The Chong Retains the Shame

B.C. Community Services Ida Chong has shot down Vancouver Councillor Raymond Louie's request for an investigation into the Nantich Policy Society's donations to Sam Sullivan and the 'Non-Partisan' Association (NPA). The Nanitch Society claims to promote the well being of "marginalized or disabled community members", which, based on their recent history, would amount to Sullivan himself: disabled by a skiing accident and marginalized by his callous arrogance. Nanitch donated $5,136 to the NPA in 2004 and were heavily involved in Sullivan's efforts to crush representative democracy in Vancouver by stopping a Ward system from being implemented.

Chong claims that because Louie can't name anyone who specifically donated to Nanitch for the purposes of funnelling the NPA, the province won't proceed with an investigation. This page says back up a minute: isn't that why there should be an investigation? Or at the least proposed campaign finance reforms to the Vancouver Charter, to fix the most corrupt municipal electoral system in Canada?

Of course not, because even if the motives of the Nanitch Society, the NPA, and Sam Sullivan aren't transparent, the motives of Gordon Campbell and the B.C. Liberals are. Raymond Louie is a former Union organizer, sits a little to the left of the Vision Vancouver caucus, and is seeking his party's nomination for Mayor. Picking a fight with him makes things that much easier for the right-leaning Allan De Genova, the Parks Board Commissioner who defected from the NPA. A De Genova nomination virtually assures the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) runs its own candidate for Mayor, splitting the left of centre vote, handing the keys to 12th and Cambie back to the NPA, and the world would be kept safe for Real Estate developers, Bully Capitalists, and Mercenary Fascists who have the run of this 'fair' city. Just the way the Lieberals like it.

Also, the crushing defeat of the NPA in the 2002 civic election by the Coalition of Progressive Electors was instrumental in revitalizing social democrats and socialists in the Lower Mainland and made them feel good about themselves after the Lieberals swept the province a few months earlier. That success echoed in the NDP's comeback from 2 to 33 seats in the 2005 election, making it more than possible than Chong and the Lieberals don't want to see that kind of history repeating itself going into their 2009 campaign.

British Columbia: The Best Place on Earth.....to get away with it.


2010: The Beatdown Goes On

For those of you who are frustrated by China's information lockdown of the situation in Tibet and feel that you're missing out on something important, this page reminds you that you can watch law enforcement officials terrorize a marginalized and defenseless population right here in our own backyard.

All the people of the Downtown Eastside need is a Dalai Lama for the state propaganda machine to vilify and hurl accusations of wrecking the Olympics. In fact, the Dali Lama himself will be in the area in just a couple of weeks, any chance of a side trip to Vancouver to teach VANOC, City Hall, the VPD, and the rest of our Olympic Overlords a little something about compassion?


Take me out of the Ball Game

Last week, as Chinese authorities cut off Tibet from the outside world and brutalized its people, Major League Baseball announced plans for the second World Baseball Classic in the spring of 2009. This page's favourite game is moving in the right direction in distancing itself from the five-ring circus, albeit I wish it was moving consciously. MLB unfortunately felt obligated to bring the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres to Beijing for a couple of spring training games, as baseball, having been voted out of the Summer Games by the Eurocentric International Olympic Committee last year, makes its final Olympic appearance in China this summer.

This page doesn't see Baseball suffering from the lack of Olympic exposure. Soccer does just fine with its own global showcase, The World Cup. The Games of Beijing are poised to be a social and environmental catastrophe, and if there are no boycotts in the offing, at least very few people are going to be aware that baseball is being played at them. From the myopic rhetoric being spouted by Jacques Rogge about the Olympics not being political, it's obvious that the IOC has learned nothing from Berlin 1936, Mexico City 1968, or Moscow in 1980 about how the Olympics are used by brutal totalitarian regimes to legitimize themselves. They also never learned how African nations helped to bring about the collapse of South Africa's Apartheid regime by boycotting the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

Unfortunately, this page doesn't see the IOC learning anything from Beijing either. The Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010 and London's 2012 Summer Games will be used to claim that the Olympic ideals were right all along, and the cycle of hypocrisy will just renew itself. At least one major sport won't be taken for the ride next time around, and this page hopes that Baseball will realize how lucky they are.


