Gloomy forecast sinks balanced budget plan

Amid all the gloom - and there was buckets of it - a glimmer of good news shone through Finance Minister Kevin Falcon�s quarterly report on the province�s finances and economy this week.
Mostly, the news was bad. The outlook for the economy is worse than it was three months ago, and it wasn�t great then. The deficit for the year is now forecast at a record $3.1 billion, $331 million worse than Falcon predicted in his last forecast. (Though the actual number is misleading, since about $1.6 billion reflects the one-time HST incentive to be repaid to the federal government .)
And things could get still worse in the coming months.
The good news is that Falcon is backing away from the ill-considered and potentially disastrous commitment to balance the budget by 2013-14.
Falcon still says that�s his goal. But he now acknowledges the target might be impossible.
British Columbians should heave a collective sigh of relief.
Sure, it�s embarrassing for the government to have to adjust its deficit target again and the whole notion of balanced budget laws is starting to look silly. The Liberals introduced a law making deficits illegal beginning in 2004. They amended it in 2009 to allow two years of deficits, then amended it again to allow two more years. Now, it looks like there�s a good chance of a new amendment, meaning the laws on balanced budgets changes about as often as the ministers responsible for Community Living B.C.
But clinging to the target would be destructive, with the goal of a balanced budget by 2013-14 achieveable only with deep spending cuts that would slash services and hurt the economy.
Falcon is in good company. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said last month the Harper government won�t likely balance its budget until 2016, two years later than the budget promised. The Ontario government expects to run deficits until 2017, and that target appears optimistic.
What�s happening is a return to traditional Keynesian economic theory. Governments should budget for surpluses when times are good and use money to pay down debt, the approach dictates.
But when there is a recession, governments should be prepared to run deficits both to maintain services and avoid weakening the economy further by reducing demand.
The real-world risk is that governments never quite get around to balancing the budget when times are good, meaning mounting debt, higher interest costs, an increasing burden for future generations and, as we�re seeing in the case of Greece, a nasty day of reckoning when lenders won�t extend more credit.
B.C. is a long way from that point; the province�s credit rating is good and the debt-to-GDP ratio moderate.
Falcon can�t be made to wear all the blame for the growing deficit. The Finance Ministry�s assumptions about economic growth were more moderate than the independent panel of economists that advises government. The problem is that things keep getting worse than expected.
The U.S. economy is stalled, Europe is in crisis and demand in China is falling. B.C.�s export-dependent economy is being badly hurt by reduced demand and falling commodity prices.
And falling financial markets have meant losses in ICBC�s investment portfolio, with the result that the government now forecasts the corporation won�t be able to deliver the budgeted $290 million in revenue.
At the same time, the government can be criticized for unrealistically low spending budgets, which have created crisis in the courts and Community Living B.C.
The expense budgets are even more out of whack for the next two years. Most ministries face two years of budget freezes; health spending is forecast to rise three per cent in each of the next two years, half the rate of the increase this year.
All of which makes the balanced budget target even more out of reach � and Falcon�s retreat even more welcome.
Footnote: Falcon delivered some additional bad news. The move from the HST back to the PST is more complicated, and going more slowly, than anticipated. It looks like the change will take a full 18 months, until March 31, 2013. That�s bad for homebuilders and other economic sectors, and for the Liberals.

