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The politics of power picks up steam in B.C.

Gary Murphy, Chief Project Officer for Smart Metering at BC Hydro, opens a box containing smart meter units which will be installed in homes around BC in the coming months. The smart meters wirelessly transmit data back to BC Hydro.

Brett Beadle/brett beadle The Globe and Mail

"The provincial government's $30-million payout to Boss Power Corp. stinks," says The Alaska Highway News in Fort St John.

"Taxpayers are paying compensation to the company because the government bungled its ban on uranium mining. The last minute-settlement suggests the government paid a premium so damaging evidence wouldn't be heard in court. And there is every reason to believe politicians ordered government managers to break the law and penalized a manager who tried to do the right thing," an unsigned column in the newspaper says.

The out-of-court settlement with Boss Power Corp. over the uranium claim brings to mind the decision to cover $6-million in legal costs to head off revelation of potentially damaging evidence in the BC Rail case, the columnist says.

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"We do not know who gave the order to ignore the company's application . . . We don't know how much the settlement costs rose because of the government's abuse of power," the paper says. "We do know that a government that cannot find money to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities came up with $30-million to keep potentially damaging evidence about plans to develop an uranium deposit from being heard in court."


Opposition continues to grow to the introduction of smart meters. Newspapers on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Kamloops and southeastern B.C. weighed in this week with critical reports.

"When BC Hydro says smart meters are harmless, forgive us if we reserve judgment until we have all the facts and all the data," says an editorial in the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial on Vancouver Island. On three recent occasions, BC Hydro either misled or misinformed the public, the paper says.

"We don't believe BC Hydro intentionally misled us . . . .but it begs the question: if Hydro staff can't present clear data and hard facts about something as simple as when and where and how smart meters will be installed, how can we trust anything else they've said about the devices?"


Some Gulf Islanders are trying to have their islands declared a " smart-meter-free zone."

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The public was never consulted, says Chris Anderson, chair of Gulf Islanders for Safe Technology, in the Gulf Islands Driftwood. "It's the disappearance of the ability to chose a safe, private environment for ourselves, he says.

The Daily News in Kamloops urged BC Hydro to sponsor independent reviews and third-party testing on the issues of emissions from smart meters. "BC Hydro tells us meters will emit for no more than one minute a day, in four to six bursts," a newspaper editorial says. This is a statement that residents need more assurance on, the paper says.

In Castlegar in southeast B.C., Linda Louise, in an opinion piece in the Castlegar News urges those concerned about smart meters to let their voices be heard when FortisBC seeks approval of the BC Utilities Commission for wireless smart meters for gas in the Okanagan and Kootenays. "For people who are already electronically sensitive, it is going to be a living nightmare," she writes. "We will be receiving constant radiation from not only our own meter but from our neighbours' and from the collector tower somewhere in the neighbourhood."


Teachers should not be investigating allegations of misconduct against teachers, says the Kamloops Daily News.

Education Minister George Abbott has proposed a BC Teachers Council to replace the BC College of Teachers. The new council will outline standards on competency, conduct and discipline. A new disciplinary board will be made up of three members, with only one board member from the teachers' union. "Teachers and their union may opt to view this move as a slap, but should instead see it as an opportunity for greater accountability to those they serve," the newspaper says. "Everyone's seen what little faith the public has in police investigating their own, why should teachers be any different? All are arguably professionals tasked with a duty of public trust." The proposed change removes any perception of bias that teachers are trying to protect their own, the newspaper says.

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Meanwhile in federal politics:

The federal Conservatives' campaign promise to scrap the long–gun registry is a commitment that should be broken, says the Nanaiomo News Bulletin. The main arguments against the registry are the $2-billion cost and the additional red-tape for those who register their guns. However, police across the country praise the registry for helping them do their job better by tracking down stolen firearms, the paper says. Police use the registry thousands of times each day. "The gun registry was a massively expensive and complicate undertaking. Eliminating it and all the evidence of its existence is a massive mistake," the newspaper says.

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