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On by-elections, pipelines and strife in the classroom

BC Conservative leader John Cummins in Vancouver March 29, 2011.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

BC Conservative leader John Cummins went to Chilliwack, where a by-election is to be held early next year, to respond to Liberals who say the revival of the BC Conservative Party will split the right wing vote. Mr. Cummins says the BC Conservative candidate in the by-election can win without touching the BC Liberals' voter base by drawing support from the 48 percent in the riding who didn't vote in the last provincial election, The Chilliwack Progress reports.

"We're drawing support from those folks who stayed home because they didn't like the choices that were out there," he said. "Now they're coming to us." The NDP will form a majority NDP government without the BC Conservatives in the next provincial election, he said. "By 2013 we're going to be the guys to beat," Mr. Cummins said. "It will be ours for the taking."


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BC has taken a step backwards by allow late-night staff at convenience stores and gas stations to work alone, says the Nanaimo News Bulletin. BC brought in legislation requiring drivers to pay before pumping gas, glass barriers to protect workers and at least two workers on graveyard shifts.

The legislation dubbed Grant's Law, was introduced after Grant de Patie, a gas station attendant in Maple Ridge, was run over and dragged to death while trying to stop a driver from stealing gas. WorkSafe BC accepted that two employees late at night was too costly for convenience stores. Instead, stores could just keep a limited amount of cash and lottery tickets on hand and install time-lock safes, video surveillance and good lighting. "The decision to amend Grant's Law does nothing to improve or maintain workers' safety. It suggests these minimum-wage workers aren't worth protecting," the newspaper says. "If convenience stores and gas stations can't make enough profit in the middle of the night to assure the safety of their workers, then they shouldn't be open for business."


BC Premier Christy Clark has not yet revealed the province's position on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, a controversial pipeline from Alberta to the West Coast. But Prince Rupert has now tentatively put its name on the lengthy list of opponents to the proposed pipeline. Prince Rupert's The Northern View reports that a draft of its written submission to government hearings on the proposed pipeline slated to begin next month says oil tankers sailing out of Kitimat pose too much a risk to the pristine marine environment.

"The thrust of the City's argument is that many of the existing industries in Prince Rupert depend on a clean marine environment for survival," the newspaper reports. "Prince Rupert's tourism for instance relies on it for everything from the nice views for drawing in tourists, to sports fishing and grizzly bear tours. Needless to say a Prince William Sound-esque [Exxon Valdez]oil spill would put much of the economic activity in jeopardy not to mention the destruction of marine habitat," says the draft submission.

The report also notes that salmon, halibut, herring, crabs and a host of other marine species generate tens of millions of dollars for the Prince Rupert and regional economy. The City advocates that the National Energy Board 's joint review panel for assessing the pipeline project use a "triple bottom line" approach, assessing social benefits as well as environmental and economic values.


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It's not a matter of politics when considering the BC Teachers Federation job action, says the Nelson Star. "Since schools re-opened in September, the education system has been under massive stress. The job action has made the last three months challenging to say the least. Administrators are overworked, teachers are torn, parents are upset and students are not getting the education they deserve. And it's far from over. The sides are still massively far apart and when they return to the table on January 4, there is still much work to be done," the newspaper says.

But the editorial does not take sides. "We are not going to get into the blame game. Both the BC Public School Employers Association [who are on the side of government]and the BC Teachers' Federation deserve to share the blame. The large majority have long since tuned out the politics and posturing. We just want a deal," the paper says. "Students will return to class in January under the same damaged situation which they have endured for the last three-plus months. It's too bad that in the spirit of the season both sides of this dispute couldn't have something special for under the tree."


Meanwhile, in federal politics:

The agreement between Canada and the US to speed up trade and travel, improve security in North America and align regulatory approaches received an enthusiastic endorsement from Prince Rupert's The Northern View. "The announcement of new regulations relating to the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada is not only welcome, but also makes quite the statement to shippers around the globe," the newspaper says in an editorial.

The Border Action Plan means that cargo shipped from Asia will be sent by rail to the US without having to be checked again at the Canada-US border. "This announcement sent a message to the world that the Canadian Government is not only aware of the importance of Prince Rupert as a gateway to the Asia-Pacific, but that it is committed to it. And that can only be a good thing for Prince Rupert and the port authority," the paper says. "For those who wondered to what extent Prince Rupert was on the national radar in terms of the import/export business, this speaks volumes."

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