Sunday, December 18, 2011

NEWMAKER OF THE YEAR


The clear and offensive dereliction of duty by our mayor and our police chief make the Stanley Cup Riot the hat-trick winner as the Vancouver Newsmaker 2011.

First shot: The riot was predictable. This is a young and sophomoric town. We are not a world-class city, not by several blue lines. We are scrappy adolescents proud of our grubby denims and hoodies. Too many bicycles and chickens will make you miss this important point.

Second shot: Total bewilderment from our leaders.

The clincher: The Great Stall. Just as Gordon Campbell did with Basi-Virk and Jean Chr├ętien did with the sponsorships, Mayor Gregor Robertson and VPD Chief Jim Chu continue to drag out the charges or arrests or punishments for this detestable mayhem.

The riot was not an aberration and it said way more about our culture than we care to face.

—David Berner, a journalist and executive director of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada

SUFFER THE CHILDREN

LET ME SEE YOU - THIS IS CANADA


When was the last time I praised or even mildly agreed with a politician? I honestly can't remember.

But today I go all out in saluting Canadian Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney.

He has banned the wearing of niqabs and burkas at citizenship ceremonies.

This is not a guy who has come out of some frozen right wing nowhere to make this declaration.

Kenney has over the years been building trust and communications with Indian and Chinese voters across the country.

Can you imagine a Liberal or an NDP politician having the balls to get off the politically correct wagon to stand up in public and do what Kenney has done?

I have written in the past in these spaces about my feelings about women covered head to foot in cotton.

I hate it.

This is the age of terrorism.

I don`t want anyone around me who is concealed in almost every possible way.

A Muslim woman declares in a separate article "WE ARE NOT A THREAT."

Well, I have news for Minna Ella.

She may be a wonderful mother and wife and person.

But if she moves through my vision as a floating tent, she is a threat. She is a bank robber or a bomber or at the very least a part of culture that see women as chattel and cattle.

Sorry, not acceptable in Canada.

Bravo Mr. Kenney.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Twists and Turns


People think that the best sports in B.C. are hockey, fishing, skiing and playing games on their iPhones.

But no.

The very best gamer, bar none, is watching bureaucrats, mandarins, elected officilas and all the other agents of the devil play with words.

It's called The Spin Cycle.

The name of the game is to take the obvious and verbally twist it into something unrecognizable, although usually risible.

Prime example from yesterday's headlines:

Doctor on leave after scans reviewed

Sechelt hospital retests nearly 200 people since last year


Pretty straight forward, yes?

Just hold onto your bowler, Bunky.

We've only just begun.

This medical wizard has been performing colonoscopies of late. Over 600 little visits up the backsides of local patients in recent years. Only problem is Doc doesn't really know how to do this little bit of plumbing and the intruding equipment is not really getting to the final resting place it should. Result - confusion and a sore butt for nothing.

Now, here's the spokesperson for VANCOUVER COASTAL HEALTH (I put that in caps and bold font because around these parts, this body is akin to the emperor or the ayatollah... as in, what we say, goes, Brother!):

"There was never any evidence that anything was done wrong but possibly it wasn't done thoroughly," Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Anna Marie D'Angelo said,

Now, here s my problem, Kids.

I'm a bit of a language freak.

And from the little log cabin in the woods that I was a-larnin', doing something wrong and not doing it thoroughly ARE THE SAME THING!

But it's OK.

Our Angel of Public Deception says that sticking tubes and camera and stuff up the public's ass for four years and getting no useful information is just a minor glitch.

And if she had to suffer this indignity and come away none the wiser, would she still be spouting this drivel?

Probably.

She's well compensated for the bull.




CARING ABOUT FAMILIES...but not if it costs us too much


Why would WorkSafeBC, whose mandate and mission are explained in its monicker, go out of its way to make life more dangerous for late night and over night workers?

As always, follow the money.

The BC Federation of Labour and others petitioned long and hard to have the government pass "Grant's Law," in honor of the young man who was dragged to his death when he tried to stop a punk pulling a "gas & dash" at an all-night gas station.

Now, two years later, the government is bowing to the whining from business owners who claim that keeping their employees safe is too costly. Now WorkSafeBC is pulling a vanilla on the rules.

Where is the "Families First" premier?

Hello?

THROUGH A STUDENT'S EYES

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MURDER


On the weekend, the Sun published a review of a new non-fiction book about a woman who married a murderer.

The woman knew that this man had murdered a woman who refused his sexual advances. She knew that the man she fell in love with and married was on life parole.

Shortly after she married this man, he kidnapped and raped two women at knife point. He is back in jail.

The book is about the woman's experience and it holds little interest for me.

What does interest me is the complete failure of what passes for a criminal justice system in this country.

The murderer had been out in the community for five years, living in a half-way house and holding down a job when this lady met him.

He was given these opportunities after murdering a woman 20 years his senior because she wouldn't fuck him.

A whole bunch of well-meaning, totally naive and ignorant social workers, psychiatrists, prison and parole officials then conspired to have two other women viciously attacked and almost murdered as well.

Why aren't these women suing all of these fools and the corrupt and blind system that employs them?

Men who murder women and kidnap women and rape women are not the same as your average Sunday dope fiend, bank robber, bunko artist or car thief.

Men who murder women and kidnap women and rape women are nonredeemable.

They cannot be rehabilitated. I know of no such case.

