Saturday, February 14, 2009


Today's Globe & Mail has begun a major assessment and profile of the DTES.

It is an excellent piece - actually many pieces by many writers - of journalism.

And while it offers a few choice tidbits, the overall message is something that many of us have been saying for years: fortunes spent, little accomplished.

(The articles are extensive so I suggest you buy today's hard copy or browse the electronic edition.)

The front page gives us the first real taste.

$1.4 Billion change in the 'hood.

Of the many sections in this undertaking, two in particular caught my eye.

The second is Gary Mason's excellent column, which I'll come to in a moment.

The first is a piece called "AN EXPENSIVE DRUG COURT THAT DOESN'T WORK."

The article reveals that the much-touted drug court has cost $17 Million to build and operate since 2001, and that the results are abysmal. Only 14% of those convicted "finish their treatment."

Well, duh!

You have to examine what the so-called treatment is.

Here's what it is.

A 265-hour treatment program.

Is my math correct? That comes out to 11 days of so-called treatment.


Be a dope fiend for five or 10 years and then in 11 days find salvation.


These losers were compared with 166 other offenders with addiction problems who fared no better or worse than the lucky souls who found their way into this new panacea.

Let's be clear.

An 11-day miracle cure is no cure at all.

Who are the wizards who devised this torture and waste of public funds?

Where is the real treatment to support this drug court?

I will tell you where.

It is on the moon or up some one's ass.

It doesn't exist.

The Drug Court is window dressing. On its own it is less than nothing. Married to real treatment it has a chance of helping this misery. Wake me up and let me know when that happens.

All of us who actually know what is at stake here predicted all of this eight years ago.

It doesn't please us to say, "We told you so."

Let's move to Gary Mason's column.

Mason argues convincingly that what the DTES needs is One Good Man to take charge and make things happen.

If that were all he said, his opinion wouldn't be worth very much.

But, showing that he has real grasp of the issues at hand, Mason goes on to argue that such a leader would need tremendous fortitude to resist the tide of bullshit from all the invested poverty pimps who have been thriving down there for ages.

" You see, fixing the DTES ultimately means engaging in some kind of showdown with the collection of social agencies, poverty groups, activists of all stripes who have consistently opposed changes that upset the status quo.

Consensus on a future for the area among this group is unachievable.

It's amazing the power it wields. Many of the city's business and political elite cower in the presence of its representatives. For years now it has sold and we have bought the specious notion that any attempt to dilute the neighbourhood of its concentration of poor, addicted and mentally ill is an attack on the most vulnerable."

Mason's quote from Geoff Plant, who spent the past 18 months wearing the uneasy crown of Civil City Commissioner, is likewise on point:

"Sometimes the wall of protection that is built around the Downtown Eastside by well-intentioned advocates has the effect of shutting the rest of us out in a way that encourages an isolationism that sooner or later turns the place into the ghetto that it is and shouldn't be."

The column also points out that without complete cooperation from three levels of government - read money and balls - nothing will ever change.

In the coming weeks, the Globe threatens to bring us solutions from "experts."

Oh, boy.


The CRTC (the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission) has said that they are considering a major overhaul of regulations guiding Canadian TV.

Here's what they are looking at.

For every dollar that Global, CTV, CITY and others spend on buying Los Angeles product, they would have to spend the same amount on Canadian programming.

(Curiously, the CBC is not in this sandbox, which raises again the question of why CBC needs or wants to show Jeopardy and why my tax dollars should pay to broadcast American fluff 'n stuff that I can see or avoid on a hundred other channels.)

Australia, being plunked "Down Under," a zillion miles from everybody else has had the wonderful and necessary luxury of creating much of its own culture, including some marvelous films and TV programs.

But here in what is still pathetically, annoyingly called "Hollywood North," we are a tiny and insignificant branch plant of the Santa Monica mafia.

Let's be clear.

Global - now reeling on its last heels from the world economic tsunami and bad family management and trading at pennies - made its original fortune out of Barber Greene by being simply the best buyers of American TV schlock.

There is only one small problem with this model.

Do not actors and writers and cameramen and makeup artists and costumers and carpenters and cooks not have the same right to a livelihood as other Canadians, who have invested time and money in study and training for their chosen professions?

At the moment, the average income for a Canadian actor is just over $20,000 a year.


Now, I don't really believe that the CRTC will actually demand of CTV, Global and the rest that they match dollar-for-dollar spending on Canadian production with Yanqui acquisition. The TV folk will scream bloody murder.

And given the other realities of the Internet, DVD's, the iPhone, downloads and so on, this demand would probably break the back of the local industry before it helped your starving artists.


If Canada - the B-movie - ever hopes to have some pride of accomplishment in these areas, the time was yesterday, or at the latest, today.

Stand back and pull up the popcorn for...


Happy Valentine's Day

Pure Genius

Accused in bus beheading had major illness: psychiatrists