China's Five Ring Circus of Death

On July 13, 2001, the world was a very different place. George W. Bush was getting ready to ignore FBI reports about Al-Qaida operatives learning to fly planes. Iraq was still contained by UN sanctions and had only begun concealing the Weapons of Mass Destruction which remain hidden to this day. Stephen Harper was tearing his original hair out watching the Canadian Alliance implode under Stockwell Day. Exposing oneself through 'Self-Generated Content' usually got people arrested. On July 13, 2001, the International Olympic Committee thought the Peoples' Republic of China could be reasoned with and gave Beijing the 2008 Olympics.

Almost seven years later, and with about five months before the Olympic Torch is relayed to the site of the Tianamen Square Massacre, it is glaringly apparent to everyone outside the Olympic 'Family' that the idea the Olympics would change the world's largest totalitarian dictatorship only proves the myopic and elitist delusions of Jacques Rogge and the Sporting Princes of Lusanne. The crackdown in Lhasa , complete with propaganda assaults against the Tibetan People and the Dalai Lama are only the first cracks in China's Great Wall of Olympic Failure. Athletes such as Haile Gebrselassie, the World Record holder in the Marathon, are refusing to choke down Beijing's pollution, and more will decide to stay home. If the air quality isn't bad enough, visiting athletes, spectators, and media will be subject to constant surveillance by the police and the military.

That is, if they are lucky enough to actually get into the country. Around the same time China was awarded these games, a friend of this page, who was born and raised near Shanghai, was barred from entering China and visiting the village where she was born and raised because she had committed the 'atrocity' of having previously visited Taiwan. I don't think she'll be missing much this summer in China, because as I recall, she's not a big fan of martial law, food riots, water shortages, or any of the other 'games' that Beijing will be hosting in August.

*For those of you scoring at home, had the IOC not awarded the Summer Games to Beijing that day, Vancouver would not have been forced to put up with the folly of the 2010 Winter Games because they would have gone somewhere else. The runner-up for the 2008 Summer Games was Toronto, which would have effectively eliminated Vancouver from bidding for the Winter games two years later.



At least that how Charlie Smith at the Georgia Straight tells it in a note he sent to this page yesterday:

Why don't you put your name on your posting? As for stabbing the NDP in the back, check out who we recommended in the federal campaigns of 2004 and 2006. Coad is a good candidate, but the NDP threw in the towel in this race, and that's why we didn't recommend her. It's not about the cover and highlighting young politicians. It's that the NDP didn't want the cover because it didn't want attention on this race. That's pretty sad if you ask me.

That's why Layton went to Washington on Monday. Coad would have benefited from being on the cover because it would have boosted her name recognition for when she ran in a race that she could win. If the NDP wanted to win this race, it would have had Libby Davies, Bill Siksay, and Peter Julian on the bridges with signs on election day and on the previous weekend...and their crack organizers would have been breaking news stories every three or four days the way they do in other campaigns that they want to win.

One NDP candidate told me in a joking way that he would put a bullet in someone's head if he could get on the cover of our paper in the week leading up to the election. It's a no-brainer, and you can peddle this rubbish all you want, but it's crap. We both know this.

The NDP stabbed this young woman in the back, which is a real shame. The other young New Democrats who ran in that part of town all appear to have left the party. If this one leaves, it's probably a bigger loss because she could be a political star who could do a hell of a lot of good in our community.

In two races, we've gone against the grain for very good reasons. In 2005, Vision politicians helped ruin the transit system, wanted to fill this town with cops, and would have sat on their heels as Gordo prepared to shut down a hospital. This time, the NDP didn't try its best. We called them on it both times. Now you're pissed and you say we stabbed the NDP in the back. What a joke.

Charlie Smith

This page has responsed direcly to Mr. Smith, to ask this question: If the NDP had in fact bailed on Coad's campaign, why didn't the Straight run with that instead of claiming the lack of a carbon tax (or what the BC Liberals claim is a carbon tax) and the photo-op no show as rationale for standing up a quality candidate? I'll keep you posted.


