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BC Municipal Elections

November 17, 2011

If you’re voting in the British Columbia municipal elections I recommend you read Michael Geller’s recent blog post. It can be found at: http://gellersworldtravel.blogspot.com/2011/11/please-read-this-before-you-vote.html.

The part I found most entertaining and accurate is as follows:

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching third grade this year.
The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest.
I decided we would have an election for a class president.
We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote.
To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members.
We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have.
We got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot.

The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids.
I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support.
I had never seen Olivia’s mother.
The day arrived when they were to make their speeches Jamie went first.
He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place.
He ended by promising to do his very best.
Everyone applauded.
He sat down and Olivia came to the podium.

Her speech was concise.
She said, “If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream.”
She sat down.
The class went wild. “Yes! Yes! We want ice cream.”
She surely would say more.
She did not have to.
A discussion followed.
How did she plan to pay for the ice cream?
She wasn’t sure.
Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it.
She didn’t know.
The class really didn’t care.
All they were thinking about was ice cream.

Jamie was forgotten.
Olivia won by a land slide.
All candidates running for office offer ice cream.
Fifty percent of the people react like nine year-olds.
They want ice cream.
The other fifty percent know they’re going to have to feed the cow and clean up the mess.

On the odd occasion I’ll post something of a more casual or personal nature – this is one of those posts.

My wife and I just returned from a week long vacation which included a stop in Astoria, Oregon.  We were on the Holland America Line cruise ship MS Zaandam and had the great opportunity to observe Columbia River Bar Pilots embark and disembark our ship on the bar and while underway.

April 24, 2010, Columbia River Bar

These Bar Pilots are the unsung heroes of the waterfront.  They help pilot more than 4,000 ships across the Columbia River Bar each year.

This small stretch of water, also known as Cape Disappointment or the Graveyard of the Pacific, has destroyed more than 2000 boats and taken more than 700 lives.   It’s treacherous because this is where the massive outflow of the Columbia River meets waves that have travelled across the Pacific Ocean.  This confluence can make for very steep, very tight and very confused seas.  In fact, because of how rough it can become, this  is where all US Coast Guard personnel go to cut their teeth on inclement weather training.

The picture I have appended above shows one of the Bar Pilots’ two boats.  Pilots either jump off of or onto the bow of the pilot boat after having travelled a ladder hung over the side of the ship.  This has to take place regardless of weather or time of day and can, understandably, be very dangerous.

If you find yourself in the Portland area or vacationing on the Oregon Coast I highly recommend a visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum.  It has a great tribute to the pilots and their colleagues who pilot the river itself.  We’ve been twice and will likely go again.

Visit http://www.columbiariverbarpilots.com to learn more about the Bar Pilots.

I am volunteering on the current provincial election campaign in British Columbia. I decided to help out because I think this is likely the most important provincial election during my adult lifetime. For those of you who know me well, you know that I have been saying this for about a year now.

Tomorrow is election day in British Columbia and we have two choices. One takes us forward and the other takes us backward. One will ensure pragmatic management of our province’s finances, the other will squander them through populist leadership and ingrained special interests. One will expand upon eight years of rebuilding, re energizing, refocusing and re-establishing British Columbia as a leader in Canada.

I am a third generation British Columbian was born in Vancouver in 1973. I went to elementary and high school here and have attended both the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. I’ve boated our entire coast and driven a lot of the province as well – as far north as Prince George and as far east as the Albertan border. I’ve worked in small business most of my life having owned two of my own. 

British Columbia is a great place – indeed, it is the best place on earth. I believe that fervently. 

The only time in my life when I felt I didn’t belong in my home province was in the 1990’s. It was a time when, for the first and only time in our province’s history, British Columbia became a have-not province – our real GDP per capita was $4040 less than Canada’s. It was a time when record deficits were run and our province’s debt load ballooned. It was a time when our income per capita was more than $500 less than Canada’s. And while we as taxpayers were making and keeping less of our own money, it was also a time when our money was squandered on pet projects like the BC Ferries fast cats. Those were dark days for BC.

Where are we now? 

1) We are in the grips of a worldwide recession. 
2) Our baby boomers are aging. The leading edge turned 62 in 2008 – that means they are going to start retiring, earning less income (and paying less tax) and consuming more services, particularly health care services. 
3) Our health care system is stressed.
4) Our universities are struggling under the pressures of deteriorating endowments from thew economic downturn. 
5) Our forestry sector, particularly in the northern region where Rebecca and I maintain a home, is dealing with the devastation of their crops with the mountain pine beetle infestation.

But with all this there is a sense of optimism. Notwithstanding our current pressures, British Columbians believe our future is bright. Why? In part, it’s because of the resilience of the people of our province. But I also believe it’s because our provincial government has managed our affairs well. 

When I look around and the see the kinds of capital projects our province has been able to undertake even in these difficult times I’m amazed. The Sea-to-Sky highway, the Olympic Oval, the new Skytrain infrastructure, the Port Mann bridge project and innumerable road and highway improvements all over BC (I know, I’ve driven it). We see a BC Ferry operation that has seen remarkable improvements (with boats delivered on time and well under-budget), a port in Port Alberni that is growing leaps and bounds, an airport in Prince George that now has one of longest runways in North America (allowing it bid for the valuable air freight traffic that currently stops in Alaska) and I could on.

With the current government we have leadership that understands there is “no such thing as government money” and we have leadership that has the experience and the track record in successfully managing through difficult economic circumstances.

These are my thoughts. The most important thing to me, though, is that you vote in tomorrow’s election. 

Exercise your franchise and make your choice!