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Is it a Dictatorship Disguised as Democracy?

from B.C., Canada

Community Comment Form

LAST UPDATE January 26, 2015

Click on your refresh button in the top menu, to be sure you see any updates.

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People should be government, not politicians!!

Get out and vote, democracy is not a spectator sport!!

Blue Divider Line

DICTATORSHIP DISGUISED AS DEMOCRACY, OR NOT?
WHAT DO YOU THINK??

"Council's not bound by the results of the referendum," said Wendy Kay, chief administrative officer.
"Council's not bound by the results of the referendum," said Wendy Kay, chief administrative officer.
Snippet from article below "The wrong message" that we found in the Vernon Morning Star Wednesday, December 12, 2007 pg A8 regarding the Coldstream referendum.

The wrong message
article written by Richard Rolke
Did you know that council is not bound by a referendum??
(click article to read larger print)
This article is from the Vernon Morning Star Wednesday, December 12, 2007 pg A8.
"Council's not bound by the results of the referendum," said Wendy Kay, chief administrative officer.

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Give businesses back the vote
Vernon Morning Star - April 10, 2010

Up until 1993, B.C. small businesses could vote in municipal elections. This ability to vote recognized the contribution small and medium-sized businesses make to the economy and to our communities. The decision to rescind the business vote was an historic mistake that must be corrected.

Like the Boston Tea Party, it’s an issue of taxation without representation. B.C.’s small businesses are being taxed to the breaking point by municipal governments. Businesses pay on average three and up to seven times more property tax than a resident on the same value property.

In Vernon, a resident paid $2,930.74 on an average residential property worth $390,685.00 in 2008. A business owner paid $8,600.31 — over three times more—on the same value property. To add insult to injury, businesses pay for their garbage collection on top of that.

Yet a January 2007 study by the City of Vancouver shows that businesses use only 24% of municipal services while residents use 76%. If residents were taxed like businesses, there would be a tax revolt.

Over-taxed and under-represented, small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of B.C.’s economy. They account for 98% of all businesses and 34% of our gross domestic product. 82% have fewer than five employees and together they employ 56% of B.C.’s private-sector workforce.

Many small business owners work over 60 hours a week. Many take very personal risks like mortgaging their homes or taking out loans against RRSPs in order to start, expand or keep staff employed in tough circumstances. In the recent recession, businesses with 1 – 19 employees only laid-off .5% of their staff compared to businesses with more than 500 employees that laid-off 8.8%.

The next time you drive by a soccer field or baseball diamond think about the small business that likely donated the children’s uniforms.

Small business owners take tremendous personal risks that drive the economy and benefit society in general.

So how can we get municipal governments to recognize this vital contribution?

The answer lies in a well-established principle — no taxation without representation. If municipalities are going to tax small businesses to the hilt, fairness requires we grant business owners the vote.

Robin Blencoe repealed the business vote in 1993 claiming that it removes the possibility of people simply leasing parking spots and storage lockers to vote. Blencoe’s flippancy was just one indication of how decision-makers overlook the concerns of small businesses.

In London, England, the birthplace of our democracy, businesses have a number of votes based on their number of employees. CFIB suggests every business would qualify for one vote only, whether they own, lease or rent their premises, just as residents qualify regardless of whether they own, lease or rent a home.

In B.C. the business right to vote in municipal elections was removed. This decision reflected widespread ignorance about small businesses owners - the risks they take, their importance to the economy, their contributions to society, their heavy tax burden and their lack of representation. Business owners deserve fair representation. The only thing that will start to grant them representation with their municipal tax masters is restoration of the municipal business vote.

Brian Bonney, Director of Provincial Affairs, BC for Canadian Federation of Independent Business

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HST weighs on B.C. Liberals
Kelowna Daily Courier Staff - 2009-12-17

A recent poll conducted by Innovative Research Group for the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association shows the B.C. Liberal party support is collapsing under the weight of the proposed harmonized sales tax.

The poll, conducted Nov. 14 to 19, shows the NDP leading with 25 per cent approval, with the B.C. Liberals at 22 per cent. The B.C. Conservative Party has 14 per cent support.

The poll also showed a majority or 54 per cent of British Columbians believe B.C. is on the wrong track.

Wayne McGrath said the poll is much more reflective of what he is hearing on the street from ordinary British Columbians.

“This is exciting news,” said the B.C. Conservative Party president, who makes his home in Vernon.

“If an election were held today, there would be a minority government in B.C. with the B.C. Conservatives holding the balance of power. We would be able to hold the government to account and help kill the HST,” McGrath said.

“Many people in B.C. have had enough of the Liberals, but fear the emergence of the NDP. With a strong B.C. Conservative Party as an alternative, we would be able to stop the NDP from getting a majority. Without a strong third party like us, Liberal voters will stay home and the NDP would get a majority. The B.C. Conservatives are not prepared to let this happen,” said McGrath.

Voter disenchantment is widespread and deep, according to McGrath, beyond just the introduction of an unpopular tax to a myriad of issues that affect British Columbians. He gets the sense that more and more people think they are being dictated to rather than served by their provincial government.

The party will hold a policy development convention in May, followed by a leadership convention to elect a new leader in the fall.

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Democracy, honesty, integrity are missing from economic picture
Kelowna Capital News - Letters - Published: January 24, 2009

To the editor:

Robert Cichocki’s letter (Case Against Capitalism Grows As World Economies Continue To Tank, Jan. 16 Capital News) was right on regarding the number one enemy of our economy and the standard of living of citizens of this country and of the United States.

Greed-infested monopoly capitalism does lead to the destruction of democracy and eventually to oligarchy. The erosion of democracy, as it was established, has been allowed and in many ways selfishly promoted by our political system at all levels over recent years.

I was outraged when I read an article from The Canadian Press, Jan. 16 that said prices are rising while crude prices are falling—what gives?

“With crude oil prices falling, motorists may wonder why gasoline prices are heading in the other direction. The average Canadian pump price has risen to around 81.4 cents per litre—about 3 cents more than a week ago. Meanwhile, the Feb. contract for crude oil has fallen to under US$35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down from more than $50 US a barrel a week ago.

“Economist Todd Hirsch says crude oil is a major cost in the production of gasoline but there are other factors as well. He says companies that make gasoline have to account for transportation and other expenses—not to mention taxes.

“Hirsch also notes energy companies have to make as much profit as possible for their shareholders and will charge as much for gasoline as the market will bear.”

Is this not a prime example of greed? Does Big Oil think Canadians are stupid? Energy company shareholders should take their lumps the same as shareholders with other investments.

We must realize that in Canada absolutely everything we use or consume is transported at some point and in most cases, long distances by truck. As the cost of fuel rises, so does the price of all consumer goods, including food.

Could it be greed that does now allow prices to drop with any decline in fuel costs? Many energy companies have policies designed to make excessive profits and pay obscene salaries, benefits and multi-million dollar bonuses to executive personnel.

Federal and provincial governments could “stimulate” the economy by cutting and capping the excessive taxes on diesel and gasoline and spending the money where it was originally intended. The carbon tax is nothing but a tax grab.

The economy will not be rescued by bailouts which are actually a reward for bad management.

Wake up Canada and stop complaining about the system you are responsible for. It has been decades in the making so now is the time to start bringing back democracy, honesty and integrity, moral values, responsibility and common sense.

Fred Anderson,
Kelowna

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Below are 3 letters articles that people wrote to the Vernon Morningstar regarding dictatorship.  If you think these are good articles, you can download the image below here, and forward it to your friends,

Letters people wrote on dictatorship and the Canadian government.
(click article to read larger print)

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Community Charter
[SBC 2003] CHAPTER 26
Part 4 — Public Participation and Council Accountability
Division 1 — Elections, Petitions and Community Opinion

Council may seek community opinion
83 (1) A council may seek community opinion on a question that the council believes affects the municipality, by voting or any other process the council considers appropriate.

(2) The results of a process under this section are not binding on the council.

http://www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/stat/C/03026_04.htm#section83

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Remember when...
By Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star - Published: September 04, 2008

Respect used to given freely. Now it’s tossed aside with the morning trash.

Whether it was your boss, your grandparents, politician or older sibling, everyone had your respect. But now respect seems to be fading as quickly as the summer’s warmth.

One fine example of this is how disrespectful the District of Coldstream is coming across to taxpayers, and particularly the fire departments.

The fact that the council fired a man who has dedicated himself to the community’s safety by volunteering his time for nearly 25 years is a complete slap in the face. Leo Lecavalier was dismissed as fire chief Aug. 1, and although a month has passed, community furor is still fresh.

But it’s the history behind how a fire department operates that has really been disrespected.

The Coldstream Fire Department is strictly volunteer. Members do receive a small annual payment for their services. It’s far below what they deserve, but remember, they don’t do it for the money – hence the term volunteer.

Like so many other departments, Coldstream’s members are screened and voted in by the membership. It is also the membership who votes on the chief.

Coldstream council claims it has final approval on the chief and every member. While that may be true, the dismissal of a chief is traditionally not a role any municipality takes on.

The fact that council rammed a decision down the throat of the fire department, against its members' wishes, is beyond disrespectful to every one in the department.

