Over 100,000 people concerned about the state of the Earth’s climate converged on Vancouver City Hall last Friday as part of a global initiative to bring attention to the environment. Jason Payne / PNG
Naturally, I was delighted to see so many young people taking climate change seriously, and I truly hope they continue the hard work ahead.
However, my enthusiasm is somewhat tempered by reality. After watching the very prescient movie WALL-E a few years ago — the story of a little robot left on Earth to clean up the mess humanity made — I was disheartened to note that not a single audience member bothered to pick up their popcorn and drink containers when exiting the theatre. They had been entertained, but learned nothing.
I hope that all the marchers might consider keeping their iPhones, laptops, X-Boxes and such a lot longer than the marketers would prefer, especially given that 350,000 phones are discarded daily in North America, and most of the stylish clothes we all seem to need each season are not recyclable.
While pressuring our politicians is necessary, the real work starts with each of us.
Gorm Damborg, Vancouver
Climate march was no gimmick
The people who marched Friday in Vancouver showed their deep concern for global warning, climate change and the environment.
Perhaps, leaders locally, provincially and federally will truly listen and implement measures that will have healing effects. Hurricanes, floods and forest fires are the results of our selfish actions over past decades and centuries.
The canaries are singing: Orcas, salmon, caribou and many other species worldwide are threatened.
The climate march was not a gimmick. Let us find solutions to the problems we created. We must come together, cooperate and reach consensus.
Kathleen Szabo, Vancouver.
It’s about time
Finally, climate change is getting the attention it deserves. I was heartened to see The Vancouver Sun’s pictures of hundreds of thousands of people from across Canada who are ready to change how we treat our planet.
If each of us individually is willing to do our own small part, we can have a huge cumulative effect on the Earth’s future. Pledging to have no more than two children (or one child and one pet), staying in our lovely neighbourhoods instead of traipsing the world, and alleviating consumerism as recreation are personal choices that will most certainly make our world a better place for future generations.
Kudos to all who recognize that a solution starts with each of us individually.
Doris Schellenberg, Abbotsford
Changing the status quo
September is when we celebrate the employment of people with disabilities, as highlighted in the recent article, “Untapped talent pool is key to British Columbia’s future” by Ross Chilton. True, many people with disabilities continually face barriers to employment. Thus, there’s been a push to increase the awareness of employers in their hiring practices. However, here are two other perspectives:
First, individuals with disabilities are similar to the rest of the population — some have skills and capabilities for the labour force, others don’t. Everyone has the ability to learn, though some may need support. Unfortunately, assumptions and stereotypes still exist — people with disabilities aren’t capable to learn, thus others have low expectations of them. As a result, some miss out from learning basic protocols, appropriate mannerisms, or creative strategies supporting them in the workforce. We must work together, creating an environment where all feel valued and belonged.
Second, I observe that many leadership and management positions in organizations for people with disabilities, are filled by able-bodied (and white) people. Rarely, we see a person with a visible disability in the role. Why? If we want to increase the employment rate of people with disabilities, then I believe it is the responsibility of disabled organizations to lead the way. Having able-bodied people in these positions emphasizes the power dynamics and perpetuates the stereotypes of individuals with disabilities always needing help. Placing a person with a disability in a leadership role challenges the status quo and shifts the perception of disability.
Karen Lai is an independent consultant in accessibility and inclusion.
Unblocking additional plaque or cholesterol-clogged coronary arteries with stents after a heart attack — instead of just the one that caused the heart attack — leads to a reduction in the risk of dying or having another heart attack, a multinational study involving B.C. experts and patients shows.
Experts predict the “landmark” study will have immediate implications for heart attack patients as interventional cardiologists will now stent additional coronary arteries with significant narrowing (more than 70 per cent) instead of just the culprit artery that caused the heart attack. There are three major coronary arteries and when heart attack patients have one blocked artery, it is not unusual to see blockages in the others, referred to as multi-vessel coronary artery disease.
The study began in 2013 at hospitals in 31 countries, predominately in Europe and North America. It was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and was presented as a late-breaking session at the World Congress of Cardiology in France.
