The 'Straight Talk Express' Turns North

Arizona Senator John McCain, on the verge of clinching the Republican nomination, is slowing down just before the finish line to give Canada a shout-out for enduring NAFTA and sending our young people to put themselves in harm's way for the questionable U.S. client regime in Kabul. This page just isn't feeling the love, and won't be voting for Mr. McCain. Or Mr. Huckabee. Or Mr. Obama. Or Ms. Clinton. Not even marking an 'X' for Ralph Nader. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there will be virtually no Canadians casting ballots for any of the leading (or following) Presidential candidates.

Maybe Mr. McCain wants to fill dead air and talk to people outside of the United States who are a little less aware of his plans to occupy Iraq in perpetuity. Maybe he's just trying to talk about something other than what exactly happened between him and Vicki Iseman. Or maybe, in mistaking Canada for a swing state, the guy just has a problem with his sense of direction, like a lot of other 71-year olds do.


Buy & Sell

Allegations have surfaced that in May of 2005, Conservative Party of Canda officials offered former Independent Surrey North MP Chuck Cadman a $1 million life insurance policy in exchange for his help in taking down the Liberals.

This page says this story is old news. Cadman obviously didn't take the money died a couple of months later, and is remembered by pretty much everyone as a no-nonsense, straight-up crusader in his efforts to reform the criminal justice system. The real question is, what did these guys offer Stephane Dion?


Bully for You, Christy

Today marks Pink Shirt Day in British Columbia, the culmination of a campaign to discourage bullying in the province's schools. This page calls bullsh*t, and challenges any pink shirted-sheeple who don't like it to try and knock the cynical chip on my shoulder.

It's disgusting that even my own Union Local would be sucked in by a feel-good exercise orchestrated by one Christy Clark, who, during her toxic tenure as Education Minister, did more damage to BC's public schools than that kid will do to your son or daughter at the bike racks after school. Maybe bullying wouldn't be such a problem if Clark and her BC Lieberals had put more resources, like counselling and better training for teachers, into the school system to deal with it, instead of trying to beat up the BC Teachers Federation at every turn and turning our public schools into test factories for the Fraser Institute where the top students are skimmed off into private schools. The real problem, as Lisa Moy adeptly explains, isn't bullying but the racism, sexism, class warfare and homophobia which is the ongoing result of the sociopathic dog-eat-dog, kid-eat-kid, winner-take-all society that Christy and the Campbell gang think makes Brutish Columbia The Best Place on Earth (tm).

Clark says "if there's one thing that I could raise my son to be, it would be caring, compassionate person." Does she mean the same privileged infant who had a nanny and custom nursery built for him at the BC Legislature at taxpayers' expense, while NDP MLA Jenny Kwan had to have Grandma look after her baby daughter in an annex office with no running water when the Leg was sitting? For those of you scoring at home, looking out for Number One (or Little One) does not equal caring or compassion. If Sam Sullivan did one thing right in his political career, it happened three years ago when he stopped that selfish, grandstanding, hypocritical b*tch Christy Clark from even getting close to becoming Mayor of Vancouver. Fortunately, all she's been left with is her bully pulpit at CKNW, which means that all any of us have to do to avoid this career political bully is switch stations or turn off the radio.


Can I put shares on my credit card?

VISA is planning an Initial Public Offering. Wow...and this page thought that the dot-com crash and the sub-prime mortage crisis would have made someone think twice about trying to run the American (outside of the State of Nevada) Economy on the notion of Easy Money.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see a problem with putting one of the world's easiest credit sources on the stock market? How are potential VISA shareholders going to see a profit? This page doesn't have anything close to an economics degree, but I can only see two ways: either consumer spending has to increase substantially (which given high oil prices and other economic shocks appears very unlikely in the short term), or somebody has to raise interest rates.

Of course, raising interest rates just makes it harder for working people to pay their mortgages, which in turn makes it harder for them to pay for other things, which leads them to use credit cards more....anybody have a pair of scissors?


Seriously, who gives a #$@! who the winner is?

The 80th Academy Awards took place last night, and as it's been the habit of this page for several years now, this page could not be bothered and retired early to finish off Standard of Honor, the second novel in Jack Whyte's Templar Trilogy. This page carries almost as much as contempt for awards shows as he does for so-called 'reality TV', and doesn't grasp how anyone can regard these affairs as being competitive, let alone interesting.

