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BC floods highlight infrastructure deficit

The Fraser Valley flood is a leadership failure, not climate change, said Abbotsford resident and think tank vice-president David Leis.





Flood damage around Abbotsford B.C. could have been avoided if provincial and federal governments had responded to the pleas of its mayor and city council for an improved dike system, and experts say other jurisdictions have similar issues.

On December 1, evacuation orders were in effect for 350 homes in the Abbotsford area, with another 1,664 on alert. The flooding was predictable, as a 2015 engineering report said the levee system in the area was “unacceptable” and fell below provincial standards. 

In December of 2019, another engineering report given to Abbotsford City Council showed it would cost $446 million investment to remove the existing dikes, improve the grounds beneath them, then rebuild the dikes. The amount was more than double the annual city budget and city council asked higher levels of government for help.

That help never came. And in recent weeks Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said that solution is still needed.

“I shouldn’t say this, my staff will get mad at me, but I can see that whole structure, that whole dike, having to be repaired — not repaired, rebuilt — to a higher standard,” Braun said.

Abbotsford resident David Leis, a vice president at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, is familiar with the saga.

“Municipal officials were very upset that they could not persuade the provincial and federal governments to invest,” Leis said in an interview with Western Standard.

“If you went to the association of BC engineers or the BC association of local municipalities, I think that you’d see these constant messages, we need to invest in infrastructure. It’s almost like a broken record. As a former mayor, I know that record very well.”

Leis, a former mayor of Waterloo, Ont., said the issue extends far beyond BC.

“Certainly in municipalities if you scan the country there’s ones that are in much better shape than others, but many of them are really in rough condition,” Leis said.

“These are major infrastructure deficits and as a country we are grossly behind.”

An estimate by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the nation’s infrastructure deficit could be as high as $570 billion. Marco Navarro-Genie, of the Haultain Institute, said that money will be hard to find.

“The federal government committed to spending $180 billion in the next 12 years [on infrastructure]. And that doesn’t begin to cover it. So we’re talking mega money, and of course, a lot of the fiscal space that we had we just burned it through COVID, largely for no reason. So we’re in a bad way,” Navarro-Genie told Western Standard.

“In the rest of the country, we have similar problems as well. So we need to catch up to maintain. And we need to get ahead.”

Navarro-Genie said the combination of a high cost and delayed benefit makes infrastructure investment less attractive to politicians.

“They want to spend it on easy things, and they want to spend it on things that they can spin into the election cycle. And they want to spend it in the ridings where they’re going to get the most votes. This has been the perennial Canadian problem going back to the 1800s. By that measure, the top-level governments are playing politics and the lowest level government doesn’t really have the fiscal capacity to … do the big stuff.”

Navarro-Genie said regulations at all levels of government discourage the development of necessary projects. He would welcome an independent body arms-length from government to guide a proactive process.

“We shouldn’t start building pipelines when we need them. We should start building pipelines before we need them so they’re ready exactly when we’re going to need them,” he said.

Instead of facilitating a movement towards meeting infrastructure needs, some MPs, including Elizabeth May, have blamed the B.C. floods on climate change and called for an end to the fossil fuel industry. Leis disagrees.

“Leadership by definition, is doing the right thing for the long-term,” Leis said.

“Their job is to be prepared for this inevitable weather. The whole climate change thing is a is a big deflection from responsibility.”

Harding is a Western Standard correspondent based in Saskatchewan

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  1. Shepherdess

    December 3, 2021 at 9:07 am

    Feds have money for lots of BS projects, propaganda pushing, and paying people to stay at home during a BS pandemic. It’s all about Liberals’ political priorities.

  2. mhrycyk1@telus.net

    December 2, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    MP Ed Fast was an Abbotsford Councillor for 9 years 96-05, then transitioned to Federal representative…what the hell was he doing? How did he represent this region?

  3. Left Coast

    December 2, 2021 at 10:18 am

    The Trans Canada Highway under water in the picture was built in 1963 . . . and the configuration has changed little since that date.

    It was 1990 when the Sumas prairie was flooded like today, and in the 30 years that have passed since very little has changed.

    Anyone who has driven Interstate 90 into Bellevue & Seattle can see the stark contrast, much of BC infrastructure is mid-20th century.

