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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Empire 2012

For a brief while it looked like there would be no controversy over Empire Days this year but that was all undone, and rightfully so, by Chief Doug White twittering.

For me, being involved in trying to see the name of Empire Days changed to something less offensive for almost a decade, I had held off saying anything this year.  Usually I would have written a letter to the editor or tried to stir the pot in other ways.

The latter of the two following stories from the Daily News and the comments attached, mine included, show that this is a hot issue and will remain so until the name is changed.  As for next year, plans are already in the works:)

My comment:
"It was refreshing this year not to have letters to the editor or protesters decrying the origins of Empire Days and criticizing the society because it brought back memories of Great Britain's imperial past and the treatment of British Columbia's First Nations. Undoubtedly, these are part of our history but that's all - history." Empire was a part of our History and not a part to be celebrated. Kudos to the Empire Days Society and Lions Society's for putting on a great parade but lets do it in Celebration of Victoria Day as does everywhere else in the commonwealth except Nanaimo & Cumberland. The abuses against First Nations across the world were perpetuated by the Empire and in many countries these abuses continue. Empire to is a "part of our history but that's all - history." It should be quite simple for the Society to maintain its name but the City does not have to perpetuate the use of Empire as a holiday in Nanaimo.
One of my comments:
"There's a lot of admirable stuff we all have to celebrate and that's what we should be celebrating, not the ugly parts of our past and history."  Well said Chief White!  Mr. Linder your group can be admired for the efforts you all do to promote Victoria Day in Nanaimo but no one really knows that because it is held under the guise of 'Empire Days.' If as you say,  "We still have Queen Victoria's birthday, that's what we're really celebrating," or celebrating the Cities heritage then change the name. This City has far more heritage to celebrate than that of Empire..
For other comments on this subject view my facebook page

Communication or Spin

Some really thoughtful comments on this story
Editorial: City communications position has become untenable

In the TV news story mentioned in the Editorial I was mentioned as a social advocate, a tad more comprehensive and appropriate description than as just a homelessness advocate; though the latter is my passion. Mentioned also in the editorial was that the writer stated, "Forgetting for a moment how preposterous it is to think that scrapping the $140,000 communications office could substantively assist our community's homeless people," In response I supplied this little tidbit of info; actually if the $140,000 was put towards rent subsidies of $250 per month the city could provide 11.5 people yearly subsidies for 4 years. 
Suffice it to say that I agree this position should not be going forward and as stated in a previous post if the Mayor or anyone on council feel they do not want to communicate directly with citizens then they should resign.  In the case of city staff; managers should be able and willing to communicate to the public, at least in their area of specialization.  If they feel they cannot, look for other work. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Moral Dilemma

If you have the patience check out the Council Video from May 14th, in particular the discussions on 11-m. Revised planNanaimo Advisory Committee Mandate & Objectives and 11-r. Promotion of Municipal Tap Water.  Really would like to hear others opinions.  It helps if you have read the attendant reports in the agenda on both items.

Also as usual check out question period for more amusement.
This was one of the most painful meetings I have had to sit through in years and while I like George Anderson as a person some of his comments last night baffled me.  Once you have listened to Georges Comments i.e.; we need a staff report on declaring water a human right to see what the ramifications would be, then check out his letter to the editor.  Very amusing

Agenda: Council Agenda & Reports May 14, 2012

Councillor George Anderson - Letter to the Editor  As a city councillor it is my job to make evidence-based decisions, not decisions based on just my moral beliefs. There is a place for morality, but evidence should always supersede.” 

I beg to differ; Hitler & Stalin could offer all the evidence needed to commit the atrocities they did and we saw what the result was.  Even in the debate around Smart Meters in BC, if you listened to the evidence of BC Hydro one would think they are great, we have seen how well that one has gone.
Morals can and should play a big part in decision making.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Food Security?

The federal conservative party want to deny that there are issues with Food Security in Canada and yet we know for a fact that Food Banks are seeing ever increasing numbers. The Nanaimo 7-10 Club Society which provides a free breakfast and bag lunch to those in need saw its numbers increase by 18% last year and donations from individuals drop by 31%; tell me there is no problem.

It is a double edged sword for agencies like the Nanaimo 7-10 Club when it comes to cost of living impacts.  Not only do their costs rise but the number of people needing the service does as well and many individuals who may have donated or want to donate now find themselves unable to do so.

Utter Lack of Communication

Quite frankly Mayor Ruttan and any of those on council that feel they are too inundated with calls from the public should resign.  This is a part of their job and they are quite well paid to do it. There are many more out there who would gladly take on the positions and gladly communicate with Nanaimo Citizenry.