These men are hard-wired to perform and perform again and then again these hideous melodramas of rage and revenge.

Would it be a terrible thing for us to face this fact?

A few days before this book review was published, the Sun printed a debate about psychopaths.

The argument went something like this.

If it's true that psychopaths can't help themselves, maybe we shouldn't be so hard on them when it comes to punishment.

OMG!

Could we please remove psychiatry from the court room and the parole hearing? Please?

The criminal laws are not about Personality.

They are about BEHAVIOUR.

It is not a sin or a crime or against any of the known commandments to be a not nice person. Or even to think funny.

But killing and raping are on the books.

An 18 year old who kills a 38 year old woman because she refuses his dopey advances should, once caught, remain in prison for life. To return this time bomb to the community is the height of social irresponsibility. It doesn't matter how charming the s.o.b. appears to be. He is an out-of-control lunatic and a danger to your children.

All of the people who let this particular nut free to strike again went to University.

What did they learn?

What did we?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hello, There


I saw a dog today with a certain familiar look.

He must have been an adorable puppy and a strapping young stud.

Today, he is heavy, square-faced and jowly.

Still, he must be harboring some wonderful old stories.

Monday, November 21, 2011

ORCHARD RECOVERY NEWSLETTER

NEWSLETTER

Honour a Life - November 24, 2011



Join us for a beautiful ceremony on Thursday November 24th, 2011

From 1:30pm onward -including Kim's traditional roast beef dinner. We honour our alumni and others who have lost their lives to the disease of addiction. We will share their stories and light candles to their memory.



If you cannot join us, please light a candle wherever you are.






Reel Recovery Film Festival - A Huge Success!



The Orchard Recovery Center and Writers in Treatment presented the Canadian debut of the Reel Recovery Film Festival October 21-23 at Vancouver's District 319.

This exciting three-day festival showcased realistic, honest and inspiring films about addiction and recovery, screening both groundbreaking new films and classic features. Interactive discussions followed each screening. Movie admission proceeds helped non-profit Intersections Media for at risk-youth.



Our opening night gala featured an evening of gourmet cuisine, comedy and cinema. Mayor Gregor Robertson was in attendance for the screening of 2010 documentary, "I Am Comic", which revealed the serious side of hilarity, followed by a performance by our special guest, comic Pat Dixon.



    



    





Thank you to all who contributed and made this night a huge success!






Intervention Canada



Friday September 23rd The Orchard made its first television debut on Intervention Canada.

Check out www.slice.ca/watch/ and click episode 6 to see Conrad's journey through recovery at The Orchard.






Dr. Patrick Fay: 'Addiction is a disease, it can be treated...and treatment works'



Last month's edition of The Celtic Connection featured the Orchard's own addictionologist Dr. Patrick Fay. The article describes Dr. Fay's experience treating addiction in the private as well as the public sector. His experience has taught him that addiction does not discriminate career, wealth or achievement.

The article also captures how Dr. Fay came to work with the addicted population in Vancouver.



For the full article click here: www.celtic-connection.com/features/feat2011_09_02.html







Evolution of Addiction Conference in Los Angeles, California



Orchard counselor Carrie De Jong has been given the opportunity to present some of her expertise at the upcoming Evolution of Addiction Conference in L.A. in December, 2011.
She will be discussing the many sources of trauma over the lifespan of an individual that impact emotional, behavioral, relational, and cognitive functioning. The goal of her seminar is to bring greater awareness to the experience of trauma and its impact on addiction for those who work in the field of addiction treatment.






David Berner



Thursday, October 27th The Orchard welcomed guest speaker David Berner. David Berner is a semi-retired therapist making his contribution to the addictions and recovery field -other than his current assignment as Executive Director of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada.
He began his work in the field 45 years ago ( as the founder and E.D. of the X-Kalay Foundation in 1967 in Vancouver and Salt Spring Island, now the Behavioural Health Foundation in Manitoba) and has run and participated in thousands of hours of individual and group therapy.





An Official Welcome to the Orchard's Clinical Dietician!



Ellie Mackay, M.Sc, RD
Ellie is a Clinical Dietitian registered with the College of Dietitians of British Columbia. She specializes in helping individuals develop a healthy relationship with food. She has over 20 years experience in a wide range of nutrition areas including diabetes management, heart disease, weight control and eating disorders. Ellie received her Masters degree in Human Nutrition from the University of British Columbia examining the role of dieting in the development of eating disorders. She works one-on-one and in group education settings to help clients attain their nutrition goals and guide them to lead a healthful, nourishing lifestyle.





The Orchard One Year Club



Congratulations to our latest one year club members! The following alumni have achieved one year clean and sober:



Caren R, Corrie S, Les F, Aman S, Jamie Q, Ron G, Ryan L, Derek C, Laura F, Colleen M, Susan P, Andrea H, Carlotta R, Pauline M, Sue O, Ryan G, Mete S, David D, Carolyn S



Drop by the administration building next alumni day to see your name posted on the one year club board.






Please click on the link below to read alumni thoughts on being at the Orchard at Christmas:





























© 2011 The Orchard Recovery and Drug Treatment Center     1-866-233-2299







"DEMOCRACY" in action

Sunday, November 20, 2011

THE INTERPRETERS


The public statements of men and women and parties who win elections are always the same - "The people have spoken!"

That's understandable.

They are giddy with triumph. Our team scored all the touchdowns and I am a winner. Yeah!