The COMPLETE study, as it is called, involved 4,041 patients (200 in Vancouver) who were followed for about three years. All patients got stents in the culprit arteries as an emergency rescue measure. But in one arm of the study, half were then released from the hospital and prescribed the usual post-angioplasty medications while in the other study arm, patients had their other blocked arteries stented in what is called complete revascularization, either at the same time as the heart attack causing culprit stenting or within 45 days.
Deaths from heart disease, further heart attacks or related to the medical procedure occurred in 179 patients (8.9 per cent) in the complete revascularization group, compared to 339 (16.7 per cent) of those who had only one stent put in.
After a median followup of three years, the risk of a second heart attack or death from heart disease occurred in 7.8 per cent of the patients who had complete revascularization while it was 10.5 per cent in those who got one stent.
“In the past, the gestalt was you do an immediate angioplasty to open the culprit blocked artery and then do less with the other ones, put patients on meds and monitor them instead of fixing the additional blockages at the same time or right after,” said Dr. David Wood, the Vancouver co-principal investigator and director of the Vancouver General Hospital Cardiac Catheterization Lab.
“But in this study, the results show that doing more stenting, even within the first 45 days after the heart attack, was beneficial. There was a 26 per cent reduction in the patients’ risk of dying or having another heart attack.”
Dr. Shamir Mehta, the principal investigator of the study led by McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, said the data shows that there are benefits to clearing all the arteries and no major downside to the additional procedures.
“Given its large size, international scope and focus on patient-centred outcomes, the COMPLETE trial will change how doctors treat this condition and prevent many thousands of recurrent heart attacks globally every year,” said Mehta, an interventional cardiologist and a senior scientist at the Population Health Research Institute.
Dr. John Cairns, a Vancouver cardiologist who is the former dean of UBC medical school and a study collaborator said: “(Additional) blockages should be fixed in the first 45 days after a patient’s initial heart attack.”
Leslie Carey was one of the trial participants. In 2015, the Burnaby resident had a heart attack while riding a bus to work,
Carey’s chest pains were so severe that he got off the bus and called 911. Paramedics quickly attended to him in a nearby parking lot, whisking him off to VGH.
Life was stressful at the time but his health was pretty good, or so he thought.
“I didn’t have high blood pressure or diabetes but I was taking meds on and off for cholesterol,” said the 58-year old marine administrator for the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.
Right after a coronary artery was stented, Carey said he felt so much better. His chest pain was gone. Since he was randomly assigned to the trial arm of patients who would get further treatment, he then had another stent inserted into another partly blocked artery. And months later, yet another stent was added so he now has three stents propping open his major coronary arteries.
“I’m fully wired now,” said Carey.
About 20,000 B.C. residents have diagnostic angiograms and angioplasties — usually with stents — each year and another 2,000 have open heart surgery, which is indicated for more serious cases and for patients with diseases like diabetes, according to a Cardiac Services B.C. provincial registry.
Mehta said patients who had angioplasties were on the right medications to reduce their risk of a heart attack. No one should jump to the conclusion that the medications weren’t effective.
“We don’t know if the same benefit of angioplasty would be there if they were not on the medication. The angioplasty can be considered as an add-on to the medications to prevent further events.”
Mehta, Cairns and Wood agreed that doing more angioplasties on patients with heart attacks is not going to overburden the Canadian health care system. A future study may look at the economics of “front-loading” angioplasties and Cairns said he thinks there could be some cost efficiencies in addition to health benefits.
“We are well equipped in Canada to perform the additional procedures, particularly since the trial shows they can be done any time within 45 days of the index (first) heart attack,” said Mehta.
The median age of trial participants was about 62 and 80 per cent were male. Study authors said that is because more men have large heart attacks. About 50 per cent of study participants had high blood pressure and 40 per cent were smokers. Just under 40 per cent had high cholesterol.
The study cost over $14 million; $3 million came from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and just over $11 million from Boston Scientific and AstraZeneca. The companies had no role in trial design, analysis or manuscript writing, according to the authors.
UCLUELET, B.C. — The small craft harbour here in this stunning spot on Vancouver Island’s west coast is a hub of activity.
Tourists from all over the world board sport-fishing charters and whale-watching boats to check out the rugged coastline. Commercial fishermen tend to their vessels. And visitors sail in for a day or two on boats based in Vancouver, Victoria or farther away.
But all is quiet on the Astral Blue — a 14-metre sailboat whose last two crewmen mysteriously disappeared in the mid-afternoon of May 16, 2018.
