Monday, October 26, 2015

My response to Bill 14 regulations which treat vaping the same as smoking

Sent: Monday, October 26, 2015 3:05 PM
Subject: Consultation: Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Regulation
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your attached proposed regulations which were written without any input from the BC Vapour Alliance nor as far as we can tell without reference to any scientific or medical study.   In an email dated May 25, 2015 to myself, which I am happy to provide upon your request, BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall stated that, “nicotine containing electronic delivery devices are in all likelihood far less dangerous to him/her and those in the immediate environment than are tobacco containing cigarettes.”
This view is in fact backed up by a British study which was endorsed and released by the British government that found that vaping is 94% less toxic than smoking.  As the attached Guardian article notes, many believe that vaping could signal the end of cigarette smoking in our society:
Despite these findings and the views of your own Provincial Health Officer you have decided to treat vaping exactly the same as smoking.  Yet you have offered no credible scientific or medical research to back this up.  I am very concerned that your draft regulations have more to do with the influence of big pharma than they do the safety of consumers.
Speaking of which a number of jurisdictions including the City of Calgary have recognized that it is important that consumers be able to see how to use these devices safely.  As such they have provided vaping shops with an exemption which allows these stores to demonstrate how to safely assemble, fill and use these devices.  This also makes sense as Dr. Kendall acknowledges, there are no proven health effects from breathing in second hand vapour.  Yet your regulations make no provision for this not even if vaping juice containing no nicotine is utilised.
In our communication with the BC Minister of Health we proposed that vaping and e-cigarette type devices should not be sold from gas stations and convenience stores but from dedicated retail outlets where you have to be 19 years of age or older in order to enter.  As far as I can tell your proposed regulations still allow for the sale of these devices from gas stations and convenience stores where kids can readily enter.
Perhaps most disturbing of all is that by ignoring clear scientific evidence that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking your regulations will encourage people to keep smoking tobacco rather than vaping as many consumers will erroneously conclude that, “if it was any safer the government wouldn’t be regulating it as harshly as cigarettes.”  For every smoker that concludes this, and there will be many, they will bear the burden of a much earlier death than if they had switched to vaping and you will bear the cost of treating their emphysema cancer and the like.
So far from protecting our children and consumers your proposed regulations do the opposite.  Yes it may get a few smokers to switch to Nicorette or some other medication such as Zyban and Chantix, but it will cause many more who might have switched to vaping to keep smoking because of your misleading regulations.  We therefore hope that rather than sticking to the medically and scientifically invalid position that vaping is the same as smoking you will actually engage in meaningful consultation with the BC Vapour Alliance in order to draft regulations that actually achieve an optimal outcome for consumers as opposed to just big Pharma who we are well aware of has been a generous contributor to this government:
We therefore hope that the lives of consumers as well as small business owners here in British Columbia who are providing a scientifically proven healthier alternative to smoking will take precedence over the political generosity of international pharmaceutical companies.
Michael Geoghegan
cell 250-881-0969 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Letter to CRD Mayors on Sewage Project

Dear CRD area Mayors:

As a resident within the CRD for 29 years, and presently a condo owner in Saanich, I fear for my tax bill given the on going failures and machinations with regards to sewage treatment within the CRD.

To date $70 million has been spent and we as CRD taxpayers are already being billed for this on our municipal taxes.  When I made some enquiries I was told by contacts within the CRD to brace myself for more wasted dollars and a strategy of once again trying to revive the McLoughlin Point sewage plant location.  A position echoed by Bill Beadle on CFAX yesterday who claims the money wasted to date is more like $100 million and with a total project cost of $3 billion, an amount that if accurate is simply unaffordable for area residents.

The strategy I am told by my sources within the CRD is as follows:
  1. Let the current present process fail with further red tape and delays.
  2. Keep a lot of the current process unfolding in-camera away from public and media scrutiny.
  3. Let the public falsely believe there has been a positive and supportive public consultation process pointing in a specific outcome direction.
  4. Keep certain consultants of old plan still on the payroll as long as possible and make new contract commitments in-camera.
  5. Use time running out as an excuse to salvage a hybrid of the old plan and force it back to Viewfield Rd. and therefore justify that overpriced land acquisition.
  6. Portray any refusal of Esquimalt to zone for a smaller Viewfield Rd. Treatment facility as being obstructionist and try to influence Province of British Columbia to step-in and force a rezoning on that basis of deadline expiring etc.
  7. I was also told some within the CRD want to embarrass the Premier with our Cascadia neighbours to the South and to make it look like it is all this BC Government's fault for allowing untreated sewage to flow all these years unabated.  Note the recent Seattle Times editorial on this topic:
  8. Preventing any viable alternatives to McLoughlin being put forward.  For example, Saanich council has been preventing alternative site suggestions from going to the CRD.  This includes a proposal by Vanderkerkhove on a site that is within the ALR and a proposal by MacNutt Enterprises on a site that is outside the ALR.
The key questions I have are the following:
  • Have you completely removed McLoughlin Point from consideration a sewage treatment plant location?
  • Have you developed alternative site locations to McLoughlin?  If so when will these locations be publicly announced?
  • Are you willing to consider direct submission for site locations from within Saanich given the obstructionist position Saanich council is taking?
I thank you for your due consideration of this letter and look forward to your detailed reply.


