2008 - WWWWWTF?

About 20 years ago, this page was fortunate enough to be given rudimentary lessons in journalism as part of a grade 5 english class. I learned the fundamentals of the five W's: Who, What, Where, Why, When, and their non-W interrogative sidekick, How. Drawing on the five W's, let's take a look ahead at the coming year:

WHO will be the next POTUS?

The 2008 Presidential election, which has actually been going on for the past couple of years, will reach its soul-shattering climax in November. This page sees another close race with Hilary Clinton and Mike Huckabee as the last two candidates standing.

WHAT will it take to make governments take Climate Change seriously?

Climate change is being taken seriously by governments - Washington and Ottawa, for example, are doing everything conceivably possible to give the appearance that something is being done.

WHERE is the next front in the War on Terror (tm)?

After the Bhutto assanination this week, this page guess it's moved a few kilometres further into Pakistan. Even if he's a little eager about military action, Barack Obama is correct about engaging Karachi if Al-Qaida is ever to be significantly subdued. Otherwise, Canadian troops in Afghanistan (who, if Reason is reading, are in fact good people doing a sh*tty job as best they can) are so much sniper fodder.

WHEN is the next Federal election?

If the best that Stephen Harper can do looking across from Stephane Dion is a string of virtual ties in the polls, more than likely the writ will be dropped when the Liberals think they can wrestle another minority government from the Conservatives.

WHY does anybody want to be Mayor of Vancouver?

Carole Taylor thinks it's the stepping stone to the Premier's office. It's also a job where nobody can actually do anything as the result of Metro Vancouver, TransLink, the idiotic At-Large system for electing Councillors, and Victoria's heavy-handed application of the Vancouver Charter. If Carole wants to parade around on the short leash of her former BC Liberal buddies and their VANOC syncophants, hey, it's her parade.

HOW will the Canucks do this season?

All the way, baby. Just like the Mariners. You people come here for whacked-out opinion, right?



What's in Santa's Brand New Bag?

One more item before this page takes off for a couple of weeks - The Mitchell report was released yesterday, which points the finger at 90 current and former Major League Baseball players for taking performance enhancing drugs. Besides the usual suspects (i.e. Barry Bonds), the report takes much note of one Roger Clemens, who up until recently displayed an uncanny ability to repeatedly retire and come back a few months later throwing harder than ever.

Senator Mitchell's report could also explain how someone could deliver presents to people around the world, then come back and do it again year after year. Maybe it's not that the elves or so small, it could be that their boss somehow managed to get really big....

Enjoy the holidays, and join this page on December 31 for some kind of half-assed year-end hijinks.


Crazy. Old. NIMBY.

Once again, the selfish and self-serving attitudes of Vancouverites are getting in the way of establishing much needed social housing in this city. West Side residents are up in arms about a proposed development at 7th Avenue and Fir Street which would primarily house people suffering from mental illness. According to Rob Whitlock, a City of Vancouver housing planner, several concerns have been raised about the seniors home across the street from the proposed site, as well as 'strata councils and individuals just generally living in that area who feel that this is not the right location.'

This page calls bullshit - invoking a seniors' home as rationale for precluding social housing for the mentally ill amounts to cynical discrimination. Both groups need the medical services available at nearby Vancouver General Hospital and are equally entitled to the access that the 7th and Fir location provides. Besides many seniors already suffer from mental illness - Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia, and Depression just to name a few. Complaints from Strata Councils should be dismissed outright, as they're little more than bastions of NIMBYism. The Strata Council that this page deals with regards anyone who cannot afford to own their home as a second-class citizen who shouldn't be trusted. As for complaints from 'individuals', I contend that Whitlock is using code for real estate developers who hope the City will back down and let them put up more overpriced condos.

Indeed, it sucks to be old. It also sucks to suffer from schizophrenia, severe depression or a personality disorder that may keep one from ever being able to grow old. Why is it O.K. to shove the mentally ill into the squalor of the Downtown Eastside but we won't do the same to seniors?


Program Notes

Revolutionary Moderation is up and running again, so feel free to click over and catch up with Don. Also, this page will being going into holiday hibernation after December 14, but will return with some kind of year-end piece by the 31st.

For those of you scoring at home, this page is relishing the fact that Conrad Black is going to jail, even if 6 and a half years is far too short a time. During the Calgary Herald strike of 1999/2000, this page witnessed a confrontation outside the Palliser Hotel between Black and one Andy Marshall, President of Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Local 115A. The public has a pretty good idea of what Black is like, and Marshall was the exact opposite: bespectacled, soft-spoken and genuinely likable. Marshall very politely asked Black why his newspaper was refusing to bargain. Black's response was to hurl back psychotic epithets of how the newsroom staff were 'gangrenous limbs' that needed to be cut off. CBC radio had their mics on at the time so some of the public heard Lord Almost's vicious little outburst. As far as this page is concerned, I hope they throw away the keys.


Rent your own Cops

Vision Vancouver is saying no to the pleadings of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) and their request for City funding of the Downtown Ambassadors Program. For those of you who live outside Vancouver, these 'Ambassadors' are little more than glorified security guards in snappy red outfits. From having seen them in action on a number of occasions, it appears that their primary mandate is to harass and intimidate homeless people, skateboarders, squeegee kids and anyone else our corporate overlords deem to be on the wrong side of B.C.'s Safe (for the rich) Streets Act.

Most trouble downtown actually happens in the middle of the night/early morning, thanks to extended bar hours and the establishment of the Granville 'entertainment zone', another initiative of DVBIA members. Apparently, drunk and disorderly is fine as long as one pays the cover charge. If anybody doesn't feel comfortable shopping or dining downtown without the presence of several pseudo-cops paid for by City taxpayers, you should probably be on the first SkyTrain to Metrotown, where everything is white, clean, and neat and Mall Security calls in the Mounties if someone picks a soda can out of a garbage bin. When this page pays his taxes, he expects to be getting actual police services provided by actual police officers.


A Kick in the Crystal Balls

The Amazing Kreskin has locked the name of America's 44th President in box at Donald Trump's bar across the street from the United Nations building in New York. This page's prognosticating skills only go so far as the gridiron (take the Seahawks plus the points vs. Arizona on Sunday), but I will predict that Election 2008 will be an even bigger mess than the 2000 or 2004 editions, thanks to Republican political maneuvering to carve out Electoral College votes in California.

Let's look at some numbers: In 2000, George Bush (with the help of his Florida Governor brother Jeb, the U.S. Supreme Court, and an avalanche of hanging chads) beat Al Gore 271 electoral votes to 266. In 2004, Republican 'voter suppression' tactics in Ohio plus a string of hate-mongering anti-gay marriage referrenda, Bush opened the margin of victory for his second term, 286 to 252 over Senator John (Swiftboat) Kerry. That makes the average margin of victory over the past two elections 13 Electoral College votes.

