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.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Out and About with Stewart

The Joys of Lone Pine



More Science and Non Science from The Tyee

Continuing with Gerry Warner's  theme of science and non-science and for amusement:

To read the entire article from the Tyee go to:

Please Advise! Repentant Rona Prays for Scientists' Forgiveness

Doc Steve advises Ambrose on her groundbreaking new experiment.
By Steve Burgess, Yesterday, TheTyee.ca 
[Editor's note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,
There is a war against science going on in Canada. It is being waged by Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government and fearlessly opposed by we, the stalwarts of the Conservative caucus.
Last week our natural resources critic Candice Bergen gave a press conference where she decried the lack of scientific rigour in the decision-making process with regard to pipeline construction. She pointed out that political interference is shifting power from scientists and giving it to Liberal political hacks, an argument I have recently made as well.
Will you join with us to stop this pernicious attack on the scientific community?
Sincerely,
Rona Ambrose
Interim Conservative Party Leader

Dear Ms. Ambrose,
Is it Groundhog Day yet? In the movie by the same name, a single day's events repeat over and over. But the 2016 version of Groundhog Day is shaping up to be closer to another movie: Face/Off, where John Travolta and Nicholas Cage swap faces and confuse the hell out of everybody.
There's been a fair amount of Conservative face-swapping and policy-switching since the election. Your party has now decided that scrapping the long-form census was a bad idea and that an enquiry into missing aboriginal women would be a good one. Your reversal on the issue of marijuana dispensary regulation was a particular stunner. Suddenly you're for it. As far as science goes, was that an experiment to determine exactly how much it would take to make people's heads actually explode?..............
Go to link above to complete reading the article



Saturday, January 30, 2016

Global Warming and Gerry's Gut

Global warming causes not as certain as claimed
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
There are two sides to every story. How many times have you heard that tired cliché? A hundred? A thousand? A million? I know I’ve lost count. But just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it’s not true.
This was driven home to me recently when I heard an interview on the radio with Patrick Moore. Who’s that you say? Ahh, memories are so short. Born in BC, a scientist with a PhD in ecology from UBC and the former president of the Greenpeace Foundation of Canada, Patrick Moore was once one of the most famous environmentalists on earth.
How do you like those credentials? Yet today, Moore is one of the most hated and reviled “environmentalists” in the world accused in a Manchester Guardian article  no less of being a “Judas of the eco-warriors” spreading a gospel of doubt.” Sheesh! Can this be the same Patrick Moore that was one of the earliest members of Greenpeace, a protester against nuclear testing and whale hunting and was aboard the Rainbow Warrior the day it was blown up by French spies in Auckland Harbour?
Yep, that’s the right guy. Today, Moore is denounced as an apologist for the forest industry, a paid shill for the nuclear power industry and an advocate for genetically modified food. Once a passionate critic of clear cut logging, Moore now says clear cutting “allows new trees to grow in the sunshine.” But Chris Genovali, of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, says: “Each time I read something by this megalomaniacal crackpot, I get the urge to hurl.”
Yet even these criticisms aren’t the biggest aimed at Moore because the former Greenpeacer has committed the greatest sin in the environmental lexicon by denouncing the scientific proponents of global warming and climate change. That’s right. Moore is a climate change skeptic and he doesn’t take the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as gospel. In its 2013 report, the IPCC concluded that mankind was the “dominant cause” of global warming and since then has argued that atmospheric pollution, particularly carbon dioxide emissions from industry and vehicles, is responsible for 95 per cent of global warming.
No way, says Moore. “We do not know if we are a small or large part of the present global warming. It is not possible through science to determine an exact answer to this question . . . So it is very unlikely that we (humans) are the only factor causing the present global warming but we may be one of the factors.” 
In the dominant scientific and evidence-based way of thinking today Moore’s comments are the equivalent of saying “the emperor has no clothes.” Scientists denounce him, environmentalists hate him and Moore has been made an international pariah by the media. But you know something, as much as I deplore Moore’s views on logging and many of his other views, on this one I think it’s possible that he’s right and should at least be listened to.
Oh, oh, I can already feel the slings and arrows hurling my way for saying this so I will now be perfectly clear about my climate change views. I absolutely accept the evidence that the earth is warming dramatically in our times and one only has to look at the dramatic shrinking of the world’s ice caps and glaciers, including the glaciers of the Kootenays, to see this.
But Moore argues, and so have I long before I was aware of Moore’s views, that solar heat fluctuations by the sun may be at least as an important factor as air-borne carbon pollution by man as a cause of global warming. It may even be the main cause.
There, I’ve said it and I’m not going to take it back no matter how much scorn and abuse is directed my way. I acknowledge that I’m not a scientist and can’t argue on scientific grounds. But as a long-time weather nut and student of meteorology, I can say what my gut believes and I could say more, but there’s no room now.
However, part two of this column will come. Trust me.

  
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and a skeptic on a lot of things.
 


