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February 2015 | A view to the world, from Sooke. News & views that 'put it all together' for inquisitive readers.  This week's Current PRINT PDF EDITION | LOCAL NEWS

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Wed. Feb. 25. Today is Pink Shirt Day in many communities across Canada. | Local Sooke event 2pm | People in offices, businesses, communities, schools and just out and about will be wearing pink as a protest against bullying. Bullying is seen in many forms today, well beyond the typical depiction of it as being in school yard playgrounds. Bullying is an endemic attitudinal issue in our present culture that makes room for the 'bad boy' and allows for dominance with cause or right in many areas including cyberspace, home, office, business world, and general community. The ultimate bully is a dictator, but people who in business 'compete to the death' are also bullies. Pink Shirt Day began after a teenage boy in Nova Scotia went to school in a pink shirt and was teased for it. That was 2013. In just two years, the protest against bullying in this simple way -- by wearing a pink shirt -- has spread across Canada.


Mon. Feb. 23.  Bill C-51 -- the Canadian government's anti-terrorism bill -- passed 2nd reading in the House of Commons this evening with a vote of 176-87, and now heads to committee. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney (photo) said on Twitter ahead of the vote that he was urging "all MPs to support the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015 to better protect Canadians from the terror threat". The bill would provide intelligence agencies and police with stepped-up powers but could threaten the privacy rights of Canadians. NDP leader Tom Mulcair, who party opposes the bill, has called it "sweeping, dangerous, vague and ineffective". Among other things, the bill would allow secretly-obtained information to be shared with 17 public and government agencies.   Background in interview with Randall Garrison, NPD public safety critic: pg1 in Feb 20 Sooke Voice News.


Sun. Feb. 22.  A rather placid 87th Academy Awards night saw Birdman win for Best Picture, Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) win for Best Actor, Julianne Moore (Still Alice) win for Best Actress, and Birdman for Best Director as well for Best Cinematography and Best Original Screenplay. There was more commentary from live pre-show hosts about the rain in Los Angeles than anything else other than dresses and tuxedos.  Actress Reese Witherspoon [in photo] gave a high profile to the Twitter hashtag "AskHerMore", in an attempt to improve the journalism interviews that traditionally only seek info about who designed each actor's clothes for the evening, and whether they're having a good time.


Fri. Feb.20.  On Monday February 23, the Hon Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of BC, will commence a 7-day trip to communities in northern BC including Kitimat, Terrace, New Hazelton, New Aiyansh, Smithers, Telkwa, Houston, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof and Prince George.  While in Prince George, she will also attend events at the Canada Winter Games.


Fri. Feb.20. The Feb 20th Privacy Rights Print/PDF edition is now online   Highlights: Randall Garrison, MP says C-51 tears down basic pillar of privacy rights   20 BC communities get bike trail grants  Interactive Digital Media tax credit to 2018   NDP pitches for mandatory Fall Session in BC Legislature  Flavoured tobacco could be banned  Off-leash dog park debate bites back  Warning signage in time for Tsunami Preparedness Week  Small businesses too busy to grow?  Dance of the planets


Fri. Feb.20.  The BC government has -- through BikeBC -- issued$ 3.69 million in total for 22 projects in an initiative for expanding and building cycling lanes, trails and paths, as announced on Saturday February 14 with a 'we support families' theme on that Valentine's weekend. Twenty municipalities around BC got the grants, with the Vancouver Island communities on that list being: Nanaimo, North Saanich, Oak Bay, Qualicum Beach and Sooke (see Local News page for Sooke details).


