Monday, December 31, 2007

Front Fell Off


Coming Attractions

In the next few days, my new website will be ready. You will still read the same blog, but it will be relocated.

When the site, which is getting its last minute tune-ups, is put on the web, you will be the first to know.

Tim CHristensen Please Resign

In the past, I have called for the resignation of Tom Christensen, the Minister of Children & Families. I have also written personally to Mr. C. urging him to step down.

Well, try reading this morning's Sun report about the 26 recommendations following the murder of 3 year old Savannah Hall while "in care."

I say, "try reading..." because listening to Minister Christensen's waffling responses to each recommendation not fulfilled will make your blood boil.

THe High Cost of Idiocy

Yesterday, I wrote about the adolescent culture we live in - "Are you part of the REBEL NATION?"

Today we learn that 43 year old father and his 14 year old son had to be rescued from Grouse Mountain after snowboarding OUT OF BOUNDS.

This is a father?

Not only did this idiot cost our community a small fortune to operate the rescue team, but he PUT THE RESCUE TEAM MEMBERS' LIVES AT RISK.

Shouldn't sickening irresponsible juvenile anti-social fools like this be:

a) charged the full and total costs of their rescue;

b) charged with a criminal offense?

And why are their names not revealed?

Shouldn't we be allowed to point at them and yell, "SHAME!" when they come into their local liquor store?

Victor on Inclusiveness

Yesterday, I wrote about a story out of India with a Surrey connection -"Quote of the Day."

Today, Victor's follow-up on the joys of Canadian multi-culturalism:

Today's Province has a front page story about a murder contract allegedly arranged in India under the direction of a guy from Surrey BC. The issue at stake involved a young bride whose father could not put up a satisfactory dowry. Her last name was Kaur. That means princess. Every Sikh girl is named Princess. The perps all had the last name of Singh. That means Lion. Every Sikh guy is named lion. Silly me, but I would think a real "lion" would protect a poor "princess", not murder her for her poverty.

Then there was the delightful New Years fundraiser by the Ethiopian community at a community hall on Fraser. Two people shot. Silly me, I remember when community halls were places for local residents to celebrate weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, graduations, whatever. Not places to settle distant tribal disputes with blazing guns.

Are you feeling inclusive? Should we apologize to somebody? Anybody at all will do. We're Canadian.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Michael Moore's 2007 documentary, "Sicko," was harshly criticized as being "sophomoric" and filled with cheap tricks.

I found it to be neither.

I think he should be given a Congressional medal for putting the heat lamp on the single biggest pressing issue in American life today - 50,000,000 American men, women and children do NOT have medical insurance.

Each of them is always a cough away from a catastrophic personal disaster.

The HMO's are enormous profit-makers. Their simple m.o. is deny, deny, deny. So that even the millions who are insured are always at risk of not being covered by insurers and hospitals who regularly throw patients literally out into the cold.

The individual stories Moore tells are heart-breaking and shocking.

His analysis, reaching back to Nixon and Erlichman and Edgar Kaiser's Permanente HMO, is spot on and chilling.
His indictment of the AMA, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat Hillary Clinton's push for universal health care of a decade ago, and his dollar signs above the heads of various and sundry congressmen and senators who have profited from Big Pharma is equally damning.

The visits to Canada, England, France, and Cuba should be revelations for Americans.

Yes, we continue to have problems and iniquities here at home in our health care system.

But, we are so blessed to have the system we have.

In June 2005, I had heart surgery. Aside from the fact, that this miracle is now done routinely (There were 20 angioplasties performed that morning at VGH.), I was treated within ONE DAY and covered entirely by my universal health plan.

Rent "Sicko" from your local video store. It's a small revelation, and, if Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" deserved an Oscar, which it did, "Sicko" deserves several.

Art Pepper / Besame Mucho

Quote of the Day

From this morning's Province:

"Indian police record one case an hour of brides being violently ill-treated by their in-laws for failure to deliver dowry.

The Practice of giving dowry, widely acknowledged as a social evil in India, led to the murder or suicide of 7,618 women in India last year."

The whole messy story, which involves local Surrey residents, can be read here.

Are You Part of the Rebel Nation?

Both of the commenters in the post below (Two Great Responses...) refer to the "rebel" mentality that is so prevalent today.

Gee, I thought I was the only one who had noticed that we live in an utterly adolescent social disorder.

There is a Safeway store in my neighbourhood. Sharing the parking lot is a bank and a wine store. All over the red brick building that houses the bank and the wine store are white stencilled signs that say clearly and often, "No Parking."

There are so many parking spaces on three sides of the Safeway, that I have never seen the lot jammed and unable to take another car.

Yet...every single day, there are at least 3 cars gumming up the works parked next to the brick wall and directly under the "No Parking" signs.

Now, who is driving these cars? Teenagers? Criminals?

No. Just your average middle-aged, middle-class underachiever who just has to express his little personal rebellion in some way today.

I know that I live in the only city in the world where ignorant selfish drivers regularly turn left around round-abouts rather than drive the circle...and that includes City trucks and police.

Few drivers observe the right of pedestrians crossing an intersection. Many wave cheerily at you from the warm comfort of their giant monster SUV's while they splash in front of you in the rain.

The cell phone battle is lost. Almost all people yell indiscriminately on their phones wherever they may be. It seems to now be a given that my conversation is the most important sound in the vicinity.

Which I find peculiar, because I am so old that I still think my phone conversation is a private affair and I don't want you to hear it.

I watched Michael Moore's "Sicko" last night. A group of Americans living in Paris sat around a table in a restaurant and explained the beauties of the French medical system. What they didn't add was the obvious sense of civility they enjoyed.

O.K. The Province of British Columbia is only 150 years old.

But isn't it time we grew up?

Two Great Responses to Friday's Column

Well put, David.I frequent Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks. In the five minutes it took me to walk along Jericho Beach today, I counted a mere four dogs unleashed on the beach.My suspicion is that, had I asked those four dog owners whether or not they knew that the beach was off-limits for dogs (the signs were clearly not a deterrent), three would have told me to mind my own business; the fourth would have probably chosen more colorful language. Can't wait to navigate around half-decomposed fecal matter in the summer.Has the self-centered, 'my-rights-supercede-the-rules' attitude I see more often finally become de rigeur. Are we seeing the slow and painful death of community and the Golden Rule?Perhaps we just have to accept that more and more people view rules as mere suggestions that do not necessarily apply to them, like stop signs and spaces for handicap parking.

I also love dogs, in fact we have an Airedale (I don't think we live across the lane your house however!). Unlike our two old fox terriers, who have long since passed away, our Airedale thankfully is not a barker. I very much dislike off-leash dogs in on-leash areas and used to regularly encounter such dog owners in the Endowment Lands where there is the option to go on the off-leash trails, but where some choose to walk off-leash on on-leash trails. Our old fox terrier was ailing and was easily toppled so an off-leash dog running up to us was a hazard to say the least. Unfortunately, explaining that to the rebel owners didn't often meet with understanding. A few bad owners make it difficult for those of us who try to do the right thing (barking fox terriers aside!).On another note, I want to bring to your attention an honour bestoed on Bruce Pullen, Music Director of the Vancouver Bach Choir, of which our daughter is a member. The choirs are a brilliant education in music given to children starting from a very young age and I am happy to see Mr. Pullen receive his due. BRUCE PULLAN APPOINTED TO THE ORDER OF CANADAHer excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, announced today 61 new appointments to the Order of Canada. Among these is Bruce Pullan CM, Music Director of the Vancouver Bach Choir. The citation states that he is appointed “for his contributions to the development of singers of all ages, as a professor of music and a founder and director of numerous choirs”. Mo.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gore Vidal on the American Primaries

Regular commentor, Murdock, has brought our attention to a great video piece from The Real News with Gore Vidal commenting on the primaries.

