A word from your sponsor

City Hall is considering selling the naming rights to a number of Vancouver facilities, including the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Orpheum, and the Pacific Coliseum.

This page is of a few minds about this development, but is certain about one thing: Either rename the facility completely or don't do it all. I'm still scratching my head about the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria: that must have been a b*tch of a cleanup on aisle 5....


Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...

In declaring his candidacy to lead the federal Liberals, Bob Rae claims that he left the NDP because the party had become "too ideological" for him. It appears that Mr. Rae hasn't clued into the fact that everything in politics is ideological. However, he may have also stopped going to church because he thought it was too religious, and perhaps he cancelled his gym membership because he feels exercise is too physical.

As a newly minted Liberal, Rae is attempting to put sowing the seeds of the Common Sense Revolution behind him, and try to position himself as the candidate of the centre. In doing so, he shows he has very little to offer as a national leader. Canadians don't need a strong centrist, the electorate has proven over the past two elections to be centrist enough. We were smart enough to punt the Liberals, but not give Stephen Harper all the keys to the candy store. If Canadians really need someone to huff and puff about how "ideological" the Conservatives are, we can always just go here.

The real leadership comes from the likes of a Jack Layton who can call someone down as good as he can cut a deal with him, and moves the margins towards the middle of the road, just like he did with funding for social programs, education, and Canada's cities in the Martin-era budgets. Is that ideology, or is that just a smart leader taking what the House gives him?

The next leader of the Liberals will more than likely be Leader of the Opposition for some time. Canadians expect the Opposition to come from the other side, not the middle.


Michael Smyth's creative writing project gets an 'F'

In yesterday's Province, Michael Smyth patted himself on the back for slandering the BC Teachers Federation, and took credit for the Nicola Valley Local's restoration of good standing within the union for the gutless SCABS who refused to participate in last fall's job action.

This page won't be linking to Mr. Smyth's assaults, as one, they're subscriber-only, and two, I can't be bothered to give this 'journalist' the attention. In his articles on Sunday and Tuesday, Smyth makes references to the SCABS' respect for "the law" without discussing the fact that the "law" in question was the Liberals' vicious back-to-work legislation, which did nothing to address any of the issues on the bargaining table, particularly class sizes. Smyth also fails to point out that at the time, opinion polls consistently showed the public siding with the teachers.

It's one thing for Union members to not go along with their Union: it's another for scabs to step in front of the media and call down the actions of other members, despite the scabs claims to 'respect' those actions. The most disgusting thing of all (notwithstanding Smyth masturbating his ego in his last two paragraphs) is that this attack comes while the BCTF is back in bargaining. This is anything but responsible journalism, this is a CanWest Global foot soldier looking to impress the right-wing brass. What, is there a sweet gig opening at the BC Liberals Communications office?

Here's hoping that the hard-working teachers across BC use Mr. Smyth's recent columns as source material for a Social Studies unit on Propaganda. It doesn't come any more obvious that Mr. Smyth never lets the facts get in the way of a good story.


I don't see dead people.

This page, believe it or not, agrees with the Harper government returning to Canada's original policy for flying the flag at half-mast. Lewis MacKenzie provides a succinct explanation in today's Globe & Mail, stating that, given the dangers of the Afghanistan mission, frequent lowerings of the flag have the potential to turn a symbol of respect into a symbol of defeat. Those who question Canada's involvement in Afghanistan (like this page) have enough evidence to pose those questions beyond why the Maple Leaf can't seem to make it to the top of the pole these days.

That being said, what concerns this page more than seeing a flag at half mast is being able to bear witness to the return of the fallen from Afghanistan, a privilege which is being denied by the Harper government. Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor wants the return of our troops to be restricted to their families and the military, but ignores the fact that the military is supported and paid for by Canadians. These brave men and women represent all Canadians, and all Canadians should be able to share the paying of respects and contemplation of their service.

Barring the media from the Trenton ceremony is either Bush Administration style denial, or an extension of Stephen Harper's hostility towards the media. Either way, Canada's Armed Forces are by no means everyday government employees, and Harper has no business treating them in the same paranoid manner he treats his cabinet. What message does it send to Canadian troops that their government doesn't want Canadians to bear witness to their ultimate sacrifice?


