Chequebook Civics are NSF

The Town Council in the Vancouver Island community of Ladysmith wants residents to pool their carbon tax rebate cheques together to purchase a trolley bus system. This page commends Mayor Rob Hutchins for good intentions, but the B.C. Liberals' belief that Climate Change can be successfully addressed through the whims of individuals and the markets is paving a Hell of a road for future generations. It looks like protecting the Environment is moving to a User Pay model because Gordon Campbell wants to keep what's left of government revenues for such 'green' initiatives as The Gateway Project, Raw Log Exports, and Offshore Oil Drilling.

Why do we elect Members of the Legislative Assembly? What's the primary function of government? Is it bribing the public and buying elections, or is it...I dunno...GOVERNING?! If this page wanted the Libertarian gutlessness of the Province cutting me a cheque and telling me to figure something out on my own, I could have just moved back to Alberta. Victoria could have simply provided funding for public transit in Ladysmith, instead of expecting the locals to pony up their allowances for some public-private partnershipwreck of a bus system.


Lorne Again

Lorne Mayencourt is worried about rapidly disappearing rental housing in Vancouver's West End. He just realized this week that this was happening?

For those of you just joining us, Mayencourt is the B.C. Liberal MLA for Vancouver-Burrard, the constituency which includes the West End. Mayencourt has been their representative in Victoria since the 2001 election. Mayencourt did nothing when his government colleagues passed changes to the Residential Tenancy Act which allowed landlords to to save up rent increases over five years, and drive tenants out with cumulative rent increases of up to 20%. If that didn't work, Landlords could also use the new legislation to evict tenants for renovations, the purpose of renovations being to jack rents even higher when the tenants move back in.

Why would Mayencourt be worried? The more well-to-do condo owners that move into the riding and squeeze out struggling renters, the more likely it is that Burrard stays in Liberal hands. The more likely it is that any sense of community disappears as selfish NIMBYs start screaming for strict enforcement of Mayencourt's fascist pet project, the Safe Streets Act, and insist that the neighbourhood be remade in their selfish image. Anyone else notice how the Davie Village Business 'Improvement' Area ripped down the rainbow Pride banners from the lampposts along Davie Street? Anyone else wonder how that can happen on the watch of an openly Gay Member of the Legislative Assembly?

Of course, Mayencourt expects the City of Vancouver, which will more than likely be administered by a Vision Vancouver Council after November, to penalize property owners who convert rentals to condos, while the Liberals continue to wash their hands of the potential for an even greater housing crisis in the Lower Mainland. Is Mayencourt just trying to save face, or is he worried about another punch in the face?


What's wrong with this picture?

American Muslims are upset with the Obama campaign for barring two hijab-wearing supporters from appearing in photos with the Democratic Presidential nominee.

For a candidate reputed to reach across racial, ideological, and religious boundaries, Barrack Obama's path is clear: apologize and say 'cheese' with Hebba Aref and Shimaa Abdelfadeel. Any other response from the campaign panders to lowest common denominator bigotry. After going out of his way to point out that he is not a Muslim, this incident raises further questions about whether Obama is no more a 'Unity' candidate than John McSame, whose Rethuglican candidacy trades on a ready supply of Islamophobia.

This page works with a number of Muslims, some of them born in Saudi Arabia, just like Osama Bin Laden. I also work with a a few Americans, some of them born in the State of New York, just like Timothy McVeigh. I don't know if any of these Muslims or Americans would want to have their picture with me, but if they did, I would be honoured, and maybe I'd even get a second set of prints.


NDP Courts the Mullet Vote

Carole James and the BCNDP are taking a swing at the Campbell Carbon Tax, demanding that the Liberal government 'Axe the Gas Tax'. This page says be careful with that thing. Is it just me, or do any other New Democrats get nervous when the party takes positions nearly identical to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Vancouver Province? It's nice that James is drawing on a populist tradition seldom seen on the left since the days of Tommy Douglas and the CCF, but if I just wanted to hear dumbed down griping about high gas prices, I'd switch on CNN and watch Lou Dobbs for a while.

It's not enough to say 'Axe the Gas Tax': the principle of a carbon tax has merit, which is why James will be rushing to block the exits to keep converted Green Party members from rushing back to their myopic hovel of compostable capitalism. For every 4 X 4 driving Mullet in the Kootenays or Prince George that might vote NDP out of spite because he can't drive 55 (at an extra three cents a litre), there's a Scooter buzzing hipster in the Lower Mainland who won't because someone at Starbucks said that the environment is important. What's the difference between an axe and a double-edged sword when each can cut both ways?

