Premier Christy Clark tells the provincial legislature to take the entire fall session off, but the politicians will still cash fat paycheques at our expense for the extended rest. Sure, they work hard at all those photo opps when they're not in session, but when's the last time any of the North Shore's Liberal MLAs made headlines for really showing initiative or innovative battling on our behalf anyway?
Meanwhile, we're seeing the first sensible move on cannabis use and control since Pierre Trudeau blinked on the Le Dain Commission's report back in the Ice Age. That Public Notice you saw last week from Elections B.C. could mean a lot. If successful, the application for an initiative petition to amend the Police Act would see the province call on the feds to repeal the current prohibition on cannabis, or exempt B.C. so that it could tax and regulate its use similar to other adultuse drugs like alcohol and tobacco. This follows several U.S. states that have ballot measures on cannabis this fall.
Initiative petitions are a long-shot: organizers need 400,000 signatures in just 90 days, but it's a sign of the times that we're finally talking about this. Apart from the taxes that could fund healthcare improvements, we'd see a massive positive impact on backlogged provincial court cases, and valuable police resources would be freed to go after the real bad guys in the white-powder trade.
Provincially, B.C. Conservatives are still in a knot about the leadership challenge to party leader John Cummins. Yet federal Conservative support for the party remains strong, and it's no secret that Stephen Harper would be pleased to see the Liberal brand evaporate in B.C. At a Chinatown business luncheon I attended this past week, free enterprise interests spoke discretely of their willingness to entertain a minority NDP government after the provincial dust-up in late spring - until the Conservatives find a new starting quarterback.
The name that rises most often is Stockwell Day, now a B.C. resident. Conditioned by Toronto media's congenitally anti-Western political bias, some might laugh at that. However, I heard Day speak at a high-powered downtown event earlier this summer. His eloquence, obvious sincerity and respectful tone caught me off-guard. Whether he'd want the responsibility is unclear, but after the drunks, rich-kids and velcro-lipped crew we've endured for years in B.C. politics, Day would capture attention. The election is still a long way off though - plenty of time for every dirty trick in the playbook.
In the aftermath of Liberal Party misfortunes in Quebec, Justin Trudeau is the most recognizable Liberal name federally as that leadership scrap gets underway. But surely he's not ready. The main challenger is Marc Garneau, former astronaut with dignity, courage and a PhD - an attractive candidate. In When the Gods Changed: The Death of Liberal Canada, 82yearold party insider and former Deep Cove yachtsman Peter C. Newman suggests looking out for Dominic LeBlanc. A New Brunswick Acadian, at 45 he's been a four-time MP and is the son of former governorgeneral, senator and Liberal MP Roméo LeBlanc.
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Closer to home, you don't get invited to the lighting of a sacred fire every day. You may have seen this paper's front-page photograph of Tsleil-Waututh elder Leonard George at this event last Sunday.
At 7 a.m. of a Friday morning on the first overcast day in ages, seabirds were flocking up the inlet and you could feel the weather shift. The first 20 or so people who'd felt the call were there at Whey-ah Wichen, Cates Park: First Nations neighbours from the reserve; John McCandless, the Stein Valley activist; poet Jamie Reid; Rev. Stephanie Shepard of St. Timothy's Anglican Church, Burnaby; a young restorative justice worker; and other regular folks. Across the inlet, the lights at the Chevron refinery glimmered in the early morning fog. As he blessed the ground with tobacco and offered up his prayers for the health and protection of the inlet, it wasn't hard to see his dad, Chief Dan George, in Leonard who looks very much an elder nowadays.
It was the last day of summer and as the sun budged above the hills you could feel the autumn transformation ahead. The Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion proposal for the inlet here has plenty of locals concerned. Offering up a prayer didn't seem out of order at all.
Gabe George, Leonard's son, now a powerful speaker in his own right, explained: "To our people, the fire is like a window to the spirit world - it's a connection. We invite your prayers, or if you don't believe in prayer we invite your good intentions."
The fire took and the smoke carried up people's prayers and intentions. It was a gentle ceremony. Someone brought coffee and lemon cake, people sat in camping chairs and on drift logs. Leonard told the story of the First Woman who came from out of the inlet - everybody's grandmother - and how people here have been charged with protecting the waters ever since. Gabe chanted a big dreamsong from Haytem Rock. The stories, myths and religious tales continued through the day. People walked to the fire, offered up blessings, prayed for loved ones in hospital, for young people in trouble, shared their lives. Leonard was there all along, keeping the fire - a glimpse into what it was always like, way way back.
Then everything was tidied without a trace left behind. Sacred ecology. A different kind of politics.