End of the Line

Due to a severe personal setback, this page will be closed indefinitely.

Thank you for your attention and comments.

If there is one thought I can leave you with, it's better to bite the hand feeding you than have it repeatedly punch you in the face.


Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Nova Scotia's Health Ministry has announced a proposed ban on smoking in all public indoor places in that province by the end of next year.

British Columbia had a similar ban in 1999 as a WCB regulation, which worked fine because it was simple and applied to everyone. Nobody got to smoke, so no one got to take advantage by offering smoking (or not) at their establishments. Misplaced bitching from the hospitality industry (like the bar owners in the North Peace who proposed separating and joining Alberta) saw the ban repealed by the Campbell Liberals and replaced with a complex set of regulations which involved setting aside 30% of the premises for smoking, ensuring that workers spent no more than 10% of their shift in the smoking area, requirements for new ventilation equipment, and varying applicability depending on whether or not municipalities already had smoking legistlation in place.

For Liberal supporters, who are overwhelmingly vocal advocates of smaller government, this came as a little suprising. The Liberals went as far as forming a Task Force in 2001, chaired by (soon to be outgoing) Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt. The task force met with a number of bar and restaurant owners who wanted smoking, but hung up on the British Columbia Lung Association, whom Mayencourt referred to as "a special interest group".

Between Vancouver securing the 2010 Winter Olympics and the recent provincial election, Gordon Campbell has tried to portray his government as champions of nutrition and physical fitness. We British Columbians can eat our vegetables, but if some of us still have to put up with a side order of second-hand carcinogens whenever we go out to eat, it's not like anyone should really believe the Liberals pledge to make us healthier.


The Highlight Reel

A few thoughts from yesterday's election:

-Being the first Premier to lead back-to-back majorities, despite the media fanfare, isn't that impressive when you have a 74 seat head start, and you lose 8 cabinet ministers.

-A major reason for the NDP's resurgence was the support of the labour movement. While Carole James wants to change the party's relationship with unions, any attempt to end that relationship at the fall convention could knock the party off its upward trajectory.

-Adrienne Carr's 15 minutes of fame are over. By the standards set by the organizers of this year's Leaders Debate, the Greens' 9.1% of the popular vote would have had Carr fuming out the studio with Tom Morino.

-For Daniel Igali's sake, he should be happy he's not joining the Liberal caucus: Olympic champions make for really awful mascots.

-Random shadow cabinet positions: Jenny Kwan - opposition House Leader, Leonard Krog - Finance Critic, David Chudnovsky - Education Critic, Gregor Robertson - Environment Critic. I know the Liberals don't call it the 'Environment' Ministry, but watch for that title just out of spite.

-Fearing that his ass was about to be handed to him by Tim Stevenson in Burrard, Lorne Mayencourt apparently chased Stevenson for three blocks and tried to make a Citizen's Arrest. If Mayencourt survives the recount and delivers the most populated riding in the province to Gordon Campbell, Campbell may have to sacrifice a big chunk of the Liberals new "Don't worry, be happy" facade by giving this vindictive little man-bitch puke a seat at the cabinet table.

-Carole Taylor, Mary Polak. Mary Polak, Carole Taylor - how about the two of you get acquainted? Mary was just saying the most interesting thing about school textbooks...


Show The Cards

Prediction time: Carole James led a solid campaign to regain the NDP's traditional base, and was the class of the Leaders Debate two weeks ago. The Liberals ran a relatively mistake-free campaign and were well insulated from scrutiny by the major media outlets, who downplayed scandals like illegal donations from chartities and municipalites. The Green Party, no longer able to siphon NDP votes, is starting to find a base of its own.

When the dust settles tonight the picture should look something like:

BC Liberals 45
New Democrats 32
Green Party (Adrianne Carr) 1
Independent (Paul Nettleton) 1

I'm calling a second #@$! Liberal majority - is that ever partisan or what....

As for the STV Referrendum: 48% Yes, 52% No.


Don't Poke The Bear

Elections BC says that 'partisan' blogs are advertising and bloggers must be registered.

For those of you scoring at home, this page was already registered with Elections BC, as a resident of British Columbia, a Canadian Citizen, and subject to that little known document known as The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

David Schreck and a horde of BC bloggers are making this similar point: blogging isn't advertising. People have the right to their opinions, whether or not they're spilled over a $4.00 latte or in a 10 point arial font over a little bandwidth.

Meanwhile, The Province (a division of perennial right-wing cheerleaders, CanWest Global) can run a full page editorial urging votes for the Liberals. The Globe and Mail (a division of 2010 Olympic synchophants Bell Globemedia) can commission an unethical push poll to swing a little momentum towards Gordon Campbell. It's the micro-media outlets which make up the local blogosphere get The Man breathing down our collective necks.