Great stuff.

It Walks like a Duck. It Talks like a duck....

First Mike Huckabee, the righteous god-embracing Republican front-runner, SAID something unbelievable. See my post a little further down the page...,

But now he has DONE something unbelievable...he and his pheasant hunting friends, violating every basic safety standard of hunting, fired at some birds directly over the heads of reporters.

This S.O.B. might be the next President.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Murdock Take on the Bhutto Fallout

Yes tough times ARE ahead.

Consider that the US is totally stuck to the TAR BABY called IRAQ.There is/are no effective 'exit' plans for our troops in Afghanistan.The Pretorian Guard (ahem CIA, ahem umm Homeland Security?) sent their front man Negroponte (not the actual appointee Condi Rice) to tell Musharaf what would be acceptable to the Guard.Negroponte would not meet with Bhutto, then within 24 hours of those meetings Sharif suddenly turns up back in Lahore. Someone whom was tossed out with a death sentence on his back with 'permission'?

All the judges are either under house arrest, in prison or dead.The lawyers are all boycotting using the new 'Kangaroo Courts'.All that is left for Musharaf to do to solidify his power is to tame the populace.With the continued unrest he amy yet use the army to do this...the only question remains will the 'new' army chief follow along politely or will he install himself as new 'grand poo-bah' and off Musharaf during the chaos.

As soon as I saw the reports of the attack on Bhutto I knew that Al-Quieda would be blamed, yet this action is not in any way something that 'they' would want since the strengthening of a secular state in Islamabad and Lahore is a good thing for them as it would encourage the army to take the pressure off them in the tribal areas. (Not that the Pakistani Army is really doing much out there - ever)I now am seeing Al-Quieda being reported as responsible (in US media) and my next prediction is that there will be a call for a 'coalition' of support for the beleagured Pakistani government and that the Pretorians (ahem) US government will authorize a massive aid package (read $10 Billion or more) for the region so that 'they' can 'fight these terrorists'.This money will trickle into the military actions along the Afghan border regions, but I predict that 35% or more will go into 'private' accounts and of the remainder about half will be used to prepare Pakistani defences against India.

Possibly some of these funds will flow through ISI into Afghanistan and directly into Taliban hands (as weapons) so that they may keep whatever NATO forces (including Canada) completely pinned down in their ever growing geureilla war.There is a window for action, or departure --- it is now --- and it is fast closing.

Within a week of the proposed 8 Jan 2008 elections in Pakistan I predict that if these polls do not take place that an 'appointed' administration with Sharif as PM will be installed with military backing. This will inflame the common folks and this coming year's 'campainging season' in Afghanistan is going to be even harder than last year as the ISI and Pakistan Military will not give a damn about the border regions or the pashtun lands.

Pax Americana.

Huckabee Calls Pakistan the Best Reason for a Mexico Fence...HUH?

It may be hard to believe this but...

The man who may be the next President of the United States has said today that the turmoil in Pakistan is the best reason for building a fence along the American-Mexican border.


His name is Mike Huckabee and he is not some marginalized wannabe, but a Republican front-runner.

When you read this NY Times late afternoon release, you will discover that not only is he nuts, but he is flat ignorant...not knowing, among other things, simple world geography.

Bush re-born?

Two Great Responses to This Morning's Column

Mr. Berner,

I think what Vancouver needs is a Dog-Registry... and I just so happento know where such a program could be found, for the very reasonableprice of two million dollars!

It comes with possession and acquisition license, certificate andonline database. We could easily re-do the classification system toinclude police dogs, assault dogs, hunting dogs and easily concealabledogs. We could setup training class and dog certification sessions...

Of course, such program wouldn't do much when it comes to illegallybought or smuggle dogs, not to mention other annoying pet such asparrots and stray cats. But it would be a step in the right direction.

In the mean time, consider yourself lucky that none of your neighborsare learning violin.
Happy new year,

Michel Trahan Montreal.

I heartily agree with your tongue in cheek column about taking a course (even a basic knowledge exam, in my humble opinion!) I had a similar experience with my neighbour's 1 year old border collie (very cute, but it broke my heart to hear her crying when her "mom" went to work. I politely let her 'mom" know, and suggested that she fill some kong toys or hollow bones with layers of canned dog food and peanut butter and then freeze them (they last the dog at least half an hour this way, and the first half hour alone is usually the most nerve wracking for dog and neighbours). Although she doubted my advice at first, she decided to try it, since what she was doing (nothing) wasn't working, and she'd already been screamed at by a crankier neighbour than me. Now every time mom leaves the house, she leaves the tv on to disguise noises from outside and "Fluffy" gets a kong/bone snack and she is happy to be alone so she can enjoy it. It worked, (as it nearly always does for my training clients!) Now the whole neighbourhood is much happier, and so are Fluffy and her mom. Also, I pick up Fluffy, from time to time to walk her while mom's out, and so she has learned that being alone is not so bad. You might enjoy walking your neighbours silly dog too! Airedales are usually alot of fun at a dog park! I hope that this adviice can bring peace for you and your neighbours in the coming year.
Happy New Year!
Lynne Fedorick


Friday » December 28 » 2007

Why you should have to acquire a licence to own a dog in Vancouver

David Berner

Special to The Province

Friday, December 28, 2007

Some years ago I worked for a psychotic lunatic. He invited me to his home one afternoon to discuss my radio contract.

I was greeted by a Doberman the size of a Kingsway motel. The creature was catapulting off the walls of the kitchen and making noises only heard in dreams.

I told him to put the dog in the yard.

He said: "But, David, what's the problem? He's in obedience school." I said: "Call me when he graduates."

This madman had applied for, and been refused, a licence to carry a firearm. Shouldn't he be required to take some dog-training? Shouldn't harbouring a dangerous dog, in fact, be prohibited?

My neighbourhood has gone to the dogs.

Two doors over, there is blind old Sasha (not her real name). She's a waddling German shepherd who spent years howling like a coyote.

Dogs can barely see. From 10 feet away, most of us just look like cardboard cut-outs at a PNE photo booth. To make up for this deficiency, dogs have extraordinary powers of hearing and smell. It is said that a dog's olfactory sensitivities are six times that of your average sous chef.

Sasha, seeing David's shadow in the window of his kitchen, howled and howled.
Over the last decade, I called the dog police three times when I couldn't take it any more. Each time, they warned Sasha's owner, a lovely woman and a gifted artist, to control the beast or else.

Now poor old Sasha is just too tuckered to be bothered yodelling. She lolls about on the back deck with this look on her face that says something like, "Go ahead, make your tea, my bawling days are behind me."

