Recent comments

  • COMMENT: ‘Leaders’ and why we’re so beyond that--or should be. Part Two of Two: Who wants a newspaper to call their very own?   20 weeks 16 hours ago

    In the context of democratic governance, the term accountable needs to be refined, or perhaps given a somewhat different emphasis.
    If we take accountability to mean "You will not be re-elected" the impact is likely to be negligible as an incumbent will concentrate his efforts in re-election propaganda.

    However, if we take accountable to mean "Do, or else we will", accountability will, in time, sharpen the elected politicians hearing and understanding. They learn to read the wind. It takes time, granted, a change in political culture does not come easily or quickly. However, with time, those who seek elected office do understand that if they have goals or objectives they want to achieve, they have to shape and present their objectives in such a way as to be acceptable to the bulk of the population. If not, citizens have the power to block it.

    The real benefit in empowering citizens to act, to impose a decision on the elected elite, is that it fine-tunes the hearing of that elite.

  • COMMENT: ‘Leaders’ and why we’re so beyond that--or should be. Part Two of Two: Who wants a newspaper to call their very own?   20 weeks 18 hours ago

    I think you see to the heart of the dilemma I face as a 'transmitter' of news and views, Aaron. If I carp up a solution I'm perpetuating the problem! All I can offer at this point is my diagnosis of that problem, which I'll restate here.

    My experience over the last five years is that when I edit the Telegraph and assign a reporter to cover five stories in a week I'm determining the agenda. The reporter will be interested and informed about some topics but not others. He or she will necessarily bring some form of bias to the process. The readership will look at our offerings and tend to read or not read depending on their interests. A few will post a comment. And that's the end of the process. It's one way and narrow, if that's the right word.

    The same is true of governance. A few noble fools run for council, a few more vote. The elected body is quickly overwhelmed and delegate duties to paid managers. Council make decisions as best they can but are too overwhelmed to listen to the public, viewing feedback as attacks more often than not. What goes on in chambers is written about in a story or two and that's generally it. Occasionally, as with Andrew Bennett's fine coverage of the Jason Ward Affair, the hive gets stirred up but even then it soon settles back down and not much changes. Again, a constricted form of discourse.

    My argument is that technological limitations used to make these structures necessary (the train to Ottawa, so to speak, the expense of running a printing press) but that today new options are available that reflect the nature of the culture at the moment. If we don't adopt them we (government and media) become irrelevant and engagement drops off even further.

    I do have a few ideas about possible solutions, it's true, but the nature of the problem demands that they not come particularly from me. If greater engagement is the goal, then the solutions should come about through an engaged process, not an autocratic one run by me as the guy who somehow ended up with the keys to a news outlet...

    I'm moving in the direction of helping to facilitate such a process--not least in part through conversations like these. Thanks to you and Andre for joining in--would love to hear from anyone else out there who has a thought to share!

    More to follow in the next week or so...

  • COMMENT: ‘Leaders’ and why we’re so beyond that--or should be. Part Two of Two: Who wants a newspaper to call their very own?   20 weeks 18 hours ago

    André is right that the technology is not the central problem; it's the people that the technology is supposed to serve.  That's true for both government and the media.  It would be great if people were more involved in their own governance, in holding governments accountable.  We can probably all agree on that.  But where do we go from there? 

    Adrian is thinking of how to reboot the transmission model for news, but I'm not sure what he has in mind.  Stop being a transmitter of news and start doing something else?  Revise the model for news transmission?  Or leave the newspaper as it is and start some sort of other parallel process?  I like the objectives, but I'm having trouble imagining what kinds of options are out there.  Town hall meetings? Kitchen table meetings? 

    I suspect Adrian has some ideas, however rough.  I also suspect he doesn't want to unilaterally force the discussion in a particular direction.  But I'd still like to hear what's on his mind.

  • COMMENT: ‘Leaders’ and why we’re so beyond that--or should be. Part Two of Two: Who wants a newspaper to call their very own?   20 weeks 18 hours ago

    Yes, we could easily have a survey on every substantive issue, and could enshrine a referendum option for all the controversial ones.  But that's a really limited concept of democracy.

    Democracy at its core demands that people be educated about the issues.  If you take a survey about something that I'm misinformed or ignorant about, I'm going to deliver you a crap vote. The only good thing about electing representatives is that sometimes (rarely) they actually think beyond the prevailing mood to advocate for what's good for the long term, putting their principles above their popularity.  You lose that if you go to government by survey.

    The challenge of democracy is not just holding governments accountable - it's also ensuring that the ones doing the holding are informed, engaged.

