Island Health takes control of Comox Valley Seniors Village to keep residents safe

Island Health takes control of Comox Valley Seniors Village to keep residents safe

George Le Masurier photo

Island Health takes control of Comox Valley Seniors Village to keep residents safe

By George Le Masurier

It took a five-month letter-writing campaign, but Island Health announced Sept. 30 that it would take immediate administrative control of the Comox Valley Seniors Village.

A group of family members demanded an investigation and better oversight of the facility by Island Health earlier this year after three residents died as an indirect result of a norovirus outbreak at the facility.

But having seen no evidence of corrective action by Retirement Concepts, the corporation that owns the facility, on May 20 the family members asked Island Health to assume full operational responsibility.

Island Health was reluctant to do so.

So the family members started a letter writing campaign. They created a group called Senior Voices Comox Valley and a website asking other family members to share their stories of inadequate treatment at the facility and send them to Island Health.

On Sept. 23, North Island Medical Health Officer Charmaine Enns delivered a report recommending that Island Health appoint its own administrator to oversee Seniors Village.

“It is my determination that the Licensee (owner of the facility) is either unwilling or unable to meet the minimal requirements of the Community Care and Assisted Living Act … to ensure the health, safety and dignity of persons in care,” Enns wrote.

 

Investigation provided evidence

Enns based her recommendation on a “careful review and consideration” on an investigation by Island Health’s Community Care Facilities Licensing Program.

The investigation found multiple ongoing contraventions of the Care Act and a “lack of timely responses to address the contraventions and the duration of the contraventions were unacceptable.”

The Seniors Voices Comox Valley group had warned Island Health of multiple contraventions earlier in the year. But it was the recent letter-writing campaign that helped get Island Health’s attention.

“We the families and Island Health have learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work in terms of monitoring long-term care delivery. Because they (Island Health) just didn’t know how bad it was until we started writing those letters,” Delores Broten, one of the group’s members told Decafnation.

The family members believe the most serious regulatory non-compliance occurred during the norovirus outbreak, while the top senior management positions remained vacant. A failure to clean the facility violated health and safety regulations, which was compounded by allegedly falsifying records to show the cleaning had been done.

But it was by no means the only contravention.

According to the Enns review of the investigation, Abermann has a difficult assignment.

Investigators found a “multiplicity of deficiencies” related to care plans, which “are critical to ensuring the health and safety of persons as they enable the facility staff to appropriately know, provide and respond to unique needs for those in care.”

There were multiple examples of lack of documentation and no apparent intention to implement a corrective action plan, which was termed a “serious systemic failure.”

The facility has insufficient experienced staff putting residents of the facility “at significant risk of harm.” There has been high turnover of staff and few employees have attended education and training events.

Enns concludes her report this way:

“I do not have confidence this Licensee is either willing or able to come into compliance with the (Care Act) on their own accord,” she wrote.

 

Abermann appointed

Island Health has appointed Susan Abermann to manage the Seniors Village for a temporary period of six months.

Abermann, a 25-year career professional in BC seniors care, has served as Island Health’s lead for residential care services. She was the executive director of another facility owned by the same operator of the Comox Valley Seniors Village.

The facility operates 136 long-term beds and Island Health publicly funds 120 of them.

 

History of CVSV

The Comox Valley Seniors Village opened in 2009 by the Canadian company Retirement Concepts, but the problems began to surface in 2017 after it was sold to Anbang, a Chinese insurance company. Anbang purchased 31 Canadian long-term care facilities through its Canadian holding company, Cedar Tree, including seven on Vancouver Island and 24 others in BC, AB and QC.

Cedar Tree, in turn, contracts out management of Comox Valley Seniors Village, and other Anbang holdings, to a management company called Pacific Reach, owned by the former owner of Retirement Concepts.

 

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Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

Sept. 27 climate action march through downtown Courtenay  /  Submitted photo

Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

By George Le Masurier

Friday’s youth-led climate strikes in the Comox Valley were the largest events of their kind in living memory and a reminder that climate change has become the central issue in the federal election.

But maybe not for Conservative candidate Byron Horner.

Horner, who is running for the Conservative Party of Canada in the riding of Courtenay-Alberni, has declined an invitation to attend the all-candidates forum ‘Canada and the Climate Crisis‘ happening on Friday, Oct. 4 in Courtenay.