Let's take a walk

This page started a new job this week, and hasn't really been bothered to address any critical issues. I've been enjoying a lot of the great outdoors, because for the first time in years, my place of work is close enough to my home that I can walk there.

It takes me about half an hour to get to work, which is just enough to get some real exercise. However, the thing I'm really enjoying is the sense of control. A lot of the anxiety that comes with living in Vancouver has to do with the fact it's a city not really built for cars that's surrounded by suburbs that are built that way. The streets are flooded with unnecessary cars, and a government sponsored by auto dealers and oil companies believes they have to keep it that way, so just enough transit service is provided to prevent civil unrest.

I've been released from the inexplicable waits at the bus stop, the buses that go by half-full because other riders can't figure out how to move to the back, the inane vanity ringtones of cellphones, and the gauntlet of free newspaper hawkers. Because I can go where I want (without looking for parking or filling up a gas tank), the time immediately before and after work is mine again, as opposed to my previous job, where commuting added a de facto 2 hours to my work day.

And to think it was only a few decades ago that it was like this for most people...


At least Rodney Dangerfield was funny

A new show polls 60% of Albertans surveyed believe their province doesn't get the respect it deserves from Canada.

In reporting the poll results, CBC viewers and listeners have been treated to testimony from roughnecks and ranchers about how hard it is to get oil out of the ground and cattle to the stockyards. Yes, these people do hard work, but that's not how respect is earned, that's how money is earned. This page was in Calgary at the beginning of the 'Klein Revolution'. As much as people want to say the boom is the result of sound fiscal management and hard work, this page remembers the Tories took away a lot of work from people in the name of 'sound' fiscal management. Did the CBC ask anyone who works (or used to work) in a government office, school, hospital, provincial park, college, city hall or liquor store how much respect they received with their pink slip or their pay cut in the 90's?

Just a few years ago, when Alberta was considering changes to the province's electoral boundaries, there was more than one 'Progressive' Conservative MLA who stated that one's franchise should be relative to the property one owns. In the same vein, Alberta's right-wing activists have been trying to export this neo-feudalistic ideology to neighbouring provinces, be it under-the-table donations to the Saskatchewan Party, or dispatching one-time Ralph Klein guru Rod Love to ride shotgun with Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals. The results have been mixed, largely because of non-Albertans distaste for something that has been a political staple of Alberta life for decades: bullsh*t.

If Alberta wants respect, this page recommends that a province with about 1/10 of the country's population stop trying to tell the rest of us what to do. One of Calgary's own is sitting in 24 Sussex Drive, what else do these people want? It also wouldn't hurt to take care of the little things, like enshrining human rights for all Albertans into law, writing up an actual Labour Code, stop choking on the words "sustainable development", cease and desist the screwing around with the Canada Health Act and...oh yeah...sign off on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Believe it or not, the Conservative regime refused to endorse the Convention because a number of MLAs thought it would interfere with a parent's right to administer corporal punishment.

Being an East Vancouver resident, this page believes British Columbia living next to Alberta is like me living next to the drug dealer's house down the street: the people seem to have a lot of money and look like their having a good time. However, for all the shiny new toys the place looks ugly and abandoned, there are a lot of scary noises coming out of there at night, and what's that gawd-awful smell?


Parking Responsibility

This page was disgusted by the selfish, ignorant, and self-destructive behaviour of several merchants at Metrotown during the Easter weekend. Oblivious to the fact that all of them are located just a few hundred metres from the one of the largest transit hubs in the Lower Mainland, these retailers posted notices encouraging their customers to support their efforts in blocking a critical source of public transit funding.

To the members of the Fair Tax Coalition, or the No Parking Tax coalition, or whatever Kevin Falcon-loving Board of Trade Waste of Skin you are: this one's for you! If the Translink Board rejects the $1.02 per sq. metre parking tax (which was already cut from $25 million to $20 million because of your short-sighted bitching), where is that money going to come from? Increased property taxes? Increased fares? Gee, if property owners and transit riders are further out of pocket because local business refuses to pay their fare share, it may mean the public has less money to....I dunno....GO SHOPPING?!