Dismal child poverty record, and no plan to improve

The Clark government believes reducing the number of unnecessary regulations is important.
It doesn�t feel the same way about reducing child poverty.
That�s the obvious conclusion from the Liberals� display of government priorities during the legislative session that wrapped up Thursday.
The Liberals introduced, debated and passed a new law � the Regulatory Reporting Act � that requires an annual report on the number of regulations added and removed during the year, and on initiatives to cut regulations.
Why? Because, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon told the legislature, it�s important � vital � for government �to be publicly accountable for progress or lack of progress� on reducing regulations. Only by measuring and reporting can the public be assured that progress is being made, he said.
But when it was reported that B.C. had the highest rate of child poverty in Canada for the eighth consecutive year, Premier Christy Clark rejected calls for a plan to address the problem, with targets, actions and a requirement for an annual report on �progress or lack of progress,� to use Falcon�s words.
Why no plan? Clark and the other ministers never offered a coherent reason.
Because there isn�t one.
The facts are clear. The annual national look at child poverty, released by First Call, an advocacy group, found that 12 per cent to 16.4 per cent of B.C. children were living in poverty in 2009. That�s the highest proportion of poor kids of any province, a dismal ranking B.C. has retained for eight years. (You can debate poverty measures, but the fact remains this province is the worst.)
So some 100,000 to 140,000 children are being raised in poverty, an increase of about 15 per cent from the previous year.
That�s bad for them; childhood poverty is linked to lifelong health issues, educational limitations, unemployment and a variety of other problems. And it�s bad for the province, since a large number of people will never make the contributions they could have.
Any competent manager � a title the Liberals like to claim � knows that progress starts with a plan. You set targets for improvements, develop action plans with expected outcomes, monitor and report on progress and make needed changes as you go.
Clark said the government doesn�t need a plan. It�s doing things like raising the minimum wage and providing housing supports and launching job strategies. Those will help reduce child poverty.
Maybe, though it�s an odd claim since the government has insisted for most of the last decade that raising the minimum wage wouldn�t reduce poverty.
But a bunch of random actions aren�t a plan. There�s no objective, even a modest one like moving B.C. from the worst in Canada to the seventh worst. There�s no estimate of the effect of any actions on reducing poverty.
And there�s no reporting or accountability. Reducing regulations, the government passed a law to make sure there would be real accountability there. Not for reducing the number of children living in poverty.
Children and Families Minister Mary McNeil says the government has �committed to working closely with municipalities� to develop regional poverty reduction plans. That might be useful, if it ever happens. But it should also be part of a provincial poverty plan, with targets and outcomes and public reporting on progress.
There�s nothing radical about the idea of developing a plan to reduce child poverty. Seven other provinces already have plans or are working on them. Alberta is expected to launch a plan. That would leave B.C. and Saskatchewan as the only provinces without a coherent plan to reduce child poverty.
The current approach isn�t working, despite some reductions in the number of poor children in recent years. If it was, B.C. wouldn�t still have the worst record in Canada.
Falcon�s Regulation Reporting Act passed into law on the last day of the session. That mattered to the government.
Poor kids are still waiting.
Footnote: A plan could make quick progress. About one-third of the children living in poverty have parents dependent on income assistance or disability benefits. (A single parent with two children who is deemed employable gets up to $660 a month for housing and another $623 a month for everything else.) Providing enough support to lift those children out of poverty, or allowing their parents to earn some money without losing benefits, would move B.C. into the top half of the rankings.

Big pension problems get tiny government response

Canadians have lost a lot over the years.
A generation ago, most people could count on buying a home for the equivalent of about three year�s salary. That dream is gone.
And a generation ago, most people could count on retiring with a guaranteed pension from their company. They knew how much they would get, and with Canada Pension Plan and old age security, they could count on a comfortable retirement.
It�s extraordinary how that has been taken away, with no real debate.
Companies decided defined benefit plans � ones that paid a guaranteed retirement income � were too costly.
Employee and company paid into defined benefit plans. If the reserves looked they might not provide the promised benefits in future, they had to be topped up.
So companies pushed to eliminate the plans, or change them to defined contribution plans. Employees and company would contribute and the funds invested. The pension would be based on however much money was in the fund on retirement. There was no obligation to provide an income. (Government workers, including MPs and MLAs, still have defined benefit plans. MLAs and MPs believe you should pay for guaranteed pensions for them, but not that you should have one.)
And work changed, from long-term employment with big companies to much less certain work, often part-time or on contract, and without any pension.
In fact, only one in four British Columbians have workplace pensions today.
This huge change in the social contract hasn�t been discussed. And while workplace pensions have been slashed, there has been no corresponding increase in public retirement benefits. Those benefits are low compared to other OECD countries, in large part because Canadians could once count on workplace pension plans.
The Harper government has offered a token response to the pension problems with legislation allowing new pooled pension plans.
It�s a lame response to a real problem. The new plans would give small business the opportunity to provide a pension plan by signing a deal with a bank or investment company. The employees would have the voluntary chance to contribute, and the employer could also contribute if he chose (not that likely, I�d say). The investment firm would take its cut for managing the money and the savings would be available at retirement.
Some employers will offer the plan. Some people will sign on.
But not many. And there is no real benefit over RRSPs; people who have not contributed to their own retirement fund, for whatever reason, are unlikely to opt into voluntary pooled plan.
The government could have easily made the plan at least slightly better. It could have allowed the pooled plans, and had the funds managed by the Canadian Pension Plan investment experts. That�s similar to the approach taken in Saskatchewan, where such a plan already exists. That�s also the model promised by the B.C. government in 2008, and never delivered.
That would have provided excellent money management at the lowest cost. Instead, the Harper government offered the banks and the investment houses the chance to manage the money and collect the fees.
That�s strange, because earlier this year Finance Minister Jim Flaherty called for an investigation into the high fees charged by providers of Canadian mutual funds and other investments. A study found Canadians pay more than twice as much in management fees as Americans. Those costs significantly reduce the money being available for retirement. Now Flaherty is opening a new market for them.
This isn�t just an issue for those nearing retirement age.
The giant baby boom bulge is now nearing 65. In 1971, there were 6.2 British Columbians of working age for every person over 65. By 2034, there will be just 2.4 working-age people for each person over 65. If boomers push for better pensions, the cost will fall heavily on those still working.
Footnote: The best option would be a planned increase in CPP benefits, now capped at about $935 a month. That would require increased contributions by employees and employers. The minimum retirees can expect in Canada is about $1,170 per month � that�s basic old-age security plus a guaranteed income supplement for the poorest seniors.