Council not only disrespected the membership’s decision to have Lecavalier as their chief, but council did it behind closed doors, without first consulting with those very members who voted the fire chief in.

Double slap.

Then there is the simple fact that these are our community’s heroes. They are the ones who brave the hellish face of fire to save our homes, our landscape, our environment, our lives.

History will show you that firefighters have always been highly respected in society.

Don’t Coldstream’s firefighters and fire chief deserve the same respect?

Another act of disrespect comes to both the department and the entire community as council hides behind a door of secrecy.

Due to in-camera legislation which protects the employee (Lecavalier) they will not discuss why the chief was fired. That only leaves residents to come up with their own conclusions, and the longer council remains silent the deeper those conclusions will sink in.

On top of that, Coldstream’s administrative staff will not allow the residents to voice their opinions to their elected officials at a public council meeting.

One slap for freedom of speech (actually two, if you go with a conclusion many have formulated – that Lecavalier was fired because he spoke up over displeasure of how the fire department building process was handled).

While the public’s voice is being muzzled on this issue (along with the firefighters who have been told not to discuss the situation with the media), you can write a letter and council will consider it at an in-camera meeting.

All these slaps are adding up to a heaping pile of disrespect.

Not just for the fire department or the community, but for the District of Coldstream – staff, councillors, administration and all. Because in the end, most people will not only lose their respect for the district, but their trust too.

With so much disrespect, it can only breed more harsh feelings, which is in turn putting respect further along the endangered species list.

It sure makes you miss the good old days when high regard was respected.

Blue Divider Line

Civics lesson
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published: September 05, 2008

Do you ever get the feeling that everything you say, falls on deaf ears? Especially with government? Guess what......we allow this to happen.

We hear what the government proposes or rather 'tells' us what we want next, ... then when we ask questions or, heaven forbid, oppose whatever it is, they push, we fight it, and then they do it anyway.......because we let it happen.

Specifying the local issues, here are some examples.......

The next rounabout: The meeting was 100-strong and not overwhelmingly in favor of either East Hill traffic alteration. There is a 296-name petition against this roundabout but hey, the city knows best....right?

They will do whatever they deem necessary, whenever they want to, without the need to really listen to the people.

On the flipside, they will halt progress by some businesspersons to develop their own business, unless the city gets what they want from that person.

Those of you that keep sending in letters in favor of this roundabout to The Morning Star.....wake up and smell the coffee! Whether a roundabout is good or not, is not the issue.......whether it is warranted or needed, is. This one is not!

I have lived in Vernon my entire life and am a professional driver. I have driven many vehicles of different sizes, from small cars to tractor-trailers through that intersection. It is great!

Probably, the best functioning 4-way stop, ( really, a 5-way now), that we have. Why spend the money?? In doing so, the city is creating controversy which simply adds stress to all those within earshot who may have an interest, and it is costing unnecessary expense to deal with this on many levels, .... when it is simply not needed!

And what about Dr. Denk's office? Is he not a taxpayer and a valuable member to our community? I would say yes. Should he not be taken seriously? I would say yes again. The city says this issue is now dead. That was quick for something that has sooooo much mixed opinion eh?

Keep fighting Dr. Denk....you have my full support!

The 4-way stop issue: Hmmmmm, ...let's see if I get this.

There is overwhelming support for this 4-way stop at 43rd ave. and 20th st., and yet, the city is not listening or rather, not hearing the people. This time, it is a 600-name petition for the 4-way stop! The city is 'chinzing out' on this one.

Answer this one Lorne.....we now have, recently installed, 4-way stops downtown at....31st ave & 31st st., .... 31st ave & 33rd st., .... 29th ave & 33rd st., ... completely destroying what was the existing traffic flow off of Hwy 97 and keeping more vehicle emissions right downtown for us to enjoy.

Those 4-way stops went up with little more than a sign informing us of the change in traffic pattern.

Where is the logic?

Don't give up the fight for the 4-way stop at 43rd and 20th yet folks.

The sewage treatment plant: Well, here we are now, several years after our new sewage treatment plant,... (you know, .... the odourless wonder of technology!), ....has been completed. Hmmmmm. Been by there lately? It is smelling bad again. Has been since last fall.

I have called the city expressing this concern.

The explanation?

They were supposedly taking old equipment and material away from the site which was causing this. Ok. Well, here we are......September of the following year. They are now parking buses on it. Still smells bad.

What about that Vernon? Are we going to enjoy the benefits of this new multi-million dollar technology soon? How about finishing this project properly?

Bottom line for this, my opinion.....the City of Vernon simply does not spend the taxpayers' money effectively.

It enters into debates about things that its employers, (yes council, you work for the citizens), don't want, but doesn't listen.

It spends money on things not wanted and yet, stops paying for things the citizens want and enjoy, (airshow, entrances to town, fireworks, etc.).

Maybe the next roundabout should go right around city hall, since it seems to go around in circles when trying to make these effective decisions with it's taxpayers' money.

Council beware.....you work for the people of Vernon, ... your employers.

Do right by them! Remember that when the next election comes, ... your employers outnumber you.

Rory White

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Crowd demands answers to loss of fire chief
By Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star - Published: September 09, 2008

Despite being banned from bringing up the firing of Coldstream’s fire chief, a few residents managed to wedge their opinions through at Monday’s council meeting.

While the disobedience produced some stunned faces among district staff and council, the approximately 70 people who packed the Lavington Elementary gym exploded with applause.

Among the two individuals to voice their concerns was John Hegler, who is known for not being shy when it comes to sharing his thoughts on council decisions.

Hegler appeared as a delegation but had previously been told that he could not discuss the dismissal of fire chief Leo Lecavalier.

So he tip toed around the topic, talking about the fire department in general and their constitution.

“The leader of the fire department shall be elected each year by the members. At that time if council does approve or not approve, that’s when they can get rid of him,” Hegler read from his notes.

He went on to explain that the membership is responsible for their own advertising, hiring, training, etc.

“They’re not Coldstream employees are they? They do it all themselves.”

Becoming a member of the fire department also means you must live in Coldstream.

“Yet you can be an alderman and you can live in Vancouver or Timbuktu. Kinda strange.”

Hegler also pointed out some Coldstream facts.

Listing the chain of command, he noted how the councillors sit below the taxpayers, who vote them in.

“As one of your employers, and as a taxpayer, I’m not asking you, I’m demanding, I want to know how you voted,” he said, referring to the in-camera meeting that led to Lecavalier’s Aug. 1 dismissal.

The school gym immediately echoed with applause over Hegler’s daring demand.

But Mayor Gary Corner immediately denied his request.

Coun. Bill Firman was expected to raise a motion at the in-camera meeting following the public portion Monday to disclose how everyone voted at that fateful meeting.

Firman did make the motion, but whether councillors denied it or agreed to the disclosure is not being released because it is an in-camera issue.

Another individual also took the stage to speak on behalf of the organization and constitution of fire departments.

Retired Lavington fire chief Tony Metz stood up to explain just what every member of the fire department, including the chief, means to each other.

Joining the hall in his early 20s, Metz said he looked up to the members, who took him under their wing and taught him so much.

As in every fire department, camaraderie played a large role in their duty to protect the community. But when one of the team members is taken from them, particularly their ring leader, it’s a tremendous blow to the entire operation, said Metz.

“For a (district) to take away a leader is hard to take and I just hope something can be done about it.”

Instead of echoing, the applause rolled into a thunderous boom for Metz’ speech.

In his presentation, Hegler also applauded the fire departments for everything they do, adding that most people don’t realize just how much they do.

“I know I have taken them for granted.”

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Democracy?
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published: September 09, 2008

So the roundabout is a done deal huh! Glad to see democracy in action! Glad to see that there is a deadline on democracy! I just have a few questions?

Since when is Pleasant Valley Road and 32nd Ave. such a high accident area? I have lived in the East Hill area most of my life and don't remember many accidents at this intersection. If this is the reason for the roundabout, perhaps 43rd ave and 20th St. might be a better locale. Of course, 43rd and 20th is not where several city councilors live, and gosh knows all this traffic flowing through PV and 32nd Ave. disturbs their idyllic lifestyle! I would think that numerous accidents, some of which were fatal, would warrant something a little more extreme at 43rd and 20th, as opposed to moving the stop signs further out, and narrowing the lanes!

Councilor Beardsell dismissed the petition from Dr. Denk's office, since it was signed by people who "do not live on the East Hill." Since when was this a prerequisite for signing a petition? Don't many people use this intersection, to transit the area, but may not actually live in the vicinity of this intersection. Ya gotta love democracy! The City of Vernon dictates to owners of heritage houses, what improvements they can and can't do, including which trees can be removed etc. Yet suddenly this same City of Vernon can arbitrarily decimate these heritage properties at their whim. Seems like a double standard to me.

I am not against the concept of roundabouts. What I am against is council spending taxpayers dollars where it is not needed! If we must spend this money, perhaps it could be spent on something we need, say perhaps paving 32nd Ave to start. Perhaps a roundabout should be put at 43rd and 20th as something more drastic needs to be done there. Let's see democracy actually work.

