Tuesday, May 27, 2014

BC Government failing to respect public school teachers

Lunch time and locked out at South Park today
Dear Saanich South,

Many of you have contacted me about the current labour dispute impacting public schools. I'm very concerned about this, and the impact of this disruption on hundreds of thousands of kids and their families.

I'm also angry at how the BC government is treating our teachers and the school system. Premier Clark and her government have not only failed to negotiate an agreement with teachers, they have escalated the conflict with a “partial lockout,” that disrupts school activities, including academic field trips, graduation activities, exam marking and report card updates.

Premier Clark has been a constant factor in this government’s decade of conflict with teachers in B.C.  As education minister in 2002, she passed a law that led to larger classes and less support for students with special needs. The B.C. Supreme Court struck down this law in 2011, and when the BC Liberal government introduced virtually identical legislation in 2012, they struck that down as unconstitutional as well.

In the court ruling released earlier this year, the judge chastised the government for bargaining in bad faith and attempting to provoke a full-scale strike in B.C. schools. Regrettably, recent attempts to provoke teachers and escalate tensions show the government has not changed its tactics.

Along with my colleagues, I will continue pressing the government to turn the page on twelve years of political failures that have harmed the education of a generation of kids and worsened the quality of employment of public school teachers. We will continue to support all good-faith efforts to reach a negotiated settlement.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Moms like Us

Dear Saanich South,

After years of painfully watching children fall through the cracks in our so-called mental health system in BC, a group of Victoria mothers are advocating for a new approach.

Last week, a group called Moms Like Us hosted an over-flowing meeting about an intriguing new model for community-based mental-health supports.

Moms Like Us invited the Executive Director of Richmond BC's Pathways Clubhouse for a presentation about this ground-breaking organization.

"Clubhouses" offer residences and supportive services to people with mental health challenges. Despite the title of "clubhouse" these facilities are about much more than fun: they offer a structured and safe place with a focus on transitional employment programs and support to help members access the mental health services they need, where such programs exist.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Small Business and MMBC

Dear Saanich South,

As many of you know, I am the Official Opposition Critic for Small Business, Tourism and Arts and Culture.

With respect to Small Business, one issue I have worked hard on is the impact of a ‘red-tape monster’, Multi-Materials BC (MMBC).

MMBC is a registered BC Non-Profit Society that has been given power by the Ministry of Environment to demand over $100 annually from businesses and take over the BC residential recycling sector.

For a balanced analysis of MMBC, see this article by Don Cayo in the Vancouver Sun.

Over the past few months I’ve raised many objections to this program, both within the Legislature and in meetings and correspondence with constituents, business-people, Chambers of Commerce, municipalities, MMBC, and the Auditor General of BC. [See here, and here.]

I’m pleased to note that the government has at last responded to one of the objections raised by myself and others, namely the excessive red-tape and financial burden MMBC would place on small business in BC.

Yesterday, the government finalized changes to the recycling regulations to exempt small producers of packing and printed paper (PPP). An exemption is granted if any one of the following four criteria is met:
  • Under one million dollars in annual revenues.
  • Under one tonne of packaging and printed paper supplied to B.C. residents.
  • Operate as a single point of retail sale and are not supplied by or operated as part of franchise or chain
  • Is a registered charity.
According to the BC government, these changes will exempt 99% of businesses in BC from MMBC.

In addition, medium-sized businesses which are not exempt but are still low-volume producers of PPP can now pay an annual fee instead of assuming the cost of detailed PPP accounting and cyclical reporting.

Although these changes are incomplete – many small businesses in BC will still be hit with excessive MMBC red-tape and exorbitant fees collected by an organization which is not financially accountable to the provincial government – they do improve a profoundly flawed system. This change is a great relief to many small businesses. 

I will continue to work on this file. There is much more to be done to ensure that BC has a regulatory residential recycling system in place that includes accountability mechanisms for funds collected through the authority of the government, encourages BC businesses, and protects the environment.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Community gathers to commemorate the Komagata Maru

On board the Komagata Maru. Front left is the organizer of the 
voyage, Gurdit Singh, who said: “We are British citizens and we 
consider we have a right to visit any part of the Empire.” 
Dear Saanich South,

Today marks the 100 year anniversary of an important moment of our history, the arrival and immediate on-board detention of 376 would-be new Canadians, mostly Sikhs from Punjab in India. This incident is known by the name of the ship they travelled on, the Komagata Maru.