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After 20 years, Jumbo still in limbo

The past week in the legislature offered good reminders of how surreal things can get in the grand old building.
On Tuesday, the issue of whether the Jumbo Glacier resort near Invermere would be approved was big. Opponents, including former NHL star Scott Niedermayer, were in Victoria. The New Democrats backed them, and raised the issue in question period.
What�s surreal about that, you might ask?
Coincidentally, the next day I was clearing files off an old iMac. And I came across my last column about the controversial issue of approval for the resort. It was from October 2004.
Seven years have gone by and the governments involved haven�t been able to say yes or no to the giant project, which could include some 6,000 housing units, 23 lifts, stores, restaurants and jobs. And bring more than $500 million in economic activity.
The 2004 column noted that occasion was surreal as well. For one thing, the project had already spent 13 years in various efforts to get approvals and translate dreams into construction.
Then resource minister George Abbott had just announced that the project had passed provincial environmental assessment review. But even though the Liberals actually had a resort minister at the time, charged with promoting such developments, Abbott distanced the government from the proposal.
The real decision would be made by East Kootenay Regional District directors, he said. Look over there.
Seven years later, Lands Minister Steve Thomson has the responsibility for approving or rejecting the master development agreement for the project. He says he needs to think about the costs and benefits, First Nations opposition, community attitudes and other factors.
You can argue either way. Jumbo would be the only resort in North America where you could drive to high glacier skiing. The valley has already been logged and mined. The jobs and investment fit Premier Christy Clark�s stated agenda.
But the resort would hurt existing heli-skiing businesses. It could damage grizzly populations, which concerns First Nations and reduces ecotourism activities.
The Ktunaxa First Nation, an effective band with its own resort development and casino, opposes the project in territory it claims. An economic assessment it commissioned found the resort wouldn�t increase economic activity, as it would just take customers from other B.C. ski hills.
What�s really striking is that seven years have gone by without a decision. The issue has divided the community. The developer has kept spending money. Opponents have spent money too. Government workers have been preparing reports and memos, for which you have been paying.
And government is unable to say, this makes sense, or no, it does not.
Politically, the shadow of provincial Conservative leader John Cummins looms over the decision. If the government decides not to allow the project, Cummins will complain about the Liberals granting First Nations a veto on development.
Cummins likewise loomed over the week�s other wildly surreal moments.
On Monday, Liberal MLA Eric Foster introduced a private members bill calling on the legislature to support the federal government�s repeal of the long-gun registry.
That�s silly. It�s a federal issue; the province has no role.
But MLAs from both parties spent an hour talking about guns and crime, a remarkable waste of scarce legislature time (and the $100,000-a-year MLAs� time). Liberal MLA Bill Bennett argued people need guns to defend themselves against the state, suggesting he�s got some concerns about just where Christy Clark is going with the government. Or something.
So why such a waste of time and money?
Because the Liberals want to line up on the side of people who think the gun registry was a terrible idea � voters who might drift to Cummins and the Conservatives.
Less time on pointless gun talk, and more on speedy project decisions would serve the public better.
Footnote: Bennett, who represents the Jumbo resort region, used a private member�s statement to blast both parties for their handling of the project approvals. �The twists and turns in government process over the last 20 years on this project are a disgrace.� he said. �All members should be embarrassed by the unjust way that this proponent has been forced to tread water for 20 years by both political parties in this House today. I ask, on behalf of my region: Please, let�s have a decision.�

Keystone, Prosperity and government negotiators

There are many interesting aspects of the decision to delay the Keystone pipeline. The Times Colonist has a useful editorial here.

One striking thing is how quickly the company moved from its position that the oilsands crude pipeline had to traverse a sensitive Nebraska aquifer. The routing was necessary for the project, the developer had maintained all through the approval process, despite major protests from the people and politicians of the state, including the Republican governor.

But as soon as the U.S. government put the approval process on hold, the company changed its tune. The pipeline would be rerouted to avoid the aquifer.

It's a process that should be familiar to British Columbians. The provincial government approved plans for Taseko's Prosperity Mine, and accepted the company's claim it needed to use a large, fish-bearing lake as a tailings dump, destroying it. The Liberal government gave approval.

But the federal government said no, the environmental damage and impact on First Nations outweighed the economic benefits. It blocked the mine.

And Taseko quickly came back with a new proposal that didn't require the destruction of Fish Lake. It would spend about $300 million more and manage the tailings in a less damaging way. (I wrote more about the province's lax approach here.)

Both cases are a reminder that companies want to do things as cheaply as governments will allow (while avoiding obvious liabilities from future problems). They want the low-cost tailings dump, or the shorter pipeline route, because they can make more money, which is their duty to shareholders.