Where it gets messy is the last line of the article about the California GOP's machinations:

'If the measure qualifies for the November ballot, it remains unclear whether it would apply to the presidential election held that day.'

Traditional voting patterns in Congressional Districts have Republicans carving 22 of California's 55 electoral votes, and no one is sure whether or not the new rule could put those 22 votes in play will count on Election Day? For Kreskin's sake, this page hopes the Donald gave him the key.


Out of Order

This page's affiliated site, Revolutionary Moderation, is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Hopefully, Don will have his ship righted as soon as possible. If there are any regular RevMod readers lurking around, welcome aboard, and mind the screeching polemic.

Note to Don - it could be worse. At least RevMod isn't broadcasting from Boston Bar.


Furious George just can't let go

Despite the report from the National Intelligence Estimate that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program four years ago, President Bush will not give up the sabre-rattling. The President claims that's "nothing's changed". He's right - despite a lack of credibility so large that states are racing to conduct the primaries to replace him, the Bush dynasty continues to conduct international relations using its own special brand of Texas style weapons grade bullsh*t.

Remember the Kuwaiti babies snatched from their incubators by Iraqi soldiers as justification for the first Gulf War? How about Colin Powell's little slide show at the UN about Iraq's massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction? Are we supposed to give the House of Bush the benefit of the doubt this time so they can extend their Mesopotamian Misadventure next door to Iran? This page wonders the kind of treatment North Korea would get if Kim Jong-Il claimed he struck oil and changed the name of his country to the Islamic People's Republic of North Korea.

At the close of the first Gulf War, this page remembers Bush the Elder gloating something about 'licking that Vietnam syndrome'. Not letting the facts get in the way of a good war, Junior appears to be flailing around looking for something to lick the emerging 'Iraq syndrome'. A good place to look first would be in the mirror.


Mascaught between a Rock and a Hard Place

Last week our VANOC overlords introduced us to our 2010 Olympic imaginary friends: Miga, Quatchi, and Sumi. Immediately, message boards and open line switchboards were lit up with screeds about how they were too 'Asian-looking', resembling anime characters. To those people, I say SHUT THE HELL UP! I'm trying to watch Naruto!! And don't call me back until I'm done with Bleach, Gundam Seed Destiny, Death Note and Inu Yasha!!! Other threads whined about the constant use of First Nations motifs whenever Vancouver presents itself to visitors. You people can go suck it - try living under the giant bombastic 'YA-HOO' cowboy hat of Calgary's civic identity like this page did for two decades.

The more pressing concern for this page were raised by labour activists, who rightly pointed out that the mascot toys currently on sale at The Bay and Zellers stores across Canada, just in time for Xmas, are made in what I like to call the Anti-Santa's Village, the Peoples' Republic of China. VANOC claims that they have third-party oversight to address child and/or prison labour issues, but they won't disclose who exactly provides that oversight: Let's call it the Ice Dancing method of judging your suppliers. As for the criticism, it would help if the BC Fed could name two or three companies who could manufacture the toys rather than having Jim Sinclair heckling from across the street like a more nasal version of Lou Dobbs.

However, this page looks at the $25 and $40 price tags for replicas of these five ring circus brand babies, and wonders how much Miga, Qatchi, and Sumi can rake in to save British Columbians from tax increases, cancelled programs, and service cuts once the post-2010 bills start rolling in. Contrary to what my detractors think, this page likes the Olympics, and I'm willing to rub a couple of nickels together for the games. I just don't like anyone who doesn't being forced to pay for them, nor do I like people being put out on the street because of them. How many stuffed toys are we going to need to cushion those blows?


For those of you just joining us...

First of all, to those of you outside of the Lower Mainland who habitually snicker about how Vancouverites cope (or don't) with severe winter weather conditions, it isn't as funny when the names of family members are attached to phrases like 'head-on collision'. This page considers a snowstorm to be nature's way of telling people to rethink their infantile attachment to the internal combustion engine and find a different way to get around. For those of you scoring at home, if you insist on wrecking the planet by burning fossil fuels, the planet may just insist on wrecking you.

Carole Taylor won't be running for the BC Lieberals in 2009. This page is not surprised. Taylor is the last of any actual 'Liberals' of note in Victoria, and its not likely her government would see her federal counterparts come to power anytime soon, leaving BC's falling on the deaf ears of the Alberta-bred, Quebec-obsessed Harper administration. What's left surrounding Gordon Campbell is the likes of Kevin Falcon, Mike De Jong and Stan Hagen, which leaves this page wondering if we can just calling this gang Social Credit again.

What's the difference between Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez? In Russia, Putin and his KGBullies gang up on the opposition, whereas in Venezuela, the opposition gets a free hand gang up on Chavez. Despite the perpetual bleating and bitching to Washington, and the 2002 coup attempt that was shut down by overwhelming popular support for the President, Chavez has survived the backlash of Venezuela's rich elites and furthered the Bolivarian Revolution, and uses democratic means to consolidate the revolution, even if it does mean coming up a little short at times. This page will take Chavez' bombast over Putin's menace anytime.


To Serve and Protect...yourselves

Despite the overwhelming public horror and disgust surrounding the October 14 death of Robert Dziekanski at the hands of Taser-wielding RCMP thugs at Vancouver International Airport, the British Columbia Association of Police Chiefs is unrepentant about continuing to use this potentially fatal instrument of torture. In fact, the Vancouver Police Department is ordering up a few more to fry anyone who makes life a little too difficult for the boys in blue.

Before the knuckle-dragging cop lovers creep out of the woodwork to give this page the usual rhetorical beat down, let's bear in mind that Vancouver is a city where citizens are snatched by police officers, taken for a midnight ride to Stanley Park, and beaten senselessly. If that's not bad enough, Vancouver's 'finest' also have a bad habit of people dying in their custody. In both cases, it appears the objective of the Police Complaints Commission, instead of finding justice for those victimized by police harassment and brutality, is to protect the Police from those complaints. These are high times for the badge bullies, with the Conservatives bleating about 'serious time for serious crime' in Ottawa, the BC Liberals' criminalization of poverty through the 'Safe Streets Act' and the 'Non-Partisan' Association's shenanigans of 'Project Civil City' at 12th and Cambie. To celebrate our new Police State, a round of tasers for everyone!

To hear Police Chiefs Association President Gord Tomlison is to hear a deluded and misbehaving small child make up excuses to keep his favourite toys from being taken away:

"Potent drug cocktails turn average people into unstoppable aggressors bent on our destruction and often theirs".

Wrong. More often that not, those potent drug cocktails destabilize those aggressors to make it easier for them to be killed by a taser.

"Organized crime has high-powered weapons that our body armour can't stop. "

Wrong again. If the weapons belonging to organized crime or too powerful for body armour, how are the cops going to get close to use a taser? When did the police stop handing out guns?

