Justice and Dignity

Did you get sick at the headline that the bodies of 215 indigenous children were discovered buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School? Good. Its awful, and its yet another genocidal act that Canada has inflicted on our first peoples as they tried to assimilate them into Canada. Canada didn’t include first nations cultures and languages, and to a large degree, it still doesn’t.

I’ve already had it white-splained to me that ‘there’s no way to know yet how these children died that they would have been buried there’.

Just. Fucking. Stop.

We don’t even know who is buried there. These were children taken from their family homes and ‘raised’ in a religious state-sanctioned residential school. If there were records kept, nobody knows where they’re located.

Of course we don’t know how these kids died. But here we are, 215 children buried in the dirt, in unmarked graves that nobody has seen fit to discover until now. It sounds like some powerful people knew shady things were up and didn’t want the truth to be known.

Well the truth will be known, and not just to the Creator (of whatever faith you accept). Because nothing less than the justice and dignity of a name and cause of death will come close.

On the other, more significant manner. Its genocide. We’ve been killing our first nations ever since we got here aboard wooden ships from Europe and beyond. Say it with me, “genocide” and “systemic racism”.

I want to say that we’ve made progress. Have we? I mean, we don’t scoop otherwise healthy and happy kids from their households to “educate” them in church run schools (to indoctrinate them out of their traditions and home-spoken languages), but we sure do treat them shitty.

We’re still in the habit of telling first nations how to act, how to law, how to career, how to tradition and generally manage their affairs – in societies that managed for tens of thousands of years, long before white folks like my ancestors…thank you very much.

If truth and reconciliation, the UNDRIP are to mean something, then we have to change.

Our first nations don’t need to be told how to grieve this horrible news. Sadly, they’ve heard this sort of thing before. Its not my place or yours to manage their grieve and anger of this to mitigate ‘our feelings’.

First nations are more than capable of self governing in Canada, they’re more than able to manage their lands and act within their rights.

They’re able to do these things because they’ve been telling us that all this time. If you’re listening.

Are you?

I am trying.

I mourn with you. I am angry for you. I hurt for you. And I am truly sorry that Canada has done this to you.

My2bits

Just when you thought the BC Liberals couldn’t sink any lower..

President Joe Biden just signed a bill that allows foreign flagged cruise ships to bypass a foreign port on their way to another US port. In english, this means that a cruise ship is no longer going to stop in Vancouver or Victoria on their way from Seattle to Alaska.

This is meant as a temporary measure thanks to the Canadian federal cruise ship ban at our ports here in response to the pandemic.

This is truly a setback. Our Premier didn’t think it would come to this and had misjudged the resolve of Alaska based legislators who really wanted their cruise ship industry back.

So be it. Temporary, we’re told.

On cue it seems, the provincial opposition party launches a salvo at the NDP effectively blaming the provincial government here for losing 20k jobs.

What.

I get the partisan sniping, etc. But what the BC Liberals have done is a willful misread on what happened to fire a grossly partisan political cheap shot. They were cheering on this bad news as a win. Who does this?

They do.

I mean, what’s the position here for the BC Liberals? That the NDP should have pressured Ottawa into a premature port re-opening for cruise ship despite them being known incubators when an outbreak happens; now with covid19? In a rush to score a political cheap shot, they’ve revealed themselves to be horrible people.

In the last term of office, the minority government of the NDP/Green CASA deal, the BC Liberals behaved themselves relatively well once the pandemic set in. They knew how dangerous and politically stupid it would be to try and politicize pandemic related events. Free from the constraints of a minority parliament, idiotology pours on in from the BC Liberal caucus.

The Federal government put in place a cruise ship ban in 2020 as the pandemic set it. It was renewed in February of 2021 to last another year.

We’re not out of this pandemic and neither are the west coastal US States (including Alaska). By pushing for this legislation, they’re taking their own risks; cruising was halted for a reason. But I don’t answer for them nor will I defend them.

