The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Monday, September 30, 2002

Ottawa to conside decriminaliztion of the posession of marijuana

Today's Throne Speech mentioned that the government will consider decriminalizing the simple posession of marijuana; currently, a conviction will leave one saddled with a criminal record.

Read more.

Decriminalization is but a baby-step compared to a Senate report earlier this month that called for legalization of cannabis, with regulation and taxation of the drug.
Throne speech sets tone for new session of Parliament

Today's Speech from the Throne unveiled a more activist, more traditionally Liberal, agenda for the upcoming session.

A veritable laundry-list of programs that the federal government plans to carry out was announced today in the Speech from the Throne. They include:

Improve the health care system;
Get Canada's children off welfare;
Close the gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians;
Deal with climate change;
Make Canada a world leader in innovation and learning;
Attract talent and investment;
Help cities;
Strengthen the bonds of shared citizenship and the partnership between government and Canadians.

More coverage from the Globe and Mail

The plans or the health-care improbvements will be hashed out at a First Ministers' conference in early 2003, following the report on the Commission on the Future of Health Care, scheduled for release in November.

The Throne Speech is only a broad overview of the government's agenda. The details will be revealed in the session of Parliament that has now begun. The real details will be in the budget that is expected to be brought down in February

Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper has dismissed the speech as "a bunch of recycled stuff from the last several years."

Harper's pririties -- cutting taxes and decentralizing power to the provinces -- were not addressed in the speech, which marks a leftward shift for the ruling Liberal Party.

Harper will formally respond to the Throne Speech in the House of Commons tomorrow, as will the leaders of the other official parties in Parliament.

Former Prime Minister and current Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark called the speech a "piece of fluff" and a "public-relations stunt." Clark said that much of the agenda in the speech was already on the agenda when Parliament was prorougued in the summer.
For what it's worth, the Throne Speech will take place at about 11:15 am PT / 2:15 pm ET today; expect live coverage from CTV NewsNet and CBC Newsworld starting at about 2:00 ET. CBC Radio One will also cover the speech.

That's if you really care about these sorts of things.

Otherwise, just keep scrolling down...

More on the Throne Speech from
More money for health care?

This would seem to be what's in the offing from the federal government. The Globe and Mail reports that tomorrow's Thone Speech will include promises of more federal spending on heath care after former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow's commission submits its final report to Parliament in November.

Provincial governments have been putting the pressure on the feds to cough up more health transfer payments recently. This past week has seen the provincial governments begin a media blitz to get their message across that Ottawa is not doing its part to ensure that health care works in Canada. The provincial governments claim that Ottawa only contributes 14% of health care budgets; the federal government suggests that its share is three times what the premiers say.

Watch some video: Transport Minister and Jean Chrétien lieutenant David Collenette outlines throne speech preparations.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

More McCallum

Embattled Surrey mayor Doug McCallum has been slinging mud at the Surrey RCMP. McCallum, who has been under fire after reports that he was trying cover up reports of crime in Surrey, has fired back, claiming the the Mounties have too many officers "on leave."

43 of the force's 400 officers are unavailable for duty for various reasons; Superintendent Randy Bennett claims that this is not an unusual situation for police departments. McCallum claims that it's unacceptable, and wants the RCMP to address the situation before Surrey funds more police officers.

Surrey's ratio of officers to resident has improved somewhat in the six years since McCallum became mayor; however, the ratio of criminal code offences in Surrey to the number of officers is over 50% higher than is that of the City of Vancouver.

While McCallum claims that he's not attempting to suppress information about crime in Surrey, police have a different take on the story.

Police say the mayor has told them they may make only three kinds of press releases: requests for public assistance, positive news stories, and stories of which the media are already aware and in regard to which they have made further inquiries.

McCallum wants to preserve the image of a law-and-order politician; reports of crime in Surrey tend to hurt his image in that regard.
Former biz reporter Philip Longman's article in The Washington Monthly is a comprehensive and scathing look at the conflicts that the business press faced in the "bubble economy." Not only does he share with readers the failings of the business press, but he also offers a prescription of sorts on how to fix its problems.

Here's an excerpt:

What will it take to fix business journalism? Not advertising-driven features on celebrity CEOs and flash-in-the-pan start-ups, or financial advice based on conflicted sources. As Fortune writers did in the '30s and '40s, today's business journalists will have to rebuild their credibility the old-fashioned way, by talking to sources at all levels, including customers, competitors, and loading-dock hands, and by paying far less attention to stock analysts and CFOs. If such investigations uncover malfeasance, then that's a story. But even if a company like Enron had been squeaky clean, a talented writer--given enough time and access--could have written a fascinating account of its corporate culture and business methods. Fortune once published detailed profiles of stodgy companies like the Southern Pacific Railroad just because they played a key role in the American economy and reflected many larger trends, not because they had a flashy CEO, a rising stock price, or some other kind of "news energy."
Globe and Mail national-affairs scribbler Jeffrey Simpson takes a hard look at NDP leadership hopeful Jack Layton.
Former biz reporter Philip Longman's
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Friday, September 27, 2002

Surrey mayor interfering with police?

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has been pressuring the Surrey RCMP to not add press relases about crime in Surrey to its media database. McCallum, who is running for a third term as mayor, refutes allegations that he's trying to interfere with police operations. He says that he's never asked the police to withhold public information, despite the fact that there have been

e-mails to the contrary reported in the local media. The picture above is a representation of a message acquired by CKNW radio.

A CTV news reporter has also found a letter from McCallum to the RCMP asking them to withhold press releases relating to Surrey from the force's national press-release database. McCallum claims that it was a city council decision; however, the letter is written in the first person and makes no reference to the council.

City councillor and former Surrey mayor Bob Bose says that council was never involved in a decision to ask the police for anything. Bose has said that McCallum also gets a daily briefing on police activity from the RCMP; Bose thinks that this should be available to all city councillors.

From the CBC's report:

RCMP media Constable Danielle Efford says, " We have been aware of Mayor McCallum's concerns about the content of some news releases issued by the Surrey detachments that news stories related to criminal activity may frame Surrey in a negative light."

CKNW radio broke this story; read their report here.

McCallum has accused Bose of partisan attacks; noting that Bose and McCallum are of different political parties. McCalum said of Bose "he's NDP; they're always criticizing police."
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Thursday, September 26, 2002

They're watching you... again!

Canada's Privacy Commissioner, George Radwanski, is once again calling on the government to halt plans for another surveillance and person-tracking program. As well he should.

This latest idea is from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, It would track the passenger information of every Canadian who travels outside the country including name, date of birth, destination, form of payment, pieces of luggage, tracel documents, and more... and keep this stuff on file for SIX YEARS! What makes one subject to this kind of monitoring? That oh-so-suspicious activity of leaving the country! So, let me get this straight... every person who books a round-trip to, say, L.A. gets their names in another Big Brother Database?

Of course, law enforcement has reason to keep tabs on suspicious activity. I don't think that leaving the country is a strict enough criterion.

[Radwanski] so troubled by government plans to establish a database of Canadian travel patterns that he said Thursday that he has no choice but to make his concerns public.

In an open letter to Revenue Minister Elinor Caplan, George Radwanski characterized the plan as "an unprecedented move to treat every Canadian as a suspect" that has "no place in a free society."

Right on, George. Here's a bit of his letter to the Minister of National Revenue:

"Very frankly, the government of Canada has no business systematically recording and tracking where all law-abiding Canadians travel, with whom we travel, or how often we travel," he writes. "And the government of Canada has no business compiling databases of personal information about Canadians solely for the purpose of having this information available to use against us if and when it becomes expedient to do so."

Right on, brother.
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CBC Newsworld is reporting that Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union president Buzz Hargrove will not seek the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party. Hargrove had previously said that he would make a decision by Thgursday (today) on whether or not he would enter the race.

Hargrove has long been a critic of the party and outgoing leader Alexa McDonough, often complaining that the party was not "left" enough for his tastes. He has previously suggested that he would consider running for the party's leadership if there was not a candidate of which he approves.

If it's true that Hargrove has decided not to run, it'll be interesting to see who be endorses; Hargrove is influential both within and without the CAW, and his candidate of choice can count on a substantial number of votes from Hargrove's fans.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2002

You might have heard about how one Calgary supermarket was selling horse meat as ground beef a while back.

So here's the joke:

Q. How is beef graded in Alberta?

A. Win, Place or Show.
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Kyoto fights, part whatever

Hugh Winsor's column in today's Globe and Mail deals with the different strategies of Canadian proponents and opponents of the Kyoto climate-change accord. Winsor notes that the plan's opponents tend to criticize the plan's possible short-term effects of Canada raifying the deal. Kyoto opponents, of course, spin apocalyptical scenarios that have, so far, gone unanswered by the government.