"Even reaching down to help a gunshot victim carries with it the modern day threat of contamination from blood-borne diseases"

Three strikes and he's out. I've seen more than enough police officers at Emergency wards in hospitals around Vancouver that they would have easily learned by now that no one is electrocuted to death by using latex gloves.

Next week marks the 10th anniversary of the 1997 APEC summit in Vancouver, where student demonstrators were attacked by the RCMP because they chose to speak out and stand up to the oppressive regimes in places like China and Indonesia that our government believed would be good trading partners. Those protests set the stage for 1999's 'Battle in Seattle' at the World Trade Organization meetings, and the massive anti-globalization protests that followed, but aren't widely remembered by the public. It could be because the Mounties' weapon of choice at the time was pepper spray rather than a Taser. This page is certain that the way things are going, our memories of Downtown Eastside riots of 2009 and the 2011 General Strike will be far more 'shocking' and disturbing.


Happy Thanksgetting

Today is Thanksgiving in America. For the record, this page has long preferred the American version of this particular holiday: it's a four-day weekend, there's parades and football games (which apparently, fight global warming), and a natural kickoff point for the 'holiday' season which runs from now until New Years Day.

However, Thanksgiving also kicks off the hyperbolized, hysterical holiday shopping season. Tomorrow marks 'Black Friday', the busiest buying day of the year, where consumers are whipped into a frenzy to run up their credit cards to finance purchases of the latest state-of-the-art whatsits, lest their loved ones be crushed by disappointment under the Xmas tree. In border cities this year, the gridlock at the malls will be exacerbated by Canadians burning hundreds of dollars of fossil fuels in order to save a few bucks on an XBox 420 or an iTase. Some stores aren't even waiting until tomorrow, Walnut Boat was invited to join a carload for 'Midnight Madness' in Bellingham, Washington tonight.

Call this page crazy, but if I was celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I'd be spending tomorrow with a six-pack, a few leftover turkey sandwiches, and the TV, and wishing everyone else a happy Buy Nothing Day.


Stop that Train

Vancouver Mayor Sam (CUPEphobe) Sullivan wants Translink to extend the Millennium Skytrain line to UBC. With his re-election prospects darkening with each passing day, it says a lot about Sullivan's tenure as Mayor that he's hoping the light at the end of the tunnel is in fact, a train. For the record, this page wants rapid transit to UBC just as much as the mayor. In fact, given that I actually use public transit, I probably want it more. However, conducting an online survey to gauge public support for a Skytrain extension is like the audience applauding to save Tinkerbell: it makes everyone involved feel good about themselves, but it's totally disconnected from reality.

Let's stick a few pennies on Sullivan's manipulative track to re-election: First of all, the final destination for the SkyTrain extension, the UBC campus, is actually outside the City of Vancouver's jurisdiction, and the University has yet to weigh in on whether or not they'd be willing to chip in. The line would have to go over, around, or through Point Grey, the West Side's NIMBYist neighbourhood. Since the bait-and-switch Canada Line put Cambie Street merchants on the fast track to bankruptcy, it's doubtful that their Broadway counterparts would tolerate a similar fate. Meanwhile, the Northeast Corner would see plans for the Evergreen Line derailed for another at least another decade.

There may be a more pressing reason to hold back the Evergreen Line: doing so also holds back any real debate about what kind of technology should prevail in future transit expansion. The Evergreen line was going to use cost-effective Light Rail, similar to Portland's MAX, Seattle's Sound Transit Link, or Calgary's C-Train. Skytrain is routinely criticized by transit advocates as being little more than a rolling vacuum cleaner sucking capital out of the pockets of taxpayers and into Bombardier's corporate coffers. Ever wonder why Vancouver is the only transit system in North America that uses Skytrain?

Obviously, the Mayor doesn't, which is why he's pitching simplistic solutions to complex transportation and infrastructure problems. This page won't be clapping his hands.


Mike De Wrong on Affirmative Action

Mike De Jong is upset about the BC NDP's new targets for nominating women and visible minority candidates for the next election. Mr. De Jong's bloated epitaph is that setting aside a percentage of non-incumbent ridings for women and minorities amounts to "a typical NDP, big-labour approach to an issue, which is to tell people what to do." For those of you scoring at home, the NDP is setting aside 30 % of available ridings for women, and 10% for visible minorities. If every New Democrat MLA runs in 2009, that means that only the 46 Liberal-held ridings would be subject to this formula: do the math and it works out to 14 ridings for women and 5 for visible minorities. Is De Jong saying that BC shouldn't have 14 more women or 5 more members of a visible minority as MLAs?

A 'big-labour' approach? De Jong can't be anymore clueless and instead grasps at the familiar anti-worker slander of the right wing. The NDP doesn't give out bulk Union membership anymore - the number of delegates a Union gets is based on the number of individual memberships within that Union. As for 'tell people what to do', this policy was passed at last weekend's NDP convention by a substantial majority of delegates across BC, so who gives a rat's (besides the Globe & Mail) what De Jong and the Lieberals think?

Affirmative Action targets are a far more democratic and transparent attempt to bolster representation from equity-seeking groups in the legislature than the Lieberals' elitist practice of parachuting 'star' candidates into ridings. Women and minorities are more than welcome to seek a position on Gordon Campbell's team as long as they were a Supreme Court Justice, President of the CBC, or an Olympic Wrestling champion. Anyone else who's background isn't as upwardly mobile doesn't count with the Lieberals, so thank the NDP for at least trying to come up with some numbers of their own.


Lest We Remember

Remembrance Day is once again upon this country, and in the Stephen Harper era, the occasion is shifting from a solemn marking of military sacrifice to forced cheerleading for what this country suddenly stands for: shop till you drop tax cuts, state-sponsored murder, and viciously attacking anyone who doesn't think either is a good idea. It also galls this page that Remembrance Day is the exclusive property of the Royal Canadian Legion, an organization which has shown fellow veterans the door for following the 'wrong' religion or having the 'wrong' skin colour. The Legion will have my sympathy for being asked not to solicit in front of Home Depot when the Legion stops threatening to sue peace activists for distributing white poppies.

Like the Legion, Remembrance Day is an occasion that has not evolved and remains ignorant to the reality of what war is like today. The overwhelming majority of people killed in war after 1918 are innocent civilians, yet does anything happen in the official program to recognize that? Our corporate masters take out ads imploring us to 'remember' and 'support our troops', yet big business turned a blind eye to Hitler's slaughter of German Trade Unionists, Socialists, and Communists long before he set his despicable sights on the Jews. After all, the Fuhrer was just being a good capitalist, just like the butchers of Beijing who won a free pass after Tiannemen Square.

