Apparently, people do read this thing.

This page has noticed some interesting comment traffic with respect to an earlier post this week concerning CAW President Buzz Hargrove. Someone claiming to be one of Hargrove's children takes exception to my comments, and attributes them to a 'blatent' lack of excitement in this page's life.

First of all, Jaime - thanks for dropping by and sticking up for the old man. This page does at times go overboard with the rhetoric, but I've often been left with the impression that it's part of the appeal for a lot of regular readers. I have been throwing around epithets like 'egocentric idiot manchild' for so long they've practically lost all meaning, and nobody has taken a strong enough exception to write in until now.

However, your Dad was acting like an egocentric idiot manchild when he went out of his way to endorse the Liberals while remaining a member of the NDP. In my neck of the woods in East Vancouver, people are still p*ssed about what's happened with David Emerson: one doesn't swear allegiance to one party then start making overtures to another. The 'strategic voting' argument is in mathematical reality, a total crock: every party on the ballot has as much chance of winning as any other if it gathers enough support during a campaign. The Ontario NDP were well within their rights to suspend his membership, and it wasn't a vicious attack on him or the members of the CAW. Being CAW President doesn't put you above the constitution of the party that you formally signed on with.

I don't know what your politics are, or for that matter, what your Dad's are anymore: they seem to have changed quite a bit from when I met him in Calgary six years ago. However, there's a right way to change, and a wrong way to change, and the wrong way is trying to pretend that you're still the same. It's not about engulfing oneself in someone else's life or looking at them like they were a shoe, it's about being p*ssed off that someone couldn't make a choice between keeping his word or quitting honourably.

As for my life not being exciting or constructive, that's all relative. Now, if this page were to say that David Emerson showed at least more dignity than Buzz Hargrove by tearing up his Liberal membership to sit in Stephen Harper's cabinet rather than have the Liberal party tear it up for him, I'm sure Jaime's response would certainly be exciting....



As some of you may have noticed, I pulled the comment to yesterday's post, which wasn't a comment as much as it was a plug for some kind of porn somewhere. This page doesn't solicit advertising and doesn't give out advertising for free.

Speaking of soliciting and giving it out for free, this page is happy to see Canada's first human trafficking trial get underway in Vancouver. As locals are aware, the back pages of the West Ender and the Georgia Straight are filled with 'bodycare' and 'massage' ads, often promoting the Asian women who administer these 'services'. Some of these women may be Asian Canadians who work independently and enjoy what they do. However, Many of these women really are Asian, as in being brought here from Asia on a lie and forced to work illegally in the sex trade.

This page lives within walking distance of a number of these establishments, and is disturbed to know that behind the perpetually blacked-out windows, slavery is alive and well.


O Claude, why hast thou forsaken us?

Yesterday the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a report that exposes the real reason for B.C.'s declining welfare rates, and Employment Minister Claude Richmond exposed his increasing rate of acting like a prick:

"It's the same report that comes out every year, just a different cover, they are opposed to an employment-based welfare program and we are not." Of course Richmond would argue it's the same report every year, what self-respecting Fraser Institute disciples like the BC Liberals would read anything that comes from the CCPA? As for Richmond advocating an 'employment-based' program, this page realizes that Victoria is a long way from the rest of the country, but I'm pretty sure Canada already has one. In fact, just last week they made their presence very well known to this page.

This page didn't realize it during the Liberals first term, but Richmond's predilection for polarization and callousness probably served him well as Speaker, allowing government MLA's to taunt, harass, and abuse Joy MacPhail and Jenny Kwan at will. I suppose with 33 Opposition MLA's this time around, Richmond wasn't going to get away with sitting on his hands, so perhaps the role of a poor-bashing cabinet minister is better for him.


What does he say to people signing CAW cards?

Yes, the titles are usually more catchy, but this page is still wrapping around his head around the CAW President's insistence that his entire union be wrapped up in his personal temper tantrum against New Democrats. As you may remember, Hornblower Hargrove came out in support of the Liberals in January's federal election. As a result, his membership was suspended by the Ontario NDP. As a result, Bellicose Buzz leaned on the CAW executive to endorse disaffiliation from the party.

