Wisecracking beavers may be cross-bred with hippopotamus, bunnies, lizards, and other assorted 'critters' in bizarre abomination of natural and market laws

The dismantling of Canada's public infrastructure began in earnest during the 1990's, when our provincial phone companies were dismantled for profiteers who thought that they could deliver cheaper and better telecommunications services in a competitive, deregulated market. To this day, this page remains largely unconvinced, because I haven't seen anything that even vaguely resembles competition on the part of Canada's telcos.

Depending on what part of the country you live in, your home phone service comes from either a) Bell, or b) Telus. Even if you try ditching your home phone service and exclusively use your cell phone, 60% of the wireless market in Canada is split between these two, and the CRTC is reluctant to allow new players into the game.

If the slimy, customer-abusing, union-busting bastards at Telus have their way, you won't have any choice because Telus wants to buy Bell. Say what you want about the monopoly BC Tel used to have, but at least at one time that monopoly belonged to British Columbians, not to the whims of a market that could care less about consumers or workers.


Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose...

According to our evil lying fascist bastard friends at the Fraser Institute, we just passed Tax Freedom Day in British Columbia. Like a lot of sensible Canadians, this page regards the notion of tax "freedom" as relative to the point of condescending speciousness. It's one thing for governments to collect fewer taxes from citizens, it's quite another for governments to provide value for the tax dollars they collect from citizens. I'm not going to celebrate any tax "freedom" while the B.C. Liberals spend our money on such idiotic line items as:

-$44.5 million in bonuses for VANOC staff, despite the fact that the salaries they receive put them way ahead of any non-profit organization in British Columbia. John Furlong gets $300,000 a year, and no one really has any idea what he does because VANOC conducts their business at secret meetings surrounded by riot cops. Do you think Kim Kerr makes anywhere near that as Director of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association? Actually, Kerr would rather see $44.5 million go to social housing, which would make DERA's job a hell of a lot easier.

-Cash bonuses for ER doctors: It's bad enough that patients are shuttled through family doctors' offices as a result of fee-for-service billing that focuses on quantity over quality. It may be acceptable for people with the sniffles or tennis elbow, but people usually go to Emergency wards when something is seriously wrong. Do you want your ER physician to take his time and treat your correctly, or do you want him to take the money? Before you get too excited, just remember that you're in critical condition, not on Let's Make a Deal.

-Ignoring the Supreme Court of Canada ruling and continuing to layoff health care workers under Bill 29 is only making a bad situation worse. Many of us would have liked to see the court order the B.C. Liberal party to pay damages to over 8,000 (and counting) fired health care workers, but instead, the money will come out of the pockets of B.C. taxpayers. Kill good jobs that provide good tax revenue for the government, then have the taxpayers clean up the mess. Wow! Mean and stupid!

To summarize, the right-wing wastes of skin at the Fraser Institute can belch all they want about how much earlier British Columbians are working for themselves and not to pay their taxes. However, it's the vicious Social Darwinism they peddle though corporations and the media that keeps us from achieving the society we're paying for through those taxes.


No one expects the English Reformation!

After helping my neighbours celebrate their same-sex wedding last weekend, this page is watching with interest the Anglican (Episcopalian in the U.S.) Church of Canada's gathering in Winnipeg this week for a heated debate on what the church's position on same-sex marriage should be.

On the one hand, full credit to the Anglicans for gutting this out and proving that Canada's same-sex marriage legislation works. Individual religious organizations to determine their own level of comfort in performing same-sex marriages and not bully the state for a one-size-fits-all approach. There are a lot of progressive Anglicans who believe that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should enjoy the same rights, and rites, that everyone else does, and this page hopes that their arguments will prevail.

However, it's a little hard to take seriously any Anglican who cackles about the sanctity of marriage when the Church of England established itself around the fact that Henry VIII wouldn't take 'no' for an answer when he asked Pope Clement VII if he could dump Catherine of Aragon for Anne Boleyn back in 1527. Karl Marx once said that "Religion is the opiate of the masses", and some Anglicans must be putting back some pretty strong stuff to forget the last 480 years.


