Thursday, July 29, 2004

Smells Like.....Victory

51o 10' 0" North 123o 15' 0" West

In this van Dongen world gone wild it's good to know the good guys can win once in awhile.

This from a Western Canada Wilderness Committee release, today July 29th:

Victory! BC Liberals Back Down from Implementing Working Forest Initiative

Today, the BC Liberals backed down from implementing their proposed Working Forest Initiative. While issuing a press release today ( claiming they will “implement the Working Forest under existing planning tools” in order to save face, a close look at the release reveals that there will be no legal implementation of the Working Forest - nothing new is being added, ie. there will be no legislation or Cabinet order in council. A conversation following the release of the government’s press release between Ken Wu of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and George Abbott, Minister of Sustainable Resource Management, confirmed this fact.

Hmmmmm.....what are the NeanderCons suddenly so afraid of I wonder?

Never Mind the Bullocks....Here Come the NeanderCons

48o 25' 59" North 123o 22' 0" West

How do you make that fine distinction between someone who is extremely economical with the truth and someone who is a liar, plain and simple?

In the case of one of Gordo's favorite fixers, Christy Clark, we'll have to leave it to you, the reader, to decide.

What is clear, however, is that this week Ms. Clark claimed that the Ministry of Child and Family Development budget in 2001 was $180 million, that this year it is $172 million and that next year it will be $182 million.

In other words...everything's fine here.... please return to your regularly scheduled programming and keep your eyes glued to the TV screen while I pull this big wad of cash out of my helmut-hair hat so that I can offer up $5 million of 'new' money to enhance Child Care in the province of British Columbia.

Never mind the fact that this is totally inadequate to even begin to solve the problem. What is really galling is that a good chunk of this money will be used to enhance the funding of unlicensed child-care providers.

Hey Christy, here's a thought....why don't you go all the way and set up funds for drivers who can't drive, or teachers with no training, or, better yet, how about a big whack of cash for people who practice medicine without a license?

As ridiculous as it seems, based on their track record, it's not unreasonable to suggest that Mr. Campbell and his Minions might try to convince us that unregulated, untrained teachers and doctors are actually a good thing.... but driver's?....forget it. After all, drivers are not members of a union or a professional organization (most licensed child care providers are members of both, and while they still make peanuts that's a helluva lot better than the minimum wage empty peanut shell that Clark's no-license policy is designed to 'enhance').

But I digress.

The real question is.....why now?

Why did Clark throw us a useless $5 million bone right now?

Could it possibly have something to do with the fact that she and her (pan)handlers are doing their best to keep the truth from the front pages?

This truth is contained in a report from the provincial Child and Youth Officer, Jane Morely. It is a story that Paul Willcocks has hit out of the park:

"...the warnings are stark. Many people no longer believe the changes (in the Ministry) are even going to happen, and feel betrayed. "The trust and engagement of those who have put energy into the transformation cannot be turned on and off like a tap," she (Morely) reported.

Many on the front-lines believe the government plans are really about cutting costs, not providing better care. "My team and I have heard from many service providers as well as service users and their advocates that budget cuts have reduced communities’ capacity to provide needed services," she found. "Many believe that talk of shared responsibility with communities is code for downloading government financial responsibility."

Unless "real authority and resources continue to be devolved to the regions and through them to communities" the whole process may fail, she warns."

So, just how big have the cutbacks really been? Apparently, the original cut was 23% with a 12% cut this year. According to the BCGEU that's $124 and $63 million 'gone' respectively.

But that's not the half of it, because the finagling of the numbers and the strangling of a system while throwing money down the toilet while you pretend to restructure it (ie. plug 'Doug Walls' and 'CareNet' into Google and see what you get) are really only small potatoes.

Because, as Ms. Clark said this week:

"...changes had to be made to get the Province's fiscal house in order. In child care, she (Clark) said the government had to limit access to control spending".

In other words, help for families in need and kids in trouble not to mention subsidized daycare for single Mom's trying to make ends meet on $10 an hour had to be cut to pay for a massive tax cut that most benefitted who exactly?

The rich, that's who.

And as F. Scott Fitzgerald once said during that last, best golden age of the NeanderCons, "the rich, they're not like you and me".

And neither is Ms. Clark.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Accentuate The Negatives

30°44' North, 87°19' West

Remember this?
VANCOUVER, British Columbia; February 28, 2003 -- BC Hydro and Accenture (NYSE: ACN) today signed a ten year, $1.45 billion agreement designed to save BC Hydro customers $250 million and expand Accenture's ability to offer customer relationship management, IT, human resources, financial, procurement services, building and office management services to utilities across North America.

Well, it turns out that Accenture is also in the vote fixing and the homeland security business:
"...Florida law denies the vote to convicted felons. In 2000 the state hired a firm to purge supposed felons from the list of registered voters; these voters were turned away from the polls. After the election, determined by 537 votes, it became clear that thousands of people had been wrongly disenfranchised. Since those misidentified as felons were disproportionately Democratic-leaning African-Americans, these errors may have put George W. Bush in the White House."