The Straight's Vancouver Quandry

Former BC Environment Minister Joyce Murray retained Vancouver Quadra for Stephane Dion and the Liberals by a few votes over Conservative Deborah Meredith. Make it 15 years and counting for the Conservatives failing to an elect an MP in the City of Vancouver. For those of you scoring at home, and as the handbills which keep showing up around the neighbourhood me, David Emerson wasn't elected as a Tory.

NDP candidate Rebecca Coad finished third with 15%, which is a damned good result given that Quadra is where the most old money outside of Shaughnessy and the British Properties lives, Coad isn't exactly a star candidate, and the Georgia Strait stabbed the NDP campaign in the back by endorsing Dan Grice of the Green Party over Coad. The Strait's rationale? "the federal NDP has refused to promote a carbon tax. In this one respect, its climate-change policy is more regressive than that of one MLA for the area, Premier Gordon Campbell." Obviously, the editorial board at the Strait mistakes greenwashed Alberta-style vote buying intellectual fraud for sound environmental policy. Funny, New Democrats didn't have a carbon tax in their platform when the party won endorsements from Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, and former Greens like Stuart Parker and Joan Russow defected. I guess for a magazine growing ever more reliant on full-page condo ads, it follows that they would kneecap a party that believes in social justice AND protecting the environment, as opposed to Elizabeth May's band of Happy-go-Lucky Organic Libertarians.

As for publicizing Coad's refusal to do a cover photo with Grice, and citing it as some of the rationale to deny her an endorsement, this page can only think of one remedy for the Straight's editorial board exercise in petty vindictiveness. She won't do a patronizing 'cute kids of the wacky left' photo op...WAAAAAHHH!!! Suck it up: In case anyone hasn't noticed, real New Democrats aren't interested in photo-ops with Greens as the media continues to lump both parties in the 'left' category, without considering many Greens' outright contempt for organized labour or the social safety net. Also, Coad isn't obligated to regard herself as 'young people in politics' simply because the Straight says so. The Jib-Jab style front page of last week's edition with a caricature of Coad shrugging only adds insult to insult. The next time the Straight bitches about the government trying to unfairly tax them out of existence, remind me not to pay attention.


Smashmouth Commentary

This page is in need of a little dental surgery - regular episodes resume March 18.


Two Years Sunk & Still Surfacing

The Transportation Safety Board's report into the sinking of the Queen of the North is in, and on first glance, like a lot of investigations, it raises as many questions as it answers. Make no mistake, the sinking of the Queen of the North at Hartley Bay in March of 2006 was tragic and it's only natural that some people feel frustrated by the lack of closure in the TSB report. However, unlike the BC Ferries' internal investigation, the sole purpose of which was to defame the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union for undertaking its legal obligation to protect its dues-paying members, absolve the corporation of any responsibility, and push David Hahn's privatization agenda even further, the purpose of the TSB investigation was to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

All the finger-pointing and union-bashing in the world is not going to raise the Queen or the two passengers who disappeared in the frigid waters of Hartley Bay. The misanthropic, screaming well-to-do reactionaries are firing at the BCFMWU and BC's Labour Movement in general across the discussion boards and call in shows, as if stripping the collective bargaining rights of everyone in the province will alleviate the prospect of further maritime catastrophe. What they're missing is that, despite the militancy generated out of enlightened self-interest during bargaining periods, most people who work in the public service are (sadly) oblivious to their own unions, and are probably more oblivious if they have, in fact, lit up a joint or two while trying to navigate large ocean-going vessels in the middle of the night as it's been insinuated in some quarters.

The prospect of more truth being revealed in a judicial inquiry remains, but if there's one thing this page has learned during his time in British Columbia, justice is glacial (just ask families of the Air India families, Robert Pickton's victims, or David Basi and Rob Virk) and often freezes out those seeking it. This page would like to think that the outcome would be different and BC Ferries and the employees involved would each take their true proportion of responsibility, but I'm not holding my breath. At least I can stop holding my breath so much while riding BC Ferries, thanks to the TSB report.


