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, May 21, 2017

There’s only one thing left to happen in the Trump saga now, “Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

There’s only one thing left to happen in the Trump saga now
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
Drip, drip, drip. How much longer can this go on? It’s like a Chinese water torture (no offence meant to the world’s Chinese citizens) but Donald Trump can’t go on indefinitely like this, a fresh crisis almost every day.
Something is going to break, and when it does, American politics will never be the same.
I can almost hear you saying thank God for that.
Actually, as a retired journalist, I should hope to see Trump around for a long time yet. There’s never been a copy machine like him. Just turn on your Twitter feed every morning and voila, another outrageous story! Does the man never sleep? Maybe this is a nightmare and we’re all part of it. But don’t kid yourself. This can’t go on forever. There’s a reckoning coming and it could come sooner than you think because the supposed “dealmaker” will be off the continent this week on his first official trip abroad to the Middle East, the most explosive political powder keg in the world. Let’s hope he’s not carrying any matches. Mind you, his tongue usually suffices for that.
Trump’s trip includes Saudi Arabia where oil still talks. Then Jerusalem after blurting out some classified Israeli intelligence to Russian officials in Washington last week. Can’t you see his handlers just cringing when he comes face-to-face with the angry Israeli leaders? What will he say this   time? Israel should give back its conquered territories on the West Bank to the Palestinians? Don’t laugh! He’s meeting with Palestinian leaders too and he’s always up for a deal even though a “deal” in this situation could trigger another Middle East war. Does Trump realize that? You have to wonder after what he said to the Russians in the Oval Office. Or does he just see it as another episode in his reality TV show where, when things went off the rails, he would simply say “you’re fired.” Perish the thought when you’re dealing with the nuclear-armed Israelis or the Palestinians and their terrorist allies. Such situations call for the delicate arts of diplomacy at the highest and most strategic level. Trump delicate? Trump strategic? I leave that to you.
Then at the apex of this ill-timed tour when Trump is supposed to be displaying his international bona fides to the world’s leaders he comes face-to-face with Pope Francis. Can you imagine a more bizarre encounter? On the one hand you have the Vicar of Christ, a learned, compassionate and erudite cleric, who leads the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and President Donald Trump, who once said he doesn’t pray for forgiveness for his mistakes and referred to the sacrament of the Eucharist as “my little wine” and “my little cracker.” And, of course, you recall what he has said about women.  
Will the world be the same after Trump’s tour? Let’s hope so.
And, of course, you noticed what the Trump administration did just prior to his tour. It sent Canada and Mexico 90 days formal notice that it will be re-opening the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Not that it was a big surprise, but the timing was obviously meant to take the heat off the disastrous week Trump had just endured in Washington. The old trick. When the heat is too hot near the stove, you get out of Dodge. How transparent can it get?
But something else occurred last week. Something very ominous for Trump. Congress and the punditry began to openly utter what had only been quietly whispered until now. But it’s now being buzzed all over the Beltway.  Impeachment! I don’t know if Trump is superstitious but if I were him there’s one place in Washington I’d avoid in the future.
The Watergate Hotel. 

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who remembers Watergate well and saw the movie.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Political change is in the air in BC but what will it be?

Political change is in the air in BC but what will it be?

“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

A political junkie’s paradise! That’s what BC has become now and this melodrama is going to continue for weeks and maybe more. But that’s going to depend on the players and you can bet all three will be in locked rooms this weekend with the curtains pulled as they meet with their anxious advisors pondering their next move.

And small wonder because the next few weeks are going to be critical in BC political history because they will undoubtedly shape our political future and could result in a sea change in the BC political narrative. The last time we had a minority government was 1952 when Social Credit came to the fore. And less than a year after they were elected, the maverick Socreds under WAC Bennett called a snap election and won a majority which led to more than 30 years of Socred rule. And when you drill down deeper, there are some obvious parallels between the situation then and now.

Back in 1952, BC, like the rest of the world, had finally shaken off the devastating effects of World War II and was ready for change in a big way. A coalition of Conservatives and Liberals had been in power for almost a decade, but was becoming unglued because of infighting and corruption. Infrastructure was quite primitive back then with few good provincial roads and few big industries, a situation ripe to be exploited by a business man like Bennett with dollar signs in his eyes and “Flying Phil” Gaglardi, who had never met a bulldozer he didn’t like. And the rest, like the old cliché says, was history as the province erupted into more than 50 years of road building, dam building, pulp mill building, pipelines– you name it. But that was then and this is now so what’s the connection?

Let me explain.

As a famous prime minister once said with arched eyebrows: “because it’s 2015,” Well, it’s 2017 now, and as Justin Trudeau was trying to get across, TIMES HAVE CHANGED! In other words, the province’s primary needs now are no longer roads, saw mills and mega-developments. They’re still needed, of course, but they’re not our primary needs anymore. Our infrastructure is largely built, but what hasn’t been built yet is the capacity to deal with what our infrastructure has wrought.

