Letters, Submissions & Opinions

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New Silk Road – China’s resurgence and lessons for Canada - 
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In British Columbia, the pendulum swings with such velocity it destroys things, the only thing that destroys more is the rhetoric that moves it and resulting distortion of public perception.  The recent events in our provinces politics are no exception and they are a product of failing to build consensus on a foundation of reason. Once again, short-termism, election cycles, frivolous posturing and spin are taking us away from health and prosperity to waste and destruction. What is even more ridiculous, is that the only thing there is consensus on, is the use of a Carbon Tax as a deterrent to fossil fuel use; a proposition I can readily disprove and is just plain stupid. One watches in disbelief as contention fueled folly leads us like a pack of squabbling lemmings into the realm of ineffective policy.



I search every day for purity of thought in government policy – highest and best use, social goals, regional advantage, innovated education policy, disruptive economic policy, rural revitalization, rational medical policy – there is a void. There is a void because everybody is appeasing special interests and snuggling sacred cows; somehow we need to have the courage to question the status quo and design a future that holds prosperous people, social transcendence and a healthy environment.


To the socialists that clutch to mediocrity in the form of monolithic government institutions for security and salvation; I say that a truly generalised state of prosperity will never be found there and worse, institutions steal families and individuals. To the “top 1%” I say, pursue an exclusionary policy at your peril, Marx and Engels were created by exclusionary policy and their thinking has set motion several human disasters – disasters that can only be measured against the neglect of the working masses in the industrial revolution.  To the preservationists I say, we are the stewards of the earth now – the face of the earth is going to change, it is how you view that change that matters – Chernobyl, indisputably one of the largest disasters in history and it has created a wildlife refuge for short-lived mammals – that is everyone but us – it is a paradox that the thing you feared most generated what you love most – so have courage there is always a way forward. We live in the most beautiful and abundant place in the world, we can afford to be generous and we can afford to pursue a disruptive policy in the pursuit of a generalised state of prosperity and a healthy environment.


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There are a lot of “inconvenient truth(s)” that people want to ignore – here’s one – if every resident of British Columbia ceased to exist today, every environmental concern presently at play on the global stage would continue unabated – the only thing lost would be BC’s bank of human capital that wants to protect the environment. So it makes no sense to “sacrifice” our children’s futures at the altar of example – but rather make sensible use of our natural abundance, to generate wealth, to lead the change we are seeking. If you believe for one moment that stopping the production of fossil fuels in Canada will somehow drive better behaviour in other actors – you are a naïve. The vast majority of other actors in the world will respond to one thing, less expensive energy - whether it helps the environment or not – so that is where the focus should be – viable alternatives.  A policy that works is made by people accepting reality, rather than people peddling altruism. Focus altruism on measured outcomes.



Here’s another “inconvenient truth”, there has never been a school in history that has taught a child, people teach children. There was a time that knowledge travelled painlessly from one generation to the next through the course of life - no institution in sight. We have created a collection of institutions that place a higher value on credentials and process, than on knowledge and that has translated into a society that places a higher value on the status of credentials than value added outcome.  Most education is really a supply management system, we have a situation where most people are underemployed or waiting to be employed. Clearly, one needs to guard against nihilism or destructive change and take care of people who now depend on various established systems for prosperity – the trend away from this reality is essential if we are to ever to transcend the constraints our institutions are putting on the human enterprise.  We can accomplish this if we provide more relevant, rapid and less costly knowledge transfer – and credentials that are measured by improved outcome rather than ink on a page.



Here’s another “inconvenient truth”, there are a collection of people who want to control human discourse – they want to centralise power and impose their view of the world. Their view is often outmoded or corrupted by various interests that are antithetical to progress. As a result, we have legislation with many very damaging externalities – public policy should have one goal – that the human enterprise is exercised in pursuit of the expansion of the human condition – happy, healthier and prosperous people; that is to say, the facilitation of the populous. Seed the economy in the way homestead policy built 1/3 of the United States net worth, by giving people opportunity to prosper.  We have many opportunities in British Columbia for such effort – forest renewal, the transition to “tree farming” from “tree extraction”, tourism, agriculture and high tech offer many opportunities for aggressive support by the government in the form of independent capitalization. Much of what we have is wasted on policy that lacks an extended vision –  and without a consensus, we shuffle from the pillar back to the post.  Here we need cast aside old modalities to let a thousand flowers bloom, to emerge as they will – we need only feed them.



Here’s another “inconvenient truth”, institutional inertia is taking us to the wrong place, nowhere is this truer than our medical system. Everyone has worked under failed strategy, one tactical change after another and the system is screaming for more, staff are overworked, resources are short - service is low, people are left wanting.  The concern here is the care and well-being of the population, as opposed to, preserving the medical system as it now exists. There is an irrationality that has gripped the Canadian populous on this issue and it is true here in British Columbia. We have to draw on all models – models beyond medical service delivery and design a system the provisions cutting edge care in abundance – it can be done because it is done in other areas of service.   



Old ideas, old divisions and old thinking will take us to old places. We need to have the courage to forge a way forward that takes the long view, that can be counted on, that recognizes reality rather than pandering to existing in the box thinkers, we need to fragment group think at its source – the education system, we need to first educate and then finance our young people, we need to realize that prosperity for the poor is prosperity for everyone, we need infrastructure, we need rational environment policy – what we’re getting is political squabbling and lost opportunity.


Some More Thinking



OPEN MARKETS: The Challenge they are Presented



I should premise my comments here by saying "I am a believer" in the market economy. I am a believer because I have watched it work so often and so well, and, conversely, I've seen other modalities fail profoundly. The Market economy is an extension of the natural inclination for human beings, to interface with the environment to further their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their offspring.  We live at the apex of human existence in Canada right now, look closely at what has gotten us here – good governance, family, effort and community – most importantly though is human enterprise.  Early in Canada's development, the government decided it needed people and it said to Europeans – come to Canada and we will give you land. Thousands answered the call, from all walks of life, from all nationalities and together we built a country that is widely considered the best in the world. Certainly, there were mistakes made, but even the negatively affected by the European focus are better off here in Canada than most people the world over. Quibble if you will over details, be disgruntled if you must, but remember if you will, the privilege that being Canadian grants.

