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A Historical Tour of US
Foreign Policy at Guantanamo Bay
Since 9-11, Canada has become further entwined with U.S. military strategies that begs the question, “do we really have enough information or confidence to commit Canadian troops to a foreign policy agenda set largely by the United States?”

It’s a blessing that our economy is more diversified than it was 30 years ago. There was a time when this current downturn in the forest industry would be considered a sign of a complete economic collapse in the province. As healthy as our economy appears today, the forest industry is still at the core of community economies particularly in BC’s interior and the total sum of that industry still drives this provinces economic engine; even if that fact is overlooked by most of us.


A loss of focus, means trouble for our forests and trouble for us
Assessment review process begins with questionable motives
Is the Provincial government placing developers
in charge of the hen house? The ability to supply ourselves with locally produced food continues to be in question in BC. New provincial meat regulations continue to impact ranchers but now there’s a growing question as to what is motivating the province to tamper with the farm status assessment policy.

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An E-zine from The Monster Guide Learn how the environment, habitat
and the nature of British Columbia is changing.
in this issue....
Songbirds in Decline:
What’s in your birdfeeder?
Bridget Scutchbury a professor of biology at Toronto’s York University has written a book titled Silence of the Songbirds. She tells us that “a disappropriate number of songbirds are on the decline”.
Polar drift and climate change
A shifting magnetic north pole may see Alaska and parts of Canada lose the ability to see the spectacular Northern Lights because the Earth's north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America and toward Siberia at an alarming speed.
Will ecodevelopment
be in our future?
There is a new effort to give “green” industry a push in the Okanagan. The formation of the new Okanagan Environmental Industry.
A Grolar Bear: Indicator of a changing planet
Just recently the public was made aware of a bear that would appear to be a cross between a Grizzly and a Polar bear.
Ian Sterling, a research scientist who has been studying polar bears in the Beaufort Sea region for more than 30 years, said initially “The bear is unlike anything I have ever seen and it's hard to say if the animal is the product of cross-species love”.
Discovering the lifecycle of Chinook Salmon
This is a sad yet beautiful story which begins when a group of four year old Chinook salmon end their life cycle as they give birth to a new generation of salmon which will begin their journey back to the Pacific Ocean. This story unfolds at the Kingfisher Interpretive Center.
Visit the latest Issue of Our Changing Planet
Visit the latest Issue of Our Changing Planet
The SmartTravel Monster Guide
Boomers win job security and stay in control
This year has already marked a historical benchmark that will change the face of both the workplace and the culture of career building in British Columbia. And once again “boomers rule”. Workers in B.C. are no longer forced to retire when they hit the age of 65 as we join Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, all of which have banned mandatory retirement.

Monster Guide Series Part 1:
Our Changing Sky in the Okanagan Valley
Shocking evidence that air travel is changing our planet and us
By Don Elzer
As the Kelowna International Airport expands and as a new Rockies International Airport moves into full operation in Cranbrook there’s no doubt that more air traffic is in our future.
Communities are eager for the opportunities that international status brings as more regular destination flights arrive and depart from places like Toronto and New York. This bumps tourism up a notch allowing the BC Interior to push destination marketing beyond Vancouver and Calgary.
The knee-jerk concern is that more air traffic will lead to more air accidents, but a closer look might suggest that pollution and rogue use of our skies are bigger concerns. In fact there is shocking evidence that air travel is changing the planet. It may be time for local government and residents to become more educated about the impacts of more air travel in the Okanagan.

Life on the Grid Part 1:
Power to the people: The Transmission & Distribution
of a New Energy Plan…or not?
A recent BC Hydro Report made public in January says rates must rise 25% by 2011 because of expected costs to maintain and upgrade British Columbia’s aging electricity grid as well expenses arising from higher financing costs and  “an anticipated increase in government levies.” The rate increase will cost BC residents with gas heat an average of $715 more per year. But for rural residents dependent on electricity to heat their homes, the cost will be much higher.
In its new “Life on the Grid” series The Monster Guide examines some of the power issues behind the scenes as well as how the New Energy Plan and the Carbon Tax will be impacting energy costs and risks to BC residents and communities.
Shadow of conflict is cast over valley-wide governance process
By Don Elzer - March 20, 2008
The issue of valley-wide governance may be a topic for debate in the provincial legislature as events begin to unfold that clearly outline that the self-determination of communities, residents and taxpayers are being ignored. The provincial government may be tampering with the process of municipal governance and now our local governments in the valley are following a similar pattern of behavior that has them ignoring that due process is required if we are going to change how we govern ourselves at a local level.
In fact, while all members of local governments seem to believe that they represent their local taxpayers on this one, clearly they do not. They are far beyond their elected mandate when attempting to change issues of local governance.

