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Regional & national breaking news DIGEST  

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Oct.22.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed Canadians this evening, saying that the 'brutal and violent attack" in the Parliament Building this morning was an attack of terrorism, intended "to make us more fearful," but has made Canadians closer and stronger. "Canada will never be intimidated," Harper said in his statement that was widely televised and streamed online. The House of Commons will be open for regular activity tomorrow.  Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair also addressed Canadians, saying the shooting was a "cowardly act, design to strike at the very heart of our democracy -- at the heart of who we are... but it has failed." Mulcair continued: "We woke up this morning in a country blessed by love, diversity and peace, and tomorrow we will do the same."

 

Oct.22 (posted 4:30pm / updated 5 pm Pacific). Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to address Canadians at 4:45 pm Pacific Daylight Time tonight (7:45 pm Eastern Time), regarding the tragic events that unfolded on Parliament Hill today starting around 9:52 am (tonight the lockdown has been reinstated for anyone still at Parliament Hill and nearby buildings). The delivery time will now be later this evening (as of 5pm). The address will be streamed live online on several TV websites includes CBC, CTV and Global. 

 

 BREAKING NEWS FROM OTTAWA. [Story as built from 7 am to 4pm Pacific Time] Oct.22. [as summarized from various media sources via Twitter]: This morning at 9:52 am Eastern Time, a solider on guard at the National War Memorial was shot and taken to hospital, where he since died. This afternoon the slain soldier's name was announced as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, age 24 [photo from Facebook], a reservist based out of Hamilton, Ontario. He was a member of the Canadian Forces. The shooter then ran to Parliament Hill; that man has been identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, age 32, of Quebec (he also had lived in Vancouver); the shooter was found in the hallway between the Government and Official Opposition caucus rooms, where after a short exchange of gun fire with Parliamentary security officers, he was shot dead near the Parliamentary Library by the House of Commons Sargeant at Arms Kevin Vickers. Parliament Hill was put on lockdown [photo as posted on Variety.com], and then evacuated. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was relocated to another location. Trudeau and Mulcair were also removed to other secure locations.  RCMP, Ontario police, a canine unit and others were almost immediately on what is now a crime scene in the nation's capital. The War Memorial which is a few hundred metres from Parliament [photo of wounded soldier Oct 22, by National Post], is guarded by two soldiers daily; after shooting the solider, the gunman ran toward the Parliament Buildings. Liberal MP Marc Garneau didn't hear the shooting in the parliament buildings but was told by someone else that it sounded like automatic gunfire. Witnesses say several dozen shots fired inside Parliament buildings after Canadian soldier shot at nearby War Memorial. 10:50am Eastern - Police are telling media on Sparks Street to "move back, they're targeting first responders", according to Tweet by John Ivison. CBC reported early in the event (via Canadian Press), that there may have been two or three shooters.  A larger swath of streets was cleared in downtown Ottawa as the hours unfolded.  Confirmation by CBC TV at 11:18 Eastern Time that one of the shooters was shot dead in the Parliament Buildings. As at 12 noon Eastern: All Canadian Forces offices across Canada have been closed to public access (per CBC TV).  As at 12 noon Eastern: no official statement has been made to media from any level of government or law enforcement.  As at 12:15pm Eastern: The Prime Minister's office released a general statement, and says a statement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be given later today (evening); Harper's planned attendance at a Nobel Peace Prize event in Toronto for this event has been cancelled.  Shooting may have also occurred *near* the Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa; retail stores in the mall were on lockdown (still at 12:30 pm Eastern), but soon after that were opened again.   Military officers across the country are being asked to not wear their uniforms today, as military appears to have been targeted in this attack.  CTV News says the FBI may now be involved in the investigation, even through the White House said around 1:45 pm Eastern that the 'terrorism' label has not yet been applied.  At 2:15 pm Eastern: media is standing by for the first official statement at RCMP national headquarters, for an official statement.  RCMP news conference at 2:16 pm Eastern: Gilles Michaud, commanding officer of RCMP national division, Ottawa says people should stay away from downtown Ottawa.  He says all resources were immediately deployed upon several 911 calls coming in about the incident at the war memorial. The Ottawa Police are the lead investigators.  People are to report suspicious activities to local police.  Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson says this is "a sad and tragic day for our city and our country".  As of about 3 pm Eastern -- buildings in downtown Ottawa that had been in lockdown were opened up and people were mobile again in the downtown core, just about at the evening rush hour to head home. Several members of parliament and staff -- depending on their location -- were still in lockdown until every room and location was checked for intruders. At about 4 pm Eastern -- US President Barack Obama said from Washington that "we need to remain vigilant about acts of senseless violence or terrorism". Obama said Canada and the USA have to be "entirely in synch" with regard to security and safety, and that the USA is "standing side by side with Canada during this difficult time". At about 5 pm Eastern -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to make a statement to Canadians this evening.  As of 7 pm today (Eastern Time) the lockdown was reaffirmed and everyone asked to stay in place (though some people were seen being ushered to waiting buses); anyone still in the Parliament Buildings (including MPs, and children in the parliamentary day care) must remain in the building until further notice.

