Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Democracy Being Fought on the Soccer Fields of Quebec

In the National Football League, a player will immediately be fined for wearing non-regulations socks, wearing his socks rolled down or having some apparel that is not league-sanctioned and payed for by a major sponsor. In these case, it is all about money.

But in the Province of Quebec, where a young girl was told the other day to remove her hijab (a religious head covering), it's all about culture and politics and racial prejudice.

Jean Charest, the Quebec Premier, killed any chance of ever receiving a vote from me and millions of other Canadians on anything in the future (This is a man who once expected and still expects to be Prime Minister of Canada.) when he agreed with the referee.

Wear a yarmulke, wear a toque, wear a cowboy hat or half a dead fox on your head for all I care. Kick the ball and score goals. That's my understanding of soccer.

Oh yes, and riots and drunkenness and murder and closing of stadia for fear of civil discord.

It is bad enough that an ignorant man tells an 11-year old girl to suspend her religious freedoms at the soccer pitch, but to have the Premier of the province follow and support this mistake is appalling.

In which gulag exactly are we now living?

NEW FEATURE! "The Daily Number"

Thus begins a new daily feature on the Berner Blog ' "The Daily Number."

Today's number is ... 3 million plus ...

That is the total number of anti-depressant prescriptions filled in B.C. for 2006 (also a number).

Can you say, "Can you say "Over-prescribing" or "Lazy Doctors" or "Pharma-Scam", boys and girls?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I discovered to my amazement the other day that the very notion of "Four Pillars" reaches way back into history and across many cultures.

For example,

The Four Pillars of Christianity:

Devotion to Mary

Devotion to Jesus

Education through Joy & Hope

Devotion to the Church

The Four Pillars of some wacky group which call itself the Church of Euthanasia are: Suicide. Abortion. Cannibalism. Sodomy. Go figure.

The Four Pillars according to one James MacDonald are:

Preaching God's word, without apology

Lifting the name of Jesus in worship

Believing in the power of prayer

Sharing Christ's gospel with boldness

And the Four Pillars of Islam are: fasting, prayer, alms-giving and a pilgrimage to Mecca.

So far so good. Sort of.

Now to Vancouver's famous Four Pillars Coalition.

In theory or according to their Official Spin, the pillars are: harm reduction, enforcement, prevention and treatment. But as we all well know by now, there is only one pillar and three utterly unattended match sticks. No money goes into prevention or treatment and in the last few days, we have seen City Council refuse to give the Police more money for more officers.

But forget all that.

What is now most interesting to me is to look carefully at the Official Spin website and note the following:

There are dozens upon dozens of individuals, companies, corporations, non-profit societies and government agencies and departments involved. All this human freight! All this energy and thought and care and concern! All the meetings and interfacing and interacting and sharing and integrating. IT'S GREAT! IT'S BEAUTIFUL!

Just one little, humble question - Can they point to ONE human being who was a using dope fiend, who is now a non-using admitted addict, living clean and sober? ONE?

And the answer, boys & girls, is no, they cannot. NOT ONE.

Yet, I began with me and 2 aboriginal men fresh out of the B.C. Pen in 1967, and we can point to hundreds of clean and sober human beings as a result of our hard and human and hopeful work.

And we integrated with no one. We were too busy doing our necessary work.

Here's my suggestion: call their Number One resident genius, to whom they are paying in excess of $90,000/annum, Donald MacPherson at 604-871-6040 at City Hall, or email him at and ask him to name one human man or woman that they have helped live clean and sober.

That means without methadone or free heroin or free pills. It means clean & sober.

Good luck.

Supreme Court Applauded

Have a look at the editorial in today's New York Times. They praise exactly what so many Canadians abhor, government by judges, rather than by Parliament. In this case, the Americans are right.

Must leave the house early this morning...but later today, 2 posts on The Four Pillars. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 26, 2007


What has happened to Cheapskates since we wrote about their city-induced dilemma on January 20th?

Why, absolutely nothing.
Speaking with owner, Barry Gilpin, yesterday we learned the following. (God forbid, the Press, which was all over this story last month, should follow up on anything.)

The City has quietly muttered apologies and assurances that Cheapskates won't really have to close, that Cheapskates won't really have to fingerprint and photograph and take urine and DNA samples from everyone who gives them a pair of old hockey gloves to re-sell.

All of which is to the good.

But what the city hasn't done is told Cheapskates on what legal grounds they may continue to operate.

Thus, the bicycle shop at the corner of Dunbar and 17th, which will soon have to move to make way for a dangerous and badly run drug residence housing program (translate, more corral than program), now faces the difficulty of signing a new 5 year lease with a landlord somewhere in the 'hood when it doesn't really know its future!

Isn't The City a marvel of professionalism and good management?

Sunday, February 25, 2007


The Local Rag, in a classic case of under-reporting, informs us the Richmond Speedskating Oval for the 2010 Olympics is now $3.4 Million over budget. They use as their yardstick the Public Myth of a $178 Million budget, which the mandarins of Richmond City Hall have been urgently sellling from Day One.

Below are two articles I wrote last year, which more clearly reveal the truths of this misbegotten boondoggle. The first was published in a somewhat revised form by the Georgia Straight. The second has never before been published.

They're long...but they're tasty. Enjoy!

Bob Ransford loves Richmond. He was born and raised in Richmond. He actually lives in Richmond. He asked Malcolm Brodie to run for office and helped Brodie get elected in a bi-election in 2001 and then again in 2002. Today, Ransford is heartbroken.

“Richmond is drifting. The City has a corporate vision, but it was crafted by the bureaucratic and political elites in City hall without any public by-in. The only way the elites can achieve their corporate vision is to spend whatever it takes in pursuit of their goal of making Richmond ‘the most appealing, liveable and well-managed community in Canada.’ It is costing us dearly in every way.”

Nothing focuses Ransford’s angst more clearly than The Richmond Speed Skating Oval for the 2010 Olympics. The Oval is a colossus. It is the grandest construction project of the 2010 Olympics and the costliest single project assembled by a Richmond government. Here’s how the official City of Richmond website describes the project:

The Richmond Oval will be home to long track speed skating during the 2010 Games. The Oval is being built by the City of Richmond at a budgeted cost of $178 Million. Post-Games, the Oval will be a centre for sports and wellness. It will boast ice, hardwood and indoor turf surfaces. It is located on 32 acres of City owned land along the banks of the Fraser River. Site clearing and construction have begun and completion is scheduled for fall, 2008. The Oval will qualify for ongoing funding from a $110 Million Legacy Trust to offset operating costs.

The Straight has discovered “the rest of the story.”

[Check our insert below for a quick primer on how the City of Richmond has been handling other issues.]

The Oval is reported regularly to be “on time and on budget.”

Originally slated for November 2007, completion has been moved first to April 2008, then fall, 2008. Drive by. To date, it looks like a pile of sand.

On Budget? The oft-quoted $178 Million covers the Oval and the underground parking garage. Never mentioned are the following costs, necessitated entirely by the Oval. Purchase of CP Lands right-of-way (estimated $12M); River Road realignment (est. $7M); Hollybridge Way widening to 4 lanes ($?); Lansdowne Road widening and extensions ($?); new north-south local roads, as yet undetermined ($?); public art; Plaza ($5.2M), travel and consultation $1.5M), and ongoing daily staff time ($?). The true cost is already well in excess of $200 Million and climbing. The Torino speed skating facility was built for $100 Million.

As for the $110M Legacy Trust, that is the capital, not the interest, some portion of which Richmond might acquire. Richmond City Manager George Duncan admitted to me in a recent meeting at City hall that the City might get only $1.9 - $3M annually, even though they continue to trumpet the $110M figure at every opportunity. The Legacy Trust Board has yet to meet.

