Just in Time for the Holidays:

Is Gordon Campbell going to Hawaii this year? Philip Roth's 'The Plot Against America' looks like a good book. Paul Martin actually said in a year end interview that Canada wasn't putting money or launching sites towards BMD. Ever notice how the people opposed to same sex marriage come from towns where nobody would want one? I sent most of my friends Chinese tea sets for Xmas. Vodka and Cranberry Juice is a welcome change from rum and eggnog. Repositioning Cruises are a good deal. Which makes more sense, the Bowl Championship Series or the Electoral College? Prediction for 2005: Ukraine will have a President before Washington State has a Governor. A shrimp ring would be really good right about now. I can't say I miss the NHL as much as I miss baseball. It seems to be a lot easier to get a cold in Vancouver since the germs don't freeze. Given the five heart attacks between my two parents, I'm surprised I was approved for life insurance this week. I should go skating. Some of the music in the stores is really depressing, they should hand out zoloft instead of candy canes. I wonder if Ralph Klein still drinks. People who get uptight about people saying 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas' need to find a good jigsaw puzzle or something. Laura Prepon is starting to look good with blonde hair. Being one of the last people at work before the holidays would be fine if they didn't turn the heat off.



When we last left our 'heroes' at the Ministry of Health, Bill 29 had been passed, Hospital Employees Union members in food services and caretaking had received their pink slips, and a nasty labour dispute which almost became a General Strike was put down thanks to the BC Liberal's threat of a snap election. The new help was kept in their places thanks to the syncophantic Industrial Woodworking and Allied (IWA) Workers Union, who blacklisted former HEU members and forced new staff to sign IWA cards without so much as a sniff of a collective agreement.

In today's episode, Colin Hansen, Gordon Campbell, and the Health Authourities learn that some enemies are a little too hard to kill... :)


Fear of a Happy Planet?

Juice King Gregor Robertson wins the NDP nomination in Vancouver Fairview over former CUPE President Judy Darcy. Realpolitik says that New Democrats made the right choice for a challenger to Finance Minister/Rat B*st*rd Gary Collins. I live in the adjacent Mount Pleasant riding, and it's easy to tell where Fairview begins by the three solid blocks of adult toy stores, i.e. places like Mountain Equipment Co-op and Visions Electronics - the Adult Toy Stores you're thinking of are in Vancouver-Burrard.

Darcy has pledged to campaign for Robertson, and so has Vanessa Violini, who jumps to the NDP after being a major player in the BC Green Party. The Liberals, the Greens, and the Asperatti will have a field day trying to fabricate a split between the "old" and "new" wings of the NDP, but the truth is, there's less than six degrees of separation between the two of them. As CUPE President, Darcy was a strong advocate for the Union helping to establish the Working Opportunities Fund. Among other socially responsible companies, Robertson's Happy Planet Juice Company benefitted from investments in the Working Opportunities Fund.

Happy Planet products should soon be flying off the shelves, either by being snapped up by enthusiastic and thirsty New Democrats, or by Liberal suck up retailers (I'm talking to you, Save-On-Foods) pulling them from their shelves.


No Sudden Moves...

There are thousands of Democrats, liberals, progressives, and Americans who just hate Bush openly contemplating emigrating to Canada across the internet (Google 'moving to Canada' and 'Bush'). If any of you have come across this blog, I have this advice: unless you have other reasons you'd like to reside in this country besides the lack of Republican Presidents, stay where you are.

Canadians who have had the experience of living in the province of Alberta over the past decade know what it's like to be under the thumb of an alcoholic cowboy demagogue, one Ralph Klein. Klein's track record as a Premier amounts to demolishing public health care and education, and picking fights with other jurisdictions, and sucking up to corporations: seem familar? The Ralph Klein experience can be summed up by his visit to an Edmonton homeless shelter in the winter of 2003, when, after an evening of heavy drinking, threw tens and twenties on the floor and barked at the shelter residents to get a job.

In 2000, I decided to relocate to Vancouver, where British Columbia had a centre-left New Democratic (not as in the DLC 'new' Democrats) Party government which did things like provide affordable child care while balancing the provincial budget. Although the NDP had worn out its welcome, thanks largely due to some ill-conceived ferry building projects, the opposition B.C. "Liberal" Party ran against them on a moderate platform designed not to antagonize the public. Liberal leader (and former Vancouver mayor) Gordon Campbell, wanted to be "a uniter, not a divider" too.