 

Oct.21. Today October 21, 2014 in the BC Legislature, the government introduced Bill 6 - the Liquefied Natural Gas Income Tax Act. Finance Minister Michael de Jong said the bill give proponents of the LNG industry "the certainty they need to make investment decisions while ensuring British Columbians receive the revenues they deserve from this new industry".   "The LNG tax legislation introduced today was written by industry and for industry," says Bruce Ralston, the BC NDP spokesperson on LNG. It cuts in half the LNG tax the premier said was fair in the February 2014 budget. Moreover, the new corporate income tax credit and deductions for pre-construction costs will also cut into the public's share that Christy Clark promised just eight months ago," said Ralston. The tax rate on net income from LNG facilities in BC will be 3.5%, effective for taxation years beginning on or after January 1, 2017. During the period when net operating losses and the capital investment are being deducted, a tax rate of 1.5% will apply and is creditable against the 3.5% tax. In 2037 the LNG Income Tax rate will increase to 5%. The Liquefied Natural Gas Income Tax Act is subject to the approval of the legislature, where the BC Liberal government MLAs have the majority of seats.

 

  Oct.21. The BC Government has selected Pacific Housing Advisory Association to be a Homeless Prevention Program (HPP) provider in Victoria. Participants will receive monthly rental supplements. The program is available in six communities and soon will expand to more than 30 communities throughout BC.  Over the next five years, the government estimates that up to 4,000 people will receive rental assistance and support services through the program, according to a news release today from the Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Responsible for Housing.   "Having this program is an important step to helping prevent homelessness in Victoria," says Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing [official photo].  More than 100,000 BC households benefit from a range of provincial housing services each year. Since 2001, the BC government has invested $4 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families in communities around the province. 

 

Oct.20. Today in BC the new fines for distracted driving came into effect. Now, anyone caught talking on a hand-held electronic device while driving is subject to three penalty points in addition to a $167 fine. This penalty was already in place for anyone emailing or texting while driving.  Infractions include talking on, holding or dialing a cellular phone, operating a hand-held audio player (such as iPod or mp3 player), or programming a GPS.  Penalty points remain on a person's driving record for five years and can result in further sanctions, including prohibitions from driving. Distracted driving is the second leading contributor factor of vehicle fatalities in BC, says a BC government news release from the Ministry of Justice.

 

Oct.19.  Randall Garrison, MP (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca) will be running for a second term as an NDP Member of Parliament. The name of the electoral area on Vancouver Island has been changed for the next election, to Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, a move that Garrison played a major role in achieving. The riding name better reflects the areas that are included in the new boundaries of the electoral area and avoids confusion with the provincial electoral area name of Juan de Fuca.  The boundary changes essentially dropped growing metropolis of Langford from what is presently Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, giving Garrison a modified playing field in the next election campaign that stretches from the core of Saanich, along with Esquimalt (including the naval base area), along the west shore of the island all the way up to Port Renfrew. The next federal election is set for October 19, 2015 (though the date can change if the Prime Minister calls for a different date).