The bodies of Squamish resident Dan Archbald and his close friend Ryan Daley, of Jordan River, were found less than a month later on a rutted decommissioned logging road about 12 kilometres from the harbour.
Fifteen months have passed and no one has been charged with their murders.
But a Postmedia investigation has found that the two men were likely casualties of a botched cocaine-smuggling job that they were recruited to do by a Lower Mainland biker.
RCMP Supt. Sanjaya Wijayakoon, who oversees the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, told Postmedia that the police investigation is still extremely active.
“They are absolutely continuing to investigate both of these deaths. Right now, they are in the process of analyzing physical and digital evidence. They are still speaking to potential witnesses and they are trying to figure out a timeline leading up to both Daley and Archbald’s deaths,” Wijayakoon said in a recent interview.
Key to that timeline is figuring out what the two men did between their landing here on Sunday, May 13 — Mother’s Day — and when they made a final eerie appearance on the harbour security camera three days later, lugging heavy duffel bags out through the parking lot.
Wijayakoon said investigators still need the public’s help to put together all the pieces of the puzzle.
“I know my guys are still hoping that people in the public are able to come forward and that something triggers their memory and they come and talk to us. We are still hoping for that,” he said.
The Astral Blue looks much as it did when it arrived here. The deck is strewn with yellow, red and blue plastic containers. There’s a small rusted-out barbecue tipped over near the stern. A rubber dinghy is upside down over the cabin.
Some fibreglass on the starboard side is damaged. There is no indication of anything untoward.
The white and blue sailboat, built in Taiwan in 1979, was registered with Transport Canada on July 25, 2016, listing its home port as Vancouver, despite then never having landed in Canada.
The boat’s owner remains a B.C. company called Astral Ocean Expeditions Inc.
Corporate records obtained by Postmedia show Archbald and a friend registered the company in B.C. on May 10, 2016. Its address is listed as a Richmond lawyer’s office.
The friend, who asked not to be identified, told Postmedia that he owned only a one-per-cent share of the company and had no direct involvement with the purchase of the Astral Blue.
“Technically, I suppose I’m an owner,” he said, adding that the boat is really owned by Archbald’s widow, who is trying to sell it.
He said he and Archbald had talked for years about running a charter business on the west coast.
“I am also a sailor and if I had the opportunity to do some trips, it would have been great,” he said. “But it wasn’t meant to be a business I was running.”
He confirmed that as he understood it, the boat was purchased in Ecuador, then moved to Panama, where it was moored until Archbald and Daley began their fateful eight-week journey last year.
“I wasn’t even tracking it,” the friend said.
He would have been surprised if Archbald had got mixed up in a drug-smuggling operation, he said, though he admitted that is now the rumour circulating around Squamish and here in Ucluelet.
“I have talked to the police a few times. I didn’t have much to offer them,” he said. “Dan was one of my better friends and I miss him a lot.”
Archbald, a 37-year-old father of two, sometimes worked in construction. And sometimes he worked in the film industry.
Sometimes he was “tight for money,” the friend said, adding that he did not know Daley, a 43-year-old former Squamish resident.
Messages left for several relatives and friends of each man asking for comment for this story were not returned.
Postmedia has learned that the pair agreed to sail from Panama to Canada with a load of cocaine, believed to total several hundred kilograms. The person behind the smuggling operation is a full-patch Hells Angel, the sources said.
As the men got closer to the B.C. coast, they encountered a U.S. government vessel and panicked. They dumped most of their illicit cargo overboard.
The problem is that they kept some of the cocaine for themselves without telling the person who hired them. Their plan was to dump it at the last minute if they saw anything suspicious as they approached Ucluelet, the sources said.
While authorities didn’t intercept Archbald and Daley, and the remaining cocaine, when they arrived in Ucluelet, associates of the Hells Angel did.
Postmedia has learned that Hells Angel Chad Wilson — a friend of the person behind the cocaine shipment — was tasked with taking care of “the problem” in Ucluelet. Wilson, who was murdered last November, was on Vancouver Island at the time that Archbald and Daley went missing, sources confirmed.
Wijayakoon, the RCMP superintendent overseeing the investigative team, wouldn’t comment specifically on the information obtained by Postmedia.
“My guys are looking at all avenues and it is very, very active still,” he said.
