"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rainbow logic supports rainbow crosswalk

Pride Flag: Strikingly similar to "diversity" crosswalk.
And so, Coquitlam will now have its very own “rainbow” crosswalk, lovingly applied along a strip of pedestrian pavement directly south of city hall at the western side of the intersection of Pinetree Way and Burlington Avenue. The multi-hued fixture will surely enliven the city hall precinct, even as it stands as a testament to some dubious decision-making and the power of virtue signalling.
Exactly what the rainbow crosswalk will officially stand for is still not quite settled. Reasonable folks, who are relatively familiar with recent history, might conclude that it is a sign of support for the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transexual-Questioning (LGBTQ) “community.” But the majority of council say this is not actually the case.
Rather, they say it is a sign of the city’s acceptance and even celebration of diversity. But, surely, such an assertion contradicts the rainbow crosswalk’s colourful history.
The idea to create rainbow crosswalks appears to have first emerged in West Hollywood as part of the 2012 Gay Pride Month celebrations. Why a rainbow? As Wikipedia says, “The rainbow flag or gay pride flag, is associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and LGBT activities around the world.”
The direct connection between the rainbow crosswalk and LGBT(Q) was just as clear when, in 2013, Vancouver unveiled Canada's first permanent rainbow crosswalk in the West End to help mark the city’s Pride Week. Councillor. Tim Stevenson explained that the crosswalk helped reflect the area's significance as the city’s “gay village”. He is quoted by the Georgia Straight as saying, “This really does mark the strongest support the city has ever shown towards the GLBTQ community.”
Now, given that council has a longstanding policy not to issue proclamations in support of any specific group or cause, and given that the installation of a rainbow crosswalk would surely constitute a de facto proclamation in support of the aforementioned “community,” one might conclude that Council would not, could not, and would never support the installation of said crosswalk.
But this is where it gets cute. When making her presentation to Council in Committee last month, Nicola Spurling argued that the rainbow crosswalk was not actually a symbol of support only for those identifying as LGBTQ, but was a “a universal symbol of acceptance…”
Rainbow Crosswalk: Pro-LGBTQ or pro-diversity?
The majority of Council bought the argument but, even as they did, seemed to realize that many citizens might not view it so broadly, so they called for the crosswalk to be accompanied by an explanatory sign, that would say something like “diversity lives here.”
Hmmmm. I sincerely doubt that Council would have a similar reaction to, let’s say, a Christian group that came to council asking for crosswalk depicting Christ and his apostles –even though they might argue with great fervor and compelling rhetoric that Christ is a universal symbol of the power of love and peace, and what the world needs now is, certainly, more love and peace.
Neither would Council support the environmental-action Blue Dot group asking for images of the blue earth to fill crosswalks, even if it might argue with great passion and reason that the earth's environment is endangered, and that everyone loves the earth and we must protect it.
In both cases, it is true that the groups are invoking universally accepted or supported themes, but they are also using very particular images associated with their particular group in an attempt to advance those themes. Council would rightly adhere to the logic of its long-standing no-proclamation policy, and reject the overtures on the grounds that they constitute de facto proclamations in support of a particular group.
And that is the reason I voted last night against the installation of the crosswalk. It was not because of any opposition to the high ideals of inclusivity, just as I do not oppose the flowering of love and peace in the world, or the protection of Earth from pollution.
Rather, it is because, in supporting this crosswalk, Council is actually singling out for support one particular cause among the many scores of worthy causes that exist in the world. And that is simply unfair, unequal and inequitable.
Having lost that vote, however, I did support a second motion to have staff present a report back to Council in Committee on the options for explanatory signage designed to try to persuade the populace of our fine city that the Pride Crosswalk isn’t really a Pride Crosswalk. I look forward to the discussion that will surely follow.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Foreign-funded interest group seeks to sway next civic election

An organization called the Dogwood Initiative (also known as Dogwood BC|) has announced it intends to get involved in next year’s municipal election in Coquitlam. The environmental and government-reform group has every right to do so, of course, but the potential consequences of its involvement further bolster my ongoing argument that the provincial government should deliberate very carefully before enacting any municipal-level campaign-donation “reforms.”

Such reforms are top of mind this week because, with news that the NDP government’s first throne speech is to be delivered on Friday, Sept. 8, speculation has turned to what the contents of that speech may be. Many observers predict the Horgan government will have to address its longstanding commitment to introduce provincial campaign-donation reforms. 

This, in turn, leads me to wonder if the NDP will decide to act on municipal-level campaign-donation and -spending restrictions, as has been called for by some local politicians but which has been opposed repeatedly by me; moreover, such possible restrictions were the subject of a cautionary letter sent by Coquitlam Council to the three provincial party leaders last spring.

Faithful readers of this blog will recall that I have long argued that restrictions on corporate and/or union donations will severely handicap independent and unaffiliated candidates, unfairly helping candidates who are members of slates or parties, or who have the backing (and access to membership lists) of labour unions.

What is also evident is that, if severe donation restrictions are put in place, outside special-interest groups will likely end up playing a bigger role, not only in pre-campaign marketing, organizing and lobbying efforts, but also during campaigns themselves. It is easy to imagine a variety of issue-oriented groups moving into the vacuum created by hamstrung candidates who, because of donation and spending restrictions, will be unable to produce the flyers, pamphlets, and advertising they could produce in past election campaigns.

And here’s where Dogwood comes into the picture. The organization boasts on its website that it had a successful (but, in my eyes, largely unrecognized) impact on the last provincial election. “We had 71 election related events over the last two months across B.C.,” the group reported in early June. “We made 36,564 phone calls to get out the vote. We had 13,576 live conversations with our supporters. We texted 63,000 people. That is powerful.

“We made sure our supporters, those who want to stop Kinder Morgan, ban big money, and end thermal coal exports, showed up at their voting polls. We talked to people who weren’t sure who they were voting for or if they were voting. We helped British Columbians find their polling place and bring the right ID. And we know by how tight this election was that every vote counted — especially in those important ridings where anti-Kinder Morgan politicians were elected like Burnaby North, Coquitlam-Maillardville and Courtenay-Comox.“ 

Coquitlam residents should take special note of the fact that DI is, essentially, claiming credit for helping elect NDP MLA Selina Robinson and defeat BC Liberal candidate Steve Kim.