Just hang on? Hang on to what?

Kevin Falcon's advice to Cambie Village merchants who have seen their businesses devastated by construction on the Canada Line: just hang on and things will be fine. Falcon's manipulation and condescension about The Little Train Nobody Really Wanted is getting old, and lying about the future for Cambie merchants and residents just makes it worse. The Canada Line is not going to bring a rush of business into Cambie Village, it's going to bring business rushing underneath Cambie Village because Canada Line passengers (especially tourists) won't be able to see Cambie Village.

For those of you scoring at home, this 'marketing campaign' that was supposed to support Cambie merchants during RAV construction has done sweet F.A. In fact, a quick survey of the billboard and print ads shows the retail areas most prominently featured in the "Open for Business" campaign (to encourage shoppers to visited construction-affected areas) are Granville, Yaletown, and No. 3 Road. Unlike Cambie Village, none of those areas has an NDP MLA who introduced a Private Member's bill to directly compensate the devastated small businesses in his riding.

As for the "significant benefits" of the Canada Line's completion, those are difficult to grasp, especially since what the region really needed was east-west mass transit along Vancouver's Broadway Corridor to UBC. However, the "benefits" of the line's construction to date have been the bullying of municipal governments, lying to residents and small business owners about the disruptive "cut and cover" system of tunnelling, paying near-starvation wages to immigrant workers, and the collapse of private financing for what was supposed to be a "Public-Private" partnership.

And the Fast Ferries are supposed to be the biggest transportation debacle in B.C. history why?


Up, up and .... #*&#%*@!!

Today is the debut of Canada's very own No Fly List at airports across the country.

Oh, goody. After making us pay a surcharge to show up hours before an inevitably delayed flight, throw out our water bottles, unwrap our wedding presents, get notes from our doctor for our medication, shove our toiletries into tiny ziploc bags, and flash our ID to everyone at the airport shy of the people at the gift shop, we might not even be allowed to get on the plane after all.

The No Fly List is not an exercise in passenger security. Unless terrorists start flying under their real names, it's only exercising state power for the sake of exercising state power in a high-profile location. In fact, this page is looking forward to a trip this summer to prove this argument: a few weeks ago I signed a petition in support of removing an Iranian opposition party from their current status as a terrorist organization under Bill C-36. I may not be a big fan of Bush or Harper, but I'm no fan of Al Khamenei or Ahmadinejad either. Will that signature be enough for this page to end up drowning his anger at the airport bar? Watch this space in a few weeks to find out.



As part of their ongoing penance for their disgusting attempt to subject aboriginal treaty rights to the tyranny of the majority five years ago, Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals are considering ceding the University Golf Club, located in Campbell's riding of Vancouver - Point Grey, to the Musqueam First Nation.

Every now and then the vicious little overfed blind squirrels in Victoria find a nut that makes sense, and this page wouldn't mind seeing this one cracked open. As most regular readers are aware, I greatly enjoy a lot of sports, but there are two endeavours this page wouldn't mind having wiped from the face of the earth: auto racing and golf. If you can find another sport where gargantuan tracts of arable land are commandeered for the enjoyment of an elite few, I'll hate that sport too. Skiing comes close, but unlike golf courses, America's ski resorts don't consume more water in a year than the country's farms*.

The duffing elites who can afford the $70 greens fee are already screaming "betrayal" at the government. They're bitching about the loss of natural green space, oblivious to the facts that one, Pacific Spirit Regional Park (free admission) is nearby, and two, A coastal rainforest doesn't have sand traps or shaved grass.

If the Liberals do go ahead with transferring the land, there is little doubt that the Musqueam would shut down the golf course - the land is just waaaay too valuable in Vancouver's extra-terrestrial inferno of a real estate market. Closing the golf club creates a few opportunities to stick it hard to the richie-rich NIMBYs in Point Grey with a few projects:
  • Fair market housing for aboriginal people,
  • Leasing retail space to service the exploding population in the UBC area (and at the same time curtailing commercial development on campus)
  • Ceding a right-of-way to the UBC, the largest commuter destination in the Lower Mainland, making it that much easier to finally build mass transit to campus

As for the gold card-flashing, SUV-driving, Mike Weir wannabe suckholes in Point Grey: if they don't like it, let 'em vote NDP and book a tee time at the Stanley Park Pitch n' Putt.