"This year, Florida again hired a private company - Accenture, which recently got a homeland security contract worth up to $10 billion - to prepare a felon list. Remembering 2000, journalists sought copies. State officials stonewalled, but a judge eventually ordered the list released."

But never fear, Minister of Health Colin Hansen just last week assured us that the American multinational that will soon to be awarded British Columbia's electronic health records privatization contract would never give out our information to anybody.

All of which would be fine, except for this from the memory hole:
".....But the real potential problems with the move (to electronic recording) came in the past few weeks when the BCGEU realized that the two final bidders for the MSP contract were both American-based and that that could bring British Columbians’ files under the rubric of the U.S. federal Patriot Act.

"The two potential contractors are Maximus and IBM. Maximus is based in Virginia. IBM is a US-based multinational with a Canadian subsidiary which would be responsible for the running of any MSP contract. But legal opinions remain unclear as to whether even the existence of a Canadian subsidiary would be enough to protect the files of B.C. residents from the long arm of the Patriot Act."

So there you have it....John Ashcroft already knows how much electricity you use and he soon might know about your pre-existing health conditions when you attempt to cross the border.

Hmmmm....what happens when Telus gets gobbled up by, oh say, Verizon?....will Johnny A be able to get his grubby hands on your phone and online records info as well?

Hell, what was I thinking....he's probably got them already.

Update 7:45am July 27th

Raymond Tomlin over at Van Ramblings has this story nailed from every angle, including the fact that IBM will soon have access to the information on every desktop computer used by B.C. government employees.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Ferries A-Go-Go

48o 45' 0" North 123o 28' 59" West

There's nothing worse than being screwed by your own money.

In this case 2000 jobs and an entire indigenous industry are being sold down the river for $500 million.

Even Liberal MLA for North Vancouver/Seymour Daniel Jarvis agrees that the decision to build ferries in Europe rather than in B.C. is 'stupid'

"To me it doesn't make sense, and would be blatantly stupid," (Jarvis) wrote. "There are no valid reasons to indicate that B.C. shipyards are not capable. "The two biggest ferries that we have, and for that matter the whole B.C. Fleet, were built by the private sector and organized labour in B.C."

If only it were just stupidity, plain and simple. But the recent statements of Gordon 'The Great Obfuscator' Campbell that 'subsidies don't work' suggest something different is afoot.

Like flat out lying.

Take this statement from BC Ferries Corp. quisling Mark Stefanson:

"The yards in Canada no longer have the capability to build the large vessels that we need."

Which is total crap because capacity expands and contracts guessed it - contracts. Just ask all those non-union construction contractors gearing up to cash in on the Olympic bonanza.

And therein lies the rub according to Transport Minister Kevin Falcon.

"It's not like they're not capable of winning the business (contracts)," he said. "What we're not going to do is guarantee them every single piece of business, because once you start doing that, you automatically take away any desire to have to be competitive."

That last word is where the Big Lie finally surfaces.

Because, according to the Really Big Book of Neo-Con CodeWords (5th edition, abridged) that every Minister in the Campbell Government gets at his/her swearing-in ceremony, 'competitive' = 'non-union'.

Don't believe me? Check it out on pg 38. It's right below 'compassion' = 'only for suckers' in the neo-con lexicon.

Update July 27th 8:00am

David Shreck has some interesting things to add to this story, particularly with respect to legal wrinkles.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Rafe Goes Hard....

49o 15' 0" North 123o 7' 0" West

True to his 'hard talk' slogan, Mr. Mair actually went hard at Gordon Campbell for a good half hour today (Fri July 23rd). Four issues/questions that Mr. Campbell had no plausible explanations/answers for were....the lack of independent scientific support for his fish farm policy (paraphrasing..."the people inside our ministry care about wild salmon"); Doug Walls ("Don't blame me, I didn't hire him"), privatization of BC Rail ("we didn't sell it.... the people of BC still 'technically' own the rail beds!"), and the off-shore Ferry contract ("there was no point using local shipyards because we know that subsidies don't help"). Go tell that last one to all the contractors getting set to rake in the big bucks on Olympic construction projects (personally, I think this is a Union busting issue, but more on that shortly).

All in all, Mr. Mair's performance on the front-end was pretty impressive, but then it all broke down in the last half hour when the clearly stacked calls in favour of the Premier flooded in. For that I blame Rafe's sidekick, producer Shiral Tobin. Clearly Tobin was so giddy from booking both Campbells the same morning (Larry was on before Gordo with a disgusting suggestion that extra money from the Hastings Pk slots could be used to fund gambling addiction research!) that she failed to do her job call excuse there despite the patter between Mair and Tobin during the mutual back-slapping 'last call' session as the show wound down post-Gordo.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Rafe Clocks In

49o 15' 0" North 123o 7' 0" West

In his editorial this morning (Wed July 21st), Rafe Mair took the dumping of David Anderson the same way we did. Then Rafe went one step further by suggesting that a lifting of the West Coast moratorium on off-shore drilling will be facilitated by federal environment minister Stephane Dion.