“As a nation experiencing rates of warming double the global average, Canadians are facing huge and growing challenges. Canada is one of the highest per-capita emitters in the G20 — only seven countries around the globe put more carbon into the atmosphere than Canadians. And, yet, this past week’s climate strikes tell us that people are concerned,” Dave Mills, one of the forum’s organizers, told Decafnation.

Historically, Conservatives have taken center stage in the defense of Canada’s environment. The desire to protect what we have and to take responsibility for one’s actions are conservative moral imperatives.

“Horner’s snub could be tied to his party’s connection and long-standing support for the oil industry. Voters should consider whether a candidate unwilling to even talk about climate action is capable of tackling this crisis as an MP,” Mills said.

Find out what the NDP, Liberal and Green candidates have to say about our climate reality. Join the conversation at 6:30 pm on Friday, October 4 at the Filberg main conference hall in Courtenay.

Sponsors for the forum include the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership, Comox Valley Youth Environmental Action, Cumberland Community Forest Society, Dogwood, K’omoks First Nation, Project Watershed, Unitarian Fellowship and World Community.

Disclosure: Decafnation will moderate this forum

 

 

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The Week: CVRD pledges $750,000 to watershed; trouble in the town

The Week: CVRD pledges $750,000 to watershed; trouble in the town

George Le Masurier photo

The Week: CVRD pledges $750,000 to watershed; trouble in the town

By George Le Masurier

This was a busy week around the world and at home. A teenager crossed the Atlantic to admonish world leaders for not recognizing they have led us into a climate catastrophe, which set off a week of climate activism. The US House plans to impeach President Trump. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh came out the winner in Trudeau’s blackface head-shaker.

And back at home, our cadre of reporters and informats have, perhaps, inched us closer to understanding why Comox Council bounced their long-time CAO. It gets real interesting.

But first, how about we start off with some good news.

At its most recent meeting, the Comox Valley Water Committee unanimously agreed to contribute $750,000 toward the purchase of 226 acres of wetlands and riparian areas in the Comox Lake Watershed.

That’s a major positive step toward protecting the drinking water supply for more than 45,000 residents — and growing — of the Comox Valley.

The Comox Lake Watershed has been used for industrial resource extraction since the 1870’s when these unceded lands within the K’omoks First Nation Territory were transferred to Robert Dunsmuir as part of the E and N land Grant. Logging and Mining have shaped the landscape and climate change is now rearing its head as a real threat to water quality and quantity in the watershed.

The protection of sub watersheds and intact forested riparian areas has been identified in the Comox Lake Watershed Protection Plan as a way to abate risk and treat the cause not the symptoms of water quality issues in the Valley’s drinking water supply. Issues that have led to the need for a $110 million for a water treatment plant.

The water committee committed funds for this effort in response to a request from the Cumberland Forest Society, which has already, on its own, purchased and protected with conservation covenants 270 acres of forest lands. It is currently in negotiations with Hancock Timber Resource Group for another 226 acres that surround Perseverance Creek, all the way from Allen Lake to Comox Lake Road.

The Cumberland Forest Society had already secured approximately 50 percent of the funds it expects to need for the purchase. The recent financial commitment positions the society to enter final negotiations.

This purchase will contribute to a total of 1,200 connected acres under protection, or soon to be under protection, within the south end of the Comox Lake Watershed. That’s a great start to protecting this important watershed.
There is widespread community support for this effort and now our elected officials have demonstrated the political will to get it done. Congratulations to them.

Since our last report about the how and why Comox Council fired Chief Administrative Officer Richard Kanigan, several people close to the situation have phoned and written Decafnation with unsolicited new information. And two of these sources might provide some insight into what’s going on inside town hall.

Their information raises the question whether the mayor and council have had a good grasp of what’s going on beneath the surface.

First, a person has told Decafnation that before Kanigan got the boot, a woman employed by the town had made a complaint. We don’t know the substance of the complaint or who made it, nor do we know that it has any direct connection to Kanigan’s departure. We don’t know the status of this complaint or whether it has been dealt with.

All that we do know is that former Executive Coordinator Twyla Slonski suddenly left her job this summer and resurfaced as the deputy city clerk in Port Alberni.

Second, it seems our reporting last week about low morale among some town employees hit a nerve in the public works department. According to a town employee, 10 other employees have quit the department due to what they felt was management by intimidation.

Our source says all the top brass at the town had been told about the situation and that it was considered serious enough that at one point the town brought in a grief counsellor.