This script seems familiar too? Of course it does! Campbell and the Liberals' first act when they were sworn into office in June of 2001 was the give the wealthiest British Columbians a 25% tax cut, which was paid for by the mass privatization of public services (including health care), gutting of B.C.'s environmental regulations, and a rewriting of the province's labour code which raised eyebrows at the International Labour Organization. Like Bush, Campbell flat out refuses to back down on anything, including his refusal to resign after a drunk conviction while on vacation in Hawaii, or the ongoing police investigation into money laundering out of the Legislature in Victoria.

The moral of the story is: why move to Canada to put up with Bush wannabes when you have the man himself to entertain you? Besides, at least Bush has a two-term limit.


Blue State Blues
After some fun and games with the exit polls, the numbers are in, and it's Bush. However, at 7:04 AM PST, I still project that the sun will come up.

Any analysis I can offer is flawed, woefully subjective, and gleaned from Amtrak stations, the bleachers at Safeco Field, and my brother in law's family in Minnesota. Although I once sat next to a company picnic from Fox News in Section 382, I don't know anyone who actually watches Fox News. However, like everyone else clicking away in disappointment at this moment, I'll throw out my wild guesses, which you've probably heard on CNN at least 45 times in the past five hours:

-Some people outside the U.S. think the zeitgeist about 9/11 has been overblown, but back in 1986, I had friends next in line to ride the Mindbender roller coaster at West Edmonton Mall just before it crashed and killed six people. I'm well aware of all the safety improvements that have been made to roller coasters, and I was nowhere near the thing when it crashed, but damn it, I'm still not getting on one. There are things that some people just can't get over, and while Bush might be evil incarnate, he's still the devil these people know.

-How many times did you hear "John Kerry may not be perfect, but he's the best hope the Democrats have?" If such was the case, why did Kerry begin the primaries way behind Howard Dean, and finish them barely fighting off John Edwards? Yes, Kerry handed Bush his ass and whatever was bulging from the back of his blazer during the debates, but voters never caught any real idea of how things would be different under his administration: send MORE troops to Iraq? Give everyone the same health plan as members of the House and Senate? These were a couple of proposals that upon careful review, were costable and made perfect sense. However, on the surface, they come off as nutty as Howard Dean did when he was screaming his concession speech after the New Hampshire primary. However, the "Dean Scream" can be attributed to being undermic'd in the hall and overmic'd on TV - does Kerry have a similar excuse for his failure to communicate?

-Contrary to what you may have heard a few months ago, Ronald Reagan is not dead. I hold up as evidence the millions of Americans who blame themselves rather than their government and corporate leaders for their unemployment and struggling economy, and move on to dividing up the country on moral and social issues. The best GOTV drives the Republicans had yesterday were the initiatives in 11 battleground states to ban gay marriage, which is odd, considering that the homophobes who flooded these suburban or rural precincts are more than likely situated miles away from the nearest gay or lesbian person. "They're coming for our children" pretty much equates to "Iraq had weapons of mass destruction". Karl Rove was able to reach further into the Republicans' fundamentalist base because the U.N. has yet to investigate the lack of bathhouses in suburban and rural Ohio.

I could go on, since everybody else is, but I'll take a moment to look ahead to the next four years: Americans have made a conscious decision to put their future on hold, and hang on to the post 9/11 era a little longer. When 2008 rolls around, the U.S. may find that the European Union, China, India, and perhaps even Brazil are catching up or passing them. Bush's unilateralism refuted Kerry's multilateralism this time around, in 2008 multilateralism might be the only choice.

While I'm at it, take a moment to think about what people had at stake in these results. There are a lot of people in America who view the Bush victory with despair and fear for their future, especially if they or their children are around the age where they could be shipped to Iraq in a uniform, then shipped home in bodybag. If you know any of these people, drop them a line to say hi, and remind them of their freedom as Americans to travel....for a long time....


Look at those numbers? What do all those numbers mean?

