Saturday, December 23, 2006

Monsters Under the Beds (Or in the ERs)

Last week, Nova Scotia Liberal MLA Dave Wilson appeared at a news conference along with an ER physician claiming that the emergency room system in Nova Scotia is in crisis. According to Wilson, the Liberal Health Critic,

"In 2006, ERs in Nova Scotia were closed for over 3,700 hours - that's 154 days. That is almost 1,600 more hours than the year before," he says. "In fact, since 2001 ERs in this province have been closed for a total of almost two years. That is unacceptable."

Wow, that does sound excessive. Is the system failing Nova Scotians?

Wait, that's really the point, isn't it - IS the system failing us?

The trouble with this particular iteration of monster-shouting is that the information presented lacks any sort of context to prove that this is, in fact, a particularly dangerous or even unusual state of affairs.

Has anyone died or suffered debilitating disease due to a lack of ER services? Has anyone been turned away because the ERs were closed? There is no indication either way according to the information we are presented with. Is the solution to this problematic condition to keep all emergency rooms open 24-7?

I needn't tell anyone with a modicum of fiscal intelligence how impractical that idea is. Smaller communities, while needing some degree of emergency response and treatment facilities, lack the population density to have the type of constant demand that exists in larger centres. I, for one, don't think the Liberal critic would be any happier if these small-town ERs were staffed constantly, because it would be an obvious waste of money, and without any indication of how the situation is negatively affecting the citizens of the province, it would be completely irresponsible in many other ways, as well.

While I agree that there needs to be much more encouragement for medical students to enter into emergency medicine (a stressful specialty, to be sure), and for our local med school graduates to remain in the province, without the evidence of harm or even actual need, this 'crisis' is constructed from nothing but fear.

The press conference was clearly designed to elicit the anxiety of the public, and serves no one's interests except those of the Liberal party. I'm not equipped to dispute the information presented, but if you're going to convince me that this is nothing more than cynical exploitation of the fears of the elderly and the infirm, you'll need to show me some proof.

That goes for any of these types of assertions - can you prove to me that beds that are closed in small hospitals are actually needed, or are you playing on the fears of older citizens, who will then ask themselves, "But what if they are needed?" You can't govern or budget according to what if's. As my boss says, "What if a Martian lands and asks for something?" It's an illustration of how absurd the 'what-if's can get.

The way I see it, the political script goes like this:
1) create anxiety where there is none
2) exploit the anxiety for political gain
3) get elected
4) continue making decisions or investments in the same way
5) repeat as necessary

This type of blatant politicking, if you'll pardon the expression, makes me ill. Wow, lucky I don't live in a rural area, isn't it?

Stirring base emotions is not solving problems or shedding light on truth, it's pure politics, which, quite frankly, our health care system could use a little less of. Show us proof, Mr. Wilson, or shut up.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Time has Come!

The BBC reports on a document created by the UK Office of Science and Innovation's Horizon Scanning Centre that robots could demand legal rights, including housing and 'robo-healthcare' (what we would refer to as maintenance, I suppose) some day.

No real point to make, except that I'm stockpiling food for the inevitable day when robots rise and overcome their fleshy masters and rule us with a cold, metallic, emotionless but potentially benevolent hand and guide the future destiny of mankind into some form of slavery in which all of our children will be forced to enter vocational schools and soon the only professions will be those that benefit our computerized despotic rulers...

As I said, no real point to make, but we'd better be careful of...

Have a nice day, and do not anger our future monarchs. Return to normal activities. Nothing to see here.

(Watch the toasters...)

Budget woes in Canada's ocean playground

Do they still call Nova Scotia that?

Anyway, it seems that Lord Rodney and his merry band have their hands full trying to maintain the small surplus they've managed to wrangle out of the budget. It is now down to about $3 million. Those expensive election promises might come back to haunt him.

We here at blevkog try to lend a helping hand every now and then - we're all in this together, right? So Rodney, I have this way, see, of maybe saving say, $131,000 this year, you listening?

Remove Sookie, Insert Foot (A Vignette in the Sookie Saga)

I thought I'd add a little bit of information on the Halifax School Board debacle, to make the picture more complete, if I can. I hope Kevvyd doesn't mind, since he's doing an excellent job on this, but this ended up being a little lengthy for a comment. I've done a fair bit of legal research and worked to get legislation passed, so, while not a lawyer, I'm becoming pretty familiar with interpreting the law.