When I say "business" people affected by modernity and related institutions often grimace – they think exploitation and a number of other thoughts they've been conditioned to think. Business, enterprise, capitalism is people finding ways to extract a livelihood and prosperity from the earth. There is at times a long and winding road between the earth and the modern financial system; it behoves us all to remember the interconnection. 

Every layer of abstraction between the populous and the earth is an opportunity for someone to profit. People use regulation, legislation – governance generally to better themselves – this reality can create distortion between the fruitful utilisation of the "earth" or the highest and best use of the earth absent government intervention relative to what actually transpires. There are other considerations at play certainly, however, the challenges associated with economy mostly stem from distortions facilitated by governance. The question is, does policy, governance, fairly represent the actual activity of people OR, does policy, governance, distort the activity of people or misdirect benefit. The goal of all policy should be to permit the human enterprise to occur absent coercion or distortion and to facilitate human enterprise generally. The "bum rap" "capitalism" has gotten is the perception of many in the populous that "enterprise" has corrupted governance in a manner that is detrimental to the populous. It is true the corporations have lobbied effectively for their interests and hence they have gained distorting advantage in some areas, as it is true, that large labour organisations have lobbied effectively for their interests. The fact that these interests have gained prominence in legislation is no fault of the parties, it is the fault of leadership (governance) for failing to develop systems that govern to the highest and best good, rather than, governance that falls prey to special interest. 

Increasingly, the two primary and most represented actors affecting the political space – big business and big labour – are drawing society as a whole toward a regulatory regime that suits their interests and in doing so, they are constraining and or distorting the market for the third leg of the economy which consists of artisans, artists, small business, self-employed, farmers etc. The fragmented nature of the third leg of the economy precludes as concentrated of a lobbying effort relative to the other two legs of the economy. This phenomenon, if left unaddressed, will result in an ever increasing concentration of wealth and influence flowing to large corporations, labour unions and government. We need large corporations, we need government and we have labour unions (due to bad governance and greed on the part of employers). The question becomes, what is the right mix?  It is my ardent desire to raise the alarm, that in Canada we are increasingly becoming institutionalised, that there is a trend away from self-reliant and independent individuals of the sort the third leg of the economy produces. This is occurring because of the combination of mass media, mass markets, mass education, massive lobby efforts and the resulting regulatory realities have created so many barriers to entry that "independents" have a difficult time entering markets or participating in an effective way. 

It is a Faustian circumstance that has incumbent actors in the market effectively precluding other entrants due to incumbents being able to control access to the market via regulation.  It is a paradox that the thing best for the advancement of the human condition, is most resisted by economic players – the best thing being disruption and or creative destruction – there is a vibrancy that emerges from one operational model falling and new more effective one filling its place that moves the human condition forward rapidly.  In a vibrant economy, absorption of new technologies is rapid and attempted by several actors generating a circumstance that heuristics provide the best outcome; dramatically contrasted to government institutions where absorptive capacity is extremely limited and so advancement is stagnated. 

An unfettered market is very effective at delivering goods and services at reduced managerial cost. In Canada the CRTC controls communications and media, they constrain the supply of related goods and services in a number of different ways and as a result, in Canada, we pay more for media and have less variety of product and service. 

An open market means that there is an opportunity for non-incumbents to enter readily, that regulation is directed only at health and safety and never supply of product or services. In the new world in order for new technology to find its way to use, we need open markets – regulations for health and safety are a must – otherwise, the government needs to stay out of the way.  

We have attained an exceptional standard of living in the West, in Canada especially, we have the solutions. The Anglo / European economic complex has enjoyed immense success. There are improvements to be made to build out prosperity to the populous generally under the rubric of the Anglo / European economic complex. The core of the system, the engine, the market, works. The markets work because they are nothing more than people doing what people have always done with a common modality of interface – that being a currency.


CLICK BELOW - More Thoughts on the Subject


   

So what’s the Issue with Consumerism?

 

There are a lot of groups in society that rail against consumerism. I have a hard time clearly interpreting the semantics in the discourse, some view consumerism as an attack on the earth, others see as a frivolous pan-societal addiction – an instant gratification fest – and others see both these elements as reasons to speak out against it. I am inclined to agree with both these positions, they are valid concerns. What is invalid, however, is attaching these concerns to a market economy. A market economy does manage to sell some stupid junk, but please remember, it provides a larger portion of essentials. Please examine the most commoditized markets – FOOD – it comes to those is market economies in such abundance that we get too much. You can argue that the world food distribution system is faulty because there is a bottom billion, please also remember, that the bottom billion, for the most part, are outside the Anglo / Euro economic sphere. – our task is to have them join use in prosperity.  

 

The Dollar Store dilemma; trinkets abound and even the poor can buy them in abundance – one piece of plastic after another is an affront to the environment and effects an ill in the development of children, whereby, children exist in a mountain of frivolous simulation absent focused activity. There is a triple whammy here, there is the initial true waste of resources, there is the distraction from learning and there is an inter-generational conditioning factor whereby, children accept the culture of pacification by distraction. So consumerism in this context is a concern, it is a cultural element made possible by the efficiency of the market system. The solution is to change the cultural element, as opposed to the annihilation of the market economy. This phenomenon is in no way a call to Trotskyism, it is rather a call to enlighten the affected to the ills of their ways and to show them the path to a fulfilled and whole existence.

 

The challenge that emerges out of the fight against consumerism is, that people are oft times raising the alarm to the ill, to channel attention to a political objective, rather than, to seek solution within the context of contemporary society. They tend to point to consumerism as an inevitable extension of the market economy and offer it as a part of a complex of factors that doom humanity to ruin under the rubric of capitalism. I am here to say that consumerism is damaging and requires a concerted effort by civil society and government to educate and redirect, AND the market economy has delivered more prosperity to the populace than any other system in human history – so it should be maintained and enhanced. 