Governments need to be knowledgeable, tough bargainers to avoid unnecessary environmental damage or other decisions not in the public interest. (Yes, there is such a thing as necessary environmental damage. We aren't living in tents in the trees, after all.)

It's not at all clear that governments are tough or skilled bargainers. The B.C. government was prepared to let Taseko destroy a lake unnecessarily; it also handed huge benefits to forest companies when it released land from tree farm licences without getting compensation for taxpayers.

Report fails to clear Basi-Virk plea deal questions

UBC president Stephen Toope didn�t come up with answers about how taxpayers ended up paying $6 million to cover the legal fees of two Liberal staffers who admitted taking bribes.
That wasn�t Toope�s asssignment, he said when he delivered a report on when taxpayers should and shouldn�t pay the legal bills for government employees. The government asked him to make recommendations about the policy in the future, not report on how it worked in the past.
Toope�s report was useful. But it didn�t dispel the smell hanging over the B.C. Rail scandal and the $6 million payout that helped ensure guilty pleas from Dave Basi and Bob Virk, shutting down the B.C. Rail corruption trial well before all the evidence was heard.
The government chose to release Toope�s report while he was in India, part of Christy Clark�s Asian tour. The University of B.C. has good reasons to be building ties with China and India. But the approach did emphasize the close ties between Toope and the government, and Clark�s unavailability to deal with questions.
Toope recommended the government keep on picking up the legal fees for government workers facing job-related lawsuits or criminal charges.
Partly, it�s a matter of fairness. If people are doing their jobs, and someone sues them or files criminal charges, they shouldn�t face crushing legal bills.
It�s also practical. If an enforcement officer fears facing a huge legal bill as a result of being sued for denying a development permit, he might just say yes to a bad project. Legal indemnification supports independent decisions in the public interest.
Toope recommended a clearer written policy, and better ways of managing costs in big ticket criminal cases. The government has effectively written a blank cheque to defence lawyers and special prosecutors. Toope said those costs could be reduced, at least on the defence side.
And he said the government should seek to recover costs if people are found guilty � something it chose not to do in the Basi-Virk case.
Toope also found there has been no real policy about covering costs in criminal cases. Public sector managers tried to push for a written policy, but the politicians never got around to making any decisions.
But the understanding, from the first case � when the government paid former Glen Clark�s legal fees in the casino licensing case � was clear. If the defendants were found not guilty, the taxpayers paid. If they broke the law, they had to pay for their own defence.
Until Basi-Virk. The government had claims on the defendants� assets and could have collected a significant chunk of cash. But government, prosecutor and defence cut a deal. The two men pleaded guilty, and got an easy sentence of house arrest. The government � you � covered $6 million in legal fees.
The NDP raised the issue in question period this week. Attorney General Shirley Bond read from a statement in October 20101, when David Loukidelis, deputy in the Attorney General�s Ministry, and Graham Whitmarsh, finance deputy, said they made the decision because the Basi and Virk had limited ability to pay. The $6 million ensured a guilty plea; the alternative was to let the trial continue at a potentially greater cost, with no assurance of a conviction.
But it remains unclear how the two deputy ministers decided Basi and Virk couldn�t pay (the government already had $350,000 in security from Basi it could have claimed), how they had estimated trial costs and whether considered that the $6 million looked much an incentive to plead guilty, creating a perception damaging to government and the justice system.
Auditor General John Doyle is also looking at the $6 million payout.
Hopefully, he�ll come up with some better answers for the public.
In the meantime, the B.C. Rail scandal continues to hang over the government.
Footnote: The legal fee issue isn�t the only remaining question. It�s still unclear, for example, why lobbyists Brian Kieran and Erik Bornman, who both admitted paying bribes to Basi and Virk to get inside information on the deal, weren�t charged. It�s also unclear whether that was normal practice for them, or Basi and Virk. They also admitted leaking information to lobbyist Bruce Clark (Christy Clark�s brother), but it has never been explained why they did.

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Flaherty gives Clark a chance to avoid deep cuts to balance budget in short term