But the BC Liberals have to answer here. They tried to push a regional reopening last year just as the initial wave subsided; a proposal that if accepted would have seen astronomical infection rates as we weren’t ready for that. No vaccine, and the full strength of the virus was just beginning to build.

Imagine if we had taken that bad advice then? Or been pressured into pressuring Ottawa into a premature re-opening of our ports now? West coast ports aren’t the only ones suffering; this is a huge blow to the east coast tourist trade too. Halifax gains billions of dollars in tourist spending cash that sustain the city’s businesses and jobs. They’re hurting too.

The BC Liberals would blame John Horgan for that.

I want this pandemic gone like anyone else, but I still take it seriously. Its not as if by reopening every business and restoring concerts and every venue that covid19 goes away – it does not. If we’re not better prepared, such a premature re-opening would turn to a catastrophic shut down; and unnecessary loss of life.

Todd Stone and his BC Liberal opposition front bench are as useless in offering constructive criticism of government policy as they were when he was in government.

Taking some ghoulish victory lap as they seem to be doing on this cruise ship bypass law from America because it politically hurts the NDP is about as bad as it gets. Todd Stone needs to resign from politics and never return.

What a shameful, juvenile display he and his party have put on. May they never govern this province again.

My2bits.

This isn’t sitting well with me. At all.

Before I get into the gears of my post, I want to be clear that I am no expert on first nation reconciliation and UNDRIP; certainly as it pertains to natural resources on land controlled by a first nation.

I also want to stress that I am not first nation. My family lineage extends into northern Europe so far that a recent DNA test from one of those ancestry-type websites proved me to be over 75% viking.

So what is upsetting me? The seemingly illegal blockades and protests at Fairy Creek on the south Island here in BC. Why is that? Because the first nation who controls the land has signed deals with a forestry company and government – in a joint decision making exercise that is largely consistent with how deals ought to be done under BC’s UNDRIP legislation.

Where did this begin? The Pacheedaht leadership signed a deal.

Enter the environmentalists.

To be sure, many of BC’s more well known movements have large buy-in from various first nation peoples. There are strong cases to be made about protecting the land from gross exploitation and from damaging plots of land that have major cultural and/or spiritual significance to a particular first nation. I get that..I might not understand why, but its not my place to adjudicate the legitimacy of such a claim.

The argument from environmentalists is that the plots of land subject to a logging proposal are in old-growth areas. They claim that it is the last stand of major old growth forested areas on the island. I’ll take that as granted only because I don’t have the information to dispute it.

What I have learned is that from the 1200 hectares of Fairy Creek, 200 hectares is accessible to Teal Jones (the forest company) but only plan to log 20 hectares.

Worlds collide.

The The Pacheedaht have clearly indicated that they wish the project to go ahead as they can rightly use the revenue for the benefit of their community. UNDRIP and reconciliation means that they should and must have a shared decision making role in this. So why are environmentalists determined to stop them from catching up here?

When the protesters refused to dismantle their blockades, the Pacheedaht and Teal Jones sought out a court injunction to remove them.

Before the enforcement order was granted, the elected and hereditary chief signed a letter demanding the protesters and other 3rd party activists leave the area. This matter itself has drawn criticism as it turns out that the Pacheedaht and government were in communications with this letter; and the protesters have seized upon this to de-legitimize the first nation’s demand.

Now, I don’t know what was said between government and Pacheedaht officials, but I can reasonably assure you that if the first nation leadership felt they were being manipulated or cajoled into writing certain things in their statement, they likely would have gone full-court press with outrage. For the environmentalist side of this, to attempt to nullify what their elected and hereditary leadership say – well that’s a whole side of colonialism that I didn’t see coming.

The Pacheedaht have their own negotiators and legal team who have served them well, and UNDRIP calls us to respect the shared decision making that rolls out of that process. EVEN if you don’t like it.

There are some privileged white protesters who come from their well-off, upper middle class neighborhood in the big city who would demand a total halt to logging regardless of the damage done to the small communities who rely on the jobs and revenue from this renewable resource.