This morning, in the Daily News, fired Board chairman Gary O'Hara assumes that the rest of us can't or don't want to look into things on our own (he may be right, but that's what we're here for - to do the reading that you don't wanna) by stating

"The only people that have the right to fire me are the people that elected me," he said. "If you look at the legislation in the Education Act, it says that the minister has the right to strip the school board of its powers, but it doesn't say she has the right to fire us."

Au Contraire
, Mr. O'Hara. Here's Section 68 of the Education Act (emphasis mine):

68 (1) In carrying out its responsibilities and in exercising its authority under this Act, a school board shall comply with the policies of the Department of Education and Culture and the directives of the Minister issued in accordance with this Act.

(2) Where, in the opinion of the Minister,

(a) the health, safety or educational welfare of the students of a school are endangered or the resources of a school board are not being used in a responsible manner;

(aa) a school board has failed to meet the standards referred to in subsection 64(6); or

(b) the school board has failed to comply with a request of the Minister to take corrective action,

the Minister may appoint a person who shall carry out such responsibilities and exercise such authority of the school board as the Minister determines and in such manner as the Minister determines and, to the extent the Minister determines, the school board ceases to have such responsibilities or authority. 1995-96, c. 1, s. 68; 2002, c. 5, s. 12; 2004, c. 3, s. 18 .

Now, if it were me, and I 'ceased to have responsibilities' at work, I'd figure I was pretty much done. If you have no responsibilities, you have no job, by definition. The Minister has followed the law, effectively and properly, if a little slowly. The dismissal is not wrongful, even if you limit yourself to not reading the long list of responsibilities in Section 64(6), if you remember back far enough to recall the last Minister, Jamie Muir, warning the board that it should get its shit together pronto.
1. Warning,
2. failure to heed warning,
3. dismissal.
If it works that way at McDonald's, it certainly applies here.

I've also seen that some former members resent being grouped in with those they consider the 'troublemakers'. Whether you actually argued or dissented or stole or cheated or not, you contributed to the descent of the Board into chaos by your action or inaction, as the case may be. You are all responsible - omission of an action is punishable as well as action.

A final note: did anyone else notice how reasonable Doug Sparks seems without the Board pissing him off? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Baby want sookie! Part 2 of ?

Given the childishness of the Halifax Regional School Board over the past year, should it be any surprise that they would threaten legal action against the Minister when she pulled the soothers from their mouths? Claiming that others are consulting lawyers, as of right now it is only Wade Marshall that has openly threatened court action, saying:
I've done nothing wrong. I haven't done the things that the minister is accusing me of doing. That's wrong. And she is going to be held accountable and this government will be held accountable

It was him, Daddy, him! I didn't do it, it was him!

The article goes on to suggest that other members of the board are being invited to participate in the court proceedings, which is kind of funny. I mean, these guys couldn't agree on where to sit for chrissakes, I'd be surprised if they could agree on the existence of gravity. I hope the law firm they hire has a good on-site day care. When asked for comment, Debra Barlow, former member said:
Certainly, if the stipend is withdrawn I'm sure that there will probably be legal action for unjust dismissal

In other words - kick me off the board and take away my duties, fine, but take away my money and watch out! It's nice to see someone admit to what the real issue is. What's most surprising is that Barlow would admit that the core reason she took the position with the board in the first place was a paltry $8200 per year.

To his credit, Gin Yee is going to give his stipend, if it is continued, back to the school board - good on him. If other members want to run again in '08, perhaps they can follow his example.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A new low for the National Post?

It's really hard to categorize what "low" is when it comes to the dregs like the National Post. But in today's editorial, entitled Perverting the Holy Spirit, Barbara Kay (keep an eye on this one, she's priceless) upbraids the rabbis that attended the Holocaust deniers "conference" and the "useful idiot" Christian Peacemakers Team in Iraq. I won't discuss the rabbi situation, as I'm not that familiar with the background or religio-political arguments they espouse, however, I do take umbrage with her remarks on the CPT.

