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

Thursday, October 31, 2002

U.S. backs down on border policy

Foreign Affair Minister Bill Graham announced today thast the U.S. will not, as previously announced, be fingerprinting, photographing, or heavily interrogating Canadian citizens who are originally from some Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries when those Canadians attempt to enter the United States.

This is good news for those Candians who were born in those countries but who have, since then sworn loyalty not to Pakistan or Sudan or Iran, but to Canada. It also shows that the Dpeartment of Foreign Affairs will, occasionally, show that it has a little backbone when the United States discriminates against Canadians because of what country those Canadians were born in.
Civic Election: 16 days to go

Links to the Vancouver political parties' and candidates' websites:

The ruling party, Vancouver's civic Non-Partisan Association
The NPA's links page, which leads to their various candidates.

Coalition of Progressive Electors
COPE's platform page

An old name revived by former NPA members, the Vancouver Civic Action TEAM

The Vancouver Green Party, back at it again
The Green Book for 2002 -- possibly the most detailed platform of any civic party.

They're young and admit to not having all the answers. But you've gotta give them credit for humility, and for boldness at the same time! Presenting Ryan "the Pillar" Millar and Sarah Albertson of the Dance Party Party!

Political gadfly, Terminal City scribe, and all 'round shit disturber Brian Salmi is running for Council. Vancouver Sun editorial writer Charles Campbell says that he's saving a vote for the man sometines known as "Godzilla." Will you?

Chronic campaigner and Marijuana Party founder and mayoral candidate Marc Emery

George Chow is running for council because to him, the ruling NPA are too soft on the Downtown Eastside. Chow's campaign slogan: "Safe neighbourhoods. Public Order." I guess if you want Vancouver to turn into authoritarian Singapore...

Offbeat mayoral candidate (and van.general regular) Golok Buday. As an existentialist candidate, he runs, therefore he is tired... and also is.

City of Vancouver Election Information. Anything and everything you wanted to know about how to vote, where to vote, if you're eligible to vote... there are also links to complete results from the 1996 and 1999 Vancouver elections.
Tory to lead Tories?
... and other developments in the Prgressive Conservative leadership race.

The man with the ultimate name for a Progressive Conservative leader, John Tory, is apparently ready to announce that he will seek the leadership of the well, uh... Tories. Current Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark has announced that he is retiring, and there will be a leadership convention to replace him in the middle of next year.

John Tory is currently the CEO of Rogers Communications, a company whose founder, Ted Rogers is a long-time Progressive Conservative supporter. Tory's reputation is that of a "Red" or contrist Tory; he was once the principal secretary to legendary Ontario Premier Bill Davis. Since then, he has also been commissioner of the Canadian Football League whiule not pursuing his business career.

Today's report, from the Toronto Star, contradicts previous reports, notably those from Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson, that Tory was not going to run for the party leadership. Some observers had thought that Tory's chancs of wining the PC party leadership would not be good against New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord. The fluently bilingual Lord has a good record in his time as New Brunswick premier, while Tory has never held elected office, and is a unilingual Torontonian; not a good combination when Conservative leaders have traditionally been from outside Ontario, and in a time where any major party leader in Canada is expected to speak passable French.

Elsewhere in the Tory leadership race, the Globe and Mail reports that current Tory House Leader Peter MacKay will be touring Cnada to gauge support for a possible leadership run. MacKay, son of former Tory cabinet minister Elmer MacKay, has often been mentioned as a future Tory leader. He's young (36) and photogenic, but he, like John Tory, is unilingual and is little-known west of the Maritimes.

The only declared Progressive Conservative leadership candidate is 76-year-old Heward Grafftey, who was a cabinet minister in Joe Clark's short-lived government.

As a side note. I'll be back posting semi-regularly now; I've been extremely busy in the last few days; not only have I been spending a lot of time on the Vancouver civic campaign trail, but I also have weird things like school to take care of... thanks for your patience, and for continuing to visit.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Al Arsenault, Neanderthal.

Well-known Vancouver police officer and media whore Al Arsenault has been the latest player plunged into the 2002 civic elections with the revelation of his e-mail correspondence with a Belgian doctor where he rails against the prevailing view about Vancouver's drug problems.

Arsenault is well-known for his "right-wing" (a term that he himself does not shy away from) views on drugs; he's in favour of the lock 'em up, chase 'em out, let someone else deal with 'em approach to drug addicts. He's also a political animal himself -- he organized for onetime superintendent Vern Campbell's council candidacy under the centre-right Non-Partisan Association banner.

He expresses his high hopes for right-wing appointments to the Vancouver Police Board, despite the fact that, according to current police board chair and outgoing Mayor Philip Owen, the current board, with many members appointed by the previous NDP provincial government, has been non-political and non-ideological. Arsenault is also friends with NPA board members like Yvonne DeValone, who got on to the NPA board to forward her (and Arsenault's views) that the the city's proposed approach to drugs, with its emphasis on treatmeny of addicts and harm-reduction measures, is incorrect, and the law-and-order approach, which has been tried for decades, is the approach of choice. But let's not let the facts confuse Sgt. Arsenault; the whole damn city, in his eyes, is being run by junkie-loving left-wing looney-tunes turnin' the town into another Sodom and Gomorrah.

Philip Owen, the blandly conservative mayor who came to the difficult realization that the law-and-order approach to drugs didn't work, and who, late in his career, advocated a new-to-Vancouver plan? In Arsenault's world, Owen was brainwashing the city.

The current police board? Left wing "harm promotionists" and political hacks.