There is an attempt to paint this in the same light as the 1993 ‘war in the woods’ that had everyone upset and most certainly did not have first nations buy-in.

Forestry has gone through major changes in the last three decades and is still in flux. It isn’t the job producer it used to be.

We’re at a place where more and more the first nations rising up to take part in an economy and decision making process that has excluded them for our entire history of European ‘settlement’ of the west. A decision is made to log and process less than 2% of the trees in the Fairy Creek basin – which is traditional territory of the Pacheedaht.

I’m pro-NDP and make no apologies for that. I know that many in our party and support base are philosophically opposed to clear cut logging and logging old growth forests. But many of us also are big supporters of UNDRIP and reconciliation; doing the right thing that is. The Pacheedaht forestry deal might end up doing all of the above; logging in old growth areas and a business deal struck by the first nation in question.

The thing about respecting the independence and the right of first nations to make their own arrangements and deals as the Pacheedaht have done is key to UNDRIP, even if we don’t personally like what that might look like. After centuries of being held back and told “you can’t do that” by powerful white leaders, I’m certain that they’ve rightly heard enough from you and I.

To close, I’m attaching a set of images and screenshots related to this file; more powerful white people telling the Pacheedaht what to do.

My2bits

Criticizing covid19 countermeasures should have a test applied

In order for you to have a valid argument to make on covid19 countermeasures, you first have to accept that covid19 is real and deadly; that it’s a dangerous pandemic that must be met with all available measures to mitigate loss of life as best we know how. Because for you do deny the science or medical information that validates the existence of covid19 puts you on the opposite side of every medical community member on earth.

Imagine if you will, that there is a bridge off in the distance. Its old and some say it should be replaced or repaired – at high cost. In doing so, there will be disruptive traffic pattern changes and detours; nobody would enjoy those measures at all. But it needs to be done if the old bridge is to be dealt with.

So you hire some 10 structural engineers to evaluate the true state of the bridge and determine the best plan forward.

Nine of them conclude that the bridge has between 6-9 years of safe usage left before its unsafe to use if nothing changes, that it might collapse and kill anyone on the bridge deck at the time. Those nine recommend a mix of replacement and (major) repairs to upgrade the safety levels to an acceptable level.

One says that everything is fine. You’ve got many decades of safe usage ahead.

Who do you listen to?

In the case of covid19, there is virtually no disagreement in the scientific and medical community that the ailment is deadly and needs to be dealt with quickly. But its not unanimous. There hold outs who argue a variety conspiracy theories that covid19 is fake. This segment is less than 1% of the medical/scientific community. Or, less than one of a one hundred structural engineers in our above scenario.

Now, its fair to argue that one jurisdiction’s pandemic countermeasures are insufficient to whatever degree your expertise level can speak with any authority on. Or blow out some opinion on how you think your government has failed you. Cool, that’s your opinion. But you must first agree that covid19 is real and a lot of people are going to die (…already have died) if we don’t act – or slacken our efforts prematurely.

But if you’re going to argue that covid19 is fake and that everyone should just flout the emergency rules because of a bonkers conspiracy theory, then I have zero problems with the state answering your misinformation with fines or worse. Because what you offer isn’t an opinion, its foisting a dangerous advocacy to break laws no different than yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. Your calls to break rules could get people killed.

Paid sick leave isn’t urgent because its a contest to see who can deliver it first, its urgent because its necessary and right.

There seems to be a rush to claim credit for a program nobody can figure out how its paid for or who’s jurisdiction it is. If you came to me for that answer, sorry, I don’t have it. But what I do have is an idea that might work – if politicians are ready to put aside partisan differences and work across jurisdictional boundaries.

Healthcare is a shared jurisdiction. Labour laws are provincial (in industries that are provincially regulated). Unemployment benefits are federal. Surely there’s enough room to slap together something that can the provinces can deliver that the federal government can pay for. It needs to be a national program though; and spare me the provincial rights lecture. It needs to be federal because at that level, it has national implications that no matter where you live, you can take a day off, sick, and not worry so much about paying rent or groceries. More to the point, the pressure to come to work – risking the health of your co-workers, eases off. The current discourse today is centered around the covid19 pandemic, but this is not the only reason to talk about it.