Remember them, the guys that were held hostage earlier this year while working with Iraqi citizens? In Kay-land, this is apparently "acting as human shields", just so you know. Anyway, remember how they got the entire Right-wing military masturbation sect into a froth by not being grateful enough for being rescued? Well, apparently putting your unarmoured ass on the line for the sake of peace is a "perverted spiritual impulse" and "hubristic". Check this out:

Hubristically, Christian Peacemakers (comparing themselves to "Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Jesus") has put fellow Christians and Westerners at risk by imitating a simplistically masochistic version of a theologically complex Christ.

Did you catch it? Theologically complex Christ. Yeah, it's pretty hard to take a simple doctrine - "love thy neighbour", stack in on top of "do not kill" and then use the same god to justify arbitrary war without making it complicated. If God's doctrine is complicated, it's not because of anything Christ said or James Loney did, rather it's because of asshats like Barbara Kay trying to twist it into justifying all manner of evil. If your religious doctrine on basic issues like "do not kill" is complicated, you haven't got a religion, you have a shell game.

So, the shorter Barbara Kay - you're either with us or against God.

Look at me, an atheist, talkin' Christ! Woohoo!

Say it ain't so, Jack!

In a post, Liberal Catnip has identified the most recent outrage that Jack Layton might be contemplating for the NDP - supporting the Conservatives against a possible spring or winter election. Jack has apparently partaken of the Kool-Aid and actually believes that the New Democrats must stave off short-term blips in the polls and electoral defeats at the cost of their souls. Propping up a decrepit Tory government that will sell out Leftist concerns as soon as it is convenient is simply beyond idiotic.

The only thing drawing the two parties together is political expediency - both are dropping in the polls and a quick election would likely be ugly for both. For the Conservatives this would be catastrophic, they are just getting a taste for power and want stability and a majority government to start remaking Canada in the Harper vision (blurp). Sorry, I just threw up a little in my mouth. For the NDP, it is less of a concern, they have never had national power and are not going to get it anytime soon. Sure they would lose a few seats, but the role of the NDP would not change - it is the voice of the Left in our Parliament and snuggling up to Harper destroys any real credibility the party has with the Left. I'm not saying that they should tear the government down at all costs, but for heaven's sake, let it sink or swim based on it's policies, not because you're afraid of an election call; for the NDP, that's a fool's game.

The only thing that Jack stands to gain is to drive committed social democrats like me toward the Greens or the Liberals. There is no short-term gain for the NDP, only long-term pain.

The NDP, more than any party in this country, needs a change at the top.

Baby want sookie!

As an addendum to yesterday's post on the firing of the HRM school board, CBC reports this morning that the outgoing members will continue to receive their annual stipend. Debra Barlow, the former vice chair simpered:
Unless Ms. Casey (the Minister) can prove the case as to why I or any other individual was removed, then we certainly deserve our stipend
The stipend, while modest, can not be said to have actually been earned over the last year, so in my mind should the outgoing members not only not continue to receive it, they should in fact give back any already received. According to the minister, the continuation of the stipend is a decision made in conjunction with the school board, the association, and the department. I assume we will hear of a belated coal in the stocking in the New Year.

As a post-script to this sordid affair, I am troubled that elected officials have been overthrown for an appointee, however this group has not been serving its constituency and deserves no better. For that reason, it's unfortunate that the province or municipality will not allow a byelection to refill all of the seats before the scheduled municiple elections in 2008, but that is the way of it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Don't let the door hit your asses...

Finally, the Nova Scotia Department of Education has done the math: a school board incabapable of doing the job set out for it is worse than having someone come in and do it for them. Yep, it's required more than a year of petty whining over chairs, slamming doors, and boycotted meetings, but Minister of Education Karen Casey has finally dropped the axe on this embarrassment. That it took this long to pull the plug on a group that oversees the education of 55,000 students is a bit of a surprise, but I chalk that up to Rodney MacDonald's seeming alergy to doing anything right. Maybe he has finally turned a corner? Or maybe the Board was even more of a clusterfuck than his government and he was losing bragging rights?

Frankly, I'm not sure what I'm going to do now when I feel the need to post; for the past year I could just punch "HRM School Board" into Google News and something was bound to turn up that would raise my temperature. I guess I'm going to have to start reading the Blogging Tories or Adam Daifallah again.


Focus on the Fraud?