As suggested above, it is worth underlining that the DI is an enthusiastic supporter of banning “big money” from elections   and has even called a “corruption inquiry”into BC politics. Of course, the way I see it, a ban on so-called big money would undoubtedly strengthen the DI’s hand, giving it less competition in the marketplace of political ideas.

Moreover, the DI’s call to eliminate “big money” from politics can easily be seen as rather rich coming from an organization whose $2.2-million-dollar budget (for the year ended March 31, 2016) has its own share of “big money” revenue, to the tune of $922,447 in grants.

All this wouldn’t necessarily be of much interest to Coquitlam civic voters were it not for the fact that, on June 13, Alex McGowan, who identified himself as “the Dogwood BC Provincial Organizer in the area including Coquitlam,” told me in an email that his organization “recently made the decision to invest in building teams in the area from Burnaby to Maple Ridge in advanced [sic] of the 2018 municipal election.” He continued, “I know you are an incredible advocate in your community and I think we can find space to work together.”

I responded to his invitation to meet me by posing a series of questions, including these:
*From which organizations, and of what total, did you receive grants in 2016? 
*What were the services you provided, and to whom, that accounted for the reported $350,427 in "fee for service" revenue in 2016?
*Your organization's website celebrates the "behind the scenes" impact the DI had on the last provincial election. The site also states that the DI is a "registered sponsor" under the "Election Act." ... [W]hich candidates or parties did you sponsor, and how much did you spend in support of that sponsorship? (Please itemize).
*Is it the DI's intent to formally or informally support candidates, based on their support of your policies and or campaigns, in next year's municipal elections? If so, can those candidates expect to receive indirect or direct financial support from the DI? If so, how much?

Mr. McGowan’s responses were revealing for what he said and what he did not say. Most importantly, he revealed that the group receives an unspecified amount of funding from sources in the United States. Here is his complete answer on this subject:

“On fundraising: - 60% of Dogwood's funding comes from non-grant sources: individuals and earned revenue; none comes from government or corporations; among the foundations that support Dogwood several are based in Seattle, a city that shares the Salish Sea with British Columbia. Dogwood’s campaign decisions are independent from any financial influence since no single source provides more than 5% of total revenue. We receive donations from over 10,000 individual Canadians.”

He did not provide the names of any of those foreign funders. But a little Internet sleuthing turned up the fact that the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, which has been the subject of several exposes by National Post contributor Vivian Krause,  has been one of the DI’s major funders, pouring $187,425 into its coffers in2015 alone. 

One suspects that those BC voters, who are concerned about corporate and union donations to local politicians, would also be concerned about foreign advocacy groups’ support of a local special-interest group.

I am also wondering why Mr. McGowan did not answer my question about the nature of the “fee for service” revenue it received in 2016. He did say that, “We have registered as intervenors in the past three elections. We have never endorsed or financially supported any candidate or party as per our non-partisan status. We remain committed to that policy. Our election work continues to be about increasing turnout and engagement. In regards to election spending, all registered intervenors are required by law to submit detailed reports to all applicable election oversight bodies.”

That’s good information, but the non-partisanship implied by Mr. McGowan’s statement seems to be at odds with the declaration, quoted above, that, “We made sure our supporters, those who want to stop Kinder Morgan, ban big money, and end thermal coal exports, showed up at their voting polls.”


I had a brief phone chat this week with Mr. McGowan about some of the gaps in the information he supplied. We hope to have a fuller talk in the near future; if we do – and if any more details are forthcoming – I will update this article.

SEPT. 8.  I have now had a good discussion with Mr. McGowan about some of the issues I raised, above.
*On the fee-for-service issue, he stated firmly that DI does not sell its services to any political organization. Rather, its does training and consulting-type work for other non-profits.
*On the question of foreign donations, he stated that the amount the DI receives is "relatively small" and the money has been primarily used to support the DI's campaign to stop coal-port expansion.
*On the apparent conflict in values -- the DI is opposed to corporate and union funding of parties and candidates, but in favour of its receipt of foreign grants -- Mr. McGowan says the distinction is that the DI is not responsible for making decisions.
*On the possibility that, if successful, DI's opposition to union and corporate funding would create a more open playing field for DI and other organizations to influence public policy, he say Dogwood does not have the funds to run ads in every municipality.
*And, finally, on the apparent, de-facto partisanship, he said that, yes, the DI "definitely" wants to influence elections, but it does so by identifying party and candidate stances on crucial issues, and then communicating (to people they have identified who support the DI's goals) those stances. The DI does not specifically endorse or support any party or candidate, though.

For my part, I told him that it was my opinion that I am concerned about the impact of foreign money on local politics, that I believe its work constitutes de facto endorsement of candidates, and that the DI's anti-corporate and -union donations stance would, if implemented, unfairly favour candidates aligned with organized parties or slates, particularly if those parties and slates are affiliated with unions, which have access to volunteers and membership lists.

We agreed to disagree.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Green leader agrees to Coquitlam's call for 'careful deliberation' of campaign-spending reforms

The New Democrat-Green government in Victoria has pledged to ban corporate and union donations and to impose strict maximum-donation limits at the provincial level. Upon the announcement of the two-party pact (and, moreover, after the BC Liberals’ last-gasp Throne Speech, which delivered a flip-flop promise of campaign-financing reform), I feared that the new government would “double down” and automatically impose the same restrictions at the municipal level – something that I think would have a catastrophic impact on local-level politics.

I am pleased to report, however, that the leader of one of the two parties in the new political compact, Green leader Andrew Weaver, has, in response to a letter from Coquitlam Council urging caution in proceeding with such changes at the local level (a letter that was sent at my request and supported by all but one of my Council colleagues), issued a statement promising there will be “careful deliberation” before action is taken.

And thank goodness for that. As I have declared several times over the past few years and, moreover, have written in formal submissions to the provincial government on the matter, stringent donation regulations would have several unintended, negative consequences, the most worrisome of which is that they would severely handicap unaffiliated (i.e., independent) and new candidates, while at the same time giving an unfair advantage to political machines, parties, and those candidates who are affiliated with organizations that have a large membership base, such as labour unions. Please read one of my earlier blogs on the issue for a more complete analysis.

