Sunday, April 25, 2010

One heck of a week!

Dear Saanich South,

I hope you are all well and are finding time to enjoy the weekend. Last week was super busy for me and I would like to share a few of the highlights with you.

But first: I'm pleased to invite you to join me in welcoming Alexandra Morton to Saanich on Saturday May the 8th.

Alex is a renowned biologist and a leading expert on BC salmon. She is completing a 500 km walk from the northern part of Vancouver island to Victoria in order to raise awareness about the need to improve fish farming practices in order to save our rapidly disappearing wild salmon stocks.

Click here to read a Globe and Mail article about her. And you can watch a very interesting news story about the walk on /A\ Channel by clicking here. The beautiful picture you see is a young Nimpkish Dancer during a ceremony this week at the start of Alex's walk.

My event takes place at 12:30pm on Saturday, May the 8th at my office, 4085 Quadra St. (.5 km North of Mackenzie). We will welcome Alex and the other walkers on the last day of their "migration". And then those who are able will join with her and walk the final six kilometers to downtown Victoria. A great way to get some exercise!

There will be a free barbecue salmon at 2pm at Centennial Square and rally at the Legislature at 4pm. Let’s make sure Sockeye are around for our grandchildren. Find out more at salmonaresacred.org

Ok, my week! Let me just start by saying I had a miserable cold the whole time! Anyway, I'm feeling better now and here is what I've been up to as your MLA....

I started the week off on Sunday with some fun: I attended a 5 km walk at Beaver Lake in support of families raising children with autism. I had a great time chatting and enjoying the passion of the crowd. What a dedicated group! Please check out my website, autismstories.ca, to read about the personal impact of cuts to intensive therapy for children with autism. You can connect with the local group working on this issue by visiting their facebook page.

After the walk, I went to the Sikh Temple on Topaz Street – it was Vasaki after all! Best wishes to all the celebrants. I enjoyed a wonderful meal in the Temple dining room. (This is a meal that is provided free every Sunday to everyone. It was delicious!)

On Monday, I started receiving more calls about booming cannons in the Blenkinsop Valley. It seems a local farm is firing off canons to scare away the Canadian Geese. They are eating the new foliage on a very large blueberry farms – this can severely damage and even kill new plants. However, the noise is also really upsetting a lot of their neighbours. If you are one of them, please visit my website, blenkinsopvalley.ca to register your complaint. I am collecting information to better understand what is happening and to look for opportunities to improve the situation.

Early in the week I met with colleagues and Ministry staff regarding a number of issues including significant legislative or regulatory changes to the way in which Veterinarians and Optometrists are regulated in B.C. The Veterinarians Act falls under my critic portfolio so I am preparing for debate by studying the proposed amendments to the act, section by section by section. It's very interesting!

In the House, I presented a Private Member’s Motion calling for a made-in-BC food security plan. You watch that by clicking here.

On Thursday, coughing and sniffling, I travelled to Vancouver for a 7 am breakfast meeting with real estate leaders about the ALR. It was a forum on topical issues confronting the commercial development industry. It was quite interesting to hear the tug of war between panel members. Did you know the Fraser Institute blames the ALR for unaffordable housing? And they think 'local food is a fad' and that the environmental and nutritional benefits of organic food are myths. Hmmmmm......

Speaking of the ALR! It was the ALR 37th birthday this week and I joined other supporters of agriculture in celebrating this milestone and calling for renewed vigilance to protect our precious and dwindling farmland.

After the breakfast, I rushed back to Victoria in time to speak at a tree-planting and memorial on Shelbourne Street. It was a moving experience as we grieved and acknowledged the loss to Canada of Myles Mansell and Lt. Richard Nuttal, both of whom are loved and remembered by many in Saanich. They died fighting in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2009, respectively. I attended the funeral of Lt. Andrew Nuttall back in December and was struck by the strength of his family. I was very fortunate to meet his mom and dad at the tree planting this week. They are wonderful people.

With my kleenex box in tow, I met mid-week with the Saanich School Board Trustees. They have to make some harsh budgeting decisions in the next ten days. After our meeting, I rose in the House and raised the issue of inadequate funding for our schools with the Minister of Education during Question Period. I believe we need to do a better job at working collaboratively with education professionals in the schools. At current budget levels our children will lose library hours and kids with special needs will lose important teaching aids. Music programs are even at risk. At this rate I wonder what will become of our public education system......

With my cold at a high point, I gave a half hour speech opposing the HST. (Not my most energetic performance!) I focused on my experience of the debate in the House and the impact of the HST in the Comox Valley and Quadra Island, where I grew up. You can watch that by clicking here. I will have another 30 minute opportunity to speak about the HST and will be focusing on the effects we will feel in Saanich South.

On Wednesday we also finalized a few details for a public forum on “Highway Safety at the intersection of Sayward Road and the Pat Bay highway". This event will take place June 15, 2010, 7-8:30pm at Cordova Bay Elementary School. All are welcome. More details to be announced. Please help me learn about your experiences at this dangerous intersection by taking a few minutes to complete my short survey.

On Wednesday I also taped my Constituency Report with Shaw TV. (It will air Saturday May 8 at 5:30 pm and Sunday May 9, at 3 pm.) Why so much TV action when I could barely breath is beyond me! But I think it turned out well and I was able to toss a salad "live" and talk about what is available from our local farms and gardens at this time of year. I have included the recipe I used on the show. You can look for these local ingredients at farmers markets starting now.

BC Spring Kale Salad
  • Bunch of Kale
  • Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 2 BC Apples
  • Handful Toasted BC Hazelnuts/Filberts
  • Cup of cubed local cheese (your choice)

Chop Kale finely in strips. De-stem and Chop Parsley. Cube apple. Cube Cheese. Toast nuts. Toss! Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Eat your kale it is good for you!

Thursday night after the session ended, I drank a strong coffee and drove to Campbell River. In the morning I met up with Fin Donnelly, a MP in New Westminster/Coquitlam/Port Moody. Fin is the Federal Aquaculture Critic. We were there to learn more about fish farms. This is the second such tour I have done in less than a year. We visited an open-net fish farm and a closed containment fish farm. I learned a lot!

Whew! So now it's the weekend and I'm feeling all better! And yes, this weekend I got a little down time with my family and even planted a few seeds in my garden.

Thanks for reading and please keep in touch!

Cheers, Lana

PS. I usually send this update out to my email list but because of a computer break-down, I can`t do that today. If you would share this with your friends and families I would be grateful. Thanks.