"The action of the Ontario NDP is a direct attack on the CAW and our members," screamed Hargrove last week. No, Buzz it isn't: it's what happens when you sign your name to the membership card of a political party and you blow off the constitutional responsibilities of party membership, like SOLIDARITY during election campaigns. All Hargrove had to do to show some actual leadership and avoid the embarrassment of being suspended from the party was cancel his NDP membership before he started swooning over Paul Martin. This page would have respected such a move, but Hargrove's insistence on perpetual fight-picking with pretty much anyone (except Ford, GM, and Chrysler) leaves me with the same contempt most cognizant unionists have for him.

Last spring this page worked alongside volunteers with the BC Federation of Labour's 'Count Me In' campaign that helped elect a strong NDP opposition in Victoria. At meetings I sat next to CAW members from Coast Mountain Bus Company and across from CAW members who were involved in the agonizing organizing drive at Starbucks. Since the resolution from the CAW Executive calls on CAW members to avoid Federal and Provincial New Democrats, is Buzz Hargrove saying that these workers should try to get a better deal from Gordon Campbell?

Telling union members how to vote is one thing. Telling union members how not to vote because your union's president is an egocentric idiot manchild who can't read the fine print on a membership form is another.


Alberta Bounced

Infrastructure Minister Lyle Oberg has been suspended from Alberta's Conservative caucus.

Oberg offended his colleagues for advising Conservatives in his riding of Strathmore-Brooks (where Don from RevMod twice carried the NDP banner) to vote their conscience when Ralph Klein faces a leadership review at the end of this month. Klein has announced he will be stepping down, but his 2007 expiration date is now stretching into 2008, and it appears that Oberg, a leadership contender himself, is turning the hose on the Great Ralph Love-In.

It's not as if Oberg is any real champion of democracy. When he was Education minister he had no qualms with pulling the plug on the elected school board in Calgary, claiming they were "too dysfunctional", dysfunctional meaning they disagreed with the Conservative agenda of dismantling public education. By comparison, the most Christy Clark could ever get away with was sneering at the BC Teachers Federation.

Still, this turn of events could prove to be an enlightening crack in Alberta's Conservative fortress, and the usually oblivious voters in that province may find out what 'dysfunctional' really means.


Union haters run aground

The rescue of 99 passengers and crew from the sinking of The Queen of the North off Hartley Bay is certainly welcome news. What a lot of right-wing, anti-union British Columbians won't want to hear today is that much of the rescue operation's success can be attributed to the professionalism and safety procedures carried out by the members of the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union who worked on the Queen of the North.

Just over two years ago, BCFMWU members went on strike to protect their jobs against CEO David Hahn and his mandate from the BC Liberals: Torpedo the fleet through rollbacks, reckless cost-cutting measures (like delaying replacement of northern ferries...), stabbing BC shipbuilders in the back, and airport-style privatization. For their efforts in fighting Hahn and the Liberals, BCFMWU members were vilified by the media and whichever hotheads pulled up to a TV camera at Tsawwassen or Swartz.

Today, many of those same hotheads are probably praising the courage of the BC Ferries staff, even though it was only a few months ago they were claiming (as read on rabble.ca at the time) that some "lazy, corrupt, incompetent" BC Ferries workers are paid $18 an hour to do nothing but make toast. To those outstanding judges of character, help yourself, and by all means enjoy.


NPA: Now Park Anywhere?

City Council is once again hearing about opening Granville Mall to car traffic.

For those of you from out of town, Granville Mall is a transit-only section of Granville Street in downtown Vancouver. It's the major hub for bus traffic, has a Skytrain Station, and allows easy, car-free access to downtown shopping and attractions.

