Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Three stories in the local paper are echoes of articles we have posted here in the past month. In two cases, they are subjects about which we have ranted in public for years. It's gratifying to see that the Official Word is catching on.

1. "Jobs prove elusive: Foreign trained professionals often find government regulations and powerful professional associations make it tough to become accredited."

2. "Councillors seek way to save Cheapskates."

3. "Hospital funding system blamed for waiting lists. Pay for each procedure rather than grant bulk budget, medical association head says. This is all about measuring outcomes."
Our blog is now 7 unwieldy pages long and counting. However, all 3 of our original posts on these subjects are linked below.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


A guest editorial from The Ottawa Citizen reprinted in today's Vancouver Sun is one of the most peculiar in recent memory.

It is essentially a fantasy based on a fallacy.

The headline hollars, "Banks aren't committing highway robbery."

And the author (unrevealed) argues that NDP leader Jack Layton is full of it because he wants the banks to stop charging their $1.50 "convenience fee" every time you withdraw $40 at the ATM. The author (unrevealed) sinks immediately to argumentum ad hominum (calling people names instead of presenting compelling reasoning) and describes Mr. Layton's behaviour as, "playing his customary role as faux populist." The cat is immediately out of the bag. The editorial author (Did I mention that he or she is unrevealed?) clearly has some Jack Problem and he's determined to let us know it.

The argument then is that the banks charge this fee because we want them to charge this fee. This solipsism is axiomatic to the writer (whoever he or she may be) because if we really didn't want to pay this fee we could hide our cash under the mattress. HUH?

Here's a mysterious quote: "Are gas prices fair? They must be, or else people would change their habits so as to not pay them." DOUBLE HUH?

With logic like this, the Titanic, it could be argued, is resting comfortably in the eye of the moon.
The banks, the author states, are convenient targets. We are crying for them already, are we not?
Clearly, in this writer's universe, we all watch the unwatchable drek that passes for entertainment on TV because we adore it, we all listen to the uniformly dull that passes for radio because we can't have enough of it, and we are not searching the internet daily for alternates to the local rag because the rag sates our need for information and debate. Right.
And like you, I am breathless from running to my ATM to happily surrender my $1.50 to the shareholders of MegaImpersonalMarbleFloored Bank because that's absolutely the best use of my resources today. Amen.

Monday, January 29, 2007



Perhaps even more than rice, corn is one of the most abundant, grown, used and abused agri-products on earth today.

It is estimated that an average so-called "meal" of a Big Mac, fries and a Coke accounts for an acre or more of corn growth and processing. The cow is fed corn and corn derivatives, the potatoes are fried in corn oil and the soft drink is largely corn syrup. Without corn, MacDonald's doesn't exist.
Now, in our continued obsession with the privacy and primacy of our SUV's and roadsters, with our terror of being beholden to the sheiks of Eastern Oil, we turn to "alternate fuels." High on the list is ethanol.
So far, so good. Very Suziki.
But then, enter the tortilla.
Today, we learn that the lowly tortilla, a staple of the Mexican diet for millions of people for lord knows how many hundreds or thoursands of years is under seige. This might be the stuff of sketch comedy were it not true and a disaster.
The price of tortillas in Mexico has doubled in less than a year. Try to imagine the price of our bread or milk or eggs taking the same leap. But even that analogy is not strong enough. Because, the minimum wage in Mexico is in the range of $5/day! Half the population of Mexico has never been accounted for as they are various ancient Indian tribes living in the mountains. Poverty, untabulated in rural areas and in your face in the cities, is commonplace.
Will the new administration of Mr. Calderon cap the price of corn? Will auto makers turn more boldly to alternate power that depends less on natural resources, whether found or grown? Will you and I step ever so unwillingly from our seperate music studios hurtling through space to more communal modes of transportation? Will local governments ever meet that need?

Saturday, January 27, 2007


One firing, two resignations. And that's just in the past 3 weeks.

Make no mistake about it - British Columbia's Health Care, which accounts for half of all provincial spending, is in crisis. Even the near-Billion Dollar top-up from Finance Minister Carole Taylor won't do the trick.
First it was the Deputy Health Minister, Dr. Penny Ballem who walked. She warned Premier Campbell that his plans for rejuvenating the system were unsound.
Then, last Wednesday, Health Minister George Abbott, back from a vacation barely long enough to put away the paba oil for another year, fired Trevor Johnstone, the chairman of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.
And last night, Keith Purchase, the chairman of the Fraser Health Authority, walked out.
All three of these people were recruited by the Premier. All are seasoned professionals, and in the case of Johnstone and Purchase, business executives with winning track records in the private sector.
All three have said there is not enough money in the system.
That may, indeed, be so.
But are there not some other core issues that neither the Premier nor the Health Minister have the wit or courage to address?
The first problem is the 5 regional Health Authorities and one provincial authority themselves. Are they not yet another needless, expensive, meddling level of bureaucracy needed by absolutely no one? This current obsession in government local, provincial and federal, with "an integrated approach" is getting us all nowhere at lightening speed.
Hospitals are big enough and stiff enough with paper that grouping 4 or 5 hospitals in a locale together under a centralized authority only adds to the waste of essential resources - money, people and time. Let hospitals be responsible. Let them be answerable. If they're not doing the job or over-spending or buying the wrong stents, then let the province deal with them.
The Regional Health Authorities do for the Provincial Governments exactly what School Boards do. They provide a Fall Guy when the stuff hits the fan.
The second problem is that nobody - and that includes doctors, hospitals, health boards, or the provincial or federal governments - is willing to eyeball the costs of service.
At Jiffy Lube, the operator knows how much a gasket costs him and he knows how much it costs him to install one in your car. If he didn't, he'd have to close his bay doors.
But we are absolutely unwilling to assess the cost of an angioplasty or hip replacement. We know how many surgeons, nurses, orderlies, and cleaners we'll need. We know the cost of the equipment used and the equipment installed and the equipment discarded, the costs of the tubes, gasses, cylinders, etc.
Why then the reluctance to say an open heart procedure will cost the commonweal $6,718.43 or whatever the amount truly is? When Ujjal Dosanj was the Federal Health Minister, he said openly on the radio with me that this kind of accounting was impossible.
I would say it is impossible if you want it to be!
We may in fact need to transfuse our health care system with more green. But we might start with a little grey matter and a lot of vigorous red-blooded honesty.

Friday, January 26, 2007


This is the way we sell our drugs, sell our drugs, sell our drugs.

This is the way we sell our drugs, so earlie in the morning.

When will the public and the media awaken to their silent complicity in the marketing of useless and over-prescribed and dangerous poisons?

