Sunday, November 30, 2008

We Are Sinking

We are crawling back into the sludge from whence science tells us we originally escaped.

I am thinking about the recent municipal elections and the current Cirque De Oy Vay in Ottawa.

I understand people's reluctance to vote. I vigorously don't agree with this decision, but I understand it. The price of democracy is ever steady vigilance and that includes casting a vote for the worse of numerous evils and dunderheads. It's the act of voting that counts first.

In the case of the civic elections, try to use the fingers of more than one hand to add up the candidates, let alone the elected, who were worthy of public service. In Vancouver, for example, Suzanne Anton, NPA, David Cadman, Independent, and Raymond Louie, Vision, come to mind as serious, well-informed councillors who have a contribution to make. There may be others; that's up to you to decide.

But what a paucity of leadership. What a vacuum of inspiration or excitement.

Neither of the two leading mayoral candidates could qualify as a political high-jumper. Good fellows, dull as last week's sports page, and without any real muscular argument.

Where are the Walter Hardwicks, Harry Rankins, Jonathan Bakers or even George Puils? Where are the vigorous hearts and minds of men and women who really know the territory and who have a clear point of view and some sense of what the City ought to be?

At the federal level, we are now saddled with the most unseemly mess I can remember in a long, long time.

Do you really believe that Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion, Jack Layton or Gilles Duceppe cares a whit for your welfare at this time? Did they ever?

This is a transparent and ugly case of children fighting in the sandbox about who has the biggest toy truck.

Which might all be mildly amusing were it not for the fact that, given a world economy in disaster mode, we have rarely needed more a non-partisan effort of clear and focused minds on the task in front of us.

There are some among you that believe that Canada is curiously inoculated against the tides of bad news flowing daily from every index in the world. You are wrong.

We need leadership. We need people who can look ahead and make decisions today about the auto industry, about health, about defense, about crumbling infrastructure in our cities.

What we have instead is an abomination of self-aggrandizing cupidity.

Will we ever again have real political candidates and leaders?

The Four Fools do not qualify.

Where We Are

Following is a letter currently in circulation. It speaks for itself. It tells us about a Conservative Party that is as full of blarney as the parties they rightfully oppose. This now is the devolution of government and politics in action. Four parties with not a whit of concern for Canadian citizens. Four parties utterly self-involved. A pox on all their shabby houses.

----- Original Message -----
From: Irving R. Gerstein, Chair, Conservative Fund Canada
Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2008 3:47 AM
Subject: The privilege to govern must be earned, not taken.

The privilege to govern must be earned, not taken.

November 29, 2008

Dear Ms. Dickinson,

The Liberal Party was completely rejected by Canadians in the last election. They received their lowest share of the popular vote since Confederation.

Now the Liberals are trying to take power through the back door.

As you read this letter, the Liberals are holding secret negotiations with the socialist NDP and the separatist Bloc Québécois to overturn the wishes of Canadian voters and take power.

They want to take power and impose on Canadians a Prime Minister without a personal mandate, a Liberal-NDP Coalition not one voter has ever endorsed and have it all backstopped by the separatist Bloc Québécois who simply want to destroy the country.

We need your help to ensure that they do not succeed!

Senior Liberal insiders are trying to fool Canadians into thinking their scheme has something to do with the economy.

But it is clear the Liberals do not care about the economy. They only care about re-gaining power and re-gaining their entitlements. They've learned nothing since being turfed out of office over the sponsorship scandal.

On October 14th, Canadians passed judgment on the Liberals.

The Liberals have no mandate to lead a government.

The Liberals have no mandate to cut a deal with the NDP.

And the Liberals certainly do not have a mandate to cut a deal with the separatists who want to destroy our country.

This backroom deal is so unprecedented and so undemocratic that Canadians must have their say.

This is Canada. The privilege to govern must be earned, not taken. We cannot let this happen.

When an election occurs - and it must - the Conservative Party will have to wage the fight of its life.

We now know we are no longer competing just with the Official Opposition. We are competing against a coordinated campaign between Liberals, socialists and separatists to impose their agenda on Canadians.

I am asking you to make an emergency donation of $200 or $100 - whatever you can afford to protect Canada's future and protect Canada's democracy from being hijacked by politicians who care about nothing more than power and entitlements.

In the last election, Conservatives stood together and spoke out loud and clear about the kind of Canada they wanted.

Now we must stand together once again to ensure that the wishes of the voters are respected.

Time is of the essence. Please respond immediately.


Irving Gerstein,C.M., O.Ont
Chair, Conservative Fund Canada

PS: We also need you to write letters to the editor, call Talk Radio and let the Liberals and NDP know what you think of their plan to overturn the Government without seeking the consent of Canadians.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Big Brains Think Alike


Yesterday I said in this space that the so-called leaders of our federal parties are all irresponsible children (Buffoons Abound).

Today, the Globe & Mail editorial says it would be helpful if there were some adults in Ottawa.


I knew there was a reason I switched papers.


Now we started the Korean War.

David Ahenakew, the First Nations leader who explained a while back why Hitler was right to "fry a lot of those guys" and thus lost his Order of Canada citation, among other disgraces visited upon his righteous head, has now offered this tasty tidbit of History According to the Truly Nutty:

Jews started the Korea War.


And the Second World War and the Peloponessian War and right back there all the way through time.

This 75-year old man is so sad.

He now babbles incomprehensibly and we record every little nuance.