But what can we say about the media who are supposed to have some perception outside the ring of battle?

This morning's Sun and Province writers seem as intoxicated as the Vision supporters in Vancouver.

"Clearly," the tell us, as if we haven't just heard this from the re-elected Mayor, "the people have spoken!"

Good grief. Is there a brain left there at the foot of Granville Street?

Look.

The "people spoke" and they elected Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brian Mulroney, and Silvio Berlusconi, among others.

Today, the pundits and political "reporters" are telling us that the people of Vancouver are solidly and completely behind the fabulous vision and programs of the incumbent party.

The people of Vancouver by and large don't vote.

And 90% of those people who do vote think His Honor is cute and wouldn't know a public strategy if they fell in a bog full of them.

What this election result tells us is not what the press is telling us.

It tells us that the elected party was tremendously organized and well-heeled and that they did all the phone calling, polling and door knocking that was necessary and that money could buy to get re-elected.

Good for them.

Now lower your head, square your shoulders and thrust yourself sharp into the wind and try not to notice the irrelevant silliness that will emanate from 12th and Cambie for another three years.

Post script: Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight has shared with me his very similar reaction to the municipal elections. To my knowledge, his is the only piece not covered in bunting.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

THE MINISTRY OF CALLOUSNESS


"The only agency in Vancouver dedicated to helping women leave prostitution will be forced to close its doors this spring as a result of the “Wal-Martization” of the B.C. government’s employment programs, says the executive director of PEERS Vancouver."

There's your first paragraph from a Globe and Mail story by Robert Matas published on Tuesday morning.

The hideous gist is this.

The provincial government has created a template for how social service projects and agencies should operate.

This, of course, is madness, an impossibility. Maybe it looks good on a flow chart to some office-bound geeks, but it has no connection whatsoever to the real world.

PEERS gets women and men out of prostitution.

They've been doing this work successfully for ten years now.

Everyone else is trying to make "sex work" safe and acceptable. Everyone else wants to give sex trade workers legal brothels, brochures, and in the case, of former Mayor of Vancouver Sam Sullivan, drugs and pills to keep them happy. That flash of genius would have made Sam the city's biggest pimp. Lucky for him and us and the prositutes nothing came of his inspiration.

PEERS, for all its good work and low cost, is now toast.

But listen to the Minister of Callousness:

Stephanie Cadieux, B.C. Minister of Social Development, said she was not concerned about PEERS decision to close. If PEERS does not want to participate, another group will provide the services, she said.

“The focus of the [employment] program is to help people, and provide the support and services they need, including specialized needs, to get back into the workforce, and to do that as quickly as possible,” Ms. Cadieux said.

“For women who want to change what they are doing and get assistance from the government in doing that, that service will be provided,” she said, adding that the ministry will monitor the changes to ensure those who need the services will receive them.

This is the Minister of Social development???

She has no idea. Not one lonely clue.

Social service programs like PEERS do not spring full blown from the sand. They crawl out of the grass-roots where they are spawned and they grow and fall back, grow and fall back and then grow inch by labored inch through blood, sweat and tears. They take work and talk and community and heartbreak and joy.

This insistence from governments that social programs all fit the same tunic is idiocy and out of touch with reality. The further insistence that social service programs all have balanced budgets is an ironic farce. There is no government jurisdiction on earth that has a balanced budget. Every hamlet and mega-city in the USA and Canada is running massive annual deficits, forget Greece, Italy and Ottawa. So the Little Hen Day Care and Women's' Shelter should be running perfect books on a beggar's budget? Get serious.

Ms. Cadieux needs to get out more...or just get out.

Meanwhile, will some titan of industry please step up to the plate and fund PEERS.

I've worked over the years with hundreds of women who were renting out their body parts by the half-hour. Not one of them wanted this life. Not one wanted to stay in it. Most left.

If PEERS is doing that for our communities, they deserve a medal, not an order to conform or quit to satisfy some poo-bah's dream of getting all her pencils lined up in a row on her glass-covered mahogany desk.

And you thought the Occupy Movement was about tents...


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ON TURNING 69



Thanks to the several readers who have asked where the blog has gone. What happened is that I moved. I sold my house and bought a beautiful apartment and moved from A to B at the end of October. That took a major concentration of physical and mental energy, so the blog writing ended up with the packing boxes. Aside from loving my new home (as much as I loved the old one as well), I am now freed from ever having the slightest interest in the Vancouver obsession called Real Estate. I will never again care about who is selling what and for how much above asking.

Friday is my sixty-ninth birthday. My son is taking me out for brunch and my dear friend, Yan Min, is taking me out for dinner. Life is pretty good.

I have never been so happy and so miserable.

Every single day for some months now, I experience moments of great clarity and bounce and self-satisfaction and good cheer. I feel myself striding, youthful and energetic, tall, fit and overflowing with narcissism and ego, certain that I look great. Who could resist me? Why would they?

On the same day, the sheer relentless idiocy, stupidity, greed, profligacy and rudeness of the human pool engulfs me. I feel I am drowning in a sludge pond of ignorance and unkindness.

Crossing the street is a terror. Trying to read in a cafe one might as well be sentenced to life in a Boeing hangar. Everyone on the street is texting or talking or both. The bumptious noise is piteous and unceasing. I don’t need to hear your most private thoughts. I don’t want to.

Sartre said, “L’enfer, c’est les autres.” But it’s not just them; it’s also me.

