Sunday, July 31, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011



A few days ago, I wrote in this space about the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

It is an annoying and vexatious hybrid, a kangaroo court that operates outside any known laws and awards taxpayers monies in the most subjective ways unimaginable.

Now, in yet another case with findings that seem again inappropriate, a frightening little anomaly has emerged.

Turns out that employers have "a duty to accommodate people with any disabilities."


Any disabilities?

The meddling mandarins who determine such things not too long ago declared that drug addiction is a disability. There are many social workers, psychologists and other professional cry-babies who subscribe to this idiocy.


If drug addiction is mistakenly considered by society to be a disability, then according to the law, employers have a civic duty to accommodate their dope fiend employees.


So there will be a ten-minute time out on on the floor while Bert takes his methadone and Maddy stops by the nurse's station for her safe H injection.

And don't you worry your pretty little head about that whirring press with all those troublesome little gears and teeth and things. They are pretty well auto-piloted and even if Bert or Maddy fall smack-gob right into them, they'll just seize up for a moment or two and then we'll be right back on schedule.

We are a Caring Company and we know we are because we say we are and because the BC Human Rights Tribunal wrote our employee manual.

(Article 45BM-11 of the manual, by the way, clearly states that if a disabled addict employee has to miss a day or two to straighten out his or her last deal with their supplier or is too hung over or sick to poop or cut bait, NO PROBLEMO. We care. We really, really do.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I read the Vancouver Sun and the Globe & Mail this morning.

Blah, blah, blah.

The single most important story stands alone - the US debt crisis.

I am not smart enough to know what has brought us to this brink.

Greed? The credit card life? Laziness? Entitlement? Poor productivity? Cheap Asian labour?

I don't know.

But I know this.

If the US falters, so do the rest of us. The European Union is in a almost mirror image of near panic.

What makes this all so scary, truly frightening, is that so much of the possible short term solution lies in the Bible-thumping, slogan-bearing, gun-toting, simple-minded, clever, always politically motivated hands of Republicans, in and out of office.


* * *

One the local scene, where we are insulated from real problems by bike lanes and the profusion of good Italian coffee shops, only a small letter to the editor in the Sun caught my eye.

Here it is in its entirety:

A plea to delay funding cuts to mental health group

Survivors of mental illness are often stigmatized and ostracized by society. They often must struggle to recover on their own with little help from the community.

But Burnaby Mental Wealth Society has provided psycho-social rehabilitation services to 300 members for 17 years. Our supportive social community has been a second family to our members. We encourage members to stay healthy, out of hospital and involved in society.

But due to a recent draconian decision by Fraser Health, our funding has been terminated as of Aug. 31.

We are asking Fraser Health to sustain our funding until March 31, 2012 to give us time to find another source. We ask the public to support us by writing to their members of the legislature to ask that Fraser Health sustain our funding. Please help us help the poor and mentally ill.

John Johnston President, Burnaby Mental Wealth Society

Thursday, July 14, 2011


The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is quickly becoming an enormous and costly embarrassment.

A while back it awarded money and damages to a lesbian couple because a not-very-skilled comedian in a not-very-classy joint hurled insults a them. HELLO?

Now, the Tribunal has awarded $5,000 to a B.C. man who was denied aboriginal spiritual services while in custody in the Fraser Valley.

The man was separated numerous times in various local jails into segregated or protective custody.

This usually happens when a guy is violent and out of control.

So maybe a spiritual adviser would have been helpful. That's very possible.

But why award a violent felon $5,000 of taxpayers' money for hurt feelings?

You break the law, you fight with the guards, shitty bad things are probably going to happen.



It's the kind of story that should only happen in Vancouver.

But no, it took place in that hot bed of indigenous comedy, Austria.

Niko Alm had his driver's license issued with a photo of him wearing pasta stainer on his head.

A self-confessed atheist, Mr Alm says he belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Read and believe.

Wonder only if his name can really be "Alm?" Of it he had it shortened from the more traditional "Alms?" Or the more rigorous Austrian spelling "Almsforzepoor"

Monday, July 11, 2011


I've always believed that dogs are boys and cats are girls.

I believed this when I was a child.

In spite of knowledge since acquired, I still believe this.

Dogs are boys and cats are girls.

