“I am asked – and I’m speaking to young Canada now – are there rewards in public life? There are – not monetary but there is a tremendous satisfaction in being able to say I tried, I stood."

~~~ John G Diefenbaker

Friday, June 22, 2018

HOW does a country that allows its' security forces to trample all over the rights -- the MOST BASIC OF RIGHTS -- get to be on the UN Human Rights Council?


I am still an avid news reader, and a story today peaked my interest for a couple of reasons.  First though, let me present you with three lists of countries.  Bear with me for a moment, and I'll let you know what they are all about.  In the meantime, is there anything you notice, that stands out, about these lists?

1.  Denmark ... 94.7
2.  Iceland ... 94.5
3.  Austria ... 91.5
4.  Finland ... 90.5
5.  New Zealand ... 90.4
6.  Singapore ... 90.1
7.  Switzerland ... 89.1
8.  Canada ... 87.8
9.  Czech Republic ... 87.8
10.  Slovenia ... 87
11.  Portugal ... 86.8
12.  Australia ... 86.3
13.  Germany ... 85
14.  Norway ... 85
15.  Netherlands ... 84.3
16.  Qatar ... 83.7
17.  Poland ... 83.7
18.  Ireland ... 83.2
19.  Croatia ... 83
20.  Spain ... 82.9
21.  Hungary ... 82.8
22.  Republic of Korea (South Korea) ... 82.2
23.  Slovakia ... 79.9
24.  Japan ... 79.9
25.  Chile ... 79.0
26.  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ... 78.7
27.  United Arab Emirates ... 78.7
28.  Mongolia ... 71.7
29.  Belgium ... 69.7
30.  Togo ... 69.1
31.  United States of America ... 67.6
32.  China ... 66.3

62.  Georgia ... 62.8
66.  Panama ... 59.7
68.  Nepal ... 58.6
72.  Ecuador ... 54.5
78.  Tunisia ... 53.3
83.  Brazil ... 52.1
89.  Peru ... 49.8
95.  South Africa ... 48.4
97.  Angola ... 47.8
99.  Cuba ... 47.3
105.  Saudi Arabia ... 46.3

109.  Mexico ... 45.8
111.  Senegal ... 45.2
112.  Kenya ... 44.8
125.  Ethiopia ... 40.8
131.  Kyrgyzstan ... 37.8
133.  Egypt ... 37.5
134.  Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) ... 37.4
135.  Rwanda ... 37.2
142.  Nigeria ... 32.6
143.  Nigeria ... 32.6
144.  Venezuela ... 32.5
147.  Ukraine ... 30.2
148.  Burundi ... 30.0
150.  Pakistan ... 26.3
152.  Democratic Republic of Congo ... 16.3
155.  Iraq ... 13.6
156.  Afghanistan ... 10.4
160.  Syria ... .04


First of all SafeAround has compiled and analyzed data from several public sources to make a safety index that allows to rank the world’s countries by safety (100=perfectly safe; 0=very dangerous). 

These sources take in consideration all kind of threats such as mugging, crime, road death toll, occurrence of terrorist attacks and wars, to build their own ranking of world’s most dangerous cities.

An index of 100 means the country is perfectly safe, therefore an index of zero therefore is extremely dangerous (NOTE that Syria, at .04, is the LEAST SAFE country in the world).

SafeAround ranked the Top 160 countries, and because of that, I broke the rankings down into 3 section to denote Safe ... Dangerous / Unsafe ... and countries that ranked in the middle. 

Now, you're asking, what the heck are the countries noted in Green ... Yellow / Gold ... and Red?  Well those countries just happen to be the current members of the United Nations Human Rights Council. 

Seventeen of the most dangerous countries in the world are all part of the Human Rights Council.  What kind of sense does that make?  After all, here are the guidelines for the Human Rights Council:

The Human Rights Council is ... responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe ... addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them... has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention ...

So back again to the beginning art of this post, and what got me started.

Today in the CBC's National Today story promo email, came news of an ever worsening situation now underway in Venezuela.