More Thinking on the Subject


      

New Silk Road – China’s resurgence and lessons for Canada


I’m often away from the news these days and now and again I turn on the Radio. One day I turned on the radio and they were talking about the New Silk Road, a Chinese initiative to build “new” trade access to Europe and Africa. The initiative brings several Arab countries into the trade picture, looks to Russia and others. It is about infrastructure to connect trading regions, highways, railways etc.  It is a massive initiative, it is visionary, it is real leadership. In management we always look to find the BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal, the New Silk Road is such a thing.

 

The details of the initiative are less important than fact that China has gotten started on something that is interregional, that reaches out to many “incompatible” national actors and so promises peace and prosperity in the amalgamation of interests under the banner of trade. China sceptics will say this is all in China’s interests, I agree, that is only a problem if you believe China’s interests are mutually exclusive to other actor’s interests – of course, this is in no way the case. Other actors will only participate if they see value in the exchange. It does signal, however, that the “hermit nation” China once was, has now graduated even more dramatically onto the world stage.

 

Do I see a threat in this, yes – less from the fact that China is doing it and more from the fact that the West is so complacent it has failed to offer such leadership. We use to “do” leadership, Suez Canal, Panama Canal, Breton Woods, British Empire … you’re getting the picture – the west has too many chubby and comfortable people avoiding making waves to lead anymore.  China, by contrast, is emerging, emerging with the most powerful combination of authoritarian government, national homogeneity and a vigorous corporatist culture – if that sounds familiar it should, it is the combination the built the British Empire. We, rightly, let China into our markets so that it could transition from a generally reduced state to be a player at par on the world stage – they and we have a responsibility to ensure measured progress; they in working toward liberating the masses and us in exercising ourselves robustly.

 

When the wall first fell, there was optimism in the world – we were talking about building a bridge over the Bearing Straight – a North America / Europe connector – I remember my heart leaping at the prospect. Have we wasted that opportunity by miss-management – perhaps? I think that Russia could be convinced to contemplate such a project – imagine the impact if you will – of a Transworld highway with a cloverleaf exit to the New Silk Road and intermodal ground transport from Montreal to Johannesburg. It would have been nice to have initiated such a proposal and hence been able to more effectively define the project, now our only option is to augment and then compete to gain influence in what promises to be one of the most revolutionary “infrastructure” projects in world history. 

 

China has in the main developed infrastructure that pays, that is, national high-tech infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, human capital infrastructure – there has been some overkill in some areas certainly, however, the focus is correct. There is an adroitness in authoritarian government that can and has in Canada’s case, get lost in democracies. Further, there is longevity in policy, a course is plotted and taken to fruition. This can be a bad thing too, as was the case with the Great Leap Forward that resulted in some 30 million souls starving to death – there is a balance to be struck to be sure.  The embrace of market incentives and a free market stance generally and trade has made a dramatic difference in the progress of the country.

 

So what’s the take away from China’s success for us, Canada, the provinces and communities? First, sit down and clearly define a 25 year and 50-year infrastructure program founded on consensus from interest groups, commit to the program via legislation that isolates it from the rigours of the political process, and execute with vigour and integrity. 

 

What would this infrastructure program look like?

 

1.       Education – no buildings – intellectual capital

a.       Intellectual Capital is infrastructure – I submit the most important infrastructure, the challenge we have is convincing people to donate time and energy toward valuing it and communicating that value in dollars and cents – the language universally understood by all.

2.       Big pipes for the internet and a world network of server stations

3.       Nationwide Communications

4.       Road, Rail, Sea and other transport – Transmission Lines, Pipe Lines etc.…

5.       Conservation, the general greening of infrastructure, infrastructure support for alternate energy sources.

 

China’s intellectual capital is growing exponentially, China generates 300,000 engineers annually, we do a tenth of that – engineers apply technology. The world’s knowledge is nearly doubling every 6 months – the fax machine was invented in WW2 and the technology only gained penetration into the population in the 1970s. We need people to convert a mountain of latent technology into usable products and services, it is the world’s weakest link – Canada needs to occupy this space. Disruptions like a transistor radio, the computer will become a weekly event – so knowledge acquisition can no longer have a massive institution attached to it with four, six and eight year time frames to action. In WW2, the time it took to train a piolet was measured in weeks, basic training was six weeks – they were farm boys who had just left the age of horse farming – surely we can get a doctor up and running faster than eight years or a carpenter faster than four years. We are warehousing our best, brightest and most vigorous population in universities for nearly a decade, think what they could do if they learned on the run as I have and many others have. It is far more efficient to set about a task and collect the knowledge needed for that task than to try and educate yourself for every eventuality or contingency; properly structured knowledge transfer can do this – self-paced, independent and freely accessible are the order of the day.

 

While China’s infrastructure program is less than perfect, it is better than ours. The Chinese transformation has lessons for us, we would be wise to avail ourselves of them and act decisively. If we meander along as we have, or let the political pendulum send us to and fro, the Chinese assent will be both wasted on us and will likely consume us. 






State of the Province

In British Columbia, the pendulum swings with such velocity it destroys things, the only thing that destroys more is the rhetoric that moves it and resulting distortion of public perception.  The recent events in our provinces politics are no exception and they are a product of failing to build consensus on a foundation of reason. Once again, short-termism, election cycles, frivolous posturing and spin are taking us away from health and prosperity to waste and destruction. What is even more ridiculous, is that the only thing there is consensus on, is the use of a Carbon Tax as a deterrent to fossil fuel use; a proposition I can readily disprove and is just plain stupid. One watches in disbelief as contention fueled folly leads use like a pack of squabbling lemmings into the realm of ineffective policy.

 

I search every day for purity of thought in government policy – highest and best use, social goals, regional advantage, innovated education policy, disruptive economic policy, rural revitalization, rational medical policy – there is a void. There is a void because everybody is appeasing special interests and snuggling sacred cows; somehow we need to have the courage to question the status quo and design a future that holds prosperous people, social transcendence and a healthy environment.

