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'....