Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Some mornings I just don't have the stomach for it...
So here, in no particular order of merit or importance, are the day's stories and my grizzled reactions:
* IGGY POPS. Denis Coderre steps away from the Ig Camp, saying "If you want to have what you want in Quebec, all you have to do is short-circuit the party's Quebec authorities by talking to the leader's inner circle in Toronto,” Then, he adds that he is still supporting the Ig. So for the moment, Iggy is revealed to be a naif at politics even within his own toy soldiers.
Will this harm the man in the long run? Probably not.
Which leads us to the question What did Jack Claypot get for his support of Harper? What did the country get?
Nothing that I can see.
* Two low-level drug clowns from Kamloops are living in Puerta Vallarta with no known means of support. They have a Benz, a Hummer and a Ford pickup parked outside their condo. Bad guys execute them.
Moral of the story?
Low-level drug clowns from Kamloops are probably ill-advised to mess with the Mexican drug cartels.
* A man drugged and raped a 13-year old girl. After serving 42 days in a prison for psychiatric evaluation, the man flew to England and then France. Now, many years later, the American government have arrested him in Switzerland, and plan to bring him back stateside to face the music he began low those many years ago.
Oh, the man is famous.
His name is Roman Polanski and he makes movies, often memorable movies.
What if he was Michelangelo or Beethoven? What if he was Bill Smith or Sam Jones?
Here is what Mr. Polanski must do.
He must go back to California and shut up and deal with whatever may follow. Most likely, it will all be horrible as an experience, but, given that he can afford wonderful legal advice, his legal punishment will probably be not especially severe.
* The Dominion Hotel has been refurbished and now houses 63 poor people, some of whom are cleaned up addicts, some of whom are using drug addicts.
The folks trying to run businesses on the street level are complaining.
The new tenants, they say, toss food and syringes out the windows. They leave shopping carts outside the building and spit on the sidewalk. A clothing store owner said she watched a man beat up his girlfriend on the sidewalk outside her shop.
I mention this because almost daily I watch the new housing project for addicts and the mentally ill going up at 16th and Dunbar.
I welcome programs that work, run by people who know how to run programs. And yes, I welcome them next door to me.
But programs run by politically motivated and ignorant governments are not welcome in my neighbourhood.
I think the folks at 16th and Dunbar have much to look forward to - and most of it will be disgusting.
* Glenn Beck is on the cover of Time magazine.
I stopped reading Time magazine when I was eleven and realized that I was reading the weekly status quo report.
I've seen Beck exactly once and dismissed him for the buffoon that he is.
In Mr. Beck's view of the world, Mr. Obama doesn't like white people very much and is conspiring to turn the United States into socialist state. Mr. Beck sees this plot lurking behind nearly everything Washington does - the bailouts, the stimulus package, the push for health care reform and the roster of "czars" working at the White House.
All of which has made him a huge success. Radio and TV talk shows, books, T-shirts, stand-up.
Having recovered from drug and alcohol abuse, Beck is now a Mormon.
Is it part of Mormon teaching to be consistently cruel and rude and incendiary and inflammatory and remarkably close to a public menace?
But it is THE essential part of the American dream to be "successful" at almost any cost.
* Most days I walk past the homeless and turn my eyes away. Occasionally, with no particular rhyme or reason, I stop and chat and give someone a couple of bucks.
Yesterday, a bone-thin man with saggy pants was hawking roses at a traffic Island on Pacific Boulevard near the Science World.
The poor shall always be amongst you. I believe it was Jesus who said that.
But some days, life's cruelties are easier to absorb than others.
Maybe tomorrow I'll offer some music.
Posted by David Berner at 8:53 AM
Monday, September 28, 2009
In 1967, I became, by a serious of mysterious accidents, the Founder and Executive Director of the X-Kalay Foundation, a residential treatment centre for addicts, alcoholics, ex-cons and others.
We began here in Vancouver and Salt Spring Island, and in 1971 expanded to Winnipeg.
The X-Kalay Foundation Manitoba Inc., incorporated in 1971, has continued for over 35 years to flourish first at its original site in St. Norbert, Manitoba, near the University of Manitoba, and now with a satellite program for teen-age boys in Selkirk.
The Foundation has evolved through two name changes, and is now the Behavioural Health Foundation, about which I have written several times in recent weeks.
In a nation apparently dead set on counter-productive, expensive and harmful initiatives like free needles, free crack pipe kits, free heroin, methadone and places to shoot, the BHF, Canada's original, first and foremost therapeutic community stands out as a glorious sore thumb turning out clean and sober men and women every day.
I was invited recently by Jean Doucha, the executive Director of the BHF, to come to St. Norbert and speak to the resident clients, the staff, board of directors and invited guests.
My speech, given on the evening of Friday, August 28, 2009, was about The History of X-Kalay.
My goal was to try to give everyone a sense of our place on the time line of good rehabilitative work, past, present and future.
Frankly, I found my visit to the St. Norbert and Selkirk facilities of BHF and its 100 resident clients - my first in 30 years - overwhelming.
The experience was moving and profound.
The speech is now on YouTube, as well as on my website www.davidberner.com under the heading "Addictions Expert."
The speech, which begins below, is in 11 parts, each just under 10 minutes, running a total of 1 hour and 40 minutes.
If you get lost in the process, you can always go to my website where the speech runs continuously, or go back to YouTube and search "The History of X-Kalay."
This may not be for everyone, but if you go forth, I hope you will enjoy what you see and hear and that you will gain some insight into the arduous but rewarding work that is involved in real addict recovery programming.
Posted by David Berner at 8:48 AM
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Welcome Home has been trying to find a home of its own for several years now.
Part of the problem was that United Furniture magnate John Volken, a multimillionaire turned philanthropist, was not very clear at first about how his $50 Million program would actually work.
I should know.
I worked for him for a few months when he was trying to build the centre here in Vancouver on an excellent site he owned at Powell near Victoria Drive.
But he and his staff have come a long way since the City of Vancouver dithered and put up one pointless obstacle after another.
Here was a guy donating a ton of his own money to getting addicts clean and sober and the bureaucrats just kvetched and whined until Volken said, "Enough."
