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

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Curious Logic

This story speaks volumes about the drones proud Americans rushing out to buy the book Unfit for Command, an anti-John Kerry screed recently in the news.

NEW YORK – The nation’s two biggest bookstore chains, Barnes & Noble and Borders, say angry customers are accusing them of political bias as the retailers struggle to keep up with demand for a best seller that questions John Kerry’s military service in Vietnam.

“Unfit for Command,” which went on sale Aug. 11 with a first printing of 85,000, will have 550,000 copies in print by next week, according to Regnery Publishing…

“The misunderstanding among customers seems to be that we are somehow taking an ideological stand,” Borders spokeswoman Jenie Dahlmann said Tuesday. “We would gladly sell the book, but … can’t get an adequate supply.”

Okay, let me get this straight: when both the retailer and publisheer underestimate the buzz and subsequent demand for a book, it’s prima facie evidence of bias? The persection complex among some conservative true-believers is even weirder than I thought. On the other hand, you’ve got liberals saying that B&N and Borders shouldn’t sell the book becuase it’s a hatchet job. Yecch.

I haven’t blogged much on the 2004 presidential eleciton down south; I suspect it’s because it’s kind of distant, especially compared to up-close look at the recent Canadian election that I enjoyed. Nonetheless, I point you to a couple of tidbits realted to the flim-flam over what John Kerry did or didn’t do in Vietnam.

Okay, and one last question: If quesitons raised by a bunch of career critics of Kerry’s is enough to render him unfit for office, then what about the giant gaps in Dubya’s service in the Champagne Squadron where he courageously defended Texas from Louisiana?

Jes’ askin’, thas’ all.

Saturday, August 14, 2004


Link Pruning

Yes, I realise that fiddling with the blogroll is probably not a high proprity given that I really should be working on this thing so that you can read my drivel there rather than here. Nonetheless, I draw your attention to three new adds in the "Canucks" section -- the excellent Tilting at Windmills, and two with Bell Globemedia conections: CTV web journo and info-scout extraordinaire Bill Doskoch's new blog, and Living Can Kill You from web producer Craig Saila. I've also pulled the links to CanWest Global provincial-affairs columnists Vaughn Palmer, Mike Smyth, and Les Leyne. This decision has nothing to do with politics, but rather that their material is now subscriber-only, and if you subscribe to either the Province, Sun, or Times-Colonist, you don't need my help to find their stuff.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Hack Turns Flack

Let the sniping begin: CBC Radio senior parliamentary reporter Susan Murray has crossed over to the Dark Side to become communications director for public works minister – and fellow Bluenoser – Scott Brison.

Murray, a pit-bull questioner on air and in the scrums, was positively gushing over the new boss.

“I think the only person who could have enticed me away from the CBC is Scott,” she said. “Of all the politicians I’ve met – and I was a correspondent in Washington … he really wants to do a job.

“He really wants to do something. I find him a rising star on the political scene in Canada, and I guess, bluntly, I don’t mind tying my star to his. And I think he is going to go places, in a very positive sense. And not just politically in a public-service sense.”

Exit Strategy

One way-out story from New Jersey today, where state governor James McGreevey has resigned after admitting to having had an extra-marital affair with another man.

The previously well-in-the-closet guv’nah, now on his second wife, was elected in 2001, replacing Christine Todd Whitman, who joined the Bush administration as its normally-ignored EPA administrator.

McGreevey, 47, refused to answer questions at the Statehouse news conference. He said that “it makes little difference that as governor I am gay,” but added that staying in office and keeping the affair and his sexual orientation secret will leave the governor’s office “vulnerable to rumors, false allegations and threats of disclosure.”

“Given the circumstances surrounding the affair and its likely impact upon my family and my ability to govern, I have decided the right course of action is to resign,” he said.

Yeah, namely that the religious right and its apparats in the state legislature would dog him relentlessly and skewer his proposals not because they came from a Democrat, but from a Sodomite™. Or maybe not. Not all had been well in McGreevey’s professional life. The Washington Post’s William Branigin points out that rather different indiscretions from the governor’s bagmen and hangers-on were making his life miserable.

In recent weeks, the governor, who took office in January 2002, has been plagued by allegations of unethical financial activities by associates, Washington Post staff writer Michael Powell reported.

One of his prominent fundraisers, a trash hauler, was recently indicted on charges of extorting bribes and campaign contributions from a Middlesex County farmer. Then, another top political donor, a wealthy developer, was charged with trying to derail a federal investigation of his finances by hiring prostitutes to seduce witnesses, including his brother-in-law.

In addition, the state commerce secretary resigned after it was revealed that he funneled contracts to the sister of his chief of staff. And McGreevey’s former chief of staff is under investigation for getting contracts to put up billboards on public land while he was running the governor’s campaign.