Who is running this project? John Furlong is the public face of the 2010 Olympics. Who’s in charge of the Oval?

We asked City Councillor Bill McNulty if there is a Mr. Oval.

“No. I guess it’s City Manager George Duncan by default.”

Peter Webster, a developer and seasoned sportsman at local and international levels, is a member of the Oval Steering Advisory Committee. We asked him who’s at the helm.

“George Duncan. But he has so many other issues to deal with: works yard, the firemen, people on stress leave.”

Is there one person who is Mr. Oval?


Shouldn’t there be?


Adds Bob Ransford, “There is no Mr. Oval. To be Mr. Oval, you would have to be a champion. To be a champion, you would have to develop community will, you have to communicate with people.”

Ransford continues, “The Oval began behind closed doors – a megalomaniac idea – the brainchild of a small group of people looking for nothing more than self-aggrandizement. Unfortunately, they also had the keys to the taxpayers’ vault. George Duncan has the world’s biggest Lego set and unsuspecting taxpayers have given it to him.”

One need only study Duncan’s official credit card receipts to witness how carefully he spends taxpayers’ dollars. Aside from a dazzling catalogue of restaurant and hotel charges in almost a dozen locales worldwide, witness only these 3 entries made on December 15, 2005:

Lufthansa- Skyphone, calls to staff in Torino, Italy, $93.82, $117.28 and $11.73.
These 3 calls made, presumably on one flight, must have been of the highest priority.

Duncan confirms that all the Oval project managers and senior staff report to him.

“In the end,” he told The Straight, “the buck stops with me at the administrative level, and at City Council at the political level.”

We asked Bill McNulty if City Council ever challenges Duncan about how he spends public money.

“No. The public views us as a spendthrift council. The Mayor should provide direction, but he doesn’t appear to want to know details. He just wants the Oval built.”

McNulty, Webster and Ransford all have concerns about the lack of hired expertise and a staff that are struggling to operate above their levels of competence.

McNulty offers this impression of one of the many oversees staff trips. “I’ve asked are the experts involved? The staff and council are just not experienced. You see, we’re playing ball with the Big Boys now and most of our people have come from Parks and Recreation. I don’t have any problem with travel, but are the right people going? In Torino, we were there to look at long track skating – that’s what the Oval is about. But instead we had one ticket for long-track and 5 tickets for hockey. We weren’t there to look at hockey.”

Webster questions the leadership.

“City staff doesn’t use the expertise they have around the table. Frankly, I wonder if they know what they’re doing. This is the showcase piece, and they’ve never done anything like this before. The communication from the staff is not good. Look, I’m involved in a small project, about $13 Million, and I talk my guys every day and I get a piece of paper to look at several times a week. It’s a huge step to move from municipal, recreational concerns to a world-class facility. Frankly, staff finds it hard to accept that there are people smarter than them. On the Steering committee, we have doers in the real world, but there are no entrepreneurs on staff. One senior staffer was managing a swimming pool before this.”

Ransford is even more sanguine. “They’ve hired a raft of new people for the bureaucracy. There’s no check on spending at all. But they haven’t hired any experts, people who could really help, because they believe that they are the experts.”

We point out to Duncan that many see him as the undeclared leader. He says, “Look, I’m the guy who went to Council and recommended the 3 advisory committees. I was the one who raised the name of Dr. Roger Jackson as an important contributor and recommended that we hire outside project and construction managers. I’ve just become the lightening rod for any criticism that arises. ”

Bruce Rosenhart, a Vancouver communications consultant and a Richmond resident, is another member of the Oval Steering Advisory Committee.

“The committee is only concerned with the Oval structure, not with any extraordinary costs, like parking, art, the road diversion, and CP Rail. This must not be a white elephant. Richmond has traditionally been seen as Vancouver’s poor second cousin, as a ‘tail-end Charlie.’ The Oval is the architecturally defining facility for Richmond. The only serious question I have is does anyone on council or anyone on staff have a real over-all vision for Richmond?”

Sport BC, the umbrella organization for more than 80 sports groups and 800,000 active participants in the province, has been in discussion with Oval staff for some time now about how they might cooperate on facilities and programs post-Olympics.

After dozens of meetings with Oval staff, Sandra Stevenson, the President and CEO of Sports BC, now asks, “Where is the leadership? Who is the decision maker? I’ve spent too much time exchanging information. How are we modelling a shared vision? It’s not apparent to me. What is apparent is that it’s all about power and control.”

Local Unions are incensed with the Oval project on at least 2 important levels. It was revealed through a Freedom of Information that George Duncan signed an agreement guaranteeing labour peace during the Olympic period. Because the City has a clear obligation to consult with the union on such matters, the union has filed a grievance with the city. Quite simply, Duncan didn’t have the authority to make those assurances. As well, the unions are raising important, and unanswered, questions about security. Asks a union official, “Who is doing security for the Olympics? The FBI, the CIA, CSIS? Will our members be marshalled? And who is checking security levels on the people who are actually constructing the project?”

A recent Steering Committee meeting in July was cancelled. The reason given was that there was nothing to discuss. Six meetings were cancelled last summer.

McNulty says, “This is a huge project. There’s always something important to discuss.”

Webster agrees, “The process has never functioned smoothly. They changed the schedule mid-stream. They only call the meeting together when they think it’s important. The last meeting was cancelled, because they said there was nothing important to discuss. When there’s $178Million and less than 1200 days, there’s always something important.”

Duncan responds that the people who complain are the same people who have themselves missed recent meetings.

How is Richmond City Hall functioning these days with all the Oval excitement in its midst?

Duncan estimates that 10% of his day is taken up with the Oval. Yet he spent 2 1/2 hours with The Straight on a recent morning and churns out Oval-related e-mails and memos by the basketful.

McNulty despairs, “The city is on hold because the Oval is a full-time project. We’re trying to run a city, but this is a full-time project.”

Ransford is a development consultant with over $300M in developments to his credit. He reports, “Today when you go into city hall to deal with some local project, they tell you, “Oh, we can’t do that; everyone’s working on the Oval!” This is an exact repeat of the Tall Ships episode. “We can’t do that; we’re working on the Tall Ships!””

But City Manager George Duncan insists that the work of the city hasn’t stopped. “When we received complaints that some of our staff had told people they were busy with the Oval, I went to council and secured additional funds to bring in more people to deal with the extra work load.”

Was this added to the Oval budget?

“The full scope of the work,” admits Duncan, “costs more than the $178M for the design and building of the Oval. But these things – like re-aligning River Road – have been in our plans for years.”

Moving these roads and re-working the riverfront, however, have all been precipitated by the Oval?

Duncan readily agrees. “Exactly. We have a Land Acquisition Budget, for example. We don’t have to take the money from anywhere else.”

Ransford questions the entire enterprise. “How will we pay for the construction of the Oval? We still don’t completely know. How will we pay to operate the facility after the games? We don’t really know. And will the community be a better place when all is said and done?”

Webster is equally discouraging. “We have no concrete information. We have no business plan. We have no marketing plan. We have no financial plan.”

Where are we today?

Webster shrugs, “I have no idea.”

In letters dated July 13 and August 2, 2004, Bob Ransford warned Mayor Malcolm Brodie of the potential for the current state of affairs.

“Does the public not have the right to know the general details of the bid before you make it? Should not the scope of the project – magnitude of public investment in land, capital cash requirements and guarantees, public uses, etc. be known in advance?

This is now the central focus of everyone at City Hall, and [everything else] has been superseded by the City’s new “Olympic culture.” Shouldn’t we be discussing as a community whether we want to make this shift in focus before we make it?

We are not getting a long-term vision or building on our strengths. Instead we are living in a dream world, where more exciting projects eclipse the mundane.”

