Did the B.C. government forget about Premier Christy Clark’s promise of nicotine-replacement therapies at no cost to the smokers? The Daily News in Kamloops recalls that Ms. Clark announced in early May the choice of either free nicotine or patches for up to three months was to be available by Sept. 30. But pharmacies have received no information yet from the provincial government on exactly how the program is to be implemented. “With such a costly and potentially popular program, it’s surprising that those who will actually dispense the quit-smoking products have so little information to go on,” the newspaper writes.
“Let’s hope the Province plans a last-minute push to educate pharmacists and ordinary British Columbians about the program so smokers can take advantage of the opportunity to get government help. It would be a shame if the quit-smoking program is under-subscribed due to poor planning or a lack of information.”
“It’s almost impossible for even a week to go by without some new demonstration of the serious level of confusion and arrogance represented by the premier and cabinet of the BC Liberal Party,” writes Allan Hewitson, columnist in the Kitimat Northern Sentinel, in an scathing column on the Vancouver hockey riot.
No one was thrilled with the riot, he writes, but events since the riot have been a bit of disgrace.
“Turns out most of the close to half-a-million dollars already spent by the government in “getting to the bottom” of the riot has wound up in the pockets of friends and relatives of friends,” Mr. Hewitson writes. “The friends were Olympics supremo John Furlong and former Nova Scotia deputy attorney-general John Keefe who co-chaired the provincial investigation at a cost of $313,000. And then [they] hired the husband of one of Clark’s aides, former Vancouver Sun deputy general manager Stewart Muir, spouse of Christy Clark’s deputy minister for corporate priorities (whatever that is) Athana Mentzolopolous, to ghost-write their thoughts for an undisclosed sum of money.”
The city, Vancouver police and the Liberal government are “a laughing stock” for their erratic performance since the riot, Mr. Hewitson says. The recommendations of the provincial report were predictable, he adds. Taxpayers remain concerned about proposals for more officers, more equipment, better training, more money and particularly for more surveillance camera, even before the first case has gone to court, he says.
The Prince George Citizen looks at government-regulated gambling in the province and says it’s time to bring the focus back to what matters. “It seems we’ve become so accepting of gambling we’ve forgotten why we allow it to exist in the first place,” says an editorial in the Prince George Citizen.
“We seem to have forgotten there’s a reason gambling is allowed in B.C. despite evidence it’s addictive and can ruin lives, and organized crime types use it to launder money: revenue is supposed to support the province’s needy, many of those through non-profit groups,” the paper says. However the government has slashed funds to community groups while giving money to casinos to fix up their venues. “So a glitzy facility gets money to add more bells and lights to entice gamblers while a seniors support group barely scrapes enough together to feed its needy clients. Very bad optics,” the newspaper says.
Cutting down “culturally modified trees” has sparked a clash of cultures in Kitimat, the Northern Sentinel reports. Haisla chief councillor Ellis Ross says Enbridge cut culturally modified trees on the proposed site for the terminal for the 1,150 kilometres Gateway pipeline from Alberta.
Ross told the newspaper that Enbridge offered $100,000 in compensation, which the first nations dismissed as an insult. “You can’t just look at it as a tree. It is evidence that links us to the past and has significance to us more than just the commercial value of the cedar tree,” he said. The Haisla were also concerned that Enbridge proposed a cleansing ceremony. The Haisla suspected that Enbridge was going to use the tree-cutting as a public relations exercise. Cleansing ceremonies were rare and dealt with personal issues, not legal or political, he told the newspaper. Haisla people would take offence if the ceremony was used in this context. He told the company on more than one occasion, “[you] are not getting into our culture like that,” the chief councillor says.
Meanwhile in federal politics
Smithers is calling on Ottawa to pick up a bigger share of the cost of RCMP policing in its municipality. Smithers Mayor Cress Farrow has proposed that all residents in the Regional District of Bukley-Nechako pay the same tax rate to cover policing. Currently police services cost $65 a year outside of Smithers and $365 for Smithers residents.
“It would be exactly the same as school taxes,” he said. “That’s a fair way to do it.” Other mayors have threatened to abandon the RCMP altogether if Ottawa doesn’t bend in cost-sharing discussions during the current round of negotiations on renewing its contract in B.C. A dozen B.C. cities have their own police forces and 60 municipalities contract the RCMP.