One would think that the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association would appreciate those facts, but they don't. Rather than keep a good thing going, the DVBIA wants to have private vehicles grind public transit to a halt and endanger pedestrians who are used to crossing anywhere on the mall. Of course, this is the same braintrust who brought us the 'Downtown Ambassadors', an elite unit whose apparent mission is to look important in their red uniforms while they harass homeless people.

If I was a member retailer of the DVBIA, I would asking for my membership dues back. Granville Mall has seen a renaissance over the past few years because of its ability to generate serious foot traffic. Why else would Sears eagerly grab the Eatons store at Granville and Robson? Why else would Future Shop and Winners open locations across the street? Why else would Holt Renfrew be expanding its downtown store? Why do the car-crazy idiots on the DVBIA want to strangle their golden asphalt goose?

Of course, the forces of 'progress' believe with an NPA council now running things at 12th & Cambie, they can get their way this time. It already appears they've had their way with councilor Kim Capri, who's reversed her position to now having an "open mind" on Granville Mall car traffic. Obviously, it was good for her. For the record, City of Vancouver staff recommend keeping the Mall car-free. However, this page remembers City staff recommending One Third social housing at False Creek, and we know what happened there.


I for Infuriating

Today this page saw people subjected to lies, bullied, threatened, held for extended periods without charge, tortured, and executed. Mind you, I did go to the movies after the EI 'information' session.

What 'information' did this page discover at the offices of Human Resources Development Canada? I found out, as I alluded to yesterday, that the EI system is a means of social control. Whereas the old Unemployment Insurance system encouraged recipients to look for a job they intend on keeping for a while, the current EI regime expects its subjects to be 'ready and willing to work' at all times. Medical concerns or Recall Rights be damned: take the first thing that comes along and shut up.

EI is also a means to preserve the class system in case those in first class get a little down on their luck. Based on what I heard in the Q&A, the rich don't have to report their earnings on investment incomes or real estate properties, while working people are shaken down for their bingo winnings, birthday money from their aunts, or the few bucks we received for raking a neighbour's leaves. Like that urchin in Oliver, working people (or those who wish they could be working) get slapped back in asking for a little more.

The regime also loves new technologies - when it serves them. This page was made to supplement my claim (and run the risk of an audit) because information that the regime wanted was never asked of me in their much-touted online reporting system. Mobility rights that are guaranteed under the Charter could be exercised by EI recipients if they use the internet to keep in touch with their job searches, but doing so is verboten to the state, who prefer to keep the unemployed under what amounts to house arrest.

Don't go anywhere, don't do anything, don't make waves: one of Stephen Harper or Gordon Campbell's corporate pals might be calling with a Training Wage punch in the dignity just for you, and you know you don't want to miss that!


Should I bring bail money?

This page is usually loathe to discuss personal issues, but depending on tomorrow's events, this may be the final episode of the Bear 604 Show.

This page has been ordered by the Federal Government to attend an 'information session' with respect to my Employment Insurance Claim. Apparently, I have bled the system dry as a result of my being out of work for the past five months, and during most of that period I was medically unable to work. This 'information session' is being conducted by a 'Investigation & Control Officer', which makes as much sense as a Human Rights seminar being led by a Warden from Guantanamo Bay.

As some of you are aware, this page, like 1 in 10 Canadians, suffers from Clinical Depression, and like 1 in 100 Canadians, has a personality disorder. For the past few weeks since being medically cleared to look for work again, I have been working with an Human Resources Officer from an employer where I have recall rights, and a Business Agent from my Union, to place me in a position where I can apply my skills and experience, and in doing so provide taxpayers like you with maximum value.

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be good enough for the right wing, hysterical, poor-bashing, Safe Streets, blame-the-victim apparatus of the State, who are bullying me into their offices tomorrow. While this page is not (yet) officially under investigation, I am expected to respond to a questionnaire that insists on reporting any hitherto unreported earnings, and such personal details as my childcare arrangements, volunteer activities, and any absences from the Vancouver area. The latter infuriates this page, have the Luddites at Human Resources Development Canada not heard of such technological advances as the telephone, fax machines, job search web sites, or e-mailing one's resume?