Bob Cail

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Rules get ratepayers riled up
By Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star - Published: September 05, 2008

The Coldstream Ratepayers Association says democracy is being muzzled.

The District of Coldstream has denied the CRA from appearing as a delegation at Monday’s council meeting in Lavington.

The reason is due to the topic of the CRA’s presentation – the dismissal of fire chief Leo Lecavalier.

The district says the issue is in-camera (to protect the employee) and therefore no public opportunity to address council on the issue will be permitted. Written letters will be accepted and may be considered by council at an in-camera meeting.

“This refusal of council to permit a delegation of ratepayers to present our concerns, along with council’s threat to ‘discipline’ any firefighters who speak out on the issue implies a concerted effort to muzzle public discussion on an issue all ratepayers need to be fully aware of,” said Steve Heeren, CRA’s new president.

The CRA had held a meeting on the issue of Lecavalier’s dismissal Aug. 21 and was hoping to present its resolutions to council.

The resolutions, passed at the packed meeting, read: (1) that the fire chief be immediately reinstated, (2) that Coldstream council publicly provide an explanation for its decision to fire Leo, partly in order to restore his status in the community and squelch rumors swirling around the issue, and (3) that resolutions one and two be presented to council by a delegation from the CRA at its next meeting.

Although the fire department has stated that public safety remains a priority, there are fears that the members may disband in protest.

“What would the consequences for taxpayers be, if it should happen that our volunteers simply quit?” questions Heeren. “At a huge annual expense we would be stuck with a ‘professional’ firefighter squad, not likely to be any more qualified than our present volunteer firefighters.”

Therefore the CRA is urging all Coldstream citizens to attend Monday’s council meeting in Lavington, in the Lavington Elementary school gymnasium on School Road at 7 p.m.

The CRA also invites the public to its next meeting Sept. 18 at the Women’s Institute Hall from 7 to 9 p.m.

There the civic elections will be the highlight of discussions.

“We need to start thinking and planning about getting councillors in Coldstream who are genuinely responsive to the concerns of the public,” said Heeren.

“I’m not for in-camera, I’m for openness,” said Heeren in a previous interview with The Morning Star. “Democracy is our only hope.”

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Democracy shoved aside
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Published: September 02, 2008

For anyone who ever sat through a political science class, lessons about democracy always got back to a basic point — that rank-and-file citizens have a right to have their voices heard by elected officials. But I'm getting the feeling that the powers-that-be in Coldstream failed the course completely.

Resident John Hegler is concerned about the district's recent decision to dismiss volunteer fire chief Leo Lecavalier, so he decided the best way to express his views would be to appear before council Sept. 8. As the process dictates, Hegler wrote district staff asking to be added to the agenda as a delegation.

Late last week, though, Hegler received word that his request was denied because the district didn't like the subject matter.

"That's not right, that's not democratic," he said.

"I have a right as a taxpayer to ask how they voted (on firing Lecavalier)."

Wendy Kay, chief administrative officer, confirms that Hegler's request to make a presentation, as well as that from the Coldstream Ratepayers Association, has been turned down.

"It's an employment issue," she said of Lecavalier being removed from his position.

"Council is bound by different legislation and they can't discuss it in an open meeting."

Kay goes on to say that, "If people wish to provide letters, council will discuss them in-camera."

But that, quite frankly, isn't good enough when it comes to an issue that saw a veteran community volunteer shown the door.

And to say that residents can't appear before council because of provincial in-camera legislation is a complete joke. The rules only prevent council members from not openly discussing the matter. Nothing precludes them from sitting there and listening to residents provide their input. Of course they would be forced to stay quiet, and politicians being politicians, that could prove difficult for some.

Ultimately, council is telling residents that their views are unimportant and decisions can be made in isolation from those who put them there. Talk about top-down government.

As I indicated a few weeks ago, if council truly believes that firing Lecavalier was the right decision for the community, and it can be defended legally, then what is there to hide?

Why can't residents at least know which members of council voted to dismiss Lecavalier and who didn't?

We should also keep in mind that there are serious ramifications from the entire issue.

Who has the right to select the chief — council or the volunteer members of the fire department? Who has the right to determine who actually belongs to the department — district administration or the firefighters? If the volunteers get fed up with interference and walk, will the council have to hire full-time firefighters at a huge cost to taxpayers? If there is an interruption in service, will property and lives be put at risk?

I don't believe council and administration seriously considered all of the implications when the decision was made to let Lecavalier go.

But the most serious breech of judgement is telling voters that they can be seen but not heard. And that's especially true when you consider who pays their salary.

"I am their employer," said Hegler.

If democracy continues to be cast aside in Coldstream, I suspect the employers will be handing out pink slips to a few of their employees during November's civic election.

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Road closures draw criticism
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 26, 2008

A Vernon politician believes construction could lead to traffic gridlock.

The City of Vernon is launching widespread improvements to 32nd Avenue, between 27th Street and Pleasant Valley Road, at the same time that 39th Avenue is also being upgraded.

“Having both roads closed at the same time is a mistake,” said Coun. Pat Cochrane.

Those concerns are also shared by Mayor Wayne Lippert.

“There could be some interesting challenges,” he said of traffic trying to access or leave East Hill.

However, city staff are confident that the impact of construction on motorists will be manageable.

“There will be increased traffic on 30th, 35th and 43rd avenues but those roads can handle it,” said Rob Dickinson, manager of engineering services.

According to Dickinson, the work on 32nd Avenue is necessary.

“There will be full sewer, water and road upgrades,” he said.

Not part of the project at this time is the proposed roundabout for 32nd Avenue and Pleasant Valley Road. Work on that will not begin until next year.

Because of that, Cochrane is left wondering why resident are being told that a final decision on the roundabout has been made.

“If we are not actually working on the intersection any time soon, there could be some critique on design,” he said.

City staff states that the future of the roundabout can’t be revisited because it’s been more than 30 days since council voted to construct the traffic device at the intersection.

It’s also been pointed out by staff that work has started on the project.

“There’s been some significant money already spent on the design,” said Leon Gous, the city’s chief administrative officer.

But if that’s the case, Cochrane says council should have never accepted a 296-name petition from residents opposed to the roundabout.

“They should have the expectation that their petition means something,” he said.

“They get their hopes up and it’s not fair.”

Coun. Patrick Nicol believes many residents never felt part of the process, and the city has ignored their wishes.

“This was one of the poorer decisions I’ve seen in 25 years,” he said.

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Citizens demand chief’s reinstatement
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 22, 2008

Demands are growing to have Coldstream’s longtime fire chief back on the job.

About 150 people attended a Coldstream Ratepayers Association meeting Thursday, and they unanimously agreed that district council should reinstate Leo Lecavalier, who was fired Aug. 1 as the fire chief.

“The power of this resolution will send a message to council,” said Andy Danyliu, who made the motion.

Those present also demanded that council make a full apology to Lecavalier for the dismissal, and that the politicians provide an explanation for their actions.

“Mayor Corner has said it’s not work related so why did they fire him?” said Danyliu.

No details have been released about the dismissal of Lecavalier, who had been with the fire department for almost 25 years.

The firing comes less than a month after Lecavalier publicly expressed concern about the construction of a new fire hall on Aberdeen Road.

Councillors Bill Firman and Mary Malerby attended Thursday’s town hall meeting, and most of the crowd’s frustration was directed towards Malerby.

“What has happened has nothing to do with Leo’s ability as a fireman,” said Malerby.

Malerby stated she could not get into specifics because personnel matters are in-camera under provincial legislation, but the district’s lawyer had advised council that Lecavalier and other firefighters are employees, not volunteers.

“Like it or lump it, that’s what the law said,” said Malerby as some people openly challenged her.

“I’m here trying to tell you what happened and it’s not as black and white as you think.”

Many in the crowd questioned the municipality’s definition of the firefighters as employees.

“This gentleman put his life on the line and he received $3,000 (for practices and call-outs). That’s not a salary, that’s peanuts,” said resident John Hegler.

A former colleague came to Lecavalier’s defence.

“Leo is very opinionated and that’s why he was elected every year (by the firefighters). He was there to represent his members,” said Tony Metz, who served for many years as Lavington’s fire chief.

There is also some concern that Lecavalier just can’t serve as a firefighter, although the department has traditionally decided who is a member.

“We have to stand behind him and the members. If we let council decide who stays in the hall, we won’t get any members,” said Metz.

Some residents are concerned that volunteer firefighters could quit over the dispute and that would leave Coldstream without fire protection.

“Our fire insurance rates are reasonable and all because the firefighters are doing the job for us,” said Gyula Kiss, who chaired the meeting.

Kiss added that the only other option would be to hire full-time firefighters and taxpayers can’t afford that.

Mayor Gary Corner was not at the meeting, but he is aware of the resolutions coming from the association.

“They are welcome to bring them forward and council will look at them,” he said.

Corner would not comment on the likelihood of Lecavalier being reinstated.

“I don’t want to speak personally to that because it’s an in-camera issue,” he said.

The association is expected to appear before council Sept. 8 to push for Lecavalier’s reinstatement.

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Departments face changes
By Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star - Published: August 19, 2008

A fire department’s opposition to council’s orders is supposed to remain private in Coldstream.

