Contest Winners

The Riley Times social media blitz has come to an end with none of the platform goals being met. Thank you to all those who took part and showed their support. I am not giving up, I have learned a lot, and will re-organize my thoughts and strategy to try again. The message of sticking together and supporting one another for the better good of society as a whole is too important to let go.

In appreciation for all the support I did receive, I have decided to give away 3 T-shirts by way of a random selection. I used google number generator to select the winners which are posted below. The selection process is below that as well in case anyone is interested.

T-shirt winners Joe Horneck, Michelle Wilson, Shawn Engel.


Random selection of participants

Step 1: Random select of platform

(Twitter=1facebook=2youtube=3Website=4) Random number= 1 Twitter

Step2: Follower or likes

(Followers=1 Interactions=2) Random number =2 Interactions

Interactions =250 Random number? =120

120 = Joe Horneck

Step 1: Random select of platform

(Twitter=1facebook=2youtube=3Website=4) Random number= 1 Twitter

(Followers=1 Interactions=2) Random number =2 Interactions

Interactions =250 Random number? =36

36= Michelle Wilson


Step 1: Random select of platform

(Twitter=1facebook=2youtube=3Website=4) Random number= 4 Website

(Followers=1 Interactions=2) Random number =2 Interactions

Interactions =10 Random number =5

5= Shawn Engel

Posted in environment

Malala Yousafzai: Stronger Than 10 Regular Men, Mighty is SHE!

Photo credit: Facebook – I am Malala

Next Wednesday, Canada’s Governor General will bestow an honorary Canadian citizenship to the brave and ever courageous Malala Yousafzai. The outspoken teen was living in the Swat District, of her native country Pakistan, where attending school as a female was a very controversial issue, if even allowed at all. Yousafzai openly opposed the ban on female education right up until (and after) an attempt on her life was made. While on a bus ride to her home, Yousafzai was shot in the head and survived.

It’s difficult to stand up and oppose what we know is wrong or needs to change. We start weighing the ramifications of our actions or our words against the benefits and likelihood of success. What will others think of me? Will anyone even listen? What if I lose my job? What if I’m never allowed to enter a certain country because of my beliefs? All of these concerns, that may nag at us here in the western world, are quite trivial when you compare them with the fear of being shot in the head for politely protesting not being allowed to go to school.

There are two points I want to make on this story along with the side note that I am extremely proud to be a Canadian and offer my full support to our government in recognizing this women. First of all, the fact that young girls around the world are still being denied education and many other basic rights just because they are female, is disgusting! How can we as union members or activists, fight so hard for improvements to our comfortabe lives without acknowledging and stretching out a helping hand to those who are being neglected in such ways. Do we deserve a raise and more vacation and a safer workplace? Absolutely! Are we going to continue to fight for it? Of course we are! But we can’t forget that we have a responsibility as human beings to take a stand for these people. Secondly, in the face of death, Yousafzai stood up for what she knew had to be changed. Let us take a a tiny bit of courage from her and change the way we do things. Priorities within our unions need to change. Instead of continually trying to answer for why our labour costs are so much higher than other countries in the world, we should be connecting with those workers and giving unionism to them. Social media has made the world a tiny flat place with no borders. We need to take advantage of this to end the competition and join together regardless of race, religion, geographical location, or in this case, gender. Our differences make us awesome and our unified voice will destroy inequality.

Thanks for reading, please take the time to share this with someone else.





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Posted in equality, union, unionism

Safety n Numbers

Right now we are competing with third world labor and the only winners in this game are the 1% at the top: the corporations and the billionaires.

Social media has made the world a tiny flat place with no borders. We need to take advantage of this to end the competition and join together regardless of race, religion or geographical location. Our differences make us awesome and our unified voice will destroy inequality. The name “Riley” means valiant and courageous, it came from a Viking war hero who gave his life fighting for his community. The Riley Times will be the platform that connects us all together with security and democracy to protect our environment and employment.

All of this is much easier said in one short phrase, there is “SAFETY n NUMBERS”.

Posted in environment, equality, industrial safety, labor, labour, unionism

The World is Good

It’s amazing the difference positive thinking can make on your mental state of being. It has been a dark, negative week that has left me beardless, beat up and feeling like a whipped dog. Yes; I said beardless! It’s a long story that I probably shouldn’t get into on this platform, but I will say the experience had me dwelling on how the world is an evil dark place full of people who are out to get us. Although this may be true in some instances, dwelling on it only shed light on more corruption and inequalities. When I woke up this morning, I made a conscious effort that I was done with this and began looking for all the amazing things in my life and in the world around me. The truth of the matter is that the world is full of wonderful people and, in a lot of ways things are getting better and brighter every day. Here are just 3 examples of progress that I have recently noticed.
A few weeks ago I watched Michael Moore’s, “Where to Invade Next”. It’s a documentary about systems, policies and procedures the United States could adopt from other countries. It was an amazing show that left me with the realization that just because there are so many problems in the United States right now, and many issues here in Canada as well, it does not mean that the world is all wrong. Unionism is alive and well in many parts of the world. A socialistic style of government has made Scandinavian countries some of the happiest places on earth. The banking system in Iceland has proven that gender equality will have an enormous impact on financial stability. There are countries that recognize that education is not a burden but rather an opportunity to set up the next generation to do better than ourselves and other countries that have proven a nonviolent and peaceful law enforcement style has led to more peace and far lower crime rates. The world is a wonderful place full of amazing people with great ideas for humanity.
Another instance that has proven this point is a T.V. show my daughter introduced us to. The show is called “The Kindness Diaries”. My daughter’s class has been watching it as a social studies type project. As a side note, I have noticed a major shift in the way our children are learning in school today, and at first glance I felt as if they were not doing enough math, science and other conventional education; however, I now understand that the social education they are receiving is of so much greater value than the old style education we grew up with, especially in a world where math and science solutions can be found at the tips of our fingers or by simply asking “Siri”. A few examples of this type of education are, “Roots of empathy” where the school lines up a brave new mother who is willing to bring her young baby into the classroom for, what can only be described as, “show and tell.” The kids get to watch the baby and ask questions as they are indirectly taught that everyone used to be a sweet innocent baby and everyone, regardless of how they act or speak to one another, deserves understanding and empathy. C.I.A is the latest initiative I have heard about. It sure grabs your attention when you hear your 10 year old daughter is involved with the C.I.A., which turns out to stand for “Caring in Action.” In this program kids are encouraged to do random acts of kindness and use their creative little brains to come up with new and improved ways to serve others. They are learning at a very early age, how good it feels to help others and be of service to them. And then, of course, there is the study of the aforementioned “Kindness Diaries”. A show that documents a man’s journey around the world powered on nothing more than the kindness of complete strangers. Him and his motorcycle, equipped with a sidecar, left Los Angeles with no money, food or plans for shelter. He simply talks to strangers, tells them his story and asks for assistance in any form. People respond with gasoline, food and even letting him stay in their homes. The myth that traveling without responsible planning and vigilance will have you robbed, beaten and maybe kidnapped, is being shattered by this uplifting production that displays just how good people really are.
While hiking in Arizona last March, we ran into a friendly older guy who, upon learning we were from Canada, wanted to talk politics. He was anti-Trump big time, but then followed up these statements by saying, “Mind you anything would be better than that socialistic prick, Bernie Sanders.” I was blown away! I wrote an article a few months back about how socialism needs to be accepted instead of scorned at ever turn. I know a lot of people have a hard time accepting socialism, but why? Why is it such a bad thing that we want to take care of each other? It was this negative view, that so many people have, that prompted me to edit the article to a more neutral point of view. I didn’t have the balls to print my extreme left political aspirations, but you know who does have the balls to take that stand? Niki Ashton. Ashton has just recently announced her bid for leadership of the NDP party of Canada. In a article she admits that winning elections is not the only goal as she has a long term agenda. The article states that Ashton isn’t afraid to label herself a democratic socialist and says the NDP has to shift farther to the left. This smart young women represents progress and future for the next generation as opposed to more profits for the already filthy rich.
The world is a good place filled with amazing people. The potential is there for a future that will recognize workers as the true catalyst of a company’s success, a future that will provide for everyone and put the wellbeing of next generations far ahead of our own. Our job in our day to day lives is to keep up the fight against inequality and corruption but also to take time now and then to focus on and share the positive things in life.

Mike McKenzie

The Riley Times

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Posted in labor, labour, political, politics

A Different Way

It was a short animated clip that ended with an old man sitting on a bench, a solemn weathered look upon his face. “I’m 94 years old now, and I’m afraid my disposition is the same as it was 75 years ago. This shit’s got to go!”

The old man is Jacque Fresco, and the clip highlights his views on capitalism, greed and an alternative way of thinking that would benefit society as a whole. The “Eureka” moment came for me when Fresco talks about how the world suffered through a decade of the great depression before somehow coming up with the resources to fund one of the costliest and deadliest wars in human history. People were starving for a decade before we chose to spend billions of dollars killing each other. Why did we not spend this money taking care of one another instead? Of course there were other factors at play which included a dictator that was committing genocide against an entire ethnic group that needed to be stopped, but the point is still the same. If we had the money and resources to fight such an expensive war, why did we not have the resources to feed and take care of one another?

The answer is, we did have the the money, we just chose not to spend it in such a way.

Fast forward 80 years later and one would think that we would have come a long way. 80 years of progress and we should have learned our lesson and abandoned such archaic ways of thinking. However, the opposite seems to be true. Today the inequality is far worse than it has ever been and instead of uniting together to protect the millions of starving people in the world, we only seem to be concerned with our own prosperity.

Right now as I write this article, famine is being declared at alarming rates in many places, especially Sudan, and other African countries. We have all heard the argument that throwing money at these famines is only a temporary solution and many of us use this point as an excuse not to help. But instead of just giving up and returning to our lives of double mocha-chinos, super-sized burger combos and other glutenous habits, why don’t we find the real solution? As Fresco points out and advocates, the real problem is our global economic and political platform as a whole. There is so much abundance in this world and there is enough for everyone to be taken care of, we only need to unite together and demand this abundance is shared with everyone. If the general population was unified together as one, we could easily send a collective message to our governments that starvation and suffering will not be tolerated. We cannot wait until us, or our children are suffering before we decide to take action; by then it may be too late. We need to unite and protect each other on a global scale right now.

Like most in the world, the famines of Sudan are being caused by war. This is essentially the same as a bully in the school cafeteria stealing lunch money from the oppressed while the rest of the student body turns the other way. When compared to the massive population on this planet, it is a minuscule number of aggressors causing these problems. Their power is nothing compared to ours, if we come together as one.

Technology and social media have made the world a tiny flat place with no borders. Never has it been more possible for the amalgamation of the human race for the betterment of everyone.

It is time for the student body of earth to come together. This is the solution!



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Posted in equality

How China’s Lack of Workplace Safety is Our Problem

logoJune 17, 1958 seemed like any other day for 18 workers making their way to the construction site that would inevitably take their lives. They were busily constructing the Second Narrows Bridge connecting North Vancouver and Vancouver. A grave miscalculation by bridge engineers resulted in a collapse of several spans, which sent 79 workers an estimated 30 metres into the Burrard inlet below. In 1994, the bridge was renamed the Iron Workers Memorial to commemorate the 18 construction workers and one diver that lost their lives on that dark day of which we will never forget.

Workplace safety in Canada has come leaps and bounds in the last century. Injuries are becoming unacceptable with a newly developing safety culture that eliminates the old-school thought that sometimes “stuff happens”. Every accident is now being deemed avoidable if the proper precautions are taken. Accidents, such as the one which took place in mid June of 1958 on the Second Narrows project, are now an extremely rare event.

Unfortunately, not all who go to work in the industrial and construction world are as privileged as we are here in Canada. has reported that a scaffolding collapse in Fengcheng, China, killed 74 workers on November 24, 2016. That is well over three times the number of workers killed in the Iron Workers Memorial disaster, and yet in a country riddled with industrial accidents, it is just becoming another day in the office. In the same article, it is pointed out that in the first six months of this year 14,136 workers lost their lives in Chinese workplaces.

Here in British Columbia we sometimes think things are somewhat abysmal. Our governments are not living up to their promises, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing, unions are under attack, the economy just isn’t what it used to be and our environment is being threatened by pipelines, dams and excessive logging. We do have our issues that desperately need to be addressed, but take any one of these issues and I’m sure the people of China are experiencing it ten-fold.

We are all the same, we all bleed red, we all feel pain and we all deserve the same rights regardless of the geographical place we just happened to be born. Social media has made the world a flat and tiny place. It has made it possible for us to easily connect with one another despite living on separate continents and yet for some reason we are choosing to remain divided and distant. China needs a union voice for its workers, they need the same rights and benefits that we receive here and they need us to help them attain it.

Not only do they need these things, but we need them to have it as well. Many of the problems we face here in B.C. are relating to the expensive labour market that comes with safety regulations, a middle-class paycheck and benefits. This discrepancy between first world labour costs and third world labour costs is partially to blame for the loss of our manufacturing jobs, information technology jobs and all other jobs that used to be done here and are now being outsourced to China or India.

So, what is the solution? Some have decided to take out their aggression on foreign workers, and insist we need to take these jobs back. They blame immigration for our slow job market and continue to drive a wedge into a relationship that should be blossoming and growing strong. Corporations would love for us to continue down this road of blaming each other and competing fiercely for work; what they don’t want to see is a global amalgamation of the labour market.

We are all workers, and the solution should not be to take back from them but instead to give to them. Let’s give them a voice, give them representation, give them a safe place to work; let’s give them unionism. Helping them is not just the right thing to do socially but it is also an investment in our own way of life. Due to the continuing decimation of the middle class, I believe eventually all workers will be treated equally; and if we continue divided and competitive against one another, we will all be treated equally horrid. If we unite and stick up for each other regardless of race or demographics, then we will all, eventually, be treated both equally and fair.

At first glance it seems there is very little we can do to help this situation, however when we realize that lasting change happens from constant minute forces there are quite a few small things we can do. Aside from using social media to spread messages of love, acceptance and inclusion of all people, we can also reach out and show support for the existing labour movement in China and other developing nations. Research and find an organization you see as worthy and encourage your union local or community group to support it. We can also lobby our government to increase our standards for importing. The “Made in China” label is fine only if the workers manufacturing these items are given proper safety considerations and are being treated with fairness and dignity.

Those 74 Chinese workers who lost their lives last month were not the only victims of this accident. Each of these men were fathers, sons and husbands whose families will morn their deaths the same as we would mourn if we were in their shoes. This is not some distant event that we should be able to disconnect ourselves from, it reflects a problem that we as a human race are suffering and we as a human race need to fix. If we choose to ignore it and remain disconnected, it will be our children and grandchildren that will endure a similar fate and our children and grandchildren will have a far more domestic and far more severe problem to fix.


Posted in environment

Unions And Democracy

Why is it that we as a society (especially in Western culture) will all agree that a democracy is far better than communism or a dictatorship, but when it comes to union vs. non-union it is anything but unanimous?

Like a democracy a union gives the people a voice.

If you speak out against safety or environmental concerns in the non-union world, like a dictatorship, there is a good chance you will no longer be around.

Both unions and democracies promote fairness and equality. Non-union and dictatorships tend to have much larger income gaps between the worker and executives.

Unions go hand in hand with democracy and freedom yet still a large portion of our population have been led to believe they are evil. Let’s look at some of the misconceptions commonly brought up against unions.

Union workers are lazy

If all people from Ireland have red hair, and everyone in the Netherlands love riding bikes then I guess every Canadian lives in an igloo and all union workers are lazy. It’s just one more stereotype that has been exaggerated far too often. It is true that sometimes certain individuals take advantage of the system and get away with laziness in the union workplace but that doesn’t mean that all union workers are lazy. The other thing to consider is that the employer has the right and ability to manage these freeloaders. When a workplace is unionized, it does not mean the workers are taking over and can do whatever they like. It simply means the employer will now have to work with the union and manage in a different way. Maybe in a non-union workplace, if an employee makes a mistake costing the company money, they could be fired on the spot. In a union environment they would have to be reminded of the expectations on the first offence and progressive discipline would have to be followed before they could be fired. Unions are not taking away the companies right to manage, they are just ensuring the employees are being managed in a fair and respectful manner. Take Costco for an example. They have a reputation for paying their unionized workforce quite well and have excellent employee relations. From what I’ve seen, Costco employees are not lazy in the least. They seem well managed and pleasant to deal with. Union or non-union, when a workplace is full of lazy ungrateful people with bad attitudes, the employer has to share the blame for their lack of effective management.

Unions are fundamentally non democratic

I read this one in an article the other day and actually did “lol”. The argument is that work places that have a union, force you to become a member and pay dues just to work there. It is not a choice and even if you do not believe in union values, you still have to join the union if you want the job. First of all, I just flip this argument on its head and say the employees have democratically decided to unionize. It was not forced, it was a decision made among everyone and even if some people are not entirely happy with the union environment they go down the path of consensus, because that’s what a democracy is. This argument could easily be tried the same way with the free world. Here in Canada, we have, over many years, democratically formed our laws and regulations. This argument could say, “Well if the free world really is free, I should be able to immigrate to Canada and drive my car 180 kph through town.” No.  We have democratically decided to create law and order which, by the way, includes the right to unionize.

Unions are no longer effective

When’s the last time you heard of a union walking off the job to protect a union broster? It doesn’t really happen anymore. Almost every union contract in Canada now states that there will be no walkout, sit down, slowdown, OT ban or any other demonstration of any kind through the duration of this contract. That language really does tie our hands from acting the way unions did in the past. If a worker was being taken advantage of and the company would not make things right, production would stop and things would get worked out very quickly. But just because we can’t walk off the job to protect our rights does not mean unions are ineffective; it just means we have to adapt to a new way of operating. The new way is nowhere near as dramatic or fast as a good old “walk out” but just like how I wrote earlier about how the companies need to learn to manage their unionized workforce efficiently; unions need to learn how to exercise their rights efficiently. These rights include filing grievances, meeting with company reps to come up with solutions and taking issues to arbitration if necessary. It is a long frustrating ordeal that is most definitely not glamorous but as we have just seen with the BC teachers’ federation, if the process is taken seriously and the time and patience is put in, we can be successful.

Unions are there for the betterment of society. They are not trying to get filthy rich of the backs of someone else, or take away your rights for their benefit. There are problems with unions that need to be resolved, but when it comes right down to it, we have a choice. Are we going to support the union movement in an effort to fix these issues and benefit society as a whole, or are we going to throw in the towel, hand over our rights to the corporations and hope they will take care of us?

I choose union.

Mike McKenzie

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Posted in unionism
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