Is the Mayor listening? Are Richmond voters listening?


This is the land of “Nothing Proved. Nothing Solved. Let’s move on.”

ITEM: The Tall Ships. An official City report, dated Feb. 13/03, states “the cost for the Richmond Tall Ships 2002 was in the range of $3-3.5 Million when the contribution of staff was included.” The Straight is in receipt of credit card statements showing staff buying cell phones, for example, at retail prices in excess of $300 each (with $100 leather cases), when the City clearly has a customer relationship with a major cell supplier.

ITEM: Jose Mario Ferreira filed a BC Supreme Court lawsuit in 2001 against the City of Richmond and five of its employees. He alleged private contractors sold city owned goods and that his employer, the City Works Yard, was regularly guilty of double and triple billing, misuse of sick time, and personal use of city credit cards. He further alleged that he was called “rat,” “nigger” and “faggot’ by colleagues and subjected to humiliating treatment and harassment by colleagues when his claims were made public. The City argued that this was a case for labour relations and human rights and not the courts. To date, there is no known resolution.

ITEM: Firefighters. Stories of harassment and sexual shenanigans on the part of Richmond Firefighters were front-page news across the country this spring. Resolution? Responsibility? Criminal charges?

ITEM: Women on Stress Leave. Several female City staffers went on stress leave shortly after returning from Torino. Why?

ITEM: Rabbits. Yes, rabbits. Behold the Year of the Great Richmond Rabbit Explosion. The critters, multiplying in biblical proportions and munching every veggie in sight, have baffled the planners at City Hall. The planners are talking.

ITEM: Casino crime. Loan-sharking, extortion and kidnapping are taxing the capacities of Richmond’s RCMP. No practical solution or additional resources cited to date.

ITEM: Massage Parlour mayhem. Housewives Against Prostitution in Richmond trumpets, “We know that a lot of prominent citizens frequent the dozens of massage parlours licensed by the City of Richmond.” The City responds that it has stringent bylaws. Then, why so many massage rooms? Who is using them?

ITEM: Number 3 Road. After spending upwards of $80 Million to completely redesign Richmond’s central thoroughfare only a few years ago, the City has now torn up #3 Road to accommodate the new RAV line. How much has this lack of foresight and bad planning cost the taxpayers?

ITEM: Garden City Lands. For over 25 years, the city has coveted this parcel. VANOC wanted to build the International Broadcast Centre there and then let Richmond take it over for use as a Convention centre. Richmond fumbled the package. The Broadcast Centre has gone to downtown Vancouver, and Richmond will pay more than $4 Million for less than half the original lands.

ITEM: Minoru Arenas. City managers floated a trial balloon, which was quickly popped by long-time residents. Councillor Harold Steeves, who is also the Parks Chair, said, “Some staff felt that we could do away with the arenas and put everybody down at the Oval.” Added Councillor Bill McNulty, “I’m not so sure staff realized that they would get opposition from sports men and women who have been fighting for facilities for 30 years in this community.” Who was consulted?

ITEM: Tables for Ted. On Aug. 3/06, The Richmond Review published a letter to the editor from a local couple, “Apparently some citizens are more equal than others.” They describe a dinner and concert evening in which the best tables are reserved for Ted Townsend, the front-line PR man for the City, and his friends. Did Ted pay? Did the City? Why can’t others get front row tables?

ITEM: A complainant gave me the following list: Hoes, spades, rakes, toilet paper, lamps, accessories, oil, fixtures, coffee, tarpaulins, electric power tools. These were among the items crowding her garage. She was in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. She claimed her husband had stolen these from the Richmond Works Yards where he had been employed for many years.

“Everyone does it; why not me?” was his rationalization.

She blew the whistle. Eric Gilfillan, then Director of Operations for Richmond Public Works (since left City employ with a total payout of $459,637.40, including Early Retirement incentive, vacation, gratuity and banked overtime) attended. So did RCMP officers Peter de Vries and Philip Yuen. All agreed that some materials resembled municipal equipment. Unfortunately, there were no City Of Richmond stamps visible. End of case.

Her second list chronicled what she believed to be unacceptable behaviour from her husband and his colleagues at Richmond Works: Personal use of municipal equipment and vehicles, sleeping in municipal vehicles during work hours, lengthy personal telephone calls at work, stalking her in municipal car, harassment of her by Works Yard employees, using company discount card for personal purposes, cover-up in helping each other to steal, inappropriate items and pornography at work, inappropriate use of petty cash, and instructions from supervisors to do no work.

Panels were struck, discussions were held. Nothing proved. Move on.

ITEM: This summer a 17-year employee of the Works yard, discovered selling yard materials for his own personal gain, was given the option for early retirement. Within a month of that incident, a second employee was caught red-handed in the same infraction, selling yard materials for personal profit. This employee was not fired or criminally charged. This employee was docked one day’s wages. This employee is the son of the Yard boss.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Try This Audio Test

I am trying yet another method for uploading daily audio posts without spending a small fortune. Please click the site below and let me know in the COMMENTS below if you can hear this sampler. If so, we are on to the next step...daily audio posts that you can listen to while doing toher work and auto-loading thro RSS to your ipod.

Philosophy in the Rain

I have reached recent conclusions about public life.

To whit, there are two kinds of politicians: Believers, who are extremely dangerous, and Men Who Believe in Nothing, who are equally dangerous.

Hitler was a Believer. 'Nuff said.

Bush is a Believer, Lord help us.

Mayor Sam, perhaps the most dangerous politician this sleepy, gentle berg has ever seen believes deeply in a program that is destructive and without that most necessary of all human commodities - Hope.

The Men Who Believe in Nothing have a simple agenda: Personal Aggrandizement. More money, more power, more accolades, more free lunches, plane rides and golf trips. These pathetic worms cannot bend over fast enough to take the Boss' imperative up the yahoo for a buck and a quarter. Their values are in the wind.

In Robert Bolt's magnificent play, "A Man for All Seasons," Sir Thomas More is betrayed in Cromwell's court by a snivelling rat, named Richard Rich. (See the brilliant film with Oscar-winning Paul Scofield as More and a young and brilliant John Hurt as Rich, and the late, great Robert Shaw as an overwhelming Henry VIII.)

More turns to Rich, now bedecked in furs and finery and lying through his rotting, borrowed teeth, and asks, "Is that the sign of Wales around your neck, Richie?" For his calumny, Richard has been awarded the Chancellorship of Wales. Rich, visibly shaken and embarrassed by the question, admits that, "Yes, so it is." And then comes the famous and telling line.

"Oh, Richard, it little profits a man that he sell his soul for the whole world...but for Wales???"

There are two political operatives scurrying about these parts these rainy days, one more notable than the other, but each Backroom Boys to the Core. They are huddled behind various curtains with Mayor Sam and whispering in the ears of Ottawa to further their own careers. Unlike Dr. Strangelove, they don't believe in substitute drugs or much of anything else.

But they like ever so much to fly first class and order the bestest of wines with their filet mignon. No matter that they might help enslave more human beings in the hopeless traps of narcotics, legal or illegal.

So Believers and Non-believers in public life are to be feared and watched with a hawk's eye.

When, o when, will we meet the Third Man?


The annual ritual More Precious than All Others is haste, upon us. (Forgive me, I'm working on 2 Shakespeare plays. Would Will have ever won a statue? Maybe after giving the Bard a pass 19 years in a row, the Academy would finally give him one for "lifetime achievement," when he was finally "sans eyes, sans ears, sans taste, sans everything.")

If you want some real fun, go to the Alternative Oscars brought to us each year by Graham Peat's wonderful Videomatica store. Here's how:

Meanwhile, here's my ruminations on all things Hollywood for tomorrow evening.

