Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Our best laid plans sometimes go astray but that’s not always a bad thing, Gerry Warner

Our best laid plans sometimes go astray but that’s not always a bad thing
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
Something funny happened to me on the way to Prague, Czech Republic. I got there all right and all I can say is what a beautiful city it is. The medieval architecture, cobblestone streets and soaring spires of its numerous churches will live in my memory forever.
But my plans to take an ESL teaching course and teach abroad fell through. The  karma wasn’t right for it and I can’t give you a better reason. But I can offer you some valuable advice.
Go to Prague someday. You won’t regret it.
Aside from producing some great hockey players, Prague is home of the “Velvet Revolution,” the “Velvet Divorce” and was at one time the centre of the Holy Roman Empire, a city drenched in history if there ever was one.

From a few scattered huts along the river Vitava, Prague emerged as a small city in the 10th Century to rise in prominence as the Huns and the Visigoths were busy sacking Rome. Called “The Times of Saints and Blood,” the Prague royal family was awash in blood with Queen Ludmila strangled by her daughter-in-law and her grandson Vaclav murdered by his brother, but later made a saint.
The mid-1300s were the Golden Age of Medieval Prague when the King and Emperor Charles IV made Prague the centre of the Holy Roman Empire and started the building of the many architectural wonders that tourists enjoy so much today like St. Vitus Cathedral overlooking the Old Town, Wenceslas Square, named for Good King Wenceslas, the patron Saint of the Czech Republic, and the Charles Bridge, sometimes called “the Bridge that Never Sleeps” and lined with dozens of gnarled statues from Prague’s rich, Czechoslovakian history.
By the mid 1500s, Prague was the capital of Bohemia, which was only one kingdom belonging to the mighty Holy Roman Empire along with Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia and numerous German states. The empire dissolved in 1806 and Prague became part of the powerful Hapsburg Empire until it broke up in the wake of World War I and Czechoslovakia became a country of its own in 1918.
But not for long.
By the late 1930s, Nazism was goose-stepping across Europe and Adolph Hitler’s Wehrmacht troops swallowed up Austria and Czechoslovakia and the Western allies, consumed with appeasing Hitler, didn’t say boo. The Munich Agreement (Peace in our Time) was the death knell for the briefly-lived Czech Republic and to this day many Czechs have felt a “Munich komplex” about their country’s history and its tragic betrayal by the allies, according to a wonderful historical guide I picked up at the Prague Info Centre near one of the many ornate bridges that span the Vitava. 
Czechoslovakia re-emerged as a country again after World War II, but quickly fell under the yoke of communism and became a stolid satellite of Moscow. In 1984, when I attended the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, I was told by several experienced Europe travellers not to visit Prague because it was depressing and the people were dour. I regret now that I heeded their advice.
Whatever the case, my advice now is to go if you want to enjoy one of Europe’s most historic and glittering cities chock-a-block with palaces, cathedrals, monuments, haute cuisine and little hole-in-the-wall restaurants where I had tasty goulash in a bread bowl that I’ll never forget. Not to mention the unique “astronomical clock” on the stone tower in Old Town Square which shows earthly time and time in the cosmos.
To be honest, the heavy hand of communism can be still felt to some degree in Prague in some of the boring Soviet era, Stalinist style buildings, but also in a positive sense in the very cheap and efficient transit system boasting both underground subway lines and above ground rail trams and buses. 
It’s not every country that can use the word “velvet” to describe the revolution that saw it break away from the Soviet Union and use the same word again to describe the amicable divorce between it and Slovakia.
By all means, consider a holiday to Prague. Good King Wenceslas would approve.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who can never get enough of historic Europe.