  • COMMENT: ‘Leaders’ and why we’re so beyond that--or should be. Part Two of Two: Who wants a newspaper to call their very own?   20 weeks 19 hours ago

    I guess I disagree! Whenever I hear the refrain that 'the people aren't pulling their weight' I get suspicious. People are always the same, but technology changes and determines the way cultures work. So the people aren't lazier or dumber today than in the's just that the tools they're given don't make sense any longer. And sending some person off to Ottawa for four years is just too horse-and-buggy for the 21st century mind. Transmission culture (media or governance) is increasingly seen as BS...alienating and ineffective.

    To claim that delegative democracy is viable is like someone in the time of Gutenburg claiming that hand-copying manuscripts and filing them in monestaries was still a viable way of storing and sharing knowledge.

    We reject contemporary democracy (as practised) because contemporary democracy rejects us. The Constitution Bylaw is a perfect example, in fact, of one of the ways in which democracy must evolve to suit the times. We should have a survey monkey for every substantive issue that comes before council and offer them the results before they make their decision. So, I think we agree!

    Finally, if that's first draft writing, Andre, I'm impressed! So I won't 'blame technology'--I'll praise you!

  • COMMENT: ‘Leaders’ and why we’re so beyond that--or should be. Part Two of Two: Who wants a newspaper to call their very own?   20 weeks 19 hours ago

    I am no longer a resident of Rossland, but as you asked for “Any ideas out there?” I thought, why not. It is most difficult for me to remain silent in any debate on topics within the broad categories of governance, society, democracy, and politics.

    You opened part two with a reference to the people who used to take the train to Ottawa to represent their constituents. This is an appropriate picture from which to start an analysis of the problem, at least from the way I see the problem.

    The idea back then in 1867 was for the people of Canada to govern themselves rather than being governed from far away London. The steam powered train was the technology of the day used to make it happen. The technology had about as much relevance to the idea of home rule as mukluks have to the idea of transportation. The philosophy underpinning the idea of sending representatives to Ottawa was that those sent out would do just that – represent the people left behind. Part and parcel of the concept of representation is accountability. Our legal system provides an excellent example to help us understand how accountability is linked to representation.

    If I am hauled into court and am represented by a lawyer, the job of the lawyer is to represent me and my interests, and she darn well better discuss with me how she intends to proceed and why. The lawyer may be of the opinion that my interests would be best served by pleading guilty, that the consequences would not likely be as severe as they would should I be found guilty after having pleaded not guilty. But if I disagree and insist on pleading not guilty anyway, the lawyer had better do her utmost to defend me and my interests to the court. She is and remains accountable to me all the way my being seated in the electric chair.

    Democracy differs from all other governance forms and philosophies in one essential way: bottom up. In all other forms of government, autocracy, oligarchy, anything from a Hitler-style regime to the most benign colonial rule, governance proceed in a top down direction. Bottom-up governance means top down accountability. Rousseau recognized a long time ago that it is impossible for all the people to meet all the time to make all the decisions necessary to make society function, to avoid total anarchy. That means that delegation of some kind, in some form, and to some degree is essential. The key to the quality of a democracy, however, is not how or to what degree or by what way the power to make decisions is delegated, nor to the technology applied to make it work. The key is accountability.

    The idea behind Rossland’s Constitution Bylaw was to provide citizens with the means to establish, maintain, and adjust the fences within which their elected council may roam freely. When the idea was put to the people in a referendum, it was adopted with overwhelming majority. When the bylaw was scrapped, it was not because citizens were tired of holding their elected council accountable; it was because their elected council was tired of having their power to make deals with developers limited. The Community Charter gave the elected council certain powers, and they were not about to be held accountable for the way they used those powers by some stupid bylaw dreamt up by a hired idealist.

    The Constitution Bylaw was deemed to be illegal by the stipulation that a referendum decision would be binding on council. It could have been retained, and be fully legal, simply by removing that section. That section could have been amended to state something like “council shall consider the referendum result prior to making a final decision.” That would have been perfectly legal. The problem with that approach is that it would have retained, perhaps even reinforced, the bylaw’s effect of holding council accountable. Just imagine a council facing final adoption of a bylaw where a solid majority of citizens had taken the time and made the effort to express their opposition. Or a council refusing to initiate a bylaw requested by a petition signed by the required percentage of registered voters. No, the council that dumped the Constitution Bylaw was not worried about its legality; it wanted to remove a process designed to strengthen accountability.

    The problem is not technology; the problem lies with us, the citizens of this country – province - community. We refer to the people we elect as being our representatives, but once elected we accept their obedience to their party leader, why? Look at the US, for example. Yes, the US system differs from our British parliamentary system, but in the US is more rare than common that Congress or Senate votes stick strictly to party lines. The US system has its problems too, and I mean to use that example only to point out one significant difference.

