Flashback Friday: 1972 minimum wage $1.50 goes up

1972 Minimum wage $1.50 to go up to $2.00
1972 Minimum wage was $1.50…. to go up to $2.00

Here is an old Norris cartoon from The Vancouver Sun back in 1972. It was a big year because the minimum wage was to go up from $1.50 to $2 in BC.

Prior to 1972 there were different minimum wage rates for men and women. In 1972 the minimum wage in BC was $1.50 for men and $1.20 for women.

It wasn’t until around 1974 that both men and women received the same minimum wage of $1.80 to $2.00 depending on which province you lived.

Feral cats in Nanaimo: Problems and concerns

In August 2014  the Nanaimo SPCA requested the City  consider new cat regulations to address the growing problems of feral cats and free-ranging domestic cats.

At the February 2, 2015 council meeting Staff was told to prepare a report regarding the feasibility of licencing cats and amending the  bylaw to include a mandatory spay/neuter program for cats. In February, the Nanaimo SPCA and the CatNap Society both made presentations to council about the feral cat situation in Nanaimo.

This week , Monday, June 22nd at Council, cat regulations were back on the agenda. The meeting ended at 1:30 am and councillors were showing fatigue.

330 feral cats rescued in 2014 by CatNap Society in Nanaimo
330 feral cats rescued in 2014 by CatNap Society in Nanaimo

Councillor Yoachim recited a short cat poem and recalled his favourite cat, Phyllis.  Councillor Fuller recalled he had 8 cats in his youth and “didn’t know what happened to them”. Councillor Kipp pointed out that Council was giving more credence to a presentation by a member of the public despite the fact that there were experts who had given compelling information.  The member of the public who Kipp was referring to spoke for 10 minutes and answered questions for a further 20 minutes and claimed  that if a spayed and neutered program were to be implemented “a black market for kittens” would occur. Thankfully no biblical scriptures were referenced.

How bad is the feral cat situation in Nanaimo?

According to the CatNap Society, there were 330 rescues of feral cats last year and 95% of those animals had not been spayed or neutered.

The Nanaimo SPCA  said there is no bylaw regarding the maximum number of cats per household. Some cat hoarders in Nanaimo have more than twenty cats and people in the neighbourhood complain about armies of cats crawling the streets, then running feral and breeding more cat colonies.

Abandoned and neglected cats: direct link to family violence

A community with free-roaming feral animals also has other social problems. Does the Nanaimo SPCA go to schools and teach students how to care for pets? Teaching kids how to be a responsible pet owner will also teach them empathy and respect; qualities that will help improve Nanaimo as a whole.

Eleven  communities in BC have bylaws to deal with cats.  Port Alberni has the following cat bylaws:

Regulations for the Keeping of Cats
12. No person shall own, keep, possess or harbour any cat over the age of six months in the City unless:
(a) the cat has been spayed or neutered by a veterinarian, or
(b) a valid and subsisting breeder’s licence for the current licence year has first been obtained for the unspayed or unneutered cat under this Bylaw.
13. The requirement in section 12 does not apply to a cat that is kept in the City for less than one month in a calendar year and which is not allowed or permitted to be at large in the City.
14. The owner of an unspayed or unneutered cat may apply to the City for a breeder’s licence on the prescribed form provided by the City and pay the fee set out in Schedule “A” to this Bylaw, and upon receipt of the application and payment of the prescribed fee, the City shall issue a breeder’s licence to that owner for that cat.
15. Every breeder’s licence issued under this Bylaw shall expire on the 31st day of December in the calendar year in which the licence was issued.
16. Every owner of a cat shall affix, and keep affixed, sufficient identification on the cat by a collar, harness, tattoo, microchip or other suitable device such that a person finding the cat at large in the City can identify and contact the owner.

Incentives to License Pets

The City of Toronto has a Pet Licensing Rewards program which provides exclusive offers and discounts on pet-related products and services to pet owners who license their dogs and cats.

The City of Edmonton outlines the benefits of pet licensing:

Pet Licensing Fees Are Used To
•Provide food, shelter, medical care and enrichment for approximately 6,000 lost pets each year.
•Identify lost pets and return them to owners.
•Support the adoption of unclaimed pets through partner agencies.
•Provide emergency first-aid veterinary care to injured pets.
•Educate the public about responsible pet ownership.
•Help neighbours resolve their pet-related problems.