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty offered Christy Clark a big break this week, if she�s prepared to grab it.
Flaherty conceded the Conservatives can�t deliver on their promise to balance the federal budget by the 2014 fiscal year.
It�s more likely to take until 2016, he said, although the budget could be balanced a year earlier if the Harper government finds some $4 billion in annual spending to cut.
That revised plan is good news for Canadians. The pledge to end deficits by 2014, despite the continuing economic slowdown, was always dubious. Clinging to it would have meant damaging spending cuts or tax increases at a time when the economy is already faltering.
But Clark and the B.C. government are still committed to returning to surpluses by the 2013/14 fiscal year � a year earlier than the original federal plan, and perhaps two years ahead of Flaherty�s revised projection.
The provincial government has no credible plan to get there. The last budget, in February, was a stopgap. Gordon Campbell had been forced out. The Liberals didn�t have a leader.
So the budget plugged in some numbers to let the Liberals claim there was a plan to eliminate the deficit, even though they made no real sense.
The budget increased health spending 6.2 per cent this year. But somehow, miraculously, the government proposes to cut that to three per cent increases in each of the next two years.
Most ministries � 13 of the 16 � are dealing with budget cuts this year, and freezes for the next two years.
That�s not a realistic plan, even with a continuing wage freeze.
The government faces increasing costs across the board, as well as a number of specific, costly pressure. Community Living B.C. needs an extra $65 million a year. The federal government�s �tough-on-crime� legislation will cost hundreds of millions a year in court and jail costs. Education Minister George Abbott is promising new programs in schools.
The budget was also based on the continued higher tax revenue from the HST, which voters tossed out in the referendum.
In the September budget update, after the first three months, of the fiscal year, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon acknowledged that the plan no longer worked. The budget projected � optimistically � a surplus of $152 million in 2013/14.
Falcon said that reworking the numbers without the HST produced a projected deficit of $610 million for the same year.
If the government sticks to its plan � and its budget law � it would have to find $458 million in cuts, or revenue increases, to eke out a barely balanced budget, he said.
And cuts, remember, would be to budgets that are already inadequate to maintain core services.
That�s not the only problem. The government was reasonably conservative in its revenue forecasts, which might have created the potential for extra money. But the world economic situation has worsened. U.S. markets for B.C. exports remain weak, the growth in exports to Asia has slowed significantly and Europe is in disarray.
Sticking to the budget plan would require deep cuts to already underfunded ministries, or tax increases. Either would damage the economy. The prudent course would be to accept that the global economic problems justify a deficits for a few more years.
The timing makes this all tricky. The first surplus budget is supposed to be introduced in February 2013, three months before the next election. Many voters will likely recall the 2009 pre-election budget, and the forecast $495-million deficit that ballooned to $1.8 billion. The NDP and Conservatives will argue that any budget forecasts from the Liberals aren�t to be trusted.
And Clark has a problem in provincial Conservative leader John Cummins. His goal is to outflank the Liberals on the right, and he�ll be on the attack if Clark decides to abandon the current plan to balance the budget.
Flaherty�s announcement this week could help the Liberals deal with those attacks. If the Harper Conservatives consider it prudent to take more time to balanced budgets, why shouldn�t the B.C. Liberals take the same course?
Footnote: If the government is going to abandon the current plan to eliminate the deficit by 2013, they will likely be an indication later this month when Falcon presents the second quarter update on the first six months of the current fiscal year.

Motor Magnets

Motor Magnets

Magnetic Products

Magnetic Products

How Magnets Work

How Magnets Work

Magnetic Power

Magnetic Power

Former CLBC chair confirms, belatedly, underfunding

The Vancouver Sun had an odd letter to the editor from a former chair of Community Living BC today. (Not the current chair, as the published version indicated.)
Lois Hollstedt was the first chair of the board and served until 2010. She argues in the letter that the Crown corporation is underfunded - undoubtedly true.
And that more problems are ahead as the lack of funding, in the face of growing demand, creates a continuing crisis - also undoubtedly true.
But where was Hollstedt as the crisis developed?
Last year, as CLBC chair, she wrote the introduction to the corporation's annual report and concluded with this:
"Finally, as we continue to serve more and more people, our budget has expanded to meet demand," Hollstedt wrote. "It has been my privilege to be involved in these changes and I want to thank everyone for their roles in bringing CLBC into reality and for continuing to work toward our vision."
That was not true. The budget had not expanded to meet demand, as she now confirms. An honest and accurate report from the board would have raised the issues Hollstedt sets out in the letter to the editor much earlier.
So why did she say the opposite? Is the board representing the people CLBC was created to serve, or acting in the government's interest?
My intent is not to single out Hollstedt. But there has been a striking co-option of advocates, and the results have been damaging.

The published letter is below:

CLBC board chair hopes publicity results in money

BY LOIS HOLLSTEDT

Re: Community Living seeks to restore core values, Oct. 29

While your story presented a good and fair overview of CLBC's creation, it did not discuss the lack of money provided by government to fully fund the mission it gave to the organization.

Simply, the growth in people asking for and needing service has been greater than the money provided.

Demand has grown from four to six per cent a year, inflation is two to three per cent a year, and the money has not kept pace.

The 2010/11 Annual Report (page 26) shows over five years operating money grew 9.4 per cent ($622 million to $681 million) while adults served grew 29.6 per cent (10,400 to 13,481).

2011-12 budgets increased 0.79 per cent and the $8 million announced last month lifts it to a 1.2-per-cent increase for this year.

Your story indicates 2,800 people are on the wait-list. Without substantial new resources, people will not get the services they need, and government was told by me and by the CEO that this would happen.

In 2010-11 the equivalent of $39 million in service changes were redirected to new people, and without this difficult work by a dedicated staff across B.C. the problem would be so much worse.