In Ottawa today, we have the story of Health Canada (another riotous, self-satirizing oxymoron) approving a new pill to help you stop smoking. The only problem is that the Doctor who conducted the trials and wrote the report that resulted in Health Canada's approvals was on the payroll of Pfizer, the multi-billion dollar pharma-giant who will market the product.

This is an on-going story that emerges with startling regularity at Bethesda, Mayland's National Institute of Health and like research factories around the globe.

Keep in mind that the number one business in the world today is armaments. Guns, bullets, tanks, jets, we kindly humans just can't get enough of them.

In terms of pure dollar traded value, quickly after armaments march oil and legal and illegal drugs. Pick yer poison.

But from Toronto comes this pernicious bit of sideshow hucksterism posing as a "science report." "Drug cocktail doubles rates of recovery from depression, study finds." The article tells us the lie that has been told so many times it is now taken for the truth - "five million Canadians suffer from depression." Nonsense. It then goes on to encourage our gullible stupid consuming selves that if only we would take our anti-depressant along with a sedative, well then - presto, change-o, we'll all be Debbie Reynolds, or, at the least, Marie Von Trapp.

Dont kid yourself, Dear Bloggsters. The hills are alive with bullshit and its your sovereign duty to watch where you step.


Federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion, armed with absolutely no knowledge whereof he speaks, said Thursday about Vancouver's Safe Injection site, "It's a pilot project which seems to be quite a success."
"...seems to be quite a success." Hm...

Here's a small notion for you, Steph. In matters of urgent public policy, you might try study and enquiry. They don't always work, Baby, but they're usually a mite more satisfactory than shooting from the hip.


"...I actually don't have a clue..."

Thursday, January 25, 2007


If Barry Gilpin of Cheapskates fame were actually making a fortune receiving stolen goods - which he is NOT - then he would have to tell City Hall that he is a card-carrying member of the Fencers' Union, or as it is colloquially known,

F. U.


FOUR POSTS TODAY, Boys & Girls. Clearly I am a man with time on his hands. Should I ever find work that pays, who knows what could happen to this beknighted blog.

Immediately below is a crazy young rock band. Watch, listen, dance and draw your own conclusions. You'll be right, I promise you.

Then, a monologue about ENABLING and the Fools on the Hill...

Followed by The Continuing Adventures of Young George and the Holy War.

Enjoy them all. Add your comments. Go crazy and order that sesame seed bagel with extra butter.

Live. It's later than you think.

Die Mannequin Autumn Cannibalist

TO ENABLE, verb transitive

Recent articles herein, while at opposite ends of other fields, share common threads.

My story about Cheapskates and my several entries about Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan and addictions could all be wrapped in the holiday basket called "Enabling."

Cheapskates is that 4-store fixture of the Dunbar neighbourhood, which, for 20 years has been taking in old sports equipment and selling it at marvelously affordable prices (Imagine you have 2 kids who play hockey and another who skis or figure skates; so marry your bank manager already!) The mandarins at City Hall are forcing owner Barry Gilpin to close the stores with onerous and dim-witted new regulations.

We are pleased to see that the story has "gained legs." The Vancouver Sun had no less than a column, an editorial and a Letter to the Editor on the subject. Call it Barry Gilpin Day.

What has this to do with our Blog Title? Simple. One of the many roles of City hall should be/is to create the possibilities for the entreprenurial spirit, to encourage sound business, and especially SMALL BUSINESS, which, many of us continue to believe is the backbone of the economy and the tax base.

Of course, the stories of City Halls across this second-tier nation defeating, deflating and defibrillating the heartbeats of mom-and-pop shops and new initiatives are legendary. The False Creek Ferries, which are an enormous success, and which had to fight tooth and nail to open for business back in 1986 on time for Expo is a classic example of governments doing everything in their power NOT to enable.

On the other hand (as Tevye would say), we have The Nutty Professor, a.k.a. the Mayor of Vancouver doing everything in his power, as did the mayor before him and the mayor before him, to ENABLE addicts to continue merrily along in their addictions. Give 'em dope, give 'em heroin, give 'em substitute cocaine and meth, give 'em needles, give 'em HUGE EXPENSIVE COLOR POSTERS ON THE WALL EXPLAINING HOW TO INJECT.

Why is City hall so confused? Why do they have their asses sewn on to their shoulders?

Where did these little lambs lose their way? Why did we elect them? Was it something in the water?


Bush says "No." And Vice-President Dick Cheney adds, "It won't stop us."

Please read this New York Times article for the latest from Oz. The Wiz continues his breathtaking assualt on reality and common sense and decency - which, you have to admit it, is quite a trifecta.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Although I am not a dedicated habitue, I can unreservedly recommend Vancouver's Cellar Jazz Club as one of the best joints in North America for wonderful food and drink and great, great music. Cory Weeds and his partners have been fine-tuning their establishment for several years now. The musicians, whether local or international, are to a man and woman virtuosi stars.
Try it. You'll like it a lot!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


How gorgeous is Penelope Cruz?

Penelope Cruz is SO gorgeous that a gay friend of mine says he loves her breasts!!!

Now that's gorgeous.


Yesterday, I thought the world had come to an end. The Headline in the Vancouver Sun newspaper was so bold and so large and so simple, I thought it was the return of the Plague. "DAY ONE" was the trumpet announcement.

This morning we found this: "He murdered them, he butchered them and he disposed of their remains."

Now clearly the trial of a man who is alleged to have killed 6 women, and who most of us believe has killed at least 30, is worthy of coverage. It is big, it is expensive, it is full of lurid and horrible detail. And the job of a newspaper is to report on exactly such atrocities in our communities.

But this?

Page after page of photos and diagrams.


But, until then, you tell me: The Sun coverage is 1) excellent? 2) way over the top? 3) beyond hysterical? 4) appropriate? or 5) an abandonment of all reason.

Monday, January 22, 2007


In this morning's rant on The Nutty Professor, I forgot to mention how Mayor Sam has not only been deceiving us, which is, of course, required for a politician, but in the matter of addictions, he has taken to deceiving himelf as well!

You see, Sam would be the first to tell us that he is a stone cold realist. It is a central part of how he has heroically and admirably dealt with his quardaplegia. He rose from a hospital bed to be the holder of some 50 patents for devices to aid the disabled. He is the founder and executive of a dozen organizations to enable the disabled. He sails and sleeps at the top of mountains.

Yet, somehow, in this one peculiar area of addictions, crime and homelessness, he suffers from MAGIC THINKING.

Is it realistic to believe that in one fell swoop you can cure the community of these hydra-headed ills? When did social change ever occur on such a monumental scale? Human progress, like football games, is measured in inches. We fix a little here; we move the marble along the path a little there.

Maybe Chairman Mao, maybe FDR's New Deal, maybe the founding of the State of Isreal, maybe the formation of the United States, maybe The Simpsons.