Michael Geoghegan
cell 250-881-0969
cc:  Premier Christy Clark
       Hon. Peter Fassbender

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Alberta NDP Platform Archive

The results are in on Alberta’s election and it’s official, the Alberta NDP have won a landslide majority.  Here for convenience sake are the archive links to their platform and candidate pages:

Here’s the archive:
And here is a list of some of their candidate webpages:
Cameron Westhead, Banff-Cochrane:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

CFAX lays out devastating editorial of Saanich Council

On CFAX at 2:30 today Ian Jessop laid out a devastating critique of Saanich Council especially the dishonest conduct of Councillors Susan Brice and Judy Brownoff the transcript is a must read:
Here is the transcript of Ian Jessop's editorial:
Atwell Editorial
January 15, 2015
The more information members of Saanich Council release about their new mayor, Richard Atwell, the deeper they sink into the excrement of their own making.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts of this controversy and ask some very basic questions that have yet to be answered. First the issue of spyware.
In a news release yesterday, BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham points out there are two types of system monitoring of employees: overt and covert. She states, “Overt monitoring is done with the knowledge of the employees and is typically described as an organization’s acceptable use policies. Employees are notified of these policies on their first day of work, or if it’s a new policy, before monitoring takes effect.” She goes on to say, ”covert monitoring could take the form of tracking Internet use, logging keystrokes or taking screen captures at set intervals as part of ongoing monitoring.” That’s exactly the spyware that has been employed by the District of Saanich.
As the Privacy Commissioner points out, “there have been no cases brought before this Office where covert monitoring was found to be justified under privacy law.”