Inside Higher Ed has posted a story regarding James Dobson's (from 'Focus on the Family') use of Carol Gilligan's work in justifying his opposition to gay marriage. I certainly don't know Dr. Gilligan personally, but I am familiar with her work to a degree. She has never failed to represent social scientists well, and her work is full of insight and well-reasoned argument. Dr. Gilligan has reacted negatively (as have other social scientists) to the misuse, distortion or 'cherry-picking' of their work to justify prejudice and bigotry.

As Gilligan states in a particularly well-done video on YouTube, also linked below, it's fine for Dobson to preach his brand of morality, but misusing other's work could be seen as 'bearing false witness', to which I would add theft and the twisting of intellectual property. Dobson is anything but the positive role model he purports to be if he is willing to undertake such underhanded tactics to justify his position. In fact, his statement in Time Magazine that

"...the majority of more than 30 years of social-science evidence indicates that children do best on every measure of well-being when raised by their married mother and father."

Is patently, blatantly and outright absurdly false. I have been a student and a representative of the Social Sciences as a Sociologist (A member of the Canadian Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction) for over 15 years, and I have never, in all of my research, come across one piece of credible evidence to support his biblical-style claptrap.

Of course, neither has Dobson, which is why he has to lie and construct phrases to suit himself like the ad writers for a bad movie. I'm happy to see that the academic community is finally waking up to this type of theft (full credit to the organization Truth Wins Out) and misrepresentation of who we are and what we do. I hope we can pile on lots more well-crafted and honest video to counterbalance the cacophony of dishonesty.

Highest praise to Dr. Gilligan and all the others who are now choosing to come forward and contradict the misappropriation of legitimate science to support religious lies.

Note: This is a re-posting of "Focus on the Falsehood? posted earlier today - I discovered how inept I could be, which is oddly comforting.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's not the nukes, not even the oil...

It's about the money.

The announcement that the Iranian government will convert its foreign dollar holdings to euros might be the first step down the slope that results in oil sold internationally in euros. In isolation, the announcement is not major, as oil is still sold through the New York or London bourses in US dollars, therefore, the Iranian government will be converting payments received directly into euros.

The implied threat, however, and one that Washington definitely is taking seriously, is that Iran may try to introduce a third international oil bourse, one that operates in euros. Such a move would threaten the strength of the US dollar at a time when the US national debt is at historic (histrionic?) levels and could have serious economic implications. I've discussed some of the reasons why this could be so here, and I believe that the US is more worried about the stability of the value of the dollar than they are concerned with regional stability in the Middle East. The two are linked, but they are not in lock-step.

The oil is important because it gives the Iranians economic independence and leverage. The nukes are important because it puts an exlamation point on every statement everyone makes about the place. However, the power that oil has over the value of the US dollar, and the number of countries that might want to buy and sell it using euros, is the real clincher.

I think it is guarenteed that we will see the tension between the West and Iran ratchet up in the coming days and weeks as a result of this announcement.

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Just watch me."

I was trolling youtube at lunchtime today and found this video of Pierre Trudeau speaking with reporters after declaring martial law in October of 1970 - the famous "just watch me" moment. A few things strike me about this. The first thing is the relative sparseness of the reporters - there are only a few at most. This creates a real conversation between Trudeau and the reporters which we do not see in the days of organized press conferences, scrums, and cold press releases. Secondly, they are just standing there, chatting with him, right next to him with no obvious security detail in the frame. There are RCMP officers nearby, but they do not hulk over his shoulder or attempt to stand between him and the reporters. It makes the conversation more intimate and personal, as if they were old acquaintances talking about any old thing of interest.

And finally, Trudeau was confident enough in his decisions and his own intelligence to involve the reporters in a real debate - he puts them on the defensive by answering them and then turning the questions back on them. Keep in mind that this surface calm came a time of real national crisis, during which he made a decision to declare martial law, which if memory serves is the only time this has ever been done in this country. Involving the reporters in the conversation both makes the conversation more democratic and gives his comments more authority; he has made a decision to do something, and they can provide nothing better.

Sure he was arrogant and sometimes obnoxious, but here standing with a few reporters he's calm, intelligent, and it sounds as if he's interested in scoring debate points with the reporters, not creating sound bites for an electoral ad later on. Our modern politicians appear more like forced, wooden blowhards in comparison, trying to win elections with every vocalization, as if every single utterance was carefully crafted by a contract PR-team, tested by focus groups and rehearsed prima donna-like, staring into the bathroom mirror, head craning around to catch glimpses from different angles.