He hightailed it a few years ago to Surrey where the Best Mayor in Canada, Dianne Watts, welcomed Welcome Home and has since declared that it is a "fabulous program" which does "a lot of good work."
She is right.
And the 900 people in Newton who have signed the latest Not In My Back Yard petition to keep this program out are entirely wrong.
We need more and more programs that will turn out clean and sober citizens.
These programs can not be on the moon or on an ice flow, if there are any of those left.
These programs must be, as they often are, right next door to you and you don't even know it.
One important caveat:
If such programs are built and run by the government, you can bet your mortgage that they will be badly designed and run even worse. Protest those with all your righteous strength.
If such programs are designed and run by non-profits and /or by recovering addicts themselves, there is a mighty good chance that these folks know what they are doing and you will be safe in your bed.
Support those programs with all your righteous strength.
Posted by David Berner at 10:20 AM
Anthony Tommasini, an opera buff, has scored a real coup - a lengthy, thoughtful and quiet interview for the NY Times with Barbra Streisand about the mechanics and wellsprings of singing.
All of this is in anticipation of a new CD release. Streisand’s latest album, “Love Is the Answer,” will be released on Tuesday by Columbia.
It is produced by none other than Diana Krall.
Barbra is 67 and she's releasing new albums.
Tony Bennett's been sending out great new material into his 80's.
Posted by David Berner at 10:12 AM
Saturday, September 26, 2009
"He's a very good Muslim...a very nice boy."
Usually this kind of irony comes from the neighbour of the mass-murderer after all the bodies are discovered in the backyard veggie patch.
But in this case, we are talking about Najibullah Zazi who has been charged with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction in the United States.
In short, he is a terrorist who took little study holidays to Pakistan to bone up on making and planting bombs that would kill many, many innocent people.
The quote, by the way, comes from his devoted Aunt.
"If you knew Zazi like I know Zazi, Oh, Oh, Oh, what a guy...
None so classy, with such a chassis..."
Posted by David Berner at 10:41 AM
Rick Mercer was some time ago anointed by the CBC.
The CBC does that.
Every so often they anoint some man or woman with their high stamp of approval. That person is subsequently given 101 chances to shine, 102 excusable failures, a permanent position in the Towers and a life pension.
Mansbridge, George Stanopopopopopopopulousishness.
Sometimes, as in the case of a guy I went to school with in Winnipeg, the blessed recipient is sent to Harvard Business School by the Corporation. Much of this is not made public.
Now, we are being encouraged to believe that Rick Mercer is the funniest person is Canada.
Mr. Mercer floats in zero gravity capsules and tries soccer and hockey and other past times.
Who is he supposed to be? Harold Lloyd? Buster Keaton?
He is not even remotely funny.
You know who's funny?
My son is funny.
I am funny.
Why haven't we been anointed by the CBC and been given what amounts to a Free Pass in life?
We have to suffer so we can grow.
We've grown. We're elephantine.
Where's our Pass?
When's the coronation?
Will Rick Mercer be there with a cream pie?
Posted by David Berner at 10:26 AM
Friday, September 25, 2009
Social workers in BC receive one day of training - one day - on the issue of domestic violence.
In 2007 in Oak Bay, Peter Lee killed his wife Sunny, his six-year old, Christian, Sunny's parents and then himself.
Sunny Lee had appealed to the police and half a dozen social agencies about her husband's threats and increasing violence.
A social worker, assigned to the case at one point met with Sunny once.
The social worker was instructed to speak to Christian the little boy.
He or she did not.
Yet, he or she concluded that the boy was safe.
The boy was stabbed to death by his father.
Does this social worker still have a job?
If so, why?
Mary Pole-Axed is the Minister of Children and Family Development.
She says the government is doing just fine in these cases.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is BC's representative for Children and Youth.
She continues to be one of the best people we have in this country, speaking out courageously in defense of those who seem not able to defend themselves.
She is among many who have pointed to Gordon Campbell's cuts to domestic violence and child protection programs.
With what rationale can this dreadfully misguided politician feel that he is doing the right thing on any given day?
The Ministry of Children and Family Development has been a disgrace for at least a decade.
We have the highest rates of child poverty in the country. Supernatural, my ass.
We all know a simple truism.
If a guy's gonna kill someone, he'll kill someone.
But in this tragic case, dozens of people, not speaking to one another, not acting responsibly even in the shallowest ways, dropped the ball and an entire family has been murdered.
The care takers are not trained and they make lousy, deadly decisions.
The money is not there.
It could be tomorrow morning, if Gordon Campbell had a soul, instead of an ego.
Posted by David Berner at 9:23 AM
Maybe staying in a fancy hotel in downtown Toronto and jetting about the country had something to do with it.
But certainly over the past several days I have felt myself to be distinct alien corn among a family of space creatures.
Elevators, breakfast rooms, airplane lounges and seats on planes, walking down the street and even being shown into the inner sanctum of a very expensive and trendy restaurant, the Blackberry Nation is out there loud and strong.
They never stop.
My son told me the extraordinary experience a few months ago of doing some voice over work for a radio commercial. The 20-something actress he was working with had to be told by the producer to stop texting while they were recording sound.
I pointed out to the lady next to me on the plane that we were supposed to turn off our cells during take-off. Hey, it's only my life versus her important message.
She smiled, as at a child whose understanding passeth nothing, and explained that she knew that "but I always wait until the last second before turning it off."
Good for you.
What is she? Head of National Security? A cardiologist on call?
She sells real estate in a village not far from Toronto and she's on her way to Vancouver for a Century 21 conference.
Like, very urgent. Muy importante. Mucho, mucho...
The guy in the pin stripe suit being ushered into lunch at Bistro 990 (one of the official troughs for the Toronto International Film Festival - which is over, but that doesn't stop people from coming in with the expectation that George Clooney will still be there. No. I didn't eat there. I walked in to check out the dinner menu and decided that when I win the Lotto, I'll give it a try, with or without George Clooney.) was texting as he slid over the Persian carpets to his wing back chair.
May I say this?
I think you are all mad, stark raving mad.
Here's my suggestion.
Try walking down the street and actually experiencing the moment. Look at the shops at the people at the traffic. Have a thought. Quietly sing a favorite tune. Try for one blissful second to not be conquering the universe.