A convenient basis for resignation replacing an embarrassing one? Shurely not!

There’s a local connection to all this kerfuffle, and we’re not talking about a certain once-closetted Member of Parliament who also recently left office.

A Roman Catholic, McGreevey had a daughter with his first wife, Kari, who lives in British Columbia with the child. He has another daughter with his current wife. McGreevey spokesman Micah Rasmussen declined to answer any questions about the future of McGreevey’s marriage.

Worth chasing that angle? I suppose so.

(via Yahoo, Washington Post)

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Terminal City: Tune Out... Way Out

From last week’s Terminal City, a column on the network TV tune-out from the Democratic National Convention, and a big yawn-out to the blogs. Unlike some other critics, I happen to think that the nets were right to skip over the conventions now that no actualy news comes from ‘em.

Coming up in tomorrow’s paper, a snarky look at the shake-ups at both the Province and the Georgia Straight. Both of their editors-in-chief left for greener papers pastures in the same week; the Province’s Vivienne Sosnowski to the San Francisco Examiner; Beverley Sinclair moved crosstown to bourgeois-bohemian monthly Shared Vision.

Keep diggin' that Hole, Randy

Q: What do you call a guy who consents to be interviewed for a documentary, knowing that what he says will be controversial; signs a release, and then tries to backtrack with the help of lawyers after the shit hits the fan?

A: Randy White.

The Abbotsford MP’s strongly worded comments against same-sex marriage, recorded for the upcoming documentary Let No One Put Asunder, caused trouble for his Conservative party in the last week of the federal election campaign. No wonder—he was representing his own position as being reflective of his own party’s even as the Conservatives were doing everything they could to appear moderate on social issues.

White has since been trying to get his appearance edited out of the doc—after the comments had already aired and caused all the political damage that they could. This, despite the fact that he had already signed a release allowing the interview to be used, according to filmmaker Alexis Mackintosh

“It was very clear and he did sign a release stating that we could use [the interview] in the document. All the politicians and people interviewed all signed a release,” she said. She said questions on same sex, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were asked two or three times.

“We made it clear we were asking for his personal point of view and his party’s point of view and he said they were the same,” Mackintosh said. White’s views were in contrast, however, to the more moderate image the Conservative Party was trying to create during the election campaign and party spokespeople have since tried to distant themselves, saying White’s comments were not the party’s viewpoint.

Well, to heck with his word, eh?

Mackintosh is going ahead with the film as planned ; it’ll debut Saturday at the Out On Screen film festival (like you were expecting anything else?) Yes, a panel discussion will follow the film, but White won’t be participating. Neither will any other same-sex marriage opponents, unfortunately.

UPDATE: More on White from the CBC

Monday, August 09, 2004


Messy, Greasy, Necessary

Terminal City colleague Heather Watson is developing Poutina, a site devoted to serving up “unhealthy gossip for Canadian tastes.” That alone should be enough to send you there. Not yet officially launched, but complete enough to point to.

That ain't news, bub

The Vancouver Sun never ceases to amaze. Once again, the city’s purported paper of record decides to make its own news and give it some serious play rather than actually go and and find it. Apparently, a website poll on people’s reaction to Svend Robinson’s conviction and sentencing for theft over $5,000 is worthy of page three. (Of course, it’s hidden behind the subscriber firewall.)

The Sun’s informal survey asked: “What would you have sentenced him to?”

While 607 responses would have put him in jail, 531 proposed lesser punishments.

Of those who would have put him behind bars, 351 called for six months and 256 demanded the maximum penalty of 10 years.

Of those keeping him out of jail, 270 agreed with the judge’s conditional discharge, 61 called for an absolute discharge, and 200 would have given a suspended sentence.

A number of respondents were angry about the sentence.

Here’s a better question: is the opinion of web poll respondents, especially in this case, worth anything more than a pitcher of warm piss? Most of the participants don’t know all the facts of the case, or what the range of sentences for the crime are, or how judges take into account aggravating and mitigating factors. Instead, you’re going to get a bunch of knee-jerkers who are almost always going to think that someone convicted of a crime “got off lightly,” especially if it’s a prominent politician.

That goes double for Svend. Let’s be honest: someone’s view of Robinson’s fate is going to be shaped by their politics. The guy’s a polarizing figure, and when he stole the ring, returned it, and stepped away from politics (never say retired with Svend), it was old foes like the Byfield family and the Province’s editorialists who were the first to call for the guy’s head.

In other words, the poll, and the Sun story thereon, is meaningless. Yes, I realise that I sound like a snob for preferring the opinions of legalists over the common man. So be it. From the same story, the opinion of an actual lawyer.

In a telephone interview, Vancouver criminal lawyer Bob Kincaid said a conditional sentence is fairly common for first-time shoplifters, but less so for crimes involving theft over $5,000.