I have been cruel and self-regarding, often in the cheapest ways. Today, I am more impatient and intolerant than ever and that is saying something. I am generous one moment and leap to self-righteous indignation the next.

With my son, I was demanding and unforgiving, angry and overbearing, with the result that today he is thoughtful and kind and loyal.

To my daughter, I was the doting serving placating Jewish father. Today, thanks to all my attentions, she is largely absent from my life.

I have left some friends behind, closing doors on them. Others have done the same with me. Yet, I make new friends almost every day. They will stay in the corral as long as they stay.

My interest in the schemes of politics is waning. I believe very little of what comes from the mouths of the elected or the want-to-be-elected. The fictive lives of “celebrities” shriek past me at the supermarket line leaving no imprint whatsoever. Who are these people? Look, they are having babies or not, conjoinings or not, charities or projects or not.

I still like information. Tell me about history or birds or oceans or where the mothers and children of Africa are hiding tonight. Show me the latest, greatest, biggest, fastest air transport. Clarify for me what prompted Haydn to write that symphony, Joyce to choose Trieste of all cities in which to roost or George Blanda to play football for Al Davis for all those years. My encyclopaedic knowledge of The Movies drops right off the cliff around the turn of this last century. There are some great movies being made here and there, but I see fewer and fewer of them, and rarely in large dark rooms with hundreds of other people. “Moneyball” was amusing, the main kick being the opportunity to watch Brad Pitt, who is that rare gem – both a genuine movie star and a fine actor. “J. Edgar” was fascinating, if badly told. So talky, a peculiar choice for director Clint Eastwood, who, as an actor, was almost mute. Nevertheless, the tale is saved by terrific actors, not the least of whom is Leonardo DiCaprio, dazzling in the title role.

Little children are still a delight, as are dogs - somebody else’s children or dogs. And for a few moments at best. I cannot be a pooper scooper at this age, if ever I could.

My energy has changed.

Of course, I cannot play tennis for two hours or more, not without hurting myself, which I have managed to do nicely twice in the last two years. Both my doctor and I are hoping these lessons might register and take hold.

I cherish many ancient pleasures, music topping the list. Gershwin to this day makes me weak at the knees, joyful, teary. The Rhapsody is still a rhapsody. But so are Rogers & Hart, Ella, Tony, the Bach fugues, Mahler symphonies, the Beatles, Pete Seeger and The Weavers, Carousel (The waltz and the soliloquy), and a library of concerti, arias, folk tunes, and most of the American Songbook.

Swimming, cycling and eating are high on the same list. Not too many days after my last heart “episode,” I was frogging along the bottom of the Vancouver Aquatic Centre pool on a quiet summer morning. There may have been all of eight people in the whole building, only half in the gigantic Olympic pool. The light was streaming through the roof windows and bending into the deepest reaches of the water. For a brief ecstatic moment, I felt I was in an earthly watery heaven. I marvelled at the astonishing efficiencies and modernisms of our local medical wizards and then simply reverted to that old familiar tadpole sense of squirming joyously through this other medium so scantily understood. When will we be fish again?

I don’t bicycle as much as I once did, and now only on designated paths that will not, do not intersect with the lunatics of car traffic. And I don’t career down craggy paths on nearby mountains. I cycle, and pause always at the turn-around point for a well-drawn cappuccino. Nevertheless, I cannot get on my fabulous bike (Hey, Dave. Your bike is like BMW!) without thinking I am again 6 years old. The way the sun catches the pavement in intermittent flashes!

I eat less and often can`t believe how delicious every bite is. One raspberry can make me crazy with happiness. This is one of my ``comfort foods,`` because my grandfather grew these tiny treasures in our back yard on St. John`s Avenue in Winnipeg when I was a boy. Every second year, he set fire to the entire scrub to add carbon to the soil – then watch out the next summer.

I had a Caesar salad at a restaurant the other night and except for the glass of cold water I am drinking right now, I thought it was just about the best thing I ever experienced. Jack Benny used to play cards with his celebrated friends at the Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Los Angeles and when he would have a cool drink, he would exclaim, `This water is wonderful!``

I have been a dedicated Astaire man my whole life, believing as did Balanchine, that Astaire was the greatest dancer of the 20th Century. The man could do anything and he could do it twice. I never much cared for the Other Guy, but you have to admit that Kelly`s Singing in the Rain number is one of the single sweetest things ever put on film.

Of course, I am not rich, and, given the state of things, I not really poor either. My basic needs and comforts are pretty much accounted for. I can`t claim to want much.

Other than kindness and affection and another hundred years or so of good health. Failing that, a reasonably quick exit, sans hospital and tubes and Nurse Ratched.

I was saying my energy has changed.

I do one or two things of a day and I`ve had the biscuit. I just don`t want to do anything else. A couple of phone calls, tape a half hour TV show, maybe a therapy session, something resembling work and then I just really don`t want to do anything besides drink an espresso, read a book, talk to friends, check out the news on my android, see if there`s a fun new app.

Friends are going, crossing over, leaving the mortal coil, dying.

My three favourite people in Venice, Evania, Meg and Susan, are now on the other side, Susan last week. I read the Gmail on my android sitting in a room at the Harrison Hotel between meals, cribbage and the hot springs pools. I, the most emotional person you know, haven`t even cried yet. Am I in shock? Have I become inured or accepting of the inevitable?

