The BC NDP Platform

The election campaign is officially here. The barbs have been flying for some time now, but I thought it worth it to go through each party platform, even though I will likely vote NDP, I still think it’s important to go through everything and pick out what I like, or really don’t, as much as i can, in each platform.

I will be going through the NDP, Liberal, and Green Party platforms. Obviously these are huge, fluffy documents full of accusations and counter-accusations and plenty of promises. I will only be addressing points that I think are actually noteable improvements and or differences in policy. There is a lot of overlap….

So. Today I’m going to analyze the platform of the BC NDP party (NDP site here).

“Ratings” in (bold).


Scrapping the gas tax. The NDP will scrap the tax, putting $1.8 billion back into the economy over the next three years. (NO!)

Ending privatization at BC Hydro to control rising rates. BC businesses and households face increased costs of hundreds of millions of dollars because of Gordon Campbell’s drive to privatize BC Hydro and new electric power sources. (YES!)

Holding the line on ferry rate hikes… a moratorium on the BC Liberals’ scheduled 2010 and 2011 fare increases pending a full review of the privatized corporation…the future direction for BC Ferries will be based on its importance as BC’s ‘marine highway’. (YES)

Scrapping the gas tax is ludicrous. It will rob the government of much needed revenue at a time of severe recession and if anyone actually counts up the pennies they would save at the pump will realise that it will do nothing to help people pay their bills. It also speaks to the NDPs counterproductive position on Climate Change and on putting a price on Carbon. Which must be done if we are ever to limit our consumption of fossil fuels and emissions of Greenhouse Gases from transportation. I have a feeling if they did repeal the tax, it would be back with 1-3 years anyway.

The promise to reinvigorate BC Hydro is, I think, on of the top 3 reasons to vote for the NDP. What has happened to BC Hydro over the past 8 years has been nothing short of tragic in terms of the effect on electricity rates in this province in the future… as well as the “in-house” knowledge and research on advanced technologies (like wave and tidal power) that was happening at BC Hydro and has since been completely abandoned.

Much the same can be said for BC Ferries. Rising prices due to rising gas prices are inevitable, what this speaks to though is that British Columbians will have to make a choice… either we have BC Ferries for large routes that attempt to pay for a portion of the small routes… or we have big bridges and small ferries. Either one will require subsidies and massive amounts of taxpayer money to be effective and affordable and keep Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and Queen Charlottes on the map economically.


Expand passenger train service between Seattle and Vancouver. (Interesting?)

Make necessary capital investments in needed bus and transit options in Metro Vancouver to cut congestion and pollution. (YES)

Tune-up TransLink. The Campbell Liberals’ approach to TransLink has resulted in expensive privatization schemes, decisions made in secret and dictated by the Campbell government. The NDP will repeal Bill 43 to restore democratic control and public accountability to local government and taxpayers. (YES)

On the rail service… I’m not sure where this is coming from… but I will also support new investment in rail. What I do *not* see is any mention by the NDP of any improvements in transit OUTSIDE the lower mainland. Victoria, Central Vancouver Island, the Southern Interior… could all use more mass transit and real research into new ways of linking populations in BC. That’s not happening.

The 2nd point is vague… but I like it because it again emphasizes bus and transit over Single Occupancy Vehicles, and that is a must.

Translink has gone from a board of squabbling… but elected… mayors… to a bunch of unelected officials doing everything in private… that process must be reversed.


Establish a new retrofit program to ensure public facilities like hospitals and schools are energy
efficient. (YES)

Establish new low-interest loan programs to help businesses and homeowners retrofit their homes and workplaces to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs. (YES)

Accelerate hospital construction and fund new community diagnostic and surgery clinics. (YES)

The first and 2nd are long overdue. Buildings are huge contributors to CO2 emissions due to heating and cooling requirements. We can’t tear everything down and start over… we must upgrade where it is too expensive to replace, and we need to start now. A new low-interest loan program for business and homeowners would be much appreciated and I would hope would be done in tandem with new incentives from people like BC Hydro, Terasen Gas, and others to encourage even more retrofitting, especially in these tough times when people need work.

The 3rd point, Hospital and diagnostic/surgery clinic, is imperative. We are still an aging population. I don’t believe this policy is much different from the Liberals in terms of platform, but I must point it out because the Liberals actual record, at least in my region, has been of closing more wards than are opened, and moving from public to private seniors care facilities. These are trends that must be reversed if our health care system is to have any hope of serving BC’ers.