Thurs. Feb. 19.  The NDP introduced Legislation today "to help reform democracy in BC", says an NDP news release.  "These four pieces of legislation would help encourage more voter participation, strengthen representation, and make our government work better," said Gary Holman, NDP spokesperson on democratic reform (NDP photo). The Parliamentary Calendar Act would make a Fall parliamentary session mandatory. The Youth Voter Registration Act would allow for voting from age 16. The Legislative Standing Committee Reform Act would expand the power and number of legislative committees, including with involvement from critical industries such as forestry, agriculture, and arts and culture. The Fixed Fall Election Amendment Act would move the fixed election date to the beginning of October (instead of being held in May), to allow for more auditing and scrutiny of the state of the province's finances prior to an election.  Budgets are traditionally tabled in February.  "People have become disillusioned with governments at all levels," said Holman, adding that NDP Leader John Horgan and the NDP are committed to seeing that elected officials "bring back integrity, fairness and accountability to government".


Wed. Feb.18. Protecting Canadians must include protecting freedoms, says NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, whose party opposed Bill C-51 in the House of Commons today. “Terrorism is a real threat, and public safety must be the priority for any government. But we cannot protect our freedoms by sacrificing them,” said Mulcair. “We have a responsibility to stand up for our values and to never allow these cowardly attackers change our way of life.” The NDP has identified serious problems in C-51, including giving CSIS broad new powers without enhancing oversight and failing to include a plan to counter radicalization in Canadian communities.  “Instead of showing leadership, the Conservatives have proposed over-reaching legislation that is dangerously vague, and have intimidated Liberals into supporting them,” said NDP Public Safety Critic Randall Garrison (Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca).  “We need concrete measures that will keep Canadians safe, without eroding our freedoms.” “The Conservatives have asked for a blank cheque to pass any law, even one like C-51 that obviously goes too far,” added NDP MP Murray Rankin (Victoria). “Canadians know that New Democrats will not be bullied away from standing by our principles and defending the liberties that define our Canadian way of life.”

Tues. Feb.17.  There has been wide response to the BC Government's Budget 2015, as released today.   The BC NDP as Official Opposition says that "British Columbians already stretched to their limit will face more fee and rate hikes in 2015, continue to get less services, and pay for Premier Clark's tax cut to the highest paid British Columbians as a result of the BC Liberal's budget."  Opposition Leader John Horgan said that BC wages aren't keeping up -- "in fact, they're falling in real terms" yet "the BC Liberals singled out the top 2% of income earners for a $230 million tax cut, he said today in a news release. Finance spokesperson Carole James said that "families are already struggling -- their costs are going up and their wages are flat", adding that low and middle income earners need a break but are instead facing another 4% MSP rate hike, a 6% hydro rate increase, and increases in rates for ferry fares, park fees and vehicle insurance.     The Wilderness Committee says "the budget is spineless on real protection of BC's environment," while still acknowledging some monies ($25 million) having been set aside for implementation of the Water Sustainability Act.  Wilderness Committee policy director Gwen Barlee says the budget lines remain flat for most departments concerned with the environment.  "British Columbians want real leadership on climate change but "that this government has failed to deliver, yet again - providing small incentives for things like electric cars while working to build a whole new fossil fuel industry is irresponsible in 2015, said Torrance Coste, the Wilderness Committee's Vancouver Island Campaigner. Sierra Club BC had a similar message: "Urgent environmental challenges such as climate change and the crisis in our forests took a back seat to business as usual in today's budget," the organization said in a news release today. "British Columbians expected decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb climate disruption," said Sierra Club BC director of communication Tim Pearson. "Instead we see a government in a state of denial about the urgent need to act on climate change, phase out fossil fuels, and restore our forests." Sierra Club BC says it welcomes $25 million in funding for the long-awaited Water Sustainability Act.