In Coquitlam’s letter to the leaders of the three political parties in the legislature, our mayor, Richard Stewart, pointed out that donors to municipal campaigns do not receive a tax credit for any portion of their donation, making the financing of said campaigns more difficult than those at the Provincial or Federal level.
Mayor Stewart continued that, In light of this, many candidates rely upon business or other organizational donations to support their campaigns to make up for the gap in individual contributions.

He also said that Coquitlam Council fears that removing this mechanism of support could lead to a dearth of candidates seeking local elected office, thereby increasing the power of incumbency and limiting voices from across the political spectrum. As well, he worried that such changes may also encourage an increase in slate politics and affiliated councils as candidates seek to bolster their support through a variety of labour and other organizations.

As far as I am aware, Dr. Weaver is the only one of the three leaders to respond to our letter. Here is the complete text of that response:

“Thank you for your correspondence of June 9 regarding municipal campaign finance reform. I apologize for the delay in responding. 

“I appreciate the concerns you raised regarding the effects of campaign finance reform at the Municipal level. I share your view that our democratic systems should be structured to support a wide range of candidates stepping forward to run for office, from a diversity of backgrounds and representing a diversity of views.  

“In my view, campaign finance reform at both the Provincial and Municipal levels is an essential way to strengthen our democracy and reduce the influence of special interests on our elections and on government decision-making. I believe that this reform can be undertaken in such a way that ensures that a wide range of independent candidates feel able to run for political office. 

“I agree that there must be careful deliberation by government on the impacts of any legislative change, and ensuring that government undertakes this reform in a comprehensive and deliberative way is a top priority of my caucus colleagues and myself.   


“Thank you again for writing on this crucial issue. If you have specific thoughts about how reforms might be best undertaken to address your concerns, my office would be delighted to hear from you.”  

I appreciate Dr. Weaver's thoughtfulness in dealing with this important issue, and look forward to future communication with him and his party on the subject.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Two decades and going strong!

The following is an edited version of a 'story' I wrote this morning for my parish bulletin and the BC Catholic.

Picking up 500 flowering plants.
Members of St. Joseph's Parish in Port Moody launched the "Easter Flowers" project more than 20 years ago, delivering 80 flowering plants, donated by Wim Vander Zalm of Art Knapp’s in Port Coquitlam, and an equal number hand-made greeting cards, made by parish students, to patients at Eagle Ridge Manor.

This year, the parish’s example inspired three other parishes to join the project on Holy Saturday (April 15), resulting in cards and flowering plants being delivered to 500 seniors and patients in four facilities from Maple Ridge to Port Moody.

“We launched ‘Easter Flowers’ as a way of bringing to life our commitment to respect life until its natural end,” says parish organizer and project coordinator Terry O’Neill. “We wanted to show the sick and elderly that they are loved and valued. We also wanted to demonstrate to our fellow parishioners and to the community at large that we put our beliefs into action.

“The project has been a great success, allowing individuals and families to volunteer, bringing good cheer to the elderly, supporting care-home staff, and generally giving our Easter weekend even greater significance.”

Last year, reflecting on the 20-year run on the project, Vander Zalm urged O’Neill to expand the project. “In these troubled times, people need to see that there is still love and caring in the world,” Vander Zalm said. O’Neill promised he would do so.

Working through contacts he made at the new north-of-Fraser life-action group, Life Compass, O’Neill was able to deliver on the promise, with the result that, on Holy Saturday, dozens of volunteers from four parishes delivered flowering plants and hand-made greeting cards to about 500 people at four seniors’ residences or care facilities from Maple Ridge to Port Moody.
Volunteers from St. Joseph's Parish.

Sandra Dulong coordinated at St. Clare of Assisi, in Coquitlam, delivering about 80 plants to residents of Dufferin Care Centre in Coquitlam. “It’s all about giving back to our seniors, who have given us so much – to give them a little more comfort at Easter,” she said. “We need to tell them that we value their lives as much as we value our own.”

Britt Bright coordinated at St. Luke’s Parish, Maple Ridge, delivering about 150 plants to residents of Baillie House in Maple Ridge: “We did this in order to show that elderly people, at the end of life, are as important as our young people,” she explained.

Elizabeth Loch coordinated at St. Patrick’s of Maple Ridge, delivering upwards of 200 plants to residents of Maple Ridge Seniors Village. Volunteer Anna Tillotson said that she and her husband, Mark, had a personal reason for participating. “Mark’s father was in a care home last year before he passed away, and we could see what a positive effect a visit had on the residents,” she stated. “It just brought them so much joy.”

Besides coordinating the four-parish project, Terry O’Neill once again organized the St. Joseph’s team as well, as they visited Eagle Ridge Manor, delivering plants to about 80 residents: “In truth, we end up getting more than we give,” he said. “It’s very fulfilling to see what a positive effect we can have, not only on the residents, but also on the staff. All in all, it’s a very rewarding exercise, bringing to life our commitment to respect life from conception to its natural end.

“Wim Vander Zalm has been my partner in this project from Year One. He supplied the flowering plants; we supplied the feet on the ground! His generosity, his support and his commitment have been absolutely vital in making our Easter Flowers program the success that it has become. Thanks, Wim!”