No matter. Just in time, Sasha has been replaced by Apollo (not his real name), the Airedale across the lane . . . or should I say Airhead.

Apollo's masters are nice people, too. They just don't have clue one about dogs in the city. Apollo barks in the morning, afternoon and night.

The dear old couple drive away in their SUV, leaving Airhead to screech his grievances for an hour or two. What do they care? They're shopping or at the dentist.

A few doors west, we have the two giant poodles. I like to call them Rosy and El Diablo. Rosy is quieter than a pincushion. El Diablo never met a passerby he didn't want to devour.

Most of us on the block get a little a hint of Michael Vick in our eyes when we speak of these creatures.

On my Wednesday walk, I encountered several truck-sized canines. I recognized a boxer, who stared and drooled at me for much too long, and something resembling a Tyrannosaurus rex -- which was, of course, not on a leash.

Lately, there have been few sightings of that rare Vancouver bird, the Responsible Dog Owner.

So here's my New Year's wish.

May all dog owners be required by law to take a dog-training course before being granted a licence to make the rest of our lives miserable with their neglect.

Happy New Year! Grrr . . .

© The Vancouver Province 2007

Victor On the Magic Stats of Homelessness

As usual, the Christmas season has seen Vancouverites inundated with stories of the homeless on the downtown east side(DTES). There never seems to be a definition of what homeless actually means, hence any counts produced must be met with skepticism. It is an absolute law of science that what cannot be defined cannot be measured, and vice versa. At this time of year, poverty industry advocates are tripping over one another in their annual homeless count. If you walk through the DTES, you'll likely hear some operative from the poverty industry yelling from an alley " Hey, I found another wino. He's ours!"

One example stands out. There is a public service ad for Covenant House , repeated with mind-numbing regularity on a number of radio stations. Now I'll concede that Covenant House (CH) probably does some good work. But the numbers in the ad just don't say crisis. The earnest voiceover guy tells us that CH "rescues 1800 people from homelessness every year." Ok, that's about 5 new guests a day, hardly an epidemic in an urban area of 2.2 million. On the other hand, if they are counting the same people over several days as new daily occupants, then the total number "rescued" is far less than 1800 annually. The ad goes on to lament that "400 homeless young people are turned away every year." Ok, that's about one a day. Again we're hardly talking the Darfur diaspora here.

But I also want to get some definition of homeless youth. Is the 16 year old Surrey girl who gets too drunk to get transit home truly homeless? In short, what is the core number of young people without resources, options, family support or mental competence who are on the street for prolonged periods and incapable of self help. Support them as needed but don't bulk up the numbers by making every rebellious kid a victim.

Our refusal to ask tough questions has had the unfortunate result of diluting scarce charitable resources from the needy to the greedy. There was a news story in the Vancouver Sun over Christmas about a free blanket giveaway for the homeless. The photo showed two homeless "victims" walking away with their treasured free blanket. They were smoking. If you're smoking a pack a day, your burning $2000 a year, which gets you a lot of blankets. So butt out and buy your own blanket.

This is not a grinch response. The reality is, big cities attract people without the remotest possibility of reaching the minimal survival income. A recent article in Atlantic stated that the richest one million folks in America as well as the poorest one million live in New York City. It illustrates the case. That city faced bankruptcy in the 70s when it embraced the concept of pan-victimization, or welfare without questions, challenge or exception. If you couldn't cut it for whatever reason, New York would cut you a cheque. It took 20 years to fix that mistake.
Vancouver is repeating the same mistake.

Instead of Simple Sam's Silly City concept, we need a new slogan. How about

WE fix the helpless but to hell with the feckless.

Richmond Deserves Better

Congratulations to De Whalen, President of the Richmond Women's Resource Centre, for her excellent editorial in the Sun today urging the scuroulous Richmond council to get off its backside and support the Turning Point Drug Treatment program.

A hideous group, calling itself NIABY (Not in Anybody's Backyard) is madly lobbying the weak-kneed fools on Richmond council.

Turning Point has been quietly and without incident been helping thousands of addicts to full reovery for over 30 years now. Which more than Sullivan and Insite and Cast all those awful enabling agents can claim.

Read this argument here and email Richmond Council in support of real treatment where it belongs.


The Liberal government in Victoria is quick to remind us daily of how lucky we are to live in such glorious fortunate time. The economy is booming. Everybody is working. Projects are steaming ahead.


Then, why, we are emboldened to ask, are the paramedics - those would be the highly skilled workers who run ambulances and grab you when you stop breathing and get your sorry tax-paying ass to the nearest Emergency ward overcrowded with junkies - why are these essential workers operating out of tin trailers in Port Moody?

Tin trailers, from which they are about to be evicted, no less.

We couldn't rent these people a permanent home office?

Read the whole dreadful story from this morning's Province here.

Then email your Minister of Health.

Check My Plasma

Best Buy has a colorful ad folded into your daily paper that I think sums it all up.

There's the 40" Plasma, LCD, flat-panel HDTV thingie in all its glory on sale for only a grand plus.

Now, you know there's almost nothing to watch on the tube, outside the occasional movie, a Tiger Woods outing and Jeopardy.

So what makes this ad perfect is that on the screen of your potentially new 40", Plasma, LCD, flat-panel HDTV are Jackie Chan and that latest Chris Rock imitator whateverhisnameis starring in "Rush 3 Hour."

Now there's a piece of entertainment that I absolutely cannot live without.

So you get the biggest mothering, clearest screen in the history of the world and jam ram it into your 7 square foot condo livingroom/gamesroom/dining platform/guest couch bedroom...and have you got?

Old Jackie Chan and Whosis. Congrats.

Thanks BC Government for the Fine Service

This morning I called Pharmacare. It was about 8:45 am.

I need some information that I cannot get on the website.

After the usual e-voice instruction maze ("Following are six choices. When you here the one closest to your need, repeat it. You said, "Other." Is that correct?), this is the lovely message I heard:

"Your wait is approximately ..... 46 minutes..... music, music, music.

Bhutto's Death a Sign of Things to Come

The Bhutto murder has further destabilized and already incendiary region.
This report from Al Jazeera describes only some of the more noticed bloody reactions in the past few hours.
Bhutto was an incredibly complex person and our opinions of her may vary from soul to soul or hour to hour.
But, rightly or wrongly, she was a symbol of hope for democratic governance in a country ruled by feudalisms, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, the military and millionaires. 165 million people, most of them poor.
Lord have mercy on us all. Tough times are ahead.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto Killed in Attack on Political Rally

The Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack at a political rally being held near Islamabad on Thursday, according to Pakistan's statenews agency.


It is wonderful to an old news junkie like me to see actual news stories on the front page again. Santa's made his weary way back to the Pole, the elves are restocking the shelves at Best Buy and those of us who thrive on mayem and outrage can crawl out from under the couch again:

1. FEDS TO HIRE 3000 NEW GRADS. Is that supposed to be good news? Whose cousins and nephews will these tax-suckers be? What paper-pushing will occupy their time between visits to Antigua for intercultural understanding conferences?

2. RCMP CAN'T CLOSE CASE ON TRUCKER. Guy makes his shady living rigging rigs to hide the powdered bling and there's no evidence to prove that he isn't just practicing a magic act bigger than David Copperfield.

