Category Archives: Economy

Why I may quit Greenpeace and Open Minds

I must disclose that I have been a Greenpeace member for most of my life. I am an environmentalist and regularly write on this topic.  Free enterprise and a good environmental policy are not antonyms, they are in fact two pillars of a modern sustainable culture.  The reason I believe this is that there has been a major shift in how people buy in BC.  Many of us buy local, we buy hybrids and we buy organic foods even though they all cost more.   We support our neighbours and farmers, the small produce suppliers and our blossoming wine industry because we know it is better for the economy and the environment.  We also know we cannot put people into poverty en masse.

Wednesday night I received a call from Greenpeace that disturbed me somewhat.  One of the three reasons they were calling me was to raise awareness of the importance of climate change and that we should “vote for the climate”.   When I asked what that meant, the response was “vote for the party that will keep the tar sands from happening”.  He then reported to me in another sentence that “the NDP opposes the pipeline”.  The implication being I should vote for the NDP.   What does “oppose the pipeline mean”?  I have a suspicion that no matter what any party says (perhaps with the exception of the Green Party), that the pipeline will be build.  The rational?  It is simply the most environmentally friendly way to move the product.

Greenpeace is supposed to be non-partisan.  I found it very interesting that the person on the phone did not mention the Green party but rather the NDP.  I am not sure why a Greenpeace phone volunteer is spending the money we donate to Greenpeace every month to call me and tell me about our political situation but that is for Elections BC to figure out.

The question that I had to ask when he stated we must oppose the pipeline is “what do you propose will be done in the alternative to move the oil“?  There was stunned silence before a reply to the lines of “well we oppose everything about the Alberta Tar sands.  If we do not build the pipeline we will cripple that operation“.  I had to think about this for a while longer.  This was a person who actually believes that if the Northern Gateway Pipeline is not built, the entire oil sands will cease production.  Better yet, if we elect the NDP who formally “oppose” the pipeline, we can shut down Alberta’s Tar sands.  I am sorry but this is simply not true.  If the pipeline if not built, the alternative is trucks and rail.  We do not have the rights to restrict traffic on national railroads and highways based on hatred of a particular industry. Those are national resources to which we all have equal rights to use.

If we had that power, I will aver that this is a very slippery slope.  For the record, I wish we all lived in a utopian society that did not require fossil fuels, but the reality is we do not and change takes time.    There is also an important concept of self government.  I do not support BC being able to tell Alberta that they cannot develop their natural resources any more that I would support Saskatchewan being able to unilaterally shut down the BC movie industry based on a belief that they are polluting and films are not necessary.  What about fishing?   If Ontario could shut down our technology industry over concerns about computers containing dangerous substances, it would put many people out of work.  What if someone in New Brunswick stopped UBC building condominiums on un-ceded native territory.   This is a very dangerous slope to slide down.  I understand the dangers of the Tar Sands project and know we have to change.  At the same time, I do not believe our students should graduate with $100,000 of debt.  We need balance in all policies.

So how does one stop the Tar Sands?  Simple.  Refuse to buy anything made with energy that comes from the Tar sands.  Stop buying cosmetics, cars, tires, bicycles, electronics, clothes and anything plastic made with Alberta crude.  Stop buying New Zealand apples and don’t buy green smoothies from Happy Planet, shipped in plastic bottles.     If no one wants to buy those products, the market for that product will dry up very quickly as no manufacturer would allow it in their products. This would cause a slump in demand and a reversal of the trend.    While sounding easy though, this equation is not so simple.  What if companies like Enbridge actually used the profits from the tar sands to invest into renewable energy sources to prepare the world for a better future?  Well guess what?  They do this.

Enbridge now generates over 1,365 MW of clean and renewable energy.  Do not believe me, read the website page at http://www.enbridge.com/DeliveringEnergy/RenewableEnergy.aspx. By contrast, the BC Carbon Tax has invested zero dollars and produced not one single MW of clean energy.  That tax is revenue neutral and only shuffles money around.  It also does not stop GHG emissions (read the increased amounts of GHG’s going into the environment on page 66 of the BC Provincial Budget).