For an example of this, see here. It's been reported that some government estimates say that Kyoto could cost Canada 200,000 jobs and $16.5-billion in economic growth. What does the Prime Minister do? Brush it off; he doesn't even try to refute it. In failing to counter the short-term criticism, he looks weak,and the advantage is ceded to Ralph Klein and the oilpatch.

In the long run, Winsor argues, the arguments for Kyoto are stronger, and he also says that ratifying the deal is a moral imperative. He's right on both points, especially the latter one; enironmental conservation and protection is often not the most economically viable path, but, for many people, your humble scribe included, it's the morally right thing to do.

As for the reported economic consequences? Check this out from the column.

Yes, the economy will not grow quite as fast under Kyoto as it might under a no-holds-barred approach. But the estimate that cabinet is having difficulty admitting to is 200,000 fewer jobs over a decade, not the end of the world given that the labour-force growth in the first eight months of this year was 386,000 jobs.

Hmm, interesting. Also, $16.5-billion in economic growth lost over the next ten years seems like a lot, to be sure. However, that's about six months' growth if the economy grows at about a rate of 3%. No worse a blip than an economic slowdown that happens every handful of years.

And the probability of new jobs in the new, carbon-reduced economy is equally high.

Bingo! Now you've got it -- jobs in the industries that will be stimulated by cutting emissions.

Can anybody say Ballard Power Systems?
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Another list from The Hill Times

Angelo Persichilli's been digging again...

This summer, a list of which Liberal MP's were supporters of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and of his chief rival, former finance minister Paul Martin caused an uproar within the Liberal ranks. MPs were scrambling to get themselves on the record as supporting whichever candidate suited their political aspirations.

Now, Mr. Persichilli has done some more research on which Cabinet ministers are supporting which leadership contenders. Take a wild guess as to who's got the most support.
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Tuesday, September 24, 2002

There's that other federal leadership race...

A new site has popped up for all those of you who just can't get enough of the Tory leadership race. All seventeen of you.

Ths might ring a bell among the other readers; might you recall that current Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark said that he'd leave his position next yerar. Good. There.

I must say that some of the names of putative candidates surprise me. Honestly, does anyone outside of West Vancouver even remember Mary Collins (MP from '84 to '93) or, for that matter, does anyone really think that Romeo Dallaire even cares a bit about becoming Tory leader?

As for Perrin Beatty -- why would he bother? He's dobtless earning more as the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters' chief media whore. Why bother to re-enter the rat race?

But, if buzz and gossip about the Tory leadership race (only sightly more visible than the NDP one) are your thing, check it out.

In a related item, there's a 'Draft Bernie Lord' site being run by some Tories who think that they young New Brunswick premier is the man who can revitalize that august party.
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Chrétien's new deal for cities

The Toronto Star's Tim Harper is reporting that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is set to announce stable, long-tern funding for urban transportation and infrastructure in the next week. Previously, urban funding initiatives were given out on a "one-off" basis, which made it impossible for cities to plan for any contributions from the federal government in their planning.

The specifics of the programs will come from Chrétien when he addresses the Commons after the speech, and dollar figures will be fleshed out in the run-up to Finance Minister John Manley's first budget, likely next February.

"We think we are making a strong and clear commitment to Canada's cities," one source said.

But that commitment will not include any "new deal" for cities that would change constitutional arrangements to allow cities portions of federal tax revenues or tax points, or give them expanded taxing powers.

And there's the rub. Liberal leaded-in-waiting Paul Martin has advocated more powers for cities to claim federal tax points, and for pressure on the provincial governments to give local governments more taxing and spending powers, and to give those local governments the legal authority to deide their own affairs. NDP leadership hopeful Jack Layton, who happens to be a former president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, has called for something similar. Increaing the authority of cities, where 80% of all Canadians live (as opposed to 20% at the time Canada was founded.) will be a continuing issue in Canadian politics for many years to come. Will the Prime Ministers plans do anything to address this?
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Monday, September 23, 2002

Harper steps in it

Could the Canadian Alliance have traded one leader with a subsceptibility to foot-in-mouth disease for another? It seems so. Eric Duhaime, who was press secretary to former leader Stockwell Day, has called for an apology after Harper referred to Alliance staffers who came over from other parties as "castoffs, retreads and traitors."

This seems a little divisive; a lot of Alliance staffers came over from other parties, including strategist Rick Anderson, a former Liberal who played a large part in the old Reform Party's growth in the 1990s.

Mr. Harper political staffers in a speech that he would hire people into his office from the ranks of long-time Alliance and Reform supporters, rather than "castoffs, retreads and traitors" from other parties.

"By attacking us, he's also attacking all the voters that came from other parties" in the 2000 election, said one staffer who started out working for another party.

Harper's loose lips have also put him in trouble this month when he accused the polling firm Ipsos-Reid of being biased towards the Liberals, saying that "Liberal pollsters get Liberal results." There's a problem with Harper's accusation -- Ipsos isn't the Liberals' pollster; it's Michael Marzolini of Pollara. Ipsos threatened to sue Harper, claiming that he was damaging Ipsos' reputation.

Harper retracted his statement earlier this week.
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Harper also got into hot water in Atlantic Canada earlier this year when he accused Maritimers of being "defeatist" and claiming that a "can't-do attitude" pervaded the region. Harper claimed that he was criticizing the federal government's policy towards the region, blaming the federal government's regional-development schemes for the region's woes.

Of course, the message was received rather differently; it was seen as a giant slap in the face. Maritimers of all stripes condemned Harper's remarks.

Or, as the joke goes, "Harper might not be able to unite the Right, but he sure can unite Maritimers."

However, Harper's potential problems go further. Prior to his election as Alliance leader this year, Stephen Harper was the president of the National Citizens' Coalition, a very conservative advocacy group. He was a public man during this time, making many speeches and contributed many opinion pieces to various publications during his tenure at the NCC.

Those speeches and articles are part of the public record, and therefore fair game for his critics. His writings show an adherence to a rigid brand of conservatism that has not yet proved popular at the federal level in Canada. It's true that some of the ideas that he contributed to the old Reform Party were implemented by the Liberals in the 1990's, but they were scarcely recognizable to a true-blue Reformer. They were "kinder and gentler" or, if you prefer, "wetter."

Now, Harper's critics can paint him as vengeful and intolerant as well as being a rigid ideologue whose vision of Canada is supported by only a small minority of Canadians.

Great Right Hope? Maybe not.

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Police threaten media with charges

Vancouver Police are deciding whether or not to recommend that the Crown lay charges against reporters and photographers who were covering the eviction of squatters in the former Woodward's building.

The official line from Police Chief Jamie Graham is that some reporters may have been interfering with police operations.

On the other hand, Langara College journalism instructor Gerry Porter says police are trying to intimidate the media.

"I think police are saying, ' Look, we want to tell you where you can go and what you can do, and we're going to make your life difficult if you don't learn from this episode'," says Porter.

In short: the police are really trying to avoid the possibility of embarrassing media coverage by trying to tell the media what they can and can't report. If the local media have a spine, they'll stand up to these tactics from our city's "finest."
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The Swiss city of Berne's bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics has been dealt a serious blow; residents have rejected the idea of pumping US$15 million of city money into the bid. This rejection will likely mean that the Berne bid will be withdrawn, leaving only Vancouver, Salzburg, and Pyeongchang, South Korea in the running for the 2010 Games.

Will BC dare a referendum on the Vancouver/Whistler bid?

COPE mayoral candidate Larry Campbell has said that he would ask council to hold a referendum in Vancouver after the bid book is released in January. The referendum would take place sometime between the release of the bid book and the actual IOC vote.

Larry Campbell has also said that he would like to have this referendum be a province-wide affair if the provincial government would co-operate. If not, he might ask surrounding communities to hold a referendum at the same time that Vancouver would hold its one.

Of course, all this is contingent on the next Vancouver city council being in favour of holding a referendum on the Olympic question; needless to say, this is nowhere near certain. Also, it's unclear how such a referendum would be able to legally compel the bid committee to withdraw its bid. News of a "No" or "Yes" vote would certainly make its way to the IOC and would, of course, affect the delegates' votes.

There are a lot of questions about how a referendum would be phrased, and just what it would be that Vancouverites would be voting for or against. Nonetheless, it's an interesting challenge that Larry Campbell has given his political rivals in Vancouver, and to one Gordon Campbell who is himself acquainted with the idea of a referendum.
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Sunday, September 22, 2002

SPD holds on in razor-thin election

Germany's Social Democrats look to have barely survived Sunday's German election. The fact that they've done so is a minor miracle; two months ago, the Christian Democrats, led by Edmund Stoiber, lloked to have a lock on the 2002 election.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's skillful response to this year's floods, among the worst in recent memory, combined with his anti-war against Iraq stance were integral to closing the gap to the Christian Dems.