All are invited to the Saanich Commonwealth Place this Wednesday, May 28th, 11am-12pm for: Echoes of Courage: Komagata Maru 1914-2014.

Community leaders will gather to commemorate the 100 year anniversary with a ceremony and the opening of a week-long educational exhibition. Light refreshments will be served.

This event is being organized by the India-Canada Cultural Association of Victoria with assistance from the municipality of Saanich and my office. I want to note with appreciation the volunteer leadership of Mr. Sabba Sall in organizing this event.

Mr. Sall writes:
The purpose of the exhibit on May 28th is to raise awareness about this incident so that injustices like it can be talked about honestly and so that they do not happen to any race regardless of colour or culture. We must be ever vigilant to ensure equality for all in Canada --our home.  
The Komagata Maru was anchored in the Burrard Inlet, as a fierce public and legal dispute raged over the right of those on board to enter Canada.

The passengers’ treatment was unquestionably defined by the racist sentiments of the time. They were deprived of due process, fair treatment, and even food and water. The ship was eventually forced to leave after a two month stand-off.

The incident marked a unifying moment for the now-vibrant and successful Indo-Canadian community, and it remains an historic event for Canada worthy of study and commemoration.

To learn more about the Komagata Maru incident, visit: http://komagatamaru100.com/

Warm regards, 


Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Confidential letter from ALC Chair has public steaming

Dear Saanich South,

Thank you for all the emails about Bill 24. I've received over 150 emails (and counting) on the topic. So far only 2 have been pro, all the rest have been against Bill 24. There is no doubt in my mind that the changes proposed by the BC Liberal government to the Agricultural Land Commission will harm farming, farmers and food security in BC.

In my opinion, the confidential letter referenced below completely invalidates the BC Government's attempt to turn Bill 24 into law. I call on Premier Clark and Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick to pull this Bill from the Order table and begin an open and transparent consultation process before attempting any further changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The government intends to put Bill 24 up for a final vote in less than a week. With your help I believe it can be stopped.



Confidential Letter from ALC Chair exposes hypocrisy of BC Liberal’s plan to ram through Bill 24

May 22, 2014
Today I am releasing a confidential letter from the Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission to the Deputy Ministry of Agriculture, dated December 23, 2013. This letter is a detailed response by the ALC Chair to proposals made by the BC Liberal government during the highly-secretive Core Review process.
This document, never seen publicly before today and sent anonymously to me last week, exposes the utter hypocrisy of the BC Liberals.
In eleven scathing pages, the ALC Chair Richard Bullock rips apart the BC Liberal plan that is now known as Bill 24.
Example 1.
The BC Liberals claim Bill 24 is to help farmers. However, Bullock states on page 7:
Example 2
The BC Liberals claim that land in “Zone 2” is of lower value as farmland then in “Zone 1”.
However, on page 8 Bullock states:
In addition, Bullock points out:
Example 3.
The BC Liberals dishonestly claim to have consulted. However, Bullock states:
This letter proves that the BC Liberal government introduced Bill 24 without meaningfully consulting with the most senior and knowledgeable person available. Mr. Bullock was appointed by the BC Liberals themselves, and has won widespread praise for his work as Chair. To exclude him from genuine consultations and to completely disregard the advice he gave is shocking and outrageous.
Furthermore, I know from  my own consultations that none of the groups he mentioned above were consulted before the Bill was introduced  and none of them have endorsed the Bill since.
The complete letter from the ALC Chair can be viewed here. An article published today about this letter by Andrew McLeod of the Tyee is available here.

Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Art Show & Open House: Friday, May 16th

Dear Saanich South,

I have always been a supporter of the arts. Since first being elected as Saanich South MLA in 2009 I have invited local artists to show their works at my community office.

Presently, the acrylic landscape and nature paintings enriching my office space are by Peter Van Giesen.

I am pleased to invite you to the first Art Show & Open House of 2014.

FRIDAY, MAY 16th, 2014
5:00pm - 7:00pm
4085-B Quadra Street (corner of Nicholson)

We will serve light refreshments and both myself and Mr. Van Giesen will be in attendance.

I hope to see you there.