Monday, November 21, 2016

When all else fails, go to the Czech Republic, by Gerry Warner

When all else fails, go to the Czech Republic
Perceptions by Gerry warner
Well, you won’t have Warner to kick around anymore! At least for a while. Let me explain and please forgive me for channeling Richard Nixon.
By the time you read this, I’ll be 30,000 feet or so in the heavens on a KLM flight from Calgary to Amsterdam and then on to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Prague, Czech Republic.
In Prague, I’ll be taking a one-month intensive course in teaching English as a second language and if things work out according-to-Hoyle which they seldom do, I may be spending more time in the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia until the so-called “Velvet Divorce” of 1993 when Czechoslovakia became two separate countries; the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Actually, that’s no longer quite true because the Czech Republic is going through another name change that will see it become “Czechia,” a name I won’t try to pronounce but you’ll probably see on TV on the uniforms of the Czech hockey team when they play in the annual International World Jr. Hockey Tournament in Toronto in December.
No, I’m not fleeing North America in the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning victory in last week’s election.  But Czechia may be an interesting, if not safe, place to land in light of what the US may become under the sway of “Herr Donald.” Yes, that’s an allusion to Hitler which I truly hate to make because I was hoping against hope that Trump might surprise us again by continuing to act graciously as he did for a brief while when he spoke to Clinton and Obama in the aftermath of the election. Unfortunately, two events since Trump became “President Elect” have me thinking differently and fearfully.
First his appointment of Steve Bannon as his “Chief Strategist.” Bannon is the man Bloomberg Business Week calls “the most dangerous political operative in America” and one of the leaders of the “alt right,” a secretive, white nationalist, extremist group. Now as chief strategist, the former executive chairman of the ultra-conservative Briebart News, will never be more than a heartbeat away from Trump or the Oval Office. The mainstream media, which underestimated Trump throughout the campaign, calls Bannon a misogynist, an anti-Semite and a neo-Nazi and there is evidence to back up these toxic allegations. Commenting in The Guardian, Michael Keegan, president of the progressive pressure group People for the American Way, said: “By choosing Steve Bannon as chief strategist, Trump has made clear that he intends to carry the racism and anti-Semitism of his campaign straight into the White House.”
Then there was the sickening story Tuesday about the small-town West Virginia official that posted a message on Facebook about First Lady Michelle Obama saying, “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape (sic) in heels."  In response to this incendiary, racist posting, Clay, West Virginia Mayor Beverley Whaling replied, “just made my day Pam.”
I’m not making this up. Pamela Taylor, the official who sent the post has since been fired and the mayor forced to resign. But how do you respond to a racist outburst like this? If ever there was a beautiful, gracious and classy First Lady it’s Michelle Obama. So, was this an isolated incident of toxic racism or is it typical of how millions of Americans think? I’d like to think it isn’t. But if it is, there’s more than a swamp that needs draining in Washington and I manifestly think Trump is not the man to do it. He would only add to the problem and trigger a potential race war. And Trump hasn’t even finished naming his cabinet yet in a cut throat battle a CBC commentator called a “knife fight.”
But maybe this is just another example of the mainstream media getting it wrong. There must be some sort of an explanation for the malignant hatred floating in the ether since Trump’s great victory. In the meantime, there’s only one thing I can say for sure.
I’m so glad I’m going to the Czech Republic.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who hopes that Trump will soon realize that being President is more than just another reality TV show.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

For the record, still blooming November 5th 2016

Opinion BC’s LNG Fraud Behind the Trump-like hype: fleeced taxpayers and a surge of climate pollution by Andrew Nikiforuk 10 Nov 2016 |

Back in 2013 Premier Christy Clark promised that LNG would make the province rich, create a $100-billion savings fund, erase all debt and employ tens of thousands of people.
None of the hype materialized, nor will it for the long foreseeable future. Thanks to a global methane glut and a collapse in methane prices by 75 per cent, the LNG industry faces “an extremely challenging business environment.”
According to Forbes, Australia’s LNG industry is now bleeding billions of dollars of cash and earning nothing for the owners of the resource: Australians. It is also noteworthy that Asian markets have contracted four per cent despite the fall in LNG prices.
As a consequence, no company has made a final investment decision on 20 LNG proposals in B.C. — with the single exception of Woodfibre, a company owned by a Singapore tycoon, Sukanto Tanoto.
It is telling that one of Tanoto’s companies, Asian Agri, has been found guilty of tax evasion. (But that hasn’t caused Clark to rethink who she invites to do business in B.C.) 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We should have seen it coming!, Gerry Warner

