Greatest Hits: Disc Two

The rest of a look back at 2005.

On the Telus lockout, September 6:

"Given that Telus is looking for the right to fire and contract out anyone and everyone without cause or notice and bypass any notion of negotiation, mediation, or arbitration to get their way, the retail value of McCarthur's claim can easily be calculated by placing one's index finger to one's thumb and applying substantial pressure. "

On Hurricane Katrina, September 7:

"I would like to announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States (pause for emphasis)...My platform is simple - I will run on the pledge to not go on vacation during the month of August. "

On Carole Taylor's new shoes, September 14:

"While the syncophanterati were getting their foot fetish on, Taylor was heard to pun "This budget's got sole!" Tee hee. Of course this comes from a woman who in her CBC days thought the Royal Air Canadian Air Face was funny....Oh...and hardballing the Canadian Media Guild. She thought that was funny too."

On Emergency Preparedness and Government Priorities, September 22:

"Tax cuts and higher dividends on our mutual funds are not going to protect us from disaster, and the invisible hand of the markets won't be pulling me out from under what's left of my condo."

On the installation of Michaele Jean as Governor-General, September 27:

"The ceremony itself, which was big on touchy-feelyisms and folksingers wandering the Senate aisles, reminded me of those weddings where the couple writes their own vows, and the best man gets a phone call at 3:00 AM before the ceremony asking "Dude, what rhymes with radiant?""

On parent opposition to the BC Teachers Strike, October 24:

"To those parents who bitched and moaned like their kids were the only ones being inconvenienced, especially the ones who lined up to get on camera so they could parrot the Lieberal bullsh*t about "respecting the law" and "setting a good example", here's a news flash: Even before last week's settlement, the average teacher in BC probably made enough money to purchase a television, and more than likely caught your bitchy little act at 6:00 or 11:00. When the next parent-teacher interviews roll around, here's hoping a waste of skin like you gets exactly what you deserve."

On the possibility of a holiday election, November 14:

"If tens of thousands of Ukrainians could camp outside in downtown Kiev in December to achieve a democratic result, then flipping channels between the Leaders Debate and 'It's a Wonderful Life' isn't asking for much."

On Sam Sullivan and the NPA, November 17:

"Sullivan's campaign has appealed to no-one but the obnoxious, me-firsters who infect Vancouver who bitch about the growing number of bicycles on city streets and the lack of places their untrained attack dogs can run around and terrorize small children. The only "leadership" principles Sullivan appears to grasp are NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) and TINA (There Is No Alternative)."

On Alberta, December 13:

"As much as Quebec has a reputation for being the prodigal/spoiled child of Confederation, Alberta is starting to come on like the two-year old being dragged out of 'Toys R Us'. Sorry, but decisions at the federal level (including all the stupid ones) are made according to this country's democratic traditions, not the price of West Texas Crude. "

On the Leaders Debate, December 17:

"The Notwithstanding Clause remains as the Elephant in the room, while Martin, Layton and Duceppe are stuffing Harper's pants with peanuts."

As the clock ticks down on 2005, The Bear 604 Show wishes you a Happy New Year!!


Greatest Hits: Disc One

My look back at 2005...

On right-wing fundamentalists seeking BC Liberal nominations, January 12:

"People will tolerate a certain amount of bullsh*t, which the Campberals have shovelled out consistently for the past four years, if it means keeping the scary NDP boogeyman on the Opposition benches. However, once a side of hate-mongering is added to many British Columbians' serving of bullsh*t, the boogeyman starts to come off looking pretty reasonable."

On same-sex marriage, January 21

"Of all the non-issues that drive me to fits of eye-rolling annoyance, the one that has kept the retinas spinning the most lately is the same-sex marriage debate. The Conservatives, no doubt sweaty, giddy and breathless from watching hours of porn (i.e. the Bush inauguration) on Fox News Canada yesterday, are once again looking to divide this country over the issue of whether or not two people of the same gender can book a caterer and get a few invitations printed. "

On both 'Fahrenheit 9/11' and 'The Passion of the Christ' being passed up for Best Picture nominations at the Oscars, January 25:

"Moore beat out Spider-Man for a People's Choice award: I wanna see how he'd do up against Jesus!"