 

Oct.18. Former federal Interim Liberal Leader (2011-2013) Bob Rae says "Canadians are the losers" when politics has reached where it's at now. He tweeted @BobRae48 last week (Oct.9th): "Posturing, partisanship, personal attack - the trilogy of today's politics - Canadians are the losers.

 

Oct.17. The BC Government is relinquishing its tight grip on printing of official documents, to now start outsourcing most of its required print runs to printers in the private sector, it was announced yesterday. The change is part of the government's Core Review of costs and operations throughout the provincial government.

 

  Oct.16. Today's Great BC ShakeOut earthquake drill saw 730,000 participants province-wide, and 25.9 million worldwide.  www.shakeoutbc.ca

 

Oct.16. Concern about the spread of Ebola to frontline health care workers (particularly nurses) continues to grow in Canada and the USA. The first case was diagnosed in Dallas (in a visitor from Liberia), where two more nurses have since contracted the disease which is fatal in over 50% of cases. State of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (neighbouring state to Texas) says all flights incoming from Ebola-stricken countries should be shut down.

 

Oct.15. The Government of Canada building at 90 Elgin Street in Ottawa will be named the James Michael Flaherty Building in honour of the former Minister of Finance who passed away on April 10, 2014. Prime Minister Harper made the announcement today along with Flaherty's widow Christine Elliott, and her sons John, Galen and Quinn. The building is a modern facility that will accommodate the Department of Finance and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Flaherty dedicated eight years of his life to the financial well-being of Canadians, serving as the finance minister from February 6, 2006 to March 18, 2014.

 

Oct.15. A second health care worker has been diagnosed positive for Ebola in Dallas, Texas where the first case of Ebola in North America presented via a visitor from West Africa.

 

Oct.14 . New minimum training standards for BC's firefighters will provide a clear and achievable means of ensuring the safety of the men and women in the fire service, says a news release from Emergency Management BC. Under the new training standards (updated for the first time in more than a decade), local governments identify the level of service being provided and fire departments are then able to ensure their firefighters are appropriately trained to meet that level. This allows for an effective use of resources to meet the needs of the community without requiring unnecessary training.

 

  Oct.13. You can register for the Great BC ShakeOut earthquake drill which takes place October 16 (10:16 am) but do your drill another day, and still be counted! www.shakeoutbc.ca Businesses, organizations and individuals can register and get some emergency preparedness practice. It's an opportunity to practice "Drop, Cover and Hold On!". A major earthquake is considered inevitable: It's not if, but when".

 

HEALTH ALERT. Oct.13. [Updated Oct.14]. One person who arrived at Ottawa General Hospital this weekend with what turned out to be possible symptoms of Ebola, has been retained in hospital in quarantine, as reported by CTV news today. [They were later sent home after testing negative.]   A physician at Sunnybrook Medical Centre in Toronto says all hospitals across Canada should be prepared to accept incoming infectious disease patients, and if they are not prepared with the appropriate equipment and facilities, they should be. Oct.14: Ontario Nurses' Association says nurses not being offered all the equipment they might need to protect them from contracting the virus.  ONA president Linda Haslam-Stroud added that "airborne transmission has not been ruled out and this is the fundamental disagreement that we're having with the government" (as reported by the Ottawa Citizen).

 

Oct.12. Happy Thanksgiving weekend! Monday, October 13 is a statutory holiday, with banks, government and Canada Post closed.

 

Oct.11. The October 10th edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Front page news as everywhere around the world -- man who brought Ebola to North America has died of the infection. BC committed to $3.5 million in equipment to send to West Africa to help contain Ebola. In Sooke, the front page news is the list of candidates running for Mayor, Council, and SD62 school board and of interest is how many candidates are running this time around.  This is Small Business Month. See Op-Ed from BC Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business, and an interview with CFIB-BC.  Check out Thanksgiving goings-on around town.