Retired Mountie Pat Convey is all too familiar with the situation in which Archbald and Daley likely found themselves.
When he was a senior member of the RCMP’s Vancouver Island drug squad, he investigated similar cases along the coast here where drugs were smuggled aboard sailboats and fishing vessels. Organized crime “absolutely” sees marine transportation as a tried and true method to move drugs, Convey said.
The largest bust came in February 2001 when U.S. agents intercepted the Western Wind in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off southern Vancouver Island. The fish boat carried more than two tonnes of cocaine destined for Canada.
Boat owner John “Phil” Stirling and three crewmen were arrested and turned over to the RCMP. But they were never charged despite the record drug haul.
“As far as contraband, it was the biggest,” Convey said of the Western Wind.
Stirling continued to sail in troubled waters for years afterwards.
“He is a pretty infamous old bandit as far as bringing stuff in,” Convey said.
In May 2006, Stirling and four others were arrested again — this time here in Ucluelet — after police found $6.5-million worth of marijuana aboard a 47-metre fish boat registered to Stirling. The men were all charged with drug-related offences, but all counts were later stayed.
The Americans captured the notorious B.C. skipper off the coast of Colombia in 2011. His sailboat carried 381 kilos of cocaine. He pleaded guilty in 2013 in Florida and was sentenced to seven years. Less than a year after his 2018 release, Stirling, now 65, was found alone on another vessel off the coast of Oregon this past April. The boat carried 28 seven-gallon jugs containing liquid methamphetamine. He goes to trial in Portland later this month on drug smuggling charges.
Convey said that once someone agrees to sail a shipment of drugs for organized crime, they are responsible for any loads lost — meaning they usually have to continue transporting the criminal contraband to pay off the debt.
“You will be told that whether you like this or whether you don’t like this, you are going to go do this,” Convey said. “If you don’t comply, your chances of survival are not good.”
Like Archbald, Stirling would register a company in B.C., then purchase a vessel in the company’s name. He once told a Province reporter that the record Western Wind shipment was done for the benefit of some B.C. Hells Angels.
Convey said even people without criminal records are willing to take the risk, hoping for a big payoff. Maybe they think they can get away with it just once.
“There is a lot of money involved,” he said. “Just the investment put into it for purchasing the drugs is a large amount of money. So it is not something where one individual would just go down there and pick up a load and come up here and distribute it. It is all taken care of a long time before they set sail from here as to what they are going to do, what their plan is. And also who is going to be involved along the way.”
Sometimes a relatively small vessel carrying cocaine will sail right into a harbour in a place like Ucluelet, which doesn’t have a Canada Border Services Agency post.
And sometimes it will be a “mother ship” operation “where they will come up and they will be met offshore, right out in the international waters, by offload boats that will come right up and meet them and then distribute (the drugs) to several different places or one place depending on what they contracted,” Convey said.
“I have been out of the game for awhile, but I don’t see anything changing significantly. I got involved in it as far back as the ’70s and it didn’t change a lot even in the 2000s when I finally retired.”
Stirling is not the only “bandit” using the open seas to smuggle narcotics into Canada.
In March 2010, Vancouver Island commercial diver Scott Pederson and Mexican citizen Vincente Serrano-Hernandez transported 1,001 one-kilogram bricks of cocaine from Panama to Port Hardy via Ecuador aboard the sailing vessel Huntress. Both were convicted and sentenced to 16 years.
Both have since been released. Parole documents obtained by Postmedia say Pederson now owns two food carts, which prompted some concern from the parole board in July 2017.
“While there may be some concerns with respect to the idea of a convicted drug importer operating a business that is based primarily in cash and therefore would be a good front for drug trafficking or money laundering, there is no reliable and persuasive information indicating you are involved in any illegal activity,” the board’s written decision said.
As for Hernandez, he continued to deny knowledge of the tonne of cocaine he sailed into B.C. waters, claiming he was “to be paid $2,000 to accompany the lone captain to Canada and that once in Canada you would be offered a job,” the parole board noted in 2016. “In Mexico, you lived in the Sinaloa region which is well known for drug cartel activities. You have denied any involvement with gangs or Mexican cartels.”
He has since been deported.
The drive from the small craft harbour through the Ucluelet-Tofino junction then east along the Pacific Rim Highway to the entrance to E Road takes less than 15 minutes at the posted speed limit.