Doctors who specialize in addiction treatment, including current city councillor Fred Bass? They're wrong. Downtown Eastside Residents' Association? They're nuts. You get the idea. Everyone except for those who agree with Arsenault, such as the conservative Community Alliance business group, who just happen to now be tightly associater with the NPA, the party that rejected their former mayoral choice Philip Owen, is wrong.

What if Arsenault's wrong?

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Cultural Anthropology of Stephen Harper?

A possible explanation about just why Stephen Harper made a wiseass comment about openly gay MP Svend Robinson yesterday, and, in the process, stuck his foot in his mouth.

From someone with the nom de plume of "Emmanuel Goldstein":

"I stand by my assertion that Harper has never debated anyone with their spinal cord connected to their brain. I've lived in both of the regions that Harper is from, central Etobicoke and Alberta. I knew people that went to Richview [Collegiate, Harper's high school]. They cannot imagine a higher existance than stock options, a home in Brampton and a new Cadillac. Their only impediment to this dream is a cartel of black lesbian social workers, teachers unions and government file-clerks who mysteriously wield omnipotent power over all the universe. Their first, last and only line of defense against this onslaught of mediocrity was Mike Harris, who pleged to lower taxes, brutalize the poor and rule us like a King...

"In such a vacuous, materialistic, empty community, it's not a surprise that it produced a political leader like Stephen Harper. It's surprising that Harper isn't further to the right..."

On the life of Richview Collegiate students:

"Rich, white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant stoners. At age 13, these kids had the cops coming to their houses to break up parties. These kids used [various insipid television shows about high-schoolers] as their template for how to live. Their expectations of life are as I described previously."

And the future of the typical Richview grad?

"Queen's or Western. Take business, get drunk/laid/stoned, graduate, banking, married, 2.4 kids, Lexus, loan, house in Brampton [or Caledon, King, Oakville, what have you], mortgage, attractive temp, affair, divorce, alimony, counselling, realize problem is black lesbian social workers, vote Tory, divorce again, sell Lexus, repeat every 10 years, die."

Thank you, "Emmanuel Goldstein!"

...of course, this doesn't explain the need to make snide comments about openly gay Members of Parliament. For that, you've got to go to Alberta (actually, most areas away from the big cities will do, but in Alberta, you can still be anti-gay and well-respected at the same time!)

Earlier today, Stephen Harper rose in the House and apologized to Svend Robinson over his comments about just where Robinson's picture might be posted.
Members of Congress explain why they voted to OK war with Iraq
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial cartoon)

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Harper: Classless Git.

Stephen Harper (CA - Calgary Southwest, AB)

Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper came under fire from all sides today after making a remark about New Democrat MP Svend Robinson that some said was homophobic.

Yeah. No kidding. The Leader of the Opposition had already stuck his foot in his mouth when he accused Liberal cabinet ministers of being criminal and having their pictures hanging on police stations' walls. So Svend Robinson, who has been in Parliament for 23 years and knows the rules of the House well, rose on a point of order. He called Harper's accusations of criminality for what they were -- unparliamentary.

Robinson surely wasn't defending the conduct of (ex-) Cabinet Ministers like Alfonso Gagliano, Art Eggleton, or Lawrence MacAulay. That's for sure -- he had been attacking those ministers' conduct vigorously over the last several months, just as sure as most every member of the Opposition had. However, Robinson wasn't about to let a party leader (of a party that Robinson can't stand, to be sure) engage in that sort of attack. Accusing someone of criminality is serious. Duh.

Robinson stood up on a point of order.

Svend Robinson (NDP - Burnaby-Douglas, BC)

"Mr. Speaker, I've only been here 23 years, but I know that there are some rules in this place and you cannot refer to another honourable member as a criminal in the House of Commons and I demand that he withdraw the statement."
What was Harper's response?

"Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the picture of the honourable member for the NDP is posted in much more interesting places than just police stations." That was Harper's remark. Was he insinuating something about Robinson, an openly gay man? Good question. Could it be seen as a snide remark about Robinson's sexuality? Yes.

And there's the problem. The Canadian Alliance has long been suspected of being a hotbed of homophobia. Harper's predecessor, Stockwell Day, saw gays as being second-class citizens. Former MP Bob Ringma saw nothing wrong with an employer sending gay (or, for that matter, black) employees to the back of a shop. Earlier this year, Alliance MP Cheryl Gallant told foreign-affairs minister Bill Graham to "ask your boyfriend" in Question Period. Harper's views on gays are ambiguous at best. This statement, whatever its meaning, doesn't help his case among anyone, and reinforces the perception of the Alliance as the homophobe's party of choice.

Dumb, Steve.

It was all unnecessary. Harper could have just retracted the original statement that raised Robinson's ire -- the one about criminal conduct by Cabinet ministers. He would have then been free to attack the Liberal government on ethics, an issue on which they are vulnerable. Instead, the story became one of a veiled slur of a gay MP by a right-wing party.

And the Alliance actually blame "the Eastern establishment," "liberal media elites," and the Progressive Conservatives for their failures? Christalmighty, their leader shot himself in the foot today, just as have his predecessors.

That kind of trouble you bring on yourself.
Obese woman loses airline seat fight

Or, even a law degree won't win you your case if there's no case to be made.

No, obesity is not a disability according to the Canadian Transportation Agency. As such, airlines aren't required to provide extra seats to their, ahem, bulkier passengers at no cost to the passenger in question. The complaint was brought by a University of Calgary law professor who wanted to sit in to seats but only pay for one.