Life on the Grid Part 2:
Our Future on the Grid: Big Spending and Rolling Blackouts?
Read Life on the Grid - Part 1
By Don Elzer
Earth Hour gave a good example of how a global effort might be designed to have the public voluntarily create a blackout so that big utilities can save they can sell it to someone else. The Monster Guide examines Rolling Blackouts and Brownouts. Learn about how an energy shortage is managed by utilities.

For anyone advocating selling off this crown corporation, be careful what you wish for. In fact we all should be asking a couple of key questions. The first question is; how can our communities be guaranteed electrical reliability from our utilities and the government agencies that regulate our utilities?
The second question is; how much will we have to spend to ensure that we have dependable energy that is cost efficient for everyone?

Last summer, a bird playing havoc on a transmission line caused 10,000 Kelowna area residents to be without power for a couple of hours, we might complain that this is a heck of a lot of damage resulting from a bird on a wire, but keep in mind, it was a broken branch that caused 50 million people to be without hydro a few years back.

The bottom line is this, most of us consider the delivery of electricity to be a “right” and it’s clearly not, in fact across North America communities and governments are realizing that not enough has been spent replacing and expanding electric infrastructure to keep up with our growing dependencies on something that we assume to be in good working order, everyday.

Patrick Minnis spokesman at NASA's Langley Base said, "That connection to the greenhouse effect is still murky. But there is evidence that contrail clouds can have a big impact on weather patterns. In the wake of Hurricane Nora, researchers got their most dramatic view yet: Moist air blanketed the nation's midsection from Nebraska to Texas, and scores of contrails fused into one enormous cloud - stretching for more than 800 miles."

In fact, Chemtrail activists may be right, air traffic is spreading harmful substances over populated areas. And while governments may reject the notion that this is a dilebrate measure to poison the population, they have not as yet tested the harmful effects that contrail emmissions may be having on people and the environment.

By Don Elzer
NASA's Bruce Anderson actually went aloft to follow in the turbulent wake of a contrail. He came up with a theory for the role of contrails in causing atmospheric moisture to condense into clouds. "We do know that the sulfur in the fuel from aircraft generate aerosol particles, and those in turn can influence the formation of clouds," Anderson said.

Could jet-caused clouds be enough to affect climate? "The number of clear days over the U.S. has decreased in the last 30 years, and we suspect that much of that is due to an increase in cirrus clouds, which we suspect is probably due to an increase in air traffic," And if such clouds trap heat, could they even contribute to global warming?
Countermeasure Chaff also called Window is often made up of glass fibers coated in zinc. It's a strong radar detector ejected from an aircraft much like a flare.
Monster Guide Series Part 2:
Chemtrail and Countermeasure Chaff Scenerios:
Evidence linked to harmful emssions from contrails
Okanagan and Beyond: A quest for building lots in pristine areas
A looming issue that’s about sprawl first and taxes second - everywhere
By Don Elzer
In the Okanagan we know all to well how seasonal residents have impacted real estate prices. This part of the real estate market has caused a boom in our regional economy that will probably continue.

At least that what we keep telling ourselves.

Golf resorts, ski villages and waterfront resorts remain key destinations for Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton residents seeking to purchase their summer or winter retreat here, then eager to place the property in a rental pool that promises to turn the property into a revenue generator.
Rural housing developments like this one in Invermere, BC might be "creating a new property tax class"  - demand may be positioning forest companies to become the new real estate development giants in our future.
What we do know is that real estate prices are impacted and a growing number of BC communities are now considering a closer examination of how we manage the growth in seasonal residents. The key driver to maintain the growth of this destination living boom, remains the idea that there is a steady supply of building lots that can be placed in the marketplace.

When our provincial government launched its Resort Task Force, a key mission was to move crown land into resort housing, that action certainly primed the marketplace. Now, with the forest industry in a downward cycle many of those forest companies are turning to real estate development to prime revenues. The trend is not isolated to BC.