On the cancellation of 'Star Trek: Enterprise', February 3:

"Sure, Enterprise might have recycled the same elements that have orbited around the Star Trek universe since the late 60's, but in a cultural galaxy that's more marked by the juvenile, the brutal, the vain and the insipid every season, a lot of us related to Star Trek better than we ever will to 'Reality' TV."

On accusations of CUPE BC disseminating anti-Israel propaganda at UBC, February 7:

"That's right, Professor Stein, with a provincial election and a critical round of bargaining on the way this year, the CUPE members in Locals 2950, 2278, and 116 who work at UBC are more concerned about having enough copies of "Tear Down the Wall" to hand out with "The Protocols of Zion" to give to unsuspecting students during Frosh week. "

On a Chinese New Year encounter with Jenny Kwan, February 8:

"For the Lai Tsi, I wished her a happy 4702 and said I'd see her in cabinet. She winked at me and playfully punched me on the arm. Given that the Vancouver Sun has come down with a case of pre-election editorial rabies, it was fortunate that none of their attack dogs masquerading as journalists were around, otherwise the headline probably would have read "NDP MLA BRIBES, HARASSES, PUNCHES CONSTITUENT"."

On the Speech From the Throne, Feburary 9:

"If there's anyone I came away from the goings on in Victoria yesterday with a newfound respect for, it's Lieutenant-Governor Iona Campagnolo. Anybody who can sit in front of 79 MLAs, the media, and anyone watching on TV, and read out that the government is committed to increasing the fruit and vegetable intake of British Columbians by 20% while keeping a straight face, is obviously something special."

On Lorne Mayencourt getting beat up by a panhandler, March 3:

"I hope Mayencourt wasn't seriously hurt, but I also hope he was hurt enough to make the realization that if you bash the poor long enough, the poor bash back."

On the death of Pope John Paul II, April 4:

"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... 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."

On Gordon Campbell and the NDP's 'secret agenda', April 21:

"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..."

On the polarization of the blogosphere, April 27:

"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 I saw lying prone on East Hastings, I completely gave up on trying to see the other side of the issue."

On the value of TV debates, May 4:

"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."


Taking a leak when no one's looking...

The Xmas truce among Canada's electoral combatants came to a snarling halt yesterday as the RCMP launched a criminal investigation into a possible leak from Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's office. The alleged leak (brought to the attention of the Mounties by NDP Finance Critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis) spiked trading in income trusts and related stocks just before Goodale announced on November 23 that Ottawa would not be taxing those income trusts.

On the surface, the investigation will be difficult, and may not reap the political jackpot the opposition parties are hoping for. Prior to November 23, did Goodale give any indication that the Liberals were about to start taxing income trusts? What has to be proven is that Goodale explicitly said he was not going to do something in advance of the November 23 announcement. If the RCMP can find the money where his mouth was, then they have a case.

The real question is, does this scandal (or lack thereof) have the legs to impact how 1/23 plays out? This page contends that anything without a body count can be pretty much blown over, but if there is a smoking gun, it might be the best holiday financial scandal since Uncle Billy lost $8,000 in Bedford Falls on Xmas Eve. It really depends on how fast the investigation moves. Remember, it was two years ago this week that police raided the BC Legislature, and while a couple of heads (Garry Collins' and Christy Clark's) ducked and covered, no heads of consequence ever rolled.

Of course, that lack of rolling in BC may have to do with the fact that in British Columbia, the media is squarely in bed with whatever Vancouver Board of Trade mouthpiece masquerades as the political party who keeps the NDP at bay. At the national level, the media has some kind of sordid kinky threesome with the Liberals and the Conservatives: it's awkward and uncomfortable, but everybody likes to watch because we think anything's possible. If the NDP is serious about running on real solutions and their results from the last parliament, this is a bed they should back away from ASAP.