I know my entreaty is nonsense, the wishful thinking of a child or a withering old fool.
Blackberry Nation is here to stay.
I can but mumble.
Posted by David Berner at 9:07 AM
Thursday, September 24, 2009
You've done it again.
Political mastermind, crime fighter, bungler.
The judge has tossed the Polygamy case against big jolly Winston Blackmore into the creek.
You'd be jolly too if you were shtupping 15-year old girls every day and getting away with it by calling them all your "wife."
But, Wally, you see, was told by one prosecutor after another to be quiet, that you couldn't possibly win this case.
So, Wally, undeterred, kept shopping around until he found a prosecutor who was willing to give it a go.
That declared BC Supreme Court Madame Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein (I had to put all of that mouthful in because I know there's a joke just waiting to be written.) declared that such shopping expedition by our former glorious A-G was definitely out-of-bounds.
Thus the good goat and his many ewes and lambs can thrive happily ever after in the magical kingdom of Bountiful.
p.s. A question: Why are all the group wives always smiling beatifically. Is Blackmore that good? Is there some hallucinogenic in the local stream? Should I use "stream" in a post like this? Should I use "post?"
p.p.s. Last question: Why does Blackmore look exactly like a guy I used to work for in the recent past? Spooooky...
Posted by David Berner at 11:03 AM
Even the cops are now calling for an independent body to oversee and investigate police-related shootings, deaths and allegations against officers/
How long does this government have to wait before it does the obvious and right thing?
You have the job now, Kash.
Step up to the plate.
Posted by David Berner at 10:59 AM
Soon it will be December 2009.
That will make it six years since the RCMP marched into the Provincial Legislature and seized boxes of documents from the office of Dave Basi and Bob Virk.
This corruption trial will resume, with a new sitting judge, next week.
Pre-trail, that is.
Full trial may not happen for at least another year.
Justice delayed is justice denied, or so goes a saying.
What if PR man Patrick Kinsella is shown to have been working simultaneously for both BC Rail and the eventual buyer, CN Rail, as many suspect was the case?
What will that tell us about his good friend and often boss, one G. Campbell?
But don't hold your breath...
Posted by David Berner at 10:51 AM
Federal Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon is much in the news today.
Abousfian Abdelrazik is suing the government – and Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon personally – for $27-million over Canada's role in his arrest and alleged torture in Sudan and for violating his constitutional right to come home.
Mr. Abdelrazik, who spent nearly six years in prison or forced exile while his attempts to come home were thwarted, returned to Canada in June after Ottawa was ordered by a federal judge to repatriate the 47-year-old Sudanese-Canadian.
I have absolutely no idea if Mr. Abdelrazik has a legitimate case or not.
But I have long advocated that injured or aggrieved people sue government officials - whether parole board members or members of Parliament or receptionists in the dog catcher's office - so that officials will begin to take their responsibilities more seriously. Remember accountability?
On the other hand...
Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon led a Canadian walkout as Iran's president began speaking to the United Nations Wednesday night, a boycott that was followed by diplomats from the United States and other countries. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad then launched into a tirade against the United States, Israel, and Jews.
And for that, Cannon is to be roundly praised.
What is the UN thinking about? Yesterday they were treated to rambling rants by Ahmadinejad and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, two criminal terrorist madmen.
Is the UN going out of its way to make itself even more irrelevant and clownish?
Posted by David Berner at 10:31 AM
A petition and campaign has been initiated by the DTES Power of Women
group against the City of Vancouver, VANOC, RCMP, and VPD in their
attempts to change next year's historic and sacred Feb 14 March for
Murdered and Missing Women in order to ensure ‘flow of Olympic traffic’
down Hastings Street.
The Power of Women group is based in the DTES neighbourhood and its
membership is composed entirely of women living in poverty who have
experienced and survived sexual violence and mental, physical, spiritual,
and emotional abuse.
Please sign the online petition
Text of petition:
It has been brought to our attention that the City of Vancouver, Olympic
officials, and the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit are trying to
change the historic Feb 14, 2010, March for Murdered and Missing Women in
order to ensure ‘flow of Olympic traffic’ down Hastings Street.
As residents of the DTES and supporters of the Memorial March, we
completely oppose any change in date, time, or route of the Memorial
March. This March has been happening for 18 years to honour our sisters
who die each year due to the violence of physical, mental, emotional and
spiritual abuse. It is something far more significant and sacred than the
Olympic Games, which has already increased poverty, homelessness, and
policing in our neighbourhood. The government is spending billions on a
circus, while putting people aside.
We, the women in the Downtown Eastside and our supporters, demand that:
• There be no attempts to change or control our Feb 14th Memorial March
• Not a single person be forcibly removed, evicted, or displaced from
their homes in the Downtown Eastside and any other community due to the
For more information or to obtain hard copies of the petition for your
organization, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604 681 8480 x 234.
Posted by David Berner at 10:28 AM
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Returning home after a four day visit to Toronto, I am struck once again how much that city is a City and my home town, Vancouver is not even close.
It's in the air.
There is incredible human energy all around you. Not all of it good, of course, but it is there.
The streets are loud and boisterous with cars and trucks and cabbies and people shouting and bikes (with almost no one wearing a helmet, by the way) and streetcars. Below ground the subways are busy at any time of day.
There are dozens of distinct neighbourhoods, each with its main "high street" of restaurants and shops. On a beautiful evening such as we had yesterday, everyone is strolling, whether they are off to a Greek or Italian or Chinese restaurant or simply taking their after-dinner-at-home passiagata.
The head offices are here and the Blackberry People are in large supply. The Masters of the Universe are all about you, conquering, conquering, conquering. In bars and cafes they are very loud and insistent about practically everything.
How people who have never read a book or sat still for ten minutes to listen to a piece of music are so full and sure of themselves is a baffler, but that's how they are.
There is no Downtown East Side.
Oh, there are poor and suffering for sure.
In the downtown core, the immense divide between the very rich and everybody else is painfully apparent. Most people are struggling. Young, old and in between, you can see the burdens of daily life on their faces. We are just surviving, just barely. A woman from Ethiopia engaged me in a conversation while we both waited far too long for a streetcar on Dundas. All her concerns were about unemployment ("Are there more jobs in Vancouver?"), rent, taxes and deductions. Just enough left for food.
