Bob Broughton's Blog about British Columbia politics

Let's make the 2010 Olympics a lip-synch free event

I thought that trying to pass off lip-synching as entertainment was an abomination when I was in my early teens, and spent too much time watching "American Bandstand" and "The Lloyd Thaxton Show." Improvements in sound and recording technology that developed during the late 60's could have made this abomination obsolete. Instead, we got EmptyV, which institutionalized it, and created an environment where people actually pay money to watch people on the stage pretend to sing and play instruments.

 The content of the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games is an occasional topic of conversation in Vancouver, although little is known about it other than the budgeted cost, which is $40 million. This money comes out of the pockets of taxpayers, and we should be insisting that we get Sheryl Crow, not Ashlee Simpson. I've put up an article on Vancouver 2010 Insider about this: Proposal for the 2010 opening ceremony.

Dr. Morgentaler's Order of Canada: What Controversy?

When the announcement that Dr. Henry Morgentaler had been awarded the Order of Canada appeared in the press on July 1, the word "controversial" almost always appeared somewhere in the first paragraph.

The term "controversy" implies that there is a difference of opinion. Where is this difference of opinion coming from? The story published by the Globe and Mail quoted Thomas Collins, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, as saying that the country's highest honour has been "debased". The article also quoted Joanne Byfield, president of Life Canada, expressing disapproval of giving the Order of Canada to a person who "kills babies for a living".

A couple of days later, we got the news that Father Lucien Larre of Coquitlam, who received the Order of Canada 25 years ago, is returning his award.

There's somewhere around five million practicing Roman Catholics in Canada. If these five million Canadians were represented by Collins and Larre, then, yes indeed, there would be a significant difference of opinion among Canadians, and thus a controversy.

The problem with this is, if we were to ask Collins and Larre if they are representatives of their flock, the answer would be "no". They weren't elected by anyone; they were appointed by a hierarchy with a head office in Rome, Italy. Not only that, there isn't a single female cardinal, bishop, or priest anywhere in this hierarchy.

Now, what about Joanne Byfield? I couldn't find out how many members Life Canada has, but they had enough money to put up some billboards with the disingenuous message that abortions in the ninth month of pregnancy are legal in Canada. The wife of right-wing idealogue Link Byfield, Joanne Byfield is just part of the Canadian Extension of the Republican Noise Machine.

Dr. Morgentaler stood up to these people. He opened up abortion clinics, then dared his opponents to shut them down. They made all sorts of threats, and called Dr. Morgentaler all sorts of names that I wouldn't want my mother to hear, but they couldn't shut the clinics down, or make their "baby killer" accusations stick.

This is because Dr. Morgentaler figured, correctly, that the fix is in on this issue. This could be a subject for a future blog entry, but to reduce it the argument to two sentences, people of means have always had and always will have access to abortions. Dr. Morgentaler's clinics extended this access to the rest of the population. He wasn't just a good choice for the Order of Canada; he was an excellent choice.  


The Conservative "Tax Trick"

I heard one of the Conservative attack ads on the radio for the first time yesterday. The radio ads are part of a highly orchestrated campaign, including a "Dion Tax Trick" web site.

How much of a tax are we talking about here? I had to look elsewhere to learn that Federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion proposes a tax that would initially be $10 per ton, and grow to $40 per ton over four years. How much will this cost us? Actually, not much. The tax would bring in about $15 billion, which is about $500 per capita. This would be offset, however, by an equivalent cut in income and business taxes and a boost in tax breaks for poor, elderly, northern and rural Canadians who would be hit by the increased cost of necessities such as home heating fuel, electricity, food and travel.

Now, let's have a look at the cost to consumers of Conservative government. When they took office in February, 2006, the average cost of a litre of gasoline 93.9 cents. It is now $1.469. This is an increase of 56%. Canadians purchase about 40 billion litres of gasoline per year, so the additional 53 cents per litre will cost Canadian consumers $21 billion this year.