So who are the bad guys and who are the good guys?  There is no right answer to this question.  My only hope is that I can invite anyone reading this to widen their thoughts and be a little more open minded.  We all need to work together on this.  No matter who wins the Provincial election May 14, we all have a deep responsibility to move forward to clean energy.  If you are a protestor, keep protesting to raise awareness.  If you have an idea to move to renewable energy, help Enbridge and others use the proceeds of the tar sands to invest into clean energy.  They are an energy company.  Oil is only one currency in that market.  If they invest all their money into oil, they will due as a company when the oil runs out.  The people I know at Enbridge told me that they know they need to move off oil to be successful in the future.  Some top environmentalists have noted this and are helping them with this change.

We all know oil is running out.  We have to reduce GHG’s.  I have a plan to use Geothermal energy to both produce clean and renewable energy for British Columbians.  We can do this.  It is not that complicated but it requires educating people on how this will work.

Conservatives (and anyone else with a sane brain) do not want our planet ruined. We are entrenched to fight against this and restore BC as an economic leader. In the meantime, some have advocated raising taxes on gasoline to cut back on people using cars.  Fine, I can personally afford $20/litre gas yet I found even the most hardened environmentalists are stating that this is not going to work for them.  “My life will be hell and my food and transportation bill will be through the roof” they claim.  True I replied, but we will achieve the goal of reducing your contributing to GHG emissions.  Most of them did not realize this was purely a rhetorical statement and got angry with me thinking it was an attack on their ability to exist.  When I pointed out that this is the same logic they are using on others, many then thanked me for helping to raise their awareness.

I am a friend of both clean energy and environmental causes.  I will not favor one at the expense of the others though.  We all need to work together on this.

We have an answer to meet the GHG targets for 2020 but also know that we have to measure them in a way that is fair and realistic.  Simply outsourcing the GHG’s used in manufacturing to China is not the answer.  After all, this is global warming, not BC warming.

Please give this some thought.

Debt is BC’s Biggest Issue

Our provincial debt is now at record levels.  In the coming weeks leading up to the election, understanding the full extent of the provincial debt, including any and all outstanding obligations, should be a primary focus of the election coverage.  ”

“Every BC resident needs to understand the connection between our provincial deficit and their own financial well being.  There is a direct correlation.”

Quite simply, the deficit is the single largest issue.  Without fixing this, we will not have funding in the provincial coffers for healthcare, education, infrastructure and other important programs.    If we are broke, we will have no options to protect the environment, educate our children and preserve our way of life.  We are seeing first hand consequences in Cyprus this month.  The utter devastation of the economy in Cyprus has resulted in private wealth being seized to pay down sovereign debt.

If we elect a government in 2013 that continues business as usual, BC will be setting a dangerous precedent by allowing special interests to mortgage our future.

As for the current budget, it would be good to also get a clarification of what assets will be sold on page 135 of the BC Budget in years 2013-2015.  These total over $700 million. As a taxpayer, I want to know what these are.

The budget also contains contradictions with other statements being given to us.  I would like to see an explanation of the projected increased in natural gas production on page 134.  The budget projects a growth in gas volume from 1461 petajoules (2011) to 2025 in 2015 (approximately 30% increase).  I am not saying it is not true, just wondering why our government is telling us the carbon tax is working while GHG’s are going up.  This needs to be explained.  BC residents are too smart to allow such a double standard.

Balanced budget legislation is worthless if not followed.   Asking why the Health funding is running a budget deficit of around $5 billion despite the BALANCED BUDGET AND MINISTERIAL ACCOUNTABILITY ACT.  This act (Statutes BC 2001, Chapter 28) received royal assent on August 16, 2001.  It clearly states in section 2

The main estimates for a fiscal year must not contain a forecast of a deficit for that fiscal year.”

The following health funding report is from page 110 of the BC budget.

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 10.49.51 PM

Pay close attention to the bottom three lines.  Health care is important. If the true cost is $17, 266 million, then let’s budget that.  It is also fair to expect that the accounting for this be completely transparent so BC residents who can find ways to improve the efficiency of health care are able to help our province.  Having a budget that does not reflect reality just confuses everyone.