But this? Give yer head a shake, young feller...


He's delusional.

Listen to this:

"I'm reluctant to go aggressively on enforcement issues until we have dealt with the social side of things. In the next while, I intend to prepare the police for their role in that."

I am sure that Police Chief Jamie Graham will be heartened to learn that the Mayor will soon be teaching his men and women on the beat a thing or two about how to do their jobs. Who even knew that Sam was a police instructor?

In The Nutty Professor's latest public pronouncement - Thank God, somewhat secod-fiddled to the Vancouver Sun's screeching 90-point front pager on a certain criminal trial - we learn that He, in his Infinite Wisdom will eliminate drug addiction, crime and homelessness, and all before the opening ceremonies in Ripped Roof Hall.

The core of N. Prof's Massive Solution is to provide "at least" 700 cocaine and crystal-meth addicts with some kind of substitute drugs. Which "substitute drugs" are among the many details not made clear by Sullivan.

But, let me ask you this, dear friends and defenders of the last fading shards of sanity and reasonableness. Are you prepared to give drunks free and cheap scotch? Are you prepared to add that expense to your tax rolls? Are you standing in line to provide child molesters with the names, addresses and cell numbers of adorable young children? Are Ford and Toyota participating in a Give-Away program for chronic car thieves?

What is at the centre of Sam's horribly misguided vision is not only a moral issue. The key is that he and so many other like him utterly do not understand the basic dynamics of addictions.

Fine. Give dope to dope fiends. Good luck.

If you have even the most passing knowledge of the issue, then you know that what addicts want is MORE. More drugs, more sex, more doctors, more social workers, more kneedles, pizzas, beer, housing, you name it. There simply is never enough. You can give Jack or Jane Junkie their supervised fix at 11 am, and by 12:15, he/she is in the alley scoring and shooting MORE.

Your aged Aunt Agnes, 73 and ailing, must pay for her needles to inject the insulin she needs to combat the diabetes she as after a lifetime of raising 2 generations of family, paying taxes and driving kids to soccer practice and orchestra rehearsal.

But I should pay for Senor Dope Fiend to have free needles, drugs and rooming?

I would ask you to think again, Sam, if, in fact, thinking on this subject is something of which you are capable.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


The following paragraph is a direct quote from the New York Times online this Sunday morning.

"Mr. Brownback, an evangelical Protestant turned Roman Catholic and a former Kansas agriculture secretary, said he would focus on reviving faith and families in America; combating abortion, poverty and wasteful government spending; opposing same-sex marriage; and revamping Social Security and the federal tax system. "
The perfectly named Mr. Brownback - after whom no mountains are currently named - was greeted with cheers from an adoring throng.
You can't write material like this. Reality is always funnier.
And you think you have to watch Science Fiction to scare yourself?

Saturday, January 20, 2007


My friend, Barry Gilpin, has been operating 4 consignment stores in Vancouver's West Side for almost 20 years. The Stores are called "Cheapskates."

You bring in your old bike. He takes your name, address, phone number and your old bike. He puts a tag on the bike and he puts the bike in the store. Let's say, the price begins at $300.00. A week later, it's $275, and then, another week later, $250, and so on.

I brought him a heavy, old and serviceable mountain bike for which I had originally paid $135.00 at Canadian Tire. I rode the bike for almost 12 years, gave it to Barry and bought a new, much lighter and very expensive bike at fancy new bike store.

A few weeks later, Cheapskates sent me a cheque for $35. I was happy and so were they.

What's the problem?

The problem is that Barry will soon close down all 4 stores, which have been happily supplying used hockey equipment, tennis racquets, bicycles and nameit to cash-strapped families for over 19 years now. Why?

The City of Vancouver in its infinite wisdom has created a new city by-law designed (badly, as usual) to stop the sale of stolen goods. The police want Barry and other second-hand store owners to do 2 new things: 1) Store all new goods for 35 days so that the police will have time to check on their legitimacy. This will only add $10,000/month to the costs of doing business for what is essentially a mom-and-pop shop selling goalie gloves. 2) Record every consignor's eye color, hair color, height, weight and race.

Has anybody at City Hall ever heard of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Eye color and race? Are these bureaucrats completely mad?


James Brown died on Christmas Day. Until this morning, I hated him.

That all changed while taking my daily Heart Walk and listening, as I do most Saturday mornings to Robert Harris on CBC-FM. As he did a few weeks ago, with a masterly hour on the overlooked genius of Doris Day (the great, great, great jazz singer and not the movie star), Mr. Harris worked his magic on me. So did James Brown. And now, several weeks after Mr. Brown's death and a lifetime of my detesting his music, his guns, his smashed pickup trucks, his police chases and his domestic "disturbances," I have become one of his legion of fans. Finally, I have come to understand why the music world and a large part of the rest of humanity stopped still in their tracks to honour The Godfather of Soul.

I can imagine those of you who are much hipper than me - and that is a constituency of almost everyone - saying, "Oh, Berner. You are so White, such a Jew. You like your blacks chocolate and smooth. You adore Johnny Mathis and Denzel and Sidney. The Man was just too, too black for you, right? That pompadour, all that sweat, the giant gnashing smile."

It may be true. I saw James Brown on the stage of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver in the late sixties. He was hot and famous and the hall was packed. From the opening repeated blasts of the saxophone section to the hidden announcer's boast, "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business," I hated this guy. Hardest Working Man, etc. So what? You could say that about Tony Danza or Shecky Greene and I wouldn't cross the boulevard to see either of those guys either.
I left after 3 numbers.

Now understand where I'm coming from. I am a Jew, born in 1942 and brought up in an Orthodox grandparent's home in the North End of Winnipeg. My family comes from Russia and Germany. I am part of the great wave of Eastern European settlement in the New World. My musical heroes and my great loves are all of a piece: the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hart, Jerome Kern. The first movie I ever saw was The Jolson Story. I still have a VHS copy of that and the sequel, "Jolson Sings Again."

This is music that marries the folk melodies and symphonies of the schtetl with the rhythms of Black America, resulting in "Old Man River," and "Someone to Watch Over Me."

Now, along comes James Brown, this local genius, a black kid from South Carolina, who discards Europe, highlights Africa and makes a new kind of American music that is all rhythm. "Please, Please, Please," and "I Feel Good," are Gospel Funk raised to the nth dimension. It's a call and Answer and the sax pumps between phrases are downright sexual. Yow!

O.K. Itook 40 years, but I 'm starting to get it. James Brown. May he rest in peace. May we dance joyously on to his holy sounds.