Let us hope the publicity from this continuing story will result in significant new money for more people to have their needs met.

Lois Hollstedt CLBC Board Chair

A safe, useful way to keep the Occupy movement evolving

In Vancouver and Victoria, it's clear the cities are going to shift the Occupy campers from their current venues.
And it's equally clear some of the people involved are going to be inclined to resist.
Before people start getting arrested, or hurt, and before anything ugly that distracts from the issues that prompted the whole effort in the first place, all involved - city and occupiers - should consider the proposals of Mr. Beer and Hockey here.
He has spent time in the Occupy Vancouver camp, and was there when the young woman died this weekend. As a "a peaceful, gradualist, Godwinian Anarchist" he has a proposal worth serious consideration. (And read more on his blog when you're there, if you're not familiar with it. He's a heck of a writer and an astute observer.)

Poll delivers bad news to Clark and Liberals

Christy Clark went all tough on crime this week, proudly enrolling in Stephen Harper�s �lock-em-up� camp. Strange for a federal Liberal, who mostly think the crime measures � mandatory minimum sentences and the like � are expensive, ineffective political pandering.
A day later, a poll showed why.
The New Democrats have the kind of support that would see them elected an 2013, the Angus Reid poll found.
And a big factor is John Cummins and the B.C. Conservatives, a rather serious problem for the Liberals.
The poll is bad news for Clark. It found 40 per cent of voters say they would vote for the NDP in the next election. The Liberals are at 31 per cent, a serious gap.
The Greens are at eight per cent support, in their typical range.
But the Conservatives are at 18 per cent, unprecedented heights for a party that has been firmly, even proudly, on the political fringes for more than three decades.
If the Conservatives hold that support, or anything close to it, the centre-right vote will be split and the Liberals will lose a lot of seats.
Of course, people often say they support parties with limited chances of success between elections, before returning to the fold when it matters.
But several things might make this different, with Cummins the main one. He�s an experienced, skilled campaigner, as shown by his six successful campaigns to be an MP under Reform, Alliance and Conservative banners. He has attracted others with experience to the party and knows how to do the basic stuff that other fledgling political efforts, like the Greens, tend to mess up. Cummins has been quick off the mark and effective in issuing news releases critiquing the Clark government, for example.
And Cummins has a chance, with some credible candidates, to make a pitch to voters who aren�t happy with either of thetwo main parties, a significant group these days.
The poll looked at how votes were shifting and found some interesting changes.
The Liberals have lost the support of about one-third of the people who voted for them in 2009, according the other poll results. About two-thirds of the defectors have shifted their support to the Conservatives, but more than one in four former Liberal voters now support the NDP.
But the New Democrats have also lost the support of 16 per cent of their former supporters � and half of those people have jumped to the Conservatives.
The poll isn�t all bad news for the Liberals. The poll found 25 per cent of those surveyed think Clark would make the best premier, compared to 19 per cent who pick Adrian Dix. She was judged significantly better-suited to deal with the economy, which was the top issue identified.
However she and Dix were tied in their approval ratings in their current jobs.
And, significantly, 12 per cent of respondents said their opinion of Clark had improved in the past three months, while 39 per cent said it had worsened. Dix fared better, with 18 per cent saying they were more impressed with him based on the last three months, while 17 per cent said their opinion had worsened.
Clark faced a formidable challenge in convincing voters that her Liberal government would be different than the Gordon Campbell version. The worsening poll results suggest she�s not succeeding.
And now she has to try to turn back the Conservative surge, which will also be difficult. Clark could push the Liberals to the right, as she did with her tough on crime talk, but that risks alienating more moderate voters.
The Liberals can argue, as they did this week, that voting Conservative would result in an NDP government. That, however, sounds both arrogant and uninspiring. �Vote for us, in spite of what we�ve done� is a weak slogan.
The election is stlill 18 months away. But Clark and the Liberals have a lot of work ahead of them.
Footnote: The poll was conducted Oct. 31 and Nov. 31 and based on an online sample of 803 people. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent.