    

Thursday, January 28, 2016

NDP Critic for National Parks, Wayne Stetski calls for rejection of "Mother Canada" Statue in a National Park

Jan 28th
MOTHER CANADA STATUE DOESN’T BELONG IN A NATIONAL PARK

OTTAWA – Today NDP National Parks Critic Wayne Stetski (Kootenay – Columbia) sent a letter to the Environment Minister, calling on the government to reject the controversial proposal for the Never Forgotten National Memorial, also known as “Mother Canada”.

The proposal, which was backed by the former Conservative government, would see a giant statue erected at the headlands of Green Cove in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, along with a parking lot and visitor’s centre.

“The government’s process for public feedback was limited to only two weeks, and the project has since received criticism from a variety of stakeholders” said Stetski in his letter. “A national park is no place for a seven-storey statue, particularly one that lacks broad-based support and poses a threat to the ecological integrity of the park.”

In addition to a number of civil society groups, the Mother Canada proposal has received opposition from a group of 28 former senior Parks Canada managers, including a former Parks Canada CEO, who sent an open letter to the former Environment Minister that raised concerns about the proposal’s negative impact on Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

“I have great respect for the terrible price many of our soldiers have paid,” said Stetski in his letter. “A memorial to honour them is welcome. The question before us is where such a memorial should be located.”

New Democrats are calling on the government to scrap the current proposal and open thorough public consultation on possible locations for the memorial.
                                                      

For more information please contact the office of MP Wayne Stetski at 250-919-9104

January Skies

Dawn 'til Dusk - a walk to work provides opportunities to appreciate the ever changing sky.

Thanks Stewart Wilson


What's Happening....

January 27th - 30th

Last chance to see
Cranbrook Community Theatre's production of:
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Studio Stage Door
Tickets Lotus Books

In The Gallery
January 13th to Feb 5th
Mt Baker Art Classes Exhibit
"Up All Night"

Saturday January 30th

Adolf Hungrywolf  at the
Cranbrook Library Manual Training Building
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Fifty Years of Writing and Illustrating

Tuesday February 2nd

The play
SEEDS: Percy Schmeiser versus Monsanto
Key City Theatre
7:30pm

Thursday February 4th

Ballet Jorgen
Sleeping Beauty
Key City Theatre
Tickets key City Theatre
$45 and $39 members

Cranbrook sixteenth in “Best Cities for Work In B.C.” ranking

Cranbrook moves up 10 points in “Best Cities for Work In B.C.” ranking

Number one of the list was Fort St. John with 71.8 points, beating out other heavyweights like Dawson Creek and North Vancouver.

by

Once again, Vancouver-based BC Business magazine's January cover story ranks 36 cities in British Columbia as the province's best for work.
As per last year’s ranking, Cranbrook was the only Kootenay community recognized in the new ranking. Of the 36 cities, Cranbrook came in at a little above the middle-of-the-pack at number sixteen (up from 20th last year) on the list garnering 55.20 points out of a possible one hundred (verses 45.4 points last year).
Again, number one of the list was Fort St. John with 71.8 points, beating out other heavy weights like Dawson Creek, North Vancouver, Richmond, Squamish and Kelowna.
Here is how Cranbrook ranked overall:
5-Year Income growth: 11.5%
Average household income: $95,996
Average household income (under 35): $85,688
5-Year Population growth: 2.2%
Unemployment: 8.00%
Households with degrees: 12.3%
Score (100%): 55.20%

See the entire ranking here: www.bcbusiness.ca/hot-lists/best-cities-for-work-in-2016-the-ranking

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Will Capitalism eat Democracy?

Party on Bud

He is your Bud for sure, bringing the community together for singing and laughter and at 95 years young he was, most likely, the last to hit the hay.  You have done so much for Cranbrook Bud and you are treasured. Once again Happy Birthday, Bud Abbott.

Bud and friends at his 95th birthday



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Please do not let history repeat itself......

As residents know, the Post office was torn down.  Our 1929 Firehall remains on the market one year after Council's decision not to allow the Cranbrook and District Arts Council the opportunity to use the funds raised, to begin restoration and to have use of the building.  There are many who hope that decision might be reconsidered.

click to enlarge

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Great Correction? Gerry Warner