Could someone please lead him to pure waters and give him a cookie and hold his hand.

Just asking

Why has Jamie Graham gone from being Vancouver's Chief of Police to being Victoria's Chief of Police?

JIngle Bells

Ah, Christmas.


More love.

Except for the lunatics who stormed a Wal-Mart at 5 am yesterday in Long Island, NY and trampled to death a "temporary" worker.

Which brings and entirely new definition to the phrase "temporary worker."

Apparently everyone was subsequently s intent on their Christmas shopping bargains, no one noticed or attended to Mr. Trampled.

Not to be outdone in the Spirit of Christmas giving, a pair of determined fathers exchanged lead at a Toys R Us in sleepy old Palm Springs yesterday. That's right. They shot each other dead over some terribly significant dispute. No doubt a Game Boy or iPod.

Ah, Christmas...

Paradise Tossed

Salt Spring Island has a lovely hospital and a lovely new operating room.

Unfortunately it has no surgeon, so folks with problems are helijetted to the rescue.

Nice Islands Trust management! Nice Gary Lunn, MP, attention to the people who keep mysteriously electing you. This guy will soon rival Dr. Hedy for the How Does It Happen award.

As for the Trust geniuses, they're so busy selling waterfront homes in the low 2 millions that they forgot to run the medical services. Oooops...

City Saga

Why did Estelle Lo resign her $220,000 a year position as Vancouver City Hall;s Chief Financial Officer?

That takes an awful lot of courage or accumulated bile in a market falling through the black holes of the night.

Why was Lo given a one-year severance package when that is against the rules for someone who resigns?

Why will she say nothing in public? Has she signed a non-disclosure agreement?

Why did neither the City Councillors or even the lame-duck mayor, Mr. Sullivan, know that she had resigned? Did she sneak out through the DELIVERIES ONLY door?

And what has all this to do with the Athlete$ Village deal?

Listen in tomorrow, same time, same station, for the continuing story of how a little town by the sea lost its way only to be rescued by a brash coroner, then a Dr. Strangelove and now, at last, a child of happiness and flowing juices.

Mumbai well examined

Doug Saunders has written two revealing pieces in the Globe this morning about Mumbai. His essay ttiled "This is India's 9/11? Think again" is particularly worth a read.

Keith Olberman on Prop 8

Victor on Ottawa

Looking at events transpiring in Ottawa, one has to take a moment to
appreciate the absurdity of it all.

Three men, from three opposing political parties, one of whom is
committed to the destruction of Canada will visit Canada's Head of
State. They will appeal to her to let them take over government, based
on their united vision for the country. Three months ago they were
savaging each other as political incompetents incapable of either
vision or leadership.

The Head of State was appointed by former Prime Minister shortly
before he was tossed out of office. Her previous experience consisted
of hosting a Quebec TV show that had lower ratings than the Latvian
Accordian Hour. Her husband dallied with separatists.

It is to laugh. The alternative is too sad to contemplate.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Open Letter to Senor Monumento

Jillian Skeet

An Open Letter to Premier Campbell

November 28th, 2008

Premier Gordon Campbell

Box 9041, Station Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1

Dear Premier Campbell,

I wrote you a letter last February with heart-wrenching details about the destruction of small family-owned businesses along Cambie Street and the terrible human costs as a result of the disastrous way in which the Canada Line project has been undertaken.

My letter was duly forwarded by you to the Minister of Transportation for response. Over half a year later, I received a response from Minister Falcon simply reiterating the same old arguments the government has been using since the outset of this project.

Your government continues to insist that you are simply a funder of the Canada Line and are not responsible for the project. However, it was you who forced municipal authorities to vote three times on this project until it was finally approved. This was not only undemocratic, but it clearly puts your government in the driver’s seat on the project.

The Canada Line is the biggest P3 project ever undertaken in Canada. It is not simply another public works project. It is unprecedented in its scope, duration and impacts. It is a new construction model that exhibits serious problems in both its implementation and in the chain of command.

My neighbourhood at Cambie and Marine Drive was virtually barricaded for more than a year with no safe or reasonable access for residents or for emergency vehicles. Every access route along Cambie - including 59th Avenue on which both an ambulance and fire station are located - was simultaneously closed. Fire trucks and ambulances faced major detours and delays. (A city transportation report dated January 20th, 1998 states: "59th Avenue is a primary access point for many residents east of Cambie, and is the only through east-west street south of 49th and north of Marine Drive.")

For months before I had a car accident, I dealt with both City and Canada Line officials about our access nightmare. The lack of safe traffic management resulted in many car accidents in addition to my own. The Canada Line blamed the City saying that they decided the traffic patterns, while the City told me that they had insisted on a bridge to maintain access to our neighbourhood at 59th. So just who was in charge?

The promises of minimal disruption and two to three months of construction at any given location were broken in every instance. Canada Line contractors were given freedom to do what they wanted, where they wanted, how they wanted, for as long as they wanted, with absolutely no oversight or accountability. This is an unacceptable flaw in the P3 structure and as the award-winning champion of these projects, the buck has to stop with you. Your government now insists that all projects over $20 million must use the P3 model, so the implications are far reaching.

Your government has always stressed that those who have been so inconvenienced by Canada Line construction will benefit in the long-term, but many businesses and residents along the Canada Line will be priced out of the area due to rezoning and redevelopment. The 70 families including 90 children in my townhouse complex at Cambie and Marine Drive were recently faced with reno-viction notices from the new owners who purchased the complex a year and a half ago.

