Some things just need to be said...

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Christian Right and it's "invasion from America".

Saturday's Vancouver Sun has four full pages on the Christian Right in Canada and it's "Invasion from America". I am at Jazz festival in Kaslo BC so can't comment until I return to Kelowna Tuesday. The paper coverage relays a great deal of information on the American movement's influence in Canada and ties to White Supremist groups like David Duke and the KKK.

Enjoy the long weekend folks, I am off to the Jazz festival grounds for another hot day by the Lake and Nelson Brew.

Enter the evangelicals American evangelist Stephen Bennett declares he's willing to endure "persecution" in Canada to preach his message that homosexual...

Differences between Americans and Canadians on religion, politics and morality Percentage of countries' population who claim 'my religious faith is very important to me':

Page c03Warning: 'Radical homosexuals' WASHINGTON - Canada's decision to legalize gay marriage is a loud warning to Americans about the dangerous plans of radical homosexuals...

Page c04Religious right uses its clout Social conservative activist K-John Cheung warns that Canadians may soon be unable to speak out against people having sex with...

For more information on social conservatives, Stephen Harper, gay, same-sex or equal marriage, James Dobson, evangelicals, Focus on the Family, Bishop Henry, use the Technorati search box in the side bar here and at Queer Thoughts.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Jack Layton on the rise

"New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton is the best-rated federal political leader. 57 per cent of respondents approve of Layton's performance, a five per cent increase in six months. Conservative leader Stephen Harper holds the lowest number at 33 per cent, a nine per cent drop since January." ~ Angus Reid Global Scan, July 29, 2005

Jack Layton is steadily making himself known to Canadians and the more people hear of him, see him, the higher his personal approval ratings go.

The dilemma for the NDP now appears to be translating that personal popularity and approval to candidates in the next federal election.

There is no question the NDP campaign will be run based on with Jack's face front and centre, especially given his personal credibility. When Layton won the leadership in 2003, he said the party needed to focus on three or four issues. To get a message out to Canadians that was understandable and achievable. He well on the way.

The federal NDP has managed to stay focused. The long held bugaboo of the NDP has been the last week of the campaign scare tactics of the Liberals where the liberals run more against Conservatives leaders like Preston Manning, Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper than for something.

The NDP's job next time out to push back on that message of fear and give Canadians a message of hope and a vision. Jack's on the right track. Imagine when you heard either Stephen Harper or Paul Martin say anything that lifted your spirits or planned for the future.

The NDP have been the one party that has listened to Canadians and made Parliament work despite all the games being played by the Liberals and Conservatives.

Don't take my word for this, here are some quotes from media on Jack ...

“NDP leader Jack Layton is the only leader to emerge unequivocally from the tumult with an enhanced reputation and improved electoral prospects. Layton made a conscious effort to rise above the mudslinging and demonstrate a more civil, constructive approach to minority government. In the process, he gave the party with the smallest numbers in the Commons new clout and relevance, forcing Martin to add $4.6 billion in social spending to his budget in return for support from the 19 NDP MPs.” Canadian Press, 19 May 2005

While the Conservatives and Liberals disgrace the House with juvenile antics, Layton's team doggedly pushes to get work done. Layton is wisely shifting away from radical stunting to pragmatic solutions, most importantly within a balanced budget . . . For that pressure to continue, Layton's New Democrats need 98 seats and the official Opposition title. They've earned it.” Jim McNulty, The Vancouver Province, 12 June 2005

“The only A’s in this Parliament go to New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton . . .” Hugh Windsor, Globe and Mail 27 June 2005

“The Jack Layton budget deal [was the best political move] . . . First of all, it put them very decidedly on the map politically. He’s gone up in the polls since then. He appears as a player because of it. He's got some -- he can keep some distance between himself and the Liberals at the same time with the scandal issue. He’s been able to walk a very interesting tightrope there. I think it's worked out very well for him and his party.” Andrew Coyne, CBC The National, 23 June 2005

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Rick's Jazzed up Kaslo adventure

I will be gone for a few days. Off to the KASLO JAZZ ETC. SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVAL. This is one of the most beautiful and superb places to attend a Jazz festival. The floating stage sits just offshore on the shores of Kootenay Lake.

Kaslo is a great place in the west Kootenay's north and west of one of my favourite communities, Nelson. The perfect escape for a long weekend, though I will be missing the Vancouver Pride events. Next year perhaps Pride, unless Jonny Lang turns up at Kaslo!

The weather is expected to be sunny, warm and if we are lucky no clouds. I will post my own pictures of the event when I get back, I expect sometime on Monday provided I can tear myself away from this fabulous place and people. I hope to run into Corky Evans, the MLA for the area. We share the same passion for politics, and Corky is one heck of a nice guy.

This year the Main Stage Acts: Colin Linden Ernie Watts & New Stories Jesse Cook La Candela Laila Biali Paul Peress Trio Rabnett 5 Sekoya What It Is and then we have the Up Stage Acts: Coils of Gold Eh Trane Ellen McIlwaine Flora Ware Lazy Poker My Attorney Bernie Paul & Laura Landsberg Playmore Dixie
The Tuques

I am most excited about the acts I have highlighted here, though I will enjoy them all. I saw Jesse Cook last year in Victoria thanks to a dear friend I miss. I will be meeting up with good friends and staying within a short walk of the festival site, so life should be easy.

The Cuban bands La Candela and Rabnett 5 look to be fun. Now I won't be able to indulge in my Kokanee beer as the event is sponsored in part by Nelson Brewing. They have been around for a 100 years or more and make pretty good stuff. I will let you know how it went.

Colin Linden rounds out a pretty darn impressive group of performers. I am ready to be surprised by the rest.

So until Monday, unless I get something off before I leave, enjoy your long weekend, drive "like someone loves you!"

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

CanWest takes Swerve at Gay Paper

A battle is brewing in the home town of Canwest and a small but venerable gay community paper in Winnipeg. Swerve has been serving the queer population of Manitoba and the prairies for many years. CanWest a Canadian owned media conglomerate has named its new free daily paper in Calgary Swerve.