If Carole James does lead the NDP to victory in 2009, what happens a couple of months, or years down the road when Translink and BC Transit need more money just to maintain capacity? What if a climate a change-related disaster (like the pine beetle infestation or the severe windstorms of 2007) elicits demands for the government to pull out all the stops to address climate change? Premier James will have little choice but to consider a tax at the gas pumps to go along with a cap and trade system. The NDP's tax may be fairer and be directly targeted to spending on the environment, as opposed to the Liberals greenwashed attempt to buy votes Carole Taylor says is a Carbon Tax, but it won't stop the Right-Wing Dogs of War in the media to cry havoc and scream for another yet incarnation of the Socreds to rise from the ashes of the Liberals' defeat to strangle the socialists in 2013.

What James needs to be talking about here is Just Transition: there is no reason why changing the economy to protect the environment has to leave anyone behind. She also needs to be telling the truth about the fact that taxes can be a good thing. Taxes aren't supposed to be for financing tax cuts for the rich, they're supposed to finance government programs, which are supposed to reflect the aspirations of the people. If the government was serious about fighting climate change, a carbon tax would go directly to things like public transit, green retrofits for public buildings, community fruit & vegetable gardens, and expanding passenger rail in the Highway 99/Interstate 5 corridor: How many cars are idling between White Rock and Blaine every weekend? Is it that a carbon tax is wrong, or is Campbell's carbon tax wrong?

A Socialist party should be agitating for coherent, collective solutions. Obviously, the laissez-faire, free market approach got us into this crisis, so why would anyone in their right mind think it's going to get us out of it? However, do you know what else brought us to the brink we're teetering on now? Lowest common denominator politics like 'Axe the tax'.


The Sky's The Limit

Is Air Canada's firing of 2000 employees

a) A response to rising fuel prices,

b) A message to remaining employees whose contract expires next year,

c) A passive-aggressive attempt to collect a government bailout, or

d) An attempt to soothe its panicky corporate and institutional shareholders?

This page picks d): Who's driving up fuel prices because of speculation in oil & gas futures, shifting the blame for a corporate culture of selfishness and ineptitude to an ever-dwindling roster of employees, and bankrolling governments who sign on for such free-market tomfoolery as 'Open Skies'?

Either way, air travel as we know it appears to be coming to an end. One would think that governments and corporations would be stepping in to promote alternatives, such as rail travel, but nobody's willing to invest in it like they are in guessing how much corn can be taken out of peoples' mouths for 'alternative' fuels or flogging pet toys online like they were doing at the turn of this century. Supply and Demand be damned: today's economy is the triumph of marketing over common sense.

A decade ago Eastern Europe finally figured out that Communism wasn't that great an idea. Could the rest of us be starting to feel the same way about Capitalism?


Robertson juiced to smack absentee landlords

After a rousing nominating meeting enjoyed by all not connected with Allan DeGenova, Vision Vancouver has elected Gregor Robertson as their nominee. As this page posted on Friday, most of this page's lack of an endorsement for Robertson came from a desire to see him remain as an MLA. However, if we see more positions coming from him like a tax on owners of vacant condominiums, who is this page to argue that 12th and Cambie isn't a better place for him?

It's now more pivotal than ever that Vancouverites put people in City Hall who are willing to stand up to the vicious cabal of real estate developers who treat Vancouver like their own game of Monopoly, brushing those in need of social housing off the board like so many potato chip crumbs. Peter Ladner and the NPA will continue welcome these cutthroats with open arms, and after the outright betrayal of social housing provisions in the 2010 Olympic bid by VANOC and the NPA, the City of Vancouver can't afford to keep that welcome mat out any longer.


Vision Impaired

Vision Vancouver will stage their Mayoral nomination meeting this Sunday at the Croatian Cultural Centre. As COPE has opted to sit on the sidelines (for now) with respect to going after the big chair, this page actually took out a Vision membership, and will be marking my preferential ballot in the following order:

1. Raymond Louie - This is not a case, as the Samantha Orwell's of the world have suggested, of supporting Louie because he's the Chinese candidate. For this page it's a case of supporting Louie because he's the candidate from a Labour background: anybody who stood up for CEP during Conrad Black's reign of terror gets a big leg up from this page. Unlike his major competitor, Louie also knows how City Hall works - the platform may be limited, but he gets that it's only a three-year term and bigger initiatives could run up against the de facto Mayor of Vancouver and his Public-Private Partnershit Lieberal pals in Victoria.

2. Gregor Robertson - This page has lived in Vancouver long enough to understand that anybody who runs for Mayor needs a bit of a mean streak. Larry Campbell had it, Sam Sullivan had way too much of it, but Robertson doesn't have it. My selfish inner partisan tells me that the Juice King is doing way to good of a job as the MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, and making voting NDP palatable to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't. One would think that staring across from Emperor Gord every day in the Legislature, Robertson would know that not every former Vancouver Mayor makes a good Premier.