This page has enough incentive to get back to work soon, about $3,000 worth if I can get back to work by the end of this month. What exactly do the Feds want, and what could they possibly have to offer? Does David Emerscum need slave labour for the speed-skating sinkhole in Richmond? Does Stephen Harper need to fill a few more body bags in Afghanistan?

For the record, this page returned his bottles for a deposit, does not have children, put in 10 hours on Libby Davies campaign, and visited his Mom (and Walnut Boat's) for a week during the Holidays. If that's enough for Ottawa to gain a conviction, well, at least this page will know what he's doing for the next couple of years.

The Clash said it best around 1982 when they said our right to a social safety net is conditional on "a little investigation...humiliation..." Obviously, some introductions have long been in order. Employment Insurance Act, meet The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Sick Day

This page isn't feeling well, and plans to be back on Monday. No note from a physician is attached.


Amnesty Interrupted

It appears that Allen Abney's (of Kingsgate, BC) unscheduled vacation stop at Camp Pendleton is about to come to an end. Abney was arrested at the Idaho border last week on desertion charges from 37 years ago. While the Carter administration offered a general amnesty to Vietnam War deserters in 1977, Abney did not apply for the required discharge review program. He had become a Canadian citizen that year, and doesn't the definition of the word Amnesty imply 'you're off the hook, free to go, no strings attached?'

Why would the U.S. government detain a Canadian citizen on charges from (at least for this page) a lifetime ago? It's obvious that this isn't about Abney, but rather a message to more than 8,000 U.S. military personnel who have left their units since the start of the current Iraq War, especially those seeking refuge in Canada. Ottawa's response to the de facto abduction of a Canadian citizen is a deafening silence, as the new Stephen Harper government intends to show Washington just how obedient they can be.

Mr. Harper should remember that 'stand on guard for thee' in O Canada means all Canadians, including those our American friends have a bone to pick with.


Moving Day

This page is in the process of switching ISPs, and should be back to regular programming tomorrow.


The Fever Pitch Breaks

After this week's ad hominem attacks, this page is take a break to discuss Canada's performance at the World Baseball Classic. The 9-1 loss to Mexico last night virtually eliminates Canada from the second round, unless South Africa can beat Team USA. Sure, the Americans have recently suffered upsets in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Roger Clemens wasn't pitching for them.

Team Canada, however, did make their presence felt at this tournament by treating fans to the greatest baseball game ever played....in the month of March. While this country has a lot of deeply confused people who don't like baseball, Canada also has a lot of people who just don't like the United States, and easily latch on to any star-spangled comeuppance like the 8-6 victory last Wednesday.

This page, as some of you know, prefers baseball to just about anything, including (gasp!) hockey. Baseball seems to have room for a Carlos Delgado to sit in the clubhouse during 'God Bless America' to protest U.S. military testing in his native Puerto Rico. Baseball seems OK with a David Ortiz snubbing Congress' steroid investigation with a flippant remark like "The only thing I'd test positive for is red beans and rice!" Sports fans have seen what happens in the National Hockey League when someone stops singing from the right-wing Don Cherry songbook: A Ted Lindsay tries to establish a Players Association, and the 'Original Six' owners make like crime bosses to drive him out of the NHL. A Steve Moore insists on legal redress for being assaulted by another player, and all of Hockey turns his back on him.

No, Baseball isn't squeaky clean either. Just ask Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe, Mark McGwire, or anyone who called Jackie Robinson a n***er. Baseball just deals with things out in the open, possibly because the game is played out in the open, when the sun shining on a field of freshly cut grass, and I'm sitting with a frosty cold beer and a sausage hot off the grill, and..........


Hot Wheels Falcon Rides Again

Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon wants to take apart Translink, and has no inclination to put it back together again. Falcon has appointed a three member panel to investigate Translink operations, with the findings to certainly come back as legislation within a few months.