This sent to the Daily News as a potential letter to the editor:

Re: Search begins for new city communications manager.
I’m really sorry to say this but the comments, being so ludicrous, made by our Mayor would seem to justify the need in this community for a communication officer.
On behalf of the public, media and self-interest groups I would personally like to apologize for our making the job of Mayor & Council so taxing by inundating you with our many questions. We truly feel your pain. By all means feel free to add a propaganda; no wait I mean ‘Communication Officer’ to help allay your tremendous workload. Again I sincerely apologize for my and others behavior.
The taxpayers of Nanaimo pay, and pay quite well, for Mayor & Council as well as city staff to answer their questions. I suppose if we were to offer Mayor & Council another 6% raise then perhaps answering the public’s questions might be more amenable.
Stories and my comments on the D/N site
Search begins for new city communication manager

“The City of Nanaimo might have saved on the costs of a new communications manger if not for the "mind-boggling" number of questions from the media and public, according to Mayor John Ruttan.”
"So much time is wasted answering questions, it's ludicrous," Ruttan said. "If we didn't get the phone calls from the public and media and self-interest groups, then we probably would not need this position."  Now this is what's really mind-boggling;  I suppose if we were to offer Mayor & Council another 6% raise then perhaps answering the public’s questions might be more amenable.

Editorial: Communication Manager a Bad Omen
Communications manager a bad omen

"As much as city hall may need a communications manager, it's hard to believe from the recently released job posting that any good can come of it."   I can hear Mayor Ruttan's comments now, 'Well this just goes to show the need for a communications manager.  Staff can't even prepare a straight forward job description without it being interpreted as Mayor & Council looking for a propagandist.  This of course couldn't be further from the truth,’ Yeah right.  This Council has continually proven that transparency is not a priority. With 12 or 13 in camera meetings to date in 2012 we could be looking at twice the number held in 2011.

Unemployment or not?

Unemployment lowest in a decade?

If one were to add in those not looking for work, between 7,000 and 10,000 the true unemployment rate would be closer to 15% or higher and not the 4.8% reported. The way these stats are determined, cold calls to 150 phone numbers, is very suspect and really does not make the prospects of finding a job any brighter. As stated in the Daily News " data comes with a standard warning the Statistics Canada that it should be used "with caution," due to the small sample size."

Just think if the stats were true then former CEO of NEDCorp would be right in saying high unemployment in Nanaimo is an Urban Myth. Perhaps we should give her her job back? Yeah right!

T'is a fact that 40% of jobs in Nanaimo are part time and one cannot live and support their family with only part time work.  If things on the employment scene were really that good then why is it that meal programs and food banks are seeing huge increases in the number of folk needing their services?
News Items:

Monday, May 21, 2012

NEDCorp season finale

So in the season finale of the NEDCorp sage Ms Cudahy has left the stage and is off to what will no doubt be greener pastures in Ontario due to the $75,000.00 severance package given to her by the Board of NEDCorp.  This is a travesty in a long line of Nanaimo travesty's.  Where else would someone who completed less than a year of employment be given such a golden handshake?

The taxpayers of Nanaimo deserve answers!  Who on the board of NEDCorp sanctioned such a payout and why?  Will the Progress Nanaimo Board, which includes members of council demand answers?  As taxpayers who fund NEDCorp we need and have a right to know.

We often hear from a number of sources, Chamber of Commerce, Young Professionals, the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association and others, that we need to focus on the positives in Nanaimo and that the Naysayers, which of course would include me, by their very pessimism are responsible for the bad image others have of Nanaimo.  Bollocks I say!  It is asinine decisions such as this that colour the image of Nanaimo abroad.

As long as we have those in positions of power that have a philosophy of what is in it for me, and not what is in it for the whole of the community, things will not change.  It is the naysayers and ner-do-wells that will continue, because of their love for the community, to try to inform the broader public and keep those accountable from burying the truth. Without them the community would be far less off.

The NEDCorp Saga will no doubt continue until answers are received; we can only hope that lessons learned will not be repeated in the future.

New Items:
Editorial: NEDCorp must keep focus on mandate

Snuneymuxw First Nation

Letter sent to papers regarding the recent Snuneymuxw Treaty Conference as published.  I used some of my commentary below to formulate the letter.  Bulletin: Recognizing treaty rights strengthens communities   Daily News: Recognizing treaty will benefit all of Nanaimo

I recently attended the Douglas Treaties conference and have to say as a conversation regarding treaties this was most enlightening.  It also was enlightening to see that only one member of our City Council attended the conference and while the Mayor of Lantzville was present our own was not.  Although the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation is having a bit of a tough go it even had a number of board and staff attend.  There was also no representation from the Chamber of commerce.  Do they not get that if we can improve the economic outlook for first nations it will also benefit the broader community and in doing so open up many joint opportunities for both.

Canadians like to think of themselves and the Country being a truly multicultural society tolerant of the race, religion and cultural beliefs of others.  While this may be far truer today Canada’s past, like that of many countries, has not always been reflective of tolerance and in fact has been blatantly discriminatory not just to immigrants but to its own peoples as well.  In fact, if truth be told, it has been far more discriminatory for far longer to its first peoples.

