Beat 'em in the alley

The National Hockey League Players Association is filing for Union certification in Quebec and British Columbia.

It would appear that the NHL owners recent softpedalling of using scab players was a PR exercise, since the players are looking to certify in the only two jurisdictions in North America where the use of scabs is prohibited by law. The league's hand would be forced to temporarily relocate the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks to scab-friendly locales.

Either that or lobby the respective provincial governments in Quebec City and Victoria to repeal the anti-scab legislation: I'm certain that worker-hating corporate whores like Jean Charest or Gordon Campbell wouldn't be averse to legalizing scabs, especially when they can look like heroes for preserving the right of mouth-breathing Molson-inhaling troglodytes to pay for overpriced tickets to see an NHL made up of backstabbing opportunists who wouldn't make the fourth line in the East Coast Hockey League.

After 'Right to Hockey' passes, I'm sure 'Right to Work' wouldn't be that far off. Unions in Quebec and BC should keep their sticks on the ice and their heads up.


Bodily Functions and the Body Politic

Over at the Tyee, Bill Horne thinks a lot of leftist and/or labour activists are guilty of 'branding with bile'

"With traditional adversaries trying to reconcile in various parts of the world -- truth commissions, dialogue groups, peace camps for Palestinian and Israeli or Belfast Catholic and Protestant children -- the lessons are there. Can the NDP learn from these pioneers in peace making, and break out of its us-against-them rhetoric into more confident, inclusive and powerful politics?"

There are no lessons, unless the BC Liberals start shooting at people. The conflicts Horne uses as illustrations are marked by violence, but in that violence there exists a balance of power, if at the least a sense of mutually assured destruction. In BC politics, there is no balance of power: we have one party with its base among working people trying to make their lives just a little easier (the NDP), and we have one party with its base among the corporate elite who think working people are theirs to manipulate as they see fit (formerly Social Credit, now the BC Liberals).

Throw in the right-wing's mortal lock on major media outlets and the province's lack of election financing laws, and it makes as much sense for the left to extend a hand to the other side as it does to start to start stocking up on the ammunition ourselves. There's a reason the body produces bile, if it doesn't produce bile than the body becomes diseased and dies. So does the left if we mistakenly look for common ground that isn't there.

Horne's questioning effectiveness of negative rhetoric about one's opponents leaves this page somewhat puzzled, given the Liberals rode it to 77 seats in 2001 election. What, is it only good to demonize your opponents when you're pretty much assured of winning?


The Partisanship has already set sail

Over at Revolutionary Moderation, Don expresses some misgivings about partisan divisions in the 'blogosphere'. I haven't joined Blogging New Democrats, but if they asked, yeah sure.

"I don't think the Canadian blogosphere dividing itself into teams is a positive change."

I hope Don doesn't take it personally, but I always get a giggle when anybody treats polarization like something that can be prevented, like a sunburn, vapour lock, or late fees at the video store. The truth is, you either polarize or someone polarizes you: after the second time I was legislated back to work, the fourth overheard conversation about a gay-bashing, and the fifth completely motionless homeless person lying prone on East Hastings, I completely gave up on trying to see the other side of the issue. Does anyone really think that the media-powered class and culture wars that pass for Canadian society give any quarter for compromise or objectivity?

Of course, in British Columbia, it doesn't take much to be branded 'partisan' - I can't think of anywhere else where teachers are labeled as such because they send notes home to parents attached to report cards with such blatantly partisan messages as "schools are being closed and class sizes are getting larger - call your MLA". Gordon Campbell says if his Liberals are re-elected, he'll ban the BC Teachers Federation from sending out that kind of treacherous and seditious correspondence.

Sarcasm? Well, that's still a choice...
Take your white towel and....

Last night while Gordon Campbell was trying to bribe BC's public servants with their own money, the Premier received the endorsement of former Vancouver Canucks General Manager Brian Burke. As part owner of the Western Hockey League's expansion Chilliwack Bruins, it appears that Burke is now rich enough to support the B.C. Liberals: "I know what it takes to build a winning organization and I want you all to know we have a leader tonight with all those qualities."