The Social Democrats' traditional coalition with the Greens will give them a three-seat majority in parliament.

Also from Times Online: Stoiber fails to force seismic shift to Centre Right
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Friday, September 20, 2002

Beefed-up acetaminophen warning urged

Seems that a bunch of people have overdosed on the pain reliever commonly known as Tylenol, with resulting liver damage. Okay, then. The maximium daily dose of the stuff is 4,000 milligrams, or about 12 regular-strength pills. Frankly, if your pain's so nasty that that much Tylenol isn't giving you the relief you need, then you deserve to get some stronger drugs...
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Rosie Di Manno pontificates on the questions of covering and criticizing American foreign policy. She can't come to any conclusion; neither can a lot of others, and that's fine with me.
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Just one more shot for Jean Chrétien?

It could be, in a way. Finance Minister John Manley indicates that there may only be one more budget as apporved by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. A lot of this has to do with the timing of upcoming of the federal budgets and Mr. Chrétien's retirement date. Federal budgets have traditionally been delivered in February, but the 2000 mini-budget and 2001 budget have been announced late in the year; Chrétien will retire from the Prime Minister's Office in February, 2004.

Manley also indicated that he would resign as finance minister is asked to deliver a deficit budget, barring disaster or major recession; heès unwilling to pay the political price that a deficit budget entails.
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Christy Clark comes up with an intelligent proposal!

Okay, it was most likely not her who did come up with this one, but the B.C. education minister is on to a good idea with making physical education mandatory for grades 11 and 12. Currently, students are only required to participate in physical education until grade 10. And, unlike grade-school phys-ed, high school classes are more than just Torture By Dodgeball(tm.)

Sure, there's some blab about "lifestyle education" here, but I don't suspect that the students will tune in; they already know that smoking and fatty foods are bad for you, but they STILL think that they're immortal. I oughta know -- it wasn't too long ago that I was an immortal high-school senior! Nonetheless, another few hours of physical activity as week won't hurt the kids, that's for sure!

Odd to see that the teachers' federation is opposed, though. I wonder what phys-ed teachers think, though?
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Chantal Hébert on why the PM is ceding early ground in the PR war over Kyoto.
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Down but not out, Europe's left begins a comeback

No kidding eh? Well it could be true -- German chancellor Gerhard Schroder has been closing the gap between his Social Democrats and former frunt-runner Edmund Stoiber's Christian Democrats, thanks his impressive response to the floods earlier this year and his anti-war stance.

Sure, the trend has been towards the right in Europe over the last three years; the LibDems in Denmark, cohabitation in France coming to an end, the rise of Silvio Berlusconi. However, what comes up must go down and all that jazz...
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Thursday, September 19, 2002

Globe and Mail columnist John Barber explains why the Eastern Bastards of Toronto are in favour of implementing the Kyoto Agreement -- it's good business.

Unfortunately for Alberta, there are a million-and-a-half more people in Toronto alone than in Alberta. Doesn't democracy suck?
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The Canadian Police Association might have a harde-line approach to drugs, but, locally Inspector Kash Heed, head of Vancouver's drug squad says that finding ways to prevent and treat drug addiction are preferswble to arresting and incarcerating drug users.

A nice little bit of reason fron the Vancouver Police Department.
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Civic political stuff.

I was down at COPE's nomination meeting last night at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver; an interesing affair. The left-leaning civic party is in high spirits; the buzz among the party faithful was that for the first time in a decade, the ruling civic Non-Partisan Association is vulnerable for the first time in a decade.

Larry Campbell was acclaimed as the slate's mayoral candidate; the former chief coroner's acceptance speech was interrupted by a standing ovation that lasted for at least twenty seconds. COPE has been aggressively promoting their star candidate; party banners read "Larry Campbell and COPE." Media consultant and Georgia Straight columnist Bill Tieleman describes Campbell as a "cross-cleavage" candidate who appeals to parts of the political spectrum beyong COPE''s traditional left-wing and labour support.

COPE's 2002 civic nominees:


Larry Campbell

City Council

Fred Bass (incumbent)
David Cadman
Jim Green
Raymond Louie
Tim Louis (incumbent)
Anne Roberts
Tim Stevenson
Ellen Woodsworth

A recount was needed for the council nominations; Bass, Green, Cadman, and Louis were the highest vote-getters.

School Board

Allen Blakey (incumbent)
Jane Bouey
Noel Herron
Angela Kenyon
Kevin Milsip
Adrienne Montani (incumbent)
Allan Wong (incumbent)

Park Board

Heather Deal
Lyndsay Poaps
Eva Riccius
Anita Romaniuk
Loretta Woodcock

CKNW radio report on the meeting
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Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Heavenly crudwagon, man

I've been up to my ass in alligators lately, so I haven't had the inclination to update this thing on a daily basis.

Should have some things today sometime; at the very least, I'll be covering the COPE party's nomination meeting for another publication tomorrow, so you'll get a sketch of the proceedings on this page late tomorrow.

In the meantime, check out the fine links in the sidebar, or...

Retired U.S. Gen Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, explains why international alliances are necessary to win the "war on global terrorism," and why they are not, as some think, a hindrance.

Clark's new book, Waging Modern War should be equally required reading for those who shrill against the idea of international co-operation in military campaigns. Although focussing initially on the NATO mission in Kosovo, Clark's book expands its views to future campaigns, and offers suggestions on how to deal with the adversaries and conditions of modern-day conflict. Still a timely read.
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Monday, September 16, 2002

NPA calls COPE's online education gripe site 'negative strategy'

God forbid that there be such a thing as negative campaigning in civic politics!

Okay, so the civic party that is in a minority position on the city school board is running a web site that allows citizens to list their complaints about the NPA-dominated board's decisions. Where's the smear? It seems like politics as usual.

And, despite what the name might suggest, the Non-Partisan Association of Vancouver is as partsan as any political organization.

A quick note on 'negative' campaign tactics: voters always tell pollsters that they don't like campaigns that point out the opponents' flaws. However, voters often respond to the negative campaigns in the desired manner -- think of the Willie Horton ads of George H.W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign or Jesse Helms's "White Hands" television ad that attacked affirmative action by appealing to the "you were more qualified, but you didn't get hired because you're white" line of 'reasoning.'

What didn't work in Canada was the 1993 Tory ads that drew attention to Jean Chrétien's facial palsy, or the 1997 Reform ads attacking French-Canadian leaders. You don't attack others over things which they can't control: it'll backfire almost every time.
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Nanotubes could reduce CO2 emissions

A team led by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University said Monday that carbon nanotubes, which are straw-like structures with walls a single atom thick, could filter gases much more quickly than current systems.

And let me assure you that I couldn't even begin to explain to you how these things work -- way over my head.

Here's what's for sure: if these nanotubes could delivber anywhere near what their developers are promising, then compaies which can mass-produce emissions control systems based on them are going to do very well indeed, especially with the new realities of the Kyoto treaty coming into effect in most of the advanced industrial nations.

Remember, this greenhouse-gas restricted future is an opportunity for the right business; it's the dinosaur industries that have to worry.
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Sunday, September 15, 2002

The Elites are Revolting!

A look at how some very high mucky-mucks are bucking their own party line on two of the raging American political debates. By Robert Kuttner:

Isn't this lovely? [former Bush 41 Secretary of State James] Baker and [former Bush 41 national security advisor Brent] Scowcroft as brakes on war hysteria; [Alan] Greenspan and [former Fed chairman Paul] Volcker as scourges of corporate corruption. But something is very wrong with this picture. It is entirely an elite debate and a narrow one. What's missing are real dissent and real reform. Anybody who expects dissent and reform to emerge from the very citadels of the system misunderstands the nature of power.

Nonetheless, with the way recent events have unfolded in the 'States, any dissent, even from the elite, is welcome, I'd say.
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Saturday, September 14, 2002

Marcus Gee doesn't get it (again.)

Not that I should expect much from the Globe and Mail's hawkish foreign-affairs columnist. However, he must be corrected about his rant against Jean Chrétien's comments about global inequity.

Gee claims that Chrétien is playing the "blame the victim" game. Rubbish. In no way did his comments place ANY of the blame for the outrages of September 11, 2001 upon the United States of America! The Prime Minister did surmise this:

"You cannot exercise your powers to the point of humiliation for the others. That is what the Western world -- not only the Americans, the Western world -- has to realize. Because they (those in the third world) are human beings, too. There are long-term consequences . . ."