Tues. Feb.17.  The BC Government said its "third consecutive balanced budget builds toward a stronger and more diversified economy and delivers additional support to British Columbians who are most in need," Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced today. A surplus of $284 million is forecast for 2015-2016, followed by surpluses also forecasted for 2016-2107 ($376 million) and 2017-2018 ($399 million).  The government says that their Budget 2015 "invests new funding over three years to support and strengthen economic growth" across BC, with key measures being: Continued tax credits and $6.3 million in new base-budget funding to support the mining industry; $25 million over three years to implement the new Water Sustainability Act, to be in force in 2016; transitional incentives over three years to encourage the BC cement industry to adopt cleaner fuels and further lower emission intensity;  extending the Interactive Digital Media tax credit to 2018 and expanding the Digital Animation or Visual Effects (DAVE) tax credit to include post-production film activities to help keep BC's film and video game industries healthy; helping ensure BC businesses can take advantage of Canada's access to the renminbi (Chinese) financial market; partnering with the marine shipping industry to re-establish the International Maritime Centre to help attract more shipping companies and their head offices to Vancouver.   Effective Sept.1, 2015 child support payments will be fully exempted from income assistance calculations.  According to the government "this translates into an additional $32 million over three years for some of the neediest children and families", but this is money they were claiming on the backs of families until now (i.e. support payments from one parent to the other were being clawed back). Budget 2015 also provides $106 million additional funding (over 3 years) for Community Living BC; $20 million in additional funding for income assistance programs; $5 million to enhance the BC tax reduction credit (individuals may earn more than $19,000/year before paying any provincial income tax); $3 million for a new children's fitness equipment tax credit (families may claim up to $250/year for equipment costs, in addition to existing $500 children's fitness and arts tax credit).  About 180,000 families will begin receiving the BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit starting April 1, 2015 (up to $660/year for each child under age 6, to help with child care costs).  Link to the budget:



Tues. Feb.17.  A private member's bill to ban flavoured tobacco products in BC has been re-introduced to the BC Legislature, by NDP MLA Judy Darcy.   The bill was first introduced in spring 2014, at which time Health Minister Terry Lake said he preferred to wait to see what restrictions the federal government would be making, said an NDP news release yesterday. The Canadian Cancer Society has said that new federal regulations fall far short of what's necessary to limit the sale of these harmful tobacco products, said the NDP release. Darcy feels that this is a bill "the government can support ... it's the right thing to do," she said. Darcy has a strong background in the health care industry.


Mon. Feb. 16. Fifteen recommendations to strengthen privacy protection for British Columbians were presented to the BC Legislative Assembly today, being part of a report on private-sector privacy law. The Personal Information Act requires private-sector organizations to protect and secure personal information that they have in their custody, again unauthorized use or disclosure. "There are significant challenges to privacy protection in today's world," said Mike Bernier, chair, Special Committee to Review the Personal Information Protection Act. .


Sun. Feb. 15. A nice bright day on the west shore of Vancouver Island. Bright and sunny, no rain (and certainly no snow), with a high of 11°C.


Sat. Feb. 14. Happy Valentine's Day! This special day -- traditionally associated with starry-eyed romance -- seems to have mellowed over the years, with some of the focus shifting to the statutory Family Day holidays that have sprung up across the country in the last decade which serve a wider sector of modern society.


Fri. Feb. 13. The Feb 13th Valentine's edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Black and white print copies are available courtesy of Sooke Voice News and various coffee shops and community locations around town. The colour print edition is available for retail sale at Shoppers Drug Mart.  See page 2 for a news story on the BC Death Panel report about youth driver fatalities. See page 3 for a news story about a drug bust in a local Sooke coffee shop.


Tues. Feb.10. Today Tuesday February 10 is 'Safer Internet Day' in BC.  "We all want a safe online environment for our children but there is only so much that adults can do. At the end of the day, it is going to be young people taking ownership of their online actions that will have the greatest impact," said BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender in a news release today. An anti-bullying strategy called 'ERASE' (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) is heading into its third year. More than 10,000 educators and community partners have been trained to proactively identify and address threats.


FAMILY DAY WEEKEND. Sat. Feb.7 to Mon. Feb.9.  This is a 3-day weekend with Monday, February 9 being the BC Family Day statutory holiday. This is the third annual BC Family Day, which in 2013 was a welcome addition to the official days off for families, workers and mainstream business. Schools and provincial government offices will be closed.  As Canada Post is federal, their post offices will be open in BC on Monday.