Haven't seen all the contedahs, won't in time see all the contandahs and will tape the whole mess for much shorter viewing later in the evening.

Helen Mirren has already been rightly crowned The Queen. All others go to the bar and order a double double.

Although Peter O'Toole is wonderful in Venus and he should have been given a shelf full of statues for Lawrence of Arabia and Becket (he wasn't), the Oscar goes to a much deserved Forest Whitaker for his bringing to rich and funny and scary life Idi Amin In The Last King of Scotland. Mr. Whitaker has been blowing our minds for years as one of America's very best actors in a host of memorable movie appearances, and this piece of work is one for the ages.

The Lives of Others is up for the award in the Best Foreign Language Film, and I will tell you that it is a great work of art, it is unforgettable and mesmerizing, and not only that, we really like it a lot! Give it the prize already.

Movies like Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed (should be, The Deported) have no business being nominated; Little Miss Sunshine, because it is a tiny, charming amusement, not much more than an extended comedy sketch with a muddled and unsatisfying ending; and The Deformed, because it is a dreadful piece of highly crafted nothing. Everybody shoot everybody, wake me when it's over.

But little Marty has been sucking Hollywood overtime for years and he'll probably win several entirely undeserved awards. Feh!


Two weeks ago, I told you all about the Big Bash happening tonight at the Law Courts in downtown Vancouver. Dinner, silent auction and Live Auction of some pretty spectacular trips and other alluring goodies. All in aid of senior health care.

A few tickets remain. Please check this Fun Time out now, and JOIN US!


"The overarching principle of fundamental justice that applies here is this: before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process."CHIEF JUSTICE BEVERLEY McLACHLIN, of Canada, in a ruling striking down a law that allowed the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects.

The Federal Government is now in a challenge position, having being asked by the Supreme Court to revise its Anti-Terrorism bill in accordance with the Charter. How, in a civilized democracy, can we justify holding people in detention without any due process of law, when the the very nature of a civilized democracy is due process of law?

For the full story, read the New York Times version here.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I have no idea what has propelled Vancouver's Chief of Police, Jamie Graham, to announce that he will retire from his current post at the end of his contract in about a month's time. And, in fairness, I cannot or will not yet cast judgement on his tenure these past 5 years.

But I do know this. The current mayor, S.S., aka Dr. Strangelove, was at war with Chief Graham. Whatever they may tell the press and public, the truth is they barely tolerated each other's presence in the same room.

S.S. is on record saying that he doesn't think the police need more money or more officers - a notion completely and utterly out of synch with both the police and the taxpaying public. Dr. Strangelove's current council recently turned down exactly such a request from the Department.

Behind closed doors, His Lunacy, will tell anyone that listens that he has no patience for Enforcement, which is supposed to be one of the famous Four Pillars, that he doesn't want the police interfering in what he considers a medical issue, and frankly, he wishes that the police would just be quiet about addictions and other civic issues.

Maybe Jamie Graham should run for Mayor.


Next to armaments, which are NEVER discussed in the media, and oil and illegal drugs, the largest and most profitable business in the world is pharmaceuticals. Pills. Prescription drugs.

Why this enormous and often corrupt industry needs and gets the tacit and willing support of organizations that claim to be news gatherers is beyond me. Shall we be simple and just call it MONEY?

The headline today continues the Public Lie: ONE IN SIX North American adults suffer from clinical depression.

This is simply not true.

The so-called gay community managed for a while to convince the public that one in ten persons was homosexual. This is not true.

And so it goes. "Special interests" like the Pill Pushers, who after all have a patina of science and legitimacy on their sides, can corral the public airwaves and spew out this offending nonsense at will. The purpose is simple: SELL MORE PILLS.

No doubt there are many Canadians who are blue, and many Canadians who are miserable, and even many Canadians who might accurately be diagnosed as "clinically depressed." But for every one of those poor souls, there are dozens of sad men and women who are almost casually diagnosed by their doctors as clinically depressed, given their soma tablets and sent into pharmoblivion.

I'm sorry, but is GlaxoSmithKline or Merck or Pfizer paying for this latest onslaught of advertorial hogwash?

What is depressing is the laziness in the current State of Journalism.

Please use all your remaining common sense and reasoning when reading The Daily Droppings. All is not what it seems.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"SICK F**K" The TV Series

I'm so excited my guts may explode.

Our new TV Series, "Sick F**K is a go!!!

The meeting with Fox executives took exactly ten minutes. They said they had never heard such an explosive pitch. That usually translates as, "You'll never work in this town again." But, in this case, it meant not a pilot, not 3 sample hours, but the full commitment by the network for 13 complete seasons. This is unheard-of, precedent-setting and, well, mind-blowing, what can I say?

The Fox people said it, not me. "Eastwood and The Duke are pussies compared to this."

The concept is simple, as, I suppose, are all winning ideas.

Each weak, sorry, each week, some poor mad fool, pushed to his or her limits (Violence and retribution knows no bounds of race or gender, does it?), acts out some very visible, playable and filmable moment of revenge, or some other deeply felt, unrequited emotion.

For example, in our first episode (rumoured now to air on Lent), a guy in Wisconsin blows up a pair of school buses filled with kids on their way to a seniors home. He drives non-stop to Wilmington, Delaware, rushes into a busy pizza parlor, shouting "The clowns are here! The clowns are here!" When he tries to crowd into a booth with a family of singing Mormons, he is shot to pieces by two off-duty cops. It's dynamite.

In the second week, a woman, grieving over what we can only surmise is an imagined slight by a dog-handler in a neighbourhood park, awakes stealthily at 3 am and decapitates her husband and three children. Later, she dismembers the bodies, stores the parts for a while in the freezer, and finally, disposes of said evidence, by selling it to several organic food stores, convincing them that they have bought a revolutionary new line of health products aimed at clearing the system of toxic build-ups.

Now here's the Kicker. And I think this is what made the Fox people so eager to get their hands on this before any of the specialty channels or the wireless/Internet lunatics.


You never know, from show to show, if this is a scripted piece of fiction or, in fact, reality TV. Shooting digitally and saturating the colors, we cross a number of boundaries and make it that much harder for people to know for sure what they are watching.

My team of writers is amazing. Without naming names, their backgrounds are as diverse and schooled as politician, anaesthetist, brigadier-general, postal worker and male stripper (but only for a while to get through college.)

Now based entirely on industry buzz, the show has already garnered its share of (unwarranted, of course) criticism. Some are saying the violence is just too, too much. Others are complaining that the perpetrators rarely, if ever, are brought to justice -whatever that is supposed to be. For example, they are niggling that episode 47, the one in which the bank clerk spends his lunch hours sniping at passers-by from an over-pass in Scranton, Pennsylvania is unfair because the guy's execution is not verified by our cameras. Come on!


If you want to be considered for the show, or know someone who you think would be perfect, don't forget you can e-mail us at perfect@sickf**ktv.nut, or give us a call, toll-free at 1-800-IMA-SICKF**K.

All I can say is, "Thank goodness, most of you know the difference between entertainment and real life, " and "Yes, ma'am, that's a deposit, and yes, that's the right amount."


Perhaps, as usual, I've missed something.

Harper & The Boys spend the day yelling at each other in the ever-so-aptly named Commons.

The Prime Minister points to a local Newspaper article accusing the Liberals of scuttling the Air India enquiry for partisan political reasons. A Liberal backbencher is related to a person "of interest" in this never-ending nightmare, in which millions are spent and justice is never found. Or so the press story goes.

So the Liberals pound their desks and scream, "Bad form, Old Chaps."

Yawn, goodnight.