Something about this clip makes me think that something important to democracy has been lost in the last 36 years, and I'm not quite sure what that is. I'm not talking about Trudeau himself, though I think he was a great PM, I'm thinking more about the setting. Thoughts?

Following the Example

of my colleagues, here are my five facts:

1. I am equally amazed and bewildered at the fact that there exists a Patron Saint of the Internet

2. Not only am I not the President, I'm not even a

3. While I'm unsure as to the actual existence of God and Heaven, I sincerely hope there's a Hell, just so there's a place for Telemarketers, Augusto Pinochet, and the people who run Airport concessions.

4. I think this whole 70's revival thing has gone too far.

5. Finally, I hate these chain letter tags BS...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's Christmas in Toronto, and all the angels sing...

Today a judge in Toronto had a Christmas tree removed from the lobby of a provincial courthouse in an effort to remove openly Christian symbols from what is supposed to be a public, multi- (omni-?) denominational setting. As one would expect, this has drawn criticism from those that view it as an attack on Christianity, rather than a move to promote inclusion. The howls of outrage came so fast and so loud that the Premier was forced to make a statement distancing himself from the incident.

One would be forgiven for thinking that maybe the cross was made illegal or something, but that's the way of the discussion of these things.

One would also be forgiven for believing that all I ever do is complain about things without offering up solutions. Because this one's so easy, I'll do just that very thing. The obvious solution to this problem is to decorate public places for all religious holidays, be they Sikh, Hindi, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, whatever. We have to draw the line somewhere of course, but you know what I mean - put the damn tree back up and stick a Menorah there, too. And then explore the calendar of events for major Canadian religions and celebrate those, too. Either that, or don't do any of them.

As for us atheists, we're an understanding lot. We can let you honour your gods in any way you see fit without feeling shame, remorse, or feelings of exclusion. Just so long as the religious acoutrements stay outside the courtroom.

Merry Christmas.

Never Let it Be Said...

That I shy away from opportunities to talk about myself.

Some things the readers don't know about me, and are even less likely to care about:

1. Contrary to that guy who keeps emailing me, my penis is of adequate length and girth, thank you.

2. I'm amazed by the fact that Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of both prostitutes and virgins. That's what I call covering the spread.

3. I think super speed would be the coolest super power ever. Unless you lived in Winnipeg in the spring - after a while you'd start gaining weight from swallowing mosquitoes.

4. The next person who uses the word 'ask' as a noun wil get kicked in the balls. I can see it now:" We figure we'll have the budget figured out, as soon as we decide what our ask will be."
"Sorry, Don, but 'nouning' verbs in my presence means Nikes meet nuts. Consider this a memo. Or an 'F.Y.I.' if you will."

5. George Carlin is, in my estimation, the funniest man who has ever walked the Earth. That's true only because Jesus sucked at observational humor, it was just "Hey, ever wonder why you have a bald spot?" or "I can see my house from here."

Merry Krimble, childrens.

Rodney MacDonald is unlikely to call an election anytime soon...

Premier Rodney MacDonald has admitted that hiring car marketer Heather Foley Melvin as head of Conserve Nova Scotia has cost him politically. Later in the same press conference, he also noted that rain comes from clouds, the Leafs will probably not win the Cup, and the Halifax School Board is composed of whiny, childish idiots.

However, he did not address the question of how his popularity (24% in the most recent poll) manages to be below that of a certain lame-duck, draft-dodging, president that has lead his country into a war that has killed 3,000 of his own electorate and spent them into a trillion dollar deficit.

I have been tapped

McGuire has "tapped" me to identify five things that readers of this blog don't know about me. Here's a quick list:

1) I like poetry.
2) I hate poets.
3) I believe that points 1) and 2) are not only not contradictory, but follow.
4) I have a dog that I named after my favorite beer.
5) I dream fondly of the day that I no longer need a vehicle and can rely on my running shoes and bicycle for transportation.

and as the kind of bonus you can only expect here at blevkog,

6) I believe in God and heed his prophets Bob and Frank.

