Sunday, October 13, 2019

Blog Watching: Week ending October 13, 2019



The final few weeks of the federal election campaign have taken the eight candidates to your doorstep, your mailbox and for six of them, to the stage of the Lester Centre on Wednesday evening for an electoral forum.

All of which has helped to make our notes on the federal election scene one of our five most read of items of the week.

To go along with our review of Wednesday's election forum in Prince Rupert which was our most read item of the week, readers also explored our notes on some mysterious political messaging along George Hills Way.

The remainder of the list of five took us to Monday's City Council Session and a fairly expansive review of the disastrous fishing season and the steps that UFAWU-Unifor's Joy Thorkelson is taking to try to get some attention from federal, provincial and municipal politicians.

Mayor Lee Brain took to his Facebook page this week to provide a short overview of his thoughts on the recent end of service for the Alaska Marine Highway and to outline how he believes the issue will move forward from this point.

The last of our five most read items explored MLA Jennifer Rice's observations for constituents on the theme of the ongoing contract talks between the province's teachers and the provincial government, with Ms. Rice echoing many of the NDP government's major talking points though the dispute.

However, the top item of the last seven days takes us once again to the Federal Election campaign, and our recap of Wednesday evening's Election Forum at the Lester Centre..

Candidates hold to talking points for most part in Prince Rupert election forum --   Residents of the North Coast had their only chance to hear the views of six of the eight candidates in the Federal election this week, as the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce hosted an election forum at the Lester Centre (posted  October 10 , 2019)

That article was followed by:

"Everyone is in the hole, everyone is desperate": UFAWU-Unifor's Thorkelson to City Council on fishery issues  -- Prince Rupert City Council's Monday Council session was for the most part turned over to former Councillor and current UFAWU-Unifor President Joy Thorkelson, who outlined the dire straits facing those who work in the industry on the North Coast.  For a look at the remainder of Monday's Council session see our archive page here.  (posted  October 9 , 2019)

Political message making on George Hills Way  -- An election campaign brings out a range of messages and political signs to make the case for candidates, however last week along the city's George Hills Way the political messaging took a very different turn   (posted October 7, 2019)

Mayor suggests other issues beyond local policing at heart of AMHS closure --  When the MV Malaspina sailed off out of the harbour on September 30th, the realization that it marked the end of a long standing link with Alaska began to sink in for the community. Following his two week's of travel to Alaska and then Vancouver, Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain provided a few thoughts on the AMHS issue through is social media page.  (posted October 8 , 2019)

An Apple for the teacher, as MLA Rice brings NDP talking points to Teachers' contract dispute -- North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice who was away from the Prince Rupert office at the time of a teacher's rally in September, outlined some of her themes on the contract negotiations through an Open letter by way of the local newspaper's letters to the editor page.  (posted  October 11, 2019)

You can find our weekly Blog watching feature posted every Sunday morning by 9AM, making for a handy way to catch up to the week that was, at a leisurely weekend pace.

You can also review the full listings of the week just past, from our Blog Archive index page found on the right hand side of the page.

For those looking for updates to items as they are posted to the blog, don't forget about our email alert access.

A daily review of the latest items on the blog can be delivered to your email in box, simply by entering your email address into the information bar, items posted to the blog will be delivered to your e-mail account each day.

You can find the link to that feature on the upper, right hand side of the blog. It can be found underneath the Follow the North Coast Review by Email indicator.

As well, those who use Twitter can get updates as we post new items from our twitter feed

Our archive of weekly Blog Watching can be found here.

To view the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

MLA's Week: October 7-10, 2019

MLA's returned to their offices at the Legislature this week, stepping into the Chamber to take their places at their desks and the start of the Fall Session,

A six week period that seems destined to be a bit stormy, with many unresolved issues of the spring and summer still to be fully resolved.

The ongoing investigations into Spending and practices of the Speakers' office dominated some of the preamble to the return to work, with some new focus now directed to the recent announcement that NDP cabinet Minister Jinny Sims would be stepping down as an RCMP investigation into her office gets underway.

Legislature re-opening steeped in many sub plots today

It was also a week where the Legislature learned that Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver would be stepping away from his duties and elected life in 2021.

BC Green's Andrew Weaver to step away from politics in 2021

The latest developments related to the negotiations between the Ministry of Education and the province's teachers is also an underlying theme of interest to watch for this fall.

And that topic made for some news in the North Coast constituency as MLA Jennifer Rice provided a response to a recent teachers' rally at her office by way of a letter to the editor of the local paper.

An apple for teacher, as MLA Rice brings NDP talking points to Teachers' Contract Dispute

The week in Victoria also provided a glimpse at how the two Northwest representatives in the Legislature have some very different views on the direction that they believe government should follow.

The latest example on those themes, came from the discussion related to the NDP government's proposal on the sharing of Gambling revenues, which found the both MLA Rice and MLA Ross  offering up some very differing themes to explore.

As for the first week of work in the House for the fall, the four days unfolded as follows:

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For the week just passed, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice had opportunity to make a statement on Fire Prevention Week, speak to the NDP government's Gambling Act changes and to make an introduction of guests in the gallery

On the week, Ms Rice was listed on three  occasions in the accounts of the sessions of the Legislature from October 7-10.

Monday afternoon, Ms. Rice delivered a statement recognizing the week as Fire Prevention Week, urging residents to make home preparation plans.

MLA Rice sends message of preparation as part of Legislature salute to Fire Prevention Week

Wednesday, saw the MLA express her strong support for the Government's planned changes to the Gambling Act, changes which will give First Nations Communities a 7 percent share in gambling revenues.

MLA Rice hails changes, challenges Skeena MLA"s comments on Gaming Act proposal that will benefit First Nations communities

Friday morning, she asked for a warm welcome from the Legislature for two former Prince Rupert residents, Mae Jong and Marty Bowles, the couple was in the Legislature gallery that morning.

The North Coast MLA is also a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, serving as the convener of that forum.

Transcripts of the work of the committee are available on the Legislature page for the Committee.

Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs


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For our readers from the Terrace-Kitimat region, Skeena MLA Ellis Ross was noted once in the Legislature Archive for the week of October 7-10.