You gots to love the songwriters in Victoria. They're churning out those mega-hits day after day. Numbers like, "On Budget & On Time," "New Housing Starts Galore," and "Tax Breaks for Everyone, Like, Everyone!"

Meanwhile, down in the old Royal City, where hospital patients are trying to recover from ass-breaking surgery...


Here is your laxative to help you get regular again after all that anaesthetic...and, because we have no clean bedpans, here's your diaper, baby. Poooooo, away!
Ah, it's a fine life. And a fine and caring government.


Good news and bad news.

The bad news first: Guy builds a tree house for his two young sons. Looks great - the tree house, not the guy. Guy looks OK, but this is about the tree house, right? Guy knows a bit about architecture and design, so the tree house looks like Noah's Ark.

City Hall shuts him down. Rules, permits, fees, yadda-yadda-yadda, the usual soul-destroying, initiative-killing crappola.

Now the good news, seems the Wicked Witch of the West (Side) who is, of course, the complaining neighboooor, has shown rare courage and actually identified herself. Her name is Janice McShane. Or was that Jaundice McShame?

God forbid a guy should buy a house, pay taxes and build a tree house for his kids. Next thing you know the neighbooors will complain that he's not attending Presbyterian service three Sundays out of four.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I will be performing Mark Leiren-Young's brilliant and award-winning one-man show, "Shylock," in Victoria next month. The presentation is a fund-raiser for Positively Africa, a unique and wonderful AIDS in Africa project run by Peter and Peggy Bardon, who literally take the monies raised to the Africa location where it will do the most good. Both the playwright and I are donating our services.

I was honored to present the world premiere of "Shylock" at Vancouver's Bard on the Beach in August 1996. I have since played this 90 minutes piece dozens of times in so many different settings, including an unforgettable night in Venice, Italy in 2001.

The play is controversial, thought-provoking, outrageously funny, and, in the end, poignant, moving and powerful.

Please come over to Victoria and join us, as follows:

Alix Gooldin Hall

907 Pandora Avenue, Victoria

Friday and Saturday, March 16 & 17

Curtain: Sharp at 7:30

Doors open at 6:45

Tix: at the door, at Munro's Books, Ivy's Bookshop & Lyle's Place, all in Victoria

Enquiries: 1-250-893-7094


I'm delighted to announce that -no, I have not become Olivier's Ghost - I will be playing Claudius, the King, in the following production.

May 11- May 26, 2007


Independent production of The Centre Creative Initiatives

Does Hamlet's mother Gertrude share in uncle Claudius' guilt? Does Hamlet continue to love Ophelia even as he spurns her? Is her death a suicide or an accident? Does the ghost of Hamlet's father offer reliable knowledge, or does it seek to deceive and tempt Hamlet? Is Hamlet morally justified in taking revenge on his uncle? Are Hamlet's actions just? Does he have the right to act as he does? The stakes riding on these questions are enormous, as the actions of the characters can bring disaster upon an entire kingdom. Looks like modern politics, yes?
"What is there about Shakespeare that would interest a contemporary American?" Visitors send me this question from time to time.If being a "contemporary American" means being focused on dirty TV sitcoms, greed, casual sex, big-money sports, shout-and-pout grievance-group politics, televangelism, professional wrestling, crybabies, slot machines, postmodernism, political action committees, and "war on drugs" profiteering... then the answer is probably "Nothing." If a contemporary American can still ask: "Is life worth living in a world full of wrong? And can I live well?" -- then the answer is maybe that "Shakespeare deals with basic human issues."

Director Irina Templeton
Casting Director Adam Lolacher
Producer Luke Day Production Dates: May11 - May 26th, preview night May 10th.Location: Jericho Arts Centre

The Conspiracy of the Status Quo

O.K. I'm starting to sound like a completely marginalized, left-wing, unrepentant hippie nut case. Starting? Maybe just coming full circle.


Yesterday, the local rag gave the Premier a full voice on the Op Ed page. Today, it's the Finance Minister waving her illusory social housing package. Like these people need a platform? They can't get headlines and a TV camera every time they burp?

Then the editorial continued the Official Message: This Heartfelt Government is going ga-ga on social housing.

This, of course, is pre-digested drivel. See my post below.

But when the rag and the tube and the net and the airwaves all come from the same BIG, BIG, BIG house, what would you expect? Criticism? Thought? Discussion? A little bit of a shard of a hope of a whisper of a rumour of the truth? Dream on, Dear Bloggists.

Transparencie$ - Budget Smoke & Mirror$

We are to believe that the new Provincial Budget has set aside $250 Million for new housing. We are also to believe that we will win the Lotto, beat cancer, live forever and star in many award-winning shows. Okay.

This is simple.

What has been set aside for new housing is in fact the interest on $250 Million, which amounts to about $10 Million.

Now let's get in touch with reality.

Last week, a house in my neighbourhood was sold. Standard 33 X 120 foot lot. The house is a tiny, 80 year old, 2-bedroom, one-bath shack. A tear-down, a piece of burnable garbage. BUT. Because the house is on the north side of the street and the street below it is very below it, the view potential is fantaaaaastic! Mountains, water and city forever.

Price? A steal at $1.2 Million. Gone in under a week.

So Carole Taylor's much trumpeted bold new initiative on housing will result in exactly...what?

Gross Negligence an Accident

Here is a snapshot of modern life at its best.

A Calgary woman leaves her 6 year old and 2 year old alone in a running SUV while she dashes inside an office building for some terribly important mission.

Can we stop the film right there?

Try to list the hideous things that could now happen. Car rolls down a hill. Kidnapper kidnaps the kids. Kids suffocate.

Have you done this? Will you? Are you completely nuts?

Yet people do this every day. People who are in a hurry. People who believe that they are immune to life's tragedies. People who are stupid selfish children disguised as responsible adults.

Last year I came across exactly such a situation and called the police, who appeared about 5 minutes later. In the interim the stupid, selfish mother materialized form a Tanning Salon. Of course, an argument ensued. One policeman thought I was funny. One policeman thought the woman was an idiot. I guess it was a draw.

In Calgary, the result of this mother abandoning her children in a running SUV was that her daughter suffocated herself on the automatic window. (HEY, LADY, IT'S GOT ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES. THIS IS THE ONE YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE.)

The woman is so selfish and stupid that she simply got in the car and drove away, dropping her older child first at school. Then she noticed that - oops - her daughter was - oops - like, dead.

Punchline? This has been called "a tragic accident."

No. This is gross negligence bordering on manslaughter bordering on murder approaching madness.

This is a telling tale of modern life. We have everything. We know everything. We are busy and totally self-absorbed. Nothing can happen to me. I'm in a wide-screen technicolor movie.

I would never, ever, ever, ever leave a child alone in a car for a millibreath of a nano-second. Would you?

By the way, she was part of the SUV Nation - a Chevy Blazer pictured herein.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

$$$ Follow the Money $$$

Ah, the ironies.

Finance Minister Carole Taylor is shown smiling her unquestionably beautiful smile with her lovely red Wizard of Oz budget shoes. The next story in this morning's Sun tells of 5 women being arrested for protesting social service cuts.

The women appeared at Ms. Taylor's constituency office and chained themselves together. It took police hours to disentangle the women, who now may be charged with "mischief."

But it is Ms. Taylor, the Premier and Stan Hagen, who was previously the Minister entirely not responsible for Children and Families, who should be charged with mischief, for it is they who have consistently abandoned the neediest and most vulnerable amongst us, while towering monuments are being built.

Ms. Taylor says of these women, whom I applaud, that "it's the kind of demonstration that should be condemned in British Columbia."


Rather, it is governments that ignore the suffering of Children and Families, that slash day care funding and built castles in the sand that should be condemned.

Castles in the sand? Hagen?