 

Oct.10. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau may have sealed an aspect of his political fate by deciding not to lead his party in the House of Commons vote in Ottawa on October 7, about sending military support to Iraq. As was so eloquently pointed out by public affairs critic Rex Murphy on CBC-TV News last night, the leadership performance of a country's leader or would-be leader is assessed by the populace on such large national issues of great importance like going to war.  Trudeau left in his stead the competent Marc Garneau to lead the Liberal debate against the combat mission. The vote on Tuesday night in favour of an air combat mission in Iraq passed with 157 MPs in favour and 134 against; Liberal and NDP MPs voted against the motion. 

 

Oct.9. One individual can stir the pot and get a lot of attention.  Filing nomination papers with most if not all municipalities in the Greater Victoria area, David Shebib [photo from his website] was the talk of the political community today as his name appeared on one list after another at Civic Info BC.  In Victoria, Colwood and Sooke he is running for Mayor, and in Langford (where so far no one is listed as running for Mayor where Stew Young has been the mayor for over 20 years), Shebib is running as a Councillor. Perhaps even more of an upset-candidate for Council in Langford (23,864 eligible voters) is Grant McLachlan [photo from Twitter], with NDP roots and who is by far the youngest candidate in that municipal race (he has been promoting himself on social media with other 'under-30 candidates' who are running for other positions) and who -- if he were to win a seat -- would be considerably outnumbered by the many long-time incumbents on Langford council.

 

Oct.8. A commitment to send up to $3.5 million worth of protection and treatment equipment to West Africa to help stop the spread of Ebola has been made by the BC Ministry of Health and health authorities throughout BC. The action is in response to the request by Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose for provinces to donate medical equipment to help stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa.  The Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person or through casual contact but is spread through direct contact with infected body fluids such as blood, sweat, saliva, vomit, urine or faeces, said a BC news release today.  Donated equipment includes respirator masks, face shields, gloves and gowns to help reduce the risks of coming into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person as well equipment like syringes to help treat those who are infected "The response to Ebola has to be global," said BC health officer Dr. Perry Kendall.
 

Oct.7. The Times Colonist daily newspaper in Victoria had "issues with trucking" today, and as a result delivery of the print edition delivery has been delayed.

 

Oct.6. Today the BC Throne Speech offered nothing new, but stuck to its guns on LNG, exports to China, and adhering to working down the debt and cutting costs.  The speech essentially said that any comments to the contrary of this approach would be just for political expediency. Generalized platitudes about five years of labour peace in BC education and getting to the bottom of where there was a tailings pond breach at the Mount Polley Mine, were part of the speech. Municipal governments will be "given the tools" to help the government "control spending, find savings and balance the budget", which might be the only area for municipal candidates to really speak up in the this fall 2014 municipal election season.

 

Oct.6. The BC Legislature will sit for their Fall 2014 session starting today Monday, October 6. The Throne Speech by Lt Govt Judith Guichon commences at 1 pm. There will be six 4-day weeks this session (not sitting week of Oct 13 or week of Nov 10), wrapping up Nov 27.  Premier Christy Clark and Leader of the Official Opposition John Horgan are possibly looking forward to some meaningful debates on behalf of the voters and citizens of BC.  The BC legislative TV channel will carry the Throne Speech live. Webcast: www.leg.bc.ca./hansard/webcasts

 

Oct.5. The annual Great BC ShakeOut is set for Thursday, October 16. At 10:16 am both registered participants and everyone else are encouraged to practice 'Drop, Cover and Hold On' for up to two minutes as part of a training effort of what to do in the event of an earthquake.  It is believed by seismologists and emergency services professionals that it's not a matter of if, but when a major earthquake will occur in British Columbia, due to our location on certain tectonic plates. As of October 5, there are over 600,000 registered participants in BC and over 23.1 million worldwide.