A sensible decision. If I'm shipping bulky freight, I've got to pay more. Why should it be different for airline passengers? Personally, I think that Air Canada's been quite reasonable; they charge an extra half-fare to passengers who request an extra seat to accomodate their, uh, girth.
More from Romanow

Roy Romanow, who is currently preparing the report from the royal commission on the future of health care in Canada, has called for provinces to provide more detailed reports on their health-care spending in return for greater, more stable federal funding for medicare. This seems sensible, but provincial governments guard their jurisdiction over heath services jealously; yesterday, Alberta Health Minister Gary Mar said that he would prefer that any new federal funding come with no strings attached.

Recently, provincial premiers have been claiming that the federal government only provides 14% of the funding for public health care in Canada. The federal government begs to differ; they point out that public health care spending in Canada is about $68-billion, and that the federal health and social transfers total $34-billion, before equalization payments. Even when one factors in that those transfers don't all go to medicare, the feds claim that they contribute at least 31% of the health care dollars, and maybe more. Here's the federal government's claim; judge for yourself.

Need a recipe for faggots? Here's one that looks tasty. If you really want your faggots to be authentic, you must make every effort to obtain a pig's caul. Honestly.

Would I lie to you?

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Granola Conservatives?!??

You betcha. They eat organic food, appreciate good archiecture, listen to jazz and hard country, and are suspicious of mass culture. Sound like lefties? Think again. They're conservative, but they give the left credit for knowing of the litle things that make life better. But they don't take the left's dogma with its comforts.

Another stereotype busted.

I'm not complaining. Why should ideology blind one to good taste, or culture?
The new Solicitor-General's constituency website.

... so that you can find out more about this fellow that few Canadians west of Atlantic Canada have ever heard of, Wayne Easter.

The most recent update on the "resignation" of Lawrence MacAulay from the Solicitor-General's office, and the subsequent appointment of Wayne Easter, from the Globe and Mail.
One host name that recently clicked onto the Scrum:

A computer called "proletariat" in the City of North Vancouver? Owned by the city, no less! An outrage! What on earth will the notoriously conservative denizens of the North Shore think?

Actually, the mayor's race in North Vancouver is being contested by former NDPer Bill Bell, who is going up against incumbent Barbara Sharp, who also has NDP ties. It's just more proof that in civic elections, voters are likely to cross philosophical lines when voting. Remember Beth Johnson's time as Delta's mayor?
I'll believe it when I see it, Paul

Monday, October 21, 2002

COPE proposes putting drug addicts to work cleaning city parks

... but don't get your hopes up yet, fascists. This proposal is based on voluntary participation, not forced labour. Sorry to disappoint all you members of the Suburban Upper-Middle-Class Crank Party.

A more practical problem, though: if this program takes off, could the unionized parks staff claim that this "Park Partners" program is taking away jobs from their membership? COPE is, after all, a party that is informally allied with organized labour.
Lower Mainland resdidents split on taxes, services

Boy, that's gotta piss off the ideologues on the Vancouver Sun's editorial board something fierce.

In all seriousness, a recent Sun/Ipsos-Reid poll shows that Lower Mainland residents are split on whether, when budget crunches arise, cities should raise taxes or cut services. Either way, there's 47% support, with 6% undecided.

Vancouver and Burnaby voters are most likely to be okay with higher taxes; given that property tax rates are fairly low in those two cities, perhaps that's not too surprising. Voters in those two cities were more likely to say that their governments were performing well; about 60% of respondents in those cities said that their city government was doing a fairly good or very good job. However, the number of people polled in those two cities was only 240: good for about a +/- 6.3% margin of error, but too small to split into Vancouver and Burnaby responses.

And, for your amusement, the "Security" issues poll, again conducted by Ipsos-Reid for the Sun. Enjoy.
An oldie (about 1320 Internet years old) but a goodie

It's that page about foreign bodies in the rectum. Visited over 36,600,000 times over the years. Impresive, no?

And yes, that one about the artillery shell has been substantiated. There's even an X-ray to prove it.
Do you actually believe him?

So, the former Finance Minister, Paul Martin, now just the Honourable Member from La Salle-Emard, has said that he would reform some aspects of Parliament if he becomes Prime Minister?

Isn't that what all the outsiders say -- until they get into power?

Personally, I wouldn't suddenly become a Martinite based n those promises of some reform; if you're gonna be a Martyinite, make sure that you can support whatever else it is that he stands for.

Whatever it is that he stands for.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Vancouver according to Larry Campbell

Larry Campbell, the man who would be mayor of Vancouver, sat down with the Vancouver Sun's editorial board earlier this week. The paper's Frances Bula, who has given readers some brilliant reporting on the struggle for power at City Hall, provides this report., the website produced by the company that owns the Sun, the Province, the biweekly Vancouver Courier, not to mention a local TV station (scary, no?) has provided a good section on Vancouver's local elections, with stories from all of the media properties listed above. It's worth checking out, especially if you live in Vancouver. However, the site has one flaw: opinion pieces are mixed in with news stories. Be warned. If you see the byline of someone like Pete McMartin, Jon Ferry, or Daphne Bramham, it's an opinion piece, and should be taken as such...

And, on that note, the aforementioned Daphne Bramham has written a timely column on the separation of Greater Vancouver's transportation authority, TransLink, from the voters in November's municipal elections.

Here's a quote:

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is the current TransLink chairman. But there's no way a Maple Ridge voter could call him to account for lousy transit service or no way for a Richmond resident to send a message to Vancouver Councillor George Puil about his performance as TransLink chairman during last year's lengthy transit strike.

