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

Friday, November 28, 2003



Mike Sugimoto puts on the warblogger voice and speculates how someone live-blogging his own heart attack would read. Pretty damn funny.

Might want to clip that one for the inevitable day that the real event shows up on the Internet.

Daily Sophistry

Larry Spencer must the best friend a Liberal strategist can have.

Google delayed is...

Despite this story about a certain Canadian Alliance MP arguing that homosexuality should be outlawed, the Google searches

"larry spencer" homophobe

"larry spencer" bigot

return nothing at all. That'll change soon enough.

Meanwhile, some reax to the NDP electing Carole James as leader: Georgia Straight newsman Charlie Smith says that cynical hacks are underestimating her abilities and appeal. Okay, perhaps if people are looking for yet another politico spouting insubstantialities, sure. After all, she makes like a soccer mom! Oooh! The Legions of Handwringers unite! Meanwhile, my man Brian Salmi thinks she's space filler. I fired off this blase dispatch to Terminal City after the weekend exercise in somnabulism that was the NDP convention. Lest you think that I'm being nasty or anything, it could have been worse. I could have written nothing about the convention, opting instead for a happily chauvinistic Ode Upon the Ass of [BC NDP prez] Maura Parte instead of about what was going on at the Howard Hughes Hotel. So there.

Ah, the exquisite bitchiness of being up late and watching Family Guy!

(And was it just me, or were you also caught off guard by the other day's National Post editorial wishing for Family Guy's return? I just can't imagine Matthew Fraser sniggering his ass off at Peter Griffin's lovable idiocy...)

Thursday, November 20, 2003


NDP Leadership Stuff

Though I haven't written anything on this site about the 2003 BC NDP leadership convention, I will be kicking around the place this weekend as part of my media gadfly-ing. It's been a low profile deal compared to conventions past, with the reward being the opportunity to rebuild a party that was pulverized 30 months ago. Not much fun, and no power to the winner for the foreseeable future.

Talk is that the two frontrunners are former Nanaimo-Parksville MLA Len Krog, and onetime Victoria School Board muckymuck Carole James, who lost her bid for a Victoria seat be a few dozen votes in 2001. James seems to have a lot of the institutional and union support, while Krog's got the backing of ex-premier Dave Barrett. Newcomer Nils Jensen, who wants to steer the party towards the political centre, is said to be in third. Jensen -- who once sought an Ontario Liberal nomination -- has picked up endorsements from former premier Dan Miller and onetime Minister of Everything Paul Ramsey, who was one of the most competent ministers in the NDP governments of the 1990s. The other candidates, former MLA Steve Orcherton, restaurant worker Mehdi Najari, and Vancouver consultant Pete Dimitrov, are out on the fringes.

Vancouver Sun forestry reporter Gordon Hamilton has put together a comprehensive feature in today's Sun. Not much I can add to his work, except to agree with the concerns that James lacks the toughness to go head-to-head with premier Gordon Campbell. On the other hand, there's no doubt about Krog's scrappiness -- whether he can keep it under control is another question. The Kroginator's got a temper, that's for sure.

Wanna read more from the inside? Check out onetime MLA David Schreck's StrategicThoughts site, with ideas and comments on the race stretching back for months. You can also hop over to the various candidates' websites from there.

For my money, the best site is Krog's. When it was launched, it was a thin, bare bones affair. The new site is well designed, not overly flashy, and updated any time the Krog name appears in print, on line, or on air. Compare that to Carole James's site, which hasn't changed much since early October, and you get the idea.

Obligatory Blackout

Were you wondering jsut how the board of Hollinger International allowed now ex-CEO Conrad Black get away with taking noncomepte fees from other companies as if they were his own? A look at the Hollinger board of directors tells the story quite well.

Monday, November 10, 2003



Torontonians, your long municipal nightmare is finally over.

(Translation: David Miller won the mayoral election tonight. Imagine that -- a mayor who might be seen as respectable. Shocking, I tell you!)

CBC Toronto has a backgrounder on Mayor Mel's career, plus an a/v vault for your amusement. No montage of Lastman's greatest gaffes, though. Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail's web site may well have some stories on the Ontario municipal elections, but it's taking forever to respond.

