Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Peninsula CO-OP AGM
Wednesday June 24
Saanich Fairgrounds 1528 Stelly's X Road
5:30 pm registration and social
6:30 meeting begins

Recently many members of the Peninsula Co-Op have been increasingly dissatisfied with a number of decisions made by its leadership. Reasons for the dissatisfaction include:

· The decision by the Co-Op to become involved in last November’s municipal elections WITHOUT the knowledge or approval of the general membership,

· The decision to proceed with plans to undertake a major commercial development on rural land on West Saanich Road that is inconsistent with the Official Community Plan and the Community’s urban containment boundaries,

· A lack of information and dialogue from Co-Op management in keeping with the values and principles of member-owners, and

· The lack of a vision for a green economy supporting alternative energy sources and sustainable local food production.

You can help change this. Each year three Directors are elected to the nine-member board. This year there are three candidates who are committed to: engaging the entire membership, promoting ethical business practices, protecting the rural environments in the communities the Co-Op serves, supporting local agriculture, ensuring sustainable food security, and promoting transparent dialogue with the membership.

Those candidates are:
Alicia Cormier Dave Lawson David Wilson
A communique outlining their positions is attached. Also attached is a copy of the Bio for each of member candidates outlinning their individual qualifications.
Please attend the AGM on the 24th of June 2009 at the Saanich Fairgrounds and vote for these candidates who support positive changes at your Peninsula Co-Op.
Help bring democracy back to the entire membership.
Welfare report Suppressed during election campaign
Justine Hunter
Victoria — From Monday's Globe and Mail, Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2009 10:22PM EDT
The provincial bureaucracy suppressed a routine report during the spring election campaign that shows the province is facing a significant increase in welfare costs this year.
The data tracking the number of people on income assistance put added strain on Premier Gordon Campbell's assertion that his February budget is on track for a $495-million deficit.
An internal government e-mail exchange shows that a Web services analyst was preparing the monthly update of welfare statistics on April 21 when the public affairs bureau stepped in.
“Hi John – Can we please hold off on posting these updates until after the election? Thanks for your help,” wrote government communications officer Amanda Thambirajah.
Read the e-mails, accessed under a freedom of information request
Download this file (.pdf)
Ms. Thambirajah was invoking “interregnum” as the basis for keeping the information out of the public realm during the election – the notion that the civil service should act as a caretaker between one reign and the next.
“It was determined the best approach was to remain neutral and non-partisan about all information except for information about public safety,” Ben Stewart, the minister responsible for the B.C. government's public affairs bureau, said in an interview Monday.
He said the government's entire force of 32,000 civil servants was aware of the protocol, but could not produce a copy of the edict because it does not appear to have been written down anywhere. It was left to the communications directors in each government ministry to prevent the publication of any statistics, reports or other information during the 28-day campaign.
The analyst, John Paul Johnson, sparked a cascade of e-mails when he notified the public affairs bureau that the monthly welfare statistics would be ready to post on the government website on April 30.
His initial e-mail was written the day before Mr. Campbell issued a mid-election campaign assurance that the budget was on track. “Our budget that we brought in in February is a solid budget,” Mr. Campbell said at the time. “We will perform to that budget.”
The statistics show that welfare claims in March had swelled by 26 per cent compared to March, 2008. New Democratic Party Leader Carole James said that information would have been helpful to voters in an election campaign that was focused on the state of the economy. She called the decision to keep the numbers secret until several days after the May 12 vote “disturbing.”
According to budget documents, every 1 per cent increase in welfare cases costs the treasury an additional $3.5-million.
The government so far has allocated an additional $61-million to cover increased welfare costs, a government official has confirmed.
The e-mail trail was obtained through a freedom of information request by former New Democratic Party MLA David Schreck, who turned them over to the opposition. Ms. James noted Monday that the government also prevented health authorities from delivering their proposed health-care cuts until after the election.
“What else did they keep from British Columbians during an election campaign?” she asked. “It's pretty clear that we're in a difficult situation in British Columbia, and the public deserves to know that information.”
Some things were not covered by the unwritten protocol. For example, BC Stats, the government's main statistics agency, released seven economic reports during the campaign. As well, the Liberals announced in the first week of the campaign that the new Port Mann Bridge would open to traffic a year earlier than promised, and the next week, Mr. Campbell opened a new $4.6-million B.C. Visitor Centre.
The finance ministry is preparing an updated budget for Sept. 1, but has not provided any economic update since the election despite warnings from economists that the recession has dealt the government's fiscal health a substantive blow.
Scandalously indefensible, this colossally corrupt government breaks yet another law with impunity.

Four years of B.C. cabinet e-mails erased
Electronic records requested by defence aren't recoverable, lawyer representing Premier in BC Rail case tells court
Mark Hume
Vancouver — Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2009 05:01AM EDT
The provincial government may have destroyed all cabinet e-mails between 2001 and 2005, opening a huge gap in the official record despite a law that electronic files must be kept for at least seven years, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has learned.
Michael Bolton, who is defending one of three former government employees in a political corruption case stemming from the sale of BC Rail, said outside court Monday he was stunned to hear the e-mails aren't available.
“This is troubling…this potentially is a very serious matter. We never expected this,” said Mr. Bolton, who is defending Dave Basi, who was a ministerial aid in 2003 when the government sold BC Rail to CN Rail for $1-billion. The controversial deal, which was the first big privatization undertaken by the B.C. Liberals, closed in 2004.
In an application filed two weeks ago defence lawyers sought the disclosure of the e-mail records of several members of cabinet, key executives, and of Premier Gordon Campbell, from June, 2001 to 2005.
But George Copley, a lawyer representing the Executive Council, which includes both the Premier's office and cabinet, told court the electronic records aren't recoverable.
Mr. Copley said officials who oversaw a search reported the material couldn't be found, implying it had all been purged from the data system.
“There are backup tapes. They are kept for a certain period of time…[but] in the normal course of operation they don't keep more than 13 months backup,” he told Justice Elizabeth Bennett.
Kevin McCullough, who is defending co-accused Bob Virk, a former aid to the transportation minister, told court he couldn't believe what he was hearing.
“It's vanishing point,” he said. “Everything is gone. The records are irrecoverable.”
Mr. McCullough said government officials should be called to explain why the material isn't available.
But Justice Bennett said she was reluctant to do that, because the defence has yet to establish that the material is relevant.
“I'm not keen on having these individuals [responsible for managing government records] cross-examined…If the documents are not recoverable it doesn't mean anything unless you [first] establish likely relevance,” she said.
Justice Bennett told the defence to argue the relevance issue Tuesday, while submitting a set of written questions to Mr. Copley to get more details on what exactly was done to search the government records.
Leonard Krog, NDP justice critic, said it is “extremely troubling” that important government files may have been destroyed.
“The Document Disposal Act requires that [electronic records] be kept for seven years,” he said. “It raises incredible suspicions and someone farther up the political chain that Mr. Copley is going to have to appear in court and explain what happened.”
The government of B.C. has a detailed protocol covering both the preservation and destruction of its records.
Formal records can be destroyed, but only after the action has been approved by a public documents committee, the legislative assembly or the attorney general.
The Corporate Information Management Branch, which provides guidelines for government employees, states that e-mails must be copied to a central document management directory before individuals delete them from their personal files.
The guidelines say only “transitory” e-mails, which are clearly trivial in nature, can be deleted by individuals.
“Examples of this type of e-mail would be ‘Is this morning's meeting still on?' ”