3. MONTREALER MAKES MILLIONS IN HONG KONG. And I am supposed to care about his how? Why? I've never been a money guy - evidence the comfortable, but relatively modest circumstance in which I live - but, of late, flying quickly into old age I can declare straight up that I am immensely NOT impressed by rich people. This is not envy. No doubt there are some marvelous rich people who read books and and care about other human beings and even some who do something useful for the world other than increase their net worth every four seconds. But most are junkies - money addicts. Good luck to them.

4. WIKIPEDIA - QUALITY OF QUANTITY. Short discussion. Inclusion.

When Did We Start Turning Against Police?

So many Canadians resent uniforms.

The military and police are largely dissed and discredited, underfunded by years of Liberal and Conservative neglect.

Any notion of the police being helpful in our on-going drug and addiction nightmares is quickly dismissed as jackboot and failing tactics.

Well, NewThinkers, check out New York City, whose crime rate has not only statistically but noticeably, been on the decline for several years now.

The police have been the largest single reason for that encouraging news.

Today, the new announcement is that every new cop will be sent out onto the streets of high risk neighbourhoods.

Read this story and tell me if there isn't a lesson for Vancouver, where I haven't seen a cop walking the beat in 30 years.


Hi, David,

As a board member of Carnegie who has questioned the legitimacy of the barring of my fellow board member, William Simpson, I really appreciate your coverage of this story. It was very gutsy of you to post links to the DTESenquirer blog, and the website NowPublic because now, of course, you are also in violation of the Carnegie guidelines and in serious danger of being barred from the Carnegie Centre.

Having a link was the entirety of William Simpsons transgression that got him barred indefinitely. Perhaps you will be getting a letter from the City soon!

You might not spend much time in the DTES, so maybe you’re not exposing yourself to a big risk, but imagine if you posted a link to a website that was critical of the City’s police or garbage services. With the kind of precedent that the City has set with their handling of the William Simpson case, they could easily start refusing to pick up your garbage or protecting your family. The basic concept the City is operating from is ridiculous. City Services aren't something that the City should be able to use as a carrot or stick to silence a critic.

I find it ironic that on June 21, 2007 the Director of the Carnegie Centre, flanked by security, met William Simpson at the door of the Carnegie with a letter signed by city manager Jacquie Forbes-Roberts accusing William of contravening the Carnegie Centre written guiding principles which “require patrons and staff to treat one another with respect, settle differences and misunderstandings through patience and goodwill…” As an elected Carnegie Board member who has been repeatedly stonewalled by City staff over this issue I would hope the obvious tide of public opinion in this matter prompts them to review their actions.

They could start by reviewing another of the Carnegies written guiding principles;"To ensure that people in our community are supported in finding their own voice, and in participating in the life of the Centre"

Rachel Davis

Member of the Board of Directors,Carnegie Centre

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

J.S.Bach 'Sinfonia' Swingle Singers

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings @ Southpaw, January 2005


Following are Bobby McFerrin, Pablo Casals and Glenn Gould swimming in Bach...

Air. J.S. Bach Bobby Mcferrin

Pablo Casals plays BACH - Suite no 1 for Cello - part 1

Bach - Art of fugue - Contrapunctus01 - Glenn Gould

Now for the Really Bad News

More driving drunk in Canada, poll finds

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
December 26, 2007 at 12:02 AM EST

Canada is no longer making progress in reducing drunk driving, according to a leading traffic research group.

A poll of more than 1,000 Canadians by the Ottawa-based Traffic Injury Research Foundation this month shows the number of Canadians driving drunk has jumped over the past three years.
The percentage of Canadians who drove over the legal limit climbed to 8.2 per cent this year, up from 5.6 per cent in 2004, the foundation said.

“We're no longer seeing a pattern of declines in drinking and driving behaviour,” said Ward Vanlaar, a research scientist at the foundation. “This is very similar to what's occurring in other countries.”

The poll results come in the holiday season, a time when police forces across the country conduct frequent spot checks in the hopes of dissuading partiers from driving.

Repeat drunk drivers were least concerned about the issue, the poll found. They also made up the vast majority of drinking and driving incidents across the country.

“Repeat drinking drivers were responsible for 6.6 million drunk-driving trips in Canada last year; that adds up to about 90 per cent of all drunk-driving activity,” Mr. Vanlaar said. “Clearly this group isn't getting the message.”

So far this year, the number of people caught driving over the legal limit is up in many parts of Canada. In Winnipeg, police have caught about twice as many people driving impaired or refusing a breathalyzer – both in the weeks leading up to Christmas and so far this year – compared with 2006.

In Toronto, officers laid about 60 drinking and driving charges over the past 26 days, compared with 53 charges during the same period last year. However, Toronto police also stopped about 13,000 more vehicles during the holiday season this year than during the same period in 2006, as about 150 more police officers took part in the spot-check program this year.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation found that, compared to the average driver, those who drink are more often men, and have prior traffic tickets.

More than 80 per cent of those polled supported the use of mandatory ignition interlocks and immediate vehicle impoundment as punishment for those caught driving drunk.

A total of 1,238 Canadians were polled. Results are accurate within plus or minus 2.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tom Waits - Christmas card from... (live)

New News Blogs

Thanks to another comment, we have added a new link to the blog known as "Downtown Eastside Enquirer."

You've got to love a blog that calls Sam Sullivan, Vancouver's "do nothing mayor."

You can find this link on the right hand side of the page scrolling down...or click here.

Also, please note that we have added "," yet another alternative news source near the top of the page on the right hand side.

Please use and enjoy these 2 new resources.

Great Comment on the DTES

This comment was sent in this evening in response to Elizabeth James' posting and my post, "The Povertarians."

It was so good I felt it deserved a posting of its own:

William Simpson's story with the Carnegie is, sorry to say, not a rare example, they often bar people without due process of any sort. My favorite example is the head of security says "You're barred" the barred man says "what for?"Security explains: " Never mind that! Just get out!"

Power corrupts, and absolute power over an abject population tends to corrupt absolutely. When there is no accountability, no way for the common member to resolve his grievance, let alone get the grievance on a staff person's file, things get out of balance.

There is a "Incident Report Book" at Carnegie in which members can be written up by security. This can be done with out a person's knowledge. Incidents in this book will be automatically entered into the computer and will stay there for three years. All without them even knowing about it! How much sense does that make?

If you want someone to stop doing something, wouldn't you go ahead and tell them when they've crossed the line? Secret write-ups are so iron curtain, how in the world do they help to resolve anything? They are only good for building a case for a punitive strike.And then what happens when a member tries to get something on record and resolve a staff person's behavior? There's no way to get it on paper at all, and in fact, complaints could be dismissed out of hand because it turns out you're cpmplaining to the boss about his girlfriend! But how were you to know, unless you've read the DTESenquirer blog?

I'd like to see more people from outside the DTES write to Judy Bader, she's the boss of Jaquie Forbes Roberts, the woman from the City of Vancouver who wrote the letter that barred William Simpson.

I say from outside because so many inside live in 10x10 rooms without computers, and on the streets and such. The City knows exactly who they are picking on, and they know exactly how little resources they have to protect themselves against egregious abuses of power, like the barring of William Simpson.