Things can’t go on like this much longer
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
I see the stock markets recovered Friday and I guess that’s a good thing because they’ve lost billions since the beginning of the year and stocks have been going up and down like a crazy yo-yo, which introduces a topic I bring up with great trepidation.
I call it The Great Correction.
I don’t know about you, but I enter 2016 with very little optimism about the future of our planet and the great civilization we’ve built on it. It’s a great civilization alright, but it rests on a foundation of contradictions that seem to grow more numerous every day.
Contradictions, you ask? Let me enumerate just a few. Yes, we’re creating more wealth all the time, but where’s it going ? Not to you and me! Oh sure we’re comfortable, but did you know that according to “Working for the Few,” a new book just released by Oxfam International, the 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth ($110 trillion) as the rest of the world combined? The book goes on to say that in the US the wealthiest one per cent have recovered 95 per cent of what they lost in the Great Recession of 2008 – 09 while the bottom 90 per cent of Americans became poorer.
Good-bye middle class. How long before there’s rioting in the streets.?
So world finances are in a mess, but what about politics? Well, the countries of the enlightened West, including Canada, are still dropping bombs in the Middle East and killing terrorists and civilians alike and what do they have to show for the carnage? An Orwellian war without end and the greatest refugee migration the world has known since the second World War, and for all we know, since the writing of the Bible.
Are you proud of that? Do you think a situation like this is sustainable without greater consequences? Will all the non-terrorists in the Middle East – and that’s the great majority –move to the West to get away from being killed by terrorists or bombed by us? Don’t you think it’s time Trudeau acted on his promise to bring our jets home?
Then there’s climate change. Did you know that good ol’ “fair and balanced” Fox News just released a poll saying only three per cent of Americans regard climate change as a priority concern. Nearly 40% of Americans continue to think climate change is “not a serious problem,” according to another recent poll by ABC news and the Washington Post. This despite a record breaking 2015 forest fire season in the US and a four year drought in California that has many Americans looking north for their future water supply.
And we’ll probably give it to them. After all, we gave them the Columbia River.
Then there’s the insane real estate bubble in Vancouver where no detachable house costs less than $1 million now and the lights continue to go out on “dark homes” purchased by off-shore investors that don’t live in them. Is that a way to build a progressive city? Pretty soon the only affordable size home in Vancouver will be a dog house.
And I haven’t even mentioned the acidification of the world’s oceans, the collapse in fish stocks, “super bugs” as we enter a post-antibiotic era where infections that used to be treatable could kill us. And dare I say Donald Trump where last week the British Parliament seriously debated banning him from the country? Nor did I bring up plunging oil prices which has the Alberta economy on its knees and may soon do the same to the rest of Canada as much as we like 99 cent gas.
Then again, we see the open arms with which Canadians are welcoming Syrian refugees. That’s inspiring and acts as some balm for all the horror stories I’ve listed above. But don’t kid yourself. We’re entering a dark valley in this Chinese Year of the Monkey. And if we want to get that monkey off our backs we’ve got
to change our profligate ways.
Otherwise Mother Earth and Mother Nature will take their revenge and it won’t be pretty. That’s what I mean by “Great Correction.”


Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and occasional pessimist.
    



Friday, January 22, 2016

Happy Birthday Bud!

HAPPY 95th BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

Cranbrook Courier Aug 25 1960


Canada, Number Two in World Rankings

The inaugural “Best Countries” report is out, and Canada has clinched the number-two spot behind Germany.
The report was revealed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Wednesday in partnership with U.S. News & World Report, WPP’s BAV Consulting and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
“Globalization has made the world a competitive place for business, influence and the quality of life,” Mortimer Zuckerman, U.S. news chairman and editor-in-chief, said in a statement.

To watch a short video and read the article go to the link above.

Stetski: Canada Summer Jobs Program will help bolster local economy

STETSKI: CANADA SUMMER JOBS PROGRAM WILL HELP BOLSTER LOCAL ECONOMY

CRANBROOK – Kootenay–Columbia MP Wayne Stetski is reminding eligible area employers and organizations that the deadline for submitting applications to Canada Summer Jobs 2016 (CSJ) is February 26, 2016.

"This is a great opportunity for students to gain experience in the workforce. Programs like Canada Summer Jobs help bolster the local economy," said Stetski.  "I encourage eligible employers to apply for this funding and hire a student for the summer."

The CSJ initiative helps to create job opportunities for students aged 15-30 in their communities.  Funding is provided to not-for-profit organizations, public sector employers, and small businesses to assist with hiring students who will be returning to full-time studies in the next school year. 

“One of my jobs as the Member of Parliament is to ensure Kootenay-Columbia is not left in the dark about various federal funding or assistance that is available for the riding,” added Stetski. “I will continue to work hard to bring your voice to Ottawa and bring Ottawa back to the riding.”

Assessment of the Kootenay-Columbia applications are guided by local priorities, employment factors within the constituency, on-the-job mentoring and career related experience, provision of sufficient salary and other criteria. This year, Canada Summer Jobs applications are available online and must be completed by February 26, 2016.

For eligibility criteria and guidelines for completing the application, please contact a Service Canada Centre or refer to the website at www.servicecanada.gc.ca/csj.

                                               


For more information please contact the office of MP Wayne Stetski at 250-919-9104

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What's Happening.....