That as the Skeena MLA delivered one major presentation in the Legislature, as he spoke to the proposed changes in the Gambling Act by the NDP government.

MLA Rice hails changes, challenges Skeena MLA"s comments on Gaming Act proposal that will benefit First Nations communities

Mr. Ross is also a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives.

He has also been appointed to the Standing Committee on Children and Youth

The Skeena MLA is also a member of the Special Committee for Review of the Police complaint process, you can follow their work here.

There is more background on both the North Coast and Skeena MLA's available from our MLA's Week Archive, as well as our constituency archives below:

North Coast constituency

Skeena and Stikine Constituencies

Just four days into the new session, the MLA's will now get a week off after their return, with the Thanksgiving Weekend and the four days to follow serving as their first of two - one week breaks this fall.

The full schedule for the Legislature for 2019 can be viewed here.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

A larger overview of provincial issues can be found on our political portal D'Arcy McGee

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

4.4 magnitude temblor recorded near Sitka on Saturday morning

A 4.4 magnitude earthquake was recorded near Sitka Alaska this morning

A moderate sized earthquake was recorded off the Alaska panhandle this morning,  with the 4.4 magnitude temblor rumbling along the region at just before 8AM Alaska time, 9 AM in Prince Rupert.

A smaller 2.9 magnitude aftershock quake was recorded about forty five minutes later.

Located in the upper panhandle to the northwest of Sitka, the centre of the quake was 610 kilometres Northwest of Prince Rupert and the quake had  a depth of 9.5 kilometres.

It's the latest of a number of similar sized and smaller quakes that have dotted that area of the panhandle in recent weeks, no reports of damage were reported and No Tsunami Warning was generated by the event.

You can find more notes on seismic events along our portion of the Alaska and British Columbia coast from our archive page.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

Nisga'a Nation launches Dispute Resolution Process against Federal and Provincial governments

The Nisga'a Lisims Government is moving towards making use of a Dispute Resolution process in the Nisga'a Treaty to address what it calls persistent breaches of the Nisga'a Final Agreement, putting the Federal and Provincial governments on Notice on Friday afternoon.

In an Information release for Nisga'a Citizens, the Nisga'a government outlined how many of the breaches of the Treaty relate to federal and provincial governments ignoring Nisg̱a’a Treaty rights; while giving priority to unproven and undefined rights asserted by the Nisg̱a’a Nation’s neighbours.

They did not specify in their notice what those government initiatives were, or who the neighbouring communities were; but they did note in their information release as to how they view the government's plans as repeated breaches of the Nisga'a Treaty

The current federal and provincial governments have each purported to implement policies of recognizing assertions of Aboriginal rights, without a requirement for the asserted rights to be plausible, much less proven or defined by the relevant Indigenous groups. 

These federal and provincial approaches, while superficially attractive, have not taken into account the fact that many Indigenous groups assert rights in areas where modern treaty parties, such as the Nisg̱a’a Nation, already have established treaty rights and interests, and the implementation of these policies by Canada and British Columbia in recent years has resulted in repeated breaches of the Nisg̱a’a Treaty.

Nisga'a Lisims Government President Eva Clayton observed as part of the the Nisga'a notice of Friday that the issue was not a dispute with their neighbours, but rather one that is focused on the federal and provincial governments.

“It is unfortunate that Nisg̱a’a Lisims Government was forced to take this step against the federal and provincial governments. This dispute is not with our neighbours, it is with our treaty partners. We have an obligation to our citizens to ensure their treaty rights are respected and protected, and that is what we will accomplish through these proceedings.”

The Dispute Resolution Process from the Nisga'a Treaty calls for collaborative negotiations as a first stage, should that fail, the next step would be to go to a facilitated process.

You can review how the process works from documentation on the Nisga'a Lisims Government website starting on Page 87 of the Understanding the Treaty background information.

The Full Notice from Friday as released the Nisga'a Lisims Government can be explored here.

While they did not specify what the issues were that led to their use of the Dispute resolution on Friday; in previous month the Nisga'a government has expressed its concern over how the Federal and Provincial governments had been addressing the topic of the Nasoga Gulf Dispute.

That issue, related to the proposed purchase of Crown Land along Portland Inlet became a flash point over the summer and found the Nisga'a making note of political motives when it came to the dispute with the neighbouring Lax Kw'alaams Band and Metlakatla Nation.

With the first stage of the Dispute resolution set to go into motion, more background on the focus of the Nisga'a concerns with the breach of the Nisga'a Treaty  will be outlined as that process moves forward.

For more items of interest related to the Nisga'a Lisims Government and the Nass Valley see our archive page here.



To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

11th Avenue reopens to east-west traffic; limited boil water Notice in effect for some residents

Water main work has been completed, but with road surface repairs still
required reduced speed signs are in place along 11th Avenue East

The City of Prince Rupert has reopened both travel lanes along 11th Avenue East to traffic this weekend with the majority of the water main repairs complete.

However as they still  have some finishing work to do on the surface of the street at some point in the future, the signage and barriers that have become a familiar sight over the last week or so will remain in place over the weekend, with reduced speed limits in effect.

With the water work now complete, water service has also been restored to those homes which had been impacted by the work,  however some of the residents in that area will remain on a Boil Water Notice until water testing is completed and Northern Health allows for the Notice to be lifted.

Those that are affected by that Boil Water Notice have been advised by way of a notice from the City of Prince Rupert.

The full notice which cam reviewed below, was posted to the City website and delivered through its various social media and communication portals.



For more items of note related to the city's infrastructure issues see our archive page here.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Brevity for City Council sessions, leaves much left unsaid in public forum



Despite being away from the City Hall Council chamber for over a month and with a fair bit of travel for the Mayor and Council in that period of time; the elected members of municipal government seemingly could not come up with much to talk about at their first public session since early September on Monday night.

If it had not been for the late addition of a presentation from UFAWU-Unifor's Joy Thorkelson on Monday, the four of seven council members who attended their first meeting of October would have been out the door in less than fifteen minutes.

The Monday night review of civic governance provided for a thirty seven minute symposium on the struggles of the fishing sector this year and a call for some civic help to get the word out of the need for assistance.