Seal of Disapproval

Regular readers of this page are more than aware that I find common cause with any number of activist groups. However, if there is one activist community that I find repeatedly insipid to the edge of intellectual fraud, it's the animal rights movement. The latest campaign from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, now playing on billboards and bus shelters across the Lower Mainland, only reinforces that point for me. Some disclosure here: I eat animals, I wear animals, I was born and raised in Northern Alberta, and I have known a number of people, including First Nations people, who hunt and fish for sustenance and trade. Some of them hail from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador where the seal hunt/harvest takes place. I attended the Calgary Stampede on a number of occasions when I lived in Alberta. I am filing a contribution to the BCSPCA on my tax return this year. While animals exhibit some degree of intelligence, they are by definition, not human. When my cat becomes the first Siamese-Canadian elected to the House of Commons, perhaps I'll change my mind, but not before.

What annoys me about the IFAW campaign is the adolescent moral relativism attached to it: "250, 000 baby seals are about to be slaughtered, and your bus is two minutes late. Get angry for the right reasons." Anyone who's a genuine progressive should be frustrated that the Pamela Andersons and Brigette Bardots of the world can buy a spotlight for a pet cause (pun intended)which is exists in relative isolation, and shove the issues that real matter out of that spotlight. The ads in Vancouver could have easily read "250,000 baby seals are being slaughtered, and you're bitching about the lack of social housing". It's just like how anti-war demonstrations have been bumped off the evening news by a handful of deluded exhibitionists who would 'rather go naked than wear fur'. The fate of a seals harvested on the Atlantic ice floes is simply nowhere near as important as why there may not be Atlantic ice floes in the near future.

The seals are not an endangered species, and in fact have tripled in population since the 1970's. The '250,000' baby seals (some IFAW material says 275,000 or 300,000) refers to the quota established by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, not the actual number of seals killed. Veterinarians have consistently reported that the killing is done in a humane manner. As for those cute little whitecoat baby seals that animal rights crusaders embrace as their mascots of moral purity? It's been illegal to hunt them since 1987. The only noticeable ecological effect of the seal hunt/harvest would be a slight increase in Cod populations, who would inevitably be eaten by other creatures, such as humans.

As for this page, I think I am, in fact, angry for the right reasons, which have nothing to do with Atlantic Canadians and First Nations people earning their livelihood in a sustainable and traditional industry. And I'm not angry with the IFAW, just annoyed..


Legalized Prostitution

In the State of New York, an elected official is found out to be in the company of people with questionable virtue who live off of the business of trading favours for money. While charged with no crimes, said elected official is overwhelmingly expected by the his colleauges, the media, and the community at large to resign.

In the Province of British Columbia, elected officials are also found out to be in the company of people with questionable virtue who live off the business of trading favours for money. However, unlike the State of New York, it's the one trading favours who gets charged with a criminal offence, and nobody really expects anyone to resign.


Justice: Not on the Map Yet

Here's a little known fact for readers outside of British Columbia: BC turns 150 years old this year. In 1858, after enough loyal British subjects had been dropped off to keep the original Coast Salish, Haida, and other First Nations people down and the Americans out, Governor James Douglas proclaimed the Crown Colony of British Columbia. 13 years later, BC would join Confederation, be ignored by the rest of Canada in perpetuity, and leave us to stage such elaborate, big-budget pleas for attention like Expo '86 and the 2010 Winter Olympics. This would be why the Provincial Government doesn't have anything by way of significant funds to commemorate this occasion, save for a few dopey TV spots and this exercise in historical revisionism being touted by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mike De Jong: renaming the Georgia Strait as The Salish Sea.