While he offered a couple of weak-kneed caveats, John Ibbitson went even farther in the Globe and Pale:

"....A federal panel studying the issue is expected to report its findings this fall, and that could provide a political window for lifting the ban (on offshore drilling). John Efford, who was kept on as Natural Resources Minister, is a fervent supporter of offshore drilling. Vancouver business leader David Emerson, who is now Industry Minister, is also thought to be supportive, although his public stand is unclear. British Columbia's Jack Austin, the Government Leader in the Senate, supports preliminary exploration to see where oil is and where it isn't. And lifting the ban would score major points for Ottawa with B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell."

So there you have it......all the stars are lining up for a zombie-like resurrection of a good old-fashioned resource extraction-based economy. Or, at the very least, the fate of the Hecate Strait seabed is now sitting in Paul Martin's backpocket to be used the day he decides it's time to do a deal with the devil, errr Gordo, on Healthcare....and who just might be the delivery boy for such a deal.....

....Ujjal anyone?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Neufeld's Folly

53o 30' 0" North 131o 10' 0" West

At first glance, Provincial Energy Minister Dick Neufeld appears to be taking the high road when he says that he's not going to gloat over the fact that the man he once called 'Negative Nelly' Anderson' is no longer the Federal Environment Minister.

Then, in the next instant our Dick gets a little tricky when he suggests that a minority Federal government with 'Conservative' support could move to lift the moratorium on offshore oil and gas development.

Never mind the blatant admission of the neo-con connection.....what is really scary is that Tricky Dick is not even the front man in this rush to deflower the seabed....that job belongs to PR hacks like the $6 million dollar man, Steve Simons.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Moses' Sixth

48o 25' 59" North 123o 22' 0" West

The so-called 'New-VI' is downsizing.

But don't cry for the three stooges - Pia, Moe and Norm- 'cause they'll land on their feet the way media-whores always sucking up to the next tycoon that comes down the pike.

It's the other 26 folks, many of them who work behind the scenes that we should be concerned about, because they have fallen victim to Moses Znaimer's 6th commandment which is:

Promise Big......Get License......Screw Locals.

Roughly Translated (originally by Stuart H. commenting on Public Eye) Moses' 6th reads thus.....Promise really, really big investments in local programming to get the TV licence, wait the minimal amount of time for public amnesia to set in, then slash local programming to the bone, load up on cheap syndicated programming to rake in the cash and then use the spoils to move on to the next takeover target , in this case the Craig family's stations in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Kind of makes you wonder what the hell the CRTC thinks about all of this....oh ya, forgot for a second, they only care about purveyors of bad taste on the radio in Quebec (CHOI-FM)....apparently a complete perversion of the public trust doesn't count.

Update: July 29th:
Some readers have suggested that the real bad guy's here are the corporate managers of the CHUM megalopoly, not MosesZ. However, while Z-(veryold)Boy is on the outs officially the blogosphere suggests otherwise in real terms. Regardless, for a slightly different, but very good slant on this story see Adrian Dix's piece in the Tyee.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Arnold and Me

121° 29' 29'' West 38° 34' 54'' North

There is only one thing I want to know right now....

When did Arnold Schwarzenegger decide to make Gordon Campbell a role model?

Because, apparently the Term.....errrr, Grope-inator, as he is affectionately known in the more liberal parts of California, has decided to increase revenue by jacking the cost of parking and camping by 50% in many of the State's Parks.

It's the same recipe we described in the Cathedral Grove Parking Lot fiasco on Vancouver Island awhile back.

Only in the case of the Grope-inator's little swindle the exact price of the deal is all up-front and on the table. Specifically, the $15 million he is gaining by screwing 35 million working Californians just barely manages to offset revenues lost because of new loophole that ensures that 35 hundred gazillionare's with massive yachts will not have to pay taxes on them as long as they take a trip out of territorial waters for just 90 days of the year.

Apparently, folks like those Bastard Enron Energy Traders who raked in the gazillions hand-over fist back in the salad days when they worked both sides of the public/private/partnership energy grid for Kenny Boy Lay have taken to picking rummies off the streets of Santa Monica and sending them on all expenses paid, three month cruises to Mazatlan so that they can take the Grope-inator up on his offer.

Hmmmm...... If only our Gordo could come up with a similar P3-inspired scam.... maybe something like charging extra-rental on elementary school textbooks to offset the costs of deputy ministers taking South Sea Junkets with Tycoons so that they can sell off more of our assets prior to going crazy martini benders at taxpayers' expense.

Sounds fair to me.

After all, if you can't make sweetheart deals behind closed doors on secluded tropical islands, how else are you going to give away the Province without people knowing about it?