Friday, April 7, 2017

Signal Hill's Value Project is a success

One of the charities I volunteer with is Signal Hill, an educational non-profit dedicated to inspiring young people to "Value Every Person" – themselves and others.  One of the ways we try to do this is through The Value Project. This morning, I was honoured to attend a student-led Value Project rally/presentation at a Surrey high school, where I hoped to see the fruits of our commitment to this project. I was not disappointed.
  Here’s how Signal Hill explains the rationale behind The Value Project: “We are living in a value crisis. Our culture treats human beings like commodities and values possessions and status over relationships.  We are constantly being fed the message that we are not beautiful enough, not smart enough, and not strong enough. 
  “Young people see the fallout from this value crisis every day at school and in their own personal lives. Because they experience these problems on an everyday basis, we believe that these young people are in the best position to find a solution and communicate the message of Value Every Person to their peers. That's why we train young people to speak to their own generation about the value of human life.” 
  Enter The Value Project, a three-day symposium where high school students learn that valuing themselves and valuing others has the power to transform their personal lives and their school community.
  Signal Hill explains further: “Led by a team of experts from the fields of communication, media, and marketing, the students are educated about the inherent value of every human being; equipped with the skills to craft a customized media campaign, and given the support to implement it within their schools - spreading Signal Hill's message of ‘Value Every Person’ to everyone they encounter.” 
  Five students – Samantha, Christina, Steve, Rachel and Beatrice – from Holy Cross Regional Secondary in Surrey completed such a three-day symposium a few months ago; they presented their project to the school this week, culminating with this morning’s multi-media event.
  In a series of informative, insightful and moving speeches and presentations, the five challenged their fellow students to look beyond surface appearances – to shatter the mirror – in order to find each person’s intrinsic worth. “Remember, you’re more than your reflection,” one said.
They continued: Too often, people feel they have to measure up to a perfect, non-attainable standard. It’s called a “value prejudice,” and it’s a debilitating way of living, leading to low self-esteem, harmful relationships, and bad decisions in time of crisis.
  The powerful counter-approach is this: we are all deserving of love and respect by the simple fact of our existence. “We all bleed red,” one student leader said. We must get past labels that lead to insecurity, and judgemental, hurtful actions. “The way we see people affects the way we treat people.” Find the diamond at everyone’s core and treat them as the precious, unique, intrinsically beautiful people they are.
I want to thank the Holy Cross community for allowing fellow Signal Hill board member Pat Myers and me to sit among upwards of 800 students this morning to witness this remarkable and inspiring event. So much good will emanate from this project, I'm sure!

For those wanting to learn more about Signal Hill, please visit www.thesignalhill.com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What Do Higher Property Values Mean for Taxes?


With all the discussion, misinformation, speculation and confusion about the impact of soaring assessment rates on property taxes, the City thought it was a good idea to public this detailed explanation and offer it to local news outlets. I agree and I hope it calms some of the nerves out there!

COQUITLAM, BC, Jan. 10, 2017 - A higher assessed property value is usually good news for property owners – it means the value of their investment is going up.

But does a higher assessed value also necessarily mean higher property taxes? Not exactly.

When a city plans its budget for the year, the amount it needs to collect (revenue) is based solely on the services it plans to provide (expenditures). Let’s say this amount is $100 million. No matter how much property values go up or down, the City still only needs to collect $100 million to do its job for the year.

In a separate process, the BC Assessment Authority, a provincial body, determines the value of all properties across the province, based on factors such as age, location, size, improvements and the value of recent nearby sales.  The City is not responsible for property assessments, however the City is mandated by provincial legislation to tax the homeowners based on the assessed value of their property.

These two processes come together when cities set their tax rate (sometimes referred to as the mill rate): the calculation that determines each property’s share of the cost to run the city that year. If average assessed values go up, the tax rate goes down to compensate. The opposite is true if values decrease. But in the end, working from the example above, only $100 million is collected.

2017 Tax Increase
In Coquitlam, the 2017 tax increase for the average residence is 2.48%, which is in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).   As the cost of maintaining service levels continues to rise, the City is constantly striving to find efficiencies in the provision of services, as well as other sources of revenue. As such, this is the lowest tax increase in 25 years.

What this means is that if your home’s assessed value went up by the average (33%), your taxes will go up 2.48%. However, if your assessed value increased by more than the average, your taxes will increase by more than 2.48%. However, it still won’t increase at the same percentage as your property assessment increase. Similarly, homes with a below-average increase in their assessment could find themselves paying lower taxes than last year.

Homeowner Grant 
The Homeowner Grant is a provincial grant outside of the City’s control, but the City is responsible for administering the Grant on the province’s behalf. The Homeowner Grant assessment threshold was raised in 2017 to $1.6M at which point the grant is gradually reduced by $5 per $1,000 value.  Therefore depending on your property assessment, you may not lose the entire grant, just a portion of it.

Municipalities share the publics’ concern about the need to ensure the Homeowner Grant remains available as the assessed value of B.C. real estate continues to rise and we will continue to work with the province on this issue.

Any questions related to your property assessment should be directed to BC Assessment Authority (1-866-825-8322).  The deadline to appeal your assessment is Jan. 31.

For information on property taxes in Coquitlam, visit www.coquitlam.ca/propertytaxes.


Media contact:
Rhonda Anderson, Revenue Services Manager
604-927-3920


Thursday, December 8, 2016

In my books, the biggest city issue is....

City Council gave unanimous approval to the first readings of the 2017 budget bylaws this past Monday. The Tri-City News' coverage (most of which is not yet online) focused on our policies and usage of reserve funds. My focus, however, was on a more pressing issue. Here is the text of the speech I delivered.

Graphic: City of Coquitlam
The first readings of the budget bylaws are traditionally accompanied by statements from the mayor and councillors about the general state of affairs in the city and the specific level of such things as tax rates and municipal spending. The mayor has very adroitly covered all of this ground and more in his address.

And I want to declare now that I agree with him that the budget before us tonight is well worth supporting. I am especially pleased that, for the eighth consecutive year, the rate of increase has declined; this year it’s 2.17 per cent, the lowest in 25 years.

While there are parts of it with which I don’t agree, on the whole it strikes a commendable balance between, on one hand, provision of needed services and amenities, and, on the other, the sort of fiscal responsibility that our residents expect of council.

I am proud to be part of a council that takes its duty in this latter area seriously. Ours is a council that, unlike so many other political bodies, works hard to avoid political gamesmanship, posturing and pandering; instead, it really does focus on doing the best for the whole community – making decisions based on principle and strong policy, rather than on prejudice and political pressure. And that’s a very good thing.

I must point out, however, that, while having sound budget policies and practices is absolutely central to the work that we do here – and, moreover, that it is, in fact, the foundation upon which is built the entire edifice of services that the city provides – it actually isn’t the single, most pressing issue that concerns me…. and confronts us all.

The issue isn’t the tax rate; it isn’t the level of government services; it isn’t the numbers of workers on city payroll; it isn’t parks, arenas, tennis courts, artificial-turf fields or a museum; it isn’t laying more pipe and filling more potholes; it isn’t water quality, air pollution, or safe streets, either.

Those are all areas of importance. But, surely, the most pressing issue is one that affects us, literally, where we live. It’s housing affordability.