For those of you just joining us, the governing BC Liberals have been bending over backwards to secure the support of BC First Nations after their pathetic attempt to resolve any and all outstanding Aboriginal issues in the mail-in referendum of 2002. For those of you scoring at home, this page started his Hibachi with his referendum ballot, and enjoyed a couple of bratwursts with that nice, smoky, tyranny of the majority flavour. Since that time, Aboriginal policy in British Columbia has been front-loaded with all kinds of symbolic gestures, particularly around the upcoming Olympics, and what renaming the Strait is really about is just another way for the Liberals to say they're sorry without actually having to do anything and let them continue to smugly feel good about themselves.

It also appears that the Salish Sea is going to be the only pat on the collective head of BC's First Nations this year: why won't there won't be a Haida Bay or a Nisga'a Mountain put on the map? Simple - the traditional territory of the Coast Salish people is where the Olympics are being staged, and just like how the Tsawwaseen Treaty enabled the government to expand the Roberts Bank Superport, Liberals are all for recognizing the aspirations of Aboriginal Peoples if it means they can get something in return. If Mike De Jong, Gordon Campbell, and the rest of the gang in Victoria want to do something 'historic' for BC First Nations to mark this 150th anniversary, this page can suggest a few things:

-Build actual social housing so that impoverished aboriginal people living in BC's urban areas can live with dignity and turn their lives around.
-Join the lobby to make the Federal Government hurry up with creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the fate of aboriginal children who were sent to Residential Schools and never came home.
-Do away with a treaty negotiation process that relies on coercion, bribery, and pitting First Nations against each other.

I'm sure there are other ideas which are more constructive than changing the names on a map. This page encourages readers to share them with the powers that be so that First Nations can experience real positive change rather than just a name change.


Put a lid on it.

No, not a new roof for BC Place, but any last minute spending on a new roof for BC Place. If there's anything that is souring a growing number of Vancouverites on the 2010 Winter Olympics, it's the plethora of 11th hour projects which absolutely, positively have to be done before the Olympic Torch makes its way to the shores of False Creek that were never part of the original Olympic bid. It appears that much of PavCo's rationale for the last minute top-popping is the time tested engineering principle of 'wouldn't it be nice', i.e. to be able to shoot off fireworks at the Games' Opening and Closing and Ceremonies. As the Celebration of Fight...er...Light teaches us every summer, Vancouverites will endure any inconvenience, hardship, or threat to their personal safety for a few minutes of going 'ooooh' and 'aaaah' at all the pretty festive munitions, priorities be damned.

BC Place is not worth the investment, certainly not just for a couple of fireworks shows for the people lucky to have tickets to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. It is definitely not worth it while Greg Kerfoot waits in the wings to build a new waterfront stadium with his own money to vault his Vancouver Whitecaps into Major League Soccer. The dome is an outdated, overheated, uncomfortable acoustic nightmare which over the past few years has benefited no one but the defensive line of the B.C. Lions, and PavCo wants us to pay even more for it. Any new roof built on such a short timeline will require at least a minimal retrofit of the stadium, which will be performed by contractors at overheated pre-2010 rates.

If BC Place were demolished after the Olympics rather than needlessly dressed up before, the value of the real estate on which it sits would pay for thousands of units of social housing. Unfortunately, the psychotic rush to create the picture postcard perfect Olympic experience will leave Vancouver with only thousands of 'ooohs' and 'aaahs' drifting into the night air for a couple of nights in February 2010.


Park this Stupidity, Again.

The province is looking to raise property taxes in order to make up for abandoning the parking stall tax which was proposed to raise revenues for Translink. For those readers who live in the City of Vancouver, this shouldn't be anything new, it's just like how the NPA raised taxes on homeowners to lower them on their corporate friends. This isn't government run like a business, it's government run by business.

There was nothing wrong with the previous parking tax proposal, and in the wake of the recent Carbon Tax initiative and the Liberals' glacier-like move towards making motorists pay the true cost of driving, it's even more relevant now. Want to encourage the use of public transit? Implement a parking tax stringent enough to get rid of the ludicrous amount of 'free' parking available in the Lower Mainland, filter those people on to the transit system, give them a few weeks to bitch about the service and threaten to vote NDP, and in no time Kevin Falcon and his band of idiots in the Ministry of Transportation will cut their deluded bullsh*t about transportation 'choice' and get serious adequately funding public transit again.