The small local queer paper has a press run of 5,500 per month, an annual budget of $90,000 and finds it up against the biggest of the big in Canada. Swerve has stated on their website that they have been trying to get a hold of the Asper family (Winnipeg is their home), to discuss this but to no avail.

They have had contact with CanWest over the matter. A fax sent to Swerve by Canwest apparently offering a couple of possible solutions. One involves money and the other is to share the name. Swerve has used the name for years but never proceeded to get a trademark due to the cost. "

"We have used the name for 10 years in good faith and have established a history of goodwill. And we don't want to give that up," Richard Wood told the Winnipeg Sun. "We don't think because they have money and we don't that that should determine the outcome."

At issue is CanWest's Calgary paper, The Herald introducing their new paper as Swerve. This action is forcing the Winnipeg group to court to protect their use of the name Swerve and their identity. Swerve has until August 8, 2005 to file an opposition to CanWest's use of the name to protect themselves. The end result could be a long, expensive and nasty fight.

It is somewhat ironic that the Asper family, behind the creation of the brand new Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, something that many of us support, is using its huge financial advantage and well-stocked law firm to take on the little guy.

The community should come together and support Swerve and there are some ways you can do that listed below. The Aspers and CanWest Global cannot be allowed to use their power and wealth to tramp on the rights of a small but important community service.

Read this great story by Elanor Brown of the blog, "Opinionated Lesbian" on this David and Goliath story.

See what Antonia Zerbisias, the media watcher from the the centre of the universe, Toronto Star says ... Swerve-on-Swerve.

Support Swerve: If you'd like to send a letter of support, email Swerve at They will be posting some on their site over the coming days.

You can of course also send an email direct to CanWest's Calgary paper, and let them know what you think. Email that other magazine in Calgary and let them know you prefer the original Swerve magazine in Winnipeg. sending a copy of your email to Swerve will help.

Finally if you would like, you can send an email to the finance and chief financial officer of CanWest, John Maguire.

For more queer news check out my other blog, Queer Thoughts.

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Kelowna Council second rate


Most of you from outside this area likely have a picture of what our community looks like and what it is. I suspect you think of this being a beautiful warm oasis, great wine, expensive homes and beaches.
You would be partially right. We have a ton of millionaires here, developers by the score, and some of the most beautiful countryside there is.

We also have traffic nightmares, second rate transit, growing homeless numbers and housing that is pricing many who live here out of the hope of ever owning their own home.

The average home is about $300,000. What with Kelowna's commerce delivering jobs at $10.00 per hour, the sunshine tax (Many employers here feel that the bonus is living here so don't expect overtime), how is a young family to own a home. It won't be happening in our city unless we get the city council to start finding ways to develop housing that is affordable, in the $100,000 range.

We have two big problems with respect to housing in our city. One the growing number of homeless, some of whom are holding down one or two jobs, but can not afford a place, those unemployed and those dealing with drug addictions, many of whom have mental health issues as well.

Concurrent disorders (usually drug addiction with one or more mental health problems) present themselves with no solutions. The City has all but ignored social issues for years now. They have no effective means in place to address the issues nor do they seem to want to address these problems. The current Mayor in the past has been known to say the social issues are the responsibility of the provincial and federal governments and Kelowna city council should stick to the issues like water, sewer and allowing development.

The Kelowna Gospel Mission serves many of the homeless downtown. Their facility is old, outdated and too small for the needs they have to address. Just prior to the provincial election, the Province announced $5 million for a new facility. Now months after the election we are hearing that it could be up to two or more years before that money is spent on a facility. The City has no idea where it should be constructed, the Mission has no idea what should be built and the homeless continue to grow.

Aside from the major drug and homeless situation, we have traffic and transit nightmares created by the lack of planning. Highway 97 runs right through the centre of Kelowna. All traffic is funneled over the old three lane floating bridge into our city.

The plans for a new bridge will not really improve things. The new bridge will have five lanes. These lanes will simply bring more cars into the centre of the city again. It does nothing to alleviate the traffic snarls downtown. It slows down those people just wanting to make their way through and ticks off those of us that have to deal with "rush hour".

The bridge should have become part of a bypass route, bring the traffic from the westside across the lake to the north of the city. This would have allowed those that want to come to our city easy access and and those just going through to go on by. It seems this option was not available due to the leaders in commerce belief that if we don't corral those on highway 97 into our city they won't come here.

If you ride a bicycle in this city you can count on several near accidents in the course of your journey. The current bicycle lanes are incomplete, fail to meet up with others and often ignored by motorists. To add an insult to this the new bridge will have only one lane for bicycles, which will have two way cycle traffic and pedestrians, and the odd service vehicle. Another example of poor planning and the creation of further aggravation and accidents.

Finally there is one more serious concern. Transit. We have not bad transit in some areas of the city and others it is a down right disgrace. Imagine allowing developers to build then we don't provide or plan for transit to service the area. Kelowna is looking more and more like the urban sprawl we associate with California. You need a car to get around in this city.

More soon on the City of Kelowna's Official Community plan in a future post. It may surprise people to know we have one, what won't surprise many is that developers get variances for nothing. (note: Not all developers are bad, after all they have the blessing of our City Council)

There will be an election this fall for city council. We need a council with a vision and people to work at the job. In 21 years we have only seen on incumbent defeated. This year we have three and maybe four vacancies to fill.

The chance to elect some people that have an ability to see into the future, that will address sustainable growth, address transportation with a long term planning, and find a way to house some 5000 homeless and underhoused families. I hope we some good people come forward of any political stripe, lets just get some reasonable folks that care about our city and are not held by the development business.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Blogger beats Victoria Media to Transformation

Victoria political columnist Russ Francis of Monday Magazine picked up a story today that Politics in BC did on July 25, Mayor's Transformation of Victoria. I am somewhat flattered in that we got it out before Victoria's premier print columnist. Blogging can be fun. You don't think he might read my blog? Now that would be awesome!

