Friday, October 26, 2007

Foreign Takeovers that Have Not Had Net Benefit for Canada

Ill write a bit more about it, but for now, here is an article in the Globe that causes me great concern.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Throne Speech 2

Here is my bet on what is going to happen. Throne speech will pass, probably with some form of amendments.

Crime bill will come almost immediately, it will be offensive and unworkable, and we'll be in an election right around Christmas.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Throne Speech

So the throne speech is just over, and here is my first ideas:

It was vague, but here is what I took away.

Mapping of the Arctic Ocean. Okay. I'm not sure why we'd do this except to flex our muscles against Russian incursions. But why not say we are going to put a military presence up north? I don't like these "subtle" signals, that are not really subtle.

Crime. They are going to bring back the crime bills that failed in the previous session. This is the issue they want to fight an election on. I'm all for tougher penalties, but it has to be merged with prevention measures, or we just end up with more crowded jails.

Environment. They are going to bring back the clean air act, but I couldn't tell if they were going to bring back the amended clean air act, or the unamended clean air act. If it is the amended version, I'm all for it.

Tax. This is stupid. Tax cuts for the rich, cut to GST, with an overheated economy and a dollar so high it is killing manufacturing. With these cuts they could have eliminated the lowest tax bracket. There is not a country in the G8 that is cutting consumption taxes. Blatant vote grab that is not in the long term interest of the country. I'm all for corporate tax rate cuts, it helps they economy in a number of ways.

Lowering Inter-Provincial barriers to trade. This I fully support. I hope they don't pooch up the implementation.

Limiting Federal Spending in areas of Provincial Jurisdiction. This sounds very much like the social union Liberal plan. This was woefully unpopular in Quebec, but I like it. I'm always amused when the Conservatives re-release Liberal programs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A very effective arugument

This is a similar argument to what I have been trying to say to people who don't believe drastic action on climate change is needed today. However this fellow articulates the argument better than i have been able to.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Somebody is listening

So Jim Prentice is going to announce new rules on foreign investment. I suppose I can live with the conservatives reading my blog if they implement what I recommend.

Its too bad they haven't been using the tools that are already in place, and have let Alcan, Inco, Falconbridge, Dofasco and Prime West to be bought by foreign state owned enterprises.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A little correction

While I am happy to hear about any expansion to transit, I have to provide a little correction.

Premier Campbell says “Today, the percentage of transit ridership in the Metro Vancouver region is about 12 per cent. The leading cities of the world, be they London, Paris or Hong Kong, see ridership in the 20 to 25 per cent range.”

Unfortunately we are much further behind with non-car transportation than the Premier believes.

New York 50-55 percent train, bus, metro, bike or foot.

London 55-60 percent train, bus, metro, bike or foot.

Tokyo 57 percent train and metro.

Paris train 65-70 percent, bus, metro, bike or foot.

Moscow 85 percent train, bus, metro, bike or foot.

Hong Kong 95 percent train, bus, metro, bike or foot.

So why do these cities have such high rates of ridership? Their systems work. It is very easy to get around these cities using the public transit system, and very slow and annoying using a car.

We have a long way to go, but a good first start would be using the interurban line to get rail service in the Valley.

Strange Happenings

The US is a very interesting political landscape. If you can't make something happen one way there are many other avenues to pursue.

The supreme court found that the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other green house gas emissions. The California Attorney General with the help of several environmental groups is now petitioning the EPA to regulate green house gas emissions from shipping vessels entering US ports. Here is a link to the New York Times article.

I suppose this is good news?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Planes, Trains, Cars, Boats, Horse Carriages and Walking

Anyone who has drives in the Fraser Valley knows that we need massive investments in transportation. Transit, roads, and highways are all inadequate for the volume of people and goods attempting to move through and in the Fraser Valley. We have under-invested in Transportation for several decades, and now the problems are coming home to roost. The Provincial Government is spearheading the Pacific Gateway project which is targeted at removing road bottle necks to goods transportation throughout BC. I am going to express some concerns I have with the direction transportation investment is going, but I am by and large in favour of Gateway. However I would like to see a more comprehensive plan that addresses public transportation, rail corridors and roads.

What I like about Gateway.

Mary Hill/Pitt River Bridge Interchange
I've never lived in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows or the Tri-cities area, but I have had to get through them on occasion. The whole area near Pitt River is a traffic gong show. The bridge is too small and the traffic lights are a complete bottle neck. They are also dealing with this area properly from a transit point of view. They have decent bus service, the Evergreen line is going ahead, and they have the West-Coast Express. Good use of multi-mode transportation options.

Fraser Perimeter Roads
This has been a long time in the works. The Fraser River is the natural corridor for transportation through the valley. The current roads up and down the Fraser are completely inadequate for the current volume of traffic, let alone the volume that is projected.

Economic impacts for Prince Rupert
Prince Rupert was wasting away. It is now set to become a second major port for BC. This will only be good news for the north of the Province.


Delta Port Expansion and Rail Traffic
A third berth is likely going to be added to the Roberts Bank terminal for container traffic. The trains that carry this traffic run on the old BC Electric/Southern Railway rail line which runs through the heart of Langley, Cloverdale and Delta. These trains cause havoc with traffic in Langley. The current plan calls for the addition of 9 more grade separations. There is an alternative. The existing CN line can be joined to the BNSF line and then to the CN Delta Port Spur, or a dedicted new line could be built parallel to the South Fraser Perimeter road. The first option would be much cheaper than the estimated 300 million for the new grade separations, and get the rail traffic out of the heavily inhabited areas. This would free up the Southern Railway line for passenger use.

Allows Increased Car Traffic Without Increased Transit Options
Adding bridges and roads generally does not provide a long term solution to congestion. Many major cities in the US that have much larger highway systems have realized that adding lanes just adds more cars. These cities (Boston, LA, Seattle) are now investing heavily in light rail in attempt to get people out of cars. Gateway adds lanes with out adding much for transit. If transit is not a significantly better alternative to the car, why will people get out of the car?

Does Not Help Traffic That Stays in The Valley
Much of the traffic these days south of the Fraser stays south of the Fraser. The gateway project does not address the inter community congestion problems of the Fraser Valley. This is not what the planners had in mind. They expected that traffic would be centered around getting in and out of Vancouver. That is no longer the case. People and goods are moving between suburbs.

Spending Heaps on Roads and Bridges, Not on Rail
A good transportation system uses all modes of transportation, using those modes in the most effective manner. Gateway is heavily focused on roads. Yes the lower mainland needs investment in roads for the movement of goods and people, however that investment needs to be in a balanced plan that takes account of multiple modes of transportation, the needs of communities, and the desires of the electorate.

So what are the alternatives?

The Valley Transportation Advisory Committee ( is working hard to promote a rail or light rail transit alternative through the Fraser Valley.

The Delta MP, John Cummins, who unfortunately is a member of the *gasp* conservative party, is making some very interesting proposals and comments on his website, and I encourage those interested to check it out. It's too bad he is having to fight to get himself heard within his own party.

What can people do? Get involved. Join a group that aligns with your interests, and if you can't find one start your own. You can go to Translink's public consultations and speak up. Write letters to your local papers (they do make a difference). Write to your council members, MLA, and MP. If they don't give you the response you like, find one of their competitors (citizens of Langley, I am always looking for volunteers!) and help get them elected.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Interesting Article

There is an article on the 1st page of the Globe and Mail business section today titled "Climate change top issue, CEOs declare". It seems even big business is now calling for tough action on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.