There are simple bylaws that would limit the number of cats per household. This would allow the Nanaimo SPCA to deal with cat hoarders that prove to be a serious problem in our community.

City staff said the cost of implementing a cat regulation and licencing program would be onerous but lacked specific details and did not look at other communities where a similar program was successful. It appears the notion of spaying or neutering of cats conflicts with their beliefs. Council asked that more reporting be completed.

Birds under threat

A Smithsonian Institute report released in January said that upward of 5 billion birds and 21 billion wild animals overall are killed in the United States each year by feral cats.

Birds such as this American Robin below are under real threat from feral cat populations. Every week people are finding dead birds killed by AWOL domestic cats.

Tell Nanaimo council to seriously listen to feral cat concerns as our native bird species are in peril.  How many birds are killed every week in Nanaimo? Email Mayor and Council and tell them this is an urgent matter to address.

American robin killed by feral cat in Nanaimo


Marijuana in BC government liquor stores

pot“Might I inquire as to when you plan to commence pushing the grass joints?” Norris cartoon November 4, 1969

For several years after the prohibition of alcohol in 1917, liquor could only be purchased for medicinal reasons. This loophole served to be a gigantic one: during 1919 alone, 181,000 prescriptions were written by the province’s doctors for over $1.5 million worth of liquor. Doctors were accused of being ‘liquor agents’. Some drug stores charged as much as the market would bear, prompting more citizens to making their own poisonous rot-gut.

Government liquor stores sprang up in 1921.

With marijuana, it looks as though we’re still in the prohibition-era. The federal government is still trying to keep access to marijuana for medicinal purposes only. They won’t hear of pot cookies or pot brownies being sold, despite the recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Have you ever heard of someone getting drunk on a liquor infused cake?

Four Nanaimo Schools considered for closure

Four Nanaimo schools are being considered for possible closure because of shrinking budgets. At the June 10, 2015 SD68 Business Committee meeting, the Board of Education received the Updated Facilities Plan 2015-2021 and ways to save money were identified.

The schools recommended to be closed are:

  • Departure Bay Elementary 3004 Departure Bay Road
  • North Cedar Intermediate 2215 Gould Road
  • Rutherford Elementary 5840 Hammond Bay Road
  • Woodlands Secondary 3135 Mexicana Road

February through March this year, the district completed an engagement process called Your Voice 2015, which was to seek feedback on the 10-Year Enhanced Facilities for Learning Plan and the 2015-16 budget. Those that participated identified school closures and consolidations as a key priority for the district to undertake.

The final decision to close schools will be based on a review of several factors, including: school enrolment data; enrolment trends and projections; maintenance costs, facility conditions and an assessment of whether neighbouring schools can accommodate the students.

This summer, district staff plan to analyze  each school on the list and prepare a report of findings to be delivered to trustees by late August or early September.

The proposed school closures are by no means final according to the SD68 public letter to parents. The public consultation phase begins in the fall sometime.

Four schools could face closure in Nanaimo
Four schools could face closure in Nanaimo

Increased Congestion in Neighbourhoods

How will these school closures affect congestion?  Many parents drive to and from school 4 times a day; making up a significant portion of the traffic on our roadways. The reasons offered by parents for driving their children to school are convenience, safety of neighbourhoods, and the lack of sidewalks.

Closing more schools will only increase traffic congestion along residential roads which were not designed to handle this high volume of traffic.

Infrastructure improvements will cost taxpayers more than the savings of closing these schools.

Has anyone at the school district considered a walking school bus?

Feds waste money

For the same amount of taxpayers’ money expected to be saved with the closure of these four schools, $1.1 million, the federal government spent on posters for the G8 and G20 Summits in 2010.

Imagine if that money could have been passed on to the schools of Nanaimo. Look at the map and see all the schools that have closed in BC.

How will the country prepare for the future?

Canadian Senators speak out against Bill C-51

Bill C-51 will be voted on Tuesday in the Senate, the same day that the Auditor General’s report on Senate expenses will be released. The timing of this report will probably mean that the mainstream media will bury the vote on Bill C-51.