Here is Russ Francis' story in Monday Magazine... Politics in BC story is here.

Despite suggestions made previously in this space, mayor Alan Lowe is far from universally unpopular. Last month, in fact, he won a standing ovation…though surprisingly, it wasn’t for his arena success story. The event was a June 12 gathering at Quadra Street’s Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church, which, according to an account in Sunday Magazine (no relation), more than 800 people attended.

Pastors and others have been meeting weekly for the last seven years, says the report, “praying for Victoria.” (Not to much avail, apparently, even after more than 350 meetings.) However, based on the atmosphere at last month’s meeting, the expectancy for a “move of God” on Vancouver Island is “strong than ever.” When the move happens, expect a “transformation” of the Island. Reportedly, some 400 communities around the world are currently undergoing such a transformation. I’ll be the first to admit that we could use a transformation or two, not least at city hall. Bring it on!

It was precisely this gathering that awarded Lowe the standing ovation, says the report. Then, after Lowe greeted the multitudes, a number of pastors surrounded Lowe and his wife, and prayed for them. Not sure how the prayers went. It might have been: “Dear God, please let the arena be done by the time of the municipal election.” Or: “Yo. Please don’t let the business community run anyone against him this November.” But not all the prayers could have been welcomed by Lowe. For instance, one pastor prayed, apparently aloud, that “God would close doors of activity that are not consistent with His purpose…” That should mean the end of the city’s take from bars. And forget any chance of a casino. Also, would God be very happy about a city contractor who’s facing a baker’s dozen of liens, who’s missed deadline after deadline and who’s repeatedly broken his written promises to the city?

I very much suspect that the barn door of activity at Blanshard and Caledonia would be near the top of the “inconsistent” list for closing. However, the highlight of the event took place toward the end, when Lowe “committed and gave the city of Victoria to God.” He did? The whole thing? Without asking us? That raises some serious questions. Did God even want Victoria? Can we get it back? If He’s now the owner, is He going to pay our property taxes? And do we get a tax credit?

Even that wasn’t the last of the evening’s bombshells. Lowe also “asked God to be a permanent resident of Victoria.” Transformation expert Alistair Petrie told the crowd that in all the cities he has visited for his mission, Lowe was the first Canadian mayor to “consecrate and commit a city to the Lord.” Well, I suppose if He owns the place now. He might as well live here (I’m assuming He can get a visa.) With a little persuasion, He might be persuaded to fix the potholes. Of course, CUPE wouldn’t like that very much.

Re-enact Ferry Accident in Horseshoe Bay!

BC Ferries has never been so much fun

Try out this game...

Re:enact the Queen of Oak Bay crashing into other boats in Horseshoe Bay! Safer than the real thing! No one gets hurt and no animal died in the creation of this game, or so I have been told.

You can of course check out the real deal here Not all BC Ferries cruising the Straits.

Thanks to my buddy in Victoria for the link!

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A bridge too far

too far from Victoria that is...

in the heartlands! (whoops, the government did away with the strategy)

The BC Liberal government won't be building a promised bridge linking the North Okanagan and the Arrow Lakes/Kootenays anytime soon.

The government promised to construct the bridge as part of its so-called heartland strategy. But it sent the design back after saying the rising steel prices had pushed costs well beyond the original budget

The bridge from Needles to Fauquier has been in the making for over 40 years. It got exciting again these past few years with Liberal MLA's announcing it will be done, over and over.

Needles and Fauquier are connected by Ferry. The bridge if it is ever built would connect the North Okanagan near Vernon with the Arrow Lakes/Kootenays near Nakusp. The prospect of increased tourism recreation and business opportunities is significant.

As late as January 2005, then BC Liberal MLA Blair Suffredine was hauling Ministry of transportation staff through the Kootenays with the above photo depicting what the bridge would look like. The Liberal MLA said construction in May. It has occurred to me that he did not say what year!

Locals in Nakusp had said at the public meeting in January, "Gordon Campbell was on record as saying something to the effect of, "After we build the bridge in Fauquier then we can talk about a Nakusp bridge."

All I can add to that is don't hold your breath in Nakusp.

Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon said yesterday his ministry has reviewed the project in light of the rising costs of the Arrow Lake structure south of Nakusp and has failed to produce an obvious cheaper option.

The Heartland strategy announced by the Premier February 12, 2003 provided good reason to believe the bridge would finally get some traction. The project was one of eight listed in the press release put out by the Premier's office ... Begin planning for a new bridge at Needles that will connect the Okanagan with Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes.

The primary press release of February 12, 2003, PREMIER DETAILS PRIORITIES FOR OPENING UP B.C. was much less ambiguousus...

"...The government will launch a major program of transportation infrastructure improvements to open up B.C.'s heartlands to new economic opportunities. Specific measures will include an investment of $609 million over three years for heartlands roads; a $670-million upgrade to the Trans-Canada Highway through the Kicking Horse Canyon, cost-shared with the federal government; improvements to Highways 97, 95 and 3; new bridges, one across Lake Okanagan at Kelowna, the other at Needles...."

The Mayor of Nakusp, Bill Cowan met with Liberal MLA Blaire Sufferdine on March 27, 2005 and discussed "bridges rather than ferries." Cowan had met March 12 with then NDP candidate, Corky Evans on the same issue. (Evans was elected MLA on May 17, 2005.)

The Minister has said that the bridge cost was way over the original budget, blaming steel prices. Perhaps they should have started construction in 2003 on the two bridges promised by the Premier. Rising costs have added about 25 to 40 million dollars to the William R Bennett bridge over Okanagan Lake. Further delays on the Needles bridge can only make it more expensive.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I am JFK

Okay these things can get carried away. This is likely the last one of these "who are you" I will post for awhile. Which leader are you?