*Harper's index


Calgary is the new Edmonton

Many political observers are claiming that Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and his Conservative government received a wake-up call in Tuesday night's by election victory by Liberal Craig Chiffins in the Ralph Klein's former riding of Calgary-Elbow. However, it could be as easily said that with Klein's personality cult retreating into obscurity, Calgary Elbow voters finally woke up from their 14 year slumber of selfish ignorance and realized that what used to be "Ralph's Team" isn't worth rooting for anymore.

This page had the misfortune of living in Calgary for most of the Klein era, when the city drifted from the promise of a cosmopolitan post-1988 Olympic legacy to being crafted in the former Premier's bullying, alcoholic, misogynist image. Today's shiny new Calgary Liberal voters didn't seem to have a problem with Klein's government blowing up the Calgary General Hospital, punting the University of Calgary to the bottom of national rankings, bashing the rapidly-growing homeless population (who were served by more privatized liquor stores than shelters), and cheering on its union-busting propaganda arm, the Calgary Herald during the newsroom strike of 1999/2000. For some reason, poor government is only an issue for these people when the economy is doing well, as opposed to when their government was lying about a phantom deficit crisis.

In 1986, the Alberta New Democrats swept Edmonton because Don Getty's Conservatives didn't appear to give a rat's ass about what was going on the provincial capital. Does Chiffins' victory foretell a similar sweep the next time down the electoral road, and will that mean real change for Albertans? This page doubts it: the Alberta Liberals reached their electoral peak in 1993 with 30 seats on the promise of "brutal cuts" vs. the Conservatives "massive cuts". I am sure RevMod Don will jump in at some point and claim that Kevin Taft isn't Gordon Campbell. I'm familiar with Mr. Taft's outstanding academic work in analysing and debunking the redneck reactionary bullsh*t that passes for government policy among our neighbours to the east, but he's still leading a Liberal Party in Alberta. Besides, at one time, Gordon Campbell wasn't Gordon Campbell either.


Canadian "Taxpayers" Failure

Earlier today, I had a post up about feeling depressed which I've subsequently pulled. It appears all I needed was a good laugh from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

If the CTF really was a federation of Canadian taxpayers, this exercise in malicious prosecution never would have gone as far as it did. This federation is really just another bellicose right-wing corporate lobby trading on political mythologies like the self-serving public servant. A lot of real taxpayers are parents who understand what BC teachers went through in 2005. They understand the difference between being upset at the inconvenience of a labour dispute and ideology-driven harassment of teachers. Outside of Christy Clark, this page can't think of anyone who would sign up to sue people fighting for smaller class sizes and support for special needs students.

The CTF has every right to be disappointed that their attack on the B.C. Teachers Federation isn't going ahead - it's still a free country. They just don't have the right to be surprised.


I got your 'flexibility' right here...

Although Gordon Campbell is doing his best to keep up his usual facade of an aloof, buttoned-down arrogant sociopath, Friday's Supreme Court of Canada ruling still forces his BC Liberal administration to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Campbell says his government won't rewrite Bill 29 without maintaining "flexibility" in B.C.'s health care system. However, as anyone who has been paying attention knows, "flexibility" is BC Liberal-speak for continuing to fire front-line health care workers and feeding their jobs to multinational corporations (or smaller companies that support the BC Liberals).

The Liberals have 12 months to either scrap fix Bill 29, and of course will try do it with as little public scrutiny as possible. Can these capitalist lapdogs comply with the court ruling and still deliver for their corporate masters? Let's take a look at a few of the options:

Option 1: Invoke the Notwithstanding Clause - Since the ruling establishes Free Collective Bargaining as a Charter Right, why not just opt out of the charter on this one? Mind you, If this page wasn't from this country and I was looking to invest some money, I don't think it would be in the province where contract law isn't a constitutional right.