Friday January 21 to Sunday January 23rd

Crimes of the Heart
Key City Theatre
Tickets $20
250-426-7006

Saturday January 22nd

Cranbrook Farmer's Market
Ktunaxa Gym
10:00am - 1:00pm

January 20 to 23rd, 27 -30th

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Cranbrook Community Theatre
Studio Stage Door
Tickets Lotus Books
8:00pm

Thursday January 21st

Al Purdy was Here
Columbia Theatre
7:00pm

Saturday January 23rd

Annual Robbie Burns Dinner
Heritage Inn
Phone 1-250-432-5404
Tickets NOT available at door

Tuesday January 26th

Friends of the Library
Trekking Sikkim
with Gretchen Whetham
Rm. 250, COR







Help us Help Them Have a New Beginning, Family Event, January 30th Prestige Inn

CHR

The Cranbrook Hub for Refugees

“Help us Help Them Have a New Beginning!”
That’s the theme of what’s hoped to be a big fundraiser dinner and dance at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort Saturday Jan. 30 with profits going to the Cranbrook Hub for Refugees (CHR), to help them sponsor a refugee family in Cranbrook.
The family-style event in the Prestige Grand Ballroom features a three-course dinner, live musical entertainment and a silent auction in aid of CHR’s efforts to have a refugee family from Syria or elsewhere arriving in the Key City by spring.
The volunteer group has raised more than $20,000 so far, but needs at least another $20,000 to bring the family to Cranbrook and support them here for at least a year. 
“We’re off to a good start but more money is needed to make this humanitarian project a success,” says CHR Co-chair Bonnie Spence-Vinge.
The fun starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 each, which includes everything except drinks and children under 10 are admitted free. Tickets are available at Snapd East Kootenay Tix (online), Lotus Books and some CHR Members.
 “It should be an awesome evening”, says Verna Oderkirk-Bungay, a member of the Fisher Peak Performing Artists Society (FPPAS), the main organizers of the event.  “When you have a cause like this it really helps to get people out so our goal is to raise the next $10,000 or whatever we can raise.”
FPPAS President Jamie Neve, also a guest musician, agrees. “I think people are looking for a meaningful way to support this endeavour and bring the community together for an evening of entertainment, dancing and food.”
Neve, a well-known singer/songwriter in the local entertainment scene, says people are usually more generous when they know the fun they’re having is going to support a good cause. “It’s really about the community coming together and improving our quality of life.”
Tom Bungay, lead vocals & rhythm guitar for the band East-West Connection, says party goers can expect a dynamic mix of country-rock, classic rock, folk and traditional East Coast Celtic music from the group. “We’re hoping for a lot of participation and dancing from the audience because that’s what gets us going.” Sing-a-longs are also part of the group’s repertoire, he says.    
And the food will be great, says Tracy Thistle, convention and sales manager for the Prestige. Roast chicken, potato salad with champagne mustard, a garden salad, hot rolls and dessert will be just part of the fare. “And we absolutely like to support a good cause anyway we can,” Thistle says.
In addition to bidding on around 30 items in the silent auction, participants will be able to donate directly to the refugee project by writing cheques payable to Christ Church Anglican and putting CHR or refugee project on the subject line. Charitable tax receipts will be issued for all donations made this way, but regulations do not allow tax receipts to be issued for the tickets themselves.
The project, which started last fall and gained momentum through the Christmas season, recently won the endorsement of newly-elected Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski.
“I am very proud of the citizens of Cranbrook who are demonstrating their compassion for refugees who are fleeing war, oppression and/or extreme poverty. Canada has long been a country that welcomes immigrants, and immigrants have played an important role in making our country the great place that it is today.”
Stetski says he looks forward to welcoming new citizens from Syria and other countries to a number of communities around the riding. “My sincere thanks to all those who are making it happen!” 

For more information on the event, call Bonnie Spence-Vinge at (250) 426-4274 or Verna Oderkirk-Bungay at (250) 919-0401.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Net Zero Homes with Arthur Lo, January 22nd.

Messages from Wildsight:

Net-zero Homes with Arthur Lo
Net-zero energy homes are here - and Arthur Lo is coming to Kimberley and Cranbrook for our net-zero speaker series to share his experiences building them. With the pressure on to reduce our carbon emissions, what better time to learn about buildings with zero emissions - buildings that generate all of the energy that they need?
Join us this Friday, Jan 22nd. We have an inspirational session for the general public at 7:30PM in the lecture theatre at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook and a detailed session for professionals from 1-5PM at Kimberley's Centre 64. The professional session is HPO approved as continuing professional development for home builders and has a cost of $25 (you don't have to be a professional to attend). Registration for the professional session is online.
The series continues on Feb 19 with Dave Spencer of EchoHaven in Calgary and Jan Pratschke of Invermere's Collective Carpentry and ends on Mar 4 with Shafraaz Kaba of Manasc Isaac Architects in Edmonton. Read all the details at wildsight.ca/netzero.​​


Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey
Our first year of the Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey was a great success with participation from over 50 citizen scientists! Over 14,000 individual birds were counted during the spring migration surveys and over 40,000 individual birds were counted during the fall migration surveys! 43 high school students participated in fall migration surveys and 133 elementary students participated in outdoor birding field trips.
Thank you to all the committed and hard-working volunteersRead more and find out dates for spring 2016 surveys here. Please contact Rachel Darvill (rachel@wildsight.ca) if you would like to participate.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Man Fracking Powers Tried to Silence, The Tyee

Come Listen to the Man Fracking Powers Tried to Silence
Why you should spend Thursday, Jan. 28, with Andrew Nikiforuk. A special Tyee event.
By David Beers, Today, TheTyee.ca

On Jan. 28, in Vancouver, you have the opportunity to spend an evening with Andrew Nikiforuk, one the finest journalists, one of the finest minds, one the most courageous and public spirited people I have ever met........