This move furthers the debate as to what constitutes "partisan". If you've visited here before, you know that this isn't journalism, it's sportswriting: you know which team I'm rooting for, but you also know I'm going to let you know where I think the team is coming up a little short (like spending the last weekend of the campaign in the Okanagan and up North rather than in the Lower Mainland).

If Elections BC wants to come after this page for its perspective, I say, bring it, beeyatch: Right after you come up with the money to investigate how the Liberals are getting theirs from municipalities and charities.


The Reset

Having spent the better part of last week where the media is required to say "Governor Schwarzenegger" with a straight face, I've been bringing myself up to speed on the election. Either I've missed something or:

-The Liberals have given up running against the New Democrats. Instead they're picking a fight with "The Glen Clark Gang", which is kind of funny coming from the Bill Vander Zalm Gang. I caught a TV spot where they claimed NDP stood for something other than New Democratic Party...Nasty Decrepit Perverts or something...

-Campbell's Cabal have bolted to a commanding, insurmountable, throw in the towel, lie on the floor wailing and gnashing teeth lead, going from a five point lead in the Mustel poll to eight points (where they've been for the entire campaign) at the end of last week with Ispos-Reid. Somewhere in the writing of victory speeches (or defence briefs for the Basi trial), a margin of error in the 3.5 to 4% range is missing.

-Is it just me, or is the NDP running more TV spots than the Liberals? It's not like the BC Fed or any of the major unions (who are running issue - specific campaigns) are cutting any cheques, which leads me to believe somebody in the party has successfully mastered EMPTY YOUR WALLETS FOR CAROLE NOW subliminal messaging.

-The Liberals are still chewing on the BCTF, making wild claims about an impending teachers strike, which is also funny, given they were legislated as an essential service whose job action is subject to the BC Labour Relations Board. LRB ruled for binding arbitration in the last dispute with teachers, to which the Liberals simply legislated a collective agreement, just like they did with HEU and Crown Prosecutors, all of whom are headed to the courts. Well, the Liberals did promise transparency and accountability, who knew they'd be relying on a judge (who isn't Wally Opal) to deliver it?

On another note, I had mentioned in a previous post having May 17 tattooed on my forehead for the past three or so years - I had that removed yesterday at the advance poll.


When the going gets tough...

This page will have no new posts this week, as I'll be out the country this week. Back on Saturday to obsess over the election.


Campbell's Index

The BC Liberals by the numbers:

25 per cent tax cut enjoyed by wealthy elites
50 per cent increase in MSP Premiums
100 per cent increase in college and university tuition fees
7.5 per cent sales tax for three years
5,000 long-term care beds never delivered
2 NDP MLAs denied Official Opposition status
300 fewer nurses
8,000 health care workers fired
6 dollars an hour minimum wage
0.149 Gordon Campbell’s blood alcohol limit on January 9, 2003
113 schools closed
2112 homeless people in Vancouver in March, 2005
2.3 million dollars in fines returned to fish farms that broke environmental laws
13,000 dollars received by the BC Liberals from charities
9 search warrants executed in Victoria on December 28, 2003
70 million dollars cut from the Ministry of Children and Family Development
900 year lease granted to CN for BC Rail
2.6 average per cent GDP for most of their four years in power*,

3.1 average per cent GDP while the NDP was in power**
1600 CUPE 2950 members legislated back to work in 2003
0 BC Liberal candidates appearing at candidates forums
2.19 million dollars in corporate donations
2 married senior citizens forced to live apart because of cuts to long-term care

11 days until the polls open


**Premier’s Fiscal Review Panel


What Would Jenny Do?

I am at a loss to explain Jenny Kwan and Gabriel Yu's participation in the anti-Japan rally in Vancouver yesterday. It was my belief, up until I saw the two of them in a 24 Hours photo from the protest march, that New Democrats left pandering to ethnic communities to the BC Liberals, whether or not we came from those communities. I thought as New Democrats, we were class warriors who focused on changing the injustices in our world that we could change, not finger-pointing at someone because we think they haven't apologized enough.

Make no mistake, the occupation and the Rape of Nanking are atrocities. So is Japan being attacked with nuclear weapons.

So is Tianmen Square, and I don't think anyone can reasonably deny that the Butchers of Beijing are exploiting the justified grievances of the Chinese people to distract them from the cruel strain of Social Darwinism and totalitarianism that makes up modern China. The only reason anti-Japan protests have become a concern to them is the possibility they may be harnessed by dissidents to turn them against Beijing instead of Tokyo. Re-establishing Japan as the 'bad guy' in the Far East also makes it that much easier for the PRC to pursue its less than benevolent foreign policies, like threatening Taiwan and occupying Tibet.