 

To the socialists that clutch to mediocrity in the form of monolithic government institutions for security and salvation; I say that a truly generalised state of prosperity will never be found there and worse, institutions steal families and individuals. To the “top 1%” I say, pursue an exclusionary policy at your peril, Marx and Engels were created by exclusionary policy and their thinking has set motion several human disasters – disasters that can only be measured against the neglect of the working masses in the industrial revolution.  To the preservationists I say, we are the stewards of the earth now – the face of the earth is going to change, it is how you view that change that matters – Chernobyl, indisputably one of the largest disasters in history and it has created a wildlife refuge for short-lived mammals – that is everyone but us – it is a paradox that the thing you feared most generated what you love most – so have courage there is always a way forward. We live in the most beautiful and abundant place in the world, we can afford to be generous and we can afford to pursue a disruptive policy in the pursuit of a generalised state of prosperity and a healthy environment.

 

There are a lot of “inconvenient truth(s)” that people want to ignore – here’s one – if every resident of British Columbia ceased to exist today, every environmental concern presently at play on the global stage would continue unabated – the only thing lost would be BC’s bank human capital the wants to protect the environment. So it makes no sense to “sacrifice” our children’s futures at the altar of example – but rather make sensible use of our natural abundance, to generate wealth, to lead the change we are seeking. If you believe for one moment that stopping the production of fossil fuels in Canada will somehow drive better behaviour in other actors – you are a naïve. The vast majority of other actors in the world will respond to one thing, less expensive energy - whether it helps the environment or not – so that is where the focus should be – viable alternatives.  A policy that works is made by people accepting reality, rather than people peddling altruism. Focus altruism on measured outcomes.

 

Here’s another “inconvenient truth”, there has never been a school in history that has taught a child, people teach children. There was a time that knowledge travelled painlessly from one generation to the next through the course of life - no institution in sight. We have created a collection of institutions that place a higher value on credentials and process, than on knowledge and that has translated into a society that places a higher value on the status of credentials than value added outcome.  Most education is really a supply management system, we have a situation where most people are underemployed or waiting to be employed. Clearly, one needs to guard against nihilism or destructive change and take care of people who now depend on various established systems for prosperity – the trend away from this reality is essential if we are to ever to transcend the constraints our institutions are putting on the human enterprise.  We can accomplish this if we provide more relevant, rapid and less costly knowledge transfer – and credentials that are measured by improved outcome rather than ink on a page.

 

Here’s another “inconvenient truth”, there are a collection of people who want to control human discourse – they want to centralise power and impose their view of the world. Their view is often outmoded or corrupted by various interests that are antithetical to progress. As a result, we have legislation with many very damaging externalities – public policy should have one goal – that the human enterprise is exercised in pursuit of the expansion of the human condition – happy, healthier and prosperous people; that is to say, the facilitation of the populous. Seed the economy in the way homestead policy built 1/3 of the United States net worth, by giving people opportunity to prosper.  We have many opportunities in British Columbia for such effort – forest renewal, the transition to “tree farming” from “tree extraction”, tourism, agriculture and high tech offer many opportunities for aggressive support by the government in the form of independent capitalization. Much of what we have is wasted on policy that lacks an extended vision –  and without a consensus, we shuffle from the pillar back to the post.  Here we need cast aside old modalities to let a thousand flowers bloom, to emerge as they will – we need only feed them.

 

Here’s another “inconvenient truth”, institutional inertia is taking us to the wrong place, nowhere is this truer than our medical system. Everyone has worked under failed strategy, one tactical change after another and the system is screaming for more, staff are overworked, resources are short - service is low, people are left wanting.  The concern here is the care and wellbeing of the population, as opposed to, preserving the medical system as it now exists. There is an irrationality that has gripped the Canadian populous on this issue and it is true here in British Columbia. We have to draw on all models – models beyond medical service delivery and design a system the provisions cutting edge care in abundance – it can be done because it is done in other areas of service.    

 

Old ideas, old divisions and old thinking will take us to old places. We need to have the courage to forge a way forward that takes the long view, that can be counted on, that recognizes reality rather than pandering to existing in the box thinkers, we need to fragment group think at its source – the education system, we need to first educate and then finance our young people, we need to realize that prosperity for the poor is prosperity for everyone, we need infrastructure, we need rational environment policy – what we’re getting is political squabbling and lost opportunity.


DOWN FOR DAYCARE


Get Real on Climate Change and NO IMPACT Fossil Fuel Use


When contemplating the management of the transition to no impact from fossil fuel, one must begin with an accurate map of reality. In listening to the recent debate that has flared up as a product of recent election dynamics in British Columbia, one realises that the map of reality being relied on in many cases is grossly inaccurate.


Reality one - we have to transition over a period of 40 to 50 years and it takes money to find other solutions. Reality two - there is insufficient fungibility in energy products to permit demand to be met by none fossil fuels. Reality three - whether Canada produces oil or not world demand for oil remains the same and world consumption remains the same.


As a young person, I used to worry a lot about the issue of fossil fuel use. There were very dire predictions about the year 2000, the predictions were made, 2000 came and they simply never transpired; so from my perspective, the “scientists” have a credibility gap. It is important to note that the perception of a credibility gap and the absence of concern are different; I believe attention to the issue is required – I just have heard the rhetoric before. So remain calm and let's think this trough, people need to tone down the rhetoric.



The climate change solution lies in a multitude of approaches from conservation, to mitigation, to new energy sources AND no impact fossil fuel use. The transition time needs to be contemplated in terms of decades - 40 to 50 years. It will take strong leadership and clear vision to get there. The reality is we will be calling on all solutions, including mitigation, because, the inertia associated with fossil fuel use is so strong. To fail to weigh this reality fully is folly, folly in finding a solution, folly in caring for the earth and folly in damaging our economy and by extension our ability to drive change.


What is concerning to me is the degree of isolation there is in the contemplation of the issue, there is an inclination to ignore reality.  The fossil fuel nihilists scream for the end of fossil fuels and offer no viable alternative. Please see below, this is where we are, this is the reality check – transition to alternatives is a 40 to 50-year process. There is a demand for fossil fuel, it will be filled, Canada can supply it and extract the wealth necessary to facilitate transition OR we can give the money to Nigeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela … it is more than stupid to curtail our industry, it is irresponsible in the extreme.