Yesterday I carried on about the ever expanding costs of the Trade & Convention Centre Expansion, predicting that it will cross the finish line late and over a Billion Dollars.

Today, Vaughn Palmer continued the story in the Vancouver Sun on page A3.

You Know His Name...

The New Bond Video is a Scream!


An astonishing little piece appeared in the New York Times this morning. It regards plans to monitor every phone call and internet usage in the European union. Read the story here.

Monday, February 19, 2007


The three stories featured on the front page of the morning Vancouver Sun have curious and circuitous links.

1)Some parents are angry about the new gay-friendly material that will appear in public schools.

2)An Iranian refugee was arrested in a local church sanctuary.

3)Former Chief Justice Antonio Lamer is advising the Prime Minister to stop trying to influence judges.

What makes these stories so interesting, and what at the same time, connects them is that they are again about Your Rights vs. My Rights in the context of a self-advertised multi-cultural society, and that all sides of all the arguments are reasonably defensible.

1)In a perfect world, toward which we may continually strive, people wouldn't hate or discriminate against gays, blacks, whites, Jews, Christians, Haitians and Rosicrucians. On the other hand (as Tevye, the Milkman, would say), if I am a parent, I have a right to take my child out of classes that I think are inappropriate for or offensive to me or my child.

2)Illegal refugee claimants who are hiding should and can be arrested. On the other hand, while it is not written into law, the notion of church sanctuary has long been an accepted practice, and, frankly, there is something disturbing to me about the police "invading" the quiet of a church to arrest someone.

3)The process of appointing people to the Supreme Court is deeply flawed and needs a modern overhaul. On the other hand, the Prime Minister, although he may be a bit wooden-clogged in his approach, is right to say what so many other and reasonable Canadians are saying. "Let's think a little more about the safety of the community in sentencing and not quite so much about the alleged rehabilitation of the convicted criminal."

Each of these stories id worthy of lengthy debate. The commentary below is OPEN and will have to do until places for discussion of public policy - once at the core of radio, television and print media -are returned.


If you ran a little neighbourhood coffee house - well, you couldn't, of course, because the taxes and red tape would kill you - and your expenses went up 40%, what would you do? I mean, besides fold your tent and get a job with the post office?

Well, if your little coffee shop is a government flagship and it's timed for unveiling at the famous Olympics, then hang the cost! Hey, it's only the hard-earned money of teachers and postal workers and doctors and street cleaners known otherwise and so cavalierly as TAXPAYERS.
So the Trade & Convention Centre expansion, tagged originally at a mere $565 Million is now going to cost tree pruners and dog trimmers and history professors and hospital cafeteria staff more like $800 Million. "Big deal," says Victoria.
And you can bet your SUV or your hybrid that the real cost will easily exceed a Billion Dollars when all is said and done.
Welcome to the ancient honorable world of Politics and Public Spending. And we've learned from history...exactly, what?


There are some headlines you need to read 5 or 6 times, and even then you're not quite sure you are dreaming or reading the morning paper. Here's one of the best and the latest: "AIR CANADA TO HALT ALL FLIGHTS TO INDIA."


Canada's official airline claims it needs all its aircraft now for service to China.

This is an "either/or" proposition?

Let me see if I understand this. I don't; but let's try.

Every flight I have taken in recent years from Europe back to Canada, whether through Heathrow or Frankfurt has been more than 50% occupied by Indians from India. My October 2006 flight was at least 80% so occupied.

So...people from India only want to come here? And people from here don't want to go to India? No. I don't think so.

India is the second most populous country in the world - second, of course, to China. It's very nice that Air Canada has woken up and realized that it should provide steady service to the major centres of China. But to do that by cutting off service to India??? What part of mismanagement do I not understand?

The aircraft pictured herein is for hire. Call me at 1-800-I-FLY-INDIA.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Dr. Strangelove is calling his latest madness a "Treatment " program. He is raising private money and hiring various unemployed political sycophants to promote the doomed notion of giving addicts substitute pills.

He is phoning people at home in the evenings (Did he once have a job as a telemarketer for Telus or Mastercard?) to argue the divine inspiration of his new cause. The imbalance of the City's tax system, the growing impossibility of running a small business, the grid-lock and inefficiencies of our transit system, these are of little concern to S.S. He's got a bone and he's damn well gonna chew it. Stand back, Unbelievers.

You need only remind S.S. that the Conspiracy of Get Nowhere, known as the Four Pillars Coalition, trumpets around the world Harm Reduction, Treatment, Enforcement and Prevention and he will tell you that giving substitute drugs to drug addicts is a "Treatment Program."

What's in a name?

Call it treatment and therefore, it's treatment.

Of course, this pathetic, ill-conceived and headed-straight-for-the-wastebasket day dream is clearly a Harm Reduction strategy. The formula is rock solid, if you'll pardon the pun. We give, they take - harm is reduced. So goes the theory and the model. Watch: We give needles, they take - HIV is reduced. Nice theory; indications are the opposite. We give "safe" injection site, they take - shooting in the alley and stealing are reduced. Not.

So now we are to give addicts pills, they will take - no stealing. Dream on, S.S.

What is so comical, so tragic, so downright smelly is the arrogance, the lack of understanding of human nature, the desire to be held aloft as the Saviour of Vancouver. Not having the practical wisdom to understand that human progress is made in tiny steps - a little here, a little there - Dr. Strangelove (Look at the hair across the forehead. All he needs is a leather glove and a moustache.) believes he will make one grand sweeping gesture and Vancouver will become drug-free, crime-free, homeless-free, not-nice-free.

Make no mistake, Taxpayers, this is an obsession.

He calls meetings to order, spends three minutes on other business and then pontificates for half an hour on this silliness while the gathered stare in silent disbelief and embarrassment.

He openly tells people that he doesn't want the police involved in drug matters, that prevention programs don't work and that abstinence treatment is an expensive failure. In other words, he doesn't support the Four Pillars strategy at all. He wants only harm reduction and to sell it to the suckers he calls it treatment.

But that's the Way of the Emperor, isn't it? If I say it is so, then it is so.


Health and prosperity to all.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


What follows is 2 versions of the same report. The first is very personal and subjective. I scrubbed it in favor of the second, which I submitted to The Vancouver Sun Op Ed page for publication. As I haven't heard from them, I've decided to publish these pieces herein.

What you have to understand is that the Mayor is now phoning people and telling them that he wants to hand out pills to addicts on street corners. He always argues that if you disagree with him - as so many of us decidedly do, you just don't understand. Apparently the Mayor has been gifted a form of intelligence not known to most of us.



The most pernicious and misguided program in recent memory is now flowing like alluvial sludge from the office of Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan.

On the afternoon of Thursday, February 8, Mayor Sullivan called my home. He identified himself as “the guy in the wheel chair.” How weird is that?

He asked me to attend a discussion he was having with 20 or so people on Friday morning about his new drug initiative. I wondered aloud why he would want me there, as he is well aware that I think his ideas on this subject are batty and dangerous. He gave me some over-flattering excuse and I said I would be there.

Coffee, tea, croissants and apples were served. At each seat, there was a short agenda and a 6-page document on City of Vancouver letterhead titled, CAST, or Chronic Addiction Substitution Treatment, which took about 15 seconds to read and comprehend. It was delivered in bullet and comic book fashion, meant clearly for the kindergarten class that the Mayor and his stooges took us to be.

Stooge One is Don MacPherson, the head of the city’s drug directorate, during whose tenure of the last several years not one known addict has moved on in life, not one treatment bed has opened. Mr. MacPherson introduced Mayor Sam who spoke for about 10 minutes.

Stooge Two is David Holztman, who is now the City Authority on all matters relating to addictions, medicine and law and order. Mr. H. is steering CAST. He spent 20 minutes giving us a power point rendition of the comic book we had already absorbed in the first 15 seconds at the table.