I’ve run business and started companies form nothing and grown them to be sold to Fortune 500’s.  This is not hard to do if everyone is transparent.  We need a change in BC on May 14.

Thoughts on the UBC Subway Rapid Transit Proposal

March 10 I attended an open house meeting with Mayor Gregor Robertson and councillor Geoff Meggs.  The meeting was filled to capacity and there were some great people in the audience.  NDP politician Mike Harcourt was there as was Constance Barnes.

Before passing any opinion on this matter, I would like to say thank you to all the citizens who gave up a few hours on their Sunday to come down and express their opinions.  This is indeed how democracy needs to work and it is great to see so many exercising their rights.  I appreciated hearing from the people for and the people against the plans.

The presentation went very well and I thought Councilor Meggs made a very eloquent and data driven presentation that would have lead anyone to the logical conclusion that the SkyTrain is needed and the best option is to tunnel under Broadway, primarily to reduce the devastation of the cut and cover techniques used on Cambie.   Based on the congestion alone, it appears we need to invest into the future.  I myself have been passed up on the 99B or very near the last person allowed on a totally packed bus.  I was surprised to find a very sizeable opposition to the project in the hall and listened to hear their concerns.

NIMBY – the Not In My Back Yard opposition is very typical and for those living right next to the projects, is justifiable.  During the construction of the Cambie street line (Canada Line), the local residents had major problems, several businesses failed and more.  I noticed some patterns of activity that I will elaborate on later.  A second set of concerns concluded that along with Skytrain we will get a lot of big box retailers displacing the local businesses.  A tangent on this is the worry that with the prosperity promised from Skytrain, the local real estate prices will continue to soar, something that does worry a lot of people in this riding.

By far the the most compelling reason against is the cost.  When asked directly, Mayor Robertson told the audience that the cost is $2.8 billion for a tunnel approach.  I took the liberty of checking the official Translink website ( I am a data geek) and found that the projected cost is actually $3.2 billion.  There are conflicting bits of information on this.  For example, this page ( http://www.translink.ca/en/Plans-and-Projects/Rapid-Transit-Projects/UBC-Line-Rapid-Transit-Study.aspx ) states the cost is $3.0 billion for the RRT version.  This page paints it at $2.8 billion ( http://ubcskytrain.wordpress.com/22points/) while the Globe and Mail pegs it at #2 billion. I also had seen another number of $3.2 billion which seems to have since been removed from the Translink website but the Vancouver Sun, of which I would believe the reporters did proper homework, reported the $3.2 billion number too at http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=4ae63f6a-c784-46da-a772-ce15cd4d8f01.  This really doesn’t matter as much as the fact that BC is now at record levels of debt.  Still, asking how we will pay for this is a very just question and one that needs to be answered honestly.  We are broke and in debt.  You cannot borrow your way out of debt.

I am running for office and one of the things I will promise you is that if elected, I will never take what I am told for granted and will do my homework.  I find it worrying that the raw data of the budget is not public and that there is a $400 million discrepancy.

So where do I stand?  This is a complex issue and here is what I would like to see.

1. Some research to understand the real cost and also the track records of those who are doing the estimates.  I would welcome an understanding of whether of not the estimates are provided by people and processes that have proven accurate or inaccurate.   If these people have been wrong in the past, we, the people , have a right to know.  One of the core policies of the BC Conservative Party is that we believe government must be transparent and accountable to the people.  We are all expected to balance our budgets in a given fiscal cycle.  Is this too much to ask of our elected officials?

2. I would like to understand the tendering process (the process by which we award the contract  and understand how many BC jobs are involved.  Are we sole sourcing it?  If we are, why and are we locking out local companies?

3. I would like to understand the options for private funding and operation to see if they are acceptable. Maybe private enterprise can help cushion the costs?  This needs a lot of work before it could be proposed but it does seem to be a valid question.