Why are Falcon and the Liberals looking to blow up Translink now? They weren't concerned when the Translink board shut down bus service for six months in 2001 because they wanted to hardball CAW Local 111. Did they care that transit fares rose steadily over the past few years so that a return trip from Vancouver to Surrey now costs $8.00? What concerns Falcon is that the Translink Board of Directors almost shut down the Liberals' last pet project, the RAV Line, and they are loathe to see it happen again to their prized concoction of congestion and sprawl, The Gateway Project. Also, Translink passed a $20 million parking tax this week that no doubt upsets Liberal cheerleaders in the business community, particularly your local Deathmobile dealers.

Falcon comes off as an Idiot Manchild if he really believes that a privatized board along the lines of an airport authourity is more accountable than a board made up of elected officials from across the Lower Mainland. The only thing more accountable would be to directly elect the board instead of having them appointed from their respective municipal councils. Unfortunately, democracy doesn't serve Falcon's interest, which appears to be putting as many shiny cars on the road as possible, with no one having to pay the true environmental and social costs of driving them. Perhaps its time to tell little Kevin to stop throwing tantrums, take away his Hot Wheels set, and give him a serious time out.


IWD is DOA with NPA

Last year, the Vancouver Parks Board commemorated International Women's Day by naming a park after longtime social activist and MLA Rosemary Brown. This year the right-wing 'Non Partisan' Association majority on the Board felt it was vitally important to do absolutely nothing to recognize the struggles of women for social and economic justice throughout the world. Call it irony, call it a lapse in awareness on the part of this page, but the NPA's lack of action actually has me thinking much more about IWD than naming the park did last year.

Parks Board Chair Heather Holden and the other NPA commissioners cited the usual financial constraints, which are always the case at City Hall unless it involves the 2010 Olympics or f**king over poor people. The actual motion, which came from Coalition Of Progressive Electors Commissioner Heather Woodcock, called on the board to examine ways in which they could work with City Council to recognize IWD. Talk is cheap, but apparently not cheap enough for the NPA.

The other reason the NPA commissioners wouldn't recognize IWD, despite the fact that many of them are women, is because they're the kind of antifeminists who read the likes of Margaret Wente, and believe that 'women's issues' are fabricated by the left. NPA Commissioner Korina Houghton remarked during Monday's debate that the Parks Board should not be in the business of recognizing 'special interest groups', and equated the Board recognizing IWD to being forced into supporting 'International Dog's Day'. Seriously, who's the real bitch here?

This page considers women to be very special, but a special interest group? How can they be a special interest group? They're everywhere! I'm surrounded by women at work, in the supermarket, on the bus, there's even one living in my house! In fact, back in the late 60's, I think I lived inside of one for about nine months! Women and their contributions to life on this planet are obvious to the point that one would have be struck pretty hard by misogyny or serious denial to refuse a special day for women.

The NPA's refusal to support IWD ranks in stupidity with the Alberta government's rednecked refusal to ratify the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child because they thought it would take away the rights of parents to abuse...er...discipline their kids. Hang you heads in shame, ladies of the NPA.


Greetings from the Coathanger State

South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds (R) yesterday signed a bill that recriminalizes abortion except in cases where the life of the pregnant woman is in jeopardy.

This page believes its important to make a distinction between the life of a woman and the health of a woman. It's bad enough that lawmakers in Pierre have gone beyond their Mississippi counterparts, who at least in their attempt last week to deny women control of their bodies, made allowances for cases of rape and incest. It's worse in South Dakota because no matter how debilitating a pregnancy may eventually be to the physical and/or mental health of a woman, that pregnancy continues as long as it's not immediately fatal.

That being said, this legislation is little more than a crass, opportunistic attempt to pick a fight at the United States Supreme Court, because this time, anti-choice zealots think they can succeed in overturning Roe v. Wade. The recent appointment of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito have begun to tip the scales the anti-choice way at the Supreme Court.