Early exit polls in the swing states as of 12:51 PST show Kerry mostly ahead:

Florida: Kerry 50, Bush 49
Ohio: Kerry 50, Bush 49
Pennsylvania: Kerry 54, Bush 45
Wisconsin: Kerry 51, Bush 46
Michigan: Kerry 51, Bush 47
Minnesota: Kerry 58, Bush 40
Nevada: Kerry 48, Bush 50
New Mexico: Kerry 50 Bush 48
North Carolina: Kerry 49 Bush 51
Colorado: Kerry 46 Bush 53

As for sample size, margin of error, your mileage will vary. To recap: Bush is walking away with homophobes, high rollers, and NASCAR fans.


Ohio Courts Slap GOP

Republican party 'challengers' won't be allowed to confront voters at polling stations in one of the most volitile states going into tomorrow's election. Good idea - The last thing voters need before heading to the polls is to switch on CNN or Fox News and see people shoving and throwing punches.

Update (11.02.04): Republicans get a reprieve at the Supreme Court: Let the Buckeye State mayhem begin...



After every indication that it would be close, the Surrey-Panorama Bridge byelection turns out to be a b*tchslap to Campbell and Co. by Jagrup Brar and the NDP.

A 54% margin of victory, despite the Liberals softpedalling a potential defeat, (check the discussion thread that follows for some rough stuff with a potential Green candidate) is huge given that this riding was redistributed in 1999 to give it some very swing demographics. It didn't take long after the Liberal candidate, book-burning homophobe Mary Polak, went down in flames for Gordo to come out swinging against "Big Labour" and the riding's sizeable Indo-Canadian community.

The moral of the story is: a government can buy a six point lead in the polls with an avalanche of TV ads, but eventually people change the channel. It's pretty much a given that this morning for the Liberals, Surrey-Panorama Ridge is anything but "The Best Place on Earth"(tm).



When you ignore intelligence about major terrorist attacks, then turn around and blow one of their agents cover, sooner or later, the bureau's going to look for a little payback. Unfortunately, for Bush/Cheney, the FBI decided to cash in four days before the election.



Jenny Kwan's refusal to acede to third reading of the Safe Streets Act was referred to as a 'ruckus' by the Vancouver Sun. The media has been quick to harp on the extra $30,000 to keep the legislature open another day to pass Martial Law, but in attacking my MLA, they missed a far bigger cost to the public:

From Hansard, October 25, 2004

Jenny Kwan (Vancouver Mount Pleasant - NDP): Does this bill ban anyone from asking for change at a phone booth, for example, or at a bus stop or a parkade? I myself have done it when I'm faced with a situation where I don't have the appropriate change to stick into the machines. Does this act actually create an offence in those situations?

Hon. Geoff Plant (Attorney General - Liberal): If you are within five metres of the ATM, the pay phone, the public toilet facility or the bus stop, yes.



The Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform recommends the Single Transferrable Vote as the preferred model for British Columbia's Electoral System.

Normally, I can pretty much agree with anything that makes Adrienne Carr's head explode. However, this result, contrary to what the Assembly believes, does not reduce the influence of political parties in the electoral system, it in fact, increases that influence. Electing multiple MLAs in expanded superconstituencies has the look and feel of the at-large system that voters in the City of Vancouver have suffered with for decades (see October 18 post).

Carole James wants to see the details of the model to be presented in the May 17 referrendum before jumping to any conclusions. The one conclusion the NDP should jump to before Thursday's Surrey-Panorama Ridge byelection is that Carr and the Greens have been handed a wedge issue to rob the NDP of the angry vote which has swung every byelection in BC since 1981.

The Assembly was established by the Liberals to be at arms length from the Government. For those of you scoring at home, so were the Regional Health Authourities, and BC Ferry Services. The Liberals' arms were long enough that as the Assembly was well enough into its deliberations that the Stockholm Syndrome was kicking in, Campbell sent the STV advocates in to blow enough sunshine up the Assembly's collective rear and have them "really" make a difference.

How one makes a difference by recommending a model which has little to no chance of garnering 60% of the vote in 60% of 79 ridings is beyond me. Unless of course, the difference you're trying to make is to suppress meaningful electoral reform for a generation AND split the vote next May by introducing a wedge issue, then congratulations, you've really made a difference.