Security forces in Venezuela are carrying out a widespread campaign of extrajudicial murder under the guise of purported crime-fighting operations, a new United Nations report charges.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation, released this morning in Geneva, says that at least 505 people were killed by police and soldiers between July 2015 and March 2017.

"Witness accounts suggest a pattern: raids in poor neighbourhoods conducted to arrest 'criminals' without a judicial warrant; the killing of young men who fit the profile, in some cases in their homes; and finally security forces tampering with the scene so that the killings would appear to have occurred in an exchange of fire," says the report, subtitled, "A Downward Spiral With No End In Sight".

So I have to ask ... HOW does a country that allows its' security forces to trample all over the rights -- the MOST BASIC OF RIGHTS -- get to be on the UN Human Rights Council?

This Council, much like the Security (or is it Lack of Security) Council, is completely and totally useless.  Both, are making the United Nations look more and more like a joke, and a complete waste of finances from countries that show up in the first list I made note of above.

The fact that ANY country in the third list noted above, is part of the Human Rights Council, is proof that there needs to be a MAJOR re-commitment to real and actual human rights.  If not, perhaps it's time for Canada to withdraw from the United Nations.

In doing so, we will be unencumbered in seeking other countries to actually accomplish the so-called responsibilities of the UN

- the maintenance of international peace and security
- the protection human rights
- to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character
promote sustainable development
  
After all, the UN Charter gives the United Nations powers which are:
... considered an international treaty.  As such, it is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it.  The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations

As of late, the UN has been less and less an organization that promotes peace, and the protection of human rights, and more an organization that is all talk, and little to no action.  Should our federal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reduce our role in the UN, or leave it entirely?

That's the question for each of us to consider.  Is it time for Canada to leave the UN?  I'd like to hear from you on this, so please be a part of the conversation by posting your comments below.

In Kamloops, I'm Alan Forseth.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

HEADLINE SAYS: "Province opens the door to housing investment on reserves"


HEADLINE SAYS:  "Province opens the door to housing investment on reserves".  And with that came news that British Columbia would be the first province in Canada to, "invest provincial housing funds into on-reserve housing."

 

BUT HOLD ON A MINUTE, isn't providing funding for safe and affordable on-reserve First Nations housing a Federal responsibility?  Yes it is.  And it is provided for already.  A government website, for Indigenous Service Canada, under the heading of First Nations Housing, states:

"Budget 2017 and Budget 2018 propose dedicated funding of $600 million over three years to support First Nation housing on reserve as part of a Housing Strategy that is being developed with First Nations.

Budget 2016 provided $416.6 million over two years, through the former Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (now Indigenous Services Canada), to improve on-reserve housing conditions, reduce overcrowding and increase health and safety. This was in addition to about $143 million annually provided by the department to First Nations to support a range of housing needs
."


Further, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada goes on to state that (after providing the funding), "Providing and managing housing on-reserve is the responsibility of First Nations."

NOT ALL First Nations communities have chosen to opt-in to the housing program, however those that have, can use the funding for a variety of needs including:

  • construction
  • lot servicing
  • renovation
  • maintenance
  • insurance
  • debt servicing
  • planning and managing their housing portfolio
  • mould remediation


Other Government of Canada departments, also have programs available to support housing on-reserve

With news from the government yesterday, of this new housing program, Terry Teegee, Regional Chief, of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations was quoted as saying:
We have never seen such a commitment from a provincial government for on-reserve housing investments. I applaud the leadership of Premier Horgan and his ministers. Housing is a fundamental human right, and impacts a wide range of societal needs, including security, health for families and employment. First Nations in B.C. seek to improve a major gap in housing needs. This is an important step for building stronger First Nations’ communities.”

Of course they have never seen such an initiative.  That's because it is NOT a provincial responsibility.  The federal government has primary jurisdiction over, and financial responsibility for, all of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.

