Praise for Government, Crazy Grocery Prices, Christmas

It never ceases to amaze me how governments consistently bungle projects that they were elected and well paid to manage professionally and effectively. And so it’s refreshing to be able to write about the optimism that’s emanating from our west coast. It was a horrific scene of floods and destruction. It is Canada’s worst disaster.

The BC government, corporations and ordinary folk have reacted with swiftness, courage and determination to this horrible and catastrophic blow dealt by Mother Nature. And they are getting it done.

Trans Mountain and Enbridge, that transport gasoline and natural gas from Alberta to most of British Columbians, quickly stopped the flow for precautionary reasons when the rains came (the floods unearthed the pipelines, leaving them exposed or underwater). The BC government, foes in court with these same pipeline companies, actually praised and thanked the corporations.

Newsfirst columnist Robert Vairo.

B.C. acted swiftly in declaring a Provincial State of Emergency to mitigate impacts on transportation networks and movement of essential goods and supplies. It also allowed various government departments to order repairs and reconstruction done immediately, and disburse money in days, which would otherwise have taken months. Victims received an immediate two thousand dollars, a small but well received amount, with more to follow. There was swift and efficient prioritizing and organization. Emergency services went to work literally within hours to assess damage, block roads because of highway wash outs, snapped bridges, and mudslides obstructing routes. They rerouted traffic, closed some roads, and arranged for single lane traffic to allow only emergency and essential vehicles.

The unsung heroes are the farmers affected. Even though some had lost cattle, chickens, hogs, and homes, they didn’t immediately seek shelter but helped neighbours move their livestock first. There are some unbelievable human stories. School kids with fund raisers, Telus $1 million, Stormtech Performance Apparel $600,000 in new clothes, and the list goes on of corporate and private help and donations.

The government ordinance gave powers to their Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to freeze gasoline prices that were in effect ten days earlier. Retailers were served with hefty fines for gouging. There was none reported.

British Columbians were told to drive only if necessary, and resume working from home. Fill up was limited to 30 liters at a time except for emergency and essential vehicles, to preserve what gasoline remained There were some cheaters, as there always are, but most abided.

The main transportation highway, the 600 km Coquihalla, the shortest route from Edmonton to Vancouver was scheduled to reopen only at the end of January. Because of the voluminous machinery and manpower dispatched, and the Canadian Armed Forces, some crews working under lights around the clock, ‘the Coq’, (pronounced ‘coke’) as it’s called there, is expected to be back in business some time after Christmas.

There is anger too. The Americans have done little to mitigate flood waters from Washington state from spilling into Canada. The U.S. Nooksack River, is a powerful contributor to floods in Abbotsford BC. There are grounds for a law suit.

What is also in Canadians’ conversation coast to coast, is COVID-19 infections on the rise, and Omicron expected to quadruple daily case counts. Even at this late stage there is no accountability by the Legault government for “10 times the number of deaths in care homes more than anywhere else in Canada.”

The center stage chatter has to be the stratospheric rise in the cost of everything. We are all noticing because the surge in prices is affecting what we need and buy daily, like food, energy and housing. Inflation in Canada will likely be over 5% this month, it was approaching 7% in the U.S.

Yes, inflation is world wide, but it has domestic roots. And what is astounding is our liberal government’s inability and unwillingness to address grocery store prices, while continuing to plan more record spending.

And this continuous spending has resulted in a warning from the National Bank’s chief economist Stéfane Marion. “We are bleeding capital”. With no new projects allowed, private investment in Canada has slowed since 2015. There is investment in residential real estate though. It now exceeds investment in all the other sectors of the economy for the first time since 1961. That’s not a good economic indicator. Not even Canadian pension funds are investing in Canada. 130 billion dollars have left this country that otherwise would have funded expansion, more employment, especially for the record increase to 400 thousand immigrants now allowed into Canada, one of the highest per capita rates of permanent immigration in the world. Says Marion ““Clearly we are not doing well when our own domestic pension funds prefer to invest heavily abroad rather than in Canada.”

It’s true, the pandemic has dampened toy drives, visits with mall Santas, and annual Christmas parades, but that should not prevent us from enjoying safe, festive, family gatherings.

Hope you had a great Hanukkah, and have a very Merry Christmas.

That’s what I’m Thinking.

Robert Vairo