Trudeau/Horgan Cruise Ship BLUNDER Could Cost BC Billions

It’s a basic rule in running a successful business … small or large: don’t insult, anger, or push away your best clients.

Especially if they spend more than $2 Billion a year on your products and support 7,000 jobs in your company.

Because they can go elsewhere!

Too bad neither Trudeau nor Horgan figured that out before they came down so willing, so arrogantly and, frankly, I believe so stupidly in the way they shut down and shut out the cruise ship industry from BC over the Covid-19 pandemic.

I get it. Almost no one wanted and almost no one could blame the federal government (or the province for supporting) the ban on cruise ships and their one million annual passengers from our ports during the pandemic.

Not even an avid cruiser like me. Not even THIS Summer, as our fight against the pandemic begins to succeed.

MUCH better safe than sorry.

But Trudeau and Horgan BLUNDERED their handling of the file … I believe as much for political reasons as health concerns: to impress anti-cruise industry supporters, the environmental activists and the anti-American bigots among their base.

In fact, I wrote a Blog last February pondering whether Trudeau’s motivation was retaliation against the US for cancelling Keystone: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/canadas-total-cruise-ship-ban-retaliates-for-keystone/.

Because Canada not only banned the ships/passengers from our ports … we also banned them from even stopping in BC waters, anchoring for four hours off shore, letting no passengers/crew off or on, taking no supplies on … just a “technical stop” long enough to satisfy US shipping laws.

Under American legislation, designed to protect US shipping and crewing jobs, foreign-registered ships cannot carry cargo or passengers between US ports without stopping en route at a foreign port.

Since almost all cruise ships are foreign-flagged, stops in Vancouver, Victoria, Prince Rupert en route to Alaska met the requirement beautifully … in more ways than one!

We saw 290 Alaska-bound sailings start or stop in annually at BC ports … soaking in our scenery, our food, our products, our tours, our hotels etc. etc. etc. … and spending BIG TIME.

There was absolutely no excusable reason … other than nastiness … that Canada could not have allowed Alaska bound cruises from the US to make a “technical stop” in Canadian waters without putting into any of our ports!

None!

But Horgan supported Trudeau’s move: ““I know that this is a big blow for Victoria and parts of Vancouver and even up-island and beyond into Prince Rupert and Alaska,” Horgan said. “But I’m confident, if you talk to the vast majority of people in Victoria, they would be hailing this decision,” reported Business in Vancouver in February.

At first, it looked like the death of the 2021 Alaska entire cruise season .. and an economic loss to the state of almost $1.5 Billion (U.S.).

Did Trudeau and Horgan think the Americans would take that lying down? As complacently as Canadians?

The Americans didn’t.

I warned about just that in my February blog post … exactly how the US might suspend the foreign-port requirement to save Alaska’s 2021 cruise season.

Trudeau/Horgan’s blunders in handling that file could now cost BC Billions of dollars each year …. permanently.

Special legislation breezed through the US Congress … with rare bi-partisan support … granting the cruise industry a WAIVER, allowing cruise ships to TEMPORARILY sail from US ports (Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles) DIRECTLY to Alaska … without a foreign stop.

Even when the legislation was introduced in Congress, Horgan pooh-poohed the chances it would pass:

“Premier John Horgan had earlier dismissed the measure, backed by a trio of Alaskan politicians, as a “blip” and assured reporters that the chances of it being passed by the American Senate were “remote,” Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer wrote in May.

He was wrong!

That waiver will expire once Canada/US border and cruise restrictions are removed.

But wait!

It has now occurred to some US lawmakers that, by sailing directly to Alaska, the ships will spend more time in American waters, and can make more stops in ports.

So why not make the waiver permanent? And cut out the Canadian ports … and even the need and the hassle for millions of people to go through customs.

Here’s how that would work: https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/us-bill-alaska-cruise-ships-skip-bc-ports-permanently

Horgan and Trudeau’s selfish anti-cruise ship base wouldn’t mind … but with each ship bringing/spending about $3 million dollars in Vancouver alone … others want to see them return, when it’s safe.

But there IS a way to get the Americans to back off their latest threat to cut out Canadian ports completely, even after the pandemic is contained and passengers/crew are all vaccinated.

First of all, the cruise ship lines … if not the American politicians … know OUR ports are popular: beautiful, friendly, safe and clean.

Let’s keep it real: BC and BC ports, like Vancouver and Victoria, are attractions in themselves … and even if the US adopts the proposed new bypass rule, the ships WILL come to BC … or at least, many of them.

And for those that don’t, Canada has to let the Americans know that cruise ships NOT stopping in Canadian ports will NOT be able to use Canada’s Inside Passage … a particularly scenic and popular part of Alaska-bound itineraries.