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Massive, loud support displayed as BC’s truckers roll east

The convoy is approaching Alberta and will spend the night in Calgary before departing east on January 24 in conjunction with Alberta’s truckers.




The eastbound “freedom convoy” rolling towards Ottawa in protest of vaccine mandates is well underway with hundreds coming out to support the truckers’ departure from BC’s Lower Mainland early Sunday morning.

The recent mandate — instituted by the federal Liberal government on January 15 — is forcing truckers crossing the border into Canada to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival using the ArriveCan app if they want to avoid testing and quarantine requirements.

American truckers will be denied entry.

Prior to the the January 15 mandate truckers were deemed an essential service.

Despite widespread concern of further economic devastation amid an already hurting supply chain, Liberal Health Minister Jean Yves-Duclos maintains his position that restricting cross-border movement of unvaccinated truckers is the “right thing to do.”

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) anticipates the loss of 12,000-16,000 (10-15%) cross-border commercial drivers as a result.

In border areas, drivers will often cross over five or six times a day.

“That’s a lot of loads in a year that no longer have a way of coming up,” Colin Valentim told the Western Standard.

Valentim — who has been a trucker for more than 20 years — spearheaded the group out of BC, which steadily grew in size throughout the day as truckers across the province joined the Ottawa-bound convoy.

The convoy is approaching Alberta and will spend the night in Calgary before departing east on January 24 in conjunction with Alberta’s truckers.

When the convoy arrives in Ottawa, it will rendezvous with four convoys from various points of Ontario, convoys from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, other Atlantic areas, and Quebec — forming a mass coalescence of rolling steel within the nation’s capital.

“We need to show this government what they’re doing is wrong and we won’t take it anymore,” said Valentim.

While the national demonstration is organized by big-riggers, those involved say it represents other professions that have been effected by mandatory injections such as healthcare workers, municipal workers and more. All professions and vehicles are welcome in the convoy.

The official GoFundMe page has received more than 37,400 separate donations adding up to more than $2.8 million with donations steadily flowing in by the minute.

The fund’s page — organized by Tamara Lich — says money raised will be dispersed to truckers for the cost of the journey and “any leftover donations will be donated to a credible veteran’s organization which will be chosen by the donors.”

The page says GoFundMe will be sending donations directly to “our bulk fuel supplier.”

“Your hard-earned money is going straight to who it was meant for without having to flow through anyone else,” reads the page.

The Western Standard reached out to Lich for further details regarding the allocation of donor’s funds, but has not heard back.

“Time to stop these mandates destroying people’s lives and businesses,” writes one donor.

“This tyranny must stop, and I believe the truckers are uniquely positioned to make this point,” writes another.

Maps, routes, times, and contact information for the respective organizers can be found here.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard

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Judge slashes large defamation award to only $50,000

The judge ruled prairie courts are much more modest in awarding liberal damages.




A Manitoba judge has slashed the $500,000 awarded to a defamation victim to $50,000, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The judge ruled prairie courts are much more modest in awarding liberal damages.

“Civil jury trials in Manitoba are rare,” wrote Justice William Burnett of the Manitoba Court of Appeal.

“Awards for defamation in that amount are virtually non-existent.”

“The jury’s award of $500,000 is wholly disproportionate and shockingly unreasonable,” wrote Burnett, who worked 32 years as a civil litigator.

“This was not a case of widespread or repeated publication of defamatory statements in print media, radio, television or on the Internet.”

Millionaire developer Marcel Chartier in 2021 won his defamation claim against a former business partner who badmouthed him at a lunch meeting. The court was told Chartier’s ex-partner had called him a thief.

“There was no further publication of the defamatory comments,” wrote Burnett.

The slander was uttered to two people over a lunch table, “a small audience by any measure,” and “the impact of the comments was negligible,” the court added.

“The jury’s award of $500,000 is replaced with an award of $50,000,” ordered the court, noting there “is no mathematical formula” to placing value on damages for defamation.

Burnett said he reviewed dozens of rulings in Western courts, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia over the past six years in concluding the half-million award was excessive.

“Having considered more than 50 recent decisions where damages were awarded for reputational harm it is readily apparent the present award is well beyond the maximum limit of a reasonable range,” wrote Burnett.