Just put the cold-cuts in the fridge: Mr. Harper’s chilly opus
Canadians will head to the polls more disillusioned than ever
By Don Elzer
There's a strange metaphor emerging as Prime Minister Stephen Harper sets up for a federal election call this fall. The most recent outbreak of listeria is proving once again that our food supply is simply not secure, and more and more Canadians are seeing this as a primary concern. That same concern is calling into question federal and provincial efforts to increase the safety of our food supply by centralizing food processing in the hands of only a few corporate giants, like Maple Leaf.
Facts are now surfacing that when something goes wrong within these nation-wide distribution networks, they really go wrong. Suddenly a food security problem doesn’t require an isolated 100-mile solution; instead it requires national crises management from coast to coast on an epic scale.

All of this while Mr.Harper heads to the Arctic to expound his chilly values that promote Canadian sovereignty so that resources can be exploited from under the thawing ice. Listeria follows him, and it simply won’t go away no matter how far north he goes into the cold.

Read the whole story...
Listeria could be a cold metaphor as the Tories miss the point.
Bank bailout raises questions about motive
Canada reaching the “tipping point” as credit markets begin to crack
By Don Elzer
This past week Merrill Lynch has warned that Canada could face a meltdown that's similar to the one that has devastated the American economy. In a report just issued Merrill Lynch Canada economists said many Canadian households are more financially overextended than their counterparts in the United States or Britain. They said it's only a matter of time before the "tipping point" is reached and the housing and credit markets crack in Canada.

According to a September 22, 2008, article by Elizabeth Williamson in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Banks Rush to Shape Rescue Plan”: she said,
“Lobbyists and financial-services executives are working deep connections within the administration to ensure as many institutions as possible benefit from a $700 billion federal mechanism to buy distressed assets, then sell them off in better times. In a particularly controversial move, they also oppose proposals by Democrats in Congress to provide mortgage reductions for homeowners facing bankruptcy. Bankers say such a move would raise rates for mortgage seekers, as banks factor in the possibility that a loan would be restructured in court.”

So as the economic crises begins to gain a foothold in Canada and as Election Day approaches, we should be asking candidates about how they will offer up a real solution that will offer homeowner relief that considers consumers and regions at risk.

Read the whole story...
“How you publicly oppose loan modifications and bankruptcy law while at the same time advocating a huge taxpayer bailout is beyond me. Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.”
By Don Elzer
It appears that court challenges that were sketched in a previous Monster Guide article are beginning to emerge as the organization Democracy Watch launched a suit which names the prime minister, the governor-in-council — essentially the cabinet — and Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean. The challenge was heard in Ottawa and with a ruling made just before the election by Federal Court Judge Prothonotary R. Aronovitch who settled one question concerning Democracy Watch's application challenging the legality of the recent federal election call.  The ruling states that there is not enough time left before Election Day to have the application fully considered by the Federal Court.
We bet you didn't know: it really was an illegal election call
Court ruling means challenge of legality regarding Prime Minister's
federal election call will now be decided after the election
A full consideration of Democracy Watch's application is needed, the ruling states, because "the application raises important issues."  Democracy Watch's application will now proceed through Federal Court on the regular schedule, which will likely result in a court hearing in about six to eight months.

Read more about the PM's and GG's upcoming day in court
Will the Liberals have the last laugh?
The ghosts of liberal past may haunt
the Prime Minister if he is found liable
for a bad election call.
Creating an Official Regional Plan: Addressing valley-wide issues
Candidates need to tell us more about their view of the Okanagan Valley
By Don Elzer
There appears to be an over-all consensus everywhere for municipal candidates to support local Official Community Plans. OCP’s have become a refreshing process that helps to solidify a direction for local government. But alone, they are not enough to address the deeper issues which need to link neighbourhood power with valley-wide stewardship.

We have two threats in the Okanagan Valley, one that’s slowly eroding local representation in hopes of amalgamation into more central urban bodies of government; and the other, a lack of engaging the public to address valley-wide issues that considers the Okanagan as a single watershed or bio-region.
Please Ask Us the Question:
Do we want a Valley Population of 400,000
or 5 million people?
Premier Gordon Campbell suggests that the Okanagan will become “British Columbia’s third great urban center.” Those words were stated with very little disagreement due to the fact that in a valley-wide population of 300,000 there was no advocate that could claim the authority to disagree with the premier.