Friday, January 19, 2007


A comprehensive examination of How to make the problems of Addictions Even Worse

In the first installment of this series I showed you how the Mayor of Vancouver reached his conclusions about the nature of addictions and how we should respond to them. In the second, I described my own positions and how I came by them. Today, in the final installment, we look at current efforts to provide Treatment and the roadblocks that prevent any real progress.

People have tried. But governments, one after another, year after year, have resisted. Drug treatment just isn’t sexy.

I’ll show you.

The Vancouver Sun newspaper reported recently that the City of Victoria has one treatment bed for young crystal meth addicts. One.

A parents group called “From Grief to Action” has cried out publicly for several years now that there are no facilities for their addicted children. The home base of this group is Kerrisdale. For those who can afford it, the children are often sent to centres in America.

We are told repeatedly by the politicians and the Poverty Pimps that we enjoy in this province “Four Pillars” of response to the problem: Harm Reduction, Enforcement, Prevention and Treatment. But it is abundantly clear to even the most rosy-eyed believer among us that what we have is One Pillar and Three MatchSticks. Harm Reduction, in the form of safe injection sights, needle exchanges, and free heroin programs, rule. Enforcement, prevention and treatment are given short shrift and even less money.

Thank God then for the entrepreneurial spirit.

Three very wealthy people have, in recent years, tried to launch treatment programs for young addicts in this province. They have put their own considerable financial resources behind their goals. They have put their money where their mouths are and where your mouth is and where the mouths of citizens are.

That’s the Good News.

Here’s the Bad News. Two have walked away, frustrated and empty-handed. The third has folded his tent and moved to another, more accommodating district.

The first man is a multi-millionaire. His project for a Vancouver-based treatment centre for upwards of one hundred addicted youth was taken off the table after several years of impossible negotiations with Vancouver City Hall. Now, I happen to know this fellow and this plan very well. While it’s true that his project had some planning problems and inconsistencies in its original design, it was more than salvageable. Had City Hall been a little more flexible, this program would be up and running today and serving Vancouver youth in an important way. Instead, the program is slowly finding its feet in Surrey.

The second man is the Mayor of Maple Ridge. His name is Gord Robson. He promised that, if he were elected, he would open, with his own money, a treatment program for five meth-addicted youth. On November 19, 2005, Mr. Robson became Mayor and, true to his election promise (How rare is this?), the very next day he opened a small house in Maple Ridge staffed with a Clinical Psychologist and 4 staff members. All paid for by Mr. Robson.

But before they could admit a single client, the Letter arrived.

The Letter came from the Fraser Health Authority, and it advised all concerned that their little house was not licensed as a “Community Care Facility.” The hallways were too narrow; the doors weren’t equipped with emergency push bars.

Not wishing to begin his term in public office as a criminal, Mr. Robson closed the doors of his little house.

The third individual who tried to help is a woman. A very smart and a very rich woman. She examined the landscape thoroughly before she made her move. After considerable travel, research and study, she settled on a treatment model that has proven, over 40 years now, to be effective and affordable.

She went to City Hall. And then she went to City Hall again. Then she went again. And again. She was putting her own money on the table, her own persuasive energies.

When I had coffee with her a few weeks ago, she sighed and told me that it is over. She has moved on. The irritations of dealing with petty mandarins have driven her to seek bigger, greener pastures. Vancouver’s young addicts lose again.

Now in these tales lie several issues. The first is how narrow is the view of regional health authorities and municipal planning committees that they cannot see past their petty rule books and see that their communities are drowning in the tears of parents begging for treatment options. They cannot or will not grasp the larger picture. We have an epidemic of drug problems. Someone is willing to help. What can we do to help the helper? Instead they reach for the tape measures and building code bibles. Blindness.

You think this is theory or cant? A recovered addict has been running two recovery homes in South Vancouver. All of his resident clients are clean and sober. You might think he’d be given the Key to the City. Instead, he had one of his homes shut down last year because it had an extra sink in the basement. He put ten people back on the street. Blindness.

The second issue is that the Circle has been locked. At this point in our collective history, all of the social agencies, all of the levels of government, all of the hospitals, all of the invested parties have joined hands. They want mastery over these issues, they want control and they have it. After all, what if something goes wrong? The only problem is they are not doing anything recognizably useful. The City of Victoria, the capital city of the province of British Columbia, has one bed for young meth addicts, one! The document known as The Vancouver Agreement, which every politico and his cousin will praise as if it is Holy Writ, has bound every bureaucrat in a dance of liasing, interfacing, conferencing and god know what social intercourse to no known end.

The treatment programs that I created 40 years ago right here in Vancouver could easily be repeated, but they could never be built in the same way. In those days, before the Noose of Inaction tightened, we simply opened houses, began businesses and started programs without asking permission. We did the Right Thing and dealt with the fallout afterwards. The result is a legacy of reversed lives, lives lived clean and sober and drug free.

Today, we argue pointlessly about the merits of Harm Reduction initiatives like the safe injection site. Some believe this is enabling addicts to remain addicts. Others believe this is a reasonable first step, while we prepare the addict for treatment. But it is a dead argument, because there is no treatment.

Some contend that treatment is the most expensive of the four pillars and that it is, quite simply, too expensive. And they are right if you believe in the Medical Model, if you believe that treatment centres are mini-hospitals staffed by doctors and nurses. Yet anyone who knows the slightest thing about addiction recovery can show you over and over again that the best, the most effective treatment centres are those run by recovering addicts themselves! And these programs are cheap and affordable at any level of government. The very same moneys that go into welfare and similar payments can be utilized, per person, to pay for this kind of meaningful and lasting recovery.

If, like the Mayor of Vancouver, you believe that addicts and prostitutes are hopeless, then give them more drugs and keep them oppressed and stupid. Wrap yourself in flags, and, in an almost perverse form of passive-aggressive behavior, chain the addicted to their chemical wheelchairs.

If, on the other hand, you recognize that addicts are your children, your brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts, then, please, write your MLA, write your MP, write your City Council member and demand Treatment. Demand a New Beginning, demand some political courage, and demand hard-nosed compassion and old-fashioned common sense.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


It's me! It's me! It's me!

Sports as metaphor for life so often demonstrates the most tired and trite abandonment of the imagination. But every once in a blue moon, the obvious becomes the extraordinary.

This evening, we were priveleged to watch one of those moments on tape delay from The Australian Open, the first of the annual four Grand Slams of professional tennis.

Serena Williams, one of the best of the best, has been barely herself in recent years. After an amazing run, in which she and her older sister, Venus, dominated women's tennis, playing each other, as their father, Richard, had predicted, in one final after another, Serena has been plagued with injury upon injury. Here she was, an unseeded player, being dominated by the Russian, Nadia Petrova, who took the first set, 6-1.