    To conclude, I do not see technology as a problem of any significance in the way we are governed at any level in Canada. I see the problem in citizens accepting, with barely a murmur of discontent, the manner in which those we elect to, in theory, represent us proceed on being elected weaken and preferably eliminate all means by which they could be held accountable for their actions. Instead they rely on short-term flashy promises of goodies down the road to enhance their chances of being re-elected.

    (This was written off the cuff, without editing. If anything I wrote appears garbled, blame it on technology).

  • MAAP is officially on the map   20 weeks 6 days ago

    My apologies Sam. Yes it's at 7212 Riverside Drive -- behind Clyde's Pub and the firehall if you are familiar with Grand Forks. 

  • Austrian Climate Change team arrives in Nelson — 'Pulling on the same end of the Rope'   20 weeks 6 days ago

    Please don't tell me that Nelson city council has not already dealt with this issue by upgrading the infrastructure and updating possible system failures.  Does the council really need to hire someone from half way around the world to 'assess' what should be a common sense job description of at least one person elected to city council?  Sounds like a waste of tax-payers' money to me.

  • MAAP is officially on the map   20 weeks 6 days ago

    Is this facility in Grand Forks? 

  • COMMENT: Retirement Security   20 weeks 6 days ago

    There is not enough money for workers because the elected politicians have more than their share giving themselves huge raises without the need to bargain but balk at workers getting bargaining rights. Why is it the the people they represent have to take a back seat to those they have elected? Also those that have worked for 30+ years are not as fortunate because we can't increase our pensions at will. Also the pensions they recieve they only have to sit on their backsides for 6 years.

  • Ferraro Foods speaks to Facebook furor over Sensible BC video   20 weeks 6 days ago

    It was disgusting to see the extent that the store owner went to in interfering with a legal process. He had no business interfering like that, kind of makes him a biggot as well as a law breaker.

  • Teck Trail Operations pH Level Permit Exceedance Penalty Supports Habitat Conservation   21 weeks 9 hours ago

    Just guessing here, but I think the discrepancy in numbers is because the smaller number is the accidental caustic spill into a sewer drain, and the other is the discharge of high pH effluent into the river. Because Teck's sewers combine before going into the river, it isn't unreasonable that the initial spill was mixed (and thankfully diluted) into a much larger volume before it entered the river. The unfortunate thing is the accident wasn't caught in time to properly treat the water before discharging it.

  • Ferraro Foods speaks to Facebook furor over Sensible BC video   21 weeks 18 hours ago

    Respectfully, Cam, Mr. Ferraro wasn't taking a stand for anti-marijuana values, he was interfering with a legal process on a public sidewalk. The only value at stake here was freedom of expression and Ferraro was on the wrong side.

    There has been an apology and that's good enough for me. We all make mistakes in the heat of the moment, but let's remember that the pot debate needs to play out--to whatever conclusion--in an open and unimpeded manner. I'd hesitate to support anyone for mayor who didn't understand this very basic Canadian value--"I may disagree with what you say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it"--ed.

  • Ferraro Foods speaks to Facebook furor over Sensible BC video   21 weeks 1 day ago

    First of all let me say that I totally support the goals of SensibleBC to promote a referendum.  I have never had the opportunity to indulge in discussions with Danny Ferraro so I don't know much about him.  From the limited second hand reports I have seen, I am guessing his beliefs and understandings may have crossed a line.  But, how many of us would stand up so pubicly for what we believed  in, even though it has proved to have been a somewhat unpopular stand.  One of the reasons we are in this cuffle is due to the tremendous lack of information exchange between camps and Mr Ferraro seems to be willing to contribute his side to the discussion.  I have to admit that I have a tinge of admiration (as far as I can without knowing the guy) for his courage in taking his stand.    With a little polish do I see Dan Ferrarro Mayor?  I might even vote for him should he see our side of the debate.   Anyway lets accept the extended olive leaves, put this behind us and get to addressing the problems at hand.

  • Ferraro Foods speaks to Facebook furor over Sensible BC video   21 weeks 1 day ago

    Dave and Maybe Jim apologized, but Danny, and here I have to say he seems like a nice enough guy, always ready with a smile and nod , Danny still has not come clean with the truth of the matter as far as I can see, I am embarrassed for the guy even. Danny... fess up, your words are not what I was paying attention to on that is your actions that give me trouble. Look me in the face, admit you were wrong (you don't really HAVE to say you lied), and let us move on from there!