What about service cuts? Force more people into cars and pay gas prices that cut further into their disposable income? It didn't surprise this page in reading this moronfesto that they wanted me to contact my MLA, and the contact information was only for Lieberal MLA's. Parking tax reactionaries: Don't expect me at your little insurrection at Wednesday's Translink Board meeting in Langley, and until you learn to suck it up and take a long view of transportation planning in the Lower Mainland, don't expect my business either.


Expect Delays

This page received welcome news this morning that I will be returning to gainful employment next week. In addition, Walnut Boat is using part of her signing bonus to purchase a new computer.

These developments plus the upcoming Easter break may lead to sporadic posts this week. In the meantime, feel free to browse the archives at the right of this page.


Eye on Katie on the Eye

It appears that the major U.S. news item this week
(give or take an alleged White House leak) concerned the news industry itself. Katie Couric, an announcer on 'Today', a popular morning program aired by the National Broadcasting Company, has agreed
to become the lead anchor for the flagship evening newscast of the Columbia Broadcasting System.

By no means does this page watch CBS News on any regular or frequent basis: the last time I saw a CBS newscast, the Iranian hostages were stepping off the plane. However, it is important to note the historic impact that CBS Anchors have gathered over the years in relating the days events. In the 1950's, Edward R. Murrow stood up to Senator Joseph McCarthy and his attempt to smear hundreds of Americans as Communist sympathizers. In the 1960's, Walter Cronkite sent himself to Vietnam to see the war for himself, and upon his return helped turn American public opinion against that war. In the 1980's, Dan Rather had no problems running with stories like Iran-Contra to the point that right-wingers to this day still scream about a 'liberal bias' at CBS.

Will Couric continue this tradition of iconoclastic, firebrand journalism in her new role at the CBS Evening News? Highly unlikely, given her reputation as a 'soft news' specialist. Here's hoping she's seen Good Night and Good Luck, and something stuck, particularly the fact that Murrow could do puffball celebrity interviews just like Katie AND stare down Washington's bullies on the same shift.


Closed Chambers for 2010?

Canadian Olympic Committee President Michael Chambers doesn't want public medal presentation cerememonies at Vancouver's games in 2010. This attitude only serves to further alienate the locals from the so-called 'Spirit of 2010'. A parade of recent controversies and cost overruns are leaving many in Vancouver concerned about the cost of hosting the games, and whether the public will actually be invited to participate.

While Chambers doesn't want to see high-profile recording artists overshadow medal winners at the ceremonies, he fails to understand that for a lot of working people, the medals ceremony is the closest thing they will get to being at the Olympic Games. This page was in Calgary in 1988 as a student working in the Athlete's Village and couldn't afford to see any events. However, people like me gathered 50,000 strong at Olympic Plaza for the celebrations. The entertainment wasn't A-list, but the out-of-towners loved the amazing Indian dancers of the Treaty 7 Nations, and the cowboy sing-alongs of Miss Molly and the Stampede Showband. Even if those kind of acts weren't ones bag, the fireworks at the end made the evening chill worthwhile.

VANOC would be wise to tell Chambers to think again, especially considering who's currently sitting on City Council. This is the same NPA gang who had no problem telling people not to come downtown for New Year's Eve 2000, I'm sure they'll have no problem in adopting Chambers point of view, and pulling the plug on any truly public Olympic events, just to keep the 2010 party among the corporate elite and the Olympic 'family'.


Me and what army?

This page noticed an interesting promotional item while watching the Seattle Mariners 10-8 win over the LA Angels last night: "Thursday, 7:05, vs. Oakland A's - Salute to Armed Forces Night: Military Personnel $10"

Ten dollars? This page thought that those $700 toilet seats and the Iraqi Occupation would eventually catch up to the American Military, but wow! I never realized they'd be getting rid of so many people, maybe it really will be An Army of One. And for ten bucks a troop? Why grab a premium beer at Safeco Field for $8.00 when one could pick up a fighting man or woman for just two dollars more?

At that price, this page can easily afford a decent sized militia. Make no mistake, my neighbours will keep their stereos turned down and their dogs cleaned up after, because I will no longer be afraid of a military solution...