Yes, there is medical EI – those who lose their work for extended time and apply for EI benefits. But there’s no program for those who lose a day’s pay for a rotten cold, or a flu which wouldn’t ordinarily trigger medical EI. That’s where paid sick leave comes in.

BC has done more and accommodated more than any provincial jurisdiction in Canada; and they’re being torn apart for not making any allowance for paid sick leave. Maybe that’s a bridge too far, financially. BC doesn’t have its own currency and cannot print cash – MMT isn’t possible for a subordinate jurisdiction like a province or an American state. The potential costs for such a program would be pricey, but thankfully the EI fund runs at a surplus – when the federal govt isn’t raiding its funds.

EI is how we pay for it, provincial workers compensation departments are how its distributed so that front line workers in any location never have to worry about going broke because they’re sick.

All that’s left is the political will to get it done.

We’re waiting.

my2bits

The last mile is the hardest.

We have gone from zero to deploying millions of vaccines in a global pandemic in less than two years. Nobody assumed that everything would perfectly go to plan, nor that the plans were perfect.

This has been quite a difficult journey and a lot of good people lost their lives as a result.

But if you had told me a few years ago that we would go from discovery to mass vaccination campaigns in less than two years, I wouldn’t have believed you.

So here we are. Thanks to the sacrifice of thousands of front line trades, essential service workers and first responders. We’re climbing out of a global pandemic in relatively quick order.

But we’re not there yet. Every countermeasure enacted upon by emergency order through the authorities counts on us doing what is required of us – regardless of it’s inconvenience.

Nobody is enjoying themselves here and we all want to live normally again. But these measures, however imperfect as they may be, are essential to getting to the other side of this.

So every time someone decides on their own that they’re done with covid19 and fling reason and common sense aside for self interest is another crack in our defences.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy, and nobody likes to shame or ridicule another for their beliefs. But for this to work and cross that line at the end, we must continue this marathon slog to get there.

I’m tired of covid19 too. But covid19 doesn’t care what I think. If I am careless and selfish with my actions, I risk the lives of my crewmates at work, strangers around town, or the lives of those at home, and that is a price I am not willing to take.

Its a mask. I’ll wear it. Its a vaccine, I’ll take whatever is offered to me. I’ll do what it takes to go that last mile; to establish that herd immunity so that covid19 has no place left to go.

There will be plenty of time to digest how this all played out. Things that worked well, things that didn’t. Now is not the time to pander, play politics, or undermine the hard work and sacrifice of those who have given so much.

We’re almost through this. Don’t drop the ball now folks.

my2bits

Endorsement of Lisa Marie Barron

My name is Peter Kelly (he/him) and I have been a resident of Nanaimo since 1997. I’m a past president of the Nanaimo area ferry workers union, a single parent, concerned citizen and I offer my full support and endorsement of Lisa Marie Barron for the Federal NDP nomination for the seat of Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

I have known Lisa for over 10 years and was an enthusiastic supporter in her campaign for school district trustee in the previous local elections and I feel that Lisa is the right kind of leadership we need today. 

Lisa’s generosity, compassion, empathy and honest talk is lacking in Ottawa and absent here today. Lisa is the right choice and I encourage all NDP members to follow me and support Lisa in her bid to become the next Member of Parliament from our region.

You can see this amazing candidate for yourself and follow for updates here: facebook.com/ElectLisaMarieBarron
Lisa’s website is here: https://www.lisamariebarron.ca/

If you are not yet a member of the NDP and would like to in order to support Lisa, please click here for an online membership application.

My2bits

Epilogue for BC Election 2020

So an NDP Premier was re-elected. That’s a first. Taking a precarious minority to a substantial majority is major news too. But nobody should be surprised by this. The NDP led a campaign that was disciplined and focused while their opposition flailed about. It turns out that the ‘steady as she goes’ narrative is what voters needed from their incumbent government.

