Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Hands down, the worst possible tragedy that can befall an adult human being is to lose a child.
No one wants to outlive his or her own children.
Thus, I write this piece not wanting in any way to add to the pain and grief experienced by a father who is at the centre of this dreadful story.
Nor do I wish to deny that the police are having their credibility eroded by repeated examples of highly questionable behaviour.
When case after case appears before our eyes of people dying in custody or being brutalized by rogue officers, it is impossible to turn away and pretend that something isn't wrong.
So much so that I will devote an episode of our SHAW TV show to this generic problem in the coming weeks.
But this particular story of a young man drowning in the very cold waters right off the downtown SeaBus terminal is missing a key ingredient, both in the telling and in understanding.
The article in the Sun chronicles the murky details of what may have actually happened on the night of December 12th. Read it and draw whatever conclusions you may. I have no solid idea what actually transpired that night.
The police may or may not have fudged their reports.
The writer has, over the too many years he has been given a platform at the paper, shown a consistent dislike for and distrust of the police. His problem.
The elephant on the dock that is mentioned, barely skimmed over and not in any serious way considered is that the young man who drowned that night was a drug addict.
He had been using heroin for many years, and on the fateful night, he had walked away from a treatment house.
He was found to have crystal meth and cocaine in his system when he died.
I am not blaming this fellow for dying or for dying while being a drug addict.
But please understand something.
Bad things happen to good people.
And bad things happen to bad people.
Life is an endless challenge.
Adding drug addiction to your coping mechanisms is not the swiftest move in life.
If you spend a lot of time shooting heroin and all the attendant fun and games that go with that, and add meth and coke to the mix and half-way houses and cops...well, oops, there's a much better chance that you'll end up in a bad place than if you drive to work every day and go home to the wife and kids.
So it's fine to blame the cops, and they may have much to answer for by the time the whole and real story emerges.
But what responsibility did this poor fellow have in his own life and death?
Even though we are loathe to look at it.
Posted by David Berner at 1:43 PM
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Posted by David Berner at 11:32 AM
The saga of shop owner Susan Heyes vs. Canada Line is sorry and shocking.
I have devoted the following very lengthy space to this story because I think it is important.
First, you will find Susan's Press Release of the other day, after the appeal favored Canada Line.
Then, an article by Gregor Robertson, before he was the mayor, supporting Susan's claims.
Followed by a similar piece by Christy Clark, also seeking redress on Susan's behalf.
Finally, a letter to the editor in the Globe contradicting the questionable science of the judges.
Please read this material thoroughly and do whatever you can to help and support a courageous local woman.
We have a Legal System here in BC – but do we have Justice?
On May 27th, 2009, after four years of litigation, BC Supreme Court Justice, Ian Pitfield, awarded $600,000 in damages to my company Susan Heyes Inc. as compensation for business losses caused by the construction of the Canada Line. The appeal of this ruling in my favour was heard April 15th, 2010.
Today, the decision was finally announced contradicting the findings of the lower court.
In upholding this appeal, the legal system has supported the confiscation of individual citizen’s livelihoods by government funded private, for profit ventures. This shocking ruling has failed to protect the rights of citizens, and has failed to uphold justice and fairness in a democratic society.
The Canada Line project was built on the backs of hundreds of blindsided small business people along the Cambie corridor.
The project chose the most disruptive of several methods of construction. This discretionary and confidential decision alone should have negated the defence of Statutory Authority which the Appeal Court Justices used today as the basis for their ruling.
Under the law, the defence of Statutory Authority can only be used when it is proven in court that no other less disruptive method of construction was available. Instead of the devastating cut-and-cover construction, a bored tunnel method was not only available, but it was the basis of all public consultations and years of engineering reports and studies.
This project was enabled by the strategic use of confidentiality agreements at every stage, leaving citizens and even municipal officials misinformed and out of meaningful consultation. The last minute secret switch from underground bored tunnel to cut-and-cover, was never approved by Vancouver City Council, as a decision making body. They had authorized the City’s Engineering Department to negotiate the agreement that provided access to Vancouver’s streets for the project in a vacuum. The engineers were forced to sign confidentiality agreements that prohibited them from informing their bosses – City Council – of this critical switch.
I question the validity of any contract or agreement that allowed this project to proceed, that was obtained in the absence of the whole truth about the project and its impacts on citizens and small businesses. Compensation should have been factored into the business plan.