MY PROFESSIONAL WEBSITE


There is also an inclination within the environmental community to “reduce” the use of the natural environment. This inclination tends to shrink more than the impact on the earth, it tends also to reduce the expectation of possibility – a culture of limitation has evolved: in the 1950s we were going faster, farther, higher – in 2015 we are seeking to reduce movement. It is important to note, however, that the West has this inclination while many others are just forging ahead absent an aft glance. We can build pipelines and transport oil safely - and we have too for all the reasons stated above.


WE NEED TO GET OUR OIL TO MARKET 


The effort people spend fighting the Oil Industry should be directed to developing technology and the safe use of fossil fuel. People tend to forget how good of a fuel fossil fuel is and using is in no way the problem, emissions are. We could, as a transition strategy, devote efforts to the safe use of fossil fuel more aggressively. A far better strategy is to dedicate substantive resources to new technologies rather than fighting Canada's oil industry. 


Finally, I believe in a market based economy, I believe in that the efficiency of business can be directed in a manner that harmonizes human activity with the earth. Many of the people I listen to speak on the issue have a blind spot when it comes to economics, worse they have a prejudice against economic thinking. The very best way to understand people and their interface with the earth is to look at the capsulized view of human activity financial data provides.  



Every time a finance minister deliberates over a pair of shoes, what to buy to express their view of the country’s best way forward, I am hopeful, hopeful that just once, there will be extended discourse on accountability mechanisms – you know, monitoring and reporting – I am always left with my hopes dashed. To be fair, the past conservative government did at least attempted with the Accountability Act to give voice to the issue. The challenge remains, however, substantive change to government operations has seen very little evolution. There is a massive requirement for real accountability, accountability that has ANY government policy subjected to a public mission statement, metrics and indicators that measure whether the mission has been met AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, an independent assessment and reporting entity. I have lobbied government repeatedly to deliver this type of accountability, we focus attention on Senator miss-spending or other “nickel and dime” issues, “nickel and dime” compared to the billions of dollars government eats in wasted spending because, present reporting mechanisms have such a long and winding, ambiguous accountability cycle – there is just no resolution for the public to see the efficacy of government spending.


In business we have a “dashboard” to guide use, firstly, there is always the bottom line as a gross measure of performance – there is just no hiding from that. Secondly, in business, we have key metrics and accompanying indicators that we use to measure performance. We also benchmark our performance relative to the norm or our peers, indicators like market share, gross margin, internal rate of return, return on assets – a nearly endless list ratios and measures are used to ensure our decision making is taking us on the right path. The quality of a decision can only be assessed if it is measured - if you can't measure you can't manage it. We need a dashboard for the Canadian public, so they have an objective measure of governance; presently we have no clear dashboard or clear communication of governmental performance.   


There needs to be a government entity that is at arm’s length from government that firstly has a narrow mandate analogous to The Bank of Canada, to at least, publish, or preferably, limit government spending to a an agreed ratio with GDP or some other metric – the key being to maintain government size and spending at optimum. Secondly, this entity would report to the Canadian public on the efficacy of government spending against a fully declared policy mission, metrics and indicators and report in a clear and standardised manner.


The primary impediment to this dream coming true is; any incumbent government that institutes a measure such as this incur a disadvantage, because of the variance of accountability relative to past accountability mechanisms. The best means for implementation is nonpartisan development and deferred implementation – participants are always better at developing policy absent immediate effect.


This is in no way a left or right issue, this is an issue of universal concern; regardless of what size you believe the government should be, or the degree of spending you want the government to do – we should all want to know government funds are used wisely – we have no idea now.      


CLICK BELOW - More Thoughts On the Issue



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We want Canadian’s to have a good life, we want well-adjusted children and we know that the choice to have children is taxing, relative to avoiding having children. Parents have raised children since the dawn of time absent government intervention and the world has progressed. I think people sense that providing help in the form of a child subsidy of some sort would ease the load that new parents encounter. So let’s just say that parents’ need help and we are going to give it to them; it is better to give parents help (money) than to build another institution to put little children in.


I am eager to call attention to a generalised trend in society, a trend that promises to generate a cultural monolith rather than diversity, as we know in nature, a monoculture is dangerous and so it is in society.  The trend is the institutionalisation of our country – we are – from coast to coast to coast institutionalised – institutions by their nature feed the centre of the bell curve, the exceptional and the challenged get winnowed out.  


“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Lenin


Our education system is a monolith; the “school” culture is nearly pan-Canadian, save small variances. The capacity for the school system to adapt to trends, to absorb technology and to attend to the individual is grossly retarded by the size of educational institutions alone.  The vast majority of individuals in the system providing services are exceptionally trained and good people; the challenge is the environment we create for them impairs their being as effective as they could be.  There is a push in Canada to expand the school system further down into the early childhood sphere, to institutionalise child rearing; it is a disturbing thing to see people lobbying the government to put their children into an institution. People should be lobbying government for MORE time with their children as opposed to trying to farm them out.


The institutionalisation of childhood and development of children is troubling. At every turn children are put into organised environments, organised play – it is making a generation of followers who are creativity deficient. I get tired of seeing kids in uniforms, in schools, in single file walking down streets behind a “childcare” worker. I want to see them figuring things out, in environments where there in inter-generational knowledge transfer. People tend to forget, child rearing is in no way child minding, we should avoid occupying them until they are adults. Child rearing is the building of an adult, they need one on one time with adults for that to occur effectively.  


Why is it important for parents to retain influence over their children? There is a unique dynamic that occurs as parents come together and make a family, family cultures and genes merge and a phenotype emerges from the process. The children can only become steeped in the culture peculiar to their parent’s merger if their parents contribute to their rearing. From the merger of family cultures children are shaped in a unique way, that “phenotype” combines with the ambient culture to generate outcomes, this is the wellspring of diverse people and thought – we need to preserve it.


When I was a child we use to use the term “school of thought”, how often do you hear it now? There really is only one school of thought now, one approach to challenges and opportunities; group think pan-Canada – let’s hope no one walks off a cliff. 