At the Movies

Rented 3 movies 3 the other day:


It's often difficult to film a good book. The best movies usually come from not particularly great books. I don't know how many people go out of their way to read "Gone With the Wind." "Casablanca" was being scripted as it was being written, up to the last day.

Any book by Philip Roth is going to be worth reading; he's one of the great American writers. And his books are rich in thought and interior monologue, so simply recording the story line on film isn't always going to be satisfactory.

And in this case, we have Gary Sinise playing Roth's famous alter ego, Nathan Zukerman - an odd piece of casting - and muttering homilies off screen as a narrator.

Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman and Ed Harris are always watchable.

The story itself is rich and fascinating as it deals with the Great American Issue - Race - and love and betrayal.

Not great...but damn good.


After the murder of Israeli athletes at the '72 Olympic Games in Munich, Golda Meir ordered the assassination of the murderers by a very covert cell of Mossad operatives.

Spielberg has made a roller coaster of a film. We follow this band of killers from Rome to Paris, Athens, Lebanon, London and Amsterdam, half cheering them on, half horrified at their efforts.

The film is peculiarly well-balanced in its "sympathies." It neither applauds nor condemns these men, who are in any event condemned to lives of torment and uncertain futures by their own acts.

It is fascinating to see Daniel Craig playing a Jewish South African assassin, only a year before he emerged as James Bond.

Geoffrey Rush is wonderful as the Mossad control agent.

Eric Bana is an odd duck and not my favorite actor, but he does a fine job here as Avner, the central character, who is on screen throughout.

The movie was nominated for dozens of awards, including Best Picture and Best Director honors at the Academy Awards, losing the first to "Crash," and the second to Ang Lee for "Brokeback Mountian."

Helluva good movie.


The first of 2 movies that Clint Eastwood made (simultaneously) about the battle for Iwo Jima during WWII. The second film is "Letters from Iwo Jima," showing the point of view of the Japanese. Both films were nominated and won many honors.

Eastwood is a first-rate consummate film maker, one of the best ever. And this is a powerful and sad and thoughtful movie.

Of course, there are many battle scenes and they are terrifying and bloody and "realistic." We are not presented with gushing spurting blood-for-the-sake-of-blood, but frightening moments that simulate the moment to moment little horrors of war.

The bayoneting of Japanese soldiers is not offered as triumph, but as awful necessity. We realize that these are not the hated enemy as they die, but men.

The full story here, however, is about the aftermath, the lingering of the PR campaign that followed the famous photograph of the men raising the flag on the hill.

And that story belongs largely to Ira Hayes, the Native American, who felt so deeply that he didn't deserve this label of "hero." Hayes is played by the Manitoba Ojibwa actor, Adam Beach, who already has quite a resume, including a dozen episodes of "Law and Order:SVU" this season.

Somewhere in the back of my ancient head, I know that the Ira Hayes story was told before in the movies, but I can't seem to find it this morning.

The battle scenes do go on, but this is a fine movie and it stays with you after you've taken the disc out of the player.

From a Magazine Piece Two years Ago


“Don’t ask me just how it happened, I wish I knew.
I can’t believe that it happened, and still it’s true…”

Irving Berlin wrote the words and music. Rogers and Hammerstein were producing “Annie Get Your Gun” on Broadway as a vehicle for Ethel Merman. When the movie was made, Howard Keel got the role of Frank Butler, but MGM felt Judy Garland couldn’t cut the mustard, so they threw Betty Hutton into the buckskin.

The song is called “I got lost in Her Arms,” and the crowd at Sam Yehia’s old Plazazz Room in the former Plaza Hotel at the foot of Capilano Road in North Vancouver was not particularly attentive. Couples argued about the daily banalities they thought they had left behind them. The regulars had already seen Ella and Dizzy, so it was going to take a lot to impress them. It was 1983 and the housing market was still in a deep hole.

Tony Bennett had come a long way from “I know I’d Go From Rags to Riches.” But the Beatles, the Stones, and Bob Dylan had just about rung the death knoll for crooners and the interpreters of the Great American Songbook.

It would be another few years before Tony’s son, Danny said, “Dad, I want you to make a video for this MTV thing.”

Of course, Tony thought that was nuts. Of course, it rocketed his fortunes to the moon. The Much crowd saw this totally cool old guy dancing around and they ate him up. His fee multiplied tenfold over the next few years.

But, on this night, in North Vancouver in 1983, Tony Bennett was ignoring it all and doing his thing. When he got to the song’s most important line, Tony did that signature gesture of his. Instead of singing it, Tony declaimed, like he was Marc Antony rousing the rabble at the forum, “I got lost…but look what I found!” And he clapped his right hand across his heart just to nail the point.

Now I was sitting in the second row. When Tony hit this moment, I burst into tears. O.K. I’m a geek. I freely confess it.

The next day we’re up in Tony’s suite, the two-story Ginger Rogers Suite with the winding staircase that Miss Rogers had danced down only a few months earlier. The Great Acts are always gracious. Tony is tripping out on my Sony tape recorder. He’s doing a monologue first on the elegant design of this machine, then, on the particular light in the Vancouver sky that makes this region of the world so paintable.

I tell him how deeply moved I was by his work the night before. Of course, he’s grateful and kind. Then I tell him that I have a theory about why some people just won’t sit still and listen. “You’re so immediate. There’s an emotional impact that you send out that is so direct. I think for many people it’s just too much, too real.”

“You know only one other person ever told me that before, and that was Mable Mercer.”

The next day there’s a message on my home answering machine.

“Hey, David. It’s Tony Bennett. I’m at the hotel. So many people have told me that they heard the interview and they loved it. I’d really like to play tennis. So if you’d like to play tennis, give me a call. This is Tony Bennett. I’m at the hotel.”

We go to a bubble in North Vancouver and we hit some singles for a while. I get him laughing right away. I call him to the net after a few minutes. “You know, Tony, I think you’ll settle down and hit some better balls once you get over the fact that Dave Berner’s on the other side of the net.”

Later, we hit some doubles and then he holds court in the lounge, entertaining a whole gang of us with stories about having dinners with a few down-home folk like George Burns and Rosemary Clooney.

Now, back in June of this year, Tony Bennett opened the Vancouver International Jazz Festival with an extraordinary evening at the Orpheum. The man is a day or two shy of his eightieth birthday. I warned my friend that we might not hear the best he can give. He might cheat on some of the notes; he might not have the pipes. Ha!

After a wonderful, inventive opening set with Brad Turner on piano, Darren Radtke on bass and Bernie Arai on drums, Tony stepped out in a dark blue suit and gold tie. He picked the mike off the piano and killed for more than an hour and a half. He hit every note and then some. He built stories and emotions and crescendos. We howled and screamed. We wouldn’t let the guy go, and when, after four or five encores, he finally disappeared in the wings, we were still on our feet begging for more. The great saloon singer, knocking them dead in a refurbished opera house, and, on two occasions, without a mike. Just stand on the stage and hit the back wall with the stuff The Great Arranger gave you.