However, these cases could also be played out in the broader Court of Public Opinion, with the Public reaching a verdict at November's congressional elections. The South Dakota bill will undoubtedly disturb moderate Republicans, and in fact has created a rift within the anti-choice movement itself. Activists had achieved some restrictions such as mandatory parental notification and trimester limits. An all-or-nothing showdown could jeopardize those restrictions if Roe v. Wade is upheld. The controversy surrounding the case also creates a wedge issue that bolsters the chances of liberal Democrats gaining in the House and Senate, and in a couple of years, it won't be George W. Bush making the Supreme Court appointments anymore. Be careful what you wish for, Governor Rounds, you just might get it.


A lesson in optics

Yesterday, while killing time downtown, this page spotted BC Teachers Federation President Jinny Sims strolling by, clutching a bright pink shopping bag from Holt Renfrew. This page is not going to take Ms. Sims to task over what she does with her disposable income: a lot of women on the left love a little high-end shopping. In fact, had it not been for Joy McPhail incinerating her credit cards, the NDP may have had absolutely zero visibility in the media up until the last election.

Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that Finance Minister Carole Taylor was met with a barrage of indignation from left-leaning pundits for her purchase of a $600 pair of shoes from Holt Renfrew? Those shoes were a punctuation mark to a budget that offered nothing for working families who send their kids to overcrowded classrooms in BC's public schools. To be fair, the location where this page came across Sims was at Sears on Robson, but the BCTF President is best advised to bring her own shopping bag, lest her opponents brand her a pot calling the kettle a bright Holt Refrew pink.


Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

Over 20 years ago, this page was on a baseball team that narrowly lost at the city finals. However, our league had a rule that allowed the winning team to select 3 players from the losing team to play in the provincial championship: guess who had good enough bat and the wheels to be one of those three?*

However, to the best of my knowledge, no such rule exists in federal politics, and once again, this page turns its guns at the "honourable" David Emerscum. I'm not impressed by yesterday's "apology" to the voters of Vancouver-Kingsway. There is no apology: Super Dave is just upset by the reaction of his constituents, he's frustrated by the ignorance of the 'little people', and he honestly feels he can defy their democratically expressed wishes because he thinks he's better than them. Nowhere does he say he regrets switching to a party that finished a distant 3rd in the riding with only 19% of the popular vote.

This page is no longer convinced that the biggest pr*ck in the Conservative caucus comes out of the old Reform Party, he comes from the Liberals. Emerscum arrogantly refused to acknowledge the protests at his constituency office, and claimed no one had said "resign" to his face. The people who came to his office and tried to make an appointment to do just that were threatened with arrest.

Emerscum is sorry - the sorriest excuse for a Member of Parliament BC has seen in a long time.

*This page was a slap-hitting, hard-running right fielder long before Ichiro made it cool


Third WHAT?

Yesterday the Alberta Government unveiled its 'Third Way' strategy to increase privatization in that province's health care system. The Klein regime claims the ten-point plan is necessary because health care expenditures take up 40% of the provincial budget. Since taking power in 1994, Klein's Conservatives have privatized everything from parks to liquor stores to government registries, while at the same time slashing funding to education and encouraging a boom in charter (read: private) schools. In Canada's most 'have' province, that 40% doesn't look like much when the other 60% of the budget is really a slush fund to buy Conservative votes.

'Third Way' is a misnomer, unless Klein and Co. are looking over to screw over Albertans in the same way Tony Blair (inventor of the Third Way) screwed over Liverpool Dockers and David Kelly. It also implies a compromise, but when wealthy patients can pay cash to move to the front of the line, and doctors can seamlessly disregard the public system for private profits, Albertans get as much compromise as if they were told to empty their pockets and put their hands up.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruling overturning Quebec's ban on private health care doesn't necessarily open the door to further privatization, the only real judgment was that patients have a right to care in a timely manner, which begs this question: What happens when someone can't get timely care because private health care has eroded the public system, and that patient can't afford private care? Turn that SCOC ruling around, and the right to timely care trumps the right to profit, which could mean Mr. Klein may be looking at a fourth or fifth way sooner than he thinks.