The Oscars pulls in ratings similar to the Super Bowl, but unlike the Super Bowl, the Oscars are a subjective competition, not an objective and transparent one. Once I get the past the insipid commercial excess and patriotic overkill of 'the big game', I can actually see the New York Giants surprise the New England Patriots because of their control of the line of scrimmage, their relentless pursuit of Tom Brady, and the athletic prowess of their receiving corps. In contrast, I couldn't tell anyone why No Country for Old Men won Best Picture. It's a good movie, but is there any empirical standard that makes it any better than the other nominated movies, or movies that weren't nominated?

It's often been said that the standard for awarding the Oscars is more political than empirical, which is perhaps why I can't be bothered, because the politics involved seems to be the middlebrow American standard of personality cults, style over substance, the love/hate relationship with populism, and the inability to seriously engage voters. This page actually knew someone who was a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and the only reason he looked forward to the Oscars was getting to see the nominated movies for free.

Perhaps if there were more moments during the Oscars like Marlon Brando turning his acceptance speech over to the American Indian Movement or Michael Moore calling 'Shame' on the Bush Administration, I would be more willing to engage this annual cinematic bacchanal, but as it stands, the Oscars only remind this page that I'm not one of the cool kids, and that many Americans still mistake gaudy overhyped popularity contests for real democracy.


A Happy Planet at 12th and Cambie?

Gregor Robertson is running for Mayor of Vancouver.

Now that Peter Ladner has decided to throw a monkey wrench through the spokes of Sam Sullivan's NPA (Nasty Political A**holes) hegemony, the emerging split on the right makes a great opportunity for the Juice King to throw his hat in the ring. Robertson has done yeoman work for his Fairview constituents as an NDP MLA, and would certainly be seen as a fresh alternative alongside the colourless technocrat Ladner and Sullivan, arguably the biggest wheelchair-bound sociopathic thug since Lionel Barrymore in It's a Wonderful Life.

This page would have preferred to see Raymond Louie as Vision's Mayoral candidate, because of his City Council experience, his reputation as a young, hard-working family man (George Bailey to Sullivan's Old Man Potter) and the fact he could rip down Sullivan's bogus claim to have a mortal lock on Vancouver's Chinese community. However, Robertson does have a strong understanding of fiscal policy, understands how to build coalitions rather than polarize people, and has impeccable environmental credentials, compared to Sullivan's 'Eco-Density' fraud. Vision, and the civic Left in Vancouver, are not going to find much better in a Mayoral candidate.


Bill C-484: It's On

"Never is a long time. What I'm saying is I have no desire to see that issue debated in the near future."

-Stephen Harper, on Abortion

The future is now: In less than a week, Parliament will vote on Bill C-484, 'The Unborn Victims of Crime Act'. Pay attention, because this page is only going to see this once: Bill C-484 is nothing more than a pathetic, underhanded, manipulative, vicious, disgusting attempt by the right wing Christofacists of the Conservative Party of Canada to rob Canadian Women of their reproductive rights and usher in a new dark age of misogyny.

The mainstream media, particulary the Stephen Harper syncophants at CanWest Global, are playing right along with this atrocity with their uniform silence about Bill C-484 and its chilling ramifications. This outright rape of women's freedom is only being discussed within the flimsy pretext of recent violent crimes committed against pregnant women and Trojan Horse push polls. If Stephane Dion and the Liberals have any brain cells left to rub together after toeing the Conservative line for the past year, they will realize that this is the wedge issue to simultaneously uproot, bludgeon and bury the evil right wing weeds of reactionary fundamentalism which have been poisoning this country since the emergence of the Reform Party.

Here's a petition link. This page usually refrains from gratutitous self-promotion, but I strongly encourage anyone reading to share this post with as many people as possible, particularly female people who after next will hopefully still be living in Canada instead of the Republic of Gilead.


You have the right to remain silent, and stay home

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has busted Coast Mountain Bus Company for its Absentee Management program, on the grounds that it discriminates against workers who have a physical or mental disability. This page has nothing but contempt for employers who try to harass and intimidate their employees through such dehumanizing tests of company loyalty, in a poor attempt to bypass provisions with collective agreements for sick time and medical appointments. Those provisions make their way into collective agreements because it's understood that one: sick or injured workers aren't going to return to health on the job, and two: specialists, let alone general practitioners, are seldom available during evenings and weekends AND accepting new patients.

