Category Archives: British Columbia

We Must Completely Obliterate the BC Liberal Party

School Earthquake Drill During an earthquake drill

The provincial government has told the Vancouver School Board it will not fund any more seismic upgrades unless it agrees to close schools.

Source: Some parents fuming over BC Ministry of Education decision – NEWS 1130

What kind of premier threatens to withhold seismic upgrading funds until the school board closes schools?

What kind of person does that.

Is it blackmail? A slow motion hostage-taking?

What kind of analogy could you come up with to rationalize this?

I’m at a loss.

This is a new level of disturbing, even for the BC Liberals.

So. Go read the title again.

Christy Clark’s Next Megaproject and Elon Musk

Monday, BC Premier Christy Clark will unveil her new economic action [!] plan for the next BC megaproject sector.

Fresh from the announcements of the soon to be massively successful LNG job fair this month, the BC premier announced that Elon Musk will be a key investor in the new BC Unicorn Ranching sector.

Beaming, the premier announced that the next big thing is that Unicorn Ranching will take the Pacific Rim by storm, bringin’ a wave of prosperity like nothing we’ve ever seen, except for LNG.

Projected to bring in $1.01 trillion to BC’s economy over the next 7 generations, it will provide enough tax revenue to build fixed crossings from Steveston to both Gibsons and Sydney, as well as convert all hospitals, government fleet vehicles and private jets, and voucher schools to LNG-powered local ecosystems with sunflower green roofs.

Unicorn Ranching will provide 433,000 net new job years through to the end of the century, allowing us also to create a new graduation stream allowing the equine-inclined to leave school after grade 8 to work full time wrangling and manning new Unicorn Dude Ranches to be situated in key areas near 108 Mile Ranch and Vanderhoof.

Elon Musk may be a key investor.

First Nations consultations will occur at the beginning of the next decade. 2017 Throne Speech talking points are already being developed and Elon Musk, who does ride horses, may have heard of this plan; at least his people have been emailed.

 

Where Are Our Leaders?

Vancouver is all but obscured in this satellite image
Vancouver is all but obscured in this satellite image

It’s fire time in BC.

Real leadership means speaking the words, recognizing facts and realities for people, and saying leader-y kinds of things like empathic comments that reflect understanding, like an acknowledgement that things are changing thus making BC more vulnerable to this huge fire risk, like we have many smart people exploring risks and coming up with plans to make sure this will happen less in the future.

Instead, we have no leaders. They’re silent, on vacation or while in the city [Harper], living the contemptuous life of having so little respect for citizens that they simply refuse to speak about Canadians’ lives and real, imminent fears of forest fires and air quality crises.

October 19, my fellow citizens. That’s when we #HeaveSteve, and two years later in BC.

Why People Hate the Translink Police

Embedded image permalink
Replace “driver” with Translink cop.

I had a hard time reading all the way through this article, the one about Translink cops terrorizing bus passengers on Friday night.

I also had a hard time reading about the two Translink cops found guilty of assault on Friday.

I’m sure it was just a coincidence that they both happened on Friday.

And I find it astonishing that Neil Dubord, the head of the Translink police [or his social media lackeys] would choose to follow my largely apolitical personal Twitter account [unless he also likes Pink Floyd and the Baltimore Orioles].

Also on Friday. More coincidence. Maybe he expected me to weigh in on why people hate his Translink cops. So here goes. Spoiler: it’s because some of them like to assault, bully and terrorize people, over $2.75.

So more broadly, why do people hate the Translink police?

When they cease to be public servants and peace keepers and begin to be terrorists.

In the post-9/11 world when a “democratic” [sic] government in Canada can pass, let alone introduce the fascist Bill C-51, which erodes our constitution, we are all, clearly, far more tolerant of totalitarianism among our authorities.

And let’s not pretend that this is just a problem with America, highlighted with the #BlackLivesMatter instances.

Why do cops assault and beat people?

  1. Those that do may get off on it, the power trip.
  2. They are racists, bigots or violently unhappy people with a desire to destroy others lives.
  3. They are bullies and seek a job that lets them be bullies.
  4. They have a sense of entitlement.
  5. They feel they are immune from the laws that apply to the rest of us in a civilization.
  6. They are rageful, violent people needing to beat up the weak and vulnerable.
  7. They are sociopaths or psychopaths.
  8. They are addicts and not in control of their faculties.
  9. Body armour and guns [and maybe some day dogs too!] make them feel special/powerful.
  10. More ideas?

Do you remember several years ago when someone thought it was a good idea to give guns to Skytrain cops? Largely to enforce $2.75 fares and $173 fare evasion tickets? But really, it’s to shoot the bad guys.