The gist of this “exciting and progressive new” initiative is that we will give coke and meth heads free pills as substitutes for their poisons of choice. This stroke of genius is coming from a man – Mr. H. – who also praised the “alcohol maintenance” program now being run in Ottawa. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, “alcohol maintenance” means that you give an old sot a free shot of scotch every morning.

You think that we are making these things up, but we are not. This is how your tax dollars are being spent.

When the floor was opened for discussion, a man sitting next to me asked a very good question. “If we give these pills to all these addicts, how long will we be doing that?” I answered loudly, “Forever, of course. Don’t you get it?” (Later that day, Mr. H. appeared on a CBC radio program and admitted fully that “some people need to be on maintenance for life.) Then the mayor tried to deflect the question by talking about his Civil Society.

At that point I spoke up and this is what I said.

“This detestable concept reveals a fundamental refusal or inability to understand the most basic mechanics of addictions. What do addicts want? They want more. Not more children, more love, affection, books, opera or hockey tickets, housing or cars. They want more drugs. That is their singular focus. So you can give them free substitute pills at 9 in the morning all you want. But I guarantee you that by 2:15, they’ll be on the street stealing and hustling and breaking and entering just like they did yesterday. Most of you here are part of a bureaucratic agreement to accomplish nothing real, but you will spend a lot of taxpayers’ money doing it.”

At that point, I stood up, picked up my raincoat, pointed my finger at His Worship and said, “And Sam, don’t ever call me again.”

Sam smiled. He loves to get people upset. It’s just about his favourite thing on earth. That, and talking to junkies and hookers.


The most pernicious and misguided program in recent memory is now flowing like alluvial sludge from the office of Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan.

The program is called CAST, or Chronic Addiction Substitution Treatment.

The gist of this “exciting and progressive new” initiative is that we will give coke and meth heads free pills as substitutes for their poisons of choice. David Holtzman has been employed by His Worship to promote this and other grand ideas. In a meeting I attended recently, Holtzman also praised the “alcohol maintenance” program now being run in Ottawa. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, “alcohol maintenance” means that you give an old sot a free shot of scotch every morning.

You think that we are making these things up, but we are not. This is how your tax dollars are being spent.

When I suggested to Mayor Sam, Holtzman and a room full of devotees that there was a fundamental flaw in this notion, Holtzman replied that people didn’t understand Rick Hansen when he set out as well. I answered that I understood their idea perfectly, I just didn’t agree with it. But that’s how the bureaucratic, arrogant mind works – if you don’t agree with their hot box of the day, certainly you must not understand it. And to compare giving addicts free pills with the work of Rick Hansen?

Here’s why this dreadful notion cannot work.

What do addicts want? They want more. More what? Not more children, diapers, food, homes, cars, books, affection, love, fame, opera or hockey tickets. No. They want more drugs. Period. End of story.

So, give them substitute pills at 9 am. At 2:15, they’ll be in the back alley stealing and breaking and entering and hustling just like they were yesterday. All the trumped up bar graphs and statistics will not prove otherwise. The program cannot and will not work.

Can you be proud of yourself knowing that you would willingly help a human being to remain stupid and entrapped and limited and less than human? Wouldn’t you want to try to help someone escape the cycle? Even if you don’t always succeed?

The Mayor and friends, who actively dislike and attempt to debunk, treatment programs will tell you that 75% of treatment doesn’t work. They are right. But 25% succeed and those are real people who live and breathe and raise children and pay taxes and contribute to a community they used to drain. Batting 250 will get you into Cooperstown, Sam.

And how does the Mayor explain the millions of alcoholics who “manage” their disability by staying clean and sober and attending a meeting once or twice a week? He doesn’t, because it doesn’t fit his plan.

Please stay out of the addictions business, Mr. Mayor. You and your bureaucrats don’t understand the fundamentals and all you can possibly do is add to the harm.

Civil Disobedience is Always Unfashionable

When in 1849, Henry David Thoreau published his landmark essay on Civil Disobedience, he could hardly have envisioned a tiny set-to on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery. And what would the man who wrote, "I heartily accept the motto - That government is best which governs least," have made of governments spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars for Greco-Roman competitions and revelry?

I wasn't there the other morning when various protesters interrupted the launching of the Olympic Clock, so I'll have to take everyone's word for it, that some got out of hand and downright unruly. Various of these frightening hooligans - for this is the designation given them by the press - have now been charged with mischief. (Imagine the real list of offenders who should be charged with "mischief": Sam Sullivan, Henry Kissinger, Montel.)

What is so unsettling is how quickly the press has rushed to condemn the few who have opposed the Games and how quick the press has been to enumerate the many marvels of compassion for the poor and homeless emanating from Victoria and City Hall.

I am a life long Contrarian. There is little in the majority opinion that has ever appealed to me, and much that offends.

So I am almost always delighted to see a healthy minority opposition to the Myth of the Day. Of course, rocks and pushing and storming the barricades are unnecessary and inappropriate and counter-productive in a milieu as sleepy and disconnected from the human heart as Vancouver, Canada.

Nevertheless, you have to wonder why the police and the press react so swiftly and so over-the-top themselves to what is a necessary and essential part of the democratic soup - small voices shouting loudly against the pleasant bleeting and mooing of the herd.

Carole, We Hardly Knew Ya...

Provincial NDP leader, Carole James, moments after criticizing the Liberal government's new Green Plan, admitted that she drove a honking great SUV. With a straight face, she claimed, "Well, my family and I go off road in the summer."

Is this the height of hypocrisy?

Mr. Campbells' Global Warming initiatives may or may not, in time, prove to be legitimate or effective.

But if we can't be responsible for our own contributions, should the world have to accept our foul air?

Carole, you shame yourself.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

We Know How You Feel, Harry

But be not deceived.

Harry, a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, shown here at New York's annual Westminster Dog Show, won 56 Best-in-Shows last year.


Please check out the contribution from Eric Lee, a local engineer who is actively involved in alternate energy systems, to my blog of Saturday, February 3, 2007 on Global Warming and Climate Change.

Scroll down to the 4th Comment, folks; it's well worth your time.

This is one of the best commentaries we've received to date. Many thanks, Eric.

Monday, February 12, 2007


The Sun and the province - that is The Vancouver Sun newspaper and the Province of British Columbia - have like priorities.

Today, The Sun ran a story at the bottom of Page B2 headed, "Cuts will Force Victoria Child Care Program to Close." The gist, quoting directly form the paper, is this: "Less than 3 weeks ago, the Victoria Child Care Resource and Referral Program celebrated the grand opening of its new downtown storefront facility. By September, the program will be closed. Cuts - from the current $14 Million a year to $9 Million starting April 1 and to $3 million by September 1 - mean 46 such programs across B.C. will be shutting down."

While that important story was relatively obscured by its location and short word count, the Front Page trumpeted, with a foto and red headlines, the Olympic Countdown.

On page B2, above the quiet, little piece about $11 Million being cut from Child Care funding - lunch money by Provincial Budget standards - was a double page spread about all the wondrous and sundry Olympic venues and their progress and preparations for the Big Event.
Some examples:
Athletes' Village, Original cost, $167 Million, Update, $315 Million, or double
Vancouver Training Venues, Orig, $5M, update, $27 M, or X 5
Richmond Speedskating Oval, Orig. $60 M, update $200 M +, or X 3.
So, let's make this simple, kids.
Hundreds of millions of taxpayers' hard earned dollars are assigned and re-assigned and re-assessed and increased with nary a blink of the politicians' eye or public's outcry for 2 weeks of sport.
Child Care Funding - pennies compared to the Big Party - is slashed and goes unnoticed.
We are poor little sheep who have lost our way...