When Burke talks about a winning organization, is he referring to the same Vancouver Canucks, who, under his tenure as General Manager, never made it past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs? The same Canucks who would roll up impressive strings of victories in the regular season, only to fall apart to the Minnesota Wilds and Calgary Flames of the hockey world when it really mattered? The Liberals love to credit themselves for the province's booming economy, only to choke every time they face off against problems in education and health care. As for "what it takes", can anyone tell the difference between Todd Bertuzzi's sucker punch on Steve Moore and Gordon Campbell's sucker punch on the Hospital Employees Union?

Nobody I know misses the stupidity and brutality of the locked-out NHL. We wouldn't miss the stupidity and brutality of the BC Liberals either.


Open-Net mugging in Campbell River

Carole James gets bullied by open-net fish farmers, and Liberal hacks masquerading as open-net fish farmers.

"The NDP wants to bring back the moratorium on open-net fish farms, and would offer tax credits for closed-containment systems. But fish farmers say they fear that would spell the end of their industry, and kill their jobs in an area where unemployment is already high. "

To recap the point of the 'demonstrators': inferior farmed salmon intermingled with wild salmon stocks devasting the gene pool to eventual extinction, good. NDP, bad.
Episode II: Attack from Happy Planet

Strolled through Vancouver-Fairview on the weekend on my way to Granville Island, and noticed a substantial volume of signage for NDP candidate/juice magnate Gregor Robertson, who's running against Liberal/Gary Collins replacement Virginia Green.

I don't know if Green's campaign has been slow off the mark, but going past the waterfront condominiums overlooking False Creek en route to Granville Island, one is left with the impression that Robertson must be smoother than the stuff he makes out of pulverized mangoes and sells for three dollars a bottle.
Keith Milosevicted in Chilliwack-Kent

Rollie Keith has stepped aside as the NDP candidate in Chilliwack-Kent, as a result of media reports surrounding his comments about former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. 2001 candidate Malcom James will be replacing Keith on the NDP ticket.

This riding was already a lock for the BC Liberals, but a number of pundits and Lewis MacKenzie have suggested that the controversy could effect collateral damage on the NDP campaign across BC. Gordon Campbell says that the apparent lapse in the candidate selection process proves the NDP isn't ready to govern. By contrast the Liberals use an extensive screening process, as illustrated by their candidate in Vancouver-Point Grey.

This page says the Rollie Keith episode could be a huge factor on May 17, particularly in the volatile swing ridings of Croatia, Serbia, Chechnya, and Russia: all of them could go either way...


Shocked and Appalled?

"Carole James is selling out the Labour Movement in British Columbia! Labour was a founding partner in the NDP, and we were the ones doing most of the fighting back against Gordon Campbell over the past four years!"

I'm hoping to hear those words, or at least similar ones, out of the mouth of a Jim Sinclair, Barry O'Neil, George Heyman, Debra McPherson, or any prominent labour leader in B.C. As it stands now, Labour is solidly behind the NDP, and unions like CUPE B.C. backed Carole James' leadership bid knowing full well she would be looking to steer the party towards the centre.

It doesn't appear that any of the leadership within the labour movement has a problem with that - a number of unions have at one time or another advocated a sit-down with the business community and the government to review the Labour Code. This position would differ from the BC Liberals, who believe BC workers shouldn't be shown to the table, they should be shown the door.

Still, if someone were to at least give the impression of some kind of betrayal, it would make the NDP's move towards the centre much more visible, and ultimately make the party that much more electable with swing voters who mistakenly shiver whenever the mainstream media raises the spectre of 'Big Labour'. The end justifies the means: a government that regards labour as a legitimate actor in BC's economy and the formulation of public policy. The other positive for Labour is that it's a subtle means to remind Carole James and the NDP about who their base is, in case they're planning to move from the centre into 'Ujjal' territory...

If you're the President of one of this province's larger unions and reading this article, why not take this opportunity and help yourself to a little outrage? Do you really want to wait for post-election consultation on automatic certification, or 12-year olds in the workplace? What's the worst that could happen, getting the NDP elected?
Worth a Thousand Words

On Saturday the logo for Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics was unveiled.