Therefore to ensure resistance stays silent, Coldstream council has efforts underway to adjust the operations of its two departments.

“As a senior staff member, you’re expected to take direction from council, whether you like it or not...not to publicly go out with your opposition,” said Wendy Kay, chief administrative officer.


The efforts, which are to provide clearer direction for the departments, are aimed to bring both fire halls on the same page.

The Coldstream and Lavington Fire Departments are actually one department with two fire halls.

They have similarities in operations, but also operate separately in some aspects.

“We’re looking at matching the two of them up because there’s some discrepancies,” said Mayor Gary Corner.

The changes to come into effect won’t impact the departments’ actual constitutions, said Kay, but are based on two documents which council and the departments are to abide by. They are: the memorandum of understanding and communication protocol.

The documents have been in effect since 2006, at which time the two departments’ constitutions were also made similar.

“It’s been official for the past two years, but there’s been some resistance,” said Kay.

An example of how the departments have been operating since 2006 includes calls for service.

When there’s a structure fire at the Coldstream end, Lavington is supposed to respond to the border (in the Coldstream Ranch area) until further direction is received – either their assistance is needed or they can stand down.

The situation works the same for Coldstream when there is a structure fire at the Lavington end.

“They’re to work together, where it makes sense to do so as one,” said Kay.

“Prior to 2006 both fire halls had different constitutions. They did training on their own, did their own budgets.

“For years they’ve acted independently.”

Now training and budgets are done in unison, said Kay.

Another example Kay provides of the fire halls working in unison includes council’s recent wishes for one common fire hall logo.

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Mayor just doesn't get it
Vernon Morning Star - Opinion - Published: August 15, 2008

It's increasingly obvious that Coldstream Mayor Gary Corner doesn't understand the severity of firing the community's volunteer fire chief.

Corner has stated that he's more than willing to discuss the matter with the firefighters if he is asked to, but why is he putting the onus on them? It was Corner and his council that dismissed Leo Lecavalier as chief, a position he was elected to by the rank-and-file membership. It should be Corner and his council going to the department and explaining why the decision was made.

Corner also likes to point out that staffing is handled by the chief administrative officer, but it was a decision of council to fire Lecavalier. Politicians can't walk away from something they are ultimately responsible for.

Corner also doesn't expect the municipality to provide any details on the dismissal to the public because personnel matters are confidential under provincial legislation. But while that may be true, it's convenient to hide behind the rules when you know your actions have caused a lot of harm and upset people.

On the other hand, Coun. Bill Firman is showing leadership when he says he will make a motion to disclose how individual council members voted on firing Lecavalier. One would hope the rest of council will support Firman in his attempt to shed some light on the secretive, back-room issue.

What may ultimately get council to provide some transparency is public pressure, and that is expected to begin Thursday when the Coldstream Ratepayers Association holds a town hall meeting on Lecavalier's dismissal.

We would encourage Corner and the rest of council to attend the meeting and hear directly from those they represent.

Blue Divider Line

David and goliath
June 29, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Page A9

We, the people of B.C., have a governmental structure foundation with which to best run our country. We call it democracy. We have elected people in the governments and councils to operate this governmental structure for us, the people, but these bureaucrats became Goliaths and we the people, Davids. It's such a shame to have the people in such bondage.

I own a piece of land in the BX area and I am willing to give it up to help our senior citizens‚ with accommodations on it. But that dude, better known as NDP Dave Barrett, with a stroke of a pen, brought in a bylaw to freeze land in B.C. We call it the ALR.

My question is how is it that these pieces of land that are in the ALR have been pulled out are currently being pulled out, and will continue to be pulled out with construction buildings all over these parcels of land? Is this equality or is this discrimination? Is this justice?

How is it that one person can get his land out of the freeze and another to fight the system, against the Goliaths, and is at the mercy of some of these absent minded heroes? Is this really the land of the free? All they are doing is exercising dictatorship. What we, the people, got ourselves into.

Communism and dictatorship were better in the U.S.S.R. At least the people knew. But here we are in the "land of the free." Sure, free to do what the bureaucrats tell us to do. What a farce. What hypocrisy. You Goliaths that oppose, you too will soon be on the waiting list to get into a place to live out your later years.

The North Okanagan Regional District board has admitted we are at least five years behind with senior citizens accommodations. It looks like if we do not do something soon that you too will be on the waiting list or join the homeless and sleep on some cardboard boxes on the streets.

Surely we would not want to do this to our seniors. What a shame and what a mess our bureaucracy got us, the people, into Canada the "land of the free." Think about this is David against Goliath.

Victor Maksymchuk

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Laws imposed on people
May 07, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

I am against the IHA smoking ban, or for that matter any ban that is imposed upon us all in the name of good health. I did not ask, or elect these authorities to be judge and jury regarding my health, nor did they ask me for my opinion.

I was very upset to see the news cast on CHBC regarding the elderly lady having to go out to the street for a cigarette. I have seen situations in health care centres where a resident not being allowed a cigarette was very bad for their health. 

Often it is not an option to take them out to the street. Health is not just physical, it is emotional, social, and spiritual. Why do we allow IHA, WCB or any health authority to impose laws and fines on people all in the name of good health? We all know smoking is bad. We all know trans fats are bad. We all know obesity is bad. I say that if a person wants to smoke, or eat bacon and eggs every morning - let them. 

It’s their choice. Not yours, not mine, not government. We do not need to be "ruled" into the same slot!

IHA should instead be providing safe, warm, well-lit smoking areas. Away from non smokers so they are safe.

And, non-smokers should be rallying for these same things if all we as a people cherish our right to free choice. I know you will say all smokers will soon be obsolete anyway, so who cares. But what may happen then?  There will soon be rules or laws that dictate some other aspect of health.

Let the restaurant owner use trans fat if he or she chooses. Leave the snack machines in schools and let the children have their choices. Health authorities should be providing care, education, and interventions.

Not laws.

They always defend themselves by telling us it’s all for better health for everyone, which of course is very popular and they win all the support.

But rules and laws that are not democratically chosen are very dangerous. Good health will come from a society that embraces the right to individual choice.

Good health comes from being accepted and respected for our personal choices with a health care system and a society that provides education and caring interventions – not judgement and control.

Shaun Reagh

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Association claims shot down by city
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - April 20, 2008

Vernon city hall is refuting claims that residents were misled during the civic complex referendum.

The Vernon Taxpayers Association has alleged that the city knew that it would not get three major grants for the civic complex but continued to lead residents to believe that alternate funding was being pursued in January.

“It’s not true at all. They don’t understand the process,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert.

In a release, the association states that the city had applied for $2.8 million in grants and that one Spirit of B.C. grant had been cancelled while two $1 million grants were denied Dec. 18 — weeks before the Jan. 26 referendum on borrowing up to $30 million for the complex.

“Were the taxpayers misled? Did the proposal to use millions of dollars of taxpayer funds adhere to the requirement of integrity, prudence and probity in the use of public funds?” states the release.

“With this being an election year, these questions must be addressed.”

Tony Stamboulieh, association spokesman, stands behind the group’s concerns about the city.

“They knew the grants had been declined. What kind of government is that?” he said.


But Lippert says that even if the grants were denied, they were for 2007, and any referendum advertising referring to the search for funds would have been for 2008.

“We are always looking for grants. It’s an annual thing,” he said.

A majority of voters opposed the borrowing of money during the referendum and the city has made no decisions on the future of civic facilities.

Kevin Bertles, finance manager, says the city only became aware of the applications being denied when staff phoned the government agencies this month.

“Most granting organizations have policies not to inform applicants that they aren’t providing grants,” he said, adding that the city still doesn’t have formal confirmation.

Lippert isn’t surprised that the two grants, worth $1 million each, were refused.

“The grants were turned down because of the successful grant for Duteau Creek (water upgrades). There is only money in grants available and the government looks to see what each area gets,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

This article below is one of the best articles we've read on the subject.

Under attack
April 16, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star

It has recently come to my attention that the province is in the process of instituting additional laws regarding tobacco consumption. These “improvements” seem to have gone by without widespread public discussion, despite directly affecting 10 to 20 per cent of British Columbians, as well indirectly affecting thousands of businesses.

The sweeping new laws prohibit virtually any establishment from choosing to allow smoking indoors, regardless of ventilation or separate rooms, as well creating an arbitrary three-metre radius to smoke from a door, even at a privately owned business. This is said to be for the health of the people of B.C.

Well that may well be true. There are however, numerous activities that many people engage in that are not just unhealthy and dangerous for themselves, but for everyone. Driving a vehicle, particularly a sports car, is a perfect example of this. Sports cars are relatively inefficient, pollute the air that everyone breathes, and encourage dangerous and excessive speed. The thousands of tons of pollutants motor vehicles pump out in one year is millions of times worse for the collective health than every gram of tobacco that has been smoked since the colonization of the new world.

So, let’s finish the metaphor, obviously smoking hasn’t been completely banned yet, just heavily restricted, so let’s restrict all cars that aren’t emission free to sealed, ventilated tracks.

