaggerated version of what we might be facing soon enough right here at home. A drive up and down Vancouver Island shows little snow on any of the peaks that form the backbone of the Island, and anyone who knows anything will intuit that no snowpack equates to diminished water resources during those long dry periods of summer and fall. Even last year, there were problems on several Vancouver Island rivers with trying to get returning salmon to their spawning beds. The other side of this is that we have seen at least one major turbidity event possibly linked to poor watershed management, a boil-water order in the Comox Valley that lasted over a month. There seemed to be a lack of willingness to establish a link between decreased forest cover and turbidity with the blame being placed on what was characterized as an extraordinary rain event at the beginning of December. The caution would be to look back to November of 2009 when the area god something like half a meter of rain and during which there were no turbidity events: just a thought.

 

With the gracious permission of Mr. Raeside

With the gracious permission of Mr. Raeside

Locally, the logging on private forest lands in the local watershed has had downstream effects in both literal and figurative ways. The Health Authority has imposed a (not-so=) new set of guidelines for turbidity in drinking water supplies that means that boil water orders tend to be much more frequent. Much of the turbidity was once prevented by natural filtration through the forest before the water arrived at the reservoirs, and some jurisdictions, including new York City, have reacted to the possibility of tainted water by protecting watersheds in a meaningful way and by relying on nature’s processes to keep turbidity out of the system, meaning that current treatment schemes were adequate for the protection of drinking water resources.  This has not been done in a couple of local jurisdictions, largely because of conflicts with owners of private forest licences where private property rights trump public needs, and already, Beaver Creek has needed, through the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District, to build a hook up to the Port Alberni municipal water system to back fill in times of Stamp River turbidity. Lately, the Port Alberni municipal water system has itself had to begin construction on a water filtration system, at a cost of several million dollars, because its watershed no longer yields water of sufficient quality to meet 4-3-2-1 standards imposed by Vancouver Island Health.

Arguably, we have been living in a bit of a fool’s paradise in which water has always been plentiful and generally of excellent quality, such that winter’s plentiful resources have bridged summer gaps with some conservation measures, but without the need for significant upgrades to infrastructure. Circumstances would seem to be piling up in such a way as to ensure that such significant upgrades will be an inevitable necessity, and we seem ill-equipped to meet these challenges. It took forever to settle on what is mostly a stopgap solution to the Beaver Creek water problems, largely because of a huckster carpetbagging privatization scheme that was proposed by the Improvement District, and which highlighted the roadblocks to long-term planning and renewal of infrastructure. The privateers have access to a huge pool of capital unavailable to public entities, especially where senior governments refuse to backstop public projects and where the idea of public money, enterprise and ownership is anathema. There is a big question as to whether all the locally responsible jurisdictions will be able to join together on the kind of infrastructure that will make for long-term sustainability and for a reasonable supply for all constituencies and jurisdictions.

Thrown into the mix is the question of amalgamation, raised in several municipal areas across the province, including here in Port Alberni, by the somewhat ephemeral Alberni First cabal put together by Mr. Deluca during the run-up to last November’s elections. Victoria area also had a number of municipalities where the question was raised in the form of non-binding referenda, one would think in aid of eliminating duplication of services and thereby reducing taxes. Locally, pitched battles would seem to be on the horizon for those wishing to achieve true amalgamation into a single municipality with the strongest objection coming from outlying districts where taxes (and services) are much more restricted and within which there is a perception that municipal government is rife with bloat and waste with a clique of fat cats gorging at the public trough. It makes for some head-scratching at how anything could be done in the long term and on a valley-wide basis. The Beaver Creek experience might be instructive, where we have chosen to surrender autonomy over the water system, and to work out a collaborative arrangement with the ACRD and the City. I haven’t heard howls of protest over encroachment by big government, nor do the water tolls and taxes seem to have risen in an inordinate fashion, indicating to me that there may be room to have to “amalgamation” discussion without necessarily having to be all the same. Is there room for ambiguity in district-municipal relationships? Are there fair ways to finance and build infrastructure that will serve all of us long-term and without breaking the bank? If circumstances in Brazil and the American Southwest are any indication, it’s long past time to at least begin talking.