This page knows full well that whenever I question the military that knuckle-dragging rage-filled rebuttals will light up my inbox. I won't engage your wounded patridiotic manhood, you can wear your plastic poppies, stick out your chest and get all sentimental about 'glory' and 'honour' all you want. You can threaten and insult me, but I come from a family that saw the neighbours abducted, tortured, and executed because they didn't 'Support our Troops', sticks and stones, people. While you're at it, go pick on this guy: When Clay Macleod says that our way of life isn't worth protecting if all we have is war to protect it, he's absolutely right.

Remember when people used to say 'Never Again' on Remembrance Day?


CSI: Crazy Stockwell's Interruption

What would have been a routine crime scene investigation for Vancouver Police early this morning was disrupted by the political opportunism of one Stockwell Day, dinosaur hunter, jet-ski enthusiast, roller skater, and Minister of Public Safety. Day happened to be driving by the site of a Downtown Eastside stabbing incident and decided to make himself the star of his own little press conference, tubthumping the Tories' position to get tough on crime.

This begs the question, what was Stockwell Day doing driving around Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in the wee hours? Did he have a police scanner and looking for this kind of photo op? Was he lost? Was he looking to score a little rock? Is he a suspect trying to cover his tracks? The VPD would be wise to take this troublemaker in for questioning, and if not the police, at least the Opposition should be asking a few questions.

*note: this page will be on hiatus next week


Saskatchewan up against the Wall

Saskatchewan voters go to the polls today, and the most likely outcome is the dismissal of Lorne Calvert's NDP government for the right-wing antics of Brad Wall and his Saskatchewan Roughriders...er....Saskatchewan party. If you've seen their TV spots, you know it's easy to confuse to the two. This page felt quite annoyed in receiving a fundraising mailer from the federal party a couple of weeks ago, hot on the heels of Thomas Muclair's victory in the Outremont byelection. The envelope proclaimed that triumph and other relative breakthroughs in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, and here in British Columbia. Conspicuously absent was any mention of any victories in Saskatchewan, the birthplace of the CCF and the spiritual home of New Democrats.

Don't get me wrong, New Democrats have done some good things in recent years, but when a competent NDP government in Saskatchewan is a few hours away from being swept from office, and the party no longer has any MPs in the province that reveres Tommy Douglas, something is seriously wrong. In fact, this page has already seen the script for Lorne Calvert's ouster: Right-wing business coalition shakes off criminal past by attaching new label of convenience. Compliant corporate media badmouths NDP government despite sound management during economic struggles. Right-wingers peddle tax cuts, keep their cards close to their vests and accuse New Democrats of fear mongering. 'Time for a change' mantra saturates the airwaves with no questioning what the change will really mean.

It's disappointing to see history repeating itself in Saskatchewan. Is anyone else sick of the self-absorbed, tax cutting, 'it's your money', Let's cash out our collective prosperity and nation-building capacity so we can hop in our SUV's and drive to Wal-Mart to buy slave-labour made crap direction this country has been heading for the past few years?

If Saskatchewan's beloved Roughriders can bring home the Grey Cup this year as many are predicting, it will be the only comfort for Saskatchewan after Brad Wall and the SP use their fabricated mandate to smash Crown Corporations, attack Unions, ignore First Nations, and turn the province over to factory farms and big oil, who would love nothing better than another Tar Sands and their greasy little mitts on Saskatchewan's uranium deposits. Of course, the history of the past 16 years under Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert will be rewritten to make it the bleakest period in the province's history.

Fortunately, there's nowhere in Saskatchewan that can only be accessed by ferry, so at the least Wall won't have that to rub in anyone's face.


I'm no 'Fun' anymore: Go Fun Yourself

Facebook's stupidest application: the Fun Wall. Remember how you used to get all that idiotic chain mail from your distant relatives and friends you don't talk to anymore? The racist ethnic jokes, the right-wing propaganda masquerading as patriotism and/or folk wisdom, the nauseatingly saccharine shout-outs to babies, puppies, true love and Jesus? Guess where they went?

The really annoying thing is people who relay Fun Wall posts - post it on your friend's profile, and it shows up on all of the Fun Wall's of the recipient's friends: viral and vile! I didn't even need to have Fun Wall installed, it installs automatically if I follow the e-mail link that tells me someone posted to my Fun Wall. The Fun Wall is easily my biggest annoyance with Facebook. That and still having to list my political views as 'other', rather than Socialist.

At least it's easy to delete applications, and it's free, unlike deleting CanWest Global and Bell Globemedia crap from my programmed TV channels that still show up on my cable bill.


Whistling on Death Row

Let's make no mistake: the 1982 execution-style murders of Harvey Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit by Ronald Smith of Red Deer Alberta are an atrocity. However, there's no difference between marching someone into the woods and murdering them and marching someone down death row and murdering them on behalf of the state. There's a reason why Canada does not have Capital Punishment, and in reversing Canada's long-standing policy of pleading for clemency in death row cases, the Harper government has either forgotten that reason, or they're willfully ignoring it.

Perhaps it's yet another cynical ploy to shore up the Tories reactionary base, perhaps it's an another attempt to show the Bush administration that Ottawa is willing to 'play ball', unlike the Liberals who criticized Bush when in 1999, as Governor of Texas, committed the state-sponsored murder of Canadian Stanley Faulder. Maybe our government just gets off on watching people get killed, which would explain a lot of other Conservative policies, like the occupation of Afghanistan and closing safe injection sites. Will somebody get these people a copy of Faces of Death so they can stop playing their dirty little political games with the lives of Canadians?

If our government doesn't stand up for Canada's disdain for state-sponsored murder, what other fundamentals of Canadian society will they refuse to stand up for next?


Your Tax Cuts at 'Work'

In another short sighted and pathetic effort to buy themselves a majority government, Stephen Harper's conservatives served up another round of high-test tax cuts, this time to the tune of about $60 billion. One would think that given Harper's obsession with optics, our fossil-fuel injected federal surplus would be going towards items that consistently top opinion polls, like debt reduction or increased spending on infrastructure, health care and education. Not in Little Stephie Wonder's ideologically-blinded universe: everything is all right (uptight!) as long as our money is buying our own votes and shiny new toys for the military.

In the Tory haste to buy us with our money, even NeoConservative articles of faith, like maximum security airports, are having to go cap in hand. For a government that follows the Project for a New American Century around like a lost puppy, its surprising that our airport security is being performed by indifferent low wage contract workers rather than dedicated public employees like the U.S. Transportation Safety Agency. If maintaining the post - 9/11 de rigeur police state at the runways can be left by Harper and his minions to go begging, imagine how long First Nations without safe drinking water on their reserves have to wait, or the homeless, or anything else that doesn't involve killing brown people and buying plasma TVs.

All the stupidity and moral depravity of the Bush Administration without having to leave our homes.