The neighbourhoods are beautiful, but not in the way that Vancouver neighbourhoods are often beautiful. In Toronto, the attraction is in the dense packing together of the old, brick houses and the shops on the main streets, not, as in Vancouver, the trees and gardens.
The Art Gallery of Ontario with its new face-lift is imposing. It is a city block long and when you enter on what should be a quiet Tuesday afternoon, late in the day, thousands are milling about in groups and guided tours. The gift shop is on two floors and is much larger than many entire galleries.
This all proved too much for your weary blogger who had already taken the subway and the LRT to the Harbourfront and lunch at the Queen's Quay. I slipped across the traffic to a french cafe, got my cappuccino and oatmeal cookie, sat outside under an umbrella, took out my latest Philip Roth novel and found myself in traveler's heaven.
Later, I walked back to the hotel first through Chinatown and Spadina and then the U of T. In the evening, my old high school buddy drove us across the Don Valley Parking Lot to the Danforth for some wonderful Greek food.
Toronto can be demanding and exhausting, but it is truly a City.
Vancouver is my home and I love it, but let's be honest. It is a burgh, an adorable little hamlet by the sea. It isn't even remotely like what a City might be.
Posted by David Berner at 6:39 AM
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Should the homeless be allowed to risk life and limb by sleeping outside in cold weather?
Should we, the righteous, be allowed to intervene?
Do civil rights trump the preservation of life?
These are just a few of the questions being raised by the prospect of a new law in BC that would allow the police to take homeless people to shelters against their wills when the weather is miserable and life-threatening.
Somehow we must find a balance as a community between the extremes of a jackboot police state that is only concerned about cosmetics and a laizzez-faire do-nothing society that allows people to die in our streets in the name of freedom.
This is what I think.
Police and others should be encouraged to actively try to get homeless people into shelters as often as possible even when the weather is not particularly life threatening. If that makes police occasional social workers, so be it. Often, they are already being social workers and that's fine.
If a street person absolutely and resolutely refuses to move to an offered shelter, what are we supposed to do? Some would argue that we must act on that person's behalf and move him or her to safety against his or her will. He hasn't the clear mental capacity to make the decision for himself, goes the argument.
I would say that only in the rarest of instances should we use force and compel the move.
What are those rare cases?
I can't say.
But when it comes to life and death decisions, people on the front lines, like the police, make these choices quite often, usually unnoticed and unheralded.
I think the guiding principle should be encouragement, rather than law and force. And active, regular encouragement. Deliver the message on a daily basis that living on the street is not the best idea and that alternatives exist. If, in fact, they do exist.
If, on rare occasion, force or law is brought into a situation as a last resort, I will have o judge that moment when I see it.
Posted by David Berner at 7:20 AM
Canadian courts are continuing to do their level best at protecting the rights of criminals and terrorists.
Mohamed Harkat lives in Ottawa. He has been an al-Qaeda terrorism suspect since 2002, and, as such, under heavy surveillance by CSIS and other police forces.
Colin Freeze, writing in the Globe, calls this "extremely onerous house-arrest conditions."
I have a news flash for Mr. Freeze.
What is extremely onerous is that terrorism suspects are living next door to us, that what's onerous.
Now another wise judge has spoken, This one has decided that Harkat's years in custody and under surveillance have reduced the threat Harkat may once have posed to national security.
Clearly the good judge was not a fan of the Monkey's, who could have easily taught him that "I'm a believer," holds true for lovers and fanatics of many a stripe.
Posted by David Berner at 7:10 AM
Monday, September 21, 2009
On Friday, I parked the car on Cordova near Abbott.
I had a meeting with a colleague in his offices on Water Street.
While I was paying for my metered parking with my cell phone, an addict came up beside me saying, "I don't want to interrupt you, sir, but..."
I was listening on my cell phone to the instructions from the robotic voice on which numbers to press and when.
I waved the guy off, as in, "Get away from me."
An hour later, I was returning to my car.
Suddenly, someone was yelling at me. I just about jumped out of my crinkly old skin.
Of course, it was another addict, who also didn't want to bother me but...
Coming up behind people and hollering isn't on this guy's list of Not Great Ways to Start a Productive Negotiation.
When he made his inevitable pitch for money, well, imagine how surprised you'll be when you learn that I said, "No."
It's a wondrous great thing that all these elected officials over the past thirty years have wrought for us with all their grand schemes and solutions to problems and designs for a New World.
The face of so many years of bad public policy is right there for all of us to see - and survive - on our very own streets.
This morning, Rich Coleman announces that he will pass legislation that will empower police and others to take the homeless of the streets in really bad weather.
David Eby, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, questions the timing of this initiative, its real life efficacy and its potential clash with our famous Bill of rights.
"Whether we like it or not, staying out on the streets is their right."
Who can say why, after all these years, the BC Liberal government has chosen this moment to care about the homeless.
2010? Very possibly.
It is well nigh impossible to see the Campbell administration doing anything that isn't cravenly political in its intent.
Nevertheless, getting freezing, starving, soaked people of the street for a few nights, even against their will, is not such a terrible bad thing to do...if you can do it without breaking their arms or tasering them dead while you're at it.
On the other hand...Eby's points are all well taken. Taking people off the streets, while it may be what those of us who live in homes find most desirable, is not as easy or as simple as it sounds.
As Will Lohman's wife said, "Attention must be paid."
Posted by David Berner at 7:03 AM
Saturday, September 19, 2009
David Shribman is a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and executive editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
He has written a terrific guest column featured in today's Globe about the animus that has characterized the health care debate in America.
In short, he argues that this fight is about the role of government in people's lives and the power that they may or may not have or relinquish.
Please read this piece.
Posted by David Berner at 9:54 AM
The police are a riot. Really.
A yellow Corvette and a black Corvette go screaming by on a main thoroughfare in sunny downtown Surrey.
By the time they are finished their little imitation of the Indy 500, an 83-year old man sitting quietly on a bench at a bus stop has lost his legs.
Now here's the official report.
Police Friday were careful not to say “street racing,” but are investigating witness reports that both cars, which were apparently Corvettes, were driving alongside one another.