I am appalled that our legal system has failed to support the rights of citizens, and has attempted to provide a legal justification for the excessive harm caused by this P3 project. I further wonder how many tens of millions of dollars have been spent to legally defend the project, instead of fairly compensating the victims.
The May 27th 2009 ruling from Justice Pitfield must be upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. The outcome of this litigation will set a precedent for all small businesses across Canada. The precedent that it sets should be just and fair, and reasonable. When governments use their powers to confiscate value for the common good – individuals must be compensated.
4255 Main Street
Ravaged businesses on Cambie need our support
Last Friday I visited ground zero on Cambie Street. Toyo Sushi sits at the south end of the Cambie bridge, with a gaping canyon at its doorstep.
By: Gregor Robertson - June 13, 2007
Last Friday I visited ground zero on Cambie Street. Toyo Sushi sits at the south end of the Cambie bridge, with a gaping canyon at its doorstep.
Across the canyon, cars crawl by. Access is almost impossible, unless you know how to navigate the alleys.
Owner Yang Lee poured me a cup of green tea and shared her gut-wrenching story. The 160-seat restaurant, until recently a fixture for tour buses and the downtown lunch crowd, was empty. This was typical for afternoons since the digging started in February.
Her business has dropped almost 70 per cent, and she and her brother work day and night to minimize expenses. She has no idea how long it will be before the canyon is filled back in and customers can get to her door again. So the restaurant's survival is uncertain, despite her tenacity and tasty sushi.
A stone's throw away is the tunnel-boring machine, drilling north under False Creek while the digging proceeds to the south. Merchants on Cambie expected that machine to drill right up Cambie, leaving the street intact. The switch to cut-and-cover construction has turned Cambie into a war zone.
The Campbell government forced the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver project forward as a privatized contract, and TransLink chose SNC-Lavalin's bid, which included cut-and-cover to save more than $200 million in construction cost.
But it's now clear that some of these savings are direct costs to the small businesses along the Canada Line. Estimates are that merchants have lost more than $100 million in sales to date, and there's at least a year to go with major disruption.
These losses have taken their toll. Dozens of businesses have closed since construction began. Ten of these merchants averaged more than 20 years in business, so even the most stable and successful are vulnerable.
The average revenue drop is now about 50 per cent. Icons like the Tomato Cafe and Afghan Horseman can't withstand the loss of sales; both are moving west. Many more will be forced to shut down unless something is done soon.
Last month I introduced a bill in the legislature calling for property tax relief direct to these business owners, and emergency interest-free loans. The bill has broad support, both locally and from the 10,000-strong B.C. membership of Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
The Liberals chose to ignore this bill, repeatedly denying in the house that there's a serious problem here. Meanwhile they had no problem fast-tracking their fat pay raise before adjournment.
Neither the Small Business Minister Rick Thorpe nor Finance Minister Carole Taylor would stand up in the house and acknowledge the impact or support fair compensation. Half of these businesses are in Taylor's riding. But it was Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon's job to deny reality.
The Liberal rationale for refusing to consider compensation is that it will set a precedent. All the more reason to do the right thing! Doesn't it make sense to set a precedent that small businesses won't be wiped out by major public projects?
Seattle set up a program for businesses affected by the construction of its new rapid transit project. The city has approved $7.5 million in support for a project that affects about half the number of businesses as the Canada line. But the Liberals to date aren't willing to even consider a comparable "precedent."
Given the Canada Line's $1.9-billion budget, the initial cost of a tax relief and emergency loan program is less than one per cent of the total spending. Remember that we the taxpayers saved more than 10 per cent by going with the cut-and-cover method.
Word on the street is that if compensation doesn't happen soon, a class action law suit will result. Taxpayers could be on the hook for damages and legal costs, given the business owners had this massive disruption thrust on them without consultation or their approval.
Do the Liberals want to go to court against small businesses? How can you demonstrate support? Go have a meal and do some shopping on Cambie Street. Thank the merchants for their sacrifice. Ask to sign the petition to support the Small Business Fairness and Protection Act that I've tabled in Victoria. And spread the word -- it will be a tough summer for our Cambie merchants unless we all take action to support them.
Gregor Robertson is the NDP MLA for Vancouver-Fairview and Opposition critic for small business and revenue.