 

Oct.4. The revised Sooke School Board 62 (SD62) 2014-2015 academic calendar has been released. It was updated September 25, 2014 to show provincial exams (Gr.10-12) for the week of Feb. 2 to 5, 2015 (instead of in January), and  the second semester starting February 5, 2015. There is still a 2-week spring break (Monday March 9 to Friday March 20, 2015). The changes resulted from a 3-week delay in the start of the school year due to the BC Teachers Federation labour dispute with the BC Government. The length of the school day was not altered.

 

Oct.4. The Oct 3rd print/PDF edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Front page story on the opening of a new road called Wadams Way, which gave the engineers an opportunity to design from scratch. Editorial on what it might take to really improve the BC Economy, and the possible damage with the BC Liberals approach (page 2). Two more Sooke council candidates made it official this week (Rick Kasper and Jeff Bateman, both running for 2014-2018 term).  TELUS will pitch to Sooke Council on Oct 27 about erecting a wireless transmission tower in Sooke town center. Dryer lint build-up caused a fire resulting in about $50,000 of damage (page 3). Tour de Rock riders came through Sooke on Oct 1 (page 4). The Great BC Shakeout has over 600,000 participants registered so far (page 4).

 

Oct.3. October is Foster Family Month in BC. The provincial government has about 3,200 foster parents in the system who care for about 5,900 children. The Ministry of Children and Family Development and encourages others to "embrace this rewarding challenge". BC Ministry of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux [photo] says "Being a foster parents isn't a job, it's a calling." There are three general categories of foster homes:  those where parents care for children they know or are related to their family; those who provide care for up to six children of varying ages and needs; and specialized situations where children have more challenging behaviour or developmental needs. Information: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/foster or 1-800-663-9999. 

 

 Oct.3. A new TV show called GracePoint featuring Vancouver Island scenery and town-shots of Oak Bay Village and residential areas -- starring David Tennant (of Dr Who fame) as a straight-faced tormented detective and Emmy-winner Anna Gunn also as a detective, and well-known actor Nick Nolte as an old fisherman --  aired its one-hour season premier last night on Global TV. There will be 10 episodes in this first season, and if the riveting first hour is any indication, it's likely to be a big hit beyond year one! Too bad the scriptwriters and show producers decided to do that pretend-its-a-US-town thing, setting up a masquerade that has San Francisco as the big city of the region.  Canada still not good enough for prime time, eh?

 

Oct.2. Premier Christy Clark addressed a large lunchtime gathering of the Vancouver Board of Trade today, remarking on a wide range of topics, but most of them focussed on the economy. Clark leaves on a trade mission (Oct 9 to 18) to India next week (her 6th foreign trade mission), saying that the expansion of the middle class in India is a "breathtaking transformation" and that BC "needs to be there" and noting that some of the business people in the room at lunch would be joining her on the trip. Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk will also be on the trip to raise awareness about secondary and post-secondary student exchange opportunities in BC. Clark was asked about the aftermath of the teachers strike. She continues to express enthusiasm for the opportunity to "talk about about kids" and how the education system might better serve the economy, and says she has asked her Liberal Caucus to "renew relationships with classroom teachers in their communities" as part of the mending process. Premier Clark made a strong pitch for the strength of not only BC's economy (heavily focussed on mining and resources) but also Canada and working together to provide cross-province job mobility for trainer workers. She had a 'tip' for those participating in the 2015 federal election campaign, that the federal government should rename their Temporary Foreign Workers program as something like "Potential New Canadians" program, as a way of acknowledging the role and importance of immigration and immigrants in continuing to build Canada.

 

Oct.2. Winter tires are required as of Oct.1 in BC, on many highways in the province, through to March 31. Signs are posted where winter tires are required. Generally, these are mountain pass areas and interior highways where conditions can change from rain to snow very quickly. Maps showing which roads require winter tires are provided by the BC government: Seasonal Driving Maps . Winter tires must have a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm. Use of winter tires were previously required to April 30 each year.

 

Oct.1. They cycle fast!  The team of 24 Tour de Rock cyclists were a few minutes ahead of schedule, zooming past the corner of the new intersection of Wadams Way and Church Road at 1:26 pm, heading to Journey Middle School ahead of their 1:40 pm rendezvous for lunch and ceremony.