The measures that council has taken over the past few years --- and will, one hopes, continue to take in the years to come – will be a critical part of this council’s legacy.
This council has long stated that the primary responsibility for providing “deep affordability” rests with the two senior levels of government. Nevertheless, through adroit use of the city’s re-energized Housing Affordability Fund, the city is set to do its part in this crucial area. Especially noteworthy is our support of the Talitha Koum housing project.

To be clear, though, housing affordability has always been an issue for lower-income individuals and families. On the other hand, the now fully-emerged crisis that is upon us now is a more contemporary phenomenon – the large gap between what middle-income earners can afford and what the market demands they pay.

Consumers have had to adjust their expectations. Many looking for a single-family home have had to set their sights on a townhouses or condo. Those who might, in a more affordable market, be looking to buy a condo now might, instead, look to rent. And so it goes.

The single most important thing the city can do to assist those in the market is to facilitate the construction of new housing, whether it’s for sale or for rent.
That has certainly been a main focus of mine over the five years I have spent on council, and I am pleased to say that, in most cases, it is a focus that is shared by the majority of council. Whether it’s approving townhouse developments on Burke Mountain, Condo Towers in the city Centre, rental projects in Burquitlam, or subdivision of lands in Maillardville, this is a good thing.


Yes, amelioration of adverse community impacts must always remain a concern, but I believe our paramount responsibility in the face of an unprecedented crisis is – and must continue to be -- to keep a clear focus on making good land-use decisions that lead to the creation of more places that people, young or old, poor or rich, single or married, can call home.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Lafarge tour underlines scope of work, reveals surprises




Looking south across lower part of reclamation site.
The four-wheel-drive pickup truck works its way slowly up a steep, rocky road, as a group of Lafarge Canada executives and I tour the company's huge pit area off Pipeline Road in Coquitlam.

It's clear the landscape has been considerably altered by the decades-long extraction of gravel from the site, and that Lafarge's current reclamation project is a massive undertaking.

How massive? Costs for security alone, including a 24-hour-a-day, two-person crew, are $1.5-million a year. Overall costs are a company secret.

As we trundle up the rough road, Nick Leuzinger, Operations Manager, GVA Aggregates; Chen Mei, VP Aggregates, Greater Vancouver Aggregates Division; and Patrick Dobbyn, Land & Resource Manager (and the man who arranged this early-December tour), point to areas where work needs to be done: hillsides have to be stabilized to the extent that, ironically for a site from which thousands upon thousands of truckloads of aggregate were extracted, structural fill has to be trucked into the site.

Coincidental to my tour (which was sparked by the wrapping up of the Coquitlam River Aggregate Advisory Committee, which I had chaired), the company's request for a Conservation Permit, to facilitate its reclamation work, will be before Council on Monday, Dec. 5. Please click here to read the report.

Operating as Coquitlam Sand and Gravel, Lafarge Canada Inc. was, for many years, one of the major aggregate-industry operators along the Coquitlam River. However, after costs to operate the company's 37-hectare pit on Pipeline Road became too high due to the high level of fine sediments in the gravel deposits, the company decided to cease operations on the site.

Lafarge is now in the midst of a major reclamation project at the site, one whose goal is to stabilize the site and return it to a safe, natural state, removing all general structures and roads, disposing of fuels and other toxic materials, delineating the watershed and improving drainage, and instituting a re-vegetation plan.
Entrace to "hidden valley" of reclaimed main pit.
The company's plan is to complete the reclamation by 2018 and, after monitoring to ensure that the reclamation is successful, return the 87-hectare site to the Crown in 2021. After that, it may well become an attractive destination for hikers and mountain bikers. Views from the site to Burke Mountain (to the east) are spectacular, and the terrain -- natural and man-made alike -- is most interesting.*
Hillside of reclaimed main pit: Look closely to see four deer.

Of special note are two features. First is the new Mantle Creek watercourse that Lafarge is constructing. Designed to mimic natural flowing patterns, the new watercourse will be built to handle the most extreme rainfalls. Especially impressive are the extensive rock-works (aka rip-rap) and holding pond at the base of the new course.

Second is the Main Dig Site in the upper (southwest) corner of the site. Lafarge's extraction of millions of tonnes of material has created a massive, crater-shaped, amphitheatre-like valley which, now that it has been re-vegetated, is already home to a herd of rambunctious black-tailed deer.
At base of new Mantle Creek.
The only easy way to get into the valley is via a single roadway through a gap in the valley, which gives the visitor a rather dramatic and sudden view of this otherwise hidden gem.

One can imagine that, decades in the future, the valley will be a favourite destination for picnickers or maybe even the site of al-fresco concerts, with thousands of spectators lining the valley slopes.

For now, though, the entire site is off-limits to the public. Movie-goers will, however, have a chance to see some of the site's spectacular, steep and forested lands next summer when the latest Planet of the Apes instalment, War for the Planet of the Apes, is released; the production spent several months shooting on location this past summer, going so far as to build a fort at the top of a steep ravine that forms part of the future Mantle Creek watercourse.


*Long-term plans for the site are uncertain, as the property is outside Metro Vancouver's urban-containment boundary and, as such, is also not part of Coquitlam's Northwest Burke Visioning process.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Looking forward to new assignments

At the end of each year on Council, we decide among ourselves which Council members will sit on which committees and boards for the following year. Two of my long-time duties -- chair of the Coquitlam River Aggregate Advisory Committee and chair of the Evergreen Line Public Art Task Force -- have now ended because both bodies have completed their work, so I am looking forward to some new duties in 2017. Here's what I will be up to:
Metro Vancouver: New for 2017, I will be Mayor Richard Stewart's alternate on the Metro Board. I will also be a member of Metro's Performance and Audit Committee.
Culture Services Advisory Committee: I will continue to sit on the committee for the sixth consecutive year, but will be moving to the vice-chair position, with Councillor Towner taking over the chair.
Multiculturalism Advisory Committee: Continuing for third consecutive year as vice-chair, with Councillor Brent Asmundson continuing as chair.
Sustainability and Environmental Advisory Committee: A new responsibility for me, as I will be chairing the committee, with Councillor Chris Wilson as vice-chair.
Thanks to my Council colleagues for supporting me on the above!
As well, I will be continuing as the Mayor's Designate (City Rep) on the board of the Coquitlam Foundation.
Please click here to see the full list of committee, board, panel, partnership, roundtable, and task-group appointments.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Budget plan, pen in hand

Every autumn, Council sits through several days of meetings dealing with the city budget for the next year. I must admit that my mind occasionally wanders, which this past month led, not to doodles, but to a poem. Enjoy! ("P&D" = "Planning and Development"; "PRC" = "Parks, Recreation and Culture").

