Wednesday, April 30, 2014

No taxation without representation!

Dear Saanich South,

I rose in the House yesterday to challenge the BC government on their widely-panned scheme to change BC's successful recycling system. 

Starting May 19, the BC Government intends to force businesses to pay an onerous recycling tax to Multi-Materials BC. MMBC is a dummy corporation registered under the Society Act as a non-profit. It is in fact run by Ontario-based Vice Presidents of Unilever and Loblaws and it lacks basic financial accountability mechanisms. 

Nevertheless, the government has given it the authority (under Ministry of Environment regulations) to collect approximately $100 million dollars from businesses every year. Business owners are expected to pay this new tax but the government is refusing to ensure the monies are spent consistently with the rules of representative government.  

This is about government being accountable.

I asked the Minister of the Environment to address business owners concerns by ensuring that the Auditor General has jurisdiction to review MMBC. 

This was a straight-forward and legitimate question. 

Regrettably, Minister Polak’s response was to smear the Opposition, utterly misrepresent my own views and completely ignore the question.

This issue is of huge importance to many business people in BC right now...and they deserve much better from their government than this. 

I am continuing to actively work on this file. 

Background information here


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Agricultural Land Reserve - Update

Today we received news that the government is close to capitulating ...but the fight is not over yet!

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick has done the right thing and stated that Bill 24 is on hold - it may be changed or withdrawn. He is going to do a whirligig of consulting over the next couple of weeks. This is going to be a critical moment that everybody must participate in.

For the record, this is not the way to govern. Consultation should be done before tabling a bill....but now we are here.

Minister Bill Bennett tried to get away with something deceitful in this province. Under the cover of a phony "core review" he conjured up a mandate to destroy the ALR. Bill 24 opened a back door to remove land from 90% of the ALR for any 'prescribed reason'.

If the government wants to change critical legislation to improve how BC protects agricultural land and strengthens agriculture it must be transparent and consultative.

Minister Bennett's approach was the opposite of that.

In my opinion, the only option is to kill Bill 24.

It's not time to stand down, it's time to fight harder until we get official word that the people of BC won this fight.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stop Bill 24 to save the Agricultural Land Reserve

This week we see some major developments around Bill 24.

The BC Agriculture Council has reversed it's support, the grassroots groundswell of opposition to the Bill is growing by the day, and the Agriculture Minister is signalling that he is maybe hearing what we are saying.

This is not the time to let up, in fact it's time to crank it up!

We have one week until we return to the legislature. Bill 24 could come up for second reading on Monday.....and worst case get passed that day. This week is critical for getting the Bill withdrawn. Continue to write to the Agriculture Minister, Norm Letnick.

Can the people of British Columbia affect change?

Yes we can! Keep up the great work and let's finish strong!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Starry Nights Again!

Petitioners and Lana at public demo to save the Saanich Observatory,
August 24, 2013
Dear Friends of the Saanich Observatory,

I am very happy to share with you three pieces of good news about public access to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and the Centre of the Universe.

1. Star-Gazing Saturday Night on International Astronomy Day!
On Saturday May 3rd, from 8-11pm, the Centre of the Universe will be open! Volunteers with the Royal Astronomical Society (RASC) will have their telescopes set-up for public gazing and there will be tours of the Observatory itself. The powerful Plaskett Telescope will be operational, weather permitting. There will be lectures by National Research Council (NRC) astronomers later in the evening.

This free evening event will cap a full day of astronomy activities at the Royal BC Museum. More information available at

2. Summer Camp is back at the Saanich Observatory!
 This July and August, UVIC’s much-loved Science Venture is offering eight week-long Astronomy Camps at the Centre of the Universe! If you have kids in grade 3-8, check out the “spaceTECH” or “astroLAB” camps. SpaceTech will teach campers how technology makes it possible to live and work in space. AstroLAB focuses on stars, planets, galaxies, and hands-on building projects. The goal of both camps is to deepen knowledge and inspire our youth to learn about astronomy, physics and space technology – in a fun way, and now at a truly awesome location! Registration opens April 22nd. More information at

Friday, April 4, 2014

Rails to Relevance - what a trip!

Congratulations to Claremont teacher Mark Neufeld and everyone else who gave almost 50 students from Claremont the educational experience of a lifetime. 
As part of Claremont's Secondary's Institute for Global Solutions programme, the students travelled by train from Vancouver to Ottawa. They had a direct experience with the world of politics and learned about democracy and about our country. The trip was called "Rails to Relevance". 
It was my pleasure to join them on this trip*. Along with with Elizabeth May, the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, and their teachers, we helped the kids investigate two fundamental questions: 
1. What does it mean to be a citizen of Canada? 
2. What is Canada’s responsibility to the world?
In answering those questions the students met many of the prescribed learning outcomes for Social Studies 11 and Sustainability a creative, engaging and fun way. 
For more info, check out the Insitute on facebook or watch this video!

*A personal expense.