Fentanyl is a provincial public health crisis

Fentanyl is a provincial public health crisis

 BY JOHN AND JENNIFER, MEGAN AND KYLE HEDICAN

Our family lost a loved son and brother at the age of 26 to a Fentanyl poisoning on April 24, 2017. Ryan was one of 124 people last April in British Colombia to lose their life and 1 of 1,400 British Columbians in 2017 due to fentanyl poisoning. Ryan was not sick – he was a healthy young man who was working as an electrician and had finished eight months of recovery.

It is now 17 months later, and we are on pace for another 1,400 British Colombians to lose their lives to the same preventable cause in 2018. More than four people every day in BC are continuing to die from a fentanyl poisoning. This crisis is affecting everyone, as it’s non-discriminatory in who is dying, affecting everyone from business people, health care providers, construction workers, teenagers to seniors.

Premier John Horgan needs to declare this Fentanyl crisis a Provincial State of Emergency and then call on the other Provincial Premiers to do the same.

In July 2017, our Liberal Government declared a Provincial State of Emergency to combat wildfires extended by our new NDP govererment in August 2017. This Provincial Emergency act was declared again in 2018 due to wildfires. Not a single life was lost to wild fires in either year, yet a contaminated source will kill 3,000 British Colombians and over 8,000 Canadians across Canada in 2017 and 2018. We understand because of the size and amount of fires that it was necessary to declare the Provincial Emergency; we don’t understand how so many healthy people across our province have died and continue to die every day and it is not a Provincial State of Emergency?

Our premiers need to call upon our prime minister and his Liberal government to declare this crisis a National Public Health Emergency now, so real changes can occur to save lives now. Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Tam, stated that “tragically in 2016, there were more deaths from opioid related deaths than from the HIV epidemic in 1995. This is a major public health crisis in Canada.”

Our governments are responsible for the safety of its citizens and it has the responsibility to do all it can to stop preventable deaths, tragically the fear of losing votes and optics are preventing this.

The Hedicans are Comox Valley residents 

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Fentanyl is a provincial public health crisis

Our family lost a loved son and brother at the age of 26 to a Fentanyl poisoning on April 24, 2017. Ryan was one of 124 people last April in British Colombia to lose their life and 1 of 1,400 British Columbians in 2017 due to fentanyl poisoning. 

Help! Recruiters Needed for Pro Rep Vote

Chris Hilliar writes about ‘relational voting,’ which he learns is a simple concept – friends talking to friends. And without the individual’s participation democracy unravels.

The Lows and Highs of Grassroots Initiatives

Will those of you who support Pro Rep, but have had other challenges on your plate, now join our grassroots effort to reach even more people about proportional representation? Come help us cross the finish line with arms held high in the air.

The Death of Governing Whiplash

Imagine, if you will, elected officials from one party cooperating with the elected officials of another party in order to develop long-lasting legislative priorities that stand the test of time.

Town’s Mack Laing “hub” aims to influence court

The timing of the Tow of Como’x new information hub about Mack Laing seems to indicate that it will function mostly to justify the town’s controversial decision to have the terms of the Mack Laing Trust altered by the B.C. Supreme Court and to report on the outcome of the case.

What are these guys so afraid of?

If the result of the 2018 referendum is the adoption of a proportional representation voting system, a second referendum [shall] be held, after two provincial general elections in which the proportional representation voting system is used, [to determine] whether to keep that voting system or revert to the First Past the Post voting system. So what are these guys afraid of?

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Help! Recruiters Needed for Pro Rep Vote

Help! Recruiters Needed for Pro Rep Vote

Relational voting takes democracy back to the citizen level

 

By CHRIS HILLIAR

Two weeks ago I signed up as a recruiter with Dogwood to help get out the Yes vote to support proportional representation in the BC referendum. The strategy being used by Dogwood is intriguing and I wanted to know more about it and about the local person driving it.

I sat down to speak with Dave Mills. He’s the Deputy Director of Organizing at Dogwood. He has a degree in Science from the University of Victoria, and a 25-year career in resource management and public services. “Dogwood”, he said, “first became well known in BC when they created the “no tanker” loonie sticker – a simple statement of resistance you could paste on the back of our dollar. It was a simple tactic that got under the government’s skin, rallied supporters and put the public on notice. The group continues to be creative and their work promoting Pro Rep is a good example.

I asked Dave to describe the new tactic Dogwood is using to encourage support for Pro Rep. “It’s called Relational Voting” he said, “a simple concept – friends talking to friends. Our networks contain the people most like ourselves. If you’re a ‘Yes’ voter chances are your friends and family are as well.”

As a get-out-the-vote strategy Relational Voting has been used in select US district and congressional races over the past two years. “So in one sense it’s quite a new strategy” he said, “but in the truest sense, it’s as old as the bedrock of democracy itself – conversations between people who share values.”