My friend, Geoff, on Salt Spring Island is 78 and when he doesn’t answer the phone on the first ring, it’s because he’s up on his roof fiddling with his water reclamation system. Dal Richards is about 270 and he’s booked with gigs into the next century. Jimmy Pattison is getting up there and he only works 26 hours a day, nine days a week.
And you’re thinking about retirement?

Ella sings

Ella and Oscar - There's 3 little words that spell m-u-s-i-c

More Oscar

A few more things about Oscar.

Read Gene Lees bio, "The Will to Swing," and see if you can find the great CBC 2 hour documentary, "In the Key of Oscar." I taped it and still have the VHS.

And get "The Canadiana Suite" on CD. It's gorgeous.

The updated obit from today's NY Times is here.

Oscar Peterson - You Look Good To Me

And again...

How beautiful, how exquisite is this?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to All - From Weatherhaven

Merry Christmas to All - From Weatherhaven

Elizabeth James Posts In

Further to this morning's item on the Carnegie Centre, following is Liz James', local activist, email:

24 December 2007

Dear Mr. Ridge:

For both you, your colleague Ms. Forbes-Roberts, and myself, I sincerely regret the need to send this message out on Christmas Eve. However, politics and bureaucracy appear to have little respect for the season - this one or any other.

The Grinch, it seems, has struck at the heart of the Carnegie Centre.
To be up front - the websites and blogs in question have not been my usual internet stamping ground, but that's beside the point. Christmas Eve, or any other day in this extended "season of goodwill", is not the time to make the City's point. This is especially so in the case of an administration that makes much politically hay out of actually caring about the homeless people on its streets.

So, to any and all Grinches who may have played a part in the decision to bar William Simpson from the Centre, and to prevent him from taking his democratically-elected seat at Board Meetings, merely for having the temerity to disagree with your management style - shame on you.

You have confirmed that the dark side of the world Charles Dickens wrote of so eloquently is alive and thriving on the streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Elizabeth James
Box 16090, RPO Lynn Valley,
V7J 3S9



It has happened again. On two occasions I have posted a note on your blog criticizing Kim Capri.

On both occasions, a defender has posted a comment attacking you for my thoughts. Clearly this person (a) doesn't understand how blogs work, (b) doesn't understand politics (c) is a slow reader. I
can only conclude this guy is a relative of Kim's, perhaps a dim-witted cousin through an incestuous marriage, like the characters in the movie Deliverance.

So, I invite Mr. Deliverance to move his finger slowly across the print while I explain.

First. blogs are public forum for comment, part of a legacy stretching back to graffiti in ancient Greece and broadsheets in Elizabethan times. People in the 17th century didn't attack the boys who pasted the broadsheets to the wall. Likewise, we don't attack the blogger for posted comments.

Second, politicians are criticized when they make stupid comments. It's part of the game, in BC particularly. Premiers Vander Zalm, Harcourt and Clark were hounded out of office by vigourous media criticism. So was Kim Campbell. All of these people have considerable intellectual acumen.
By comparison, Kim Capri has the intellectual depth of a dust bunny and her typical comments are just as fluffy. It is not misogyny (Mr. Deliverance spelled it wrong) to point this out any more than it's "anti-male" to describe Larry Campbell as a drunken bully. In both cases, it's an opinion of a politician based on observation.

In the spirit of the season I propose a truce. I will cease commenting on Ms. Capri's stupid comments if she agrees to stop making them. If this doesn't work and I post another comment, it is hoped Mr. Deliverance won't attack David for my opinions.

I can hear the banjo strumming Silent Night.

Oscar Peterson Dead at 82

He was a very young 24, when producer Norman Granz was in a taxi heading for the Montreal airport to head back to New York.

Granz asked the cabbie who was playing the piano on the radio.

He quickly had the cabbie turn around and head back to town.

The next thing the world knew, Oscar Peterson was playing on the stage at Carnegie Hall.

Not long afterwards, Oscar was playing in a club and Art Tatum came in. Oscar, having worshipped and adored Tatum since forever, froze. Couldn't play a note.

Tatum came to the lip of the band stand and said, "Oscar, just play!"

And, until very recently, that's exactly what Oscar has been doing - magnificently, thrillingly.

When I was a teen, my mother (May she rest in peace.) and I were watching Oscar play live on the Ed Sullivan Show. With tears in her eyes, my mom (not a bad Sunday player herself) said, "David, Bach would have loved this!"

I was so blessed to grow up around that kind of sensibility.

Norman Granz became, among many, many other things in jazz, the agent for Ella and Oscar at the same time. How's that for a little talent pool?

Below is one of his typically inventive in-the-moment highly complex, structured and beautiful pieces.

Thank God for the modern technologies that have captured these sounds and hold them for us.

Oscar Peterson -The Quartet Live feat.Joe Pas-Soft Winds

Some Great Christmas Noodling

"The Povertarians"

We've been caling them "poverty pimps "for years now.

Those righteous enabling fools who pull down six figure salaries and benefits from various levels of government and pretend to be helping the poor, while making damn sure that nothing ever changes.

But in a marvelous and very funny column in the Sun this morning, Miro Cernetig introduces us to a man who on the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Centre but who is not allowed in the Centre because he disagrees with management.

This is the story of the DTES in a nutshell. You must read it to fully understand the waste and autocracy and hypocrisy of the culture that has been built there over the years.

Remember that there is no 4 block jurisdiction on earth with more money or more social programs than the DTES, which continues to be a fetid open sore.

Foreign Raid

The US has spent over $5 Billion on arms aid to Pakistan, thinking the cash would go to fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Of course, most of the money went to fighting India.



Read about this debacle here.

America is a country without health care for 45 Million citizens.

Mel Torme - The Christmas Song


Hello David -

We read your article in the Province with regards to the Ruttan's crusade on assisting the young drug users in the B.C. area.

Our grandson, now 21 and a user of controlled substance since he was 14 finally asked for help and was very fortunate to have been selected for the Portage program in Quebec. The Vancouver Coastal Health has sponsored his treatment. He has been with Portage since May 1 of this year. We are proud to say that he has successfully completed his first faze of the treatment.

We personally feel that his success is totally the result of those caring individuals like the Ruttan's and the wonderful councillors that are there for these young troubled individuals 24/7. But of course, we must not forget that the individaul must want to be helped.

We are flying to Montreal next week for his well earned congratulations and be a part of the Bye-Bye ceremony, as it is called when this section of treatment is over. As we quote the words of the Councillors at Portage " this intelligent young man with limitless potential has every chance of becoming a useful member of society". Like the Ruttan's we would not give up either. We were informed by our grandson of the treatment center to start up in Keremeos in 2008 but did not know who to give the credit to until we read your article.

We send our congratulations to all those involved with this undertaking. Yes, this is the route to take and not the free handout of drugs, pipes and needles.

Our sincere thanksMolly & Barney Ziola (Grandparents)Tamara Ziola (Mother)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On Homelessness

About 10 years ago, a friend and I met with Liberal Member of Parliament, Hedy Fry, in her office in the Denman Mall.

I'll never forget this encounter.

We made the appointment to discuss an idea we had.

We wanted to open the Burrard St. armories to the homeless as a shelter for a dozen or so days over the coldest part of the season in December and January. The site had heat, hot water, beds, cots, mattresses, blankets, lights, a kitchen and about 100 cadets who marched back and forth all day.