Paradise Cost


From P and D to PRC
And all things in between,
Our GMs point to future work--
The planned and not foreseen.

Coquitlam looks to jobs ahead,
The projects pushed to max.
As always, though, the big concern
Is final hit on tax.

To balance wants with actu'l needs--
Which voters' have to pay--
'Tis thus a job of great import
On which we work this day.

So talk away and please don't stop
Til figures do display.
Then decide, we must, on budget plan
That won't cause much dismay!

    Dedicated to Sheena MacLeod, retiring GM of Finance

And, yes, we finally wrapped up our budget deliberations this past Tuesday. I am hopeful the result "won't cause much dismay."



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

'Our protection is in our fraternity'

With the worrisome turn of events in the U.S., it was great to see a recent newspaper story describing Prime Minister Trudeau's defence of open, cross-border trading between nations.
If only the president-elect of our neighbour to the south had the same sentiments as does Trudeau -- and, for that matter, as did the 29th President of the U.S., Warren G. Harding, whose words in celebration of the unique relationship between Canada and the U.S. are engraved on a monument in Stanley Park (near Malkin Bowl).
I stumbled upon the monument this past weekend and transcribed Harding's words, which were among his last public pronouncements, as he died the following week in San Francisco. Here is what he told an estimated 50,000 of Vancouverites in 1923:
"What an object lesson of peace is shown today by our two countries to all the world. No grim-faced fortifications mark our frontiers, no huge battleships patrol our dividing waters, no steal-thy spies lurk in our tranquil border hamlets. Only a scrap of paper, recording hardly more than a simple understanding, safeguards lives and properties on the Great Lakes, and only humble mileposts mark the inviolable boundary line for thousands of miles through farm and forest.
"Our protection is in our fraternity, our armour is our faith. The tie that binds more firmly year by year is ever-increasing acquaintance and comradeship through interchange of citizens and the compact, not of perishable parchment, but of fair and honorable dealing which, God grant, shall continue for all time."

To learn more about Harding's visit to Vancouver and his speech, please see:http://www.vancouverhistory.ca/archives_harding.htm. And here's a link to the story about Trudeau's defence of open trade:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/…/trudeau-ap…/article32947380

Our curling decision made for wider benefit of the community

This past Monday, I was part of a solid majority* of Coquitlam Council members who voted in favour of a series of recommendations from our Parks, Recreation and Culture Department that, foremost among many measures, will see the amalgamation of Coquitlam curling with the Port Moody club. Here is part of the speech I made in explanation of my decision:

A large audience that attended Council on Monday.
I want to thank the scores of curlers and hockey families who contacted me, both in person and by email, to let me know about their opinions on the plan before us tonight. Thank you. Thank you because those contacts certainly demonstrated to me that there are many people in Coquitlam who are passionate about sport, and want – as I do --  to see it grow and thrive.
As well, the volume of communication certainly underlines the importance of the decision we will make tonight – a decision that must be made not just for the benefit of curlers and skaters but also for the benefit of the wider community to whom council is ultimately responsible.
Also noteworthy is the fact that the curling-amalgamation plan has developed into the Number-One issue of the year. This certainly speaks to the high level of well-being we have in this community. We are extremely fortunate to live in a place where the sort of problems that ravage so many other parts of the world simply don’t exist. This gives us the luxury to spend time and effort on things like our sport and recreation policies.
This is not to diminish the passion and interest that the curling community has shown over the past several weeks, but I mention this in order to more properly frame the issue—an issue which is ultimately about how best and how fairly to allocate resources among a prosperous populace.
It was the great Irish statesman and orator Edmund Burke (after whom Burke Mountain is named) who said, “All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter.” I think he’s correct. And, in the final analysis, the decision, on how to allocate ice-rink resources by facilitating the merger of Coquitlam curling with Port Moody curling, centres on this concept of compromise.
It’s important to note that this concept carries within its meaning the idea of cooperation, and of give-and-take. Of course, we don’t compromise our principles. They are resolute. But we should always be prepared to re-evaluate our policies and practices in the light of new information and changing circumstances.
And, as I’m confident that those of us who have been involved in successful negotiations have learned, a spirit of generosity or even magnanimity can be key to success.
And so, with all this in mind, I will cast my vote tonight for what I think will be best for curling and hockey, to ensure that they remain strong and vital activities in our community -- and that curling, especially, has the critical mass needed to propel it well into the future. I will also cast my vote for what I think is best for all our city’s residents, to whom we on council are responsible, and from whom we receive the charge to make the best use of their hard-earned tax dollars.
My vote will also show that I support co-operation between communities, economical use of scarce resources, and fiscal prudence, while at the same time setting a path that, I am confident, will help build a better Coquitlam.


*Council considered four motions; votes on some were 7-2 in favour, and on others were 8-1 in favour. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Property-tax boost for transit?

I was a reluctant supporter of the transit referendum last year. Reluctantly in favour, not because I was a big fan of the sale-tax increase proposed by the referendum, but because I was afraid if the proposal failed, there would be pressure to increase property taxes to fund the transit improvements. And, given that there is little relation between one's ability to shoulder tax increases and the value of one's home (the value upon which property taxes are levied), I definitely oppose piling this sort of thing onto the backs of homeowners. Yet, here's the news that I feared we would inevitably see. Yes, it's a small increase, but I fear that this proposal may set a precedent.


Metro Vancouver mayors support property tax increase to fund transportation plan

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver's News. Vancouver's Talk

Despite firm rejections in the past, Metro Vancouver mayors are supporting property tax increases as a way to pay for transit improvements.
A property tax increase of $3 per year, a transit fare increase of two to three per cent per year for three years, a fee for new developments, and selling off surplus Translink property.
That’s how Metro Vancouver mayors want to raise the regional share of funding for its 10-year transit and transportation plan.
Mayors voted almost unanimously to move forward with its draft investment plan for phase one.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who was formally opposed to a property tax increase, is asked why he changed his mind.
“Well I think in this case it’s a very small property tax increase relative to the overall investment, and we are seeing a massive investment from the federal government. We are seeing signifcant dollars and hopefully more coming from the BC government.”
It includes a 10 per cent increase to bus service, 50 new SkyTrain cars, five new West Coast Express Cars and a new SeaBus.
The plan now goes to the public for feedback before a final decision is made in November.