And what is that, you rightfully ask? Let me tell you because it’s not rocket science.

Beautiful BC has the highest children’s poverty rate in Canada. We also have some of the most expensive housing in all the world and even professional families find it next to impossible to own a detached house in the Lower Mainland. Since fentanyl became available, many – far too many – of our residents have been dying on our streets like flies from drug overdoses. Even though we export more lumber to the US than any other province our landscape has been disfigured by clear cut logging from Nanaimo to Cranbrook. Maybe it’s time we set a stumpage formula that truly reflected the value of our precious forests as has been argued for years by the US where timber pricing is set by the free market. And need I say that BC is being adversely affected by climate change like everywhere else  

I could go on, but I think you get my drift.

So, what am I really saying? BC is now a mature post-industrial society where most jobs are in the service sector and not resource exploitation. And once again, as in 1952, BC is standing on the cusp of cataclysmic changes happening all over the world that cry out for a different kind of politics. Which of the two mainline parties is most open to  practising politics differently? I’d argue neither. One is for the corporations and the other the unions, which is really the same thing.

Regardless of which old-line party forms a government, that government will rely heavily on the Green Party to survive. If Green Leader Andrew Weaver is smart he’ll resist the temptation to join the governing party and instead keep his caucus independent and avoid being sullied by the old fashioned and old thinking mainline parties. And that will make Weaver virtually a shadow premier with immense power to shape legislation to his party’s liking.

And maybe some day Premier of BC.


Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who has covered BC politics for almost 40 years and has never seen such an intriguing election result.




Friday, May 5, 2017

The issue that the BC election is really about, “Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

The issue that the BC election is really about
“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner
You know what this election is about? No, it’s not about “free enterprise vs Godless socialism” as was so often said back in the 1960s during the Premier William “Wacky” Bennett era.
Nor is it about the black cloud that supposedly fell over BC in the 1990s, that caused the economy to collapse and people flee to Alberta to avoid catastrophe as a more recent Bennett is so fond of saying.
What it’s really about is the BC environment and how the political parties of today would use that environment to create a better life for the people of the province –  regardless of our politics – or abuse the land for short term gain at the expense of future generations. So, no, I’m not going to engage in doomsday scenarios about what may happen if party A or party B gets elected. But I am going to provide you with an example of a political decision that will sully the land we all know and love and would make BC a lesser place if it’s allowed to go ahead.
The proposed $8 billion Site C dam is far from the Kootenays but like the dams of the Kootenays, will flood a huge swath of prime agricultural land in short supply in the North and provide a whack of electric power most of which is likely to be exported to the US to be used by Donald Trump and his administration.
Doesn’t that make you feel warm and good all over? If it does, you should do a little more thinking.
The 1,100 megawatts of power to be produced by Site C would flood more than 6,000 acres of prime farming land and would be the biggest exclusion of agricultural land from the Agricultural Land Reserve in BC history! Yes, it would also provide power for 450,000 homes, but there’s barely 50,000 people living in isolated northeastern BC now and Site C power is not needed. So, where’s it going to go? It will go where the market dictates and that will be the US and sold at a loss, according to many energy experts. And who will pay for the loss? You know the answer.
So where do the major parties stand on Site C? With the Liberals, it’s full speed ahead and indeed they’ve already started to build after excluding it from review by the BC Utilities Commission, an underhanded move that is being fought in the courts by First Nations people and area farmers and supported by a group of more than 200 leading Canadian scientists who wrote a letter to Premier Clark condemning the project.  
And where do the other parties stand on Site C?
The NDP would halt the project, at least temporarily, and refer it to the BCUC where it was supposed to be reviewed in the first place. Only the Green Party favors outright cancellation of this  unnecessary and expensive project, calling it “environmentally, economically and socially reckless.” Not to mention illegal under the former rules for dam approval in BC.
So, who cares, you may be tempted to say. Well, I for one care because I don’t trust a government that breaks the rules for a project they want to push through. If they do it for Site C where will they do it next? For LNG development whether it’s needed or not? For pipeline development? Or to close schools as they’ve done all over the province or tried to do? To close hospitals as they did in Kimberley? Where does it end? This is a matter of trust as much as it’s a matter of politics and on the trust scale I find the BC Liberal actions troubling.
However, after almost 40 years of reporting on BC politics, I don’t particularly trust any party. They’ve all broken their promises and bent the rules when it suited them. So, this time out I’m really agonizing, but I do think our treatment of the environment is the key issue that underlies all the other issues. And thinking that way leads to only one conclusion.
It’s time for a change.

Gerry Warner is a retired reporter who urges everyone to vote for the party of their choice on May 9.