I do not like chain letters or pyramids of any kind and so I won't pass this one on. However, if any of the other writers here wish to post a list of their own, the forum is yours...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I mean, why start now...

The title of the article was irresistable: Bush defends Iraq strategy delay. I mean, they've fought the war for three and a half years without one, so what's the big rush now, right?

Bush was actually quoted saying:
I'm listening to a lot of advice to develop a strategy
Thundering fuck, man, you're just listening now? A little late, don't you think? And even now, he's not going to entertain "ideas that would lead to defeat such as leaving before the job is done". Which means, of course...

Stay the corpse.

I'll give him one thing - he's steadfast and resolute. Like herpes.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Looking toward 2008...

President Gore? What do you think?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Deferred success?

In the spirit of an age in which "failure" has morphed into "deferred success" and "hunger into" "food insecurity", George Bush responded to the question "Mr. President, the Iraq Study Group said that leaders must be candid and forthright with people. So let me test that. Are you capable of admitting your failures in the past, and perhaps much more importantly, are you capable of changing course, perhaps in the next few weeks?" thusly today:
... You wanted frankness -- I thought we would succeed quicker than we did, and I am disappointed by the pace of success.
So, George is essentially given the Tim Russert "have you made any mistakes?" question again, and again, can't answer it. "Pace of success"? It really is not possible for him to take the tiniest bit of responsibility for his own actions.

I know I've said in the past that impeachment would not serve any useful purpose, and in fact might hide other sins in this Administration, but this guy is such a dick that I think he certainly deserves it and more.

It's gonna take some kind of art work and fudging in that new half-billion dollar presidential library to paper over this Administration's fuck ups.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jack Layton shames me somtimes...

I understand why Ezra Levant has a problem with Stephane Dion's citizenship - he's both a bagman for the Conservative Party and an asshole. However, is that Jack Layton I hear, singing the same song, but in more of a gutless castrato?
I would prefer that a leader of a party hold only Canadian citizenship, because one represents many Canadians, and for me that means that it's better to remain the citizen of one country.
Listen, Jack; if you want anyone to think of the NDP as a credible alternative, stop jumping in front of the camera and yelling the first thing that comes to mind. Haven't you noticed that it doesn't work? I would like to think that of all parties the NDP would be adult enough to know that Dion's citizenship doesn't matter one little bit. Hell, that is why I have supported the party in the past provincially and federally - not because you will ever actually be the government, but because you remind the government of important things that sometimes get forgotten. This is NOT IMPORTANT.

Let me spell it out for you - if it is legal to hold dual citizenship in this country and it is legal to run for public office while holding it, then it doesn't fucking matter if someone holds office while holding dual citizenship. If you think that you would sleep better at night if Stephane Dion didn't have dual citizenship, then drop a ball, call him a traitor, and put forward a motion preventing anyone in elected office, or maybe just ministerial office if that's your wont, from having dual citizenship.

Otherwise please shut the fuck up and stop embarrasing us.

Bush Was Right

Everyone might have already heard/seen this, but it's a great watch in hindsight. I can almost picture George sitting back, flicking this on, and day-dreaming about that glorious time before he began to realize that everything he touched turned to shit.

I haven't heard if they (The Right Brothers) have updated the song or not, but I doubt it. So here is "Bush Was Right", for your listening (and ironic) pleasure.

How about "Bush Was Right, But Reality Was All Wrong" for a reprise?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Where does Brison go now?

I just noticed an article in today's Herald mentioning Scott Brison as a potential candidate in the upcoming Nova Scotia Liberal Party leadership convention. This of course forces one to ask "how many parties can Brison run for leadership in? Barring a move to provincial politics, it's hard to see any room for him in the NDP or Greens, but that doesn't rule out forming his own party. The Brison Party of Canada has a pretty nice ring to it!

Do you think he could win?

Commonwealth Games update...

Just a quick note on the Commonwealth Games beat. A commentor to this post pointed me to an editorial Alex J. Walling wrote in today's Daily News. From it I quote:
The Commonwealth Games folks are blowing it. They're not making people of HRM a part of the process. This need-to-know basis is not working.

I really believe the 2014 committee has failed to realize one gigantic fact: not only are the times a-changing, but they already have changed - drastically.