Does that mean I do not believe that First Nations people deserve to have safe and affordable housing?  Of course not!  As Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs states ... security of body and health, safety, and family all rate as one of the most basic of needs.  Necessities in fact I would say, as they are part of the foundation for our well-being.  In other words, safe and affordable housing definitely fits the bill.

That said, there are clearly defined roles of responsibility that are set out in the Canadian Constitution, and that have been agreed to.  The BC NDP government of John Horgan has decided, however, to muddy the waters further in an area only just recently getting muddied.

Through the new Building BC Indigenous Housing Fund, the BC government has committed itself to supply an additional $550 million over the next 10 years to build and operate 1,750 new units of social housing for projects, both on- and off-reserve -- above and beyond funding already committed by the federal government.

At the risk of being declared a racist, let me be clear in stating, "First Nations housing is undeniably a responsibility of the federal government -- it is not a provincial responsibility"

I urge Premier John Horgan to reverse this announcement, and to fully apologize to the First Nations community of BC for making an announcement such as was done.

THEN, as he (and many others) obviously believe this are of housing is not being adequately provided for, he should initiate a meeting with the federal government to discuss the problem, and find a solution.

In Kamloops, I'm Alan Forseth.  Please feel free to express your thoughts in the Comment section below.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Lower production, product inventory levels increasing, and employment down. That, does not sound good to me


The latest from BC Stats (June 15th) shows a possible reason for falling employment in British Columbia last month.  Using information from Stats Canada (https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/180615/dq180615b-eng.htm), BC Stats reported that manufacturing sales (seasonal adjusted) dropped in April, compared to the month before.  The drop was 1.3%, to $56.2 billion ... this was the first drop following two months of increases.

That said, in that one sector of the Canadian economy alone, sales were down in 10 of 21 industries -- and sales were down a whopping 49.6%.  Leading the way was sales of transportation equipment manufacturing (-15.2%). In addition, large decreases were seen in the sale of electrical equipment, appliance and components (-8.1%) as well as non-metallic mineral product manufacturing (‑7.7%).

Averaged across Canada, the sale of manufactured goods saw a decline of 1.3% in April compared to the previous month of March.  Sales in the petroleum and coal products and transportation equipment accounted for much of that decrease.

The report went on to state :
Manufacturing sales were down in six of the provinces, with the largest provincial decreases observed in Prince Edward Island (-8.6%) and Alberta (-5.3%). Meanwhile, Saskatchewan (+6.7%) and Nova Scotia (+3.4%) saw the leading percentage growth rates in the month.

Inventory Levels Increase (Seasonally Adjusted)
SOURCE: Table 16-10-0047-01
The Stats Canada report also showed what to me should be a bit of a cause for concern ... inventory levels (of product) rose 2.2% in April to $81.2 billion, a seventh consecutive monthly increase. The largest inventory increase occurred in the petroleum and coal products industry (+6.6%). Inventory levels also rose in the transportation equipment (+2.2%), machinery (+3.7%) and food products (+2.9%) industries.

As I reported in my post from June 12th:
"In British Columbia, employment fell by 12,000 in the month, according to Stats Canada.  For the first time since May 2015, employment in British Columbia recorded virtually no growth on a year-over-year basis, the agency notes in a report."

Checking for myself, the June 8th Issue 18-102 Labour Force Statistics confirms, and I quote ... "There were 16,000 fewer full-time jobs in May, while 3,600 part-time jobs were added since April."


What am I seeing?  Lower production, product inventory levels increasing, and employment down.  That, does not sound good to me.

I'm Alan Forseth in Kamloops.  The floors yours now, so feel free to comment below.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Am I being a 'protectionist'? You bet, but only as long as we don't have a level playing field to play on


This afternoon June 13th), Sheila Gunn, from the Rebel media, sent me an email asking me to stand up for Maxine Bernier.  She stated:

"Last night, Andrew Scheer fired Maxine Bernier from the Conservative Party’s shadow cabinet.  The reason? Bernier, the party’s most popular MP from Quebec, opposes “supply management" for Quebec’s dairy industry.