And how can anyone say that this is blaming America for the terrorist attacks? It's not. As best I can tell, Jean Chrétien is saying that there are consequences to exercising power improperly. Like famine. Or disease. Or the unrealized potential of great swaths of humanity. Or difficulties in future negotiations with those countries who have been poorly treated in the past.

The Prime Minster was saying that Western leaders should look at the consequences of their dealings ten, twenty, or thirty years down the road.
He said that the occasion of September 11th, 2001 made him realize that the powerful must do a better job in their dealings with the rest of the world. Yes, it's perhaps not the most appropriate stimulus to make him conteplate the Western world's relations with the rest of the world. However, it was just that -- something that got him thinking; not to blame America for the outrages of 9-11, but about something different, but still important.

Chrétien was, if you look at the interview with Peter Mansbridge in context, describing the thing about which he thought in the aftermath of September 11. Is it unacceptable to think of other things that are not directly tied to the attack, but may have been pushed towards the front of mind in the aftermath of it?

Well, to one who sees any comments about how the Western world should do a better job in its dealings as "blaming the victim," maybe. But to many people, it's not. It is possible for the Prime Minister (even this one) to walk and chew gum at the same time. If you can't separate Chrétien's comments in his interview with Mansbridge from his reaction to 9-11, and the steps that the government has taken since that fateful day, then perhaps you should give your head a shake.

So should Marcus Gee.

Watch the Prime Minister's remarks on Real Video from
posted at 13:20 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Haroon Siddiqui contemplates the difference in Canadians' and Americans' views of September 11, 2001, the possible attack on Iraq, and other things... and the disturbing similarity between the tone of the coverage between Canadian outlets (and one in particular) and American ones, despite the differences in perspective.
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Chretien, successor to overlap by several months

The Liberla Party's decision to hold a leadership convention to replace retiring leader Jean Chrétien in Novermber or December 2003 will mean that, for possibly the first time in Candian political history, there will be a transition period of two or three months between Prime Ministers.

However, expect to see the successor to Jean Chrétien use the time between the 2003 convention and Chrétien's February, 2004 retirement date to instyall his or her people into the right positions in the Liberal party apparatus, and to get their political staff prepared to take over the Prime Minister's Office without skipping a beat.
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Down Under's on top

Globe and Mail national-affairs columnist Jeffrey Simpson describes the way Australia elects its government.

This is good reading for those Canadians who are frustrated at our electoral system, Parliament, and everything else, who are looking for ways to change the system. It's especially interesting to note how they pick their Senators (proportional representation) and Representatives (preferential ballot.) The added bonus is that every Representative has to be acceptable to at least one-half of the voters in the constituency; if not the first choice, then a second or third choice.

Read Up.
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Jane Taber's Ottawa Notebook for the week just ended.


:: Jean Chrétien passes his driving test in anticipation of his evenual retirement. As is common with heads of government, the protective services will not let the PM drive on public roads.

:: Liberal leadership convention set for late 2003.

:: Who's hot, Who's not.

A quick note: The Vancouver Scrum had more unique visitors yesterday (September 13, 2002) than it has had on any other day since its creation in late July!

Thank you very much!
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Friday, September 13, 2002


Chris Taylor's Daily Blah finds an example of American exceptionalism at its most, well, uh, exceptional.

American exceptionalism: America is the greatest in all areas. Everything is irrelevant until America discovers it. Once America experiences someting, then it exists. Somehow, things being American just give them a greater intrinsic value. It's wrapped up in with isolationism and jingoism, and is part of the stereotype that the rest of the world has about the Ugly American. Etc etc etc.

Don't get me wrong, America is a great land... but there's more than one great country in this world. I ind of like Canada, myself. Then again, I live here. Many Americans do their damndest to disprove the Ugly American stereotype. Good for them -- unfortunately, they can't help their fellows.

Check out the Daily Blah for his thoughts... and check back there semi-regularly. It may be the key to your success as a human being.
posted at 20:28 — new improved comments — 0 so far
This guy may be for real.

Vancouver Sun reporter Frances Bula writes that newly-minted Vancouver mayoral candidate Larry Campbell is indeed a serious, credible option for Vancouver voters, despite the protestations of rival Jennifer Clarke.

Clarke says that Larry Campbell is a one-issue candidate; some Non-Partsan Association strategists, claiming that the NPA has the same stance on drug tratment as Campbell, claim that he's a zero-issue candidate.

Not so fast, according to longtime federal and provincial Liberal party activist May Brown, who was a councillor with the original TEAM party during its heyday in the 1970's. UBC political science professor Paul Tennant, a small-c conservative, agrees, and notes that Campbell is a fine choice to present a modeate image for the left-leanming COPE party.

So too, do say former Vancouver mayors Art Phillips and Mike Harcourt. Jonathan Baker, a former NPA councillor, who split from the party ten years ago, thinks that Larry Campbell is a candidate with enough pull to win, which would be a first for COPE.

Although Mike Harcourt was associated in the minds of many with the left-leaning civic party, he never was a member; he ran for mayor and won as an independent. In some of the years that Harcourt ran, COPE didn't nominate a mayoral candidate.

Another related story from the Sun about the new Vancouver Civic Action Team's (vcaTEAM or TEAM) nomination meeting on September 12th can be found here.

COPE will hold its nomination meeting on September 18th, with the NPA picking its slate of council, school board, and parks board candidates on October 2nd.
posted at 20:03 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Vancouver mayoral candidates agree on something!

(besides that they'd really like their respective posteriors in the Mayor's chair, that is.)

NPA mayoral wannabe Jennifer Clarke, vcaTEAM nominee Valerie MacLean, and COPE golden boy Larry Campbell do at least agree that there should be an inquiry into the police's handling of the disappearnce of over 50 women from the Downtown Eastside over the last twenty years. They all also agree that the inquiry should happen after the criminal invesigations have wrapped up.

Beyond that, there are differences. Clarke seems reticent about the potential costs of an inquiry. MacLean wants answers at any cost, and Campbell has long been a proponent of an inquiry of the police's handling of the missing women. This may yet be an issue in the upcoming campaign.
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Vancouver Courier scribbler Allen Garr reports on the Non-Partisan-Association dominated Vancouver School Board's attempt ot hedge against a possible drubbing in this November's civic election.

The board is attempting to reach beyond the grave of possible electoral defeat nine weeks from now and appoint a new school superintendent. Yowch! So, they can leave their successors with a replacement who might well be hand-picked to antagonize the future board. I hope that I'm not the only one who smells something funny.

Advice: Appoint an interim replacement and let the new board do the hiring one they're sworn in in about two-and-a-half months.
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Crown won't appeal Clark's acquittal

No great surprise here; the judgment in HMTQ v. Pilarinos and Clark left little room for appeal, and the Crown prosecutors decided that there were no reasonable grounds for appeal on questions of law.

The assistant deputy Attorney Genreal of B.C., Robert Gillen has agreed with the decision of special prosecutor Bill Smart not to appeal.

Now, the story might finally die.
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Last flight of the Labrador

The marine rescue chopper of choixe since 1964 has now retired from service on the West Coast. The new Cormorant will be the number one heavy-lift search and rescue chopper on Canada's pacific coast -- and the new machine is a real beauty.

However, one old Lab will be kept at CFB Comox -- as a museum piece.
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Blah Blah Blah

ABC News anchor Peter Jennings has just had a look at excerpts of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's controversial remarks that the wealth gap between the Western and Third World, along with the West's "use of power to humiliate" had some realtion to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

See the video of Jean Chrétien. (realVideo)

Jennings was caught at unawares by a caller on CNN's Larry King Live who brought up the topic, decribing the Prime Minister as having said that "American brought the attacks upon herself." Jennings was shocked; and he said that he couldn't believe that the Prime Minister, any Canadian Prime Minister, could say such a thing.

Later in the broadcast, Jennings saw excepts from the Chrétien interview, and said that he did not believe that Chrétien blamed the U.S. for the attacks of September 11. He than added that it was up to each person to interpret the remarks for his or herself. The caller who asked Jennings about the comments admitted to hearing about it on FOX News, a news outlet known for biased reporting and for promoting a conservative agenda.

One can only imagine how Fox News reported it... like the blowhard Bill O'Reilly's comments.

Hey, O'Reilly: Chrétien is not a socialist. He may be to the left of the American mainstream, but he's only a socialist compared to Attila the Hun.

The real deal on what the Prime Minister said? Get it from a reliable news source like the Globe and Mail or CNN (from Reuters.)
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The New Republic's editors wonder what useful contribution the Democratic legislators have made to the debate over whether the U.S. should attack Iraq.
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Thursday, September 12, 2002

Florida Again!