Option 2: Pull a 'Ralph Klein' - in 1994 the Alberta Conservatives used a phony deficit 'crisis' to pull the rug out from public sector workers. Their unions were told that the government needed a 5% rollback to prevent layoffs. The unions took the layoff notices, and almost immediately, many of their members were quickly axed. Of course, the whole Bill 29 mess started with Campbell stabbing people in the back...

Option 3: The Fake Consensus - While this page expects the Liberals to shun transparency, there is always the chance they could go the other way and manufacture themselves a little consent. Instead of sitting the Legislature this fall, they may opt to gather around their pals from the Fraser Institute and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation at the so-called "Conversation" on Health to bitch about apocryphal hospital janitors in Vancouver making 17 dollars an hour.

Option 4: Self-Destruct - If there's one thing BC governments of any stripe know how to do, it's devolving and reorganizing the health care system for the sake of devolving and reorganizing the health care system. Bring back Hospital Boards and shut down Regional Health Authorities, disband or replace the Health Employers Association of BC, anything to make it look like the people who were responsible aren't around anymore. Unfortunately for the Liberals, shuffling the deck chairs means a few of those friends may get a deck chair upside the head.

Option 5: Wait until it blows over - If Gordon Campbell didn't have to resign after being found guilty of drunk driving, why should the Supreme Court of Canada be able to tell him what to do about ripping up collective agreements? It's not like a Stephen Harper federal government is going to be big on enforcing any pro-union rulings out of the Supreme Court anyway.


And sometimes, I'm pleasantly surprised...

Yesterday's ruling at the Supreme Court of Canada regarding Bill 29 almost makes me want to take back my comments about the difficulty working people have finding justice in the courts.

For many HEU members, justice delayed is justice denied. The labour movement believes in making its members whole after a dispute, but I don't know the Caretaker at BC Children's Hospital who's now selling homeless newspapers at Broadway and Main is going to be made whole. After Bill 29, many of the familiar faces at hospitals around Vancouver simply disappeared, which was quite unsettling given that this page heard one or two so upset by their employers' treatment they openly considered not being heard of from anywhere ever again.

However, the crime against reason, compassion and justice that is Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberal party has finally been wounded, and will be made to pay for the lives that Bill 29 destroyed. This page hopes that Campbell is choking on his Martini in regret.

Campbell gave an interview to the HEU newsletter in November of 2000 in which he said "I do not believe in ripping up collective agreements". You lied, Mr. Premier, and the highest court has ruled your lie violates our nation's greatest principles. Resign, you lying, drunk-driving, arrogant, hypocritical sack of shit.


Drop the lawsuit and pick up a picket sign.

CIBC bank teller Dara Fresco is tired of working unpaid overtime. To that end she's filing a class-action lawsuit against her employer. For those of you scoring at home, this is probably the saddest example of working people's ignorance of their own history this page has seen in quite a while, both because of Ms. Fresco's ignorance and the pitiful chances her and her co-workers would have in court against a major international financial institution who can use their connections and deep pockets to crush them like so many misprinted deposit slips.

When workers aren't being paid overtime, or being underpaid, or being subjected to unsafe working conditions and/or harassment, we don't cry to a lawyer or run to the courts. We organize, damnit! While a bank may not be the most ideologically predisposed environment to pass around the union cards, it hasn't stopped workers at credit unions or the Alberta Treasury Branch. The bank can tie up a lawsuit in court as long as they want, but they can't screw around with their own workers once their union allies start talking about moving their formidable pension funds.

However, if Ms. Fresco and her colleagues think they're somehow 'better' than forming a union, they should try to remember where laws concerning overtime, pensions, safe working conditions, vacations, and everything else that makes our working lives bearable came from. Power yields nothing without a demand, it never has and it never will.


Small minds in Big Valley

It's hard not consider Alberta the land of radical right-wing redneck reactionary rubes when the Big Valley Creation Science Museum opens this week. Just like Walnut Boat, this page bristles at the term 'Creation Science' because the truth is, there's no science involved.