Establish new local preference buying policies – Buy BC – to ensure BC small businesses, farmers and food processors, and local communities enjoy the economic benefits that flow from expenditure of provincial and local tax dollars. (YES)

This intrigues me. Not the predictable leftist protectionist talk… but rather, the mention of “farmers and food processors”. If you have been following my blog, you will know that I am quite convinced that rebuilding our local food production and distribution networks is essential to avoid the worst effects of global energy price shocks and ultimately energy decline… I hope this turns out to be a small step in that direction.


Restoration of local autonomy. Carole James and the NDP will repeal the Significant Projects Streamlining Act, end Gordon Campbell’s requirement that all projects over $50 million be public- private partnerships, and restore local oversight of power generation. (YES)

Really… I have nothing to say about the above. It is reversing the terrible decisions and policies of the BC Liberal government.

A Green Plan for BC’s forests.

Expanded reforestation to address the massive “die-back” resulting from the pine beetle outbreak and the reforestation backlog created by the neglect of the Campbell government.

A strengthened Private Managed Forest Land Act to improve protection and management of watersheds, wildlife and public resources.

Restricting Raw Log Exports.

We have heard the promise of “expanded reforestation” before. From the BC Liberals. It never happened. Will the NDP deliver?

We must have better regulation of what happens on Private Forest Lands. This is crucial to forestry on Vancouver Island, where the former E&N land grants (fully 1/3 of the area of Vancouver Island) in the 19th Century are now biting us in the ass as giant companies remove their land from TFLs and revert back to private status, where forest practices regulations are far less stringent, export of logs is streamlined, and development is more profitable than maintaining the renewable resource or natural environment.

These policies are another top reason to vote NDP. Forestry is not a “sunset” industry, it’s simply an industry that has been heavily “offshored” and “free traded” out of BC. The resource is still being used, more than ever, and used badly. We must reverse that trend and refocus on our greatest natural resource in this province, one that could employ thousands if we made it so… and oh ya, it’s renewable.


This is the top reason, IMHO, to vote NDP.

Establishing a strong Buy BC and food security program building on the growing trend to buy food products that are locally produced, healthy, and linked to BC’s long-term food security needs.

Strengthening the ALR by making preservation of arable land the priority of the Agricultural Land Commission and by returning the Commission to full provincial status.

Renewing support and investment programs for food producers and processors. For years, the Campbell Liberals have cut supports and downgraded the services of the Ministry of Agriculture, hurting those industries and costing BC needed jobs.

Revitalizing and supporting food production:

• Expand school and consumer education programs to ensure British Columbians learn more about food production and food security issues.

• Restore services to help farmers get their products to markets.

• Support community agriculture, co-ops and farm organizations, including small scale farmers; expand community gardens and local farmers markets.
• Review the BC Liberals’ new Meat Inspection Regulation to support increased farm-gate sales, and ensure all producers and processors are treated fairly.
• Eliminate the BC Liberal gas tax that, in its first year alone, cost the agri-food sector $13 million.
• Review agriculture tax policy to foster investment and maintenance of productive agricultural lands.

Except for the last two (removing the gas/carbon tax)… this promised policy direction is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL. and must be a foundation of all parties platforms in the future. We will see if the Liberals or Greens will be able to match it. I don’t think the Liberals will, the Greens perhaps.

I am impressed at the emphasis on long term food-security, this at least suggests that someon in the NDP knows the challenges facing the world in the next decade. This is good.

Carole James and the NDP will create more affordable and accessible child care spaces for
families by:
• Capping fees.
• Improving recruitment and retention, and enhancing training of teachers and early
childhood education professionals.
• As finances permit, introducing all-day kindergarten for 5-year-olds and the accompanying
after school care. This will free up 10,000 spaces within existing group child care centres
and family child care providers.
• Creating targets and timelines to build an affordable, accessible, quality child care system.

I notice the caveat “as finances permit”. This tells me not to hold my breath that this would actually happen. And honestly, I believe the Liberals have promised the same thing in the past… this is not an issue that will make people decide, I don’t think, even though I am certainly one that would benefit from increased access and affordability of childcare.

BREAKING: US Gov. rejects GM and Chrysler plans… suggests bankruptcy.


The Obama administration autos task force Monday rejected the turnaround plans of General Motors and Chrysler LLC and warned both could be put through bankruptcy to slash debts.

“We have unfortunately concluded that neither plan submitted by either company represents viability and therefore does not warrant the substantial additional investments that they requested,” said a senior administration official, who asked not to be named.