When a new public works manager recently came on board, he listened to employees and suspended the foreman at the center of the allegations. But due to a lack of documentation, the union requested his reinstatement, and he was brought back for a couple of days. But, according to our source, the foreman then left the job again quickly. Employees were told that he’s “on leave.”

We report this incident only to point out that another legal case could be brewing against the town, and that situations involving employees may not have been dealt with swiftly and decisively. And, apparently this isn’t the fault of administrators alone.

In fact, our source says, a public works employee had a conversation with a town councillor about the matter and later a letter was sent to the mayor and council. The source says neither the mayor or any council members have replied.

Add these incidents to the big lawsuit over stormwater pollution and erosion and the implications of the town’s mishandling of the Mack Laing trust agreement and a picture starts to develop.

As a commentor on last week’s report observed, if the mayor and council are at odds with their CAO, and incidents within the town start to make them look bad, it won’t be the elected officials who take the fall.

.

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Gord Johns touts record federal investment in Courtenay-Alberni

Gord Johns touts record federal investment in Courtenay-Alberni

NDP incumbent MP Gord Johns is seeking a second term on Oct. 21

Gord Johns touts record federal investment in Courtenay-Alberni

By George Le Masurier

Gord Johns, the incumbent MP for the Courtenay-Alberni riding, went to Ottawa in 2015 believing that members of minority parties could get things done in the Canadian Parliament. And, he says, he proved it was true.

During Johns first term as a New Democratic Party MP, he passed two motions with unanimous support. One that benefited 40,000 Canadian veterans and another that benefited the world’s oceans. He helped bring $100 million to his riding for community infrastructure projects.

And, he says, he has been a voice for indigenous people on the national stage. He secured funding for a coordinator of the new Coast Guard Auxiliary Indigenous Peoples program that will employ 10 First Nations people located in Tofino.

Johns helped seure $375,000 for a new art gallery on Hornby Island, where 40 percent of residents make their living from the arts. And he used the media to shine a light on the derelict and abandoned vessels in Deep Bay, something the former Conservative MP John Duncan promised for years but didn’t do.

He played a key role in securing funds to restore the Sproat Lake water bombers with a new technology that enables them to fight fires at night. And he helped Pacific Coast University access $200,000 to fund a return-to-work pilot program that could ultimately expand to benefit 1.2 million Canadians who have been hurt on the job.

“We have lots of little communities in this riding, and everybody counts,” John said. “The mayors and councils know who’s been helping and working collaboratively for their benefit.”

And if the NDP hold the balance of power in a new Liberal minority government on Oct. 21, as he expects, Johns says he will have the opportunity to do even more for the Courtenay-Alberni riding.

 

First term accomplishments

Johns, who was born, raised and educated (Camosun College) on the Island, has served on the Tofino district council and as executive director of the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. He has owned and operated several businesses, including EcoEverything that specialized in sustainable products.

He is the only federal election candidate in Courtenay-Alberni who has held public office, led a nonprofit, run small businesses or has lived on the Island for a lifetime.

And, he is the first MP in 25 years to have two private member’s motions/bills pass in a single parliamentary session.

In 2016, Johns first motion restored $372 million in lapsed Veterans Affairs funding to improve services and benefits for veterans seeking medical care. The MP says there are about 40,000 veterans’ medical claims that haven’t been addressed. But reallocating those unspent dollars will clear the backlog.

The next year, Johns introduced a motion for a national strategy on plastics pollution that was passed in 2018 after months of discussions. His motion ultimately led to the Liberals pledge of a national ban on single-use plastics by 2021.

If he’s returned to parliament, Johns promises to ensure that a Liberal majority or minority government will follow through on that promise.

Johns was one of 25 federal candidates endorsed by GreenPAC, a nonpartisan nonprofit supporting environmental leaders from all major Canadian parties.

 

Conservatives failed the riding

Johns sees the Courtenay-Alberni riding as a contest between the NDP and the Conservatives. That gives voters a clear choice, he says, between a candidate who is connected to the wealthiest people who dropped into the riding from West Vancouver and himself, a local candidate who has proven he’s on the side of the people and the communities.

“While I was helping 40,000 veterans, by contrast the Conservatives had cut 1,000 jobs and closed nine offices in an attack on the veterans community,” he told Decafnation. “While the local Conservative candidate calls my bills irrelevant, his party leader, Andrew Scheer, voted for it.”