Vancouver Wards Off Progress

Congratulations to the "Non-Partisan" Association, their Real Estate Developer sugar daddies, the West Side old money reactionaries, the perpetually opportunistic posturing Greens and anyone else who refers to the raw sewage leaking from the Vancouver Sun's editorial pages as ice cream, for your stunning victory in Saturday's referrendum on a Ward System for the City of Vancouver.This result pretty much confirms for the rest of the country our city's reputation as Canada's undisputed leader in f**ked up local politics.

Here's a sampler of the arguments that the 52% of voters bought from the "No" side, including translations for non-Vancouverites.

1. A ward system will result in NIMBYism.
translation: If we drop the at-large system, we can't shove every homeless shelter and rehab centre into the Downtown Eastside anymore.

2. The proposed ward system does not include proportional representation.
translation: Let's string the Greens along to reject wards, as if there's any way we're screwing with a system that's kept Kitsilano and Point Grey in the driver's seat for 70 years.

3. Equity seeking groups like people with disabilities won't be able to run for City Council under the ward system.
translation: People the NPA can't filter out through corporate vetting of candidates, stacked nomination meetings, and skyrocketing campaign costs would be able to run for City Council under the ward system.

4. A ward system is the first step towards a Vancouver mega-city.
translation: until Vancouver's Coaltion Of Progressive Electors and the Burnaby Citizen's Association are crushed under our bootheels, and those of our right-thinking bretheren in Surrey and Richmond, we simply just can't have that.

It's not like the 'Yes' side did themselves any favours either. Every other previous vote on wards passed, largely because of COPE's aggressive campaigning against the NPA's long standing hegemony on council. Funny thing was, COPE swept municipal elections in 2002, and it's hard to stick it to the man when you're the man. Mind you, if there's one thing the left in British Columbia should have learned from Gordon Campbell, it's the value of kicking your opponents when they're down.


The Obligatory Post about The Presidential Debates

George W. Bush must be proud of the fact he's the first from his family to be President, and given his opponent's momentum, should enjoy it while it lasts.

No, Mr. President, I'm not missing anything or hallucinating, it's just that the past two weeks clearly illustrated that John Kerry is your Daddy!

When historians look back at the 2004 election, the pivotal moment that will generate most of the discussion will be that night in St. Louis when the President swaggered out of his chair toward the camera, thrust out his pelvis a little and exhorted "Need some wood"?


No More Extra Innings

The Montreal Expos play their final home game of the season tonight vs. the Florida Marlins, and probably, the final home game in the franchise's 35 year history, as MLB is poised to announce their imminent relocation to Washington, DC. I find the Canadian sports medias hand-wringing and mock sentiment for the days of Rusty Staub, Tim Raines, Gary Carter, et al somewhat bemusing, given that their games have been relegated to the back pages of the sports section and upper register of the cable TV dial for quite a few seasons now.

I'm somewhat sad to see the Expos go - my father, who played briefly in the New York Giants organization, was a big Expos fan, despite his incessant francophobia and my Mom's allegiance to the Toronto Blue Jays. He taught me a lot about the game, and that's one of the few things about him that's stuck with me since he died 14 years ago. The Expos began their slow descent to oblivion shortly after that, when the Bronfmans sold the team a year later.

That's pretty much where any of my sentiment about the Expos ends - MLB has made the right choice in choosing Washington. The handful of remaining diehard Expos fans may disagree, and as a fan of a team that faced relocation (the Seattle Mariners) on a number of occasions I can sympathize. However, what kept baseball in Seattle was a perfect storm of a winning team, a new ballpark, and a superheated local economy in between.

As for the other contenders for the Expos, I had my doubts about all of them. America's suburbs belong to people who renounce the sense of community a baseball team can bring, which is why I'm happy Northern Viriginia is on the outside looking in. San Juan was a logistical nightmare for the 'home' games the Expos played there, making little sense to make the rest of baseball travel there repeatedly: there's a reason why the Pacific Coast League isn't in Edmonton and Honalulu anymore. If baseball still can't agree about what to do about Pete Rose, how could they consider putting the Expos in Las Vegas? As for Portland, who's bright idea was it to collectively hold their breaths 'til they turn blue, shun the AAA Beavers and expect the Expos to drop into their laps?

Meanwhile, back in Montreal, Olympic Stadium is left with a few trade shows and the occasional Alouettes playoff game. I sense an implosion...



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