So, the real "trick" here is being performed by the Conservatives and the petrochemical industry, who are banking on the reality that the public has a very short memory. The fact is, the petrochemical industry hates Dion, and they hate the idea of getting any reduction whatsoever in their record profits.

Here's another trick that Prime Minister Harper could try: he could invite his petrochemical industry friends over for martinis, and ask them to please reduce their prices, in order to reduce the likelihood that Harper and his government will be turfed out when the next election comes around. He could also plead our case with George W. Bush, who has even better oil industry connections (including the Saudi royal family) than the Conservatives do.


Overcrowding at Royal Columbian Hospital

I lost track a long time ago of the number of letters I've had published in the Royal City Record, but here's the latest one, published on June 7:

I learned from reading The Record of a proposal to use portables to relieve congestion in the Royal Columbian Hospital emergency room.

One problem associated with this is where, exactly, to put the portables. Here's an idea; the site where Saint Mary's Hospital was located is still an empty lot. They could put the portables there.

Robert Broughton
New Westminster

Environment Canada says running South Fraser Perimeter Road through Burns Bog is a bad idea

A film by Damien Gillis about the environmental destruction that would be caused by running a truck highway through Burns Bog in Delta. Includes footage of Opposition Leader Stephane Dion and just-elected Liberal MP Joyce Murray touring Burns Bog. The film also addresses an alternative route for the South Fraser Perimeter Road that would be far less envo=ironmentally destructive.

Help stop a very bad idea for the Upper Pitt River

This is not a dam
Run of River Inc.'s vision for the Upper Pitt
I went to an event on February 28 at the Ramada Inn in Pitt Meadows, but I'm not entirely sure what it was. I can tell you with certainty that the room was rented by Run of River Power Inc., a company based in Delta, BC. At the entrance, there were some friendly ladies taking the names and addresses of the attendees. Inside the room were maps and pictures about seven “run of river” or “independent power” projects that Run of River Power wants to implement in the Upper Pitt River watershed, north of Pitt Lake.

It was obvious to any of the 200 or so people who showed up that the purpose of this event was to sell the attendees on the benefits of these seven projects, which would put dams on most of the tributaries of the Upper Pitt River. The attendees included employees of two agencies of the Government of British Columbia, Parks BC and the Environmental Assessment Office. Their stated purpose for being there was to collect input from the public on what Run of River Power proposes to do.

To give you just one example of the input they received: “We want you to go away.” - Elaine Golds, Burke Mountain Naturalists

More silliness from the National Post

This time, it's from George Jonas instead of Terence Corcoran. Here's my response:

Editor, National Post;

With the publication of If you won't shoot, don't Taser by George Jonas (Nov. 24), the public discussion of the relationship of tobacco with death and disease has gone full circle.

People in Denial about this relationship have put considerable energy in identifying alternative causes for the many illnesses caused by tobacco; chlorine in swimming pools, x-rays, increased radiation in the environment, even “bad karma”. To relate just one of many cases I am familiar with, Californian Mary Herrin chose to identify her doctor as the cause of her two heart attacks, instead of her cigarette habit; Ms. Herrin died at the age of 58.

What Mr. Jonas has now given us, based on what he calls his own “mini-inquiry”, is that the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport was caused by Dziekanski's cigarette habit, not by over-eager use of tasers by the police. Jonas, however, was not willing to blame Dziekanski for his own addiction to cigarettes. Nor was he willing to blame the manufacturers of the cigarettes Dziekanski consumed, even though those manufacturers lied to the public for many years about the adverse effects of their products, including the addictive nature of them.

Instead, Jonas chose to blame “Big Nanny”.

This is silly nonsense. No “nanny”, big or small, deprived Dziekanski of the ability to communicate in either of Canada's official languages. No nanny separated him from the relatives he was supposed to meet at the airport. No nanny caused him to “create a disturbance”, attracting the attention of the police. No nanny caused the police to over-react.

George Jonas may well be looking for a big nanny to change his diapers for him. Good luck with finding a volunteer.

Robert Broughton