"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Monday, November 24, 2014

They may be 'auxiliary,' but their work is essential

We're now getting some more clarity on the impact of last's month's edict from RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, informing us unilaterally (with no consultation)  that our 49 auxiliary officers would have to be under the "direct supervision" of a regular, armed member whenever the auxiliaries were performing their duties. And what we are being told is that the situation may not be quite as problematic as we had feared, and that all policy matters surrounding the use of auxiliaries are under review.

New letter from Supt. Bates.
 Here's a link to my previous posting about the issue; the link also includes other links to news stories about the edict, which Coquitlam Council made into a very public issue when it voted unanimously on Nov. 3 in support of my motion to ask Ottawa to overturn the edict.

At the time, we were concerned that the entire Auxiliary Constables program might be in jeopardy because the City simply couldn't afford to have a regular member shadow an auxiliary member who, for example, might be making a public-safety-related presentation to an elementary school. Similarly, the City couldn't afford to have regular members replace all the work currently done by auxiliaries.

In a letter dated Nov. 21 (see scanned copy of letter accompanying this story. I literally had to cut and paste the letter to have it fit on one page.), Supt. Tyler Bates, director of RCMP National Aboriginal Policing and Crime Prevention Services, explains that the edict was issued in response to the shootings on Parliament Hill. He explained: "...in the current environment, there is increased risk to those wearing the RCMP uniform, including Auxiliary Constables." And since auxiliaries are unarmed, it wouldn't be prudent to allow them to be unaccompanied by armed Regular Members.

That said, Supt. Bates added, "Auxiliaries can still perform crime prevention functions without direct supervision, provided they are not in uniform." He also added that the national policy governing the supervision of auxiliaries "is under review in order to ensure a balance between community policing initiatives and public and police safety."

He continued: "Feedback will be sought from RCMP Divisions on any proposed policy changes. In the meantime, the directive that Auxiliary Constables working in uniform be under the direct supervision of an RCMP Regular Member remains in effect, to ensure the safety and security of our Auxiliary Constables."

Bottom line: It's good to learn that unaccompanied auxiliaries will still be able to address students and youth groups, for example. But I'm also hoping that their educational presentations won't be rendered less-effective because they're being delivered by a non-uniformed auxiliary instead of one in the Mounties' garb.

I'm also saddened to learn that the the auxiliaries' effective crime-prevention patrols--which certainly are made more impactful by the fact the auxilaries are in uniform--cannot continue in their pre-edict form. And that's a real shame.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thanks! Thanks! And Thanks!

The results are in, and 11,712 citizens voted for us! Wow. We're re-elected. We're in a strong second place of eight elected councillors. And we're back for four years.
All we can say is Thank You! Thanks to the voters of Coquitlam, thanks to my volunteers and supporters, and thanks to Coquitlam!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Just 12 more hours of Internet campaigning left!

This sort of 'sign-and-wave' event will be allowed tomorrow.
In case you're wondering, this page will go silent tomorrow--election day--as should all candidates' Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, blogs and websites. It's all part of a new set of rules enacted by the provincial government. Here's exactly what is not allowed, and what is allowed:
On General Voting Day, candidates and elector organizations cannot:
· sponsor newspaper, television or radio advertising
· sponsor new election advertising
· change their existing advertising on the Internet, including tweets and Facebook messages
· use social media including transmitting messages about getting out to vote
· use automated dialers (e.g., robo-calls)
Candidate and elector organizations are allowed to solicit votes on General Voting Day in the following ways:
· live person-to-person telephone calls
· door-to-door canvassing
· handing out brochures
· placing election signs or posters
· “mainstreeting” and “sign-and-wave”
However, these activities must not take place within 100 metres of a voting place.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New trail would extend Coquitlam Crunch northward

Crunch could be extended to Eagle Mountain Park. (Photo by me)
You might recall reading a story in the Tri-City News a week ago about Fortis BC's plans for some major work in northern Coquitlam. The story focused on Fortis's plans for some open houses, and then mentioned (in passing, or so it seemed) that Fortis was working with City of Coquitlam officials on a plan that would see the company build a hiking trail connection to link the top of the Coquitlam Crunch to the area around FortisBC’s new compressor station.
The story quotes James Lota of Fortis as saying, "Your staff have provided plans for the trail and the proposed configuration of what you want us to build. We have put a lot of thought into it and we are moving forward on the basis that we would like to help you out with that.”
Mr. Lota's comments came in response to my questioning of him on this subject, a subject that was first raised some months ago by our City Manager.
Here's the big take-away: This "moving forward" is, to my mind, all but tantamount to an agreement-in-principle that Fortis will, indeed, be building this new trail. And this, I think, is really great news.
Ever since the Crunch was improved with the addition of new landscape-tie stairs along its steepest section, usage on the Crunch has skyrocketed. Now, with the prospect that the trail could be extended even further north -- to Eagle Mountain Park at the top of Westwood Plateau -- it's bound to become even more popular. This is tremendous news for hikers, walkers and lovers of fresh air and exercise.
Better yet: it would come at no cost to the taxpayer. Fortis would likely foot the entire bill for this million-dollar-plus project!
Just thought I'd mention it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A day on the campaign trail