 

Sept.30. The first case of Ebola that has presented in North America was revealed today by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The infected man is a visitor from Liberia, visiting family members who are resident in Texas. The man presented felt ill on September 26 and went to hospital but was sent home; he returned to hospital in north Texas with further symptoms on September 28. The announcement was made by CDC at 3 pm today, September 30 by CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden who said the strain of Ebola that has caused this infection is only as a result of direct contact with an infected patient, and is not transmitted by airborne proximity.  Dr. Frieden says CDC will "stop this in its tracks" using proven methods of disease control.  People who were on the same flight on September 19 from Liberia to the USA are not considered to be at risk, as the patient was still in the incubation phase of the illness.

 

Sept.30. Attention travellers! Baggage fees will start with WestJet on Oct.29 ($25 one-way fee for a first checked pag on Econom fares for travel within Canada and between Canada and the USA) and with Air Canada on Nov.1. There are now stricter size restrictions for carry-on handbags as well.

 

Sept.29. The rain came back in Sooke today.

 

Sept.28. This weekend was warm and bright, both Saturday and Sunday, in Sooke. No rain.

 

Sept.27. Weather has turned cooler in Sooke today, though the week's rain has abated and the sun is poking through. In Sooke today a new road will be officially opened at 11 am, with a small celebration of infrastructure hosted by Mayor Wendal Milne. - see Local Breaking News.

 

Sept.26. Four District of Sooke councillors were at the UBCM convention in Whistler this week -- see pg1 story in Sept 26th edition of Sooke Voice News.   Editorial: post-recession realization that 'nothing is free' may change grant process in Sooke. Letter: Telus is proposing a cell tower for Sooke town center. Page 3: NDP Leader John Horgan is starting to talk LNG. Page 3: Sooke RCMP is fining people weekly in Sooke for distracted driving. Page 4: Sooke Legion is getting some new flag poles after Canadian flag was stolen on Canada Day -- Randall Garrison's office pitched in a flag too!

 

Sept.25. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke today at a United Nations-sponsored Maternal and Child Health summit. He thanked the World Bank for organizing a way to keep funds 'growing magically' toward the cause of improving the health and positive birth outcomes for women and newborns, a fund to which Canada has now contributed $100 million. Overall, Canada has committed to contributing $3.5 billion over 5 years toward reducing infant mortality and improving care for women giving birth in disadvantaged countries. Canada has specifically contributed $100 million toward improved birth registration systems in countries where a lack of birth records makes it difficult to provide needed and ongoing health care services.

 

  Sept.25. Both major Canadian TV news networks (CBC and CTV) report their own polls of the last 24 hours, showing that Canadians are concerned about the growing threat of home-grown terrorism and showing generally 65% to 75% of those polls with the view that dual-citizenship should be revoked if someone has been found to be participating in terrorism of a nature that is harmful to Canada.

 

Sept.24. "It's a seemingly darkening time," is how Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott put it today in his speech to the United Nations (UN) Security Council about the growing worldwide threat of ISIS (also called the Islamic State) which he called "a death cult". US President Barack Obama has chaired the committee for the last two days, calling on all free and democratic nations to support America's leadership with international counterterrorism. British Prime Minister David Cameron also spoke very much in favour of supporting the US-led attack on ISIS, saying "this is a fight you cannot opt out of". Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a media interview before addressing the UN, that he would approach cabinet to discuss expanding anti-terrorism commitments from the current 30-day 'assessment and support' phase. [Photo of Obama: USNews.com  as sourced via Google. Photo of UN assembly: Reuters as sourced via Google]

 

Sept.23. BC Ferries hopes to reduce fares by saving fuel costs by converting two Spirit class vessels to operate on both liquified natural gas and diesel. This will apparently eventually reduce fares by 3% (within 7 to 8 years of the conversion) from what they would otherwise be, producing an anticipated annual savings of $9.2 million. The two target ferries for this conversion are the Spirit of Vancouver Island (conversion during scheduled refit fall 2016 to spring 2017) and Spirit of British Columbia (conversion during scheduled refit fall 2017 to spring 2018) that sail between Vancouver and Victoria.

