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.

President Obama on the Passing of Steve Jobs: "He changed the way each of us sees the world." | The White House


President Obama on the Passing of Steve Jobs: "He changed the way each of us sees the world." | The White House

Monday, October 3, 2011

You think LADY GAGA is a fake? Can't sing? You think Tony is finished at 85? Check out this glorious take from his new DUETS2 Album

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND - The Pod People are mulifplying and they are winning...



I woke up at 6 am on Friday to visit the little room not far from where I sleep. My land line phones at home have a wonderful feature. There is a pre-set that turns off the ringers from 11:30 at night until 8 in the morning. I noticed in the dark, the phone light blinking. Oh, a message. No, two messages.

I knew what they would be.

The Supreme Court decision had come down delivering Insite unto the masses, Whooppee.

Sho ‘nuff, two media giants from the Mystic East had called at 5:45 and 5:49 requesting my extremely important reactions to this news. The 11-year old girl producer for one of these broadcasters ended her voice mail with “I hope you’re having a nice day.”

I yelled at the towels, “I AM having a nice day, thanks. I’m FUCKING SLEEPING!”

At 8:30, when I was already hunkering before the computer and reading about the pro-Insite decision, Nice Day Lady called again.

I asked her if, anywhere in her school life, she had been taught time zones. After a pause long enough for me to think of calling 911 to revive her, she said that she thought this was a business number.

“Besides the need to grow alfalfa, why would I be at work at 5:45 in the morning?” I asked ever so pleasantly.

Well, you get the picture.

The nice kid from local CBC-TV came over with his cameraman.

We filmed about 12 minutes in my dining room and then went upstairs to my study to film “B Roll” of me looking at the CBCTV website on this computer.

I watched the piece on the supper hour cast.

The Embalmed One was anchoring, but someone else was fronting this story.

They showed 3-5 minutes of raucous overjoyed crowds of believers cheering in triumph in front of the “safe” injection place. Then 8 seconds of my miserable out-of-step-with-the-times disagreement.

This is how the “journalists” at the Mother Corp operate. Five minutes of Hooray and 8 seconds of Just You Wait a Minute, Now.

At 8:30 that evening, the phone operator for a Radio talk show host in Alberta called and informed me that his host would be speaking to me soon. The host came on line and asked for my thoughts; then he argued vehemently with me. I asked him why he had invited me on the program. I asked him if he would ever knowingly cross the street to give a drunk a clean shot glass, or, if he knew that his daughter was self-mutilating, he might sharpen her razor blades for her.

He reckoned that he would do neither of those things, but felt it necessary to point out that I was in the minority. Translation – you are wrong, David. I asked him if he understood democracy.

He kept yelling at me, so I thanked him for calling and told him this wasn’t the kind of conversation I wanted to have with anyone, let alone him.

Later that evening, I caught about half an hour of a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The movie is called “The Invasion,” and it’s about the fourth remake of the great 1950’s black and white sci-fi flick, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” It’s about human beings being overtaken and replaced by the Pod People who look just like them but who are robotic and without humanity.

(The only true oddity in this version is that Daniel Craig is such a good actor and so charismatic that when he has to convey that he has gone over to the Pod People, he is not convincing because his eyes continue to shine with some mysterious Star’s inner light.)

In the penultimate scene, Kidman and her son, pursued by the crazies, dash madly out of a building, but when they get onto the street, they must slow down and walk like zombies to fit in with the creeps around them.

I couldn’t watch because this all played perfectly into the disassociation I was experiencing all day.

There have now been at least four distinct times in my life when I felt that perhaps I had entered an alien universe or perhaps all the creatures around me where of a different and peculiar species.

The first time was watching hundreds of thousands of lunatics cheering on that creepy self-evident crook, Richard Nixon, at the Republican national Convention. They were wearing pants and dresses and they certainly looked like examples of the human species, but one could only wonder.

The second time was when the clock radio came on next to my bed in 1974/5 in Edmonton with the news that Bill Hawrelak had been re-elected Mayor of that fine Northern city. Bill had been found guilty of crimes on three occasions, but that didn’t stop the good people of Edmonton from choosing him to be mayor one last time. In 1992, I went cross-country skiing in Hawrelak Park. But that morning when the happy Hawrelak news broke, I felt like my shoulders had been pinned to the mattress by some extra-terrestrial force.

The third time was much like the first time, only instead of the true believers raising their banners on high for the oily Nixon, we had The Dumbest Person of Earth, George Bush.

But nothing in my experience prepared me for the sight of that crowd crowing with happiness for the brilliant decision of the Supreme Court, supporting the shooting gallery.

There were dope fiends and party hacks and pseudo-scientists and elected officials and doctors and so many people of holy good will cheering.

One friend of mine, a retired DTES police man, said he wanted to leave the province, leave the country. I was thinking gallactically. Maybe on Mars or Uranus there are creatures with clearer minds.

Last week, I had the joyful experience of attending the 40th anniversary of the Manitoba chapter of the abstinence based therapeutic community treatment centre that I started here in Vancouver in 1967.

There are 136 people in residence at any given moment and a 6-month waiting list to get in. Every day, clients are getting their matriculation and University degrees and reuniting with their families and moving to transition houses and back into the world as clean and sober citizens.

Support your local prevention and treatment programs. Unlike the other nightmares-posing-as-social policy, these real places are about hope and human dignity. Anything less is unworthy of our attention.