© (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.
Vancouver Province news – June 10, 2007
By: Christy Clark
The BC Government must support shattered Canada Line storeowners
Back in the 1990s, I used to travel the province pointing to empty shop windows. Those were the days when you could walk down the main street of almost any town in B.C. and see empty shops with “for rent” signs plastered on the windows.
While the rest of North America experienced what was perhaps the biggest economic expansion in history, B.C.’s economy tanked.
And when the economy dips, it’s the little guys who struggle. Hundreds of small businesses drowned in red ink. It was fertile ground for politicians hoping to convince voters that it was time for a change in government.
The B.C. Liberals pitched themselves as the small-business party, and voters gave them a chance to prove it.
The economy isn’t in the stinker anymore. But if you want to remember what those bad old days were like, take a walk down Vancouver’s Cambie Street. It looks a lot like Campbell River’s battered main drag in 1995.
The Canada Line construction through Cambie Village has made it next to impossible to get to those businesses, much less find a parking spot. And if you can find one within walking distance, good luck figuring out how to get around all the fencing!
If you do manage to get inside, you’ll find a shop owner who greets you with a look of both desperation and gratitude. You’ll quickly realize that’s because you’re the only customer they have.
The government says that’s the price of progress. It’s impossible to build a mammoth infrastructure project right through the middle of the urban core without disrupting local businesses. They say it’s too bad if some businesses go broke, but that’s the breaks.
Hold on a second here. That’s not the way it was supposed to work, at least not under the B.C. Liberals. They were supposed to be the people who understood the trials of keeping a small business open on slim margins.
The government is right that once construction is done, business will be brisk along Cambie. Unfortunately, most of the existing business owners won’t be there to reap the benefits. Rents will go up and new tenants will move in. But most of today’s operators will have moved or gone broke.
For anyone who owns one, a small business isn’t just a job, it’s a life’s dream. They risk their life savings, sometimes their homes, on the hope that, if they work hard enough, they’ll make a decent income.
Surely none of them thought that, despite their hard work, it would be a B.C. Liberal government that drove them out of business.
The NDP are championing some relief, and local MLA Gregor Robertson is proposing a tax holiday. It’s a start.
The government should go further. They should offer no- interest loans to bridge the businesses through the many months of construction.
Change always means disruption; you can’t build the biggest infrastructure project in B.C. history without it. But what is disruption for us is the death of a life’s dream for many of those business owners along the line.
9:13 PM on February 20, 2011
The quotations from the ruling by the BC Court of Appeals regrettably show that, not only did the Honourable Judges not know anything about engineering, but did not take the time to seek expert engineering advice either....a very sad day for Canadian engineers indeed.
Both methods of construction would have been disruptive, but the level of disruption and destruction of the open-cut method was infinitely greater than that of bored tunnels. The proof was right in front of the Honourable Judges (no kidding!!!). The downtown portion of the tunnel (North of False Creek up to Dunsmuir and Granville) was done by bored tunnels with minimal disturbance except in the areas of stations shafts. Between Dunsmuir and Waterfront, where Granville Street was gutted open as in South Cambie the disruption was monumental and lasted for a long time.
If my memory of the geography of Vancouver is correct the tunnel and open-cut portions along Granville were not too far from the Honourable Judges Chambers.....maybe they had blinds in their windows......?
The one, and only reason why South Cambie was brutally ripped open with the loss of livelihood to scores of small business and business losses in the millions (as accurately estimated at the time by the Canadian Federation of Small Business) was the Olympic deadline. Translink goofed around and wasted valuable time during the pre-tendering process that took years. When they finally got their act together with the P3 scheme it was too late to bore tunnels along Cambie, so at the instigation of their P3 partner they went for the only option that got the line finished in time for the Olympics, to rip the living guts out of South Cambie and its merchants.
The deadline was politically imposed, very likely directly from the highest level of authority in BC. A more fundamental issue in this judgement is whether, or not governments have the right to destroy people's lives for the purpose of meeting artificial political completion deadlines.
The Canada Line was not an Olympic commitment, nor would it have meant anything whether the line was completed in November 2009 or a year later if tunnels had been used.
Any socially-conscious engineer knows that project timetables should be set by engineering and construction requirements and constraints, not by artificial political deadlines. When such deadlines are imposed harm occurs. Curiously the representatives of BC engineers remained conveniently silent in this case.