Immediate polling shows a mixed reaction to the stylized Inukshuk, but there appears to be a general consensus that it's not the worst image British Columbia could present to the world.


I'll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours

It wasn't until after enough ballots were counted in the Surrey Panorama-Ridge byelection to declare Jagrup Brar the winner, that Gordon Campbell launched into his diatribe about how "big labour" won the seat for the NDP. This time, the Premier is wasting no time in showing off his
vendetta towards the labour movement.

It's kind of sad that only a few days into the campaign, Campbell is already reduced to potshots and fear-mongering about the big, bad unions and their secret agenda. However, it's also damned funny, coming from the pinhead who brought us such articles of faith as "I don't believe in tearing up collective agreements", "I will not sell BC Rail", "No officer, I haven't been drinking" and "The NDP fudged the budget."

Does the NDP have a hidden agenda? I haven't seen one, but I sure hope it includes restoring pay equity and automatic certification if 50% of employees at a worksite sign union cards. Of course the Liberals have been more than above board about things like their plans to privatize B.C.'s public school services in the same way they privatized services at hospitals. I'm sure that was mentioned somewhere in between the aerial photography and 2010 Olympic bumph.

Meanwhile, British Columbians are waiting to see Gordon Campbell's itinerary, let alone a platform from the Liberals. For some reason, Gordon Campbell really hates people who like to serve the public, earn a decent living, and return much of what they earn to the community in the form of taxes and local spending. Projecting his issues about his longstanding problem with the truth on to Carole James only goes to prove how much Campbell is trying to hide it.

For the record, the NDP does have a hidden agenda, notice how Carole James hasn't talked openly about forming the government the way Campbell blustered about in 2001? If you play "Send Gordon Campbell a message" backwards, the message you hear is "Premier Carole James".


We Have Liftoff

I squeezed into the Italian Cultural Centre last night for the NDP's Vancouver campaign launch.

I go to a lot of blatantly partisan events: picket lines, rallies, conventions, so I tend to check my enthusiasm with the thought that everyone in the room is already a true believer. However, last night, I couldn't curb the feeling that I was actually having fun. As the 1,000 or so people filled up the hall, there were buzzing conversations, pacing, fidgeting - nervous energy, but positive energy.

Joy MacPhail introduced the Vancouver-area candidates and Carole James, which, while providing the optics of passing the torch, also provided the optics of Joy MacPhail still being around: that's a distraction for New Democrats still warming up to James, and a bone to nitpick for anyone who wants to question the "New" in New Democrat.

James was better last night than she was in Victoria last Friday - a lot more at ease and putting more emotion into her speech. I left thinking that she will get better as the campaign goes along, but still needs to show she can deliver off the cuff. Both Gordon Campbell and Adrianne Carr like the name-calling schoolyard rhetoric that generates easy soundbytes, and "Doing Politics Differently" might not be an effective response.

The Liberals had their campaign launch yesterday as well, where Gordon Campbell once again attacked the NDP as being controlled by 'big labour' and 'union hacks'. Coming from CUPE BC, That's funny, given that Judy Darcy wasn't handed a nomination and we still don't have a straight answer on pay equity. If you're scoring at home, I did a head count of union hacks last night, which totaled George Heyman and.....what the hell, me.

If anything, it was fun to be in a huge crowd and chant N!D!P! N!D!P! You'd be surprised how few and far between the opportunities to do that are....


The 'Dr' is in at the CBC

If you go to 'BC Votes' section at the CBC British Columbia site, Democratic Reform B.C. (DrBC) and their leader Tom Morino are recognized among the major parties. For Dr. BC, that's a bigger break than (Burnaby North Liberal President) Shayne Gordon's defection to the new party last week.

If Morino and Co. can string together enough glimpses from the media over the next week, and get some lobbying from the NDP and/or the Green Party, Dr. BC may have an appointment with the televised leaders debate on May 3.
Are We There Yet?