4. We, the BC Conservative Party, actually listen to people when they speak and share concerns about the potential to disrupt the character of the neighbourhood.  In particular however, the re-zoning and number of re-development applications is a separate issue.   Saying yes to SkyTrain does not equate directly to allowing big box stores to take over small family run businesses.  I also want to see a contingency fund in place to help any businesses hurt by the process.  I also want to understand why there seems to have been an acceleration in development along the corridor prior to the SkyTrain being formally approved?  On the few blocks around my house I have seen many new development signs going on and it does make me a little uneasy.

5. I would like to understand the full environmental impact.  Many people complain about the fact that our government is no where near meeting its’ 2020 GHG obligations and the SkyTrain project may actually have the capacity to help meet that target.  The Canada line, for example, carried 38 million passengers last year which is a lot less car trips.

In general, despite the high cost, it is a project I think can be beneficial to the entire corridor but there are some conditions that need to be met.  Politicians must listen to their constituents and I applaud every politician who took time to attend and listen.  I believe we have learned from Cambie and the Canada Line experience and can mitigate many of the concerns.

I remain in favor of the SkyTrain, contingent upon the concerns of residents being satisfied.  We need to reduce GHG emissions, the existing system is at capacity and the future needs to be planned for now.  For anyone who does not believe the system is at capacity, please experience boarding a 99B bus between 8-11:00 AM or 3-7 PM.

I am doing some more research on this and will post it on this blog as it becomes available.

 

Higher Taxes in Vancouver – Point Grey?

I had just written about my concerns with the new Provincial budget and the propensity to tax the high income earners.  While I thought this would come from the NDP, it turns out that it is coming from the Liberals.  According to Mike DeJong, if you make a higher amount of income, you will pay more.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/02/20/bc-budget-liberals-ndp.html

He also says Doctor’s can expect less income, schooling will remain flat and a number of other measures.  Family friendly?  West Point Grey- Kitsilano residents are the key family demographic.  Of course our Premier sends her kids to private schools but most of our kids go to public schools that have Asbestos in the main hallways and are at the highest risk of collapse in a seismic event.

Asbestos_in_Bayview_school

I had just written about my concerns with the new Provincial budget and the propensity to tax the high income earners.  While I thought this would come from the NDP, it turns out that it is coming from the Liberals.  According to Mike DeJong, if you make a higher amount of income, you will pay more.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/02/20/bc-budget-liberals-ndp.html

He also says Doctor’s can expect less income, schooling will remain flat and a number of other measures.  Family friendly?  West Point Grey- Kitsilano residents are the key family demographic.  Of course our Premier sends her kids to private schools but most of our kids go to public schools that have Asbestos in the main hallways and are at the highest risk of collapse in a seismic event.

We, as British Columbian’s, must pay close attention to this budget.  This is our children’s futures we are talking about.  This is our future.  If our children are not given a proper education and are relegated to menial labour jobs, how can we expect a tax base to support our retirement?  We will be at the mercy of large multinational corporations who seek our resources.    So how do we do that without raising taxes?

Smarter spending is part of the answer.  Our children do not need smart meters or fast ferries.  We do not need $15 million taxpayer funded government advertising campaign.  We do not need a Carbon Tax that neither reduces carbon or invests in renewable energy.   We do not need to subsidize special interest groups or business.

We do need asbestos free environments for our children to go to school in.  Is prioritizing this too much to ask?

View more on education:

BC Conservative Party Platform

We Believe In BC.  That’s our campaign going into this May election.  This is our vision for BC.  As we draw closer to the campaign, we will be releasing our platform and filling in the details of how we plan to accomplish this vision.

We believe in our people, and their willingness to be daring and innovative.
We believe in the intrinsic value of our natural resources, and encourage their development.
We believe in the value of our geographic position as the Gateway to the Pacific.
We believe in balanced budgets.
We believe in spending smarter.
We believe in fair taxation.
We believe in safe communities
We believe in healthcare
We believe in conserving the environment
We believe in agriculture
We believe in rural and Northern BC

Over the next few months as we move closer to the election this May, I am asking you all to spread this message, that the BC Conservatives have a positive progressive vision for the future of BC and that we are the free enterprise party with a social conscience.  Join us and together we can make a better future for all British Columbians.

The Carbon Tax does not reduce GHG nor does it Invest in Renewables.