Absentee Management, or Attendance Management as it's called by other employers, is the practice of expecting one's employees to work themselves to death by making them feel guilty about taking sick time or time for medical appointments. Most collective agreements have filters against abuse (such as the requirement of a doctor's note after x number of days). In this case, the abuse is in the eye of the employer, and this page congratulates the Tribunal for siding with the bus drivers, and the transit users who depend on them.


Carbon Tax Time

It appears that after today's budget, British Columbia will be the first Canadian province to implement a carbon tax. This page says its about time. As regular readers are more than aware, this page goes out of his way at every opportunity to sandbag the current regime in Victoria. However, every now and then even the most contemptuous of governments does something right. If British Columbia is going to even consider long-term, sustainable economic growth, the price of damaging the environment has to be factored in throughout the BC economy.

That being said, this page shares the concerns of NDP Finance Critic Bruce Ralston in that if all British Columbians live in the same environment, all British Columbians should pay their fair share to protect it. Dinging working people at the pumps while giving corporate polluters a free pass isn't going to work, and it will only remind voters of the BC Liberals' love of corporate camapaign contributions and contempt for the little guy. Also, a carbon tax implemented in BC to fight Greenhouse Gas emissions has to stay in BC to fight Greenhouse Gas emissions. No touchy-feely 'offset' purchases on the other side of the world, and certainly no Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) to let corporate BC to greenwash themselves and kickback a donation to the Liberals.

The only destination for any carbon tax can be identified in two words: Public Transit. The majority of Greenhouse Gas emissions come from private vehicles, and every step needs to be taken to take as many of them off the road as possible by making transit cheaper, faster, and more comfortable.


The Load to 2010
part 2: Shut Down or Shut Up

Over the past few weeks, this page has turned a deaf ear to the groups calling to stop the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, because it's not going to happen. The Games will go ahead. The Games have the potential to be a financial, social, and environmental catastrophe, but they are going ahead. In fact, this page is going to argue that the biggest reason why there have been so many unresolved problems surrounding these games is that the most vocal Olympic opponents are in fact, a problem in themselves.

First of all, some of the arguments put forth by the likes of the Anti-Poverty Committee are a little shaky, the most dubious being 'No Olympics on Stolen Land'. That's a hard sell to the general public who have been repeatedly told that VANOC has agreements with the four First Nations where the Games are being staged. Usually when something is being stolen, the theives don't make a token effort to give something back, which in this case would be some modicum of economic development for the affected Bands. It has been argued that in supporting the Olympics, the Chiefs and Band Councils have defied the wishes of their own people, particularly the marginalized among them. Unfortunately, that's an issue for the Bands to decide, if right-minded British Columbian were angry about a Treaty Referrendum which dictated right and wrong to First Nations, we also have to let them reach their own decisons about the Olympics.

Secondly, the 'No Games' crowd has been as bad as VANOC (and their corporate and government enablers) in generating a polarizing, all-or-nothing hype about the Olympics: This is what happens when you have the Greens and the Anarchists leading the parade: the parade gets lost and tries to shout itself down. Instead of actually focussing on issues like social housing, transit and the environment with a view beyond 2010, the simplistic argument has been repeated that this is all the fault of the Olympics, which would be great if it was actually true.

Sorry folks, but I've pointed my Golden Compass at two different worlds: one where Pyeonchang is hosting the 2010 Olympics, and another where that honour went to Salzburg. Guess what? In both those worlds, Vancovuer still has homelessness, crime, weak infrastructure and poor public transit. What galls me is that the years that should have been focussed on to mitigate the negative impact of the Olympics are 2008 and 2009: People who think the Olympics are going to destroy B.C. could have been working to engage the public to elect a few people people to prevent that from happening. Instead they chose to storm the barricades and throw rocks at the Royal Bank.

It's not like the public is in love with these games either. The call for Olympic volunteers was made this week, and fell on deaf ears in the Lower Mainland, 79% of CKNW listeners polled say they have no interest in working for VANOC for free. Unfortunately, the opposition to the Games decided to focus on a winner-take-all shutdown rather than working to hold VANOC accountable to the promises that were made to the IOC and to Vancouver voters in the 2003 referrendum on the Olympic bid. Two years to the Games, and they can't generate any enthusiasm either.