The Conservatives new anti-terror Bill C-51 was supposed to be voted on Thursday, June 4th by the Senate.  Senators Jaffer and Mitchell both gave speeches Thursday afternoon about why they believe Bill C-51 is wrong for Canadians.

The following are highlights from their speeches:  note subheadings inserted for clarity – not from speech.

Senator Mitchell:

“Let me tell you a number of ways in which [Canadian] rights and freedoms will be threatened…

No safeguards to information sharing

“There will be 17 different agencies in Canada that will be receiving information. They are called recipient institutions. Other government agencies and departments will have an obligation if they see information that they think should be forwarded to those 17, and there are 260 some-odd countries with which we share information or have national security relationships. This is a complex information-sharing process and it’s fraught with danger for privacy and for rights.

“…there is no legislative requirement for memorandums of understanding that would define the kinds of information that could be shared between and amongst departments and other governments and what that information could be used for, for example. There is no specification of the need to have a memorandum of understanding between entities that are sharing information. If they do decide to have a memorandum of understanding, there is no required review of those MOUs by any agency or review agency or review group in our government.

“There is no required review of any information once it has been shared, and there is nobody in particular that has the resources or the specific focus to do it.

“Now, the government will argue the Privacy Commissioner could do that, and the answer to that is, first, the Privacy Commissioner probably doesn’t have the resources to do it; and second, the Privacy Commissioner can look at what information has been shared but can’t rule, doesn’t have the power to rule, on the lawfulness of the sharing of that information. What’s more, the Privacy Commissioner doesn’t have the resources to check 17 recipient agencies with a multitude of information sharing occasions or instances on any kind of regular basis.

“…Five years ago, the Auditor General audited that area of the CRA that has national security responsibilities… I asked, “When is the last time that the Privacy Commissioner audited you?” She said, “I never saw the Privacy Commissioner.”

“So the Privacy Commissioner might get around to auditing each of these 17 departments and agencies, I don’t know, once every 17 years, or each of them once every 17 years. The Auditor General? Who knows? It took two years for him to audit us. He might have been auditing some of these agencies. But they don’t have the resources to do it and nobody is checking.
The definition of what kind of information can be shared is too broad. It says information that one department determines might be relevant to the jurisdiction — they might be guessing about that….

“…There is no real limit to what the information can be used for once it is shared. There is nothing to stop…another Maher Arar case. There are no limits to how long the information could be kept and no specification of how that information will be properly destroyed in a timely fashion.

Charities and Advocacy Groups

“…You can begin to see why it is that Aboriginal groups and environmental groups are very concerned. For example, say they set up a camp, as is done sometimes in the North, across a pipeline, or inhibit the building of a pipeline because they feel differently about the pipeline than the government does. At what point does that stop being advocacy and start being terrorism if they happen to damage something in the process of doing that?

“…so now what can be shared is “taxpayer information.” How much more broad is that? What’s to stop the CRA from running a metadata kind of program to determine who is giving what amounts of money to which charities that somehow somebody in CRA might think is of relevance to CSIS, and all of a sudden CSIS has taxpayer information on a variety of charities and charitable givers with no strings attached. They can use it however they want.

“…one of the RCMP members said to one of the demonstrators, “You’re not a citizen right now, not while you’re demonstrating.” All of a sudden, there is a tension between a demonstrator and an RCMP officer. That’s written up in a report, with names attached to it, and that’s shared because it looks relevant to CSIS. CSIS finds out that that demonstrator was up north living in a camp that crossed a pipeline, and now you have an 18-year old or a 17-year-old with a file being built that could begin to change their life and change it way into the future.

“There is no ability for [Security Intelligence Review Committee] SIRC, which supervises CSIS, to follow a thread of information. They can look at what information is being used in CSIS but, if that information is passed to CRA or CBSA or some other group, they don’t have the power to follow that. That, of course, means that they can’t adequately review in the way that the government might argue or consider that they could.

No-fly list

“…if you’re on that no-fly list and you want to get off it because there has been a mistake then you will have real trouble. You can appeal it to the courts but the judge may base a decision on that appeal on information and other evidence even if the summary of that information and evidence is not provided to the appellant. Has it been provided to the appellant? So the appellant may not ever find out why that they have been put on the [no-fly] list. If they go to the courts, it is under no obligation, if secrecy concerns are involved, to tell them. The judge can rule on that.