This on the heels of the news earlier this evening of GMs CEO Rick Wagoner departing….

On one level, congratulations… President Obama, I respect you for standing up to these companies and not settling for just any plan and sinking billions more into a failed business model.

On another level, if one or both of these companies go into any form of bankruptcy, it could mean tens of thousands of layoffs.

Do not doubt: This is a step, a difficult, necessary one, but a step indeed, in our ending our dependance on fossil fuel based personal vehicle transport.

Analysing my Earth Hour energy graphs

So last night I tracked my consumption during Earth Hour with The Energy Detective hooked up to this webite. Here’s the graph for the hour (click for larger image). It updates approximately every 1-2 seconds.

Earth Hour Analysis

Now I have all electric baseboard heating as well as cooking and other appliances. We don’t have any Natural Gas or oil appliances.

What I unplugged… not just turned off, but unplugged or shut off at power bar so there was no “standby” usage):

  • – All “power bricked” items, mostly tech stuff. Cell charger, laptop charger, external hard drives
  • – TV/Cable Box
  • – Electric baseboards with no wall thermostats
  • – “Dead Body” freezer

What I “turned down”:

  • – All The Electric baseboard heaters

What was still on/normal (drawing 440W):

  • – Our Living Room light (70W)
  • – My Internet, energy and weather (for data collection equipment (150W)
  • – Stereo and Nintendo Wii were on Standby (couldn’t find the plugs in the rats nest!) (10W)
  • – Fridge (200W?)
  • – Other stuff(?)

That’s about it. As far as unplugging stuff. I couldn’t unplug all of my entertainment equipment because I wasn’t sure which was which and didn’t want to take the chance of unplugging my Mac Mini that was serving up the energy data. So those were on standby. Other than that, I left the living room light on… yes, many people went lights out… but personally, I see Earth Hour as a “use less” not, “go back to the dark ages”. This Hour was about realising how much power we waste. So leaving the only light on that we need is, IMHO, perfectly fine, and as you will see, if we want to make a difference on how much energy we waste, that difference won’t be from CFLs.

After we went around and turn off/down everything, I monitored the usage and noticed the spikes. We hadn’t turned down the heaters completely in the kids room.. but since they were sleeping already, we went ahead and turned those down too.

Then you’ll see the “Dead Body Freezer”… I wasn’t happy that we were still drawing 740W, so we thought for a bit and realized… THE FREEZER. We got one of those long chest type freezer for $20 when we bought the place. It’s perpetually half empty and is constantly running. It draws 300W… and probably costs us $100 a year to run.

That will be our first replacement as soon as we can afford it.

The last thing we learned was from our spare bedroom baseboard heater. I had turned all the stuff down 20 minutes before the “Hour” started. Turns out, the spare bedroom must cool down the quickest, because that heater was the first to come back on.

Here’s a comparison of Friday nights Hour and Earth Hour…


On the left is Friday Night from 8:30 to 9:30PM… we were just watching TV, doing computer stuff, and we made popcorn for a movie.

On the right is Earth Hour on Saturday night.

And Finally, You can see our daily routine for Saturday, March 28 to this morning in the graph below.

24 Hour Analysis

Has Bush decided to bomb Iran?

Because clearly… given past actions… if he has, then it really seems inevitable. (either by the US or it’s effective proxy, Israel which just practiced the first 1/4 of the run across northern Syria towards Iran when it was shot at by Syrian Air Defenses.).

What past actions? Well Iraq obviously, but not for the reasons we thought we know… but for the reasons we now know for sure.

Both the French intelligence service and the CIA paid [Naji] Sabri [– Saddam’s foreign minister –] hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least $200,000 in the case of the CIA) to give them documents on Saddam’s WMD programs. “The information detailed that Saddam may have wished to have a program, that his engineers had told him they could build a nuclear weapon within two years if they had fissile material, which they didn’t, and that they had no chemical or biological weapons,” one of the former CIA officers told me.

The next day, Sept. 18, Tenet briefed Bush on Sabri. “Tenet told me he briefed the president personally,” said one of the former CIA officers. According to Tenet, Bush’s response was to call the information “the same old thing.” Bush insisted it was simply what Saddam wanted him to think. “The president had no interest in the intelligence,” said the CIA officer. The other officer said, “Bush didn’t give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up.”

I wonder if that is the simple explanation why there was such a sudden about-face by France in late-summer of ’03 when Chirac was at one point rallying his own troops for war… and then a few weeks later the largest obstacle to Bush and Blair.