View image on Twitter

Friday, July 22, 2016

Some context, please, Mr. Horgan

Housing affordability and its associated issues, including "demo-victions," comprise one of the most pressing economic and social issues in the Lower Mainland. Little wonder, then, that the opposition New Democrats have mounted a campaign for more government action on the problem.
BlueSky's proposed development on Foster, east of Clarke.
It might help their cause, however, if they picked a more suitable example of demo-viction malfeasance than the one they highlighted in Coquitlam earlier this week.
In fact, the example they showcased, the big BlueSky Properties Inc. development on Foster Ave. in Burquitlam, could and should be held up, not as a dramatic example of corporate greed and provincial government inaction, but as a heartening example of corporate responsibility, successful community engagement, and enlightened municipal policy.
Here's the story.
As part of its housing-affordability campaign, the New Democrats staged a press conference earlier this week against the backdrop of the aging apartments in Coquitlam that will be demolished to make way for the BlueSky development at North Road and Foster Avenue.
Supported by NDP MLA Selina Robinson and one-time NDP candidate and current Coquitlam Councillor Chris Wilson*, NDP leader John Horgan pointed out that the apartments are slated for demolition to make way for condo towers that are coming as part of the densification of Burquitlam now happening in anticipation of the arrival of the Evergreen Line early next year.
With reportedly scant reference to the specific details of the BlueSky redevelopment, Mr. Horgan declared, "People and families are scrambling to find affordable rental housing here in Coquitlam and across the Lower Mainland, and they aren't getting any leadership from Christy Clark. People want to know why the Christy Clark government has not acted to protect renters and increase the number of rental homes in this overheated property market."
Fair enough comment on the provincial level. But, on the municipal level, the suggestion that old rental buildings are demolished with little regard for the future of the tenants is completely off base.
In fact, the BlueSky development is notable for the developer's care and attention to ensure that the renters in the existing 112 units are cared for. The company's commitment to this was so thorough that the development proposal won the support of both the Burquitlam Community Association and the Tri-Cities Homelessness and Housing Task Group.
The 873-unit project will eventually comprise three condo towers boasting 816 for-sale units (many of which will, of course, be put on the rental market) and a purpose-building, five-storey, 57-unit rental building, in which rents will be similar to the rents in the existing complex. (Please click here to read the full Coquitlam staff report on the project.)
Furthermore, with Coquitlam's Transit-Oriented Development Strategy and (then-old but since-updated) Housing Affordablity Strategy guiding them, city officials worked with BlueSky to ensure that several other important steps were taken to assist in the relocation of the existing renters who would not find space in the new rental building or one of the condos. The company:

  • Hired an on-site rental relocation coordinator.
  • Instituted ongoing communication and meetings with tenants, including relocation information.
  • Provided tenants with a six-month eviction notice, rather than the provincially required two months.
  • Promised to waive multiple months' rent, rather than the one-month required by law. Two months' rent would be waved if the tenant relocates within four months of receiving notice; three months' waved if relocation takes place between four and six months after notice is served.
  • Offered any tenant or member of their immediate family the opportunity to purchase a unit within the BlueSky, or any Bosa Properties development, with 12 months' worth of rent going towards the down-payment on their new home.

The press release accompanying Mr. Horgan's news conference said he believes, "fair tenant relocation policies are needed, and the province should lead. Standards for requiring relocation plans for tenants and replacing demolished units need to be in place around the province, not just in some communities."
Fair enough.
But it would have been infinitely more informative (if somewhat less dramatic) for him to have pointed out that the "fair tenant relocation policies" he is calling for already exist in the very community in which he chose to voice his concerns.

(*Unlike Mr. Horgan, Mr. Wilson provided some contextual background to at least one news outlet, as evidenced by this story.)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Just say 'no' to prejudiced hirings & appointments

Progress since 'secretarial pools.' (women2.com)
Today's Sun carries a front-page story about Vision Vancouver's desire to impose a gender-equity quota on the city's advisory committees. I don't usually comment on another city's policies, but since this idea and its sister idea -- employment quotas -- have the potential to spread to other cities, including Coquitlam, I think it's important to say clearly and as soon as possible that I don't believe this is a good direction. Let me explain.
My first response is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And, since no evidence has been presented – and, moreover, I don’t see any evidence of my own -- that the administration of the city or the workings of its advisory committees, is hobbled by present recruitment (and hiring practices), I see no need of change.
I believe in equality of opportunity, not of outcome.  And, if we set quotas for women, then why not any of a number of other categories, from visible minorities, religions and IN-visible ethnic groups, to age classifications, gender orientations, and levels of physical ability. What a menacing melange of criteria that would be!
I believe in merit, not quotas. Consider the current situation in Coquitlam: the Evergreen Line Public Art Task Force and the Arts and Culture Advisory Committee (both of which I chair) are composed overwhelmingly of women. Since, a "fair" gender quota would have to apply both ways (and if not, what a travesty of inequity that would be!), it would thus deny many qualified women the opportunity to serve.
Instead of gender quotas in committees and employment, I believe in a system:
*Where employees and appointees will have the certainty that they earned their position because of their talents, and were not handed it because of an intrinsically-biased criterion.
*Where employees will have the opportunity to grow in experience and confidence, earning the respect of their fellow employees, who, in a gender-quota system, might otherwise conclude that their new colleague did not earn the job on merit.
And, anyway, who are we to tell women what they should want -- what levels of involvement and employment they should seek? The big, bad old patriarchy used to preach that. Let’s allow women to choose freely, and not dictate outcomes that aren’t supported by free choice in their area of interest.
More broadly, I support a society in which we view someone, not through the narrow lens of the nature of their sexual organs, but through a wider lens that considers their whole person.
Let’s embrace the current system instead of a system, which, when enacted at the federal-cabinet level recently, was justified by the prime minister’s dismissive invocation of the year in which we live.
So what does living in 2016 actually mean? Unconsciously or consciously, most of us equate the advance of the years with progress.
But I can’t see how an embrace of employment or appointment prejudice – that is, judging someone’s suitability for a position on the basis of their sex -- can be seen as progress.
Let us not look backward; let’s move forward with a re-affirmed commitment, not to empty and harmful prejudice, but to excellence in city government.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Much-needed playground upgrades coming soon

The news, made public at last Monday's Council-in-Committee meeting, that Tanglewood and Hampton Park playgrounds would have their equipment replaced this year, at a cost of $50,000 and $25,000 respectively, was certainly long-awaited and much-appreciated.