While I continue to carp pointlessly about every minor annoyance, the two heart shocks in the last six years have brought about a kind of calm, a going with the moment. It is what it is.

I hate modern life and, like my mother before me, I love every tiny bump and grind along the way.

I do everything slower and I won`t understand why anybody is rushing anywhere, except that little girl or boy over there who skips along the street to some internal tune.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Important Piece of Jourrnalism found, NOT in your local press, but in a Comment to our Blog


This came in today as a comment, which I have published, to our post of Monday, called "The Polite Pushers." I am posting it here as a stand alone piece because I think it is important and revealing and because I feel a number of personal connections with the material. I have more than a passing interest in places that are ironically called "care homes," and while there are some good people doing some good work, the systemic abuses to the elderly continue to be horrifying. As for the Sharon Home in Winnipeg, my mother - may she rest in peace - had the last word on that fine institution. When she was encouraged to move in to the Sharon Home and wisely refused, I asked her what she thought of the place. Here is her unforgettable reply (I am but a pale imitation of an original.): "The Sharon Home, David? It's a coffin with a kitchen."

The following is from Stan W.

Do people know that Allan Seckel (former head of the BC Public Service, and former deputy Attorney General) was just appointed as CEO of the BC Medical Association?

Seckel comes from the same law firm as Geoff Plant and Bill Bernardino (Russell & Dumoulin, later known as Fasken Martineau). Seckel worked with Bernardino on the Basi-Virk/BC Rail scandal, to decide what documents could be revealed. Old boys club indeed.

Seckel is also "noted" for having denied Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the BC Children's & Youth Commissioner, access to documents in 2010 which Ms. Turpel-Lafond successfully fought in the courts. Nice going BCMA, you sure know how to pick the guy to head your organization.

If anyone mistakes the BCMA for anything but an industry lobby group, here's the blurb from the BCMA announcement in the Globe and Mail from Oct 12th:

"The mission of the BCMA is to promote a social, economic and political climate in which members can provide the citizens of British Columbia with the highest standard of health care while achieving maximum professional satisfaction and fair economic reward."

That BCMA mission statement sure is revealing, and now we can anticipate even closer ties between the medical-legal dominions -- to the public's detriment.

By the way, hands up, how many people know that doctors' medical malpractice insurance in BC is heavily subsidized by taxpayers? That would be the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA). Yes indeed, we pay for the lawyers hired by the CMPA that doctors and health authorities use to pummel ordinary citizens, patients and families, into submission and silence whenever the health care system screws up, accidentally or deliberately, even in criminal matters. Yup, that's ensuring the "highest standard of health care" alright.

Meanwhile have a look at these two stories where the health “care” system and the justice (sic) system intersect:

From Victoria, BC:

http://www.focusonline.ca/?q=node/249
and
http://ctwatchdog.com/2011/03/30/granny-snatching-narcotic-poisoning-a-bitter-prescription

From Winnipeg, Manitoba:

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Charges-laid-against-Sharon-Home-over-residents-death-132267883.html?device=mobile&c=y
and
http://www.winnipegjewishreview.com/article_detail.cfm?id=1639&sec=2&title=EDITOR’S_SPECIAL_

REPORT:WHAT_IS_HARVEY_BERKAL’S_STRATEGY_IN_INITIATING_PRIVATE_CRIMINAL_CHARGES_AGAINST_THE_SIMKIN_CENTRE__ANALYSIS

This is the highest standard of health care??? This is a justice system???

What has Canada become? Especially BC, jailing and drugging elderly people on a whim - for fun? for profit? Because they can?

Meanwhile Harper's ordering fighter jets, battle ships and armoured vehicles???


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

"OCCUPY" our own back yards


Some still don't get the message of the"Occupy" phenomenon. The movement may or may not ever bring any real solutions or actions to the table, but the story line is clear and it is important. Justice and equality is missing in societies in which the disparities between rich and poor are obscene and ever increasing. We need go no further than our own backyard for a glaring, familiar and infuriating example - Susan Heyes versus the Big Guys and the Supreme Court of Canada. Here is Susan's latest dispatch. Read it and weep for your own country.
Please also note that if this story appeared in our local press, I could not find it. Apparently, our rights are not news worthy.




Today, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed my application for leave to appeal (see attached)

This is a dark day for democracy in Canada. By refusing to hear this case, Canada’s highest court has decided that corporations have more rights than small businesses and citizens.

Small businesses are the economic backbone of our country and are the heart of our communities. The Supreme Court of Canada has decided that we don’t matter.

With this ruling, the Supreme Court has given corporations a blank cheque. It has ruled that corporations undertaking megaprojects in Canada are not legally compelled to tell the truth, even when the consequences for citizens and small businesses are as severe as they were with the Canada Line project.

This decision allows corporations to profit at the expense of citizens and small businesses.

The ruling calls into question the integrity of our judicial system including the ruling of the BC Appeals Court. Cut and cover construction for the Canada Line had been ruled out in the Cambie Village in all the materials made available to the public. Yet the case was overturned, with the project claiming that even though they caused a nuisance, they were authorized by statute to do so.

Under the law, this defence of Statutory Authority can only be used when no other less disruptive option is available, and cost cannot be a factor.

We all know that not only was there a less disruptive option, that of a bored underground tunnel, but it was the project, until the secret switch to cut and cover. A bored underground tunnel was the only option presented to the public for the Cambie Village area.