More evidence independent CLBC review needed

Chelsea McGarry is 18. The young Quesnel woman has Down syndrome, autism, early onset Alzheimer�s, diabetes and celiac disease.
It�s been quite a struggle. But Chelsea had been receiving enough supports and service to allow her mum, Shelley, to care for her at home.
Until now. Because when Chelsea turns 19 in December, those supports get chopped and her file transfers to Community Living B.C.
And that problem-plagued Crown corporation, struggling with underfunding, refused to approve a care plan.
Chelsea�s mother has been battling for support. Children�s Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has advocated for her, and so has her MLA, Bob Simpson.
But only when Times Colonist reporter Lindsay Kines reported on the nightmare did CLBC agree to new meetings to resolve the issues, and the outcome of those is far from clear.
It�s yet another example of how vulnerable are, how fearful they are of making waves in case they face reprisals, and how badly an independent review of the troubled agency is needed.
CLBC was set up in 2005 to provide support and services to adults with developmental disabilities � mental handicaps � and their families. Many have other emotional, mental and physical problems that complicate their lives.
But every year since then, the amount of money available per client has been cut. Services have been reduced and the approximately 550 teens who �age out� and shift to CLBC supports face massive struggles to maintain the quality of their lives.
The corporation has pushed people from staffed group homes, sometimes after years of residence, into homeshares, a a cheaper alternative. CLBC has argued that some clients do better in the new settings.
But Kines uncovered a review of one of the companies managing homeshare services in the Lower Mainland. The consultants report, done for CLBC, was shocking. The consultant could find no evidence basic background checks had been done on some of those providing homeshares to vulnerable adults. There was a lack of training and poor oversight. Homeshare providers weren�t given the information they needed on client�s behavioural and health problems, leading to potentially dangerous incidents and a series of �crisis situations.�
The company, which manages 44 homeshare contracts, was stretched too thinly to properly monitor care. Its manager noted the rush to close group homes � almost 10 per cent have been closed � created similar pressures across the province.
It�s far from the only example of problems.
CLBC refused for months to provide information on wait lists, before revealing that 2,089 people � about one in six clients � receiving some services were waiting for supports to meet identified needs. Another 751 people were getting no services and waiting for help and support. It�s still not know how long the waits last.
The government was forced to come up with an extra $6 million in September because inadequate funding had left clients facing urgent threats to their health and safety, an indication of a basic planning and budgeting failure.
And the government effectively acknowledged the problems, recently firing the CEO of Community Living BC and the minister responsible, Harry Bloy. (The corporation has reported to four different ministers in the last year.)
New Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux has promised internal reviews and a greater focus on responding to families� concerns.
That�s not good enough. CLBC has already betrayed families� trust by repeatedly denying that people were being forced from group homes before finally admitting that was simply untrue.
And the attempts to deal with individual cases when they capture media attention themselves raises more concerns.
What of the people with developmental disabilities without advocates � those whose parents are dead, or families estranged? There is no one to speak for them, and many can�t do it themselves.
The government has acknowledged its failures in this important are. And independent review, with input from families and advocates, and a public report are needed to chart a way out of this crisis.
Footnote: The Representative for Children and Youth only has authority to investigate problems and advocate for individuals until they turn 19. Turpel-Lafond has suggested that be raised � perhaps to 24 � in recognition that adulthood is instantly attained on the 19th birthday. That too would be a useful change.

Magnetic Field of Unlike Poles

Magnetic Field of Unlike Poles

A magnetic generator provides an inexpensive means of producing electricity for your home. Let's look at the elements involved in the production of this electricity...


Magnetic Power Provides a Low Cost, Simple Method of Producing Cheap Electricity



Magnetic Power Provides a Low Cost, Simple Method of Producing Cheap Electricity

By Nicky Brown


Understanding how the magnetic generator functions, will give you a better understanding of how inexpensive power can be generated for your home. The first step is learning what allows this production of electricity. First and foremost, the magnetic generator must first provide power for it's own operation, before it can power other devices. The amount of electricity that can be produced by the generator, is dependent on the magnets' strength. There is no cost for operating the magnetic generator. That is, when you have gotten to the point of having the machine ready to generate power. This machine is capable of producing enough power to supply as many appliances and devices in your home, as you desire.
Here are the facts about how electricity is produced by the magnetic power generator. To understand how the magnetic power generator can produce electricity at a low cost, you must first grasp the concept of how magnetic poles behave. When there are opposite magnet poles, they will attract each other, and when there are like poles, they will push away from each other. The generator contains a number of magnetic forces. The magnetic power is generated when these magnetic forces repel each other. The amount of magnetic power produced will continue to grow, as more and more of these forces push off of each other.
There are no simpler methods for producing cheap power. As long as those forces are at work pushing against each other, there will be generation of power. This will only cease with removal of one magnet. Therefore, we can understand that this technique for generating power is constant in nature. There will be a continuous production of electricity from the magnetic power generator, as long as the magnets are present to repel and attract each other. So, as you can see, the process by which the magnetic power generator produces low cost power is not a complicated one.
The only cost associated with this method of electricity production, is the cost of the equipment and supplies necessary to construct the magnetic generator, and this is why the power that the machine generates is cheap. You can say goodbye to the ever-increasing electric bills that you have been plagued by. Unlike the windmill, the magnetic generator is not dependent on the wind blowing to make it's electricity. And unlike a solar power system, your magnetic generator will function whether or not it is a sunny day.
Utilizing magnetic fields is a clean means of power production, and there is no excess heat produced during the power production process.
Find out more about the new energy focus, the magnetic generator. Acquire wealth of information on how magnetic generators work, benefits and many other informative tips on saving electricity. Learn how to build magnetic generator today; Master the true knowledge of generating free energy.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Nicky_Brown


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Magnetic Field of Unlike Poles

Uses of Isotopes in Archeology

Uses of Isotopes in Archeology

Radioactivity can be one of the most confusing topics in science to many today. Its usefulness in a broad array of scientific arenas is undoubtedly substantial, and yet the same technology that can be used to solve problems can also be used for huge amounts of destruction and long term consequences...


