NCN gas bar employee renowned for outstanding customer service

It only takes a small light to illuminate a dark room. If Northern Manitoba’s crime, addiction and poverty problems are the room, then NCN gas bar attendant Owen Spence is one of the lights.

The 25-year-old Thompson resident, who is on a journey of introspection and self-improvement, was recently a guest speaker during a YWCA Steps to Success customer service workshop. Spence regularly receives tips from customers at Nisichawyasihk Cree Nation (NCN)’s Cree Road gas station.

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The Financial Post: Persistent deficits and higher spending raising Canada’s economic ‘vulnerability’: Fitch

A raft of new spending items in the federal budget aims to stimulate an economy that’s lost momentum, with some analysts predicting a recession on the way. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The Liberal government’s preference for continued deficits and increasing program spending “could increase the vulnerability of public finances to a faster economic slowdown or sudden shock,” according to Fitch Ratings.

Canada has the second largest gross government debt of ‘AAA’ rated countries after the United States, which is ‘incompatible’ with its gold-plated rating, according to the ratings agency.

While the credit agency concedes that increased spending and projected deficits in Canada’s latest budget remain consistent with a falling federal debt burden, the forecast assumes the economy will avoid a recession.

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Fernie paragliders achieve winter soaring flights

There is a special kind of loneliness that only glider pilots seem to appreciate…climbing thousands of feet above the mountains in columns of rising air, suspended underneath engineered fabric, with only a small reserve parachute separating the pilot from injury or death if things go wrong. It’s a beautiful sport in spring, summer and fall for the small, but stalwart, group of Elk Valley paraglider pilots. And they are pilots. The current open distance world record cross-country flight in a paraglider is 588.27km, a tasked achieved in Brazil this October. Climbs over 10,000ft are common. But as winter arrives in the valley, hopes of soaring flights are usually abandoned in place of speed paragliding, a death defying fringe sport comprised of adrenalized aviators who barrel-roll through canyons of ice at 120km/hr. Continue reading “Fernie paragliders achieve winter soaring flights”

Steelmaking coal experts optimistic on price despite emerging green-tech

Steelmaking coal is experiencing a moderate recovery after prices dropped to US$130/t in July of 2019, sparking layoff news at Teck Resources, North America’s largest producer of steelmaking coal, which has six operating coal mines in Alberta and B.C. that produced 26.2 million tonnes of steelmaking coal in 2018.

According to Statistics Canada, steel production in the U.S., Canada, and China a key indicator for steelmaking coal markets has risen from approximately 160 million tonnes in 1990 to approximately 760 million tonnes in 2008. Since 2008, at the onset of the global economic downturn, annual steel production has averaged around 725 million tonnes. Continue reading “Steelmaking coal experts optimistic on price despite emerging green-tech”

Editorial: Suicide and Hillary Clinton’s private yogi

How I came to live with Hillary Clinton’s private yoga instructor, Nateshvar, started with a gunshot. My father. He walked into the bedroom that he shared with his two children and wife in East Vancouver, retrieved his prized hunting rifle from under the bed, and ended his decades long battle with mental illness.

I wasn’t surprised when I got the call from my stepmother. In a way, I felt relieved for the whole family, who’d been living under the dark cloud of my father’s paranoid schizophrenia since the late 70s. My brother Daniel and I repainted the bedroom and filled the bullet hole in the ceiling. Continue reading “Editorial: Suicide and Hillary Clinton’s private yogi”

Kootenay cattle ranchers roping in prosperity

Cattle ranching is a critical industry that binds together all chapters of the great Canadian agriculture story. The Waldo Stockbreeders Association in Jaffray B.C., which celebrated its 80th anniversary on Saturday, is part of the glue that holds the book together. The event took place in the Jaffray Community Centre on Saturday evening. Compared to Fernie, with its thriving nightlife and modern art scene, the ranching culture around Jaffray, with its large open fields juxtaposed to serrated peaks, is like visiting another country where cows still roam the range, men in cowboy hats fix fences, and children work in kitchens. Continue reading “Kootenay cattle ranchers roping in prosperity”

Editorial: The befouled produce aisle of national unity

Balkanization. It’s a strange but important word, like a dysfunctional cousin that keeps showing up on special occasions. The term refers to the fracturing of the Balkan Peninsula, formerly ruled by the Ottoman Empire, into a number of smaller states between 1817 and 1912. These days, Balkanization is a pejorative geopolitical term used for the process of fragmentation of a region or state into smaller regions or states that are uncooperative. Sadly, the disdainful cousin has again arrived in Canada as western separatism, also called ‘Wexit’, which is spreading its rot through the produce section of national unity. I’m not getting into the reasons for fear of taking on the stench, although there is a correlation between western separatism and the election of a Trudeau. This is round two. Round one was allegedly in response to Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s National Energy Program. But round two is nothing new. Threats to national unity, the stinking apples brought on by the west, are historically removed by the produce manager, the House of Commons. Sadly, though, the produce section is befouled by the cabbage of Quebec separatism, which has officially been around since 1968 when a few censorious political groups gelled to form the Parti Québécois. In 1995, Quebec held an independence referendum after the failure of Meech Lake, which almost destroyed the country. In the federal minority government of 2019, Quebec separatists, through the Bloc Québécois, along with a scattering of NDP parliamentarians, hold the balance of power. Once again, eastern Canada and western Canada are at an impasse. Current symbols of the stalemate are the west’s considerable oil and gas production, the need for a new pipeline to supply eastern Canada’s recalcitrant fossil fuel addiction, and Quebec’s new $1-billion Port-Daniel-Gascons cement plant, which according to a Maclean’s report, will produce more carbon dioxide emissions than a tar sands mine. Like all conflict, there needs to be a way out – in this case, before the entire Canadian produce aisle gets picked-over by separatist bargain hunters. There is a potential hero, though, who might just silence the Hell-howls of Canadian Balkanization, the humble Jagmeet Singh, the only Federal leader who is, so far, unblemished by lies and scandal.


The Western Producer: First Nations horseman communes with his horses

Jordan Camille shoots from the hip. Photo by Candice Camille

Jordan Camille lives at the northwestern tip of the great western desert, which stretches from Durango, Mexico, to the Deadman Valley west of Kamloops, B.C.

Cactus and sagebrush covered hills reach up to burned-out, pine-covered mountains. Mile-high limestone and basalt cliffs preside over alfalfa crops in summer. In winter, brown grass and snow mix with cattle on the open range. Continue reading “The Western Producer: First Nations horseman communes with his horses”

Stuck in the sweet spot between youth and old age

Seventy-year-old Dave O’Haire, capped in a felt hat with feathers, walks down a side-street in downtown Fernie B.C. He looks up through a tangle of electric cables and transformers to the mountains on the west side of Elk Valley.

“The great thing about Fernie is, whether you walk down a street or an avenue, or an alley, there’s always a view,” he says. “If you go to resort towns, you don’t see anything. In Whistler, you’ve gotta take a chairlift to see the mountains.”

O’Haire shares his story from a desk in the public library – his blue fishing vest illuminated by the afternoon sun. He has the eyes of a young man, even though he almost lost one while forking manure with his brother on the family homestead. O’Haire seems stuck in the sweet spot, somewhere between youth and old age. Continue reading “Stuck in the sweet spot between youth and old age”