Pow! You're dead.

Mikhail Kalishnikov invented the AK-47 combat submachine gun. In some countries this wonderfully cheap and effective killing machine can be bought for less than the price of a chicken...make that a live chicken.

Mr. Kalishinkov is now 85 years old. In 2002, he told the Guardian newspaper, "I wish I had invented a lawnmower."

Friday, February 9, 2007


Was it 2 or 3 years ago that I first met Dr. Manon Bolliger?

I had walked into her Fourth Avenue offices crying. Sciatic pain, brought on by overly vigorous tennis playing, had kept me from sleep for 3 nights, and the pain, which usually visited most intensely in the wee, small hours, had now lodged permanently through my bum, hip, right leg, knee and foot.

A friend had recommended Dr. Bolliger and her mysterious "Bowen Technique," and I was obviously ready for anything - blood-letting, leeches, voodoo dolls, conga lines.

The first thing to say about the good Doctor is that she is beautiful. It's not just that she is so easy on the eye - which she is - but that she radiates some kind of healthy, positive glow. In a lifetime filled with parades of human beings of every stripe, I have been fortunate to meet a handful of people about whom it can be truly said, "He/she has an aura." Well, Dr. B. has an aura and it's sunlight.

The treatment couldn't have been more simple. Lie on a table, have a few muscles moved about. Not manipulations like a chiropractor, vigorous, sometimes difficult or painful. But quiet, non-invasive, subtle touching. A kind of laying on of hands.

I didn't notice any immediate change. I slept not much better that night.

But the next morning, I was in the kitchen, when I suddenly turned around in shock, as I realized the pain was gone. THE PAIN IS GONE! THE PAIN IS GONE!

I've been back to Dr. Bolliger's practice half a dozen times since that first visit. Each occasion is the same. I walk in hurting, she does her magic, I go home, the next day THE PAIN IS GONE!

This is a bald-faced testimonial. Try it; you'll like it.

Talkin' About...

Lest we ever be accused of single-mindedness, here is a list, moving chronologically from today back to very first post on December 29, 2006, of subjects considered:

Olympics & The Net
Homosexuality & Tolerance
Garth Turner, Gushy Modern Politician
Needle Exchange Program
Bush’s Budget
Little Mountain Care Home Dinner
Scorsese, The Desperate
Global Warming
Guest Rant: Victor
Michael Jackson
Your Rights, My Rights, Our Rights
Immigrants Obstacles to Jobs
Hospital Funding
Bank Fees
Health Care Ailing
Pharmaceuticals Profits
The Federal Liberals
The Premier
Die Mannequin’s New Video
The Cellar Jazz Club
Penelope Cruz
Pickton Trial Coverage
Delusional Mayor Sullivan
Brownback Mountain
James Brown
Addictions, Parts I, II & III
Serena Williams
Martin Luther King
Lawrence of Arabia
Separating Elderly Couples
Fox News
Professional Colleges
CEO Theft
Rabbi Kisses The Devil
Michael Richards & Jesse Jackson
Saddam Hanged
Parole Boards

Thursday, February 8, 2007



The world is not flat, and...wait for it...BLOGGING HAS JUST BEGUN!!!

News emerges today from that centre of all things modern, Lausanne, Switzerland, (Perhaps the mountain trails have been impassable these last several years.), that Olympic athletes may be allowed to blog for the first time at the 2008 summer games to be held in Beijing.

The IOC in their ever-forward momentum is considering this revolution in personal freedoms. At the moment, athletes and others (coaches and similar sweaty riff-raff) are barred from pretending toward journalism. The apparent reasoning - if reasoning is what it can be called - is the protection of "accredited media."


As we write, there are approximately 2,000,000 bloggers alive and posting. Those numbers increase geometrically overnight.

Almost everyone I know turns daily to the net for alternates to the abandoned franchises of "accredited media." The mainstream press has by and large lost its way in committees, polls and double entry bookkeeping. Instinct and street smarts are unknown in the boardrooms of CBS and Corus and Time-Warner.

The IOC has offered that athletes might be allowed to blog the 2008 Summer Games as long as they don't use photos, video or audio.

Perhaps the IOC - trapped as they are by the winter snows in the Chocolate and Cuckoo Clock Factory high in the Alps - has failed to notice that Google just bought YouTube for $1.2Billion. YouTube is a kind of visual community blog.

The net and blogging and whatever comes tomorrow morning is The Tsunami of Modern Communications. Get it or fall behind.

The Olympics folk are still hanging about the agora in Athens waiting for the lemon stand to open.


More than 17% of 2000 Canadians recently polled "said they would not want a gay person living next door."


What exactly is the nature of this fear? Your nose will fall off? The trees will no longer bear...may I say it, fruit? Icicles will become permanent colors yet? Your sons and daughters will switch teams? Your husband will? Your husband HAS?
Dear 17 percenters: Try to get a life.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Garth Turner is a maverick. He was also, until yesterday, an Independent Member of Parliament. He was elected as a Conservative for the district of Halton, Ontario. However, he was thrown out of caucus by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Yesterday, he joined the Liberals. None of this should be of much surprise or even note, especially to those of us here on the Wet Coast, who continue to live with the shame of David Emerson, elected as a Liberal, sitting from Day One as a Conservative.

What makes Mr. Turnercoat's actions so pitiable was this quote, "I have found a home."

How squishy, how yukkie, how terribly 70's sensitive!

Will someone please explain to the modern politician that it is not about YOU, nobody cares about HOW YOU FEEL. It's about the citizens. It's about health care and law and order and immigration and jobs and global warming and the well-being of the community.

You self-centred, self-absorbed, selfish fools - please get day jobs and leave governance to those rare few who might be able to handle it.


HIV incidence was 75 percent higher among daily users of Vancouver’s needle exchange program (NEP) than among drug abusers that did not use the program, according to a new study published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Medicine. Vancouver, Canada boasts the largest NEP in the Western Hemisphere.

Why has this not been reported in the local news?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


The tiny, sneering simulacrum of a circus clown who has been posing, lo these past several years, as the president of what claims to be the largest and most powerful democracy on earth, has done it again.

We posted the other day, Mr. Bush's determination to whack a handsome $70 Billion or so from Medicare and Medicade expenditures. And this in a vast and rich land with 45 million of its imperial subjects without any medical coverage whatsoever.
Now, the Worst Executive America Has Ever Had to Tolerate has released his budget for the coming year. The total near $3 Trillion, if you can get your noodle around that. I can't; why should you?
(This photo, by the way, is built with the pictures of American soldiers who have died in Iraq. Enough said.)
"The President's budget is filled with debt and deception, disconnected from reality...," says Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota and Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. Senator Judd Gregg, the top republican on the Committee, said of the President's budget, "I don't think it has a lot of legs." Or arms or lips.
What is so appalling is that the Pentagon budget now accounts for more than one-fifth of all expenditures! Think about that for a moment. More than twenty per cent of the total federal purse in a nation that is theoretically living in Peace Time is being spent on War.
The fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is now tagged at something in the neighbourhood of $150 Billion. How few months ago was it that Donald Rumsfeld promised these excursions would not cost more than $50 Billion? Nice work, boys.
I remember so many years ago watching the Republican National Convention and seeing all those good souls cheering on Richard Nixon. I remember feeling pinned to the sofa in horror and disbelief. Didn't they know this guy was a Major Creep, that he would turn out to be what we all knew him to be, a sleazy crook?
Then I watched the good people rallying for Bush. And my feelings at watching that spectacle made my earlier feelings with Nixon seem like euphoria.
Today, the only people who have clarity are the comedians and the satirists. Somebody please help us all.