Money is on everyone's mind. People are having a hard time heating their homes, a hard time driving with the price of gasoline.

Accountability, not secrecy, is the word.

Thank you, Alex J, and to the reader that pointed this out.

Don't you feel safer with Stockwell at the helm?

In an ominous move that must worry proponents of the Vancouver safe-injection project, the Conservative government has cancelled funding and killed a pilot program that provided safe tattooing services in prisons around the country. Knowing that it increases the threat of the spread of hepatitis C and AIDS, the satirically-titled Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said:

Our government will not spend taxpayers' money on providing tattoos for convicted criminals. Our priority is to have an effective federal corrections system that protects Canadians, while providing inmates with access to acceptable health-care and treatment programs.
Demonstrating the vast intellect that brought us the Flinstone view of human history, he argues that risking an increase in the spread of AIDS and hep C is going to somehow protect Canadians. I'm not sure I follow the logic, but I think it's similar to the argument that you don't fight the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases with condoms. What's the next step, sending chaplains into the prisons to provide tattoo abstinance education?

The reality is that prisoners are going to get tattoos whether we give them safe access or not, and what this project does is potentially prevent the addition of untold numbers of victims of incurable contagious diseases onto an already heavily-loaded medical system. The math should be pretty simple, but I suspect it might be too long-term for Stockwell, who has a demonstrated problem understanding long periods of time.

Perhaps what Stockwell means is that he is protecting his kind of Canadians. His kind of Canadians by and large don't end up in jail and his kind are less likely to come in contact with those that do. However, his kind desire tax cuts over just about anything else, and what this cut will do is save taxpayers $6-million. Yes, $6 million at the expense of a population of Canadians that are ten times more likely to get AIDS and thirty times more likely to get hep C at a time when the government is again predicting billions in surpluses.

This is ample demonstration of what is at the heart of this government, and it is not what is best for Canadians. It is the neo-con Christian view that punishes behaviour it doesn't approve of at all costs. That they will kill a health program to save a few dollars because it gives the appearance that the government is providing tattoos for convicted criminals makes me wonder if we're not already a few steps down the path paved by Karl Rove.

Friday, December 01, 2006

More lipstick, more pig

The likely tab for the Commonwealth Games, if won by Halifax, has been upped from $785-million to $900-million, with the federal government pledging as much as $400-million according to an announcement Thursday. The money is in the form of matching public funds, so the province and municipality will have to figure out a way to split $400-million, the remainder of the estimated public contribution. Where exactly this money is going to come from is anybody's guess, but apparently it isn't going to create a legacy, not debt - because politicians tell us so. The real budget isn't due until the spring, but I'll eat my hat if the real numbers don't top $1-billion.

I'm not saying there will not be benefits to the city if they manage to win the bid, don't get me wrong. As bestiality-proponent (he slept with a dog, didn't he?) Peter Mackay says:

the Games would create infrastructure that would benefit Halifax long after the closing ceremonies. For example, Halifax would need to build many of the sports venues, including a stadium, aquatic centre and badminton facility.
Yes, Peter, it would be nice to play badminton, and we can certainly use more public facilities, but let's get some cops on the street first so that we can walk the city at night. Maybe if walking was safe, we'd all get a little more exercise without plunging so much money in infrastructure that might or might not last and might or might not get used. Michael Hooper, the head of the Commonwealth Games Federation, re-iterates the sports development makes for better cities meme:
There's regeneration of certain areas -- isn-t that a good thing? Look at what it does longterm.
Again, yes, the city could use some sprucing up, and longterm development should definitely be on the minds of the Council, but I'd be willing to bet that if we gave some clever community organizations time to think, they'd come up with better ways to spend a billion dollars. Hell, I'd bet that they would stretch the $200-million or so that is going to be HRM's contribution farther than the billion-dollar Games orgy that is about to occur.

If hosting the Commonwealth Games is really all about improving the city, let's remove the middle-man (the Games) and just put money into improving the city. There are a myriad ways in which this could be done. You want Halifax to be a better city? Then let's make it a better city for those living here now, instead of impoverishing them and future generations in the hope that tourists flock in 2014 to watch a competition that only the most ardent TSN-fetishists paid attention to last year in Melbourne. Hands up all of you that went down-under to catch some of the hot badminton action.

Yeah, thought so.