I believe strongly in protecting the environmental.   I have been advocating using less petroleum for decades.  I have argued for better alternatives for Canada and other countries, working within various organizations    We have alternatives and we have better ways to reduce pollution of all types.  I commute on bikes more than cars and do everything I can to leave a smaller footprint in terms of energy used.

This week I have started looking at the 2012 BC Budget and the Carbon Tax and made a startling realization.  The Carbon Tax, as written, is:

1. Not reducing carbon or GHG emission (this is an eye opener for sure);

2. Not causing any investment into Renewable energy sources; and

3. Is merely a tax that “redistributes” wealth.  It is “revenue neutral” meaning it does not put money into government coffers.

In fact, the 2012 BC Budget actually budgeted more carbon to be spewed into the air hence more revenue.   Don’t believe my interpretation however.  Read the 2012 budget at http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2012/bfp/2012_Budget_Fiscal_Plan.pdf.  Here is an excerpt:

Carbon tax – as announced in Budget 2008, the carbon tax rate per tonne of CO2 – equivalent will increase by $5 each year to $30 per tonne by July 1, 2012. The forecast  assumes that purchased volumes of natural gas will grow by 2.0 per cent annually,  while consumption of gasoline is expected to remain constant. Revenue is expected  to increase in line with these higher rates and assumed volume growth.

I went to read the rest of the Carbon tax propaganda and found the projections for 2012-2015 (use this link and look at page 68).

BC Budget shows an increase in GHG emissions forecast for 2012-2015

BC Budget shows an increase in GHG emissions forecast for 2012-2015

So are other political parties telling us that the carbon tax is working when it is not?  Or are the 2012-2015 BC Budgets based on flawed assumptions?   Either one of these statements could be true but they cannot logically both be true.  It appears the worst case scenario has happened and neither one is true.

Most of the claims that it works come from three studies, of which I will contend may be flawed.   The costs of which will inevitably be passed off to you and I, the consumers of anything that is affected by the rise in the price of petroleum.  Additionally, this carbon tax will put BC businesses at a disadvantage in a global economy yet will not stop the emissions of carbon.  I am not the only one to notice this.  People are waking up all over.

While the government is claiming that we have let less GHG’s into the air than other provinces between 2008-2010, even accounting for some of the general economic recession, they never factored in the completion of the Canada Line of Skytrain that carries really 40,000,000 riders per year (source: Translink)  and the ceasing of cement production when our Olympic Infrastructure was completed.

Some Facts:

The claim is that between 2008-2010 the GHG gas emissions fell by 4.5% in BC. The facts do not support this.  Greenhouse gases are measured by volume and are correlated to various GHG emitting products manufacture or consumption.  The algorithm used is linear.  While it is possible that the manufacture of concrete and use of fossil fuels actually did fall by 4.5% in that period, the general economy sank by 2.3% in 2009 alone, construction went from a 6.4% growth in 2008 to a 5.3% reduction in 2009 alone and retail sales fell by almost 5%.  This chart is from Statistics Canada data.

BC General economy

BC General economy

Again – go and look at the source – http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/tbs/F&Ereview10.pdf

It might be time to start over.  BC is part of a global economy and a global environment.  We have a commitment to everyone on this planet to help reign in pollution.  Using less energy in our daily lives can have an impact and we need proactive programmes that actually develop renewable energy policies.

I have been lucky enough to work with the US Department of Energy and visionaries like Saul Griffith.  If you want to get some facts, watch Saul’s talks on Climate Change Revisited.

Saul Griffith: Climate Change Recalculated from The Long Now Foundation on FORA.tv

Saul is bright and has done a lot to change the world for the better.  One thing we discussed at great length was where change is most effective.  The problem is that change is often not most effective at the National level.  The Provincial level, for large infrastructure projects, is where change may be best directed.  Some examples of this are Sky Train and Hydro-electric power projects.   The myth that solar energy can save BC is just that.  Doing the net calculations on manufacturing the solar panels will often show a less than favorably return, certainly short of our needs.  We are blessed with an abundance of cheap, renewable energy sources and a smart and innovative population.  Wind, Hydro, Geothermal and Solar used in combination can be very effective but reducing GHG’s requires a reduction in the use of hydrocarbons period.  Replacing cheap and plentiful Hydro-electric power with solar power may actually cause more pollution given it is the energy produced is replacing green energy and not targeting hydrocarbons.