For a lot of people who live outside British Columbia, today is probably the first news that B.C. has a Provincial Election on May 17. For most people in B.C., the corners on that fixed election date were sanded down to a general understanding we'd be going to the polls sometime around the Victoria Day weekend, and now would be a good time to start paying attention.

For anyone in the labour, environmental, and anti-poverty (among others) activist communities, May 17 has been stamped on our collective forehead for almost the past four years. Some of us are tired already as a result of the drawn out pre-campaign posturing. Some of us are disheartened by a parade of polls and punditry that the best the NDP can hope for are a scattering of moral victories. Some of us are itching to start campaigning for real, bouyed by the party's resurgence since the bloodletting of 2001.

Will the NDP win this election? I've already passed judgement as to what I consider winning. Can the NDP win a majority of seats and form a government? To that question I submit a qualified Yes: The NDP is a team a few games out from winning a pennant race: they can still win, but they need to catch a few breaks: concentration of supporters in key ridings, falters in the Liberal campaign, a stunning debate performance by Carole James, to name a few. If those things happen, anything can happen.


Episode I: The Lehan Menace

Trying to determine election winners by the number of lawn and window signs their candidates have is like a big stick (or bag) of cotton candy: fluffy, unsubstantial, but a lot of fun. Throughout the campaign, I'm going to try and point out any interesting trends as to what voters are posting into the ground or mounting in their windows.

For example, a pre-writ glance in Vancouver - Point Grey along Broadway and up West 10th shows 3 signs for NDP candidate Mel Lehan to 2 for Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell. If this trend continues, Campbell is in serious trouble in his own riding.

See, isn't that totally disconnected from reality...and fun? Of course Campbell is not going to be crushed, but I don't think that the upscale empty nesters parking the Liberals' near-billboards on their front lawns get to vote more than once either.
Convention Snapshots

I'm back from the 2005 CUPE BC Convention in Victoria, where about 500 of us passed several resolutions, elected a new executive, and bid a fond farewell to outgoing Secretary Treasurer (and prospective Burnaby City councilor) Colleen Jordan.

Here are my highlights from the four days:

-The first convention appearance for Local 2010 (Whistler Municipal Workers), who appear to be the only workers in Whistler who don't get a cost of living allowance to afford to actually live where they work. Busloads of labour activists will be at Town Council Monday night to drive that point home.

-The resolution opposing BC-STV was passed, which may or may not have something to do with Dave Barrett's lambasting BC-STV at a CUPE BC Political Action Conference earlier this year.

-A noticeable split on the issue of CUPE BC supporting U.S. War Resisters in Canada. A few members stated that they signed up for a job and they couldn't just quit. Remind me not to take a school custodial position in Surrey, especially if they're using tazers on anyone's genitals.

-The Liberals unveiled their plans to privatize B.C.'s school support services at a P3 conference in Toronto a few weeks ago. A Liberal victory could mean workers in K-12 schools could become the HEU of 2006.

-Carole James delivered almost the same speech to us that she delivered to the Vancouver Board of Trade. Biggest crowd-pleasers were the pledge to stop privatization of health care and the tuition freeze. Two words a substantial portion of the delegates wanted to hear, "Pay Equity", were not heard during her speech. Note to the handlers: Moderate is fine, but not to the point of bland - when you're speaking to your base you're supposed to activate them, not the other way around.

-The closest thing I've seen to a "Less Filling - Tastes Great" debate took place on a constitutional resolution which would automatically have the Chair test delegates to close debate if four consecutive speakers spoke for/or against. The resolution failed.

-My Local passed a resolution calling for the definition of 'Age' to be removed from the Human Rights code, as some of our older members who can't afford to retire are being leaned on.

-Several plainclothes RCMP officers were drifting around the Hotel on Thursday and Friday - the rumour was Paulie Pockets was making a detour after his "pre-campaign" visit with Larry Campbell to get a little golf in.

The May 17th election dominated the proceedings, with a clear message that CUPE BC will need to stay focussed and ready for action no matter what the result is. We could get another four years of Gordon Campbell, or we could eventually end up with another NDP government that tries to please everyone and ends up pleasing no one. Either way, the CUPE BC wheel is being left to squeak.