The killer or killers would have driven through the dense coastal forest, past Lost Shoe #1 Creek, then Lost Shoe #2 Creek before turning right on the gravel road where Archbald and Daley were dumped.
After about 300 metres, the unmarked logging road is barely more than a trail, suggesting the suspects would have had to turn around in the only small clearing to escape back to the highway. A woman walking her dogs found the remains of Archbald and Daley four weeks later.
The double murder — an extremely rare occurrence in this part of B.C. — has not really set the locals on edge. They don’t feel a strong connection to the case. They didn’t know the victims. They don’t believe that any suspects are in their midst.
The last person slain here was Shirley Ann Taylor-Seydel, who was bludgeoned to death on the docks on July 6, 1991, by fisherman Steven Hillairet, a stranger with mental health issues. There is a small picnic area in her memory overlooking the harbour.
The Astral Blue remains moored here for now. A brokerage company has been contacted and the boat, estimated to be worth about $100,000, will soon be sold.
At the Cap’n Hook, a unique shop selling fishing tackle and cappuccino, patrons sip their coffee, look out over the harbour and speculate about whether the boat will go for a bargain price.
Caleb Cameron, who was born and raised in Ucluelet, is down on the docks every day operating his whale-watching and sports-fishing company — Cameron Ocean Adventures.
“When the murders happened, it seemed like a very isolated incident. There have been drug busts here in the past but not anything like this,” he said. “It seemed like a major case — a larger case than we usually see — because of all the police resources that were brought here.”
He didn’t see the two men at all between May 13 and 16, though he noticed the Astral Blue after it docked as a boat he wasn’t familiar with.
“It was fairly shocking. From the rumours that had been circulating that it was a drug boat that came up from Panama, it made sense,” he said. “I do have some people come down and ask about it. It is known on the dock as ‘the drug boat.’ ”
Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noël said the murders have had “zero impact” on the community of 1,800.
“There is nobody up in arms, racing to the RCMP detachment saying that there’s a problem. It is something very isolated and local to that event,” Noël said this week. “It is just isolated to those certain groups and those individuals. No one in the community is feeling threatened in any way.”
Ucluelet residents still “are just curious to know what happened,” the mayor said.
“Everyone has got their own theory, so it will be interesting to see what actually comes out of it.”
About 40 per cent of Parks Canada’s buildings, forts, bridges and other items of real estate are unsafe or unusable, or require billions of dollars in major repairs, says a new report.
An analysis the agency commissioned from an independent consultant says Parks Canada has deferred up to $9.5 billion in badly needed work – and ought to spend up to $3.3 billion on top of that to cope with the threat of climate change.
Parks Canada’s current annual spending on repairs falls short, says the report, despite a $3-billion injection of cash that began in 2014 and is now about half-spent.
CBC News obtained the September 2018 document, produced by New Zealand-based Opus International Consultants, under the Access to Information Act.
“When reviewed, 24 per cent of the asset[s] were assessed as being in good condition, 36 per cent in fair condition, and 40 per cent in poor or very poor condition,” says the report.
“Forty per cent is a significant percentage to be in poor/very poor condition, given the interconnected nature of the service that is provided by the PCA [Parks Canada Agency] assets.”
The agency now reviews the state of its vast asset pool — 46 national parks, 171 historic sites and other buildings, various bridges — every five years, and asked Opus to verify the findings of its latest catalogue from 2017.
Parks Canada is replacing the bridge over the canal in St. Peter’s, in Cape Breton Island, which has been there since 1936. An internal report says many of the agency’s marine assets are in bad shape. (Parks Canada)
In ordering the Opus work, Parks Canada acknowledged that “under-investment has been a chronic issue impeding the sound management and consistent life cycle management of the portfolio.”
Opus directly inspected a sample of 252 assets in 15 locations and examined other data to produce an independent review, including a projection three decades into the future.
[We are] addressing deferred work on Parks Canada’s assets across the country and considerable progress is being made.– Agency spokesperson Dominique Tessier
The company’s engineers determined Parks Canada had low-balled the replacement value of the assets. Opus says the portfolio is worth $24.1 billion — a figure one-third higher than the $18 billion estimated by the agency’s own staff.
