Talk of addressing homelessness in Throne Speech remains just that

Feb 17, 2009
Yesterday’s Throne Speech got me excited with its promise of finally addressing homelessness in BC. Like everyone else, I expected the economy to be the main focus of the document and was not surprised to hear that the government is planning to create jobs through ramping up infrastructure spending. But then I got to page… View Article

BC Budget 2009: Vanilla, No Sprinkles (revised)

Feb 17, 2009
Faced with a nasty recession at its doorstep, the BC budget is uninspiring and underwhelming in its ambition. Overall there is little that actively plans for a recession, preferring instead a steady-as-she-goes budget, perhaps aimed at cultivating the image of responsible economic managers in a time of crisis. There are no tax cuts or drastic… View Article

Charity doesn’t buy a lot of shoes

Feb 17, 2009
OK, this is just a little crass, but the calculation begs to be done. It apppears rather than buying himself a new pair of shoes for the Budget Speech, the Finance Minister has donated $4,000 to the Salvation Army to buy 100 pairs of running shoes for poor children. A generous gesture. But if he… View Article

Tales from the Mouth of the Fraser

Feb 16, 2009
With the BC budget just 27 hours away, in today’s Vancouver Sun, you can find my pre-budget oped. Alas, as often happens, I am paired with the Fraser Institute for the Economically Insane. In today’s edition, Neils Veldhuis and Milagros Palacios act as yang to my yin. Their pre-budget oped seems strangely distant from the… View Article

Government compliance with legal obligations far from good

Feb 15, 2009
BC’s Freedom of Information Commissioner released his annual report last Friday. These reports are a pretty good indication of how open and transparent our government is. The Commissioner is unhappy and he says so in tough language: The stark fact is that the government’s overall record of compliance with its legal obligations under FIPPA is… View Article

Olympic Gold for the Vancouver Sun

Feb 14, 2009
Just when I thought I had read the worst the Vancouver Sun can provide, I caught another Olympics article that sets a new standard. I suppose you could admire their extra effort — going for the Gold. But even here in my very relaxing Baja casa, I find it just plain annoying. The gist of today’s article is… View Article

It’s about jobs

Feb 13, 2009
Next week the provincial government releases their budget and I am looking for something, anything at all, for forest workers.Now I hate to be a total whiner, but since 2001, BC has lost 65 sawmills, four pulp mills and about 20,000 jobs in the forest industry. With the spin-off effect of about 1 to 3,… View Article

But what about 2011?

Feb 12, 2009
Okay, I can understand why the Premier thinks the Olympics will be fun — even inspiring.  And I accept the pitch from his boosters at the Vancouver Sun that we should make the Games the best they can be. But the public policy issue isn’t whether the Games will be fun or inspiring. The issue… View Article

They don’t pay taxes in Surrey? Who knew?

Feb 12, 2009
Transportation Minister Keven Falcon had letters to the editor this week in both the Vancouver Sun and the Times Colonist saying, “The new Port Mann Bridge will not cost taxpayers a dime.” He was saying that the bridge will be paid for by tolls but he seems to have forgotten that people who cross the… View Article

End Poverty. It’s Not a Game.

Feb 12, 2009
That’s the catchy slogan for the Poverty Olympics, which took place in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on Sunday. The event mixed fun and games with a serious message about our province’s failure to adequately tackle poverty and homelessness while we spend spend spend getting ready for the 2010 Olympics (more in this Wall Street Journal article…or… View Article

Children’s mental health: Are we paying attention?

Feb 11, 2009
According to the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), 15% or about 1 in 7 children in BC suffer from a mental health problem serious enough to cause significant distress and impair their development and functioning.   In children, mental illness supersedes all other health problems in terms of the numbers affected and the degreee of impairment.  Think about… View Article

Budget reality check

Feb 11, 2009
The provincial government officially changed its no-deficits-no-matter-what tune this week with its proposed amendments to BC’s balanced budget legislation. Not too surprising. To reject the view of economists far and wide that red is the new black by insisting on a balanced budget at all costs would be political suicide, not to mention bad policy…. View Article

“B.C. played no role in precipitating this international crisis”? Bunk.

Feb 11, 2009
A week ago, BC Finance Minister Colin Hansen let the cat out of the bag: the province is going to run a deficit in this year’s budget. And, as promised, two days ago the province repealed the “No More Deficits!” Balanced Budget and Ministerial Accountability Act, pushed through the legislature in 2001. Hansen’s alibi for… View Article

What the FCUCC?!

Feb 10, 2009
More on the culture of entitlement… Mark Godley is the founder and head honcho of False Creek Surgical Clinic, one of the largest companies in BC providing a range of surgical and medical services, including women’s health and gynecology, plastic surgery, pain management, cardiology, colonoscopies, general surgery, you name it, they’ve got it. Like Copeman,… View Article

School ranking: public shaming with a statistical veneer

Feb 9, 2009
By printing the Fraser Institute rankings of elementary schools the Vancouver Sun gives unwarranted attention and a gloss of respectability to a cynical attempt to create anxiety among parents and educators through public shaming of students, families, educators and to place public schools in a negative light. The FI’s ranking calculation is not a legitimate… View Article

Getting in Hot Water: A Lesson in Climate Subsidies

Feb 9, 2009
My hot water tank blew out just before Christmas. I had no idea, just went down to the crawlspace to get some wrapping paper and found the floor flooded around the old tank. We’d been expecting this for a while, having never had to change the tank since we moved in seven years earlier. Contemplating… View Article

The culture of entitlement

Feb 7, 2009
Don Copeman, of the infamous Vancouver clinic that bears his name, was plugging his business in Parksville’s local paper, the Oceanside Star. While doing so he managed to slag Canadians whose “culture of entitlement”, he charges, is the biggest obstacle to private clinics. “Trying to change the Canadian culture away from this culture of entitlement… View Article

The biggest forest crisis? A lack of imagination.

Feb 6, 2009
Everywhere you turn it’s bleak news for BC’s forest economy. Sawmills and pulp mills shuttered left and right, and a provincial government whose lame response is simply to say we’ve got to tough it out until markets improve and some of those mothballed mills possibly re-open. Not exactly encouraging words if you happen to live… View Article

About that unemployment rate

Feb 6, 2009
A couple days ago I was musing about big job losses on the horizon. Today, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that total employment has only dropped by 1.7% between Jan 2008 and Jan 2009. The bad news is that total unemployment surged by 50% over the same period. OK,… View Article

Love Those Deficits

Feb 6, 2009
As noted by Vaughn Palmer in the Vancouver Sun, it seems that all the political parties will benefit from Premier Campbell’s recent conversion to deficit budgets. While deficits are the obvious outcome of a rapidly decreasing economy, little is mentioned about the long-term effects that successive waves of tax reductions will have on building BC’s… View Article