One can drive emission-free cars everywhere where one can chew nicotine gum. Sure, one doesn’t “need” to smoke, nor does one “need” to drive a vehicle bigger than a sedan with a four-cylinder in many, many cases. I don’t smoke cigarettes, and I don’t intend to. but I’m tired of this nanny state concept that has crept up from nagging taxpayer-funded commercials, now to the law of the land. This concept isn’t new, but I’m going to take a shot in the dark here, most of the people supporting this kind of control don’t know much about history.

“For the common good,” especially when it comes to health, was one war cry for the fascist movement in Nazi Germany. Yes the comparison is a bit extreme, but when smokers are compared to the fascists, is it really a stretch? What’s really wrong here isn’t that people care about their health, that’s fine, the problem is government forcing its way into the common dialect and function of the people.

Don’t like smoke in a restaurant? Don’t frequent that establishment. Find one of the many locations that currently, and will continue to offer a smoke-free environment regardless of legislation. If someone is smoking in your vicinity, and you happen to be allergic, or it’s just bothering you, try asking them to put it out, or move. If they say no, it’s like any other issue like this. Count the person off as a jerk, move, and treat them accordingly in the future. This same argument could be made for cologne, perfume, bad breath, a nearby racetrack.

Legislating away everything that offends you regardless of common sense, or respect for what happens historically when the many or the loud decide to clamp down on the few, is a sad effort, and I hope that this is rectified before it gets out of control. When you see bans on chips and salsa, food heavy in salt or fat, cars that can go fast, or requiring a special permit to drive a gas guzzling 4x4, you’ll know it’s too late to go back, because we’ve come too far, and you’ll realize most regulation of this nature should have stopped at food safety, freedom and disclosure of information, real environmental protection, productions standards, economic and corporate stewardship in general.

Mike Smith

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City Off Base
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - April 13, 2008 page A9

It seems that our venerable city council is disappointed with the response level to their transportation survey.

I will tell you I am very interested in this subject and I checked to see when the meetings were.

I penciled in my calendar the only time I was not working and I went to the venue, no meeting at that time.

OK, so I went to where the info was displayed and found it to be of such poor quality and non-informative, that I just put the survey down and walked away in disgust.

This council needs to learn that the people of our city will be holding them accountable. I was one of the people who voted against your last referendum.

The proposal did not reflect the money to be spent.  We need to remember the community has wealthy and poor and folks in between sharing these costs and we need to make the best choices for all of these people.

Until the information is put forward properly to all of us, I will continue to vote against any initiatives this council puts forward.

There will be an election soon and one can only hope the next mayor and councillors are more interested in the community than their own agendas.

Pamela Guenard

Blue Divider Line

Facts are needed
Facts are needed article from the Vernon Morning Star April 6, 2008 page A9
click article to read larger print
Letters article from the Vernon Morning Star April 6, 2008 page A9

If the city presents Vernon's western bypass facts for costs, route, overpasses or no overpasses and allows citizens to make the decisions, instead of council treating everyone like they are a child that does not know any better, maybe then the city could trust citizens to make the decision that is best for citizens.

I do not want a few on city council deciding for me, but instead I want pure democracy (citizens) to help make decisions. After all, council is made up of very few citizens to have the full responsibility to decide for all its citizens, and most often than not, council does not choose the wishes of the public. Instead, council wastes money choosing what they think is best, which may not be what the citizens think is best. With no information, citizens don't understand why council chose its decisions. Citizens don't like to be told. I wish government would stop with the dictatorship.

I keep hearing and reading in the newspaper that citizens don't understand. Well it's time the facts were available so that citizens can understand and can make decisions. If citizens had the same information that council has, then maybe citizens wouldn't be so upset when decisions are made that most citizens do not want but what may be for the better. It's hard to understand council's decisions when citizens don't have the facts. More communication is needed and not just at meetings.

Gas is expensive when you live 45 minutes from town. I don't understand why the city doesn't publish facts in the newspaper which many people read most weeks? Isn't it past time we had Internet voting as well? Most often than not, half the population is working so hard and have families that they need to take care of first that they don't have time to attend meetings, even when they do care passionately about a subject.

I feel city council should be required to do the work to find out what its citizens want by way of newspaper, online questionnaires, online voting, surveys, flyers, etc.

We pay the city employees and council, and I feel council shouldn't be telling its citizens what to do unless council pays its citizens.

I feel it should be, citizens' wish is council's command, and not the other way around.

Blue Divider Line

But while Elliman and fellow protesters argued that most Canadians don't support prohibition of marijuana, Mayes said the people of Canada spoke when they elected the Conservatives.
regarding mandatory minimum sentencing of 6 months in jail for growing one marijuana plant, even though most Canadians don't support prohibition of marijuana.
Snippet from article below "Protestors target MP's office" found in the Vernon Morning Star Wednesday, December 12, 2007 pg A8 regarding mandatory minimum sentencing of 6 months in jail for growing one marijuana plant, even though most Canadians don't support prohibition of marijuana.

According to a recent poll by the Toronto-based Strategic Counsel, 56 per cent of British Columbians want marijuana use decriminalized.

The survey showed 53 per cent of Canadians under 40 support looser laws, while 48 per cent of people aged 40 and older want to see marijuana decriminalized.

There is a better way and every study from the 1970s Le Dain Commission onward has urged change and legalization.

Protestors target MP's office
article written by Tyler Olsen
Protestors target MP's office.  Article is regarding mandatory minimum sentencing of 6 months in jail for growing one marijuana plant, even though most Canadians don't support prohibition of marijuana.
(click article to read larger print)
This article above is from the Vernon Morning Star
December 19, 2007 page A5

So in other words this means that Colin Mayes thinks it doesn't matter what the people really want, its whatever the Conservatives decide because people voted for the Conservatives??  Dictatorship or not??

Drug Offence Statistics from Stats Can

Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers - Drug offences accounted for 37% of all tips taken in 2007, with most providing information about trafficking and marijuana growing operations.  Source RDCO 2007 Annual Report page 28

Drug Games

eNDProhibition, the anti-prohibition wing of Canada's New Democratic Party.  We are New Democrats united in our opposition to the failed "war on drugs." We do not believe that waging war is the right approach to solving health and social problems.

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A little history on the North Westside Road de facto government.

Planning for the future
Vernon Morning Star (letters) November 14, 2007 page A9
by Ian and Eileen Kilpatrick
Ian Kilpatrick explains who our government is.
(click article to read larger print)
It states in Jim Edgson's campaign flyer that he is a strong supporter of the local communities association and that he has been a continuous member of the local North Westside Communities Association since 1976.  Jim Edgson is Central Okanagan West director 2007-2008.

 

Blue Divider Line

This article below refers to the letter by Eileen and Ian Kilpatrick (Vice President of the North Westside Communities Association) above.  This article below was published in the Vernon Morning Star January 04, 2008 page A9 letters section.

Westside woes
Article from the Vernon Morning Star January 04, 2008 page A9 letters section

In response to Mr and Mrs. Kilpatrick’s letter published in The Morning Star, I do not recall an election on North Westside road that elected a community association as our de facto government. The claim by this association of some 300 people claiming to represent 2,100 by their own say so is nothing short of sheer arrogance.  Electors Report claims 2099 electors for the year 2007-2008 election for Central Okanagan West Director

Apparently this group still has not learned from the defeat of its initiative to foist an unwarranted tax on us for the Killiney Beach Hall by use of the alternative approval process. When the use of this process is initiated for a few hundred people in an association, overriding the majority of 1,800, the process is anything but democratic.

Mr. Kilpatrick claims a minimal amount of five cents per one thousand dollars was asked for, when, in fact, three times that amount was asked for on Jan. 8, 2007. Further, this association asked the alternative approval process to be used to facilitate this tax.

Although this community hall was built and has been maintained by community volunteers, this group has decided to use it for their own political ends.

Although this group was defeated, their intent is to turn the hall over to CORD, have CORD make improvements and tax the communities from La Casa to Westshores.

Allastair Fergusson

-------------------------

This is a copy of above article from the Vernon Morning Star January 04, 2008 page A9 letters section
Westside Woes over local North Westside Communities Association de facto government of 300 members
click article to read larger print
Allastair Fergusson points out there are approx. 300 members of the North Westside Communities Association claiming to represent 2,100 residents.

Blue Divider Line

Community hall process flawed article from the Vernon Morning Star
"Community hall process flawed"
This article above was in the Vernon Morning Star
October 12, 2007 page A9

Click article to read larger print.

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Letter written by Eileen and Ian Kilpatrick (Vice President of the North Westside Communities Association)  that we found on the local bulletin board regarding "Community Hall process flawed" article (above) published in the Vernon Morning Star.
Ian Kilpatrick explains some more about who our government was previous to Jim Edgson becoming our director Dec 2007
(click letter to read larger print)

375 plus members of the North Westside Communities Association have been acting as de facto government for the whole community of the North Westside Road area from Westshore Estates to LaCasa Lakeside Cottage Resort/Yacht Club for some time now.

2099 eligible electors in the North Westside, from Westshore Estates to LaCasa.

Blue Divider Line

Surgery Required
This letter was published in the Vernon Morning Star
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 page A9

They also don't like to listen to their constituents as once again we are heading to another referendum on the decisions they make.
click letter to read larger print
They also don't like to listen to their constituents as once again we are heading to another referendum on the decisions they make.