The report says that at current low rates of repair, the average condition of the portfolio will decline further over the next 33 years, as more assets fall into poor or very poor condition.
The consultants also noted that the portfolio is not welcoming enough for disabled visitors and estimate that Parks Canada needs to spend $428 million on making its parks and facilities more accessible.
They also say climate change will batter Parks Canada assets with heavy rain and flooding, forest fires and salt water damage. The consultants say protecting parks assets from climate damage will cost between $1.66 billion and $3.3 billion, though they caution the figures are only an “initial indication.”
Finally, Opus notes Parks Canada has budgeted $140 million annually to maintain its assets, in addition to special cash injections coming largely from a non-agency budget that have added up to more than $3 billion between 2014 and 2017.
The consultants estimate the agency needs to spend between $825 million and $900 million each year to maintain the average state of the portfolio, aside from any accessibility and climate change-related cash infusions.
A spokesperson for the agency, Dominique Tessier, said Parks Canada has spent only about 48 per cent of the $2.6 billion it was promised from the federal infrastructure investment program.
The Garrison Graveyard at Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal, N.S. A consultant estimates Parks Canada has deferred some $9.5 billion in needed repairs to its assets across the country. (Parks Canada/The Canadian Press)
The program is “addressing deferred work on Parks Canada’s assets across the country and considerable progress is being made,” she said. “The work completed through the federal infrastructure program will restore and improve the condition of Parks Canada’s assets.”
Tessier said the agency is also developing a long-term plan “to ensure the effective management and ongoing sustainability of its infrastructure portfolio.”
In the meantime, on Jan. 1, 2020, Parks Canada is introducing admission fees at five sites that were previously free of charge, and is increasing fees by a 2.2 per cent adjustment for inflation at 19 other sites — all to ensure visitors pay a fair price that doesn’t undercut private operators.
Tessier said the new revenues will be “re-invested in the same places where they are collected to support visitor programs, services and facilities.”
The places being hit with new admission fees are: Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan ($5.80); Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ont. ($7.80); Georges Island National Historic Site, Nova Scotia ($7.80); S.S. Keno National Historic Site, Yukon ($3.90); and S.S. Klondike National Historic Site ($3.90).
Hells Angel Chad Wilson got nervous when he noticed the ball cap of “a big burly dude” entering the convenience store where he was looking at souvenir fridge magnets.
The hat said “F — k the other team” and he knew right away that the man was from the rival Outlaw motorcycle gang.
The message on the hat was “directed towards us,” Wilson would later testify at his trial for attempted murder. “It’s about the Hells Angels.”
Wilson, who was found murdered in Maple Ridge on Sunday, and his biker buddy John Midmore were in South Dakota for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August 2006 when they decided to take a drive around the area in Wilson’s pickup.
They stopped at Legion Lake Resort in Custer State Park because Midmore was hungry.
Wilson later testified that when he saw the Outlaws there, “I nearly shit my pants.”
Postmedia News has obtained transcripts of Wilson’s 2008 testimony at the trial, after which a jury acquitted him and Midmore — both Canadians — of attempted murder.
But Wilson later pleaded guilty to being an alien in illegal possession of a firearm and was sentenced to four years in prison.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has said it is looking into Wilson’s past for a possible motive for his slaying.
Evidence from his U.S. trial lays out the deep hatred between the two biker gangs.
Wilson testified that after seeing the Outlaws, he wanted to get out of the store and leave the park as soon as possible.
He turned his head away from them as he walked past, hoping they wouldn’t notice his Hells Angels death head tattoo which was “plain as day, like a billboard for the Hells Angels.”
He hopped into the passenger side of his white Ford F350 and took a bite out of an ice cream sandwich Midmore had bought him before heading off to use the washroom.
“I was just sitting there waiting for John to come out of the restroom,” Wilson testified.
“Right out of the side of the trees, here comes Outlaws. And at the time, it looks like they are walking towards the front of the truck and I freaked out.
“The first thing I did was grabbed my gun and put it in my waistband.”
Midmore showed up and they tried to get out of the parking lot, but the road was busy and they had to wait for a break in the traffic.
The rival Outlaws came up to them, he said. One of them who was later identified as Nathan Frasier was in front of the truck.
“As soon as the truck pulled ahead, he looked like a deer in the headlights and he reached and dropped the gun from his waistband. All I did was lift up my shirt so they could see the gun. And go whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.”