Don't bug me.


Oil, illegal drugs and Big Pharma.

These are three of the four biggest businesses in the world.

But the fourth is also the largest and most profitable.

It is also the one least discussed in public.


You know, guns, bullets, bombs, planes, drones, Humvees...

These little enterprises, which prop up the economies of most producing countries in the world, are almost a secret.

How refreshing - if gruesome - then to see a major report in today's morning Sun:

Canada doing brisk business in arms: data

Military hardware exports rise

Of course, you can't sell a few killing machines without helping out the odd despot or mass murderer or two.

Just turn the page and read about the half-million people huddled together in refugee camps in Kenya. Dadaab is hell on earth. And after the famine and the drought, came the war.

But hey, our exports are up.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Did you vote yet on the HST?

I did.

I voted "Yes," which, of curse, means No.

Life in La-La Land is like that.

But that's not the story.

The real issue is whose cousin had the paper contract?

First you mark your ballot.

Then you put it in envelope A.

Then like, Ukranian dolls, you put envelope A into envelope B.

Then you put envelope B - which already hides away envelope A - into envelope C.

I am not making this up.

Then you put the whole happy package into a Canada Post mail box and hope that nobody is on strike this week.

Other question:

Whose cousin gets the contract for the 100,000 Haida-carved letter openers?

Democracy! Inclusion! Consultation!

Who cares if we never get a real summer!

We've got Christy Crispy Crunchy World - The Magical Forest of Envelopes.

Would you like no tea in your sugar?

Friday, July 8, 2011



Methadone is six times more addictive than heroin.

In spite of this fact, doctors, psychiatrists, social workers and others have been giving this poison to addicts for more than 50 years now as an alleged "replacement therapy."

Of course, this is, always has been and always will be a failing strategy.

How are addicts provided this poison?

Some come to a clinic window, but most are provided prescxriptions which they fill at their neighb ourhood pharmacy. The pharmacists are given a fee by the government for this deadly undignified "service." They are happily paid by us to keep drug addicts stoned.

Human nature being what it is, pharmacists and addicts develop a bit of a relationship, which includes colusion to steal again from the public.

Sometimes they get caught.

Witness today's Vancouver Sun headline:

City seeks investigation into methadone kickback charges

City Councillor, Kerry Jang, is "outraged."

Does the good Councillor also know that...wait for it...drug addicts sell their pills daily on the street?

Yes. Imagine!

Unfortunately, council's favorite drama queen is outraged at the wrong thing, as he often is.

It hasn't yet occurred to Jang - or many other people in charge - that the whole business of providing addicts with an addictive substitute drug is outrageous and should be stopped at once if not sooner.

These cozy arrangements between users and providers have been going on for at least the 45 years that I've been involved in addiction and recovery issues.

What's new, Bub?

Huff and puff all you want.

There's only one useful and human and dignified change available to us in this sorry mess.

Stop it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


If you read no other editorial column this week, do yourself a favor and read today's piece in the Vancouver Sun. It is one of the best and most important items I've read in a long, long time.

Education of aboriginal children must be top priority

Issue has been acknowledged -but not addressed -since the 1960s

Tomorrow, the paper promises solutions, and I will eagerly await this follow-up.

But I can tell you right now what two elements must be.

1. Recruit, hire and deploy a kind of "navy seals" cadre of dedicated teachers who are prepared to start tomorrow and work very hard and very closely, one-on-one when necessary, to inspire aboriginal children to the joys and rewards of learning.

No studies or commissions please. Just do it.

2. Gather the parents and families and shake them from their liassez-faire approach to fostering and encouraging their kids to succeed in school. Do whatever it takes to bring families into that sense of pride and accomplishment that is essential for kids to revel in learning.

Passing Strange

Something bizarre has happened.

In the days past when I used to post new items on this blog site every day, I would average about 300 hits a day.

Recently, because I only post once or twice a week, I rarely get more than 200 hits.

But yesterday, a first.

1568 page loads


What the heck was that all about?

I can't know for sure, but I have an idea.

Yesterdays post (PLUTO? URANUS?) was all about the BC Teachers federation.


Could it be that one union member emailed or texted another union member and that person contacted three of her friends and so on?

Most mysterious.

That, and the 12 comments this morning suggests that I seem to have struck a noive.