Let them stay out to sea … where the waters are rougher and the scenery is … wetter.

That should help get us out of the mess Trudeau and Horgan needlessly created.

Harv Oberfeld

(Reminder: Follow @harveyoberfeld on Twitter for FREE First Alerts to new postings on this Blog.)

Posted in British Columbia, International, National | 42 Comments

British Columbians Suffer/Die As NDP Government Fails to Keep Its Promise

Politicians make promises they cannot or simply do not keep. Every voter knows that.

When it involves a promised road, school, new program or even a tax cut, they often not only get away with it … but can even get re-elected making the same promises over again!

But growing numbers of British Columbians are suffering, or seeing their family members suffer and some even die, after the NDP made a promise four years ago it hasn’t kept.

This is DIRECTLY from the NDP’s 2017 Election Platform: ” We will invest in more paramedics, so that no one is left waiting for an ambulance in their time of critical need .”

Well, they did increase funding … but not enough … or the entire system is simply not working properly

Either way, the NDP government has failed in their responsibility … and their promise … to solve the critical problems facing BC’s Ambulance Services.

“No one is left waiting?”

Tell that to the family of Maureen Bower who died last September … two years after the NDP made its promise … and after it still took more than three hours to get an ambulance to her home in Coquitlam.

In Coquitlam! Not exactly a remote rural community or isolated farm.

” If they were there within the hour, she’d be recovering from a mild stroke. She’d still be alive. I’m angry about the situation. Her grandkids will miss their grandmother,” Maureen’s brother Ernie Mack said at the time.

Read the full details as reported by CTV here: https://bc.ctvnews.ca/she-d-still-be-alive-b-c-family-wants-answers-after-ambulance-takes-3-hours-to-arrive-1.5111554.

Maureen was not alone: news stories of British Columbians waiting HOURS for an ambulance in an Emergency situation are sadly easy to find.

Just last week, a woman who broke her hip at a Burnaby Sky Train station had to wait, lying there on the station floor for more than an hour before an ambulance arrived.

And a News 1130 story reported Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC, saying long wait times for people in emergency situations are becoming more common.

“I mean it’s tragic when you see something like that, anytime anybody has to wait when they’re in an emergency situation whether it’s critical or not, it’s a horrible experience,” Clifford said.

See the News 1130 story here: https://www.citynews1130.com/2021/06/02/bc-paramedics-staffing-issues/

” We have the ambulances and the funding from the government. It’s really about the mismanagement of the ambulances, and the ambulance service and PHSA and BC Emergency Health Services (BC EHS) failing to really provide the mandate that they’re responsible to provide to the citizens of the province.”

But the ultimate responsibility lies with the BC government: it regulates, appoints, supervises and funds those who operate BC’s province-wide Ambulance system.

Tracy Gunderson died from a hemorrhage in a Vancouver apartment after it took an ambulance 35 minutes to get to her.

Imagine if you, or someone you know, was left ill, injured or died in distress, pain or laying their own blood after it took more than a half hour, or an hour or more, for an ambulance arrived.

While fully equipped ambulances sat in parking lots … unused.

Health Minister Adrian Dix ordered a full independent review after Gunderson’s death and in 2019 promised … there’s that word again … to implement ALL of the report’s 14 recommendations.

You can read the recommendations on Pages 19-20 of the report here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/conducting-health-research/bcehs-case-review.pdf.

It looked “promising”: https://globalnews.ca/news/5941815/bc-911-delay-report/.

But No … two years later, the BC Ambulance system remains seriously … and some believe critically ill!

One Friday night in February this year, according to the Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of BC “there were 29 ambulances that were left unstaffed in Metro Vancouver. It adds wait times for an emergency call were up to an hour, up to 16 hours for a non-emergency call, and there were no ambulances operating on the North Shore — although the latter was later mitigated,” News 1130 reported. (https://www.citynews1130.com/2021/02/22/paramedic-shortage-b-c/)

That level of public Emergency “service” … or “disservice” in BC … is really unacceptable, inexcusable!

Especially four years after the NDP made ending long ambulance waits an Election “promise” … No one would be left waiting.

But they were … and still are … far too often for far too long.

Lives literally hang in the balance.

It’s time the NDP government keeps its PROMISE … and meets its responsibility to get ambulances where and when they are needed … to save more precious lives.

Harv Oberfeld

(Reminder: Get FREE First Alerts to this BC-based Blog by following @harveyoberfeld on Twitter. No spam … just Alerts to new topics up for discussion.)

Posted in British Columbia | 65 Comments