The final results are as yet unknown, but from what’s been collected so far, the NDP won a substantial chunk of the vote from the BC Liberals and the Greens. The Greens – who keep three seats, replaced some lost vote by also grabbing a few from the BC Liberals. When its all counted, I expect the NDP to finish around 50% of the vote; the Greens off by 1-2pts and the BC Liberals will have lost up to 10pts.

The planning for the NDP for this campaign likely started the moment Andrew Wilkinson was selected leader of the BC Liberals. By his own legacy of a party insider whose record goes back to the days of Gordon Campbell winning his first term in 2001 meant that the whole BC Liberal set of terms were fair talking points of the NDP – and it was exploited well.

The fact that Andrew Wilkinson is really not a personable leader who comes across at elitist as the NDP was happy to portray him as didn’t help him at all. The BC Liberal party didn’t seem to get this and failed to sculpt a different persona – seemed ok with letting the NDP define him…which they did.

The BC Liberals campaigned on a 2001/2005 agenda. Big tax cuts and hope for the best; they didn’t even have a plan to pay for it. Well their shocking PST promise gave the NDP room to expand their campaign pledges by a modest amount compared to the $11 billion price tag of the BC Liberal/PST promise.

It was a perfect little trap – and maybe the NDP set it up this way, maybe it was by chance. But in order to jolt voters into paying attention to the BC Liberals, they had to promise something big – and in that regard, they didn’t disappoint. But it was wrong.

Their PST promise was sold as a way to help consumers in the middle/modest income brackets with some sales tax relief as incentive to shop and buy things, triggering a re-hiring and more production – as the theory goes. But that’s not the practice. Almost all the things needed as essentials by middle and modest income folks were sales tax exempt to begin with; this sales tax stunt would have been a tax win for those purchasing larger ticket items, not essential. So when the NDP came out with their $1000 cash payment to families, the BC Liberals were made to seem like reckless spenders.

It stuck.

Every party has so-called ‘bozo eruptions’. That is to say, candidates who say or do something stupid that causes embarrassment to their party and knocks them off message for a day. Well the BC Liberals had several of them – and they were not insignificant. There were the transphobic candidates outed for their hostility to the community, there was a candidate recorded saying something sexually inappropriate about a female NDP MLA, there was the candidate giving a wink and a nod to the anti-vaxxer/covid19-truther “movement” (despite Andrew Wilkinson being a doctor, apparently).

Again, every party has these candidate causing problems for their central campaigns, but in the BC Liberal matters, the foot dragging by the leadership opened up serious doubts about his ability to lead his party.

For an organization trying to convince voters that its better to change government than to keep the NDP in office, the BC Liberals were failing fast.

There is the power of incumbency that the NDP had. They were the government and by all accounts, even some opponents had admitted that the Horgan government had well executed its duties as a manager of public office – and that was before covid19. For the BC Liberals to turn around and try to demonize the NDP ran against what most folks’ perception was. That was never going to be an easy sell.

To be sure, it was controversial for John Horgan to trigger an election call – one year away from the legislated calendar date. The minority government was held in place by a special agreement with the Green Party through a confidence and supply agreement; or “CASA” for short. It was a calculated risk by Horgan that he should seek a proper mandate just as a second wave of the pandemic begins to go full bloom. The thought was that the pandemic wasn’t going away any time soon and we’re no where near a vaccine.

This part of the argument for an early election call makes sense – and it was over 3.5 years into a traditional 4 year term. The part where there was justification found in the election call because of some disagreement with the Green caucus wasn’t the best argument to make, but as it turns out – both the BC Liberals and Green parties would overplay their hands and take that problem away from Horgan.

The outrage of the early election call should have occupied no more than the first 30 minutes of either the Green or BC Liberal party talking points on the first day of the campaign. Believe it or not, voters want policy too; but the opposition benches spent almost the whole campaign litigating the election call itself. Well, that ship sailed – the election was called, go campaign.