Florida Democrats await race results - September 12, 2002

The voting procedires in Miami-Dade and Broward counties hace one again embarassed Florida and seem to indicate that the reforms brought in after the 2000 debacle weren't enough.

A hint: Use the paper ballot. Sure it's seemingly slow and inefficient, and you might actually have to pay people to work at the polls (the horror!) It's worth it, though. The administration of elections is one thing that cost-cutting governments at all levels should not shkimp on.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2002

The Onion asks What Do You Think?

about the possibility of legalizing pot in Canada.
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Resilient U.S. sideswiped by fraud

Mathew Ingram opines that the recent wave of business fraud has done far more damage to the American economy than did the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The fact that the financial centre of the country was able to recover so quickly from the attacks, and the fact that the economy as a whole — companies, investors and consumers — was able to recover so quickly is a testament to the resilience of the United States and its citizens. But unfortunately, once they got over the horror of that event, they were confronted with the reality of a still weakening economy, compounded by a series of frauds and allegations of mismanagement on a truly vast scale.

It's still no comfort to the unemployed, or those whose portfolio is a fraction of its value two or three years ago.
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Another one for the Europhobes

Some people say that the British are allergic to the Euro. Apparently, it's not just people in the UK... dermatitis knows no nationality!

Scientists have discovered that the Euro coins are more likely to cause allergic reactions than the currencies they replaced.

This is due to extra nickel in some Euro coins leaching out into the skin -- nickel is a known ittitant. Wonder if Britons who are forcefully against Britain adopting the Euro in favour of the pund will dig this one up?
posted at 21:54 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Police union chief calling it quits

Controversial Toronto Police Association boss Craig Bromell has announced that he'll be leaving his post when his term expires in October 2003.

Au revoir.

During his tenure, Bromell was known for vicious attacks on the police board and senior command. His charges of gross incompetence and mismanagement were levelled in such a fierce manner that those he criticized were barely able to respond. He was intensely political; city councilllors not seen as being sufficiently "pro-police" could expect to see an ad encouraging citizens to complain by calling the councillors at their home numbers. Lobbying offficials over far more than just wages and working conditions became standard fare, too.

Bromell's conduct as a police officer was also suspect.

(from the Toronto Star)

On the morning of Jan. 26, 1995, it was Bromell who told police brass that 51 Division's 50 officers wouldn't hit the streets that day. The one-day work stoppage protested the reopening of a probe into the police takedown of City-tv reporter Dwight Drummond.

Two officers had arrested Drummond and a friend at gunpoint while seeking shooting suspects described as being black and driving a blue car.
The men were released after their identification was checked, but later launched a police complaint. No charges were laid under the Police Services Act, but the case was being reopened and Bromell was enraged.

But that's not all:

A year later, Bromell would again be in the spotlight, this time as part of a group dubbed the 51/9. It was alleged that Bromell and eight other 51 Division officers took a petty criminal, Thomas Kerr, to a parking lot near Cherry Beach and beat him in retaliation for resisting arrest weeks before.

A civil suit by Kerr is pending.

A fund-raising campaign in 2000 known as "True Blue" was also controversial. Ostensibly, the aim of the fund-raising was to assist the union's advocacy and lobbying work, among other things. However, it was charged that the money was being used to fund investigations into Bromell's opponents' lives. There was also the question of whether a motorist with a "True Blue" decal in the windshield might be subject to preferential treatment.

Bromell even took on the then-newly appointed police chief after internal investigations by the new police brass resulted in dozens of charges against drug squad cops.

However, Bromell's attempt to knock off the new sheriff failed, and from then on, Bromell's position has continued to weaken. He was successful in negotiating a generous new contract for the city's police, but he has not been able to attack the police board and brass with the same impunity that he could in the late 1990s.
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Izzy exaggerates again

Rioting protesters in Montreal who stopped former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at Concordia University are like "Adolf Hitler and his Brown Shirts," CanWest Global chairman Israel Asper said yesterday.

Let's see here... the Brown Shirts were a paramilitary arm of a major political party and government. This was a handful of thugs with no governmental, and little popular, support. Get off it, Izzy. They were out of line, but to compare them to Nazi thugs is ridiculous; one could only wish that the SS were so benign.

Unless, of course, Asper likes to compare all those who dare criticize the State of Israel to Naziism; a thought that's crossed my mind in the past. Criticizing Israel over anything seems to be near enough to a firing offence in his organization, which controls one of the three Canadian television networks and 60% of the newspaper circulation in Canada.

Incidentally, Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his presence in New York today was nothing more than that of a private citizen paying his respects. As usual, when a politician says someting, it means different -- Bibi's been gunning for that softie Ariel Sharon's job for over a year now. Of course there's a political meaning to all this. Who is Netanyahu trying to kid here?
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What I'm (not) doing today

Keeping the TV turned off; much of today's coverage of the anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 will be maudlin pap.

Not really posting anything to this site about the anniversary of the attacks; virtually all that needs be said about the attacks has either been said before today, or will come out after today. Today, while a day for remembrace, is unlikely to be a day when great knowledge of the circumstances of the ourageous acts will come to light.

Otherwise, doing what happens for me most Wednesdays.

Need a grief fix? Get it from the CBC, CTV, CNN, ABC, the BBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, or someplace else.
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Les droits et le droit!

Pierre Bourque reports that the Province of Québec has finally legalized right-hand turns on red lights. Wow. I wonder how much fine revenue this will cost the province; thousands of tickets are issued every year to the têtes carrés who are unaware that right tuns on a red (at least until now) are illegal.

Technical Note

The main Vancouver Scrum page will now display posts from the last nine days; previously, two weeks' posts were available on the main page. For older articles, please check the "Archives" on the left-hand side of the page. This change was done in deference to those with slower Internet connections; hopefully the Scrum will serve you more quickly. Feedback is warmly welcomed.
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Monday, September 09, 2002

Know your Campbells

Listen up class, this one's important. There are a large number of very public Campbells, and it behooves you to know the difference. Well, we at The Vancouver Scrum understand your needs, and we aim to please! So, we present you with the Scrum's guide to the city's Campbells.

Gordon Campbell. Current premier of British Columbia. Leader of the Official Opposition, 1993-2001. Mayor of Vancouver, 1986-1993. Loved by some in the province, hated by others. Tends to respond to reporters' questions without actually answering them, or saying what he really thinks. Want to know what's really on the mind of the premier? Check out...

Michael Campbell. Brother of the premier. Business commentator for the Vancouver Sun and CKNW radio. Known for his free-market fundamentalist views and his ad hominem attacks on those who have the temerity to disagree with him. In the world of Mike Campbell, there's nothing that can't be solved by cutting taxes, getting rid of environmental standards, deregulating everything, scrapping employment standards, and making life worse for the poor because they need to learn that being poor is bad (never mind that the poor might actually not want to be in their current state.)

Larry Campbell
. Not related to the brothers Campbell by blood or politics. Vancouver mayoral candidate. Former chief coroner of British Columbia. Part-time screenwriter for the TV series Da Vinci's Inquest. Unlike the fictional Dominic Da Vinci, played by Nicholas Campbell, Larry Campbell is still happily married.

Tom Campbell. Former Vancouver Mayor (1966-72) who was best known for wanting to round up all the hippies and ship them off to a detention centre. Not related to any of these other Campbells, but was part of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) that Gordon Campbell would later join.

The Gastown Riots of 1971 occurred under Campbell's watch; for more information see the complete history of cannabis in Canada.

Many observers think that Tom Campbell's commitment to keeping Vancouver quiet and bland is still being followed at City Hall today.
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Vern Campbell. Vancouver city council hopeful for the right-wing Non-Partisan Association, the former party of Gordon Campbell. Former police officer. Has a campaign platform of little but platitudes that are reputed to conceal a bog-standard conservative agenda. Is backed by many members of the city establishment, and the Chinese Freemasons.

Vance Campbell. Vice president of the Granville Entertainment Group, which owns the Vogue Theatre, and the Roxy, among other downtown Vancouver night spots. Tireless crusader for looser laws on the sale of alcohol, and equally tireless warrior against anti-smoking laws. He had been rumoured tobe contemplating a run for civic office himself, but has said that he won't. However, he and his associates will be active in the fall campaign, supporting candidates who are less puritanical that the current city council. Can anyone say... vcaTEAM?

Nicholas Campbell. Canadian actor, currently living in Vancouver and starring in CBC television drama Da Vinci's Inquest. Plays a crusading coroner in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a character loosely based on Larry Campbell. Loves horse racing, owns some horses, can be found down at Hastings Park Racecourse most days during the racing season.

Murray Campbell. Journalist; currently writing a column on Ontario politics for the Globe and Mail. Although he seems irrelevant to this list, the recent political history of Ontario is applicable to B.C., as Gordon Campbell is thought by many to be akin to former Ontario premier Mike Harris, who, like Harris, was also confrontational and polarizing.