In recent weeks we have learned of government bail-outs of large corporations working on Olympics projects. The City of Vancouver provided a $100 million dollar loan to Millennium Development and your government handed over more than $50 million to cover Canada Line losses as result of investments in the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the U.S. In both instances, the first we learned of these corporations’ difficulties was when the money was handed over. In contrast, we’ve watched small family-owned businesses along the Canada Line dying a slow and painful death for the last three years while your government has repeatedly turned its back on them.

Your government insists that helping the small businesses and families destroyed by your project would set a dangerous precedent and yet, you don’t hesitate to set a costly precedent by bailing out large corporations.

The last two bi-elections and the recent Vancouver election are a clear indictment of your government’s attitude towards, and treatment of, the citizens and small businesses in this province. The Canada Line disaster will remain a blot on your government’s record until it is remedied.

There must be full compensation for the small businesses and promises to all of us that this disaster will never be repeated in the Province of British Columbia.


Jillian Skeet

A23 – 445 SW Marine Drive (at Cambie)

Vancouver, BC V5X 2R9


Tieleman's on the Case - and we say, "Thank you."

I wrote earlier today (Benefits Whom?) about the yet again delaying of the Basi-Virk trial.

But for the real and full story with all the gory details of this ongoing travesty of justice - hell, cover up - you must read Bill Tieleman's great piece posted on his blog yesterday.

Read it here. It's an example of great reporting. Many an observe has rightly aid that this case is perhaps the most important to appear in B.C. in a long, long time.

Keep watching and listening for any soundings as they may emerge from the well-orchestrated fog.

KIndred Spirit, Victor, Signs In

Hi David:

Welcome back from the writer's shed. Hope it went well.

In your absence, there was a moment on the Bill Goo show when I
thought of you. Norm Spector called down Gregor Robertson for having
his campaign financed by American lobbyists, pointing out that
offshore campaign financing is illegal at the provincial and federal
levels. Replied Goo, " I didn't know he got money from Americans."
Spector, by the way, lives in Victoria. and works alone.

Yet here's Goo, his bloated self, smugly ensconced on two networks,
with full staff support, unaware of a smelly political issue under his
porcine nose. You detailed it in full on your blog. Of course you have
a massive research staff.

On another note, my cancellation f the Vancouver Sun has brought
morning bliss into my life. Mildew, Yappy, McMumble, Fatlic, Hume-
orless ,Smeargig and Daffy are morning intruders no more. So long to
the 7 dorks.


Craig's ON, as always...

Retired Justice Wallace CRaig has written another excellent column about the criminal injustice system, poublished today in the North Shore News.

Read it here.


Here's what we're stuck with for the moment at the highest level of political and government leadership in the land.

The Prime Minister has added nothing in the way of economic stimulus to his current plans. America is scrambling and fighting and re-organizing 24 hours a day to deal with the worst economic downturn in half a century. Billions of dollars will be spent to revive the barely breathing patient. But up here in Everything is Beautiful Land, biz as usual.

This is, in my estimation, Harper's biggest foolishness to date. And it's huge.

Add to that his play to end public financing of political parties and you've got The Week from Dumb.

Now, on the other side of the house, just in case you thought things couldn't get worse, you've got the Twin Goof Brothers of Layton and Dion actually threatening another election.

Is there anyone left in the land who knows the first thing about public service or prudent management?

Children, Good Night

British Columbia leads again.

In the child poverty race.

Given the world economy, Mr. Campbell and Mr. Hansen are not likely to open the provincial purse for something as unimportant as kindergarten or day care or more teachers or spaces for children.

Not when that road to Whistler has to be completed, no sir. Not when there are cement and glass monuments to be built.

We, the hapless voters, are trapped between a government that has a cheezy, almost inhuman vision and an opposition that, if elected, would probably create an unholy mess.

Nice choice: Moral bankruptcy vs. financial bankruptcy.

Time to read a good book.

Benefits Whom?

The Basi-Virk trial will be delayed again.

This time on the most obscure grounds. The prosecution is taking all the way to the highest court in the land their argument that they must not reveal the identoty of a key informant.

All of that may be supremely important somewhere, somehow.


This case has now become the poster child for jutice delayed is justice denied.

We can hardly be called lone cynics if many of us now believe there are other forces at work here.

The trial will now most likely not be heard until after the spring provincial election.



Muslim insurgents? Pakistani militants? Al Queda cousins?


Please don't ask me to understand them.

Please don't ask me to understand their complaints and their actions.

The wiser among you will argue that we must understand our enemies.

Deepak Chopra, that colossal snake-oil salesman and multi-millionaire fake, spoke passionately on CNN the other day about our need to "accommodate."

Bless me and pity me. For I am one of the Limited Ones.

I see no reason that can explain the Mumbai attacks.

I see no accomplishment.

Mumbai, like 911, is an act of senseless evil. Stupid, directionless young men were manipulated into using guns and grenades to kill innocent flesh.


Bassekou Kouyate - Ngoni Fola

Friday, November 14, 2008


Here's my last commentary for a while.

The Vancouver Sun editorial, on the day before the municipal elections, goes on for several weighty paragraphs and then (has the good taste?) doesn't have the male dangly parts to endorse either Peter Ladner or Gregor Robertson.

And you wonder why I cancelled my subscription.

At the good advice of my two dearest friends in the world, I am taking a real break.

The Berner Monologues blog will be shut down for the next two weeks. It will re-open on Friday, November 28th.