Photographer Michelle Doherty followed me throughout the day on Nov. 10 to record what one of my typical campaign days was like. The brilliant, crisp weather was atypical, however....and thank goodness for that. Here are a few of the photos she took. For the full album, please visit my political Facebook page by clicking here.

The handshake at the door. Always a good way to finish.
A lovely way to start the morning with Mary.

Chatting with Mabel Chan about the untimely death of her son Leo.

Ready to plant a sign.
Sharing a light moment Exec. Asst. Carol Jones
With GM of Strategic Initiatives Perry Staniscia

Brother-in-law Bill, Mary, me and friend Ron greeted a.m. commuters.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The elephant in the room

I'm home now from the Chamber of Commerce's all-candidates' meeting, where my opening speech enjoyed the loudest and most prolonged applause I've received for any of the speeches or answers I've given in any of the all-candidates' meetings.
No surprise that the speech also generated some strong --even emotional -- responses/rebuttals from two members of the Protect slate later in the evening during the wrap-up session. Here are the notes from my opening speech:
Hi, I'm Terry O'Neill, and I’m seeking re-election to council.
This is our fourth all-candidates’ meeting, and there have been plenty of big issues discussed: services, densification and taxes. But there’s one we haven't talked about. There’s an elephant in the room, and it’s this:
The NDP is trying to take over City Hall.
*It’s no coincidence that every member of the Protect slate, aka Coquitlam Citizens Alliance, is also an NDPer.
*It’s no coincidence that our local NDP MLA and MP have endorsed the slate.
*It’s no coincidence that CUPE, which represents the city’s unionized workforce and is closed aligned with the NDP, has endorsed the slate, too.
We all know what damage the NDP did to the provincial economy when it was in power. Let’s not let it happen in Coquitlam too.
As an independent, I’ll work hard to keep Coquitlam safe and financially sound. That’s my promise, and you can count on it!

'Real consultation is crucial'

A good-sized audience at Summit community centre for the meeting.
As I reported earlier, my Burquitlam speech on Tuesday centred on truck routes. My speech at tonight's Chamber all-candidates meeting at the Evergreen Cultural Centre will be about yet another, very specific subject. Stay tuned. 
Meanwhile, here are my notes from my opening address at last night's Westwood Plateau Community Association all-candidates meeting--a meeting that went off very well. My speech was fairly general, hitting on my usual themes:

Hi, I'm Terry O'Neill, and I’m seeking re-election to Council.
My background in journalism and volunteering taught me the importance of standing up for what you believe in, and for working hard to support others.
That’s why I helped found the Eagle Ridge Residents Association. And that's why I'm proud of the role I played on Council in shrinking tax increases over the past three years. I certainly intend to continue keeping a close watch on the bottom line if re-elected.
I also hope you give me the chance to build on the successes I helped initiate in the area of democratic reform. Real consultation is crucial!
As Coquitlam keeps growing, we need councillors with good judgement and solid experience to ensure that services and amenities keep pace. You can count on me to work hard and be prepared, so you receive the high-quality government you deserve.

And one more thing: As an independent candidate, I am not beholden to any slate, team or party. Instead, my priority is you, the taxpayer, the voter, the citizen. That's my promise, and you can count on it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

O'Neill and O'Neill: What's in a name?

Terry O'Neill
Shari O'Neill
Now that the election brochures have been distributed and the lawn signs have been planted, questions are arising once more about the two O'Neills -- yours truly, running for Coquitlam council, and Shari O'Neill, who is running for School District 43 board.
The short answer to the ubiquitous question is: we are not married; we are not even related.
The long answer is: we are not married; we are not even related. Hope that makes everything perfectly clear.
Meantime, I'm wishing Shari all the best in the election!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Actions speak louder than words

A large and motivated audience in Burquitlam. (Photo by me)
We have just returned home from the Burquitlam all-candidates meeting, at Banting Middle School, where most of the questions centred on the many changes the area is undergoing because of densification and the Skytrain.
It was a well-attended affair: almost 200 were in the audience. All the mayoral and council candidates showed up except for Mr. Mandarino and Mr. Kopahi. A big thank-you to the organizers and volunteers who made the event such a big success. Here are the notes for my opening, one-minute speech:

I know that Burquitlam residents are worried about the rapid rate of change here – the densification and the arrival of the Evergreen Line.
Everyone at this table will tell you that they are concerned, too. But I’ve always believed that actions speak louder than words.
And that’s why I was one of only three council members who voted last summer AGAINST a plan to turn Como Lake Avenue-- from Mariner to Clarke -- into a full truck route for at least two months.
Our GM of engineering opposed it, and the public had not even been consulted on a move that would have steered more heavy-truck traffic into the very heart of Burquitlam.
Thankfully, after a public outcry, council finally listened to reason and voted unanimously stop the experiment in its tracks.
I can assure you that there will be MORE of this kind of independent-minded and principled decision-making if you return me to council for a second term. That's my promise, and you can count on it!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Edict from RCMP brass strips auxiliary officers of independence/power, hurts Coquitlam

Council unanimously supported my motion.
UPDATES: Here are some links to media stories about this issue, including explanations from the RCMP and admissions that, as I charged, they failed to consult with us before issuing the edict. Here's CKNW's story. Here's 24hrs'. Here's CKWX's. Here the story in the Tri-City News. And here's the Tri-Cities Now's story. And, finally, the Vancouver Sun's.

Late last month, an RCMP director in Ottawa quietly issued an edict that will have a dramatic and detrimental effect on the delivery of community-safety and –education programs in Coquitlam.
I am not happy about this. And neither are my colleagues on Coquitlam Council, who voted unanimously in favour of my motion tonight (seconded by Brent Asmundson) to express our disappointment with the change.
The heretofore unpublicized edict originated from the office of the Director of the National Crime Prevention/Aboriginal Policing Services, which ordered on Oct. 24 that all Auxiliary RCMP Constables must now be under the “direct” supervision of a Regular Member when performing their duties. Until now, it has been merely “general” supervision.
Until the change, the City had been able to use auxiliaries to, for example, patrol Canada Day festivities on their own, while generally supervised by one Regular Member at a central location. Under the new edict, however, the auxiliaries won’t be able to do this, and will have to be accompanied almost lockstep by a Regular Member.
This would not make sense, of course. The bottom line is that the new edict will either cost the City (and taxpayers, of course) considerably more money – for all-Regular Member patrols—or lead to a reduction in service. We are not amused.
Rubbing salt into the wound is the fact there was absolutely no consultation from Ottawa about this—an astonishingly tone-deaf approach considering the commitment the RCMP made during the last round of contract talks to better communicate with contracting municipalities.
The change in the role of auxiliaries may be no big deal in Ontario, which has a provincial force (the OPP) and city forces dealing with most of their population. But it’s a big deal in B.C., and an especially big deal in Coquitlam, where we have almost 50 auxiliaries performing a wide range of duties, from crime-prevention to community-education. (See the notice of motion, below, for more detail.)
We have every right to be proud of the tremendous work our auxiliaries have done for Coquitlam, and we are certain that they are having a profoundly beneficial effect on the community.
To have Ottawa imperil all that with a stroke of the pen is simply not acceptable.

Notice of Motion regarding Auxiliary Constables
Whereas the Director of the National Crime Prevention/Aboriginal Policing Services (Ottawa) has, of as of the 24th of October 2014, changed the policy with respect to the deployment and engagement of Auxiliary Constables within Detachments across Canada, and
Whereas the policy change identifies a move from 'General Supervision' to 'Direct Supervision' with regard to the deployment of Auxiliary Constables, with 'General Supervision' meaning the Auxiliary Constable(s) may perform specific duties without being under the direct supervision of a Regular Member, and 'Direct Supervision' meaning the Auxiliary constable must be accompanied and supervised by a Regular Member, and
Whereas the Coquitlam Detachment’s Auxiliary Constable Program is responsible for: Crime Reduction Patrols; School Presentations at elementary schools; visits to programs with City Parks and Rec Departments; presentations to Community Youth groups (Girl Guides and Boy Scouts); and providing police presence at Community Events, and
Whereas the announced changes of Oct. 24 appear to have a detrimental effect on the ability of Coquitlam Detachment’s Auxiliary Constables to perform the above-stated duties,
Therefore be it resolved that Coquitlam Council send a letter to the Director of the National Crime Prevention/Aboriginal Policing Services (Ottawa), outlining the impact the policy change has on the safety and well-being of the city of Coquitlam and asking that the policy change be reconsidered.
Moved by Councillor Terry O’Neill           Seconded by Councillor Brent Asmundson
Nov. 3, 2014