Relational Voting is ideally suited to the current political climate of mistrust because it bypasses the untrusted messengers of today such as corporate media and government institutions. Even large organizations like Dogwood are not immune to mistrust but Relational Voting means you, personally, deliver a message to your friends and family. “It’s twice as likely to result in action”, he said.

I asked Dave why someone reading this article should take the time to get involved with Dogwood to support pro rep. His response came without thinking so I know it came from his heart. “Because without the individual’s participation democracy unravels” he said. “If we opt out of participating, then democracy goes on death watch.”

“And”, he said, “participation at the citizen level rather than at the party level is the best medicine for what ails our political system.” “Conversation around kitchen tables is how democracy started. Relational Voting gets those conversations started and gives you tools to amplify them.”

If you want to get involved with helping to get the vote out to support Pro Rep, click on this link: https://organize.votebc.ca/recruiter

By the way, if you are worried about how to answer question #2 on the ballot because you don’t feel confident about the different types of proportional representation Dogwood encourages you to just vote Yes to proportional representation on question #1 and leave question #2 blank.

If you want to take a seven minute questionnaire to determine which voting system is the best fit for your values please check out this link: www.referendumguide.ca

Chris Hilliar is a contributor to the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project. He can be reached at hilliar1@telus.net

The Lows and Highs of Grassroots Initiatives

The Lows and Highs of Grassroots Initiatives

Fair Vote needs volunteers for the final push to electoral reform

By Pat Carl

Two things happened very recently that illustrate the lows and highs of grassroots efforts like the campaign to change BC’s electoral system.

The first thing that happened was the release of an Angus Reid poll taken in September. The poll asked voters in BC how they intend to mark their ballots when it comes to voting on the referendum about electoral reform. According to the poll, about 60 percent of voters are pretty evenly split in their support of either the current electoral system or proportional representation (Pro Rep).

But it’s the other 40 percent of the poll respondents who caught my attention: these are people who describe themselves as undecided. For a grassroots activist, it’s those undecideds that are the really scary wildcard.

The second thing that happened was a folding party. What’s a folding party, you ask?  Well, it’s when an organization like Fair Vote Comox Valley (FVCV) can afford to print 5,000 one-page, two-sided flyers with information in support of Pro Rep, but can’t afford to have them folded. Then you have a folding party at your house, invite your friends to fold the flyers, and serve them chili and wine or beer as a thank you.

That’s what FVCV did the evening before municipal elections and, wonderfully, over a dozen people arrived at a supporter’s home around 5 p.m. and spent several hours folding flyers and eating, the buzz of friendly talk in the air.

These two things that happened are representative of the lows (the 40 percent of people still undecided about Pro Rep) and the highs (volunteers folding flyers) that many of us who are working on the referendum have felt over the 10 months of the campaign.

We attempt to keep our sights on highs, but we can’t ignore the lows.

Two examples of lows: The half truths and downright lies spouted by the BC Liberals and their leader, Andrew Wilkinson, and the nuisance injunction brought by the Independent Contractors and Business Association of BC challenging the referendum, which BC Supreme Court Justice Miriam Gropper declined to grant. 

Despite lows like these, FVCV and its grassroots volunteers have tirelessly reached out to voters.

We have canvassed two times a week most weeks since January, so much so that our tennis shoes are showing serious tread wear.

We have hung thousands of information door hangers on door knobs, we have written articles and letters to the editor, and we have sponsored and continue to sponsor numerous public presentations about the referendum which includes the  audience taking a quiz that helps participants to focus on their values in relation to the referendum questions. 

We have made so many phone calls to rural Valley voters that our ears are tattered remnants hanging off the sides of our heads.

We have staffed information tables while sitting in uncomfortable folding chairs until our behinds are screaming for mercy.

And then, of course, there’s the folding party.

We were under the gun because the flyers folded at the party were intended for distribution the very next day outside polling stations in Cumberland, in Courtenay, in Comox and in Areas A, B, and C. And here’s the amazing part:  Thirty-three of us worked a total of nearly 100 person-hours to hand out the flyers between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on election day.

Now we’re on a real, non-chemically induced high, but, frankly, we’re still worried about the high percentage of undecided voters.

The referendum ballots are on their way to voters’ mailboxes. Voters will have until Nov. 30 to follow the instructions and send their ballots back to Elections BC. FVCV will continue to get the word out about Pro Rep, but we are getting a bit tired, as you can imagine.

So, I have a big ask:  Will those of you who support Pro Rep, but have had other challenges on your plate, now join our grassroots effort to reach even more people about proportional representation? Come help us cross the finish line with arms held high in the air.