Corporations should be compelled to tell the whole truth, but the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that small businesses and citizens have no legal right to expect truthful information that would allow them to take measures to protect themselves from harm.

For 6 years, rectifying this colossal injustice has been my priority, in the public domain and through the courts.

The legal system has let us down. This is not the Canada I know and love.

This case personifies the worldwide outrage at corporate greed, and abuse of government power.

We as citizens, must continue to demand that our rights are upheld, against all odds.

Susan Heyes

Email: hazelmay@shaw.ca


Monday, October 17, 2011

THE POLITE PUSHERS


Drug pushers are everywhere.

They don't all bare fangs or wear funny clothes.

Some are fine upstanding people and leaders of our community.

Take the American Academy of Pediatrics...please.

Now, you might think that folks who put the word "pediatrics" in front of their name would have as their primary interest the health and safety of children.

Wrong again, Bunkie.

Not when you have such a close working relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.

You see, the American Academy of Pediatrics has just released its latest decree from on high (HA!) that you are now free to give Ritalin to children as young as 4.

This is for the ever--increasing population of (mostly) boys who have Attention Deficit Disorder.

Now, I went to school for far too many years and I cannot recall even one kid in any of our classes who might have had ADHD.

Of course, this "disease" is a modern construct - created almost simultaneously with the "discovery" of Ritalin, but even so, I don't remember one kid in our school who would have fit the description.

Only a few years ago, "science" announced that, lo, there were now adults who suffered from ADHD and they they too should be blessed with a steady supply of Ritalin.

But I carry on needlessly, because unless you yourself are suffering from some peculiar form of attention disorder, I am sure you are getting the picture.

Drug pushers push drugs.

More and more of them these days wear striped shirts and bow-ties.

"Occupy" explained in plain English


In case the "Occupy" movement is somehow escaping either your attention or understanding, this piece from Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times should help clarify the issues.

It was sent to us from our friend Susan Heyes who knows a thing or two about inequalities. Susan successfully sued the eco-criminals who dug up Cambie Street, only to have that decision reversed.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

HAPPENING


Occupy Vancouver.

Occupy Seattle.

Wall Street protests.

HST.

Smart Meters.

Something's happening over here.

Everybody in the western world could readily understand the riots and revolutions in Cairo and Tehran, but many of the same people are mystified by the wave of discontent spreading across North American communities.

I am not an anti-capitalist or anti-materialist. I appreciate the crucial role of business and I love my stupid toys as much as the next sucker. (These days I am obsessive about my Android phone. I love it. I can't live without it. I want to marry it and have its children.)

But.

The unemployment rate in the USA is not 9.7% - which would be alarming enough.

The true unemployment rate in the country self-announced to be the greatest in the world is 20%.

Productivity and jobs are the urgent priorities in both America and Canada, and except for Obama, who is getting nowhere fast on these issues, no known political leaders on ether sides of the border is even talking about these essentials, let alone doing anything remotely useful or encouraging.

Meanwhile, back at the 500,000 acre ranch and the Park Avenue penthouse, hedge fund managers, whose products are losing 45% of their value, are stealing billions in personal bonuses yearly.

The iniquities have always been here before our eyes. But rarely before have these economic divides been so stark, so disparate and so ugly.

Bank foreclosures on private dwelling places called HOMES are practically sinful. Where was the oversight? Where were the rules?

When people are simply walking out the front door and heading into the scrub, you know something is terribly wrong with the status quo.

The protestors are making an important point, whether you like it or not.

They cannot be easily dismissed. The message is significant.

Government and business that turns away, orders another drink and laughs does so not only at its own peril, but at mine and yours.

Attention must be paid.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

PLAIN TALK


Cameron Ward may or may not be your favorite Vancouver lawyer, but he certainly got it right in his comments at the dreadful Opaque Inquiry into the Missing Women.

Representing the families of the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton, Ward blasted police Tuesday for their failures to catch the killer sooner.


Here are a just a few of his clear bald statements:

Ward suggested the Vancouver police gave families the "brush off" when they tried to report their loved ones missing.

He said the VPD, and later the RCMP, treated the missing-women case with indifference and incompetence by failing to assign enough resources.

That was because the missing women were poverty-stricken, poorly educated and largely were drug-addicted sex-trade workers, with a large proportion being first-nations women, Ward said.

Police "couldn't have cared less what happened to these women," Ward told the inquiry.

"The pervasive problem was the Vancouver police department and the RCMP simply had a bad attitude," said the lawyer.

Ward pointed out that the RCMP, tipped that Pickton was a possible suspect, failed to conduct surveillance on the serial killer before he was caught in 2002.

And the Mounties failed to act on Pickton's offer to police in 2000 that they could search his farm.

"Mr. Commissioner, the facts in the public domain are shocking, and led our clients to the conclusion that both the Vancouver police department and the RCMP completely botched the handling of the missing-women investigation," Ward said during his opening address at the start of the inquiry Tuesday.

"The conduct of both police forces was inexcusable and egregious," the lawyer added.

"They [the families of Pickton's victims] believe that the authorities are culpable in the deaths of over a dozen women because the authorities enabled Pickton to literally get away with murder for five more years," Ward said.

"Our clients believe the VPD, the RCMP and the Criminal Justice Branch have the blood of their loved ones on their hands," he said.