Posted by David Berner at 9:30 AM
Friday, February 18, 2011
Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk is leaving the force. He has resigned.
And none too soon .
How did this man pass the tests for admission in the first place?
Last summer, Birk saw native woodcarver John T. Williams walk past him. Williams had a knife and a piece of wood in his hand. He is a woodcarver. Duh.
The knife was closed.
Williams was practically deaf.
Birk told the woodcarver several times to put down his knife.
The man is a woodcarver. Has this officer not been out of the house very often?
When the deaf man did not respond, Ian Birk did what any good officer would do - NOT!
He shot John T. Williams not once, not twice, but four times. He killed John T. Williams on a sunny afternoon on a downtown Seattle street.
The police reviewed the case and concluded that this shooting was not justified. They made a commitment to firing Birk and seeing that he never put on a police uniform again in Washington State.
The King County prosecutor will not file criminal charges against Birk.
If this isn't murder, what is?
See the video news report below.
Posted by David Berner at 10:50 AM
How is it possible that a woman who has spent much of her life in public service has no simple moral compass?
You cannot doctor documents and hope to stay in office.
Depends on who your boss is.
Bev Oda is the feral, uh, excuse me, the federal Minister of International Cooperation and Calligraphy.
She must step down.
Posted by David Berner at 10:34 AM
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Solicitor-General Rich Coleman made two statements in the house yesterday that have no credibility. They are simply not believable.
1. He said that "the accused confirmed that they acted alone and were solely responsible for their criminal acts."
If like Basi and Virk, your silence had been bought for $6 Million in public funds, you'd say that too.
2. He said "The decision on the fate of the legal fees reimbursed by the government was made by the deputy minister of finance supported by the deputy attorney general who issued a public statement setting out the circumstances. These two senior public servants acted on their own authority without any political direction, influence or approval."
In a government so tightly orchestrated from the top down, one cannot swallow the fairy tale that two deputy ministers made on their own such an enormous decision to spend public funds.
For a much better understanding of this sham, watch the interview with Bill Tieleman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd7OP1GvoAc and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dhuLsRwx1g&feature=related.
I am not for a moment suggesting that Mr. Coleman is deliberately saying untruths in the Legislature.
It is quite possible that, having been in government for the past many years, Mr. C. has come to believe whatever shovelful of nonsense the party in power is peddling this week.
Posted by David Berner at 10:10 AM
Peter Ladner, architect Bing Thom and former Crown prosecutor Sandra Garossino have all said in an op-ed piece in this morning's Sun that "It's the wrong project for Vancouver, promoted by the wrong people for the wrong reason."
They are right.
See the Geoff Plant interview on video below.
Posted by David Berner at 10:01 AM
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The greatest liar and mass murderer in Canadian history is appealing his sentence.
After serving a mere five years for building bombs that killed 331 people, Inderjit Singh Reyat was then found guilty of perjury and sentenced to nine more years in prison.
Mr. R. is appealing that sentence because he feels that it was"harsh and excessive."
Here stands before us the definition of a psychopath.
Posted by David Berner at 9:40 AM
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
There is not much in public life that gets my approval.
But I am delighted to see the city fining people who cut down trees by the bushel, even trees in their own yard.
I understand a little trim here and there.
But I am at a complete loss to fathom why anyone would cut down big and beautiful and healthy trees in an urban area.
My friend Geoff lives on a small acreage on Salt Spring Island. The log house he and his family built with their own hands almost 40 years ago backs onto a bit of a forest. The air is magnificent. You can sense in every way the bounty of oxygen, and you are reminded how different is the air in town.
Today's story is about folks on Southwest Marine Drive performing what amounts to a massive clear cut just after being told by the city to stop.
I suppose when you live on SW Marine Drive you have the understandable illusion that you are above the ordinary rules.
Here is something that is even more puzzling.
Why are most of the city tree-cutters recent arrivals from China and India?
You would think that in countries where millions are crowded into cities a new environment with greenery abundant would be cherished.
Posted by David Berner at 9:56 AM
Marvelous op-ed in the Sun this morning by Rob Macdonald, CEO of Macdonald Development Corp. Macdonald is an avid cyclist and financially supports cycling events in Vancouver.
Yet he quite rightly and ripely tears into the stupidity of the Dunsmuir & Hornby Street bike lanes.
