Useful, or at least interesting, news for May 30.

Published on May 30, 2011

Workers at Canada Post are gearing up for a strike this Thursday after the union representing urban workers gave the Crown corporation its final offer on Monday. The union served notice Monday that puts it in a legal position to strike on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. EDT, though the union and Canada Post have a history of reaching last minute deals.

Still Canadians are urged to think carefully about mailing a bill payment or other urgent letter this week as it might get stuck at some stage of the delivery process.

"We have some days in front of us but at some point the union will have to go forward," Denis Lemelin, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said Monday after a meeting with Canada Post. "It is important that Canada Post let go some of its demands and rollbacks that they put on the table."

Canada Post called the union "out of touch" with the challenges the company is dealing with, such as decreasing mail volumes.

"The latest counter offer from the union does nothing to address the significant challenges facing the company," Canada Post said.

Mail and parcels will not be delivered in the event of a strike, however Canada Post and the union have an agreement to bring in volunteer workers to deliver cheques to pensioners and those on social assistance.

—source Yahoo News

Today is Auditor General Sheila Fraser’s last day in office. As she leaves she takes a parting shot at government for the dismal conditions on First Nations reserves. Fraser performed 30 audits of First Nations-specific programs and issues. She said it’s “sad to think that on half of First Nations reserves the water presents a high risk to their health and safety, that only 40 per cent of aboriginal children graduate from high school…” She said “… it's going to take a lot of hard work on the part of the federal government and First Nations together to try to ascertain why these programs are not being more successful and how could things be made better, because I just don't think this should continue on the way it is." Fraser has concluded a long-standing lack of clarity on the federal government's role in administering funds and monitoring progress as a key stumbling block to success. She also notes a lack of capacity in many smaller communities to implement programs.

­—source CTV News

The British Columbia Court of Appeal issued the reasons for its judgment in a precedent-setting victory by West Moberly First Nations to protect endangered caribou in north-eastern British Columbia.

At dispute was whether BC had meaningfully consulted and accommodated West Moberly by approving coal mining exploration proposed by First Coal Corporation. The coal exploration activities would destroy critical winter habitat for the endangered Burnt Pine caribou herd. Both West Moberly and provincial biologists have for many years been trying to recover declining caribou herds in the north-east, but the Ministry of Energy and Mines approved the coal exploration permits in the fall of 2009.

West Moberly sought judicial review of BC's decision. In the spring of 2010, the lower court held that West Moberly's treaty right to hunt necessarily included specific protection for caribou, given that caribou are a species of central significance to West Moberly's traditional way of life.

BC appealed that decision. A majority of the BC Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, upholding the decision of the court below.

"Caribou have been a big part of our culture and diet for countless generations. Our traditional hunting practices are our heritage. This judgment supports our efforts to protect this heritage for future generations," said West Moberly's Chief Roland Willson. "The court has sent a clear message that BC must take proactive steps to protect the integrity of our treaty rights. Now that the court has affirmed the government's duty, we look forward to working cooperatively in the coming weeks and months to do what it takes to save this species from extinction.”

—source press release issued by West Moberly First Nation

Ancient Cedars Spa at Tofino's Wickaninnish Inn has been voted the top year-round Resort Spa in Canada in the 2011 Spa Poll by the luxury travel authority, Condé Nast Traveler. Frequent inquiries for a treatment indigenous to Vancouver Island's west coast inspired spa manager Miranda Moore to consult members of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations about ancient customs that could be incorporated into a spa treatment. Three other B.C. spas made the Condé Nast Traveler Top Ten Resort Spas list-Canada. They are: the King Pacific Lodge on Princess Royal Island, ranked No. 1 overall in Canada, Whistler's Four Seasons Resort and the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

—source Times Colonist

Kelowna RCMP Constable Geoff Mantler, who was charged with assaulting two people during two separate arrests, is not on the force’s payroll anymore. The officer made national headlines when he was caught on video in January kicking an arrest suspect in the face. Mantler was originally suspended with pay, but that ended on Friday May 27.

"Stoppage of pay and allowances was approved for Constable Mantler, on the rationale that the allegations of misconduct against him are so serious that they require a greater response than suspension alone," said Supt. Bill McKinnon of the Kelowna RCMP. Officers can only be suspended without pay by National Headquarters in Ottawa. Mantler the decision. His next court appearance is June 21.