We unfortunately do not have that opportunity but read the whole of this article @

'Slick Water' and a hero named Jessica Ernst
Andrew first met Alberta landowner and oil patch consultant Jessica Ernst in 2004 while reporting for the Globe and Mail's Report on Business on "unconventional" energy sources -- like fracked gas. It wasn't until the next year that the harm fracking can do became personal for Ernst. She'd discovered groundwater contamination on her own land 113 kilometres northeast of Calgary, and Andrew returned to write about that for Canadian Business.

He couldn't believe the level of fraud she had documented or how the Alberta Energy Regulator had banished all communication from her to thwart her efforts. In fact her story about pollution eerily previewed the trouble and controversy fracking would later cause across the continent.

To discourage any reporting on the case, flaks for the energy regulator phoned the editors of Canadian Business magazine in 2006 and told them that Andrew was just a third rate reporter who couldn't get a job at a rural newspaper. The intimidation didn't work because the editors knew Nikiforuk well: he had contributed to the magazine for more than a decade.

In fact, by the time Andrew met Jessica Ernst, he had not only been covering oil and gas issues in Canada for 10 years, he had published an award-winning book profiling a quite different resister to drilling in Alberta. It was titled Wiebo Ludwig's War Against Big Oil, and it won the Governor General's Award for non-fiction in 2002. Andrew went on to write The Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent, a national bestseller that won the 2009 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award. Next, Andrew made manifest the destructive ripple effect of climate change by writing about a forest devouring insect we know too well in B.C. Empire of the Beetle was nominated for the Governor General's Award for non-fiction. He followed with The Energy of Slaves, a fresh look at our fossil fuel dependence and delusion, and now he is out with his story of Jessica Ernst's fight: Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider's Stand against the World's Most Powerful Industry.

Democracy and Voting

Democracy and Voting, Dr. Joyce Green
The 42nd General Election, the longest and most expensive election in over a century, has produced the majority Liberal government, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the Conservative party, and Parliamentary representation with a sizeable number of NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Green MPs. 
Elections are held to produce a Parliament (federally) or a Legislative Assembly (provincially and territorially).  They are the vital democratic link between citizens and government.  The constitutional obligation of each elected body is to represent the people by forming a government and an opposition. 

The role of government is to make policy, pass legislation, and maintain the confidence of Parliament; the role of opposition is to hold government accountable and, if that government loses the confidence of the House of Commons, provide an alternative government.  All parties are to be dedicated to the integrity of Parliament and the Constitution, represented by the Crown:  this is why the Official Opposition is called Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

So how did the system work in the 2015 election?  It depends on the criteria applied.  Using the existing formula of the Plurality or First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system, the election produced a majority Liberal government  with 184 seats and 39.5% of the popular vote and an Official Opposition (the Conservatives) holding 99 seats with 31.9% of the popular vote.  The other opposition hold the balance of the seats in Parliament.  The NDP got 44 seats with 19.7% of the vote.  The Bloc Quebecois hold 10 seats with 4.7% of the nation-wide popular vote – but note that the Bloc does not run nationally; it runs only in Quebec.  The Green party holds a single seat with 3.5% of the popular vote.  The new Parliamentary total is 338 MPs.

Anyone can see that the electoral system – First Past the Post, or plurality – produces false majorities and odd anomalies.  It also discounts small parties with a significant chunk of support spread thinly across the country (the Greens) and over-rewards small parties with regionally concentrated support (the Bloc).

Electors vote for a candidate for MP in each riding; the party with the most votes wins the riding.  The votes for other parties are effectively lost because they do not count toward an elected representative.  The winner wins with a plurality – that is, more votes than the nearest competitor – even if the winner does not have a majority of support.  Often the other parties have more support in total than does the winner – as was the case in Kootenay-Columbia.  Thus, this system is both unrepresentative and undemocratic. 

The Kootenay Columbia result demonstrates the way the plurality electoral system works to produce a single winner with a minority of votes.  The NDP’s Wayne Stetski edged out Conservative David Wilks by about 285 votes.  That’s not anywhere near a majority and in fact is a minority when you consider the votes given to the Conservative, Liberal and Green candidates. The Cranbrook Townsman reported that Stetski received 23,529 votes, Wilks, 23,244; Liberal candidate Don Johnston got 12,315 and Green Party candidate Bill Green, 4,115 votes. The total non-NDP vote was 39,674.  In our winner-takes-all system, however, the NDP counts Kootenay Columbia as a win and the other candidates all lose.  Dozens of other ridings produced similarly unrepresentative results and led to the over-representation of the Liberals and the under-representation of all other parties in the House of Commons.