In the second set, Williams ran off the first three games handily. Then, Petrova, a streaky and moody performer at best, charged back with 5 straight games herself, creating what looked to all like the end of the road for Ms. Williams.

Then came the moment.

One could almost see Serena turn away and ask herself the question, "Who am I? Am I not the girl from California with 6, SIX, Grand Slam titles, not to mention the Serena Slam of all 4 grand slams in one successive 12-month period?" "I mean, who are you, girl?"

And you could almost see the answer above the scoreboard at Rod Laver Arena:

"It's me! It's me! It's me!"
Serena went on to win the match 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. She had effectively raised her performance and destroyed the opponent's confidence by an act of sheer will and focus.

I mention all this because it is truly the second time I have witnessed this extraordinary phenomenon. An athlete, clearly on the losing slope of some terrible psychic slide, draws mysteriously and magically from the hidden resources of the internal well, and - presto-change-o - The game is turned.

The first time I witnessed this was Boris Becker, doing exactly the same thing in Rome at the Italian Open some 8 years ago against a barely ranked local hero named Gaudenzi. Boris, sucked it up - on red clay, his least favorite surface - blew the poor felow out 7-1 in the first set tie-breaker and went on to demolish him 6-0 in the second for the match.

Sports are a much-overworked poem for real life. But every so often...




A comprehensive examination of How to make the problems of Addictions Even Worse

Last week I showed you the Mayor of Vancouver’s central beliefs about drugs, alcohol, prostitution and addiction. Now I’ll show you mine.

In 1967, by a series of comic accidents, I became the founder and executive director of a residential treatment centre for addicts, alcoholics, ex-cons and others. I was 24 years old. I was playing the saxophone, writing poetry, playing tennis and driving a taxi.

Lester Pearson was the Prime Minister of Canada. Mr. Pearson created a kind of domestic Peace Corps, modeled after Vista in America. The idea was to engage educated urban youth in the pressing social issues of the day – poverty, crime, the elderly, native problems. The program was called The Company of Young Canadians, and I was steered in its direction by my late friend, Bob Hunter, who only a few years later would become one of the original founders of Greenpeace.

I began by meeting a group of Native Indians in the B.C. Pen. The recidivism rate at that time for aboriginals was around 97%, and these fellows said they wanted to get out and stay out. They believed the answer lay in having their own halfway house, one that was entirely self-governing and self-financed.

On January 5, 1967, I met a native inmate named Richard, who had served his time and was being released from the Pen. He was a killer, and I was an underachieving Russian-Jewish Canadian from the North End of Winnipeg. Together we set out to change the world. Ha!

A year later, and with the help of Vancouver City Savings and the Lions’ Club, about a dozen of us moved into a house in Fairview Slopes. There were both men and women and most were native, although we had already admitted a few non-native heroin addicts.

The program was simple. Two rules: No chemicals of any kind at any time, and No violence or threats of violence. Break the rules and say goodbye. Yes, you could try again tomorrow, but there was no discussion about today; if you broke one of these cardinal rules, you were gone.

The following year we bought a mansion in Lower Shaughnessy. Now there were 20 and 30 and 40 people, men, women and children. And, although the Two Rules were still inviolate, the program was no longer simple.

We owned and operated a Shell Gas Station, a women’s Beauty Salon, a Pizza restaurant and a specialties advertising company. Resident members were engaged in almost hectic activity 24 hours a day, 9 days a week: seminars, schooling, group therapy, individual counselling, cooking, music making, football, billiards, softball, concerts. Every weekday, recovering addicts spoke openly and passionately about their lives to school kids, churches, business and community groups.

Within four years from our beginnings, the program had grown to over 125 people in residence and a budget in excess of $1Million. The fifth year, we duplicated the program in Winnipeg. That program continues to thrive today in a modified and much expanded version, serving courts, aboriginals, women, children and the original target group of alcoholics, addicts and ex-convicts.

I spent 10 years at this work and I saw hundreds of addicts – let me say it again, hundreds – stop using, change their behavior, never return to jail and live significantly new and different lives. The work was, literally, self-help. No doctors, no shrinks, no social workers. In fact, when we were asked about these kinds of professionals, we used to say, “Oh, we help them too!”

I never saw a heroin addict take more than 48 hours to kick a habit. I never saw anyone have a fit, swallow their own tongue, or walk through walls.

Were we able to help everyone? Of course not. Our success rate remained constant at around 25%. But there are three important things to remember about that number: 1) According to basic Judeo-Christian belief, “If you save one human soul, you save the world!” 2) A batting average of 250 will get you into Cooperstown (Baseball hall of Fame) and a return of 25 cents on the dollar will make you Canada’s next billionaire. 3) Our per bed costs were comically low, less than $20,000 per annum, because this was not a “Medical Model.”

This program used the same basic tenets as Alcoholics Anonymous and all of the subsequent 12-Step Programs. The tone was always Tough Love. The message was, “You’re not sick. You’re stupid. Get smart. Make some new and better choices. We know that’s easier said than done; but we’ve done it and we’re right here beside you.”

My primary interest in the endless Addiction Debates is Treatment, Treatment and more Treatment. I know from personal experience that Treatment is possible and affordable. I have known every Mayor of Vancouver and Premier of British Columbia for the past 40 years. Even though Treatment is touted as one of the Four Famous Pillars, I have yet to meet one Mayor or Premier who is prepared to invest in Treatment.

Gordon Campbell’s highly promoted $8Million for meth treatment is a cruel illusion. Once the money is divided amongst the many Health Authorities, once the administrators therein are covered, and once the advertising and Public Relations initiatives are paid for, this stunt amounts to a spit in the ocean.

Parents in B.C. are in tears.

In the third and final installment in this series, I will introduce you to some people who have tried to create Treatment options for addicted youth. I will also demonstrate how they have been discouraged and defeated by unwieldy bureaucracies and wrongly invested politicians, who mouth “Treatment,” but who are clearly unwilling to pay for it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007





A comprehensive examination of How to make the problems of Addictions Even Worse
The first in a three-part series.

Love the guy. Helped get him elected. But, let’s be honest. On this subject, at least, he’s on the other side of the moon. He’s so far out that one day they’ll name a new planet after him.

I speak of the Mayor of Vancouver, Sam Sullivan. And I speak of Addictions. Drugs and alcohol. Heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, booze. Even his handlers have told him to be quiet on this topic. How do I know this? I know because they have told me so.

Nobody in the known world shares the good mayor’s unique perspective. How could they? No one else is in a wheelchair. No one else believes that the wheelchair is the best metaphor for understanding addictions.

