Archive for the ‘News and Politics’ Category

If I were Prime Minister, I’d get paid better

Vancouver environmental hero David Suzuki has challenged Canadians to contribute their own ideas to the fight against global warming in his “If I were Prime Minister” project. Basically, he’s going around the country trying to get some ideas to present to the people we elected to actually get things done. I thought that’s what we had elections for, but whatever.

But there’s no need to wait until David comes knocking to give your two cents. A lot of people are heading directly to Youtube to post their own 20-second proposals about how Canadians can save the planet. So far, a disproportionate number seem to be coming from this city, like Todd Allen or Michael Wolfe (technically Richmond, but whatever). My own proposal can be found here.

Help save the planet while you still can.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire
I came across a smoking, bunt-out wreck of a car on the sidewalk outside the Vancouver Art Gallery the other day. It looked like one of those wrecks one often sees on news about war zones far from our placid shores. While gawkers like myself looked at it and tried to figure out where exactly the smoke was coming from, a little black and white television inside (presumably a better one would have ended up missing fairly quick) blared news reports of SUVs’ impact on the environment.

The installation was the creation of L’Action Terroriste Socialement Acceptable, a provocative art group sniping at the war-for-oil strategy of the United States government and society’s out-of control consumption.

It’s National Student Press Week

The Canadian University Press (CUP) recently started its national convention in Vancouver [mbv]. It’s going on right now, right as your read these words (unless of course you read these words after the 27th).

One thing that CUP has done recently is declare a National Student Press week a few years ago [wp]. Granted I don’t know the legality of a non-government organization declaring a national week of anything, but Prince George and Cape Breton have jumped on board with the week. So since the national student press conference is in Vancouver this year, and local sales of Granville Island and other local brewers have most likely shot through the roof, I’d like to call upon City Council to join with PG and CB and declare National Student Press Week.

Edit: If you want an insiders view of the conference then check out The Imprint‘s blog [imp] detailing their time in Vancouver for the Nash (national conference). The Imprint is a student paper out of the University of Waterloo.

Vancouver, we fucking love it

fog in yaletown

Originally uploaded by seawallrunner.

According to the Vancouver Sun Vancouverites are quite enamoured with living in Vancouver [vs]. 1,453 of us were surveyed and we all just can’t get enough of patting ourselves on our back and loving the Vancouver. Only two of the respondents said that hey hate living in Vancouver, and while traffic, local government and the detoriating enviroment were mentioned as concerns it’s still a pro-Vancouver city in Vancouver.

Conducted by Decima Research the survey found that, “73 per cent of respondents enjoy living in the area greatly, 23 per cent enjoy it somewhat, and only two per cent do not like it.” Some numbers, for those of you who’ve got their abacus out:

-73% enjoy greatly living in the Greater Vancouver area

-23% enjoy it somewhat

-2% do not really enjoy it

-38% say the overall quality of life in the area is getting worse

-23% say the overall quality of life is getting better

The question is are we all just smug assholes or is Vancouver really that great? For cities I’ve lived in I’d certainly rank it number one, and it’s on its way to becoming a world class city. So how about you Metroblogging Vancouver readers? Are you still in love with Vancouver?

CUP is coming to Vancouver

Some of the best memories I have are from when I was a student journalist. That’s right before I started blogging for free I worked in the coal mine that is the university press at the Phoenix [tp] at Okanagan University College in Kelowna. I miss pretty much everything about it, including staying up late and struggling with a Powermac G3 and a pirated copy of Quark to get the paper to the printer on time. Whether it was editing an article [ep] or writing one [teotw] it was almost all a joy.

One of the best parts was the paper’s involvement with the Canadian University Press (CUP) [wp], the world’s oldest national student organization. Its yearly national conference was always a great time combining a goodly amount of learning with mind numbing quantities of booze.