In other words, you can be right pissed off about traffic, lousy transit in the suburbs, lack of roads or bus routes to connect areas in direct ways, but... you have no direct controol, and your indirect control is sketchy, as the elected city councillors and the Mayor of each municipality decide who will represent the area on the TransLink board. Anyone for a change?
Liberals set date to choose Chrétien's successor

...the week of November 10-16, 2003, to be exact. Here's the kicker: Vancouver is on the shortlist, along with Toronto and Ottawa, to host the leadership convention! The convention site will be decided next month, and will be awarded to the lowest bidder.

Okay, Vancouver organizers, show 'em just how economical this city can be! Lest any Scrum reader think that I'm joking, I can assure you that I'm not. Vancouver might seem pricey, but Toronto is heavily in demand for conventions of various sorts all the time. And nothing at all comes cheap in Ottawa.

Of course, the Scrum has its biases, and desperately wants the convention to be held in Vancouver, if for no other reason than that of convenience.
Federal NDP non-debate


Well, there was supposed to be a debate between the contenders for the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party today in St. John's. It seems, according to this CBC report, that there wasn't much disagreement among the five candidates present (Vancouver-based candidate Bev Meslo was unable to aford the trip to Newfoundland.)

Sure, any NDP hopeful would be expected to be against U.S. President George W. Bush's stance on Iraq. Or critical of the Liberals' cautious stance (some might say foot-dragging) on implementing the Kyoto Protocol. Or in favour of more federal funding of health care and education. Yes, yes, yes, we've heard all that. If you're a Dipper, you probably agree with it all yourself.

But what sets these guys (and woman apart? Is Lorne Nystrom really a Liberal in NDP clothing? Can Jack Layton deliver the urban vote that has eluded the NDP for over a decade? Would Bill Blaikie change anything at all about the NDP?

And what exactly will any of the contenders do to expand the NDP's share of the vote from about 10% to the high tenns that it had before, and would anyone like to explain why a social-democratic party has done so poorly lately in a country with a strong social-democratic minority? Hell, former leader Ed Broadbent, who let the party to its best results in its history, figures that 30 to 35% of Canadians have social-democratic (read: NDP) values. So, perhaps the new leader might like to demonstrate just how they would change the NDP so that it's in a position to win those votes.

An NDP member, however, isn't going to be able to figure out who to vote for if they don't draw some distinction amongst themselves. So show 'em, damnit!

Elsewhere, there was (finally) a little criticism of one candidate by another. Veteran Saskatchewan MP Lorne Nystrom drew some parallels between his rival Jack Layton and disgraced former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day. Nystrom noted that Layton has no federal political experience, neither did Day when he became Alliance leader in 2000.

I wonder if he might also be suggesting that Layton is prone to foot-in-mouth disease, or perhaps likes silly publicity stunts? We'll see.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Getting the democratic process by the throat

The Seattle P-I's Joel Connelly, of the best scribes in the Pacific Northwest, weighs in on the ills of American political campaigns.

Connelly notes the tiny amount of free airtime given by broadcasters to inform votyers on political campaigns. Virtually no free airtime for candidates to explain their platforms to voters. Very short political reports on TV news, and shorter "soundbites" (42 seconds on avewrage in the mid-'60's, less than 8 seconds today.)

Of course, any regulations forcing broadcasters to give over more airtime to the electoral process would be med with a fierce reaction from the industry; American TV stations took in some $800-million US in the last election cycle!

He also bemoans the massive size that political campaigns have grown to in Washington State (and elsewhere in the U.S.)

How big? Consider this: In 1990, there was exactly one Congressional race where the cost of the campaign exceeded $1-million US. In 2000, some candidates were spending $7-million. And that money has to be raised every two years -- over $60,000 US every week.

Or, you have campaigns elsewhere in the country: Jon Corzine, the junior Senator from New Jersey, and Michael Bloomberg, current Mayor of New York each spent more money in their most recent campaigns than did all the parties and candidates in the UK in last year's Parliamentary election.

ACLU fights back

The American Civil Liberties Union has launched a $3-million-US advertising and lobbying campaign to take back civil liberties that have been broached by various levels of government in the U.S. folllowing the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

One television ad shows U.S. Atorney-General John Ashcroft willfully doing damage to the U.S. Constitution. Hardly unfair, given that the only time that Ashcroft has the slightest regard for civil liberties is when they involve gun ownership.. The rest of the time, he curses all those guarantees of a fair and impartial trial, attorney-client privilege, protection against unreasonable search and seizure...

Good on the ACLU!
NDP supporters undecided on best new leader: Poll

This little nugget was gleaned from a recent Environics poll, where none of the six candidates for the federal NDP leadership polled over 21% of NDP supporters, and 40% of respondednts were undecided.

A cuple of pronems arise, though. The sample size is very small -- only 221 respondents. The data was extracted from a poll of 2000 Canadian voters, of whom only 11% or so said that they support the NDP. That gives an accuracy of +/- 6.7%, 19/20. Another problem is that this poll is of NDP supporters, not NDP members, who are the ones who will be deciding who the paty's new leader will be.

So I'm really not too sure just how much you can really read in to all this.

Nonetheless, the results were...
Jack Layton 21%
Lorne Nystrom 14%
Bill Blaikie 10%
Joe Comartin 5%
Bev Meslo 4%
Pierre Ducasse 2%

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

In the meantime, go and amuse yourself.

No, I haven't been posting here that much lately; this must mean that I've got some sort of a life, or something. Until I toss some more material this way, have some fun with the Political Compass.