If in fact there is any disagreement.

Read the whole story....
Bigger Resorts, More Reservoirs – Less Water?
Another reservoir expansion this time impacting the endangered Kettle River
By Don Elzer
Another somewhat unexpected development linked to a local ski resort is now raising questions about the health of yet another watershed that feeds the Columbia River system.

The Kettle River is the sixth most endangered river in BC due to excessive water extraction, development and small scale hydro development, and now according to the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. (ORCBC), Big White has applied to dam three creeks in the watershed to create reservoirs for the storage of more than 350 million gallons or 935,000,000 litres of water to supply the needs of the growing resort and such an event will further impact the Kettle River.
Mark Angelo of the ORCBC told local media that Big White's application would represent a 228 per cent increase over its existing water license and the move marks the second water storage expansion being constructed at Big White.

Schumann Resorts owns both Big White and Silver Star Ski Resorts and have been aggressively growing development. Presently a reservoir capable of holding 240,000 cubic metres of water is being completed at Silver Star, and in 2005 the company dug a reservoir at Big White capable of holding more than 60 million gallons of water.

It appears both resorts are planning to secure water demands in order to grow resort populations high up in the upper reaches of the Okanagan.

Read about the Kettle at risk....
Creating the Vance Creek Reservoir at Silver Star Resort - Dig first, dialogue later?
Coalitions are part of the Canadian political evolutionary process
Shock and dismay are products of spin doctors pushing public fear buttons
By Don Elzer - December 3, 2008
Canadian politics has suddenly become very interesting. Gone are the ho-hum-wish-we-could-vote-for-Obama days that seemed like they were just yesterday.

In this country the government must submit to the will of parliament, something that Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t do well this past month. Harper continues to try to rule as though he had a majority and such behavior would never be tolerated anywhere in a democracy that depends on cooperation in the legislature particularly when the government has a minority.

The present Prime Minister should be very familiar with political evolution since he was one of the architects of the present Conservative coalition between the Alliance,
and Progressive Conservatives; and before that the Alliance was a coalition of Reform and others; and before that, Reform was a coalition of disgruntled Progressive Conservatives and fringe parties from the west. When Preston Manning emerged from the founding meeting of the Reform Party he was considered a hero for uniting a western-based right wing alternative to the Progressive Conservatives.

It’s a ridiculous notion for anyone to be surprised, shocked or horrified at parties merging under the banner of a coalition in an attempt to outnumber the ruling party. And it’s even more of a surprise that some pundits are shocked at the Bloc Quebecois holding some sort of balance of power that would benefit Quebec and perhaps even the separatist cause.

Read this complete feature....
We should have been here last October
Why didn’t the Governor General even suggest that there may or may not be grounds for questioning if the government did in fact lose the confidence of parliament last October? Read this TMG article
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Shankers Bend Dam in the Okanogan:
Losing the Similkameen to Climate Change and Energy
The old red Covered Bridge which spans the Similkameen River near Keremeos is one
of the last of its kind in North America.
The reservoir waters would cover this bridge.
By Don Elzer
March 24, 2009
To the south, is the “Okanogan” and to the north, is the “Okanagan”, and connecting the two is the gentle and meandering Similkameen River with a place called Shankers Bend which is now poised to challenge two nations as they both react to issues of climate change and energy.

The Okanogan County Public Utility District is proposing that a dam be built at Shankers Bend which would create an 18,000-acre reservoir that holds 1.7 million acre feet of water — with half of it in Canada. The reservoir would be larger than Lake Osoyoos and would potentially affect two B.C. protected areas: the 25,889-hectare Snowy Protected Area and the 9,364-hectare South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area, as well as flooding aboriginal reserve lands. The reservoir would flood a delicate ecosystem that is home to 16 federally listed species at risk.
Water has become front and centre politically on the eastern side of the Cascade Curtain. Reelected Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire when referring to new dam projects, responds to critics by saying, “If not there, where? We need to store more water in Eastern Washington.”

In British Columbia there are only a few critics of the project, which seems surprising since it will flood one of the most scenic regions in British Columbia.

Read this major feature and learn about Shankers Bend.