We have the ability to also develop Geothermal energy.  While serving on the US DOE’s National Geothermal Data System as a technical monitor, I noticed that the heat flow potential for Geothermal energy seems to increase as it goes northward into BC.

What can you do?

We can do this.  If done correctly, based on the input of organizations like the BC Sustainable Energy Association (BC SEA), we can create ways to develop renewable energy source, green cement and build green industries.

Join the BC SEA – http://www.bcsea.org/

Vote BC Conservative Party on May 14, 2013.  We will try to repeal the Carbon tax and replace it with public policy that actually reduces carbon and/or creates renewable energy sources.

Join the BC Conservative Party (Note: we are not the Canadian Progressive Conservative party) – http://www.bcconservative.ca/get-involved/join/

Do not believe the parties that tell you the Carbon Tax is working as it is.  It is clearly not.

Be a scientist!  Ask questions and educate yourself.

We have alternatives.  No more faux taxes.  Let’s take real action.

Help us fix this.  Join our cause and donate.  Be part of a solution.

http://www.duanenickull.ca

Why Spending Smarter Matters

Today the BC Conservative Party launched a news release entitled Spending Smarter.  The news release lightly describes three fundamental initiatives that will give provincial legislators, and hence the people of BC, the tools they need to rigorously examine government spending both before and after public monies are spent.

Here is the text from the news release.

1. The BC Conservatives will reverse the trend of reducing the number of ‘votes’ in the Budget Estimates each Spring, and re-institute a thorough analysis of financial outlays before they are made. In recent decades, the number of Estimates votes has fallen from around 250, to as low as 58. The Ministry of Health – which this year will spend $16.5 billion – has dropped from 16 votes to just one. The number of Estimates votes in each annual Budget will be significantly increased under the BC Conservatives, thereby increasing scrutiny.

2. A new Legislative Budget Office will be established. The office will provide MLAs with independent analyses of complex financial and economic data, thereby giving them greater means to scrutinize public expenditures.

3. The BC Conservatives will fundamentally revamp the Fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly. Focus will shift from passing or amending legislation, to reviewing and overseeing the expenditure of public monies by the government, Crown corporations and the SUCH sector – schools, universities, colleges and hospitals.

Analysis

Why is this important?

The Spending Smarter initiative is intended to eliminate the persistent deficits that have plagued Victoria in recent decades, and begin the long, slow process of reversing the growth of B.C.’s debt.  At the same time, I personally believe that it gives more parties the necessary input and holds government accountable for their actions.

I am not by nature a mud-slinger but the current status quo needs to be challenged.  This is our money, not theirs, and you and I have a right (not a privilege but a fundamental right) to have our duly elected officials scrutinize and oversee the BC Budget.  The more input we have, the better.

Revamping the fall sitting to provide greater fiduciary insight into the budget is also a direction I favour.      While the details around the Legislative Budget Office are vague

Final thoughts?

Remember, Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA’s), by definition, must represent the people.  May 14, 2013 is a General Election in BC.  The government spends our money.  If you are unhappy with the way our province has been governed and want to change it, or want more of the same, this is your time to vote.  Register to vote at http://www.elections.bc.ca/index.php/2013-voters-list-update/

Yet More Taxes for Vancouver – Point Grey Residents

I recently came across a great article written by Tom Syer from the British Columbia Business Council.    I think anyone from the Vancouver – Point Grey riding should take a look at this.   Tom noted that recently, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a study entitled “Progressive Tax Options for BC”.   For the record, I believe an independent body like CCPA that challenges government to be transparent and provides well thought out options to be tabled is a positive force in a democracy.   People who genuinely care about some of our more complex issues have every right to step up and suggest alternatives.  Of course there will be disagreements but through dialog, we can find common ground.