Corrections and additions are most welcome. Send them in!
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Mayoral machinations

Allen Garr is back, and this week he reports on how the deal to have former chief coroner Larry Campbell to run for the mayor under the Coalition of Progressive Electors' slate was actaully struck three weeks ago in a pub near the Vancouver airport.

With Campbell in the mayor's race, this will likely be the most exciting civic election in 15 years, when the ruling Non-Partisan Association(NPA) gained its uninterrupted hold on city council.

The left-leaning COPE will likely field its most impressive slate of candiates in years, with incumbent councillors Tim Louis and Fred Bass running again, along with prominent environmentalist David Cadman and longtime community activist Jim Green entering the race; Cadman and Green are both former COPE mayoral candidates. Former Vancouver-Burrard MLA Tim Stevenson will also seek a seat, as will Burrardview Residents' Association president Shane Simpson.

Meanwhile, the newly-formed Vancouver Civic Action Team (vcaTEAM) will run Better Business Bureau regional manager Valerie MacLean for mayor, giving the newly-formed centrist party likely the most well-recognized candidate for mayor. The centrist party was formed earlier this year by former NPA members who were displeased with the establishment party's increasingly right-wing tilt. The vcaTEAM founders, Art Cowie, Nancy Chiavaro, and Alan Herbert, were also openly critical of the NPA's treatment of now-outgoing Mayor Philip Owen, whose courageous approach to drug treatment in the downtown eastside won him praise from the community -- and scorn from his own party.

The NPA's handling of the Owen affair has cost them support from reliable areas; former provincial cabinet minister and Vancouver blueblood Stephen Rogers has said that he will seek a council nomination with vcaTEAM. This, from a man who, by conventional wisdom, would be tightly allied to the NPA.

Garr writes:
This is the biggest split on the right in 30 years. The last time TEAM emerged, the NPA was buried

It could happen again.

The post below is a half-broken draft of what you've just read. I'd get rid of it, but Blogger's being bitchy right now; just scroll down to digest the other tasty Scrummings.
posted at 19:35 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Mayoral machinations

Allen Garr is back, and this week hereports on how the deal to have former chief coroner Larry Campbell to run for the mayor under the Coalition of Progressive Electors' slate was actaully struck three weeks ago in a pub near the Vancouver airport.

With Campbell in the mayor's race, this will likely be the most exciting civic election in 15 years, when the ruling Non-Partisan association gained its uninterrupted hold on city council.

The left-leaning COPE will likely field its most impressive slate of candiates in years, with incumben councillors Tim Louis and Fed Bass running again, along with prominent environmentalist David Cadmen and longtime community activist Jim Green entering the race; Cadman and Green are both former COPE mayoral candidates. Former NDP MLA Tim Stephens will also seek a seat, as will Burrardview Residents' Association president Shane Simpson.

Meanwhile, the newly-formed
posted at 19:11 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Emily's List Hissed
from The American Prospect

More on why the PAC that backs pro-choice Democratic women in primaries and election is causing friction among their fellow progressives and Democrats.

Hint to Emily's List: Don't sacrifice the good (a solid effective Democrat like John Dingell) for the "perfect" candidate. Save your resources for the fights where your choices won't damage the Democratic war chests, and use your limted means for knocking off the "evil GOP bastards." A member of congress who isn't totally pro-choice is a helluvalot better than a Republican who's totally pro-life.

Not to mention this: The GOP has far more access to funds than the Dems; it is necessary to not blow your resources trying to defeat your own!
posted at 18:54 — new improved comments — 0 so far
U.S. election watch

In N.H, GOP Is Torn Between 2 Senate Hopefuls

Coverage of the brawl between incumbent Sen. Bob Smith and challenger John E. Sununu (son of the ex-NH governor and GHW Bush chief of staff) for the state GOP's Senate nomination. The vote is tomorrow.

Smaith has been a controversial figure, and some state Republicans are worried that he would lose in November 2002 to poular Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, the lone Democratic candidate for the Senate Seat. With the Senate currently at 50-49-1, every close race is of the utmost importance.

Mark Shields' analysis on what could be the first time that an incumbent Senator has been defeated in a primary in ten years.

More from the Associated Press.

Tomorrow will also be a big day in Florida, with Janet Reno facing off against Bill McBride in the state Democrats' gunbernatorial primary. There will also be primaries in nine other states and DC.

Political junkes, rejoice!
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Federal Liberal party machinations

The management committee of the Liberal Party of Canada's executive has decided that a convention to pick the successor to Jean Chrétien should happen in late fall 2003. This means that the successor will be chosen at least two months before Chrétien's announced retirement in Fevruary 2004.

"The management committee just made a unanimous resolution that the leadership convention be held, at a city still to be determined, between November 4 and December 6, 2003," national executive president Stephen LeDrew said outside an Ottawa hotel meeting room.

Liberal caucus chair Stan Keyes, a well-known loyalist of likely leadership successor Paul Martin, has indicated that the Liberal caucus is satisfied with the convention date, and that he will respect the Prime Minister's desire to stay on until early 2004.

Why the early convention date? There were concerns about the feasability (or the desirability) of holding a convention in Ottawa in January or February. The weather's not pleasant to many people. Many organizers also indiacted that they did not want to campaign over the Christmas holiday season, and would prefer the campaign be over before then. Also, Paul Martin suppoerters, who had originally wanted an early convention and leadership handover. Now, they don't need to campaign for 18 months -- more like 14 at most. Finally, it will allow hte leader-elect to install his or her people in the Liberal machine sooner, allowing them to work as part of the leadership for a longer time before a likely election in late fall 2004.

Coverage from:

The Toronto Star
Globe and Mail
posted at 01:55 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Updates to the Vancouver Scrum

On Friday (September 7th) I finally knucked down and cleaned up the template for this blog. Hope you like it.


Fonts are more consistent than previously

Annoying paragraph-breaks in upper-left cell removed

Some redundant HTML code removed in deference to those with slow connections -- I'm considering reducing the number of posts on the front page to 7 days. Please e-mail me with your comments for or against this. Thanks.

Added links to interesting sites including the Angry Liberal, the New Hamphshire Gazette, Mapleleafweb, the Daily Blah, and others. You got something good, or do you think that I'm missing something? Tell me about it.

Set up a section of links to pollsters in the lower left-hand (maroon) cell of the page. Most of these sites have a fair number of publicly released polls. Have fun.

Future plans:

New template (sometime)

Archive of my commentary pieces in a more appropriate (non-blogged) format.

Getting a life.
posted at 01:29 — new improved comments — 0 so far
B.C. job stats: who's right?

Okay, the claim is that there have been 16,000 new jobs in B.C. since July. So where are they, and what sort of jobs are they? Credit Union Central of B.C. economist Helmut Pastrick suggests that the numbers may not be so rosy owing to the less accurate nature of the survey that showed the job increase.

Needless to say, it'd be nice if the figures are true. I supppose that if you're a BC Liberal supporter, you really hope that they're true.
posted at 00:56 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Quebec Separatists Vow Flexibility on Referendum


Maybe I shouldn't protest too much; the odds of the Parti Québecois winning the next provincial election are about the same as those of me scoring with Britney Spears.
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Sunday, September 08, 2002

Top Canada Leadership Contenders Could Quit-Sources

Reuters' David Ljunggren is reporting that the long-term future of both Induatry Minister Allan Rock and Finance Minister John Manley in the federal cabinet is uncertain.

Why might Manley leave?

Relations between Martin and Manley, both on the fiscally conservative wing of the Liberals, have become increasingly strained and well-placed sources say Manley is now flirting with the idea of quitting cabinet if Martin did become prime minister.

Or Rock? usually reliable source said the minister had decided to quit politics in the very near future -- "He knows he has no chance of beating Martin" -- and go back to practicing law.

Rock's people are denying it, however.

Of course, if Paul Martin does become Liveral leader, Manley and Rock could be in line to succeed Martin as Liberal leader -- both Rock and Manley are in their early fifties.
posted at 23:44 — new improved comments — 0 so far

Friday, September 06, 2002

Ripping the Post

Yes, I've loved tearing up the Monument to Lord Black's Ego since the day it launched. However, I've laid off it lately, but it's about time that I whupped 'em.

Today's edition showed just why it is that I have such a dislike for the paper and the gang of narrow-minded hypocrites that run it.

The lead editorial was an expected anti-Kyoto rant that grossly distorted the actual resistence to Kyoto. The Posties claim that more provincial premiers are opposed to the greenhouse-gas reduction treaty than is actually the case; the concerns of the likes of Saskatchewan's Lorne Calvert or Nova Scotia's John Hamm are in now way equal to the virulen opposition of, and rejection to, the Kyoto Agreement.