Winning Isn't Everything. Or is it?

Carole James will be dropping by the CUPE BC Convention on Friday afternoon to gather a few standing ovations and (hopefully) outline the long-awaited NDP platform for the May 17 election. At a press conference on Monday, James said that "the NDP is running to win", despite reports from 'party insiders' that the best anyone is really hoping for is around 30 seats.

James has also said that NDP candidates or volunteers "aren't under orders" to talk about anything but winning. Jenny Kwan's pre-campaign literature includes phrases like "send Gordon Campbell's Liberals a message they can't ignore". That doesn't read like the Liberals' bombastic "A New Era for British Columbia" of four years ago.

Because I started out as a New Democrat in Alberta, I'm still a little fuzzy around this idea of 'winning' elections. In 1997, we said that we won because we got Pam Barrett and Raj Pannu into the Legislature after electing zero MLAs four years earlier. I know that in BC electing 2 MLA's in 2001 was not a 'win', but hasn't the party gathered enough success to declare a victory even though the drop of a writ is a few days away? There was every opportunity for the NDP to cash in their collective chips after 2001, but the party took a good look in the mirror and steered a moderate progressive course with the election of James. Meanwhile, Joy McPhail and Jenny Kwan turned in heroic performances in the legislature, exposing the Campbell "Liberals" as little more than Howe Street's shock troops, with no intention of steering BC towards the middle like they told voters in the 2001 campaign.

The results? Poll numbers that may not look that impressive on the surface (46 to 39 for the Liberals), but are close to the popular vote when the NDP pulled off its dramatic comeback of 1996. Even if Carole James doesn't lead New Democrats to government, there's an important victory for all British Columbians in having an official Opposition again, and there's four years for the NDP to build a cohesive caucus and allow James to build her profile as a Premier in waiting. In the long run, that may be better than rushing to feed a rebuilt and tentative governing party to CanWest Global and the Vancouver Board of Trade.

That's not to say that New Democrats shouldn't be pulling out all the stops to form a government on May 17. Gordon Campbell didn't get it when he was told to resign from a number of quarters after his drunk driving conviction, and he's not going to get it if his government gets a significant kick in the mandate either. In 1991, British Columbians looked to send a message to a polarizing and arrogant Social Credit government. That message was loud enough to inadvertently put Mike Harcourt in the Premier's Office. Carole James could end up the same way if New Democrats simply focus on delivering a credible message to voters, winning as many seats as possible and letting the arithmetic do the rest.



Among the items on the agenda for this week's CUPE BC Convention are two resolutions concerning the BC-STV referrendum. Briefly put, Resolution #90 supports STV, while Resolution #95 opposes it.

I'll be voting against #90 and in favour of #95. While the first-past-the-post system is by no means perfect, changing the electoral system won't change the electoral system in BC until there are significant changes in the overall political system, particularly implementing some serious campaign finance reform. Moving the goalposts further from the community-based organizing that labour has seen most of its political success is not a good idea.

If you're scoring at home, resolution #90 comes from Local 374, and #95 is from CUPE BC's Political Action Committee and the Executive Board. It appears that the leadership of B.C.'s largest union is well on their way to formulating a position on STV, and given NDP candidates may be relying on support from the union, it may influence their position despite the party's official position of neutrality.


Passport to Futility

Last week Homeland Security made the recommendation that all travellers (including Canadians) require a passport to enter the United States. Such a move is bound to deter tourists..er, ah...terrorists from making their way into the U.S. *

What's the rationale for chucking decades of reciprocity and unfettered access across our borders? If you believe Froma Harrop, the answer may lie to the south...further south.

"Illegal aliens depress the wages of low-skilled citizens and legal immigrants. This situation suits Bush just fine. Bush loves nothing more than cheap labor. For all we know, he may regard illegal workers as a kind of tax break for business.

So the cheap-labor crowd finds great value in keeping the immigration system broken. But there's the political problem. Because illegal immigration angers most Americans, Bush must appear to be doing something about it. "

*I stole that from Rick Mercer - I'm just not that funny.