That presentation then followed by a quick march through an Agenda which took but fourteen minutes to wrap up.

The focus for the night a pair of property variance requests, the August Financial variance report from the City's CFO, some forward momentum for the Permissive Property Tax Exemption bylaw, approval for a letter to CN on issues related to VIA Rail service to the city and the approval of the approval of communication policy for the City.

None of which elicited much in the way of comment from the Council members on the night.

When it came to the Council comments portion of the evening, only Councillor Nick Adey found a few things to share on the evening.

With Mr. Adey recounting some of his observations on the recent UBCM meeting in Vancouver and to make some inquiries of Communication Manager Veronika Stewart on the theme of lead in the pipes of local homes and how residents may gain some assurance for their home water.

That topic did generate some commentary from the Mayor, who spoke to the city's future plans for a water treatment system for the city and to reassure residents that the city wasn't delivering that lead to their residences.

And while the topic of water was up for discussion, none of the Council members made note of the actual Boil Water Notice that remained effect for the Section Two area as they hosted their meeting on Monday.

Something which seems like a lost opportunity to reassure those residents that they were working on the issue.

That's not the only area where they skipped over a chance to provide some updates for the public as part of their regular Council program.

While they were away from the chamber in September there were a number of potential discussion themes that popped up on the civic  radar and surely could have required some official commentary.

Starting with the Mayor's journey to Alaska for the Southeast Conference talks and his efforts towards keeping Prince Rupert as a destination for the Alaska Marine Highway System.

As we have all seen since those meetings, the service came to an end for the foreseeable future last month, the last sailing coming on September 30th with the departiure of the MV Malaspina,

And while Mr. Brain did offer some short updates through his social media platform of Facebook, there was no more detailed update for the public at Monday's City Council session.

The Mayor and Council letting slip by a chance to review the plan, or plans that he shared with the Alaskans, or for Council members to ask questions or make observations.

While the Mayor was away during that same period of time, there was a short lived tent city protest that was in place at City Hall.

The immediate issues that led to the protest seemingly taken care of, but still the larger issue of the need for more housing for the homeless one that remains unaddressed so far.

Council members made no mention of that issue on Monday, and the closed door approach that seems to be the focus of the city's plans, pales in comparison to the wide ranging public forum hosted by the City of Terrace last month.

Of the two approaches to the issue, Prince Rupert's seems inclined not to want to take the pulse of the community as to what solutions could be available, or what concerns the public may have.

The start of the month saw the RCMP and Bylaw officers taking the brunt of some public commentary related to the shooting of a dog in the Seal Cove area.

One month later, the council members have yet to offer any comment related to that incident, not even a reminder for pet owners to ensure that their dogs remain safely secured in their homes or yards, so other similar scenarios don't have to be addressed.

Students in the City twice took to the steps of City Hall in recent weeks to raise awareness on climate issues, an event retweeted on the Mayor's Social platform, but the campaign one that was not mentioned in the public council session of Monday, that despite the city's dedication towards Sustainability.

The week long convention of UBCM should have offered opportunity for the Council members to explain what it is they do during the UBCM event, but other than the notes offered up by Councillor Adey, there was little to learn of their week long trip to Vancouver.

While the Mayor makes good use of his Social media forum and can enjoy some praise from a loyal group of very dedicated followers, the remainder of the Council membership for the most part only have the public Council forum to make their voices heard.

And far too often it seems they have few contributions to make and appear content to just provide for the backdrop for the Council photograph.




The Council year so far has been one where the public meetings rarely last more than an hour and more often than not, last much less, with little in the way of background or detail on the themes they do  address delivered by the members.

The bulk of their work of late seems directed more towards the closed meetings and workshops where we imagine that the elected members do engage in vigorous discussion and where overview takes place, though we can hardly know for sure.

The messages that come out of those non public sessions are then crafted for Social media, which seems to be the new filtered conduit if anyone wants to get updates, though mostly that becomes the Mayor's pulpit not that of the remainder of Council.

The focus for achieving goals of transparency, accountability and the delivery of civic measures shouldn't come from the controlled themes of a Facebook page, twitter shout out, or some other social media platform.

But rather, we elect the Council members to do their work through a public forum, one where we have sent them to discuss and debate the important issues for the community.

On Monday, the city rolled out a new Communication Policy one that made a nod towards this increased use of Social media and how the city's new approach to informing the public should be delivered.

There was some irony in that review from Monday, and all that focus on the new communication tools that they now have  available for their message making.

Framed as it was from the public forum, which should be where the Council members should have the most to share with the public;  but of late has become the one place where they more often that not have the least to say and frequently seem to be in a bit of rush to get out of.

For a look at Monday's fourteen minute review see our Council Timeline feature.

A wider look at some past Council Discussion themes, both from the council chamber and increasingly from other locales  can be explored through our Council Discussion archive.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.



Taking Stock: Prince Rupert Business Tracker September 2019

The transition from the summer tourist season into fall made for a number of items for our review of the commercial sector for September.

It was a month that brought some unwanted news on the fate of Ferry Service between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan as the Alaska Marine Highway System removed Prince Rupert from the destination board.

It will be a decision that has an impact not only on travellers, but on the city's range of hotels, restaurants and stores as that pool of travellers no longer pass through the city.

The ongoing struggles for the commercial sector were found on the east side of the city, as the Seal Cove Pub closed its doors, just two years after bringing the Seal Cove location back to life after a lengthy closure from earlier this century.

Shutter Shack was the focus for some recognition by Northern Savings this month, as the city's home for photography was selected as part of the Business of the Month program.

The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce moved into its fall season with a return of its popular Rising Stars program, which will carry through the year providing mentorship for its participants.

Those themes and many others, can be be found as part of our review of the Commercial and economic scene in the region for the last month below:

September

Prince Rupert's tourism and commercial sector will bear the brunt of a decision by the Alaska Marine Highway System, which announced that the Ferry service would no longer call on the Port of Prince Rupert as of September 30th, that after issues of security at the Prince Rupert terminal could not be resolved with the City.

Hopes of keeping an east side Pub open came to an end in September, as the owners of the Seal Cove Neighbourhood Pub announced the closure of the east side gathering spot in late September.