Jenny Kwan was born in China, and I can certainly understand her deep personal motivation to attend the demonstration yesterday. My family arrived in Canada from the Ukraine as a result of Russia's occupation and systematic famine under Stalin. However, unlike China, Ukraine has fought for and won democracy, and in a democracy, those elected represent all the voters.

In her riding of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, that would include the people who live in and around Powell Street, home to the largest Japanese Cultural celebration in British Columbia. Many of them remember being forcibly removed from their homes in Vancouver around the same time the Emporer they had turned their backs on was assaulting China. Those people had to be warned by Vancouver Police to stay off the street yesterday.

I will still be voting for Jenny Kwan on May 17, but I implore her to ask herself what yesterday's demonstration was really about, and if she could have done something with her time yesterday that would have encouraged others to vote for her, rather than alienating some of them.


The Post-Game Show

The Leaders Debate was better than this page expected, largely due to a change in format from 2001 that allowed Gordon Campbell, Adrianne Carr, and Carole James to go directly after each other. James took this opportunity to keep moving and stay on the attack, easily the best strategy for the newest combatant. From long-term care beds to BC Rail, James asked more questions than the media panel, and had the debate been longer than 60 minutes, probably wouldn't have quit until she had beaten a confession out of the Premier. The more Campbell becomes the issue, the more the NDP has a chance of removing Campbell.

Campbell was defensive throughout the debate, if not dismissive of the points raised by James and Adrianne Carr. As the subject areas for questions were submitted to the leaders a week prior to the debate, the Premier lucked out in that he wouldn't have to address any fundraising issues. "We made choices" didn't resonate as Campbell failed to explain why the Liberals made those choices. Afraid the 'send a message' vote might spill over into a 'throw the bums out' vote, Campbell sternly reminded the audience that 'you're not electing an opposition, you're electing a government'.

Adrianne Carr 2005 is an upgrade from Adrianne Carr 2001, but this page is waiting for the next version to take her seriously. At one point she came across as a bigger labour supporter than James for recounting her time on HEU's picket line, then turned around a few minutes later to describe the labour movement as a "vested interest" in the NDP. Carr asked BC voters to "elect Green MLAs", which looks like a retreat from trying to seize Official Oppostion status four years ago.

The questions from the media panel gave the leaders enough to work with, give or take some intellectual dishonesty from Global TV's Keith Baldry. Baldry cited health care as a percentage of the provincial budget increasing from 33% to 44% as evidence of health spending rising out of control. That doesn't wash unless the rest of budget is taken into account: if you spend less on everything else (education, environment, social services...), the health care portion auotmatically becomes larger by default. While it was good to see panelists from Fairchild Broadcasting and Channel M, this page believes equity may have been better served if one the panelists had come from BC's Indo-Canadian Community, which may have significant influence on the May 17 outcome.

Various spin is taking place right now, which started even before the debate started. Yesterday afternoon I received a call from NDP HQ inviting me to a 'Debate Victory' breakfast in Burnaby this morning. Given that just last fall we saw John Kerry out-debate George Bush only to be buried by an avalanche of negative TV ads in swing states, some of us would prefer to hold the pancakes of triumph until May 18.


Halftime Highlights

Two weeks into the campaign, two weeks to go, and tomorrow night's Leaders Debate in the middle. So far, the campaign looks like a draw: The Ispos-Reid numbers from last week mirror those at the drop of the writ on April 19. The NDP (39%) has gained negligible ground, but the Liberals (46%) haven't pulled away either. With 38% of Green (13%) voters admitting they could switch their vote on May 17, the swing ridings remain to close to call.

The NDP has benefited from the allegations of municipal officials being hoodwinked to donate to the Liberals. The Liberals are countering by accusing the NDP of getting free campaign signs from the BCGEU. These situations don't equate: The receipts that showed up at Town Hall in Kitimat and Fort St. John read "BC Liberal Party", where do the BCGEU campaign signs say 'New Democrats?' "Vote for Change" could mean the Green Party, Democratic Reform, Marijuana, Work Less: add 'change' to what the right wing considers "partisan" speech.

Tomorrow night, Gordon Campbell, Carole James, and Adrianne Carr will take to the airwaves in a stage-managed debate. I don't think the format will allow for the knockout blow that will push someone to victory, but it will provide the opportunity for James to provide a positive first impression to a significant portions of voters who have heard about her, but haven't heard her directly.