Do you remember someone decided that Translink cops in their cars could enforce a variety of laws far away from transit services? The police and RCMP are contracted to municipalities where there is civilian oversight. The Translink cops are accountable to Translink, which is a puppet of the BC government, which has been staunchly anti-accountable for virtually all of this century.

And remember when someone thought it was a good idea as well to give Skytrain cops attack dogs to hunt down the fare evaders, or sorry, bad guys? Thank all the people who lit their hair on fire about this egregious piece of lunacy; it never happened. But maybe now it will because now, if you are poor and you ask a bus driver for a free ride, and the Translink cops with their guns get on your bus for a fare check, they may beat you up, because of the $2.75 you didn’t have to pay, and because of the $173 fine they believe they are entitled to charge you, and because of the 9+ reasons above.

Then you might see Translink trotting out this terrorism justification bullshit again [emphasis is mine]:

You just have look around the world to see what is taking place and what has been targeted to see what could happen. We already see the dogs in use right here at the airport. I have not heard any protest to that. We move close to 72 million people a year, we owe it to them to do the utmost to protect them.

But when people don’t trust the violent, rageful Translink cops, why would we want them unleashing dogs on us, or the poor, or dude who literally lost his faresaver? What kind of society do we want to live in, anyway?

So, read this careful:

When the driver allows someone to have a free ride, they are not a fare evader. They do not deserve to be taken down on the concrete.

Honk if you agree.

People ask for free rides because they are poor. Many who are poor don’t ask; many who aren’t poor, do. Drivers, I expect, have been given permission to allow free rides to avoid confrontations and escalations, particularly with people who may be dangerous, which is not synonymous with the poor. Seriously, which bus driver wants to escalate and possibly get attacked over $2.75?

So if a transit employee allows someone to get a free ride, why should another transit employee get to beat them up for that.

That’s called a mindfuck. It’s not OK. But why does it happen? See the 9+ reasons above.

And if you’re wondering about one particular reason why a lot of people didn’t vote or voted no in the Translink funding blackmail referendum, it’s because a lot of people think the Translink cops are violent thugs, looking for excuses to bully and attack people.

It’s just that lots of people don’t feel comfortable coming right out and saying that’s why they don’t want to give Translink more money. Even if it’s supposed to go to “good” things, people fear the back door police state will expand with more money. After all, how much do Translink cops make, anyway…all to enforce $2.75 fares? Dozens of them make over $100,000/year.

And before you go all “not all Translink cops are fascist bullies” on me, read about #NotAllMen and save your stupid comments to yourself. I won’t post them here. Life is too short for that; get a grip.

Where is the sense of compassion, dignity and public service these days?

Where are all the Translink cops who believe in protecting, not demeaning the public? And why do they tolerate their peers ruining their reputation?

Who told the Translink cops that a $2.75 fare and a $173 ticket were entitlements to treat other human beings like less than people?

Transit should be free, for these reasons. But it’s not. Yet. And it’s the lifeline for lots of economically struggling and marginalized people. Must it also be a place of dehumanization by our civil authorities themselves?

If the Translink organization is wondering why people hate them, it isn’t just because of Skytrain or escalator breakdowns, or buses that pass us by because they’re full. In the rain. In winter.

In part, it’s because Translink employs cops who like to beat people up. And sensible people think that’s bad, a crime and corrupt.

No one wants to be terrorized on transit. Especially by the police themselves.

Translink is known for crappy note taking and accusations of falsifying evidence, and sometimes has less than reliable recording cameras on vehicles, which makes them all look like a corrupt, dodgy, amateur police force.

So we should take a page out of the #BlackLivesMatter handbook: video record every time you see a Translink cop encounter a person. Every time! Even if nothing illegal or disrespectful happens, make them know that we are all recording them.

All. The. Time. I’m not kidding.

Since they don’t all believe they are servants of the public and keepers of the police, let’s record them all with our smart phones because apparently, they need to learn that they are not above the law.

Let’s Give Green Energy $5.3 Trillion This Year

What fraction of a decade would it take to completely get off fossil fuels [oil, gas, coal] and create a post-carbon energy/transportation infrastructure if the clean, green energy sector were publicly subsidized at $10,000,000 per MINUTE, or $5,300,000,000,000 [yes, that’s $5.3 trillion] for 2015?

Please, I dare you to attack me for the numbers. They don’t come from some tree-hugging enviro-hippie think tank. They come from the spinal fluid of neoliberalism: the IMF.

So, when people say it’s not feasible to get off carbon energy, let them know that worldwide, taxpayers are subsidizing them more than everyone in the world pays for public healthcare.

Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF‘Shocking’ revelation finds $5.3tn subsidy estimate for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments

Source: Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF | Environment | The Guardian

Disaster Tourism at the English Bay Oil Spill

By Emily Griffiths

In the wake of the oil spill a few days ago, I set out this morning with my partner to see the aftermath first hand. I really didn’t want to go, because I don’t enjoy feeling depressed or enraged, but denial isn’t a healthy choice, either.

We arrive at English Bay around noon. It’s almost as if nothing has happened. It’s like any Saturday, folks are just out here, doing their thing; people jog, walk, or cycle along the seawall, a mass of tankers blocks the horizon. We know something’s up, though, as a helicopter hovers by and the Coast Guard passes back and forth in their little boat. A bizarrely D.I.Y. handwritten sign reads “Oil Spill. Area Toxic. Do Not Touch Rocks or Sand. Do Not Go Barefoot” in blue Sharpie. A row of more formalized signs lines the shoreline, providing an official “Water Safety Notice” from The City of Vancouver.

Oil Spill 1.1

A lone Park Ranger in a neon orange windbreaker strolls back and forth across the sand, pausing intermittently to speak to folks wandering by. People are jumping for the chance to share their opinions and concerns regarding the spill, and are happy there’s someone official-looking to engage with. I overhear the Ranger thanking two women for “taking an interest in our beaches.”

There’s not a whole hell of a lot to see here, so we make our way along the seawall towards Stanley Park. En route, we come across a man lining up oil covered rocks on the side of the path. He’s wearing white latex gloves smeared dirty brown with oil. He’s repositioned one of the official signs as part of his display. His name is Jakub Markiewicz and until we ran into him, I was feeling completely powerless in the face of this ugly event. Just by standing here behind a collection of oily rocks, Jakub is asserting himself and his opinions. When I approach him, he is already talking to a group of passerby’s.

Oil Spill 2

Jakub is telling them that even though this is a relatively small spill, the effects will linger in the environment for a long, long time. It is impossible for us to totally “clean up.”

The older woman listening asserts that, since the tankers are so far out, we shouldn’t have to worry about oil washing up on our beaches. She’s clearly one of the Not-In-My-Back-Yard types; folks who remain unconcerned with catastrophe, so long as it doesn’t affect them personally. Who cares about the sea-life and smaller coastal communities?

I can’t help but feel that this spill was inevitable. I’ve been watching the tankers encroach over the past few years, growing in number each season. They assert a sense of foreboding onto the otherwise picturesque landscape. Each tanker can hold up to 300 million liters, hinting at a possibility much worse than a 3,000 liter leak. It’s evident that even 3,000 liters is causing its fair share of destruction.

Further down the seawall, a couple has parked their bikes and decided to create an impromptu art project. Using scraps of cardboard to protect their hands, they gather oil-covered rocks and spell out “STOP HARPER” in the sand.Oil Spill 3

We eventually catch up with the clean-up crews over at Third Beach. When I think of oil spill response and clean up, I think of special technologies separating out oil from water. I expect a large-scale, highly specialized and professional operation. This is not what we find. Instead, there are two white pick-up trucks with HAZ-MAT RESPONSE stenciled on the side and a smattering of volunteers dressed in full body yellow plastic suits with red lifejackets laying specialty paper towels along the rocks. I know these dedicated folks mean well, but how do they confront the futility of wiping off individual rocks with paper towels as multiple tankers float ominously in the background?

Oil Spill 4

A neon orange Park Ranger and a burly police officer supervise the rock scrubbing from a series of nearby park benches. The Ranger asks the cop, “Are you guys here because of protesters?” The cop responds, “We’re just here to make sure these guys can do their job.”

Sure, Friend. Who’s going to stop them?

Oil Spill 5

I get the feeling that this whole “clean-up” thing is little more than a token effort. The Rangers, the police, the yellow-clad cleanup crew, the helicopters, and the Coast Guard boats are only here to make us think that the city/the province/the country is doing something to rectify what’s happened. No doubt the media discussion will soon shift from the poor reaction time to the “success” of the clean-up.

Many of us out here today are outraged by the spill and are looking for a place to direct our energy. A wrong has been committed and we feel the need to do something about it. But what can we do in the face of oil spills, impending pipelines, the Harper Government and the global oil-based economy? Perhaps we can do what the Indigenous Land Defenders are doing, which is frontline direct action. But this comes at a risk of being arrested and charged with terrorism, under the new definition. This is a risk, but without risk, there is no reward. For many of us, it’s much easier to allow our energy to be coopted into volunteer clean-up labour.

Oil Spill 6.2

Vancouver’s Co-Working Co-op Stimulates Worker Empowerment

Coworking gratis? A Verona da settembre!Tuesday night in the back room of The Tipper bar/bistro/restaurant on Kingsway at Victoria we are holding our Inception Meeting for a new kind of co-working space in Vancouver, one structured as a co-op.