There was a temporary re-opening for some retail space in the city in September, though it's a short lived tenancy for Elections Canada, which has taken up residence in the old Farwest Sports location on First Avenue West.

September also brought the signs that the tourism season was coming to an end, with the annual shut down for the North Pacific Cannery Historical Site and the last of the cruise ship port calls for the year.

On a disappointing theme for the tourism sector on the year, the number of visits to the Cow Bay Marina this year from out of town boaters was down significantly from expectations.

Increased speed is the message from CityWest from September, as the communication company owned by the City of Prince Rupert introduced a new service for customers.

Local businesses stepped up to lend a hand with the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, sponsoring the efforts of the volunteers in mid September.

The new look proposal for the Rupert Lawn and Garden Centre in Seal Cove got the seal of approval from Prince Rupert Council in September, with approval of their building permit application.

The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce started the fall season hailing the return of their popular Rising Stars mentorship program.

Northern Savings Credit Union once again hosted the annual Terry Fox Run, which saw a large number of Prince Rupert and area residents take to the streets to support the cause of Cancer research.

The financial services organization also took time this month to salute a local business, with Shutter Shack the focus for their Business of the month program.

Prince Rupert's Wheelhouse took the Kegs on a road trip in September as the makers of the elixir of choice for the North Coast took part in the Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria.

CityWest's annual call for submissions for the next phone book for the city brought another strong showing, with Captain Doug Davis from Prince Rupert Adventure Tours submitting the photo that made the final cut for the cover for the 2020 edition.


You can keep up to date on the ebb and flow of the Prince Rupert commercial scene through our Taking Stock Archive for 2019

More notes on the commercial sector across the Northwest in 2019 can also be found from our from our archive page here

We imagine we probably have missed a few here or there, so if you know of a business having opened, or seen the Going out of business sign appear somewhere in the area, drop us a line at our email account of northcoastreviewpr@yahoo.ca

Or send us a short message through our twitter feed of @CharlesHays



To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

Cow Bay Marina revenues slowed in August, leaving facility off anticipated pace for 2019

The Cow Bay marina saw fewer visitors this year than had been anticipated
prior to the start of the season

There would be no surge in arrivals for the City's Cow Bay Marina in August, with the facility realizing just under 50,000 dollars in revenues for the  month, a dip in the financial returns from the month before which had seen 80,000 dollars in revenue brought in.

As has been charted by the city through its Financial variance reports each month, the 2019 season has been a bit of a disappointment for the City, with the actual revenue streams still a fair ways off from the projections at the start of the year.

The August figures which were part of a report provided to City Council members on Monday night, show that as of the end of that month, the Cow Bay facility had brought in $208,111, which leaves but four more reporting periods for the city to realize its forecast of $291,000 in revenue for the year.

The City's expenses for the year so far at the Cow Bay Marina are listed at $160,544 which leaves $52,456 still available from the $213,000 budget.


The verbal report on the August Variances from the City's Financial Officer provided a short overview  of the Operating and Utilities Budget and Capital purchases and works, but made no mention of the Cow Bay notes.

Council members had no questions for the CFO following her review.

Back in June, Ms. Bomben had noted that the trend at that time for the tourism season was for lower revenues, with multiple marinas along the coast reporting to the city of a slower season to that point. 

More notes on the Cow Bay results from this year can be found here.

You can explore more on the Monday council session from our Council Timeline Feature here, while a wider overview of Council Discussion themes can be explored from our archive page here.


To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

An apple for the teacher, as MLA Rice brings NDP talking points to Teachers' Contract Dispute


North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice has offered some thoughts on the late September information rally outside of her constituency office, where a small gathering of local teachers and their supporters had taken their contract concerns to their MLA's front door.

During the rally teachers made note of a number of areas where they are looking for some progress on from the NDP government.

With the teacher's relaying a list that addressed teacher shortages, additional resources and supplies for students, as well as support for the retention and recruitment of teachers.

They also highlighted the low level of funding for classrooms provided by the province, as well as to note that BC teachers are the lowest salaried educators in the country.

With the MLA away on Haida Gwaii during the September 30th rally, the teachers' message was heard mostly by those waiting for the bus at the Ocean Centre, or members of the public who happened to pass by on the street or sidewalk during the event outside of the MLA's office.

Ms. Rice did however appear to get some Coles' Notes on the their concerns from that day, providing for her reply through the weekly paper.

The address for the most part one that reminded constituents of the investment that the NDP government has provided for the province's education system since taking office.

With Ms. Rice providing for a check list of sorts, making note of new resources for classrooms supplemental needs funding and a capital investment project to replace aging schools and to fast track seismic upgrades.

The correspondence also returned to a frequent reminder for readers from the MLA as to how the NDP has invested more in education, than that of the previous Liberal government of Christy Clark

On labour issues, the MLA steers clear on the status of the current teachers contract discussions for the most part, noting only that the British Columbia Public Schools Employers Association has applied for mediation as part of the dispute.



She does note that on labour issues nearly 70% of the public sector workers in the province have been able to get what she describes as a fair deal in their contract negotiations.

As well Ms. Rice observes as to how nurses, paramedics and K-12 support staff in the schools have all found success in their negotiations, adding that she believes that the teachers can also find that same success.





To make sure that her constituents had an opportunity to read her thoughts on the state of education in British Columbia today, the North Coast MLA has provided a link to her letter by way of her Facebook page.

For the most part, the current round of negotiations has moved through the fall with a fairly successful news blackout in place, with few comments heard from either the BCSPEA or the BCTF

However, Teachers across the province and some with SD52 in Prince Rupert have been taking to social media when they aren't hosting information lines at MLA's office.

The commentary one which relays their concerns over the pace of negotiations and commitment of the provincial government on a range of issues that remain unresolved.

A quick scan of the #bctf or #bced twitter feeds will provide for some familiar names from Prince Rupert classrooms engaged in the debate and weighing in on the discussion through the social media platforms.



The current of those conversations for the most part has the teachers and their supporters expressing some strong disillusionment with the NDP government. With many expressing some frustration for a party that once perhaps benefited significantly from their efforts and their votes.

There has not been much to add to our archive of notes on the negotiations since we last updated it in September, you can review some of the issues of note in that make for the talks from the archive here.