Bear Bites Dog

Every passenger who disembarked from Greyhound coach #1196 at Pacific Central yesterday at 6:00 PM (about 3 hours late) yesterday was quick to remark that they would never ride with Greyhound again.

Best case of "be careful what you wish for because you just might get it" in 2005: When we stopped in Kelowna, our bus was refueled, with passengers aboard, the motor running, and one wayward gentleman who was smoking a cigarette and flicking the ashes into a nearby puddle of rain and diesel fuel.

In addition to what would have been the abrupt end of this page (and Walnut Boat), the trip was marked by mechanical failures and near riots in Calgary (where I saw a woman tried to push through unassisted for her reserved seat with four pieces of luggage and her baby) and Salmon Arm, as Greyhound disregarded pre-paid seat reservations (including mine) and declined to inform passengers of such minute details as where exactly the bus would be stopping. If you live in the Kamloops area, don't ask anyone who usually doesn't drive how the holidays were, at least for a few weeks.

This page will concede that December 27 is usually one of the busiest travel days of the year if Greyhound will concede that paying regular drivers overtime to is a better way to deal with the holiday hordes than contracting out trips to companies who have little or no experience with public transportation. Also, this page will concede the lower flammability of Diesel fuel if Greyhound admits to the invention of the Public Address System.

Of course, my travels were on a well-traveled route between Calgary and Vancouver. Imagine what it was like for those on the roads less travelled...


What a long strange trip it's been

Walnut Boat and this page will be making the overnight trip back to the 604 in about 12 hours. It's only been a week, but it feels like a month, which may just be the rate of temporal distortion for extended holiday travels during an election campaign.

This trip was better than I thought it would be, and there were a few surprises: the rumour circulating around Sundre that Myron Thompson was giving out Xmas turkeys to those who were financially supporting his "cause" and hearing the project manager for my mother-in-law's soon-to-be-completed condominium openly criticize the Alberta government for privatizing building and elevator inspections. The biggest surprise, however, has to be that Co-op stores sell beer in Alberta.

I'm packing up my boxing day loot and getting ready to ship out. Here's hoping Vancouver is as close as it looks on the TV while the Canucks are losing to the @#$! Oilers and Flames....


The Cats made me do it

This page and Walnut Boat went to dinner last night with one Cindy Wong, a local ceramic artist, cat lover, and good friend to this page. Between the churros and the tostadas, Cindy showed us her collection of hand-made feeding bowls, for which 100% of the proceeds go to support Calgary's Meow Foundation, which supports the less fortunate among the local feline community.

Those of you who are regular visitors to this page are aware of my influences. The influence you're probably not aware of is my 16-year old Siamese/Tabby cross whose affection and sense of humour helps to keep this page posting on days when he just doesn't feel like it. If there's someone like that in your life, and even if you're one of my readers in BC, WA, OR, or CA, I encourage you to check out Cindy's work, near the bottom of this page. I'm sure something regarding shipping can be worked out.

FYI, contrary to the sold out notice, Cindy has made more bowls, a few which didn't make it out of El Sombrero after being looked over by servers eager to buy.


Greetings From A Cool Dry Place

After 18 hours on a bus with hydraulic issues, this page and walnut boat arrived in Calgary. After a something called a 'ranch omlette' and a few laps in the pool, I'm functional again.

Passed several election signs on the way here, including of all things, an NDP sign in Diane Ablonczy's riding. Yep, there's a momentum shift here...or it's just the car exhaust bouncing back down off the chinook clouds. Actually, with the exception of Diane's Liberal and NDP rivals, every other sign I saw since leaving my riding (Vancouver East) was for the incumbent. From the Greyhound window, the sign poll points to wash, rinse, repeat.