All we were asking of Dr. Fry was that she speak to the Minister of Defense. My friend was a former City Councillor and we felt confident we could get the City onside.

Dr. Fry was so not interested in seeing us.

Her first response was that her research had indicated clearly that homeless people liked being homeless and that they would always chose homelessness because it gave them a sense of independence.

I told her that I lived in False Creek and that I had spoken several times with people living under the Burrard Bridge. To a man, they had all said they would be happy to get in out of the cold.

Her next response was that this was just "a band-aid measure. You're not going to cure poverty."

I was shocked by this kind of idiocy.

I told her that I wasn't a Christian. "But wasn't it Jesus who said, "The Poor shall always be amongst you.""

Here is the school to which I belong.

Almost all human endeavour, and especially the helping kind, is a "band-aid" measure. We do a bit of this, we do a bit of that and we make the world a slightly better, safer place. We push the marble a little further up the hill. Only once or twice in a generation does a Curie or a Salk come along and significantly change the order of things.

The rabbis teach that if you save a soul, you save the universe.

How much can any of us expect to do?

I spent ten years running a treatment centre. I didn't save the world, but I helped many people and I'm both proud and humbled by this experience. If I visit a senior in a care home for an hour, that isn't worthwhile?

Let's leave the Worst and Least deserving Member of Parliament for now and go to today's news.

Jeff Birmingham and his girlfriend - we learn in this morning's Province - collected $1,100 worth of Canadian Tire "money," brought it to Canadian Tire, who matched it and allowed Jeff to buy $2,200 worth of goodies for the poor.

He bought 60 sleeping bags, 60 pairs of socks and 20 thermal blankets.

Please don't write me and tell me from your deepest wells of cynicism that this lovely couple wasted their energies. I applaud them. Bless them for their kindness and thoughtfulness. Their "band-aid measure" will keep some people warm.

IN another Province story, we learn that 5 churches in the tricities area have been taking in as many as 250 homeless people. That's the good news. The sick news is the NIMBY neighbours in the full spirit of Anti-Christmas, are kvetching.

This is a story of Hope and caring and, simultaneously, a story of disgusting selfishness. Read the story here.

It is true that we need larger, more comprehensive solutions to homelessness. They are called HOMES. We need the Federal and Provincial governments to stop putzing about and built adequate housing for the homeless. I am a taxpayer and I welcome this expense.

But until the rosy day that happens, any gesture that alleviates the suffering should also be welcomed.

I'm so sorry that the presence of homeless people in their neighbourhood churches has cut into the delusional plans of the good folks in the tricities who are dashing about buying their new plasma TVs.

I am proud of those 5 churches.

Happy Sunday.


Still don't believe in global warming?

Try visiting Castiglione, a village near Ravenna on the Adriatic Coast, not far from Venice.

A tropical disease spread by tiger mosquitoes hit this town like a bomb this past summer.

The disease, normally present only in Africa and India, has now been spotted in Switzerland and France.

For those of us who love Italy, this is scary news indeed. Venice has its fair share of Mosquitoes even as early as April and May.

Read the whole story from this morning's NY Times here, if you're not too feverish.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Eastern Promises Unfulfilled

Is there anyone left in the world today who knows the difference between form and content or style and substance?

Ordinary viewers and critics alike rant and rave in ecstasy about one movie after another because...why? They got a shot of adrenalin during the Kill Shot? They fell in love with the owl in the tree? They were inspired by the little girl on the raft?

Last night I rented David Cronenberg's film, "Eastern Promises."

After 35 minutes or so, I took the DVD out of the machine and watched 2 Seinfeld reruns.

In the opening scene, a man is executed in a barber shop. From the opening beat, we know what is coming. Everything is telegraphed. The only surprise is the utter viciousness with which the murder is filmed.

The boy doesn't simply cut the man's throat. He basically saws the man's head half off with a small straight razor. Blood spurts in great orgasmic rushes. The man fights crazily, hopelessly in his death throws.

Later, out hero, our star, Viggo Mortensen, collects the corpse from a freezer and calmly snips off the ends of five fingers.

Soon, hero and friend are in a private brothel with drugged teenage girls.

Friend insists that Hero defile one of the girls now and before his and our eyes to prove that he "isn't queer."

I stopped the disc as Viggo was doggy pumping a naked girl in full view.

If I want to watch porno, I'll do that on my own time, thanks.

When I rent a movie or go to a cinema, I'm expecting something a tad better.

Now, Mr. Cronenberg is a much celebrated artist.

"Scanners," "The Dead Zone," "The Fly," "Dead Ringers," "Crash," "A History of Violence."

Now it's one thing to be a Master of the Bizarre or the King of Mayhem or some other adorable sobriquet.

But this man is sick.

And all of the people involved in financing and distribution and promotion and adoration are suffering from an advanced case of "The Emperor's New Clothes."

Like Tarentino, and often Scorcese, Cronenberg is about blood and bad sex. If he weren't making movies, he'd be a petty criminal or the local bar sleaze.

Basta. Enough.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Today's Province Column +

Here is today's Province column.

And below is a succinct response:

Hello Mr. Berner,

I absolutley and totally agree with your perspective on treatment and not giving to those struggling with addictions more of the same. Personally, I believe that we have bought into the notion of harm reduction simply because we no longer really care about the well being of those entrapped and we do not have the patience and dedication that is required to see individuals weaned off of substance abuse.


Don Sukkau

Interesting that last week I was inundated with raving hate mail, and today I have about 3 responses, all of them positive.

Seems like VENTING...has become a national pasttime.

Sam$ MI$$ion

I have it on a number of reliable sources that The Nutty Mayor spends 99% of his time running for the next election.

He has raised a small fortune in his war chest and he attends private fund gigs almost nightly.

Which means, among other things, that he attends to almost no City hall business.

Which could be a good thing...for city managers and for us.

No matter how much lucre this ambitious, vengeful teenager piles on, my sense is that he is finished - a one-snort wonder, who will be very much on the sidelines at 2010.

There is a groundswell of disapproval and distaste against this fellow the likes of which I have never seen before.

City Rai$e$ the Roof

It is hard to argue with a 25% increase in wages for non-union managers at City Hall after the City settled with union employees at a 17.5% increase.

Nevertheless...we should all be so lucky.

A 25% wage increase for folks who are already in the $100,000/year +++ remains galling in the face of the struggles facing ordinary workers.

Ladner and others will argue that we must remain competitive with other jurisdictions, and that may be so.

But I would say, "If your $250,000/year and all the perks and short hours and days off and Vancouver quality of life just aren't cutting it for you, Bunky, then enjoy the hellhole called Alberta."