Minister can craft evidence to courts

“The minister can actually withdraw information that he or she has given to the courts and then the judge, having seen that information, regardless of what the judge thinks of its relevance to the case, can’t use it. The judge may, however, use evidence and information that wouldn’t be admissible in a normal court of law. At any time in the procedure the judge must, on the request of the minister, hear information or other evidence in the absence of the public or of the appellant — of the individual — in fundamental secrecy…

“This is a case where in Canada, in the 21st century, where the minister can limit information that would bolster his or her side of a hearing, exclude the appellant from the process, not have anybody representing that appellant and not tell that appellant what exactly it is that they have been accused of

“…people are being dragged into the net of a criminal action when in fact they really didn’t do something criminal.

“There is some question about the terminology, “advocates” and “terrorism” in general as being critical to the exchange of information…

“It also says that the offence is if the advocacy is done knowingly… the fundraiser that the Conservative Party put out, which quoted the ISIS person’s threat against the West Edmonton Mall…was done knowingly…

“The preventive detention, the peace bonds are probably little more than blunt instruments….we’re not sure there are enough resources for the police to have used the laws that they already have, let alone laying on new laws…

CSIS operators in police activities

“…new warranting activities — special new warrants — that will allow CSIS operators and officials to involve themselves in what are called disruptive activities. The danger there is that those disruptive activities might be police activities. Even though the bill specifies that nothing allows CSIS to perform law enforcement activities, there is nothing to say that they might not do that….

CSIS can break the Charter of Rights

“Now we’re stepping back across that line and what’s worse — and this is the most egregious threat to rights in the bill — is that 

they [CSIS] will be able to, as a result of these warrants, explicitly break the Charter of Rights

. I repeat: explicitly break the Charter of Rights…

“I want to read from the Forcese and Roach presentation again, where they make a very startling and powerful comment about this feature of the bill:

The current proposal is a  staggering rupture with fundamental understandings of our legal system.  For the first time, judges are being asked to bless in advance a violation of our Charter rights, in a secret hearing, not subject to appeal, and with only the government side represented. There is no analogy to search warrants — those are designed to ensure compliance with the Charter.This is a constitutional breach warrant. One other witness said: “It’s like smuggling a notwithstanding clause into this law.”

Secret Warrants

“What’s also very disconcerting is that these warrants will be done in secret — because they deal with secret information — but again without the availability of a special advocate, of somebody who is representing the public interest in this process…

“So here we have a process of allowing what shouldn’t be a police force to begin to do policing activities that might break the Charter of Rights, applying for a warrant to do so when they decide it will break the Charter of Rights, and all of that being done in secret without any third party, external or offsetting side to the government’s case. That is an affront and tremendous risk to and encroachment upon our civil rights. But there’s more.

“The Supreme Court has made it very clear that there must be accountability, an essential feature of a warrant regime that respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There is no structured accountability of these warrants in the bill….

“There’s also a problem with the definition of “national security,” how it differs between departments and how they would reconcile those differences.

“Oversight could change and fix a lot of this. We need parliamentary oversight on both sides of the house — all parties represented….

“We need broader operational or administrative review processes. Right now, only 3 of 17 such groups have review processes. CSIS has SIRC; CSEC has a commissioner, a very small group; and the RCMP has the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. O’Connor proposed a super SIRC, which would do the business it does for CSIS for all 17 of these agencies. We could have a more powerful role for the National Security Advisor. There are ways to handle this.

The CBSA [Canada Border Services Agency] doesn’t have anyone reviewing what it does, period. Imagine that.

“We need to make sure that we have resources for the Privacy Commissioner, the RCMP, CSIS and other institutions working on these important matters….

“In conclusion, the breadth of powers to be extended in some senses is staggering. It is particularly staggering given that this is being done by a government that hates big government.

“If ever there was an intrusion into Canadians’ lives in a way that that would capture the essence of big government, it is, of course, to be found in this bill in the variety of ways that I have outlined and probably in several ways I have not outlined.