* * *

Add to these simple truths, the ongoing insult and outrage of the government's unwillingness to fund a number of important groups who have since walked away in disgust.

What a sorry mess.



Monday, October 10, 2011

REEL RECOVERY FILM FEST - A CANADIAN FIRST


Doors 7pm, Friday October 21st @ District 319

Join us at stylish District 319 for an evening of gourmet cuisine, comedy and cinema,
as we kick-off an exciting three days of enlightening and entertaining films
about addiction and recovery. Opening the festival is the 2010 documentary
I Am Comic, a revealing look at the serious side of hilarity,
PLUS a performance by our special guest, comic Pat Dixon.

Tickets $75, call the Orchard at 604-947-0420 or purchase online at orchardrecovery.com/filmfest

Gala Location: District 319 319 Main Street, Vancouver, BC
filmfest@orchardrecovery.com

Please note: venue's regulations require minimum age of 19. Dress is semi-formal.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Overheated, perhaps, but Important and Real, Nevertheless

Warning Signs

Don Cayo has written a compelling piece in today's Sun.

Social and environmental ills worry world's CEOs

Book by Harvard professors sheds light on what the top business leaders of the world think are our biggest concerns

Mike Segar-Reut Growing inequality can breed discontent and threaten our financial system and trade, a new book warns. In New York City, people are taking to the streets during the Occupy Wall Street series of protests.

Photograph by: Mike Segar, Reuters, Vancouver Sun

Leaders of some of the world's most successful companies say the whole system of capitalism is at risk and only capitalists themselves can save it, according to a new book by three faculty members at Harvard Business School.

And many of the threats on their list - fast-growing global inequality looming large among them - could be copied straight from a social activists' handbook.

Inequality breeds discontent, as any CEO with a window overlooking Wall Street might notice these days. It invites a backlash from those who don't share in capitalism's benefits. Sooner or later, some politicians will come on board with policies aimed at short-term popularity, though not necessarily coherence or effectiveness.

Other kinds of threats like global pandemics or natural disasters, can decimate the human capital needed to make the system run, and/or disrupt both markets and the institutional checks and balances that capitalism relies on.

The book, Capitalism at Risk: Rethinking the Role of Business, is written by Harvard profs Joseph L. Bower, Herman B. Leonard and Lynn S. Paine. It draws on discussions by major business leaders at forums that, using the clout of Harvard Business School, they were able to convene in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. This format gives the book added depth and substance - as well as, at times, diversity, as the participants don't always agree. Yet it can also be an irritation for readers as the authors keep the speakers' names confidential, so we never know who's saying what.

But there does seem to be consensus on what the big problems are. In addition to the broad threat of growing inequality and the populist - and often business-hostile - political movements it leads to, threats to the financial system and to healthy global trade include:

. Unrestrained migration - whether within developing countries or from the poor world to the rich - in numbers that overwhelm capacity to productively absorb the newcomers.

. Environmental degradation of food and water supplies, and many other aspects of quality of life.

. Failure of the rule of law, which is an essential underpinning for a successful market economy.

. Low levels of education, which limit worker productivity.

. The rise of state capitalism in response to free market shortcomings, real or perceived.

. Radical movements, terrorism and war which destroy the stability that markets need.

. Pandemics that disrupt trade and decimate labour.

. Inadequacy of existing institutions - just a matter of resources and competence, but also jurisdictions as nation-based institutions face global issues.

Some of these concerns sound as if they have less to do with North Americans and are of more concern in the parts of the world affected by movements like the Arab Spring or the class warfare burgeoning in Latin America. And this may well be true.

But it's hard to look at this year's riots in the U.K., the growing desperation of people falling out of the middle class in the U.S., or rising child poverty in B.C., and then say, "It can never happen here."

Still, the business leaders are less united on what they should do about these threats.

A significant minority - the authors don't tell us the number, but I take it to be well under a third - worry, yet are still content to be bystanders. They say finding solutions is "beyond their pay grade" and should be left to government.

A smaller group think they can also stand by and wait it out - that existing institutions and practices will work things out over time.

The rest are either activists who want to shape and promote solutions, or innovators who want to address the challenges directly.

This article appears on the same day as an item about a Wall Street-type protest on its way to Vancouver.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

GUEST EDITORIAL - INSITE


Gerry Verrier is a friend. He is former addict, who for 25 years now has been involved with the Behavioural Health Foundation in Manitoba. He is currently the Program Director.

This piece is also posted as a comment on my blog item of several days ago, called "Stranger in a Strange Land," but it is so darn good and so important, I wanted you to read it as a stand-alone editorial.