Posted by David Berner at 9:50 AM
Saturday, February 5, 2011
BELL wants to be a good citizen.
It supports February 9th as some kind of national mental health day.
The full page ad in the Globe today tells me so.
Unfortunately, it also tells me that "One in five Canadians suffers from mental illness."
This is not true.
There is no scientific or even pseudo-scientific evidence to support this absurd claim.
Think of all the people you know, the people you've met, the folks with whom you interact on a daily basis.
No doubt there are some among them who struggles with a mental illness.
But 1 in 5?
I don't think so.
Why are the so-called social sciences so slip-shod?
If you want me to support a worthy cause, try at least to give me some real and supportable documentation.
At the very least, give me a number that my good instincts can accept as reasonable.
Posted by David Berner at 6:33 PM
There are so many reasons that I have declined, over the years, to run for public office.
Privacy. Boring company. Tedious meetings, hearings.
But way up there at the top of the list is this reason:
I am interested in public policy, in what useful and helpful roles governments might have in the lives of the common weal.
The color of your skin, your choice of worship, your sexuality are completely none of my business and I don't want to hear about it, thanks.
If I were to run for office, I would not suddenly court "the Jewish vote." Or any other group that wants to claim special status to the exclusion of any other group that claims special status.
Of course, this naive and unrealistic position would guarantee that I would never be elected.
Today's headline is a disgusting case in point:
South Asian votes key to leadership races
Liberal and NDP candidates are aggressively pursuing support from a community that will play a major role in many of the province's ridings, with varying degrees of successI know. You don't have to yell at me.
Fighting this insidious nonsense is about as productive as complaining about cell phones and texting.
It is simply not in my range of acceptability that you or I should vote for Avtar or Bennie or Bruce because he or she is Sikh or Jewish or gay or purple or green.
But I am not very bright and that is why it's a good thing that I don't run alongside all the honorable candidates.
Posted by David Berner at 10:33 AM
The two videos below comprise our third show on SHAW COMMUNITY TV.
Retired Justice Wallace Gilby Craig shares with us his unique assessment on how we are managing law and order these days.
This is not for the faint of heart or the nodding traditionalist.
Posted by David Berner at 10:18 AM
Friday, February 4, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The old rickety engine that drives the sale of most products and services and bad political ideas is FEAR.
Your body stinks.
Your body leaks.
Your breath, hair, arms, privates are all inadequate.
Get NEW ALL-PURPOSE FIX-O!
Buy this big honking truck, you dumb rube.
There you go. Now you're a REAL MAN!!!
So how surprised should we be that one of the most scurrilous politicians in America today is hollering FIRE in the opera house this morning over...what?
The Canada-US border.
Yes, Senator Joe Lieberman suggests that perhaps we Canadians should need a visa to enter the US.
Because we have lenient asylum laws and immigrations laws.
I have a rabbi friend who thinks the independent Senator from that heavily besieged state of Connecticut is great because the good Senator is an orthodox Jew who never lets his duties interfere with the sabbath.
With due respect to my rabbi friend, this is the kind of non-thinking ethnic voting that has become one of the hallmarks of voting in Canada.
Here's what we thank the various lords for -
Joe is not seeking re-election.
Posted by David Berner at 8:52 AM
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Posted by David Berner at 9:44 AM
Cam Cole, musing in today's Sun about Tiger Woods, has crafted one of the best sports pieces I've read in a long time.
Cole brings forward the elephant that no else dare mention - Tiger may never, yes never, be the golfer we knew (or really didn't know at all) a few years ago. Tiger is basically toast.
He may be right.
On the other hand (to quote a certain Milkman), the ESPN "story line" for the Australian Open tennis was nonsense. "The Changeover."
Needing as we all do these days (governments, real estate sales, quiz shows) a "narrative," the sports broadcaster chose to convince us that Federer and Nadal are basically over and done and that Djokovic and a few others will be the new stars, starting right about...now.
Wrong again, Smartypants.
No question, Djokovic was magnificent in his run to the finals and in his defeat of Andy Murray. He has never played better and he is significantly better than he was even one year ago. He is now truly one of the great contemporary players.
But Federer and Nadal are the two best players I have ever seen play this game. Ever.
And they are not going away. They are hardly finished.
Tiger may be, but they are not.
Posted by David Berner at 9:24 AM