For more items of interest related to education on the North Coast see our Education archive here.


To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

Liam McChesney part of Aggie Madness Showcase in fan event at Utah State



Former Charles Hays Rainmaker Liam McChesney had one of his first glimpses of the passion of Utah State basketball fans on Thursday evening, taking to the court in the pre-season event known as Aggie Madness.

The evening served to introduce both the Men's and Women's basketball program to the Utah State faithful, with a range of skills competitions featured on the night to get Aggie's fans pumped up for the coming NCAA season.

It was a full house at Utah State's Wayne Estes Centre as the Aggies
put on their annual skills showcase with Prince Rupert's Liam McChesney
in the thick of the slam dunk competition

The night of skills took place in front of a packed arena and featured a short eight minute scrimmage to go along with a three point shooting contest and the wildly popular slam-dunk competition.

For McChesney success came in that slam-dunk competition where he took on four other Aggie's in the event before giving way to the eventual competition champion Australian Sean Baristow.

The night's grand finale was a dunk contest between Bean, Bairstow, junior center Kuba Karwowski and freshman forward Liam McChesney, with Bairstow and Karwowski heading into the finals. The winner was decided by the crowd after Bairstow and Karwowski earned the same scores from the judges in the first two rounds of the finale, with Bairstow earning the crown.

A full account of the Showcase can be found from Utah State's Athletic Department here.

The Prince Rupert baller is about to enter his first season of top tier American college basketball, with the Aggies hitting the court for workouts through the month, with the work ahead leading up to their pre season debut with The College of Idaho on October 30th.

You can chart the course of his season and that of other Prince Rupert athletes in college sports through our archive page here

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

Advance polls for Federal election open today, continue through Thanksgiving weekend

Prince Rupert's Election Central has taken over office space
at the old Farwest Sports Building on First Avenue West

Those who  may not be available for the October 21st General vote, or may wish to get their participation in the democratic process out of the way a bit early can take advantage of some advance polling opportunities over this Thanskgiving weekend.

The old Farwest Sports Building on First Avenue West across from the Museum of Northern BC is the destination for voters with the advance polling set to take place from today through Monday from 9 AM to 9PM each day.

General Election Day of October 21st will see the voting booths set up at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre complex on McBride Street.

Voter information cards were delivered to the
home addresses of  registered voters last month


Bring your voter information card which should have arrived at your home address by now with you to the polling station, along with Identification.

You can learn more about the electoral process and other voting opportunities prior to the General Election day from the Elections Canada website.

In addition to the household mailers and door knocking by the candidates and those who are working their campaigns, voters have had  a few chances to take in the talking points of those seeking office to hold the Skeena-Bulkley Valley seat in the House of Commons.

As we outlined yesterday, Prince Rupert's voters had an opportunity to hear the campaign themes at the Lester Centre forum on Wednesday evening.  

A similar event took place in Kitimat last night, with two more on the way next week in Smithers and Terrace.

You can follow the candidate along the campaign trail from the CityWest Community Television Facebook page which has the forums archived for residents to review.

We have also been keeping tabs on what the candidates have been up to through the last month, our notes on the 2019 local campaign which can be explored here.

We also have a look at he wider scope of the national campaign available on our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

MLA Rice hails changes, challenges Skeena MLA's comments on Gaming Act proposal that will benefit First Nations communities

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice speaking out in favour of a new
Government proposal to share gaming revenue with First Nations in the province

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice hailed some recently proposed changes to the sharing of Gambling revenues with First Nations on Wednesday, speaking to the initiative known as the the Gaming Control Amendment Act in the Legislature in the waning moments of the Wednesday session.

As she outlined for the chamber, the money that will be transferred to First Nations is to be used in six areas that support governance in the communities that will receive the funds, framing the plan as part of the government's commitment to reconciliation.

Those areas include  such elements as health and wellness; infrastructure, safety, transportation and housing; economic and business development; education, language, culture and training; community development and environmental protection; and capacity building, fiscal management and governance.

The move by the Province which was announced on Tuesday by will see the government direct 7% of BC Lottery Corporation net income to the communities for the next 23 years.

In anticipation of the program, the government has already shared over 194 million dollars with First Nations through an interim agreement covering the first two years of the 25 year commitment.

She noted that the move will not impact on what local municipalities may receive from those gaming centres that they host, nor will it affect what community groups may receive.




In her comments to the Legislature, Ms. Rice also challenged some of the comments from Skeena MLA Ellis Ross who earlier in the session had questioned how the bill had been crafted and the process that brought it to the Legislature

In terms of this, it's not the first time a revenue-sharing agreement has been brought to the First Nations of B.C. from the provincial government. But there was a comment made earlier that said that this is in partnership with 203 bands. I find this remarkable. This is an incredible achievement when you are talking about 203 bands in B.C., and my only question around that is: how did you achieve this? How did you consult with 203 bands?

To me, this is not a done deal. We have the announcements, but it's not a final agreement yet. It won't be final in terms of complete participation until we get 203 bands signed on to the limited partnership. That's when we'll see success, because that's what the government announced. But it all goes back to determining success. 

If there are some bands that do not want to join a limited partnership or do not want to join an application-driven process, then you can't claim success in terms of a revenue-sharing agreement for those ineligible First Nations. In terms of that, the First Nations that are ineligible will be for two reasons. One is because they don't agree with the structure or the format, and the other one is going to be for lack of capacity.

In reply Ms. Rice offered up a few themes for review for both Mr. Ross and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad, who had also spoken to the topic.

Now, the member for Skeena spent quite a bit of time talking about how offended he was at the term "closing the economic gap." I just wanted to point out that these were words that Indigenous people had used themselves to actually describe their current situation. These aren't our words. These aren't the provincial government's words.

Here we are a colonial government, we're making a decision in this Legislature on how we share gaming revenue, which is essentially money earned from the land that we stole from Indigenous people. The fact that we actually have to have this debate is really, really troubling for me. Really troubling for me. It should be a bill that is easy to pass, because it's actually a really, really small step in the face of reconciliation.