Now I did the 18 question option. I was pointed here by Noel who has a blog called The McGrans of Ocean Park who posted to my Wal-Mart site. No not a site provided by the world's biggest contractor of "third world sweat shops" or largest user of American medicaid. No it's a blog that is about BIG BOx stores. BIG Box Costs is it name.

So it turns out I am John F Kennedy! And look, now I really do expect someone will marry me! Do I need a powerful postion first? Yikes.

Monday, July 25, 2005

BC Liberals ~ leaked and dangerous email?

Open and accountable. The BC Liberals bread and butter while in opposition was freedom of information and they used it more than any other applicant to great success.

They are sly these BC Liberals. When they came into power, they knew how effective their use of Freedom of Information was and were not going to be caught as easily by the NDP. They have slashed funding to the Privacy commissioners office by 15%, the same for the Auditor and the Ombudsman.

Apart from those new and improved roadblocks to access to information, now they appear to be withholding more info., keeping track of political requests, delaying releases and now the best part, they want no records kept, relying on people's memories and the telephone.

Victoria mudraker and political columnist for 24 Hours, Sean Holman has gathered up the spicy email sent to Vancouver Island Health Authority communications folks. Seems they are concerned with the BC Opposition's use of Freedom of Information to request potentially embarrasing or incriminating emails. Oddly enough the email asking people not to put sensitive material in an email was leaked! I guess the Liberals were right to be worried...

"...Even before the election, the volume of FOI requests at the Ministry from the opposition were increasing - and they were sometimes asking for materials from specific individuals (ie communications staff). This trend will likely continue now. The reminder is for us to use the phone a lot more than we have been. And no briefing notes on locally changed climates, please...If you don't want it on the front page of the TC, don't put it in E mail... ~ Suzanne Germain, Media & Issues Advisor Vancouver Island Health Authority (email leaked to

Imagine what could happen if a social worker doing a case report decided they can't keep notes because the opposition may get the information later, or a company seeks government support for a new mine, better not put it in an email, better to call the Minister and meet for coffee after hours, and for GOrDon's sake, don't use a lobbyist!

One more thing, what's a good cell phone scanner cost? My old buddy Moe Sihota might recall as he was the receipiant of text versions of recorded calls made by a Social Credit cabinet minister.

Of course that was before the BC NDP brought in Freedom of Information! Ironic that this may be the only way one can find out what the most open and accountable government in Canada is up to given their deliberate efforts not to keep records of the business they are performing for the people of BC.

If you don't mind email to convey messages you can email Suzanne Germain, Media & Issues Advisor, Vancouver Island Health Authority. At the same time perhaps you want to email a copy to her boss, the Minister of Health, Leader of the Opposition, as it will save some tax money in freedom of information requests.

Check out Sean's column at 24 Hours, "Spin doctor: Be careful with e-mail"

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Mayor's Transformation of Victoria

Is Mayor Lowe saying no to Harm Reduction and yes to God?

I have been somewhat perplexed by Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe's s apparent reversal on Harm Reduction and supervised injection sites. You can see in this earlier post that the Mayor was extremely supported of an initiative to bring a supervised injection site to Victoria.

Between May 15, 2005 when the Mayor was quoted as saying ....
"If I had a wish list, I would like to see a safe injection site with housing, with a drop-in centre and with medical treatment." ~ Times Colonist reported on May 15, 2005

and on July 19, 2005 at a public meeting hosted by the City of Victoria and the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Mayor told city council hopeful Paul Lidgate...
"The city needs to talk to people, a safe injection site is not yet what we're looking at."

What has happened to have the Mayor move away from his strong supportive position to one of "I don't know if we need one?" Has the Mayor got cold feet because the municipal elections are happening this fall and he doesn't want to offend anyone? That's my guess and here is why I think it has some validity.

In my internet search for information on Mayor Lowe, I found Sunday Magazine, the monthly newsletter for Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church. The lead story is ~ Canada headed for transformation? Many cities, regions and whole nations are being transformed by the power of God. Is Canada next?.

The article begins ...
On June 12th Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church was the host of a significant event in the history of our city. All the churches of Victoria were invited. Over 800 people from nearly 30 congregations gathered together in unity with expectant hearts to hear Dr. Alistair Petrie share about communities around the globe experiencing transformation and to pray that Victoria be transformed by the power of God.

Now all of that is pretty much expected when you have 800 faithful together. The potentially troubling point came in this next segment and may explain the mayor's 180 degree reversal on supervised injection sites...

"The highlight of the evening was a prophetic exercise involving a key that Alistair Petrie brought with him. He asked the pastors of the city to come up to the front. One pastor was given the key and prayed that God would close doors of activity that are not consistent with His purposes and plan for Victoria and to open doors to extend His Kingdom here. He then handed the key to Pastor Ron Michalski, pastor of Glad Tidings, to lead the pastors around the sanctuary to signify unity in the ministerial. This was followed in similar manner by the laity represented by three leaders. Following this came the youth.

Finally, His Worship Mayor Lowe and Grace, his wife, were asked to come up again. He was given the key and asked to pray over the city of Victoria. Besides the closing and opening of doors, Mayor Lowe committed and gave the city of Victoria to God and asked God to be a permanent resident of Victoria. In all of the cities that Dr. Petrie has visited with the key, Mayor Lowe was the first mayor in all of Canada to consecrate and commit a city to the Lord."

We know the Mayor changed his tune significantly between May 15, 2005 and the July 19th public meeting. The Mayor's participation in the "Transformation of Victoria" on June 12, could be the reason. Evangelical groups are some of the most ardently opposed to harm reduction measures for drug users. Mayor Lowe did not just attend and accept a prayer for the transformation of Victoria, he offered up a prayer in which he "committed and gave the city of Victoria to God."

Dr. Petrie holds these "transformation" meetings across Canada and the world. The article states, "In all of the cities that Dr. Petrie has visited with the key, Mayor Lowe was the first mayor in all of Canada to consecrate and commit a city to the Lord."

All of this could be looked as innocent and the Mayor practising his faith if it were not for the unaccountable and surprising change in his position on a major public policy issue facing the citizens of Victoria.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Jean-Luc Picard or Wesley Crusher!