“I will move that the bill be amended in various ways: that we establish policies defining information sharing; that we establish memorandums of understanding in the law; that we establish that the Privacy commissioner must be notified of these MOUs and of the information that is exchanged. These amendments will provide a more measured approach to the type of taxpayer information that falls within the parameters of this bill. We will exclude any ability to contravene the Charter of Rights. We will give powers to SIRC that it doesn’t have now to do proper reviews of what CSIS is doing with the new warrants. We will allow SIRC and the Commissioner of CSEC, the review board of the RCMP and the Privacy Commissioner to exchange information as they review, that is, follow the thread of information. We will provide for oversight. All of the proposed amendments I am moving will capture in total those summarized ideas.

The following is from Senator Mobina Jaffer’s speech to the Senate at the 3rd Reading on Bill C-51:

“…The question of the day is will this anti- terrorist bill keep Canada safe? …while I agree that security authorities do need some powers this could have been achieved without bringing in this new bill which is a far reaching terror bill…

“What is most troubling is that we have not heard from one single Muslim at the committee stage. Muslims who will be the most affected by the passing of this bill.

“…After my visit to Pakistan I met with [the] steering members of the anti terrorism committee I asked them to work with me and start a study on radicalization. They were open to the idea but unfortunately the Senate leadership didn’t agree to reconvene the committee.

“What upsets me is that there is a committee on anti-terrorism that has built expertise on the issues of terrorism. That committee was not reconvened to address this anti-terror Bill C-51. It should have been.

“I have also spoken to Senators… RCMP etc…about my work on terrorism and I want to share with them what I have learned from many countries. I offered my work to them and have yet to hear from any of them.

“…at the second reading I stated my concerns about the information sharing, compensation warrants that break our charter with this new propaganda law. I requested that Bill C-51 have extensive hearings; that we the chamber of sober second thought give more consideration to the implications of this far reaching bill, which has been described as the largest national security bill overhaul since 9/11.

“My request was not heeded. After only one long day of meetings we are back in this chamber ready to vote on this anti-terror bill…

Root causes of radicalization

“This anti-terror bill does not deal with the root causes of radicalization. Nor does any other law or bill deal with the issue of radicalization.

“For this reason I am certain that this Bill C-51 will not keep us safe but will infringe on many of our rights. If we truly want to stop the radicalization and violence we must seek to understand it from all angles to understand the grievances of our youth, in a much more introspective way – not just point our fingers at an outside group as the influence, as the bill suggests….

Both Senators Mitchell and Jaffer amendments to Bill C-51 were defeated.

It’s not too late send an email or tweet a Senator and tell them what you think of Bill C-51.

Constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati Plans to challenge Bill C-51 in Federal court if it passes next week.

Cone of Silence over Lantzville

Lantzville imploded but no one is saying why.

There have been three main issues for Lantzville, which one caused the councillors to snap?

  • Nanaimo/Lantzville water deal
  • Lantzville Foothills development project
  • Urban Agriculture permits

So far, none of the councillors has given any tangible reasons for quitting. Some say the issue was over the appointment of the Mayor to the Regional District of Nanaimo. Others say it was because that the Mayor and his Councillor wife worked in the building next door to the City Hall and “can be back and forth any number of times a day,” giving them the opportunity to scrutinize staff.

The senior staff includes a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), a Director of Financial Services, and a Director of Corporate Administration (DCA). In recent years, those positions have had high turnover.

Lantzville has a population of 3,400 with 6 councillors and a mayor. How does this compare to other places in BC?

The City of Rossland and District of Mackenzie both have a mayor and six councillors which govern a similar sized population. The Village of Cumberland has a growing population but seems to function with a mayor and four councillors.

Should Lantzville merge with Nanaimo? It might reduce redundant administration positions and reduce taxes. In last few years, Lantzville’s population has dropped significantly as per the table below.

Towns in British Columbia

NameArea Type20112012201320142011-12 Change2012-13 Change2013-14 Change
LantzvilleDistrict Municipality3,6243,6593,5053,4961.0%-4.2%-0.3%
MackenzieDistrict Municipality3,5443,5393,5133,538-0.1%-0.7%0.7%

Lantzvillians might wonder what goes on behind closed doors at City Hall…