Likewise, Johns says Coastal BC needs $500 million for salmon restoration and habitat enhancement, which is part of the NDP platform. But when the Conservatives had power they cut $100 million out of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and “gutted it.”

“Now our salmon are in crisis. The Fraser River return was the lowest in history,” he said. “We talk about the devastation that forest fires cause in the north, well, this rises to that level for coastal people. It’s our food, our culture, our way of life.”

The Conservatives 97 members in the last parliament rose to argue against the carbon tax 748 times in question period, he says, but never once in favor of helping Pacific salmon.

Johns rose 652 times during his first four years, compared to former MP James Lunney’s 660 times in 15 years.

“I rose to mention Nuu-chah-nulth 48 times, Lunney rose zero,” he said. “Rising to speak in the house gives a voice to the needs and concerns of people in the riding. Under the Conservatives they had no voice. They were not represented.”

The NDP, he says, are pledging a public dental plan and pharmacare, while the Conservatives promise deep tax cuts.

“It’s a clear choice,” he said.

 

Predicts no pipeline

Johns is also confident the TransMountain pipeline won’t be built.

“The opposition of coastal people is too strong. Local people always win,” he said. “Justin Trudeau has underestimated the will of coastal people.”

Johns wants to address housing issues next. In the 1970 and 1980s, there was 10 percent of housing available at non-market rates. Today it’s only four percent. In Europe, it’s 30 percent. The NDP has pledged to build 500,000 housing units to get Canada back to the 10 percent level.

And he says the NDP will fight the inequality that has grown under recent governments, and inject fairness. Their platform includes a one percent tax on every million dollars of wealth over $20 million, a plan that would raise $70 billion over 10 years.

“We’re asking them to pay a little bit more se we can do pharmacare, dental care and fund early childhood education,” he said. “We need to pull together to make our nation work for everyone.

This article has been updated.

 

 

 

 

 

ADVANCE VOTING DATES FOR COURTENAY-ALBERNI AND NORTH-ISLAND POWELL RIVER RIDINGS

Friday, October 11, 2019
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Monday, October 14, 2019

Or before Oct. 15 at the Elections Canada office at 2435 Mansfield Drive
Courtenay BC V9N2M2

 

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How the Comox Valley formed an Economic Development Society and killed Comox Valley Tourism

How the Comox Valley formed an Economic Development Society and killed Comox Valley Tourism

Photo of this summer’s BC Seafood Festival, courtesy of the Economic Development Society

How the Comox Valley formed an Economic Development Society and killed Comox Valley Tourism

By George Le Masurier

Second in a series about the Comox Valley Economic Development Society

In 1988, the Comox Valley’s economic boom created by expansion of the Alberta oil fields and direct Westjet flights to Calgary had not yet occurred. The migration of Hong Kong residents to Vancouver that would indirectly drive Comox Valley population growth and inflated real estate values was still a decade away. And the now internationally-owned Mt. Washington Alpine Resort was less than 10 years old and not yet well-known beyond Vancouver Island.

So a group of elected officials at the time saw an urgent need to drive economic growth. To do that they created the Comox Valley Economic Development Society, known as CVEDS.

The society was originally overseen by a board of six directors (it recently expanded to 11 positions) and operates with a full-time staff of five. The board meets five times a year.

It was created by Comox Valley Regional District bylaw 345 (updated in 2016) to “encourage the responsible expansion of the Comox Valley economic base as well as enhance wealth and employment opportunities.”

That was 31 years ago. Today, the scope of CVEDS services has radically changed.

“Economic development is just one of the many services provided by local government. We work with various departments in the municipalities. We’re inter-related. It’s all part of one mandate, different components of the same thing.”  — CVEDS Executive Director John Watson

What began as an organization providing strictly economic development services has grown into something different.

In 2007, CVEDS swallowed up regional destination marketing responsibilities and forced the closure of Comox Valley Tourism, a 22-year-old member-based organization of hospitality professionals. In 2012, it also took over visitor services and management of regional Visitor’s Centre from the Comox Valley and Cumberland Chambers of Commerce.

And along with those responsibilities came new public funding.

CVEDS received the funding previously allocated for those organizations. And in 2012 when a two percent hotel room tax was implemented to boost tourism by putting “heads in beds” — known officially as the Municipal and Regional District Tax, or MRDT — those funds also went to the Economic Development Society.

Once established as the Comox Valley’s official tourism marketing entity, CVEDS became the repository for provincial and federal funding, and tourism-related grants from other sources.