The Compass is another of those silly on-line self-tests to find out where you stand on something or other. This one's a 2-dimensional scale: one for economic attitudes, one for social ones. The idea is that the "left-right" distinction is inadequate, because t would assume that leftists or rightists would have similar views on, for example, social issues. However, there are social conservatives, who favour free markets, but with rigid social control, usually sanctioned by the State, and then there are free-marketeers who coulsn't care less what you do in your personal life. Same thing goes on the other side of the spectrun. So why not have two axes?

In any case, this questionnaire is better-designed than most of the others out there. Give it a try.

They've also got a list of recemmended reads from practicioners and theorists of various ideological flavours; some of the books are worth checking out.

And, now, here's how I scored

Economic Left/Right: -1.38 (slightly to the economic left)
Authoritarian/Libertarian -6.02 (strongly libertarian on social issues)
Quelle surprise!

Okay, I've shown you mine. Show me yours.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

PM could dump MacAulay today

And, if he does, it'll get rid of another pain in the ass for the PM. However, the other three Liberal MP's from Prince Edward Island are all known Paul Martin supporters, most notably rookie Shawn Murphy (Hillsborough.) The most experienced PEI MP available to go into Cabinet would likely be Wayne Easter, who represents the constituency of Malpeque, who, before being elected to Parliament in 1993, was the president of the National Farmers' Union.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Different voices, different choices

Most of the Vancouver political scribblings on the Scrum have dealt with the candidates, ideas, and machinations of Vancouver's two large civic partes -- the NPA and COPE, along with the upstart TEAM. But those parties only account for about half of the 119 candidates competing for the various city offices. Sure, the Big Two or Three parties have got most of the organizational muscle, the fundraising ability, and volunteer labour. This doesn't mean that you should ignore the other candidates out there; they all have someting interesting top contribute to the debate.

The Dance Party Party are running two youngish candidates for city council: Ryan Millar and Sarah Albertson. They admit to not having all the answers (hey, don't worry guys -- the city staff are acrtually there for a reason) ; but they do want a less uptight city, and one that will be a bit more inclusive in its decision-making processes.

Hell, I ran for city council in Prince George in 1996, and I also admitted to not knowing all that much; never stopped me from having a good time campaigning, and I still maaged to sc ore a few points, win a few votes... Give 'em hell, kids!

Political gadfly Brian Salmi, frequent independent camapigner and a surviving Rhino Party member (!) is running for both council and school board. His platform promises something for everyone (to get pissed off at.)

A little of Salmi's independent streak here:

I've watched as the soul of this town has been sucked out of it by faceless mini van driving bureaucrats and politicians who pander to the crème de le crème. I sense that you want things to change. Not everyone, however, is ready to sacrifice three years of their life to change the face of our city. I am.

The Vancouver Greens are back at it, and going it alone after their 1999 joint campaign with COPE, and their platform looks to be more of the same, even if the candidates have changed. The Greens are running three candidates for council, two for schhol board, and four for parks board.

Former Green, and outgoing Parks Commissioner, Roslyn Cassells is running as an independent for Vancouver city council after her recent split from the Green Party and her failure to secure a COPE endorsement for a council run last month.

More independent and minor party links to come in the next few days.
Richard Gwyn suggests that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien could be gone by next spring. In April, the PM will mark the fortieth anniversary of his first election to Parliament, and that might prove to be a convenient exit point for Chrétien, whose ability to control his caucus now that he's announced his retirment in early 2004, has become questionable.

National Post/Southam News Ottawa bureau chief Bob Fife has suggested the same thing; he opined that the PM couldn't last another 16 months on CPAC's Inside Ottawa last Friday.

Of course, those who underestimate the skills and determination of Jean Chrétien are usually proven wrong to the point of embarassment.

Shall I get some crow ready for Richard and Bob, just in case?

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Winners of the 2002 Ig® Nobel Prizes

Yeah, they were handed out last week, but some of you readers probably are unaware as to the existence of these fine awards, given for achievemants that "cannot or should not be reproduced." Alternatively, it's for research that makes you laugh, then think.

The 2002 IgNobel prize in Economics goes to:

The executives, corporate directors, and auditors of Enron, Lernaut & Hauspie [Belgium], Adelphia, Bank of Commerce and Credit International [Pakistan], Cendant, CMS Energy, Duke Energy, Dynegy, Gazprom [Russia], Global Crossing, HIH Insurance [Australia], Informix, Kmart, Maxwell Communications [UK], McKessonHBOC, Merrill Lynch, Merck, Peregrine Systems, Qwest Communications, Reliant Resources, Rent-Way, Rite Aid, Sunbeam, Tyco, Waste Management, WorldCom, Xerox, and Arthur Andersen, for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world. [NOTE: all companies are US-based unless otherwise noted.]

Other awards were given for research into the occurrence, distribution, and properties of belly-button lint, the decay of beer foam, and scrotal assymetry.

Last year, the prize in Astrophysice was goven to televangelists Jack and Rexella Van Impe, for their discovery that black holes fill all the tecnical reqirements to be the location of Hell. However, I can't recall any Bible passages that said that Hell involved being first torn apart, then absorbed into a single point of infinite density...

Saturday, October 12, 2002

B.C. Liberal machinations &c.