Last Night

Two of the four leaders debates are now complete, and Paul Martin is starting to look like a political Dave Dickenson. The Prime Minister was continually sacked by Harper, Duceppe, and Layton, yet somehow managed to get up for the next play. Martin was able to make a few good reads, scramble and improvise, at one point going as far as stealing the "Stand Up for Canada" line from the Conservative playbook in reference to Canada-U.S. relations. Unfortunately for Martin, just because one can handle being knocked around doesn't mean the team can necessarily deliver when it counts.

Stephen Harper didn't alter course much from Thursday night's French-language debate, which, unfortunately for him, saw the other party leaders smoke out the Conservative position on same-sex marriage. The Notwithstanding Clause remains as the Elephant in the room, while Martin, Layton and Duceppe are stuffing Harper's pants with peanuts. Harper's other collision with logic took place during the question on child care. "Beer and popcorn" may have been somewhat callous, but handing out money to parents for childcare when those childcare spaces don't exist shows a disturbing callousness right under the CPC leader's hairpiece.

Jack Layton needs to figure out if he's going to be overaggressive or just over-excited. A number of times during the debate he tried to confront Martin as his time ran out, but at the same time, he's the only leader of party running a full slate of candidates who never talks about forming a government. If Layton's not willing to think big, why should anyone consider getting in on the NDP's big ideas? The NDP also missed an opportunity to position itself in the national unity debate because economic class divides Canada more than language or culture. When Stephen Harper mentioned that no one but him recognizes Jean Charest as player , Layton could have recognized Jean Charest's right-wing economic program of tax cuts and privatization as the major reason the PQ is blinking disturbingly on the radar again.

Gilles Duceppe again proved why he should continue to participate in all of the federal leaders debates. His concept of sovereignty is easy to grasp "Not superior, not inferior, just different." However, Duceppe doesn't seem to believe that the question put before Quebeckers in a referendum should be just as simple. This time around, the BQ leader was looking to attract anglophone and allophone Quebeckers and appears to have gathered a few more to reinforce the Bloc's hammerlock on Quebec polls.

If there's one thing that struck me as odd during this debate, it was the number of Freaky Friday moments among the opposition party leaders. Stephen Harper made a number of references to 'working families' (a traditional NDP catchphrase) and also inadvertently helped Layton to expose the intolerant flank of the Liberals on same-sex marriage. In return, Layton spanked Belinda Stronach on Harper's behalf over jumping to a Liberal cabinet position. Layton also did some heavy lifting for Duceppe in citing Liberal corruption as the major driver for the upswing in sovereigntist fortunes. The next debates will follow pretty much the same format that insulates the leaders from each other, but it's at least a giggle to see which leaders switch bodies next time...

Finally, for those of you scoring at home on the 'Merry Christmas' vs. 'Happy Holidays' thing:
-Layton wished us a Happy Christmas
-Martin wished us a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
-Duceppe wished us a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
-Harper wished us a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

For everybody who visits The Bear 604 Show, this page wishes you a heartfelt All of The Above.


Hier Soir

This page always have difficulty following leaders' debates in French. I consider myself to be functional in French, but by no means fluent. However, I would like to be able to hear the leaders speaking in French, and still hope that one of these years the debates are subtitled rather than dubbed.

It also makes it hard to follow when there was very little actually being debated. The rules of last night's debate kept the four party leaders from rubbing up against each and making a few sparks. Given that the holiday season is usually when greatest hits packages are trotted out, the leaders opted to oblige the audience with familiar favourites: Paul Martin - "Greatest Country in the World", Gilles Duceppe - "Gomery, Gomery, Gomery", Stephen Harper - "Who Wants a Tax Cut?", Jack Layton - "Priorities and Results"

The apparent surprise of the evening was Stephen Harper's claim he would not use the Notwithstanding Clause to revoke same-sex marriage. Either Harper's interpreter couldn't stand him or the CPC leader is completely clueless on the issue. This page also heard Harper say during the course of the debate that he was still going to allow a free vote in the House of Commons on SSM. And he said while a CPC government would recognize existing same-sex marriages, it would bar future marriages. This is what some pundits are calling a clarified position?