That’s right. I’m asking you to get involved. It’s not too late. We need your help.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends right after you exercise at the Rec Centre or at d’Esterre in Comox. Don’t be afraid to contact Fair Vote Comox Valley at fairvotecomoxvalley@gmail.com and pick up some door hangers that you can distribute in your neighbourhood while you’re taking your dog on her morning constitutional. Don’t be afraid to sign in and let your views be known to all those friends you have on Facebook. Don’t be afraid to tweet those 240 characters in support of Pro Rep.

Don’t let this proportional representation opportunity pass without pitching in. 

Believe me, your efforts will not go unrewarded. You’ll have done a great service by supporting electoral reform and our provincial democracy. 

Pat Carl is a member of Fair Vote Comox Valley and a contributor to the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project. She may be reached at pat.carl0808@gmail.com.

The Death of Governing Whiplash

The Death of Governing Whiplash

Imagine legislators working together for long-lasting priorities

By Pat Carl

The other day, I stopped by the grocery store to buy a few things. I took a chance and stood in the express line which also sells lottery tickets. Sometimes the line can move really quickly, but, at other times, because of the lottery tickets, the line can slow down to a crawl.

In this particular case, an older woman, older than me anyway, was cashing in her lottery tickets. The clerk handed her a couple of tens and then five twenties. Although the woman was a winner, I wondered how much she had lost over the years compared to how much she had won.

My father also played the lotteries. I quizzed my mother about that, since she was very tight-fisted in her spending habits, and she said, “Your father is a bit foolish about money. It’s a good thing I’m not.”

I’m like my mother when it comes to the uses of my money, especially my tax dollars. On the one hand, I believe the federal and provincial governments should be spending money to support social programs like housing initiatives and public education, or spending sufficient dollars to keep Canada’s military well fitted with updated equipment and its people well-trained, or spending adequate dollars to maintain infrastructure and to support technological and industrial innovation.

On the other hand, I am a fiscal conservative. I firmly believe that if I can balance my cheque book, make smart investments, and save wisely instead of spending unnecessarily, then so can governments, both federal and provincial.

I know what you’re going to say:  It ain’t as simple as that, Pat.

To my way of thinking though, the main reason it ain’t that simple is because, in Canada, we have two dominant federal parties – the Conservatives and the Liberals – each with different legislative priorities and different spending policies. Sadly, neither of these parties, when in the majority, has a strong incentive to work with the opposition in creating policies with an eye to spending tax dollars with care.

Every so often, Canadians get tired of the legislative priorities and spending policies of one party and throw those guys and gals out of office and replace them with the guys and gals of the other dominant party who often have vastly different legislative priorities and spending policies.

What this type of governance leads to are changes so significant as to make all of us suffer from legislative whiplash which is damned expensive.

And guess who shoulders the burden of that expense?  That’s right – the Canadian taxpayer. 

Now this governance whiplash doesn’t just happen federally. It also happens provincially. Think of how voters in Ontario recently had enough of Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals and decided to spank them thoroughly and send them to their political room for a time out. In doing so, the voters installed Doug Ford and the Progressive (really?) Conservatives in their place.

Get ready, Ontarians, for a severe case of governing whiplash as the PCs and Ford dismantle many of the legislative priorities and spending policies of the Liberals and replace them with their own legislative priorities and spending policies.

Not only does this put the skids on some legislative initiatives that are halfway through development in Ontario, but it’s going to cost lots of taxpayer dollars to do so. All the work and taxpayer dollars put into developing programs while the Liberals were in the majority are essentially wasted.

Let’s not just point the finger at Ontario. BC is not without sin.

For example, the renovation of Metro Vancouver’s Massey Tunnel, long in the Liberal development pipeline during Christy Clark’s reign in Victoria, is now going through an additional review process under John Horgan’s NDP to the tune of an additional 1 million taxpayer dollars. Legislative priority lurch accompanied by expensive tax dollar spending.

But does it have to be this way? Must provinces and territories as well as the federal government change legislative policies and spending priorities so dramatically and so expensively every election cycle?

I don’t think so.

Imagine, if you will, elected officials from one party cooperating with the elected officials of another party in order to develop long-lasting legislative priorities that stand the test of time.

And then imagine, if you will, how many taxpayer dollars are wisely spent if legislative priorities are developed based on the best ideas from all parties.

Wait! We actually don’t have to imagine that. In Canada, minority governments, which needed to form coalitions with other parties in order to govern, came up with quite a number of legislative policies developed with taxpayer dollars wisely spent. 

Think Universal Medicare, the Royal Military College, the Canada Pension Plan, Unemployment Insurance, and our own Supreme Court of Canada. These are social reforms and institutions that define us as Canadians and have garnered Canada great respect internationally.