Monday Magazine's Russ Francis has some interesting tidbits in his regular column in said Victoria weekly. Signs point to a possible Cabinet shuffle (the first since the current one was sworn in 15 months ago,) fund-raising in response to possible recall campaigns, real, threatened, or imagined, and the troubles in the Legislatures web site. It now takes twice as long to load a Hansard transcript as it did in the old NDP days thanks to a bunch of fancy Flash programming on the site -- hey, isn't this inefficient; wouldn't plain text with a little formatting be a lot more efficient in terms of using taxpayer-funded computer resources?
Revolution Televised?

Ben Fritz opines that the forthcoming FX cable network's American Candidate -- yes that Survivor-meets-the-primaries-meets-American Idol thingamajig might be a good thing, especially for liberals. Instead of schmoozing the mostly white, fairly rural voters of New Hampshire and Iowa, they get to reach a considerably more geographically and demographically diverse audience.

And if all else fails, maybe it'll be entertaining and make the 2004 Presidential election less of a snooze-fest than was the 2000 campaign.
Part 1 of Frances Bula's "A Party Divided," a special series in the Vancouver Sun about the split in Vancouver's dominant civic party, the Non-Partisan Association, and the departure (some would say backstabbing) of outgoing Mayor Philip Owen

Part 2 -- Rebuilding Tarnished Images takes a look at how the Owen-less NPA, Owen's repleacement as NPA mayoral candidate Jennfer Clarke, and Owen himself have set about rebulding their reputations after their nasty split seven months ago. The article is on two web pages; here's the second one.

Very much worth reading, and this way (on the WWW) you don't have to pump any money into the CanWest Global media empire.
G.W. Bush Went AWOL?

Some web-site claims that the 43rd President of the United States was AWOL from the National Guard for most of 1972 and part of '73. Might be a crank site. But probably not -- the story has been floating around for a couple of years, and it's not just been pushed by Internat cranks (unless you condifer the Boston Globe and The New Republic to be a bunch of cranks...)

But here's the real question: Do those who are Bush-boosters even give a damn whether he was AWOL? And is it really relevant?
Another Ipsos-Reid poll shows more of the same -- Liberals stay popular (44% including "leaning" voters) in nationwide polls, with the three national opposition partes all treading water in the mid-teens.

What the heck were you expecting? A massive Tory surge?

You can find more extensive tables at the link above.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Against (their) Grain

Two pieces from today's Globe and Mail; both feature columnists that take positions that are seemingly unusual for them. Norman Spector breaks ranks from his fellow conservatives and rejects calls for additional defence spending, and gives the foreign-policy realists' argument for why we should hold the line on defence spending.

Elsewhere, John Ibbitson takes a deep breath and concedes that signing on to the Kyoto Protocol might actually pay off in the long run, if past reqirements that industry clean up its act are any indication. However, the conservative pundit still insists that the scientific community is still divided over the merits of Kyoto; I suppose that that's true if anything less than unanimity constitutes grounds for describing scientrists as "divided." But still...

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Broadway = Campaign Row?

Sure seems so to me -- the three major civic parties in Vancouver have all located their offices on Broadway, all in an eight-block stretch. TEAM have been set up at 53 W. Broadway (near Ontario) for a few weeks now, and the NPA officially opened their campaign headquarters at 555 W. Broadway (between Cambie and Ash) last Thursday.

COPE has got their "Larry Campbell and COPE" signes up at the former CIBC branch at Broadway and Main, and they'll be officially opening the office up this Saturday (October 12) at 3PM.

Hey, it makes life easier for us hacks. No complaints here!
Lord no Saviour?

The Toronto Star's Chantal Hebert throws some cold water on all the hype surrounding New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord. She points out how even with the telegenic, fully bilingual, and very skillful Lord, the Tories' prospects for growth in 2004-05 are still limited -- in other words, the Tories are unlikely to reduce the Canadian Alliance to a rump just yet...
Paul Sullivan of the Globe and Mail sings the praises of a competitive mayoral race in Vancouver -- the first since the showdown between Jim Green and Godon Campbell in 1990.

Or, as he puts it, "On Nov. 16, Vancouverites can choose Lady Macbeth, the Better Business Bureau or Mayor Da Vinci."

Sullivan notes that voters often use civic elections to send a message to the provincial government of the day:

Annoyed by the lack of opposition to the Liberals in Victoria, voters may just decide to install the opposition in Vancouver and get it to kick a little proxy butt. It could be a real dilemma for the other Campbell (Premier Gordon).

The opposition (or certainly not the provincial government's puppets) is embodied in Vancouver by the left-leaning Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) and their mayoral candidate, former chief coroner Larry Campbell. There is a little bit of precedent for Vancouver voters installing civic governments that are ideologically opposed to the provincial government -- when the NDP was in power, Vancouverites supported overwhelmigly right-leaning politicians for civic office, almost as a check to the provincial government.
Jack Shafer takes aim at Columbia University's J-skool.

Reform them, or torch them altogether? Shafer favours the torch...

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

That story about the blue-skinned libertarian

Judge for yourself. That's all I gotta say...
Sean Moore gets a little bit lazy in his latest Hill Times column; he recycles a bunch of quotes to fill his word count. Then again, those quotes are pretty useful to those interested in this Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament, so you might as well have a look.
No trouble at Day of Defiance protests in Victoria

...which must have pissed off the government big-time. No doubt about it, violent anti-government protests do harm the protestors' cause, but Monday was apparently quite peaceful.

Solicitor-General Rich Coleman was thirsting for a fight on Monday, claiming that "thugs and anarchists" were coming out in droves, a term used last weeek by Premier Gordon Campbell. Looks like Coleman misread his briefings.

Unless, of course, "thugs and anarchists" means, in B.C. government-speak, "people with whoim we don't agree and will say it publicly..."