The electoral system also produces highly partisan Parliaments and discourages collaboration, as each party wants to win ridings and beat the competition rather than make a Parliament work. However, the seats that each party holds as a result of the plurality system are not a very good reflection of the parties’ share of the popular vote.

What would the 2015 Parliament look like if Canada had used proportional representation (PR), a system which aggregates votes for each party and then produces seats in Parliament directly proportional to this share of the popular vote?  We’d be looking at a different Parliament.  With PR, the Liberals would have had 133 seats – directly proportional to their share of the vote.  The Conservatives would have 108 seats, NDP would have 67 seats, the Greens would have 12 seats and the Bloc would hold 16 seats.  Other small parties not presently in Parliament would hold 2 seats (numbers are rounded so the total is not exact).

The results under PR are more accurate and thus more democratic.  Moreover, our votes would not be ‘wasted’ because every vote is counted toward the total seats of the party.  Under our present system, folks who voted for anyone other than the winning candidate get no political representation for their political choice.

Research shows that PR reduces partisanship in favour of collaboration among parties, because PR is structured to make Parliament work, not to secure partisan advantage.  The electoral outcome more accurately reflects the wishes of voters. Parties are more inclined to listen to all voters, not just to their own voters, because every vote counts in the next election and voters can change their choices.  Interested readers can consult the Law Commission of Canada’s study of electoral systems Voting Counts:  Electoral Reform for Canada (http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/J31-61-2004E.pdf ), and Dennis Pilon’s 2007 book The Politics of Voting.  Fair Vote Canada (http://campaign2015.fairvote.ca) is an excellent online source of information about PR.  And with this calibre of information we don’t need more studies.

Clearly the Liberals benefited this time from the plurality system.  However, during the election the party promised democratic reforms, saying “2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system”.  The NDP -- which was hurt the most by the plurality system -- and the Green Party promised to immediately adopt proportional representation if they formed government.  The Conservatives said they would keep the current system.  The Liberal government, strangely, seems to be opposed to proportional representation and leaning toward a ranked run-off ballot. 

The ranked run-off ballot  would allow parties to ‘game’ the system and would produce results similar to our current system.  Here’s why:  voters choose their first, second, third and other choices.  The party with the smallest number of votes drops off the ballot, and their ballots are re-distributed to other parties on the basis of the voters’ second choice.  This process continues until one party has a clear majority.  Thus, parties that are the second choice of most people can count on a win.  The Liberals are most likely to benefit from this system, as they are the second choice of many Conservatives and some Greens and NDs.  Murray Dobbin recently ran a good article on this in The Tyee; read it at http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2016/01/08/Does-Trudeau-Want-Fair-Elections/
Citizens can always write to their MPs and other members of parliament – the Prime Minister comes to mind – to demand PR now.  And people can always sign the Fair Vote Canada online petition that FVC has been promoting for years - the Declaration of Voters' Rights, at www.fairvote.ca/declaration  Fair Vote Canada will be finding a way to present those 63,000  (and growing) names to the federal Minister for Democratic Reform Maryam Monsef. 

And for great information about the electoral system and why it should be changed, hit the Fair Vote Canada website.  The Law Commission of Canada also did an excellent study of various electoral systems in 2004 -- the report should be in the library -- and it is an easy and compelling read.  Finally, Denis Pilon wrote "The Politics of Voting" -- a really good study of how partisan and undemocratic our system is.  Again, you should be able to get this in the library.

Will Canadians get a more democratic electoral system before the next election?  Governments tend to lose their appetite for change when the status quo serves their partisan interests well.  But democracy is not served well by our electoral system, and surely democracy is more important than narrow partisan interests.

Joyce Green is Professor of Political Science on faculty at the University of Regina, currently living in Cranbrook.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

In the Bleak Mid-Winter at Elizabeth Lake

photos Jenny Humphrey and Stewart Wilson








Considering University, Considering Critical Thinking

Listen to the interview at the link below:
In a recent essay on the current state of university education in Canada,Ron Srigley wrote: "There is no real education anymore, but I still have to create the impression that education is happening. Students will therefore come to class, but they will not learn. Professors will give lectures, but they will not teach. Students will receive grades, but they will not earn them. Awards and degrees will be granted, but they will exist only on paper. Smiling students will be photographed at graduation, but they will not be happy." 
Professor Srigley has been teaching for more than two decades and is currently at the University of Prince Edward Island in the Department of Religious Studies, where he teaches classical philosophy, religion and literature. He talks with Michael about everything from grade inflation, to students who can't read or write, to the burgeoning number of administrators and fund-raisers.
This is the first in a series of interviews we are planning about universities in Canada. If you have ideas for the series, or you would like to contribute a comment, please email us at thesundayedition@cbc.ca. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Site C – a project that shouldn’t be built


Site C – a project that shouldn’t be built

Perceptions by Gerry Warner

The sparsely populated Peace River valley contains some of the richest agricultural land in BC, is home to the furthest north grain elevators in the world and teams with fish and wildlife along its scenic shores.
The valley is also one of the biggest electrical producers in the province with the W.A.C. Bennett and Peace River Canyon dams generating 3,424 Megawatts of electricity, almost a third of all the power BC Hydro produces in BC.