These photos, which I took last weekend, show the sorry state of repair into which Tanglewood, for one, had fallen. I am sure the neighbourhood will be very pleased to learn of the coming upgrade.
You can view the full report on Parks Infrastructure by clicking here.  That report also has some exciting graphics showing the design concepts for the new playground at Como Lake.

As well, you can find additional photos of from Tanglewood and Hampton.

Looks like our parks crew will have a busy spring and summer (as usual)!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A rare award to honour a remarkable man


Consul-General Fluery and Mr. Cumbers with colour guard.
It was with the greatest appreciation that I attended a remarkable ceremony this morning, during which Coquitlam's John (Doc) Cumbers received France's highest honour, the Knight of French National Order of the Legion of Honour. Presenting the medal was France's Consul General in Vancouver, Jean-Christophe Fleury (the text of whose stirring speech is reproduced in full, below).
The ceremony took place at the RCMP's Coquitlam Detachment headquarters next to Coquitlam City Hall in recognition of the fact that Mr. Cumbers is still active in the community as a volunteer at the RCMP's Ridgeway Avenue community office.
According to those in the know, the Legion of honour is the highest national order of Frances and illustrates the country's profound gratitude towards its recipients. "It is awarded in recognition of personal involvement in the liberation of France" during the Second World War.
Sergeant "Doc" Cumbers was a tail gunner with the Royal Canadian Air Force, and is described in historical archives as "a most resolute and gallant air gunner." (After the war, he served in the Canadian Navy, as well.)
The archives continue: "He has taken part in very many sorties and has played a worthy part in the successes obtained. On a recent occasion, when returning from an operaton against Villeneuve-St. Georges, his aircraft was attacked by a fighter. As the attacker closed in, Flight Sergeant Cumbers delivered a burst of fire which struck the enemy aircraft, setting it on fire. His coolness and determination were charactertice of tht which he has shown throughout his tour of operational duty."
Here is the text of Consul-General Fleury's speech:


The medal moment.
Dear President of the Legion,
Soon to be Honored Veteran, their family and friends, Distinguished guests:
It is a real pleasure for me to be given the opportunity to present an award to John CUMBERS today. 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, and for this occasion, the French government has organized a series of events that have taken place in France.
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and three provincial Premiers have travelled to Normandy and were officially received by our President, Fran├žois Hollande.
To celebrate this anniversary, the French government has decided to bestow awards upon some of the living Canadian veterans who participated in D-Day operations.
The Legion d’Honneur is the highest decoration that France can bestow and, as such, it is equivalent to the Order of Canada.
The law that brought the Legion of Honour and its governing organization into effect was passed in the Legislative Assembly on May 19th, 1802, during the reign of Napoleon. It rewards the outstanding merits of individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their respective social, economic, hereditary or even national backgrounds.
A number of prominent Canadians have been awarded the Legion of Honour, such as: Former Governor General Michaelle Jean, Prime Minister William McKenzie King, Rear Admiral Leonard Murray (Commander in Chief of Canadian Northwest Atlantic), former Premier Jean Charest.
There used to be 20 of them, and by the end of the year, there will be over 1,000.
To the best of our knowledge, there are more Canadian D-Day veterans still living in Canada, but what is happening now is part of a truly unprecedented two-year process. This process required a lot of human resources.
And it would not have been possible without the support of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs in Ottawa.
The French President signed all the decrees to have the Legion of Honour awarded to 1,000 D-Day veterans, some of whom are living in BC. The campaign is now closed as our human resources do not allow us to continue this very lengthy process.

Now that I have explained the procedure, let me say a few words about the meaning behind all of this.
The destiny of all of us is to leave this world. But there is no rule in this universe that says that a human being should be deprived of his or her freedom.
It’s good sometimes to come back to the basics so let me quote the very beginning of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“Whereas disregard for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief, and freedom from fear has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people, the United Nations proclaimed that (…)
Art1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
Many people in this world made the ultimate sacrifice to allow their friends and relatives to remain unchained.
This is the sacrifice that more than 45,000 Canadians made during the Second World War.
The D-Day was this very first step that enabled liberty, justice and human dignity to break through. Canadian soldiers were on the front line, and it is with extraordinary bravery and sacrifice that they landed on Normandy beaches that brought peace to the continent.

As a young man John, you left your family and home to cross the Atlantic and participate to the some of the fiercest battles in modern history, on a foreign soil, far away from your country, to help the people of Europe to free themselves from the terror and tyranny. Your accomplishments during the Second World War are a vibrant reminder of the profound and historic friendship that binds France and Canada. Our two countries owe each other their very existence as free nations and this indeed creates a special relationship.
The French people will never forget the act of bravery that accomplished Canadian soldiers during Normandy Landing to help restore our freedom.

Sadly, if I may say so, this fight for freedom is not over: I think you are aware that more than 200 innocent people were killed in France last November after 17 journalists, cartoonist and Jews have been killed in Paris before because of their belief and because they exercised their freedom of expression. Similar events then happened in Danemark and elsewhere in the world.

Your Premier Christy Clark wrote this to us:

“For centuries, France has been a beacon of light and example for the world, and remains one of our closest friends and allies. Tonight, all Canadians stand with them, both in grief for those who were killed, but also in resolve. Those who commit such acts of violence want to change us, and our shared values. They will fail. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and with security personnel who put their lives at risk to keep others safe. Vive la France.”


Once again, Canada is on the side of France, and once again, I owe you all my gratitude. Therefore, thank you Canada for being on the side of France against the Islamic State in Iraq. And if I may add: Thank you Canada for being on the side of the freedom in Ukraine.