Most forlorn among you will be the extremely bereft and sick man who hates me so much, he lives only to read my blog and send me his daily hate mail.

Dear Hating Man With No Apparent Other Purpose,

I hope, in the coming 14 days, you find some dog to bark at or grocery clerk to suspect of cheating you. I pray you may latch onto some other radio show, TV program or website that excites your juices as much as my work does.

I pray also for your family. You must a beach party on wheels.

For all the rest of you...

Bon vacance, bon chance, don't let the new Vision City Council, Park Board and School Board depress you too much.

Walk, swim, read, talk, laugh, sing...

Thursday, November 13, 2008


1. I cancelled my Vancouver Sun subscription yesterday. My new Globe & Mail delivery will begin in 2 weeks. Goodbye Milo, goodbye Mildew, Goodbye Yappy. Goodbye to front pages without news.

2. Leaving this morning for 2 weeks on Vanciouver Island to do some writing and relaxing. I will write blog every morning, BUT...

I email the blog through my main serve,, and unless I am literally connected to them as I am at home base, it is impossible to send much mail.

Therefore, if you enjoy these ramblings from time to time...just to be sure you see them, please BOOKMARK this page today and check in on it.

3. MY PREDICTION for the civic election results on Saturday night in Vancouver:

Gregor Robertson and the Vision team will all but

annihilate the NPA. You will see a city council, park board and school board dominated by Vision electees.

You will also see a city council even worse, if possible, than the one about to dissolve.

Example of the problem Behind the Gregor Backer$

The following is a great example of why we can’t afford to have Gregor Robertson as Mayor with his mentor , Joel Solomon—the brains behind the Endswell Foundation and a leader in social enterprises that are trying to accelerate the pace of social change.


went bankrupt in April ‘07

In the words of IMPACS founding Execeutive Director Shauna Sylvester as written on the blog of the Vancouver Social Enterprise Forum:

“Why would an organization that had an incredible board and staff team, an extensive network of allies and partners, a long-pipeline of potential projects and a ten-year history of working with civil society organizations in Canada and internationally fold? In part, I think it was because IMPACS was an entrepreneurial organization. It operated as a non-profit enterprise in an environment where the supports have not yet been fully developed to support such organizations.”

Translation: People who operate non-profits and try to compete in the business sector as “social enterprises” can’t survive because operating a non-profit is not like running a business. The people who run non-profits usually don’t have business skills and business experience. They measure success differently therefore they can’t be as accountable as business must be to survive.

“In their memo announcing the bankruptcy, the board of IMPACS identified two key issues: the federal government severe cutbacks of non-profit organizations (IMPACS client base) and the lack of core funding. To these two issues I would add:”

Translation: Those of us who can’t admit our own failure can only look to blame someone else. We were a on-profit group that was used to relying on taxpayer handouts controlled by governments. Seeing our demise, when we tried to be something other than a non-profit, we realize our “business model” that was supposedly at the core of our social enterprise venture was flawed because it was not at all about doing business, but it was about relying on handouts from taxpayers—handouts that aren’t available to “businesses”.

· “the increasing transaction costs of dealing with government (which were not compensated)”

Translation: You have to pay for expensive accounting when your “non-profit” managers try to run a business and screw up the books so much they can’t acocunt for the taxpayers’ dollars they were granted by government.

· “the irrational accountability structures that some government departments like CIDA and Industry Canada put in place (that shifted by the hour and were entirely dependent on who was on the other end of the phone),”

Translation: Can you believe it? The government wanted us to account for the taxpayers dollars they gave us? What crap!

· “ the lack of appropriate financial instruments for social enterprise organizations (social enterprises need patient capital),

Translation: no right-minded investor would trust us with his investment dollars knowing that we know nothing about running a business.

· “the lack of consultants with expertise in social enterprise management,”

Translation: people whose experience is limited to the non-profit sector have no skills or knowledge to compete in the business world.

· the lack of a level playing field for NGOs in government procurement (unlike their private sector counterparts, IMPACS could not charge their billable rate for government contracts that they bid on and won - they could only charge the actual cost of salary and benefits),

· the inappropriate regulatory regime for charities (e.g. the restrictions on advocacy and the restrictions on operating a related business),

Translation: the law doesn’t allow you to raise money for charity and use it instead for political action. You also can’t use tax sheltered charitable dollars by laundering them through a business that “masks” as a charity.

· the increasing cost of insurance (and the rise in liability, especially working in conflict zones), and

· the lack of a skilled ‘labour pool’ (there are many people who are skilled in working in non-profit organizations but it is very rare to find people with the values, the entrepreneurial sensibilities, the international outlook and the strategic orientation to work in an organization like IMPACS).

Translation: no need to translate.

Courier's Mark Hsiuk's Excellent Piece on Mayors and Insite

Mr.Robertson's neighbourhood

Future bleak for Mr. Robertson's neighbourhood
Published in the Vancouver Courier: Monday, Nov.10.

This weekend Vancouverites head to the polls to choose our next mayor. On most issues, both candidates-NPA Coun. Peter Ladner and Vision Vancouver hopeful Gregor Robertson-sing off the same song sheet.

But what about the Downtown Eastside? Our city's ugly blight. Our six blocks of shame. Our little election's Iraq war.

