By Leslie Campbell, November 2012
In BC, pipelines have become a moral and spiritual issue.
The line-up of speakers for the October 22 “Defend our Coast” protest at the BC Legislature against pipelines was impressive. It included environmental leaders like Tzeporah Berman, Maude Barlow, Greenpeace executive director Bruce Cox, cofounder of Greenpeace International Rex Wyler (now heading Tanker Free BC), and Green Party leader MP Elizabeth May. Labour unions and the NDP were also well represented.
But all of them followed, and most gave credit to, the real stars of the day and these times: the First Nation leaders who have been in the forefront of the fight against pipelines and tankers for seven years now. About 15 First Nations were represented and their chiefs spoke to the 3500-strong crowd with eloquence—about their connection to the land and their absolute clarity that no pipelines will cross it. For any amount of money.
By David Broadland, November 2012
Dramatic last-minute changes to the bridge project’s Request For Proposals may overturn the design approved by referendum.
City Hall’s eerie, self-imposed four-month silence surrounding the Johnson Street Bridge project procurement process will likely be broken this month. Bids for a replacement bridge are expected to be delivered October 30 by the three companies negotiating with the City for a construction contract. That delivery date had been extended three times, leading to speculation that the competing companies were having trouble meeting the City’s expectations on design and cost. The process is intended to produce price-competitive bidding and so an information blackout has been in effect while negotiations continue.
By Aaren Madden, November 2012
MLA Rob Fleming thinks LRT would tame sprawl in the West Shore and attract business investment.
The late 1980s were volatile times politically, here in BC, on the world stage, and particularly in the Fleming household. Rob Fleming’s older sister had strong, left-leaning opinions that she impressed upon him. Their father stood decidedly to the right; Mom was a “Trudeau Liberal.” (Pierre, that is. He’s not sure where she stands on Justin yet.) Imagine the lively dinner conversation on the day when, in “grade nine or ten,” young Fleming announced he had joined the NDP.
“MLAs come from all walks of life; there is no one path. It’s not like everybody in the legislature was on the debating club in high school—I just happened to be,” quips Fleming, now the Environment Critic and NDP MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake.
By Dr. Perry Kendall, November 2012
BC’s Provincial Officer of Health responds to last month’s Focus article.
I am writing in response to Alan Cassels’ article “Will a flu shot keep you healthy?” Science advances by asking tough questions and challenging accepted “truths.” It is thus essential to have skeptical thinkers like Alan Cassels, Dr Jim Wright and Dr Tom Jefferson active in the field. Our endeavours are all the richer for the questions and concerns they raise.
And I would like to assure your readers that in fact the issues raised by Alan and others are not new to those in public health who, like me, continue to support influenza vaccination as one of the more effective ways of preventing influenza. Nor have we ignored those issues or those criticisms. There are some very compelling reasons why we continue to promote influenza vaccination and I hope to make that case in the following paragraphs.
By Amy Reiswig, November 2012
Poet and self-identified gay writer John Barton.
The very first line—“I’ve let you in.”— in John Barton’s new collection welcomes us into a poetic and personal world about broken boundaries, where the poet is vulnerable yet generous, blunt yet welcoming, and where he encourages us to see into ourselves while simultaneously taking us out of ourselves.
By Aaren Madden, November 2012
Ira Hoffecker’s paintings are inspired by the tension, energy and history of cities.
Before moving to Victoria with her family eight years ago, artist Ira Hoffecker had always lived in large cities: Paris, Lima, Cusco, Berlin, Hamburg. She studied French and Economics in Munich, then in 1984-5, worked as a translator near Paris. Every weekend she was in the city visiting galleries and museums, reading Camus, Proust, Zola, de Beauvoir. “It was my pivotal year,” she says.
By Gene Miller, November 2012
A gentle meditation on various collisions between natural law and community standards.
Stuck in the welter of uninvited emails about penis enlargement and how to hypnotize girls into having sex was one with the provocative and totemic subject line, “PMA.” Po-Mo Abstractionism? Prime Minister Abdicates? Pre-Menstrual Abandon? Post-Midi d’un Antilope? My neurons fired endless possibilities. Poor me again!