Public Transit executives hate Public Transit

Despite the fact that Metro Vancouver's transit system is stretched to the breaking point, Translink executives are unrepetant about six-figure claims for private vehicle expenses. This little band of self-entitled hypocrites bleats about needing 'flexibility' while at the same time wants to shove more Lower Mainlanders on to fewer buses, and make them pay through the nose for it. By insisting that they have the right to forgo interacting with the paying public and their own employees by using the trolleys, B-Lines, Skytrain and Seabus, The Translink Board is promoting the idea that public transit is great...for other people.

The biggest tell comes from CEO Patricia Jacobson, who will be putting your fare increase towards her shiny new Subaru Outback, when she says that people can't get everywhere they need to go in the Lower Mainland by transit. Excuse me, but isn't that the problem you're supposed to working to fix?

...and Translink wonders why I keep sending them back survey responses of 'not favourable at all'....


Seven Year Bitch

Today marks the seventh anniversary of this page officially taking residence in Vancouver. Given the dearth of trick-or-treaters in my budget-priced condo, I have time to reflect on the past seven years in "The Best Place on Earth" tm. First of all, it's not - Vancouver is a city that puts to rest the notion that there's a better place for you out there, because for every positive there's a negative lurking to cancel it out. Much is made about the beautiful ocean and mountain scenery, which is pleasant until one notices the traffic snarled in the middle of it because of a woefully misplaced sense of vehicle entitlement. A false sense of superiority is also fuelled by the Canwest-dominated local media, who regularly indoctrinate the locals to wage class warfare on the behalf of the elites against the homeless, union members, and anyone else who refuses to take a "Golden Decade" tm shower.

If Vancouver had a Facebook profile, it would be in a multitude of groups and have a lot of fun applications, but very few, if any friends. There's no sense of homegrown identity like an Edmonton or a Minneapolis, and we don't have a tangible product identity like Starbucks, Boeing, and Microsoft give Seattle - It's like we're still working through the aftershocks of the Hong Kong migration of the 1980's & 90's, the fascist electoral temper tantrum of 2001, and we're scared of more rumblings as 2010 approaches. The Liberal wars on unions and social housing have dashed any notion of people who work in Vancouver being able to afford living here, and driven any real sense of community to this city's underrated East Side.

We are a collection of NIMBYist old money neighbourhoods, politicized ethnic groups, indifferent urban hipsters, and hordes of background extras for B-movie shoots and oblivious cruise ship patrons. We go to hockey games to be seen rather than to see hockey. We treat the windblown trees in Stanley Park with the same concern as we do the beaten down homeless radiating from Oppenheimer Park to the Carnegie Centre. We complain about the insanity of the real estate market, and label garbagemen crazy and unrealistic when they try to bargain for a raise.

Is it worse than anyplace else? No, it just isn't any better, and accepting that makes it that much easy for this page to call Vancouver home.


Fun with numbers

Here's a little stick to beat the 'Believe BC', 'Best Place on Earth', 'Golden Decade' fools into submission: a quick and easy comparison of the 'atrocity' of the Fast Ferries to how the Liberals are screwing over taxpayers with the new Vancouver Convention Centre.

Estimated cost of Fast Ferries: $210 million
Final cost of Fast Ferries: $454 million
Cost overrun on Fast Ferries: $244 million*

Estimated cost of Vancouver Convention Centre: $495 million
Current cost of Vancouver Convention Centre: $883 million
Cost overrun on Vancouver Convention Centre: $388 million and counting

The difference between the NDP and the Liberals? The NDP was at least $144 million smarter than the Liberals are today. Oh, and unlike the slave labour, small business-killing P3 sinkhole that the RAV/Canada Line has become, the NDP's mass transit line was finished on time and under budget too.
*Not including the sale of the ferries to the Washington Marine Group by the Liberals in 2003 for $19.4 million, after Washington Marine had offered $60 million.


Who gives a grab bag...

A few items that grabbed this page's attention this week, like so many squirrels zipping by my living room window to tease my cat into slamming his head on the window frame before I can let him out....

Dumbledore is gay - This page still hasn't read any of the Harry Potter books, but I know enough about them that Dumbledore is also dead, and contrary to the mesmerized fans base of the J.K. Rowing tomes, a fictional character. I expect that being completely out of ideas, Rowling will sleep on a mattress filled with royalties and whenever she's starved for attention will drop juicy tidbits about other characters.

Islamofascism Awareness Week - Speaking of fictional creations, I can't tell if Anne Coulter simultaneously agitating for human rights for Muslim women while at the same time fantasizing about repealing the suffrage of American women is really funny or really creepy. This page encourages David Horowitz to keep giving her enough rope so that the fantasy of sensible Americans tired of Ms. Coulter's antics will finally come true.

The NFL in Toronto - The Buffalo Bills want to play a couple of games per season at Toronto's Rogers Centre, a stadium with capacity for about 55,000 people, and is still being paid by taxpayers. Ted Rogers and Paul Godfrey are salivating at the prospect of having the Bills relocate to Toronto after the Bills' octogenarian owner Ralph Wilson dies. The NFL prescribes a minimum seating capacity of 70,000, so unless the plan is to suspend fans from the stadium's retractable roof, a new stadium will need to built. Guess who gets stuck with the tab? Besides, REAL football arrived in Toronto this year, and it didn't seem to damage the CFL's Argonauts.


Alberta bound...and gagged

Anyone in Alberta who expected Premier Ed Stelmach to seriously address oil & gas royalty rates in his televised address walked out of their living rooms disappointed. This page is by no means surprised. One of the myriad reasons I abandoned Alberta almost a decade ago was the Conservative government's indentured servitude to Big Oil, and the crass manipulation of that dysfunctional relationship to suppress citizens' aspirations. Ralph Klein and his cronies would promise anything and everything to elect themselves to another stupefying majority, and after the votes were counted, the Tories would claim they couldn't follow through because somehow, energy royalties might drop.

Nothing has changed: the Oilpatch runs the government and the government is to scared to cross the oilpatch. Instead of abiding by a groundbreaking report issued by his government's own commission to substantially jack up the rates on the greasy thugs who have turned Northern Alberta into the surface of some inhospitable alien tar-sands world, Stelmach is spouting weasel worlds and sitting on his hands. Shame.

In the weeks since the report was released, Alberta's Petrocracy screamed bloody murder on the editorial pages, shipped their employees to the front door of the Legislature in Edmonton for phony rallies (complete with blue hardhats for boys & pink for girls), and threatened anyone who would listen about pulling up stakes and taking their noxious business elsewhere. B.C.'s Liberal government was quick off the mark to suggest that B.C. could simply hold the line undercut Alberta royalty rates, but does anyone seriously believe that the Petroterrorists would get the same free ride here if they tried to establish a Tar Sands sequel or worse, lobby for offshore drilling?

It disgusts this page that for all of Albertans' deluded mythology about Ottawa's attempts to 'steal' their prosperity through such initiatives as the National Energy Program or a Carbon Tax, they don't seem to have any problem with oil companies using a puppet regime in Edmonton to rob them blind. Albertans will simply re-elect the regime, take the economic, social, and environmental abuse from the greasy puppet masters, and meekly beg them not to go.