Both candidates promise to clean up the neighbourhood in time for the 2010 Olympics. Yet both cling to former NPA mayor Philip Owen's Four Pillars drug strategy, which relies heavily on so-called "harm reduction" to combat addiction and crime. And both believe in the Insite supervised injection site, harm reduction's shining obelisk at 139 East Hastings.

However, Ladner says "no" to more injection sites. One is enough. The Insite model, he says, should not be exported to other areas of the city. But Robertson wants more. He envisions a city teeming with Insites. He supports erecting similar models in yet-to-be-named neighbourhoods, so junkies from Point Grey to Hastings/Sunrise need not travel far for their fix. Possible Robertson campaign slogan: "No fun city? Not for long."

Additionally, during the Courier's mayoral debate in October, Robertson failed to pooh-pooh former COPE Mayor Larry Campbell's idea of a government-funded crack house, where addicts inhale a soul-crushing toxin as nurses hand out shiny new crack pipes to the living dead.
Possible Robertson campaign slogan No. 2. "Team Robertson: we'll try anything once."
Robertson also wants to establish a "roundtable on prostitution," and said he was "not in favour of legalized brothels, at this time."

At this time. Right. How about after you get elected? How about after your roundtable, packed with harm reduction aficionados, calls for indoor "work sites" and a red light district?

Possible Robertson campaign slogan No. 3. "Vote Robertson: they love him in Amsterdam." Simply put, Robertson doesn't get it. The Downtown Eastside requires a cultural revolution, not more government enabling. The seven years since Owen ushered in his Four Pillars strategy have been a disaster. By all accounts, things get worse every day. The open drug market thrives. Chinatown is under siege. Homelessness has doubled, a trend owed not only to a lack of housing but to the Downtown Eastside's courtship of drug users.

Which leads back to Insite. Most Insite users typically shoot up elsewhere at some point during the day. And Insite accounts for less than five per cent of all injections in the neighbourhood. Still, proponents claim Insite reduces overdoses, needle sharing and public injections. But they don't consider the cultural consequences.

Why do people come to the Downtown Eastside? Because that's where the drugs are. Insite removes yet another impediment for drug abuse and surrenders the moral ground to drug dealers. Insite perpetuates a culture of drugs and excess-the two staples of addiction. And as with B.C.'s reckless methadone maintenance program, Insite offers no mandatory treatment. For every heroin addict Insite "helps," countless others are spawned in the dreary environment Insite helps create.

And Robertson wants more. Perhaps he's listened to vocal members of B.C.'s medical community-a viper's nest of harm reduction PhDs. Folks like Dr. Julio Montaner, head of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, the "independent third party research and evaluation" organization charged with justifying Insite's existence. Or UBC's Dr. John Hepburn, who helped pen a scolding letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2007 after the Conservatives dared question Insite's effectiveness. Hepburn frequently cites the "best interests of patients" in his Insite defense--a revealing statement that embodies the narrow thinking of harm reduction fanatics.

Note to Dr. Hepburn: the Downtown Eastside is not your office waiting room, where patients thumb through back issues of People magazine while waiting for prescriptions. Policies administered in Insite's sterile confines have wide-reaching ramifications that can't be discovered in a UBC laboratory. The neighbourhood is rotting, and we'll never keep up with the destructive results of wanton drug abuse if drug abuse is part of the solution.

So when you hit the polls this Saturday, cast your vote carefully. The fate of many addicted and mentally ill people may hang in the balance. An expansion of harm reduction will expand the Downtown Eastside. Like Obama says, it's time for "Change We Need." Nobody needs more "harm reduction" help from city hall.
Or more accurately, nobody deserves that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Who Payed for Gregor?

Gregor Robertson and the Vision team in their flurry of daily announcements included the other day the list of contributors to Robertson’s mayoral campaign.

It is no doubt honest and true.

But it hardly tells the story.

Dig deep enough – and why hasn’t any Vancouver journalist done this? – and you will learn that Robertson is backed by a very curious group of strongly interwoven people, all of the same stripe, all of the same background and inclinations, many sharing corporate affiliations, many Americans, and all with a special take on the world.

Each of the persons named below and each of the corporations or non-profits are all inter-linked. They all know each other well. They all are principals in same or linked companies. They can all be “Googled,” with the most interesting results. They have similar lives and apparently similar dreams and goals.

It is the latter that should concern Vancouver voters. Their Yellow Brick Road will cost you dearly.

Gregor Robertson’s main financial support comes from a group of people, many American citizens, starting with Joel Solomon. Solomon, originally from Tennessee, has just become a Canadian citizen. He is the money and the brains behind Happy Planet Foods. He is Vice-Chair of Tides Canada Foundation, chair of the board of Hollyhock Retreat, involved with IMPACS, The Tyee, Pivot Foundation, Pivot Legal Society, and The Endswell Foundation, among others.

He and Carol Newell are Founders of Renewal Partners. Newell is the heir to the U.S. Rubbermaid Co. fortune.

Robertson has received help (funding? cash?) from the following American citizens:

Andrew Beath, Founder, Earthways Foundation, Malibu, California; Gary Hirshberg, Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt, Londonderry, New Hampshire; Paulette Cole, ABC Home and Planet Foundation, Manhattan, New York; Allan & Marion Hunt-Badiner, San Francisco; and Dr. Andrew Weil (bearded Oprah guru), Tucson, Arizona, among others.

Another key player is a man named Drummond Pike, who is the Founder and CEO of Tides USA. Tides provides fiscal sponsorship for over 200 non-profit projects across the US, launches and operates green non-profit centres and has granted more than $500 million dollars since 2000 alone.