Field of Pigs

Almost immediately after President Bush admitted that the decision to go to war in Iraq was based on faulty intelligence, the administration showed some more faulty intelligence by trying to regroup around the old foreign policy standard of picking on Cuba.

Cuba's baseball team has been denied a permit to enter the United States (and Puerto Rico) which denies the defending Olympic and World Cup Champions the right to compete in the upcoming World Baseball Classic (March 3 - 20). For those of you who don't follow baseball, imagine if Team Canada was barred from playing in the U.S. during the World Cup of Hockey, and you'll get some idea of how it impacts baseball's first ever best-on-best tournament.

There's a marked hypocrisy to barring Cuba, but allowing Venezuela and China to take the field. Hugo Chavez is not only Fidel Castro's best friend among world leaders, he's also the target for a Pat Robertson fatwa. As for China, most of the anti-Castro/Helms-Burton rainbow is coloured by laments over human rights. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think those cigars are made in slave labour camps, and I don't remember students between run down by tanks in downtown Havana.

This page contends that if the tournament wasn't being staged in an election year, the Cubans would be taking the field. The signals I'm stealing from the Bush dugout point directly to Florida, home to the infamous bloc of anti-Castro Cuban expatriates who hit way above their electoral weight. As you recall, Florida went narrowly to George W. Bush in 2004, and in 2000, it went to Al Gore. In barring the Cubans, brother Jeb can move into scoring position for 2008.

Major League Baseball is looking at appealing to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (a division of the Treasury Department). At this late an inning, MLB is more likely to sacrifice the Cubans. Baseball needs to preserve their anti-trust exemption, and to keep the congressional drug-sniffing dogs away the next time somebody hits 60 homes runs in a season.

This page calls barring the Cubans a definite balk: Castro can now claim that the U.S. invoked a technicality to avoid losing to Cuba at the tournament. If anyone else besides the U.S. wins the first World Classic title, what's going to stop them from taking up a challenge from Cuba to put that title on the line in Havana or anywhere else Helms-Burton doesn't apply?


The 'X' stands for...

The go-to gizmo for this year's holiday shoppers is an XM (Satellite) radio. For about $100 to $400 (depending on bells and whistles), consumers can subscribe to the XM or Sirius networks and receive 80 to 100 channels of custom audio programming. This page is somewhat of a bi-polar adaptor. I bought one of the first MP3 players, but I didn't get a DVD player until they became standard equipment with the Sony Playstation. After some consideration, this page is playing the waiting game on satellite radio.

First of all, I have yet to be seriously enthused by the programming. The overwhelming majority of the channels are music-oriented, and rest in the pop - rock - adult contemporary vein that dominates commercial radio. Satellite promoters will bleat that's not true, but this page doesn't see that big a difference between a channel for, let's say, East Coast hip-hop and another for West Coast hip-hop. I do occasionally listen to both genres, but by no means am I that discriminating that I couldn't stand to listen to 50 Cent right after The Game. In fact, they didn't care either, which is probably why 'Hate or Love It' (preview track #4) shot up the charts.... Dividing up the same programming among more channels is still the same programming.

I don't like the lack of any real connection between satellite broadcasters and their listeners. The lack of any local or community presence on satellite radio makes the new medium as alienating as Muzak. I listen to a lot of jazz and classical music, and I like to hear where I can go to listen to some of that music in person. CBC Radio 2 can tell me where to hear to the classics in Vancouver. NPR affiliate KPLU can tell me where to go for jazz when I'm in Seattle. Seriously, if you're going to pay $13 a month to ride around with this thing, you should at least be getting the traffic and weather reports.

I also have a concern which will probably result in my receiving some kind of tinfoil hat, but exactly to whose advantage is it to equip thousands of people with satellite receivers, each of them tuned to a designated subscriber signal? Satellite radio may trumpet its commercial - free playlists, but its highly segmented programming is like shooting demographic fish in a barrel for future advertisers and direct marketers, especially when the fish gave their addresses and credit card numbers to get their satellite radios.