 

Sept.22. Today Monday, September 22 is the first day back to school of the 2014-2015 academic year across BC, following a 94-day strike by BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) members that began in June.   "No time will be made up," said BCTF president Jim Iker with regard to the 3 weeks of lost instruction time for students.  Provincial exam dates may need to be altered, says BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender.  Each school district might decide on the application of Professional Development Day time toward instruction time. The teachers finally agreed to negotiate after a vote demanding that the government take part in binding arbitration was ignored by the government, and after putting parents, families and businesses through an extensive period of disruption.   Info for all schools in Sooke School District SD62: www.sd62.bc.ca

 

Sept.21. Over 70,000 Syrian refugees have fled into Turkey in the space of the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 100,000. Most of them are ethnic Kurds hoping to escape the advance of 'Islamic State' terrorists aiming to take over large chunks of Syria (they have taken control of 64 villages in northeast Syrian just since September 17) and other middle-eastern areas. [Photo by Associated Press" Turkish guards observe as Syrian refugees gather near border]

 

Sept 20. Russian bombers came within 75 km of Canada's northern mainland this past week (1:30 am Pacific Time on September 18) into the western reaches of Canada's Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) and had to be turned back by Canadian CF18 fighter jets over the Beaufort Sea. This occurred 12 hours after Prime Minister Harper met with Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko in Ottawa.  Canada announced $3 million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine on September 17, and finalized a deal to disburse $200 million as a low-interest loan to Ukraine to help stabilize the economy of that eastern European country that is trying to avoid falling into the clutches of Russian aggression. Ukraine is seeking aid for setting up sophisticated surveillance systems to monitor their border-areas near Russian, to help keep Moscow at bay; Ukraine cannot see where Russian forces are and therefore need information by satellite. Harper is not unaware of the political influence in Canadian politics of the 1.2 million Canadians of Ukranian descent.  About six hours before the incident involving Canadian jets, American F-22 fighter jets were scrambled from a base in Alaska to meet a group of Russian aircraft, including two refuelling tankers, two MIG-31 fighters and two long-range bombers. According to a CBC news report, NORAD has dispatched fighter jets to make contact with Russian long-range bombers "in excess of 50 times" in the last five years. [Photo sourced online]

 

Sept.19. Sept. 19th print/PDF weekly edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. The teachers strike is over, but what has surfaced as our main page story this week is that blood supplies are critically low in Canada. Cancellation of donor appointments has seen an upsurge. Our editorial this week is about massive shifts seemingly all at once: Scotland coming 'this close' to independence, teachers having had enough and getting back to work, and a brush with crisis as Russian bombers came within 74 km of the Canadian border this past week. New feature starts this week:  Wonderful & Worrisome (see page 2).

 

Sept.18. BC public school teachers are heading back to work on Monday, September 22 following a successful 'yes' vote (86% of those who voted said yes; only 66.5% of members voted) by BC Teachers Federation union members to accept the BC Government's 6-year deal as negotiated earlier this week. The deal includes wages increases and monies aimed at higher more teachers for classrooms, said BCTF president Jim Iker this evening on Livestream. Earlier this week Premier Christy Clark was excited at the prospect of what she called 'five years of labour peace' for education in BC. Tonight BCTF president Jim Iker said they didn't get "everything we need for students and our members -- our engagement will continue". Despite that BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender said earlier this week that every student's academic year "would remain whole", BCTF's Iker gave no apology when saying "no time will be made up".  No mention whatsoever was made for making up lost time to students, in a news release issued by Fassbender this evening after the BCTF announcement.

