Monday, April 30, 2012

Too much risk, too little benefit: Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal

Prince Rupert protest vs. Enbridge
Northern Gateway Pipeline, Feb 2012 
Dear Saanich South,

Today all members of the Official Opposition signed a letter that rejects the Northern Gateway Project.

This project proposes a pipeline to move crude oil from Alberta through BC wilderness to Kitimat. There it would be loaded onto super-tankers and shipped mostly to Asia. Once complete, the pipeline and terminal would result in 104 new jobs in Alberta and British Columbia.

Under Enbridge’s current proposal, BC would take on almost all of the risk and receive next to none of the benefits.

I've long been opposed to this project. You can read a 2010 post - "Can we learn from our mistakes?" from me about this here.

I’m proud of the statement we submitted today to the National Energy Board. It demonstrates a strong commitment to the environment, to First Nations and to the long-term best interests of British Columbia.

Here is a summary of why we're opposed:

Friday, April 20, 2012

A rare victory!

Kye with our rescued dog, Jake
Yesterday I had a good day at the Legislature. Even though I am part of the "Official Opposition" our job is to do more than  "oppose". And even though the Legislature is an inescapably partisan place, opportunities arise to work in a cooperative way with the government.

Over the last few weeks, I've spoken to many people who strongly opposed the government's proposed amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Most of the people who contacted me about this raised concerns that echoed the SPCA's perspective. The SPCA - which is responsible for the work laid out in this Bill - was very worried about  several parts of it and was demanding that it be withdrawn. 

To try and address a number of the concerns raised, I proposed several changes to the Bill. I'm happy to report that most of them have now been incorporated and will become part of the legislation. The SPCA is also pleased about these changes and is no longer calling for the Bill to be repealed.

There are more details in the article below by Rob Shaw of the Times Colonist and underneath that is a statement put out yesterday by the BC SPCA.

NDP scores changes to animal cruelty amendment bill

by Rob Shaw, Times Colonist. Nov. 19, 2012

B.C.’s Opposition NDP appears to have scored a rare victory on a government bill, by convincing Agriculture Minister Don McRae to change his animal cruelty legislation.
The bill, introduced last month, has been slammed by the B.C. SPCA because it would send appeals of animal seizures to the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board instead of B.C. Supreme Court.
The SPCA was worried the farm review board appeals process would take much longer, and the agency would be stuck with the cost of caring for the seized animals without any way to get the owner to pay until the appeal was complete. That could have threatened the SPCA’s ability to pay to care for other animals on a limited budget.
The amendments, to be introduced in the legislature Thursday, will give the SPCA the ability to ask the farm review board for interim costs from the owner of the seized animals. It’s similar to how the agency is currently able to ask the B.C. Supreme Court for interim costs — a provision that wasn’t carried over in McRae’s original bill.
SPCA CEO Craig Daniell said his organization is “really pleased” with the changes.
“That was probably our biggest concern about the bill when it was originally introduced,” he said. “Our opposition has always been, without having the mechanism to have interim costs, the matter could be further delayed. With this particular amendment a lot of our concerns have been addressed. Not all of the concerns but some of our biggest concerns.”
The amendments were originally proposed behind-the-scenes by the NDP and then accepted and turned into government amendments Thursday by minister McRae, said agriculture critic Lana Popham.
“This is a big deal because these cases, depending on how complicated they are, are very very expensive,” said Popham. “It may not just be a cat that’s seized it could be a herd of horses that take a lot of expense. The government currently does not fund any of that for the SPCA, even though they are required to house these animals. It just makes it more fair.”
It’s relatively rare for the Opposition to convince government to change its own legislation while it is being debated on the floor of the legislature.
“It actually wasn’t that painful, it was a fairly co-operative process,” said Popham.
A second amendment changes the bill to also require any government agents that seize animals to have approximately the same training as current SPCA officers, said Popham.
The Opposition will now vote in favour of the bill with the changes, said Popham. It’s set for committee-stage debate at the legislature Thursday.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Art of Marti Mussell on display at Community Office

"A moment in space, a moment in time" Acrylic.
On display at Community Office
Dear Saanich South,

I'm very pleased to announce that my community office is now showing the artwork of Marti Mussell.

Marti is a long-time resident of Saanich South and is well known in the Victoria artist community with showings most recently at the Sooke Fine Art Show, the Sidney Fine Art Show and the Martin Bachelor Gallery. Her work has also been displayed at Saanich Municipal Hall, Glendale Gardens and as far afield as as the David Guzman National Art Museum in El Salvador.

Marti's work is abstract and beautifully textured. She uses a range of mediums and techniques including pastel, ink, collage and printmaking. She says "the themes of place and time are important to me - I have been using leaves in recent work because of their textures and because they are so evocative of a specific place and the passing of time."

Thank you Marti for sharing your artwork with Saanich South! The community is welcome to drop by the office Monday-Thursday 9:30am-5:00pm.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

B.C. Seniors' Home Renovation Tax Credit?

Dear Saanich South,

My community office continues to receive calls, emails and visits from seniors who are excited about a brand new program that has already been announced and re-announced several times by the BC Liberals.

According to a press release sent out by the government on April 1st, the $1000 “B.C. Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit” is now available.

However, when my staff contacted the Ministry on April the 2nd to get more information for inquiring constituents we learned that the programme is actually not available.

In fact, there is no way to apply for it, the exact rules of the program have not been established and the enabling legislation has not even been introduced.

And if that is not enough, the fine print that has been disclosed makes this program far less significant than it seems.

The credit will apparently be only for certain types of renovations. For example, it can't be used to do renovations such as a roof repair or a wiring upgrade.

In addition, the $1,000 figure is the maximum allowable and only available if the seniors do repairs worth at least $10,000.

Assuming it is brought in as promised, the programme could help seniors make their homes more accessible. The plan is to make the credit available for things like a wheel-chair ramp. Properly implemented this should benefit seniors who already have the wherewithal to pay 90% of the cost of such improvements

But for now seniors are left with an overstated promise of a “home renovation tax credit” that is not available.

The latest press release trumpeting the program went out on April Fool’s Day. I suppose the joke is on seniors but it isn't funny.

If you would like an update when (if) this program finally becomes available, please let my community office know at 250 479 4154.


Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South

For more information, check out an article on this subject by Rob Shaw in today's Times Colonist: