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January 13, 2016

2017 Election Run-Up

Section 23 of BC's Constitution Act requires general elections to be held "on the second Tuesday in May in the fourth calendar year following the general voting day for the most recently held general election". The politics of having fixed election dates moves our parliamentary system closer to the US style of perpetual election campaigns, witness the recent federal campaign that seemed as if it would never end. From a legislative point of view in BC, it means the session that will be called in February 2017 will primarily consist of posturing for the May 9th election. In 2013 only 17 Bills were introduced in the "spring" session of which three, including the important Budget Measures Implementation Act, did not pass before the premature adjournment of the session on March 14th. In addition to the charade of a spring legislative session, the fixed election date encourages government spending of tens of millions of tax dollars on what any fair person would call partisan advertising. For the 2013 election, those tax dollar paid ads began well before the end of 2012 under the pretense of promoting a jobs plan.

Coming a week after by-elections in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain but almost two weeks before the successful candidates can be sworn in, the February 9th Throne Speech can be expected to further test themes developed in the by-elections for the 2017 campaign. The 2013 Throne Speech said: "Your government has set a target of having three liquefied natural gas facilities operational by 2020." It then took BC into an election in which it promised a debt free province with roads seemingly paved with gold as government would be challenged to spend all that revenue. In February 2013, West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil was trading at just under US$100/barrel. In January 2016 it is trading at $30 and may fall lower by the time the Throne Speech is read February 9th. LNG frequently trades at prices set as a percentage (14%) of Brent crude, meaning current prices aren't sufficient to pay for the infrastructure necessary to deliver any operational LNG plants for BC by 2020. Eyes will be on how Christy Clark's government tries to pivot away from LNG and win trust for new promises over the next 16 months of pre-election posturing. The 2016 Throne Speech might give some hints about those aspirations.

The mood for political insiders will be greatly influenced by the by-elections. If the NDP wins the usually safe Liberal seat of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, it will buoy their spirits for months while the government will shrug it off saying governments frequently lose by-elections. If the Liberals win in Burke Mountain they will take it as confirmation of the path they have followed since 2013. Voters may not pay attention until May 1, 2017, but for political junkies the 2017 election campaign starting bell has sounded.

December 19, 2015

Demodex - Eye Spiders

Dr. Etty Bitton, OD, MSc
Associate Professor,
Director Université de Montréal,
Dry Eye Clinic

I am sending this note because I discovered your December 7, 2015, editorial when I was searching for a comparison of the effectiveness of Cliradex® and I-lid’n Lash PLUS (I-med pharma). I noted that you mentioned studies on products other than Cliradex have yet to be published, but when I search PubMed I can't find any evaluations of Cliradex or terpinen-4-ol other than articles that say it may be promising. Solid research, Gao et al, shows tea tree oil is a promising acaricide when applied at a 50% solution. I can't find anything that indicates the relative strength of terpinen-4-ol in Cliradex and I can't find anything that shows 5% tea tree oil eyelid scrubs eradicate Demodex in the absence of at least two treatments with 50% tea tree oil. I would appreciate your help in pointing me to any research I might have missed as I am desperate to relieve my dry eye syndrome.

I notice that your editorial referred to statistics I've seen quoted elsewhere on the prevalence of Demodex by age. One reason for sending this note is to draw your attention to the research on the prevalence of Demodex when measured by testing for its DNA. Please see Thoemmes et al, If they are correct, 100% of adults are host to Demodex. That also means testing for Demodex by microscopic examination is unreliable and likely a waste of time. I would appreciate receiving your comments on their observations regarding the ubiquity of Demodex and what that implies for treating Meibombian Gland Dysfunction.

I am 68, a retired economist and politician. I was diagnosed with glaucoma three years ago and a year ago I started showing symptoms of dry eye. I am continually reviewing the literature looking for treatments that might relieve my symptoms. I share the best of my review with my ophthalmologist, Dr. Aron Goldberg.

In the past three months my dry eye has become so severe that my daily activities are limited and it is almost impossible for me to go out at night. In November I received LipiFlow treatment with no significant improvement. Last week I received temporary punctal occlusion and have yet to notice any significant benefits. I am using the i-med lubricating eye drops for my dry eye in addition Travoprost and preservative free Timolol for my glaucoma. I seem to be running out of treatment options. I continue to follow the research in the hope that some breakthrough will help those who like me suffer a substantial deterioration in the quality of life due to dry eye, and likely due to our little mite friend, Demodex.

I hope that articles like yours will help to stimulate further research as I’m concerned an industry in treating a chronic progressive condition is beginning to flourish when we need solid evidence based research on effective treatments.

David D. Schreck, Ph.D.

cc: Dr. Aron Goldberg,
North Shore Eye Associates

ps: A copy of this is posted to my website with links to your editorial and to other references in this note.