 

Takeover controversy

Local governments established Comox Valley Tourism in 1986 to promote and facilitate tourism activities, and for years the organization functioned with only membership revenues and part-time staff. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that CVT started to receive public funding.

In 2002, the Comox Valley Committee of the then Comox-Strathcona Regional District board decided to streamline its grant approval process. They opted to merge funding applications from tourism promotion, economic development and Visitor Centres into a single package. They paid the Economic Development Society about $10,000 per year to collect and submit the various funding requests, and then distribute the approved funds to the appropriate groups.

But five years later, the CVEDS board had other ideas.

On Dec. 6, 2007, CVEDS announced that it would assume the mandate for destination marketing services as of Jan. 1, 2008, and would no longer distribute any CVRD funds to Comox Valley Tourism.

That decision instantly became controversial.

From 2001 to 2004, Dennis Strand, a former Comox Councillor, chaired the regional committee that oversaw funding for tourism, economic development, chambers of commerce and Denman and Hornby Island tourism.

Dennis Strand

In an op-ed newspaper article published on Dec. 21, 2007, Strand argued that it was never the intention of his committee to merge economic development with destination marketing for tourism.

He said CVEDS responsibility was to consolidate the budgets to save time and to later distribute the “funds fairly and equitably only, not to cut funds … and then suggest they merge.”

“Does (CVEDS) have justification to make these sweeping changes because the political appointees vote a certain way at the (CVEDS) board level? The answer is unequivocally no,” Strand wrote.

The CV Tourism board opposed the takeover, arguing in a letter to its members that “an independent destination marketing organization focused solely on destination marketing would best be able to provide this service to the Comox Valley.” Their protest received wide-spread support from the local tourism industry that still lingers today.

But the fight was already lost.

A vote later by the new Comox Valley Regional District — in 2008 the Comox-Strathcona Regional District was split into two entities — formalized an agreement with CVEDS for all three services.

Marty Douglas, the last chair of the Comox Valley Tourism board that oversaw its demise, said in 2007 that, “There has to be an organization that is solely committed to tourism and not fragmented into other areas.”

Today he says the CVT organization folded in 2007 because of “politics.”

“But there’s nothing more sinister about how it went down other than the municipalities not wanting to deal with it all — Visitors Centre, hotel tax, destination marketing funds — and giving it to this guy (John Watson) who wanted it,” Douglas told Decafnation.

And yet the change negatively affected local chambers of commerce.

 

Chambers funding reduced

Comox Valley and Cumberland chambers of commerce managed two Visitor Centres, one in Cumberland and one in Courtenay, with funding from the CVRD via CVEDS and the province.

The Comox Valley Chamber had operated the official Comox Valley visitor centre on Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay for over 50 years before CVEDS took it over. Diane Hawkins, president and CEO of the chamber said several people lost jobs due to the merger.

“The change impacted the community,” she told Decafnation. “Nearly two-thirds of visitors to the Visitor Centre were local.”

The new Visitors Centre was relocated on a back road close to the intersection of the Inland Island Highway and the connector that leads to 29th St. in Courtenay.

After Comox Valley Tourism folded, the loss of Visitor Centre funding essentially wiped out the Cumberland Chamber.

 

What CVEDS does today

The Economic Development Society receives local tax dollars via the Comox Valley Regional District, which specifies that roughly a third of the total be spent on each service: economic development, destination marketing and Visitors Centre operations.

CVEDS board and staff submit a work plan to the CVRD by Jan. 1 of every year that shows how it will deliver those three services along with a corresponding budget. Regional district directors can approve the plan or send it back to the society for changes. Something that has never been done.

According to CVEDS Board Chair Deana Simpkin, the CVEDS board is a policy-making board, not a working board.

“We set the strategic direction, local governments approve it, and the staff executes it,” she told Decafnation.

During a group interview with Executive Director John Watson and three board members, Decafnation asked them for some of the society’s top accomplishments in economic development.

Watson was reluctant to be specific.

“Economic development occurs in a similar fashion all across Canada,” he told Decafnation. “We learn where our focus needs to be, whether its farm, marine, seafood now or scientific research and the tech sector in the future. Once you have a sense of priorities, you learn what’s needed to succeed.”

But he did pause to mention the Farm Cycle Tour, a partnership with the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition.

“It shows off our agri and culinary product, which is a Comox Valley strength,” he said.

“Of course, it does not generate the same dollars as the billion-dollar Search and Rescue training center at CFB Comox, in which we played a role,” he said. “But they are both community successes.”