The Load to 2010
pt. 1: from Hoedown to Showdown

This week will mark the T-minus two year countdown to the XVI Olympic Winter Games here in Vancouver. This page, like a number of media outlets, is focussing a modicum of attention on this millstone...er...milestone, but I think I'm one of the few who's not a division of Bell Globemedia. Also, I'm not about to gush about how much better driving the Sea-to-Sky highway to Whistler is.

This two-year countdown can be framed in another event this week, the 20th anniversary of Calgary's Winter Olympics. This page lived in Calgary during that period, and if I could sum up the difference between the Games of 1988 and the Games of 2010 it would be like this: Calgary used the Olympics to build Calgary, while Vancouver is being used to build the Olympics. In 1981, Calgary wanted a light rail transit system, freeway improvements, and an NHL-calibre arena. In 2003, when Vancouver bid for the 2010 games, City Hall wanted mass transit in the Broadway Corridor and social housing. Why did Calgary end up filling its Olympic wish list while we ended up stuck with mass evictions and the Canada Line?

For one thing, Calgary, unlike Vancouver, has a Ward system at City Hall where Aldermen are directly held accountable by their own constituents, unlike the vicious little thugs who hide behing the NPA banner at 12th and Cambie. The upshot is that the ward system produces decisions that veer towards the pragmatic and the non-partisan, as opposed to the psychotic neoconservative machinations of Vancouver's 'Non-Partisan' Association (NPA). The NPA's bloodless coup in 2005 (aided and abetted by the phantom 'James' Green candidacy) spelled the end of the Vision Vancouver/COPE alliance, which, while shaky, would have provided far more oversight and demanded far more accountability from VANOC than the right-wing, free-market, Developers-Gone-Wild prediliction of the NPA.

In the run-up to the 2003 referrendum on the Olympic bid, Larry Campbell and Jim Green twisted the arms of VANOC to gain several concessions on Social Housing and the impact of the Games on Vancouver. Imagine if someone still had the authourity to make sure those concessions were implemented, as opposed to someone like Sam Sullivan idiotically spinning in his wheelchair with the Olympic flag. At the least, Vancouver could have had an Olympics about which we could have felt a little less ashamed, and a Games that actually did something for this city.


Seattle is the new Minneapolis

The Obamanom touched down in Seattle on Friday, the eve of Washington State's Democratic Caucuses. After touring an environmentally-friendly manufacturing plant with Mayor Greg Nickels and picking up the endorsement of Governor Christine Gregoire, the Illinois Senator spoke to a packed house at Key Arena, home of the NBA's Seattle Supersonics. Thousands had to be turned away by Seattle Police, which begs the question for this page as to why Obama's local organizers hadn't thought of booking Safeco Field: with the momentum he's carrying he could have filled all 47,000 seats, and they could have put up the retractable roof if it did rain.

Of all the states in the Union, there are two that this page feels I can 'get' because of either knowing enough people living there or spending enough time there: Minnesota and Washington. On Super Tuesday, Obama easily took Minnesota, and there's no reason why he won't take Washington this weekend. Like Washington, Minnesota has one predominant urban area (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle) that overshadows smaller, rural areas (Duluth, Spokane). Like Washington, Minnesota's economy is anchored on a handful of large corporations. Minnesota has 3M and General Mills, Seattle has Boeing and Microsoft. Both are surprisingly culturally diverse for being historically agrarian: Minnesota gave us both Garrison Keillor and Prince, Washington claims Bing Crosby and Kurt Cobain. Both States' Democratic Parties choose delegates by caucuses rather than a primary, a system which plays into Obama's charisma and oratorical charm.

One more thing: In both Minnesota and Washington, there is no sizeable African-American population. So, contrary to the racial profil...er....conventional wisdom which has been floated throughout the campaign, Minnesota proved that Obama doesn't need to exploit a sizeable African-American demographic (or any other demographic) to beat Hilary Clinton, he just needs to find more new voters than she does. Even though Washington was the first state to elect women to the Governor's office and both Senate seats, Hilary Clinton won't be hitting for the cycle in Washington. Look for the next big prize from the Democrats' electoral Cracker Jack box to fall into the hands of the Evergreen State's Obamaniacs.