Radioactivity and Radiation Safety



Radioactivity and Radiation Safety

By Matthew Eddington


Radioactivity can be one of the most confusing topics in science to many today. Its usefulness in a broad array of scientific arenas is undoubtedly substantial, and yet the same technology that can be used to solve problems can also be used for huge amounts of destruction and long term consequences.
While most people alive today have heard of radiation and its uses and potential disastrous penalties they may not know exactly what it is, and their knowledge of the subject is limited to only what they hear from news sources or medical journals. Simply put, radioactivity refers to the unpredictable release of energy from 'unstable' atoms. Unlike stable atoms, which do not change throughout their lifetime, unstable atoms break down and emit radioactivity from their nucleus as they break down (also referred to as decay). Elements such as uranium, potassium, and thorium (isotopes) decay fairly easily to form smaller, lighter atoms, while other more stable elements may take longer.
While radiation and radioactivity seem to be terms that refer to twentieth century science topics, the phenomena was actually discovered back in 1896 by Antoine Becquerel somewhat by accident. Becquerel, who studied photography and x-rays, had put photographic plates in a drawer with uranium salts. To his surprise the photographic plates became exposed without the presence of a purposefully placed energy source, as the uranium has supplied the needed energy. In honor of his work in the field, the standard unit of measure for radiation was named the Becquerel.
Medicine and fields such as archaeology have seen huge advances in their fields due to the uses of technology derived from radiation studies. In modern medicine, radioactive isotopes are used as forms of tracers to follow how certain body processes function. Once ingested the isotopes can be followed and have been extremely useful in the diagnosis of disease and the research related to solving some of medicines biggest mysteries. Archaeology on the other hand uses radiation in a much different way. Since radiation is derived primarily from natural forms, scientists have been able to find ways to use it to help define the history and length of life on the planet earth. Living organisms take in radiation through the environment through carbon, however once deceased the organism stops its intake of carbon and the amount that is present slowly decreases over time. The amount of time it takes for the decrease to happen is predictable and scientists use this information to date events that have occurred on our planet.
Although complicated the science of radiation and radioactivity has fascinated researchers due to its unlimited potential and usefulness. However the vast variety of uses also has its consequences and must be watched carefully. Perfect proof for this can be seen in the meltdown of a Ukrainian nuclear reactor that occurred during the cold war. Disastrous effects of this accident are still in effect to this day and the surrounding population and terrain will be scarred for a long period of time. Radioactive materials do have their uses, but we must be responsible with the technology and use it appropriately to help further our knowledge.
For more information and guidance about radiation, visit http://www.apnga.com. The American Portable Nuclear Guage Association specializes in radiation topics.
---
Matthew Eddington author's articles for WebDrafter.com, Inc. ( http://www.webdrafter.com ), which produces Website design, hosting, and search engine marketing services.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Matthew_Eddington


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Uses of Isotopes in Archeology

Magnetic Force

Magnetic Force

Knowing how to attract women with a magnetic force is something guys like us will use to our advantage - fast!  You are not the only one who's been looking for answers to how to attract women...


How to Attract Women With a Magnetic Force - 3 Powerful Secrets of Becoming a Sexier Man

By Jean E Paul


You are not the only one who's been looking for answers to how to attract women.
I remember a time when I used to ask myself if and when I would get another date. I used to look at all the guys with girlfriends wishing it was me.
Now, there are too many women who find me attractive for me to settle with just one of them.
How do you get women attracted to you?
It looks hard but it's really simple. Here are three things you can start doing right now that will change your sex and dating life forever!
1.Realize you're the prize - Women want men they can look up to, not the other way round. If you always try to please women, thinking that will get them interested, think again.
Get the girl to work a little for your time and attention - don't just give it away!
Women use it on you all the time. They find it extremely attractive when they find a guy who truly values himself.
2.Build sexual tension - Use confident eye contact and subtle touches to arouse her, without her understanding what's happening to her!
Sexual tension is a very powerful and essential component of attracting a woman. Use it wisely!
3. Become more selective - If women sense you settle for just any woman you can get, they will start to loose attraction. However, once you become more choosy they will feel more special to be with you.
Better still, you will begin to attract higher quality women!
How about some more tips on how to be a powerful man women find irresistible?
Make that move to get the women you want. There is a simple way to date more women and become a very powerful, masculine man.
Jean E Paul is the author of "Sex Women and YOU: A guide for beginners".

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jean_E_Paul


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Magnetic Force






Magnetic Force

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