CVEDS Director Bruce Turner said the BC Seafood Festival was a major accomplishment that has helped the Baynes Sound shellfish industry.

Watson also mentioned a recent housing conference his office organized to address the need for right-priced employee housing. Watson said the discussion included the City of Whistler’s plan to build affordable public housing for its minimum wage hospitality industry workers, as well as how AirB&B and VRBO rentals affect affordability.

“Now the conversation has been changed a little and may inform the City of Courtenay’s Official Community Plan update,” he said. “And recent apartment developments around the Valley have responded.”

“We have little wins like that every day,” he said.

 

Job creation goes beyond CVEDS

The interview group did not point to any specific business it had attracted or to any number of jobs it had created. And you won’t find those numbers in any of the CVEDS annual reports.

Watson says that’s because CVEDS work is just a supporting role in a complex interplay among local government, private investors and entrepreneurs.

“Economic development is just one of the many services provided by local government,” he told Decafnation. “We work with various departments in the municipalities. We’re inter-related. It’s all part of one mandate, different components of the same thing.”

In its most recent (2018) annual report, previous CVEDS board President Justin Rigsby noted six highlights of the society’s work in 2018.

— Hosted more than 600 businesses in a range of workshops
— Piloted a Downtown Comox ambassador program that engaged 2,000 visitors
— Leveraged the local hotel tax to secure a $225,000 grant from Destination BC for marketing
— Worked with 24 regional businesses to expand their exporting capacity through the Export Navigator Program
— “Developed and hosted” the three-day BC Seafood Festival for more than 5,200 ticket buyers
— Secured a new memorandum of understanding with the Comox Valley Arts Council

The society is currently working on its Innovate 2030 strategic plan required by the regional district as part of the contract renewal process. The plan is due Oct. 31, 2019 and the CVEDS contract with the regional district expires on March 31, 2019.
Next: A look at CVEDS financial statements and measuring the value of taxpayers’ investment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CVRD AND CVEDS:
TERMS OF AGREEMENT

The agreement between CVEDS and the CVRD for economic development, destination marketing and Visitor Center services expires on March 31, 2020.

On June 1, the CVRD provided a letter to CVEDS that it would enter into negotiations for a potential five-year renewal of the contract after it had received the society’s new strategic plan on Oct. 31 and following an independent contract performance review due by Dec. 31.

However, the letter did not commit the CVRD to a new agreement, according to Scott Smith, the regional district’s general manager of planning and development services branch.

Some key sections of the CVEDS agreement”

“20. On or before January 1 of every year of the Agreement, the Society will submit to the CVRD board its Annual Work Plan … for the provision of Services for the following year and corresponding budget.”

“21.a) On or before April 1 of every year of the Agreement, the CVRD will either approve the Annual Work Plan and inform the Society or have otherwise returned the Annual Work Plan to the Society with reasons why the Annual Plan is not approved.”

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I’m running on May 9, and I’m no GOOBER, by golly

Those of us who study elections seriously have stumbled upon an alarming discovery about British Columbia politics: spending too much time in Victoria reduces your intelligence to the rough equivalent of a kumquat. You’ve probably noticed this, too. A candidate...

On electoral reform, Trudeau disappoints us, once again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau scuffed his once-shiny political image again yesterday by discarding yet another campaign promise. In his first throne speech after the 2015 federal election, Trudeau boasted triumphantly that Canada had seen the last of its...

The mistrust of government begins at home

The strong undercurrent of government mistrust that shades the American landscape is something relatively new to Canadians. But the recent Comox Valley Regional District open house on the HMCS Quadra sewer line replacement shows how and why that mood is changing. The...

At the end of America, Trump

For as far back as I can remember, people have warned me about the certain implosion of America. They made comparisons to fall of the Roman Empire and Sodom and Gomorrah. The unmistakable signs were everywhere, they said. As a teenager coming of age in the midwest...

Trump fact-less claims cause problems for journalists

In the era of modern journalism, reporters have operated on a few professional standards -- like detachment and objectivity -- and some ethical values -- like fairness and balance. But what’s a reporter to do when she’s assigned to cover a potentially dangerous...

The IRS won’t stop me from voting for Hillary

After watching the Republican and Democratic party conventions this week, I’m glad that I haven’t given up my right to vote in U.S. federal elections. This election is too important for the whole world. But, in the last six years, many American citizens living abroad...