I am a former addict that will stand up and say that I do not support Insite or needle exchange programs. If there had been safe injection sites back in the 70s, I would be dead. All the brick walls I ran into that said "Gerry, you need to stop using drugs or you will kill yourself, Gerry you need to stop committing crimes to feed your addiction because you are hurting a lot of people and you will rot in jail, Gerry you contribute nothing to your own community and are a free loader" made me think about who I was, what I was doing and where I was heading in life. It caused cognitive dissonance for me. It made me consider whether my mother brought me into this world to shame her and become a drug-addled train wreck. It made me consider that my new condo would in fact be a prison cell in Stony Mountain Penitentiary and that my "better half" was probably going to be called Bubba. I was judged and I was deemed to be deficient in appropriate and anti-addiction social and coping skills by a group of former addicts. I was expected to change and I was expected to contribute to this beautiful country in a meaningful way. I was also consequenced for my bad behaviour. I actually welcomed the criticism. I welcomed the idea that I could stop using life destroying drugs. I needed to hear that so badly. I welcomed the idea that people thought enough of me to expect me to start to be a positive member of society. I felt good and I felt accepted. I felt like I could accomplish something meaningful and could enjoy some success in my life.
Had Insite existed, I would have heard something like "Here, Gerry, now now, it's okay that you're addicted to morphine, here let me help you stick that needle in your vein and don't worry about overdosing because I won't let you. Don't you worry about me telling you to quit IV drugs, because you can quit whenever you want. I don't expect you to though, because you have a sickness just like cancer and diabetes and you're an addict for life, you poor hapless misunderstood defenseless creature. And don't worry about the big bad police, they can't come in here and they can't bother you outside either while you go on the nod on the sidewalk. In fact, we have doctors who want to give you free heroin. Isn't that wonderful news? You see, the people who want you to quit don't understand you like we do. We know that if we give you a free rig and a place to shoot up and make sure you don't overdose, you won't go out and have unsafe sex and we know for sure that you won't use or share dirty needles."
I would have moved into that clinic. I would have laughed all the way to my dealer's corner and back. No consequences for bad, harmful and antisocial behaviour? No consequence for spreading fatal and life threatening disease? Drug injecting paraphernalia that I don't have to pay for? No expectation to contribute to my community to balance out my constant freeloading? No consideration given to the fact that I stole 15 purses and robbed an old lady for her grocery money so I could score on the way to Insite? An addicts heaven. I would have happily cranked so much junk, my eyes would have bulged. Malnutrition? No biggie. I'll get free and expensive Boost supplements from my doctor. Organ failure after a dozen years of injecting poison into my body? No problem in our free medicare system. Heck, I bet I could get a nurse to come inject my heroin while I wait for an organ transplant. Work for a living and pay taxes? I have a disease, I can't work. In fact, I'll take some disability cash over and above my regular welfare payments. I'll also need some taxi chits so I can get to Insite. I have a disease, don't you know. And be quick about it, or else I will sic the harm reduction people on you.

And with all that, do you really think I'm going to start wearing condoms? Do you really think that at 3 in the morning, when I need a fix, I'm going to wait until the clinic opens at 10 am so I can shoot up with a clean rig? I AM going to have sex with this person and I am not going to wear a condom and we are going to share this rig because we don't give a fuck about nothing but getting off. I don't need to care because, really no one else does. No one expects any better of me, no one believes in my potential ability to contribute in a meaningful way and no one seems to care that I'm slowly killing myself. After all, I have a disease and I will always be an addict so I might as well be a really good addict. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go steal so I can buy more heroin. I sure wish they would hurry up with that free heroin program....

I know some addicts and homeless people are struggling with mental health issues. I know some addicts are messed up because of trauma in their life. They need medical treatment. They need support. They need the right kind of medication. Heroin is a painkiller, and a mind number. It and other addictive illicit drugs exasperate mental health issues and certainly does nothing for trauma victims. Addiction does not promote self esteem or self confidence. There is no success or accomplishment or education in a needle filled with junk. Addiction does not provide hope. Addiction kills, Addiction sucks the life out of our communities. Addiction shortchanges our children. Addiction enslaves our brothers and our sisters and our grandchildren. Addiction adds costs to our already expensive health care system that need not be.

Providing for addicts to continue to be addicted is anti-social. Not expecting our addicted brothers and sisters to contribute to the betterment of our society and community is anti-social. Helping an addict stick a needle in his or her arm is anti social. Harm Reduction as it is applied to addiction is anti social.

I had to laugh but felt like crying when I read on the International Harm Reduction Association website how the Reductionists were upset that abstention-based treatment programs were using the term "Harm Reduction" and that expecting addicts to quit using is not Harm Reduction. The Reductionists wanted to reiterate that Harm Reduction means working with people who do not want to change. How twisted is that?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

GUEST EDITORIAL - BC POLICE FORCE


Doug Mac-Kay Dunn is a retired Vancouver Police Inspector. He is currently a District of North Vancouver Councillor

During my career with the Vancouver Police Department, I was in charge of the Internal Audit Unit. Under the direction of the Attorney-General, I also worked with multi-force audit teams to conduct INDEPENDENT Value for Money audits of police departments.

Although subject to their own internal review, RCMP detachments were and are not subject to such independent, external examinations. Without those audits, how can taxpayers know if they’re receiving value for money?

Even more important is the issue of accountability and transparency. Remember the handling of the Dziekanski tragedy. Remember the first press release. Remember the investigators sent to Poland to dig up dirt on their victim. Remember the attempt to control the video. Remember the senior management emails and the “Spin Doctoring".

Contrast that with how the VPD handled the “Stanley Park Six.” Chief Constable Jamie Graham not only answered the media’s questions, he released all of the files and held nothing back – no spinning, just the truth.

So here is my point: in the unlikely event the RCMP opened their books and savings were achieved through improved cost controls, if the Force remains accountable to Ottawa first and the community second, then our police taxes are wasted - because without direct community accountability, we have nothing more than private security.

Sir Robert Peel said it best: "Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence”.

A British Columbia Provincial Police force should meet that standard.

If the RCMP refuses to be subordinate to the Solicitor General as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the province, and be accountable through that office to the community it serves, then it’s time for a change.