First Nations have been advocating for shared gaming revenues for years, and in my opinion, that should be enough to guide the actions of this House. Settlers who created our own colonial systems are not the thought leaders on the way forward to reconciliation. So the member from Nechako Lakes offering that we are paying off our friends or that we're somehow creating dependency — I think that is what's really offensive. 

You know, settlers created this system, and reconciliation is about standing with First Nations. It's about standing beside them, taking actions that enable First Nations to reclaim their own agency. That's what matters. And if First Nations have been talking and telling the government the same thing consistently for years, it's a pretty good bet that this is a step in the right direction. And We should all be voting in favour of this bill.

The themes of those discussions can be reviewed from the Hansard review of Wednesday's Legislature session starting at the 3:10 PM mark

The full video of the debate from all participants can be reviewed from the Legislature video.

Ms. Rices' full commentary to the Legislature from Wednesday is available below.



If approved in the Legislature it is expected to deliver roughly 100 million per year to eligible First Nations.

It's anticipated that the program would see roughly 3 billion dollars shared with those communities by 2045

More on the proposed government program can be explored here.

For more  items related to the work at the Legislature see our archive page here.


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City's new Communication policy brings City Hall into the Social Media age

After being sent back to the shop for a few tweaks over the last few months, the City of Prince Rupert rolled out their new Communication policy on Monday, with the Council members that were on hand for the evening providing their endorsement for the new framework that will replace the old policy of 2003.

As the City's Communication Manager Veronika Stewart pointed out to Council at Monday's session, there have been a few changes in how message making and communication takes place from sixteen years ago.

"The previous policy was from 2003 so it didn't really reference the kinds of Internet communications that we now use pretty frequently and we also didn't have communication staff on hand. So there are a lot more commitments on the city's part to communicate with the community and the policy outlines."  -- Communication Manager Veronika Stewart

As Ms. Stewart observed, the first of the changes that came about included her actual position, which did not exist back at the turn of the century and was only added to the civic roster in  2015.

The quest for the voice of City Hall began shortly after Mayor Lee Brain had been elected in November of 2014, with the Mayor making note of his hope to create a Communications department

With her arrival the city has embraced a range of communication options for deliver of information, from the traditional website, to a social media platform on twitter and Facebook.

As well, the City introduced a mobile app program last year, as well as their consultation project launched earlier this year known as Rupert Talks.


The path towards delivering on the new policy has been a somewhat winding road first started in May of 2017, when Councillor Blair Mirau raised the issue of more transparency on closed council issues, with Mr. Mirau and Councillor Cunningham both looking for council to develop some form of a policy on communicating more effectively.

November 2017 -- City puts Communication Policy plans on hold to allow for further study
October 2017 -- City staff to seek approval of new communication policy at Monday session

In her comments to Council she outlined the work that went into the program, noting how Council members had provided input through the period of workshops and review towards it.

Ms. Stewart's presentation to Council can be reviewed below starting at the  41 minute mark.




The new Communications policy document includes sections related to Media Relations, Social Media Policy and Council Communications, City Branding, Employment Postings and Crisis and Emergency Communications.

You can review the full Communication Policy and Procedures release from the City Council Agenda from Monday evening starting on page 39.

As part of Monday's Council session, members voted to repeal the 2003 version and accept the new one in its place.

For more items of note from Monday's City Council session see our Council Timeline feature, a wider overview of Council Discussion themes can be explored from our Council Discussion archive page.

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Regional District to support letter calling for a study on climate change related fishery concerns in the area



Providing he still has a job on October 21st, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Johnathan Wilkinson will have some reading to catch up on, with North Coast Regional District the latest government body to send off a correspondence to the Liberal cabinet minister.

At their September Board meeting, Regional District officials noted that they had resolved to support signing a letter to the Minister, requesting that the Federal Department conduct a study to identify scientific causes for the fishing related concerns in the area and to identify the underlying causes for the identified impacts.

The move towards the letter campaign came following a request from UFAWU-Unifor leader Joy Thorkelson who had forwarded a letter to the Board, seeking their support in their engagement wth the Federal government towards disaster Assistance for Commercial Salmon Fishermen.



In other notes from the September meeting, the Board also provided for the formal decision to bring an end to the Transfer Station recycling options for the Kaien Road Recycling Centre in Prince Rupert.

Other topics taken on at the September meeting included appointments of members to the Haida Gwaii Recreation Commission and Regional Recycling Advisory Committee, as well as the adoption of the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan


More on the September Board meeting can be explored here.

More items of interest on Regional District work can be found from our archive page.


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Candidates hold to talking points for most part in Prince Rupert election forum



Over the many years of its existence, the Lester Centre has hosted events that have ranged from the dramatic to the comedic, with a little music thrown in from time to time to keep the beat.

Last evening offered two of those three elements over the course of two hours, though if a musical number was to be included on the night, the Beatle's Long and Winding road probably would have best fit the evening's narrative.

Six of the eight candidates in the Federal election campaign were on the stage at the Lester Centre on Wednesday evening taking to a format that was long on a stream of questions, but a little light on expansive answers to some of the key inquiries of the night.

And while all six of the political parties of note were represented, there was no explanation provided as to why the two Independent candidates were not participating in the evening's events

While it's understandable that debate organizers wanted to try to learn as much from the candidates as possible in the short period of time that the were assembled in the same place; the Wednesday debate would have benefited from either a pared down list of questions, or an extra hour of debate time.

And we suspect most in the audience at the Lester Centre, or those at home viewing on CityWest community TV would have opted for the shorter list of questions and an opportunity for more back and forth among the candidates.

As the debate program rolled on, the approach of assigning questions to one candidate for the most part allowed for set answers,  position statements that could just as easily have be culled from the many pamphlets that have been arriving in mailboxes over the last few weeks.

Even with such a set format, some candidates appeared better prepared than others, not surprisingly the two front runners at this point of the campaign had the most consistent responses on the evening.

Though the NDP's Taylor Bachrach and Conservative Claire Rattée did manage to expand from their party platforms from time to time and seemed the most confident in their messages.

The others were pretty tried and true to the script that they have taken to since the campaign began, the single focus for the Green's Mike Sawyer is climate change, while Rod Taylor of the CHP  a perennial candidate at every election cycle, quoted from the CHP Platform with a heavy nod to family first issues.