This page doesn't believe one needs the latest top-of-the-line gadgets to enjoy the holidays. All you really need is a fat memory card and a few podcasts.


No love for the 403 (or the 780)

Albertans are frustrated at the lack of attention given to their province by the major parties so far in this federal election campaign.

With apologies to those in Alberta who actually know me, this page finds himself bemused by the ignorance and arrogance of many of the voters surrounding you. As much as Quebec has a reputation for being the prodigal/spoiled child of Confederation, Alberta is starting to come on like the two-year old being dragged out of 'Toys R Us'. Sorry, but decisions at the federal level (including all the stupid ones) are made according to this country's democratic traditions, not the price of West Texas Crude.

What exactly do these people want? They have their windfall oil & gas revenues, sprawling suburbs and new money gridlock, labour laws that could make Alabama look like Sweden, human rights that exist at the whim of the likes of Focus on the Family, and a Premier who fiddles while Medicare burns. In American politico-speak, Alberta is as close to a 'Red' State that Canada has to offer.

This page, despite having been born and raised in Alberta, now finds himself way more at home in Seattle or Portland than he does in Calgary or Edmonton. Under the Progressive Conservatism of Peter Lougheed, Albertans benefited from things like the Heritage Trust Fund and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Under Ralph Klein, Albertans drifted into intertia and intolerance because of a lack of vision beyond privatization and keeping big oil happy.

At least 26 out of 28 Alberta seats will go to Stephen Harper's Conservatives. That's right, 28 seats: less than Ontario, Quebec or British Columbia: what part of representation by population don't these Albertans understand? And exactly what incentive does marching in perpetual right-wing lockstep give any of the leaders (including Harper) to jump on the next charter to Red Deer and press the flesh?

This page may find answers to these, and other questions next week, like if anyone will say anything if I check into my Calgary hotel under the name 'Jack Layton'.


Program Notes

This page will be on the road in from December 19 to 27, with stops in Chilliwack, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, and Golden, plus Alberta stops in Calgary, Cochrane, Olds, Sundre, and Airdrie. It's just like the election bus tour CPAC did last year, except our bus has 'Greyhound' on it.

Seriously though, the final regular post for 2005 will more than likely be the Leaders Debate post-game show on Saturday, December 17. I may be able to file an Alberta Report or two if I find a place to log in while I'm away, or I just may put back some serious Xmas cheer and shred a few Alberta Reports when no one connected with the Byfields is looking.

Thank you for enjoying The Bear 604 Show.


I miss that Jealous Guy

It may have been easy to miss two days after the 16th anniversary of the Montreal massacre, but 25 years ago today, John Lennon was gunned down by Mark David Chapman just outside his home at Manhattan's Dakota apartments.

This page was all of 12 years old in 1980, and had not yet grown to appreciate Lennon beyond his work with the Beatles. However, when my father responded to the TV report of the shooting by exclaiming "Good!", my older sister took up a screaming match with him as she was much more aware of what Lennon stood for. I think that was the first time I truly realized how wrong adults can be.

As I became more familiar with Lennon's solo stuff and his work with the Plastic Ono Band, I came to realize that music could mean a lot more than it appeared at the surface. Through his songs, we could imagine "nothin' to kill or die for", we could "give peace a chance", and "war is over" if we want it.

After hearing that last song played over a TV charity appeal this morning, I've been wondering what it would be like if John were still with us, and what he would have to say about our culture of paranoia, patriotic hysteria, and false celebrity. Actually, I really wonder what he would have done to Paul McCarteney for playing that f**ked up piece of sh*t "Freedom" song at the Super Bowl a couple of years back, and doing those credit card ads. What did John say about "Instant Karma"?


Please have exact change. Use handrails.
No smoking. Assume the position.

Translink's armed police force assumed their duties this week. Doug McCallum's legacy as Translink Chair making Greater Vancouver home to the only transit security that carries guns in Canada.