Turns out it was a pitch for Positive Mental Attitude. I was advised to create an “abundance mentality” by reading and watching personal development material and success stories; to leave behind—to forcibly reject, actually—everything that held me back; and to cultivate a win-win life strategy. The page also informed me that my shopping cart was empty—a problem I could remedy with just one click.
Cli.... No, maybe not.
by Chris Creighton-Kelly, November 2012
Do the arts in Victoria need a kick in the butt?
I am sitting across from them—a woman and a man. We are eating lunch and we have now reached a point past the small talk. We are, after all, trying to cut a deal.
I tell them that I would like to write for Focus magazine. They tell me that they would like that too. We talk briefly about details such as deadlines, contracts, money, copyright. But then, they—editor Leslie Campbell and publisher David Broadland—launch into a spirited explanation of why they create and publish Focus month after month: For the critical issues, for their writers to speak, for the arts in the CRD, for a kind of “disappearing” local, investigative reporting. And for the intelligence and curiosity of their readers.
By Craig Spence, November 2012
Deep roots in Victoria and a love of life have blessed both Joyce Clearihue and this city.
If Joyce Clearihue were going to have a family motto tacked to the door of her summer home on Patricia Bay, it would say: “The head rules the heart.” And right under the main statement would be a subtext proclaiming: “No regrets.”
At 85, Joyce is “easing up” a bit. She has decided she can relax, and spend more time meditating in her “favourite place in the whole world”—the beach in front of her “Summertrees” property. But you get the feeling it isn’t so much a case of the sun setting on her golden years, as her giving it leave to glow on a horizon of her choosing. The sense of realism, determination and purpose that have always been central to her personality still rule.
By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, November 2012
A department of peace could help reframe our approach to conflict.
For almost a century the red poppy has been the prevailing international symbol for remembering the war dead and their ultimate sacrifice. It’s a very effective badge, a bright stain of blood that will be pinned onto the lapels of a few million Canadians every year at this time. Some will take time to ponder the little flower’s burden; others will wear it out of unparsed habit or the primordial desire to stay in step with the crowd. Mine compels me to try visualizing the 117,000 Canadian soldiers who’ve been killed in all battles to date (according to the Royal Canadian Legion’s website). The image both boggles and numbs my mind.
By Alan Cassels, October 2012
The Cochrane Collaboration’s examination of flu vaccines in healthy adults, a body of literature spanning 25 studies and involving 59,566 people, finds an annual flu shot reduced overall clinical influenza by about six percent.
How many diseases are important enough to have their own season? Not many, but we do have one, and it strikes every year: the flu.
Arriving in the fall and exiting in the spring, flu season strikes with the predictability of clockwork. For some the flu might be a mild inconvenience, perhaps embraced as a way to stay home and get a few days couchside wrapped in the unpleasantness of high fever, aches, sniffles, and daytime reality TV. Yet for others, usually the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, the flu can be deadly. It can lead to hospitalizations, pneumonia, and sometimes death.
By Rob Wipond, October 2012
At the same time as their associations channel public resources into private political lobbying, they claim immunity from BC’s laws governing public access to their records.
They’re the two most prominent and influential policing organizations in British Columbia, appearing frequently in public promoting their strong positions on criminal justice reform, use of tasers, drug laws, or expanding police powers. But little else is widely known about the BC Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) and its smaller sister, the BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police (BCAMCP).
By Leslie Campbell, October 2012
Victoria City Hall wants to limit your access to information.
How ironic was it that during “Right to Know Week” (Sept 24-28) we learned how our own right to know—and thereby keep readers informed—was being severely curtailed?
In August, the City applied to the BC Office of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) under Section 43 to put restrictions on Focus publisher/writer David Broadland and myself (as well as Ross Crockford of JohnsonStreetBridge.org). Section 43 appears to be a little-used clause reserved for extreme cases of abuse of the provisions under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. As far as we can tell, it has never before been used against journalists. And until adjudicated by the OIPC, our Freedom of Information requests with the City of Victoria have been “frozen.”
By Leslie Campbell, October 2012
Longtime Focus journalist is a finalist for 3 Jack Webster Awards.