They also kissed the ass of Alliance chief Stephen Harper, who is the type of fool who believes that the market will solve environmental problems. According the the Post Putzes:

He rightly pointed out that the science of global warming remains uncertain...

Yes, if you believe the likes of statistician Bjorn Lomborg, or the gobs of "research" funded by the oil industry. "Follow the money" has become a rule in science and not just politics or journalism these days.

and argued for a more modest plan

Yes, "voluntary emissions reductions." Give me a break: this has been done since Rio in 1990, and has done absolutely no good, especially in North America, where the fuel-efficiency of the passenger-vehicle fleet has gone down over the last decade. In other words: Do Nothing.

At least the Post acknowledges that it believes that global warming is a hoax. Could someone please tell me what Ken Whyte and co. are on? I want me some of that, whether it's drugs or bribery. I'm a cheap whore.

This rant continues in the next two items; I apologize for this; Blogger doesn't handle large posts well.
posted at 19:42 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Post-bashing, part deux

Then there's Hugo Gurdon's homage to jingoism.

Gurdon is correct: jingoism meant quite a different thing in 1878; it meant determination and commitment to fight the good fight. However, dearest Hugo, English words gain new meanings and lose old ones. Now, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines the word as "Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism." (see it for yourself)

In other words, we're always right, they're always wrong, shut your mind, fly the flag, and praise the Lord. Sorry, but periodic examination of what one and one's country are doing are necessary -- especially in a modern liberal democracy, Mr. Gurdon!

Such praise for sheeplike behaviour is as dangerous to liberal democracy as the militant Islam that is widely seen as the great threat to the Western world.
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Giving the Post its due, conclusion

There was also the coverage of Omar Khadr, the young Canadian-born Al-Qaeda suspect; it was rather permissive of the use of the American term "enemy combatant" which means nothing as far as I know in international law. Post writer Isabel Vincent was quite glad to get the opinion of a Royal Military College professor who said that he should not be given prisoner of war status, deserved no special consideration due to his young age (15) and should generally be strung up.

She also got the opinion of a Ed Morgan of the University of Toronto, who advocates denying prisoner-of-war status to "enemy combatants" because there's a war on or something like that. Very nice, you've covered one school of thought; what of those who thinks that young Khadr should be treated differently? Perhaps she should have tried to look at how others, including the Canadian depatment of Foregn Affairs, see things!

Or, perhaps, this quote from Prime Minister Chrétien sums things up.

"When a Canadian has been arrested abroad, we always have to serve the Canadian citizen according to the rules," Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said Thursday, responding to Khadr's arrest and detention.

Of course, it may be that he's not even al-Qaeda.

Yes, that's right, Posties. The rules, according to our government, are the same, whether one has been suspected of fighting with Al-Qaeda, or smoking a joint in Manchester. Of course, such an opinion might make sense to too many readers; therefore, it mustn't be given too much space!

And now, for the final bit of Post hypocrisy.

Since its founding, the Post has crusaded aqgainst the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for ideological reasons; the Post hates the idea of publicly funded anything. Since its acquisition by CanWest Global, its attacks opn the MotherCorp have grown louder and more insolent; the CBC now represents direct competition to the organization that the Post is part of.

This never stopped them from selling the CBC a 4-colour, 2-page centrefold spread in today's front section. Heavens to Murgatroyd, what are they doing here? Allowing the CBC to promote itself? Why, this isn't on; the CBC must be stopped, don't you know? OOPS, forgot... money trumps principle!

Most of the time, the Post makes me think that Canada's Kyoto targets could be met by getting their boorish commentators to shut up once in a while.
posted at 19:40 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Hard Left
CAW president Buzz Hargrove considers NDP bid

The Canadian Autoworkers Union president .might run for the leadership of Canada's left-wing party if his union wraps us contract talks with General Motors by the end of the month. Hargrove says that he's been unimpressed with the six declared candidates so far; he thinks that none of them has advocated a ground-breaking socialist agenda, as Hargove has been suggesting.

For virtually the entire time that Alexa McDonough was leader of the NDP, Hargrove criticized her for "wishy-washy" policies.

Like John Tory with the Progressive Conservatives, will this guy shit or get off the pot? Hargrove has been publicly contemplating a bid for the NDP leadership for years, but has so far only seen fit to be a backseat driver. At least Mr. Tory has been quiet about the Progressive Conservatives' seeming drift over the last five years or so.

Some right-wing types have hoped that Mr. Hargrove would run for and win the NDP leadership; they believe that it would destroy the party. Perhaps they should think twice. If the NDP were to disappear, where, precisely, do they think that NDP voters would go? That's right... the Liberals! Perhaps, if conservative voters really want to weaken the Natural Governing Party, they should hope for a strong NDP sapping votes off the Liberals' left flank.
posted at 01:12 — new improved comments — 0 so far

Thursday, September 05, 2002


"Maybe we should all just smoke marijuana and stop worrying about Kyoto."
-- Edmonton Journal writer Lorne Gunter on the week's two top stories.

: :also: :

"Why are you starting with me on this one?"
-- Strategic Council pollster Allan Gregg, to CBC's Peter Mansbridge, when asked for the intial comments about the Senate's proposal that marijuana should be legalized.
In reply:
-- Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert.

From CBC's The National, "At Issue" segment, Thursday, September 5.
posted at 22:48 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Now it gets interesting!

Vancouver's mayoral race is about to get a lot hotter. Former chief coroner Larry Campbell has announced that he will be running for mayor on the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) ticket.

Campbell, who has no relation to either the BC Premier, or former Vancouver mayor Tom Campbell, had been rumoured to be interested in the Mayor's job for some time now. His announcement represents a departure for COPS, and allows it to shed its reputation as a bunch of earnest, but naive, do-gooders.

Larry Campbell knows about the city's downtown eastside, and its problems, better than most. When he speaks, he speaks from his experiences as city coroner. He supported outgoing Mayor Philip Owen's controversial drug-treatment strategy, including that of harm reduction.

His attitude towards Canada's poorest neighbourhood is illustrated from this Vancouver Sun story.

Clarke, who comes from a prominent Shaughnessy family, has talked about the Downtown Eastside as a ghetto that needs to be retaken block by block. Campbell worked there for years as a coroner, has been a long-time board member with the homeless shelter Triage in the neighbourhood, and routinely delivers Christmas dinners in the area.

Campbell might live in Point Grey these days (the job of coroner pays well,) but he's no silver-spooner. He seems to want to bring the community into the city, not plow it under block by block by block.

'The people of our Downtown Eastside are members of our community and not occupants of a ghetto'
– Larry Campbell

from the CBC's story on Campbell's announcement that he will run for Mayot of Vancouver.

RealAudio: Larry Campbell spells out his platform (2:59)

This is going to be an interesting election for mayor; between establishment candidate Jennifer Clarke, former Vancouver park commissioner and BC Liberal MLA Art Cowie, and now Campbell. Three strong candidates mean that this will likely be the closes mayoral race in over a decade.
posted at 13:54 — new improved comments — 0 so far
John Tory is undeclared, but still has lots to say

The Rogers CEO and longtime Progressive Conservative operative blabs with Angelo Persichilli in this week's Hill Times.

John, will you shit or get off the pot, please? If you're in, you're in, and the Tories finally have a leadership candidate from outside the Maritimes. Great. If not, quit stringin' us political junkies along, will ya?
posted at 01:36 — new improved comments — 0 so far
When in doubt, do absolutely nothing...

The New Republic's Gregg Easterbrook reports on just how the American government has done absolutely nothing about the country's oil supply. Energy "crisis" of 2000-01? Blah. September 11, 2001, and wonders about the dependency on Saudi oil, and serious questions about what its profits fund? Meh. The necessity of buying crude from the Axis of Evil's lynchpin, you know, the one that (most of the) Bushies want to attack? Dunno.

Individual petroleum firms have backed off somewhat on purchasing from Iraq, but only, as The Washington Post reported this week, because Saddam's corrupt brokers demand excessive kickbacks, not as a result of any new government policy.

Domestic consumption?

SUVs retain their special low-mileage standards.

Even though, with a bit of engineering ingenuity, the SUV's could achieve the average mileage of other vehicles. According to the article, the current SUV mileage is over 7 MPG less than other passenger vehicles. Further, do SUVs really need 240-hp (and higher) engines? When the SUV craze began in the 1990s, the most powerful one on the market was the 190-hp Jeep Cherokee; most others had 140-160 horsepower. But, seeing as the SUV is being used by and large as a passenger vehicle, it should meet passenger-vehicle standards...