Its time to obliterate all existing forms of governance and take the phoenix approach and establish the new City of Kalamalka from the ashes of the old.

It should be structured on a ward basis whereby the politicians must live in the ward they represent and be accountable to the residents of the ward.

Blue Divider Line

Public input comes first
Vernon Morning Star letters article Jan 16, 2008 pg A9
Then, there might be trust and respected leadership!!
click article to read larger print
Public Meetings are where the plans should start, with good discussion about needs and options, before the planning begins.

The city staff appear to have public meetings just as a matter of form.  People do not feel listened to, nor do they see their ideas considered as part of the final plans.

Good planners would go to the public first and say, we have a need, or we have a chance to buy a piece of land, and we want your input about how it should be developed to benefit the community.

Then, there might be trust and respected leadership!!

Blue Divider Line

Public Participation and Accountability - Local governments have a relationship with their citizens that can take many forms. In some cases, local governments have a legislated requirement to involve citizens in their decision-making; in other cases local governments involve their citizens as a part of good governance.
Separate from participating in local elections, citizens have other opportunities to be involved with their local governments. Local governments often seek citizen views on possible courses of action, through various forms of non-binding information collection. Tools used to seek community opinion include surveys, holding opinion polls (using the formal elector provisions) or hosting community forums. Alternatively, citizens may initiate requests for action through a petition to their local government. (**Note** Petitions and referendums are also not binding on council)

Blue Divider Line

Let the residents decide
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - March 12, 2008

The actions of Vernon city council Monday likely reinforced the view of many Silver Star residents that their lives are not their own.

Within just a few minutes, council decided that it could not support the prospect of a municipality at the resort community at this time.

And really that should come as no surprise as many councillors fundamentally disagree with multiple jurisdictions and believe that bigger — namely Vernon — is better.

They argue that Silver Star has too small a tax base to handle services, and that Greater Vernon relations are already a mess without adding another council to the mix.

Perhaps the outcome of the request would have been different had the Silver Star Property Owners Association posed a different question.

Instead of asking the city to endorse its bid for municipal status, the association should have asked for support of a review of all governance options, whether it is forming a municipality, joining Vernon or remaining as part of Area C in the North Okanagan Regional District.

Because quite frankly, a review is the next logical step if the Ministry of Community Services agrees governance should be scrutinized further. Such a study would give residents a detailed explanation of the possible options and the costs involved.

But that aside, I wonder why the association felt the urge to specifically ask the city for support for a process it wants to pursue. Except for being part of NORD, the city has no authority over the resort and it is located miles away from Silver Star. They might as well have gone before Lumby and Armstrong councils too.

There certainly is merit to city comments that the resources of a Silver Star municipality would be limited because of a small population/tax base. But, ultimately, how their money is spent should be the call of Silver Star property owners. If they want to fork cash over to politicians and bureaucrats, that is their business. It won’t cost the city a penny.

On the other hand, having Silver Star placed into Vernon’s boundaries would come with a price. City taxpayers would become responsible for roads and services up there.

City officials also insist that a new municipality would only complicate an already complicated situation in Greater Vernon. And while that case can be made, keep in mind that most of the squabbling has more to do with personalities than boundaries, and the city isn’t just a wallflower when it comes to these fights.

City officials are assuming that a Silver Star council would be combative. It may be that a new council would actually provide the city with a valuable ally.

The bottom line is that many Silver Star property owners don’t feel that NORD is sufficiently representing their interests, and they are not convinced handing over power to a distant Vernon city hall will be any better.

“If we get dragged into the city, we don’t want to be treated just as we have under NORD,” said Ted Pleavin, president of the Silver Star Property Owners Association.

Obviously the City of Vernon should show interest in things that happen outside of its boundary, but it shouldn’t purposely get in the way of the aspirations of other communities.

In the end, forming a municipality may not be a viable option for Silver Star, but it should be a choice that only property owners there make.

 

NORD turfs expansion
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - March 07, 2008

A proposed expansion of the North Okanagan Regional District office has been halted at least for now.

A weighted vote (based on population) resulted in $3 million for a building expansion being removed from the 2008 budget, which was adopted by directors Wednesday.

“The likelihood of us commencing something in 2008 is less than zero,” said chairman Jerry Oglow.

Proponents of removing the $3 million pointed to valley-wide governance talks and that the basic structure of NORD may change as a result of that process.

“That will to a large degree dictate what we do with the building,” said Eric Foster, Lumby director.

The expansion would partially accommodate Greater Vernon Services Committee staff who are in a rental office in downtown Vernon right now.

But Wayne Lippert, Vernon director, indicated that the city may withdraw from GVSC’s water utility, and Areas B and C may leave the economic development function.

“We don’t know if those people (staff) will be staying with the regional district or going to the city or Coldstream,” he said.

There is also the reality that a referendum on borrowing $3 million wouldn’t likely be held until November, with construction not starting until spring 2009.

But keeping the $3 million in the budget had its advocates.

“We’ve been stalling things long enough,” said Rick Fairbairn, rural Lumby director.

“We had a plan to move all employees from downtown to out here.”

With expansion money removed, directors agreed to add $68,000 to the budget for maintenance work to the NORD office on Aberdeen Road in Coldstream.

The 2008 NORD budget includes a seven per cent overall tax requisition for the entire region.

But each community is requisitioned based on the services it receives from NORD, and that varies.

In fact, the budget impact can change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood depending on what services are in place such as street lights and recycling.

At least one politician doesn’t believe the budget process has been transparent enough.

“I don’t see any process for real public input into the budget,” said Barry Beardsell, alternate Vernon director.

“Where does the public come along and give any input?”

 

Maybe there’s a hidden agenda in councillor’s silly aside
By Jennifer Smith - Kelowna Capital News - February 29, 2008

If the Okanagan is to Canada what Californian is to the United States, then we’re about to make this country’s fun-in-the-sun party place, unbearably “PG.”

This area may be known for our beaches, our wine and an embarrassing image of Stockwell Day Jet Skiing around a beautiful lake; but thanks to Kelowna city council, we’re also now inscribed in the nation’s top newspaper as the town trying to close down the bars by your 12-year-old’s bedtime.

Hopefully, the off-the-cuff gaff which produced this image looks to outsiders like ridiculous political huffing and puffing, yet for those of us who live here, I worry it foreshadows an underlying plot.

If you really analyze the string of rap-your-knuckle complaints coming from the true blue Conservative crowd these days, it seems our fearless leaders are morbidly scared of anything and everything that goes bump in the night.

I’m betting a few fuddy-duddy city councillors are actually preparing to take this ban on fun all they way and institute a ban on sex.

Far fetched though the solution might seem, it would prevent the headache of banishing successful events like Wakefest. No need to send promoters packing if you can simply ban drunken teenage attraction.

Bikinis, no need. Terrible beer, yep that’s gone too. Oh, and clearly the loud music used to cover their tracks could finally drop down a decibel or two.

It’s the perfect solution to the contentious affordable housing debate.

With a simple ban on sex, couples could be neatly chained to reasonable mortgages, sized to fit the office cubicle-sized condos they could expect to afford.

There would be no need for second or third bedrooms because the whole concept of reproducing would be out.

Then again, the price of land might drop off a little as, well, once word of the new town rules got out there would be no need for school taxes, day cares or the elevator music designed to keep youth from milling about.

The screaming little monsters who shatter the peace in the doctor’s office—yep gone. Oh, and you wouldn’t have to worry about why the wading pools at the YMCA were so warm either.

As for the bar fights which started this week’s round of complaints. Well without sex, beer or testosterone, the bars could foreseeably fold up shop and host the Friday night Canasta tournaments instead.

Heck, even the city’s latest ban on pesticides might see more compliance. Why bother with Weed-N-Feed when you can vent a little pent up frustration ripping the heads off dandelions or gutting fields of non-native bramble. Oh no, wait a minute, that’s prickly. Guess that’s out.

Life might feel as dead as a doornail, to anyone under 70 or 80, but without anything sexy or youthful, it would really just be a long, slow march to the final hoorah anyway. And by hoorah, I naturally mean something slightly more exuberant than a yawn. Something in line with closing the bars at eleven o’clock.

Of course it’s all complete lunacy, as Coun. Carol Gran and her main supporter, Barrie Clark, should know.

Sex, drugs and rock’n roll…I thought it was their generation that invented this stuff.

 

Process raises concerns
Vernon Morning Star letters article February 29, 2008

Regarding the proposed valley wide governance restructuring, I have several concerns.  When I first was made aware of this initiative through the local media, statements were made that the "status quo" was not an option.  NORD chairman Jerry Oglow was quoted as saying that was the directive from government and community services minister Ida Chong.  No reason was given why a change was required.  Also, quite concerning to me was that a quick time line was required to have a report on how changes could be made to accommodate this directive.

It seems to me that cabinet ministers and government in general are elected representatives of the people and have no business dictating what should or should not be done by local government.  Giving reasons for change and some direction to accomplish this over a period of time, not by March 31 of this year, would seem to be much more reasonable.