Dave Birdi echoed the Liberal mantra of progressing forward and didn't stray too far from it, for Jody Craven of the People's Party the populist message of the national party seemed like a comfortable fit as he delivered his thoughts to the crowd.  At times however, Mr. Craven went even beyond what we've come to see from that party on the national scene.

Following a welcome from Elder Stan Dennis to the territory of the Tsimshian, Chamber president Michelle Boomers-McNeil provided for the short lesson on civics for the audience.

She then turned the evening over to moderator Carolina de Ryk the veteran local broadcaster who would steer the forum through it's two hour journey.

The opening remarks framed some of the core elements of each campaign:

Taylor Bachrach -- Pride in past work of NDP on oil tanker moratorium, salmon farm ban
Dave Birdi -- Business development, health care initiatives, housing and homeless notes
Jody Craven -- Health Care, Seniors issues, Remove the Carbon Tax
Claire Rattée -- Overturn pipeline ban, overturn tanker moratorium, remove carbon tax
Mike Sawyer -- Opposition to LNG development, Climate Crisis is real and must be addressed
Rod Taylor -- Life, Family, Freedom, Responsible resource development, Seniors and Veterans issues

There were far too many questions on the night to try and recap all of them and for the most part the answers were all what one might expect from each candidate's political messaging so far.

But there were some flash points that did take the candidates off script a bit and provided for some drama that broke from the more structured nature of the forum.

An early question on whether the candidates would support LNG in Prince Rupert first directed to Taylor Bachrach, brought two interrogation challenges.

For his part Mr. Bachrach channeled much of the Social Licence vein delivered by Nathan Cullen of years past, noting that all LNG proposals would have to meet a three part test including Indigenous consent, fit into climate guidelines and deliver benefits to communities.

That brought out the challenges, with Jody Craven noting that at the federal level the NDP leader had stated there should be no more Gas or Oil development, in response the NDP candidate made note of some of his concerns over the routing of the gas pipeline to Kitimat.

For her challenge, Ms. Rattée asked Bachrach how you would reconcile the NDP's opposition to pipelines and No Fracking to his three point proposal.

He observed how the NDP policy is one of a plan of transition away from oil and gas development.

Related to the theme, but framed in a separate question on how to  transition away from fossil fuels, Ms. Rattée observed that she is a supporter of the development of LNG which she outlined was a cleaner source of energy than coal or other sources.

For the CHP's Taylor the presence of fossil fuels is a gift from God and has fuelled the Canadian economy, he also weighed into the climate debate by suggesting that CO2 concerns are unproven.

The climate debate heated up somewhat  in a discussion over who supported the Liberal party's Trans Mountain pipeline purchase.

Jody Craven created perhaps one of the two most controversial moments of the night, first noting how Canadians need to get their resources to global markets, though making a point to note that he doesn't support anything that Justin Trudeau does.

He then outlined his disdain for what he referred to as the paid protesters of the environmental movement, suggesting that American environmental groups such as the Tides Foundation and others were funnelling money into Canada.

That brought a fairly immediate reaction from the Green Party's Mike Sawyer, who noted for Mr. Craven that he is one of those protesters and then wondered aloud where his money was.

Sawyer called the People's Party candidate's claim a myth created by the Oil and Gas Lobby, comparing them to the sunset industries of the past.

Now to be fair to Mr. Craven, he was attending the debate after having had some wrist surgery earlier in the day, so perhaps he wasn't quite expressing himself as best he could.

However he did ratchet up the rhetoric on the issue by suggesting that those who are funded by such agencies as the Tides Foundation or the Sierra club, should be arrested as traitors to Canada.

A statement that left  much of the crowd at the Lester Centre somewhat stunned, though it did elicit some of the few outbursts from the audience on the evening.

As though to pour some fuel to the fire, Mr. Craven then proclaimed how his party was here for Canadians and how he believed that there is no Climate emergency.

For his part Craven's commentary provided an opening for Sawyer to position himself strongly on the environmental message, noting that you can't be a traitor when you are following principles of Canadian due process and rights in law to speak out on issues.

Curiously, NDP candidate Taylor Bachrach, who has strong opinions on the topic of the environment, did not use his own interjection card at this point.

He would however regain some of the environmental momentum later in the debate when he addressed a question on the recent Climate Strike and the participation of youth in the event

With Mr. Bachrach praising the work of Greta Thunberg as an example to follow and how Canadians should follow and respect the science on climate issues. He would also challenge the Conservative views on climate policy and the approaches they plan to take.

Ms. Rattée the Conservative candidate had pointed towards actionable party policies such as the Green Homes Tax Credit to retrofit homes with energy efficiency elements, attract investment for development of more Green technology in Canada

For the most part however, it was the Green candidate how made the most noise on the climate change issue, something that may serve to drive those who are passionate on the topic over to the Mr. Sawyer's spot on the ballot on election day.




The other controversial moment was focused on what had been the Top Question as provided by the audience, that on the theme of the candidate's positions on Women's Rights, framed as part of a statement focusing on some public comments from the Liberal candidate who was described as Pro Life.

The introduction to the question, which was directed to all candidates, made for a rare mis-step for Ms. de Ryk, who interrupted the flow of the forum to observe that she believed that the question was possibly wrong and should be addressed towards the Conservative candidate.

"Given the recent revelation that the Liberal party candidate is Pro Life, contrary to the Liberal party policy; I think it should say something different, I think this is the Conservative Party candidate is Pro Life ... is that not correct" 

That resulted in a short pause of confusion for a moment, with Ms. de Ryk advised by forum organizers that the question as it appeared on the screen stating the Liberal party candidates' position was the correct citation of the question offered by the public.

With the clarification in place, the majority of the candidates then waded into the theme some somewhat more tentatively than others.

Liberal Dave Birdi led off with the replies, noting how he fully supported a women's right and that necessary services are required so that the situation does not come in, noting how it not only affects the woman but the family as well and any discussion is between a woman and her doctor and how the government has no role in that.

Conservative Claire Rattée noted that the issue had been addressed by the national party which had clearly stated that they would not reopen the debate over women's rights on that theme.