We should have seen it coming!
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
Now that Homer Simpson is president, what are we going to do? I guess we better hope that Trump is lovable, if not a bit stupid like Homeromer, rather than the devil incarnate.
And speaking of “stupid,” oh boy, where do I begin? Let’s start with the pollsters. They blew it with the Alberta election. They blew it with the Brexit referendum and now they’ve blown it with the biggest political prediction fiasco of them all, Trump’s stunning victory. Frankly, I find it reassuring to see Big Data can get it wrong too and that there’s still a place for human intuition. Mind you, this human also got it wrong, something I’ve been doing a lot of lately in politics.
Despite this, I take more than a small measure of schadenfreude – that wonderful German word for taking pleasure in the distress of others – watching the TV political pundits twist themselves into pretzels trying to explain Trump’s unexpected victory and their own failure to see it coming. The entire, miserable lot of them should be ordered to stand in a dark corner wearing dunce caps, myself included.
OK, enough self-flagellation. Yes, I got it wrong, but I think I can make a point or two why so many others got it wrong too. Obviously, the overwhelming, visceral hatred of Hillary – both as a person and as a politician – played a huge role in the Democrats’ debacle. What isn’t so obvious, and it wasn’t taken up by the punditry, is that a large chunk of the American electorate also hate Hillary’s lying, cheating and philandering husband Bill even more than they hate her and projected that hatred on poor Hillary’s shoulders. Holier-than-thou evangelicals and Tea Party types are hugely powerful in the rabid, Republican right wing and they never forgave Bill Clinton for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. Nor did they forgive Hillary for not dumping Bill when she found out. Too far out, you say? Well let me tell you something. If the polls can occasionally be trusted they showed the highest personal popularity Hillary ever achieved was in the middle of the Lewinsky affair when Bill was turning himself inside out denying his adultery. Women universally felt sympathy for Hillary and revulsion for Bill and they have long memories, especially the hypocritical, evangelical types.
What this all means, of course, is Democrats ran the wrong candidate for president and I don’t need to tell you who the right, or maybe that should be the left, candidate was. It was Bernie Sanders, of course, who wanted to lead a “revolution” against the establishment just as Trump successfully did. I’m even willing to bet that some of the Sanders supporters, bitter that their candidate wasn’t the Democrat nominee, ended up voting for Trump or not voting at all. And in an election as razor close as this one that’s all it would take to change victory into defeat.
So right off the top, the Democrats chose the wrong candidate and then compounded this mistake by the hardly-subtle distain they displayed for Trump and his supporters. They openly questioned their intelligence, their anger and their pain as they were pushed down the economic ladder by forces they couldn’t control like automation and immigration, both legal and illegal, that has taken away their jobs. And when people, especially men, even more especially, older white men lose their jobs they get angry, frustrated and open to radical solutions. It’s at times like this that authoritarian, strong men become very appealing. In this context, Hitler is often mentioned not without justification. But you could also say, Stalin, Mao or Margaret Thatcher for that matter. 
So the groundwork was well laid. The soil was well tilled and the conditions were ripe except few could see it coming. Now, we’ve seen it in technicolor and all we can do is wait for the next chapter. And how ironic can it get when the man that introduced many of us to realty TV and “you’re fired” is now “The Apprentice” himself and trying to learn how to be a world leader.
There’s a Chinese saying about being condemned to live in interesting times. The times coming up couldn’t be more interesting.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who will be taking a hiatus shortly while he explores new opportunities in Trump’s world.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The election crystal ball is murky but don’t hit the panic button yet, by Gerry Warner