I write this blog post though to find out if others feel this is really in the best interests of British Columbians.   Without going into a lot of detail, the study claims we have desire amongst British Columbians to pay more tax.  It also advocates that the 6% who have incomes higher than $100,000 a year per family should be paying more tax in an escalating manner.  This is coupled with a second need and desire to redistribute the wealth to address inequality.  For those of us who live in Vancouver – Point Grey, we are in that demographic.

Tom writes:

“The basic premise of the study is that there is both a serious need and a significant desire among BC citizens for sizable tax increases to fund more services and re-distribute wealth to address inequality. In their words, BC has “plenty of room” to raise taxes. While this has been a common refrain from the CCPA for some time, this position is now backed with further research and the results of an on-line survey. While the CCPA cites a single relatively obscure US study comparing US state taxation levels on economic performance to buttress its position, there is in fact an extensive body of academic research that looks carefully at the long-term consequences of taxes on the economy.[1] The preponderant conclusion is that relatively open, trade oriented economies need to pay attention to taxation rates and burdens. This is not to say there is no room to debate taxation issues or the appropriate balance between state and private sector in society. However, particularly for a small jurisdiction like BC, it’s important to ponder the economic implications of major tax policy changes – such as sharply hiking marginal tax rates on entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers, which is the key recommendation advanced in the CCPA’s study.”

I urge you to read the rest of his post here.  Tom has wisely called out some misrepresentations and also discusses some of the consequences.

I also looked at the CCPA document to verify the facts.  While reading the document, I found this.

“The overwhelming majority of British Columbians (90%) think there should be income tax increases for those at the top. A clear majority (57%) believe that should kick in at $100,000 per year of income. A majority (67%) also think major corporations are asked to pay less tax than they should.

These responses cut across party lines. It is not just those who would vote NDP or Green in a provincial election who think high-income individuals and corporations should pay more tax.

The idea to impose stiff taxes on those of us who own homes that are valued at over a certain amount is something I am also concerned about.  A socialist group or socialist political party wanting to impose “an annual property surtax, progressively applied, beginning with a 0.5% tax rate on values in excess of $750,000, then 1% on value above $1.25 million, and 1.5% on value in excess of $2 

million” might be something Point Grey and Kitsilano residents should have a say in.  Our real estate has jumped in value due to a number of factors beyond our control.  In many cases the houses in this area are no larger than houses anywhere else.

CCPA author Naomi Klein wrote at the bottom of her introduction “British Columbians deserve a thoughtful and open conversation about the need for tax reform,” says Klein. “They core questions we need to consider are: What programs should we pay for together through taxes, and how can we raise the money needed in a way that ensures everyone pays a fair share? We hope this report can help kick-start that conversation.”

For the record, Naomi Klein is someone I respect for being a vigilant watchdog on government policy. According to the Sunday Times, she has stated she supports the moderately leftish NDP in her home country and does not rule out standing for election one day.

I agree with one statement Naomi made.  I think it is time to have a bigger conversation about a fair and equitable tax system that does not unjustly hurt British Columbians, including being fair to those who have worked hard to build businesses here and/or have disciplined themselves to achieve higher education and higher income. People in Vancouver – Point Grey are in many cases upper middle class working families.

I stand for transparency in government and accountability.  I invite your opinions on this topic.

Schools – Kitsilano, Point Grey’s Urgent Need

In Vancouver, Point Grey and Kitsilano,  we have many old schools that are in extreme danger of collapse in a moderate to high seismic event.  My own children’s school, Bayview Community School, was built in 1914. It’s a Heritage A building, which means it has significant historical value.  Bayview’s age has led to both maintenance concerns (lead pipes, asbestos, outdated heating systems, etc.) and to seismic concerns. The Vancouver School Board ranks Bayview at high risk for structural damage in the case of an earthquake. Engineering reports have identified poor brick and concrete quality. The school doesn’t come close to meeting current building codes.  The bathrooms look worse than the one’s I encountered at a public bus depot on my last trip to Bangalore, India.  Don’t believe me though, watch this video.  I guarantee you will be horrified.

Why are our children near Asbestos?  This is not the only school in Vancouver, Point Grey and Kitsilano either.  To see the problem in it’s completeness, study the chart below.  The engineers have categorized schools into five categories, H1 being the highest risk.