*Update @ 10/26 6:04 AM - That's a little better. Still a long way from Hugo Chavez, but a little more removed from Dick Cheney.


Scorching Arrogance

Residents of San Diego more than likely consider the wildfires burning around them and creating substantial property damage a tragedy. This page considers the real tragedy to be the arrogant, smug, and racist comparisons between San Diego coping with the fires to how New Orleans residents saw their lives destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. To quote a soldier on the scene who was also deployed in New Orleans after Katrina: "Here? There's no fear, no pushing, no fighting. Everybody is calm. It's just a completely different situation."

He's right - those people in New Orleans should have know better about being poor, black, and living in a city that's doesn't have major U.S. military installations or thousands of exploited illegal immigrants to do the heavy lifting. They also should have done something about not having an influential Republican demagogue as their Governor. FEMA rep. David Paulison says "Nobody does disasters better than California". Of course, California doesn't have to wait three days for the National Guard to show up.


Frank and Gordon can go f**k themselves

Tyee chieftan David Beers says that Vancouver Eats Its Young. This page has observed that it's not just Vancouver eating its young, the young in Vancouver are eating themselves. Earlier today, while sipping some jasmine tea at Pacific Centre to soothe my post-dental appointment nerves, I overheard a conversation between two 30-something managers (one with little man issues, the other being follically challenged) from a nearby telecommunications dealer (hint: it's the one with the spokesbeavers) which included such vicious pearls of wisdom as:

"We seriously need to put a scare into these people"

"I don't care what she thinks. I'd tell her if she tries that not to come into work again."

"We have to go in there in kick some ass."

The apparent crisis according to what I heard was that two of their staff wanted to take vacation days at the same time. Rather than investigate further as to why they needed the vacation time, try and negotiate a reasonable compromise, or read what the Employment Standards Act of British Columbia has to say, these two were obviously so strung out on their employer's corporate rhetoric about "competitiveness", they simply assumed that the best approach to dealing with their underlings was one of aggression and intimidation.

Hindsight being 20-20, the major reason why the B.C. Liberals, Vancouver Board of Trade, and their media toadies went Krystallnacht on the NDP in the late 1990s was probably because Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark had fixed the B.C. Labour Code enough so that young workers at places like McDonald's and Starbucks could organize unions and fight their way out of a dead end. Today, thanks to living in "The Best Place on Earth" (tm), young workers in B.C. are treated to a starvation minimum wage, an out-of-control cost of living, and deliberately dehumanizing and abusive work environments like the one the two bullies in the food court were trying to engineer.

For those of you scoring at home, people have a right to what's promised to them in their contract, and The Apprentice is just a TV show.


Greens pick new leader, still exist

Esquimalt City Councillor Jane Sterk is the new leader of the Green Party of British Columbia.
This page congratulates Ms. Sterk and expresses the hope that perhaps with new leadership, the Greens in BC will look to reclaim a balance of environmental stewardship and social responsibility, rather than the party's current organic fertilizer of union bashing, dominionist social policy, and sucking up to the Liberals, who share the Greens delusion that the invisible hand of the market will save the planet.

Revulsion with the Jim Harris/Elizabeth May/Adrienne Carr wing of the Greens aside, this page doesn't necessarily agree with Mark Hume when he talks about rank-and-file Greens switching to the NDP. I am not so partisan that I can't contend that a major reason for the NDP's substantial improvement on environmental policy is because a vocal Green party has emerged to challenge the NDP on environmental issues. Yes, vote-splitting from the Greens cost this province an Official Opposition in 2001 and a progressive government in 2005, but the Greens also made it possible for the NDP to show the likes of Dan Miller the door, and shove the IWA to the far corner of the party's convention hall, right next to the door.

The Green vs. NDP animosity is more than apparent from online discussion boards, but as my Sensei once told me, our enemies are often our greatest teachers.


Step away from the vehicle

VANOC wants Lower Mainland residents to get out of their cars during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

When it comes to transportation policy, this is the first thing that anyone connected to the Olympics had said that makes sense since Vancouver won the 2010 bid over four years ago. It's disgusting to see how the Olympic transportation plan was hijacked by developers and their Liberal government allies into an orgy of privatization and unnecessary highway construction. Originally, we were going to have passenger ferries sailing from downtown Vancouver to a transfer in Sqaumish where we would board a train to Whistler. Instead we end up with either a Sea-to-Sky freeway for the upper crust ski & snowboard set, or an apres-ski parking lot that will perpetually trigger demands for more lanes to be added..

Urging people not to drive during the Olympics is too little to late. If the powers that be could have wrapped it around their fuel-injected ideology a few years ago that driving is a privilege and not a right, Vancouver would have a public transportation infrastructure where VANOC wouldn't have to beg people to keep it in park.


Oh No! Stop me before I vote again!

Stephane Dion and his Liberal Party of Canada claim to believe that:
  • Canadian troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 2009.
  • The Kyoto Accord is the most effective approach to reducing greenhouse gasses.
  • Further reductions to the GST will destabilize key government revenues.
  • Rehabilitation and prevention are the keys to preventing violent crime.

Apparently, these beliefs were some of the conditions the Liberals insisted that Stephen Harper and his Conservatives respect or else the Liberals would let Harper's government fall. One would think that as Leader of the Opposition, and being confronted with a Throne Speech that essentially spits in the face of those 'core' beliefs, Dion would seize the opportunity and actually oppose the Harper agenda by forcing an election. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way with the discredited shady oligarchy that is the Liberal Party of Canada. When Stephane Dion says "Canadians don't want an election", what he really means is "Liberals can't win an election". It's childish and gutless, particularly when polls show that Canadians side with the Liberals on their alleged 'core' issues.

Of course Canadians don't want an election - we don't want to pay our taxes, recycle, eat our vegetables or get a prostrate exam either, but we do these things because they're good for ourselves and good for the country. Is the Leader of the Opposition actually telling Canadians that we want to be denied the fundamental expression of our democracy because he can't control the results? Dion's surrender reveals the Liberal Party of Canada in all its manipulative, opportunistic 'glory'.

Note to Mr. Dion: stop obsessing about the results of the next election, there's about 15 million Canadians who will take care of that for you.


The Buck Stops Where?

Vision Vancouver is calling for an end to Corporate and Union donations to municipal election campaigns.

Why it should happen: Vancouverites already suffer through the stupidity of the 'at-large' system, which stifles individual and community participation in the democratic process. The only candidates that can run are those who can afford city-wide campaigns. That means NPA candidates sucking up to every real estate developer and potential contractor that crosses their greedy, deluded path.