Monday, October 07, 2002

Martinites sew up grip on B.C. wing

of the Liberal Party of Canada. The pro-Martin board of the Liberal Party of Canada in B.C. (not to be confused with the B.C. Liberals) was acclaimed at this weekend's conference in Victoria.

Other interesting tidbits:

:: Liberal membership in B.C. has grown from 4000 to 12,000 members in the last two years.

:: While the official hope is to have B.C. return more Liberals (under Paul Martin, of course) to Parliament than other parties , more reasonable expectations call for sending 12 Liberals from B.C. next time around, which would still be more than any election since 1968.
Is Mario Dumont backpedalling?

So says Lysiane Gagnon about the Golden Boy of Québec politics. The veteran Québec scribe notes that the Action Démocratique's du Québec's flat-tax idea, praised so strongly by the Canadian right, has been reduced from being an "objective" to just a concept; but tax breaks for the middle class are still on. That much makes Dumont's fiscal stand seem really close to... Jean Charest and the Québec Liberals.

Private, non-Catholic school vouchers, another idea championed by the various think tanks, not to mention the National Post editorial pages? Nah, not for now, and not without some small-scale trials.

What's up here? Wasn't Mario Dumont, the 32-year-old Knight of the Right, going to be the one to offer Québecois a genuine state-ablating alternative to the two old-line Québec political parties? Seems that he's been getting painted by the aforementioned Charest as one who favours the rich and gives not a whit for the rest of Québec. That's not too tough, really. A reading of the ADQ's platform (PDF format) (en français) shows it to be the most right-wing of all the major Québec political parties; Gagnon opines that it's to the right of the Canadian Alliance (at least on economic matters.)

CBC newsguru Larry Zolf seems to believe something similar to Charest's message; he writes that, from what he can tell, Mario Dumont has offered nothing to the poor and nearly-poor of Québec.

Damn, and there hasn't even been an election call in La Belle Province yet! This oughta be good politics-watchin'!

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Queen drops puck, audience swoons

Saturday, October 05, 2002

Jane Taber's Ottawa Notebook

from The Globe and Mail

The usual littled tidbits, and one that's just way too good to pass up: the return of firebrand Canadian Alliance apparatchik Ezra Levant! The pugulistic ex-press secretary to digraced ex-Alliance leader Stockwell Day is back at it, raising funds for a run at a new Parliamentary seat in Calary in the next federal election. Levant, in the few months that he was Day's mouthpiece, maqnaged to burn more bridges, file more lawsuits, and have more lawsuits threatened against him than likely any PR flack in Ottawa history. He's outrageous, brash, extremely ideological, prone to libel and slander, and... Godalmighty I love the little bastard.

He'll liven up the Hill tremendously if he is successful in winning election to parliament in the future. He'll also be the best friend the Liberals ever had.

When you get someone like Ezra calling you every nasty thing in the world, you've got it made.

Of course, he's got his fans: Calgary Sun mouth-breather Paul Jackson, the disgraced Stockwell Day, the Alberta Report, and this little gem:

"Ezra made his decision to put his political interests on hold because it was the right thing to do, but we can't allow Ezra to stay out of politics indefinitely," Matthew Johnston, a Levant organizer, said in his letter inviting people to the [fund-raising] events.

"He's just too valuable to our party and our movement."

That's the same Matthew Johnston who was the man posing as Alliance MP Rahim Jaffer on "Warren on the Weekend" last year. That little gaffe put egg on Jaffer's face, and cost Johnston his job as Jaffer's constituency assistant...
Ever heard of "Snake Pitts?"

No? Turns out that that was one of the nicknames earned by the woman who already believes herself to be the Mayor of Vancouver, the former Jennifer Brunsdale Pitts of Shaughnessy; now known as Jennifer Clarke. She picked it up during the years that she worked at CBC British Columbia... read more. This story is from the Scrum's pals at the Vancouver Courier.

One little detail -- Jennifer Clarke still has to win the 2002 civic election to become the mayor, where she is facing strong competition from former coroner Larry Campbell and Better Business Bureau mouthpiece Valerie MacLean.

Clarke's media handlers have also mistakenly referred to her as "the Mayor." This was in evidence at the recent Non-Partisan Association (NPA) nomination meeting, where your humble scribe was told that he should not "pin the Mayor between yourself and the wall when asking her questions." C'mon, there was three feet of space between her back and the curtain! And if she doesn't like being scrummed, might I humby suggest that she get used to it if she wants to be Mayor. The Vancouver Scrum was also told that "the Mayor is very busy tonight (Wednesday) and to please arrange for another time for an interview."
Funny thing is, the Mayor wasn't actually there; he was conspicuous by not only his absence, but also the absence of any reference to the Mayor by almost everyone at the NPA love-in. Quite odd, when one considers that the Mayor has been involved with the NPA for decades.

The Mayor is still, despite his recent invisibility, Philip Owen. Owen, you may recall, was effectively forced out of the Mayor's chair earlier this year when NPA directors supportive of Clarke ruled that Owen would have to defend his mayoral nomination if he wanted to run again. Owen would be at a disadvantage; Clarke had been organizing a run for the mayor's chair for over a year. The NPA support in the Gastown and Chinatown businesscommunity also was tiring of Owen and his stance on the city's approach to hard drugs; Clarke was much more to their liking.

The actual Mayor has not yet endorsed any candidates or political parties in this fall's election.

A thank-you to...