There’s evidence that the election call caught the NDP off guard too. But they adapted, filled out their candidate list and presented a platform.

But there’s one thing I reject from the Greens and BC Liberals. Sure an election might have stunned them, but I dismiss as false the idea that they were unprepared for it; because it would be political malpractice if they were.

This was a minority government. Parties do not (or should not) let their campaign machinery go dormant in the intervening time; they ought to prepare for a non-confidence vote and election call that could come at any time. Indeed, the BC Liberals made a lot of noise to this effect as it was part of their weekly fundraising call to members and supporters.

Even the Green Party who is apparently very bitter at this call and blaming the NDP for catching their party off guard was preparing for an election they pretend to not have seen coming. They managed to nominate 77 candidates in 87 seats – only 6 less than their 83 candidate list in the 2017 campaign they did see coming.

The Green Party isn’t new. Admittedly they are smaller in structure and funding than the NDP or BC Liberals, but they have a campaign and support apparatus that has existed since the 1980’s. So for an election like this to catch them so unprepared reveals a sorry internal state of the party.

I was once quite worried about the Greens and their effect on splitting the centre-left vote – and it wasn’t without merit. But as their political machinery grew and organizational depth developed, so did their arrogance and bad behavior. Their partisan supporters are no less toxic and capable of bullying than anyone else’s; and this campaign has outlined some further problems for them.

This campaign has been a four week temper tantrum by the Green Party that has impressed no-one but their ardent supporters. What’s worse is a developing elitist attitude that presumes they’re exempt from scrutiny or electoral challenge. This might come as a shock to some, but the NDP has every right to compete in a Green-incumbent seat as much as greens can challenge anyone in any seat as well. The lecturing by former federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May is over the top given her leadership brass trying to expel three leadership candidates for her party mid campaign.

how dare the NDP try to ‘steal’ our seats.

Electoral districts do not belong to a party or a candidate. People hire an MLA for the duration of a term to sit as their representative from a party or sometimes independent, but there is no rightful claim to ownership.

The Greens do not get to claim a monopoly on good ideas. The NDP has climate change ideas too; ideas that are not without merit. This arrogance of the Greens as the *only* voice of the environment that should count adds to the elitist image they’re also stuck with.

The Greens chose their issues in this campaign as LNG and SiteC, but neither of them were decisive election issues. Voters had more pressing matters.

Voters were looking for (effectively) a commander in chief and steady hand at the wheel as we navigate through difficult times and a plan to rebuild after we clear this pandemic. Neither BC Liberal or Green Party campaigns offered that plan or that hope. Voters were not looking for radical changes, and weren’t prepared to support candidates who lit their hair on fire. Even if an early election call made a few upset, it wasn’t significant enough to move the needle. It was a risky political gamble for Premier John Horgan and he proved to be correct.

But now the hard part begins. The problems that existed before the pandemic are still here. A majority government with no partners to blame when things go wrong. A term that begins as the pandemic second wave spikes hard.

I hope that in the interim, that the NDP – regardless of its majority, continues to bring opposition party leaders fully into the circle with the pandemic response. The temptation will be huge to hog a spotlight, but please don’t do it. Dr Henry has been a rock star in this pandemic and she is the expert; let her do her job.

The higher the climb, the harder the fall they say. A massive majority might be a buffer against losses in 2024, and that election seems like a lifetime away…but, knowing what I know about campaigns, the planning for that one will start tomorrow.

For my part, its been my quest that since the BC Liberal policies that attacked the mentally ill in the early 2000’s were largely responsible for my brother’s death – that I get to see them lose handily in an election.

They don’t get to almost-govern like 2017; they needed the electoral pounding that they got. Maybe now they can emerge as a coherent centre-right political party that doesn’t willfully attack the vulnerable to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.

Everything that I have done politically since 2004 has been to this end. Now I will take some time for me and my son.

Thank you all.

my2bits