Perhaps it’s as simple as… Chirac trusted his own Intelligence Agency… Bush, chose not to listen… who is Bush listening to now?

The Presidential Elections simply can’t come fast enough.

Canada is taking the wrong road

In the past many weeks, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced over $20 billion in new military spending. It is my opinion that world leaders have woken up to what will be the true battle of the 21st century. It will not be terrorism or climate change, though those will be both sideeffects, and scapegoats… rather, it will be ever diminishing fossil fuel energy resources that will dictate where, when and how countries fight to survive and adapt.

Lee R Raymond

“We don’t have the option of saying that anything is off the table. We simply need to do everything we can,” NPC Chairman and former ExxonMobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Lee R. Raymond told reporters following the council’s July 18 meeting, where the study [Facing Hard Truths] was approved and relayed to US Sec. of Energy Samuel W. Bodman, who had requested it.

So as I said, there seem to be two distinct camps to face this challenge.

Camp #1: Those that would fight aggressively, either through military might, or political muscle, for every last remaining scrap of oil, thus propping up their doomed economies with the promise of “cheap” energy, while wasting that same energy on fighting unwinnable wars and sowing dissent and fear both at home and abroad.

Camp #2: Those that choose to move away quickly from fossil fuels, and either reduce energy consumption drastrically or dramatically expanding renewable energy resources (or both), thus diminishing their need to rely on foreign supplies in fiery lands and making the issue of political capital through control of fossil fuel resources a moot point. (They also have the added benefit of “controlling” what will inevitably be the future of energy production)

It is worth noting that only the developed or largely-developed world need bother with these “camps”, as only they can and will continue to afford the cost of oil as it becomes more dear. We are already seeing the least wealthy countries scramble to provide energy for their citizens as costs rise… and being an oil exporter does not guarantee you a privileged spot. Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ghana, Bolivia, Argentina, Bangladesh, and many others are all feeling the effects of higher energy costs, and growing demand.

With the ongoing military buildup, and continued stubborn refusal to reevaluate our mission in Afghanistan, Stephen Harper is clearly positioning Canada to be in Camp #1 along with the US, Britain, Australia, and other war-on-terror stalwarts.

The message being sent by Stephen Harper and Defense Minister O’Connor is clear, Canada is preparing it’s military to fight wars abroad.
C17 GlobeMaster

  1. New C17 Globemasters,and associated new support structure, to get us there.
  2. New Air Expeditionary Force to clear a path.
  3. New Leopard Tanks to fight the “enemy”.

Then of course there is the plan for the new fleet of small Arctic ice breakers and Arctic deep sea port, but I will get to that later.

Canada is an oil exporting nation.. were it not for that fact, and the high price of energy, would Canada be able to afford this strategy? Would we even be able to afford our continued presence in Afghanistan?.

While I am all for the solid defense of Canadian borders and values, I cannot support a government that would jeopardize our god-given gift of vast energy resources by squandering it abroad in a fight to secure energy resources for other countries.

Should we use those Arctic ice breakers to stake out and defend our sovereingty over energy resources which may be hidden under the ice in the Canadian Arctic? Absolutely. But if we just turn around and use that energy to fuel a raging war machine, then really what are we gaining?

It is time to refocus.

The countries that win this fight for energy in the 21st Century will be the ones who successfully transition their economies AWAY from fossil fuels. If they don’t do that, no matter how many foreign oil and gas fields they control, they will be constantly threatened by ever-increasing energy prices.

Canada is in a priviledged position. We are an oil exporter, we have the largest developed unconventional reserves (the tar sands) in the world, and we are a stable, democratic country. We have the opportunity to shift the money we make from the ongoing subsidization of energy security and energy consumption… to finding alternatives and ways to conserve.

The $300 Million being spent on Bagotvilles new Air Expeditionary Wing could have been spent to set up a nationwide research and development program into all forms of renewable energy.

Alberta Wind Farm

Funds for development of transit systems, national electrified rail, wind, solar, and tidal farms as well as biomass generators should all be funded directly from the sale of our national endowment of fossil fuels. Instead, we’re fighting unwinnable wars in far away lands, and making excuses for our industries to continue consuming and emitting massive amounts of energy and waste.

Time is short, but it is not too late to switch camps. Perhaps our energy endowment has made us complacent. Perhaps we are simply being greedy. Or perhaps we are being pushed by outside influences.. but whatever it is, if Canada and Canadians wish to continue having the standard of living we’ve had over the past 60 years, then we’d better refocus on the truly Canadian values that we claim to hold so dear.