SIGNIFICANT SOCIAL SHIFT. Fri. Feb.6.  The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in favour of doctor-assisted suicide, it was announced today from Ottawa. The ruling only applies to competent adults with enduring, intolerable suffering who clearly consent to ending their lives. The federal and provincial governments have 12 months to develop legislation to support the ruling. If the federal government doesn't write a new law, the court's exemption for physicians will stand. The court found that an individual's response to "a grievous and irremediable medical condition" is a matter critical to their dignity and autonomy. The law already allows palliative sedation, refusing artificial nutrition and hydration, and refusing life-sustaining medical equipment.


Thurs. Feb.5.   The Province of BC will be charging new user-fees "to support their modernized water legislation", the Minister of Environment said today in a news release. The new fee and rental rates will apparently only recover the costs of implementing the new Water Sustainability Act (WSA) including new groundwater legislation. Users of groundwater will require a water licence and be required to pay water fees and rentals; individual household wells will not be licensed or charged. The new rates take effect in 2016 when the new WSA comes into force. Surface and groundwater users will pay the same fees. The new water rental rates in BC range from 2 cents to $2.25 per 1000m3. Link: BC Water Sustainability Act


Tues. Feb.3 (updated Feb 4). Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has resigned from federal Cabinet and from parliamentary life. And in a matter of days he will be wrapping up as MP in his riding of Ottawa West - Nepean.  Speculation is that he will take a private sector job, possibly to head up BC Ferries (as rumoured on Twitter last night). The loss of John Baird from the House of Commons is also widely considered a loss for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government. As CBC put it: "No matter the portfolio, Baird embraced the government message and sold it widely."  Canadians have been well served by the young John Baird, yet only 45 years old.


Mon. Feb. 2. Today is Ground Hog Day. Not much chance of a shadow for any groundhogs in Sooke today, as the sky is grey and overcast.


Sun. Feb. 1. It's Super Bowl Sunday. Everyone's focus will be on that. 'Nuf said!  Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, another great distraction.


Whiffin Spit - Sept 2014. Copyright 2015 Sooke Voice News Sun. Feb.1. Whiffin Spit Action. During the week of February 9 to 13, work will occur on behalf of Fisheries & Oceans Canada to remove two small buildings adjacent to the lighthouse at the end of Whiffin Spit Park. The trail will remain open to the public during that week. Trail users are asked to use caution on the trail and move well off to the side when vehicles are passing through. Questions may be directed to the Engineering Department at the District of Sooke, 250-642-1634. Photo of Whiffin Spit, Sept 2014, Sooke Voice News


Sat. Jan.31 [updated Feb.2]. A 26 year old Comox woman Veronika Sophie Weaver and her 7-month-old son were rescued from the Puntledge River yesterday in the Courtenay area. The infant was discovered around 2:30pm and his mother was found 1.5lm further downstream near the 5th Street Bridge. Comox RCMP said on Jan.31 that Ms Weaver could not be resuscitated at St Joseph's General Hospital and died. Her baby remains in critical condition at BC Children's Hospital (still as of Feb 2).  The Puntledge River recreation area is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island. RCMP are saying it was a tragic accident, with no foul play suspected. The boy's father and the family of Ms Weaver has been notified. Sources; Comox RCMP & BC Coroner's Service


  Fri. Jan.30. Weekly Print Edition - Jan 30th. The Jan 30th print-PDF edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Page 1: Sooke is getting a horseshoe pitch area that could start attracting followers of that sport to the region. |  Fisheries & Oceans Canada wants a few buildings removed from Whiffin Spit.   | Erosion at Jordan River campground is being shored up. Page 2:  BC Education Ministry announces the K-12 Innovation Strategy which will see schools paired up with post-secondary institutes to start bridging the theory and practice of personalized learning. Page 3: Digital eyestrain may mean all new eyewear!  Page 4: 72% of those who develop Alzheimer's are women

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