They're looking at whether speed was a factor.
Mr. Yellow Racer has sped away into the ether.
The police are questioning Mr. Black Racer.
Posted by David Berner at 9:47 AM
Most of the powers that be are determined to assure us that the approaching HST will be good for us and that it makes imminent sense.
Economists at the TD Bank differ.
Their report states clearly that while Big Biz will find a $6.9 BILLION windfall, you and I will be paying more for practically everything.
And that includes the food we buy at the grocery store and the food we eat in restaurants.
No small wonder Bill van der Zalm and Carole James are doing the public tango together today in protest.
Like your phone can cable services don't cost enough, they'll be going up.
So will prescription drugs. That's helpful to the economy in general and to the aging population in particular.
This is a bad idea at any time.
In this climate it is suicidal.
Posted by David Berner at 9:37 AM
Friday, September 18, 2009
Canada's Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, has apologized for her department sending body bags to native communities in the north.
The minister is herself an aboriginal and her apology was clearly deeply felt and sincere.
As it should have been for an act so insensitive and downright stupid.
Native leaders have turned their backs on the apology, which is their right.
200 body bags.
What were these idiots thinking?
Iggy Pop has seized the opportunity for another foto op. What a ghoul. How desparate is this geek?
To my posting on this subject, I received far too many ugly racist comments, most of which I rejected.
Posted by David Berner at 10:17 AM
Judge Thomas Gove is featured in today's Globe, sharing with us his feelings about the Downtown Community Court.
His report is largely anecdotal and it is encouraging in the tiniest way.
But the central problem remains unaddressed.
A community court that directs addicts and others to responsive treatment is the right idea IF AND ONLY IF AND WHEN SUCH REAL TREATMENT EXISTS IN THE REAL COMMUNITY.
Here, in Vancouver, such treatment is by and large not available. Ask any parent of any young drug abuser.
Not only is such low-cost results-oriented treatment not available, most of the powers that be actively argue against it. They would rather hand out more needles and free crack pipe kits and open more clean shooting galleries, including mobile units that will bring addict nightmares to your local neighbourhood.
Not too far away however...
In Winnipeg, for the past 35 years, courts have been consistently sending addicts and others to the Behavioural Health Foundation. On a budget of around $6 Million a year, the BHF works with over 100 people in residence at a time. Do the math. That's about $60,000 a year per client. Cheap. Lunch money.
Results? BHF now claims over One Million Clean Man Days. Each day one client remains clean and sober is a Clean Man Day.
I was there recently. I met women who, after years of prostitution and addiction, are completing their school programs, re-uniting with their children and families and moving back into the community as strong, independent citizens.
Now, why isn't such a program here in BC?
Well, you ask that question of the politicians and the "experts."
They will give you every manner of excuse. But the truth is that if they weren't all sleeping under the same cozy blanket, if they weren't all beholden to a thousand interlocking bureaucrats with a million irrelevant rules-as-obstacles, BHF could open a facility here this afternoon and help Thomas Gove and his Community Court.
Until then, the good Judge's brave efforts can continue to be called "an experiment."
My god, an experiment?
That court and the kind of treatment that is available but not supported here should have been public policy 40 years ago.
Posted by David Berner at 9:56 AM
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Don't you just love 'em?
Determined to get the jump on the H1N1 pandemic, Health Canada has sent some goodies to a number of northern Indian Reserves, which appear to be much at risk.
Oh, look, a big box from Ottawa. Let's open it up, Mother and see what the good White Man has sent us, the Big Old Lovable Sweetheart.
Yes, there are sanitizers and hand wash, and masks and...and...what the heck!
A number of the native leaders returned these handsome gifts to the front door of the Winnipeg offices of Health Canada.
Thank goodness we have this level of brilliance working for us.
Posted by David Berner at 8:54 AM
Is a citizen's right to privacy holy? Written in blood? Sacrosanct?
Suppose you steal or murder and you are caught.
Don't you suddenly forfeit much of that supposed right?
Well not apparently if you are a snivel serpent.
Two tax-agency workers diverted refunds to their accounts
Almost half a million dollars gone, but so are the crooks and our best friend in the whole world, Rev Canada, will not tell us their names or if they were ever charged or convicted of anything.
This will be especially cheering the next time we pay something on our tax accounts and get to think about the criminals who are stealing our money.
Posted by David Berner at 8:47 AM
Yesterday it was Mobina Jaffer, Senator, Lawyer and Heavy Biller.
Today, it's former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer.
Are they related? I have no idea.
Mr. Jaffer forever entered my bad books when, in 2001, he had his assistant impersonate him for an interview on a certain radio station that employed me at the time. His assistant lied, of course, and said that Jaffer wasn't aware of the subterfuge.
You could just hear the scofflaw laughing at his bum boy and saying, "Hey, I've got lots to do. You do the interview. It's on the telephone. They won't know whose voice it is. Hahaha..."
It takes a certain warped mentality to play with the perceptions of radio broadcasters and their audiences so cavalierly.
Well, now Jaffer is really in the soup.
DUI and cocaine charges.
This is a guy who used to run anti-drug ads in the local press.
Posted by David Berner at 8:37 AM
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
With yet another dreadful assault on a bus driver, Transclunk has been busy wringing its little paws in public.
Drivers should be entirely protected inside plexiglass cover and have nothing - repeat nothing - to do with the maniacs who get on their vehicles. The sole focus of drivers should be driving.
Security guards should be on every - repeat every - bus.
Passengers should be able to "enjoy" the safety and security of a ride unmarred by drunken craziness.
This will cost money.
So be it.
Try collecting fares on your Skytrain, dimwits.
Posted by David Berner at 8:51 AM
Mobina Jaffer has many firsts to her name.
First East Indian, first Muslim and first African appointed to the Canadian Senate.
Now, she has added a new distinction.
She can't add.
When not lolling about in the highly productive Red Chamber, Jaffer has been representing a Catholic order in some troublesome lawsuits they've been fighting over child abuse in residential schools.
Only problem is the Law Society, who will normally put up with almost anything to protect their own members, is investigating Jaffer and her son for billing improprieties.