 

Sept.18. Scotland has voted 55% in favour of staying within the United Kingdom, it was announced tonight. Large voter turnout for the "No" vote (the question was "Should Scotland be an independent country") was tipped heavily in that direction mostly from the two largest cities -- Glasgow and Edinburgh. Scotland has many times in the last 800 years attempted to set itself free from British rule but it appears the 'fear' vote about potential economic instability had Scotland become independent, was the final push by opponents to independence in the final days of the active civic event.

 

Sept.18. Today is a big day for the power of voting en masse! Scotland is voting on whether to separate from England (over 4.2 million Scots registered to vote), and the BC Teachers Federation members (up to 41,000 of them) are voting on whether to accept a negotiated agreement that will affect education in British Columbia for the next six years. Results from both votes are expected later this evening.

 

Sept.17. Over 100 firefighters from 21 fire departments around BC (mostly from the south island) will be attending the 2nd annual Juan de Fuca / Justice Institute of BC Firefighter Regional Training Weekend, Sept.18-21. Training activities will take place in Sooke (aerial ladder, hazardous materials, evaluator certification), Otter Point (live fire training levels 1 and 2), East Sooke (fire truck tender operations training) and Metchosin (fireground strategies and tactics, and fire company inspections training). The training event has been organized by Sooke firefighter Cam Norris-Jones who is pleased with the attendance numbers as they continue to exceed estimates. Local sponsors have assisted with donations of food and materials.

 

Sept.16. Shades of a future campaign moment yet to come: last night (Monday, Sept 15) both Sooke mayoralty candidates -- Maja Tait and Herb Haldane -- were deep in thought during debate at Sooke Council. The local chamber of commerce has yet to announce their plans or a date for hosting an All Candidates Meeting at which Sooke voters may hear the candidates for Mayor and Council for the 2014-2018 District of Sooke Council.  Election news updates are posted here as news warrants.

 

       TEACHERS STRIKE UPDATE. Sept.16. [2:20 pm] BC Teachers and the BC Government have reached a tentative deal, on which the teachers are likely to vote this Thursday. Premier Christy Clark sounded keen and enthusiastic in a media announcement  from 2:00 to 2:20 pm in Vancouver today, that both sides had cooperated to come to an agreement in which "teachers get a raise", "classroom composition for kids" is improved, and taxpayers are not impacted.  The negotiated agreement now goes to BC Teachers Federation members and school board trustees for ratification.  Results are expected to be known on Thursday, Sept.18.  Premier Clark says schools could be back in action likely by Monday, September 22. BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender said that "every student's educational journey will be kept whole" for the 2014-2015 academic year, and that "details will be announced as we move forward", especially for Grades 11 and 12, he added.  "Thanks to parents for giving us the space (to work through a deal)", said Premier Clark.  The premier was excited to announce that no further debt would be incurred by the province by this agreement.  Premier Clark was keen that a 6-year-deal (if ratified by teachers this week) will allow for a new "stable environment where we can really get the work done", with reference to now five years of opportunities to "chart a future for our kids". 

 

TEACHERS STRIKE UPDATE. Sept.16. [9:20 am] BC Teachers and the BC Government have reached a tentative deal, on which the teachers are likely to vote this Thursday. That would see 41,000 about BC teachers back to work by next week (possibly Monday), and about half a million BC students back in classrooms. School buildings need to be readied, class lists finalized, and timetables finalized for high school students.  At 2 pm BC Premier Clark and BC Education Fassbender will address the media from the Premier's office in Vancouver. The BCTF will address the media via Livestream at 4:30pm.

 

Sept.16. Getting down to final wording, last night Sooke Council finalized the wording for two non-binding 'opinion' questions to be included on the ballot(s) in the November 15, 2014 municipal election:   1) "Would you support the District of Sooke working with the community to develop multi-use community centre facilities? YES or NO?"  2) "Should the District of Sooke join other municipalities in renewing and restating its opposition to the expansion of oil tanker traffic through Coastal BC waters? YES or NO". The community centre question has no dollar figure attached, and as such, some Councillors expressed concern that the ballot process for such a weak question was a waste of municipal resources (separate ballot counting box/process is required for the additional question).  

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