Dumping Dave: how bad does Kingsway want it?

Despite Sunday's 'Walk for Democracy' and yesterday's airplane banner over Parliament Hill, neither the ground troops nor the air forces of the Kingsway Rebellion could shake David Emerson out of his seat at the Conservative cabinet table.

After Emerscum was cleared by the Ethics Commissioner (with a little bullying from the PMO) Those who want to see Emerscum resign are framing this issue in terms of right and wrong rather than legalities. What the Kingsway Rebellion doesn't appear to realize is that using legal means (like petitions, letters to the editor, marches) in a fundamental battle between right and wrong is yet another case of bringing a knife to a gun fight. Actually, it's more like bringing kindergarten safety scissors.

As this page sees it, Emerscum's opponents have two real choices: Go after him the way anti-poverty activists went after Lorne Mayencourt, and be willing to go to jail. Handcuff each other to the doors of Emerscum's constituency office and keep a perpetual vigil out front like Falun Gong does at the Chinese consulate. Don't be afraid to get in the Minister's face whenever he pokes his head out in public, even if it means trying to get past that nice policeman. Scream, yell, use as many expletives as possible, clog up the courts with arrests, and Emerson may decide he doesn't need the constant grief and waddle his way back to Canfor.

The other option is to start buying memberships in the Conservative Party of Canada. Give them a call, bullsh*t them about how you want to 'Stand Up for Canada' (tm), and get everyone else who wants to flush Emerscum to do the same thing. Sooner or later, you'll have enough votes to control the next nomination meeting, and Emerson's future candidacy (or Kanman Wong's, who stepped aside for Emerscum) in the riding is as good as blocked.

This page realizes that going to prison and taking out Conservative memberships are two huge lemons. However, if enough Kingsway voters are willing, that's a hell of a lot of lemonade to be squeezed.


Shoot Alberta's messenger

This anecdote may seriously date this page for some readers, but a few years ago, a regular poster to rec.sport.baseball coined the term 'mediocy' to describe commentators or sportswriters who stated the obvious, or provided observations without any basis in fact.

No, this isn't about opening day. This is about last Friday night, and the weekend of commentary that followed after Ralph Klein's chillingly tepid endorsement by his Alberta Conservatives. Holding the 55% result to keep it off the 11 o' clock news and the front page of the weekend papers couldn't stop a spring snowfall of speculation. However, among the startled talking heads and hurried op-ed pieces, this page was hard-pressed to find a snowflake of objectivity.

I'm not referring to the 'fair and balanced', giving both sides of the issue their say objectivity, this page is referring to giving an audience the overall, big picture of an issue. Unfortunately, with some heroic exceptions, Albertans are routinely treated to the worst media coverage of provincial politics in Canada.

How can this page make such a claim? By pointing out that as a former Alberta resident who monitors the news wires coming out of Calgary and Edmonton, this page has seen no published reaction from either Kevin Taft, leader of the Alberta Liberals and the OFFICIAL OPPOSITION in Edmonton, nor Brian Mason, who leads Alberta's NDP caucus. By contrast, when Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark were on their way out the door as British Columbia premiers, B.C. audiences were never lost for what Gordon Campbell thought about those situations. If the knives came out for Campbell today, I'm sure that anyone outside of this province could readily access Carole James' opinion.

It's one thing for mediots to constantly refer to Alberta as a 'one-party state', it's another to not even bother asking the representatives of parties who polled a combined 40% of Alberta's popular vote in an election less than two years ago. Throw in the righter-than-right wing Alberta Alliance party, and over half of the province didn't back 'Ralph's Team'. Why is a 55% approval rating a surprise?

The mediots can be just as bothered to talk to the opposition as they would be to question Alberta's hyper-gerrymandered electoral system which gives rural voters a franchise 2 to 3 times as powerful a franchise as their counterparts in Calgary or Edmonton. Of course, Ralph Klein was a reporter for CFCN Television before he ran for Mayor in Calgary and went on to become a do-nothing premier. In not bothering to challenge the status quo or ask any hard questions, perhaps the media is just emulating the master.