Victor's Vision of Kim

Once again, Kim Capri has uttered one of her trademark non sensical and unsubstantiated pronouncements. This woman is the very embodiment of Bimbo politics. Her presence on Council is an affront to every hard working, intelligent female politician who is elected on merit.
In this instance, Ms. Capri opined that moving addicts to neighbourhoods will actually make neighbourhoods safer. How does she know this? Would that include the addict who stole presents from the child's hospital room last month? Or the addict who beat the kindly old man in the Cathedral? Ms. Capri knows she can make these types of airhead statements without challenge from from the media. That's her role on council. She is the Official Blonde and every time she invents one of her mindless factoids, she gives regrettable credence to that stereotype.
Vacuousness had been this woman's trademark since she was nominated. I recall a summer night, two years ago at the Italian Club, when Ms. Capri, along with a gaggle of NPA aspirants, made pre nomination speeches. I recall being gobsmacked by her solution to the drug problems of the downtown east side. She actually said the solution was to have more early childhood education. The woman beside me whispered to me " Is she suggesting we take all crackheads into regression therapy back to the womb and start again?"
Stupid then, stupider now. Why indeed would women be attracted to politics and risk being typecast as being in the Kim mold?

Best Flicks in Town

Leonard Schein continues to show the best movies in town at the Park, the Fifth AAdd Imagevenue and The Ridge.

Take a taste below...then click on the link to your right ("Leonard's Silver Screens") or here.

GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINEES NOW PLAYING AT FESTIVAL CINEMAS ATONEMENT 7 nominations including Best Picture. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN4 nominations including Best PictureJUNO3 nominations including Best Picture THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY3 nominations including Best Picture THE KITE RUNNER2 nominations including Best PictureTHE SAVAGESBest actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Randy Travis and BB King

Thursday, December 20, 2007

JUdge Wallace Craig's Latest from the North Shore News

December 19, 2007
THE long and ominous shadow cast by men who beat, rape and murder brings fear and uncertainty to women in ways rarely experienced by men.
Since I began my journey in 1931, Vancouverites have lived through many changes and turbulent times – some sudden and dramatic, others gradual but pervasive.
Along the way a rising tide of violence towards women in Canada reached Vancouver. At first it came slowly, spreading insidiously through homes, schools, the workplace and our streets and byways. Then, in the 1960s, with the dawning of individualism, self-indulgence, consumerism and notional equality for women, a trickle of violence towards women began to surge. Now it is at high slack with no sign of ebbing.
In my twenty-six years on the bench at 222 Main St., I watched this rising tide of violence towards women, dismayed by the failure of the court to confront it with determination and deterrent sentences. Rather than speedy trials and significant sentences, offending men were able to manipulate plea bargained soft landings in a special court euphemistically referred to as “disposition court.”
I remember the late 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, times when women were safe in their homes and protected in public. Today a woman is as likely to be attacked in her home as on the street, and in public there is no comfort for a woman who ventures alone into an underground parking lot or onto a wooded pathway in a park.
Making matters worse, by the 1970s too many obsessive sociopaths had transfigured their violence into stalking women they wanted to control. This posed such a threat to women that Parliament responded, creating a new offence of criminal harassment.
Today our society has been struck by a thunderbolt of condemnation expressed in stark words on the front page of the Dec. 10 issue of the Province.
Robert Pickton Guilty of Six Counts of Second-Degree Murder. We Let These Girls and Women Down in Life. We’ve Now Let Them Down in Death.
Six murders committed serially leads to only one conclusion, by rational inference if necessary, that they were planned and committed purposefully in a horrifically sadistic manner.
A serial killer seeks his victims one by one, sequentially and, unless clearly insane, is engaged in the most evil of planned, sadistic, and deliberate first degree murder.
The jury verdict that Pickton committed second degree murder was flat out wrong.
Pickton is not insane – rather he is the embodiment of evil in its most sadistic incarnation.
“We let these girls and women down in life” can have only one meaning: that the continuing and sporadic disappearance and presumed murder of the most vulnerable of women, drug-addicted street prostitutes – mainly young aboriginals – beginning in the 1980s and increasing in the 1990’s – was a terrible crisis of enormous proportion.
What did successive mayors and council members of Vancouver and chiefs of police know and do about the missing women of Skid Road? They must tell us under oath why the malevolent vortex of our anarchic Skid Road was allowed to swallow up the most defenceless of women. It verges on malfeasance and that alone cries out for a formal inquiry.
“We’ve now let them down in death,” says to me that the horror of Skid Road remains unchanged and may even be worse for women of aboriginal ancestry. The Province quoted Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs as saying “I am so angry that our women have been treated like second-class citizens yet again with these second-degree murder verdicts. … Regardless of the outcome of this trial and regardless of whether the trials (concerning) the other 20 women go ahead there needs to be an inquiry. The whole issue was ignored and dismissed for so many years, even though fingers were pointed at the Pickton farm.”
Yet we must not be deluded into believing that an inquiry will bring real change to our hellish Skid Road.
Only our premier, Gordon Campbell can do that.
Mr. Premier, the Pickton case is a Mississippi gamblers buck-handled knife, signifying who decides the game to be played and who alone deals the cards; hence the saying “the buck stops here.” A buck-handled knife bearing the initials “Willy” is now on your desk Mr. Premier. You are the dealer. No more shuffling of cards.
Here’s a few aces to be dealt face up, right now.
· More detoxification facilities and adjunct residential treatment in and out of Skid Road.
· Insist that the federal government amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence for prostitutes to work the streets. This would enable police to take our most neglected and brutalized of young girls and women off the street; and before the much touted community court set to begin in 2008. Remember, it was the removal of the old Vagrancy C section from the Criminal Code that began the parade of drug-addicted street prostitutes forlornly teetering about on high strolls, low strolls, and kiddy strolls where they immediately became and remain prey for freaky, violent and amoral johns.
· Insist that the federal government create a specific “johns” offence, a hybrid summary conviction offence targeting street johns found in the company of street prostitutes with punishment ranging from a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 180 days without any opportunity for parole.
Mr. Premier, the Pickton case is a last call to society. Act now; get tough.
We must stop this open-air public market in which vulnerable girls and women are so easily taken away by freaky johns, sadistic street sociopaths and murdering psychopaths.
We will always remember the missing women of Skid Road, particularly whether the buck-handled knife remained on your desk, Mr. Premier, or was passed into limbo.
Contact Judicial Gadfly
or by posting your comment directly on the Writer’s Corner of

Mazel Tov! Tanti Auguri!

Congratulations are in order to 2 very different groups:

1. The Anglican and United Churches deserve recognition for their bold and thoughtful message to the provincial government that real markers must be set on environmental damage. They have called for a carbon tax that might help industry cut back on its regular spew.

I think this is a responsible and useful and important role for the church. More!

2. The Sun's week long coverage of the madness of alcoholism has been excellent, and today it's telling of the Alcoholics Anonymous story is first-rate.

May all the misbegotten pseudo-scientists, Svengalis, doctors and politicians looking for a silver bullet read this and recognize the achievement of this extraordinary social asset that continues to operate quietly in out midst and turn millions of clean and sober human beings back to real life.

NPA Messes with the Rules

The NPA wanted more "ambassadors" on the city streets. The cost is almost $1 Million.

The other councillors didn't want to spend taxpayers money on what constitutes a private security force, when we need more police.

Needing a vote of 8 yeses, Council changed the rules and renamed this travesty as a "single source contract," which requires only a simple majority. They got it and they passed this questionable gift to Genesis Security.

The Courier did a superior job of covering this story.

And who should be at the centre of this ugly maneuvering at City Hall?

Kim Capripants, who threatened, "There's the opportunity to do this right, or we can do it the hard way."

Add "Bully" to the list of Kim's growing roster of skills.