Monday, October 6, 2008

When did I become "Dave?"

Political photo ops herald season of windy pies and airy puddings

Dave Berner, The Province

The Province

Tis the season of the photo op. The premier is in full election mode. As my mother used to say, "It's all windy pies and airy puddings." Let's examine three recent announcements: community courts, home care and tolls.

With great fanfare and considerable hope, Judge Thomas Gove and Wally Oppal, who poses regularly as B.C.'s Attorney-General, announced the opening of the Downtown Community Court.

Anybody who has ever given a moment's thought to the failures of our criminal justice system had to applaud. Let's stop the useless cycle of incarcerations that lead only to better equipped criminals and sociopaths. Let's divert these addicts and others into treatment.

Ah, if only. Unfortunately, this is a house of cards.

Retired Justice Wallace Craig put it best in his recent column in the North Shore News.

"Set in a sterile and disused pre-trial jail behind the Criminal Court at 222 Main Street, the Downtown Community Court will be a revolving-door court for drug addicts, a finger-in-the-dyke experiment that lacks the critical support of detoxification and residential treatment premises." Another in the long line of silver bullets meant to save the DTES in a thunderclap. Won't happen. Not until the real resources are there to complete the picture.

The same song was hauled out when Mary Polak, B.C.'s Minister of Healthy Living and Sports, stepped before the cameras to announce the government will expand home care for seniors.

Again, a welcome and overdue notion. It is not only more cost effective to serve many elderly patients in their homes, but it adds considerably to their sense of independence and quality of life.

A no-brainer, apparently -- until you examine the fine print.

Polak told reporters the province has developed four cornerstones: developing "age-friendly communities," supporting volunteerism, promoting healthy lifestyles and supporting older workers. I guess that's like The Four Pillars and we know how successful that has been. Sounds very nice, but where are the real teeth and the real dollars? Let me assure you from doing years of volunteer work with seniors that home care IS essential, but it costs money. You must pay nurses and home-care workers to come to Ben or Gail's apartment and help them with bathing, groceries and house cleaning. That takes real budgets for the workers and the support staff who organize the clients and their needs.

There is nothing in this fatuous announcement that speaks to the real delivery of real service.

This leads us finally up the "Coke" to the now abandoned toll booths. One commentator called this latest "B.C. blacktop politics at its best." It's a transparent sop to Kelowna voters and the trucking industry, this does not sit well with city folk and those who will soon pay tolls on the newly-twinned Port Mann Bridge.

Turn off the bubble machine.

© The Vancouver Province 2008

The War that can't be Won

The Vancouver Sun's new and much-touted make-over may or may not be the next best thing; time will tell.

But if their two stories on Afghanistan in the new "Canada & World " section is any indication, this change is most welcome.

In the first story, a British general states flatly, "We are Not going to win."

In the second, marking the 7th anniversary of America's military action in the region, analysts insist that we must "stay the course."

Very Funny

"Burn After Reading," the Coen Brothers latest movie is not their best (Nothing will ever top "Fargo," a movie for the ages.) but it is very, very funny.

It is the kind of movie you don't want to examine too deeply or it will slip through your fingers, but with this huge stellar cast and its raw satire of contemporary morals and government ineptitude, it keeps you laughing from start to finish.

Malkovich is at his best, especially in the opening scene, which, unto itself, is a lesson in acting.

And while Clooney and Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins and the rest of the gang are all first-rate, it is Brad Pitt who steals the show right from under their talented noses with his completely perfect impression of a goofy fitness instructor.

This one will play on TV and on DVD for years and we will watch it.


Late Night Music Club with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra featuring the Marcus Roberts Trio | Crooks and Liars

Late Night Music Club with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra featuring the Marcus Roberts Trio Crooks and Liars