Phew! Don’t you think that’s enough? Well, if you do, you’re out of step with the government of BC which on Oct. 19, 2014 gave the go-ahead to the controversial $7.9 billion Site C dam, which will flood more than 5,500 hectares of prime agricultural and 83 km of wilderness river valley and bury countless First Nation cultural sites and artifacts that have yet to be studied.

Late last year BC Hydro sent crews in to begin clearing the site even though several legal cases are currently before the courts questioning the legality of the proposed dam. This set off a firestorm of protest that has resulted in arrests at the site and a pledge by First Nation leaders and environmentalists across Canada to fight to the bitter end to stop the controversial project.

Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip expressed his bitterness in a protest at the site Monday. "It is absolutely unacceptable that BC Hydro is relentlessly clear-cutting forests right now to prepare for the flooding of the Peace River Valley, which will destroy archaeological sites and eradicate prime farmland,"  Famed environmentalist David Suzuki was at the site too and expressed frustration that the BC government was pressing ahead with the project despite all the criticism. “I was one of many, many people 30 years ago that was opposing the dam at Site C — exactly the same dam and we won that one . . .So I can't figure out what the hell — we already had this battle before and we're having it again."
Suzuki’s lament should sound familiar to Kootenay residents, who have also seen politicians in Victoria, Ottawa and Washington D.C. decide that the best use of the land they live on is to flood their valleys and send the power thousands of miles away to people elsewhere in BC and the U.S. More than 2,000 West Kootenay residents were rooted out of their homes for building of the Columbia River Treaty dams and hundreds of First Nation residents were similarly displaced for construction of  the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, which was the largest earth-filled structure in the world when it was built in the 1960’s.

These politicians are awfully good at moving dirt, but not nearly so good when it comes to treating people. In fact, the people in the way of these giant dam mega-projects in the Kootenays got hardly anything out of the projects until creation of the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) by the former NDP government of Premier Mike Harcourt in 1995. If the Site C project goes ahead, will the people impacted by that project be so lucky? Or will it again take 30 years for the politicians to remember them?

Unfortunately politics plays a major role in these projects and the politics involved in the Site C controversy are extremely muddy. If Site C goes ahead, and I don't mind saying I hope it doesn’t, it will generate enough power to light 400,000 homes. There are barely 40,000 people living in B.C.’s Peace River valley so clearly the power is not needed for them. So where will the power go? Obviously it’ll go to the Lower Mainland where more than 2 million people live almost 2,000 km from the power’s source. Does that make sense? Clearly it doesn’t.

So where does this leave us? There are only two possibilities. To power up a LNG plant even though not a single one has gone ahead in BC yet and the current economic climate makes any LNG plant in the province highly unlikely in the near future and maybe ever. The other possibility is exporting power to Alberta where most electricity is produced by burning coal. There is just one little problem with this. Alberta hasn’t asked for our power.
And where does this leave Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer of BC? In a very deep financial hole if we go ahead with Site C which is an economically foolish and environmentally destructive project.   


 Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who remembers well waiting for Columbia River benefits.







Speaking of Culls and Translocation

Cranbrook Courier Feb. 25, 1970

A far cry from how this issue is dealt with in 2016!



Friday, January 15, 2016

On the Culling of Urban Deer

Editorial

So Cranbrook is thrown into the spotlight once more over a deer cull. This is somewhat ironic in light of the ‘destination marketing’ that has become the latest buzz phrase being used for the town. Regardless of individual support or opposition to a cull, this publicity does not enhance Cranbrook’s reputation in the rest of Canada.

Much of the foofaraw might have been avoided if the decision to hold a cull in the same year as experimental relocation for Mule deer was being tried, had been relayed to the public.  Time and place did not have be published. In the near past another council got itself into an unfavourable position, not because of the decision to cull but because a decision was made in-camera.  It seems this council has not learned from past history.  If the reason was to avoid interference with the process – well, it didn’t work did it?  On the surface it appears as though the taxpayers were deliberately being misled by much being made of translocation but nothing being openly made public about a cull.   It has been shown in the past that 70% of those who cast votes in a survey wanted to see a deer cull. With apparent support for the City in this matter, there should not have been too much to be afraid of.  Indeed, an informed public might have alerted the authorities to any potential problems with the process.