Sure, the parking tax may take a little longer than to simply smack working families with another tax increase, but it goes a lot further to reducing congestion and greenhouse gases, and besides, it's more fair. Driving is the new Smoking, and motorists should be paying the true cost of their filthy activity by subsidizing public transit, not having transit users subsidizing Kevin Falcon's freeway fetish through our property taxes.


McCain turns Cheek, loses Face

Arizona Senator John McCain wrapped up the Republican Presidential nomination last night after trouncing Mike Huckabee in the Texas primary. For those of you scoring at home, Huckabee used two quotes from the Bible in his concession speech and one from baseball Hall-of-Famer George Brett. This page was left wondering what Jesus would do if he was ever caught using too much pine tar on his bat.

That was the good news for McCain. The bad news is that in going over the top as the G.O.P.'s standard-bearer, he now gets the endorsement of President George W. Bush. Oh boy, the stamp of approval from the worst President in American history, and the guy who had no qualms about push-polling South Carolina voters in the 2000 Republican primary about they would feel about McCain's illegitimate child. This isn't kiss and make up, it's kiss and throw up.

As for the Democrats, it appears the nomination tug of war will continue all the way to the Pepsi Center in Denver, after Hilary Clinton's big yank in Ohio. I projected some numbers here using my personal blend of polls and primary results in neighbouring states, and it looks very much like before it's all over, the superdelegates, the Michigan/Florida question, and maybe even the 26 delegates still pledged to John Edwards will all be back in play.


Albertans, Follow Me

This page extends his condolences to the Alberta New Democrats, Revmod Don and anyone else who lives in the province east to us who is progressive enough to grasp that the term 'Progressive' should never be attached to the term 'Conservative'. Progressive Albertans, I feel your pain about yesterday's landslide electoral mugging...er...victory for Ed Stelmach and the Conservatives, but I also feel fortunate to be in British Columbia where I don't have to accept that the Alberta electorate is always right.

Believe it or not, I tend to side with former Calgary Herald editor Catherine Ford, who was fond of saying that 'People elect the governments they deserve'. For some reason Albertans believe that in electing the same party 11 consecutive times, they will get the 'change' so strongly desired in opinion polls prior to and during the 2008 campaign. These people are either hypocrites, woefully naive, or as Ralph Klein liked to refer to them 'severely normal', and in their heavy-handed endorsement of Ed Stelmach's regime, they will get more of the same intransigence, corruption, social engineering and bone-headed right wing ideology, and they will deserve it.

Either way, these people are not worth your efforts, and I realized this a few months after I moved to Vancouver eight years ago. Despite the sinister machinations of Gordon Campbell and the BC Lieberals, I feel much happier living in a province that retains some of the trappings of democracy: fixed election dates, a referendum on changing the electoral system, voter recall, electoral boundaries set by demographic reality, legal protection for gays and lesbians that didn't have to be granted by the Supreme Court of Canada, an Environmental movement influential enough to make our government consider something resembling a carbon tax and a public transit strategy, and a Labour movement strong enough to threaten a General Strike and force that government to stop legislatively bullying front-line health care workers. It's also nice to have provincial elections where both major parties have a chance of winning, and the compassionate, progressive voters on the left who know better than 'let the good times roll' aren't resigned to banging their heads against the wall 30 minutes after the polls close.

As it appears that Alberta's boom will roll on in its familiar, haphazard, troglodyte manner, this page suggests that there is really only one strategy left for anyone who doesn't want to spend the rest of their lives under one-party rule: escape. You cannot save Albertans from themselves because your fates were sealed when the Tories started selling instant memberships to let them directly elect the Premier - legislative elections are a mere, much-ignored formality. That much control over the process makes it like Mexico under the PRI, but without the nice weather or cheap tequila.

Sooner or later, you will reach a point that your rent or housing payments in Calgary or Edmonton will equal the amount you would pay in Vancouver. If you're going to be that out of pocket, why not live somewhere where you can get a decent job, enjoy breathtaking scenery, and participate in a political culture that resembles a functioning democracy?