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First Nation Concerns

As part of my interests, personal and commercial, I am often contemplating the management and use of Crown Lands. In British Columbia 95% of our province is Crown Land, a massive amount of wealth lays latent in this “land trust”, wealth to fuel our economy and the future well-being of our population. So when the Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia decision came to my attention, I thought it useful to review the decision from a business perspective, “What are the implications here?” and “How might I direct my efforts in the future?”. Most of the activities I propose to use Crown Land for will find the acceptance of the First Nation People’s (FNPs) and non-native British Columbians alike, the implications for large scale industrial actors, however, are substantive, it may mean that some activities are undertaken in the past stop, it may mean that who they do business will change – more with the FNP’s and less with the Crown, or in some instances the time between asking to use Crown Land and getting access may render a project untenable – consultation is costly and, at times slow.


The goal for relations with FNPs should be the winnowing away of differences between the FNPs and the general population; in the context of nation specific concerns like the preservation of language, traditions and culture and in the spirit of multiculturalism and parity of living standard. The present modalities of interface are enshrining more deeply "segregation", it is deplorable that we have a document called the "Indian Act", that we have segregated FNP's concerns from the general population in the Constitution of our country. It is worse that, in segregation has come the systemization of confrontation, confrontational processes that impede the most base outcome of reconciliation - harmony of the people.  The concept of an "aboriginal right" is challenging - inherent in this concept is a right held by "them" that I am absent of, it is apartheid in nature. The goal needs to be, to bring the aboriginal peoples into accord with their respective cultures, to ensure they hold a quality of life commensurate with the "norm" and to effect accord with the general population.


Recognizing the past


There should be built into the Canadian Cultural construct a special greeting we give to FNP, a greeting that symbolizes at once our shame and pain for the past, our respect in the present and our commitment to a fair and right future.  I'm unsure what such a word would sound like, or how to create it, or even who would create it, but we should all remember what a human contortion the combination of government power, cultural superiority, inept people and misdirected theology can create and the pain it caused the most innocent of people.


There is beauty the emanates from the extended association between a given land and a given people, and that language and culture the evolves and grows in that association. The Inuit have 220 words for snow, a richness of expression that could only occur where snow is life. Language defines us, words are formed thoughts and work to form thought, when a language dies we all suffer. The systematized destruction of a culture and language is an affront to all humanity; the violence by which this destruction was executed is inexplicable.        


The events around the assimilation process effected a degree of atrocity outside my capacity to understand, as they are outside my life experience. There is an obligation in a reconciliation process to recognize ill treatment, horrendous ill treatment, and seek a just response. As there is no price one can put on a human life, there is no price one can put on the intentional destruction of a people's culture. These types of incursions on the human soul have no recompense, there is no pecuniary cure. Justice here means finding those who perpetrated wrongful action, often obscene affronts to children in the most extreme state of aloneness and making them pay.  When that path of response is overtaken by events, all that is left for justice is to protect future generations from such atrocities and attempt to extend love to people affected.


One seeks to find compassion for the thinking the lead us down this path, the immoral pursuit of a single moral complex, the arrogance that superiority brings, the obscene miss direction of the words of the gentlest man on earth - one tries to find compassion, in most instances one is unable to. 


The challenge with reconciling the past is that the justifiable rage, disgust, brokenness that emanates from incursions on the human soul can work to have a bad past make a grim future.  One needs, with a high degree of trepidation, to caution those affected to focus on building a future founded on realities, on the achievable, and to avoid seeking a solution that is simply beyond the capacity for the world to provide.


The past is irreconcilable, no one can undo the past, the mass and type of affront offer no practical recourse. All we have then is to recognize where we are, and where we want to go and work to build process to achieve reconciliation.  Reconciliation, however, that is more than process, that brings a solution, closure, and functionality.


The government is an organisation with no heart, the compassion the emanates from our innate humanness is lost in the fog of competing interest - the government can never be a caring fiduciary, it is by nature a Machiavellian actor. The FNPs should stop going to the hand that bites them, and seek to liberate themselves from the government, they should seek to lever the good sentiment that accrues to them from the Canadian people's conscience to garner CLOSURE on these issues, rather than continue to be "lead by the nose" by the government. Endless process will impede CLOSURE, a process that ends is the only solution. Injustices of the past should never provide grounds for injustices in the future, reconciliation is a two-way street and should have equity as the overriding consideration.


Situation Analysis


It is a given that the FNP's deserve to be considered in matters pertaining to their interests in the areas they live, the challenge that arises, out of the present "regime", a regime created by a quagmire of the arcane process and outmoded documentation, is another layer of administrative concern. It is costly to consult to the degree that the court process is dictating, the requirement for a near dual sovereign circumstance to find "consensus" is far too onerous. Further, there are very often more than FNP's interest being projected by processes intended for the FNPs, at the announcement of   Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44 decision by the relevant FN representative, there was a sign posted behind him saying "stop Gateway". It is hard to imagine how a pipeline will directly impact a FN interest in a manner that would preclude mitigation. It seems perhaps in this example, and certainly, in past actions, the FNP's influence has been misdirected to satisfy other interest - like the interests of preservationist groups.


There has been an inadvertent emphasis placed on conservation, at least apparently inadvertent, by the judiciary, it seems that the FNPs have the right to “hold title” over the land, yet haven't the right to exercise judgment in stewardship or in the ownership or disposition of assets. Certainly less than inadvertent on the part of some in the environmental movement who see the FNP's government considerations as a useful channel to forward their interest. Contemplate the judicially imposed imperative of - ensuring availability of the land for future FNP's use and enjoyment - this imperative seems to have morphed into a near province wide protected area, this, in concert with endless “consultation”, indicates a seeming contentment on the part of the courts with an economically stagnate FNP’s and stagnating private commerce. As a person concerned about the environment I share many of the interests of the environmental movement, the challenge is in the way these interests have found expression in the in processes intended to see to the interests of the Crown – AKA us – the general populous and the FNPs.


There seems an academic element to the SCC analysis of aboriginal rights, that is to say, that the harvesting of fish for food is somehow extended to harvesting timber for commercial reasons OR the relativity passive traditional use of the land by FNPs in the past, somehow equates to highly intensive activities now. There is an insufficient delineation between activities of the past with present activities, to facilitate a rational reconciliation outcome and by extension precludes the appropriate definition of title and further impairs a just overall outcome.