Canadian Cynic lead me with this post to Section 15. Now our friend at Canadian Cynic was Wesley Crusher, now I wouldn't mind that but no, I am Captian Jean-Luc Picard, not bad either! I am happy as Section 15 blogger is also rated as the sexy man below.
A Picard rating means: An accomplished diplomat who can virtually do no wrong, you sometimes know it is best to rely on the council of others while holding the reins.

Don't kill yourself Mr. Cynic, we expected you might not be positive on the rating, still it means you aren't such a cynic after all!

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Social Conservatives not just at Church any more

I am preparing an article addressing the rise of the social conservative christian activist in Canada. Many people are pointing to the recent activism that has become more visible during the debate over equal (Gay or same-sex) marriage in Canada.

This activism is not occurring by accident. The seed was planted over twenty years ago in a youthful but growing evangelical religious movement. They began in the school system, using resources, instructors and funds from American based fundamentalists.

Recent activity has provided christian activists a foot hold in the political arena after years on the outside. Political parties such as the Christian Heritage Party have been the only choice for many were seen as a fringe party and unsuccessful. Today the new political home for the evangelical is the Conservative Party of Canada. Nomination victories, delegates selections to the conservative party's first ever convention was successful.

Encouraged by their recent successes, this movement though small in numbers is acting as a much bigger force. A force which is well financed due in large measure to rich American evangelical groups and individuals.

Canadians evangelical's like Tristan Emmanuel, Bishop Henry, Ben-Ami, Stockwell Day, Rev. Charles McVety, David Manse, Bruce Clemenger, Cindy Silver and Jim Hughes are entering the political world with no apologies, no hidden agendas, telling it like they want it to be. Some are candidates, others are opinion leaders and back room planners. Still these people are succeeding in creating a vocal and visible political force way beyond their membership size.

For background on this new political force check out the CBC backgrounder, Canada's Evangelical movement: political awakening and the Canned West newspaper report, Pray: Canada's social conservatives are anxious to have their voices heard where it really counts in a democracy: at the ballot box. I wrote a piece on aspects of the Christian Right in the United States being declared a "Hate Group" by the leading watchdog of organizations that perpetrate hate. See it here, Christian Right.

My evaluation will be here in time for August 7, appropriately released on a Sunday, or not, depending on your view.

For more information on social conservatives, Stephen Harper, gay, same-sex or equal marriage, James Dobson, evangelicals, Focus on the Family, Bishop Henry, use the Technorati search box in the side bar here and at Queer Thoughts.

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VCE and Lowe riding "back" together?

When is Harm Reduction not harm reduction?

In Victoria, Harm Reduction is what you want it to be. A few days ago the City and VIHA hosted a public meeting (July 19) and handed out material that posed this question, "What is harm reduction?"

The list included several examples of harm reduction, from straight ahead descriptions like, brushing your teeth, a healthy diet and using a condom during sex. Not a bad beginning to the list but what about supervised injection sites? The paper stated "(harm reduction) is not a supervised injection site (unless the community wants it to be)."

Has something happened on Vancouver Island since I left the land of BC ferry hostages. Last year while I was on the board of VARCS, (the best little non-profit AIDS service and support agency in Canada) in Victoria, the mayor was sounding very supportive of supervised injection sites...

"We've been hearing about people shooting up in the alleys, people shooting up in people's front yard, around people's businesses and schools. In order to deal with some of those problems, we do need a safe injection site." Mayor Alan Lowe, Mar 19 2004 (CBC Radio ~ Victoria needs safe injection site, says mayor.

Mayor Lowe does not stop there, in the same interview with CBC he adds ...

"We know that taking these people and throwing them in jail hasn't worked in the past 100 years. We need to do things differently. This is something that has proven to be successful. I will fight for it."

The Mayor clearly indicates he is supportive of making supervised injection sites part of the harm reduction effort in Victoria. The Mayor is even more decisive in this Canada Now News Clip, March 18, 2004.

The Mayor of Victoria was not expected by many to be supportive of the idea and received praise from then Victoria Civic Electors (VCE) city councilor, Rob Fleming. (Fleming was elected MLA for Victoria-Hillside in the last provincial election)

"I'm pleased that the mayor is an admirer and supporter of it (supervised injection site) and that there seems to be people from across the political spectrum and the community with an interest at looking at it," Fleming told the Mark Browne of the VicNews Weekend Edition, April 5, 2004

Lowe said some people have told him the city shouldn't be "going down this route." But when they hear about the needles on the street and addicts shooting up in front of downtown businesses, they change their tune, he said. City looks to drug strategy of Vancouver Times Colonist Friday, April 23, 2004

And earlier this year after returning from a trip to Europe Mayor Lowe said,

"If I had a wish list, I would like to see a safe injection site with housing, with a drop-in centre and with medical treatment." ~ Louise Dickson of the Times Colonist reported on May 15, 2005

"It's premature to talk about location and to say the City of Victoria will have one," Lowe told the TC in the same interview. "But I think it's the way to go... I don't think it will be that difficult to have the people of Victoria support it. Our entire council supports it. I think people realize enforcement is not working."

So far you would think that the entire Victoria City council supports the supervised injection site with the added support and medical services and efforts were well underway to have funding secured from the province and federal government and Health Canada approval for the injection site.

It is no doubt it was the leadership of VCE and councilors Fleming and Denise Savoie that City council started to address this issue seriously. Now Fleming is gone, and Savoie looks to have an excellent shot at being elected Victoria's MP, where is leadership to come from on this issue?

It's not coming from the current gang of VCE or the Mayor.

Mayor Lowe noted at the July 19 meeting that Vancouver's InSite facility was experiencing great success, but in the same sentence, he added that Victoria is not the Downtown Eastside. We need a "made-in-Victoria solution." My question here is what does this mean? Harm reduction isn't a safe-injection site, but it might be if the community says so? Safe-injection facilities are working in Vancouver, but they won't work here? What is the city saying? Does Mayor Lowe favour having a site here in Victoria or not?