Among the other tell-tale signs that not all was kosher in the lawyer's charges was this choice item:
Charges made for more hours than there are in a day.
Of course, so much of what we do in life is based on our belief systems.
Who knows? Maybe Jaffer subscribes to ideas that claim there are infinite numbers of hours in a day. Thus, her defense could reasonably be Freedom of Religion.
Yes, that's it.
I've got it now.
Posted by David Berner at 8:39 AM
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
My son coaches football.
He does this for no money. He does it because he loves the game and he loves working with the kids.
Now, he tells me that the famous Gaming money cuts from Victoria have directly impacted his team and their entire league.
B.C.'s community football teams feel budget cut
Last Updated: Sunday, September 13, 2009 | 4:39 PM PT Comments35Recommend15
Community football associations are the latest group to complain about funding cutbacks from the British Columbia government.
Several teams have come forward to say their gaming grants were thousands of dollars less than they expected.
The province has already announced cuts to education, arts, literacy and health care as it tries to deal with a $2.8-billion deficit.
The Vancouver Trojans, an East Vancouver community football team, say they're getting significantly less than the $83,000 they were promised in July.
"I can imagine cutbacks … times are lean, it's a recession, you gotta cut back," said Trojans president Kerry Mann. "But do you gotta cut back from $83,000 to $15,000? That's $70,000. Well, where's that gonna come from?"
Mann said the news means the team's future is uncertain: "The first thought that comes to mind is, we can't even finish the season. We can't even afford to rent another bus."
Bob Watson, the Trojans' coach, said the province should have let teams know months ago they would be getting much less money than in previous years.
"It's right up there with the HST [harmonized sales tax]. They threw it in there, nobody anticipated it. When I voted for Gordon Campbell and the Liberals in the last election, they didn't mention any of these things. It's a little bit underhanded, I believe," Watson said.
The B.C. Community Football Association told CBC News it knows of several other football clubs complaining about cuts to their grants.
No one from the Ministry of Housing and Social Development was available for comment on the weekend.
* * *
When I sked my son if that meant the end of the season which just began, his answer was this:
I think we will finish our season. Some of the volunteer executives paid for new equipment and uniforms on their credit cards because they had to be ordered in time for the start of the season, and the Govt had already promised the funds to our organization. A couple of them are in for $15,000.00 or so, each.
OK. Rich Coleman.
Explain this to those boys and their families.
And let's get Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid over to the park to show the tight ends and wide receivers and inside tackles how to shift their joyful energies to dancing in the streets.
Posted by David Berner at 9:20 AM
The Salvation Army wants to protect some women from harm.
They will open a 10-bed facility for some prostitutes who would urgently like to leave the so-called business.
Sound reasonable? Sound laudatory?
Not if you are the Pivot Legal Society.
Pivot wants to legalize prostitution and therefore sees any gesture towards "helping" hookers as a statement that the sex trade is bad and that just isn't nice, is it? Pivot argues that the Sally Ann demonizes prostitution. The Pivot plan is to legalize all aspects of hooking which they believe will make life safe for what they insist on calling "sex workers."
I spent 10 years working with drug addicted prostitutes.
I never met one who liked being a hooker. I never met one who believed in having a safe life as a hooker.
Every woman I met wanted to end the cycle and get out of "the life."
The Sally Ann should be congratulated and thanked for this initiative.
Pivot is the poster child for woolen-headed wishful non-thinking.
When someone wants to provide 10 beds of shelter for the preyed upon, they should shut up.
Posted by David Berner at 9:10 AM
"There is nothing to suggest that Mr. Kinsella played a key role in the sale."
This from Madame Justice Elizabeth Bennett, as she retires from the BC Rail case.
Don't worry. The defense can still call for Kinsella's documents if they can turn up some new evidence. Hmmmm...
Meanwhile, what a lovely cup of tea certain of our "leaders" must be having today.
Careful, boys, you may choke on the cookies from laughing so hard.
Posted by David Berner at 9:04 AM
So you write little musings to yourself about life and death and the next thing you know the police acting like the Gestapo burst into your home, beat you up and drag you off screaming to the psych ward.
TV movie of the week?
Maybe next week, but for the moment this is a true and horrifying story from Toronto.
Read Christie Blatchford's column and lock the doors.
Posted by David Berner at 9:00 AM
Monday, September 14, 2009
It is not often that the front page gives us three chewable morsels, but today is just such a day:
1. That heat-seeking missile known as Jack "I have no idea" Layton is delighting in the spotlight as he and Iggy Pop strive for The Election That No Person in This Country Wants. Read John Ibbitson's column dissecting the idiocy that substitutes for political discourse these days in Canerda.
2. The Canadian military and the Canadian embassy are giving up on their Great Firecracker Scheme. Thank God for small mercies.
In case you missed it, some genius decided that Americans weren't appreciating enough our wonderful efforts in Afghanistan. The way to get their attention, genius surmised, was to build a fake Afghan village in the backyard of the Canucklehead embassy in Washington, D.C. and, using Hollywood pyrotechnics, blow the things up with much gusto and noise.
It has taken Defense Minister Peter McKay to rush to the rescue of these fools and point out that blowing things up and causing smoke and noise a few blocks from the White House just days after September 11th is not exactly the swiftest of all possible party plans.
Perhaps you think I am making up all of this. Read, read.
3. Snivel serpents at Transpo Can have now spent close to $11 Million on nothing.
Yes, that's right.
They are billing many fun expenses on a project that doesn't exist, even if the expenses have nothing to do with the imaginary project. Proximity will do. If your meal was anywhere within 500 kilometres of what might some day become the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, then hey, Helen, claim away!
The only problem with this little Monopoly game is that the dollars spent are...yes, real Canadian Tax dollars that you and I have earned and shelled over to these miscreants.
Will any ever be prosecuted?
Posted by David Berner at 9:12 AM
Part of the process of individuation is making choices that distinguish us from our parents and families.
The banker can pretty much expect his son to become a rock drummer.
But little Jeffrey Bronfman has taken this notion to comically new heights.
In a story that could easily have been, or might yet become, a Hollywood script, we find JB, a Jew and the son of the largest whiskey sellers in history now running a "religion" in the wilds of New Mexico that is part Christianity, part psychedelic tea and zero consumption of alcohol.