A Bear in the Empress Hotel

Watch this space next week for updates from the 2005 CUPE BC Convention in Victoria.

Unless I can't find anywhere to post from at the hotel. Otherwise, go see what Don is up to. Regular programming here resumes April 18.


Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers!
Start screaming about Canada's activist judiciary in 5...4...3...2...

I love Vancouver: the soggy skies, the endless supply of raw fish and espresso beans, the perpetual wait for the overcrowded bus. There's many great things about this town, but the one thing I love to mention in my travels (or to any visitors here) is that there is no Wal-Mart in the City of Vancouver. Gosh knows they've tried, but they haven't been able to bully Vancouver's City Council the way they have throughout North America.

Yesterday, Wal-Mart suffered a major loss at the Supreme Court of Canada, which has the potential to blow the door wide open on the company's dirty little union-busting secrets. UFCW 1400 gets to look over such fun reading as "Wal-Mart - A Manager's Toolbox to Remaining Union-Free." Wal-Mart gets the finger from our courts and pretty much anyone with a conscience.

Wal-Mart's U.S. sales are slowing down, while rival Costco reported a higher boost in sales last month. Could it be that American consumers are catching on to the true cost of "Everyday Low Prices"? Trying to make that business up by applying the same corporate brutality won't work here. Memo to the Waltons and their shareholders: just because you see a few pickup trucks in the parking lot doesn't mean you're in Alabama.
BC Liberal Campaign Theme Song: "CHING - CHING - CHING!!"

Elections BC reports that the BC Liberals have raised over $3 million for the upcoming campaign, compared to the NDP's $900,000.

73% of Liberal donations come from corporations, with Canfor, Interfor, and Tek Cominco leading the way. Despite Gordon Campbell's delusionist diatribe that the NDP is in the pocket of 'Big Labour', Unions only make up 12% of NDP donations last year.

New Democrats want to see a ban on corporate and union donations, similar to legislation in Manitoba. If a ban was in place in BC in 2004, the donation figures would look something like:

New Democrats: $774,000
BC Liberals: $810,000

Of course, these figures will go up as May 17 approaches. In fact, one might be surprised at just how easy it is to make them go up...


Someone get Stephen Harper a calendar and map.

Yesterday's budget compromise on Kyoto provisions notwithstanding, The Conservatives have been huffing and puffing about bringing down Paul Martin's government over the details of the Gomery Inquiry. The parties have been put on alert for a spring election, and Stephen Harper hopes to grab the keys to 24 Sussex Drive.

What appears to be missing from the Conservative strategy is that in the province where the Conservatives draw about a quarter of their caucus, British Columbia, a provincial election is already scheduled for Tuesday, May 17. If the next federal election is as close as last year's, BC could emerge as the battleground province. Harper can't afford the prospect of his western shock troops trying to cement their hold over Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals while he's trying to cement a hold on the country.

The BC NDP rode a split on the right between Social Credit and the BC Liberals to a landslide victory in 1991. A concurrent federal election could have the same impact: splitting the attentions of right wingers between campaigns, and splitting the BC Liberals between its dwindling Liberal and growing Conservative factions. New Democrats could easily choose to leave the province's 5 MPs to their own devices and focus on the bigger prize in Victoria.

Of course it remains to be seen how the inquiry will play out once the publication ban is lifted, but this page isn't one to be left out when there's idle speculation going on...

UPDATE: It looks like the Conservatives are out of breath....for now.


Don't Touch That Dial!

24 Hours columnist Bill Tielman makes the case for including Democratic Reform BC Leader Tom Morino in the upcoming televised leaders debate.

B.C. is one of the few places where TV debates can swing an election. Had it not been for Gordon Wilson's performance in 1991, the BC Liberals might never have grown to the point where they looked good enough for Gordon Campbell and his pack of Socred rejects to hijack. This time around, the NDP hopes to use the proceedings to show off its "extreme makeover", as personified by leader Carole James.