Want to ensure the death of governing whiplash in BC? Want to ensure your tax dollars are wisely spent based on policies cooperatively conceived and developed in our Legislative Assembly?

Then vote for electoral reform. Vote for proportional representation in this fall’s BC referendum.

Pat Carl is a member of Fair Vote Comox Valley and contributes to the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project. She can be reached at patcarl0808@gmail.com

 

Area A candidates meet with Royston voters

Area A candidates meet with Royston voters

Candidates Daniel Arbour and Jim Elliott positions seem similiar

By Norm Prince

Area A candidates Daniel Arbour and Jim Elliott are on a four stop tour of the Comox Valley Regional District’s (CVRD) Area A, with scheduled meetings in Denman Island, Royston, Hornby Island and ending up at the Union Bay Hall at 7:00 pm on Oct.15.

Saturday’s Royston meeting had over 50 citizens in attendance, giving up part of their sunny afternoon to listen to and question both candidates. There was a twist to this all candidates affair, the moderator was ill, and there was no one willing to take his place, so both candidates were running the show, alternating recognizing questions from the floor.

From the opening statements, two things became apparent, especially if you read the responses to Decafnations’ questions to Rural Directors. Elliott has been busy with research and has answers to those questions he wasn’t able to respond to in the survey, and there are very few differences in their positions on many of the issues. That was pointed out more than once from members of the audience trying to decide who to support on Election Day, Oct. 20.

While many of the questions raised were specific to Area A, there were some Regional wide issues raised for candidate’s positions.

Development in the Comox Valley was raised more than once, both candidates supported the CVRD’s decision around the development at Stotan Falls, with both calling for developers to be paying the bills on the necessary infrastructure, and not passing those costs off to the local citizens.

Elliott said that in “all his years working for the CVRD, he never saw taxes go down after a new development went ahead.” Around the same issue, both called for the protection of watersheds, though they did have different approaches, Arbour would spend the time working with Island Timberland, moving them toward no logging in regulated areas, while Elliott indicated that the CVRD should write bylaws to protect the watersheds.That seemed to be Elliott’s line in the sand, watersheds need to be protected, and if necessary, he’d stand in front of logging equipment to insure the protection of those areas.

P3 projects were raised as part of the failed referendum over a sewer system to replace the septic fields that populate all the communities in Area A. Neither of them supported the concept, but indicated that the CVRD should work with the Union Bay developers to expand their sewer service, and should continue to work with the K’ómoks First Nation in the development of their Area A properties.

Again, the positions were very similar, and both agreed that there had to be a reasonable costed solution for the sewer system. Neither one of them wanted to see the sewer outfall in Baynes Sound.

Open burning and wood stoves were also raised as problems, and while both agreed that there had to be some changes, neither one called for a ban on wood stoves. Both agreed there had to be curb side pickup of garden waste to control the yard burning, both admitted that they had to conduct further research around the issue of industrial burning.

On the issue of residential wood burning, they both supported the replacement program in place, and felt that through education and retrofitting older homes, there would be less wood stoves in use. Both referred to replacement programs, but were thin on details.

Both Elliott and Arbour wanted to see the Island Corridor protected, with options to develop as a trail system for both pedestrians and bicycles. Though Arbour didn’t rule out a rail option in the future as the Island’s population grows.

Plastic pollution in Baynes Sound was raised, and here the positions were somewhat different to get the same result. Elliott was very clear that the shellfish industry had to take responsibility for the pollution, and if they didn’t, the CVRD should bring in Bylaws forcing them to take responsibility for the clean up. Arbour looked at the problem as “a canary in a coal mine” and if we didn’t take care of the Sound, we’d lose those shellfish jobs. He’d work with the industry and First Nations through the CVRD.

Problems with the new hospital were raised, but both of them indicated that they didn’t have the expertise to come up with a solution without more research.

As the meeting wrapped up, both candidates were pushed to come up with some differences in their approaches. Both had just outlined how they’d organize at the grass roots level to listen to their constituent’s concerns.

Arbour pointed out his success on Hornby Island, and Elliott, his experience stick-handling the water agreement in Union Bay. They outlined the difference as being one of approach to the issue, with Arbour saying he always looked for ways to bring people together,” and had to “be pushed really hard” to lose that focus. Elliott’s approach was more to taking a stand, persuading the group to his position. Consensus waters down the solution to any problem.

Lasting almost 90 minutes, the meeting ended on a sour note.

Members of the audience raised the issue of negative statements being sent via emails and statements by door knocking supporters of candidates. Both candidates quickly supported each other, indicating that any messages sent out would be signed by them, and from their accounts. Both stated that they couldn’t control what others said, but anything they organized hadn’t focussed on any negative statements about the other candidate.

Norm Prince lives in Royston and a contributor to the Comox Valley Civic Journalism Project.