One person at the meeting asked Lowe what others have avoided. Paul Lidgate, candidate for a VCE nomination asked the Mayor if he supported a stand alone safe injection site or an integrated health-care site like he saw in Europe?

The Mayor who only 8 weeks previously stated Victoria needed a safe injection site with the additional support and medical services responded somewhat differently this time. "The city needs to talk to people, a safe injection site is not yet what we're looking at." Lidgate restated what he heard the mayor say, "...that what I heard you say was that you (Mayor Lowe) didn't have a definitive answer on the question of whether we should have a safe-injection site." Mayor Lowe responded that was correct.

Just where is this city council at? The Mayor and councilors were happy in 2004 to have everyone believe they were all on board and moving toward adding a supervised injection site to the harm reduction services in Victoria.

Paul Lidgate told me in an interview Friday "I'm expressing the same frustration evident in the Weekend Edition's editorial of July 22, that continued waffling and fence-sitting on this issue is doing harm to the issue itself. I know we need to build community support before proceeding with a safe-injection site, and I know there would be a great deal of bureaucracy to overcome to make it a reality."

Carol Romanow long time Victoria activist and member of SOLID (Society of Living Intravenous Drug Users) asked, "How much longer can we wait for people to die? We need to stop talking. We need to simply start building and they will come."

Lidgate credits the progressive voices in the VCE for advancing the (safe-injection) issue and very likely pressed Mayor Lowe and others on council to address what might otherwise have been ignored.

Still Lidgate is concerned that some of those progressive voices may have backed away from this issue because of a possible public backlash. "Having put the issue on the agenda, progressive councilors should overcome partisanship and work with others on council to ensure the issue is properly and fully addressed, for the benefit of our city, for the sake of injection drug users, for all of us."

Lidgate a member of the City Parks, Recreation and Community Services Advisory committee raised the issue of a safe-injection site at the July 5, 2004 meeting to move the debate into the community. The matter was referred to the Mayor's advisory committee.

The question for voters in Victoria is one of what will happen next. Is this council hoping to put off the tough debate on this important issue until after the election? Voters will be electing people in the fall that will be making decisions on how the city advances harm reduction services and supports for drug users or if endless rounds of studies keep it from occurring.

Mayor Lowe and council have been supportive of advancing a harm reduction model similar to what the Mayor saw in Europe. The mayor has repeated referred to the successes in Vancouver. So why is VCE so alarmingly quiet as the Mayor backpedals just months before an election

This election is the time to have the debate with the people of Victoria. Councilors and the Mayor are supposed to lead.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Republican Jesus - Its real!

Okay so it may not be. I came across this blog and it is hilarious! It has a disclaimer ...

"This is political satire. Everything posted here should be understood in that
In one post, The Battle Hymn of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders is a fabulous ditty pointing out the troubles of the Republicans. The song should be sung to the tune of the Marine Corps Hymn ...

Our George was safe - he made the Guard
And Rush had a sore ass;
Deferments saved Dick's butt five times
But not the working class;
In the dorms of far-off college quads
A light year from the war
You will find us cursin' Democrats

One Hundred-One Keyboards. more here

From that to ...


Hurry Rapture
Come to daddy
Come to save America
Praises be to our sky daddy
He’s the bomb that’s on the bus
Millions waiting
For the Rapture
Maxing out their credit cards
Getting ready for a slaughter
God’s a killer you can trust
more here

Jesus' General is a place to go to ease your soul!

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Battle over St. Paul's is rising

St. Paul's is a hospital located in the Westend of Vancouver. A place that has come to be an integral part of the community. As I wrote earlier this year, St. Paul's Hospital is the closest thing British Columbians have to a community hospital.

It wasn't always that way. In the beginnings of the "Gay Cancer" days the hospital was like many others across the country and the United States. An ethics expert whose name I cannot recall right now came in in the late 80's to discuss AIDS and providing service to diverse communities, that made the Westend home.

The hospital provides many functions of local nature and many of provincial and international in scope. It is a leading Heart and Stroke treatment facility, providing a range of services to people from across BC and the Westend. Diabetes treatment is also highly regarded.

St.Paul's developed into a "community hospital" because of the AIDS epidemic that struck so many gay men in the 80's. Gay activists demanded treatment, research and support for people living with HIV. These activists insisted on being consulted on treatment, care and support within the hospital.

I recall visiting St. Paul's in the mid 80's to see my friend Cliff. He was there, his final days near. He was left on his own pretty much, not much was available to stem the tide of the HIV virus. Nurses would gown up when they went in, no one would shave him, touch him without a gloved hand.

Boy how have things changed. The hospital is now a world leading research facility on the treatment of HIV and AIDS. From developing drug protocols to world leading drug trials, they match up with any in the world.

Through all of this St. Paul's became the communities hospital. They treated drug addicts, people in the sex trade, seniors and the gay community. The hospital advanced palliative and respite care options for those dying and those living with and or supporting those living with HIV/AIDS.

That could all change in the year ahead. St.Paul;s parent, providence Health is looking at relocating the hospital several blocks awy outside the area. This would have devastating effect on many that utilize the services. Many using the facility live within blocks of the hospital, in a community that is safe for them to live in. Many would be disadvantaged and likely feel more removed from health services provide if it were moved.

We know plans are afoot to move St. Paul's for a few reasons. The first being the fact Providence health has acquired an option to buy land to build on. The option allows them the first right to purchase should they want it. The second reason is the provincial governments wish to broker public private partnerships in healthcare, much like the current deal with the Abbotsford hospital. Finally, given the need to raise funds for a project, St. Paul's cannot count on the provincial government to cough up all the money needed.

The current site of St. Paul's is on some of Vancouver's most underdeveloped real estate in the downtown core on a major throughfare, Burrard street. If Providence could sell the land they would make a significant profit.