The Republic of East Vancouver, Vancouver's opinionated newspaper. They've tossed the Scrum into their media digest, praising the coverage of local politics, and referring to this site as a "blog with an attitude." Oddly enough, I've been trying to tone down my attitude when I post here...

and to, for an inclusion on their links page.
Whatever you do, don't do anything that could possibly interfere with the oilpatch... coming out in favour of the Kyoto Protocol. Dr. David Swann, the former public-health officer of the Palliser Health Region in southeastern Alberta has found this one out the hard way.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

I've just returned from the meeting that produced these results:

2002 Vancouver Civic Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Nominees

City Council

Vern Campbell (former VPD officer)
Cheryl Chang (lawyer)
Peter Ladner (Business in Vancouver founder, editor)
Janet Leduc (consultant)
BC Lee (businessperson)
Don Lee (incumbent)
Sandy McCormick (incumbent)
Sam Sullivan (incumbent)
George Puil (incumbent)
Duncan Wilson (former Parks Commissioner and board chair)

School Board

Bill Brown (incumbent)
John Cheng (incumbent)
Ken Denike (incumbent)
Debbie Desroches-Fulton
Angelle Desrochers-Rosner
Elyn Dobbs
Ted Hunt (incumbent)
Richard T. Lee (lawyer)
Cherie Payne (lawyer)

Parks Board

Suzanne Anton (former prosecutor)
Allan DeGenova (incumbent)
Clarence Hansen (incumbent)
Ian Haywood-Farmer (retired)
Dianne Ledingham (incumbent)
Laura MacDiarmid (incumbent)
Christopher Richardson (incumbent)
There were four unsuccessful city council candidates: former Musqueam chief and 2001 BC Liberal candidate Gail Sparrow, Vancouver School Board chair Barbara Buchanan, lawyer and urban planner David Fushtey, and current school trustee Bill Yuen. All of the party's 2002 school board candidates were acclaimed; human resources consultant Robert Haines failed in his bid to win a parks board nomination.

Looks like you'll have George Puil to kick around for a while yet... but at least he seems to enjoy the kicking, in his own weird way. He admits that there is no good reason for him to run for council again (he might have been joking; it's so hard to tell) except that it does get him out of the house and out of the wife's hair. Take it for what you will.

Puil, incidentally, admitted some responsibility for the 2001 Vancouver bus strike, but said that he and his councilmates had no choice but to take the action that they did.

The right-leaning civic party had already nominated current city councillor Jennifer Clarke as its mayoral candidate earlier this year.

In her speech to the NPA faithful, Jennifer Clarke criticized her two main mayoral opponents for a lack of experience, saying that "you can't decide on Monday to become Mayor on Friday." She also claimed that she had never actually met any of her mayoral rivals with the exception of Marc Emery, who apparently frequently comes down to city hall to talk about his favourite issue.

Clarke later clarified her statement to mean that she had never seen either Larry Campbell or Valerie MacLean at any civic function.

She doesn't seem to take to media scrums well, though; she scurried off at the suggestion of one.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Onetime Mulroney chief of staff Norman Spector takes a typically thoughtful look at the inconsistecies of those who are for Canada implementing its Kyoto commitments, those against it, those who want to invade Iraq, those who don't...

It's food for thought from one of Canada's better political commentators -- of any political stripe.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Is this thing on?

Yes, it is.

Good. Expect news tomorrow from the Vancouver Civic Non-Partisan Association's (NPA) nomination meeting tomorrow night. Thirty-one candidates will vie for city council, school board, and parks board nomination on the right-leaning party's slate.

An NPA nomination has meant a nearly-guaranteed spot in city govbernment for the last three elections; other candidates have won only a handful of seats on any of the civic governing bodies in that time. The party has dominated civic politics since 1986, when current B.C. premier Gordon Campbell was first elected Mayor of Vancouver. In 1996, the NPA completed a clean sweep, winning the Mayor's chair, along with every seat on city council, the Vancouver School Board, and the Parts Board.

Things are not so rosy this year for the establishment party; their traditional foes on the left, the Coalition of Progressive Electors are re-invigorated this time around, and have a serious and well-respect mayoral candidate in former chief coroner Larry Campbell. However, the presure doesn't stop there. Former NPA members, led by former civic officials Art Cowie and Nancy Chiavaro, have broken away from the NPA to start a new centrist party, the Vancouver Civic Action Team (vcaTEAM.) The new party is aiming for a more socially progressive city government with less regulation of day-to-day business.

Many former NPA supporters were also displeased with the way that current mayor Philip Owen was forced out of the Parly by new mayoral nominee Jennifer Clarke, who is rumoured to have gained support by opposing the city's "four-pillar" (prevention, treatment, enforcement, harm reduction) drug strategy. Owen was a champion of the four-pillar approach, and while it won him praise from public health officials and social activists, it also earned him the ire of his own party's right wing. The hard feelings haven't yet settled; Owen has not yet said whether or not he'll support the NPA in this civic election.

To compound the problem, the NPA has still lost some of its support on the right. Chinese Benevolent Association vice-president George Chow has already announced that he'll run as an independent council candidate. Chow is displeased with the idea of harm reduction, and has pledged to follow a law-and-order agenda. Chow's focus has support in the influential Chinatown business community, a traditional supporter of the NPA. Other Chinatown activists are said to be considering a run for either mayor or councillor.

While the NPA is still the strongest civic party in Vancouver, their lead over the rest of the pack is not what it once was; the election will be the most competitive in half a generation.
G&M columnist John Ibbitson
doubts that anything in yesterday's Throne Speech will see the light of day
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