Dermod Travis
Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC, a non-profit group dedicated to restore a bond between citizens and their elected officials. He has been the executive director of the Canada Tibet Committee from 2007 to 2011, and is the founder of PIRA Communications.

Travis is a former member of Quebec’s Estates General on the Situation and the Future of the French Language and its Comité d’examen sur la langue d’enseignement. He's given guest lectures at the Université de Montréal, Columbia University, Concordia University, Carleton University and McGill University.

Entries by Dermod Travis

B.C. Liberals Have No Time To Debate 'Serious Issues'

(3) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 5:54 PM

"Today's BC Liberals" may have taken a little inspiration during last year's election campaign from former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell when she bluntly stated in 1993 that "an election is no time to discuss serious issues."

It's why British Columbians could be forgiven for thinking that they missed...

Read Post

B.C. Government Math: When 1 Million May Actually Mean 210,000

(1) Comments | Posted March 12, 2014 | 12:34 AM


It would be tough to miss the ad, particularly if you're trying to watch anything online. The one where WorkBC tells us that: "B.C.'s growing economy will lead to one million job openings by 2020."

Since it was uploaded to YouTube in February, it's had more than a million views, the bulk of them paid for by the very people it's trying to influence -- B.C. taxpayers. Rarely does it come with YouTube's version of the mute button: the opportunity to skip the ad after five seconds. Even Enbridge's Northern Gateway ads give you that choice.

Funny what the ad doesn't mention though. It doesn't say that those million jobs come by counting all the job openings in B.C. starting from 2010. More than four years of openings have come and gone, but the ad's overall total was never reduced to take those jobs into account.

Heck with that logic, any number is possible. It's almost as bad as saying there will be more than 2.3 million job openings in B.C., by starting the count from when W.A.C. Bennett was premier.

The B.C. ministry responsible for jobs says the province has been clear on its job numbers. Yeah, clear as mud.

According to WorkBC's website: "Unemployment is expected to drop to 6.5 per cent by 2015 and 5.2 per cent by 2020, as more than one million new jobs open up across the province."

So which is it: "one million job openings" as the ad states or "one million new jobs" as the website states? Because they're not the same thing. According to, a "new job" is a job that "did not previously exist."

B.C.'s Labour Market Outlook -- which WorkBC relied on for that one million jobs stat -- clearly states that "Over one million job openings are expected in B.C. from 2010 to 2020."

But something WorkBC's ad doesn't mention is that close to two-thirds of those openings "will be due to replacement demand as a result of retiring workers and deaths." Those jobs aren't the result of "B.C.'s growing economy."

Dig a little further into the report and you'll find that the other "one-third of job openings will be due to new jobs that result from economic growth." Again starting from 2010.

And who's going to fill a good chunk of these openings? The Market Outlook has some answers on that too: "The B.C. labour market is expected to rely increasingly on migrants for new labour supply over the outlook period. New migrants to B.C. are expected to fill one-third of job openings to 2020."

A fact not lost on the B.C. government. According to Michael Smyth in The Province: "The Ministry of Natural Gas Development has an 'action plan' to get the credentials of foreign workers quickly recognized and certified in B.C.," based on a request-for-proposal posted on a government website.

Oh, and the best years for job growth are pretty well behind us. According to the Market Outlook: "For 2010-2020, demand for workers is expected to grow by an average of 1.7 per cent in the first half, then by 0.9 per cent in the second half of the forecast."

The Ontario government forecasts that job creation in that province "is expected to strengthen over the medium term, with employment increasing by 1.4 per cent in 2014, and 1.5 per cent in both 2015 and 2016."

WorkBC was likely hoping few would go looking for the Labour Market Outlook from the ad's "findyourfit" vanity url to verify whether or not the one million job openings was true. And it would be tough to find, even if you wanted to from that landing page.

Given that four years of job openings from the one million estimate have come and gone, that demand for workers is going to slow in the remaining years, and that one-third of the openings are likely to be filled by new migrants one can only hope that the leftovers for British Columbians are well-paid, because a survey from The Economist released last week has Vancouver ranked as the 30th most expensive place to live on earth.


Read Post

B.C.'s Budgetary Sleight Of Hand

(0) Comments | Posted February 28, 2014 | 11:43 PM

The funny thing about provincial budgets is that sometimes they tell you a lot more about a government's attitude than what the politicians might have intended when they first wrote the document.

Case in point: most governments like to pat themselves on the back at budget time by highlighting...

Read Post

Too Many Struggling To Get By In A 'Have' Province

(0) Comments | Posted February 14, 2014 | 9:13 PM

Halifax or Vancouver? Ask most folk which city boasts the higher median family income and chances are they'll say Vancouver. They couldn't be more wrong.

The median income for a two-parent family living in Halifax was $87,430 in 2011. Vancouver wasn't even close at $74,510. In fact, family incomes...

Read Post

Time To Bite Bullet On Metro Vancouver Regional Police Force

(2) Comments | Posted January 29, 2014 | 1:56 PM

The headlines are becoming a little too common for Lower Mainland residents:

Read Post

B.C. Campaign Spending Limits Should Be Like Comparing Grocery Prices

(0) Comments | Posted January 20, 2014 | 4:11 PM

When you compare prices at the supermarket you usually look at comparable products, for instance you don't compare the price of a head of lettuce with a can of baked beans. It should be the same way with government consultations.

Case in point: when you're trying to figure out...

Read Post

B.C. Riding Changes Could Be Worse Than Gracie's Finger

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2014 | 8:26 AM

Long-time political watchers in B.C. will know what's meant by Gracie's finger. It was one of Canada's most blatant acts of political gerrymandering.

In 1982, then Social Credit cabinet minister Grace McCarthy was suspected of using her influence to have her Little Mountain riding boundaries redrawn to include a...

Read Post

5 New Year's Resolutions For B.C.'s Politicians

(0) Comments | Posted December 30, 2013 | 6:46 PM

It's that time when many of us make resolutions for the new year. So, in the spirit of the season, here are five ideas for B.C.'s politicians to consider as they set their resolutions for 2014.

1. Stop trying to defy gravity

Voters aren't dummies. They can add, subtract, and...

Read Post

The TransLink Referendum Won't be Pretty

(0) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 9:40 PM

TransLink -- everyone's favourite whipping boy in the Lower Mainland -- is about to be put to the electoral test and it promises not to be pretty.

The fate of TransLink's future funding will be decided in the midst of the introduction of the Compass card, and Lower Mainland...

Read Post

Troubling Rumblings Around B.C.'s Agricultural Land Commission

(0) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 5:33 PM

Bill Bennett, minister responsible for the B.C. government's core review, is trying his darndest lately to reassure British Columbians that the government "has no plans to dismantle" the Agricultural Land Commission and that much of the speculation was simply the result of government "brainstorming."

That's nice. Doesn't mean much...

Read Post

Too many politicians in the municipal kitchen

(0) Comments | Posted November 12, 2013 | 4:43 PM

Who knew? Count 'em all up and B.C. has 1,660 elected officials sitting on 250 local councils and school boards across the province. That works out to one for every 2,000 registered voters.

It's also a lot of paycheques. Some of the lucky ones get to collect two...

Read Post

B.C.'s Local Election Reforms Do Nothing for Democracy

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 1:18 PM

In just over a year, millions of British Columbians will be invited back to the polls to elect local councils across B.C. and -- if it's like last time -- about one in three will accept the invitation.

What's the B.C. government's prescription to try and remedy this indifference? Not...

Read Post

Not Capping Election Fundraising Leaves Us All Worse Off

(1) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 1:33 AM

Whales have shorter gestation periods. For the third time since the Local Government Elections Task Force tabled its report, the B.C. government has been stricken with a case of cold feet.

In 2010, the task force made 31 recommendations to improve local democracy, including: setting campaign spending limits for...

Read Post

Why a Rush To Incinerate Garbage May Burn Metro Vancouver

(0) Comments | Posted August 28, 2013 | 7:00 PM

Garbage -- or to use the more politically correct term, waste -- is big business. Really big. It can also be a messy business, particularly when politicians get involved.

So no big surprise that the left hand doesn't seem to care what the right hand is doing at Metro Vancouver...

Read Post

Vancouver is Pricey and it's About to Get a Whole Lot Pricier

(0) Comments | Posted August 11, 2013 | 11:00 AM

A billion here, a billion there, it adds up. That's the problem with shopping lists.

They start out with milk and bread and then everyone else in the family adds something on and suddenly that trip to the local supermarket is a full-fledged shopping frenzy.

The municipalities that make up...

Read Post

Civility in Local Council Fiefdoms? Yeah Right.

(1) Comments | Posted August 7, 2013 | 6:00 AM

Small-town B.C. may be facing a plague of what disgraced former U.S. vice president Spiro Agnew called the "nattering nabobs of negativity" -- or at least that's what a number of B.C. mayors and their supporters would have you believe.

What's the crime these nattering nabobs have committed?...

Read Post

Fat City Hall Paycheques Leave Taxpayers in the Lurch

(3) Comments | Posted July 2, 2013 | 7:13 PM

Perhaps it will be a leisurely cruise along the French Riviera or something more adventurous like an expedition to Antarctica.

One thing is for certain though: Port Coquitlam's former chief administrative officer (CAO) Tony Chong won't be short of holiday destination possibilities after walking away with banked vacation...

Read Post

Her Win Shouldn't Blind Christy Clark to the Voters She Lost

(1) Comments | Posted June 6, 2013 | 1:29 AM

To the victor goes the spoils, cheered New York Senator William Marcy on news of the victory of Andrew Jackson to the White House in 1828. Marcy wasn't kidding. After Jackson assumed power close to 10 per cent of government officials were fired and replaced with candidates loyal to the...

Read Post

The NDP's Problem Is Bigger Than Adrian Dix

(11) Comments | Posted May 23, 2013 | 12:28 PM

The great thing about political punditry is the ability to be right and wrong at the same time and get away with it, which is why the pundits who were no better at predicting the outcome of the B.C. election shouldn't be expected to be any better at interpreting the...

Read Post

Why B.C. Doesn't Bother To Vote

(3) Comments | Posted May 6, 2013 | 1:39 PM

Trivia time: who was the last leader of the BC NDP to lead his party to more than 45 per cent of the popular vote in a provincial election?

One would have to go back six leaders and eight elections to 1979 when Dave Barrett won 45.99 per...

Read Post