“It’s not typical, but it’s not unusual to see that someone would get a conditional discharge,” he said.

“Any reasonable person not grinding some political axe, but just looking at this as a dispassionate observer, would look at this person and say if anyone deserves a discharge, it’s him.”

Which outweighs the ravings of all the web-poll clickers, right-wing ranters, and yack-radio callers put together.


Saturday, August 07, 2004



Get ready for the new move!

UPDATE, 12:00 AM: An explanation is in order, I suppose. Just as Blogger has become sufficiently rich in features to make me almost wanna stick with it, I've decided to go with a real content management system, lovingly crafted in the south of France by a Vancouver expat. As such, I've been dumping content out of this site and attempting to import it to the new site, which you can take a peek at over here. Beware: There is no real design or layout over at the new site; no linkroll, no backlinks. Expect those to show up sometime this week after some graphics and CSS futzing. (Might also be nice for the new domain name -- -- to actually propagate through the nameservers...) For now, all there is is enough CSS to ensure that text stays where it should.

I'll continue to store existing postings on Blogspot indefinitely. Most new articles will be published here and at the new site for a while while I work out the bugs at the new site. Formal move to the new site will come later this month.

Oh, Barbarella

She may need to pick up a few new gigs to satisfy that extravagance that knows no bounds…

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


We don't need no Chinese wall

Former federal environment minister David Anderson blamed his firing, in part, on a camapign by the oil lobby and its allies in the editorial boards of the Calgary Herald and National Post. Herald editorialist Charles Frank disputes that, claiming that his efforts at getting bums tossed out of high positions is pretty poor. He then drops this gem about the paper's anti-Anderson campaign.
Yes, we did give the former minister a rough ride over his determination (along with that of his boss, former prime minister Jean Chretien) to have Canada sign the fatally flawed Kyoto Accord.

But given what was -- and still is -- at stake (the economic well-being the nation, for starters) someone had to stand up and point out that the government at the very least, was obligated to let Canadians know the personal and financial costs of implementing an agreement like Kyoto.


And while my colleagues on the editorial board and the news pages [emphasis added] were often caught up in the battle to help Canadians receive a true picture of what signing on to Kyoto might mean for all of us, I have to confess that I was among the most strident critics of the former minister.

Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to take credit for Anderson's demise as an officer of the government, my track record at getting important people fired during my career suggests otherwise.
Ah, the band of brothers that is the editorialists and reporters, arm in arm, fighting the anti-Kyoto fight! But wait a second; what happened to the separation between the boardroom and newsroom -- otherwise known as the "chinese wall" that allows reporters to do their job (gather and present facts in a reasonably fair way) while allowing the opinion-mongers to do theirs without poisoning or slanting the paper's reporting. Frank has implied that this wall's been torn down, and the news articles on Kyoto were shaped to reinforce the editorial board's stance.

So, either we've got a bullying lot of editorialists at the Herald who are telling the staff how to report on certain stories (translation: don't screw with the energy industry) or, worse, a newsroom staff that have turned at least part of their reportage into editorializing passed off as news. This is fine in an opinion journal, but not in a newspaper. Kinda reinforces the old prejudices about the Herald being the weak sister in the old Southam (now CanWest) newspaper chain.

AND ANOTHER THING: When, oh when, will McGill's Observatory on Media and Public Policy's final reports on the election coverage of seven of the country's dailies, including the Herald, hit the web? They posted daily summaries through June 25th, but no final report, nor a paper-by paper breakdown similar to the very instructive one published in mid-campaign, which showed how each how each party fared and the mix between campaign-related news and op-eds in each paper. (PDF) In that report, OMPP's researchers found that the Herald and National Post were both the most negative of the seven papers surveyed when it came to the Liberals (the Herald, in fact had no articles portraying the Grits in a positive light, but plenty of Conservative-friendly pieces), and the most favourable to the Conservatives. That part's not surprising; both the Herald and Post tilt to the right side of the spectrum. Where they differ is in the mix of opinion pieces to reports; the Post's election coverage was made up mostly of opinion through the survey period, while the Herald split 68% news to 28% opinion. The Vancouver Sun, which had about the same news/opinion mix, was much closer to being neutral overall towards both major parties, despite having its own squad of conservative editorialists and a national-affars columnist (Berbara Yaffe) who has been generally supportive of both the Conservatives and its progenitor Reform and Allaince parties.

Reports, opinions, columns, and anything else on this site, are © 2002-2003 Ian King unless otherwise noted. Permission granted to use material on this site for non-commercial purposes provided that the work is attributed to the original author. All other uses require specific permission of the original author. Contact weblog owner with any inquiries.

Feel free to link to this web log. The management likes getting lots of traffic.