Transit Cop proponents claim that rising crime and violence in and around Skytrain stations created the need for the new force. This page is not going to go into statistics other than to say that statistics don't bear out that argument, and that to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a violent incident involving a firearm on board Skytrain.

This page lives near three Skytrain stations (Main Street/Science World, Broadway, and the new VCC/Clark station). From my own observations, 'Crime' around Skytrain stations amounts to marginal drug dealing, panhandling, and handing out copies of Metro: which is a crime against journalism. 'Violence' amounts to the odd harsh utterance or mild shove at someone who doesn't move out of the way of the door, or to the back of a transferring bus to let others board.

The new gun-toting transit force is not borne out of real concern about violent crime, but rather the zero-tolerance, poor-bashing, "safe streets" hysteria which only serves to reinforce the right-wing world view. If the Lower Mainland's law-and-order types really wanted to set up a special police force to go after where the serious violent crime is, why not establish a force to patrol Vancouver's nightclubs? Or would that just upset the hospitality lobby that throws their patrons money behind the NPA, SET, and the BC Liberals?

Pop quiz, hotshots: You're one of the new Skytrain officers. You're on board the Spirit of Kitimat right after leaves Main Street. You see a disheveled man with a glazed look in his eyes drinking a bottle of Dr. Pepper. Maybe he's been doing meth, or maybe he's a diabetic who's had a long day of door-knocking for Stephen Harper. You go over to him and remind about the 'no food or drink rule'. He becomes belligerent, mutters profanities at you, and reaches aggressively into his bag. Is he looking for the bottle cap to reseal his soda, or his 9mm. What do you do?

If that question is too sensational, here's another: does anyone else think it's hypocritical for right-wingers to blast COPE over Vancouver's ethical purchasing policy as the height of political trendiness, then turn around and support transit security getting the trendiest fashion accessory going?


Nature abhors a vacuum, and so do voters

Ujjal Dosanjh accuses Jack Layton of a health care flip-flop:

"Now Mr. Layton admits he's not interested in cracking down on private clinics," said Dosanjh. "He chose to break with us as a political ploy to ensure he has the election he was looking for." (CP)

If the Catch Phrase Dictionary was looking for an illustration for "It takes one to know one", this would do nicely. Remember, Dosanjh was the NDP Premier in British Columbia who, during the 2001 Provincial election campaign, screamed about Gordon Campbell's hidden agenda to privatize health care up until the last week of the campaign, when he conceded to the Liberals before the polls even opened. Dosanjh's efforts in vandalizing the NDP were not lost on the Federal Liberals, who three years later awarded him a star candidacy in Vancouver South and a cabinet posting.

Under the BC Liberals, private health care clinics, such as the False Creek Surgical Centre, have opened their doors throughout the province. As the Federal Health Minister, Dosanjh has confronted Gordon Campbell's undermining of the public health care system through a course of action which is clearly illustrated in detail below:

After the Gomery Report, there are a lot of voters who want to punish the Liberals for what they've done. How about punishing them for what they haven't done?


Judge not lest ye be judged, Dork!

For a party leader looking to make further inroads into British Columbia, Stephen Harper certainly doesn't sound like it:

"(Former Vancouver Mayor Larry) Campbell said the idea of a crystal meth crisis in our communities is garbage...I think (voters) are going to have to ask themselves, and I think they are asking themselves in this community what was Larry Campbell's record on that and what happened in Vancouver during that period. I think the voters of Vancouver cast their judgment on that with Mr. Campbell's party in the recent elections."

Wow, what a nasty little smear by Stephie Wonder. First of all, the only "community" DaVinci mentioned when he was talking about crystal meth was the one he had an electoral mandate to talk about: Vancouver. The former Mayor was downplaying the crystal meth "crisis" because the Intravenous King Kong still riding this town's back is good ol' heroin.

Not only does this amount to a backhanded smear, it's also the worst
Nelson Muntz impression ever. Exactly what "judgment" is Harper gloating over? DaVinci wasn't even on the ballot, but Jim Green was, right next to the yet to explained name of James Green. Furthermore, "Mr. Campbell's party", Vision Vancouver, elected FOUR OUT OF FIVE City Council candidates.