Really, you can't write material like this.
But, if for no other reason than to prove that your jaw is still working this morning (It will drop as you read.), you should try consuming this little fable.
Posted by David Berner at 8:58 AM
Saturday, September 12, 2009
It's a classic case of Blaming the Victim.
The BC Government screwed up and screwed thousands of people in the act.
First, Victoria promised 100's of arts and community groups, like Little League Baseball for chrissake, dollars from Lotto and Bingo revenues.
So, promise in hand, these innocents went out and ordered the printer to print the tickets or iron the costumes or blow up the balloons.
Next thing they know, Victoria says, "A Big Ooopsie, we're not actually giving you the money after all."
Leaving Soccer Moms holding the proverbial bag.
The media coverage of this insult is so extensive and soooo baaaad that Victoria has to back-peddle and find the money and hand it over anyway like they promised to do in the first place.
Can you say, 'MISMANAGE,' Boys and Girls?
Not content to just leave enough alone and let the dust settle and let hounds like me move on to the next day's outrage, Rich "I've Never Been Wrong About Anything in My Life, So there" Coleman, who happens to be - lord save us - the Housing Minister (make that the Hosing Minister) adds fuel to the fire with this little gem.
Non-profit and charity groups aren't entitled to guaranteed money from B.C.'s lottery revenues and old agreements to funnel cash from bingos and casinos to community organizations are no longer valid, Housing Minister Rich Coleman said Thursday.
Oh. I see.
Because the community groups had this irrational expectation that you would actually follow through on your original promises, they are now dressed up and put on parade as THE GREAT ENTITLED PEOPLE.
Yes, let's all through the old vegetables at the freaks.
Better yet, try to remember this kind of September when promises were hollow with nothing to follow...follow, follow, follow....
Posted by David Berner at 10:00 AM
The Bench continues to totally not get it.
The creep shown herein had 44 convictions dating back 20 years and that was in 1995.
Of course, he's added to his honor roll considerably since then, mostly by supplying street boys and girls with drugs so he could have sex with them.
But here comes da judge.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Josephson found that while Neale met the legal definition of a dangerous offender, the judge decided to use his discretion and designate Neale a long-term offender.
"I come to that conclusion as I am satisfied that his age on release together with the options available under the long-term offender provisions are sufficient to reduce the risk that Mr. Neale poses to the community to an acceptable level," the judge concluded.
The good and learned judge's reluctance to declare this thorough miscreant a dangerous offender demonstrates the judge's total disconnect from reality.
What medications is he on?
Read the story and ask yourself what further proof does the judge need that this sorry excuse for a human being is in fact the poster boy for dangerous offenders.
Posted by David Berner at 9:52 AM
Friday, September 11, 2009
I caught about a half hour of a concert video of Michael Jackson in Bucharest last night.
My goodness, whatever else Jackson may or may not have been, he was for sure one helluva freaked out insanely sublimely talented performer.
My all-time Show Biz Hero is Fred Astaire, bar none and that includes Marlon.
Jackson could dance like nobody’s business.
So precise, so demanding of himself, so exact.
Thrilling in every breath and every step, and every break and pause and freeze.
Way too much has been made about his death and dying.
But I tell you, his Life and his Art were truly something else.
Posted by David Berner at 8:50 AM
Thursday, September 10, 2009
There was a rally at the Art gallery yesterday to support the arts and decry arts funding cuts by the current provincial government.
As rallies go, I can't say if this was a success or wonderful or mediocre. I don't attend rallies so I have no means of comparison.
I thought that too many of the speakers chosen were the wrong people and that they were too self-involved. I left after about ten minutes to do some art research of my own. Later in the day, I was told that the speakers got better as the even moved along.
Here's what I would say about the funding cuts to the arts:
1. Life without music is one long dental appointment.
2. Politicians and other officials believe at core that art is a frivolity, some added-on feature to life.
Wrong again, boys.
Since time began, right after roasting the mastodon on the fire, people have been painting on the cave walls, dancing round the flame and sitting and telling stories. Later, they wrote the stories down...in the dirt, on a stone or a hide. Then, they got on to designing better caves.
Art is central to the human experience. It is everywhere. In the clothes we wear and the cars we drive.
It is not an add-on or a frivolity.
Right after air, food, water and social contact, there is art.
3. Which Mayor or Premier in the last 40 years have you ever seen at the opening night of the opera or the ballet or a play or the opening of an art gallery or exhibit?
I have been attending such silliness for 40 years and I have known all of these mayors and preems and I cannot recall on one occasion seeing one of them.
Last year, I ran into Gordon Campbell at the Fifth Avenue when he was seeing Slumdog Millionaire. Whoo-ee.
If our so-called Leaders show no interest in The Arts, why should we be surprised that there is no money.
You want money? Get those neanderthals out of their box seats at the Canucks brawl and introduce them to something with real kick.
Posted by David Berner at 9:08 AM
Here are a few of the things President Obama had to say last night in his address to Congress about Health Care.
Referring to a woman with breast cancer who was denied help because she forgot to declare that she had a "pre-existing condition" - to wit, acne,
"That is heart-breaking, it is wrong and it shouldn't happen in the United States of America."
"Now is the season for action. Now is the time to deliver health care."
"In the USA, no one should go broke because they get sick."
"It is time to give every American what we (in government) give ourselves."
His speech was, as usual, powerful and inspirational.
At the end, he spoke of the American Character.
To witness the pettiness of the scowling,laughing derisive Republicans was sad and disgusting.
Posted by David Berner at 9:01 AM
Roger Walsh has been given a life sentence to prison. He is 57.
He is a multiple repeat dangerous drunk driver.
When he killed a woman who was in her wheelchair and celebrating her birthday by getting some fresh air with her dog beside her, Walsh was given his 19th drunk-driving conviction.
As the Globe editorial clearly and correctly argues, the crime is that this horrible fool was allowed to be on the streets for years when all of the evidence screamed otherwise.
We need many more such convictions and sentences and we need them much earlier and more often.
I don't care if the prisons are filled with these sick bastards. Better there than on my street.
Posted by David Berner at 8:55 AM
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Never before has the provincial (accent on the provincial) government of Gordon Campbell shown its colors so clearly.
