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, June 23, 2003

I'm back!

3 stories worth having a look at today...

In Canadian politics, federal privacy commissioner George Radwanski has stepped down after several days of pressure surrounding his expense account. Radwanski's expensive taste in hotels , food, and booze probably isn't what killed him; it was the fact that he tried to hide the real bill from Parliament.

Unfortunately for Canadians, Radwanski's downfall means that they have lost one of the fiercest advocates for their personal privacy. He was one of the few people who was willing to warn against the excesses of anti-terror laws enacted in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 -- a time when too many people were willing to cede the State powers of search and surveillance that would ordinarily be considered unacceptable.

Radwanski's personal excess should not make his criticisms of an intrusive government any less valid. I fear, though, that some interests whom Radwanski has been critical of (law enforcement and their organized lobby, Customs, and those who advocate ever more registries and databases on Canadians) will use his downfall as an opportunity to rubbish his arguments.

Here's hoping that the next privacy commissioner is just as much of a hawk as the recently-departed commissioner.

Meanwhile. B.C.'s "Smoking Judge" Mary Southin has made the news once again over some smokable substance. Southin wrote in a recent judgment that she does not believe marijuana violations to be as serious as they were once seen to be.

Seems that she had some harsh words for Parliamentarians who defend the old laws, too.

"I have not yet abandoned my conviction that Parliament has a constitutional right to be hoodwinked, as it was in the 1920s and 1930s by the propaganda against marijuana, and remain to be hoodwinked."

Never let it be said that members of the judiciary can't pull off the occasional zinger in their reasons for judgment.

Southin was last in the news when it was revealed that her chambers had been refitted with a special ventilation system to allow her to smoke in her chambers. B.C. taxpayers had to cough up close to $19,000 for the retrofit to satisfy the self-described inveterate smoker.

Of course it took the Canadian Alliance's numero uno self-promoter, Randy White, no time at all to scream bloody murder over the ruling. No doubt White was angered by any suggestion that the laws on Mary Jane are irrationally draconian. White, for those readers unfamiliar with his past record, thinks that former U.S. drug czar and recently disgraced public scold William Bennett was a bit of a wet on the whole drugs thing.

White has long defended the right of elected officials, not judges, to make drug policy. Then again, he also hasn't been above criticizing his fellow elected pols over the decision to decriminalize marijuana. He also warned Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell not to go ahead with a series of harm-reduction initiatives to deal with the city's injection drug problem.

Never mind the fact that White's constituency is nowhere near Vancouver culturally, and only somewhat close geographically, and that the people of Vancouver voted in their new civic government by a sizable majority. The rules about elected officials making those decisions are different here, you must understand. The fools in the City of Vancouver (including your correspondent) can't be trusted to elect their governments, and our government needs the wisdom of Randy White.

If that's the case, then maybe Randy should have stood for election in Vancouver in 2002, and let the people of Vancouver decide on the merits of his ideas for a drug strategy. Five dollars says that Randy and Company wouldn't have done too well in the big bad city.

Grandstanding over principle, eh. That just about sum it up, Randy?

Finally in media news, the bilious voice of knuckle-dragging Alberta conservatism is no more. The magazine best known as the Alberta Report is going to cease publication, mainly for financial reasons. Seems that there weren't enough advertisers and subscribers to keep the darned thing afloat.

My goodness -- it appears that the magazine that promoted the primacy of the free market in matters economic (and some sort of conservative Protestantism in matters social) has been given the middle finger by Adam Smith's invisible hand.

Maybe they should have kept on sucking on the federal teat after all. Say what, you say? Until earlier this year, the Report was getting nearly $400,000 annually from Heritage Canada's Publications Assistance Program. In other words, a magazine that regularly derided government support of the arts and culture through grants was... a recipient of a sizable grant designed to support Canadian publications. Earlier this year, the Report's owners announced that they were no longer going to take the grant money -- in part to appear less hypocritical.

So for now, we in the media biz bid adieu to the finishing school for many of Canada's conservative journalists, writers, and opinion-mongers.

Citizens Centre press release announcing that the fill-in-the-appropriate-name Report has pulished its last.

Reactions: Report senior editor and blogtopia celeb Colby Cosh gives his quick take on the end of the Report and his new status as a freelance journalist. Given Cosh's tremendous output (and skills at research and putting together readable pieces), I suspect that he'll be in decent stead. Perhaps the National Post could use a new columnist, now that Christie Blatchford's jumped ship to the Globe and Mail? Hey, there's also pogey, and surely one's employer folding is a decent reason to submit an unemployment claim.

Apologies for the absence. Blame a busy schedule and the excellent weather in Vancouver over the last four weeks. When it's this nice out, the last thing that I want to do is sit around indoors and stare at some computer screen blogging. Maybe if I had a laptop and unlimited high-speed wireless Internet... a guy can dream, can't he?
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