Also, centre-left candidates from COPE and Vision Vancouver are not as indebted to so-called "Big Labour" as the media wants us to think - union members can tell which parties represent their interests without headquarters cutting a cheque. However, the $70,000 CUPE gave to Vision Vancouver in 2005 ended up being a deposit for the mean-spirited, anti-union revenge politics of Sam Sullivan the NPA, which culminated in three months on the picket line for Locals 15 and 1004. Three months and counting for Local 391.

Why it won't happen: Any changes to Vancouver's electoral statutes requires approval from Victoria. While the Opposition New Democrats only received token funding from the Labour Movement in the 2005 Provincial election, Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals would have been ground into an impoverished paste without the cash transfusions from their corporate pipeline. If Victoria bans institutional funding for municipal elections without imposing the same ban on themselves, the Liberals will be hard pressed to find enough 2010 - inspired 'Best Place on Earth' propaganda to fill that credibility gap.


Stick it

This page spent a three-day weekend out and about around the Lower Mainland, and something caught my attention. First of all, I'm reluctant to chip in on the furor surrounding placing 'Support our Troops' decals on emergency vehicles. My take on it is that really have no place on ambulances, given the number of Muslims from places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman who work as doctors in the hospitals where the ambulances inevitably end up. As for police squad cars, the police are most likely to identify the most with the military, so telling them not to have 'Support our Troops' decals is not going to go over well. Besides, the police have a lot of guns too.

However, 'Support our Troops' decals have no business going on unmarked police cars. How can it be an 'unmarked' police car if the car is marked with the same sticker as regular police cars? I saw a few police cars like that in Vancouver over the weekend, which would have been a nice tip if my recreational activities were somewhat less legitimate. Patriotism may be the last refuge of a scoundrel, but sometimes it can make it a little easier for the scoundrels to take refuge.


Standing 8-Count

This page is still somewhat shaken from the recent flurry of hate mail and vicious falling outs with family and friends as a result of my position on the Vancouver civic workers strike. As a result, my writing is more than likely going to be shaky as well, but let's stumble around until we find our feet and move on, shall we?

In response to Gary Mason's Globe & Mail column yesterday, I think somebody needs to tell him that 'polarization' isn't some kind of magnetic effect if one drives too far north (or south). The shrieking mock outrage and anti-union diatribes at the end of this strike are no different from the ones which littered open-line shows and letters to the editor at its beginning. It's the same overstimulated chimps throwing their same right-wing crap. As for his assertion about CUPE's political agenda that the union has a political agenda to restore the centre-left to power in Vancouver, it's not borne out by material fact. Vision and COPE councillors voted for the Foley recommendations, Locals 391 and 1004 either voted against or not enough in support to adopt those recommendations.

I think what has seriously pissed me off over the duration of this strike is the number of people who want to argue with me about it, yet are completely gutless about where they really stand. For all of you who try to qualify your hatred of union workers with such ass-covering rhetoric as "I'm not anti-union, but..." or "I'm not really right wing, but..." just say what you really mean or shut up. Why do I prefer Conservatives to Liberals? The Conservatives are bastards, but at least they're up front about it.

Anyway, I may need to warm up for a few days before returning to form, so stay tuned.



This page is on an emergency hiatus as a result of a series of harrasing and threatening e-mails I have been receiving with respect to my position on the Vancouver civic workers strike.

For those of you scoring at home: I don't have a problem with you bashing me on babble. I don't mind you bashing me in my comments section (at least until you whip out the 'babykiller' stamp). I do however, draw the line at people tracking me down and trying to confront through my e-mail account at work. My union, and my employer take that quite seriously.

At present the appropriate people are investigating. Hopefully, regular programming will resume soon.


Take your baton and...

Rather than admit that trying to stage concerts behind a picket line at the Orpheum was a bad idea, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is citing 'union intimidation' as its rationale for cancelling its upcoming shows. Either Bramwell Tovey and the VSO board are overreacting to a single isolated incident at last Saturday's Sarah Chang concert (which happened to involve a single CUPE Local 15 member) which has yet to be heard before the courts, or they really do believe that striking workers exercising their democratic right to picket their employer constitutes a 'threat'.

This page hopes that for a serious crescendo of blowback to the VSO's exercise in class warfare. Already some union members who regularly go to the symphony are telling the VSO that after being branded a 'threat', they will be taking their entertainment dollar elsewhere. Note to CUPE 2950 member Bill Pollard (who's interviewed in the linked story): I don't know how much you know about your own Local, but did you think of mentioning that the VSO could have moved their shows to the Chan Centre at UBC, where your own members work?

Cancelling the concerts only plays up to the West Side, NPA-voting, blue-haired season ticket base who are aghast about rubbing up against the ghastly hoi polloi who take their tickets and serve their drinks outside the Orpheum's front door. How dare they publicly state they have a right to their dignity and some of this province's apparent prosperity! It's not 'union intimidation', it's trying to intimidate the union by sucking up to their City Hall landlord and scapegoating CUPE in the media.

Maybe Mr. Pollard could join this page in taking out a restraining order against the VSO. At the least, the VSO should be barred from playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic, i.e. 'Solidarity Forever' or Aaron Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man again.


Short week

Busy, busy, busy - this page will return with a new episode on Thurday, October 4.


Gateway to Nasty

NDP Leader Carole James has come out against the Gateway Project...sort of.

James' position is that the most immediate and cost-effective way to relieve traffic congestion in the Lower Mainland is to immediately invest in a massive expansion of public transit. She doesn't completely rule out twinning the Port Mann Bridge someday, but that someday comes well after commuters have been treated to expanded bus networks and light rail service south of the Fraser River. James' stance on Gateway is an example of why a growing number of New Democrats, rightly or wrongly, want to dump her as their leader. Her position is populist, pragmatic, and astute. She's framed the issue in popular terms of the public wanting action now, and ruling out twinning the bridge altogether would have drawn the ire of Surrey's NDP MLAs. The problem is in our current era of Liberal big lie thug politics, this kind of moderation simply doesn't fly.

Since taking office in 2001, the Liberals have redefined the term 'good government' to mean how well they can appease their supporters (in the case of Gateway, the construction companies and auto dealers who bankroll the party) and manipulate the media to manufacture support for initiatives that their supporters can profit from at the expense of the public. It's not about logic or consensus cost-effectiveness, it's about winning and crushing your opponents.

The problem for James and the NDP is that being right isn't enough because British Columbians are conditioned to attack dog politics. James was handed a lot of credit for the party's electoral turnaround in 2005, but it wouldn't have happened without the tough-as-nails tag team of Joy MacPhail and Jenny Kwan in the Legislature. Frankly, James lets too much go. When Kevin Falcon says that James arguing against twinning the Port Mann "arguing directly contrary to the position that her government took.", something needs to be said about leaders having the wisdom to revisit important policy, and the fact that Glenn Clark is on Jimmy Pattison's payroll, not the NDP's.