And how do I know this? Because I have had this exact discussion with His Honor many times over many years. The last time was on the phone recently when I was verifying my notes taken in his office on the third floor of City hall just before Torino. The first time was in an annoyingly pretentious and mediocre restaurant on West 10th Avenue about five years ago. On that first occasion, I became so angry that I actually jumped up at the table and started hollering. Sam loved this. There is the perennial teenager about him that just gets such a kick out of seeing grown men turn stupid. These days I am calm in the face of his nuttiness. I love the guy. I tell him he’s wrong. And he tells me that one day I will see that he’s right.

Here’s what the Mayor of Vancouver believes about addictions.

“I am in a wheelchair. When I was 19, I did something stupid on the ski slopes and I broke my neck. For quite a while I lay in a hospital bed and bemoaned the fact that now I was a quadriplegic. Eventually, I tired of that. I asked myself “What can I do now?” Here I am years later, the Mayor of Vancouver. It would have been unbearably cruel for someone to suggest that one day I would walk again. I had to face up to my reality and deal with it. And I have.

Now, addicts are like me. They have a disability. And they will always have this disability. It is a waste of time and money to pretend to them and to ourselves that they will ever change. So what we should do is make them more comfortable! Remove the criminality, give them their drugs and let them choose what they do want to do next.”

I told him about The Sobels. Of course, he hadn’t heard of them. But anyone with an even passing interest in the subject of addictions should know the story of Dr. and Mrs. Sobel.

The Sobels were a husband-and-wife team of clinical psychologists practicing at the University of Toronto in the 1980’s. The wanted to prove that they could teach alcoholics how to become “social drinkers.” Their dedication and passion convinced the University to build a “bar” in the department, in spite of the fact that the U of T is smack in the middle of one of the liveliest downtown neighbourhoods in the western world, replete with many a lively joint.

The Sobels spent two years teaching hundreds of drunks to “sip.” Finally they were on the cover of Time Magazine. But not for any of the reasons that they or you or Mayor Sam may have predicted. After two years of work, hundreds of thousands of Canadian tax dollars spent, and much wringing of hands, the Sobels confessed that their work was 1) a complete failure, 2) misguided from the beginning, and finally, amoral!

They said, in effect, “We were wrong to do this. We hurt people. We’re sorry.”

The Mayor was unmoved.

The gist of my discussions with the mayor is this. I want to know if we, in the City of Vancouver, are actively and rigorously working to create Treatment for drug addicts. The Mayor, who clearly believes that Treatment is usually expensive and most often ineffective, dodges and weaves in his answers. What becomes clear is that he has a bias and No Plan.

“I believe we should ask the addict what he needs from Society. The cocaine addict will tell you that if he could chew cocoa leaves, he would get just enough of a fix to keep him from stealing.” This is what the Mayor of Vancouver told me.

When you ask the Mayor to get away from theory and abstractions and tell you in plain English if he is committed to Treatment, if he supports Treatment, if the City has plans for Treatment, if Treatment is high on his agenda, he says the following.

“There are several types of addictions. Some are emotional, some are physical. For some people, this problem will heal itself. In time. Meanwhile, we should keep them healthy, so that when they’re ready they can get back to life.”

So you ask the Mayor again to please be specific and tell us if he has any real plans for treatment. He says, “Give people the tools to manage. Some can do it with abstinence and counselling. Others seem to require a low maintenance amount of drugs.”

You try again to get a comment on Public Policy. Is Treatment high on your agenda as Mayor of Vancouver?

“Yes, but it shouldn’t be paid for by property tax-payers. Drug treatment is not for tax payers.” Huh?

“There are long term problems you can manage,” the Mayor continues, “and problems you can fix.”

But are you putting money into Treatment? How much treatment? What kind of treatment?

“Oh, we’re moving with Coastal health to get more beds, but this is clearly a provincial responsibility.”

Are you vigorously pursuing Gordon Campbell to create Treatment in Vancouver?

“Well, there are many options we should look at.”

In David Lean’s epic movie, “Lawrence of Arabia,” there is this wonderful exchange between Arthur Kennedy playing a journalist and Omar Sharif as a Saudi Prince:

“Did I answer well,” asks the warrior prince.
“You answered without saying anything – that’s politics,” says the writer.

Before leaving for the Winter Games in Torino, the Mayor was heading downtown to meet with five prostitutes. He wants to give them free heroin. Well, nothing’s free, is it? You’ll pay for this, and your grandmother who has to pay for her own needles to inject her insulin will pay for this.

So I say to the Mayor, “Let’s say I agree with this scheme – which, as you know, I decidedly do not – but, let’s say I do. Then what? You’ll give the girls dope, and that will lead to breaking the whole cycle of their street whore culture, jobs, schools, what?”

“Not my concern,” he says. “People gave me the wheelchair. What I did with my life was my problem.”

The Mayor knows that in his case, the notion of “Hope” would be an ugly illusion. He has now projected this idea onto all people with addictions, and for them, he abandons Hope. He offers instead what he considers a comfort.

Cold comfort, indeed.

The Mayor believes that prostitutes’ problems and addict’s problems are insoluble and that these problems should be managed. The Mayor is enshrining slavery.

In the next installment in this series, I will explain how I came to my own position on these issues. In the third and concluding piece, I will outline how some people are trying to help, and how they are hindered at every turn by unwieldy bureaucracies and plain, flat ignorance.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Martin Luther King

Here's the whole story...

I have a Dream Speech


Monday, January 15, 2007


As you can see above, the "I have a Dream" videos have been now been posted not once, but twice. Enjoy, and Remember to Remeember.

I thought I had up-loaded Dr. King's unforgettable "I have A Dream" speech. But, such is the learning curve for the novice blogster. Apologies. These kinks will in time iron themselves out.

What is more important is to remember to remember one of the great Heroes of the Last Century. In spite of the FBI compiling rooms full of specious "evidence" to damn this great man, and in spite of the murderous piece of irrelevance who killed him, Dr. King remains for many of us an astonishing beacon of Light and Hope. How urgently we are need of more of him. How desperately do we all need to pull ourselves up to his level of commitment and humanity.

And great Shame on the soveriegn state of Utah, who in their whiteness, have chosen NOT to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. With straight, pale faces, their legislators went to work today. And these are people who boast of their religious integrity.

What if they had stayed home and talked to their children about the drama and thrust of Dr. King's work?

We were all blesssed that he lived within our time. Our sadness at his passing and at what he might still have accomplished continues undiminished.

Friday, January 12, 2007


LOVE IS ... an early Valentine's consideration

“Love is funny or it’s sad,
It’s a good thing or it’s bad.
It’s a heartache or it’s mad,
But beautiful…”


What do I know of love?

I am mean and selfish. Many of my friends and family want little to do with me. I am vain, argumentative, arrogant, small-minded, petty, impatient, intolerant, increasingly agoraphobic and utterly self-serving.