Of course, supply management is just a fancy way of saying: we all have to pay triple the normal price for milk, cheese and yogurt, because Quebec dairy farmers have managed to lobby Ottawa for subsidies.

It makes the rest of us hundreds of dollars poorer every year, and it benefits a handful of Quebec businessmen."

Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to pay anymore than I have too, but I also DO NOT want to see Canadian farmers, ranchers, and dairy producers driven out of business.  Contrary to want anyone has to say, American producers ARE SUBSIDIZED ... and subsidized in a BIG way.

From February 8th, 2018:
... the American government continues to provide massive levels of support to its agri-food sector at federal, state, and local levels ... in 2015 (for example), the American government doled out approximately $22.2 billion dollars in direct and indirect subsidies to the U.S. dairy sector ... when it comes to farm support, the U.S. has the deepest pockets; deeper even than the European Union. Our study provides detail nationally, and on a state basis, the losses to U.S. dairy farmers. USDA data reveals that for more than a decade, U.S. farm gate prices for milk fail to cover costs of production

Gunn, in her email to me and many others, went on to say:
Andrew Scheer is the leader of the Conservative Party. But if he’s going to purge everyone who doesn’t believe in special subsidies for Quebec lobbyists, it’s going to be a pretty small party.

P.S. I’m from a farm family. I remember when the party fought against the Soviet-style Canadian Wheat Board. Since when are the Conservatives the party of Quebec lobbyists

But again, I have to ask, who IS getting subsidies?  The Americans definitely are, they just don't like to talk about them because it doesn't really fit with their mantra of free markets, rugged individualism, and survival of the fittest.

Don't believe me?  Well here's more proof. Sean Haney, founder of realagriculture.com, says:

One of the things we are seeing is that the way dairy industries are supported on both sides of the border are different.  Canada on the front end, is clearly supported through the quota system. In the U.S., it’s more through other means like MPP (Margin Protection Program), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and so forth.”


In a story yesterday (June 12th), the CBC said:
Canadian defenders of the supply management system say U.S. President Donald Trump is "stunningly hypocritical" for attacking dairy supports while politicians in Washington hand out billions in subsidies to American farmers — and levy punishing tariffs of their own on some commodities.

We can go back even further to show this is nothing recent, and in fact US food producers have been getting a big helping hand from Uncle Sam for a long time.  On November 25th, 2010, the Globe and Mail had a story that indicated:

There are few places in the world where farming is a
truly free market activity -- least of all the United States.

They went on to quote Ottawa trade consultant Peter Clark, who wrote a report for the Dairy Farmers of Canada. "The U.S. continues to provide massive -- sometimes unreported to the World Trade Organization -- support at the federal, state and local government level to U.S. agriculture".

And finally, from Real Agriculture comes a statement that sums it up quite succinctly ... U.S. dairy subsidies equal 73 percent of producer returns, says new report


Canada long ago decide to let others provide us with many of the goods and services we require ... from food ... to clothing ... to furniture ... and more.  That means in a tit-fort-tat trade war, where we retaliate on US goods imported to Canada, we are going to loose.  We need the products, and we no longer produce and manufacture enough here in our own country to meet our own needs.

Trump is a lose cannon, and as long as he is in the White House, Canadians can be nervous about him slapping tariffs on any number of products we do manufacture and ship to the States.

Don't be misled ... whether by Maxine Bernier ... or Sheila Gunn.  If we do not want marketing boards in Canada, then the US better follow suite by dropping the billions in subsidies the provide their food industry.  Canada must insist those subsidies end, before we make any changes to marketing boards.  If not, we can watch as what's left of the family farm also becomes a sunset industry.

Sheila wants you to sign a petition demanding that Andrew Sheer re-instate Bernier.  I suggest instead you send her this column.  Am I being a 'protectionist'?  You bet, but only as long as we don't have a level playing field to play on.

I'm Alan Forseth in Kamloops.  The floors yours now so share your thoughts below in the comment section.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

One thing is certain, there were big job losses across all sectors of industry, including oil and gas


Across the province late last week, news media outlets dutifully reported that the unemployment rate in BC was down.  Down to 4.8% in May ... down from 5.0% in April and below the 5.6% from 12 months ago. 