That brought an immediate interrogation challenge from the NDP's Taylor Bachrach, who noted that the question has come up at previous debates and how he fully supports a woman's right to choose,  in his comments of Wednesday he appeared determined to have his Conservative opponent declare her personal beliefs on the issue.

Ms. Rattée took on Mr. Bachrach's challenge by observing that she had answered the question previous by stating the Conservative's policy on the issue; noting for Mr. Bachrach that she also happened to notice that she was the only one sitting on the stage with a uterus so she wasn't sure why she was the only one being asked that question of anyone.

Mike Sawyer observed as to how the issue of the reproductive function of a woman is entirely her choice and between her and her doctor.

Jody Craven made note of the People's Party position on late term abortion which he observed is a topic that the two groups need to get together on, he spoke on adoption as a piece of the puzzle, while also noting that he was Pro Life in his belief, and how the nation needs to address the issue.

The Christian Heritage Party's Rod Taylor echoed some of the past CHP points on the issue, framed by his belief that 60 percent of abortions are the result of some sort of pressure or coercion from a boyfriend or husband. He observed how there are two bodies involved and wondered who speaks for the unborn person who is approaching gestation. He called for more protections for the preborn observing how they have no legal status or protection under Canadian law.

Ms. de Ryk would return to the topic a bit later in the evening, offering an apology to Ms. Rattée for suggesting that she had been the subject of the submitted question.

As a form of penance perhaps,  she provided a question that offered up the Conservative candidate a chance to take on the topic of the SNC/Lavalin controversy.

"I should not have suggested it was the Conservative party candidate, so my apologies; so with that in mind, I would like to ask you what are your thoughts, this is a public question,  on the SNC/Lavalin crisis"

In response, Ms. Rattée echoed many of her previous points on the topic, highlighting how it was an example as to why the Prime Minister is not fit to govern and how he was the first Prime Minister to be found in breach of an ethics investigation not once but twice, observing how he does not have the moral authority to govern.

Recounting some of the recent incidents such as the black face controversy and other scandals Rattée observed that most people don't want him to remain as Prime Minister and she is working to achieve that.

Liberal candidate Dave Birdi countered that argument by noting how the Prime Minister has done a tremendous job of job creation, observing how he sees the SNC/Lavalin issue as one that had been passed on by the Conservative government. He outlined how he believes that the Prime Minister's response was the proper one, he questioned as to what most offended Ms. Rattée about the issue.

She noted how it was simply a question of corruption and that it's a case of a  Prime Minister who thinks the rules don't apply to him.

Jody Craven attempted to join the debate, however he had used up his two interrogation cards and would have to sit out the discussion.

A few other themes of note for the North Coast made for some interesting thoughts on the night, including a question related to news that was released earlier in the day by the Lax Kw'alaams, Metlakatla, Haisla and Nisga'a of an initiative to work towards global climate goals through development of LNG and hydro resources in their territories.

The question which was directed towards the Green's Mike Sawyer found the candidate not finding much to celebrate from the announcement, noting how with all respect to the First Nations involved he believes that the concept is one that is based on misguided or poor science.

Issues of the North Coast Fishery also held some importance on the night, with Taylor Bachrach recounting a recent visit with UFAWU-Unifor's Joy Thorkeslon who showed him a package of Canadian fish, packaged in China and sold in Prince Rupert stores, the anecdote providing him opportunity to call for legislation to ensure resources are processed in Canada.

The Green Party's Mike Sawyer answered a question on the recent salmon season and a call for Climate Disaster assistance, offering up some thoughts on the nature of the crisis before he outlined how he would be in favour of the assistance request.

Infrastructure and housing also made for a few moments of discussion.

On  infrastructure, Liberal Dave Birdi noted how it's not just a Prince Rupert concern but one that all communities share, making note of the colour of some water he had been served earlier in the day in Prince Rupert he outlined some of the Liberal party's work on water treatment projects in the region and how it is a share approach between federal, provincial and municipal governments.

Rod Taylor floated a CHP policy initiative that would see the Bank of Canada provide for interest free loans towards infrastructure development.

The People's party's Jody Craven put the focus on housing for Seniors and ways to address homelessness, calling for Federal Crown land to be used for housing, sidestepping provincial governments to deliver more housing options.

The evening wrapped up with closing comments, with the candidates returning to many of the themes you will see from their online or home delivered material

Taylor Bachrach -- We have a responsibility to give back which led him to seek office, government can build a better community and country, he called for public pharmacare, for Canadians to stand up to oil and gas companies and move towards transition to clean energy and in a country as rich as Canada it's wrong that anyone should go without a home calling for a national investment in housing.

Dave Birdi -- Choose forward, the Liberals have learned from the past and they have a team focused on the economy, job opportunities for youth to get ahead and to provide for services for seniors.

Jody Craven -- Focused on corporate bail outs, loss of Canadian jobs and how politicians need to change. He called for Lower taxes, balance budgets and improve housing and infrastructure themes.

Claire Rattée -- Noted the effort that she has put in to earn the vote of the public and how she would represent constituents to Ottawa and not the other way around.

Mike Sawyer -- Stressed his concern on the climate crisis and all that will roll into that, he also observed how if a Green Party had a role in forming government policy such things as a Clean Water and Clean Air Act would be accomplished.

Rod Taylor -- Highlighted how socialist politicians had wasted tax dollars on useless schemes to fix the climate and political symbols like rainbow crosswalks and sidewalks to nowhere. He also made note of themes such as gender ideology on small children and  the spread of bureaucracy and a warning on bureaucratic dictatorships. Calling for a restoration of common sense, including the right to life and the right to be free to express their thoughts.


For the truly dedicated Northwest political observers there are a few more forums to come over the next week or so, with the candidates back on the stage tonight in Kitimat and again next Thursday the 17th in Terrace.

Both of those forums will be broadcast and streamed live through CityWest.

Smithers residents will also have an opportunity to take in the road show on October 15th.

Should you wish to revisit the Lester Centre forum from last night, CityWest will be re-broadcasting the Prince Rupert event on Saturday, October 19th at 3 PM.

To keep up with the candidates as they head into the home stretch of the 2019 campaign follow our Skeena-Bulkley Valley archive page here.


To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.