The election crystal ball is murky but don’t hit the panic button yet
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
So the world is coming to an end.
By this time next week, the world’s greatest democracy will be ruled by either a corrupt, secretive woman who should be “locked up” and never again allowed to send an email or by a bigoted, racist, Putin-loving bully who believes “building a wall” will solve our political problems and should never be allowed within groping distance of a woman.
Not inspiring choices, I admit.
And even though I look at this salacious, soap opera from afar, it concerns me because, like it or not, as the US goes, so goes the world, and if the American Empire is suddenly reduced to the status of a dysfunctional, Third-World banana republic there’s going to be a gaping, power gap in terms of who’s leading the world. We all know Nature abhors a vacuum and vacuums always get filled.
So who’s going to fill the coming vacuum of world leadership?
China, the second biggest economy in the world, but the most polluted country on earth with growing imperial ambitions to become the strongest military power in Asia and all the scary implications that goes with that? Can’t you see Japan looking anxiously over its shoulder as the Middle Kingdom casts a covetous eye at the real estate around it? Maybe that’s why the Japanese government is currently debating scrapping its pacifist constitution?
And what about Russia, the former empire of the Soviet Union, which is lusting to restore itself to its former imperial glory? Putin, is a mean and vicious SOB, but he’s by far the best geo-political, strategic thinker on the world stage today and not to be under-estimated.
Then there’s the European Union with the biggest economy on earth per capita, but a stumbling giant with Britain soon to be negotiating its way out and Germany bending under the pressure of dealing with more than a million dirt-poor refugees escaping the Middle East and Africa.
And we won’t even talk about the the Middle East powder keg and the potential it has to trigger the next world war with such toxic and unresolved issues as the Israeli-Palestinian standoff, the Syrian Civil War and the Sunni and Shia divide which spawns terrorism world-wide. Nor has the world economy recovered fully yet from the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
Yes, Virginia, we live in a dangerously, unstable world and there’s nothing Santa Claus can do about it.
Not to be unduly apocalyptic about things, but one can’t help but think the world is facing a perfect storm of problems now with modernism clashing with traditionalism, Christianity with Islam, rural lifestyles with urban, secular with religious, the top one per cent with the rest of us and – let’s be honest – colored vs white.
The crystal ball is dark and murky, and it’s at times like this, it helps immensely to have strong, ethical and intelligent leadership at the top. And the choice Americans are facing is Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, two heavily, compromised candidates.
No matter who wins, I think some earnest praying would be advisable now. Sometimes great leaders emerge in spite of themselves.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who remains optimistic about this election because he believes Americans always show their best when things seem the worst.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Wayne's World - Keeping our Democracy Healthy , MP Wayne Stetski


Now that the first anniversary has passed since the 2015 federal election, I’m often asked how I like being your Member of Parliament. Great question!

Every time I walk to Parliament Hill and see the Peace Tower, my place of work and home to Canada’s House of Commons, it still has the wow value. It is such an honour to be serving the citizens of Kootenay–Columbia!

What I like best is learning more about our communities in Kootenay-Columbia and communities across Canada every day. I learn about the challenges facing those who live in our riding, and the frustrations they are facing with various federal government departments.

I work hard at resolving these concerns because the public service aspect of my role is important to me. I have travelled the riding listening to your concerns about climate change, democratic reform, food security, protecting our rivers and lakes, small business challenges and national parks. By understanding your concerns about these and many other issues, I will continue to be your strong voice in Ottawa.

My team works hard to keep you informed through news releases, articles like this one, monthly enews letters, issue-based mail-outs, and quarterly householders sent to every mailbox in the riding. Collectively we respond to thousands of emails, and hundreds of phone calls and social media messages every month. I love how interested you are in what’s happening in the riding and in Canada - for example we received almost 700 mail back responses on Democratic Reform alone!

The House of Commons sits for six months of the year, and during the other six months I spend a lot of time visiting the amazing places we get to call home here in Kootenay-Columbia. All MPs struggle with striking a healthy work-life balance. We never get used to missing family events like birthdays and anniversaries, or cancelling out on going to the symphony or to WHL or Junior hockey games with family and friends.