While Creationism and Evolution are both considered theories, the term 'theory' is regularly applied to such endeavours as art, music, and philosophy. It's the hypothesis that forges the anchor of the scientific method: maybe it's time rational people stopped taking the church's bait and started referring to evolution as a hypothesis. What's the difference between a theory and a hypothesis? There are scientists out there conducting research to prove the hypothesis, and are willing to live the fact that the facts might not bear it out. A theory, on the other hand, just sits there and hopes the facts will bend to its will.

However, to be fair, there is substantial and well-known evidence that humans and dinosaurs lived together at one time. Unfortunately for the nutbars in Big Valley waiting on a tourism bonanza, there are far more entertaining places for future generations to believe it.


Whoah logo

Remember all the complaining about Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics logo? Check this out the logo for London's Summer Games in 2012:

This page has no idea what the image is supposed to represent. My best guess that if you are one of nearly 2 million displaced by recent Olympic Games, it looks like what you're probably living in (or under).


Hoard office supplies? Hell yeah!

This page advises his readers to empty your savings accounts, cash in your RRSPs, max your credit cards, and shake out your Mom's purse for an urgent trip to your nearest office supply store. If you are at all serious about a life of prosperity and financial security for you and your descendants, you must heed my advice and buy every single paper shredder that you can get your trembling hands on.

After Judge Bennett's ruling in the Basi-Virk trial yesterday, it won't be long for the BC Liberals, in a desperate attempt to cover their corrupt, arrogant asses to burn out every shredder they have. Say no to the first offer, and make the bastards pay in cash.


Abbey needs a bitchslap

If anyone thought that the BC Liberal assault on front-line health care workers was over, one only needs to take a look at the 160 members of the Hospital Employees Union being laid off at Nanaimo Seniors Village. The Bill 29 shell game of rotating contractors, union busting, and privatization at all costs continues, no matter how much pain and trauma it inflicts on health care workers, the patients they serve, and the communities they live in.

Giving Union workers the pink slip in a misguided attempt to shave the bottom line is one thing, but what's particularly repulsive to this page is that the owners of the Nanaimo Seniors Village (Retirement Concepts) are replacing the HEU members with non-Union labour from Abbey Therapeutic Services of Chilliwack. Placing material such as "ATS is a non-union company therefore union activity is prohibited. Any union activity is grounds for immediate dismissal." puts Abbey at a level with Wal-Mart in terms of anti-worker viciousness, and also violates the Conventions of the International Labour Organization of the United Nations, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and what's left of the British Columbia Labour Code.

This is not how a competent and caring society treats its elders, nor the hardworking people who look after them. Of course, with the Liberals planning the cancel the Fall session of the Legislature, they won't be around to be held accountable for the bleak September that Bill 29 inflicted four years ago.


Pedal to the mettle

Today marks the end of Bike to Work Week and the beginning of Bike Month in Vancouver. This page is a former regular cycling commuter, but as a result of a change in employment, I switched my religious affiliation to Pedestrian. The distance between my home and my office makes for a pleasant walk, and on the bike it would be a short and stilted commute.

While this city puts the rest of the country in terms of the number of active cyclists, we are still, in some respects, a few spokes short of a wheel. Cycling connections to other Lower Mainland municipalities remain inconvenient because of the megaproject obsessions of Translink and the Ministry of Transportation. Bad driver behaviour continues to threaten cyclists, particularly hotheaded leadfoots who treat cyclists as a threat to their fuel-injected manhood and equate the term "Bikeway" with the term "shortcut". It also doesn't help that many cyclists undercut the credibility of fellow riders by refusing to wear helmets, ride on sidewalks or against the traffic, and pass others without signalling.

While its one thing to celebrate our two-wheeled wonders, it's another to, as far as events like the World Naked Bike Ride let us, seriously address these issues so that people are less reluctant to put down the car keys and pick up the handlebars. Enjoy the ride, and use what's under the helmet to help others join the ride.