Pike could be the poster boy for all of these folks. He lives in Mill Valley, California and describes himself as “a licensed commercial river guide in the Grand Canyon and is an amateur wine maker. He is also an avid runner and squash player.”

In other words, he is fabulous and wonderful.

Everyone I have mentioned is fabulous and wonderful. They are almost all enormously wealthy.

Their public presentation is all about giving and philanthropy. Their private reality is money, real estate, power and more money.

They have almost all been criticized and scrutinized for laundering money from one donor or charity to another, often without much question about results or accountability.

They are all ardent believers in the mantra of the “triple bottom line.” This hot paradigm, this vogue of the privileged class, calls for corporations to focus on “people, planet & profits.” You not only have to make money, you have to have happy employees and green goals and processes. If your CEO or chief administrative assistant wants to take a few weeks off in the middle of sensitive negotiations, that's cool. Because we want everyone to be happy.

Here’s the triple headed problem.

Why is support for Gregor Robertson’s run at the Vancouver Mayor’s Chair coming from rich Americans? If Ladner or Campbell before him had the backing of rich Texas right wing fundamentalist arms manufacturers, can you imagine the stink?

What do these people and Robertson really want?

I’ll take a guess.

They want to use public money to further their special social goals.

For example, yesterday, approaching and cashing in on Remembrance Day in the most cynical way, the Vision team announced that they wanted to insure that City Hall would be working on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Canadian Veterans.

City Hall? Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

This is a Health issue and therefore the complete purview of the Federal and Provincial Governments. The City has no role in such an issue, nor should it.

And as you know, we've done such a great job at the city level with addictions, mental health and homelessness.

But, if Robertson and his crew win on Saturday – as they surely will – watch for the onslaught of 1001 new social engineering programs. Watch for the marriage of city coffers and time and energies with some familiar non-profits and foundations.

As surely as George W. Bush has been widely acknowledged to be the puppet of known and unknown masters like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Halliburton et al, Gregor Robertson is the pretty face of a movement led by wealthy ideologues, living in the shadows.

They are determined to change the world, one kumbaya moment after another. Which would be their prerogative, except that they are making a play to use your money.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Candy-Date, Episode Two

Now that I am looking at a foto of Kerry Jang, Vision Candidate, I realize that I saw him again at our second mayoral debate on October 29th.

He appeared at about 7, a half hour before the debate began, looking somewhat lost.

I thought he was the same man who had stared and glared at me so threateningly the last time out, but I decided to choose kindness and emppathy, and I greeted him warmly.

He pretended not to know who I was.

I asked, "Aren't you with the Vision team?"

He said, "No."

I indicated that Vision had a table in the hallway if he wanted to chat with them before the debate.

He drifted over in that direction and I never really noticed him again for the rest of the evening.

But think about this.

One night he is attacking me verbally and staring at me maniacally and is completely in 5th gear.

28 days later, he is pretending to be anonymous and not who he is and hiding in the shadows.

This is a Professor of Psychiatry, a member of the Federal Mental Health Commission, and a candidate for Vancouver City Council?

Protect us, Oh Ye Who Guides the Stars.


The Jang photo is taken by Linda Solomon, the sister of Joel Solomon, who is featured in the Robertson story (that will appear tomorrow morning) above.

My Province Column

is no more...

Last week, I received a very warm and gracious call from Province newspaper Editor-in-chief - Wayne Moriarty.

He explained that times were tough and the paper was cutting back everywhere and that included visiting columnists.

Moriarity took great pains to assure me that this was not a reflection of the work, which they liked very much.

We agreed that from time to time, as the spirit may move me, I will pitch an idea or two, which, from time to time, they will buy.

All of which is O.K. by me.

From Victor - We are Not Alone

For those who wonder how bad it can get for cities under the thrall of incompetent politicians who think the can play with the Wall St. boys, here's a quick tale of Birmingham Alabama. It is bankrupt to the tune of $3.2 billion, for a new sewer system,designed to serve a mere 146,000 people. It was initially estimated to cost $250 million. It bumped to $1.2 billion. Then the geniuses who run the city council went to Wall St. hedge fund firms. The debt soon ballooned to $3.2 billion, for a sewer system intended to serve a city the size of Victoria.

But Alabama doesn't brush over these things. So far there are 21 convictions for this scam. More to come. The whole story is in the October 27th issue of Fortune magazine, which is probably read by 4 people in left wing Vancouver. Worth a read. It could happen to us, unless of course we think we're smarter than the folks in Birmingham. That would be a tad elitist, wouldn't it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Candidate on the Loose

Vision council candidate Kerry Jang is a Professor of Psychiatry at UBC and a member of the Federal Mental Health Commission.

He is also a candidate for City Council.

Here is a short story on Jang's behaviour.

At the first Mayoral debate on Oct. 1st at the Library downtown, I asked a question of Ladner and Robertson about busing in ethnic voters who knew little about the issues, didn't speak English and were given fake ballots by the Vision team.

Jang, who was in the audience, sprang to his feet and yelled, "How do you know if they knew the issues?"

The debate continued until its natural conclusion at 9 pm.

When 300+people were milling about after the debate, Jang stood a few feet away from me and glared.

Glared psychotically and threateningly.

I said, "Yes?"

And we went off ranting at me, "I know who you are! I know what you're all about!"

Then he stood a few feet away from me and stared at me with complete hatred.

I have spent half my life working with criminals and drug addicts and I know danger when I see it.