BCConsevativeParty_education_needs

Now take a look at this list.   It turns out that the Vancouver, Point Grey, Kitsilano areas have the following schools in H1 and H3.  These are the most dangerous in terms of being at risk for structural damage during a seismic event.

H1
Bayview Elementary
Henry Hudson
Charles Gordon Elementary
Lord Tennyson Elementary
Point Grey Secondary
Prince of Wales Secondary
Quilchena Elementary
Southlands Elementary

H3
Carnarvon Community Elementary
Lord Byng Secondary
Queen Elizabeth Elementary
Queen Elizabeth Annex

As part of its ongoing Seismic Mitigation Program, the Province has committed more than $122 million to address structural upgrades at 14 high-priority schools. The 14 projects are spread throughout 12 B.C. school districts. Schools were selected from most-recent district capital plans and represent top-ranked projects based on an updated assessment of seismic safety risk. School projects approved for funding:

Aberdeen Elementary, Abbotsford (SD 34)
South Delta Secondary, Delta (SD 37)
Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith Elementary, Vancouver (SD 39)
Dr. George M. Weir Elementary, Vancouver (SD 39)
Sir Wilfred Grenfell Community School, Vancouver (SD 39)
Alpha Secondary, Burnaby (SD 41)
Banting Middle school, Coquitlam (SD 43)
Argyle Secondary, North Vancouver (SD 44)
Quadra Elementary, Victoria (SD 61)
Sangster Elementary, Sooke (SD 62)
Deep Cove Elementary, Saanich (SD 63)
Georges P. Vanier Secondary, Comox Valley (SD 71)
C.E. Barry Intermediate, Fraser-Cascade (SD 78)
École des Pionniers, Conseil scolaire francophone (SD 93)

While I applaud this action on these schools, politicians needs to make the rest a priority and pull out all the stops.  Why are the Liberals spending $15,000,000 on ads claiming our job programs are working instead of creating jobs through the infrastructure upgrades?  True, it is a complex logistical problem involving temporary relocation of students, compliance with proper tender processes, engineering and feasibility studies and even municipal government interactions.   The fact is that this process is not happening fast enough.  We have BC companies willing to bid on this work and a highly skilled workforce.  The investment into this infrastructure will pay for itself (educated children become tax paying citizens) and our legacy must be higher education for our children.

I also found out that apparently our Premier Christy Clark sends her sonHamish to private school.  While I cannot verify this with an absolute accuracy,  it seems to have substance.   I live in Vancouver – Point Grey – Kitsilano with my children.  They attend a public school and will continue to attend a public school.   Parents in other school districts want their schools upgraded too.  This cannot wait any longer.

What can you do?

Please sign this petition.  These buildings are also an important part of our community and serve as safe havens in the event of a disaster.  Every school needs to be standing and equipped not only to teach our children, but to also be an integral part of our community.  There are no shortages of construction materials or labour and investing into schools pumps money into our local economy.  Tell you MLA that you want these schools upgraded now.  We deserve this.

Talk to your neighbours.  Raise awareness.

Share the video.

Write a letter to our Premier.

LANGLEY, BC, FEB. 15, 2013 – During the decade between 2001 – when the BC Liberals first won election to government – and 2011, the province’s labour force grew by 18.1 per cent.

Over that same period, the number of temporary foreign workers entering British Columbia exploded by an incredible 137.0 per cent.

The BC Liberals’ much-advertised (with your tax-dollars) Jobs Plan clearly is working … for foreign workers. For British Columbians, well, that’s a different story.

The issue of temporary foreign workers raised public hackles a few months ago when HD Mining tried to import thousands of coal miners to work at their proposed coal mine in northeastern B.C. In the end, the company backed down, but B.C. still has 70,000 temporary foreign workers employed in the province.

In this issue of Campaign Briefing Notes, we look a little closer at the role of the BC Liberals in allowing temporary foreign workers to become a massive presence in the province’s labour force.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Kristy Fredericks
Director of Policy, Research & Communications
BC Conservative Party
604-530-1410
604-626-1374

kristyf@bcconservative2013.ca