However, debate producers (a closed door cabal of media executives, as opposed to a transparent, non-partisan body like the Commission on Presidential Debates) have opted once again to deny BC voters a clear view of their electoral choices. Adrienne Carr and the Green Party, who have never elected anyone, and were blown out in the Surrey-Panorama Ridge byelection, are in. Tom Morino and Democratic Reform BC, who actually have an MLA (Elayne Brenzinger, Surrey-Whalley) are out.

In Alberta's last Provincial Election, the far-right Alberta Alliance and its lone MLA were invited to the televised dance. Tielman is right to cry foul:

"TV executives met behind closed doors in late March to negotiate a deal that cut Morino out of an unprecedented multi-station leaders' debate, likely May 3. "

Mind you, how Tielman can spot the differences among, say, an Executive from Global TV, an Editorial Board Member of the Vancouver Sun, an Officer of the Vancouver Board of Trade, and a B.C. Liberal strategist is astounding - they all blurred together for many of us over a year ago. His key point, and one this page agrees with, is that cutting Morino and DRBC out is a move by the Liberals to appear unopposed on the right, while the Canwest cartel continues to perpetuate the falsehood that the Greens are a left-leaning party to siphon NDP votes. Let's go to the videotape...

"We trust business to do the right thing"
-Adrienne Carr, 2001 Leaders Debate

Wow. Better than Castro. Had me storming the barricades, I'll tell ya...

Make no mistake, this is a political machination, but like all machinations, it may yet backfire for Campbell, the Liberals, and the media that prop them up like so many senior citizens unable to find long-term care beds. Morino could successfully play the sympathy card out of his exclusion, and supplant the Greens as the anti-establishment protest vote. Carole James, if she's smarter than Ujjal Dosanjh, could, with all of BC watching, take the gloves off with the Green Party and spell out the clear differences between her and Adrienne Carr once and for all. Campbell could be forced to watch his vote-splitting Trojan Horse toppled from his debate podium.

As they say in that business, stay tuned...


Karol Wojtyla, 1920 - 2005

As reported everywhere, Pope John Paul II died at the age of 84 on Saturday.

In the days leading up to the inevitable, I noticed a significant volume of polemic directed at the Pope at discussion boards that I frequent regularly. While I've never agreed with the Catholic Church's position with...well, anything, quite a few people vented their spleens about what a distant octogenarian thought of abortion and same sex marriage. Having grew up with both the Nazi occupation and Poland's Communist dictatorship, I would like to think Karol highly valued the right of individuals to make their own moral choices. He chose the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, and the worst he could have done to anyone who disagreed with him was not let them be Catholic anymore.

The terms of debate in Western Society have shifted since Cardinal Wojtyla was elected in 1978. At that point in time, the debate was about which economic and political systems should prevail. When Pope John Paul II reached out to Catholics behind the Iron Curtain, he emphasized religion as an instrument of freedom, which inevitably led to the collapse of the Soviet Empire. In 2004, Conservative Catholics joined with Evangelical Christians last year to re-elect George W. Bush, who diminishes foreign policy to notions of "good" and "evil" and flexes political muscle to enforce "freedom" through such measures as the PATRIOT Act. The powers of the Bush Administration extend far beyond simple excommunication. There is no real no choice in the American Empire beyond the embrace of corporate globalization, and it appears that the only debate allowed is over issues which should be left at the church door.

There is one issue where Pope John Paul II and President Bush had a strong difference of opinion, which at the least points out the hypocrisy from the White House in looking to establish a "culture of life".


Showdown at Haida Gwaii

Members of the Haida Nation and allied protestors have seized over $50 million worth of logs on the Queen Charlotte Islands. Despite a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that insisted the BC Liberal government "consult more meaningfully" with First Nations over land use issues, Victoria never bothered to inform the Haida they approved Weyerhauser's sale of Queen Charlottes timber licenses to Brascan.

With a couple of weeks until the official start of the provincial election campaign, it appears the Lieberals are closing out their term by coming full circle with BC's First Nations: They started out with a racist and antagonistic treaty referendum that defied Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and now they finish by defying the Supreme Court of Canada. Add "certainty in the settlement of aboriginal land claims" to the pile of Liberal broken promises.