Miss-extrapolation is illustrated in the application of the sparrow test in the Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia case. The Sparrow Test comes from an incident in which a single individual challenged a general legislation - this support of an individual action has been extrapolated to include all BC FNPs, and to exclude the general population - the SCC has permitted this test to drive jurisprudence in regards to FNPs of Canada's and government interface out of context, and in a manner that is incongruent.  In Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia case, was it an infringement by the crown to use trees or not, on what basis is justification of infringement established, surely the monopolization of resource rights by the FNP is an infringement on the general population - is access to resources for commerce use a justifiable “incursion”.  Proportionality applies here, in that, in the Sparrow case a few extra fish were caught, in the Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia case millions of cubic meters of lumber were at stake … as well as, all other resources.


The Judiciary has effected a circumstance that has every situation managed separately, in defining the duty to consult and related processes the judiciary has created a circumstance where resolve is impossible - they have enshrined confrontation forever.  The judiciary are the arbitrators of our society, arbitration has inherent in it resolve, closure and a way forward. The judiciary in a number of sequential decisions has given us a confrontation mechanism and enshrined the inferior treatment of FNPs. It is the case that every "land title" claim is unique, however, the mass of government actions is rudimentary, the duty to consult as presently defined by jurisprudence is over taxing to government,  by extension unfair to the general population, worse however, is that it has perpetuated an institutional inertia that leaves all parties wanting and in conflict.


[88]                          In summary, Aboriginal title confers on the group that holds it the exclusive right to decide how the land is used and the right to benefit from those uses, subject to one carve-out — that the uses must be consistent with the group nature of the interest and the enjoyment of the land by future generations.  Government incursions not consented to by the title-holding group must be undertaken in accordance with the Crown’s procedural duty to consult and must also be justified on the basis of a compelling and substantial public interest, and must be consistent with the Crown’s fiduciary duty to the Aboriginal group.



No one else in Canada has these rights by extension of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to extend them in this manner to the aboriginal people's is unfair as we move forward. Reconciliation is the inherent theme of the treaty process as stated in para 17 "The governing ethos is not one of competing interests but of reconciliation". This clause holds the specter of "exclusive use and access" for FNPs to 95% of the province of British Columbia, with expropriation as the means for the government to gain access for the public interests, this is a very costly prospect for the general populous - a prospect, which should it find full expression, would cause widespread revolt and exacerbate the discord now experienced by the first nations people.  The compelling and substantial public interest - for aboriginals & none aboriginals alike - is access to crown resources for commerce.  Reconciliation means to remedy the past and to find harmony in the future, reconciliation will never come at the expense of one party’s entire wealth, the entirety of native land claims must be equal to the parity of living standard and opportunity for the FNPs, with an additional increment for pain caused. TO DO MORE, will generate resistance to the process, will be an encroachment on the general population and will ultimately damage, if not obliterate, any goodwill that accrues to the first nations people by the people at large. The reality is, we are unable to pay the price of 95% of the province and maintain a general living standard commensurate with the postmodern era.  This is a treacherous path that will leave all parties poorer. The remedy must not only be commensurate with ability to pay, but also with the majority’s willingness to pay.    


First, the Crown’s fiduciary duty means that the government must act in a way that respects the fact that Aboriginal title is a group interest that inheres in present and future generations. The beneficial interest in the land held by the Aboriginal group vests communally in the title-holding group.  This means that incursions on Aboriginal title cannot be justified if they would substantially deprive future generations of the benefit of the land.



This consideration effects a state of inertia in the discord that now exists in finding a remedy and harmonizing existing conflicting interests, and fails in granting the leeway needed to find a "permanent solution”. The Aboriginal people deserve the right to come to the parity of living standard in any manner they see fit. It is incongruent with the course of humanity to be completely tied to a map of reality rooted in the past and present, and thereby forgo the happenstance that has benefited us all so much as the future unfolds. It is impossible for courts to know what would deprive or benefit future generations in land use. The government’s actions, the litany of pain for the first nation people's, is rooted in large measure in government mismanagement, the contemplations offered in this clause if adhered to will ensure this goes on ad infinitum. 


Title really is a conflicted term or at least a term of conflict, title to land is clearly a "common law" term associated with fee simple ownership or other ownership arrangements provisioned by law - in the context of FNP's land claims it implies a strength of tenure that exceeds what the crown ever intended to give, this is evidenced by the "cost" to the crown of granting exclusive use, or in effect veto over management decisions which will, or could, evolve to exclusive to the claimants. No entity or individual intending to function would ever agree to forfeit 95% of their land base, as is the case in British Columbia if land claims are ratified per the present judicial direction. In this way, the Courts have reasoned us to a point of unreasonableness. 


In establishing title the courts have drawn from common law and introduced to the mix a more ambiguous set modalities in defining title that attempts to interpret the mindset of the FNPs at the point of contact and through their early association with Europeans.  This is a fair process, in that it gives the courts a way to think about how the FNP's were thinking at the time they entered into agreements at first contact or, in British Columbia's case, how they were thinking when attempting to get treaties. It is equally true then, as arbitrators ruling often "against" their own state, that the courts extend the same consideration to the state, that is to say, to interpret the mindset of the people of the day. Canada, in its infancy, had to "go along to get along" and political pragmatism was a part of that reality, then over time Anglo / French society reached critical mass. This evolution came with de facto outcomes, the most prominent of which is a generalized technological advancement that elevated the value of land in relative terms to the time of contact; given the per acre revenue potential is greater now, the basis by which negotiations take place has changed. One could contemplate this on a purchasing power parity basis, how much would an acre of land contribute to the body general now, and how much then; in terms of the acquisition of material goods. This matters, because in 1753 for example, reduced value perception would have facilitated less resistance to the dispersal of lands "under protection" and less interest in garnering control of lands, as the Europeans were in possession of the capacity of conquest then and the capacity has remained undiminished to this day.  