This year the annual CUP conference is being hosted in Vancouver from January 18 – 27 [cup]. People from the public are allowed to go, for a price. Having seen some of the big name speakers, such as Nardwuar the Human Serviette and Dan Savage before and they’re both fun if not high on actual education value.

The workshop “Getting paid to blog” sounds very interesting, especially since Vancouver’s Darren Barefoot [db] is one of the speakers. That and the other workshops will definitely be value for the money, if you’re thinking of going.

Though I’ve spoken at past CUP conferences I promise I wasn’t invited to this one, so feel safe in knowing you won’t have to listen to me. Feeling so safe you should go.

A&W: Zero trans fat (well, almost), 100 per cent Canadian

It’s been a long time since I sunk my teeth into a fast-food combo of a burger and fries – mostly since I would like to live until I’m very, very old. But a little piece of news about the A&W burger chain caught my eye today: it is the first Canada-wide hamburger chain to offer zero (or very much reduced) levels of transfat in its food. There are none of the artery-clogging trans fats in its fries any more, and its onion rings have only 5 per cent of the stuff left.

Of course, there’s still a whole lot of the regular kind of fat on their menu, so I wouldn’t recommend those still on their new-year’s resolution health kick to go there. But at least it’s a start for the fast-food giant.

But the thing that really caught my eye in the story is that A&W is based right here in Vancouver. And after a little research, I discovered that the A&W chain is 100 per cent Canadian-owned and operated. Who knew?

Laying down the law last week, a pollster called me up to ask how I would rate police services in Vancouver. I’m not really sure why I agreed to do it. Usually I just give them an excuse and hang up. This time, I took a few minutes to hear the questions.

I was a little upset that most of the questions lacked any nuance: for example, one question was whether I thought crime was increasing. Well, violent crime? Property crime? Aggressive panhandling? Lumping it all in together doesn’t seem to make sense.

Then there was a question near the end – would I be willing to pay an extra $100 on my taxes to support an increase in police services? That depends – what is the money going to pay for – more cops on the streets, or just higher salaries and new police cars? There was no context.

Nathalie Gettliffe: cause celebre or lying jerk?

Has anyone else been following the case of Nathalie Getliffe, the woman who slandered her former husband, Vancouverite Scott Grant, brainwashed their children and duped the country of France so she could get away with kidnapping them? (As reported by Reuters and a whole whack of other local media)

That truth in this case is stranger than fiction is no less valid for being a cliche. Getliffe’s audacity in coming back to Vancouver to give her dissertation (and subsequently getting busted by the cops when Grant tipped them off) seems more contrived than some of the worse Hollywood plot-twisters I’ve ever seen. I first noticed the story a few months back, but with her conviction, a lot more media outlets have picked up the international incident aspect of the story. Our local drama is definitely more compelling than the latest buzz on Federline or Cruise.

Medicare is safe after all

Looks like I wrote too soon about the demise of the Canada Health Act in Vancouver.

The new False Creek Urgent Care Centre will apparently operate just like any other free public clinic in Canada. No word yet on whether their first patient from Friday will be getting a refund.

I’ve heard from both sides by now on this issue and I think one’s view ultimately comes down to: if you got hurt in an accident, would you be willing to pay a few hundred dollars to get faster service? Would you be willing to pay a few thousand to ensure you didn’t have to wait months for an operation (during which your health could deteriorate to the point where a more invasive operation was needed?)

Private health care is here to stay

The Canada Health Act is dead.

Canada’s first “urgent care” clinic is opening in Vancouver this week. Twenty-four doctors who would otherwise be working for the public system will be employed there. This isn’t a threat to Canada’s public health system – it’s just the latest sign that the system is already rotten and finally the private sector is being allowed to plug in the holes.

In case anyone was wondering what private health care costs, the Urgent Care Centre will charge $199 for a basic evaluation and various charges for other procedures such as blood tests for $50 and X-Rays and $70 for an arm cast. If you just waited in a public hospital’s emergency ward, they’d take care of those things for free – just as long as you’re willing to wait around.

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