Predicted T.O. blogger reactions:

Brett Lamb: All right!
Andrew Spicer: Yahoo!
Warren Kinsella: Damn!
Micheal Wilson: Drat!
Others: Like I'd know? What, you think that I spend most of my day reading Web logs?


Blogger's spell-checker does not have the word "blogger" in its dictionary.

Booze News

An item from yesterday's Province says that the provincial government is slightly increasing the "wholesale discount" given to B.C.'s private liquor retailers. Don't expect the price of booze at a cold beer and wine or private liquor store to drop, though. You can chalk that up to the Campbell government's monumentally flawed attempt to change the way booze is sold in this province.

Here's a recap:

Back the day, the BC Liberals promised to get out of the liquor retail racket. The idea seemed a good one. Government liquor stores, aside from flagship outlets like the Cambie Street store in Vancouver, aren't pleasant places. Selection, while better than it was ten years ago, is still spotty. There was also the question of price, and whether a private operator could sell liquor for less by using low-wage employees, compared to the $19/hour that a government liquor store employee gets. The government's friends cheered, and only the B.C. Government Employees' Union objected -- which suited the Liberals just fine.

The idea (or so we thought) was that private stores would be allowed to sell all types of alcohol, and that they'd be able to compete on price, service, selection, or what-have-you. Victoria would shut down the government-owned liquor stores over the span of a few years. At the end, you'd have free competition, a thousand flowers would bloom, selection would be better, hours would be more convenient, and so forth. A drinker's paradise.

Yeah, right.

First off, Premier Gordon Campbell handled the booze file over to Rick Thorpe. It seemed like a good choice; Thorpe was once a Molson salesman. He's also a hothead who managed to alienate half the stakeholders in the liquor trade while hashing out a plan to get the government out of the liquor trade. Press on, though. When the plan was finally made public, it was half-baked. Not anyone could open a liquor store; only hotel and neighbourhood pubs would be given this privilege. (That might have been a concession to the pub operators, who weren't pleased about new rules allowing restaurants to serve drink without food, effectively allowing them to compete with pubs.)

Already, the dream of picking up some beer or wine with your groceries was dashed. It gets worse. Private liquor retailers wouldn't be allowed to undercut government store prices. So much for the promise of lower prices -- but wait, privatization proponents like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said that we'd get lower prices through competition! Oops. Not that a private store operator would be able to undercut the government stores, either: they'd have to buy their stock from the government at 90% of the retail price. The new stores would have to be small -- only 2,000 square feet of floor space. That's not enough to offer a wide selection. Suddenly, privatization looked less appealing.

That didn't keep pub owners from opening up liquor stores under the new rules. For pubs that already had a cold beer and wine outlet, it was just a matter of adding hard liquor to the inventory. Other places, like the Windsor Hotel in New Westminster, set about renovating their places to accommodate a liquor store. It was a worthwhile investment, or so it seemed. Once the local government liquor store shut down, they'd have to buy from you. The new stores were unimpressive: small, lousy selection, and they charged about 15% more than the government stores on any give product.

Meanwhile, the government was backflipping and twisting. Premier Gordon Campbell relieved Rick Thorpe of the liquor file, giving the responsibility from the mess over to Solicitor General Rich Coleman. The rules about store size changed: a private store could now have 6,000 square feet of retail space. There was also a bit of backroom dealing between the government and the employees' union on a deal that would save the government stores... which did pan out. Last month, the government did a 180 and announced that government liquor stores wouldn't close, after all. Oops. As for the bar owners that sunk thousands of dollars into adding liquor retail to their places, they were pissed off something fierce. This new discount on their wholesale price is small consolation for getting snookered by Campbell and Company.

Bad, bad boy...

Just seen on CBC Newsworld's Politics: Tri-Cities MP James Moore was debating procedural this 'n that about just what Parliament's going to do about a bunch of legislation yet to be passed. He also wasn't wearing his poppy, unlike every other guest on the program. That's a screwup par excellence -- especially as Moore's Canadian Alliance party styles itself more respectful of the military and Canada's veterans. D'oh!

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