3. Allan De Genova - De Genova decided to throw his hat into the ring to spite Sam Sullivan for the Mayor's remaking of the NPA into Sam's own mean, barking dog, neck-stomping image. This Parks Board Commissioner is the only NPA candidate this page has ever voted for, particularly for his efforts to save Nat Bailey Stadium (and with it, pro baseball in Vancouver) from pre-2010 wrecking ball/redevelopment idiocy. This page would consider voting for De Genova for a Council position, but I'm not about to trust the big chair to anyone who thinks actively seeking support from Federal Liberals is a good idea - the last guy I heard say that was Ujjal Dosanjh.


What, me sorry?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has issued an apology on behalf of all Canadians to First Nations for the physical, emotional, and psychological abuse suffered by those who attended Residential Schools.

This page says that's nice, but it's too easy to score political points by extending apologies for past transgressions, and it's not always the afflicted party one is trying to reach out to. This is not a sincere effort towards reconciliation with Aboriginal people, this is an exercise in covering for the churches who ran the residential schools so that good Evangelical Christian Racist Tory voters can sleep at night knowing their man in Ottawa has done the heavy lifting. Harper is looking to get out in front of this parade of regret and steer it to the right well after progressive Christians have already addressed the residential schools issue.

A sincere effort towards building a relationship with First Nations would be something like restoring the Kelowna Accord or abiding by the United Nations Declaration on Aborginal Peoples: when is Harper going to call a press conference to apologize for trashing one and dismissing the other?


BC 150, History 0

Stan Hagen, the Minister for Tourism, Sport, and Arts doesn't want Victoria's Showcase Theatre Society to get a BC 150 grant to produce a play chronicling the life of Labour firebrand Ginger Goodwin. Is this page surprised? Not really. The overwhelming majority of British Columbians are indifferent to our history because successive right wing governments ignore our true history, and expect cultural institutions to do the same, as a means of social control.

Imagine how the Bill 29 dispute would have played out if someone besides the Hospital Employees Union and the B.C. Federation of Labour were conscious of the fact that there was a General Strike in Vancouver a year before the well-documented Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. What if people knew enough about the On-to-Ottawa Trek to draw comparisons to the Anti-Poverty Committee? Don't claim denying the grant for 'Dancing in the Coal Dust' isn't political when governments have a stake in manipulating popular history. If the public knows that this kind of Opposition, Resistance and Direct Action have happened before, and society has changed for the better as a result, how can governments scare people into submission and continue to consume the spoon-fed propaganda of 'The Best Place on Earth'?

History ain't pretty. If it is, it ain't worth mentioning. There's a reason why Storyeum failed miserably and sits as an empty shell in Gastown.


Stick between the Spokes

Mayor Sam Sullivan was upended by Councillor Peter Ladner at Sunday's Mayoral nomination meeting for the so-called 'Non-Partisan Association' (NPA).

A couple of things - a coalition of anti-labour, anti-progressive poor bashing thugs shouldn't be considered 'Non Partisan'. Vancouver is the one major city in Canada where there exists a substantial number of people who realize that Liberals and Conservatives are cut from the same selfish, elitist cloth, so do us a favour, drop the charade, and exhort people to vote for the Board of Trade Whores we know you are. Secondly, when will we start calling these mayoral nomination contests 'primaries'? Given the hall-busting recruiting which has been going on, particularly on the Vision Vancouver, it seems that almost as many people could be voting for mayoral nominees as will be voting for Council, School Board and Parks Board positions in the fall.

Despite the fear-mongering from the likes of Ian King and Peter Tsukmanis, Citizen Sam's Army of Darkness, the one which allegedly left Carole Taylor trembling in fear and clutching her hat instead of throwing it into the ring, never materialized to take down Ladner. Don't get me wrong, this page is glad to see Sullivan sent packing, and hopefully as he goes so go his deluded synchophants on Council and such policy blunders-in-waiting as 'EcoDensity', a Skytrain line to UBC, and further privatization of police operations. However, the Enemy of my Enemy is not this page's friend when voters are about to be deluded that the NPA is tacking towards moderation. This will be the same NPA who thinks that City Hall should be subservient to the whims of our B.C. Liberal overlords in Victoria, and demand that hardworking, cash-stressed homeowners pay more property taxes to pay for tax cuts dished out from 12th and Cambie to the Likes of Best Buy, Canadian Tire, and Wal-Mart.

The other loser besides Sullivan (who sensible voters know was a loser long before Sunday's vote) is Allan De Genova, who bolted from the NPA after personal disputes with Sullivan to seek Vision's nomination for the big chair. Spite might make for a few passably readable paragraphs on a blog, but it's not credible logic to lead the third largest city in Canada.