I grew up in a home with a father who was devoutly racist; an equal opportunist who would routinely devalue anyone who was not white and of English ancestry.  At an early age I can often remember him relegating all of Canada’s First Nations to the category ‘drunk Indian’, 'lazy and good for nothing.'  At an early age I also learned to disregard these comments as I had by then seen far more drunk white folk than people of any other race.    
I am often disheartened by the lack of empathy and borderline, sometimes actual, racist statements published in comments to news stories on the internet when it comes to First Nations and Immigrants. Truth be told we all have an immigrant background and should value our own and our shared cultures and history.
For me I have seen the good and the bad in all races.  I value all for what I can learn but I truly respect the honesty and integrity of those that strive to promote the betterment of others.
It is a testament to the strength and fortitude of the Snuneymuxw and other F/N's people that much of their culture and language has survived the attempts of governments to erase and assimilate.  By recognizing treaty rights and working with the Snuneymuxw towards their economic well being we will ultimately strengthen the economic wellbeing of Nanaimo as a whole. It is indeed time to build a future together.
If folk in Nanaimo have been paying attention they will be aware of recent news items regarding the Snuneymuxw and treaty rights.  A number of workshops and information sessions have been held which culminated in a conference at Vancouver Island University.    Word is some of the speakers comments will be posted.

A History of abuse:
Recent News Items: Sneneymuxw (IF these links do not work they can be cut and pasted to google)
Snuneymuxw First Nation
Douglas Treaties

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation - Annual General Meeting
May 14th, 3:30pm 104 Front St.

I believe I mentioned in a previous post about NEDCorp that I felt the CEO Susan Cudahy would likely resign or be forced out within a month and it could be I was right. If so it should be brought up at the AGM.
Heard from a somewhat relieable source that this would be happening and will be very curious as to what severance she will receive for just over six months work. In some ways it will be too bad if I am correct because she really has not gotten much of a chance to prove herself.

Yes she made a cople of doozy mistakes but I think it was her treatment by the public that may be responsible in the event she does leave. From what I have heard she has been accosted in public while with her child and messages of a not too flattering nature have been left for her as well as forwarded through her daughter.

Even for Nanaimo, if what I have heard is true, that is a level I would not advocate anyone sinking to.

Regardless of the above people should show up for the AGM. This is a taxpayer funded corporation to the tune of approx. $1.4 million and as such, despite their being a progress review board, it behooves us to keep an open eye to what the corporation is doing.

More Secret than ever?

Was having a chat with my friend Ron Bolin the other day, in fact there are a few of us that get together Saturday mornings to discuss municipal issues and goings on, and had brought up that we seem to be having far more 'In Camera' meetings than usual. It is also important to note that these meetings predominantly fall under sec 90(1) of the community charter, link below.

Key word in this section being, “‘may’ have to be closed." Have written other posts re this so am not going to go on other than to say council opts for the choice to have these meetings, under sec90(1) held out of the public eye.
Any who in our discussion I was wondering how to find out if there were more In Camera meetings and it appears Ron has delved into the question and come up with some answers and a very interesting graph that can be seen at

Seems to me that at some point in the not too distant past there was mention of council setting a timeline as to when "In Camera" meeting information would be posted; guess they forgot:)

While we seem to be making inroads into having council become more transparent, i.e. taping FPCOW meetings, council seems to also have found the means to do the opposite.

While we seem to be making small inroads into having council become more transparent i.e. taping FPCOW meetings, council seems to also have found the means to do the opposite.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Transparency again

At the council meeting on Monday the April 30th first three readings for "COUNCIL PROCEDURE AMENDMENT BYLAW 2012 NO. 7060.02" (General text amendments and amendments to meeting procedures) were on the agenda.  One of the proposed changes is to move delegations pertaining to non-agenda items at regular council meetings to FPCOW meetings. As I have mentioned previously the downside of moving these delegations was, at the time, that FPCOW meetings were not taped and uploaded to the city website and as such these delegations would not be able to get the word out to the broader community.

If you have been reading these posts then you will recall that at the last FPCOW meeting Councillor George Anderson had made a motion that while the meetings were held at the Shaw Auditorium they be videoed and uploaded.  The motion passed. What the motion did not allow for was the taping of FPCOW meetings once they are moved to the new city annex.

At question period on Monday the 30th I asked that council look into the options for and costs of implementing the means to tape meetings at the new annex.  Councillor Brennan, whom if you remember was one of the three council members to vote against having FPCOW meetings taped at the Shaw Auditorium, actually made a motion for staff to look at the options and interestingly enough councillor Anderson was the only one to vote against the motion.

While Councillor Anderson’s dissenting vote makes little sense to me; as by looking at the options and if choosing to implement it is easier and less costly to the taxpayer to do so while the annex is being built than after.  In asking after the meeting his rationale was to wait and see how many people actually choose to view the meetings videoed while at Shaw Auditorium.  As I say easier to implement earlier than later.

As for councillor Brennan’s rationale on choosing to make the motion; while I can’t say exactly my guess is that despite originally not wanting FPCOW meetings taped it makes her look good in the public eye to make the motion she did. It is important to remember that even though staff will look at options council is in no way obligated to implement anything.  I will be curious to see how his plays out.

If, as I think we would all agree, openness and transparency of our municipally elected officials is a priority; then it is up to the citizenry to take advantage of opportunities presented.  Once council starts posting FPCOW videoed meetings I will share the link; it is up to you whether you choose to watch them or not. 

If you believe as I do that both regular and FPCOW meetings should be available for the public to view online then please let Council know.