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  • Volume Eight, Number Seven: October 2003

    WTO Talks Collapse as “G-21” Resists big Power Juggernaut


    Dan Keeton


    WTO protest VancouverThe collapse of the World Trade Organization talks in Cancun, Mexico early September gave vindication to anti-WTO protests in Vancouver and around the planet. And it bore out predictions of a major split between industrialized nations and Third World countries from WTO critics on the eve of the talks September 9.


    As with previous sessions of the group, the talks were marked by protests of thousands who occasionally clashed with police and at one point tore down the perimeter fence dividing the delegates from those whose futures their decisions determine. The mood of jubilation following the collapse contrasted with the sombre acknowledgment of the protest suicide of Korean farmers' leader Lee Kyung Hae at the barricades on the first day of talks and protests.


    Meanwhile, at a "carnival" in a downtown Vancouver park September 14, revellers, including a marching band and a satiric superhero called "Slash Gordon," linked WTO policies to things like public service cutbacks and privatization in British Columbia. The preceding evening a forum in New Westminster provided an intellectual backdrop for those assertions....

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    Parks Privatization Plan to Cost You More                                                    

    Carole Pearson

    British Columbia’s scenic beauty is reflected in its provincial motto: splendor sine occasu - splendor without diminishment. But as the Gordon Campbell Liberals implement changes to allow commercial activities to operate inside some provincial parks, environmental groups want the government to heed another motto: primum non nocere - first, do no harm.

    In January, Land, Water and Air Protection Minister Joyce Murray announced the introduction of pay parking in 28 provincial parks and increased campsite and license fees. The new parking fees forces park visitors to pay $3 to $5 a day in order to spend an afternoon at a lake or hike in the woods.

    But Anne Sherrod, chair of the Valhalla Wilderness Society, calls pay parking and higher fees “only a small part of the new initiative planned by the Liberals.” In an op-ed piece for the Victoria Times Colonist, Sherrod says, “[L]urking behind the new and increased fees is the fact that the park system will be operated as a business through the use of private contractors. As business revenue increases, tax support will be withdrawn.”

    In contrast with their NDP predecessors who created 346 new protected areas and park additions, the Liberals have taken a different approach to park management. Just two months after taking office, the BC Liberal government cut the budget of their Water, Land and Air Protection Ministry by 35 per cent and ended free interpretive programs in all provincial parks. Campgrounds used to provide free firewood but now campers have to pay $4 a bundle and last spring, BC Park staff was cut by 34 per cent.
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    Continuing Care Crisis Sparks Calls for Health Minister Resignation

    Marco Procaccini

    Citing information contained in a secret government report and new figures that show that the B.C. Liberals' seniors' care strategy is in serious trouble, a coalition of public health care advocates today called for the resignation of the minister responsible for seniors.

    The B.C. Health Coalition says that as a result of government policy, more than 3,300 long-term care beds have closed or are in the process of closing despite the fact that the population of seniors, 75 years and older, in B.C. is forecast to increase by 68 per cent over the next 20 years.

    That will leave British Columbia with the lowest number of beds for people aged 75 years and older of any province in Canada.

    But planning scenarios contained in a confidential health ministry discussion document contemplate cutting long-term care by as much as 5,600 beds by 2007 and replacing these services with assisted living units and, for the first time, with already over-burdened home support services.

    That's a problem, says BC Health Coalition coordinator Terrie Hendrickson, because B.C.'s health authorities have only announced plans to provide about 3,300 assisted living units - less than half of what is needed under the most conservative scenario contained in the report.

    "Even by their own assumptions, the government's seniors' care strategy is in shambles," says Hendrickson. "It's time for government to admit that it has no workable plan for seniors' care and engage in a real discussion with communities across B.C. on how to provide quality health care for our growing seniors' population."

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