That is the price that all members of Parliament pay, particularly if they are from large rural ridings far from Ottawa. Ours is 64,336 sq. km, serves 107,589 people, and is a seven hour drive corner to corner! Every flight between Cranbrook and Ottawa takes 8 to 10 hours one way.

You sent me to Ottawa to work collaboratively to build a better Canada, and I am proud to have developed friendships with Members from all parties.  When personal or national tragedies occur we stand united in our support and in our belief in public service, and you expect no less.

There are three years to go in the life of Canada’s 42nd Parliament and I look forward to meeting many more of you. Thank you for being such great constituents – your interest and caring for our home in Kootenay–Columbia is very much appreciated!

Wayne Stetski
Member of Parliament


Stetski joins EF Canadian Youth Ambassador Program Parliamentary Delegation, Announces Scholarship Opportunity for Young Leaders from Kootenay-Columbia

Stetski joins EF Canadian Youth Ambassador Program Parliamentary Delegation, Announces Scholarship Opportunity for Young Leaders from Kootenay-Columbia

Golden – MP Wayne Stetski, as part of an all-party delegation comprised of almost 50 Senators and Members of Parliament, today joined EF Education First to announce the EF Canadian Youth Ambassador Program.

The five-year initiative will provide annual travel scholarships and training to 30 Canadian young people representing every province and territory, with several scholarships reserved for First Nations and at-risk youth.

With the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and Canada’s 150th Anniversary quickly approaching, the program will celebrate Canada’s history while seeking to impact its future path by recruiting future leaders to make positive change both locally and globally.

This program is designed to celebrate Canada’s history while seeking to impact its future path by recruiting future leaders to make positive change both locally and globally, says Stetski.  “I encourage the youth of Kootenay-Columbia to apply to the program to bring their unique perspectives to the rest of the world and, in turn, discover what it means to be a true global citizen. Applications are due December 1, 2016.”

Each year, the program will challenge young people to identify a local issue that they would like to bring awareness to and gain support in resolving, while considering that issue’s impact in both a national and global context. Recipients will travel three times during their scholarship year—twice to Ottawa and once internationally—as they work to refine their action plans while receiving mentorship from businesspeople, community leaders, and MPs from around the country. In April 2017, the first 30 Youth Ambassadors will travel to France to join an estimated 30,000–40,000 Canadians as they commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Throughout their scholarship year, Youth Ambassadors will finalize detailed project proposals around their chosen topic, lobby the broader community for support, and present their full plans to various government entities as well as key public and private sector influencers.

Please visit for more information about the EF Canadian Youth Ambassador Program including the scholarship prompt and important schedules and deadline.

For more information, please contact:
Laura Branswell: 250-417-2250 or

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Does the NDP have a death wish or are they just more principled than the rest of us? Gerry Warner