You can read about the project in The Georgia Straight piece last week, and on the project webpage at Incipe, the consulting workers’ co-op that is spawning this co-op. Incipe, in-CHEE-pay, is Latin for “Begin!” And you can register for the [free] meeting here. And if you want to be involved and informed, you can sign up for the e-newsletter here.

We will be starting forming the community of people eager to take part in a new way of doing co-working, as equal owners of the whole enterprise instead of clients of for-profit corporate co-working spaces, which are how most of the world’s co-working spaces are run.

But considering the fact that people who work, study, think, research, and volunteer from home are often disempowered and vulnerable, they need support.

So they gravitate to co-working spaces because of possibilities of serendipity and synergy and connecting with people to envision greatness with, over coffee. Because trying to do that in a Starbucks has a slim chance of much success.

But one of the key principles of co-working is to build community. And why do we have communities? To support each other.

And, it turns out, co-ops are all about building community and supporting each other in democratic workplaces within an intentional progressive economic climate.

So there’s a natural fit to building a co-working space that is a co-op. And it’s also natural to convene the space for people who understand this, to get to know one another and start building the community so that we can all assess our collective needs, desires, dreams, visions and capacity for mutual aid and support.

From this, we will do the heavy lifting to find our co-working space.

So, consider how precarious work has become for so many people!

It has been a rough couple generations for working people, with a notable increase in precariousness of work.

Downsizing, contracting out, layoffs, people in the middle of their working lives being flung through the windows of corporate towers only to have a difficult time finding work because employers may prefer to hire much younger people.

And while many people choose the freelance, contractor, entrepreneur consultant lifestyle, many people who’ve been canned are forced into fending for themselves, trying to leverage their skills, training and experience into something useful. They are one form of the precariat: the precarious proletariat.

Others in the precariat class include young people who typically can’t get work in their fields they have trained in, or find corporate or organizational structures grotesquely tyrannical and impediments to optimizing their work-life-activism elements of existence. They end up being precariats too. Our Incipe consulting co-op itself formed out of this very dynamic!

So our goals in creating a co-working co-op space include these:

  1. Helping people work outside their homes.
  2. Helping people have meaningful ownership.
  3. Helping people feel some community in their labouring.
  4. Helping people connect with others who can build synergy with each other.

But one of the most important goals in this whole project is to recognize that workers are disempowered, disconnected and devalued. And to fix that, we need to build support networks for people. And one of the ways to do that is to build a co-working space that is co-operatively owned, just like MEC or your credit union or Modo or other small and massive co-ops around the world.

So, scroll back up to see the links to getting more information about our co-working space in development. Get involved, because we need you and your originality!

And whether you need a 24/7 space or a desk away from home for a few hours each week that costs about as much as the coffee you need to buy to camp out on Starbucks’ wifi, this ownership model is for you.

Remember, co-working is about empowerment. And so are co-ops!

What’s Wrong with Canada? We’re Not Denmark-ish

And I don’t mean we need to become Denmark, but we need to have the dialogue about why they can do what they do and we choose not to.

When Canadians are surveyed, a very large majority of us support these public goods. But those desires get subsumed with corporate, neoliberal, right wing government-cut rhetoric.

We need to explore the political sociology of Denmark to understand how they embraced the tax commitment to provide these public goods.

We can be Denmark, but we choose not to.

We need to respin the messages from the tax-hating corporations and make the economy serve human beings better!

 

Reject the Slow Motion Privatization of K-12 in BC

Privatizing education in BC has been largely subtle and hidden. Absurd conflicts like this below [Restricted Vancouver playground access sparks angry exchange between [PRIVATE!] school principal, parent] help the general public see what’s actually been going on for a long time with private schools. Mine mine mine mine mine mine mine mine mine. Not ours. This is unacceptable!

Note the editor conspicuously omitted the word “private” from the headline’s description of this school principal. Spin alert!

And why have we given a free pass to the premier for sending her child to a private school? That’s not an indictment of the public school system, it’s an indictment of her job as a public servant.

Enough!

A dispute over neighbourhood children being denied access to a private school playground in North Vancouver has sparked an angry exchange between one parent and the school principal that ended up on YouTube.

Anne Fisher is outraged that the private school, which leased the former public school in 2010 including the playground which the community had fundraised to build, won’t let other children from the neighbourhood on the grounds during the day.

via Restricted Vancouver playground access sparks angry exchange between school principal, parent – Yahoo News Canada.

Restricted Vancouver playground access sparks angry exchange between school principal, parent