I made sure that I could see him clearly in the crowd until he left. And I made sure I knew where the security people were as well.

Professor of Psychiatry and member of the Federal Mental Health Commission,

That speaks volumes for those two august bodies.

Good luck.

Famous Last Words - The Village Idiot File

Any money that may have been loaned is fully secured by the real estate and by other assets as well," Malek (Millenium principal) said in a brief telephone interview. "There is absolutely no exposure for the taxpayer. None."

Rule of Life # 7: As soon as you hear that everything is safe, head for the life boats.

Today the headlines are all about who leaked the document?

Who cares?

Let's say for a moment that the world is not entirely black or white.

Let's imagine that somewhere in the middle ground All Secret and All Exposed are not reasonable options.

When you hear Philip Owen or any other elected official going on about how the public will know things in due time, of course you are offended by the sheer arrogance.

But certainly it must have been possible, it must still be possible, for City Hall to share enough information with the public about SPENDING $100 MILL LION TAXPAYERS MONEY to satisfy our grubby little curiosity.

Sensitive negotiations can be respected.

But when an elected body of alleged government promises enormous amounts of public funds on a deal shrouded entirely in secrecy, something is off kilter.

And all the happy-go-lucky columnists insisting that everything will be O.K., kids, does not make it either right or suddenly pleasing.

To save his bacon, Peter Ladner must tell us something useful and understandable about this Village Idiot deal.

Standing in the rain in the DTES and talking about 400 square foot portable tin can temporary shelters that are a bad and arrogant idea at the outset will not win the election.

Try a little exposure.

Too Busy for Democracy - How Important You Must Be

Perhaps the most important thing you need to know about the upcoming civic elections has nothing to do with what the candidates are promising or what their recent crimes may have been.


The really important thing comes from a Frances Bula piece in Saturday's Globe & Mail.

Here it is:

In 2005, the number of people who voted in Vancouver was 32% of eligible voters. In Victoria, 26%; in Prince Rupert, 46%; in Chilliwack, 15% and in Kelowna, 31%.


Tomorrow is a National Holiday.

It is called Remembrance Day.

You buy a poppy from a boy scout and wear it as a badge on the lapel of your raincoat.

But you don't vote.

Let's say it again for the 900th time.

Men and women fought and died in World Wars so that you could have the honorable privilege of throwing away your franchise, behaving like a selfish neanderthal and not exercising your right to vote.

Oh, we know.

You don't like the candidates and this is your little rebellion.

You are too busy.

When we are too busy to practice the simplest rites of democracy, we are rushing headlong to a precipice...and texting while we do it, no doubt.

It is your civic and moral responsibility to vote.

It doesn't matter that the quality of candidates has fallen dreadfully in the last 20 years.

It doesn't matter that you don't like Jack over Bob.

It only matters that you behave like a citizen.


Charter Burns

A couple move to Canada for the express purpose of subverting local laws and culture.

Their entire lives are devoted to criminal behaviour. They make fake passports, drivers' licences, marriage certificates and university degrees.

Their work is top notch. The police say it is impossible to "tell the difference."

This is a particularly heinous crime because...if we can't trust identifying documents, what can we trust?

Of course, by now, clever reader that you are, you can see where this is going.

Straight into the judicial toilet.

Out the front door because the police didn't have the right paperwork when they walked into this fine couple's home.

Rights infringed in bust, judge rules

Couple charged with making counterfeit documents acquitted

In throwing out charges of possession of forged documents and instruments of forgery, (Judge)Blouin warned the couple not to look on the acquittal as vindication. The evidence found in their home, the judge said, was a "serious crime" that could impact national security. "Short of violence I can't think of many more serious offences."

But he found the actions of the police even more serious, saying officers had entered the house without "much in the way of grounds."

Read the entire story from The Toronto Star here and light a black candle for Pierre Elliot Trudeau who has given us such a gift that never stops giving.

Oh yes, then go vote for his talented son because he has curly hair.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Connect the Dots

The line from General Motors to the Cambie Bridge is direct, unavoidable and frightening.

General Motors is a breath away from Don't Bother to Resuscitate.

They have suffered from insufferable mis-management.

The story about two keys - one for the door and one for the trunk - says it all. They couldn't find a CEO who would holler down the line, "One effing key, you eejits!"

And putting all your yeggs in the SUV basket made real sense. As much sense as Lehman Brothers putting all their yeggs in sub-prime mortgages.

Now if GM goes - and we can feel the vacuum rush already - what fun effect will that have on economies round the world?

Iceland is broke? Good grief. There are no safe havens. Unless you're one of the the regular Davos lunchers and you're privy to the Harbours of the Night, wherever they may be.

You think the Olympic Village project is going to be just fine? What's your name, Pete McMartin? What are you injecting these days? No wonder so many educated people support Insite - they know they may need it soon for themselves.

VillageGate has just begun. The mud will thicken considerably. The more you hear a Larry Campbell burp from the Red Chamber "Everything is fine," the more you should worry.

Now, the Vision team is re-writing history.

In George Orwell's "Animal Farm," the pigs, who rule, begin each day by re-writing yesterday on the side of the barn walls.

Gregor Robertson, Raymond Louie et al are calling for a re-vote on the Millennium Loan Caper. They have the bald-faced audacity to claim, on behalf of Louie and other Vision incumbents who were there at the in-camera Give-Away Barbecue and who voted Ay, in favor, that "there were facts we didn't have."