It's true... he who governs least, governs America.

Easterbrook is also the man behind Tuesday Morning Quarterback, which is both a book and a weekly pigskin picker. A man of many talents.
posted at 00:31 — new improved comments — 0 so far

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Say what?!??

The latest addition to Slate's The Complete Bushisms. [very large page]...

"If you don't have any ambitions, the minimum-wage job isn't going to get you to where you want to get, for example. In other words, what is your ambitions? And oh, by the way, if that is your ambition, here's what it's going to take to achieve it."
—Speech to students in Little Rock, Ark., Aug. 29, 2002

So, is this supposed to mean that even the minimum wage (US$5.15/hr) won't do you if you've no ambition, or was that some instruction for those with ambition to subject-verb disgreements, or perhaps how even the ambitionless can achieve minimum-wage jobs or... (fill in the blank!)
posted at 23:56 — new improved comments — 0 so far

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Kyoto support in unlikely places...

... like this September 1 editorial from the Edmonton Journal.

Yes, the Journal's editors had come to the conclusion that the federal government's ratification of Kyoto had become inevitable. Nonetheless, it's nice to see that at least one Alberta paper is looking forward, as evidenced below.

Canadians are part of this small planet, and must share in the responsibility for keeping it healthy. So by all means, let's ratify the treaty. Then let's find the best way to make that ratification a practical reality.

Can't say that I disagree much with that. Congrats to the Journal's editors for taking a stance which is not very popular, even in relatively liberal Edmonton.

Of course, I have no doubt that Journal writer Lorne Gunter (I won't call him a journalist; his stuff is more fiction than fact) will bitterly criticize the federal government, and so on. Were you really expecting anything different from a redneck who used to write his fiction for the Alberta Report?
posted at 07:06 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Right-Wing Envy - Do you have it?

Why is it that now, if you were to reand the opinion sections, that right-wingers are having all the fun? They are, you know. Rush Limbaugh chortles as he slags off gays, unions, feminists, and Muslims. Ann Coulter proves that bile is always in style. David Brooks alternately skewers and praises, always with wit and style.

And the lefties? Pedantic. Sanctimonious. Humourless. Unable to tolerate diversity among the "left". Not all, but many.

What the hell's wrong with this picture?!??

John Powers recently exhorted those who aren't into the brutality of the New Right to kick back, have a good one, and fight the good fight, with a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and to have a wild time doing it. Jack Shafer of elaborates.
posted at 04:44 — new improved comments — 0 so far
Kyoto: Get used to it

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien had been stringing the country along for months, if not years. Would he, or would he not submit the Kyoto Agreement to Parliament for approval?

He made the annoucement yeasterday at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg yesterday: The agreement would be submitted to Parliament by the end of the year 2002.

"When the consultation is concluded and before the end of this year, the Canadian parliament will be asked to vote on ratification of the Kyoto accord."

And so the die is cast... and the Prime Minister now has the advantage. Jean Chrétien has never been seen as a very green politician; indeed, the Sierra Club had argued this year that Brian Mulroney was a more environmentally conscious leader. Now, with nothing to lose, Chrétien can aim to "green" his legacy as Prime Minister. Kyoto is just one part of this; expect to see a national safe drinking water initiative in the next session of Parliament.

Chrétien can even do one more thing to apear more democratic (something where he's also been attacked) and that is to submit Kyoto to a free vote. There's no reason not to. Every party except the Canadian Alliance supports Kyoto. There are no less than 96 Liberal MPs who signed on to a letter authored by Don Valley West MP John Godfrey calling on Parliament to ratify Kyoto. This was a response to the requests of a backbencher, who can use nothing other than persuasion to gain support; he has no power over his fellow Liberals.

Paul Martin, now the unofficial opposition leader, indicated last week that he was in favour of ratification. Make that 97 Liberal MPs, and you can add Jean Chrétien, not to mention Environment Minister David Anderson for a total of 99. More will undoubtedly follow.

Kyoto is not a Chrétien v. Martin issue either. Martin, as mentioned above, supports Kyoto, and many of his staunchest supporters (Dan McTeague, Reg Alcock, Tony Ianno) are signatories to John Godfrey's letter. So have Chrétien loyalists like Dominic Leblanc, Dennis Mills, and Bonnie Brown.

Add it up: 99 Liberals, plus you can be sure that all 14 New Democrats and 38 Bloc MPs will vote yes; so will most of the 14-member Tory caucus. At this point, you're up to about 160 of 301 MPs without any need for arm-twisting. Of course, arm-twisting will be necessary; you can be sure that the oil lobby will pressure MPs like crazy.

Another benefit to a free vote is that Alberta's two Liberal MPs can vote against ratifying Kyoto. Come the next election, Anne McLellan and David Kilgour can face their electors and say "I voted against Kyoto because it was contrary to the interests of my constituents and blah blah blah." Will it work? Probably not, but who knows? Kilgour, in particular, has a good relationship with his constituents -- he won by nearly 5000 votes in 2000.

What of the provinces, and of Alberta's protests in particular?

Well, it is the right of the federal government to negotiate and approve international treaties. This has been the case since Confederation, and is as it should be. This power has never been challenged. It must be the federal government that negotiates international deals, and it mustn't be hostage to a rogue province or two. While the feds should respond to provincial concerns, in the end they must govern for the whole country.

Don't provinces own their natural resources, including the air? Isn't it intrustion into provincial jurisdiction to sign Kyoto?

On the first, yes. On the second, well, yes, too. However, other international deals have intruded on provincial jurisdiction. Just look at international trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.) Provincial governments have power over consumer and some sorporate affairs. NAFTA (and its predecessor) required that no laws be enacted that keep U.S., and now Mexican, operations out of Canada's provinces. When people protest international trade agreements, I rarely hear that they're unconstitutional because they interfere with provincial jurisdiction... but I stand to be corrected.

Of course, Alberta's "environment minister," Lorne Taylor, blasted the federal government. Taylor called Chrétien's decision to send the Kyoto Agreement to Parliament "a breach of trust." Of course, Taylor is only following the first rule of modern Alberta politics which is to not do anything that might offend the oil industry. That's fine if one is only concerned with Alberta, but the federal government must concern itself with all of Canada. Alberta is just one province out of ten, with about ten per cent of the population.

"I was shocked because he's always said he won't announce ratification without consultation agreement of the provinces, and he hasn't done that," Taylor said in Johannesburg.

Give me a break. The only way that Lorne Taylor would say that there had been sufficient consultation would be if the federal government agreed to cave in to Alberta's position which is: Do absolutely nothing that could even remotely hurt the oil and gas industry.

Could Alberta win a political fight with Ottawa over Kyoto? Unlikely. Even the Globe and Mail's John Ibbitson, a provincial-rights fundamentalist, thinks that Alberta would lose this one. Could it win a constitutional challenge against Kyoto, as the Calgary Sun's knuckle-draggers (oops, I mean editors. I really, honestly do.) suggest? I'm not sure, but I don't think that you could prove that the sections of NAFTA that interfere with provincial jurisdiction made the deal unconstitutional.

Other provinces have concerns over Kyoto, to be sure. Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert has said that he's concerned about Kyoto, but his concerns are more about its implementation, not about the merits of greenhouse-gas reductions. Ontario was dead-set against Kyoto when Mike Harris was premier, but Ernie Eves wants to be the mediator and conciliator. Even in British Columbia, which may have the most right-wing government in the country, is not totally against Kyoto. The concerns of the province's oil and gas sector are countered by the province's hydro-electric resources, and the prsence of Ballard Power Systems, a leading fuel-cell maker.

Even Québec, with a government that is loath to accept federal interference in provincial matters, is in favour of Kyoto, due to the fact that the province has a massive hydro-electric industry. It could well be the Saudi Arabia of hydro power in the future.

The fact remains, though: No province has veto power over deals negotiated by the federal government, and this shouldn't change.

So get used to incentives to emit less CO2, and penaties for driving gas guzzlers and wasting electricity. You'll get used to it.

. . : :end of commentary: : . .

Media Coverage

G&M: Chrétien aims for green legacy
G&M: Kyoto cost worries business
National Post: Alberta to fight PM's Kyoto plan
Toronto Star: We'll put Kyoto pact to the vote, PM says
Toronto Star: Chretien Kyoto pledge angers Alberta
Ottawa Citizen / PM sets stage for war with West
I really must comment on this headline. It really should replace "West" with "Alberta." Almost all of the article deals with Albertan concerns, and one "western" government (Manitoba) is pro-Kyoto. One is against (Alberta) the treaty. I suppose that this shouldn't be surprising, given the editorial slant of the CanWest Global outlets.
posted at 04:23 — new improved comments — 0 so far

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