There is a common thread of secrecy in the matter of a deer cull and the reluctance of city administration to be forthcoming about the ups and downs of the Idlewild Reservoir.  Taxpayers were informed in 2015 that due to potential danger of the dam giving way, the lake needed to be drained.  Since that time however, the level of the lake has fluctuated considerably from being almost empty to full and overflowing down the spillway.  A locally based non-profit society with the well-being of our water ways, riparian zones, urban wildlife and citizens as their mandate had to go to a Ministry for explanation as to why and what was happening.

When the majority of citizens only want the best for their city, it is to the detriment of Council if taxpayers are treated as less than intelligent enough to understand basic situations in their own community. Many items that used to be on the public council agenda no longer appear as such. One can only assume they are dealt with in-camera.

If Council has confidence in its decision making, there should be no need to withhold information about issues, which closely affect its citizens.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

What's Happening....

January 13 - February 5th

Cranbrook Arts
features
'Up All Night' Exhibit
by Mt Baker Grade 10, 11 12 students.
1013 Baker St.

January 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

Key City Theatre
'Crimes of the Heart' 
directed by Paul Kershaw
Tickets $20
www.keycitytheatre.com

January 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30

Tennessee William's 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'
Cranbrook Community Theatre
Studio Stage Door
Tickets Lotus Books
8:00pm

Monday January 18th

Cranbrook Garden Club
Anglican Church Hall
Pot Luck and AGM
6:30pm
For more information
April at 779-517-1222

Wednesday January 20th

Go Go Grannies
Travelogue with Jeff and Linda Williams
"Normandy"
College of the Rockies Lecture Theatre, 7:00pm

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Clock Tower clock now running electronically


Don't worry the clock is not now digital as quoted by mistake by Mayor Pratt in the Townsman, (Jan 11, 2016) but it is now running electronically. The face of the clock remains the same.

From CBC

The Cranbrook History Centre is thrilled about the latest addition to their collection: the gears from the clock in downtown Cranbrook.
According to volunteer Dave Humphrey, the clock parts have quite a bit of history behind them.
He says the clock tower, built between 1911 and 1912, was originally part of a post office, which was demolished in 1971. The city was offered the building for use as a library, which it declined.

"They were also offered the internal clock parts, which they turned down," Humphrey told Radio West host Rebecca Zandbergen. "Fortunately, the fellow who was demolishing the post office decided to protect the clock parts. He covered them in grease, and stored them out at Fort Steele."
"And then, in the 1980s, the local Rotary Club decided to rebuild a clock tower downtown … and re-install the clock parts in the clock tower."
Because winter weather caused some problems for the mechanical parts, the clock was switched over to an electronic system. However, the mechanical parts are still in the tower, and the history centre can wind up the mechanism for tour groups.

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Cranbrook clock tower parts still tickin' after history group takes them

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cranbrook Hub for Refugees News

CHR
The Cranbrook Hub for Refugees

Almost 40 people showed up Wednesday at Christ Church Anglican for the first public meeting of the Cranbrook Hub for Refugees (CHR).

Several more donations were also received to sponsor a refugee family in Cranbrook from Syria or elsewhere in the world.

“It’s extremely gratifying to see so much support for this cause and it will go a long way towards seeing that we’re ultimately successful in bringing a refugee family here,” said CHR Co-Chair Gerry Warner.

The group, which formed in early October, has already raised almost  $20,000, which is enough to get the group certified as an official refugee sponsor by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

CHR Finance Director and Treasurer Antoine Beurskens told the crowd this is approximately half the money required to support a family of four for a year, which is what the IRCC sponsorship agreement requires. But CHR will try to raise more money to “top up” this amount beyond the social assistance level which is the minimum required by IRCC.

CHR Co-Chair Bonnie Spence-Vinge said now that the group has raised the $15,000 minimum to be certified by IRCC the next major step is to develop a settlement plan to prepare for the refugee family’s arrival expected sometime in the spring.
“The settlement plan will detail what CHR has to do to orient and support the refugee family during the 12-month sponsorship period,” she said. “It will also provide a framework for working through the many details of who will do what, when and where with the resources we have.”

The task before the family’s arrival will be to create outreach teams headed by volunteers with experience and expertise in areas of support that the refugees will need,” she said. These will include short and long-term housing, furniture for the home or apartment, clothing, employment assistance and job training, ESL education, health and trauma counselling, cultural education and such everyday tasks as shopping assistance and child care. she said.

A volunteer sign-up sheet was circulated at the meeting and signed by most of the people there. It’s hoped that many who signed the sheet will show up at the next CHR meeting Jan. 14 to volunteer as outreach team leaders, Spence-Vinge said.
“It’s important to remember that this is a partnership with the church, the general public and the government and it will only succeed if all three get involved,” she said.
The Thursday Jan. 14 CHR meeting will be held 7 p.m. at Christ Church Anglican at 46 – 13th Ave. Meetings generally last a little more than an hour and everyone is welcome.


For more information, contact:
Bonnie Spence-Vinge – (250) 426-4274.
Gerry Warner – (250) 489-3271.