The judiciary are the arbitrators of our society, arbitration has inherent in it resolve, closure and the way forward. The judiciary in a number to sequential decisions has given us a confrontation mechanism and enshrined the inferior treatment of FNP. 


It is emblematic of the archaic nature of the process that we find ourselves in on “both” sides, that we would have as a base consideration of title claims – conquest and or the capacity to “secure territory” for exclusive use – or, to repel other users. There should be no contemplation of military action in the contemporary setting, it is curious, however, that this consideration is arrested in court contemplation in 1753 – conquest should be in as consideration – or the capacity there of – throughout history – or it should be out – at least in determining present day sovereignty.     


What remains, then, of the Crown’s radical or underlying title to lands held under Aboriginal title?  The authorities suggest two related elements — a fiduciary duty owed by the Crown to Aboriginal people when dealing with Aboriginal lands, and the right to encroach on Aboriginal title if the government can justify this in the broader public interest under s. 35  of the Constitution Act, 1982 .  The Court in Delgamuukw referred to this as a process of reconciling Aboriginal interests with the broader public interests under s. 35  of the Constitution Act, 1982 .

Inherent in this clause is the recognition that the public interest holds parity with Aboriginal interests on “crown land”. By extension, Aboriginal benefit extended by the crown, from crown land is limited to parity with the general population AND by extension, the general population should incur no cost beyond elevating aboriginal living standards to parity with the general population. To tax the general population beyond parity in a “reconciliation process” is inequitable, discriminatory and –at some point – will encroach on the general populous’ capacity to exercise liberty at parity with the “pre treaty” state of being, perhaps to a sufficient degree to inflict a section 7 infringement.

It must be affirmed that the Canadian Government and by extension Provincial Governments HOLD DOMAIN, that is to say that in the administration of crown land the  Crown's obligations OR fiduciary responsibility is limited to provision living standards that are at parity with the general populous, how that occurs is at the discretion the Canadian Government and its subordinates and the Canadian Government’s “self imposed” obligation to support and recognize Aboriginal people’s traditional use of the land.

Much of this issue rests on the ancient principles of conquest, in fact, the assessment of territory and the validity of a claim stems from a groups ability to in effect "defend" the boundaries of a given territory against incursion. The Canadian people have the plight of the FNP’s weighing on our conscience and are eager to reconcile, contemplating solution with the base principles of the establishment of territory, the capacity for conquest or the capacity to repel; to determine where dominion lies is grossly outmoded. However, the fact that conquest matters is granted to us in the very arguments provided by the first nations in determining traditional territory.


There can only be dominion by one government, in Canada, dominion resides with the crown and none other. The judiciaries are pursuing justice by crown authority, through the crowns legal processes – common law – applying creatively common law traditions to provision for Aboriginal interests is acceptable and laudable conduct, permitting title considerations that impair duly elected government action, is unacceptable – we all live here, we all can prosper, the problems we're encountering now stem from the blatant and barbaric disregard for aboriginal peoples. We are here to reconcile with the aboriginal peoples, there is a bounty in British Columbia which provides for that – there is no obligation in a reconciliation process to marginalize the general populous.       

The FNP’s technology and knowledge forced a certain modality of life at the point of contact, their capacity to extract "wealth" from the land was greatly limited relative to the claims they are making now. There is no continuity of use between the first contact and now, just continuity of occupation.  Fiduciary responsibility requires not just a pre-European lifestyle but a lifestyle that holds parity with the generalized state of being of "the average" Canadian – that is the extent and limit of the government’s fiduciary responsibility. In the context of offering parity of living standard to the FNP's, it is unreasonable to expect the jurisdiction of British Columbia forfeit it's unfettered access to resources, beyond the point of the FNP's reaching parity of living standard, and preserving and maintaining their cultures. To do so would be rightly seen as a "cash grab" by the general population or an over correction if you will, and very likely result in a critical loss of support for the FNP's.


I offer that, "title" held by the FNP's over their traditional territories, hold as imperatives two elements; firstly, the certainty that their culture, traditions and traditional uses of the land hold first priority in land management deliberations, BUT, absent the exclusion of other users, AND, secondly, that the incremental increase in value extracted from the land now relative to the point of contact only be taxed to the point of living standard parity. This is a fair approach, this also sees, I believe in a generous way, to the government’s fiduciary responsibility.  Further, by grounding tile, negotiations and reconciliation in living standard outcomes and culture - living standards and culture will be elevated.   


The Way Forward


The key in contemplating a common future is to attempt to look away from the past, to eliminate confrontation, to cleanse present interface of difference, and to liberate each other in resolve, rather than choke each other with the process.


Pecuniary involvement offers the opportunity to mitigate impact for groups and individuals and balance the scales to effect proportionality. Pecuniary involvement only contributes to reconciliation or impacts mitigation effectively when delivered individually. The only practical means to address reconciliation is to have as a component of the process material elements that are territory neutral. The direct delivery of pecuniary or other territory neutral assets to individuals will permit all FNP’s to benefit from agreements. It is irrational for the government to legislate the imperative of FNPs communitarian association, if that element of culture is pronounced in any given circumstance – the individuals will be happy to pool whatever resources they receive.  


It is essential that over the use of the land, forever, there is an umbrella of FN culture and tradition in place. In the same way that we manage the land base for environmental imperatives, we can manage for the FNPs imperatives – we have a moral obligation to do so. It is important, however, that we leave flexibility in place so that all can access the bounty that is ours in the vast resources of our province.     


The present legislative complex is outmoded and deficient; the courts have done an outstanding job of applying bad law. The constitutional entrenchment of aboriginal title founded on old documents, old mentalities and old prejudices needs to be circumvented – by consent from all parties concerned. Assessments need to be made in terms of “valuing” the FNP’s “title rights” and the full spectrum of the solution needs to be applied toward a just outcome.      


Reconciliation isn't a process - it is outcomes, solution, functionality and clarity in closure.



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Neil E. Thomson,
Mar 12, 2016, 6:59 AM
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Neil E. Thomson,
Jan 5, 2015, 6:49 AM
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Neil E. Thomson,
Jan 5, 2015, 6:48 AM
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