Presumably, Ladner and Sullivan and the NPA folks didn't have these mind-altering facts either.
What were they all injecting?

This is poli-spin of the most transparent kind.

Get real.

To save his bid for the Mayor's chair, Peter Ladner must give the voters something, some small tidbit of real information, some assurance - if any is possible - that there is a clean upside to this story somewhere in the future.

Until that happens...

The deal stinks, everyone was part of it, shut up and vote already.

New Kid of the Block

Please note that I have added a new blog your right...The Gazetteer.

Try him, you'll like him...

Cynics, Beware

Some of you may have been unhappy that I haven't published your comments on Barack Obama's election.

Some of you are cynical and superior about everything.

Loosen up. Try to be gracious and hopeful for a moment. You might even smile, who knows?

Obama has enormous challenges ahead, and no doubt he will stumble, even stumble badly.

But try to keep the blades sheathed until they're really needed.

Until then, allow yourself to consider that a decent and intelligent man - not a god, and certainly a wily politician - is now in the place where a fool has reigned for eight years. That alone should be cause enough for celebration. If you can allow yourself that.

In the meantime, read Maureen Dowd's reflection on matters presidential in the NY Times of the other night, thanks to my good buddy, Bill.

My Mother's Favorite Song - from Willie Nelson's Great "Stardust" album

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Villagegate will not go away

Yesterday, the Globe's Gary Mason, followed up his Villagegate story with this:

Vancouver council owes misled taxpayers answers

The piece is well worth your reading.

As is this letter to the editor in today's Sun:

The alleged approval of a $100-million loan to Millennium Development Corp. by Vancouver city council at an in camera meeting, if true, requires an immediate inquiry by the province. It has the effect of transforming the city into a commercial bank, and this lies outside the limits of council's powers over the disbursement of public funds. Vancouver taxpayers should be outraged by this cavalier use of property endowment funds to finance what is effectively a two-week event.

John Robertson, North Vancouver

Both Mason's column and the letter are in sharp contract to the sunny, rose-colored glasses adorable little modest take by the perennially jolly Pete McMartin.

Pete is a good fellow and a helluva good writer, but some day he have to take the propeller cap off his head, get out of short pants and notice that not all stories end happily ever after.

This Olympic Village bit of poison is one such story.

As I said yesterday, Gregor Robertson and the Vision strategists will keep this issue front and centre for the next week, and that's politics.

But the story deserves long legs.

One regular contributor to this site threw in this yesterday:

Left West Vancouver in the lurch on the development at Evelyn Drive - after three or four hearings and hundreds of expensive staff hours to prepare...
Left Nanaimo in the lurch on a multi-complex downtown development after hearings and hundreds of expensive staff.....

and this:

And, David...
Suzanne Anton said this about why Vancouver Council not giving taxpayers any details, "It is not in taxpayers' best interests to know all the details."

I hope that isn't true. I hope Anton did not say that. She is also someone who got my early vote.

Think about this:

Men and women, many of whom have never run a company or earned very much money and now earn $50,000 a year are making momentous decisions about the expenditure of hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars.

I am to believe that Sam Sullivan, Raymond Louie, Kim Capri et al can safely swim in the shark-infested waters of Big Deal Real Estate?

And I am to swallow whole this fantasy on faith because I am too sensitive or stupid or unschooled to share in all the secrets?

I don't think so, kids.

Today, Robert Matas, writing in the Globe, quotes my blog posting of yesterday, under this headline:

Loan for athletes village set to alter mayoral race

Speculation builds about how voters will react to controversy

His quote is accurate:

"Peter Ladner's bid for the Mayor's chair is finished," commentator David Berner said yesterday in an online posting on his website. "It is Over. Buried irrevocably by the Olympic Village story," added Mr. Berner, who identified himself as a disillusioned supporter of Mr. Ladner.

But, in speaking with Robert on the phone last night, I did not and do not characterize myself as a disillusioned supporter of Ladner.


I still hope he wins.

There are 15 people running for the Mayor's chair. Thirteen will get a few votes each. That leaves Peter and Gregor. They may not either be the best possible person on earth to be the Mayor of Vancouver in a perfect world. But they are the only two serious contenders.

And, of the two, in my opinion, Peter Ladner will make a better mayor.

If he can get past this infuriating dirty piece of business.

From David Beers, Editor, The

Hi David

Great post, with the usual take no prisoners Berner thrust.

But it's not true no other media have been on this. At The Tyee, for example, I believe I got the ball rolling on this scoop by reporting Ladner's admission that city hall was underwriting a 'struggling' Olympic village:

and then our reporter Geoff Demibicki followed up with this:

The Globe's Gary Mason got the (as yet unidentified) source that allowed his editor to go with his piece without a single named source. But city hall has stonewalled all other attempts, I can assure you.

Great Moments in World Leadership

How many times has Silvio Berlusconi been arrested or charged with crimes?

Ten? A dozen?

And like all good comic book characters, he can proudly claim, "Thirty-two arrests, no convictions!"

The fact that he is the richest man in Italy and owns all the newspapers and TV stations, among other things, and that the Italian people keep re-electing him Prime Minister does not speak well for a country many of us love.

Now, he has shown his true "colours."

In Moscow on Thursday, Berlusconi referred to President-Elect Barack Omaba as “young, handsome and suntanned.”


Of course, the man is an idiot, Of course, he is tasteless and crude and inferior.

But why do they keep electing him?