Does the NDP have a death wish or are they just more principled than the rest of us?
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
You gotta hand it to the NDP! When it comes to the art of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, no other political party can touch them. What better proof of that could there be than the last BC election?
And now they’ve done it again.
Look no further than the riding of Columbia River – Revelstoke. If ever there should be a safe seat for BC’s socialists, it’s that one. The highly respected teacher and former mayor of Golden, Norm Macdonald, won it three times beginning in 2005 and with majorities of more than 50 percent in every victory, an outstanding record indeed.
Known to everyone simply as “Norm,” Macdonald taught school in Africa before becoming principal of a small elementary school near Golden. He served one term as mayor of Golden and held several cabinet critic portfolios for the NDP in the legislature and was a cinch to become a full-fledged cabinet minister in 2013 if once again the NDP hadn’t fallen on its sword and lost the election. As a result, it’s hard to imagine a safer seat for the NDP in the 2017 election considering the legacy Macdonald left for his successor. Not only this, there were two strong candidates vying to succeed Macdonald, one the current mayor of Invermere and the other a former city councillor.
Then all hell broke loose.
The BC NDP, you see, has something called an “Equity Seeking Policy” that few people are aware of outside the party. According to the policy, when a male NDP incumbent steps down, is defeated or retires as was the case with Macdonald they are to be replaced by a candidate that belongs to an identifiable equity-seeking group such as women, First Nations or a LGBDT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, disabled, or trans-gendered) group. (My apologies if I left any equity-seeking groups out such as redheads.)
The policy appears well-intentioned, but between the policy itself and its execution, there’s an awful lot of room for things to go sideways as, indeed, was the case when the NDP got around to picking Macdonald’s successor for the hitherto safe NDP riding of Columbia River-Revelstoke.
There were two candidates in the race; Spring Hawes, a popular two-term councillor, who met the NDP equity-seeking diktat on two grounds, being female and disabled. The other candidate was current, three-term Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft, who first became a city councillor at the tender age of 20 and has a female partner and a young son, as perfectly normal as things could be for an ambitious, young politician. A nomination meeting was held two weekends ago and Taft won handily, which should have been the end of the story except for one small detail understandably raised by Hawes and her supporters – how did Taft meet the NDP’s rigid equity mandate for new candidates?
How indeed!
Well, it appears that prior to the nomination vote Taft disclosed to the NDP’s Equity Search Committee that he was a bisexual – no, I’m not making this up – and asked that his equity-seeking status remain confidential. However, in the uproar that followed the nomination vote, Taft felt he owed NDP members  – not to mention the general public – an explanation so he issued a statement announcing he was a member of a discriminated against group, namely bisexuals.
That’s when the poop really hit the fan.
The obvious question in the minds of many in the aftermath of Taft’s startling revelation is not hard to figure out. Is the Invermere mayor a for-real, genuine, hitting from both sides of the plate bisexual or is he a bisexual of convenience in order to gain candidate nomination status with the oh so socially conscious NDP?
That one dear reader I’ll leave to you. But this much I know. The hitherto “safe” NDP seat of Columbia River-Revelstoke is now “in play” and may not be safe at all. But that’s hardly a big deal for the BC NDP because they’ve been there many times before.
After all, the BC NDP has always been a party that puts principle ahead of being elected.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who has principles, but has no wish to legislate them. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Letter in response to Daily Townsman article re AAP:

Letter in response to Daily Townsman article re AAP:

It appears that Mayor Pratt, who ran on a platform of fixing our roads, and not raising taxes, is very concerned with citizens having a different opinion than his on the matter of the a $10 million, 20 year tax burden.  

Rather than hosting a public information session, he chose to hold a closed media event so that he could point fingers and malign any resident using the only available democratic process to oppose an unnecessary tax.  This is confrontational, divisive and disrespectful.  

'Coming out swinging' against citizens and threatening to spend $50,000 on a referendum regardless of meeting the AAP requirements, is an attempt at undermining the democratic process.  He may as well have said "it's my way or else."

Mayor and Council should have expected some unhappy taxpayers on such a large loan.  Friends of mine are expecting a $500 per year tax increase on their business, which is hardly as Mr. Pratt stated "a package of cigarettes, it's a glass of beer, it's a cup of coffee” each month.  He attempted to trivialize the impact of this 20 year tax burden.

The young man organizing residents opposed to this potential tax burden, was meticulous in getting a fact sheet prepared for those who agreed to help get signatures opposing the $10 million loan.  There are others collecting signatures on their own. 

Do we need the roads done in two years, when they can be done in five at the current rate of taxation?  The 1% dedicated road improvement tax, implemented many years ago, has been used by every sitting Council since.  To say that the previous Council “did nothing about the infrastructure and that's part of the problem of what we have today” is incorrect and spiteful.

Couldn’t Council use reserve funds towards roads? Mayor Pratt said they are applying for the $120 billion federal fund and $148 million provincial fund. Why not wait for those and alleviate this potential tax burden?

The Mayor appears unable or unwilling to meet with the public, allow democratic processes to unfold, and accept the outcome. 

Standing for democracy,

Sharon Cross