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.