Wilson got out of the truck as he saw Frasier pick up his gun.
“All hell broke lose,” he testified. “There was a flash of light and then sound and I just bent down. I racked my gun and as I came up to start shooting, I was shooting back at him.”
He managed to get back in the truck where Midmore was ducking down and attempting to steer.
“So I grabbed the wheel, put my foot on top of his, hit the gas and off we went,” Wilson said. “That’s what really happened that day.”
He admitted to bringing both rifles and handguns to the biker party, storing some in a secret compartment in his truck so “I could get some guys together and we could go out shooting.”
After the shootout, Wilson’s truck was found abandoned on a logging road with a .40 calibre gun magazine, three .40 calibre semi-automatic pistols and ammunition inside.
Five people on the Outlaws side were wounded, including Danny Neace, who was paralyzed from the waist down.
Neace and several other Outlaws were later convicted of plotting to fight other Hells Angels in Michigan a few days before the Custer park shootout.
Wilson testified that when he saw the Outlaws that day, “I was terrified.”
“There were nine of them and two of us,” he said. “Like being in the Hells Angels, you are always aware of the Outlaw issue. It’s a huge issue in our club.”
The Outlaws advertise on their Canadian website that they’ve opened a “prospective chapter” in B.C. But police don’t consider that the HA rivals have any real membership or influence in this province.
In Alberta, however, the Outlaws now have two chapters and there have been skirmishes between the two gangs.
Neither the Outlaws nor the Hells Angels responded to emailed requests for comment.
Parliamentary Secretary and co-chair Mable Elmore discusses details about members of an advisory forum on poverty reduction as Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson looks on during a press conference from the Rose Garden at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, October 30, 2017. CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS
MLA Mable Elmore has been blasted in the media recently for claiming reimbursements for food while she was taking the Welfare Food Challenge in November last year, trying to survive on $19 for the whole week.
A mistake by her and her staff has garnered far more attention than the fact that the Welfare Food Challenge is not able to run this year because the amount left over for food is only $6 per week. Once rent is subtracted from the deeply inadequate rate of $710 per month, only $23 remains to cover all other basic needs. This is using the average rent of $687 for an SRO in the Downtown Eastside.
The B.C. Liberal party released a copy of Elmore’s expense report last week and highlighted expense claims during the week of the challenge of meal per diem payments of $61 a day.
Perhaps the Liberals wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of the situation. The real hypocrisy is that the welfare rates were frozen at $610 per month for 10 years and have only been increased by $100 in the last year. That is less than half of the official Canadian poverty line, a measure that calculates what is actually needed to live.
And the real issue is what this reveals about how we value different people.
For food alone, MLAs are allowed to apply for reimbursement of $1,220 per month, if we consider four full 5-day weeks of work at the Legislature. Their housing allowance on top of that is at a minimum $1,000 per month for a total of $2,220.
So the amount the government provides an MLA for food and housing is over three times the amount the government provides for those in desperate need on welfare. They seem to value themselves far more than they value those on welfare in the deepest poverty.
And, for the most part, we stand by watching while people are devalued and dehumanized through a government system that should be part of a strong social safety net ready to support us when we need it.
Elmore has now promised to pay back the amount she should not have claimed in an attempt to remedy the hypocrisy; and she adds that the Welfare Food Challenge highlights why the province needs a poverty reduction plan. I look forward to seeing the real hypocrisy remedied in the upcoming poverty reduction plan with a significant increase in the welfare rates.
The way to address the real issue is by valuing people in deep poverty and recognizing their humanity.
Government itself has done the math and found that increasing income and disability assistance rates to 75 per cent of the poverty line (using the Market Basket Measure) costs only $372 million. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has gone further and calculated the cost of lifting those folks out of poverty entirely, and found that increasing the rates to 100 per cent of the poverty line costs $1.16 billion.
This sounds like a lot to most of us — an impossible, out of reach amount — but we have to remember that the provincial government has $50 billion of our public money in its budget so this amounts to only two per cent of this. Completely possible and within our reach.
And we have to remember that this is fundamentally about valuing people and their humanity.
Trish Garner is the community organizer of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition, a broad-based network of over 400 organizations across B.C. calling for an accountable, bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan for B.C.
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