The City of Victoria said it does not use the program that Saanich uses, Spector 360, or any employee monitoring programs of this kind. It does have industry-standard firewalls but it does not track key strokes, search terms or where employees spend their time.
Neither Oak Bay nor Esquimalt senior managers responded to my question as to whether they use spyware.+
Members of Saanich council have been stumbling all over themselves trying to justify the installation of the spyware after the new mayor was elected. As veteran reporter Paul Wilcocks, a man of keen political insight, noted on his blog, it was a lame effort by councillors to justify it. “Weasel words and lack of clarity are warning signs in this kind of situation,“ said Wilcocks.
Here is a list of questions that have yet to answered.
Who ordered the spyware purchased?
Will Saanich release the purchase order?
Did the former Chief Administration Officer order its installation?
Why was the decision to install the spyware made after the election?
Will the municipality make public the memo ordering the installation of the spyware?
Whose computers were targeted?
Why were those computers targeted?
Mayor Atwell says 11 computers have the spyware on them. Why were these chosen?
Why only a limited number of computers?
Do members of council have spyware on their computers?
If the new Mayor did not sign the document alerting him to the spyware being installed, as alleged, doesn’t that mean he did not agree with the policy?
Why didn’t someone at Saanich Municipal Hall alert the mayor that he had not yet signed the form before giving him access to his municipal computer?
Two people can review the data captured – the Chief Administrative Officer and the Director of Corporate Services. Why would the Chief Administrative Officer want to spy on the Mayor?
Given the fact the spyware was ordered installed after former Mayor Frank Leonard lost the election, did its installation have to do with the fact that the CAO said he couldn’t work with Richard Atwell?
What is to be done with the information gathered?
What triggers an incident in which these two individuals who have access to the information can take a look at it?
Why does Saanich feel the need to use spyware when other municipalities do not? Was its firewall insufficient?
What does the spyware do that the enterprise firewall cannot do – besides spy on employees?
Last summer, there was a breach of the web services of the City of Victoria and Oak Bay. Was there a breach of Saanich’s web services?
Councillors have stumbled all over themselves in a lame attempt to justify the installation of the software; talking about what was discussed at in-camera meetings which are supposed to be secret.
Sanders stated, “The mayor raised the issue at an in-camera meeting and staff were able to explain exactly what it was. There was nothing about spying on employees.” Well Vicky, it is about spying on employees. How can you be so na├»ve to suggest that it is not?
Councillor Susan Brice is quoted as saying she can’t speak to any of Atwell’s concerns about spyware but she has total confidence in municipal equipment. What the hell does that mean; the equipment’s ability to spy?
Let’s leave the issue of the spyware and discuss Paul Murray, the former Chief Administrative Officer, who is alleged to have said before the municipal election that he couldn’t work with Richard Atwell.
The mayor of a municipality is the CEO – he or she is in charge. Any mayor will tell you that you need the confidence of Chief Administrative Officer, or City Manager, who closely works with you. That person is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the municipality while the mayor is responsible for the governance of the municipality. They’re a team and need to support each other in the important goals and objectives that council and its management team formulate. If the two of them don’t get along, one of them has to go and it’s certainly not the person elected by residents.
The City of Prince George just got rid of its city manager without the “hair on fire” response that Saanich Council has produced.
But the old guard at Saanich council doesn’t see it that way. They wanted their guy to remain because he knew was part of the entrenched group in Saanich that Richard Atwell wants to change.
Saanich Council agreed at an in-camera meeting to end the relationship with the Chief Administrative Officer but then turned around and condemned the mayor for something they agreed to. Does that make sense to you? If you didn’t agree with the mayor, then vote against him. Don’t be a hypocrite.
Council went on to complain that the $476,000 in severance is tax money that cannot be used for other initiatives of the municipality. What about the $16 million it has cost Saanich taxpayers so far in the sewage debacle that has very little, if anything, to show for it?
Councillors Judy Brownoff and Vicki Sanders never talk about that. Both are members of the sewage committee that has made some abysmal decisions over the years that have wasted millions of tax dollars. On that issue, both are conveniently silent.
As most people in this region are aware, Mayor Atwell has different views on sewage than Brownoff, Sanders and Susan Brice. None of them have ever had the guts to debate Atwell on this issue. Is Councillor Brownoff seeking revenge for having been asked to sept down from the CRD, as has been suggested by former Saanich councillor Carol Pickup?
Now let’s focus on Mayor Atwell.
My advice to him would be to drop the complaint about spyware that you announced yesterday to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. By continuing to pursue it, you just unnecessarily drag this out. Tell officials at municipal hall you want the spyware removed from your computer and to make sure it is. Bring in an outside expert of your choosing to make sure it’s gone. Without fanfare, quietly write a letter to the Privacy Commissioner asking her for her opinion on the spyware’s legality.
Secondly, it’s clearly evident that the police are targeting you; having stopped you four times since you announced your candidacy and not once in the previous seven years. The Saanich Police Association and the Saanich Firemen didn’t support you during the election because you want to include them in the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association. They don’t want to see an end to the sweetheart arrangement they had with your predecessor and his compliant council. My advice is to drop your complaint with the Integrated Road Safety Unit; it’s only going to further exacerbate your relationship with police; a relationship that appears to be beyond repair at this point.
Many successful politicians learn to handle difficult situations with stealth; without public fanfare. My advice to Mayor Atwell is to learn this skill. Learn to handle difficult situations in a quiet, authoritative manner. This will be made easier for you when you get a new Chief Administrative Officer; one you can trust and one who can cover your backside.
Finally, I would suggest you get some different advisors. You need people with keen political insight, people who have been in the trenches and know how to hang a political opponent without them knowing it. You haven’t learned that yet but you have to if you want to survive.
And to members of Saanich Council who are opposed to Richard being the new Mayor seeking change, I leave you with a great quote from Mark Twain; Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

Here is the link to broadcast it is at around the half hour mark

Privacy Commissioner says Saanich isn't complying with law

Re: “Spy plot? Council says software is for security,” Jan. 13.
Recent events in Saanich have created some confusion about employee privacy in the workplace, but the law is clear.
Employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace, even when using a computer supplied by an employer. These rights were affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Cole and are enshrined in B.C.’s comprehensive privacy laws covering the public and private sector.
We all expect governments and businesses to secure their networked systems against outside intrusions, malware or other threats. But employees don’t check their privacy rights at the office door. Privacy law sets a very high threshold for the use of routine monitoring tools such as keyboard logging, workstation mirroring or tracking of personal messages.
In 2007, my office ruled on a case where a university installed spyware on an employee’s computer to track their activities. We found that data collected by the spyware didn’t meet the necessity test and therefore did not comply with privacy law.
Employee monitoring isn’t as simple as picking a software tool off the shelf. Careful consideration must be paid to what is necessary and reasonable in the circumstances. Employers must ensure that in securing their systems, the privacy rights of employees are respected. Elizabeth Denham Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia 

Respected former councilor Carol Pickup weighs in on Shenanigans at Saanich City Hall

As a former Saanich councillor I am disgusted with Saanich police, Saanich !T dept, most of the mainstream media and many of the current Saanich councillors. I was especially disgusted with the role Councillor Judy Brownoff is playing. She is seeking revenge because she was asked to step down from the CRD (and I agree that she should not have been asked to do so) infavour of Fred Haynes. I know all the players in this drama and can assure you that I believe that the former mayor and his supporters are involved. The editorial in the T/C today said it all when they pointed out the inappropriate endorsement of Frank Leonard for mayor by Saanich police and fire depts.. Employee groups should not be trying to influence the outcome of municipal elections in this way. And I totally oppose the installation of the invasive spyware either for the mayor or others in the municipality. All concerned need to get on with serving the residents of Saanich which they were elected to do. Carol Pickup