The general public appears to not be part of this process.  I attended a so-called "open to the public" meeting in Vernon at the Best Western Lodge on Jan. 11.  While we were allowed into the meeting, those of us who were the "general public" sat at the back and could observe only.

In his address to the working group, MLA Tom Christensen was careful to not say the current governance model was not an option, but his message was pretty clear. 

It was also clear to me that the chair of the committee formed to deal with this matter, the mayor of Kelowna and Oglow all have an agenda that is leading for wholesale change.  None have given valid reasons why. 

For those of us who live in the rural areas, it is easy to envision our issues and concerns being pretty small potatoes to many city folks and their representatives.  There was no information on how this may impact our property taxes.

Mayor Shephard of Kelowna and some other local representatives are obviously pushing for a valley wide severe restriction on open burning and wood stove usage which is a huge issue for many rural residents, ranchers, farmers and owners of acreages. 

Touting the availability of chipping, free land fill dumping at certain times is not a viable option for any amount of woody debris. 

Pushing for commonalities for public transit using road, air and water as briefly discussed at the meeting is of course something to look at. 

However, living in rural Enderby or Lumby, how is water transport for the Okanagan any kind of viable alternative?  As far as public transit, there isn't going to be any outside of the cities, so one's own vehicle will still be the main option. 

Commonalities regarding our water supply is an issue certainly, but for those of us in the Shuswap drainage, we're not a part of the Okanagan water basin.

I was pleased to see a letter in the media from our rural NORD directors voicing concerns.  Why Oglow would express "disappointment", saying it was pre-mature is beyond me. 

He perhaps needs to reflect that a message is being sent his way.  No doubt some restructuring, better communication and some efficiencies should be reviewed, I don't have an argument with that. But, let’s stand up if you do not agree with the way this review is being conducted.

We don't have to bow and say "yes sir" just because someone said so.

Dale Fennell

 

Government won't disclose hospital's names
article from the Vernon Morning Star March 2, 2008 page B12
Government won't disclose hospital's names article from the Vernon Morning Star March 2, 2008 page B12

The B.C. Government wants hospitals to start competing with each other for patients, but it refused to participate in the Fraser Institute's effort to rank their performance.

The Vancouver free-market think tank's school rankings have become familiar to parents, and a target of criticism from teachers.  But when the institute tried to rank B.C. hospitals using patient mortality and other statistics, the health ministry refused to identify which of the province's 95 hospitals is which.

The study uses data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, showing such things as death due to stroke or foreign objects left inside surgical patients.

"As health care consumers, patients have a right to know how their hospital compares to other hospitals," said Nadeem Esmail, the Fraser Institutes health specialist.  "Are they more likely to get an infection?  Is there a higher rate of mortality for conditions where mortality is rare?"

NDP health critic Adrian Dix found himself agreeing with the Fraser Institute, although he called their school rankings "lazy work" that uses only skills assessment test results.

"The minister of health says, 'well we can't give them access to information because they might be critical,'" Dix said.

"Well, no kidding.  I don't agree with the Fraser Institute, but they have every right to participate in the public debate, and I find it offensive that this government in health care engages in a policy of secrecy that affects everybody."

Health Minister George Abbott said ministry staff discussed the issue with the Fraser Institute last year and didn't reach agreement on a fair way to compare one hospital to another.

The Canadian Centre for Health Information did a mortality study but was careful not to compare facilities, because some serve populations with more elderly patients, he said.

The statistics can be compared from one year to another to see if quality of care is getting better or worse at a health care facility, and the government is interested in that.

"It is richly ironic for NDP to complain about transparency, when in the 1990's there was not a single food audit done, not a single cleanliness audit done," Abbott said.

"We started doing these in the early 2000's, but we don't have any audits to compare it to."

In the Fraser Institute's "hospital mortality index," which it called the key measurement, B.C.'s top-ranked hospital scored 83.5 out of 100 while the worst hospital scored 68.8.  The most improved hospital went from 75.9 to 81.5, while the worst drop was roughly the reverse.

One low-ranked hospital had a heart attack rate more than four times a high as the top-rated facility.

Dix said the B.C. Liberal government has a record of secrecy that extends to private cleaning contracts and other services.

A freedom of information request shows Vancouver Coastal Health Region shows a 15 per cent cut in cleaning hours, NDP leader Carole James said.

 

No reason for secret meeting
March 05, 2008 From the Vernon Morning Star

If one were to go back to the last municipal elections in 2005, it’s likely promises were made of more open, transparent government.

But that promise was cast aside Monday as members of Vernon and Coldstream councils met behind closed doors.

And such action is highly questionable when you consider that the topic was the city’s decision to withdraw from the Greater Vernon water utility. That decision and all of the reasoning had already been the focus of a press release late last week.

Also consider that a number of politicians were willing to discuss the issue in length Tuesday. If they legitimately felt that the meeting should be in-camera under provincial legislation, they wouldn’t take the chance and provide details later.

It’s been suggested by some politicians that the meeting needed to private because of the possible legal and labour implications of the city leaving the utility. And there may be some merit to that argument, but only those aspects should have been held in-camera then, and not the entire session.

The public has a right to know what is going on with the water utility, especially when millions of dollars have been invested not only in infrastructure but in establishing a single water utility for all of Greater Vernon.

When the Greater Vernon Services Committee was formed in 2001, the politicians of the day assured residents that it would be a more effective form of governance and providing service. Now that it’s going sideways, those same taxpayers need to know what went wrong.

Coldstream and Vernon councils dropped the ball Monday, and reinforced the common perception that the public isn’t supposed to be seen or heard.

chuckygate

Canadians deserve answers to Chuckygate questions
By Alistair Waters - Kelowna Capital News - March 05, 2008

In life, Chuck Cadman made news. Now, in death, the former Surrey-North MP is continuing to do so. And that—as if any excuse was needed—has our federal politicians in an uproar.

The former independent MP, who started his political life with a group he formed to fight against youth violence and for victims’ rights following the murder of his 16-year-old son, is at the centre of a claim by his widow that the Conservative Party offered him a $1 million life insurance policy to help bring down the Liberal minority government of Paul Martin in 2005.

The offer, according to Donna Cadman, her daughter and her son-in-law, was made when Chuck Cadman was dying of cancer. The revelation is included in a yet-to-be published book about Cadman and, as expected, has caught the attention of Opposition MPs in the House of Commons and the RCMP.

The police force said last week it will investigate the matter.

In Canada, it is an offence to offer inducements to an elected officials to give up office or to influence votes.

Our own Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Stockwell Day found out about that after he won the seat vacated by former Reform and Canadian Alliance MP Jim Hart. Hart claimed the CA reneged on a offer of cash it made to him to step aside for Day, then leader of the Canadian Alliance. The police investigated that case and found no criminal offence was committed.

But it lifted the lid slightly on the age-old maneuver of sitting politicians giving up their seats in order for their party leaders to get elected. Normally, an MP or MLA that steps aside is rewarded down the road with some form of political appointment.

But in the Cadman case, we have an allegation of a direct offer to buy a vote in the House of Commons. And that, whether it turns out to be true or not, needs to be investigated.

This case, however, is anything but straight forward.

We have Prime Minister Stephen Harper denying any knowledge, but he’s heard clearly in a tape recorded interview with the book’s author saying he was aware an offer was made to Cadman. We have Cadman saying at the time of the vote no inducement was offered.

Then we have Harper launching legal action against Liberal Opposition MPs for articles on their party’s website questioning what he does or doesn’t know.

On top of that, we have Donna Cadman, ironically running for the same Conservative Party she says made the offer that so angered her late husband (and which he left the year before to run as an independent) now saying she doesn’t believe Harper knew about the offer. Her proof, she saw it in his eyes when she asked him directly about the offer.

If that’s not weird enough, why would an insurance company allow a $1 million policy for man with just weeks to live?

So Harper can huff and puff with legal threats all he wants but Canadians deserve to know what really happened with Chuckygate—who knew what and when.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News

 

Waters right to call for Cadman answers
Kelowna Capital News - March 09, 2008

To the editor

Alistair Waters was right on the money with his column Canadians deserve answers to Chuckygate questions. (Capital News, March 7)

It strains our capability to accept anything the Harper government will attempt to make us believe in future when it suggests that either: (The later Surrey MP Chuck) Cadman’s wife, daughter and son-in-law are liars, the voice on the tape stating that financial considerations were discussed between Conservative representatives and Mr. Cadman was not Stephen Harper’s, that the tape was doctored, or, most incredible of all, the offer was of support for Cadman’s re-election campaign.

This borders on the grotesque.

Mr. Cadman was known to be in the final and lethal stages of cancer and the Conservatives had already nominated their candidate in his riding.

Mr. Waters did not, maybe for lack of space, note that the Harper government appears to be showing its hidden agenda.

There is claim by some evangelist named Charles McVety that he caused legislation to be tabled by the government which would allow the government to censor TV, video and film production.

There is also legislation before parliament which might impact on a woman’s right to an abortion.

Worst of all, the Harper government appears to have leaked confidential information and diplomatic correspondence concerning the United States. This is reported to have had a negative impact on one of the candidates running for the Democratic Party nomination.