Each year, the Jack Webster Foundation sends out notification by email to the three finalists in each of the 12 categories of Jack Webster Awards. When I saw the first one announcing Rob Wipond was a finalist in the Community Reporting category for two pieces he wrote on the RCMP’s and VicPD’s Automatic Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) programs, I wasn’t surprised. The stories, written earlier this year, garnered tremendous attention on our website from all over the planet. And after Rob, Christopher Parsons and Kevin McArthur took the research done for the story and presented it as a brief to Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, she launched an investigation into the way the program is operating here in Victoria. It was great that the Websters had noticed.
By Aaren Madden, October 2012
Even after losing his job measuring marine contaminants, Peter Ross is more concerned about the country’s future than his own.
Peter Ross is Canada’s only marine mammal toxicologist. At the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, he studies the levels of toxic chemicals found in a wide range of creatures, including sea otters, seals and whales. This determines effects on their health, the health of their food sources, the oceans, and aboriginal food sources. “This is knowledge that informs policies, regulations, and practices that enable us to protect the ocean and its resources for today’s users and for future generations,” he explains.
By Gene Miller, October 2012
Influenced by the adolescent fantasies of Ayn Rand, the extreme right wing rejects any form of collectivism as evil socialism.
My friend Denton (remember his Blue Bridge “rocket launcher” on the back cover of Focus, months ago?) handled the Blessed Event so right-mindedly that I thought it would be worth memorializing.
Receiving his first post-65 government pension cheque, he took it upon himself to find some local social-serving non-profit organization with whom he could volunteer. He was explicit about this: a national culture able to do such a good job of looking after its citizens by providing a reasonable pension deserved his continuing services as a show of appreciation and as a way of keeping the account in balance. What a nice view of the human community! What an unerring expression of the relationship between the individual and the collective!
By Amy Reiswig, October 2012
In the Nuu-chah-nulth world view, life’s major purpose is the development of harmonious relationships between and among all lifeforms.
To make. Seemingly such a simple verb, it encompasses everything from the smallest humble action to the greatest work of genius. It is also the most literal meaning, I am told, of Umeek, the Nuu-chah-nulth name of hereditary chief, UVic associate adjunct professor and author E. Richard Atleo. “It is one of those words always lost in translation,” he explains by phone from Winnipeg, adding, “In our culture it is a chief’s name, so it means ‘chief’s work,’ which is to provide for his community.”
By John Luna, October 2012
An upcoming exhibition displays the resourcefulness and innovation of Vancouver Island-area potters of the 1970s and early ’80s.
When she directed the Cartwright Street Gallery in Vancouver, Diane Carr used to find herself thinking that if she could take a box of Wayne Ngan tea bowls around to the heads of local corporations, extracting a promise from each to use the bowl every day for a month, the money would flow in. “I think ceramics are very contemplative,” she says. The day-to-day encounters with a humble tea bowl are part of a continuum that includes the artist’s movements, the behaviours of clay and fire, and the domestic impressions that form a rhythm over time; a texture carried in the hands, a contour brought to the lips. As Carr confirms, “you have to use more than just your visual sense.”
By Aaren Madden, October 2012
Starting a conversation on eroticism in contemporary Kwakwaka’wakw art.
Cultural anthropologist Wilson Duff wrote in a 1976 essay, “sexual symbolism is so important in the arts of the world and elsewhere that I feel that its virtual absence on the surface of Northwest Coast art permits us to suspect that we might find it in metaphorical forms below the surface.”
In what may be a first-of-its kind exhibit, seven contemporary Kwakwaka’wakw artists have embraced the task of exploring eroticism in Northwest Coast art tradition. For the October show at Alcheringa Gallery—called Lusa’nala (The way we came into this world)—they have created thoughtful, sometimes playful, two and three-dimensional artworks on the theme.
By Briony Penn, October 2012
The restorative powers of nature help immigrants as well as grandparents and their grandchildren.
There’s a different type of grandparent on the island these days—they play games, but it’s unlikely golf or bridge, and instead of Alaskan cruises with their peers, it will be a ferry ride to Galiano for an overnight camp.
These are the grandparents-raising-grandchildren and they are heading for the newly-established Galiano Restorative Learning Centre. According to Ken Millard, the driving force behind the Centre, providing a place to relax and play on beaches, lakes and in forests, prepare home-grown food, and sleep out under the stars with other families is one of the main goals of the new Centre as a project of the Galiano Conservancy Association.