Opposing Gateway presents a real opportunity for the NDP to articulate a sound alternative vision to the Liberals' record of tax cuts for the rich and public-private porkbarelling. Certainly, one needs a good grasp of the facts, but one also needs a good grasp around the neck of your opponents.


Move along, Barney

Stanley Park has had its share of adversity over the past few years: the murder of Aaron Webster, the senseless beating of Ji-Won Park, threats of forest fires, windstorms that devastated popular forest areas and put the Seawall out of commission, and the lack of park maintenance resulting from the ongoing civic strike. The Vancouver Parks Board (VPB) needs to address critical issues of safety and security in order to encourage Vancouverites to return to the park that was once the jewel in this city's crown. Unfortunately, the Park Board has their own ideas about how to bring people back: giant robot dinosaurs!

The VPB thinks this idea is so great that they tried to hide it from their own elected Commissioners. Instead of letting residents and visitors enjoy the natural splendor of forests, gardens, and views of Coal Harbour and English Bay, we will be expected to tolerate hoards of slack-jawed trailer trash tourists shelling out to drag their squealing progeny past mechanical behemoths in a cheezy effort to transform our city park into a theme park. This page shudders to think what's next. If an NPA majority is returned to Council after the next civic election, their Developer overlords may get to sink their teeth into Hastings Park after all, which at this rate, will put Playland somewhere next to the Causeway....


Mama's Boy?

This page extends his condolences to Premier Gordon Campbell for the passing of his mother, Peg Campbell, at the age of 82. As I know from experience, it's never easy to lose a parent at any age. However, the loss of a parent is poignant milestone in all of our lives, and gives pause for reflection. In fact the Premier may want to reflect a little harder on the memory of his mother raising him and his three siblings on a school secretary's salary after his father succumbed to alcoholism and suicide. I don't think he's learned a thing from that experience.

This page has made it clear on a few occasions that the Gordon Campbell is a man who has some serious issues and has no business acting as Premier of British Columbia. It's highly disturbing to invoke his mother's struggles to raise her children as rational for his Liberal government's reckless 25% tax cut shortly after taking office in 2001:

"I always ask myself, when government takes money out of your paycheque would Peg Campbell say 'thank you very much' for taking that money?' I can't remember my mom ever waking up the day after getting her paycheque and saying I've just got too much here to spend on the kids."

Campbell's 25% tax cut in 2001 went across the board, creating significant savings only for the wealthy in B.C., and at the same time decimated the province's revenue base. This 'structural deficit' laid the groundwork for an expansion of user fees and increased MSP premiums, the elimination of vital social programs, and the Liberals' unforgivable tearing up of legally binding collective agreements. Mr. Premier, it's one thing when the government takes money out of a paycheque, it's another thing to take away someone's paycheque altogether: that's why the Supreme Court called you on it. As for the Liberals war on welfare, did it ever occur to the Premier that the experience of his mother is what motivated governments to cast the social safety net that he and his corporate right-wing ilk are bent on tearing apart?

It is sad to the point of pitiful to hear the Premier use his personal grief to score political and ideological points. I can extend my sympathies to him and his family for their loss, but every day this page sympathizes with the people and communities who are forced to put up with the most arrogant Provincial government in Canadian history.


UVIC Students Society holds off Military Offensive

Student politics at B.C. Universities never cease to bemuse this page. It's always a marginal handful of idealistic go-getters who run for actually run for office, and are subsequently ignored by an apathetic student population. When a students union or society use whatever mandate has been left lying around for them to make an actual, honest, courageous decision, the hitherto oblivious backpack horde screams bloody murder and yelps for heads to roll.

Such is the case with the University of Victoria Students Society banning the Canadian Armed Forces from an upcoming career fair at their Student Union Building. According to President Tracey Ho, the Student Society executive believes that recruiters are less than upfront about the 'psychological, emotional, and physical impact' that Armed Forces personnel face when approaching potential recruits. This page can't confirm that point specifically, but I do know that at the Forces' pavilion at last month's Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, I had a very difficult getting any of troops to mention the word 'Afghanistan'. By the way, the souvenir 'Support Our Troops' dog tags you passed out at taxpayers' expense were a nice touch.

Nonetheless, the good little boys and girls at UVIC who vote Conservative like their mommies and daddies feel so upset by their ELECTED representatives that they're passing around a petition to have the entire Student Society Executive removed from office. Unlike the Student Society elections where candidates debated the issues in hostile obscurity, the wannabe chickenhawks are aided and abetted by such champions of free speech as the Globe and Mail's Gary Mason, who described the Society's decision as "an insult to the intelligence" of UVIC's student body.

Wrong. The real insult, added to injury, is exposing students, who are facing academic and financial pressures far more crushing than any class before them, to recruiters hungry for fresh meat to grind on the Kandahar killing fields. Any UVIC student who is that gung-ho to serve is more than welcome (and intelligent enough) to report to 827 Fort Street in Victoria from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Noon to 4:00 on Saturdays. A career fair isn't about 'getting both sides of the story', it's about getting a job. Do the upset UVIC students think it would have been better if the Forces were invited and their efforts ended up getting disrupted by demonstrating peace activists?

This is what happens when you don't pay attention to who's running for office, and you don't vote. If you can't be bothered to exercise your democratic freedoms, suck it up and don't cry to the media about how the army can't come to your school to tell you about how they're 'protecting' your freedoms.


Get off the stage

Last weekend, this page had the pleasure, and misfortune of attending the 'Best of the Fest' performance at the Vancouver Comedy Festival. I usually enjoy stand-up comedy, so Walnut Boat and I opted for this variety platter on the premise that if any of the comics sucked that hard, they wouldn't be on stage that much.

The 'comedian' who was on at the end of the first half of the show should be glad I didn't quite catch his name, and I was sitting in the balcony. It was a relatively weak evening as most of the talent delivered material for a suburban, comfortable upper middle class who likes things the way they are, annoying for someone like me who comes from the George Carlin/Chris Rock school of invective. This 'comedian' who I did hear is a writer for Rick Mercer's weekly suck-up session on the CBC, went, in this page's opinion, a little too far.

Had this page been sitting anywhere near this 'comedian' when he sniped that he would "rather give money to support the troops than to those idiots on the sidewalks with their cardboard resumes", rest assured, he would not have finished his five minutes. The usual West Side fascists and Fraser Valley troglodytes laughed and applauded, but the rest of us managed an outraged glaring silence that had this fool retreating into weak camping anecdotes. Some of us still remember the words of a former Vancouver Mayor who opened his election campaign with the words "No one is disposable". Had I been seething a little less to come up with a decent heckle, it would have been "If I wanted bullsh*t right wing commentary, I would have picked up the National Post!"

Unfortunately, that wouldn't have worked either - as part of CanWest Global's sponsorship of the festival, they were giving out free copies of the Post in the lobby during the intermission. Jingoism and homeless bashing may be in vogue again, but they sure as hell aren't funny.