I can’t and won’t wait in line to collect a $24Million Lotto prize let alone to pay for a loaf of bread, register at a resort hotel or pay my property taxes.

I’m the guy who yells at people in the cinema and at the Orpheum to “Shut Up!”

I cut off old friends like some people cut toenails. My son has a list of “People Who Are Not Welcome at my Funeral.” If you’re reading this, you’re probably at the top of this list.

I don’t love myself. I disappoint me. I’m not a movie star, James Joyce or a great singer. What the hell have I been doing all these years?

I know for sure what love isn’t.

It isn’t a gushy, mushy feeling of relentless goo. It isn’t Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman on the silver screen. Rock was gay, and, by all reports, Ms. Wyman, the first of Ronald Reagan’s wives, was a tough customer who could easily go a few rounds with Mike Tyson. Love isn’t all us lucky souls in the anonymous millions who have been told, “I love you,” by Michael Jackson and the last 125 Oscar winners. It isn’t puppy dog tails, although it may possibly be carrying small plastic bags in your pocket to pick up their lovely steaming leavings. That could be some form of love, for sure.

It isn’t the plans of politicians to conquer homelessness, spread democracy or discover new sources of energy. If anyone has a lock on being prime residents outside the Mist of Love, it’s politicians.

Love isn’t the revelations shared by actors, musicians or athletes on their amazing, mysterious processes that allow them to do those things that no one else can do and that they, themselves, surely don’t comprehend.

The only people I know personally who lay claim to the Truth About Love are clergy. Whether pastors or rabbis, celibate or resplendent with progeny, gay or straight, bearded or apple-cheeked, these guys can go on for weeks about Love. Jesus’ love, God’s love, man’s love for woman, love of humankind, you name it. And lest I sound even more cynical than you in your worst moments, understand that often these sermons and lectures bring sentimental, sloppy me to tears. (For the record, I don’t know any Imams or leaders in any other, no doubt worthy, disciplines. And being the hate-based, fear-based jerk that I am, and so far along in Life’s glorious path, I am not really open to meeting any.)

Wait. There is another category of person who claims expertise on the subject of Love, and that is the psychiatrists and psychologists. The only problem is that, from my personal experience with this bowling team, they are almost all universally certifiable. Show me shrink and I’ll show you a major wacko.

That leaves the poets.

And the songwriters and lyricists. These are the guys who truly get it, whatever it is. They can’t explain it or paint it or skate it or climb it, but somehow in skirting round and round the glow of the issue, they get us close to it. And that may be the best we can hope for.

Now, Bob Dylan, America’s Great Troubadour, is not someone to whom I customarily turn for solace or wisdom or even reduced rent. But he did say something a few years back that has stayed with me, or at least returned from the shores of the subconscious, somewhat dripping in seaweed and with definite sand in its pants.

Two or three love affairs back, I began to get this tiny shard of an iota of a hint of a shadow of an inkling about Love. “You gotta serve somebody!”

This is what Dylan told us, and you know what? He’s right.

If Love is anything comprehensible it is that willingness to help the other, to want to make the other person’s burden a little less today, to ring forth some small shard of kindness on the ones we claim to love, or even, on some days, a total stranger.

Two or three lovers back, I actually started to cotton on to this notion. Heck, I was only in my fifties by then. It’s never too late. What if I inconvenienced myself today and did some small unasked for thing for this dear person, something that would ease the afternoon or make the night a more inviting place? I could make the dinner or pick you up after work or take the garbage out or check to see when the swimming pool is open. Imagine that.

Imagine the ten thousand tiny ways we can say, “I love you,” in deeds remembered or forgotten. That doesn’t matter. What is important in Love is that they are done.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Mr. Idiotpants has ordered a fresh round of American death flesh, 21,000 young men to be exact. In addition, many thousands of soldiers scheduled to leave Iraq for the home shores have been told to forget it, suck it up and die a little more.

It now seems clearly impossible to impress on this dangerous fool what most of us have known for a long time - THIS IS THE WRONG WAR BEING FOUGHT THE WRONG WAY.

Every good student of insurgency and counter-insurgency - and that includes no end of dirt-in-the-crotch military experts as well as academics and think-tankers - has stressed that this is a war of hearts and minds. Never has the adage KNOW THY ENEMY been more salient.

For Mr. Bushleague, we prescribe a steady diet of David Lean's great epic movie, "Lawrence of Arabia." Of course, it's a great film, but that's hardly the point.

Perhaps, if Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice and their deranged, misguided lot, were to watch this entertainment, say, a biblical seven days and seven nights, they might latch on to one of the story's central themes: While the British military in Cairo built squash courts and shot billiards in the officers' mess, T. E. Lawrence went into the desert, met the dazzling array of Arab tribes, ate their food, rode the camels and, in time, led the Arab revolt against the conquering Turks.

The American embassy in Baghdad, one thousand strong we are told, has precisely 6 people who speak the local language.

All the guns and grenades in the world will not do the trick in Iraq. More boys from Iowa dying in the dust will not speed the peace.

God help us all.

Lawrence of Arabia Photos

Lawrence of Arabia Photos

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Fred and Alex Kreklau have been married for 60 years. They are devoted to each other.

Now, the compassionate geniuses at British Columbia's Interior Health Authority have separated this loving couple. The official story is that there is "No Room at the Inn." The mandarins claim they cannot find an accomodation for the two elderly people in one tiny suite in the care homes to which they have now been sent.

This is pathetic bullshit.

It demonstrates the cruelty and incompetence that makes one question the country and time in which we are living.

To make matters worse, this is an exact repeat of an identical situation that took place right here in B.C. 2 years ago. After the media rose an unholy stink about that circumstance, the premier intervened and promised this would never happen again.


We cannot find a double bed or a set of twin beds for an elderly couple, but you can bet your ski boots that every perk and luxury will be on full display for the Olympics.

Write your MLA and your Premier. Demand a better British Columbia.

Monday, January 8, 2007


What solace it must be to the management, writers and broadcasters at FOX NEWS ( that the world appears only in the stark and reassuring hues of black and white. No reds (especially)and greens (abhorrently)for these ghouls. That would only complicate matters. When life is simple, why Guss it up with the daily details the rest of know as a reality?

DENNIS MILLER, one of the great Public Ranters of our time - comedian, actor, monologist and, for a time, part of the legendary Monday Night Football Holy Three - was featured on FOX recently cheering on the Saddam hanging. He smiled, he laughed, he howled. He called those of us who questioned the fact or the method pussies...or equivalents. No consideration in Mr. Miller's 4 minutes that one American state after another continues to wrestle mightily with its own conscience over the issue of capital punishment. No thought about international bodies, such as they are, and the role they might have held in the Hussein trial and execution. No idea how America has never in its history been held in such low regard outside its borders.