Gung Hei Fat Choi!

Today marks the first day of the Lunar New Year 4706 - The Year of the Rat. Around the world, people will gather around the world to greet family members, share food, enjoy cultural events and hopefully make off with some serious Lai Tsi. Except perhaps in the People's Republic of China, where the Communist regime, like a lot of things, muscles in and tries to spoil any fun which doesn't portray the corrupt, hypocritcal 'revolution' in a positive light.


Knock the Vote

Canadians are becoming caught up in the excitement of the U.S. Presidential election campaign, which reached another peak yesterday with the Super Tuesday primaries. One poll reports that 15 percent of Canuck voters would drop their franchise for the next Federal Election in favour of a chance to elect America's 45th President. This page is not convinced that this is an entirely new, or just infrequent, phenomenom. Just four years ago in Portland, I made a cash donation to canvassers from the Democratic National Committee in the hopes that it would help drive George W. Bush from the White House. Canadians always get caught up with Presidential elections, just like we do with the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, American Idol, and any other cultural behemoth aimed at our TV screens from just south of us.

Morever, this page is concerned about the value of obsessing about America's next Commander in Chief this time around. Most of the attention surrounding yesterday's Super Tuesday results was focussed on the race between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic Nomination. Watching the returns on CNN, I didn't know if I was being subjected to The Best Political Team on Televison (tm), or the largest racial profiling project in American history. Besides exit polling based on gender, Countless exit polls were flashed showing preferences among African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, and Latino Americans for Senator Clinton and/or Senator Obama. At one point a panelist charged Obama with having a 'Latino problem' and that 'a history black-brown tension' in Houston did not bode well for that candidate in the upcoming Texas primary.

Maybe this page is still coming off the flu, but I don't remember Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper obsessing on the Republican side about exit polls showing support among followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for Mitt Romney, or among septugenarians for John McCain. Maybe it was the abscence of John Edwards, but for all the demographic profiling going on, CNN missed the two most important demographics of all: rich people and poor people, and how they voted.



The Overwaitea Food Group expects UFCW 1518 members to accept two-hour shifts at Save-On-Foods and Urban Fare stores. This page says that this had better be some flamboyant posturing on the part of B.C.'s grocery, outdoor ad and car king, or else his customers will be shopping somewhere else for a good long time. This page has heard from a number of sources since relocating to Vancouver about what a pillar in the community Mr. Pattison is, and how he right-sided Expo '86 when the fair was headed for financial and logistical oblivion. The only thing I've seen King Jimmy do that was actually nay modicum of clever was team up with Quebecor to produce the local free tabloid 24 Hours, hire Glen Clark to give as managing editor to give the impression of being an equal opportunity offender, and rake in the money while Bill Tielman took shots at his B.C. Liberal pals.

One of the payoffs Pattison and his slave-driving thugs among the business community received from the Lieberals in 2001 was the shredding of the B.C. Labour Code, including an end to the four-hour minimum shift. Employees without a union are expected to be at their employer's beck and call, drop in for an hour or two, then go back to whatever it was they were doing, like, working another job to meet the obscene cost of living in Metro Vancouver. Employees that do have a union, if they are in their right mind, are not going to stand to be treated like disrepected and disposable minimum wage meat puppets.

The bare minimum in the Labour Code is not a good place to start negotiations. This page has the impression The Pattison Group will stick by their hard-headed and assinine bargaining proposals, while running to Victoria for the Liberals to put more 'balance' into B.C.'s labour laws. In the meantime, UFCW 1518 has asked the public not to pursue a boycott at this time as it only hurts the members who are still on the job. However, once the pickets go up, expect a lot fewer new vehicles stuffed with Save-On-Foods grocery bags running around town. To the mouth-breathing worker haters among you: this is not a question of 'if you don't like your job, get a new one.' It's a question of how many, if the Pattisons of the world get their way, two-hour shift jobs will working families in British Columbia need to survive?


That's just Super

A couple of quick 'Super' picks:

-Super Bowl: Take the Giants against the spread.

-Super Tuesday: Clinton racks up more delegates than Obama, but not enough for the nomination.

There you have it - back next week.