This kind of activity, coupled with the naive approach to the problems in the Middle East, will make other governments wonder how far they can co-operate with Canada in the future.

The government has removed the United States and Israel from the list of countries which use torture.

It will ask for clemency for a Canadian sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia but not for one sentenced to death in the United States. What gives?

On top of everything else, there is the danger the government will end up with a deficit in the near future, undoing everything positive achieved by previous governments.

Right now, it appears that the vaunted control by Mr. Harper is falling apart and that his government is disintegrating.

Harri Henschler,
Kelowna

 

Conservatives showing their true colours
By Adrian Nieoczym - Kelowna Capital News - March 02, 2008

My guess is Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day and I would disagree about the kinds of films we find worthwhile. Which is totally fine. If they think a movie’s subject matter is offensive, they don’t have to watch it.

But I don’t want anyone in government deciding what is appropriate for me to see. That is why I find it disturbing to hear that a bill has quietly made its way through Parliament which will essentially give the government the power to censor Canadian-made films.

Bill C-10 is currently before the senate after quietly making its way through the House of Commons. The amendments to the Income Tax Act would allow the government to deny tax credits for films it deemed offensive, effectively killing those projects it objects to. Apparently, the government is considering denying the tax credits to films deemed “contrary to public policy.”

Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, has been advocating for a long time that films promoting homosexuality, or which feature graphic sex or violence, should not receive tax dollars.

His campaign has received support from Conservative MPs, including cabinet ministers.

And Conservative MP Dave Batters has urged Telefilm Canada to block funding for objectionable films. He pointed to the movie titled Young People F…ing as a recent example.

This edgy Canadian film, about the sex lives of five young couples, is clearly not for everyone, but it has garnered lots of critical acclaim both in Canada and abroad.

Canadian artists are very alarmed by the Conservative government’s actions. David Cronenberg’s latest film Eastern Promises, about a Russian mob family in London, was nominated for an Oscar and is up for 12 Genies when Canada’s film awards are handed out Monday.

However, the film is decidedly on the violent side, and while that seems perfectly acceptable to film critics, the government may not necessarily agree.

And what about a film like Juno, a critical and box office success whose star and director are both Canadian?

Would the government refuse tax credits to a project like this because it is afraid the movie promotes teen pregnancy?

If Canada is going to have a homegrown film industry to make sure Canadian perspectives do not get completely overshadowed by the Hollywood machine, we have to support it with tax breaks.

But if government is only going to grant those breaks to projects that don’t offend the sensibilities of politicians or bureaucrats, then government is taking on the role of censor. That’s something we expect of regimes in places like China and Iran, not Canada.

What’s even more disturbing is that this proposed change is only coming to light now. Why did the Opposition parties let this bill get through Parliament without raising any objections?


This move by the Conservatives comes at a time when they’ve done such a good job of being moderate.

It’s behaviour of late, including last week’s budget and the motion on Afghanistan, have caused many Canadians to stop worrying about the possibility of the government imposing a conservative moral agenda should it get a majority in the next election.

But once again, it has given us reason to worry.

All I have to do is look at my pocketbook to see government mismanagement of funds.

If government treated its citizens as the adults that they are instead of the children government have some of us believing we are, and let citizens make decisions then maybe government wouldn't be the bad guys and maybe people would want to volunteer for government instead of us having to pay government big dollars and pensions.

 
Rural directors pursue re-election
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - March 07, 2008

The North Okanagan’s five rural politicians will present a united front at the polls this November.

Rick Fairbairn, rural Lumby; Eugene Foisy, Cherryville; Herman Halvorson, rural Enderby; Cliff Kanester, BX-Swan Lake; and Stan Field, BX-Silver Star, are all leaning towards seeking another term in their jurisdictions.

“In light of the valley-wide governance process, we felt there’s a need for consistency,” said Fairbairn, who is in the midst of his second term in office.

“The valley-wide process is at the heart of the survival of the electoral areas.”

Cherryville residents have made it clear that they don’t want any change in governance structure.

“If there’s going to be changes, it should be coming from the people and not dictators in Victoria,” said Foisy, who has been a director for 13 years.

Halvorson also wants to protect the rural values in his area.

“It’s good to have a strong, consistent voice from rural Enderby,” he said.

A committee looking at valley-wide governance options must submit a report to the provincial government by the end of March.

Halvorson, who is in his first term, admits that the process could lead to electoral areas being disbanded by November.

“If that happens, we will have to re-evaluate our position,” he said of seeking re-election.

Beyond valley-wide governance, the other factor fuelling the director running again is the strained relationship between the North Okanagan Regional District and the City of Vernon.

“They are the biggest problem right now. We must try and keep the city off our backs,” said Kanester, who is in his second term and was director for 10 years in the 1980s.

By seeking office again, Kanester believes the five directors can provide some stability for the rural areas.

“There are so many things going on that a new person won’t be able to handle them,” he said.

That is also the view of Field, who has been a director for 14 years.

“If he can, a person should look to stay on to help. It may take some experience,” said Field.

 

Multiplex becomes Wesbild Centre
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - March 12, 2008

PHOTO - GARY CORNER (right), Greater Vernon Services Committee chairman, discusses the new name of the former Multiplex as Wayne Lippert, GVSC director, and James Cronk, Wesbild Holdings vice-president of marketing, look on.  lisa vandervelde/morning star


Greater Vernon’s multi-use facility finally has a unique name to call its own.

Formerly dubbed the Multiplex, the 43rd Avenue facility is now known as the Wesbild Centre, and signs reflecting that change will officially go up in April.

“Last fall, we actively went out into the community to see who would be interested in the naming rights,” said Wayne Lippert, Greater Vernon Services Committee director.

Stepping up to the plate was Wesbild Holdings, a real estate development company that owns Predator Ridge Golf Resort and the Turtle Mountain development.

“We are excited about the opportunity,” said James Cronk, vice-president of marketing.

Cronk insists that Wesbild isn’t just focused on developing homes, but on the communities it operates in.

“Whatever we do, we like it to affect residents in some form,” he said.

“And we plan to be here for a very long time.”

Cronk believes the facility will not only benefit existing Greater Vernon residents, but those who purchase homes at Predator Ridge or Turtle Mountain.

“It’s a key part of this community,” he said of the centre.

Wesbild will pay $200,000 over the next five years for naming rights, and there is an additional five-year option for $250,000.

“We expect it to be a 10-year agreement,” said Al McNiven, GVSC’s parks and recreation administrator.

The facility opened in 2001, and attempts have been made since that time to secure a corporate name as a way of reducing the financial impact on taxpayers.

The search for a name was the responsibility of the former private contractor that operated the facility until last year.

“Ever since we made that change, we’ve made it a priority,” said Gary Corner, GVSC chairman, of a corporate name.

Funds from the Wesbild deal will go towards activities at the centre.

“They want to make sure people, no matter their economics, can take part in programs,” said Lippert.

A community skating event will be held in April to celebrate the new name.

With naming of the multi-use facility now addressed, GVSC hopes to have a similar process completed for the Performing Arts Centre within the next year.

“We are making progress on that one,” said McNiven.

 

Wesbild announcement surprises
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - March 14, 2008

Some Greater Vernon politicians are being accused of keeping their colleagues in the dark.

Director Pat Cochrane is concerned that the Greater Vernon Services Committee didn’t ratify the naming rights agreement for the former Multiplex and that some board members weren’t part of the press conference Tuesday that unveiled the new name — Wesbild Centre.

“No where was there a motion to bring this item out of in-camera and my impression was it would come back for approval,” said Cochrane at Thursday’s GVSC meeting.

“So I was surprised that the deal was complete by hearing it on the radio.”

Discussions over the naming rights agreement with Wesbild Holdings were held in-camera because they were legal in nature.

Cochrane believes the entire situation shows “a lack of courtesy.”

The minutes from an in-camera GVSC meeting went before the North Okanagan Regional District board March 5, where the agreement was ratified. It was then decided to embargo the decision until the press conference.

Gary Corner, GVSC chairman, apologized to Cochrane.

“We were trying to put this (agreement) together quickly and we errored,” he said.

Despite the explanation, Cochrane still has concerns.

“Technically it has to go to NORD but this committee should have been notified that the agreement had been ratified and there was a media event to announce the name,” he said.

Corner, who is Coldstream mayor, notified his council Monday night about the press conference Tuesday. But, such a situation did not occur at Vernon city hall.

“It was a big secret at our meeting. We were not informed,” said Cochrane, who is a city councillor.

Director Wayne Lippert, who is Vernon’s mayor, says details of the press conference were established while city council met Monday afternoon.

“I didn’t know the status of it late Monday but it was an error,” he said of not informing council.

Cliff Kanester, BX-Swan Lake director, also says he didn’t become aware of the announcement until he heard it on the radio.

Attending the press conference Tuesday were Corner, Lippert, BX-Silver Star director Stan Field and Jack Gilroy, a city councillor and NORD director.

Dictatorship or Not.  What do you think?

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Maybe government needs to provide information to the people so government can feel more comfortable handing over the decision making to the people?

Maybe government needs to be held more accountable, if they are the ones insisting on the decision making?

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