I'm not sure when gloating over death is ever on point, but the execution of even the worst amongst us continues to miss my happy button. Good for Dennis Miller that his pleasure centre is so easily aroused.

BILL O'REILLY, the home run hitter for FOX News, is equally confident about his President's position on Iraq. The new Congess and House are self-evidently pussies. Witness the speaker! (Bringing children to the opening day! Sheesh! What next?) Asking for a new direction in Iraq or a timetable of withdrawal is to Mr. O'Reilly and his fans, tantamount to sedition. The war in Iraq is simple to Simple Bill. It's like that great American metaphor, the football game. You win or you lose. Any problem with that, Bunkie?

Well, actually, yes. A thousand and one problems. You see, this so-called war on terrorism IS THE WRONG WAR BEING FOUGHT IN THE WRONG WAY. FAILURE IS GUARANTEED.

Terrorism is not a universal club. It is local. Village to village, family to family, my uncle, your cousin. The sad fools who tie bombs to their belts may be married to Allah, but they are first the brother and nephew of someone with whom they have had a thousand dinners.

The American embassy in Baghdad currently pays about one thousand visiting Americans for their services. Six speak Arabic. Six.

Apparently, there were another 25 or so who could speak the local language and might therefore help America understand the people with whom they deal every day, but they were gay, so they were "de-commissioned."

But, you see this is the same Bush government, committed to some fundamentalist religious fantasy of "abstinence," who are letting women die of cervical cancer rather than vaccinate young girls.

Bill and Dennis, like George and the George before him, live in a comfortable world. Complex issues, once reduced to White Hat and Black Hat, are easily understood.

I think it was Chuck Knoll, the long-time coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who after winning his 4th Super Bowl, said, "Football is a comfortable thing. There's a measurable outcome; a score. Someone wins, someone loses. It's nice. It just doesn;t have anything to do with real life."

When FOX stops calling Politics and Life and International Affairs as a College Bowl game, they might have some claim to being a news organization.

Over to you, Chet...

Friday, January 5, 2007




Currently there is a fight making the front pages in Vancouver between the professional veterinarians' association and an Indo-Canadian group of vets. While that melodrama has its moments, what is much more interesting is how this struggle highlights an on-going problem in the workforce these days across Canada.

Every province in the country is crying for more doctors, nurses, teachers and other highly skilled and crucial workers.

Yet, there are thousands of apparently qualified doctors, nurses, teachers and others sorting vegetables, waiting tables and driving cabs in Vancouver, Toronto and every other Canadian population centre. You see, these people are immigrants. They come mostly from Asia - China, India, the Philippines.

One friend of mine comes from Shanghai. He is an oncologist and a practitioner of Chinese medicine. He has been here for several years and is now a proud, if underemployed, Canadian citizen. You see, he still hasn't qualified to be a doctor in Canada. And believe me, he has tried. He has jumped through all the known hoops.

Tell me something. In this age of DNA, the Internet, the fax machine, YouTube, MySpace, and the universal telephone number, how long should it take to determine if Alex Chang (fictitious name)is or is not really a doctor? One day? One hour?

What is keeping us from adding these wonderful human resources to our professional rosters? The College of Physicians and Surgeons, the College of Nurses, the College of Teachers, that's what. Each of these moribund institutions claims that it exists for the benefit of the public. "We are here to guard and guarantee public safety," is their mantra.

The truth is that they exist entirely to guard the status quo, that they are a sure impediment to progress, and that governments across the land should either regulate them or disband them.

Either these "Colleges" will find creative ways to expedite the integration of highly skilled immigrants into the Canadian workforce or they should go the way of the Dodo Bird.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Our rant today is entirely numerical.

1. Robert R. Nardelli, pictured right, has walked from his reign as CEO of Home Depot with a loathsome severance package of $210Million. We dare to call this atrocity by its names at a time when America languishes with 45 Million citizens uninsured for health care, schools and roads crumbling and the American reputation and good will at its lowest ebb world-wide in living memory. Mr. Nardelli follows in the footsteps of the American capitalist hero, Jack Welch, of G.E. fame, who found his form firing hundreds of thousands of ordinary working folks, increasing profit margins short term and moving on to his next odious score.

2. Cameron Ward, a Vancouver lawyer, has been awarded a $10,000 judgement against the City of Vancouver and the B.C. government. In 2002, Mr. Ward got in a scuffle with Vancouver police when they thought he was going to "cream" then Prime Minister Jean Chretien with a pie. Mr. Ward was stripped, skin searched and briefly jailed. The world is blowing itself to pieces, but in Canada we have the luxury of being on high "Pie Alert!"

3. Penny Ballem, the former Deputy Health Minister of the Province of British Columbia, quit 6 months ago. She now reveals that she had encouraged Premier Gordon Campbell to institute a "best practices" regimine with B.C. doctors, such that they might be accountable for their work. Ms. Ballem, herself a physician, pushed for this initiative because she estimated that 60% of diabetics are not getting their proper drugs and 80% of heart patients are getting the wrong drugs. Dr. Ballem still believes that "the system is killing people." The premier turned down her suggestion and she walked.

4. The usual suspects are getting their dandelion in a knot over a recent Ontario court decision naming 3 people as parents of a young boy. The three people are the boy's biological father - a sperm donor, who doesn't live with the child but sees him very regularly - and the two lesbian women who are his live-in parents and have been since day one. Clearly the world is coming to an ignominious end...or at least, so The Hysterics would have you believe.

It's All in the Numbers

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


But the most astonishing and unforgettable photo of 2006 is this one of a New York Rabbi shaking hands with, and smiling enthusiastically, at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran.

The date was December 11th, and the occasion was a Holocaust Denial Conference. This was an ongoing part of the Good President's campaign to rid the world of the "lice and rats who are Jews."

I have only one question about this picture.

Why not kiss Hitler?


To the right, you will find a photo of The Reverend Jesse Jackson (a man who never met a spotlight to which he didn't hurry) and Michael Richards, Kosmo Kramer to you and you and you.

This is one of my favorite pictures from 2006.

Mr. Richards had just caused some kind of national scandal and personal disgrace by falling into a heated argument with a heckler at a Los Angeles comedy club. Mr. Richards now famously resorted repeatedly to using the "N" word.

Wearing his hairshirt very much in public over the ensuing weeks, the actor, who has been blessed and saddled with a defining, once-in-a-lifetime role as Kramer on "Seinfeld," Mr. Richards turned to guidance and appeasement and forgiveness from Jesse Jackson.

Why is this one of my favorite moments from the year past?

Please never forget that The Reverend Jesse Jackson used to call New York City, HYMIETOWN.

Who will counsel the counsellors?