To date St. Paul's is keeping tight lipped about their options. Yet during the last election St. Paul's met with provincial Finance Minister, Colin Hansen to discuss the option of moving ahead with a Public Private Partnership on lands the hospital has acquired an option to purchase from.

I see it playing out like this...

St. Paul's sells the current site to a consortium that will also build the hospital on a new site. Along with that sale, the consortium will be offered a 30 year deal to provide janitorial, administrative and security services along with the building contract. That deal will provide the contractor with a guaranteed amount of funding, pay the cost of building and a profit to the developers (Consortium).

Will we be better served with this deal? Likely not. Not only will we lose a community hospital, an anchor of the community, we will also see the character of the hospital change. British Columbians will be burdened with a 30 year deal that guarantees a profit and more condos and office buildings will added to the Westend.

Lorne Mayencourt has stated he will resign if St. Paul's moves. He should be safe as this project will likely be another year or more before it can be ready for real talks with developers. In the interim, Providence and St. Paul's have no planned community consultations and will continue to build the case for moving the hospital.

The provincial government could end all this speculation, end the uncertainty by saying no to moving the hospital. City hall could do likewise. I expect that the new group. Vision Vancouver headed up by Jim Green and Tim Stevenson along with some members of COPE will do what they can to stall or prevent the move.

To be successful, Vision Vancouver is going to have to elect all five persons they are planning on running for council. A failure to do this will leave this whole issue in the hands of a a lack luster MLA in the name of Lorne Mayencourt. I hope I am wrong, that he will finally prove he can stand up for the people living in the westend.

If you are keen to save St. Paul's Hospital go to Save St. Paul's Coalition.

There is a public Forum set for July 23, Saturday at 2pm. The forum wil be at the West end Community Centre at 870 Denman.

See story in the Westender "New coalition asks that hospital owners fully disclose their plans"

For more on St. Paul's, BC Liberals, Lorne Mayencourt, Tim Stevenson, NDP, Vancouver use the technorati search box here and at Queer Thoughts.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Public stomps private insurance again!

Ontario car owners are paying substantially more for insurance than BC residents says the Consumers’ Association of Canada. On average, car insurance in Ontario is up to 45% more than British Columbia. The average rate is $2,383.64 a year in Ontario a whooping $1,000 more than the average cost of $1,324.99 in B.C.

Auto Insurance in Ontario like much of Canada is private. BC auto insurance is provided by ICBC, a crown corporation, owned by the government. Last year it was reported that private insurance companies raked in over 4.5 billion dollars in profits. Calls for lower insurance rates were made and the governments' in some provinces directed the companies to lower rates.

In one example the study received quotes from 31 insurance companies on a 40 year old male in Ontario with a clean driving record, insuring a 2000 Honda Civic would pay between $1,250 up to $5,000 a year.

"Consumers in Ontario have been clearly harmed by outrageous price increases for auto insurance over the past three years. Victims of crashes have also been impacted by the Ontario Government’s actions of imposing a $30,000 deductible on benefits paid to them. Innocent victims of crashes have suffered at the hands of the insurance industry while this industry continues to put billions of dollars of profits in its pockets", Mr. Bruce Cran, President of the Consumers’ Association, Media release, July 19, 2005.

One aspect that consumers may be unaware of is the financial arrangements between some brokers (the people that sell you the insurance) and the insurance company. They often carry only a couple of insurance companies which limits your access to the cheapest possible rate.

You need to shop around for insurance, you may save substantially by doing so. The Consumers Association recomends you call as many as you can. You can also check out where you can get quotes from up to 30 different companies.

The study again highlights the differences between public and private insurance, something that will be watched with a great deal more interest in BC with the re-election of Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals and their connections with the private sector insurance companies.

This space will have more on public vs private insurance and the potential to open the door in BC to expansion of private auto insurance.

You can download the Consumers’ Association of Canada study (in PDF format), click here.

For more on ICBC, BC Liberals, Gordon Cambell, Consumers’ Association of Canada use the technorati search box here and at Queer Thoughts.

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Tim Stevenson drops case

Tim Stevenson the NDP candidate who lost by 11 votes to Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt in Vancouver-Burrard, has dropped his legal case to have a by-election called due to irregularities.

Stevenson will run for city council this fall, joining Jim Green who will be announcing his intention to run for Mayor.

Stevenson cited a request from Green to drop the case and run for the City this fall.

In other news we heard yesterday that Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt will not face charges in an altercation with a street person earlier this year. The special prosecutor stated that there was little hope of a conviction given the evidence.

Fight dropped
By Irwin Loy, 24 hours

Stevenson drops election appeal (Audio)
Last updated Jul 20 2005 05:37 PM PDTCBC News

For more on Tim Stevenson, Lorne Mayencourt, Vancouver-Burrard and the BC Liberals, use the Technorati search box in the side bar here and at Queer Thoughts

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Royal Assent Given to Same-sex marriage

Deputy Governor General Morris J. Fish acting on behalf of Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, signed Bill C-38 into law this afternoon. Canada has now become the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex weddings.

Belgium was the first country followed by the Netherlands and Spain in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Condoms set us all free

It began with my great-grandmother and a condom. Gertrude Violet Pinchbeck born in 1898 near Fort McLeod in northern BC while her parents were on a pack train. She was the to be the first of 14 children born to her parents and was my great-grandmother.

Each year the priest would visit her parents shack and tell them of God's will that they produce another child. If one were not on the way the mother would be admonished and the father told to do his duty to god.

This was the basic means of the Church's control over the population. Women were to submit to their husband and the church. A life of producing and caring for children and her husband. Families with many children meant women could not think for themselves, they had too much to do just in feeding and watching over children.

At the age of six, Gertrude was sent by force, to the mission school outside the village of Williams Lake. She did not want to go, her mother needed her oldest child to stay home to help look after the four other children as she was again with child, her sixth. The Church won.

At the mission school Gertrude learned the meaning of church. She was beaten for speaking her language, beaten for mentioning boys or looking at them, beaten for not bowing to the priest's needs when he entered her room or dormitory. She would spend three years with each summer off to return home. Each year she was forced to go back.