Cut money to schools, but spend $500,000 doing a P.R. job for the Olympics in the same schools that now will have to scramble for library books, sports uniforms and play equipment.
Wait. I left out computers and lunches and breakfasts for poor children.
To add insult to injury, the funding that is being cut in half is free money - it is Lotto Bucks stolen from the ever hopeful. These monies are comically called "gaming grants." How about Bozo Bucks.
Wait. I left out roofs and hot water heaters and boilers for aging school buildings.
Patti Bacchus is the Chair of the Vancouver School Board.
"It seems ironic that we're celebrating the Olympics in our schools when we've just had cuts in sports operating grants," she said, after Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid and Olympics Minister Mary McNeil presided over the designation of False Creek as B.C.'s first 2010 Spirit School.
MacDiarmid who these days is masquerading as the Minister of Education has now come up with a timeless Let Them Eat Cake quote.
Ms. MacDiarmid suggested last week that athletes whose events have been cancelled could compensate by "walking or dancing or playing in parks."
Do you believe this arrogance and ignorance?
Has anyone pointed out to the good minister that it's kind of tough to dance in the park when you haven't had a good meal and when your school sports program is shut down for lack of equipment uniforms and qualified instructors?
The good minister is gallivanting about promoting a barley disguised Olympic PR pitch.
The 2010 Spirit School program, estimated to cost $500,000, is designed to encourage schools to embrace the Olympics in the classroom and motivate students to lead healthier lives.
Has anyone pointed out to the good minister that it's kind of tough to dance in the park when you haven't had a good meal and when your school sports program is shut down for lack of equipment uniforms and qualified instructors?
Equally offensive is that Campbell and his shills actually believe that no one is noticing their duplicity and their shabby lack of visions and values.
Please remember all of this the next time someone shoves a ballot box in your face.
Posted by David Berner at 9:53 AM
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
For those of us who like to continue to believe that terrorism is someone else's problem, witness the convictions yesterday in London, England of the bomb plotters.
Three men were found guilty of a lovely scheme to blow up several airliners at once. Two of the targeted aircraft were Scare Canada flights, one heading for Toronto, the other for Montreal.
How kind of these lunatics to recognize our Two Solitudes.
The tools were things found around the house and anyone with enough time and hate on their hands could hatch a similar plot.
What is equally neat is that each of these horrible mad men were London-born Muslims. (There are now more mosques in London than Christian churches.) The dears took little side trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan for "training."
Credit must be given to the police agencies who tracked these fools and caught them before they could blow thousands of innocent human beings out of the sky.
Posted by David Berner at 9:20 AM
Today, President Obama speaks to school children.
This is a traditional communication used by American presidents for years.
In a pre-released copy of the speech, Obama encourages the children to be responsible for themselves.
Really incendiary, isn't it?
Republicans are demanding that schools and teachers and children refuse to listen to this hateful message.
Is Fox so-called "News" just about the worst thing that ever happened to so-called journalism?
Are the Republicans completely mad these days?
Tomorrow, Obama takes his health care message to Congress. Wish him luck. Let's hope he is clear and exact about what he wants. Let's hope that his program includesa government-run option.
Posted by David Berner at 9:12 AM
Writing in this morning's Globe, Rod Mickleburgh is generally upbeat about the enthusiastic participation of aboriginals in the Olympic ceremonies and rituals.
However, when he gets around to mentioning protest, he feels it necessary to call the Olympic Resistance Network "strident."
I am not a member of any "Network," but I have raised my concerns with the Olympic games enough times in this column to be reasonably viewed as a protester.
You can hear my shrieks and whelps?
Oh, excuse me. That's just my busy and fabulous sex life seeping through the transoms of your mind.
There is a terribly funny and telling piece of business in an old Seinfeld episode in which Kramer, participating in an AIDS walk, refuses to wear the red ribbon.
For his individuality, he is rewarded by a severe beating from his fellow AIDS walkers.
The Tyranny of the Majority.
Now we have the official version in print.
If you find 2010 a bit much, a misuse of public funds, a little ski party gone mad, the you are Barbra Strident.
Posted by David Berner at 8:59 AM
Posted by David Berner at 8:53 AM
Monday, September 7, 2009
There is good news and bad news.
Here are some homes available for around $250,000.
They are not in Vancouver.
In Vancouver, $250,000 will get you a quarter time share in a 600 square foot leaky condo on Noisy Nightclub, Murder & Mayhem Boulevard.
The pastel house above is in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The blue house with four bedrooms is near Indianapolis.
The good news is that the food and the weather are said to be pretty good in New Mexico. And, if you hurry, you can get to see the last few years of Peyton Manning winning games for the Colts.
And the price.
That's the real good news.
The bad news?
These and other amazing bargains can be found in the Excited States where everyone is packing heat and no one wants affordable health care.
Posted by David Berner at 9:38 AM
I'm a big Tiger Woods fan.
I don't even play the game, but if Tiger's on TV, I'm there.
Apparently, I'm not alone. If Tiger's on TV, so are millions of others. The ratings spike when he's on the leader board and they are pedestrian at best when he is not.
You can't help it. He's one of the greatest athletes in history and to watch him perform is fairly regularly amazing. To list his statistical accomplishments would take pages. Just Google him; you'll see.
I confess in recent weeks, the shine has somewhat come off the apple.
Yesterday was the second week in a row that Tiger has refused to speak to reporters after a competitive round of golf. He is sitting at 30th in the Deutsche Bank FedEx tournament that will be completed today.
Woods is the wealthiest person in sport.
Without the press, he'd be making a pleasant living.
If the only time, we get to hear from the Great Man is when he wins, we will have to start viewing him as not the most charitable fellow on earth.
Whatever happened to "gracious in defeat?"
Then, last week, he openly criticized fellow golfer Ernie Els. Woods carped publicly that he didn't think Els had work hard enough at rehab after an injury.
Way out of bounds, Tiger!
You may or may not have such thoughts. But it is hardly your business to air them.
Tiger seems to be having some confusion of late about when it is appropriate to open his mouth.
As one of the most immaculate athletes of all time, he should well know by now that t-t-timing is everything.
Posted by David Berner at 9:25 AM