Truth to tell, I don't actually recall many in the media reporting this -- perhaps due to the Ontario provincial election that saw Kathleen Wynne's LIBERAL party decimated by the Doug Ford Conservatives.



Even Kamloops own CFJC News reported, "Kamloops Un-Employment Rate Plunges to 5.9% in May".  But in their brief story, comes this fact ... around 1,500 fewer people looking for work (4,400) year-over-year) dropping the unemployment rate to 5.9 per cent.



It seems like only the Alaska Highway News (June 8th) however dug a little deeper.  Here's what they also included in their story:



"In British Columbia, employment fell by 12,000 in the month, according to Stats Canada.  For the first time since May 2015, employment in British Columbia recorded virtually no growth on a year-over-year basis, the agency notes in a report."



Checking for myself, the June 8th Issue 18-102 Labour Force Statistics confirms, and I quote ... "There were 16,000 fewer full-time jobs in May, while 3,600 part-time jobs were added since April."

Additionally, most of the full-time job losses (-11,700) were observed in what I would consider to be the most important age group ... 25 to 54.  I say that because this would be the age category of young married couples raising a family, trying to purchase a home, and providing for the needs of a young family.  Job losses in this category can certainly ripple across other employment sectors, creating a rippling effect of unemployment.


 


Job losses also saw no favorites, affecting both men and women.


 


For women (aged 25 years and over), employment decreased by 7,500 jobs in May, with the size of the labour force decreasing by 11,900.  I do not know the reason for this startling decrease, however with an on-going lack of job prospects, perhaps these women decided to stop looking for employment?  How could finding no prospect of work, and month after month, week after week do anything but create hopelessness.


 


Meantime employment for men (aged 25 years and over) also declined ... down by by 8,900 jobs.  And like the female side of the report, the size of the labour force also shrank, this time by 7,200. As a result, the unemployment rate for men actually increased to 4.7% in May.



Finally, the report notes that employment in the goods-producing sector was down (‑8,000 or ‑1.6%) in May. Most of the losses were felt by:

·         construction (‑5,400 or ‑2.2%) industry

·         agriculture (‑800 or ‑3.2%)

·         forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (‑700 or ‑1.4%)

·         manufacturing (‑700 or ‑0.4%)

·         and utilities (‑400 or ‑2.9%)



It's a tale of two different stories; two side of the same coin.  The full statistical report was clearer on actual job losses, while the brief BC Stats Info Highlights painted the rosy picture by starting out saying, "The unemployment rate in British Columbia was 4.8% in May, down from 5.0% in April and below the 5.6% from 12 months ago" ... and then hoping no one read much past that. 

That's because unemployment in the 3 worst regions (out of 7 in total) is MUCH HIGHER:

  • Thompson Okanagan (including the city of Kamloops where I make my home) the unemployment rate is 6.8%
  • In the North East region the unemployment rate is 7.9%
  • And for North Coast / Nechako unemployment stands at 8.8% -- highest in the province



How much uncertainty over Kinder Morgan's TransMountain pipeline played a role in these job losses is hard to know.  One thing is certain however, job losses were across all sectors of industry, including oil and gas.  AND ... on-going and continued interference by the GreeNDP government, played one of the biggest roles in that.



Despite the bcLIBERALS recent found 'we're on he band-wagon supporting Kinder-Morgan', the reality is, only one party has been fully is support of building an affordable British Columbia.  One through DOES ADVOCATE for safe and responsible resource development, well paying jobs, and respect for taxpayers dollars.  That party is the BC Conservatives.   

Unquestionably, given past experience, it is definately NOT the Andrew Wilkinson led bcLIBERALS.



I'm Alan Forseth in Kamloops, and those are my thoughts today.  I'd love to hear what you think, so please take a moment to post a comment below.