This school taught her about god's design, to have a large family, to submit to men and the church. Her role was in effect to be a baby production tool. That may sound somewhat crude, yet that is what many women became.

The government sanctioned the beatings, the control, imposed by priests and nuns under direction from "God". My great-grandmother turned out to one of the lucky ones, she escaped the clutches of this tyranny imposed by the church and government when she discovered the condom.

Condoms could be found, from other women and sometimes a doctor had them. You had to be quiet, you did not tell people. Gertrude when married insisted on using the condom and when the priest told her she would burn in hell she told him to go their himself as he had put her mother through hell on earth.

Now that act of using a condom, by my great-grandmother and many other great grandmothers in itself has not led directly to gay rights being recognized today, it is however an act that if it had not occurred, would have entrenched the Church's control.

We as a society soon discovered as many Catholics know today, that using a condom and sex itself are not sins despite the words of priests to the contrary. If it turns out to be a sin sobeit.

Marriage was used by government and religion to control the masses. Government slowly moved to provide civil marriages, to provide divorce, to make women equal partners to their husbands. Obey has been removed from most marriage oaths taken this day, with many couples writing their own marriage vows, marriages held in non traditional venues, without the church.

Marriage has evolved and one of the contributors was a condom, each time it was used and insisted upon by my great-grandmother and others of her generation, they took back their lives and set us all on the path to equality.

Today as the representative of the Queen assents to the will of the House of Commons and the Senate, gays and lesbians will be permitted to marry from coast to coast to coast. Today is also the day when many of my great-grandmothers generation and later generations will be hearing about a settlement offer from the federal government with respect to the abuse they received in the mission schools.

None of Gertrude's three children or their children went to a residential school.

Today I celebrate Gramma's contribution to my freedom and the freedom she gave her children.

Left to right - My great grandmother, my sibling Maureen, my great great grandmother (mother of 14) holding my brother Keith, grandmother standing and that is yours truly sitting on the arm of the chair in 1960.

For more information on social conservatives, Stephen Harper, gay, same-sex or equal marriage, James Dobson, evangelicals, Focus on the Family, Bishop Henry, use the Technorati search box in the side bar here and at Queer Thoughts

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Fear our Children will talk to us

It happens every single day. Here in Canada, in the United States and around the world ...

I shut my mouth again. At that moment it felt as though my world had come crashing down around me. I was crushed. My mother, who I loved with all my heart, was telling me that she would no longer love me if I was gay. The woman I’d known my entire life would have nothing to do with me if I was gay. This was going so horribly wrong.

“No Mom”, I finally replied, “of course I’m not gay. I suppose what I meant to say was that I haven’t found the right girl yet, and probably won’t, for some time. So stop bugging me about getting a girlfriend. It’s annoying.”

“So you’re not gay, then. So you just haven’t found the right girl yet.”

“Yes Mom.” I said quietly. “And don’t go around spreading what we talked about like you usually do okay?”
- Out of Control, July 19, 2005

So many teens, so many adults and then they become married men, pushed deep and deeper into closets. Head over to Out of Control and provide some support, let him know many gay and straight people support him.

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Cotler wants acceptance and Conservatives agree

Canadian Justice Minister, Irwin Cotler wants marriage commisioners to be allowed to say I don't to some Canadians that want to marry. This is a perversion of justice if the Minister gets his way. I can not accept the status of second class on this matter.

The Minister has been supporting this position for some time now. He cannot do anything on this as it is a matter for provincial governments. Cotler is trying to provide himself with political cover on the issue of equal marriage.

I came across Cotler's words on this in the Globe and Mail after my stroll through Tory Blog land this morning. There is quite a discussion happening at Angry in the Great White North. The War Room is particularily strong on his opposition to gay or same-sex marriage.

But some provinces, including Saskatchewan, have taken a hard line. Mr. Quennell, who did not return calls last week and is on vacation this week, issued a statement late last year saying marriage commissioners are expected to follow the law and could lose their jobs if they do not marry same-sex couples.

This is clearly a source of some frustration for Mr. Cotler. If there is a conflict between religion and equality rights, he said "there is a principle of reasonable accommodation. . . . One should be able to find a way of accommodating those who for reasons of conscience feel they don't want to perform a same-sex marriage." ~ Globe and Mail, July 19, 2005

The right to perform a civil marriage service in Canada should be extended only to those Canadians willing to perform them for any Canadian that wants to use the service. Sorry Mr. Nichols, but you can not accept a government appointment and then discriminate against citizens.

If you want to perform marriages for straight couples only then go do so within a church that has that position.

Check out the discussion at Angry in the Great White North. Be polite as always folks.

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Nisga Doc not Docu-porn

Sean Holman, a very talented reporter operating his own website has uncovered a government paid for booklet in which he calls Docu-porn. The reference to porn is the number of images in the document, Holman infers are a waste of tax dollars. That is where I disagree with Holman.

The federal government added fuel to the issue by refusing to release the cost of producing and printing the 54 page document, entitled, "seeking an agreement that would benefit future generations. Collected Wisdom ".

The document is meant to convey the essence of the agreement with the Nisga and why it is important to all of us. In a day of information overload, it becomes a challenge to find means and ways to convey information. The new booklet does this very well. The images are not gratuious, they are part of conveying the nature of the agreement. The old adage , a picture is worth a thousand words could not be more true in this case.

Holman is looking for some hard news these days and he finds it often, this however is a red herring, worthy of CannedWest and BCTV. The Federal government should cough up to Sean, who will tell us all. In the mean time, perhaps we can have some people probing into the secret document signed off by the BC Liberal government with first nations. We all deserve to know what this involves. Sean is already on this case.

Most British Columbians have a vested interest in resolving treaties with First Nations. Now what is that Gordon Campbell and his government have in mind. They may actually have an advantage in resolving some of these treaties if they have a mind to bringing business and investment certainty to British Columbia.

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