This comment came from a regular contributor. I thought it deserved a post of its own. Read it and weep.

My son is a student at Lord Byng -- his French teacher (I won't name her) likes to check her Facebook account during class (which she leaves open on the computer, with no concern that a) the kids can see it; b) that it might be considered inappropriate; and c) that it sends a message that she is less than interested in her little charges and that it's really NOT all about the students). Did I mention that she also is in the habit of texting during class?

Toward the end of the first and second terms (although I understand that is going to be cut back to once per year) we are given the opportunity to set up 5 minute interviews with our childrens' teachers -- for the first term interviews we were unfortunately unable to get even one interview (and we weren't the only ones). Did they schedule another evening (I mean, we are talking 5 bloody minutes per student!)? Of course they didn't. I contacted each of my son's teachers by e-mail asking for some feedback in the form of a meeting or, at the very least, a phone call. Only one teacher met with me, the rest (with the exception of the aforementioned French teacher) replied that everything was fine and a meeting wasn't necessary. In order to get a basic (and I do mean basic) reply from the French teacher, I had to send two e-mail messages and leave two 'phone messages (the later a complaint to the counsellor) before a response was received. Perhaps I should have texted or Facebooked her!

Professional would be the last word I would use to describe this lot.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


The BC Teachers Federation continues to reach out from somewhere on that hitherto unknown planet they inhabit.

Their most recent kvetch includes demands for 10 days bereavement leave for the death of a friend, 26 weeks of paid compassionate leave and two sick days a month that can be saved up.

Oh, did we mention the 22% increase in wages?

They are completely mad, totally irresponsible and, at core, very much like the entitled children entrusted in their care most week days - about whom, by the way, they care not a whit.

I am in general sympathetic to and often downright supportive of unions.

But these thoughtless folks are the game-changers.

I have learned first hand over the years that large numbers of their own membership are embarrassed and horrified by this union and further, that they are sufficiently cowed by the activists at the top to remain ever silent.


And pity all of us the adversarial atmosphere that has held strong these many, many years between teachers and government.

Who knows? Maybe someday in our wildest dreams, the BCTF will grow out of its jumpers and diapers and sun-flowered shirts and make the occasional real deal.

Union Prez, Susan Lambert, is pictured above.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011



Most teachers are dedicated professionals trying every day to teach entitled little brats whose thumbs are permanently welded to their iPhones.

This is a comment on the two august bodies who tell us that they represent teachers.

The first is the famous BCTF, the local union whose membership often cringes at the relentless political animus spewing from its offices. We speak of this organization often in these pages, almost always with disgust.

Today, our focus is on the BC College of Teachers.

B.C. College of Teachers keeps some bad records spotless

Incidents of a sexual nature, violence, wiped from histories

Now, we don't know in which cases accusations proved to be false or harmless or pointless. No doubt there were some.

But Janet Steffenhagen's excellent feature in the morning Sun suggests that dangerous truths are being buried as well.

That's OK.

The BC College of Physicians and the Law Society are equally adept at truth-smothering, all in the interest of polishing the old image.

Circle the wagons, Pilgrim!


Health care is our single biggest expense.

What punishment is appropriate for officials who steal from this pool?

The new electronic health monitoring system is running at $222 million to date.

A few months ago, a local doctor billed large amounts to this system and then pleaded to two counts of influence-peddling with government officials.

Dr. Jonathan Burns was sentenced to three years' probation and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Six other charges against Burns, including fraud and breach of trust, were stayed.

Now, the former assistant deputy minister of health, Ron Danderfer, has pleaded guilty to fraud for accepting "considerations" for himself and his wife in the course of his duties.

His lawyer, of course, says that this kind of thing is the standard in private business. Nice.

The lawyer also whines that Danderfer has already suffered greatly from the attention the case has received in the media.

"It has been extremely trying for him. He's lost his job, he's lost the respect he had in the community, this has taken an amazing toll on him."

Boo effing hoo.

No doubt this thief will be asked to write an essay entitled, "My Bad."

Welcome to the peach-colored Land of No Consequences.

Jules Verne originally wrote about this place over a hundred years ago, but his publishers rejected the manuscript out of hand as being "too fantastical - not a soul on earth would believe that such a place exists."