  • My Remembrance Day quandary   21 weeks 1 day ago


    Everytime you run for Mayor/City Councillor you lose. I wonder why that is? Maybe you make some stupid decisions like protesting @ the Rememberance Day Ceremony? I think this is why you don't get into City Hall, we already have enough boneheaded politicians running this country, we don't need another one. :(

  • Ferraro Foods speaks to Facebook furor over Sensible BC video   21 weeks 1 day ago
    Re: statement by Ferraro Foods (November 25, 2013)
    The statement that the canvasser was on the Ferraro property is absolutely false. No canvasser was ever collecting signatures in front of the opening to the store. If that was true, the RCMP would have told Sensible BC that they had to move. They didn't because the canvasser was on the public sidewalk and never "in front of the opening to the store." Sensible BC canvassers all know that to set up on private property requires permission. Danny Ferraro ordered Sensible BC to get off the public sidewalk which was away from the the entrance. He never asked Sensible BC to move off private property because canvassers were never on private property. In fact when he ordered canvassers to get off of the public sidewalk, he stated that he had the right to order people off the public sidewalk because he sweeps that sidewalk which gives him the right to decide who walks there. We maintained our right to canvas in the public sidewalk area. 
    He then continued to encourage people to ignore the canvassing for 3 hours, blocked them from accessing the Elections BC approved initiative petition and also phoned the RCMP twice even though Sensible BC was clearly in a public space. Thank you to the 87 registered voters who signed the petition. The response was very favourable and many people were thankful that Sensible BC was giving them the chance to decide whether or not to sign the initiative petition. 
    Canvassers just want to canvas. It just makes sense.
  • Teck Trail Operations pH Level Permit Exceedance Penalty Supports Habitat Conservation   21 weeks 1 day ago

    Here Teck says it was one to three hundred liters spliied while the Environment Canada news release says

    "On March 5, 2011, approximately 350,000 litres of highly caustic effluent, which is deleterious to fish, was discharged into the Columbia River through an effluent system at Teck Metals in Trail, BC."

    I don't believe the tiny number provided by Teck.

  • UPDATE: No new information a week after sketch released   21 weeks 3 days ago

    Looks like a woman.They'll never find her with that sketch.

  • Valhalla Wilderness Society Stops Pipeline Through Pristine Grizzly Country   21 weeks 4 days ago

    Whether you are on side with McCory's commitment to environmental and wilderness values or not (and I am), you have to admire his values driven commitment and tenacious work over the last few decades that will leave the world a better place for our great-grandchildren. There are few of us that have kind of drive, passion and willingness to stand on the front lines. Thank you Wayne!   And let's Keep Jumbo Wild.

  • Kettle River Q&A - How are the fish doing in our rivers?   21 weeks 6 days ago

    Excellent comments Brad. I just wish a certain gentleman that was featured in the Gazette had released the large fish that he took from the Kettle that was obvously good breeding stock.

  • Nelson joins rest of Canada at 'Defend Our Climate' rallies   21 weeks 6 days ago

    It would be nice if for once the wishes of the the people would be listened to but BIG MONEY generally wins out in the end!

  • Proposed changes to Agricultural Land Commission could affect local food security, farmland   21 weeks 6 days ago

    Sad to say our best interests are generally thrown aside by government and the corporations, think this will be any different???

  • My Remembrance Day quandary   22 weeks 1 day ago

    Thank you Keith for a thoughtful letter. I agree with all you say. It is true, there is not a real opportunity for a meaningful conversation about what I am doing there on November 11. There has been no constructive dialogue with people who are reacting against what I am doing. Not so far, anyway. Too much feeling, not reflection, on that day.

    I get why people are angry at me. I do seem to be confrontational, no matter what my good intentions.

    I would never go out with a protest placard at someone's individual personal funeral. Grief should be respected. I do respect it. Loss is pain.

    Nevertheless, I will continue. The one thing that would convince me I ought to stay away from Remembrance Day, or at least not attend with a poster for Peace, is this: when all politicians agree not to make speeches there, I too will not be there. People who fought and lived should have a day to gather and commemorate the ones they loved who did not survive the fighting.

    Clergy and veterans can make comment, but not argument. Not speak a justification for war. Only grief for loss on this Day would be welcome. In that perfect scenario, I have no objection.

    The moment someone thinks it is appropriate to say things about the Why of war, then they will offer opinion and interpretation of history. That is where the objections to the Day begin.

    Remembrance Day is misnamed. It is as much a Forgetting Day. We forget the history, the context, of the start of war. Leaders and rulers make the messes that end in war. The vast majority of people do not make the mess. But they die for the mess made by the ones who call themselves rulers and governors.

    And that is why I bring my messages to the cenotaph. 99% of people there say nothing to me. The 1% are the angry, and the sympathetic, who speak to me. The 99% might, just might, be moved to more thinking about war by my being there, but that is a great unknown.

    Again, Thanks for this Keith.

  • My Remembrance Day quandary   22 weeks 1 day ago

    The solution is simple send the the leaders of these war like countries to fight each other and all wars will cease. They are good at sending our loved ones out to die but would not have the guts to do it themselves!