If that's "judgment" for the left-of-centre in Vancouver, then this page solemnly prays that the End Times are indeed upon us. No wonder the Conservatives can't elect anyone in Vancouver.


Oh, Jesus....

While Stephen Harper has been promising such miracles this week as cutting the GST and reducing hospital wait times, his fundamentalist Christian followers have taken to the airwaves and op-ed pages to open a second front in the Conservatives 2006 campaign: a culture war Canadians can call our own.

A repeated theme was how Conservative/Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christians felt they weren't respected or included in the country's political establishment, especially since most of them are concentrated in rural Canada and Western Canada. These people may have a point when they answer accusations of intolerance by identifying themselves as good, honest, hard-working people. Unfortunately, they're absolutely clueless as to how Representation by Population works in this country.

Nor do they understand the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While the Charter recognizes the Supremacy of God, it doesn't recognize a specific God or whether or not one actually has to believe in God. While the Faith-Based Bush Administration has been blurring the Separation of Church and State, in Canada it's still pretty clear, so if you don't want an abortion, don't have one. If you're opposed to same-sex marriage, be sure to marry someone of the opposite sex. Contrary to the zero-sum vitrol from the likes of Focus on The Family, the Charter guarantees the right to carry a child to term and the right to one's heterosexuality.

Unfortunately, these Christian Soldiers will be extremely mobilized during this campaign as it falls during the Holiday Season. That's right, I said Holiday season. If same-sex marriage and abortion weren't wedge issues enough, the Christian right has now gone on the attack against anyone who has the demonic gall to wish his friends and neighbours "Happy Holidays".

Canada's 'War on Tolerance' reached a new height of stupidity this week when the town council in Oxford, Nova Scotia passed an ordinance recognizing no other December holidays except Christmas. What motivated pushing other seasonal cultural celebrations out of the spotlight? The fact that officials in Boston, who have received a tree from Nova Scotia every year since 1917 to recognize that city's role in providing aid after the Halifax explosion, opted to call it a 'Holiday Tree'. Backlash 1, History 0.

For those of you scoring at home, this page does not celebrate Christmas. I do however, celebrate being around family and friends as they celebrate Christmas, and I do recognize Xmas as a Holiday. I also recognize Chanukah, even if it's not as big a Holiday as Yom Kippur or Passover. Kwanzaa, Diwali, Tet, Ramadan, Boxing Day, St. Stephen's Day, and New Year's are also holidays which (may) take place in December and may be important to someone. Nobody set out to celebrate a different holiday to offend anyone, and what did that guy say about turning the other cheek?

Now if you'll excuse me, this page has some Christmas shopping to do...


Punch a Gift Horse in the Mouth

After five years of ignoring the flashing message "STICK NOT WORKING, TRY CARROT", it appears that the BC Liberals are looking to try a different approach in public sector labour negotiations.

Finance Minister Carole Taylor ....oops, Carole Taylor announced yesterday that $5.7 billion is being set aside to encourage Unions to negotiate long-term agreements, with signing bonuses if agreements are reached before existing contracts expire on March 31, 2006 (For a union like mine that's been without a contract for eight months, that money's already out the window). In making this announcement right after the blowback over MLA pay raises, this page has a hard time taking Taylor seriously (especially when she gets wardrobe tips from Andrea Martin).

It's also hard to accept when those most brutalized by the Liberals first-term mugging of public sector unions, i.e. front-line health care workers in the Hospital Employees Union, aren't even public sector workers anymore. Thanks to Bill 29, they became employees of deep-pockets multinational Sodexho, and they're still trying to negotiate a living wage. Of course, none of Carole's Carrot can be peeled off to these workers, as it would amount to a subsidy for Sodexho, a corporation that has way more scratch than Victoria. There's no way the BC Liberals would ever engage in corporate welfare, right?

Excuse me, I have a really expensive train to the airport to catch...