Large libel awards are uncommon in Canada. The Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench last December 15 ordered the CBC to pay $1,659,403 for defaming a local investment adviser in a 2012 television broadcast.

The case is under appeal.

The largest award to date, $3 million, was paid in 2008 to an Ottawa pilot falsely accused of impairment.

The Supreme Court in 1995 upheld a $1.6 million award to a Toronto Crown prosecutor defamed by the Church of Scientology.

In 2016, the British Columbia Supreme Court awarded $1.1 million in damages to a Vancouver businessman falsely accused of being a drug trafficker.

The Supreme Court in 2002 refused to hear an appeal from the CBC over a $950,000 award to an Ottawa physician falsely accused of improper conduct by the news program The Fifth Estate.

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Sask residents say vaccine choices dividing families

“It’s putting these parents in a really horrible situation,” said Ness. “It’s not selfishness. They truly believe to their core that it’s not the right decision for them. It’s not that they don’t want their children.”




For personal and legal reasons, vaccine choices are dividing families, say two Saskatchewan residents.

Michael Jackson, a divorced father from the rural community of Carievale in southeastern Saskatchewan, was opposed to his seven-year-old daughter Sarah receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.

When his ex-wife said Sarah would get the vaccine, he refused to return her. Jackson’s ex-wife applied for a court order for police to retrieve Sarah and a judge heard the case in court.

Jackson lost his case and failed in a subsequent appeal. He went into hiding with his daughter before police could enforce the court order.

Two cases in Quebec suggest judges in other provinces take a similar view. Last fall, a 13-year-old boy wanted the vaccine so he could be in school sports and go to movies and restaurants, but his father was opposed. Then his wife, the mother of the boy, went to court and had the father’s objections overruled.

A similar ruling was made by a Lethbridge judge.

Nadine Ness, founder of Unified Grassroots, says a Lloydminster father who got their under-12 child vaccinated for COVID-19 showed her that proper checks aren’t always made. 

“He messaged me, ‘Look, I’m pro-vaccine. But I think you should know this,’” Ness recalled in an interview.

“He was never asked any documentation as to who he was, how connected he was to that child, nothing. He was just asked for the kids’ health card, and that was it, nothing else. So if that’s happening, then parents who have full decision authority over their children’s health, like the other parent can go and do whatever they want because they’re not asking for ID either. That was a story that I found really odd and concerning.

At other times, parents are at odds. Shortly before Christmas, a Quebec judge denied an unvaccinated father visitation rights to his double-vaccinated 12-year-old child. Ness said knows of instances where parents are using the threat of vaccinating children for COVID-19 as a bargaining chip to extract more from the parent who is opposed.

“I grew up in a divorced family with an absent mother. She was a drug addict, so I know what it’s like to grow without a parent there. And I know how important it is for both parents to be involved in children’s lives. I’m divorced myself, so I share custody of my kids,” Ness said.

“I could never imagine anyone trying to keep their kids away from the other parent, but it’s just you see that too often in custody issues…If you’re using your child to go after the other parent, you’re not doing what’s in your child’s best interest.”

Ness said former allowances for the unvaccinated to cross the U.S. border to see their non-adult children have been taken away.

“At this point, policies like that just show more that this is not about health. And this is about punishing the people who oppose government, punishing political opposition,” Ness said.

“Omicron is so mild. We had it all in our house and I was sick for a day and a half…It was the mildest cold I’ve ever had. My son was sick and had fever for six hours. That was it, nothing else. He’s seven. My 12-year-old never got symptoms, and my two-year-old had a bit of a runny nose.”

Ness believes COVID-19 is an inadequate reason for politicians, judges, and families to separate unvaccinated family members from their children or other relatives.

“It’s putting these parents in a really horrible situation…Some of these parents, it’s not selfishness. They truly believe to their core that it’s not the right decision for them. It’s not that they don’t want their children or don’t want to see their children,” Ness said.

“These are real people, real lives affected. They’re not just robots. It’s dehumanizing them and not recognizing them. These are children who go to bed at night crying because they don’t have their other parent there, their family member there. 

“They don’t deserve this; they deserve better from us. And we deserve better from our government as well.”

Lee Harding is a contributor to the Western Standard living in Saskatchewan.

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